Archive for November, 2011

Scotland proves library usage dependent on funding

Comment

Compelling evidence has arrived today that library usage is not declining of its own accord but rather would be increasing if it were not being cut apart by budget reductions. Scottish libraries funding remained steady last year while English funding reduced by 5.1%. Scottish libraries usage – in terms of not only book issues but also in visits and in active users – slightly increased while English usage went down by 4% or so (averaging out visits, loans, issues).  It’s almost as if the UK is a scientific experiment on the impact of funding on usage, with Scotland as the control. The article showing Scottish funding is steady, incidentally, describes England’s libraries as “a service being slowly but surely torn apart”. English libraries are not naturally declining. Rather, they are being murdered.

We’ll see if its a case of library unjustifiable homicide in Brent on Friday: 

“The appeal hearing will begin tomorrow in the Court of Appeal at 10.30 am in Court 63, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London. Please try and come along for the hearing: the physical presence of those who case about cases like this makes a real difference.

The hearing will last 1 ½ days, possibly extending a little into Friday afternoon. The Appellants’ (i.e. Margaret, Steve and Nipuni’s) new QC, Dinah Rose, will open and close the case with the Council’s QC making her own submissions half way through. Dinah will argue the Council:

  • did not appreciate the likely impact of its plans to close libraries on particular groups in the community, such as Asian people, and without understanding this impact properly could not make a lawful decision compatible with its Equality Act 2010 duties to eliminate discrimination
  • did not assess need for local library services, especially that of children
  • was unfair to community groups who put forward proposals to save the threatened libraries.

We cannot say for sure when there will be a judgment, but it is likely to be forthcoming very quickly – the Court fully appreciates the importance and urgency of this case.”

John Halford, Press release from Bindmans LLP

426 libraries (337 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

  • Arts Council England launches Libraries Development Initiative – Arts Council England.  The Libraries Development Initiative will run between March 2012 and March 2013 and support around 10 projects. Each project will be awarded a maximum of £20,000, though amounts of funding allocated to each project will differ according to the scope and scale of work. Successful projects will explore how embedding arts and culture in libraries can improve people’s experiences, bring benefits to the library service and develop cultural provision in local areas. Projects will also look at new ways of working that will enhance libraries’ sustainability and relevance as vibrant hubs in their local communities.”… “Expressions of Interest should be submitted no later than 5pm on 2 December 2011.” .  Four designated bidding themes:

Part 1: new delivery models for arts and culture working together. This will look at new ways that libraries can work with arts and cultural organisations, with the aim of improving a community’s experience and its opportunities for engaging with arts and culture locally.
Part 2: coordinating partnerships to achieve national policy outcomes.  This will explore how libraries can expand their already established role in the local delivery of a wide range of national policy areas, such as through multi-disciplinary partnerships with other local authority departments, community groups, job centres and with arts and culture organisations.
Part 3: books and reading. This will explore opportunities offered by co-production projects for libraries as they respond to the challenge to ensure their books and reading offer remains engaging, relevant and exciting in a changing context.
Part 4: commercial partnerships. This will consider how libraries can respond to increasing economic challenges in an innovative way, exploring diverse funding streams and the benefits of a resilient mixed economy.

  • CIPFA Statistics show growing divide between Scotland and rest of UK Slainte.  Describes England as “a service being slowly but surely torn apart.” … Funding remained stable in Scottish libraries last year… ” the number of active borrowers who have borrowed in the last year and physical and virtual visits have all increased. “This is in stark contrast to the position which some English library services find themselves in.”
  • Do libraries give us a core service? – Minnesota Public Radio (USA).  The resounding answer from the many people in this article is “yes” apart from one who says “good” parents can afford all the books they need.
  • Fable for our times – Sintoblog.  Ladies and gentleman, it’s a shaggy dog story about privatising libraries.  Seriously.
  • Monster or saviour – CILIP Update magazine. “Ian Anstice looks at the highly controversial subject of private companies running public libraries, investigating services that have made the transition, at home and abroad.” [Article currently only available to CILIP members – and, yes, it’s me who wrote the article. Ed.].  
  • Occupy London’s library provides shelf helpGuardian.  “The improvised book-lending facility at the St Paul’s protest has held a prominent position at the demonstration from the start.”.  “”Books open up a different kind of space for discussion, a different atmosphere.” The Occupy London librarian, Nathan Cravens, is in reflective mood. The rain has stopped drumming on the tents outside St Paul’s Cathedral for a while, and passers-by pause to browse the table of books, chat for a moment and move on. “It seems that the books themselves attract people to have discussions on the issues and the solutions,” he adds.”
  • Reading to children has long impact, says OECD report – BBC. “Children whose parents frequently read with them in their first year of school are still showing the benefit when they are 15, says an international study.” 
  • Reading with child “highlight of the day for parents” – BBC.  “Some 98% of teachers questioned said they are either very or quite concerned that reading for pleasure does not take place often enough in some homes. The survey, carried out by pollsters Opinion Matters, was commissioned by the publishers Pearson and the reading charity Booktrust who sponsor the Booktime programme. This year the scheme will see 1.38 million free books given to reception-age children in England.”

Changes

Enfield –   No libraries will close (previously Ordnance Road, Enfield Highway and Bullsmoor were under threat). 20% budget cut, 17 staff face possible redundancy.
North Yorkshire – Malton and Norton libraries to merge, 36 out of 177 full time equivalent posts to be lost.
Westminster – 1000 book “Express” self-service Library opened.

Local News

  • Brent – Thursday: Day One of Appeal at the High Court, 10am The Strand – Preston Library Campaign.  Brent SOS library campaign will be at the High Court to appeal against the unnecessary closure of 50% of Brent’s libraries by the Labour-run council. 10.30 am at The Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand, London. Rally from 9.30am Nearest tube: Temple, Holborn and Charing Cross (in that order)”
“I will give an example from a local authority on which I used to sit. The London borough of Brent has decided to close half its libraries. The council put it to the public and 82% of people said that they did not like it. The answer from the council was, “We’re still going to do it.” That was the result of a consultation. The idea was overwhelmingly rejected, but the council are progressing with it. That would be a case, like my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park described, in which a referendum would undoubtedly go against what the local authority wishes to do. However, that does not change the fact that local authorities are elected to serve and to make decisions. They should do so even if those decisions are not liked by the people whom they represent.” Brent – Bob Blackman MP (Harrow East, Conservative), They Work For You.
    • Council accused of “misleading” public over libraries – Harrow Observer.   “Some 60 campaigners walked from South Kenton Tube station to their nearest Brent library, in Preston Road, on Saturday to show the distance some library users will have to walk after the closures.” … ““It was just over 2.2 miles, far longer than the 1.5 miles the council has been telling us our nearest library was and it was very difficult for someone of the older people and those with children that came with us. They have always said it was a 1.5 mile distance but having walked it, it definitely isn’t.””.  1.5 miles claim was including libraries in other authorities.
  • Enfield – Council pledges not to close libraries despite cuts – Enfield Independent.  “Cllr Charalambous said: “I wish to put on record that we value the invaluable service to the community provided by libraries and would like to see libraries better equipped and providing a 21st century service for all and it is therefore my intention to propose that unlike many other London boroughs that we retain all our libraries and that there be no library closures.””
  • Hillingdon – In my constituency, a library has been closed and a new one opened – They Work For You.  John McDonnell MP (Hayes and Harlington, Labour) questions need to sell off in such haste Hayes Library for housing.
  • North Yorkshire – Proposal to retain Libraries – Harrogate News.   “Under the proposals, North Yorkshire’s existing 42 branch libraries would be retained with the exception of Malton and Norton libraries. The proposals envisage the creation of a new branch convenient for both communities. The 41 libraries would be run either by the county council’s library service, or by volunteers from the local communities, or by a combination of both.”
  • Oxfordshire – Council joy at return of lost Iceland millions – Banbury Cake.   £5m may be returned.  ““It could go into a capital project such as a school or a road scheme, but it will not fund youth services or library services because it is one-off money.”.  Leader Keith Mitchell, suggests it would go into reserves.
  • Suffolk – Sound of rubber stamps as Suffolk adopts library planSuffolk Wordblog.  “Judy Terry, the cabinet member responsible for libraries, told us that 5% of £6m was £100,000.”… “The rubber stamp was applied to the creation of a co-operative to run libraries, rather than a slimmed down in-house service or a company wholly owned by the council on the grounds that it would save most money and would best meet the localism policy.”.  SWOT analysis showed lack of direct democratic mandate for new body.  No mention was made of Best Value Evaluation Report that said that an in-house service or a co-operative were serious contenders – Industrial and Providential Society agreed on.  Worries of secondary taxation brushed aside.
    • County Council agrees to transfer libraries to a new body – EDT.  “Yesterday’s cabinet approval will have to be endorsed by the next full meeting of the county council on December 15.”… “Abby Barker asked why the county was going ahead with the IPS option when 80pc of those who took part in a public consultation earlier this year expressed a wish for the service to be retained in-house.” – Council said such an option was “comprehensively evaluated” but IPS was chosen as best [presumably because of current tax advantages – Ed.]
  • Warwickshire – Have your say on Warwickshire Libraries’ opening hours – Coventry Telegraph. “A consultation will last four weeks from Monday. The consultation is on the future pattern of opening hours for the remaining council-run libraries after it axed 16 last month.”
  • Westminster – Express library opens in Westminster – Westminster Chronicle.  “The self-service library, based in the ground-floor reception area of the Archives Centre in St Ann’s Street, holds a small collection of around 1,000 books for adults and children.”.  Uses material and shelving from the recently closed St James’s Library.
  • Wiltshire – Additional opening session for Aldbourne Library – Aldbourne Net.   “Volunteers will be opening Aldbourne Library on Tuesday mornings from 10:00 – 12:00 starting on 29th November. There are currently 4 volunteers so anyone willing to join in and give a little extra help would be welcome. The volunteers have had their introductory training and will be “learning on the job” for the first few weeks with a member of library staff on hand for support.”


