Editorial

It has been as ever, a year showing wide variation, internationally and nationally.  With there being 151 library services in England alone, it could hardly be otherwise.  However, having read everything UK public library related over the last year, here are my key themes.

  • The fight for library buildings has (sort of) been won but the fight for adequately funded library services has never looked so fragile. Councils just aren’t closing many libraries: Cipfa estimated just 49 (1%) closed in 2013/14, 74 the year before.  That’s a lot less than most people would believe.  It shows that councils realise the tremendous detrimental political impact of closing a library.  However, this is not to say that we should all be celebrating because, faced with massive cuts from central government and strong pressure not to increase council tax, councils are cutting libraries in other ways.  The obvious one is to replace paid staff with volunteers, and that trend has only been growing this year, but other ways include cutting bookfunds (down to its lowest level for decades), When you see a flagship mega building like the Library of Birmingham having its opening hours cut almost in half, you know times are tough.
  • Times are looking good for new English library trusts – Although Wigan are taking library services back from the trust there, overall there’s never been as much pressure on councils to divest library services. Suffolk and York are being touted, most recently in the Sieghart Independent Report, as the great new hope … and the benefits they bring in terms of reduced costs are being scrutinised all around the country.  In Scotland, where slightly different rules apply, trusts now commonly run libraries: expect a flood of these south of the border in the next couple of years.
  • A lack of amalgamations. There’s been a surprising lack of different councils merging library services for economies of scale.  Perhaps there’s a strong element of turkeys not voting for Christmas in this one.  It is notable that GLL  are eyeing at least one more service but no-one has yet publicly announced they’re doing another Tri-Borough.
  • Private companies failing to make a dent – The US private library company, LSSI, has failed to pick up a single library service in the UK while Carillion – who bought out Laing last year with weeks of the latter taking over Croydon – have failed to expand.  There are suspicions that challenging councils in, for example, Lincolnshire is opening the door for private companies further down the line (the reasoning being that they can competitively tender against trusts etc) but there’s been no actual sign of this yet.  One to watch, though.
  • Usage falls as funding falls – Usage in England continues to fall roughly in line with reductions in funding, but usage in the US, Wales and Australia and other countries is stable or is increasing roughly in line with increases in funding.  The evidence is there that you get what you pay for: if you fail to fund libraries adequately then the public notice and cease coming meaning you get less customers and there’s more reason to reduce funding,  The vicious circle is there for all to see.
  • Dark times continue to be ahead – Both main political parties are committed to austerity and thus further cuts to council budgets until 2020.  Neither are willing to protect libraries from those cuts which means that you can expect, if anything, deeper cuts in the sector in the next parliament than this, certainly if the Conservatives win.  If Labour win then there is a chance their cuts will be less draconian but it is unlikely to feel better at the time.  We can hope, though.
  • Protest works. The success of the judicial review in Lincolnshire and of protests in Liverpool and Wales show that, actually, the key thing to protect your library is to protest cuts.  Simply using the library more has some impact but there’s been enough examples this year of well-used libraries going under threat to show that it’s not key.  Indeed, a well-used library may even be more at risk as the council thinks volunteers would be more likely to save it.  No, the key thing to keeping a library open is the presence of loud, well-organised protest groups.  This is going to be especially obvious until the General Elections next year but then expect it to be lot less important as politicians get down to the dirty work: the loss or not of judicial review (still going through parliament) will have a great bearing on whether local people are listened to or not in non-election years.
  • Lack of government intervention …? The DCMS has continued its hands off policy (otherwise known as malevolent neglect) on public libraries, with a stated belief that local authorities are the best to handle local services, regardless of any statutory responsibility it may have.  Having said that, the Independent Report on Public lIbraries was commissioned – but then only published the last day possible before Christmas.  The Report itself was also deeply pragmatic and conservative (small c)  in tone but, even then, the libraries minister has only agreed to one recommendation so far – and that is one which has no cost attached.  However, Mr Vaizey has continued annoying Sheffield council with queries about its consultation on deep cuts to its library service and he has still not categorically said he will not intervene,
  • National Libraries Day gaining acceptance.  Most library services ran at least one event in 2014 and I expect only the most reactionary and cautious councils to ignore it in 2015.  From its roots a few years ago as an instrument of protest, the Day is becoming used as an important advocacy tool locally and nationally.  A good thing to see. Similarly, the launch of the Library A to Z, crowd-funded largely by campaigners, has also gained widespread support in many public libraries – probably because it is very carefully apolitical and concentrates on the positive rather than the negative.
  • National organisations are upping their game. Although those going through PLUIO (Public Library Universal Information Offers) training may not appreciate it, because the online modules are sometimes cloggy and mind-numbingly tedious, the SCL have tried their best to make an impact on local councillor views and nationally.  The same can be said to some extent of CILIP who have been active, with Big Debates and other stuff, this year. The professional association’s obsession with navel gazing – sorry, modernisation – has also now apparently come to an end and has, at least, left the organisation on a firm financial footing.  Praise must also go out to the Carnegie UK Trust who have put their back into the LibraryLab innovation grants, leadership training and their advocacy work.  Great to see.

