Archive for December, 2011

Who needs libraries?

422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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 a fifth of children said they had never been to a book shop or a library. But the survey also showed that reading any type of material, for example magazines, outside class at least once a month was also associated with greater reading attainment.”

  • Almost 4m children in Britain do not own a book, poll finds – Guardian. “The charity said the findings were very worrying because book ownership was linked to children’s future success in life. Children who read well can often overcome other hurdles that lock their peers into a cycle of disadvantage, it said.”
  • New Lakeshore Library to open this month with untraditional style – Nola (USA).   New building opens in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  This one does without (gasp) Dewey.
  • We’re still in love with books – Chronicle of Higher Education (USA).  “Contrary to many futuristic projections—even from bibliophiles who, as a group, enjoy melancholy reveries—the recent technological revolution has only deepened the affection that many scholars have for books and libraries, and highlighted the need for the preservation, study, and cherishing of both.”

Local News

  • Gloucestershire – County Council leaders consult human rights experts over library closures – Gazette.  Gloucestershire County Council is currently reviewing its position with regard to libraries and a new consultation and equalities assessment will be carried out in the near future. In the meantime the authority has said it will continue working with community groups who are keen to take over library services themselves.” 
  • Leicestershire – Fines waived in bid to get library items back across Leicestershire – This is Leicestershire.   “Sometime in 1998, the children’s book Old Hat, New Hat was taken out of a county library – and 13 years later it still has not been returned. It is one of 161,225 overdue books, DVDs and CDs missing from Leicester and Leicestershire’s libraries.” … “City library members who have not used the service in the past 12 months can return overdue items without facing charges. An earlier city amnesty, held in October, saw £11,200 of fines wiped clean during the seven-day period.”
  • Oxfordshire – Compromises on library staff – BookSeller.   “The scheme marks a concession from the council’s earlier proposal, put out to consultation in May, which had proposed that 16 libraries be staffed by only one third council employees. Local campaigner Neil Clark said he welcomed the change. “These are trained librarians. It’s not the sort of work that can easily be taken on by volunteers,” he commented. However fellow campaigner Julia Drown labelled the compromise as just “crumbs”.”
  • Southwark – In pictures:  Southwark’s new £14m “super library” – BBC.   Everyone can salivate at these pictures, me included.
  • Swindon – Banned from library at tender age of 12 – Swindon Advertiser.  “ALMOST 50 unruly children have been banned from libraries and leisure centres in the town in the past three years.” … “One incident, which happened in a North Swindon library last year, was so bad that the police were called and the three culprits, aged between 14 and 16, were given life-long bans. But, the true picture could actually be much worse as some libraries work with Wiltshire Police to contribute evidence to enable anti-social behaviour orders, which includes being banned from the library, but these are not recorded by the council.”
  • Torfaen – Libraries fortnight is a great success – Free Press.   Hundreds of new joiners and many different events to won the right ot be part of the Olympics 2012 Inspire program. “Councillor Lewis Jones, Torfaen Council’s deputy leader, said: “Libraries Fortnight was a huge success and we had a superb response from Torfaen citizens who came out in force to support the diverse programme of events which really showcased the broad range of services on offer in our libraries.”
  • Wokingham – Campaigners win pledge to review library “privatisation” – Henley Standard.  “It was agreed that a review would be held after the competitive dialogue process has taken place to take account of public feeling.” … “A decision will be made in the new year whether to proceed with an invitation to tender. The tendering process would take several months. The successful bidder for the contract would be paid annually and its performance would be reviewed regularly.”

“However, any private company to come in on a contract with the council would be looking to make a profit and if it hasn’t the control to close libraries then it will look for other ways to save money. This, I suspect, will mean reducing opening hours, increasing fines and fees and cutting staff wages or staff themselves. Any of these would result in an inferior service. If a company finds that a profit is impossible to make, it will walk away from the contract, leaving the council with an extra financial burden to take over it again.”

