Lewisham usage collapses

Comment

A report in the Sunday Times suggests that Ed Vaizey is asking for Big Lottery Fund money for withdrawn libraries.  While it is nice that the Minister Invisibly In Charge Of Libraries is showing an interest, it shows his weakness, and the direness of the current situation, that he is begging for money. 
Mind you, withdrawn branches need all the help they can get.  Have a look at the figures in the table below from Lewisham to see how libraries that were council-run last year are now doing when withdrawn from council control.  The words “Community Library” in this table, incidentally, does not mean a local public library but rather that it is no longer being run by the council:

The outsourced branches on average experienced a decline of 73% in book issues over one year.  Of course, this figure is skewed – there’s been upheaval in those libraries recently taken over by different organisations (a computer recycling company, an elderly people’s charity and, in New Cross, a bona fide library user’s co-operative) which has doubtless depressed things a little.  As has whatever “initial difficulties with data collection” means.  However, a loss of three-quarters seems excessive.  Something else is going on here rather than problems due to change of management.  Nor do the problems in Lewisham stop there. In those not outsourced (leaving out the non-comparable Torridon Road and Wavelengths figures) the decline was still an amazingly poor 18%.  The warning below the figures suggests that there have been staff cuts and the installation of self-service machines but, still 18%?  Perhaps they’re not buying new books this year as well. For national comparison, the CIPFA figures for 2010/11 showed a decline of only 2.3%.
Another point from these figures is that the previous users of the withdrawn libraries do not appear to be using the other branches.  This suggests that public library provision is effectively being lost to those in the neighbourhoods where the council has decided to retreat from managing branches, raising concerns for the whole model, at least in the form practised in Lewisham.
All of this is useful information for all of those thinking of writing to the Select Committee (details below).  Other useful information can be found by writing Freedom of Information requests to the MLA (still existing in caretaker form until next year), local authorities and ACE but get in quick – that 12th January deadline is looking awful close, especially with Christmas in less than three weeks.
422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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 are 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

  • BitebackSunday Times.   Richard Brooks: “In the new year, the culture media and sports committee (yes, the one looking into phone hacking) turns its attention to libraries. I am sure they will summon either Jeremy Hunt or Ed Vaizey as witnesses – they have for too long sat silently on their hands. Yet I recall Vaizey, as shadow arts minister in 2009, publicly condemning the closure of libraries in the Wirral. What now, Ed, about Brent, Somerset et al?” … “Vaizey has been chatting to the Big Lottery Fund about community funding for libraries. Hang on – lottery bodies are supposed to stick to the “additionality rule”, giving cash only to organisations that do not receive any from government. No wonder the Big Lottery has questioned Ed about his eager hands on handouts.”.
  • Commission to work with two local councils on spending decisions around library closures – Equalities and Human Rights Commission.   “I’m pleased to be working with both Somerset and Gloucestershire County Councils to help them comply with equality legislation. Policies based on a sound knowledge of how decisions may impact on vulnerable groups will help ensure these service users don’t lose out as budgets are tightened, as well saving time and money for the councils themselves as they avoid costly and time-consuming legal challenges.”
  • Future of libraries – Da Vinci Institute (USA).   Long article, the most relevant bits being at the end where the writer suggests that libraries will more from a centre of information towards being a centre of culture.
  • Upheaval at the New York Public Library – The Nation (USA).  Even one of the greatest public libraries in the world is facing problems, with the closure of reading rooms, loss of staff, despite an increase in usage. 

Local News 

  • Bolton – Community archive plan to save library building – Bolton News. “The proposal, which will include a community archive, will not retain the library service and relies on council bosses to keep funding the building for the next three years.”
  • Doncaster – Library – Epworth Bells.    Denaby library confirmed as closing.  “Outside the library, pensioner Margaret Bond, 76, told the Times: “It’s disgusting – It’s not just us adults who are losing a valuable amenity, it’s the children. When you go there on an evening it’s full of them doing homework. Some parents can’t afford a computer at home. They are on about education and they close Denaby Library. How can they educate themselves?” … “It is one of 14 libraries to be axed under plans by the authority to save £784,000 from its budget. While other services are expected to become community-led services, Denaby is to have mobile and outreach provision only.”
  • Gloucestershire – Public meeting: libraries going forward – FoGL.  “At the request of library users and community groups across the county we have organised an open public meeting to discuss ways forward for our libraries and the implications of the judicial review ruling. To encourage fair representation it will be held in a neutral environment with a neutral chair. We feel that bridges need to be built and an open dialogue facilitated….”
  • Oxfordshire – Results of consultation – Friends of Benson Library.   Volunteers will be needed to run library but they have not been costed.  Also, RAF Benson will lose a valuable service and local businesses fear loss of trade. 
    • More paid staff to stay at libraries – Oxford Mail.  “Neil Clark campaigned to save Botley Library – one of the 22 core libraries which will retain its staff. He said: “These are trained librarians. It’s not the sort of work that can easily be taken on by volunteers. We welcome this very much.” But Julia Drown, a campaigner for Old Marston Library, labelled the compromise as just ‘crumbs’.” 
    • Libraries could be save by new proposal – Banbury Guardian.   “Nearly 5,000 people responded to the four month public consultation into the future of Oxfordshire’s libraries which came to a close last week. The public outrage stirred by the possibility of library closures in the region has caused Oxfordshire County Council to rethink their original plan to dramatically cut funding and staff remaining libraries with volunteers.” (stub)
  • Southwark – Canada Water Library: a review – Observer.   “OMG! It’s a library! An absolutely new one, with books in it, too! Aren’t such things supposed to be dinosaurs, driven to extinction by the cuts of George Osborne and the inventions of the late Steve Jobs? Not in the London Borough of Southwark, apparently, where they have decided to keep all 12 of their existing libraries, as well as build this new one. And not, according to its architect, Piers Gough, for whom “books haven’t gone away. Libraries still hold these magic realms of invention, realms of ideas. They’re places where you’re not told what to think; they’re also places where you can stay and stop and spend as long as you like.”

Filling the voids

Comment
Oxfordshire have slightly backed down from their proposals for a “volunteers with everything” approach to library provision.  However, despite cheery headlines, nearly half (21 out of 43) of their branches will still have paid staff cut by up to 50%.  There are also some doubts as to whether the council has done its homework about costing for it.
Someone who is hoping to employ a lot more paid staff is Tim Coates, library consultant ex of Waterstones, who has announced the launch of a new ebook provider, Bilbary, in the next few weeks which is hoping for public library as well as publisher support.  All the while, time is getting seriously short for people to respond to the DCMS Select Committee on Library Closures – Christmas is going to be here any minute – and so it is encouraging to see CILIP are stirring (or at least stirring others) to action.
422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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 are 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

  • Boyd Tonkin: Flagships and hulks – Independent.   Collaboration between booksellers and libraries is starting, promoting the good news about libraries and the new ones opening.  Concerns that such collaboration may be insufficient if more closures mean a confrontation with politicians. Also, danger that big ego-boosting new libraries will have money spent on them while the others are left to rot.
“Beware, especially, every bid to wield those 40 openings as proof that protesters have cried wolf over cuts. In many authorities, the campaigns turn specifically on plans to replace or downgrade local branches in favour of shiny town-centre monuments to municipal pride, located miles from users’ homes.”

“A long-time library campaigner, Coates said Bilbary would aid public libraries. “Trade publishers don’t want to lend at present. There has been huge sales growth in e-books this year and nobody wants to damage that. In time, we think there will be lending, and here is a space where they can experiment. The public library service doesn’t have to create its own e-digital library by buying speculatively, they can use this as a service. Publishers will be paid for every loan. It could solve the problem, [currently causing a stalemate on e-lending], and then the library service would have an e-book solution. “

  • Tim Coates to launch international e-bookstore, Bilbary – Publishers Weekly. Coates is certainly aware of e-bookstore powerhouses Amazon and BN.com, but he believes the e-book market, particularly outside of America, is only in its infancy with room for new players. He is also positioning Bilbary to be publisher, customer, and library friendly. Publishers can set their own prices and change them whenever they want.”.  Aiming to supply as many formats as possible, taking 20% commission (publishers 80%). 
  • Help CILIP respond to select committee inquiry into public library closures (in England) – CILIP. “In our response CILIP will be taking the opportunity to set out the value of the public library service and the knowledge and skills of the library staff that are vital in designing and delivering a service that meets the needs of its communities – the service is so much more than just the buildings! The ideas and examples provided by members will help inform and enrich the CILIP evidence to the Inquiry. We appreciate the very tight timetable (set by the Select Committee) but nevertheless would welcome greatly the contribution of CILIP members. It would be helpful if this included comments specifically addressing the issues raised by the Inquiry. You have until 23 December 2011 to feed your views into CILIP’s response which has to be with the Select Committee by 12 January 2012.”
  • How libraries are about more than books – Huffington Post (USA).   “When visitors walk into the Minneapolis building, the first collection they see is about 300 computers, each of which is in use about 90 percent of the time. Nationwide, the number of physical books borrowed from libraries is slowly declining, although books remain a core reason why people visit their libraries. The staff in Minneapolis estimates that computer access is the primary reason that most patrons, especially low-income and unemployed people, visit.”.  [See the very polarised comments at end of article for a worrying view of all that is wrong about the current political and social situation in the USA.  Homelessness and the evil of paying taxes seem key issues – Ed.]
“Edwin S. Clay III, the director of libraries since 1982, said that libraries have “never been more relevant,” but that they are increasingly filling the voids left by other public institutions. “We’re becoming lots of folks’ offices, especially as they look for work,” Clay said. “We’re not the school system, but we’re focusing on childhood literacy. We’re teaching people how to use computers. We’re stepping up and saying, ‘How can we help?'”

  • Library phantom returnsNPR (USA).  Superb artist celebrating books, writing and libraries in Scotland has a big fan in America.   Central Station has the most complete collection of pictures of the wonderful anonymous artists’ work who has now finished dotting sculptures made of books around Edinburgh.
  • Michael Moore: end wars, fund libraries – Books for Walls (USA).   Celebrity supports libraries and inspires further campaigning. 

Changes

Oxfordshire 2/12/11: All libraries to be at least half-staffed by paid workers, previously proposals said 16 would be one-third staffed, with the rest being provided by volunteers.  22 will be fully staffed, 16 half-staffed, 5 two-thirds staffed.  Decision to be maded on 12/12/11.  

