Editorial

In what has been one of the most memorable weekends in UK public libraries in a period full of notable events, the annual general meeting of the library professional association CILIP voted through two key motions and a march of up to 400 walked through Lincoln to protest against the cuts there. Let’s go through these one by one.

By far the most important motion of the two (to everyone but a few) was the one passing a vote of no confidence in the current minister for libraries, Ed Vaizey.  This man has made non-intervention an art form over the last couple of years of the deepest cuts to public libraries in peacetime history, despite a history in opposition stridently advocating the opposite of what he is doing now.  It is therefore no surprise that 669 voted for the following motion with less than a third of that figure (200) against.  The full motion was:

“”n view of his failures to enforce the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, this Annual General Meeting of CILIP has no confidence in Ed Vaizey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, and instructs Council to work with all other interested parties to protect library, information and knowledge services”

The other motion, from the CILIP leadership, to change the name of the organisation to that of Information and Library Professionals UK, was lost by a margin of 356 in favour and 644 against.  This margin is made even larger being that two-thirds needed to vote for it in order for it to proceed.  This vote effectively ends the, in the eyes of many observers, distracting renaming debate in CILIP (although it does not end other parts of the rebranding process, as the official press release made clear).  Let us now hope a veil is drawn across the whole renaming affair and, as the membership made clear in the other motion, energies are now spent on campaigning.  An example of what is meant by this is the open letter by the Scottish part of CILIP against the cuts in Moray: to my knowledge, there has been no such letter by CILIP itself against particular cuts in particular authorities. Perhaps now that will change.

In another example of the new militancy associated with libraries, quite separately, up to 400 people marched through Lincoln demanding an end to the cuts in the county.  The photographs are quite astonishing. The message from this weekend has been clear: the library profession and library users have had enough.  Push us so far and don’t be surprised if we push back.  In a familiar phrase (well, at least to me): you know the situation is  bad if the librarians are protesting.

Changes

East Ayrshire Some libraries may be under threat – employees face redundancy months after moving into East Ayrshire Trust from council 

News

  • 10 Cats Who Live at the Library – Mental Floss. “A library can operate without a cat, but a library with a cat is special. They draw new patrons to the library, they make people smile, calm the staff, and they keep mice away. Some also work to promote literacy, library use, and pet adoption. And curling up with a cat and a good book is a pleasant way to spend time at the local library.”.  With pictures.  Nine from US, one from Russia (yes, that one). [Sadly, none from UK – Ed.].
  • A ‘clearly expressed vision’ for London Libraries? – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. Survey of London library websites shows lack of clear policies and strategy. Also, a strong trend to place libraries in “Leisure and Culture” departments
  • Chinese State-Owned CNOOC Makes Largest-ever Donation to Calgary Public Library – Library Journal (Canada). “A Chinese state-owned oil company’s $1.5-million donation to the Calgary Public Library is its foundation’s largest ever, and marks the start of the library’s major fundraising drive that will offer corporate branding on sections within branches, but not the buildings themselves. CNOOC will become the title sponsor for a high-tech “learning commons” area in the new central library when it opens in 2018 in East Village.”
  • CILIP rejects name change and has no confidence in Vaizey – BookSeller. “The vote of no confidence in Ed Vaizey was proposed by CILIP members Jo Richardson and Tom Roper.Roper said this week: “There has never been a minister who has presided over so many closures yet done so little. This vote can start a discussion on the problems we are facing, in the same way the British Medical Association expressed their lack of confidence in Jeremy Hunt.” The motion was passed by 669 votes to 200, with 103 abstentions.”
  • Government has failed on library closures, says children’s laureate – Guardian.  Malorie Blackman urges Government to intervene to stop closures. Notes importance of libraries to literacy and to budding authors, such as she herself once was.  DCMS responds by saying its the job of local councils to run libraries. [NB. the article says Hertfordshire but means Herefordshire – Ed.]

