Over 370 library closures are right and justifiable, says boss of MLA.

376 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)
– plus one – Doncaster are closing 14, rather than the previously announced 13.
– some to close in Hull – no change to figure as unsure as to scope.
– plus two – Southampton have recently closed 2.

This is from the Times letters page today, from the person in charge of the MLA (the quango with some responsibility for libraries).  Due to the paywall, I cannot link directly but I think it presents another side of the argument. 

It is untrue that the Libraries Act is being ignored and an exaggeration to claim that “councils are ‘doing a Wirral’ with impunity” (letter, January 3).  The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council is aware of proposals for substantial changes to a wide range of local services, including public libraries.  The 1964 Act calls for a “comprehensive and efficient” service, so councils are right to rationalise costs and infrastructure while striving to improve delivery. 
Closures grab headlines, but can be justified, and new and refurbished libraries are opening, too.  In addition to reading books people want libraries to provide digital media and 24/7 access, factors that are certain to drive further change on the high street.  Councils invite us to advise them on sustainable strategies;  we have expert teams in the field and our website offers case studies, guidance and comparator data.
Libraries are community spaces, free for all to use and vital in many places, so local consultation is essential.  Final decisions can only be taken by councillors accountable locally, but under the Act these may be subject to independent scrutiny.
Chief Executive Officer, Museums
Libraries & Archives Council”

Unfortunately, the Times missed off his phone number 020 7273 1476 and email address roy.clare@mla.gov.uk (available at http://www.mla.gov.uk/about/who/staff)

Cambridgeshire – Cambridgeshire against the cuts
Croydon – protests at plans to close Norbury – This is Local London
Doncaster – Council confirm 14 libraries to close “”There has been absolutely no public consultation whatsoever.” – The Star (out of 26, and for the bibliographic services unit, archives and schools library service to move to the central library site).
Doncaster Council disgrace – Save Doncaster Libraries
Falkirk – Libraries to be transferred to a trust – BBC News
Gloucestershire – 10000 petition against closures – Cotsworld Journal. Petition covered on BBC Points West (link may not work in your area).
Gloucestershire – this is what a 10000 petition looks like – Flickr
Gloucestershire – thousands force debate – This is Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire and Somerset – petition power – This is Somerset
Hertfordshire – I love my Herts libraries – Facebook
Lancashire – amnesty? – Pendle Today
Merton – volunteers to counter cuts in library opening – Wimbledon Guardian
Milton Keynes – Wot no books? Save Stony Stratford Library – About My Area
North Yorkshire – Andrew Jones MP against the closures – MP website
Richmond – Libraries mat be privatised, or be closed – Richmond and Twickenham Times
Somerset – Interview with library campaigners “if you’re getting rid of a hospital, you’re denying someone’s health: if you deny them a library, you’re denying someone’s knowledge” – BBC Radio Somerset (from 1.47)
Somerset – library consultation at Crewkerne – This is the West Country
Somerset – “don’t shut Highbridge Library” – Burham On Sea.com
Southampton – 2 libraries to close/have closed – Daily Echo
Worcestershire – Pershore library could move out of town – Evesham Observer

“I love the library” song – Bucky and the Band.  Other library songs here
Library Campaigns – are we all inside the same tent? Course – Walk You Home
Full details of the Library Campaigns course are here
Martha Lane Fox – Digital future for all, includling libraries – Guardian
(USA) Map of UK Library Closures – The “M” Word ( this one is in Germany.)
(USA) Libraries – A call to arms – Roly Poly

The need to campaign

373 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)
– plus one – Northern Ireland figure previously reported as 9, actual number is 10 – details here
It is interesting to see which are the most active areas in terms of campaigning.  They are not necessarily the ones with the most serious cuts.  Somerset and Gloucestershire both have very active campaigning groups and serious cuts envisaged … but I am not seeing so much for, say, Dorset or for Cornwall, both with major cuts coming.  Hopefully this is just due to lack of information on my part but, if not, Somerset and Gloucestershire stand more chance of saving their libraries.  But for want of a campaigner…

