A terribly important digital bridge


 Libraries: a digital Bridge – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (USA). “One in three people in the U.S. do not have home access to the internet. See how libraries are transforming lives, by changing the way we connect.”
  • Libraries “terribly important” – Record (Canada).  Jane Urquhart: At this very moment, archivists are marching to Parliament Hill in hopes of defending and preserving our history and heritage on one hand and a democratic citizen’s right to access information on the other,” she said. Though federal libraries and archives, as well as the National Archival Development Program, were shut down as part of the government’s budget cuts, Urquhart says this is precisely the time when we really need them. “We need the research, we need the development, we need the universities… they’re terribly important,” she said. “I just never would have happened without them.””
  • Should public libraries act as “transparency institutions”? – Infoism.   “…whilst libraries and librarians play an important role in providing access to that which is in the public domain, they do not play a significant role in facilitating access to unpublished information.”  There is a place for librarians in aiding with freedom of information.
  • This is not the end of the book  – Observer.   Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carriere: book review.  “”The end of the book” is, as Eco and Carrière demonstrate, a misguided phrase. First, because printed books continue to be the most efficient and enduring methods of delivering texts: computer formats rapidly become redundant, and contemporary ebooks are not a good bet to outlast their printed counterparts. Second, because there is absolutely no evidence that longform texts themselves, as transmitters of knowledge and entertainment, are in any danger of diminishing in value. Certainly, they receive an excellent advertisement in Eco and Carrière’s playful and learned conversations.”

Local news

  • Brent – Campaigners meet new council leader – Alan Gibbons.   Summary of meeting with Cllr Butt.  Although there were encouraging signs recently, it looks like there are many obstacles to overcome before Kensal Rise Library is rescued.  Questions over reverter clause to All Souls College and Brent’s decision to (a) take away all of the books and (b) council’s apparent worries that a volunteer-run Kensal Rise would affect surviving council-run libraries. 
  • Croydon – Did Croydon break the law over library? – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. “Croydon’s Labour Leader Tony Newman is quoted, We have advice that Croydon cannot unilaterally abandon the joint agreement and we have been told by Lambeth Council that this council has acted illegally.” … “Cllr Timothy Godfrey, Labour’s shadow cabinet member responsible holds a letter from the DCMS which he claims indicates that the unique 112 year old Upper Norwood Joint Library agreement between Lambeth and Croydon can only be broken if both councils are in agreement.”
    • Purley festival promoting Croydon libraries – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.   “Seems this is, yet again, a case of Croydon residents taking the matter of promoting Croydon libraries into their own hands. Whilst we await details directly from Purley Festival organisers we sought out the details for ourselves, on the Croydon Council website. Nothing listed under Events in Croydon Libraries
    • Council flouting its legal agreement – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.   Includes copy of large article from local newspaper.  “Whilst the UNJL consultation document gave the option to keep funding at existing levels, Croydon library campaigners are acutely aware that in the previous consultation on six Croydon libraries, Croydon chose to ignore the ‘do nothing’ option. Will it be the same for Upper Norwood?”
  • Ealing – Opening times changing in bid to save money – Ealing Today.   “The council scrapped plans to shut Northfields, Hanwell, Perivale and Northolt Leisure Centre libraries last June after a major campaign by residents, but the mobile library did close. The council says it has decided to shut libraries when they are least busy, as a way of contributing to the £428,000 savings needed by the service this year.”
  • Gloucestershire – Views on Gloucestershire library times are sought –  BBC.  “Gloucestershire County Council will continue to run 31 libraries but seven will lose funding and be run by local communities. Nine libraries will be open six days a week, while a further 12 will open five days. Ten others will open for between 12 and 21 hours a week. The council is now asking users when these should open during the week. Consultation questionnaires will be available at libraries such as Longlevens, Lydney, Cinderford and Chipping Camden from 28 May. A mobile library service will also operate while there will also be an online service.”
  • Hertfordshire – Hearts, Herts and happy endings: Freya North at the Letchworth Festival – We Heart Libraries.   “We are delighted to announce that we will be bringing the best-selling, award-winning romantic novelist Freya North to the Letchworth Festival to give a talk and, hopefully, a reading.”
  • Lincolnshire – Appeal for volunteers to keep Lincolnshire libraries open – This is Lincolnshire.   “the library in Waddington is being delivered in a partnership with a Lincolnshire Co-operative pharmacy where Co-operative staff are providing a library service assisted by volunteers” … “Councillor Eddy Poll, Executive Member for Cultural Services at Lincolnshire County Council told the Target: “While we’ve no plans to close any of our libraries, the service will certainly have to evolve. It’s likely volunteers and shared premises will have a role to play.”
  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers wanted – Selby Times.  “Volunteers are being sought to help deliver books, music and DVDs to people in Selby district who find it difficult to get to the library. The appeal comes from North Yorkshire County Council, the authority which runs the home library service.”
  • Northern Ireland – New opening hours for local libraries – Antrim Times.   “hese hours have been agreed as a result of a Review of Opening Hours, which was undertaken to meet savings targets resulting from the Comprehensive Spending Review. It also presented Libraries NI with the opportunity to  harmonise the opening hours of libraries across Northern Ireland for the very first time – and as a result of this exercise, libraries are now categorised into one of six opening hour bands, based on level of use. Irene Knox, Chief Executive of Libraries NI, said: “I am aware that the Review of Opening Hours has been a lengthy process that has involved high levels of uncertainty but I am satisfied that the process of determining the pattern of opening hours for each library is now complete, following surveys in each location.”
  • Surrey – Clack-handed libraries consultation staggers on – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.   “In an attempt to shore up its unlawful decision, the council is engaging in a quick box-ticking exercise. Hurrying to retake its library decision, it is attempting to consult with too few people and on too narrow grounds.” … “Quite what SCC is hoping to learn from such a shambolic process is not clear. The information does not seem to be that important to SCC in any case. Helyn Clack, SCC Cabinet member responsible for libraries, gave this response in an interview about the library plans with the Surrey Mirror: “Can you envisage being persuaded by further consultation? Helyn Clack: Probably not.”If that’s the case, why is the council wasting everyone’s time…and money?”
    • Library staff help internet novices get online – Elmbridge Today.   “according to the latest figures, members of staff at its libraries have helped people who are new to using the internet or digital technology 93,000 times.”
“The way libraries are being used is changing with the progress of technology and our staff have done an excellent job in helping thousands of beginners use the internet. Elderly and disabled people and those on low incomes are much more likely not to have access to the internet and stopping sections of society being left offline and excluded from many aspects of everyday life is essential.”

11% cut in Islington hours, Sefton consultation, Telford parish councils to the rescue…


  • America’s public library crisis: who’s reading the books? – Daily Beast (USA).  Article argues that decline in book reading is making public libraries obsolescent.  “Walk into a library in any city and you’ll witness a death match between old and new, a clash deeper than the cracks in the Carrara marble. The preservation of the past bolted to the promise of the future has made libraries ground zero of a vanishing world. The problem is that libraries have tried to accommodate the transition, and spent enormous sums of money doing so, carpetbombing their legacies into oblivion. Libraries across the country have erected architectural trophies and put themselves out of business. Public libraries, whose books have been relegated to wallpaper, have never looked better.”
  • Confronting the biggest threat to the public library – Huffington Post (USA).  “Urban Librarians Unite and the Save NYC Libraries Campaign are seeding more than 1600 books all over the city in response to massive cuts proposed to the budgets of New York City Libraries.Each of the books is emblazoned with a bright yellow sticker which reads “When libraries close this could be your only access to free books.” They have a QR code and a link to petitions to save the three libraries.
“Google has not killed the library and ebooks won’t do it either. The biggest threat to the public library in American culture is limited hours. In the new budget reality if libraries are forced to dramatically decrease their hours then they will be drastically reduced in their ability to serve their public.”

  • Fifty Shades is too hot for libraries – Tonight (South Africa).  “The best-selling erotic novel Fifty Shades Of Gray has been banned from libraries across the United States by straight-laced librarians who argue that is does not conform to their standards.”
  • Future of library services – Neil Stewart Associates. The event is being sponsored by John Laing, a company with a vested interest in outsourcing libraries.
  • Kenilworth Library had “big” plans for summer reading – Cranford Chronicle (USA).   ““Dream Big- Read!” has been announced as the theme for the Kenilworth Public Library’s 2012 summer reading program. Registration for the library’s summer reading clubs for children and teens between the ages of 2 and 18 will begin on June 11. The first 250 children to register will receive a free summer reading goody bag that contains a calendar of events, program fliers and other items of interest to curious young minds.”.  Impressive series of events. 
  • Last truly democractic space: where nobody moves you along – Irish Times (Eire).   Writer gets moved along by security for leaning on a wall in a Dublin shopping centre: extolls virtues of public libraries where one can stay all day, by anyone.  “Today I believe public libraries are saving not just children but the sorts of people who previously rarely entered libraries but now seek sanctuary there every day. Libraries have become the most democratic, non-judgmental spaces we have.”
“Let politicians look at figures for mental health issues, let them look at suicide rates among the very demographics now starting to use libraries. It will show how little will be gained and how much lost by cutting library budgets any more than is utterly necessary. Kildare Village shopping outlet, is not a village. The phrase Dundrum Town Centre is an oxymoron. The true centres of our communities are public libraries, where everyone is equal and nobody moves you along.”

  • Love letter to libraries – Just Listen.   “Something different for this week’s Friday Fiction –  I read a really delightful book called ‘The Library Book’ which is a collection of short stories, articles & pieces written by some of my very favourite authors & writers, about how blooming marvelous libraries are.” … “My point is, free books. That’s my point. How can you argue with free books? The day the Tories start privatising the libraries is the day I give up hope on humanity. Free books people. For children, for adults, for everyone, you even get free internet these days. Go support your local library & look out for The Library Book whilst you’re there. Make the most of them whilst you still can.”

Left notice says “It’s not the time to spend money on hunches”
Right notice says “Madrid support us; We are also outraged”.

