We cannot imagine a fair, just world for all without public access to libraries”

412 libraries (323 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 are 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
  • Machias supervisor says, library’s cats have to go - Neighbour to Neighbour News.  According to library personnel present, programs involving cats began in a library near Syracuse. The idea expanded and libraries are using cats as part of their learning and enrichment programs. They conveyed their disappointment to the board, and attempted to figure out a way to continue to keep their cats.”
  • National Libraries Day logo unveiled - BookSeller.  “Librarians are being encouraged to put on author talks or workshops showcasing what the library offers, while library users are urged to get all their friends and family members to join on the day, and involve themselves in locally organised activities. Everyone is being encouraged to find ways to express what libraries and librarians mean to them, whether by tweeting, making cards or producing videos or songs.”
Occupy your library December 15th 2011
December 15th is the two-month anniversary of the start of the global occupy movement. We started by occupying spaces to build communities. Now it’s time to occupy everywhere, and we ask you to join us.

We cannot imagine a fair, just world for all without public access to libraries. A right to free education can only be ensured by a society where access to information is free for all. Occupy Wall Street lost its library. They were robbed of their books and their space. We are outraged by their loss. We know how much it meant to the movement. And we do not accept the spending cuts that are threatening our public libraries in the UK. We want to reach out and link up across the nation, to join the Library Campaign in solidarity and common struggle – and we ask you to join us to make our voices heard in unison.

Occupy your library December 15th. And call for everyone in the community to do the same. Hold an assembly, discuss, talk to passers-by, invite the local newspaper… Do whatever feels appropriate. Let’s make our voices heard together, and flood the nation with actions for a social change. OccupyLSX can help with information about what we are doing, and will have a booklet on our website http://www.occupylondon.org.uk/ very soon.”

Changes

  • Camden – 12/12/11 official recommendations to council are: Belsize Library to be given to “The Winch” (to house library/cafe/nursery/room hire/work space), Chalk Farm to be given to Primrose Hill Community Association dependent on securing £1.2 million for trust fund, Heath Library to be given to Keats Community Library Phoenix Group as library with child/young people/literacy focus.  Council funding will be (first year) £192k given to groups taking over 3 libraries plus £150k for legal/financial advice for volunteers. 
  • Westminster - Plans to allow residents/businesses to manage libraries.  

Local News 

  • Birmingham – Big City Read launched - Reading Groups.   “The Birmingham Big City Read was launched this week by S J Watson. Libraries in Birmingham are giving out 1000 copies of his novel Before I Go To Sleep to members of the public and to reading groups with the message to read it, review it and pass it on!”.
  • Brent – Fight to stop page turning on historic London library – Yahoo!. Kensal Rise: “Signs attached to the walls proclaim “Save our library” and “Let us run our library” and volunteers have even organised a temporary “pop-up” library next door to try to fill the gap, using books donated by local residents.”.  Amazing photograph of library bedecked in protest banners.  [Originally from AFP]
    • Where did the Ward Working money go? - Preston Library Campaign.  “In an era of cuts to libraries, disabled services and nurseries (to name a few), the council chose not to cut a whopping £800,000 Ward Working Fund, apparently designed to improve local areas. Just half of this could save all 6 local libraries, which more than 83% of the borough want kept open. Half of this Fund is actually spent on just admin, leaving around £20,000 per ward to be spent on essentials like flowerbeds and noticeboards.”
    • Willesden Green get another £500,000 as our libraries close - Preston Library Campaign.   “With Willesden Green library centre costing MORE than all 6 closed libraries put together, we all know where Ann John’s priorities lie. On top of the £550,000+ it spends on Willesden Green each year (which they will continue to spend even when it closes for redevelopment next spring), it turns out that Willesden Green alone will benefit from a £500,000 award from Boris Johnson’s Outer London Fund. As we lose libraries, nurseries and essential day centres for the disabled, Brent will spend this on an art installation in Willesden Green before Christmas.”
“I have books in my possession and I cannot get to the Town Hall or Kingsbury Libraries so easily. The Town Hall library is a 48 minute return walk. This figure does not include time in the library. I could use a bus which will cost me £2.60 return on an Oyster Card. I also have a back problem which limits the amount I can carry. The same journey time, carriage problems and transport costs apply to Kingsbury Plus Library. Now that we are Preston Library Minus, can you please advise me about returning my books and how your closures have improved the library service for me.” Now we are Preston Library Minus - Preston Library Campaign.

  • Camden – Future use of libraries - Camden Council.   “A report has been published recommending the future use of Belsize, Chalk Farm and Heath library buildings. As part of the library savings programme to meet the required savings of £1.6 million to the service, it was agreed by Cabinet that three libraries would be identified for alternative delivery or community use. Belsize, Chalk Farm and Heath libraries will no longer be Camden public libraries from April 2012.”
  • Croydon/Lambeth – More negotiation needed to save “much loved” Upper Norwood Library – Guardian series.   “Both councils fund the Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL) but while Lambeth claim Croydon want to end their association, Croydon has accused Lambeth of not meeting its obligations over the library. Last week, Lambeth rejected three options for the future of the library submitted by Croydon, which it said would ultimately mean the closure of the library.” … “Lambeth is suggesting for both councils hand over control, and potentially ownership, of the building to local community and library-user groups.”
  • Gloucestershire - Joint open letter to Ed Vaizey from library user groups – FoGL.  “Following the recent High Court ruling, and announcement of the select committee enquiry, it has been suggested that library user groups send a joint, open letter to the secretary of state Ed Vaizey MP, whose inaction on library cuts and closures is an ongoing cause for concern. We have penned a letter below. If your library user group would like to be included amongst the signatories, please leave the name of your group (how you would like it to appear on the letter) as a comment on this blog post before Monday 19th December. We will then add all the signatures and send the letter to Ed Vaizey. Please spread the word so as many groups as possible around the country can add their names.”
  • Oxfordshire – £1m library cuts set for approval - Henley Standard.  Long article looking into proposals to cut staffing but up to half and replace with volunteers.  Many, pessimistic, quotes from campaigners. “Ros Varnes, who chairs the Friends of Sonning Common Library, said: “We’re very disappointed. It’s not what we asked for. We said from the outset that the only fair way of dealing with this was to spread the cuts across the county’s library service, not single out ones for more cuts than others. We don’t think the council has really thought it through but they seem to be patting themselves on the back. “
  • Trafford – Campaigners to fight council plans to replace librarians with volunteers - Manchester Evening News.  “Now 23 community leaders – representing scores of different voluntary groups – have teamed up and sent an open letter to all councillors calling on them to scrap their ‘unpopular’ plans for the facility in Old Trafford. They have vowed not to co-operate with any move that would see paid roles scrapped and replaced by volunteers at the library. Among the signatures are ex-Inspiral Carpets frontman Tom Hingley, Joe Malaika from Trafford Peace Week and Barbara Bleeker of Trafford Volunteer Centre, currently up for a local volunteer of the year award.”
  • Warwickshire – A survey ends into Warwickshire library opening hours - BBC.   “By the end of the third week of consultation, 4,667 people had completed and returned a survey, according to the Council.”
  • Westminster – Council to draft “civic contracts” for benefit recipients - Guardian.  “Unemployed people will have to prove they are actively volunteering in the community in order to qualify for certain welfare benefits and social housing under “civic contract” proposals drawn up by a Conservative local authority.”…”A series of big society-style “urban citizenship” proposals outlined in the document would give residents and local businesses the power to take over the running and management of public parks, libraries and streets, to create “strong unified neighbourhoods where civic responsibility prevails”.”