Bury – Save Unsworth Library – Facebook
Devon – new expanded mobile library services – This is the West Country
Doncaster – Read-In on 29th January – Facebook
Dorset – the “con” in “consultation” – Shirley Burnham’s Blog
Gloucestershire – More than 10,000 have signed petition – FoGL
Isle of Wight – Closure consultation begins today – Ventnor Blog and Isle of Wight Radio
Isle of Wight – “A fresh direction for the island’s libraries” consultation document (9 out of 11 to close) – Isle of Wight Council
Moray – no library closures but will turn to a Trust – Banffshire Journal
Northern Ireland – details of closures – Time Travel NI
North Yorkshire – Save North Yorkshire libraries – Undaimonia
Oxfordshire – public meeting held to discuss closure of Woodcote library, new group formed to help save it – Henley Standard
Oxfordshire – meeting to save Botley library – Oxford Times
Oxfordshire – closing facilities is “very tough” says council chief – Henley Standard
Salford – “There are some buildings we need to get rid of anyway” – Manchester Evening News
Somerset – Library closure roadshow begins – BBC
Somerset – Consultation over closure of Highbridge – Burnham On Sea.com
Somerset – Consultation over closure of Ilminster and South Petherton – Yeovil Express
Warrington – More details on cuts, including ending of temporary contracts – Warrington Worldwide

BookTrust – How to put a value on its cost – Channel Four
Jedi Librarian – Why Star Wars library services are way behind the times – Libreaction
Public Library Closures Map gets 14 000 hits today, 14 000 yesterday – see link on right.
Training budgets are so 2010, darling! – SintoBlog
(USA) Can a book save your life? From a bullet? – Youtube

West Dunbartonshire to close 3; Radio 4 PM coverage

372 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)
– plus 3 since yesterday – informed that West Dunbarton are closing 3 (out of 10)

There was a segment on Radio 4 PM and a letter in the Times today about saving public libraries. Closer to home, the comedian Mark Thomas tweeted about the library cuts map (link on right) today which resulted in 14,000 people looking at it this afternoon and evening. Also today, news coming out of Gloucestershire is that they are going to more than double the 5000 names they aimed for in their petition. When people learn a library is in threat, they will try to protect it. The problem for library campaigners is in getting that message out there.

Cambridgeshire – closing libraries the least popular option of all unpopular options – Cambridge News
Isle of Wight – campaigning group – Save the Libraries on the Isle of Wight
Oxfordshire – letters pages raging over library closures, volunteers may work in affluent areas – Guardian
Somerset – consultation on Wednesday – Yeovil Express
Somerset – BBC Somerset Radio interview with Save Somerset Libraries – BBC (at 55 minutes)
Somerset – Steve Barlow speaks about “bloodbath” library closures – BBC Radio 4 PM (at 28:36)
Swansea – “it’s going to be a tough year” for some libraries – This is South Wales
West Dunbartonshire – 3 libraries under threat of closure – West Dunbartonshire Council.

Councils are ignoring the legal protection of libraries, Ed Vaizey is being very coy – Times (letters, behind paywall)
Campaign for the Book January Newsletter – Alan Gibbons
How to do a Read-In – Walk You Home
(USA) Libraries, a priceless resource – NorthWest Journal
(USA) Libraries are screwed – Ebooks have changed everything – Go To Hellman
(USA) Maximise your job seeking mojo at the library – At Your Library

A Devil Of A Dilemma

369 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)

There is a devil of a dilemma for those who wish to save libraries after withdrawal has been cut – whether to “help out” or not.  Many authorities (such as Gloucestershire) are saying that the local library will only survive if a community group takes it over, with minimal council support. Those who love libraries may quite rightly be tempted to do so.  However, if they do before all other options are taken, then it will only encourage yet more branches to be effectively privatised in this ways.  Libraries will become just another charity shop. However, the council may well close the library anyway if groups don’t step up to the mark. The unwillingness of charities to take over wildlife preserves without full remuneration may be an argument in favour of not helping.  Call their bluff and, perhaps, the council will back down.  Or perhaps they won’t.  It’s a terrible problem and one which campaigners up and down the country are facing.  Right now.