“Blackman noted that while Ed Vaizey, the minister for culture, communications and creative industries, intervened to prevent Jane Austen’s ring leaving the country by designating it a national treasure, “our public libraries are just as much of a national treasure as Jane Austen’s ring and yet I have seen no such outrage from Vaizey at their closure”.” Malorie Blackman

  • Milwaukee unveils new $20 million public library project – Fox (USA). “Over the next five years, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is hoping to revamp the Milwaukee Public Library system with a $20 million proposal. The most notable project, announced Saturday, September 21st, is the replacement of four libraries — Forest Home, Mill Road, Capitol, and King.” … ““By good management of our long-term debt and restructuring and taking advantage of refinancing over the last several years, we are not going to have to make, in this instance, cuts in other areas,””
  • No confidence in Ed Vaizey – Voices for the Library. “Proposed by Jo Richardson, and seconded by Tom Roper, both members of Voices for the Library … There are detailed arguments for the motion on the No Confidence in Ed Vaizey blog. We’d urge support; it will show that CILIP is outward-looking, and wants to work with campaigners in practical ways on the ground. The debate will take place at roughly the same time as Save Lincolnshire Libraries‘ #BigLibraryMarch. The best support CILIP can give them is to pass the motion.”
  • Outcomes from CILIP AGM – CILIP. Notes CILIP is still “committed” to the rebranding process (of which the renaming was just part) and emphasises the campaigning work the organisation does.
  • Public Libraries: A Look at the New $185 Million San Diego Central Library That Will Be Dedicated on Saturday – Library Journal (USA). “The new San Diego Central Library will open for a sneak preview on September 28th and will officially open for service on September 30th. A Library Journal article a couple of weeks ago, pointed out that the new facility is opening debt free and has a $10 million matching grant to cover operating costs for the next five years.”
  • What libraries do for us: and me – Guardian/Comment is Free/Malorie Blackman. “Libraries are the best literacy resource we have. For children they provide an equaliser that allows everyone access to books, story-telling sessions, homework clubs; expert librarians who give non-partisan assistance and advice regarding books; and warm and safe environments within which to discover and explore the world of literature. Libraries switch children on to a love of reading, with all the ensuing benefits, and can make them lifelong readers. Without them, literacy may increasingly become the province of the lucky few, rather than the birthright of everyone.”
  • Will 3D printing kill IP? – Computer World (USA).  Points out 3D printing will destroy intellectual property and threaten businesses, starting with toys and moving up [in one possibly future, I see libraries being the only legal place for the public to do 3D printing, with only “allowed” files in place – Ed.]
  • Yes of course, Mr Weasel – Question Everything. “I’m sure one of the arguments put forward by supporters of the ministers policy of non-intervention while the library service is culled is that if the professions speak out against him then the influence of the profession will be lost. The problem with this argument is the profession is already frozen out. “

“I’m sure when Ed turns up for the odd event and talks of the service not being in crisis and how he is “horizon scanning” you can grab the odd word over coffee, but really you’re deluding yourselves if you think he is listening”

Conferences 

  • Lean:  Libraries as Customer Value Catalysts Thu 21 Nov 13 (0945 – 1545), Far Cotton REC Centre, Northampton, NN4 8LG. How libraries can build on their assets to move from process to peopleThis one-day conference will showcase examples of library services that are moving from process to people, by re-designing what they do and by embracing partnerships with growing ambition and boldness.  Confirmed speakers for this conference include: Paul Blantern, Chief Executive, Northamptonshire County Council; Andy Appleyard, Head of BL Information Services & Customer Services, British Library;  Julie Blaisdale, Assistant Director, Library and Community Services, North Yorkshire County Council; Janice Malone, Macmillan Programme Manager, Glasgow Life; Barbara Leigh, Principal Librarian, Northamptonshire County Council. This day is also a great opportunity for networking and sharing best practice with colleagues from across the country – time for this is built into the programme, both morning and afternoon.  The venue is conveniently located near Northampton train station and J15A of the M1 (with access to free parking). Cost: £90 (includes refreshments and lunch)

