Crisis? What Crisis? Libraries Minister Sees No Crisis

408 libraries (318 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

Can you help…?

News

Next Saturday February 4 at 12:00, in line with the international day of advocacy and support for libraries inspired by Britain’s National Libraries Day, the Campaign Against Charging for Libraries invites all people who love libraries to show it by embracing the central library of our system: the National Library. Of course, we also invite you to embrace any library in any town outside Madrid on the same date, same time.”

  • Ayub Khan: Where next for libraries? - Book Trust.  Libraries are important as – online usage rocketing, vital for children, social glue.  Keep libraries open by sharing resources and costs and buildings and also concentrate on online material….. “let’s big them up!”. 
  • Campaign for the book: Meeting the Minister - Alan Gibbons.  Description of meeting with Ed Vaizey, including summaries of what was said by participants including Julia Donaldson, Alan Gibbons, John Holland (Glos – FoGL), Gary Green (Voices).  “There was clear disagreement over many issues, but it was a blunt, purposeful exchange of views. The campaign to save the public library service will continue.”
  • Day we took 60 books out of the library – Books & the City.  “No – we  didn’t end up reading them all. But we read ones we might not have even brought home otherwise. And no, we didn’t end up with huge fines as 60 books went overdue! Because it got us back into the habit. After a week, we took back the ones we were less keen on (and borrowed an equivalent number). And after another week, the same. And we’re still using our local library so much more – and so differently – due to that one day’s activity.”
from About this BlogOverdue Books.

  • Help RNIB protect the Talking Book Service for blind and partially sighted people - Voices for the Library.   Looks the impact the service makes and how it is to be withdrawn from Brighton and Hove.
  • Library campaigners meeting with Ed Vaizey - Voices for the Library.   Meeting between Mr Vaizey and Julia Donaldson, Alan Gibbons, Gary Green (Voices) and John Holland (Gloucestershire campaigner).   “At the end of the meeting I don’t believe we persuaded Ed Vaizey to change his stance overnight on public libraries. But then again, I don’t think any of us believed that he would. However, it did give us the opportunity to raise the issues face-to-face with him that were our main concerns and we hope this was another of those tiny steps we keep taking that brings us a step closer to saving libraries.”
@Ed_Miliband Ed Miliband Just had best meeting of the week: with Julia Donaldson of Gruffalo fame. Talked about protecting libraries.https://twitter.com/#!/Ed_Miliband/status/165116643163381760/photo/1

  • Library fit for the future - Channel Four News.   “Gone are the days when they were just for borrowing books or reading. These days, libraries have to provide CDs and DVDs, computer terminals with internet access, and communal spaces for all types of social groups – from storytelling clubs for parents and toddlers to book clubs for the elderly. Arguably, they’re more important now than ever before.”.  Looks at the new Birmingham Central Library, to be opened in 2013.  Five minute video including brief interview with John Dolan (CILIP) is here.
“So I don’t think libraries will have any problem adapting to whatever might come their way in the future. Having said that, there’s no doubt that this is a crucial turning point for libraries not just in Birmingham but across the UK. And with their future hanging in the balance, this could be the most important National Libraries Day ever.”

  • Put your library on the map this weekend -  Collections Trust.  “Using the cross-platform ‘Find a Library’ app (http://www.findalibrary.org.uk), people go to their local library with their mobile, click ‘Use my Location’, select their library and then ‘Put Library on the Map’. This will ensure that their library is included in the national database of public libraries, which is freely available to all Internet users and includes information provided by the BBC and the national UK Online initiative.”.  Even Ed Vaizey is doing it.
  • Stephen Fry features in the Library Book for charity - Look to the Stars.   “Miranda McKearney, Director of the Reading Agency says, “What a brilliant way to celebrate National Library Day! The publication of The Library Book proves in the words of our country’s great writers that local libraries have a transformative role which resonates into adulthood. At the Reading Agency we feel seriously privileged to be benefiting from Profile’s publication and the support of the contributing authors.”  See also Stephen Fry backs Library Day in Norfolk - Norwich Evening News.

Changes

Arbroath - Two replacement mobile libraries costing £269k, following consultation (partnership with Police and Fire services) showing need for service.
Brighton and Hove - To remove RNIB talking books (cut of £22k).
East Sussex - New Seaford Library will be built (inc. day care centre and flats for people with learning difficulties), old library closed with temporary one for next year or so.
Sefton - Mobile library to close, £100k bookfund cut, local history service to close

Local News

“The discussion came as the education and children’s services committee met to discuss a report on the library service’s performance in the last financial year. The report showed the council had met 10 of 14 standards required by the Welsh Government. Other councils achieved between six and 14 standards, with the average being nine. Carmarthenshire took 12 years to replace books, against a target of 7.6 years, but the committee heard the county had a wider range of material than many other authorities.”

@publiclibnews #WI are hugging Towcester library on Sat 11am #NLD2012”  Save Stony Library @SaveSSlibrary

Special Report: A glance into the mind of Mr Vaizey

The following are the observations of Gary Green, colleague of mine in the Voices for the Library team, from a meeting held with the minister with responsisibity for libraries yesterday.  The writing in italics is mine.

  • He doesn’t agree that library services are being decimated. They are, see this list.
  • He has challenged library closures in the past, but has also supported closures of some libraries. He has challenged no library closures, in any way, while in office, although he did when he was in opposition.  He is certainly supporting closures now.
  • He felt it was up to the local authority to run library services, not his department. It is true enough that his department should not “run” libraries.  However, the DCMS has ultimate responsibility (their website says “We are responsible for national library policy”) and it is this responsibility that he is completely ignoring by malign neglect.
  • The Government have no intention of removing statutory duties. They don’t need to remove them as they are simply completely ignoring them. This has the same effect without the bother of actually doing anything.
  • Community/volunteer run libraries have a place in the provision of local library services.  This is, at least, an honest acknowledgement of government ideology, although it at best only offers short-term hope for threatened libraries, which will work only in the most prosperous areas, and relies on blackmailing library supporters into working for free.
  • He acknowledged that some volunteer run libraries would be outside of a local authorities’ statutory service.  Actually, all of them should be outside of the Act if he has regard for the 1964 Act which describes a public library as any premises which are occupied by a library authority and are premises where library facilities are made available by the authority“.  However, being Mr Vaizey will not intervene in any case, this is a moot point.
  • Local authorities could provide “cut-price libraries” – every library in a local authority shouldn’t be all singing, all dancing.  It is an inevitable result of this government’s policy of neglect that there will cut-price libraries.  Indeed, it is questionable whether by 2015 there will be any other kind.
  • The comprehensive and efficient aspects of a local authorities duties should be focused on the way they were interpreted in the 1964 Public Libraries & Museums Act. “Comprehensive” equates to stock; “Efficient” equates to reduction of 400+ local library authorities. The 1964 Act did not focus on buildings.  This was not the intention of the creator of the Act or anyone at the time that can be traced.  Besides, it’s all pointless as there are no standards as to what represents an acceptable stock.  In addition, encouraging volunteer-run libraries will effectively massively multiply the number of local library authorities as each one will be independent of the other.
  • He felt that the situations that led to Judicial Review’s in Brent, Gloucestershire, Somerset & Surrey recently were not linked directly to the need for intervention by The Secretary of State in a local situation and, using his skills as a barrister, he argued a fine line in how these two situations do not overlap. Only a barrister could argue that these cases were not linked and the judges in these appeals have in fact said that the ultimate responsibilty lies with the Secretary of State. Mr Vaizey allowed local people to pay their own money and give their own time in order to do something he should have done.  However, when one considers that volunteer libraries practically means precisely this as well, it is no surprise. 
  • There was no plan to re-introduce library standards. However, this didn’t necessarily mean that they were out of the question.  Mr Vaizey will contnue to nothing to support libraries, at all times and in all ways.

Volunteer lifeboatmen being used to sack Trafford library staff – Official

Comment

Trafford Council have pushed the frontiers for the Big Society still further today by u-turning on their promise not to replace paid library staff at two libraries with volunteers.  This is not especially noteworthy in itself – a lot of councils are doing similar and blaming the dire needs of the moment – but the thing that really sticks in the mind with this one is that Trafford are (a) breaking their official policy that states that replacing paid staff with volunteers is “.. an exploitation of the volunteer and a deprival of someone’s livelihood.” and (b) using the example of volunteer lifeboatmen as an argument for why it is OK to do so.  Even leaving aside the point that that particular service was never actually a council/government service in the first place and so they’re not comparable in any way, one has to worry about this.  When the act of giving up one’s spare time in order to save people’s lives can become a party political act, something new and dangerous has entered the picture.
407 libraries (318 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

Can you help…?