Birmingham – libraries are the single most important resource for the disadvantaged – Birmingham Mail
Dorset – use of 250 volunteers attacked – Bournemouth Echo
Gloucestershire – 10000 views of website since August – Friends of Gloucestershire Library
Gloucestershire – UK Uncut protest in Stroud includes libraries – UK Uncut
Kent – UNISON attacks 83 FTE posts being removed, replaced by self-service – Your Canterbury

Booktust – Letter saying authors cannot protect scheme due to self-interest gets savaged in comments – Guardian
National Read In – Facebook Event
“Remember the good times? Didn’t there used to be a library there?” – Guardian
Wildlife Preserves – if community groups don’t do it for free, Government may back down – a lesson for libraries? – Independent

(USA) Libraries mission has changed – Charleston City Paper

Happy New Year?

369 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)
– Blackburn with Darwen – reduced opening hours (hours not part of headline count)
– Sandwell – some libraries may be closed (not added to count as numbers unclear)

37 separate articles in the press, local and national, since the last post.  The plus side to this is that libraries have probably never received this much attention.  The down side – well, the down side is fairly obvious. Still, today, New Year’s Day, let us focus on the bright side.  There’s a lot of love out there for libraries.  Here’s to the harnessing of it in 2011.

Blackburn with Darwen – libraries to have reduced opening hours – Lancashire Telegraph
Buckinghamshire – Govt spending cut in line with council plans so more volunteer libraries – Bucks Advertiser
Buckinghamshire – Winslow library – second meeting announced – Buckingham Today
Bury – Saddened by loss of Unsworth – Bury Times
Croydon – libraries moved to different department – This is Croydon Today
Dorset – Charmouth faces closure – View Online
Gloucestershire – 4000 sign petition, and rising – This is Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire – instead of a library, have some books in a doctor’s waiting room – Stroud News & Journal
Gloucestershire – sign up to campaign or lose libraries forever – This is Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire – petition to save Hester’s Way – This is Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire – (long) list of media coverage so far – Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries
Herefordshire – misjudging the volunteer role – Kidderminster Shuttle
Isle of Wight – Closures plan in detail – Ventnor Blog
Isle of Wight – Save the libraires by paying fee? – Isle of Wight County Press
Lancashire – fines amnesty for returned books – Burnley Citizen
Middlesbrough – young people like libraries, will be consulted on cuts – Gazette Live
North Yorkshire – fight to save Ryedale libraries – Gazette & Herald
North Yorkshire – Friends of Easingwold Library
Nottingham – concerned over future of Booktrust – My Nottingham
Nottinghamshire – opening hours cuts affect least affluent areas the worst – Eastwood Advertiser
Oxfordshire – Philip Pullman and Colin Dexter call closures “Shameful” – Oxford Mail
Sandwell – some libraries may be closed –  Halesowen News
Sheffield – Central Library plans in spotlight – Sheffield Telegraph
Somerset – 5000 petition being collected – This is Somerset
Somerset – Glastonbury closure unfair – This is Somerset
Somerset – Ilminster closure being fought – View Online
Somerset – MP Tessa Munt waiting for answers about libraries – This is Somerset
Somerset – have say on libraries closures – This is Somerset
Somerset – Stand up for Shepton group warns about vital library meeting – StandUp4Shepton
Stoke on Trent – “Talking Tots” owner wants libraries to be saved – This is Staffordshire

Democracy’s failures – resources in common like libraries are being forced into the free market – Guardian
Ed Vaizey – no hidden agenda, volunteers are for expanding hours – Witney Gazette
Letter attacking North Yorkshire closures – Times (behind paywall) 1st Jan – link to most are here
Libraries important in areas of social deprivation – Voices for the Library
Our society is not big enough for Cameron – Independent
Several letters in support of libraries – Times (behind paywall) 31st Dec
TUC – it’s going to be a horrible year with cuts in “high profile services such as libraries will cause widespread anger” – Politics

(USA) Library Renewal – a new group fighting for libraries in the online age

A Return to Private Libraries?

369 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)
– North Ayrshire is added to the list as “some” are reported almost certainly to close.  See article and council document linked below.  As no number is given, the headline total number of UK libraries under threat is unchanged.

