“Tell me this is not systematic, deliberate neglect”

Comment

News from around the world today shows that people love libraries and continue to use them.  In California, there’s more users but they’re cutting budgets.  In Canada, the inhabitants of Toronto are making it very clear what they think about proposals to close libraries and about, especially, privatisation of libraries.  The people are saying one thing and the budget-holders another.  To look at the picture of Swillington Library (Leeds) below is to see what is wrong summarised in one library.  Reading the anonymous comments about it shows the strength of feeling such neglect stirs.  Looking at the size of the petitions (normally in the thousands) signed to protest a library closure is another way of assessing this feeling.  The same of it is that public libraries represent a comparatively small amount of money compared to other services.  Nationally, it sounds a lot – £1 Billion – but that is nothing compared to other national provision.  To put it into perspective, the Ministry of Defence has currently mislaid (yes, lost) £6 billion pounds of material.  To put it another, the £6.5m bonus for Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond is the same amount of money as running 144 local libraries for a year.
396 libraries (320 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

News

  • As demand for libraries grow, services shrink – Sacramento Bee (USA).  Chart shows, indeed, how demand is increasing but services shrinking in California.
  • Booktrust awards suspended - Alan Gibbons.  “Booktrust have announced via their website that two high-profile awards, The Booktrust Early Years Award and The Booktrust Teenage Prize, will be suspended this year due to a lack of funds.”
  • Digital Ink Drop - “Out of the tsunami of closures and crises facing UK libraries, a new company, Digital Ink Drop, is providing a lifeline designed to generate fervour for reading and writing amongst children and young people….The financial crisis in UK libraries has led to the creation of two new subscription based Stories from the Web sites, for families and schools, managed by Digital Ink Drop (www.digitalinkdrop.org), a not for profit company.”
“Libraries and librarians provide gateways to learning for all members of our communities; access to information, narratives and self empowerment regardless of their personal circumstances, income and background. I congratulate Kent County Council and salute all such innovative projects. In difficult times such as these, the role of library and information professionals can’t be overestimated.”  (Alan Gibbons announces award). 

  • Kent wins Libraries Change Lives award - BookSeller.  “More than 1,000 adults with learning disabilities have taken part in library activities in Kent since April 2010, including being employed as paid librarians and choosing collections of books and DVDs, plus taking up volunteering and work experience opportunities.”  [Kent is losing 83 full time equivalent library staff in 2011/2, to be replaced be machines and volunteers]  Story also as Kent celebrates library accolade - Guardian. “The project works, Taylor says, because of a “unique partnership” between statutory organisations, charities, volunteers and carers, but especially because of the direct input of the adults that the services are aimed at. Whatever the future holds for libraries, she says the commitment to Making a Difference won’t waver. “This is now core to what we do.”
  • Library rescue bid goes to High Court – London Evening Standard.  Brief decription of Brent campaign.
  • Measuring the value of public libraries - Voices for the Library.   Useful links on putting a price on measuring the economic and social value of libraries.
  • Media loves libraries: let’s make the most of it - Thoughts of a Wannabe Librarian.  Ian Clark from “Voices for the Library” details how interested the press/TV are in libraries and how one can place a story, including on primetime national television news.
  • Poll shows three-quarters of Toronto residents oppose closing library branches as a way of cutting costs and equally oppose library privatisationCNW (Canada).   64% “strongly disagree” that their local library should be closed.  71% against library privatision cf. 55% for other council services. “The poll also shows that Torontonians feel branch closures are a political issue. More than half say if they knew their local councilor supported closing library branches, it would affect their vote in the next municipal election “a great deal” (55%)”. 1.25m Torontonians have a library card (2.7m pop)…. Union leader says “Just walk right in, Mr. Mayor and bring along your million-dollar consultants if you like. Talk to the people you meet there and ask them where the gravy is”

Changes

  • Bromley St Pauls Cray and Mottingham libraries would be reduced from 43 hours per week to just 14 while Chislehurst and West Wickham would be slashed from 44 hours to 20.”  Campaign group:  Bromley Cuts Concern.  Considering moving libraries to a Trust.
  • Hackney – Campaign Group – Save Hackney Library Service
  • NottinghamshireMistakenly included Wilford Library (closed Sep 2010) as under Nottinghamshire. It was actually closed by Nottingham Council.  This figure was pre April 2011 and so does not affect the headling figure of closures.
  • Swindon – Confirmed that West Swindon Library and North Swindon Library will each be open 10 hours more per week,  Highworth plus 8 hours per week.  Increase made possible “by centralising the enquiry service and changing staff timetables”.  Volunteers may be used to increase opening hours in smaller branches.

Local News

  • Bromley – Library merger nears fruition - Bromley Times.   One hundred in public gallery as decision confirmed.  “Paul Rooney, from Bromley Cuts Concern lobby group, said: “The merger will mean unaccountable Bexley staff and councillors having a say in how our local services are run … It will also mean drastic and unsustainable cuts to essential frontline staff with the consequent loss in service, expertise and local knowledge.”  See also Bexley – Important decisions for Bexley’s library service – “”This is our opportunity to streamline our services so they are as efficient and effective as possible, offering a first class service to library users. The new improved service will provide a modern way forward for both boroughs.”
  • Bolton – Library campaigners want decision delayBolton News.  Council due to announce closures on 28th July.  Ian McHugh of Save Bolton’s Libraries says ““We feel any decision made by the council would be premature, irrespective of its merits, if made without the Department of Culture having an opportunity to consider the proposals, and before hearing the decisions of the courts in the Brent and Gloucestershire cases.” 
  • Dorset – Two options for the future of libraries - Bridport News.  Decision on July 21st and  Lyme Regis: library is savedView Online.  Councillor says Lyme Library is safe [NB. this already announced], now deciding between closing ten and none, down from the original twenty.  “Colonel Brierley said that it was the fifth time that he had been involved in trying to save libraries from closure in Dorset and it was time such uncertainty stopped…We need a clear period going forward and to stop mucking  about with the libraries.”.  Also Ad Lib vow to take legal action over Dorset library cuts - Dorset Echo.  ““As avoiding court action would be so easy, we hope we won’t see Dorset County Council wasting taxpayers’ money on such an unnecessary fight.”

Hackney – Mass lobby of Hackney Council, 20 July 2011 6-7pm - Save Hackney Library Service. “Despite the Mayor and Council pledges to protect libraries from huge budget cuts, management is proposing to cut library staff and services that will lead to the slow death of Hackney’s library service.”.  25% staff cut, 66% less events, cuts in pay/conditions, more volunteers, less opening hours, loss of reference librarians/services/resources.  Smaller libraries like Homerton and Stamford Hill feared by staff to be at risk in 2012.  2000 name petition.

  • Isle of Wight – Campaigners challenge Isle of Wight council over spending - Alan Gibbons.  East Cowes Town Council has £500,000 it has to spend on new building – council will use this money to incorporate library into town council HQ (plus providing public toilets).  Isle of Wight Council has persuaded East Cowes to take over library provision, in apparent contravention of the Local Government Act 2000.
  • Leeds – Swillington Library “Tell me this is not systematic, deliberate neglect” – Voices for the Library.  “there’s a shiny new Tesco Express four times the size across the road. I’d force new Tesco branches to pay for new libraries in areas with inadequate provision to get planning permission. A CSR requirement. They paid money to the local playgroup in the old church next door when they opened two years ago, but not the greater community resource facing the store.”
    “Surrey County Council will be known as the County which does not consult, could not get its sums right and was not even willing to stop – even when it knew it was wrong.”  (Motion to Council, 19th July 2011).

  • Surrey – Proposed motion to halt changes to Surrey Library Service – Information Twist.  Open letter sent to council points out “wrong and inconsistent figures, incorrect rankings of some libraries, incorrect proximity measurements (ie distance between libraries), illogical comparisons, lack of consideration of specific issues relevant to particular libraries, and calculation errors”.  Due to errors, campaigners request postponement of decision to close eleven libraries. 
  • Swindon – Libraries open for longerSwindon Advertiser.   Council bucks national trend by changing staffing hours and “centralising” enquiry service.  
  • Warwickshire – Cuts in library opening hours will lead to drop in visitors, say officials - Leamington Courier.   Independent councillor says “Everybody is prepared to accept you have to cut costs and you can’t guarantee opening hours now are strictly necessary, but to go for 15 hours is such a drastic reduction the people who are using it won’t be able to go.”… “Ayub Khan, head of libraries strategy, admitted cutting hours would reduce demand and said plans to work between councils needed to be agreed to balance savings with outcomes for customers.”
  • Wokingham – More signatures and signing sessions - Save our Libraries.   People “queuing up” to sign petition against privatisation.  Site also points out council does not seem to understand definition of “privatisation” arguing that they are not privatising service while at the same time looking to tender out service to a private company.
  • Wokingham – Saving the libraries - Cllr Prue Bray. “So the Conservatives are torn between trying to pretend it isn’t happening, and trying to dismiss the opposition.  Clearly, by the strength of their reaction, nervousness has set in  The more signatures we get, the more likely they are to back down.  So if you haven’t signed to save the libraries, do it now!”

