National library leadership please

Comment

The lack of advocacy or leadership for libraries by librarians, on a regional or national level (with the exception of, in the case of advocacy,  Voices for the Library, in which I must declare an interest being I am a member of its team) is one of the most striking facets of the current crisis. The following is reprinted here, with permission, from the highly experienced John Dolan.  It first appeared on the LIS-PUB-LIBS librarian discussion site and is part of a longer thread on national reference resources.
While we are rightly preoccupied with the threats of library closures we are missing the bigger threat posed by current policy; localism without coordination denies people the huge opportunity that comes from national collaboration. National leadership does not deny local choice. Rather it offers the choice of resources that no localism could possibly afford to deliver. This is basic economics, not ideology. Compare health, schools, universities, forests, police etc etc
It is a shortcoming currently that almost all external advocacy for public libraries has come from the literature/fiction community, notwithstanding the WI! Library leaders and DCMS must earn support among colleagues in education, lifelong learning, citizenship and community action, the voluntary sector and the wider arts and cultural communities to raise awareness of the library as a place of learning and discovery that does not come only from borrowing fiction.


John Dolan made these comments purely as an individual.  It is not meant to represent the views of any organisation that he is currently involved with on either an official or unofficial basis

419 libraries (337 buildings and 82 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

 
  • Councils told: end diversity quiz – Press Association.   “Communities Secretary Eric Pickles will issue new guidelines for local authorities removing the requirement for them to undertake “intrusive lifestyle and diversity” surveys.” … “That includes revelations last month that libraries in Islington, north London, were asking people registering to borrow books if they had cancer, HIV, or diabetes and whether they were transgender.” [This shows that the Government can move amazingly quickly when it wants to, the almost complete lack of reaction to the cuts in libraries by them is thus even more worrying – Ed.)
    • Councils told to drop personal questionnaires - BBC.   “The Department for Communities and Local Government said that its one-page statutory guidance replaces “the 56 pages of John Prescott’s so-called ‘Best Value’ guidance”.
  • Death of books has been greatly exaggeratedGuardian. Printed book sales have gone up in the last decade and it’s still early to tell what effect e-books will have.  Online sales have boosted booksales but  “Let’s not be naive. Any retail channel that ends up being dominated by one player will end up squeezing its producers; just ask a farmer. But Amazon is, right now, giving people what they want: competitive pricing, rapid delivery, massive choice, good customer service. And it’s selling books. A lot of books.”
  • Will community ownership be at home in the new world of localism? - Joseph Rowntree Foundation.   Similar Scottish legislation to the Localism Bill has seen only nine purchases in six years.”In England and Wales, too, the scale of community asset ownership is small and is likely to remain so in the near future, especially as many organisations seek to consolidate what they have before risking new investments. But the Localism Bill’s best service could be to send out an important and powerful signal about our future – a future where our stake in society is no longer limited to what we can own as individuals, what we buy from corporations or what we expect the state to do on our behalf.”

Changes

Local news

  • Brent  – DCMS still in libraries dialogue with Brent Council - Wembley Matters.   Standard pro-forma letter reply to website, largely seen before.  Unique words are “DCMS officials have met with officers from Brent Council and are in the process of considering all the relevant evidence and all the issues. The Department will continue to maintain dialogue with the local authority. Once all the relevant issues have been considered, the Secretary of State will decide whether or not to intervene, or whether further actions on the part of Brent Council are required.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – No plans for library closures - Biggleswade Today.  Fears by campaigners that volunteers will be used instead.  Council says “We are currently working to develop proposals to improve the quality and range of services that the library can provide, and the public will have the opportunity to comment on these options later in the autumn.””
  • Devon – Protest campaign launched against Colyton library cuts - Midweek Herald.   Library reduced to 10 hours per week.  Campaigner “disappointed” by cuts and worried the one member of staff would be overwhelmed by customers in reduced opening hours.  Suggests that council should use the 40 volunteers already signed up and “willing to do any type of work” – council considering use of volunteers in 2012.
  • Manchester – Important changes to Manchester Library Services. What’s happening? - Manchester City Council. Complete list of cuts, with supporting papers.
  • Newham – Save our language papersGoPetition.  “We believe LBN’s argument is not supported by mainstream thought or research that recognises the beneficial and complex role mother-tongue/second-language skills play in learning English as a foreign language. Neither does it address the broader value of preserving and respecting other cultures within a diverse and evolving borough.”
  • Norfolk – Lynn’s Heritage Open Day allows a new look at historic town library - Lynn News.  Potted history of library since its opening by Andrew Carnegie himself in 1905.
  • Northamptonshire – Public phase of library consultation begins – About My Area.  “”This review sets out a plan where instead of closing libraries or reducing opening hours, we diversify the way libraries are funded.  We intend to review how we are doing in Summer 2013 as a mid-point but if progress is not on track we will have to consider closures once again.”
    • My Library, My Community survey - Northamptonshire Council.   “We cannot afford to continue to fund the service completely ourselves. That is where you come in.” … “We intend to increase people who contribute time to the service from 400 to 1600 over the next four years” … “People have said they don’t mind paying for the service. How much would you be willing to give?”  [This would be illegal under the 1964 Act - Ed.]
  • Northern Ireland  – Disappointment as Belfast Central Library refused £20m - BBC.   Exterior already upgraded but expected interior improvement cancelled due to budget cuts. 
  • Swindon – Library celebrates 40th birthdaySwindon Advertiser.  ““We are hoping to get a self-service machine installed and longer opening hours which is good news. Unlike other councils which are closing libraries we are bucking the trend.””

Closed, divested … or what?

