Ian Anstice

Public librarian since 1994, user of public libraries since my first memories ... and a keen advocate of public libraries and chronicler of the UK public libraries scene. Library manager since 1998, winner of Information Professional of the Year 2011 and Winsford Customer Service "Oscar" 2012 and 2014.

Homepage: http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com


Posts by Ian Anstice

Cuts, ideas and appeals

Editorial

Protests about cuts in Thurrock may have assisted in reducing the impacts of the cuts there, although the small print may mean the improvements are more apparent than real.  Anouncements of cuts have come out in Hartlepool and more details on deep cuts have come out about Lambeth.

Moving away from the general depression, there’s some interesting initiatives like Raspberry Pi workshops (not a new thing but one I have not highlighted on these pages before) and also, would you believe, literary anarchists.  Finally, for something completely different, there’s an appeal to help out recording a play based in a library and for your local library card to be sent for a collection forming in Australia.

Changes

Ideas

Appeals for help

“Recently, a customer showed me a Library card she got while holidaying in Wales and it was quite different and interesting. My co-workers and I got to talking and I thought it would be a wonderful idea to see cards from all over the world. The card on the image attached is our current Library card design here in Maryborough, Victoria, Australia. We’d love to collect as many as we can, representing as many countries, cities etc from all over the world as we can and display them on a giant wall mural in the Library.  We would really appreciate if you could please post us an (inactive) card (or whatever it is your patrons use to borrow books) from your local Library service or if you could please pass this on to some of the Libraries you are involved with and share on your Facebook page if possible. We would be so very grateful if you could please help us with this project. If you’d like to see the finished product when it is done or be sent one of our cards in return please let me know! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152703433907773&set=a.164234827772.118579.702802772&type=1&theater

UK national news

  • Digital Participation in Dumfries and Kirkcaldy – Carnegie UK Trust. Ipsos Mori survey looks at online etc usage including libraries.  Shows half of potential users of digital would like assistance from libraries, in front of everyone else but family and friends.
  • Ed Vaizey MP visit to Northampton called off due to his train being cancelled – Northampton News. “The minister had also been due to talk to Dr Blantern at the library about his role as chairman of the national library task force.”
  • Rosamund Urwin: Our libraries and parks should never be under threat – London Evening Standard. Laments cuts in Lambeth. “The library closest to my childhood home is marked for closure, its archive for exile. Lambeth council wants to sell Minet library to developers, who’ll doubtless build flats. Funding for the borough’s parks, including Minet’s neighbour Myatt’s Fields, will be halved from 2016. There’ll be no gardener, no park manager, the greenhouse and café could go and the children’s fountain run dry. This story is being repeated across the country as government cuts bite. More than 500 libraries are currently under threat. Lambeth’s tale is pretty typical: the council also plans to sell Waterloo library. The cash raised will go into an endowment, which can then be used by residents to run the Durning, Carnegie and Upper Norwood libraries as the trio’s council funding evaporates”
  • The news where you are: digital preservation and the digital dark ages - Informed. “We do desperately need to raise awareness about the challenge of digital preservation so that solutions can be found and implemented.  Politicians and decision makers are consistently under-informed or unaware of the problem. “
  • UK petitions - Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “A page linking to all active UK library ePetitions we could find, to make it easy to sign them all.”

International

  • Check this out: Halifax councillor proposes finding a new name for libraries – Metro News (Canada). “Halifax’s new Central Library represents a “new era” for Halifax Public Libraries – an era so new, it has regional councillors debating whether it should still be called a “library.”” … “If it’s going to be a community hub, if it’s going to be a technology hub, if it’s going to be a centre of gathering…I think it’s time we start changing the way we think and promote and even call these facilities,””
  • Remarkable Lessons In Innovation From A Public Library – Forbes (USA). “In her hands, the library hasn’t just been a place to get books. It’s been a vibrant tool for bringing out the best in others. The Library offers over 1,600 programs annually. To my eyes, Maxine has no conception of the word “can’t.” Some think that public libraries can’t be noisy, boisterous, provocative, outrageous or entertaining. They can’t buy – and program – robots, or attract thousands of inventors, scientists and hobbyists for a single event. As Maxine gets ready to hand over the reins of the library and start a new career as a consultant, the accolades are pouring in.”