Changes

Ideas

UK national news

  • A New Chapter in Libraries – Book Trust / Philip Ardagh. ” This has been another very tough year for libraries, with many closures, hours cut or conversion into volunteer-run not-really-libraries libraries. It’s also a very tough time for people having to balance the books and there are no obvious quick-fix solutions but, time and time again, it’s been shown that destroying libraries is a false economy. A better educated – well read – population puts less strain on the public purse.”.  Imagines a conversation about the terrible mistakes made in funding Birmingham … ahem … an anonymous central library.
  • Enter the 2015 marketing awards for Welsh librarians – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. “The marketing awards for Welsh library staff are firmly established in the thoughts of many library staff now, being in their fifth (or is it sixth?) year. For 2015 the awards have had a revamp and there are now new catagories. For the last year (or two? Yes, I am having temporary memory failure!) they have also been open to archive staff, and for 2015 those working in museums will also be able to enter. There will be separate categories for the different sectors”
  • The future of Britain’s libraries: why lattes and Wi-Fi are nothing to fear – Guardian. “Few victims of austerity have been so fiercely mourned as libraries. If they are to be revived, a recent report argues, they must look down the High Street to Starbucks. Can that approach change a writer’s beloved childhood sanctuary for the better? ” … “Torridon is the sort of library – small, beloved, attuned to the needs of the neighbourhood – that most people would agree we need more of, but which recent local authority cuts have made rarer than ever. ” … ” It is not silent, but it has what Jeanette Winterson recalled her childhood haunt, Accrington Public Library, having: “a sense of energetic quiet.” … “Today’s anti-hubbers may come to look as foolish as those 19th-century segregationists and pamphleteers do to us.” … “a concern that the essential function of a library is being lost” … “the loss of peace and quiet is greater in theory than in practice.” … “The great unknown, of course, is whether the government will pay to implement any of the report’s recommendations apart from the taskforce (a so-far unspecified sum).”

“The [socioeconomic] AB group, who run the country and the media, don’t use libraries. They do not understand how vital they are, or how many social problems they deal with. I remember one man who kept on coming up and asking for help with his housing while I was talking to the librarian, and she said: ‘Start looking through that shelf over there and I’ll be with you in a minute,’ and he said: ‘No, you don’t understand – I can’t read.’”

“I’m torn between being thrilled by the possibilities and convulsed with fear at the thought of how little the government seems to care about any of it.”

