£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.

Can you help by…?

News

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.

Can you help by…?

News

  • 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.”

Time Magazine: Money, teddy bears, hugs and … librarians.

Ed Vaizey is backing a bid for Oxford to be the World Book Capital.  The bid appears to highlight the new Bodleian library, another university library and the bookshops but strangely does not mention the public libraries in the county, which are financially in such a bad way that they will soon have nearly have their branches staffed partially by volunteers.  In other news, Time Magazine puts librarians in the “not dangerous” and “not feared” category.  Spot on.

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.

Can you help by…?

News

“Sometimes you can judge a government by its approach to the marginal detail as well as to the big picture. Along with the public-library system itself, the Public Lending Right legislation that has since 1979 granted authors a tiny payment for each library loan counts as a national treasure. Since the amount seems so small (just over sixpence per withdrawal) and the annual pot so modest (around £7m.), it’s easy to assume that the benefit to writers is purely notional. Not so. In 2009, 232 authors qualified for the maximum payment of £6,600. For popular but non-celebrity children’s authors or genre writers, that’s not pocket money. Now the PLR rate per issue has dropped, from 6.25 to 6.05 pence, as the size of the yearly fund slips from £7.22m. down to £6.96m. Piddling sums, by Whitehall standards. Yet they matter: in practical terms for some writers; in symbolic terms for all. And the squeeze reveals a default position of carping meanness towards culture, even as an extra £40m. funds the Olympic ceremonies.” Whitehall dips into our treasure - Independent (Boyd Tonkin). 

Changes

Local News

  • Inverclyde – Library move for social care and health staff  - Inverclyde Now.  Central Library will move to ground floor at Wallace Place, Greenock at cost of £1.5m while old library becomes “the headquarters and main office for Inverclyde Community Health and Care Partnership (CHCP) although it will not be big enough to accommodate all CHCP staff of whom there are 405 at present. Work is expected to start in August 2012 and be finished by July 2013.”
  • Kent – Grieving families caused distress by new death-register system in libraries - This is Kent.   “Kent County Council ended the practise of registering deaths at Register Offices, including Aberdeen House in Ramsgate, from January 1. Instead people have to make an appointment at a library. KCC claimed the move was to give the bereaved “greater flexibility” but undertakers say it has meant people potentially have to travel further and that families are trying to register a death in a busy library.”
“Now we are hearing stories of people actually leaning across the counter to return books as a person is trying to register a death. It’s absolutely crazy.”

  • North Tyneside – Council hold library find amnesty - BBC.  As part of National Libraries Day, 12000 items are normally overdue at any given time from councils’ branches. 
  • North Yorkshire – Still time to give your view - Wetherby News. “Coun Chris Metcalfe, executive member for library services, said: “We have been working very hard over the last year to extend our partnership working with our partners, including parish, town and district councils. As a result of excellent partnership working, this means that in some cases we will actually be able to deliver an increase in library opening hours.””
  • Oxfordshire – Oxford bids to be World Book Capital - Cherwell.   “Oxford’s bid to become UNESCO World Book Capital in 2014 has received official government support. The move was confirmed by Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, who stated the government’s intention to back the bid, in the hope of promoting the benefits of books and reading throughout the country.”.  New Bodleian and Oxford Brookes Libraries mentioned in bid, as are bookshops, but not public libraries.
  • Somerset – Librarians in “lose, lose situation” - Mercury series.  Councillor says library closures and use of volunteers in libraries would have saved money that could have been used to buy books in surviving branches. 
  • Surrey – Another victory for campaigners fighting to save Surrey’s libraries - Eagle.  “We’re obviously very pleased because it means that we now have a chance to get Surrey to reconsider yet again.  We do not believe there’s a long term future for libraries run by volunteers only.  Volunteers are notoriously fickle, a lot of publicity at the beginning will bring people in and then they start to fall off and so on.”

Ealing looks towards privatisation, points out tax savings for Trusts very likely to change

Comment

Labour-controlled Ealing is considering privatising/outsourcing its library services.  This piece of news is discussed in a committee paper and does not appear to have been publicised, although the council says it has been “soft market testing” options for months.  Possible companies/partners include LSSI, Laing, GLL and what appears to be a complete list of Trusts currently running libraries in England.  The fact that it is a Labour council considering this move adds fuel to the argument that there is only an illusion of difference between the coalition and the opposition on the matter, a point also brought home this week by Ed Milliband’s decision to keep the pay freeze/cut for public sector staff.

