Comment
On Thursday 30th June, the better part of a million public sector workers will be on strike.  It will be the turn of those in public libraries to do the same thing soon enough.  Southampton librarians are already striking.  The Public Libraries News logo, gratefully taken from the genius Phil Bradley, says “this time we are all in the front line”.  If there has ever been a time since the Second World War for such unified action it is now.  So, those who are striking tomorrow and have some spare time, boost our usage statistics, rediscover the wonderful thing in your town called a Library.  Help library staff now and we’ll return the favour by answering your question or by helping your mother get her essential books or by helping your child choose a book.  Don’t help out and we may not be there when you need us.
395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

News

  • As WiFi havens and E-book Centers, public libraries aren’t going away soonFast Company (USA).  Usage and tech increases in American libraries but budgets are flat or cut.
  • Celebrate the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature 2011 – Daily Telegraph.  This is a golden age for children’s writing and there is something uniquely important about the books we read as children: few subsequent reading experiences are quite so intense or engrave so deeply into your imagination. At a time when libraries are under threat it is even more important that the joys of reading are highlighted.”
  • Chaos LibraryArtists and Makers. A “pop-up library … All books are donated freely and may be borrowed by anyone who visits the library, wherever it pops up.”
  • Communities will benefit from Big Society if postcode is rightPublicNet.  “The Big Society is set to bring benefits to many communities across the country, but others will lose out. The losers are in the areas with limited community wealth such as volunteering… In a boost to the Government’s Big Society agenda, new polling by Ipsos Mori shows that there is an untapped well of people willing to get more involved in community work through staffing libraries, sharing skills or mentoring children.”

Importance of promotional activityVoices for the Library.   Promoting events in libraries can improve usage and thus make the library safer from closure, especially as councils often refer to changes in usage from previous year.  Libraries and campaigners can therefore promote events like the Summer Reading Challenge in order to sustain the current service.

“This research event will bring together a range of senior council staff, providers, social entrepreneurs, innovators, community groups, cultural service experts, community groups, academics and service designers. It will test how emerging best practice could be developed further to imagine the next generation of local library services and define a new role for community assets.” Libraries and community assets: ripping up the rulebook – New Local Government Network and May Gurney.  6th July event at the Design Council. 

  • Localism Bill, part one – BBC Democracy Live.  “The bill hands powers from central government to local councils and neighbourhoods, as part of the government’s Big Society agenda. The government says local communities will be given more control over housing and planning decisions, and the right to buy pubs, shops and libraries put up for sale.” 
  • Realising Community Wealth New Local Government Network.   £12 report (not seen)  uses research and polling to show that some areas may be more receptive for volunteers than others and many would be willing to staff libraries –  “In new heat maps illustrating Big Society resources, Barking & Dagenham and Harlow councils are least well placed to benefit from the Big Society, with the South West and North of England regions faring strongest.”
Save our libraries, fire the librarians – News Leader (USA). Article starts off questioning the need for a new library at the time of budget cuts then turns into probably the most bizarre mainstream article on librarians this year – “most librarians are little more than unionized pawns for the social-activist bosses of the American Library Association”, “an enforcer for ultraliberal sociopolitical cause”, “sided with terrorists to ban public debate”, ” vigorously promotes homosexuality and other [sic] deviant behavior by children”, “Our library has slanted bookshelves”.  The author chaired Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign in South Florida.

  • Visits to the library – Marcus Moore.   “Looking round, it was obvious that many of those using the library computers were regulars: ordinary folk who can’t afford expensive technology; those working away from home; students doing research.”
  • What librarians and Google are for – Phil Bradley’s Weblog.   Neat summary of the differences which will not be spoiled by summarising here.
  • WI members launch Love Your Libraries campaignThis is Somerset. “An army of women campaigners are being mobilised to fight for libraries across the West, in a new campaign being spearheaded by the Women’s Institute. Tens of thousands of members from Dorset to Gloucestershire have backed plans for the campaign, called Love Your Libraries, to fight individual council plans to close branches, cut opening hours or replace staff with volunteers.” 
  • Writer-in-Residence, with a twist – Nilam Ashra-McGrath.  “I am to be a Writer-In-Residence at Huddersfield Library for the next two weeks. But this is a residency with a twist. Instead of going out to schools and community groups to encourage reading, writing and the take up of library services, I’ll be writing about the experience of using the library and what it means for its members. This has been a personal project of mine for a while and I am in bits with excitement.”

Changes to Service

Ealing –  Mobile Library to go but no branch libraries to close, “Birth of Eve” picture sale of £570k to go to Libraries for Wifi and new computers, Library opening hours reduced by 25 per week, move to Trust or other model to be considered, “comprehensive” volunteer programme, some branches may be entirely “self-service”, 20 FTE library jobs to go. 