News

  • Better read than dead: Dan Jarvis MP on the battle to save our libraries - Guardian.   Shadow Libraries Minister writes great article … “It may not be Vaizey’s job to micro-manage every library in the country – but it is his job to be their champion. And that is what he is failing to do.” … “by law it is he – not hard-pressed, ad-hoc campaigns that tend to be in the more affluent parts of the country – who has ultimate responsibility for libraries.” … “The current wave of closures should be a call to arms – not because libraries should be exempt from bearing their share of budget cuts (as long as it is a fair share), but because what is happening ignores their enormous value. If this government really believes in the promise of libraries, they must act now.”
  • Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Annoucement - Alan Gibbons.  Select Committee on Library Closures announces dates and who is being interviewed.

Hardeep Singh Kohli at the launch of the Library Book at Pimlico Library, “An all-star lineup of top writers in support of the Reading Agency’s library programmes. Includes original pieces by Julian Barnes, Stephen Fry, Tom Holland, Kate Mosse. Published for National Libraries Day on 4 February”Photo by Fen Oswin
  • Library inquiry to hear oral evidence - BookSeller.  “The Culture, Media and Sport select committee inquiry into library closures will begin hearing oral evidence next week. The evidence session is expected to commence on Tuesday 7th February and will be open to the public. Librarian campaign group Voices for the Library and Paul Lorber, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Brent, are among those who have been asked to give oral evidence. Written evidence has already been submitted by the Publishers Association, the Booksellers Association and the Society of Authors.”
  • Vecinos Bibliotecarios - Biblogtecarios (Spain).  The Mayor of Madrid has suggested that some of the staffing of two new libraries be volunteer, arguing that it is common practice in the USA.  Some research shows that it is not common practice there, although of course the idea is catching on in the UK due to the current crisis/political philosophy.  [Article is in Spanish but copying and pasting into Google Translate produces a readable account in English - Ed.].

Local News

  • Brent – Library cuts campaigners hold packed public meeting – Harrow Observer.  100-plus meeting told that it is likely to be next week when the Supreme Court decides whether than can appeal the council’s decision to close halve their libraries.
    • Tracy Beaker TV writer to help mark National Libraries Day – BNC TV.  “Local author and TV script writer Elly Brewer will take part in National Libraries Day at Barham Lounge on Saturday 4th February. Elly is lead writer on the popular Children’s BBC TV series, Tracy Beaker Returns, and author of comic science-fiction adventure Jerry and the Jannans. She will join other residents and library supporters at Barham Lounge around 11:30am on Saturday 4th February to support National Library Day and take part in book readings for young people and activities.”
  • Camden – New chapter begins as two Hampstead libraries saved - Ham & High.  “The Keats Community Library group is poised to take over Heath Library, while youth organisation The Winchester Project will take up the reigns at Belsize Library, when Camden Council pulls out in April. But despite receiving donation pledges from author Alan Bennett and journalist Joan Bakewell, Primrose Hill residents are waiting to hear if their bid for £50,000 transitional funding to keep Chalk Farm Library running will be successful.”
    • First community run and managed libraries given the go-ahead - Camden Council.  £50k each given to Keats and Winch groups, “What is particularly innovative about this new arrangement is that these community facilities will be fully independent and self governed but supported with substantial initial funding from the Council to get them off the ground. There will also be some ongoing support and advice from Camden Council and they will be able them to gain benefits like buying cheaper and loaning books whilst bearing no ongoing cost to the local taxpayer.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Thousands have their say on libraries - About My Area.   2200 answered consultation.  “”We want to make it clear that the council will not be closing any libraries. The Future of Libraries aimed to help improve the services which our local libraries offer, modernising them, making them even more accessible to the local community and encouraging more people to regularly use them.”
  • Croydon – National Libraries Day looms - Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.  Lots happening in the UK but nothing in Croydon, with one event organised by supporters cancelled due to rules imposed on them.  Report lists some other events in the UK and suggests ways that libraries can be supported even if the council itself appears to be not keen.
    • Council plans to close New Addington - East London Times.  “Local residents are upset with the council’s plan as the CALAT premises proposed for the library’s relocation are to be shared with the adult education and job centre.” … “A number of Croydon community groups are planning to stage a protest against the council’s decision to close New Addington Library on February 4, which is National Library Day.”
“My grandchildren will never see such a wonderful learning place once the library is shifted to CALAT, which is a fifty minute commute from my home.”

  • Edinburgh – New £5.7m Drumbrae Library Hub welcomes hundreds on its opening day - STV.  “There has been a huge community backing for it and local councillors in the area have thrown their weight behind it. When I walked in this morning I felt like being at a party – there was a band playing, kids running around and a library packed with people. You could feel a real community vibe and a sense of accomplishment.”
  • Kent – Shhh, don’t mention National Libraries Day.  And Gove stumbles over FOI – Kent Online.   Ironically, the low key approach adopted by KCC has only served to draw attention to its lack of activity – which was surely not intended.”
  • Lancashire – £5.5m regeneration aim to lure more readers into Lancashire’s libraries - Citizen.  “A successful pilot in West Lancashire last year saw a 35 per cent increase in new members. The campaign comes as the council is midway through a £5.5 million regeneration programme to refurbish its 74-strong network of library branches.”.  Comments from public below article show the need to promote library is more pressing than ever.  One comment suggests major staffing cuts but this is unconfirmed.
  • Surrey – High Court injunction halts Surrey County Council volunteer plan - This is Surrey Today. “Surrey County Council has 14 days to serve its evidence, and the court will then take up to seven days to decide whether or not to hold the review, said Mr Alsop. The review, if successful, could overturn the county council’s plan to have libraries run by volunteers. Mr Alsop appealed to the council to agree to a proposed compromise, in which each library would retain one paid member of staff and its computer links with the county’s central system.”  
“Hearing to decide matter whether the injunction should be overturned is tomorrow [Thursday].” Surrey campaigners tweet.

  • Trafford – Breaking vow on volunteers is justified, says Trafford town hall chief - Manchester Evening News. “A town hall has defended its decision to break a formal promise not to replace staff with volunteers. Trafford council plans to use only unpaid members of the public in two of its libraries instead of paid workers. It says otherwise libraries will have to shut.”.  Voluntary sector leaders disagree and it breaks a code of practice signed between Council and voluntary groups.  
“… an exploitation of the volunteer and a deprival of someone’s livelihood.” Trafford Counci’s own policy explaining why it should not replace paid staff with volunteers.

A town hall has defended its decision to break a formal promise not to replace staff with volunteers. Trafford council plans to use only unpaid members of the public in two of its libraries instead of paid workers. It says otherwise libraries will have to shut.

Read more at: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1472625_breaking-vow-on-volunteers-is-justified-says-trafford-town-hall-chief

Jollies

Comment

“I’m sorry to see SCL and its members being castigated for demonstrating a very professional approach. They absolutely should be engaged with the government on the subject of cuts; councillors impose cuts and SCL work to minimise their impact. On the subject of libraries’ day, it’s surely an opportunity for the public, the press, the arts community et al to celebrate what libraries do, day-in, day-out. With budgets cut to the bone and jobs, stock and opening hours under threat, who could justify spending money on bunting, face painting and other jollies.” Anonymous comment on this website.
“Other jollies” – The BookStart Bear Club being launched at Rock Ferry Library, Wirral. 
First off, fair point from Anonymous about many Society of Chief Libarians (SCL) members.  In a press release defending itself today, the SCL pointed out that there are activities in many areas but these events had not been added to the National Librares Day database – although why not is not clear (as a comment on the BookSeller article says “it is free publicity to upload the events onto the National Libraries Day website so why would any cash conscious council not do that?”). It is also, of course, a fair point that Chief Librarians work to minimise the impact of the cuts.  However, it is perhaps questionable if doing this quietly is really the best approach in all circumstances.  It is especially questionable when it is confirmed in the same BookSeller article that in Kent, where the SCL secretary Cath Anley runs the service, staff have been ordered not to put on events for National Libraries Day.  Major cuts are planned for Kent and it was apparently felt that staff were doing enough.  The opportunity also, in what could be seen as a perversion of the whole National Libraries Day message, seems to be being used as an opportunity to encourage unpaid labour:
“You can of course tell them [the public] about the planned activities already scheduled [in other times of the year] to take place in your library and invite them to become a library volunteer if they wish to play an active role in the year ahead”
Let me make my viewpoint clear.  Now is exactly the time to promote the service in any way libraries can.  The SCL needs to shout it loud and proud that libraries are alive and well and positively affecting lives locally and nationally.  Libraries should get school groups in, get authors in, arrange whatever they can.  Anonymous is of course right in his or her assertion that money should not be wasted.  Things that are nice for staff but attract few people are not a good idea.  Time to make every event count. But, but, but … not doing anything is the Pontius Pilate approach.  His reputation is not the best and his time in office is not fondly remembered. Public libraries cannot rest on their laurels.  The last year has proved that beyond doubt.  The public needs to be got on side and that will mean politicians will get on side.  Any promotional opportunity that comes along should be grabbed and embraced, especially if it is something like a national day that will multiply publicity.

