It's not just Mubarak's police state that tries to silence writers. Ian McMillan, presenter of the Verb on Radio 3, has been banned from running a creative writing workshop at Upperthorpe library in Sheffield, the SINTO blog reports. There's no justification given on Sheffield council's website.
It is curious that this should happen in Sheffield , the city which hosted, with full support from the council, the founding conference of the Library Campaign in the 1980s.
This is extraordinarily stupid. Councillors and senior officers are reported to fear that he may make 'political comments'. I should hope he would. If Sheffield councillors were to bother to go into a library, instead of spending their time trying to close them, they would find Dewey class 320 devoted to a great deal of political debate, to say nothing of the 330s, fiction and poetry sections, and so on. An important reasons why the movement to save libraries has gathered such momentum is that libraries have such an important place in our lives, including our political lives, arsenals of the democratic culture," as Sidney Ditzion described them.
Fortunately, Sheffield library users and workers are taking this in their stride and are organising a mass shush-in at 11 am on Saturday 5th February, part of the national day of action to save libraries. One very much hopes that the council will rescind the ban on Ian.
I give the last word to Ian himself, 'Libraries are a vital and irreplaceable part of a cultured and civilised society, and one of the few public places left where you don't have to pay to get in...'