Kent charging for children’s library cards

Comment

Kent, fresh from ending their school library service, have decided to (sort of) charge schools for joining up schoolchildren into the Library.  Amongst a whole package of glitzy sounding proposals (Ooh! Core Package Platinum!) there’s this…
Yes, indeed, Kent will charge schools for the privilege of getting their kids to join the library.  

It’s not illegal. They’re entitled to do it. They may feel under such gigantic pressure that they have to do it. This is a council that last year considered closing an awful lot of of their branches. It’s, after all, a great service to visit the school and get it all done. It’s also, of course, the start of a slippery slide into unequal services and the end of a free public library service. Expect more of these money-making ideas from councils around the country. Unless the Secretary of State starts making difficult decisions himself, rather than doing nothing at all.


400 libraries (310 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/speakup4libs, #librarieslobby, twibbon.
LinkedIn: http://linkd.in/z8U3mM 
 
News

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether his Department plans to bring forward legislative proposals to amend or annul the Libraries Act 1964; if so, when; and if he will make a statement.

Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)

This Department has no plans at present to amend or annul the Libraries and Museums Act 1964. 

Hansard via They Work For You.
  •  Harry Potter ebooks to be distributed to public and school libraries through Overdrive - Marketwire.  ” Pottermore, the online experience and home of the Harry Potter eBooks created by J.K. Rowling and partnered by Sony, announced today it has entered into an exclusive worldwide eBook and digital audiobook distribution agreement with OverDrive for public and school libraries.”
  • Libraries segment - Live with Gabby, Channel Five, 41:30 to 50.  Concentrates on Kensal Rise library, [including a cameo from myself at the beginning, so best to skip to 42:50 at the start – Ed.], with interview by Margaret Bailey and with local library users, including a “pop-up” library. Authort Kathy Lette says  “Britain is famous for its’s writers and to cut off that lifeline … it makes you stupid if you can’t read”.  Gabby Roslin
  • Saving our Libraries - Big Issue.  Lauren Smith writes in the “Our Issues” column on the threats facing libraries and why campaigning is so important.

Local News

“Originally homework centres in libraries were set up with time-limited funding from the National Lottery. When this funding ended, the majority of such arrangements across the county had to be discontinued. We were able to avoid this in Harlow and in Greenstead by means of a one year grant from the Essex County Council study support budget. Unfortunately, this too will no longer be available after March.”

  • Gloucestershire – Multi-million pound businesses Tesco and Sainsbury to benefit from brutal library cuts … at our expense - FoGL.  “It has been brought to our attention that Gloucestershire County Council are running “library workshops”as part of the libraries consultation and are paying attendees £40 each in shopping vouchers to be spent at Tesco and Sainsbury as detailed in this invite Invite – workshops BME (this was sent to us by a FoGL member, we have not been notified by GCC, nor have we been asked to circulate the invite. We have no idea who this invite has been sent to). The invite states that the library review is happening due to “limited resources”. We are disgusted that Gloucestershire County Council sees fit to place tax-payers money into the pockets of retail giants like Tesco and Sainsbury when they claim they do not have the money to run basic public services?”
    • County Council approves £29 million cuts package - Stroud News & Journal.   “Proposals to invest £1 million to help keep the county’s libraries open over the next two years were rejected as Gloucestershire County Council approved cuts totalling £29 million last week.” … “The opposition group wanted to use money from the authority’s £106 million reserves to fund a further £2.2 million worth of road repairs, a £3 million investment in infrastructure, a £1 million contribution to assist the county’s libraries and a £600,000 spend on youth work.”
  • Harrow – Children win a librarian for a day - Harrow Times.   “Three schools in Harrow won a librarian for a day, in celebration of World Book Day.  Pupils at St Bernadettes, in Clifton Road; Longfield, in Dukes Avenue, and Stag Lane, in Collier Drive, won the librarians after they entered an open competition run by Harrow’s library service.”
  • Isle of Man – Save our libraries: petition launched - Isle of Man Today.  “Two have launched a petition against the closure of the Department of Education and Children’s family and mobile libraries. In just two days Michael Synnott, aged 11, and his classmate Robert Moore, collected about 50 signatures.” 
  • Kent – Edukent Packaged Services - Kent Council.   Charges for school staff to use public libraries after the recent withdrawal of the school library service there.
“A visit to the library and a session with library staff to set up individual library tickets for children and regular book exchange visits to library. The school will manage future sessions”

  • Somerset – Councillors reject library safeguards - This is Somerset.   “Somerset Liberal Democrats hoped to persuade Somerset County Council to agree that no library should have funding withdrawn without a consultation based on residents’ needs. They also sought to promote libraries as “community hubs” and “public space.””
  • Wiltshire – “Yes” to council budget, “no” to free car parking plan - Wiltshire Times.  “On libraries, Jane Scott says: “Unlike other local authorities we have opened a new library in Pewsey [where they sacked the manager on the same day it opened – Ed.] and work on our new Trowbridge library is well under way. We have kept all of our libraries open withthe help of over 600 volunteers.”
  • Wokingham – Private library firms shortlisted - BBC.   “The Conservative-led council currently pays out about £2.1m a year to run its library service but said it believed it could pay firms less to take them on. However, a report to councillors said there could be an “increase in staff turnover” and “loss of influence” over the service.”

The Last Ten Years. Good and bad in libraryland.

It’s often difficult to find simple and straightforward figures for national library usage, especially those over any length of time.  The following will, I hope, therefore be of use for those interested in the subject.
They show good news and bad news.  For the doomsayers, we can see that overall visits and adult borrowing has indeed declined, although perhaps not at the catastrophic pace that some seem to believe.  This decline is mirrored in the reduction of the number of libraries and mobiles available and in the number of books available for lending.  
For good news, we can see that child usage has stayed the same and has indeed slightly increased recently.  A strange trend for a supposedly outmoded service.

Tim Coates, who kindly provided these charts, argued in a final slide that the points to be made were (a) “The library service has been well resourced with both capital and revenue”, (b) “Book collections have been neglected and as a result the use of books have fallen and (c) the rise of council overheads have stifled improvement”.   A video presentation by him analysing Somerset’s expenditure is also available. However, one should say that Tim’s views are not one uniformly shared, especially by librarians.  For my part, I don’t know enough to make a firm stand either way, although I would agree with Tim that an easy correlation can be made between bookfund and the resultant book borrowing.

There is something, though, that most would agree on.  We should expect the revenue and capital to fall off a cliff in 2011/12 and into 2012/13.  Whether there will be a corresponding decrease in usage will be the key to the survival of public libraries, at least at the local branch level.  A steep decline would set off a vicious circle where the decline in revenue leads to a decline in usage leading to a further decline in revenue.  This is what many fear.  It’s up to us all to make sure that it does not happen.

I have amended this commentary due to feedback kindly received.  And added paragraph (29/2/12) is in italics.

Number of libraries was already accelerating downwards
before 2011.
Spending on new library buildings and refurbishments
increased greatly.
Staff costs have largely stayed the same
Available books dipped significantly from 2001 (c. 68m)
 to 2007 (c/ 59m) then levelled of to some extent.
Budgets rose 2001 to 2006 then levelled off, with a decline
starting in 2010/11
However, the amount that Councils took from these budgets
 started shooting  up from 2005 from around 10% then to
 14% in 2010/11, presumably making the recent overall
 decline in libraries budget more noticeable.
Child usage has levelled/slightly risen.
Adult borrowing’s decline slowed by 2006/7, with
decline starting again in 2010/11
Visits increased to 2004/5 but have declined since.

