Comment

Reed are advertising librarian vacancies in three London boroughs at £7 per hourThe national minimum wage is £5.93 per hour.  That’s around £13,500 p.a., in London, as a temporary, probably part time (it doesn’t say) professionally qualified librarian.  The sad thing is, doubtless, they will get people to work for this – there’s not many librarian jobs going at the moment, times are hard and people need the money.  The three boroughs in question?  Sutton (£1m cut off £6m budget this year), Croydon (currently looking for a private company to take it over; 23 jobs already gone in April, another 26 likely to go) and Merton (opening hours cut, volunteers staffing one library on Mondays).  That last part is perhaps the killer.  In years to come, £7 per hour may be £7 per hour more than what most library staff are paid.
In other news, it’s a case of “another day another link to an anti-LSSI document”, this time from Florida.  It’s worth a read, especially the bit where it says that LSSI may take as much as 15% profit per year from a contract. 
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

  • Amazon Kindle gets a library card – Wired. Starting today, library patrons and Amazon e-book lovers have no reason to needle each other over which source of books is superior. Or at the very least, they have a comfortable meeting place where they can (quietly) exchange both book recommendations and spirited taunting.  As announced in April, Amazon now supports borrowing e-books from local libraries. Library-lent books will work on both Kindle e-readers and Kindle smartphone or tablet apps. Library books, though temporary, work just like any other Kindle e-book…”  … “It’s a good thing (I hope) for libraries, who can reach or reconnect with a wide range of patrons in different media. (Let’s hope whatever deal they struck with Amazon doesn’t prove ruinous, or gets slashed back by budget-busting administrative and government crusaders.)”
  • Florida Library Association opposes outsourcing of Osceola Library System – FLA (USA).   LSSI interested in taking over Osceola, librarians not so keen as (a) loss of local community control, (b) “LSSI has acknowledged that they reduce costs in part by laying off all current employees, then rehiring some, but with reduced salaries and benefits. What services and service levels will be reduced to achieve LSSI’s budget projections?”, (c) need for enforceable service plan, (d) need for future transparency, especially as no public notice before now, (e) profit margin “One report suggests LSSI’s profits are around 15% and that any unexpended funds become profit. The public should have a right to know how much a private company is being paid to provide a service.”, (f) no competitors, “In at least one community (Fargo, ND), LSSI fees were substantially increased after the initial contract.”
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”–Neil Gaiman 

“This government should hang its head in shame for even considering axeing this programme. For all the talk about improving literacy among children, they seem to be bent on destroying it, first by trying to get rid of BookStart, then by shutting libraries and now by cutting the one programme that has a proven track record in teaching children to read.” Perspectives on literacy: They are axeing the scheme that taught my son to read Independent (Letters). 

Changes

Local news

  • Brent – Council spending in spotlight – BookSeller.  Local library campaigner Samantha Warrington termed the spending “yet more evidence of shocking waste and incompetence” by the council. She told the Harrow Observer: “Officials are paying more than £1 million a month to consultants while cutting frontline services such as libraries.”
“The libraries paper on this must be longest political suicide note in #croydon history” Cllr Wayne Lawlor on the outsourcing of libraries in Croydon (Twitter).

  • Cumbria – Is it time to change Cumbria’s libraries? – Cumbria Council (email).  “ Cabinet has agreed that changes to the service should be made on an area-by-area basis which will see county councillors in each district work closely with communities to bring about improvements which meet the differing needs of residents around the county.”.  Cuts to services in those areas with reduced usage, no cuts in service funding.  May mean closures, co-location of libraries with other services, even in shops. 
“Public library services stand at crucial point in their development. They are no longer regarded as the “street corner universities” of their early days and they now have to compete with a host of information and leisure services, many of them IT based, that did not exist even 20 years ago. If public library services are to survive and prosper they must adapt to change to ensure that they are as relevant to people today and particularly tomorrow as they were to our forebears.”

    • Cabinet Report – Cumbria Council.  Cabinet agrees changes to library service, details inc. “The Community library – an initiative designed to test out the validity and practicality of a return to the idea of the village reading room, organised by the local community for the local community under the sponsorship of the County Council;” … “The depth and intensity of feeling generated recently in a number of Cumbrian communities by the perception that their local library was under threat of closure is a powerful force that needs to be harnessed and channelled to achieve positive outcomes that may vary according to local need, circumstance and opportunity”
  • Durham – Report condemns Consett library conditionChronicle Live.  ““There is no sense of arrival in the town. No conservation area and only one listed building (a church) in the town centre. A number of buildings are run-down and the library in particular is in poor condition and poorly integrated.” says consultants.  Council refuses to confirm library building will stay open, ““This could mean the town being served by a mobile library.”
  • Newham – Save the children’s area in Stratford LibraryLibrary E15.   “Newham Council plan to close the library to the public for “refurbishment” for as long as six months from 1 October 2011. In these building works, the children’s library will be radically reduced in size in order to accommodate non-library Council services that will reportedly move from where they are now over the road at the Local Service Centre at The Grove. One member of library staff reported that the planned changes would see our cherished children’s library reduced to a space similar in size to the small children’s area at The Gate in Forest Gate. “ Very little warning to the public, no consultation.
  • Hounslow – Books no longer apparently a priority – Brentford TW8. “This ten year strategy helps to prioritise how we manage, fund and operate libraries across the borough, whilst retaining our high standards against the background of huge cuts from central government. We understand how important libraries are to the community, with almost 1.75 million visits to libraries during 2009-2010 and over 50% of the population in Hounslow having visited a library in the past 12 months.”
  • Northern Ireland – Library hours under review – Carrick Times. “All my children are avid readers, but I don’t see how we can encourage children to read when the libraries are hardly open,” she said. “They have spent a fortune on refurbishing the Whitehead branch so we hoped that opening hours would increase.” … ““Whitehead is a beautiful village, but there fewer and fewer places to go. I worry that eventually the town will just become empty,” she said.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Loan limit placed on most popular books – Dispatch.  “A top ten of the favourite paperbacks is compiled and the charts will change regularly as more users take out certain books.”.  Top ten books will only be allowed to be borrowed for a week, in order to cut down on waits.
  • Oxfordshire – How very courageous, Minister… oh dear, is it, why? – Question Everything.  Libraries having funding withdrawn in Conservative-voting rural areas, sometimes with small majorities “When the councillors are on the doorstep in 2013 and the library users are volunteering and are too busy to vote or more likely having to travel great distances because some of the libraries will have closed by then, it is unlikely they are going to want to pop to the polling both and support the party who took their library away.”.  Cuts falling most harshly on front-line, “the complete opposite of government policy”.
  • Somerset – Library campaigners hit fundraising goal – BookSeller.  “In July, lawyers representing the campaigners obtained an injunction stopping all closures ahead of a judicial review in Birmingham from 27-29th September. The campaigners have raised more than £9,000 towards funding their legal battle. Kay Hoskins, chair of Friends of Somerset Libraries, said: “We are extremely pleased and grateful for all the wonderful support we have received across the county.”
  • Wiltshire – Libraries on area agendaWiltshire Times.   “Topics on the agenda include youth and leisure services, libraries, recycling and community campus projects.”