400 libraries (310 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.


National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ 

Doncaster – Appeal for funds for legal case against the closure of twelve libraries.  Anyone who wants to donate can contact SDL treasurer John Sheppard. Email johnshep50@talktalk.net or call 07951 382 703.

News

  • Boyd Tonkin: How to quench the book-burners - Independent.  “Dr Mastafa Jahic and his colleagues – including a cleaner and a nightwatchman from Congo – put their lives on the line to rescue 10,000 books and manuscripts, under sniper fire, from the library of the Gazi Husrev Beg mosque.” plus also Our barbarian bureaucrats about the closure of Friern Barnet Library:  “A new library is, in due course, promised at an arts centre elsewhere, but the timetable is clear as mud – again, par for the course with so many authorities. Polite, resourceful and eminently reasonable, the Save Friern Barnet Library campaigners justly feel that the council has treated them with scant respect. They certainly had no joy this week from Barnet CEO Nick Walkley, who earns £200,976 pa from public funds.”
  • Dame Joan Bakewell says sorry to Jamie Oliver over library campaign - Daily Telegraph.  “The veteran broadcaster had taken Oliver to task over what she claimed was his failure to support the bid, tweeting: “Jamie Oliver’s children use Chalk Farm Library. He won’t join the appeal to save it. Shame!” Oliver replied saying: “please get your facts straight joan I have offered loads of support”.”
  • David Harte: The book in a digital age - Birmingham Post.  What surprised me about the system is that once an ebook is taken out, it’s not available to anyone else. In other words, it works just like a real library book. Each book in the elibrary can only be taken out by one user at a time. Until you return it, no-one else can read it. These restrictions seem bizarre to me. I thought the digital age would be an age of plenty, of infinite available copies.”
  • Playwright Alan Bennett on libraries, cycling and “celebrity” neighbours – Camden New Journal.  “Mr Bennett said families in Primrose Hill and beyond should be able to take their local library “for granted” – and not be in fear that it could close down. The 77-year-old said on Tuesday: “I think that at this stage it doesn’t matter what children read or where they read it, whether it is in a book or on the computer, what matters are words.”.  Save Primrose Hill Library, in association with Primrose Hill Books, are inviting residents to an evening with Alan Bennett at Cecil Sharp House next Thursday (March 1) at 7pm for 7.30pm.
“People do say children don’t need libraries because they have got a computer – that’s rubbish,” he said. And it’s rubbish because they just don’t all have computers, poor children don’t have computers, and a lot of children who go to Chalk Farm Library will be poor. You are not supposed to say that these days, it is supposed to be bad taste to say that, but it is the case. The library is for every section of the community but it is the children who are the most vital it seems to me.”” Alan Bennett.

“Schools minister Nick Gibb met Tesco in February and March last year……The government did say the meetings were held to discuss literacy, reading and how to get children to read more.  But no more information, such as who came from Tesco, was released. The Eye pursued the matter under freedom of information laws, but the department refused to say anything about the meetings, simply pointing out that ministers needed to discuss sensitive and high profile issues without distracting, disruptive or otherwise detrimental effect of disclosure.  The Eye appealed, and while the minutes of the meeting remain secret, some sketchy e-mails were passed on.  They show that Gibb met Tesco boss Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who was accompanied by Tesco’s senior buying manager for children’s books and government affairs director.  Another e-mail says that between the two meetings civil servants set up a meeting with Tesco marketing team based on the direction the minister wishes us to go in.” The Tesco Problem, Private Eye, 10/2 to 23/2/2012.
  • Truth behind the “Team London Library” project - Stop the privatisation of UK public libraries.  Questions whether being a London library volunteer is additional to or, as the article suspects, replacing staffing.  “Another authority involved in the project is Hackney. Hackney libraries have cut 25% of the workforce but have recently advertised for a ‘Volunteer Support Officer’ costing £25-£27,000 a year, this isn’t ‘supporting’ this is a co-ordinated attack on paid library staff”
  • Vennesla Library and Culture House - Paranoias.  One of the most beautiful small library designs I have seen for a while, this one being in Norway.  Star Trek Meets Star Wars (doesn’t that look like the Jawa’s transporter from some angles?) meets Gutenberg.  

