A lot of people in the UK are very unhappy right now. Well, "unhappy" is probably understating the case: try angry, livid, rioting.
Last year, we had a general election. There was no clear winner, resulting in a hung parliament. The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, opted to stick with his pre-election promise of forming a coalition government with the other of the two parties holding a slight majority over the other. (he has since reneged on a number of his other pre-election promises, but this isn't a post on politics, strictly, so we'll politely draw a veil over that for now). As a result, the UK is now governed by a Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition government.
There are people in the UK who feel cheated, not least because this isn't really the government we elected. What has been most shocking about this new government is the speed at which it has shown willing to lay waste to important public services, cutting services and funding left, right and centre; swinging a sharp scythe from everything from University research funding, to funding for charities, to social benefits and education.
Were I to list all of the things the government has stated its intention to cut, I would be here all night typing the list, and you would be here all day reading it. It would rub my fingers down to the marrow to type it, and your eyes to melt with the injustice of it all. Suffice to say that the effects of these cuts are going to hurt the most vulnerable people in UK society, and the ones who need the most help: disadvantaged communities, children and young people with learning disabilities, and those who aspire to better themselves by going to university.
Day after day, more bad news comes. It began with the government announcing that people would be expected to work 37 hours a week in return for subsistance level social assistance, seven or so months ago. Soon after that, huge public sector spending cuts - and the loss of 200,000+ jobs - including those of teachers, social workers, and public servants, were predicted. Then it was announced that University tuition fees were to increase by 200%, starting in academic year 2012; and, soon after, that people with physical and learning disabilities were no longer to receive the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance - a benefit which allows people with disabilities to get around. Without this, many people are likely to be confined within their own homes.
It's like the horror never ends. Every morning, British citizens turn on their TVs and unfold their newspapers with a sense of impending doom, never quite knowing what to expect next. Every day brings fresh horror, and today, it seems, they are after our libraries.
Local authorities have been handed down massive budget cuts by this government, and no public sector services are left untouched. From leisure centres to social services, every council in the UK is making unwanted cuts to the services its local populace needs. Many are looking to their library services; trying to reduce library hours, and even closing some libraries altogether. In a time when education is becoming more expensive, it hardly seems fair that people should even have the opportunity to borrow books taken away from them.
All around the country, people are protesting against proposed closures and cuts in services. The UK population - normally a citizenship of quiet, unassuming, stoic shopkeepers - are showing their dissent in ever more impressive and creative ways. In Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, library members mobilised to take out every single book in the library, to show the council that there was demand for the service; and all over the country, library members are staging everything from read-ins to author events.
It is frightening to know that our government considers our public services so incidental that they can be cut with little consultation or warning. At the same time, it's exciting to see that so many care so much that they are willing to think of new ways to protect what they care about.
If you were to protest against a library closure, how would you do it?