 

Volunteering as a weapon

Comment

York Gardens Library in Wandsworth was used by Radio Five Live (2h 44 to 2h 55) today as an example of a Big Society project.  It certainly proved to be a brilliant choice. It showed not only why people volunteer in libraries but the problems they face and, sadly, how they are being used by politicians.  
First, some background. York Gardens, in the most deprived ward in Wandsworth, was scheduled for closure by the Conservative council there.  Locals, after losing a campaign to keep it run by the council, made the difficult decision that it would be better to help run it than to see it closed.  The council spent £35,000 on “refurbishing” (in effect, reducing the library size and creating more rooms, giving some space to the local college as well) and gave the volunteers £5,000 of “Big Society” funding to help them out.  Two members of staff – a manager and a children’s librarian will also be retained by the council.  The good news is that the library reopened on 1st November after a few weeks of closure, still with some paid staffing but now with 12 volunteers as well, and is evidently buzzing again.
The volunteers have an uphill struggle though.  For one thing, they will need 12 to 16 volunteers to keep it going – “which on an ongoing basis is going to be quite difficult” says volunteer Thea Sherer.  She also says that not only will they be expected to staff it but will need to raise £70,000 (presumably per year) in order to keep the place open. This fundraising appears to be through room hire.  Knowing how much one can hire a room out for in a deprived area, I know that is not going to be easy.  The £5,000 from the council she describes as a “drop in the ocean”.  When asked if it’s going to be a success, volunteer Sandra Munoz-Alvorez says “hmm, we’ll have to wait and see” then Thea says “let’s come back in twelve months time and see”.  The thing is, you can hear in their voices that they realise it’s going to be a hard slog and that they are doing this because they are being forced to in order to save the library that they love, rather due to some sort of idealistic pro-Big Society passion.  I felt for them.
Councillor Jonathan Cook, though, is bouncing with optimism and energy. He thinks these clearly blackmailed volunteers are “tremendous” and it is “very exciting”.  He goes on, “it points the way perhaps to some future models for libraries working much more closely in partnership with libraries”, saying that volunteers are “providing extra capacity”.   However the radio interviews make it clear that, in York Gardens, they’re not providing “extra capacity” – they are the capacity.  Councillor Cook then goes on to say they have his “full support”.  Presumably, that is, so long as they raise 14 times more money than he is willing to fund them with.  
Then the radio article shifts to a debate between Councillor Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council and John Bird, creator of the Big Issue magazine.   John thinks that the Big Society is great because it helps get volunteers into work.  He does not see that the Big Society appears now to be pushing people out of work in order to be replaced by volunteers. Finally, we have this final exchange between Councillor Anderson and the interviewer.  It shows clearly the thinking that if a neighbourhood does not provide free labour to run its libraries then it doesn’t deserve a library.  Listen to it yourself (2h 53 to 2h 54):
Joe: … when we’re closing libraries, we shouldn’t be saying to volunteers and to the community in Liverpool that the only way we can run your library is through using volunteers.
Interviewer: Well, why not?
Joe: Quite simply because if we don’t get enough volunteers then does that mean that it closes?
Interviewer: Well yeah
Joe: Then that’s it, then that means that it’s not working and the Government is…
Interviewer: Hang on, it works if enough people volunteer
Joe: Well what if they don’t?”
Interviewer: It’s their library, you know…
Volunteering is not only becoming a political football, it is becoming a weapon pointed at communities throughout the country.  Best put your body armour on now, folks, it’s going to be a rough ride.
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

  • A vital library we should not lose – Yorkshire Post.  “…the loss to Yorkshire of the Wakefield Music and Drama Library has not been fully reported. Almost it seems by stealth, or under the smoke screen of other spending issues, the 10 local authorities who have long supported this facility, unique in Yorkshire at least, are of a mind to pull the plug completely.”
  • Has the Big Society been a big success or a big waste of time?Radio Five Live (2h 44mins to 48mins).  Covers York Gardens Library (Wandsworth).  Council closed it but volunteers reopened it on 1st November, most deprived ward in Wandsworth.  12 to 16 volunteers need if library is to kept open “which on an ongoing basis is going to be quite difficult” and need to raise £70,000 via room rental.  Library again well-used though.  £35,000 council refurbisment plus £5,000 grant “from the Big Society” described as “drop in the ocean”.  Local councillor Jonathan Cook thinks volunteering is “tremendous” and “very exciting, it points the way perhaps to some future models for libraries working much more closely in partnership with libraries … providing extra capacity through volunteering … they have our full support”.  Volunteers asked if Big Society is working in library, volunteers pause and say “Hmmmmmm, we’ll have to wait and see”, “let’s come back in twelve months time and see”.  Councillor Joe Anderson, Liverpool boss (2:53 to 2:54) says he will be closing libraries.
  • Justin Tomlinson MP needs to hear your story – We Heart Libraries.  “Do you want to share the story of what libraries have meant to you, and how they’ve been a positive influence on your life? Or maybe you just want to get your feelings about the recent cuts off your chest? Well, here’s a new opportunity to do just that…”
  • Libraries have thrived, despite technological developments – Vancouver Sun (Canada).  “Libraries are essential today, as they have been for years. The fact that we live in an information age does not mean there is no place for libraries; in fact, they are more important than ever. John McTernan’s thoughts on the future of libraries, which were printed in The Vancouver Sun on Oct. 28, have already appeared in several newspapers in the British Isles. His opinions have been roundly criticized there, for good reason. He is wrong.” … “For many people, losing their library access would mean losing a vital part of their lives. Libraries are that important.” … long, detailed defence of libraries.
  • Attack on libraries misreads public sentiment Vancouver Sun (Canada).  “If you unplugged my cable TV I probably wouldn’t notice, but close my public library and my world would turn from colour to black & white. A final comment from my sixyear-old son, who, when I told him that some people didn’t bring their children to the public library, said, “But that’s just mean!” (and he was serious).”
  • Why this working class whinger needs public librariesFrom the Shop Floor. The one response Mr Mcternan liked.

