UNISON and WI unite to Lobby for Libraries

Comment

The big news today is that there is going to be a combined lobby of parliament on Tuesday 13th March.  It will be at the Central Hall, Westminster at mid-day.  It’s great to see such disparate groups as the WI and UNISON joining on one platform for this event.  Let’s hope that, all together, they can make their voices heard.

Library supporters to unite for 13th March rally -BookSeller.  UNISON, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Voices for the Library, Library Campaign, Campaign for the Book and CILIP support rally.  “From midday, protestors from around the country will hold a rally with speakers before visiting MPs to give their thoughts on the closures.” See also Voices for the Library and UNISON websites
“Abby Barker, from Voices for the Library, urged anyone concerned for the future of the library service in the UK to get involved in the lobby. She said: “This is your chance to tell your MP how vital your local library service is, and to ask them to call the secretary of state to task over his noticeable lack of involvement.”

““The NFWI is delighted to support the lobby of parliament. A threat to local library services is a threat to a community’s education and as champions of libraries for the past 96 years, WI members are gravely concerned that so many local authorities are riding roughshod over educational resources while the Government watches in silence. It is simply not good enough to assume that volunteers will step in to continue providing services previously supplied by professionals; the Government cannot rely on community-minded individuals to step into the breach to bridge the gaps, and the loss of professional expertise is irreplaceable.” Ruth Bond, Chair, NFWI.

““Cutting libraries is not an easy solution for councils to save cash – it is a literacy time bomb for deprived communities.  Community groups are being held to ransom by Government plans to force them to take over the running of services, or lose them. These groups don’t have the time, skills and resources to take over the jobs of experienced library staff. A shocking 30,000 children are leaving primary school with a reading age of seven or below and libraries are a vital lifeline for community groups. We need a national vision of a modern library service, as an investment in the future generation.” Heather Wakefield, UNISON.

“Public libraries still have a wide-ranging role in encouraging literacy and education as well as providing literature for leisure and information. MPs need to know what a real 21st century library service can provide – so that they can join the thousands who are trying to prevent their branches being closed and services mutilated.” Andrew Coburn, Secretary of The Library Campaign

“A reading child is a successful child. The National Literary Trust has found that a child who goes to a library is twice as likely to read well as one who doesn’t. The UK currently stands at 25th in the PISA International Reading ranking. Libraries are vital to improving this position. We have to fight for the defence and extension of public library services.” Alan Gibbons, Author and Organiser of Campaign for the Book

“The professional skills and expertise of library staff are core to providing the public with a quality library service. Volunteers should supplement and enrich a professionally led service, not replace the knowledge and skills of staff. We are concerned that public library services in England are being damaged; the impact will be felt now and in the long term. We urge the Secretary of State to use his powers of intervention where there is clear evidence that the Public Libraries & Museums Act (1964) has been potentially breached. It is wrong to view public libraries solely as a cost; by providing opportunities for learning and literacy development libraries are an investment in communities, families and individuals.”  Annie Mauger, Chief Executive of CILIP

417 libraries (326 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.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

Actions you can take

News

She also suggests making strong use of your local library – admitting as a child she used to love wiling away the hours in her local library. There are such a range of books in your libraries. You never know what your child might be interested in or what might spark their imagination. It may not be the books you have heard or brought home. Allowing them free run to choose what appeals to them may surprise you!” Gruffalo creator comes to Derry - Derry Journal.

Changes

Bath – Consultation on closing all mobile libraries, online questionnaire.
Bolton – Highfield Library closed today.
Brent – Front of Willesden Green Library may be demolished
Leeds – £70k spent on Hunslet Library to improve building (leaky roof, failing windows, partially so
that the currently unused half of the building can be leased to another organisation.
Nottingham – Consultation ends on libraries future plan

Local News

  • Bath – Meetings called over future of Bath libraries - This is Bath.   Public consultation over proposal to close the councils’ mobiles.  Two meetings will take place after the official end of the consultation period. 
  • Bolton – First axed library shuts today - Bolton News.  “Highfield Library will shut at 5.30pm and a replacement neighbourhood collection service will start in its place from Monday. The collection service will be set up in the foyer of the Orchards building, in Highfield Road, which will also continue to be used as a social hub for the local community as a children’s centre and school, council chiefs said.”
  • Brent – Council Executive on Willesden Green library demolition - Save Kensal Rise Library.   “This meeting will discuss the report on the proposed development of Willesden Green Library, which includes the demolition of the old building in front of the modern library. A proposal has been put to the council that they keep both Kensal rise and Cricklewood libraries open whilst the development is carried out. There will be speakers from the libraries that have been closed by the council.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Libraries at the cutting edge – Argus.  The minority Green administration says it has managed to find £440,000 of savings in the library service without closing any facilities.”.  Two libraries are affected.  Opposition councillors oppose cuts.
  • Essex – Debt collectors being sent in to recover library fines - Yellow Advertiser.   “Last year the authority claimed around £648,000 in fines and say it could have been considerably more with more resources. A council spokeswoman said the agency would only look at people who owed more than £20.”. [Councillor quoted says agency has worked successfully elsewhere "including Kent". However, it's a bit early to tell in that case as Kent only announced the agency would be involved in late November - Ed.]
  • Hackney – Name row library to open - Hackney Citizen.  “The £4.4m project hit the headlines last year when Hackney Council announced plans to ditch the late C.L.R. James, a popular Afro-Trinidadian historian and journalist, from its name. Diane Abbott MP described the move as “an insult” to the author’s memory – he opened the existing Dalston library which bears his name – and 2,500 people signed a petition which helped reverse the decision.”
  • Kirklees – Future of Honley Library to be debated in public review - Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Clr Lyons said: “We were assured that the fate of the actual library is secure but staffing could be a problem. “The library officers seemed to make out that we knew what was going on, but we didn’t. “What we want is categoric support for the library in Honley. It’s a multi-functional place that’s much more than just books. There are computers and the schools come down to use it.”
  • Leeds – South Leeds: £70,000 project launched to restore Hunslet LibraryYorkshire Evening Post.   Problems inc.  leaking roof, poor windows, dreary interior.  Half of library currently in use as a library, council plans to lease the other half to another organisation when the work is done.
  • Nottingham – Citizens have their say on libraries - Council Watch UK.  1900 returns on libraries consultation.  “Not unexpectedly book borrowing was the most frequently used service and the one which was regarded as the most important. Children’s activities were also highly regarded, whether used or not by respondents. Wi-fi was the main service citizens wished libraries offered, particularly customers amongst younger age groups and non-users.”.  Wifi and e-books to be considered.  Views evenly split on the use of volunteers. 
  • Redbridge – Two-thirds of library members in Woodford Green not borrowing books - Guardian series.  “Concerns have been raised over the future of libraries in Redbridge after it emerged that two-thirds of library card holders in Woodford Green are not using them. Research by Cllr Paul Canal revealed just 3,000 of the 10,000 cardholders registered with Woodford Green Library in Snakes Lane West have borrowed an item in the last year.”.  Use it or lose it, residents advised.
  • Somerset – U-turn over future of libraries - View Online.   “In making the decision, Councillor Lawrence, cabinet member for community services, also outlined the council’s approach to deciding the future funding and shape of the Library Service. Elected members will consider the future of the service as part of a service review due to start in April, 2012. All of the Councilís services are being reviewed over the next 18 months. The council aims to install self-service technology into its ten busiest libraries, which will include Chard,  and opening hours are due to be reinstated by Monday, February 6th at Chard, Crewkerne and Ilminster. Funding for South Petherton will not be withdrawn.”

The dog does not bark

Comment

Somerset Council have entirely taken back their decision to close libraries and mobiles after a successful legal challenge brought against them by their users.  This should be a great victory for everyone and, certainly, the campaigners involved should be proud and deserve their celebration.  However, there are clear indications that the council thinks they can simply close them down again by this time making sure that they go through all the legal stuff properly that they messed up the first time around.  If this happens and their legal interpretation proves to be correct – Gloucestershire Council appear to be thinking along the same lines – then this makes it all, in the words of one councillor, meaningless.  I truly hope that this is not the case.
For what it is worth, I think this shows the importance of the Secretary of State in all of this.  The councils think that they can get away with it if he is, through action or more likely inaction, effectively on their side.  Their lawyers must be calculating that if Jeremy Hunt or Ed Vaizey didn’t lift a finger last time then they’re not going to this time.  The CMS Committee on Library Closures must be aware, or be made aware, of this elephant in the room when it comes to the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.  There’s no point in statutory protection if the person whose statutory duty it is to enforce it simply will not do so and cannot be forced to do so.

There is a Sherlock Holmes case which hinged on a dog not barking.  Well, the Secretary of State is not making any noise at the moment and that is why many smaller public libraries appear to be in danger of being murdered. 

424 libraries (333 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.

Can you help?

    • Book the singer of the “We Need Libraries” songs to promote the cause at a place near you.
    • Freedom of information requests to the MLA – If you are wanting to know what information the MLA (the former quango with some responsibility for public libraries), put in FOI requests as soon as possible.  The MLA still has a skeleton staff but this will be wound up shortly and it will be harder to gain the information when it is. Requests to MLA for information about what they know on library closures should be put in early, to allow for time to complain to the ICO before May.  Groups may want to seek informaiton (a) in the form of notes, minutes, memoranda or correspondence relating to any discussions or meetings after [date] with [the relevant authority] concerning reorganisation of the library service and any reports to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport relating thereto, and (b) otherwise as thought appropriate on the facts of the individual case.
    • National Libraries Day, 4th February 2012 - Organise an event or publicise an existing one on the excellent NLD website.