  • If we want to keep our libraries we should elect politicians at all levels who value public services – Wales Online. “Instead of concentrating on structures, we should be debating what sort of services we want councils to provide and how we should pay for those services. Last week the Secretary of State for Wales argued that we should all be protesting against cuts such as library closures being made by our local council.” … “Whether Rhiwbina has a library run by the council in a few years should be a symbol of what sort of city the people of Cardiff want. I have no objection to MPs or future MPs campaigning to keep a facility such as a library open. But what I want them do is not to forget that campaign when they do get to Parliament. If they value libraries then they should ensure that councils have the money to provide these important services.”
  • National Libraries Day – Completely redesigned website for 2015, looking good. “With an emphasis on fun and creating a buzz around libraries of all description, Saturday 7 February will round off a week of special celebrations held in local, public, academic and workplace libraries up and down the country. It is a chance for people to organise a local event or visit their library and interact with the vital work carried out by their library and information professionals, reminding decision-makers that our libraries and librarians are valued.”
  • Seven things I’ll miss about the traditional library – Guardian. “Well, I don’t want to see a branch of Paperchase thrown up between the bookshelves and the traditional rack of filthy old CDs. If we’re going to keep local libraries they need to stand for something from before the time when every square inch of public space could be monetised. If libraries were to change, this is what I’d really miss.” List includes: vintage textures, microfiche, sexual frisson, 19th century methods, silence, librarians, books.

“where would we be without librarians’ moral certainty and exceptional dress sense? Any combination of taut and ropy tweed, plastic pastel beads, glasses on a chain, frosted Angel Delight hair, blue eyeliner, high collared nylon blouses, comfortably soled shoes and flesh toned hosiery will do.”

  • ‘This house believes that a volunteer-run Library Service is better than no service at all’ – CILIP. A summary of the speakers’ opening arguments and the discussions which followed during the debate. ” the advantages of a volunteer-run library compared with a council one are: It engages with and relies on the local community to exist. In Jesmond volunteers came forward; there are 10 directors in the organisation, an advisory committee, 90 volunteers who do shifts, 100 founders and donators. The Library is a community hub, a place where people come for all kinds of activities (it has a varied programme of events). There are less politics, meaning the Friends of Jesmond Library are able to react more quickly and more decisively than a council can. The Library is able to innovate and be flexible. It has movable shelves, the space is easy to adapt and the Friends try to open up the range of activities offered.” Conversely, the view was expressed that “going down the volunteer-run libraries route is equivalent in the longer term to committing to no libraries at all.” … “Everybody thinks they know how to run a library because they’ve been in one”
  • Use the arts to boost the nation’s health – Guardian /Peter Bazalgette. “there’s now an initiative called Books on Prescription, available across England. Books are recommended by doctors or other health professionals to support patients with particular conditions. In its first year it has reached 275,000 people providing an important source of help, particularly for those with mental health problems. . If social prescribing is to be more widely and systematically adopted it needs to be seen to work. It needs to demonstrate it can reduce queues in GP’s surgeries and A&E and relieve hard-pressed mental health services and social care. All health spending is quite rightly subject to rigorous evidence testing. But one estimate of the effect of the projects already underway suggests that savings to the NHS alone could have exceeded half a billion pounds. Arts Council England will be funding more research into arts and health next year

Supporter’s News

  • Marcel Proust and the exploration of memory – Find out how Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) brought a new vigour to the exploration of consciousness, sensation, and memory at the beginning of the 20th century with this sample chapter.  This chapter from Very Short Introductions online goes on to discuss the importance of the imagination in the work of André Breton, leader of the Surrealists.