Local News

  • Barnet – Deadline looms for library plan – Barnet Today.  “The [Save Friern Barnet] group will be contributing financial plans and details of the campaign’s formal constitution, their governance arrangements and bank accounts, alongside additional documentation.  The council’s cabinet previously approved a strategy to close the library, merge it with North Finchley Library and reopen in the artsdepot at Tally Ho Corner.  However, following a campaign by residents, a three-month reprieve was granted to provide time for consideration of alternative solutions.”
  • Bracknell Forest – Fun booked for Bracknell libraries – Get Bracknell.   List of Christmas events.
  • Edinburgh – Library cuts “a mistake” says Labour – Scotsman.  Councillor Ricky Henderson, finance spokesman for the Labour group on the city council, said it was “very sad” to see the city’s 26 libraries bear the brunt of budget cuts.”.  Wide service offered by libraries will be reduced by cuts in hours. 
  • Gloucestershire – Report of first council meeting since library plans ruled unlawful – FoGL.  Glos Council still apparently believes it did everything lawful, regardless of court judgement ruling against them, with the Leader saying that the judge had given a “subjective” view and repeating that the defeat (with the council being ordered to pay full costs) was a “small technicality”.  Council also appears to believe that mobile libraries are not libraries. “All in all, the GCC response was depressing and most unpromising. The County Council and especially Cllr Hawthorne gave no indication they are going to put things right in our libraries. I came away with a strong impression that the County Council may well be about to waste a lot more of our time and money before they restore our library service.”
    • Dear Library Santa – FoGL.   Stonehouse Library campaigners invite Santa along to gain public support against cuts. ““We got around 200 signed in 4 hours in Stonehouse on Saturday afternoon. The idea proved popular and the letter could be changed to suit other localities.”
    • Council to work with top equalities body – Gloucestershire Council.Both Gloucestershire and Somerset Councils will be working with the Commission to ensure that their revised plans for libraries comply with new equality legislation, which was updated this year. Discussions have already taken place between both council chief executives and the EHRC’s chief executive to confirm their involvement. The move follows a judge’s ruling which overturned the councils’ decisions on changes to library services on equality grounds.”
“Gloucestershire is reviewing its position with regards to libraries and a new consultation and equalities assessment will be carried out in the near future. In the mean time [sic] the authority will continue working with community groups who are keen to take over library services themselves.”

  • Oxfordshire – Hope on horizon for Chinnor Library? – Thame Gazette.  Chinnor may be staffed two-third by paid and one-third by volunteer. ““Unfortunately we in Oxfordshire, like all areas of the country, are faced with having to make significant financial cutbacks across almost all areas of the services that we provide. It is impossible to exempt the Library Service from this, however we have proposed a plan that would see all our libraries remain operational.””
    • Library volunteers cutOxford Mail.   Council reduces proportion of volunteers to paid staff in new proposals although 21 out of 43 will still have paid staff cut by up to one-half.
    • Missing costs from proposals – Question Everything.  Analysis of new proposals suggests that the council has not been working out costs of volunteers or self-service machines and so the cuts may end up costing more money than leaving the service alone. 
  • Wakefield – Petition handed over against Wakefield library closures – BBC.  200-name petition against withdrawal from 12 out of 25 libraries.  “The council said that, since 1992, visitor numbers at its library had fallen by 43% compared to 15% nationally.” [and choose to cut them further rather than investigate reasons for a fall three times worse than expected – Ed.]

Running the library is a “backs against the wall” option for us

Comment

I saw the picture above on the “Save Kensal Rise Library” (Brent) website on Wednesday and saw immediately that it had an important story to tell.  So I emailed the volunteers to ask permission to use the image, which they graciously agreed to.  
Here’s their story. A “pop up” library had been opened up by protestors after the closure of the local branch. Now, these are the campaigners who took Brent Council to court over plans to close half their branches.  They’re not to be messed with and they value public libraries greatly.  However, at face value, this picture would gladden the hearts of councils all around the country who are looking to those who love their libraries to work in them for free so that paid library staff can be cut.  If so, let us hope that the following quote from the Brent campaigners, kindly supplied, will dampen their spirits somewhat .  This is what they said:
“We think libraries should be free, public and staffed by librarians and trained staff.
Running the library is a ‘backs against the wall’ option for us. We don’t want the library to close and at the moment if running it ourselves is the only option we have then we will try and do it, but it is not our preferred option.

Our Pop up Library was a spontaneous action by the community here after the Judicial Review was lost in October. We wanted to keep the library going and prevent the council from boarding it up and taking out the contents. A 24 hour vigil to prevent this turned into the pop up library. Not ideal but better than no library and a boarded up library is a pretty shocking sight. After we were granted leave to appeal the idea took root and it has been manned ever since by volunteers. Symbolic, maybe, but it gives an idea of how important the library is to this community.”

They’re not Big Society enthusiasts, they feel they have no choice. 
There’s a further point here.  Brent Council are actually unusual in not accepting volunteer-run libraries.  If they ever do, they should learn a lesson from how other councils are abusing volunteers by pretending they’re keen as mustard and twice as hot.  It gets worse: today, we have a report about Wandsworth/Croydon possibly privatising their services and thus making “big profits from poor suckers”.  The “poor suckers” in question being the wonderful volunteers who run York Gardens Library who have already immensely helped Wandsworth by keeping open the library in most deprived area of that borough.   
Up and down the country, councils are in danger of abusing the good intentions of library users into staffing their service for them. Whatever the rights and wrongs, councils at least should treasure those that do step forward and not try to manipulate them for short-term political gain.  They deserve courtesy and backup.  They deserve the grim true situation to be described without glossy hype. Councils should not describe volunteers as “excited” to meet “new challenges” and portray them as chomping at the bit to do for free what they still pay tax for skilled staff to do for them.  Otherwise, these volunteers – who are, when it comes down to it, saving the council’s bacon by allowing them to portray themselves not as closers of libraries – may be tempted to simply walk away.  That would be a disaster not just for the council but, so much more importantly, for the communities who rely on the libraries so much.
Councils should, in a nutshell, use them with their full permission.

422 libraries (330 buildings and 92 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 are 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

  • Area libraries offer more than just booksNorthwest Herald (USA). “Part of the success of these libraries, as well as the others in McHenry County, no doubt has been due to a concerted effort to provide programming that appeals to the whole community. And they’ve embraced the very technology that was supposed to be their undoing. For instance, the Huntley library has added Nook and Sony e-readers that are available for checkout. It also has Wii, PlayStation3 and Xbox360 games.”.  
  • Canadian library usage up 45% thanks to ebooks – Good E Reader (Canada).  “Lumos Research for the Canadian Urban Libraries Council has released new reports that are encouraging to the sustainability of the public library system in Canada. Across the country, library usage is up 45 per cent over the past decade, from 16.6 to 24.1 transactions on average per capita.” … “Despite the fact libraries are seeing record usage because of ebook lending, people are still visiting the actual location. The Grande Bibliotheque, like many new megalibraries across the globe, was designed to serve as a central meeting place.Not just to read, but to hold study groups, exhibitions and lectures. Berthiaume calls libraries one of those rare “third places” that is free to the public, and away from work and home.”
  • Checked out: big cuts in spending are forcing councils to re-examine how libraries work – Economist.   “Of all the cuts to public services, few have provoked such loud protests as proposals to close libraries” which has shocked councils including Oxfordshire.  6.7% decline in past five years masks 80% of population who consider libraries “very important” or “essential”.  So, stopped from closing libraries, councils are “stealthily” cutting them instead.  Other methods include giving libraries to trusts or using volunteers.  Merging managements of libraries looks promising.  Alternatively, some authorities are concentrating on one big library e.g. Birmingham, Norwich.  Cutting management and incrasing income has made Hillingdon popular.  “Libraries are not dead—just a little dusty”.
  • eHustings fro CILIP councillors 2012Wordshore.  “Question threads where the least number of candidates (in both cases, 3 out of the 6) replied: 1.What should a public library do or offer?, 2.e-books in libraries”
“Attitudes to Public Libraries in England”
“My library life started on a bookmobile and so I have never thought of libraries as buildings. They are a spirit in the community, a pervasive energy that touches everyone who acknowledges its presence.” Post on LinkedIn.  

Changes

 Local news

  • Bath and North East Somerset Mobile libraries could be cut as council aims to save £12 million – This is Bath.   Report “recommends consulting on cutting all mobile library services from April, because it would cost £180,000 to replace them.” … “However, the authority wants to invest in other library services, including £170,000 worth of funding for the relocation of Paulton Library”
  • Bedfordshire – Money saving tech to cost library jobs – Bedford Today.   Bedford Central Library being converted to self-service. “Dough McMurdo, portfolio holder for leisure and culture at Borough Hall said: “Many local authorities have been forced to make library closures, but despite severe budget constraints we are investing in our library service and have not closed any of our libraries.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Wisbech Library to host ten authors for book fair – Cambs Time 24.   “Alison Sutton, community and service co-ordinator at Wisbech Library, said: “Join us for a cup of tea and a mince pie, and have a look at the work of 10 authors, who will be available to sign what you buy. “There will also be a second-hand book sale if you want to stock up on your holiday reading.”
  • Camden – Hopes soar in battle to keep Chalk Farm, Belsize and Heath libraries open – Camden New Journal.    “All three libraries had “expressions of interest” lodged at the Town Hall by Monday’s deadline. The groups will be told if their bids are successful on December 20, but it now looks increasingly likely the three branches will remain open beyond April next year when council funding dries up.”
  • Conwy – Conwy’s libraries could be put in hands of the community – North Wales Weekly News.   “The council has approved recommendations that would see services in smaller communities move into schools or community centres. Volunteers would then be required to help run these facilities to keep services going.” … “I’m very delighted that Conwy’s councillors have decided to throw local libraries a lifeline after what has been a hard fought campaign,” he said. “Both Kinmel Bay and Cerrigydrudion have been defined as deprived areas in terms of educational attainment and income levels and it is therefore essential that these libraries receive extra protection from closure.””.  Welsh Government may intervene if Conwy does not improve soon… “If a decision is not made by July 2012, the [Welsh] government may use its powers under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to take over the management of Conwy’s library service.”
  • Highland – Service point to move to libraryNorth Star.  “Highland Council looks set to do an about-turn with its plans to move Invergordon library into the town’s service point. The council has revisited the proposal and is now recommending that the High Street service point relocates to the library.”
  • Northamptonshire – Library supporters want answers to budget plans – Herald & Post. The Friends of Irchester Library want some answers from the County Council. Today, a group of officers will meet a delegation from the group who want to know what funding is in place for the village facility during the 2012/13 financial year.” …”“It would be nice to know some sort of idea what they were expecting from the friends group.””
  • Surrey – Libraries announcement nothing but spin – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.   “The original library plan says that progress of the first tranche of volunteer libraries would be reviewed in April 2013, and then the second tranche would be subject to the same volunteer-run model. In his announcement, Hodge has given himself the perfect excuse (when the foreseeable Council Tax freeze is announced) to carry out the original plan to press on with the second tranche.”.  20% paid staffing for withdrawn libraries is old news too.  “It is very clear, therefore, that David Hodges announcement is simply a restatement of what is already in the plan. Hodge has misled Surrey residents in claiming that he has offered something new because he has “listened and learned”; he has done nothing of the sort.”
  • Wandsworth/Croydon – Council library services out to tender – This is Local London.  “Each proposal will be benchmarked against the service levels offered by the existing library teams. The move aims to generate savings through sharing overheads and buying power.” … ““Five years ago our options were limited but now there is a developing and competitive marketplace out there with a lot to offer. If an outsider can do a better job at a lower cost then we won’t be afraid to take the first step.”
 “Unfortunately, Wandsworth Council “forgot” to inform or consult those who are reluctantly volunteering at the York Gardens Library in order to keep it open.  If the Council give the contract to a profit making organisation, someone will be making a profit from those volunteer hours. So much for the “big society” – it could be big profits from poor suckers.”