News

  • Find a libraryCulture Grid.  Type in your location, it tells you where your nearest library is.  Simples.
  • Libraries are essential, trade tells MPBookSeller.  BookSeller’s Association says volunteer-run libraries are “unsustainable”.  “Libraries are valued by publishers as a means of developing new audiences and encouraging general enjoyment of reading, thereby complementing the role of the high street. At a time when bookshops are under pressure, this kind of support is crucial.”  Society of Authors says many authors dependent on libraries.
  • McDonald’s: UK’s biggest children’s book seller - Telegraph.  Happy Meal will, as a one-off, come with a book (Mudpuddle Farm) instead of a plastic toy.  “Literacy campaigners said it did not matter if McDonald’s decision was prompted by a desire to improve its image. Eight out of ten all families with young children visit the fast-food company at least once over the course of the year, so there was a strong chance they would end up with a book.”
  • National Libraries DaySchool Library Association.  “The School Library Association is proud to be a partner in this important event and will be announcing various resources over the next few weeks that may be of use to you in your library.”.  Includes poster and ideas. 
  • Selfridges to open in-story library - Guardian.  Stores sets up 15,000 book pop-up library as part of its Words Words Words event. At a time when many libraries are under threat, the department store has opened a pop-up branch for the next seven weeks. “Although the temporary nature of the library means visitors will be unable to take the books away, they can use the 3,500 sq ft space as a reading room and as a bookstore. They can also listen to audio books at listening posts, and read works on iPads.”
  • Things to cut before closing libraries - Leave Our Libraries Alone.  A list of suggestions, often with a highly humorous twist, about, well, things to cut before closing libraries.

Changes

Swindon – eBooks introduced. Stock fund will probably be cut by 15%, spending on magazines and newspapers halved
Warrington - Board members vacancies advertised for Warrington Cultural Charitable Trust, including libraries.
West Berkshire - Newbury Library hours to be cut three hours per week to cut £15p.a. from budget.  

Local News

  • Dorset – Libraries seek volunteers - BBC.   Nine branches could close if enough volunteers are not found.  Portland Underhill especially likely to close.  “Tracey Long, head of Dorset Library Service, said if communities were not “ready or willing” to take on the responsibility of running the libraries the council may look to close them” [referred to as "blackmail" in BookSeller article above].  Also, there are worries about the long-term viability of volunteers once the enthusiasm wears off.
  • Somerset – Library victory “could prove meaningless” – This is Somerset.   “County councillor Derek Yeomans told Langport town councillors last week that the authority would continue to review all its services and that new consultations on the future of the county’s libraries were likely.” … “Mr Yeomans suggested that the county council would merely do the consultations again, ensuring complete compliancy with equality laws, before reaching the same conclusions. He said: “The libraries will go back to as they were before with the old opening times. “What we will then have to do is have more consultations and address the equalities issues we were pulled up on.”
  • Swindon – Library to introduce eBook scheme - This is Wiltshire.   “Swindon Council’s library service has recently signed a deal with American firm Overdrive to provide eBooks and downloadable audiobooks from next month.”.  Comment is interesting: “That is great news. Since getting a Kindle I haven’t been to the Library and feel bad about not supporting them anymore. So I can still do it now :D”
    • Consultation due to end on council’s planned budget cuts - Swindon Advertiser.   “There would be savings from libraries by bringing down the stock fund by 15 per cent, in line with similar councils, and reducing the range of newspapers and magazines by 50 per cent.” … ““There’s usually one or two areas in the budget that might initiate campaigns but we’ve had absolutely nothing like that this year.”
  • Warrington – Board Members advertised for Cultural TrustWarrington Council. “As board members you will act as non executive directors of the organisations. Meeting monthly initially and four times a year when established with a similar number of pre-briefing sessions. You will champion effective delivery of neighbourhood leisure, wellbeing lifestyle and library services via the community interest company and cultural services via the trust. “
  • West Berkshire – Changes to Newbury Library opening hours - Newbury Today.  Library will be no longer open 5 to 7 for two evenings a week but will be open one hour longer on Saturdays.  ““It doesn’t make sense to spend public money on keeping such a large venue open for so few people at the end of Mondays and Tuesdays, but makes perfect sense to extend Saturdays when there is likely to be a demand.
    “The net result will be a reduction in opening times of three hours a week which will also save £15,000 a year to help the council balance its budget, while at the same time meeting public need.”

Private Eye Libraries News Special

419 libraries (328 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.

Can you help?

News

  • 6 myths about why we don’t need libraries any more - Private Eye. [Not available on internet but Alan Gibbons' copy of text is linked].  Myths are (1) people don’t go to libraries (40% of adults do, 80% of children), (2) Everything is online (libraries provide subscription stuff for free and a lot of material that will probably never be digitised), (3) books are cheap (only supermarket bestsellers are and even these are too expensive for those on limited incomes), (4) libraries are not about buildings (yes they are, at least to some extent: for study space, meeting place, free space), (5) fewer libraries mean better services (not for those who need libraries the most and are limited to local amenities e.g. those on pensions, benefits or who are schoolchildren), (6) everyone is online (a lot aren’t, including 3m children and many older people).
  • 2012 Library RFID User Survey - RFID for Librarians.  RFID is the technology often used in public libraries for self-service machines, although it has other uses too.
  • Help! How much help should libraries be? - Undaimonia.   The question comes down to: how do libraries best help people? Is it by addressing their short-term need for information or is it by addressing their long-term need for information literacy? And who gets to make this decision: the librarians; the students; the university management? And since ‘helping’ is part of a library’s raison d’être, the question of what level of help to provide leads to the question of what a library’s purpose is. Bob Usherwood wrote a great post for Voices for the Library about the purpose of public libraries and their corresponding level of help. Do we need to ask the same existential questions for academic libraries?”

Joy of Books – This must have taken forever to do and is quite magical.

  • National Libraries Day is February 4th - Information Review. “Library users and supporters are being encouraged to organise a celebratory event, to contribute to the forums by tweeting with the #nld12 hashtag and by visiting their local library in the week up to and including February 4.”
  • New year, new cut - Information World Review.  This is an article recommending everyone have a look at a certain blog called Public Libraries News which “remains as essential as ever” due to the CMS Select Committee Inquiry into Library closures.  [Sounds like a great website :-) - ed.]
  • On borrowed time? A Libraries News Special - Private Eye.  [Not available online but Alan Gibbons' copy of text is linked] A full page in the magazine on library cuts including:
    • Bexley volunteer-run library charging membership, “In 2012, more and more areas will be offered a choice of this kind of library…. or nothing at all.”, “since March 2011 proposals to close, merge or give away libraries to volunteer groups have rocketed”.
    • Doncaster 14 branches closed/forced onto volunteers “But that’s all right because last week the authority    announced it has now “improved and modernised” its service with the launch of a new   “digital library” with ebooks to download at home. So, good news at least for library users who can afford fast internet and e-reading  devices?  Er, the digital library contains a grand total of 456 titles and, thanks to Amazon’s restrictive rights management, doesn’t currently work with Kindles.”, 
    • Kirklees is cutting branches, 
    • Buckinghamshire’s “success” volunteer-run libraries admit their model would not work in less prosperous areas. 
    • Privatisation/outsourcing efforts so far “underwhelming”: LSSI has none while Lewisham’s outsourcing appears unsucessful so far. 
    • Suffolk following Glasgow’s trust model, despite problems.  
    • Coaltion government failing to do anything, with action being left to communities needing to organise their own legal challenges.
    • Bradford Library reduced to lower floors due to unsafe stairs and other needed building work that would cost £4m.  Councils is “spending more than £24m on a brand-new paved  park next to the town hall, consisting largely of a mirror pool with over 100 fountains,  which will claim the useful distinction of being, er, the largest “man-made urban water feature” in the UK.”.
    • Kent and Essex have hired US debt collection agency. “Both authorities have refused to say how much they are paying out to Unique  Management Services to collect the funds, citing commercial confidentiality, but local charities have suggested that the more usual book amnesty might get the missing stock back without scaring vulnerable library users with debt collection letters.”


