418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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

  • Activism, advocacy and professional identityJohanna Bo Anderson’s blog.  “Activism is about politics and ethics, social outcomes and shaping the future – the aim is not just to promote services and influence change but to be the change.”… “I believe that my need to get involved as an activist stems from a lack of advocacy of public libraries in the past. If we had been promoting them and raising their profile all along we would not be in the mess we are in now”
“If the “Big Society” was about shifting real power to local communities, I would be all for it. But localism and community ownership are a smokescreen for massive spending cuts and the transfer of assets to the unelected and unaccountable private and voluntary sectors. This has been made possible by a lack of resources, low expectations from citizens, a lack of passion from public sector workers and the absence of ambition from successive governments.” Big Society or Big Con?BookSeller (John Pateman).  Looking at the pros and cons of volunteers running libraries. 

  • CaistorVillage SOS (BBC One). Caistor Arts and Culture Centre – old church turned into library amongst other things, with help from council, the Big Lottery Fund and the BBC.
  • Communities anxious for changeLocality.  “With over 500 community-led regeneration practitioners and supporters expected to attend, Locality ’11 will be the largest event of its kind across the country.” Tickets cost up to £420 plus VAT.
  • DCMS Taking Part survey: imagine what could be achieved if we invested in our public librariesVoices for the Library.  “what is most stark about these figures is that social background appears to have no bearing on library usage…The report also demonstrated the importance of public libraries for children, not least considering the increasing cull of school libraries … If authorities are threatening to close up to 50% of libraries when usage has remained stable, will similar cuts be applied to other council services? … Councillors and politicians may be keen to argue that libraries are becoming irrelevant, in order to justify closing them or staffing them with volunteers. The facts suggests otherwise.”
  • Ground level viewCommunity Knowledge Hub.   “Thanks to all the councils and communities that have been in touch, we’ve recently been in discussions regarding the potential community transfer of more than fifty libraries! I will in due course be contacting everyone who has expressed interest to formally join the network, so please bear with me.” … list of volunteer-run libraries currently being developed by CHK/Locality … “All of this demonstrates that, while there is absolutely the potential to support innovative service transformation in relation to libraries, communities need support and the cooperation of local authorities and other partners to achieve this.”
  • Outsourcing urged to alleviate austerityFinancial Times.   Chief Exec of Capita says “When you can see local authorities closing libraries, swimming pools, it’s criminal,” he said. “It’s a political agenda. Billions of pounds could be saved and the public wouldn’t notice the difference.” … “The FTSE 100 company, which already provides services such as storing criminal records for the Home Office and collecting television licence fees for the BBC, expects a wave of outsourcing as the squeeze in public spending forces central and local government to look at radical ways of slashing costs.”… ““Why wouldn’t you outsource council tax collection rather than closing a library?” Mr Pindar asked.”.  LGA says ““Cuts to council budgets are both big and front-loaded, which means savings have to be made now and an impact on services is regrettably inevitable. To suggest otherwise is either self-serving or naive,”
    • Capita Chief calls cuts criminalEWeek.   Campaign4Change points out Capita makes huge amounts of money from government/council contracts and that any outsourcing should be to smaller companies.
  • September is Library Card Sign-up Month – ALA (USA).  “a time to remind parents and children that a library card is the most important school supply of all” 
“The library is such a great equalizer. It doesn’t take money. You can have access to anything and everything in the world and get that knowledge and that entertainment for free. Especially in our economy right now, with things being expensive and people being laid off and  families having issues, to be able to come to the Library … that’s kind of amazing.”  Tyra Banks visits NYPL and talks libraries – NYPL (USA).  

  • Von Hahn: Turning the page on sleek architecture – Star (Canada).  “In a city as diverse as ours, with a large population of new Canadians from all over the world, free access to great works, tools for learning and information is so essential, it’s obvious cost-efficiency types keen on closures and privatization haven’t read past the introduction.”.  Toronto has been remodellign many of its library buildings, emphasising them as “urban living rooms”.  Usage has gone up by from 22 to 66% in each.

Changes 

Cornwall – 19 library managers may be lost.  £1 million cut.
Herefordshire – 2 mobiles have now been withdrawn, replaced by needs-tested home delivery service.
Warwickshire – Between 86 to 120 jobs to be lost as volunteers take over running of 16 branches.   

