Archive for October, 2011

Brent result on Thursday and lessons from the USA

Comment
The news that the result of the judicial review will be known this Thursday will have campaigners and councils anticipating a landmark case due to it being the first legal judgement ever delivered on the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. There will be a natural temptation on the part of all to see the result as a precedent for all library court cases.  A feeling, perhaps, that the decision on the first will mean the same decision will be made on all the rest.  This is not necessarily the case.  The situation in Brent is very different to that in Gloucestershire and in Somerset, or Doncaster, or Dorset, or anywhere else.  Each council needs to prove that they have met the terms of the 1964 Act and other legislation (notably on Equalities) in relation to it’s own geography, existing library provision, consultation and procedures.  It is not a case of win one, win all (or lose one, lose all).  Each one should and must be judged on its own merits, or there is no point in the process at all.
Due its importance and use of the English language, the USA is always the other country that is most accessible to us in terms of news. Today, there are two stories from there that have some bearing on UK libraries.  The first is that California has passed legislation to make outsourcing/privatisation of its libraries more difficult.  Being that outsourcing normally costs more than keeping the service in-house, this can largely be seen as a good thing.  The other story is a scarier one.  There are politicians in the USA, on a scale and depth unheard of here, who despise libraries and want to see them closed.  On the assumption that what happens there today comes here tomorrow, we need to be aware of the arguments and be willing to fight back.  The attack by John Redwood MP on a public library (and the views of some the comments below his article) may not be such an isolated act in the future but rather a harbinger of Tea Party attitudes to public libraries on these shores.
Other stories today are instructive.  The changing of leader in Surrey seems to have been largely to do with his being associated with a plan to close many of its libraries.  The leader of the council in Oxford, who is particularly outspoken in favour of library cuts should be especially beware of this, especially as research shows his argument that it is either cuts to libraries or cuts to social care is extremely weak indeed. Proposed library closures in Bolton are being met with extremely professional and impressive resistance.  Alas, and it is a sad one to end on but it seems to be overarching theme of the times, there are the moves in Northamptonshire, Southwark, Hertfordshire and Surrey to force the local community to volunteer to work in libraries.  There used to be a time when “The Year of the Volunteer” was an unalloyed positive message for everyone.  Now such a notion is increasingly linked to political agendas, suspicion and fears of blackmail. 
434 libraries (347 buildings and 87 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
  • CakeWordshore.   Report on LibraryCamp last Saturday.  Interesting report on the “Unconference” including importance of having CILIP and Voices for the Library there.
  • Good news for California libraries and their patrons – Can it happen here?  (USA).  “…Brown has signed a bill to make it far more difficult for cash strapped counties and cities to hand their libraries over to for-profit companies. Along with public schools, libraries are one of our leveling institutions, a place everyone can go to seek information or entertainment, to use a computer, or even, if you are well behaved, to get out of the rain.”
  • Peter Collins: Local Libraries are on top of my “most sexy” list – Wales Online.  “Libraries have played a crucial role in the social and cultural life of South Wales, particularly in the early and middle parts of the 20th Century, when they opened up whole new worlds to working-class people whose lives would otherwise have been bleak indeed.”
  • Public libraries have outlived their usefulness – Examiner (USA).  [Editor’s Note: An article, incredibly extreme by UK standards but of familiar type in the USA.  The view is that everyone has enough money to spend on books and that all parents can afford childcare costs or are never working when children are out of school].  Libraries are  “a babysitting service for parents who can’t be bothered with parenting. It isn’t as if they don’t have learning resources at home.” … “We don’t really need them anymore. We keep them around because we are nostalgic or because we want a babysitter, but we don’t need them for their books. For books we have Barnes and Noble, and Barnes and Noble has coffee.”
    • Rage to defund libraries goes off the deep end – Annoyed Librarian (USA).  “In New Hampshire, a Republican state representative is trying to reduce funding for the state’s popular interlibrary loan program because the service works too well. He claims to be a frequent user of ILL. According to the article, “What irks him, he said yesterday, is that he gets his requested books within a day or two.””.  It would be cost less tax if the service was slower.  The service is not paid for by the State he represents … “When you have a state politician salivating to cut a popular public service funded by money his state doesn’t even provide and which would still have to be used for library-related services somewhere in the state, you know you’ve gone through the looking glass.”
  • Strong leadership is key as London boroughs share services Guardian.  Lessons from the combining of services in Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham and Westminster.  “Underpinning this project has had to be real savings. The final reports put the figure at £33.4m. Some savings are already being made. Having one director for children’s services, one libraries director and one director for adult social care replaces nine roles with three, saving around £740,000 in salaries alone.”
Changes
Local News
  • Bolton – Trust’s big fear over libraries – Bolton News.  The Civic Trust has written to the Chief Executive, and to all council leaders, a five page letter laying out detailed arguments and backed by planning and economic analysis, in many respects superior to Bolton Council’s own. The trust was right about the impact of Middlebrook on the town centre and also the impact of the Market Hall closure. We fear the council is now to be complicit in helping to cripple some of our neighbourhoods. We urge the council to think carefully.”
    • Final decision on libraries axe may go to vote – Bolton News.   “Five libraries — Astley Bridge, Oxford Grove, Heaton, Highfield and Castle Hill — are earmarked for closure next year, with the council’s Labour executive due to rubber stamp the plans tomorrow in what promises to be a heated meeting at Festival Hall. But the decision could still be “called in” for scrutiny by opposition councillors — something The Bolton News understands is likely — and the final vote could then go to full council where all parties will get their say.”
    • Letter from Bolton and District Civic Trust to Bolton Council.  A tour de force letter, showing how an objection should be made.  “The Civic Trust is deeply concerned at the potential impact of the Council’s proposal to close five libraries and believes it is essential that the Council should carefully reconsider its preferred decision and approach. Above the doorway of the former Halliwell library, on Hatfield Road, it states simply: ‘Let there be light’.”  See also this Covering Letter.
  •  Brent – libraries verdict on Thursday – BookSeller.  The judge, Mr Justice Ouseley, will deliver his verdict in the High Court on Thursday morning. The ruling will be the first judicial review judgement on council library closures to be delivered and will be watched keenly for its wider implications across the country. A judicial review ruling into Somerset and Gloucestershire’s library closures is also expected in the next few weeks. Brent library campaigners say they have now met their £30,000 target to meet their legal bills for the review, after a busy programme of fundraising events supported by authors including Alan Bennett and Jacqueline Wilson.”
    • High Court to rule on library closures on ThursdayBrent and Kilburn Times.  “If the judge votes in favour of keeping the libraries open it will be a landmark case and could set a precedent for similar cases across the country.”.  Judgement expected at 10am.  Also reported (same article) as High Court to rule on library closures in Brent on ThursdayLondon 24. 
    • Verdict to be announced on ThursdayPreston Library Campaign.  “The DCMS has met with Brent Council, but has yet to speak with campaigners or reveal the outcome of this meeting. Whatever the outcome, we want the Council to reconsider its approach and work with Brent residents to provide a comprehensive local library service.” … “Brent SOS Libraries is also seeking a separate public enquiry by the DCMS under the Museums and Libraries Act 1964. The council’s proposals will leave the borough with just 6 libraries, 3 of which require major upgrade/rebuilding. This does not constitute a “comprehensive” library service.”
  • Cheshire East – Sandbach One Stop Shop is on the move – Crewe Chronicle.  Customer service desk moved from council offices into library.  Building closed for one week for refurbishment.  ““The council’s policy to put more customer service points in libraries aims to make better use of staffing and property resources, while also providing customers with an enhanced service. Westfields currently has about 300 customers a week. Sandbach Library has 500 users a day.” … “The move will benefit customers and hopefully encourage more people to use their local library by bringing these complementary resources under one convenient roof.”
    • Homework help on offer at Middlewich Library – Middlewich Chronicle.   “Students researching an essay or project or are looking for books or resources to aid their studies will benefit during Help With Homework Week from October 17 to 21.”
  • Hampshire – Fleet Library escapes but at what cost?Fleet People.   “While Fleet has been identified as one of 11 key libraries in the county, and will be left as it is, it will however be expected to take up the slack and fill the gaps left by other local libraries where the service has been cut.” … “The belt-tightening plans are so widespread that almost every other library in the county would be closed at least one day weekly to try and make the service more affordable.”.  Consultation until Dec 28th.
  • Hertfordshire – Activism, or how Hertfordshire is moving towards the “community library” – Information Overload.  “I thought we’d got off with simple opening hours cuts in Hertfordshire, but no. Those cuts were bad enough, in fact they were extremely drastic – we lost no less than a third of our public library access as a result. So drastic, in fact, that I realised when no-one else seemed to be speaking out about them, that it was down to me.” … “Time to throw open the doors. Let’s see if people will come in.”. Two-hour stops and increase in Home Library Service.
  • North Yorkshire – Unveils “Supermobile” library timetableHarrogate News.  “From October 24, North Yorkshire County Council’s supermobile will call at twenty two locations on a rolling fortnightly timetable. Unlike the conventional mobile libraries, which were withdrawn last month, the supermobile offers a superior service, carrying around 3,000 items of stock – including books, DVDs, videos, and audio books – and offering internet access via satellite.”
  • Northamptonshire – Shared services could cut budgets for NorthamptonshireBBC.   “It’s a choice of cutting back office bureaucracy or front line services. But there are plenty of people in Northamptonshire who would like to see bus services back to what they were, school crossings restored and libraries better financed rather than more cuts,”  says Lib Dem opposition councillor.  Council is looking to share services with Cambridgeshire etc.
    • Cuts could mean many years of pain – Evening Telegraph.   “Despite already cutting hundreds of jobs, switching off half the county’s street lights and all its speed cameras, slashing bus subsidies and calling up an army of volunteers to run libraries to help save £69m this year, the county council yesterday announced it needs to save a further £100m by 2016.”
    • Plan for volunteer army to keep all libraries openEvening Telegraph. “Northamptonshire County Council members are today set to debate a strategy which could see the number of library volunteers nearly quadruple from 457 to 1,600 in just four years.”…”Latest figures published by the council show that the county’s libraries receive more than three million visits a year, with each visit costing £1.67.”
 

