Comment

As of this moment, it is unclear if the “Book Burning Party” to be held if Troy Public Library (USA) closes is a joke or not.  It may not be.  Certainly, it follows hard on the heels of this weirdly rightwing rant against librarians from a prominent Floridan Republican.  It also ties in with a viewpoint one often sees in library-related “comments” sections that the days of public libraries have passed, that everyone has a Kindle and broadband and librarians should go and find proper jobs and stop costing people taxes.  That this viewpoint is entirely unbased in fact does not come into the “ask the price, not the value” picture.  Sadly, it is fairly easy to see the burning of books, though, in that same nightmarish view.
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

Book Burning Party (USA). Troy Public Library is facing closure if locals do not vote to keep it open with a local tax.  “Book Burning Party” on facebook is planning to celebrate if the vote goes against the library.  Group’s “likes” on Facebook include Kindle (strangely appropriate name) and Fox News.  The group Links to website selling “Book Burning Party” T-Shirts, bags and mugs.  The matter is puzzled over at Library millage debate heats up with signs that suggest book burning.
This is the same library that Isaac Asimov wrote a letter to in 1971 which said “”[A library] isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you–and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.”.

  • But Mr Darcy, shouldn’t we be taking precautions?Observer.  “And most perplexing – how do you account for a person such as Ed Vaizey, who claims to be a great reader and watches, the picture of indifference, as British libraries are killed off or handed over to untrained volunteers for gradual dismembering? By rights, the simplest, most cautionary fiction should tell him that he will be despised for ever more. Unless we can trace his glib philistinism to a weakness for Jeffrey Archer.”
  • Gloucestershire judicial review on library cuts Politics Show West  (BBC1).  Interviews clearly intended to suggest that courts should not question the actions of councils or government.  Law firm and local Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood point out that “being accountable does not mean you are above the law”, TV interviewer appears unconvinced and then tries to link it to immigration/human rights (as if human rights are bad thing).  Glos council leader says only way to avoid closing libraries is to cut down on social care.  Programme goes on to show he tried to close those too but stopped before it got to legal action that time.
“It is interesting how Cllr Hawthorne mentions “democracy” when once in power he does what he wants with no apparent regard for the law and or for what residents want. I think he needs to look up “democracy in the dictionary. When it is time to “kick him out” alas it would be too late for our libraries – hence the court case. If he had told us this was his plan for libraries when he was up for election I doubt he would have got his foot through the door, unsurprisingly he didn’t.” Johanna Anderson, Gloucestershire Campaigner on the Politics Show interview.

  • Google vs. the public libraryAgnostic, maybe (USA).  Public libraries are not in competition with Google.  Search engines are a tool only.  Indeed, public libraries provide internet access so may be said to be an important customer of Google.
  • Judical review of library servicesGood Library Blog.  By leaving legal action to local campaigners, the Government is allowing the courts to define terms of reference, meaning the final decisions could be more embarrassing for them than if they had… “By omitting to use his powers in the way that he should, the minister has indeed opened the door to a much wider discussion- and the possibility of severe criticism both of the conduct of the councils involved and of his own officials- and thereby the implication of serious judicial and public criticism of his own behaviour.”

Local News
Brent – An evening with Dame Harriet WalterPreston Library Campaign.   
This is a fundraiser for the legal challenge.
  • Croydon – Under-threat libraries: a timeline of council deceit?Inside Croydon.  LSSI given far longer time to express an interest in running libraries than others, Wandsworth will be “market testing” in September suggesting that their partnership with Croydon is not a strong one. “After all, the council has already chiselled more than £300,000 out of the libraries annual budget this year, while laying off half the borough’s qualified librarians. Anyone might think that they are deliberately trying to reduce the operation’s costs in advance of a commercial takeover of key libraries by a company given a head-start in what is supposed to be a competitive public tender process.”  Another post on the same subject is Tall tales and strange silences on librariesThat Woman’s Blog. 
  • Hertfordshire – Petition launched against Welwyn Hatfield library move – Times24.  “Cllr Cowan said: “I have been contacted by residents concerned that one of the most important collections in the country will become hidden from view, restricting the work of the many music and drama groups who use the reference, music and drama collections as well as schools, professional musicians and researchers.”
  • Southampton – Council “to axe quarter of staff” Virgin Media.   Council engaged in cutting library staff is cutting a lot else as well.  “Unite said it had seen a “devastating” report by Southampton City Council setting out its budget and spending priorities until 2015, including setting aside £5 million a year from 2012 to 2014 for redundancies.”
  • Warwickshire – WCC Library Report Part 04: 210 pages and not one picture: people learn from pictures – What’s in Kenilworth.  No charts, graphs, visualisations in the entire report and Part 05: Community Analysis: All libraries WarwickshireReport shows 88% of residents currently in two miles of library, council is trying to dramatically lower this percentage. Impact on Vulnerable is shown as biggest potential impact.  Biggest theme from feedback is loss of community focus and restricting library use.