Comment
Libraries news continues to be Big News.  The BBC gives coverage to the Select Committee on Library Closures, along with a video clip of my colleague Abigail Barker from the Voices of the Library group giving evidence.  She also appears to admit to illegal activity in this short clip but we’ll gloss over that as the longer video makes clear she did a grand job of defending libraries throughout the rest of the morning.  The Brent campaign has also issued a “Letter Before Claim” against Ed Vaizey for failing to act over closures in their borough.  That is likely to be a very big story in the weeks to come.  Locally, of course, library cuts are amongst the biggest news there is, with protesters in Halifax managing to rack up 1,435 signatures on a petition in just two hours.  Two hours?  The article then goes on to point out that “if that doesn’t sound very impressive, then consider that, on a national scale, it would represent around 500,000 signatures.”.  In two hours.  
That’s the Big News but a video from St Matthew’s Library in Leicester shows the small.  Videos show library users from the Somali community in Leicester talking about the impact that its closure (ahem, did I say closure? – sorry, I meant to say a transfer of stock from a library building into a community centre where staff will be replaced with a self-service machine) will have on them, their lives, their life chances and their community.  The video shows that libraries are for everyone, with local libraries being for everyone the most all.
And, that, ladies and gentlemen, would be Big News for many of the bureaucrats and politicians closing libraries today.
407 libraries (317 buildings and 90 mobiles) are currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

News

  • Goodbye, state funding for California libraries – KALW (USA).   “This past July, state library funding was sliced in half, and there was a trigger amendment attached to the budget that would eliminate state funding for public libraries at midyear if the state’s revenue projections were not met. Needless to say, they weren’t.”.  Local councils also pay for libraries so the cut does not mean loads of closed libraries but it will mean the end of many “literacy programs, InterLibrary Loans, and miscellaneous expenses such as librarian training programs and books. Libraries in rural areas will be hit the hardest because they receive more state funding than libraries in larger cities with larger budgets.”.  Ten years ago, the state gave nearly $57m p.a.
  • HOC Culture, Media and Sport Committee – Parliament TV.  Video of the inquiry.
  • Library closures inquiry begins – BBC.  “Librarians are as important as the libraries” Abigail Barker, from Voices For The Library: “The role of the librarian is almost being ignored.”.  Sue Charteris “said local authorities needed to look at their budgets to assess whether they could they run “a comprehensive and efficient service. You can’t reduce budgets and expect it to be the same but you need to see where the money is being spent and that needs to be done in consultation with the people that use the library.”
  • Library inquiry opens as Brent campaigners threaten to sue Vaizey – BookSeller.   “Public policy consultant Sue Charteris has told the media, culture and sport parliamentary select committee into library closures that Hillingdon libraries have been “a fantastic success” and that the triborough library project run in London is “a model” for the service to follow. “
“You can’t take 20-30% out of the library service and expect it to stay the same, but the more you do it in partnership with your local community, the more you will get robust decision-making and consensus.”

  • National Library Day raises importance of libraries in todays’s society – World News Today.  I fear for the future of libraries because councils are cutting funds and attempting to change what libraries are about. If they keep it is simple, providing books and information free to all, they won’t need to worry about anything else. People need libraries and pressure groups like Voices for Libraries or the #savelibraries campaign on Twitter to prove there is a groundswell of support. Councils and government don’t appear to be listening. They certainly aren’t learning. Maybe they should go down to their local library?”
  • Threat to sue minister over axed librariesLondon Evening Standard.   “…the group -which represents the users of axed libraries in Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Cricklewood, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton – is targeting the Government instead. Lawyers acting on their behalf have written to culture minister Ed Vaizey with a Letter Before Claim alerting him of his failure to act on the closures.”
  • Your favourite libraries and librarians – Guardian.   Public praise their local libraries and librarians:  “It’s very good because every time we go to it it is our favourite so we don’t want it to close down. Ps, it’s Wyke Library in Bradford. It’s very important. You should never shut people’s libraries. Libraries are good. We go to the library on Thursdays after school. Kate is our librarian and we like her because she is always getting us new things that we ask her for. We like reading different books.”

