Comment

In the Surrey judicial review, the council’s defence included the claim that volunteers give “equivalent service” to paid library workers. It was pointed out by the council’s barrister that the affected employees were not professional librarians.  She went on that some of the volunteers thought it was “offensive” that campaigners would think that they could not do the work.  It is unclear when the judge in the case will give his verdict, which the campaigners think is “difficult to call“.
There is a new chairman for the Industrial and Provident Society taking over the running of public libraries in Suffolk.  This seems to good news, as  the previous chairman, Clive Fox, did not seem to particularly impress those concerned with public libraries.  The new chair, according to reports, is made of better stuff.  We shall see.  Whatever the case, and I would not like to say if Mr Fox was pushed or went of his own accord, this has to been as a shaky start for the experimental governance of a county’s library service.  An authority’s public library service deserves better.

News

  • Enhance your library through play – Librarygame.   “Librarygame™ adds elements that make games engaging and delightful, directly into the library experience. As well as giving library users a fresh and useful social discovery interface, librarygame provides librarians with useful at a glance statistics on how their library is being utilised.”
  • Navigating your library through the “perfect storm” – Ken Chad Consulting.   Interesting presentation on strategy and what libraries need to think abut in getting one.
  • PM urges states to set up public libraries – Deccan Herald (India).  “I see a great hunger for knowledge in our country. We need to provide our people, particularly our youth, access to quality books. I take this opportunity to urge every state government and every municipality and panchayat to pay special attention to the setting up and maintenance of public libraries, including community, locality and village libraries”
“It is with this objective in mind that we recently commissioned a National Mission for Libraries, anchored in our Ministry of Culture. The Mission will focus on improvement of the public library system of the country particularly concentrating on the states where library development is lagging behind,” [Shame this quote is from India].

  • Pomona rejects outsourcing of library management – Contra Costa Times (USA). After listening to residents speak in support of the Pomona Public Library and its employees Monday evening, City Council members rejected a proposal to pursue the outsourcing of library management services.”

  • Time’s up, Mr Vaizey – BookSeller.   “For months it has become increasingly obvious that Ed Vaizey is out of depth as the minister responsible for libraries—a suspicion that has now become a certainty. Called before the DCMS Select Committee last week, he flunked his big moment…young, inexperienced and, although a good communicator, he has nothing to say. No vision, no plan, no urgency … “.  Lib Dem spokesman Don Foster “notable by his absence”.  “The failure of the political class has been matched only by the energy of the local campaigners who have kept the issue alive.”
“As for Ed Vaizey one can but hope that when DC shuffles the Cabinet, something he hasn’t done yet, that he’ll get his comeuppance. Rarely says anything and what he does say is rubbish.” Mr G Metliss, Richelieu, France.  In email.  [Mr Vaizey’s record is now international].

  • Two years in: the real cost of the cuts – Socialist Worker.  The coalition government will have been in office for 680 days on budget day. An average of 625 public sector jobs have been lost on every one of those days, according to figures from the Unison trade union.” … “minister Ed Vaizey, speaking to a parliamentary committee on library closures last week, said the problem is that “the library issue is stuck in a binary debate about closures… we should be thinking creatively”. He then went on to talk about an example of such “innovative” thinking—a phone box in the US that local people had put some books in.”

Changes

Suffolk Sudbury Library merged with tourist information centre.  

Local News

“Speaking at the meeting, Unite branch secretary Onay Kasab told the cabinet that if they agreed the transfer, union members would strike, making sure they caused “maximum disruption”. He added: “This won’t be some token protest, one day letting off steam, we intend to take action we think will be necessary to get you to change your minds.”

  • Leicester – Ssh! City library could become a concert venue – This is Leicestershire.  The Central Lending Library, in Bishop Street, has applied for an entertainment licence to stage small, intimate gigs at lunchtimes and in the evenings. Adrian Wills, the city council’s head of libraries, hopes the upstairs floor of the building will become an alternative, alcohol-free venue to the nearby busy pubs, clubs and bars.”
  • Plymouth – Labour candidate’s leaflet sparks row over libraries – This is Plymouth.   “Mr Smith said the council should look at alternatives like moving libraries into supermarkets. He pledged that his party would not close any libraries if it got into power this May.”
  • Suffolk – New chair for county’s library board – EADT.   “Ms Bendix takes the reins from Clive Fox who, as the IPS’ inaugural chairman, took the organisation from the drawing board to the board room – putting in place some of the critical building blocks needed to establish the new organisation as a solid base for Suffolk’s library services.”
“I met Shona [Bendix]  when she and other Board members visited Stradbroke library recently and I think that she will make a good Chair of the IPS and I look forward to working with her as part of the Stradbroke Group.” James Hargrave’s Blog

    • Centre is on the move – Suffolk Free Press.  The [tourist information] centre, formerly in Gaol Lane, will now be based on the ground floor of the library on Market Hill as part of a plan by Sudbury Town Council for the former corn exchange building to become a “community hub”.”
  • Surrey – Library volunteers “would give equivalent service” – Get Surrey.   “… the authority’s lawyers hit back on Tuesday (March 20), arguing there would not be any equality issues because volunteers would be fully trained to provide an “equivalent service” to the current situation.” … “She pointed out that members of staff currently working in the council’s libraries were not professional librarians, but managers and assistants, and that volunteers would be capable of providing the same service to customers.” … “After hearing two days of argument, Mr Justice Wilkie reserved giving his judgement on the case until an unspecified later date.”
    • High Court reserves Surrey libraries decision – BBC.   “Slam spokesman Lee Godfrey said the judicial review would hold the plans up to scrutiny that the council “lacked throughout”. Councillor Helyn Clack, cabinet member for community services, defended the scheme and said the plan for 10 libraries to be run by volunteers was in order to keep Surrey’s 52 libraries in operation. She also said volunteers had been looking forward to launching their own community-run libraries.”
    • Campaigners in court fighting library plans – Guardian series.   “SLAM campaigners tweeting at the end of the hearing said it was “difficult to call” what the decision would be. Surrey County Council has confirmed it will be releasing a statement shortly.”