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.”