Writer of the Public Libraries Act says cuts likely to be unlawful

Comment
Francis Bennion, who drafted the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, has written to the Times expressly stating that the current cuts are likely to be unlawful under its terms.  His view is important as it shows that the spirit, as well as the word, of the Act is against the current closures and other reductions in service.  It will be interesting to see what impact his intervention has in the debate as several legal challenges which are largely based on perceived contraventions of the Act.

415 libraries (333 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 as “place shapers”: the future of local government? - Guardian.  Warwickshire, currently looking to give away or close  16 out of  its 34 descibed as a “place-shaping trailblazer”.  Drop-off point for books in local supermarket, shared buildings with local councils, children’s centres, village hall and Revenue and Customs.
  • Literacy drive under threat, laureate warnsIndependent (Eire).  Eerily reminiscent of British experience. 
  • Public Libraries Act ignored, says man who wrote it - BookSeller.   “Former parliamentary counsel Francis Bennion drafted the bill that became the 1964 act, the cornerstone of the present public library service. In a letter to the Times today (16th August)”. “The civil servant spent 14 years in the Westminster Parliamentary Counsel Office drafting acts of parliament, as well as drafting the constitutions by which Pakistan and Ghana became republics.”.
“Under this provision a severe reduction now in the public library facilities which were being provided by a particular library authority two or three years ago is likely to be unlawful. This is because there is a presumption that the earlier provision did not exceed what was required under the Act … The Act does not contain any provision for reduction of the duties because of a need for “cuts”” Francis Bennion Letter, reproduced here with his permission, plus additional paragraph - Voices for the Library.  The full text and vital missing paragraph from the Times letter written by the drafter of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act article.

  • Will Kindles kill libraries? - Boston Phoenix.  “This week, OverDrive itself will host its own conference to help libraries deal with a massive onslaught of patrons clamoring to check out books on their Kindles. Can embattled public institutions handle such a drastic change? Does Kindle come to kill the American library, or to save it?” An excellent look at the issues involved. 


Changes


Local news

  • Bolton – New plans to shut libraries come under fire – Bolton News.  Second consultation too biased, says campaigners.  ” “We were amazed at how many people were prepared to fill in these council forms, despite their jargon and biased questions. It feels like being given the choice between being hung, shot or poisoned. People just want the council to find a way to keep these libraries open.” 
  • Borders – Council reveal plans to shelve librarians in BordersBorder Telegraph.   “”If they are going to do it in one town they need to do it in every town otherwise we want a reduction in our community tax….”I fear that the library service is going to be depleted to such an extent that it won’t be retained in smaller towns like Selkirk.” 
  • Brent – High court decision on future of libraries to be reached in OctoberHarrow Times. 
  • Cambridgeshire – New vision for Cambridgeshire libraries - Haverhill Echo.  “Ideas in also include libraries sharing facilities with small businesses such as the Post Office, and with Linton Library operating out of the Cathodeon Centre with other facilities the proposals would stand it in good stead.”.  Linton library may not be open in evenings. 
  • Durham – Clayport library to cease Sunday opening - Northern Echo.    “At a time when we have to make significant savings as a result of the Government grant reductions it is simply not sustainable or sensible for Sunday opening to continue,”.
  • Hammersmith & Fulham – Bush Theatre workers unearth old Shepherd’s Bush Library time capsule – Chronicle series.  Includes cutting that says ““Mr Edwards offered to build the library if the ratepayers would undertake to permanently maintain it under the provisions of the Libraries Act. The constituency was canvassed, and a public vote taken, which resulted in a majority of 2,440 in favour of the library.”
  • Isle of Wight – New hope for Bembridge libraryVentnor Blog.  Isle of Wight Rural Community Council may take over lease from council to allow for volunteer-run library. “This proposal deals with a number of issues at a stroke, including insurances and employment legislation issues covered by TUPE, which up until now has been a major sticking point. But we are not out of the woods yet, as we have to pay for all utility services, maintenance and running costs which add up to around £12,000 a year.”
  • Lancashire – Councillor slams plans to move Earby Library – Citizen.  Old building 10 minutes walk from centre of town..  “That building (Coronation Hall) is packed full of books. To close the library and replace it with a few shelves in a new location is despicable,”
  • Oxfordshire – Funding cuts leave rural libraries at a disadvantage – Henley Standard.   “The county council’s premise right at the start is to prioritise five areas — where people live, work, shop and study and public transport. By those criteria these have to be urban areas. Once that was set then there was a bias against rural areas … This is not a plan for the future, it’s not even a proper plan. They have looked for the simplest way to solve their problem but it’s not managing it for the future.” 
  • Suffolk – Town council steps in to run library - Suffolk Free Press.  “Sudbury Library is among 14 others across the county which will be part of a new pilot scheme designed to save them from closure.”
  • Walthamstow – More than 1000 sign libraries petitionThis is Local London. “A day of action in protest at the proposed loss of Harrow Green Library and South Chingford library was organised by unions and anti-cuts groups in Walthamstow town Square on Saturday.”
  • Wigan – Calls for council to run the trust – Wigan Today.  “An opposition councillor is demanding the town hall once again run its recreation services – from parks and football pitches to libraries and crematoria – because of the money allegedly lost at last year’s Haigh Fest pop concerts.” – claims event lost £250,000 but the Trust refuses to reveal true loss as it is “private”.
  • Wokingham – Visitors to village library increase by 14 percent in a year - Henley Standard.   “The increase, the latest in a succession of annual rises, comes as Wokingham Borough Council plans to privatise its library service.” … “It is thought that a company could provide legal, human resources and IT services 20 per cent cheaper than the borough can. The bids are now closed and although a definite decision has not been made, all the preparation has been done and privatisation looks like the way they are going.”

Wasting £14 Billion

Comment

Boyd Tonkin in the Independent has written a wonderfully pro-library article arguing that libraries perform such a community role throughout the country that if they did not already exist, somebody would have to invent them now to help deal with a society riven with division.  Boyd also argues that this  network is now being lost due to the Cuts. By a coincidence, Caitlin Moran in the Times says somthing similar…
“Unless the Government has developed an exit strategy for the cuts, and has insisted that councils not sell closed properties, by the time we get back to “normal” again, our Victorian and postwar and Sixties red-brick boxy libraries will be coffee shops, Lidls and pubs. No new libraries will be built to replace them. These libraries will be lost forever.”

