407 libraries (317 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  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

  • Call me irresponsible: a meeting with Ed VaizeyFoGL.  “Vaizey is responsible to the Secretary Of State, Jeremy Hunt, for superintending public libraries. Yet both Vaizey and Hunt have not lifted a finger to stop the widespread cutting of public library services in many parts of the country, notably Gloucestershire.” … “In the 45 minutes of the meeting. Vaizey shifted his ground constantly, showing time and time again his lack of conviction, or even interest, in the serious plight of the public library service.”
  • Defence of the book: a story by Julian Barnes - Guardian.   “To mark National Libraries Day, the novelist adds an extra scene to his 1998 satire England, England in which he imagines what happens when the ‘National Coalition’ closes every library down.”
  • Four fantastic libraries - Fantastic Reads.   Looks at four fictional libraries – the ones in Buffy, Lirael, Discworld, Harry Potter … “Hogwart’s Castle, has another great magical librarian, Madam Irma Pince, for whom JK Rowling has apologised, explaining that if she helped Harry, Hermione and Ron the way she should, there would be no adventures!”
  • I can’t believe you’re throwing out books - Perfect Whole.   “What I’m done with is the fetishization of the codex, with books for books’ sake.  I see no point in stockpiling stories that no longer speak to anyone, scientific knowledge decades out of date, speculations about the future that never came to pass, information shaped blithely by the racism and sexism of its time.  But more than anything else, I’m finished with the idea that books just by virtue of their existence are precious things that can never outlive their usefulness.”
  • Julia Donaldson poem against library closures - Telegraph.   Excellent save libraries poem. “Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow, And help make sure it’ll still be here tomorrow.”.  See also Children’s laureate Julia Donaldson pens protest poem - BBC.  “If we lose libraries, we would lose readers and we would become a less literate country,” she said. “People are kidding themselves if they think adults will download books to their Kindles if they haven’t got the reading bug as children,” she added.”
  • My National Libraries Day Out - Information Twist.  Visits to the British Library, CLR Dalston Library, Canada Water Library, and the “Idea Store” in Whitechapel.
I estimate I was probably taking out aroud 100 books a year by the time I was 10, and reading dozens more in the library itself. My parents could not possibly have afforded to buy that many books, and so without the library my world would have been a lot smaller, a lot duller, and I doubt I’d be doing the job I do today.” National Libraries Day - Barry Hutchison.  

  • National Libraries Day: The real cost of library cuts - Huffington Post (USA).   Excellent article showing the importance of local, real, community libraries. Visit to Newbiggin Hall Library in Newcastle.  “The group of local residents sat around Eileen don’t agree on everything, but for a surprising variety of reasons, they agree on this: their library means a lot to them. And they’re worried. Because in the coming weeks, the building they’re sat in is going to be demolished.” … “When I heard that Newcastle City Council were planning to shrink it into a nearby community centre, cut the opening hours and reduce the staffing down to one, I wondered what sort of an impact this would have on a working class area that supports four schools and a population of 11,500, 24% of which are on benefits and 53% of which have no academic qualifications whatsoever.” Impact in poor area shows the lie to the accusation that libraries are middle class and not important.
“Among the hardest hit by closures at libraries like this one will be the group in society least able to object: local children and teenagers, who use the space as a warm, safe place to hang out in the evenings.”

  • National Libraries Day 2012 - Geeks shall inherit the Earth.   1 in 3 children aged between 11 and 16 do not own a book in the UK.  “This isn’t just about the economy and having a skilled workforce, although that’s a big deal in itself, it’s about quality of life and creating the future. The report suggests that the potential of a huge number of children and young people is being squandered and that’s not only a shame, it’s a crime.”
  • No one in charge - Good Library Blog.   Minister says councils are responsible, councils say its government cuts, chief librarians say its the councils, etc.  “Today is National Libraries Day – may I here offer my congratulations to all those who have striven to make people aware of what is happening to our public library service. You have done a wonderful job. … and people are aware. You needed to tell local councillors to watch out for what they do – and you have. And it has been cold, bleak, infuriating and diffcult. But you have told them.”
“… 407 are now closed, on death row, facing privatisation or being handed over to the community to be run by volunteers. Frankly, the last two options both sound like mere stays of execution. This is, of course, a direct result of Britain’s austerity measures, imposed by ministers whose local libraries, you might think, had insufficient copies of the works of JM Keynes.”
On borrowed time: Britain will regret the current wave of library closures but that does not mean that its network must stay the same - Financial Times.  Another excellent article, so good I am going to quote it twice:

“And now all the Foggy Furzes, like the country stations, are being mourned by people who never made use of the facilities when they existed. Among adults, library usage has been declining quite sharply – there were 253m book issues in 2003-2004 and 215m in 2008-2009. Against that, the figures for children’s books are up. And the other side of the argument also holds good: Dr Richard Beeching, the Fat Controller who axed the trains, could read a balance sheet but utterly failed to predict the renewed importance of railways in the 21st century. One detects the same lack of strategic vision behind the current tactics.”