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Hendon MP Matthew Offord speaks out against proposed library closures by Barnet Borough Council - Times Series. “Mr Offord said he was concerned about the proposed closures, and was calling on the Conservative-led council to keep the libraries open. The Conservative MP said: “As someone to whom books mean a great deal, I share the concern of my constituents regarding possible reduction in libraries and library services. I have been liaising with the leader of Barnet Council for some time to see how the situation might be resolved.”
  • Barnet – Library campaigners write open letter to Barnet’s Conservative councillors urging them to support Labour motion and halt cuts – This is Local London. “In an open letter to the Conservative councillors, library campaigners from across the borough emphasised the “traditional Conservative values” of the service, and warned cuts would damage the chances of “budding entrepreneurs”. The letter states that libraries “offer a place of warmth and compassion for all ages in the community and allow the self-determination of today’s students in reaching their goals.””
  • Birmingham – Tories: ‘We would keep Library of Birmingham open seven days a week’ - Birmingham Mail. “Birmingham Conservatives say they would keep the Library of Birmingham open seven days a week and scrap the £35-a-year ‘garden tax’ in their alternative council budget. The main opposition party has highlighted libraries and bins as priorities for funding ahead of Birmingham City Council’s annual budget meeting on Tuesday, March 3″ … “The Tories also said they would keep all 39 community libraries open at a time when the council is believed to be considering cutting at least four.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Baby groups in libraries in pipeline to be saved from cuts as more proposals retracted – Argus. “The groups, run by the Early Years Project, were at risk of closure if funding reductions to children’s centres and related services was introduced when “the council set the 2015/16 budget. The council told The Argus there were plans to stop financial support for groups in September – but interim funding would be provided until then so other options could be explored.”
  • Coventry – Coventry council budget finds cash for communities to run services – Coventry Observer. The “council has found £500,000 to help community volunteers and organisations who want to step in to run public services including libraries and youth clubs – as it passed a £15million cuts budget with a 1.9 per cent Council Tax hike.”
  • Hartlepool – Hartlepool library services under threat amid fresh cuts – Hartlepool Mail. ” since 2013 the Library Service budget has had to be reduced by almost 16 per cent. Despite this savings have been achieved without any direct impact on library opening hours or the branch library network.” but now deeper cuts: “Among the aspects being looked at in the review are opening hours, whether the branch libraries are still in the best locations to serve the needs of communities, potential for volunteers and external organisations to play an increased role, possible further development of the libraries’ online services and the potential for the libraries to generate additional income.”
  • Hertfordshire – Strategy to boost Herts libraries over next 10 years agreed by county council - Herts and Essex Observer. “However, following a petition signed by 1,209 supporters, members of the council’s customer service, performance and libraries panel decided that staff should be kept.”
  • Hertfordshire – Litfest 15: Programme of library events for March and April - Hertfordshire Council. “Our annual programme of events presented by Hertfordshire Libraries takes place in March and April. We recommend you book early to avoid disappointment”
  • Kent – Concerns over future of Sandwich Library as Kent County Council launches consultation - Kent Online. “Residents in Sandwich say they are being asked to vote blindly on a consultation to offload library services to a charitable trust. At a meeting of Sandwich Library Guild at the Guildhall last Wednesday, chairman Margaret Simpson said the consultation seemed to be taking a “cart before the horse” approach. No clear business model means residents feel they are left in the dark over exactly what would happen if services were handed over.”
