… where you can join with such luminaries like Dr Steve Jones, Robin Ince, Yann Martel, Julia Donaldson, Geraldine McCaughrean, Simon Singh, Chris Addison, Marcus Brigstocke, Rovert Swindells, Alan Gibbons and Paul Geraghty.  Wow. The Minister supposedly-for-libraries will actually have to actively avoid this one, which will sadly be the most energetic he hasbeen in relation to public libraries during his whole time in office.  The link to the letter is here.

“The Last Chapter?” headline incidentally has nothing to do with Ed Vaizey.  Well, not today, anyway.  It is to do with Alan Yentob’s BBC1 documentary on ebooks. 

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

  • Campaigners urge Vaizey: “It’s time to act” – BookSeller.  The letter, posted on the site of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries has already been endorsed by Campaign for the Book; Surrey Libraries Action Movemen; Hertfordshire group We ♥ Libraries; The Friends of the Isle of Wight Library Service; campaigners in Brent; and authors including Jamila Gavin.”.  Amazing list of supporters on this site.
“Next year I’m planning a John O’Groats to Land’s End libraries tour.  It’s an attempt to celebrate libraries, which in many areas are currently suffering cuts and closures.  Along with thousands of other campaigners, I see these as being a threat to the whole population and, in particular, to the children who are the adult readers of the future.”  Julia Donaldson, Radio Times 17-30 December

Imagine: Books the last chapter? - BBC One.  Alan Yentob pronounces the printed word dead and looks at the ways ebooks will change things forever.  While not entirely pro digital, there is a strong feeling that the battle is over, which will comes as a shock to the majority of the nation that still uses printed books.  Libraries have two moments – one at the beginning where a Norfolk mobile library assistant comments that one person [out of how many? - Ed.] asked about how to access ebooks and then was not seen again.  The second comment is half way through when a publisher comments that without bookshops and without libraries there won’t be a chance for serendipity.  The dominance of Amazon, Google and Apple in books is also described.  There is then an interview with a “digital librarian” who is aiming to digitise all books but to also keep a printed copy just in case. This comment (from the wonderful Gloucestership open letter) is from a Norfolk mobile library user:

“I live in the middle of nowhere in Norfolk, and the library van which visits the village once every three weeks is a very welcome sight in a place that has no shops, no public transport, and only cows for company! Reading enriches people’s lives, and libraries have for so long offered a wonderful avenue for the imaginations of readers of all ages and persuasions. Any closure of this service is a sad step towards a society where people are no longer informed, enlightened or even entertained by the wonder of books and the other services that libraries offer.”

  • Libraries we love calendarLulu.  Pictures of beautiful libraries and quotes for librarians.
  • Private company to run Osceola County libraries - My Fox Orlando (USA).   “The county will pay Library Systems and Services, L.L.C. [LSSI] $24 million over the next five years, but those in favor of outsourcing management of the libraries say the move will end up saving the county $6 million over the same time period.”

Changes

Blaenau Gwent – 2 mobile libraries under threat.
Hertfordshire – School Library Service to be closed Spring 2012 to save £41,000 p.a.. 12 staff will be made redundant.
Oxfordshire – 16 libraries (to be half-staffed by volunteers) will no longer be considered statutory.  