Southampton and Shropshire library staff could be sacked, rehired on less pay

Comment

Even for those library staff whose libraries are not closing or who are not being made redundant due to the council believing volunteers can do their jobs for free, the times are not good.  Leaving aside the pay freeze, whose effects are dire enough, library workers are also suffering from other cuts.  In Southampton and Shropshire, library staff are being sacked and rehired on contracts which offer lower pay.  Library staff are especially vulnerable to this as they are often paid time-and-a-half for weekends and work part-time.  This means they can have anywhere from a 3% to a 33% (if they only work on Saturdays) pay cut on top of the pay freeze when this “bonus” is terminated … and they’re the lucky ones.  The workers at St Austell Performing Arts Library in Cornwell would probably be happy with a 3% cut at the moment.  So if you see a library worker, give them a kind word.  They need it. Or tell them to go work in Scotland where a pro library campaign seems to have created a notably more favourable environment.
In lighter news, a brilliant artist is at work in Scotland, producing beautiful works of origami linked with pro-library messages.  Have a look at the articles linked below and be impressed, and perhaps a little bit mystified. 

396 libraries (320 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day. 

News

  • Dragon flies in as serial paper folder strikes again Scotsman.com. Intricate dragon is fourth mystery book related artwork left in Edinburgh by anonymous pro-library campaigner. “”A gift in support of libraries, books, words and ideas…”, followed by the message: “Once upon a time there was a book, and in the book was a nest, and in the nest was an egg, and in the egg was a dragon, and in the dragon was a story.” Dragon is carved from pages of an Ian Rankin novel. “The Evening News reported last month how The Filmhouse Cinema, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Poetry Library had all stumbled upon fine mini-artworks fashioned from the pages of books.”.  Previous story shows intricate origami left in Filmhouse Cinema - Mystery masterpieces are the stuff that reams are made of.  
  • Is the Bookless Library still a Library? - Time (USA).  Drexel University Library is bookless, new New York Public Library will be joint e-book/printed book. “The library is a societal tent pole,” says Michael Connelly, best-selling author of The Fifth Witness. “There are a lot of ideas under it. Knock out the pole and the tent comes down.” Connelly says that browsing through physical books brings inspiration of the kind that led him from wandering his campus library’s stacks straight to a writing career. “Can something like that happen in a bookless library? I’m not so sure,” he says.”
    (try not to let the soundtrack put you off)

    • Love Scottish Libraries: A joint approach to advocacy and lobbying - CILIPReport on successful library campaign in Scotland which targetted decisionmakers.  Libraries are noticeably less under threat in Scotland than in England.
    • Minimal, futuristic library and gasp it’s got booksFastcodedesign.  Strongly anti-paper book article is shocked that “Kanazawa Umimirai Library, in Kanazawa City, is like an art gallery for dead trees”.  Architect, however, says it’s a “treasure trove of books … overwhelming physical presence, something that the convenience of electronic and digital books cannot offer”
    • Private firms to run our services - Northern Echo.  “Private firms and charities will be able to demand the right to run almost every public service – from schools and day centres, to libraries and leisure centres – under radical Government plans unveiled yesterday. An ombudsman will rule on whether companies and voluntary groups have been “unfairly precluded” from tendering for contracts held by local authorities, for example.”
    • Public libraries: a free resource for people of any ageKid Companions (Canada).   Strongly pro library piece showing how public libraries have changed and how useful they are, especially for children.  “If you have not passed through the doors of your local library lately do so now.  You will be truly amazed at how most libraries have changed. They are delivering quality library service in new ways and services you never dreamed possible. “.  In Nova Scotia, children are given a library card automatically when they are born.
    • Whichbook - “Whichbook offers choices which are not available anywhere else – mood, emotion, plot shape, type of main character, country the book is set in. And when you find a book you like the look of, you can click through to library catalogues across the UK and to WorldCat to see if it is available in your local branch”

     Changes

    Cornwall – 1 (Performing Arts Library at St Austell may be closed).
    Leicestershire – £443k cut inc. 384 hours per week cut in opening hours.

    Local news

    • Bolton – Libraries court case “will not affect Bolton decision” - This is Lancashire.   Bolton Council think Glos court case does not affect them.  Their legal department says they have had a “robust consultation period”.  However, if it turns out a judicial review is possible, the council says it will not “waste any more time and money until after the outcome of the review.”
    • Cornwall – Artists fight “disastrous plans” to cut library hours - This is Cornwall.   Performing Arts Library at St Austell may either be closed, be drastically cut, or put in an visits-by-appointments-only warehouse.  “Chris Hansell, secretary of Cornwall Drama Association, said the county had a rich performing arts scene which heavily relied on the library to borrow new scripts, music, choral pieces and technical books.”
    “Four weeks on from a decision taken at Cabinet to go out to market test all 13 libraries, and not just the six that were subject of the original consultation, not one official notice has been spotted. Not even a simple A4 notice in any one of Croydon’s libraries. ” Save Sanderstead Library Campaign group.

    • Croydon – Kept in dark over Croydon librariesSanderstead Library Campaign group.  “… would it really have done any harm to have put their suggestion of market-testing to one side and instead considered a cross-party commission into libraries offering the chance of further deliberation of viable options for our libraries? Unsurprisingly, at the time of writing, (20th June) there has still not been an official announcement of the agreement to market-test provision of Croydon’s library services. Anybody might think the Council is trying to keep residents in the dark.” 
    • Dorset – Repair cost estimates put library on hit listDaily Echo.   “Friends of Colehill Library chairman Derek Henderson believes a £66,050 figure for ‘repairs and maintenance’ may lie behind the library’s position on an ‘at threat’ list.  In fact, he says, £45,000 of this hefty sum is for replacing the library windows in five or six years’ time. And a professional architect approached by the Friends believes the building in Middlehill Road could be double glazed for £17,500″ .  Colehill tops the county list for loans to children. 
    • Gloucestershire – Music-man and libraries and me - Art Lot Slot.  “A remarkable achievement by the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries that increases the belief that doing the right thing can still be achieved through conviction, hard work and determination.”
    • Isle of Wight – Council to fight libraries legal injunction - Ventnor Blog.  Council confirms it will fight legal case brought by campaigners. 
    • Isle of Wight – More time for communities to take over librariesIsle of Wight Radio.  Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin volunteers have until the end of July to put business cases together.  Councillor thinks 6, rather than current 11 libraries would still meet statutory requirements, and “would of course be enhanced by the community library network”
    • Leicestershire – Library and museums face hours cut - BBC.   £443k cut on 22 libraries, 2 museums and Record Office.  20,000 opening hours ( = 384 per week).  Councils say resulted from consultation and cuts in opening hours reflect usage.  Campaigner says “Libraries are not just for recreation they’re a cultural and educational facility and a reduction in opening hours will affect people who might not be able to afford expensive entertainment but rely on libraries.”
    • Shropshire – Council sacks all staffUNISON. “… members in Shropshire are considering balloting for industrial action after the council sent letters to all 6,500 of its staff, sacking them and saying that it will re-hire them – if they agree to a pay cut.”

    Southampton – “Armageddon day” in Southampton - UNISON.  All council workers are being rehired (technically being sacked first) with lower pay.   150 library workers went on strike on 11th June.  See also Southampton Council cuts pay while piling £4.2m into reserves also by UNISON.

    • Wokingham – Private libraries will continue “all statutory services”Get Wokingham.   “We are looking to find a experienced organisation, commercial or other to continue to provide all statutory services.” It is hoped interested investors [sic] will have made an offer by January 2012, with any preferred partner being formally approved by the council’s executive next March.”