  • Kirklees – Credit card device called Raspberry Pi creating new programmer revolution in Huddersfield to help everyday people control anything from cars to robots - Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “In an unassuming room in Huddersfield Library, a mini technological revolution is under way. And those involved hope to create a new generation of computer whizzes-come-inventors. Robots, computer games, apps and CCTV systems are all springing to life, which are being created by people as young as four and as old as almost 80. And it is not a large, hi-tech lab that is making all this possible, but a mini device no bigger than the size of a credit card, called Raspberry Pi.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Council Cultural Consultation: Libraries hardest hit as residents asked to patch up service – Brixton Buzz. “We were expecting Lambeth Council to announce the possible closure of the Minet Library and the moving of the Lambeth Archives. We weren’t quite prepared for what was to follow.” … “Lambeth Council wants to close the Minet and Waterloo Libraries. It proposes to flog on the land to developers. £10m is expected to be raised. This will then be invested in an endowment fund. Profit from this will then ‘enable’ residents to run the Durning, Carnegie and Upper Norwood Libraries. Council funding for these three will stop.”.  “this online push appears to be coming from Lambeth Council itself. Like we said – how very odd that a local authority is about to close two libraries and stop funding for three others, yet then tries to invent an online campaign saying how much they love libraries.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Libraries in peril - History & Social Action News and Events. “The financial plan to support so-called ‘community libraries’ simply doesn’t add up. They are being set up to fail. Lambeth’s plans are totally flawed – and show that it has no idea what public libraries do for the council and its residents.” see also Lambeth in line for library closures - BookSeller. “Laura Swaffield, chair of the Library Campaign and a member of Friends of Lambeth Libraries, said: “The service itself has been under-funded for decades. Yet it is improving on all measures, and expanding its activities dramatically. Thanks to enormous efforts by staff, it is winning awards and government praise. The libraries’ beautiful buildings have been neglected for years, almost to the point of destruction. Lambeth has recently invested in repairing this damage – and it is paying off, with attractive spaces that people want to use. Much of this is now to be wasted.””
  • Manchester – Book in to hold your wedding at Central Library – Manchester Council. “The Grade II* listed Central Library, which fronts the city’s most desirable new destination St Peter’s Square, is now licensed to host civil ceremonies and is primed to become the most prestigious new wedding venue in the city. The much anticipated wedding package offers couples the opportunity to be married in the privacy of one of Manchester’s best loved spaces, with exclusive access to the building being made available on Sundays”
  • Southampton – In denial over closures – Daily Echo. “Despite being the people closing the library, there was an abundance of Labour councillors in utter denial that they were responsible for closing the library” … “In a couple of years, when the libraries have been shut for a while, I predict that Labour will be explaining in their leaflets how they did their utmost to keep the libraries open.”
  • Southampton – Views on Cobbett Road Library’s future – Bitterne Park Info. “Monday saw a packed meeting at the Church of Ascension as residents and politicians from various parties explored options to keep Cobbett open”
  • Staffordshire – Library shake-up for Lichfield and Burntwood is ratified – Lichfield Mercury. “Plans to shake-up library services across Staffordshire have been ratified by senior county councillors. Lichfield Library has been earmarked to become a ‘library extra’ – a centre of excellence, with the widest range of services, and the most comprehensive of the three new models for the facilities in the future.” but other libraries not so lucky and job situation unclear.
  • Thurrock – No Thurrock libraries to close (but you may want to read the small print) – Your Thurrock. “Council leader, John Kent was responding to a number of petitions across the borough as well as a consultation with the public by Thurrock Council. Councillor John Kent did stress however, that “libraries have to change”.” see also Council leader ‘never considered’ closing any libraries… but the mobile service will stop – Clacton Gazette.
  • Thurrock – Thurrock libraries saved from closure – Thurrock Gazette. “An added and unexpected announcement also heard that a new library will open in Purlfeet – taking the number of libraries in the borough to 10. A Thurrock Council consultation looking at ways to save £500,000 suggested one way was to close some of the libraries in the borough when it launched last month.”
  • West Sussex – Literary anarchists strike in Littlehampton - Littlehampton Gazette. “Anyone can be an anarchist of this literary leaning – simply head for one of five points around Littlehampton where a selection of books have been left in sealed, weather-tight plastic bags and make your choice. You might want to leave a book of your own behind, too, perhaps with a note wishing the new reader well and saying why you enjoyed the book. The initiative is another creative idea from the Littlehampton Organisation of Contemporary Art (LOCA), which left five books at each of the five places on Friday. Three were titles for grown-ups, one was for teenagers and one for children. By Monday, several had been taken and the stock will be topped up tomorrow.”