Of course, there is no magic “exit strategy”. 20 to 50% cuts are simply not sustainable, no matter how many smaller libraries are forced into the hands of “volunteers” desperate to save a vital resource that the Council has decided is expendable and the Government has decided it need not defend. Boyd also goes on to say it would cost “uncountable billions to build”.  One wonders at this. It is probably countable if someone tries. Certainly the MLA could do so but it is not in the interests of its masters to encourage such thinking.  
In the spirit of Big Society thinking, though, let’s give it a go now using no resources, guesswork and unpaid time. If one assumes a conservative £3 million on average per library (even the smallest and hence most numerous libraries cost a million or two if new but a centrepiece library can cost a fortune. Birmingham Central alone will cost £200 million) and counts all 4600 libraries in the UK and them multiplies the two figures together it comes to £13,800,000,000.  Let’s round it up to a (literally) headline figure of £14 billion.  That’s fourteen billion pounds being given away, run down, prone to understaffing, underappreciated and certainly not publicised, sneered at and called redundant.  Some may call it ironic that this is fourteen billion pounds being wasted by a government and councils desperate to cut down on waste.  Those in the know, who love and treasure libraries and see the impact on people’s lives that a sufficiently resourced library can have, though, would not call it ironic.
We call it tragic.
415 libraries (333 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 the very least, all library closures must now cease. Especially in inner-urban areas, buildings recently shut should reopen. Professional staff must provide the backbone of their service, although volunteers can and should play their part. All those turf-war squabbles about priorities – new books vs new technology, pure reading vs community outreach – should end. And central and local government could stop passing the buck.”  (Boyd Tonkin)

  • Children’s laureate attacks Future Libraries report - BookSeller. Report a mere “cost-cutting exercise”.  “Above all, I resent the underlying assumption that libraries should be underfunded by local government and should have to seek alternative ways to survive in the 21st century.”.
  • Erna WintersThis Week in Libraries.  A franchise group for libraries, Library of 100 talents, change management, innovation and wedding dresses. These are some of the topics on episode 49 of This Week in Libraries: your weekly dose of library innovation.”
  • Libraries can fill void as book retailers close - Times Report (USA).   Local bookshop closes, public libraries keen to help and also to move into the E-book market.
  • Libraries should embrace digital revolution says report - Guardian.  Summary of recent LGA report.  “”The best libraries are at the heart of councils’ approaches to everything from lifelong learning to wellbeing, job seeking, volunteering, education and encouraging more people to get online.”
  • Library closures – a view from Caitlin MoranNosy Crow.  Article republished, originally in Times magazine as Why library closures are a catastophe (behind paywall).  Some amazingly good turns of phrase. “The shelves were supposed to be loaded with books – but they were, of course, really doors … Everything I am is based on this ugly building on its lonely lawn – lit up during winter darkness, open in the slashing rain – which allowed a girl so poor she didn’t even own a purse to come in twice a day an experience actual magic … A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival .. a library is where the wealthy’s taxes pay for you to become a little more extraordinary instead … Libraries that stayed open during the Blitz will be closed by budgets. A trillion small doors closing.”
  • Not one more library must close - Independent.  “At their best they embody an ideal of voluntary personal development and civic solidarity that few other sites could ever hope to match.”.  LGA have issued a “bland, dispiriting report”
  • Stop the privatisation of California’s public librariesCredo Action (USA).  

Changes

Local News

Campaigners from the Save Bolton Library Campaign reported no lack of interest in talking about libraries in the town centre last Saturday – in fact they were rushed off their feet. In just two hours 22 people offered to help with local campaigns, and no less than 110 people completed the four page official council consultation forms, with fifty more taking them away to complete. Campaign Chair Tom Hanley commented: “we were amazed at how many people were prepared to do fill these council forms in, despite their jargon and biased questions. It feels like being given the choice between being hung, shot or poisoned. People just want the council to find a way to keep these libraries open.” 240 people also signed the national ‘Love Your Libraries’ petition from the Womens Institute. Save Bolton Libraries Campaign press release.

  • Dorset – Battle continues for Chickerell Library - Dorset Echo.  Councillor says “Chickerell is to grow faster than many other Dorset communities and it will have many young children, deprived persons and elderly who would have great difficulty or significant costs in accessing the Weymouth Library.” If volunteers run it, library would only cost £8,000 per year.

  • Gloucestershire – Volunteers keen to help library carry on waitingThis is Glos.  “EAGER volunteers who came forward to run Prestbury’s library will have to wait until next month to find out if their services are needed.”.
    • In the interest of balance … the people and their libraries - FoGL.   Prestbury will not be closed and therefore is not subject to the injunction.  Many delighted library service is still there in places where branch or mobile would have otherwise closed except for the injunction.  Local press highly biased in favour of council.
  • Halton – Runcorn market to become library - Place North West.   “The £550,000 scheme will start on site in October, with completion scheduled for March 2012. The 6,400 sq ft building will 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 council services including payments, service requests and general enquiries.”
  • Lewisham – £24k price tag to reopen New Cross library - BookSeller.   Cost is in rent for building, to be called “New Cross People’s Library”.  “It is my opinion that we can provide something that is different [from the previous library], in some ways inferior (although in other ways much better). We would all prefer a proper library with properly trained and paid librarians, but the council took that away from us, leaving us to try and build back up to that position sometime in the future, and you have to start somewhere.”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries are owed thousands in fines - BBC.   £180,000 in last seven years. “The county council said it would cost it significantly more than it is owed to collect the outstanding amounts.”.  Council collects £120k per year.
  • Selkirkshire – Library switch confirmed amid fears over service quality - Southern Reporter.  “…had been assured there would be more, not less, space for library services in the municipal buildings and said councillors were due to be briefed next week on when the switch would occur.”  Customer contact centres losing usage so their staff would be kept busy in libraries.  ““If these plans are enacted, and I’ve no doubt they are a fait accompli, then patently the level of service offered to the people of Hawick and Galashiels, where facilities won’t be merged, will be of a higher quality than in Selkirk and the other targeted towns.”

“Discipline and Fear”

