Great website for the lobbying of Parliament on 13th March
Attend if you can, invite your MP, send message of support.
“A great opportunity to spell out the value of public libraries to decision-makers and power-brokers. It’s a positive event and a chance to talk directly to your and other MPs. Really important that library users can go as well as library workers – its about important services; vital too that library ‘supporters’ – who may not be users today but they know their value to their families and the community (I don’t need a hospital or a school but I want them there – and pay for them). have a look at the website; there’ll be lots to see and do!” John 

399 libraries (309 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

  • Closing libraries?  Now that’s crazy - Independent (Boyd Tonkin).  “The most discordant enemy within has been the councils’ own umbrella body, the Local Government Association. In a fit of Orwellian Newspeak, the LGA blithely maintains that “closure of a library does not automatically mean a decrease in access to library services”. Yes, and (if you remember Nineteen Eighty-Four), war is peace; freedom is slavery; and ignorance is strength.”.  Visits local library as part of National Libraries Day march of 200 people at Friern Barnet Library.
  • Dan Cox Library for the Unfinished Concept of Thingly Time A project by Andy Holden.Including: The Language of the Flowers and the Stars. An exhibition within the Library with works by Ed Atkins, Ruth Beale, Steven Claydon, David Raymond Conroy, Michael Dean, Daniel Eatock, Grubby Mitts, Philip Jeck, Neal Jones, Mark Leckey, Georgina Leeson, Claes Oldenburg, Johnny Parry, Francesco Pedraglio, Heather Phillipson, Philip Root and Kurt Vonnegut. – Cubit Art Gallery.  
  • Digital library fallout continues - BookSeller.  Publishers are increasingly blocking library e-book provision due to fear of cutting sales [ahem, it never hurt your printed booksales - ed.] “If libraries seize the opportunity to loan ebooks and appeal to a wider and larger audience they could undermine today’s revenue streams. If they don’t seize the digital opportunity and remain wedded in the physical world they could spiral into obsolescence.”.  See also Penguin ends E-book library lending and relationship with Overdrive – PaidContent.org. 
“Just received the Conservatives’ Culture and Media newsletter and there is no mention of the Culture, Media and Support Select Committee on libraries. Some mistake surely.” Alan Gibbons

  • Welsh Heritage Minister gives his support for National Libraries Day - CILIP.  “Huw Lewis AM, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, has been presented with hundreds of ‘Love your Library’ postcards from Welsh Women’s Institutes. The postcards began with “I Love Libraries because….” and have been filled in by WI members across Wales, sharing their messages about why libraries are important to them.”

Changes

Local News

  • Brent – “Transforms” Town Hall Library into a rubbish dump - Wembley Matters.  Stock from closed library piles up in town hall library as insufficient staff to sort it.  Also, fears that community side of library will be lost when it moves to town hall.  Event days at nearby stadium will also mean entrance area too packed for effective use of library.
  • Brighton and Hove – Shake up for Brighton and Hove library staff - Argus.    “A document seen by The Argus shows budget proposals by Brighton and Hove City Council could lead to 17 post reductions as well as a change to the way the library service operates. Meanwhile the council would create new positions including library equal access officer and library income generation manager.”.  800 people sign petition against axing of mobile service. “The council estimates 17.84 posts will be lost with 10.7 of those eliminated by not filling vacancies.”

  • Darlington – Council announces plans to save Cockerton Library - Northern Echo.   “…the service now looks to have won a reprieve following an announcement from council leader Bill Dixon that the authority’s cabinet will be asked to consider keeping the library open, with reduced hours, for at least 12 months.”.  3000 name petition led to meeting between supporters, council and local MP.  
‘After our meeting with Bill Dixon, local councillors and our MP, as a group we would like to re-emphasise our thanks for a constructive and positive meeting. However the discussions about the library continue as a final decision will be made until the 1st March. The friends group will hand in a petition of 3000 signatures to Town Hall at 10am on the 14th February. The friends would welcome your support on Tuesday and also at the Council Cabinet Meeting on the 22nd February at Central Hall where they have been allowed 5 minutes to present their case. The meeting is open to the public. Thank you to everyone who has suppported the campaign’. Friends of Cockerton Library Committee

“1) the 5 volunteer run libraries are being funded by the parish councils through what I understand is an illegal rise in the Parish Council precept on the Council Tax (in the case of East Cowes a 21% rise in the current year).
2)  During and after the so called “consultation” many of the campaigners tried to get Cllr Pugh to meet us and to try and sort out a mutually agreeable way forward- the replies were varied, one lady emailed him on, I understand 7 occasions, and never had a reply, I was told “we know what we’re doing and I will not discuss it”.  The result was that  there was NO meeting of any kind between councillors and campaigners.
3) There never was a genuine impact assessment done- it was all done in County Hall after the volunteer steering groups refused to do it for them.” Isle of Wight – Email from campaigner.
  • Kent – Villagers hug their library as part of WI initiative - This is Kent.  Residents in Kemsing and Otford turned out this week to wrap their arms round their local services – literally.”.  Amazing photograph of loads of people hugging the library. 
  • Somerset – Book lovers show support for Watchet Library - This is the West Country.  People turned out in force to donate more than 500 books to Watchet Library as part of a National Library Day event on Saturday. The place was buzzing as library-users old and new joined the librarian, members of Watchet Library Friends and several local authors who donated signed copies of their books in support of the facility.”
  • Southwark – New opening hours for four Southwark libraries - Southwark Council.  Brandon, East Street, Grove Vale and Nunhead libraries will have hours cut from April.  £400k cut library budget 2012/14,  “More than 5,000 people responded to Southwark’s consultation with residents indicating that they would rather see reduced hours at some of the borough’s libraries rather than have library closures as has happened in other boroughs.” [5,000? Yes.  Five thousand. This sort of public reaction is normal for libraries - Ed.].  14% increase in visits for council libraries in 2010.
  • Surrey – Reprieve for Surrey libraries as volunteer plan goes to High Court - Guardian series.  “Following the review full time professional staff could still be returned to Byfleet. Speaking after the decision SLAM said: “We are very pleased with yesterday’s outcome and were heartened by the Judge’s comments that SLAM has shown a considerable commitment and dedication to the library service, and has shown significant resilience in coping with the hard work and stress necessary to bring to the Court’s attention this “potential abuse of power” by Surrey County Council.”
  • Warwickshire – Community library is on track - Redditch Standard.   Studley Village Hall will have library inside it when council closes current library on 23rd March.  “The project has also received an unexpected boost from communications company Talk Talk which has donated £1,000 to help with set-up costs.” … “In future the library will be funded by Studley Village Hall Committee and Studley Parish Council with some support from the county council. It is hoped the new library will be open on April 3. More than 30 volunteers have come forward to help staff the new library with training due to begin shortly.”