LSSI make a good argument so let’s have one

Comment

There is an excellent paper by LSSI available on why it should be considered as a provider of UK public library services available on the website of Alan Gibbons.  Readers of his website will know that he is generally against privatisation and it is greatly to his credit that he has allowed the American private-equity-firm-controlled company to put its case forward.  Readers of Public Libraries News will also know that I also am generally not in favour of passing services, and much needed cash, to private companies for the profit for their shareholders.  An article I wrote that was published in CILIP Update magazine summarises my knowledge and understanding of the subject so far.
However, the response by LSSI contains many valid points and they need to be addressed.  There are benefits entailed with the economies of scale that their running several services would allow.  To counter this argument of course, one should point out that many councils – notably the tri-borough – are already doing this without any money going to private concerns.  There are also some cases cited by LSSI, which I have no doubt are genuine, of poor quality customer service, although they themselves report that Sefton and Bournemouth libraries are excellent in this regard and thus automatically concede the point that one does not need a private company to sort such things out.  Other points such as the company’s “long” experience – they have been up and  running since 1981 – are easily dealt with by pointing out that UK public libraries have sometimes been running since 1850, with most having their origins over one hundred years ago.  The point about local managers being hamstrung by bureaucracy (although the worst case stated here, of a manager not being able to paint a front door for months, is hardly a convincing enough call for overturning the entire current system) is sadly true in some councils, especially the more cash-strapped ones. 
The difference, perhaps, between me and the author of the LSSI report, Stuart St V Fitzgerald, is that he has lost faith in council-run library services while I have not.  For you will notice that none of my counter-arguments are from a moral or ethical position, although it is worth noting that LSSI concede such arguements are genuine. I don’t include them here because they can seem airy-fairy and special pleading to newcomers to the subject.  No, the counter-arguments put forward here are simply on economic grounds.  For, simply put, there is no magic privatisation bullet that will sort things out that a well-run council library service does not have access to as well. Rather, Stuart’s excellent piece should be seen as a call to arms for council library services to ensure that they get their own act together.  For, if they do, private companies simply cannot compete.  After all, companies need to feed outside (not necessarily foreign; I have no special beef with private companies being American, British or from anywhere else) shareholders a significant percentage of the money that should by all rights be spent improving libraries.  Such profit would be seen if it happened by a council-run service as pure waste, or worse. It would be deeply ironic if councils chose, for a belief in its efficiency, to give the money to an organisation that due to its very nature could never hope to beat that of a well-run council service.  
Readers of Public Libraries News will also know that it can be a deeply depressing thing to browse  sometimes.  Such times as these do not breed jollity.  There is though, even in the darkest of times, some hope to be had.  For there is now an opportunity for all those poor examples that LSSI cite to be done away with.  Libraries, and councils, now have all the incentive in the world to be as efficient and customer driven as they can.  They should be, and to their credit often are, exploring ways to work at a lower cost.  Councils should also be thinking about the long-term and thus be wary of the quick cheap ways so often documented below like blackmailing local people into running services for them, cutting staff, reducing investment (“sweating the assets” it is called) or opening hours.  Such things may appear to be the answer to short-term financial and political necessities but doom libraries to medium or long-term decline.  Other ways should be found that keep libraries open and thriving.  This is not going to be easy. But giving a noticeable percentage of the money to Islington Capital Partners is hardly going to help either.
399 libraries (309 buildings and 90 mobiles) are currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  The 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.

  Lobbying Parliament on 13th March,http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/
   Attend if you can, invite your MP or send message of support.

News

  • LSSI response to Alan Gibbons and Alan Wylie’s challenges - LSSI.  A full and well-thought out response from US private company LSSI answering questions from two well-known library campaigners.  The statement about economies of scale is a good one, the point about local managers being hamstrung by bureaucracy rings true and the criticisms about the poor quality service in some libraries is valid.  [However, there is nothing stopping councils doing anything that is suggested here while at the same time avoiding handing c.10% in pure profit to an American private equity company.  This paper should rather be seen as a rally call to any poor council library service to get its act together. Ed.]. 
  • Move to privatise Simi Valley Library blocked by Ventura County CourtSEIU721 (USA).   Union takes council to court over outsourcing/privatising library service to LSSI and delays takeover. “”We are pleased that the judge heard our case and has blocked Simi Valley from contracting out their library services to a private contractor. We look forward to the next hearing on April 9 which will determine the legality of the actions taken by Simi Valley in establishing a new library system”
  • One flew over the library - Jettison Cocoon (USA).   “Two years ago, before working on the bookmobile, I worked in a mental health facility. You know it as a library. Our “patients” had a variety of symptoms and problems, but rather than turn to therapists or psychiatrists they came to the library and self-medicated with books, magazines and the internet.”  Excellent piece on an often  invisible but vital service public libraries provide.

 Porn in public librariesYoung Turks (USA).  ACLU argues for porn on libraries.

  • Sense of scaleLibrary Data.   Chart shows that publishers’ revenues dwarf public libraries expenditure so companies, with the absence of any legal rules on the subject, can pretty much do what they like with their ebooks in public libraries policy.
  • Ten ideas for public libraries in college towns - 658.8 Practical marketing for public libraries (USA).  Check to see if your public library is doing all of these if it has a nearby university.

Changes

Doncaster - Legal action being considered against closures.  New group: Sprotborough Community Library.

Local News

“Ken regards libraries as a valuable resource for the whole community and is opposed to their whole sale closure. Ken supports the campaign to keep libraries open in Brent and wishes the campaign every success. If he is elected Mayor in May he will add his voice and use his office to help prevent library closures.” Brent – Ken Livingstone backs campaign to save Brent’s libraries - Save Kensal Rise Library.

  • Sex pistols artist, Tim Dowling and Police Dog Hogan, One Man and His Beard raise thousands for the campaign - Save Kensal Rise Library.   Guardian columnist Tim Dowling and his Country & Western band Police Dog Hogan rocked the joint. They were supported by One Man And His Beard who has just recorded a single ‘We need libraries’, which can be downloaded from the iTunes store. Meanwhile, limited edition signed Jamie Reid posters featuring the library were on sale at £30 each. There are still some left! Contact Rachael Newberry.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Book grumbles - Argus.  “Mr Trimingham asserts that technology is supplanting books. However, public surveys have continually shown readers want more book stock. The book fund is increasing.”.
  • Doncaster – Latest news from the SDL HQ - Save Doncaster Libraries.  “Perhaps the most important news is that we are considering and consulting regarding legal action.  The Council, led by the Mayor and his Cabinet, have proven so inept and unable to consult regarding changes in a proper, fit and statutorily required manner that it seems we may have a very good case for a judicial review.”
    • Sprotborough library group to hold public meeting - Sprotborough Community Library.   “Volunteers will be sought to run the library on a day to day basis and training will be provided by DMBC for these people to help make the take-over smooth for the volunteer group.  If you are interested and have a few hours to spare each week then join this group and  get out of the house to meet and help people,  and find a new interest.”

  • Gloucestershire – Share library view - This is Gloucestershire.  “Gloucestershire County Council is undertaking a six-week consultation to get people’s views on proposals to reduce opening hours of some libraries and to close others.”
    • Library consultation - West Country Tonight (ITV).   Two minute video on consultation. “People are once again being asked to comment on the future of Gloucestershire’s library services. The council has gone back to the drawing board after a judicial review ruled against plans to shut ten libraries. Its new revised proposals are now on display, but campaigners say they still go too far.”
I went to a “public information” meeting last night at West Greenwich library about the proposal to transfer Greenwich Libraries to Greenwich Leisure Ltd. It was surprising there were around 25 people there as it was hardly advertised at all -a couple of lines in the Council paper and a notice in the library a few days before. I believe there have been 2 other meetings plus 2 “friends” meetings but no information to library users generally. Apparently as there will be “no material change” to the service, public consultation is not required. Everyone was very suspicious and angry, so if it is going to be so good for the future of the libraries, the PR has been a disaster! No doubt the transfer will be rubber-stamped at Cabinet on Tuesday.” Greenwich – Via email.