    Which? Library 2012

    Comments

    The “Open Public Services” white paper launched today by David Cameron allows and strongly encourages the outsourcing of services – specifically including libraries – to private companies, workers co-operatives, charities and to, indeed, pretty much anyone else who fancies taking them over.  It includes the opportunity for parish/town/borough councils to challenge the library-providing council for control of the libraries in their own “hyper-local” area.  Services will be specifically “allowed to fail”.  This is unfortunate timing considering what has happened to Southern Cross care homes today but is perhaps merely accepting, almost codifying,  the reality of already closing services.  
    The Government considers the advantages of allowing anyone to run libraries and other services as more than outweighing any associated problems like bankruptcy, foreign take-over, inexperience, incompetence or excessive profit-taking.  In order to help people make up their minds in this entirely changed local scene, the consumer organisation Which? will be encouraged to survey the scene, leaving the way open to a “Which? Library, November 2012″ edition. 
    There appears to be the strong belief that Public is Bad, Private and Volunteer is Good within all this thinking.  There are signs that is proving a difficult sell in reality to get this message across in places like Croydon who are already considering privatising their libraries.  Private companies, though, are entirely on-message and will doubtless be queuing up for a chance to make a profit from any or all services, even in the case of  libraries where it is arguable whether they are the most obvious cherry on the tree. Whether the public will get used to the idea and cease to do anything but occasionally mutter, as in the case of most already privatised services, or will see it as a step too far is yet to be seen.  An answer may have to wait for the “Which? Government” edition of 2015, otherwise known as a General Election.  Assuming, that is, such a thing has not been privatised by then.
    395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

    News 

    • Cameron to launch public service reform plansPublic Finance. White Paper Open Public Services will encourage parish/town/borough councils, community groups, private companies to take over libraries and other services.  “…the government has been warned that it must ‘hold its nerve’ as unions have already criticised the plans, which will allow companies, charities and community groups to bid to run everything from local health services to schools, libraries and parks“, “UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis added that the plans would lead to ‘poorer quality, high cost services at the mercy of the open market and risky competition’. He added: ‘The collapse today of home care [operators], Southern Cross, should act as a grim warning about what can happen when the private sector takes over public services.’”
    • Challenge to library closures allowedGulf Times.  The efforts of Gloucestershire library campaigners are reported in the Middle East.  “Desmond Clarke, former director of Faber and Faber publishers, said the ruling was “fantastic news” which would “embarrass” Libraries Minister, Ed Vaizey, who has become a hate figure for campaigners.”
    • Three in five of the poorest 11-year olds lack basic literacyIndependent.  “Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Education Endowment Fund (EEF), which is being officially launched tomorrow and carried out the study, said: “The research is a stark reminder of the inequalities facing poor pupils in this country.”.  The current situation with libraries is not mentioned in the article.
    Jeremy Hunt asked about libraries by Mar Dixon of the #savelibraries campaign.  The audio is unclear but appears to say “I know, we see your tweets. Don’t worry.  You know, there’s a process but it’s a locally driven decision.   Local authorities have their budgets, they have their budgetary responsibility and we ["they?"] are very serious about their budgetary responsibilities for libraries.”

    • Ways with words: Penelope Lively kindles publishing row with “e-books for bloodless nerds” view – Telegraph. “The author lamented the fact that books no longer occupy a central place in children’s lives, as they did when she was young.”. Naomi Alderman likes ebooks, pointing out they can be of any length, independent of bookbinding needs. Google Books policy manager says “I like the feel of books, I like to decorate my shelves with books. So I don’t think that eBooks are a death knell for regular books. I think we’ll just have a variety of new products.”. Comments (online and so some inherent bias) are overwhelmingly in favout of e-books.

      Local News

       Royal Courts of Justice
      Brent – High Court dates set to July 19th-20th: all welcome to attend - Save Kensal Rise Library.  Case may last two and a half days. 
      “We’d much rather that the fight to save our libraries did not end up in court,’ says Tim Lee, acting chairman of Ad Lib, ‘but we’ll seek the protection of the law if we have to. As avoiding court action would be so easy, we hope we won’t see Dorset County Council wasting taxpayers’ money on such an unnecessary fight. Its leaders keep telling us how important it is to save money, so why take the risk of a legal challenge when there’s no need to do so?’ Dorset – Ad Lib library campaigner group considers legal action (press release)

      • Dorset – Libraries campaign group “considers legal action” - BBC. “Mike Chaney from Adlib, who is a volunteer at the at-risk Puddletown library, said: “The 1964 Libraries and Museum Act says that councils must provide a ‘comprehensive’ library service, so it all hinges on what ‘comprehensive’ means.”Can you close libraries and keep a ‘comprehensive’ service?” 
      • Durham – Savage cuts ahead but Durham County Council hoards £80.6mWear Valley Mercury.  “Cllr Eddie Murphy, who is leading a campaign to save Glenholme Leisure Centre in Crook, agreed, adding: “It is important to maintain reserves but I do not think the council should be closing leisure centres and libraries.”
      • Milton Keynes – Library review group has its first meetingMK News.  “The group is made up of writers, readers and researchers, students and learners and users of libraries representing communities across Milton Keynes.  They will be participating in a series of three workshops in June and July which will form an important part of the review of library services in the borough which is currently taking place.”
      • Waltham Forest – Leytonstone: 1000 sign petition to save libraryGuardian series.  “Harrow Green Library in Leytonstone is a vital community resource for people in an area blighted by crime, over-crowded housing, poverty and poor health, according to campaigners…. At this stage, with all the known needs in the two adjacent wards of Cathall and Cann Hall, and the promise of more difficult times to come, it is absolutely criminal to remove any positive social and educational force. ”
      • Warwickshire – WCC Special Libraries Overview Scrutiny Committee Part 1: Sign of the TimesWhat’s in Kenilworth.  Meeting held 9.30am Monday means low public turnout. Electronic recording denied to reporter.  Also Part 2: 34 parallel projects - Councillors say no option but to close libraries, some volunteer-groups given extra four weeks after latest deadling of August 19th,  staff cuts confirmed, inaccuracy in maps and statistics. Councillors not sure if Glos legal case will affect Warwickshire.

      Book burning in the USA

      Comment

      As of this moment, it is unclear if the “Book Burning Party” to be held if Troy Public Library (USA) closes is a joke or not.  It may not be.  Certainly, it follows hard on the heels of this weirdly rightwing rant against librarians from a prominent Floridan Republican.  It also ties in with a viewpoint one often sees in library-related “comments” sections that the days of public libraries have passed, that everyone has a Kindle and broadband and librarians should go and find proper jobs and stop costing people taxes.  That this viewpoint is entirely unbased in fact does not come into the “ask the price, not the value” picture.  Sadly, it is fairly easy to see the burning of books, though, in that same nightmarish view.
      395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

      News

      Book Burning Party (USA). Troy Public Library is facing closure if locals do not vote to keep it open with a local tax.  “Book Burning Party” on facebook is planning to celebrate if the vote goes against the library.  Group’s “likes” on Facebook include Kindle (strangely appropriate name) and Fox News.  The group Links to website selling “Book Burning Party” T-Shirts, bags and mugs.  The matter is puzzled over at Library millage debate heats up with signs that suggest book burning.
      This is the same library that Isaac Asimov wrote a letter to in 1971 which said “”[A library] isn’t just a library. It is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you–and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.”.

      • But Mr Darcy, shouldn’t we be taking precautions?Observer.  “And most perplexing – how do you account for a person such as Ed Vaizey, who claims to be a great reader and watches, the picture of indifference, as British libraries are killed off or handed over to untrained volunteers for gradual dismembering? By rights, the simplest, most cautionary fiction should tell him that he will be despised for ever more. Unless we can trace his glib philistinism to a weakness for Jeffrey Archer.”
      • Gloucestershire judicial review on library cuts - Politics Show West  (BBC1).  Interviews clearly intended to suggest that courts should not question the actions of councils or government.  Law firm and local Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood point out that “being accountable does not mean you are above the law”, TV interviewer appears unconvinced and then tries to link it to immigration/human rights (as if human rights are bad thing).  Glos council leader says only way to avoid closing libraries is to cut down on social care.  Programme goes on to show he tried to close those too but stopped before it got to legal action that time.
      “It is interesting how Cllr Hawthorne mentions “democracy” when once in power he does what he wants with no apparent regard for the law and or for what residents want. I think he needs to look up “democracy in the dictionary. When it is time to “kick him out” alas it would be too late for our libraries – hence the court case. If he had told us this was his plan for libraries when he was up for election I doubt he would have got his foot through the door, unsurprisingly he didn’t.” Johanna Anderson, Gloucestershire Campaigner on the Politics Show interview.

      • Google vs. the public libraryAgnostic, maybe (USA).  Public libraries are not in competition with Google.  Search engines are a tool only.  Indeed, public libraries provide internet access so may be said to be an important customer of Google.
      • Judical review of library servicesGood Library Blog.  By leaving legal action to local campaigners, the Government is allowing the courts to define terms of reference, meaning the final decisions could be more embarrassing for them than if they had… “By omitting to use his powers in the way that he should, the minister has indeed opened the door to a much wider discussion- and the possibility of severe criticism both of the conduct of the councils involved and of his own officials- and thereby the implication of serious judicial and public criticism of his own behaviour.”

