Yesterday worked out really well (though my day had a slightly dodgy start as the train I was on kept setting off the internal fire extinguishers in the engine!). A group of school librarians were gathering at Victoria Embankment Gardens on a gentle autumn day to Lobby Parliament. People had travelled from all over - some setting out at ridiculously early times, or even staying locally the night before. SLA was officially represented by Lin Smith (Chair), Lesley Martin (SLA Board) and me - though it was great to see so many of our members there and willing to people the barricades! It was fantastic too, that so many authors and illustrators took the time to come and support - many taking pictures, blogging and talking to their MPs. Some of those attending included Mary Hoffman (Book Maven Blog),Philip Ardargh (see Facebook pages), Sarah McIntyre (Jabberwoks Blog), Chris Priestley, Dave Cryer, Candy Gourlay (fantastic photographs), Francesca Simon.
We were issued with our fantastic t shirts - courtesy of MLS - with an inspiring logo, and then set off to walk the short distance to Old Palace Yard, and then into the Houses of Parliament. It was interesting to see people's reaction as we marched - and handed out 'Support for School Libraries' flyers. Families happily took flyers, many of the tourists were slightly bemused to see the demonstration and we were photographed many, many times!
Arriving at Parliament, and with the rain now threatening, the Police organised it so that we could enter the precincts early - and directed us to the cafe to wait for our various appointments. Many of those present had already arranged to meet with their MP, those who hadn't issued a green card to theirs and waited to see if their MP was free (several high profile MPs were carded in this way - Michael Gove amongst them, and David Cameron). We had a meet with Justin Tomlinson - Swindon North MP - who is supportive and encouraging in the process of getting school libraries the recognition they deserve. (He is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries so has a genuine interest in libraries.)
The results from the day are positive - an APPG Libraries enquiry to collect impact evidence for school libraries, an Early Day Motion promise and lots of MPs promising support. Watch the Lobby Facebook page to keep up to date, and keep on writing to your MPs and attending their surgeries - the more exposure we can generate the more impact the campaign will have.
And finally, huge thanks and congratulations to Barbara Band and Elizabeth Bentley and their small team for their work bringing this all together - it's not easy to get all the elements to work together but a really successful day was created.
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