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Public Libraries News gained its 200,000th view at some point this morning.  This was over, roughly, one year. Thanks to everyone for their interest, not of course in this blog, but in public libraries. It’s been a traumatic year.  Let’s hope that this blog gets less “hits” next year, because one suspects that that would mean that things are getting better for public libraries … and that’s important not just for them but for the health of the whole country.
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

  • About the concept -Cycling for Libraries. “a politically and economically independent international unconference and a bicycle tour. Cycling for libraries is an independent event, not organized by any existing formal organization. It is made possible by a sovereign, international network of library enthusiasts.”
  • Alan Bennett: Playwright returns to Leeds school – Yorkshire Evening Post.  “Armley-born playwright Alan Bennett dropped in at Lawnswood School, in Otley Road, Lawnswood, to unveil a plaque that named their library after him. The History Boys writer spoke of his delight at the honour, while re-iterating his statement on the closing of public libraries as being “child abuse”. The 77-year-old told the YEP: “I am happy and very glad to be able to do this particularly at a time when libraries are under threat. “They read books in different ways now and I still read proper books, I don’t read Kindle because aesthetically I prefer it. It doesn’t matter how you read as long as you do read.”
  • Best-selling write Julia Donaldson on her bid to get children reading – Daily Record.  “The 63-year-old remembers visiting her local library and being inspired by the books she picked up. Now, as Children’s Laureate, she’s campaigning hard to make sure future generations are still able to visit libraries, which face closure in the face of spending cuts. “They’re especially important for children and their use of libraries has gone up over the last five or six years,” she said.”
  • Get it Loud in Libraries –  Music and libraries do go together.  “Get It Loud In Libraries is a unique award winning project – it is the Love Libraries Award 2007 winner-designed to give people, especially young people who love music, a damn good time in a library; libraries across Lancashire if you are someone who cares for the small details.”.  Around four music events per month in (mainly) Lancashire and London.
  • Philip Pullman tackles cavalier councils – Bexley Times.  Summary of the author’s library campaign to date.  “I am a citizen as well as a writer, I hope I’d be speaking out whatever job I had,” he says. “What I do for a living gives me a bit of a name so people notice when I speak, but I feel I should do it as a citizen rather than as a writer.”

Changes

Derby – £1.28m library in Chaddesdem building work to start June 2012.  
Trafford – Campaign group: Hands Off Old Trafford Library (H.O.O.T. Library, @hootlibrary, Facebook).

Local News

  • Brent – Saturday 10th Carols at Cricklewood Library – Save Kensal Rise Library.  “Wrap up warm and join us at our celebration of the season and of our library. Just turn up on Saturday outside the library – we will be singing a few carols led by Sonja – launching a free ‘pop-up’ library in the  space outside the library – decorating our campaign Christmas Tree with children’s drawings. Includes the launch of Cricklewood ‘pop-up’ library, children’s drawings, seasonal drinks – non-alcoholic punch and other soft drinks available.”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Deal over library not ruled out – This is Croydon.   “Sara Bashford, the council’s cabinet for culture and sport, told Monday’s council meeting: “If they come back with a suggestion that is workable we will look at it.”.  Both sides continue to blame the other for the impending closure of one of the most efficiently run libraries in London.
  • Derby – Building date for new £1.28m library – This is Derbyshire.   “Work to build a replacement library in Chaddesden will start in June next year. Derby City Council’s planning committee approved plans for the long-awaited library in May. After several consultations, the authority decided to site the £1.28 million building next to the bowls green in Chaddesden Park.
  • Gloucestershire – Have your say on new library service scheme – This is Glos.  “Members of the authority’s cabinet will meet to confirm the details of the draft library plans on January 20. If they agree, a public consultation to gather feedback on the proposals will start soon after. Exact dates and details will be publicised closer to the time, but the consultation is expected to last six weeks.”
    • County Council Cabinet snubs libraries meeting – FoGL via Alan Gibbons.   “The email also stated that draft plans are being drawn up now and that the GCC Cabinet will meet to confirm them on 20th January. This seems very rushed, especially given the holiday period. We cannot understand why a meeting to be held only a month before this date could be deemed as “premature”. We feel that Gloucestershire County Council is once again failing to engage with library users and we are extremely concerned, as it was this failure to listen to our concerns about their previous plans that led the Courts to declare them unlawful with a bill of £100,000 for tax payers.”
  • Suffolk – Beccles library officer helps thwart internet scam – Norwich Evening News.   “Inquiry officer at the Blyburgate-based library, Nicky Bedwell, helped to stop the website cloning scam after being alerted to it by regular user Hugh Blowers, after he tried to access his friend’s Yorkshire holiday let website.”
  • Surrey – New Surrey County Council leader: ‘We must be strong enough to see when we have gone wrong – This is Surrey Today.  “But while many predicted the decision to scrap county-wide proposals for on-street town centre parking charges, few foresaw the decision to reinstate professional part-time workers at libraries threatened with closure.”… “Cllr Hodge added he was aware of what he saw as a vocal minority in the public gallery when “unpopular” decisions were made, but he did not set too much store by them. He added: “You’ve got to accept there are times when people are not happy with a decision you’ve made. “When there was a reaction from the public gallery about libraries, my reaction was those people had a passion and a right to their point of view.”
  • Trafford – Looking forward to what?  The threat to Old Trafford Library – Hands off Old Trafford Library (H.O.O.T. Library).   Group objects to council plans for volunteer-run library as (a) in area of multiple deprivation, (b) library staff are friends and neighbours and should not be replaced, (c) not viable or sustainable, (d) choice of Old Trafford for this is arbitrary and unfair.

“Old Trafford has a magnificent tradition of volunteering and community activism. Resident volunteers in this neighbourhood have established many innovative and successful voluntary projects, and we are rightly proud of our countless achievements. However we are also quite clear about the role and purpose of the community and voluntary sector in Old Trafford: it is to complement and enhance the work of statutory services, to improve the quality of life for individuals and communities in our local area. Our role is definitely not to enable employers to make our friends, colleagues and neighbours redundant and replace them with unpaid volunteers.”