      Local News
      Brent – An evening with Dame Harriet WalterPreston Library Campaign.   
      This is a fundraiser for the legal challenge.
      • Croydon – Under-threat libraries: a timeline of council deceit?Inside Croydon.  LSSI given far longer time to express an interest in running libraries than others, Wandsworth will be “market testing” in September suggesting that their partnership with Croydon is not a strong one. “After all, the council has already chiselled more than £300,000 out of the libraries annual budget this year, while laying off half the borough’s qualified librarians. Anyone might think that they are deliberately trying to reduce the operation’s costs in advance of a commercial takeover of key libraries by a company given a head-start in what is supposed to be a competitive public tender process.”  Another post on the same subject is Tall tales and strange silences on librariesThat Woman’s Blog. 
      • Hertfordshire - Petition launched against Welwyn Hatfield library move - Times24.  “Cllr Cowan said: “I have been contacted by residents concerned that one of the most important collections in the country will become hidden from view, restricting the work of the many music and drama groups who use the reference, music and drama collections as well as schools, professional musicians and researchers.”
      • Southampton – Council “to axe quarter of staff” - Virgin Media.   Council engaged in cutting library staff is cutting a lot else as well.  “Unite said it had seen a “devastating” report by Southampton City Council setting out its budget and spending priorities until 2015, including setting aside £5 million a year from 2012 to 2014 for redundancies.”
      • Warwickshire – WCC Library Report Part 04: 210 pages and not one picture: people learn from pictures – What’s in Kenilworth.  No charts, graphs, visualisations in the entire report and Part 05: Community Analysis: All libraries WarwickshireReport shows 88% of residents currently in two miles of library, council is trying to dramatically lower this percentage. Impact on Vulnerable is shown as biggest potential impact.  Biggest theme from feedback is loss of community focus and restricting library use.

      The hand that rocks the cradle

      Comment
      “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration”  -Andrew Carnegie

      Cornwall, Croydon, Suffolk and Warwickshire all seem to be planning different things for their libraries.  Cornwall appears to be wanting not only to privatise its libraries but to go after contracts in other councils as well (in many different services and in collaboration with private companies), as a sort of Cornwall Ltd.  Croydon also appear to be going down the privatisation route but doesn’t appear to be proud about it.  Their “market sounding exercise” document is almost impossible to find on their website and, also, there is only a fortnight for private companies to register an interest.  Suffolk also appear to be thinking abut the privatisation or, possibly, the divestment route.  Indeed, to a casual observer, their proposals may not appear to be all that different from those ditched after large protests and the departure of their old Chief Exec.  Finally, Warwickshire have produced a mammoth report for councillors that appears to present foregone conclusions (literally, with the conclusions being printed at both the front and back) about what should happen to the service.  It proposes closures that the report elsewhere clearly shows the public do not want.  The report also shows that only six, not sixteen as claimed in the press, groups have put in business plans for running otherwise closing branches.

      Andrew Carnegie called libraries the “cradle of democracy”.  At the moment, they do not appear to be in the most motherly of hands.

      395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day. 

      News

      • Boost for library campaign as court orders judicial reviewTelegraph.  Surveys current situation regarding legal action against cuts, especially in Gloucestershire and noting celebrity support.
      • Campaign for the Book newsletterAction has moved on from public protest to legal action.  Many councils have shied away from closures but still need watching as cutting services or “divesting” libraries.
      • Reforms will end state control of public servicesTelegraph.”The “state’s monopoly” over the public sector will come to an end under plans to give private companies, voluntary groups and charities the right to run schools, hospitals and council services, David Cameron will announce next week”.  All council services in all councils, including libraries, will be open to private companies bidding for them “The reforms will enshrine in law the “presumption” that public services should be open to outside providers, allowing private companies to run schools and offer municipal services such as maintaining parks and running adult and day care services.”
      • Should we shrink wrap our school libraries?plpnetwork.  Article on the future of school libraries with substantial reference to the future of public libraries.
      • Ellen Forsyth (Consultant at State Library of New South Wales)This Week in Libraries.  “Together with Ellen Forsyth we discuss large scale library collaboration, gaming, tools and much more… Learning without getting overwhelmed.”
      • #uklibchat LIS Student campaigning – Google Docs.  Summary of #uklibchat meeting on twitter between Library school students.  Some interesting points. 

      Changes

      Middlesbrough – Some libraries may close.
       
      Local News 

      • Brent – Cllr James Powney accused of misleading statements to residentsSave Kensal Rise Library.  Cllr said youth services would be protected from the cuts but is closing 6 out of 12 libraries, 50% of whose membership is under 19.  “And he has yet to comment on scandalous revelations in the Evening Standard that Kensal Green – where threatened Kensal Rise Library is situated – has one of the highest child illiteracy rates in the capital.”
      • Cornwall – Council aims hireCornwall Community News.  Cornwall Council wishes to bid for contracts in other organisations in Cornwall and elsewhere via a private sector and other partners.  Libraries, Personnel and other services appear likely to become at least partially privatised.  “Many local authorities are already doing work for their neighbours but without a private sector partner which will cream off the profits. Cornwall’s so-called ‘unique approach’ appears to be based on helping big consultancy firms.”
      • Croydon – Future of Croydon librariesCroydon Council. See also Library services market sounding exercise - Croydon Council – [This page is very difficult to find on Council website].  “Businesses and organisations that may be interested in participating in a possible future procurement exercise are invited to complete and return a questionnaire which would then form the basis of informal discussions with both Councils. That process will include seeking the market’s views on the further development of library services to the benefit of the public, and any alternative delivery models.”.  “Market sounding” is from 4th July to 19th July.
      • Gloucestershire – Residents “ready, willing and able” to run libraryThis is Glos.  “public-spirited Prestbury residents poised to step into the breach to keep their library open will have to wait for the results of a judicial review to find out whether their services will be needed.”.  Article appears to argue that the judicial review into libraries is unpopular amongst library users.
      • Hertfordshire – Save New Barnfield LibraryLiberal Democrats Campaigns.   Central Resources Library to be closed, reference collection going to Campus West Library “if there’s room”,  Lending stock going to non-public access warehouses.  Petition to save library. 
      • Middlesbrough – Mayor’s warning over service cuts - Gazette.  “Libraries and leisure centres could be closed as Middlesbrough Council battles to find millions of pounds of savings. And 400 to 500 jobs are expected to be lost, according to the borough’s mayor.”
      • Suffolk – Reaction to council plans to save Suffolk’s librariesEDP.  “We do not want to see private bidders come here to make profit. A service like a library is incredibly important and it is a public service which should not be governed by a profit motive.” Also County unveils library “models”Bury Free Press.  “The proposed models include an in-house county council business unit, an external but wholly authority owned company or enterprise and an independent company or enterprise managed by the council through contractual arrangements. Whichever model is selected would manage the libraries budget and support services such as the countywide book network, employing staff and training.” 

      • Surrey – Communities need council libraries: join the lobby – Save our Services in Surrey. “The lobby of the council promises to be the biggest protest at County Hall in many years, with each library present aiming to get at least ten protesters there (one even suggested they may book a coach!). Anyone who is interested in saving Surrey’s libraries should join us outside County Hall from 1pm on Tuesday 26th July.”
      • Warwickshire – Libraries in Warwickshire - Warwick West Labour Team News. Ex Warks Libraries HR employee and now Labour councillor expresses sympathy for library staff and worries over long-term future of “divested” libraries. Queries whether cost of redundancy/pensions would actually mean any savings for the council.
      • Warwickshire – Library’s future is in our hands, say villagers - Courier. Kineton parish councillor asks for volunteers to run threatened library. “We have asked the county council if we can share the costs of maintaining the library so that they pay for technical services and we pay for the hire of the space.”
      • Warwickshire – WCC Library Report 02: 11 Recommendations: Welcome to GoogleWhat’s in Kenilworth.   Continuing dissection of report notices the followin (a) the recommendations (to close libraries) are at the front as well as the back (“I am trying to think of a reasonable example where you are told to make a decision, before you hear the evidence”), (b) 14 libraries to have reduced opening hours, supplemented if possible by the use of volunteers, (c) volunteers given until August 19th to prepare business cases, with final decision to be made in October, (d) mobiles to be cut too, (e) yet more cuts next year, (f) bookfund maintained with no cuts, (g) up to 120 staff (50 FTE) to be cut .
      • Warwickshire – WCC Library Report 03: The next 11,000 words: Somewhere to hang my hat - What’s in Kenilworth.   (h) Author argues all points be contested e.g. report argues that cuts will only affect 10% of visits but “would you take away a disabled access ramp in a village, just because only two people use it?”, (i) calls twitter users a “hard to reach” audience (!), (j) 10,000 signatures on petitions asking for libraries to stay open, (k) very importantly, only six groups have provided business cases for running libraries cf the 16 previously claimed by the council.