  • Kirklees - Council’s cabinet “discriminating” against non-Labour areas say leading Conservative - Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  “It is proposed that seven libraries are to become community-run and those in Denby Dale, Honley, Lepton, Slaithwaite and Shepley all happen to be in wards with no Labour councillors whatsoever.” … “This means 57% of the 14 Lib Dem councillors on Kirklees are due to lose a staffed library; 33% of the 21 Conservatives and 11% of the 27 Labour councillors.”
  • North Yorkshire – Craven residents urged to volunteer at local librariesTelegraph & Argus. Young people in particular can benefit from the opportunity to add volunteering to their CV. For people who feel lonely or isolated, volunteering is also a great way to build their confidence and make new friends. Anyone interested in library volunteering should contact …” [The only ones not suffering under the current cuts seem to be those who can put the best possible gloss on them.  Ed.]
  • Warwickshire – Community managed libraries in Warwickshire - Warwickshire Council. 11 more libraries forced out of council control by April 1st, to follow Kineton (managed by volunteers) and Bedworth Heath (turned into an unsupervised book swapping store or “honesty library”).   Kingsbury and Binley libraries likely to close.
    • Sutton Coldfield librarian works as  naked butlerSunday Mercury.   “Russell Davies enjoys helping bookworms to get the most out of the services offered at Hartshill Library, in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. And when he finishes his shift, the 28-year-old from Sutton Coldfield, has fun stripping off for hen parties.”. Warwickshire points the way towards future careers for its library staff.

Speak up for libraries

Great website for the lobbying of Parliament on 13th March
Attend if you can, invite your MP, send message of support.
“A great opportunity to spell out the value of public libraries to decision-makers and power-brokers. It’s a positive event and a chance to talk directly to your and other MPs. Really important that library users can go as well as library workers – its about important services; vital too that library ‘supporters’ – who may not be users today but they know their value to their families and the community (I don’t need a hospital or a school but I want them there – and pay for them). have a look at the website; there’ll be lots to see and do!” John 

399 libraries (309 buildings and 90 mobiles) are currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  The 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

  • Closing libraries?  Now that’s crazy - Independent (Boyd Tonkin).  “The most discordant enemy within has been the councils’ own umbrella body, the Local Government Association. In a fit of Orwellian Newspeak, the LGA blithely maintains that “closure of a library does not automatically mean a decrease in access to library services”. Yes, and (if you remember Nineteen Eighty-Four), war is peace; freedom is slavery; and ignorance is strength.”.  Visits local library as part of National Libraries Day march of 200 people at Friern Barnet Library.
  • Dan Cox Library for the Unfinished Concept of Thingly Time A project by Andy Holden.Including: The Language of the Flowers and the Stars. An exhibition within the Library with works by Ed Atkins, Ruth Beale, Steven Claydon, David Raymond Conroy, Michael Dean, Daniel Eatock, Grubby Mitts, Philip Jeck, Neal Jones, Mark Leckey, Georgina Leeson, Claes Oldenburg, Johnny Parry, Francesco Pedraglio, Heather Phillipson, Philip Root and Kurt Vonnegut. – Cubit Art Gallery.  
  • Digital library fallout continues - BookSeller.  Publishers are increasingly blocking library e-book provision due to fear of cutting sales [ahem, it never hurt your printed booksales - ed.] “If libraries seize the opportunity to loan ebooks and appeal to a wider and larger audience they could undermine today’s revenue streams. If they don’t seize the digital opportunity and remain wedded in the physical world they could spiral into obsolescence.”.  See also Penguin ends E-book library lending and relationship with Overdrive – PaidContent.org. 
“Just received the Conservatives’ Culture and Media newsletter and there is no mention of the Culture, Media and Support Select Committee on libraries. Some mistake surely.” Alan Gibbons

  • Welsh Heritage Minister gives his support for National Libraries Day - CILIP.  “Huw Lewis AM, Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, has been presented with hundreds of ‘Love your Library’ postcards from Welsh Women’s Institutes. The postcards began with “I Love Libraries because….” and have been filled in by WI members across Wales, sharing their messages about why libraries are important to them.”

Changes

Local News

  • Brent – “Transforms” Town Hall Library into a rubbish dump - Wembley Matters.  Stock from closed library piles up in town hall library as insufficient staff to sort it.  Also, fears that community side of library will be lost when it moves to town hall.  Event days at nearby stadium will also mean entrance area too packed for effective use of library.
  • Brighton and Hove – Shake up for Brighton and Hove library staff - Argus.    “A document seen by The Argus shows budget proposals by Brighton and Hove City Council could lead to 17 post reductions as well as a change to the way the library service operates. Meanwhile the council would create new positions including library equal access officer and library income generation manager.”.  800 people sign petition against axing of mobile service. “The council estimates 17.84 posts will be lost with 10.7 of those eliminated by not filling vacancies.”

  • Darlington – Council announces plans to save Cockerton Library - Northern Echo.   “…the service now looks to have won a reprieve following an announcement from council leader Bill Dixon that the authority’s cabinet will be asked to consider keeping the library open, with reduced hours, for at least 12 months.”.  3000 name petition led to meeting between supporters, council and local MP.  
‘After our meeting with Bill Dixon, local councillors and our MP, as a group we would like to re-emphasise our thanks for a constructive and positive meeting. However the discussions about the library continue as a final decision will be made until the 1st March. The friends group will hand in a petition of 3000 signatures to Town Hall at 10am on the 14th February. The friends would welcome your support on Tuesday and also at the Council Cabinet Meeting on the 22nd February at Central Hall where they have been allowed 5 minutes to present their case. The meeting is open to the public. Thank you to everyone who has suppported the campaign’. Friends of Cockerton Library Committee

“1) the 5 volunteer run libraries are being funded by the parish councils through what I understand is an illegal rise in the Parish Council precept on the Council Tax (in the case of East Cowes a 21% rise in the current year).
2)  During and after the so called “consultation” many of the campaigners tried to get Cllr Pugh to meet us and to try and sort out a mutually agreeable way forward- the replies were varied, one lady emailed him on, I understand 7 occasions, and never had a reply, I was told “we know what we’re doing and I will not discuss it”.  The result was that  there was NO meeting of any kind between councillors and campaigners.
3) There never was a genuine impact assessment done- it was all done in County Hall after the volunteer steering groups refused to do it for them.” Isle of Wight – Email from campaigner.
  • Kent – Villagers hug their library as part of WI initiative - This is Kent.  Residents in Kemsing and Otford turned out this week to wrap their arms round their local services – literally.”.  Amazing photograph of loads of people hugging the library. 
  • Somerset – Book lovers show support for Watchet Library - This is the West Country.  People turned out in force to donate more than 500 books to Watchet Library as part of a National Library Day event on Saturday. The place was buzzing as library-users old and new joined the librarian, members of Watchet Library Friends and several local authors who donated signed copies of their books in support of the facility.”
  • Southwark – New opening hours for four Southwark libraries - Southwark Council.  Brandon, East Street, Grove Vale and Nunhead libraries will have hours cut from April.  £400k cut library budget 2012/14,  “More than 5,000 people responded to Southwark’s consultation with residents indicating that they would rather see reduced hours at some of the borough’s libraries rather than have library closures as has happened in other boroughs.” [5,000? Yes.  Five thousand. This sort of public reaction is normal for libraries - Ed.].  14% increase in visits for council libraries in 2010.
  • Surrey – Reprieve for Surrey libraries as volunteer plan goes to High Court - Guardian series.  “Following the review full time professional staff could still be returned to Byfleet. Speaking after the decision SLAM said: “We are very pleased with yesterday’s outcome and were heartened by the Judge’s comments that SLAM has shown a considerable commitment and dedication to the library service, and has shown significant resilience in coping with the hard work and stress necessary to bring to the Court’s attention this “potential abuse of power” by Surrey County Council.”
  • Warwickshire – Community library is on track - Redditch Standard.   Studley Village Hall will have library inside it when council closes current library on 23rd March.  “The project has also received an unexpected boost from communications company Talk Talk which has donated £1,000 to help with set-up costs.” … “In future the library will be funded by Studley Village Hall Committee and Studley Parish Council with some support from the county council. It is hoped the new library will be open on April 3. More than 30 volunteers have come forward to help staff the new library with training due to begin shortly.”

For each local authority to decide

399 libraries (309 buildings and 90 mobiles) are currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  The 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

Bookstock increases in Japanese public librares 1967-2005
From Public Libraries in Japan by Haruki Nagata
  • House of Lords Debate: LibrariesThey Work For You: 7th February. Baroness Rawlings gets asked several questions on libraries.  Emphasis on localism (Councils can do what they want): ” Every local authority in England is required to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service, as I said to the noble Lord, Lord Sheldon, and it is for each local authority to determine at the local level how much it spends on libraries and manages and delivers its services.”
“Sir, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your obliging letter and to assure you that I take great pleasure in accepting the invitation of the committee of the Manchester Free Library.  My engagements are very numerous but the occasion is too important and the example too noble to admit of hesitation.  Very faithfully yours, Charles Dickens.” Revealed: Charles Dicken’s support for Manchester’s first free library in letter to Lord MayorManchester Evening News. 

