Comment

Some interesting news for those concerned with outsourcing.  The first is this from Cambridgeshire Council, which seems to put a nail in the coffin of taking libraries out of direct council control and setting them up in separate Trusts:
“The likely Government decision to allow local authorities to retain elements of business rates creates a major challenge for the viability of the Trust option. The Trust was expected to save more than £500k in business rates, which was essential to its business case. If local authorities, as anticipated, are allowed to retain some elements of business rates, then although the Trust itself would save money, the Council would not as there would be a reduction in the level of business rates the Council receives. As it will require significant investment to establish a Trust, it is therefore proposed that Cabinet agrees not to pursue further the development of a Trust.” Cambridgeshire Council

The second news is from Hounslow, the only British authority with a library service run by a private company.  For those who see private companies as a saviour for those libraries, that would otherwise face closures, the evidence is now in that it ain’t necessarily so.  After only being stopped from closing eight branches (out of only eleven) by a massive public outcry, Hounslow are now going for the whole range of other options that are so familiar in other, more traditionally run libraries – cut in bookfund, reduction in opening hours, reduction in staffing, use of volunteers and the spectre of library closures just postponed for now.  Privatisation does not appear, in this case, to lead to immunity.  Perhaps, in this dire new age, few things do.

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 lifts edge of curtain on Kindle library lendingLibrary Journal (USA).  “According to the Amazon posting, a library patron visits the website of a U.S. library that offers digital services from OverDrive; the patron then checks out a Kindle book (library card required); then clicks on “Get for Kindle.” The patron is then directed to Amazon.com to redeem the public library loan. They may be required to login to their Amazon.com account — or create a new account — if they are not already logged in.”.  Hmmm.
  • Children “betrayed” by plan to revamp Stratford library – London Evening News.  “Newham council is to close Stratford Library for six months on October 1 as part of a £2.2 million refurbishment that will move the children’s area to a smaller space. The council service centre is to move into the same building. Campaigners say the library will be less safe for children as it will no longer be self-contained.” … “”It’s the best thing Stratford has going for it for children. In a borough like Newham, one of the youngest and most deprived in the country, we need to be investing in our young people. This is a betrayal of a whole generation.”
  • Defining “library” – Publisher’s Weekly.   Somewhat unusual article with, for instance, calling library economics “wildly irrational”.  “The value of libraries should not be measured in economic terms alone, but economic considerations must not be disregarded through an embrace of principles orphaned from their social context. What kinds of libraries are desirable, and what they mean for communities, for privacy, and for law: we must decide these all again. Fundamentally, the library must redefine its virtue for publishers and authors, and for citizens and politicians, in the midst of a world economy with significantly dampened public investment.”
  • Ford backs down on library closures – Star (Canada).   After a massive and well-organised backlash to suggestions that Toronto has too many libraries, the mayor who suggested library cuts “told a meeting of his executive committee that he would not support closing libraries or reducing street-cleaning and snow-clearing standards to balance the budget.” … “Ford said he wasn’t actually softening his position on libraries because he never wanted to close them in the first place. His brother, Councillor Doug Ford, had suggested he personally would close a branch “in a heartbeat.” The mayor had declined to endorse or reject the suggestion.” 
  • From gods to humans: the values of librariesUndaimonia.   “In fact, it can be argued that libraries took over some of the traditional functions of religion. We frequently hear libraries referred to as ‘temples’ – temples of learning or temples to the written word….”

