Archive for January, 2012

However busy you are, read to your children

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.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be 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 by…?

News

  • Get It Loud In Libraries: 2012 show dates so far – Never Enough Press.  Get It Loud In Libraries is a unique award-winning project (Love Libraries Award 2007 winner) that curates fantastic shows in public library buildings. GILIL showcases a whole array of groundbreaking acts and can count Florence & The Machine, Holly Miranda, The Thrills, Alessi’s Ark, Ellie Goulding, Diana Vickers, Bat For Lashes, British Sea Power, Juliette Lewis and Daisy Dares You as having graced its stages before (and while) hitting the big-time.”

“Launched in May 2005, the innovative Get It Loud In Libraries project stages numerous one-off, kick-yourself-if-you-miss-it gigs per year, pulling in people who haven’t been inside library walls for years, or those who never have. Since conception, it has been featured on BBC’s The One Show and Newsround, as well as many other publications, blogs and industry know-alls.”

  • However busy you are, read to your children, says PM – London Evening Standard.   “”I try to read to my children a couple of nights a week,” he said. “I think that however busy you are in life, you should always try to read to your children.” Mr Cameron astonished parents and pupils at St Mary’s primary in Battersea when he arrived for a surprise visit to open a new library sponsored by the Evening Standard.”.  David Cameron especially keen on the volunteers who help with reading to the children and on the £100k donated by a Ukrainian billionaire to pay for 85 reading volunteers for three years [That’s more than £1000 each – why? Ed.]. See comment by Alan Gibbons.
  • PLR rate drops again – BookSeller.  “Authors hearing news this week of PLR payments for loans made during the year from July 2010 to June 2011 learned that the rate per loan has dropped to 6.05 pence, down from 6.25 pence in 2009-2010, and 6.29 pence the year before (2008-9).”.  This is due to 15% cut in funding over next four years.  
  • UK library closures and the High Court decision on Brent Council – World Socialist Web Site. “Both councils [Glos and Somerset] came away satisfied that the ruling authorised them to make cuts to existing library services. They are aware of the hostility to their proposals and are moving warily. But they have not changed their basic plan. As one correspondent who disagreed with our article noted, the November ruling only prevented the councils from “continuing with their plans in their current form.” (Emphasis added).”

“Libraries, like other social services, cannot be defended on a piecemeal, council by council basis. Councils will look to incorporate opposition groups that take this approach and use them as advisers or pawns in their cuts agenda. Similarly, there can be no expectation that the Labour Party will advance any opposition to these measures. In many councils, like Brent, Labour is the very force imposing cuts.”

  • Who needs libraries? Apparently lots – Sun Chronicle (USA).  Providing ebooks, online resources and help for the unemployed has made Mansfield Public Library more popular than ever.

Changes

Local News

  • Bolton – Library service faces more changes – Bolton News.  “The report, which is due to be considered by councillors next week, says that income from library fines has been gradually reducing over the past few years, after users became able to renew books online.”
  • Brent – Sex Pistols artist Jamie Reid donates prints to Save Kensal Rise Library campaign – London 24.  “Legendary artist, Jamie Reid, who created the Sex Pistols’ album cover for God Save the Queen has designed and donated 200 signed limited edition prints to the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign. The prints will be sold for £30 a piece at the Masons Arms, in Harrow Road, Kensal Green on February 3. The event will mark National Libraries Day, which falls on February 4.”
    • Plans to redevelop Willesden Library agreed – Build.   “The new ‘Willesden Green Cultural Centre’, as it will be known, is expected to open its doors in the spring of 2014, providing residents with a state of the art library and cultural centre.” … “Brent Council will retain the freehold while developers Galliford Try have the right to build homes at the back of the centre for market sale in return for the development.”
    • Public meeting to save Preston library – Preston Library Campaign.   Thursday 31st January.
  • Caerphilly – Borough libraries faring well in Wales wide comparison – Campaign.   “The report includes performance indicators of how Caerphilly County Borough Council’s libraries service is performing compared with other local authorities in Wales.”

“Cllr Phil Bevan, Cabinet Member for Education, Leisure and Lifelong Learning said: “While many libraries in other parts of the country are being closed down, here in Caerphilly we are investing in these important community facilities. It is fantastic that these brand new facilities have proven so popular, and these schemes will shortly be followed by other exciting new library developments across the county borough.”

  • Durham – Library hours could be cut by trust plans – Durham Times.  “Last night, proposals emerged to cut opening hours to 36 a week at town centre libraries and 20 a week at community libraries. Mobile library services would also be cut. The bus would only visit settlements more than four miles from the nearest library and stop only once in each village. Readers would also be warned to “use it or lose it”.”
    • Libraries face cuts – Peterlee Mail.   “The news comes as Durham County Council, which provides library services in the east Durham area, also considers transferring some library services to be run by a not-for-profit charitable trust in a bid to safeguard services.”
  • Edinburgh – Frankie Boyle to appear at free Dalkeith Library show – Scotsman.   “But Frankie Boyle is to make an unexpected deviation from his usual routine next month – by promoting libraries across the Lothians. The stand-up, and former Mock the Week panellist, will swap the bright lights of concert arenas and television studios for Dalkeith Library.”
  • Gloucestershire – Libraries do have a future: Mark Hawthorne – This is Gloucestershire.   Article by Leader including belief no library will close [7 will close if volunteers do not take them over, 5 mobiles will close – Ed.].  Says that “some believe” libraries should be immune to cuts.  “Fundamentally, we want to create a sustainable, affordable network of libraries that really works for Gloucestershire people. I firmly believe that working in partnership with communities is the best way to do that and with our continued support I believe they will succeed. I know we’ll be looking to use the excellent work we have already carried out here to help us shape more services into the future.”
    • Fight is on to save Lechlade Library after cuts announced Wilts and Glos Standard.  “Cllr Coakely, chairman of Lechlade library working group, said: “What’s really galling is that officers have said we can go to Highworth for library services. But we expect our services to be provided by the council that we pay our council tax to.”.  Statistics also appear to unfairly measure (by halving it) Lechlade’s population. 
  • Harrow – Plans to merge libraries and “nurture” cultural services – Harrow Times.   “More than 2,000 people were consulted on the plans which could also see improvements to public IT systems in libraries and the restoration of the borough’s Headstone Manor and museum. Another idea focuses on libraries being moved into cultural facilities, for example Hatch End Library relocating to Harrow Arts Centre.”
  • North Yorkshire – Dales communities’ views sought on library hours – Westmorland Gazette.   “North Yorkshire County Council has written to town and parish councils and other partners asking for comments, and proposed revised opening hours have been distributed via libraries throughout the county.”

“We have been working very hard over the last year to extend our partnership working with our partners, including parish, town and district councils. As a result of excellent partnership working, this means that in some cases we will actually be able to deliver an increase in library opening hours for local communities.”

“It would be a downgrading of the library. It’s probably going to be smaller because, at the moment, It has a reference section area, a computer room and a little area where children go to read stories. The foyer is used for information leaflets and what’s on posters. That would be lost if it moves.”

Anything goes?

It is a matter for each local authority to configure their library services to fulfil the statutory duty placed on them under the 1964 Act—namely to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” public library service for their local library users. There is no absolute or single standard. Local authorities must assess local need and arrange their services to meet that need in light of available resource. It is for elected council members and local officials, in consultation with their communities, to make any necessary decisions about how money is being spent, to fulfil all their legal duties and having regard to all their community needs. A community supported [meaning “volunteer-run” – Editor] library can be used in addition to the public library service or, in a measured way, as part of it but only in appropriate circumstances and after careful analysis.” Ed Vaizey, Written Answers, Hansard

With this, the minister for libraries has announced that volunteer-run libraries will be counted as statutory as long as the local authority can prove it has done its homework.  Given the completely hands-off, indeed one could say almost non-existent, oversight of the sector by the DCMS over the last year, this will be seen as a further green light by cash-strapped councils to do what they like.  While Ed Vaizey’s comments in Parliament will raise a few eyebrows, it is completely in line with the strategy of giving councils carte blanche to do what they want in order to cope with the deepest financial cuts in British peacetime history.  It goes completely against Ed Vaizey’s comments while he was in opposition but, again, this will not be surprising to the many who have followed his u-turn from evangelical library campaigner while in opposition to a seemingly comatose “anything goes” minister now.