 Somerset: Watchet Library Friends are doing more on the day than all of Kent.

Ask anyone if it is a good thing for a company if it decides it can’t afford to advertise any more or if it fails to maximise on free promotional opportunities.  Such organisations tend not to last for long. Looking dour, keeping one’s head down and working behind the scenes in a “professional” manner is one answer.  But it is an answer that drawn to its logical conclusion means the end, ironically enough, of the profession.
407 libraries (318 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

Can you help…?

News
Berlucchi said 92% of the 1.3m e-readers estimated to have been sold in the UK over Christmas were Kindles. He said the use of DRM helped Amazon consolidate its position. “Amazon uses DRM to lock people in. You can’t take the files out. The problem is that if you go down the Amazon road, you can’t drop out. If you drop out of Kindle, you lose all your books. They [Amazon] are using DRM to build their silos, like Apple did in the beginning with the iPod, which is how they [Apple] dominated the music market,” he said.” Anobii chief says drop DRM to fight Amazon - BookSeller. 

I recognise that libraries must modernise and I have been impressed with the range of services being offered by different libraries that I have visited in the early stage of my national library tour. It is imperative that we keep the pressure on the government to act faster and smarter to save these vital pillars of our communities.” Dan Jarvis MP, shadow minister for libraries in  As National Libraries Day nears, our libraries remain under threat - Left Foot Forward.  
  • Kent “ignores” National Libraries Da – BookSeller.  SCL defends itself against blogposts/twitter and points out that there are events going on in many of its libraries.  In Kent, however, staff have been ordered not to put events on for the day. 
  • Our evidence to the Culture, Media and Support Committee – Voices for the Library.    Summary of the major points to the Select Committee on Library Closures and a link to the full text.
  • Save Our Libraries campaign: one year on - Guardian.   “If you are campaigning to save your library and especially if you told us about it last year, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us, one year, on how your campaign is going.”
Changes
Local News
 Brent: Community turns out in force to save Preston LibraryPreston Library Campaign. “Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North spoke out against his own party.”
“Consett has consistently bucked the trend and issues have increased year on year for the last four or five. Consett Library is an essential link between the local communities and Durham County Council. It is a vibrant, busy facility but it looks as if success counts for nothing if Consett hours are cut to save failing libraries. “I have been inundated with calls from library users complaining about the proposed cuts.”

  • Edinburgh – Police and council staff take up roles within library hub – Edinburgh Evening News.  “The country’s newest public library opens in the Capital today, after two decades of campaigning by local residents. Drumbrae Library Hub will also have staff from other council services working at its front desk, so that people can pay their rent or report antisocial behaviour at the same time as borrowing a book. The £5.7 million development includes offices for local police officers, housing advisors and environmental services, along with a day-care centre for the elderly.”
  • Gloucestershire – GCC’s new consultation survey: “baffling”, “manipulative” and “full of assumptions and loaded questions” – FoGL.  Campaign group argues that the new consultation repeats many of the mistakes and errors of the old one that was ruled illegal in court.  People of doctoral level are finding the survey confusing and loaded: “each of the pre-written answers to Question 7 will generate data which can be used to justify the current proposals”.  
I suspect that our friends as Public Interest Lawyers will chuckle merrily to themselves when they see this blatant piece of manipulation and think about its role in the forthcoming case against the second attempt by Gloucestershire County Council to pull the wool over the public’s eyes. I wonder what Private Eye will make of this perfect set up for some caustic comedy sketches.”
  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers to take over Dales library in unprecedented move - Yorkshire Post.  “Coun Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for library services, said the Masham Volunteer Trust will officially take over the running of Masham’s library as part of its proposals to transfer the running of many of its 42 libraries to volunteers in a bid to counter £69m in Government cuts. The library is one of eight having funding pulled from it, with 14 more having their budgets slashed by 30 per cent”
  • Portsmouth – Creative authors bring National Libraries Day to life - Hayling Today.   “Pauline Rowson, author of the popular Marine Mystery crime series featuring DI Horton which are set in the Portsmouth and Solent areas, promises to entertain visitors at Portsmouth Central Library on Saturday, February 4. She will start the event with a talk about her novels and crime writing, and there will be the opportunity to win signed copies of her crime novels with a murder mystery quiz hunt for clues around the library.” 
  • Salford – How one council is trying to sustain its library services in hard times - Alan Gibbons.  “One example of this approach is the new library in Salford Sports Village. This library moved from the Albion High School and now that it is based in the Sports Village has seen a dramatic increase in usage. In addition the percentage of local people who are active library members is now 19.7% (Lower Kersal). This figure of 1 in 5 local people being active users demonstrates how a public library is of value to people in the inner city.”
  • Suffolk – New manager for Suffolk’s libraries - Haverhill Echo.  “Alison Wheeler, who has worked in the libraries industry for close to 33 years, will become IPS’ general manager at the beginning of February 2012.”
“Halesworth Town Council believes that our library is so important a part of the town’s social fabric and educational infrastructure, that it should meet this cost through a small equitable charge on the local rate.”

£81 billion each year

Comment

There’s an art to getting the best possible spin on a piece of bad news.  In this, hats off to Warwickshire Council who have so successfully spun the closure of Budworth Heath Library that the news article on it is about a new “Honesty Library” opening.  This is the latest wheeze which not only gets rid of staff but also, seemingly, gets rid of the need for volunteers as well.  1500 books have been placed within the community centre with no security and no way of checking them in or out.  People just take what they want and return what they want.  Fantastically, for the local councillor concerned, the newspaper reports only the positive sides of this, dwelling on the handy car parking.  Closing a library and dumping 1500 books into a local community centre?  It’s all upside, no downside.  Think positive, people.  Even the Big Society is in danger of looking old hat with this one.

The embarrassment that is the continued attempt by Croydon to blame Lambeth for Croydon’s decision to withdraw funding from Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL – funded equally by both councils) continues it fairly tragic path.  The story is complex but, basically, the library serves an area of Croydon which now has no Conservative councillors, Croydon refused to send non-Conservative ones to a vital meeting, Labour-run Lambeth refused to accept the Conservative ones as they weren’t local, Croydon accused Lambeth of breaking the joint agreement becuase of this … and so a well-loved and efficient library is in danger.  Strong suspicions abound that Croydon are using any excuse to save money: they’re also keen on privatising/outsourcing the libraries that they solely own.  In a familiar turn of events, faced with the alternative of closure, people are start looking towards running it themselves. Despite the best efforts of the supporters of the library (with a 800 name petition being handed in a couple of days ago), this story is starting to look more like a tragedy than anything else.

Correction

Quite a few library services with SCL committee members (see Sunday’s post) have been pointing out that  they are doing events for National Libraries Day.  One, interestingly, has said that “our target audience is local people, not national campaign-followers, but all are welcome”.  While one wonders if the National Libraries Day map is really just for library campaigners,  it’s great news that the day is not being oddly ignored.  So far, I have seen mention of events in  Brighton, Newcastle and the Tri-Borough (the new joint library service for Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster).  We hope for Kent but no news from any events from there.  Of course, no library I am aware of is doing as much as Preston Library (Brent) which is now officially closed but whose campaigners are not letting that stop them.

407 libraries (318 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

Can you help…?

News

  • Adventures of Conan the Librarian - Open Democracy.  “What is a public library for? Costa coffee and “bums on seats”? or the promise of a better world? The managerialised nightmare of a London council’s cost-cutting misunderstandings is glimpsed at through the deep stacks by a not-yet-defeated librarian and idealist”
  • Cost of illiteracy to UK “tops £81bn each year” – London Evening Standard.   “People who cannot read earn lower salaries, create less wealth for the nation and use more government money, says a report published today by the World Literacy Foundation. Six million UK adults are functionally illiterate, meaning they cannot read a medicine bottle or food labels or fill out a job application, it states. The research reveals that an illiterate adult will earn at least 30 per cent less than someone who can read.”
  • Creative people and places fund  opens for applicationsArts Council England.  “The Arts Council has today (30 January 2012) launched a new £37 million fund to ensure more people living in places where levels of involvement are currently low, experience and are inspired by the arts.”  Offer is open to libraries. 
  • MP makes eleventh hour plea to save music library as axe looms - Yorkshire Post.  David Ward MP tries to save the regions’s music library from closure.