“24th of May, all the public workers of Madrid City Council went out to the main streets of the City to protest again the “cuts” of services, rights, and salaries, not just in libraries. Ana Botella and her team earn more money that the Spanish Prime Minister and his ministers but they don’t reduce their salaries, they prefer to reduce ours” (Email from Guadelupe Ucete Perez, a Madrid librarian)


Local news

  • Aberdeenshire – Stamp of approval for shire libraries – Ellon Times.  “Aberdeenshire Council’s libraries are celebrating after being given the stamp of approval by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC). The council service was officially deemed excellent by the independent advisory body last week, following a visit by representatives of SLIC to assess the quality of library provision.”
  • Birmingham – Theatre: Rob Joiner’s Birmingham library experience inspires play – Birmingham Mail.  “As an assistant at Birmingham’s Central Library, Rob Joiner meets lots of very different people. So when he decided to put pen to paper for the play Without a Hand to Hold he took inspiration from the hundreds of strangers who cross the door of the city’s landmark building. “Because the library is a free service you do get a lot of people who come in who exist on the margins of society,” he says.”
  • Brent – Butt: a seventh library would undermine Transformation Project – Wembley Matters.   “In his  interview Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council,says that  if the freehold of the Kensal Rise building remained with Brent Council, despite being run by volunteers,  as the campaigners had requested,  it would be a problem. It would be adding a seventh library to the six remaining in Brent and open the way for Preston and other campaigners to make a similar request. .He goes on to say that as the Libraries Transformation Project is based on six libraries this would undermine the  whole Project.”
  • Croydon – Our library’s a bestseller – This is Croydon Today. Upper Norwood Library: “A total of 60 youngsters from the school in Chevening Road, Upper Norwood, visited the Westow Hill facility.”
    • Illegal behaviour suggested at volative Upper Norwood Library meeting – Croydon Guardian.   Campaigner “said the appointment of non-local councillors to the committee in 2010/11 began the dispute and was against an agreement signed by both councils in 2006. He said the decision to dissolve the joint board is illegal and can only be done the secretary of state, and called on the dispute to be taken to an independent arbiter.”
    • Pollard agrees to extend consultation at Question Time event – Inside Croydon.   “The deputy leader of the Conservative group that controls Croydon Council has given an undertaking that the consultation period for the Upper Norwood Joint Library will be extended.”
  • Ealing – Cuts in Ealing library hours announced – Ealing Times.    “After a hard-fought campaign last year, which attracted support from thousands of residents, the council agreed to keep all of the borough’s community libraries open. However, following a review, it has decided to close libraries when they are least busy, as a way of contributing to the £428,000 savings needed by the service this year.”
  • Islington – Council slammed for “caring more about poo than books” over library cuts – Islington Gazette.  11% average cut to libraries, with up to one quarter in some branches. “This is in a bid to save around £200,000 over two years – less than the £240,000 being paid for a crackdown on dog mess lasting just three months.” … “Islington will be spared the closures seen in boroughs like Camden and Brent, but seven of its 10 branches will be shut two days midweek, while four will close a further half day. Libraries will be twinned, so at least one of two will be open Monday to Saturday, although the twinned buildings are up to 1.5 miles apart – and West Library, in Bridgeman Road, Barnsbury, will be matched with a children’s library, Lewis Carroll in Copenhagen Street, Islington.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Rise of the Kindle was the biggest story of last year –  This is Nottingham.  “Notts County Council introduced an eBook library borrowing service last year, with around 1,000 works available. Nick London, team manager for library resources at the council, which is also providing the service for people using libraries run by Nottingham City Council, said there had been a demand for books in the new format.”
  • Sefton – Save Southport’s libraries – Kew Focus (Liberal Democrats).  Consultation: “no apologies for my repetition, the decision makers are the Bootle Labour Cabinet.Please make sure that the views of Southport residents are included.”.    
  • Shropshire – Save Oswestry Library – iPetitions.  “I strongly oppose the idea that the entrance to my Library could now be over-crowded every day with people using the ‘Council office’. As everybody is aware Libraries are a place of sanctuary and quiet, but with now more than 57 cases last year of verbal abuse reported against council officers at Shropshire council reception desks, the peace and quiet will disappear. Do we really want this in an environment where children & adults come to learn and take advantage of this fantastic facility?”
  • Telford – Libraries avoid closure axe but face hours cut – Shropshire Star.   “Parish councils in Great Dawley, Stirchley & Brookside and Hadley & Leegomery have committed cash or agreed to share costs to keep their local services running. But the libraries have not escaped entirely. Telford & Wrekin Council has identified 20 per cent savings by reducing opening hours and sharing overhead costs.”
  • Warwickshire – Baddesley Ensor community library in official opening – BBC.   “The Baddesley Ensor library is one of 16 which are to remain open with community groups running them …The county council has contributed £10,500 to the new community facility, which is staffed by volunteers. Books and DVDs have been provided by the council, which will also refresh them.”

Deep Ealing cuts inc. 9% hours cut, one sixth of workforce


Map shows number of libraries per country and major library projects in developing countries
Image from I Love Libraries (USA)

  • Guest Post #10: Publishers and libraries must work together – Envisioning the Library of the Future (Arts Council England).  Emma House (Director of Trade and International) at the Publishers Association says Ebooks are important and growing.  Libraries can engage users through digital means like skyping/posting author interviews and book reviews.  However, some public libraries prevented from using social networks due to council restrictions. 
“Publishers hold a wealth of skills and knowledge in the digital sphere and matching that with librarians’ knowledge of their own community will assist in building a modern service offering. There is a long way to go, however, in overcoming the challenges facing libraries in the digital world, which will require investment, a good look at social media policies and continued support and training of staff.”

  • How not to tweet: for library and information services – Library Marketing Toolkit.  This great guide to how to use Twitter is part of one of the most promising websites for public libraries this year.
  • UNISON and the Welsh Government: still loving our libraries – UNISON Cymru Wales.  In the meeting Huw Lewis recommitted himself to ensuring that the Welsh Government will continue to invest in our libraries and ensure that they publicly owned and controlled and that Wales remains at the forefront of innovative library developments in the UK and farther afield; he also highlighted the Welsh success in raising the number of users of public libraries. The meeting then went on to focus on the real pressures still being felt by UNISON members in libraries in regard to the tightness of funding affecting training provision; the concern around inappropriate use of volunteers; the need to mainstream library services in the delivery of key education and literacy initiatives and the ongoing problems of maintaining health and safety particularly in a lone working environment setting.”
  • Winkworth Sherwood – Stop the privatization of public libraries.  Legal firm specialises in outsourcing council services.  One partner, Joanna Bussell, wrote a letter in South Wales Evening Post advocating outsourcing library services but her professional link was not reported.


Local News

  • Doncaster – Mood low … – Save Doncaster Libraries.  “We have learnt that of the 25 original volunteers in Rossington Library, only 10 remain, a mere 3 months after re-opening as a ‘Community-run’ Library.  Reasons are unknown but perhaps the vounteers realised the magnitude and responsibilities required of them, and recognised this to be the remit of paid, trained, experienced and qualified Council employees.” … “Please help us to match the Legal Aid funding granted to our campaign regarding a Judicial Review, which continues making its course.”
  • Dorset – Outrage is IT manager costs Dorset County Council £167k – Dorset Echo.  “Mike Chaney, spokesman for the Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries (Ad Lib) which has been campaigning to protect libraries in the wake of council cuts, said: “It’s a terrible irony that our libraries have to be closed to save money yet the council is using, if not wasting, money in other ways.””
  • Durham – Thousands in bid to save library – Teesdale Mercury.  With the consultation now closed the council has revealed that more than 6,000 people took part in the exercise.  Robert Stenlake, from The Friends of Barnard Castle Library, a group opposed to the cuts, said: “I’m not at all surprised at the response. You only have to go into our library to see how busy it is. “All we can hope is that the council will look at the response and take notice.””
  • Ealing – Library hours cut in money saving shake up – Ealing Gazette.  “The council scrapped plans to shut Northfields, Hanwell, Perivale and Northolt Leisure Centre libraries last June after campaigns by residents. But it did axe the mobile library. It says the changes are being brought in because savings still need to be found to help tackle £85 million of government funding cuts. And the new opening times were chosen following a review which showed when the libraries were least busy.”
“Carolyn Brown, chairwoman of Hanwell Community Forum and member of the forum’s Library Action group, which helped save their library from closure last year, said: “It’ll mean there’ll be no evening service during the week in Hanwell, so anyone who works outside of Ealing will have to commit their Saturdays to take their books back. I think that’s unacceptable. “We all understand there are cuts but you either support libraries or you don’t.””

“I would not be a writer if it was not for my village library. Reading was like food for my soul. I just think reading helps children to develop an inner self.” Of the library itself, she added: “It is wonderful. I think as libraries are being closed around the nation, it is just wonderful that this one is being opened.””

Seven libraries reprieved in Kirklees

  • Authors help tackle “can’t read, won’t read culture” – BBC.  “A top children’s author is calling for young children in England to be given automatic library membership to tackle the “can read won’t read” culture. Schools minister Nick Gibb invited leading children’s authors to advise on ways to make books come alive. The government is worried that almost two-thirds of English children say they do not enjoy reading. The writer Michael Rosen told BBC Radio 4 he blamed an over-emphasis on the teaching of phonics in schools. Mr Rosen said the government’s favoured system of synthetic phonics was a good way of breaking down single words but did not necessarily promote reading.”
“In particular, his policy staff were investigating Mr Rosen’s the idea of giving every five-year-old a local library card. “One of his ideas is for every child. when they start school, they will be issued with a library ticket from the local library and a map of how to get there and then school visits as well,” said Mr Gibb.