I like libraries, love libraries

412 libraries (323 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 are 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

  • Allan Bennett warns over tuition fees - BBC.  Lawnswood School dedicated its library to the writer after he emerged as a vocal campaigner against public library cuts.”…”Plans to shut local libraries were “wrong and very short-sighted”, Bennett said, adding: “We’re impoverishing young people.”
  • I Like Libraries - @Ilikelibraries, Twitter.  “Here to raise money to save libraries in the near future, the first project will emerge in January,anyone wanting money to save libraries please contact me!”
  • Love Libraries -  “Love Libraries is an independent website dedicated to supporting and promoting the exciting things going on in UK Libraries. From book groups and advice sessions to performing arts and live gigs: there is much to be enthused about. We Love Libraries, and we’re pretty sure you do to.”.  Website is affiliated to “Get it Loud in Libraries“. 
  • Mayor of London to recruit “library champions” to boost library services - Government Business.   “£100,000 is being invested to develop the Team London ‘Love Libraries’ scheme, which will see people recruited over the next six months to help provide a range of library based activities in at least ten boroughs. This includes supporting Londoners of all ages with reading and literacy, helping to set up reading groups and people to get online, including for help with job searches, skills and education.”
  • Rex Libris - “Follow the story of Rex Libris, the tough-as-nails Head Librarian at Middleton Public Library, and his unending struggle against the forces of darkness. Wearing his distinctive, super-thick bottle glasses and armed with an arsenal of powerful weapons, he strikes fear into recalcitrant borrowers, and can take on virtually any foe, from loitering zombies to fleeing alien warlords who refuse to pay their late fees…”. [Only one copy left for Christmas presents]
  • Warner Brothers to delay release of popular DVDs to libraries - Cleveland (USA).   “Warner Home Video recently announced it will no longer distribute theatrical released movies to public libraries or home video rental stores until 28 days after the movies have been on sale in retail stores.”
  • We need libraries (new version) - One Man And His Beard.  The previous library campaigning song from the man who will be releasing a new song, “We Need Libraries” for National Libraries Day.

Changes

Peterborough - Audiobooks on MP3 to be available at two branches.  

Local News

  • Brighton and Hove – Festive shutdown at libraries - Argus.   “A spokesman for the local authority said the libraries always close during this period with all staff on holiday between Christmas and New Year. But some residents have asked why the public service is not available during the holidays when other council- run libraries in Sussex are.” 
  • Doncaster – Parish council in bid to take over threatened library - Doncaster Free Press.  Edenthorpe parish council may aid in taking over its library, soon to have its funding withdrawn from the council.  However, ““We have contacted DMBC about issues such if we would be expected to provide computers and pay licences for the use of equipment and the council has never come up with answers – and we just can’t go into things blind. We also can’t go the community asking for money without knowing what the true costings are.””
  • Oxfordshire – Hope on horizon for village library - Thame Gazette.   Chinnoor Library to be staffed 2/3 by paid staff, 1/3 by volunteers.  ““We have come up with a model which would still see all 43 libraries remain open and, if the proposal is approved, it would be up to the community in some areas to come forward and assist in the future with the staffing of some libraries. “We are certainly a million miles away from where we were 12 months ago, when we were proposing to cease funding 20 libraries.”
  • Peterborough – Audiobook service to start in libraries - Evening Telegraph.   “…enthusiasts will soon be able to download a wide selection of audiobooks from Stanground and Woodston libraries.A new audiobook service is being set up by library managers Vivacity Peterborough in the coming weeks.”

Looking forward to what?

Comment
Public Libraries News gained its 200,000th view at some point this morning.  This was over, roughly, one year. Thanks to everyone for their interest, not of course in this blog, but in public libraries. It’s been a traumatic year.  Let’s hope that this blog gets less “hits” next year, because one suspects that that would mean that things are getting better for public libraries … and that’s important not just for them but for the health of the whole country.
412 libraries (323 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 are 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

  • About the concept -Cycling for Libraries. “a politically and economically independent international unconference and a bicycle tour. Cycling for libraries is an independent event, not organized by any existing formal organization. It is made possible by a sovereign, international network of library enthusiasts.”
  • Alan Bennett: Playwright returns to Leeds school - Yorkshire Evening Post.  “Armley-born playwright Alan Bennett dropped in at Lawnswood School, in Otley Road, Lawnswood, to unveil a plaque that named their library after him. The History Boys writer spoke of his delight at the honour, while re-iterating his statement on the closing of public libraries as being “child abuse”. The 77-year-old told the YEP: “I am happy and very glad to be able to do this particularly at a time when libraries are under threat. “They read books in different ways now and I still read proper books, I don’t read Kindle because aesthetically I prefer it. It doesn’t matter how you read as long as you do read.”
  • Best-selling write Julia Donaldson on her bid to get children reading - Daily Record.  “The 63-year-old remembers visiting her local library and being inspired by the books she picked up. Now, as Children’s Laureate, she’s campaigning hard to make sure future generations are still able to visit libraries, which face closure in the face of spending cuts. “They’re especially important for children and their use of libraries has gone up over the last five or six years,” she said.”
  • Get it Loud in Libraries -  Music and libraries do go together.  “Get It Loud In Libraries is a unique award winning project – it is the Love Libraries Award 2007 winner-designed to give people, especially young people who love music, a damn good time in a library; libraries across Lancashire if you are someone who cares for the small details.”.  Around four music events per month in (mainly) Lancashire and London.
  • Philip Pullman tackles cavalier councils - Bexley Times.  Summary of the author’s library campaign to date.  “I am a citizen as well as a writer, I hope I’d be speaking out whatever job I had,” he says. “What I do for a living gives me a bit of a name so people notice when I speak, but I feel I should do it as a citizen rather than as a writer.”

Changes

Derby – £1.28m library in Chaddesdem building work to start June 2012.  
Trafford – Campaign group: Hands Off Old Trafford Library (H.O.O.T. Library, @hootlibrary, Facebook).

