Editorial

The Shadow Minister for Libraries, Helen Goodman MP, appears to have been spurred into action by the coachload of Lincolnshire library campaigners who visited parliament last week.  In a visit to Ermine Library, she stressed the need for professional librarians and a standard library service throughout the country, rather than the current “postcode lottery”.  She has written to the Minister demanding intervention in Lincolnshire where three quarters of libraries are under threat.  Councillor Nick Worth, the local man in charge of libraries, rather impressively – considering the sheer scale of the cuts he is overseeing if noting else – called the cuts a “win-win situation” for Lincolnshire.  After one does breathing exercises, perhaps also taking the dog for a walk and putting a cold flannel on your forehead, you’re probably going to be able to cope with the reason for this claim being that volunteers will mean the service is cheaper and that there will be an overall increase in service points as there will be some shelves of books in other buildings (hopefully not telephone boxes) as well.  Never mind the quality, look at the quantity appears to be his view. Whatever the result, the power of campaigning in grabbing the attention of politicians has been demonstrated.

Helen Goodman visit to Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire library cuts: facts at a glance:

  1. £2 million budget cut
  2. 29 out of 44 libraries will lose funding, closing unless they become volunteer run
  3. 170 jobs will be lost
  4. Library opening hours are to be reduced
  5. The mobile library service will be cut by over 100 stops
  6. School library budgets are to be cut to zero
  7. A quarter of households will be placed beyond the Government’s own distance guidelines
  • Shadow culture minister condemns Lincolnshire library cuts – BookSeller. “The shadow culture minister has condemned library cuts in Lincolnshire, branding the plans as “disgraceful”. Helen Goodman visited Lincoln today (15th April) and met with campaigners, to discuss their fight against council’s plan to close 29 of 44 libraries, unless they are taken over by volunteers.”
  • Video: Shadow minister campaigns against library closure in Lincoln – Lincolnite. Five minute video of Helen Goodman’s speech.
  • Video: Helen Goodman MP (Shadow Minister for Libraries) Visits Lincolnshire – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. Six minute video and other information.
  • Helen Goodman MP: plan to axe 30 Lincolnshire libraries is “disgraceful” – Lincolnshire Echo.  Eight photographs of the visit.  “during a visit to Lincoln. She addressed camaigners outside Ermine Library, which is currently open 27 hours a week with three library staff assisted by volunteers.”
  • Avoiding precedents – Question Everything. Helen Goodman “said some good stuff about not wanting a postcode lottery and about having a full professional service.  I suspect the DCMS and minister will dodge and wait for the outcome of the judicial review and the results of the Sieghart Report but its good that finally Labour have come off the fence and there is no a policy difference between the two. How the Labour party in government plan to ensure volunteers are not use to replace staff and the library service is maintained is another question we’ll have to extract from them before next years election”

The Conservative-led Lincolnshire County Council action in closing three quarters of libraries is disgraceful. Local libraries are central to our societies, offering a safe place for all. They are places where the unemployed can go to find job information, where children without computers can do their homework, and where social events for young and old take place. They are investments in our future through the communities they nurture and skills they foster. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has a legal duty to ensure that every local authority has a comprehensive and efficient library service. I have now written to the new Secretary of State demanding that he take action. Instead, his department is undertaking two reviews, even questioning the role of public libraries. Labour is committed to avoiding a postcode lottery, maintaining a core professional service; and modernising and strengthening the role of public libraries in the knowledge economy.” Helen Goodman, Shadow Minister for libraries.

“Overall, the authority has to save £200 million and all services, including the library service, have to take their share of those savings. However, thanks to the support of local communities, it now looks like that we’ll end up with more libraries than we have now – while also contributing to those substantial savings. “It’s a win-win situation” Cllr Nick Worth, council executive member for libraries.

National news

“I only realised just how important the library is to some people’s lives when I started to use it regularly and saw for myself the vital service it provides.”

