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!