‘Sir, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your obliging letter and to assure you that I take great pleasure in accepting the invitation of the committee of the Manchester Free Library. My engagements are very numerous but the occasion is too important and the example too noble to admit of hesitation. Very faithfully yours, Charles Dickens’.

Read more at: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1481237_revealed-charles-dickens-support-for-manchesters-first-free-library-in-letter-to-lord-mayor

‘Sir, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your obliging letter and to assure you that I take great pleasure in accepting the invitation of the committee of the Manchester Free Library. My engagements are very numerous but the occasion is too important and the example too noble to admit of hesitation. Very faithfully yours, Charles Dickens’.

Read more at: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1481237_revealed-charles-dickens-support-for-manchesters-first-free-library-in-letter-to-lord-mayor

‘Sir, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your obliging letter and to assure you that I take great pleasure in accepting the invitation of the committee of the Manchester Free Library. My engagements are very numerous but the occasion is too important and the example too noble to admit of hesitation. Very faithfully yours, Charles Dickens’.

Read more at: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1481237_revealed-charles-dickens-support-for-manchesters-first-free-library-in-letter-to-lord-mayor

‘Sir, I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your obliging letter and to assure you that I take great pleasure in accepting the invitation of the committee of the Manchester Free Library. My engagements are very numerous but the occasion is too important and the example too noble to admit of hesitation. Very faithfully yours, Charles Dickens’.

Read more at: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/s/1481237_revealed-charles-dickens-support-for-manchesters-first-free-library-in-letter-to-lord-mayor

“If promoting the reading of bestselling thrillers is what public libraries are about, then they don’t have much reason to exist. A long time ago librarians thought that reading popular tripe would help cultivate the people’s taste for better books, but they gave that up when they realized that reading popular tripe cultivates a taste for reading more popular tripe.” Why should libraries focus on popular books?Library Journal (USA). [This article by Annoyed Librarian pretty much goes against everything I believe to be true but it is, like a lot of the stuff on PLN included for completeness and to make people aware of the issues - Ed.]

Local News

  • Camden – Chalk Farm Library deal agreed - Camden New Journal.  There had been a delay in confirming a joint  bid for the Chalk Farm branch in Sharpleshall Road lodged by the Friends of Chalk Farm Library and the Primrose Hill Community Association.  The bid had asked for a 20-year lease. Camden will now give the library group the building for six years, rent free, with an option for a further six.”
  • Durham – Council planning £26m of cutbacks - Northern Echo.   “…councillors also ordered a 12-week consultation on cutting opening hours to 36 a week at 11 town centre libraries and 20 a week at 27 community branches. Mobile library services would also be reduced to save £1.5m overall. About 250 library staff could be affected. Only Clayport, in Durham, will escape the cuts, having had its hours reduced last year.”
  • Kent – Bear club children get early start on reading - This is Kent.  The free service means children can join and receive a library passport. Each time they visit the library they get a stamp and once they have collected six they receive a certificate. Teacher Tanya Foy said: “Children as young as four months have joined the library. Reading is one of the key activities a parent or carer can do with their child to improve their achievements later on in life.”
  • Kirklees – Councillors kick off party spat over library transfer proposals - Yorkshire Post.  “The council is seeking to reduce its budget and wants community groups to take over several smaller libraries. The transfer will mean job losses and possible changes in opening hours at libraries in Denby Dale, Golcar, Honley, Lepton, Kirkheaton, Shepley and Slaithwaite.”.  Conservatives accuse governing Labour party of choosing to cut libraries in Conservative areas: “Five of the seven wards affected by the library changes have no Labour Party representation.”
“The answer I got back was ‘the criteria used was verbal discussions between senior managers and Cabinet members. In other words there is no audit trail and, therefore, no evidence for the general public as to whether the correct libraries have been selected for this venture.”

  • Norfolk – Crime thrillers are the most borrowed fiction in books in Norfolk’s libraries - Norwich Evening News.    “Romance used to be the most popular genre, but now people seem to be escaping into a grittier world.”
  • Sefton - Cremation fees hiked, lifeguards reduced and mobile library axed in the latest round of cuts by Sefton Council – Crosby Herald.  “Two posts are to go from the local history / information service, saving £37,000. The service, based at Crosby Library, responds to 12,500 local history queries every year. Axing Sefton’s mobile library will save £42,000. The council argued that the service has declined by 31% in usage between 2006/07 and 2010/11 from 7,149 issues per year to 4,946.”
  • Southwark – Inside the library of the future in Canada Water - Wharf.   “Coinciding with National Libraries Day on Saturday, we went along to see how the grand building has been faring since its opening late last year. Designed by architect Piers Gough and built to replace the old Rotherhithe library in Albion Road, the light airy space overhanging Canada Water basin has been pitched as a blueprint for libraries of the future.”
  • Surrey – Investment in new library sees visitor numbers double - Surrey News.   “Visitors to Dorking library more than doubled when it re-opened in plush new premises. A new chapter in the library’s life began with a bumper first week that saw 4,806 people through the door. This compares to 1,791 visitors during the final week at the library’s old location in Pippbrook House – an increase of 168%. More than 250 new members signed up during the opening week, which is more than the number of people who joined throughout the whole of January 2011.”.  £30,000 new stock and wifi.
    • County Council’s plans to be reviewed - This is Surrey Today.  “A SLAM spokesman said: “This moment has been a long time coming. Surrey County Council has not consulted with library users, has not assessed the impacts of community-partnered libraries on the affected communities, and has avoided scrutiny of its plans at every turn.”.  The council disagrees.

Inquiry Day Two announced – who is in it, what it means

Comment

The next Culture, Media And Sport Inquiry session will be on Tuesday 21st February. The list of people who are being interviewed is useful for giving clues as to how the committee is thinking. At 10.30am, it’s reassuringly good to see Annie Mauger of CILIP on board and Alan Davey, Chief Exec of Arts Council England, the body which has taken over the library quango duties of the MLA, pretty much had to be included. It gets far more interesting, though, at 11.30am. The people being talked to then are:

David Pugh, Leader, Isle of Wight Council: This council tried to close 9 out of 11 libraries last year, the biggest cuts of any authority in the UK. After the inevitable outcry, the proposals were changed so that five branches had to be be run by volunteers instead. An attempt by campaigners to take the case to court had to be cancelled due to failure to secure legal funding. Watch out for Mr Pugh saying how wonderful the volunteer model in local communities and what a great saving it is. He may also, if he is brave, defend the council’s initial decision and hope that the council’s impact assessment is not mentioned. In fact, the Isle of Wight is a great example of last year at its worst: the council seems to have decided on cuts without sufficient consultation or assessment, only u-turned after massive public protest and then blackmailed local communities into working for free or facing closure of their library, in a parody of the Big Society ideal. The failure of the DCMS to show much interest beyond one meeting, let alone intervene, even when the Council was proposing an almost complete annihilation of the service and then the subsequent demonstration that the Courts were only available to the wealthy in such cases pretty much completes the set. How much of this comes out, though, is another matter and, certainly, Cllr Pugh is going to be as good as gloss on it as possible.

Elizabeth Campbell, Councillor, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council: The reason for this one will be the “tri-borough” collaboration between Kensington and Chelsea Council, Hammersmith and Fulham Council and Westminster Council. This is seen as the Great Hope in cutting library budgets while at the same time maintaining services in that savings can be made in the behind-the-scenes stuff (Human Resources, Legal, computer systems, purchasing, processing etc) with relatively little damage to the front of house. However, it is seriously early days for this collaboration – it was agreed on only in June last year – and so it may be hard to tell what its effects are. In addition, all three councils are Conservative-run which must smoothe things over somewhat. Still, it will be interesting to see what is said and how differences are settled as collaboration between services is very much one of the stronger possibilities for defending libraries at present.

