414 libraries (323 buildings and 91 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.

News

  • 2011 in perspective – Walk You Home.  “A comment that’s sometimes thrown my way when I talk about fighting library cuts and closures is that perhaps I need to get a sense of perspective. It’s only a few books, what am I getting so het up about? Shouldn’t I take my incandescence and direct it at something  worthier, bigger, more ‘important’? In our crazy, messed up world, what’s the point of someone like me spending so much time and energy on library advocacy and activism?…”
  • Assaulting libraries – Counterpunch (USA).   If libraries are bastions of intellectual freedom where repositories of knowledge can be trotted out to dispel darkness, closing them implies the converse.  The intellectually hungry are to be starved in the Britain of David Cameron, and writers and readers are getting alarmed. Those who would normally not have access to those sources will be kept in perfect ignorance.  But the trends are, sadly, global, and the library is under assault as the regimes of banksters and technocrats take hold of the public purse.”
  • Fighting the big uncaring society – Express.  Trafford “plans have provoked a storm of protest from voluntary groups who vow to boycott attempts to replace staff with unpaid helpers. “A campaign is being launched in Trafford for all community groups to refuse to participate in the scheme if it results in job cuts. A council spokeswoman said it was too soon to say how many librarians would be made redundant.”
  • Gift of Reading in 2011 – National Literacy Trust.   “In this new report we explore children’s reading in 2011 with findings from our first annual survey of literacy in the UK. It examines children’s ownership of books, access to reading materials, frequency of reading and attitudes to reading. We also consider how these factors could all affect children and young people’s reading abilities.”
  • Gus O’Donnell and the UK civil service – Good Library Blog.   Perkins the cat does not like the civil service.  “Followers of the campaign to rescue public libraries from the menacing hands of all those administrate and run them might observe the level of competence and standard of behaviour of civil servants in Whitehall and public officers in local councils across the country. Almost without exception, over a decade and more, almost every act that has been observed has been self serving, incompetent, idiotic, Kafkaesque in its malicious treatment of the public, and shameful.”
  • High Court to rule on campaigners appeal against library closures – London 24.  “Library campaigners will find out this afternoon if their appeal against a High Court ruling that paved the way for six branch closures is successful. Crusaders have been battling to save the branches in Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton since the council announced they faced the chop in a £1m cost-cutting measure.”
  • Inspiration – We Heart Libraries.  Here we link to some of the most eloquent examples of people explaining why libraries matter to them and why they are so absolutely fundamental to our communities and wider society. Read, listen, and get inspired!…”
  • Library love: things you love about your local libraries – Huffington Post (USA).   Slideshow of positive comments about public libraries from Twitter.  “I never met a library I didn’t like”.
  • Thanks from a public librarian to anyone who said no to library cuts – Information Twist.  ” I realised that as a public librarian I hadn’t said thank you for a long time for the support people are giving public libraries during this tough time. I know some people are putting so much effort in that it’s basically like having a second job! So… thank you to everyone and anyone, wherever you are, who has said “No” to public library cuts over the past year or so. It’s the nicest Christmas present you could have given me. You really don’t know how much I appreciate it.”
  • What happened next? The big stories of 2011 – Independent.   Colin Dexter chooses library closures as one of the big stories over the last year.  “Libraries became the unexpected social flashpoint of 2011 when the Government cut funding to local authorities and councils responded by proposing library closures.”


“I think the Government has been surprised by the scale of the response; their actions were taken on the assumption that people would just sit back and let the consultations pave the way for closure. Instead, you saw the people gather and revolt and take their case to the courts instead. “I would rather turn off every light on the motorway than close our libraries. What we have seen this year will invariably lead to further cultural deprivation.”

Changes

Warwickshire
Southam could have new co-located library.  

