Comment

In Northamptonshire, one of the jobs being advertised is “Job Seeker Session Leader”.  It’s a post for a volunteer.  17 jobs are being cut by Northamptonshire Libraries by the way, to be replaced by volunteers.  In Gloucestershire, on the other hand, the same councillor currently fighting a legal case over its dramatic cuts to the library service, is praising them for getting people online.  One hopes this signals the start of a dramatic turnaround by the council.  One kind of doubts it though.  
False Economy is now using the Public Libraries News map database to add library cut details to its site.  Soberingly, it has increased its listings of national cuts of all services by a full 10%.  
Finally, oh what joy it must be to be Ed Vaizey, the Minister technically-for Libraries, being able to see only the positives in the world.  It has been a delight to see his innocent optimistic tweets over the last year about how wonderful the library service is and how, of course, the cuts are absolutely no problem at all and, even if they were, they’re nothing to do with him.  Or anyone else he knows.  It’s good to see he has continued taking the happy pills today (because one fears for his health when he accidentally forgets one day and sees the reality of the situation) …
“Fantastic visit to Birmingham today. Investing £120m in new central library and modernising library service.” @edvaizey.

428 libraries (339 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

Things you can do today

News

  • Book to the future – BookSeller (John Pateman).  Analysis of the Future Libraries Programme, mixing criticism with sympathy, due to the great demands made from it (and the size of the cuts expected).  “The Future Libraries report has been dismissed by many commentators as being both simplistic and limited, but I have a more sympathetic view. I know how difficult it is to try to square the demands of politicians, service users, local communities and staff. It is very hard—if not impossible—to please all of these stakeholders and build a library service that is fit for purpose, affordable and sustainable.”
  • Debates in libraries fight Socialist Worker.  The largest workshop of the day looked at the use of volunteers in public libraries. Although there was unanimous agreement that libraries should be run with paid staff, many campaigns felt they would reluctantly resort to volunteering to keep their library open. But many argued that this would mean affluent areas getting a service while deprived areas couldn’t.  As one Unison rep said, “Volunteer-run libraries are the silent death of public libraries.” The whole logic of cuts needs to be challenged.” …“Volunteer-run libraries are the silent death of public libraries.”
  • Frontline: A library assistant on the effects of government policy on a public library – Civil Service Live Network. “Library customers grumble about having less space, until we point out that it has helped to keep the library open. I think that if you see the library as a place where you get information, there is no problem with mixing the two and it brings new people into the library. However, library staff fear that in the next round of cuts managers may try to merge the library and council workforces, to the detriment of the library service.” … “Unfortunately, team morale has been severely affected by fear of what’s to come and by the money-saving measures and initiatives that have already been put in place. We are aware that these cuts will go on for years, but we don’t know how they’ll affect budgets so we don’t have any real confidence in the future or in our jobs.”
“For those existing on a weekly jobseeker’s allowance of £90, it is one of the items that they have to forgo. It is vital, therefore, that our public libraries are open and available to such people so that they can have access through the public library system.” Baroness Sharp of Guildford on Education Bill

  • In defence of librariesGeeks shall inherit the Earth.  libraries suddenly seem to have become expendable in the eyes of many local councils, not only in the UK but also America and who knows where else. It feels like a crime that we’re even in this situation, but here we are.” … “It’s easy to take them for granted, but in a world where we can access a mountain of information with next to no quality filter, librarians should rule. Somewhere along the line, that building full of books has seen the skillsets of the people who work there gain in currency.”
  • In praise of the big librarySintoblog.   In responding to a remark in the Philip Pullman speech that “It would be far more sensible to close the big libraries and open even more small ones”, points out that larger size means more facilities (which are needed but perhaps not possible in a small one) and books.  “Of course, what we want is both and I genuinely believe that the benefit to a community of such a library system far exceeds the cost. However, we all know that many library managers are being faced with the reality of having to deliver a quality library services with inadequate funding. I believe that as professionals we do need to come up with a realistic way of maintaining a service in the face of unreasonable cuts and that keeping a large number of small libraries open is not of itself better than a smaller number of bigger libraries. First develop the service, then deliver it as appropriate.”
  • Libraries Fortnight Library Wales.org.  Over 100 events on the database… “During Libraries Fortnight, events for all ages and interests are taking place across Wales. Events include family fun days, storytelling and animation workshops, open mike night, circus skills, author events, quizzes and competitions, rapping, craft events, zumba and street dance classes. Many of the events will be filmed and footage will be available for you to watch online.”
  • Save the Libraries MySpace page, @weneedlibraries (Twitter).   “Many British libraries are now facing closure because of council cutbacks,this will rob the people who need the libraries the most ,not everyone can afford to buy computers or buy books,and if the proposed closures go through many wont even be able to afford to travel to the nearest libraries…”

Houses of Parlimament,  Thursday 27th October 2011


10.15am Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Subject: DCMS Accounts 2009-10 and Responsibilities of the Secretary of State
Witness(es): The Rt. Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State, Department for
Culture, Media and Sport and Jonathan Stephens, Permanent Secretary,
Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Location: Committee Room 8, Palace of Westminster


Changes

Devon –   Extension for Newton Abbot Library

Local News

  • Croydon / Lambeth – Labour livid over Tory termination of Upper Norwood library agreement – This is Local London.  ““Despite 20,000 people signing petitions and marching against Coun Fisher’s plans and in a move that has even horrified other Tory councillors, Coun Fisher seems to be prepared to see UNJL future threatened and is hell bent on selling off all of Croydon’s libraries.” … ““Councillor Fisher is holding a gun to the head of UNJL and holding every library in Croydon hostage.”
  • Devon – Newton Abbot New Community LibraryDevon County Council.   New library being built, interesing competitions including one for the name.  “the building is to be officially named ‘The Passmore Edwards Centre’, in honour of the Victorian philanthropist who gave it to the town at the turn of the 20th century.” … “The extension allows the library to expand to cater for the growing population of the town and surrounding areas. Refurbishment also means that the local support service for adults with learning disabilities will be based in the building, without loss of library space, an addition that John Passmore Edwards would surely have supported.”
  • Gloucestershire – County Council and the digital divide – FoGL.   “Recent research has shown that four in ten people in the Gloucestershire and Bristol region do not have access to the internet.” … irony is “Cllr Antonia Noble, Cabinet member for libraries, said: “The internet is a great way of getting information. It’s also good fun and makes staying in touch with friends and family really easy.”The county council already supports getting people online through weekly First Click courses in libraries. And around the county, library staff help around 170 people get online every day.”.  The council is withdrawing support for ten libraries and drastically cutting funding to others.
  • Hertfordshire – Borehamwood library could be used out-of-hours by voluntary groupsBorehamwood and Elstree Times.  The idea comes three months after drastic cuts were made to the opening hours of libraries, including an almost 40 per cent cut in the time Borehamwood Library is open to the public.” … “it would be a step towards making libraries into community hubs.” [This last phrase can mean either what it says or, more increasingly, “entirely volunteer-run” – Ed.]
  • Northamptonshire – Volunteering in LibrariesNorthamptonshire Council.  “There are many interesting opportunities for volunteers within the Library service. Details of our current opportunities are listed below.” … jobs include, somewhat ironically, “Job Seeker Session Leader”.
  • Warwickshire – Warwick estate boosted by the return of a mobile library serviceCourier.  “At the moment there is a case for it. A lot of people living in what is known as a deprived area do want to read a lot of books and I thought it would be a good idea for them to come and have a browse. “It’s something for the betterment of the community.” … described as during the time of a library “cull”.