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Claim your space

Editorial

It is a truth universally acknowledged amongst public librarians that they serve a wide variety of purposes, from literacy to online provision to social welfare to quiet study space to community living room to unofficial childcare.  It is another truth, almost as widely accepted, that because we serve so many purposes, we are in danger of becoming Jacks of All Trades and, therefore, sadly not as well funded as the Masters of Any.  The Public Library Universal Information Offers are an attempt by the profession to at least put forward the main reasons – Health, Reading, Information and Digital – and is to be commended.  Another way is to look at your community or region at something that is not being done that libraries fit into.  In Queensland, the State Library was successful in gaining funding due to identifying their space as being cradle to grave literacy: everyone else worked in silos – schools, adult learners, nurseries, employers – but it was only the library that worked across all age groups and thus had a natural co-ordinating role.  In the USA, public libraries are often seen as being involved with the Maker Space movement, encouraging people to create content rather than just consume it.  There, also, libraries have a disaster relief function (shown, this very week in the human-created disaster in Ferguson).  In Northamptonshire, libraries are claiming the space – not always happily – vacated by children’s centres and they’re also doing a ton with business. In many other English councils, on the other hand, they’re very literally having their space used by others – One Stop Shops, other councils services and even the police. Such services can be beneficial to the library but they run the risk of diluting the message even more.

I can’t prove it but I suspect that public libraries are often most prone to failure, to decline and cuts (and most often both) where they’re not claiming their space in their local council.  Just being reactive (and I know that “just” is masking a lot of pain and effort: it’s difficult to even stand still these days) is not enough.  You need to somehow get ahead of the game and get known for something councils and society need and will fund.  It would have been great if libraries had managed this in the pre-Austerity years but, frankly, the library profession fluffed it.  In hindsight, there was a whole of echo chamber and complacency going on even in what appeared at the time as being bad years.  Well, it’s tougher now but that doesn’t mean we have excuses.  Public libraries are too important for that.  So go out there, do your research, get your arguments and claim your space.  Because otherwise, in this nasty philistine world in which we now live, someone else will push you out of it.

Changes

UK news

  • A stark warning about services from libraries to leisure centres will be sounded by Wales local government minister today – Wales Online. “We can no longer pretend that councils can run everything, the minister responsible for local government in Wales will say today.”
  • Internet Manifesto 2014 – IFLA.
  • Keeping business overheads low with the help from public libraries – Bdaily. “One of the most significant benefits of public libraries for businesses are the resources they can offer. Not only do they provide free internet access, which in itself is an essential tool, but some libraries have dedicated business centres, such as the British Library in London, which can offer a range of tools, resources and advice to entrepreneurs and business people including help with safeguarding their intellectual property.”
  • Labour promises ‘digital data review’ – BBC News. “The report, which Labour will consider as part of its ongoing policy review, calls for more libraries and council offices to provide internet access and for regulator Ofcom to consider the case for a Universal Service Obligation for broadband, similar to that which requires Royal Mail to deliver letters to all addresses in the country six days a week.”
  • Love letters to libraries - Floris Books. Every member of the Floris company have penned a “love letter” to the significant library in their life.
  • Russell Brand: ‘schools without libraries are a disgrace’ – BookSeller. “Russell Brand described schools without a library as a “disgrace”, and said public libraries closures were driven by a “fundamentalist philosophy of profit”, in an entertaining and enthusiastically received Reading Agency Lecture last night (Tuesday 25th November).”

“He defended public libraries as well, describing a recent trip to Grays library, which he said a member of staff told him was moving. “I went back there recently to the library in Grays which I believe is being relocated, I can only assume as part of a plan to  demonstrate its no longer necessary to have a library, by first dislocating it and then eventually closing it down, which seems to be an ongoing strategy… A library is demonstrative of two principles, learning and reading, and community, and they’re both kind of value systems that are under continual attack.” … He said that library closures impacted on a culture of learning: “I suppose if you have an informed and educated population that are able to communicate articulately with one another on important issues in a limitless realm accessible through literature, then its more difficult to be placated, its difficult to keep such a population docile.” He said that closures were not driven by conspiracy, but by “a fundamentalist philosophy of profit.”