Local News

  • Bradford – Council owed £174,000 in library fines – Telegraph and Argus.  Councillor Dave Green, the Council’s executive member responsible for culture, said: “Having had library fines, as I am sure most of the population have, the money is retrieved when people bring their overdue books back. That is the easiest way. “After a period of time when books have not been returned we write to people to say they have the books and they owe us money.””
  • Brent – Send a Christmas card! – Save Kensal Rise Library.  You can now send the campaign Christmas e-card to your friends.”
  • Cambridgeshire – 13 libraries saved in Cambridgeshire ConservativeHome.   “This should be a beacon to Conservative authorities across the country – libraries have to take their share of cuts in hard times, but the original proposition was disproportionate, as are library cuts across the country, notably in Labour authorities, which generally consider literacy to be an elitist concept, and are not sympathetic to it. Libraries are essential to civilised life, both for the growing number of children who do not have their own books, and for adults who need their services for study and to help look for work.”.  Comments following article make clear that the Conservatives are as guilty as anyone else in cutting libraries.
  • Gloucestershire – Final ruling papers received: “bad government” and “substantive breach of equality legislation” – FoGL.   “The judge found for library users, awarded them costs and quashed all decisions.” … “the judge acknowledges that the case was brought in the wider public interest and judgement was applied and relief given to the whole of Gloucestershire. Also, please note, where the three points of the challenge are discussed, it is the judges opinion that they were so inextricably linked that he felt it was necessarily to quash ALL the plans.” Full decision here.  
  • Kent – Religious leaders’ concern at library Scientology stock – This is Kent.   “Seventeen of the 72 books, written by founder and science fiction author L Ron Hubbard, in the section at the Avebury Avenue library are devoted to the controversial religion.” [NB. public libraries receive boxes of new Scientology books from time to time.  It is tempting to put them on the shelves, although almost all libraries do not, for obvious reasons – Ed.]
  • Liverpool – Take the budget challengeLiverpool Council.   Consultation on how the council will cut £50m including on libraries.
  • Northumberland – Library opens new chapter – Northumberland Gazette.  Social care/health desk at Amble Library opens.  “NHS staff will provide advice and guidance, and information will be available at the information point on support groups, activities available which people can become involved in, entitlements such as attendance allowance and how social services and other organisations are able to provide support.”
  • Oxfordshire – Library campaigners “ignored” over cuts – Henley Standard.  “Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet agreed to withdraw half of the staff funding from 16 of its 43 libraries, including those in Sonning Common, Woodcote, Goring, Benson and Watlington, following public consultation. The outcome is better than the two-thirds cut in funding that was previously proposed but the libraries’ Friends groups claim it is unfair on those in rural areas.”
    • Some council cuts “political” – Oxford Times.   Conservative MP says some councils are closing libraries just to make a political point.  [Oxfordshire, on the other hand, is simply blackmailing people to volunteer in them in order to keep them open and to prove the wonders of the Big Society.  No political points being made there at all then.  Ed.]
  • Scottish Borders – “Lip service” claim over library cuts – Southern Reporter.  “If councillors vote today for the merger of contact centres and public libraries, with a cut in the opening hours of the latter in four towns, they must be prepared to face the wrath of voters at the May elections. That was the warning this week from Tim Clancey, the member of Innerleithen community council who organised a petition of 1,000 signatures, a third of the town’s population, against the changes.”
    • Councillors defend decision to back Selkirk library merger – Advertiser.   ““If you look at what is happening in other places, especially England where many public libraries are being closed to save money, SBC and myself are desperately trying to find ways to maintain and extend library services and we must look at how to improve usage further. That has to be achieved by using the best staff in the best roles.”
  • Suffolk – Big society sees community groups soar – Mix 96.   “A surge in community spirit has seen the number of projects run by friends and neighbours treble in the past three years as the Prime Minister pushes his Big Society plan to shift power away from central government. Shops, youth hostels, parks and pubs have all been taken on by local groups. “
  • Trafford – Press coverage round-up – HOOT.  “All in all, we got just about all the coverage we could have hoped for and then some. It’s probably safe to say we have launched with a bang – but the real campaign starts here.”
  • Warwickshire – Southam could have library, care home, museum and council services all under one roof – Courier.   “Plans are being drawn up to rebuild the library and the empty Victor Hodges House care home, with a ‘one stop shop’ for council services and possibly a home for the town’s historic Cardall collection.”