If you want to free an oppressed people, then build a library and leave the door open

Comment

The quote above, slightly amended, is from a character called Rincewind by a book from Terry Pratchett.  Of course, being somewhat sold on the benefit of public libraries, I would add to the “oppressed people” a whole list of others – including those with mental illness as mentioned in a post below – but the quote is a good one and needs reusing, again and again. 
Being I have not updated PLN since Sunday there’s a lot of news below.  The stand outs for me are:  Surrey is strongly considering a big u-turn on forcing volunteers to run their libraries and providing those that will be volunteer-run with more support; the US company LSSI has scrapped its always ambitious 15% target for running public libraries having taken over precisely none in the last year; the lack of investment in Angus and North Tyneside that is beginning to seriously inconvenience library users … hmmm, well, there’s a lot.  Have  a look.  More newspaper coverage than public libraries would normally receive in a month, in three days.  The ambition must be for all of us to continue tipping the quality of that news to the positive in the hard times ahead.
420 libraries (330 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are 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.


Actions

News

“The government has shown no commitment whatsoever to championing public libraries. Its attitude is better described as craven and supine in the face of protests in every kind of community from deprived to wealthy, urban to rural, working-class to upper-middle class. It has seen three different authorities taken to judicial review (with more court cases inevitably on the way) and still it has not intervened. How can this possibly be said to represent a commitment to championing public libraries?”

  • MPs back Wakefield’s drama library – Wakefield Express.  A motion has been tabled in parliament calling on the culture secretary to protect a popular music and drama library in Wakefield. MPs in the Midlands, where 80 amateur orchestras and drama groups use the collection at Balne Lane Library, tabled the Early Day Motion last week.”
  • Online Information 2011 Day One – Walk You Home.  “We need to go to where our users/audience want to be and take our content to them (and it’s not that much of an effort to do so using a few different platforms); We need to be brave and take risks with social media and communicating with our users online; It can be very worthwhile to set something up and then ask for permission and forgiveness later! (Heck, if Westminster Abbey and the EU are going to take this kind of risk, then surely libraries can too)…” … “Librarians/Information Professionals have the opportunity to position ourselves as experts in the field of information retrieval, fact-checking and democratisation of information. We need to make ourselves useful, sell ourselves and gain recognition for this”
  • Privacy of the library patron, and mental illness –  Wordshore.  Examines the great importance of public libraries to those suffering from depression and other mental illness.  Those who think that a pound spent on libraries is a pound lost on social care should read this article.  Good comments too [apart from that useless one near the beginning from me – Ed.]

Image CC Philip Bradley from Flickr (via Walk You Home).

  • Public libraries turn up the volume (literally) – Huffington Post (USA).  Looking at ways libraries are avoiding the “shhh” stereotype.  “A makeover at the Chicago Public Library has turned one room into a teen-heaven, stacking the “YOUMedia” lab on the ground floor with video game systems”. “In the UK, they’ve been cranking up the volume even more. The award-winning Get It Loud In Libraries program has been active since 2005, aiming to showcase up-and-coming bands in libraries across Lancashire. Their mission: to allow “kids from 5 to 65 to check out bands at close quarters in a book clad feelgood venue before they hit the proverbial big time.”  See also Louder libraries for a digital age – Education Week (USA). 
  • Public Library News man wins IWR award Information World Review.   “Presenting the award at Online Information, editor of IWR Peter Williams said: “Ian’s work is a stirring story of how much can be achieved and how knowledge and information really is power. A well deserved winner. I would urge you to go take a look at his work.” [Gosh – Ed.]
  • Save the UK libraries? It’s beyond me, admits US guru – Independent.   LSSI: “A slug of judicial reviews and lack of tenders by local authorities, which are nervous of outsourcing their library services to independent providers, were among the reasons cited.”.  Interesting comments. 
    • LSSI “revises UK targets” – BookSeller.  Definitive targets not set for UK business, 15% target announced earlier this year now scrapped.
  • Should libraries stick to books? – The Star (Canada).  “Toronto’s budget chief questioned Tuesday whether the Toronto Public Library should be in the business of offering popular movies and material not in the English language.”  Calls DVDs and non-English material and becoming a community centre “program creep”.
“I guess it depends what you think a library is,” she said. “A library is no longer a room full of books. It’s the computers where people can come to get jobs, improve their education. Some of the videos are how-to videos. We’ve got the newspapers, we’ve got magazines. We’re working to get more e-books. Doucette said she sees the library as “a hub of a community. It’s a cooling centre in the summer, it’s somewhere you can go in the winter. You go to study. It allows students to do better in school, which gets them better jobs in the long run.”

  • Star writers to add “glamour” to library drive – London Evening Standard.  “Despite the closure of many libraries as spending cuts bite, an analysis by the Society of Chief Librarians estimates at least 40 new or significantly refurbished libraries will open next year including the Idea Store at Watney Market in Tower Hamlets. Tony Durcan, the society’s president, said libraries remained a positive service even if their staff were “stressed” by the demand for savings. “Those funding them deserve to see that there is a huge public demand for our reading role,” he said.” … “Joanna Prior, managing director of Penguin’s general division, said: “In 2012, we will stitch libraries into the fabric of our big industry reading promotions, push library membership and help tell a positive PR story about the importance of libraries to a healthy reading nation.”
  • Tell Bali Rai what you want to read, and talk, about – Guardian.    “Are you sick of vampires? Do you care about libraries or riots? What are you reading? Booktrust’s new writer in residence Bali Rai wants to know what’s important to you” … “At a time of great uncertainty and change for education and libraries (both school and public) I want to focus on the positive things that are being done to promote reading by Booktrust and others. I also want to highlight the incredible work being done to challenge library closures by campaigners like Alan Gibbons, whose Campaign For The Book I wholeheartedly endorse.”
  • Victory for the libraries in the High Court – LeftLion.  Reports on Glos/Somerset court case.  “…raise the question that there is a greater need for libraries to be involved in communities to help support schools in reducing this shameful statistic. Let us not forget that the library is not just about supporting literacy. It’s a place of ideas. The real challenge is getting this across to the public so that it becomes an invaluable commodity.”

Changes

Local News

  • Angus – Concerns over library provision – Brechin Advertiser.  Mobile library that replaced Edzell library closed in 2010 has been off the road, the new vans being promised to replace old ones not having been bought with the purchase date now pushed back to January 2012.
    • Edzell locals say library promised have turned out to be fiction – Courier.  “”As far as Edzell is concerned, ELAG feel strongly that the village has hardly been treated equitably. Staff hours in Brechin Library amount to 157.75 hours per week, while we have had only two hours per week in a decrepit library van — when it has been able to come — parked outside the A-listed Inglis Memorial Hall.”
  • Brent – Pop up library flooded with book donations as community continues campaign to save Kensal Rise Library – Save Kensal Rise Library.   “The pop-up library outside Kensal Rise Library has been flooded with books, as residents continue the campaign. Volunteers are maintaining a presence outside the library every day, symbolising its importance within the community.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Major boost for Little Chalfont Library – Buckinghamshire Examiner.   “The charity entered a competition run by NatWest Bank called CommunityForce. Community Groups and charities registered projects, the public then voted for the project or projects of their choice and the three in each region with the most votes received a cash prize of at least £6000. Little Chalfont Library received £6275 after being named in the top three in the Chiltern region.”
“I would like to thank everybody who voted for our project. We were overwhelmed by the public support that not only gained us a much needed cash prize but also demonstrated the community support for a library that is entirely managed and run by unpaid community volunteers.”

  • Calderdale – MP slams council for not consulting over new library  – Halifax Courier.  “… council is risking a huge public backlash by rushing into building a new library in Halifax without fully consulting users, the town’s MP has warned.”.  Lots of comments.  
  • Camden – Volunteers raise £60,000 to save library – London Evening Standard.  “More than £60,000 has been raised in a week including “around 10″ four-figure pledges and one offer of £35,000. The aim is to raise a £1.2 million endowment fund so that the interest and other money from letting and activities will provide enough to guarantee the future annual income.”
  • Conwy – Public libraries might be sited in schools – North Wales Pioneer.  “Schools, community centres and volunteers could be asked to help pitch in with library services. A report to Conwy County Borough Council’s Customers Overview and Scrutiny Comittee today (Wednesday), suggests the council widens its library services from its standard sites to schools and colleges, as suggested by the public.
  • Croydon – Schools, libraries and hospital all affected by strike action in Croydon –  Croydon Guardian.  “The council expects libraries, including the central library in Katharine Street, Thornton Heath, South Norwood and Bradmore Green to be open but could run a reduced service.”
  • Cumbria – DVDs return to smaller Cumbrian libraries – News & Star.   “The u-turn comes following public feedback on the withdrawal of the service around 12 months ago when the county council said it was concentrating on developing it in the larger ones. It has decided to bring the service back, following more than 4,000 responses from the public.”
  • Dorset – Hope remains for library supporters – Dorset Echo.   ““Now, at long last, the parliamentary committee which oversees his [Jeremy Hunt’s] department [DCMS] has taken action. It has called for a review of the way in which the minister exercises his powers to safeguard libraries.”Ad Lib is now urging supporters of Dorset’s threatened libraries to have their say in the inquiry by emailing cmsev@parliament.uk to demand that the law is strengthened to protect people in rural areas.”
  • Gloucestershire – Peter Arnold: “Closing any our libraries is a sinFoGL.  “To close the door on any one of [our libraries] is a sin, and a blow to our society and to civilisation itself” “Libraries are a great repository of knowledge, and therefore of learning. If you want to know anything about anything you can learn it, with a little help, via your local library, and this is especially so since the introduction of computers”
It was Terry Pratchett who wrote that, “if you want to free an oppressed people, then build a library and leave the door open.” He was right”