  • Russell Brand is setting up a library at his old school - Tewkesbury Admag. “Speaking beforehand, he said the library in his old home town of Grays in Essex was a “potential alchemical hub” and said it was “bloody ridiculous” that his former school in the same town did not have a library. He said: “It just seems like it would be a basic requirement.””
  • Russell Brand pledges funding to set up library at his former school – Guardian. “Russell Brand has disclosed that he is giving money to help set up a library in his former school in Grays, Essex. Brand was giving a lecture in London on the importance of reading, where he talked about the books that inspired him and those that are given to him on a regular basis by friends and strangers.”

International

  • A Nationwide Outpouring Of Support For Tiny Ferguson Library – NPR (USA). “Since the latest unrest began Monday night, more than $175,000 has poured in. More than 7,000 people had given something as of Wednesday afternoon, many in $5 and $10 amounts. Donations so far this week are 10 times what they were during protests in August. It all started with a few tweets from the library’s account, which Bonner’s wife helps with in her free time.”
  • Ferguson Library Stays Open as Schools and Services Close – Newsweek (USA). “one place, the Ferguson Municipal Public Library, has chosen to remain open in order to help children who have nowhere to go.” … “Newsweek spoke with the library’s director, Scott Bonner, who says the library is currently very busy. “Right now we have our usual crowd plus a whole lot of volunteers and quite a few students…we’ve been slowly building up on the number of students as a matter of the word getting out and then people trying to assess whether or not they feel safe coming out”

“Anyone who wonder what use libraries are in this day and age, go and read @fergusonlibrary‘s twitter stream. Neil Gaiman

  • Food for fines: Waive Library Fines via Food Donations at Rockingham County Public Libraries – Rockingham Update (USA). ” Starting on Dec. 1 and continuing until Items donated to the Reidsville Library will be donated to the Outreach Center.  Items donated to the Madison and Stoneville Libraries will be donated to the Hands of God Ministry.”
  • Fury at staffless library plans - Irish Examiner. “Local authorities in Offaly and Sligo are piloting “open libraries” which mean the buildings are open from 8am to 10pm, seven days per week. Staffing levels and hours are to remain the same and, outside those hours, the libraries would be unstaffed. The thinking is to allow the public to access the library at a time that suits them — at present many people are not free to come in during regular business hours.”.  Union “accused employers of failing to negotiate with the union in a meaningful way and of pushing ahead with implementation, effectively ignoring the views of its members.”Dec. 23, each dollar of fines will be waived with a corresponding donation of non-perishable food items.  This offer is for fines only.  The food item must have a current expiration date.  Cans cannot be dented. Items donated to the Eden Library and the Bookmobile will be distributed to the Salvation Army.
  • Check it out – St Joseph County Public Library [pretty good video actually - Ed.]
  • James Patterson burns books to promote reading – Guardian (USA). ““There’s a book burning going on in America,” says the author in a voiceover. “You’re invited. Especially the kids. You see they’re shutting down your local bookstores. Shutting down libraries. Publishers are dying. American literature will be next on the flames.” … “Patterson is asking Americans to sign a petition calling on Obama to, once a month, “appear in public carrying a book”, “visit a library or store and get a book”, and to “go on record saying he’s concerned about the state of reading in our nation”.”
  • New e-book deals between all danish publishers and the public libraries in Denmark - Biblioteksdebat (Denmark). “All Danish public libraries are expected to offer the new eReolen to their patrons.  The deals have been restricted to 2015 in order to closely evaluate and adjust the
    new service. The current 5,000 titles on eReolen are expected to grow to over 9,000  with these new deals.”

