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.

Somerset/Glos 

  • Campaigners urge councils to rethink closure plans – BookSeller.  Doncaster, Bolton and Isle of Wight groups are all hopeful ruling will assist their case to keep libraries open.
  • Council given “bloody nose” over library ruling – This is Glos.   Council claims nine out of ten libraries were on verge of being given to volunteers, with the perhaps surprising implication that the locals wanted to have to run their libraries and will be disappointed by the legal decision.  Cost of defeat to council was £100,000.  Brockworth Community Trust leader thinks volunteers could have improved on councils service but Brockworth Parish Council leader disagrees.
  • Court’s library decision gives campaigners hope – Bolton News.  “Council chief executive Sean Harriss said: “We keep in touch with the High Court rulings and our view is there is nothing in the latest rulings that change our confidence that our approach to libraries has been robust, appropriate and in line with all the relevant legislation.”
“In February this year the Liberal Democrat group challenged the legality of the library closure programme in Gloucestershire at the Overview & Scrutiny Management Committee. We expressed concern about the fairness of the new library network based on geography rather than where people lived and where there was most need. Antonia Noble and Mark Hawthorne dismissed our concerns in a cavalier fashion, and their “yes men & women” on the Scrutiny Committee voted as told. The Chairman of the committee Rob Garnham refused to allow me to present statistical information proving the unfairness of the Libraries closure plan. Now Judge Martin McKenna has ruled against the county council, heads must roll and our libraries must be kept open.” GCC Opposition Leader: “Heads must roll” over unlawful library plans – FoGL.  

  • GCC still don’t get it! – FoGL.   “We hoped that the judgement could mark a fresh start, but Cllr. Hawthorne’s worrying statements question whether he can be trusted with the future of any of our public services. Nonetheless, FoGL wish to extend the olive branch, and invite Cllr. Hawthorne to attend an extraordinary meeting with library users (details to be announced shortly), where we hope a constructive dialogue can begin.”
  • Gloucestershire Libraries: Mark Hawthorne and FoGL – This is Glos. Hawthorne: big cuts need to be made to protect social care, took equalities very seriously so loss was “big society”, it’s disappointing for local communities that they will not be forced to take over the running of otherwise closing libraries.  Has not fully decided what Council will do but “whatever we do, we will do with a completely open mind once again”.  FoGL says Council is ignoring real meaning of ruling “He claims GCC were ‘tripped up on a technicality’, which Public Interest Lawyers say ‘ignores both the letter and spirit of the ruling’.”
“We understand the council faces a tough financial climate. But such savage cuts to a well-used and cheap service was never the answer – particularly as the service has already absorbed significant cuts, and was one of the most poorly funded library services in the country.” FoGL

  • LGA spokesperson dismisses High Court ruling as ‘a technicality’ on national television – retraction requested by FoGL – FoGL.  It’s not a technicality, it’s a substantive error of law.  Judge also said councils guilty of “bad government”.  “He also did not rule that the Act did not give the Secretary of State the power to intervene, but he deferred the decision to the secretary of state.” … “It may have been wise for you to get legal advice on your interpretation of what happened”.  [This regards slot on BBC One Breakfast at c.7.45am]
  • Guest post from Revd Dr Keith Hebdon: One battle won but the struggle goes on – FoGL.  “And the people who have suffered under the ongoing uncertainty are many. Librarians who no longer feel valued and experience or fear job loss. Library users have been badly let down. And local community groups who have worked hard to save the libraries in one form or another while trying to maintain hard-won trust among one another.” … “‘Saving’ a library is not the same as shifting responsibility for the library onto the voluntary sector.” … “Our libraries are no less under threat than they were before the judge ruled in favour of the campaign. Sadly Antonia Noble has been quietly asset stripping our library service – books have been sold off for a pound while stocks have not been replenished; redundancies have been encouraged without new appointments.”