Oxfordshire – What would you cut? – Question Everything.
When leader of council Keith Mitchell says cut libraries or social care, he may be
slightly overstating his case.
 What would you Cut? 3 – Oxfordshire Council videos events at a cost of nearly
£200 per view.

“This report shows a great way forward for the borough and unlike other authorities up and down the country, we are continuing to invest in our libraries. The phenomenal response we had from our library users during the consultation period showed just how dear libraries are to the hearts of our residents, and closing any would have been hugely regrettable.”

  • Suffolk – Village library is safe, says councillor – Suffolk Free Press.  Great Cornard:The future of the library is secure,” he said. “It will be managed by a structural organisation directly from the county council.”
  • Surrey – Leader to be endorsed and unveil new cabinetBBC.   Library cut plans were a key part in the downfall of previous leader. “Unison spokesman Chris Leary said thousands of residents were unhappy about cuts the council was making, particularly over changes to the library service which will see nine sites losing paid staff. The full council meeting on Tuesday will hear a motion from Residents Association Councillor Eber Kington, which states plans for community libraries have failed to gain support, and there is support for the use of volunteers but within a fully professional library service. The motion calls on the cabinet to abandon plans for community libraries and adopt a library policy retaining professional staff in all 52 libraries with additional voluntary support across all sites.
    • Changing of the guard at Surrey County Council – Eagle Radio.   “Meanwhile, David Hodge will be sworn in as leader this morning. One of the first requests he’ll face is a motion to abandon plans to close 19 libraries unless volunteers run them.”
    • Leader to be endorsed and unveil new cabinet – BBC.   “Unison spokesman Chris Leary said thousands of residents were unhappy about cuts the council was making, particularly over changes to the library service which will see nine sites losing paid staff.”

“Result of vote: 41-21 against the motion. Tories voted on block against libraries. Still hope though. Call in will be held next week.”  Surrey_SLAM (Twitter) Council votes against proposal to abandon plans to force 19 libraries to become volunteer-run.

Brian Blessed. Enough Said.

Cutting libraries is the “Act of philistines … atavistic nonsense… the nemesis of our country”
“More education is done in libraries than in any other place”
Moving away from the awed wonder that is necessary when watching Brian Blessed, a report from Swindon shows the terrible reality that can occur when a council pass a library branch to volunteers without proper training, plan, investment …. all those things that cost money in fact.

434 libraries (347 buildings and 87 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

“Closing libraries because *you* don’t use them is like blocking in a speeding ambulance because it’s not *your* gran in it.” #bethanar tweet

  • Convincing politicians that libraries improve literacy – Johanna Bo Anderson’s Blog. “there are the statistics, the evidence out there, but what there is not is someone with clout to deliver that message.”
  • Libraries not leafletsDaily Mail.  Janet Street-Porter bemoans the cuts in her local North Yorkshire library.  “Asking for free labour to deliver services we already pay for is the thin end of the wedge. Will we soon be asked to deliver meals on wheels, clean schools and run museums?”. Solutions suggested by her include less council publicity leaflets/newsletters and less pay for councillors.
  • Volunteering: Would you?Johanna Bo Anderson’s Blog.  Dilemma: Volunteering will mean paid people lose their jobs vs. if one does not volunteer, the library would close.  Interesting comments 

Changes

Herefordshire – £2m for joint library/wedding venue/council offices in Ledbury. 
Lancashire – £5m refurbishment for libraries. 

Local News

  • Herefordshire – Library and wedding plan for Ledbury Master’s House – BBC.  £2m for joint library/wedding venue/council services centre.  “Roger Phillips, Herefordshire Council’s cabinet member for enterprise and culture, said: “At a time when many local authorities are having to close libraries due to government spending cuts, we remain fully committed to providing this service which is much valued by the local community.”
  • Hertfordshire – Library campaign group appeals for residents to join fight – Royston Crow. “Anyone interested in joining the group should visit its website at www.weheartlibraries.org.uk and sign up. The website includes the latest news from the campaign, and also groups that members can join including a parents’ group, a reading group and a writers’ circle. “
  • Lancashire – £5m to revamp Lancashire County Council librariesLancashire Telegraph.  “We know that libraries are important to people’s quality of life and are at the heart of local communities, which is why we are investing around £5.5million in refurbishing them.”
  • Suffolk – Mobile library serviceAlasdair Ross.  “Mobile libraries are a lifeline to those who can’t easily make it to a public library, hopefully the Council will carry out this consultation with more grace and intelligence than the full library consultation.”
  • Swindon – Letter from Sherry Waldon – Swindon Advertiser.  Walcot Library since begun volunteer-run: “It has no real library staff, is now shut on Saturdays and is no longer available for the local schools to use, because there’s no room available since the charity shop moved in. It is now, in fact, a charity shop with some stacks of books as a sort of afterthought. Comparison of library usage between the years 2008/9 and 2009/10 shows the figures for Walcot have gone down dramatically.”.  Lack of training and investment may spread to other branches.

Warning: Volunteering figures may go down as well as up

Comment

Listed below (in the grand tradition of Public Libraries News) are the reasons I have seen quoted as affecting the number of people who are available for volunteering in a community library, largely put together by reasons suggested in the comments section of a Yorkshire Post article.  There are already fears that there are not enough volunteers around to do the necessary. Given the propensity of the current Government for promoting the Big Society, it is ironic that many of the reasons against volunteering are directly due to its policies.  Some of these reasons, such as increasing retirement ages and reducing pensions, may only really affect volunteering rates in the long-term.  This is still a serious issue for now, however, as it puts even more into question the long-term viability of volunteer-run libraries. It is tragic too that many of the reasons mean that it is the poorest and most disadvantaged areas that will suffer the most.  That is, the move to Big Society libraries is likely to be least successful in precisley those neighbourhoods that most need them.  The cynical might further suggest that, being these areas are also the least likely to vote Conservative, this may not be the pure unfortunate chance it may at first appear.

Why there may not be enough library volunteers

Retirement age is moving up to 67.  This is only ever likely to increase in the future.  
Pensions are reducing, meaning it is more necessary for people to continue some form of paid work when they officially retire.  This will depress volunteering rates.
Pay cuts (that is, below inflation) and the public sector pay freeze mean people are working longer for the same. 
– If the Council fails to adequately fund the divested branch (in terms of recruitment, training, buildings etc).
– People don’t want to put others out of work by replacing them for free.
– Volunteering is being made by the “Big Society” message into a political statement.  Someone critical of this Government is now less likely to prove them right by donating time to uphold the Conservative’s values.  This would naturally be more prominent in Labour (and thus less advantaged) areas than in others.
– People may resent volunteering being made less of a choice than previously.  There is a strong undertone of blackmail to some of the Big Society library plans.
– People may deliberately avoid volunteering as it amounts to double taxation.  That is, the Council is still taxing them for a service that has now been withdrawn and informally taxing them for their labour.
– In more disadvantaged areas, volunteering is not so attractive.  There is more likely to be problems with petty crime or anti-social behaviout, there is less of a tradition of volunteering and there is less attraction to something perceived as a “white-collar” professional job as this is not the background of many living locally.

Factors encouraging volunteers

– More people in local government are being forced into early retirement but may still have a commitment to public service that can be utilised for volunteering.  Of course, these people are still being paid by the Council as early retirement costs money.
– If the Council adequately funds the divested branch (in terms of recruitment, training, buildings etc) and volunteering in it is thus more attractive.  
More people are out of work generally.  Volunteering looks better on a CV than not volunteering.  This pool of free labour will dry up when and if the job market improves.
– Those who believe in the “Big Society” message may wish to make a statement by volunteering.  This would naturally be more prominent in Conservative (and thus more advantaged) areas than in others.
– In more advantaged areas, volunteering is attractive.  There is less likely to be problems with petty crime, there is more of a tradition of volunteering and there is more attraction to something perceived as a “white-collar” professional job as this is the background of many living locally.
– There may be a counterbalance to this as there is a higher than average amount of commuters in many rural areas.  Commuters, due to the high demand on their time of travelling to work, are some of the least likely to volunteer.
All of the above is about the number of volunteers available and willing to work in volunteer-run libraries.  For more on the pros and cons of volunteer-run libraries see this page.

434 libraries (347 buildings and 87 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

Changes

Hampshire – 20.5 FTE library worker posts cut.   