“I asked: should the whinging middle classes complain quite so much about library closures: http://tgr.ph/rcs39L The response? A whingefest.” (John Mcternan, Twitter)

  • New figures show how cuts are damaging the library service nationwideWe Heart Libraries. “‘Death by a thousand cuts’ – it’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s also exactly what’s happening to the public library service around the UK, as new usage statistics have just revealed.” … “We believe library cuts are a false economy because depriving people of access to their services will only lead to the need for costlier and more difficult interventions later on – child literacy is a perfect case in point. It is also arguable that people experiencing the kinds of problems that lead them to seek social care benefit from early access to information and advice that goes some way towards reducing the pressure on acute services.”
  • New political group to focus on literacy – National Literacy Trust.  Amazingly, Parliament did not have an All Party Parliamentary Group for Literacy until last Tuesday. Which is  why I found myself in Dining Room B of the House of Commons explaining how to speak ‘dragonese’ to a backbench MP with a couple of members of the West End show Wicked….”
  • The stock of the Scientific Library of Mainz city must not be dispersed! – Open Petition (Germany).  City of Mainz Scientific Library (670,000 books) may be broken up.  “Libraries are not just collections of books: they are treasure houses of the Spirit, a witness of the culture of a city and region. For the last two hundred years this been true for the Mainz Town Library, the successor to the Bibliotheca Universitatis Moguntina. Its historical and regional collections hold unique treasures from the Ninth Century to today”.  Petition has over 3,000 signatures. Please note article is in German.
  • What can libraries learn about customer service from the retail industry –  ALIA (Australia).  Includes an examination of all the promotional techniques that can be used including stock rotation, marketing, greeting, etc.

Local News

  • Row over Brent’s “you’re always near a library” claim – London Evening Standard.  “In defence of Brent’s decision to axe half its libraries council leader Ann John had said that – despite the closure of libraries in Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton – “every resident in Brent will still be within 1.5 miles of one of the six libraries staying open in the borough”. But council bosses were forced to backtrack after new maps showed hundreds of residents in Brent already live more than 1.5 miles from a library since the closure of Barham Park.”.  Closures will increase this figure further.  This article also reported as Row over council’s Brent libraries claim  in the BookSeller. 
  • Dorset – Top literary figures appeal to council over Dorset’s threatened libraries – Dorset Echo. “Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and Minette Walters have written to Dorset County Council asking them to save nine libraries faced with losing funding ahead of a crunch meeting this week. “.  Meeting on Thursday morning to try to overturn decision to close libraries.

“I have it from the very top of the party that if savings can be achieved without the loss of libraries, nobody will be happier than they. The fact that both Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs in Dorset support the movement to save the county’s libraries is surely a powerful argument for the truth of this.” Lord [Julian] Fellowes.

  • Fife – Trust to “protect” future of culture – Fife Today.   “The new trust will manage and operate libraries, arts, museums and archives on behalf of the council, as well as theatre provision currently provided by ON at Fife (Adam Smith Theatre, Rothes Halls, Lochgelly Centre and Carnegie Hall) and the Byre Theatre, St Andrews.”
  • Hertfordshire DIY libraries plan could spell new chapter for customers – Herts & Essex Observer.  ““To help make the most of these important public spaces, we’re offering local voluntary groups the chance to use them out of hours. “While the buildings will not be staffed during these extended hours, the county council’s customer services team will be available to provide support via telephone.
  • Northern Ireland – Fears that cuts to library hours will eventually lead to closure – Belfast Media Group.   “Carryduff councillor Geraldine Rice said she was “disappointed” by the news and urged Libraries NI to keep the current opening hours. “Three hours may not seem like very much but that’s how things begin. If the library has its hours cut and cut, it will continue to lose visitors and therefore it will become much easier to close it permanently somewhere down the line.”
  • Oxfordshire – Keith Mitchell: End of an era at county hall – Oxford Mail.  “Blunt, outspoken, and unashamedly politically incorrect, Keith Mitchell has never shied away from making enemies.”… “But as cuts started to bite and Mr Mitchell fronted plans to cease funding youth clubs and libraries, his abrasive style began to alienate sections of the public. In increasingly personal attacks, he branded authors Colin Dexter and Philip Pullman as “well known Oxford lefties” and used The Oxford Times letters page to accuse one library campaigner of showing no love for vulnerable people – despite the fact she was an NHS psychologist who counsels dying cancer patients.”.  Philip Pullman wished him “a long and happy retirement”.  [This blog wishes him the same – as long as he does not even mention libraries ever again – Ed.]
  • Suffolk – Libraries edge closer to IPS control – Diss Express.   “The running of 44 libraries in Suffolk is set to be transferred to an Industrial and Providential Society (IPS) after the move was backed unanimously by Suffolk County Council’s cabinet this afternoon.”
  • Roads and library plans approved – EDP.   “The library service is to be transferred to an Industrial and Providential Society (IPS) if the move is agreed by the next full meeting of the county council on December 15.”
  • Surrey – Dorking Library plans go on display at new venue – Get Surrey.   “The new multimedia facility will open on January 23 following the closure of the old library in Pippbrook House on New Year’s Eve.” … “Surrey County Council, which pushed through with the plans for the move despite opposition from campaigners keen to see the library remaining in Pippbrook House, said it would offer more space and benefit from technological advances.”
  • Sutton – Libraries buck the national trend Sutton Council.   “…in Sutton, there was a 4.12 per cent increase – with 1,484,976 visits to the borough’s nine libraries”.  “The figures show how highly valued our libraries are in our communities. While other authorities are closing branches, we’ve found that by locating them with other services, such as at the Life Centre, the Phoenix Centre and from the end of next year at the new Westcroft Leisure Centre, it enables them to stay open for much longer than was previously possible and attract more visitors – including many who wouldn’t use a traditional library.”
  • Warwickshire – Village libraries call for your help to open longer – Courier.  “In a round of grants for groups hoping to take over libraries, Harbury Library received only £13,000 of the £23,000 it was hoping for. Given the need for maintenance on the 150-year-old former school, parish council chairman Cllr Tim Lockley said replacing equipment and buying new furniture might not be possible.”

Court delay, Liverpool dismay, Privatised libraries here to stay?

Comment

It looks like the Brent libraries appeal will be heard, this Thursday/Friday, before the result of the Gloucestershire/Somerset legal challenge.  Reports suggest that the Brent result, whatever it is, will have no bearing on the other challenge as the judge has already made his ruling.  Campaigners from the two counties, though, must now prolong their agony for another week.

Liverpool Council has announced it may be cutting £1m per year off  its libraries each year for three consecutive years.  Closures or giving of branches to volunteers are options to be explored, with meetings going on for months to come.  Liverpool has 22 branches, with its largest – Liverpool Central – currently closed at the moment for a flagship £50m refurbishment.  Such investment in a public library, started in 2010 for two years, seems increasingly like a distant dream.

The new chair of the literacy all-party parliamentary group is the Conservative MP, Gavin Barwell.   He represents Croydon, whose council is leading the way in privatising/outsourcing its library service.  He employs the councillor in charge (Sara Bashford) of this process as a parliamentary assistant.  Mr Barwell is thus also presumably supportive of the ongoing slanging match between her council and that of Lambeth that threatens the future of the otherwise superb Upper Norwood Library.  Not a good sign for him seeing libraries as important for literacy.

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

  • Importance of literacy – Gavin Barwell MP.  “Today I was elected Chairman of the new All Party Parliamentary Group on literacy.” … “We need to give all our children not just the skills to read but a love of reading – a point powerfully made by the children’s author Cressida Cowell at our launch today.”
  • Music libraries – Guardian (Letters).  “Students and schools also rely on the music facilities which libraries provide. Choir and orchestra members constitute a great army of lifelong-learners. That this should now be undermined by the closure and mothballing of music libraries is sad indeed. The UK has a fine tradition of amateur performance. One loan benefits not just the performers, but all in their audiences.”
  • Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (Amendment) Bill 2010-11 – Parliament.  Private Member’s Bill sponsored by Alison McGovern MP (Wirral South) looks likely to have died.  “A Bill to amend the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to broaden the scope of the general duty of library authorities so as to include a duty to provide related cultural facilities alongside the library service; and for connected purposes.” 

“I can’t think of a more egregious example of government-sponsored socialism than the public library. Unproductive citizens without two nickels to rub together are given access to millions of books they could never afford to buy on their own — all paid for with the tax dollars of productive citizens. Does the government pay for people to rent tuxedos for free, sail boats for free, or play golf for free? No, it does not. So why should it pay for people to read books and surf the Internet for free?” Libraries = Socialism, NBC Chicago. [This article appears to be a serious one and not a parody – Ed.]