 Watchet Library and many others are savedCelebrations at Watchet West Somerset on 17 November 2011. The BBC broadcast their coverage the same evening in the local news programme which lasted 54 seconds! Hopefully a longer version will be on BBC1 on Sunday 20 November in the Politics Show. See the whole interview and event here!” [If in hurry, watch from around 9 minutes on] 

News

  • Death of the public library? Why yours might be next to close – Huffington Post (USA).  “Libraries are essential public goods. Like our public parks and museums, libraries are free, non-commercial gathering places for everyone, regardless of income. Yet our nation’s public libraries appear to be under threat. This page is dedicated to understanding why this is the case, and following what people on all sides are doing about it. Read more here.
    • Why it’s time to speak up for our libraries – Huffington Post.   “In a new Huffington Post series called Libraries In Crisis, we’ll be looking at how today’s libraries are about more than books. We’ll show how they can be a community resource where reliable information and guidance is provided, free of bias and commercial influence. This occasional series will look at the economic reasons for the current situation, and its consequences throughout the country. It will showcase models for library evolution, and hear from prominent voices about what makes a viable and vital library system. 
    • Library budget cuts threaten community services across the country – Huffington Post.   Sign says “Free coffee, internet, notary, phone, smiles, restrooms and ideas” to all who enter.”. Excellent in-depth article on the situation in the USA and the factors affecting their funding problems. 
“Libraries are being closed to save money, but there doesn’t seem to be much thought given to those who can’t afford to buy books, or that several major towns don’t have much in the way of a decent bookshop. No, we live in a world where the internet is sexy and the local library isn’t, so the answer to all our prayers is online. “
  • Future of libraries and bookstores lies in their own past – Big Think.  “So who is left to suggest the latest hidden gem to us? Librarians and booksellers. And I don’t mean those half-time employees at the counter who work there to pay the bills but the person who chose this profession by conviction. Today, you would probably call them geeks.”
“I believe that the experience tied to the physical space and the people who meet there is much stronger that we think. To give another example: just because there are supermarkets does not mean that farmer’s market died. Sure, they had a hard time during the transition period but today they are coming back strong. Therefore, there is no doubt that in the coming years we will see a tough time for libraries and bookstores but in the end there is going to be a renaissance.”

  • Public Library Journal – CILIP / Public Libraries Group.  Ever-increasing funding problems have, unfortunately, had a significant impact on PLG’s ability to finance the production of the journal: it is no longer something which the group can afford to sustain.  This decision was reached with great reluctance and after much consideration was given to alternatives.  We would like to thank the editorial board for their dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm: without them, PLJ would not have been the success it was.”
  • Rethinking libraries: How do we ensure that the essential core of libraries remain intact? – Information World Review.  Technology is the key to maintaining relevant.  USA ahead of UK in providing e-books.
  • Terence Blacker: Dangerous weapons that are … books – Independent.  “Destroying a community’s access to books is a blow against independence of thought”.  New York police destroy Occupy Wall Street’s library was a reminder about how important books are. “Who would have thought that in 2011 it would be necessary to point out that, in a divided, alienated society, where standards of literacy are scandalously low and escape from poverty and hopelessness is more difficult than ever, books are more than just another public service?” … “Whether in a tent or a council building, libraries offer a vital alternative to the status quo. Perhaps that is why government, councils and the police are so oddly relaxed about their destruction.”
“The Libraries minister, Ed Vaizey, was full of warm words and promises while in opposition but has been utterly indifferent in office, seemingly invisible whenever decisions are needed.”
  • Will public libraries be the downfall of David Cameron? – Good Library Blog.   “This morning 3 national papers have stories about libraries and 5 out of the 12 top industry stories in The Bookseller are about libraries.  There can hardly be a clearer and more obvious manifestation of the incompetence of Government than its handling of the simple straightforward matter of public libraries. Yet if one were to endeavour to trip over a daisy in the garden one could hardly be more spectacularly idiotic and useless than Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey.”