Moving off the whole privatisation and Milliband controversies, another very interesting aspect about the proposals is that Ealing appears almost certain that the tax privileges that go with Trusts will be soon be lost.  It says:

“Central government has responded to the consultation and are proposing to proceed with NNDR changes as originally suggested. Details of how baselines are to be established is not yet clear, but is highly likely that Ealing will have to fund any additional charitable relief awarded from 2013/4, and until baselines are reset which could be for a number of years (yet to be determined). As a result there may not be any savings for Ealing as a result of these services being provided by a charity.”

If so, this is really bad news for those councils currently pushing forward with Trusts as this possibly soon to be removed financial benefit is the key factor.  Suffolk has just this week appointed a new manager for its Trust and Durham announced a transfer earlier this month. Warrington, also, is unlikely to be a happy bunnyThe trade unions in Greenwich are already not overly delighted with transfer of its libraries to a Leisure Trust and this is not going to make them any more pro.   The reason this matters is the process of transferring a library service from a council to a Trust can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.  Money which is wasted if the main reason for the move – taking advantage of rates and VAT exemptions – is going to be removed.  And the reason that matters in these straitened times can be seen is such stories as the one quoted below:

“The library, literally, saved me. To cut a long story short, I was an alcoholic in the 1990s. I used to shelter in the local public library some days when it was raining, before my local opened. One rainy day, with no intentions of reading and being bored waiting, I browsed some of the titles. One on alcoholism stood out. Flicked through it, and found a case study that uncannily mapped my own family experience. I didn’t go to the pub that afternoon, reading the book cover to cover instead. It didn’t cure me of alcoholism. There is no cure really; not having a drink becomes a lifelong conscious choice. I still drank afterwards, but also became aware of the damage to my family and myself, and set about fixing this.If I hadn’t been in the library that day and browsed the books, I’d probably be in the pub now. More likely, I’d be dead.” Comment on “The privacy of the library patron, and mental illness” on WordShore

Quote the comment above whenever someone says libraries are a luxury and that it is selfish to keep them going as it would mean cuts to other social services.  I said “other” there because I mean it.  Public libraries are not highbrow nice-things-to-have-for-the-middle-classes.  They present a vital part of the community, helping thousands every day improve their life chances and, as this comment above shows, their chances of life.  I have, personally, over the library counter, had a person tell me that they would commit suicide (quietly, not making a fuss) if they did not have the escape that the library offered him.  They’re a place of refuge and a place of hope in many ways.  Libraries – outsourced or not – embody, perhaps, the real meaning of the word “Trust”.

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.

Can you help by…?

News

  • Apple: iBooks 2 will “reinvent textbooks” - Guardian.  “There are social division issues here. Is it going to be possible to borrow these books from school libraries? Is the school going to be the organisation to provide these books to students? What about those who can’t afford to buy the books themselves?””
  • Bookseller Awards open for business - BookSeller.   Libraries included for the first time ever.  “The leading book trade awards have been expanded for 2012 with the addition of three new categories: to find the best library; the top academic, professional and educational publisher; and the overall National Bookseller of the Year.”
  • Bringing books to life: get involved in the conversation - Arts Council England.  Cheshire East issues the most books of any authority in England.  It has worked with authors and poets in its libraries and at the Crewe Lyceum Theatre.

Community Library ServiceExcellent video on the Hackney “Books on Wheels” Service that provided books, CDs, DVDs and talking books to the housebound.
  • Egyptian librarians found first unionAhramonline (Egypt).  200,000 librarians, archivists and information specialists form association.  “Despite the issues facing librarians, there is a rush on this vocation throughout Egyptian universities. During the 1970s and 1980s, a public post was guaranteed for library studies graduates. With the rush to work in the Gulf, the speciality came into high demand, given its basis in language. “We can only accept 100 students in some of these departments, and receive some 1000 applications, so we create certain requirements, such as knowledge of other languages, and sometimes even using interviews to filter students going in,” Kassem explained.”
  • Help This Week in LibrariesDP Green.   Show needs funding for 2012.  “This Week in Libraries (TWIL) is a vital professional development resource for library workers who want to learn, engage and get excited about our profession (i.e. everyone). TWIL brings educative and inspiring conversations with passionate presenters and guest professionals to our screens, whenever we choose to watch, for free! Innovation is always on the menu; served with passion, pride and collaboration.”
  • How Ed Miliband’s cuts policy is dividing Labour’s heartlands - Guardian. “While Liverpool city councillors are closing libraries and swimming pools, voters are asking who will fight the coalition?”.  Labour leader says he will cut in similar fashion to the coalition, Labour council is closing Woolton Library so locals who oppose this are left with no-one representing their point of view.  Liverpool cut “£91m last year and has to lose £50m this year. On Wednesday night it agreed £16m of those cuts – closing three libraries, including Woolton, a swimming pool, axing school uniform allowances and cutting funds to the children’s mental health team, among others.”
“In this submission we comment that authors are not only suppliers to libraries; they are also heavy users of the library services and many were inspired to become readers, and later writers, because of libraries. The planned library closures will have a devastating, long-lasting and irreparable effect on local communities as well as on the wider community and the nation and constitute a breach of the requirements of the Libraries & Museums Act 1964 and the Charteris Report. While it is not for the Society to dictate details of how library services are best provided, a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century must allow free access to a wide range of books in a safe, comfortable, convenient and accessible space. Libraries must be knowledgeably managed and curated by trained professional staff.” SoA Submission to the CMS Select Committee Inquiry into library closures - Society of Authors.  