The Telegraph has noticed public libraries over the last couple of days – and it does not especially like them.  See yesterday’s article against the decision to publicly fund BookStart or today’s one which starts off against the British Library and ends up seeming to suggest that all libraries would be better if privately run.  The example used is the £500 per year members-only London Library.

Buckinghamshire – 11 to be staffed by volunteers or closed – Bucks Free Press
Devon – Book stock being auctioned off – This is Exeter
Darlington – consultation over the future of libraries – BBC
Flintshire – overspend means money cut for schools and libraries – Flintshire Chronicle
Gloucestershire – Joanne Trollope pledges support, also children’s laureate Anthony Browne – Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard
North Ayrshire – Some “almost certain” to close – Largs and Millport Weekly News
North Ayrshire – Review of libraries – North Ayrshire Council
North Yorkshire – local councillors fight closures – Gazette & Herald
Redbridge – council workers suggest selling off libraries (and the mayor’s jaguar) – Local Guardian
Sefton – Two mums form coalition against cuts, library closures the “most worrying” – Formby Times
Wigan – consultation (only 2 out of 17 libraries start off as safe) – Wigan Council

Councils “looking to volunteers” to staff libraries – over 50 local newspapers, apparently all stemming from the same GMB press release.
Government runs libraries badly – Daily Telegraph

There are more UK libraries closing than there are days in the year

369 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)
Changes to the running total are –
Plus 3 – Bexley – “People are still waiting to hear details of other cuts such as the identity of the three libraries whose futures may be under threat”
Plus 1 – Renfrewshire – Lochwinnoch library is to be closed then merged with community centre.

As the numbers of libraries under threat grow, so too do the number of campaigns.  The Telegraph today complains about the effectiveness of the campaign to save BookStart. A new video here and a new website there are signs that the Big Society does work and it is mobilising itself in order to stop closures.  These campaigns are not political and they are not organised by external agitators.  They are spontaneous responses by local people to the removal of a resource that they value and that helps make society, big or not, function.

Bexley – three libraries threatened – News Shopper
Cambridgeshire – Over 5600 complete libraries consultation (28% volunteer to help)Cambs Council
Darlington – users surveyed on future of libraries – BBC
Durham – libraries “most at risk” – Teesdale Mercury
Gloucestershire – Petition date drawing near a close – FoGL
Gloucestershire – author Alice Jolly lends support – FoGL
Hampshire – MP welcomes Localism Bill as volunteers could save libraries etc – This is Hampshire
Isle of Wight – Save the Libraries on the Isle of Wight – Save The Libraries
Leeds – closing up to 20 libraries will produce eight benefits for city – Leeds Council
Middlesbrough – choose the budget as libraries etc face uncertain future – Gazette Live
North Yorkshire – councillor campaigns for Barlby Library – Selby Times
Renfrewshire – Alasdair Gray and others campaign to stop merging Lochwinnoch library with community centre – Youtube
Somerset – Keeping Somerset’s libraries open – To Know We Are Not Alone
Somerset – Consultation “Any communities that do not take that option would see their library close” – Somerset Council

BookStart – the chattering classes get their way, reprieve is “sign of weakness” – Telegraph
3 million children have no internet access at home – Guardian

The British Library embodies our civilization

365 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)

Birmingham – new central library is “less about books” – Times (behind paywall)
Oxfordshire – Meeting to save Grove Road Library – Henley Standard
Oxfordshire – Grove Road Christmas cheer – Henley Standard

BookTrust – children’s free books are saved – Express and Press Association
A solitary piece against BookTrust funding from the Express
British Library embodies our civilization – yet the library service is facing vandalism – Guardian
Cuts that smack more of desperation than strategy – Independent
National Read-In Public Event – Facebook

BookTrust Funding Restored

365 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)

For those who do not think that campaigning works, have a look at what has happened over BookTrust funding over the last few days.  All funding is announced as closed – there is a national uproar – then funding is restored.  Wonderful news and a late Christmas present for all who care for literacy.

CILIP produced a little Christmas present of their own with the removal of password protection on their campaigning materials.  In other news, reading articles like Thurrock’s below, it is clear that some councils are not announcing cuts until their council committee meetings in February. Not sure how this is going is going to tie in with consultation of the public.

