Comment

Julia Donaldson, the new Children’s Laureate, is to make saving public libraries one of her key tasks over the next two years.  She will be visiting threatened libraries, doing author visits in libraries rather than schools and even, perhaps doing a library tour from Land’s End to John O’Groats.  She sounds like exactly the sort of person that we need doing the job at the moment.  More power to her, especially as the person who should be championing libraries, Ed Vaizey, continues, in the words of the Penguin children’s MD, to be “woolly” on the subject. This, as the next sentence (in bold, with the big number at the start of it) shows, is the last thing we need.
 
453 libraries (384 buildings and 69 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”)

News

All aboard for National BookStart Week this June – BookStart.
Back from the fieldWalk you home.   Lauren Smith from Voices for the Library about her experiences for the cause at Hay.
Donaldson puts libraries centre stage - BookSeller.  New children’s laureate Julia Donaldson will focus on public libraries, visiting threatened Whithorn Library in ten days’ time.
Gruffalo creator Julia Donaldson is new childrens’ laureate – Guardian.   “In recent months she has flung herself into the campaign to save libraries, leading a protest meeting at the Scottish parliament, signing petitions, and turning up at readings in libraries in Scotland and England.”.  Also reported by BBC as Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson is childrens’ laureate.  Her aims in the new job are suggested for her at What should the new children’s laureate do (Guardian).  Julia has been on record for a while in support of libraries, for instance her message at Voices for the Library and her appearance on BBC on 5/2/11 on saving libraries.
John Berger, Julia Donaldson the children’s laureate – Front Row, BBC Radio 4, 1.20 to 6,50 “I’m going to do a lot of library visits, if I get asked to visit a school I’ll tell them to bring the class to the local library…”.  Julia was a writer in residence at a library. 
Libraries are part of the safety net, no wonder governments hate them - Care2 (USA).  “If a community doesn’t feel ownership of its library, it’s going to go away. And if the people at the city and the county aren’t made to understand a library’s value for the community, they’re not going to fund it. It breaks my heart that libraries have to be fought for, that their role and their potential isn’t known by heart by everyone. But that’s where we are. If we want to keep our libraries, our libraries need champions.”

“[Ed Vaizey]  needs to take responsibility for his role. It’s not good enough to come to a room full of children’s experts and have a woolly line on libraries. It’s not endearing.” Penguin children’s m.d. Francesca Dow

Changes to Libraries

Croydon – Full paper to Council on decision to invite private tender for library services. 
Dumfries and GallowayPlus one (previously no cuts known) - Whithorn Library, due to close mid June.
IslingtonSome under threat (previously thought all libraries safe) Consultation,  £250,000 cut 2011/12 on top of £330,000 staffing cut already made. May share services with other authorities, may change to a Trust allowing cutting of tax paid by £400k, may use more volunteers or give libraries to community groups.

Local News

Cambridgeshire – Have your say on library cuts – Fenland Citizen.  Consultation starts on cuts, including to opening hours.
Croydon – Labour calls council plans “outrageous”This is Surrey.  “Under the proposals, the council would retain strategic control of the libraries but any contractor would be free to try to raise extra money.”

Gloucestershire – report from Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries on their dealings with the DCMS – “So, basically the meeting Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries had with DCMS policy officials in May 2011 WAS a waste of time. We only were invited, after spending 6mths requesting that someone talk to us, in order to shut us up it seems. The DCMS has said if we had wanted our fees reimbursed we should have said before the meeting and they would have informed us this was not possible. Well, we say to the DCMS that if they had informed us they merely sought to meet with us in order to nod sympathetically in our direction, pat us on the head and send us back to the Shires, then we would not have wasted our time and money making the trip.”.  Also reported in BookSeller.

Islington – Libraries Consultation 2011 – Islington Council.
North Yorkshire – Council set to debate changes to library service – Northern Echo.   
Telford and Wrekin – Targets co-operative council – BBC.   
Nottingham – Children give libraries the thumbs up - My Nottingham.  Survey shows how children use libraries – half used it for homework. “It is wonderful to hear how much children are enjoying their library and thanks go out to all the hard work of the library staff who organise numerous events and activities to ensure the children have fun whilst learning”
Somerset – Fresh fears raised over viability of threatened Highbridge Library – Burnham on Sea.com.   Some of the people who offered to work as volunteers now not available.  Local town council cannot afford the full costs passed to them from the county council.
Warwickshire – Libraries talks set to finish – Coventry Telegraph.  2000 written replies in consultation, 2000 online.  ““This will be the biggest transformation in the history of Warwickshire’s library service”.
Wokingham – Libraries will not close says council – Get Wokingham.