Doncaster campaigners have confirmed that they will be taking legal action against their Council.  Surrey campaigners have already started along this road following in the footsteps of Somerset, Gloucestershire, Brent and the Isle of Wight. 
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/ 

News

Arts Council England opens consultation on the libraries of the future - Arts Council England.  “Envisioning the library of the future will begin with an assessment of trends in society which may affect the delivery of library services in the future. Following on from this, we will undertake a programme of consultation with library experts. In mid March 2012, an online consultation will open to all, with a series of short articles prompting public thoughts and opinions on the future of public library services, providing a deep understanding of the public value of libraries.”

  • “Give Mayor control of all London public libraries” - London Evening Standard.   “Tim Coates, who was the chain’s [Waterstones] managing director and now campaigns on libraries, said a single service with a centralised management function should replace the separate services in the 33 London boroughs. The duplication of administration costs £80million a year out of the £200million spent on the capital’s 380 libraries, he claimed.”

Justin Tomlinson (North Swindon, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many libraries were (a) closed and (b) opened in each local authority area in each of the last five years.

Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)

Data about the library sector are published annually by the Chartered institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and are available for the last five years. The Department supplements them by monitoring proposals about changes to library services across England through information gathered via correspondence, media coverage and from relevant bodies such as Arts Council England. It is difficult to get an accurate picture, as many local authorities are still developing and consulting on proposals and consequently the overall picture is always changing. While a definitive number is open to interpretation, we understand, from information we have gathered to date, that fewer than 50 static libraries ceased to be funded by their local authority between April and September 2011. Of these, responsibility for around a dozen libraries has been transferred away from the local authority and they remain open. Initial assessments also suggest around 40 libraries are being refurbished or are being opened—for example, large scale library building and improvement is happening in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Blackpool, and significant new builds have opened, for example in Southwark and Hertford.” (Hansard - via They Work For You 20/2/12). 

Changes

North Somerset - Backwell Library to close from April. 

Local News

“Disappointed campaigners say they have been “robbed” of their community library after plans to relocate its services were given the go ahead on Monday. More than 3,000 people signed up to the Save Friern Barnet Library (SFBL) campaign, but despite their desperate attempts to save the much-used public space, Barnet Council’s Cabinet ruled in favour of its closure on March 31.”

  • Brent – Libraries fight latest - Harrow Observer.   “Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Tokyington, Preston Road, Cricklewood and Neasden are now just shells after Brent Council emptied them of books and equipment.”.  DCMS “minded” not to intervene, campaigners still fighting.  ““We are submitting yet more evidence to his department in the coming week and are taking advice from our legal team on the options available to us.””
  • Brighton and Hove – An open letter to Brighton Green councillors - Bear by Sea. “My worry is this; once the principle of a small cut here, a small cut there is established what next? Will a change in opening hours this year progress on to a full closure next year?”
  • Carmarthenshire – Library plan’s cash setback - This is South Wales. “”Ammanford library scheme not going ahead now due to unsuccessful Cymal bid,” said the report.”
  • Conwy – Public meeting called to continue fight to keep Penrhyn Bay library open - Weekly News.  “People have vowed to fight to the end to try to keep Penrhyn Bay library open. And after a meeting with Conwy County Council officers, have decided to set up a steering group to formulate a plan for residents to run it.”
    • Volunteers needed to help run library - North Wales Pioneer.  “Despite the Penrhyn Library Users Group (PLUG) being dissolved, former members believe that the library can be saved if enough interest is shown. A meeting will be held at St David’s Church Hall in Penrhyn Bay, at 7pm on Thursday March 8, where organisers will ask the public what they want from their library and how much time they could put into it.”
  • Croydon – Milly, aged six, tells Croydon Council off - Crystal Palace Local.  “Six-year-old Milly Maker has written her own letter to Croydon council telling them what she thinks of their plans to stop funding the Upper Norwood joint library from April 1st. We reproduce it in full:…”
  • Doncaster – Legal action planned against Doncaster library cuts - BBC.   “Lynne Coppendale, of campaign group Save Doncaster Libraries, said taking this action was a “great sadness”. She added the mayor and cabinet had been inflexible “from day one.” Meanwhile the council said 200 people had already volunteered to help the library service and it appealed for more people to come forward.”
    • Volunteer appeal for community libraries - Yorkshire Post.   “Doncaster Council unveiled plans last year to off-load 12 of the borough’s libraries to be run by volunteers, and the scheme is set to begin in the next four weeks. Yesterday, the authority said “really good progress” had been made with around 200 volunteers coming forward, but appealed for more people to cover the required hours.”
    • Save Doncaster Libraries and judicial review - Save Doncaster Libraries.  “SDL has never said the public library service was perfect, we acknowledged improvements and changes were necessary.  However we dispute this meant wholesale closure of Denaby and Carcroft and vehemently decry the change to Community Libraries of 12 others, whereby communities were forced to volunteer or lose them (closure by stealth).”
“Any donation, no matter how small, can be managed by contacting SDL treasurer John Sheppard, email address johnshep50@talktalk.net; telephone 07951382703, or by contacting the blog author (see contact link above) for discussion of your preferred method. Please note that if donating by cheque it should be made out to ‘Save Our Libraries’.”

