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

“Libraries are losing funding by the day. Schools are having their budgets slashed. Poor kids are getting poorer, and if we don’t make those books available to them now, they won’t know to want them tomorrow. We cannot forget the digital divide. And we can’t—we just can’t—be so excited over something new and shiny that we walk away and knowingly leave people on the other side. We can’t.” Across the digital divide – Seanan Mcguire.  “Print is dead, traditional publishing is dead, all smart authors should be bailing to the brave new electronic frontier,” what I hear, however unintentionally, is “Poor people don’t deserve to read.”
  • Anger at town halls after they write off debt of £135 million – London Evening Standard.   The article does not mention libraries but many of the names are familiar, notably Brent “which had £17.3 million uncollected, including £9.7 million of council tax.” and Croydon “which wrote off nearly £8.5 million that year”.  However “Brent said its £17.3 million write-off was so high because it was a 17-year accumulation and the council had never before written off debt.”.
“My first instinct on closing them was that this was terrible. It’s stopping people learning who can’t afford to buy books. Then I thought, ‘Aren’t libraries alienating, quite smelly places, filled with strange people who I don’t want to hang around with?’ Just to check, I went to a local library and found it’s all clean, smart and lovely, but it’s still not what I want it to be. There weren’t many books. And in a romantic way, I don’t want libraries to be computer clubs.  I want to see people sitting and reading Aeschylus. My point is, when the people march to defend libraries, most of them won’t know what they’re defending.” “I’m offended … it seems I’m not hack-worthy” – Belfast Telegraph.  Frank Skinner, comedian, on libraries.  Alan Gibbons’ comments on this are also worth reading.

Local news

  • Brent – Introducing Brent Reading Circle – Preston Library Campaign.  “Otherwise known as a Book Club – it’s a chance for reading enthusiasts to get together and discuss that thing Brent Council says is “obsolete” – books!”
    • Wed 28th September: Jacqueline Wilson event to save Brent’s libraries – Save Kensal Rise Library.  “We are delighted to announce that Jacqueline Wilson, the hugely popular and much-loved author and former Children’s Laureate, will be coming to Kensal Green to support the campaign to save Brent’s six libraries which are under threat of closure.”
    • August library campaign update – Save Kensal Rise Library.   “The Brent SOS Libraries campaign (which is backing the legal aid claimants in the judicial review) has gone a long way to raising the money we need to cover potential legal costs. The latest total we have is just short of £22,000 – well on the way to the £30,000 we need, but still needing one final push. So if you’re feeling bad about not having donated a fiver towards saving libraries in the borough, now’s your chance…”
  • Croydon – Confusion Central – That Woman’s Blog.   Those without computers denied access to consultation details, “Labour Councillors were told an in-house bid would not be acceptable, yet Mr Gavin Barwell MP has given assurances it would be welcomed.”, “Croydon Council seem intent to forge ahead with their plans to outsource their whole library network in collaboration with Wandsworth Council. The decision whether or not to proceed will be taken at Monday’s Croydon Cabinet meeting.”
  • Scottish Borders – Meeting rejects High Street library move plan – Selkirk Weekend Advertiser.   ““There is much concern that the work of qualified librarians is being devalued, while a major fly in the ointment is that SBC does not accept that the library in Ettrick Terrace is part of Selkirk’s common good.”.  Council wishes to use customer contact staff to staff libraries and vice versa in order to save money.