Comment
 
No news from the Brent Appeal yet, although there is a superb composite photograph of the full length of the boarded up wall around one of the libraries.  Why is this interesting?  Well, it’s covered with comments about how important the library is.  For anyone who think libraries are not important to a community – sit down and have a look.
Elsewhere, it’s been pretty bad news.  Birmingham have confirmed a 28% cut in funding over two years – that’s some serious “hollowing out” going on there.  There are also unconfirmed reports that seven libraries in Kirklees are threatened.  It’s confirmed two libraries will close in Walthamstow as early as December if volunteers don’t run them instead and North Yorkshire is seeing a general major reduction in opening hours, with one library needing to be entirely volunteer run.  
And then … news from other parts of the UK again shows that it need not be like this.  Wales reports a slight increase in visits and a big increase of over 8% in active users over the last year.  The difference is that Wales invests in its libraries and has standards that it uses to names and shame authorities that are failing in them.  Makes me proud to be Welsh … but ashamed by what is happening in my adopted English homeland. 
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.
 
Things you can do today

 

News

  • At the CILIP 2012 hustingsWordShore.  “Looking around, we peaked at 10 people in the physical audience, about the same number as last year. “.  Online video has been watched by 150.
  • Cutting funding to libraries equals a decline in usage – Infoism.  “Local authorities have a choice: invest in libraries and encourage them to grow and prosper to benefit future generations?  Or hasten their decline and dismantle a service that so many people rely on?  At this moment in time they have chosen the latter, but it is not yet too late to buck the trend.”
    Florida Library Makes 34,000 Ebooks Available at International AirportDigital Shift (USA).  Local library provides free downloads of older free titles – only 30 per month though.  ““People think about books when they think of the library, but they haven’t really made the connection between the library and ebooks yet. This raises their awareness,”” [Not by much – Ed.]
  • In depth: LibScan charts – BookSeller.   CIPFA figures analysed.  “Spending on books, in particular, was down across the board.”, concentrates on authors being borrowed.
  • New research shows libraries in Africa are “essential” – All Africa.  Six-country study examined use and public perceptions of libraries in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe; most see libraries primarily for educational purposes but recognize potential for much more
  • Romanian libraries in forefront of e-Government – IREX (Romania).  “This year, 400 public libraries in Romania helped 17,000 farmers successfully receive farm subsidies of over $54,000 per library.”
  • Welsh libraries are top performers – News Wales.   “In 2010-11, the total number of visits to libraries increased slightly by 0.9% from 14,717,000 to 14,850,000, the only one of the home nations to show an increase, reflecting the ongoing partnership between the Welsh Government and local authorities in investing in modernising public libraries. The number of borrowers who actively use their library increased in Wales by 8.3%, from 681,000 to 737,000, once again the only nation to register an increase.”


Changes

Birmingham £2.3m cut by 2013/14 (from £8.5m this year). 28% cut. Not closing libraries, but 155 staff fte cut from 182 fte, increasing income, considering volunteers, more self-service.

Local News

  • BrentLibrary closures: council “shirked duties” – BBC.  “Ms Rose said they would be querying “whether Brent breached its duty under the Equality Act by failing to give any regard at all to the risk that its policy and the implementation of its policy would discriminate indirectly against Asians, Hindus and Muslims”.”
    • Day one of the appeal – Preston Library Campaign.   “The public gallery  of Court 63 was crowded with Brent library campaigners today as the first day of the Appeal was being heard.  The Appellant’s QC made it clear that the library campaigners’ case was based on the process that Brent Council followed in its consultation and decision to close the libraries, rather than whether it was right to close libraries as such.” … “A further argument was that the Equalities Impact Assessment, as required by legislation, had been done at the last minute, and after the decisions about closure had already been made for all practical purposes.”
    • Residents fight library closuresIndependent.   Brief (two paragraph) summary.
 
