Comment

A few copies of the librarians’ magazine Update came through the letterbox today, with myself mentioned twice.  The first time was a three page article I wrote for the magazine on privatisation (which I hope to publish here soon) and the second was on the “Media Watching” back page where I am described as clever and as an “one man news machine and must-follow commentator”.  This follows on from Boyd Tonkin, the literary editor of the Independent, calling Public Libraries News “a really essential resource for anyone interested in the future of public libraries” a little while ago. 
Now, all of the previous paragraph comes across as boasting to me.  It’s not what I like to do but this, of course, is the root of the problem.  I’m a librarian.  We don’t boast much.  No-one else knew the Boyd Tonkin quote until now because I have told no-one (well, one other person) about the email he sent me a couple of months ago.  Libraries too often don’t tell people of the wonderful things they do and thus why we should be listened to.  Librarians, and their users, need to learn to change their ways.  Those working in libraries and those who love libraries need to start really seriously pushing all the great things libraries do to anyone who will listen and especially (hello Minister) those who will not.  So, say it loud and say it proud, libraries are brilliant and the light being hidden under their bushel is a hundred-gigawatt laserbeam of community wonderfullness that can burn you if you dare try to put it out.
The lawyers have just confirmed that the hearing to hand down the verdict of the judicial review on the closing of libraries in Gloucestershire and Somerset is scheduled for Wednesday 16th November at 10.30 am in the Royal Courts of Justice, London. In other news, please don’t miss the excoriating attack on the cuts to Birmingham Libraries by its ex head of service.
433 libraries (344 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

News

  • Anti-cuts legislation: court politics – Guardian (Editorial)Includes libraries in longer piece.  “And care is only one of several shredded services which are occupying the courts: at the end of last week, the court of appeal was considering claims that Brent council had overstepped the law in choosing to close six libraries.” … “There will be general sympathy, too, for the endangered Brent libraries, as indeed there will be for all manner of other threatened services which wind up in the courts. But in a world where a pound spent on one service is inescapably a pound not spent on another, it is worth pausing to consider the unspecified yet inevitable price paid elsewher… ”
  • Libraries face a digital future – Guardian.   Books are on the way out so libraries should embrace the digital as fast as possible, whether they like it or not.  Public libraries should move towards ebooks, “hyper-local journalism”, electronic publishing like the Future Libraries Programme says it should.
 
  • Pew Research Center unveils new initiative on libraries in digital age – Information Today (USA).  “The Pew Research Center announced plans to study how the role of public libraries is changing in the digital age and how library patrons’ needs and expectations are shifting. The new research is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with a 3-year, $1.4 million investment”.
  • Public library, completely reimaginedMindShift (USA). One fo the possibly futures for Public libraries is turning into 3D Printer “maker spaces” or “fablabs” (fabrication laboratories). 
  • Public library to reopen at last – All Africa (Namibia).  Windhoek library will reopen in January after being closed for three years. “”Things just didn’t go the way they were supposed to go” a staff member said. Cupido on Friday said that the lack of public outrage about the situation was a possible sign that Namibians “have given up on public activism”. “Nobody is upset about it. Nobody is upset about anything.” He said the lack of a public library in a society which is already struggling with literacy rates could mean the beginning of “a long goodbye to education”.”

Changes

Birmingham – Children’s mobile closed, nearly all senior and middle management made redundant, “BookStart” librarian redundant
Blackpool £1m investment plus £2m from Big Lottery Fund.
Lambeth –  West Norwood, Minet, Carnegie, Durning and South Lambeth libraries will be run in collaboration with volunteers.
West Sussex 20,000 books per year will be bought, increase in charges.