Lewisham usage collapses

Comment

A report in the Sunday Times suggests that Ed Vaizey is asking for Big Lottery Fund money for withdrawn libraries.  While it is nice that the Minister Invisibly In Charge Of Libraries is showing an interest, it shows his weakness, and the direness of the current situation, that he is begging for money. 
Mind you, withdrawn branches need all the help they can get.  Have a look at the figures in the table below from Lewisham to see how libraries that were council-run last year are now doing when withdrawn from council control.  The words “Community Library” in this table, incidentally, does not mean a local public library but rather that it is no longer being run by the council:

The outsourced branches on average experienced a decline of 73% in book issues over one year.  Of course, this figure is skewed – there’s been upheaval in those libraries recently taken over by different organisations (a computer recycling company, an elderly people’s charity and, in New Cross, a bona fide library user’s co-operative) which has doubtless depressed things a little.  As has whatever “initial difficulties with data collection” means.  However, a loss of three-quarters seems excessive.  Something else is going on here rather than problems due to change of management.  Nor do the problems in Lewisham stop there. In those not outsourced (leaving out the non-comparable Torridon Road and Wavelengths figures) the decline was still an amazingly poor 18%.  The warning below the figures suggests that there have been staff cuts and the installation of self-service machines but, still 18%?  Perhaps they’re not buying new books this year as well. For national comparison, the CIPFA figures for 2010/11 showed a decline of only 2.3%.
Another point from these figures is that the previous users of the withdrawn libraries do not appear to be using the other branches.  This suggests that public library provision is effectively being lost to those in the neighbourhoods where the council has decided to retreat from managing branches, raising concerns for the whole model, at least in the form practised in Lewisham.
All of this is useful information for all of those thinking of writing to the Select Committee (details below).  Other useful information can be found by writing Freedom of Information requests to the MLA (still existing in caretaker form until next year), local authorities and ACE but get in quick – that 12th January deadline is looking awful close, especially with Christmas in less than three weeks.
422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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

  • BitebackSunday Times.   Richard Brooks: “In the new year, the culture media and sports committee (yes, the one looking into phone hacking) turns its attention to libraries. I am sure they will summon either Jeremy Hunt or Ed Vaizey as witnesses – they have for too long sat silently on their hands. Yet I recall Vaizey, as shadow arts minister in 2009, publicly condemning the closure of libraries in the Wirral. What now, Ed, about Brent, Somerset et al?” … “Vaizey has been chatting to the Big Lottery Fund about community funding for libraries. Hang on – lottery bodies are supposed to stick to the “additionality rule”, giving cash only to organisations that do not receive any from government. No wonder the Big Lottery has questioned Ed about his eager hands on handouts.”.
  • Commission to work with two local councils on spending decisions around library closures – Equalities and Human Rights Commission.   “I’m pleased to be working with both Somerset and Gloucestershire County Councils to help them comply with equality legislation. Policies based on a sound knowledge of how decisions may impact on vulnerable groups will help ensure these service users don’t lose out as budgets are tightened, as well saving time and money for the councils themselves as they avoid costly and time-consuming legal challenges.”
  • Future of libraries – Da Vinci Institute (USA).   Long article, the most relevant bits being at the end where the writer suggests that libraries will more from a centre of information towards being a centre of culture.
  • Upheaval at the New York Public Library – The Nation (USA).  Even one of the greatest public libraries in the world is facing problems, with the closure of reading rooms, loss of staff, despite an increase in usage. 

Local News 

  • Bolton – Community archive plan to save library building – Bolton News. “The proposal, which will include a community archive, will not retain the library service and relies on council bosses to keep funding the building for the next three years.”
  • Doncaster – Library – Epworth Bells.    Denaby library confirmed as closing.  “Outside the library, pensioner Margaret Bond, 76, told the Times: “It’s disgusting – It’s not just us adults who are losing a valuable amenity, it’s the children. When you go there on an evening it’s full of them doing homework. Some parents can’t afford a computer at home. They are on about education and they close Denaby Library. How can they educate themselves?” … “It is one of 14 libraries to be axed under plans by the authority to save £784,000 from its budget. While other services are expected to become community-led services, Denaby is to have mobile and outreach provision only.”
  • Gloucestershire – Public meeting: libraries going forward – FoGL.  “At the request of library users and community groups across the county we have organised an open public meeting to discuss ways forward for our libraries and the implications of the judicial review ruling. To encourage fair representation it will be held in a neutral environment with a neutral chair. We feel that bridges need to be built and an open dialogue facilitated….”
  • Oxfordshire – Results of consultation – Friends of Benson Library.   Volunteers will be needed to run library but they have not been costed.  Also, RAF Benson will lose a valuable service and local businesses fear loss of trade. 
    • More paid staff to stay at libraries – Oxford Mail.  “Neil Clark campaigned to save Botley Library – one of the 22 core libraries which will retain its staff. He said: “These are trained librarians. It’s not the sort of work that can easily be taken on by volunteers. We welcome this very much.” But Julia Drown, a campaigner for Old Marston Library, labelled the compromise as just ‘crumbs’.” 
    • Libraries could be save by new proposal – Banbury Guardian.   “Nearly 5,000 people responded to the four month public consultation into the future of Oxfordshire’s libraries which came to a close last week. The public outrage stirred by the possibility of library closures in the region has caused Oxfordshire County Council to rethink their original plan to dramatically cut funding and staff remaining libraries with volunteers.” (stub)
  • Southwark – Canada Water Library: a review – Observer.   “OMG! It’s a library! An absolutely new one, with books in it, too! Aren’t such things supposed to be dinosaurs, driven to extinction by the cuts of George Osborne and the inventions of the late Steve Jobs? Not in the London Borough of Southwark, apparently, where they have decided to keep all 12 of their existing libraries, as well as build this new one. And not, according to its architect, Piers Gough, for whom “books haven’t gone away. Libraries still hold these magic realms of invention, realms of ideas. They’re places where you’re not told what to think; they’re also places where you can stay and stop and spend as long as you like.”