      Brave, and increasingly bizarre, new world

      Comment

      The news from Warwickshire continues to be dire.  Volunteers in sixteen different library catchments will split between them £100,000 worth of funding and have until August 19th to put forward cases for running their local branch.  In the meantime, the library staff, up to 120 staff of whom are going to be made redundant (on top of a larger number already cut since 2006) are pondering their future.  One hopes none of them choose to do their jobs for free in their soon-to-be Brave New World. From what can be gleaned from news reports, the Suffolk and Cornwall proposals for running their library services are getting increasingly novel and imaginative.  Not only brave, it appears their new worlds will be bizarre as well.
      In recognition of the importance of the story, the Telegraph and the Independent both have printed favourable articles about Thursday’s successful legal hearings.  Both the BBC and ITV local evening news programmes covered it too.  In the unlikely event that the News of the World story does not push it to one side, the Gloucestershire libraries ruling will be discussed on the Politics Show, Sunday 11am on BBC1. No major media, yet, appears to be covering the ongoing monopolistic tendencies of Amazon who appear to be preparing to be the only source of books in a few years time, printed or ebook.
      395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.  

       
      News

      • BA and PA set to oppose Amazon-Book Depository MergerBookSeller.  The Booksellers Association has announced it will formally oppose the merger of Amazon and The Book Depository, with the BA saying that Amazon already had a “de facto monopoly”. Meanwhile, the P[ublishers] A[ssociation] is actively considering opposing the deal.”
      “I wholeheartedly pledge my support to the campaign to save Kensal Rise library. Accessible local libraries are vital to communities and to children. Reading fuels passion, interest and ambition – please don’t take that away.” Nick Cave.

      “Libraries in South Korea are well-maintained and welcoming, and on any given day (at any given time), one can enter a Korean library to find it packed full of people of all ages.  As teenagers chatter and swap books, strangers sit beside one another, scattered around the tables and floors lost in their own journeys.”

      • Voice from Korea: Why I support the librariesAlan Gibbons. English teacher teaching in South Korea compares the different views – South Korea cherishes libraries, gives class-reading time in libraries, strongly encouraging literacy.  English schools don’t give time and don’t sufficiently respect libraries, although they are instrumental in promoting both literacy and a feeling of community.
      • What big media can learn from the New York Public Library - Atlantic.  NYPL appears to have successfully fought off cuts to its funding by a brilliant campaign. “… it’s flourishing, putting out some of the most innovative online projects in the country. On the stuff you can measure — library visitors, website visitors, digital gallery images viewed — the numbers are up across the board compared with five years ago. On the stuff you can’t, like conceptual leadership, the NYPL is killing it.”.

      Local News 

      • Barnet – Labour hit back at deputy’s pledge to “keep council tax down”Times series.  “They are busy closing libraries and children’s centres, so vital services are being axed because Barnet can’t collect from council tax dodgers. If they reduced the uncollected council tax to just the London average they would have £4.5m more and could stop the library and children centre closures – either they don’t care or they don’t know what they are doing.”
      • Brent – Pullman joins fight for Brent librariesBookSeller.   “On 20th July Pullman will speak at Queens Park Community School in Kensal Rise, and plans to discuss why writing and reading matter, and about greed, money, capitalism and temptation, as he also reads from his latest book The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. Novelist Maggie Gee will host the conversation with Pullman, who will then join in a Q&A with the audience.”.  Fundraiser for legal campaign.
      • Birmingham – Visitors to get 3D preview of new Birmingham libraryBirmingham Mail.   “The Virtual Library of Birmingham is a 3D interactive model of the city’s new flagship that the public can explore online by logging on to a special website operated by creators Daden.”
      • Cornwall – Council presses ahead with private sector plansThis is Cornwall.   “By creating a new ‘shared services’ company in Cornwall, we would help protect both existing public sector employment and could create hundreds of new permanent, well-paid jobs.”.  The project, to include libraries, has attracted criticism due to high setup costs (initially £375k) even if it is feasible.
      • Devon – £80,000 refurb plan for SidburySidmouth Herald.   Making way for self-service.  Hours will sill be cut, though, and there will be less staff. 
      • Gloucestershire – Permission granted for High Court judicial review of council’s library cutsFoGL.  “We are really pleased with the outcome of today’s hearing and await with interest the proper scrutiny of GCC’s plans for our library service in court. This scrutiny has never been allowed within GCC’s own procedures, where party politics has appeared to be prioritised before the needs and concerns of service users – including some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.” and Judge orders review into library closuresThis is Gloucestershire (interesting comments). 
      • Isle of Wight – Council responds to library legal actionVentnor Blog.   Council spokesman says “We are not prepared to make detailed comment at this stage other than to reaffirm that our position remains that the council considers that its decision on the future of the library service meets the statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service and we are delighted by the responses that we are receiving from members of the community coming forward to be part of delivering the new community libraries.”
      • Isle of Wight – Solicitors set to bid for libraries injunctionIWCP.   “Leigh, Day and Co said the LSC, which has granted legal aid to cover some of the costs of the case, wrote to them suggesting around £10,000 may need to be found by campaigners as a community contribution to fight the case — which the firm has said would be excessive and hopes will be reduced.” and Solicitors apply for injunction for Isle of Wight librariesBookSeller.  Request to cease divesting five branches until after judicial review.
      • Oxfordshire – Libraries budget is still under threatOxford Mail.  Former libraries chief Don Seale is worried.  “I would say that the library budget in the next two to three years is quite precarious, because if the volunteers won’t come forward and money is even tighter, there is going to be pressure.”
      • Suffolk – To centralise library managementBookSeller.   “Under the proposals, town or parish councils, community or staff groups would still run the libraries, but financial management and staffing would be handled by an outside body.”.  Campaigners do not see the logic in this and suspect closures will result, only being postponed.  See also Relief after library closures expected to be scrapped by council cabinetDiss Express.  30% cut still expected but semi-privatisation/divestment combination hoped to cover it. See also Campaigners welcome library move - EADT, “I’ve looked at the proposals and of the three options on offer, I am sure most people would want the council to adopt the first proposal which would see the library service continuing to be fully part of the county council.”

      A good day in the courts

      Comment

      It’s been a day to remember for those who want to save libraries. Campaigners in Brent have today received legal permission to have a judicial review in the High Court in just a couple of weeks’ time.  This, if the funding for the case is found by the campaigners, will be the first into court and will set the vital precedent. Also today, a court in Birmingham has agreed that there can be a judicial review on the Gloucestershire closures in September.  As well as these two, and also today, campaigners in the Isle of Wight have been told they will receive funding to go to court and there apply for a judicial review.
      However, Mr Ed Vaizey, sometimes known as Evaizey, the responsible minister, appears to be using the local legal challenges as an excuse not to be responsible.  In a letter to Gloucestershire campaigners, the DCMS said “When Ed Vaizey described the current situation as ‘fluid’ in his recent speech he was referring to the fact that s [sic] authorities are completing consultations, changing their plans in light of  consultation responses or, like Gloucestershire County Council, subject to Judicial Review proceedings. Until these are concluded the situation in many authorities is unsettled.”.  Campaigners, understandably angry that their legal action originally caused by the minister’s inaction is being used for further inaction, may be forgiven if they start thinking that there will be no ministerial intervention until the libraries in question are either (a) demolished or (b) airlifted to South Korea to help with their library building programme
      395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.  

