For the full text of Jeremy Hunt’s answers to the DCMS committee, please see here.  

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

  • Challenges facing Britain’s libraries – Sustainable Gov.  Good survey of the current problems facing libraries.  “The pressure on local authorities to slash their spending has perhaps never been greater, so some sympathy must be afforded to Brent Council. The backlash against their efforts, however, is a striking demonstration of how greatly Britain’s libraries are cherished by the public, and represents a dignified victory for the protestors. But with the matter still yet to be resolved, critics of the council’s decision are forlornly finding that Oscar Wilde’s adage about “knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing” may well be ringing true.”
  • Golau Golau exhibtion – Test Space, Leeds, 10th to 13th November.  “For ‘Public Interest’, Golau Glau recorded the sound of public libraries under threat of closure, many of which have since closed and therefore are extinct audio environments. The project has encompassed libraries in Leeds, North Yorkshire and Camden, to cover a spread of different library types. Many of the libraries were in deprived and socially isolated places, however some were in  affluent areas. One thing remained constant – no library was silent, and every library was unique.”.  Includes talk by Lauren Smith.  
  • Got the Booker? Sorry, we’re cutting back on books – London Evening Standard.   “Our figures show that the worst affected London borough is Hounslow where book budgets have been cut by 96 per cent for an entire year in a bid to keep all its 11 libraries open. This means libraries in the area have only £20,772 to share on new books which equates to a budget of about 200 books per library.”
“You can forget about all that stuff that’s interesting, that’s relevant and important. It makes the library completely useless. It’s like having a Marks & Spencer with no food in it. It’s exactly the wrong way to save money and shows idiotic management. It’s not a saving at all, it’s destruction.”  Tim Coates.

  • Grassroots advocacy: putting yourself out there – American Libraries (USA). “If you are trying to get petition signatures, then go where the foot traffic is, even if that is not near your library. If you are trying to bring the press out, then make sure there is some kind of hook to draw them. Are you trying to rally your supporters in the community? If so, don’t plan an event at 10 a.m. on a workday. Think about what you want in the end, then create the event to fit those goals.”. Superb article on how librarians can energise support which is highly relevant here for library campaigners.
  • “I personally have a great emotional attachment to books” – Library Campaign.  On Jeremy Hunt’s answers to the DCMS committee.  “Hunt’s performance was disappointing, but that was expected; and protestations by politicians about how much they love books are always to be treated with suspicion. What was worse was the lack of interest from the committee members. It demonstrates an anti-library consensus among the political class, whatever party label they may espouse. No wonder people are cynical about MPs.”
  • Management changes at National Library of ScotlandSTV. “The minister also announced £500,000 funding for local libraries. The money will be given to councils as grants to help improve library services across Scotland.”
 
[The lack of such simple publicity tools for UK libraries is embarrassing – Ed.]
  • Privatization showdown moves to Osceola County, Florida American Libraries (USA).   “After several months of rumors about the future of the Osceola Library System that serves Osceola County, Florida, a series of public hearings that began October 25 are seeking to explain why county officials are considering the outsourcing of library services to Germantown, Maryland–based privatization firm Library Systems and Services, Inc., and how LSSI plans to deliver the services sought. Officials seem to have an uphill battle on their hands to sway their constituents, however: The prospect of privatization has already pitted library supporters and the Florida Library Association against the county commission.”
  • Serco Museum by Peter Davies@MarDixon.   Looks at outsourcing/privatisation of museums, with occasional reference to libraries.
  • Tale of church and stateSpectator.  Following on from Philip Pullman’s “War against Stupid” speech, article looks at the (limited) help the church has given to library campaigns – “This soft support of letters and gentle encouragement is the church’s work these days; vicars, rightly or wrongly, no longer lead their flocks in anything but prayer. Parish priests in Brent and Bolton have avoided direct involvement in the local campaigns, despite the fact that many share the concerns about the effects of closures on the educational opportunities of the poor, the wellbeing of the elderly and the cohesion of a community itself.”
  • Threat to Yorkshire music libraryYorkshire Evening Post.  “The Yorkshire Libraries and Information Council (YLI) has drawn up proposals to close the music and drama collection “as it currently exists”. Based at Balne Lane Library in Wakefield, the service is supported by 12 local authorities in Yorkshire, including Leeds, and provides subsidised loans of play scripts, vocal scores and orchestral sets.” … ““In typical local government fashion, this decision has been communicated to the library’s current borrowers with extremely short notice leaving them only two weeks to send in their comments.””

Local News

  • Brent – Campaigners start their own pop-up library London Evening Standard.    “”The council say people can buy books from Asda, use the internet at home, and get everything on Kindles but many people around here can’t afford those things. It’s nothing short of a betrayal.” … “Donated books are stacked outside the 12ft-high boarding which was erected around Preston Library in Wembley hours after Brent council got the go-ahead to close it.”
    • Thousands of Brent library signatures ready for Jeremy Hunt Harrow Observer.   “12,000 names, and hundreds of letters from Brent residents are being handed over at 10am on Thursday (October 27), demanding that Mr Hunt intervenes to reverse the closure of 50 per cent of the borough’s libraries. “
    • Special Delivery for Jeremy HuntPreston Library Campaign.  “At 10 am, we will be presenting Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt with 12,000 petition signatures and hundreds of letters (400 by kids alone) demanding he fulfil his responsibility to.investigate whether Brent’s new library service is “comprehensive and efficient” (as it should be under Museums.and Libraries Act 1964).  He met the council in June, but has he heard our side? Nope. The sheer volume of complaints to him should persuade him to do so.”
  • Surrey – Volunteers could be brought in to operate librariesThis is Sussex.   “In money-saving plans put forward by Surrey County Council, libraries across the county would be run as Community Partnership Libraries. This means the facilities, including Lingfield Library, would be run by volunteers, and visitors would use self-service points.” … “But members of the Guest House Advisory Committee have attempted to make a deal with the council to retain the library’s staff.”