Comment

The “Closures since 1st April 2011” page of Public Libraries News includes all those libraries which have left council control since then.  This was due to the need, in my view, for there to be a simple headline figure.  However, it can be seen as misleading – some of these branches are not closed.  One has been given to volunteers, four to social enterprises and one is now paid for by a parish council.  
So, perhaps this needs rephrasing.  Most of the terms that can be used, though, are politically biased. “Divested” is the term often used by councils, presumably because it sounds pleasant and people are not sure what it means.  “Dumped” or “Abandoned” is the term sometimes used by campaigners.  I would be happy to hear from readers as to what terms I should use.  Clever ones, especially if neutral and accurate, will get extra points. At the moment, the title will probably change to “Closures or Divestments since 1st April 2011″ but I am sure better terms can be thought up.  Let’s hear them via commenting below or emailing publiclibraries@live.co.uk.  Thank you.
418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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

“It is worth noting that neither the Guardian or the BBC made any reference to public libraries offering free internet access, nor did they mention the impact library closures could have on those that are digitally excluded.  You may argue that the point isn’t directly relevant to those particular articles.  Maybe not.  However, it is worth remembering that although there have been plenty of positive shifts in the coverage of libraries in the past year, commentators still do not see libraries as a solution to modern-day problems.  For library advocacy to have any real success, this has to change.  Because if people of influence cannot see the role libraries can and should play in addressing contemporary concerns, there is little hope for the future of the library service and the profession.” 5.7 million households do not have an internet connection - Thoughts of a wannabe librarian.  23% of households do not have an internet connection, 50% of those without the internet say they do not need it, “40% say that the equipment is too expensive or they do not believe they have the skills required”

  • Novel Bus-Stop libraries in Israel promote green transportation – Green Prophet (Israel).   “at the beginning of the first experimental week, the books disappeared. By the end of that week, not only were the books returned, but new ones were added.”
  • “No, we shouldn’t just Google it: John Walsh laments the death of the reference book” –  Independent. “It’s easy to feel a nostalgic throb for the old reference library on your desk. As the dictionary market steadily declines, and sales of thesauruses plummet by a shocking 24 per cent, the very word “thesaurus” has never sounded more like a dinosaur.”  Online resources are often shallow and limited in comparison to paper resources.
  • Storm battered flock to the public library - Library Journal.  “A common theme in recent years when disaster strikes has been the emergence of public libraries as the de facto recovery center for many cities and towns. Hurricane Irene was no exception and there are some concrete numbers as well as many anecdotes to demonstrate this.”
  • Who cares about libraries?Macleans (Canada).   “Canadians apparently. Far from being under siege (except in Toronto), they’re thriving—and experimenting.”…”One reason is the comparative health of public finances in Canada, where government deficits are generally less crushing than in other rich countries. As well, aversion among Canadian politicians to taxation to fund services is far less fervid than in the U.S.”

Changes

  • Devon – Combe Martin open for 10 hours a week instead of 19 and Lynton open for 6. Braunton opening hours have also been cut from 37 hours a week to 21. Ilfracombe Library have lost 7 hours and will be open for 33 hours a week.  
  • Oxfordshire – Campaign Group: Friends of Kennington Library, Save Botley Library 

Local News

  • Bolton – Councillors vote against volunteers in libraries - Bolton News.  “Cllr Walsh’s motion was defeated by Labour councillors. Liberal Democrat councillors abstained from voting.”
    • Save Bolton’s Libraries – Save Our Libraries [from email]. Event on Thursday 8th September at Bolton 7pm, Central Library Lecture Theatre. “Questions or contributions from the floor will be very welcome. We hope to stimulate a lively discussion on how we can save our threatened libraries, as well as provide an update on the campaign so far. If you care about the future of libraries in our town, please come along.”
  • Brent – Friday 23rd September: Fundraising film night in Kilburn, Cruel Separation – Save Kensal Rise Library.   “Tickets can be bought at Brent SOS Libraries events OR ordered by post for collection on the night from Samantha Warrington, 254 Carlton Avenue East, HA9 8PZ . Cheques should be made payable to Bindmans LLP.”
  • Devon – New reduced opening hours for Ifracombe Library – This is North Devon.   “In addition to the consultation responses, population size; how the local communities use their libraries; how close they are to other nearby libraries; and the cost of providing the service have all been taken into account by the council. Social factors such as deprivation have also influenced the new opening hours.”
  • Isle of Wight – Proposed community libraries to get improved access to online tools - Ventnor Blog.   Datalines to five volunteer-run libraries will be upgraded at council expense.
  • Lancashire – Longridge Library to re-open following £200,000 refurbishment - Click Lancashire.  “Audrey Taylor, manager at Longridge Library, said: “People will hardly recognise the library! As well as new windows and a new roof, there’s a completely fresh layout with new flooring and modern comfortable furniture.”
  • Oxfordshire – Call for openness on library staff needs - Witney Gazette. The “County Council does not know how many volunteers will be needed to staff its libraries if a planned reorganisation goes ahead, campaigners have warned.”…campaigner says ““The council just gave us a proposal without any consultation whatsoever. It is crazy, because we have some fantastic ideas, and it was very disappointing.”
    • Question everything: flawed consultations and why volunteers don’t work – Question Everything. Exhaustive analysis of data used in consultation, yardsticks used and assumptions. Council had apparently used suggestions gleaned from the Save Doncaster Libraries website which reprinted MLA guidance to the council there. Volunteer training costs also analysed: “They are actually going to lose money on this in the first year and won’t see any actual savings until year four, and even those will be minimal. The other costs will reoccur because things like first aid and fire marshal training have to be renewed. I used the sources for the costs that match the certificates for the staff that are on the wall in the library. On the level of volunteers we have a community shop in Ascott and they require 4 part-time staff and 36 volunteers so the numbers of volunteers needed is probably conservative.”

