Archive for April, 2011

Brent: Library closures “the most toxic issue” since the Iraq War

Council uproars in very different places – Labour-controlled Brent and Conservative-controlled Suffolk – have shown the importance of public libraries to local politicians.  In Brent, one councillor described the in-fighting caused by proposed closures as “the most toxic” issue since the Iraq War.  In Suffolk, library changes (along with other dramatic EasyCouncil proposals) appears to have lead to a change of leadership.  Politicians are taking note not only that “Libraries gave us power” but, also, that they can – sometimes – take it away (S)

490 libraries (416 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK.  For full breakdown by authority, see “tally” on right.

News = (S) notes information added on Sunday.

Advocacy: public library as amenity and necessityLorcan Dempsey’s weblog.  Analysis and thoughts on “It is the fate of libraries to die” article in the Financial Times.
Blackwell’s chief executive redundant and warning more jobs may goOxford Mail. “…the library supply business had been hit by nationwide library closures and changes in council book-buying habits, likely to be done through larger consortiums in future”.

“It takes/ Less than a lifetime to renew the ignorance/ This public mind was built here to dispel.” Sean O’Brien, “On the Toon”, Independent.

Books vs. Ebooks – NewsWeek.  Excellent infographic showing the current state of play – only 15% of ebook owners say they will stop reading print books.  “Walking to the library is still the most ecofriendly way to read”.

Peter’s have a book for it…

Days of reckoning – Financial Times.   Surveys the cuts taking place, with cuts in libraries featuring.
Library cuts and closures: a roundup – Peter’s BookSelling Services.
London Word Festival Review: Intergender wrestling/The Goodbye Library – Londonist. 
Political purge of UK Facebook under way – OurKingdom.  Following on from Google’s proposed deletion of video archives, Facebook delete political groups without warning.
Privatized library foes lose their battle in court – AE Monthly (S).  Santa Clarita (California) to be run by LSSI after campaigners lose court case over loss of privacy.  Council hired five high school students to be library trustees so as to meet technical requirements.  10000 petition ignored.  One further legal case still ongoing but this will only take place after library is privatised.  Fears over staffing/wages/pernsions. State moves to make similar privatisations only allowable after public vote.
Save our libraries ribbons – Voices for the Library.   Purchase “save our libraries” ribbons (as worn by Melvyn Bragg, Philip Pullman et al at Oxford Literary Festival) for your campaign.
Secret life of libraries – Guardian (S).  Books stolen from public libraries show the need was to learn, not to resell.  Difficult to define the need for libraries – perhaps libraries are about “connection”, self-help, “I reckon we save the NHS a fortune in antidepressants” says one librarian.  “The libraries’ most powerful asset is the conversation they provide – between books and readers, between children and parents, between individuals and the collective world. Take them away and those voices turn inwards or vanish. Turns out that libraries have nothing at all to do with silence.”
Storytime at NatWest – Library Workers for a Brighter Future/UK Uncut (Video).  “Great fun today. Natwest staff very obliging – guess they all know we truly are in this together.” says organiser.  More details at False Economy.

Changes to tally by authority

Durham – Clayport Library to end Sunday opening after four week consultation. (S)
Nottingham – 25% cut in bookfund
Suffolk 29 libraries no longer to be “divested”, libraries to move to council-controlled “community investment company”, some still under threat.(S)

News by authority

Mike Phipps, chairman of Kensal Green ward Labour group, said the controversial closures were the ‘most toxic political issue for the party since the Iraq war. He said: “There is real anger about these closures. It is not what people joined the party for and it is not what people in the party campaigned for party candidates for.
“Closing libraries is a panic decision. These weren’t the cuts which needed to be made and I think they have alienated Labour’s own volunteers and members as well as Brent voters generally.”  Brent – Brent Labour Party at war over toxic library cuts – Willesden and Brent Times.

Durham – Plan to axe Sunday opening of Durham LibraryBBC (S) Durham aiming to end Sunday opening at its only library to do so due to lower usage on that day.
Falkirk – Falkirk leisure trust moves step nearer Falkirk Herald.   Charitable trust to take over leisure, culture and libraries.
Gloucestershire – Have your say on the library service in Hester’s Way – This is Gloucestershire.  Community group to have meeting with residents on proposed takeover of threatened library.
Lambeth – The future of libraries in Lambeth (S) – Tradescant Road.  To bring libraries up to safety standards would cost £1.5m.  Commission on future of service to meet on 11th May.