Local News

  • Brent – Saturday 10th Carols at Cricklewood Library - Save Kensal Rise Library.  “Wrap up warm and join us at our celebration of the season and of our library. Just turn up on Saturday outside the library – we will be singing a few carols led by Sonja – launching a free ‘pop-up’ library in the  space outside the library – decorating our campaign Christmas Tree with children’s drawings. Includes the launch of Cricklewood ‘pop-up’ library, children’s drawings, seasonal drinks – non-alcoholic punch and other soft drinks available.”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Deal over library not ruled out - This is Croydon.   “Sara Bashford, the council’s cabinet for culture and sport, told Monday’s council meeting: “If they come back with a suggestion that is workable we will look at it.”.  Both sides continue to blame the other for the impending closure of one of the most efficiently run libraries in London.
  • Derby – Building date for new £1.28m library - This is Derbyshire.   “Work to build a replacement library in Chaddesden will start in June next year. Derby City Council’s planning committee approved plans for the long-awaited library in May. After several consultations, the authority decided to site the £1.28 million building next to the bowls green in Chaddesden Park.
  • Gloucestershire – Have your say on new library service scheme - This is Glos.  “Members of the authority’s cabinet will meet to confirm the details of the draft library plans on January 20. If they agree, a public consultation to gather feedback on the proposals will start soon after. Exact dates and details will be publicised closer to the time, but the consultation is expected to last six weeks.”
    • County Council Cabinet snubs libraries meeting - FoGL via Alan Gibbons.   “The email also stated that draft plans are being drawn up now and that the GCC Cabinet will meet to confirm them on 20th January. This seems very rushed, especially given the holiday period. We cannot understand why a meeting to be held only a month before this date could be deemed as “premature”. We feel that Gloucestershire County Council is once again failing to engage with library users and we are extremely concerned, as it was this failure to listen to our concerns about their previous plans that led the Courts to declare them unlawful with a bill of £100,000 for tax payers.”
  • Suffolk – Beccles library officer helps thwart internet scam - Norwich Evening News.   “Inquiry officer at the Blyburgate-based library, Nicky Bedwell, helped to stop the website cloning scam after being alerted to it by regular user Hugh Blowers, after he tried to access his friend’s Yorkshire holiday let website.”
  • Surrey – New Surrey County Council leader: ‘We must be strong enough to see when we have gone wrong – This is Surrey Today.  “But while many predicted the decision to scrap county-wide proposals for on-street town centre parking charges, few foresaw the decision to reinstate professional part-time workers at libraries threatened with closure.”… “Cllr Hodge added he was aware of what he saw as a vocal minority in the public gallery when “unpopular” decisions were made, but he did not set too much store by them. He added: “You’ve got to accept there are times when people are not happy with a decision you’ve made. “When there was a reaction from the public gallery about libraries, my reaction was those people had a passion and a right to their point of view.”
  • Trafford – Looking forward to what?  The threat to Old Trafford Library - Hands off Old Trafford Library (H.O.O.T. Library).   Group objects to council plans for volunteer-run library as (a) in area of multiple deprivation, (b) library staff are friends and neighbours and should not be replaced, (c) not viable or sustainable, (d) choice of Old Trafford for this is arbitrary and unfair.

“Old Trafford has a magnificent tradition of volunteering and community activism. Resident volunteers in this neighbourhood have established many innovative and successful voluntary projects, and we are rightly proud of our countless achievements. However we are also quite clear about the role and purpose of the community and voluntary sector in Old Trafford: it is to complement and enhance the work of statutory services, to improve the quality of life for individuals and communities in our local area. Our role is definitely not to enable employers to make our friends, colleagues and neighbours redundant and replace them with unpaid volunteers.” 

It’s not just the books, it’s the place

412 libraries (323 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 are 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

  • Alan Bennett on libraries - Radio Five Live.  His school library has been renamed the “Alan Bennett Library”.  “A library shouldn’t be intimidating.  It should be inviting and tempt you to read. …. ”
“Q:  What do you make of the current situation?
“Alan Bennett: Well, I think the authorities – and it’s not particularly a political matter although it obviously stems from the policies of the government but  in not quite a political way – I think they have been taken aback by the reaction of people and the affection that people have for libraries and the fact that they have such  a place in the community – and it is in the community.  Cities, towns tend to say “oh well we built this wonderful new central library and so we are doing out bit for libraries but that’s not the point.  A library should be local.  It’s a place where particularly the young should be able to go because it’s a place where they won’t be interrupted or there won’t be other people coming in.  People don’t believe that there are poor children now but there are and they need libraries for a place to go and read.  It’s not just the books, it’s the place.”

  • House of Lords (Hansard) – They Work For You.  “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to improve access to libraries in the light of research by the National Literacy Trust published on 1 December about low levels of book ownership by children.” – Answers (a) Summer Reading Challenge [this is actually nothing to do with the Government, rather it is entirely funded by local authorities subscribing to it - but the Government still l takes credit for it twice in the answers], (b) ACE libraries development initiative [£200k in total.max £20k per project].  Government does not know how many libraries closed this year [they don't know about this page]
“My Lords, my noble friend has a very good point. Recycling books, especially the low-cost books that one can now get on Amazon, is a great help to public libraries [Huh? Ed.]. However, people do not go to public libraries just for books. Libraries offer a way of life, encouraging reading in every way and providing solace for some people who may not have it at home.”

  • National Libraries DayTwibbon.  “National Libraries Day on February 4th will be a nationwide celebration of libraries, library users, librarians & library staff in all sectors.”.  All information currently known on National Libraries Day is here.  

Changes

Cumbria – Fox and Hounds Pub (Ennerdale) will have 100 council-supplied books, hoping others will be donated.  
Doncaster - Carcroft and Denaby Libraries to close before Christmas
Gloucestershire - Library proposals to be announced 20/1/12.  
Herefordshire - Libraries may be run by a Trust or other external body.
Redbridge – £500k to be spent on self-service in order to be able to cut staff at Ilford Central Library to help meet budget cut of £620k by 2014.

Local News

  • Caerphilly – Risca Palace cinema reopens as library and Caerphilly Council offices - BBC.  “The authority will run a library, customer services, a youth space, meeting rooms and more at the premises as part of an ongoing drive to regenerate Risca…. Allan Pritchard, leader of Caerphilly council, hailed the new library and council offices as the “best of breed”.”
  • Cumbria – Ales of the unexpected as pub opens library - Copeland Community Fund.   “Volunteers will also be offering an out-reach library service, as well as IT sessions each Tuesday at the pub, to help members use the library’s online catalogues. Peter Maher, project manager, said: “Our emphasis is to try and return community services, and the library is a small step. Reading is important and a library is a great community resource. Ours is an interesting model!’’  “
  • Doncaster – Libraries to close for final time - Thorne and District Gazette.  “A proposal to axe over half of the borough’s 26 libraries in the borough was announced by the council after it was revealed several of the sites had a dwindling number of customers.  The move has led to several protests across those areas affected including a campaign group called Save Doncaster Libraries being formed.”
Library users across the county are extremely disappointed to learn that Council Leader Mark Hawthorne, and indeed the whole of GCC administration, have declined an invite to an open public meeting on the 14th of December to discuss the future of our libraries. Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries members have worked hard to organize the meeting and found an  an independent chair, in an independent venue in the hope that bridges could be built and that open, transparent dialogue could be started. Not a single representative from the library service or the cabinet will be attending.  They say a meeting is “premature”. We would argue that is a year too late. If they had engaged with us and listened to us in the first place a costly court case would have been avoided. Are GCC really going to make the same mistakes again? We fear so.Gloucestershire – Statement – FoGL.

“Further to my previous email, Gloucestershire County Council’s new library proposals are due to be announced 20th January. This is clearly very rushed. (especially when you take into consideration the holiday period).  We find it astonishing that the Council deems meeting with us just over a month before this date to be “premature”. Chris White of the LGA said that people should engage with their County Councilors. Well, we have tried time and again. Now what? ” FoGL

 

“These community libraries hardly seem like libraries at all”

Comment

Reports are coming in that Somerset will keep open all the libraries, including mobile libraries, that it had intended to close before it lost the court case.  It is notable that the Council has said that it will not reduce the cuts that need to be made.   This is going to be challenging for its library service – £1.35m over four years is a lot – but at least it will be done with due regard to local communities and, let’s not forget, the law. 
More figures from Lewisham shed more light on the success or otherwise of it’s libraries withdrawn from council control.  Even it’s own council report accepts that the move has had “a negative impact on performance”.  The figures show that while visitors are recovering after a plummet at the time of changeover, the borrowing of books is bumping along the bottom at around a loss of two-thirds.  This despite the council giving one organisation £230,000 for the running of one branch.  It looks awfully like that these places (three of whom are now run by Eco Computer Systems, one by Age UK and the last by what appears to be a very brave and motivated bunch of volunteers blackmailed into it) are becoming more community/recycling centres than libraries.  There may be other (hardly less worrying) reasons for this – such as insufficiently trained volunteers and one library apparently only currently open in a basement while refurbishment goes on – but, however one plays it, it is hardly a glowing testimonial for the Big Society.