“Did you read a lot when you were a kid? “Yeah! I did love the library. I liked a lot of those fantasy books, I liked Lord Of The Rings – anything that involved fantasy. I was really into it. I loved that, as well as Tintin, Asterix – I found those really interesting, for some strange reason. It was a combination of that. I liked the library. I suppose I didn’t have the opportunity to go out and do a lot of activities so the library was my haven. My haven away from home.”.  Their Library: Ghostpoet: Literary influences explored - Clash Music.

“Forget Burns night and St Valentine’s day. All things considered, February 4 is an even more important date in the calendar. There hasn’t been much fanfare, but this Saturday marks National Libraries Day, an occasion when book lovers across the UK remove their reading glasses and celebrate one of the most influential innovations of the modern world” Support your library while you still can - Herald Scotland.   Superb pro-libraries piece to link in with National Libraries Day. 

Changes

Bristol - Mobile library to be lost in April.
Essex - No branches to close but 5 managers lost job in 2011, Colchester reduced hours from 67.5 to 59 hours.
Derbyshire – £975k cut inc. £455k cut to stock, South Normanton Library to have hours increased. 

Local News

  • Brent – National Libraries Day 2012 children’s events programme - Preston Library Campaign.  A packed programme of events including a reading by Kate Umansky and Dyan Sheldon.  Not bad for a library that has now officially closed. 
  • Bristol – Mobile library service is cut behind closed doors - This is Bristol.  Decision to end service was made before consultation.
  • Calderdale – New petition to save the Central Library - Halifax Courier.  “Instead of spending weeks collecting signatures, organisers will devote just two hours to the job outside the library in Northgate on Saturday, which is National Libraries Day. The arguments continue about the future of the Central Library and archive and we are frequently being approached by angry members of the public who want to know what they can do to stop the present facilities being bulldozed,” said Anne Kirker, of the Don’t Bulldoze Our Library campaign.”
  • Croydon – More Croydon spin: Upper Norwood Joint Library - Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.  Suspicions that recent positive article was placed so as to distract attention from emergency meeting.  Gist of article is that Croydon are blaming Lambeth for Croydon’s decision to remove funding.
    • Legal row “an excuse to close library” - London Evening Standard.  “Upper Norwood Library’s future is in doubt after Tory-run Croydon said it would pull out of a deal to fund it jointly with Lambeth, which it accused of breaching a legal agreement. Croydon has agreed to provide funds until the end of April when Lambeth completes a public consultation. However, a spokesman said the joint arrangement was “no longer tenable”.”
  • Derbyshire – Library having its hours extended - This is Derbyshire.   “The authority said South Normanton library – part of the council’s £8 million new community building in the town – had been a “hit with the public”.” … “The move comes as the county council is on Wednesdayset to confirm a cut of £975,000 to its culture and community services department. This will include £455,000 from its “materials budget” for things like books and newspapers.”
  • Devon – Sidmouth Library to shut for £80k revamp - Sidmouth Herald.   “will shut for nearly two weeks next month when self-service technology is installed as part of an £80,000 refurbishment.” … “Michael Brittain, of Bulverton, uses the facility around four times a week and is not a fan of self-service kiosks he’s seen in other places like Seaton. “We weren’t consulted whether we wanted this system,” said Mr Brittain. He questioned the timing of investing cash on the technology at a time, it is hoped, the library and adjoining health centre could be completely redeveloped.”
  • Dudley – Business as usual for Stourbridge Library and town hall, council bosses say -  Halesowen News.  New retail development will change entrance to library.  “Once complete – visitors will be able to gain access to the library, town hall and register and housing office through a new entrance on Market Street.”
  • Essex – “Libraries will stay open” say county council – Standard series.   No branches to close but 5 managers lost job in 2011, Colchester reduced hours from 67.5 to 59 hours. 
  • Glasgow – Librarithon - National Libraries Day.   “A group of librarians is organising a librarithon, or libcrawl, via the Glasgow Subway. If you know the Subway at all you will understand why we’re calling it In the Loop! We are meeting in the Library at GOMA at 10am and will then go on to Hillhead, Ibrox and the Gorbals. Our tour guide is Myra Paterson who works for Glasgow Libraries and will organise activities in each branch. We aim to be finished by 4. Tweeting, blogging etc all encouraged, anything to get across the library message”
  • Gloucestershire – New library consultation: roadshow dates and survey now available - FoGL.   “It it easy to think ‘why bother’ after so many service users’ views were ignored and dismissed last time round, but this is GCC’s chance to get things right, so we would encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation, and spread the word to others too.”
    • Library consultation beginsBBC.  
    • Bookworms gather in Bream - This is Gloucestershire.  “Residents were invited along to offer their opinions on how a community library service would operate as a result of library closures due to Gloucestershire County Council budget cuts…. The event showed that there is definitely the demand and interest in Bream for a library service.”
  • Halton – Special collection of Charles Dickens classics in Haltons libraries - Runcorn and Widnes World.   Great example on how to topically promote a library service: “We have definitely seen a resurgence in Dickens and a number of fabulous new editions of his classic tales are now on the shelves. “A lot of readers watched Great Expectations and realised they ahve never read the book. This is where your local library comes in.””
  • Lambeth – Streatham Library “at risk” following meeting, says councillors - Guardian series.   “A clause stating the library must be kept in its current state was struck out, and replaced with a new clause stating the library must “reflect the needs of local residents and users”.”.  800 name petition handed in about UNJL.
  • Leicestershire – Free day at Leicestershire libraries - Melton Times.  “libraries are holding a special free day on Saturday, February 4, to celebrate National Libraries Day. On the day, hiring DVDs, CDs or talking books will all be free. There will also be an amnesty on overdue library items so they can be returned without the need to pay any charges. There will be no charges for extra sessions on library computers and users will be able to get up to six computer printouts free of charge.”
  • Milton Keynes – Celebrate National Libraries Day at Stony Stratford Library - About My Area.  One year on from the big campaign to save Stony Stratford library, the library is still here and going strong! This Saturday, 4th February, as part of National Libraries Day, Friends of Stony Stratford Library invite you to the library for an event to celebrate. There will be a children’s activity running all morning and at 11am we welcome the author Carole Matthews who supported us through our campaign, we will also be serving refreshments.”
  • Newport – Rogerstone couple found love in the library - South Wales Argus.  “The couple’s romantic tale inspired judges to name them the winners of the Welsh Books Council’s Quick Reads St Dwynwen’s Day competition which wanted to find couples who had been brought together through their love of books.”
“Ms Jarvis, who now works at Newport Reference Library, said: “He would give me obscure railway book requests with half titles or without authors and I would have to dig deep to try and find what he was looking for. But the helpfulness paid off and six months later Mr Harries took her on their first date to Didcot Railway Centre.”

  • Somerset – Legal costs for library services could rise - Mercury series.  Sam Crabb, leader of the Somerset Liberal Democrat group, said: “No one really knows the actual cost of the judicial review yet. The legal costs of the members of the public who took the judicial review are not yet known, but combined with the figures that we do know, the overall figure is going to be well in excess of £600,000. It would be good to see a press release from the conservative administration giving the true figures when they are eventually known.””
  • Warwickshire – Library is based on readers’ honesty - Nuneaton News.    “Bedworth Heath Community Centre is to break new ground as the home of the first `Honesty Library’ in the county. A stock of 1,500 books will be placed on shelves in the community centre in Smorrall Lane, Bedworth, but there will be no library staff on hand to deal with the borrowers.”
    • Village set to take on its library - Evesham Journal.   Bidford Library will be volunteer run from April.  ““We have in excess of 70 people registered as potential volunteers. They will be coming here to look at the facilities and discuss what they want to do and when they are prepared to work. The library opening times will be in line with the volunteers’ opening hour suggestions.”

