The Government is, in a remarkably unpublicised and buried fashion, “consulting” on withdrawing statutory protection from public libraries. The webpage asks for responses about hundreds of things and hides the effective repealing of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act within them. There is no way (since the national protests in January and February) that Messrs Pickles, Hunt and Vaizey do not realise that  thousands of people would protest if they knew about this but they even call the library legislation a “burden”. 

Mr Vaizey said barely a year ago that “it was “outrageous and offensive to everyone who ever cared about books and reading” for [ex Libraries minister] Hodge to raise the question of whether libraries should remain a statutory local authority service”.

Please see the Voices For The Library post on the subject and also a sample letter. If the statutory protection 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. 

Known changes to info on authorities/library funding/opening since last posting
City of London – Cuts to opening hours at Guildhall and City Business Libraries
Ealing – three libraries under threat (previously listed as “at least two”) – West Ealing, Perivale, Hanwell
Nationally – Consultation on the repeal of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act
South Tyneside – libraries could move into a trust
Wakefield – libraries could be run by church or charities. (council wishes to commission services only)

Local News – all news is representative and not comprehensive
Barnsley – No choice but to slash services – Yorkshire Post (surviving libraries will be joined with “customer centres”).
Barnsley – Councillors approve budget, 3 libraries close – Star
Bradford – final chapter for five libraries – Yorkshire Post
Buckinghamshire – Villagers rally together to stop Farnham Common library from closing – Maidenhead Advertiser
Camden – Force a u-turn on library closures – Camden New Journal
City of London – Hours cut in Guildhall and City Business Libraries – City of London council
Doncaster – threat to wardens and libraries fuels anger over Mayor’s savings – Yorkshire Post “Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies’s plan to close down more than half the town’s libraries was by far the most controversial element of his cost-cutting budget for the coming year.”
Dorset- Charmouth Library campaigners plan for the worst – Bridport News

Ealing – Three libraries could face their final chapter – Ealing Gazette
Gloucestershire – Council underspends on staff by £4.7m – This is Gloucestershire
Hampshire – Cuts for libraries but not for councillors – Get Hampshire
Hertfordshire – Cabinet agrees changes to library opening hours – (the “changes” are cutting by a full one-third)
Leeds – With a bit of imagination, we could save vital services – Yorkshire Post “All 20 libraries can be kept open for £270,000 per year. We would do this by cutting back on IT across the council by £300,000”
Leeds – Efficiency argument fails to save vital services – Yorkshire Post
North Yorkshire – We wish the Government would step in and save our libraries – Voices For The Library
North Yorkshire – Huge response to libraries plan – Malton Mercury
Oxfordshire – Campaigners back library innovations – Banbury Cake
Sheffield – Under-fire Clegg intent on showing he’s the Man of Steel – Yorkshire Post – praises lack of closures in Sheffield cf Manchester ““some councils might be trying to make these really nasty cuts to blame it all on government. That’s not good enough”. (Sheffield is cutting library budget by 30%)
South Tyneside – Trust us on leisure centres says council – Shields Gazette
Suffolk – Call for more feedback over libraries review – EADT
Wakefield – Catalyst for change? – Pontefract and Castleford Express “A radical overhaul of council services could see private sector companies and volunteer groups running the district’s parks and libraries.”
Warwickshire – library usage on the increase – Rugby Observer
Warwickshire – Councillers lead fight to save Studley Library – Redditch & Alcester Standard

National News
DCMS quango cuts (inc. MLA) not properly costed – The Stage
Elderly trapped as local shops are axed – Wales Online“Unfortunately, we are being hit with a decrease in amenities, such as libraries, banks and community pubs, and an increase in fast-food outlets and betting shops, which can cause problems for local people.”
Future of public libraries – PSFK (USA) (future libraries will provide computers/tech/space too expensive for the individual) – see Alan Gibbon’s comment
Great Book Giveaway – BBC “There is already an established campaign across the UK to save libraries from closure due to local council cuts. Maybe these campaigners could talk to the organisers of World Book Night to see how their aims could be aligned. The authors and publishers who took part in, and financially benefitted from, World Book Night, due to the additional retail sales – could give that money to support the libraries. And perhaps the recipients of the million books given could make a donation as well?
HarperCollins not ruling out ebook lending limit – BookSeller (as if one kick in the teeth in one day is not enough…)
Is it time to rebuild and retool public libraries? – Make:Online (USA)
Libraries are at the heart of our neighbourhoods – Walk You Home
Library of the future opens – wi-fi, flatscreens, automated book sorting – Chicago Tribune (USA)
Living Streets is calling for Government to give communities the power to safeguard essential shops and services, including libraries …- Voices For The Library
Matt Baker asks David Cameron “How do you sleep at night?” on The One Show – Metro “‘You can ask me how I sleep at night if you like. It’s easy – I’m not closing libraries.” (says Marcus Brigstock)
Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 – Voices For The Library
Public Libraries in Yorkshire – Good Library Blog

525 libraries (464 buildings and 61 mobiles) currently under threat or recently closed/left council control out of 4517 in the UK
Information on 173 authorities listed out of 206 in UK, 134 of those are on record as (at least) considering closing libraries or making significant cuts (list below news), 57 on record as not closing libraries in 2011/2 (list at bottom)
Legal challenges are being prepared/under way in Brent, Gloucestershire, Lewisham and Somerset.  In addition, a judical review has been called about the Culture Secretary’s failure to comply with his legal duties at a national level.  Your help is needed to gather as much evidence as possible, from anywhere in the country, to demonstrate councils are breaching their legal duty – please email after reading this blog post from Voices For The Library.