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The Big Issue and Library Champion Bobby Seagull bring the case for library funding to Parliament

14 October 2019  
Posted by: Gus MacDonald
The Big Issue and Library Champion Bobby Seagull bring the case for library funding to Parliament

At a Parliamentary event at the House of Lords today, The Big Issue and Library Champion Bobby Seagull will join forces with CILIP, the UK library association, to make the case for long-term sustainable funding for libraries.

The event, which will be attended by Members of Parliament, Member of the House of Lords and senior Civil Servants, will focus on the launch of two new campaign documents:

  • A new joint CILIP/The Big Issue report Public Libraries: The Case for Support, which brings together for the first time the best currently-available evidence of the positive impact of libraries on their users, communities, locality and local economy, alongside stories from library users about their experiences and;
  • A new 10-point Manifesto for Libraries, produced by Library Champion Bobby Seagull and CILIP, setting out the call for Government to recognise the wider value of libraries and librarians in areas such as health, education, business and policymaking.

Public Libraries: The Case for Support draws on research and evidence from the British Library, Carnegie UK Trust, CIPFA and others to highlight the transformative impact of public libraries on:

  • Place-shaping and inclusive economic growth
  • Education, informal learning and skills
  • Health, wellbeing and social care
  • Digital skills and getting online
  • Enterprise and business support
  • Poverty prevention, social mobility and social isolation

The report is further strengthened by personal statements from public library users about the transformative impact of libraries, books and reading on their lives, using the hashtag #WhyBooksMatter.

Speaking on the day of the launch event, CILIP CEO Nick Poole commented, “We could not be more delighted to be working with Lord Bird and his colleagues at The Big Issue and with our tireless Library Champion Bobby Seagull to bring the case for long-term funding for libraries to Parliament.

We welcome the news of the Government’s commitment to a new £250m investment in the Culture Investment Fund, of which 50% is to be allocated to library and museum sector development. However, the overall financial situation for Local Government remains precarious. We must ensure that in addition to this welcome new investment, we see a firm commitment to ongoing revenue funding through Councils in the forthcoming Queens Speech.”

Chair of the Libraries APPG Gill Furniss commented, “Libraries and librarians make a powerful difference in many sectors, including health, education, local services and supporting local business and enterprise. Today’s event is a celebration of the positive impact of public libraries and a recognition that we need long-term sustainable investment to secure ensure that libraries are there for the many, not just the few.”

Lord Bird MBE, co-chair of the Libraries APPG, commented, “Public libraries are palaces of the people, supporting reading, literacy and learning at every stage of people’s lives. #WhyBooksMatter has been a brilliant opportunity to hear from the people who matter most - the public - about why they value their libraries. I’m proud that The Big Issue and CILIP have joined forces to create this new report, giving politicians and policy-makers the evidence needed to make the case for further investment in our much-loved local libraries.”

Library Champion Bobby Seagull commented, “Last week, we celebrated Libraries Week with tens of thousands of people up and down the country getting involved in digital activities in their library. This week, I am proud to bring the case for long-term sustainable funding for libraries in all sectors to Westminster. We want to inspire and enthuse politicians of all parties with the amazing, life-changing work that libraries do across the length and breadth of the nation, every single day.”

Steve Potash of Rakuten OverDrive commented, "OverDrive is proud to be the sole corporate sponsor of this important new report from CILIP and The Big Issue. OverDrive is dedicated to "a world enlightened by reading" and works every day to aid the essential mission of libraries and librarians to promote literacy, education, and digital skills. We urge politicians to get behind this Case for Support to secure the long- term future of this critical sector."

CILIP is encouraging everyone who supports their local library to sign up to become a Library Champion like Bobby Seagull at, the new advocacy platform for public libraries in England.

Read the full report at:

CILIP, the library and information association, is the leading voice for the information, knowledge management and library profession. Our goal is to put information and library skills and professional values at the heart of a democratic, equal and prosperous society. CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014.

2. Rakuten OverDrive
OverDrive is the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide. Named one of PCMag’s Best Free Software of 2019 and one of TIME's Best Apps of 2018, the award-winning Libby is the "one-tap reading app" for libraries. We are dedicated to “a world enlightened by reading” by delivering the industry’s largest catalogue of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and other digital media to a growing network of 43,000 libraries and schools in 76 countries. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten.

3. Bobby Seagull
Bobby Seagull is a mathematician, teacher and writer. He appeared on the television programme University Challenge in 2017, and in 2018 on Monkman & Seagull’s Genius Guide to Britain. The second BBC Monkman & Seagull's Genius Guide series is out later this autumn. His second book, The Life-Changing Magic of Numbers, was published by Virgin Books in 2018. View Bobby’s 10-point Manifesto for Libraries at

Published: 15 October 2019

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