  • How to donate an ebook to the library – Mobile Read.  “First I located a book I wanted to check out via http://search.overdrive.com . The search result told me that it was available in other libraries, but not in my local library. On the bottom of the search page, there’s “Contact us” link. I wrote Overdrive an email that I would like to donate this particular ebook to my local library….”
  • New Maslow and libraries – Stephen’s Lighthouse.   “From the basic stuff where libraries are the source of hope and shelter for the homeless or cooling/warming centres in the summer and winter to those needs we serve for development, learning and community, WE ROCK!”
  • Public and school libraries in decline: when we need them
  • Public Libraries: A new type of town square – ICMA (USA).  “While their core mission remains information, literacy, and public education, today’s libraries act as a new type of town square, a place where people of all ages and backgrounds seek help, connect with others, and get access to the information and services they need. ” 
  • Public Libraries Improve Access for Blind and Partially Sighted People – SCL (press release).  “Already, 176 out of 210 library authorities have pledged. “We call on every library in the UK to sign up,” said President of SCL, Nicky Parker. “We are determined to break down the barriers that prevent blind and partially sighted people from using the public library like everyone else.”. 
  • Pullman to speak at Library Campaign conference – BookSeller.   “Author Philip Pullman will speak at an October day conference for library user groups, hosted by The Library Campaign in association with Voices for the Library.”
“The UK public library service is run under the statutory requirements of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. They are quite clear it is the duty of local authorities to provide the service for the benefit of all its residents. It is not allowed to diminish the service. Neither the local authority nor the central government is allowed to over see a diminution. Consequently there should be accountability and representative democracy as we pay our taxes and the service is provided. This is no longer the case in England. We recently asked a question about the numbers of volunteers now used in running community libraries through a Social Enterprise company and a charity. The local authority refused to answer and referred us to those organisations – neither of which is elected or accountable to the electorate. How can this be right or lawful?” P. Richardson comment at Voices for the Library.

Changes

Local news

  • Bolton – Fate of libraries on the agendaBolton News.  “future of Bolton’s libraries will be sealed on October 12 at a special meeting of Bolton Council’s full executive.” Campaigner says “thousands of people have said how much libraries mean to them. We can do no more and we hope a strong case has been made, and hope we have been listened to.”
  • Brent – Council’s “million pound spending spree” while libraries face closure – Harrow Observer.  This is yet more evidence of shocking waste and incompetence by Brent Council. The latest data shows more than £1.2 million was spent on consultants in March. This is much more than the £1 million over two years the council claims it is trying to save by closing six libraries.”.  Council replies “”Around £300,000 is for what is generally termed consultancy. As always, with the One Council Programme we employ consultants with specialisms only to help us save money.”
  • Bristol – Mobile library faces final chapter – Bristol 247.   ““We are firmly committed to having an outreach library service. This is why we are proposing to expand the popular At Home Service to far more customers who find themselves housebound, or for some reason cannot access their local library,” he said.  At the same time we do need to look at the future of the mobile library service, which is currently not representative in terms of the areas it serves.”
  • Cambridgeshire – 21st Century Library Service Cambridgeshire Council.  
  • Flintshire – Bagillt library faxes axe over lack of local support – Leader.  “The community council delivered questionnaires around the village asking people for their thoughts on the takeover, which would see residents each pay about £8 extra a year in local rates to cover the cost . But a low level of returns of the forms means the library could close after all.”  Council said library would close without support, 160 out of 3000 forms returned. ““We thought more people would support us because the library is one of the last things in the village. We’ve had comments saying people don’t mind going to the libraries in Flint and Holywell instead.” 
  • Hounslow – Council plot to slash book spendingChronicle series.  “The review was carried out after council proposals to close up to eight of its 11 libraries, which are run by John Laing, provoked a furious backlash.”
    • Draft library strategy – Hounslow Council.  “We are unique in that the operation of staffing, service delivery, building maintenance and refurbishment is contracted to John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) under a 15 year contract. This partnership has already achieved £1.25 million in savings over the
      past three years of operation.”
  • Northern Ireland – Situation in Northern Ireland – Voices for the Library. “To be fair the situation in Northern Ireland isn’t as bad as what is happening in the rest of the UK, but it is my opinion that closure  and cutbacks in the Library should be resisted and opposed regardless of the numbers being quoted.”.  Northern Ireland Assembly admits that library usage is increasing.  However, 34 branches not seen as viable, 10 of whom may close.
    • Gilford library not yet safeLurgan Mail.    ““Gilford Library is one of 10 libraries across Northern Ireland deemed potentially unsustainable as a result of stage two of the Strategic Review of libraries, undertaken by Libraries NI. Stage two libraries’ have been included in the Opening Hour Review proposals as no decision has been made at this point regarding the future of these libraries, however the Board of Libraries NI hopes to a make a decision at their October meeting.”