True libraries

414 libraries (323 buildings and 91 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

See also “Special Report: A vision for a 21st Century Library?” post below.

News

  • Corporate profile: LSSI - Canadian Union of Public Employees. The most comprehensive report yet noted on the private libraries company LSSI.    Although an obviously biased source, the document provides much useful information and confirms the accusations of many that LSSI reduces staff costs.  Interesting piece on its political donations too.
  • Happy ending predicted - Courier.   “Goole and Brigg MP Andrew Percy proved the future of libraries was no laughing matter when he joined comedian and best selling author Tony Hawks and Libraries minister Ed Vaizey at the launch of the new Libraries Group in the Houses of Parliament. The Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) was launched in the House of Commons with Andrew as the group’s Vice Chairman.”

    “Most contact for assessing an initial inquiry is currently face-to-face. I have not followed why, if someone accesses, say, a CAB, law centre or public library, the initial face-to-face inquiry that has already taken place cannot then be referred for another face-to-face discussion.” Lord Shipley in House of Lords debate on the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill via They Work For You.

    • Library campaigners hunt the Secretary of StateSpectator.  The battle in Brent is symbolic because it is the most prominent in the country — defeat for Brent is a defeat for library campaigners in general. The Brent team has renewed its calls for the secretary of state, Jeremy Hunt, to intervene under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act: an indication that it might not pursue further costly legal action, although leave to appeal to the Supreme Court may yet be sought.” … “…there is little point in having statutory duties if they are not applied.”
    “The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is thought to be wary of intervention for fear of contradicting the government’s decentralisation agenda.  The government insists that it does not need to use its statutory powers because local cuts are an exclusive competence of councils under the 2011 Localism Act. It says that there are alternatives to library closures; and it has branded those councils that are substantially reducing services as ‘politically motivated’. ”

    • Love Libraries badges - Love Libraries.  Get your groovy buttons and magnets saying “love libraries” for some serious campaigning action in 2012.  
    • National Libraries Day official website – The site has now been launched, including a map of events, ideas, logos, links [great to see Voices for the Libraries at number one and Public Libraries News at number two - thanks NLD team! - Ed.], social media options, quotes and testimonials from supporters, a forum, news.
    • New shadow libraries minister condemns closures - BookSeller.  “Recently appointed shadow libraries minister Dan Jarvis has condemned “mindless closures” of libraries and said that now more than ever is the time to harness the opportunities libraries offer and use them as “ladders of social mobility and personal development”.  Jarvis’ words come as an open letter criticising culture minister Ed Vaizey’s inaction over closures, signed by many prominent authors, was delivered to the minister by the Friends of Gloucester Libraries campaign group.”
    • North Yorkshire/Doncaster/Leeds/Wakefield – Yorkshire Library volunteers prepare New Year takeover - Look North BBC (Video).  “Hundreds of volunteers are preparing to take over libraries across Yorkshire in the New Year as councils continue to make tens of millions of pounds of cuts. Some libraries have already closed, while dozens of others will only survive if local residents come forward to run them. Unpaid volunteers and charity groups in places like Denby Dale and Rawdon in West Yorkshire and Bawtry in South Yorkshire are now being trained to take charge.”
    • Open Letter attracts 456 signatures - Alan Gibbons.   “The letter expresses library users’ shared dissatisfaction with Mr Vaizey’s execution of his duties to superintend public library services, in the face of closures and service reductions of an unprecedented scale nationwide”. Very impressive list of signers.
    • Things to cut before closing libraries -  A whole humorous website on the issue.  So far, Big Society “experiments”, professional portraits of councillors, councillor expenses and County Halls.  You know the situation is bad when there’s a website on this…
    • Unhappy feet - BookSeller.  Examines the depressed usage figures for Lewisham’s withdrawn libraries.  “I would be the first to say that the quality of a library service should not be assessed solely on the number of books issued. But a decrease of this magnitude indicates that community management of public libraries simply does not work. It may be too early to judge the success of this experiment, but it looks like the good people of Lewisham have voted—with their feet.” … ” public libraries must stay democratically accountable, publicly funded and free at the point of need.”
    “I agree with the comments made by Patricia Richardson. I am a Lewisham resident and have visited three of the “community” lbraries. Like has in no sense been replaces by like either regarding stock or quality of advice. I do not regard such facilities as true libraries. I was shocked to see the statistics.”

    Changes

    Caerphilly - Blackwood library opens again after £215k upgrade.  
    Gloucestershire - Redundancy payments for staff in 2011 cost £1 million.
    Surrey - Campaigners considering legal action.   
    Worcestershire – Woodrow Library to merge with One Stop Shop, Redditch Library to have other services moving in, possibility of closing then renting out one floor, self-service

    Local News

    • Brent – R (Bailey) v. Brent: law against the cuts (and politics) - Head of Legal.  The council argued that the closures were not intrinsically liable to affect Asian people more than anyone else, and I suspect this may be the answer, or something like it, though none of the judges seems to have agreed. In any event, though, the real complaint about the closures has nothing whatever to do with race discrimination – which is what lends this case a distinctly straw-clutching unreality.” … “We have to accept, in a democracy, that politicians will make decisions we don’t like. If we can’t, and instead turn increasingly to tactical legalism in effect as a replacement for politics, we’ll deserve a less political, more centralised and less democratic society.”
    • Brighton and Hove – Mental health services to move to libraries? - Argus.  “Providing activities, group meetings and other support in different locations around Brighton and Hove is being considered as part of a consultation on the future of community mental health in the city.”
    • Caerphilly – Blackwood Library reopens after £215k revamp - Campaign.  “The library underwent an impressive refurbishment and now has a completely redesigned interior with new furniture, shelving, lighting, decoration and improved provision for disabled library users. The facelift was funded through a £94,000 grant from the Welsh Government via CyMAL – the body responsible for museums, archives and libraries in Wales.” 
    • Camden – Progress for the future community use of library buildings - Camden Council.   Details of the “winners” of bids for withdrawn libraries: “Officers will work with the three organisations to further develop their proposals and in particular ensure that they are able to put in place a strong sustainable financial proposal by the end of January 2012.  Providing the necessary work has been completed, the Council will then be able to finalise arrangements for the future use of the buildings.”
    • Gloucestershire – Redundant Gloucestershire librarians back on payroll - BBC.  Libdem opposition councillor says This is a fine example of the shambles in the way the council has handled the matter. The whole review looks like it has been worked out on the back of a fag packet” … Council says “These workers were recruited to expand the numbers on the casual relief register specifically to cover these opening hours under the terms of the injunction issued on 7 July 2011, whilst waiting for the full judicial review hearing”.
    • Hertfordshire – Petition to save school libraries launchedRoyston Crow.   ““This has all happened at very short notice, it was kept pretty quiet. The agenda item was added late, so we’ve tried to do what we can.””
      • Closure confirmed for Hertfordshire School Library Service - BookSeller.   “”The library service offers expert advice and support to schools on a traded basis, and it is expected to cover its costs,” he said. “In recent years, fewer and fewer schools have been buying into the service – only a third of secondary schools and 43% of primary schools now choose to buy in, with others finding alternative provision. This means that, despite restructuring in 2010, the service is running at a deficit and is no longer viable.”
    • Kent – So who has stepped forward and offered to run library services in Kent? - INFOism.  Council appears to be unsure if parish councils have expressed interest in running libraries or not.  No formal submissions of interest have been received.
    “Meanwhile, it is certainly worth showing a bit of love and appreciation to your local library staff over the festive season.  Morale is at an all-time low with many library workers across the county fearing for their jobs with cuts and closures just around the corner.  Not helped, of course, by those at the top failing to consider the impact their decisions will have on those who are serving on the ‘frontline’.  Times are hard for library workers across the county, it would mean a lot to them to know that the public are on their side.” 