International

  • 10 Public Libraries in US and Canada Surpass 1 Million eBook Downloads – Good E-Reader (USA/Canada). “Overdrive has the largest presence all over the world, but tends to focus on North America the most. The company is the market leader when it comes to hooking up libraries with the power to purchase and distribute audiobooks and e-Books for patrons to borrow.  Not only have 10 libraries hit over a million or more downloads, but Toronto Public Library and King County Library System had over two million.”
  • Anatomy of An Ad Campaign – Des Plaines Public Library – Illinois Libraries Matter (USA). “All too many public libraries had no staff dedicated full-time to marketing library offerings. Fast-forward t0 2014 and, well, here you all are:  marketing pros who know the impact of a well-coordinated and funded multichannel marketing campaign on library resource awareness and use. For the second year in a row, Des Plaines Public Library is running a $19K consumer advertising campaign with the tag line “Your DPPL Library Card: the most valuable card in your wallet”.   It includes print, digital and email components and was paid for with State of Illinois per capita grant funds.”
  • “Beacon” Technology Deployed by Two Library App Makers – Library Journal (USA). “Beacons are small, coin cell battery-powered transmitters that use Bluetooth Low Energy/Bluetooth Smart technology to send information to Bluetooth devices within an adjustable range of one foot to about 250 feet. In a library environment, a beacon could send a notification about upcoming events for kids as a parent walks into a branch’s children’s area, for example. Messages about upcoming computer courses could be sent via a separate beacon to patrons who enter a library’s computer area. An array of beacons in a library could do things like generate anonymized foot traffic maps that illustrate how patrons and their devices tend to move through a building, and where they tend to linger.”
  • Feature: Dutch fast growing e-book lending accelerates digitalization of libraries – Global Post (Netherlands). “the Dutch Digital Library Program now offers access to 5,500 titles from the top 50 Dutch publishers in 162 public libraries, making the small European country an international forerunner amid the digitalizing trend of libraries.” … “”We have a couple of quite unique features in our e-lending model, such as the one-copy-multiple-users model, which means that an e-book can never been lent out, but remains available for every additional patron,” … “In average, it costs 0.72 euro per loan from the Dutch e-lending system, which is the lowest price in Europe … With part of the cost paid by government subventions, library members pay a fee of 0.36 to 0.60 euro per loan for titles under 3 years old. For titles over 3 years, they pay 0.24 euro per loan for the first year, 0.12 euro per loan thereafter, according to van Leeuwen.”
  • For last minute Christmas baking needs, see … your local library? – NPR (USA). “The North Haven Memorial Library in Connecticut started lending out cake pans in 2010. Their collection — which includes at least 300 pans — was donated by members of the community. Pat LaTerza, the library’s director of Children’s Services, was looking for new ways to attract patrons and noticed a trend emerging at other libraries.” … ““people from all walks of life have come into the library to borrow them,”
  • Hey Nintendo. Here’s a really good idea. Love, Justin Hoenke – Medium (USA). “What if you partnered with public libraries? We could help introduce your amazing games to so many people. Here’s an idea that I’ve had in my head for years: what if you installed one of those fancy 3DS demo units that you usually see at Target and Wal Mart in a public library? People could try your games. Libraries could introduce handheld gaming to the community. The outcome? You would have more people enjoying (and maybe purchasing?) Nintendo games. Libraries could provide another worthwhile service for our community. We both win and we are both happy.” Also shows how much further ahead US libraries are with computer game sessions etc than UK libraries.
  • Los Angeles Public Library to host Indie Author Day; Event pulls together industry leaders to talk about libraries and the future of self-publishing – North Fork View. “The Los Angeles Public Library is among the first library systems to make the SELF-e digital self-publishing platform available to its patrons free of charge. The innovative program, created by Library Journal in collaboration with BiblioBoard, offers indie authors and aspiring writers the opportunity to upload their ebooks, expand their readership, broaden their fan base and get discovered. Content submitted on the SELF-e platform will be evaluated by Library Journal and, if selected, appear in a curated collection of self-published ebooks showcased at participating libraries nationwide.”
  • Season of giving: LA Makerspace teams up with LA Public Libraries, raises funds to boost STEAM education – Pando (USA). “the rise of Internet and e-books have combined to largely destroy the role libraries once held as the center of learning and discovery in many communities. It’s a sad (and unpopular) reality to acknowledge, I know. But it’s reality nonetheless. But, with the help of Makerspace, the LAPL is seeing new life. The two organizations have teamed up in an effort to bring libraries to the forefront of STEAM education. The goal is to train the city’s librarians to teach “maker skills” like the Scratch programming language, robotics, electronics, 3D printing, Minecraft, citizen science, tabletop filmmaking, and stop motion animation. As a bonus, they plan to develop (and later share) curriculum that can be used by parents and educators outside of libraries to run their own similar programs.”

