Kenilworth bookshop staff write to Prime Minister with concerns over UK library closures

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Staff at a Kenilworth bookshop have written an open letter to the Prime Minister on the danger facing public libraries and the country’s literacy levels.

Tamsin Rosewell and Judy Brook of Kenilworth Books in Talisman square decided to write the letter to Theresa May because of the ‘creeping’ amount of library closures in the UK.

They were also worried sweeping closures of libraries would stop creating new readers, which could affect the literacy levels of future generations.

Tamsin said: “There’s been closure after closure and job losses after job losses. Schools don’t have enough money for new books.

“It’s a really essential thing for the future of this country and for literacy.

“We had a little boy coming in who said his school library recommended a new book to him by children’s author SF Said.

“He loved it, and he’s now coming into the bookshop buying everything he’s written.”

Enclosed with the letter was a copy of ‘The Last of the Spirits’ by Chris Priestly because they felt its subject matter was relevant to what has been happening to libraries.

In the open letter, Tamsin and Judy wrote: “As well as being a really wonderful read, The Last of the Spirits shows us very clearly where the path dictated by ignorance can lead.

“Today we use the word ‘ignorance’ as an insult, in our vernacular it has come to be something more like wilful stupidity.

“However, its true meaning has more to do with illiteracy, inexperience and unfamiliarity. Ignorance is something against which we can guard – and libraries are the guardians.”

Although there have not been plans to close Kenilworth’s library, staff have been cut at Warwickshire libraries in recent years, and other local authorities have decided to close many of theirs.

Northamptonshire County Council is planning to close up to 21 of its libraries in the near future, which provoked a strong response from many authors in the county.

And notable children’s author Philip Pullman, most famous for the ‘His Dark Materials’ trilogy, claimed ministers were ‘philistines’ for allowing so many libraries to close.

When asked whether she was worried about Kenilworth Library’s future, Tamsin added: “We’d be foolish to assume we’re safe here. Libraries all over the country are being shut.”

The letter in full can be seen here