    • Surrey – Campaigners take legal steps over libraries - Get Surrey.  Representatives of the Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM) claimed the authority’s plans for 10 sites to become volunteer-run or face being shut fell short of its obligations to provide the county’s residents with library facilities. SLAM said it was reluctant to take legal action but had already gathered “a mountain of evidence” and conducted talks with lawyers.”
      • Slam legal action - SLAM.   “We need someone to come forward that qualifies for legal aid and that would be willing to be involved in the legal action. The level of involvement in preparation for the case is discretionary: we are more than prepared to do all the work necessary and we will fully protect the person, but if the person wants to be more involved then we are certainly happy to work in any way that the person is comfortable with. Legal aid criteria basically comes down to how much capital a person holds (the limit is currently £8,000).”
      • Nine Surrey libraries to be saved: ten still face uncertain future - Eagle Radio.  
    • Worcestershire – Library review will see staff and opening hours cutRedditch Standard.   “Between 28 and 30 full-time jobs will be lost across Worcestershire under the plan, which will also see Redditch Borough Council’s One Stop Shop merge with Woodrow Library to cut costs. It is also planned to bring other council and non-council run services into Redditch Library while other options such as closing a floor of the Market Place building to rent out and shutting the library for at least one day a week are also being looked at. In future it is likely both libraries will open for periods when they are not manned by staff but residents will still be able to use the self-service machines.”.  Charges will also go up.
    “We believe this two pronged approach can actually protect both libraries, so we are not weakening both to save both, I actually think you strengthen both by working with others, so I actually see it as a positive not a negative. There’s no proposal on the table to close the main Redditch Library and no proposal on the table to close Woodrow Library so the main outcome of all this is we can still offer a library service to both communities”

    Special Report: A vision for a 21st Century Library?

    What?

    An article called “A Vision for a 21st Century Library” has been published on the New Labour pressure group website Progress

    Why is it important?  
    The article is written by Dan Jarvis MP, the new shadow minister for libraries, and represents the first clear guide to current Labour thinking on libraries.  It also announces that he will be writing a report of the same name after researching the issue more.  It emphasises that Labour is against “shortsighted” policies of cuts and closures and, above all, is doing something in comparison to the inaction of the current Government.
    What does it say?
    • Libraries will change, with the emphasis being on access to information and the internet.
    • They’re a unique public space, with special importance for encouraging the young to read and as a neutral ground which encourages a strong sense of community ownership.
    • Challenges include – spending cuts (“You can’t ignore the need for cuts”), internet access, ebooks. “the idea of going to a library and trawling the shelves for something to borrow seems to some an outdated practise”
    • Desired aims are to enhance social mobility and personal development.
    • New libraries like Canada Water (Southwark) and  Idea Stores (Tower Hamlet) seen as examples of best practise.
    • A report called “A Vision for a 21st Century Library” has been commissioned.
    • Co-location seen as a good idea, merging a library with a museum or advice bureau etc to share costs.  Similarly, libraries should be more used by government services.
    • Closures are too often seen as an easy way out.  “When they shut their doors they will be lost forever. Long after the deficit has been paid off and the rhetoric has been forgotten, communities will still be feeling the effects of these shortsighted policies.”
    • Volunteers are fine as complementary to staff but not to replace them.  “Volunteers are important and welcome additions, but I have yet to meet a group who would not rather be supporting a service adequately funded by the state.”
    • The Government is not doing enough/anything to stop preventable library closures. 
    • Dan Jarvis is visiting libraries over the next few months and welcomes input “from anyone who cares about libraries”.
    Cons
    • An acceptance that large-scale cuts need to be made.  The budget cuts to be implemented by local government, and that the shadow minister does not seem here to oppose, will mean a 27% cut over four years (plus large cuts due to inflation).  These are seriously going to damage any service, especially one as dependent on buildings, constant replenishment of stock and long opening hours as a public library.  To pretend that new ways of thinking could get around the most devastating peacetime cuts in history is simply that – a pretence.
    • Co-location is seen as a good idea.  They are admittedly, sometimes an unblemished success, when the co-locating service is complementary to the library and, to be fair, the article lists many that are.  However, this is not what is often happening currently in practise.  In reality, libraries are often being crammed in with other less complementary services which affect the long-term viability of the service.  As Worcestershire shows today, with a One Stop Shop merged with a library simply to cut costs, all is not rosy wtih co-location. 
    • A liking for big libraries.  Canada Water is a new showpiece flagship library that does its job well but is not the same as a small community library which are always the ones currently under threat.
    • The internet and ebooks have reduced the need for libraries.  It is unquestionable that the internet has greatly reduced the number of enquiries in libraries.  However, libraries have found a new major customer base in providing internet access, often for free, for the fifth of the population who do not have it.  Also, if one can afford an e-reader and ebooks then one would normally have bought one’s books anyway.  Libraries are not, and never have been, in that market.  Libraries are for those who cannot afford (or who do not wish to buy) an e-reader or the instant gratification of all the new e-book they want when they want them.  Again, to be fair, the shadow minister does acknowledge this later on.
    Pros
    • That it has been written at all.  Labour has done very little so far to take advantage of the tremendous ill-feeling that library cuts and closures have caused  and that has severely affected the party loyalties of many library users.  It is unfortunate for the party that some of the leading library closers are Labour authorities – notably Brent – and thus the chance to create clear blue (red?) water between it and the coalition parties had been largely (to possibly overextend the metaphor) muddied over the last year.
    • Putting the boot into the current Ministers.  Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt are now widely reviled by library users for their inaction.  Anything that draws attention to this and embarrasses them further, possibly even into action, is a good thing.
    • The importance of libraries is recognised.  The article is spot on about the importance of libraries to children, the less wealthy, adult learners and to communities.
    • Volunteers.  It is completely correct about this issue.  Volunteers are fantastic as an addition to existing library staff but often feared as disastrous as a long-term widespread replacement to it.  The Government, and many councils, appear to be deliberately blackmailing local communities to work in libraries so that paid and skilled staff can be made redundant.
    • That it is being researched.  It sounds like the Dan Jarvis is going to do his homework and actually see things for himself, not just spout off a good line and cross his fingers. 
    Verdict
    A good and promising start.  Campaigners should be heartened by this and the increased pressure on the Government that it represents.  They should also make sure to invite the shadow minister to hear their thoughts, concerns and to above all invite him to visit their local, smaller, libraries to show why small is sometimes beautiful and that co-location and the switch to ebooks will not cure all ills.   At the same time, the record of Ed Vaizey, who said and did all the right things while in opposition but has so far done negligibly littler while in office, remains the spectre at this New Labour feast.  However, library supporters will be largely happy and positive about what they have seen so far from this as yet little-known shadow minister for libraries … and that is no bad thing.  We need all the good news we can get.

    See also

    New shadow libraries minister condemns library closures - BookSeller.   Article by Dan Jarvis MP contrasted very favourably with inaction of libraries minister Ed Vaizey.

    Special Report: Brent Appeal lost

    Comment
    A sad day and a bitter disappointment to the library campaigners of Brent.  Below are the key points, quotes and media coverage so far.  Please note that the points made are all covered with published evidence.  However, I have not had legal training and so any analysis produced below should be weighed carefully against the evidence.
    Brent – Results and initial feedback
    • Brent appeal lost on all counts, with unanimous decision by all three judges:
      • Section 149 of Equality Act 2010 was “carefully considered” by Brent Council.
      • The council kept its duty towards the Equality legislation “properly in mind from an early stage”.
      • Duties under Section 7 of Public Libraries and Museums Act were not broken.
      • The consultation process was lawful.
      • Council decisions were “rational” and “made with great care”

      “1. Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is obliged to investigate any failures to provide an efficient and comprehensive service. He said he has been waiting for the verdict. He has it now and it is time to act. Write to him here.  We have lost 218 hours of library service across Brent. In return the Council has “improved its service” by a mere 23 hours. It takes 5 weeks to get a delivery of books if you cannot get to one of their remaining, inaccessible libraries.
      2. A cross-party Select Committee is also investigating the nationwide closures. We will be submitting evidence next month.
      3. Not one Labour councillor publicly opposed against the closures. Not one voted against.  It is up to every voter in Brent to complain to their councillor, MP and London Assembly member, Navin Shah. It is unacceptable and undemocratic to ignore such huge opposition.  Call, email and write to them here.”
      Press release from Bindmans, the law firm fighting the case on behalf of the campaigners:

      Campaigners seeking to halt the closure plans for half of Brent’s public libraries suffered a setback today when the Court of Appeal rejected their appeal against refusal of their judicial review claim. The campaigners are considering pursuing an appeal to the Supreme Court. It would be the first opportunity for the highest UK court to consider both the equality duties at the heart of their case and the legality of large-scale public library closures.