  • Hertfordshire – Borehamwood library gets grant to extend opening hoursThis is Local London.  “It is hoped the extra opening hours will help literacy levels in the area and encourage parents to bring their children to the library to read together.” 
  • Neath Port Talbot – Library service turning over a new leaf – This is South Wales.  “Head of partnership and community development Russell Ward said the council spent £202,000 on stock, £47,000 less than required, though it had made small but significant increases to its book fund. Mr Ward said the authority was also taking action to address the matter of staffing.”
  • North Tyneside – Plans put on hold yet again – News Guardian.   “Councillors had been asked to approved plans to borrow £2.7m to spend on refurbishing North Shields Central Library and creating a joint service centre.”
  • North Yorkshire – Secure future for libraries one step closer after vote – Ripon Gazette.   “LIbraries in Boroughbridge and Masham are one step closer to a secure future after county councillors approved proposals for volunteers to play a part in running the facilities.” … “In Masham the library is set to move from its current home to a room in the community office, where it will be run by the community office staff and team of volunteers with support and some funding from the county council.”
  • Northern Ireland – Library cuts “not done deal”: chief executive – Carrick Times.  Greenisland and Whitehead opening hours may be cut but consultation may still stop this. 
  • Northumberland – Mobile library service under review – Berwick Advertiser.   “Coun Neil Bradbury, executive member responsible for libraries, said: “We are suggesting some proposed changes to the service, with the ultimate aim of creating a better, and more consistent service for all of its users and safeguarding the long term future of the mobile library service.“We feel there is scope to revise the timetable and make the savings required, without detriment to the service,” he added.”
  • Southwark – “Super library” in Southwark opens its doors – BBC.  “The £14m Canada Water Library, opened by Southwark Council, will hold 40,000 books, CDs and films. It will also be host to theatre performances, meetings and evening courses. Council bosses claim the library is the “shape of libraries to come”.
“Our libraries have been well managed over a long period of time and what we’ve managed to do is listen to people. Over 6,000 people said they would rather we did things like reduce hours or use volunteers than close libraries. That was enough people saying libraries were important.”

  • Surrey – Plan for more community-run libraries is scrapped – Get Surrey.   “Cllr Hodge said he had listened to people’s views since being elected as leader at the beginning of October, and speaking about the libraries announcements, he said: “I believe this will help those people out in the community who may have some concerns [and] will give us a much better plan going forward.” … “Cllr John Orrick, the Liberal Democrat communities spokesperson on SCC, said: “The Conservative county council has effectively admitted, by their U-turn on the plans for the second tranche of libraries, that the idea is disastrous. They should go further and announce that the whole plan is going to be scrapped.”
    • County Council drop second phase of library plan – BBC.  
    • Scales back on volunteer-run library plans – BookSeller.  “Hodge referred to the “world [economic] situation” and added “if at times we are being asked at some stage in the future to cut back on what we have already planned we may have to revisit things again”
    • Library set for community partnership reprieve? – Elmbridge Today.   “The authority is creating a Strategic Library Network, consisting of council-managed branches and others run by volunteers in “community partnerships”.”
    • Improving libraries: temporary closures – Surrey Council.   Woking and Stanwell are being converted to self-service.
    • Libraries, include Hersham, win reprieve – Guardian Series.  “Roy Green of Hersham Village Society, who was fiercely fighting the proposals with the Friends of Hersham Library, said it was good news – for the time being. He said: I think we need to tread very carefully because we’ve fought closure for the past 25 years and we think everything is ok and then a few years go by and we have to starts fighting again.”
    • Campaigners welcome library u-turn – Guardian Series.   Lib Dems: ““We have argued against two tiers of library, with no second class libraries, and we want professionals at the heart of Surrey’s library network.” …  Comment: “I think that the idea of engaging willing volunteers to supplement professional library staff is good, but it should be grown naturally, with support, and not imposed at the end of a gun-barrel.”
  • Wandsworth/Croydon – Councils to hive off library contracts – 24dash.com.  “Bidders are being asked to pitch new ideas on how to improve local libraries and the additional services they could offer – like coffee bars, career advice or online movie streaming.”  Also see if external company/trust can gain more funding.  Wandsworth’s current management is bidding to run both councils’ services.
“We’ve been through this process in other areas like leisure centres, refuse collection and meals on wheels. The results have been improved services, new ideas and better value for money.”

  • Warwickshire – Shipston residents asked to give their views on opening hours – Cotswold journal.  “library consultation is in full swing with more than 1,000 residents expressing their views on the future opening hours of the county’s libraries. So far, the four-week consultation period has attracted almost 700 online survey responses and nearly 500 written survey responses.”
    • Whitnash urged to vote in library poll – Courier.   “At Whitnash town council last week, county councillor Bernard Kirton described the consultation as “inconspicuous” while Cllr Tony Heath said it was “offensive” that only 100 forms had been provided. Cllr Siobhan Mulherin said they should be given out at schools and elderly people’s clubs to increase the response.”

“What constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st Century?”

Comment

The Select Committee Inquiry into Library Closures is going to be asking a lot of questions and they’re going to expect answers.  So, everyone interested had better starting thinking about it, one question at a time. The question I’ll focus on today is one that the committee has specifically said will come up: “What constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century?”.
That “for the 21st century” bit is red herring.  Library use is declining, as the CIPFA figures seem to indicate, not because of the date but because of financial pressures.  In England where the materials budget went down 6% (although, to be fair, overall budgets went down “only” 2.3% but with inflation at 3.5% that makes nearly a 6% cut in real spending terms)  usage went down around 2.5% [This sentence has been corrected slightly from the original due to a correction gratefully received – Ed.].  In Scotland and Wales, on the other hand, budgets stayed roughly the same and usage has increased.  Public library usage in England would presumably also have shown a slight increase (as it had over the three previous years) if funding had not been drastically cut. 
Drastically, that is, compared to before 2011. The few year’s ahead of us will make a 5% cut look like heaven. If we translate that “for the 21st century” as “for a time of unprecedented budget cuts”, it makes much more sense. There’s several ways to play this question.  One can argue with the premise of the question and say that library budgets should not be cut.  There are good solid reasons why they should not be after all.  For instance:
Another way is to accept that cuts could be made, that libraries are not a special case, but that cuts need to be proportionate to those of other services.  Use this one if you are prepared to see many libraries close. The average cut for local authority budgets is 28% over four years.  In some authorities a cut of that level would be a lot less than already announced (e.g.Cambridgeshire 48% cut, Doncaster and Northamptonshire over 50% cut) but in many others, the cuts announced so far appear to be in line, or less.  Besides, a cut of nearly a third over four years is drastic, a nightmare of unearthly proportions for services already underfunded.  In Gloucestershire, the service faces a 43% cut despite a cut already of 30%.  In such circumstances, a proportional cut is a cut that will close libraries or make them so poorly funded that they will fail anyway due to lack of use. 
Another thought on that “21st Century” thing.  This is also a reference to ebooks and the widespread use of the internet.  Many will already be familiar with the argument that the introduction of the internet and the ebook wipes out the need for libraries.  Not so.  It would if everyone had enough money to buy all the books they needed and had internet access at home.   We do not live in such a world, although many of those criticising libraries as outdated apparently do.  Most certainly, libraries should make provision for online access, databases and free internet use.  This represents a natural progression from their historic mission.  However, it is worth pointing out that if the traditional services – you know, little things like printed books and buildings – are to remain worthwhile, then such an advance into electronic resources means an addition to the budget, not a funding cut unparalleled in peacetime British history.  
Ebooks? Well where there’s not enough space to really even begin with ebooks.  I have always thought that free immediate access to books was the realm of the bookshop and not, despite all its wonders, the public library.  If you have wanted a bestseller from the library before the Age of Kindle, you had to physically go to it and, normally, join a waiting list.  Universal library ebooks, which many in the profession desire, destroy this inbuilt advantage towards booksellers.  It’s hard to see why someone would “buy” (it’s not really – but that’s another article) an ebook if they could lend it for free as easily.  There remains a big battle to be won by libraries over how publishers can afford to allow library ebooks and remain in business.  Perhaps the committee could be persuaded to allow some form of Public Lending Right for ebooks.  Without it, publishers and booksellers are unlikely to be willing partners in the long term. 
So there’s a lot for the Select Committee, and for library users and workers, to think about on this one question.  It will be worth the effort though. Because, otherwise, the 21st Century library is going to be, more often than not, closed.

422 libraries (332 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are 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.

Actions

  • Write about your views on public libraries to the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport.  Email cmsev@parliament.uk with “library closures” in subject line. Emails stand more chance of being effective if they give your views on (1) “what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st Century”, (2) to what extent library closures are compatible with the law and the Charteris Report, (3) the impact closures have on communities and (4) the effectiveness of the secretary of state’s powers of interviention.  Deadline: 12th January 2012. NB full details on how to submit your views are here.  More guidance on giving written and verbal evidence is here. 
  • Please sign the national petition in support of public libraries.
  • Email Justin Tomlinson MP for Swindon about your concerns.  He is the chair of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for libraries to be launched in December.

News

  • Alan Bennett Drops in for tear with Occupy London protesters – Guardian.  “The playwright took tea with activists on Friday, and left two signed copies of his work at the camp’s library tent.”
  • Christmas Gifts 2011: Julie Myerson – Guardian. “the book I’d most like to be given is anything bought at one of the two independent bookshops in Southwold, Suffolk. Except both have now closed down. Which makes membership of Southwold Library – now ludicrously also under threat – the best free gift you could give anyone there this Christmas.”
  • I love Hawaii LibrariesValdezign (USA).  Our family loves the library. Every week, our house is replenished with new books to read, CDs to listen to, and movies and TV shows on DVD to watch, all for free (and just $1 for DVDs)! But because of a more than $3,000,000 dollar budget reduction, Hawaii’s public libraries have been forced to slash hours and staff, with some branches even threatening to close. Friends of the Library Hawaii has already raised over $100,000 dollars in donations with their “Keep The Doors Open!” campaign but are far from reaching their goal of $3 million. How can you help? With a personalized Hawaii library t-shirt!”
  • In fight with Amazon, libraries caught in the crossfire – Publishers Weekly.   “But, librarians note, it is publishers that have changed the game. Unlike print books, which libraries own, e-books are licensed and access is managed, an expansion of power for publishers. Where a publisher would never be permitted to pull its physical books off a library shelf, or limit lends, publishers in the e-book world can now decide whether to allow access to an e-book at all, how to do it, and under what terms. “Loaning e-books is like playing with some other kid’s ball on the playground,” explained Christopher Harris on the ALA blog. “There is always a risk that the other kid will take back his or her ball and go home. This is a game libraries have to play.” Harris added, “I just wish we could bring our own ball.”
  • Launch eventThe Network.   “The Network is an opportunity for LIS workers from all sectors at all stages of their career – from students to senior professionals to meet, develop and learn.”
  • Library envyReader.  Mayor of Chicago is cutting library budgets, although his hometown has a fantastic library service and Chicago’s libraries are, if anything, over used.  “At the front desk, one incredibly harried librarian tried to work her way through a long line of patrons while the nearby pile of books and CDs in need of reshelving grew higher.”
  • Public libraries a free resource for any ageKid Companions (USA).   Very pro public library article.  “Make the public library your place for Information, Imagination, and Inspiration!  And if you want to open doors for your child, open the library doors!”
  • Public libraries lure more users –  Menafn (Africa).  Ghana/Kenya libraries doing well, with Ugandan libraries catching up.  Often a vital source of health, agriculture and employment.
  • Question raised in the House of Commons regarding the government’s museums and librarians budgets – They Work For You.  Dan Jarvis MP asks Ed Vaizey about funding, Mr Vaizey provides the tables.  Figures are almost entirely from museums and for the British Library (BL reduced from £105m 2010/11 to £93.4m 2014/15: if inflation stays at 5% this would mean budget to £78m in real spending power).  Public libraries largely excluded from figures apart from note that “MLA’s responsibility for libraries was transferred to Arts Council England (ACE) and on 9 November ACE launched a second Libraries Development Initiative. It will run between March 2012 and March 2013 supporting around 10 projects with a maximum of £20,000 per project to create vibrant, sustainable 21(st) century library service.” [MLA budget for libraries was £13m, ACE budget for libraries is now £3m – Mr Vaizey fails to mention this – Ed.].