The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) – another body that has been notable in its absence over the last year – has announced a National Digital Promise.  It seems to include a multitude of things that every library service should be doing anyway.  The list is below, with my thoughts, as should be fairly obvious, in italics:

  • A promise to work towards a webpage “portal” for available online resources a national catalogue of library stock. This is just a promise, but should be relatively easy to set up, though, given willing by all parties. 
  • Free online access in every library for a minimum period.  This is a reassuring move, as authorities would doubtless be looking at this possibility.  Some no doubt are already charging.  There is a slight worry that there is no definition of a “minimum period”.  Half an hour would be the absolute minimum: one hour would be preferable as this is the minimum useful time for writing CVs/jobhunting etc.
  • “Clear and accessible online information about library services”. Does some council somewhere not have a webpage like this? 
  • Staff trained to help users access digital information. They should all be trained anyway and it is embarrassing that it seems by this that many are not. There is no mention, incidentally, that these staff should be paid.
  • Access to online public resources that don’t turn off in the evenings or weekends. Does anyone’s online resources actually turn off for the evenings now?  Where?
  • Libraries to be able to use emails for answering enquiries. Hmm, the SCL is promising libraries will enter the white heat of technology c.1998.
  • Ability for customers to join online.  Great idea which all libraries should already be doing.
  • A single standard of library user authentication, which will be adopted nationally to allow collaborative access to digital resources.  No idea how this will happen.  Each library authority currently registers people in a different way, with different identification requirements using different computer systems.  Presumably, this could mean having another national library user ID in addition to one’s own library card, using a simple online form?
The Promise is, of course, better than nothing and at least provides evidence that some things may move forward despite the historically high level of cuts and threat to the service.  That, at least, is promising.

News

  • Digital standards agreed for public libraries – Guardian.  “The heads of more than 4,000 public libraries across the UK have agreed to national digital standards, which include providing free internet access in every library, and the ability to join a library and renew and reserve items online.”.  See comment  above.
  • Libraries go online 24/7 under digital promise – Public Service.  “Libraries have helped more than a million people go online for the first time over the past year. The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) said libraries offered many people their only point of access to the web. And it argued that libraries helping people to get online also helped them gain access to local council services, many of which are becoming digital. SCL president Nicky Parker said: “With this digital promise we hope to expand and improve the standard of online resources in libraries both now and for the future.”
  • End the stigma of adult illiteracy says top author –  London Evening Standard.  “Backing the Evening Standard’s literacy campaign, [Mark]Haddon said poverty and library closures are also to blame for preventing people from reading. Haddon, whose book shows the world from the perspective of a boy with  Asperger’s Syndrome, said: “The illiteracy rate in prisons is a sign of the damage that’s done to people if they don’t have basic literacy. “You are shut out from the rest of society and it’s something seen as shameful. People are embarrassed.”.
  • Library lesson – Yorkshire Post.   “Yet the Education Secretary would be advised to consider the merits of Rotherham’s Imagination Library that was being championed in the House of Commons last night by John Healey MP.  It has achieved outstanding results since it launch four years ago when every child in the borough aged under five started to receive a free book once a month to, hopefully, inspire a love of reading, and help youngsters improve their literacy, before they start primary school. It has also been effective in sparking the interest of parents.”
  • Wikipedia is closed for business tomorrow, but your local library isn’t – Diary of a contrarian librarian.  Most library authorities provide great online resources such as Britannica for free and also – shock – even have buildings with printed sources of information in them. 

Changes

Local News

  • Bexley – Library to bring in membership fees – BookSeller.  The library will continue to keep free membership but users will also be able to pay for extra benefits through memberships of £24 or £75 a year.”.  Comments are interesting – if one pays then one can keep books for as long as one likes which means interlending is difficult/impossible.  Also, it restricts books for other borrowers. 
  • Bolton – Quiet first day at new library collection point – Bolton News.  One tenth of the stock of the old library has been moved into a children’s centre, with a self-service terminal.
  • Brent – Library campaigners still awaiting appeal news – Harrow Observer.   Still not clear if an appeal can be made to the Supreme Court.  Barham Library campaigners setting up an expanded “pop-up” library including CDs/DVDs.  Also hoping Government will intervene.
  • Croydon/Lambeth – Rouse tells Lambeth to plan closure of library in secret – Inside Croydon.   “In his letter, Rouse is at pains to ask for “discretion” – some might characterise that as meaning “secrecy”  – over the valuation of the site, the library’s fixtures and fittings, and books, “so as not to undermine the ongoing work of staff at the Library, and it would be appreciated if Lambeth would carry out its initial planning work with similar discretion”.”.  Article says that Croydon has valued Upper Norwood Library in preparation for closure, with letter from Croydon leader to Lambeth leader on the issue reproduced in full.
  • Durham – Charity plans for council’s assets – Darlington and Stockton Times.  Libraries/museums/theatres etc may be put under a charitable trust inc. 39 libraries.  Could be a “Non Profit Distributing Organisation” [NPDO – yes, this is a new one on me too.  Ed.].  Would save £1m by avoiding rates and VAT.

“However, questions still remain. Who will run this new trust? How accountable will it be to voters? How much freedom will it have from County Hall? Who will set its budget and spending priorities? What happens when spending cuts bite? Before final decisions are taken, taxpayers will want reassurances their museums and libraries are not being privatised by stealth.”

  • Gloucestershire – County Council reveals new library plan – BBC.   Council leader says “We’ve got some really tough decisions to make in our overall budget and libraries can’t be excluded from that and I don’t think it will be realistic for anyone to expect that libraries shouldn’t be delivering a saving,” he said. “It’s up to Friends of Gloucestershire library to decide what they want to do next but I would encourage them to actually engage in this consultation process.”.
    • GCC announces new library plan: cuts in Stroud district unchanged – Stroud News & Journal.   “The fresh strategy will see no changes to libraries in the Stroud district from the previous proposal, with libraries hours in Nailsworth and Stonehouse reduced to 12 hours and the service in Minchinhampton handed to the community. Stroud Library will keep its full hours.”
    • Gloucestershire Counct Council in libraries u-turn – This is Gloucestershire.  
    • Thinking it through for Matson – Friends of Matson Library.  “Now we are being guaranteed 21 hours (currently we have 23) of open library as a minimum. We were united in being pleased that the library service is being kept but there was a good deal of discussion on the pros and cons of keeping the library where it is or moving it to another site.”
  • Lambeth – Fears West Norwood Library will be permanently closed – Guardian series.  “The library, along with the adjoining Nettlefold Hall, was closed in June last year after callous vandals stole copper wiring from the roofs, causing substantial rain damage. Repairs were delayed after asbestos was exposed and Lambeth Council has stated that until a condition survey is completed it is impossible to estimate an opening date.”

“Our beloved library was not just about books. There really is no substitute.”Concerned long-term resident, Lillian Bedford, said: “I can’t get about very well and I’ve had to go to charity shops to get my books. The library is a vital service for elderly people – if it didn’t reopen I wouldn’t know what to do.”

  • Lincolnshire – £2m to be slashed from library services budget in Lincolnshire – This is Lincolnshire.  “Book loans to schools will be abolished from April and a number of the county’s mobile library stops are under threat.” … “Outlining his plans at a communities scrutiny committee meeting at Lincolnshire County Council, Mr Platt revealed more volunteers were needed in libraries. He insisted there were no plans to close static libraries but that opening hours were going to be reviewed in order to maximise usage.”
  • Surrey – Library campaigners continue legal action against council – Guardian series.  “SLAM said the council has claimed the group’s protests and letters of objection served as an ‘alternative mechanism’ to a public consultation releasing them from any legal obligation to consult before a decision had been made.Mr Godfrey added: “We expected them to defend their position. But we are slightly disappointed with the quality of their defence.””

