Comment 

Things are not starting well for the experiment that is the Suffolk Libraries Industrial and Provident Society (IPS).  Readers will recall that Suffolk have decided to pass all of their libraries to this social enterprise initially run by an unelected board.  The manager of Aldeburgh Library has resigned at the policies of this board, the chair of which is heavily involved in his branch.  The policies in question include gaining more than half of the income of the library from self-generated income such as increasing charges and fines.  The chair of the IPS, Clive Fox, appears to have tried to present this resignation as a retirement.  This is not the first worrying thing done by Mr Fox. He had, according to previous reports, called library campaigners “rent a mob”. Hmm Suffolk Libraries IPS? That acronym of SLIPS seems strangely accurate.
399 libraries (309 buildings and 90 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.

News

  • Commuters face peak rush hour rail fare rises – Telegraph.   “Other changes could see libraries, post offices and supermarkets selling train tickets as hundreds of ticket offices are closed. According to Department for Transport officials this could see ticket selling machines being installed at outlets across the country, where staff would also be given special training in servicing rail passengers.”
  • Out of the toy cupboard – New Statesman.   Article by Michael Rosen: “children’s authors are rarely asked for their opinion on how to get children reading. Why not? We know far more than politicians.” …”One moment they’ve tried to control the selection, the next the pedagogy about it, the next its removal – whether by replacing it with barking at letters (phonics), an explosion of worksheets and tests based on excerpts (not whole books) or by closing libraries. This has gone on even as minister after minister has unconvincingly blethered on about this or that great author they once read or wished they had.”
  • Ultimate library: online archive aims to collect a physical copy of every book in existence – Mail. “Mr Kahle is worried that as volumes are increasingly digitised their paper versions are being thrown out, raising the prospect that one day the originals will be unavailable. And if the digital copies are somehow corrupted, the knowledge those books hold could be lost forever.” … “Every week, 20,000 new volumes arrive to be archived, many of them donated by libraries and universities who no longer have space to store material that is, in any case, often easily found online.” … “Mr Kahle’s archive stores books in specially adapted 40ft shipping containers. Each holds around 40,000 books in a carefully controlled environment to stop them from spoiling.”

Local News

  • Barnet – Union which defeated outsourcing tells its story – Barnet Today.  “At Barnet Unison’s annual general meeting last Thursday John Stevenson, president of the Edinburgh branch, told members how they successfully lobbied councillors to reject the proposals, breaking a coalition council in the process.”Barnet Unison secretary John Burgess told The Press the meeting proved it was never too late for councillors to change their minds. “The danger here is it’s so ideological,” he said. “There seems to be no room or scope to even listen.””
  • Brent – Fresh hope for campaign to save Kensal Rise Library – Brent & Kilburn Times.   “The Oxford University college which donated a library to the community closed by Brent Council has said it would be happy to let residents run it. Kensal Rise Library, in Bathurst Gardens, was a gift by All Souls College, and was opened by American author Mark Twain, 111 years ago. However, Brent Council closed the Victorian reading room in October last year. But this week a spokesman from the college wrote to the Friends of Kensal Rise Library and said: “All Souls College has contacted the council via its solicitor to inform them that the college would be happy to consider the library being kept open as proposed in the business plan prepared by the Friends of Kensal Rise Library.’ The ball is now in Brent Council’s court.”
  • Brighton and Hove – New Woodingdean library plans up for discussion – Argus.   “Brighton and Hove City Council and the NHS plan to create a modern facility at the centre of the community on the site of the current 1950s library in Warren Road. It will also include a new GP surgery for Dr Sagar and Partners, which will be relocated from The Ridgway in Woodingdean. If approved, the plans will expand the library space to 269sq m, almost double the current size, with extra facilities such as a computer suite.”
  • Camden – Alan Bennett says proposal to put Rio statue on Primrose Hill is a “foolish idea” – Camden New Journal.   “The diarist and playwright was speaking at “An Evening with Alan Bennett” – a £10 benefit for the Primrose Hill library campaign, which sold out [400 tickets] in just 10 days.”
“So far, £543,000 has been pledged for the library by 403 people, and 156 have said they will give up their time to run the newly refurbished library. Two weeks ago it was announced that the group would be given a 20-year lease from the council with the first six guaranteed rent-free.”

