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.

See also “Special Report: A vision for a 21st Century Library?” post below.

News

  • Corporate profile: LSSI – Canadian Union of Public Employees. The most comprehensive report yet noted on the private libraries company LSSI.    Although an obviously biased source, the document provides much useful information and confirms the accusations of many that LSSI reduces staff costs.  Interesting piece on its political donations too.
  • Happy ending predicted – Courier.   “Goole and Brigg MP Andrew Percy proved the future of libraries was no laughing matter when he joined comedian and best selling author Tony Hawks and Libraries minister Ed Vaizey at the launch of the new Libraries Group in the Houses of Parliament. The Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was launched in the House of Commons with Andrew as the group’s Vice Chairman.”

    “Most contact for assessing an initial inquiry is currently face-to-face. I have not followed why, if someone accesses, say, a CAB, law centre or public library, the initial face-to-face inquiry that has already taken place cannot then be referred for another face-to-face discussion.” Lord Shipley in House of Lords debate on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill via They Work For You.

    • Library campaigners hunt the Secretary of StateSpectator.  The battle in Brent is symbolic because it is the most prominent in the country — defeat for Brent is a defeat for library campaigners in general. The Brent team has renewed its calls for the secretary of state, Jeremy Hunt, to intervene under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act: an indication that it might not pursue further costly legal action, although leave to appeal to the Supreme Court may yet be sought.” … “…there is little point in having statutory duties if they are not applied.”
    “The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is thought to be wary of intervention for fear of contradicting the government’s decentralisation agenda.  The government insists that it does not need to use its statutory powers because local cuts are an exclusive competence of councils under the 2011 Localism Act. It says that there are alternatives to library closures; and it has branded those councils that are substantially reducing services as ‘politically motivated’. ”

    • Love Libraries badges – Love Libraries.  Get your groovy buttons and magnets saying “love libraries” for some serious campaigning action in 2012.  
    • National Libraries Day official website – The site has now been launched, including a map of events, ideas, logos, links [great to see Voices for the Libraries at number one and Public Libraries News at number two – thanks NLD team! – Ed.], social media options, quotes and testimonials from supporters, a forum, news.
    • New shadow libraries minister condemns closures – BookSeller.  “Recently appointed shadow libraries minister Dan Jarvis has condemned “mindless closures” of libraries and said that now more than ever is the time to harness the opportunities libraries offer and use them as “ladders of social mobility and personal development”.  Jarvis’ words come as an open letter criticising culture minister Ed Vaizey’s inaction over closures, signed by many prominent authors, was delivered to the minister by the Friends of Gloucester Libraries campaign group.”
    • North Yorkshire/Doncaster/Leeds/Wakefield – Yorkshire Library volunteers prepare New Year takeover – Look North BBC (Video).  “Hundreds of volunteers are preparing to take over libraries across Yorkshire in the New Year as councils continue to make tens of millions of pounds of cuts. Some libraries have already closed, while dozens of others will only survive if local residents come forward to run them. Unpaid volunteers and charity groups in places like Denby Dale and Rawdon in West Yorkshire and Bawtry in South Yorkshire are now being trained to take charge.”
    • Open Letter attracts 456 signatures – Alan Gibbons.   “The letter expresses library users’ shared dissatisfaction with Mr Vaizey’s execution of his duties to superintend public library services, in the face of closures and service reductions of an unprecedented scale nationwide”. Very impressive list of signers.
    • Things to cut before closing libraries –  A whole humorous website on the issue.  So far, Big Society “experiments”, professional portraits of councillors, councillor expenses and County Halls.  You know the situation is bad when there’s a website on this…
    • Unhappy feet – BookSeller.  Examines the depressed usage figures for Lewisham’s withdrawn libraries.  “I would be the first to say that the quality of a library service should not be assessed solely on the number of books issued. But a decrease of this magnitude indicates that community management of public libraries simply does not work. It may be too early to judge the success of this experiment, but it looks like the good people of Lewisham have voted—with their feet.” … ” public libraries must stay democratically accountable, publicly funded and free at the point of need.”
    “I agree with the comments made by Patricia Richardson. I am a Lewisham resident and have visited three of the “community” lbraries. Like has in no sense been replaces by like either regarding stock or quality of advice. I do not regard such facilities as true libraries. I was shocked to see the statistics.”