  • Dorset – Fight for libraries to continue as funding is cut – Dorset Echo.   “A highly-charged Dorset County Council meeting saw councillors vote for a second time to take away core funding from nine of the county’s 34 libraries.”.  First time revote had been forced in this way for 20 years.  Councillors voted rigidly on party lines, with Conservatives voting for refusing funding.  Tory Cabinet member says ““I think this gives villagers a great opportunity.” [Seriously, this is what she said – Ed.]. Lib Dems point out over £200k already spent in withdrawing support to nine libraries.  Campaigners not happy they will be able to run branches themselves.  “Campaigners said they would be arranging a meeting with Dorset MPs and taking the decision to the Secretary of State. Graham Lee, chairman of Ad Lib, said: “We’re not down and out and we’re not giving up.”” 
    • Big names fail to save Dorset libraries –  This is Dorset.  “Library campaigners including Downton Abbey creator Lord Fellowes and novelist Minette Walters have failed in a last-ditch bid to save nine of Dorset’s 34 libraries.”
    • Motion to save Dorset libraries defeated – BBC.   “Spokesperson for the Ad Lib campaign group Mike Chaney said: “We’re very disappointed, but it was predictable. We will continue to work as hard as we can to get the best deal for these libraries.” The group told the council meeting that the statistics used by the authority to show public support for the changes were “flawed and biased”, and that community groups were not making progress with taking over the nine libraries.  
    • Council rebuked for £5m Dorchester library schemeDorchester People.   KPMG: “The auditor criticised the county council for failing to look at alternative sites which might have been better and for not carrying out an assessment of the needs of the library service before committing to spending £5million on a new library and adult education centre in Dorchester.”
  • Jersey – UK “right to plug the hole” – This is Jersey.   Lord Digby Jones says tax loophole for Jersey will not be tolerated by England as … “When the UK government is closing libraries and cutting back on services and they see a genuine assistance which has been abused and exploited, they would want to plug that hole and make sure that revenue that has been escaping comes into the British exchequer. For Britain, that can only be a good thing,’ he said.”
  • Kirklees – To close seven libraries – Voices for the Library.   Anonymous source says “Public libraries at: Denby Dale, Golcar, Honley, Kirkheaton, Lepton, Shepley & Slaithwaite will be ‘offered’ to residents, communities, charities or private organisations as an opportunity for them to run an essential community resource. Offered on the table of financial cuts and political cowardice, Kirklees council have quite simply decided to close seven libraries.” … “There are no examples of volunteer-run libraries delivering an inclusive service of such quality and breadth as those currently staffed by committed and professional people.”
  • North Yorkshire – Ryedale libraries may merge in bid to save £1.7m – Gazette & Herald.  The plans would see a new branch library created to cater for Malton and Norton, which currently have separate branches. All the region’s other facilities would remain and either be run by the council, community volunteers or a combination of both.”
    • Mixed response to North Yorks libraries planNorthern Echo.   “From April all libraries will see a reduction in their opening hours, with libraries in Northallerton and Catterick Garrison each losing more than 10 hours of staffing time, while Richmond will lose six hours, Stokesley eight hours and Bedale five hours.” … “The authority originally proposed axing 22 of its 42 libraries, but after a huge public outcry it cut the number of libraries which would no longer be staffed to eight, which instead will be run by community groups.”
  • Suffolk – Council offers only two years funding guarantee to run libraries – Suffolk Wordblog.  Compares poor deal for libraries with long deal for recently privatised hospital. “ith only two years of funding (we are still waithing for details) I am finding it very difficult to envisage any business plan that I could be a part of recommending to the community here in Debenham.” 
    Waltham Forest – Leytonstone: bid to save library with voluntary staff – This is Local London. “The library is due to shut in December but residents are hoping to take over its management as soon as possible afterwards and run it in the same building at no extra expense to the taxpayer for at least one or two days a week.”
“For me it’s making the best of a bad situation. We’re really unhappy at the thought of there being no library there. When I told my eight-year-old daughter that the council were definitely going to close it she cried for 20 minutes.”