Alan Gibbons, author and library campaigner, has done so much for public libraries that it is great to see him being recognised by CILIP, the professional association for librarians. He was made a Honorary Fellow at the Umbrella library conference this week, acting as Master of Ceremonies at the Libraries Change Lives Award Ceremony.  As well as doing more for public libraries than most libraries ministers, Alan is a bestselling award-winning author and advocate for school libraries. His excellent website, worth a follow, is alangibbons.net

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 

  • Arts Council Strategic Framework - Arts Council.  “Arts Council England has commissioned Baroness Estelle Morris to review our 10-year strategic framework, Achieving great art for everyone and provide us with an independent, expert view on how our strategic goals could best reflect the museums and libraries sectors alongside the arts.”.  See also Arts Council to speak up for librariesBookSeller.  “But library campaigner Desmond Clarke criticised the review as “verbiage” which would not convince council leaders bent on wielding the axe that public libraries are really needed. He said: “They are trying to shoehorn the needs of the library sector to fit in with the functions of the Arts Council. An image came into my mind of the ugly sisters trying to fit their foot into the glass slipper.”.  See also Review of the Arts Council Strategic Framework - SintoBlogExcellent review of what the link to Arts Council means for libraries – For many people the overall strategic framework in which we operate has little practical impact on what we do. For public librarians fighting against or struggling to manage cuts in public libraries the change may appear to be about rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.” Fears that Arts is not really anything to do with public libraries and the Arts Council don’t understand the sector but, in the end, it is the public librarians’ job to tell them.
  • Doctors prescribe regular library visitsKitsap Sun (USA).  “Kitsap Regional Library is working with health clinics and the nonprofit organization Reach Out and Read to promote early literacy this summer through a program called Libraries Are Doctor-Recommended.” 
  • Fragmentation threat to Summer Reading ChallengeBookSeller.   Although usage of scheme is up  to 97% of all library authorities, ““The library world is likely to start fragmenting into different providers, and we have to work out a way of reaching local children whatever model is being used to deliver the library service—from the traditional local authority-run service, to merged library services, trusts, privately run and community-run libraries.”

“The year 2011 is the centenary of the death of John Passmore Edwards. Edwards campaigned with William Ewart for the Free Library Acts in 1850 and after a short and disappointing time in Parliament, as MP for Salisbury during 1880 to 1885, he set out redistributing the money he had earned as a newspaper owner and publisher by funding public buildings, including 24 public libraries in Cornwall, where he was born, in Newton Abbott, where his mother was born, and in London. He promised 1000 books to any library that opened in London and gave a total of more than 80,000 books to libraries across the country and through the Ocean Library, to merchant ships across the world. It is ironic that in the year that we are celebrating his life and good work, through the Passmore Edwards Centennial, the debate remains as to the value for libraries.” John Passmore Edwards Centennial

  • Public library social networkCensored Genius.  “On a normal day like yesterday, our library had over 500 visitors. It could have been more like 800, but some people were too hideous to count, so I ignored them.”
  • State government plans to slash library funding - The Age (Australia).   “”The government has made a number of statements that says it supports libraries and that it recognises them as important community assets, but their actions don’t support those words,”.  [Significance of this is that Australia has been comparatively untouched by cuts before]
  • Who’s the Boss?  Does private management have a place in public libraries?American Libraries (USA). Survey of views on privatisation of libraries.  Poll shows 87% of librarians want no privatisation but the more senior the librarian the more likely it was they were more accepting of it.  Just 2% thought libraries should be run like a business.  Private company LSSI spokesman says standards as high or higher than in public libraries as they have annual contracts. Comments after article point out that questions are biased in favour of LSSI and that LSSI spokesman’s statements are accepted on face value.

    Changes

    Camden – Plus one under threat -  Highgate library under threat
    Enfield – 17 staff (10%) face possible redundancy. Staff “restructuring” may prevent closure of some libraries.
    Hampshire – Increase in charges, including of introducing of late charges for children. 5p per day for children, 15p for adults including mobile users.  
    Sandwell – £900k cut over three years, 12 libraries will become self-service “allowing a reduction of between one half and one member of staff per library”.  Consulting on co-locating libraries, more volunteers.
    Warwickshire – Of 16 libraries under threat, 6 currently have volunteer business plans, the others may be converted into “a dance school or nursery”.  Council has said it will charge to train volunteers at £80 per hour after free grace period.

