Comment

Some further information (from the ever helpful LibraryWeb) about the cuts in Liverpool.  He has commented that there were around 50 staff lost last year so, along with the 76 losses announced yesterday, that means almost a full one half will be lost (126 of 260) will be lost since 2010.  That is one large cut  and it is hard, on the face of it, to see how the libraries can remain as “comprehensive and efficient” as they were two years ago.  Of course, given the current Secretary of State, legally it does not matter that the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act is in danger of being contravened – he’s not going to do anything about it.  However, it shows that the headline figure below of library closures is just a small part of the story.  Indeed, that “story” is beginning to resemble that often found in the Horror section, and not the ones with the impossibly handsome male/beautiful female vampires on the cover either.

428 libraries (337 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.

Can you help?

Everyone – Submit evidence/views to Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Library Closures before Thursday 12th January.
London – Attend a rally at Willesden Library, Brent on Saturday 7th January. 
Surrey – Campaigners are looking for someone who qualifies for legal aid (owns less than £8000) in order to challenge council over library cuts.  Must be a Surrey resident.

News

  • Are libraries a priority in a downturn? – BBC.   “Across the UK one in 10 libraries has been under threat of closure, more than 400 in all. Yet, London appears to have escaped relatively unscathed with just three councils definitely closing libraries, in Brent, Lewisham and Waltham Forest – 13 in total.”.   Hillingdon and Wandsworth (“”We’ve had expressions of interest from over 30 organisations around the world who run libraries in different ways so we’re exploring that as a way of enhancing the service and do it more cheaply.”) examined, as is Brent and York Gardens (Campaigner says”We did our own research to work out how residents used the library. We asked over 1,000 people and many used it for social and educational reasons but not to borrow books.”). News item likely also to be on BBC London programme this evening (Friday). 
  • Chicago Public Library lays off 176 employees, closes 75 branches on Mondays – Library Journal.  $6.7m cut to budget means cuts.  Council blames trade union for making situation worse.
“Vintage, an imprint of The Random House Group, and independent charity The Reading Agency are to work together in partnership to launch Stop What You’re Doing and Read This! – a passionate, funny, revelatory and inspiring book about the transformative power of reading – and The Reading Agency’s Mood-boosting Books campaign. The partnership kicks off with a public launch event at Canada Water Library on Monday 23 January at 7pm with authors Mark Haddon and Michael Rosen joining Miranda McKearney, Director of The Reading Agency and Debbie Hicks from The Reading Agency to discuss the paramount importance of reading to our quality of life.” (Press Release. see also Southwark events).

  • Libraries fuck yeah – Diary of a contrarian librarian.  Poem about benefits of libraries.  Readers need hardly be warned that there’s a lot of swearing in it.
    “I have loved the library ever since I was six years old and that school librarian placed my first library book in my hands. I have learned much there, and have had many great adventures. This is why I have chosen to be a librarian. I want to be able to help other people learn to love the library as I have. It is a magical place where anything is possible – even surviving a zombie apocalypse.” My Library Love AffairMynx Writes.

Changes

Lancashire – Brierfield Library £500k upgrade inc. more meeting rooms and Arts project.
 
Local News

  • Brent – Sat 7th Jan: Willesden Library Rally – Save Kensal Rise Library.   “There will be a rally outside Willesden library this Saturday from 11-1pm in order to raise awareness amongst the community of Willesden about their loss of facilities and building. Brent council are considering alternative locations for this Library whilst they close it for upgrades. The council are not considering Cricklewood Library or Kensal Rise library as alternative locations, despite the fact they are both currently available and are perfectly suited to being libraries. Apparently Cricklewood and Kensal Rise libraries are “too far away”.”
  • Croydon – Irresponsible Lambeth, apparently – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.   “So when Cllr Arram speaks of acting in “such an irresponsible and damaging way” perhaps he should take a look at his own Council’s track record and actions. Croydon’s refusal to meet and the only options given to Lambeth which absolve Croydon of any responsibility for this library, used by its residents, seems far from responsible or constructive.”
  • Gloucestershire – Hopes for a win/win for Matson Library – Friends of Matson Library.  Details of meeting between campaigners and council (inc. new libraries chief) in preparation for new council plans for libraries after their legal defeat.  “Jo Grills, who has only recently taken up her new post will be visiting Matson next week to see Matson Library for herself and to meet other community groups ahead of the formal consultation in February. Rough Timetable Proposed Plan for Gloucestershire Libraries c. 13th January Countnty Council vote on proposals 20th January Six Week Consultation c. 1st February.”
    • FoGL members meet with GCCFoGL.   Council officers have met with FoGL twice.  “They explained to us the process behind the new library review which is taking place at the moment, and which is based on a needs analysis, demographic information on the various library catchment areas, and information obtained during the previous consultation process. The council is also in discussion with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.”
  • Lancashire  – Pendle Library set for £500k facelift – Lancashire Telegraph.   Brierfield Library will be closed for 3 months for refurbishment inc meeting rooms and space for “In Situ” Arts project.  Lancashire Libraries have a £5m regeneration programme. 
“Unlike many other councils, we are not closing any of our libraries. In fact, we are continuing to invest in the service wherever we can. This will help to ensure that our libraries not only remain open but provide modern, flexible resources, fit for the 21st century. When Brierfield reopens in a few months’ time, local people will see an up-to-date, welcoming and accessible lib-rary the entire community can enjoy.”

  • Norfolk – Drunks, racial abuse and food fights: a year in the life of Norwich’s Millenium Library – EDP.  Staff at the city’s Millennium Library have had to deal with a racially-abusive man, teenagers throwing food and a girl punching another girl in the face. A security assistant also had his shins kicked in an unprovoked attack at closing time, according to the library’s staff logbook. A customer was banned for a month after he became abusive and threw a pencil when asked to stop drinking water in the heritage section. And a drunk woman started being “overly familiar” with staff, and another report describes how “unnecessarily loud moaning” could be heard from a man using a computer.” [An interesting insight into the darker side of library work: there’s a lot worse out there though – the cleaning up of human faeces, for example, is not unknown – Ed.].
  • North Yorkshire – Selby and Sherburn library hours cuts – Selby Times.    “Selby is earmarked to see its hours sliced from 52 to 40, losing Sunday opening completely, and Sherburn will see opening times reduced to 30 hours from the current 39. Barlby Library is pencilled in for closure, although the village’s parish council is currently preparing a business plan with a view to taking the service over and using the building as a combined library and community centre.”
  • Northern Ireland – Curtailing library hours unthinkableNews Letter.   “To restrict access to such information is unthinkable. At a time when we are seeking to ‘grow our economy’ in the ‘info’ sector, to restrict availability in the rural ‘remainder’ is nothing less than discriminatory.”
  • Somerset – Libraries to stay open, says High Court – This is Somerset.   “Library services in Somerset which were under threat from public spending cuts will be officially restored by Somerset County Council next week. But their future will still be the subject of an 18-month review of all council services to begin in April”.