Comment

This cultural and sporting life: the taking part 2010/11 adult and child report by the DCMS has some interesting things to say about library usage.  The main point being that library usage has remained steady since 2008/9 for children and for adults.  Three-quarters of children and two-fifths of adult have used the public library over the last year, with females more likely (44% to 34%) to be users.  Adults with disabilities have similar usage rates.  Although usage is signicantly lower (down from 48.2% to 39.7%) than it was in in 2005/6 this has stabilised for the last two years.  There is less of a difference in use of libraries between rich and poor areas than in any other cultural sector.  Usage in both rural and urban areas is roughly the same.  Of those who were dissatisfied with the service (bearing in mind this is just 3.6% of the total), a full 54% were unhappy with the choice and physical condition of the resources available, with less than 1% of the total expressing dissatisfaction with library staff.
The report suggests that libraries are not “just for the middle class” and, although not sadly being as vigorously used as six years before, are not in terminal decline.  This is especially obvious amongst that most essential of age groups – children learning to read and to love reading.
415 libraries (333 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

  • A few reasons to be grateful for James PattersonTelegraph.  As the barely-audible debate over the closure of public libraries continues to be choked by apathy, the big noise in publishing this morning is the news that crime writer James Patterson has been named easily the world’s best paid author by Forbes Magazine….But best of all, it’s compulsive and plentiful. The more greedy readers there are, the bigger the queue at the library.”
  • Anti-cuts groups say no to private sectorGuardian (Letters).  Open letter expressing concern about the Opening Public Services white paper, signed amongst others by Voices for the Library, Alan Gibbons and several other library campaign groups. “in reality, it will be the private sector that benefits from opening up this huge market. If the plans go ahead, companies will be able to make a profit from services previously run by the state and local authorities, while taxpayers subsidise them.” 
  • Breaking down the barriers within the profession#uklibchat.  Librarians in all sectors need to be aware of eachother and provide mutual support.
  • Check out relationships with public libraries – Reporter (USA).  Article versus self-service and e-books.  “These ladies always seemed so pleased to have me come into their library. They greeted me by name and, as time went by, they noticed what I liked to read and always had the newest book in that genre set aside just for me.”
  • Drafting the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964Voices for the Library.  Guest post by Francis Bennion.   “literal compliance” to the Act is not enough and what is implied by it is also necessary to be considered. “Thus for example it is implied by the 1964 Act that library authorities will fulfil their duties properly, will provide suitable buildings that can accurately be called libraries, and will employ sufficient trained, experienced, paid staff, not relying unduly on volunteers.”.  Describes the Future Libraries report as “primarily a charter, stuffed with jargon, for reducing costs. Yet any library authority which in 2012 and subsequently spends substantially less on its library service than it did in 2009 would be acting unlawfully.” 
  • Grim reading in library dispute – Star (Canada). “Atwood imagined in more than one of her novels the kind of dystopian city Toronto would become should its libraries be cut, shuttered or privatized…The situation in Toronto is eerily similar to the U.K.’s now year-round debate about library closures, replete with literary luminaries rallying to the cause.”
  • Guest view: don’t privatize our libraries – Pasadena Star-News (USA).   “…the so-called “savings” represent taxpayer dollars siphoned out of the community and delivered instead to a far-away corporate headquarters….We know library money is tight now, and that’s all the more reason to make sure it’s spent wisely.”
  • Let’s make a list: using FourSquare in libraries Go Librarians.  Another way to promote libraries.
  • Libraries are “beating hearts of communities” says Scottish writer – STV.   “Theresa Breslin praised the role libraries play in fostering creative writing and nourishing the community”…”She has taken her campaign to the Scottish Parliament, fearing a badly co-ordinated network of services will have a detrimental effect. She said: “Whatever government is in should look survey the nation and try to co-ordinate it.”
“I truly believe they are the new cathedrals. Libraries are changing, but what doesn’t change is that sense of sanctuary,” says Mr. Thom. “It’s a social space, but it’s also a psychological place where there’s a kind of relaxed tension. You’re working with other people who are also working, so you are kind of inspired by them. There’s no other civic space like it.” Library is not just a book warehouse any more – Globe and Mail (Canada).  

  • Making room for readersMillions (USA).  An American library (in a large branch – the smaller library tried first by the writer had been closed) insists on child being able to write their name before given child a library card. “In an era of reduced library budgets and hours, closing bookstores, declining sales, and lost readers, discouraging anyone, of any age, from picking up a book they’re interested in seems like the last thing we should be doing.” 
  • Shameless quangocrats who jump from one state-funded gravy train to another – Mail.   “All too predictably, several of the MLA’s top quangocrats made the smooth passage to the Arts Council, among them Hedley Swain, who is currently on £72,000 as director of programme delivery, and Nicola Morgan, who is programme manager of sector improvement at the MLA but from October will be director of libraries at the Arts Council.” [It is perhaps worth pointing out that appointments were made by competitive application/interview].
  • Will Young: “I wasn’t happy, I was rude to people, I was a baby” – Telegraph.  “From post offices to libraries – the desire to make everything more streamlined and mechanical takes away any human interaction. And then you wonder why young people are growing up with no sense of where they belong. Or any sense of social cohesion or mutual responsibility. It’s all about yourself.”

