423 libraries (333 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

Actions

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

News

  • Could ebooks kill off  our libraries? – Metro.  Discusses Penguin’s decision not to allow lending of its ebooks. Librarians keen to provide ebooks.  Problems with publishers effectively selling their wares for free if this happens is unresolved.
  • Craze for political language – Spectator.   “In related news, libraries are a growing issue at Westminster. The Bookseller reports that the Culture, Media and Sport committee, made famous by the phonehacking saga, is to investigate library closures.”
    • MP’s to investigate library closures – Guardian.  Campaigners give mixed response.  On the one side, a worry that committee may suggest an even weaker Act to replace the 1964 one and that the committee will only really listen to the detractors of libraries.  On the other side, happy that the matter is being looked at and that library users can make their voices heard. 
    • Campaign for the Book response to the Select Committee on Libraries – Alan Gibbons.   “We believe that it is incumbent upon the DCMS, in line with its duties to superintend the public library service, to order a moratorium on library closures.”
    • Save all teh libraries lol – Wordshore.  Very readable piece on the inquiry into library closures and on the use of volunteers in libraries.  Gives twitter links for most of the Inquiry MPs and other strategies for talking to them.  
  • Downton Abbey’s creator Julian Fellowes charms locals with talk on library closuresMail. “Downton Abbey’s fruity creator, the theatrical Julian Fellowes, 62 – elevated to the peerage to the delight of tout le monde – visited Hampstead to talk about library closures. He charmed local folk by observing: ‘Libraries are very important for people who don’t have a place to think or work quietly. We must keep them open wherever we can.’ To which his brilliant Downton Abbey creation butler Carson might respond: ‘Quite so, m’lord. Will that be all?’
  • Occupy for the word – BookSeller.  “And next to this wall of noise, reminiscent of dissident fly-posting in an authoritarian state, is the OSX library.  At first glance, this tentful of bookcases and old books looks much the same as a second-hand stall at a literary festival.  Books are being widely donated to the library, and cover a broad spectrum of interest.  And I found myself thinking, not for the first time, what happens if/when all these books just . . . go away?” … “Closed public libraries and restricted digital access are two sides of two different coins, but any change that limits contact with ideas and inspiration – for everyone – fills me with concern.”
“The fact that libraries have become a central part of the Occupy… protests around the world attests to their importance in an informed society. ”

  • PA [Publisher’s Association] supports Penguin e-lending bar – BookSeller.   “Penguin UK announced this morning [24th November] that it would be withholding new e-books from UK library suppliers, saying that it supported libraries but wanted “to strike the right balance between access to our content and the protection of our authors’ copyright.”.  Librarians not happy, calling it “a bit devastating” and hopes that decision can be changed.
  • Successful challenge to library closures: lip service not enough for equality duties: Shaheen Rahman UK Human Rights Blog.  “Both councils had purported to carry out equality impact assessments but the mere fact that such an assessment had been conducted did not demonstrate that due regard had been given to the public sector equality duty.”.  1964 Act beyond powers of the court to invoke. “However, the court could only intervene where something had gone seriously wrong in the information-gathering process.  Otherwise, it was a matter for the Secretary of State to consider whether to undertake an inquiry pursuant under s.10 of the Act.”
“Despite the success of this challenge, it is questionable whether it will have much effect in stemming the tide of library closures.  The court’s observations on resources clearly leave a lot of scope for councils to move on with plans to withdraw funding for libraries, notwithstanding the impact on the local community.”

  • Why do we advocate for libraries? – WordShore.  No one knows how the remaining eight years of this decade will play out, with respect to libraries. Anyone who predicts what libraries will be like, and what information services they will offer, in 2020 is either not serious, a hopeless optimist, or getting a nice speakers fee for something with no evidence behind it.” … “I haven’t a clue. And neither do you. Might as well ride the sandworm of advocacy, and see where it takes us.”

Changes

Camden – Chalk Farm Library may be run by Primrose Hill Community Association, Belize by the Winch Community Centre and Heath Library may be run by the new Phoenix Group charity.  