  • Public libraries as public goods – Solo Librarian.  “The fight to save public libraries continues. In fact, it seems to be picking up pace; a very nice website exists, some pretty big name backers in celebrity, literary and academic circles, a brilliantly enthusiastic team of volunteers and activists, and some good coverage in the media” … “The main criterion which determines whether a good/service is to be provided on the public budget by a state agency or by free market dynamics are represented by externalities, i.e. the impact on the community as a whole, as well as the economic importance of the same.The greater the positive externalities, so the theory goes, the greater the likelihood that there is a market failure and, therefore, that the good/service is entrusted to the public sector.”.  The writer is an anarchist, denies the “public good” hypothesis and decides that libraries are too important to leave to governments. [The fact that this argument completely agrees with current government policy is highly educational – Ed.]
  • Saving libraries but not librarians (Blowback) – Los Angeles Times.  “But slashed budgets need not lead to libraries suffering. Libraries should innovate, just as the New York Public Library has. Facing multimillion-dollar budget cuts, the library does not flounder, it flourishes through innovation. Its digital strategy — including e-publications, crowdsourcing projects and a user-friendly online library catalog — has increased the number of its patrons.”.  Closure of bookshops mean libraries could become browse/cafe spaces… ” It’s understandable why librarians bemoan this; nobody wants to see their profession fade into obscurity. But libraries do not serve the egos of librarians; they serve the people. And in the information age, serving the people requires evolving and innovating.”
  • What makes a really good public library?Quora (USA).  Lots of interesting answers, mainly technophile.  Some amazing pictures of very nice American libraries. [A disturbing number of answers don’t mention books, though – Ed.]

Changes

Liverpool – Some may close, others may passed to volunteers.  £1m cut each year for next three years.
Suffolk No compulsory redundancies, reduction in management layers from four to two. 

Local News

  • Brent – Library campaigners march to protest against closure of Preston Library – Harrow Times.  “campaigners took to the streets on Saturday morning to demonstrate against potential closures. The campaigners marched from South Kenton to Kingsbury Road against the closure of Preston Library. Members of the public were joined on the hour-long march by Liberal Democrat and Conservatives party councillors along with Green Party candidate Shahrar Ali.”
  • Cumbra – Future of our libraries to be decided by group – North West Evening Mail.   Report says that group members were hostile to cuts until it was explained to them that “libraries are in long-term decline and that it was necessary to explore alternative methods of service delivery in order to sustain the library service, people began to engage with our proposals for change in a more constructive fashion.” … “council leader, Councillor Eddie Martin, was pushing the idea of devolving matters to local committees”.  See rebuttal to “long-term decline” claim here
  • Gloucestershire/Somerset – High Court ruling delayed by one week – FoGL.   Hearing provisionally changed to Wednesday 16th November.  “This means that the judgement on the appeal lodged by library users in Brent against the negative decision on their JR last month will now be announced first (likely Thursday 10th/Friday 11th). We have been informed that the outcome of this appeal will not impact upon Gloucestershire as the judge in the Gloucestershire/Somerset case has already made his ruling – we are just awaiting public announcement of it.”
  • Leeds – Recruits needed to save Leeds libraryYorkshire Evening Post.  “City council bosses announced plans in May to shut 15 libraries in a move designed to save £625,000 a year. Drighlington Library, however, was spared from the axe, with a view to it being taken over by members of the community. Now a steering group called The Friends of Drighlington Community has been launched to oversee the hoped-for takeover.”
  • Liverpool – Letters – Liverpool Echo.  Childwall Fiveways Library in new building but experience upset by loud children, with no separation.  “Why should I pay for broadband at home when we pay high taxes to pay for services such as libraries, the staff in which are brilliant and very helpful.”

“A further reduction in the opening hours of libraries as well as the transfer of a number of community libraries to community or voluntary sector organisations or possible closure. These proposals will take account of the results of the recent public consultation exercise”. Libraries given lowest priority in budget review. Liverpool – Budget savings options.

  • Northern Ireland – Northwest urged to oppose plans for reduction in library hours – Belfast Telegraph.   “Plans to slash public library opening hours in the north west by 20% have provoked widespread anger” … “We are really mad about it — rural libraries need more resources, not less,” he said. Our library here offers citizens advice, welfare rights for Polish people and it is great for cross-community groups. With all this the library is a lot more than people taking books out. How can they justify cutting hours based on book figures when half the people going there are going there for the other services it provides to the community?”

Last week I was invited to speak at Save Our Libraries event in Northamptonshire, organised by a coalition of groups and individuals currently battling against the county council’s plans for the service. Having come up against tough opposition when they announced a closure plan earlier in the year Northamptonshire County Council have since revised their proposals. Cue the predictable references to libraries becoming ‘libraries plus’ or ‘hubs’, cutting paid staff and increasing the number of volunteers drastically (a 300% increase no less). Oh and in case you hadn’t already guessed, as there is no extra money, people will be asked to make donations to keep the service running. The Council report states ‘we will package our services in order to make gifting more meaningful. For example, £50 will run a homework club for a month…..£500 will buy a year of rhymetimes for babies at your local library’. ” NorthamptonshireHannah Bailey, UNISON Libraries News Round-up (email) referring to this meeting.

  • Suffolk – “Co-op” proposal could save county’s libraries – Bury Free Press.   ““There are lots of management policies in local government that don’t equate to running a business. An IPS will run it as a business.”Officials stressed that community involvement will depend on the enthusiasm of the community.”.  Despite installing a new countywide organisation and introducing volunteer-run groups in each library, the council envisages reducing library management layers from four to two.

Keith Mitchell, accuser of library campaigners, to step down in May

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. 

Good luck Glos and Somerset campaigners – 9th November

Comment

Gloucestershire and Somerset campaigners get their turn in the spotlight next Wednesday, 9th November, when the High Court announces the result of their legal challenge to the library cuts in their areas. This is the day before Brent’s which will be heard at the Court of Appeal.  Needless to say, it’s going to be a nerve-wracking few days for some of the most committed library campaigners the country has ever produced (there’s never been such a need before, has there?) and my heart goes out to them.  Such legal challenges take an awful lot of work and a terrible amount of fundraising.  One really hopes all the cases succeed, first for the campaigners themselves but secondly and most importantly of course for the communities themselves.
A preparatory meeting has been announced for planning a big march for libraries in London in February.  There are many groups who could be involved in this -few causes can have such a diverse group of supporters, from all corners of background and political belief – so one would hope for an affair to remember.  The media, I am sure, would love the image of a loud shout out for such a supposedly quiet and frail instituion.  If all goes well, I’ll be the bald chap brandishing twin datestamps trying to keep up with the hordes marching on Number Ten or the DCMS offices.  As someone said a few days ago, you know things are bad when the librarians are protesting. 

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

  • Campaigners plan London libraries march – BookSeller. “Planning for a London rally in support of libraries will get underway this month, after the idea of holding a day of national action gained favour with campaigners at the Library Campaign conference last month. The demonstration, aimed to put pressure on the government to intervene over library closures, could include a read-in at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. A march on Downing Street was another option mooted at the conference. The event is likely to take place in February, close to National Library Day, which has already been confirmed for 4th February. The Library Campaign will hold an initial planning meeting on 19th November with other involved parties, including Voices for the Library, which co-organised last month’s conference.”.  Includes quotes by Mar Dixon.

“Everyone in education, media and culture should support the call for a national demonstration in support of our libraries. Against an unremitting background of assaults on public and school libraries and School Library Services this can be a rallying point to expose the neglect the service has suffered from many years and a spur to resistance to retrograde and unjustified cuts.  In a decade the UK has fallen from seventh to twenty fifth in the international reading rankings (PISA). The thought that our government could preside over the demise of 600 libraries when we are already in something of a crisis is crazy. South Korea is top of those tables and it is building 180 new libraries. We should be expanding not contracting our library provision.” Alan Gibbons on the London Libraries March.