Nigel Thomas, Service Delivery Manager, Leicestershire County Council: This is the most perplexing one. Leicestershire is losing a full 40% of its library budget over four years, which has got to be, shall we say, a tough one to defend. It seems to be achieving the cut in fairly depressingly familiar ways: cutting 384 hours per week off its total opening hours for example and increasing the use of volunteers. Then one looks at its submission to the Inquiry. There’s mention of co-locating other services (including, amazingly, day-care services) into libraries. It looks like inter-council collaboration is also happening and there is an interesting parish council partnership in Quorn. Then there are other ways like philanthropy (Bill Gates must be getting lots of begging letters recently), setting up Friends groups to raise money, self-service … In fact, it seems to be reading through a compendium of all the many ways to save money without closing libraries, and this is probably why it has been chosen.

This session should be as interesting to library campaigners as the last one, possibly more so as it will give an insight into the minds of those people who have been making the headline-making decisions. As such it should be essential viewing. Then there’s also the suspense element: will Louise Mensch throw in as many hard and searching questions as she did on Tuesday? Will Steve Rotheram be as pro-library? Will Cllr Pugh be publicly humiliated or treated with kid gloves? In addition, there are also the bones of a third morning here that can be discerned from the gaps in the testimony from the first and second.  For this, and I must stress I have no inside information here, it seems probable to expect to see a morning with interviews from a spokesman from the LGA, from a private library company and a volunteer community group in the first three-person session and (who knows?) Ed Vaizey in the solo spot after tea and biscuits. 

399 libraries (309 buildings and 90 mobiles) are currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  The 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

  • Amazon, up in flames - New York Times.  The suspicion that Amazon are aiming for a monopoly on bookselling is increasing and even super-librarian Nancy Pearl is caught up in it.
Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport with which local authorities his Department has had discussions on the scale of library closures carried out or planned since May 2010. [93901]

Mr Vaizey:
In 2011-12, departmental officials met with council officers from the metropolitan borough of Bolton, the London borough of Brent, the metropolitan borough of Doncaster, Gloucestershire county council, the London borough of Lewisham, Isle of Wight, and Somerset county council. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss the respective council’s library proposals in light of the Secretary of State’s duties under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. Hansard, 6th February.
  • February is Public Library Month on Libraries Thriving - Credo Reference Blog (USA).  “In response to the work of Voices for the Library, a UK campaign aimed at spreading the value of public libraries, Libraries Thriving, a collaborative space and community for e-resource innovation, has decided to drum up some attention for public libraries in their community as well. For that purpose, they have established February as Public Library Month on Libraries Thriving!”
  • Five compete to run Croydon and Wandsworth libraries - Guardian series.   ““Closure is not an option for us. Our central library is the third busiest in the country, and last year we consulted widely on the future of all of our branches. We got the message loud and clear that these are important community facilities that must be kept open as a matter of priority.”.  Library campaigners, however, are not altogether happy at giving money away in the form of profit to companies at a time of great shortage.
  • Reading a book “adds a year to children’s education” - Telegraph.  “Nick Gibb, the School Minister, said that reading books for just half an hour a day could be worth up to 12 months’ extra schooling by the age of 15. Today, the Department for Education will unveil plans for a national reading competition for children in the last three years of primary education and the first year of secondary school.”  As some of the comments suggest, without school libraries and public libraries, only the rich kids stand a chance of winning this competition. See also Alan Gibbons on This time, some sense from Mr Gibb.  “The single most effective transmission belt for reading for pleasure in schools is a well-stocked library staffed by a well-trained library. So why the dogmatic rejection of any demands for statutory school libraries? The last time I wrote to Secretary of State Mr Gove the rejection was issued with unseemly haste.” 
  • Uncorrected transcript of oral evidence to be published as HC1815-i - Parliament.  Full text of Tuesday’s inquiry into library closures.

Changes

Aberdeenshire – Eight branches taken off threatened list.  A report from early 2011 suggested eight were endangered.  However, the council confirmed via email today hat none are under threat this year.

Local News


“This flexible approach has not only ensured the successful establishment of five community libraries but has complemented the local enthusiasm and efforts to secure the long-term future of these valued facilities.”

  • Milton Keynes – Dozens watch Josephine Cox open new library - Milton Keynes Citizen.  “The new library is the result of a new Partnership Agreement between Milton Keynes Council and Woburn Sands Town Council. The library is more accessible than the current library premises in Hardwick Road and is located in a prominent site on Woburn Sands High Street.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library is open for longer in shake-up – Yorkshire Post.  “Coun Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for the library and information service, said: “Our library service has been one of the most outstanding in the country, and the necessity of making savings has provided the incentive for us to step back and come up with innovative plans to maintain a vibrant service into the future. “Our communities have risen to the challenge of finding solutions to keep our libraries open in a way that is sustainable so that they can grow and develop to meet future needs.””.  £1.7m cut.  Volunteers will take over many libraries.
  • Surrey – Library volunteers “thwarted at every turn” - Get Surrey.   “Plans to re-open Byfleet Library under the stewardship of the Friends of Byfleet Library group had to be postponed after the Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM) successfully applied for a temporary injunction, preventing Surrey County Council from rolling out its proposals.” … ““We think we can turn it into a really good community centre with a library and we know people would like to see it open more hours so, in actual fact, where we diverge from SLAM now is that we believe we will offer a bigger service.”

Big News

Comment
Libraries news continues to be Big News.  The BBC gives coverage to the Select Committee on Library Closures, along with a video clip of my colleague Abigail Barker from the Voices of the Library group giving evidence.  She also appears to admit to illegal activity in this short clip but we’ll gloss over that as the longer video makes clear she did a grand job of defending libraries throughout the rest of the morning.  The Brent campaign has also issued a “Letter Before Claim” against Ed Vaizey for failing to act over closures in their borough.  That is likely to be a very big story in the weeks to come.  Locally, of course, library cuts are amongst the biggest news there is, with protesters in Halifax managing to rack up 1,435 signatures on a petition in just two hours.  Two hours?  The article then goes on to point out that “if that doesn’t sound very impressive, then consider that, on a national scale, it would represent around 500,000 signatures.”.  In two hours.  
That’s the Big News but a video from St Matthew’s Library in Leicester shows the small.  Videos show library users from the Somali community in Leicester talking about the impact that its closure (ahem, did I say closure? – sorry, I meant to say a transfer of stock from a library building into a community centre where staff will be replaced with a self-service machine) will have on them, their lives, their life chances and their community.  The video shows that libraries are for everyone, with local libraries being for everyone the most all.
And, that, ladies and gentlemen, would be Big News for many of the bureaucrats and politicians closing libraries today.
407 libraries (317 buildings and 90 mobiles) are currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  The 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

  • Goodbye, state funding for California libraries - KALW (USA).   “This past July, state library funding was sliced in half, and there was a trigger amendment attached to the budget that would eliminate state funding for public libraries at midyear if the state’s revenue projections were not met. Needless to say, they weren’t.”.  Local councils also pay for libraries so the cut does not mean loads of closed libraries but it will mean the end of many “literacy programs, InterLibrary Loans, and miscellaneous expenses such as librarian training programs and books. Libraries in rural areas will be hit the hardest because they receive more state funding than libraries in larger cities with larger budgets.”.  Ten years ago, the state gave nearly $57m p.a.
  • HOC Culture, Media and Sport Committee - Parliament TV.  Video of the inquiry.
  • Library closures inquiry begins - BBC.  “Librarians are as important as the libraries” Abigail Barker, from Voices For The Library: “The role of the librarian is almost being ignored.”.  Sue Charteris “said local authorities needed to look at their budgets to assess whether they could they run “a comprehensive and efficient service. You can’t reduce budgets and expect it to be the same but you need to see where the money is being spent and that needs to be done in consultation with the people that use the library.”
  • Library inquiry opens as Brent campaigners threaten to sue Vaizey - BookSeller.   “Public policy consultant Sue Charteris has told the media, culture and sport parliamentary select committee into library closures that Hillingdon libraries have been “a fantastic success” and that the triborough library project run in London is “a model” for the service to follow. “
“You can’t take 20-30% out of the library service and expect it to stay the same, but the more you do it in partnership with your local community, the more you will get robust decision-making and consensus.”