From CIPFA data, charts kindly supplied by Tim Coates

The bridge to reading is having its foundations removed

400 libraries (310 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

News

  • Engineers crashing our gates - Nicolas Morin (USA).  Librarian written blog article: “We’re the nice guys, the not-for-profits, we’re working for the common good, we’re small, we’re poor… but we nevertheless are members of the incumbent class. It’s uncomfortable, since we mostly think of incumbents as people of power who want to preserve the status quo in their favor, but that’s the way it is: we’re incumbents with little power.”.  Not the easiest read or especially relevant to library cuts now but it does point to possible future paths.
  • Lauren Smith to step down as CILIP Vice President - CILIP.  “Lauren Smith has announced her decision to step down from her role as Vice President of CILIP.  Lauren said that she did not take the decision lightly but wanted to focus her time and energies more on active campaigning than she feels is currently possible within the scope of the Vice President role.”
  • Nearly half our kids don’t have anyone to read to them - Mirror.  “The Mirror’s Get Britain Reading campaign aims to encourage viewers to pledge 10 minutes of their time to read every day. Daybreak is to launch a similar reading campaign this week.”
“So what is missing? What is the bridge, the conduit, the middle cog between those children whose parents don’t foster a habit of reading and the necessities of a print-rich world? It is the librarian and the teacher. Thank goodness, I don’t (yet) have to defend the role of the teacher. But why, in the name of all that is coherent and sensible, do I have to defend the role of the professional children’s librarian? Why, in county after county, are they being made redundant? Why, up and down the country have talented children’s reading ambassadors become an endangered species? Why are schools dispensing with their services or failing to sign up to School Library Services?” Alan Gibbons

Changes

Gateshead – £305k cut, some staffing cuts, possibility of volunteers replacing staff in some branches. 
Kent – Sturry Library temporarily closed due to arson attack

Local News

  • Doncaster – We need your help: Legal Aid to match - Save Doncaster Libraries.  Efforts to match the Legal Aid funding awarded to our brave resident heading our fight for justice through the Courts, have begun. A hardy group of campaigners stood outside Doncasters’ fantastic Markets to inform and enable people to drop cash in buckets.  We are also commencing targeted requesting, and facebook/twitter campaigning. We need to raise a significant amount in a very short time, £15,000 (+VAT).” [Plus VAT? Not only are the Government forcing people to fight their battles for them but they’re also taxing them for the privilege of doing so – Ed.].  
  • East Sussex – How do you rate library services? - Eastbourne Herald.  “The county council library and information service is looking at how it provides rural and mobile library services – including its libraries in the Eastbourne area. The council wants to ensure it is giving residents the best service at the best price – and in the right place at the right time. The review runs for 12 weeks from Monday, February 27 to Monday, May 21, and people can complete a survey in paper copy or online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay.”
  • Gateshead – Hundreds of jobs under threat at Gateshead Council - Chronicle.  “Some £305,000 will go from libraries and arts services, with staffing reductions likely and talk of voluntary groups helping keep some branches open.”
  • Greenwich – Conflict of interest allegation halts Greenwich libraries transferThis is Local London.   “Greenwich Council has announced it will reconsider decisions on leisure and library services at a future cabinet meeting “to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest in the council’s decision making process.” Unite branch secretary Onay Kasab described the surprise move as a “temporary victory”.”
  • Kent – Sturry library shut after suspected arson attack - Kent Online.   “A library has been damaged in a suspected arson attack after a bin was pushed up against the building and set alight. Three fire crews were called to Sturry library, near Canterbury, at about 8.30pm on Sunday. They managed to stop the blaze spreading, but some of the roof and internal areas – including books – were damaged.”
  • Warwickshire – Warwick Library reopens after move to save money - BBC.   “Warwickshire County Council said the move from Barrack Street to Shire Hall was part of plans to save £2m from its £7.4m Library and Information Service budget.”

More than 100 libraries withdrawn since April

Comment
 
The list of “withdrawn” libraries since April 1st last year has now gone over 100.  Of these, 38 buildings and 46 mobiles have just plain closed, while most of the balance have become volunteer-run.  It is expected from media sources that there will be many more volunteer-run branches over the next two months.  Three times more than these one hundred have been announced in the media as under threat, with doubtless more having plans drawn against them by councils up and down the country.
 
People in the Isle of Wight were apparently watching open-mouthed while the Leader of their Council talked to the Select Committee on library closures.  It seems that here is not much that he said that is not disputed in some way or anotherHe came under some very direct questioning, some would say grilling, by MPs at the Committee over apparent differences between his statements and the perceptions of those on the ground.  Indeed, it was an object lesson on how people can have completely opposite views on the facts.  Cllr David Pugh thinks he volunteers a lot in his local library; some local people think he doesn’t.  He thinks people are enthusiastic about volunteering; library campaigners say they were blackmailed into it.  Cllr Pugh thinks library staff were happy to train volunteers; while others think they were about as enthusiastic about it as turkeys are about Christmas.  It must be very strange in the Isle of Wight with such basic arguments about the facts.  What they need of course are properly funded libraries with professionally trained staff who are expert and neutral in their provision and give such answers.  It’s a shame that this is exactly appears to be disappearing there.
 
400 libraries (310 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.


National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ 

Doncaster – Appeal for funds for legal case against the closure of twelve libraries.  Anyone who wants to donate can contact SDL treasurer John Sheppard. Email johnshep50@talktalk.net or call 07951 382 703. 

News

  • Library Book, edited by Rebecca Gray: ReviewGuardian. “A refrain runs through this essay collection, published to support the Reading Agency‘s library programmes: libraries made me what I am. Val McDermid, growing up in Kirkcaldy, made a “home from home” of her local library. Stephen Fry first read Oscar Wilde thanks to the mobile library near his home in rural Norfolk. For many contributors, personal recollection mutates into anger at the current government’s library-closing tendencies”
  • LSSI’s written evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee – Stop the privatisation of UK public libraries.  “Reading this you could mistakenly believe that LSSI is a philanthropic organisation only interested in the literacy levels and well being of poor little children and not a library company bankrolled by a private equity firm seeking to turn a profit.” 
  • Shhh! The iLibrary sneaks up on Kindle with 30p eBook rentals  – Sunday Times (behind paywall).  ”The Bilbary site, which features a virtual library where visitors enter through saloon bar-style doors to browse the on-screen shelves, will launch in America next month, with a British and European launch to follow.”
  • Woman stole 2,000 library books to sell on the internet - Los Angeles Times (USA).   “In exchange for pleading guilty to one count of felony burglary, Nater is set to receive probation when sentenced April 25. She has agreed to pay $7,600 in restitution, stay away from public libraries, and not use any internet accounts such as ebay, Craigslist, or Amazon, according to prosecutors.” … “The investigation began when Carlsbad librarians noticed that shelves were being depleted of books over several months.”