Gloucestershire : Not giving up on giving up on libraries

Comment

To no-one’s great surprise, Gloucestershire County Council’s new proposals for its libraries are strongly reminiscent of the ones that they were forced to give up on after the recent successful legal challenge.  Their website is full of references to regard for equalities (the area where it lost in court) but comes down to similar decisions: seven libraries and five mobiles under threat compared to ten and six last year.  Good news for the three that have been saved of course but a real kick in the teeth for those communities facing the end of their branches for the second time.  Tellingly, the cuts include £800k on top of the £1m cut that already took place last year.  That would result in the halving of the library budget over two years.  News from campaigners suggest that much of last year’s cuts were librarians (described as “back office” by the Council, “front line” by the Friends).  
It is hard to see how a halving of the budget over two years (and Gloucestershire was hardly well funded three years ago) can be fairly described as a “new vision” but this is what the council is labelling it.  Mind you, the name chosen for its “pay for it yourselves as we’re closing them” libraries is, wait for it, “Community Offer Libraries” so perhaps they have different meanings to words there.  Or… or… surely, they can’t be putting a misleadingly positive gloss on a terrible situation on purpose?
Surrey Council leave their Glos friends in the dust when it comes to the use of semantics though.  They appear to be arguing that because the campaign group made such loud noises about the lack of consultation that this protest counts as consultation.  This is getting almost surreal.

Meanwhile, over in Northern Ireland, there appears to be that rare thing – a Culture Minister that actually cares about libraries.  She has found funding to halve the cuts in opening hours projected.  The cuts are still bad but they’re £2.5m better (which equates to 600 open hours) per week better than before. 

411 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.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be 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.

Actions you can take

News

  • And a pox on your dog! A brief history of book curses – Daily Reporter (USA).  “I came across information about early efforts to prevent loss of library materials to insects and theft. I have to confess, they gave me a chuckle and I thought that perhaps some of our dear readers would enjoy the information, also….”
  • As demand for e-books soars, libraries struggle to stock their virtual shelves – Washington Post.   “Kindles, Nooks and iPads can do many amazing things, but they can’t bump you ahead in line at the Reston Regional Library. In fact, if you want to borrow a book, it may be quicker to put down your sleek new device and head into the stacks.”.  Ebook demans is greater than many libraries can satisfy, especially as they need to balance their paper book stock as well.  Publishers are not entirely happy with free library e-book lending either.
  • CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award – CILIP.   “The Award highlights and rewards good practice in any innovative library and information projects which: Change lives, Bring people together, Involve user communities, Demonstrate innovation and creativity, Develop staff and services.”.  [Perhaps the Brent Pop-Up Library should be entered? – Ed.].
  • Daily Mirror launches We Love Reading campaign – Daily Mirror.   Carol Ann Duffy reminisces about the great impact libraries had to her childhood.  Article in favour of giving books to under fives as one in three don’t own a book.
  • Why not make the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee really special? – Things to cut before closing libraries. Rather than give the Queen a £60m yacht for the anniversary, why not give her a nice little present and use the rest of the money on saving libraries?

Changes

  • Gloucestershire – Seven libraries under threat (“Community Offer Libraries”) plus 5 mobiles under threat.  “Main libraries – nine libraries open six days a week, Local libraries – twelve libraries open five days a week – with options for flexibility to suit local need, Partnership Libraries – ten libraries run by the county in partnership with communities.  Offering between twelve and twenty-one hours of county library service. Building on the principle of sharing buildings with other groups to create a one stop shop for public services with the library remaining in county control. Community Offer Libraries (Berkeley, Brockworth, Bream, Minchinhampton, Lechlade, Mitcheldean and Newnham.) – seven libraries available to the community under an enhanced Big Community Offer”. Mobile libraries : 5 to go as Homelink and Share a Book specialist mobile library services to be axed and service provided by alternative means plus 3 traditional mobiles to go. “The council is considering the provision of a mobile public service vehicle which could provide a mobile library service alongside access to other services.”.  £800k cut on top of £1m cut in 2011.
  • Northern Ireland – Projected cut in opening hours reduced from 1200 less hours to 600 less due to extra £2.5m found by Culture Minister. 

Local News

  • Bexley – Library taken over by charity to charge fees – London Evening Standard.  Bexley Library, which is run by the borough council, is to be handed over to a community group which is set to charge users £24 a year. Although non-paying users will still be able to borrow books, paying members will be able to take out more and keep them for an unlimited time.”.  Opinion divided between being thankful to have a library at all to being outraged that double taxation is in force.
  • Brent – Pub Quiz tonightPreston Library Campaign.   “Come along and show your support for a hard fought campaign. It’s not over yet!”
  • Croydon – Asking a question at a Croydon Council meeting – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. “Might you be raising a question on libraries?”
    • Closure of New Addington Library not far off, says Cllr Sara Bashford – This is Croydon Today.    “We will be moving the library into the Calat, that is the plan at the moment. To shut the current building which is quite old and getting to the end of its useful life. There is some work being done in the Calat at the moment and there are plans to have adult education, job centre advice and the library in there so it all fits in nicely together.”
  • Gloucestershire – County Council sets out its new vision for libraries in the county – Glos CC. “The council has drafted a fresh strategy that aims to make the most of our limited resources, new technology and volunteers to create a service that really works for Gloucestershire’s people” … “On Friday (20th January), the council’s cabinet will be asked agree to start a six-week consultation on 30th January for people to tell us what they think of the proposals.” 
    • New library plans: Friends of Gloucestershire’s Libraries responseFoGL.  “Whilst we are delighted that, thanks to the dedication and determination of library users across the county, we have saved the libraries in the 3 poorest areas of Gloucestershire (Hester’s Way, Matson and Tuffley), we are extremely disappointed that Gloucestershire County Council is still pushing for a two tier system and that 7 communities are still having a metaphorical gun held to their heads and will no longer be funded. The County Council will now have to justify very clearly to these communities the reasons why they still intend to take their county library service away from them.” … 
“We would like to point out that the county council’s cabinet report and press release which both claim that this is a 25.7% cut in the library service’s budget since 2010-11 completely neglects to add that a similar percentage was also cut in 2010-11.”
We object strongly to the statement in the council’s press release that the £1 million saving from the service last year was “back office reductions.”In fact it was almost entirely made up of front line qualified librarians being made redundant and now, apparently, being replaced by volunteers.”
  • Liverpool – Campaign launched to save Woolton Library from the axe – Liverpool Echo.   “Now a Save Woolton Library Campaign group has been set up to fight the proposal. It is led by retired city librarian Ron Travis, who organised a petition securing more than 5,000 signatures last year when it first emerged the library was under threat.”.  Liverpool is closing library being it cannot afford to do repair work to it but, on the other hand, welcomes volunteers if they can afford to take it over.
  • Manchester – Councillor Amesbury’s open letter on City history – Manchester Confidential.  “Moving forward, as Manchester unashamedly does, our multi million pound transformation of the much loved Central Library will tell the historical story of Manchester louder and prouder than ever before.”
  • Northern Ireland – Libraries may escape cut in opening hours – BBC.   “Cutbacks in library opening hours may be avoided, following intervention by the culture, arts and leisure minister. Caral ni Chuilin said she had found almost £2.5m to protect library provision and help avoid shorter opening hours.”.  Cuts halved from 1200 hours to 600 hours.  “There had been widespread opposition to the cutbacks and more than 7,000 submissions were made to the consultation on opening hours.”
  • Suffolk – Development in library plans – Diss Express.   Eye Town Council may take over long lease on town centre building and then give space to Suffolk IPS Libraries organisation at peppercorn rent.  Stradbroke council frustrated as council has not given them sufficient information for them to put in a bid to help run its threatened library.
  • Surrey – SCC to face judicial review over library plans – SLAM.   Council’s defence lies on SLAM being too late to protest – article suggests that this is wrong.  Another council argument is that the publicity given to the cuts by SLAM counts as consultation: “Considering that a good proportion of our protests and questions were over SCC’s lack of consultation, SCC’s defence seems to be that SLAM’s complaints about lack of consultation counts as a legal substitute for proper consultation: “Considering that a good proportion of our protests and questions were over SCC’s lack of consultation, SCC’s defence seems to be that SLAM’s complaints about lack of consultation counts as a legal substitute for proper consultation.” … “We have made a start and have already raised about £2,500 (give or take a few pounds) but if there is anything you can do to help (suggestions for how we might raise this money or if you know anybody that might be able to help) then please, please let us know.”
    • SLAM to start legal proceedings against SCCEagle Radio.  “”We only need to look at our neighbours in Lewisham, to see that they introduced Community Partnered Libraries (or volunteer run libraries) last year and since their introduction – all of those libraries have decreased in issues.”
  • Swindon – Libraries introduce e-book scheme – Public Service.  “”I am delighted we will soon be able to add eBooks and downloadable audio books to our already excellent library service.”