Local News

  • Barnet  Have you ever used the green? – Times series.  “As part of the campaign to save Friern Barnet Library, we are considering applying to have the piece of green land to the west of the library designated as a village green.”
  • Bradford – Campaigns to keep lending facilities openTelegraph & Argus.  District libraries under threat of closure have until next week to come up with a rescue plan. Libraries in Wrose, Heaton, Wilsden, Addingham and Denholme are all earmarked for closure as part of a bid by Bradford Council to save £70,000.”  Deadline has been extended twice.  “In Addingham, the campaign to save the village library is turning into quite a success story, with nearly 30 volunteers on board so far. A charitable association has been set up and several meetings have been held to look at developing the layout of the 17th century building once it has been taken over on October 1.”
  • Brent – Campaigners raise money to support action against library closures Harrow Times.    “Residents campaigning to save Preston Library from closure spent last Friday collecting money outside Sainsbury’s, in Kenton, after taking the council to the High Court last month … On Sunday, September 18, Councillor Paul Lorber (Liberal Democrats) will take part in the Fryent Country Park 5km run in support of the campaign.”
    • “Give us inquiry into Brent’s library closures” minister told – Harrow Observer.   “Anti-cuts campaigners who manned a stall outside Neasden Library in Neasden Lane, Neasden, on Saturday collected more than 160 names urging Tory minister Jeremy Hunt to intervene.” … “Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Paul Lorber said: “Irrespective of the outcome of the legal action, the secretary of state still has a responsibility to decide whether Brent Council is capable of running a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service with just six libraries. “If there is any element of doubt then he should order an inquiry. He should not judge himself.”
    • Petitions rally support for Brent librariesBookSeller.  “Many people said how much they and their children value the services that the libraries provide. For their sake I hope Jeremy Hunt listens and orders an inquiry.”
  • Cornwall  – Library job cuts lead to quality fears – BBC.  19 managers may go.  “Lib Dem Councillor Alex Folks said the library staff “are excellent but this proposal will axe the most experienced leadership”. Mr Roden [UNISON] said losing experienced staff will “inevitably lead to a reduced service” and the proposals could see many of Cornwall’s top library managers taking “voluntary redundancy or revised roles”.  Former manager says “If they are more under stress, they are less likely to give the great personal service which our library staff have in the past.”
  • Dorset  – Libraries unite to investigate council’s offerDorset Echo.   ““We have also recommended that, wherever possible, negotiations should be run by Ad Lib on behalf of all nine libraries, rather than all try and deal with the County Council on our own.” … However, Mr Chaney added: “When it comes to things like money I think each community will have to do its own negotiations because it may depend how much each community has got in its pot.” 
  • Herefordshire – Future of mobile library serviceHerefordshire Council.   2 mobile libraries withdrawn, to be replaced by a “library home delivery service” assessed on needs of health and mobility.
  • Somerset  – Taunton Library cuts opening hours – This is the WestCountry.   “REDUCED opening hours at Taunton Library will come into effect from October 3 as part of massive cutbacks by Somerset County Council.”  Cut of ten hours per week.  Legal injunction means ““Whilst the injunction stops the withdrawal of funding, the council is still able to change the opening hours of the 23 other libraries.”
  • Warwickshire – Residents in bid to take over threatened Warwickshire librariesCoventry Telegraph.   “Coun Colin Hayfield, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for customers, access and physical assets, said: “It’s extremely encouraging to have heard from all 16 communities where libraries were seen as no longer viable.”  Council extended deadline after just six submissions were originally received.  “The removal of “unsustainable” libraries from council control could see between 86 to 120 people lose their jobs.”
  • Westminster – Anger over closure of Victoria library and three One Stop services – Westminster Chronicle.  “St James’s Library and the Victoria One Stop service, both in Victoria Street, closed their doors for the last time on Tuesday.”
  • Wirral  – So this is what they mean by “lifelong learning”Wirral Globe.   “From now on, when parents are going through the legal process of officially naming their child at the Registrar’s Office, they will also be handed an interim membership card for their child for Wirral Libraries.”  Libraries are “packed with music, stories, games, crafts, puzzles, child-size furniture, picture-books, and – significantly – other children.”