Filling the voids

Comment

Oxfordshire have slightly backed down from their proposals for a “volunteers with everything” approach to library provision.  However, despite cheery headlines, nearly half (21 out of 43) of their branches will still have paid staff cut by up to 50%.  There are also some doubts as to whether the council has done its homework about costing for it.
Someone who is hoping to employ a lot more paid staff is Tim Coates, library consultant ex of Waterstones, who has announced the launch of a new ebook provider, Bilbary, in the next few weeks which is hoping for public library as well as publisher support.  All the while, time is getting seriously short for people to respond to the DCMS Select Committee on Library Closures – Christmas is going to be here any minute – and so it is encouraging to see CILIP are stirring (or at least stirring others) to action.
422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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

  • Boyd Tonkin: Flagships and hulks – Independent.   Collaboration between booksellers and libraries is starting, promoting the good news about libraries and the new ones opening.  Concerns that such collaboration may be insufficient if more closures mean a confrontation with politicians. Also, danger that big ego-boosting new libraries will have money spent on them while the others are left to rot.

“Beware, especially, every bid to wield those 40 openings as proof that protesters have cried wolf over cuts. In many authorities, the campaigns turn specifically on plans to replace or downgrade local branches in favour of shiny town-centre monuments to municipal pride, located miles from users’ homes.”

“A long-time library campaigner, Coates said Bilbary would aid public libraries. “Trade publishers don’t want to lend at present. There has been huge sales growth in e-books this year and nobody wants to damage that. In time, we think there will be lending, and here is a space where they can experiment. The public library service doesn’t have to create its own e-digital library by buying speculatively, they can use this as a service. Publishers will be paid for every loan. It could solve the problem, [currently causing a stalemate on e-lending], and then the library service would have an e-book solution. “

  • Tim Coates to launch international e-bookstore, Bilbary – Publishers Weekly. Coates is certainly aware of e-bookstore powerhouses Amazon and BN.com, but he believes the e-book market, particularly outside of America, is only in its infancy with room for new players. He is also positioning Bilbary to be publisher, customer, and library friendly. Publishers can set their own prices and change them whenever they want.”.  Aiming to supply as many formats as possible, taking 20% commission (publishers 80%). 
  • Help CILIP respond to select committee inquiry into public library closures (in England) – CILIP. “In our response CILIP will be taking the opportunity to set out the value of the public library service and the knowledge and skills of the library staff that are vital in designing and delivering a service that meets the needs of its communities – the service is so much more than just the buildings! The ideas and examples provided by members will help inform and enrich the CILIP evidence to the Inquiry. We appreciate the very tight timetable (set by the Select Committee) but nevertheless would welcome greatly the contribution of CILIP members. It would be helpful if this included comments specifically addressing the issues raised by the Inquiry. You have until 23 December 2011 to feed your views into CILIP’s response which has to be with the Select Committee by 12 January 2012.”
  • How libraries are about more than books – Huffington Post (USA).   “When visitors walk into the Minneapolis building, the first collection they see is about 300 computers, each of which is in use about 90 percent of the time. Nationwide, the number of physical books borrowed from libraries is slowly declining, although books remain a core reason why people visit their libraries. The staff in Minneapolis estimates that computer access is the primary reason that most patrons, especially low-income and unemployed people, visit.”.  [See the very polarised comments at end of article for a worrying view of all that is wrong about the current political and social situation in the USA.  Homelessness and the evil of paying taxes seem key issues – Ed.]