415 libraries (333 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

  • Book sniffer and Chris Mould take a trip to the LibraryBook Sniffer.  Library campaigning through the medium of dogs and dog-related books.  Seriously.
  • Digital libraries vision “bland and unchallenging”UKauthorITy.  …Liz McGettigan, libraries and information services manager at Edinburgh City council, said that while this vision “partly acknowledges the social and information role of libraries which is now as key as the book lending elements,” on the whole “it is a very bland document and not remotely innovative or challenging enough … There is no acknowledgement of a sense of place and local history, no attempt to portray a real vision of a library of the future.“.
  • Government blamed after “bored” teenager resorts to picking up a book - NewsThump. “I’ve said all along that unless the government spends millions on youth centres equipped with computer games and pool tables, then a whole generation could be lost to the libraries.”
  • L’Angleterre met la hache dans les bibliothèques ["England puts the axe into its libraries"] – Le Devoir.  Article (in French) says that major cuts that caused the riots also affect libraries and questions the potential success of the recent LGA report.  Cuts in libraries are not helping, especially as many are already operating with minimal resources.
  • Library lottery plan holds communities to ransom - UNISON.   “The plans will create a postcode lottery, with some communities doing without libraries altogether if groups fail to rise to the challenge. If contracts with charities also fail, private companies are ready to come in and clean up.”… “”More than 30,000 children are leaving primary school with a reading age of seven or below – libraries are key to improving literacy, especially in deprived areas.”
  • Public sector workers need “discipline and fear” says Oliver LetwinGuardian.  Government coalition chief thinks excellence will be achieved by scaring staff into it.  “Letwin was speaking at the launch of a liberal thinktank’s report at the London headquarters of KPMG, one of the biggest recipients of government cash, which won the first contract for NHS commissioning following the decision to scrap primary care trusts and further open the health service to private companies.”
  • Riots updated: Sennett, Rykwert, Till, De Botton, Tavernor and more on why Britain is burningArchitect’s Journal.  “Spaces for young people and public facilities in general (nurseries, libraries, green open spaces…) are definitely not a focus in the schemes we have been reviewing over the last few years.”
  • Successfully spreading the online campaigning messageVoices for the Library.   Group highlighted as leaders in online campaigning – “You can help us achieve this by continuing to highlight the dreadful cuts that are happening to public libraries in this country – share campaigning links via Facebook and Twitter; share images via Flickr, Photobucket and Youtube; or simply just talk to someone face-to-face about it. It all really does help to spread the word.”
  • Three Rs: Reading, wRiting and Rioting - Walk You Home.  “… I’m certainly not suggesting that if you chuck a few library buildings into places where people are looting and burning, that suddenly you’ve solved all of society’s problems, but I do think that libraries and librarians have a role to play as part of a much bigger picture.”.  Libraries improve literacy, literacy improves life chances…and several other pertinent points. 

Changes

Hampshire - Introducing children’s fines (5p per book per day up to 40p max). 
Powys – Below average assessment, inc. bookstock.
West Sussex – Angmering Library possibly to be run with volunteers and extra payments by parish council. 

Local news

  • Barnet – Council claimes library report “along same lines” as its policyTimes series.  Councillor says ““I am delighted that the MLA is running along the same lines and recognizes that the proposals we are making show how we can improve the service at a time of austerity.” [Barnet wishes to close 2 and sell off the buildings of a further 4, moving libraries into shared or cheaper buildings].
  • Birmingham – What a valuable community resourceVoices for the Library.  The situation in Sutton Coldfield and in other libraries in the authority.
  • Brent – Warned not to close libraries “by stealth”BookSeller.  “I am concerned that Labour [who dominate the council] may try to pre-empt the judge’s decision by reducing opening hours and failing to re-stock or fully staff the threatened libraries. This is not acceptable,” he warned. “It is still not too late for Labour councillors to abandon their half-baked plan to shut half of Brent’s libraries.” says Lib Dem group leader.
  • Calderdale – These are our assets, not the councillorsHalifax Courier.  “So the council has been urged to sell off more of its assets. I have news, our worthy councillors do not own these assets, they are managing them on behalf of the public of Calderdale. These assets:- museums, swimming pools, libraries, car parks, etc, should be made best use of for the benefit of the public.”
  • Conwy – Colwym Bay bookshop to open doors as a library - North Wales Weekly News.   Swanlake Bookshop in Hawarden to offer free loan of books in return for membership fee.  “She also criticised the government’s “negative approach in supporting local libraries. I also want to motivate young people to engage their mind in a meaningful activity as part of a preventative measure against harmful thoughts and activities, such as the current riots in the country.”
  • Croydon – Residents comment disregarded and many denied a say on librariesSanderstead Library Campaign Group.   Council refuses to give full results of consultation, disregarded question which allowed answer “do nothing”, cross-part commission on libraries refused, many residents still not aware of “market testing” (preliminary move to privatisation) of libraries, no update to campaigners or residents groups.
  • Hampshire – County Councils’ library service to find children over late booksThis is Hampshire.  “Book borrowers face a raft of new and increased charges from next month in an attempt to rake in an extra £30,000.”  Lib Dem opposition councillor says ““Charging late fees for children is a reading tax. This all covers up the more amazing fact that the county has lost 30,000 books in recent years. The council should concentrate on tracking down these rather than discouraging children reading.” 
  • Hertfordshire – Ex-library worker hits out at County Hall’s “appalling” job cuts strategy - Mercury.  Staff made redundant after months of uncertainty, left feeling like “hey were something undesirable on the bottom of someone’s shoe.” and sick that council chief calls refraining increasing her £203,000 salary this year “real leadership”.  Lower-ranking staff cut more deeply than senior.  
  • Powys – Library spending “not high enough” says report - County Times.  ““It is evident that the authority recognises its areas of weakness,” said the Welsh Public Library Standards assessment for 2010-11, “but financial constraints are increasingly becoming a factor in forward planning.”
  • Surrey – On borrowed time - Surrey Downs (page 41).  Reduction in libraries (some of them well-used) will have disproportionate effect on those without transport and will also affect childrens’ literacy.  Swish marketing campaign – similar to cinemas in the 1980s – could reverse decline.
  • Waltham Forest – Chingford: community library proposedGuardian series.   500 petition to save South Chingford.  Branch may move into nearby (also soon to be closed) Waltham Forest Direct shop, to be run by volunteers.  Council calls it “library of the future”, would need up to 200 (sic) volunteers to work.
  • West Sussex – Vote: Should Angmering save library from closure - Littlehampton Gazette.  Survey shows people willing to pay more in parish council tax in order to pay for library. “Discussions are likely to involve the parish ploughing money into keeping the library open, and even the possibility of the building, which also houses a children and family centre, being sold to the parish council, which would move its offices there and develop a village “hub”.”

Volunteers running libraries is a barbaric notion, says Edinburgh library chief

415 libraries (333 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

  • CILIP: libraries report “does not meet needs”BookSeller.  CILIP chief executive Annie Mauger said the report was not a “robust” enough piece of work from which to draw proper conclusions for the service. She said: “A Tory government made libraries statutory, now here we are with a Tory government supporting a programme that is not giving anything that will meet people’s needs. I feel quite strongly that it is such a limited document in scope and doesn’t change the underlying issue that libraries are being hit more than any other service.”  
“The notion that they can be run by volunteers in an Oxfam style is barbaric. Libraries don’t just lend books! Libraries are conduits and developers of information and bring information and communication skills to practitioners and residents at local and authority level. Libraries are learning centres and offer free access to many services as well as IT. Library buildings are a focus of action and interaction. They are gathering places that reflect a sense of belonging or even ownership among users. They offer welcoming, neutral spaces that provide opportunities for personal, cultural and community development. This helps us to see that the unique offer of libraries is not a single attribute, but the combination of many and this constitutes a powerful engine for community cohesion.” Edinburgh’s street corner universities: libraries don’t just lend books - Public Service. Chief librarian of Edinburgh Libraries speaks out.

