Comment

Still not a peep (or tweet) from Ed Vaizey (minister for libraries, amongst other things) or Jeremy Hunt (Minister for Culture, Media and Sport) about Brent or, indeed, anything else library related.  They’re probably trying to look nonchalant while whistling and hoping no-one notices them.

More Brent news.  “The case will be heard in the court of appeal as an “expedited hearing” within a few weeks. Law firm Bindmans, acting for the campaigners, will also seek an injunction in the court of appeal tomorrow (Wednesday 19th October) to protect the six Brent libraries affected by the decision pending that appeal.”.  Lawyers say the early timing of the appeal  is “quite remarkable” as it normally takes months.

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

  • Amazon signs up authors, writing publishers out of the deal – New York Times (USA).  Amazon continues its campaign to monopolise the whole book market…. “Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form. It is a striking acceleration of the retailer’s fledging publishing program that will place Amazon squarely in competition with the New York houses that are also its most prominent suppliers.”.  It is “..aggressively wooing some of their top authors” … ““Publishers are terrified and don’t know what to do,”
  • British Library reinstates Amazon link – BookSeller.  Link from BL catalogues was briefly removed due to complaints by booksellers but reinstated as British Library says adds useful features.  BL do not appear to be charging Amazon for the free advertising or offering an alternative.  Comments below article are essential reading: “And libraries want booksellers and publishers to support them? What a joke.”
  • Coworking at the public library – PC World (USA).   “Do you work as a computer programmer, writer, editor, animator, or graphic designer? Would you like a free desk to do work at your public library? What’s the catch? The catch is that you need to contribute 10 or 20 percent of your time to serving the public in some way.”
  • How libraries are doing more with less –  Shareable (USA).  final part of an excellent series on libraries. ““Some people have surprisingly positive stories to tell and some have very negative stories to tell,” says Molly Raphael, president of the American Library Association (ALA). “Libraries that are self-funded or can go directly to voters have fared quite well. The ones that have had the biggest challenges are the ones that are funded out of one pot of money from the city or county and are competing for those funds.”…”The overall trend, however, is one of increased usage and circulation of materials, both electronic and traditional, coupled with decreased funding.”.  Increased reliance on volunteers. 
“The best way to help is to talk to influential people in your community about libraries,” says Raphael. “Talk in ways that make it clear that libraries are not just an amenity; a nice thing to have. How are they essential to your family? How have they supported you in higher education or changing careers? Why do they matter? It has to go beyond the ‘I love my library’ deep affection,” she continues. “When elected officials start seeing that, they start seeing libraries differently.””

  • Let’s make our libraries indispensable!Voices for the Library.  Library lover (but lapsed user) suggests ways that libraries should improve – (1) opening times to allow for use before and after school hours, (2) more tables and chairs, (3) faster computers, (4) toilets, (5) room to allow children to do homework, (6) concentrate more on books “Libraries (librarians) seem to have lost confidence in what they are there to offer.”, (7) cafes and food, (8) link ebooks with books, (9) more knowledgeable and customer-focused librarians, (10) abolish fines. “Come on librarians! Make your libraries indispensable! That’s the way to go!”
  • Libraries may be the next (and most credible) threat to Amazon. Should libraries become successful booksellers?This Week in Libraries (Netherlands).  “Libraries as booksellers, gamification and library innovation from Denmark with Jan Holmquist.”
The Brent verdict will, however, have triggered a huge sigh of relief in town halls across England, where councillors have been arguing that the traditional map of council-staffed libraries is no longer viable. Many will interpret the ruling as a green light to push ahead with similar closure plans.” Library closures: what can local people do? – Guardian.  [Highly pro “Big-Society” article that will also relieve councils]. Examines Eco Computers (Lewisham), forecasts another 100 libraries to volunteers over next year, calls for 1964 Act to be changed as “badly outdated”, examines other ways councils can divest libraries.

  • Public library is for everyone … who can get there – Marion MacMahon.  Feminist said “What about the women who don’t have our White Middle Class Woman’s access to the internet, the library, healthcare, insurance, etc, etc?”.  She said “the library” due to lack of public transport links.
  • Should government turn everything it doesn’t want to do into a startup? – Innovation Investment Journal.  “The catch is, governments want society to take up this new role without being offered any incentive …”  Libraries used as first case study.  “Public libraries, being seen as not likely to be ‘suited to privatisation’ would either go from the public sector to the ‘not for profit’ sector, or (more likely) into oblivion.”
  • Stop patronising, start patronising – Spectator. “Be honest, how many times have you used your local library in the past year? If you live in Kensal Rise, the answer is “not enough” … “Clearly, a library getting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year is going to be in a safer position than one getting tens of thousands. The biggest shortcoming of the Brent library campaigners, as well as an unhelpful “all or nothing” approach, has been a failure to appeal to anyone who wasn’t already a library user.”.  There should be more books, opening, etc … ” If libraries are going to survive, we need to see them as more than just a safety net for the poor, the old and the young. Like all public services, they function best when used by everyone.”
  • Town hall bosses expenses furore – Press Association.   “Chief executives have run up bills of £1.2 million since the Coalition came to power, while local authorities were slashing hundreds of thousands of jobs and cutting frontline services such as libraries and children’s services.”
  • Vandalism on a worse scale than the riotsIndependent (Boyd Tonkin).   “Not content with winning the High Court case last week that sought to halt the closure of six branch libraries, Brent council – with indecent haste – dispatched wrecking crews.”… “Brent has written itself a starring role in the long saga of British philistine stupidity.” … “A hand-to-mouth, volunteer-run future is the best that many [UK libraries under threat] can expect. Brent, like many authorities of all political shades, justifies the ruin of much-loved services on the grounds that a central super-library will open at some point. The riots have a lesson to teach us here. They showed that the most vulnerable people in urban communities lead narrowly local lives.”.  Suggests better management of resources will improve libraries without closures.
  • We need information on special interests – Infoism.KPMG, for example, are listed as having links with parliamentary staff.  It was KPMG who first floated the idea of libraries run by volunteers in a report published last year.  With the current situation facing public libraries across the country, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that someone with links to KPMG is pushing this policy at the DCMS – something that should alarm and concern library campaigners everywhere.  What chance any campaign if ‘vested interests’ are ensuring that ministers ignore the will of the people and push forward with their agenda?”