      The campaigners’ solicitor, John Halford, of Bindmans LLP said today:
      “Today’s Court of Appeal ruling is very difficult to reconcile with what Parliament intended when it enacted the equality duty that obliges Brent, and all other local authorities, to properly grapple with the impact withdrawal of local services of this kind has on communities. The Court of Appeal appears to accept that there is a risk of indirect discrimination against significant numbers of people in Brent resulting from its plans to impose devastating cuts on local library services, but it has excused the Council from properly taking that risk into account before it deciding to make those cuts. Our position is that this is simply wrong in principle. If the Supreme Court is willing to hear this case, we anticipate the outcome being very different.”
      Margaret Bailey of SOS Brent Libraries, who is also one of the appellants, said:
      “Our legal team presented compelling evidence of damage to communities from Brent Council’s library closures, so we are disappointed that the appeal judges have not found in our favour. Closing half of our libraries has had a devastating effect on the most vulnerable members of our community, among them children and families, the elderly, the disabled and those unemployed or on low incomes. Brent has always had the means to keep these libraries open, it just lacks the will. The overwhelming strength of public feeling over the last year shows that communities need, want and will support local libraries. Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt has so far held back pending the outcome of this test case. The thousands of letters and petitions he has received demonstrate that Brent is neglecting its duties under the Libraries and Museums Act, and he must now call hold a public inquiry into the actions of this council. Brent SOS Libraries campaign will also present evidence to the select committee that clearly demonstrates Brent’s failures.”

      The Lib Dem leader on the council, Cllr Paul Lorber has also issues a press release:

      We will continue the campaign to save Brent’s libraries. If elected as the council’s administration in the 2014 council elections the Liberal Democrats will do all we can to undo Labour’s disastrous and destructive library policy – including by reopening libraries. In the meantime we must continue to put pressure on the Labour councillors who voted for the closures. No other area has suffered the loss of such a large proportion of its libraries. There is also an obligation on Conservative Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt. He should take seriously his legal duty to superintend the library service and order an Inquiry.”
      • Statement by Brent SOS Libraries CampaignSave Kensal Rise Library. 
      • Brent library campaigners lose appeal - BookSeller.  “In a judgment given in court this afternoon (19th December), Lord Justices Pill, Richards and Davis upheld the decision made in October by Mr Justice Ouseley at judicial review in favour of Brent council, rejecting the claims made by residents that the council had fallen foul of the Equality Act and been unfair to community groups who put forward proposals to save the libraries, which include those at Kensal Rise and Preston Park.”

      “Brent Council leader Ann John said: “We are pleased that today the court of appeal found unanimously in the council’s favour, upholding the decision of Mr Justice Ouseley that the council acted lawfully. We will now be able to begin implementing the improvement plan that will deliver a better library service for the people of Brent.”

      “Solicitor John Halford, of the campaign’s solicitors Bindmans LLP, said: “Today’s Court of Appeal ruling is very difficult to reconcile with what Parliament had intended when it enacted the equality duty that obliges Brent and all other local authorities to properly grapple with the impact that a withdrawal of local services of this kind has on communities. “There are still other options to be pursued. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport have looked at over 2,000 complaints from people in Brent about the decimation of the library services.”
      “The six libraries identified for closure are in unsuitable locations and badly in need of expensive and unaffordable repairs.  The closures will help fund improvements to the remaining library service and contribute towards £104 million of savings the council needs to make.”

      “I consider that an air of unreality has descended over this particular line of attack. Councils cannot be expected to speculate on or to investigate or to explore such matters ad infinitum”. Lord Justice Davies

      Assaulting libraries

      414 libraries (323 buildings and 91 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

      News

      • 2011 in perspective – Walk You Home.  “A comment that’s sometimes thrown my way when I talk about fighting library cuts and closures is that perhaps I need to get a sense of perspective. It’s only a few books, what am I getting so het up about? Shouldn’t I take my incandescence and direct it at something  worthier, bigger, more ‘important’? In our crazy, messed up world, what’s the point of someone like me spending so much time and energy on library advocacy and activism?…”
      • Assaulting libraries - Counterpunch (USA).   If libraries are bastions of intellectual freedom where repositories of knowledge can be trotted out to dispel darkness, closing them implies the converse.  The intellectually hungry are to be starved in the Britain of David Cameron, and writers and readers are getting alarmed. Those who would normally not have access to those sources will be kept in perfect ignorance.  But the trends are, sadly, global, and the library is under assault as the regimes of banksters and technocrats take hold of the public purse.”
      • Fighting the big uncaring society - Express.  Trafford “plans have provoked a storm of protest from voluntary groups who vow to boycott attempts to replace staff with unpaid helpers. “A campaign is being launched in Trafford for all community groups to refuse to participate in the scheme if it results in job cuts. A council spokeswoman said it was too soon to say how many librarians would be made redundant.”
      • Gift of Reading in 2011 - National Literacy Trust.   “In this new report we explore children’s reading in 2011 with findings from our first annual survey of literacy in the UK. It examines children’s ownership of books, access to reading materials, frequency of reading and attitudes to reading. We also consider how these factors could all affect children and young people’s reading abilities.”
      • Gus O’Donnell and the UK civil service - Good Library Blog.   Perkins the cat does not like the civil service.  “Followers of the campaign to rescue public libraries from the menacing hands of all those administrate and run them might observe the level of competence and standard of behaviour of civil servants in Whitehall and public officers in local councils across the country. Almost without exception, over a decade and more, almost every act that has been observed has been self serving, incompetent, idiotic, Kafkaesque in its malicious treatment of the public, and shameful.”
      • High Court to rule on campaigners appeal against library closures - London 24.  “Library campaigners will find out this afternoon if their appeal against a High Court ruling that paved the way for six branch closures is successful. Crusaders have been battling to save the branches in Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton since the council announced they faced the chop in a £1m cost-cutting measure.”
      • Inspiration - We Heart Libraries.  Here we link to some of the most eloquent examples of people explaining why libraries matter to them and why they are so absolutely fundamental to our communities and wider society. Read, listen, and get inspired!…”
      • Library love: things you love about your local libraries - Huffington Post (USA).   Slideshow of positive comments about public libraries from Twitter.  “I never met a library I didn’t like”.
      • Thanks from a public librarian to anyone who said no to library cuts - Information Twist.  ” I realised that as a public librarian I hadn’t said thank you for a long time for the support people are giving public libraries during this tough time. I know some people are putting so much effort in that it’s basically like having a second job! So… thank you to everyone and anyone, wherever you are, who has said “No” to public library cuts over the past year or so. It’s the nicest Christmas present you could have given me. You really don’t know how much I appreciate it.”
      • What happened next? The big stories of 2011 - Independent.   Colin Dexter chooses library closures as one of the big stories over the last year.  “Libraries became the unexpected social flashpoint of 2011 when the Government cut funding to local authorities and councils responded by proposing library closures.”


      “I think the Government has been surprised by the scale of the response; their actions were taken on the assumption that people would just sit back and let the consultations pave the way for closure. Instead, you saw the people gather and revolt and take their case to the courts instead. “I would rather turn off every light on the motorway than close our libraries. What we have seen this year will invariably lead to further cultural deprivation.”

      Changes

      Warwickshire
      - Southam could have new co-located library.  