 
“People have made an extremely strong link between librarians, libraries and books. This is only natural, but it really sells short the full value of libraries and the full scope of librarian work. Libraries offer so much more than moldy old books. There’s also music, movies, tv shows, video games, and electronic databases that span a whole galaxy of scholarly and practical information unavailable to any level of googling. Additionally, libraries offer free internet access that is utterly vital in many poor and rural communities. As government services migrate online, good citizenship almost requires an internet connection. Libraries also provide a free space for local groups and communities and have been at the forefront of job search training and computer instruction. Coordinating all of this are the humble librarians. We are not mere cart pushers, let me assure you. This job requires a Masters degree for a reason.” What people don’t get about working in a library. See comments too.

Changes

Local News

  • Brent – Libraries ruling put back to October - BookSeller.  Judge had originally said ruling to be announced in August.   
    • Ruling postponed till October - Preston Library Campaign.  £20,000 out of £30,000 needed to pay for legal challenge has now been raised.   
    • High Court ruling on Brent libraries delayed until OctoberLondon24.  “Most campaigners would say this has been a valuable lesson in local democracy, or the lack of it. It is astonishing that a Labour council, which represents a party that historically has always supported the provision of free local libraries, should so blatantly disregard the wishes of communities, communities who for the most have put that council in power.”
“This is an important test case and it is clear that the Court is giving it a commensurate degree of thought and attention. Brent has, so far, refrained from taking any significant steps to implement the closure decision under challenge and we understand it will continue to hold back from doing so over the Summer period out of respect for the Court process. Were existing services undermined or imperilled while the case is ongoing, we would, of course, need to take action to protect them such as seeking an injunction. We trust that will not be necessary.” John Halford from the Brent Campaign (Press release).

“I am full of admiration for the excellent work undertaken by the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries. I think it is very short sighted to close libraries, especially because that is where a lot of children gain and develop a love of books and reading and can extend their repertoire. Sometimes governments and local authorities forget that children are the adults of the future. I am in total support of the court case against Gloucestershire County Council. If left to proceed unchallenged, the Council would clearly be failing in its duties to provide an efficient and comprehensive library service.” Gloucestershire – Julia Donaldson, Children’s Laureate and author of The Gruffalo, meets with Friends of Gloucestershire LibrariesFoGL.  

  • Isle of Man – What a novel idea: library goes digital with ebook loans – Isle of Man Today.  Borough Council has paid for 600 downloadable titles at Henry Bloom Library.  “The service is free for residents of Douglas, Braddan, Santon and Lonan, and available to all other island residents for an annual fee.”
  • North Yorkshire – Credit union collection points set up at libraries - Craven Herald & Pioneer.  Skipton and Cross HillsLibraries have points.  ““It is brilliant news that the credit union’s services will be available at the library. This is yet another valuable service being offered to residents and reinforces the important services and facilities the library offers the community.” 
  • Somerset – Tories claim they’ll bounce back after by-election defeat – This is the Westcountry.  Conservatives lose seat with c.30% less votes than previously.  Lib Dems win.  Lib Dem MP says ““I believe this result is a wake-up call to the Conservatives on the county council, who have been implementing some very damaging policies such as closing waste centres and libraries, and axing rural bus routes.”
  • Suffolk – Three communities unite to save their libraries - EADT.   Eye, Stradbroke and Debenham campaigners will form working group to work out how to keep libraries running. ““We had been working together in a shared campaign and we said we could cooperate to share staff and maybe a management structure.”
  • Waltham Forest – Film and stage star backs campaign against library closure - This is Local London.   Sir Derek Jacobi supports Harrow Green Library.  “It is with great pleasure that I lend you my whole-hearted support in your campaign to keep Harrow Green Library open. I owe a [great] deal to the Leytonstone library in my early years without which grounding I doubt I would have enjoyed the career that later occurred. Fight the council to the bitter end.”.  Day of action planned for Saturday 13th. 
  • Wigan – Mobile service scrappedWigan Today.  “Under the proposal there will be three kinds of service – Libraries Central for main town centre; Libraries Local in smaller town centres and a slimmed-down version, Libraries Express.”

Managing decline?

419 libraries (339 buildings and 80 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

“Why did they illustrate this turgid and depessing document with pictures of libraries? I guess taking photos of a few books in the corner of a health centre might actually give the game away!” (Comment on Voices for the Library Facebook group on MLA report).

  • Campaigners critical over Government library blueprintBookSeller.  “…librarian group Voices for the Library have strongly criticised the report’s recommendations, saying they will do “serious damage to our public library network, and be counterproductive to efforts to modernise libraries and meet the needs of the UK public”. Libraries campaigner Desmond Clarke said it was “absolutely disgraceful” the report was “coming up with excuses to replace paid librarians with volunteers”, and that overall the report was “remarkably unimaginative.”
  • Life in Books: Janice GallowayGuardian. “she records libraries as the sole bright spot of her university career: “I hid in the library more often than not, reading the starts of books to find which ones spoke back, developing a trust in the friendship of the well-ordered word I’ve never lost.”

  • Opinion: Public interest needs protection in deals to privatise libraries - Mercury News (USA).  Privatising Santa Clarita libraries has cost taxpayer $12 million so far.  Other examples include lower opening hours, less qualified staff.  “Elsewhere in the nation, the Linden, N.J., library terminated its contract with LSSI after determining the town could offer the same level of services for $300,000 less. Fargo, N.D., also terminated LSSI’s contract after the company repeatedly requested budget increases and failed to pay bills on time.” .
  • Potent mix of cuts, unemployment could fuel more UK riotsReuters.  “Britain has embarked on an unprecedented level of spending cuts in an effort to drive down its budget deficit, with local councils slashing a host of services from elderly care to libraries.”
  • Tintin and the value of libraries - JS Online (USA).  “Libraries, like every other entity in the media and publishing worlds, are moving resources to the digital realm, and that’s how it must be. But never underestimate the value of a child being able to sit in a room and browse freely through as many books as she wants and take a few home to read anywhere. That will always be valuable, and I hope that libraries will always be able to provide that.”
 Shirley Burnham on chief librarians
…chief librarians are, indeed, advising councils that small community libraries should be closed, divested or otherwise wrecked. This is NOT a new thing, by the way. And they are still doing it ! Now, that’s not the whole profession, but it’s those at the top of it. Do hard-working library assistants and librarians agree with it ? No, they most likely don’t, but are gagged. I wish that even one individual in the SCL (The Society of Chief Librarians) who disapproves would speak up, that CILIP (The librarians’ professional body) would publicly condemn it,” a comment on The Good Library Blog.