Councils don’t use the “c-word”

Comment

The 42 library closures so far this year is less than perhaps many were expecting.  It is true that the year (the council year starts in April) is still young but, still, that’s not many in this year of unprecedented peacetime cuts in council funding.  It is a true tribute to all of those who have been working so hard up and down the country to fight library closures.  
However, that very word “closures” is perhaps the nub of a new problem.  Forcing local library users to take over their library (effectively blackmailing them into providing their labour for free what their taxes previously paid someone else to do) does not count as a closure.  Indeed it counts as a triumph.  For instance, in Wiltshire, taking on 300 new volunteers in Wiltshire (replacing 40 or so paid staff) is called “maintaining our libraries“.  Similar sleights of hand are being undertaken nationwide, notably in Suffolk and in Oxfordshire.  An example of this is seen in Doncaster today where the mayor, Peter Davies, is refusing even to use the word “closure” about libraries, apparently due to MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Council) advice.  This, despite, making clear that 14 would close if volunteers do not take them over.  This whole thing is really greying, really  confusing, the true picture of what is going on.  It allows the big cuts to be made, real reductions in a key service to be made, without the backlash and protest and, in so doing, lines up more libraries in more authorities for further cuts down the line.

418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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

  • Case for libraries’ use of social media: a how-to - Voices for the Library.  Based on survey in Wales. Higher Education libraries keen on social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogging etc) and use it to promote and improve their service.  Public librarians, though, are often not allowed by the council’s IT policy to use social media at work or to use it to promote their services.  Article includes tailorable template for librarians to use to request access.  
  • Hunt to make decision on Brent inquiry “next month” – BookSeller.  Following on from report on Public Libraries News yesterday.  “Hunt has received 66 complaints from the public about Brent’s library closures, it was claimed during the judicial review hearing. The secretary of state has a duty under the 1964 Public Libraries Act to superintend the service and can launch an inquiry into any local authority’s provision if concerned that they are failing to fulfil their obligations to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” service.”
  • UK to get national library catalogue – Guardian [cached - original link not working at time of checking].   “The two organisations said the catalogue will contain bibliographic data from 80% of the UK’s public libraries and enable web users to search 9m bibliographic records and 50m books and other stock items.” … includes material from “149 local authorities with a current full subscription to UnityUK”

Changes

Local News

  • Bolton – Library funding row - This is Lancashire.  Labour councillor calls Conservative councillor suggestion that money is taken from area forum budgets to pay for libraries as “bare-faced cheek”.
“there’s no cuts to essential services – as far as the library’s concerned, you’ve been fed the usual nonsense from the protesters, we’re trying to keep all the libraries open, er but er again not er without the cost that’s been there before. We’re trying to use money wisely and to keep services going.” Mayor Peter Davies, Doncaster.  Council will close 14 libraries if volunteers don’t take them over. 

  • Doncaster – Not the C-Word! Library closures “nonsense” - Save Doncaster Libraries.  “In February this year, the Museums Libraries and Archives Council told Doncaster Council that they shouldn’t use the word ‘closure’ when talking about the cuts in funding and, well…closing libraries. Instead, the council has tried very hard to avoid the word ‘closure’, and has instead commented on the libraries that will ‘remain’ when the council no longer funds the 14 libraries it has picked (essentially out of a hat) to cease funding.”
  • Halton – Library plan for former Runcorn Indoor Market - Runcorn and Widnes World.  Work on the £550,000 scheme will start in October, with completion scheduled for March 2012. The building will then be home both to Halton Library Services and Halton Direct Link, providing public access to the library’s lending and reference collections, computer facilities and a one-stop-shop for council services including payments, service requests and general enquiries.”
  • Islington – “Intrusive” questions for Islington library card criticised” - Islington Gazette.  Tax Payers Alliance criticise joining form which asks about sexuality, disabilities and even cancer/AIDs.  Council responds that form optional and is used so that they can know their customers.
  • Lancashire – Longridge Library to reopen following £200,000 refurbishment - Click Lancashire.   “People will hardly recognise the library! As well as new windows and a new roof, there’s a completely fresh layout with new flooring and modern comfortable furniture”.  Other improvements include vending machine, baby change, Wi-fi, room hire, self-service.
  • Redbridge – Blind man must pay for audio library books - This is Local London. RNIB say “”What Redbridge and many other councils across the country are doing is discriminating against blind and partially sighted people.”… Council say “As Talking Books is not a statutory service and technology has made access to audio books much easier since the introduction of the service some thirty years ago, the decision was made to no longer fund it.”
  • Suffolk – Legal chief took own life after intense pressure over council cuts - Guardian.  “The now abandoned proposals, which included axing all school-crossing patrols and shutting libraries, had proved massively unpopular with staff and public alike.”.  He had told the chief executive, Andrea Hill (who has since left the council and was the subject of much local and national criticism) that some of the cuts proposed were illegal….”In particular, he felt a consultation on libraries was conducted on the basis the council would retain 15 when it had been decided only eight would remain open.” 

Secretary of State considering public inquiry in Brent

Comment

“In relation to investigating complaints made about the Borough of Brent’s decision to close libraries within its area, officials here are in the process of assessing all relevant information on this matter and a decision by the Secretary of State is anticipated in September.” Email from DCMS legal advisers to Brent campaign solicitor, 18th August

“This is a very important development and one which you all need to grapple with straightaway. The Secretary of State has special powers to direct a public inquiry into the planned closures – just like the Wirral Inquiry – and he can even prevent them from happening while that inquiry happens, or at all.” Brent campaign solicitor to campaigners, same day.

Much to the annoyance of many local library users, the council in Brent is trying to close six out of its twelve libraries.  A judge is currently considering if these closures are legal and will report in a month or two.  Almost as significantly, the emails quoted above suggest that the Secretary of State may intervene.  In the case of the Wirral, the result of an inquiry was dramatic – no libraries closed and the council is now firmly pro-library.  We can hope that the same will happen in Brent.  It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this website, though, that most experienced observers expect the minister to somehow find an excuse not to intervene.  Letting local councils carry the can for the closures suits the purposes of this Government too well.