Changes

Local News

  • Bexley – Bexley and Bromley library merger takes shape - Bexley Times.  “The merger was not supposed to happen until April but was brought forward after Bexley had its mobile library service axed in July when 24 workers lost their jobs.”.  “Bromley council leader Stephen Carr, said: “Shared services give us the opportunity to make necessary savings during this unprecedented time of financial constraints, while continuing to provide efficient services to residents. We are utilising skills and knowledge from services in Bromley and Bexley to benefit both authorities. We look forward to working more closely with our neighbours in Bexley.”
  • Calderdale – Library opening hours will be slashed - Halifax Courier.  Community services spokeswoman Coun Pauline Nash (Lib-Dem, Skircoat) told Calderdale Council Cabinet that reducing opening hours was the only way to avoid library closures. “There are times when every library is very very quiet and by changing the opening hours, we are trying to spread the load,” she said. In a survey in 2010, users said they wanted longer opening hours.” [I wonder how many of the public said to cut opening hours in order to pay for new computers for systems analysis?  Ed.]
  • Gloucestershire – Library Service’s book fund: where has all the money gone? - FoGL.  “Since the early 1990s, Gloucestershire’s spending on library services in general, and the stock fund in particular,  has been one of the lowest of any shire county nationally (measured by spend per head of population). The annual spend on stock was usually between £950,000 and £1.1 million per year in Gloucestershire.  This may seem a lot but between 43 libraries is actually quite a low spend.”.  Stock fund (books/CDs/other materials) has reduced from £1.193m in 2007/8 to £351k in 2010/11.  Due to court decision, council is spending more in 2012 to make up for last year’s cut.
  • Hackney – To see new library opening this monthNet Lettings.  “Spread over three floors and covering 2,964 sq m, the new site features adult, teenager and children’s sections, with each area colour-coded for ease of getting around, while a quick picks area is also available for those in a hurry.”
  • Milton Keynes – New Woburn Sands Library to be opened by author Josephine Cox – MK News.   “The new library is the result of a new Partnership Agreement between Milton Keynes Council and Woburn Sands Town Council. The library is more accessible than the current premises in Hardwick Road and is located in a prominent site on Woburn Sands High Street.”.  “The refurbishment of the new premises is being paid for by local housing developments through Section 106 funding to provide community facilities.”
  • North Somerset – Library opening hours cut – Mercury.   Newly opened (nine months ago) Portishead Library to have its hours cut.  “Councillor Felicity Baker, executive member for libraries, said the need for cost-cutting was a ‘blessing in disguise’ and allowed the council to examine its library practices closely and encourage them to work together more effectively. She said: “I actually believe all the communities around North Somerset will have a better service.”
    • Council proposes library changes - BBC.   “Christina Cook, from Unison in Bristol, said: “Once again the council’s cuts are having the greatest impact on the community and the service the community loves. “It’s brilliant to hear that no libraries are closing but the impact of this whole proposal is on significant changes to staff hours and how the libraries will be manned.”
  • Rotherham – MP praises novel way to start reading - Star.   “John Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, gave his backing during a visit where he saw just how popular the project is. And he pledged to mention the scheme during a Parliamentary debate he has organised on Government policy on early reading programmes. Mr Healey said the Imagination Library – which sees children under five receive a new book every month – should be extended nationally. He said: “Schemes like this help children’s imagination to grow and set them on a path towards a lifetime of loving books. Children whose parents read with them from a young age are more likely to succeed in later life.””
  • Surrey – County Council responds to legal threat over library plans - Eagle Radio.  Legal came came too late and is misjudged”.  Council also says it is too late to appeal on decision first made in March 2011 and that forcing volunteers to take over libraries or see them close is not the same as officially closing them.  
    • Council says libraries group “too late” with legal threatGet Surrey.   “A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “We believe that SLAM has left it too late to start proceedings in the High Court. The decisions they want to challenge were made in March and September 2011, beyond the three-month limit required to launch a judicial review. “The mobile library service ended on 30 September 2011 and plans for community partnership libraries are well advanced, with the first one expected to be up and running on Saturday 4 February.”
  • Thurrock – A new vision for borough’s libraries - Thurrock Gazette.  “The results of a Thurrock libraries survey in September and October showed that of the 745 people who took part, 344 wanted different opening times at their closest library.Other changes suggested included more refreshment facilities and the roll out of Wi-Fi as well as more activities for children and toddlers.” 

Good news

Comment

It is a sad truth that, most days, writing this blog is a fairly depressing experience.  However, occasionally, just occasionally, good news outweighs the bad.  Today appears to be one of those days. Caerphilly is proclaiming a very impressive list of library upgradings and openingsHackney is about to open a new library twice the size of the old one it replaces and promises to be one of the biggest in the country.  Nottinghamshire has committed to keep all its libraries open and is reopening Mansfield Library after a £3.4m investment.  It seems more likely, too, that Somerset will be keeping all its libraries open.
Sadly, behind this good news there’s a year of bad, of course.  In 2011, Hackney cut its library staff by a quarter last year and cut down events from 500 to 200, mainly to be run by volunteers.  Last year, also, Nottinghamshire almost halved opening hours in many branches, losing 80 jobs and a third of its bookfund.  Somerset – well, most readers of this blog will know why Somerset is being nice to its libraries.  Because campaigners went to the Law Courts and won a case to force them to.   There’s a lot of effort behind that good news and the money still needs to be saved there: libraries may not close but the money still apparently needs to be saved.  Which is not going to be easy.
Caerphilly is the joker in the pack.  That seems to be genuinely all good news.  Strange that.  Until one realises, Caerphilly is, of course, not in England.  It’s in Wales.  They have library standards there.  Actual standards that library services are measured against and made to feel bad about if they do not do well.  In England, councils who brutally cut their libraries have no such worries.  They appear to be able to do as they will. 

426 libraries (335 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.

Can you help?

News

  • British Library hires lobbyist Susan Adams to strengthen voice in Parliament - PR Week.  As head of advocacy Susan Adams will promote the British Library’s issues, activity and policies to external stakeholder groups, including government and Parliament.” … “‘The library contributes a great deal to the social, economic, cultural and educational life of our country, and I’m looking forward to communicating this wide-ranging impact to policy makers.”
  • Dan Jarvis: a very unlikely arts minister - Guardian.  Shadow libraries minister recently served with Special Forces in Afghanistan and had just received a MBE for his military record.  “Jarvis is a confusing proposition as shadow culture minister. On the one hand, there is his self-confessed unfamiliarity with the subject. But that is offset by what is clearly a burning sense of duty, wrought from years in the army, to do a job well. The danger is that as soon as he has assimilated enough to be an effective shadow to Ed Vaizey, he will be reshuffled. Needless to say, he counters this, saying that he hopes he and his boss, shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman, will be doing their current jobs in government in three and a half years’ time.”
  • Glad tidings of mood-boosting reading - Guardian.   “As the yearly dump of diet and health titles hit bookshops, here’s another reason to love libraries: branches across the country are promoting “mood-boosting” books through January, with titles ranging from Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie to Tove Jansson’s wonderful A Winter Book. The promotion, says organiser The Reading Agency, follows research that shows reading improves mental wellbeing and reduces stress by over two-thirds.”
  • Priceless? A blog on the very idea of measuring cultural value - DCMS Blog.   “The aim of this interactive blog is to consult widely with the cultural sector on issues and concerns surrounding ‘measuring cultural value’, especially the public value of the arts, heritage, libraries and museums.” … “DCMS has a finite budget, and not everything can be funded, so how should DMCS go about deciding what to support with public money? Is the economic case the bottom line?”

Changes

Local News

  • Caerphilly – Residents urged urged to visit their libraries - South Wales Argus.  A new library has opened at the former Palace cinema, Risca, Blackwood library has undergone a £200,000 transformation, while a new facility is set to open in Abercarn and the restored Newbridge Memo will incorporate a library. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries was set up last week, seeking to ensure that public sector cuts don’t devastate the provisions around the UK. But, in Caerphilly county, the future of libraries looks bright.”
  • Croydon – Everything’s rosy in Wandsworth - Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.   Regarding Wandsworth deputy leader’s  very pro-privatisation piece in Guardian: no residents suggested privatisation, financial advantage is highest priority in securing deal (not maintaining or improving service).  “Given Croydon’s current situation, now at breaking point, over the running of Upper Norwood Joint Library (UNJL), only a fool would try to negotiate another joint council deal. Yet, despite being incapable of working with Lambeth on UNJL, Croydon was silently setting up this deal with Wandsworth and forge ahead with their plans.”  Analysis of cuts to Croydon and Wandsworth so far does not appear to show future is quite as promising as the headling.
  • Gloucestershire – Public meeting for Matson Library’s future - Friends of Matson Library.  “The meeting is not only for Matson residents but for anyone who cares about the future of Matson library. The Council will be publishing their draft proposals on or before the date of the meeting before they go to the council cabinet on 20th January then public consultation on 1st February (ish). It is vital that we let them know our views before it goes to the cabinet.”
  • Hackney – New super library set to open its doors - London Evening Standard.    “A new state-of-the-art public library is to open in Hackney, the first to be built in the borough for more than 20 years. Dalston CLR James, set to open its doors on January 23, is twice the size of CLR James library which it is replacing – making it one of the country’s largest.”
“We want this brand new library to be a community hub, somewhere that all residents can make use of whether it’s for books, study space, the free use of computers or to hold community meetings and events.” The building will stock more than 32,000 items – including 9,500 children’s books and 17,000 for adults, as well as more than 1,600 free CDs and DVDs. It also has 20 dedicated study spaces, 57 computers and free wi-fi.”

  • Liverpool – Future is ragged trousered schoolkids, says Larry Nield - Liverpool Confidential.  The “Big question is whether the people of Woolton Village will take over running of their doomed village library – I guess they will, and with so many academics and bookworms living in the south Liverpool “brain valley”, the library could end up as the best stocked in the city. “
  • Nottinghamshire – Mansfield Library opens after £3.4m investment - BBC.  “Mansfield Library has reopened after £3.4m of investment from Nottinghamshire County Council. The refurbishment to the facility on West Gate included essential repairs to the building which has made it the biggest library in Nottinghamshire.”
“Councillor John Cottee, cabinet member for culture and community, said: “They are the hearts of our communities.You only need to look at the different ages of people using the library in Mansfield and see the different things we have on offer.”

  • Somerset – South Petherton Library saved from the axe - This is the West Country.   “A council spokesman said: “The decision to be taken on January 11 would confirm our actions to restore library services in response to the Judicial Review judgement. It would also approve the council’s approach to deciding the future funding of the library service – that elected members should consider taking a fresh decision following a service review scheduled to start in April.””

One year ago today in Stony Stratford

Comment
 
It was  year ago today that the Save Stony Stratford Library campaign started clearing it’s beloved branch of books in order to increase publicity and thus pressure on their council.  The scheme worked, probably beyond the campaigners’ wildest dreams, leading to articles such as this and this and this and then, well, it just snowballed.  One year later and Stony Stratford Library is still open.  Well done to them. 

426 libraries (335 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.