Notably, ours in Swindon in 2009 published a report recommending closure of 9 small libraries.   Dorset campaigners are now facing the exact same thing, as are many others.  I was on a ‘panel’ at an SCL conference once  –  never seen such a bunch of po-faced people.  As friendly as vinegar !  They loved Vaizey, though with his Future Libraries [expletive deleted]. That lot, speak out ?  Before hell freezes over ?  I think not.   But at least one of them ought to  –  and without delay.” in personal email, published with permission.

 
  • Women’s Institute “disappointed” by library reportBookSeller.  ““The minister discusses balancing the changing needs of communities with budget pressures, yet beneath the promising rhetoric on innovation and creativity, this report paints a picture of a service under threat. Replacing trained staff with volunteers is a false economy,” Bond warned. “Volunteers have an important role to play but they are not a replacement for a professional service and we would welcome more detail on the evidence to support the claim that ‘local people want to play a more active role in running libraries’,” she said.


Local News

  • Bolton – Argument to close libraries is flawed say campaignersBolton News.  ““Several of the objective criteria which the council said last February it would be using to make the decision, such as GCSE qualifications of local residents, were left out of the table altogether. Others, including the number of libraries within a 20 minute journey time, were given double weighting without any reasoned justification. “It leaves the council open to the accusation that the figures were rigged to obtain a preordained result.”
  • Oxfordshire – 1000 people respond to library cuts in two monthsHenley Standard.  Campaigners push for public to respond to consultation, using chance to put comments in (not just ticking boxes). ““Sonning Common library has not been saved. Although the council has promised to keep the library open, it is proposing to cut our professional staff hours from 25 a week to eight and substitute professional staff with volunteers.” Councillor says “we have got the core service saved and that is the main thing”.
  • Tameside – Carrbrook library founder says it is “community heart”BBC.   3500 books offered in cabin after council withdrew service in 2007.  Volunteers run it, books are donated.
  • Wakefield – Hope for library as fight continuesWakefield Express.  ““We’re now looking at sustaining a library service in the area rather than saving it. We talked about getting new organisations interested in using it as a base, like charities who might want to base outreach workers there for example. It has to have more than one use if it is to survive and if we can get some money behind us from some bigger organisations, we might even be able to build a much-needed new library eventually.”

Future Libraries: Volunteers working in a shop corner

Comment 

A very important document, the “Future libraries report: Change, options, and how to get thereby the Local Government Group/MLA was published on Friday.  It gets off to a good start with a statement that “The best libraries are at the heart of the council’s approach to everything from lifelong learning to wellbeing, job seeking, volunteering, education and encouraging more people to get online.”, although it is a tad bit of shame that the word “book” is not used at any point on the first page (indeed not until page 22).

Things then get seriously more worrying when one reads (and/or translates) the recommendations, changed into easier to understand wording below:

  • Close down libraries and move them in with otherr services such as jobcentres or move those services into libraries (“co-locating libraries”) and/or closing them and putting some books into shops, health/leisure centres, police stations (“non-traditional outlets”).
  • Using non-council staff to run libraries (“Trusts, and charitable companies, other councils or through the private sector”)
  • Sharing services with other councils
  • Replacing paid staff with volunteers (“Empowering local communities”)
It would serve no purpose to summarise the rest of the report (some of it is fairly tedious) so I will merely list the bits that are of interest to a non-senior library specialist.  
The report’s most interesting, for me, section is about merging library services with savings of up to 25% mentioned, although an example of an authority which has achieved this is not given (Slough has apparently, though saved 15% in its merger with Essex).  Other authorities that are merging services are described (a complete list is here).
Given the high level of interest in the subject, the report has remarkably little to say on private companies taking over libraries.  It says “A private sector provider now operates in Hounslow and other new providers are entering the market opening choices and comparators for financial and service performance.”.  That’s it.  The report does not mention the 8 libraries that were initially selected for closure this year in Hounslow or the £300,000 cut from its bookfund.

On the subject of volunteers, the report lurches into uncertain factual grounds, saying that in “some areas local people want to play a more active role in running libraries, and councils are working through the implications of this for their statutory duty under the Public Libraries & Museum Act 1964 to provide a comprehensive and efficient service..  This is highly questionable as it should be noted that there is not a single case of this happening without the Council having made clear that the library would close otherwise. 

Strong political leadership is seen as essential, due to the “high level of public interest” in any changes to libraries.  The phrase could of course be put more accurately as “high level of public opposition”. Other important things to bear are in mind is the  importance of clearly stating what is required and what will be given/expected to people taken over the service. This is seemingly quite basic advice and it’s scary councils are apparently needing guidance on this, although a report from North Yorkshire today confirms that they do.  Interestingly (given the many current legal challenges) the need for strong legal advice is stated. There are whole sections (such as “positioning libraries”, “internal capacity to support change” and “Analysis of need”) which can be summarised as Make Sure You Know What You’re Actually Doing and That You Can Actually Do It.  Again, this is worrying that councils need to be told this.
Given the poor general council record on consultation the section on “user and community engagement” rings a lot of bells.  The line in the report (p.27) that “the earlier the engagement and the better the communication, the better the outcomes overall” should perhaps be in large bold font.  Worryingly for library staff everywhere, the otherwise almost pathologically (my money is on the author having been on a “think positive” training course) upbeat report admits that it is “hard times” for paid staff.  With reports like this being published and lauded by government, it is indeed.

Other items in the media  on the Report…

 “One of the worrying statements in the report is this: Change will only happen if political leadership and professional expertise are harnessed in the same direction. Hence this publication is aimed at those leaders who will drive the change. ” It is being directed at the very people who have presided over the engineered decline of public libraries over the last couple of decades and who now embrace the mass closures stimulated by government policy. It is vital that ordinary people make sure that debate and discussion includes library supporters instead of technocrats, policians and bean-counters” [Comment on Voices for the Library facebook page]