  • Durham – Public meeting on cuts to library - Teesdale Mercury.   “The Friends of Barnard Castle Library organisation is rallying residents to voice their opinions  on Durham County Council’s controversial proposals. The council’s cabinet last week agreed to seek feedback on plans to reduce opening hours at Barnard Castle Library to 36 hours a week.”.  Mobile libraries also to be cut.
  • Gloucestershire – Mr Hunt, action is overdueFoGL.  Library book budget is amongst lowest in country and will be cut even further to less than 79p per resident.  The Secretary of State should take his duties seriously and intervene.
  • Greenwich – Organise against the cuts in Greenwich - Socialist Party.   “Over 1,300 members of the public have signed the Unite survey cards opposing the transfer. Nearly 500 have signed petitions. Now, following a council decision to press ahead with the transfer despite the huge opposition, Unite members in libraries are preparing for strike action and a real victory is possible.”
  • Kent – So what were Kent’s secret plans for libraries? - Infoism.   Lists the 45 libraries that were originally aimed for offloading by the council.  “With this number of libraries under threat, Kent could see the largest assault on public libraries in the country.  And all this in an authority that is headed up by the Secretary of the Society of Chief Librarians
  • Lambeth – Cooperative libraries consultation - Lambeth Council.   “Our ‘pop-up’ library idea is that we could have library services in different locations such as community centres or even cafes – this is about finding and creating a service that meets your needs. If we can get this right then these places can become the centre of our communities.”
  • Leeds – Friends group in battle to save Leeds community centre - Yorkshire Evening Post.   “The Friends of Rawdon Library led a determined campaign to stop Leeds City Council from closing the venue and replacing it with a mobile service last year. Now the team of volunteers have to demonstrate to the authority that the community hub is worth saving for future generations.” … “council bosses have agreed to look at the possibility of Rawdon staying open and being put in the hands of the community under a system known as Community Asset Transfer.”
  • North Somerset – The end for library - This is Somerset.   “Backwell’s scaled-down library service is to close from April – with villagers being left to rely on a fortnightly mobile service.” … “A number of books were transferred to the library along with a computer which the public can use to check books in and out. But the authority is now planning to withdraw the £600 it costs to run the service. It has asked Backwell Parish Council to step in but it refused after learning that the computer had been used for only 92 minutes during the last month.”
  • Sheffield – Save Sheffield Libraries campaign meeting - Library Workers for a Brighter Future.   “Come and talk about what we can do to protect libraries in Sheffield, at the Quaker Meeting House, Wednesday 29th Feb, 6.30pm onwards. (Donations for room hire very welcome!).  Just because there are no libraries closing doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems – the cuts are affecting the service, and there are more to come.”
  • Warwickshire – Warwick Library to reopen on Monday - Coventry Telegraph.  “The town has been without a library for last few weeks as it moved from its former home in Barrack Street to its new base in Shire Hall. The move is part of a refurbishment of the council’s headquarters and comes as cuts were made to libraries across the county, with several closing.”
  • Westminster – Two locations in the running for new Marylebone library site - Ham & High.   Existing library to be sold off next year … “ut the council is now committed to building a new library either as part of a larger mixed-use development alongside housing at Luxborough Street or on a vacant car park site at Moxon Street.”
  • Wokingham – Libraries in SpotlightBracknell News.   The “executive committee is due to approve plans to move to the tendering stage of the process after more than 20 companies submitted bids in June last year to take control.” … “It is hoped that the partnership will save the council £170,000 each year, but the plans led to uproar from residents who feared library closures, job losses and cuts in services. It also brought the first debate in the history of the council triggered by a public petition, which contained 1,500 signatures.”
    • Council defends bid to privatise libraries - Get Wokingham.   “The council agreed to investigate privatising its libraries in May 2010, with the expectation of appointing a partner in March this year, however the project has been delayed and is now expected to be operational by October.” … “Although the council is putting conditions in place, such as engagement with library users when making decisions, there is no specific condition to keep all libraries open.”.  All the comments after the article are negative.