  • National Library Day raises importance of libraries in todays’s society - World News Today.  I fear for the future of libraries because councils are cutting funds and attempting to change what libraries are about. If they keep it is simple, providing books and information free to all, they won’t need to worry about anything else. People need libraries and pressure groups like Voices for Libraries or the #savelibraries campaign on Twitter to prove there is a groundswell of support. Councils and government don’t appear to be listening. They certainly aren’t learning. Maybe they should go down to their local library?”
  • Threat to sue minister over axed librariesLondon Evening Standard.   “…the group -which represents the users of axed libraries in Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Cricklewood, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton – is targeting the Government instead. Lawyers acting on their behalf have written to culture minister Ed Vaizey with a Letter Before Claim alerting him of his failure to act on the closures.”
  • Your favourite libraries and librarians - Guardian.   Public praise their local libraries and librarians:  “It’s very good because every time we go to it it is our favourite so we don’t want it to close down. Ps, it’s Wyke Library in Bradford. It’s very important. You should never shut people’s libraries. Libraries are good. We go to the library on Thursdays after school. Kate is our librarian and we like her because she is always getting us new things that we ask her for. We like reading different books.”

Local News

  • Brent – Fight libraries to continue - Harrow Observer.  Margaret Bailey, a director and trustee of the Friends of Kensal Rise Library and one of three who took the case to court, said: “I think in this instance what the judges have done is simply state the council decision was lawful, meaning it’s lawful to make cuts, but the impact of that is that things like the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act could be disregarded if local councils don’t have the wherewithal to enforce them.””
  • Buckinghamshire – Libraries go futuristic - Mix 96.  The days of overdue library books could be numbered – as libraries across Buckinghamshire begin lending e-books.”  People can borrow 3 ebooks at a time for three weeks each.
  • Calderdale – How the new Halifax Central Library will look - Halifax Courier.   “…the move faces substantial public opposition from people who say they would prefer to see the existing library restored. In just two hours on Saturday morning, members of the “Don’t Bulldoze Our Library” campaign collected 1,435 names on a petition. Coordinator Anne Kirker said: “If that doesn’t sound very impressive, then consider that, on a national scale, it would represent around 500,000 signatures.”.  There are 60 comments as of time of checking on this article.
  • Carmarthenshire – Review calls to book place for library in future - This is South Wales.  Council reviewing library provision, being seemingly very keen to emphasise the need for computers/online in preference to books/buildings.  Experienced library observers may be scenting large numbers of proposed closures in this council shortly, soon to be replaced by a massive backlash as users of those books/buildings show that they exist and are angry.

  • Devon – Self-service comes to Exmouth – Exmouth Journal 24.  “Self service kiosks have already been installed in fourteen libraries across Devon, and are proving a hit with borrowers, both young and old. “It is excellent news that we are investing in the library in Exmouth, and this new simple technology will be hugely beneficial to improving the library service experience for our residents.””
  • Durham – Fine condemns “short-sighted” Durham library cuts - BookSeller.  “According to a local news report, Fine, who lives in Barnard Castle, has spoken out against plans which are likely to see 250 library staff, the equivalent of 134 FTE posts, affected, as well as widespread cuts to opening hours and reductions in mobile services. Following the cutbacks, Durham county council proposes to transfer libraries to a charitable trust. The changes are due to bring £1.4m cost savings in the cutbacks, and £1m with the transfer to the trust.”
  • Gloucestershire – Make sure your views are heard - FoGL.   “This is a dreadful questionnaire of huge complexity, filled with loaded questions.  There have been rumours that FOGL were involved in designing it!!  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is designed by a company called Vector, who are being paid £60,000 by the council to manage the consultation process.  Because of our concerns and the many complaints, we have received, we have asked the council to withdraw this questionnaire.  If you do complete one, and find the questions unanswerable, make sure you use the white free text boxes to express your views.”.
    • Have a Dickens of a Week at Fairford Library - Wilts and Glos Standard.   “The town’s library is holding the special event from Monday, February 6 to Saturday, February 11 to mark the bicentenary of the author Charles Dickens’ birth on February 7, 1812.”
  • Isle of Wight – Shanklin Library now fully under local management - Ventnor Blog.   Shanklin Library now run by volunteers. “Maria Darbon heads up the volunteers for the library, of which there are currently thirty. These include council leader David Pugh who will doing a shift later this month. Maria tells us that all the volunteers have undergone training at library HQ with five more on the waiting list. The two and a half hour training session was followed by shadowing at Shanklin Library for two sessions.”
  • Lambeth – Libraries Campaign: Lambeth’s guide to how you can take part - Vauxhall Society. “Thanks to The Friends of the Tate South Lambeth, the Durning and other Vauxhall libraries and community groups such as The Vauxhall Society, Lambeth’s politicos and officials at last seem to have got the message that closing libraries is both a legal minefield and an election-loser.” …a guide ot how to put forward views in the consultation. 

Select Committee into Library Closures

The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Inquiry into Library Closures starts tomorrow, Tuesday 7th February at 10.30am. Witnesses will be Miranda McKearney (Director, The Reading Agency), Abigail Barker (Voices for the Library), Andrew Coburn (Secretary, The Library Campaign) and Sue Charteris (author of the Charteris Report into the Wirral library cuts.  It will be televised here.
Six hundred pages of evidence from 130 different organisations/individuals have already been submitted by interested parties and it is available to read here.  Some of it is most depressing but interesting such as the LGA arguing that the 1964 Act is somehow a barrier to reform when the DCMS fails to act on any of it anyway.  Their submission also includes the gem line that a “closure of a library does not automatically mean a decrease in access to library services”.  Um, yes it does, LGA.  Other bits are highly predictable, such as the American private equity-owned libraries company LSSI arguing, amazingly, for the further privatisation of public libraries.  Most, however, is heartwarming and vociferous in its support for public libraries.  It is to be hope that the Committee takes the latter to heart.
407 libraries (317 buildings and 90 mobiles) are currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  The 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

  • 1964 Act is “barrier to reform” claims LGA - BookSeller.  LGA argues that “A modern Libraries Act without the superintendent role of central government would give councillors the scope to re-design their library services to meet local people’s needs.” and includes the gem of a line “Closure of a library does not automatically mean a decrease in access to library services”.
“When an authority refuses to pay its library staff, and lays down the Sophie’s choice that either they work for free or the service is shut down, the real baddies of the piece are, of course, the authority. But knowing that doesn’t help us any. We still have to choose between descending into charity or watching as a community suffers. At least as things currently lie, I believe the only responsible action is the latter. I believe this in part because I suspect the voluntary model to be ultimately unsustainable, but principally because I believe we have a collective responsibility to our trade on a broader level. The communities we serve can only prosper if we can afford to serve them.”  Are you experienced? Volunteer now! - Succentorship Without Sneers.  

  • Big Society? Legal wrangles turn voluntarism into big headache - Guardian.  Surrey council’s legal battle over libraries shows how volunteer-led public services can fall at the first legal hurdle” … “Another problem is the procurement legislation that requires councils to ensure that various hoops are jumped through before any transfer of services can take place. Councils cannot close facilities by transfer of responsibilities (including libraries, as Surrey found out) without full consultation, and ensuring that a reasonable council service remains”
  • Community libraries in Spain: does this sound familiar? - Voices for the Library.  “Two weeks ago the Arts councillor from Madrid, Fernando Villalonga, announced that two new libraries in the city would be run partly by volunteers. To support his idea he said it is common in English speaking countries to have volunteer-run libraries. After some complaints from professional associations, Madrid’s Mayor Ana Botella the spouse of the former Spanish President, Jose María Aznar, backed the Arts councillor saying that not only should libraries be run by volunteers but also several other public services. She said that “We have to be able to give back to our society what society gives tous” (Does that sound familiar?). “I refuse to believe that a library won’t be opening because there aren’t volunteers to run it”, she added.”
  • Culture committee publishes inquiry evidence - BookSeller.  Six hundred pages of written submissions to the library inquiry being held this week by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, including those from The Booksellers Association, The Publishers Association, The Reading Agency, and The Bookseller, have been published online.”
  • Culture, media and Sport Committee publish library inquiry responses - Voices for the Library.  “It is interesting to note the balance of responses from these different groups of respondents, especially from public library authorities. Only approximately 16 authorities or their representatives responded to the Inquiry. Considering that there are over 140 public library authorities in England this is a very low response rate. Compare this to 33 recognisable library user and campaign groups who responded, plus further individuals whose names we recognise as local campaigners.”
  • Culture minister visits library - Salisbury Journal.   “Ed Vaizey popped into Salisbury Library on Saturday. Mr Vaizey was in the area and wanted to visit a local library as it was National Libraries Day.”. 
  • Evidence published: CMS Select Committee investigation into library cuts - FoGL.  “We are very proud of the impact that Gloucestershire residents have had on the national dialogue regarding unprecedented, eye-watering library cuts. Let’s hope that, unlike GCC, the Select Committee listen to us. Thank you to everyone who made submissions and those who supported us with the JR.”
  • Unequal library campaigns - Spectator.   Compares Brent’s legal fortunes with that of Somerset and Gloucestershire.  “It only goes to show how integral bureaucratic equality regulations have become in the fabric of our national life. The West Country councils, having failed to show ‘due regard’, are having to reconfigure their plans. Whereas Brent council can now execute what Philip Pullman has described as its ‘philistine’ strategy.” [However, the article misses the key legal point that the situation was different in the two cases - Ed.]. 