Doncaster – 13 out of 25 branches still in danger – South Yorkshire Times
Gloucestershire – 20 community groups express interest in running libraries – Cotswold Journal (including one group that wants to purchase the land for grazing)
Hampshire – library hours expand – Hampshire Chronicle
Leicestershire – children’s centre joins Anstey Library – In Loughborough
Moray – closure threats lifted – Northern Scot (money saved by moving service to a Trust)
North Yorkshire – fury over closures – Craven Herald & Pioneer
North Yorkshire – Petition for Barlby – Selby Times
Somerset – Interview with Save Somerset Libraries – Radio Somerset (at 1.30)
Somerset – Wells Library set to expand as others close – Wells People
Thurrock – RNIB subscription ends – Thurrock Gazette
Wiltshire – new library built – Gazette and Herald
Wolverhampton – 2 libraries offer Wifi – Wolverhampton Council

A deception of Madoff proportions – Shirley Burnham
BookTrust – u-turn statement in more detail – London Evening Standard
BookTrust – Philip Pulman welcomes rescued funding – BBC
Booktrust – Miliband says funding restored? – BBC
BookStart – authors attack decision – BBC
BookStart – Miliband condemns funding end – Independent
BookStart – This government has set its face against reading – Guardian (the comments below the article show a wide variety of opinions – the most sadly ironic being that there is no need for BookStart as we have so many libraries) and Observer and Guardian again
CILIP – library campaigning materials – CILIP (now free to use and open to all) and here too
(USA) Usage up, uses up – Charleston City Paper

CIPFA announces figures; Help BookStart; Somerset campaign

365 libraries plus 27 mobiles currently under threat or recently closed (List below “News”)
Change to previous figure because
– plus 2 and 1 mobile- Hammersmith & Fulham – withdrawal of funding for 2 libraries (inc. 1 offered to community group) and 1 mobile library.

CIPFA figures have been released showing slight decline in library usage over 2009 to 2010 but with some increases – and 41 “service points” closed.  We could be looking at ten times that this year. Or twenty times. The decision to end BookStart is causing dismay (email bookgifting@booktrust.org.uk with a statement of support). Save Somerset Libraries gains major local publicity and a councillor gets served with a 1200 name petition to save a library in Milton Keynes, by Santa.

Doncaster – Save Doncaster Libraries details – False Economy
Flintshire – campaign to save libraries gathers support – North Wales Weekly
Flintshire – libraries will close but £20m safeguarded for new council HQ “scandalous” – Flintshire Chronicle
Gloucestershire – hospital League of Friends looking at replacing a closed library – Gazette
Hammersmith and Fulham – 1 will be offered to the community, another will be closed – Fulham Chronicle
Haringey – cuts a “Shambolic disgrace”, staff at libraries to go – Haringey Independent
Inverclyde – plan to scrap new showpiece leisure centre/library – Inverclyde Now
North Yorkshire – 20 libraries (out of 53) about to close –  Yorkshire Post
North Yorkshire – save Helmsley library (“of the year”) campaign – Gazette & Herald
Lewisham – eco-entrepreneur bid to take over 4 closing libraries – London Evening Standard
Milton Keynes – 1200 name petition presented to leader – Milton Keynes Citizen
Oxfordshire – new £100k post receives criticism as libraries close – BBC
Somerset – authors join fight to as cuts set to cripple libraries – This is Somerset
Somerset – campaign wiki – Save Somerset Libraries
Somerset – scandalous plan to butcher libraries – This is Somerset and Glastonbury People
Somerset – Facebook event for Glastonbury library consultation roadshow – Facebook
Wandsworth – Save York Gardens Library – Kambala
Wandsworth – Questionnaire and Public Consultation Meetings

BookStart – Ed Milliband speaks against end of funding – Press Association and Guardian and Daily Mail
BookStart – all 4 year olds now know how to open a book – False Economy
BookTrust – How you can support us – Booktrust
CIPFA – provisional library data for 2011/12 book issues static, child fiction up (most other figures down slightly), 41 branches closed– CIPFA