Comment

Keith Mitchell, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council since 1999, and well-known despiser of library campaigners, is to stand down in May.  He called the leaders of those against his plans to close libraries and then, due to widespread protests, his later plans to reduce staffing in them as “well-heeled worthies“.  A keen admirer of Margaret Thatcher, Keith is always keen to point out that more money for libraries meant less money for social care, ignoring both the massive disparity between their budgets and the important social benefits of libraries themselves.  Curiously, it says on the BBC announcement that Mr Mitchell may do some volunteering when he leaves office.  One rather doubts that he would choose libraries for this or, indeed, if any library would have him.  It is to be hoped that his successor will be less keen on replacing paid staff in 21 branches with volunteers and will avoid criticising defenders of one of the nations’ most important pillars of society.

429 libraries (340 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

House of Commons, 3rd November 2011

“JO SWINSON (East Dunbartonshire, Liberal Democrat)

My constituent Julia Donaldson is the author of many much-loved children’s books, including “The Gruffalo”, and she is also the children’s laureate. As a passionate advocate of the benefits of reading for children, she is also concerned about the possible impact of library closures. Will the Secretary of State agree to meet Julia and a group of campaigners to discuss the issue?

EDWARD VAIZEY (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)

I have met Julia in the past, and I should be delighted to meet her again. I am not sure whether she wants to meet me, but if she did I would be delighted.”

 
for all libraries.  “You will notice when you go into a library, it’s not quiet at all”. … “a computer with broadband access in your house – that is the new poverty line”.

  • Atkins: Keep our libraries out of corporate hands – Ventura County Star (USA).  City of Simi Valley trying to transfer management of libraries to LSSI before anti-privatising libraries laws comes into force in California.  “Today, sadly, many American cities are abandoning the proud tradition begun by Franklin and Jefferson in a paroxysm of radical pro-privatization ideology. They are placing public libraries in corporate hands, despite strong community backlashes against doing so.” Ex-Microsoft director.
“Paolini spent a lot of time in his local library when growing up and said it was the support of public, private and school libraries that helped launch the self-published edition of Eragon. “When the apocalypse happens, it’s going to be libraries that save civilisation,” he said, referring to public spending cuts to libraries in the UK. “They are the storehouses of knowledge and, as much as I love computers and ebook readers and all that, all it takes is a bad solar storm or an electromagnetic pulse, or something of that nature, to wipe out all of the digital records.” He said libraries were “incredibly important”, and education and libraries were “investments” in society and the future.” Bookshops gear up for the great “Independence” rush – Independent. 

  • Help save this vital musical resource – Sheffield Telegraph.   Director of Sheffield Sterndale Singers and Sheffield Chamber Choir writes letter in support of Music and Drama Service Library.  “If the service were to cease operating and the collection lost, the effects would be felt across the music and drama world.” … “National campaigns began only hours following the announcement, and hundreds of Sheffield musicians have signed a petition which was being presented yesterday to Sheffield City Council, calling on the council, through its representative, to support the deferment of any decision on the future of the service pending proper consultation with its users.”
  • His libraries, 12000 so far, change lives – New York Times (USA).   “I came here to Vietnam to see John Wood hand out his 10 millionth book at a library that his team founded in this village in the Mekong Delta — as hundreds of local children cheered and embraced the books he brought as if they were the rarest of treasures. Wood’s charity, Room to Read, has opened 12,000 of these libraries around the world, along with 1,500 schools.” Ex-Microsoft director says “In 20 years,” Wood told me, “I’d like to have 100,000 libraries, reaching 50 million kids. Our 50-year goal is to reverse the notion that any child can be told ‘you were born in the wrong place at the wrong time and so you will not get educated.’ That idea belongs on the scrapheap of human history.”
  • How to tell if they really love your library – Designing Better Libraries (USA).   Examine advanatages and pitfalls of “I Love Libraries” message and other marketing strategies.
  • Library without books is on UF “wish list” – Gainesville Sun (USA).  University of Florida.  “The study center, which would consist of ample seating and some computers but zero books, is now on the “wish list” for the university’s future, she said.” … “The experience would be one where students bring in their laptops or work on available computers to access the library’s extensive electronic collection of books, research articles, course reserves and academic journals. Millions of materials are available through the George A. Smathers Libraries website.” 


