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Stockbury WI turns a page in libraries fight

By East Kent Gazette  |  Posted: November 23, 2011

LOCAL CHARACTERS: Stockbury WI, and friends, dressed as book characters in support of their mobile library GIPM20111110J-007_C

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BOOK characters came to life as villagers devised a unique way to support their library.

Stockbury WI, and a few specially-invited male guests, wore fancy dress and hugged the village's mobile library in celebration of the national Love Your Libraries campaign.

Peter Pan, Captain Hook and Wendy joined hands with Harry Potter, characters from Alice in Wonderland and others, and encircled the bus on its weekly visit to the village hall car park on Thursday, November 10.

WI branch chairman Mary Clarke, who dressed as Nancy from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, said: "One of the National Federation of Women's Institute's suggestions of ways to raise awareness of the situation was to join hands and hug your local library.

"Ours is the mobile library and we took it one step further by dressing up. It was huge fun. We had lots of laughs all getting dressed up and finding the right bits for our costumes. Then we had tea and homemade cake in the village hall."

Mrs Clarke said Stockbury WI ran a library in the village hall in the late 70s and early 80s and described libraries as being the centre of many communities, offering numerous services, including Internet connection.

Although she doesn't believe Stockbury's mobile library is at risk, Mrs Clarke said the WI organised the event to raise awareness of potential problems for public libraries throughout the country due to Government spending cuts.

"We think libraries are wonderful resources that should be there for everybody.

"It's very important that children read. During the event we saw parents with their children, reading away and really getting them used to reading and wanting to read.

"Stockbury is a very rural village, so not only is the mobile library service of value to villagers but it is also the means by which the Stockbury Book club gets the books for its members."

Costumes were donated by Wendy's Wardrobe and the group thanked the company.

The Love Your Libraries campaign was started by the NFWI, which believes up to 20 per cent of libraries in England are under threat because of cuts.

WIs across the country are aiming to collect a total of 100,000 signatures on a petition that will be presented to Prime Minister David Cameron. The NFWI hopes to trigger a House of Commons debate on the future of libraries.

For more details, including how to sign an online petition, go to www.thewi.org.uk and click on Campaigns.

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