Library emptied in bid to fight closure


Ellen Branagh,Press Association
Saturday 15 January 2011 12:42 GMT

A town has emptied its library in a bid to fight plans to close it down.

People in Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, have spent the week withdrawing their maximum allowance of books in protest against council plans to close it as part of budget cuts.

And today they said the plan had been a success, with all 16,000 books withdrawn from the library.

Today, as they celebrated the empty shelves, Emily Malleson from Friends of Stony Stratford Library (FOSSL) said they were amazed at how everyone in the town had pulled together.

She said it was calculated that books were being checked out at a rate of around 378 per hour - smashing the usual rates.

"A local resident mentioned the idea, maybe as a bit of a joke, but we thought it was a great idea so we put it to FOSSL," she said.

"I went home, put it on Facebook and emailed everyone I could think of and it's just gone absolutely mad."

They planned to start the campaign on Wednesday, but keen supporters of the library started taking books out the week before.

And in just over a week, the shelves were emptied, with the final books withdrawn yesterday.

"People were going in last night to get books and there weren't any left, "she said.

"I think it's a very simple but clever idea and it's given something that people can act on and make their voice heard.

"It shows it's such an important part of the community and well-used by everyone and not just for books - for DVDs, computers, spoken work.

"The amount of support is just staggering."

More than 500 supporters have joined a Facebook page and there is also a written petition and an online petition against the proposed closure.

The planned cuts are part of efforts by Milton Keynes Council to save more than £26 million in 2011/12 with extra cumulative savings of £30 million during the three years from 2012/13.

The final budget is due to be decided by the council on February 22.

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