[First sentence changed slightly due to comment]

412 libraries (323 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 are 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

  • Hey girl, I like the library too - Tumblr (USA).  Pictures of Ryan Gosling saying pro-library chat-up lines inc.  “Hey girl, sorry to bother you, but can you tell me classification number for love at first sight?”, “Hey girl, I’ve never had an overdue fine, you know that, don’t you girl?”,  “Hey girl, I forgot my library card, if I gave you my phone number, could you look me up?”.
  • Illuminating libraries - Linda Cracknell.  “My latest radio play ‘The Lamp’ goes out on BBC Radio Four on 14th December, and has special status as ‘Play Of The Week’ which means that it will also be available as a podcast from Friday 16th for seven days. It was recorded on location at Perthshire’s charming Library of Innerpeffray at the beginning of November…”
  • Kenya camel libraryBBC.   Eight amazing pictures of camels, indeed, carrying library books, with commentary.  “The Camel Mobile Library was set up by the government-owned Kenya National Library Service to improve literacy rates in the north-east. Ships of the desert are the best way to travel in the Garissa area, some 400km from the capital, Nairobi.”
  • Two-thirds “fail new primary phonics reading check” - BBC.  “The test-run of a new primary school reading check suggests two-thirds of pupils are likely to fail it when it is introduced in England next year. Government statistics show just 32% of the six-year-olds in 300 schools who took the test last summer passed it.”
  • Why do people rally to save libraries but not museums -  Open Objects. Fascinating piece with lots of answers inc (1) libraries are seen as more under threat, (2) reading is personal and interactive, museums are passive and instructive (3) people regularly visit libraries, (4) higher staff/public interaction, (5) “libraries have takeaway”, (6) libraries are more used than museums, (7) libraries are part of a person’s identity, libraries are “ours”, (8) impact of library closing has far deeper impact on a community than a museum closing, (9) library free gathering places for all.
  • Why library closures are a catastropheTimes (Caitlin Moran), behind paywall.  “A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. On a cold, rainy island, they are the only sheltered public spaces where you are not a consumer, but a citizen instead. A human with a brain and a heart and a desire to be uplifted, rather than a customer with a credit card and an inchoate “need” for “stuff”.”

Changes - 

Devon – Opening of replacement St Thomas Library (Exeter) delayed until at least Feb 2012 as original building to be used as shops. Totnes Library to be relocated to larger building.
Hertfordshire – Petition to save School Library Service
Redbridge - Libraries part of Vision Trust since May 2011 £16,000 from Council (not Trust) for safety  improvements at Wanstead and Woodford Green.
Somerset -  11 branches and 4 mobiles are now safe from closure, following court case.  £1.35m cut in libraries over four years is still, however, in force.
Telford & Wrekin - Dawley library to keep its opening hours due to £3200 p.a. contribution for two years from parish council

Local News

  • Brent – Council library fight sum doubles in three months - Harrow Observer.  The authority’s legal costs have rocketed from £70,532 in September to more than £150,000, after it took on the Brent SOS library campaign group all the way to the Court of Appeal. The figures have been uncovered by Sagar Shah, 31, who is setting up his own watch dog organisation called Brent Watch.”
  • Conwy – Council plea for views over future of library service - North Wales Weekly News.  Cllr Geoff Shepherd, town councillor in Llanfairfechan has been behind a 600 name petition to save his local library. Town councillors in the quarry village are confident they have identified a suitable derelict building to move the library into. Ms Jackson said feedback from meetings with councils and community groups would be forwarded to Conwy council cabinet meeting on Tuesday December 13. Representatives from Conwy council agreed to a battle plan over the future of libraries last week. Plans may see libraries in smaller communities moved in to schools or community buildings run by volunteers. They will be open for 15 hours a week and will be given £20,000 towards equipment.
  • Darlington – Call for public input as Cockerton Library faces closure - Northern Echo.  “Eight councillors from three different wards are asking for public input into what could be the final chapter of a village library. A public meeting will be held for the 10,000 users of Cockerton library to give their views about the potential closure of the facility because of council cuts.” 
  • Devon – Anger over lack of new library - This is Exeter.  St Thomas library delayed as site sold off for shops.  “Planning permission was originally granted for a redevelopment of the site, which resulted in the demolition of the old St Thomas library, on the condition that a new library was provided. But Devon County Council and the developers failed to reach agreement over rent charges, and the deal fell through. As reported in the Echo, the county council is looking for a site to build a new, permanent library.”
    • Totnes residents asked for their library ideas - This is South Devon.   “A public consultation is being launched next week to get views from residents in Totnes about what they would like to see in their new library. Last month Devon County Council announced plans to relocate the library to The Mansion in the town because the current library building is too small and unsuitable for the 21st century service the Council wants to provide.” … “”The Mansion will provide one of the most calm and beautiful locations to site a library, with the top floor giving views to complement the added value of books.”
  • Gloucestershire – Meeting to discuss ruling on libraries - This is Glos.   “Library campaigners have called a public meeting to discuss the High Court judgement about the county’s service earlier this month.Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FOGL) plan to discuss the ruling that stopped Shire Hall’s cuts plan in its tracks.”
  • Hertfordshire – Future of Herts School Libraries Service  – Hertfordshire County Council Petition. “We think it is too important and too valuable to close and we are concerned about the lack of notice and consultation on this decision. We ask councillors not to ratify it in December but to please take time to explore alternative funding sources and to see if there is a way to keep providing it.” 
  • Kent – Local reviews for libraries - This is Kent.   “It could result in the closure of existing buildings as libraries are forced to share spaces with other agencies such as parish councils. The county council is also exploring the option of handing libraries over to communities to be run by volunteers.”
  • Lewisham – Healthier Communities Select CommitteeLewisham Council.   “Overall, Libraries’ performance has been disappointing over the past seven months. This is due in part to the extent, and timing of the changes to the Service. Issues and visits have been adversely affected by the Service-wide staff restructuring which took place simultaneously with the implementation of new technologies and working practises. However, there are signs that performance is beginning to improve and the staff team are fully committed to ensuring that it continues to do so.”  … “It should be noted that Blackheath reopened last August in temporary accommodation while their new centre is being developed. The work is scheduled for completion in October 2012, when full community library provision will resume.”  Charts (below) appear to show that while visitors are recovering, issues are being wiped out – is this the problem with computer system, improperly trained volunteers or a fundamental change from a library into something more similar to a community centre?