Local News

  • Bolton – Residents face fortnight with no library facilties - Bolton News. “A library will shut two weeks before its corresponding neighbourhood collection opens breaking Bolton Council’s promise that replacements would be in place before any facilities closed. The announcement about Heaton Library came yesterday on the same day another library, Oxford Grove, closed its doors for the final time.”
  • Doncaster – Booking up ideas to help save library - South Yorkshire Times.  “Leading the group is Stuart Bolton, he said the band of volunteers were determined not to let the site – which caters for 500 people a week – disappear. He said: “We formed a new group called Stainforth  For All when we heard that the council was going to close the library.”
  • East Sussex – Rural and mobile libraries in East Sussex - Sussex Express.   “Rural and mobile libraries are coming under the microscope as East Sussex County Council asks users for their views during a three-month review. The council wants to make sure that it is giving residents the best service at the best price – and in the right place at the right time. The review will run from Monday February 27 until Monday May 21 and people can complete a survey in paper copy or online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay”
  • Gloucestershire – Library consultation event in Matson - This is Gloucestershire.  “The council had planned to hand 10 libraries over to the community but a High Court legal challenge forced a rethink. As a result Matson has received a reprieve and will be staffed by the council for between 12 and 21 hours a week.”
  • Thousands share library views with two weeks to go - Stroud News and Journal. “With two weeks left to go on the new library strategy consultation, Gloucestershire County Council has spoken to 2,400 people from many different areas and backgrounds, and is urging more people to have their say. ” 
  • Isle of Wight – Friends write to Committee over inquiry into library closures – Ventnor Blog.  Complaint regarding statements by David Pugh, leader of the Council that (a) volunteers reluctantly did so as a last resource rather than enthusiastically like Mr Pugh said, (b) that Mr Pugh has done very little volunteering unlike the impression given by him, (c) library staff were very unhappy to train volunteers, not happy like Mr Pugh said.  From this article, one wonders if there is anything that Mr Pugh said to the Committee that is not disputed.  Double taxation also caused by local councils having to support libraries that Wight no longer has decided to.  Volunteer-run libraries have a questionable future, dubious finances and poor to non-existent long-term planning.  Loss of Act, suggested by Mr Pugh, would mean some areas having a very poor service and the likelihood of the closure of all but two Wight libraries.
  • Sheffield – Novel idea to take used books to city libraries - Sheffield Telegraph.  “All libraries in the city now accept donated books and CDs that can either be added to the libraries’ collection or sold in a ‘give and take’ section for 50p. Frecheville, Firth Park and the Central Library will be the first libraries to offer readers the chance to buy the donated books and the council intends to roll out scheme across the city in the next few months.”
  • Suffolk – In 1851, Suffollk libraries and education lagged behind, they still do - Suffolk Wordblog. “Suffolk county council was ranked close to the bottom of the table for library spending by English counties in 2010 (latest available figures)  and GCSE results ranked the county as 121st out of 152 education authorities according to a report this year.” … “Glyde was worried not only by the lack of educational books available in Suffolk libraries but by the paucity of good fiction. He would have been shocked by the pile of discounted chick lit I saw being unpacked to fill the shelves of one Suffolk library recently.”
“A love of books was with me from the very start,” he said. “Libraries to me were magical places and they continue to be so. When I walk through the door of this place there is that feeling of excitement, all these books around you. The internet won’t do that for you, it’s the books themselves and this place creates that. It is superb, a great example to the rest of Surrey and to the rest of the country of what can be done.” Surrey – Dorking’s new library “should be an example to rest of England” says BBC newsreader - This is Surrey.   “Ian Caldwell, who led the Leave Our Library Alone campaign, said: “The council were determined to push it through before they even listened to what we had to say. I am just pleased we have still got a library.”

Dame Joan Bakewell, Jamie Oliver and Alan Bennett

400 libraries (310 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.


National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ 

Doncaster – Appeal for funds for legal case against the closure of twelve libraries.  Anyone who wants to donate can contact SDL treasurer John Sheppard. Email johnshep50@talktalk.net or call 07951 382 703.

News

  • Boyd Tonkin: How to quench the book-burners - Independent.  “Dr Mastafa Jahic and his colleagues – including a cleaner and a nightwatchman from Congo – put their lives on the line to rescue 10,000 books and manuscripts, under sniper fire, from the library of the Gazi Husrev Beg mosque.” plus also Our barbarian bureaucrats about the closure of Friern Barnet Library:  “A new library is, in due course, promised at an arts centre elsewhere, but the timetable is clear as mud – again, par for the course with so many authorities. Polite, resourceful and eminently reasonable, the Save Friern Barnet Library campaigners justly feel that the council has treated them with scant respect. They certainly had no joy this week from Barnet CEO Nick Walkley, who earns £200,976 pa from public funds.”
  • Dame Joan Bakewell says sorry to Jamie Oliver over library campaign - Daily Telegraph.  “The veteran broadcaster had taken Oliver to task over what she claimed was his failure to support the bid, tweeting: “Jamie Oliver’s children use Chalk Farm Library. He won’t join the appeal to save it. Shame!” Oliver replied saying: “please get your facts straight joan I have offered loads of support”.”
  • David Harte: The book in a digital age - Birmingham Post.  What surprised me about the system is that once an ebook is taken out, it’s not available to anyone else. In other words, it works just like a real library book. Each book in the elibrary can only be taken out by one user at a time. Until you return it, no-one else can read it. These restrictions seem bizarre to me. I thought the digital age would be an age of plenty, of infinite available copies.”
  • Playwright Alan Bennett on libraries, cycling and “celebrity” neighbours – Camden New Journal.  “Mr Bennett said families in Primrose Hill and beyond should be able to take their local library “for granted” – and not be in fear that it could close down. The 77-year-old said on Tuesday: “I think that at this stage it doesn’t matter what children read or where they read it, whether it is in a book or on the computer, what matters are words.”.  Save Primrose Hill Library, in association with Primrose Hill Books, are inviting residents to an evening with Alan Bennett at Cecil Sharp House next Thursday (March 1) at 7pm for 7.30pm.
“People do say children don’t need libraries because they have got a computer – that’s rubbish,” he said. And it’s rubbish because they just don’t all have computers, poor children don’t have computers, and a lot of children who go to Chalk Farm Library will be poor. You are not supposed to say that these days, it is supposed to be bad taste to say that, but it is the case. The library is for every section of the community but it is the children who are the most vital it seems to me.”” Alan Bennett.

“Schools minister Nick Gibb met Tesco in February and March last year……The government did say the meetings were held to discuss literacy, reading and how to get children to read more.  But no more information, such as who came from Tesco, was released. The Eye pursued the matter under freedom of information laws, but the department refused to say anything about the meetings, simply pointing out that ministers needed to discuss sensitive and high profile issues without distracting, disruptive or otherwise detrimental effect of disclosure.  The Eye appealed, and while the minutes of the meeting remain secret, some sketchy e-mails were passed on.  They show that Gibb met Tesco boss Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who was accompanied by Tesco’s senior buying manager for children’s books and government affairs director.  Another e-mail says that between the two meetings civil servants set up a meeting with Tesco marketing team based on the direction the minister wishes us to go in.” The Tesco Problem, Private Eye, 10/2 to 23/2/2012.
  • Truth behind the “Team London Library” project - Stop the privatisation of UK public libraries.  Questions whether being a London library volunteer is additional to or, as the article suspects, replacing staffing.  “Another authority involved in the project is Hackney. Hackney libraries have cut 25% of the workforce but have recently advertised for a ‘Volunteer Support Officer’ costing £25-£27,000 a year, this isn’t ‘supporting’ this is a co-ordinated attack on paid library staff”
  • Vennesla Library and Culture House - Paranoias.  One of the most beautiful small library designs I have seen for a while, this one being in Norway.  Star Trek Meets Star Wars (doesn’t that look like the Jawa’s transporter from some angles?) meets Gutenberg.  