      Local News

      • Bradford – Council owed £174,000 in library fines - Telegraph and Argus.  Councillor Dave Green, the Council’s executive member responsible for culture, said: “Having had library fines, as I am sure most of the population have, the money is retrieved when people bring their overdue books back. That is the easiest way. “After a period of time when books have not been returned we write to people to say they have the books and they owe us money.””
      • Brent – Send a Christmas card! - Save Kensal Rise Library.  You can now send the campaign Christmas e-card to your friends.”
      • Cambridgeshire – 13 libraries saved in Cambridgeshire - ConservativeHome.   “This should be a beacon to Conservative authorities across the country – libraries have to take their share of cuts in hard times, but the original proposition was disproportionate, as are library cuts across the country, notably in Labour authorities, which generally consider literacy to be an elitist concept, and are not sympathetic to it. Libraries are essential to civilised life, both for the growing number of children who do not have their own books, and for adults who need their services for study and to help look for work.”.  Comments following article make clear that the Conservatives are as guilty as anyone else in cutting libraries.
      • Gloucestershire – Final ruling papers received: “bad government” and “substantive breach of equality legislation” - FoGL.   “The judge found for library users, awarded them costs and quashed all decisions.” … “the judge acknowledges that the case was brought in the wider public interest and judgement was applied and relief given to the whole of Gloucestershire. Also, please note, where the three points of the challenge are discussed, it is the judges opinion that they were so inextricably linked that he felt it was necessarily to quash ALL the plans.” Full decision here.  
      • Kent – Religious leaders’ concern at library Scientology stock - This is Kent.   “Seventeen of the 72 books, written by founder and science fiction author L Ron Hubbard, in the section at the Avebury Avenue library are devoted to the controversial religion.” [NB. public libraries receive boxes of new Scientology books from time to time.  It is tempting to put them on the shelves, although almost all libraries do not, for obvious reasons - Ed.]
      • Liverpool – Take the budget challengeLiverpool Council.   Consultation on how the council will cut £50m including on libraries.
      • Northumberland – Library opens new chapter - Northumberland Gazette.  Social care/health desk at Amble Library opens.  “NHS staff will provide advice and guidance, and information will be available at the information point on support groups, activities available which people can become involved in, entitlements such as attendance allowance and how social services and other organisations are able to provide support.”
      • Oxfordshire – Library campaigners “ignored” over cuts - Henley Standard.  “Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet agreed to withdraw half of the staff funding from 16 of its 43 libraries, including those in Sonning Common, Woodcote, Goring, Benson and Watlington, following public consultation. The outcome is better than the two-thirds cut in funding that was previously proposed but the libraries’ Friends groups claim it is unfair on those in rural areas.”
        • Some council cuts “political” - Oxford Times.   Conservative MP says some councils are closing libraries just to make a political point.  [Oxfordshire, on the other hand, is simply blackmailing people to volunteer in them in order to keep them open and to prove the wonders of the Big Society.  No political points being made there at all then.  Ed.]
      • Scottish Borders – “Lip service” claim over library cuts - Southern Reporter.  “If councillors vote today for the merger of contact centres and public libraries, with a cut in the opening hours of the latter in four towns, they must be prepared to face the wrath of voters at the May elections. That was the warning this week from Tim Clancey, the member of Innerleithen community council who organised a petition of 1,000 signatures, a third of the town’s population, against the changes.”
        • Councillors defend decision to back Selkirk library merger - Advertiser.   ““If you look at what is happening in other places, especially England where many public libraries are being closed to save money, SBC and myself are desperately trying to find ways to maintain and extend library services and we must look at how to improve usage further. That has to be achieved by using the best staff in the best roles.”
      • Suffolk – Big society sees community groups soar - Mix 96.   “A surge in community spirit has seen the number of projects run by friends and neighbours treble in the past three years as the Prime Minister pushes his Big Society plan to shift power away from central government. Shops, youth hostels, parks and pubs have all been taken on by local groups. “
      • Trafford – Press coverage round-up - HOOT.  “All in all, we got just about all the coverage we could have hoped for and then some. It’s probably safe to say we have launched with a bang – but the real campaign starts here.”
      • Warwickshire – Southam could have library, care home, museum and council services all under one roof - Courier.   “Plans are being drawn up to rebuild the library and the empty Victor Hodges House care home, with a ‘one stop shop’ for council services and possibly a home for the town’s historic Cardall collection.”

      Wrecking Crew of the Year

      Comment

      The result of the Brent appeal against the halving of it’s borough’s libraries will be announced on Monday.  Meanwhile, Brent Council has made clear what it thinks of the campaigners by awarding the people behind closing the libraries with the “team of the year” award.  A library campaigner said:
      “We will certainly remember the Libraries Transformation Team as the team of the year but not the for the right reasons. Maybe the award should have gone to the library staff and other council staff who have lost their jobs.”

      The decisions of the team have not only resulted in increased unemployment and the greatest public protest in Brent for a century or more, for they have failed also on their own terms of saving money: 
      “The “bill for defending the closures increased from £70,500 in September to £150,000. Another £258,000 has been spent on sacking staff and redundancy payments.” London Evening Standard, 13.12.11

      That name of the team, “Transformation”, kind of sticks in the craw as well.  It’s a wonderfully positive way of describing something that would more accurately be described as “cutting”.  Or “destruction”. 
      Or “boarding up”.
      As a final pat on the back for a job well done to the Libraries Disappearance Team, the council said “the awards are given to recognise colleagues who have worked hard in difficult circumstances or gone over and above what would normally be expected”.  My goodness me, with successes like this, it makes me wonder about 2012….  Ed Vaizey, don’t look too smug but it looks like it’s in the bag for 2012.
      414 libraries (323 buildings and 91 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

      If you haven’t already done so, please add your name to this open letter to Ed Vaizey

      News

      • 15 key insights from 2011 from 15 key thinkers and writers - Forbes (USA).  “The most exciting intellectual moment of 2011 for me was learning that People’s Libraries were at the heart of the various Occupy movement camps. The idea that knowledge and culture should be freely-available and widely-shared amongst those who want access to them is incredibly appealing. The spontaneous creation of these libraries against a backdrop of public library closures is a sign of hope. The destruction of nearly 3,000 books in the Zuccotti Park raid only reinforced the power of this idea”
      “Today, at the age of 91, Ray Bradbury is alarmed by the service, staff, and budget cuts being thrust at library directors across the country, and the world, for that matter. In the last several years, he has written letters to municipal leaders, he has even gone to libraries to protest service cuts and branch closings. Bradbury has always gotten it. Libraries are the greatest educational institutions in the world. And they always have been. Libraries have always been at the center of the greatest civilizations throughout history from Ancient Egypt to Ancient Greece to the present.” For the Love of Libraries: Listen to the Echoes (USA).

      • Hip, loud and sociable? A new wave of “library labs” - Impatient Optimists.  “Libraries still provide the kind of services that people have been using for decades: they offer comfortable spaces to learn, help people research important issues, and they loan books and music. But libraries are also high-tech hubs where a third of Americans—including millions of teens—go regularly to goonline, ask for guidance about how to use technology, and take classes that help them prepare for success in today’s digital world.”
      • Library says no guns - Wisconsin Dell Events (USA).   “”I’m quite comfortable with saying no weapons and posting that sign the insurance company said about we can’t guarantee that nobody’s going to kill you,” he said.”. “Member Gisela Hamm said if someone comes to the library with a gun they should politely be asked to leave. Borck said if someone came to the library with a gun, the library would probably summon police whether or not they had a sign. Hamm said she thought the rules for getting a concealed carry permit made it so easy to carry a weapon that any “idiot” could get one. 

      Changes

      Ealing - Perivale £400k upgrade (saved from closure this year), Hanwell will have £900k essential improvements.  50 volunteers assist.
      Surrey - Group:  Tattenhams Community Library.  
      Worcestershire – 30 staff to lose jobs, £1.8m cut, opening hours reduced, charges increase, more self-service (90% target), less bookfund, more co-locationMobile library review

