Comment

There are many ways that one could campaign for libraries.  I have done a list of  the ones that have been in the media over the past few months.  Pretending to want a “book burning party” like someone has done to campaign against the closure of Troy Library in the USA, was not on that list before.  I had rather hoped such a thing never would be. There are good reasons for this.  Although, it may be that it will highlight the issues as never before and  it seems to have got people talking, it has also made children cry.  It has been described as an uninspired publicity stunt.  Also, importantly, it has associated library campaigners in that town with bias, mendacity and deceit.  One of the many reasons public libraries are such wonderful places is because they are the precise opposite of this.

UPDATE – Ellen Hodorek from the Save Troy Library campaign has replied to my worries with this response on the Burning Books Facebook Page .  The following quote is just part of it but it shows the seriousness of the issue…

“While this is a horrible satirical approach, it’s sort of like apathy is this big, bad bully on the playground in our city that someone needs to take on. This Book Burning Party thing is doing that. We can probably agree we don’t like the approach. But whoever this is… they clearly care. And they’re trying to remind voters here that they care, too. That a library is a cultural gem to be protected from political debate. As I keep saying, if a community with a Neimann Marcus Top can’t pony up the funds to save it’s library, the world will surely take note. And our children right here in this community? Well, they will cry.”

397 libraries (321 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. 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

  • Alan Gibbons at the Libraries Change Lives awardsVoices for the Library.  “Libraries have never been in such danger, yet never talked about so much. There is a disparity between what librarians do and what they are often perceived as doing. Librarians are not shelf-stackers, said Gibbons,  they should tell the world what  they do. If we allow libraries to close, they will be impossible to rebuild. We must go out and tell the people who are not yet convinced of the value of libraries about why they are so important, he concluded.”

  • How north east libraries are changing lives: two imaginative ideas win national recognitionGuardian.  NEALIS has improved “improved access to libraries of blind and partially sighted patrons across twelve authorities” and “The History Club, run by Newcastle City Libraries, engages adults with learning difficulties with local heritage materials through talks, trips and creative projects.”
  • Libraries face their day in courtGuardian (Boyd Tonkin).   Bried mention of Barnet and Brent campaigns at bottom of page.
  • Museums, libraries and the arts have much to gain from each otherGuardian.  Estelle Morris explains the positives of moving the responsibilities of the MLA to the Arts Council.  She does not mention that the budget transferred over is £3m, rather than the £13m the MLA had.
  • Umbrellas, Windows and VoicesWalk You Home.  Voices for the Library member Lauren Smith’s experience at the CILIP Umbrella Conference.  “…we’d really like to get some more contributions from people, whether they’re working in libraries or just using them, to spread the message about the great work that public libraries do. It’s always been one of our key aims, but with all the campaigning against things that needs doing it’s hard to keep up the advocacy message for things. Please write to us at stories@voicesforthelibrary.org.uk with anything you’d like to share.” 

Changes

East Lothian – Libraries in Dunbar, Gullane, North Berwick and Musselburgh will be open for longer from August 1 but should not affect the libraries service budget.
Portsmouth – New “Southsea Library and Customer Service Centre” will open 29th July, replacing current Elm Grove Library

Local News

  • Brent – Judicial reviewPreston Library Campaign.  Link to legal documents including, interestingly, Brent Council’s defence.
  • Dorset – Charmouth library could face closureBridport News.  ““It was disappointing to campaigners that the discussion was so unbalanced. “There were literally, hundreds of pages of words and lengthy speeches in support of Proposal B to close 10 libraries and very little on the merits of Proposal D which retains all libraries without any reduction in hours.”.  Decision on July 21st.
  • East Lothian – Libraries to extend hours of openingScotsman.  “Libraries in Dunbar, Gullane, North Berwick and Musselburgh will be open for longer from August 1 but should not affect the libraries service budget.”
  • Enfield – Redundancy warning given to Enfield library workersEnfield Independent.  Nick De Bois MP says “I’m very surprised to hear about these letters given that at the same time the council are holding a consultation on libraries.It smacks of a sham consultation and most importantly is very worrying for the staff that are at risk.” 
  • Falkirk – Demonstration over cuts in library hours - Bo’ness Journal.   “September 1 is the target start date for a weekly nine-hour reduction, that will ‘devastate’ the district’s public libraries, according to [UNISON] branch secretary Gray Allan.”
  • Gloucestershire – Shire Hall records budget underspend of £7 million - This is Glos.  
  • Isle of Wight – Council will contest legal challenge on librariesIWCP.   Campaigners “will seek permission from the High Court for both the judicial review and an injunction, to halt library closures while the case is heard. Legal aid has been granted for the case, but negotiations are continuing about the amount. It is anticipated the community would make some contribution towards costs.”
  • Isle of Wight – Library user group accuses council of misuse of fundsVentnor Blog.  
  • Merton – Launch PartyFriends of West Barnes Library – Library will be staffed by volunteers on a Monday. Nice pictures and speech.  Membership of Friends “It costs £3 a year (or £2 for concessions: under 16, over 60 or not in full-time employment). You’ll receive a membership card a few days later entitling you to three free DVD or talking book loans and three free reservations.”.
  • Portsmouth – Southsea Library and Customer Service Centre - Portsmouth.  “At a time when many libraries are under the threat of closure, Portsmouth is one of the few councils in the UK to be opening a new library. Just like our other libraries, we want it to be a welcoming community space. As always, it’s all about the books, but it’s also about meeting friends over a coffee, catching up with your e-mails, reading the newspaper or just having a little “me time” whilst the kids go wild with their imaginations.”
  • Somerset – Use it or lose it warning - Mercury series.   Councillor argues usage is most effective campaigning tactic, also in favour of volunteers.