Changes

Local News 

  • Devon – Residents invited to see Colyton’s new-look library - Midweek Herald.  “Renovation and improvement work, costing around £35,000, is currently under way and the building is set to reopen on March 13. The library will have a new entrance and a new improved flexible layout, designed to make browsing easier and to expand the use of the building for the local community. A new self-service kiosk will be installed and a redesign of the children’s area promises to make it easier for youngsters to look for books.” … “Following the revamp, the library will be open for longer, with special ‘Library Extra’ sessions hosted by the Friends of Colyton Library group taking place each Tuesday from 10am to 12.30pm, which is when the library was previously closed.”
  • Doncaster – Legal fight to stop community-run libraries - Star.   “Mr Davies had proposed making £110,000 available to meet the running costs of the 12 libraries which are being switched to being run by their communities. But Labour has tabled an amendment which would see a £382,000 contingency fund created to provide a member of staff and a self-service machine in each of the community-led libraries, as well as re-opening Carcroft and Denaby libraries which were closed outright earlier in the year.”
  • Edinburgh – Libraries closure move is shelved - Scotsman.   £300,000 from reserves used to reverse cuts in opening hours after public protest.  “At 10,000 responses this is one of the biggest consultations we’ve ever had and it reflects how important libraries are.”
  • Gloucestershire – Tuffley Library to be a community hub? - This is Glos.  “”If the council was really interested in serving the community, rather than getting opinions on library closure, it would be gathering opinion on turning library sites with development potential into better facilities. “Even in the current economic climate it is necessary to look to the future as well as retreating from and repairing the damage from the past.” Mrs Howard believes the Windsor Drive site in Tuffley could become a real community hive of activity.”
    • Hester’s Way urged to have their say on proposal for new community centre - This is Glos.   “The hope is that the library would be moved to the Oasis centre building off Princess Elizabeth Way from its current location in Edinburgh Place. It would enable the centre to remain open and allow organisations to provide additional services. The site has a sports hall so people could get involved with activities including basketball, badminton, gymnastics, judo, zumba and football.”
  • Greenwich – Union plans legal challenge on Greenwich libraries - News Shopper.  “Their proposed challenge centres on cabinet member Councillor John Fahy’s organisation Meridian Link, which he runs with Mark Sesnan, managing director of Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) – the group given control of the libraries. During the cabinet’s library vote this month, Cllr Fahy declared an interest and abstained from the debate and subsequent vote. But the Unite union is asking why he did not do the same thing at a cabinet meeting in November when GLL was given control of leisure facilities and tasked with drawing up a plan for the libraries.” … “The union, which claims it has 1,400 signatures against the plan, also insists there was a lack of proper consultation with only three public meetings, which they say were called at short notice, and no online survey. Mr Kasab said: “The demand from the community is clear – no transfers, no privatisation, hands off our libraries.”
  • Suffolk – Swap it don’t drop it at Ipswich Library - Suffolk Reads.  “Bring your garments & accessories to out ‘swap it, don’t drop it’ event and look good for less. Whether it be shirts, skirts, dresses, jumpers, cardies, trousers, coats, jackets, shoes, handbags, necklaces, hats or more, simply bring what you want to swap, leave it on the swapping tables and take as much as you want when you leave. Simple as that!”
  • Waltham Forest – Chingford: library service launch date announced - Guardian series.    “A former Waltham Forest Direct shop in Chingford Mount Road was secured and volunteers have pledged their time to making the library a success.”
  • Wokingham – Libraries move closer to privatisation - Reading Chronicle.   “Four shortlisted companies have already presented ideas on how they would improve the library service if they were successful in their bid for the five-year contract. Cllr Ullakarin Clark, executive member for internal services, told the full council meeting: “We believe people in the borough deserve to have access to a library service that is fit for the 21st century and this will allow us to provide great value for money.”

Doncaster campaigners take the next step

Doncaster campaigners have confirmed that they will be taking legal action against their Council.  Surrey campaigners have already started along this road following in the footsteps of Somerset, Gloucestershire, Brent and the Isle of Wight. 
400 libraries (310 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.


National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ 

News

Arts Council England opens consultation on the libraries of the future - Arts Council England.  “Envisioning the library of the future will begin with an assessment of trends in society which may affect the delivery of library services in the future. Following on from this, we will undertake a programme of consultation with library experts. In mid March 2012, an online consultation will open to all, with a series of short articles prompting public thoughts and opinions on the future of public library services, providing a deep understanding of the public value of libraries.”

  • “Give Mayor control of all London public libraries” - London Evening Standard.   “Tim Coates, who was the chain’s [Waterstones] managing director and now campaigns on libraries, said a single service with a centralised management function should replace the separate services in the 33 London boroughs. The duplication of administration costs £80million a year out of the £200million spent on the capital’s 380 libraries, he claimed.”

Justin Tomlinson (North Swindon, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many libraries were (a) closed and (b) opened in each local authority area in each of the last five years.

Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)

Data about the library sector are published annually by the Chartered institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and are available for the last five years. The Department supplements them by monitoring proposals about changes to library services across England through information gathered via correspondence, media coverage and from relevant bodies such as Arts Council England. It is difficult to get an accurate picture, as many local authorities are still developing and consulting on proposals and consequently the overall picture is always changing. While a definitive number is open to interpretation, we understand, from information we have gathered to date, that fewer than 50 static libraries ceased to be funded by their local authority between April and September 2011. Of these, responsibility for around a dozen libraries has been transferred away from the local authority and they remain open. Initial assessments also suggest around 40 libraries are being refurbished or are being opened—for example, large scale library building and improvement is happening in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Blackpool, and significant new builds have opened, for example in Southwark and Hertford.” (Hansard - via They Work For You 20/2/12). 

Changes

North Somerset - Backwell Library to close from April. 

Local News

“Disappointed campaigners say they have been “robbed” of their community library after plans to relocate its services were given the go ahead on Monday. More than 3,000 people signed up to the Save Friern Barnet Library (SFBL) campaign, but despite their desperate attempts to save the much-used public space, Barnet Council’s Cabinet ruled in favour of its closure on March 31.”

  • Brent – Libraries fight latest - Harrow Observer.   “Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Tokyington, Preston Road, Cricklewood and Neasden are now just shells after Brent Council emptied them of books and equipment.”.  DCMS “minded” not to intervene, campaigners still fighting.  ““We are submitting yet more evidence to his department in the coming week and are taking advice from our legal team on the options available to us.””
  • Brighton and Hove – An open letter to Brighton Green councillors - Bear by Sea. “My worry is this; once the principle of a small cut here, a small cut there is established what next? Will a change in opening hours this year progress on to a full closure next year?”
  • Carmarthenshire – Library plan’s cash setback - This is South Wales. “”Ammanford library scheme not going ahead now due to unsuccessful Cymal bid,” said the report.”
  • Conwy – Public meeting called to continue fight to keep Penrhyn Bay library open - Weekly News.  “People have vowed to fight to the end to try to keep Penrhyn Bay library open. And after a meeting with Conwy County Council officers, have decided to set up a steering group to formulate a plan for residents to run it.”
    • Volunteers needed to help run library - North Wales Pioneer.  “Despite the Penrhyn Library Users Group (PLUG) being dissolved, former members believe that the library can be saved if enough interest is shown. A meeting will be held at St David’s Church Hall in Penrhyn Bay, at 7pm on Thursday March 8, where organisers will ask the public what they want from their library and how much time they could put into it.”
  • Croydon – Milly, aged six, tells Croydon Council off - Crystal Palace Local.  “Six-year-old Milly Maker has written her own letter to Croydon council telling them what she thinks of their plans to stop funding the Upper Norwood joint library from April 1st. We reproduce it in full:…”
  • Doncaster – Legal action planned against Doncaster library cuts - BBC.   “Lynne Coppendale, of campaign group Save Doncaster Libraries, said taking this action was a “great sadness”. She added the mayor and cabinet had been inflexible “from day one.” Meanwhile the council said 200 people had already volunteered to help the library service and it appealed for more people to come forward.”
    • Volunteer appeal for community libraries - Yorkshire Post.   “Doncaster Council unveiled plans last year to off-load 12 of the borough’s libraries to be run by volunteers, and the scheme is set to begin in the next four weeks. Yesterday, the authority said “really good progress” had been made with around 200 volunteers coming forward, but appealed for more people to cover the required hours.”
    • Save Doncaster Libraries and judicial review - Save Doncaster Libraries.  “SDL has never said the public library service was perfect, we acknowledged improvements and changes were necessary.  However we dispute this meant wholesale closure of Denaby and Carcroft and vehemently decry the change to Community Libraries of 12 others, whereby communities were forced to volunteer or lose them (closure by stealth).”
“Any donation, no matter how small, can be managed by contacting SDL treasurer John Sheppard, email address johnshep50@talktalk.net; telephone 07951382703, or by contacting the blog author (see contact link above) for discussion of your preferred method. Please note that if donating by cheque it should be made out to ‘Save Our Libraries’.”