  • Charities can save libraries – This is South Wales.   “Whilst the proposed volunteer system is a terrific opportunity for the local community to be involved in the management and operation of the library service, this is not a long-term solution. The council should consider transferring the management and operation to a registered charity. This would deliver immediate operational savings through business rate relief, VAT relief and other tax benefits.”  Comments below article point out that the writer works for a company which specialises in outsourcing leisure services.  Compare with recent Durham article where there is a  delay in outsourcing due to worries about withdrawal of tax relief from Trusts.
  • I’m a librarian groupie – Globe and Mail (Canada).  “I was raised by librarians. It’s like being raised by wolves, but wilder. When Toronto’s librarians went on strike this spring, I went down to the picket line by City Hall and told them fairy tales through a megaphone. It was a small way of thanking them for running the greatest municipal library system in the world and, more personally, for turning me into a storyteller….”
  • Keep Public Lending Right’s excellent office in Stockton-on-Tees – Guardian.    “the recent high-profile campaign by authors such as Andrew Motion, Monica Ali and Antonia Fraser to keep the Public Lending Right (PLR) organisation on Teesside should be noted.”.  PLR Office is seen as a model of efficiency in a high-unemployment area, working well.  Suggested move to British Library is criticised as it is a large organisation, in London, with no track record of paying out money.
  • Marginalia: little libraries in the urban margins – Design Observer (USA).   A long article on little libraries around the world, including pop-up and protest examples.  “”I don’t want politicians to see these tiny libraries and think, ‘Oh, we don’t need the big public libraries,'” Comito said. “We don’t want those who control budgets to think that that librarianship can be reduced to a hobby, or that libraries can all be modularized and distributed, crowd-sourced and privatized.””
  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be – Publishing Technology.  “Does every e-book borrowed really mean that a corresponding physical book remains on the shelf? Without data that categorically tells us that e-book lending is subtractive or additive to physical book lending it’s impossible to tell. But either way it’s easy to see why the Society of Authors views the refusal of the DCMS to extend the PLR as being a lost opportunity to its members.”.  Ebook borrowing seen as an interesting new form of revenue: Bilbary website mentioned and praised.

Poster shows a library 50p  comparing attitude when it was made in 2000 with current situation, asking

Local news
  • Brent – Campaigners reveal “true extent” of closing Brent’s libraries in report – Brent and Kilburn Times.  Campaigners have submitted their own report to Brent Council which they say reveals the “true extent” of the damage caused by library closures in the borough. At a meeting on Monday night (May 21) in Brent Town Hall, Wembley, an update on the closures of libraries in Brent was presented by Cllr James Powney, lead member for environment and neighbourhoods. But supporters of the six closed libraries believe his report presents misleading information and so handed in their own findings which they believe gives a true picture.”
    • MPs invited to visit Brent’s volunteer libraries – Brent Liberal Democrats (press release via Alan Gibbons).  “Today (Tuesday 22 May) MPs from the House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee visited Pimlico Library and the Canary Wharf ‘Idea Store’ as part of their inquiry into library closures. They are investigating the two libraries as examples of different types of facilities and approaches to service provision. Cllr Lorber said:“The MPs are looking at ‘top-of-the-range’ libraries. They also need to see the valuable work of community libraries. Parents and children need to be able to pop-in to a local library when out shopping or on the way home from school.”
  • Croydon – Bashford brought to book – News from Crystal Palace.  The news – announced in the wake of last week’s ‘consultation’ meeting at the Salvation Army centre on Westow Street – will delight many Upper Norwood library campaigners with whom she was about as popular as the clap.Bashford retains her role as cabinet member for corporate services and gains responsibility for the voluntary sector. The role of arts, culture and libraries is now part of the portfolio held by Fisher’s deputy Cllr Tim Pollard – who attended last week’s meeting incognito.”
  • Kirklees – Lib dems, Greens and Valley Independents turn against Labour Kirklees Council leader Clr Mehboob Khan over libraries cuts – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.   “Mehboob Khan could lose his grip on Kirklees Council’s leadership today – over controversial cuts to village libraries.  The Lib Dems yesterday announced they would vote against the Labour man when he stands for re-election this afternoon. And the newly-formed alliance between the Greens and the Valley Independents also revealed they will not back Clr Khan to continue in office. The announcements leave the Labour leader three votes short of a majority on the 69-strong council.”.  Conservatives also called for libraries rethink.

A poster from the demonstration outside the Council offices today (Wednesday)
Picture courtesy of the Kirklees library campaign.
    • Andrew Edwards show – BBC Radio Leeds (1.52.44 – 1.57) Protesters gathered outside town hall, Kirklees council meeting decides to u-turn.  June Jones, campaigner, says “We can’t quite believe it, we weren’t expecting a decision until the Autumn … I was told by Anna Crossley from Look North … that the council has announced a three year reprieve…”.  Council said decision was “due to the pressure of the campaigns”.  “I do feel that without the pressure from outside that this decision would be made”.  “We’ve nothing against volunteers but we do have something against volunteers if they’re coming in to replace paid staff”.  Campaigners said they would be back again in three years if it is tried in the future.  “Libraries have been run down over the past few years … we feel that in a time of recession libraries are extremely important”.
    • Huddersfield libraries u-turn after residents’ campaign – BBC News.   “Protesters who gathered outside a council meeting on Wednesday said a survey had showed 66% of people were opposed to the plan. The council later said there would be no changes for three years. Campaigners said the decision was “wonderful”. The changes would have affected libraries at Honley, Golcar, Slaithwaite, Lepton, Kirkheaton, Denby Dale and Shepley.”
“Campaigner June Jones said replacing professional library staff with volunteers was not sustainable and was likely to have led to library closures. Ms Jones, of Save Slaithwaite Library, said: “It’s wonderful for our communities and we are going to be drinking champagne for the next week.”

  • Manchester – Views sought on new leisure facilities in Manchester City Council –  Information Daily.  “The proposals involve the creation of a new joint leisure and library centre in the centre of Chorlton, development of a new leisure centre in East Manchester, and the development of a joint leisure and library centre in Levenshulme District Centre.” … “These innovative proposals would provide modern library and leisure facilities fit for the 21 Century for the residents of Chorlton, Levenshulme and East Manchester”
  • Surrey – Council launches new consultation on libraries plans – Eagle Radio.  “A new consultation has been launched on plans to get volunteers to run some Surrey libraries. The County Council has been forced to go back to the public after a judge blocked the plans. The consultation focuses on the training of staff.”
    • Leading community-run library volunteer frustrated at SLAM campaign cost – Get Surrey.  “In an open letter to Surrey County Council bosses, New Haw Library Community Partnership steering group outlines its ‘sense of frustration’ at being forced to wait to take over the running of the library in The Broadway. The group’s chairman Carol Deakins, writes: “Much of the reporting by the media has focused on the potentially negative impact of the move to community partnered libraries. Little has been said about the positive benefits in going down this route, or of the sense of frustration now felt by the community partners following the outcome of the judicial review.”
“Over the last nine months we, in New Haw, have brought together a really large team, some 150 volunteers and steering group members, to form the basis of the community partnership and we have worked hard to put in place the building blocks to successfully run a library service; a facility at the heart of our community.”

  • Warrington – Grappenhall library officially opened – This is Cheshire.   “More than 500 people regularly borrow books while more than 100 are ‘friends’ – a group of supporters who pay £10 a year to keep the library running.” … “In a latest boost, the group has been awarded almost £10,000 from the lottery to help fund a new kitchen on site. New grant applications for Wren meanwhile aim to secure funding for disabled toilets while organisers also want double glazing introduced to ease running costs.”

Morpurgo: closing libraries is like “shutting off kids from oxygen”

Please note the full transcript of the “One Show” segment on closing libraries and volunteer-run libraries is on the previous post.


Australian Libraries: Come Back Soon “The National Year of Reading, 
sponsored by the Australian Government”.

  • Future U: Library 3.0 has more resources, greater challenges Ars Technica (USA). “If there is one thing that all librarians worried about, it was this: the de-funding of libraries. It has happened from the university research libraries all the way down to the neighborhood libraries that set expectations students bring when going to college. Houghton traveled to Denmark last summer and visited the public library in a small, poor town. “Their library was five times bigger than mine,” she said, “It had better computer technology, better everything.” The reason for that was simple, she said. “We don’t invest in our libraries.””  
  • #Libfesto: my vision for public libraries – Information Overload.  A great post responding to a Voices for the Library request, writer produces her ideal vision while avoiding self-censoring (as so many do) to take into account cuts, especially as libraries produce more value than they consume.  Customer service is something libraries do better than almost everyone else, self-service has a place but there needs to be a human alternative, “I want my library of the future to be a lovely place that people are clamouring to visit. I want it to be in an accessible, well-located building with reasonable parking and public transport facilities nearby. I want it open all hours of the day, evening and weekend and I want it to be so comfortable, verging on the cosy even, that I don’t really want to get up and leave….”
“To sum up: It’s time we worked out where we left our bows and arrows, spears and chariots. Jerusalem’s more than half-builded here already. All we have to do in this century is finish the job rather than standing by while the dark forces pull it down stone by stone.”

  • War Horse author goes into battle for our libraries – This is Somerset (editorial).  “While it is possible to sympathise with councils finding themselves in difficult financial positions, it is hard to ever justify closure of libraries. Mr Morpurgo, whose own works have been borrowed by countless thousands of children and who has inspired a huge following as a result, is right to raise the issue. Firing a warning shot across the bows of anyone who thinks there is money to be saved by shutting the library is always worthwhile. Any short-term gain in cutting costs is far outweighed by the long-term price of lower literacy levels.”
    • Closing libraries “is like depriving oxygen”: author – This is Cornwall.  Repeats Telegraph’s article as Michael Morpurgo lives in Devon.  Despite a sweep of closure plans rolled out across the UK last year, the South West has managed to steer relatively clear from having to make wide-ranging changes to services. Both Cornwall and Devon county councils last year confirmed there would be no library closures, although some mergers with one-stop shops have taken place, while some others have seen a reduction in service opening times.”
“In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Morpurgo said: “[Children] can be entertained by watching television or screens, but they need context, they need insight into the world and their place in it. “That is what they can find in books, and in libraries. “If we close libraries, and we deprive them of books, it is as if we are shutting them off from oxygen.”

  • Everybody fights nobody quits – Question Everything.  Library campaigner wrote to CILIP Council about its volunteering policy.  John Dolan responded (full text reprinted) but “It doesn’t really answer any of my concerns sadly, I believe the stance of CILIP however well intentioned has sent the wrong signal to the ideologues running councils that they can save money by replacing paid staff with volunteers. It doesn’t make financial sense and CILIP have taken this stance without any evidence, they have just bowed to the perceived political wind. I fail to see how job substitution is a good thing for libraries, CILIP or its members. If I were a CILIP member paying £19.40 a month I be asking for my money back.”