Changes

Local News

  • Brent – Council claim library closure delays cost them £400,000 - London 24.   Due to costs of legal challenge, cuts will need to be made in other areas.  “Services including pest control, animal welfare, waste, parks and transport will be hit.”  Campaigners point out that closures were the most unimaginative way to cut costs and the one most damaging to local communities.  “The council could have made savings of £400,000 by diverting ward working monies and still have change. What has been done with money returned by Icelandic Banks?”
    • Estate agent sponsors boards in support of library campaign - Brent & Kilburn Times.   Save Libraries placards are being offered by estate agent, with £15 promised to campaign for every one erected. “If you are able to have a Daniels Estate Agent board outside your home contact Rachael Newberry by emailing rlnewberry1@gmail.com with your address and any specific instructions.”
  • Coventry – Punch-up breaks out in Earlsdon Library - Coventry Telegraph.   “It is believed the argument started between the two library users over the use of bad language while they looked at computers next to each other. Coventry City Council, which runs the library, has now banned the 58-year-old man from all its libraries for a year.”
  • Derbyshire – County Council plans £25m to budgetBBC.   “Adult care, libraries and youth services will have to find savings but the authority is proposing a freeze in council tax for 2012/13.”
  • Durham – Culture idea may save £1m - Peterlee Mail.   “One option is for the authority to place such venues in a not-for-profit charitable trust, or a Non-Profit Distributing Organisation (NPDO). The Cabinet is being asked “in principal” to consider agreeing to the change, which the authority says has significant financial advantages and could save more than £1m a year.”
  • East Sussex – Tories cut and spend in East Sussex - Argus.   “The council has also admitted it is looking at whether some libraries could close, with bookworms being warned to expect longer waits in libraries and fewer books bought in.”
  • Gloucestershire – Lawyers “seriously concerned” as Gloucestershire County Council approve library plan - FoGL.   ““Gloucestershire County Council, unlike Somerset County Council (who also had their library plans quashed at the hearing), are rushing this process to hit the new financial year deadline. This risks putting the cart before the horse for a second time. Despite telling the court that they had taken deprivation into account, it is gratifying to see that, now that it has, Hester’s Way and other libraries in deprived areas have been saved. But we are concerned that there are still serious flaws in the council’s approach” inc.  equalities/user information deficient, method of consultation unclear, role of communities unclear, future of mobiles unclear, equality impact assessment problems, council need to guarantee “community partnerships” in case they fail as they are relying on them.
“…we cannot stress enough how important it is that the people of Gloucestershire engage with the consultation process, and that community leaders and councillors make sure the people they represent are listened to. No one wants to end up back in court.”