  • Elderly people isolated by technological change – Telegraph.  WRVS: “A charity report found that older people have trouble getting information about public services, such as details of libraries and public transport, because so much of it is kept online.” …”The closure of community centres, libraries and Post Offices was also causing “anxiety and worry”.”
  • Saving libraries but not librarians – Los Angeles Times (USA).  Google and internet has mabe librarians defunct in all but specialist roles.  Libraries should innovate in other fields but lose their overqualified and overpaid library staff.
  • Talks under way to save UK’s biggest music and drama lending library – Guardian.  2400 communications (inc. 200 on paper) received in support of the library.  Moves under way to look at how to save the service. Decision to close delayed for around a month while alternatives are sought.
  • Uncharted territory – Oisin McGann (Eire).   “On the 10th of October, Phil Hogan, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, announced that the Library Council (An Chomhairle Leabharlanna) was being dissolved. Bad as this news was for the council, it was a far worse omen for the future of the nation’s libraries. Particularly given the burnt-earth policy that is causing libraries to close all over the UK.”.  Excellent article, two quotes from which are below…

“It would be a mistake to label any public library as a mere lender of books, or even one that has expanded to music, films, games and other products. It is more than a drop-in centre for people looking for information on education and training, local services, or for free use of a computer. A library, for me, first and foremost, is one of the few branches of the public service that not only supports everyday life, but enriches it.”

“Think about that for a minute: a publicly-funded, well-resourced place, complete with expert advisors, where a person has room and time to sit and think. A place where you can better yourself, but at your own pace. A place to sit and work out ideas; where someone might study for college, or plan a project, or start a business.”

  • WeHo librarian fired: over interview?WeHo News (USA).  West Hollywood library assistant (otherwise known as Standup Librarian) sacked after being interviewed despite having asked permission first.
  • Whatever happened to the Big Society?Regen and Renewal.  “Big Society” political agenda well and truly trashed by delegates at Manchester Locality Convention.  Civil Servant says public sector cuts are not that big (!) and most voluntary groups don’t need money anyway (!!).  Uproar ensues. Good intentions of government undermined by scope and speed of cuts, fear that volunteers will naturally be more available in more prosperous areas.

“The Big Society is simply a bid to replace paid labour with unpaid labour because the government has decided it can’t afford, because of its deficit reduction programme, to pay public servants to deliver crucial services. I warn you, things will get worse for society – because of this government’s choice.” Anne Coote, head of social policy, New Economics Foundation.

  • You and Yours – Radio Four.  “Why online retailer Amazon has decided to expand its business into publishing..and can US online film specialist Netflix compete with well-established streaming services when it enters the UK market next year?” Includes contribution from Phil Bradley about libraries/ebooks.

Changes
Local News
  • Brent – Lies, damn lies and library transformationPreston Library Campaign.The information about the 1.5 mile distance that residents would need to travel to a library was provided by the Library Service. An assumption was wrongly made that this meant one of the council’s remaining libraries rather than a library in the vicinity.I’m sorry for the error and have pointed it out to the communications team so that the mistake is not repeated.”.
  • Calderdale – “We’d want more details of libary” – Halifax Courier.  Worry that proposed new library would not be as suitable or in as good a location as existing building that developers want to knock down.
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Little sign of progress in library stalemate This is Croydon Today.  New ways of saving Upper Norwood Library from closure are likely to be presented to Lambeth councillors by their Croydon counterparts.”.  Meanwhile, Croydon and Lambeth councillors trade insults while future of one of the successful and efficient libraries in the country lies in balance.
    • Lambeth accuses Croydon of acting “unlawfully” over joint library deal – Streatham Guardian.  “in a four page letter to Croydon Council, Lambeth leader Councillor Steve Reed accused Croydon Conservative leader Mike Fisher of “incompetence” and “deception”.He said: “Lambeth has pointed out a catalogue of incompetence, deception and errors in the way Croydon have made this decision that, in our opinion, makes it unlawful.”
  • Doncaster – Not so Neet Save Doncaster Libraries.   Nearly one quarter of Doncaster 19-24 year olds are not in education, employment or training.  Thereford, “A co-ordinated strategy is crucial and must include areas of the council and external bodies who support education, employment and training. They must work in partnership to alleviate the social problems associated with high Neet levels. Libraries must play a central role; they help people employment, access education as children and adults, and make a significant contribution to careers information, advice and guidance for employability – Doncaster council simply cannot afford to ignore this any longer.”
    • Eleventh Hour – Save Doncaster Libraries.   Scan of Doncaster Free Press article on temporary delay in closure of Carcroft and Denaby libraries.
  • Hartlepool Library set to close – Peterlee Mail.  “Unprecedented cuts in Government grant is resulting in some very tough decisions for the council and regrettably we will not be in a position to fund West View Library beyond December 2011”.  Building to be given to community (non-library) group.
  • Highland – Second-hand book vans to save on mobile library funds – BBC.   “Agreements on four library vehicles leased by Highland Council will end at the end of this financial year. Officers have suggested replacing two of the vehicles with second-hand ones which would be bought for a total cost of £177,000 and last for 10 years.”
  • Huddersfield – Library most popular in Yorkshire – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.   “…those who use the library in Huddersfield know well that it bats above its weight in terms of service. The staff are helpful and ever creative in thinking of new ways in which to use the building and to get the most out of its resources. The doors have opened to all manner of groups, the library pursues partnerships successfully with many other agencies, puts on a well-attended programme of events and reaches out to other organisations in the town.” … “”Surveys like this one from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy show that the figures can add up and that our libraries are well-loved, well-used and meeting changing needs. Long may it continue”
  • Merton – Petition against popular closure of Donald Hope Library – Peitionbuzz.com.  “We, the under-signed, are petitioning Merton Council against the possible closure of Donald Hope Library in Colliers Wood for the following reasons…” 
  • Northamptonshire – Author’s support for Northamptonshire’s libraries – Northamptonshire Chronicle.  Anne Fine – “In front of an audience of 70 people, Mrs Fine talked about how libraries in Northampton had inspired her to become a writer.”… “If one message came out of the meeting it was that libraries were not simply buildings. Instead they served as interactive environments (between users and staff) that nurtured a respect for learning and personal development, and therefore constituted a social good that should be adequately funded and supported by local authorities and not face the threat of cuts.”
  • Northern Ireland – Cut to library hours must be reconsidered – Belfast Telegraph.  “Surely, given that Whitehead library only re-opened last October after an expenditure of around £300,000, it should be granted protected status? It is now an attractive, well-stocked library, with helpful friendly staff, and it is the cultural focal point of the town. At a time when children are reading less, good libraries are essential. For the sake of the children, Libraries NI must reconsider their plans to downgrade this library so drastically.”

“Sonia Francis-Mills, the Chair of the Friends of York Gardens Library, thanked those who had been involved in setting up the new structure for running the library which means that it is still open, when otherwise it would have closed earlier in the year. But she also noted the continued disappointment that it was this particular library, of the 11 neighbourhood libraries across Wandsworth, that had been marked out for treatment in this way and that there are still major challenges ahead in ensuring that the library can remain open, especially recruiting volunteers, raising awareness and generating enough income to cover the shortfall left by cuts to the council’s budget.” Wandsworth – York Gardens Library reopenedSave York Gardens.  

  • West Sussex – Cuts planned at home library service for the elderly – Argus.   “A fresh round of cuts will “devastate” a library service, according to opposition councillors.” … “Liberal Democrat councillor Bob Smytherman said: “Cutting the mobile service to residential care homes is an appalling idea. “We should be extending the mobile service, not cutting it.”.  Volunteers may deliver books instead.  
  • Worcestershire – Meeting on Pershore Library plans will keep residents in the picture – Evesham Journal.   “people have been invited to attend a meeting to keep up the fight for the library to stay in the town centre.The meeting, organised jointly by the county council and the town council, takes place at the Town Hall on Wednesday, November 23, from 7pm.”

Amazon launches a really bad public library

Comment

Amazon have launched a highly limited ebook lending service in the USA.  You have to pay for it (it’s part of a $79 p.a. package plus cost of Kindle in the first place), can only lend one book at a time (although loan period is unlimited) and none of the biggest six American publishers are supporting it.  Yet, such is the power of Amazon (“Soon To Have A Monopoly On Books Near You”) that libraries are worried.  However, at the moment, they should not be. Amazon is to be feared for many reasons, but not for starting to do something which libraries do so much better.