Local News

  • Bolton – Travel time to libraries called into question – Bolton News.  “The veracity of Bolton Council’s review of the town’s library service has been called into question by the Bolton and District Civic Trust. The Trust believes the council has got its figures wrong in calculating the time it will take residents to travel to their nearest library.”
  • Doncaster – Campaigners want library plan shelved Epworth Bells.  Summary of cuts in Doncaster, council and campaigner positions.
  • Gloucestershire – Nick Clegg backs the Echo’s Beat the Burglar campaign – This is Glos.  “When asked about other issues affecting the area, Mr Clegg also urged Gloucestershire County Council to take inspiration from elsewhere when considering cuts to libraries and youth centres. “They need to ask why other councils haven’t done that and maybe they can learn a lesson from other councils that have managed it,” he said.”
  • Hampshire – Libraries’ opening hours set to be cut – Petersfield Post.   “Libraries across East Hampshire look set to be the latest public service to fall victim to cost cutting measures. Under new proposals tabled by Hampshire County Council, public libraries in Alton, Bordon, Grayshott, Liphook and Horndean will each have their opening hours cut.”

“As a county councillor I am absolutely appalled at the cuts. We have already had substantial cuts to the book funds over the last five years and we have lost most of our professional library staff.  Now we are cutting the opening hours. I think it is going in exactly the wrong direction – my heart goes out to the library staff that work so hard in Bordon.”

  • Hertfordshire – Launch StatementWe Heart Libraries.  We are pleased to announce the launch of We Heart Libraries – a people-driven campaign for everyone in North Herts and Stevenage who loves their libraries and wants to show it. We aim to celebrate everything that our public libraries bring to our communities and do for our citizens, as well as standing up for them in times of trouble.” … “We Heart Libraries co-founder Andy Darley said: “I grew up in Hitchin and the library was like a second home to me. As a child it was a place of magic and wonder, and it really matters to me that people all across our area – whatever their ages – should have the same opportunities I had.”
  • North Yorkshire – Exclusive: rural life at “tipping point” as cuts slash services – Yorkshire Post.    “The study, by consultancy firm Rural Innovation, concludes that there is “no longer scope to continually pare down key public services” in the face of spending cuts and that the Big Society must be given an opportunity to take control.”.  Rural areas are suffering hardest from the cuts as “it is harder to deliver to dispersed populations and when you are pushing to meet delivery targets, the edges suffer quickest”
  • Oxfordshire – Pullman’s spat with council over library cuts: the sequel – The Independent.   “Mr Mitchell said of Pullman and his fellow campaigners yesterday: “They are luvvies. If they ever needed social care they would be able to afford it [privately].”
    • Increased efficiency, the OCC way – Question Everything.  Examines council salaries, pointing out the high pay of Keith Mitchell and others, including an increase in the number of highly paid executives.  ” A increased headcount and a increase salary spend on the over 50k staff isn’t “savage cuts” or efficiencies in the back office, it is quite the opposite.”.  £3m was spent on consultants in the last year.  “Looking at all this I see why Keith resorts to childish insults and nonsense binary arguments that have no basis in reality, he cannot argue on facts because he doesn’t have any. He has failed to make OCC more efficient or to save the front line as he is instructed to by his own parties position. He has poisoned debate in Oxfordshire to cover for his own failings and I think he should be cut.”
  • Scottish Borders – Call to St Ronanites to note their protest on library cuts – Southern Reporter.   “controversial plans by Scottish Borders Council to merge libraries with council contact centres in seven towns and, at the same time, reduce their opening hours.” … “Mrs Clancy says they and many other residents are unhappy the matter seems to be being treated as a low key issue by SBC whilst at the same time the local authority has brought forward the closure of the consultation date for the library proposals from the October 27 to the 14th of this month.” … ““While the contact service staff who would also deliver the library service would be given training, it cannot be matched with the many years of experience, dedication and goodwill that Elaine has shown to the library users of Innerleithen.””. 

Telegraph calls Oxon Tory Leaders libraries viewpoint “astonishing”

434 libraries (347 buildings and 87 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

  • Joe Orton and our relationship with librariesChannel Four News.   Five minute video clip on Orton’s defacing of library books in the early 1960s, which led to Joe receiving six months (!) in prison.  “In 1962 libraries were considered important hubs of the community and so an attack on their collection of books was seen as an attack on society.  This is interesting to consider in the light of the threat of closure currently facing several libraries around the country.”.  Including clip of New Cross library protest. … “For now, the Essex Road library in Islington isn’t under threat.  And the upcoming exhibition will draw attention to its unique place in literary history.  But perhaps it might also serve another purpose and make us all reflect once more on just how important libraries are – and should be considered by all of us, councils and governments included. If it succeeds on that front, I’m sure Joe Orton would approve of the irony.”
  • Love your library – Library Council (Eire).  A short and simple video on usage of Irish libraries, encouraging people to visit.  There has not been to my knowledge any English library authority or body making a promotional video of similar nature this year.  
  • Philip Pullman’s library campaign blamed for social service cuts – Telegraph.  Keith Mitchell (leader of Oxfordshire) comments criticised.  Campaigner says issue is not “party political” and that there is scope for saving money within the library service.  Article calls Mitchell’s claim “astonishing” and that “Mr Mitchell failed to acknowledge that among those vocally opposed to the library service cuts was Barry Norton, David Cameron’s election agent and leader of West Oxfordshire District Council.” Comments after article are very largely critical of Mr Mitchell who appears to have shot himself in the foot and perhaps needs to relax with a good library book to recover. Alan Gibbons’ comments add that Mr Mitchell is wrong due to (a) other cuts could be made and (b) the money is there (as shown by £1.7bn found for weekly bin collections and council tax freeze).
    • Phony War Question Everything.  Includes picture of Keith Mitchell in full Freemasons outfit. “What I think Keith is doing here is actually quite cunning. The people protesting against the current library proposals are largely voters in Tory villages where all of the library cuts are happening under this proposal. His plan I believe then is: A. Muddy the argument and make it about something else B. Wind the lefties up so his own side closes ranks against them and votes through the proposal, regardless of any evidence that it won’t work.”
  • Public libraries petition: please sign, we need 100,000 signatures – MumsNet.  Interesting comments showing a wide range of views. 
  • Who will be the last one standing?LaRue’s Views (USA).  “Back in 2008, I was interviewed by a reporter. With a knowing air, he asked me if libraries were going to survive the Internet. On Feb. 27, 2009, after 150 years of operation, his newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, printed its final edition. Now when reporters ask me that question I answer, “You bet we’ll survive. Will you?”

Changes

Hampshire 42 libraries will have hours cut by one day per week,  the 11 other branches (the largest) will be open at least 50 hours per week .  Volunteers may be used to increase these hours or take over those branches under threat of closure.
Islington – Some may close. Ruled out turning into a trust.  £30k less bookfund, no CDs, increased fines/charges, may co-locate libraries with colleges/community centres, opening hours reduced to three days per week.
Middlesbrough – 4 branches and 1 mobile under threat – Grove Hill, Easterside, Marton and Thorntree. £50k bookfund cut, close the mobile £50k, 1.5 less managers (£36k).
Northern Ireland – 30 FTE jobs to go, £10.3m cut over four years.   

