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
  • Machias supervisor says, library’s cats have to go Neighbour to Neighbour News.  According to library personnel present, programs involving cats began in a library near Syracuse. The idea expanded and libraries are using cats as part of their learning and enrichment programs. They conveyed their disappointment to the board, and attempted to figure out a way to continue to keep their cats.”
  • National Libraries Day logo unveiled – BookSeller.  “Librarians are being encouraged to put on author talks or workshops showcasing what the library offers, while library users are urged to get all their friends and family members to join on the day, and involve themselves in locally organised activities. Everyone is being encouraged to find ways to express what libraries and librarians mean to them, whether by tweeting, making cards or producing videos or songs.”
Occupy your library December 15th 2011
December 15th is the two-month anniversary of the start of the global occupy movement. We started by occupying spaces to build communities. Now it’s time to occupy everywhere, and we ask you to join us.

We cannot imagine a fair, just world for all without public access to libraries. A right to free education can only be ensured by a society where access to information is free for all. Occupy Wall Street lost its library. They were robbed of their books and their space. We are outraged by their loss. We know how much it meant to the movement. And we do not accept the spending cuts that are threatening our public libraries in the UK. We want to reach out and link up across the nation, to join the Library Campaign in solidarity and common struggle – and we ask you to join us to make our voices heard in unison.

Occupy your library December 15th. And call for everyone in the community to do the same. Hold an assembly, discuss, talk to passers-by, invite the local newspaper… Do whatever feels appropriate. Let’s make our voices heard together, and flood the nation with actions for a social change. OccupyLSX can help with information about what we are doing, and will have a booklet on our website http://www.occupylondon.org.uk/ very soon.”

Changes

  • Camden – 12/12/11 official recommendations to council are: Belsize Library to be given to “The Winch” (to house library/cafe/nursery/room hire/work space), Chalk Farm to be given to Primrose Hill Community Association dependent on securing £1.2 million for trust fund, Heath Library to be given to Keats Community Library Phoenix Group as library with child/young people/literacy focus.  Council funding will be (first year) £192k given to groups taking over 3 libraries plus £150k for legal/financial advice for volunteers. 
  • Westminster Plans to allow residents/businesses to manage libraries.  

Local News 

  • Birmingham – Big City Read launched – Reading Groups.   “The Birmingham Big City Read was launched this week by S J Watson. Libraries in Birmingham are giving out 1000 copies of his novel Before I Go To Sleep to members of the public and to reading groups with the message to read it, review it and pass it on!”.
  • Brent – Fight to stop page turning on historic London library – Yahoo!. Kensal Rise: “Signs attached to the walls proclaim “Save our library” and “Let us run our library” and volunteers have even organised a temporary “pop-up” library next door to try to fill the gap, using books donated by local residents.”.  Amazing photograph of library bedecked in protest banners.  [Originally from AFP]
    • Where did the Ward Working money go? – Preston Library Campaign.  “In an era of cuts to libraries, disabled services and nurseries (to name a few), the council chose not to cut a whopping £800,000 Ward Working Fund, apparently designed to improve local areas. Just half of this could save all 6 local libraries, which more than 83% of the borough want kept open. Half of this Fund is actually spent on just admin, leaving around £20,000 per ward to be spent on essentials like flowerbeds and noticeboards.”
    • Willesden Green get another £500,000 as our libraries close – Preston Library Campaign.   “With Willesden Green library centre costing MORE than all 6 closed libraries put together, we all know where Ann John’s priorities lie. On top of the £550,000+ it spends on Willesden Green each year (which they will continue to spend even when it closes for redevelopment next spring), it turns out that Willesden Green alone will benefit from a £500,000 award from Boris Johnson’s Outer London Fund. As we lose libraries, nurseries and essential day centres for the disabled, Brent will spend this on an art installation in Willesden Green before Christmas.”
“I have books in my possession and I cannot get to the Town Hall or Kingsbury Libraries so easily. The Town Hall library is a 48 minute return walk. This figure does not include time in the library. I could use a bus which will cost me £2.60 return on an Oyster Card. I also have a back problem which limits the amount I can carry. The same journey time, carriage problems and transport costs apply to Kingsbury Plus Library. Now that we are Preston Library Minus, can you please advise me about returning my books and how your closures have improved the library service for me.” Now we are Preston Library Minus – Preston Library Campaign.

  • Camden – Future use of libraries – Camden Council.   “A report has been published recommending the future use of Belsize, Chalk Farm and Heath library buildings. As part of the library savings programme to meet the required savings of £1.6 million to the service, it was agreed by Cabinet that three libraries would be identified for alternative delivery or community use. Belsize, Chalk Farm and Heath libraries will no longer be Camden public libraries from April 2012.”
  • Croydon/Lambeth – More negotiation needed to save “much loved” Upper Norwood Library – Guardian series.   “Both councils fund the Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL) but while Lambeth claim Croydon want to end their association, Croydon has accused Lambeth of not meeting its obligations over the library. Last week, Lambeth rejected three options for the future of the library submitted by Croydon, which it said would ultimately mean the closure of the library.” … “Lambeth is suggesting for both councils hand over control, and potentially ownership, of the building to local community and library-user groups.”
  • Gloucestershire – Joint open letter to Ed Vaizey from library user groups – FoGL.  “Following the recent High Court ruling, and announcement of the select committee enquiry, it has been suggested that library user groups send a joint, open letter to the secretary of state Ed Vaizey MP, whose inaction on library cuts and closures is an ongoing cause for concern. We have penned a letter below. If your library user group would like to be included amongst the signatories, please leave the name of your group (how you would like it to appear on the letter) as a comment on this blog post before Monday 19th December. We will then add all the signatures and send the letter to Ed Vaizey. Please spread the word so as many groups as possible around the country can add their names.”
  • Oxfordshire – £1m library cuts set for approval – Henley Standard.  Long article looking into proposals to cut staffing but up to half and replace with volunteers.  Many, pessimistic, quotes from campaigners. “Ros Varnes, who chairs the Friends of Sonning Common Library, said: “We’re very disappointed. It’s not what we asked for. We said from the outset that the only fair way of dealing with this was to spread the cuts across the county’s library service, not single out ones for more cuts than others. We don’t think the council has really thought it through but they seem to be patting themselves on the back. “
  • Trafford – Campaigners to fight council plans to replace librarians with volunteers – Manchester Evening News.  “Now 23 community leaders – representing scores of different voluntary groups – have teamed up and sent an open letter to all councillors calling on them to scrap their ‘unpopular’ plans for the facility in Old Trafford. They have vowed not to co-operate with any move that would see paid roles scrapped and replaced by volunteers at the library. Among the signatures are ex-Inspiral Carpets frontman Tom Hingley, Joe Malaika from Trafford Peace Week and Barbara Bleeker of Trafford Volunteer Centre, currently up for a local volunteer of the year award.”
  • Warwickshire – A survey ends into Warwickshire library opening hours – BBC.   “By the end of the third week of consultation, 4,667 people had completed and returned a survey, according to the Council.”
  • Westminster – Council to draft “civic contracts” for benefit recipients Guardian.  “Unemployed people will have to prove they are actively volunteering in the community in order to qualify for certain welfare benefits and social housing under “civic contract” proposals drawn up by a Conservative local authority.”…”A series of big society-style “urban citizenship” proposals outlined in the document would give residents and local businesses the power to take over the running and management of public parks, libraries and streets, to create “strong unified neighbourhoods where civic responsibility prevails”.”