UK local news by authority

  • Angus – New Trust for Angus culture and leisure? – Montrose Review. “Facilities, such as the Montrose Museum, library and sports centre would potentially be placed into a charitable trust, which would take over the running of these attractions. “
  • Birmingham – Another One Bites the Dust – Francis Hodgson. “It’s routinely said that Conservatives actively dislike public libraries because they don’t use them. I used to disparage such remarks: the idea that Conservatives retreated to Daddy’s panelled rooms where bound editions of the classics gently suffused the air in front of the log fire with odour of Morocco binding and Clarendon ink seemed grotesque, a caricature. It isn’t. It’s true, after all. This attack on the Library of Birmingham is an attack on the very idea of self-improvement. The classically Tory possibility that anyone can better herself ­– with a minimum of help from the state – itself is attacked by it. I said earlier, I’m no politician. But if that’s Tory policy, then the barbarians’ time is up. Restore sensible funding, or be thrown out. You don’t burn books, even photographic books, and still claim to be civil.”
  • Birmingham – Cuts threaten a great library – Independent / Letters. “In its short time the library has become a focus of every kind of artistic, educational and media work that goes on in this diverse and youthful city. It is not just a jewel in Birmingham’s crown, but as the largest and busiest library in Europe it is already one of the UK’s most successful and best-loved cultural institutions. To see it gutted in this way would indeed be a betrayal: a betrayal of our young people, of our sense of civil pride and of the ideals and principles that saw the library built in the first place.”
  • Blackburn with Darwen – Consultation period over Blackburn with Darwen library services – Lancashire Telegraph. “Due to a cut in government funding of £31 million, over the next three years, all council services are being reviewed and in the case of the library service, the council is exploring community interest in running and supporting Livesey, Mill Hill and Roman Road libraries. The libraries will be equipped with self-service machines to facilitate service delivery.”
  • Blaenau Gwent – Transforming Blaenau Gwent – Blaenau Gwent Council. Page 38 includes comments on reduction of budget to the trust that now controls libraries.

“You may already know but Monday is the deadline for Bristol’s Budget Consultation 2015-2016. The Mayor has suggested reinvesting some funds including approximately 1 million into the library service. “The consultation closes on Monday 29 December, and the results will be fed back to the Mayor and his Cabinet to consider. They will meet on 13 January 2015 when the Mayor will decide on his final proposed budget. This will then need to be debated and approved by Full Council on 17 February 2015.” If you feel that a mobile library service would still be useful and/or have any other suggestions about how some of the funds could be used please fill in the online survey today. Please then look at the following site: www.bristolfuturelibraries.co.uk. The entire library service itself is undergoing a review to look at how it is running at the moment and how it might run in the future. There are many opportunities to get involved. Many people have already and their views are being considered. You can also go into your local library to find out more as well as get paper versions of the library survey. The deadline for initial comments is the end of January 2015. Please complete the library consultation survey. Please do get involved” Bristol – email from Jagruti Majithia.

