“On 22 October 2011 the Library Campaign in association with Voices for the Library will be hosting a conference for library user groups. It will be a chance for users to compare notes, find out more about the issues confronting them and produce some proposals for future action both locally and nationally. Philip Pullman has agreed to speak and there will also be contributions from some of the campaigns that are making news.

There will be also be lots of opportunity to network and to discuss the issues in small groups.
Some of the proposed discussion topics include
  • working with volunteers
  • outsourcing, privatisation, trusts etc
  • legal challenges
  • using the press
  • using social media (Facebook. Twitter etc.)
The conference will be on Saturday 22 October at the University of London Union on Malet Street, London , WC1. Travel details here. There will be a registration fee of £15 which will cover the whole day including lunch. The Library Campaign will pay reasonable travel expenses for representatives of local groups who need assistance with fares.”   Andrewtlc.blogspot.com
Speakers include Peter Challis from UNISON and campaigners from Brent, Doncaster and Gloucestershire.

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

“Indeed. Here’s the problem: when it’s an actual private company doing work for profit, there’s an incentive to keep costs down. When it’s an actual government worker with democratic oversight, there’s an incentive to keep costs down. But when you contract out to a private contractor and take both competition and government oversight mostly out of the picture, you’ve created a government-sanctioned monopoly – a private company basically does the work of the state but with an eye toward making profit, not through competition but through a parasitic relationship with the state. This is bad for taxpayers, obviously, but it gives politicians an opening to say they “shrunk government” and often line their own pockets. This is called cronyism in many circles, and with good reason.” Do private contractors save the government money? – Forbes (USA).  But a lot of faux privatization schemes are not short term – public libraries turning their operations over to private for-profit companies just to name an example.”

  • Library meetings protested by Tea PartyCincinnati.com (USA).  About eight people showed up at the Campbell County Public Library’s meeting at Plum Creek Christian Church to discuss the new planned South Branch – most [5?] wore yellow stickers stating “No new library.”
  • Moorpark City Library holds card sign-up event, Star Wars style – Ventura County Star (USA).  “Just like the library, Star Wars Day has something for everyone,” said Moorpark City Librarian Heather Cousin about the event.  The day featured a costume contest, crafts including Wookie cookie decorating, even a Chewbacca pet look-alike contest.”
  • Privatisation of public library services – Voices for the Library (Alan Wylie).   “In the UK there is evidence that the majority of opinion is “anti”.  Reasonable people of all economic backgrounds and political colour do not welcome the piecemeal destruction of their valued public library service.”.  Reasons against privatisation include: first loyalty is to shareholders, not the public; private companies can go bankrupt; commercialisation of a neutral space; deprofessionalisation of the workforce.
    “A pioneering project which has switched thousands of struggling pupils on to reading is being axed in primary schools. Research shows that the Reading Recovery Project, which involves daily one-to-one half-hour reading sessions with pupils, has had a major impact in boosting reading standards. After 12 to 20 weeks in the scheme, five- to six-year-olds saw their reading ability increase by up to 20 months – an improvement which was sustained when they were tested a year later. But schools are being forced to axe the project – or at least reduce the number of pupils to whom they offer it – because of a squeeze on school budgets, according to the National Association of Head Teachers” Reading scheme axed in cuts to school spending – Peter Scott’s library blog.

  • What are the toughest questions tossed at reference librarians? – Christian Science Monitor (USA). “And then I got to wondering. Never mind Dewey and his decimals. What are the most difficult questions that reference librarians have ever had to answer? I decided to ask them. Here’s what librarians from across North America had to say via email: …” 
  • When did books become decorations?Calgary Herald (Canada).  “”Mine’s on the other one,” she said, pointing to the kid zonked out on the other computer. I shook my head and explained how I’ve been trying to impart that libraries are for discovering good books. She just looked at me and shrugged. “Different generation,” she said.” 

