412 libraries (323 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 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

  • Alan Bennett on libraries – Radio Five Live.  His school library has been renamed the “Alan Bennett Library”.  “A library shouldn’t be intimidating.  It should be inviting and tempt you to read. …. ”
“Q:  What do you make of the current situation?
“Alan Bennett: Well, I think the authorities – and it’s not particularly a political matter although it obviously stems from the policies of the government but  in not quite a political way – I think they have been taken aback by the reaction of people and the affection that people have for libraries and the fact that they have such  a place in the community – and it is in the community.  Cities, towns tend to say “oh well we built this wonderful new central library and so we are doing out bit for libraries but that’s not the point.  A library should be local.  It’s a place where particularly the young should be able to go because it’s a place where they won’t be interrupted or there won’t be other people coming in.  People don’t believe that there are poor children now but there are and they need libraries for a place to go and read.  It’s not just the books, it’s the place.”

  • House of Lords (Hansard) – They Work For You.  “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to improve access to libraries in the light of research by the National Literacy Trust published on 1 December about low levels of book ownership by children.” – Answers (a) Summer Reading Challenge [this is actually nothing to do with the Government, rather it is entirely funded by local authorities subscribing to it – but the Government still l takes credit for it twice in the answers], (b) ACE libraries development initiative [£200k in total.max £20k per project].  Government does not know how many libraries closed this year [they don’t know about this page]
“My Lords, my noble friend has a very good point. Recycling books, especially the low-cost books that one can now get on Amazon, is a great help to public libraries [Huh? Ed.]. However, people do not go to public libraries just for books. Libraries offer a way of life, encouraging reading in every way and providing solace for some people who may not have it at home.”

  • National Libraries DayTwibbon.  “National Libraries Day on February 4th will be a nationwide celebration of libraries, library users, librarians & library staff in all sectors.”.  All information currently known on National Libraries Day is here.  

Changes

Cumbria – Fox and Hounds Pub (Ennerdale) will have 100 council-supplied books, hoping others will be donated.  
Doncaster Carcroft and Denaby Libraries to close before Christmas
Gloucestershire – Library proposals to be announced 20/1/12.  
Herefordshire Libraries may be run by a Trust or other external body.
Redbridge – £500k to be spent on self-service in order to be able to cut staff at Ilford Central Library to help meet budget cut of £620k by 2014.

Local News

  • Caerphilly – Risca Palace cinema reopens as library and Caerphilly Council offices – BBC.  “The authority will run a library, customer services, a youth space, meeting rooms and more at the premises as part of an ongoing drive to regenerate Risca…. Allan Pritchard, leader of Caerphilly council, hailed the new library and council offices as the “best of breed”.”
  • Cumbria – Ales of the unexpected as pub opens library – Copeland Community Fund.   “Volunteers will also be offering an out-reach library service, as well as IT sessions each Tuesday at the pub, to help members use the library’s online catalogues. Peter Maher, project manager, said: “Our emphasis is to try and return community services, and the library is a small step. Reading is important and a library is a great community resource. Ours is an interesting model!’’  “
  • Doncaster – Libraries to close for final time – Thorne and District Gazette.  “A proposal to axe over half of the borough’s 26 libraries in the borough was announced by the council after it was revealed several of the sites had a dwindling number of customers.  The move has led to several protests across those areas affected including a campaign group called Save Doncaster Libraries being formed.”
Library users across the county are extremely disappointed to learn that Council Leader Mark Hawthorne, and indeed the whole of GCC administration, have declined an invite to an open public meeting on the 14th of December to discuss the future of our libraries. Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries members have worked hard to organize the meeting and found an  an independent chair, in an independent venue in the hope that bridges could be built and that open, transparent dialogue could be started. Not a single representative from the library service or the cabinet will be attending.  They say a meeting is “premature”. We would argue that is a year too late. If they had engaged with us and listened to us in the first place a costly court case would have been avoided. Are GCC really going to make the same mistakes again? We fear so.Gloucestershire – Statement – FoGL.

“Further to my previous email, Gloucestershire County Council’s new library proposals are due to be announced 20th January. This is clearly very rushed. (especially when you take into consideration the holiday period).  We find it astonishing that the Council deems meeting with us just over a month before this date to be “premature”. Chris White of the LGA said that people should engage with their County Councilors. Well, we have tried time and again. Now what? ” FoGL