Comment

News has filtered out about yesterday’s Appeal over the closures of half of Brent’s libraries.  Disappointingly, the judgement in the case could take a month or so.  The articles linked give a good view of what went on.  It appears that given the previous judgement’s view that a decision over breaking the 1964 Act can only be made by the Secretary of State, the barrister had concentrated instead on the closures insufficiently taking into account equalities legislation.  The main points of appeal were:

    • Asians indirectly disciminated against.  Ealing Road library now overcrowded due to closures.
    • Less than expected feedback to consultation from Asians.
    • Equalities Impact Assessment done at last moment. Long report but entirely based on the presumption of no indrect discrimination so avoided issue of Asian use.
  • Brent – Council discriminated against Asians when it closed six libraries, court hears – Brent and Kilburn Times.  “twenty eight per cent of Brent’s borough is Asian, but 46 per cent of active borrowers at its libraries are Asian. The reasons why Asians were particularly heavy users of libraries were never considered or investigated,” she said. Ms Dinah Rose presented two maps before the three judges, Lord Justice Pill, Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Davies, which were printed off the council’s own website.”

Brent appeal concluded yesterday afternoon; the judges said they would “take their time” to consider it before giving their decision. Likely to be a few – but only few – weeks. (Twitter)

  • I spy … an update on the Appeal – Preston Library Campaign.  “We have a new barrister – Dinah Rose – and she was very impressive.  She opened the case yesterday with the complicated indirect discrimination point – but she explained it so well that I think all 50 or so supporters – (the court was packed and folding chairs had to be brought it!) may now be able to explain it to someone else.” … “In fact the Asian community have been disproportionately affected because a new witness statement showed that Ealing Road library is now overcrowded, with children (mostly Asian) sitting on the floor to do their homework and great pressure on the computers.”
“Brent conceded that it wasn’t considered at all, but argued that giving no regard to it could nevertheless amount to “due regard” under the legislation.

    433 libraries (344 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

    • Awaiting a library revolution – Business Standard (India).  “Not having created physical, brick-and-mortar libraries, we might leapfrog to the next stage anyway. Given the country’s relative ease with new technologies, the high levels of mobile penetration and the market for devices like the iPad and the Galaxy Tab, that also work as e-readers, expect digital libraries to start changing the way Indians read and think about books.”
    • Librarian’s words are binding – Los Angeles Times (USA).  “A New Orleans librarian says that even in the Internet age, libraries perform a vital service to society.” … “I even got married in a library. And it’s no fun watching the profession and the institution take hits these days, with libraries shut or scaled back and in some cases privatized. Meanwhile, I’m struck by the number of people who see no tragedy in this and think society no longer has much use for libraries.” … “More than 1 million Californians visited a library on a single day in October 2010,”
    • Perkins Good Library Blog.  Tim Coates, well known library consultant and ex chief of Waterstones, appears (article is written entirely about a cat) to be announcing he is moving to the USA.  “The Good Library Guide Blog is very proud to announce that Perkins has a new job. She is to be the library cat of a famous and prestigious library in California.”  

     

      “A massive national campaign has begun to save one of the UK’s best music and drama collection of manuscripts. Based in Wakefield, the Yorkshire Libraries and Information (YLI) Music and Drama service is set to close March next year. The protest is led by Making Music an organisation that supports voluntary & amateur music groups in the country.”
      • Will your town’s library soon be privatized? – Blog for Iowa (USA).  “In many towns libraries are the hub for the elderly and the local school kids and for other groups. They often add that ambiance that makes a town more attractive to new citizens and a reason that old citizens do not move. Yet when faced with budget crises ambiance is at the bottom of the totem pole when looking at reasons to save a service.” 

      Changes

      CamdenCampaign groups: Friends of Chalk Farm Library (Facebook).
      Southampton – Council aims to privatise/outsource all services including libraries by 2015.  