Local News

  • Barnet – Save our libraries – Our Barnet.  Front page article and photo from Save Friern Barnet Library campaign. Details council decisions and campaign to save libraries in Barnet and next steps. 
  • Blackburn with Darwen New library service in North Turton to beat cuts – Lancashire Telegraph.  Mobile library withdrawn so, instead, “a stock of 250 titles will be housed in a community building and volunteers will help monitor the loaning out of the books. Every six weeks, 50 titles will be exchanged.” 
  • Bolton – Community trust could run library – Bolton News.   “Residents said the loss of the library would be a big blow for the community, with others asking if they could withhold their council tax if the facility shut. They backed running the library as a social enterprise, which could attract grants, sponsorship and commercial backing.”
    • “Quality not quantity” at core of 200-page report – Bolton News.   “The review states that the council’s statutory responsibility is to provide a library service for bolton, not necessarily a branch library service.” … “The council’s main message in the report is “quality not quantity”. Most residents in Bolton, the review states, will still live within two miles of a library.”.  Final decision to be made next Wednesday, with protest rally planned for outside.
  • Doncaster – Volunteer your time to save our libraries – Save Doncaster Libraries.  “If you’ve got any time to spare on the morning of Wednesday 12th October, please join us outside the Mansion House in Doncaster before the Cabinet meeting, where we’ll be protesting the Mayor’s proposals to force communities to run their own libraries, which we believe is unfair, unrealistic and unsustainable. There are many alternatives which the Mayor has refused to listen to because they do not fit in with his political views and the desire he’s had all along – to massively reduce the library service – purely because he doesn’t see the point of it.”
    • Mayor of Doncaster answering questions – BBC Radio Sheffield (2:11:00 on).   Includes facts like mayor has never used a library but libraries are “vital in schools”.  People should stop “belly-aching” about the cuts and suggest where else they should fall.
  • Gloucestershire – Children’s laureate to read to school children at Stroud Library – Stroud News and Journal.   Julia Donaldson: “”I’ve always been a big fan of libraries. They are where children discover their taste in books and become lifelong readers. I am planning to visit as many as I can during my two years as children’s laureate, to draw attention to all the exciting things that can and do go on in them. My hope is that these visits will result in children who are not already members signing up with their local library.” 
  • Hampshire – Centre could be made “key” hub – Gazette.  Smaller libraries may close one more day per week, while 11 largest remain unaffected.  Councillor in charge of libraries says “We have to make the service sustainable, so clear business sense has to prevail to give everyone reasonable access at least cost, especially when you consider we have one instance where the figures show every visit to one of our libraries costs the taxpayer £15 a time.””  Volunteers may help out or even take over under threat libraries.
  • Hertfordshire – Local and Libraries Cabinet panel – Hertfordshire Council.  Papers on the proposal for extending opening hours by allowing volunteer groups and charities to use libraries out of hours.
    • European lobbying pays off – We Heart Libraries.   “One of the East of England MEPs that we contacted has come back with a positive response. Andrew Duff, the Cambridge-based Liberal Democrat representative, is now more engaged with the issues facing libraries across Europe and says he may be open to supporting action on the subject in future.”
    • Library opening hours added to council’s scrutiny work programme – We Heart Libraries.   “The Overview and Scrutiny Committee has considered the idea and agreed to put library opening hours and mobile services on its work programme for the end of next year – by which time it feels the new system will have been in place long enough for some useful evidence to be gathered. This is in line with its usual rules on the length of time after which decisions become appropriate for scrutiny.”
  • Islington – Libraries: the battle begins – Islington Tribune.   “Staff say that at meetings there have been “ominous noises” about how “a library can be set up anywhere” and that space inside existing libraries could be rented, or buildings even sold.” … “One librarian, who asked to be identified as “Adrian Mole” but whose identity is known to the Tribune, said that staff morale was rock-bottom and that the council had expressed its “terror” about public reaction to the plans…. these cuts are the equivalent of losing two libraries …”.  Alan Gibbons “believes that local authorities have room to manoeuvre. Newcastle and Hull have managed to avoid library closures and to protect services,” he said.“The cuts in Islington look unnecessary. The first place they should be looking is to cut management services. Hitting frontline services is pretty lazy thinking.”
  • Lambeth – Minet Library and Lambeth Archives – Facebook group includes some very interesting looking events. 
  • Middlesbrough – Children’s services may suffer under budget cut plans – Northern Echo.  “Libraries may shut in Grove Hill, Easterside, Marton and Thorntree as well as eight Sure Start Children’s Centres.” 
  • Northern Ireland – Over 30 library posts face axe in cuts plan – Belfast Telegraph.  “The libraries authority, Libraries NI, told members that as part of its cost-cutting exercise to save £10.3m over the next four years, library staffing hours could be cut by 1,200 hours per week.“This equates to 33 full-time posts. However, as many library workers are part-time, the impact will be even greater and will greatly affect the predominantly female workforce,” a statement added afterwards.”
  • Oxfordshire –  Future of Benson Library: a new chapterFriends of Benson Library.  An extremely professional report defending the library.  Executive Summary has also been produced.
  • West Sussex – Meeting tonight on library cuts – County Times.  Steyning library will face 15% cut in budget.  Parish council meeting to look at ways of supporting library and to voice the concerns of the community.

Fears for Tiers

 

Comment
 
Cambridgeshire has announced a “supermarket style” tiering of its libraries into Library Extras and others.  A standard big library is now renamed an “Extra”.  Everthing else is no longer “Extra” as it is being degraded to a greater or lesser extent.  Presumably, in the next round of cuts, there will be less “Extras” and the few that remain will be renamed something even more superlative (like “Mega”?) and everything else drops down a tier.  Tiering – in the incarnation of giving away some of the least wanted libraries to other organisations – has already happened in Lewisham, from which there is a highly critical letter today that, if half of it is true, bodes ill for the whole concept.
429 libraries (343 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

  • East Village bookshop owner busts library thief – New York Post (USA).  “There’s no other situation where I would do this. I was so angry that he was stealing from the library,” Davis said. “The library is just a very important piece of our community.”
  • Libraries judicial review: no result for “two weeks to two months” – This is the West Country.  “The three-day hearing at the High Court in Birmingham ended with the judge reserving his decision for between two weeks and two months.”.  Campaigners’ lawyers says “Although no-one can second guess what a judge will decide, they were optimistic of a good result, with the judge having stated that he will carefully consider and weigh up all the arguments in this complex case.”.  Council refuses to give comment. 

 

 
  • School with no library for people of the bookJewish Chronicle.  King David High School in Liverpool to open but “one sentence made me choke on my breakfast and – assuming my family were to move to Liverpool – vow that no child of mine would ever attend King David. “In another advance on tradition,” it read, “there is no school library.”” … “But how is getting rid of a school library progress? What can replace a well-stocked library, where children are encouraged to read fiction and non-fiction? Where else can they browse books in a variety of subjects – including those they do not study – read expert opinions and have a break from the fact-cramming, box-ticking, keyword-spewing curriculum imposed by politicians?”

“Private schools, in contrast, value their libraries and arrange regular author visits. The lack of a library increasingly denotes social inequality. Parents should not be dazzled by technology. A good librarian in a well-used library is just as important.”

  • Smith to be vice-chair of CILIP – BookSeller.  Smith, a learning and teaching support officer at the University of Leeds, will serve for one year from 1st January 2012. Smith has gained a high media profile for her work with Voices for the Library and the Save Doncaster Libraries campaign.”
  • Social care cuts: it’s all Philip Pullman’s fault – Guardian.   In response to Keith Mitchell’s attempt to blame the campaign to save libraries in Oxfordshire on leftwing activists and posh authors.  “This attempted outsourcing of blame is disingenuous, not least because some of the most powerful lobbying against the library cuts came not from Oxford lefties but from Mitchell’s own political comrades and supporters.” … “Mitchell’s outburst is really a diversion to cover his own failure of judgement and leadership.” … “many of Mitchell’s own party members lost confidence in his handling of the cuts – indeed, Mitchell barely survived an attempted coup in May.”  … “”Big society” was meant to emerge to fill the gaps caused by cuts, and it was assumed that the Tory shires would be enthusiastic participants. Ironically, in Oxfordshire it appears that it is opposition to cuts, not the prospect of running one’s own library, that has galvanised the long dormant community spirit so prized by Cameron.”
  • What do public librarians and library staff do? – Walk You Home.  In response to the Mayor of Doncaster’s comments about library work being easy,  Lauren Smith and friends lists what it is library staff actually do.

Local News

  • Blackpool – Central library reopens after £3m revamp – BBC.  “The renovation of the Grade II-listed building on Queen Street includes a new extension with three rooms for community groups to use and a cafe.”  £2m from Big Lottery Fund, £1m from council.
  • Bolton – Campaigners vow to carry on fight to save libraries – Bolton News.  “Campaigners have vowed not to give up their fight to save five libraries from the axe. The Save Bolton Libraries Campaign reacted angrily to the council’s final proposals, published online yesterday.”.  Rally next Wednesday when Council will rubber-stamp closures. … “They say they have listened but they have disregarded hundreds of people’s views and thousands who signed petitions.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Supermarket-style library services given green light – Hunts Post 24.  “Members of Cambridgeshire County Council’s cabinet have approved a move to replace the current library service with a “21st century” model, that would see libraries being ranked as supermarkets.” “Extra” = standard library services for three largest branches, “Access”/”Compact” = lesser facilities, including volunteers, for other less fortunate places.
  • Camden – Primrose Hill Community Association (PHCA) submit proposals to take over Chalk Farm library, but still need £1.2 million – Camden New Journal.  “A partnership between the Heath and Hampstead Society and the Friends of Heath Library could take over the threatened Keats Grove branch, while the Friends of Belsize Library are hoping the Winchester Project Community Centre will submit an expression of interest to manage the Belsize branch. In the case of Chalk Farm, the PHCA say their bid will hinge on getting funding to guarantee the library’s future for 20 years and will follow a mini-consultation among users on what they want from the building.”
  • Conwy – Fresh call for guidance on library closures – North Wales Weekly.  Local AM says to Senedd “‘The closure of Kinmel Bay and Cerrigydrudion libraries would be a real blow for residents. They are important facilities for the community. There is a need for guidance from the minister in this area. Kinmel Bay and Cerrigydrudion have been defined as deprived areas in terms of educational attainment and income levels.”
  • Doncaster – To hand 12 libraries to volunteers – BookSeller.    Report on plan, inc Mayor’s explanation and Lauren Smith’s response.
    • Moves to cut library funding criticised – Yorkshire Post.   “Controversial plans which will see a council cut its funding for more than half of the libraries in a Yorkshire town have been unveiled and met with a barrage of criticism from campaigners.”
  • Enfield – Town library up for SCALA architecture award – Enfield Independent.   “he building – which now includes a two-storey extension and a renewable energy ground source heating system – also won a London Planning Award from Mayor Boris Johnson in January.” … ““This is a very attractive building and the new work has attracted lots of visitors. It is great to see it being used by so many people from the local community.””
  • Lewisham – Letter to Vaizey – via Alan Gibbons.  Letter from Peter and Patricia Richardson on the failure of the DCMS to intervene, drawing the attention of Ed Vaizey to the experience of non-council run libraries in the borough: (1) council accepts that Eco Computers (took over 3 libraries) may fail and could lead to a “reputational” loss to the council which would be hard to avoid. (2) Downgrading of library service may be against the 1964 Act.  (3) “large scale” removal of stock.  If a cafe is added, this remove yet more stock.  (4) Reservations take up to 5 weeks to be satisfied. (5) Blackheath Library only has 1000 visits per month now compared to 7 ot 8000 before. (6) marginally more opening hours is of no benefit with greatly reduced stock. (7) None of the libraries is open as much as promised due to failure to recruit volunteers.  (8) It is not clear how the Data Protection Act affects the work of volunteers. (9) all lost buildings need considerable work.  “The new temporary site for Blackheath is only accessed by crossing a sloping, badly surfaced terrain.  No official building would be allowed to permit the public access in this way.”.  However, a comment by a user of one of these libraries, says he is still “receiving a good service”.
  • Middlesbrough – Closures on the cards as Middlesbrough mayor unveils cuts proposals – Northern Echo.   “Several libraries, children’s centres and youth centres are earmarked for closure during 2012-13, as is Clairville Stadium and Tennis World, which would be put up for sale.”.  Services protecting the elderly and vulnerable will receive less cuts than rest.  Mayor says ““This is a climate of creativity, if you have ideas and they are a bit off the wall, let us have them.””
  • Swansea – Horrid Henry grips thousands in Swansea’s Summer Reading Challenge – Wales Online.  “A record 2,184 youngsters took part in Swansea council’s Summer Reading Challenge and the most borrowed books were about the adventures of Horrid Henry.” … ““Feedback from staff is that some children start reading more often after the challenge and many persuade their friends to join the library and sign up for the challenge too.”