Local News

  • Brent – Mark Twain stamp released as fight continues to save Kensal Rise Library – Save Kensal Rise library.  “Kensal Rise Library was opened by Mark Twain as a gift to the people of Brent from All Soul’s College, Oxford. It was opened to encourage reading and raise child literacy levels, and it is for that reason that residents are fighting so hard to keep it open.”.  Mark Twain Museum (USA) supports efforts to save library.
  • Croydon – Lies, damned lies and statistics? A working model? Sanderstead Library Campaign. Relates to Voices for the Library post on promotion (above) – “Croydon has already experienced this decline in the breadth of activities on offer and in the promotion of its activities.  Calls to have events better advertised have been ignored so far.  Wrong or incomplete information is in circulation.”
  • Doncaster – Mayor critical as Miliband backs library closure protestStar.  “We will keep as many open as possible, working with the community. But we already have too many libraries in the borough. There are certainly some libraries where no-one has come forward as a community saying they are interested in keeping them open.”
  • Doncaster – Mayor Davies caught with his pants on fire againSave Doncaster Libraries. Mayor suggests he is (a) improving Central Library but no evidence of this and (b) bemoans lack interest in volunteer-run libraries as lack of interest in libraries, which is not the case.  In addition, the council has not made clear what, if any, support it would offer. 26,000 Doncaster people have signed petition to save their threatened libraries so far.
  • Ealing – Committee PapersEaling Council. Full proposals.- Mobile Library to go but no branch libraries. 
  • Ealing – Conservatives still worried about the future of Ealing LibrariesEaling Conservatives Press Release.  (Labour.) proposals suggest a “two tier” approach to libraries, with volunteers involved in some.  Unhappy with mobile library service going as 66% wanting it to stay (esp. nurseries where it stops). “Birth of Eve” painting should not have gone to supporting basic service.  “Whilst we welcome the reduction in the tiers of management, we deplore the reduction in customer facing staff in the libraries.”
  • Gloucestershire – Painswick library to be re-housed in the town hall – Stroud News & Journal.  “The original library building was closed in December 2009 on health and safety grounds, the town residents have been sourcing their books from a mobile library…formed a group of trustees, which includes professional librarians and people with a wide range of relevant experience in business, marketing, charity administration, law and the public sector.” 
  • Hampshire – Slimmed-down library ready to hit the road – Gazette.  13 mobile libraries cease from 4th July, £500k cut. 
  • Hertfordshire – Campaigner mobilises headteachers and MP against Borehamwood library cuts – Borehamwood Times.  Area of high deprivation should be cut less say local schools and James Clappison MP. “I want councillors to appreciate you cannot make these cuts without there being an impact on literacy.” says Louise Aldridge.
  • Isle of Wight – Volunteers “should not replace library workers” –  “Volunteers should supplement, but not replace, library provision on the Island, according to MP Andrew Turner”. 
  • Northern Ireland – Killyleagh library campaign use unique art formDown News. “The local library has a place in the social order and  sometimes we just don’t fully appreciate the importance of it. A library is a place where people meet socially too and this is an important function. So our library van is really a form of performance art, an expression about the experience of lending books.”
     
    “It’s not a smart move to close it down I believe”, passing  Dutch Pastor notices 
    Killyleagh Libraries campaign.  Northern Ireland – Save Killyleagh Library
    • Southampton – Council workers begin new strike – Library staff, refuse collectors, street cleaners, toll collectors and parking enforcement teams are walking out for seven days…. In February, councillors finalised budget cuts of £25m and said all workers earning more than £17,500, which is 65% of staff, would have their hours cut – resulting in a loss of pay.”.  All but one library closed by strike.
    • Suffolk – Rethink over future of Suffolk libraries – Haverhill Echo.  “Among the ten recommendations are that the distinction between ‘county’ and ‘community’ libraries should no longer apply, the role of mobile libraries should be made clear and that absolute clarity should be given to communities and groups interested in running a library.” 
    • Surrey – Communities need council libraries: join the lobbySave our services in Surrey.   “Join the lobby of the SCC Cabinet to save council libraries: Tuesday 26th July, 1pm, at County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston. Click here to download distributable flyers (PDF)”. 
    • Surrey – Group formed to fight Surrey library closures – Get Surrey.  Umbrella group formed – “Hands off Surrey Libraries group”. “Apart from the one representative of Surrey County Council management present, the meeting voted unanimously to oppose the council’s plans outright and to defend publicly owned and publicly run libraries across Surrey and to demand a full, open and transparent public consultation over the proposals.”
    • Wirral – Library plans a mistakeWirral Globe (Letters).   [Self-Service] “I feel the introduction of this system would make far more work for staff, as one only has to look at the supermarket self checkouts, a member of staff has to be on hand to sort out problems, and I feel that the proposed system for the library would make problems for older people and disabled.And, after all, a machine can’t smile at you or help with an enquiry as the staff do now”
    • Worcestershire – County Council has “no plans” to close Rubery Library – Bromsgrove Advertiser.   “As with all our libraries we are looking to see if the service can be run more efficiently, perhaps by sharing buildings with other organisations or getting the local community more involved.”