Local News

  • Bath and Northeast Somerset – Local libraries: have your say todayThis is Somerset. “The Council is running a public consultation with library users, communities, businesses and town and parish councils to gauge opinions on proposals for how the service could be delivered in light of reductions in government funding.”
  • Blaenau Gwent – To decide fate of mobile libraries - South Wales Argus.   “A report which went before the local authority’s education and leisure scrutiny committee last week said the home delivery service caters for 196 housebound and visually impaired customers and is highly regarded by users. However, the mobile library – which serves communities more than two miles away from a library building and visits 36 stops a week – has falling visitor and loan numbers.”
  • Brent – Legal fees double for Brent library closures - London Evening Standard.  “Campaigners said they were “shocked” after the bill for defending the closures increased from £70,500 in September to £150,000. Another £258,000 has been spent on sacking staff and redundancy payments.”
  • Cornwall – Users consulted on Cornwall’s performing arts library - BBC.   “In 2010, Cornwall Library Service was told the department would have to find savings of up to £1.5m. One of its supporters, David Frost, who runs the St Mewan Sinfonia string orchestra, has described the library as being central to Cornwall’s cultural life.”
  • Gloucestershire – Campaigners’ outrage at leader’s meeting noshow - Stroud News and Journal.  Campaigner Johanna Anderson, of the Friends, said that GCC’s plan to reveal its new set of proposals in January ‘seemed very rushed.’ She also said the Friends had worked hard to organise the public meeting at a neutral venue and with a neutral chairman. We cannot understand why a meeting to be held only a month before this date could be deemed as ‘premature’,” she said.”
    • Mr Vaizey, you know you did nothing, now what? - FoGL.   “Following our vindication at the High Court, we at Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries are very angry that, even when there were concerns shared between officers within the MLA and DCMS and even after we had set out time and again the clear inadequacy of Gloucestershire County Council’s Library cuts, Ed Vaizey did nothing. Ed Vaizey and Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt failed in their duty to superintend the county council and allowed it to continue with “unlawful” library cuts. We have written to Mr Vaizey asking him why and asking him to act now”.  Long letter detailing situation so far and lack of action by DCMS.
  • Hertfordshire – School library support service axed in Hertfordshire - Welwyn Hatfield Times.  Currently, nearly half of all county primary schools and a third of secondary schools have an annual subscription. Many more are signed to a pay-as-you-use service. On Wednesday, the council’s libraries cabinet panel voted 8-3 to scrap the service – estimated to lose £41,000 next year. Its recommendation is due to be rubberstamped by the cabinet on Monday.”
    • Decision taken after Tory Hertfordshire county councillors forecast £50,000 deficit - Review.  “The move by the Conservative-dominated committee was attacked by Liberal Democrat opposition councillors who said the council should be encouraging children to have more access to books, not less.”. Council responds ” “It is just plain wrong and misleading there won’t be the loss of any school books or the closure of any school libraries.”
  • Lewisham – Visits and lending plummet at Lewisham community libraries - News Shopper.  “Sir Ian Mills from Age Exchange, who claimed visits had risen in November, said: “We’re determined to get the figures up. “We’ve very much in transition. It’s the beginning of what’s going to be an [council] investment which will see us have at least as good a library as we’ve had before.”” … Eco Computers says “”People should be judging us a year after we’ve taken over. Let’s look at the figures in March.”
  • Northamptonshire – County Council publish four-year budgetEvening Telegraph.   “…it is asking the people of Northamptonshire to come forward and volunteer to help deliver some of the council’s key services to save taxpayers money and to take advantage of opportunities the council provides to help people help themselves.”… “To help us bring costs down for example we need volunteers to help at libraries and to help at country parks.”
    • Huge savings must be made as Northamptonshire County Council faces financial black hole – Northampton Chronicle.  “The county council has left library services alone for the time being although savings of £290,000 will need to be made by April 2013 to avoid possible further cuts.”
    • Northants needs you: Local Deal needs volunteers – About My Area.   ““Within this budget itself there are lines which specifically throw a spotlight on this need – most noticeably the work going on in libraries – but the need for volunteers and people getting involved in services is not always just shown in budget lines, it runs across so much of our organisation. “So whether its volunteering to work within your local library, whether its donating to help run extra services at these community hubs, whether its looking to use the grit bins in your communities to help grit your local paths or whether its simply to make sure you pay to park at our country parks – this work is vital to keep our county going through this very difficult time.”
  • Oxfordshire – Library groups seek legal adviceOxford Mail.   “Save Oxfordshire Libraries chairman Judith Wardle told the Oxford Mail: “There will be a number of Friends groups that will say ‘no way’ to volunteering. Of all the responses to the consultation, there was not a single Friends group that thinks it could do it.” Library campaigners said they would ask lawyers to examine whether the council’s consultation and methodology of determining which libraries provide the statutory “comprehensive and efficient service” were legal.”
“Libraries are things of the past, as are those people who keep harking on about them. Libraries, free school milk, high street shops, cheques, postal orders, seaside postcards; they all belong in a bygone age. It’s sad but it’s a fact.”

    • Scrutiny and democracyQuestion Everything.  “Only at the end of the consultation process did they start using the phrases “statutory” and “non-statutory” libraries. They made no mention of this to the people being asked to consult on the proposal. People would have been up in arms if they realised that the position of the council was they weren’t obliged under their interpretation of the act to provide these rural libraries. What we are left with a fudge that I don’t believe saves any money. I am going to be forced to volunteer my time knowing that the “savings” are not savings at all and the money they have made from cutting the staffing to our library will going into the cost of the self service machines, volunteer coordinator and training the volunteers.”
“I actually cried when I got a lift from the train station. I am 5.10, 14 1/2 stone and from the North and I cried.  I have my own personal reasons for loving libraries, I might write a post on it one day. They really have no idea about what libraries are for.”

    • Volunteers to keep Oxfordshire libraries open - BBC.  “Judith Wardle, chair of Save Oxfordshire Libraries, said: “They haven’t really addressed the fact that so many groups around the county said they could not find the volunteers that would be needed. We are concerned they weren’t willing to put into place some kind of contingency plan.”
  • Suffolk – Final decision expected on Suffolk library plans - EDP.   “A meeting of the county council is expected to endorse the cabinet’s decision to set up an industrial and provident society (IPS) to take over the running of the library service and its 44 libraries.” … “Mrs Terry said the council accepted that it would take some time for people to understand the new way of operating and get to grips with the idea of more local control.”
  • Trafford – Responses to our open letter - HOOT Library.  Several politicians, including MPs and councillors, respond to Trafford’s proposals of replacing library staff with volunteers.
  • Worcestershire – Future of Catshill Library to be discussed by Worcestershire County Council - Birmingham Mail.   “Councillors will be discussing the progress of the county-wide library service review so far and a recommendation will be made to consult on the future of nine libraries included in the first phase”… “If backed by Cabinet, discussions will take place with the parish council and Catshill Middle School on a proposal that could see a refurbished library and services collection relocated to the school and managed by Bromsgrove Library as part of the County’s Libraries and Learning Service.”