Painful to read

Comment

One of the most painful things I’ve read for months (and I read a lot of painful things doing Public Libraries News) is today’s article from the Leader of Oxfordshire Council.  In it, he blames the massively popular campaign in his county against library closures on leftwing activists.  He also makes clear he sees this campaign as due to people caring more about libraries than on social care.  So, campaigning for your local library makes you a bad person.  That’s a new one. Leading on from this is a painful thing to hear – the mayor of Doncaster showing a complete lack of awareness of what library staff actually do.  No wonder he is so happy to get rid of them in 14 branches, although strangely the people of Doncaster appear to have other views on this.  Not a good day for convincing us of the merits of our leaders.
Then we come to an announcement that gives one hope.  Lauren Smith, a leading library campaigner (for Save Doncaster Libraries and as a colleague of mine in Voices for the Library) is to become vice-president of CILIP next year.  I hope she won’t mind me saying that she is very young (early 20s) for this post and it is an indication of how unusual these times are that she was elected unopposed.  Good luck and best wishes to her.

429 libraries (343 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

  • CILIP Vice President 2012 – Walk You Home.  Lauren Smith, library campaigner (of Save Doncaster Libraries and Voices for the Library) will become vice-president of the professional library association in 2012.  “The library and information profession has seen considerable changes over recent years. CILIP is seeking to better meet the needs of its members, with support for new professionals, an increased emphasis on advocacy and the provision of a significant voice for the profession, to inform policy and legislation. In Defining our professional future, members said that they “want CILIP to become, above all, a visible campaigning body. This means pro-actively advocating the profession to government, opinion leaders, employers and society as a whole, to ensure the professional function and skills are fully understood, appreciated and resourced.”
  • Peet accuses politicians of “weasel words” over librariesBookSeller.   “Peet was speaking at a Publishers Association (PA) and Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS) fringe event on the future of libraries at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester yesterday [4th October].” … “(CILIP) chief executive Annie Mauger describe libraries as “a changing service” rather than a “dying service”, and National Literacy Trust c.e.o. Jonathan Douglas call libraries “an all-powerful resource which promotes social mobility”. 
  • Keith Mitchell: People love libraries.  That’s why social care cuts are deeper – Guardian.  The Leader of Oxfordshire County Council is angry that the “single area of huge campaigning activity” against the cuts was to do with libraries, blaming “a local lefty with a track record of opposition” who organised other lefties, Greens and “anarchists”, plus newcomers like Kirsty Young.  These people selfishly and ignorantly defended libraries to the detriment of social care. Reading the comments is an essential.

Changes 

Bolton – Five closures – Astley Bridge, Oxford Grove, Heaton, Highfield and Castle Hill – confirmed for 2012.  Heaton will remain as community/children’s centre.  13 FTE staff to go.  Central Library hours extended, including on Sundays.
Doncaster – 14 branches under threat (total revised again due to more information) – 2 closing outright (Carcroft and Denaby) while 12 others (Bawtry, Intake, Warmsworth, Moorends, Rossington, Stainforth, Scawthorpe, Balby, Bessacarr, Edenthorpe, Wheatley and Sprotbrough) will be run by volunteers. 
Hertfordshire – New Barnfield Library (central resources library) – closure to go ahead but with documents moved to another location with reduced opening hours (source – Save New Barnfield Library newsletter). 
Islington – 16 staff to go, opening hours cut, more self-service, share housebound library service with Camden.
Sandwell – Campaign group: Friends of Rowley Libraries (Facebook group). 

Local News

  • Bolton – Library closures: the final plan – Bolton News. “Five libraries — Astley Bridge, Oxford Grove, Heaton, Highfield and Castle Hill — will shut next year. The Heaton building will, however, be retained as a community hub and children’s centre; and one new full-time post has been created to man neighbourhood collections.”. Most people will be within two miles of another library and so have been asked to travel “that little bit further”. Campaigner says ” “We understand that despite an overwhelming rejection of its proposals by thousands of petitions and survey forms, Bolton Council intends to press ahead with its short sighted and destructive plans to close a third of our libraries.”

Alexei Sayle has been announced as the special guest to join the Stand Up for Libraries line-up! The top comedian will be joining Phil Jupitus, Robin Ince, Helen Arney, and Robyn Hitchcock on Monday 17th October at Queens Park Community School.” Brent – Stop press! Alexei Sayle joins Stant Up for Libraries line-up – Save Kensal Rise Library. 

  • Camden – Hampstead sale: well, this is a turn up for the books, Glenda – Ham High.  Heath: “The library is threatened with closure after Camden Council withdrew its funding. The friends group is holding a meeting on October 19 to discuss the library’s future. Perhaps Glenda will lend her support with another surprise appearance?”
  • Doncaster – Oy, Mayor Davies: there’s more to working in a library than stamping out books – Save Doncaster Libaries.  “Mayor Davies’ profound contempt for the entire library profession is appalling – his comment on local radio yesterday that it can’t be that hard to stamp out a few books demonstrates his total ignorance. He admits he doesn’t know what librarians do and blames Doncaster’s librarians for the state the libraries are in – even though he knows full well there haven’t actually been any librarians running the service for several years because they were made redundant.”.  Excellent long list of what librarians actually do is then listed.
    • Mayor Davies defending cuts to library services –  BBC Radio Sheffield (59:23 and 1:05:32 but items scattered around entire show).  “Top story” on programme, including defending librarians as needing postgraduate qualifications.  
    • They were never ever going to listenSave Doncaster Libraries.  Analysis of the new proposals from Doncaster and of the radio interview with the Mayor, including polite response to him from Phil Bradley of CILIP.

 “What’s the training required to have a book out and stamp it and take it back the following week?  Things are made mysterious … libraries haven’t been altogether successful these last few years” says Mayor Davies. (1:14

  • Islington – Bad news from Islington – Alan Gibbons.    16 members of staff (10%) to be lost, more self-service, opening hours to be cut (possibly down to three days per week) except in two largest libraries.  Housebound library service to be merged with Camden.  “There are also ominous noises about how a ‘library can be set-up anywhere’ and the renting of space within library buildings, if not the buildings themselves being sold off eventually.” … “It seems quite obvious, that for political reasons, the council has decided not to close any branches outright. Instead the Service will be fragmented by ‘spreading the pain around’”
  • Sandwell – New group launched to give Rowley’s libraries a boost – Halesowen News.  Friends of Rowley Libraries formed, uniting Friends from Cradley Heath, Blackheath and Oakham. Friends groups aiming to improve libraries and stave off worst effects of the cuts, complementary to the main service.  “Elan Homes have donated £250 to the group and they have already organised the repainting of Oakham Library through the community payback scheme and we are hoping to raise funds so the inside of Cradley Heath Library will be painted.”
  • Surrey – Update on plans for Surrey librariesInformation Twist.   Summary of cuts proposed.  “Following this, on Saturday morning library campaigners held a number of events at libraries in Surrey that would be affected by the decisions. In the afternoon, a rally was held outside Woking Library. The aim being to highlight and challenge the changes being made to Surrey Libraries. Campaigners also collected petition signatures, for both the local campaign & the W.I. national campaign. A number of people spoke at the rally: Alan Gibbons sent a message of support, UNISON spoke about the cuts, campaigners talked about Surrey’s plans and their concerns and, as a representative for Voices For The Library, I highlighted the value of public libraries by reading out quotes/comments from library users throughout the country”.
  • Westminster – Council to share senior management roles – Westminster Chronicle.  “There will also be one director of adult services, one director of libraries and combined environmental services across the three boroughs.” of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea [Making it possibly the longest job title in the history of libraries?].  50% cut in senior and middle managers, 50% cut in overheads attached to frontline services.