Local News

  • Brent – Fight libraries to continue – Harrow Observer.  Margaret Bailey, a director and trustee of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library and one of three who took the case to court, said: “I think in this instance what the judges have done is simply state the council decision was lawful, meaning it’s lawful to make cuts, but the impact of that is that things like the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act could be disregarded if local councils don’t have the wherewithal to enforce them.””
  • Buckinghamshire – Libraries go futuristic – Mix 96.  The days of overdue library books could be numbered – as libraries across Buckinghamshire begin lending e-books.”  People can borrow 3 ebooks at a time for three weeks each.
  • Calderdale – How the new Halifax Central Library will look – Halifax Courier.   “…the move faces substantial public opposition from people who say they would prefer to see the existing library restored. In just two hours on Saturday morning, members of the “Don’t Bulldoze Our Library” campaign collected 1,435 names on a petition. Coordinator Anne Kirker said: “If that doesn’t sound very impressive, then consider that, on a national scale, it would represent around 500,000 signatures.”.  There are 60 comments as of time of checking on this article.
  • Carmarthenshire – Review calls to book place for library in future – This is South Wales.  Council reviewing library provision, being seemingly very keen to emphasise the need for computers/online in preference to books/buildings.  Experienced library observers may be scenting large numbers of proposed closures in this council shortly, soon to be replaced by a massive backlash as users of those books/buildings show that they exist and are angry.

  • Devon – Self-service comes to Exmouth – Exmouth Journal 24.  “Self service kiosks have already been installed in fourteen libraries across Devon, and are proving a hit with borrowers, both young and old. “It is excellent news that we are investing in the library in Exmouth, and this new simple technology will be hugely beneficial to improving the library service experience for our residents.””
  • Durham – Fine condemns “short-sighted” Durham library cuts – BookSeller.  “According to a local news report, Fine, who lives in Barnard Castle, has spoken out against plans which are likely to see 250 library staff, the equivalent of 134 FTE posts, affected, as well as widespread cuts to opening hours and reductions in mobile services. Following the cutbacks, Durham county council proposes to transfer libraries to a charitable trust. The changes are due to bring £1.4m cost savings in the cutbacks, and £1m with the transfer to the trust.”
  • Gloucestershire – Make sure your views are heard – FoGL.   “This is a dreadful questionnaire of huge complexity, filled with loaded questions.  There have been rumours that FOGL were involved in designing it!!  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is designed by a company called Vector, who are being paid £60,000 by the council to manage the consultation process.  Because of our concerns and the many complaints, we have received, we have asked the council to withdraw this questionnaire.  If you do complete one, and find the questions unanswerable, make sure you use the white free text boxes to express your views.”.
    • Have a Dickens of a Week at Fairford Library – Wilts and Glos Standard.   “The town’s library is holding the special event from Monday, February 6 to Saturday, February 11 to mark the bicentenary of the author Charles Dickens’ birth on February 7, 1812.”
  • Isle of Wight – Shanklin Library now fully under local management – Ventnor Blog.   Shanklin Library now run by volunteers. “Maria Darbon heads up the volunteers for the library, of which there are currently thirty. These include council leader David Pugh who will doing a shift later this month. Maria tells us that all the volunteers have undergone training at library HQ with five more on the waiting list. The two and a half hour training session was followed by shadowing at Shanklin Library for two sessions.”
  • Lambeth – Libraries Campaign: Lambeth’s guide to how you can take part – Vauxhall Society. “Thanks to The Friends of the Tate South Lambeth, the Durning and other Vauxhall libraries and community groups such as The Vauxhall Society, Lambeth’s politicos and officials at last seem to have got the message that closing libraries is both a legal minefield and an election-loser.” …a guide ot how to put forward views in the consultation.