I was in the march through London today, along with at least 250,000 other people, protesting about cuts to services.  A true case of the real Big Society defending itself. However, I was talking to people on the train back home who said that they saw a group of people dressed in black and red at the back of the march who clearly intended to break the law and then started vandalizing Fortnum & Masons.  Two of the three people we talked to then said that breaking the windows of banks was “OK” and justified as people were angry. Regardless of how one feels about banks (and indeed purveryors of luxury foods to the Queen) this made me uneasy. Then we started receiving texts asking if we were safe.  Then we heard the radio about the trouble, then we got home and saw the TV.

Good grief, what an object lesson in how to tarnish an otherwise brilliant event. To be successful in saving public services, one needs to gain the support of the middle ground.  The middle ground wins the elections and thus the argument.  Breaking the law alienates that support, especially when one cannot count on the media to be entirely unbiased.  Libraries, perhaps amongst the most of all of those services under threat, are for people of all political parties and will be supported by the great majority as long as they are not alienated.

496 libraries (429 buildings and 67 mobiles) currently under threat or recently closed/left council control out of 4517 in the UK
Legal challenges are being prepared/under way in Brent, CamdenGloucestershire, Isle of Wight, 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.

Changes (S) marks item added on Sunday
Bromley – Some to close (some will move to being run by “trustees” and volunteers)
Ealing – 4 libraries and 1 mobile library under threat (previously reported as 3); consultation until May 3rd; Hanwell, Perivale, Northfields (£610k upgrade in 2007), Northolt Leisure Centre (£1m upgrade January 2010); Ealing Library Campaign.
Islington – No closures (previously reported as “some”); May move to being a trust to avoid £500k in tax; opening hours may change; consultation available from end of March.
Lewisham – £995k cut from £4.6m – 21.6%.  (Previously reported as £800k)
Nottinghamshire – 4 mobiles to be cut out of 7 
Oxfordshire – £1.7m cut still going ahead; co-location (inc with fire stations); library staff to be cut with volunteers taking their place
Warwickshire – consultation dates; official consultation blog; in addition to closing libraries “Opening hours at Whitnash library could be cut from 45 hours a week to 16, and from 51 hours a week to 35 at Warwick and Kenilworth libraries, with hours cut from 56 to 50 at Leamington.

National News
50 cuts: the end of the beginning – Guardian Councils faced with the biggest cuts for generations have drawn a circle around what they must by law provide. Statutory services inside the circle haven’t escaped – libraries for example – but the heaviest pain has been inflicted on those outside the ring. Those neat ministerial references to “protected” frontline services are shown to be fantasy.”
Crossing boundaries to borrow your books – South London Press “If the plans goes ahead, residents living in Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Bexley, Bromley, Croydon and Greenwich will be able to use their library card in any of the boroughs’ libraries.”
David Cameron’s job is to put his country first – Sunday Mirror ” Like the ­libraries which face closure and Scout groups which face being charged thousands of pounds for a ­meeting place” (S)
Hidden cuts are undermining libraries – Guardian “Library insiders suggest local authority plans for reductions in opening hours, funding and services could be just as harmful as closures, but Vaizey committed to volunteer-run model”
Just who does Andrea Hill think she is? – Mail – Suffolk council chief under spotlight for (a) £218k salary, (b) spending council money on PR photoshoots, (c) spending council money on lifestyle gurus, (d) spending £520k of council money on “gagging orders” (e) wishing to close 29 out of 44 libraries due to surprising lack of council money (S)
Leading  article: protest has a role fairness – Independent (S)Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, tells children which books they should read while his government’s policies are closing libraries all over the country” (S)
Miliband: Government practising “politics of division” – BBCMr Miliband said the “common bonds” and institutions uniting communities, such as the NHS, libraries, Post Offices and Sure Start Centres, were “under threat” from the budget squeeze.”
Not the usual suspects – BBC “Nevertheless, the plans have been made and Chloe will be on a train tomorrow morning with her “Save The Libraries” placard.”…””We all volunteer but you don’t expect to run youth services and libraries,” echoed Julie Baker. “The Big Society is there but it’s not there to run the country in this crazy way.”
New Reader Libraries: The Reader Organisation campaign to save libraries – The Reader Organisation
No sharing allowed: Amazon and book publishers’ stupid attempts to curtail ebook lending – Slate (S)
Richard Eyre warns cuts will lead to “cultural apartheid” – The Stage “The cultural life of this country – libraries, museums, theatres, opera houses, galleries, concert halls, cinemas and arts centres – is going to be eroded in a perfect storm…”
The great cuts lie: today’s march by state workers will fuel hysteria …. – Mail “They will hear about libraries up and down the country closing as a result of wicked Coalition policies …” [apparently no front-line cuts are necessary and it’s all Labour’s fault – the headline is nicely ironic]
The library ebook will self-destruct in … – Sunday Times, p.19, behind paywall (S)
We marched – Tom Roper’s Weblog (S)