Local News

  • Brent – 167k fewer visits in Brent – Harrow Observer.  The data from Brent SOS will also be considered by Jeremy Hunt’s Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), which is investigating whether Brent Council has breached its statutory duties.” … “A Brent Council spokesman said: “It was always initially expected that a reduction overall in usage of six libraries as against 12 would occur, as it would take time to build usage based on the new library offer. Usage and borrowing figures also need to take account of periods when libraries are closed for refurbishment.” … Council accepts over half of closed library users no longer user a library.
  • Croydon – Quizzed on hiring security guards for Bashford – Inside Croydon.  “Around 200 locals attended the meeting, where cabinet members Sara “Book Token” Bashford and Tim Pollard’s presentations received an often hostile reception over Croydon’s withdrawal from a joint arrangement with Lambeth over the running of the historic library. No one contacted by Inside Croydon who attended the meeting considered there was ever any threat to anyone’s safety. Bashford and Pollard insisted that no recording or photographs were allowed at the meeting at the request of the owners of the hall, the Salvation Army. The owners of the hall have dismissed this claim as untrue.”
  • Dudley – Libraries to host a series of Jubilee activities – Stourbridge News.    “Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, Dudley’s new cabinet member for housing, libraries and adult learning said: “I’m so pleased to see our libraries embracing the Jubilee and finding a way for children to understand and celebrate it through fun stories and crafts. I hope these sessions prove popular and help people feel part of this national celebration.”
  • West Sussex – How to be a volunteer for the Summer Reading Challenge – West Sussex County Council.   “We need volunteers to help us run the Summer Reading Challenge (SRC) in all libraries. All volunteers will get training and support for the role, plus gain experience working with children and families and skills like organisation and teamwork. To apply to become a volunteer, complete the online application form.”

One Show: Are volunteer libraries a way to beat the cuts?

The One Show did a slot on library closures and on voluntee-run libraries this evening.  Below is a transcript.  A link will be added here when it becomes available on iPlayer.
Alex Jones (AJ): Now we all know that councils across the country are having to make drastic cuts and local libraries are particularly in the firing line.
Matt Baker (MB): Some have managed to stay open through the dedication of volunteers but can this work for every library?
AJ: Anita Rani has been to find out.
*scene of bookshelves, Anita Rania (AR) is sat reading a book, she looks up…*
AR: Libraries have always played a really important role in my life. I love everything about them: that cosy warm feeling, distinctive musky smell but most importantly the fact that you’re surrounded by all those brilliant words.  But with budgets being squeezed, councils are having to make difficult choices.  Across the UK many librarie are closing or reducing their opening hours and librarians are losing their jobs.
*scene moves to the outside of a one-story Victorian looking building in a wooded street*
AR: This used to be the library of Friern Barnet in North London but [AR rattles padlock on its frontdoor] it doesn’t exist anymore and that has prompted an angry protest from the people that want to use it.
*scene shows people protesting outside the library, with vehicles beeping their horns in support*
AR: Last month, some of the locals decided to occupy the building in protest [Picture shows young people chanting and banging on the library door]
Martin Russo (MR): People feel that the library is the centre of their community.  It will partly destroy this sense of villageness and this sense of community.
AR: The council told us budgets meant they had to save £1.5 million from their libraries service and they acknowledge that not every resident would be happy with their changes.
MR: I feel devastated that my local library has closed and doesn’t seem right.  Our community has said no.  All the schools and all the businesses around here have said this library needs to stay open.
*timelapse of a large marquee being set up full of books*
AR:  In the weeks following the closure, the protest group decided that they would try and run their own makeshift libraries on Saturdays,  They call it the People’s Library and it relies on the honesty of local people to return the books.  According to the group, the council have offered them a building where they can run their own voluntary library but campaigner Martin Russo is keen to find out if a library run by volunteers can ever hope to survive in the long term.
*Scene shifts to another road, similarly leafy, with old buildings, this one with bunting*
AR: So I have taken him on a bit of a trip outside London.  Here in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire,  they have set up a library with no professional staff.   The One Show first paid them a visit two years ago [See link here]and now I am taking Martin to see what he thinks.
*The pair walk into the library and are greeted by Tony Hoare (TH)*
Tony Hoare, chairman of Chalfont St Giles Community Library: Hi there and welcome to the library [he shakes hands with Martin].  We fought tooth and nail for the library not to be shut and in an ideal world you want it to be run by the County but unfortunately there isn’t the money to do it. 
AR: So in Chalfont the local people agreed to keep the library going themselves. Volunteers don’t get paid but the library does get a grant from the Council – and others – to buy books.  They also ask users for a voluntary £10 annual subscription to help with running costs. 
TH:  It’s going extremely well and a huge improvement over when it was a county library.  When they closed it, there were about 4500 books.  There’s now 7000.  It’s now open 50% more of the time. 
*Picture shows an older lady (V) sitting talking to children at a story time*
AR: They even managed to keep children’s groups going.  Storytime is happening just behind me.  I love storytime so I’m going to go and join them.
V: In the old days they had the same books on those shelves for what felt like years and now a lot of them are given by people from the village.  The literary quality of the books is up by miles.
AR:  Do you think that this model should be rolled out across the country.  Do you think it would work?
V: No. I don’t.  You desperately need a community like this where people all know eachother and are prepared to come in and help.
AR: So what do you do when you’re in a community where don’t have those, where it’s not a particularly affluent community, what do they do?
V: I think that the authorities would really have to keep those libraries going.
AR:  Martin is really impressed with what he has seen in Chalfont St Giles and the success the volunteers have had in improving the service but could something similar work in Barnet?
MR: I don’t think it can, no.  I’m sorry but it is no replacement for a paid library service from the local authority with paid librarians. 
*Back to Friern Barnet, with it’s “Speak Up for Libraries” flags and “What no books?” posters*
AR: In Friern Barnet the people’s library is contuing to operate.  The campaigners do not want it to become a replacement for the council library.
MR: None of us have the time or the inclination to run this service.  We’re far too busy.  We’ve got families, working full-time and studying.  It’s really disapppointing that the council has not listened to us.
AR: The campaigners are considering whether one course of action might be to challenge the closure in the Courts.   In other parts of the country, some councils have been forced to rethink their plans to close libraries.
*Back to the Studio.  AJ and MB are sat down with Melvyn Bragg*
MB: Well, Melvyn, you’re a Cumbria lad.  Did libraries play a big part in your growing up?
Melvyn Bragg: At one stage of my life, they were everything, absolutely everything.  Well, we didn’t have books.  We lived in a council house yard and in the corner at the bottom was the library and I used to go with my Dad Tuesday nights and Friday nights up the steps.  Mr Carrick was the librarian and he used to say “I think you should read that, I think you can move on to that now” and for four or five crucial years before I went to a school that had a library, I just read and read and read from that library.  It’s fantastic these volunteers trying to keep them open and they are all over the place and good luck to all of them.  It’s for many people it’s the entrance to a hundred new worlds.
AJ:  And you’re a good man because you did say that you are doing your books to a library in London.
Segment ends

Grey is not a popular colour


There is continuing anger over CILIP’s decision to avoid the outright condemnation of replacing paid library staff with volunteers.  Library campaigners (this one or this one or this one) are understandably not happy with this absence of a clear black and white decision.  More potentially worrying for the professional association is the reaction of “ordinary” public librarians. Many are saying they will not renew their subscriptions.  
Phil Bradley, the organisation’s widely respected president, has written a post about the volunteer policy [NB. I have edited this sentence.  The original post said he had “defended” this policy.  Phil has emailed to make it clear that CILIP and especially himself are against substitution.] and has asked for the membership to let him know their views.  He makes good points in his article that people should read.  Certainly, the CILIP staff I know (and had the good fortune to meet last week) are hardly enemies of library workers.  They give every appearance of being good hardworking people who care deeply about how they are seen by the membership.  Phil also makes clear that the organisation is doing all it can to fight for paid workers, short of a clear policy statement.  However, in such dark times as this, falling short of a clear policy statement against substitution is seen by many as just that … falling short. So far, comments are agreed that the circumstances demand a principled stance against volunteering but the current policy is “wishy washy”. 
One of the points Phil makes is that the policy was decided on two years ago.  Two things explain the furore now.  The first is that the policy is on the CILIP website but few would have read it.  This is not surprising as policies are hardly given prominence on any website.   Furthermore, it would occur to few that a professional association would not directly oppose the replacement of its subscribers with the unpaid.  As one campaigner points out today, even Volunteering England is against such practices.
Secondly, two years ago the subject was not the hotbed of controversy that it is now.  Back then, direct substitution was more theoretical than real.  It’s only been in the last year that the cuts have started to hit home. Now, as this article today shows, it scares a lot of library workers.  Hardly surprising when one-tenth of paid library workers are losing their jobs.
So, those concerned should, in as clear but impersonal way, let CILIP know their views.  Comment on Phil’s article or, even better, email the councillors who are the ones who decide on policy.  


  • Bring on brand-name parks and libraries – Daily News (USA).  hat captures my imagination — probably because I work in the corporate sponsorship business — is the fact that Citi Bike represents a new way for private dollars to help make possible a program with important public benefits….” … “Millions of people visit the public libraries every year; naming rights deals for branches in Queens and Brooklyn could be very lucrative for those cash-starved institutions. Or, what about the Celebrity Cruise Lines Staten Island Ferry?”.  Author of article “is a partner at Bryan Cave LLP whose work includes naming rights agreements”.

