Most library services are run by local authorities, which are having to save 29% of their budget over four years, with a larger proportion of the saving likely to fall in 2011/12. Libraries are vulnerable because many local authorities do not appear to see them as a high priority. Even though libraries may not close, they may find their staff reduced and their book funds cut.
The CWA, which represents the interests of published crime writers, say that with 321.5million visits to UK libraries in 2009-10 alone, it is crucial that authors help them to survive and thrive. Crime is the most borrowed genre from UK libraries.
The association already runs the annual Young Crime Writers Competition exclusively through libraries, acknowledging the role that they play in encouraging young people to read. CWA members also hold a large number of meet-the-author sessions. In addition, the CWA organises National Crime Writing Week, which will this year run between June 13 and 19, and again involves events and readings in libraries. The winner of the Young Crime Writers Competition will be announced during the week.
The CWA campaign includes asking all its members to consider staging at least three events in their local library each year and establishing co-ordinators who can help libraries to contact authors for events. CWA members will be approaching their local libraries to discuss the campaign and the CWA is talking to publishers to seek their support.
CWA Chair, the best-selling crime novelist Peter James, said: “We feel it is not enough to say that we oppose cuts to libraries. We want to do more, to offer practical help to libraries in their hour of need, hence our programme of initiatives to raise their profile. We feel passionate about libraries and want to do everything that we can to help in these difficult times. Libraries have been very good to the crime writers of the UK and we wish to acknowledge that through our campaign.”