Comment

The Brent campaigners have been successful in their bid to be allowed to appeal the judge’s decision to allow the council to close 6 out of 12 branches.  Brent Council has agreed, in the meantime, not to change/damage the libraries in any way that would stop them being libraries if that decision goes against them.  What a shocking guarantee to have to seek from any council.  The decision will be decided in Court proper within a fortnight of 7th November.
In a reshuffle that completely passed me and almost every other library campaigner by, Harriet Harman is now the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Shadow Deputy Prime Minister as well as being the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.  This apparently happened a couple of weeks ago.  Dan Jarvis MP joins her on the Shadow DCMS team.  Labour have been disappointingly low-key in advocating for libraries and is to be hoped that the new team will be able to embarrass the current DCMS leadership.  Being the minister-vaguely-for-libraries, Ed Vaizey, was described as having about as much use as a “marzipan dildo” today, this should not be overly difficult.

Things you can do today:
436 libraries (347 buildings and 89 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

UK libraries look incredibly badly resourced compared to those shown here.
Also, they lend out Kindles and Kobos – Durham Public Libraries (Canada).
  • Future of local libraries: new ways of delivering servicesLondon Councils, 26th October.  “This seminar will present members with options to consider when planning the future public library services. It will give you the chance to assess what might work for your borough and the opportunity to hear about the support Arts Council England, London region will give to libraries as they take on their new responsibilities following the closure of the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council.”

“I had worked in a factory, too, done all the menial jobs, had the easy cash. And I could have done so for the rest of my life, but I was too intelligent for that. I’d also had the public libraries, the libraries in London. To go into these public places, for free, and realise by reading books that there was so much more – it had a massive effect on the feelings of helplessness.” Michael Caine


Local News

“We will join forces with library campaigners in other parts of the country in seeking intervention by the Department for Culture Media and Sport to ensure the proper implementation of the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964. This is still a very wealthy country, where money can be found for huge salaries – in the public and private sectors – and for overseas wars, Olympic Games, and NHS reorganisation. The sums of money needed to keep our libraries open are small change in comparison. It is simply a matter of making the right choices.” Bolton – Ian McHugh, Save Bolton Libraries Campaign. See also Resolution of Save Bolton Libraries Campaign 18.10.11

  • Brent – Go-ahead for library closures appealYorkshire Post.   “On Wednesday Lord Justice Elias ordered that an appeal to the Court of Appeal should be expedited, and attempts are being made to arrange it for two days early next month. Meanwhile, Brent Council has agreed to take no irrevocable steps to prevent the libraries reopening if the appeal is won.” … “The court heard that, as part of Wednesday’s interim agreement, the council has agreed not to board up Kensal Rise library, on the condition campaigners agree to cover the costs of providing security for the site pending the appeal. A round-the-clock vigil had been set up to stop the boarding up, while a “library outside a library” has also been set up at Kensal Rise in defiance of the closure plans, using books donated by residents.”
    • Council reuqired to leave libraries alone until Appeal in NovemberPreston Library Campaign. “The valiant campaigners who have braved the cold outside Preston night and day since Monday can breathe a small sigh of relief.   You have made national news and we salute you.”
    • Go-ahead for Brent library closures appeal - Independent.   “The case is being watched by other campaign groups around the country who also have libraries threatened with closure as cash-squeezed councils seek to reduce spending.”.  Council will not pay protester’s costs.  Campaigners will also not receive legal aid for the appeal.
In Brent they came
With boards
To turn a door
Into a wall,
A wall
Into a final chapter