    Local News

    • Barnet – Residents urged to contact council over plans to close Friern Barnet libraryTimes series. “The council is considering plans to move Friern Barnet Library into the artsdepot, nearly two miles away but residents and its users are desperately fighting the proposal. A petition has been signed by more than 2,000 people who argue its closure will affect the most vulnerable people in the area as well as detriment hundreds of children’s literacy levels” 
    • Brent – Library closures to be contested in court - Harrow Observer.   Two-thirds of £30,000 target so far raised for cost of judicial review next week. Legal challenge has “has been extremely tiring, and we have all worked so hard to get to this point, but it has been a tremendous community effort, and in many respects it has galvanised the whole area.”
    “We now recognise that after 114 years our library is threatened with imminent closure. We are concerned about the viability of these proposals and believe that unless the council is prepared to be more flexible, libraries will close even where there are suitable alternative providers.  We are seeking assurances that there is a serious intention to develop alternative models, a willingness for Camden Library Services to collaborate with other providers, and recognition that it is likely to cost significantly more than is allowed for.” (Camden – Friends of Belsize Library fear for future of library claimed by council to be a “shining example” of community involvement)

    “However, it is foolish to see this as an economy. If you reduce access to literacy you will end up paying for it in the future in terms of, for example, extra adult education – it’s not saving money, it’s displacing it.” Nick Arnold, Friends of Appledore Library, Devon.

    • Devon – Council proposals to cut hours in 11 librariesThis is Devon.”A Devon County Council spokesman told the Journal the precise opening hours of each library would be subject to a staff consultation which started last week. Nick Arnold, chair of the Friends of Appledore Library group, said the decision was bound to be controversial.”  He also suggests volunteers could extend hours. 
    • Enfield – Librarians are warned they are facing redundancyNorth London Today.  “The services are being restructured to provide adequate staffing in all libraries and library hours are not affected.”400-name petition handed in by Nick De Bois MP as three libraries currently under threat.
    • Gloucestershire – Judicial review of library plansStroud News and Journal.   Comments by campaigner are very interestig – Judge agreed review on three different grounds – 1. Potential failure to consider the statutory requirements of the 1964 Public Libraries Act, 2. Potential failure to properly consider equality impact assessments, 3. Potential failure to consult adequately. 
    • Hampshire – Library fines for children will “not help one bit”Get Hampshire.  ““Is it really such a crime for a child to hang on to a library book longer than they should?” Alan Gibbons.  £20,000 likely to be raised per year by charging 0-12 year olds. Council says ““The re-introduction of children’s fines is to encourage children and their parents to bring books back for other borrowers to enjoy.”
    • Oxfordshire – Council’s libraries proposals “flawed”Witney Gazette.   “Members of the group have asked for full costings of recruiting, training and managing volunteers, details of how responsibilities would be divided between volunteers and professional staff, and information on whether any alternative plans have been costed by the council.”
    • Sandwell – Sensationalist report in the Express and StarSandwell Council. Library consultation is genuine, not fait accompli, says
    • Sandwell – Innovation and Evaluation PlanSandwell Council.  “Our belief is that we cannot hand over the running of libraries wholesale to volunteers; they have to be trained, managed and supported if this approach is to be successful. This approach will take time to develop as negotiation with Unions and staff will be required.”  Will reduce costs by automation, sharing services, using volunteers.
    • South Tyneside – Warnings over leisure shake-up planShields Gazette. 
    • Warwickshire – WCC Cabinet Meeting Item 3 libraries: All those in favour… - What’s In Kenilworth.  22 minutes to agree closures/job losses.  Details to be confirmed in October.   
    • Warwickshire – Library jobs could go in £2m budget cutsCoventry Telegraph.  “All library staff are to be sent a ‘preference form’ on which they can indicate if they would like to take voluntary redundancy, reduce their working hours or transfer to another area.”.  Up to 120 could lost jobs… Whitnash Library to be cut from 45 to 16 hours … Town councillor says “The library is so much more than just borrowing books. It provides us with a wide range of information, recreational reading and activities supporting learning and literacy for all ages. He added: “Sadly, this programme seems to be driven by the determination of some officials to close “inconvenient” local libraries with no regard for the needs of the people who rely upon such services.”
    • Wokingham – Assurance on Wokingham borough libraries - Get Reading.  “Council bosses have once again moved to assure residents that the future of Wokingham borough libraries is safe as a result of the decision to put them out to tender.”