A home for the homeless

Editorial

One of the things you notice about libraries is that no one is turned away.  As long as you’re not disturbing anyone or trashing anything then it doesn’t matter who you are, what money you have or where you come from, you can come in.  A library is the one place where you should be able to come in, no questions asked. Which is why this tweet below showing a picture from a San Diego Library so annoyed me.  It’s a way to keep the homeless out – if you’ve got big bags then you can’t come in.  Doesn’t matter if you disturb anyone when you get in or not, tough, your misfortune means we can say no.  The sneaky policy means the library service can say, hand on heart, that it has no policy against the homeless.  Just that, strangely, they don’t see that many any more. Fancy that. Like the twitterer, I like nothing about this.

 

This is an example of a deliberate barrier put in place but there are many other, less obvious barriers that we can all be guilty of.  Way back when, my library service required two forms of  ID to join.  I was turning away people who wanted to use the service.  Now, we require no ID at all and – you know what? – it’s made no noticeable difference on lost stock but it sure as heck means I don’t turn people away now.  It also means that if you are guilty of the crime of not having an address then you can join the library.  Which is how it should be. Don’t get me wrong, if someone is disturbing other people in the library, they are ejected and if they steal things, we treat it seriously – but to stop people using the service because of bureaucracy is not somewhere we should be in 2015. The library’s place as the home for the homeless, the temple for all religions and none, places a heavy task on library staff to leave their prejudices (conscious or not), not bags, at the door.

Changes

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Being open about weeding

Editorial

The withdrawal of 240,000 books from Manchester Central Library – and their selling to booksellers/recyclers – has again raised its head, three years after the original story.  For me, it illustrates the need for trust and open-ness. Librarians need to, when getting rid of a ton (especially many tons) of stock remember that the stock is not theirs.  It is owned by the council and thus the public.  Staff therefore need to be able to justify what is being cut in terms of a policy and, as (as a possibly pre-emptive step never before undertaken), actually let the public know they’re doing it.  Public libraries are the most open of buildings and staff rightly pride themselves on the skills that they have, but one of those should be being up front about what is happening to books.  It’s not, after all, waste or bad practice to get rid of books.  No library, except those desperate cases with no new stock coming in at all, can survive for long without weeding its stock. We should be proud of the process and explain why and how we’re doing it rather than – as is so often the case – hiding the fact.

Let me be clear, I have no reason to believe that Manchester did anything wrong in getting rid of stock – it had a policy, apparently only duplicates were got rid of, and everything else that I have seen about that building impresses the heck out of me – but the negative news coverage goes to show that public relations is very important.  Perhaps councils, because it’s a rare library service that actually controls its own PR, should be up front and say that each item costs money each year to store (I’ve recently seen the figure of £4 per item quoted) and now of all times we simply can’t afford to do that for all books, let alone ephemera and paperbacks published ten years ago. Being open about such things may inspire trust, and trust is exactly what we need to remember we hold the items in.

Using my time machine, I can confidently predict that Ed Vaizey will say that he will not be intervening in Sheffield when he produces his final decision on 27th February.  Oh OK, you got me, I don’t have a time machine … but who needs one to be able to predict what this most non-interventionist of ministers will decide?

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The Vacuum Cleaner performs his autobiographical one man show Mental. (copyright Karen Thornburn)

Necessity is the mother of invention? Libraries in 2015

Editorial

There’s a ton of imaginative stuff going on in libraries, if one pushes past the heavy curtain of budget cuts.  My thanks to St Helen’s libraries for sending me details of their Arts in Libraries project, which was brought to my attention after a piece written on the need for more theatre in libraries.  The boss of their service tweeted me saying they’re already doing a ton of stuff … and indeed they are. The thing is, of course, that these things are now never dependent on internal resources: ideas have to be free (see the fantastic Hovermark idea below), cost very little or have the capacity for commercial sponsorship (I have hopes for Awesome Boxes in that regard), receive outside funding (like St Helen’s) or require partnership (see this excellent US article). There’s more stuff going on as well: a conference in Edinburgh next month will be covering innovations and I’m including further details about this today: I’m going so I hope to see you there and would love to hear from you about what is going on in your service.

Changes

  • Hertfordshire - (Clarification from council) – £2.5 million cut in library service per year expected to be reached by third year (£1m cut each Year 1 and Year 2, £500k cut Year 3).

Ideas

  • Awesome boxes - Customer puts the library book they loved in a special box when returned in branch or online.
  • Hovermarks - Downloadable copyright-free bookmark that points towards the spine, not cover, allowing the bookmark to be read when books is shelved and not on display.
  • “Play stations” at story times - Provide toys, with play activities and “play tips”, integral to programme.