Can you help?

News

  • Charities scared to speak out amid cuts, says report - Guardian.  In a pointed reference to the government’s “big society” rhetoric, the panel warned that charities’ contributions to society could be eroded if safeguards were not introduced to preserve their independent voice.” … “The proportion of voluntary sector organisations delivering public services rose from 20% to 31% between 2008 and 2010. But the overall funding pot is shrinking, with some estimating as much as £3bn could be lost from the charity sector by 2015 as a result of Whitehall and local government funding cuts..”
  • Computer charging - Posting on PUB-LIBs discussion site on current state of play, anonymised from responses by discussion board members.
  • It’s time to privatize the Chicago Public Library System - Concerned Citizens of Chatham (USA).   ” It would help the system make good on the promise, of building stand alone branches, it made to a number of communities. Also, they could restore extended hours to those facilities that justify the need and bring in modern technology (i.e computers, e-readers, etc). When we look at most college bookstores in our city. most carry as many books as our branch libraries. Would it be a strech for them to start a new division to run libraries?”
  • Reading Agency to cheer up readers - BookSeller.  “The launch will kick off with an event at Canada Water library on Monday 23rd January with authors Mark Haddon and Michael Rosen, whose essays both feature in Stop What You’re Doing and Read This!. The book will feature as BBC Radio 4 “Book of the Week” between 9th and 13th January, with Vintage also launching a digital marketing campaign this month to encourage debate around the importance of reading.”
  • We need libraries single/tour - “We Need Libraries single released 29th January to coincide with National Libraries Day 4th Debruary, all profits going to library campaigns,available at itunes,amazon etc this is the amazon link,please keep it! http://www.amazon.co.uk/We-Need-Libraries/dp/B006TOAT2U. It will be accompanied by a tour,1st confirmed gig 30th January Manchester Ram and Shackle, Wilmslow Road, more to be confirmed soon including hopefully a London date! If you are a promoter or venue please get in touch with me if you would like me do a gig at your venue/night ,or if you’re just a punter please suggest a gig to any suitable venues/nights email weneedlibraries@hotmail.co.uk”

Changes

Local News

  • Brighton and Hove – Greens asked to “come clean” over Brighton and Hove library services - Argus.  The Green minority administration says it must carry out the steps, which includes a review into library opening hours and not replacing the mobile library, to meet the Government-imposed cuts.”.  ““Quite clearly, it appears that the Greens have the manual on U-turns out on long-term loan.””. Conservatives attacking Greens for being pro-library in opposition and now planning £170k (4% cuts).  [To be fair to the Greens, this is probably one of the lowest cuts in the country and they are planning to replace a mobile library with a new library - Ed.]
  • East Sussex – Multi-million pound expansion plan for Hastings Library - Observer series. “library service in Hastings is set to be expanded under a multi-million pound plan which could include a new archive and register office.”, “refurbish the existing library and bring together the adult and children’s library on one expanded site. The register office and archive service could also be relocated to the new building.”
“We live in times when library services in some other parts of the country are being cut back. It is very encouraging that we will be getting an enhanced library facility.”

  • Gloucestershire – Change in library hours welcomed - Cotswold Journal.  Moreton Library will have its hours extended from 12 to 23 after Gloucestershire County Council approved plans to share the library premises with other bodies.” … “Library users in the Cotswolds have something to look forward to this year with library hours returning to normal in some areas.”.  In comments, campaigners says “There seems to have been some important information ommited here. Gloucestershire County Council have to reinstate ALL library opening hours to previous levels on order of the High Court after their library cuts plans were ruled unlawful in November 2011.”.  Article also includes description of Oxfordshire library moves towards keeping libraries open with volunteers.
  • Kirklees – Protest meeting in Honley over library plans in villages - Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  Meeting organised by Book Group over plans to transfer seven libraries to volunteers. 
  • Liverpool – Letter to Liverpool Echo about library cuts - Alan Gibbons.  “As a city and a country can we really afford to downgrade the importance of literacy in this way? Are too many of our citizens reading Shakespeare and Dickens, Shelley and Bainbridge? Are hospitals full of people suffering the effects of a literacy overdose?”
  • North Somerset – Plans for library cuts unveiled - Mercury.   £347k cut in three years, inc. opening hours and staffing cuts, more self-service and more volunteers.  ““We want to continue to provide library services to communities that currently get them. For us to do this we are proposing some changes to opening hours and different ways of working, but this is better than closing libraries completely.”
  • Oxfordshire – Office move sparks fears for future of library - Oxford Mail.   Oxford Council is closing its offices that share the building of Headington Library, causing worries about the future of this “core” library.
  • Sandwell – Controversy as Sandwell Council cuts to opening hoursHalesown News. 20% budget cut over next 3 years: 6 libraries (Cradley Heath, Blackheath, Brandhall, Bleakhouse, Rounds Green and Langley) to have reduced hours, services will be merged with other authorities, less staff, more self-service.    “Cabinet member for leisure services Councillor Linda Horton said: “The council is facing significant reductions in its funding and in line with expected reductions Libraries and Archives face a 20 per cent loss of net expenditure budget over the next three years.”
  • Surrey – Novel approach as library campaigner wins award - Get Surrey.  East Horsley Parish Council has given award to Mr Smee who “was most notably involved in the campaign to save Horsley Library after Surrey County Council announced that several would be turned into volunteer-run community sites.”
    • Spiteful vandalism of precious library - SLAM.  Tattenhams Library has had counter taken away, with services entirely replaced by one self-service machine.
      “This library is now out of the loop. The supply of new books has dried up. Staff cannot help the public to request books, to override the system when sensible, or to look up their PIN if a computer is free. As time goes on I’m sure users will be shocked at how little “service” is left. Staff are reduced to shelving and to helping disgruntled, if not furious, people to borrow and return books. What a way to spend their last weeks in a job that they used to love.”

  • Warwickshire – First community library opens in Kineton - BBC.   “Kineton branch is now run by Friends of Kineton Library after Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet approved cuts to the service last year.”.  Users can issue with council library cards.  Article includes video with chairman.
“Mike Harris, chairman of Friends of Kineton Library, said: “It’s very important that we have a library in village, particularly for the elderly who will be able to have access to books. The village is losing facilities, such as the police and fire stations, and as ordinary citizens we can’t do much about it. But when the library closed, we could do something about it and maintain the availability of the library to people in the village.”

  • Worcestershire – School receives books boost from MPWorcester Standard.  “Mr Walker has decided to give the books to Gorse Hill Community Primary School after winning the prize in a library-themed quiz at the launch of the new Libraries Group in the Houses of Parliament.”

If you tolerate this

428 libraries (337 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.

Can you help?

Everyone – Submit evidence/views to Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Library Closures before Thursday 12th January.
Surrey – Campaigners are looking for someone who qualifies for legal aid (owns less than £8000) in order to challenge council over library cuts.  Must be a Surrey resident.

News

  • Campaign for the Book Newsletter - Alan Gibbons.   Looks at the legal actions Glos/Somerset/Brent, closures, Liverpool cuts and National Libraries Day.
  • “If you tolerate this …”: Nicky Wire on library closures - Guardian (Music).  “Libraries were my band’s lifeline, writes Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers. We must fight for them.” … “One of the most amazing things about public libraries remains their utter classlessness. You don’t have to have gone to Eton to make the most out of a library. They aren’t inhabited by the kind of people currently damning them.”
“It’s hard not to feel utterly despondent at the current plight of public libraries. Along with the NHS and the BBC, our libraries are some of the few truly remarkable British institutions left. So often absolutely ordinary in appearance, a good library should offer escape routes down the most extraordinary avenues, pathways into different worlds from the one you’ve left outside. Ridding our villages, towns and cities of libraries, which are essential in shaping a nation’s consciousness, seems like a direct attack on the soul of the country.”

  • Islwyn MP joins campaign to save libraries - South Wales Argus.  MP Chris Evans has joined other politicians in campaigning for Britain’s libraries to be preserved. They helped launch the All Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries (APPGL), which will seek to ensure that continued public sector cuts don’t devastate the provision.”
  • Library - Rainy Day Mum.  One of my goals for 2012 is that we make a regular visit to the library. This time last year our local library was under threat of closure – the county were going to close all but 3 or 4 of the libraries – we supported the “Save the library” campaign and attended the Book Start groups for Babies and Toddlers (J was between the two groups at the time), but funding was cut to let the libraries stay open and the toddler group was gone and for some reason we stopped going. Towards the end of the year we started again when I realised that we needed to add books to our collection, so we have decided to make it our goal each week to go and visit the library.”
  • Point of View: Why didn’t Harry Potter just use Google? - BBC.  Potter was written justg before the invention of Google. Internet has changed it all: “There is all too little danger of the knowledge currently accumulating in floods – multiply-owned, stored and captured – being lost. Rather, if we are going to make sense for posterity of today’s information-saturated present, one of the things we will have to learn to do is decide how to prune the evidence, and ultimately, what to forget.”
  • Universities collected £50m in library fines, figures show – Guardian.   “With fines as little as 10p for each day a book is overdue, it shows that students are returning thousands of books late each year. But many are never returned – more than 300,000 university library books remain unaccounted for.”

Changes 

Calderdale – 1 mobile to end, cuts in opening hours in “Brighouse, Elland, Hebden Bridge, King Cross, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden from 45 to 37 hours a week.”.
Warrington - 6/1/12 Grappenhall Library taken over by volunteers eight months after it was closed: group: Friends of Grappenhall Library. 