       
      News

      • Anti-multiculturalism gone mad or a rational policy shift?Voices for the Library.  John Dolan reviews the Newham mayor’s decision to remove foreign-language newspapers from libraries to encourage learning of English.  Multiculturalism in Newham may be here, going or gone. Even so delivering to local black and minority ethnic communities a replica of their written and spoken culture need no longer be a public library priority; here the library draws people to a mainstream economic purpose in a library that’s a policy vehicle and political resource.
      • Historic library may close as subsidy slashedIndependent.  “The Paul Hamlyn public library at the British Museum, which has a unique collection of museum guidebooks dating from 1762, along with collections on archaeology, history and art, could close as the institution seeks to cut costs”
      • Library campaigners win right to judicial review over closures - BookSeller.  “Libraries campaigner Desmond Clarke said the decisions to allow the judicial reviews were “remarkable”. He said: “It is wonderful achievement for the campaigners who have fought bureaucracy, they have got the judges to grant a judicial review and now we hope there will be reviews in the cases of Isle of Wight and Somerset too.”.  Gloucestershire council leader says “We have said from the outset that it is right to focus our resources on the most vulnerable, and that means difficult decisions about making savings in other areas.”
      • Report of the Inquiry into overcoming the barriers to literacyInformation Twist.   Looks at library-related areas of the report – of which there are many, all strongly in favour of public and school libraries.  “The active encouragement of reading for pleasure should be a core part of every child’s curriculum entitlement because extensive reading and exposure to a wide range of texts make a huge contribution to students’ educational achievement. This is why libraries are so important to the development of a reading culture – both those in schools and those in the community.”.  Full report here.
      • UNISON vows to defend libraries and library workersVoices for the Library.  “…we will be looking to step up the UNISON Love Your Libraries campaign, particularly in terms of support for branches in resisting cuts and closures and an increased media presence highlighting workforce issues and the impact on community access to services. UNISON is committed to continuing to work with a wide range of groups, including Voices for the Library, as part of this.”

      Changes

      Cornwall – Considering sharing funding of libraries with “health organisations and the private sector”, although council denies this would be privatisation. 
      Suffolk - Options for control of libraries are (a) in-house council business unit, (b) external company “owned by the council” or (c) “an independent company which is contracted by the council”. 

      Local News

      • Barnet – Campaigners organise walk to Friern Barnet library weekTimes series.  “Campaigners are inviting children to walk to a library after school, in a desperate bid to show Barnet Council it is at the heart of the community. The council is considering plans to move Friern Barnet Library into the artsdepot, nearly two miles away”
      • Bolton – Campaigners “disappointed” at charity fundraiser with library closure debateBolton News.  Leader of council calls debate forced by 7500-name petition “premature” and is heckled from public gallery. “Speaking after the meeting, [campaigner] Mr McHugh said it was disappointing that no real debate had taken place.He said: “It’s important to raise the issues at a time when no final decisions have been made. I’m very disappointed that the councillors didn’t use the opportunity to show that they understand the depth of public feeling on the issue.”
      • Brent – Date set for High Court action against library closuresWillesden & Brent Times. “The case will be heard at the High Court over two-and-a-half-days starting on July 19. If the campaigners win, it will be a landmark case and could set a precedent on library closures across the country. The council decided to shut Preston, Barham Park, Tokyngton, Neasden, Cricklewood and Kensal Rise libraries earlier this year to save £1million.”. [Bindmans LLP press release (seen separately by Public Libraries news says "Either party, if they lose, can seek permission to appeal on a point of law, or because of the importance of the case. Applications for permission go to the judge who heard the case first and then, if they are refused, to the Court of Appeal."]

      • Brent – Philip Pullman joins fight to save Brent libraries threatened with closure - Alan Gibbons.  “Authors Zadie Smith and Alan Bennett have already given fund-raising events for the campaign. Now Philip Pullman, one of the UK’s most celebrated and controversial writers, will be speaking to an even bigger audience in Kensal Rise on 20 July.”  Event is part of fundraising needed for landmark legal case.
      • Cornwall – Council service sharing plan “may create 375 jobs”BBC.   “The aim would be to jointly pay for some services with health organisations and the private sector. Council leader Alec Robertson said any suggestion they were selling off services was untrue.Those being considered include free school meals and libraries.”
      • Dorset – Crunch time looms for the future of Dorset’s librariesDorset Echo.   “A final decision on the future of the service will be made at a meeting of Dorset County Council on July 21, with members asked to consider withdrawing funding from nine of its network of 34 libraries.”
      • Gloucestershire – Judicial review for Gloucestershire library service - BBC.   Council cannot close libraries until review has taken place, probably by the end of September.  
      • Isle of Wight – Legal aid funding granted to campaign to save Wight’s libraries - Friends of Isle of Wight Libraries (press release).  Case will be funded on grounds that cuts breach the “comprehensive and efficient” requirement of the 1964 Act and also that an equalities impact assessment was not done (see quote below also).  Leigh Day solicitors say “We have advised our client that she has a good case and expect the Court to grant permission for a full judicial review.”.  Also in New attempt to half Island library closuresIWCP.
      “We have also discovered that the IWC is trying to get Equality Impact Assessments done for the five areas who’s libraries are under threat. As part of this there will be forms available in the five libraries for the users to fill in- we need as many people as possible who actually use the libraries at Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin to go in, ask for the forms and fill them in- they are expecting a low response- please show them that Islanders really care about ALL of our 11 libraries and give them a huge response.” Isle of Wight - Friends press release.

      Good luck to Gloucestershire library supporters – or it’s War [wickshire] for all of us

      Comment

      A crucial decision will be made in court tomorrow (Thursday).  The judge will decide on whether to give permission to proceed with the legal challenge against Gloucestershire Council on the cuts in its library service.  Being it will doubtless be used as a precedent by lawmakers, it will have national ramifications. It’s tragic that it is not the DCMS, whose job after all it is, behind the action.  It has effectively “divested” (an older-fashioned term could be “shirked”) its responsibilities to library supporters in Gloucestershire. 
      Another government body, the Legal Services Commission, also seems keen to avoid supporting these challenges, even though its own repeals review board said that it should.  It’s almost as if the Government is somehow not fully behind supporting a vital frontline service.  Heresy, I know.
      What this lack of support means was brutally brought home to Warwickshire library staff today, who were told that up to 120 of them could lose their jobs.  This will have a devastating impact on the service, volunteers or not.  It is doubtless especially galling that a new Big Society property website, PlaceStation, is already advertising one of the libraries, Shipston-on-Stour, on its front page, although the decision to close it has not formally been made yet.

      395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day. 

      News

      • Analysis of public library trendsCULC (Canada).  Usage and number of transactions up (especially due to introduction of digital/internet) more than making up for increase in costs.
      • Digital era needs human guides: Why your school should keep, not cut, the librarianSpotlight (USA).  “Libraries, Ms. Everhart said, are “the one place that every kid in the school can go to to learn the types of skills that will be expected of them when it’s time to work with an iPad in class.”
      • Future of Culture, Tourism and SportNeil Stewart Associates.  Conference to be held in London, 22nd September 2011.  £240 cheapest seat.  Looking at how to run services in time of cuts including to spin off services to trusts, Big Society, etc.
      • Gloucestershire campaigners await judicial review hearingBookSeller.  “A court hearing to decide whether permission will be given for a judicial review to proceed against Gloucestershire library cuts is to take place in Birmingham tomorrow (Thursday 7th July). If allowed to proceed, the judicial review claim will be the first such action in the battle against library closures.”
      • Goodbye to bricks and mortarEconomist.   The end of the physical bookshop is near, much to the detriment of the local community.  Article ponders possible future models for bookshops “Perhaps bookstores could become tax-subsidised places where people can browse and linger, but only borrow the books for limited periods of time—what the hell, let’s call them libraries … At any rate, the market is squeezing out a meaningful public space. It will be interesting to see what fills the void these bookstores leave behind.”
      • In California, all state funding for public libraries remain in jeopardyLibrary Journal (USA).  State funding halved, all funding to be withdrawn if state revenue target not met.  Move is likely to mean ending of one-library-card-for-all system.
      “Legal aid is only available to people who pass the financial eligibility criteria. In general, taxpayers would not expect legal aid to fund a case which benefits a wider community, including people who are not eligible for legal aid, without the possibility of a financial contribution from that community.” Andrew Montgomery, press officer from LSC, justifies overturning LSC’s own appeals body and demanding campaigners pay legal costs.

      • Legal aid body “ignores appeals review” over library costs - BookSeller.  Legal Services Commission ignores ruling of its own appeal panel and declares Somerset and Isle of Wight campaigners must pay costs of around £10,000.
      • Library cuts: UK closures ahead US, and more to come for both - Huffington Post.  “Anti-cut and anti-library closure protests are popping up on both sides of the Atlantic and spreading to the Pacific. The protests are having no effect. Libraries are being shut, and those left open are operating on slim budgets after deep cuts”.  At time of writing, 97.73% of voters on HuffPost poll chose “Save them for our kids and the community”, 2.27% said “I haven’t used them since I was a kid”.
      Libraries are an example of this. In some parts of the country they are very controversial at the moment because they are being closed down on quite a large scale, while in other places they are not. So long as the existing funding for a library may be transferred to districts, there is no reason at all why districts cannot take libraries over. Indeed, the municipal boroughs before 1974 were the library authorities, and many of the fairly new libraries that now exist were built by the boroughs and not by the county council. If the county council is seriously looking at reorganising its library service, one of the ways in which it could perhaps increase the efficiency of libraries and local involvement in them is by transferring at least some of them to the districts. I am not saying that that is an ideal solution everywhere, but it is something that ought to be challengeable. There are a number of things like that.” Lord Greaves in Lords debate on Localism Bill, 5th July.