“This report updates Members on the progress of the Community Library
Services and details the major service changes that have been
implemented during 2011/12. The programme of change has had a
negative impact on performance, but the Service remains confident that
the next year will see a significant improvement in Service delivery once
the transformation of the Service is fully embedded.”
“These community libraries hardly seem like libraries at all” Lewisham campaigner (in email).
  • Redbridge – Cash boost for library upgrade - Guardian series.  “More than £5,000 will be spent at Wanstead Library and Woodford Green Library improving safety and infrastructure. The money is part of a £130,000 council grant for improvements to open spaces, libraries and recreational facilities across the borough. In total, Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure will spend around £84,000 on parks, around £30,000 on sports and recreation and over £16,000 on libraries.”
  • Somerset – Library cuts reversed in Somerset - BookSeller.   “Somerset County Council has confirmed it is reversing its library cuts programme following the High Court judgement at judicial review in November that it had breached equalities legislation. According to a press report on local news site Yeovil People, the council has confirmed that plans to cut funding for 11 Somerset libraries have now been halted, while opening hours in 23 libraries, reduced by 20% in recent months, will be reinstated. The mobile library service, reduced from six vehicles to two, is also being reinstated. A council spokesman said: “We accept the [High Court] judgement and are working on reinstating services.” However he added: “The council still needs to consider the future funding of the library service in light of the current financial climate and the fact that all other services are being reviewed over the next 18 months, remembering that we were aiming to save £1.35m over three years.”. Quote Yeovil People article offline at time of checking but including words “The council this week confirmed its plans to cut funding for 11 Somerset libraries have been halted and opening hours in 23 libraries – which had been reduced by 20 per cent in recent months – will be reinstated.  The council is also reinstating its mobile library service – which had been reduced from six vehicles to just two.”
  • Telford & Wrekin – Council will pay £3,000 to keep Dawley library hours - Shropshire Star.   Dawley Parish Council to pay to keep library at 21 hours per week, rather than proposed cut to 16 hours. 

Privatising Libraries … and “feeling the punch”

Comment

A short while ago I did an article for CILIP Update magazine on the privatising libraries of public libraries.  It’s only been available to members of that professional body up until now but I figure it may be of use to those worried (or excited) about the taking over of public libraries by private companies.  So, click here and have a read.  There’s also another page on privatising libraries on the link to the right. If you want to correct anything or have a thought to add, let me know.  The whole point of Public Libraries News is to make as much information on the subject of what is happening to public libraries freely accessible to everyone so get in touch.  After all, knowledge is power, and public libraries right now need all the power they can get.

427 libraries (334 buildings and 93 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 are 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
  • A London secret shared - Stephen Fry.   “I know that municipal libraries are feeling the pinch horribly. Feeling the punch might be more accurate, right in the solar plexus, and of course many of us are anxious to believe that public libraries have a real future in the internet age. The London Library may seem like an elitist enclave, but actually it is just another example of what great cities can achieve over time and can keep alive with care and continuity. Its existence isn’t a threat and never has been, to public libraries, or to the great British Library in St. Pancras. It costs no more than many gyms, and what gyms can do for your body, this magical place can do for your mind.”
  • Call for contibutionsVoices for the Library.  If you have evidence that would be useful for the Select Committee on Library closures and don’t want to send it in yourself, contribute it to the effort from Voices. 
  • Could do better: Latest overview of adult literacy in the UK - National Literacy Trust.   “The fundamental challenge posed by the report is how are we to support the literacy of the 5.1 million adults (15%) who still read below the level the National Curriculum expects of 11 year olds? These seem to have been only slightly impacted by the push of the past decade.”
  • CWA to launch readers’ intiative - BookSeller.  Crime Writers’ Association: “Crime Writing Month further underlines the point. Running it over a month will allow members to take part in more events than ever, getting out to meet their readers and support their local libraries. The CWA has long been concerned about the threat to libraries and Crime Writing Month will allow us to champion them as they face cutbacks. The month should be a really exciting event.””
  • Give the gift of reading this Christmas - National Literacy Trust.   “Sadly one in three children in the UK does not have books of their own. The National Literacy Trust is working with children in disadvantaged areas, inspiring them to develop a love of reading and giving them the chance to own a book. By helping these children to develop vital literacy skills we are increasing their chances of being happy and successful in adult life.”
  • Mayor of London launches Team London “love libraries” scheme - eGov Monitor.   “The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today announced that he wants to recruit 2,000 ‘Library Champions’ under a new Team London programme designed to help local communities get even more out of their local library through new services and activities. £100,000 is being invested to develop the Team London ‘Love Libraries’ scheme, which will see people recruited over the next six months to help provide a range of library based activities in at least ten boroughs. This includes supporting Londoners of all ages with reading and literacy, helping to set up reading groups and people to get online, including for help with job searches, skills and education.” 
“‘Public libraries offer a fantastic range of books to inspire and open minds, just as great Victorian philanthropists like Carnegie envisaged. Today they also can help with a host of other invaluable activities and services, such as reading support, free internet access and even help with job searching. Our Team London Love Libraries volunteers will help these great institutions share their valuable knowledge and information, building on the excellent work they already do and, I hope, strengthening their place at the heart of our communities.’” Boris Johnson.

  • No change to Libraries Act: Minister - Toronto Sun (Canada). “Ontario’s minister of culture has closed the book on any suggestion of changing the Public Libraries Act to allow the City of Toronto to charge fees. “We’re not going to entertain this possibility,” Michael Chan said Tuesday.”.  NB. this is for charging for DVDs, something perfectly legal for libraries to do in UK. 
  • World Book night aims for international expansion - BookSeller.  “The Canongate m.d.’s ambition for major expansion of the event’s international reach was declared at a Downing Street reception last night (6th December), alongside the news that half of the one million books to be given away in the UK in 2012 (April 23rd) will be distributed directly to prisons, hospitals and disadvantaged communities.”

Changes

Local News

  • Birmingham – Community libraries to escape closure but hours will be cut - Birmingham Post. No libraries to close.  23 libraries only to be open for four days per week. ““For years nothing was spent on community libraries. But this council administration is investing. “We are mending leaky roofs in buildings where buckets used to be placed to stop water ruining the books.”
  • Bolton – Blueprints in bid to save library - Bolton News.  “Residents were invited to submit blueprints detailing how they would keep open one of the five libraries, including Astley Bridge, Oxford Grove, Heaton, Highfield and Castle Hill, that are faced with closure.”.  Astley Bridge library was the only one to generate sufficient interest. 
  • Cambridgeshire – Library friends groups recognised at special event - Focus on Bar Hill.  On 9 December  a Friends Recognition event will be held to celebrate the hard work of the 20 current Friends Groups and welcome the 10 new groups that have been formed this  year. Attendees will share some of their successes and advice.”
  • Conwy – Fresh hope for area’s libraries - North Wales Pioneer.  Proposals for cuts include volunteer-run branches and others merged.
  • Croydon/Lambeth – Upper Norwood Library under threat as Croydon councillors plan to end their share of funding - East London Times.   ““In all my years as a Croydon councillor I have never experienced such appalling behaviour as that displayed in recent months by the present administration concerning the Upper Norwood library.” The debate has already generated huge public opposition, with one citizen being asked to leave the council meeting when he protested by  refusing to stand for the mayor. Others were holding placards saying ‘save our library’ and ‘ask what the people from Croydon think’.”
  • Derbyshire – Another step towards new £2.4m libraryAshbroune News Telegraph.   “Should the proposed new building, in Compton, be given the go-ahead, it will replace the former health centre and enable Derbyshire County Council’s library bosses to stock more books, DVDs and computers as well as contain a better children’s library and space for community activities.”
  • Gloucestershire – Review of library services: let’s help them get it right - FoGL.   “As part of ongoing efforts to ensure GCC do a better job this time round of formulating plans for our library service, former Assistant Head of the Gloucestershire library service and FoGL member John Holland has prepared a guidance document for a review of the service.”.  Eminently sensible proposals for how the council should do a review are then listed, with reference to the 2009 Wirral report and guidance by Ed Vaizey.
    • Big fat fibs and the big fat fibbers that tell them - An awfully big blog adventure.   “Councillor Hawthorne may not have been deliberately lying; but he certainly wasn’t telling the truth. And there’s no evidence that he’s retracted his assertions – in fact, all the public statements I’ve seen from the council suggest to me that they see the High Court judgement as a minor inconvenience, a “small technical point” to be worked around.  So the question I’ve been asking is: is this man really fit to be in charge of our public services?”
“And besides, as we all know, “fib” is just an acronym for “Forgotten the Importance of Books”.”