  • Right to E-read – Change.org. Petition: “Just at a time when advances in technology should be extending access to the riches of human knowledge, libraries are being prevented from buying or lending e-books. This is undermining their ability to provide their almost 100 million users in Europe with free access to human knowledge. It also raises important questions about democracy, learning and research, and the effective engagement of all citizens in a knowledge society. Therefore 65.000 libraries and their 100 million users call upon the EU to develop a clear copyright law that enables libraries to fulfill their enduring mission into 21st century of providing all EU citizens with access to the riches of human knowledge whether in the library, offsite or online.”

International

  • Digital Library Lending Has a Long Way to Go – Good E-Reader. “It feels like every new step in the right direction also leads to a host of new problems and closures for public libraries where digital lending is concerned. It’s been years since the first debates over protecting the interests of authors and publishers, with solutions–albeit often pathetic ones–proposed so long ago that the system should have sorted itself out by now. With recent pilot programs to test the waters in the UK that still require patrons to physically enter their libraries in order to check out new releases as ebooks, and the reports that ebook prices for libraries are still inflated by hundreds of percents, it’s easy to feel like libraries are coming under attack. This time, though, it’s not apathetic city councils and budget cuts, it’s the publishers themselves.”
  • Eye-popping library for Halifax, Nova Scotia – Designing Libraries (Canada). “The new Halifax Central Library, Canada, will be a civic landmark as well as centrepiece for Halifax, a contribution to the economic revitalisation of the city, and a new ‘hub’ for cultural activities. The building will also be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. “
  • Five open source tools libraries need to know about – Open Source. ” libraries need to take a closer look at open source software. By removing the “owner” (aka the vendor) from the equation we get a lot more freedom to make software that does what we want, how we want, when we want. One of the hardest thing to teach libraries who are switching to an open source solution is that the power is now in their hands to direct the software.”
  • Guest column: It’s time to stop making cuts and to invest in our libraries Jacksonville.com (USA).
  • Public libraries, loved by all, remain under attack – AFSCME (USA). “funding for libraries has declined in recent years, and like other public service workers, library employees’ benefits are under attack. In Detroit, for example, library workers are facing serious threats to their retirement security after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder pushed the city into bankruptcy. Local and state decision-makers across our country should heed citizens’ calls to support library services. Public libraries remain central to the life of their communities. AFSCME is proud to represent more than 25,000 library workers and trusted helpers nationwide, more than any other union. We are also a leading advocate for equitable pay for library workers and for full funding for public libraries.”
  • Qatar funds Lebanese $25m library project – Qatar Tribune (Qatar / Lebanon). Countries stressed “the importance of signing the agreement that will fund the new national library project.  He added that the cooperation reflected the strong ties between the two countries and their keenness on cultural exchange.”

UK local news by authority

  • Brent – Home Library Services Up – James Powney’s Blog. “for people who are so severely disabled that they are housebound, the home library service is a vital link.  It also is an example of Brent using volunteers (which people complain we are against) as it involves volunteers driving round and bringing the books to people who cannot travel to the library themselves.  You can get an idea of the scope of the service via this link (including a short video).”
  • Brent – Library campaigner dies – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Eric Pollock, The founding chair of Friends of Cricklewood Library (FOCL) has died at the age of 84″.  Long biography of what appears to be a remarkable man.
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Wigtown library hours cut scaled back – BBC. “Plans to cut the opening hours of the library in Wigtown, Scotland’s national book town, have been scaled back. It follows public consultation on the move by Dumfries and Galloway Council.”
  • Hampshire – Villagers lobby MP over library plans – Newbury Today. “The MP for North West Hampshire, Sir George Young (Con) confirmed that several of his constituents had contacted him over the future of the library, which is housed in Kingsclere Village Club, George Street.” … “Villagers were told last week by Mr Chapman that no decision had yet been made to close the library – even though last month the county council’s head of library operations, Alec Kennedy, told villagers that the decision to close it had been made by county councillors on February 22.”