Kent, the Society of Chief Librarians and National Libraries Day


Comment 

National Libraries Day is starting to make a significant impact in the media stories I am reading.  Many authorities, and campaign groups, are planning something for the day and I know that there is national media interest.  One authority that won’t be so happy about the coverage so far is Kent which, it seems, has ordered its branches not to do something on the day.  The official reason is that there are so many other events going on.  This may well be the case.  However, the more cynical amongst us may wonder if the council is deliberately downplaying the role of libraries due to ongoing plans to make a further £2m cut to its budget on top of £2.3m already made.  I have as yet no thoughts on why the manager of the service, who is a prominent member of the Society of Chief Librarians which is supporting National Libraries Day, has told staff not to be involved in it.  Answers on a postcard please.  Equally bewilderingly, it seems that a very high proportion of other authorities with senior SCL members as their managers are also not doing anything on the day. The events map shows gaping holes in their areas.
This is hopefully an anomaly that will shortly be filled – perhaps they’re all so busy with planning great things to promote libraries that they have forgotten to add dots to the map as yet.  However, if it is a sign that their heart is not really in the game then it is deeply worrying.  Worrying that such prominent library managers do not want to promote their service.  Worrying also because the Society of Chief Librarians is one of the bodies that Ed Vaizey has named this week as giving him advice on library closures.  It makes complete sense that the SCL is doing this of course.  It is just that there is now a nagging doubt in some peoples’ minds about what advice they are actually giving.
Well done on the other hand to CILIP and the Schools Library Association, for standing up for the Hertfordshire Schools Library Service.  The decision by the council to cut the service entirely on the grounds that it is not entirely recovering its costs was always questionable.  If this is the new ground rule for all educational establishments in Hertfordshire then it’s presumably private school or nothing for children there any day now.  First picked up by the excellent We Heart Libraries group, the closure has not been allowed to go quietly, including some BBC coverage.  I notice, however, that the Society of Chief Librarians has not been involved.  Hmmm.

407 libraries (318 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

News

  • Innovating the library wayHarvard Business Review (USA).   The great physical presence of libraries is, far from being to its detriment, a really useful resource and one which the best libraries are taking advantage of.  ” The library looked like dumpy, public architecture but it was in fact a house of many mansions, a place of possibility, a portal. Space travel, time travel, identity travel, you name it, the library could do take you there. But other media can make the same promise.”
  • PLG London: The Canadian Library Association’s failure to advocate for librarians and libraries - Subject/Object (Canada).   A North American experience with some interesting similarities – and differences – with the UK.
  • Publishers and public libraries - Good Library Blog.  E-books are a big issue in the USA, especially how not all publishers are allowing libraries to lend them out.  A big part of the problem is that libraries have not been talking to publishers.  Also, councillors should be involved in the process.
  • Ten library predictions for 2012-14Wordshore.   Worst of public library cuts will happen in 2013, with just 2400 libraries left open, paper will still be the majority “book” medium, Voices for the Library would be the main frontline advocacy group … “libraries staffed by volunteers will have opened in many counties and towns. Many of these will also have closed, as early optimism / naivety of volunteers gives way to the hard realisation of fundraising, staffing, and dealing with innumerable logistical and public problems.”
  • Three boroughs look at sharing library, leisure costs - Ealing Times.   Ealing, Harrow and Brent may work together to save money.
Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport who in his Department is responsible for identifying and advising him on potential problems with the provision of library services by local authorities, including whether a library authority may be in breach of its statutory duties under the Libraries Act 1964. [91892]
Mr Vaizey: Public library services provided across England are monitored by this Department’s officials who engage directly with library authorities. They also monitor correspondence sent to the Department, monitor websites and press articles, and engage in meaningful discussion with organisations that have current information about public library service provision. These include Arts Council England, the Society of Chief Librarians and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.  House of Commons.

“Jarvis then asked whether the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had set any criteria for intervention in a local library authority, and “whether it is his policy to intervene in local authorities where a substantial programme of library closures is undertaken without (a) an adequate assessment of local needs and (b) a strategic libraries plan.

Vaizey replied: “I endorse the analysis and approach adopted by the inquiry held in 2009 into the proposed closure of libraries by Wirral metropolitan borough council. When authorities consider reorganising library services it is important that they have assessed the local needs of their communities and have prepared a strategic plan for their library services. Library authorities must provide a service which best meets local needs within available resources. Where there is evidence that this may not be happening, dialogue will commence with the local authority concerned. Use of statutory powers, including those regarding intervention, will be exercised on a case by case basis only when all other avenues have been exhausted.” Jarvis presses Vaizey on library closures - BookSeller. Comments below article make it clear that no-one believes Mr Vaizey will intervene in any case and that he has, indeed, failed to intervene when all other avenues have been exhausted – for example, in the Isle of Wight, Brent, Surrey, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

  • Who is advising Ed Vaizey?Voices For The Library.   “In light of the current state of affairs regarding ongoing library cuts and closures throughout England we would be very interested to know: What engagement are DCMS officials having with local authorities? What advice are Ed Vaizey and the DCMS being given by these named organisations?What are the DCMS and Ed Vaizey doing with that advice? At the moment it seems that any advice being given is either being ignored or is advice that continues to help the dismantling of UK public library services.”
“Quiz time again… What do the following public library services have in common?
Bolton, Warwickshire, Kent, Brighton and Hove, RB Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, RB Windsor and Maidenhead.
A. All have SCL committee members. None have events planned on NLD map.” mickfortune on Twitter.

Changes

Local News

“First to close, earlier this month, was Highfield Library, in High- field Road, Farnworth. It has been replaced by an 850-book self service collection point.Heaton area forum heard just 88 books were taken out in Highfield’s first week of operation, four times fewer than the average taken from the library.”

  • Bristol – More Bristol libraries offering council services - BlottR.   Five libraries to have self-service and council service information points.  ““The co-location of Robinson House and Fishponds Library has proved popular with local people. The ground floor has been refurbished and a brand new customer facility with Customer Service Points and a library with self-service have been designed with the customer in mind. The opening days have been busy and exciting. We are now planning a formal launch of both services in early March.””
  • Calderdale – National libraries day protest chance - Halifax Courier.   16,000 name petition already created.  “Saturday February 4 is National Libraries Day and we plan to organise a gathering of supporters outside the Calderdale Central Library to demonstrate our support for libraries generally, but also to try to convince our leaders that we do not want to see our Library bulldozed to make way for more retail development. The event will start from around 10.30am and we will be joined by Linda Riordan MP at 11.00am.”
    • Is there veidence people are reading fewer books? - Halifax Courier.   “Is there real evidence that demand is falling? There has been a freeze on requests for books not currently on the library catalogue and borrowers have been unable to make requests (leading to falling demands) so figures will be inaccurate if they are taken, say, from the past 12 months.”
  • Croydon – Councils make positive progress on Upper Norwood Library - This is Croydon Today.  “Croydon and Lambeth Councils have met to talk about the future of Upper Norwood Library. About 200 people packed a public meeting at the Salvation Army hall in Westow Street in November, calling for the two councils to get together and speak to each other.”. Croydon is pulling out of its agreement with Lambeth.
  • Dorset – Portland Underhill Library to shut due to lack of volunteers - BBC.   Council will close library due to cuts.  Eight other libraries likely to have volunteers running them this year.
    • Campaigners lose Underhill Library fight – Dorset Echo.   ““When you think of how many people stood out there in support of the library, it’s quite clear that people want to keep it. When elderly people and young mums have to get transport up the hill to Easton to the library, it means it’s no longer a free service.””
  • Essex – Libraries celebrate National Libraries Day - Essex Council.   “In the week up to National Libraries Day, Essex Libraries will be premiering their latest video about the benefits of membership on their You Tube Channel at www.youtube.com/Essexlibraries.”
  • Hertfordshire – County Council urged to rethink plans to close School Library Service - Borehamwood Times.  “The Charted Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) and the School Library Association (SLA) are calling for Hertfordshire County Council to review its decision to close the service on March 31.”
    • County Council asked for School Library Service reprieve – BBC.   “Annie Mauger, chief executive of CILIP, said: “I am incredibly concerned about the impact that the closure will have on children’s education and attainment. “The decision to close the service has been taken at short notice and I can see no evidence that the council has considered alternatives, such as restructuring.” Director of the SLA Tricia Adams added: “With so much national attention focused on improving literacy standards and the importance of reading to support educational achievement this should not be the time to close a service that helps schools address these issues.”
    • “Rethink schools library service closure” - CILIP and Schools Library Association joint press release.  “Tricia Adams, Director of the SLA added, “With so much national attention focused on improving literacy standards and the importance of reading to support educational achievement this should not be the time to close a service that helps schools address these issues.”
  • Kent – Libraries - Bev Humphrey.  “My local library is in Greenhithe, it’s in a small building that is set back from the road and is extremely easy to miss. Once you do realise that it exists a warm welcome greets you when you go in. The staff are friendly and helpful and I always enjoy chatting to them. The stock however wouldn’t encourage anyone to pop in – to be honest I often struggle to find anything vaguely current to read and the books are looking tired and uncared for. Their funding in the last few years must have been nearly non existent and the books are sadly out of date. There are always people there when I visit but then as the library is only open for 2 afternoons and 1 morning a week I suppose they are making the most of it.”
The fact that there is no mention of a day that has been organised to celebrate the contribution libraries make on the Kent Libraries web page is an utter disgrace – and seems to be a cynical political decision. Kent County Council you should be very ashamed! “

“The Council could have encouraged the excellent staff in each of its libraries to decide how best they can join in with National Libraries Day. Instead, I have heard that bosses in KCC’s Libraries Department have actually told staff that they must not get involved! Well, whose libraries are they anyway? Ours! Let’s show how much we value libraries and how important they are to strong communities and a good society. Please join in on Saturday 4th February at Whitstable Library or the local library near you.” Richard Stainton, in letter Whitstable Gazette, quoted by Alan Gibbons and Infoism.  

