Comment

The result of the Brent appeal against the halving of it’s borough’s libraries will be announced on Monday.  Meanwhile, Brent Council has made clear what it thinks of the campaigners by awarding the people behind closing the libraries with the “team of the year” award.  A library campaigner said:
“We will certainly remember the Libraries Transformation Team as the team of the year but not the for the right reasons. Maybe the award should have gone to the library staff and other council staff who have lost their jobs.”

The decisions of the team have not only resulted in increased unemployment and the greatest public protest in Brent for a century or more, for they have failed also on their own terms of saving money: 
“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.” London Evening Standard, 13.12.11

That name of the team, “Transformation”, kind of sticks in the craw as well.  It’s a wonderfully positive way of describing something that would more accurately be described as “cutting”.  Or “destruction”. 
Or “boarding up”.
As a final pat on the back for a job well done to the Libraries Disappearance Team, the council said “the awards are given to recognise colleagues who have worked hard in difficult circumstances or gone over and above what would normally be expected”.  My goodness me, with successes like this, it makes me wonder about 2012….  Ed Vaizey, don’t look too smug but it looks like it’s in the bag for 2012.
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.

If you haven’t already done so, please add your name to this open letter to Ed Vaizey

News

  • 15 key insights from 2011 from 15 key thinkers and writers – Forbes (USA).  “The most exciting intellectual moment of 2011 for me was learning that People’s Libraries were at the heart of the various Occupy movement camps. The idea that knowledge and culture should be freely-available and widely-shared amongst those who want access to them is incredibly appealing. The spontaneous creation of these libraries against a backdrop of public library closures is a sign of hope. The destruction of nearly 3,000 books in the Zuccotti Park raid only reinforced the power of this idea”
“Today, at the age of 91, Ray Bradbury is alarmed by the service, staff, and budget cuts being thrust at library directors across the country, and the world, for that matter. In the last several years, he has written letters to municipal leaders, he has even gone to libraries to protest service cuts and branch closings. Bradbury has always gotten it. Libraries are the greatest educational institutions in the world. And they always have been. Libraries have always been at the center of the greatest civilizations throughout history from Ancient Egypt to Ancient Greece to the present.” For the Love of Libraries: Listen to the Echoes (USA).

  • Hip, loud and sociable? A new wave of “library labs” – Impatient Optimists.  “Libraries still provide the kind of services that people have been using for decades: they offer comfortable spaces to learn, help people research important issues, and they loan books and music. But libraries are also high-tech hubs where a third of Americans—including millions of teens—go regularly to goonline, ask for guidance about how to use technology, and take classes that help them prepare for success in today’s digital world.”
  • Library says no guns Wisconsin Dell Events (USA).   “”I’m quite comfortable with saying no weapons and posting that sign the insurance company said about we can’t guarantee that nobody’s going to kill you,” he said.”. “Member Gisela Hamm said if someone comes to the library with a gun they should politely be asked to leave. Borck said if someone came to the library with a gun, the library would probably summon police whether or not they had a sign. Hamm said she thought the rules for getting a concealed carry permit made it so easy to carry a weapon that any “idiot” could get one. 

Changes

Ealing Perivale £400k upgrade (saved from closure this year), Hanwell will have £900k essential improvements.  50 volunteers assist.
Surrey – Group:  Tattenhams Community Library.  
Worcestershire – 30 staff to lose jobs, £1.8m cut, opening hours reduced, charges increase, more self-service (90% target), less bookfund, more co-locationMobile library review

Local News

  • Bath and Northeast Somerset – Midsomer Norton residents have say in local librariesMidsomer Norton People.  “The consultation will ask for views on proposals including saving £159,000 by withdrawing the mobile library service in Bath and North East Somerset and moving resources into increasing the opening hours of the Council’s part-time libraries across the district and extending the Home Library Service. “
  • Bolton – First library in council cuts to close its doors – Bolton News.  Highfield Library in Farnworth, will shut on Friday, January 13, with the neighbourhood collection opening the following Monday.” … Computer in children’s centre will allow issuing of books from small stock there, others can be ordered.
  • Brent – Libraries decision expectedHarrow Observer.   Result of the appeal against the decision to uphold the closures of half of the borough’s library expected at 2pm on Monday.  “A Brent SOS spokesman said: “Dinah Rose QC argued on behalf of library users and Brent SOS Libraries Campaign that in deciding to close six libraries, the council had failed to prevent discrimination against groups such as Asians, young children and local school children, by neglecting to assess the impact on such groups.”
    • Appeal verdict expected Monday 2pm at the High Court, the Strand – Preston Library Campaign.  “Using the very same data that the council executive used to decide to close the libraries, Dinah Rose showed that 28% of Brent’s population is Asian and that 46% of active library users were Asian, so it was obvious that the closure of the libraries would disproportionately affect Asian residents. She also showed that the highest concentrations of Asian populations in the borough were concentrated around three libraries – Preston, Barham and Tokyngton – all of which were closed. She had evidence to show that since closure, the library that users of these three libraries were expected to use instead – Ealing Road – was overcrowded.”
    • Library closure team honoured at Brent council awards ceremony – Times series.  “rent Council’s end-of-year achievement awards has caused outcry after the team behind the project which resulted in half of the borough’s libraries closing was named Team of the Year.” 
    • Guardian, Society Daily – Library campaigners in north-west London, who are planning to sing carols tonight. They’ll be gathering at the green on Preston Road, Wembley, at 5pm before walking to Preston Road. They are highlighting Brent council’s decision to close six of its 12 libraries, a decision the Brent SOS Libraries group is challenging in the high court, and they’ve even written their own words to the carol We Three Kings, which begins:
We need our libraries – local they are,
Now we’ll have to travel afar
Traffic, parking
Drive us barking.
Paying to park the car.” 

