422 libraries (332 buildings and 90 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 are 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.

Actions

  • Write about your views on public libraries to the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport.  Email cmsev@parliament.uk with “library closures” in subject line. Emails stand more chance of being effective if they give your views on (1) “what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st Century”, (2) to what extent library closures are compatible with the law and the Charteris Report, (3) the impact closures have on communities and (4) the effectiveness of the secretary of state’s powers of interviention.  Deadline: 12th January 2012. NB full details on how to submit your views are here.  More guidance on giving written and verbal evidence is here. 
  • Please sign the national petition in support of public libraries.
  • Email Justin Tomlinson MP for Swindon about your concerns.  He is the chair of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for libraries to be launched in December.

News

  • Be thankful for your local library – BookRiot.  ” I hope. Despite my frustration about not having a bookstore, I can’t complain when I’m reminded that my local libraries are always an option.”
  • Consider the library -  “Consider The Library is a simple Chrome Plug In that gently reminds those browsing for books on websites like Amazon or Waterstones that their local library* often has a copy of the book available on their shelves.”
  • Could ebooks kill off our libraries? - Metro. The online link to story covered yesterday.
  • Library control still an open bookSimi Valley Acorn (USA).  LSSI may take over system causing wide protest.  “Residents worry: Will employees lose their jobs or see a loss in benefits and wages? Will the collections be depleted without access to the county’s interlibrary loan system? Will programs like adult literacy tutoring cease to exist?” 
  • MPs probe threat to libraries - London Evening Standard.   “Tory member Louise Mensch, a best-selling novelist under the name Louise Bagshawe, said: “Reading is so fundamental to education that it is right to look at how cuts are affecting provision and what the service should look like in the modern age.”
  • Occupy London Library spreads its wings - Guardian.  The library at Finsbury Square is little more than a couple of shelves and a sofa in a tent, while around the corner at the Bank of Ideas there’s a fair amount of shelving, though not much in the way of actual books. But according to the Bank’s poet in residence – or maybe that should be “poet in occupation” – Pete the Temp, these are early days.”
  • Open letter to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education - Campaign for the Book (Alan Gibbons).    “In your peroration, you praise Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, but where will future Ritas find that pathway to literature, art and philosophy if the school and public libraries are closed and the book-gifting schemes are starved of funds?”
  • When libraries forget their missionRoger Pearse.   Article is (a) disgusted that there are sessions for preschool children in libraries, that (b) a book ordered from central store is not sent [ultra-expensively] via Royal Mail but is sent by a van instead, that (c) the library does not charge for full cost (£15) for British Library requests, that (d) budget cuts have led to a lack of staff and thus delay, (e) that “a woman” is assumed to be in charge.  From this, writer decides that libraries should all be closed down as they are failing in their mission to supply him with books on “Mithras: the secret god”.  [The user is actually pro library and understands their place in supplying books to those who cannot afford them: but comes to the conclusion that because libraries are underfunded and inefficient that they should be closed down rather than the more obvious one that they should be sufficiently funded and more efficient - Ed.]

Changes

Local News

  • Cumbria – This could be a new chapter for libraries - Times and Star.  The key was for communities to show that libraries in this day and age can be about so much more than book lending; that there was a social aspect beyond the dwindling numbers of books being borrowed. So we witnessed school pupils staging a protest march to save Distington village library, public meetings in Seaton and Moorclose, petitions and letters being fired off to the Prime Minister. The communities spoke with a single voice, explaining how their local libraries were vital social hubs.”
  • Isle of Wight – Protesters cheered by court ruling over library closures - IWCP.   “Dave Quigley, from the Friends of the Isle of Wight Library Service, said the latest ruling gave fresh hope to campaigners. He added the group was looking at joining forces with mainland groups to try to reverse closures. He said: “There are moves on a national basis to get the government into court for a judicial review.”  In a separate move, Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport scrutiny committee is to hold an inquiry into library closures. The cross-party committee will have the power to call local authorities to give evidence. Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for libraries Cllr Barry Abraham said the challenges against the mainland councils were against their procedures, which were done correctly on the Island.”
  • Kent – Set for library shake-up – BookSeller.  “While details of the shake-up are as yet unclear, cabinet member with responsibility for libraries Mike Hill said the council’s proposal “balances the need to modernise services, work with communities to find innovative and efficient ways to maintain a local library service and meet our statutory responsibilities while delivering further revenue savings.”
    • Desperate villagers try to cling on to library - This is Kent.   “The prospect of losing their library has left people living in Borough Green distraught…ane Alberine, 39, of Western Road, said: “I would be devastated if it closed. I go there for books and DVDs and my daughter sometimes does her homework there. I run a beginners’ drawing group and we display our work in the library, so we would have nowhere to exhibit the work.”.  Fear also that local shops would lose trade.
  • Kirklees – Volunteers asked to take over seven Kirkless Council libraries to help avoid axe: find out which are affected here and have your say –  Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  “Clr Pandor added that volunteer-run libraries would offer self-service books and public access computers as a minimum. The change would allow the seven libraries to have different opening times.”
    • Clear plan needed on Kirklees libraries - Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  Council unclear on if staff will be cut and how services will be delivered with the key skills of library staff. Unclear also how effecitiveness of volunteers will be monitored.  “Libraries have long helped people broaden their horizons, brush up their skills and acquire new ones. In essence, our libraries offer a key support network where people can realise their potential and if they chose, become more connected to their community. Little wonder then that as libraries continue to have such a key role in our towns and villages, there is concern that changes are looming.”
  • Northumberland – Changes planned to Northumberland mobile libraries in bid to save £50,000 – Journal Live.   “Although the fleet of vans is being cut from four to three, a new vehicle has recently been bought, which council bosses believe will make the service more reliable and less prone to breakdowns.”
  • Wiltshire – Council launches new website to help people get online - Chippenham People.  Council thinks people who have difficulty getting online will look online for help.  Comment below article points out libraries may be a more sensible place, although they have been cut in the county.
    • Keeping libraries open at a cost - Alan Gibbons.  Response from Wiltshire Libraries to details taken from the tally page of Public Libraries News.  “It is true that the changes have meant a reduction in the number of staff, and in opening hours, but all libraries are still open and all mobile libraries are still on the road. This was our main objective – and something our lead members considered important.”
  • Wokingham – Council to review libraries decision - Get Wokingham.  “Following debate, Wokingham Borough Council approved a recommendation to review its decision to outsource control of the borough’s libraries after a competitive tender process, to take account of public feeling.”.  First ever council debate forced by petition (2300 names).  Council denies giving council to a private company is privatisation and says it would retain right to increase charges.  Also denies that expected 10% cut in libraries budget (plus profit for the private company concerned) would result in any staff losing their jobs and accuse petition’s backers (Lib Dems) of scaremongering.
  • Worcestershire – Pershore residents support library plan - Evesham Journal.  Public protests led to town and county council working together to keep library in current location and to refurbish it.  ” More than 100 residents turned out to hear how both authorities have been working together in recent months to develop the idea which could also see a full refurbishment of the current building”