418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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

  • Budget cuts force week-long closure of Seattle Public Libraries - q13fox.com (USA).  “”Without the closure, it would have been difficult to generate the magnitude of savings necessary without cutting more operating hours or further reducing the book budget,” interim chief executive officer Lin Schnell said. “We understand how much people depend and rely on our services, but these are very difficult economic times.”
  • Frankly, we’ll sue the libraryVineyard Gazetter (USA).  “A private consultant hired by the Edgartown Library Foundation is threatening legal action for copyright infringement over a phrase used to promote an annual community fund-raiser for the town public library.”.  Consultant claims using lines “Frankly, we love our library” and “We love our library” are copyrighted terms that can only be used with her permission. 
“I don’t know anything about making a budget, but I do know that they are always up on the chopping block but libraries are the best deal in town! When I was a kid they were one of the first places I ever had a sense of autonomy, because I would go to the library to do work for school and be in charge of myself there. They’re filled with sex and scandal and crime and Pippy Longstocking. What’s not to love?” Paula Poundstone tries to save Houston’s public libraries one word at a time – Culture Map Houston (USA).

  • Privatize libraries in their interest - Pasadena Star-News (USA).  At a time when the California Legislature has slashed critical programs and services in an effort to balance its own budget and is considering the need to increase some taxes, the $28 per year special library tax that Santa Clarita residents had been paying for library operations was eliminated, due to the fiscally responsible actions of the locally elected Santa Clarita City Council. In this era of diminishing funding for local government services and over extended budgets, contracting for library services is one way to improve libraries, while reducing the tax burden on our residents.”
  • Reading revolution – 14 marvellous libraries - Web Urbanist.  Includes a library whose entire exterior is an LCD display.  Whitechapel Idea Store is the sole British example – “A traditional library is combined with space for classes inside a diaphanous blue and green glass volume in Adjaye Associates’ Idea Store Whitechapel. The flagship building of a program that aims to push libraries into the 21st century, including the latest digital technology, Idea Store includes a five-story atrium.”
  • WI to support libraries campaign - BookSeller.  “The WI’s membership are being asked to each borrow a book from their local library on the day “in recognition of the continued importance of the WI’s early vision to widen educational opportunities”.

Changes

Local News

  • Barnet – W2LW “Walk to the Library Week” - Save Friern Barnet Library.  “The library was packed full of children busy playing games, learning and having fun. It felt like the whole of Friern Barnet’s community had turned up in support of the walk to the library week.” … “W2LW showed how a community could build a future. We feel it gave generations a sense of hope and purpose and above all else, a sense of fun.”
  • Bolton -Six things you could do to help save the libraries - Save Bolton Libraries (Facebook).  Includes the two events below plus helping out on town centre campaign stall, join local campaign, contact councillor/MP, fill in consultation form,
    • Future event – Save Bolton’s Libraries” – Thursday 8th September 7pm, Central Library Lecture Theatre – best selling local author Ruth Hamilton, award winning children’s author and campaigner Alan Gibbons and popular local playwright Les Smith (‘And Did Those Feet’ at the Octagon) are all speaking, with messages of support from other writers. We will have posters to display shortly.”
    • Future event – “What Future for Bolton’s Libraries?Thursday 15th September 7pm, Central Library Lecture Theatre – Bolton News deputy editor Lynn Ashwell chairs a debate between politicians, trade unionists and campaigners – Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of the council (Labour), Cllr John Walsh leader of the Conservative Group, Cllr David Wilkinson or Cllr Carole Swarbrick (Liberal Democrats), Alan Johnson (Green Party), Ian McHugh (SBLC) and a Unison speaker.” 
  • Croydon – Chance to have your say on Croydon libraries … - Sanderstead Library Campaign Group.  “With a decision imminent many Croydon residents are still unaware of the market-testing undertaken on Croydon libraries, with a view to progressing outsourcing them all to a private company, other local authorities or other interested groups. Campaigners regularly meet with people who are not only unaware but laugh at such a prospect in disbelief. Unfortunately it is not a joke.” “…it would appear to be a admission by Croydon Council that they are unable to effectively manage their network of thirteen libraries.”
  • Oxfordshire – Vilagers voice their anger at library closure threat - Henley Standard.   Goring Library will have staffing reduced by two-thirds, to be made up by volunteers.  Friends group says “While we applauded the original decision of the council to keep Goring library open, our response to the consultation decision to cut funding and the supporting evidence was more of a slow hand clap.”  Council expects volunteers to pay for own CRB checks.  Criteria used to select cut libraries accused of being flawed and biased.
  • Scottish Borders - Concerns new library service could spoil Melrose gem - Border Telegraph. Libraries will have reduced hours as well as merging one-stop shops with libraries.  Fears over confidentiality (and waste of library buildings) expressed. 
  • Surrey – Latest SLAM plans - Surrey Libraries Action Movement.  Including Facebook, Twitter, local petition, the WI, UNISON, contacting MPs and councillors.
  • Warwickshire – Communities in bids to save librariesWarwick Courier.  “Business cases have been put forward for local communities to run all 16 of the libraries set to close under Warwickshire County Council’s drive to cut costs. Some 100 library staff were set to lose their jobs in the shake-up.” 
  • Wiltshire – Volunteers in Wiltshire train to run local libraries - BBC.   300 volunteers in final week of training.  They will start working in libraries (which have lost 17 staff in 2011 and 26 more in Dec 2010, including 9 out of 13 branch managers) in the next four weeks in order to avoid 10 branch and 5 mobile closures.  “So if the library’s going to close and volunteers can save it, that’s the way forward. Quite simple really.”.