Changes

Local News 

  • Devon – Residents invited to see Colyton’s new-look library - Midweek Herald.  “Renovation and improvement work, costing around £35,000, is currently under way and the building is set to reopen on March 13. The library will have a new entrance and a new improved flexible layout, designed to make browsing easier and to expand the use of the building for the local community. A new self-service kiosk will be installed and a redesign of the children’s area promises to make it easier for youngsters to look for books.” … “Following the revamp, the library will be open for longer, with special ‘Library Extra’ sessions hosted by the Friends of Colyton Library group taking place each Tuesday from 10am to 12.30pm, which is when the library was previously closed.”
  • Doncaster – Legal fight to stop community-run libraries - Star.   “Mr Davies had proposed making £110,000 available to meet the running costs of the 12 libraries which are being switched to being run by their communities. But Labour has tabled an amendment which would see a £382,000 contingency fund created to provide a member of staff and a self-service machine in each of the community-led libraries, as well as re-opening Carcroft and Denaby libraries which were closed outright earlier in the year.”
  • Edinburgh – Libraries closure move is shelved - Scotsman.   £300,000 from reserves used to reverse cuts in opening hours after public protest.  “At 10,000 responses this is one of the biggest consultations we’ve ever had and it reflects how important libraries are.”
  • Gloucestershire – Tuffley Library to be a community hub? - This is Glos.  “”If the council was really interested in serving the community, rather than getting opinions on library closure, it would be gathering opinion on turning library sites with development potential into better facilities. “Even in the current economic climate it is necessary to look to the future as well as retreating from and repairing the damage from the past.” Mrs Howard believes the Windsor Drive site in Tuffley could become a real community hive of activity.”
    • Hester’s Way urged to have their say on proposal for new community centre - This is Glos.   “The hope is that the library would be moved to the Oasis centre building off Princess Elizabeth Way from its current location in Edinburgh Place. It would enable the centre to remain open and allow organisations to provide additional services. The site has a sports hall so people could get involved with activities including basketball, badminton, gymnastics, judo, zumba and football.”
  • Greenwich – Union plans legal challenge on Greenwich libraries - News Shopper.  “Their proposed challenge centres on cabinet member Councillor John Fahy’s organisation Meridian Link, which he runs with Mark Sesnan, managing director of Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) – the group given control of the libraries. During the cabinet’s library vote this month, Cllr Fahy declared an interest and abstained from the debate and subsequent vote. But the Unite union is asking why he did not do the same thing at a cabinet meeting in November when GLL was given control of leisure facilities and tasked with drawing up a plan for the libraries.” … “The union, which claims it has 1,400 signatures against the plan, also insists there was a lack of proper consultation with only three public meetings, which they say were called at short notice, and no online survey. Mr Kasab said: “The demand from the community is clear – no transfers, no privatisation, hands off our libraries.”
  • Suffolk – Swap it don’t drop it at Ipswich Library - Suffolk Reads.  “Bring your garments & accessories to out ‘swap it, don’t drop it’ event and look good for less. Whether it be shirts, skirts, dresses, jumpers, cardies, trousers, coats, jackets, shoes, handbags, necklaces, hats or more, simply bring what you want to swap, leave it on the swapping tables and take as much as you want when you leave. Simple as that!”
  • Waltham Forest – Chingford: library service launch date announced - Guardian series.    “A former Waltham Forest Direct shop in Chingford Mount Road was secured and volunteers have pledged their time to making the library a success.”
  • Wokingham – Libraries move closer to privatisation - Reading Chronicle.   “Four shortlisted companies have already presented ideas on how they would improve the library service if they were successful in their bid for the five-year contract. Cllr Ullakarin Clark, executive member for internal services, told the full council meeting: “We believe people in the borough deserve to have access to a library service that is fit for the 21st century and this will allow us to provide great value for money.”