  • Durham – Public meeting on cuts to library - Teesdale Mercury.   “The Friends of Barnard Castle Library organisation is rallying residents to voice their opinions  on Durham County Council’s controversial proposals. The council’s cabinet last week agreed to seek feedback on plans to reduce opening hours at Barnard Castle Library to 36 hours a week.”.  Mobile libraries also to be cut.
  • Gloucestershire – Mr Hunt, action is overdueFoGL.  Library book budget is amongst lowest in country and will be cut even further to less than 79p per resident.  The Secretary of State should take his duties seriously and intervene.
  • Greenwich – Organise against the cuts in Greenwich - Socialist Party.   “Over 1,300 members of the public have signed the Unite survey cards opposing the transfer. Nearly 500 have signed petitions. Now, following a council decision to press ahead with the transfer despite the huge opposition, Unite members in libraries are preparing for strike action and a real victory is possible.”
  • Kent – So what were Kent’s secret plans for libraries? - Infoism.   Lists the 45 libraries that were originally aimed for offloading by the council.  “With this number of libraries under threat, Kent could see the largest assault on public libraries in the country.  And all this in an authority that is headed up by the Secretary of the Society of Chief Librarians
  • Lambeth – Cooperative libraries consultation - Lambeth Council.   “Our ‘pop-up’ library idea is that we could have library services in different locations such as community centres or even cafes – this is about finding and creating a service that meets your needs. If we can get this right then these places can become the centre of our communities.”
  • Leeds – Friends group in battle to save Leeds community centre - Yorkshire Evening Post.   “The Friends of Rawdon Library led a determined campaign to stop Leeds City Council from closing the venue and replacing it with a mobile service last year. Now the team of volunteers have to demonstrate to the authority that the community hub is worth saving for future generations.” … “council bosses have agreed to look at the possibility of Rawdon staying open and being put in the hands of the community under a system known as Community Asset Transfer.”
  • North Somerset – The end for library - This is Somerset.   “Backwell’s scaled-down library service is to close from April – with villagers being left to rely on a fortnightly mobile service.” … “A number of books were transferred to the library along with a computer which the public can use to check books in and out. But the authority is now planning to withdraw the £600 it costs to run the service. It has asked Backwell Parish Council to step in but it refused after learning that the computer had been used for only 92 minutes during the last month.”
  • Sheffield – Save Sheffield Libraries campaign meeting - Library Workers for a Brighter Future.   “Come and talk about what we can do to protect libraries in Sheffield, at the Quaker Meeting House, Wednesday 29th Feb, 6.30pm onwards. (Donations for room hire very welcome!).  Just because there are no libraries closing doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems – the cuts are affecting the service, and there are more to come.”
  • Warwickshire – Warwick Library to reopen on Monday - Coventry Telegraph.  “The town has been without a library for last few weeks as it moved from its former home in Barrack Street to its new base in Shire Hall. The move is part of a refurbishment of the council’s headquarters and comes as cuts were made to libraries across the county, with several closing.”
  • Westminster – Two locations in the running for new Marylebone library site - Ham & High.   Existing library to be sold off next year … “ut the council is now committed to building a new library either as part of a larger mixed-use development alongside housing at Luxborough Street or on a vacant car park site at Moxon Street.”
  • Wokingham – Libraries in SpotlightBracknell News.   The “executive committee is due to approve plans to move to the tendering stage of the process after more than 20 companies submitted bids in June last year to take control.” … “It is hoped that the partnership will save the council £170,000 each year, but the plans led to uproar from residents who feared library closures, job losses and cuts in services. It also brought the first debate in the history of the council triggered by a public petition, which contained 1,500 signatures.”
    • Council defends bid to privatise libraries - Get Wokingham.   “The council agreed to investigate privatising its libraries in May 2010, with the expectation of appointing a partner in March this year, however the project has been delayed and is now expected to be operational by October.” … “Although the council is putting conditions in place, such as engagement with library users when making decisions, there is no specific condition to keep all libraries open.”.  All the comments after the article are negative.

One in five public librarians have gone, this year.

Comment

The headline comes from Annie Mauger, chief of CILIP, who said that 700 out of the 3500 people working as public librarians in the UK may have lost their jobs this year.  It was made in giving evidence to the DCMS Select Committee on Public Libraries this morning. A summary of the other main points raised in the hearing will appear as a special posting shortly.

The DCMS have made it clear that they are not going to intervene over the closures in Brent.  This will surprise no-one who has followed the department’s, and the relevant ministers, approaches to the cuts in libraries over the last year.  Let’s make this clear.  In bold and in italics.  Anyone who is following libary cuts at least privately believes that there is no way the DCMS will intervene in any case on any terms.  It would go directly against the perceived localism agenda and the need to force through the biggest cuts in local government in peacetime history.  There are aspects of the response to cuts, notably the use of volunteers and non-profit organisations in the running of libraries, that ties in so beautifully with the Big Society that it almost seems designed for it.  The only way that the Government will intervene is if they are legally forced to by a judge deciding that the Secretary of State is in breach of his statutory duties.   Even then, it is likely that the Government will simply change the law, as they are doing with the recent case of a court deciding that saying prayers in council meetings is illegal.  It is up to the campaigners and the organisations involved to see if the effort to force the DCMS to intervenese is therefore worth it.

399 libraries (309 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.  
National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ 

News

  • APPG for education calls for school library support - EdExec.  “in its inquiry report, the APPG raised concerns over the Government’s lack of support for school libraries and the impact this had on child literacy. In response, the DfE stated that it recognised the positive contribution to literacy standards of good libraries ” … “However, DfE stopped short of promising future funding by adding that it preferred schools to make their own choices about book resourcing and library provision.”
  • Join us at the consortia conference 2012 in Bath on Thursday 3rd May - Consortia Conference 2012.   “The consortia conference 2012 offers the opportunity to listen to speakers from two of the biggest UK public library consortia (LibrariesWest and London Libraries Consortium), to find out more about shared services in action and to participate in workshops and panel discussions.”
  • Ministers don’t understand libraries - Huffington Post UK.  Annie Mauger, CILIP chief, said at the Inquiry that politicians often don’t understand what libraries do.  She also singled out Jeremy Hunt for failing to intervene to stop closures.  Arts Council England chief complained of the lack of breathing space libraries had to cope with the cuts and other changes.
  • Select Committee hears of librarian job loss toll - BookSeller. “Research by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has indicated that as many as 700 of 3,500 professionally qualified librarians have lost their jobs in the current financial year, chief executive Annie Mauger told the culture select committee at its second oral evidence session, given this morning (21st February).”