“Edwin S. Clay III, the director of libraries since 1982, said that libraries have “never been more relevant,” but that they are increasingly filling the voids left by other public institutions. “We’re becoming lots of folks’ offices, especially as they look for work,” Clay said. “We’re not the school system, but we’re focusing on childhood literacy. We’re teaching people how to use computers. We’re stepping up and saying, ‘How can we help?'”

  • Library phantom returnsNPR (USA).  Superb artist celebrating books, writing and libraries in Scotland has a big fan in America.   Central Station has the most complete collection of pictures of the wonderful anonymous artists’ work who has now finished dotting sculptures made of books around Edinburgh.
  • Michael Moore: end wars, fund libraries – Books for Walls (USA).   Celebrity supports libraries and inspires further campaigning. 

Changes

Oxfordshire 2/12/11: All libraries to be at least half-staffed by paid workers, previously proposals said 16 would be one-third staffed, with the rest being provided by volunteers.  22 will be fully staffed, 16 half-staffed, 5 two-thirds staffed.  Decision to be maded on 12/12/11.  

Local News

  • Barnet – Deadline looms for library plan – Barnet Today.  “The [Save Friern Barnet] group will be contributing financial plans and details of the campaign’s formal constitution, their governance arrangements and bank accounts, alongside additional documentation.  The council’s cabinet previously approved a strategy to close the library, merge it with North Finchley Library and reopen in the artsdepot at Tally Ho Corner.  However, following a campaign by residents, a three-month reprieve was granted to provide time for consideration of alternative solutions.”
  • Bracknell Forest – Fun booked for Bracknell libraries – Get Bracknell.   List of Christmas events.
  • Edinburgh – Library cuts “a mistake” says Labour – Scotsman.  Councillor Ricky Henderson, finance spokesman for the Labour group on the city council, said it was “very sad” to see the city’s 26 libraries bear the brunt of budget cuts.”.  Wide service offered by libraries will be reduced by cuts in hours. 
  • Gloucestershire – Report of first council meeting since library plans ruled unlawful – FoGL.  Glos Council still apparently believes it did everything lawful, regardless of court judgement ruling against them, with the Leader saying that the judge had given a “subjective” view and repeating that the defeat (with the council being ordered to pay full costs) was a “small technicality”.  Council also appears to believe that mobile libraries are not libraries. “All in all, the GCC response was depressing and most unpromising. The County Council and especially Cllr Hawthorne gave no indication they are going to put things right in our libraries. I came away with a strong impression that the County Council may well be about to waste a lot more of our time and money before they restore our library service.”
    • Dear Library Santa – FoGL.   Stonehouse Library campaigners invite Santa along to gain public support against cuts. ““We got around 200 signed in 4 hours in Stonehouse on Saturday afternoon. The idea proved popular and the letter could be changed to suit other localities.”
    • Council to work with top equalities body – Gloucestershire Council.Both Gloucestershire and Somerset Councils will be working with the Commission to ensure that their revised plans for libraries comply with new equality legislation, which was updated this year. Discussions have already taken place between both council chief executives and the EHRC’s chief executive to confirm their involvement. The move follows a judge’s ruling which overturned the councils’ decisions on changes to library services on equality grounds.”

“Gloucestershire is reviewing its position with regards to libraries and a new consultation and equalities assessment will be carried out in the near future. In the mean time [sic] the authority will continue working with community groups who are keen to take over library services themselves.”

  • Oxfordshire – Hope on horizon for Chinnor Library? – Thame Gazette.  Chinnor may be staffed two-third by paid and one-third by volunteer. ““Unfortunately we in Oxfordshire, like all areas of the country, are faced with having to make significant financial cutbacks across almost all areas of the services that we provide. It is impossible to exempt the Library Service from this, however we have proposed a plan that would see all our libraries remain operational.””
    • Library volunteers cutOxford Mail.   Council reduces proportion of volunteers to paid staff in new proposals although 21 out of 43 will still have paid staff cut by up to one-half.
    • Missing costs from proposals – Question Everything.  Analysis of new proposals suggests that the council has not been working out costs of volunteers or self-service machines and so the cuts may end up costing more money than leaving the service alone. 
  • Wakefield – Petition handed over against Wakefield library closures – BBC.  200-name petition against withdrawal from 12 out of 25 libraries.  “The council said that, since 1992, visitor numbers at its library had fallen by 43% compared to 15% nationally.” [and choose to cut them further rather than investigate reasons for a fall three times worse than expected – Ed.]