This Week in Libraries: “What is a library?” from Jaap van de Geer.

Local News

  • Brent – Kensal Rise vicar: “We are praying for our libraries” – Save Kensal Rise Library.  “…we have been praying and will continue to pray, for both the library campaign and Brent Council, that a positive and peaceful solution would be found for the future of all our libraries and the overall welfare of the borough. A number of my congregation are passionate about trying to find a way forward to keep local services available for local people.”
  • Gloucestershire – Library friends to help with inquiry – This is Gloucestershire.  “The DCMS has been like a rabbit caught in the headlights and is now reacting, so let’s hope it will do this review properly and library users’ views will really be listened to. She said the group had received hundreds of letters from vulnerable people who use libraries as a lifeline.” 
    •  Lib Dems to question council’s stance on libraries – This is Gloucestershire.  “Liberal Democrats are once again challenging Gloucestershire County Council’s stance on libraries after their views were previously dismissed in “a cavalier fashion”.  Council leader accuses Lib Dems of jumping on a bandwagon.
  • Kirklees – Volunteers wanted to save libraries council can’t afford to run – Yorkshire Post.   “As a minimum, the community-run libraries would offer self-service books and other media loans, public access computers for accessing the internet, word processing and library-based events. Book reservation and inquiries would be provided through a free phone access to the nearby council-staffed library and information centre.”

Be thankful for your local library

422 libraries (332 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are 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.

Actions

  • Write about your views on public libraries to the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport.  Email cmsev@parliament.uk with “library closures” in subject line. Emails stand more chance of being effective if they give your views on (1) “what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st Century”, (2) to what extent library closures are compatible with the law and the Charteris Report, (3) the impact closures have on communities and (4) the effectiveness of the secretary of state’s powers of interviention.  Deadline: 12th January 2012. NB full details on how to submit your views are here.  More guidance on giving written and verbal evidence is here. 
  • Please sign the national petition in support of public libraries.
  • Email Justin Tomlinson MP for Swindon about your concerns.  He is the chair of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for libraries to be launched in December.

News

  • Be thankful for your local library – BookRiot.  ” I hope. Despite my frustration about not having a bookstore, I can’t complain when I’m reminded that my local libraries are always an option.”
  • Consider the library –  “Consider The Library is a simple Chrome Plug In that gently reminds those browsing for books on websites like Amazon or Waterstones that their local library* often has a copy of the book available on their shelves.”
  • Could ebooks kill off our libraries? – Metro. The online link to story covered yesterday.
  • Library control still an open bookSimi Valley Acorn (USA).  LSSI may take over system causing wide protest.  “Residents worry: Will employees lose their jobs or see a loss in benefits and wages? Will the collections be depleted without access to the county’s interlibrary loan system? Will programs like adult literacy tutoring cease to exist?” 
  • MPs probe threat to libraries – London Evening Standard.   “Tory member Louise Mensch, a best-selling novelist under the name Louise Bagshawe, said: “Reading is so fundamental to education that it is right to look at how cuts are affecting provision and what the service should look like in the modern age.”
  • Occupy London Library spreads its wings – Guardian.  The library at Finsbury Square is little more than a couple of shelves and a sofa in a tent, while around the corner at the Bank of Ideas there’s a fair amount of shelving, though not much in the way of actual books. But according to the Bank’s poet in residence – or maybe that should be “poet in occupation” – Pete the Temp, these are early days.”
  • Open letter to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Education – Campaign for the Book (Alan Gibbons).    “In your peroration, you praise Willy Russell’s Educating Rita, but where will future Ritas find that pathway to literature, art and philosophy if the school and public libraries are closed and the book-gifting schemes are starved of funds?”
  • When libraries forget their missionRoger Pearse.   Article is (a) disgusted that there are sessions for preschool children in libraries, that (b) a book ordered from central store is not sent [ultra-expensively] via Royal Mail but is sent by a van instead, that (c) the library does not charge for full cost (£15) for British Library requests, that (d) budget cuts have led to a lack of staff and thus delay, (e) that “a woman” is assumed to be in charge.  From this, writer decides that libraries should all be closed down as they are failing in their mission to supply him with books on “Mithras: the secret god”.  [The user is actually pro library and understands their place in supplying books to those who cannot afford them: but comes to the conclusion that because libraries are underfunded and inefficient that they should be closed down rather than the more obvious one that they should be sufficiently funded and more efficient – Ed.]

Changes

Local News

  • Cumbria – This could be a new chapter for libraries – Times and Star.  The key was for communities to show that libraries in this day and age can be about so much more than book lending; that there was a social aspect beyond the dwindling numbers of books being borrowed. So we witnessed school pupils staging a protest march to save Distington village library, public meetings in Seaton and Moorclose, petitions and letters being fired off to the Prime Minister. The communities spoke with a single voice, explaining how their local libraries were vital social hubs.”
  • Isle of Wight – Protesters cheered by court ruling over library closures – IWCP.   “Dave Quigley, from the Friends of the Isle of Wight Library Service, said the latest ruling gave fresh hope to campaigners. He added the group was looking at joining forces with mainland groups to try to reverse closures. He said: “There are moves on a national basis to get the government into court for a judicial review.”  In a separate move, Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport scrutiny committee is to hold an inquiry into library closures. The cross-party committee will have the power to call local authorities to give evidence. Isle of Wight Council cabinet member for libraries Cllr Barry Abraham said the challenges against the mainland councils were against their procedures, which were done correctly on the Island.”
  • Kent – Set for library shake-up – BookSeller.  “While details of the shake-up are as yet unclear, cabinet member with responsibility for libraries Mike Hill said the council’s proposal “balances the need to modernise services, work with communities to find innovative and efficient ways to maintain a local library service and meet our statutory responsibilities while delivering further revenue savings.”
    • Desperate villagers try to cling on to library – This is Kent.   “The prospect of losing their library has left people living in Borough Green distraught…ane Alberine, 39, of Western Road, said: “I would be devastated if it closed. I go there for books and DVDs and my daughter sometimes does her homework there. I run a beginners’ drawing group and we display our work in the library, so we would have nowhere to exhibit the work.”.  Fear also that local shops would lose trade.
  • Kirklees – Volunteers asked to take over seven Kirkless Council libraries to help avoid axe: find out which are affected here and have your say –  Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  “Clr Pandor added that volunteer-run libraries would offer self-service books and public access computers as a minimum. The change would allow the seven libraries to have different opening times.”
    • Clear plan needed on Kirklees libraries – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  Council unclear on if staff will be cut and how services will be delivered with the key skills of library staff. Unclear also how effecitiveness of volunteers will be monitored.  “Libraries have long helped people broaden their horizons, brush up their skills and acquire new ones. In essence, our libraries offer a key support network where people can realise their potential and if they chose, become more connected to their community. Little wonder then that as libraries continue to have such a key role in our towns and villages, there is concern that changes are looming.”
  • Northumberland – Changes planned to Northumberland mobile libraries in bid to save £50,000 – Journal Live.   “Although the fleet of vans is being cut from four to three, a new vehicle has recently been bought, which council bosses believe will make the service more reliable and less prone to breakdowns.”
  • Wiltshire – Council launches new website to help people get online – Chippenham People.  Council thinks people who have difficulty getting online will look online for help.  Comment below article points out libraries may be a more sensible place, although they have been cut in the county.
    • Keeping libraries open at a cost – Alan Gibbons.  Response from Wiltshire Libraries to details taken from the tally page of Public Libraries News.  “It is true that the changes have meant a reduction in the number of staff, and in opening hours, but all libraries are still open and all mobile libraries are still on the road. This was our main objective – and something our lead members considered important.”
  • Wokingham – Council to review libraries decision – Get Wokingham.  “Following debate, Wokingham Borough Council approved a recommendation to review its decision to outsource control of the borough’s libraries after a competitive tender process, to take account of public feeling.”.  First ever council debate forced by petition (2300 names).  Council denies giving council to a private company is privatisation and says it would retain right to increase charges.  Also denies that expected 10% cut in libraries budget (plus profit for the private company concerned) would result in any staff losing their jobs and accuse petition’s backers (Lib Dems) of scaremongering.
  • Worcestershire – Pershore residents support library plan – Evesham Journal.  Public protests led to town and county council working together to keep library in current location and to refurbish it.  ” More than 100 residents turned out to hear how both authorities have been working together in recent months to develop the idea which could also see a full refurbishment of the current building”

“The City of London does not have funds” to help with a cut library

423 libraries (333 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are 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.

Actions

  • Write about your views on public libraries to the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport.  Email cmsev@parliament.uk with “library closures” in subject line. Emails stand more chance of being effective if they give your views on (1) “what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st Century”, (2) to what extent library closures are compatible with the law and the Charteris Report, (3) the impact closures have on communities and (4) the effectiveness of the secretary of state’s powers of interviention.  Deadline: 12th January 2012. NB full details on how to submit your views are here.  More guidance on giving written and verbal evidence is here. 
  • Please sign the national petition in support of public libraries.
  • Email Justin Tomlinson MP for Swindon about your concerns.  He is the chair of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for libraries to be launched in December.

