Sunday, 6 February 2011

The brilliance that is Bampton!

We had a superb "Save the Library" Read-in at Bampton yesterday. It is one of the 20 out of 43 up for closure in Oxfordshire. I rang the librarian a few weeks ago as soon as I knew about the 5th February national day and offered my services. At that point,they didn't have a support group. And by yesterday they had a loudhailer, stewards, bunting, clipboards,a rota, home-made cakes, a celebrity and lots of willing readers.

As soon as I parked up by the church (which you might have seen in Downton Abbey)I knew it was all going to be a resounding success. The little Cotswold stone building (which featured as the cottage hospital in Downton)was draped with bunting made by the local Primary schoolchildren. By the time I got to the entrance, the demonstrators had arrived from the Market Square and were being addressed through the loudhailer.

That was then handed to our celebrity, Kirsty Young,who is really engaging with village life. She did the first reading: Each, Peach, Pear, Plum by the Ahlbergs, which was enthusiastically joined in with by children of all ages.

During my stint, I urged users to follow the national advice for everyone to use their library cards to take out their full complement of books.The librarian (I had of course checked with her) had said that was twenty each. You can see how enthusiastically some of the teenagers took up this idea.

Apparently there were approximately 500 of us at the protest. 25 new members joined and they took as much in DVD fees as they normally do in a month. Lots of people read poems, including my friend Linda Newbery who is a new Oxfordshire resident. She read one about libraries written by schoolchildren in a workshop she had run.

At the end of the morning we joined hands round the building. The last time I did this was at the Albert Hall, Miss World ?1972! And I felt the same life-affirming spirit of solidarity behind a cause.It helped to know that events like this were happening all over the country.

And I shall be giving out my 48 copies of Sarah Waters' Fingersmith at Bampton Library on 5th March, World Book Night - watch this space!


Nicola Morgan said...

Lovely! I was at the Scottish Parliament and we had a great time, too. I thought the highlight was when Duncan Wright, School Librarian of the Year in 2010, with his 6-week-old baby Gregor in a sling, read the whole of gregor's current favourite book to the assembled audience. The book was called Animals and consisted of the text "Cow, dog, sheep..." etc. Someone shouted out "Don't spoil the ending". Gregor, I regret to say, remained asleep throughout. It was fab!

catdownunder said...

Hope you managed to get lots of publicity. Best of luck with the rest of the campaign as well!

Stroppy Author said...

Well done, Mary! Ours was less successful - perhaps because the library isn't under threat and people weren't as willing to engage to save our peoples' libraries? Which is sad.

One correction - they had two celebrities.

adele said...

That sounds fantastic, Mary!

Claire King said...

Well done on a great read-in. Did anyone read Matilda? That's what I would have chosen!

Baz Clack said...

Wasn't it a nice good hearted event for a vital cause? See our film this week on and thank you for everyone who attended and spoke to us!

Katherine Langrish said...

Well done Bampton!

Ms. Yingling said...

I am hoping for the best for libraries in the UK. We've had cuts in the US, but nothing like this. Good job at protesting!

Raj said...

How wonderful to see all that's being done to save libraries, they really should be more apprecaited!
Thanks so much for the comment, I'm a massive fan :)