Comment

There’s an art to getting the best possible spin on a piece of bad news.  In this, hats off to Warwickshire Council who have so successfully spun the closure of Budworth Heath Library that the news article on it is about a new “Honesty Library” opening.  This is the latest wheeze which not only gets rid of staff but also, seemingly, gets rid of the need for volunteers as well.  1500 books have been placed within the community centre with no security and no way of checking them in or out.  People just take what they want and return what they want.  Fantastically, for the local councillor concerned, the newspaper reports only the positive sides of this, dwelling on the handy car parking.  Closing a library and dumping 1500 books into a local community centre?  It’s all upside, no downside.  Think positive, people.  Even the Big Society is in danger of looking old hat with this one.

The embarrassment that is the continued attempt by Croydon to blame Lambeth for Croydon’s decision to withdraw funding from Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL – funded equally by both councils) continues it fairly tragic path.  The story is complex but, basically, the library serves an area of Croydon which now has no Conservative councillors, Croydon refused to send non-Conservative ones to a vital meeting, Labour-run Lambeth refused to accept the Conservative ones as they weren’t local, Croydon accused Lambeth of breaking the joint agreement becuase of this … and so a well-loved and efficient library is in danger.  Strong suspicions abound that Croydon are using any excuse to save money: they’re also keen on privatising/outsourcing the libraries that they solely own.  In a familiar turn of events, faced with the alternative of closure, people are start looking towards running it themselves. Despite the best efforts of the supporters of the library (with a 800 name petition being handed in a couple of days ago), this story is starting to look more like a tragedy than anything else.

Correction

Quite a few library services with SCL committee members (see Sunday’s post) have been pointing out that  they are doing events for National Libraries Day.  One, interestingly, has said that “our target audience is local people, not national campaign-followers, but all are welcome”.  While one wonders if the National Libraries Day map is really just for library campaigners,  it’s great news that the day is not being oddly ignored.  So far, I have seen mention of events in  Brighton, Newcastle and the Tri-Borough (the new joint library service for Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster).  We hope for Kent but no news from any events from there.  Of course, no library I am aware of is doing as much as Preston Library (Brent) which is now officially closed but whose campaigners are not letting that stop them.

407 libraries (318 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 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.

Can you help…?

News

  • Adventures of Conan the Librarian – Open Democracy.  “What is a public library for? Costa coffee and “bums on seats”? or the promise of a better world? The managerialised nightmare of a London council’s cost-cutting misunderstandings is glimpsed at through the deep stacks by a not-yet-defeated librarian and idealist”
  • Cost of illiteracy to UK “tops £81bn each year” – London Evening Standard.   “People who cannot read earn lower salaries, create less wealth for the nation and use more government money, says a report published today by the World Literacy Foundation. Six million UK adults are functionally illiterate, meaning they cannot read a medicine bottle or food labels or fill out a job application, it states. The research reveals that an illiterate adult will earn at least 30 per cent less than someone who can read.”
  • Creative people and places fund  opens for applicationsArts Council England.  “The Arts Council has today (30 January 2012) launched a new £37 million fund to ensure more people living in places where levels of involvement are currently low, experience and are inspired by the arts.”  Offer is open to libraries. 
  • MP makes eleventh hour plea to save music library as axe looms – Yorkshire Post.  David Ward MP tries to save the regions’s music library from closure.

“Did you read a lot when you were a kid? “Yeah! I did love the library. I liked a lot of those fantasy books, I liked Lord Of The Rings – anything that involved fantasy. I was really into it. I loved that, as well as Tintin, Asterix – I found those really interesting, for some strange reason. It was a combination of that. I liked the library. I suppose I didn’t have the opportunity to go out and do a lot of activities so the library was my haven. My haven away from home.”.  Their Library: Ghostpoet: Literary influences explored – Clash Music.

“Forget Burns night and St Valentine’s day. All things considered, February 4 is an even more important date in the calendar. There hasn’t been much fanfare, but this Saturday marks National Libraries Day, an occasion when book lovers across the UK remove their reading glasses and celebrate one of the most influential innovations of the modern world” Support your library while you still can – Herald Scotland.   Superb pro-libraries piece to link in with National Libraries Day. 

Changes

Bristol Mobile library to be lost in April.
Essex No branches to close but 5 managers lost job in 2011, Colchester reduced hours from 67.5 to 59 hours.
Derbyshire – £975k cut inc. £455k cut to stock, South Normanton Library to have hours increased. 

