Great to see £1 million being given to libraries by the Wolfson Foundation in order “to show the future shape of public libraries at a time of debate about their future role.”.  Clearly, Wolfson, thinks the future lies in mega libraries: half of the money is going to £190m Birmingham Central Library and the other half to the £48m Manchester one.  Drops in the ocean for them then but more than five times the cut announced in St Helens that will cut a fifth off their entire opening hours across the borough. This may be bittersweet for campaigners as they often care about the small local branch and not the massive showpiece five miles up the road. Great news, though, for the Government who have advocated philanthropy as a way of making up for public spending cuts.

Unalloyed good news from Portsmouth’s increase of 8% in children’s usage last year appears likely to be at least partially due to the issuing of library cards to all schoolchildren from July last year.  Portsmouth is a pilot scheme for the project which many hope will be brought in nationwide.

There’s some irony about the decision in Worcestershire to reduce the Gallery at Kidderminster Library due to the need to cut council costs. It was built less than twenty years ago with a third of a million pounds from Arts Council England. This is the same organisation that has been given £6 million by the Government last year to improve links between Arts and public libraries.  Just the sort of thing that the gallery at Kidderminster Library does.  Or, rather, did.

Health may be an expanding area for saving libraries. A Sefton doctor has said that closing her local library could cost more than it will save as it may “have a severe impact on physical and psychological wellbeing”.

 News

  • Author Says UK Libraries Should Close Because He Says So – Library Journal / Annoyed Librarian (USA). “The angry remarks hurt his feelings. It’s almost like he called for the abolition of a beloved public institution used by millions that’s been around for a couple of centuries while making provocative, unsubstantiated claims. Why would people get upset about that?”
  • National Year of Reading 2012 - ALIA (Australia). “Although figures were hard to come by, we know anecdotally that some
  • public libraries added several thousand new members as a result ofparticipating in this membership drive.”
  • Not everyone is on the internet, Iain Duncan Smith - Guardian / Comment is free. “Making the universal credit system online-only will cut off many of those in greatest need, on the wrong side of the digital divide”. Those in most need of benefits are precisely those without the internet. Closing libraries, or insufficently funding in them, is not going to help. 426 comments.
  • Public libraries backed with major grants – Wolfson. “The awards will help to provide world class library facilities in the heart of two of the country’s major cities. The funding from a charitable funder also makes a strong statement about the continuing value and importance of public libraries to British society at a time of financial pressure on these services.

“The Wolfson Foundation has a long history of support for libraries and archives as part of a wider programme of support for the arts. During the early 2000s, in a joint programme with Government, over £6 million was invested in IT equipment for public libraries.”

Changes

Local news

“Not only is there a strong link with mental health problems (stress, depression, anxiety) but also with poorer physical health, including falls, decreased physical activity, obesity, poor nutrition, higher intake of alcohol and also with cognitive decline. Dr Markides believes closing Birkdale library could ultimately cost more in subsequent healthcare than the council hope to save.”

  • Library reprieve for determined campaigners – Southport Visiter. “The decision to continue exploring the closure of libraries was deferred so the huge response from campaigners could be fully assessed. Placards and banners calling for much-loved libraries to be saved were paraded outside Southport Town Hall before Sefton Council’s cabinet last Thursday morning.”

“After the emotional speeches, leader of the council Peter Dowd said: “It’s no good any of us pretending we don’t have a budget gap of £51m over the next two years and that gap could potentially get bigger over the next two or three years.”