“The front line is everywhere”

418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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

  • Austrian librarian restrained by three men on flight from USIrish Times.  “I feel deeply sorry and ashamed for what I have done.” He had no memory of the incident “but I accept what the witnesses said . . . I will never take a sleeping tablet again”.
  • Children’s author tackles literacy during rugby world cup - Booktrade.info.  Tom Palmer promoting ready over 30 different locations.  “For those schools that Tom will not be visiting, he has written a toolkit for schools and libraries to use to promote reading during the Rugby World Cup, called LOVE RUGBY: LOVE READING. Commissioned by the National Literacy Trust it includes ideas for displays, activities and events. It is available for free at www.literacytrust.org.uk, thanks to funding from the Rugby Football Union.”
  • Far more than shushing and checking out books: For the love of librarians and public libraries – Critics at large (Canada).  “Students, children, stay-at-home parents, working parents, seniors, the homeless, the curious, intellectuals, perverts, the public library is a place for us all. Everyone, overseen by the librarian, a seriously capable, usually friendly, professional that will care for, cater to, and put up with it all. Practically the only thing they don’t serve is donuts, but there are plenty of those shops in most neighbourhoods.”
  • Front line is everywhereIt’s not about the books.   “So step away from the reference desk and right out of the library.  The Information Revolution needs revolutionaries -follow Che’s lead and come down off your mountain and into the streets. When it comes to the war on ignorance, as Rage Against the Machine once told us, the front line is everywhere.”
  • Libraries need buildings - We Heart Libraries.  One of several useful pages on this campaign site for North Hertfordshire and Stevenage.  “We’ve said elsewhere on this site that one of the most valuable things that libraries do is to contribute to our dwindling store of town-centre public space, one of the key places where our communities are built – and long may they continue to do so.”
  • Privatizing public libraries - Sign on San Diego.   “A few dozen librarians made some noise in Sacramento last week. For their photo-op, the demonstrators read from a handcrafted children’s book titled “The Privatization Beast Comes to Our Town.” A yellow Sesame Street-like character played the part of the scary “Privatization Beast.””.  Article thinks librarians are protesting in order to protect their jobs and pensions.
  • Soundtracked ebooks launch in UK - Telegraph.   “This sounds like the opposite of reading. I have enough trouble reading an ebook because I’m constantly distracted by emails and so I’ve given up on it for the time being,”

Changes to tally

Local News

  • Birmingham – Protesters meet to draw up battle plans to fight any plans to downgrade Hall Green Library - Birmingham Mail.  Fear libraries will move to a fully-resourced “hub” library in each area with less opening hours for other libraries, including Hall Green. 
  • Cumbria – £170,000 unpaid fines owed to Cumbrian librariesNews & Star.  Charges have accumulated over a decade.  Surrey owes £700k. ““The figure isn’t a debt as such. There’s no contract and we don’t pursue people for money, but we would try to recover the book that’s outstanding. There may be good reasons why people don’t return books.”
  • Derby – Derby museum trust scheme could be extended - BBC.   Trust for museums could mean quicker decision-making, more possibility for grants and more entrepreurship.  This scheme could be expanded to libraries. “Any transfer must take place by April 2012 to guarantee £286,000 of funding provided by the Museums, Archives and Libraries Council [sic] to manage the changes.”
  • Lambeth – Last chance to have your say on futureThis is Local London.   “Library users will have two more chances to have their say at meetings held by a commission examining the future of the service. Lambeth libraries have the highest cost per visit in London, and have been told to make £750,000 savings by 2014 by the council following Government cuts. 
  • Wakefield – Outwood Library lovers vow to step up fight – Yorkshire Evening Post.  “From September onwards we are going to step up the pace of our campaign. We will have a hard copy petition available to sign which will be available at various locations throughout the area.”

Erratum

If Brighton can do it …

418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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

“I think they just didn’t think,” she said. “As (Doug Ford) said), he’d close a library in a heartbeat…. Well if you’re going to close something in a heartbeat it means you haven’t thought through the issue. I think if they had thought it through they wouldn’t have done it – they got caught out by something they hadn’t thought through, they hadn’t thought about the public support for the libraries. Because I guess they don’t go to them.” Atwood takes leading role in library cuts debate - Inside Toronto (Canada). 

  • Katharine Whitehorn experience - Guardian.  You probably know the conversation: about a library closing, or whether my bookshop people are as charming as yours; then someone will say in superior tones that surely it’s all easier and cheaper online…”.  Libraries are more social than Amazon.
  • Michael Porter (Library Renewal)This Week in Libraries (Netherlands).  “Michael has travelled for 4 years all across the USA visiting libraries and helping them to get online so he really knows libraries in all sizes and shapes and has seen the changes that took place. He has worked with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with OCLC and on Webjuncyion. We are now standing at the crossroads. There lies an enormous chance for a Library renaissance as the world may never have seen before. Michael and a group of great minds are discussing this and thinking of how this library can look like and what services it should offer and how it can bring people together.”
  • Public libraries: a long overdue argument - What’s Next: Top Trends.   “Whether or not we will want libraries in the future I cannot say, but I can categorically state we will need them, because libraries aren’t just about the books they contain. Moreover, it is a big mistake, in my view, to confuse the future of books or publishing with the future of public libraries. They are not the same thing.”…”I’d say the answer to this is that public libraries are important because of a word that’s been largely ignored or forgotten and that word is Public.”

Changes

Local News

  • Bolton – Area forums money could save libraries under threat - Bolton News.   Conservatives also want libraries to be run by charitable trusts and volunteers to work alongside libraries. 
  • Bradford – Addingham library agreement set for signaturesIlkey Gazette.  Volunteers hope to run library – which would otherwise have closed – from 1st October, already undergoing CRB checks.  
  • Brighton & Hove – Shake-up promised for 16 Brighton and Hove librariesBrighton and Hove News.   “Library users across Brighton and Hove are being promised more services and a better experience.  All 16 libraries in the city are to offer refreshments, have more modern computers and take action to tackle noise nuisance. The main Jubilee Library in Brighton is even to have free wifi.” … ““We think libraries are a crucial, core council service. So we’ll be actively pursuing opportunities for refurbishment or redevelopment of libraries.”
  • Dorset – County fight to save libraries takes to the internetBridport News.   “The Women’s Institute has now launched an online petition calling on the government to ‘honour its commitment to act as a champion of the library service’. The Friends of Charmouth Library are signing the petition and are encouraging others to do the same.” … ““If the WI e-petition gets 100,000 signatures, the issue must be considered for parliamentary debate so the Secretary of State will no longer be able to hide behind excuses.”
  • Lewisham – Reality of Lewisham’s independent libraries - Studio Living.   Crofton Library, now known as Crofton Community Hub, after being given to Eco Computer Systems, refused to allow a local Literary Festival to put a poster up without being charged.  Further investigation shows that the policy on this was still not clear at the time of asking.  The owner of the company running the library has since decided that local posters can be put up for free. 
Local community will be free. We do have to make money, and you are right that this is not the right way. Could you promote how people can drop their old computers and books into the library, because this is what pays for all the costs of the libraries. We have had over 160 children doing the summer reading challenge over the holidays, and we have been training seniors on how to use computers. At Sydenham we moved loads of the shelving to accommodate an art exhibition.” Darren Taylor, new owner of Crofton Library.