Running the library is a “backs against the wall” option for us

Comment

I saw the picture above on the “Save Kensal Rise Library” (Brent) website on Wednesday and saw immediately that it had an important story to tell.  So I emailed the volunteers to ask permission to use the image, which they graciously agreed to.  
Here’s their story. A “pop up” library had been opened up by protestors after the closure of the local branch. Now, these are the campaigners who took Brent Council to court over plans to close half their branches.  They’re not to be messed with and they value public libraries greatly.  However, at face value, this picture would gladden the hearts of councils all around the country who are looking to those who love their libraries to work in them for free so that paid library staff can be cut.  If so, let us hope that the following quote from the Brent campaigners, kindly supplied, will dampen their spirits somewhat .  This is what they said:

“We think libraries should be free, public and staffed by librarians and trained staff.
Running the library is a ‘backs against the wall’ option for us. We don’t want the library to close and at the moment if running it ourselves is the only option we have then we will try and do it, but it is not our preferred option.

Our Pop up Library was a spontaneous action by the community here after the Judicial Review was lost in October. We wanted to keep the library going and prevent the council from boarding it up and taking out the contents. A 24 hour vigil to prevent this turned into the pop up library. Not ideal but better than no library and a boarded up library is a pretty shocking sight. After we were granted leave to appeal the idea took root and it has been manned ever since by volunteers. Symbolic, maybe, but it gives an idea of how important the library is to this community.”

They’re not Big Society enthusiasts, they feel they have no choice. 
There’s a further point here.  Brent Council are actually unusual in not accepting volunteer-run libraries.  If they ever do, they should learn a lesson from how other councils are abusing volunteers by pretending they’re keen as mustard and twice as hot.  It gets worse: today, we have a report about Wandsworth/Croydon possibly privatising their services and thus making “big profits from poor suckers”.  The “poor suckers” in question being the wonderful volunteers who run York Gardens Library who have already immensely helped Wandsworth by keeping open the library in most deprived area of that borough.   
Up and down the country, councils are in danger of abusing the good intentions of library users into staffing their service for them. Whatever the rights and wrongs, councils at least should treasure those that do step forward and not try to manipulate them for short-term political gain.  They deserve courtesy and backup.  They deserve the grim true situation to be described without glossy hype. Councils should not describe volunteers as “excited” to meet “new challenges” and portray them as chomping at the bit to do for free what they still pay tax for skilled staff to do for them.  Otherwise, these volunteers – who are, when it comes down to it, saving the council’s bacon by allowing them to portray themselves not as closers of libraries – may be tempted to simply walk away.  That would be a disaster not just for the council but, so much more importantly, for the communities who rely on the libraries so much.
Councils should, in a nutshell, use them with their full permission.

422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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

  • Area libraries offer more than just booksNorthwest Herald (USA). “Part of the success of these libraries, as well as the others in McHenry County, no doubt has been due to a concerted effort to provide programming that appeals to the whole community. And they’ve embraced the very technology that was supposed to be their undoing. For instance, the Huntley library has added Nook and Sony e-readers that are available for checkout. It also has Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox360 games.”.  
  • Canadian library usage up 45% thanks to ebooks – Good E Reader (Canada).  “Lumos Research for the Canadian Urban Libraries Council has released new reports that are encouraging to the sustainability of the public library system in Canada. Across the country, library usage is up 45 per cent over the past decade, from 16.6 to 24.1 transactions on average per capita.” … “Despite the fact libraries are seeing record usage because of ebook lending, people are still visiting the actual location. The Grande Bibliotheque, like many new megalibraries across the globe, was designed to serve as a central meeting place.Not just to read, but to hold study groups, exhibitions and lectures. Berthiaume calls libraries one of those rare “third places” that is free to the public, and away from work and home.”
  • Checked out: big cuts in spending are forcing councils to re-examine how libraries work – Economist.   “Of all the cuts to public services, few have provoked such loud protests as proposals to close libraries” which has shocked councils including Oxfordshire.  6.7% decline in past five years masks 80% of population who consider libraries “very important” or “essential”.  So, stopped from closing libraries, councils are “stealthily” cutting them instead.  Other methods include giving libraries to trusts or using volunteers.  Merging managements of libraries looks promising.  Alternatively, some authorities are concentrating on one big library e.g. Birmingham, Norwich.  Cutting management and incrasing income has made Hillingdon popular.  “Libraries are not dead—just a little dusty”.
  • eHustings fro CILIP councillors 2012Wordshore.  “Question threads where the least number of candidates (in both cases, 3 out of the 6) replied: 1.What should a public library do or offer?, 2.e-books in libraries”
“Attitudes to Public Libraries in England”

“My library life started on a bookmobile and so I have never thought of libraries as buildings. They are a spirit in the community, a pervasive energy that touches everyone who acknowledges its presence.” Post on LinkedIn.  