Local News

  • Barnet – Campaigners “devastated” over Friern Barnet library closure - Times Series.  Campaigners are “devastated” after plans to close Friern Barnet library were given the go ahead last night.” … “SFBL had gained the support of more than 3,000 people who were fighting to keep the library open. The group argued the Arstdepot is too far away, and the closure would affect the most vulnerable people in the area as well as detriment hundreds of children’s literacy levels. But speaking in favour of the library strategy at last night’s Cabinet meeting, Councillor Robert Rams, cabinet member for customer access and partnerships said: “We will see libraries that will open longer, more money will be spent on books, new libraries will be built and every child at school will be signed on to the libraries service.””
  • Barnet Council agrees to close Friern Barnet and North Finchley libraries - Times series.  A new library will be set up at Artsdepot in North Finchley, although Councillor Robert Rams, cabinet member for customer access and partnerships was unable to say exactly what services would be on offer by April 1. Hampstead Garden Suburb library will remain open after councillors agreed to enter negotiations with Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents’ Association on housing a “community library” in the existing building.”
  • Brent – Legal bid to halt library closures ruled “academic” - London Evening Standard.  Jeremy Hunt “dismissed their claim that he was obliged to intervene on libraries under threat as “academic”
“It seems they accept Brent’s reasoning at face value. It seems to me a very dismissive response. They gloss over what is a lot of chaos on the ground. They seem to have accepted whatever it is Brent has said to them about the library service being comprehensive and sufficient.” Brent campaigner.

“I don’t see how they can go further now in legal terms”, adding: “We’re actually going to have a better library service from our six libraries than we had for the 12, in that sense campaigners have been very misguided.” Brent councillor James Powney

    • Secretary of State hints he might not step in to save axed libraries - Brent and Kilburn Times.  “…a statement on the Department for Culture, Media and Sports’ website has revealed that Mr Hunt is ‘not minded to intervene by way of a local inquiry into Brent Council’s library plans.”
    • Minister refuses to investigate library closures - Harrow Observer.  “Brent SOS (Save our Six) has announced today that Jeremy Hunt has refused to look into the council’s closure of six treasured libraries, despite receiving more than 10,000 submissions from the public.”  Brent campaigner shave 14 days to reply. 
  • Ealing – New Ealing libraries strategy “is rehashed muddle” - Save Ealing Libraries Campaign.  “We’d been told [at the Ealing Council Cabinet meeting] on January 24 that a new libraries strategy would be launched in February. As there was no evidence of this on the council’s website I phoned Committee Services and learned it’s not a new document at all, but a tidying up of last July’s Draft Ealing Library Strategy 2011-2014″.  The good practice of Hillingdon nextdoor is highlighted by the article.
  • Gloucestershire – Shoppers in Cheltenham uninterested in future of libraries - This is Gloucestershire.   “Council staff at the shopping centre approached people to fill in the library questionnaire. The previous plan failed due to lack of consultation with all users. In a bid to combat this, a Polish translator was available at the Cheltenham roadshow, as well as literature in other languages such as Japanese. There is also an “easy read” paper questionnaire for people who prefer a simpler version and the council has drafted extra guidance to help people fill in some of the questions.” [Japanese? Really? – Ed.]
  • Isle of Wight – Council leader defends library closures - IWCP.   “As part of his early evidence, Cllr Pugh told the committee the community could hold councillors to account over the changes to library service at the ballot box at the next election. He also urged the secretary of state to continue his ‘light touch’ approach to local authority library services.”
  • Leicester – 250 sign petition against closure of library - This is Leicestershire.   Protest against closing St. Matthew’s Library and moving some of its books into nearby leisure centre with a self-service machine.  ” “A lot of school children use the library to study and the availability of school books is crucial given how expensive they are to buy.”
  • Suffolk – “Virtual” council gives way to people power - Guardian.  “Some residents are prepared to accept that things cannot stay as they are, given the financial constraints the council is facing. Former libraries campaigner Colin Owens is one of them. He has just joined the board of a new industrial and provident society (IPS), a social enterprise created by the council to run its libraries. It will enable all 44 libraries to stay open, instead of the council’s original plan of closing two-thirds. The theory is that the IPS will have lower overheads and its charitable status will enable it to make tax savings and apply for grant funding.”
“The Wickham Market partnership began by asking local people what they wanted from their library. The answer was longer opening hours, a coffee machine, soft seating, more groups and more use by children. It looks as though people are going to get all of that. Some 20 volunteers will help staff to extend opening times from 22 to 38.5 hours a week, while on Mondays the library will be handed over to the local school.”

Brent’s cunning plan



Comment
Brent Visitor Figures since the six libraries closed.
Part of the reasons that the DCMS is using in order to avoid intervening in the Brent Council’s closing of half of its libraries is that the Council had confirmed that “the figures they hold for library visit numbers for December 2011 and January 2012 show substantial increases in visits to the six remaining libraries – as compared with figures for the same months for the previous year.”.    While this may be true of each individual branch, it is clear that there has been a major detrimental effect to the service as a whole. Probably, this has something to do with overall opening hours have decreased from 544 hours per week to 349 hours a week. 
“The Secretary of State is relying on flawed evidence to justify his reluctance to get involved. Brent Council appears to be trying to pull the wool over his eyes by claiming that library usage in Brent has increased. Tragically the facts show otherwise. Since Labour closed half of our local libraries far fewer local residents are visiting, studying and enjoying their local library service.”  Cllr Paul Lorber, Liberal Democrat Leader, Brent.

More details on this can be found in this letter to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State.

Staying in Brent, the Council, in a very novel – some would say counterintuitive – approach to improve culture, has decided to terminate the contract for Willesden Bookshop in order to make way for a new “Willesden Green Cultural Centre”.  The bookshop somewhat ironically specialises in children’s and multicultural books.  One thousand people have already protested about the decision.  There’s going to be a meeting partially about the closure in the Library tomorrow.  This points to another problem with the lans as the building work will also involve closing Willesden Green Library for 18 months and its “Cultural Centre” replacement does not appear to have meeting rooms.  The council have refused to allow one of its local recently closed libraries to be a substitute during that time. 
This could be of course a very cunning Labour plan.  Brent may have been cutting its libraries despite massive popular pressure and demand in order to show that the Conservatives will not intervene in any circumstances and thus cause a national decrease in popularity for them.  When this approach initially failed to embarrass the Secretary of State into action, Brent ramped up the pressure by awarding a prize to the team that closed the libraries.  When even this failed to cause any intervention, the cunning Brent strategists may have thought it a wheeze if it were to effectively close another one while as an added bonus destroying a book shop as collateral damage in the process.  How could the Coalition stand by now?  Surely, such cunning strategy will cost the Cameron the next election?
Well, I know it’s far-fetched it’s the only possibility for the Council’s actions I can think of that makes any kind of sense.

399 libraries (309 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day. 

National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ 

News

  • 500 libraries shut down or managed by unqualified staff - Tribune (Pakistan).  “An Education Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that out of the 445 public colleges in the province 200 have libraries run by non-qualified staff. Out of more than 400 government higher secondary schools across the province, 336 do not have librarians appointed.” [The Punjab is blazing the way for the UK it seems – Ed.]
  • Evidence sessions for Parliamentary Inquiry into library closures - Voices for the Library.   Summary of the points made during first inquiry session.
  • Iain Banks campaigns against “barbaric” cuts to libraries - Scotsman.   “Best-selling author Iain Banks is launching a campaign to stop Scotland’s libraries from cutting their opening hours. Banks, who is spearheading the protest alongside fellow sci-fi authors Ken MacLeod and Charles Stross, has described the moves to slash opening times by up to 20 per cent as a barbaric act.” … “The libraries campaign will be launched next month in Edinburgh, where the council has cut staff and plans to restrict access to save money.”.
The reason so many in the book world reacted lukewarmly to Nick Gibb’s words about reading is the record of the Government (“Top marks to our Schools minister”, 12 February). The coalition turned down our request to make school libraries statutory, a status prison libraries have. It cut the very successful book-gifting schemes run by Booktrust, and would have cut them even more had we not howled with outrage. It is, as D J Taylor notes, inflicting shocking damage to our libraries. Secretary of State Michael Gove praised a New York reading scheme while failing to mention our own highly successful Summer Reading Challenge co-ordinated by the Reading Agency. We authors love words, but without action to nurture the reading environments in which they nestle, germinate and grow, their power to educate, inform and inspire is reduced.” Alan Gibbons in letter to Independent.

