Public libraries are today on the front page and second page of the Financial Times who do an excellent overview (especially, of course, as Public Libraries News is quoted in it) of the situation in public libraries.  The Telegraph mentions that libraries seem to be figuring highly in the Index of Happiness. The Mail mentions the law that may prevent councils selling Victorian buildings like libraries.  The Independent looks on in shocked horror at what is happening to libraries (and every other council service) in Bury. The public services union, Unison, has an article on libraries.  In fact, it’s only (disregarding the Times which has effectively abstained from public debate by raising a paywall) really the Guardian that’s missing – and, being they have been the staunchest supporters of libraries for months, they probably frankly need the rest.  It’s wonderful to see reports from all sides of the political spectrum supporting libraries.  It bodes interestingly for the May 5th Election. An election, sadly, that will come too late for one library this week – ladies and gentlemen, raise a toast in sad farewell for Foggy Furze Library in Hartlepool set to close on Saturday.

Voices for the Library have released today some hitherto confidential and internal reports from the MLA on the state of libraries in northern England.   Have a look, there’s good news as well as bad.  Being recently used to bad news, I have instinctively added the “bad” comments first to the authorities list (link on the right of this page) and will add the “good” comments shortly.

495 libraries (428 buildings and 67 mobiles) currently under threat or recently closed/left council control out of 4517 in the UK
Legal challenges are being prepared/under way in Brent, CamdenGloucestershire, Isle of Wight, Lewisham and Somerset.  In addition, a judical review has been called about the Culture Secretary’s failure to comply with his legal duties at a national level.  Your help is needed to gather as much evidence as possible, from anywhere in the country, to demonstrate councils are breaching their legal duty – please email after reading this blog post from Voices For The Library.

Hartlepool – Foggy Furze Library closes on Saturday (£47500 cut). Throston Grange Library to merge with Throston community centre.  West View Library was under threat but is now apparently saved.

National News
19th century law may save London libraries – London Evening Standard “I bet there’s between 50 and 100 libraries in London where this legislation will apply.”
Big Society book-swap plan under fire – Financial Times (Page 2)
Coffee and a park: the British recipe for happiness? – Telegraph “And in what could be seen as a warning to David Cameron, who has championed the creation of the well-being index while also overseeing unprecedented cuts to state spending, many of the suggestions of things that improve happiness involved public services such as libraries and municipal parks.”
Libraries campaign continues to grow – UNISON “In Focus”
Library closure row escalates: Government criticised by campaigners and property professionals – PropertyWeek
Library sales to backfire: council cutbacks could be hampered by 150 year old law – Mail
Library sell-offs fall foul of Victorian statute book – Financial Times (Front Page)
MLA assessments on local authorities in the North of England – Voices For The Library
Sweeping privatisation without a democratic mandate – Independent “As we report today, Bury Council’s plans for the privatisation of local services are revolutionary in their scope. Every service provided by the council – from libraries, to youth groups, to social work, to rubbish collection – is to be put up for sale.”
Turning his back on the family is a betrayal David Cameron will regret – Telegraph “I doubt, however, whether the Labour leader sees himself as the Mandela of the save-our-libraries campaign.”
Worried mums talk library closures – BabyCentre

Local News
Brent – Ex Waterstone’s boss slams Brent Council’s plan to close 6 libraries – Willesden & Brent Times It is amazing to come to a building that is so beautiful. How anyone could imagine that you would shut a place like this is beyond a joke.” (some more on this at Tim Coates’ blog)
Bury: privatising public services – Independent “Its recent round of cuts – which threaten to devastate Bury’s youth services and care for vulnerable adults while taking an axe to library services for the housebound, education advisers, school-improvement partners and lollipop ladies – is only the start of a programme”
Cheshire West and Chester – Wharton gets connected with council services – Winsford Guardian  ““We plan to roll out the [videophone] technology to a total of 15 libraries over the next year, so this pilot scheme will be vital in shaping how we go about that.”
Dorset – Protesters use tank in march against the [£5m] new council offices – Dorset Echo  ““This £5million is particularly irrational as DCC is simultaneously seeking to strip £800,000 a year from the 20 smaller Dorset libraries – probably causing some to shut forever.”
Gateshead – Gateshead lands Warhammer 40000 club – Chronicle
Gloucestershire – FoGL march for the alternative – FoGL “Judging by the placards and banners I saw, and conversations I had, there was a lot of love for libraries amongst the some 500,000 marchers!”
Hartlepool – [Foggy Furze] library set to close – Peterlee Mail – set to close this weekend.
Liverpool – Paul McCartney backs library stars plan – WalesOnline