Vacancies

  • Chief Executive of CILIP - £85,000 p.a with “more available for exceptional candidate”. “This role requires an experienced leader used to operating at senior levels in a complex environment where Library, Information or Knowledge Management has been a core and successful element of the business. As well as your strategic ability, your track record will demonstrate how you will be able to engage with members to develop and grow CILIP’s services as well as be a strong ambassador for the profession as a whole.”

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Campaign to stop Barnet library closures raised in Parliament – Ham and High. “In a debate last Wednesday, Labour’s shadow minister for communities and local government Lyn Brown wished library campaigners well. She said: “Our local authorities were once the mainstay of cultural funding. Today, they are underfunded and reduced. They are struggling. Even the local authorities with the best practice are being forced into taking previously unthinkable action.”
  • Cardiff – Rumney Library closure consultation was ‘misleading’ Cardiff campaigners say - Wales Online. “A consultation which took place about the proposed closure of a city library was “misleading” campaigners have claimed. A petition signed by 2,100 residents calling for Rumney Library to be kept open will be handed in to Cardiff Council’s cabinet on Thursday. In a four-page letter sent to ward councillors, council cabinet members and MPs, the Community Action for Rumney Library group (CARL) list their objections to the removal of library services from their local branch.”
  • Cornwall – Councillors agree to take into account ‘Leon’s List’ over library cuts but reject changes - Falmouth Packet. “A Falmouth schoolboy’s passionate bid to reverse cuts to library opening hours has been rejected, but councillors have vowed to take into account his series of requests, dubbed ‘Leon’s List’, when making future decisions. Leon Remphry, ten, a pupil at King Charles School, has been busy gathering signatures and pushing councillors to think again about recent and future changes to reduce the service.”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – £1.2 million bid for new facility – Driffield Today. “move the current Mill Street customer service centre and registration services into the existing library building to be integrated with other public facing services.”
  • Kirklees – Kirklees Council to sell 938 garages and 1,238 gardens as it bids to raise £12m in asset sell-off - Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Although the list of buildings and sites at risk of disposal has not been made public, it identifies potential capital receipts to a value of £12m. It is likely to include 21 farms, 91 grazing tenancies, 938 garages and 1,238 gardens. Plus civic buildings that are suitable for asset transfers to the community will be identified, which is likely to include libraries.”
  • Lincolnshire – Letter: Who will pay for libraries judicial review? – Stamford Mercury. “The ruling Tory executive was told repeatedly that the consultation was flawed, but they refused to listen. This is the same Conservative Party that prides itself on telling us all that they are the party of low taxation, and the most efficient at running local services. I suggest that now is the time for Martin Hill, Nick Worth et al to put their money where their mouth is and pay all the unnecessarily wasted money back to the taxpayer from their own pockets.”
  • North Yorkshire – What is the future of Harrogate Library? – Wetherby News. “For five hours people arrived at the library with questions and comments about what would happen to the service in Harrogate when the funding from North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is cut from £5.8m to £4.2m.” … “Volunteers will be needed to take the reigns from professionals at least in part at every library in the district, including Harrogate, which could have a 60/40 split between paid staff and volunteers.”
  • Oxfordshire – Little Free Libraries Proposal for Installation in Henley – Henley Herald. “Henley Town Council have received a proposal from the Little Free Libraries Project to install some of their little free library book boxes around the town.  Little Free Libraries (LFL) is a registered charity that builds and installs libraries around the UK to promote reading, art and community engagement. They have done installations in London, Brighton, Liverpool and Birmingham.  All of the LFL are built by hand in their workshop in West Sussex and each one is decorated with a unique artistic theme designed to capture people’s imagination.”
  • Pembrokeshire – ‘Shelve library cuts’ says town council - Milford Mercury. “On Monday, [town] councillors decided – by seven votes to five – to oppose a review into library opening hours, which would affect all full-time libraries in Pembrokeshire” … “The proposals would reduce late night opening times to once a week, introduce some afternoon closures, and see libraries close at 4pm, or at 5pm but with lunchtime closures. But the plans also include a provision to increase opening hours during school holidays, so that tourists can use the information centre.”
  • Sefton – Sefton Council recommend proposals to cut services by over £30m - Southport Visiter. “Other services set to come under cost-cutting fire include Sefton’s six libraries – with plans to reduce opening hours by 15%, affecting mainly quiet periods, and meaning more than 22 staff positions are also at risk.”
  • Swindon – Book a place on the library bike – Swindon Advertiser. “The library’s Outreach team, led by Anish Noble-Harrison, successfully applied for £7,000 from Carnegie UK Trust’s Library Lab project to support the scheme, which will see library services taken out on the road. “
  • Swindon – Fight for our libraries – Swindon Advertiser. “People working in those services, providing those services, have seen conditions deteriorate. Debbie Estarbrook seems to want this process repeated for libraries. She reduces the function of libraries to “job searches and fact finding”. She seems to support a position where there are no well resourced libraries, staffed by properly paid professionals trained in helping people access culture and information. What a shame that people with time to be unpaid volunteers couldn’t use that time in supporting campaigns for proper libraries.”

