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.