A national legal challenge?

This was on Allan Gibbon’s blog today:

“Maybe the main trade unions and professional associations could give consideration to funding a challenge to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s disastrous policy of non-intervention. Present Culture Minister Ed Vaizey famously slammed the then Secretary of State Andy Burnham for non intervention. Now he is making it an article of faith of his own time at the DCMS. The organisations might want to obtain an initial opinion on the prospects of success from one of the larger firms of union solicitors.” Thinking out loud: A national legal challenge?

417 libraries (326 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.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be 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.

Actions you can take

News

  • Don’t sneer if a Big Mac encourages reading – Independent (Terence Blacker).  Yet the real tough choices are not for Tories – toughness is part of their marketing package, after all – but for decent, good-hearted liberals living in difficult times.”… “The McDonald’s chain is aggressively marketing its £2.20 Happy Meals by offering free books, nine million of them, as incentives.”

“Local councils are closing libraries. The minister responsible, Ed Vaizey, is being utterly feeble. Bookshops are losing their place on the High Street. It is children in relatively deprived areas who are paying the highest price, slipping into a world in which the imagination never extends beyond a computer game. Where are these readers most likely to be found? Scoffing Happy Meals, of course. If a hard-eyed corporation cleverly exploits the fact that children are being deprived of all that books and stories offer, then to oppose it, from a position of privilege, is hypocritical and snobbish.” 

  • Libraries: where does the future lay? – Winstonsdad’s Blog.   “… we maybe need some new ideas like shops having libraries or communities banding together ,with uk literacy at 99% but the truth is one in five people have trouble reading .We need free access to books for the most of the population so even if they don’t want to read I m not a dreamer but if  they are there people have the chance to access them and borrow a book !!”.  

Changes

Local News

  • Brighton and Hove – Mobile library to be scrapped – BBC.  Geoffrey Bowden, the cabinet member for culture, said keeping the libraries open was an “important victory”. Mr Bowden said the mobile library was expensive to maintain and would cost more than £120,000 to replace. A consultation on changes to the library service begins on Monday and lasts until 10 February.”
  • Brighton mobile library closure hits vulnerable – Argus.    “The cabinet wants to save £62,000 a year by stopping the service completely. It is used by 865 people.According to cabinet member for culture, recreation and tourism, Geoffrey Bowden it would cost in excess of £120,000 to replace the vehicle.”
  • Calderdale – Village library saved by community group – Halifax Courier.  “The decision to move the library between Calderdale Council and Bailiff Bridge Community Association has prevented the library from potentially closing as part of the budget cuts and could even result in longer opening hours.”
  • Croydon – Is selling off library books ready for privatisation – Inside Croydon.  Yet moves are already well advanced to close the branch library on Central Parade, New Addington, with Bashford – not for the first time – contradicting her own statements by confirming the plans to move some of the branch’s books into the CALAT building, where the book shelves will share space with adult education and job centre advice services. Town Hall sources suggest that New Addington’s library may occupy no more than the foyer of the CALAT building.” … ““We do not know what the square footage available will be in comparison with the library,” Bashford said, confirming that this may not be the best thought-out piece of council work ever undertaken.”.  Bookstock appears to being cut in many branches.
  • Lancashire – Brierfield Library to close for £500,000 facelift – Pendle Today.  “County Coun. Mike Calvert, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “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 our libraries not only remain open but provide modern, flexible resources, fit for the 21st Century.”
  • North Somerset – Council plans for library cash cuts unveiled – Mercury 24.  Several community libraries will be open up to eight hours less a week, while Banwell will see its facility close, as recommended in 2009.”… ““We want to continue to provide library services to communities that currently get them. For us to do this we are proposing some changes to opening hours and different ways of working, but this is better than closing libraries completely.””
  • Nailsea library opens for less hours – Nailsea People.   “Self-service terminals could also be introduced in most libraries and the local community involved. The council has to save a total of £47.3m.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library hours cuts debated – Wetherby News.   Sherburn-in-Elmet and Tadcaster libraries may have hours cut after consultation. 
  • Shropshire – Library homework clubs face the axe – Shropshire Star.   Government funding for homework clubs removed so clubs likely to close in March.  “Between 150 and 180 families get vital help from four after-school homework clubs based at libraries in Harlescott in Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Market Drayton and Craven Arms. Three of the clubs were launched in 2004 with Oswestry opening a couple of years ago.”.  Clubs cost £20k per year.

“The benefits of library homework clubs are well documented. Not every child wants to remain in school after hours, especially where there are issues such as bullying or peer pressure.  “The clubs take place in a safe, neutral environment and offer mentoring and emotional support as well as homework help. Parents are able to discuss their children’s progress in an informal, non-judgmental environment.”

  • Westminster – Grammar guide is most borrowed book in Westminster – London 24.  “But while the great and the good of the literary world celebrate their success, it is the lesser-known Martin Hewings who takes the ultimate crown as the author who sits atop Westminster libraries’ lending pile. An honorary research fellow at the University of Birmingham, Mr Hewings has seen his English study and reference book, Advanced Grammar In Use, checked out and renewed 783 times over the past year.”

UNISON and WI unite to Lobby for Libraries

Comment

The big news today is that there is going to be a combined lobby of parliament on Tuesday 13th March.  It will be at the Central Hall, Westminster at mid-day.  It’s great to see such disparate groups as the WI and UNISON joining on one platform for this event.  Let’s hope that, all together, they can make their voices heard.

Library supporters to unite for 13th March rally -BookSeller.  UNISON, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Voices for the Library, Library Campaign, Campaign for the Book and CILIP support rally.  “From midday, protestors from around the country will hold a rally with speakers before visiting MPs to give their thoughts on the closures.” See also Voices for the Library and UNISON websites

“Abby Barker, from Voices for the Library, urged anyone concerned for the future of the library service in the UK to get involved in the lobby. She said: “This is your chance to tell your MP how vital your local library service is, and to ask them to call the secretary of state to task over his noticeable lack of involvement.”

““The NFWI is delighted to support the lobby of parliament. A threat to local library services is a threat to a community’s education and as champions of libraries for the past 96 years, WI members are gravely concerned that so many local authorities are riding roughshod over educational resources while the Government watches in silence. It is simply not good enough to assume that volunteers will step in to continue providing services previously supplied by professionals; the Government cannot rely on community-minded individuals to step into the breach to bridge the gaps, and the loss of professional expertise is irreplaceable.” Ruth Bond, Chair, NFWI.

““Cutting libraries is not an easy solution for councils to save cash – it is a literacy time bomb for deprived communities.  Community groups are being held to ransom by Government plans to force them to take over the running of services, or lose them. These groups don’t have the time, skills and resources to take over the jobs of experienced library staff. A shocking 30,000 children are leaving primary school with a reading age of seven or below and libraries are a vital lifeline for community groups. We need a national vision of a modern library service, as an investment in the future generation.” Heather Wakefield, UNISON.

“Public libraries still have a wide-ranging role in encouraging literacy and education as well as providing literature for leisure and information. MPs need to know what a real 21st century library service can provide – so that they can join the thousands who are trying to prevent their branches being closed and services mutilated.” Andrew Coburn, Secretary of The Library Campaign

“A reading child is a successful child. The National Literary Trust has found that a child who goes to a library is twice as likely to read well as one who doesn’t. The UK currently stands at 25th in the PISA International Reading ranking. Libraries are vital to improving this position. We have to fight for the defence and extension of public library services.” Alan Gibbons, Author and Organiser of Campaign for the Book

“The professional skills and expertise of library staff are core to providing the public with a quality library service. Volunteers should supplement and enrich a professionally led service, not replace the knowledge and skills of staff. We are concerned that public library services in England are being damaged; the impact will be felt now and in the long term. We urge the Secretary of State to use his powers of intervention where there is clear evidence that the Public Libraries & Museums Act (1964) has been potentially breached. It is wrong to view public libraries solely as a cost; by providing opportunities for learning and literacy development libraries are an investment in communities, families and individuals.”  Annie Mauger, Chief Executive of CILIP

417 libraries (326 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.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be 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.

