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

  • Actor boosts library campaign – BBC.  Actor Simon Callow has donated almost 1,000 of his own books – including hundreds of specialist performing arts titles – to London’s Westminster Reference Library.He told the BBC he intends to highlight the importance of libraries in the community in the context of many facing closure.”.  Westminster Libraries boss says all will stay open.
  • Are UK public libraries expensive to run? – Wordshore.   One of the best analyses of how expensive public libraries actually are for the country, now updated for 2012.
  • Great Britons 2011 – Independent on Sunday.  One of the fifty are the Brent library campaigners.  “Residents fighting the closure of six libraries in the London borough of Brent represented the outrage felt by much of the nation’s readers and researchers about cutbacks by staging a round-the-clock protest outside Kensal Rise Library, which was opened by American writer Mark Twain 111 years ago. The campaigners were the first in the country to seek a judicial review into library closures.”
  • Independent voices of 2011: The most influential non-celebrity users of Twitter – Independent.  Voices for the Library is given an honourable mention, with over 2800 followers with a high trust rating.
    • Thank you to all of our supportersVoices for the Library.  “When we first started up in August last year we never imagined that we would have such an impact.  We are all volunteers who spare whatever time we can to keep the campaign going by highlighting both the cuts to libraries across the UK as well as the value of libraries and librarians.” 
  • Prologue to the Living Library – Open Writing.   “Last summer, writer and researcher Nilam Ashra-McGrath (www.nilamashramcgrath.co.uk) completed a writing-residency at Huddersfield Library, UK, and is now writing a non-fiction book about her experiences. The book will be out in 2012, and you can read the prologue here”.  Excellent article lists and describes what libraries offer and why they are different to other outlets.
“If you were asked to name an institution that expects nothing from you, but gives you the most in return, you would have to name your local public library. No other public service institution is subject to such praise and abuse in equal measure, and no other institution is currently in such jeopardy.”

  • Shelf life in hard times: The book folk who wrote glorious chapters in 2012 – Independent.   Brent, Gloucestershire and Somerset campaigners are one of the six examples.  “Lords Justice Pill, Richards and Davis this week shamefully upheld the High Court decision, which they felt had been made only after a “most careful and thorough review of all the points advanced” which contrasts with the victory in Glos/Somerset.  “As this newspaper noted, Brent’s plans are “vandalism on a worse scale than the riots”. But the official vandals in Brent and elsewhere will not, however, be hunted down and sent to jail.”

Changes

Calderdale £65,000 cut in bookfund
Gloucestershire Friends of Matson Library.  
Hull – New co-located library expected in Newland Road expected after closure of one on Beverley Road
Redbridge 13 staff, including senior and long-serving, made redundant five days before Christmas 2011.  “Vision expects a “noticeably reduced” library service from April, although all 13 borough libraries and the mobile library will stay open.”
Surrey Hersham Library not be included in volunteer takeover pilot.
Waltham ForestPlans to relocate Wood Street Library and sell off land for housing put on display without publicity just for Christmas period until 3rd January 2012.   