Opening the world

Editorial

So I grew up in Newport in South Wales.  Let’s be honest, it’s not a beautiful town and it’s not got any better since the philistine council ripped down the Chartist mural a short time ago. But I remember the one thing that made me go to that town centre regularly was the library.  My first trips were for the Asterix books and gazing wide-eyed at the lady’s hands as they moved in blurs over the Browne Issue cards set out in rows over a long line of tables.  Then, when I’d grown up a little more, I took the bus from Magor on my own and the central library provided me with thousands of friends and a chance to go into space, fight post-apocalypse monsters and command armies.  Girls were also involved, although sadly almost all in Heinlein novels. That last got me quite excited for a while but, anyway, the point here is that there was a big central library in Newport that was important to me.  So I read with sorrow and, frankly, anger that it may be under threat of closure.  It was never a beautiful building – a bit too brutalist 60s/70s for my taste and it smelt of concrete and cleaning fluid – but, damn it, the place held wonders. And now, due to what sounds like chronic underinvestment, they’re thinking of closing the place.  And one questions comes to my mind.  Since when did we decide that civilization was too expensive?

Anyway, the Guardian is finding lots of people who think that there should not be a price put on such things.  It looks like I have something in common with AL Kennedy, for instance … so I’ll leave her the last lines. More >

Speaking Up For Libraries, each in their own way?

Editorial

The Speak Up For Libraries event on Saturday was notable for having actual politicians attending.  Helen Goodman MP, the shadow minister for public libraries was there as well as Justin Tomlinson MP, who was the Conservative chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on public libraries.  Helen gave me the impression of being a lady who has worked hard to get on top of her brief.  She is somewhat hamstrung by her party’s unfortunate agreement with the Conservatives about austerity and was therefore reduced to identifying pots of money that are underused and shifting resources around rather than promising more investment per se. Helen is, however, persuaded of the need for a national development agency (hurrah!) and even more significantly of the need for at least some standards.

Justin came across as a very nice amiable bloke who cares for libraries but is very much tied to the mantra not just of austerity but of localism as well.  Basically this means that libraries will have to make do with less and less money and with no national co-ordination (except in the realm of new technology).  When asked about standards, Justin could basically only agree to standards within each authority so he’d be happy (and you see him thinking about this) a “Swindon Standard” but nothing more.  That’s not a standard, Justin.  He also made clear, in the normal politician way that includes never actually saying it, that intervention by the secretary of state is never going to happen under any circumstances ever. He was keen on staff wearing uniforms (not an enthusiasm or a priority shared by much of the audience) and said several times that local library managers should be “empowered”.  The local library managers in the room would have been speculating at that point on how empowered they’d need to be to cope with halving of budgets.  One envisages drug dens. He also said that it was a “crying shame” that on average libraries spend only 7.5% on bookstock and that this should be increased.  The local library managers in the audience then mentally crossed off any freedoms they allowed themselves to imagine a minute earlier.

