Solidarity with Lambeth Libraries

From The Bookseller:

British “Bridge of Spies” actor Mark Rylance, who won Best Supporting Actor at 2016’s BAFTA awards last night (14th February), has spoken out in support of a campaign to save Lambeth’s libraries from closure.

Rylance, a resident of Lambeth for the past 30 years, called libraries the “fabric of our communities” as he joined in opposition to the council’s plans to privatise the services. Lambeth plans to close five out of 10 of the borough’s libraries in April and replace employees with volunteers.

Lambeth Unison members went on strike last Monday (8th February) to protest proposals to turn half of Lambeth’s libraries into “library service points”, with minimal book and computer provisions and no staff. Three libraries – Minet, Carnegie and Tate South – are set to be gifted to leisure centre operator GLL to be run as gyms.

Rylance, in support of Green Party councillor Scott Ainslie, issued a statement condemning the closures from the USA, where he is currently starring on Broadway.

He said: “As a resident of Brixton, Camberwell and Herne Hill, since 1986, I support the campaign to save our neighbourhood libraries. They are part of the fabric of our communities. I am sure it is true that libraries need to evolve, and I understand our libraries are evolving very successfully.

“To sell them off to private interests is a betrayal of the wishes of someone like Mr. Carnegie who educated himself out of extreme poverty as an immigrant in America. How did he do that? At a library. He donated over two thousand libraries all over the world and gave away nearly all of his $400m, because of his awareness of the importance of free education in his own hard life.

“Many of the greatest men and women in world history have been born into the difficult conditions of poverty, exile, etc… Public libraries are a place for these very important people to find themselves and flourish into the leaders we so urgently need now and in the future.”

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