“In 1919, WI member Mary Close wrote: “The first and greatest dfficulty in running a successful library is to get the right person as librarian. Too often, alas, one has to put up with someone whose only qualification is that they have the time to give to the work.”  WI

The WI has come out firmly against volunteers running libraries in their latest press release.  Strangely, this move will almost certainly be supported by many of the volunteers themselves.  I am not aware of a single one that would not prefer the council to run the library instead of them and many are only now volunteering after unsuccessfully fighting to keep their local branch open with paid workers.  The following comment from Shirley Burnham on the BookSeller article about volunteers sums it up beautifully:
“An article from Surrey dated today, bearing the headline “Progress On The First Wave of ‘Community’ Libraries” goes on to contradict that positive spin, quoting representatives of two local libraries, the first of whom says “We would rather not be in this position, but we are and we are going to make the best of it”; and the second who states “We are wholly against the policy. We don’t want to go down the volunteer route; that is a recipe for disaster as far as we are concerned”. http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/Progress-wave-community-libraries/sto…

Dozens and dozens of similar reports abound : Dorset campaigners are “heartbroken”, cries of despair emanate from Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Isle of Wight, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Yorkshire, London boroughs : the list is too long to itemise. Many fine public librarians and library assistants have lost their jobs or are obliged to train volunteers whilst awaiting their brown envelopes; demoralised likewise, but enjoying little useful support from their professional bodies.

In the background, plumply, sit Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister and Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State — “watching carefully,” the kiss of death being applied to the public library service for which they have statutory responsibility. Busy with other matters perhaps or, I suspect, standing over the photocopier, printing up “Do Not Resuscitate” orders — to be affixed libraries throughout the land.

One can only hope that the WI will give them a good shaking and bring them to their senses, before it is too late.”

Incidentally, the WI has produced an excellent campaign pack which is worth a look.

Please sign the national petition in support of public libraries.

431 libraries (345 buildings and 86 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

  • Copyright confusion dogs European digitisation push - BBC.  About 43% of the sample were orphan works suggesting a large part of Europe’s media may never go online.” suggesting that there will always be a need for physical libraries holding them.
“Hope all supporting WI libraries action day by taking a book out of local library today. Sadly mine now shut on fridays -case in point!”  (GloriaDePieroMP, Twitter).

“There will never be enough words to write about libraries and my very personal encounters with their books. Beyond the family influence, the happy accidental encounters, and various events from my life; libraries are and will always be the main constant in my professional and human achievements (because I don’t see how one could develop in the absence of the other)….Hymn to the Libraries - Inside HigherEd. 

  • WI slams government over volunteer-run libraries - BookSeller.   “Speaking as the WI began its latest library action, asking each of its members to borrow a book from their library today (16th September), chair Ruth Bond said it was “simply not good enough” to assume that volunteers will step in to continue providing services previously supplied by professionals.”

Changes

Local News

  • Angus – Family want library to stay as a town assetArbroath Herald.  “The family of the man who gifted the public library to the people of Arbroath have spoken out against any transfer of ownership of the building.”
  • Bolton – Politicians are grilled over cuts to libraries - Bolton News.   Videos of all the speakers.  “More than 100 people packed into the lecture theatre in Le Mans Crescent directly underneath the 139,763 books in Bolton Central Library. The meeting, chaired by The Bolton News’ deputy editor Lynn Ashwell, was organised by the Save Bolton Libraries Campaign.”.  Council does not want to makes cuts but sees no choice as to massive budget cuts.  High profile of library campaign noted – it’s apparently impossible not be aware of it in Bolton, with it being “in the Bolton News every day”.
    • Bolton – Speech at DebateSave Bolton Libraries. ”Libraries are not some relic of the steam age, but serve a whole range of functions in modern society, as a venue for friendship, learning, childcare, healthy living, business support, job search, IT access and much more.” …”We feel there is still some scope for savings through shared services with other Greater Manchester authorities, postponing Sunday opening of Central Library, and looking at cutting councillors’ allowances and expenses as the Labour Council in Bury is now doing.” … ”We reject the three options on offer – there is a fourth option – recognise the strength of public opinion and leave the libraries budget alone!”
  • Bristol – Mobile library is under threat - This is Bristol.   “In the year to the end of March there were 113,525 books issued, compared to 117,145 the year before – down three per cent. The number of people using the service has dropped more dramatically, from 9,206 to 7,596 – a fall of 17 per cent – in the same period. At 12 years old the mobile library van is also near the end of its life. A replacement would cost around £100,000 but the council has not allocated funding for this.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Meeting on future of Ivinghoe Library – Leighton Buzzard Observer.  “But the Friends say that help and support are now essential to make the library a success. For more information there is a meeting from 7.30 pm on Wednesday, September 21 at Ivinghoe town hall.”
  • North Somerset – Town library to be saved by listed building status?Mercury.   “The historic building housing Weston Library could soon be protected indefinitely, after 
heritage watchdogs assessed it as a candidate for listing…. Fears were expressed that the eye-catching building could be demolished after North Somerset Council withdraws the library service and moves it to a new base at Weston Town Hall.”
  • North Yorkshire – Residents in Gargrave and Embsay await decision on libraries - Craven Herald and Pioneer.   “…in Embsay, supporters are looking at asking villagers how much they would be willing to contribute to keep the library open.”…”Gargrave supporters, who are pressing on after appealing to the community for business help earlier this year, are hopeful their plan will be accepted.”
  • Northern Ireland – Angry over proposal to reduce library opening hours - Antrim Times.  
  • Oxfordshire – Volunteering at libraryOxford Mail.  “I am very unhappy about the volunteer proposals with regard to the Wychwoods library. I believe it to be unworkable and would lead to the closure of the library. At my age (90), I would be unable to get to any other library in the vicinity.”
  • Surrey – Progress on the first wave of “community libraries” - This is Surrey Today.  Tattenhams forming a volunteer group against their will, Lingfield “”We are wholly against the policy. We don’t want to go down the volunteer route; that is a recipe for disaster as far as we are concerned.”, Warlingham “A friends’ group has been established and they are leafleting the area to gather more volunteers. Ideas being mooted include charging people to use the library.”
  • Wandsworth – Becoming the “Big Society” library - Save York Gardens.   “When it reopens the ibrary will begin to officially operate as the ‘Big Society’ library. The Friends of York Gardens Library, a community group formed after the library was saved from closure, will take over a lot of the decision making and become accountable for the library making sufficient income to allow it to remain open with reduced funding.”