The Liberal Democrats failed to send a representative, possibly, as one wag suggested, because so few people support them now that they couldn’t find anyone free.  It’s also possible that their singularly lacklustre, almost invisible, record on public libraries has left them with nothing to actually say.  There was a lovely bloke from the Greens, Martin Francis from Brent, who said all of the right things and knew his stuff.  Such a shame that the Greens will only get at most 1% of the MPs. Well, unless they suddenly start talking about immigrants and get their picture taken holding pints of beer in pubs … which leads us on to the ghost at the feast.  It appears that UKIP were not invited to the conference which, while understandable in terms of a general abhorrence amongst conference-goers of their policies, is unfortunate as it shows bias.  Like it or not, they’re now a parliamentary party and will have a voice on libraries which, unfortunately, we still have no idea about because they were not there.

For me, the big theme from a very well attended, well-organised and surprisingly well-mannered conference was the need for Government intervention in the form of standards, a national body and a willingness to take councils to task. No-one there apart from the Conservative MP believed (and to a lesser extent, one suspects, the Labour MP) believed that a hands off “let a hundred flowers bloom” approach to local library services was the answer.  The task will be to persuade the politicians that it is, that they occasionally need to get their hands dirty to weed their garden, will the challenge of the next few months.

My full notes on the conference can be found at Speak Up For Libraries Conference, 22 November 2014 - Public Libraries News.

Changes

Ideas

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Westminster Hall debate on public libraries

Editorial

The first Westminster Hall debate for a few years (the last one being in January 2011) has taken place, with Labour and Conservatives attacking each other’s record on the subject.  There was some interesting debate about the poor record of the Conservatives from the Labour Party and some accusations of Labour closing more libraries from the Conservatives.  In reality, both parties are cutting spending on libraries: who it is doing it depends simply on who is in power and how much their budgets have been cut by the Coalition Government.  It’s always amusing to see Ed Vaizey claiming that the situation with libraries is rosy and this time he excelled himself by even managing to claim responsibility for the new Liverpool and Birmingham libraries, both of which owe their revamps to decisions made before 2010.  Ed asking “what can one do from the centre?” in one breath and then claiming to be a “pro-active campaigner”for libraries almost in the next was pushing it a tad though.

Changes

Ideas

  • Literacy hub - including all organisations interested in literacy in an area including libraries.

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Jacqueline Wilson surrenders

The pain in Spain falls mainly not as much as here on the library staff

Editorial

I don’t know about you but I had Spain down as a country going through at least as much public service pain as we were. So I was surprised to see when I was there last week to speak at their public libraries conference, that, although they are indeed suffering cuts, things are different there.  For one thing, it looks to me like library staff are being retained while bookfunds are being slashed. Compare that to the attitude shown here recently, for instance in this recent quote from Leicestershire:

We understand these people are valuable but buildings, books or people and can’t cut books or computers. We have to cut the person.” Cllr Richard Blunt, cabinet member for libraries.

Well, that’s pretty blunt and that attitude shocked the heck the out of the Spanish when I told them about it.  To them, although there are some volunteer libraries in smaller places, they see the librarian as integral to the system, not as something easily replaced by the users.  There are other differences too, not least of which being that the conference was paid for by the State and not the professional association, keeping the attendance fee down to a mere 30 Euros for three days.  Because of that, there were over 200 public librarians there and the whole conference was about public libraries. To put that into context, the nearest thing to that we have in this country is the Umbrella conference which cost £340 plus VAT last year when it was in Manchester, with very very few public librarians being able to afford a place. So that’s a whole bunch of professional networking, best practice and learning just plain missing from the UK.