      • No time for transparency or public inputSave Santa Clarita Libraries (USA).  Gives timeline for the decision by Santa Clarita to withdraw from Los Angeles system and to entrust library system to LSSI was decided behind closed doors, initally with two councillors meeting private company without knowledge of others.  At final hearing, LSSI flew seven people from other side of the continent to testify in their favour.
      • PlaceStation - Asset Transfer Unit.  Website listing public buildings either under threat and in need of “Big Society” support or that someone feels is under-utilised and wants to use for another purpose.  Site highlights still-open Shipston-on- Stour Library (Warwickshire) marked as “under threat of closure” on front page.
      • Sound of libraries suffocatingSanta Maria Times (USA).  Seven times more people use libraries in the USA than visit sporting events.  Public libraries vital in time of recession but that very recession is meaning they’re being closed down.

      Changes

      Devon – £860k cut. Opening hours to be cut esp. Combe Martin, Moretonhampstead, Chulmleigh, Lynton and Salcombe - see here for complete list.  Job losses.
      Norfolk – £1.2m cut.  10% cut in opening hours, mobile library visits reduced to every 4 weeks from current 3, self-service machines replace staff.  
      Warwickshire – 50 full-time and up to 70 other library jobs to be lost.  Library closures decision deferred until October.

      Local News

      “Tonight we are being allowed to make a 5 minute statement to the full council (below) about the threat of closure facing 9 of our 15 branch libraries. There will then be just 15 minutes debate – given 15,000 Bolton people signed petitions against library closure, that makes one minute per thousand signatures. The outcome of the Libraries Review, including any specific branch closure proposals, will be agreed at the Bolton Council Executive on 25 July.  The intention is then to allow only two months for consultation, including all of August when schools are closed and many people on holiday.  We will of course campaign around any threatened library closure, and press for a full council debate at the next full council meeting on 31 August. Our libraries are too important to lose.” Ian McHugh, Secretary, Save Bolton Libraries (press release)
      • Bolton – Campaign to save Bolton’s threatened librariesGuardian.   Expected decision by cabinet to close libraries will then go out to a further public consultation.  Campaigners say strength of public feeling  and evidence suggest none should close.   See also Council to debate the future of librariesBolton News. “It will be the first time a debate has been forced since new legislation came into being last June, which obliges councils to hold public debates whenever they receive a petition of more than 4,000 signatures.”.  
      • Brent – Cricklewood opera singer hosts garden party in support of library campaignWillesden and Brent Times.  “On Sunday (3), around 100 people enjoyed tea and cake throughout the afternoon which raised £700 for the cause. Among her guests was British food critic, writer and television presenter Giles Coren.”
      • Devon – Libraries face opening hours cutsBBC.  Job losses and opening hour cuts likely, to be decided next week after consultation with 8000 responses. 
      • Dorset – Well-known faces join library campaignBridport News.   Reporting support of Conservative peer Lord Fellowes and Oliver Letwin MP.
      • Dorset – West Dorset Lib Dem hits out at “broken pledges”Dorset Echo.  Cllr Karl Wallace leaves Lib Dems and becomes an Independent “At the moment I feel that the Lib Dems are small Conservatives and nobody is sticking up for the vulnerable people.” He added: “I will continue to work hard for Bridport and challenge the cuts.“I will fight to keep the libraries and school crossing patrols.”
      • Gloucestershire – Admission from Cllr Noble: school library provision did NOT inform public library cuts - FoGL. Cllr Antonia Noble, who had previously said that those without public libraries could use school libraries, admits “School and public libraries fulfil different, but complimentary functions”.
      • Isle of Wight – Library campaigners welcome delay in handoverIsle of Wight Radio.  Campaigners say “Despite our criticisms, our over-riding aim is to retain the existing library. To that end we continue to talk with the council to secure a mutually-satisfactorily resolution.” 
      • Leeds – Tories call for end to union postsYorkshire Post.  “Both nationally and here in Leeds we are facing huge financial challenges to ensure that frontline services can continue to be delivered, yet the Labour controlled administration in Leeds continues to pay out these huge sums of money while closing libraries, leisure centres and looking at proposals that could see residential care homes closed as well – their priorities are all wrong, frontline services have to come first.”
      • Norfolk – Library opening cuts plan moves a step closerEDP 24.   Council agrees in principle to cut after 8000 responses to consultation.  Cuts in mobile library visits to 4 weeks from current 3.  Self-service replacing staff.  “I agree we are doing a better job than some councils have done, but this financial crisis isn’t going to last forever, could I ask when times are easier that we don’t accept these cuts as permanent,” Mr Nobbs said.
      • Suffolk – Thursday 14th July: Save Suffolk Libraries need you – Rosehill Readers.   “Come and join us On Thursday 14th July at 12 noon at Endeavour House, Russell Road, Ipswich come and join library campaigners and supporters from all over the county. Bring food & drink plus a library book or two for a picnic, library book swap, read-in, ‘Save Suffolk Libraries’ t-shirts, banners, press, TV, who knows? Let the Councillors know that you value your libraries!”
      • Warwickshire – Breaking News: Library staff to lose jobs - What’s In Kenilworth.  Massive job losses, staff can take redundancy or cut hours.  Lack of communication between managers and staff beforehand. Also reported as Warwickshire libraries could lose 100 staffKenilworth Weekly News. Councillor says   “At the end of the day these are extremely difficult times and no councillor, no matter what their political persuasion, wants to make cuts to valued services. But we have to change the way we deliver our services. That is unavoidable to achieve the necessary savings”. Also Warwickshire libraries could face 120 job cutsBBC.  There is  a “possibility of local communities taking over the libraries that are to close. The deadline for interested groups has now been extended until October.”
      • Wirral – Get ready for Wirral libraries of the futureWirral Globe.  “Clearly the reasoning behind the radio-controlled tag is that the libraries will eventually end up delivering a fully-automated service, with no staff at all except those who maintain the machinery.”

      Cambridgeshire cuts “bloodbath”, Warwickshire decision soon

      395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day. 

      News 

      • Analysis: The onward march of the leisure trustThirdSector.  Review of Trusts noting that granting charitable status was (and is) controversial “by permitting charities to carry out services that councils are bound by law to provide, such as libraries”.  Excellent (rare) report describing both the pros and cons of Trusts.
      • Library Association welcomes Labour’s positive stance on free public librariesLianza (New Zealand).  “In this time of technological change it is crucial that the principle of freedom of access to information, irrespective of format, is enshrined in law. There is currently a risk that some local authorities will treat the introduction of e-books as an income generating opportunity”.
      • Morgan to be Arts Council libraries directorBookSeller.  Nicola Morgan of the MLA will be new libraries boss, seeing her job as “an exciting new chapter” to “take forward libraries’ vital and enduring role in our communities in spreading reading, learning, and access to information.”
      • Parents “must let children choose what they read”Guardian. “make sure children talk directly to a librarian or a bookseller, while parents stand well back”. 
      • Plans to move gov online “lack cyber-security” says MPsRegister.  “It said the efficiency reform group should continue to make online services accessible via libraries, which have recently faced closures and cuts, as well as through post offices and other public spaces.”
      • Premier League Reading Stars - National Literacy Trust.  Chance for public libraries to receive major football backing free of charge. 
      • Review of library statutory dutiesVoices for the Library.  Government review of all duties (including the requirement for a “comprehensive and efficient” library service) now closed.  “The greatest numbers of responses, due to the campaign generated interest, were on: planning (including duties regarding allotments), children and young people, and libraries”… “we can see that support for public library services remains strong, which is extremely encouraging and positive, but at the same time there may also be a risk that these services can still be eroded via other routes.”
      • Shush No MoreVoices for the Library (Nilam Ashra-McGrath) – “who will listen to these voices? Will it be the mid-level policy adviser, fast-tracked through the civil service graduate scheme, who now finds himself in the midst of the library storm with his hands clapped firmly over his ears? I hope someone’s listening.”
      • Travelling to Taiwan? Free public Wi-Fi launched in TaipeiTNW.  Free Wifi in all libraries in Taipei, to be extended to blanket coverage of the capital by end of year.


      Changes

      Cambridgeshire – 48% cut over 5 years inc.  29 out of 45 managers to lose jobs. 
      Enfield – 20% budget cut.