      Local News

      • Bath and Northeast Somerset – Midsomer Norton residents have say in local librariesMidsomer Norton People.  “The consultation will ask for views on proposals including saving £159,000 by withdrawing the mobile library service in Bath and North East Somerset and moving resources into increasing the opening hours of the Council’s part-time libraries across the district and extending the Home Library Service. “
      • Bolton – First library in council cuts to close its doors - Bolton News.  Highfield Library in Farnworth, will shut on Friday, January 13, with the neighbourhood collection opening the following Monday.” … Computer in children’s centre will allow issuing of books from small stock there, others can be ordered.
      • Brent – Libraries decision expectedHarrow Observer.   Result of the appeal against the decision to uphold the closures of half of the borough’s library expected at 2pm on Monday.  “A Brent SOS spokesman said: “Dinah Rose QC argued on behalf of library users and Brent SOS Libraries Campaign that in deciding to close six libraries, the council had failed to prevent discrimination against groups such as Asians, young children and local school children, by neglecting to assess the impact on such groups.”
        • Appeal verdict expected Monday 2pm at the High Court, the Strand - Preston Library Campaign.  “Using the very same data that the council executive used to decide to close the libraries, Dinah Rose showed that 28% of Brent’s population is Asian and that 46% of active library users were Asian, so it was obvious that the closure of the libraries would disproportionately affect Asian residents. She also showed that the highest concentrations of Asian populations in the borough were concentrated around three libraries – Preston, Barham and Tokyngton – all of which were closed. She had evidence to show that since closure, the library that users of these three libraries were expected to use instead – Ealing Road – was overcrowded.”
        • Library closure team honoured at Brent council awards ceremony - Times series.  “rent Council’s end-of-year achievement awards has caused outcry after the team behind the project which resulted in half of the borough’s libraries closing was named Team of the Year.” 
        • Guardian, Society Daily - Library campaigners in north-west London, who are planning to sing carols tonight. They’ll be gathering at the green on Preston Road, Wembley, at 5pm before walking to Preston Road. They are highlighting Brent council’s decision to close six of its 12 libraries, a decision the Brent SOS Libraries group is challenging in the high court, and they’ve even written their own words to the carol We Three Kings, which begins:
      We need our libraries – local they are,
      Now we’ll have to travel afar
      Traffic, parking
      Drive us barking.
      Paying to park the car.” 

      • Ealing – Perivale library to get a £400,000 facelift - Ealing Gazette.  “Perivale library is to get an over-due £400,000 refurbishment five months after it was saved from closure.Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for community services, told a full council meeting on Tuesday how the 1930s building, in Horsenden Lane South, would get the cash injection in the new year. Hanwell library is also due to receive £900,000 to make essential improvements to the dated buildings.” … “Funding will come from the recovered £2million invested in an Icelandic bank, thought lost during the financial crisis.  Mr Dheer said more than 50 volunteers had stepped up to help run the libraries at a reduced cost, while all 40 Labour councillors will volunteer at a large reading event in March.”
      • Gloucestershire – Public meeting on future of Gloucestershire library service: report from an attendee - FoGL.   Summary of meeting including questions for council unanswered as it refused to attend.
        • Library campaigners ready for next chapter - Cotswold Journal.  “The group has come up with a template on how it thinks the county council should undertake its new library review – which will start in the new year.”
      • Hertfordshire – Children’s author Michael Morpurgo makes plea to save schools library services - Times Series.  “Morpurgo, a former Children’s Laureate who was born in St. Albans, wrote to Hertfordshire council hoping the letter will be read out at a meeting on Monday, before the decision is ratified. He wrote: “Every year I come to Hertfordshire to talk to your children about writing, to try to inspire them to find their own writing voice, and to encourage them to read.”
      • Scottish Borders – Chapter closes as local library protest fails - Peeblesshire News.   “Innerleithern campaigners have hit out after councillors forged ahead with plans to merge libraries and contact centres.”… “Campaigners opposed to the move raised a petition which drew over 1000 signatures. But the Peeblesshire protest was largely ignored.” … “”The report estimates that the proposals will cost £360,000 to carry out, and their estimate that the savings made will recoup this cost within three years are based on assumptions such as finding buyers for vacated council property …It is likely that the cost will take far more than three years to recoup. There is no saving in the short or even the medium term.” 
      • Surrey – County Council U turn on library emails - Eagle Radio.   Emails from library campaigners to councillors will not longer ber automatically blocked.  “A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “We have to be strong enough to recognise when we have got something wrong and in this case we have. We value people’s views and Mr Alsop’s emails will now arrive straight into inboxes, instead of councillors having the option of opening them. People’s opinions are always considered when a decision is made and this was the case with the recent decision to change the libraries policy, which was heavily informed by the opinions of library users.”
        • Libraries appeal for volunteers ahead of library shake up – This is Local London.   “Three libraries desperate to stay open are appealing for volunteers as Surrey County Council continues its plans to replace full time staff with volunteers. Ewell Court, Stoneleigh and Tattenhams are three of 10 Surrey libraries which will be handed over to volunteers next year.”
      • Worcestershire – Library staff to lose jobs in council cut backs - Worcester News.  “While Droitwich Library has already been transformed to accommodate other services such as Age Concern and Jobcentre Plus plans are underway to deliver a community-led library with the parish council, police and other partners in Broadway and move Bewdley’s facility in the museum/ Guildhall complex as part of a wider regeneration scheme including the creation of a new medical centre.”
      “At a meeting of cabinet yesterday county councillor Liz Tucker, who represents Pershore, said there was “real shock and anger” in the town when it looked like the library was moving but town councillor Chris Parsons said the 11 months of discussion and negotiation had been worth the effort. “It’s been a difficult time but this is a wonderful example of how a little town council like Pershore’s can work with the might of the county council to hopefully achieve success,” he said.”

        • Staff could go in Worcestershire council libraries plan - BBC.   “About 30 staff could be laid off next year and opening hours reduced under proposals to cut a council’s libraries budget by £1.8m. Charges for late books will rise, with less spent on new books, under plans by Worcestershire County Council.”
        • Talks to determine Catshill’s future - Bromsgrove Standard.   “Council chiefs will now begin discussions with the parish council and Catshill Middle School on a proposal that could see a refurbished library and services collection relocated to the middle school.”

      What Ed Said, and didn’t say, in the Commons.

      Comment

      House of Commons – Oral answers to questions: Libraries - Hansard.  Ed Vaizey, Minister-technically-in-favour-of-Libraries was asked questions by several MPs today (Thursday).  The following are his key statements (in bold) with my analysis thereafter:

      (a) Library cuts are due to local authority decisionsThe DCMS has met seven of these to “discuss their proposals”. But then they have done absolutely nothing.  At least six local authorities (Gloucestershire, the Isle of Wight, Somerset, Brent, Lewisham, Doncaster) cut services to a similar level as the Wirral case Ed got so hot under the collar about when in opposition.
      (b) Trafford has opened a new library in Urmston.  Librarians are “incredibly important”.  Ed does not mention the five at all – two are to be entirely converted to self-service (unstaffed), two are to be run by volunteers and one mobile library to close.  One of these libraries, Old Trafford, had a major refurbishment last year. Ed has not given any guidelines on what level of professional staffing is necessary and is in favour of “community”  branches in, for example in Oxfordshire where many will be 50% staffed by volunteers.  Northamptonshire today is making volunteers working in libraries to replace paid staff a part of its policy.  North Yorkshire is also following this line, as are many others.  It is easy to say things like librarians are “incredibly important”, it takes more effort to actually protect them.
      (c) “local authorities have challenging decisions to make, and my approach is to give them the space and time to make those difficult proposals. Local authorities are going about their provision differently but all have a strong commitment to their library service, and the Government are also strongly committed through maintaining the statutory duty. Giving infinite space and time is inaction, not an approach.  The Government is keeping the statutory duty on the record books but, by completely refusing to enforce it, has effectively made it useless.  Ed waited while campaigners in Glos/Somerset won their case, those in Brent lost (and have appealed), and the Isle of Wight failed to challenge cuts in the courts due to inability to secure funding.  Therefore, Ed’s policy is to wait for the public to raise the money or not for the legal challenges themselves and to ignore the problem either way.
      (d) “co-locating a library service, whether with a children’s centre or other services, is very important.” It can save money while delivering mutual benefits, it’s true … but it has many down sides if rushed into or if both sides are squeezed into the same space as one of them had before…
      “In practice, however, this model is not achievable everywhere. There are not many existing buildings with the space to include a full library service, and cost is always going to be a major issue when it comes to building new ones. Most children’s centres and village halls, for example, even if the expertise of trained library staff is made available, are much too small to accommodate a large enough stock of books or to be able to run an efficient library service alongside their normal business.”  Vivien Hampshire, library outreach worker for a children’s centre.”
      (e) “it is also worth focusing on the fact that more than 40 libraries are opening or being refurbished across the country“.  40 out of 4612 that is.  Please compare with the c.400 under threat of closure or removal from council funding.  Also, several, including Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester Centrals are being refurbished/built due to investment in place before 2010.  The figure also presumably includes controversial decisions such as Brent where a big new library will be built at the expense of closing six branches. Of course, Ed reduced the grant from £13m to £3m for upgradubg libraries when he abolished the MLA earlier this year, thus reducing by three quarters what was available in upgrading/support money from central government.
      (f) “Unlike the previous Government, we are not putting that statutory duty under review.” The previous Goverment never put the statutory duty under review.  It was mentioned as a possibility in a discussion paper.