  • How can libraries survive? – BBC. 90 seconds from the BBC TV news on the report and its implications.
  • Librarians will rely on volunteers to surviveGuardian.   “More and more books will be distributed from shops, churches and village halls, predict local government and library bodies”.  “Culture minister Ed Vaizey said the report shone a spotlight on innovation and creative partnerships. “It will be a hugely useful resource, inspiring local authorities to emulate the best ideas to provide a first rate library service.”
  • Now books can be borrowed at stores - Express.  “Supermarkets are being invited to offer any spare room to public libraries in an attempt to save money and attract more borrowers.”
  • Plan to create libraries of the futureBBC. Summarises the report and comment son the BBC Radio 4 Today programme from the LGA that “The death of the book isn’t going to happen,” he said. “But equally if you go into a library now you find rows and rows of young people or older people using the internet and studying and that isn’t something I think we would’ve envisaged 30 years ago and certainly not 60 years ago.”.  Libraries, he continues, should take their “fair share” of cuts.  The BBC editor has picked largley positive comments about co-locating libraries (such as in doctor’s surgery) for the highlights in the comment section.
  • Shirley BurnhamRadio Five Live (1:50:19) – Library campaigner Shirley Burnham puts up spirited defence for librarians and library buildings.  One library in Swindon was turned over to volunteers but will be returned back to being run by paid staff as it had problems recruiting volunteers.  “Excellent professional staff, with knowledge and experience” highlighted “.. not trying to sell you frozen peas, God or a recycled computer, it was a community public space, completely neutral “.
    “Can I share one little thing? If you stick a skipping rope in a corner, you don’t call it a leisure centre.  If you stick a cracked ming vase on the mantelpiece, you don’t call it a museum. Right? If you stick a bunch of books in the corner of a shop, a church or a phonebox, that is not a library… just compare what is being foisted on you with what you have.” Shirley Burnham

“Unfortunately, at a time when real leadership and vision is required to outline a truly 21st century library service, the government is found lacking in imagination, short-sighted in its approach and blinkered by ideology.  These proposals do not outline a positive future for libraries and will only further their decline.  We strongly urge the government to tear up these proposals and truly listen to the needs and demands of local communities across the country.  Furthermore, we recommend that library users express their concerns regarding these proposals by emailing the Arts Council, the department that now has responsibility for libraries, at museums.libraries@artscouncil.org.uk.” Voices for the Library

  • Statement on the future libraries report - Voices for the Library. “Voices for the Library believes that the set of proposals outlined will lead to serious damage to our public library network, and be counterproductive to efforts to modernise libraries and meet the needs of the UK public.” Volunteers should not be used to replace paid staff, libraries should be in library buildings. Privatising the process will mean short-term cuts in order to make profit and loss of paid staff. Putting libraries in shops will end their neutrality.

News

  • For the record - Guardian.  “Core local authority funding across England is to be cut by 27% over four years, forcing many councils to cut all non-statutory provision such as libraries and youth services, which provide crucial services for working mothers.” [libraries are of course statutory]

  • No more xenophobiaGood Library Blog.  Controversial as ever, Tim Coates comes out firmly in favour of privatisation, arguing that comments against it are xenophobic due to LSSI being an American company.  “When they are given the chance LSSI tries to cut needless overhead and direct the resources granted to the library service in the direction of providing a better managed and better quality service. Because they are a private commercial company, with owners and investors in place of government grants, they need to operate at a profit; otherwise they would close.”.  [NB. Tim has pointed out that the piece is intended to point out xenophobia rather than as a pro-privatisation piece.  This correction added 8th August 2012].
  • Public libraries and me - Thebradfordlibrarian. Librarian describes what she gets out (often literally) of the library.   
  • Save our libraries: Reserve this book today - Playing by the book.  “Last week we were on holiday in a county where 9 libraries have had their funding withdrawn. If volunteers can’t be found (putting aside the whole issue of whether volunteers running libraries is a good thing) the libraries, more than a quarter of all the libraries in the county in question, will shut their doors for a final time within a year. The message this sends out to me is “We, the powers that be, don’t care about imagination, exploration, understanding. We don’t care about community.”.  Otto the Book Bear is a book about the “magic of libraries”.  
  • Won’t someone think of the librarians?Dale & Co.   “Alix Mortimer mounts a passionate defence of librarians and the work they do to help people in their communities.” – ” But what shops and churches are presumably not going to start providing is librarians. And librarians are what make libraries worth defending, because their expertise in sifting information is put at the disposal of anyone who comes in off the street with a problem. Anyone.”…..”Until the advent of AI, the library worker remains the most sophisticated search engine on earth. Providing that capacity, for free, to allcomers, is one of the best and most characteristically liberal uses of state funding I can think of.” 

Changes

Local News

 
  • Gloucestershire – First birthday: the story so far - FoGL.   Summary of the last year of library cuts and campaigning in the county including formation, a 15 000 name signature petition, council intransigence, formal complaints, legal action and the first ever legal injunction against library closures.  “This has never been about party politics (FoGL supporters are drawn from a range of political affiliations, and walks of life), yet we have been at best ignored by the GCC administration, and at worst insulted and dismissed as ‘professional troublemakers’, ‘militants’ and ‘the usual suspects’ (whatever that means)”.
  • North Yorkshire – Supporters need business expertise - Craven Herald & Pioneer.   Gargrave Library campaigners unimpressed by council dashing their hopes over council support.  Library group needs professional expertise in order to produce three year business plan but this has been so far been unforthcoming.

Sign the petition

Comment

The petition says…

“I, the undersigned, believe that libraries are an essential local educational and information resource yet with many libraries under threat, the future of the library service is at risk. I want to see the value of libraries recognised at both local and national levels and I am calling on the Government to honour both its commitment to act as a champion of the library service, and its duty of oversight to ensure that a comprehensive and efficient library service is provided.”  Petition in support of public libraries,

It’s supported by the Women’s Institute and Voices for the Library and, I suspect, scores of campaign groups up and down the country.  Sign it by clicking on this link.  Thank you

419 libraries (339 buildings and 80 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

  • Are public libraries obsolete?Blogcritics.org by Nukapai.   “A good library is worth saving and a bad one is worth improving because when libraries work, they offer us much more than books on paper. You can also download free ebooks and audibooks from the convenience of your own home and pop them on that digital device. Good libraries have good librarians and good library assistants. Good libraries offer help for job seekers, group sessions for new parents and their children, access to valuable market research data for would-be entrepreneurs and all manner of things that don’t always seem at the forefront of discussions on the value of the library.”
“One of the most effective tactics in disarming any campaign on the ground is simply to wait it out. Politicians—national and local—are clearly hoping that campaigners (who have jobs, families, responsibilities, nine-to-fives) will run out of money and steam. It’s a waiting game. It’s why campaigns such as the Summer Reading Challenge, organised by The Reading Agency, are so crucial. They keep the spotlight shining on libraries. This is the time—as problems in all areas of funding and social prioritising become more acute and more fiercely argued—that politicians hope the library campaign will be forgotten. We owe it to the campaigners, and to ourselves, to keep the issue alive.” Kate Mosse – Keep libraries in the spotlightBookSeller. 