Time to rise up, citizens, and save your libraries

  

424 libraries (338 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

  • Killing LibrarianshipVirtual Dave.  “What might kill our profession is not ebooks, Amazon or Google, but a lack of imagination. We must envision a bright future for librarians and the communities they serve, then fight to make that vision a reality. We need a new activist librarianship focused on solving the grand challenges of our communities. Without action we will kill librarianship.”
  • Paraxis library storiesVoices for the Library. Points out excellent pro-library website … they show the range of feelings about libraries and the value people place on them. The Paraxis editors are obviously well aware of cuts being made to library services and comment that ”The tragedy and disgrace of our generation is that we are in danger of leaving a poorer cultural inheritance than the one we inherited.
  • Public library e-petition: 10,000 signatures strong – Wordshore.   “It isn’t going to suddenly change the public library threat situation but it will raise awareness. It’s positive, and has cost nothing except a small amount of time and taxpayers money to set up and for people to sign. And a lot of people signing other e-petitions will have come across it, just by flicking through the website.” … To get to a 100,000 figure petition will need support of a national newspaper, or major celebrities, or capitalise on a reactionary feeling.  These possibilities then analysed.  “Will the e-petition get to 100,000 signatures before the deadline? Don’t know – but it needs that big acceleration to stand a chance. Anyway – looking at many of the other popular petitions, surely we can do better as a country than just wanting people to be hung, deprived of benefits, or punished for simply not being as well-off as us?”
  • Time to rise up, citizens, and save your libraries – Waikato Times.   “We are now familiar with the hue and cry that went up like a lion’s roar from British citizens throughout that nation when the Tory government announced its plans to close more than 400 public libraries throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. People rose up as one to save their local public libraries. “We Shall Meet Them In The Foyers.” And they orchestrated this most effectively through social media networking tools: Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube and so on. Of the thousands of tweets gleaned through the “Support Your Public Library Campaign” in the UK one example will suffice; “Libraries are important because, as a child, some of my best friends lived within the pages of a book.”
Dear Shirley
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding my Labour Party Conference Speech. Unfortunately due to tight time constraints Shadow Cabinet speeches are limited to 7 minutes at Labour Party Conference and as such it can be challenging to cover all of the ground in broad portfolios such as the Culture, Media and Sport brief. It is extremely important that the Labour Party has a clear and progressive vision and policies for the nations libraries and that is an important element of my brief. I have been working with my Shadow Minister with responsibility for libraries, Gloria de Piero MP, to challenge the Government to recognise the effect their decision to cut Local Authority Grants is having on library services. To this end we launched a campaign website on libraries late last year and have supported over 800 people to voice their concern at the Government’s policies on libraries.                                                                           
In addition to my main conference speech I spoke at a number of other fringe meetings including a New Local Government Network event where I focused on the importance of libraries as universal services and argued that instead of putting over 428 libraries at risk  the Government should be focused on working with Local Authorities to create a modern and sustainable library system.
Thank you again for contacting me.
Yours sincerely
Ivan Lewis MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
Changes
Doncaster –   9 under threat (previously listed as 12) according to plans to be approved in October 2011.  Bawtry, Intake and Warmsworth, Moorends, Rossington, Stainforth and Scawthorpe = to be volunteer-run.  Balby, Bessacarr, Edenthorpe, Wheatley and Sprotbrough = to be moved to different buildings.  Carcroft and Denaby = to be replaced by a mobile library.
Local News
  • Birmingham – Views from within the library – Rewriting the book, Library of Birmingham.   A look at the current state of construction of the new megalibrary, from a competition winner.
  • Bolton – Save Bolton Libraries statement – via Alan Gibbons. “We call upon everyone with a concern for the future of our libraries to demonstrate at 9.15am next Wednesday12th October outside the Town Hall when the Council’s Executive meet to make their final decision. It is not too late for them to change their minds and protect these valuable front line public services.”
  • Brent – Council “wasted £70,000 in legal fees it could have spent on books” – London Evening Standard.  Brent council today said that it was “regrettable” that it had been forced to spend so much money on legal fees but that it had taken “every step” to keep costs down. The Labour leader said: “Our Libraries Improvement Programme is designed to increase investment in Brent’s libraries by around £200,000 a year, so our libraries can open at weekends and in the evening, have more and better books, and a greater range of services.”
  • Croydon – Uncertainty over library funding – This is Croydon Today.   “Strong hints have been dropped by Croydon Council leader, Mike Fisher, that the council will look long and hard at whether to continue to jointly fund Upper Norwood Library with neighbouring Lambeth.” … “According to Mr Fisher over that time Croydon has had no input into how the £180,000 it gives the library is being spent or how it is run. The problem arises from Mr Fisher’s decision to have only Conservative cabinet members as Croydon representatives.”
  • Doncaster – Council plans to transfer 12 libraries – BBC.    “Under the proposals Bawtry, Intake and Warmsworth library are expected to continue as community-led enterprises within the existing buildings. Balby, Bessacarr, Edenthorpe, Wheatley and Sprotbrough will be operated along the same lines but run from different locations. Four libraries – Moorends, Rossington, Stainforth and Scawthorpe – would community-led self-service operations. An enhanced mobile and outreach service could be provided to Carcroft and Denaby in November if plans are approved.”  … “”I don’t want to sound cynical or negative but I don’t think it will work,” said Ms Smith. “Doncaster is in no position to start having volunteer run libraries. It doesn’t have the capacity. It doesn’t have the staff structure existing to support that so I’d be very surprised if it succeeded.”
    • Pickles and Porkie Pies – Save Doncaster Libraries.   Video of Eric Pickles saying Labour voted for library closures.  “Here’s a fact check, Eric… Not one of the Cabinet members is a member of the Labour Group. The head of the council is the Mayor, who is a member of the English Democrat party. His Cabinet is made up of Independent, Conservative and Liberal Democrat members because there are no other English Democrat councillors in the borough.” 
  • Gloucestershire – High Court hearing into proposed library closures in Gloucestershire concludes – Gazette.   Summary of last week’s court proceedings.
  • Hertfordshire – Libraries could be opened up to outside groups – Watford Observer. “Proposals up for discussion at county hall this week could see volunteer and community groups invited to use library buildings for meetings and projects. If it gets the go-ahead the move could also lead to extended library services for borrowers, officers said.”
  • North Yorkshire – Harrogate Library gets a Royal opening – Harrogate News.   “Harrogate’s historic central library was officially reopened today following a £3.4 million refurbishment. HRH The Duke of Gloucester peformed the opening ceremony at the state-of-the-art centre, which has undergone a complete transformation thanks to the Big Lottery and North Yorkshire County Council.” … “The renovation of the library – one of the original Carnegie libraries, dating from 1906 – was completed last summer, and the building opened its door to visitors last October. Since then, there has been a 44% increase in visitors, an 80% increase in new members, and a 53% increase in book borrowing.”
  • Surrey – Protests held against plans for volunteer-led libraries in Epsom and Ewell – Guardian series.   “Dozens turned out at the weekend to protest against plans by Surrey County Council to put 10 libraries across the county in the hands of volunteers. Demonstrations were held at Ewell Court library, Woking public library and County Hall following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, September 27, where Conservative councillors approved plans to get volunteers to run libraries in place of professional staff, in a bid to save £300,000.”   
    • End of an era as mobile library service shut down – This is Surrey Today. “Surrey’s mobile library service came to an end on Friday after more than 50 years. The county’s five book-packed vans have been doing their rounds at hundreds of stops across the county for the final time, with users wishing them a teary goodbye.” … “”I can’t really describe how I feel today, it’s just devastating. I can get to the library in Redhill at the moment but I won’t always be able to. And I will only be able to carry one book at a time.” 
  • Waltham Forest – Libraries set to close – Guardian series.   “Plans to close libraries in Chingford and Leytonstone look set to be approved next week – despite opposition from more than 7,000 residents.” … “officers have also recommended that the cabinet support proposals to convert the former Waltham Forest Direct shop in Chingford Mount Road into a volunteer-run library. But this is only on the condition that it does not cost any money to the taxpayer.”  See comments. 
  • Warwickshire – Plans for community library get going – Courier. Kineton: “The village’s parish council has resolved to submit a business plan for the project, which will be staffed by volunteers and managed by two parish council members and two volunteers, to Warwickshire County Council, which currently runs the service.” … “Operating costs, which could be up to £3,300, will be met by the parish council. The village’s Heart Start group has agreed to assist with the cost of insurance cover for the Heart Start equipment, which will be based at the library for easy access to residents.”
  • Wokingham – Libraries sell off plan to be reviewed -Get Wokingham.   “Controversial plans to put the management of the borough’s libraries out to tender will be reviewed in a full council debate after a petition with 2,374 signatures opposing the decision was handed to the council.”.  Council determined to continue though – ““Unlike other authorities we have opened a new library and a new children’s centre recently. We could not have done that if we stay in the past and do nothing to change the way we provide our services.”

Special Report – Big Societese 2, Ed Vaizey Letter to Library Chiefs

Ed Vaizey, the minister responsible for libraries has sent a letter to the responsible councillors and library chiefs about the help they can expect from Arts Council England after the demise of the MLA.  It ia available here, along with a link to the “Future Libraries: change, options and how to get there” whihc it serves an introduction to.  It is in the relentlessly upbeat tone that one has come to expect from a certain kind of bureaucrat, which I discussed in a previous post.  I have, in keeping with these previous post, translated key passages for your enlightenment and amusement.  Other interpretations of the words are welcomed as I am aware that reading similar material from the DCMS and numerous local authorities has made me somewhat cynical and jaded.

“We anticipate some councils will still need to address the requirement for ongoing efficiencies in the remainder of the spending review period.”. Some councils have not yet made the deep cuts made essential by Central Government.  They will need to so soon.

“Some have made interim or temporary savings pending more strategic consideration of this valuable and important service”. Some councils (Hi Gloucestershire! Nice to see you Somerset! Yo Doncaster, how you doing?) have made short-term and short-sighted cuts but not yet the deeper long-term cuts required.  Others (Hi Brent!) have made kneejerk cuts due to the severity of the cuts and short timescale demanded by the Government.  It is now the time to work out what we can salvage from this mess.