Actions you can take

News

She also suggests making strong use of your local library – admitting as a child she used to love wiling away the hours in her local library. There are such a range of books in your libraries. You never know what your child might be interested in or what might spark their imagination. It may not be the books you have heard or brought home. Allowing them free run to choose what appeals to them may surprise you!” Gruffalo creator comes to Derry – Derry Journal.

Changes

Bath – Consultation on closing all mobile libraries, online questionnaire.
Bolton – Highfield Library closed today.
Brent – Front of Willesden Green Library may be demolished
Leeds – £70k spent on Hunslet Library to improve building (leaky roof, failing windows, partially so
that the currently unused half of the building can be leased to another organisation.
Nottingham – Consultation ends on libraries future plan

Local News

  • Bath – Meetings called over future of Bath libraries – This is Bath.   Public consultation over proposal to close the councils’ mobiles.  Two meetings will take place after the official end of the consultation period. 
  • Bolton – First axed library shuts today – Bolton News.  “Highfield Library will shut at 5.30pm and a replacement neighbourhood collection service will start in its place from Monday. The collection service will be set up in the foyer of the Orchards building, in Highfield Road, which will also continue to be used as a social hub for the local community as a children’s centre and school, council chiefs said.”
  • Brent – Council Executive on Willesden Green library demolition – Save Kensal Rise Library.   “This meeting will discuss the report on the proposed development of Willesden Green Library, which includes the demolition of the old building in front of the modern library. A proposal has been put to the council that they keep both Kensal rise and Cricklewood libraries open whilst the development is carried out. There will be speakers from the libraries that have been closed by the council.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Libraries at the cutting edge – Argus.  The minority Green administration says it has managed to find £440,000 of savings in the library service without closing any facilities.”.  Two libraries are affected.  Opposition councillors oppose cuts.
  • Essex – Debt collectors being sent in to recover library fines – Yellow Advertiser.   “Last year the authority claimed around £648,000 in fines and say it could have been considerably more with more resources. A council spokeswoman said the agency would only look at people who owed more than £20.”. [Councillor quoted says agency has worked successfully elsewhere “including Kent”. However, it’s a bit early to tell in that case as Kent only announced the agency would be involved in late November – Ed.]
  • Hackney – Name row library to open – Hackney Citizen.  “The £4.4m project hit the headlines last year when Hackney Council announced plans to ditch the late C.L.R. James, a popular Afro-Trinidadian historian and journalist, from its name. Diane Abbott MP described the move as “an insult” to the author’s memory – he opened the existing Dalston library which bears his name – and 2,500 people signed a petition which helped reverse the decision.”
  • Kirklees – Future of Honley Library to be debated in public review – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Clr Lyons said: “We were assured that the fate of the actual library is secure but staffing could be a problem. “The library officers seemed to make out that we knew what was going on, but we didn’t. “What we want is categoric support for the library in Honley. It’s a multi-functional place that’s much more than just books. There are computers and the schools come down to use it.”
  • Leeds – South Leeds: £70,000 project launched to restore Hunslet LibraryYorkshire Evening Post.   Problems inc.  leaking roof, poor windows, dreary interior.  Half of library currently in use as a library, council plans to lease the other half to another organisation when the work is done.
  • Nottingham – Citizens have their say on libraries – Council Watch UK.  1900 returns on libraries consultation.  “Not unexpectedly book borrowing was the most frequently used service and the one which was regarded as the most important. Children’s activities were also highly regarded, whether used or not by respondents. Wi-fi was the main service citizens wished libraries offered, particularly customers amongst younger age groups and non-users.”.  Wifi and e-books to be considered.  Views evenly split on the use of volunteers. 
  • Redbridge – Two-thirds of library members in Woodford Green not borrowing books – Guardian series.  “Concerns have been raised over the future of libraries in Redbridge after it emerged that two-thirds of library card holders in Woodford Green are not using them. Research by Cllr Paul Canal revealed just 3,000 of the 10,000 cardholders registered with Woodford Green Library in Snakes Lane West have borrowed an item in the last year.”.  Use it or lose it, residents advised.
  • Somerset – U-turn over future of libraries – View Online.   “In making the decision, Councillor Lawrence, cabinet member for community services, also outlined the council’s approach to deciding the future funding and shape of the Library Service. Elected members will consider the future of the service as part of a service review due to start in April, 2012. All of the Councilís services are being reviewed over the next 18 months. The council aims to install self-service technology into its ten busiest libraries, which will include Chard,  and opening hours are due to be reinstated by Monday, February 6th at Chard, Crewkerne and Ilminster. Funding for South Petherton will not be withdrawn.”

The dog does not bark

Comment

Somerset Council have entirely taken back their decision to close libraries and mobiles after a successful legal challenge brought against them by their users.  This should be a great victory for everyone and, certainly, the campaigners involved should be proud and deserve their celebration.  However, there are clear indications that the council thinks they can simply close them down again by this time making sure that they go through all the legal stuff properly that they messed up the first time around.  If this happens and their legal interpretation proves to be correct – Gloucestershire Council appear to be thinking along the same lines – then this makes it all, in the words of one councillor, meaningless.  I truly hope that this is not the case.
For what it is worth, I think this shows the importance of the Secretary of State in all of this.  The councils think that they can get away with it if he is, through action or more likely inaction, effectively on their side.  Their lawyers must be calculating that if Jeremy Hunt or Ed Vaizey didn’t lift a finger last time then they’re not going to this time.  The CMS Committee on Library Closures must be aware, or be made aware, of this elephant in the room when it comes to the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.  There’s no point in statutory protection if the person whose statutory duty it is to enforce it simply will not do so and cannot be forced to do so.

There is a Sherlock Holmes case which hinged on a dog not barking.  Well, the Secretary of State is not making any noise at the moment and that is why many smaller public libraries appear to be in danger of being murdered. 

424 libraries (333 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?

    • Book the singer of the “We Need Libraries” songs to promote the cause at a place near you.
    • Freedom of information requests to the MLA – If you are wanting to know what information the MLA (the former quango with some responsibility for public libraries), put in FOI requests as soon as possible.  The MLA still has a skeleton staff but this will be wound up shortly and it will be harder to gain the information when it is. Requests to MLA for information about what they know on library closures should be put in early, to allow for time to complain to the ICO before May.  Groups may want to seek informaiton (a) in the form of notes, minutes, memoranda or correspondence relating to any discussions or meetings after [date] with [the relevant authority] concerning reorganisation of the library service and any reports to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport relating thereto, and (b) otherwise as thought appropriate on the facts of the individual case.
    • National Libraries Day, 4th February 2012 – Organise an event or publicise an existing one on the excellent NLD website.

News

  • Find a libraryCulture Grid.  Type in your location, it tells you where your nearest library is.  Simples.
  • Libraries are essential, trade tells MPBookSeller.  BookSeller’s Association says volunteer-run libraries are “unsustainable”.  “Libraries are valued by publishers as a means of developing new audiences and encouraging general enjoyment of reading, thereby complementing the role of the high street. At a time when bookshops are under pressure, this kind of support is crucial.”  Society of Authors says many authors dependent on libraries.
  • McDonald’s: UK’s biggest children’s book seller – Telegraph.  Happy Meal will, as a one-off, come with a book (Mudpuddle Farm) instead of a plastic toy.  “Literacy campaigners said it did not matter if McDonald’s decision was prompted by a desire to improve its image. Eight out of ten all families with young children visit the fast-food company at least once over the course of the year, so there was a strong chance they would end up with a book.”
  • National Libraries DaySchool Library Association.  “The School Library Association is proud to be a partner in this important event and will be announcing various resources over the next few weeks that may be of use to you in your library.”.  Includes poster and ideas. 
  • Selfridges to open in-story library – Guardian.  Stores sets up 15,000 book pop-up library as part of its Words Words Words event. At a time when many libraries are under threat, the department store has opened a pop-up branch for the next seven weeks. “Although the temporary nature of the library means visitors will be unable to take the books away, they can use the 3,500 sq ft space as a reading room and as a bookstore. They can also listen to audio books at listening posts, and read works on iPads.”
  • Things to cut before closing libraries – Leave Our Libraries Alone.  A list of suggestions, often with a highly humorous twist, about, well, things to cut before closing libraries.