Local News

  • Brent – Local children plea for library Preston Library Campaign.  School children’s letters about what the library means to them.
  • Camden – £60,000 raised in a week for Chalk Farm branch! Cash pours in for “Save Our Library” appeal – Camden New Journal.  “Donations have been coming in thick and fast in support of Primrose Hill Community Association’s bid to save Chalk Farm Library. The steering group has received “around ten” four-figure pledges as well as the £35,000 from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.”  …  “Meanwhile, Belsize Library, in Antrim Grove, could be saved by the intervention of The Winch community centre in Swiss Cottage – though no plans have yet been finalised. The Winch chief executive Paul Perkins says the plan would see the library stay open – partially paid for by offering other, unspecified services.”.  
“The Heath branch, in Keats Grove, looks likely to be run by a new charity, The Phoenix Group, formed by library users, members of the library’s Friends group and the Heath and Hampstead Society. It has been in talks with the City of London, which owns the library building … The City of London does not have funds to do this, nor sees it as its role to run a library service outside its boundaries.”

  • Doncaster – Campaigners look to judicial reviewBookSeller.  Doncaster campaigners are considering applying for judicial review over library closures, following approval by the council’s cabinet yesterday (23rd November) of plans to close two of the borough’s libraries and hand a further 12 over to communities to run.”
    • Libraries will close as pleas for re-think thrown out – Epworth Bells.   “We believe the whole closure consultation process has been flawed and whole communities will be damaged. There has been a distinct lack of transparency and it’s a scandal that everything can be done at the whim of one person.”.  Mayor Peter Davies says ““The number of active protestors on this issue have been minimal. No-one has approached me in the street and told me I’m doing a bad thing here”… to which the response is ” If only the 16,000+ people who have signed petitions against the plans had known that their views did not count as an expression of disagreement, and that they should approach the Mayor in the street instead!”
  • Gloucestershire – Continuing threat to libraries will not deter Bourton bid – Cotswold Journal.   ““Providing we are successful in turning Moore Cottage Hospital into a community hub then we will be providing a library facility that will be larger and will operate more hours. I don’t see why the library lobby will have any effect on Bourton. What we are offering was for greater services than we have already got.”
  • Kent – Council employs debt collector for library fines – BBC.  “From January, a list of the people who fail to respond to reminder letters will be passed to [USA owned] Unique Management collection agency.”.  Council has not revealed how much attempted debt recovery of £100k will cost them.
  • North Yorkshire – Blueprint for library closures – Gazette & Herald.  “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, volunteers, or by a combination of both.” 
    • Council ready to hand over its libraries – Yorkshire Post. “But it emerged earlier this month that more than a fifth of the library service’s workforce is due to be axed with 36 posts going from 177 full-time staff, while opening hours in many branches are to be cut. All North Yorkshire’s branches will be retained, with the exception of Malton and Norton libraries which will be merged into one. The 41 remaining branches will be run either by the county council’s library service, volunteers, or a combination of both.”
  • Somerset – Library service saved, but what’s the real cost? – Glastonbury People.   “Many wrote to councillors, several thousands of people signed petitions demanding a rethink. The pages of this newspaper were filled with letters decrying the decision. Then the public donated several thousand pounds to afford a legal challenge, and after a court case costing the general tax payer hundreds of thousands of pounds more, the council got the message.”
    • South Petherton Library praised – This is the West Country.   ““When I was campaigning for the South Petherton county by-election in the summer, I didn’t meet anyone who supported the closure of the library, so this ruling is the right one.”.  Cost of legal action deplored.
  • Wakefield – One-stop council shop on course for Wakefield – Wakefield Express.  “Wakefield One will provide customers with access to services ranging from benefits and tax to planning when it opens at Merchant Gate in September next year. Wakefield Museum and the Drury Lane and Balne Lane libraries will all move into the new building, which has been paid for through the selling of other council sites.” … “Balne Library will close in January 2012 with key services being moved to a temporary home in Drury Lane Library until the opening of Wakefield One.”