Local news

  • Brent – ‘Faked’ emails support flats plan for library – London Evening Standard. “Fraudulent emails have apparently been sent to a London council supporting plans to turn a treasured library into private flats. Members of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library campaign group — which unsuccessfully fought the closure of the library and five others by Brent council — say they have discovered that false addresses, as well as some of their own, had been used to champion the redevelopment.”
  • Brent – Our new volunteer library – Friends of Barham Library. Two years after the closures, a volunteer-run library opens in underground station.
  • Brent – Planning Committee says no – Save Kensal Rise Library. “The Friends of Kensal Rise Library are very pleased that the planning committee have voted to reject the proposals of the developer … We are also heartened, as many communities in England will be, that the Asset of Community Value designation helped to protect the building for community use.”
  • Bristol – Ade Couper, borrower in Bristol Library Services and University of Bristol Library – Voices for the Library. “So, what am I going to talk about? In Bristol there is a bit of a library controversy at the moment, as the Mayor wants to put a school in the Central Library, so we’ll definitely talk about that:also I want to look at libraries as therapeutic environments…..Now, don’t be scared- it’s just I think that libraries are good for the mind and the soul, so hopefully we can get some debate on that going.”
  • East Ayrshire – Libraries, games halls and community centres could all be closed in East Ayrshire – Daily Record. “the charitable organisation could be left with just 40 if East Ayrshire Council follow recommendations from the group, who are looking to off load dozens of village facilities in a bid to save £2.09 million in the next three years. All sites facing the chop will be offered to community organisations. But if members of the public can’t take on the facilities, they will close.”
  • “There are also fears about what the move will mean for the workforce who run the facilities. Until the sites moved to East Ayrshire Leisure, all the staff worked for the council, but they were transferred to the charity when the facilities were. Now they could face redundancy. And trade unions are slamming the way their workers have been treated.”
  • Herefordshire – Author joins Herefordshire’s libraries campaign – Ludlow Advertiser. “Deborah Moggach is throwing her support behind Herefordshire’s rural libraries ahead of a September 17 meeting that could see their closure. Ms Moggach, whose bestsellers include The Best Exotic Marigold Hoteland Tulip Fever, believes that would be a disaster, and joined campaigners to hand a 300-strong petition against the possible loss of Leintwardine Library to Herefordshire Council on Monday.”

“All over the UK, the passionate outcry against library closures shows how absolutely essential they are for the health of our communities,” … “In an increasingly fractured and isolated society they are more important than ever – places where we can widen our knowledge and deepen our imaginations.” Deborah Moggach

“Tolkien … wanted to make the point that anybody, no matter how ordinary, how small, or how poor, could make a vital difference in the fight against evil. That everyone’s contribution counted for something.  It’s a lesson that will be lost to many if these cuts go through. When the Nine meet to decide the fate of our libraries I want you to remember that all it took was the work of one little hobbit to change everything. So, people of the ‘Shire, don’t let anyone say to you, “The budget has already been set; you have no power to change things”. You’re the only ones who have the power. These cuts shall not pass!” Cllr David Hall

  • Lincolnshire – County Council’s library cut plans: Protest march – BBC. BBC estimates number at 250. “”The turn-out shows how loved our library services are and we are committed to fighting to keep them in public hands, run by public servants and not by volunteers.””
  • Lincolnshire – Letter: Let me know your views on Lincolnshire Libraries – Horncastle News. “We are told they must save £2m but they have the money in the revenue budget. The real truth is that this as an asset stripping process. The money from selling off property will go into a general budget and it will not support libraries in the future. The volunteer budget model offered to community groups lasts for only four years. What happens next?”