  • Hampshire – Nearly £500,000 saved but 17 jobs are lost - This is Hampshire.   Opening hours cut from 1/4/12 as part of £446k cut this year.  “112 hours will be cut at an average of 5.8hours per facility and will result in a loss of 17 full-time jobs.”. 5500 responses received from consultation.
  • Hertfordshire – Slideshow: New chapter for Hertford Library - Mercury.  “It’s more or less got the same space as the old building except the other library was on three levels and this is on one, so it’s a lot more accessible to everybody, which was one of our aims.” Previous library at fourteen different floor levels. Includes wi-fi and babychange facilities. “The library was officially opened this morning (Thursday January 19) by MP Ed Vaisey [sic], the minister for culture, communications and creative industries.”
  • Merton – Council hint on Dons return to SW19 - This is Local London.   “The sites and policies development plan also suggested Colliers Wood Library could move up the road to the Colliers Wood community centre – which is earmarked for rebuilding as a mixture of community and residential space. It features plans to rebuild or improve libraries in West Barnes, Mitcham and Wimbledon – something that could be paid for by adding residential units to the library sites.”
  • Milton Keynes – StonyWords 8 programme of events - About My Area.   Many literary events happening, including several at the library saved from closure last year.
  • Monmouthshire – Chepstow library to re-open after £120,000 refurbishment - Free Press.  “The £120,000 refurbishment came after Monmouthshire Council secured the funding through the Welsh Government’s CyMAL (Museums Archives and Libraries Wales) organisation.”
  • North Tyneside – Council ends library axe bid - Chronicle.  “North Tyneside Council was proposing to shut two libraries, one in Monkseaton and the other on the Coast Road, in North Shields, as part of cost-cutting measures. But the plans sparked protests from residents and a petition was launched to save the branch. More than 4,400 people backed the campaign. Now Mayor Linda Arkley has withdrawn the proposal and confirmed the Monkseaton library in Woodleigh Road will stay open.”.
  • Nottinghamshire – “Staggering” facelift welcomed at Mansfield’s new £3.4m library - Chad.   “Library bosses say that in the facility’s first week alone 5,252 people passed through the doors and 7,643 books, DVDs or audiobooks were issued by staff.”
“The whole library has been reorganised and transformed – a far cry from the 1977 vintage interior and a massive improvement, too,” he said. “One thing that struck me about the library has nothing to do with the new surroundings: it is the friendly and welcoming staff. “They seem to enjoy working in the new environment.””

  • Somerset – New opening times for Burnham on Sea library announcedBurnham on Sea.com.   Hours reinstated after campaigners won legal case.
  • Suffolk – Libraries charity appoints new manager - BBC.   “The council said it would be able to reduce the amount it spends on libraries from nearly £9m in 2010-11 to £6.4m in 2012-13.”
  • Surrey – Judge grants injunction against library closures - Get Surrey.   Council cannot close libraries or pass them to volunteers pending court case deciding on legality of the cuts. SLAM campaigner says “We can concentrate on the case for now as all the libraries are safe and can’t be brought towards community run status. A date has yet to be set to the hearing but SLAM believe this injunction shows it will be “sooner rather than later”.”
    • Court halts Surrey library volunteers plan - BBC.   “”We were expecting a three-week wait while the judge considered the merits of the case before deciding whether to issue an injunction,” he said. “It didn’t take the judge very long to decide that our case was strong enough to merit a quick injunction. We are very pleased about that.”

Because that’s the problem

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

Because that’s the problem, Mr Cameron. The 1,500 books that have been donated to St Mary’s will languish on the shelves unread, or disappear entirely, if nobody is being paid to look after them. Yes, I said “paid.” Volunteers come and go. Who is going to find the money for a database so the school actually knows where those books are, and when a class in Y3 is doing the Ancient Romans next term you can find the right resources for them? You can get a purpose-built package , but it’ll cost you a more than a grand to install and several hundred pounds a year to run. And believe me, you’d need a lot of volunteers to do the equivalent on 6 x 4 index cards. I know, I’ve tried.” Story of a rather silly man - Miranda’s Island.

 

 
  • Sex Pistols artist takes Brent library protest to USLondon Evening Standard.   “Jamie Reid is educating art lovers in Los Angeles about Kensal Rise library, closed by Brent council. He has designed prints with the slogans “Education is a birthright!” and “Free the books/ books for free/ save Kensal Rise library” and put them on display during the Moods of Norway art exhibition at the Paul Stolper Gallery in LA. He has also donated 200 of the limited-edition prints to protesters in Kensal Rise, who plan to sell them to raise money for the campaign.”
  • We are cutting ours, go use theirs: They are cutting those as well - Question Everything.   Oxfordshire library campaigner notices Gloucestershire is telling is users affected by cuts to use bordering Oxfordshire libraries – but those libraries are being cut as well.  Oh dear.
“So according to GCC 30% of the library service from Wychwood and Burford covers the residents of Gloucestershire. But wait, we are being cut too! Burford and Wychwood are having the staffing cut by 50% and the volunteers are going to have to cover this and lots of the other duties of the paid staff. We are also no longer statutory so presumably the 1964 act which states provide a service to those who live, work and study doesn’t apply.”