“As a result, following the transfer of the library function from MLA to the Arts Council, we are pleased to confirm that the Arts Council will continue to work with the LG Group on a further phase of the Future Libraries programme.”.  Following the destruction of the MLA, the Arts Council have decided to continue with the Future Libraries Programme due to the lack of any viable alternative, them having no idea what they’re doing yet and being forced to take over the service with little notice and pretty much no consultation.  They’ve also taken on key officers from the MLA so it’s hardly going to be a case of new blood or new thinking anyway.

“We are not able to offer the same package of support as was available in phase one of the programme and we are keen to hear from councils what sort of support might be most useful to them.”.  We’ve savagely cut the amount of funding available to the Arts Council for this purpose from £13m to £3m.   We are therefore at a loss as to how best spend this comparatively tiny amount of money so that it would make any effective difference and so would really like to pass the buck to the poor councils themselves.

“We would also like to take this opportunity to update you on the support that could be available to councils from the LG Group and the Arts Council as part of the Future Libraries programme.”. This letter would be really seriously depressing if it stopped here and so we need to throw in some fig leaves.  Prepare yourself for a seemingly impressive at first glance list that in effect amounts to expenditure of roughly three rounds of bitter down the local.

“Through phase two, councils will be able to benefit from the following:” = In late 2011/12 councils will have to accept all they can get, which is…

“- Continued access to an online forum to share good practice (this is currently achieved through a libraries Community of Practice, which will migrate to the LG Group’s new Knowledge Hub)” = “A free online forum, that is currently not even posted on every day now, that will soon move to a funkily named new website for no readily apparent reason.”

“- A simple self assessment tool to help you benchmark your current or proposed change process to the ‘reform and change model’ in the publication enabling you to identify any specific support needs.” = “A rule of thumb guide to see what you can and cannot get away with, enabling to see if you need to call for a support parcel from Medecins Sans Frontiers”.

“- Access to Member and Officer peer support and or consultancy support.”  = “Contact details of other people in the same mess as you plus some limited specialist expertise that we are paying exorbitant amounts for as we have sacked all the specialists who would have done this as part of their job earlier this year”

“- Learning events targeted at Members and Officers.” – “Read with Peter and Jane sessions for those of you who have not come on board fully with the grim reality of the reduction  in your library services, plus special tips on what language to use in order to sell the cuts to your electorate.”

“- It will also bring together the innovation taking place elsewhere, to create a practical and sustainable model of a modern and efficient library service that can contribute effectively to delivering better outcomes for individuals and communities.” = “We’re also going to encourage you to blackmail your local communities in order to do your work for free and show you how a private company can take over your problems for you while somehow making a big profit.”.

Let me know if I have missed anything, like the mention by the minister taking any action according to the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act to ensure a “comprehensive and efficent service”.  That’s got be in there somewhere.  Hasn’t it?

Jeremy and Ed

Comment

Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey both receive some criticism.  Mr Hunt for failing to do anything about his public duty to intervene in Brent and Mr Vaizey for not doing anything for museums.  It’s not surprising Jeremy hasn’t done anything yet for several reasons.  Doing nothing is the hallmark of the Government on libraries.  After all, why should they?  The councils are doing all the dirty work and getting all the flak.  Forcing volunteers to run libraries is, if anything, gaining them “Big Society” points with Mr Cameron.  Less cynically, the minister is also doubtless waiting for the result of the Brent judicial review.  Or it may be, it just may be, that Mr Hunt doesn’t care about libraries, doesn’t understand their relevance and importance and is ignoring his statutory duties because he wants to do other things. After all, he hadn’t borrowed a book for a decade. The complaint about Ed Vaizey claiming cuts won’t affect frontline museum services is not surprising.  Although he does actually like like libraries, in the few times he has talked about them since he has been in power, Evaizive has said much the same thing than he has said about museums.  Indeed, it is perhaps reassuring that he is both being consistent and not showing any particular malevolence towards the book.  Nice to see that when it comes to museums at least, we all appear to be in this together.
Arts Council England have formally taken over responsibility for libraries today.  They do this with £3m instead of the £13m that the MLA enjoyed.  By the way, the E-petition to save libraries has gone over 10,000. It is now the 18th most popular petition on the government website.  It should be higher.  
Finally, a personal highlight to share with you that shows the importance of libraries.  I did a class visit with some Year One children this lunchtime.  Great fun, reading “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” and “Shark in the Park”.  One little girl showed me a book she liked and then came up to me and said “thank you very much”.  Not all that important perhaps in the scheme of things but a parent came up to me afterwards and said it was the first words she had spoken in class. 
428 libraries (342 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

“What sort of madness is giving priority to weekly bin collections over the numerous essential services that local councils are being forced by the government to cut (£250m fund may see return of weekly bin rounds, 30 September)? Surely people who have complained about losing their weekly collection would rather have the local library open, care services retained etc. Finding £250m for this purpose, as opposed to Sure Start, education maintenance allowance etc, is unbelievable.” Bin MadnessGuardian (Letters).

  • “Book Show” returns to Sky Arts – Entertainment Focus.  In a change to the format of previous series, all of the guests will engage in exciting and lively debate inspired by a current literary topic. Some of the first topics to be discussed include libraries with Janet Street-Porter …”
  • Coming soon: Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group – CILIP.  “The Libraries APPG is being established to provide MPs and Lords with information and opportunities for debate about the role that libraries play in society and their future, with Justin Tomlinson MP as its Chair.”.  Launch will be on 14th December. 
  • Council tax freeze is LGPS member’s lollyPublic Finance.  Argues that money found for council tax freeze was found directly from cuts to public workers’ pensions.  “So guess what? It’s the poor and the lowest paid public sector workers who will pay. Not just through the increase, but through the whacking great hole in council budgets which the freeze will create as a consequence of the gearing mechanism. More cuts and higher thresholds for social care, more cuts to youth services, more cuts to pay and conditions,fewer libraries and more redundancies.”
  • Hunt’s silence on Brent continues – BookSeller.   DCMS officials had expected secretary of state Jeremy Hunt to make a decision on whether or not to order an inquiry into Brent’s closures before the end of September.  The duty to intervene under the 1964 Libraries Act appears to be considered as more of a unwanted quiet whisper in the mind of the senior minister, which he sees it as suitable and easy to ignore.
  • Museums and Libraries formally transfer to Arts Council England – ACE.  We have inherited an additional budget of around £46 million a year for our new responsibilities. £43 million of this is set aside for the regional museum programme,”.  “Though this change was born of necessity, we are inspired by the opportunity it presents – for the arts, museums and libraries, and their audiences and users. Arts organisations, museums and libraries now have an unprecedented opportunity to create a new cultural landscape with cultural institutions playing an even greater role in our national life, and a richer cultural experience offered to people across the country.'”
  • Money may be lacking but a library refuses to go quietly – New York Times (USA).  “If you were to assemble a city from scratch, you would need a few things to make this place of yours more than just a functioning municipality; to make it a community. So, along with a City Hall and a few schools, you would have a building where an elephant king named Babar rules, where it is a sin to kill a mockingbird and where everyone from Homer to Snooki has a story to tell.That is, you would need a library…”
  • Museums chief advises Ed Vaizey to “get out more”Independent.   In a speech that will resonate with library workers, the head of the Museums Association will tell the Minister to stop treating museum specialists as “children”.  Similarly, a following line “To suggest that cuts of anything from 15 to 30 per cent can be borne without debilitating cuts in our public services is naive at best and disingenuous at worst… Let’s not pretend that our front-line services will carry on as before.” could have been spoken about libraries. 
  • Number of libraries decline in Ukraine due to lack of readers – Kyiv Post (Ukraine).   Ukraine used to have one library for each community of over 500 meaning 18,000 public libraries.  Depopulation in smaller communities mean number is closing.  30% population uses libraries. Only 5% have more than one public access computer.
  • Telegraph: it’s boom time for children’s books – Alan Gibbons (comment). 20% of independent bookshops have closed meaning very limited range in town centres, library closures especially bad for children, ditto school libraries, important teenage prize suspended.

