Comment
“There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration”  -Andrew Carnegie

Cornwall, Croydon, Suffolk and Warwickshire all seem to be planning different things for their libraries.  Cornwall appears to be wanting not only to privatise its libraries but to go after contracts in other councils as well (in many different services and in collaboration with private companies), as a sort of Cornwall Ltd.  Croydon also appear to be going down the privatisation route but doesn’t appear to be proud about it.  Their “market sounding exercise” document is almost impossible to find on their website and, also, there is only a fortnight for private companies to register an interest.  Suffolk also appear to be thinking abut the privatisation or, possibly, the divestment route.  Indeed, to a casual observer, their proposals may not appear to be all that different from those ditched after large protests and the departure of their old Chief Exec.  Finally, Warwickshire have produced a mammoth report for councillors that appears to present foregone conclusions (literally, with the conclusions being printed at both the front and back) about what should happen to the service.  It proposes closures that the report elsewhere clearly shows the public do not want.  The report also shows that only six, not sixteen as claimed in the press, groups have put in business plans for running otherwise closing branches.

Andrew Carnegie called libraries the “cradle of democracy”.  At the moment, they do not appear to be in the most motherly of hands.

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

  • Boost for library campaign as court orders judicial reviewTelegraph.  Surveys current situation regarding legal action against cuts, especially in Gloucestershire and noting celebrity support.
  • Campaign for the Book newsletterAction has moved on from public protest to legal action.  Many councils have shied away from closures but still need watching as cutting services or “divesting” libraries.
  • Reforms will end state control of public servicesTelegraph.”The “state’s monopoly” over the public sector will come to an end under plans to give private companies, voluntary groups and charities the right to run schools, hospitals and council services, David Cameron will announce next week”.  All council services in all councils, including libraries, will be open to private companies bidding for them “The reforms will enshrine in law the “presumption” that public services should be open to outside providers, allowing private companies to run schools and offer municipal services such as maintaining parks and running adult and day care services.”
  • Should we shrink wrap our school libraries?plpnetwork.  Article on the future of school libraries with substantial reference to the future of public libraries.
  • Ellen Forsyth (Consultant at State Library of New South Wales)This Week in Libraries.  “Together with Ellen Forsyth we discuss large scale library collaboration, gaming, tools and much more… Learning without getting overwhelmed.”
  • #uklibchat LIS Student campaigning – Google Docs.  Summary of #uklibchat meeting on twitter between Library school students.  Some interesting points. 

Changes

Middlesbrough – Some libraries may close.
 
Local News 

  • Brent – Cllr James Powney accused of misleading statements to residentsSave Kensal Rise Library.  Cllr said youth services would be protected from the cuts but is closing 6 out of 12 libraries, 50% of whose membership is under 19.  “And he has yet to comment on scandalous revelations in the Evening Standard that Kensal Green – where threatened Kensal Rise Library is situated – has one of the highest child illiteracy rates in the capital.”
  • Cornwall – Council aims hireCornwall Community News.  Cornwall Council wishes to bid for contracts in other organisations in Cornwall and elsewhere via a private sector and other partners.  Libraries, Personnel and other services appear likely to become at least partially privatised.  “Many local authorities are already doing work for their neighbours but without a private sector partner which will cream off the profits. Cornwall’s so-called ‘unique approach’ appears to be based on helping big consultancy firms.”
  • Croydon – Future of Croydon librariesCroydon Council. See also Library services market sounding exercise – Croydon Council – [This page is very difficult to find on Council website].  “Businesses and organisations that may be interested in participating in a possible future procurement exercise are invited to complete and return a questionnaire which would then form the basis of informal discussions with both Councils. That process will include seeking the market’s views on the further development of library services to the benefit of the public, and any alternative delivery models.”.  “Market sounding” is from 4th July to 19th July.
  • Gloucestershire – Residents “ready, willing and able” to run libraryThis is Glos.  “public-spirited Prestbury residents poised to step into the breach to keep their library open will have to wait for the results of a judicial review to find out whether their services will be needed.”.  Article appears to argue that the judicial review into libraries is unpopular amongst library users.
  • Hertfordshire – Save New Barnfield LibraryLiberal Democrats Campaigns.   Central Resources Library to be closed, reference collection going to Campus West Library “if there’s room”,  Lending stock going to non-public access warehouses.  Petition to save library. 
  • Middlesbrough – Mayor’s warning over service cuts Gazette.  “Libraries and leisure centres could be closed as Middlesbrough Council battles to find millions of pounds of savings. And 400 to 500 jobs are expected to be lost, according to the borough’s mayor.”
  • Suffolk – Reaction to council plans to save Suffolk’s librariesEDP.  “We do not want to see private bidders come here to make profit. A service like a library is incredibly important and it is a public service which should not be governed by a profit motive.” Also County unveils library “models”Bury Free Press.  “The proposed models include an in-house county council business unit, an external but wholly authority owned company or enterprise and an independent company or enterprise managed by the council through contractual arrangements. Whichever model is selected would manage the libraries budget and support services such as the countywide book network, employing staff and training.” 

  • Surrey – Communities need council libraries: join the lobby – Save our Services in Surrey. “The lobby of the council promises to be the biggest protest at County Hall in many years, with each library present aiming to get at least ten protesters there (one even suggested they may book a coach!). Anyone who is interested in saving Surrey’s libraries should join us outside County Hall from 1pm on Tuesday 26th July.”
  • Warwickshire – Libraries in Warwickshire – Warwick West Labour Team News. Ex Warks Libraries HR employee and now Labour councillor expresses sympathy for library staff and worries over long-term future of “divested” libraries. Queries whether cost of redundancy/pensions would actually mean any savings for the council.
  • Warwickshire – Library’s future is in our hands, say villagers – Courier. Kineton parish councillor asks for volunteers to run threatened library. “We have asked the county council if we can share the costs of maintaining the library so that they pay for technical services and we pay for the hire of the space.”
  • Warwickshire – WCC Library Report 02: 11 Recommendations: Welcome to GoogleWhat’s in Kenilworth.   Continuing dissection of report notices the followin (a) the recommendations (to close libraries) are at the front as well as the back (“I am trying to think of a reasonable example where you are told to make a decision, before you hear the evidence”), (b) 14 libraries to have reduced opening hours, supplemented if possible by the use of volunteers, (c) volunteers given until August 19th to prepare business cases, with final decision to be made in October, (d) mobiles to be cut too, (e) yet more cuts next year, (f) bookfund maintained with no cuts, (g) up to 120 staff (50 FTE) to be cut .
  • Warwickshire – WCC Library Report 03: The next 11,000 words: Somewhere to hang my hat – What’s in Kenilworth.   (h) Author argues all points be contested e.g. report argues that cuts will only affect 10% of visits but “would you take away a disabled access ramp in a village, just because only two people use it?”, (i) calls twitter users a “hard to reach” audience (!), (j) 10,000 signatures on petitions asking for libraries to stay open, (k) very importantly, only six groups have provided business cases for running libraries cf the 16 previously claimed by the council.