Comment

“I’m sorry to see SCL and its members being castigated for demonstrating a very professional approach. They absolutely should be engaged with the government on the subject of cuts; councillors impose cuts and SCL work to minimise their impact. On the subject of libraries’ day, it’s surely an opportunity for the public, the press, the arts community et al to celebrate what libraries do, day-in, day-out. With budgets cut to the bone and jobs, stock and opening hours under threat, who could justify spending money on bunting, face painting and other jollies.” Anonymous comment on this website.
“Other jollies” – The BookStart Bear Club being launched at Rock Ferry Library, Wirral. 
First off, fair point from Anonymous about many Society of Chief Libarians (SCL) members.  In a press release defending itself today, the SCL pointed out that there are activities in many areas but these events had not been added to the National Librares Day database – although why not is not clear (as a comment on the BookSeller article says “it is free publicity to upload the events onto the National Libraries Day website so why would any cash conscious council not do that?”). It is also, of course, a fair point that Chief Librarians work to minimise the impact of the cuts.  However, it is perhaps questionable if doing this quietly is really the best approach in all circumstances.  It is especially questionable when it is confirmed in the same BookSeller article that in Kent, where the SCL secretary Cath Anley runs the service, staff have been ordered not to put on events for National Libraries Day.  Major cuts are planned for Kent and it was apparently felt that staff were doing enough.  The opportunity also, in what could be seen as a perversion of the whole National Libraries Day message, seems to be being used as an opportunity to encourage unpaid labour:
“You can of course tell them [the public] about the planned activities already scheduled [in other times of the year] to take place in your library and invite them to become a library volunteer if they wish to play an active role in the year ahead”
Let me make my viewpoint clear.  Now is exactly the time to promote the service in any way libraries can.  The SCL needs to shout it loud and proud that libraries are alive and well and positively affecting lives locally and nationally.  Libraries should get school groups in, get authors in, arrange whatever they can.  Anonymous is of course right in his or her assertion that money should not be wasted.  Things that are nice for staff but attract few people are not a good idea.  Time to make every event count. But, but, but … not doing anything is the Pontius Pilate approach.  His reputation is not the best and his time in office is not fondly remembered. Public libraries cannot rest on their laurels.  The last year has proved that beyond doubt.  The public needs to be got on side and that will mean politicians will get on side.  Any promotional opportunity that comes along should be grabbed and embraced, especially if it is something like a national day that will multiply publicity.

 Somerset: Watchet Library Friends are doing more on the day than all of Kent.

Ask anyone if it is a good thing for a company if it decides it can’t afford to advertise any more or if it fails to maximise on free promotional opportunities.  Such organisations tend not to last for long. Looking dour, keeping one’s head down and working behind the scenes in a “professional” manner is one answer.  But it is an answer that drawn to its logical conclusion means the end, ironically enough, of the profession.
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.

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News
Berlucchi said 92% of the 1.3m e-readers estimated to have been sold in the UK over Christmas were Kindles. He said the use of DRM helped Amazon consolidate its position. “Amazon uses DRM to lock people in. You can’t take the files out. The problem is that if you go down the Amazon road, you can’t drop out. If you drop out of Kindle, you lose all your books. They [Amazon] are using DRM to build their silos, like Apple did in the beginning with the iPod, which is how they [Apple] dominated the music market,” he said.” Anobii chief says drop DRM to fight Amazon – BookSeller. 

I recognise that libraries must modernise and I have been impressed with the range of services being offered by different libraries that I have visited in the early stage of my national library tour. It is imperative that we keep the pressure on the government to act faster and smarter to save these vital pillars of our communities.” Dan Jarvis MP, shadow minister for libraries in  As National Libraries Day nears, our libraries remain under threat – Left Foot Forward.  
  • Kent “ignores” National Libraries Da – BookSeller.  SCL defends itself against blogposts/twitter and points out that there are events going on in many of its libraries.  In Kent, however, staff have been ordered not to put events on for the day. 
  • Our evidence to the Culture, Media and Support Committee – Voices for the Library.    Summary of the major points to the Select Committee on Library Closures and a link to the full text.
  • Save Our Libraries campaign: one year on – Guardian.   “If you are campaigning to save your library and especially if you told us about it last year, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us, one year, on how your campaign is going.”
Changes
Local News
 Brent: Community turns out in force to save Preston LibraryPreston Library Campaign. “Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North spoke out against his own party.”
“Consett has consistently bucked the trend and issues have increased year on year for the last four or five. Consett Library is an essential link between the local communities and Durham County Council. It is a vibrant, busy facility but it looks as if success counts for nothing if Consett hours are cut to save failing libraries. “I have been inundated with calls from library users complaining about the proposed cuts.”

  • Edinburgh – Police and council staff take up roles within library hub – Edinburgh Evening News.  “The country’s newest public library opens in the Capital today, after two decades of campaigning by local residents. Drumbrae Library Hub will also have staff from other council services working at its front desk, so that people can pay their rent or report antisocial behaviour at the same time as borrowing a book. The £5.7 million development includes offices for local police officers, housing advisors and environmental services, along with a day-care centre for the elderly.”
  • Gloucestershire – GCC’s new consultation survey: “baffling”, “manipulative” and “full of assumptions and loaded questions” – FoGL.  Campaign group argues that the new consultation repeats many of the mistakes and errors of the old one that was ruled illegal in court.  People of doctoral level are finding the survey confusing and loaded: “each of the pre-written answers to Question 7 will generate data which can be used to justify the current proposals”.  
I suspect that our friends as Public Interest Lawyers will chuckle merrily to themselves when they see this blatant piece of manipulation and think about its role in the forthcoming case against the second attempt by Gloucestershire County Council to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. I wonder what Private Eye will make of this perfect set up for some caustic comedy sketches.”
  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers to take over Dales library in unprecedented move – Yorkshire Post.  “Coun Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for library services, said the Masham Volunteer Trust will officially take over the running of Masham’s library as part of its proposals to transfer the running of many of its 42 libraries to volunteers in a bid to counter £69m in Government cuts. The library is one of eight having funding pulled from it, with 14 more having their budgets slashed by 30 per cent”
  • Portsmouth – Creative authors bring National Libraries Day to life – Hayling Today.   “Pauline Rowson, author of the popular Marine Mystery crime series featuring DI Horton which are set in the Portsmouth and Solent areas, promises to entertain visitors at Portsmouth Central Library on Saturday, February 4. She will start the event with a talk about her novels and crime writing, and there will be the opportunity to win signed copies of her crime novels with a murder mystery quiz hunt for clues around the library.” 
  • Salford – How one council is trying to sustain its library services in hard times – Alan Gibbons.  “One example of this approach is the new library in Salford Sports Village. This library moved from the Albion High School and now that it is based in the Sports Village has seen a dramatic increase in usage. In addition the percentage of local people who are active library members is now 19.7% (Lower Kersal). This figure of 1 in 5 local people being active users demonstrates how a public library is of value to people in the inner city.”
  • Suffolk – New manager for Suffolk’s libraries – Haverhill Echo.  “Alison Wheeler, who has worked in the libraries industry for close to 33 years, will become IPS’ general manager at the beginning of February 2012.”
“Halesworth Town Council believes that our library is so important a part of the town’s social fabric and educational infrastructure, that it should meet this cost through a small equitable charge on the local rate.”