Comment

There’s a lot of preparation going on for the legal challenge to Brent Councils library cuts.  This will be the first of many challenges and, as the first, is likely to be used as a precedent in the others, although there are differences between each case.  I know that there is going to be a lot of media interest in the case and in the cuts to libraries generally.  Let us hope it serves to spur those in the DCMS, the MLA and the Arts Council to start taking action themselves, although what Kate Mosse calls their “catastrophic failure of leadership” so far hardly inspires hope. The first sound of thunder is the article in the Independent today. We will see who gets hit by lightning in the days to come. 
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

Change

Suffolk30% off libraries budget over three years.
WorcestershireInstallation of self-service in 5 more branches.

Local News

 We don’t want flats, we don’t want development we want our green pastures
kept green for our music next to our cherished communal hub, Friern Barnet library”
  • Barnet – New facts raise doubts over cost case for closing HGS libraryHampstead Garden Suburb.  Barnet Council include disproportionately high central costs (41%) into estimate for running of library.  Council wishes to move library to Institute building – only way this would save costs using same accounting rules is if this was rent-free, which is unlikely. 
  • Barnet – Save Friern Barnet Library party todayTimes series.   2000-name petition.  “Today residents are encouraged to visit the library from 2-4pm and show their support for the Save Friern Barnet Library campaign.There will be free refreshments, music and a competition for the best ‘save our library’ banner.”
  • Bradford – Addingham library given more time to find volunteersIlkley Gazette.   Volunteers given until end of August to work out how to run libraries.  This is second postponement, initial deadline was June.  “It is hoped Bradford Council can continue to provide computer access and book loan services. The building itself is owned by Addingham Parish Council.”
  • Brent – Fight to save six Brent libraries enters a new chapterTimes series.   ““We would rather not have gone down this road, but the council has shown such ­disregard and disdain for what communities have said they want that we had no ­option but to pursue our ­campaign through legal means. We all hope that the outcome is a fair and positive one for communities, not only for Brent but throughout England.”
  • Brent – “Let’s all go down the Strand and bring your banner…” Library closures hearing next week Wembley Matters.   “Brent SOS Library campaigners and Brent Fightback supporters will be assembling outside the Court on Tuesday and Wednesday at 9am (the hearing is expected to start at 10.30am) and again at 4.15pm with banners and placards. Please try and get along and bring your own placards.  There should be seating in the court for between 60 and 80 people and the presence of those affected can be positive in terms of curtailing the more outrageous claims that the defendants could make in their absence.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Epetition Save Cambridgeshire Libraries.   “We the undersigned call upon Cambridgeshire County Council to reject proposals to close libraries or to replace the existing professional service with a reduced service run by volunteers. ” 2285 signatures. 
  • Croydon – Media coverage of Croydon’s librariesSanderstead Library Campaign.  Media coverage of campaigners but Croydon strangely silent about privatisation.  “All 13 libraries are subject of this ‘market testing’ exercise and Croydon claim that they are working with Wandsworth in order to do this. If you spot any announcement of this in any Croydon library or anywhere else please let us know so we can link to it.”
  • Croydon – Setting the record straight Sanderstead Library Campaign.  “Part of the concern of library campaigners and residents has been the vital need to maintain a level of qualified and highly experienced staff.  There has also been a genuine outpouring of concern for the staff themselves. The level of stress staff have been subjected to has been immense and cracks have already started to show in this respect. Library users watch staff struggle to cope with the reduced staffing levels already in place, which has resulted in longer queues, difficulty coping with the workload shared between so few, incorrectly processed loans and the such like. It is distressing to watch committed library staff suffer under such conditions with the threat of further job losses still looming.”
  • Essex – Tiptree’s police library trail “fails”Daily Gazette.   “Weekly sessions were moved from the police station to the library as part a cost-cutting scheme which closed the police station and moved officers to share the nearby fire station. The force has now announced the library will no longer be used, after villagers complained the venue was unsuitable. Instead, a mobile police station will park at the Tesco supermarket, in Church Road, every Thursday.
  • Gloucestershire – Delay caused by judicial review is fault of GCCRuscombe Green.  “I would encourage those who are ‘excited’ about running their own library to spare a thought for these people, as well as the dedicated, wonderful library staff who have trained for years and have a wealth of experience and who are being made to join the dole queue after being told that anyone can do their job, for nothing.”
  • Kent – Concerns raised about new powers for parish councilsYour Canterbury.   “However, the plans have raised concerns that many parish councils may be ill-equipped to cope with new powers without the same expertise available to district, borough and county councils.”
  • Leeds – Public meeting called in bid to save Shadwell LibraryWetherby News.  Shadwell Library is due to close in May 2012 if no volunteers.  Meeting next week.  “If two men and a dog turn up, that will be the end of it” says parish councillor.  ““We would like to turn the building into a community facility which incorporates a library. It could also be used as a cafe, a music venue and a place to meet.”
  • Leeds – Appeal for support in Rawdon library battleWharfedale Observer.  Library is threatened with closure in 2012. “The Friends of Rawdon Library are holding an urgent public meeting at 11am in Trinity Church Hall, Rawdon on Saturday, July 16 to give residents the latest news and discuss how the community can help keep the library open.” 600-name petition presented.
“Suffolk County Council has softened its stance somewhat but, as in other areas of the country, some rowing back on the most extreme proposals has yet to lead to a sensible strategic plan for the future. Some good people are involved in trying to sort out the future of the county’s libraries, but they are still saddled with the legacy of Suffolk’s obsession with half-baked ideas like divestment. Ideology weighs like a nightmare on the minds of some of the elected decision makers.” Alan Gibbons

  • Suffolk – Library battle goes onEADT.  Campaigner says “There was a lack of clarity about exactly what they are proposing. I think they are thinking on the hoof, they don’t know themselves.”.  Council says some in the community wants to run their own libraries.
  • Suffolk – Village’s libraries saved from the axeHaverhill Echo.  A new organisation will run libraries, type to be selected in September, with volunteer-run/parish councils running smaller libraries in aim to cut 30% off budget in 3 years.  ““We feel the proposals being put forward strike the right balance between protecting much loved council services whilst finding necessary and unavoidable financial savings.”
  • WorcestershireLibrary services go high-techMalvern Gazette.  ” “Library services are changing and by embracing new and modern technologies we are aiming to make using your local library as easy and convenient as possible.””