  • Newport – Libraries could get £120,000 - South Wales Argus.   “Government’s advisory body for museums, archives and libraries, CyMAL, for grants of up to £120,000 per scheme, to carry out refurbishments to Bettws and Ringland libraries and relocate Caerleon library”. 
  • Redbridge – Council leader not ruling out cut to library hours - Ilford Recorder.   “he council leader has refused to rule out cutting library opening hours, hinting that volunteers could be brought in to make up a shortfall of staff following the latest round of budget cuts.” … “Fifteen librarians were made redundant days before Christmas as part of a bid to save £510,000 from the libraries budget.” 
  • Somerset – Library u-turn proves costly for council budget - View Online.  Reports on costs incurred by council in unsuccessfully defending its library cuts in the courts.
  • Suffolk – Library campaigners fear that the battle for libraries has only just begun - Rosehill Readers.   “By the 2nd May 2011 the SCC spin doctors were obviously working overtime with ‘Libraries saved’ and ‘end of New Strategic Direction’. Neither of these headlines, no matter how often repeated turn out to be true. So why did the press coverage change so dramatically around April 2011?” … “We don’t recall anyone complaining about heavy bureaucracy in the public library service before now – it was more like a shoestring operation which delivered an excellent service to the public with great value for money due to the dedication of the staff – but the spinners were at it again and ‘cutting bureaucracy’ now regularly appears as an aim of all these changes.”.  New plans will only increase bureaucracy. 
  • Sunderland – Storytime fun can help boost literacy - Sunderland Echo.  Professional storyteller will be active in libraries this week.  “Coun John Kelly, Sunderland City Council portfolio holder for safer city and culture, said: “Both National Storytelling Month and National Libraries Day are fantastic ways to highlight the important role which libraries play. “Both initiatives are fantastic ways to encourage children and young people to be creative and to enjoy the art of storytelling.” Coun Kelly added: “Sunderland’s libraries offer a number of services which are easily accessible, and staff are always on hand to support people.”
  • Telford & Wrekin – Changes to library hours - Shropshire Live.  ““Given the scale of savings we face we have no choice but to find ways of making savings in our library service and I am pleased that we are in a position where, unlike many other councils across the country, none of our libraries are closing.”

Being transported to another world

414 libraries (325 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.
 
Can you help by…?

News

  • Developing a new brand of library - OCLC. In the morning, there will be a pre-conference session hosted by Lise Robinson (OCLC Manager of the new FABLibraries initiative) entitled, “Just because you build it, doesn’t mean people will come….”  When libraries worldwide are facing unprecedented cuts in funding we need to be working to ensure that the general public see libraries as relevant to them and their lives.”
  • Helsinki’s Library 10 & Meetingpoint - Walking Paper.   A look at the amazing Helsinki Library, full of ideas up to including the lending out of guitars.  Lots of meeting spaces, no counters and a forward-looking feel but with plenty of printed books too.
  • Libraries are much more than books - An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.   Author goes through five libraries that have been important to her.  A lovely read.  
“You see, libraries aren’t just about reading are they? They’re about being transported to another world, they’re about contemplation and memories. No amount of money can buy those.” 

  • St Mary’s pupils get ebooks to tempt reluctant readers - London Evening Standard.   Sony has donated 12 e-books to flagship school library, opened recently by David Cameron, which has also benefited from donation by a Russian billionaire.  ” “The children were thrilled with the e-readers. All but one of the students said they would prefer to read on them than on traditional books – they told me it was ‘because it’s technology, Mr Brading’.”

Local News

  • Barnet – Please keep Sat 4th Feb free - Save Friern Barnet Library.  We’ll be holding an event at Friern Barnet library, our theme will be ‘love our local library’, tying in with Valentines Day round the corner. We’ll be walking in pride from outside Old Town Hall, corner of Friern Barnet Lane and Friern Barnet Rd from 2pm. Come along, bring a crowd, bring a banner, bring a heart to show your love for Friern Barnet Library!”
  • Birmingham – Library “faces” see work move ahead - Birmingham Mail.   New library will open in 2013.  “Faces” are people chosen to publicise the library: ““They will be brilliant advocates for the Library of Birmingham in their local communities, and will help spread the excitement amongst the city’s residents. “We are still looking for nine more faces, so I hope people will be inspired to leap into action and apply, so that they can be involved in this exciting project too.”
  • City of London – Have you been to the mobile library? - Londonist.   “The service – which is only three months old – is a temporary stop-gap for those affected by the closure and on-going  redevelopment of Camomile Street Library, which has been out of action since March 2011. Against the backdrop of so many closures, the City of London hit upon what has been hailed as ‘a perfect solution’, according to Carol Boswarthack, Head of Barbican and Community Libraries. Instead of dying a bricky, dusty death, Camomile Street Library will be replaced with a community centre to offer “east of the City communities a one-stop-shop for facilities including libraries, adult education and much more” once it emerges in the autumn, reincarnated on the grounds of the underused Middlesex Street Estate car park.”
  • Durham – Fears for the future of our town library - Teesdale Mercury.   “Concerns have been raised about plans to hand Barnard Castle Library to a charitable trust as part of a major shake-up in council services. “
  • Ealing – Council in talks to outsource libraries - Ealing Gazette.  “Ealing Council is in talks with Brent and Harrow to establish a shared, privately-managed leisure service to save the libraries. Plans could see the council hiring independent providers to manage both libraries and sports and leisure facilities across the neighbouring boroughs.”
  • Gloucestershire – Plans up in the air for Brockworth Library - This is Gloucestershire.  Neil Hopwood, from Brockworth Community Trust, said in an ideal world, the area’s library would have more council support. He said: “At the end of the day, anything which can be provided as a statutory service is better. “The main thing, from our point of view, is we still don’t feel that Brockworth has been given a fair assessment.”
    • Campaigners plea - Alan Gibbons.  Council’s actions “…surely a display of blatant defiance of the judge’s ruling and a clear indication that this was not approached with an open mind but with a mind to try to justify their previous cuts, cuts that were based (as now) on no proper needs analysis. It only takes one look at the new EIA to see that even this has been done incredibly badly!. Cart before the horse yet again! Gloucestershire County Council are clearly incredibly confused and in need of supervision if they do not want to end up in court again. No one wants that. It is farcical and yet where is Vaizey?”
    • Council library case cost £95,000 - BBC.  “The authority said it spent £36,000 on “in-house labour” and £59,000 on expenses including barristers’ fees. In November, the High Court ruled the cuts were unlawful as the council had not complied with equity laws.”
    • National Libraries Day in GloucestershireFoGL.  Loads of author visits, organised not by the Council but by campaigners.  “All of these events have been arranged voluntarily by library users. If nothing is happening at your local library why not arrange something yourself? It doesn’t have to be a big grand event or even an author visit – the point of the day is to celebrate the role of our local libraries in our communities so use your imagination! There are some ideas at http://www.nationallibrariesday.org.uk/get-involved/suggestions-for-library-users/
  • Hackney – Volunteer Support Officer - Hackney council.  “This is your opportunity to work with the Development and Support Manager to sustain, develop and coordinate volunteers working in Hackney Libraries, Archives and Information Services.” 
  • Hampshire – County Council set to cut library and museum posts - Daily Echo.   “The latest planned job cuts include 16 library staff, five museum posts, four countryside jobs and two in sports and community services.”
  • Hertfordshire – No reprieve for Hertfordshire’s axed school library service -  Times series.  Council says “As the decision to discontinue the support services we provide to school libraries has already been debated as part of the panel process, councillors decided not to put this matter on their work programme for scrutiny.” Nearly half of all primary schools in the county and a third of secondary schools have an annual subscription to the SLS. Many more are signed on the pay-as-you-use basis.”
    • No reprieve for School Library Service - Comet.   “North Herts group We Heart Libraries had written to the county council following the decision, and it was subsequently discussed in a scrutiny meeting yesterday (Wednesday). But councillors decided to not take any further action on the matter. It means the service will still cease in March.”
  • Kent – No National Libraries Day in Kent - Infoism.   Boss of Kent Libraries is also boss of Society of Chief Librarians.  “So why are Kent libraries not supporting National Libraries Day, an event designed to celebrate the contribution libraries make to our communities?  Might it be something to do with the fact that the council is preparing to look at a range of options for libraries across the county (including closures and forcing communities to run them)?  Perhaps they don’t want people to ‘re-discover’ their local library and see the range of services the excellent staff provide?”
  • Northern Ireland – Library opening hours cut - Belfast Telegraph.   “A Libraries NI spokesperson said: “Libraries NI regrets any reductions in opening hours and the impact this will have on library users. “Though additional funding was announced recently, Libraries NI still needs to reduce opening hours in order to deliver the savings targets resulting for the Comprehensive Spending Review.”  … but councillor says “Cutting Holywood Library opening hours from 53.5 to 40 is a significant reduction with only one other library in Northern Ireland targeted for such a massive cutback.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Love Your Libraries#MyNottingham.   “To celebrate the day and your local libraries, Nottingham City Council wants as many people as possible to borrow a book, film or music CD on the same day. It is a chance for citizens to show their support and visit their library and by taking out at least one item. By the end of the day it is hoped that City Libraries will have loaned 4,000 books, films and CDs.”
  • Surrey – Council seeks libraries court order reversal - BBC.   “In a statement, the Conservative-run council said it was concerned that the temporary court order was “ambiguous and therefore should be reversed”. It added that it did not believe it prevented the authority from continuing to work with the volunteers who had come forward.” 
“Surrey County Council put out a press release yesterday saying they were seeking to overturn the injunction stopping them from progressing with their Community Partnership Library plans. SCC requested that a hearing was held within 24 hours of the request. This request has been rejected by the High Court. Instead, the hearing (to determine whether or not the injunction should be overturned) has been scheduled for next Thursday at 10.30am.” [Press release from SLAM]