  • Cardiff – Cardiff election candidate criticised for her support in fight to save city libraries – Wales Online. “A Labour parliamentary candidate has defended her role in a campaign against library closures proposed by Labour-controlled Cardiff council.” … “Ms Williams has helped organise a petition against the closure of Whitchurch library which has gathered hundreds of signatures. She is also supporting a campaign against the closure of Rhiwbina library led by three Independent councillors. But Craig Williams, a Tory councillor who will be opposing her at the general election in May, said it was “a contradiction” for her to be joining a campaign against cuts made by her own party. “
  • East Renfrewshire – Leisure trust gets green light – Extra. “The proposal — included in ERC’s budget plan as part of £17.6 million in cuts to meet a £20m budget shortfall — will now see the council’s sports and leisure facilities, and their staff, transferred to an arms length organisation by summer 2015.” … ““The main reason is to provide improved services, and to protect jobs. As a trust with charitable status, it is able to claim some rate and VAT exemption — it is estimated that up to £470,000 a year would be saved.”
  • Hampshire – A Government report says libraries will close unless they provide free internet access – Daily Echo. “… the leader of Hampshire County Council has responded saying that the county’s libraries are at the forefront of innovation. Councillor Roy Perry highlighted how Hampshire has been leading the way in adapting libraries to ensure they remain relevant in a changing world.” … “All our libraries are equipped with free Wi-Fi and computers and the larger ones have café facilities, sofas and a comfortable, contemporary feel.”
  • Haringey – Campaigners want clarity over future of Muswell Hill library – Broadway Ham and High. “Plans to relocate Muswell Hill library have come under fire after the council included the “well-used and popular” community resource in its budget cuts proposals” … “While the council says it is aware the library is a valued resource, it is considering moving it to an alternative high street location or creating “a new, purpose-built library” as part of the redevelopment of the site. But there are no estimates given of timescales or potential gains or savings for the council, other than cutting one member of staff at the library by 2018.”
  • Havering – Managers and staff of Havering Libraries put forward new proposals – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “This proposal has been produced by managers and staff within libraries and achieves the required budget reduction. The hours suggested for opening have been drawn up in line with not only current usage, but also with staff input to reflect community needs and service usage.”
  • Kirklees – Kirklees libraries visits up despite looming cuts – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Kirklees libraries are facing an uncertain future, with many threatened with closure, but they attracted 2,223,862 visits between April 2013 and March 2014, a ‘slight increase’ on the previous year Kirklees Council has said. Due to budget cuts, the money available to fund the library service could be slashed from £6.3m this year will be cut to £2.8m by 2017″
  • Knowsley – Knowsley Proposal to Cut Library Opening Times, Review Jobs – Prescot Online. “According to an undated letter from KMBC to library users, they plan to close Prescot, Halewood and Stockbridge Village libraries for an additional one-and-a-half days a week, and Huyton and Kirkby libraries for an additional two days. For Prescot, this would mean going from a full five day a week to a part-time three-and-a-half. KMBC say the plans are due to government cutbacks of £34 million. KMBC closed both Whiston and Page Moss libraries in March 2014.”
  • Lancashire – West Lancashire councillor vows to save Burscough station’s ticket office – Advertiser. “Plans to relocate Burscough Library into the train station building have been put forward by a West Lancashire Councillor. Labour County Councillor for West Lancashire West, Cynthia Dereli, has secured a feasibility study into the possibility of relocating Burscough Library into the station building in a bid to maintain services and protect the future of the ticket office.”
  • Leicestershire – Council seeks community groups and volunteers to run libraries in Bottesford and East Goscote – Melton Times. “Anyone interested in running libraries can visit www.leics.gov.uk/haveyoursay/futurelibraries for an information pack.” see also Folk urged to register interest in running their libraries – Loughborough Echo. “Coun Richard Blunt, cabinet member for libraries, said: “After listening to the public during our major public consultation over the summer, we’ve developed a package of support measures that will enable us to work in partnership with local communities in running rural libraries.” … “The library would be staffed and managed by volunteers with support, such as book stock, training and IT maintenance, provided by the county council.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincs Campaigner & Retired Librarian talks #SieghartReport – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Maurice Nauta was a senior manager in the library service and several other frontline services in the county, from 1988 to 2002. Here are his initial thoughts on the report.