      414 libraries (323 buildings and 91 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

      If you haven’t already done so, please add your name to this open letter to Ed Vaizey

      News

      • Library closures: writers attack Ed Vaizey in open letter - Guardian.  “Joanna Trollope, Yann Martel, Patrick Ness and Kate Mosse were among the 200-plus signatories to a blistering open letter to culture minister Ed Vaizey urging him to take action to prevent libraries from closing up and down the country. Penned by library campaigners in Gloucestershire, who saw a judge rule last month that their council’s plan to close 10 libraries was unlawful and should be quashed, the letter lambasts Vaizey for his “deafening” silence in the face of library cuts and closures, and calls on him to act.”.  DCMS has promised that Ed Vaizey will respond but their bland everything-is-OK reply at the end of article shows why so many people are angry at the start of the article.
      “Use of statutory powers, including intervention, will be exercised on a case by case basis only when all other avenues of dialogue have been exhausted.” DCMS [on the basis of the minister's inaction this year, campaigners suspect "all other avenues" may include waiting until the heat death of the universe - Ed.]

      • Time reveals Person of the Year: The Protester – BBC.   While library supporters are not actually listed in this article, I think one can assume the article includes them in spirit.
      • Why I’m against library privatization - Social Action Web (USA).   The main goal of a corporation is to increase shareholder wealth, not to delight library patrons.” … “The pattern also includes slashing benefits for library workers, blurring lines between trained professionals and volunteers, and hiding behind the corporate veil when there are any hard community questions.” … “in LSSI’s contract, that there is a demerit system for being late and a demerit for not telling on a co-worker who is late.”
      • Why the Big Society plays havoc with Britain’s borrowers - Independent.   “Local authorities have a legal duty to provide public libraries, not for the benefit of poets but for the sake of people who have no other adequate access to learning. Some councils seem to believe this duty is an option.” (mentions Glos, Somerset, Brent, Lewisham).  “Today, there will be a small step towards slowing this impending cultural catastrophe when MPs gather to form an All-Party Parliamentary Libraries Group, chaired by the Tory MP Justin Tomlinson, who oversaw Swindon’s libraries for four years as a local councillor. Mr Tomlinson is not looking to embroil the group in political controversy. He says he wants it to be “positive and constructive” in dispersing information about how councils can run modernised libraries more efficiently.”
      • Windsore, Ontario, Library ends late fees, moves into art gallery - Library Journal (USA).  “”We are trying to project a modern, inclusive, welcoming and relevant image to our customers,” Windsor Public Library Board Chair Al Maghnieh said in a library press release. “Fines have a negative connotation which serves to limit access and in my mind are punitive. We don’t want to alienate our customers; we want them using our facilities. Fines perpetuate the old-fashioned, stereotypical view of public libraries and serve to address 21st-century problems with 19th-century solutions,” he said.”. 

      Changes 

      Caerphilly – Aberbargoed library may close, transferred to new library in Bargoed. 
      Nottinghamshire - Some hours regained in libraries whos opening had been cut in half earlier in 2011.  Bookfund cut.

      Local News

      “The mercury on the hand-drawn marker is currently standing at an impressive £300,000 after just a month of fundraising – but the Primrose Hill Community Association leading the bid are aiming for £1.2 million in pledges. The campaign must be one of the country’s glitziest with stars such as Joan Bakewell, Sadie Frost and Jon Snow all backing the campaign. Author India Knight told the New Journal last week she would be pledging her time and money to the new library. “

      • Doncaster – Update and open letter to Ed Vaizey - Save Doncaster Libraries.  We (and thousands around the country) believe he is neglecting his responsibility to superintend the UK’s library service. “.  Analyses poor situation in Doncaster libraries and inadequate response.
      • Gloucestershire – Public library meeting raises concern - This is Glos.   “A public meeting was held in Gloucester last night to discuss the future of the public library service in the county. Library users came from many different communities across Gloucestershire. In a packed meeting hall at the GAVCA offices on Eastgate Street, the front row was reserved for invited senior members of the County Council administration. Several speakers expressed their disappointment that Gloucestershire County Council administration and officers responsible for library services had declined an invitation to the meeting.”
        • Library campaigner’s letter to minister backed by hundreds - This is Glos.  FoGL responded to article by adding “The point of the letter that this article refers to is that the county council, in light of the lack of supervision by DCMS, were taken to the High Court and their plans were deemed unlawful…..any exhaustion of dialogue happened some time ago when the plans were confirmed as final (not “proposed plans” as you suggest) and the DCMS allowed GCC to carry on down the unlawful path. They were due to implement the unlawful plans in JULY and were only stopped due to an injunction. This comment really does make the DCMS look very foolish. DCMS were “monitoring” and had “met with” GCC officers to discuss unlawful plans and did nothing.   Also mentioned in Booktrade.info.
        • Library proposals in Gloucestershire to be reconsidered after High Court ruling - Gazette.  “So far the authority has revealed no details of the new proposals but the council has said the plans must be sustainable and affordable. The county council’s cabinet will be meeting on January 20 to discuss the plans, and if agreed, a public consultation will then be launched.”
      • Hertfordshire – Petition set up against school library cuts - Comet.   ““It’s a vital service, especially for primary schools and smaller secondary schools,” said Hitchin-based Andy Darley, who heads the group. “School librarians tend to be working on their own, they don’t tend to have a network.” … “The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) and the National Literacy Trust (NLT) also condemned the likely closure of the Herts service this week, and said it could eventually impact the whole country.”  See also Alan Gibbons
      • North Yorkshire – Grave fears over council’s “unworkable” plans - Yorkshire Post.  “it has now emerged that Hunmanby library – one of eight branches earmarked for closure next year unless volunteers take over the running of it – currently does not have a viable scheme.”
      • Northamptonshire – Local deal proposed for people of NorthamptonshireAbout My Area.   “”In return though we are asking people across the county to get further engaged in the services we know they value so much. To help us bring costs down for example we need volunteers to help at libraries and to help at country parks.”
      • Nottinghamshire – Moves to keep 15 libraries open for an extra 70 hours - This is Nottingham.   “…just months after they were cut by up to half. Notts County Council has announced plans to keep the libraries open for an extra 70 hours a week from April next year after finding extra cash in its budget.” … “Mr Cottee said management restructuring and changes in the way the service is run had led to savings of £110,000, which the council would use to pay for the increased opening hours.”
      • Western Isles -  Council to make £3.1 million cuts and savings - Hebrides News.  “Cuts are also being explored in grants to voluntary groups, economic development, sport, libraries and public toilets.”

      Friends don’t make friends redundant

      Comment

      For some time, volunteering has been made into a party political statement by the current government’s policies.  It’s interesting to see that in Trafford, the volunteering sector have revolted against the plans to replace paid staff with volunteers.  One wonders whether this could be the start of something big.

      414 libraries (323 buildings and 91 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

      News

      • 10 ways to give the library for holidays - Books for Walls (USA).   Summary: Give library bags or wrap presents in your local libraries re-usable bags! Give a library card! Give a “Friends of the Library” Membership. Shop at library gift shops. Giving someone an eReader? Check to see if their local library has OverDrive.Giving books for Christmas? Stop by your library and get information on how to donate books.Donate books to a library in the name of a friend. Be sure to call you library and ask what books they need. Then put a bookplate with “Donated by: your friend’s name” …
      • High-profile authors sign up to Vaizey letter - BookSeller.   “Authors including Patrick Ness, Kate Mosse, Simon Singh, Mary Hoffman and Katherine Langrish, comedians Chris Addison and Marcus Brigstocke, library users, librarians and book trade professionals have all joined campaigners in signing up to a joint open letter urging culture minister Ed Vaizey to intervene over library closures.”

      Changes

      Leicester – £250k cut 2012 inc. reduced hours, transport, bookfund, three cheaper buildings.
      Stoke on Trent – Co-location of libraries, reduced staffing.  

