Comment
“Please encourage individuals, as well as campaign groups, to write to the Select Committee before 12th January describing the impact that library closures have on residents and communities.  The committee needs to hear from library users and not just the voices of council chiefs and DCMS bureaucrats. It is often the personal experiences of individual library users, young or old, which resonates most with members of the Committee. The Committee also needs to hear the experiences of campaign groups in dealing with their Council, the DCMS and the MLA in trying to get their voices heard and their concerns addressed.” Desmond Clarke, veteran library campaigner.
Details on how to write to the Select Committee are available on this webpage.  See also this previous post for some of my thoughts on the subject.  If you’re reading Public Libraries News then you care about libraries and want the best for them – and this may be the most significant thing you can do to help safeguard them in 2012. 
423 libraries (333 buildings and 90 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

  • Library vs. the mobile - Christopher Fowler’s Blog.   “Louise Robinson, the new president of the Girls’ Schools Association, says that smartphones and tablets are about to take over from reading books, partly because children will be able to access information more easily in their spare time.” … “a danger that anything on the printed page will be regarded with the horror the young have of the old or old-fashioned. There’s nothing as conservative as a young mind, and books could easily end up relegated to Oxfam shops and old folks’ homes.”

Changes

Local News

  • Bolton – Council leader warns further cuts may comeBolton News.  Reading between the lines, it looks like the Council may be considering further cuts to a library service that is already closing five out of fifteen branches. 
  • Brent – Campaigners held back by police as Preston Library is clearedHarrow Observer.  Protesters who have fought tooth and nail in a bid to save 50 per cent of Brent’s libraries are being held back by police today as council workers begin clearing books. Around ten members of the Brent SOS campaign group are gathered outside Preston Library and have no choice but to stand and watch as staff begin emptying the building.”.  Seven police on scene.  Campaigners say library should be kept as is due to moves being made to appeal to Supreme Court.  Also in Willesden and Wembley Observer.
“We are trying to obstruct the way but the police are moving us. I feel that Brent Council is showing contempt to the legal process and the community who have shown how much they need their local library by doing this.”

    • Police protect Council as it seizes library stock - GreenFeed.   “The following was posted by Jessica Thompson of the Willesden and Wembley Observer at 11am this morning. When I visited the library this afternoon there was no one outside and the gate in the hoardings was closed.”
    • Preston Library cleared - BookSeller.   “Library campaigners on watch outside Brent’s Preston Library cried “Shame on you” as books and computers were cleared from the building by council workers today (29th December), with police in attendance. Vans arrived at 9.30am to begin clearing the library of its contents. Local campaigners had been on intermittent vigil outside the library building over the Christmas holiday, with a Christmas tree on display decorated with children’s book characters.”
  • Camden – Surviving library cuts: volunteer’s bids accepted, but now the hard part!Camden New Journal.  “Town Hall has confirmed bids have been accepted to run three libraries – Chalk Farm, Belsize and Heath – which the council can no longer afford to operate. The groups involved now have until April to finalise their plans. But to make ends meet, branches are looking at innovative ways to raise funds – prompting fears that the core library services of book-borrowing and providing a place to read and work will fall by the wayside.” … ” the council will gift the branches around £250,000 worth of books, chairs and desks. Including transitional support, the cost in total of the handover is estimated at around £300,000″
  • Central Bedfordshire – Have your say on future of libraries - Comet.   “… three weeks left to have their say on the future of libraries in Central Bedfordshire through a public consultation.”.. ““The aim of the Future of Libraries consultation is to help improve the services which libraries currently offer, making them modern and even more accessible to the community.”
  • Gloucestershire – Painswick group plans to run a community library - BBC.   Painswick Library closed in 2009, room in Town Hall may be used for library if funding won from council.  Organiser says “My wife and I do extensive amounts of reading and also we are involved in a number of activities where it has become quite apparent that having a library in the community is of very great importance to older people and particularly to families with children.” The chairman of Painswick Parish Council, Terry Parker, said there had been quite a lot of reaction to the closure of the previous library and as to why the listed building had not been better maintained.”
  • Scottish Borders – Libraries merger approvedBerwickshire News.   ““This is not primarily a cost-cutting exercise. However, by bringing libraries and contact centre services together we can secure savings and retain the full range of services delivered from library and contact centres to ensure that both stay locally available. The Library and Information Service restructure will modernise the service and result in the development and improvement of both the quality and range of services offered to the public.”
  • Somerset – Garfield’s big effort to save the libraries - This is Somerset.   “… without a doubt, the biggest – and most successful – campaign this year was the one to save Shepton Mallet library.” …  Cllr Kennedy was one of the campaigners behind a pro-libraries video including Julian Fellows and Michael Eavis: “The film We Love Libraries became, on Love our Libraries Day throughout the UK, the most shared video in YouTube’s non-profit video category section.” … “So for all his work helping save the libraries the campaigner of the year award must go to Councillor Garfield Kennedy.”