Changes

Brent – Willesden Green Library will close in 2012.  £560k annual cost of running Willesden Green will be used for events in “pop up venues”, book storage and temporary facilities.

Local News

  • Brent – Campaign update: pop-up library – Save Kensal Rise Library.  Still open seven days a week 9-5pm. Thank you to all the volunteers who have been turning up. Lovely to see you all. Thank you for the donations of books and plants and the general love that is being directed at the library.”
    • Illogical, wasteful and arrogant: Welcome to 21st Century Brent – Preston Library Campaign.   “Willesden Green Library, whose virtues were extolled ad nauseum by Ann John is to be knocked down next year.  And that is one of the saved libraries. So that’s leaves 5 libraries, none of which have enough capacity for the extra users they are supposed to now be serving. Why? Because it was (whisper it) Performing poorly. Unlike Preston. And it was supposed to be the place Kensal and Cricklewood users were to go to.”… “2 floors of the biggest library in Brent will be reduced to a tiny office space, 130 study spaces reduced to 8, books will have to be out in storage costing £9,000 a year, and they’ll have lirbary events in “pop-up” ve,ues around Brent.”
    • Long march to Kingsbury Library – Preston Library Campaign.   “Walk to Save Preston Library. Locals from children to octagenarians walked en masse to their “next nearest library” in Kingsbury  from South Kenton. With no direct public transport, the walk highlights how the new library system in miles out.” … walk took one hour, library was small.
A mother with two young sons said it just didn’t feel like her ‘local library’. At Preston she had known all the staff and felt comfortable to let her children explore the library without close supervision. She had known most of the users by sight.  Localism and feelings of safety and ease would be missing if she had to use this library.”

    • Public lies, private apologies – Preston Library Campaign.  We should be used to it. Whether it’s telling us our library was poorly located and low usage (it was neither), or that they are forced to make budget cuts, or  that we are getting a better service… its always the same. But then, as we take our Appeal to the High Court next week, there is – sadly – no law against politicians lying.”
    • Save Kensal Rise Library survey Save Kensal Rise Library.   “We plan to use the findings to demonstrate to Brent Council how local people feel, what impact the closure is having and whether we can persuade them to revisit their decision to shut the library.”.  Survey takes about five minutes, asks about library use, who is to blame for closures, desire to help out.
  • Camden – Is it a sad goodbye to our special library? – From Fun to Mum.  As of March, three small and friendly neighborhood libraries will close down, one in Hampstead Heath, one in the heart of Primrose Hill and our one, in between the two in Belsize Park. We have a big and new and state of the art one about 15 minutes walk away by Swiss Cottage tube station and that will be where I will take Little Miss G from March on. It has no charm and it is full of rules about pushchairs and what not, but this is it, that will become our new local library.” …The lovely Tania, who runs Rhyme Time, is the very reason why this Italian mum  has finally learned some English nursery rhymes ” … “ it is really only now that I feel truly part of the community, and this little library and the small park in front are the very reason for it. “
  • Dorset – County Council under fire after Dorchester library investigation – Dorset Echo.   KPMG critical over mover of library/offices to new premises.  Alternative sites not sufficiently looked at, needs of library service overlooked.  “It is costing the whole of Dorset a lot of money and, quite frankly, you could well argue that we have lost nine libraries to buy one. It’s unnecessary and thinking big without taking more time to think about the consequences.” says library campaigner.
    • Rallying cry to Dorset library campaigners – Dorchester People.   “Tim Lee, deputy chairman of the campaign group Ad Lib, is calling for people to lobby their county councillors before a vote on the libraries in Dorchester on Thursday. He also wants as many people as possible to gather at the front entrance of County Hall before 10am when the Dorset County Council meeting starts.”
  • Oxfordshire – County Council leader to stand down – BBC. “The leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Keith Mitchell, is to stand down in May, the BBC has learned. Mr Mitchell, 65, wrote to fellow members of the Conservative Party group, which he has led since 1999, informing them of his decision.”
  • Suffolk – New library plan may just add more labour – Diss Express.  ““We’re encouraged by the county council’s latest move and welcome the news that no library will close, although we’re not entirely over the moon as pretty much all it means is extra work.” says campaigner.