Local News

  • Birmingham – City Council’s library cuts: from world class to mediocrity –  Voices for the Library.  Open letter from John Dolan OBE, ex Head of Birmingham’s libraries to the council.  Long list of problems with the deep cuts announced to library service.  
  • Blackpool – Bucks library trend with £3m upgrade – Guardian.   “The decision by Blackpool council to plough £1m into its central library, with another £2m from the Big Lottery Fund, has been hailed as a triumph and another chapter in the seaside town’s cultural revival.” … “The Grade II-listed Carnegie library, on the edge of the town and opposite a job centre, is flooded with light and colour. Eight modern coloured glass windows are the focal point of the refurbishment, with a colour palette inspired by seaside hues of beach huts and sweets. The 100-year-old library’s rather dour former entrance has been repositioned and opened up and the bookshelves on the ground floor significantly lowered to create a sense of space.”
  • Bradford – Wrose Community Association and Wrose Parish Council will run facility – Telegraph & Argus.   “Wrose library was earmarked for closure by Bradford Council to make savings of £70,000. But now community groups have agreed to fund the running of the library, in Wrose Road, and staff it with 12 volunteers.”.  Video here. “If we didn’t volunteer, it would definitely close”. 
  • Brent – Libraries judgement expected in weeks – BookSeller.   “Lords Justices Pill, Richards and Davis said they were “going to take time for our decision”, after hearing Dinah Rose QC, representing Brent residents, claim that the council had fallen foul of the Equality Act by failing to appreciate the likely impact of its plans on the local Asian community. Rose also claimed the council was unfair to community groups who put forward proposals to save the threatened libraries.”
  • Coventry – Author Josephine Cox opens Allesley Park Library Coventry Telegraph.   “The new library opened its doors to the public in July to replace a mobile service and attracted 6,753 visitors in August, compared to just 605 to the mobile library 12 months earlier.”
  • Enfield – “No desire” for library closures, public tells Enfield Council – Enfield Independent.  “After receiving around 1,500 responses from Enfield library users, [Councillor Charalambous] he said: “What I picked up was there is no desire for there to be much change to the library service at the moment. My personal view is we shouldn’t propose any change.”… “A cut of £1.5m to the libraries budget has been pencilled in for the next four years, but Cllr Charalambous said that may be absorbed by making better use of the libraries or by passing the cuts on to other areas of the budget.”
  • Isle of Man – Bookworms celebrate opening of new library at Murray’s Road school – Isle of Man.com.   “”When I was at primary school we had a school library and it was ok but we also had a brilliant town library and it was there that I fell in love with books and telling stories.”
  • Lambeth – Community to be at the heart of Lambeth Libraries, Commission proposes – Lambeth Council.   “West Norwood, Minet, Carnegie, Durning and South Lambeth libraries will all remain open and be developed into ‘Community Libraries’, run in partnership with the local
    community who be given the power to decide how they are managed, how budgets are spent, and what services the libraries should provide.” … “The Commissioners recommend that rather than closing libraries, necessary savings will be made by remodelling staff structures, cutting waste, and introducing more self service technology.”
  • North Yorkshire – Teeside village turns to tax increase to save libraryBookSeller.   “Great Ayton library is one of eight facing possible closure, with the council deciding they will be turned over to the community to run and to fund. The proposal for a £20 tax increase in the parish precept has been made in a questionnaire going to over 2,000 households in the village, according to a local news report, with more than 80% of respondents in favour of the scheme.”
  • Suffolk – Passing the buck – BookSeller (John Pateman).  “Public library services can only be made “profitable” by significantly cutting their three main areas of expenditure: staffing, buildings and bookfund. Any reductions in these areas will inevitably lead to a lower quality of service and poorer performance. Rather than making these reductions themselves, and facing the public’s anger, councils are offloading the problem—and decision making—onto third parties. But the outcome will be the same: fewer public libraries offering a poorer service.”.  Strong parallels between privatising the NHS and privatising libraries.
  • West Sussex – Cuts planned for library service – Crawley Observer.   “Council plans to reduce by 20,000 the number of books it buys for the county’s libraries in an attempt to save £200,000.”.  ““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.”
  • Wokingham – Petition forces debate on library sell off – Get Wokingham.  “The first debate to be triggered by a public petition in the history of Wokingham Borough Council will be held this week to discuss the future of the borough’s libraries.”.  2374 sign petition against privatisation.  Council claims libraries are not being privatised – just that a private company will take them over and run them.