Local News

  • Brent – Library campaigners keep their spirits up by holding festive carol concerts – London 24.   “Sadly, the only Christmas present that is being bestowed on this diverse community from Brent Council is parking ticket machines which will be effective from the New Year.” … “At Cricklewood Library, opera singers entertained the community outside a new-pop-up library set up to replace the old reading room in Olive Road.”
  • Calderdale – Freedom of Information request – What Do They Know.   Details on book fund.
  • Camden – Groups get keys to run three libraries – Camden New Journal.  “The Winch commun­ity centre will be handed the keys to Belsize, in Antrim Grove; Chalk Farm in Sharpleshall Street will be run by a co-operative made up of the Friends of Chalk Farm Library and the Primrose Hill Commun­ity Association; while the Heath Library in Keats Grove will be run by the  newly formed Phoenix Group, made up of the Heath and Hampstead Society, The South End Green Association and then Friends of Heath Library.”.  Council says “We were determined to minimise disruption to the library service and make the best of a bad situation. The impressive bids we’ve received have shown how residents are willing to step up and help run their well-loved libraries.””
  • Doncaster – Freedom of Information request – What Do They Know.   Arts Council England report that they have no records on Doncaster but does not mention any records inherited from MLA.
  • Gloucestershire – FoGL and GCC in conversation at last – Friends of Matson Library.   “Friends of Gloucesteshire LIbraries (John, Johanna, and Demelza) met with Jo Grills and Duncan Jordan who are the civil servants overseeing the new ‘meeting the challenge’ (if it’s still called that) of reshaping library service. Demelza writes that “they seemed to take many of our comments on board and took copious notes”. I have to say that Antonia Noble also took copious notes last time around so the proof, as ever, will be in the pudding. ” … “It is also worth knowing that on Saturday Richard Graham MP approached one of the board members of Together in Matson (TIM) to ask if the board were ‘disappointed’ in not having the community-run library in the Redwell Centre. He would like to be able to tell people that but no statement has come from the board of TIM.”
    • Friends of Gloucestershire’s Libraries’ first birthday: the story so far – FoGL.   Summary of an amazing campaigning year for FoGL, from it’s beginnings in Cheltenham Library to a 10,000 petition to legal action/victory.  “I would like to use this ‘birthday’ to say a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has joined with us, campaigned with and supported us on the journey so far. We hope you stick around for the next stage of the fight and new Friends of our libraries are always welcome too – our libraries are too important to lose!
    • Have your say on county council spending – This is Gloucestershire.  We’re not planning dramatic cuts. Most of the pain will have come last year. There will be reductions to certain budgets, but nothing like with the libraries and youth service last year.”.  Comments describe questionnaire as biased with loaded questions and suspect the council will ignore any inconvenient results anyway.
  • Hull – Novel idea to get an Avenue library – This is Hull and East Riding.  “”The council has the former Newland School in the street, but a shop front would be far more accessible to the public.”
  • Northern Ireland – Decision on library hours cuts deferred – Belfast Telegraph.   7000 questionnaires and 500 other correspondance has been received.  Decision to be made in January 2012.  
“We have been overwhelmed by the level of response and it is clear our customers value both the role that libraries play in local communities and the importance of ensuring that opening hours are such that people can access the wide range of services available when they need them most.”

  • Redbridge – 15 Redbridge library staff to lose their jobs – Ilford Recorder.   “The employees, including senior community librarians, were informed of the outcome of a redundancy procedure on Tuesday, just five days before Christmas.”.  Vision Trust decide to sack library staff than other services, having taken over responsibility for libraries earlier this year.  Some staff have worked for service for 20 years or more.  “The Recorder understands Vision expects a “noticeably reduced” library service from April, although all 13 borough libraries and the mobile library will stay open.”
  • Surrey – Community partnership reprieve for Hersham Library – Elmbridge Today.   “At the time, they also agreed to consider nine other libraries – including Hersham’s – for inclusion within the community partnership scheme once the pilot has been in existence for a full year from April 1, 2012 and an evaluation of its success has taken place. At a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday (December 20), however, the second phase of the project was shelved.”
  • Waltham Forest – New housing and library “relocation” proposed – Guardian series.    Wood Street Library‘s premises could be sold off, with the library moved to somewhere else unspecified.   Plans have been put on display, without publicity, at start of Christmas period about the development and will be taken down on January 3rd: “…critics have questioned the timing of the plans going on display, while others fear further cuts to the library service”
  • Wiltshire – Libraries in Wiltshire kept open by volunteers – BBC.   “Wiltshire Council planned to close 10 of the county’s smallest libraries to save money, but enough volunteers came forward to keep them all open.”.  300 volunteers being used.
  • Worcestershire – Libraries and learning in Worcestershire praised by Ofsted – Worcestershire County Council.   “The Libraries and Learning team which provides courses for adult learners throughout Worcestershire has been praised for both the high quality of courses available and for providing value for money in a report released by Ofsted this week”