News

  • Could ebooks kill off  our libraries? – Metro.  Discusses Penguin’s decision not to allow lending of its ebooks. Librarians keen to provide ebooks.  Problems with publishers effectively selling their wares for free if this happens is unresolved.
  • Craze for political language – Spectator.   “In related news, libraries are a growing issue at Westminster. The Bookseller reports that the Culture, Media and Sport committee, made famous by the phonehacking saga, is to investigate library closures.”
    • MP’s to investigate library closures – Guardian.  Campaigners give mixed response.  On the one side, a worry that committee may suggest an even weaker Act to replace the 1964 one and that the committee will only really listen to the detractors of libraries.  On the other side, happy that the matter is being looked at and that library users can make their voices heard. 
    • Campaign for the Book response to the Select Committee on Libraries – Alan Gibbons.   “We believe that it is incumbent upon the DCMS, in line with its duties to superintend the public library service, to order a moratorium on library closures.”
    • Save all teh libraries lol – Wordshore.  Very readable piece on the inquiry into library closures and on the use of volunteers in libraries.  Gives twitter links for most of the Inquiry MPs and other strategies for talking to them.  
  • Downton Abbey’s creator Julian Fellowes charms locals with talk on library closuresMail. “Downton Abbey’s fruity creator, the theatrical Julian Fellowes, 62 – elevated to the peerage to the delight of tout le monde – visited Hampstead to talk about library closures. He charmed local folk by observing: ‘Libraries are very important for people who don’t have a place to think or work quietly. We must keep them open wherever we can.’ To which his brilliant Downton Abbey creation butler Carson might respond: ‘Quite so, m’lord. Will that be all?’
  • Occupy for the word – BookSeller.  “And next to this wall of noise, reminiscent of dissident fly-posting in an authoritarian state, is the OSX library.  At first glance, this tentful of bookcases and old books looks much the same as a second-hand stall at a literary festival.  Books are being widely donated to the library, and cover a broad spectrum of interest.  And I found myself thinking, not for the first time, what happens if/when all these books just . . . go away?” … “Closed public libraries and restricted digital access are two sides of two different coins, but any change that limits contact with ideas and inspiration – for everyone – fills me with concern.”
“The fact that libraries have become a central part of the Occupy… protests around the world attests to their importance in an informed society. ”

  • PA [Publisher’s Association] supports Penguin e-lending bar – BookSeller.   “Penguin UK announced this morning [24th November] that it would be withholding new e-books from UK library suppliers, saying that it supported libraries but wanted “to strike the right balance between access to our content and the protection of our authors’ copyright.”.  Librarians not happy, calling it “a bit devastating” and hopes that decision can be changed.
  • Successful challenge to library closures: lip service not enough for equality duties: Shaheen Rahman UK Human Rights Blog.  “Both councils had purported to carry out equality impact assessments but the mere fact that such an assessment had been conducted did not demonstrate that due regard had been given to the public sector equality duty.”.  1964 Act beyond powers of the court to invoke. “However, the court could only intervene where something had gone seriously wrong in the information-gathering process.  Otherwise, it was a matter for the Secretary of State to consider whether to undertake an inquiry pursuant under s.10 of the Act.”
“Despite the success of this challenge, it is questionable whether it will have much effect in stemming the tide of library closures.  The court’s observations on resources clearly leave a lot of scope for councils to move on with plans to withdraw funding for libraries, notwithstanding the impact on the local community.”

  • Why do we advocate for libraries? – WordShore.  No one knows how the remaining eight years of this decade will play out, with respect to libraries. Anyone who predicts what libraries will be like, and what information services they will offer, in 2020 is either not serious, a hopeless optimist, or getting a nice speakers fee for something with no evidence behind it.” … “I haven’t a clue. And neither do you. Might as well ride the sandworm of advocacy, and see where it takes us.”

Changes

Camden – Chalk Farm Library may be run by Primrose Hill Community Association, Belize by the Winch Community Centre and Heath Library may be run by the new Phoenix Group charity.  

Local News

  • Brent – Local children plea for library Preston Library Campaign.  School children’s letters about what the library means to them.
  • Camden – £60,000 raised in a week for Chalk Farm branch! Cash pours in for “Save Our Library” appeal – Camden New Journal.  “Donations have been coming in thick and fast in support of Primrose Hill Community Association’s bid to save Chalk Farm Library. The steering group has received “around ten” four-figure pledges as well as the £35,000 from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.”  …  “Meanwhile, Belsize Library, in Antrim Grove, could be saved by the intervention of The Winch community centre in Swiss Cottage – though no plans have yet been finalised. The Winch chief executive Paul Perkins says the plan would see the library stay open – partially paid for by offering other, unspecified services.”.  
“The Heath branch, in Keats Grove, looks likely to be run by a new charity, The Phoenix Group, formed by library users, members of the library’s Friends group and the Heath and Hampstead Society. It has been in talks with the City of London, which owns the library building … The City of London does not have funds to do this, nor sees it as its role to run a library service outside its boundaries.”

  • Doncaster – Campaigners look to judicial reviewBookSeller.  Doncaster campaigners are considering applying for judicial review over library closures, following approval by the council’s cabinet yesterday (23rd November) of plans to close two of the borough’s libraries and hand a further 12 over to communities to run.”
    • Libraries will close as pleas for re-think thrown out – Epworth Bells.   “We believe the whole closure consultation process has been flawed and whole communities will be damaged. There has been a distinct lack of transparency and it’s a scandal that everything can be done at the whim of one person.”.  Mayor Peter Davies says ““The number of active protestors on this issue have been minimal. No-one has approached me in the street and told me I’m doing a bad thing here”… to which the response is ” If only the 16,000+ people who have signed petitions against the plans had known that their views did not count as an expression of disagreement, and that they should approach the Mayor in the street instead!”
  • Gloucestershire – Continuing threat to libraries will not deter Bourton bid – Cotswold Journal.   ““Providing we are successful in turning Moore Cottage Hospital into a community hub then we will be providing a library facility that will be larger and will operate more hours. I don’t see why the library lobby will have any effect on Bourton. What we are offering was for greater services than we have already got.”
  • Kent – Council employs debt collector for library fines – BBC.  “From January, a list of the people who fail to respond to reminder letters will be passed to [USA owned] Unique Management collection agency.”.  Council has not revealed how much attempted debt recovery of £100k will cost them.
  • North Yorkshire – Blueprint for library closures – Gazette & Herald.  “Under the proposals, North Yorkshire’s existing 42 branch libraries would be retained with the exception of Malton and Norton libraries. The proposals envisage the creation of a new branch convenient for both communities.The 41 libraries would be run either by the county council’s library service, volunteers, or by a combination of both.” 
    • Council ready to hand over its libraries – Yorkshire Post. “But it emerged earlier this month that more than a fifth of the library service’s workforce is due to be axed with 36 posts going from 177 full-time staff, while opening hours in many branches are to be cut. All North Yorkshire’s branches will be retained, with the exception of Malton and Norton libraries which will be merged into one. The 41 remaining branches will be run either by the county council’s library service, volunteers, or a combination of both.”
  • Somerset – Library service saved, but what’s the real cost? – Glastonbury People.   “Many wrote to councillors, several thousands of people signed petitions demanding a rethink. The pages of this newspaper were filled with letters decrying the decision. Then the public donated several thousand pounds to afford a legal challenge, and after a court case costing the general tax payer hundreds of thousands of pounds more, the council got the message.”
    • South Petherton Library praised – This is the West Country.   ““When I was campaigning for the South Petherton county by-election in the summer, I didn’t meet anyone who supported the closure of the library, so this ruling is the right one.”.  Cost of legal action deplored.
  • Wakefield – One-stop council shop on course for Wakefield – Wakefield Express.  “Wakefield One will provide customers with access to services ranging from benefits and tax to planning when it opens at Merchant Gate in September next year. Wakefield Museum and the Drury Lane and Balne Lane libraries will all move into the new building, which has been paid for through the selling of other council sites.” … “Balne Library will close in January 2012 with key services being moved to a temporary home in Drury Lane Library until the opening of Wakefield One.”

Parliamentary Select Committee announces inquiry into library closures

Comment

At long last, the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport has announced an inquiry into library closures .  Being a part of parliament, this group of ten MPs (five Conservative, four Labour, one Lib Dem) has significant clout in influencing the the future of public libraries.  It will effectively decide for itself what it thinks the public library service should be in this country, what legal protection it should have and if the DCMS is doing enough.  It will then present its results to the Department and to Parliament.
This is unlikely to be seen as good news by the DCMS being that, under the uninterested Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt and the invisible minister-technically-for-libraries Ed Vaizey, it has done precisely nothing in the last year (other than writing two vaguely worded letters) while presiding over the biggest cuts to library services in history.  Very aptly, the department has said today it has “noted” the fact of the inquiry.  That represents its entire response to the crisis since 2010.  In one word.
Defenders of public libraries will have doubts about some of those people who will be submitting evidence.  The Local Government Association (LGA) has shown itself uninterested in defending libraries, describing the recent historic court win as a “technicality“.  Many local councils will have a vested interest in suggesting that libraries should close and will downplay their importance.  Expect also the importance of paid trained staff to be underplayed by many who simply do not wish to pay for them any more.  Ranged against them, in numbers and organisation never before seen, will be scores of local campaign groups and hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals who have well and truly woken up to the danger of a world without libraries.   Because of this, the Inquiry into Libraries is likely to received unprecedented media attention and well it should.
Some thoughts now on the points the Inquiry is asking for feedback on:
  • “What constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century?” – The phrase “comprehensive and efficient” relates to the definition of the 1964 Act governing library provision.  That the Inquiry adds on “for the 21st Century” at the end suggests that, perhaps, it is seeking to change the definition.  It may be considering the argument of detractors that branches are not so important in the age of the internet and the ebook.  Campaigners must demonstrate that this is not the case.
  • the extent to which planned library closures are compatible with the requirements of the Libraries & Museums Act 1964 and the Charteris Report” – This again relates to what constitutes a proper public library service and is perhaps asking what number of libraries, in what configuration, should be seen as necessary in each authority.  That the Charteris Report is mentioned will be welcomed by many library campaigners.  This report is widely seen as being an effective argument for public libraries and it is favourable that it’s conclusions will be part of the formal Inquiry.
  • the impact library closures have on local communities“.  There is much evidence now available on this subject due to activities of both councils and of campaigners.  Anyone just seeing the boarded up walls of Brent’s closed libraries – and what the heartbreaking messages that their ex-users have written on them – will consider the case amply put.
  • the effectiveness of the Secretary of State’s powers of intervention under the Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964.”  These powers are completely ineffective at the moment as it is clear that the Secretary of State will not use them unless forced to do so.  It is to be hoped that the Inquiry can do something about this.
Whether the Select Committee has the clout to decide events is a question as yet unanswered.  The previous Inquiry, chaired by Gerald Kaufman (the 2004/5 Select Committee of the DCMS on libraries) concluded that “the service is under stress” and made many proposals for public libraries, after hearing much evidence, mainly to do with boosting bookstock, opening hours and other bread and butter issues.  The Government at the time’s response to it is here but it’s generally considered that in reality the minister at the time ignored it.  
Public awareness and media coverage of the cuts to libraries then was as nothing to compared to now.  Times have most definitely changed since then.  Let us hope that the news today is a sign that it will change now for the better.