Changes

Warwickshire – List of current proposals for each of the 16 branches under threat.   

Local News

  • Bolton – Library closure decision will go before the full council – Bolton News.  decision to close the doors on five of Bolton’s libraries will be looked at again – after councillors claimed the process was too ‘hasty’.”
    • Libraries are so important to communities, says actor – Bolton News.   John Levitt says ““You can never quantify what a library does — it’s the long term thing of giving young people support and knowledge and acknowledging that they exist. That has a huge effect on their education and their future job prospects, it’s crazy to shut them down.”
  • Brent – Permission granted for Brent library appeal – BookSeller.  “The case will be heard in the court of appeal as an “expedited hearing” within a few weeks. Law firm Bindmans, acting for the campaigners, will also seek an injunction in the court of appeal tomorrow (Wednesday 19th October) to protect the six Brent libraries affected by the decision pending that appeal.”.  Lawyers say the speed of this is “quite remarkable” as it normally takes months.  Council may need to reopen libraries it closed with such indecent haste last week.  Councillors say that only 17% of residents visit libraries.  “We have had to change the library service because of huge and unfair funding cuts – more than £100m – by the coalition government. Something has to give. Regrettable though the closures are, failing to enact them means cutting the budgets of other services, such as safeguarding children or services for older people.”
    • Library closures campaign appeal granted – BBC.  
    • Closures are regrettable, but Brent remains committed to its librariesGuardian (Comment is Free).  Leader of Brent Council, Ann John, defends closures.  “The closure of six of our 12 libraries means that Brent council will be investing more money in library stock, outreach facilities, new equipment and improved study space in the remaining libraries, in addition to a seven-day-a-week service.”.  Also – everyone still in 1.5 miles of a library, closed libraries “least popular and least visited” in borough, Kensal Rise usage low and declining, cost per visit £4 compared with 90p for most popular.
    • Comedians stand up for Brent libraries at sell-out gig – London 24. “hundreds of supporters turned up to the night which saw Phil Jupitus take to stage with special guest Alexei Sayle, Radio 4’s Robin Ince, ukulele-playing comedienne Helen Arney and legendary musician Robyn Hitchcock. “
“It is being said that people don’t use libraries anymore. I don’t go to cancer units a lot but that’s not to say that one day I might need one.” Phil Jupitus 

    • Cooke defends Brent library; no word from HuntBookSeller.   “Literary agent Geraldine Cooke is calling on members of the book trade with links to Brent to join demonstrators in their vigils … the onus was put back upon the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, to intervene over library closures. Ouseley said he should do so unless something has “gone seriously or obviously wrong in law in the information-gathering or analysis process”, in which case the court should address the issue.”  DCMS says it will act “as quickly as we can” [Some time in 2015 then = Ed.]
    • Libraries’ Indignados strike a global chord Public Finance.  Compares Brent campaigners with worldwide protesters.  “They reflect the same anger at politicians whose ears and minds seem closed and at a distribution of the world’s resources which is tipping alarmingly away from ‘ordinary’ people, as public services across the globe become the victims of the banking crisis.” … “Kids in crowded homes, without shiny iPads and laptops to access knowledge, kids who can’t just click that Amazon button and see the tome of their dreams appear, are asking awkward questions.” … “Whatever the courts say, this anger will not go away. If it is to be turned to furnish the common good, then politicians had better start listening.”
“Bloody liberty,” shouted the woman pushing her baby past the boarded-up perimeter of what was, until last week, Preston library in north-west London. Her sentiments at its closure were echoed in the graffiti spreading across the sheets of timber. “My children need this library. You are killing the future!!!” read one. “Hitler burnt books. Brent council make sure you don’t get them in the first place,” hissed another. Library campaigners mount vigils to prevent Brent Council clearing shelves – Guardian.  “My cousins come here to study,” she said. “And if they’re not studying here, they’ll be roaming around the streets.” … “This ward has the highest illiteracy rate in London, so it makes no sense to close this unless you want young people on the streets rioting; they’re doing everything to facilitate that.”

