Comment

Another nail in the coffin for the incredible statement made by the Local Government Association (LGA) to MPs that the “closure of a library does not automatically mean a decrease in access to library services“.  Recent figures from Brent show a 20% drop in usage, 104,000 fewer visits and 129,449 fewer books issued since it decided, against gigantic massive opposition, to close six (even seven) of its twelve libraries.  The LGA made its statement in its submission to the Select Committee Inquiry into Library Closures.  Let us hope that the MPs on that committee notice the basic fact that, duh, closing libraries does equal less usage.  Withdrawing funds from libraries does mean less visits.  Reducing the bookstock does mean less borrowing of books.  Refusing to intervene in the library cuts, Ed Vaizey, does mean more libraries will get cut.  In fact, of course, it’s not a duh moment.  Regardless of how they may come across, Ed is no that much of a (hard of hearing) Homer Simpson.  In fact, he and the LGA know perfectly well the truth.  They just think that, given the need for massive cuts, public libraries are not important enough to save.  It is up to us, who realise that they are, to make sure that they don’t get away with it.

News


Print is not dying – as reported in the Guardian.
Although, to be fair, this film was produced by an
airline magazine company.

Changes

Local News

  • Barnet – A tale of two Barnet libraries - Broken Barnet. Saving library reject “after a year of campaigning by highly committed members of a local group, (see above) on various spurious grounds, including the inability to provide any further funding. The reasons given are irrelevant, in fact, because of course the intention has always been to close the library so as to free the building and grounds for sale and development.”.  Hampstead Garden, though, in Conservative ward gets “all necessary support until at least 2016, or as long as the volunteer suburbanistas do not get bored with playing librarians”.
  • Brent – Number of visits to Brent libraries plummet by thousands - Brent & Kilburn Times.  Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveal that in the five months after the libraries closed, there were nearly 104,000 fewer visits compared with the previous year. In the same period, 129,449 fewer books were issued.”.  Usage has gone down by 20%.

“These figures are really important because it leads to the question – is Brent Council legally providing a comprehensive and efficient library service?”

  • Calderdale – Cuts in library hours go ahead - Brighouse Echo.  “Following the results of the Libraries Review 2011 consultation, the savings will be achieved through the reduction of opening hours of 13 libraries, saving £45,000, reorganisation of the mobile library service to focus on people who are unable to travel to a library, and those in residential care, to achieve savings of £105,000.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Library initiative planned for 15 years - Leighton Buzzard Observer.  “The challenge for the service is that it needs to deliver more than £550,000 of efficiency savings in running costs by 2014. This will be achieved by investing in technology and reducing back room costs. In the next two years £850,000 of capital investment will support the implementation of self service technology, developing the 24/7 online library, modernising buildings, and piloting library access points in rural communities.”
  • Gloucestershire – Seven Gloucestershire libraries expected to lose funding - BBC.  “The authority’s new library strategy is suggesting 31 council-run libraries, with seven run by local communities.” … “The council proposes to offer community-run libraries the chance to buy library buildings or take over leases on a peppercorn rent, and an annual grant of £10,000.”
    • Community groups offered help in library cuts plan - This is Gloucestershire.   “Councillor Mark Hawthorne (Con, Moreland), leader of the council, said: “We are beefing up our offer to the community so we can provide that extra help to those groups who are considering taking on a library, but want the additional help we can offer. During our consultations more than 82 per cent of people said they broadly supported our strategy, so that’s a good basis to take this forward.”
    • “More misleading information from county council”: Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries comment on library strategy consultation - FoGL.  There simply is not the support for the proposed cuts that Gloucestershire County claims there to be.  The draconian attack on our library service, which costs less than 1.4% of the council’s overall budget, but which gets 3 million visits a year, remains deeply unpopular and disproportionate. There are serious concerns raised in the consultation report that we are waiting for GCC to address.” … “We have passed all of the relevant paperwork on to Public Interest Lawyers who were successful in the judicial review case brought against Gloucestershire County Council.”
  • Isle of Man – New chapter for mobile and family libraries? - Isle of Man Today.  “Age Concern has confirmed to the Manx Independent that it put forward a proposal to run the mobile library and underwrite it for three years – but that another organisation has come up with a better offer.” … “The mobile library currently has 335 adult members with 244 paying an annual subscription of £15. A total of 91 have free subscriptions and of these 33 use the home library service. There are 114 junior members with 110 paying the child’s £2 subscription and four receiving free use of the library.”
  • Isle of Wight – Skeletons have a tendency to rattle - Alan Gibbons.   David Pugh, leader of the Isle of Wight and proponent of volunteer-run libraries was reported in the Mirror many years ago in a suspected vote rigging incident.
  • Islington – Petition launches to save historic archives as London Metropolitan University says it can no longer maintain Women’s Library and TUC collections - Islington Tribune.   “The priceless collections could be broken up and, unless a new sponsor can be found by the end of the year, both libraries will close to the public six days a week. A petition has attracted 2,500 signatures since the threat was revealed last week in the Tribune. Professor June Purvis, Emmeline Pankhurst’s biographer and editor of Women’s History Review, said: “We are all devastated about it and hoping that some university will take in the collections.”
  • Leicestershire – New library hours begin - Lutterworth Mail.   “The changes will affect libraries in Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Broughton Astley, Fleckney, Kibworth and Great Glen. Leicestershire County Council said that no redundancies across the county have been made as part of the changes.”
  • North Somerset – Self-service the way forward for North Somerset libraries - This is Somerset.   “Councillor Felicity Baker, North Somerset Council’s executive member with responsibility for libraries, said: “Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who responded to our consultation. We have listened to your comments and where possible have matched proposals more closely to them, especially on the opening hours. We face severe financial pressures but we are still able to maintain, and where possible, invest in library services.”
  • Shropshire – Innovation key to survival of libraries - Shropshire Star.   “The county’s libraries have escaped swingeing cuts in the latest review of services by Shropshire Council. But Councillor Keith Barrow has warned that if libraries do not move with the times, they may not come through any future cuts to council budgets unscathed.”.  2 mobiles have been stopped.
  • Thurrock – Calls to save library from closure - Yellow Advertiser.  “Wendy Herd, from Aveley and Uplands, fears for the future of Aveley Library after it was named on a list of properties that could be sold.” … “We’ve four OAP complexes within walking distance of Aveley Library so closing this facility will affect many elderly people particularly those who don’t have a computer at home and use the library to get online.  “It would be terrible if the council does decide to close the library.”
    • Leader promises libraries will not be sold off - Yellow Advertiser.   Council says rival councillor “…is obviously struggling to find a line for the Tory election campaign. He thinks if he says the council is selling off these libraries enough times people will believe him. Let me say now, and hopefully for the final time, this claim is absolutely not true!””
  • Warwickshire – Final chapter but Gail had a ball - This is Tamworth.  Successful small Dordon library that “bucked the trend” in usage is closed, passing on to volunteers.  Librarian looks back at her years there.

“I cannot begin to say how devastated I am that something that held such promise has had to end, but I also know that the community group has worked so hard in trying to keep the library open and so much credit must go to them.”