Local News

  • Bradford – Extended building would accommodate convenience store - Ilkley Gazette. Plan for Co-op store to open, with library.  “There has been a big response to the proposal from the community, including both letters of support for the development and a petition against the plans. The Co-op already has a store in a former newsagents premises on Station Road, Burley, but wants to move to bigger premises. There has been a big response to the proposal from the community, including both letters of support for the development and a petition against the plans. The Co-op already has a store in a former newsagents premises on Station Road, Burley, but wants to move to bigger premises.”
  • Brent – Update January 2012 - Save Kensal Rise Library.   “We may not be given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in which case we will explore other options, and we have other options. We believe this community needs a library and that is the end we are pursuing.” … public meeting soon, “pop-up” library continuing, business plan for running library created.  Artist Jamie Reid has done poster for campaign, to be launched at start of February.
  • Brighton and Hove – An unsavoury morsel - Christopher Hawtree.   Conservative MP called Cllr Hawtree (a well-known library campaigner) the Dr Beeching of library services.  Cllr replies “I have urged a continuing, central place for public libraries despite the fact that Mr Weatherley’s own Government is imposing cuts of up to a third on Council budgets over the next few years.” … “What is proposed is to use the mobile library as a temporary one while the adjacent branch library in Woodingdean is rebuilt. For fifty years Woodingdean has had a temporary one but the new one will be twice the size. Pretty bloody good in these times.”.  Priority will be on bookfund.
  • Calderdale – “Drop new library and rescue all the others” - Halifax Courier.   “A total of 2,235 people responded to the latest council survey on opening hours and they were equally divided over whether there should be cuts to the six biggest branches.”
“What is the point of spending millions on a new library and archives in Halifax when other library services are being slashed?” said Coun Stout (Ind, Brighouse). “Of course there are some serious decisions to take about cutting costs but it is no good protecting Halifax to the exclusion of everywhere else,” he said.”

  • Dudley – Library to close while asbestos is removed - Stourbridge News.   ““Although it is unfortunate the library has to close for one week, it is necessary to ensure the asbestos can be removed safely. The housing office located on the ground floor of the library will, however, remain open as normal while the work is carried out.”
  • Hampshire – Cuts in services loom again – Gazette. A further 8% cut to all services, following a previous 8% cut last year.  Cuts of “£4.7m in libraries, museums and country parks.” … “Library opening hours have also been cut. The council is aiming to make the savings it needs to in two years instead of four as a result of the Government squeeze on spending.” [presumably to have extra boasting points while cutting services prematurely by two years? - Ed.]
  • Hertfordshire – County Council axe school library service - Advertiser 24.  “A plea to save the schools’ library service has been snubbed after the county council agreed to axe the resource aimed at boosting literacy among all children and young people throughout Herts.”.  Service cancelled because it was not making a profit. 
  • Liverpool – Letter from Council Leader - Liverpool Echo. “It is by being imaginative that we have brought forward proposals which will retain 85% of our libraries despite a cut in the budget of a quarter.” … “Cllr Kemp suggests placing libraries in schools. We have done this at West Derby and would have liked to do it with more schools as part of wave six of Building Schools for the Future, but unfortunately his government axed the scheme.”
  • Middlesbrough – Thousands sign petitions over Middlesbrough council cuts - BBC.   17000 signed peition against cuts.  “The planned closure of youth centres and libraries has also prompted about 800 letters to the borough council.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Kipper the Dog set for library opening - This is Nottingham.   “Improvements include a computer area with free wi-fi, dedicated children’s, local studies and professional gallery areas, a Discovery Room for courses and training, a new theatre space and thousands of books for all ages.”
  • Suffolk – Can you help with the future of Suffolk libraries? - Haverhill Echo.   “Community groups are being asked to nominate members to join an organisation being set up to run Suffolk’s libraries.”.. “Mr Fox said: “I’ve taken on this challenge because I believe it is the way forward for public services. To reflect local priorities, communities themselves must be fully engaged and sufficiently empowered to ensure the service delivers what they want. They must take responsibility for shaping their own destiny and making sure the services they receive are right for their communities and not just based on a single, ‘one size fits all’ solution.”
    • Board members sought for library enterprise - Bury Free Press.   “Letters went out this week to the county’s 44 libraries plus local groups who had expressed an interest in running them inviting nominations for the four other interim board positions, by January 22.”.  Will be in partnership with council.  “The IPS will be registered and appoint its interim board this month then, between February and May will apply for admission to the Local Government Pension Scheme and consult on and transfer employment responsibilities from the county.”
  • Warrington – Grappenhall villagers win campaign to take ownership of former council library - Warrington Guardian.   “A group of campaigners in Grappenhall have been handed the keys to the village library – nine months after it closed. The Friends of Grappenhall Library, a group of volunteers, won the right to take ownership of the building after the council closed it as part of budget cuts.” … “We already have a good mix of 3,500 books to fill the library from fiction to non-fiction and adult to children’s.” 
  • Worcestershire – New year timetable for Worcestershire mobile libraries  - Shuttle.   “Rural communities are being urged to make the most of Worcestershire County Council’s mobile library service, with a new year timetable available.”

Horror Section

Comment

Some further information (from the ever helpful LibraryWeb) about the cuts in Liverpool.  He has commented that there were around 50 staff lost last year so, along with the 76 losses announced yesterday, that means almost a full one half will be lost (126 of 260) will be lost since 2010.  That is one large cut  and it is hard, on the face of it, to see how the libraries can remain as “comprehensive and efficient” as they were two years ago.  Of course, given the current Secretary of State, legally it does not matter that the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act is in danger of being contravened – he’s not going to do anything about it.  However, it shows that the headline figure below of library closures is just a small part of the story.  Indeed, that “story” is beginning to resemble that often found in the Horror section, and not the ones with the impossibly handsome male/beautiful female vampires on the cover either.

428 libraries (337 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.

Can you help?

Everyone – Submit evidence/views to Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee on Library Closures before Thursday 12th January.
London – Attend a rally at Willesden Library, Brent on Saturday 7th January. 
Surrey – Campaigners are looking for someone who qualifies for legal aid (owns less than £8000) in order to challenge council over library cuts.  Must be a Surrey resident.

News

  • Are libraries a priority in a downturn? - BBC.   “Across the UK one in 10 libraries has been under threat of closure, more than 400 in all. Yet, London appears to have escaped relatively unscathed with just three councils definitely closing libraries, in Brent, Lewisham and Waltham Forest – 13 in total.”.   Hillingdon and Wandsworth (“”We’ve had expressions of interest from over 30 organisations around the world who run libraries in different ways so we’re exploring that as a way of enhancing the service and do it more cheaply.”) examined, as is Brent and York Gardens (Campaigner says”We did our own research to work out how residents used the library. We asked over 1,000 people and many used it for social and educational reasons but not to borrow books.”). News item likely also to be on BBC London programme this evening (Friday). 
  • Chicago Public Library lays off 176 employees, closes 75 branches on Mondays - Library Journal.  $6.7m cut to budget means cuts.  Council blames trade union for making situation worse.
“Vintage, an imprint of The Random House Group, and independent charity The Reading Agency are to work together in partnership to launch Stop What You’re Doing and Read This! – a passionate, funny, revelatory and inspiring book about the transformative power of reading – and The Reading Agency’s Mood-boosting Books campaign. The partnership kicks off with a public launch event at Canada Water Library on Monday 23 January at 7pm with authors Mark Haddon and Michael Rosen joining Miranda McKearney, Director of The Reading Agency and Debbie Hicks from The Reading Agency to discuss the paramount importance of reading to our quality of life.” (Press Release. see also Southwark events).

  • Libraries fuck yeah - Diary of a contrarian librarian.  Poem about benefits of libraries.  Readers need hardly be warned that there’s a lot of swearing in it.
    “I have loved the library ever since I was six years old and that school librarian placed my first library book in my hands. I have learned much there, and have had many great adventures. This is why I have chosen to be a librarian. I want to be able to help other people learn to love the library as I have. It is a magical place where anything is possible – even surviving a zombie apocalypse.” My Library Love AffairMynx Writes.

Changes

Lancashire – Brierfield Library £500k upgrade inc. more meeting rooms and Arts project.
 
Local News

  • Brent – Sat 7th Jan: Willesden Library Rally - Save Kensal Rise Library.   “There will be a rally outside Willesden library this Saturday from 11-1pm in order to raise awareness amongst the community of Willesden about their loss of facilities and building. Brent council are considering alternative locations for this Library whilst they close it for upgrades. The council are not considering Cricklewood Library or Kensal Rise library as alternative locations, despite the fact they are both currently available and are perfectly suited to being libraries. Apparently Cricklewood and Kensal Rise libraries are “too far away”.”
  • Croydon – Irresponsible Lambeth, apparently - Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.   “So when Cllr Arram speaks of acting in “such an irresponsible and damaging way” perhaps he should take a look at his own Council’s track record and actions. Croydon’s refusal to meet and the only options given to Lambeth which absolve Croydon of any responsibility for this library, used by its residents, seems far from responsible or constructive.”
  • Gloucestershire – Hopes for a win/win for Matson Library - Friends of Matson Library.  Details of meeting between campaigners and council (inc. new libraries chief) in preparation for new council plans for libraries after their legal defeat.  “Jo Grills, who has only recently taken up her new post will be visiting Matson next week to see Matson Library for herself and to meet other community groups ahead of the formal consultation in February. Rough Timetable Proposed Plan for Gloucestershire Libraries c. 13th January Countnty Council vote on proposals 20th January Six Week Consultation c. 1st February.”
    • FoGL members meet with GCCFoGL.   Council officers have met with FoGL twice.  “They explained to us the process behind the new library review which is taking place at the moment, and which is based on a needs analysis, demographic information on the various library catchment areas, and information obtained during the previous consultation process. The council is also in discussion with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.”
  • Lancashire  – Pendle Library set for £500k facelift - Lancashire Telegraph.   Brierfield Library will be closed for 3 months for refurbishment inc meeting rooms and space for “In Situ” Arts project.  Lancashire Libraries have a £5m regeneration programme. 
“Unlike many other councils, we are not closing any of our libraries. In fact, we are continuing to invest in the service wherever we can. This will help to ensure that our libraries not only remain open but provide modern, flexible resources, fit for the 21st century. When Brierfield reopens in a few months’ time, local people will see an up-to-date, welcoming and accessible lib-rary the entire community can enjoy.”