  • Libraries must be the future: for the good of democracy - Thoughts of a Wannabe Librarian.  The assumption made by many when discussing library closures is that the internet will remain static, forever acting as a source of free and open information.  But, of course, the internet is not static and is subject to change.  And who is the biggest driver of this change?  Corporations.” 
  • Love libraries day - Time to read.   “Time To Read would love to try and help co-ordinate some innovative activity across North West Libraries and would like to hear from anyone with interesting ideas to offer. Time To Read has some funds to support activity but is short of time, so ideas must be easy to understand & organise, with plenty of publicity potential as well as impact.”
  • Schools’ library snubs hit literacy ratesBookSeller.   “”Libraries are essential to provide free and open access to a wide variety of learning materials. Economic constraints are forcing some of these to close and for schools to limit their library facilities, and this can only be a barrier to successful literacy for learners of all ages.”
  • Voices for the Library now available on FourSquare - Thoughts of a Wannabe Librarian.  Another Web 2.0 product is used in the campaign to save threatened libraries and to publicise the positive features of those who are not.
  • Why we should ban e-petitionsNew Statesman.   “So there you have it. Britain speaks. And it when it does, it tells us to tear up the Human Rights Act, re-open all our libraries and get Kate and Wills to start polishing their CVs.”.  Article is against e-petitions as they will be puppets of “The lobbyists, the activists, the business interests; those who have the time, money and resources to manipulate them in their favour.”.  [Library campaigners apparently have time, money and resources according to this article, which comes as, frankly, a bit of a shock].  Article concludes MPs should “explain face-to-face how they have absolutely no intention of withdrawing from the Human Rights Act, re-opening our libraries or abolishing the monarchy.”.
  • Women’s Institute launches library petitionBookSeller.   “Prime minister David Cameron has pledged to hold a debate on any petition with more than 100,000 signatures. Launching its Love Your Libraries campaign in June, the Women’s Institute said: “[We] believe it is time for communities to love their libraries; to use them and share why we value their services, and to raise awareness of the threats to their future.”

Changes

Local News

  • Birmingham – Cabinet and scrutiny committees fall out over budget deficit - Birmingham Post.  “Two months into the financial year the committees, which run local libraries, sports centres and parking, are overspending by £2.1 million and have launched a fast-track review of future service delivery.”
  • Bournemouth – Sophie rises to Bournemouth libraries ‘ 100 book challengeDaily Echo.  “The youngster reads on average 10 books a week, but there just wasn’t enough space to record them all on her library reading log.” 
  • Bradford – Growing opposition to Burley library planWharfedale Observer.   “A consultation meeting has been called over unconventional plans to transform a village library into a mini supermarket, as opposition from local traders grows.”  Co-op wants to take over library, providing new one of first floor.  Supporters think it will save library, opposition think it will close local shops.
  • Brent – On Philip Pullman, the author “who hasn’t forgotten why people need stories” - Save Kensal Rise Library.   Summary of recent excellent fundraising event with well-known library campaigner and author.
    • Private Eye eyes Brent - Preston Library Campaign.   Cricklewood and Kensal Rise libraries are earmarked for closure but council has been repeatedly told that they cannot be used for any other purpose due to Literary and Scientific Institutions Act 1854.  All Souls College Oxford would regain ownership if they were closed.  Criteria for volunteers to run libraries were kept secret from the volunteers,
  • Cambridgeshire – Emerging library vision revealed as part of review - Fenland Citizen.  ““We have already seen Post Office, doctors and other councils share our library facilities and believe this is a model that could be rolled out across Cambridgeshire. But to do this we will be talking to communities to see what they want and how this can be delivered.” Council is looking at a very wide variety of options.
    • Library service plans dynamic ways” to save moneyBBC.  “In order to make savings, a number of libraries are being given the option to run their own facilities on a voluntary basis.  The council is also considering combining libraries with post offices in rural areas, opening the buildings up for school and community use, and basing police surgeries in libraries.”
  • Conwy – Town council backs fight to save Penrhyn Bay libraryNorth Wales Weekly News.  Unanimous vote from Llandudno Council to write to Conwy against the closure. Consultation goes on until next week.
  • Croydon – Library users denied say on futureSanderstead Library Campaign Group.  “The decision to market test involves all 13 libraries and not just the six that were the subject of the original consultation. Residents are yet to see one official notification of this decision so many are still unaware. Not even a simple A4 notice has been spotted in any Croydon library.”
  • Devon – Sidmouth librarian’s tea party send off – Sidmouth Herald. “It is good libraries are not going to close, but savings had to be made. I looked at the options and decided to opt for voluntary redundancy.“I don’t think the public realised quite the extent of the cuts and they haven’t ended yet”.
  • Dorset – Councillor defends library closures - View Online.   Councillor says ““At the end of the day I voted for Option B because I felt it was designed to build up our library service, to improve it, to increase its use and to give it a bigger role.”…but campaigner responds…”“The fact that there might be more cuts one day is no reason, in our view, for depriving these small and often isolated rural communities of their libraries. Their loss will cause much hardship among the young and the old and the disabled. Why inflict such pain when the feared cuts might never come?”
  • Harrow – Self service machines are a hit at Harrow libraries -  Harrow Observer.  “All of Harrow’s libraries will be fitted with the equipment by September and are part of the borough’s battle to keep its much loved libraries open.”
  • Leicestershire – Loughborough library has opening hours reducedLoughborough Echo.  All libraries have had hours reduced.  Council looks to volunteers to help staff service.
  • Newham – Campaign to save foreign papersYellow Advertiser. Newham Monitoring Project campaigning against decision to remove foreign-language periodicals, suggested by mayor to encourage learning of English. Meeting on Tuesday August 16th.

  • North Yorkshire – Sad farewell to book bus - Wetherby News.   10 out of 11 mobiles have now stopped.  “The children at the playgroup, aged between two and five, will now use their own books at the playgroup, as the Tadcaster Library is too far for them to walk.” 
    • Barlby library closure consultationSelby Times.  “Barlby and Osgodby parish councillors will be asking for the views of local residents as they try to formulate a plan for the library’s future. Barlby Library is set to close if the community does not get involved in running it. Tory-led North Yorkshire County Council has faced a county-wide public outcry over its controversial plans to save £2m from the libraries budget and £69m in all.”.  Keeping library open would cost £13 p.a. per household.
  • Suffolk – Community-run libraries set for April 2012 - BookSeller. 14 Libraries previously reprieved by public protest will be run by volunteers/charities/town councils as part of a pilot to see if possible.  30% cut in budget over 3 years hoped for.
    • Fourteen libraries chosen for Suffolk County Council’s pilot community projectEADT.  “Suffolk County Council will work with the organisations – including town and parish councils, community groups, a staff collective and an independent community company – to deliver seven pilot projects.” 14 libraries to be grouped into 7 pilots. 
    • Eye, Stradbroke and Debenham libraries team up - Diss Express.   “When the projects go live in April 2012, library users will see more outreach services, local decision-making, fundraising and activities, and more public services brought together under one roof. The projects will be used to assess the effectiveness of the council’s new approach to library services.”
  • Wiltshire – Your help has saved libraries - Wiltshire Times.   “Thanks to the efforts of more than 300 people all the county’s 31 libraries will remain open, at a time when government cuts have resulted in closures nationally. All five of Wiltshire Council’s mobile library routes will also continue, serving the county’s most rural communities.”