“The 1964 Act promised a comprehensive service for all. What has the Minister getting paid for this role contributed to the debate? No one seems to have heard from them.” Cllr Julia Pears

  • Lincolnshire – Librarian makes 200-mile round trip to support Lincoln protest – This is Lincolnshire. “A Cambridge University librarian turned out in support of nearly 400 protestors who brought Lincoln city centre to a standstill this afternoon. Astronomy specialist Mark Hurn said each and every one of the campaigners at today’s Save Lincolnshire Libraries march and rally was a true star.”

Peter said: “The thing about libraries is you can take a book out, read it and return it for someone else to enjoy. That’s why we’re here because we want to keep ours.” Peter (aged 10)

“The public library system in this country is one of the finest achievements that we have, alongside the BBC and the British Museum. To close libraries is to close minds, especially young minds, and I do hope that the opposition to these plans will persuade the county council to think again and reverse what could be an act of irreparable damage to the future of learning and the enrichment of minds.”” Michael Rosen quoted in Lincolnshire – Library campaigners to march through Lincoln to oppose cuts – Boston Standard.

  • Lincolnshire – Lincoln public fight back against library cuts – Linc. “Around 400 people marched against the plans that involve the closure of 32 libraries in the county, leading to 170 job losses but saving £2million. The leaflet handed out to people on the street who came across the protest included information about other cuts the council plans, which involve the reduction of 400 community mobile libraries to 126, the “slashing” of the hours for remaining libraries and the selling off of the buildings currently used for libraries.”
  • Lincolnshire – Save Lincolnshire Libraries protest march, Lincoln – This is Lincolnshire.  Loads of pictures from the massive protest march to save libraries in Lincoln on Saturday,
  • Lincolnshire – Spilsby community rejects alternative library proposals – Skegness Standard. “All alternatives to Spilsby’s current library service were angrily rejected at a public meeting last night. Fortnightly mobile visits were dismissed as ‘woefully inadequate’, while setting up a community-run library was deemed too costly by most of those present.”
  • Moray – Campaign group formed to save Moray’s libraries – Scotsman. “Communities affected by Moray Council’s decision to close seven libraries and one mobile library have formed a single campaign group. ‘Save our Libraries Moray’ met for the first time on Thursday and formally adopted a constitution aimed at protecting all library services in Moray.”
  • Moray – Cuts to Moray Libraries: Open letter from CILIPS Council – CILIPS. “CILIPS Council are deeply concerned by the decision of Moray Council to close so many libraries after dismissing the advice of its own officials, public protest and the Equalities Impact Assessment which highlighted that the closure would disadvantage communities affected.”

“It is CILIPS’s view that the closures will diminish the service in such a way that it may well fail to meet the requirement of an adequate strategic network delivering core provision. The cuts will be significant and damaging, impacting on the ability of the service to continue delivering innovative work with partners to attain key policy goals such as employability, digital participation, lifelong learning and health promotion.” CILIPS

  • North Lanarkshire – Booking in to launch reading campaign – Motherwell Times. “A campaign for fair and improved access to e-books from public libraries was backed by politicians when it was launched at Motherwell Library.” … MEP says ” I must say North Lanarkshire is performing well on a Scottish level and I am particularly supportive of Culture NL’s scheme which offers downloaded materials to its home delivery service clients and visually impaired book group members.””
  • Sheffield – Demand the first-class library service we deserve – Star. “Sheffield now looks set to have just as many non-profit libraries left in the city as there are Starbucks; that’s 11 of each. Sheffield City Council also seem willing to turn over a huge amount of library space into privately run cafes and bars.”: letter from SCALP (Sheffield Communities Against Library Privatisation)
  • Sheffield – Libraries could become winebars – BookSeller.
  • Torfaen – Training opportunities at Cwmbran library – Free Press. “opportunity at Cwmbran library from the Conserving Local Communities Heritage (CLOCH) project. The project is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund‘s Skills for the Future programme and will provide work-based training opportunities in the heritage sector. Each cohort of trainees starts with a three month induction at Glamorgan Archives, followed by a range of placements in partner libraries, archives or museums.”