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

  • Amazon launches Kindle lending library for USBookSeller.  “Russ Grandinetti, vice-president of Kindle Content, said the move into book lending had followed its recent offer of Prime Instant Video, which offers film and television to Prime members. He said: “We’re excited to expand that investment to books—with this launch, we expect three immediate results: Kindle owners will read even more, publisher revenues will grow, and authors will see larger royalty checks.”.  Comments make clear that none of the “Big Six” US publishers have signed up as yet.
    • Amazon starts lending books but Head of ALA says libraries still offer best value – Digital Shift (USA).  “The Amazon collection, to start, is small at about 5000 titles, and access is limited to those who both own a Kindle device and also subscribe to the Amazon Prime fast shipping and video streaming service, which costs $79 a year.” … “A user can borrow one book a month, with no due date, and any notes or highlights are saved even after the book is returned in case the book is later re-borrowed or purchased. When a new book is borrowed, the previously borrowed title disappears from the device.”
  • Axeing region’s vital music library will only create discord – Yorkshire Post.   Long letter showing how terrible the closure of specialist library would be.  “It has helped launch the careers of thousands of professional musicians during their preparatory years of learning and exploration. We cannot allow this national resource to be stopped because it is not considered cost effective to be moved to the new library facility planned for YLI.”
  • Espresso Print-on-Demand book machines making inroads at public librariesDigital Shift (USA).  “Patrons will be able to print books on demand for a fee—in the range of about $8 to $12 for a 200-page book. The EBM’s database, EspressNet, currently includes some four million public-domain titles—including many from Google Books—as well as 2.8 million in-copyright works from publishers, with more on the way. (SPL licenses the database at a cost of $25,000.)”.  However, machines cost $151k each.
  • Libray usage: worse to come unless councils change course – Voices for the Library.  “These figures are particularly significant as in the previous years library issues had remained stable.  In fact, both 2008/9 and 2009/10 saw higher book issues than in 2007/8.  So, after two years of stabilisation (if not slight growth), why has there been a sudden drop in book issues now? The answer is, of course, obvious. Since the 2009/10 figures were reported, there has been a steady and determined assault on our public libraries.”
    • Library usage falls as branches closeGuardian.   “”The great scandal is that opening hours are being slashed to ribbons,” said library campaigner and twice Carnegie-shortlisted author Alan Gibbons. “If communities don’t know when a library is open how can adults and kids use them? When councillors reduce opening hours they are starting a self-fulfilling spiral of decline. The main responsibility for this is the dismal failure of leadership at the DCMS.”.  Article largely follows Alan Gibbons while, strangely, giving prominence to the relatively small number of libraries closed.
    • Library campaigners: CIPFA stats “will get worse” – BookSeller.   ““These figures are really for the period before the major cuts started. We have a very serious situation. People within the profession are totally demoralised.” However, he added: “It doesn’t have to be like this. The sector desperately lacks leadership. We need advocacy. Several successful authorities have been bucking the trend – it can be done.”
    • UK library visits fall by 7.5 million – BBC. Summarises the more depressing aspects of the CIPFA figures, also mentions Brent.  “Meanwhile, figures from Nielsen BookScan data suggest that sales of printed books in October fell 7% from the same month last year.”

“No brownie points for the DCMS however. The government is running down the service at an alarming rate. It is using the spurious cover of ‘localism’ to drive what is in reality a centralist agenda. Cut funding, refuse to intervene to implement the 1964 Libraries Act then throw up your hands and whine that it is your local council that is responsible. Politically quite clever in a Machiavellian kind of way and morally indefensible. The British public deserves better. You get what you pay for” Alan Gibbons

  • Should we close our libraries?AM1150 (Canada).   “So far this year 428 libraries have been closed or are facing closure in the U-K but here in B-C it’s a different story. While we haven’t shut any libraries down the debate rages on whether libraries and books are still being used, or whether it’s moved to the digital age.” … “There has been no move by the Canadian government to show they are planning on shutting libraries, but the closures in the U-K but be an indication of things to come.”
  • There is no frigate like a book and no harbour like a library – Sara Paretsky (USA).   Urges people in Chicago to help save their library service.  “Libraries in every jurisdiction in this country and in the UK are under similar threat.  If you live outside Chicago, the American Library Association can help you find out your library’s status, and how to take action to protect it.”

Changes

Bedford £229k investment in self-service, computers and study areas.  
Bradford – Addingham Library volunteer-run since 1/1/11.  Denholme and Wrose will be volunteer-run by end of month.
Calderdale Central Library may be replaced by entirely new building in regeneration plan.
Fife – Libraries/theatres/archives/arts/museums to be turned into a Trust. £639k expected to be saved per year due to tax avoidance.
Islington –  £565k investment Self-service to be installed in all branches to save £250k per year via losing staff.
Stockton – £1.29m spend on Central Library: now reopened with council “one stop shop”, self-service, technology suites.

Local News

  • Bedford – Borough council library modernisation programme – About My Area.  £229k for self-service, Central Library will have more study space and computers.  ” “Many local authorities have been forced to make library closures, but despite severe budget constraints we are investing in our library service and have not closed any of our libraries. Bedford Central Library will close for a temporary period only, and we hope that future visitors will enter its doors in anticipation to see the new look library, which will be even easier to use. The library will continue to offer a wonderful place to enjoy a book or to work and study.”
  • Bradford – New chapter as volunteers take over at Addingham library – Ilkley Gazette.  Addingham Library became volunteer run on Tuesday 1st November.  “The library is now open for more than twice the hours it was under Bradford Council management, and has around 40 volunteers. Addingham was one of five libraries earmarked earlier this year for closure under Bradford Council cutbacks.”.  Hours “doubled” from 6.5 to 13 hours per week. 40 volunteers involved.
  • Brent – Private Eye comments on Brent crisis – Private Eye (via Alan Gibbons).  Notes inaction by Government ministers.  “As well as starting to empty and board up the libraries, which remain closed until the appeal next month, Brent cancelled many of the events of “Word Up”, a borough-wide literary festival taking place in those libraries around Children’s Book Week. These events included making heritage collages, treasure hunts and a talk entitled “Yes you can!” For many people in Brent who want to use a public library, the answer is now: “No, you cant!”
  • Calderdale – Council’s plan for multi-million pound transformation of centre – Yorkshire Post. “the council wants to create a new central library and archive next to the Square Spire and linking into the historic Piece Hall – itself the subject of a £16m redevelopment if Lottery funds allow.” … paid for by selling other council buildings.  Old library will be demolished.  ““While local authorities across the land are struggling to keep their libraries and archives open, Calderdale is about to embark on an exciting development which will see a completely new and purpose-built library and archive. ” 
  • Cornwall – “Burn bible” display withdrawn – Pirate FM. Bodmin library display showing books that should be burnt (chosen by customers) showed Mein Kampf but also the Bible.  Local christians complained and library withdrew display.  [Freedom of speech and impartiality fo libraries both do not come out well in this article – Ed.]
  • Fife – A culture of Trust – Fife Today.   “The new trust will manage and operate libraries, arts, museums and archives on behalf of the Council, as well as theatre provision in the Kingdom, for ON at Fife (Adam Smith Theatre, Rothes Halls, Lochgelly Centre and Carnegie Hall) and The Byre Theatre. It will be the fourth trust to be set up in the Kingdom, joining those for Sports and Leisure, Golf, and Coast and Coutryside.”
  • Gloucestershire – New hope for Moreton library – Tewkesbury Admag.   Hours slashed earlier this year.  Hoped that opening building to other groups would extend.  ““The county council is investigating the possibility of the library premises being shared with other bodies. They could open Moreton library up to the original hours.””
  • Hertfordshire – Libraries to be loaned out of hours – Comet.   “Herts County Council (HCC) is proposing to offer library buildings to groups out-of-hours, and is now in a position to start looking into pilot schemes, although a spokesman said the council did not yet know where these would be.”.  Worries over this ensuring recently savagely cut (by one-third) opening hours stay in place despite previous assurances that they would rise again when times improve, confusion about when libraries are open, concerns over security.
  • Islington – Self-service could make Islington libraries like supermarkets – Islington Gazette. “Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said: “The next thing we know, libraries will be run by Tesco. It will be much more impersonal and soulless. Our libraries have always prided themselves on the personal touch and that’s what residents like and expect.”.  Council says ” “We are keeping all 10 libraries open and spending the same on books. If things get better, we have retained all our libraries and would be able to increase opening hours again.”
  • Stockton – Services in one place as Stockton Library reopens – Gazette Live.  £1.9m refurbishment, with council services on first floor (meaning four council desks elsewhere close), more self-service.  “There is a specialist technology suite for blind and visually impaired people, another suite is dedicated to local and family history and a multi-media conference facility caters for up to 100 people.”
  • Suffolk – Libraries to need begging bowl to stay open – Tendance Coatesy.   “The Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), is a complicated means of community involvement. Why do we need a “middle-man?” Why does the County want to put a company in the middle, between the electorate and its elected Councillors? The County Council seems to be suggesting that this is better than the system we have at the moment. Is it suggesting that elected County Councillors don’t actually engage properly with their communities?”
    • Society to take over libraries – Newmarket Weekly News.   “The society would hold charitable status but be funded by a council grant.”.  Councillor says “We are not abandoning the idea of community groups becoming involved in the running of their libraries – we have found that many would actually welcome that.”

