Ben Wilkinson of the Oxford Mail writes:
CAMPAIGNERS are aiming to collect 2,000 signatures to fight plans to close their library.
And the supporters of the campaign to save Botley Library, in Oxford, are already a fifth of the way towards their target after signing up 400 readers and shoppers on Saturday.
Oxfordshire County Council wants to remove funding from 20 of the county’s 43 libraries to save £2m over four years. It has called on charities and volunteers to run libraries instead with some council cash support.
But those battling the cuts in Botley have vowed to knock on every door in the area, and present the signatures to county Council leader Keith Mitchell.
Conservative Mr Mitchell has said petitions would “not be effective” as the council does not have enough cash to keep the libraries open. But campaigner organiser Neil Clark said opponents of the move would carry on regardless.
He said: “Mr Mitchell said there is no point in doing petitions. We are going to show him what democracy is about. “It is not a waste of time and we are going to get as many signatures as we can.”
“Libraries make up 0.7 per cent of the budget, which is a pilfering amount in the scheme of things. I do not accept they need to be cut. It is ideological; it is not about cuts at all. You cannot put a value on what Botley Library means to this community.”
Among those who signed the petition was Arthur Fisher, 95, from Sweetmans Road, who has lived in Botley for 65 years. He said: “The library is absolutely vital to me and my family. It is our oasis of culture. “The library service is part of our national culture. If people did not read books civilisation would be finished.”
Pensioner Joan Clark, of Hurst Rise Road, agreed, saying: “It is the last place that should be cut.”
Jane Hogg, 42, from Elms Rise, Botley, who takes her six-year-old daughter Stella to the library, said: “I do not see it as our job to say where cuts should be made. “It is important to stand up for our democratic right to access our local library.”
Bernardine Walton, 53, from Cumnor, has used the service for 27 years and said her father-in-law, Lawrence Walton, 94, was dependent on the service. She said: “He does not have good sight so he depends on talking books.”
In 1998 campaigners saved Botley Library from closure after collecting 2,600 signatures.
The Oxford Mail reported yesterday that Headington Library campaigner Sarah Eddie has given a 2,374-signature petition against that library’s closure, to County Hall.