Great stand-up poem by a lover of the public library.
“I like to pretend this is where all my tax dollars are going to” 

  • Indian government spent Rs 4.5 Cr in 2010-11 for digitization and modernisation of public libraries – Medianama (India). “The minister stated that RRRLF has released two separate grants to public libraries worth Rs 4.5 crores (Rs 4,53,29,800) and Rs 10 crore (Rs 10,19,94,316) in the year 2010-11 for modernization and building renovation purposes, respectively. The agency had previously released similar grants in 2009-10 and 2008-09 for the same purposes”.   A crore is ten million, there are 81 rupees to the pound.
  • “Librarians against Libraries and Librarians Association”: CILIP changes its name to LALALA – Question Everything. “In my head I have a little Venn diagram of the enemies of libraries and it has who you what you would expect in it: David Cameron, Big Society, Keith Mitchell, LGA, Ed Vaizey and the DCMS etc. In the past few days CILIP has crept into the enemies box.”.  Reasons against the current lack of an explicit statement in CILIP policy are:
    • “Rural libraries are mainly the ones in the cuts firing line, replacing a couple of part-time library managers (not librarians) doesn’t save actually save any money because of the number of volunteers required. I can prove this is the case in Oxfordshire and I think the same applies elsewhere.
    • How will CILIP continue to exist when its fee paying members are replaced by volunteers?
    • Cameron himself is quoted as saying “the big society isn’t about cuts, it’s about making existing services better”
    • Volunteering England is specifically against job substitution of paid staff with volunteers, quote from the chief exec: There is a danger that volunteers are seen as a way of reducing costs, and that undermines staff jobs and is extremely damaging to the perception of volunteering.”
    • You have handed the ideological morons who live in a bubble of simplicity a massive weapon to sack your members. However nuanced and pragmatic your intention this has severely undermined the library campaigners up and down the country. 
    • When the economy recovers will you reverse this stance as this seems to be the only reason for it?”
  • Nail in public libraries’ coffins – Copyright and Technology (USA).  “There it was, on the entire back page of the A section of the New York Times a few days ago, at a likely cost of over US $100,000: a full-page ad from Amazon touting free “lending” of all of the Harry Potter e-books for members of Amazon’s $79/year Amazon Prime program who own Kindle e-readers, starting next month.” … “With the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, there are no due dates, books can be borrowed as frequently as once a month, and there are no limits on how many people can simultaneously borrow the same title—so readers never have to wait in line for the book they want.”
  • Volunteers in public libraries – CILIP.   Phil Bradley, the organisation’s president, defends its official policy, including its omission of a statement explicitly against substitution of paid staff by volunteers.  “Volunteers cannot be expected to, nor should they, run a library, because a library as we all know is rather more than a collection of books…”.  but “…is it better to provide a partial service, run by volunteers, or no service at all?”.  “Unfortunately, what we want and what we can have are two very different things, and this is recognised in the phrase relating to ‘present day realities’.” Comments so far below the paper report that the policy is “wishy washy” and open to misinterpretation.
CILIP has refused requests to publish advertisements in the Update magazine where it is clear that volunteers will be replacing paid staff. CILIP has also been approached on numerous occasions to run training courses for volunteers to provide them with basic skill sets. All of these have been refused, and will continue to be refused … CILIP does not, has not, and will not train volunteers, who may, have, or potentially will replace a paid, professional member as long as we are aware that circumstance may exist.”

If you feel that CILIP is not clear or robust enough on its stance, then please say so. You have always been able to say so, and CILIP has, I believe been transparent in its workings by publishing statements on the website, but I’m also keen to use my blog as a conduit.”

  • Volunteers: what organisations say and what they do – Information Overload.   “Volunteering and job substitution is clearly the hot-topic issue for library and information professionals at present”.  Questions over whether CILIP is standing up for its members enough on this issue. “I think that one of the things we should be doing is holding organisations using volunteers to replace paid staff to account over whether or not they are living up to their own objectives and promotional statements on economic development.”  Points out that using volunteers damages the local economy to the general impoverishment of all.


Local News

  • Brent – 167,004 fewer library visits concealed by Brent Council – Wembley Matters. “Ahead of a meeting tonight at Brent Town Hall, at which a “progress” report will present what SOS Libraries claim is misleading and incorrect information on the so-called “Libraries Transformation Project” to the new Labour executive, Brent SOS Libraries has submitted its own report on the library closures (LINK). It shows: There have been 167,004 fewer library visits since half of the borough’s libraries were closed in October compared with the same period year on year. 158,809 fewer books have been issued. Library visits and lending have fallen 20% will continue to fall with the imminent closure of Kilburn and demolition of Willesden Green libraries. This has been a net loss of 191 opening hours per week. Most of the users of the closed libraries are not using the remaining libraries, as the council claims.”
  • Croydon/Wandsworth – Civica pull out of Croydon/Wandsworth privatization process – Stop the privatization of public libraries.   “Civica, one of the shortlisted companies bidding for the Croydon\Wandsworth libraries contract has pulled out stating; ‘Having undertaken an internal risk assessment and considering the potential risk to the Civica brand of taking on a contract which is outside their core competence, they felt they could not take that risk and must withdraw’. This has allowed a space in the process for an in-house bid from Wandsworth Council”
  • Croydon – Council cock-up stops comments on library consultation – Inside Croydon.   “Croydon Council’s website was offline yesterday, “for maintenance”, preventing the public accessing the Upper Norwood library consultation online before the official deadline, which was to be midnight on Sunday, May 20. Following complaints, the council extended the deadline by a day, until midnight on Monday May 21 – although being a weekday, with many residents at work, it may prove less convenient than being able to fill in the form at the weekend. Click here for the link to the consultation.”.  At last week’s meeting on the closure, “Councillor Sara “Book Token” Bashford had five security guards in attendance“.
  • Durham – Plans to outsource public services on hold – Northern Echo.   “Cost-cutting plans to out-source taxpayer-owned theatres, museums, libraries and leisure centres have been put on hold, amid doubts over the hoped-for savings.” … “It was hoped the move would save at least £1m a year in business rates and VAT and open new fundraising opportunities. However, a Government review of how business rates work has caused the scheme to be halted.”.  Result of review expected this Summer. “Should the outcome of the review be positive, we will be putting the project back on track at the earliest possible opportunity. In the meantime work is already underway to identify the savings which we will have to make should trust status not prove the best way forward”
  • Kirklees – Librarian accused of intimidating would-be Big Society volunteers – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.   “The council’s chief librarian Carol Stump wrote to staff concerning a laminated sign about the consultation at the counter of a library in Kirklees – believed to be Slaithwaite. She wrote: “Some of the wording was misleading in so much as it talked about ‘volunteering would mean staff losing their jobs’. This could be seen as deliberately discouraging people to take part in the consultation process.“We also discussed the fact that staff should remain impartial at all times and cannot be seen to be influencing members of the public in any way.” Mrs Stump added: “We have had a complaint from a member of the public about the poster and perceived intimidation of potential volunteers.”
  • Surrey – More views sought on libraries volunteer training – Surrey News (County Council).   “Users of the 10 Surrey libraries proposed as community partnerships are being asked about how volunteers should be trained to help, in particular, the young, the elderly and people with special needs.” … “They will also consider the findings of this further consultation, which is asking users of the 10 libraries to give their views about what equalities training should be provided for volunteers at community partnered libraries.”
  • Torbay – Changes to opening times at Torbay libraries – This is the West Country.   “The opening times of libraries across the Bay are to change from Monday 2 July. The changes are being introduced as part of the council’s ongoing budget pressures and have been carried out following extensive consultation with library customers.” … “”Unfortunately doing nothing is not an option and following consultation with our library users we have taken the decision to reduce the opening hours at each of the libraries.”.  Council meeting Friends groups to “to jointly explore ways to protect the service in the next few years.”

Fight for the user

The key thing about public libraries is that they are for the user and the user can be anyone.  These are a few examples that library workers all around the country will find familiar: 
  • A small child looking for Thomas the Tank Engine.  
  • The Year Six girl looking for the Hunger Games.  
  • A student looking for study space because there is no quiet at home.  
  • The transgender individual who is, for this is the world we live in, hunted down outside of the library and fears to live alone, who uses us for a safe haven.
  • A businessman looking to use a fax.  
  • The dancing group practising their moves in the room upstairs.
  • An unemployed man in his 50s learning how to do his CV.
  • The chap just coming in for a book.  Multiply him by a hundred.
  • The senior citizen who has no-one at home and relies on the library for people contact.
  • A supermarket worker, in her lunch break, photocopying a receipt
  • The first-time artist hesitantly asking to display their work
  • A gentleman researching their family history both on microfilm and online
  • The mum chatting with another mum while their children are bopping along at dancetime
  • A middle-aged woman who has an addiction to books and cannot meet it any other way
  • The group of teenagers who sit for thirty minutes on the sofa 
  • An older man with a history of mental health problems who has joined the reading group and now says hello to library staff, for the first time in years.
  • A chap using the toilets
  • The student finishing their dissertation in the reference library
  • A stamp collector using the Stanley Gibbons catalogues for the twentieth time
  • The basic skills groups coming in, with their tutor, to read the newspapers
  • Another group of people, normally men, who sit separately to read the papers, as they do every day, perhaps sometimes agreeing, sometimes arguing with each other on the issues of the day, sometimes just sitting, quietly enjoying the experience.
  • A group of people coming to play scrabble and chess
  • The quiet lad who reads through the Science Fiction section
  • The loud teenager with a hoodie, abusive in a group, who looks less scary when he is alone waiting for his friends, with clearly nowhere else to go.
  • A chap in tweed with a desire for more Westerns than Asda dream of selling
  • The tough-looking man who is looking for the CITB health and safety questions he needs to get a job.
  • A man with a problem with his car but no money to fix it looking for the Haynes manual which will save him a vital few pounds.
  • The man and a woman from Poland coming in to book their flight tickets home
  • A Christian researching commentaries or an atheist wanting to read Richard Dawkins.
  • A woman waiting for her friend in the foyer
  • The school group coming in to change their books
  • A group of children, perhaps ten years of age, drawing pictures in the children’s library for thirty minutes then asking, politely, if they can be displayed on the noticeboard.
  • Another child, with nothing to do and possibly no-one at home, asking for “jobs” to do.
  • A lady with a bag of books she wants to donate.  She joins after giving over the books, taking out as many as she has given.
  • The aunt who does not know how to use email but knows that we can help.
  • A tourist, or lorry driver or businessman or you, asking for directions.
  • The High School tutors using the study space as a place to sit with students who, for whatever reason, need to be educated outside of school.
  • The local councillor using the space to talk to his constituents
  • A chap asking for the bus timetables
  • The teaching assistant wanting a list of childcare books for her qualification
  • The lady from Africa with poor English asking for help with a visa.
  • A teenager using facebook because this is a vital part of young life that his lack of internet access at home would have excluded him from.
  • Another teenager who needs to use a computer for their homework.
  • The well-dressed couple coming in, for the first time in years, because their printer has broken.
  • A local history group researching records only available at the library.
All of these are not unusual.  All of these are almost daily occurrences.  Public libraries are there for all of these people. It is the role of libraries to be there for them.  By providing a brilliant service these users will continue to appreciate library staff.  If we annoyed any of them once, they would not be back.  By fighting to be as open and as helpful and as neutral as possible librarians fight for these users and, when the times comes, when times are hard as they are now, something wonderful happens.  The user fights as well.
  • Access, schmacess: libraries in the age of information ubiquity –  Eli Neuburger from Ann Arbor District Library speaks at an Australian conference in February 2012.  Superb talk about what the internet means for public libraries and suggestions for the future including “share stuff” and “fight for the user”.   Includes successful events including lego competitions, gamification, getting volunteers as players on computers playing for points.  “There’s a bright future for librarianship, just not on the desk”. 
  • British Library explores a thousand years of UK landscape – Daily Star.   “… new British Library exhibition on how landscape permeates some of the best British writing, and how writers have responded to space and place. The 150 works chosen to represent more than 1,000 years of British literature in “Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands” also throw up some unlikely comparisons. Where else would you see the original manuscript for “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” together with the six-centuries-older “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” the earliest surviving manuscript of the medieval romance poem?”
  • Dying tradition – Business World (India).  “2012 marks the centenary of the library movement in India. Today there aren’t enough libraries in the country; there is a great need to invest in them, both financially and emotionally” … “There is no doubt that internet activity has eaten into the library movement and there is plenty of funding required to maintain a library, especially with high standards. Maybe CSR initiatives or public-private partnerships could be encouraged some more to establish more such social places. In fact, William Kamkwamba, who’s been working on creating libraries across Africa, realised that libraries can act as engines of economic growth.”
  • How libraries can buy DRM free ebooks – Deborah Fitchett (USA).   If every library donates a small amount then some books can be available to them free forever via unglue.it. 
  • Portage library to offer telescope for patrons to check outPeter Scott’s Library Blog.  “When the stars come out, patrons of the Portage District Library will be able to see them more clearly. The library is the first in the state to offer a telescope that library card holders can check out thanks to a donation by the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society.”
“What springs to mind when you read these names: Bolton, Suffolk, Oxfordshire with Kent, Cornwall, Lewisham, Croydon and Greenwich? Library closures, I hear you cry. Screwing up the future of Upper Norwood library, I hear you wail. Handing over perfectly good libraries to an array of trusts and other providers, I hear you snort. Well yes, all of those, but there is something else. Yes, you’ve got it, they are all participants in the ironically entitled Future Libraries Programme. Laugh, I almost did!” Alan Gibbons.