The above represents initial thoughts and should not be taken as expertly written gospel, except for the bit about Ed Vaizey.


423 libraries (333 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries are 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.

Actions

  • Write about your views on public libraries to the Select Committee on Culture Media and Sport.  Email cmsev@parliament.uk with “library closures” in subject line. Emails stand more chance of being effective if they give your views on (1) “what constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st Century”, (2) to what extent library closures are compatible with the law and the Charteris Report, (3) the impact closures have on communities and (4) the effectiveness of the secretary of state’s powers of interviention.  Deadline: 12th January 2012. NB full details on how to submit your views are here.  More guidance on giving written and verbal evidence is here. 
  • Please sign the national petition in support of public libraries.
  • Email Justin Tomlinson MP for Swindon about your concerns.  He is the chair of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for libraries to be launched in December.

News

  • Bridges over the digital divideGuardian.  At a time when many local authorities have cut back on their library services, Brighton & Hove city council has made them central to improving its performance and the experience of service users”.  Libraries set up volunteer-staffed IT assistance to encourage internet use – 60% of library users don’t have the internet in certain libraries.
  • Culture, Media and Sport Committee: Library Closure Inquiry announced – FoGL.   “We will be submitting evidence. We are sure we played a big part in prompting them into action with our high court victory. As you may remember many of us wrote to the DCMS (who are supposedly, although we have not seen much proof of this yet, responsible for superintending the provision of public libraries) over the year asking them to intervene in Gloucestershire and a group of us went to London to see DCMS officials in April http://foclibrary.wordpress.com/2011/04/15/fogl-meet-with-dcms-officials-over-concerns-around-gccs-library-plans/ they did nothing however and allowed GCC to continue down its unlawful path.”

  • Select committee to put libraries under spotlight BookSeller.   Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport will hold inquiry on library closures. Campaigners and CILIP “delighted”.   “Tim Coates, chair of umbrella group Libraries for Life for Londoners, said: “At long last the culture select committee have decided to interrogate the activities of the DCMS because that is their job.” However, he warned that to have any authority, the committee needed to explain why it had allowed the DCMS to ignore the findings of the last committee inquiry, chaired by Gerald Kaufman, published in 2005. Coates said it found the library service was in poor condition and made recommendations for its improvement.”
“If Councils delegate libraries, they don’t delegate their statutory responsibility and must go on funding the service so how is the budget set? Who says how much the library service needs and decides how much it will actually get? How could professional librarians make a case for a certain budget if responsible to people who only understand leisure centres? There’s too much emphasis on leisure. Some authorities are unaware of educational, study, business, research functions of libraries.” Christopher Pipe on Twitter [edited into non-tweet form]

Changes

Local news

  • Caerphilly – Council says it is on budget – Campaign.  “Caerphilly is also investing in new libraries. An exciting new library and customer service centre has recently opened in Bargoed and a similar scheme will be launched in Risca in December. “We want to send out a clear message that we aim to cut costs, but wherever possible protect services for our local communities,” added Cllr Colin Mann.”
Ulverston Library was opened on November 21 [1961] by judge Lord Birkett, who said in his opening speech that he ‘hoped that television and radio would never replace the habit of reading” Cumbria – Ulverston Library celebrates 50 years – Westmorland Gazette

  • Gloucestershire – Library decision ruled “unlawful” – Stroud News and Journal.  
  • Herefordshire – Future Libraries Programme: how this might affect Herefordshire, an updateHLUG.  Review of situation in Herefordshire and an unflattering (but realistic) assessment of the Government’s only library-related initiative to date.
  • Kent – Is Kent County Council on the road to widespread library closures? –  Voices for the Library.  Meeting earlier this year, with minutes still secret, had discussed closing 40 out of 103.  Recent meeting had the chief librarian suggesting “libraries” in doctor’s surgeries and that the council was “prepared” to be challenged on closures.  “Locality boards” will decide future of libraries, but previous boards were not fully open to the public.  Questions apparently already proposed to some boards include the withdrawal of funding of 81 libraries either closing them or blackmailing local groups/councils to fund them instead.  There needs to be full transparency and publicity to ease fears.
  • Lambeth – Waterloo Library to be “relocated to a better building”London SE1.   “Cllr Florence Nosegbe, cabinet member for culture, explained how the council’s proposed community hubs will work. She said: “It’s not just about handing over buildings to community groups, it’s about co-designing and co-producing those buildings and services with our community groups in the spirit of the co-operative council.”
  • Upper Norwood Library faces an uncertain future – Alan Gibbons.   “Croydon have now given Lambeth three options. 1. Buy Croydon’s half share of all UNJL assets and accept responsibility for the UNJL. 2. Take a lease of Croydon’s half share in the premises and become solely responsible for the UNJL. 3. Agree that the library will be sold with the proceeds, after settlement of all costs, equally divided between the two boroughs.”. Meeting to discuss situation: “will be held on Wednesday 30th November, 7.30 pm at the Salvation Army Hall, Westow St. SE19.”

  • Northamptonshire – Lending time to the library – Evening Telegraph.   Council launches campaign to boost volunteers in libraries from 450 to 1600 to cut £1m of trained staff.  If volunteers don’t come forward, council will close branches. Volunteers already help with rhymetime, housebound book deliveries.
  • Rotherham – Library managers struggling to hit £500,000 savings demand – Yorkshire Post.  Libraries have come up with £136k of cuts.  Councillor want to cut more than one-seventh of budget while making service “modern, vibrant”.  Libraries chief says ““Initial discussions have identified potential impact on the location of libraries, opening hours, service delivery and the range and number of books purchased.” … “As library managers continue to look for ways to save money, it is likely that they will have one eye on the situation in Doncaster, which has led to angry public meetings and criticism of the town’s elected mayor Peter Davies.”

Give us (Michael) Moore

Michael Moore on libraries…

Narrator: Michael Moore holds a special place in his heart for public libraries.

MM: As a kid there just really wasn’t a more exciting place to be than to walk into a library.  Just to have everything there.  Every aspect of the world, of life, or whatever was on those shelves.

Narrator: Moore says he was a regular at the Davidson and Flint locations when he was growing up…

MM:  My mother taught me to read and to write before I went to kindergarten and that happened because she took us to the library all the time.

Narrator:  Because of those fond memories, Moore is helping out libraries across the nation by donating 50% of his royalties from booksignings of his latest book “Here comes trouble” to local libraries and in his old stomping grounds he is donating 2000 books to be used as a fundraiser… Moore says his passion for political activism began in those early days of learning about the world from the books on the shelves of libraries.

MM:  I’m very grateful for the role that libraries have played in my upbringing.

Transcription from a TV interview.

423 libraries (333 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.


News


Chicago Speaks- SAVE: CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARIES

  • Do Manchester City fans moan about the banking crisis?Dale & Co.  The truth is Man City could be top of the table as they are right now with one less highly-paid player, two less players, maybe five or more less players. They would still be a brilliant team if they sold one of their underused stars and used the money to rebuild a Manchester school. Let’s start a ‘sell a player, save a library’ campaign across the Premiership. Tottenham could rebuild riot-busted areas in Haringey by offering Luka Modric up, Liverpool can have public service pensions all for the price of, I don’t know, let’s say Glen Johnson and call it quits. With a bit more sense with the chequebook, football could save the whole world.”
“Let’s start a ‘sell a player, save a library’ campaign across the Premiership”

  • How will we read: in public libraries? – Huffington Post (USA). Overview of major issues facing public libraries in a  detailed and well-informed article.
  • Huffpo: Helping or hurting – Hack Library School (USA).  “Yes, libraries are fighting an uphill battle in terms of funding and many libraries are facing many barriers to staying open. But calling the site “Libraries in Crisis” makes it sound like the whole industry is doomed. Which it’s not.” … “I hope that this page has a long shelf life on the Huffington Post, but only if it evolves. I understand that stories of library closures are much sexier than the latest controversies with Overdrive, but if we want to see the libraries as a national tradition continue, we need to step away from the extremism and start proving what we are capable of. Let’s see some library success stories on this page, too.”
  • Library closures in Gloucestershire and Somerset “unlawful” says High CourtEgov Monitor.   “The councils were not given permission to appeal however they could take the case further by applying directly to the Court of Appeals.  This is an interesting decision because Brent Council in London recently won its battle on library closures against campaigners.  It is quite clear that the councils would seek higher judicial intervention in the matter.” [Somerset leader seemed to rule this out on TV but may of course change his mind – Ed.]. 
  • Michael Moore donates 2000 books for library fundraiser – miinbcnews (USA).   50% of royalties from latest book will be donated to public libraries, 2000 books for his childhood library.
  • More than just fiction? It’s unbelievable! – Voices for the Library.   The common slogan “libraries are more than just books” is a terrible one – they’re about more than just fiction.  Non-fiction, newspapers, magazines, internet are all useful for the community.  “Children’s reading shifts as they grow. Little ones love stories; that’s a given. Later there is more of a mix. Research by Birmingham Libraries showed that children reached the tipping point around 8-9 years when hobbies and homework drew them closer to non-fiction. Young people urgently need info’- not just study but for their diverse and pressured personal and social lives.”
  • Why Penguin is worried about the role of Amazon’s Kindle in libraries – Christian Science Monitor (USA).   “”We have always placed a high value on the role that libraries can play in connecting our authors with our readers,” Penguin Group said in a statement Monday. “However, due to new concerns about the security of our digital editions, we find it necessary to delay the availability of our new titles in the digital format while we resolve these concerns with our business partners.” … “And publishers view e-books in libraries as more threatening to sales than physical books. Libraries stock multiple physical copies of popular titles and as they wear out, purchase new copies. Of course, that’s not the case with e-books.”.  Random House and Bloomsbury are the only major publishers still to allow Amazon Kindle library use.

Changes

Local News

  • Calderdale – We strongly oppose move of the library: Civic Trust – Halifax Courier.  “Halifax Civic Trust remains strongly opposed to the loss of the current library. It is a popular facility in a modern, airy, attractive building, well situated at the heart of the town centre.An extraordinarily high proportion of the local population and many others numbering in total over 16,000, have specifically expressed their desire that the library should stay where it is.”.  Long and detailed rejection of proposal to move library. 
  • Darlington – Is the writing on the wall for public libraries? – Northern Echo.   Article on threatened Cockerton Library – a queue outside it when it opened, all the computers in constant use.  Crown Street Library may move to town hall or sports complex.  Excellent article also including interview with a CILIP spokesman and a foray into Somerset and other authorities.
“I would be devastated. It would be a big loss. You only have to look at the number of people in here. However, you can’t blame the council because they’re being forced into it. They have to make cuts. You can only blame the Government.”

