Comment

Le Monde have written a special report on cuts in British public libraries.  It focuses mainly on the current crisis in Brent where 6 out of 12 branches are under threat if the courts decide that the cuts are legal.  The article is obviously not an easy one for a non-French speaker like myself to read but an idea can perhaps be gained in the following, doubtless poorly translated (Google Translate and guesswork can only do so much) below.  Perhaps the main fact is that Le Monde consider the cuts to UK public libraries so important in the first place.

“Of the twelve libraries in the district (290,000 inhabitants), half will disappear – in the name of the recession and budget cuts. Between six hundred and one thousand of these establishments – as dear to the heart as the indestructible British Fish and Chips –  are threatened, by 2012, across the country. In total, about 10% of libraries in the United Kingdom are promised to be scrapped. Including that of Preston.” ..


“… The elected (Labour) council voted as one man in favor of these drastic cuts. This, they told their flocks, was a strategic choice: either keep a small number of libraries, improving them, or face the burden of maintaining these expensive sites which will be less attended. As a bonus, the icing on the cake, a huge library, called the New Civic Center Library, will be built next to the Wembley Stadium. The flock, ungratefully, did not applaud. Six thousand of them have even signed a petition protesting against the closures. “If Preston goes, I’ll be devastated. This is the only cool place and free neighborhood,” Melvin Storm Hacker, fourteen, fan of science books.  He cannot take the underground for half an hour to go elsewhere. Especially as transport is expensive. Sitting in a corner of the library, his friends agree. They do not know eachother well and they have different political views. But all are part of the SOS Brent Libraries”, which decided – it’s a first to attack the city fathers at the district court. The High Court‘s verdict is expected in early October.”


Please sign the national petition in support of public libraries.

430 libraries (345 buildings and 85 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

  • Ebook services in public libraries – Reading Sight.  This summer, RNIB asked members of a National Library Service focus group to help with a survey of ebook services from public libraries. RNIB wanted to get a better idea of how many libraries provide ebooks and how accessible those services are. The survey was undertaken during Make a Noise in Libraries Fortnight (6-19 June) and shows that many libraries do not offer or plan to offer ebooks because the cost is too high.” 
“We have no plans at present to establish a national digital library service. However, local authorities continue to provide remote access for their users to catalogues, e-books and online reference resources and the UK remains a partner in Europeana—the European Digital Library network which provides access, through its website, to objects from cultural institutions within the European Union.” Ed Vaizey, House of Commons, 7th September 2011.

 

  • Negative reception for Government’s library blueprint – Literacy Trust.  Libraries should be run by the private sector with self-service borrowing points in shops and village halls, according to the report from the Future Libraries Programme.” … “But librarian group Voices for the Library have lambasted the report’s recommendations, saying they will do “serious damage to our public library network, and be counterproductive to efforts to modernise libraries and meet the needs of the UK public”. … Arts Council going ahead with Future Libraries Programme.
  • Pedal-powered mobile libraryEnvironmental Transport Association.  “With 400 libraries around the country under threat of closure, might cash-strapped councils be about to take a leaf out of the Institute of Green Mobility’s book?”
  • SOS bibliothèques anglaises – Le Monde (France). 
  • Swiss flash mob demands new libraryLibrary Co-op.  Swiss campaign for a better library – not due to any cuts, they just want a better one.  And why not?
“David Cameron and George Osborne come from the kind of families that have their own libraries. How can we expect them to give a tinker’s toss about those for whom without public libraries, the tiger would never come to tea?Tails of the unexpected – Canning Circus.  


Changes

Conwy – Mobile routes extended.  Public consultation on mobile library provision in 2012.  

Local News

  • Barnet – Plans to axe librarie are in: unless campaigners can offer an alternative ending – Barnet Today.  “The authority plans to merge Friern Barnet and North Finchleyartsdepot in Tally Ho Corner, while ending the lease of Hampstead Garden Suburb and seeking an alternative community site nearby.” but there will be a gap in provision, unless volunteers step in.
  • Bolton – Wordsmiths join forces for librariesBolton News.  Playwright Les Smith, Ruth Hamilton and Alan Gibbons to speak at libraries protest event this evening.  Save Bolton Libraries campaigner says “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.”
  • Bradford – Agreement signed over Addingham community library – Craven Herald and Pioneer.   Service level agreement signed between council and volunteers.  “This is a milestone for the group. We are now one step nearer our goal of saving the library, the next step is for us to get residents views of what they want from our library and when they want it to open.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Volunteers set to take on Gerrards Cross library – Guardian series. “Gerrards Cross Library is set to be taken on by volunteers over the coming months, after a council approved their takeover plans. A new committee, headed up by parish councillor Mike Lawson, has recruited 70 volunteers and plans to develop the library into a ‘one stop shop’ for village information.”… “the committee will look to obtain charity status and will encourage sponsorship and donations to help fund the library”
  • Conwy – Mobile library routes to be extended – North Wales Weekly News.   “Cllr Goronwy Edwards said: “We’re hoping that by showcasing the mobile library service to the wider community we will encourage more people to get involved in next year’s review of routes.”
  • Halton – Council department spending goes over budget despite cuts – Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News.   “The report also said delays to the restructure of the borough’s libraries had also had an impact”
  • Merton – Merton joins the London Libraries Consortium, 15 London boroughs now members – Booktrade.info.   “…we are not well funded and we will gain cost reductions by joining the London Libraries Consortium. The partnership element where we share good practice with other Boroughs on a regular basis will also be invaluable as we make ongoing service improvements from cross-Borough shared services to innovative customer service initiatives.”
“Latest news @WoburnSandsLibr has been given 3 years funding” Milton Keynes – SaveSSLibrary.

  • Somerset – Watchet Library Friends raise over £500 for legal battle – This is the West Country.  “A group trying to save Watchet Library has raised more than £500 following a coffee morning. Watchet Library Friends (WLF) is raising £9,000 for the Friends of Somerset Libraries legal fund and is now trying to raise the last £1,000 towards the target.”
  • Surrey – Molesey library set to be removed from “at-risk” list – Elmbridge Today.  “Molesey library looks set to be removed from a list of facilities that could be closed unless volunteers agree to run them.”.
  • Waltham Forest – Church submits library rescue plan – Guardian series.   Church steps in – “We like the idea of the community coming together to fight for something. But we don’t think it provides a long-term solution because once volunteer numbers dry up the life of the library will dry up.”.  Worries council is deliberately favouring the more prosperous southern part of the borough.