  • Lincolnshire – We’ll fight to secure Coningsby and Tattershall library – Mair – Horncastle News. “Coningsby and Tattershall County Councillor Colin Mair (UKIP) has said he is determined to secure the long-term future of the library – whatever the authority decides. He said: “The library is a valuable asset for this community and we don’t want to see it go.” Coun Mair revealed more than 35 volunteers had come forward to run the library but admitted funding could be an issue – if the council pulls the plug.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Closing chapter for Laceby Library stalwarts – Grimsby Telegraph. Laceby Library has been closed, with it being uncertain if the parish council and/or volunteers will replace them.
  • North Yorkshire – ‘Great concerns’ raised over Ripon library’s future – Ripon Gazette. City development manager “has raised concerns that, from the information provided, it is ‘not clear the extent of volunteering expected/needed with core or hybrid libraries’. He said: “The primary concern for Ripon library is that a single member of staff, coupled with some volunteering is not going to be sufficient to maintain the current levels of opening hours and reductions in the level of service will have a detrimental impact.””
  • Somerset – Mobile library services across Burnham-on-Sea area face the axe – Burnham on Sea.com. Consultation will soon close.
  • Southampton – Save Cobbett Road Library – 38 Degrees. “Cobbett Road Library has been the heart of Bitterne Park and surrounding areas community for 75 years. It is a thriving library with 20+ community groups…. from Tai Chi to Toddler groups, Business Forum to Art Groups, Book groups to Coffee mornings. There are also regular evening talks and annual events such as the Christmas Fayre and Autumn Fayre.
    It is a haven for people of all ages, and we have many vulnerable people coming in to a friendly, safe space, with fantastic staff who know many people by name.” 
  • Stockton – New library to open in Billingham – Northern Echo. £2.7m combined library and customer service centre in Billingham will open in January, on site of former Art Gallery/council offices. Self-service. Merged Roseberry and Billingham libraries on one site. “In April 2013 Stockton Council announced plans to refurbish and relocate libraries across the Borough following public consultation and work on the new build began in January 2014. This year Roseworth Library and Thornaby (Westbury Street) moved into the Redhill and Riverbank Children’s Centres and the Stockton Public Health Information Library has also relocated from Bayheath House in Stockton into the Redhill facility. A transformed Norton library also reopened in November following a major refurbishment. “
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Library campaigners deliver petition to council – Barry and District News. “Rhoose residents, objecting to the downgrading of their valued village facility, attended the Vale Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday, December 17, at the Civic Offices in Barry, to deliver a petition containing 1,300 signatures. “
  • Walsall – Walsall library could be saved if mobile libraries were ditched – claim – Express and Star. ““It may sound strange coming from a Conservative but the libraries that have been earmarked to shut are in the poorer areas where there is more need. These are the places that would benefit most from a library.”” … ““If you look at the socio-economic map, you could argue communities like New Invention, Beechdale and Blakenall need libraries more than the areas that are keeping theirs. “My own thoughts are that we should not use Walsall’s two mobile libraries. They are phenomenally expensive, well over £100,0000 a year to run, and they cost £170,000 to buy. They are far more expensive than keeping one of the smaller ones open.”
  • Walsall – Walsall library visitors in fall of 90,000 – Express and Star. “It comes as cash-strapped Walsall Council is looking to close eight libraries by 2017 in a bid to save more than £500,000. There were 1,222,649 visitors to buildings across the borough in 2010/11 compared to 1,134,465 in 2013/14, figures have revealed.”
  • Wirral – Wirral council announces ‘partial climbdown’ on start date for reduced library opening hours  – Liverpool Echo. “The local authority plans to cut at 15 of the borough’s 24 libraries to 18 hours as part of cost-cutting measures across the council. But when library users were told days after the full council approved the proposals that the reduced hours would start in early January they reacted with fury. Jacquie McKelvie, chair of Friends of Irby Library said library staff and the friends groups “have been treated in such a disgraceful manner”, while Sue O’Neil, chair of the Friends of Greasby Library, said: “I am furious the council hasn’t asked us what are the best opening times for our library.””.  Council says “following representations from a number of Friends groups and staff, we will implement the revised opening hours for community libraries on March 2nd 2015″