Local News

  • Angus – Arbroath Guildry dean says library proposal would represent ‘immoral quarrying of common good funds’ – Courier.  “”Just because Angus is now governed by a single unitary council doesn’t mean to say the district’s individual towns are no longer entitled to their own heritage.”
  • Bolton  Number’s not up for plate on mayor’s limo – Bolton News.   “COUNCIL chiefs have ruled out selling the Mayor of Bolton’s private WH1 number plate to help save the town’s libraries.” … “current laws prevented the council from spending the money on public services and it would only be able to invest profits in another asset.”… ““Half-a-million pounds was mentioned at the meeting, but there is no number plate selling for anything close to that.” [GS1 sold for £258,775]
  • Brent – Wilson to hold Brent libraries benefitBookSeller.   Former children’s laureate Jacqueline Wilson is the latest high-profile author to take part in a fundraising benefit in aid of Brent’s six threatened libraries…. The Brent campaign has now raised close to £25,000, including a £1,000 donation from The Library Campaign and £3,000 raised by Kensal Rise campaigners selling memorabilia on eBay. Pub quizzes, dances and “tin-rattling outside Sainsbury’s” have also contributed to the total, which campaigners say brings them close to their fundraising target.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Volunteers praised for library action – Chalfonts.   Chalfont St Peter saved from closure by Friends of Chalfont St Peter Library.  “Residents in the village came together to keep the library opened and its future has now been all but secured to the delight of residents.”
  • Gloucestershire – County council cuts: 838 jobs and counting – This is Glos.   “The cuts, which bosses want to realise by 2014 under its ‘Meeting the Challenge’ project in order to balance the books, have resulted in the vast majority of jobs not being filled as staff leave. It has also led to scores of libraries and community centres being handed over to the public to run to save cash, as well as vastly reduced spending across all departments.”
  • Newcastle – Let’s talk libraries Newcastle Council.   “Join in the conversation to have your say about Newcastle Libraries’ priorities, how we spend our money and the future of our library service. Help us take your views and those of the wider community into account by participating in our public consultation event on Saturday 29 October from 10:30am – 12:30pm.”
  • Northern Ireland – Further library provision slashes revealed – 4NI.   Cregagh library to be reduced from 40 to 30 hours.  “Cllr Michael Long stated: “We intend to challenge this proposal, which is a further significant blow to library services in the Borough. Our experience in Braniel, Gilnahirk and Belvoir is that in all three cases significant reductions in hours, far from stabilising the situation, in the end led to the closure of those libraries.”
    “Without professional staff like Mrs Dunstan, I can’t see how the library could ever be as good as it is now. I want our library to stay as it is…. It’s great just as it is now, so please can we keep it that way.” 

  • Oxfordshire – Children’s public plea to save “vital” library staff – Henley Standard.   Sonning Common –  “Isabel Mulligan, 11, and Oliver Matthews, 10, addressed Oxfordshire County Council officials at a public meeting in the village hall on Monday.  More than 100 residents, library staff and teachers at the village primary school attended the meeting”. 
    • Plea from former headteacher – Henley Standard.   Sonning Common – ““I make this appeal that you consider this as a specific and special case,” he said. “When the library was taken into the school, the school went into partnership with the authority, The school still pays for heating, lighting, caretaking and the upkeep and that is a real partnership. You as the authority would have lost quite a lot of money.”
  • Staffordshire – Libraries thrive as e-book use increases – Express & Star.   “County Councillor Pat Corfield, cabinet member for culture, said that presently more than 40 per cent of e-titles are downloaded outside library opening hours.”
  • Surrey – Ebook borrowing booming for Surrey librariesSurrey Comet.   “More than 4,700 people have checked out 18,450 e-books and 11,500 e-audio books since they became available from the county council’s online library last summer.”…”“We’re determined to embrace new technology to make it easier and quicker for people to access county council services while providing better value for money.”
  • Warwickshire – Communities set to run their own libraries – This is Tamworth.   Dordon, Kingsbury, Baddesley and Water Orton have put in bids to run libraries withdrawn from by the council.  “The business cases will now come under the scrutiny of everyone from library and property, to finance and legal experts, to ensure they are realistic and allow the community every chance possible to make their library a successful operation.”