“We the undersigned petition Surrey County Council to withdraw their current proposals for changes to the library service and undertake a full, open, public consultation on the future of Surrey libraries. We are NOT in favour of the Surrey County Council proposal to completely withdraw paid professional staff from any of our libraries. We believe the council should continue to provide management and paid professional staff in every library. We do not believe that we were sufficiently consulted with regarding these proposals and call for their withdrawal whilst a full, open, public consultation takes place on the future of Surrey’s libraries.” Surrey – PetitionSurrey Libraries Action Movement. 

  • York – Readers run up £50k in library fines - Press.   “There are record attendances at the York and Acomb Explore centres and we are responding to what people want, while, unlike most councils, we have closed no libraries. But to keep up that standard of service, we have to encourage the timely return of books.”

One Year On

418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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
  • Bidoun Library Seminar: UK libraries: Struggles for the knowledge commons – Centre for Possible Studies.  Saturday 27th August, 3pm.  “We have dedicated the final Bidoun Library Seminar to a meeting on libraries.  Participants reflect on current struggles around the closures and drastic cuts affecting public libraries in theUK.  Join representatives from the Library Campaign, the Feminist Library, New Cross Library, the Goldsmiths Library Occupation and others to discuss and strategise.”
  • Decentralised power via the Localism Bill - Voices for the Library.   Brief analysis of each article of the Localism Bill from a pro-library perspective.  “So, in summary, the Bill will enable local communities (people, councillors and local authorities/councils) to have a greater impact on the development of services in their own area, but at the same time the Bill proposes the removal of restrictions that are currently in place to ensure local councils continue to provide essential local services.”
  • Even the Library of Congress isn’t safe from budget cutsSo Many Books (USA).   “The Library of Congress is cutting almost 10% of its workforce after having its budget cut by by $53 million. It is the largest cut to any legislative branch agency. In order to cut its staff, the LOC is offering early retirement to eligible workers over the age of 50, or about 1,000 of its 4,000 employees.”
  • Happy anniversary Voices for the Library!Thoughts of a Wannabe Librarian.  Thoughts one year on from one of the founder members.
     

     

    • Karin Slaughter, library advocate of the year - Library Journal.  “I’m a day late, but congratulations to author Karin Slaughter (Fallen) who on August 25 was invited by the Georgia House of Representatives to speak about  her Save the Libraries campaign at a Special Legislative Session.”
    • Lure of the libraryNouse (University of York student website).  Article on libraries with brief history and questioning of their future.  It contains inaccuracies about saving libraries and some other things (for instance Voices for the Library does not advocate staffing libraries with volunteers, rather the opposite) but at least mentions the issue.
    • Mystery still a closed book as new sculptures appear - Scotsman.   “The first sculpture is of a tray with a cup of tea and a cupcake and is inscribed: “This cup is awarded to @edbookfest” and also contains a tea bag full of letters, an unmarked book and a label which says – “This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas and festivals xx.”
    • Progressive fantasy author Jane Yolen under attack by Tea Party - AlterNet (USA).   “The reason? She defended the existence of libraries. (Let’s all check out her books now!)”.  Author attacks Tea Party advocate for reading a children’s story for an event in a public library which his policies would see close.
    • Tracy Beaker writer backs library fight - London Evening Standard.  “I’m delighted to do whatever I can to help save our libraries. When I was a child I practically lived in my local library. It seems so dreadful that our excellent libraries are under threat.”  Clapham Old Town Library could be sold off to developers.
    (A lot has changed since then – this image from Wikipedia via Twitter)
    Local News
    • Angus – Cross party opposition to library transferArbroath Herald.   Fears Arbroath would lose ownership of its library as it is transferred into Angus’s ownership.  “There is cross party opposition among Arbroath councillors to a move proposed by Angus Council officials whereby Arbroath Library would be removed from Common Good ownership and transferred to the local authority’s general fund”
    • Bolton – Campaigners have their say on the future of Astley Bridge Library – Bolton News.   ““There are over 25,000 visits made to this library every year. It is a meeting place, a place of study, a place to access the internet and a valuable resource for our local schools.”…Cllr Walsh said he believed funding was not spread equally across Bolton. He added that £200,000 could be saved with changes to area forum budgets, which would allow the five “at risk” libraries to remain open for the next 12 months.”
    • Conwy – Deadline on library service changesBBC.   “The deadline on the proposals for the 12 libraries in the county ended on Friday, with nearly 300 feedback forms received beforehand… It was claimed at a council meeting last year that some of the county’s libraries were among the worst in Wales, with poor book stocks, too few staff, and were in buildings which needed maintenance.”
    • Harrow – Last chance to comment on council services as part of Let’s Talk consultation – Harrow Times.   “The council want the public’s views on parks, libraries, arts and sports facilities as part of the Let’s Talk consultation, which closes today.”

    WI Library Action Day for 16th September.

