It’s confirmed that Lambeth are sacking all their professionally qualified staff, the US private company LSSI is keen on slamming librarians, Tim Coates (a man who I often agree with more than is common amongst my fellows) accuses professionally qualified staff as effectively being responsible for the closing of libraries.   Just in this blog today, evidence of poor professional conduct can be seen by a recent email by the chief officer of Leeds librariesTechnology is seemingly working against us and the Government does not appear to understand what we do. This, combined with the historically high level of cuts and closures detailed in this blog mean that in many ways there has never been a worse time to be a librarian in the UK.

However, there has never been a better time either.  A Barnet campaigner has said that this is Dunkirk time for libraries.  I believe that it is.  It is the time when all who love their libraries should concentrate on the big picture of saving libraries and not fight over the details.  It’s also an exciting time when new technology and new ways of working mean there are more opportunities, if we recognise them as such, as ever before.  The public has never shown such widespread devotion to the public library as now.  Tens, hundreds of thousands, will not stand for the loss of one the cornerstones of our way of life. To paraphrase Churchil just a little – we will fight them by the enquries desk and in the foyer, on the streets and by petition, in the law courts and in the council chamber.  We will never surrender. This could be our finest hour.

Two ways to save libraries

The Government has launched a consultation that could lead to the removal of all statutory protection for public libraries in the UK.  Please see this link on the subject and also a sample letter. If this legal shield goes, expect to see the total of public libraries under threat reaching 1000 or more by February 2012. No public library will be truly safe.

While this legal protection still stands, challenges are being launched to protect libraries. Please see this link for how you can send evidence to help.

(S) shows article added on Sunday.

Known changes to info on authorities/library funding/opening since last posting
Bristol – £200k cut  by “alternative provision”, self-service, “flexible working”; plus £90k cut from £700k bookfund.
Highland – Libraries to move into an “arms-length organisation” (ALO)
Lambeth – confirmed every professional librarian will be sacked (S)
Local News – all news is representative and not comprehensive
Barnet – Save Barnet’s Libraries 19th March Library Love in – Barnet Eye
Bristol – UK Uncut will turn a bank into a library on19th March – UK Uncut
Cambridgeshire – Countywide petition launched – Gopetition (S)
Doncaster – ICT costs: tell us the whole story – Save Doncaster Libraries
Hampshire – Fewer mobile library visits – Hampshire Chronicle “Three new volunteer co-ordinator posts are to be created.”
Harrow – Budget passed – Harrow Times ““We want to stimulate a far reaching community discussion on the issues which concern them, such as, libraries, children’s centres, and sports provision where there will be significant opportunities and challenges. There will also be many other difficult decisions we will need to make.”
Highland – Council hands over leisure services inc libraries to “arms-length” firm – Press & Journal
Highland – Libraries move to ALO – Council website
Lambeth – Save Our Libraries music festival sells out in 40 seconds – This is Local London (S)
Leeds – Library boss email gaffe – Yorkshire Evening Post “Oh I like it. Keep the pressure on the poor sods. Wind ’em up”
Norfolk – Is the future of Norfolk’s Libraries an all-singing all-dancing one? – EDP (No talks or wish for talks in Norfolk)(S)
North Yorkshire – Playwright Alan Bennett speaks out in support of Craven libraries – Craven Herald & Pioneer
Oxfordshire – Youth schemes look for supporters – Oxford Mail  “intense competition” for £600k council Big Society money
Somerset – Residents in save your mobile library plea – Weston Mercury
Stoke on Trent – “Please don’t shut our libraries” – This is Staffordshire “”I can tell that closing Fenton Library will have a devastating effect as it is such a valuable resource for the children. “They can go in there for a quiet place to do their work and to see it go will be such a big loss.” says headteacher
Suffolk – Save the date Saturday 2nd April – Rosehill Readers
Suffolk – Call for more feedback over libraries – EADT “The consultation continues until April 30 – and after then the council will draw up proposals for divesting the service.” (presumably regardless of what those consulted actually say)(S)
Worcestershire – No deal on plan to move Pershore library service – Worcester News (S)
National News
Beaten on libraries, Government looks to change the law – Inside Croydon
Big Society, Egyptian style – Observer (S)The things that knit societies together – libraries, leisure centres, transport services, after-school clubs, day centres for the elderly – will all be sacrificed as local government budgets are slashed.”
Boycott HarperCollins – USA Today
Can libraries survive in the digital world? – BBC Click (article plus 9 minute video)
Danny Alexander – Labour councils should be ashamed of keeping reserves while cutting services – Telegraph [presumably Conservative and Lib Dems doing exactly the same thing need not be ashamed]