397 libraries (309 buildings and 88 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/  Download flyer here.

News

  • Another library is possibleLibrary Journal (USA).  A couple of advertisements in the most recent issue of Library Journal jumped out at me. One was an ad for library furniture with the tagline: “Want to look more like a bookstore?” Uh, do you mean like that big empty hole where Borders used to be?”
  • Language of leadership - Sue Hill Recruitment.   “A number of wry smiles were raised at the question of whether restructuring and severance programmes were being conducted on a truly strategic and sustainable basis, or simply on the basis of headcounts and political expediency.”  One librarian commented on the “on schadenfreude of finding their own redundancy resulting in no less than 5 new staff being taken on in another hemisphere”
  • Outsourcing public librariesKojo Nnamdi Show (USA).  “Cash-strapped communities across the country have outsourced services ranging from trash pickup to tech support. But in a trend that’s sparking debate around the country, more and more cities and towns are hiring outside contractors to run their public libraries. Some see the move as a savvy way to save money, while others worry about the implications allowing a private company to take control of the neighborhood library. We explore both sides of the issue.”.  Cutting public library funding was the second most popular choice in states last year.  LSSI declined to appear on the programme.

Changes

Aberdeenshire - Inverurie Library extended, library app for smartphones.
Blaenau Gwent – £15k cut as two mobiles to be replaced with smaller vehicles, increasing visits to homes and “community venues”
Cambridgeshire – Staffing increased at larger libraries to replace “reserve” system of having staff throughout county on call. 
Middlesbrough - Mobile library will end on March 31st, £50k cut.  £20k of this to move to housebound service. 
Wandsworth – Friends groups to start as pilot at Tooting and then be rolled out: to provide funds (inc. for maintenance), publicity, volunteers, other assistance.

Local News

  • Aberdeenshire – Library gets bigger and better - Inverurie Herald.  “Inverurie Library launched a new range of initiatives last week, designed to mix the best of new technology and the area’s rich history. The extended library was officially opened by Aberdeenshire Provost, Bill Howatson.” … “The expansion of the library means it will also encapsulate the Carnegie Museum, and will continue to exhibit items in dedicated display cases. A ‘pop-up’ museum service is currently being trialled across Garioch, which sees small collections of museum artefacts circulated between libraries to complement the static museum service.”
  • Bath and Northeast Somerset – Tories didn’t always support mobile libraries - This is Bath.   “the Lib Dem group had – readily – accepted the Conservative amendment to retain the mobile library service at least for another year and whilst the present consultation exercise is still ongoing.
  • Blaenau Gwent – Libraries set for changeSouth Wales Argus.  “There are currently two mobile libraries serving the county – one which directly caters for 196 housebound and visually impaired customers, and one which serves communities more than two miles away from a library building and visits 36 stops a week. Under the new plan, agreed by the education and leisure scrutiny committee last week, the council will have two smaller vehicles that can cater for more home delivery customers and help to set up and maintain frequently changing collections in local centres.”
  • Brent – Council “pays £70,000 a year” for library closed to cut costs - London Evening Standard.  “Neasden library, one of six to be axed by Labour-run Brent, was closed four months ago. However, Liberal Democrats on the council claim it is locked into leasing the building until at least 2022, for £55,000 a year, as it recently renewed the lease. Business rates and maintenance charges take the annual cost of the building to more than £70,000, they said.”  Library had recently undergone a £300,000 refurbishment too. [Good grief - Ed.]
  • Cambridgeshire – Staffing at Huntingdonshire libraries goes up while opening hours go down - Hunts Post 24.   “Cambridgeshire County Council libraries employ 41 full and part-time staff. But from April 1 new opening hours and staffing structures will see 11 more staff as the council replaces a system reliant on reserve staff to fill gaps when employees are sick or on leave.”
  • Devon – Sidmouth: New library technology gets a mixed response - View Online.   “The new and modern self issue machines were initially criticised for their lack of human touch, which many local library users are used to. With the introduction of the hi-tech machines, another major change in the library was the removal of the main help counter reinforcing the initial concerns. However, a week in and staff at Sidmouth Library are settling in with the changes thanks to the help of extra relief staff from Exmouth, and the new technology is growing on library users.” … “Staff have been reduced across East Devon libraries in a bid to save money and prevent library closures and cuts to funding for books and other resources.”
  • East Sussex – Readers urged to complete survey on libraries’ future - This is Sussex.    “The county council has launched a three-month review to look at how it provides rural and mobile services in villages such as Forest Row and Hartfield.”
“We have been on the streets collecting petition signatures as we are doing this on paper as well as online. Nine out of 10 people just sign straight away – even when they think cuts are needed, they don’t think that nurseries and libraries are the places to start.” Isle of Man – Protest against library and nursery closures - Isle of Man Today.   1900 signatures so far.

  • Kirklees – LettersHuddersfield Examiner.  “We’re told we now have five weeks to save Golcar Library. Volunteer now, Kirklees says, or we will close it down. This is an ultimatum, not a consultation. How quickly we can get rid of a proud public library service that has existed for 163 years! How diminished we will be!” … “It doesn’t have to be this way – there could be a real debate on what we want from our libraries in the 21st century, how to prepare for the digital future and libraries investing in e-books.”.  Two other letters also angrily dispute the wisdom of forcing volunteers to run libraries.
“Will he stop the closure of libraries? 18 libraries remain open but another three require £3million in repairs. We are talking to partners and community organisations to find ways to keep library services present in these areas. It’s been really tough to find the cash to keep these services going following another £50million cut in our budget from the government.” Liverpool – Anderson answers - Liverpool Echo.  

  • Middlesbrough – Nunthorpe gran is so sad to lose library link - Gazette.  “The service cost the council £50,000, however £20,000 will be reinvested in the housebound service. Of the £30,000 net saving, as part of the £13.8m budget reduction for 2012/13, £21,000 is for staffing and £9,000 is transport costs. Mrs Yolland’s daughter Linda, 62, a retired teacher, added: “For the community it’s a big loss but a big thank you for everything they have done over the years – it has been brilliant.”
  • Monmouthshire – New-look Chepstow library re-opened - Free Press.   “Chepstow Library was officially reopened last week after a £120,000 refurbishment … The refurbished library offers customers improved internet access, with free wifi and laptops available for use within the library.”

Some campaigner posters are more professional from corporate library ones.
    • SLAM’s tour de Surrey - SLAM.  Excellent review of the volunteering situation in Surrey, pointing out that each library and community is different, none were properly consulted, none thought that volunteers were a better choice than council run, none thought that being without a paid member of staff was an improvement, 60-100 volunteers needed per branch, self-service machines unreliable, reserving via “buddy libraries” unsatisfactory.
  • Wandsworth – Residents help shape future of libraries - Wandsworth Council.   “Friends of Libraries groups could be rolled out to libraries across the borough to create more community involvement in the service. Wandsworth Council has agreed that a Friends of Tooting Library pilot group be established as a model for the creation of similar groups across Wandsworth.” See Save Croydon Libraries Campaign for a response to this article. 
  • West Sussex – Council spends £100,000 on “how to wash your hands” video - Telegraph.   Well, £100k on that and 91 other films that have had 100,000 viewings in total but still….  “The figure has angered residents who have seen big cuts in other services, like day care for the elderly, bus routes and library opening hours.”
  • Worcestershire – Full circle for library as hall plan mooted –  Malvern Gazette.  “Speaking at a meeting of Upton Town Council, Councillor Simon Speers said he had “floated” the possibility of incorporating the library and TIC, and even other services such as the police station, into Memorial Hall.”