    Changes

    Caerphilly Blackwood library opens again after £215k upgrade.  
    Gloucestershire – Redundancy payments for staff in 2011 cost £1 million.
    Surrey Campaigners considering legal action.   
    Worcestershire – Woodrow Library to merge with One Stop Shop, Redditch Library to have other services moving in, possibility of closing then renting out one floor, self-service

    Local News

    • Brent – R (Bailey) v. Brent: law against the cuts (and politics) – Head of Legal.  The council argued that the closures were not intrinsically liable to affect Asian people more than anyone else, and I suspect this may be the answer, or something like it, though none of the judges seems to have agreed. In any event, though, the real complaint about the closures has nothing whatever to do with race discrimination – which is what lends this case a distinctly straw-clutching unreality.” … “We have to accept, in a democracy, that politicians will make decisions we don’t like. If we can’t, and instead turn increasingly to tactical legalism in effect as a replacement for politics, we’ll deserve a less political, more centralised and less democratic society.”
    • Brighton and Hove – Mental health services to move to libraries? – Argus.  “Providing activities, group meetings and other support in different locations around Brighton and Hove is being considered as part of a consultation on the future of community mental health in the city.”
    • Caerphilly – Blackwood Library reopens after £215k revamp – Campaign.  “The library underwent an impressive refurbishment and now has a completely redesigned interior with new furniture, shelving, lighting, decoration and improved provision for disabled library users. The facelift was funded through a £94,000 grant from the Welsh Government via CyMAL – the body responsible for museums, archives and libraries in Wales.” 
    • Camden – Progress for the future community use of library buildings – Camden Council.   Details of the “winners” of bids for withdrawn libraries: “Officers will work with the three organisations to further develop their proposals and in particular ensure that they are able to put in place a strong sustainable financial proposal by the end of January 2012.  Providing the necessary work has been completed, the Council will then be able to finalise arrangements for the future use of the buildings.”
    • Gloucestershire – Redundant Gloucestershire librarians back on payroll – BBC.  Libdem opposition councillor says This is a fine example of the shambles in the way the council has handled the matter. The whole review looks like it has been worked out on the back of a fag packet” … Council says “These workers were recruited to expand the numbers on the casual relief register specifically to cover these opening hours under the terms of the injunction issued on 7 July 2011, whilst waiting for the full judicial review hearing”.
    • Hertfordshire – Petition to save school libraries launchedRoyston Crow.   ““This has all happened at very short notice, it was kept pretty quiet. The agenda item was added late, so we’ve tried to do what we can.””
      • Closure confirmed for Hertfordshire School Library Service – BookSeller.   “”The library service offers expert advice and support to schools on a traded basis, and it is expected to cover its costs,” he said. “In recent years, fewer and fewer schools have been buying into the service – only a third of secondary schools and 43% of primary schools now choose to buy in, with others finding alternative provision. This means that, despite restructuring in 2010, the service is running at a deficit and is no longer viable.”
    • Kent – So who has stepped forward and offered to run library services in Kent? – INFOism.  Council appears to be unsure if parish councils have expressed interest in running libraries or not.  No formal submissions of interest have been received.
    “Meanwhile, it is certainly worth showing a bit of love and appreciation to your local library staff over the festive season.  Morale is at an all-time low with many library workers across the county fearing for their jobs with cuts and closures just around the corner.  Not helped, of course, by those at the top failing to consider the impact their decisions will have on those who are serving on the ‘frontline’.  Times are hard for library workers across the county, it would mean a lot to them to know that the public are on their side.” 

    • Surrey – Campaigners take legal steps over libraries – Get Surrey.  Representatives of the Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM) claimed the authority’s plans for 10 sites to become volunteer-run or face being shut fell short of its obligations to provide the county’s residents with library facilities. SLAM said it was reluctant to take legal action but had already gathered “a mountain of evidence” and conducted talks with lawyers.”
      • Slam legal action – SLAM.   “We need someone to come forward that qualifies for legal aid and that would be willing to be involved in the legal action. The level of involvement in preparation for the case is discretionary: we are more than prepared to do all the work necessary and we will fully protect the person, but if the person wants to be more involved then we are certainly happy to work in any way that the person is comfortable with. Legal aid criteria basically comes down to how much capital a person holds (the limit is currently £8,000).”
      • Nine Surrey libraries to be saved: ten still face uncertain future – Eagle Radio.  
    • Worcestershire – Library review will see staff and opening hours cutRedditch Standard.   “Between 28 and 30 full-time jobs will be lost across Worcestershire under the plan, which will also see Redditch Borough Council’s One Stop Shop merge with Woodrow Library to cut costs. It is also planned to bring other council and non-council run services into Redditch Library while other options such as closing a floor of the Market Place building to rent out and shutting the library for at least one day a week are also being looked at. In future it is likely both libraries will open for periods when they are not manned by staff but residents will still be able to use the self-service machines.”.  Charges will also go up.
    “We believe this two pronged approach can actually protect both libraries, so we are not weakening both to save both, I actually think you strengthen both by working with others, so I actually see it as a positive not a negative. There’s no proposal on the table to close the main Redditch Library and no proposal on the table to close Woodrow Library so the main outcome of all this is we can still offer a library service to both communities”