Local News

  • Brent – National Libraries Day 2012 children’s events programme – Preston Library Campaign.  A packed programme of events including a reading by Kate Umansky and Dyan Sheldon.  Not bad for a library that has now officially closed. 
  • Bristol – Mobile library service is cut behind closed doors This is Bristol.  Decision to end service was made before consultation.
  • Calderdale – New petition to save the Central Library – Halifax Courier.  “Instead of spending weeks collecting signatures, organisers will devote just two hours to the job outside the library in Northgate on Saturday, which is National Libraries Day. The arguments continue about the future of the Central Library and archive and we are frequently being approached by angry members of the public who want to know what they can do to stop the present facilities being bulldozed,” said Anne Kirker, of the Don’t Bulldoze Our Library campaign.”
  • Croydon – More Croydon spin: Upper Norwood Joint Library – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.  Suspicions that recent positive article was placed so as to distract attention from emergency meeting.  Gist of article is that Croydon are blaming Lambeth for Croydon’s decision to remove funding.
    • Legal row “an excuse to close library” – London Evening Standard.  “Upper Norwood Library’s future is in doubt after Tory-run Croydon said it would pull out of a deal to fund it jointly with Lambeth, which it accused of breaching a legal agreement. Croydon has agreed to provide funds until the end of April when Lambeth completes a public consultation. However, a spokesman said the joint arrangement was “no longer tenable”.”
  • Derbyshire – Library having its hours extended – This is Derbyshire.   “The authority said South Normanton library – part of the council’s £8 million new community building in the town – had been a “hit with the public”.” … “The move comes as the county council is on Wednesdayset to confirm a cut of £975,000 to its culture and community services department. This will include £455,000 from its “materials budget” for things like books and newspapers.”
  • Devon – Sidmouth Library to shut for £80k revamp – Sidmouth Herald.   “will shut for nearly two weeks next month when self-service technology is installed as part of an £80,000 refurbishment.” … “Michael Brittain, of Bulverton, uses the facility around four times a week and is not a fan of self-service kiosks he’s seen in other places like Seaton. “We weren’t consulted whether we wanted this system,” said Mr Brittain. He questioned the timing of investing cash on the technology at a time, it is hoped, the library and adjoining health centre could be completely redeveloped.”
  • Dudley – Business as usual for Stourbridge Library and town hall, council bosses say –  Halesowen News.  New retail development will change entrance to library.  “Once complete – visitors will be able to gain access to the library, town hall and register and housing office through a new entrance on Market Street.”
  • Essex – “Libraries will stay open” say county council – Standard series.   No branches to close but 5 managers lost job in 2011, Colchester reduced hours from 67.5 to 59 hours. 
  • Glasgow – Librarithon – National Libraries Day.   “A group of librarians is organising a librarithon, or libcrawl, via the Glasgow Subway. If you know the Subway at all you will understand why we’re calling it In the Loop! We are meeting in the Library at GOMA at 10am and will then go on to Hillhead, Ibrox and the Gorbals. Our tour guide is Myra Paterson who works for Glasgow Libraries and will organise activities in each branch. We aim to be finished by 4. Tweeting, blogging etc all encouraged, anything to get across the library message”
  • Gloucestershire – New library consultation: roadshow dates and survey now available – FoGL.   “It it easy to think ‘why bother’ after so many service users’ views were ignored and dismissed last time round, but this is GCC’s chance to get things right, so we would encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation, and spread the word to others too.”
    • Library consultation beginsBBC.  
    • Bookworms gather in Bream – This is Gloucestershire.  “Residents were invited along to offer their opinions on how a community library service would operate as a result of library closures due to Gloucestershire County Council budget cuts…. The event showed that there is definitely the demand and interest in Bream for a library service.”
  • Halton – Special collection of Charles Dickens classics in Haltons libraries – Runcorn and Widnes World.   Great example on how to topically promote a library service: “We have definitely seen a resurgence in Dickens and a number of fabulous new editions of his classic tales are now on the shelves. “A lot of readers watched Great Expectations and realised they ahve never read the book. This is where your local library comes in.””
  • Lambeth – Streatham Library “at risk” following meeting, says councillors – Guardian series.   “A clause stating the library must be kept in its current state was struck out, and replaced with a new clause stating the library must “reflect the needs of local residents and users”.”.  800 name petition handed in about UNJL.
  • Leicestershire – Free day at Leicestershire libraries – Melton Times.  “libraries are holding a special free day on Saturday, February 4, to celebrate National Libraries Day. On the day, hiring DVDs, CDs or talking books will all be free. There will also be an amnesty on overdue library items so they can be returned without the need to pay any charges. There will be no charges for extra sessions on library computers and users will be able to get up to six computer printouts free of charge.”
  • Milton Keynes – Celebrate National Libraries Day at Stony Stratford Library – About My Area.  One year on from the big campaign to save Stony Stratford library, the library is still here and going strong! This Saturday, 4th February, as part of National Libraries Day, Friends of Stony Stratford Library invite you to the library for an event to celebrate. There will be a children’s activity running all morning and at 11am we welcome the author Carole Matthews who supported us through our campaign, we will also be serving refreshments.”
  • Newport – Rogerstone couple found love in the library – South Wales Argus.  “The couple’s romantic tale inspired judges to name them the winners of the Welsh Books Council’s Quick Reads St Dwynwen’s Day competition which wanted to find couples who had been brought together through their love of books.”
“Ms Jarvis, who now works at Newport Reference Library, said: “He would give me obscure railway book requests with half titles or without authors and I would have to dig deep to try and find what he was looking for. But the helpfulness paid off and six months later Mr Harries took her on their first date to Didcot Railway Centre.”

  • Somerset – Legal costs for library services could rise – Mercury series.  Sam Crabb, leader of the Somerset Liberal Democrat group, said: “No one really knows the actual cost of the judicial review yet. The legal costs of the members of the public who took the judicial review are not yet known, but combined with the figures that we do know, the overall figure is going to be well in excess of £600,000. It would be good to see a press release from the conservative administration giving the true figures when they are eventually known.””
  • Warwickshire – Library is based on readers’ honesty – Nuneaton News.    “Bedworth Heath Community Centre is to break new ground as the home of the first `Honesty Library’ in the county. A stock of 1,500 books will be placed on shelves in the community centre in Smorrall Lane, Bedworth, but there will be no library staff on hand to deal with the borrowers.”
    • Village set to take on its library – Evesham Journal.   Bidford Library will be volunteer run from April.  ““We have in excess of 70 people registered as potential volunteers. They will be coming here to look at the facilities and discuss what they want to do and when they are prepared to work. The library opening times will be in line with the volunteers’ opening hour suggestions.”