  • Save our libraries - Taking words for a stroll.   A poem to celebrate.  Not sure I like the “stern-faced” librarian bit though.  There is another one, Threatened Species
“I love reading because of libraries and I have no doubt, that I am a writer today, because of all the books I devoured from their vast shelves . . .”Today is National Libraries Day - Susan Condon (Eire).  

Changes

Local News 

  • Brent – A truly Dickensian night at the Windermere - Preston Library Campaign.  Readings from the man of letters and Whitbread Prize-winner Paul Bailey and music from the inimicable CLOS made it an night to remember. Let’s not forget the children – and yet more distinguished authors, like Leon Rosselson, Kaye Umansky (below), Daniel Kitts, Dyan Sheldon and Jenny Newland. Brent has no plans to ever hold an event locally here. That ended when they closed our only portal to the council, and lied to us that they would make it up via “outreach””
    • Campaign will go on: despite Supreme Court setback - Preston Library Campaign.   “Samantha Warrington, Preston Library supporter, believes there should be a public inquiry. She said: “We have always been pursuing other routes. Now the legal avenue has closed we hope there will be a public inquiry and that Brent will consider alternatives in a way Camden has done it so positively.””
    • Labour leader’s plan to save libraries, just not in Brent - Preston Library Campaign.   Comment on Dan Jarvis MP’s article: “Blaming the government for allowing them to close, he is silent on the fact that in Brent, it is his own party that has been fighting for the right to close libraries.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Brighter future ahead for threatened library - Thame Gazette. “Long Crendon Library has been handed a lifeline after Oxfordshire [sic] County Council agreed to a partnership system which will give communities a far greater role. Plans are in place to improve the village library’s opening hours to reflect demand, to offer a toy library and extend the range of activities to include film nights, educational classes and a delivery service for those who find leaving the house difficult.”
  • Camden – Council approves community run libraries - BNC TV.   ““We will be doing everything possible to support these groups and make this innovative approach a success before handing over the keys to the community”, added Councillor Siddiq.”

National Libraries Day - Marcus Moore. Tapestry made by library supporters, with a pro library poem on it, toured Gloucestershire Libraries.

  • Gloucestershire – National Libraries Day in Gloucestershire - FoGL.  This was a day for celebration, but it is also worth reflecting that if it wasn’t for campaigning by us library users, many of the libraries where events took place today would have closed their doors for good last year – some still might, including the library with the highest usage per head of population in the county, Minchinhampton, where people of all ages took part in a vibrant programme of events today.”.  All events organised by the public as the Council chose not to be involved.
  • Leicester – Alternative budget “can save homes and libraries” - This is Leicestershire.   “It comes after city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby put forward budget proposals last month which, if accepted, would see the council’s eight care homes closed or sold, three libraries shut and subsidised bus travel for students axed.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Peter Gaw, of Notts County Council, talks about libraries as the UK celebrates National Libraries Day - This is Nottingham.   “The county council did not close any of its 60 libraries amid the challenging budget reductions last year because the belief is that once a library closes it is very difficult to reopen in the future.”
  • South Tyneside – National Libraries DayCILIP Local Studies Group.    “Author Denise Robertson, and Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Culture and Neighbourhoods, opened events.  Throughout the day we are having a readathon – local people, writers, authors, library staff, volunteers are contributing. “
  • Surrey – A last minute stay of execution for nine of Surrey’s libraries - Eagle Radio.  “SLAM have won a Judicial Review at the High Court into the matter.  It’ll start on the 20th February – and look into Surrey County Council’s plans to have volunteers run 10 of Surrey’s libraries.”
“The Council has stopped trying to argue for the plans from a cost-saving perspective, and rightfully so, because the claimed savings are just 0.1% of the libraries budget and it has been established that the Council has not been recording the costs involved in setting up the CPLs, and have no idea how much it will cost to support them. With no cost-benefit justification, we are now wondering why they are so intent on committing a significant amount of Council-taxpayers money on a full Judicial Review that , judging by what the Court has decided to date, they look very likely to lose.”

    • High Court grants permission for Judicial Review - SLAM.   “The Royal Courts of Justice in London has ordered that Surrey County Council’s library plans will be subject to a Judicial Review. In a four and a half hour hearing on Friday, Judge Thornton QC concluded that the case against SCC had sufficient prospects of success to warrant the full scrutiny of the High Court.”.  Several technical objections by the council were overruled.  Byfleet Library will be allowed to become volunteer-run but may revert back to council control if review is won by the campaigners. £12,000 still required for £15,000 legal fees.
    • Court orders pause to library plans - Surrey Heath Residents Blog.   
  • West Sussex – Libraries call for book donations after cuts hit - Argus.   16% cut in budget 2012/13: public asked to donate books, bookfund cut from £1.2m (2010/11) to £1m (2011/12) 
  • Wirral – Council consults on library plans - BBC.   “The proposals include integrating many library services and staff with the council’s One Stop Shops … The new Wirral Library Service Strategy reveals that, while nationally library visits and book lending has fallen, in Wirral there has been little change in visitor numbers and book issues have increased.”
  • Worcestershire – Use the town library now or lose it, warn councillors - Malvern Gazette.  ““There is a squeeze coming, and unless we do everything we can to make our library an all-singing, alldancing facility then there could be trouble.”