Arts in Libraries – St. Helen’s case study

Since 2011, St.Helens Council’s Arts and Libraries services have been working together to programme high-quality arts participation projects and performances. The Cultural Hubs programme, funded through The National Lottery and distributed through Arts Council England’s Grants For The Arts (Libraries) fund, began in 2013. It has enabled a programme of performances, plays, gigs, workshops, courses, events and exhibitions in all 13 libraries within the borough of St Helens.

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A week of public library news

Editorial

A bumper edition of a week of news today.  The lateness is partly due to library stuff – organising the county final of a schools poetry competition (Poetry By Heart) and staffing a stall at a community event on Saturday.  Anyway, let’s look at what’s going on – more details about the cuts in Hertfordshire and more on volunteers in Staffordshire combines with cuts to Shropshire and the ongoing saga in Lincolnshire.  Breaking news from the last is that the DCMS will be looking into the cuts after it agreed to take a letter of complaint from a campaigner seriously.

Changes

Ideas

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Glory days

Editorial

Some positive news today.  The good people of Cardiff have campaigned mightily to save seven threatened branches and the council has agreed to save them all, although it is unclear in what format. Meanwhile, in Scotland, West Dunbartonshire has not only backed down from closing Balloch Library but is going to buy it a new public toilet as well as spending a mighty £500k to improve Clydesbank Library. Meanwhile in Walsall, it has been announced that, while eight libraries will still be closed, it’s going to happen three or more months later than expected.  That last one provides a bit of a hint as to what may be going on – councils may not be keen on closures in May, what with the election and all. Indeed, the next few months may be glory days for saving threatened libraries as councils realise a closed local civic building is not a votewinner. But only if people campaign.

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It's a bit colourful.

Sanctuary, celebration and love: not bad, people, not bad.

Editorial

It’s been a great weekend.  Loads of people have used libraries, of all ages and backgrounds, finding in them what they need, regardless of their ability to pay.  By their presence, the buildings have contributed to local communities, provided equality in a world increasingly without it and been appreciated by hundreds of thousands.  Oh, and it’s also been National Libraries Day. There’s been a lot said (and great to see the Sunday Mirror printing an application form) about closures and cuts and anger but the main words that have sunk into my mind are sanctuary, celebration and love.  Those are not half bad words for any job. Be proud.

Changes

David Whitehouse on the importance of libraries More >

LibrarianFirst?

Editorial

The findings of the Independent Report on Public Libraries included the suggested action to do something like Teachfirst for public libraries in order to encourage new and talented young people into the sector at an affordable price. With the help of the Society of Chief Librarians, The Creative Society and Arts Council England, that suggestion has now become reality.  The details are:

  • 50 paid internships for unemployed 16-24 year olds in England to work in the public library sector.
  • Only for posts where “where job roles and skill sets are common to arts organisations. For example: front of house, education and outreach, marketing, digital media.”
  • Organisations can apply for “part wage grant”, explaining what post it is for, its sustainability etc.
  • For one year or more, “Learning how to do the job by doing it”.

The press release is here and more details are here. If I understand this right then that second point means there is a barrier against the apprentices being used, as some fear, to simply replace paid employees or to fill vacancies.  The challenge for library services will be to find roles that fill the criteria and are sustainable. But that is fine. After all, we want new people coming in doing this kind of thing and if it means that library services can experiment, at cut rates, with new roles then there will be few complaints.  At the not exactly young age of 44, I am often the youngest working in some branches I visit and so an initiative like this is to be welcomed. It is also great that action points in a report on libraries is actually being implemented, rather than being just talked about and bodes well for the other suggestions as a whole.

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Changing the narrative

Editorial

R David Lankes has written an excellent piece for National Libraries Day where he looks at how US libraries faced cuts and declining usage but survived and have grown stronger than ever.  This was achieved, he says, by “controlling the narrative”, making public libraries being creative and inspiring places to be rather than their old image of books and social welfare.  Strangely, this was a sentiment also echoed by a Canadian in the useful #uklibchat debate on public libraries who said “Libraries & Librarians must be prepared to change from traditions, must take risks try new things. Get out in the community”. My glib response to him at the time was “Agreed. Now try that with 50% less budget over 4 years, half the staff and no political will. Report back” but it strikes me that, actually, libraries across the country are radically changing from their traditions and going out to the community. Albeit in radical ways that, ironically, the Canadian would probably be shocked with, but no one can see UK libraries have not been changing, just only not in ways entirely controlled by the libraries themselves.