  • “Self-interested authors want to save libraries”Philip Ardagh.   “I could go on, but you get the picture. We complain about the not-in-my-backyard culture and I’m just as bad. I’m one of those ‘yes-in-my-backyard’ people. Yes, I want libraries to remain in our communities, for the selfish reasons already outlined and the million-and-one other reasons other people may selfishly have. There’s a rally and lobbying of parliament on 13th March, in London (and you can find out more about it here http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/). I’ll be there of course, along with people from all walks of life, no doubt including other self-interested authors, and the most self-interested of all: those disgraceful librarians.”
  • UK Supreme Court rejects appeal over Brent library closures - World Socialist Web Site.   “In place of the existing comprehensive coverage of local libraries, the major political parties and the media are promoting the construction of one centralised “super library”. As hundreds of libraries are threatened with closure in London and across the country, three new London “super libraries” are reportedly “bucking that trend”, with more to follow.”
“Libraries, like other social services, cannot be defended on a piecemeal, council by council basis. Councils will look to incorporate opposition groups that take this approach and use them as advisers or pawns in their cuts agenda.”

  • Vaizey to give evidence in library inquiry - BookSeller.  “Culture minister Ed Vaizey will be interviewed by the culture, media and sport select committee on 13th March as part of the inquiry into library closures. Vaizey is the only witness called to give oral evidence at the session that day. The evidence session will coincide with the lobby of parliament by librarians and authors set to take place on the same day.”

 Changes

Isle of Man – 2 to close: Family and Mobile Libraries.  School Library Service as well. Facebook GroupPetition.
Wiltshire – Review of mobile library service (but no cuts to total numbers, staff or hours).  
Wolverhampton - £900k renovation of Central Library enters final stage.
Worcestershire – Upton Library under threat.

Local News

  • Barnet – Library closure plans go before Cabinet tonightTimes series.  “Barnet Council Cabinet members will discuss proposals to close Friern Barnet and North Finchley libraries tonight.”.  Friern Barnet has 3000 supporters, Hampstead Garden Suburb Library also to be discussed.
  • Brent – Terminates Willesden Bookshop lease - BookSeller.  “Willesden Bookshop is searching for new premises after Brent council plans to develop the Willesden Green Library Centre, where it is based, into a “brand-new multi-million pound cultural centre” led to the termination of its tenancy.”
    • Speaking at doomed Willesden Green Library - Another Green World.   “I am speaking at Willesden Green Library tomorrow, I am sad though that library is to be demolished, this seems to be the reality in Britain today, a symbol of a wider assault on culture.” … This meeting is in the tradition of stimulating public meetings at Willesden Green Library which will be demolished under regeneration plans. The rather sketchy proposals for the replacement Willesden Cultural Centre do not appear to include plans for public meeting rooms”
  • Bradford – Council budget plans changed “to protect vulnerable” - Telegraph & Argus.  “…proposals to reduce library opening hours and cut the book fund by £350,000.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Great Missenden to decide library’s future - Prestwood and Great Missenden.  A new model will see a business move into the premises to create extra revenue for staffing – a cafe and the Post Office have so far put forward proposals. It is one of 14 which BCC earmarked in 2010 to become volunteer-run in order to save £688,000.” … “After a campaign by the community to keep permanent staff, a working group was set up last December to come up with a solution.”
  • Isle of Man – Prospect hits back at library cuts - Manx.net.    “Prospect members, were amongst members of staff at the Department who were informed on Thursday 16 February that their services were being shut.  Staff in the library services broke down in tears at the news that services, which provide a vital link to the elderly, housebound, disabled and least privileged in Manx society, would go forever.”  
    • Prospect Union on library closures - Manx TV.  4 minutes interview showing how important libraries are and what an impact the closures will make.
    • Proposed libraries closures “sad but inevitable” - Manx Radio.   “Mr Karran says both are nice-to-have but non-essential and, to avoid damaging cuts in schools, had to go.” … “Mr Karran says things we’ve taken for granted have become luxuries we just can’t afford any more:”
  • Lambeth – What does Lambeth’s “cooperative libraries” plan mean for Waterloo? -London SE1. Waterloo Library could have 40% budget cut.  “This Wednesday the council will host a public meeting at Waterloo Action Centre to enable local residents to comment on plans for the future of the library service. Open for just 31.5 hours a week, Waterloo Library received 40,156 visits last year and 24,552 books were issued.”
  • North Somerset – Village library service set to be closed - This is Bristol.   “BACKWELL’s scaled down library service is to close from April – with villagers being left to rely on a fortnightly mobile service. The village’s main library at Station Road was closed last year as part of North Somerset Council cost cutting measures. Following objections by residents and local councillors an agreement was reached with Parkwood Leisure to base the library in the village leisure centre. A number of books were transferred to the library along with a computer which the public can use to check in and check out books. As part of North Somerset Council’s cost savings, the authority is now planning to withdraw the £600 it costs to run the service.”
  • Portsmouth – WeLL what’s your story?About My Area.   WeLL means “We Love Literacy”.  “Two wonderful things happened this week – the logo for my residency was finished and most of the events for the first half of this year have been organised.  Half of these events are school based and the other half are a mixture of  outreach work with support groups and public drop in relaxing WeLL conversations.”
  • Surrey – Stephen Fry invited to discuss Surrey library plans - BBC.  Council says “”Perhaps when we’ve had a conversation, at the end of it, I would hope that Stephen would realise why we are doing this and what our objectives are. Perhaps he would like to come and meet some of the volunteers who are going to do this and then perhaps he might be in a position where he can then make a judgement from a constructive point of view.”.  Mr Fry tweeted his support for those against the cuts a couple of days ago.
  • Wiltshire – Review of mobile library service - Salisbury Journal.   “The council has said there will not be a reduction in the number of mobile libraries, the number of mobile staff or the time mobiles spend in communities.”
  • Wolverhampton – Central library renovation final stage - BBC.  “The work, which will start on Monday, is expected to take 16 weeks and will be in two phases meaning customers will still be able to use the main entrance to the building at all times. The year-long restoration of the library has included the installation of a new lift and the rewiring of the entire building. The interior has also been redecorated.”
  • Worcestershire – Everything will be done to avoid closing library - Malvern Gazette.   “Both Upton Town Council and Malvern Hills District Council have established working groups to monitor the situation, with the town council issuing a “use it or lose it” warning to residents in a bid to secure its future.”

Brave New World

396 libraries (307 buildings and 89 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day. 

This post brings Public Libraries News back up to date with all of the known media mentions of public libraries this week.  It includes some news from both before and after yesterdays posting “Bit by Bit“.  All of the other pages have now also up to date. There were no postings from Monday to Thursday due to myself and the family going on holiday. Ian A.

Actions

National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: http://www.speakupforlibraries.org/ 

 

Surrey: Any donations to the legal action against cuts in Surrey will be gratefully received.