Local News

  • Brent – Tina turns to libraries – Information World Review.  Tina = “There is no alternative”.  Brent council did not pretend they wanted to keep the libraries open: they wanted them closed and moved instantly to close them as soon as the courts agreed they could.  Boarding up noted by other councils as a way to stifle protest.  Anger of users in Brent likely to spread nationally. “s it a case of there is no alternative (Tina) to the programme of closures? Brent claimed that the money to maintain the service wasn’t there but political point scoring over ‘Tory cuts’ may have taken precedence over any serious consideration of other options. By contrast the nearby borough of Hillingdon is halfway through a six-year programme of refurbishing its 17 libraries and claims those upgraded have seen user numbers rise by 50%.”
    • Campaigners hope for decision on libraries before Christmas – Harrow Times.   Disco dance to be held to raise money for campaigners.  Hopeful Glos/Somerset decision will help them.
    • Brent “Will go to Supreme Court to shut libraries” – London Evening Standard.   Lib Dem opposition claims.  “Paul Lorber, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, claimed the council was “determined” to defend the decision to close half the borough’s libraries. Brent has spent about £160,000 on legal costs and a further £285,000 on making staff from the six closed libraries redundant.”
  • Hampshire – County council rethink on library closures – Hampshire Chronicle.   “But just five weeks into a three-month consultation, library bosses have acknowledged proposed cuts might cause problems in Alresford, Eastleigh, Totton, Whitchurch and Leigh Park, but say the total number of hours will still be reduced by eight per cent.”
  • Kent – Libraries: “We’ve got away with closing them before” – Infoism.  “This morning, Kent County Council discussed their recent library report (see B3) which gives a vague indication of what lies ahead for the service.  Paul Francis, the KM Group Political Editor, was there and tweeted live from the meeting.  Much of what was tweeted was highly alarming and should be cause for concern for the residents of Kent, not least because their views on the future of the service appear to be secondary to that of the councillors.”.  Head of Kent Libraries keen on “trying out” volunteer run libraries and increasing self-service, “We could be challenged and are prepared to be challenged” she says.
“We’ve closed libraries before without an outcry says Cllr Jean Law”

  • Kirklees – Why libraries must stay at the heart of our community – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.   Beautiful letter about impact libraries can have on children joining them. Then goes on to modern experiences.  Send to a councillor near you.
  • Lambeth – Public to have say over library’s future – South London Press. Durning Library would need £750k to make safe, nearly £3m to bring up to modern standards.  Council consulting on decision to move branch.  “Liberal Democrat councillor for Prince’s ward, Peter Truesdale, warned: “Any attempts to move it from Kennington Cross will go down like a cup of old sick.” [Now there’s a delightful phrase – Ed.]
  • North Yorkshire – Councillor against new move on library – Mercury series.  Green Party councillor for the Hertford Ward Nick Harvey has urged for a re-think after the decision, which would likely see the library squashed into the community centre. Cllr Harvey believes those plans would be unworkable. He is so incensed by the decision he has now hired a double decker bus to take residents to a consultation meeting over plans to stop funding local libraries.”
  • Surrey – Protesters to make some noise over plans – Get Surrey.  “Sophie Roger, treasurer of the [Hersham] Friends, explained that the library had been refurbished last year and was doing well. She said the facility had been under threat a number of times during the past 15 years. “This is a plot to shut down libraries, it is not about handing power over to the communities,” she said. “We just have to make a big noise.“I have worked with the librarians in Hersham, it is a difficult job. It requires a lot of knowledge and experience. “Suggesting that they can be casually replaced by volunteers is an insult.” … “The protest march will start at 3.30pm at four points in the village – Bell Farm School, Burhill School, Cardinal Newman School and the scout hut in Burwood Close – and end at the library at 4pm. The theme of the march is Samba Carnival atmosphere and people are encouraged to take along whistles, drums, bells, trumpets and placards.”
  • Waltham Forest – Public meeting to establish community library – Guardian series.   South Chingford Library and Harrow Green Library to close on 2nd December.  Volunteers aim for new library at Chingford Mount instead.  “Around 150 residents have already expressed an interest in volunteering but Cllr Hemsted said more were needed” [! – Ed.].  Volunteers not allowed to use ex-stock.