Comment

The “Closures since 1st April 2011” page of Public Libraries News includes all those libraries which have left council control since then.  This was due to the need, in my view, for there to be a simple headline figure.  However, it can be seen as misleading – some of these branches are not closed.  One has been given to volunteers, four to social enterprises and one is now paid for by a parish council.  
So, perhaps this needs rephrasing.  Most of the terms that can be used, though, are politically biased. “Divested” is the term often used by councils, presumably because it sounds pleasant and people are not sure what it means.  “Dumped” or “Abandoned” is the term sometimes used by campaigners.  I would be happy to hear from readers as to what terms I should use.  Clever ones, especially if neutral and accurate, will get extra points. At the moment, the title will probably change to “Closures or Divestments since 1st April 2011″ but I am sure better terms can be thought up.  Let’s hear them via commenting below or emailing publiclibraries@live.co.uk.  Thank you.
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

“It is worth noting that neither the Guardian or the BBC made any reference to public libraries offering free internet access, nor did they mention the impact library closures could have on those that are digitally excluded.  You may argue that the point isn’t directly relevant to those particular articles.  Maybe not.  However, it is worth remembering that although there have been plenty of positive shifts in the coverage of libraries in the past year, commentators still do not see libraries as a solution to modern-day problems.  For library advocacy to have any real success, this has to change.  Because if people of influence cannot see the role libraries can and should play in addressing contemporary concerns, there is little hope for the future of the library service and the profession.” 5.7 million households do not have an internet connection – Thoughts of a wannabe librarian.  23% of households do not have an internet connection, 50% of those without the internet say they do not need it, “40% say that the equipment is too expensive or they do not believe they have the skills required”

  • Novel Bus-Stop libraries in Israel promote green transportation – Green Prophet (Israel).   “at the beginning of the first experimental week, the books disappeared. By the end of that week, not only were the books returned, but new ones were added.”
  • “No, we shouldn’t just Google it: John Walsh laments the death of the reference book” –  Independent. “It’s easy to feel a nostalgic throb for the old reference library on your desk. As the dictionary market steadily declines, and sales of thesauruses plummet by a shocking 24 per cent, the very word “thesaurus” has never sounded more like a dinosaur.”  Online resources are often shallow and limited in comparison to paper resources.
  • Storm battered flock to the public library – Library Journal.  “A common theme in recent years when disaster strikes has been the emergence of public libraries as the de facto recovery center for many cities and towns. Hurricane Irene was no exception and there are some concrete numbers as well as many anecdotes to demonstrate this.”
  • Who cares about libraries?Macleans (Canada).   “Canadians apparently. Far from being under siege (except in Toronto), they’re thriving—and experimenting.”…”One reason is the comparative health of public finances in Canada, where government deficits are generally less crushing than in other rich countries. As well, aversion among Canadian politicians to taxation to fund services is far less fervid than in the U.S.”

Changes

  • Devon – Combe Martin open for 10 hours a week instead of 19 and Lynton open for 6. Braunton opening hours have also been cut from 37 hours a week to 21. Ilfracombe Library have lost 7 hours and will be open for 33 hours a week.  
  • Oxfordshire – Campaign Group: Friends of Kennington Library, Save Botley Library 

Local News

  • Bolton – Councillors vote against volunteers in libraries – Bolton News.  “Cllr Walsh’s motion was defeated by Labour councillors. Liberal Democrat councillors abstained from voting.”
    • Save Bolton’s Libraries – Save Our Libraries [from email]. Event on Thursday 8th September at Bolton 7pm, Central Library Lecture Theatre. “Questions or contributions from the floor will be very welcome. We hope to stimulate a lively discussion on how we can save our threatened libraries, as well as provide an update on the campaign so far. If you care about the future of libraries in our town, please come along.”
  • Brent – Friday 23rd September: Fundraising film night in Kilburn, Cruel Separation – Save Kensal Rise Library.   “Tickets can be bought at Brent SOS Libraries events OR ordered by post for collection on the night from Samantha Warrington, 254 Carlton Avenue East, HA9 8PZ . Cheques should be made payable to Bindmans LLP.”
  • Devon – New reduced opening hours for Ifracombe Library – This is North Devon.   “In addition to the consultation responses, population size; how the local communities use their libraries; how close they are to other nearby libraries; and the cost of providing the service have all been taken into account by the council. Social factors such as deprivation have also influenced the new opening hours.”
  • Isle of Wight – Proposed community libraries to get improved access to online tools – Ventnor Blog.   Datalines to five volunteer-run libraries will be upgraded at council expense.
  • Lancashire – Longridge Library to re-open following £200,000 refurbishment – Click Lancashire.  “Audrey Taylor, manager at Longridge Library, said: “People will hardly recognise the library! As well as new windows and a new roof, there’s a completely fresh layout with new flooring and modern comfortable furniture.”
  • Oxfordshire – Call for openness on library staff needs – Witney Gazette. The “County Council does not know how many volunteers will be needed to staff its libraries if a planned reorganisation goes ahead, campaigners have warned.”…campaigner says ““The council just gave us a proposal without any consultation whatsoever. It is crazy, because we have some fantastic ideas, and it was very disappointing.”
    • Question everything: flawed consultations and why volunteers don’t work – Question Everything. Exhaustive analysis of data used in consultation, yardsticks used and assumptions. Council had apparently used suggestions gleaned from the Save Doncaster Libraries website which reprinted MLA guidance to the council there. Volunteer training costs also analysed: “They are actually going to lose money on this in the first year and won’t see any actual savings until year four, and even those will be minimal. The other costs will reoccur because things like first aid and fire marshal training have to be renewed. I used the sources for the costs that match the certificates for the staff that are on the wall in the library. On the level of volunteers we have a community shop in Ascott and they require 4 part-time staff and 36 volunteers so the numbers of volunteers needed is probably conservative.”