Is “Lazy Vaizey” to blame for being Evaisive?

Comment

Ed Vaizey has not been getting the most flattering of nicknames in the last year.  First there was “Evaisive” and now there is “Lazy Vaizey”.  Why he gets such nicknames is not hard to explain.  The complete lack of action by the DCMS even when both campaigners and the Council in Doncaster ask for them to visit is the lastest in a series, if inaction can ever be said to have a series, in the last year.  From a library perspective, the deparment is increasingly like a black hole – one can only infer its existence from the complete lack of anything coming from it.  However (prepare for a shocking statement everyone), blame for this may be unfairly being placed on Mr Vaizey who is, for all of his manifest passivity, merely a deputy.  He does at least use libraries and is a passionate advocate of them (or at least he was while in opposition). His boss is Jeremy Hunt who has not used a public library in at least a decade and it is with him that the blame for the lack of leadership must rest. 
 
405 libraries (325 buildings and 80 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
  • King Abdullah approves plan to upgrade public librariesFinanznachrichten.de.  Saudi Arabia plans “updating and digitalizing more than 80 public libraries throughout the Kingdom over five years.”.  “”This project exemplifies Saudi Arabia”s commitment to its people to expand and improve educational opportunities,” said Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir. “This will increase access to educational resources across the Kingdom.” 
  • Libraries must be the future – for the good of democracyThoughts of a Wannabe Librarian.   “Libraries do not discriminate when providing access to information.  You do not have to be rich to take advantage of the wealth of information that the library provides.  Likewise, you do not have to be wealthy to consult a librarian and ensure you gain access to the very best information available.  This is the danger in believing the internet will remain static and unchanging forever.  The internet is a mechanism for corporations to make money, whereas for libraries it is a tool to enhance the social, political and cultural life of society.”

Changes

Local News

  • Bolton – Time to have your say on library closures - Bolton News.   “As well as an online survey, and to ensure the council gets a statistically sound picture of the whole borough, surveys are also being sent to 7,000 random households.”
    • A bungled decision - Alan Gibbons.  Campaigners point out major problems with consultation including some factors double-weighted without explanation, many rankings wrong, lack of equalities impact data. 
    • Save Bolton Libraries – Facebook group. “the campaign committee believes the five closures proposed – Astley Bridge, Castle Hill, Halliwell (Oxford Grove) Heaton & Highfield (the Orchards) – are neither necessary nor inevitable. Other Councils have either dropped their library closure plans (Suffolk) or are having to reconsider in the light of judicial review (Brent, Gloucestershire) we urge you to reject all three options – we feel the wording is biased and does not give a true picture of the situation. We ask you to use the space available in the open questions (Q3,6,8) on the forms to set out your concerns about specific branches closing, and to make the case for keeping all the five branches open.”
  • Croydon – Misinformaiton CroydonThat Woman’s Blog.  Piece points out all Croydon libraries, not “just” those under threat of closure, may be privatised.
  • Doncaster — Pull your socks up DCMSSave Doncaster Libraries.  DCMS refuses to visit Doncaster despite invitation by both council and campaigners and plans to close half of branches in 2012.  “We want to know why the DCMS, when asked by a council for support, have refused to meet with them. We already know that the DCMS do not wish to listen to the hundreds of thousands of people around the country who are fighting to save their libraries, but to ignore the pleas of a council too? Surely this is a failure of their statutory duty…”.  New nickname for Ed “Evaisive” Vaizey = “Lazy Vaizey”. 
  • Isle of Wight – Council welcomes High Court library decision Isle of Wight Chronicle.  ““This decision means that we can focus all our efforts on helping support those community groups who are working so hard to establish community libraries. We have recently extended the time available to these groups to finalise their proposals as a sign of our commitment to maintaining an excellent library provision on the Island.”. Paper notes that legal cost to council was £12,000 [ information from campaigners suggest that this was because they had paid for the most expensive legal defenders available].
  • Oxfordshire – Library campaigner warns of staff imbalanceOxford Mail.   Campaigner notes 29.5% of staff spending is on back-room staff (inc.  managers and specialists) but consultation does not allow for suggestion that they are cut.  Council responds by saying this suggestion can be added in to the consultation and that there will be a 16% cut in their costs.
  • Stirling – Library Service Success - Stirling Council.  Library service evaluates itself, with CILIPS (library professional association in Scotland) support and gives itself 6 out of 6, notably due to reader development.  ““A range of quality indicators are measured in the evaluation, and Stirling’s Libraries returned a maximum score in identifying and meeting interest in reading, offering a range of reading events and meeting the needs of all readers. Stirling Council’s libraries are the first in Scotland to record a maximum score, and all involved should be rightly proud of this outstanding level of performance.”
  • Wirral – Library service is lifelineWirral Globe.   94 year old housebound reader praises Wirral’s books on wheels service “A dedicated staff try to identify with any specific request, be it in fiction, DVDs and the more serious interests. Their monthly visits are a lifeline to so many of us and their help and pleasant personalities are a credit to the library service. Long may it continue.”

405 libraries


405 libraries (325 buildings and 80 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

Kids rally for the Troy LibraryDaily Tribune (USA).  “Troy children expressed their views in a rally to help keep the library open Monday morning on the grounds of Troy’s Civic Campus. The rally brought together Troy children who want their beloved institution to remain open. Twelve-year-old Rafael Yashinsky, an avid reader, envisioned the movement to save the library for Troy children.”
Mobile libraries: past successes, future directions?Voices for the Library. There has always been a tendency, in Britain at least, to view mobile libraries as slightly eccentric, a bit of an anachronism, certainly expendable once the financial chips are down. But, give them the opportunity to show what they can do, how much they can achieve, and a very different picture emerges.”
Changes
Local News
“The most notable debate in the chamber has been on the library services. Petitions had been delivered by local mums who spoke passionately on the need to keep smaller branches going while Ealing’s consultation was under way, and named half a dozen that were threatened with closure. Houses in the streets near me started displaying ’Save Northfields Librar’y, A4 window posters referring to our local branch at risk. Through Facebook and my local (Tory) councillor’s blog I saw the campaign gather momentum with plans to chant from the public gallery and unfurl banners on the day. It was a tough one for the Labour administration facing taunts from the Tories of asset-stripping even though the only reason any such thing was floated was due to their party’s dogmatic decisions at the top.” Ealing – Meanwhile from the town hall - Progress Online.