  • Norfolk – Drunks, racial abuse and food fights: a year in the life of Norwich’s Millenium Library - EDP.  Staff at the city’s Millennium Library have had to deal with a racially-abusive man, teenagers throwing food and a girl punching another girl in the face. A security assistant also had his shins kicked in an unprovoked attack at closing time, according to the library’s staff logbook. A customer was banned for a month after he became abusive and threw a pencil when asked to stop drinking water in the heritage section. And a drunk woman started being “overly familiar” with staff, and another report describes how “unnecessarily loud moaning” could be heard from a man using a computer.” [An interesting insight into the darker side of library work: there's a lot worse out there though - the cleaning up of human faeces, for example, is not unknown - Ed.].
  • North Yorkshire – Selby and Sherburn library hours cuts - Selby Times.    “Selby is earmarked to see its hours sliced from 52 to 40, losing Sunday opening completely, and Sherburn will see opening times reduced to 30 hours from the current 39. Barlby Library is pencilled in for closure, although the village’s parish council is currently preparing a business plan with a view to taking the service over and using the building as a combined library and community centre.”
  • Northern Ireland – Curtailing library hours unthinkableNews Letter.   “To restrict access to such information is unthinkable. At a time when we are seeking to ‘grow our economy’ in the ‘info’ sector, to restrict availability in the rural ‘remainder’ is nothing less than discriminatory.”
  • Somerset – Libraries to stay open, says High Court - This is Somerset.   “Library services in Somerset which were under threat from public spending cuts will be officially restored by Somerset County Council next week. But their future will still be the subject of an 18-month review of all council services to begin in April”.

Liverpool

Comment

The big news today is about Liverpool.  It’s losing three library buildings and a mobile library and more than a third of its library staff.  Opening hours are facing big cuts in many branches.  The news makes the leader page in both the Liverpool Echo and the Liverpool Daily Post.  Amazingly for a city famous for its left-leaning politics, the Echo suggests that given cuts of such magnitude, perhaps volunteers running libraries isn’t such a bad idea after all.  The Council has said that it would consider passing the closing branches (whose stock will be relocated into other council buildings) to community groups.  This news, and an annoucement from Torbay about cuts, adds five more onto the headline tally of libraries under threat.
Many thanks, incidentally, to you all for the emails about yesterday’s posting about donation boxes in libraries.  It turns out that, while Lincolnshire may be the first council-run libraries to have them, Luton’s libraries (part of the Luton Culture Trust) have had such boxes since 2008. 
Northamptonshire council’s libraries have no less than ten different donation packages for members of the public to support their service, ranging from £3 for providing a one-hour jobhunting session to no less than £450 for providing a term of weekly homework club sessions.  Northamptonshire have also placed four donation boxes in their branches in 2011 which have generated £150 “without any publicity”.  Their review document says:
“We know it is illegal under the Act to directly charge for book borrowing and is likely to continue to be so. However, there is significant opportunity to encourage donations, charge for added value services and attract more significant income from organisational donors.”

It is significant that councils feel the need to do this.  It is also interesting that Trust’s have been the ones taking the lead.  It cannot bode well for a comprehensive and efficient library service that councils are finding it necessary to ask its users for more money than that already provided by Council Tax.  On the other hand, at least Northamptonshire appear to be using the money largely for value-added services.  The challenge for librarians, and councils, is to ensure that this is done with the needs of the service in mind rather than that of the Finance Department.  Times are so hard, though, that all options need to be considered and seen to be considered.  Even, it seems, in Liverpool.

428 libraries (337 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

  • Challenging government cuts: library closures - Law Think.  “Challenging the substance of a cuts decision is difficult for two reasons. Firstly, one has to establish that in making the decision the local authority was either irrational or acting outside of the statutory provision which requires them to provide services. However, almost all such statutory provisions are broad, allowing discretion to the authority.” … “Secondly, challenging the substance of a cuts decision is difficult because the decision on spending is for the local authority and not the court. In the Brent case, Mrs Bailey “accepted that in these times of economic difficulties, economies have to be made and decisions are primarily for democratically elected local authorities”. The court only can ensure the decision was taken by a legal means.”
“With the cuts affecting public services all over the country, this is certainly far from the last decision on the issue. Many of the issues that arise in these cases are similar. However, as long as a local authority follows the correct procedure in making a cuts decision and keeps good records of how that decision was made, then can probably fend off any legal challenges to their decision.”

  • Demise of the Public Library - International Herald Tribune.   Writer felt proud of British public libraries when visiting Pakistan where they do not have any and often buy cheap pirated books instead.  “I had no idea then of the crisis facing British libraries. Over the last year or two, you’d have had to be living under several rocks not to notice.” Concentrates on the closures in Brent, highlighting the need for libraries to be local and free, continuing to provide free printed books and internet access to those who would otherwise not be able to access them.
  • Retro Library - Annoyed Librarian (USA).  “As the new book world order comes to pass, libraries can make themselves more attractive by obsessing less about the popular. Let’s face it,  the blather about libraries being the cornerstone of democracy and all that is a little hard to take when one of the biggest challenges is making bestselling novels available to library patrons. If the bestsellers aren’t freely available, democracy – such as it is –  will survive, or at least the absence of free bestsellers won’t be the cause of its demise.”  See also If libraries didn’t exist, would publishers be trying to kill book lending? (Tech Dirt).  “A familiar pattern emerges. Small, innovative publishers who are ready to adapt, reap the benefits by meeting the growing demand for ebooks at local libraries – and doubtless picking up knock-on sales as a result. Meanwhile, big, sclerotic publishers resist trying out new business models, preferring to make the use of digital formats for lending as “inconvenient” as possible – in the forlorn hope that readers will just give up and buy something. We all know how that story ends.”
  • Thoughts on library membership charges - Information Twist.   “Apart from  Central Government funding cuts, another reason local councils are having to save money is because Council Taxes were capped. This ensured local residents didn’t have to stick their hands in their pockets any deeper to pay for local services. Membership schemes like this mean that residents are still going to have that money taken out of their pockets anyway… If you have more money you’ll receive more library services. This is at odds with the ethos behind public libraries, which provides services for free because it’s recognised that some people can’t afford or don’t have access to these services/resources via any other means”
  • Times: Lawyer of the Week Daniel Carey acted for campaigners in case on cuts to library provision – Public Interest Lawyers.  “What were the main challenges in this case and the possible implications? Both councils paid lip service only to their equalities duties but the challenge was to ensure that an effective remedy was granted for this. Injunctions stopped the library closures from taking effect, allowing the judges to later quash the decisions outright. He said that it was important for the rule of law to do so.The case has implications for every local authority in the UK, which must now reappraise their planned cuts to library provision. Since the judgment, the Commons Culture Select committee is investigating the issue nationally.”
  • Windsor Public Library eliminates overdue fines in 2012 - CBC News (USA).   “”You don’t want to penalize people for reading. Sometimes you’re really into a novel and it takes you a little longer to get through it. As it happens, you return a book two or three days late. It’s not a big deal. We can get over that,” Maghnieh said. “It’s a way of really rewarding our patrons for using the library.”
  • Writer Maggie Gee vows to carry on libraries fight - London Evening Standard.  Regarding Brent. “The 63-year-old, who was the first female chair of the Royal Society of Literature and was short-listed for the 2003 Orange Prize for her seventh novel, The White Family, was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.” … “Dr Gee said: “Libraries matter because they are the seedbed of literature. They are where people read our books, it’s where children find out they can read.”

Changes

Herefordshire – 20 communities have “expressed an interest” in running their own library.  Garway has new library in its village hall run by residents.
Liverpool - 3 libraries (Edge Hill, Woolton, Great Homer Street) and mobile library service to close (or be taken over by community groups). 76 of 210 jobs (more than one-third of the total, including 27 managers and other senior staff) to go.  Opening hours reduced (inc. 12 libraries to be only open four days per week).  Closed libraries will have stock moved into other council services
Torbay – £170k cut (10% off £1.7m budget): possible loss of six posts, opening hour reductions, loss of one library, extra charges, encouraging book donations(Somewhat limited option) library consultation here. Group: Friends of Brixham Library, Friends of Paignton Library.   