You get what you pay for – 2011 CIPFA Statistics

If a library buys less books then people take out less books.  If a library does not have enough money to properly maintain itself, people don’t come in. That appears to be what is happening this year, according to the 2011 CIPFA Public Library Statistics.  Some things are striking.  Very few libraries have been closed  but the figures show that the service has been “hollowed out” in other ways.  Almost one in twenty staff have gone for a start, replaced in part one suspects by the large increase in volunteers.  A ray of hope is that children’s usage has actually gone up despite cuts in funding.  This is probably due to the wonderful Summer Reading Challenge and BookStart initiatives, showing the importance of promoting library services. We don’t know, also, what impact Ebooks have had as those figures have not been gathered long enough to be released.  That sector will doubtless show big increases in future years, although it is highly doubtful whether it has in a significant way replaced the decline in the borrowing of printed books this year.
It’s sobering to think that these figures don’t show the full impact of the first year of the cuts.  They show the first half of the year when councils were still coming to grips with what to do.  There is a lot more pain to come.  A lot more downward arrows.  Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt are presumably hoping that those arrows will not end up pointing at them.
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

  • Campaign for the Book newsletter – Alan Gibbons.  Discusses Brent “Where libraries have been temporarily reprieved, we can expect local authorities to return to the matter and hand them over to volunteers. If there isn’t the community support (which may well be the case in deprived areas) councils will try to close them next year.”.  Surveys other issues such as Glos/Somerset court case and the failure of the DCMS to intervene.  Advocates further campaigning – “..pickets, protests, Read ins, demonstrations, even occupations. Trade unions may well have to consider coordinated industrial action..”

“Children’s fiction was the bright spot with a modest growth in overall book stock and lending. Overall visits were down from 322.1 million to 314.5 million. What is amazing is that, in a climate where there is a relentless attack on libraries, the institution has not suffered worse.”

  • CILIP Gothic Wordshore (USA).  Describes challenges for CILIP and for public libraries generally. Useful to read for background on the difficulties facing the librarians’ professional body.

#CILIP president @Philbradley due to be interviewed about ebook lending on #BBC radio 4 you and yours this Fri. Approx 12.30, give or take  (Twitter)

  • Culture Secretary under pressure over library closures Xmedia.  Summarises legal actions and other protests.
  • Describing and measuring the value of public libraries: The growth of the Internet and the evolution of library value – First Monday. “n the current economic climate, public libraries find themselves in the position of defending and justifying their funding and continued existence to their stakeholders….” Detailed academic report.
  • Hard choices: do libraries really destroy books? – NPR (USA).  Examines issues around disposal of older/less desirable books in libraries.
  • How one library system was transformed on a tight budgetGuardian (Public leaders network).  “Anythink Libraries in Denver, Colarado, have quadrupled circulation and visitor numbers in seven years by connecting with users and raising its own levy”.  Previously poor and low-funded – floor space now tripled.  “Two key models of inspiration for this reinvention are London’s Idea Stores and the Apple store. All Anythink’s new libraries are designed for comfort, intuitive browsing and self-service. This allows staff to focus on hospitality, gracious service and creating connections with people, information and programmes.”  Increased ebook/digital provision. 110 full-time equivalent staff over seven branches.
  • Library is everywhereInfo Today.  Key themes from Internet Librarian International 2011 Conference.
  • Orchestras and bands join the fight for Yorkshire’s amazing music and drama library – Guardian (Northerners Blog). “The Yorkshire Libraries and Information council is meeting on Thursday, 3 November, under intense pressure to reconsider its plan to close or disperse the biggest lending collection of music scores and play scripts in the UK.”
  • Privatizing public libraries is a bad idea Outlook (USA).   “One of the most attractive components of public libraries is the notion that everyone, from any social and economic strata, has equal and unrestricted access to books, periodicals, movies and online resources.”.  In response to libertarian thinktank proposal to charge users for libraries.
  • Rise in library volunteers as staff numbers fall – Public Finance.   “The institute’s annual library use survey shows that the total number of volunteers in UK public libraries rose by 22.3% to 21,462 people between 2009/10 and 2010/11. Over the same period, the number of full-time equivalent library staff dropped by 4.3% to 23,681.” … “ CIPFA said:Norwich’s achievement proves that modern libraries are still popular community institutions, offering services and support beyond book lending. The increase in volunteers also shows how libraries continue to be seen as much valued hubs for their communities.’”
    • Rise in the number of pre-school children taking part in library activities – Nursery World.  “According to the Children’s Public Library Users Survey, which is based on data from 1,203 libraries across 63 local authorities, more than one third of children visited a library for an under-fives’ event between April 2010 and March 2011, an increase from 28  per cent in 2007/08.” … “‘These statistics provide some fascinating findings, particularly the differences between libraries in deprived areas where children are more likely to be older and visit on their own, compared to more affluent areas where children visiting libraries are generally younger and more likely to be read to by their parents. It is also interesting to note the trend suggesting an increase from 2007 in library activities beyond borrowing books.’”
  • Further falls in library use as book stock still suffers – BookSeller.  Summarises changes in CIPFA figures.
    • Library volunteering on the riseI-Volunteer.   “Library visitor numbers have also increased with at least five libararies – including Birmingham, newcastle and Croydon – receiving more than a million visitors each. The most popular library in the country was in Norwich which received almost one and a half million visitors.”
  • UK’s biggest music and drama lending library faces closure in Wakefield – Guardian.   “Expert librarians whose skill has been treasured for decades by choirs, dramatic societies and researchers face the loss of a centralised system in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, which makes loans from an unrivalled lending collection of 500,000 music scores and 90,000 playscripts. “It is extraordinary what they can produce. I’ve had someone on the phone today who had tried all over the place for an obscure piece of music by Parry and they came up with the goods,” said Robin Osterley, chief executive of Making Music, the national federation of music societies. “The rule among choirs all over the country is try your local library first, then Wakefield. It will be devastating if that ceases to be the case.”

Changes

West Sussex – £650,000 cut over three years: via self-service, less staff, volunteers in smaller branches, £200k cut in bookfund, more donated books, stopping staffed visits to elderly peoples’ homes.

Local News

  • Brent – Appeal for Brent Libraries to be heard next week in High CourtHarrow Times.  Concerning disputed closure of six libraries.  “Two weeks ago, Lord Justice Elias said the process to hear the case in the Court of Appeal should be fast-tracked and the case will now be at the Court of Appeal on November 10 and 11.”
    • Walk to save Preston LibraryPreston Library Campaign.  “Show Jeremy Hunt why Brent’s 21st Century library service is miles out!! We’re going to walk to our nearest library this Saturday 5 November. Join us and show the politicians just how close Kingsbury library really is. Everyone welcome – dress as your favourite book or character!”
  • Croydon – Library is one of UK’s most popular – Croydon Guardian.   “Croydon’s central library is the UK’s third most popular library. New figures show that Croydon had 1,168,160 visitors in 2010-11, up from 1,036,872 in 2009-10.” 
  • Doncaster – Two Doncaster libraries given temporary reprieve – BookSeller.   Comment: “Things have come to a pretty pass when a measly extra week is described as a “reprieve”. United with the city’s campaigners and library users, we hold our collective breath to see what Doncaster does next.”
  • Dudley – Outrage at bid to shift library – Dudley News.  “Dudley Council wants to shift the [Netherton] library, currently based at Netherton Arts Centre, to the nearby Savoy Centre – a business centre run by Black Country Housing and Dudley Council. Netherton Arts Centre may close.