    16 September 2011 – WI BIRTHDAY LIBRARY ACTION DAY  – “The 16 September 2011 marks the 96th anniversary of the first WI meeting.   Many members have already started to take action on the Love Your Libraries campaign and as a next step, in recognition of the continued importance of the WI’s early vision to widen educational opportunities and the long-standing commitment of WI members to promote libraries, we are asking members to celebrate this year’s WI birthday by taking the simple step of borrowing a book from your local library”- Women’s Institute

    418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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

    • At last, Tony Blair is talking sense about alienated youth – Guardian. “Likewise, the endless twaddle that the commentariat trundles out about libraries. Again, the focus is on the working-class child who is just waiting to be borne off on a shining chariot marked: “In reading lies knowledge. In knowledge lies wisdom.” Often, this admirable and idealised prodigy turns out to have been based on the writer himself. I loved going to the library as a child too, and I’m grateful to my mother for taking me. But I’d be wary of lionising anything just because it was a helpful addition to a stable, loving, working-class upbringing, 40 years ago. There’s something self-regarding about these misty-eyed arguments….”
      • Alan Gibbon comment – “…Wailing that times are tough and saying that we can’t do everything is counter productive. Acting as a liberal Trojan horse and justifying back door attacks on libraries and book gifting is dangerous. Deborah Orr makes some valid points in this article but could end up demoralising the very people who care most about literacy as a vehicle for social change. She can do better.”
    • Edinburgh Book Festival sculptures are a “whodunnit?” -  BBC.  “It also contains a teabag full of letters, an unmarked book – and has a label marked “in support of libraries, books, words, ideas and festivals. Over the past year similar sculptures have been left at the National Library of Scotland, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Scottish Storytelling Centre but their creator remains a mystery.”
    • GCSEs: sloppy grammar will cost pupils one in ten marks - Telegraph. 
    • Karin Slaighter writes story to help save librariesHuffington Post (USA).  “An outspoken library advocate, the author wrote a piece last year in the Atlanta Journal Constitution stating that “the funding of American libraries should be a matter of national security.”
    • Libraries are for everyoneAlan Gibbons.  Emphasises DCMS report says libraries serve all classes and age groups, to great customer satisfaction, despite poor funding.  “To sum up, libraries are as relevant and necessary as they ever were. They could be greater if they were properly led and not served up the dog’s breakfast of the Future Libraries Programme. The principles on which they were built are unimpeachable.”
    • New city librarian aims to deliver “great customer experiences”Seattle Times (USA).   “But the primary reason libraries are still important is their role as a central reference point, Turner said, and not just for term-paper writers who want to know the color of Helen of Troy’s hair or who fought in the War of the Roses. One recently widowed man came in for help with his checkbook because his wife had always handled their finances, said Andra Addison, library communications director.”
    • Take a leaf out of New York’s book: Invest in your libraries, don’t close themLondon Evening Standard.  “Christopher Platt, director of collections and circulation operations at New York Public Library, which operates 100 libraries, spoke as the Evening Standard’s Save Our Libraries campaign is getting behind Londoners fighting to keep their local branches open in the face of public spending cuts.”
    • Library cuts will be devastating for childrenLondon Evening Standard.  “Hundreds of residents have signed a petition calling on Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt to look into the closures, which parents said would have a “devastating” effect on children, particularly those who have no other access to books.” 

    Changes

    Local News

    • Suffolk – Aldeburgh: group outline library vision - EADT.  “Clive Fox, chairman of the steering group, said: “At the heart of our proposal was the strongly held view that the way forward must be through genuine partnerships between the county as statutory library authority and local people, who should be trusted to know best what they need and how to achieve it.”

    Changes

    Oxfordshire:  Save Our Library.org umbrella organisation for campaigners. 

    Big Society Libraries – on BBC “Village SOS”.

    418 libraries (336 buildings and 82 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

    • Activism, advocacy and professional identityJohanna Bo Anderson’s blog.  “Activism is about politics and ethics, social outcomes and shaping the future – the aim is not just to promote services and influence change but to be the change.”… “I believe that my need to get involved as an activist stems from a lack of advocacy of public libraries in the past. If we had been promoting them and raising their profile all along we would not be in the mess we are in now”
    “If the “Big Society” was about shifting real power to local communities, I would be all for it. But localism and community ownership are a smokescreen for massive spending cuts and the transfer of assets to the unelected and unaccountable private and voluntary sectors. This has been made possible by a lack of resources, low expectations from citizens, a lack of passion from public sector workers and the absence of ambition from successive governments.” Big Society or Big Con?BookSeller (John Pateman).  Looking at the pros and cons of volunteers running libraries. 

    • CaistorVillage SOS (BBC One). Caistor Arts and Culture Centre – old church turned into library amongst other things, with help from council, the Big Lottery Fund and the BBC.
    • Communities anxious for changeLocality.  “With over 500 community-led regeneration practitioners and supporters expected to attend, Locality ’11 will be the largest event of its kind across the country.” Tickets cost up to £420 plus VAT.
    • DCMS Taking Part survey: imagine what could be achieved if we invested in our public librariesVoices for the Library.  “what is most stark about these figures is that social background appears to have no bearing on library usage…The report also demonstrated the importance of public libraries for children, not least considering the increasing cull of school libraries … If authorities are threatening to close up to 50% of libraries when usage has remained stable, will similar cuts be applied to other council services? … Councillors and politicians may be keen to argue that libraries are becoming irrelevant, in order to justify closing them or staffing them with volunteers. The facts suggests otherwise.”
    • Ground level viewCommunity Knowledge Hub.   “Thanks to all the councils and communities that have been in touch, we’ve recently been in discussions regarding the potential community transfer of more than fifty libraries! I will in due course be contacting everyone who has expressed interest to formally join the network, so please bear with me.” … list of volunteer-run libraries currently being developed by CHK/Locality … “All of this demonstrates that, while there is absolutely the potential to support innovative service transformation in relation to libraries, communities need support and the cooperation of local authorities and other partners to achieve this.”
    • Outsourcing urged to alleviate austerityFinancial Times.   Chief Exec of Capita says “When you can see local authorities closing libraries, swimming pools, it’s criminal,” he said. “It’s a political agenda. Billions of pounds could be saved and the public wouldn’t notice the difference.” … “The FTSE 100 company, which already provides services such as storing criminal records for the Home Office and collecting television licence fees for the BBC, expects a wave of outsourcing as the squeeze in public spending forces central and local government to look at radical ways of slashing costs.”… ““Why wouldn’t you outsource council tax collection rather than closing a library?” Mr Pindar asked.”.  LGA says ““Cuts to council budgets are both big and front-loaded, which means savings have to be made now and an impact on services is regrettably inevitable. To suggest otherwise is either self-serving or naive,”
      • Capita Chief calls cuts criminalEWeek.   Campaign4Change points out Capita makes huge amounts of money from government/council contracts and that any outsourcing should be to smaller companies.
    • September is Library Card Sign-up Month - ALA (USA).  “a time to remind parents and children that a library card is the most important school supply of all” 
    “The library is such a great equalizer. It doesn’t take money. You can have access to anything and everything in the world and get that knowledge and that entertainment for free. Especially in our economy right now, with things being expensive and people being laid off and  families having issues, to be able to come to the Library … that’s kind of amazing.”  Tyra Banks visits NYPL and talks libraries - NYPL (USA).  