  • Hertfordshire – Schools library service to close in March 2012 - We Heart Libraries.  “The possible closure of the service is due to be discussed at the Hertfordshire Local and Libraries Panel meeting at County Hall tomorrow. Get more information here. A report to the meeting explains how the SLS must cover its costs by trading its services to schools – but fewer schools are currently buying in, with cost seen as a major factor behind this.” 
    • Hertford’s new library to open in New Year - Mercury.   The official opening ceremony is scheduled to take place a week later on Thursday January 19 and due to be attended by MP Ed Vaizey, the Conservative minister for culture, communications and creative industries.”.  “The new library will have a better layout, children’s area, wider selection of stock, more public computers, toilets, baby changing facilities and space to offer for events and activities”
  • Lewisham – Ex Libraries - BlackHeath Bugle.   Looking at drastic decline in usage figures for libraries given away by council.  Labour councillor defends decision in comments then gets rounded upon by others for giving away £230,000 of public money to a charity (Age UK).
    • “Catastrophic” drop in Lewisham library lending - Brockley Central.  Reports on BookSeller article.  Comments defend move away from council control.  Later commenter says volunteers not trained in how to join people and so had to go to a council library instead to join.  Withdrawn library volunteer then did not know how to tell if a reserved book had come in. 
“”On the Lewisham stats, I think part of the issue is very poor usage/updating of the library system by undertrained volunteers etc. I borrowed two books from the New Cross ‘community’ library and after a few days they hadn’t appeared on my online library account. On returning one book to the central library I asked about this – the assistant rolled their eyes and explained they’d had a lot of problems at New Cross (I didn’t ask about the other outsourced libraries). They’re supposed to regularly sync their issues with the system but over three weeks later the other book still isn’t on my record. If I wanted I could keep it. Apparently I also need to keep an eye on my account as they might sync the issue after I return the book… I’m not arguing that usage hasn’t dropped, but that lack of training/experience does mean the stats are likely to be far below reality. In the near future I think lost item stats for the affected libraries will make interesting reading.

  • Trafford – Council to cut further 100 jobs - BBC.   “The Tory-run council hopes volunteers can be used in libraries and parks to help make some of the savings and protect frontline staffing.”… “when it came to running the libraries with volunteers they would receive full support and training.”
  • Welwyn Hatfield – Decision day for Hatfield library services - Times 24.   “Services at the Central Resources Library, in New Barnfield, are set to be relocated as part of the council and Veolia Environmental Services’ plans to build a 380,000 tonne waste-burning facility on the land. The move would see collections at the facility split between two locations in WGC, with the Central Reference collection heading to WGC Library at Campus West, which is currently being refurbished in anticipation of the move.

Trafford threatens 5 out of 15

427 libraries (334 buildings and 93 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 are 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

“Caroline Nokes: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many county councils charge for the borrowing of audio books from libraries. [84869] Mr Vaizey: The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 prevents libraries from charging for the loan of material in a form which is readable without the use of electronic apparatus. Library authorities can therefore lawfully charge to lend audio books and other audio-visual material (music, films etc.).” Hansard: 5th December. [This also, alarmingly, means that there is no protection for ebooks and, indeed, one library authority has already started charging for them - Ed]

Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many (a) museums and art galleries, (b) music teachers and schools, (c) ballet and dance schools, (d) theatres and concert halls, (e) drama schools and (f) libraries he expects to be operational in each of the English regions in each of the next four years. [84492] Mr Vaizey: The Department has not made any estimate of future numbers of museums and art galleries; music teachers and schools; ballet and dance schools; theatre and concert halls; drama schools and libraries.” Hansard, 5th December.  
  • Give a child a book for Christmas: the gift is solace and companionship - Independent (Terence Blacker).  Owning a physical printed book can provide escape, solace and companionship to a child: the right book, given for Christmas, will be remembered down the years. As for those children with no books on the shelves at home, the adult world can provide a simple, lasting gift for Christmas: an end to the destruction of our libraries.”
  • To the residents of Simi Valley - Save Santa Clarita Libraries (USA).   Yes it is privatization ! : “It has not been easy and we’re still waiting to see if the UK is ready yet for the idea of library privatisation,” said its chief executive Brad King, who also admitted the UK apparently is not ready, although LSSI is,… for profits that is….This website was created to show the lack of transparency by our city leaders in Santa Clarita regarding its library privatization and to expose the rushed, almost silent process, by which our libraries were handed over to LSSI by a $19 million contract.”

Changes

Brent – Council has spent £154k on legal costs trying to close librraies.  Cost of redundancy of sacked staff was £258k.
Telford & Wrekin - £330k cut by 2014, parish councils being asked for donations. Cuts in opening hours.
Trafford – 5 (out of 15) – Mobile library service to be stopped (previously to be run by volunteers) and Bowfell and Greatstone libraries to be entirely unstaffed (self-service only), Hale and Old Trafford libraries to be run by volunteers (Old Trafford has 2011 had major refurbishment of children’s library). CDs lending to be stoppedEbooks to be introduced. Talking books to become free

Local News

  • Bath and North East Somerset - Somerset residents to save mobile libraries - BBC.  Bath and North East Somerset (Banes) Council is proposing to scrap all mobile services from April 2012 as part of its planned £12m spending cuts.But local residents are “shocked” by plans to end the “valuable” service and are campaigning to save it.”
  • Brent – Council’s library legal costs double – Press release from Lib Dem group, Brent. Brent Council has now clocked up legal costs of £154,837.04 as a result of its decision to close half of Brent’s libraries. The sum has more than doubled in the three months since September when the council announced it has spent £70,532.60.  Liberal Democrat group Leader and libraries campaigner Paul Lorber said: “This is a shocking. It is a huge waste of public money which could have been avoided if Cllr Ann John and her fellow Labour councillors had been prepared to act reasonably. They could have sat down with the local community and discussed how best to work in partnership. Instead they chose to force through their plan to axe half our libraries and only the intervention of a judge will make them listen.”In October the council admitted that the cost of sacking library staff and paying redundancy costs was a staggering £258,411.89.”
  • Four legged friend joins Kensal Rise library campaign – Harrow Observer.  “A content cat has joined the swathes of local residents fighting to save the library, which is under threat along with five others in the borough. The pet, who is thought to be called ‘Rusty’ and lives on College Road, has been going to the pop-up library every day when its owners to go work, in a bid to keep volunteers warm.”
  • Gloucestershire - Briefing note from Public Interest Lawyers: Gloucestershire libraries ruling - FoGL. Excellent legal briefing on the court judgement, too long to summarise here.  “In quashing all relevant decisions, they have been made a nullity.  It is as if the decisions were never made in the first place.  That is the position that prevails now.  In the absence of these decisions, library services in Gloucestershire must be run in accordance with the Council’s previous decisions – as to budget, opening hours, range of services, number of fixed and mobile facilities, ownership etc.This doesn’t of course insulate libraries from future decisions.”
  • Hampshire – Public consultation: changes to library opening hours - About My Area.  “Hampshire’s Library Service is holding a public consultation into changes to library opening hours as part of the next phase of its restructure and we would like you to help shape future decisions. Anyone wishing to comment about these proposed changes should do so before the consultation ends on Wednesday 28 December. You can do this online or at your local library.”
  • Lewisham – “Catastrophic” plunge in lending at Lewisham’s community libraries - BookSeller. “Lewisham library campaigner Peter Richardson said: “We’re shocked at the paucity of the issues in these community libraries. We were anticipating a drop but such a drop is catastrophic and has implications for the service as a whole. We’re concerned about the two-tier system now extant, which is a breach of the 1964 Act.” 
  • Telford & Wrekin – Libraries face cuts to hours - Shropshire Star.  “The borough council is now approaching parish councils for money to bridge the gap but bosses were turned away by councillors in Donnington at a meeting last night after asking for more than £7,000.”
  • Trafford – Looking forward: options for the future of Trafford’s libraries - Trafford Council.   Age UK taking over home library service, mobile library to be stopped, Bowfell and Greatstone: “The proposal is to withdraw the staffing from these two libraries and have them on self service all the time. We will ensure that some staff time is spent maintaining the stock and self service machines but there will be no set time when this is done.”.  Hale and Old Trafford: “Trafford Council would still support the organisations by buying and maintaining the stock, maintaining the buildings and providing training to the groups that took on responsibility for the running of the library.”. 
  • Council to axe 100 jobs, and replace staff with unpaid volunteers - Manchester Evening News.  “Town hall bosses say they want to put in place a ‘volunteer army’ of unpaid workers to replace staff in areas such as libraries and parks in a bid to save over £16m next year.”.  See comments too.