Changes

 Local news

  • Bath and North East Somerset Mobile libraries could be cut as council aims to save £12 million – This is Bath.   Report “recommends consulting on cutting all mobile library services from April, because it would cost £180,000 to replace them.” … “However, the authority wants to invest in other library services, including £170,000 worth of funding for the relocation of Paulton Library”
  • Bedfordshire – Money saving tech to cost library jobs – Bedford Today.   Bedford Central Library being converted to self-service. “Dough McMurdo, portfolio holder for leisure and culture at Borough Hall said: “Many local authorities have been forced to make library closures, but despite severe budget constraints we are investing in our library service and have not closed any of our libraries.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Wisbech Library to host ten authors for book fair – Cambs Time 24.   “Alison Sutton, community and service co-ordinator at Wisbech Library, said: “Join us for a cup of tea and a mince pie, and have a look at the work of 10 authors, who will be available to sign what you buy. “There will also be a second-hand book sale if you want to stock up on your holiday reading.”
  • Camden – Hopes soar in battle to keep Chalk Farm, Belsize and Heath libraries open – Camden New Journal.    “All three libraries had “expressions of interest” lodged at the Town Hall by Monday’s deadline. The groups will be told if their bids are successful on December 20, but it now looks increasingly likely the three branches will remain open beyond April next year when council funding dries up.”
  • Conwy – Conwy’s libraries could be put in hands of the community – North Wales Weekly News.   “The council has approved recommendations that would see services in smaller communities move into schools or community centres. Volunteers would then be required to help run these facilities to keep services going.” … “I’m very delighted that Conwy’s councillors have decided to throw local libraries a lifeline after what has been a hard fought campaign,” he said. “Both Kinmel Bay and Cerrigydrudion have been defined as deprived areas in terms of educational attainment and income levels and it is therefore essential that these libraries receive extra protection from closure.””.  Welsh Government may intervene if Conwy does not improve soon… “If a decision is not made by July 2012, the [Welsh] government may use its powers under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to take over the management of Conwy’s library service.”
  • Highland – Service point to move to libraryNorth Star.  “Highland Council looks set to do an about-turn with its plans to move Invergordon library into the town’s service point. The council has revisited the proposal and is now recommending that the High Street service point relocates to the library.”
  • Northamptonshire – Library supporters want answers to budget plans – Herald & Post. The Friends of Irchester Library want some answers from the County Council. Today, a group of officers will meet a delegation from the group who want to know what funding is in place for the village facility during the 2012/13 financial year.” …”“It would be nice to know some sort of idea what they were expecting from the friends group.””
  • Surrey – Libraries announcement nothing but spin – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.   “The original library plan says that progress of the first tranche of volunteer libraries would be reviewed in April 2013, and then the second tranche would be subject to the same volunteer-run model. In his announcement, Hodge has given himself the perfect excuse (when the foreseeable Council Tax freeze is announced) to carry out the original plan to press on with the second tranche.”.  20% paid staffing for withdrawn libraries is old news too.  “It is very clear, therefore, that David Hodges announcement is simply a restatement of what is already in the plan. Hodge has misled Surrey residents in claiming that he has offered something new because he has “listened and learned”; he has done nothing of the sort.”
  • Wandsworth/Croydon – Council library services out to tender – This is Local London.  “Each proposal will be benchmarked against the service levels offered by the existing library teams. The move aims to generate savings through sharing overheads and buying power.” … ““Five years ago our options were limited but now there is a developing and competitive marketplace out there with a lot to offer. If an outsider can do a better job at a lower cost then we won’t be afraid to take the first step.”

 “Unfortunately, Wandsworth Council “forgot” to inform or consult those who are reluctantly volunteering at the York Gardens Library in order to keep it open.  If the Council give the contract to a profit making organisation, someone will be making a profit from those volunteer hours. So much for the “big society” – it could be big profits from poor suckers.”