Another round of cuts has been announced by the council, and another attack on our public services is being rolled out – well enough is enough, let us throw a spanner in their works and save our libraries.
We won’t be able to stop all the cuts at once, the only way to do that would be a change of administration in Parliament, and in local government – even then it would take weeks, months or even years for the budget and the policy to trickle down, arguably you wouldn’t start feeling the effects until the next financial year (by then it could be too late).
We need to be against all the cuts, but if we fight to stop all cuts we run the risk of stopping none. We have to pick and choose our battles, and we have to fight the battles we stand a chance of winning. Otherwise we are setting ourselves up for failure and the more long term negative effect of demoralisation. If we win small battles, if we win some battles and reverse some cuts, it weakens the position of cuts, and it strengthens our own hand, it makes us feel empowered, and when we are empowered, we are strong.
Chip away at the cuts, slowly but surely undermine the position through a series of smaller victories. The cuts to libraries is a battle we could win, it has been won before, and it can be won again. Why? Because it effects so many different people, it brings together a community, and they can galvanise around it, it is tangible – it is in your face. It should be the focus, the vanguard in our war against the local cuts.
We have to put forward the position that we are opposed to the cuts in principal, but if we spread ourselves too thin, the message is more diluted, and it is harder to get a tangible victory. Focus all our energies and resources on a single campaign, like libraries, campaign around stopping the closure of the libraries, while having the general anti-cut message in the background and at least then we stand the chance of claiming a victory. Even if the only victory we end up claiming is stopping the closure of the libraries, we will have made a difference to a community. There are other positives as this helps create the campaigning infrastructure for future battles, the community links that are needed in any campaign, provides valuable experience and helps empower people.
So how do we move that forward?
1. A county wide response
Unity is strength, if the library campaigns are isolated they are easier to defeat – their needs to be a county wide response, a coordinated effort. Local groups need to be linked up and supporting one another in the communities battle to save their library
2. Raise awareness
People can’t get angry about something they don’t know about, we need to use all the available methods to raise awareness, social media campaigns, stickers, posters and petitions. Every possible way to raise awareness has to be explored, and the more innovative the better.
We love us a good protest and as part of a wider anti-cuts strategy it can play a pivotal part of showing our strength, and the opposition towards the closure. These can be at council meetings, and outside our libraries, and of course a speaker or two would be great.
4. Direct action
If we are going to draw a line in the sand and so no closures, we have to do more than a two hour protest, and we have to do more than a petition. We have to make it politically impossible for them to close the libraries, these means getting wider community support, but it also means making it as difficult as possible for them. Direct action has to be the way forward, occupy our libraries, carry out read ins, make it colourful, make it fun, make it innovative but most of all make it engaging so that more people get involved in the campaign.
5. Local support, local led
These campaigns have to be led from within the community or they will fail, every community has unsung heroes, and leaders waiting in them. If these campaigns are not coming from within the community, they won’t succeed, identify local leaders, and have as many local people not just involved in the campaign, but running the campaign as possible.
Get angry, get involved, get organised – save our libraries!