Changes

Swindon – eBooks introduced. Stock fund will probably be cut by 15%, spending on magazines and newspapers halved
Warrington Board members vacancies advertised for Warrington Cultural Charitable Trust, including libraries.
West Berkshire Newbury Library hours to be cut three hours per week to cut £15p.a. from budget.  

Local News

  • Dorset – Libraries seek volunteers – BBC.   Nine branches could close if enough volunteers are not found.  Portland Underhill especially likely to close.  “Tracey Long, head of Dorset Library Service, said if communities were not “ready or willing” to take on the responsibility of running the libraries the council may look to close them” [referred to as “blackmail” in BookSeller article above].  Also, there are worries about the long-term viability of volunteers once the enthusiasm wears off.
  • Somerset – Library victory “could prove meaningless” – This is Somerset.   “County councillor Derek Yeomans told Langport town councillors last week that the authority would continue to review all its services and that new consultations on the future of the county’s libraries were likely.” … “Mr Yeomans suggested that the county council would merely do the consultations again, ensuring complete compliancy with equality laws, before reaching the same conclusions. He said: “The libraries will go back to as they were before with the old opening times. “What we will then have to do is have more consultations and address the equalities issues we were pulled up on.”
  • Swindon – Library to introduce eBook scheme – This is Wiltshire.   “Swindon Council’s library service has recently signed a deal with American firm Overdrive to provide eBooks and downloadable audiobooks from next month.”.  Comment is interesting: “That is great news. Since getting a Kindle I haven’t been to the Library and feel bad about not supporting them anymore. So I can still do it now :D”
    • Consultation due to end on council’s planned budget cuts – Swindon Advertiser.   “There would be savings from libraries by bringing down the stock fund by 15 per cent, in line with similar councils, and reducing the range of newspapers and magazines by 50 per cent.” … ““There’s usually one or two areas in the budget that might initiate campaigns but we’ve had absolutely nothing like that this year.”
  • Warrington – Board Members advertised for Cultural TrustWarrington Council. “As board members you will act as non executive directors of the organisations. Meeting monthly initially and four times a year when established with a similar number of pre-briefing sessions. You will champion effective delivery of neighbourhood leisure, wellbeing lifestyle and library services via the community interest company and cultural services via the trust. “
  • West Berkshire – Changes to Newbury Library opening hours – Newbury Today.  Library will be no longer open 5 to 7 for two evenings a week but will be open one hour longer on Saturdays.  ““It doesn’t make sense to spend public money on keeping such a large venue open for so few people at the end of Mondays and Tuesdays, but makes perfect sense to extend Saturdays when there is likely to be a demand.
    “The net result will be a reduction in opening times of three hours a week which will also save £15,000 a year to help the council balance its budget, while at the same time meeting public need.”

Private Eye Libraries News Special

419 libraries (328 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?

News

  • 6 myths about why we don’t need libraries any more – Private Eye. [Not available on internet but Alan Gibbons’ copy of text is linked].  Myths are (1) people don’t go to libraries (40% of adults do, 80% of children), (2) Everything is online (libraries provide subscription stuff for free and a lot of material that will probably never be digitised), (3) books are cheap (only supermarket bestsellers are and even these are too expensive for those on limited incomes), (4) libraries are not about buildings (yes they are, at least to some extent: for study space, meeting place, free space), (5) fewer libraries mean better services (not for those who need libraries the most and are limited to local amenities e.g. those on pensions, benefits or who are schoolchildren), (6) everyone is online (a lot aren’t, including 3m children and many older people).
  • 2012 Library RFID User Survey – RFID for Librarians.  RFID is the technology often used in public libraries for self-service machines, although it has other uses too.
  • Help! How much help should libraries be? – Undaimonia.   The question comes down to: how do libraries best help people? Is it by addressing their short-term need for information or is it by addressing their long-term need for information literacy? And who gets to make this decision: the librarians; the students; the university management? And since ‘helping’ is part of a library’s raison d’être, the question of what level of help to provide leads to the question of what a library’s purpose is. Bob Usherwood wrote a great post for Voices for the Library about the purpose of public libraries and their corresponding level of help. Do we need to ask the same existential questions for academic libraries?”

Joy of Books – This must have taken forever to do and is quite magical.

  • National Libraries Day is February 4th – Information Review. “Library users and supporters are being encouraged to organise a celebratory event, to contribute to the forums by tweeting with the #nld12 hashtag and by visiting their local library in the week up to and including February 4.”
  • New year, new cut – Information World Review.  This is an article recommending everyone have a look at a certain blog called Public Libraries News which “remains as essential as ever” due to the CMS Select Committee Inquiry into Library closures.  [Sounds like a great website 🙂 – ed.]
  • On borrowed time? A Libraries News Special – Private Eye.  [Not available online but Alan Gibbons’ copy of text is linked] A full page in the magazine on library cuts including:
    • Bexley volunteer-run library charging membership, “In 2012, more and more areas will be offered a choice of this kind of library…. or nothing at all.”, “since March 2011 proposals to close, merge or give away libraries to volunteer groups have rocketed”.
    • Doncaster 14 branches closed/forced onto volunteers “But that’s all right because last week the authority    announced it has now “improved and modernised” its service with the launch of a new   “digital library” with ebooks to download at home. So, good news at least for library users who can afford fast internet and e-reading  devices?  Er, the digital library contains a grand total of 456 titles and, thanks to Amazon’s restrictive rights management, doesn’t currently work with Kindles.”, 
    • Kirklees is cutting branches, 
    • Buckinghamshire’s “success” volunteer-run libraries admit their model would not work in less prosperous areas. 
    • Privatisation/outsourcing efforts so far “underwhelming”: LSSI has none while Lewisham’s outsourcing appears unsucessful so far. 
    • Suffolk following Glasgow’s trust model, despite problems.  
    • Coaltion government failing to do anything, with action being left to communities needing to organise their own legal challenges.
    • Bradford Library reduced to lower floors due to unsafe stairs and other needed building work that would cost £4m.  Councils is “spending more than £24m on a brand-new paved  park next to the town hall, consisting largely of a mirror pool with over 100 fountains,  which will claim the useful distinction of being, er, the largest “man-made urban water feature” in the UK.”.
    • Kent and Essex have hired US debt collection agency. “Both authorities have refused to say how much they are paying out to Unique  Management Services to collect the funds, citing commercial confidentiality, but local charities have suggested that the more usual book amnesty might get the missing stock back without scaring vulnerable library users with debt collection letters.”