There were also other differences.  For one thing, amazing to me, there was until this year no Public Lending Right … and, my goodness, they’re annoyed about it.  The problem, you see, is that local library services have to pay it there rather than the painless national system. Which is not going well when there’s low budgets anyway and the fees payable can be pretty small and very fiddly.  A few were trying to work out the best way to avoid paying … which leads me on to yet another difference, which is the Spanish have a general distrust of the private sector with the assumption being that if a private company is doing State work then, probably, some corruption is involved. Another big difference, which is also the case in France, is that there a legal minimum price limit on books which means that books are expensive which means (bear with me) that libraries are (my theory any way) in more demand.  Finally, Spain is still building new libraries, although the new one I went too – with no self-service, big counters and an OPAC which (honest) had “OPAC” written on it – suggested to me state of the art here twenty years ago.  Mind you, before the more pro-techy of us get cocky, the Australian librarian I went around with pointed out that her libraries have moved beyond self-service machines now and have a fully mobile library system now.  Of that, perhaps more next post.

Changes

Ideas

“Libraries are how people fall in love with books” Michael Morpurgo

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Pointless security sensors, Southampton cuts, Bromley cuts and Bolton cuts

Editorial

It’s a bumper edition today due to not having reported for one week. The reason for this was a most worthwhile few days spent attending (and speaking at) the biennial Spanish national libraries conference.  There’s enough for about four different posts from my time there but the first I have already published, as a separate page, on the subject that apparently a lot of people know about but few have mentioned: the pointlessness in many libraries of having security sensors.  Experts have already given some feedback via the comments section of the page and via Twitter so you can be assured that it’s not just one man’s opinion.  Basically, it looks like most librarians agree with my view that security gates cost far more money than they save but, if you live in a high crime area and have expensive stock then they can be viable (or more than viable) as long as you have trained and motivated staff.  If, however, your staff (and be honest with yourselves here) are not then you’re basically wasting your money.  Which no one should these days … and it’s a world wide phenomenon because I’m getting lots of Australian librarians agreeing with me: isn’t social media wonderful? For the full page see Library security gates: why you should save money by not using them.

Big news this edition are cuts in both Bromley and Southampton, where the standard response to cuts of bringing in the volunteers is being made.  Bromley is perhaps more interesting as it is looking at alternatives, including outsourcing, to its current close relationship with the neighbouring borough of Bexley.  Another B, Bolton, also makes the news due to more information about its cuts, with ten people’s jobs being lost (you know, I’d really appreciate some research on what happens to these people) and a look at becoming a non-profit trust on the cards. I hope Bolton has chatted to its neighbour Wigan as they are looking to get rid of their own trust. Finally, a mention must be made of the Leicestershire councillor who has made it clear that bricks and mortar are more important to him than mere employees.  Nice. This, I should point out, is directly opposite to the response to cuts that I discovered in Spain, but of that more in a post soon.

Changes

“In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed” Germaine Greer

News More >

For your information, there's a whole A to Z free to use

Liverpool, East Renfrewshire and an A to Z

Editorial

Two significant events: the first is that the Mayor of Liverpool has declared that he can keep all his libraries open after all.  Budgets have been got from various places, there’ll be some co-locations, some opening hour cuts … but none will be closed. The Mayor points to the hard work of his council, the campaigners point to them not letting the council forget how important libraries are.  The answer, as always, probably lies somewhere in between. The second event is that, as if to put the damper on things, East Renfrewshire is going to go all English and force 6 of its 10 libraries to be volunteer or co-located or close.  Bet you wish you voted the other way in the referendum now, Scottish folks. And so the cycle starts all over again.

By the way, I’m in Spain the rest of this week, talking to Spanish librarians (and probably people on the plane – I do that, it’s annoying) about the situation there and here.  I expect to learn much and, if I’m very lucky, I will come back with different views (however slightly) than when I went. I’ll tell you about it on my return. Adios.

Changes

An interview with Gary Green about the Library A to Z project More >

The music they’re making in Manchester will be heard around the country

Editorial

There’s been some major coverage of public libraries in the media over the last few days.  The Times and The Mail took up an article I wrote here a few days ago on the need for quiet study spaces in library, with the former publication devoting its third leader to it. The Mail evenwent so far as to say there was a “campaign” starting to restore hush to libraries, which I doubt. Just to make clear my position on this: I love loud and buzzing libraries and can do as loud a children’s story time as anyone but my article was also pointing out the unique selling point of libraries as quiet study spaces as well.  The challenge is to do both, not one or the other … and to let everyone know how fantastic and irreplaceable libraries are to boot.