National Libraries Day 4th February 2012

More information has been made public today about National Libraries Day.  This is what is known so far….

4th February 2012
Twitter: @NatLibrariesDay #NLD12 (twibbon available)
“Librarians are being encouraged to put on author talks or workshops showcasing what the library offers, while library users are urged to get all their friends and family members to join on the day, and involve themselves in locally organised activities. Everyone is being encouraged to find ways to express what libraries and librarians mean to them, whether by tweeting, making cards or producing videos or songs.” BookSeller 12/12/11

Profile to publish starry book for National Libraries Day - BookSeller.  “Alan Bennett, Julian Barnes and Stephen Fry are among the stellar contributors to The Library Book, to be published by Profile for National Libraries Day on 4th February.” … “All royalties will go to charity The Reading Agency to help their work supporting libraries.”

Full press release:

Profile to publish The Library Book in aid of The Reading Agency’s library programmes
£9.99 hardback ISBN 9781781250051

* 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 and many more.
* Published for National Libraries Day on 4 February 2012

Alan Bennett, Julian Barnes, Stephen Fry, Lionel Shriver, Susan Hill, and China Mieville are among the contributors to The Library Book, to be published by Profile for National Libraries Day on 4 February. All royalties will be donated to the Reading Agency to help their work supporting libraries.
In The Library Book twenty of our most outstanding writers will describe libraries real or imagined, past, present, and future – why they matter and to whom. The Library Book’s contributors recognise that without libraries we would not have the writers of today and tomorrow. They include Anita Anand, Julian Barnes, Bella Bathurst, Alan Bennett, Michael Brooks, James Brown, Anne Cleeves, Stephen Fry, Seth Godin, Susan Hill, Tom Holland, Hardeep Singh Kohli, Lucy Mangan, Val McDermid, China Mieville, Caitlin Moran, Julie Myerson, Adele Parks, Bali Rai and Lionel Shriver.
From Alan Bennett’s Baffled at a Bookcase, to Lucy Mangan’s Ten Library Rules, famous writers tell us all about how libraries are used and why they’re important. Tom Holland writes about libraries in the ancient world, while Seth Godin describes what a library will look like in 2020. Lionel Shriver thinks books are the best investment, Hardeep Singh Kohli describes his first encounter with a punk and Julie Myerson remembers how her career began beside the shelves. Julian Barnes contributes a previously unseen extract from his novel England, England, and Stephen Fry asks, ‘have you heard of Oscar Wilde?’
Using memoir, history, polemic, short stories and more, The Library Book celebrates ‘that place where they lend you books for free’ and the people who work there. Editor Rebecca Gray, who volunteers in her spare time for a mobile library for homeless people, says: ‘What’s really come through in this project is how libraries liberate people, shape them, allow them to educate themselves. So many people are passionate about libraries – not just for the books, but for the space – and freedom – they provide. I’ve so enjoyed working with The Reading Agency and all these wonderful writers on this book.’
Miranda McKearney, Director of the Reading Agency says, ‘ What a wonderful way to celebrate National Libraries Day! The generosity of Profile and the contributing writers will help drive two crucial
programmes: our popular ‘six book challenge’ schemes for children and adults – meaning that, despite the cuts, libraries can continue to use them in their communities”
“Good morning. In less than an hour, campaigners from here will join others from around the country. And you will be launching the largest poltitical battle in the history of libraries. Libraries – that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests.

Perhaps its fate that today is the 4th of February, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom, not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution – but from annihilation of a vital service. We’re fighting for our right to borrow books, to use internet and other vital library services for free.

And should we win the day, the 4th of February will no longer be known as simply a Saturday, but as the day when the UK declared in one voice:

“We will not go quietly out of the library!

We will not vanish without a fight!

We’re going to borrow on!

Our libraries are going to survive!”

Today, we celebrate our National Libraries Day!”

Who needs libraries?

422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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 are 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

“About a fifth of children said they had never been to a book shop or a library. But the survey also showed that reading any type of material, for example magazines, outside class at least once a month was also associated with greater reading attainment.”

  • Almost 4m children in Britain do not own a book, poll finds – Guardian. “The charity said the findings were very worrying because book ownership was linked to children’s future success in life. Children who read well can often overcome other hurdles that lock their peers into a cycle of disadvantage, it said.”
  • New Lakeshore Library to open this month with untraditional style - Nola (USA).   New building opens in aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  This one does without (gasp) Dewey.
  • We’re still in love with books - Chronicle of Higher Education (USA).  “Contrary to many futuristic projections—even from bibliophiles who, as a group, enjoy melancholy reveries—the recent technological revolution has only deepened the affection that many scholars have for books and libraries, and highlighted the need for the preservation, study, and cherishing of both.”