Changes

Local News

  • Bexley – Bexley and Bromley library merger takes shape – Bexley Times.  “The merger was not supposed to happen until April but was brought forward after Bexley had its mobile library service axed in July when 24 workers lost their jobs.”.  “Bromley council leader Stephen Carr, said: “Shared services give us the opportunity to make necessary savings during this unprecedented time of financial constraints, while continuing to provide efficient services to residents. We are utilising skills and knowledge from services in Bromley and Bexley to benefit both authorities. We look forward to working more closely with our neighbours in Bexley.”
  • Calderdale – Library opening hours will be slashed – Halifax Courier.  Community services spokeswoman Coun Pauline Nash (Lib-Dem, Skircoat) told Calderdale Council Cabinet that reducing opening hours was the only way to avoid library closures. “There are times when every library is very very quiet and by changing the opening hours, we are trying to spread the load,” she said. In a survey in 2010, users said they wanted longer opening hours.” [I wonder how many of the public said to cut opening hours in order to pay for new computers for systems analysis?  Ed.]
  • Gloucestershire – Library Service’s book fund: where has all the money gone? – FoGL.  “Since the early 1990s, Gloucestershire’s spending on library services in general, and the stock fund in particular,  has been one of the lowest of any shire county nationally (measured by spend per head of population). The annual spend on stock was usually between £950,000 and £1.1 million per year in Gloucestershire.  This may seem a lot but between 43 libraries is actually quite a low spend.”.  Stock fund (books/CDs/other materials) has reduced from £1.193m in 2007/8 to £351k in 2010/11.  Due to court decision, council is spending more in 2012 to make up for last year’s cut.
  • Hackney – To see new library opening this monthNet Lettings.  “Spread over three floors and covering 2,964 sq m, the new site features adult, teenager and children’s sections, with each area colour-coded for ease of getting around, while a quick picks area is also available for those in a hurry.”
  • Milton Keynes – New Woburn Sands Library to be opened by author Josephine Cox – MK News.   “The new library is the result of a new Partnership Agreement between Milton Keynes Council and Woburn Sands Town Council. The library is more accessible than the current premises in Hardwick Road and is located in a prominent site on Woburn Sands High Street.”.  “The refurbishment of the new premises is being paid for by local housing developments through Section 106 funding to provide community facilities.”
  • North Somerset – Library opening hours cut – Mercury.   Newly opened (nine months ago) Portishead Library to have its hours cut.  “Councillor Felicity Baker, executive member for libraries, said the need for cost-cutting was a ‘blessing in disguise’ and allowed the council to examine its library practices closely and encourage them to work together more effectively. She said: “I actually believe all the communities around North Somerset will have a better service.”
    • Council proposes library changes – BBC.   “Christina Cook, from Unison in Bristol, said: “Once again the council’s cuts are having the greatest impact on the community and the service the community loves. “It’s brilliant to hear that no libraries are closing but the impact of this whole proposal is on significant changes to staff hours and how the libraries will be manned.”
  • Rotherham – MP praises novel way to start reading – Star.   “John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, gave his backing during a visit where he saw just how popular the project is. And he pledged to mention the scheme during a Parliamentary debate he has organised on Government policy on early reading programmes. Mr Healey said the Imagination Library – which sees children under five receive a new book every month – should be extended nationally. He said: “Schemes like this help children’s imagination to grow and set them on a path towards a lifetime of loving books. Children whose parents read with them from a young age are more likely to succeed in later life.””
  • Surrey – County Council responds to legal threat over library plans – Eagle Radio.  Legal came came too late and is misjudged”.  Council also says it is too late to appeal on decision first made in March 2011 and that forcing volunteers to take over libraries or see them close is not the same as officially closing them.  
    • Council says libraries group “too late” with legal threatGet Surrey.   “A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “We believe that SLAM has left it too late to start proceedings in the High Court. The decisions they want to challenge were made in March and September 2011, beyond the three-month limit required to launch a judicial review. “The mobile library service ended on 30 September 2011 and plans for community partnership libraries are well advanced, with the first one expected to be up and running on Saturday 4 February.”
  • Thurrock – A new vision for borough’s libraries – Thurrock Gazette.  “The results of a Thurrock libraries survey in September and October showed that of the 745 people who took part, 344 wanted different opening times at their closest library.Other changes suggested included more refreshment facilities and the roll out of Wi-Fi as well as more activities for children and toddlers.” 

Good news

Comment

It is a sad truth that, most days, writing this blog is a fairly depressing experience.  However, occasionally, just occasionally, good news outweighs the bad.  Today appears to be one of those days. Caerphilly is proclaiming a very impressive list of library upgradings and openingsHackney is about to open a new library twice the size of the old one it replaces and promises to be one of the biggest in the country.  Nottinghamshire has committed to keep all its libraries open and is reopening Mansfield Library after a £3.4m investment.  It seems more likely, too, that Somerset will be keeping all its libraries open.
Sadly, behind this good news there’s a year of bad, of course.  In 2011, Hackney cut its library staff by a quarter last year and cut down events from 500 to 200, mainly to be run by volunteers.  Last year, also, Nottinghamshire almost halved opening hours in many branches, losing 80 jobs and a third of its bookfund.  Somerset – well, most readers of this blog will know why Somerset is being nice to its libraries.  Because campaigners went to the Law Courts and won a case to force them to.   There’s a lot of effort behind that good news and the money still needs to be saved there: libraries may not close but the money still apparently needs to be saved.  Which is not going to be easy.
Caerphilly is the joker in the pack.  That seems to be genuinely all good news.  Strange that.  Until one realises, Caerphilly is, of course, not in England.  It’s in Wales.  They have library standards there.  Actual standards that library services are measured against and made to feel bad about if they do not do well.  In England, councils who brutally cut their libraries have no such worries.  They appear to be able to do as they will. 

426 libraries (335 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?

News

  • British Library hires lobbyist Susan Adams to strengthen voice in Parliament – PR Week.  As head of advocacy Susan Adams will promote the British Library’s issues, activity and policies to external stakeholder groups, including government and Parliament.” … “‘The library contributes a great deal to the social, economic, cultural and educational life of our country, and I’m looking forward to communicating this wide-ranging impact to policy makers.”
  • Dan Jarvis: a very unlikely arts minister – Guardian.  Shadow libraries minister recently served with Special Forces in Afghanistan and had just received a MBE for his military record.  “Jarvis is a confusing proposition as shadow culture minister. On the one hand, there is his self-confessed unfamiliarity with the subject. But that is offset by what is clearly a burning sense of duty, wrought from years in the army, to do a job well. The danger is that as soon as he has assimilated enough to be an effective shadow to Ed Vaizey, he will be reshuffled. Needless to say, he counters this, saying that he hopes he and his boss, shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman, will be doing their current jobs in government in three and a half years’ time.”
  • Glad tidings of mood-boosting reading – Guardian.   “As the yearly dump of diet and health titles hit bookshops, here’s another reason to love libraries: branches across the country are promoting “mood-boosting” books through January, with titles ranging from Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie to Tove Jansson’s wonderful A Winter Book. The promotion, says organiser The Reading Agency, follows research that shows reading improves mental wellbeing and reduces stress by over two-thirds.”
  • Priceless? A blog on the very idea of measuring cultural value – DCMS Blog.   “The aim of this interactive blog is to consult widely with the cultural sector on issues and concerns surrounding ‘measuring cultural value’, especially the public value of the arts, heritage, libraries and museums.” … “DCMS has a finite budget, and not everything can be funded, so how should DMCS go about deciding what to support with public money? Is the economic case the bottom line?”

Changes

Local News

  • Caerphilly – Residents urged urged to visit their libraries – South Wales Argus.  A new library has opened at the former Palace cinema, Risca, Blackwood library has undergone a £200,000 transformation, while a new facility is set to open in Abercarn and the restored Newbridge Memo will incorporate a library. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries was set up last week, seeking to ensure that public sector cuts don’t devastate the provisions around the UK. But, in Caerphilly county, the future of libraries looks bright.”
  • Croydon – Everything’s rosy in Wandsworth – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.   Regarding Wandsworth deputy leader’s  very pro-privatisation piece in Guardian: no residents suggested privatisation, financial advantage is highest priority in securing deal (not maintaining or improving service).  “Given Croydon’s current situation, now at breaking point, over the running of Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL), only a fool would try to negotiate another joint council deal. Yet, despite being incapable of working with Lambeth on UNJL, Croydon was silently setting up this deal with Wandsworth and forge ahead with their plans.”  Analysis of cuts to Croydon and Wandsworth so far does not appear to show future is quite as promising as the headling.
  • Gloucestershire – Public meeting for Matson Library’s future – Friends of Matson Library.  “The meeting is not only for Matson residents but for anyone who cares about the future of Matson library. The Council will be publishing their draft proposals on or before the date of the meeting before they go to the council cabinet on 20th January then public consultation on 1st February (ish). It is vital that we let them know our views before it goes to the cabinet.”
  • Hackney – New super library set to open its doors – London Evening Standard.    “A new state-of-the-art public library is to open in Hackney, the first to be built in the borough for more than 20 years. Dalston CLR James, set to open its doors on January 23, is twice the size of CLR James library which it is replacing – making it one of the country’s largest.”

“We want this brand new library to be a community hub, somewhere that all residents can make use of whether it’s for books, study space, the free use of computers or to hold community meetings and events.” The building will stock more than 32,000 items – including 9,500 children’s books and 17,000 for adults, as well as more than 1,600 free CDs and DVDs. It also has 20 dedicated study spaces, 57 computers and free wi-fi.”