    • Von Hahn: Turning the page on sleek architecture - Star (Canada).  “In a city as diverse as ours, with a large population of new Canadians from all over the world, free access to great works, tools for learning and information is so essential, it’s obvious cost-efficiency types keen on closures and privatization haven’t read past the introduction.”.  Toronto has been remodellign many of its library buildings, emphasising them as “urban living rooms”.  Usage has gone up by from 22 to 66% in each.

    Changes 

    Cornwall – 19 library managers may be lost.  £1 million cut.
    Herefordshire – 2 mobiles have now been withdrawn, replaced by needs-tested home delivery service.
    Warwickshire – Between 86 to 120 jobs to be lost as volunteers take over running of 16 branches.   

    Local News

    • Barnet  Have you ever used the green? - Times series.  “As part of the campaign to save Friern Barnet Library, we are considering applying to have the piece of green land to the west of the library designated as a village green.”
    • Bradford – Campaigns to keep lending facilities openTelegraph & Argus.  District libraries under threat of closure have until next week to come up with a rescue plan. Libraries in Wrose, Heaton, Wilsden, Addingham and Denholme are all earmarked for closure as part of a bid by Bradford Council to save £70,000.”  Deadline has been extended twice.  “In Addingham, the campaign to save the village library is turning into quite a success story, with nearly 30 volunteers on board so far. A charitable association has been set up and several meetings have been held to look at developing the layout of the 17th century building once it has been taken over on October 1.”
    • Brent – Campaigners raise money to support action against library closures - Harrow Times.    “Residents campaigning to save Preston Library from closure spent last Friday collecting money outside Sainsbury’s, in Kenton, after taking the council to the High Court last month … On Sunday, September 18, Councillor Paul Lorber (Liberal Democrats) will take part in the Fryent Country Park 5km run in support of the campaign.”
      • “Give us inquiry into Brent’s library closures” minister told - Harrow Observer.   “Anti-cuts campaigners who manned a stall outside Neasden Library in Neasden Lane, Neasden, on Saturday collected more than 160 names urging Tory minister Jeremy Hunt to intervene.” … “Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Paul Lorber said: “Irrespective of the outcome of the legal action, the secretary of state still has a responsibility to decide whether Brent Council is capable of running a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service with just six libraries. “If there is any element of doubt then he should order an inquiry. He should not judge himself.”
      • Petitions rally support for Brent librariesBookSeller.  “Many people said how much they and their children value the services that the libraries provide. For their sake I hope Jeremy Hunt listens and orders an inquiry.”
    • Cornwall  – Library job cuts lead to quality fears - BBC.  19 managers may go.  “Lib Dem Councillor Alex Folks said the library staff “are excellent but this proposal will axe the most experienced leadership”. Mr Roden [UNISON] said losing experienced staff will “inevitably lead to a reduced service” and the proposals could see many of Cornwall’s top library managers taking “voluntary redundancy or revised roles”.  Former manager says “If they are more under stress, they are less likely to give the great personal service which our library staff have in the past.”
    • Dorset  – Libraries unite to investigate council’s offerDorset Echo.   ““We have also recommended that, wherever possible, negotiations should be run by Ad Lib on behalf of all nine libraries, rather than all try and deal with the County Council on our own.” … However, Mr Chaney added: “When it comes to things like money I think each community will have to do its own negotiations because it may depend how much each community has got in its pot.” 
    • Herefordshire – Future of mobile library serviceHerefordshire Council.   2 mobile libraries withdrawn, to be replaced by a “library home delivery service” assessed on needs of health and mobility.
    • Somerset  – Taunton Library cuts opening hours - This is the WestCountry.   “REDUCED opening hours at Taunton Library will come into effect from October 3 as part of massive cutbacks by Somerset County Council.”  Cut of ten hours per week.  Legal injunction means ““Whilst the injunction stops the withdrawal of funding, the council is still able to change the opening hours of the 23 other libraries.”
    • Warwickshire – Residents in bid to take over threatened Warwickshire librariesCoventry Telegraph.   “Coun Colin Hayfield, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for customers, access and physical assets, said: “It’s extremely encouraging to have heard from all 16 communities where libraries were seen as no longer viable.”  Council extended deadline after just six submissions were originally received.  “The removal of “unsustainable” libraries from council control could see between 86 to 120 people lose their jobs.”
    • Westminster – Anger over closure of Victoria library and three One Stop services - Westminster Chronicle.  “St James’s Library and the Victoria One Stop service, both in Victoria Street, closed their doors for the last time on Tuesday.”
    • Wirral  – So this is what they mean by “lifelong learning”Wirral Globe.   “From now on, when parents are going through the legal process of officially naming their child at the Registrar’s Office, they will also be handed an interim membership card for their child for Wirral Libraries.”  Libraries are “packed with music, stories, games, crafts, puzzles, child-size furniture, picture-books, and – significantly – other children.”