February 5, 2011, was “Save Our Libraries Day“ in Great Britain. Save Our Libraries Day was declared by CLILP, the British Library Association, following the news that government budget cuts threaten the existence of 450 libraries. “Libraries are the oxygen of democracy“ as was stated in a video in which angry citizens advocate to keep the libraries open. The press reported on Save Our Libraries activities, and the Guardian’s website published a map with individual listings of all events. In all, more than 80 protests took place across the country, and thousands of people took part in the three major events in Yorkshire, Croydon and Doncaster. Booksellers also supported the campaign, creating a Facebook page that already has 3,000 followers. One county council is offering local groups the option of bidding for grants and then running the libraries themselves on a voluntary basis, a suggestion that found little support. Nor did the suggestion made by a group of American commercial library operators make citizens (and library staffs) happy: the group offered to run the libraries in the future and offer the same services at less cost.
Perhaps this is a good time to report that Germany’s “Word of the Year“ is Wutbürger (angry citizens), a word primarily used in the context of the planned remodeling of Stuttgart’s central train station. This urban development project, now well-familiar as “Stuttgart 21”, has enraged the citizenry far beyond Stuttgart’s city limits, and has been in the headlines for months now in Germany – in the press, and on television, Twitter and Facebook. If one considers what a blow the closing of such a large number of libraries would mean, it can only be hoped that Wutbürger in Great Britain will become equally as involved as Germans did in opposing "Stuttgart 21".