    • Wasting taxpayer’s money on technical defences - SLAM.  “They are seeking an expensive High Court hearing, not to argue the merits of the case, but solely to get the injunction overturned because they do not understand it. SCC’s confusion stems from the words “irrevocable steps” used in the injunction (please see our previous blog for full wording) and is claiming that the wording is too “ambiguous” for them to comply with. Rather than seek a clarification of the Court Order, they are using this technicality to overturn the injunction altogether.”

“Weapon of Mass Instruction”

Comment

I was going to call today’s offering “free market choice” after an unfortunate comment from a Bexley councillor but “weapon of mass instruction” so beautifully sums up what a library is that it wins the game hands down.  The whole point about public libraries, of course, is that they offer the complete opposite of the free market by doing such a wonderful job of “mass instruction”.  
When I do junior school class visits – and I do a lot – there is a little bit of fun that sums this up.  I get two children to come up.  One play-acts taking a book from Asda (my town has no bookshops) without paying for it.  As they almost leave, I shout “beep beep beep” and “stop thief!” to general hilarity.  The other play-acts taking a book from the public library without paying for it.  I shout “thank you” and “come back again”.  This is the difference.  One does not pay to take out a book.  One can take out twenty books retailing at perhaps £8 per book for free, as many times as one likes.  The High Street or Amazon alternative is simply not an option for many of the people I deal with.  £160 every three weeks on books?  I think not.
Libraries are not a “free market choice”.  There’d be no free access to books if it was left to the free market.  In a pure market driven economy, one would not be able to read a book without having the means to pay for it.  Believe me, there’s a lot of families who would never buy a book.  A lot of children denied the greatest chance of all life chances: that of a love of books, of a love for literacy and all the advantages that that gives.  Ladies, Gentleman and Councillors from Bexley, it’s the public library or nothing for a lot of the kids when it comes to reading.  The free market would just leave them with nothing.

415 libraries (326 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.
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“I thought my dad was having me on when I was six or seven and he told me he was taking me to a building full of free books that I could take home, read and then return and swap them for more, forever. We trotted along the road – libraries need to be local so that paying a visit feels as natural and easy as popping to the shops, not like a big, extra effort to be confined to the occasional day when you have the time – and it turned out he was telling the truth. It seemed like a miracle and it still does.”

“The brick and glass presence of libraries at the heart of our towns and cities gives the unequivocal message that books matter, that imagination matters, that the principles of free and fair access to literature and education to all matter. The most democratic of spaces, libraries are places where anyone – regardless of age or sex or background, their ambitions and opportunities (or lack of them) – is welcome and on an equal basis and for free. Libraries are home to the readers of today and the writers of tomorrow.” Love your libraries on Saturday 4th February - Reading Groups for Everyone. 

“What are libraries for? Google returns 16 million hits in answer – perhaps better illustrating what librarians are for” Catherine Kearney on Twitter.

  • Love your libraries on February 4th - National Libraries Day.  “Library users new and old are being encouraged to go along to their local library and find out about the great services on offer – from book loans and homework clubs to advice on starting a business and how to get online. Regular users are being asked to bring a friend and give them the chance to speak to library staff and find out exactly what services are available locally.”

Local News

  • Bexley – Village Library will stay free despite paid for membership option - News Shopper.  Councillor says“The library is free and remains free. The fact there is the facility to buy into something that provides something more is free market choice, I would have thought.””
  • Bolton – Trust makes plea to save libraries - This is Lancashire.  “A council spokesman said: “We are aware that the Bolton and District Civic Trust has submitted a report to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and await their response with interest.” … 68 page document sent “Richard Shirres, vice chairman of the Bolton and District Civic Trust, says in the organisation’s detailed submission, that the council has failed to ensure Bolton will have a comprehensive and efficient library service. He said: “The council has demonstrably failed to safeguard and strive for a suitable standard of library service.””
  • Calderdale – Thousands to have say on controversial library plans - Yorkshire Post.  “Councillors criticised for an alleged lack of consultation over plans to move Halifax Central Library are giving the public another chance to have their say. Critics have claimed that Calderdale Council has failed to have an open and transparent consultation process over the future of the Central Library. Council leaders want to sell the Northgate House site and move the library and archive next to the Piece Hall. Now, people are to be asked their opinion on several key questions.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Council reveals budgetHeart.   “Smaller sums of cash” will be spent on “Securing library services and transforming them to provide a twenty first century service. “
Croydon – Local Council’s “Big Society” Betrayal – Save Croydon libraries Campaign.   The highly regarded and efficient Upper Norwood Joint Library is in danger of closure due to Croydon Council being unhappy with it’s partner, Lambeth, and a desire to privatise. Long and detailed article.  See also Alan Gibbons on the same subject. 

  • Darlington – Cockerton Library closure plan fails to get backingNorthern Echo.   “A report of the place committee, which is being put to the council’s efficiency and resources scrutiny committee, reads: “Bearing in mind Darlington’s poor position in a range of measures of library provision, including being the worst in the country for its number of service points per head of population, and given the importance of libraries to disadvantaged groups in times of economic recession, this scrutiny committee cannot endorse the closure of Cockerton library.” Library may still close if alternatives to closure (seeing if local schools can pay, getting volunteers in, etc).
  • Durham – Culture trust “could improve services”: council leader - Northern Echo.  “Coun Henig was speaking as his cabinet agreed ‘in principle’ to transfer into a trust the running of 39 libraries, 15 leisure centres, the Gala Theatre and all services run by Leisureworks in Derwentside and Leisure Connection in east Durham.”.  Councillor hopes Trust will avoid business rates [unfortunately this is likely to be not entirely the case later in 2012 - Ed.]
  • Gloucestershire – Fears over Wotton Library opening hours - Gazette.   “… the revised proposals are causing concern in Wotton where the town’s library is being reduced to 12 hours. Under the original restructure Wotton Library was to be professionally staffed by two librarians for 12 hours a week and open for a further 10 hours a week, with a local volunteer working alongside a librarian. Cllr John Cordwell, county councillor for Wotton, said county leaders had made no assurances that the agreement still stood.”
  • Hackney – £4m new library will blow your mind - Upcoming.   “With more than 32,000 books, CDs, and DVDs to choose from, the first library to be built in Hackney, London, in the past 20 years has something for everyone. Bigger, better and modern, Dalston C.L.R. Library opened on January 23, and has it all.”
  • Northern Ireland – “Improved arrangements” over local library cuts - Carrick Times.  “Controversial plans to halve opening hours at two of the borough’s libraries have been revised following public outcry. Under original proposals by Libraries Northern Ireland, Greenisland and Whitehead branches would have been cut to 18 hours. However, with the provision of additional £2.39 million funding by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Board of Libraries NI decided that opening hours at the two locations will be reduced by 90 minutes and four and a half hours respectively.”
“It’s not a total victory in any sense but it’s a very small reduction as to what was envisaged. Let’s not give reason in the future to revisit the proposal,”