Changes

Local News


“Coun Reynolds told the Express that this was a dark day for democracy in the borough, and fears this is a great loss for the community of Aberbargoed. He said: “The library is now going to close, which means our community will be without its own library. We will continue to fight it, as will the people of Aberbargoed. “These buildings are what make a community and they are slowly being taken away. “The revenue the council will save from the closure is only £5,500 a year, which I find disgraceful. The decision is absolutely disgraceful. Are the people of Aberbargoed not worth even £5,500 a year?” Caerphilly – Library closure “a dark day for democracy” - Wales Online.  

  • Conwy – Campaigners to meet with council over future of Penrhyn Bay library - North Wales Weekly News.  Penrhyn Bay Library Users Group (PLUG) examining possibility of running its library.  “If we can’t come up with a model that works, that has to be appreciated as well. But I’m confident we have a strong enough community to support that.”.
  • Croydon/Lambeth – Letters respond to “gaff-prone Eddy” tell the truth and remind campaigners - Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.  Croydon councillors attacked for library closures.
  • Durham – Council wants to transfer sport and leisure services to a charitable trust - Civil Society.  “The council has to make spending cuts of £145.8m in the next five years and hopes it can save money by putting the services into a charitable trust known as a non-profit distributing organisation (NPDO). It predicts it could save more than £865,000 in national non-domestic rates in the financial years 2012/13 and 2013/14 because the new organisation would be eligible for a discount of 80 per cent. An NPDO would be exempt from VAT on fees and charges at sport, leisure and cultural facilities and libraries. It would also be able to apply for funding from bodies such as Sport England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.”.  Libraries would be one of the first services to be transferred.  
    • Anxious wait over job cuts at libraries - Northern Echo.   “Labour-run Durham County Council wants to cut opening hours at all but one of its libraries – some by more than half – before outsourcing their management to a nonprofit- making trust. Last night, the council said 250 staff, in the equivalent of 134 full-time posts, could be affected, but it was too early to say how many jobs would be lost.”.
    • Cutbacks to Durham library serviceBookSeller.   
  • Halton – Award-winning author, Helen Walsh, visits Widnes Library as part of National Library Day - Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News.  “An award-winning yet highly-controversial author will be visiting Widnes Library as part of National Libraries Day next month. Helen Walsh, who was born in Warrington, has a reputation for writing what other authors are afraid to say. She will be guest of honour at the annual event, which is being held on Thursday, February 2.”
  • Hampshire – Plans altered for library opening changes - Hampshire Chronicle.   5500 responses to cuts proposals.  £4.7m [sic] cuts for libraries, inc. £446k cuts to opening hours.
“An exciting and unique two year opportunity to join our innovative management team and lead our offer of consultancy and services to other local authorities. In Northamptonshire, we are ahead of the curve with libraries as prosperity centres, cutting edge engagement with 27 established Friends groups and over 450 volunteers – and there’s another 570 who want to offer time. With our innovative Library Plus offer, you will lead the achievement of commissioned services, shaping and delivering the offer. Northamptonshire – Principle Librarian: Transformation - Lisjobnet. 

  • North Yorkshire – New appeal over cuts in library opening times - Yorkshire Post.   Council asks volunteers to come forward to avoid cuts to libraries.  “With the consultation coming to a close at the end of this month, the county council says it is now “challenging” volunteers to help libraries keep open for longer.”
  • Northern Ireland – Extra funds see revised Northern Ireland plan - BBC.   Extra £2.4m found to reduce expected cuts.  “Lurgan library was to have lost 13.5 hours but instead it will gain 3.5. Glengormley was to have lost 17 hours but will now not have any change. However, Fintona and Newtownstewart will still be reduced from 23 to 18 hours.”.  See also comments by Alan Gibbons.
  • Suffolk – New libraries body appoints first member of staff - EADT.   “Alison Wheeler, who has worked in the libraries industry for nearly 33 years, will become Suffolk’s Libraries IPS’ general manager next month. She is currently Suffolk County Council’s head of service development for information, advice and library services.”.
  • Surrey – Protestors ready to take library fight to High Court - Get Surrey.  ““We fear the dismantling of these libraries will be the beginning of a period of managed decline for local communities. We just can’t let this happen.” Surrey County Council now has three weeks to serve its evidence to the High Court. SLAM will then seek an injunction preventing the council making any further progress towards implementing the community partnered libraries scheme prior to the judicial review.”
  • Warwickshire – New opening hours of 16 Warwickshire libraries decided - BBC.  9000 responses to choosing between two sets of opening hours for each branch.  “In October 2011, the council said 16 other libraries would only remain open if run by community groups.”