  • City of London pressed to sign Heath Library deal – Camden New Journal. “The City of London has been told to “get on with it” and sign a deal with a voluntary group fighting to keep Heath Library open. A letter sent by Camden Council leisure chief Labour councillor Tulip Siddiq has asked the City to back the plans, adding that the Town Hall is willing to hand over a cash pot worth £124,000 to make the scheme viable.”
“The City, the richest local authority in the UK with trust funds and assets worth billions, is reportedly delaying signing a deal as it is unsure whether it will maximise income from the site. It has a duty to use the buildings it manages there to promote the poet’s [Keats] works.” 

  • Doncaster – Mayor vetoes extra money for the borough’s libraries – South Yorkshire Times.  
  • Dorset – Calls to help Dorset libraries at risk of closure rejected – Dorset Echo.  Members of the council’s cabinet approved the latest proposals to allow them to move forward with the handover of control but turned down a specific request for additional resources to start up the new community libraries. But they promised to leave libraries in a ‘reasonable condition’ when they hand them back over to the community.” … “The Salvation Army has played down suggestions at the meeting that it could offer an unlikely lifeline to Portland Underhill libary.”
    • Council says no to extra help for community libraries – Daily Echo.   “Mr Davies said: “We will not be spending the money on these Labour Party plans when we already have a system that works with volunteer-run services.” However, Mr Davies added that if ward councillors in Carcroft and Denaby came to him with a good case and enough volunteers he would consider re-opening libraries in those areas.” … “The amendments received 43 votes in favour, six against and three abstentions.” [But the mayor’s veto meant that they were not carried].
  • Kent – Comprehensive library survey to indicate future of the serviceNews Shopper.   “Discussions about the service in each district and how else it could be delivered will begin in the next few months, Kent County Council said, with proposals made as early as June in some areas.Individual profiles for each library have been drawn up, including the number of borrowers and the running costs, and can be viewed at kent.gov.uk/libraries.”
  • Lincolnshire – Chance to help town’s library – Market Rasen mail.  “The library is now one of several across Lincolnshire that has a donation box for residents to make financial contributions to its book fund. Lincolnshire County Council’s head of libraries and heritage Jonathan Platt said: “We already buy hundreds of new titles each year for our library network. These donation boxes allow people to make a voluntary contribution to their library, which will enable each of the participating sites to buy more books for their customers.””
  • Nottinghamshire – Mansfield Library visitor numbers double after £3.4m refurbishment –  Chad. “As we celebrate World Book Day, the attendance at our libraries and the success of Mansfield Library since January reaffirms our commitment to the library service and demonstrates how the community values its libraries. We are especially pleased with the figures at Mansfield Library and hope people are enjoying the new facilities.”
“Iain Rousham who left Aldeburgh library at the end of February says that Clive Fox, chairman of the new countywide library organisation and the Aldeburgh library Steering Group, initially wrote in the Group’s press release that Rousham was retiring.  Iain asked for this to be changed so it reflected more accurately that he had resigned. Rousham has  made it clear that he disagreed with the plans put forward by the Steering Group and its refusal to consult further with Aldeburgh people after the county council promised all libraries would stay open.” Suffolk – Library manager resigns over policy of chairman of new Suffolk libraries organisation – Suffolk Wordblog.  

    • Aldeburgh Library Manager quits due to disagreements with Clive Fox, Suffolk IPS Chair – James Hargrave’s Blog.   “This is embarrassing to both Suffolk County Council and the IPS and it appears Fox attempted to present Rousham’s departure as a “retirement” when it clearly was not.” … “To my mind the appointment of Fox as Chairman is looking more and more like a mistake and it will be interesting to see if he survives this early embarrassing incident.” 
  • South Tyneside – Friends aim to overcome library service cuts – Shields Gazette.  “Help is needed to stage fundraising efforts to support book readings, workshops, craft sessions and other community events. Council bosses have pledged that despite spending restrictions, no borough library is to close, but there are plans to reduce opening hours.”
  • Surrey – Permission transcript – High Court of Justice.   The full decision made by the judge to disallow the council’s objections and to allow the judicial review.