Comment

Even for those library staff whose libraries are not closing or who are not being made redundant due to the council believing volunteers can do their jobs for free, the times are not good.  Leaving aside the pay freeze, whose effects are dire enough, library workers are also suffering from other cuts.  In Southampton and Shropshire, library staff are being sacked and rehired on contracts which offer lower pay.  Library staff are especially vulnerable to this as they are often paid time-and-a-half for weekends and work part-time.  This means they can have anywhere from a 3% to a 33% (if they only work on Saturdays) pay cut on top of the pay freeze when this “bonus” is terminated … and they’re the lucky ones.  The workers at St Austell Performing Arts Library in Cornwell would probably be happy with a 3% cut at the moment.  So if you see a library worker, give them a kind word.  They need it. Or tell them to go work in Scotland where a pro library campaign seems to have created a notably more favourable environment.
In lighter news, a brilliant artist is at work in Scotland, producing beautiful works of origami linked with pro-library messages.  Have a look at the articles linked below and be impressed, and perhaps a little bit mystified. 

396 libraries (320 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

  • Dragon flies in as serial paper folder strikes again Scotsman.com. Intricate dragon is fourth mystery book related artwork left in Edinburgh by anonymous pro-library campaigner. “”A gift in support of libraries, books, words and ideas…”, followed by the message: “Once upon a time there was a book, and in the book was a nest, and in the nest was an egg, and in the egg was a dragon, and in the dragon was a story.” Dragon is carved from pages of an Ian Rankin novel. “The Evening News reported last month how The Filmhouse Cinema, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library had all stumbled upon fine mini-artworks fashioned from the pages of books.”.  Previous story shows intricate origami left in Filmhouse Cinema - Mystery masterpieces are the stuff that reams are made of.  
  • Is the Bookless Library still a Library? - Time (USA).  Drexel University Library is bookless, new New York Public Library will be joint e-book/printed book. “The library is a societal tent pole,” says Michael Connelly, best-selling author of The Fifth Witness. “There are a lot of ideas under it. Knock out the pole and the tent comes down.” Connelly says that browsing through physical books brings inspiration of the kind that led him from wandering his campus library’s stacks straight to a writing career. “Can something like that happen in a bookless library? I’m not so sure,” he says.”
    (try not to let the soundtrack put you off)

    • Love Scottish Libraries: A joint approach to advocacy and lobbying - CILIPReport on successful library campaign in Scotland which targetted decisionmakers.  Libraries are noticeably less under threat in Scotland than in England.
    • Minimal, futuristic library and gasp it’s got booksFastcodedesign.  Strongly anti-paper book article is shocked that “Kanazawa Umimirai Library, in Kanazawa City, is like an art gallery for dead trees”.  Architect, however, says it’s a “treasure trove of books … overwhelming physical presence, something that the convenience of electronic and digital books cannot offer”
    • Private firms to run our services - Northern Echo.  “Private firms and charities will be able to demand the right to run almost every public service – from schools and day centres, to libraries and leisure centres – under radical Government plans unveiled yesterday. An ombudsman will rule on whether companies and voluntary groups have been “unfairly precluded” from tendering for contracts held by local authorities, for example.”
    • Public libraries: a free resource for people of any ageKid Companions (Canada).   Strongly pro library piece showing how public libraries have changed and how useful they are, especially for children.  “If you have not passed through the doors of your local library lately do so now.  You will be truly amazed at how most libraries have changed. They are delivering quality library service in new ways and services you never dreamed possible. “.  In Nova Scotia, children are given a library card automatically when they are born.
    • Whichbook - “Whichbook offers choices which are not available anywhere else – mood, emotion, plot shape, type of main character, country the book is set in. And when you find a book you like the look of, you can click through to library catalogues across the UK and to WorldCat to see if it is available in your local branch”

     Changes

    Cornwall – 1 (Performing Arts Library at St Austell may be closed).
    Leicestershire – £443k cut inc. 384 hours per week cut in opening hours.

    Local news

    • Bolton – Libraries court case “will not affect Bolton decision” - This is Lancashire.   Bolton Council think Glos court case does not affect them.  Their legal department says they have had a “robust consultation period”.  However, if it turns out a judicial review is possible, the council says it will not “waste any more time and money until after the outcome of the review.”
    • Cornwall – Artists fight “disastrous plans” to cut library hours - This is Cornwall.   Performing Arts Library at St Austell may either be closed, be drastically cut, or put in an visits-by-appointments-only warehouse.  “Chris Hansell, secretary of Cornwall Drama Association, said the county had a rich performing arts scene which heavily relied on the library to borrow new scripts, music, choral pieces and technical books.”
    “Four weeks on from a decision taken at Cabinet to go out to market test all 13 libraries, and not just the six that were subject of the original consultation, not one official notice has been spotted. Not even a simple A4 notice in any one of Croydon’s libraries. ” Save Sanderstead Library Campaign group.

    • Croydon – Kept in dark over Croydon librariesSanderstead Library Campaign group.  “… would it really have done any harm to have put their suggestion of market-testing to one side and instead considered a cross-party commission into libraries offering the chance of further deliberation of viable options for our libraries? Unsurprisingly, at the time of writing, (20th June) there has still not been an official announcement of the agreement to market-test provision of Croydon’s library services. Anybody might think the Council is trying to keep residents in the dark.” 
    • Dorset – Repair cost estimates put library on hit listDaily Echo.   “Friends of Colehill Library chairman Derek Henderson believes a £66,050 figure for ‘repairs and maintenance’ may lie behind the library’s position on an ‘at threat’ list.  In fact, he says, £45,000 of this hefty sum is for replacing the library windows in five or six years’ time. And a professional architect approached by the Friends believes the building in Middlehill Road could be double glazed for £17,500″ .  Colehill tops the county list for loans to children. 
    • Gloucestershire – Music-man and libraries and me - Art Lot Slot.  “A remarkable achievement by the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries that increases the belief that doing the right thing can still be achieved through conviction, hard work and determination.”
    • Isle of Wight – Council to fight libraries legal injunction - Ventnor Blog.  Council confirms it will fight legal case brought by campaigners. 
    • Isle of Wight – More time for communities to take over librariesIsle of Wight Radio.  Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin volunteers have until the end of July to put business cases together.  Councillor thinks 6, rather than current 11 libraries would still meet statutory requirements, and “would of course be enhanced by the community library network”
    • Leicestershire – Library and museums face hours cut - BBC.   £443k cut on 22 libraries, 2 museums and Record Office.  20,000 opening hours ( = 384 per week).  Councils say resulted from consultation and cuts in opening hours reflect usage.  Campaigner says “Libraries are not just for recreation they’re a cultural and educational facility and a reduction in opening hours will affect people who might not be able to afford expensive entertainment but rely on libraries.”
    • Shropshire – Council sacks all staffUNISON. “… members in Shropshire are considering balloting for industrial action after the council sent letters to all 6,500 of its staff, sacking them and saying that it will re-hire them – if they agree to a pay cut.”

    Southampton – “Armageddon day” in Southampton - UNISON.  All council workers are being rehired (technically being sacked first) with lower pay.   150 library workers went on strike on 11th June.  See also Southampton Council cuts pay while piling £4.2m into reserves also by UNISON.

    • Wokingham – Private libraries will continue “all statutory services”Get Wokingham.   “We are looking to find a experienced organisation, commercial or other to continue to provide all statutory services.” It is hoped interested investors [sic] will have made an offer by January 2012, with any preferred partner being formally approved by the council’s executive next March.”