      Local News

      “Sources, from with the Warwickshire Library Service, tell me there is no news, just a lot of anxiety. But they (being employees) are expecting to hear that the library management are likely to recommend all 16 library closures. This employee has been looking at survey results and not one agrees with proposals. The majority are vehemently against where others have questioned the consultation format. He/She concluded saying WCC have been canny, stating that they want Community Libraries rather than just closing them. This may of stopped any protests – shame as libraries really are doomed.” Warwickshire – Libraries overview and scrutiny meeting Monday 11 July everyone please attendWhat’s in Kenilworth.  16 libraries face threat of closure, councillors have only three days to read report.

      “I believe that to close libraries is a false economy” – Ed Miliband

      “I am horrified to hear that 14 libraries are set to close in Doncaster, five of which are in my constituency of Doncaster North. I along with residents of Doncaster value greatly the Library Service, and I am very angry at the scale of the proposed closures. I believe that to close libraries is a false economy and a very cheap option to save money. It is most unfortunate that libraries always seem to be at the forefront of any cuts in local expenditure.

      I believe that libraries are, and should be, an essential part of our lives, and are vital to our communities and can be a central focus point for an area. A library can help enrich people’s lives, and so many other services can also come from a library.” (Ed Miliband)

      This old quote (4th February) reused by the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign, is not going to make life easy for those Labour-controlled authorities like that in Brent, who are pressing ahead with up to six library closures, or indeed in Lewisham, who recently gave four libraries away (three to a social enterprise called Eco Computers, the fourth to a charity called Age Exchange) and closed the other at the end of May. 

      Ed Vaizey’s (the minister for Libraries) Tweet of the Day – “History of Government Art Collection launched tonight at No.11. Created by Treasury in 1898 to save decorating costs”. 

      395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.

      News 

      • Bookends ScenariosState Library New South Wales (Australia) Fascinating informed look into the long-term (2030) scenarios for public libraries, some of which tinge into science-fiction but thought-provoking.
      • Chief Executive who led “virtual-council” total outsourcing plan leaves council - Guardian.  Goodbye to Andrea Hill, who gets £220k pay-off (the minimum under the law) for being the most notorious council leader in the country, antics including personal PR shoots, luxury hotel stays, private therapy sessions, trips to the USA at a council contractor’s expense.  Allegations of harassment and bullying are still ongoing.  “Suffolk residents forced an end to the council’s mass-outsourcing programme after they protested furiously over plans to cut school crossing patrols, libraries and recycling facilities.”
      • Hunt outlines £55m fund to help build endowmentsGuardian.  Arts groups can apply for government matching of private donations.  Jeremy Hunt appears to include libraries in this – he says private benefactors have “Giving us the British Museum, the Royal Societies, and some of our finest libraries – those great engines of the Enlightenment.” 
      • Who’s in the queue?IMLS (USA).  Analysis of who uses computers in public libraries showing they “fill a wide variety of information needs, a clear indication that public libraries provide much more than basic technology access”.

      Changes

      Redcar and Cleveland – Late charges for children 25p per day.  
      Somerset – Of six libraries threatened with closure this year, 3 (Bishops Lydeard, Bruton and Porlock) will be run by volunteers from October, 2 (Watchet and Highbridge) are likely to be run by volunteers while 1 (Sunningdale in Yeovil) is likely to close.

      Local News

      • Bolton – No decision made on future of librariesThis is Lancashire.  “Thousands of people have been campaigning to save their libraries.”.  Council is considering the future of nine branches but insists closures not already a fait accompli.
      • Brent – Ed Miliband slams Labour-run Brent Council: “closing libraries is a false economy” - Save Kensal Rise Library.  Quote is music to ears of opponents of Labour council which wants to close libraries.  “Now residents are urging Mr Miliband to clamp down on Councillor Ann John, who plans to close down Kensal Rise Library which is situated in an area with one of the highest child illiteracy rates in the capital.”
      • Buckinghamshire – Community asset transferBuckinghamshire Council.  Council makes it easier to sell off libraries “As Buckinghamshire County Council looks increasingly to community-led service solutions, access to suitably located and affordable accommodation will often be critical to the viability
        of any project. Recent examples would be youth centres or community libraries. Corporate
        Plan priorities undertake that the Council will provide practical support to encourage and
        support community solutions.”.  Asset Transfer Unit tweets “nice one”.
      • Cambridgeshire – Library will close for a week to install system - Evening Telegraph.   “Cambridgeshire county councillor David Harty, cabinet member for learning, said: “Self-service has been highly successful in the libraries where we have already introduced it. The equipment is easy to use and staff will be on hand to help people using it. We apologise for any inconvenience while the work is being carried out.”
      • Croydon – Tall tales and strange silences on librariesThat Woman’s Blog.   Croydon’s website and PR silent on privatisation despite acknowledgements that it is being sought.
      • Doncaster – Message from Ed MilibandSave Doncaster Libraries.  Campaigners secure quote that will make life very difficult for Labour councillors in Brent and Lewisham who wish to close libraries. (4th February)
      • Dorset – (A) Oliver Letwin MP on Dorset closures “I think we also have to recognise that there are limits on what volunteers can be expected to do and there are limits, also, on the ability of village communities to raise their own funding.” (B) Julian Fellowes speaks out on Dorset  closures – “There seems to have grown up an idea that the destruction of the libraries is somehow demanded by the Prime Minister and that it is an act of loyalty to him and his policies to lay them waste. In fact, and I speak from first hand information, this is the opposite of the truth.” (C) Dorset campaigners welcome Fellowes, Letwin statements – “We are enormously encouraged by the support of two such high profile Conservative politicians,’ says Tim Lee, acting chairman of Ad Lib (the Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries, of which Julian Fellowes is patron), ‘especially as it was Conservative councillors who voted down a call to preserve all the libraries last month.” – all via Alan Gibbons.
      “Libraries are unique environments and need to be. For many of us growing up, the local library was our internet. So excuse us if we don’t seem grateful that the county’s main libraries are staying open. Not only should they be staying open, but all the energy that is going into “remodelling” the service should be going into what more they can be as libraries and not, to use that grating phrase, one-stop shops.” Herefordshire – Don’t make this our libraries’ final chapterVoices for the Library, reprinted from Hereford Times. 

      • Hertfordshire – Library opening hours reduced from todayWelwyn Hatfield Times. 
      • The new timetable includes all-day closures once a week for libraries in Hatfield, Knebworth, Brookmans Park, Welwyn and Woodhall, as well as Oakmere library in Potters Bar.
      • County councillor Chris Hayward, executive member for libraries, said the closures had been staggered to ensure that residents would still have access to library services, even when their local branch was shut.
      • Oxfordshire – Campaigners bid to stop two-thirds cut in staff at libraryHenley Standard.  Friends of Benson Library formed to help staff/run threatened library but “We don’t think we should be asking perhaps an elderly volunteer to be on their own in a library,” he said. “We are looking for value-plus on this, not keeping the status quo.”
      • Redcar and Cleveland – Teesside libraries charging highest kids’ fines in the NortheastGazette Live.  Most expensive of all 12 Teesside councils, 6 of which do not charge at all.  “The council has defended the charge as “reasonable” and a Gazette poll this weekend found 60.7% of respondents backed fines for youngsters.” but local author says “I go to a lot of schools where the kids have next to no money. The first thing they ask me is whether the book will be in the local library. Libraries are hugely important and literacy among children is a really big issue.”
      • Somerset – Three Somerset libraries set to stay openBBC.  “Volunteers have stepped in to pay for and run libraries in Bishops Lydeard, Bruton and Porlock.” Sunningdale likely to close, Watchet and Highbridge may be run by volunteers.
      • Suffolk – Recomendations to Suffolk County Council CabinetSave Suffolk Libraries Campaign Network.  Extremely professional report stating the desires of the umbrella group of library users -  (a) Against divestment, (b) savings should be made in back-office, (c) consultation currently inadequate, (d) SWOT analysis should be done, (e) 3 to 5 year plan based on both current model and Trust model, (f) equalities investment assessment (EIA) should be made public, (g) full EIA for each branch considered for closure, (h) make fully public all criteria for considering divestment. 
      • Wokingham – Response to John HalsallMad man with a blog.  Conservatives accuse Labour/LibDem councillors of scaremongering about privatising libraries.  Opposition councillors point to Express article saying LSSI’s first contract is likely to be with Wokingham.
      • Wokingham – Saving the librariesPrue Bray. “So the Conservatives are torn between trying to pretend it isn’t happening, and trying to dismiss the opposition.  Clearly, by the strength of their reaction, nervousness has set in  The more signatures we get, the more likely they are to back down.  So if you haven’t signed to save the libraries, DO IT NOW! http://tinyurl.com/WBCLibraries”