Local News

  • Brent – Is a Rotten Borough 2011 - Preston Library Campaign.   Brent’s “Library Transformation Team” has won a Private Eye Rotten Borough Award for its work pushing the closure of half of the council’s libraries in the teeth of fierce local opposition. There’s a nice picture of the team, with its (presumed) leader, appropiately enough, holding a Kindle at the front, with some remarkably depressed looking team members behind.
  • Essex – Library fines to be chased by debt collection agency - BBC.   Called a “gentle nudge”.  “”To even be approached and warned this company might contact you, you would need to have at least four items out of the library for several weeks beyond their due date. You would have had two warnings as well to remind you to bring them back.” … “Unique Management Services (UMS) said it had recovered about $250m (£156m) in unpaid fines and lost items for libraries in North America, Australia, New Zealand and the UK since 1996.”
    • Will debt collection firm be worth taxpayer’s money? - This Is Total Essex.  “Where local authorities are facing significant cuts in funding from central government, any efforts to increase income should be welcomed. However, such initiatives need to be implemented properly, otherwise the promise of additional income will come to nothing. In this instance, only time will tell whether the money the council forks out on UMS will prove to be well spent.”
  • Herefordshire – Garway village library to host new library - BBC.  “It is being opened as part of Herefordshire Council’s Future Libraries project, being run in conjunction with Shropshire Council.”… “”Some 20 communities in the county have already expressed an interest in running their own library and we are working with them to see how the library service can support their plans by providing regular stocks of books and simple systems for them to track where any borrowed books are.”
  • Liverpool – Libraries in Liverpool to shut and jobs to go in restructure - BBC.   Cuts announced, will soon be formally agreed in council.  Cuts include library closures and opening hours cuts.
    • Time to turn the page on library cuts - Liverpool Daily Post (Leading Article).   “Whatever happens, we must hope this is an end to the cutbacks in this particular sector of the city’s activities. The service will take a huge hit, if these proposals are introduced – and so will the loyal clientele from all sections of the community who have patronised the city’s libraries for so many years.”
    • Three Liverpool libraries closed, 76 jobs lost and opening hours cut at 17 more as council makes £2.2m savings cuts – Liverpool Echo.  “The council said the libraries earmarked for closure require £3m investment it does not have to bring them up to standards required by the Disability Discrimination Act. It will hand the builings over to community groups to operate them on a voluntary basis if it can find groups willing to run them.”… “More than 4,000 people returned questionnaires and 71% of respondents preferred reducing opening hours to keep more libraries open.Only 19% supported libraries being run by a charitable trust, community group or social business.”
    • Libraries are vital to city - Liverpool Echo (Leader).   “But money does need to be saved and nettles grasped, which is perhaps why the idea of community organisations potentially becoming involved could be relevant. To many this might sound, perhaps uncomfortably, like the Big Society – but, in these tough times, if all else fails when it comes to saving libraries then perhaps the Big Society isn’t such a bad idea after all.”
    • Cuts to hit Liverpool library service - BookSeller.  “Libraries campaigner Desmond Clarke said he was in “no doubt” a campaign group would rise up in Liverpool to fight the closures as they had done in other areas across the country threatened with library caulaties, such as Somerset, Gloucestershire, Brent and the Isle of Wight. Clarke said: “The agenda is not being set by professionals or the government but by library protestors. The public is saying ‘we are not happy about libraries being closed’ and that is putting it in the spotlight.”
“There is much that can be done other than simply taking the axe to library services. For example, Westminster Council expects to reduce its operating costs by £1.1 million by merging its library service with those of two neighbouring authorities. We don’t need to have 151 separately managed authorities in England, a 50% increase in the number of authorities that existed just fifteen years ago! We can make better use of technology and improve further operational efficiency. And if we need to develop volunteer supported libraries, we must develop a workable model which ensures that the service is sustainable and can be supported by librarians. This is the time for imaginative solutions and making the optimum use of available resources to the benefit of those who rely upon public libraries. Fortunately, there are some councils that are doing just that.”

  • Somerset – Councillors say Somerset Library cuts should halt - BookSeller.  “Councillors have told Somerset County Council if it does not halt cuts to its library service it could be held in “contempt of court”.”
    • Library services to be reinstated - Yeovil Express.   “users in Somerset are celebrating after council officers recommended that all services which had faced the axe should be reinstated.” … pleased that the council will forget closures rathen than just try again.  ““Our library is a vital community facility. The idea that busy parents would be willing to drive or get the bus into Taunton to visit the library is unrealistic.””
    • Reprieve on the cards for Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge Libraries - Burnham on Sea.com.  
  • South Ayrshire – Libraries leap into future - Ayrshire Post.   “South Ayrshire’s library team are now working on launching their very own app for smartphones in the early months of 2012.” … ““Times may have changed but people still want their libraries. And it’s not just about reading – you can go in and access computers and get any information you want from all around the world. Our libraries should always be a democracy and that’s the motto we work by.””
  • Suffolk – Your library: pain ahead? - Caroline’s Woodbridge page (Liberal Democrats).   Worries about the funding for libraries (only guaranteed for two years), reliance on volunteers.  The Council also seems to suffer from problems in keeping an open debate going.  “It was only opposition councillors who stood up and asked searching questions .  In reply, Cllr Terry directed extremely aggressive and insulting remarks at them.  Sadly, I have heard similarly rude and insulting remarks regularly at Suffolk County Council meetings -not only from Cllr Terry, but other Portfolio Holders too. Why doesn’t the Chairman intervene and stop such objectionable behaviour? “”
  • Torbay – Friends step up in fight to save library in face of funding cuts - This is South Devon.   “The local authority has told the library service across the Bay to make 10 per cent cuts to its £1.7million budget which would mean slashing about £170,000. The cut could lead to the loss of up to six library jobs, reduced opening days and some fear even the loss of one of the Bay’s four libraries. Opponents say the cuts could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of closures.”
  • Wandsworth – Opens the competition to save London’s libraries - Guardian Local Government Network.   “In Wandsworth our big idea is to look at competitively tendering our library and heritage service. We believe a new and competitive market of library service providers has emerged with the potential to improve delivery and reduce costs. If another organisation can do a better job, we will open the door.” … “If an external bid is successful then both councils will remain in control of their libraries. As with all outsourced services the contract specification will tightly define every aspect of delivery including opening hours, free access to books and free IT provision. All of the new ideas and improvements developed during the process will be written into the contract and closely monitored against clear performance targets.” … negative comments, highlighting danger of giving long-term contracts.
  • Westminster – One Stop services move into communities - Westminster Chronicle.  “New One Stop Express services are available at 19 locations, including all of the borough’s libraries, and give free access to the council’s website, allowing card payments, for example for council tax and parking permits, and providing more information about what is happening in the borough.”

Rent a mob

Comment

Some very interesting happenings at the start of the New Year:

  • Suffolk have been appointing the first board members for it’s new Industrial and Provident Society that will be taking over the running of libraries shortly.  They will all be chosen by the Council and so may thus be counted upon to agree with its views.  Certainly this seems to be the case with at least two of the members already appointed. The new Chair, for instance, is someone who has reportedly called library campaigners “rent a mob“.  The irony here is that, from another perspective, it appears that the Board itself may be in danger of fitting that same description.  There is no democracy in its makeup and certainly no voting in of its members.  Not the best of omens but we shall see what develops.  For other thoughts, see the previous post “Suffolk Enters the Unknown“. 
  • Surrey is facing the first steps of legal action against the converting of ten of its branches to being run by volunteers.  The campaigners behind the action, SLAM, are asking for funding.
  • Bexley is either starting a great new funding initiative or opening the thin end of the wedge to charging for library services.  Bexley Village Library will be run by a charity, with free basic membership but a £24 charge if one wants more loans or wants to avoid late charges.
  • Lincolnshire is installing donation boxes in its larger libraries.  This is the first I have been aware of this practice in the UK.

With developments like these, the reputedly Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” springs to mind.

423 libraries (333 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries 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

Best Campaigning Blog: Voices for the Library. For no other reason than being simply the best cause that I have ever had the pleasure of championing. Without my library I wouldn’t be here, writing this blog. I might not even be around at all. Love your libraries folks. Save them and cherish them.” Blog Awards, Stupidgirl

  • Biddy Fisher: Libraries need you as they adapt to a new age - Yorkshire Post.  Libraries can help people in time of austerity – free access to books/family history/internet.  Excellent article by recently honoured senior librarian including campaigning and use of volunteers.
  • Callow: My love of books is all down to a kind, cockney ladyLondon Evening Standard.  Simon Callow on donating books to library: “Callow said books play an “invaluable” role in society and that he was “deeply concerned” about cuts to library services and shocking levels of illiteracy.”
  • Cuts in education continue form libraries to outdoor centres - Guardian (Letters).   Letter from Alan Gibbons on the cuts to school libraries, 
  • Denby Dale biker Biddy Fisher honoured for library work with OBE – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.   “Biddy a former president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, has now been honoured for her services to libraries with an OBE from the Queen.”
  • Despair about public libraries in EnglandGood Library Blog.   “I can’t see anything more that can be done, The library service in England will collapse, slowly and painfully. Some people will be able to have ready access to an abundance of literature that they do not know about, as I did; and many people won’t. We won’t be a happier or better society- we won’t. And I hate to leave behind a problem unsolved – especially when I have found the solution – and yet failed to persuade people to listen to it. There are other things to do now.”
  • High Court ruling paves way for closing 600 libraries - World Socialist Web Site.  Reports Brent legal decision.  “The decision shows how Labour councils nationally are operating as de facto coalition partners with the government in enforcing austerity measures to meet the interests of the banks and super-rich. The role of the local government trade unions is to dissipate opposition and prevent a united offensive by council employees and working people against the cuts.”
  • Imperial age of libraries - Guardian.   CNN report police have raided 5 year old’s home in USA to get back overdue books.  Article remembers the days when librarians instilled fear. 
  • Pelham to hold library head’s job while he’s in jail - Eagle-Tribune (USA).  “The library director is heading to jail for six months, but his job will be waiting for him when he gets out. Robert Rice Jr., 46, was sentenced yesterday to six months behind bars for stealing more than $200,000 when he was the director of Revere Public Library.”.  Director jailed on eighteen counts having bought items using public funds then selling them for private gain.  This whole article should have exclamation marks after pretty much every sentence. The chair of trustees says “”His position will be held until he gets back,” Garboski said. “The decision is up to him when he wants to come back.”.  Only, one hopes, in America.
“Among the things Rice bought, allegedly for the library, were a 3-foot replica of a submachine gun, diving gear, a Leica camera, a Rolex watch, Red Sox baseballs, swords and armor. He is believed to have conducted more than 1,500 online auctions.”