As such, the Everything Everything residency at Manchester Central Library is already fantastically successful. Even the NME has covered it, for goodness sake, as has the Independent and the Guardian.  Moreover, Radio Six are devoting two whole weeks to the wonders of public libraries, including broadcasting from Manchester and the British Library. The whole thing promises to be a tremendous showcase for libraries and all involved should take a bow (just do it quietly if you’re in the domed reading room b).  Another showcase was the Jeremy Vine Show article on libraries on Friday.  Listen to that (especially the child … but well done to Ciara Eastell of the Society of Chief Libraries and Devon as well) to give you a boost all week.

Changes

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Now’s the time to do something for libraries: and there may never be a better opportunity

Editorial

At the recent Westminster Media Forum on “Prospects for books, publishing and libraries”, several important statements were made that may well have a bearing on the future of public libraries:

  • William Sieghart gave some pretty big hints at the contents of the Government commissioned report on public libraries that he was tasked to writing.  Crucially, reports from the event say that he made clear that he does not consider volunteer-run libraries a long-term viable option.,
  • Ed Vaizey has had the report for a month and has not published it as yet.  Suggestions made to me include the possibility that it says things he does not want people to hear (e.g. on volunteers), especially as he has recently stated he is “not minded” to intervene in Sheffield where it is precisely that model that is being proposed.
  • Lord Tope said “I have to say, from a political point of view, the answer lies with all of us. Don’t let Government forget it. We have a general election coming up, and members of parliament are remarkably willing to listen when they come around. Use that opportunity”

All of this ties, in my mind at least, with the need for as many individuals and groups as possible to write to Ed Vaizey to argue against his “not minded” decision there.  The more letters the better and it does not matter where you come from.  Let him know why you think libraries are important and let him know the strength of your feeling.  Don’t just take my word for it. The Broomhill Library Action Group have written a letter asking this which I publish in full below and they’ve even typed a draft letter for you in case you don’t want to do one from scratch.  While you’re writing it (and you will, won’t you?), you may also wish to consider asking Ed Vaizey why he has not published the Sieghart Report yet.  Strangely, he has not replied to me on this subject.

A cut and paste template is provided, into which people can just insert their own name and library, or can alter as they please – emails need to be sent by 20 NOVEMBER 2014 to: Ministerial Support Team enquiries@culture.gsi.gov.uk.

Dear Library Supporter

You may have seen media reports about the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, conducting an inquiry into Sheffield City Council’s plans for public libraries. He has just issued a letter stating that he is ‘minded not to’ intervene but before he makes a final decision he wants to know what you think. The Minister has a duty, under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, to superintend library provision and to intervene if a council is failing to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service” for all who want to use it.

The campaign group, Broomhill Library Action Group, have always maintained that the council’s plans result in a service that does not meet these requirements. We presented many arguments, backed up with data, to support our claim. Nonetheless the Minister has chosen to disregard our evidence, and has sent a letter saying that he is “not currently minded” to intervene

In the past, nine other library campaign groups from around the country have tried to get the Minister to intervene. He has rejected all of these. In fact, we are only one of at least 10 library groups across the country for whom he has similarly failed to intervene. We believe that the Minister is not only wrong, but that ultimately we need to persuade him he is wrong.

The Minister has asked for further representations to be presented by 20 November 2014. We are therefore asking as many people as possible to write to the Minister, and to tell him to organise an inquiry to protect this valuable service. We need you to state your support for an ongoing ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service in Sheffield.

A cut and paste template is provided via this link, into which people can just insert their own name and library, or can alter as they please.  E-mails need to be sent to: Ministerial Support Team. Please send it on to all your friends to complete.

Thank you.

Broomhill Library Action Group

Changes

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Other library authorities were a bit Miffed

Briefing 4th November

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