    • Locals prevent removal of books from Library … for now – Preston Library Campaign. “Volunteers urgently needed to keep an eye on the library – spare half an hour and keep watch through the day. This morning valiant Preston locals stopped Brent Council removing books and equipment  from the library – a step which could be considered irrevocable ahead of a planned appeal to be lodged this week. In other words, we need to stop anything else happening to our library, or it may be impossible to reverse even if we win an appeal. ”
    • Messages of support daubed across boards of Preston Road library – Harrow Times. Messages including “Give us back our library”, “Why have you done this?” and “cultural vandalism” were written across the boards put up after the decision was reached last Thursday.”
    • Protesters set up own library as Pullman joins campaign – London Evening Standard.  A free library is set up outside Kensal Rise by protesters, around the clock vigil continues to stop building being closed up.  “SOS Brent Libraries campaign leader Margaret Bailey said: “We’ve been trying to get the council to give us reassurance that they’re not going to board the library up but they won’t speak to us.””
    • Round-the-clock vigil to protect library – London Evening Standard.   “”There has been a fantastic response from the community. Neighbours have been bringing hot water bottles out in the middle of the night to people camping out.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Make a difference day: volunteer recruitment fair – Cambridgeshire.net. “We will have a range of volunteering opportunities available across Libraries, Museums, Learning Centres and a range of organisations. Perhaps you are interested in crafts, family history or IT – we have roles in all of these areas and more.”
  • Camden – Campaigners to try for library judicial reviewBookSeller.   “The Camden group’s chairman Alan Templeton said the legal challenge was the final resort. He said: “We have run out of options—we have tried everything else. We have pleaded with the council to look again but they were in no mood to change their minds.”
  • Croydon – Shh! Sanderstead Library’s 75th Birthday Celebrations – Sanderstead Library Campaign Group.  Council apparently trying to downplay events and fact of 75th birthday in order to reduce publicity for threatened library.
  • Flintshire – Residents fail to back bid to save Flintshire village libraryLeader.   “Hopes were raised that Bagillt Community Council may step in and help to keep it open but a consultation with residents showed a lack of support for a community takeover.” … “Cllr Jones is now fearful the library, which has already been vandalised twice this year, will be targeted even more once it is closed. In June staff discovered two large windows and plant pots had been smashed and in July yobs smashed three windows and damaged the front door. “The moment it’s boarded up it’s going to draw attention to vandals,” said Cllr Jones.”.  Library will close in November.
  • Oxfordshire – Anti-cuts protesters reply to “offensive” attack by councillor – Henley Standard.  With regard to Keith Mitchell (Leader of Council) calling campaigners uncaring  lefties etc.  “Vicky Jordan, a member of campaign group Our Woodcote Library, called Cllr Mitchell’s comments “inaccurate and offensive”. She said: “Library campaigners are just as caring as everybody else. In fact, many of them are actively caring for loved ones. We are not arguing that the council should be raiding the adult social care budget. What we are arguing is that they should make their cuts without downgrading rural libraries.  “This reaction of his has come about because he is running sacred — at least that’s what I hope it is. It seems that the resounding answer to the consultation has been ‘no’.” 
  • Sheffield – Council to freeze taxStar.  Libraries singled out for attention in article … “
    Coun Dore pledged to try to avoid library closures. “We want to continue to provide a library service to all communities across the city, although we will review how it is provided,” she said, adding she is keen to protect other facilities at libraries too, such as internet access, reading clubs and Bookstart, through which parents receive free books to encourage young children to read.”
  • Surrey – Campaigners hoping for second U-turn ahead of council meeting – Guardian series. “After a shock u-turn to scrap on-street parking charges, campaigners are hoping another could be on the way tomorrow over controversial plans for volunteer-run libraries. ” … Campaigner says “The amount of money involved in the library plans is just not worth it compared to the money they hope to save and it is causing so much distress to so many small villages.”   
“Disappointing that Surrey Conservative Councillors allowed themselves to be bullied into voting against libraries today.  We proposed that £200,000 could be saved across all 52 libraries rather than dump all the cuts on 10 libraries in smaller communities. But Conservatives rejected it, saying – and we’re not making this up – that it would diminish the bigger libraries…” SLAM (Twitter)

  • Warwickshire – Hopes fade for saving Warwickshire’s axed librariesCoventry Telegraph.  “Council’s ruling Conservative cabinet heard hopes for community takeovers are struggling because of cash shortages to help them get off the ground. It has prompted council leader Alan Farnell to search for some extra cash to bolster an oversubscribed £125,000 Big Society Fund.” … “Tory councillor Colin Hayfield, cabinet member for libraries, also accepted some community library takeovers could get off the ground then “wither on the vine” within three years.”
  • Worcestershire – Libraries forced to cut hours – Worcester News.   Opening hours reduced, less paid staff. ““You are going to have a lot of upset library users as a consquence of these changes,” he said and voiced concern about proposals which give increasing reliance on volunteers.”