Changes

Plymouth – New Plympton Library reopened after old building destroyed in fire in 2008. 

Local News

  • Barnet – Campaigners show support for Friern Barnet Library - Times series.  “Around 200 people joined a community walk from the old Town Hall site to the library, in Friern Barnet Road, where an event was held to raise awareness of its threatened closure. Young and old came out and braved the elements and held heart-shaped banners emblazoned with the message, “I Love My Local Library”.”
“Ken Livingstone has also sent a message to the group, in which he said: “It is always a tragedy when the heart of a local community is ripped out, and so I am delighted to send your campaign a message of support.””

  • Brent – The next stage: challenge the DCMS – Preston Library Campaign.  “Today, our legal team has sent a letter demanding action. The DCMS met with Brent Council last year, but has so far ignored thousands of complaints made by us.”
    • Library campaigners denied further closure challenges - Guardian.  “”We are definitely fighting on – the question of whether Brent is meeting its obligation to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service isn’t a question for the courts – it’s a question for Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state, who has so far spent some nine months failing to answer our complaints,” said resident Philip Bromberg. “We will now be pressing him to reach a decision on those complaints.””
  • Dudley – Cradley and Long Lane libraries get self-service system - Halesowen News.  “The two libraries are the last in the borough to have the system installed, which is It is expected to be in place by the spring.”
  • Durham – Library plans “as bad as Beeching’s rail axe” - Teesdale Mercury.   “A former Children’s Laureate says plans to cut library services, axe staff and hand the buildings over to a charity are “short sighted” and “almost immoral”.Best-selling author Anne Fine, who lives in Barnard Castle, said council officials will be “vilified” in the way Lord Richard Beeching was following cuts to railway services in the 1960s.”
““It is said they are hoping to save £1m by doing this, which is a paltry sum considering the loss, because in a recession libraries become even more important. They are a haven for older people, a focus for families, and for unemployed people it’s a place where people can try to get their lives back on track. ”

  • Gloucestershire – Tuffley Library Support Group: we need your supportFoGL. “We want to make sure that Tuffley Library is kept as a local, easily accessible library. The draft “new” library strategy, currently out for consultation, is proposing a statutory library for Tuffley. It is to be branded as a “Partnership Library”. We have concerns about who the partners may be and how such an arrangement might work. We are also worried that Gloucestershire County Council might wish to re-locate the library to smaller accommodation in a remote location.” 
  • Northamptonshire – Library users hug to show their support - Evening Telegraph. 
    The events were special for many as last year eight libraries in the county were under threat of closure as part of Northamptonshire County Council’s budget cuts. Following tireless campaigning by residents, they were saved from the immediate axe but the authority is hoping to recruit an army of volunteers to run them to save funds.” … “The Friends of Irchester Library, which was among those earmarked for closure last year, physically hugged the building. The library also held a Nintendo DS Swap Shop and cake sale on the day.”
  • Plymouth – Wait for new library is over - This is Plymouth.  The town has waited three and a half years for a replacement after its old library burned down in the summer of 2008.” … “
    The library has been built next to Harewood House on the same site as its predecessor, which was destroyed by fire in 2008. At 458 square metres it is 50 per cent bigger than the old library.”
  • Suffolk – Future of Halesworth’s library is discussed - EDP.  About 30 people attended Dr Jones’s talk which focused on three main themes – the importance of the library to the town, how it will funded and the uncertain future of its staffing arrangements.”
  • Surrey – County Council disappointed by High Court library decision - Eagle Radio.   “”It was never our intention to close any of Surrey’s Libraries. Our Intention was to give some of those that account for only 7% of Surrey’s Library take up over to the community as a Community Run Libraries so we could have done what other counties have done and just closed them – but we didn’t want to do that.”
    • Library campaigners to have their day in court - Get Surrey.  
    • Library volunteers want campaigners to drop county council court battle - This is Surrey Today.  “The 12-strong volunteer committee already plans to open the library in Tattenham Crescent on six days as opposed to the current four, although some will be mornings only. Among the 80 volunteers, eight have formerly worked in libraries, including Mrs Sowry, 62, a retired librarian.” [This is an especially illuminating piece showing the difficulty lovers of libraries have in deciding what is best for libraries, and for themselves.  I refuse to condemn either side, although my heart is with those who seek to maintain a proper public service rather than replacing it with the unpaid.  I also greatly fear for the long-term.  Ed.]
  • Trafford – Council plans to run two libraries entirely with volunteers - Third Sector.   “All library services at the two libraries will then be run by volunteers. One paid member of staff will remain at each library to run a separate project that offers advice to local residents on council services including benefits claims, council tax and pothole reporting. However, the paid staff will not work on library services.”
“If the council’s logic were followed through, then every time a paid position became vacant, they could advertise for it to be filled by a volunteer instead of an employee, and then claim that this is not a breach of the Trafford Compact because they are not making anyone redundant. That is clearly absurd. That section of the Compact is about role replacement, not specific individuals.”

  • Wirral – Write for the movies with Marc Gee - Wirral Council (press release).  “On 16th February Leasowe library will host author and playwright Marc Gee who has previously run writing courses for the British Film Institute, BBC and Wirral Metropolitan College. The session runs between 10.00am and 12.00pm and is free and open to all members of the public.”

Threatened species

407 libraries (317 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK.  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

  • Call me irresponsible: a meeting with Ed VaizeyFoGL.  “Vaizey is responsible to the Secretary Of State, Jeremy Hunt, for superintending public libraries. Yet both Vaizey and Hunt have not lifted a finger to stop the widespread cutting of public library services in many parts of the country, notably Gloucestershire.” … “In the 45 minutes of the meeting. Vaizey shifted his ground constantly, showing time and time again his lack of conviction, or even interest, in the serious plight of the public library service.”
  • Defence of the book: a story by Julian Barnes - Guardian.   “To mark National Libraries Day, the novelist adds an extra scene to his 1998 satire England, England in which he imagines what happens when the ‘National Coalition’ closes every library down.”
  • Four fantastic libraries - Fantastic Reads.   Looks at four fictional libraries – the ones in Buffy, Lirael, Discworld, Harry Potter … “Hogwart’s Castle, has another great magical librarian, Madam Irma Pince, for whom JK Rowling has apologised, explaining that if she helped Harry, Hermione and Ron the way she should, there would be no adventures!”
  • I can’t believe you’re throwing out books - Perfect Whole.   “What I’m done with is the fetishization of the codex, with books for books’ sake.  I see no point in stockpiling stories that no longer speak to anyone, scientific knowledge decades out of date, speculations about the future that never came to pass, information shaped blithely by the racism and sexism of its time.  But more than anything else, I’m finished with the idea that books just by virtue of their existence are precious things that can never outlive their usefulness.”
  • Julia Donaldson poem against library closures - Telegraph.   Excellent save libraries poem. “Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow, And help make sure it’ll still be here tomorrow.”.  See also Children’s laureate Julia Donaldson pens protest poem - BBC.  “If we lose libraries, we would lose readers and we would become a less literate country,” she said. “People are kidding themselves if they think adults will download books to their Kindles if they haven’t got the reading bug as children,” she added.”
  • My National Libraries Day Out - Information Twist.  Visits to the British Library, CLR Dalston Library, Canada Water Library, and the “Idea Store” in Whitechapel.
I estimate I was probably taking out aroud 100 books a year by the time I was 10, and reading dozens more in the library itself. My parents could not possibly have afforded to buy that many books, and so without the library my world would have been a lot smaller, a lot duller, and I doubt I’d be doing the job I do today.” National Libraries Day - Barry Hutchison.  