“Cherish these amazing buildings”

415 libraries (326 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

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National Libraries Day.  Three designs. 50p from every £5 bag goes 
to the National Libraries Day campaign.
  • Library glossaryStop the privatisation of UK public libraries.   Includes definitions of various library terms and titles such as “The Technology Learning Centre – the name chosen for the Hackney Central Library when it first opened which was then very quickly changed back to Hackney Central Library due to the fact that the public kept walking past unaware that it was a library”.
  • Naked wrestling librarian - WidePr.   WWE trained wrestler works as a library assistant in Warwickshire and as a half-naked butler at parties.  [As my correspondent who sent this piece to me has written "Stereotype busting and how!" - Ed.].
  • Union sues to block library outsourcing - American Libraries (USA).   “The union’s issue is with the timing of the vote, which was taken two weeks before a California law went into effect that mandates transparency when cities contemplate leaving a county library system in order to contract out library services in documenting anticipated cost savings.”
  • Stop what you’re doing and read this! - Independent (Book Review).   Review of pro-library/literacy book.  “In a volume of pithy writing  and fierce advocacy, these authors  debate whether books should be read on Kindles or at carrels, out loud or in the privacy of your own head. Philip Pullman is long. Life  is short. What’s the answer? Stop what you’re doing and read this!”.  “A mission statement about the transformative power of reading; about the way it inspires us, the tangible impact it can have on our wellbeing, the importance it holds for us now and will continue to hold in the future.”
  • What can carers do to help children become successful readers - Local Schools Network.  “PISA and Eurydice concluded that teachers, schools and governments need to consider how they could best help busy parents play a more active role in their children’s education. In some countries there are national literacy schemes which promote reading. In this country the Bookstart scheme gives books to children at key points in their lives but the Government proposed cutting its funding at the end of 2010. It was only after a national outcry that funding was reinstated but at a much reduced amount. Libraries play a central role in the promotion of reading skills. Again, in this country investment in libraries is much reduced and many local libraries are closing.”

Local News

  • Brent – Libraries campaigners to hold public meeting - Harrow Observer.  Meeting to inform public of what is happening.  Still waiting court decision on whether the closure of half of Brent’s libraries can be appealed.
  • Durham – Libraries are to stay open - Peterlee Mail.   “Durham County Council’s cabinet will propose measures that will guarantee that libraries across the county will not have to close. Members will be asked to run a 12-week consultation on changes to the service in a bid to balance a drop in users, with a need to save at least £145.8m over the next five years.”
  • Glasgow – Secrets to the success of city’s libraries - Herald Scotland.  Karen Cunningham, head of libraries, is very positive: “At Glasgow’s Mitchell Library she will argue that the city’s lending libraries are healthier than ever before, with visitor numbers, membership figures and the number of books issued all increasing.”
“As the role of libraries changes in the city, we must remember to cherish these amazing buildings and to treat them with care, to understand their worth and to use them to inspire us through the 21st century.”

  • Gloucestershire – Young readers go for goldThis is Gloucestershire.  “The project, Train Your Brain and Go for Gold, is being run in libraries around the county. Youngsters will be given a free pack with the aim of reaching Olympic targets. Three books would be the pole vault, seven books would be the heptathlon and, of course, 26 books would be the marathon. Children taking part will be given medals and certificates to celebrate their success in the challenge, which is running until June. The project is being funded by the Arts Council.”
  • Hackney – New £4.4m library welcomes first visitors - East London Times.   Dalston CLR James Library opens: “In response to questions on the limited publicity the library’s opening received, Hackney council’s head of libraries, Ted Rogers, told EastLondonLines that today was the “soft launch” for the library. The official opening will be held in late February, he said.”.  New library is twice the size of the old one. 
Someone in this group must be a professional graphic designer.  Some excellent
images and campaigning ideas are on their Facebook wall.
“This could all have been avoided if the (ruling) Conservatives had listened and learnt from good practice in other county councils and not closed libraries.”
    • Library “fiasco” could cost £600,000 this year - Bridgwater Mercury.  “… And it must find £240,000 in annual costs for not closing any libraries; £205,000 for restoring previous opening hours; £120,000 in annual running costs for the mobile libraries – totalling £565,000 annually.”
  • Surrey – Lib Dems call on County Council to abandon expensive legal battle - Surrey County Council Lib Dems.  “I am calling on the Conservative administration at Surrey County Council to immediately end its unpopular and ill-conceived plans to axe professional library staff and replace them with volunteers, and to abandon the squandering of council taxpayers money on an expensive and drawn out legal battle in the High Court.”
  • Westminster – Bibliosonic - Soundsofjag.  “taking place on National Libraries Day, Bibliosonic will mark the live debut of Raven Beats Crow’s new ‘Dark Matters’ EP. Their trademark live visuals will be provided by Tartan Walrus” at Westminster Reference Library.

Quiet day: only a £100k cut in Peterborough and a confirmed closure in Harrow

415 libraries (326 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

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  • 1964 Public library standards in 2012 - Gareth62.  Questions the legality of the dropping of Library Standards a few years ago.
  • Eating the Seed CornCharlie Stross.  “… if the drop in my PLR loans reflects library closures, then we have just slammed the door in the face of a new generation of readers. I got my start reading fiction from my local library; the voracious reading habits of a bookish child aren’t easily supported from a family budget under strain from elsewhere during a time of cuts. I hate to think what the long term outcome of this short-term policy is going to be, but I don’t believe any good will come of it.”

Change

Local News

  • Bolton – Meeting room rent charges set to soar - Bolton News.   Room hire charges up by 14%, due to improvement in facilities.
  • Gloucestershire – Rural/Community libraries: the facts behind the fiction - FoGL.  Council is deliberately maximising cost and minimising usage of mobiles in order to make closing them easier: Mobiles make only monthly stops to reduce demand and are operational only two-thirds of the time.  Mobiles doublestaffed, with driver being a highly paid “agency” one due to the council one being made redundant.  Mobiles have had bookfund cut by 60% with stops cancelled if there is a (very frequent) staffing shortage. 
  • Harrow – Plans to merge Harrow libraries still in pipelineHarrow Times.   Merging Gayton and Civic Centre libraries in new library, effectively meaning closing one, has been confirmed in council.  Hatch End Library may move into Harrow Arts Centre. 
  • Kent – Save libraries on National Libraries Day in Whitstable - Voices for the Library. “Everyone is asked to bring a “quotation” from one of their favourite books or dress up as a character from a book – you can do both, of course.  Your “quotation” should be less than 140 characters in length (like a Tweet) and you can write it on a placard or poster or read it aloud at the meeting. Whitstable has a reputation for creativity, dressing up and putting on a show; so let’s make this a memorable celebration of how important libraries are.”
  • Northern Ireland – Local library hours hardest hit in ProvinceBalleymoney Times.  ““The Minister shares the views of the many thousands of people who responded to the public consultation that Libraries are an important public service with an essential role in the heart of our communities.”.  However, cuts would still mean 10% less opening hours locally.  Need to promote service.
  • Oxfordshire – 20 volunteers needed to keep village library open - Henley Standard.  “Each one would work two hours every other week in order to make up for the loss of 50 per cent of staff funding in cuts agreed by Oxfordshire County Council.”  £4 to £5k p.a. needed to keep Benson Library open, with campaigners hoping to keep a paid member of staff on site at all times.  Moving towards volunteers cleaning the library and also to increase donations.
  • Peterborough – Library fears over Vivacity cash cut - Evening Telegraph.  Council will cut funding to Trust by £100k per year (from £3.1m to £3m).  Councillors fear library hours will reduce.  Vivacity has already had cut of £180k this year.
“The Lib Dem group has always argued that libraries are a basic service which should be kept under direct local authority control. Libraries help children to learn to read and enable people of all ages, particularly those on lower incomes. Many councils have set up leisure/cultural trusts but only a few have included libraries.”

  • Warrington – Rename our building, win an iPhone - Friends of Grappenhall Library.  As you know our old local library in  Victoria Avenue is re-opening again very soon. Its planned to be far more than just a library and the energy and commitment of local people in Grappenhall and wider afield in South Warrington, will help us do far more. To mark the change to a wider community use, we are holding a competition to rename the building. The prize is an iPhone”
  • Warwickshire – Evening and weekend opening cut at libraries -  Weekly News.  “Hours were shortened in attempts to save more than £2 million in Warwickshire County Council’s library network. This week results of public votes on new hours were announced. In new opening times starting on April 1 Leamington library will be the only one opening on a Sunday or into the evenings on weekdays.”