      Local News

      • Calderdale – Library cuts under scrutiny – Brighouse Echo.  “Around 2,000 people have had their say over plans to reduce Calderdale library services. During a consultation period, people across Calderdale had the chance to come up with suggestions for saving money in libraries. The full results will be published later this month.”
      • Camden – Dame Joan Bakewell speaks out on “myths” about library users as she joins the fight for Chalk Farm Library – Camden New Journal.  “The 80-year-old journalist and television presenter said: “It is a myth that middle-class people don’t use the library – it is just not true. We love libraries and people in this community love this library in this building.”.  Campaigners “are setting up a small library management group that plans to take on a 20-year lease of the building from Camden at a “peppercorn” rent.  Plans for the new library include IT facilities with wifi access and training space for small exhibitions and talks by authors and a drop-in centre with coffee and newspapers.”
        • Chalk Farm Library UpdatePrimrose Hill Community Association.  Cost to run library independently would be around £75,000 per year.  Group aims to raise £1.2 million and live off the interest. “Over the next four weeks, volunteers from our team will be knocking on all doors in Primrose Hill. The campaign leaflet offers more information and we’ll be asking if you could pledge a contribution – small or large. If between us we raise enough promises by the end of November, the Community Association will enter into negotiations with Camden. If we can’t, the project dies.” 
      • Croydon/Lambeth – Croydon offer three options for future of Upper Norwood Joint Library – Croydon Guardian.  Article describes background then fails to describe what the three options may be, although none include partnership but two (only two) ensure library stays open.
      • Hertfordshire – Shhhh! Silence over Hertford Library asking price – Mercury.   A council spokesman told the Mercury that the authority was not prepared to release the value of the library so as not to prejudice the views of the market because it has a duty to get the best price.” … New Hertford Library due to officially open in January. … “Julie Goodwin, who owns health shop Natural Health in Old Cross, said: “A lot of people come to this side of town for the library, so there’s going to be less footfall when it goes as there will be less reason to come.””
      • North Yorkshire – Great Ayton villagers in favour of tax to save their library – Gazette Live.  “More than 2,000 households in Great Ayton received a questionnaire in July proposing an increase in the Parish Precept of £20 on an average Band D property as a way to save the village library. The results have shown 85-90% of residents who returned the survey agree to the increase.” … “After a long fight the Save Great Ayton Library Group (SGALG) believes that now, the only way the facility could be saved is by an increase in the parish precept.”
      • South Ayrshire – Council library service achieves worldwide first – Ayrshire Scotland Business News.  “The e-book, ‘The Record of the Ayrshire Militia 1802-1883’, is now available for sale on Amazon, making South Ayrshire’s local history information accessible to a global audience for generations to come.”
      • Southampton – Council cuts: the frenetic dash towards privatisation – Guardian.  “The ultimate aim of all this heady ambition, says the report, is to turn the authority into a “commissioning council” by 2015. This means the council will outsource the provision of all its services to the private and voluntary sector. The remaining rump of the council will draw up, issue and monitor service contracts and provide political and strategic oversight.”
      • Suffolk – Library stocks up on “human” books – Suffolk Free Press.   “The facility in Head Lane was visited by five different experts last month, during a “human library” event. Around 120 pupils from Great Cornard Upper School were given advice about safety and well-being, including alcohol awareness, sexual health and drugs.”
      • Sunderland – Read all about it! Sunderland kids love libraries – Sunderland Echo.   “The survey into the reading habits of children in Sunderland, conducted by the Northern Children’s Book Festival, NCBF, found libraries and books remain as popular as ever. It revealed 98 per cent of children in the city use their school library to borrow books and 60 per cent of the youngsters use their local library outside of school on a regular basis.”
      • Surrey – Woking town centre revamp moves to next stage – Get Surrey.   “Hoardings are set to be installed around the closed Woking Library as the latest stage of the town centre renovation work begins.” … “It is anticipated that the refurbished Woking Library and the Peacocks Centre’s restaurant will be open to the public by next spring, with negotiations at an advanced stage with a “popular national restaurant operator” to fill the space.”
      • West Sussex – Libraries in West Sussex will stay open but with less stock – This is Sussex.  “”We are looking to reduce paid staff in smaller libraries and work with communities to find volunteers to offer support. For customers, this is more realistic than expecting libraries to be run wholly by volunteers, which communities told us they didn’t like.”
      “Efforts should be made to protect libraries – they are an extremely important educational and social tool. If the county council is having to make savings then it should look at itself first of all.”