  • Ealing – Perivale library to get a £400,000 facelift – Ealing Gazette.  “Perivale library is to get an over-due £400,000 refurbishment five months after it was saved from closure.Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for community services, told a full council meeting on Tuesday how the 1930s building, in Horsenden Lane South, would get the cash injection in the new year. Hanwell library is also due to receive £900,000 to make essential improvements to the dated buildings.” … “Funding will come from the recovered £2million invested in an Icelandic bank, thought lost during the financial crisis.  Mr Dheer said more than 50 volunteers had stepped up to help run the libraries at a reduced cost, while all 40 Labour councillors will volunteer at a large reading event in March.”
  • Gloucestershire – Public meeting on future of Gloucestershire library service: report from an attendee – FoGL.   Summary of meeting including questions for council unanswered as it refused to attend.
    • Library campaigners ready for next chapter – Cotswold Journal.  “The group has come up with a template on how it thinks the county council should undertake its new library review – which will start in the new year.”
  • Hertfordshire – Children’s author Michael Morpurgo makes plea to save schools library services – Times Series.  “Morpurgo, a former Children’s Laureate who was born in St. Albans, wrote to Hertfordshire council hoping the letter will be read out at a meeting on Monday, before the decision is ratified. He wrote: “Every year I come to Hertfordshire to talk to your children about writing, to try to inspire them to find their own writing voice, and to encourage them to read.”
  • Scottish Borders – Chapter closes as local library protest fails – Peeblesshire News.   “Innerleithern campaigners have hit out after councillors forged ahead with plans to merge libraries and contact centres.”… “Campaigners opposed to the move raised a petition which drew over 1000 signatures. But the Peeblesshire protest was largely ignored.” … “”The report estimates that the proposals will cost £360,000 to carry out, and their estimate that the savings made will recoup this cost within three years are based on assumptions such as finding buyers for vacated council property …It is likely that the cost will take far more than three years to recoup. There is no saving in the short or even the medium term.” 
  • Surrey – County Council U turn on library emails – Eagle Radio.   Emails from library campaigners to councillors will not longer ber automatically blocked.  “A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “We have to be strong enough to recognise when we have got something wrong and in this case we have. We value people’s views and Mr Alsop’s emails will now arrive straight into inboxes, instead of councillors having the option of opening them. People’s opinions are always considered when a decision is made and this was the case with the recent decision to change the libraries policy, which was heavily informed by the opinions of library users.”
    • Libraries appeal for volunteers ahead of library shake up – This is Local London.   “Three libraries desperate to stay open are appealing for volunteers as Surrey County Council continues its plans to replace full time staff with volunteers. Ewell Court, Stoneleigh and Tattenhams are three of 10 Surrey libraries which will be handed over to volunteers next year.”
  • Worcestershire – Library staff to lose jobs in council cut backs – Worcester News.  “While Droitwich Library has already been transformed to accommodate other services such as Age Concern and Jobcentre Plus plans are underway to deliver a community-led library with the parish council, police and other partners in Broadway and move Bewdley’s facility in the museum/ Guildhall complex as part of a wider regeneration scheme including the creation of a new medical centre.”
“At a meeting of cabinet yesterday county councillor Liz Tucker, who represents Pershore, said there was “real shock and anger” in the town when it looked like the library was moving but town councillor Chris Parsons said the 11 months of discussion and negotiation had been worth the effort. “It’s been a difficult time but this is a wonderful example of how a little town council like Pershore’s can work with the might of the county council to hopefully achieve success,” he said.”

    • Staff could go in Worcestershire council libraries plan – BBC.   “About 30 staff could be laid off next year and opening hours reduced under proposals to cut a council’s libraries budget by £1.8m. Charges for late books will rise, with less spent on new books, under plans by Worcestershire County Council.”
    • Talks to determine Catshill’s future – Bromsgrove Standard.   “Council chiefs will now begin discussions with the parish council and Catshill Middle School on a proposal that could see a refurbished library and services collection relocated to the middle school.”