Local News

  • Gloucestershire – County Council leaders consult human rights experts over library closures - Gazette.  Gloucestershire County Council is currently reviewing its position with regard to libraries and a new consultation and equalities assessment will be carried out in the near future. In the meantime the authority has said it will continue working with community groups who are keen to take over library services themselves.” 
  • Leicestershire – Fines waived in bid to get library items back across Leicestershire - This is Leicestershire.   “Sometime in 1998, the children’s book Old Hat, New Hat was taken out of a county library – and 13 years later it still has not been returned. It is one of 161,225 overdue books, DVDs and CDs missing from Leicester and Leicestershire’s libraries.” … “City library members who have not used the service in the past 12 months can return overdue items without facing charges. An earlier city amnesty, held in October, saw £11,200 of fines wiped clean during the seven-day period.”
  • Oxfordshire – Compromises on library staff - BookSeller.   “The scheme marks a concession from the council’s earlier proposal, put out to consultation in May, which had proposed that 16 libraries be staffed by only one third council employees. Local campaigner Neil Clark said he welcomed the change. “These are trained librarians. It’s not the sort of work that can easily be taken on by volunteers,” he commented. However fellow campaigner Julia Drown labelled the compromise as just “crumbs”.”
  • Southwark – In pictures:  Southwark’s new £14m “super library” – BBC.   Everyone can salivate at these pictures, me included.
  • Swindon – Banned from library at tender age of 12 - Swindon Advertiser.  “ALMOST 50 unruly children have been banned from libraries and leisure centres in the town in the past three years.” … “One incident, which happened in a North Swindon library last year, was so bad that the police were called and the three culprits, aged between 14 and 16, were given life-long bans. But, the true picture could actually be much worse as some libraries work with Wiltshire Police to contribute evidence to enable anti-social behaviour orders, which includes being banned from the library, but these are not recorded by the council.”
  • Torfaen – Libraries fortnight is a great success – Free Press.   Hundreds of new joiners and many different events to won the right ot be part of the Olympics 2012 Inspire program. “Councillor Lewis Jones, Torfaen Council’s deputy leader, said: “Libraries Fortnight was a huge success and we had a superb response from Torfaen citizens who came out in force to support the diverse programme of events which really showcased the broad range of services on offer in our libraries.”
  • Wokingham – Campaigners win pledge to review library “privatisation” - Henley Standard.  “It was agreed that a review would be held after the competitive dialogue process has taken place to take account of public feeling.” … “A decision will be made in the new year whether to proceed with an invitation to tender. The tendering process would take several months. The successful bidder for the contract would be paid annually and its performance would be reviewed regularly.”
“However, any private company to come in on a contract with the council would be looking to make a profit and if it hasn’t the control to close libraries then it will look for other ways to save money. This, I suspect, will mean reducing opening hours, increasing fines and fees and cutting staff wages or staff themselves. Any of these would result in an inferior service. If a company finds that a profit is impossible to make, it will walk away from the contract, leaving the council with an extra financial burden to take over it again.”

Lewisham usage collapses

Comment

A report in the Sunday Times suggests that Ed Vaizey is asking for Big Lottery Fund money for withdrawn libraries.  While it is nice that the Minister Invisibly In Charge Of Libraries is showing an interest, it shows his weakness, and the direness of the current situation, that he is begging for money. 
Mind you, withdrawn branches need all the help they can get.  Have a look at the figures in the table below from Lewisham to see how libraries that were council-run last year are now doing when withdrawn from council control.  The words “Community Library” in this table, incidentally, does not mean a local public library but rather that it is no longer being run by the council:

The outsourced branches on average experienced a decline of 73% in book issues over one year.  Of course, this figure is skewed – there’s been upheaval in those libraries recently taken over by different organisations (a computer recycling company, an elderly people’s charity and, in New Cross, a bona fide library user’s co-operative) which has doubtless depressed things a little.  As has whatever “initial difficulties with data collection” means.  However, a loss of three-quarters seems excessive.  Something else is going on here rather than problems due to change of management.  Nor do the problems in Lewisham stop there. In those not outsourced (leaving out the non-comparable Torridon Road and Wavelengths figures) the decline was still an amazingly poor 18%.  The warning below the figures suggests that there have been staff cuts and the installation of self-service machines but, still 18%?  Perhaps they’re not buying new books this year as well. For national comparison, the CIPFA figures for 2010/11 showed a decline of only 2.3%.
Another point from these figures is that the previous users of the withdrawn libraries do not appear to be using the other branches.  This suggests that public library provision is effectively being lost to those in the neighbourhoods where the council has decided to retreat from managing branches, raising concerns for the whole model, at least in the form practised in Lewisham.
All of this is useful information for all of those thinking of writing to the Select Committee (details below).  Other useful information can be found by writing Freedom of Information requests to the MLA (still existing in caretaker form until next year), local authorities and ACE but get in quick – that 12th January deadline is looking awful close, especially with Christmas in less than three weeks.
422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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 are 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

  • BitebackSunday Times.   Richard Brooks: “In the new year, the culture media and sports committee (yes, the one looking into phone hacking) turns its attention to libraries. I am sure they will summon either Jeremy Hunt or Ed Vaizey as witnesses – they have for too long sat silently on their hands. Yet I recall Vaizey, as shadow arts minister in 2009, publicly condemning the closure of libraries in the Wirral. What now, Ed, about Brent, Somerset et al?” … “Vaizey has been chatting to the Big Lottery Fund about community funding for libraries. Hang on – lottery bodies are supposed to stick to the “additionality rule”, giving cash only to organisations that do not receive any from government. No wonder the Big Lottery has questioned Ed about his eager hands on handouts.”.
  • Commission to work with two local councils on spending decisions around library closures - Equalities and Human Rights Commission.   “I’m pleased to be working with both Somerset and Gloucestershire County Councils to help them comply with equality legislation. Policies based on a sound knowledge of how decisions may impact on vulnerable groups will help ensure these service users don’t lose out as budgets are tightened, as well saving time and money for the councils themselves as they avoid costly and time-consuming legal challenges.”
  • Future of libraries - Da Vinci Institute (USA).   Long article, the most relevant bits being at the end where the writer suggests that libraries will more from a centre of information towards being a centre of culture.
  • Upheaval at the New York Public Library - The Nation (USA).  Even one of the greatest public libraries in the world is facing problems, with the closure of reading rooms, loss of staff, despite an increase in usage. 

Local News 

  • Bolton – Community archive plan to save library building - Bolton News. “The proposal, which will include a community archive, will not retain the library service and relies on council bosses to keep funding the building for the next three years.”
  • Doncaster – Library - Epworth Bells.    Denaby library confirmed as closing.  “Outside the library, pensioner Margaret Bond, 76, told the Times: “It’s disgusting – It’s not just us adults who are losing a valuable amenity, it’s the children. When you go there on an evening it’s full of them doing homework. Some parents can’t afford a computer at home. They are on about education and they close Denaby Library. How can they educate themselves?” … “It is one of 14 libraries to be axed under plans by the authority to save £784,000 from its budget. While other services are expected to become community-led services, Denaby is to have mobile and outreach provision only.”
  • Gloucestershire – Public meeting: libraries going forward - FoGL.  “At the request of library users and community groups across the county we have organised an open public meeting to discuss ways forward for our libraries and the implications of the judicial review ruling. To encourage fair representation it will be held in a neutral environment with a neutral chair. We feel that bridges need to be built and an open dialogue facilitated….”
  • Oxfordshire – Results of consultation - Friends of Benson Library.   Volunteers will be needed to run library but they have not been costed.  Also, RAF Benson will lose a valuable service and local businesses fear loss of trade. 
    • More paid staff to stay at libraries - Oxford Mail.  “Neil Clark campaigned to save Botley Library – one of the 22 core libraries which will retain its staff. He said: “These are trained librarians. It’s not the sort of work that can easily be taken on by volunteers. We welcome this very much.” But Julia Drown, a campaigner for Old Marston Library, labelled the compromise as just ‘crumbs’.” 
    • Libraries could be save by new proposal - Banbury Guardian.   “Nearly 5,000 people responded to the four month public consultation into the future of Oxfordshire’s libraries which came to a close last week. The public outrage stirred by the possibility of library closures in the region has caused Oxfordshire County Council to rethink their original plan to dramatically cut funding and staff remaining libraries with volunteers.” (stub)
  • Southwark – Canada Water Library: a review - Observer.   “OMG! It’s a library! An absolutely new one, with books in it, too! Aren’t such things supposed to be dinosaurs, driven to extinction by the cuts of George Osborne and the inventions of the late Steve Jobs? Not in the London Borough of Southwark, apparently, where they have decided to keep all 12 of their existing libraries, as well as build this new one. And not, according to its architect, Piers Gough, for whom “books haven’t gone away. Libraries still hold these magic realms of invention, realms of ideas. They’re places where you’re not told what to think; they’re also places where you can stay and stop and spend as long as you like.”