  • Edinburgh – Libraries told to balance the books by making cuts – Scotsman.   £550k cut – Most libraries will have reduced hours, Sunday opening ended (in all six libraries currently open then), Thursday evening opening ended but Saturday morning and afternoon opening extended to all libraries.  Increased focus on ebooks and internet.  Council initially intended to cut budget more but decided no to close any libraries.
  • Isle of Wight – Library campaigners seek more legal advice – Isle of Wight Radio.   “… ampaigners in other parts of the country, including Gloucestershire & Somerset, have won similar claims. Campaigners on the Island say they’re now seeking more legal advice and are still hopeful that they can reverse the Isle of Wight Council’s cuts to libraries in light of the decisions made elsewhere.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library service merger plan approved – BBC.  36 out of 177 posts to go.  “”We’ve found a lot of people are very keen on the library service, we’ve had no shortage of volunteers to run libraries,” says assistant director of library services.
    • Libraries to remain open – Harrogate News.   “Under the proposals, North Yorkshire’s existing 42 branch libraries would be retained with the exception of Malton and Norton libraries. The proposals envisage the creation of a new branch convenient for both communities. The 41 libraries would be run either by the county council’s library service, or by volunteers from the local communities, or by a combination of both.”
“Resolved: That this Assembly welcomes the decision by the board of Libraries NI to initiate a review of eight of the 10 rural libraries that were originally earmarked for closure; expresses great concern about the reduction in the opening hours of small community libraries which will curtail their ability to deliver an efficient and effective service; and calls on the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to take action to ensure that the excellent service provided by these libraries is maintained. Northern Ireland – Libraries: private member’s business – Northern Ireland Assembly. 

  • Northumberland – Huge response to library van questionnaireMorpeth Herald.   Largely a reprint of yesterday’s article.  1400 responses, mobile library service will be rejigged but one of the four mobiles will be withdrawn.
    • Northumberland – mylibraryNorthumberland Libraries.  Most impressive front end to a library catalogue yet seen, showing off bestsellers to best advantage.  “Mobile library review” also prominently shown on front page of council website, which makes a refreshing change from the many hidden away “consultations” too often seen.
  • Southwark – First look inside London’s £14m super-library – London Evening Standard.  “Canada Water Library is set to buck the trend with 40,000 books, a café, meeting rooms, evening class space and wi-fi facilities.”… “”It’s an incredible, breathtaking use of space, both inside and out, and has all that you could need under one roof … we aim to put Southwark on the map as a forward-thinking, pioneering borough with libraries right at our heart.”
  • Swansea – Spreading the word on how much city library now offers – This is South Wales.   “”Some people spend all day here,” she says. “It’s a lovely atmosphere and a great location. They will browse the books, read magazines, go on the computers and maybe have some lunch in the café or go for a walk along the front and come back in. It’s more of a destination rather than a place where you just nip in and out. It can be the start or the end to a family day out.”
  • Wandsworth – Christmas Fayre at York GardensSave York Gardens.   “We are lining up an exciting range of stallholders and it promises to be a great family afternoon out.  If you’d like to take a stall, or would like to see a particular business there, please let us know… Stalls cost £55 with all proceeds going to the Friends of York Gardens.  These funds will help us to meet our challenging fundraising target of £70,000/year, needed to keep the library and community centre open.”
  • Warwickshire – Libraries’ opening hours change brings over 1,000 responses – Coventry Telegraph.  700 online and 500 written responses in first week of consultation.  Public given choice of two sets of opening hours for all but the two largest libraries (both options appear to be reductions with the same number of hours).
“I knew that volunteering in libraries was an emotive subject and was under no illusions that there would be some resistance. What I was not prepared for was to hear from my father that he had been accosted by someone who made it very clear that I was not welcome. In the circumstances it was understandable; it transpired that this person was a library assistant and I can’t blame them for being concerned because the people who recruited me didn’t quite know what they wanted me to do so staff had no idea what I was there for and were wary of my arrival. I had work to do! … Oh and for those of you who might like to know there is a certain library assistant who now always greets me with a smile (they make a pretty good cuppa too!).” Nought to volunteer manager in six monthsi-volunteer.

  • Wigan – Users double in five years – Wigan Today.   Number of computer users has doubled.  Quasi supermarket branding to be implemented with Library Centrals, Local Libraries (35 to 40 hours opening), Library Express (highly limited) and Library Direct (online).

“Radically transformed”: well, that’s one way of putting it

Focus on GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited)

Who?  Well, it could be a big name in the library world soon, as it is in the running for taking over the running of the libraries of at least three different councils.  
As its name suggests, GLL is strongest in running leisure centres, currently running over one hundred of them in London and Southeast England.  It is now, though, making serious moves into the public library field. As a statement of intent, it has appointed the well-known Diana Edmonds MBE, ex Haringey libraries chief and establisher previously of Instant Library Ltd, as the head of its new Libraries Division.  GLL is tipped to be close to gaining a 15 year contract to run Greenwich libraries and has expressed an interest in running the library services in Croydon and Wandsworth.  
GLL is a social enterprise, not a private company or council-run, and is registered as a charity.  This means that, “Any financial surpluses we generate are reinvested to provide long-term benefits for our customers, employees and the communities where we operate.”. It is “guided by a board of trustees, which is appointed on an annual basis at the general meeting. The board has representation from a number of stakeholders including customers, council, and the workforce.”. It also has green credentials and was the subject of a positive case study by the MLA.   
However, the move to give contracts to GLL has caused some fear amongst trade unionists – Concerns raised include its attitude to trade union membership and the “secrecy” under which the decisions are being made.  Certainly, a 15 year contract (the same length as Laing has in Hounslow) seems to be a surprisingly long one.  Questions were also asked about its non-library contract in Barnet which appears to have led to more costs for the council and a decision by the council to try to terminate its contract with GLL. 
More information on trusts and other not-for-profit organisations for libraries can be found on this page.
423 libraries (333 buildings and 90 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.


News

  • A radical transformation? Not without political leadership – Guardian (New Local Government Network).  Simon Parker suggests decline in library use is due to lack of leadership, not budget and that the “best way to democratise book access in future will be to make a radical shift to e-readers, online ordering and book vending machines in public places. This would make it much easier for the public to access books while freeing up library space for use by families and communities. Libraries would still hold the most popular titles and children’s books and act as a crucial community hub.”.   … “At the moment, the public sees the debate over libraries as being entirely about what stays open and what closes. The real debate is about how to create a library system that meets the needs of citizens in the 21st century. The solutions we are designing for waste, including the introduction of “producer pays” technology, requires political leadership to explain to communities this new approach is better for all.”
“Many thousands in rural areas are losing access to mobile and village libraries.  Many others visit village libraries to use the Internet which they do not have at home.  Thousands of older people, of whom there will be more every day,  rely on their local libraries and will not be attracted to a distant ‘hub’, vending machines in train stations and online access.  Young parents and carers likewise depend on the intimacy of the smaller local library to give their children a start in life.  The disabled and disadvantaged will also be overlooked in this zeal to impose an ill-defined Big Society’ on the populace. These points are vital to the  “debate”.  Mr Parker ignores them –  and that is distressing.” Alan Gibbons respondes to Simon Parker (above).

  • Campaign shouts about school libraries – BookSeller.   “A campaign to promote school libraries and school library services aims to make them statutory. The campaign, Shout About, is backed by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), the Association of Senior Children’s and ­Educational Librarians (ASCEL) and the School Library ­Association. The initiative aims to use lobbying and PR to halt the closure of school libraries and to prevent more qualified school librarians from losing their jobs. Shout About will also campaign for school libraries to be inspected by Ofsted.”.  Includes comprehensive comment about state of school libraries in Australia.
“Annie Mauger, chief executive of CILIP, said: “I have had positive discussions with schools minister Nick Gibb who is looking for answers on how to promote a culture of reading in schools. We believe that taking away pupils’ libraries and librarians is not the best way to do it.”

  • Library users opt to pay higher taxes than lose services – Inside Toronto (Canada).  When Irene Atkinson, the Toronto District School Board trustee for Parkdale-High Park suggested raising taxes during a public consultation meeting about potential library cuts, the entire room erupted into applause. Runnymede library patrons say they are willing to pay more in taxes to keep their branch and others across the city from losing valuable services and hours.”
  • Library victory and interviewsBBC Politics Show (40:43 – 48.15) .  Shows celebration at Watchet and links with Gloucestershire as well. “I expect a fundamental change” in library cuts due to this says campaigners’ lawyer.  Glos Leader says he’s not going to “throw away” the £2m cut in libraries.  Leader of Somerset Council, Ken Maddock – “it’s a very long and complicated judgement” – said complying with 1964 Act.  Leader accepts that they fell short on equalities legislation. Cllr Maddock is straightaway lifting threat to 11 libraries and says he does not have “leave to appeal” so will not be revisiting it.  Will still need to save £1.2m libraries via efficiencies (e.g. self-service machines).  
  • Measuring our value – British Library.  A useful report for (1) showing the value of a national library and (2) as a very good indicator of how to demonstrate the value of a library, that could be used by others to persuade councillors etc not to cut them quite so readily.  The BL estimates it creates 4.4 times more wealth than it consumes.
  • This book is 119 years overdue – Slate.  “The wondrous database that reveals what Americans checked out of the library a century ago” … “The website’s deliberately open architecture has made it easy for data hounds, scholarly and otherwise, to jump in. Douglas Galbi, for example recently analyzed the median date of publication of the database’s 20 most popular books: 1878. Hence, he pointed out, these books were probably between 13 and 24 years old when read, far older than the average book checked out nowadays.”

Changes

Local News

  • Cumbria – Victory as libraries in Allerdale saved from closure – News & Star.  Council confirms that it has no plans to close any libraries due to popular outcry.  However, declines in usage will be addressed by increase use of volunteers and linking with other facilities, for instance possibly a cafe run by a learning-difficulties charity.  Previous suggestions to close libraries and replace “replacing smaller libraries with borrowing points in shops and community centres … sparked an outcry in Moorclose and Seaton, which were mooted as areas where that might happen.” [NB. there has been no clear announcement that volunteers will not entirely replace library staff – as had previously been mooted) and so these libraries still count as “threatened”.
  • Hertfordshire – National Libraries Day – We Heart Libraries.   “Here are a few ideas we’re working on for February 4. If you’re organising an National Libraries Day elsewhere in the UK, feel free to use them yourself – and to let us know about your good ideas as well! If you’re local, and would like to get involved, please do get in touch…..” .. library pledges, read-ins, gifts for staff, book trails.
  • Northumberland – Borrowers have a say on libraries – Morpeth Herald.  1400 responses to library review result in suggestions for improvements
  • Nottinghamshire – County Council cuts library book budget – BBC.  36% bookfund cut in two years.  “It said the savings had helped prevent the closure of some of Nottinghamshire’s 60 libraries.”