Comment

The news from Warwickshire continues to be dire.  Volunteers in sixteen different library catchments will split between them £100,000 worth of funding and have until August 19th to put forward cases for running their local branch.  In the meantime, the library staff, up to 120 staff of whom are going to be made redundant (on top of a larger number already cut since 2006) are pondering their future.  One hopes none of them choose to do their jobs for free in their soon-to-be Brave New World. From what can be gleaned from news reports, the Suffolk and Cornwall proposals for running their library services are getting increasingly novel and imaginative.  Not only brave, it appears their new worlds will be bizarre as well.
In recognition of the importance of the story, the Telegraph and the Independent both have printed favourable articles about Thursday’s successful legal hearings.  Both the BBC and ITV local evening news programmes covered it too.  In the unlikely event that the News of the World story does not push it to one side, the Gloucestershire libraries ruling will be discussed on the Politics Show, Sunday 11am on BBC1. No major media, yet, appears to be covering the ongoing monopolistic tendencies of Amazon who appear to be preparing to be the only source of books in a few years time, printed or ebook.
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

  • BA and PA set to oppose Amazon-Book Depository MergerBookSeller.  The Booksellers Association has announced it will formally oppose the merger of Amazon and The Book Depository, with the BA saying that Amazon already had a “de facto monopoly”. Meanwhile, the P[ublishers] A[ssociation] is actively considering opposing the deal.”
“I wholeheartedly pledge my support to the campaign to save Kensal Rise library. Accessible local libraries are vital to communities and to children. Reading fuels passion, interest and ambition – please don’t take that away.” Nick Cave.

“Libraries in South Korea are well-maintained and welcoming, and on any given day (at any given time), one can enter a Korean library to find it packed full of people of all ages.  As teenagers chatter and swap books, strangers sit beside one another, scattered around the tables and floors lost in their own journeys.”

  • Voice from Korea: Why I support the librariesAlan Gibbons. English teacher teaching in South Korea compares the different views – South Korea cherishes libraries, gives class-reading time in libraries, strongly encouraging literacy.  English schools don’t give time and don’t sufficiently respect libraries, although they are instrumental in promoting both literacy and a feeling of community.
  • What big media can learn from the New York Public Library – Atlantic.  NYPL appears to have successfully fought off cuts to its funding by a brilliant campaign. “… it’s flourishing, putting out some of the most innovative online projects in the country. On the stuff you can measure — library visitors, website visitors, digital gallery images viewed — the numbers are up across the board compared with five years ago. On the stuff you can’t, like conceptual leadership, the NYPL is killing it.”.

Local News 

  • Barnet – Labour hit back at deputy’s pledge to “keep council tax down”Times series.  “They are busy closing libraries and children’s centres, so vital services are being axed because Barnet can’t collect from council tax dodgers. If they reduced the uncollected council tax to just the London average they would have £4.5m more and could stop the library and children centre closures – either they don’t care or they don’t know what they are doing.”
  • Brent – Pullman joins fight for Brent librariesBookSeller.   “On 20th July Pullman will speak at Queens Park Community School in Kensal Rise, and plans to discuss why writing and reading matter, and about greed, money, capitalism and temptation, as he also reads from his latest book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. Novelist Maggie Gee will host the conversation with Pullman, who will then join in a Q&A with the audience.”.  Fundraiser for legal campaign.
  • Birmingham – Visitors to get 3D preview of new Birmingham libraryBirmingham Mail.   “The Virtual Library of Birmingham is a 3D interactive model of the city’s new flagship that the public can explore online by logging on to a special website operated by creators Daden.”
  • Cornwall – Council presses ahead with private sector plansThis is Cornwall.   “By creating a new ‘shared services’ company in Cornwall, we would help protect both existing public sector employment and could create hundreds of new permanent, well-paid jobs.”.  The project, to include libraries, has attracted criticism due to high setup costs (initially £375k) even if it is feasible.
  • Devon – £80,000 refurb plan for SidburySidmouth Herald.   Making way for self-service.  Hours will sill be cut, though, and there will be less staff. 
  • Gloucestershire – Permission granted for High Court judicial review of council’s library cutsFoGL.  “We are really pleased with the outcome of today’s hearing and await with interest the proper scrutiny of GCC’s plans for our library service in court. This scrutiny has never been allowed within GCC’s own procedures, where party politics has appeared to be prioritised before the needs and concerns of service users – including some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.” and Judge orders review into library closuresThis is Gloucestershire (interesting comments). 
  • Isle of Wight – Council responds to library legal actionVentnor Blog.   Council spokesman says “We are not prepared to make detailed comment at this stage other than to reaffirm that our position remains that the council considers that its decision on the future of the library service meets the statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service and we are delighted by the responses that we are receiving from members of the community coming forward to be part of delivering the new community libraries.”
  • Isle of Wight – Solicitors set to bid for libraries injunctionIWCP.   “Leigh, Day and Co said the LSC, which has granted legal aid to cover some of the costs of the case, wrote to them suggesting around £10,000 may need to be found by campaigners as a community contribution to fight the case — which the firm has said would be excessive and hopes will be reduced.” and Solicitors apply for injunction for Isle of Wight librariesBookSeller.  Request to cease divesting five branches until after judicial review.
  • Oxfordshire – Libraries budget is still under threatOxford Mail.  Former libraries chief Don Seale is worried.  “I would say that the library budget in the next two to three years is quite precarious, because if the volunteers won’t come forward and money is even tighter, there is going to be pressure.”
  • Suffolk – To centralise library managementBookSeller.   “Under the proposals, town or parish councils, community or staff groups would still run the libraries, but financial management and staffing would be handled by an outside body.”.  Campaigners do not see the logic in this and suspect closures will result, only being postponed.  See also Relief after library closures expected to be scrapped by council cabinetDiss Express.  30% cut still expected but semi-privatisation/divestment combination hoped to cover it. See also Campaigners welcome library move EADT, “I’ve looked at the proposals and of the three options on offer, I am sure most people would want the council to adopt the first proposal which would see the library service continuing to be fully part of the county council.”