Changes

Bexley - Bexley Village Library will be run by charity “Greener Bexley” from Spring, with membership charge for “extra benefits”, library will be independent of council (who will supply one secondment and bookstock), saving £40k p.a..  Cafe in library, with free wifi (but charges for using computers), extra 9 opening hours. 
Calderdale – Central Library to be sold off to developers with new replacement library to be sited by Piece Hall with minimal public consultation.
Essex – US debt recovery agency to be used for people with library fines/late items
Lincolnshire - Collection boxes for donations to be put in all libraries
Somerset – £600k self-service to cut staffing.  
Surrey – Legal action has started against the council’s plan to run ten branches with volunteers by SLAM.
Waltham Forest - Libraries being merged with benefits/council tax/advice service, library jobs lost.  

Local News

“Libraries matter so much because they have books that everyone can read. “I came from a background that was not very literate so I want my work to be available for everyone. “Kensal Rise library matters to his community because it’s the heart of the community and everyone has worked so hard to keep it open. This is a community I love to live in and write about because it’s a community full of hope. “It’s not about little houses it’s about the things we share. Kensal Rise is on the rise.”” Dr Maggie Gee MBE

“All Soul’s College have rejected the view of Brent Council that the reverter has been triggered and have refused the transfer of the library sites at Cricklewood and Kensal Rise  back to them.Save Cricklewood Library has written to the Bursar of All Soul’s on this point thanking them.” Save Cricklewood Library newsletter.  [The College owns the two libraries but Brent Council could use the two buildings only if they were used for library services].

“Detractors of the public library service seem to assume that it’s all about issuing cheap thrillers and romances on a Saturday morning, overlooking the wealth of study support offered, particularly for minority interests. Public libraries provide a comprehensive and efficient service, despite decades of low investment for some. There is nothing you could do ‘on the cheap’ that could replace them,” read one comment.”

  • Hampshire – Fareham Library closes for refurbishment - BBC.   £130k for self-service, information point, £13k new stock, carpets, windows.
  • Lancashire – Library loans down by sixthLancashire Evening Post.   Quote is for Preston Library over three years. 
  • Lincolnshire – Stamford Library’s book fundraising scheme to expandRutland and Stamdford Mercury.  “Lincolnshire County Council installed a collection box in the foyer of the library in April, which we featured on our front page, to help pay for more books. It was part of a pilot to see if library users would be willing to support the library financially. So far, the box has been so successful it has raised £850, which has been used to buy more books.”
  • Northumberland – Libraries action plan working says report - Journal.   More books, online/phone reservations, improved computers, co-location with tourist information.  
  • Oxfordshire – Library protesters’ anger at council decisionGet Reading.   Sonning Common library campaigners not impressed by proposed imposition of volunteers into library.  Suggest council decision placing the branch in the band for volunteers was made on “misleading and inaccurate” information.  Decision to put branch in bottom tier depended on a very low estimate of population.
  • Scottish Borders – Library hours cut, despite user surge - Southern Reporter.  “Amid warnings that it could become an issue at next May’s local government elections, Scottish Borders Council has unanimously agreed to merge library and contact centre services in six towns. The move, which will cut library opening hours in Selkirk, Jedburgh, Coldstream and Duns and maintain the status quo in Innerleithen and Kelso, will save the council about £190,000 a year and bring in capital receipts from the potential sale of surplus buildings worth a further £259,000.” … “What councillors were not told, however, was that the total number of active members of the 12 static and six mobile libraries in the region has risen markedly over the last five years. A Freedom of Information response reveals that the number of active members, which stood at 16,741 in 2007-08, had increased to 21,709 in 2010-11.”
  • Somerset – Library cuts “should not go ahead” - Mercury.   Councillor report recommends libraries ot be kept open after court decision judging closures illegal.  Suggest £600k investment in self-service in order to cut back on staff. 
  • Suffolk – New library group’s board set up - EDP.  Chairman and some new board members of the Industrial and Provident Society that will run the 44 branches have been appointed.  The Chair is part of the group taking over control of Aldeburgh Library.  Members include ex Groundwork director,  a CILIP trustee [who has previously said "Some libraries will close in the future and "I am not personally averse to some libraries closing".  I have closed fifteen myself.  We do have to change and deliver things differently. It's going to be a tough decade."], chief exec of Suffolk Association of Local Councils. 
    • Council invites community nominations for interim libraries board - Ipswich Spy.   Four vacancies still be filled.  ““The IPS is a pioneering model for delivering modern library services. It will be owned by its members and was chosen to give Suffolk people more say in the running of their local library and the county-wide service.”
    • Libraries interim board announced - BBC.
    • Interim board to run Suffolk Libraries announced - James Hargrave’s Blog.  “I think Clive Fox will have an uphill struggle to get credibility amongst local library groups. When Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee met I personally heard him describe library campaigners as “rent a mob”. It looks likely that he will now be sat next to at least some of these people in Board Meetings….” … “Shona Bendix comes from SALC who are supposed to support local town and parish councils but during the library campaign SALC seemed to side more with the County Council than the town and parish authorities they were supposed to be supporting.”.  Blog points out none of the members will be elected – they will simply be appointed by the Council. 
    • New chapter for county’s libraries - EADT. 
  • Surrey – Campaigner begin legal battle over Surrey library cutsBookSeller.  “Public Interest Lawyers sent a pre-action protocol letter on 30th December to SCC c.e.o. David McNulty for the purposes of a judicial review. A statement posted on the SLAM campaigners’ website said: “We are challenging SCC’s decision-making process and their lack of scrutiny, both of which we believe to be inadequate and unlawful. We have taken this action with great reluctance, having exhausted all other means of trying to hold SCC to account over their library plans.”
    • SLAM initiates legal action against SCCSLAM.  “We have taken this action with great reluctance, having exhausted all other means of trying to hold SCC to account  over their library  plans. We have also become exasperated at SCC’s avoidance of any discussion or consultation with Surrey residents on the library plans, and also the Council’s increasing hostility towards legitimate protest (blocking SLAM’s emails, and witholding information in relation to Freedom of Information requests, to name just two examples).”  Appeal for funds for legal action also made.  
Surrey_SLAM SaveSurreyLibraries on Twitter: “Dear @edvaizey. Please, please intervene and put libraries on a firm footing before 2012 turns into one long legal battle to save them.”

Scrooge starves the shelves

423 libraries (333 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries 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

  • Library book is 123 years overdue with £4509 fine - Mirror.   One has to laugh at these articles, especially the bit with the notional “fine” that no authority would dream of charging and in a world where almost all authorities have maximum fines anyway.
  • LSSI gets its first contract in FloridaLibrary Journal.   “Under the terms of the five-year agreement, the county will pay LSSI just over $24 million; LSSI will collect $4.7 million the first year, and that amount will rise slightly over each of the following four years. The county will also spend from $580,000 to $670,000 annually on library costs not covered by the LSSI payments.”.  $6m cut in funding expected over five years due to deal. “According to the agreement, operation hours will “initially” remain unchanged. LSSI will offer positions—at the current base salary—to all current 76 library employees who must reapply for their positions, and compensation levels will remain unchanged for at least six months.”
  • Scrooge starves the shelvesIndependent (Boyd Tonkin).   “Against stiff competiton, this year’s prize for the most purely Scrooge-like behaviour among cost-cutting library authorities goes by acclamation to Redbridge council in east London. Via the Vision agency, a “charitable leisure trust” which now manages the borough’s libraries, the council made 15 library staff redundant on the Tuesday before Christmas.”
  • Six things that must happen to reverse this headlong rush to an illiterate British generation – An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.  The six things are (a) occupy libraries to protest, (b) stop closing libraries, (c) books should be cheaper, (d) ebooks should be much cheaper, (e) reading must be made cool, (f) be involved in advocacy work.

Changes

Nottinghamshire - Mansfield Library: new building officially opened on Tuesday 3.1.12 after £3.4m refurbishment inc. wi-fi, local studies expansion etc.
Stoke on Trent - Promised Blurton Library cancelled due to cuts

Local News

Police side with council as it empties the library. Brent takes advantage of the holiday shutdown to pre-empt any intervention from the Supreme Court, where an appeal was lodged two weeks ago. Campaigners expect the council to rush through the sale of the library in the coming months, depriving the area of its last local service.”

  • East Sussex – Staff celebrate 10th anniversary of library - Eastbourne Herald.  “Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd donated £100 to the celebrations to show how much he valued their efforts. He said, “It’s great to see that this community project is still going strong and providing a much needed service to the people of Old Town for almost 10 years.””
  • Hertfordshire – North Herts library group bids to prove service worth - Comet.  “The We Heart Libraries group, which was founded this year, has a number of activities lined up for the first ever National Libraries Day … users to sign up to one of several pledges, such as borrowing a book a month, signing their children up for library cards of visiting a new branch.”.  Group unhappy with closure of school library service and renting out of libraries to voluntary groups in times when branches were previously open.
“We need to make sure that they’re not taken for granted so that, when the council needs to find cuts, it doesn’t turn to them first. For this reason, we are really hoping that as many people as possible will help us shout about them and make National Libraries Day a success in North Herts and Stevenage.”