  • National Libraries Day: The real cost of library cuts - Huffington Post (USA).   Excellent article showing the importance of local, real, community libraries. Visit to Newbiggin Hall Library in Newcastle.  “The group of local residents sat around Eileen don’t agree on everything, but for a surprising variety of reasons, they agree on this: their library means a lot to them. And they’re worried. Because in the coming weeks, the building they’re sat in is going to be demolished.” … “When I heard that Newcastle City Council were planning to shrink it into a nearby community centre, cut the opening hours and reduce the staffing down to one, I wondered what sort of an impact this would have on a working class area that supports four schools and a population of 11,500, 24% of which are on benefits and 53% of which have no academic qualifications whatsoever.” Impact in poor area shows the lie to the accusation that libraries are middle class and not important.
“Among the hardest hit by closures at libraries like this one will be the group in society least able to object: local children and teenagers, who use the space as a warm, safe place to hang out in the evenings.”

  • National Libraries Day 2012 - Geeks shall inherit the Earth.   1 in 3 children aged between 11 and 16 do not own a book in the UK.  “This isn’t just about the economy and having a skilled workforce, although that’s a big deal in itself, it’s about quality of life and creating the future. The report suggests that the potential of a huge number of children and young people is being squandered and that’s not only a shame, it’s a crime.”
  • No one in charge - Good Library Blog.   Minister says councils are responsible, councils say its government cuts, chief librarians say its the councils, etc.  “Today is National Libraries Day – may I here offer my congratulations to all those who have striven to make people aware of what is happening to our public library service. You have done a wonderful job. … and people are aware. You needed to tell local councillors to watch out for what they do – and you have. And it has been cold, bleak, infuriating and diffcult. But you have told them.”
“… 407 are now closed, on death row, facing privatisation or being handed over to the community to be run by volunteers. Frankly, the last two options both sound like mere stays of execution. This is, of course, a direct result of Britain’s austerity measures, imposed by ministers whose local libraries, you might think, had insufficient copies of the works of JM Keynes.”
On borrowed time: Britain will regret the current wave of library closures but that does not mean that its network must stay the same - Financial Times.  Another excellent article, so good I am going to quote it twice:

“And now all the Foggy Furzes, like the country stations, are being mourned by people who never made use of the facilities when they existed. Among adults, library usage has been declining quite sharply – there were 253m book issues in 2003-2004 and 215m in 2008-2009. Against that, the figures for children’s books are up. And the other side of the argument also holds good: Dr Richard Beeching, the Fat Controller who axed the trains, could read a balance sheet but utterly failed to predict the renewed importance of railways in the 21st century. One detects the same lack of strategic vision behind the current tactics.”

  • Save our libraries - Taking words for a stroll.   A poem to celebrate.  Not sure I like the “stern-faced” librarian bit though.  There is another one, Threatened Species
“I love reading because of libraries and I have no doubt, that I am a writer today, because of all the books I devoured from their vast shelves . . .”Today is National Libraries Day - Susan Condon (Eire).  

Changes

Local News 

  • Brent – A truly Dickensian night at the Windermere - Preston Library Campaign.  Readings from the man of letters and Whitbread Prize-winner Paul Bailey and music from the inimicable CLOS made it an night to remember. Let’s not forget the children – and yet more distinguished authors, like Leon Rosselson, Kaye Umansky (below), Daniel Kitts, Dyan Sheldon and Jenny Newland. Brent has no plans to ever hold an event locally here. That ended when they closed our only portal to the council, and lied to us that they would make it up via “outreach””
    • Campaign will go on: despite Supreme Court setback - Preston Library Campaign.   “Samantha Warrington, Preston Library supporter, believes there should be a public inquiry. She said: “We have always been pursuing other routes. Now the legal avenue has closed we hope there will be a public inquiry and that Brent will consider alternatives in a way Camden has done it so positively.””
    • Labour leader’s plan to save libraries, just not in Brent - Preston Library Campaign.   Comment on Dan Jarvis MP’s article: “Blaming the government for allowing them to close, he is silent on the fact that in Brent, it is his own party that has been fighting for the right to close libraries.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Brighter future ahead for threatened library - Thame Gazette. “Long Crendon Library has been handed a lifeline after Oxfordshire [sic] County Council agreed to a partnership system which will give communities a far greater role. Plans are in place to improve the village library’s opening hours to reflect demand, to offer a toy library and extend the range of activities to include film nights, educational classes and a delivery service for those who find leaving the house difficult.”
  • Camden – Council approves community run libraries - BNC TV.   ““We will be doing everything possible to support these groups and make this innovative approach a success before handing over the keys to the community”, added Councillor Siddiq.”

National Libraries Day - Marcus Moore. Tapestry made by library supporters, with a pro library poem on it, toured Gloucestershire Libraries.

  • Gloucestershire – National Libraries Day in Gloucestershire - FoGL.  This was a day for celebration, but it is also worth reflecting that if it wasn’t for campaigning by us library users, many of the libraries where events took place today would have closed their doors for good last year – some still might, including the library with the highest usage per head of population in the county, Minchinhampton, where people of all ages took part in a vibrant programme of events today.”.  All events organised by the public as the Council chose not to be involved.
  • Leicester – Alternative budget “can save homes and libraries” - This is Leicestershire.   “It comes after city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby put forward budget proposals last month which, if accepted, would see the council’s eight care homes closed or sold, three libraries shut and subsidised bus travel for students axed.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Peter Gaw, of Notts County Council, talks about libraries as the UK celebrates National Libraries Day - This is Nottingham.   “The county council did not close any of its 60 libraries amid the challenging budget reductions last year because the belief is that once a library closes it is very difficult to reopen in the future.”
  • South Tyneside – National Libraries DayCILIP Local Studies Group.    “Author Denise Robertson, and Councillor Tracey Dixon, Lead Member for Culture and Neighbourhoods, opened events.  Throughout the day we are having a readathon – local people, writers, authors, library staff, volunteers are contributing. “
  • Surrey – A last minute stay of execution for nine of Surrey’s libraries - Eagle Radio.  “SLAM have won a Judicial Review at the High Court into the matter.  It’ll start on the 20th February – and look into Surrey County Council’s plans to have volunteers run 10 of Surrey’s libraries.”
“The Council has stopped trying to argue for the plans from a cost-saving perspective, and rightfully so, because the claimed savings are just 0.1% of the libraries budget and it has been established that the Council has not been recording the costs involved in setting up the CPLs, and have no idea how much it will cost to support them. With no cost-benefit justification, we are now wondering why they are so intent on committing a significant amount of Council-taxpayers money on a full Judicial Review that , judging by what the Court has decided to date, they look very likely to lose.”

    • High Court grants permission for Judicial Review - SLAM.   “The Royal Courts of Justice in London has ordered that Surrey County Council’s library plans will be subject to a Judicial Review. In a four and a half hour hearing on Friday, Judge Thornton QC concluded that the case against SCC had sufficient prospects of success to warrant the full scrutiny of the High Court.”.  Several technical objections by the council were overruled.  Byfleet Library will be allowed to become volunteer-run but may revert back to council control if review is won by the campaigners. £12,000 still required for £15,000 legal fees.
    • Court orders pause to library plans - Surrey Heath Residents Blog.   
  • West Sussex – Libraries call for book donations after cuts hit - Argus.   16% cut in budget 2012/13: public asked to donate books, bookfund cut from £1.2m (2010/11) to £1m (2011/12) 
  • Wirral – Council consults on library plans - BBC.   “The proposals include integrating many library services and staff with the council’s One Stop Shops … The new Wirral Library Service Strategy reveals that, while nationally library visits and book lending has fallen, in Wirral there has been little change in visitor numbers and book issues have increased.”
  • Worcestershire – Use the town library now or lose it, warn councillors - Malvern Gazette.  ““There is a squeeze coming, and unless we do everything we can to make our library an all-singing, alldancing facility then there could be trouble.”

 

National Libraries Day, but not in Brent

409 libraries (319 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

Can you help…?

News

  • Accessible websites, airline fees and community libraries - Radio Four (You and Yours, 39:00 to 48.20).  Looking at volunteer run libraries, pointing out the importance of commercial support even to them.  Includes Chalfont St Peter (Buckinghamshire): “nothing much has changed”: “it’s enthusiasm and commitment that marks the difference between success and failure”, “I can’t imagine this village without a library”.  The only option to Chalfont St Peter was volunteering or closing.  Local business sponsorship vital to the success even in this prosperous leafy neighbourhood.  Fairweather Insurance now has logo on library sign outside for £18,000 over three years. Also looks at Eco Computer Systems in Lewisham, “It’s basically a site for my business” – computer recycling makes the library possible as it provides the funding for the library parts.  Fear libraries will close anyway as council money dries up but Cheryl Gillan MP (Conservative, Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire and – surreally – apparently also Secretary of State for Wales) reckons that enthusiasm will be permanent.
  • Alan Gibbons: National Libraries Day Book Trust.  An interview for National Libraries Day from one of the greatest of all library campaigners.  
“I would not be a writer if it were not for public libraries. Books were a luxury we couldn’t afford when I was growing up, but the working-class culture of my time and place was that education was the way you escaped your history. And education came courtesy of books. My mother used to take me to the public library years before I could read.” Best selling crime writer Val McDermid on the importance of public libraries - Mirror.  