Aberdeenshire – Rated “excellent” by Scottish Library and Information Council.   

Local News

  • Aberdeenshire – Top marks for local libraries – Donside Piper.  Aberdeenshire Council Libraries are celebrating after being given the stamp of approval by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC). The council service was officially deemed excellent by the independent advisory body, following a visit by representatives of SLIC to assess the quality of library provision to local communities.”
  • Brent – Leader of Brent Council insists he was unaware of Kensal Rise Library events despite claims councillors knewBrent and Kilburn Times.   “, Cllr James Powney (Labour), lead member for environment and neighbourhoods, said he was told about three or four weeks ago that officers would move in this week to remove the Victorian reading room’s books. He said: “Yes I knew in advance, as indeed everyone.”
“We welcome the pledge made by the new Leader of Brent Council, Muhammed Butt, to host an urgent summit with All Souls College and community campaigners who are looking to take over the running of the Kensal Rise Library building . We urge All Souls College, (an Oxford college that has an endowment of over £230 million) to support this” Kensal Rise Library online petition.

  • Half of regular library users have stopped borrowing books – BNCTV.   “A report to be considered by councillors on Monday, 21st May, reveals that 5,500 people, who used to be active borrowers, have stopped using Brent libraries since the closure of Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton libraries last October.” … “Monthly releases of library visitor numbers have shown that the overall number of library visits has fallen by about a fifth compared to the same period before the six libraries were closed. The need for a local library service is demonstrated by the popular Barham Volunteer Library, which is attracting dozens of people every Saturday despite being open only three hours a week and without the support of professional library staff.”
“Remember all the bland, posturing nonsense by book butchering councils that by closing libraries, sacking staff, reducing opening hours and cutting the book fund they would somehow make libraries leaner, fitter, ‘sexier’ and so much more twenty first century, yah? Well, here is the evidence. Mirroring similar catastrophic falls in borrowing in Lewisham after closures, the Brent public, robbed of their local libraries, have simply stopped using the service. This was as inevitable as the self-serving delusional claptrap spouted by council apparatchiks droning about world class services while those established over a century are cut to shreds.” Alan Gibbons.

  • Greenwich – Union claims victory in library row – This is Local London.   “Unite now claims that negotiations following the strikes have led to library workers not being put on GLL contracts, keeping the same terms as previously. Regional officer for the union Onay Kasab said: “I am proud of the fact that these workers were prepared to stand up and fight in defence of pay and conditions. “It is only because they have made clear that they will strike, that these assurances have been won.”
  • Hertfordshire – Tapes for blind service switch will triple titles – Hemel Today.   “A service providing audio books for blind and visually impaired people is being handed over to a charity by Herts County Council in a move which will triple the number of titles on offer. It was agreed by cabinet on Monday that County Hall’s Cassettes for Blind People service will be taken up by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).”
  • Richmond – Replacement of the Library Management System – London Borough of Richmond on Thames.   Richmond look set to move away from the DS Open Galaxy system and the London Libraries Consortium, moving instead to the Civica Spydus system and the SELMS consortium.

Surrey – No gruffalos, but children have a right good read – Get Surrey.  “o mark London 2012’s UK Inspire Day, Surrey County Council organised The Big Read for Small Children event at the Forestry Commission’s Alice Holt Forest in Farnham, to encourage parents to read with their children.”

  • Wandsworth – Friends of York Gardens Library and Community Centre – Lloyds Banking.  This funding provides a hugely welcome shot in the arm for a much-loved children’s library in a struggling part of north Battersea. How we’ll use the money: we would aim to identify, recruit and train additional volunteers for homework club. This is a 2-hour weekly session for children aged 7-14, run after school finishes. It aims to help children who may not receive parental assistance with homework and school progress (for example, because English is not their parents’ first language).”
York Gardens Library and Community Centre (YGLCC) has been shortlisted by Lloyds Banking Group Community Fund to potentially win £5,000 to support the projects that we run for local young people. The money would be used to help ensure that we can continue to run activities like our much valued homework club for 7-14 year olds. You can vote to support YGLCC by clicking on the link below, and following the instructions or by texting VOTESW5 to 61119.”

Three big stories


There have been three big stories in the news over the last week.  By far the biggest in terms of media coverage has been the latest stage in the Kensal Rise Library emergency.  The power of the local community to mobilise against the attempted emptying of the building and a partical success in delaying it continues to show that councils close libraries against the wishes of the local community at their peril.  There has been coverage in the Telegraph, Guardian and the Independent with even the Toronto Star picking up the story.
The other media story has been the other ongoing London crisis of the Upper Norwood Joint Library.  Croydon’s Cllr Bashford has got to be seriously regretting her “book token” comment of a while ago and, possibly, her career choice after what appears to have been angry meeting of 200 library users who squarely blame her council for the problems, despite her best efforts to pass the buck onto Lambeth.
Finally, a story that has not hit the papers but has had great resonance in the library profession is the revelation earlier this week that CILIP does not have a policy clearly against substitution of paid workers by volunteers.  Johanna Bo Anderson, quoted below, gives a “campaigner” view on the matter which will resonate with many.


  • Co-operative councils ask residents to design the public services they need – Guardian.  “We have now launched the Lambeth Youth Co-operative, are consulting on co-operative libraries and community hubs and will extend this approach across the council’s portfolio of services.”
  • Crux of the matter: examining the “why” of our daily practice – National Library of New Zealand.  A look at public libraries using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  “Does my library restrict, or enhance, conversations? Through conversations we make connections. We learn. We develop understandings and we share our wisdom. For library spaces, this requires a layout that accommodates both noise and quiet.  We need to deliver services that accomodate different types of learning. We need to encourage group activities as well as individual spaces.”
  • Volunteer libraries – Ian Clark. “A selection of comments on the revelations around CILIP’s “Policy on the Use of Volunteers in Public Libraries: A Review” document.”
  • CILIP and “job substitution”: library staff and service users are left standing alone – Johanna Bo Anderson’s Blog.   “Opposition to volunteer run libraries and opposition to “job substitution” are not one and the same. The fact is that they no longer have a clear stance. Their policy now really does not mean much to me. In my view, it is a woolly keep-every-one-happy-and-possibly-confused policy. It is entirely open to interpretation which is consequently to the detriment of the profession.”
“Personally I am totally against “job substitution”. If you need a volunteer to do a job then the post is not redundant, if it is not redundant, do not sack someone then get someone to do it for nothing….only to then spend money training a volunteer when you have placed a trained member of staff on the dole queue. I disagree with the conclusion made by Public Libraries News.  It is not “understandable” for CILIP to be anything other than opposed to ”job substitution”.  For a professional body to take a weak position regarding the replacement of its members by untrained volunteers is totally unacceptable.”

“I am not a member of CILIP. It concerns me greatly that none of the CILIP members I have spoken to knew about this discussion or the change in policy and were only alerted to it by my rantings. We are currently experiencing the biggest upheaval of the library service the profession has ever seen, an upheaval which will change the nature of CILIP and its current/potential membership, yet only a very few people seem aware of this. Librarians and library staff need a strong voice now more than they ever have. Currently it feels like no one at all is on our side apart from service users, even at the highest levels. If it still has not quite sunk in yet then I strongly suggest you read this.”

  • Future of library servicesCLOA (Conference).  “This 7th National Conference will bring together senior-level library and information management professionals from local authorities and the wider cultural sector in order to discuss emerging policy issues and share best practice from across the country. ” Ed Vaizey to speak.  “Hear from the Government on their vision for the future of library services”
  • Libraries for all – Key Note Blog.  SoA’s letter urges Gibb to support children’s literacy by making school libraries a statuary requirement in both primary and secondary schools. Wait, what? The news that it wasn’t legal requirement to have a library in schools was a complete shock to me. My experience has largely been in the primary system and all the schools that I have been lucky enough to spend time with have had a library – or at least a space dedicated to reading.”
“Forget stricter discipline, longer working hours, or lengthy phonics tests. What children need are books, a place to read them, and a spark of inspiration. Universal access to great libraries must be the first stepping stone along this path.”