“If a library closes in the Forest of Dean does @edvaizey make a sound?” Gloucestershire (Twitter)

  • Liverpool – Central Library redevelopment reaches halfway stageLiverpool Echo.  ““The library is one of the most celebrated public libraries in the UK and its regeneration will not only restore the building’s beautiful historic elements but will also create a 21st century facility for all library users.” Many pictures.
  • Wandsworth – Library reopens after facelift – Wandsworth Council.  York Gardens Library saved from closure by protests and volunteers is reopened – with no mention of the protests or volunteers in the Wandsworth press release. “The changes, which were drawn up following extensive public consultation, mean that the library now boasts additional community spaces. Two extra rooms are now available for hire by local groups and organisations, brining [sic] the total number of rooms for hire to five.” [One of the most shocking whitewashes of a press release I have seen – Ed.]
  • West Sussex – Burgess Hill library could get self-serviceMid-Sussex Times.   ““Originally we were working with just the smaller libraries to find alternative ways of delivering the service, but now it is clear the savings should be found from across the whole libraries network,” … “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. We are still looking at the details of how things will work, but we have avoided any change to the opening hours.”

Be careful…

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
  • Arts Council England launches strategic funding and 2011-15 plan Arts Council England.   Details of £440m of investment, including for libraries.  35 page document.  “will extend to our new responsibilities for museums and libraries as we look to understand how these important areas can become central to the Arts Council’s work. We see this uniting of the cultural sector as an unprecedented opportunity”. Looking at collaborations between arts/museums/libraries etc. Confirms that ex MLA staff have largely taken over new ACE posts – “37 of 53 new or transferred roles being filled by staff from the MLA“.
  • Chinese public libraries see record number of patronsXinhua (China).  “China’s 2,880 libraries received about 330 million visits in 2010, according to a document released by the Ministry of Culture on Wednesday at an annual meeting on public library projects in the city of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou province. China’s public libraries contain about 140,000 computers and 80,000 digital reading rooms, nearly triple the number in 2005, according to the document.”
  • Conference notes, Reading for Pleasure – bringing the classics to life, 20 October – Guardian.   “Links between school groups and public libraries was discussed as being extremely important.”

In line with the Local Government Association’s (LGA’s) Taking the Lead approach to sector-led improvement, which the Government support, Arts Council England (ACE) and the LGA have no intention of imposing performance targets on local authorities… ACE will launch the libraries development initiative next month with the aim of building on the Future Libraries programme.Ed Vaizey answers his shadow Dan Jarvis, House of Commons 31st October

  • Library card is a barrier to library use – Librarian 1.5 (Scandinavia).  “hy do we insist that library members log into library websites with library card number and a pin-code? Why not let them have the option to log in with their Facebook  credentials, OpenID, Google- or Twitter login? I see this option at more and more sites and would like to have this possibility available for my library members as well.” Cards are (a) only used for one thing and (b) only have the library card number on and (c) can be lost.
  • Newly hired librarian completely unaware that books existInsert Eyeroll (USA).  Spoof article ““Well, this is completely inefficient. I checked Amazon, and most of these books are available online. We’ll get rid of these things and people can download them on their tablets. We’ll partner with Amazon or something.” When asked about library holdings that weren’t available online, she considered her options. For a moment, Olivo looked troubled. “If they weren’t online, it’s probably because … they weren’t very good?” She brightens immediately. “Yeah, let’s burn this shit.” “That’s the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that this library needs,” said Excelsior CEO and President John Foster. “Ms. Olivo has a future in information management.”
  • UK library cuts proceeding apace – World Socialist Web Site.  “In spite of protests all over the country, library closures and cutbacks are proceeding as planned.”.  Accurate survey of cuts [has the author been using Public Lbiraries News? – Ed.].  Critical of union involvement so far … “The role of the unions has been to issue token statements of support for those opposing library closures while ensuring that no effective action is taken.”
  • Wales’ libraries fortnight News Wales.   “Many libraries in Wales will be taking part in the Libraries Fortnight, which is happening from 1-14 November. The Libraries Fortnight comprises a programme of free events for all the family in libraries and communities across Wales. The theme linking all the events is the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme, which inspires creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people.”
  • YLI campaign support – Making Music.   “Since emailing our 3,000 members on Friday 28 October, we have received over 1,050 emails and letters in support for this campaign, copying communications which have been sent direct to the YLI Council. A staggering response! But not a surprising one, given the far-reaching implications of this situation.”.  Music and Drama library serving Yorkshire is likely to close.

“I have just heard the news of the closure of the Yorkshire Library Music and Drama Service. This is an unthinkable act of cultural vandalism which, if implemented will affect many thousands of people nation-wide. All those of us involved in working with amateur musicians in the UK know the immense value of our library services. The inter-library loan scheme is the bedrock of choirs’ and orchestras’ ability to perform music at a cost which makes it possible. To lose this – or a major part of it, which the Yorkshire Music and Drama Library is – would be to deny many people the opportunity of singing and playing great classical music in a world which is already seeing the Arts squeezed to the point of extinction in some cases”

Changes

Local News
 Buckinghamshire – Farnham Common Community Library handover “I know that older people use it and kids read books like mad so saving a library is such an important thing to do” Johnny Ball.
  • Camden – Plan to create Romantic poets centre to save Hampstead library – Ham & High.  Heath Library may be taken over by Heath & Hampstead Society if agreed by the City of London Corporation who own the building.  ““We want to create a literary and literacy centre based around the core elements of Keats and the Romantic poets.”
  • Doncaster – Reprieve for Doncaster’s closure-threatened libraries – BBC.   Carcroft and Denaby Libraries, due to close, will stay open until 10th November after Labour group raises objection.  Decision to close will be go to overview and scrutiny committee.
  • Kent – Big Society fails to take off in Kent – Kent Online.   “Kent County Council has yet to spend a single penny of a £5 million ‘Big Society’ fund it has set aside to help volunteer groups to take over council-run services.”
    • After his victory, what next for council chief? – This is Kent.   “Mr Carter was forced to backtrack over his plans to close libraries but is now trying to encourage community groups to run small branches which don’t get much use. He said: “There won’t be any closures until we have explored all the options, including community ownership.”
  • Northern Ireland – Fighting for library hoursLurgan Mail.   “Last month the ‘Mail revealed plans to cut hours at Lurgan Library from 53 and a half to 40. Since then the proposal has been roundly criticised by politicians and library users alike.”
  • Oxfordshire – Bid to stop linking library and care cuts – This is Oxfordshire.   ” County Council will today debate whether library cuts should be linked to reductions being made to social care.” … Council Leader had linked the two issues.  “At the council’s budget in February, it was announced £37m would be saved by cutting social care and £2m by closing libraries.”
  • Portsmouth – The way we use our libraries is changing – News.  “Across the country, library visits and book issues have tumbled – almost to the level of collapse.” … library services manager says “‘Visits are down and the number of books taken out has dropped to less than one per person, per visit. Most people aren’t coming in to borrow books.’” – ebooks, use of archives and other reference facilities mean the same number of people are using libraries but in different ways.  Also includes council and cancer information points.  Hampshire librarian says same thing – deep budget cuts and visitor numbers down.  ” ‘Lending figures have fallen, but people come for information, to use the computers and to meet with friends. It’s vital to us to make sure they can continue to do that, with at least one library open near to every Hampshire resident.’
  • Reading – Return to lender, libraries missing 2500 books – Get Reading.   “Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request showed at the start of the month borrowers from Reading Borough Council libraries had 2,418 overdue books – which could be worth more than £14,000 if they reach their maximum fines.” … “Council spokeswoman Sarah Bishton said: “The majority of these overdue books will be returned to Reading libraries and most were overdue by only a couple of days so there is only really a small impact on other users.”
  • Suffolk – Reassurances sought over Suffolk County Council library organisation – EDP.  Eye Library campaigner unsure if new Industrial and Provident Society will pay for staffing.  Also worried that money already promised by Suffolk Council to help the transfer to volunteers may be lost.

“Under the new regime which is about to come in, the libraries would avoid paying business rates, but now that money would reduce the pot in their own local council, which, they will suddenly see when they read the bill, is not a good idea at all. None of these things are actual savings- they are just accounting niceties within the realms of government.” Tim Coates

“Thanks to all who came to support reopening of YGLibrary this evening. Great evening and wonderful to see so many people using the library!” Wandsworth – Save York Gardens Library (Twitter).