Changes

Local News

  • Angus – Councillor against library transfer  – Arbroath Herald.  move by Angus Council to transfer ownership of Arbroath Library building from the Common Good Fund to the local authority’s general fund.”
  • Bolton – Tories fight to save library set for closure – Bolton News.  ““The point of the meeting next week is to allow us to put together a comprehensive Astley Bridge response to the consultation. This is not about us as three ward councillors, this is about Astley Bridge as a whole.” 
  • Brent – Urgent: Write to Jeremy Hunt now to save our libraries – Save Kensal Rise Library.  It is extremely important that we keep up the pressure to save the library from closure. Although the outcome of the judicial review has been deferred to early October there is something that we can all be doing”
  • Buckinghamshire – Concerns at viability of Chalfont St Peters Library plans – Bucks Free Press. “”While we welcome the Council’s decision to include Chalfont St Peter in Phase One of the implementation of the County/Community Library model, we are still waiting for Buckinghamshire County Council to provide all the information we need to enable our Committee to determine the feasibility and long term viability of a Community Library in Chalfont St Peter. ” 
  • Cambridgeshire – Emerging library vision revealed as part of review Cambridgeshire County Council.  “Ideas such as shared services across Councils, use of volunteers, staff restructuring and self service will continue to go forward. The Council will also look at whether other council services and even local business or community facilities such as Post Offices could share buildings making them real community hubs.” 
  • Doncaster – Libraries reading scheme “hypocritical” – BBC.   “We find it quite ironic that during the summer reading challenge the libraries are promoting the brilliant challenge but then next year there’s going to be half the number of libraries and fewer books for kids to read, fewer services and kids are not going to have the access to that reading challenge.” says Lauren Smith.
    • Hypocrisy claim over reading challengeYorkshire Post.  ““It is not my policy to close any library in Doncaster. I am faced with the challenge to make tough decisions as a result of £80m of Government spending cuts.”
    • Lauren Smith interviewed about Doncaster libraries – BBC Radio Sheffield (23:00 – 29:30) .  Interviews people using at Wheatley Library, due for closure.  Summer reading challenge “irony” as half will be closed, with the same councillors pushing children to read also voting for them to close.  “The library service really hasn’t promoted itself”.  Children’s librarian made redundant and libraries have ceased promoting it summer reading challenge via school assemblies.
  • East Lothian – “Waiting game” over East Lothian council services – East Lothian News.  “East Lothian Council is currently canvassing the public on the proposal which could see a whole range of community wellbeing activities move to enjoyleisure. Poised for transfer are: cultural services such as libraries, museums and arts service…”
  • Isle of Wight – New offer of help to library campaigners – IWCP.   Rural Community Council may take responsibility for Bembridge Library finances when the Council divests control.  ” “The long-term success of this project will depend on the hard work and commitment of volunteers. We know how important it is to maintain services in rural areas and hope our involvement will help to establish a community-run library in Bembridge” says RCC.
  • Lancashire – Plan to move library into New Road Community Centre criticised by councillors Craven Herald & Pioneer.  “That building (Coronation Hall) is packed full of books. To close the library and replace it with a few shelves in a new location is despicable,” he said.“It’s a massive con on the people of Earby and West Craven. For goodness sake, don’t allow it to happen.”
  • Monmouthshire – Chepstow library to have £120,000 facelift – Free Press.  “The refurbished library will deliver a new reading garden, an improved area for young people and a new space for family and local history research. Technological improvements will include self-service machines, Wi-Fi and laptops for use in the library.”  Funded by CyMAL and council.
  • North Yorkshire – Council issues library reminder – Yorkshire Post.  ““The council is looking for local communities too develop local solutions on how they are going to carry on that service. What we are encouraging people to do is think outside the library service and look to see how they can use it as a community base. We are asking them to take on the running of that, or if they want us to carry on running to find funds to make that happen. I welcome the community groups developing the proposals and we have still got time to work through them.”… “Campaigning at a high level is still going on but we are saying to people you can assume this won’t be successful in retaining the library as it is now.” 
  • Oxfordshire – Library has not seen “Where’s Wally” book in yearsOxford Times.   “The cash-strapped authority is owed £17,210.85 on items not returned and £29,677.77 on returned items.”
  • Westminster – Anger over library closureWestminster Chronicle.  St James Library to be closed despite public objections.  “It’s outrageous that the council is spending over a £1million a year on eleven campaigners and expensive consultants, as this amount could keep the library open for the next three years.”.  Library to close 23rd August.