  • Liverpool – Future is ragged trousered schoolkids, says Larry Nield – Liverpool Confidential.  The “Big question is whether the people of Woolton Village will take over running of their doomed village library – I guess they will, and with so many academics and bookworms living in the south Liverpool “brain valley”, the library could end up as the best stocked in the city. “
  • Nottinghamshire – Mansfield Library opens after £3.4m investment – BBC.  “Mansfield Library has reopened after £3.4m of investment from Nottinghamshire County Council. The refurbishment to the facility on West Gate included essential repairs to the building which has made it the biggest library in Nottinghamshire.”

“Councillor John Cottee, cabinet member for culture and community, said: “They are the hearts of our communities.You only need to look at the different ages of people using the library in Mansfield and see the different things we have on offer.”

  • Somerset – South Petherton Library saved from the axe – This is the West Country.   “A council spokesman said: “The decision to be taken on January 11 would confirm our actions to restore library services in response to the Judicial Review judgement. It would also approve the council’s approach to deciding the future funding of the library service – that elected members should consider taking a fresh decision following a service review scheduled to start in April.””

One year ago today in Stony Stratford

Comment
 
It was  year ago today that the Save Stony Stratford Library campaign started clearing it’s beloved branch of books in order to increase publicity and thus pressure on their council.  The scheme worked, probably beyond the campaigners’ wildest dreams, leading to articles such as this and this and this and then, well, it just snowballed.  One year later and Stony Stratford Library is still open.  Well done to them. 

426 libraries (335 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?

News

  • Charities scared to speak out amid cuts, says report – Guardian.  In a pointed reference to the government’s “big society” rhetoric, the panel warned that charities’ contributions to society could be eroded if safeguards were not introduced to preserve their independent voice.” … “The proportion of voluntary sector organisations delivering public services rose from 20% to 31% between 2008 and 2010. But the overall funding pot is shrinking, with some estimating as much as £3bn could be lost from the charity sector by 2015 as a result of Whitehall and local government funding cuts..”
  • Computer charging – Posting on PUB-LIBs discussion site on current state of play, anonymised from responses by discussion board members.
  • It’s time to privatize the Chicago Public Library System – Concerned Citizens of Chatham (USA).   ” It would help the system make good on the promise, of building stand alone branches, it made to a number of communities. Also, they could restore extended hours to those facilities that justify the need and bring in modern technology (i.e computers, e-readers, etc). When we look at most college bookstores in our city. most carry as many books as our branch libraries. Would it be a strech for them to start a new division to run libraries?”
  • Reading Agency to cheer up readers – BookSeller.  “The launch will kick off with an event at Canada Water library on Monday 23rd January with authors Mark Haddon and Michael Rosen, whose essays both feature in Stop What You’re Doing and Read This!. The book will feature as BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week” between 9th and 13th January, with Vintage also launching a digital marketing campaign this month to encourage debate around the importance of reading.”
  • We need libraries single/tour – “We Need Libraries single released 29th January to coincide with National Libraries Day 4th Debruary, all profits going to library campaigns,available at itunes,amazon etc this is the amazon link,please keep it! http://www.amazon.co.uk/We-Need-Libraries/dp/B006TOAT2U. It will be accompanied by a tour,1st confirmed gig 30th January Manchester Ram and Shackle, Wilmslow Road, more to be confirmed soon including hopefully a London date! If you are a promoter or venue please get in touch with me if you would like me do a gig at your venue/night ,or if you’re just a punter please suggest a gig to any suitable venues/nights email weneedlibraries@hotmail.co.uk”

Changes

Local News

  • Brighton and Hove – Greens asked to “come clean” over Brighton and Hove library services – Argus.  The Green minority administration says it must carry out the steps, which includes a review into library opening hours and not replacing the mobile library, to meet the Government-imposed cuts.”.  ““Quite clearly, it appears that the Greens have the manual on U-turns out on long-term loan.””. Conservatives attacking Greens for being pro-library in opposition and now planning £170k (4% cuts).  [To be fair to the Greens, this is probably one of the lowest cuts in the country and they are planning to replace a mobile library with a new library – Ed.]
  • East Sussex – Multi-million pound expansion plan for Hastings Library Observer series. “library service in Hastings is set to be expanded under a multi-million pound plan which could include a new archive and register office.”, “refurbish the existing library and bring together the adult and children’s library on one expanded site. The register office and archive service could also be relocated to the new building.”

“We live in times when library services in some other parts of the country are being cut back. It is very encouraging that we will be getting an enhanced library facility.”

  • Gloucestershire – Change in library hours welcomed – Cotswold Journal.  Moreton Library will have its hours extended from 12 to 23 after Gloucestershire County Council approved plans to share the library premises with other bodies.” … “Library users in the Cotswolds have something to look forward to this year with library hours returning to normal in some areas.”.  In comments, campaigners says “There seems to have been some important information ommited here. Gloucestershire County Council have to reinstate ALL library opening hours to previous levels on order of the High Court after their library cuts plans were ruled unlawful in November 2011.”.  Article also includes description of Oxfordshire library moves towards keeping libraries open with volunteers.
  • Kirklees – Protest meeting in Honley over library plans in villages – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  Meeting organised by Book Group over plans to transfer seven libraries to volunteers. 
  • Liverpool – Letter to Liverpool Echo about library cuts – Alan Gibbons.  “As a city and a country can we really afford to downgrade the importance of literacy in this way? Are too many of our citizens reading Shakespeare and Dickens, Shelley and Bainbridge? Are hospitals full of people suffering the effects of a literacy overdose?”
  • North Somerset – Plans for library cuts unveiled – Mercury.   £347k cut in three years, inc. opening hours and staffing cuts, more self-service and more volunteers.  ““We want to continue to provide library services to communities that currently get them. For us to do this we are proposing some changes to opening hours and different ways of working, but this is better than closing libraries completely.”
  • Oxfordshire – Office move sparks fears for future of library – Oxford Mail.   Oxford Council is closing its offices that share the building of Headington Library, causing worries about the future of this “core” library.
  • Sandwell – Controversy as Sandwell Council cuts to opening hoursHalesown News. 20% budget cut over next 3 years: 6 libraries (Cradley Heath, Blackheath, Brandhall, Bleakhouse, Rounds Green and Langley) to have reduced hours, services will be merged with other authorities, less staff, more self-service.    “Cabinet member for leisure services Councillor Linda Horton said: “The council is facing significant reductions in its funding and in line with expected reductions Libraries and Archives face a 20 per cent loss of net expenditure budget over the next three years.”
  • Surrey – Novel approach as library campaigner wins award – Get Surrey.  East Horsley Parish Council has given award to Mr Smee who “was most notably involved in the campaign to save Horsley Library after Surrey County Council announced that several would be turned into volunteer-run community sites.”
    • Spiteful vandalism of precious library – SLAM.  Tattenhams Library has had counter taken away, with services entirely replaced by one self-service machine.

      “This library is now out of the loop. The supply of new books has dried up. Staff cannot help the public to request books, to override the system when sensible, or to look up their PIN if a computer is free. As time goes on I’m sure users will be shocked at how little “service” is left. Staff are reduced to shelving and to helping disgruntled, if not furious, people to borrow and return books. What a way to spend their last weeks in a job that they used to love.”

  • Warwickshire – First community library opens in Kineton – BBC.   “Kineton branch is now run by Friends of Kineton Library after Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet approved cuts to the service last year.”.  Users can issue with council library cards.  Article includes video with chairman.

“Mike Harris, chairman of Friends of Kineton Library, said: “It’s very important that we have a library in village, particularly for the elderly who will be able to have access to books. The village is losing facilities, such as the police and fire stations, and as ordinary citizens we can’t do much about it. But when the library closed, we could do something about it and maintain the availability of the library to people in the village.”

  • Worcestershire – School receives books boost from MPWorcester Standard.  “Mr Walker has decided to give the books to Gorse Hill Community Primary School after winning the prize in a library-themed quiz at the launch of the new Libraries Group in the Houses of Parliament.”