Local news

  • Bradford – Chance to have a say on Burley library planWharfedale Observer.   Residents see promise of better library as a bribe for an unwanted Tesco.  “Residents wanting to speak up on plans to house a Co-op convenience store in a village library building are being urged to write to Bradford Council as well as parish councillors.”
  • Brent – Best selling author slams Brent Council’s decision to close six libraries  – Willesden and Brent Times.  Jacqueline Wilson: ““It is obvious that lots of children use them. When I was a child, generally all my books were borrowed from libraries. It’s dreadful that libraries are under threat and their staff too.” … ““Most authors’ books are not available in supermarkets. Cash strapped families with keen readers may not have enough money to keep buying books. They haven’t thought this through.”
  • Dorset – Christchurch Library work to start as soon as Kelly’s Kitchen closes – Bournemouth Echo.   Library to be expanded (with addition of adult learning centre) when restaurant closes March 2012.  Council says ““Libraries are vibrant community buildings, providing leisure and learning opportunities for people of all ages. The funding to do this necessary work is in place.”
  • Hampshire – Urgent plea for volunteers to save libraryRomsey Advertiser.   “The library, in Wills Avenue, is one of two in Hampshire that could be shut down in September, 2012, under proposed cuts to the service. Hampshire County Council plans would also see Stanmore library, in Winchester close, unless volunteers can be found to run it.” … ““There are two schools in the area and it’s really important that these children continue to have access to a local library, otherwise they could end up falling behind in their education. That is a genuine concern of mine.”
  • Northern Ireland – £160,000 library items not returned – Independent.ie.  “Almost £160,000 worth of library books and other items of stock have not been returned, it has been revealed.”…”The missing material was noticed after library staff carried out the first physical counts for several years.”… 40,700 items missing.  
  • Oxfordshire – Final plea to save libraries from cuts – Henley Standard.   “Sonning Common library should not be facing funding cuts and instead be treated as a “special case”, say parish councillors.”.  Parish against volunteers, wanting cuts to be spread equally around county’s libraries. Primary school closely linked to school and currently pays £8000 p.a. for library for heating etc.  It would hurt school to close it. Also ““A town without a library would be unusual and a cause for concern.””
  • Public consultation on library cuts finishesHenley Standard.  “A total of 3,500 responses have been received by the county council during its four-month public consultation process.”.  Accusations of anti-rural bias. Goring Library campaigner says “I know we are staying open but the question is for how long,” he said. “By the current proposals the county will pay for nine opening hours. Our library issues 50,500 books a year. By that reckoning, the Friends will have to find the time to issue 34,000 books each year. That is a tremendous commitment.”
  • St Helens – Library to close until next year St Helens Reporter.   Thatto Heath – “New technology being installed at the library includes a wi-fi network, 29 PCs, including 12 Apple Macs, as well as special children’s laptops and three plasma screens. The total refurbishment will also feature new lighting, dedicated children’s and teens areas and a multi-functional community room for adult learning courses.”
  • Surrey – Elmbridge libraries volunteer plans get the go ahead – Elmbridge Guardian.  Council has decided on volunteers running some libraries as a bid to keep all open.  “Roy Green, chairman of Hersham Village Society, said the town deserved a proper library, and not one run by volunteers, after fighting hard for the past 20 years to keep it open.”
  • Warwickshire – Library and Information Service: latest news – Warwickshire Council.  Report on cuts/volunteers to go to Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 10th October.  For commitee to comment on and support so it will move on to next stages – Agenda here.

Hollowing out

Comment

Someone told me today that the UK library service is being “hollowed out”.  This phrases resonated as this is what pretty much every news report seems to show.  It looks deliberate. The strength of public feeling about closures caught decision-makers by surprise and so other strategies have had to be put in place.  Rather than a black and white decision, it’s far more politic to go for the grey – less bookfund, less hours, less staff, self-service or that ultimate in do-it-yourself, blackmailing volunteers to run the library itself (while still charging them for it, naturally). This gains time and reduces protest but is only a short-term solution.  The vital innards of the library – staff who know how to run it well, books people want to read – is being cut out, sometimes without overly much anaesthetic.  This does not create so many headlines but it is no less dramatic in its eventual outcome.  Things that are hollowed out, like trees, fall.
Another theme, accelerated this week by Amazon’s book-lending scheme and new products, is the e-book.  The failure to rise to the challenge of e-books is deeply worrying.  It’s not “just another format” as I have seen it described.  Since when did one see five (ten?) people using talking books (or large-print) in a railway carriage?  It’s either going to, please not in my lifetime, eventually replace books or, far more likely, co-exist with print as an equal or more-than-equal partner.  Those people who cannot afford ebooks, want them without advertising or are not comfortable with the new technology may, without public libraries, be locked out of literacy or denied the best and healthiest of all addictions.  An answer would be the extension of Public Lending Right to ebooks. Any worry over the current absence of this is not even on the radar of government or anyone else in a position to do anything about it …. and things which come in under the radar, like the hollow tree falling above, can often be very dangerous indeed.
428 libraries (342 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’s grip tightens on the entire book-publishing chain – CNN Money.  “Teicher doesn’t think that Amazon truly has a monopoly, but he warns “it’s moving in that direction.” Dominique Raccah, CEO of independent Chicago-area publisher Sourcebooks, agrees that Amazon “could be” a monopoly already. Amazon’s move into publishing “was completely expected,” she says.”
  • Campaign for the Book Newsletter – Alan Gibbons.   Less libraries closing than feared, but this masks a push towards volunteers doing the job due to council blackmail.  Opening hour and bookfund cuts make situation worse. National Libraries Day 4/2/12 shaping up to be big – with special events, libraries opening longer that day, etc.  School libraries also under threat.  “We have had some success in mounting resistance to the philistine assault on libraries. We will have to redouble our efforts if we are to emerge from this period with a public library service and a network of school libraries worth the name. If we fail the consequences for literacy in this country will be dire.”.  School library visits also discussed.
  • Doubts grow, not economy, under UK austerity drive – Boston Globe (USA).  First line is “Manchester, England—Jobs have been lost, libraries shuttered, sailors sacked and street lights dimmed — Britain is beginning to taste the bitter medicine David Cameron warned was necessary to fix its wounded economy. It’s left some wondering: Is the remedy worse than the symptoms?” … Professor says “From almost day one they had an austerity plan, but they had no plan for growth”.

“At the age of 17, [Kurt Cobain] ran away from his mother’s house, and practically lived in the local library for the whole of one bitterly cold winter. He’d hang out there, reading books by authors like Salinger and Tolstoy, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lauren’s Van Der Post, waiting until his friends arrived home from school so he could bum macaroni cheese off them.” ijclark’s mind dump

  • Libraries judicial review concludes today – This is the West Country.  Jan Simpson-Scott, of Watchet Library Friends, said: “We have every confidence in our barrister and with the people of Watchet behind us, we firmly believe that we’ve done the best we could.”
  • Public library service is in really really deep waterGood Library Blog.  The publishing industry are increasingly seeing public libraries as unimportant/irrelevant.  This has been shown by the failure to come to an agreement over e-book lending.  As printed books decline, libraries will lose their reason.  Something needs doing quickly to ensure that this does not happen.

Changes

Worcestershire – Worcester Public Library rare books sold off (£200,000 plus): sale now restarted since suspension due to public outcry in April (Souce: Historic Libraries Bulletin, not currently available online).

Local News

  • Norfolk – Library hours change in Norfolk – KLFM.  8000 people responded to proposal to cut opening hours by an average 10% among libraries.  Change in hours starts on Monday. “The County Council has always resolved that none of its 47 libraries would close as part of its cost savings measures, made necessary by a reduction in government grants and rising cost pressures. The idea to reduce libraries’ opening hours as a way of helping to make the savings of £1.49 million expected of the library service over three years came out of Norfolk’s Big Conversation, the council’s consultation on prioritising its services in order to find savings.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Apprentice scheme at County Council – Eastwood and Kimberley Advertiser.  “A scheme creating 25 apprenticeships over the next year for teenagers aged 16 to 18 is being launched by Nottinghamshire County Council. The posts will be in a variety of services including catering, libraries and human resources and will offer apprentices 40 weeks paid work experience to achieve an NVQ.”
  • Somerset – Watchet Library NewsWatchet Library Friends (via Alan Gibbons).   Watchet Library was due to have been closed by now but legal injunction is still in force keeping it open until decision of court is revealed, which may be “months” away.  Further fundraising still needed to raise £9000 that Legal Services Commission has insisted on, although independent review said that only £3500 was needed.
  • Surrey – Actor Brian Blessed joins Surrey library campaign – BBC.   “A spokesman for the campaign group said: “Brian turned up to lend his support to the campaign to save both Bagshot library and its librarians and he stayed for an hour, during which he read stories to the children present in the library.”.  Council has said that it will decide to close any libraries that are not volunteer-run by December, although saying its aim is to keep all open.
    • New Haw Library Community Partnership – NatWest Community Force.  Appeal for votes for gaining grant.  “In the long-term, we are confident that our project can be self-financing. However, we need to fund what are essentially set-up costs. In particular, there are the legal fees that will ensure our project is properly constituted and can be registered as a charity. In this intial phase, we also want to maintain regular contact with the 150+ volunteers who have come forward to offer their help.”. 

  • Library campaigners stage demonstrations – BBC.   “Campaigners, who have continued their fight, urged people to bring “voice, banners, flags and friends” to the protests at the weekend. They were organising activities including card-making, painting, drawing and book-reading in support of local libraries and librarians, and were due to hold a rally outside Woking library…”
  • Torfaen – Pontypool library opens after makeover – Free Press.   Funded by Welsh Assembly.  “There is a more open layout on the ground floor, and the basement, which had previously only been accessible to staff, has been brought into public use as a computer suite and community meeting room. The library now has a disabled lift to the basement level.”
  • West Sussex – Self-service at town libraryCounty Times.   “The Bookstart Bear and children from Arunside School will be the first to use the new terminals when the library in Lower Tanbridge Lane opens its doors once again on Monday October 3.”
  • Worcestershire – Sale of Rare Books from Worcester Public Library – Historic Libraries Forum bulletin (not yet available online).  Old books are being sold via auction due to lack of space in new joint university/public library “The Hive” due to open in 2012.  Private company had suspended sales due to public outcry in April but has now restarted.  Items sold include Holinshed’s Chronicles 1587 and a 1522 Comoedia of Plautus.  Council admits it does not have the expertise to decide what to keep and what is most valuable and has asked anyone interested to help in disposal “to ensure that no item is sold in error”. “The sale of a complete set of The Gentleman’s Magazine in September was defended on the grounds of its digital availability, but the database cited covers only the first 20 years.”