The question is for UK public libraries not should we but can we change the narrative.  The narrative of the last few years has been of saving libraries and of reduced usage.  The campaigning message may be useful for a short while nationally but, like Save the Whales, reduces its impact over time.  The reduced usage narrative is that of defeat and is poisonous: we need to get away from it.  But it seems to me that budget cuts have been so deep, the political lack of understanding of public libraries so disconnected from the reality and, yes, the lack of leadership (structurally at least) so dysfunctional that to blame librarians for the failure to change into 3D community workshop engineering hi-tech wunderkinds is a bit much.  But that’s the challenge, my friends.  We need to convince the politicians that libraries are relevant to their goals and the public that libraries are places to be cherished (and not just with placards).  This may be very hard with some public-service hating anti-professional and deeply ideological politicians but there are other people out there and even the most dyed in the wool reactionary is not demonic.  The SCL and CILIP are trying to do what they can (albeit within tightly controlled parameters) in this.  There are, in some of the things I see in reports innovation (such as the BL Business Centres, the one Maker Space, the joy of the Summer Reading Challenge) that say there’s hope but there needs to be more.  And that’s going to be hard.  But it needs to be done. Frankly, if it would improve things, I would even say nice things about Ed Vaizey.  Now that really would be changing the narrative.

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Nothing Rotten about that quote. This work, "John Lydon National Libraries Day 2015", is a derivative of "John Lydon Mosaic by Ed Chapman" by dullhunk, used under CC BY 2.0. "John Lydon National Libraries Day 2015" is licensed under CC BY 2.0 by cilipmarketing.

Should one save all the libraries all the time?

Editorial

OK, I’m going to say it.  Sometimes, closing a library is the right thing to do.  It’s usage has fallen, the place is falling apart and no-one cares for the place, either staff or public. When the announcement is made, there’s no protest outside.  It’s a fair cop, the place closed.  I’ve been in libraries like that on occasion and it’s a depressing experience, best to sell the land and spend the money elsewhere.  Of course, these days far more than the defunct are being closed down.  You can tell this because, in place after place, people protest, march through town, take their council to court.  People don’t do this because they fancy a spot of light placard waving after Jeremy Kyle.  They do it because their library means that much to them. Those libraries should be saved.  But how on Earth is that done when money is so cut each year?

Sadly, in times of 50% “savings” (how I hate that word) to budget, heads of service need to make tough choices.  And they are tough, and would have been unimaginable in 2009. No boss enjoys cutting his or her budget, there’s no gleam of schadenfreude as the red line goes over the five least performing branches in their borough.  I know of senior staff, real decision makers, who have cried when doing this – no library chiefs are as devoid of humanity or intelligence, or as full of short-sighted selfishness as some suggest.  It’s horrible, and worse for the staff and communities most of all.  But in a time where the choice is either retrenchment into fewer branches or spreading budget so thinly that no-one wants to come into them that choice has to be made.  The third option of volunteer libraries also has to be considered, with all the problems and opportunities it entails, with its unfair postcode lottery and blackmail implications not least in my mind.

So I accept the need to close the occasional library through gritted teeth.  I’m a librarian, a library user and a lover of libraries.  But the reality that has to be faced with the governing ideology is of Austerity is that it is not just the failed defunct library that should be gone but libraries that are (or should be if funded enough) vibrant and teeming.  The over-riding cause of all of this misery is the historic decision to cut local councils by the biggest percentages seen in the last century or two.  Until that ideology dies, along with its allies of just plain disliking local services, loving private profit, and believing that such cuts will improve efficiency rather than ruining the neediest people’s lives, then that is what is going to continue to happen.  And it will happen, worse and worse, until something breaks so badly the whole thing is discredited. Or we live in the ultra-efficient world that Luke Johnson (ex owner of Borders, although strangely this is not mentioned much in his bio) suggests in the Sunday Times. When councils finally do run ultra-efficient multi-partnership behind-the-scenes economy of scale machines off their own bat. Perhaps that will happen. Or, instead or at the same time, the fact that people love libraries, depend on libraries and need libraries gets through to those – way above the level of library chief – in actual real power in Downing Street.  And that has most certainly not been David Cameron up until now.

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