  • No Futures library programme – Stop the Privatization of Public Libraries.   Lists those authorities which were part of the Future Libraries Programme.  “Make of it what you will, all i’ll say is that without exception every authority that participated in the programme has cut their library service, this includes library closures, cuts to opening hours, jobs and stock funds, volunteer run libraries and privatisation.”


Local News

… nothing more will happen in terms of the transfer of deeds for now. He wants to meet with us (just us, initially – tripartite meeting later) next week and no clearing of the library will happen before then, he says. As regards the books, he says he needs to allow them to be taken and redistributed, and the council also needs the computers. I argued the point on books and we can argue further next week. But significantly he agreed that the council would not remove shelves, tables or chairs. And he will make sure they don’t remove the large murals painted for the library, which is great. So the property transfer is on hold and we have a chance to take stock. And for once there’s the prospect of face-to-face discussions on a way forward. Obviously we need to be careful that Mo (as he is known) is not buying us off with bland assurances only to sell us down the river later. But so far so good.Brent – Kensal Rise Library Campaign (via email).
    • Library campaigners compile damning report – Harrow Observer.  “Campaigners fighting to save a treasured library centre compiled a detailed report of what they claim are Brent Council’s ‘failings’ with regard to a public consultation, and sent it to each member of the authority.”  Willesden Green report is called “Broken Promises” … “The council has hit back at the document saying it ‘considers much of it to be highly inaccurate and misleading’. But when The Observer asked the it to state which parts of the document are incorrect, it declined to do so.”
    • How our fight for Kensal Rise library has drawn the community together – Guardian (Comment is Free).  “By the time the alarm went up, there were about a dozen people inside, packing up all of the books and two giant trucks double parked on the narrow street outside. It should all have proceeded smoothly: just a day of heavy lifting. But something happened: as neighbours hurried off to work, they sent back heartbroken texts and emails reporting what was happening. Within minutes, local residents had started massing on the doorstep. By 9am, there were about 30 of us….”
      “This is where we take our babies to look for their first books, where our children can study in safety, where we use the computers to draft our CVs and look for jobs, where our grandparents go to get their large-print books and bump into their neighbours. We are willing to invest thousands of volunteer hours per year, fund-raise tirelessly, plan, dream and scheme to keep it going. All we need is a fair chance.”

    • Campaigners force delay in removing Kensal Rise library books – Telegraph.  “Labour leader Butt, 45, talking to the Telegraph this morning, said: “I will talk to the library campaigners and arrange a meeting with them.The removal men will not be going back to Kensal Road Library today and I will be having talks with council officers and other parties on the council about the situation. Then we will have fresh dialogue with the campaigners. I have spoken before to campaigners and understand that taking the books away means that it will no longer technically be a library. “But the library has been shut for six months and the council agreed with the owners, All Souls, that the stock – all the books and computers – would be transferred to other users rather than going to waste. At least this way, library users elsewhere in the borough can benefit. But the books do need to be removed and that will happen. But you must remember that my hands are tied by central legislation and the cut backs that have been enforced on us””
    • Fight to save historic library grips London communityToronto Star.  “The books belong to the council and were to be redistributed among the borough’s remaining six libraries, which are easily accessible by public transit, are open long hours and have more services, John said. Kensal Rise was originally established to help educate working-class people, she said, but has been taken over by “mostly middle-class people who want (the library) preserved for them.” Libraries, she said, must adapt to the times. “Libraries that work best are the ones that are in busy places,” she said, not small branches on residential streets. Kensal Rise only has 45,000 visits per year, she added.”
    • Residents battle to preserve library gifted to community by Mark TwainIndependent.  “A group of protesters became a figurehead for the host of anti-library closure campaigns across the country…”“These are the children who will not be able to use the library,” said 40-year-old Jodi Gramigni, indicating towards her two-year-old son Marcello. “This community had a place to go, regardless of their background or culture and they (the council) are stripping it away from us out of spite.”.  Article says stripping of library ended due to police concerns over disruption.
    • New leader of Brent Council rules out reopening any of the closed library branches – Brent and Kilburn Times. “ “If you are asking me if I am going to open Kensal Rise Library or Preston Library, then the answer is no. “We can’t go back on a decision. They have been taken by the Executive. The Executive has not changed much and the position cannot change.””
    • Library protesters mount 24-hour guard – London Evening Standard.  “Campaigners fighting the closure of Kensal Rise library have begun guarding it around the clock to prevent Brent council removing books and equipment. Mothers and pensioners are among those working in shifts as security guards to stop council contractors from trying to strip the library, which was closed last year because of budget cuts.”
“Author Alan Bennett is understood to be in talks with All Souls College, Oxford, which owns the building, to try to keep the books at Kensal Rise.”

    • Kensal Rise campaigners gain another day – Guardian.  This was the only story on Page 3 of the Guardian yesterday.  “Eighteen months after Brent council announced plans to shut six libraries in the borough, including Kensal Rise, and three months after the supreme court decided that no further appeal would be heard against the council’s decision, many campaigners were struggling to come to terms with the notion that the last books were on the verge of leaving the premises, rendering the imposing Victorian building, quite unequivocally, an ex-library.”
I can’t make sense of it or understand why Brent are acting in such a bloody-minded way,” he said.”It shows a hatred of the big community and the big society. It’s a completely irrational situation where everyone is a loser and it’s very sad. It’s a victory for ignorance.””

    • Tim Lott: Brent Council models itself on “Goodfellas” – Independent.   “It’s the Goodfellas theory of politics – that local councils are more like mob bosses than rational actors. They hate losing face. Dey run dis turf, not punk civilians. Everything can go to hell so their mob logic is sustained.”
  • Croydon/Lambeth – Packed public meeting hears pleas to save Upper Norwood Library – This is Croydon Today.  Primary school children joined a passionate public meeting and delivered a simple message to Croydon Council: “Don’t close Upper Norwood Library.” More than 200 library users – both young and old – packed into the Salvation Army Hall, in Westow Street, to make their strong feelings clear.” … “To a rapturous applause one resident questioned how it was “beyond the wit of elected politicians” to get together and continue running the service. Ms Bashford said: “I do listen and that’s why I come and do these meetings. I don’t have to do them, I choose to do them. We’re not questioning the work that’s done in the library, we know it’s good. “What we are doing is trying to find an alternative way, because the joint agreement is not in place, to look at provision of library services in Upper Norwood.””
    • Bashford “bashed” at library consultation – Crystal Palace Local.   “What we want as a community is for you to work together with Lambeth to continue to provide a library service. “If it’s so  difficult to have that conversation would you let us facilitate a discussion with Lambeth? “It’s a shame you took the decision before you consulted.” Long report looking at all of the issues.
    • Illegal behaviour suggested at volatile Upper Norwood Library meeting – Croydon Guardian.   Campaigner said ““The 112-year-old Upper Norwood Joint Library has survived two world wars, the great depression the three day working week and numerous recessions but now faces its greatest threat from Croydon Council flouting its legal agreement.””.  Another campaigner tells Ms Bashford “You treated us with contempt. I don’t expect elected members of Croydon Council to behaviour in such a way that made me fell less than worthless.””.  Worries that consultation is skewed.  Lambeth has agreed to continue funding its share of the library but Croydon refusing.
  • Dudley – Library due for £200k revamp – Express & Star.   “Over the coming months, the library will be decorated and reorganised to make it easier for people to find books, CDs and other items available to borrow. Most of the existing shelving and carpet, which has been in place for more than 40 years, will be replaced in areas used by visitors. Bosses have warned that there will be some disruption to services while the work is carried out. The total cost of the improvement work will be £208,000, and the plans have been drawn up following feedback from library users.” … “A Health Exchange service will also be set up at the library in partnership with NHS Health Exchange trainers, to offer advice to visitors on health issues.”
  • Leeds – Trio of Leeds libraries saved from closure threat –  Yorkshire Evening Post.  “Leeds City Council’s executive board has approved initial plans for community asset transfers of Shadwell, Rawdon and Drighlington libraries.”
  • Sefton – Council begins its review into the future of Southport’s libraries – Crosby Herald.   “A 12-week consultation is under way with residents, and library users being asked to complete a questionnaire online or in writing”
  • Surrey – Library plans “like Monty Python’s dead parrot” – Get Surrey.   “Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition at the county council, Councillor Hazel Watson, said: “Since the original announcement of the community-partnered libraries proposals – for the county’s libraries to be run by volunteers – we have seen Molesey library withdrawn from the plan, part-time paid staff allocated to libraries and the threat of ongoing staff training costs, all meaning that the plan can no longer be saving the county council money. “In other words, the often-stated reason that the county council is pushing ahead with the plans to save them from closure no longer adds up.“The only reason the plans are still being pursued is dogma, and the plans, like the famous Monty Python sketch, are a dead parrot nailed to the perch to give an impression of still being alive.””

New leader aborts attempt to clear Kensal Rise after protest

Brent Council, infamous for its high-handed library closures, has a new Leader in Muhammed Butt tonight.  One of his first actions was stopping, after being made aware of the protest outside it, the attempted clearance of Kensal Rise Library. This had started early this morning (two reports say 7.30am, one 8.30am) on the old leader, Ann John’s, last day of office.  The Council deny that this was a move to prevent Mr Butt from reversing her decision to close libraries.  The timing was apparently a coincidence.  The fact that a crowd of 50 people gathered to stop the unannounced clearance, even linking arms, shows all too well how important libraries are to their community and the wisdom of such a u-turn.  It is too early to see if the change in person at the top represents a change in the Council’s embarrassing (not least for the newly energetic and encouraging stance of the national Labour Party) attitude to libraries but it is at least a hopeful sign.  That it is no more than a sign is shown by the attitude of the new leader in Oxfordshire who has gone on record as saying that the move to partly staff half of the libraries in that county with volunteers will continue on his watch.


“CILIP must, surely, have foreseen that removing the policy in 2010 would open the floodgates. With one’s enemy a short distance from the gates it was wrong to have deliberately left them ajar — making it well nigh impossible to close them against the forces pressing up upon their feebly-constructed barricades in 2012. The introduction of a two-tier, postcode lottery library service is now well under way. This would seem to have been materially assisted by CILIP and the SCL going down the route of, at best, pragmatism and, at worst, compromise and appeasement. Frontline and junior management jobs have been acknowledged as expendable, whilst those fortunate enough to have secure positions in senior posts will reign over a service that has been mutilated beyond recognition. The production of a “discussion document” of this nature implies that the de-professionalisation of the service is not anathema to CILIP, nor to the SCL, and that their defence of the library service cannot be described admirable or robust. Why is a non-member commenting in this manner ? Because the service people rely on is in crisis.” Shirley Burnham.

