The National Library Campaign


mauricesendakposters9There’s good news out of Lincolnshire today!

A judicial review has firmly quashed plans for library cuts in the county, which has good implications for all us campaigning to keep our libraries open.

Lincolnshire County Council had planned (much like Devon County Council) to pass 30 libraries over to volunteers and community groups, with only 15 larger “library hubs” still staffed by the council. It was contested by Library Campaigners on these four grounds:

* That the consultation held on the proposed library cuts was unlawful, as a decision had already been taken.

* That the council failed to ensure that harm caused by their decision would be prevented, as required by the Equality Act.

* That the council failed to properly consider a bid to run the service from not-for-profit Greenwich Leisure Limited.

* That if the cuts go ahead, the county’s library service will no longer be comprehensive and efficient, breaching statutory requirements.

We hope this court decision makes all the other councils trying to cut library services around the country nervous indeed, particular as it follows Somerset’s success in stopping cuts through legal action too.

The Bookseller has a good article on the decision here.

The art above is by Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party


photo 1(1)

Photographs from the party by Lin Copeland.

Above, before the party starts. The long tea table is set with vintage tablecloths and flowers in old teapots, and strewn with Alice in Wonderland quotes. (Party design by Rachel Basham.) Community groups are setting up tables around the edges of the room showing their support for Chagford Library.

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Above, just some of the many cakes, cookies, tarts and scones donated by bakers in our community, served on vintage china.


Above, top row: The door to the library. Andy Letcher playing bagpipes while the Dormouse heads for the library followed by three small girls all dressed as Alice.

Middle row: Chagword (Dartmoor’s Literary Festival) and the Chagford Swimming Pool are among the groups and organisations gathered to show support for the library.

Bottom row: Photos from the Extreme Reading Photo Competition (co-sponsored by The Mess Youth Centre); and a story about the importance of libraries contributed by storyteller Dan Worsley (with space on the board around it for people to add their own stories).

More photos to come.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party


Tea Party photos by Ann Higgens

Five photos from the day sent in by Friends member Ann Higgens — who was part of the hardworking “Pack of Cards” running the kitchen. (Thank you, kitchen team!)

Above, top left: The King of Hearts (Peter Shields). Top right: The Duchess and her Consort (Susan Harley & Neil Tappenden) photographed by Carol Amos, with violinist Becky Doe on stage in the background. Bottom left: Andy Letcher, who kicked off the party with with his pipes. Bottom right: Jenny & Steve Dooley in their top hats.

More tea party photos to come. (If you have any you’d like to share, please sent them to:

A Magical Cake for Chagford Library


photo(1)Here’s a picture of the utterly amazing “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” cake made by Diana Dench and raffled off on Saturday to raise money for the “Save Our Library” campaign.

Every single part of this cake is edible — including the books and tea cup. Click on the picture to see a larger version of this delicious work of art.

Photograph by Ann Higgens.



This Is Our Corner (1872) Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (The Netherlands_UK 1836-1912)

Please consider becoming a Friend of Chagford Library, if you haven’t done so already.

Membership subscriptions (£2 for individuals, £3 for families) help us to support the library and aid the “Save Our Library” campaign. Membership is open to all. More details here.

The art above is by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)



Mad Hatters 180

Schedule of events:

2:00: The Hall opens. Let there be cake!
3:00: Mad Hat Competition judging, Jubilee Hall. Bounce & Rhyme in the Library.
3:30 Extreme Reading Photo Competition judging, Jubilee Hall.

Come see a book of letters & drawings about the library created by Chagford school children, the results of the Extreme Reading photo competition, and displays by over a dozen community groups who have come together to support the library.

Live music:
Andy Letcher on bagpipes, to open the event
Becky Doe & Howard Gayton, on violin & guitar

Wear a “mad hat,” full fancy dress, or just come as you are!
Need a costume? We’ll have a few available on the day, both children and adult sized.

Admission, plus tea & cake, is FREE.

(Donations to the “Save Chagford Library” campaign are welcome.)

Amnesty poster

NEW LIBRARY MEMBERS: It’s easy to get a card if you live in Devon. You don’t need to bring documentation with you; just speak to Erica in the library and fill out a simple information form. Let’s get as many people signed up as possible!

RIDES OFFERED: If you know anyone who would like to attend but has difficulty with mobility due to age or infirmary, please contact us (contact info on the poster). There are volunteers willing to give rides to and from the event.


Costumes provided by the Chagford Pantomime, Jennifer Gayton, & William Todd-Jones; comestibles by the Chagford community; poster art & design by David Wyatt; and book binding (for the children’s letters & drawings) by Rima Staines.

The ‘Books for Prisoners’ campaign



Today, the writers of English PEN have joined with The Howard League on Penal Reform for an unusually dramatic protest at Westminster: they are holding up books (copies of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime And Punishment) and bearing silent witness while Justice Secretary Chris Grayling faces questions from the justice select committee.

It’s the latest in a series of events organised to promote the Books For Prisoners campaign, which is calling on ministers to overturn the new rules in which prisoners cannot receive books from friends and family. (They may only read books from prison libraries, which tend to be poorly stocked and rarely open due to budget cuts.)

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “This dignified show of support for our campaign highlights the distress that has been caused by the draconian Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme in prisons. It is a policy that requires urgent review. As families and friends are now forbidden from sending basic items into prison, prisoners are lying in overcrowded cells, wearing dirty clothes, with nothing to do and possibly not even a book to read.

“When leading authors asked for an opportunity to raise their concerns over this issue, the Justice Secretary refused to meet with them. It is regrettable that it takes a concerted display of Dostoyevsky novels to get his attention at a time when there is growing unrest in prison and an alarming rise in suicides behind bars.”

Leading writer Kathy Lette, who supports the campaign, said: “Books are not a ‘reward’ but a staple, like bread and water. I feel passionately about giving prisoners access to books not just because I come from convict stock but also because I left school at 16, so books have been my education.

“Reading is the route to self-improvement and a way out of crime. In a country which gave the world our best writers, from Shakespeare and Dickens to Austen and JK Rowling, depriving prisoners of books is pathetically philistine.”

Lette was in Chagford last year as a speaker at the Chagword literary festival.