    • Injunction granted to prevent Brent libraries board-up - BookSeller. “Brent council had agreed “not to do anything physically” to Kensal Rise Library, and “not to do anything that can’t be undone” in connection with any of the six closed libraries. The court of appeal hearing into the closures will take place within a fortnight of 7th November, it has been confirmed.”
    • Interim protection agreed for Brent’s threatened libraries ahead for appeal -  Harrow Observer. “Mr Halford said Brent SOS Libraries is appealing on three points of law such as that the council did not properly assess the impact of the closures on the Asian community and children, and how unfairly the voluntary organisations willing to run the libraries were treated in the process.”
    • Legal ruling on Brent library closuresGuardian “…shocked above all that here is a council and a high court judge who don’t begin to understand the huge role public libraries, particularly small local branches, play in the lives of the old and even more, the young.” (Penelope Clark) … “Since Labour wants to close the library, the solution is simple: hand over the Kensal Rise library building to the local community to run the library themselves. It’s not as if the council built or paid for the library originally.” (Cllr Barry Cheese, Brent)
    • Library closures: judge fast-tracks appeal - Guardian.   “They feel very strongly that Brent has got away with far too much already in the immediate aftermath of the high court ruling and that things should go no further. And that their library should remain there, ready to be reopened if their case succeeds. That’s why they have been willing to put up the money to make sure that doesn’t happen.” … “campaigners were very grateful to the court for acting so swiftly. “Normally it takes months to get the court of appeal to get to the stage it’s taken this court of appeal to get to in 24 hours. And the campaigners would like to articulate their appreciation to the court for dealing with it so rapidly, so that their appeal doesn’t become academic because of what Brent has done in the meantime.”
    • Parents and children continue to camp outside library in protest - Save Kensal Rise Library.   “Protests are continuing outside Kensal Rise Library, as residents hold vigils and defend the library day and night – including these photos taken between 4 and 6.30am. If you’re in the area, please come and join!”
  • Buckinghamshire – Little Chalfont LibraryNatWest CommunityForce. Last chance to vote for Little Chalfont volunteer-run library to get much needed funding for its maintenance and repair.
“Cambridgeshire has shelved its plans to farm its libraries out to an independent charitable trust, having worked out (nearly a year after coming up with the scheme) that the council would actually save no money at all, “with unrecoverable investment also required”.  D’oh !  Instead the county is to introduce a “supermarket-style” approach, which will see smaller branches renamed “Public Services Compact” or “Access” — the information equivalent of a Tesco Metro.  These will be squeezed into GP’s surgeries or post offices (assuming any willing to offer space can be found), allowing library buildings to be sold.  “Kiosks and other technology” may be used to place books at the park-and-ride.  Meanwhile, the remaining libraries in Cambridge, Huntingdon and Ely will be dubbed “Public Services Extra”, as apparently reference materials and professional staff count as an “extra”" Cambridgeshire – Library News in Private Eye (not available online).

  • North Somerset – Staff training forces library closures - Weston Mercury.   New system installed for checking books in and out [self-service? - Ed.].  ““By carrying out training for everyone at the same time it means we can save money. It is also better for the staff as they will all get the same information, in the same way, at the same time.”.  Long comment by Shirley Burnham – library closures in 2010 with little or no consultation.  Small amount of books purchased in comparison to total budget, emphasis placed on new technology rather than books.
  • Southend on Sea – Town’s new public library could be open 24 hours - Echo.   “A card swipe system would be used to give members access and security guards would be on hand when library staff go home for the evening. Users would be able to get books out electronically.”  Worries about people just using library for shelter, other worries about car parking and security.
  • Suffolk – Community groups’ plea over Suffolk County Council library plansEDP.  Eye/Stradbroke/Debenham volunteer groups frustrated that it is not clear what building services will be provided by council.  ““It is all progressing rather slowly. We need to understand the responsibilities we will be taking on, which components would be the responsibility of the county still and which would be the responsibility of the locally-run libraries. We have got to move this quickly on. We can’t make any budget decisions until we know which components we are going to be taking on.””
  • Surrey – Community-run libraries decision to standElmbridge Today.   “Surrey County Council’s communities select committee has decided not to ask the authority’s decision-making cabinet to reconsider plans that could see volunteers take control of up to nineteen libraries across Surrey.”.  Fears that decision discriminates against smaller towns.