      Local News

      • Calderdale – Fantastic new home for library and improved retail for Halifax – Courier.  Councillor says We are talking here about the opportunity to have a new state of the facility in which to house the library collection. The books and archives that make up the library will be preserved and placed in a new state of the art building that makes it easier to access them. Currently the library does not have full disabled access and wheel chair users are being excluded. Modern libraries are fantastic learning spaces where increased computer technology and open planning makes information more accessible. Halifax deserves to have a facility such as this. This fantastic new home for our library will be paid for not out of taxes but out of the sale of the Northgate House site. If we don’t sell the current site there will be no money to refurbish the current library.”.  Local worries that new library will be in worse place.
      • Dorset – Campaigners vow to carry on fighting for Corfe Castle library Daily Echo.  Library has funding withdrawn by council, locals need to volunteer in it or it will close.
      • Hertfordshire – SLS faces imminent closure - BookSeller.   “The unit is among the largest School Library Services in the country, and supports some 150 schools in Hertfordshire, including nearly half its primary schools and one-third of its secondary schools. It could close on 31st March 2012, with the decision by the Hertfordshire Local and Libraries Cabinet Panel likely to be rubber-stamped by the council on 19th December. A petition has been started on the Herts Council website to try to reverse the decision.”
      • Leicester  City Council sets out £600,000 of cuts to services - This is Leicestershire.   “”It’s a shame that libraries are going to be cut back – it seems like one of the staple council services. “But I suppose most people would prefer to see libraries lose funding than care for the elderly or the disabled.” … ” Cuts to library opening hours, reduced management costs, a reduction in the number of librarians by five and a trimmed book budget are all on the cards. A minibus service which regularly takes more than 250 old people to their library would be scrapped. Aylestone, St Matthew’s and Fosse libraries would be moved to buildings nearby and have a reduced book selection. These moves would save about £250,000 next year and more in subsequent years.”
      • North Yorkshire – Hunmanby library to close after volunteer plan fails - BBC.  “North Yorkshire County Council said it had no choice but to close Hunmanby library in 2012 and replace it with a mobile service.”…”He said: “We are stealing learning opportunities from our young people. Their parents are already facing tough times, our young people will loose out on opportunities for getting on in life if Hunmanby library is allowed to close.”
      • Oxfordshire – Volunteer solution keeps county’s libraries alive - Get Reading.  On Monday, Oxfordshire County Council gave the go-ahead to a new three-tier system in a bid to keep all its libraries open to try and claw back cash following Government cuts.”   
        • Spreadsheet of libraries shows which ones are statutory (“core) and non-statutory (“non-core”).  Those with 33% or 50% volunteer staffing are reported as being non-statutory.  This item does not have official confirmation as yet but comes from a reliable eyewitness source at a vital meeting.
      • Redbridge – Schoolkids can get homework help from online library - Guardian series.   “Redbridge Council’s virtual library offers free use of reference books and encyclopaedias to help check facts and do research for pupils aged from five to 18.”
      • Suffolk – Future of Suffolk’s library  service: our response - Rosehill Readers.   “Whilst Rosehill Readers are delighted that all branch libraries in Suffolk are remaining open, we remain doubtful over the level of service that they will be able to offer, and wonder if Suffolk County Council appreciate that ‘books and buildings’ do not constitute a library service.”  High-Risk model  chosen with funding for two years, despite public wishes.
      • Surrey – Library messages treated as junk mail by council - Get Surrey.  “An email sent on behalf of head of customer services Simon Pollock to all councillors, as well as chief executive David McNulty and other senior staff, said that future communications between the Surrey Library Action Group (SLAM) would now appear in their junk mailbox rather than their inboxes.”
      • Trafford – War of words: campaigners say no to library cutsMessenger. “The voluntary sector is refusing to co-operate with council plans to replace library staff with unpaid workers.”
        • Voluntary sector refuses to back Hale Library cuts - Messenger.   “Barbara Bleeker, chief officer for Trafford CVS said: “There’s a lot of anger about it because they are kicking people out of their jobs.“It’s job substitution and our national body will not let us do that sort of thing. “Volunteering is not about kicking people out of jobs and I don’t think any other volunteer centres in the country would get involved in something where they’re replacing paid workers with volunteers.””
        • Objectors will not co-operate with Trafford council’s cost-cutting plan - Manchester Evening News.   “own hall bosses have given the initial green light to cost-cutting measures that could lead to 103 jobs axed and libraries run by volunteers.”
      • Stoke on Trent – Children may share centre with addicts under city council cuts - This is Staffordshire.   “AMILIES fear libraries, children’s centres, alcohol services and needle exchanges could be forced to share buildings under radical plans to cut £1 million. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is consulting on plans to slash 10 managerial posts and have three teams in charge of running everything from libraries and children’s centres to youth offending services.”
      • Worcestershire – Libraries face moves and cuts to staff and opening hours - Shuttle.   “The council’s cabinet will tomorrow discuss proposals to move Stourport Library into the civic centre and Bewdley Library to the museum and guildhall complex site. The plan for Kidderminster Library is to integrate other services under the same roof. Furthermore, 28 to 30 full time equivalent library staff will be cut from across the county, equating to 712 staff hours.”

      The last chapter?

      … where you can join with such luminaries like Dr Steve Jones, Robin Ince, Yann Martel, Julia Donaldson, Geraldine McCaughrean, Simon Singh, Chris Addison, Marcus Brigstocke, Rovert Swindells, Alan Gibbons and Paul Geraghty.  Wow. The Minister supposedly-for-libraries will actually have to actively avoid this one, which will sadly be the most energetic he hasbeen in relation to public libraries during his whole time in office.  The link to the letter is here.

      “The Last Chapter?” headline incidentally has nothing to do with Ed Vaizey.  Well, not today, anyway.  It is to do with Alan Yentob’s BBC1 documentary on ebooks. 

      414 libraries (323 buildings and 91 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

      News

      • Campaigners urge Vaizey: “It’s time to act” – BookSeller.  The letter, posted on the site of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries has already been endorsed by Campaign for the Book; Surrey Libraries Action Movemen; Hertfordshire group We ♥ Libraries; The Friends of the Isle of Wight Library Service; campaigners in Brent; and authors including Jamila Gavin.”.  Amazing list of supporters on this site.
      “Next year I’m planning a John O’Groats to Land’s End libraries tour.  It’s an attempt to celebrate libraries, which in many areas are currently suffering cuts and closures.  Along with thousands of other campaigners, I see these as being a threat to the whole population and, in particular, to the children who are the adult readers of the future.”  Julia Donaldson, Radio Times 17-30 December

      Imagine: Books the last chapter? - BBC One.  Alan Yentob pronounces the printed word dead and looks at the ways ebooks will change things forever.  While not entirely pro digital, there is a strong feeling that the battle is over, which will comes as a shock to the majority of the nation that still uses printed books.  Libraries have two moments – one at the beginning where a Norfolk mobile library assistant comments that one person [out of how many? - Ed.] asked about how to access ebooks and then was not seen again.  The second comment is half way through when a publisher comments that without bookshops and without libraries there won’t be a chance for serendipity.  The dominance of Amazon, Google and Apple in books is also described.  There is then an interview with a “digital librarian” who is aiming to digitise all books but to also keep a printed copy just in case. This comment (from the wonderful Gloucestership open letter) is from a Norfolk mobile library user:

      “I live in the middle of nowhere in Norfolk, and the library van which visits the village once every three weeks is a very welcome sight in a place that has no shops, no public transport, and only cows for company! Reading enriches people’s lives, and libraries have for so long offered a wonderful avenue for the imaginations of readers of all ages and persuasions. Any closure of this service is a sad step towards a society where people are no longer informed, enlightened or even entertained by the wonder of books and the other services that libraries offer.”

      • Libraries we love calendarLulu.  Pictures of beautiful libraries and quotes for librarians.
      • Private company to run Osceola County libraries - My Fox Orlando (USA).   “The county will pay Library Systems and Services, L.L.C. [LSSI] $24 million over the next five years, but those in favor of outsourcing management of the libraries say the move will end up saving the county $6 million over the same time period.”

      Changes

      Blaenau Gwent – 2 mobile libraries under threat.
      Hertfordshire – School Library Service to be closed Spring 2012 to save £41,000 p.a.. 12 staff will be made redundant.
      Oxfordshire – 16 libraries (to be half-staffed by volunteers) will no longer be considered statutory.  