Local News
Bradford – Campaigners “will have their voices heard” – Keighley News
Brent – Library users hold mass storytelling event – Harrow Observer (200 at Sudbury); Barham to close but has recently had £200k refurbishment; “The big losers from the closure would be nearby schools, which use the library for day trips and projects, and older people living in Sudbury.”
Bromley – Community news; West Wickham – Haverhill Echo “Libraries are under review and some will close, some run by volunteers and some run by trustees.”
Cambridgeshire – Summary of the public consultation in Libraries North area – Save Cambridgeshire Libraries (Facebook)
Cambridgeshire – Anti-cuts banner hung overlooking Parker’s Place – Cambridge First “These cuts are worse than anything Thatcher attempted. If we don’t stop them now, we’ll see our schools, hospitals and libraries decimated and sold off for profit.”
Cumbria – Libraries phase out paper reminders in Cumbria – BBC (S)
Dorset – GMB union: an alternative “budget” – Dorset Echo Spokesman for Ad Lib (the Association of Dorset Libraries) Mike Chaney backed the call to shelve the plans for a new library in Dorchester in the hope it could preserve the future of 20 other libraries in the county that are threatened with closure.”
Dorset – Classical guitarist Partington entertaints crowd in Puddletown – Dorset Echo “Mike Chaney, of Friends of Puddletown Library, said the group was raising cash for its ‘fighting fund’, which will enable the villagers to fund the library themselves if the county council decides to pull the plug on funding” (S)
Ealing – Ealing Council face criticism over the future of the borough’s libraries – Ealing Times  “Councillor Bakhai said the council could afford to invest if they abandoned their plans for a £5.5m car park in Southall.”
Flintshire – Flintshire Council’s six-month bill for consulatants: £1.25m – The Leader “Flintshire Council has just announced its budget; we have got libraries closing, we have some members facing the risk of redundancy and yet there doesn’t seem to be proper checks on the expenditure on external consultants.”
Gloucestershire – Dear Mr Vaizey, please help – FoGL
Gloucestershire – Mystery surrounds the future of Moreton Library – FoGL
Gloucestershire – Conservative councillors claim library “victory” – FoGL “In the full council debate about the library plans NOT ONE of the Conservatives spoke up for libraries or for the views of their communities.”
Islington – Islington’s libraries may be given over to a trust – Islington Tribune
Leeds – Fight to save Shadwell and Scholes libraries step up a gear… – Wetherby News “[Council Chief]Mr Riordan went on to issue a personal apology to a Scholes parish councillor after he was inadvertantly sent an offensive email describing villagers as “silly sods.” ; Joanne Harris backs Leeds campaign.
Lewisham – Public sector cuts: where they will hit: New Cross Library – Guardian
Manchester – Johny Vegas joins battle to save Hulme Library mural – Manchester Evening News, £20k mural unveiled by comedian nine years ago to be destroyed as building demolished. (S)
Merton – Volunteers sign up to fill void of cuts at West Barnes Library – Wimbledon Guardian “Nearly twenty residents have signed up as volunteers to keep West Barnes Library open on Mondays after Merton Council announced a reduction in its opening days to save costs”
Nottinghamshire – Mobile library hit by cuts – Eastwood and Kimberley Advertiser
Oxfordshire – Oxford to “co-locate” libraries – BookSeller
Somerset – Somerset County Council defends £800 a day consultant – BBC
Somerset – Fight for Highbridge Library steps up – Weekly News
Somerset – Roger Taylor’s Story – Voices For The Library “The knowledge I have accrued over many years of specialist work will be lost, and no-one with be recruited to replace this”
Suffolk – Strong library support show in human chain – Bury Free Press (100+ protesters) ““Some people who signed the petition have realised for the first time that this has a local impact and that it actually effects their community, it’s not just some general cut backs happening in the background.”
Suffolk – April 2nd details – Rosehill Readers
Suffolk – Protests over cuts to Stowmarker and Debenham Libraries – Evening Star
Warwickshire – Library consultation meetings and roadshows: no winners, many losers – What’s In Kenilworth
Warwickshire – Consultation on library cuts – Leamington Courier