Many of the campaigners involved in tomorrow’s events around the country will, rightly, focus on the negligence and contempt exhibited by Coalition politicians towards the welfare of the library service and its users. They deserve every brickbat. All the same, the myopic idiocy of these false economies cuts straight across party lines. In spite of ferocious competition, from Cumbria to Dorset, I would argue that no local authority has behaved with quite such pig-headed arrogance in pursuit of the destruction of much-loved branches as Labour Brent. Which makes it dismaying, if predictable, that the libraries initiative now launched by shadow arts minister Dan Jarvis contents itself with kneejerk Tory-bashing and fails to examine the mess on Labour’s own municipal shelves.” Branch line to another life - Independent (Boyd Tonkin).  

  • Councils must take library duties seriously in difficult times - Yorkshire Post.   Councils think anyone can work in a library.  “Modern libraries are the result of professional management and development; the application of new technological developments; high professional standards in the education of librarians and information service providers and an ongoing commitment to provide information that supports local democracy.”
  • Don’t forget that tomorrow is National Libraries Day #NLD12 – Voices for the Library. Unlike Save Our Libraries Day, tomorrow is a celebration of all types of libraries throughout the UK, including public, academic, school, business and specialist libraries. Many organisations running these services have planned events to support the day and are listed on the National Libraries Day site.”
  • Last chance - BookSeller.  Blog by Desmond Clarke.  Savings can be made by reducing the number of library authorities and the cost of council overheads.  DCMS must produce guidelines and help for volunteer run branches.  Comment by Shirley Burnham points out Ed Vaizey must either be in denial or under orders.
“Many credit the vigour of the campaigning for the fact that the tally of library buildings to have closed their doors is much lower than had been suggested. A year ago, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals predicted that 600 libraries could go – yet so far, according to the website Public Libraries News, only 32 in the UK have closed. Forty-three mobile libraries have also shut down; eight libraries have been handed over to local communities to run; four more, in Lewisham, have been transferred out to a social enterprise company.” National Libraries Day marks a year of protests against library closures - Guardian.   “”I think the public library service would have incurred phenomenal damage had not Brent, Somerset and Gloucestershire campaigners created a knowledge in councillors that there would be resistance” says Alan Gibbons. 550 out of 600 could continue as volunteer run, says Desmond Clarke.

  • Novel events keep libraries on the front page - Herald Scotland.  “Activities are planned across Scotland, which has over 500 libraries, many of which are finding that their services under strain.” Fines amnesties, librarithons, flashmobs are all happening.
  • Revenent Branch - Golau Glau.  Library related orchestral music.  Is that a datestamp?  A computer?  A library door closing … for the last time?
  • Save Our Libraries: Reader’s reports - Guardian.  Each story is different: Including Mar Dixon (#savelibraries), Cockerton Library (Durham), Isle of Wight, Stony Stratford (Milton Keynes), Sonning Common (Oxon), Brent, Upper Norwood (Croydon), York Gardens (Wandsworth), Doncaster, Gloucestershire, Alan Gibbons.
“Of course libraries could be improved but we will not have the libraries of tomorrow if we allow the libraries of today to close.”

  • Stand up for your library tomorrow - London Evening Standard.   Dan Jarvis MP, shadow for libraries “”The cuts imposed by national government are the driver for cuts in local government. The challenge I have is to articulate why people shouldn’t take the easy option and cut these services.” National Libraries Day takes place as dozens of facilities face closure in London, sparking protests.”
  • Support National Libraries Day - BookSeller.   The [arguable] success of library campaigns described “The Bookseller‘s editor-in-chief Neill Denny says: “On National Libraries Day tomorrow, take your family and friends to your local library, take out some books, cheer up the staff, make a point. 
“Although the big trends shaping the book trade can sometimes seem too powerful to change, the story of the fight for libraries shows that they are not. Individual stands and actions do make a difference.”.

Changes

Leicester –  £1.24m cut inc. Aylston Library to close, with books moved to local leisure centre with a self-service machine, transport for disabled to library scrapped, opening hours to be cut.

Local News

  • Brent – Case refused by Supreme Court - BookSeller.    Bad news for campaigners as their final legal avenue against council closures ends.  No “arguable point of law” says Court. Legal action now may be possible against the DCMS. 
    • Library closures: Supreme Court rejects appeal bid - BBC.  Campaigners say “We remain of the view that the secretary of state for culture, media and sport should hold a public inquiry into Brent’s failure to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for those living, working and studying in the borough. We have submitted petitions with more than 12,000 signatures against the closures.”
    • Library supporters vow to carry on campaign - Brent and Kilburn Times.   Council says ““This final decision of the Supreme Court fully vindicates Brent Council’s actions and upholds the earlier decisions of both the Court of Appeal and the High Court that the council acted lawfully.”.  Large number of events being held in Brent by campaigners to show the fight is still alive.
    • Library campaigners take appeal hit - Grantham Journal.  
  • Carmarthenshire – Putting spotlight on library revamp - This is South Wales.  Llanelli has £3.8m revamp, “”Our aim was to provide a wholly integrated, modern public library, housed in a safe, secure and attractive building, on the present library site in Llanelli.”
  • Croydon – Under fire over national Libraries Day - BookSeller.   Croydon has no NLD themed events tomorrow, although some non-NLD events being held.  The council is currently trying to outsource its libraries and is involved in a dispute about the Upper Norwood Joint Library that may end in its closure.
  • Greenwich – Union’s warning over Greenwich library transfer proposal - News Shopper.  Council aims to transfer libraries to GLL Trusts. Unite union not happy with this as it simply means cuts will be made by GLL instead, especially staff wages.  

Leeds – A space for you – Leeds Libraries.
  • Leicester – Hundreds sign petition against library closure - This is Leicestershire.  A petition signed by more than 200 people who oppose the closure of their library has been submitted to the council. Leicester City Council wants to shut Aylestone library, in Richmond Road, and move books to the leisure centre in Knighton Lane East, where there would be a self-service facility.”
  • North Yorkshire – Sign up as library volunteers - Wetherby News.  “Volunteer Linda Clark, who works in Harrogate Central Library, said: “When I started I was so nervous. “I thought I’d maybe last one or two weeks at most, but I became addicted and just love helping at the library.”
  • Northamptonshire –  Show a little love for your local library - Evening Telegraph. “This time last year, eight libraries in Northamptonshire were facing the axe. After an overwhelming show of support from people who use those libraries, Northamptonshire County Council back-tracked, announcing it would no longer close them and would look at other ways of saving money. But councillors made it clear that money must be saved and revealed it wanted to recruit an army of volunteers to help run our libraries. If this couldn’t be achieved, it reserved the right to reconsider closing libraries.”
“A lot of people think because we were not shut, we were saved. That is not the case. It is only a reprieve. We need people to come in and use the library and the events we run.”

    • Use library or lose community’s heart - Biceser Advertiser and Review. Mrs Webb said footfall in libraries is carefully monitored, and although Towcester is safe at the moment, future spending reviews could find the library at risk of closure. She said: “They do work out how much per person it costs to go into a library, but often people don’t even know their library is there or the facilities it provides, and a few years down the line it will be under the cosh again.”.  WI to hug library on Saturday.
  • Rotherham – New reading scheme for kids is launched - Selby Times.   “The ‘Chatterbooks’ reading groups have been introduced by Rotherham Library and Information Service to help inspire more children to read for pleasure.”
The launch of Chatterbooks 2012 gives libraries and schools a best practice framework for creating inspiring reading groups for primary school aged children. The scheme captures and shares the expertise of librarians and is backed by 17 publishers who are working with independent charity The Reading Agency to offer a year round menu of exciting reading opportunities. It also harnesses the involvement of young volunteers.” Chatterbooks.

Crisis? What Crisis? Libraries Minister Sees No Crisis

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

Can you help…?

News

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

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

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

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

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

Changes

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

Local News

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

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

Special Report: A glance into the mind of Mr Vaizey

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

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