      Local News

      • Bath and Northeast Somerset – Local libraries: have your say todayThis is Somerset. “The Council is running a public consultation with library users, communities, businesses and town and parish councils to gauge opinions on proposals for how the service could be delivered in light of reductions in government funding.”
      • Blaenau Gwent – To decide fate of mobile libraries - South Wales Argus.   “A report which went before the local authority’s education and leisure scrutiny committee last week said the home delivery service caters for 196 housebound and visually impaired customers and is highly regarded by users. However, the mobile library – which serves communities more than two miles away from a library building and visits 36 stops a week – has falling visitor and loan numbers.”
      • Brent – Legal fees double for Brent library closures - London Evening Standard.  “Campaigners said they were “shocked” after the bill for defending the closures increased from £70,500 in September to £150,000. Another £258,000 has been spent on sacking staff and redundancy payments.”
      • Cornwall – Users consulted on Cornwall’s performing arts library - BBC.   “In 2010, Cornwall Library Service was told the department would have to find savings of up to £1.5m. One of its supporters, David Frost, who runs the St Mewan Sinfonia string orchestra, has described the library as being central to Cornwall’s cultural life.”
      • Gloucestershire – Campaigners’ outrage at leader’s meeting noshow - Stroud News and Journal.  Campaigner Johanna Anderson, of the Friends, said that GCC’s plan to reveal its new set of proposals in January ‘seemed very rushed.’ She also said the Friends had worked hard to organise the public meeting at a neutral venue and with a neutral chairman. We cannot understand why a meeting to be held only a month before this date could be deemed as ‘premature’,” she said.”
        • Mr Vaizey, you know you did nothing, now what? - FoGL.   “Following our vindication at the High Court, we at Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries are very angry that, even when there were concerns shared between officers within the MLA and DCMS and even after we had set out time and again the clear inadequacy of Gloucestershire County Council’s Library cuts, Ed Vaizey did nothing. Ed Vaizey and Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt failed in their duty to superintend the county council and allowed it to continue with “unlawful” library cuts. We have written to Mr Vaizey asking him why and asking him to act now”.  Long letter detailing situation so far and lack of action by DCMS.
      • Hertfordshire – School library support service axed in Hertfordshire - Welwyn Hatfield Times.  Currently, nearly half of all county primary schools and a third of secondary schools have an annual subscription. Many more are signed to a pay-as-you-use service. On Wednesday, the council’s libraries cabinet panel voted 8-3 to scrap the service – estimated to lose £41,000 next year. Its recommendation is due to be rubberstamped by the cabinet on Monday.”
        • Decision taken after Tory Hertfordshire county councillors forecast £50,000 deficit - Review.  “The move by the Conservative-dominated committee was attacked by Liberal Democrat opposition councillors who said the council should be encouraging children to have more access to books, not less.”. Council responds ” “It is just plain wrong and misleading there won’t be the loss of any school books or the closure of any school libraries.”
      • Lewisham – Visits and lending plummet at Lewisham community libraries - News Shopper.  “Sir Ian Mills from Age Exchange, who claimed visits had risen in November, said: “We’re determined to get the figures up. “We’ve very much in transition. It’s the beginning of what’s going to be an [council] investment which will see us have at least as good a library as we’ve had before.”” … Eco Computers says “”People should be judging us a year after we’ve taken over. Let’s look at the figures in March.”
      • Northamptonshire – County Council publish four-year budgetEvening Telegraph.   “…it is asking the people of Northamptonshire to come forward and volunteer to help deliver some of the council’s key services to save taxpayers money and to take advantage of opportunities the council provides to help people help themselves.”… “To help us bring costs down for example we need volunteers to help at libraries and to help at country parks.”
        • Huge savings must be made as Northamptonshire County Council faces financial black hole – Northampton Chronicle.  “The county council has left library services alone for the time being although savings of £290,000 will need to be made by April 2013 to avoid possible further cuts.”
        • Northants needs you: Local Deal needs volunteers – About My Area.   ““Within this budget itself there are lines which specifically throw a spotlight on this need – most noticeably the work going on in libraries – but the need for volunteers and people getting involved in services is not always just shown in budget lines, it runs across so much of our organisation. “So whether its volunteering to work within your local library, whether its donating to help run extra services at these community hubs, whether its looking to use the grit bins in your communities to help grit your local paths or whether its simply to make sure you pay to park at our country parks – this work is vital to keep our county going through this very difficult time.”
      • Oxfordshire – Library groups seek legal adviceOxford Mail.   “Save Oxfordshire Libraries chairman Judith Wardle told the Oxford Mail: “There will be a number of Friends groups that will say ‘no way’ to volunteering. Of all the responses to the consultation, there was not a single Friends group that thinks it could do it.” Library campaigners said they would ask lawyers to examine whether the council’s consultation and methodology of determining which libraries provide the statutory “comprehensive and efficient service” were legal.”
      “Libraries are things of the past, as are those people who keep harking on about them. Libraries, free school milk, high street shops, cheques, postal orders, seaside postcards; they all belong in a bygone age. It’s sad but it’s a fact.”

        • Scrutiny and democracyQuestion Everything.  “Only at the end of the consultation process did they start using the phrases “statutory” and “non-statutory” libraries. They made no mention of this to the people being asked to consult on the proposal. People would have been up in arms if they realised that the position of the council was they weren’t obliged under their interpretation of the act to provide these rural libraries. What we are left with a fudge that I don’t believe saves any money. I am going to be forced to volunteer my time knowing that the “savings” are not savings at all and the money they have made from cutting the staffing to our library will going into the cost of the self service machines, volunteer coordinator and training the volunteers.”
      “I actually cried when I got a lift from the train station. I am 5.10, 14 1/2 stone and from the North and I cried.  I have my own personal reasons for loving libraries, I might write a post on it one day. They really have no idea about what libraries are for.”

        • Volunteers to keep Oxfordshire libraries open - BBC.  “Judith Wardle, chair of Save Oxfordshire Libraries, said: “They haven’t really addressed the fact that so many groups around the county said they could not find the volunteers that would be needed. We are concerned they weren’t willing to put into place some kind of contingency plan.”
      • Suffolk – Final decision expected on Suffolk library plans - EDP.   “A meeting of the county council is expected to endorse the cabinet’s decision to set up an industrial and provident society (IPS) to take over the running of the library service and its 44 libraries.” … “Mrs Terry said the council accepted that it would take some time for people to understand the new way of operating and get to grips with the idea of more local control.”
      • Trafford – Responses to our open letter - HOOT Library.  Several politicians, including MPs and councillors, respond to Trafford’s proposals of replacing library staff with volunteers.
      • Worcestershire – Future of Catshill Library to be discussed by Worcestershire County Council - Birmingham Mail.   “Councillors will be discussing the progress of the county-wide library service review so far and a recommendation will be made to consult on the future of nine libraries included in the first phase”… “If backed by Cabinet, discussions will take place with the parish council and Catshill Middle School on a proposal that could see a refurbished library and services collection relocated to the school and managed by Bromsgrove Library as part of the County’s Libraries and Learning Service.”

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

      412 libraries (323 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.
      News
      • Machias supervisor says, library’s cats have to go - Neighbour to Neighbour News.  According to library personnel present, programs involving cats began in a library near Syracuse. The idea expanded and libraries are using cats as part of their learning and enrichment programs. They conveyed their disappointment to the board, and attempted to figure out a way to continue to keep their cats.”
      • National Libraries Day logo unveiled - BookSeller.  “Librarians are being encouraged to put on author talks or workshops showcasing what the library offers, while library users are urged to get all their friends and family members to join on the day, and involve themselves in locally organised activities. Everyone is being encouraged to find ways to express what libraries and librarians mean to them, whether by tweeting, making cards or producing videos or songs.”
      Occupy your library December 15th 2011
      December 15th is the two-month anniversary of the start of the global occupy movement. We started by occupying spaces to build communities. Now it’s time to occupy everywhere, and we ask you to join us.

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

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

      Changes

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

      Local News 

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

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

      I like libraries, love libraries

      412 libraries (323 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

      News

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

      Changes

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

      Local News

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