News

  • £230,000 grants for library projects - DCMS.   Grants “designed to test new approaches to library service delivery, looking at ways libraries can work together with arts and other cultural organisations.”
  • Arts Council and Local Government Association announce successful Libraries Development Initiative projects - ACE.   Lists organisations which have gained funding.
  • Brave New World? - BookSeller.   “So the coalition government has given the green light to local councils—which are struggling to balance their books in the face of the biggest public sector cuts in peacetime history—to hive off their public library services into the voluntary and community sectors. Many have already dipped their toes into these choppy waters. Buckinghamshire and Cambridgeshire were early adopters of this governance model, but others have followed in their footsteps—including Lewisham and Swindon, where usage and book loans have gone down dramatically since libraries were staffed by volunteers.”.  John Pateman criticises the increasing moves to replace skilled library staff with enthusiastic but often unsustainable and untrained volunteers.
  • Celebrating libraries and the people who love them -  “However you use your library, I want to hear from you! Celebrating libraries through the lovely people who use them. Please get in touch and let me know how, when and why you use your project.”
  • DJ Taylor: Top marks to our Schools Minister - Independent.   “Following the advice of the former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, he declared his intention to issue all children of primary school age with a library card and a map….. And how was Mr Gibb’s speech received? There were, of course, countless jokes about the library map being vital as there were so few libraries left.”
  • Illiteracy levels a tragedy, PM says - Perth Now (Australia).  Government “contributed $1.3 million to the campaign, which is also supported by Australian libraries, state governments and the private sector. It will involve children’s competitions, peer-to-peer book reviews, adult book clubs and workplace literacy programs, as well as a challenge on August 25 for Australians to read for one hour.”

Changes

Local News

  • Croydon – Upper Norwood Library campaigners hold day of protest - This is Croydon today.  strong feelings among library users who, on Saturday, took to the streets to express their anger. The group included actress Freya Copeland, who donned a burglar’s stripey jumper and swag bag to make her feelings clear over the council’s decision. Protest organiser Lou Garratt demanded a face-to-face meeting with council leader Mike Fisher, to give campaigners a chance to have their say. She said: “Councilor Fisher should come here and tell the children of the area why their library is closing.”
  • Gloucestershire – Library users not silent - This is Gloucestershire.  400 have so far responded to consultation.
  • Isle of Wight – Government committee explains why IW library campaigners not called to give evidence - Ventnor Blog.  Leader of Wight council will speak, defending his cuts and much criticised consultation process.  Committeee says “You will no doubt have noticed that this week the Committee heard evidence from three library campaigners who put across their views about closures, many of which echoed your comments below. The library campaigners were chosen from national campaign groups, as the Committee decided this would be fairer than trying to select specific witnesses from the many campaign groups across the country.”
  • Leicester – Charitable trust approach could save libraries - This is Leicestershire.   Letter suggests a trust could stop library closures. “Any library is an important community facility, much supported by local people and which should operate as a central meeting place with a cafe, information centre and internet access, plus, of course, a facility for lending books. The building could be leased to a local community group or charity which could fund-raise in the area and assemble volunteers to help with the various activities.”
  • Leicestershire – Pledge to share 20 books with your children - This is Leicestershire. It is estimated that in the 20 years of Bookstart, 30 million free books have been gifted. In Leicester last year 13,428 Bookstart packs/books were gifted through our partnership and 2,000 families borrowed early years books via the community book loan scheme.”
  • Middlesbrough – Libraries and community centres face demolition - Gazette.   “Grove Hill Library and the Grove Hill Youth and Community Centre will be demolished and the sites linked into the Grove Hill regeneration project.” … “Thorntree Library and Thorntree Youth Centre will be demolished with the sites being brought forward for development.”. 
  • Stoke on Trent – Council plans to combine libraries and services under one roof - This is Staffordshire.  Libraries likely to be merged with children’s centres.  “”We’ve been assured that any services put in with children’s centres will be appropriate. We would love something like a library. “I’m happy with the ideas at the moment, but we’ll see how it goes.”
  • Suffolk – Eight join board set up to run county libraries - Bury Free Press.   Backgrounds of members are of the new board are libraries (2), charities/volunteering (2), IT (1) and, surprisingly, finance (3).  
  • Surrey – Stephen Fry lends support to library campaign - Guardian series.  Campaign group says that the celebrity tweet has caused a big increase in interest: “”Our twitter has been inundated and our website has had thousands of hits in one morning. I’m surprised the website is coping to be honest.”

Viz on Libraries

The following has been kindly typed in and sent to me.  It’s from a recent copy of Viz.  It’s supposed to funny but it also has a disturbing basis in fact.  By, at best, showing benign neglect, this Government is moving down a path which will lead to the end of the superb system of public libraries that this country was once so proud of.  I would, by the way, like now to completely dissociate myself from the Third Reich overtones of the piece.
There’s also, more obviously, something else at play here.  This is the belief that printed books now have no place in the modern world and thus closing libraries is OK and that passing on the supply of books to what amounts to a technological and commercial monopoly is fine.  It is ignored that this would limit access to those who have the access to internet (that’s one-fifth of the country excluded) and can easily afford to buy anything they need.  People with money enough for books, admittedly quite large but it would be a fool to say that it is ever going to be all the population.  Indeed, the current proportion of the population with sufficient funds appears to be getting smaller, not larger … and, of course, children are always those most in need of books but with the least resources to purchase them.
It’s also interesting seeing in the following that the librarians are described as supporting the process.  There’s an element of truth in this.  I know of many professionals who think the future will be entirely digital and that we are in some sort of almost embarrassing transitional time.  We’re not of course.  It’s not a case of books vs. ebooks.  It’s a case of a new complementary medium coming into the market.  Television did not kill radio.  Paperbacks did not kill hardbacks.  There will always be a place for books in our society.  Unless, that is, our politicians and professionals sleepwalk into such a nightmare world by thinking that there isn’t.
Anyway, read and enjoy… 
Printed works set to go up in smoke in libraries re-think
BRITISH LIBRARIES are set to burn ALL their books after a government think-tank deemed them “old-fashioned”, “out-moded” and “behind the times”. Giant pyres will soon become a common sight in every town centre as stocks of obsolete volumes built up over hundreds of years are put to the torch.
“The rise of the internets has left the printed word looking hopelessly antiquated in the modern world,” said Universities minister David Willetts. “Look around any first class railway carriage and everyone’s got a google, a mobile telephone or a youtube. If you got a book out and started reading it, you’d be pointed at and laughed off the train,” he added.
Jane Plainspinster, spokesperson for the Association of British Librarians told us: “Of course it’s sad to see all our old books going up in smoke, but most people who come into the library these days are here to use our internets, emails and websites.”
blogs
“The shelf space freed up by the destruction of books will be used for the storage of CD-roms, floppy discs and blogs,” she whispered.
“Shhhh,” she added, before removing her glasses, seductively biting the arm and shaking down her lustrous tresses of hair in slow motion.
LIBRARY PICTURE: A picture of an old-fashioned library, yesteryear.
Thousands of books are being piled up outside the British Library on London’s Euston Road, and Prime Minister David Cameron will be setting fire to them, using the Domesday Book as kindling. He told reporters: “All this stuff is available on the email these days. If I want to read a Shakespeare first folio, Dr Johnson’s Dictionary or the complete works of Jane Austen, I can just look them up on Twitter.”
mugins
“Paper books are for fuddy duddies. They’re just a dusty relic of the past, like Betamax video cassettes, wooly mammoths or Sinclair C5s,” he said.
The Euston Road pyre is already over 60 feet high, but only contains a small proportion of the British Library’s vast book collection. “Ninety percent of the stock is still in the building, so once we’ve got this lot ahad we’re going to need lots of volunteers to get in there and fetch books out to keep the flames fed,” said Mr Cameron.
“It’s going to be a real party atmosphere,” he added.
stabins
And Mr Cameron had this warning for any book-lovers with plans to disrupt his planned “Büchfeuernacht”: “Don’t stand in the way of progress or you will pay the price.”
“Anyone who attempts to spoil the fun will suffer very serious consequences, which will involve being taken away and dealt with,” he added.
(from Viz, Issue 212)