I totally agree with Shirley. CILIP and the SCL should have come out with a strong message that they would under no circumstances support the replacement of paid staff with volunteers and the replacement of a comprehensive and efficient statutory service with a network of fragmented ‘community libraries'” Alan Wylie.

  • Selling the family silver (or a day at an Arts Council libraries consultation workshop) – Stop the privatization of public libraries.  Campaigner dismayed at the makeup of the audience for the workshop and for the pro-volunteering and pro-divesting viewpoint of some of the delegates … causing him to walk out.  “My group had Julie Hall, Service Development Manager, Information and Heritage, Lewisham, Darren Taylor, he of the Eco Computer Systems Lewisham community libraries fame, a Camden Campaigner, a Volunteer Coordinator and someone else to do with volunteering! The discussion got rather heated when the Camden campaigner started to taunt the Lewisham contingent and when I said to the Volunteer Coordinator “how do you think that I feel having built up 20+ years of knowledge and skills only to be told that a volunteer can do my job”, she said “that’s what I thought when I took up the challenge, am I supposed to do all this” When I brought up the issues of data protection, customer service, stock selection, etc I was told that “all these things can be easily learnt or overcome”!”
  • Society of Authors urges Gibb to make school libraries statutory – BookSeller.   “The Society of Authors has written to schools minister Nick Gibb urging him to support children’s literacy by making primary and secondary school libraries a statutory requirement. SoA general secretary Nicola Solomon told Gibb that over the past decade school libraries and library services had been “undervalued and neglected” and that the absence of school libraries and trained librarians was “deplorable”. Citing “proven links” between reading and attainment, Solomon said: “It is our belief that this needs to change and that all primary and secondary schools should be required by law to have a library, and dedicated librarians should be compulsory in secondary school and all but the smallest primary schools.”

Local News

  • Brent – What did for Ann John? – Wembley Matters.  “As the dust settles on the Brent Council leadership changes it is worth reflecting on the reasons behind the ousting of Ann John and what it means for the future. The libraries issue, both the closures and the redevelopment of the Willesden Green Centre, has been the most contentious aspect of Council policy. The presentation as ‘transformation’ rather than closure; the labelling of opponents as self-interested, unrepresentative and middle class; the ignoring of petitions; the suggestion that cheap books were readily available at Tesco; all riled local citizens and the energetic and resourceful campaigners kept the issue in the local press and crucially on the national media agenda. Nationally, Brent Labour’s library policy became an embarrassment for the Labour leadership …”.  However, her successor may be little different.
    • Wembley Matters: What did for Ann John? – Preston Library Campaign. 
    • Lobby the Brent Executive: 6.15pm Brent Town Hall – Preston Library Campaign.  “This Monday – 21 May – Brent’s Executive will consider a ‘Progress Report’ on the implementation of the Libraries Transformation Project (library closures to you and me). This remarkable report (which you can read on Brent’s website) barely mentions the huge drop in visits to Brent’s libraries since last October. It barely mentions the huge drop in books issued by Brent’s libraries. It does claim that 46% of the users of the closed libraries have moved to other libraries, but doesn’t reach the obvious conclusion – namely that the other 54%, many thousands of people, have been deprived of their library service.”
    • New Brent leader is urged to reverse library closuresLondon Evening Standard.  “Mr Butt, who ousted the former leader by two votes at the local Labour Party’s annual meeting, refused to be drawn on his plans for the remaining libraries. But he said: “I’ve lived in Brent all my life and with all the cuts from central government I thought having a fresh approach would help us to deliver services we should be delivering for all of Brent.””
    • Protest success as council stops library clearance – Harrow Observer.   “A peaceful protest outside a local library successfully halted the council’s plan to strip the building of its treasured books. More than 50 people gathered outside Kensal Rise Library today after council workers turned up with security staff to empty the building of its stock.”
    • Council deny claims Kensal Rise library was stripped of its boks today to prevent it from being reopened – Brent and Kilburn Times.   “Claims that attempts to strip an axed library branch of it books was carried out today to stop the new council leader from reversing the decision has been denied.”
    • MP “disappointment” at clearing of library stock – Harrow Observer.   “Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central, has issued a statement this afternoon as a crowd of more than 50 people carry out a peaceful protest outside the library. She said: “This is another sad day for Brents libraries. Campaigners have tried to work with officials to keep Kensal Rise library open, but have been ignored at every turn. “They (Labour leaders) must stop removing books immediately and talk to campaigners and local residents before its too late.Councillor Butt has to get a grip of this matter if he wants to show that he can make a difference as leader of the council.””
    • Kensal Rise campaigners barricade doors – BookSeller.  “Around 50 campaigners have gathered outside the Brent library and prevented eight council workers accompanied by Brent’s head of libraries Sue Mackenzie, from taking the boxes of books, according to a report in the Guardian.
    • Protesters barricade doors of Kensal Rise library in bid to stop the council clearing shelves of books – Independent.   “Council officers moved in at around 8:30 this morning to begin the job of clearing Kensal Rise Library…And old sign posted in the window reads “the library will remain closed in the morning for a staff meeting and will reopen at 2pm. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
    • New leader of Brent Council unaware that Kensal Rise library would be stripped of its contents today – Brent & Kilburn Times.   “The new leader of the council has admitted that he had no idea Kensal Rise library was going to be stripped of its contents this morning (Wednesday). Cllr Muhammed Butt, who will step into the role formally this evening, told the Times he is trying to find out ‘exactly what is going on’ following today’s developments.”
    • Crowd gathers outside library as workers remove books – Harrow Observer.   “The crowd gathered outside Kensal Rise Library this morning, and are still watching the team of council staff strip the closed library. The staff are being supported by security guards. Campaigners are standing arm-in-arm outside the building in an attempt to stop the process and express their discontent at the latest move.”
    • Campaigners block council’s efforts to remove books from Kensal Rise Library – Guardian.  “One campaigner, local resident Richard Cross, described the council’s behaviour as “needlessly destructive”. The 44-year-old lawyer added: “It’s the action of an attitude of vendetta by the outgoing regime at Brent council. They cannot justify this by claiming lack of funds because we have said we’ll run it as a voluntary library and open it up for the community at no cost to the taxpayer.”

 “Council workers arrived at Kensal Rise Library this morning to clear the books, marking the end of local people’s efforts to save it from the cuts. Campaigners are furious. Jodie Gramigni, a local resident, explains what has happened.”.  This done on the last day of Ann John’s control of the Council.” Kensal library a ransacking ahead of Butt’s inauguration – Preston Library Campaign. 

  • Croydon – “Book Token” takes one in the Eye on library closures – Inside Croydon.   “The Philistines running our council have sounded the death knell for more than a century of learning and reading at Upper Norwood Joint Library with this brief paragraph in their Annual General Meeting papers which has just been posted on the Croydon Council website: 4.2.10 Upper Norwood Joint Library (article 11 schedule1) The Agreement with Lambeth Council establishing this joint committee has been terminated and so there is no longer a requirement to appoint to this joint committee. This is all despite the overwhelming and widespread public opposition to the library’s closure, with a campaign meeting even planned for tonight. And it is all in spite of Councillor Sara Bashford and Gavin Barwell MP‘s solemn public promises that no Croydon libraries will be closed.“.  Includes full text of Library News article in the Private Eye on the decision.
  • Hampshire – Consultation starts on plan to move Winchester library into discovery centre – Romsey Advertiser.   “People are being asked for their views on moving Stanmore library in Winchester to a community centre. As previously reported, the county council is planning to close the library in Wavell Way to save £35,000 a year.” … “The branch in the middle of a council estate would be the first of the council’s 53 libraries to close under budget cuts aimed at saving £450,000. North Baddesley library is also threatened with closure while other libraries across the county had opening hours reduced.”
  • Hertfordshire – Talking books service replaced – Review.  “Politicians have given the go-ahead to a proposal to replace a free service providing visually-impaired residents with talking books with a subscription to a charity library. At a meeting of Hertfordshire County Council’s cabinet on Monday, members voted unanimously to scrap Cassettes for Blind People (CfBP) in favour of a similar service operated by the Royal National Institute for the Blind.”
  • Lincolnshire – Library proposals are a “tragedy” – Skegness Standard.   “Skegness authors William Hussey and Margaret Dickinson have both condemned Lincolnshire County Council’s money saving suggestion threatening up to 260 jobs, which they fear represent a backward step for society with far reaching adverse consequences that will be hard to reverse.”
“Libraries have always been a great resource for people to gain access to knowledge, entertainment and education and it would be a tragedy if that was diminished in any way. With the best will in the world volunteers are not going to be able to offer the same service trained librarians can offer,” she said. As regular library users for research purposes, both authors have praised the expert assistance they receive from librarians in Skegness and would hate to see any of those employees lose their jobs to be replaced with an inferior service.”

  • Northumberland – New library helps double the number of visitors – Berwick Advertiser.  Wooler’s new library, which is blazing a trail in council and community partnership, will be officially opened on May 17 at its new home in Padgepool Place. Since the library was moved to a new extension in the Cheviot Centre in November, the number of book loans has risen 20 per cent, visitor numbers have increased by 100 per cent and membership is up 65 per cent compared to the same period last year. Library opening hours have tripled – instead of opening just two days a week it now opens six days in winter and seven days in summer.”
  • Oxfordshire – New county leader: libraries – Oxford Times.   “There will be no u-turn on plans to staff Oxfordshire’s libraries with volunteers, Mr Hudspeth warned. Almost half of the council’s libraries will be partly staffed with volunteers, but earlier this month County Hall was unable to say how many volunteers had so far come forward. Mr Hudspeth said: “If you look at a lot of things that go on in libraries there are already a lot of volunteers running services, including young children’s reading clubs, silver surfers clubs and community projects. It is not as if nothing is happening in libraries at the moment. “But I cannot see all libraries being manned by volunteers – that is not in the plans – and the underlying thing is that we are not closing any libraries in Oxfordshire.””