Suffolk – Library Consultation ends with “Andrew Lansley” moment as Mark Bee receives Bungay Library scrapbookJames Hargrave’s Blog (S).  New council leader receives scrapbook showing demonstrations supporting the library, promises review of council position.  Could be another consultation.  Conservatives notably on defensive over proposed closures, increased campaiging before election. 
Somerset – Statement from Terry Clay on behalf of Friends of Somerset Libraries on SCC proposals to cut hours of libraries – Streetzuup (S).  
Suffolk – No divestment for Suffolk librariesEveningStarSuffolk abandons its plans to be an EasyLibrary council (S)
Swindon – Popular librarian retures after 47 years – Swindon Advertiser.   Library user since the age of three, library worker since 1963, local icon steps down.
Swindon – Letter from Shirley Burnham – Swindon Advertiser.  Swindon’s libraries face an uncertain future with consultants looking at “alternative delivery options”.

Tell the world how wonderful libraries are

Let’s tell everyone by commenting on the excellent LibrariUS website… and get your friends in other countries to comment on it too.  It is only fitting that this is a global map as public libraries should be recognised for what they are – one of the wonders of the world.

By the way, it’s an American website but don’t let that put you off – although you may have to randomly click on state on the “Choose State or Province” choice, it won’t affect your positioning on the map.

519 libraries (445 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK


Bookseller Industry Awards 2011: Library innovation of the year –  BookSeller.  On the shortlist are Public Library Online, Hillingdon libraries, Space Station 2010 (Essex Libraries), London Libraries Consortium, New Writing North, Neilsen BookScan and Yate Library
Discussions “ongoing” over e-book lending – BookSeller.  “Constructive” discussions between libraries and publishers on allowing easing of e-book restrictions folllowing on from USA example.

“I don’t get it… In this day and age, why should people be able to read a book for free? Maybe it’s about time all lending was stopped and people who want to read are encouraged to pay for the book, it’s not as if books are now out of reach (in money terms) of most. Just a thought.” (comment from BookSeller)

Dollars, sense and public libraries: landmark study of the socio-economic value of Victorian public librariesPublic Libraries Victoria (Australia).  Libraries in Victoria “return $3.56 for every $1 spent”. 
Do we really need our libraries? – Creative Loafing (USA).  Another article arguing that because ebooks and the internet exist, all public libraries should be closed down.

Have librarians fallen out of love with books? Futurebook. “No Furniture So Charming” debate presented by many non-librarians. “Libraries are not in crisis, it is the commitment to libraries that is in crisis”.  “Librarians issued more books last year than were sold in book stores”.  Read comments too.

By encouraging reading, providing access to information and representing a focus for community activity, public library services contribute significantly to the national cultural landscape. They deserve statutory protection. There are no proposals to remove the duty on local authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service.” Ed Vaizey, House of Commons – in response to Yvonne Forvargue MP asking if statutory commitment still safe – Hansard.

Librarians without borders on the ground in Guatemala – LISNews.  27 US librarians promoting literacy and libraries to eliminate “education disparities”. 

Changes to tally

Camden27 job losses in last 18 months  (17% of workforce), St Pancras and Camden Town libraries subject to possible property sale.
Somerset – (Plus 2 to total as previously listed as 9 under threat) 6 libraries under threat this year, five more in 2012. 20% opening hour cut proposed – some libraries to open later and close earlier, some will not open at all on certain days, for £205k saving, compulsory staff redundancies.

Libraries by authority

Birmingham – Bestselling author calls up Birmingham book clubBirmingham Mail. Katie Fforde joins 2000 strong monthly tele-book club for the elderly and housebound.
Camden – Save our libraries: Following meeting, Labour more upbeat but won’t sign up for no closure pledgeCamden New Journal.    Councillors distance authority from privatising libraries, talk about expanding children’s library services … but delete pledge to keep all libraries open. Scale of responses “so vast” that a radical rethink may occur.  Meeting turns into slanging match between parties. 
Doncaster – Meaningful consultation? Save Doncaster Libraries.  Council consultation process cost only £474 (sic), questionnaires only distributed to libraries and “hidden” online.
Dorset – Villages in fight to keep library open – Daily Echo.  2000 sign petition to save West Moors Library, Campaigners argue that a 1994 £64k bequest may mean money needs paying back if closed.
Ealing – Residents defend under-threat Ealing library – Ealing Gazette.  Northolt Leisure Centre Library (opened Jan 2010) under risk of closure – users say it is far away (two buses) from Central Ealing and “a life-line” but council thinks will raise income if sold.  “Looking increasingly strained, Councillor Bell said he would rather make cuts to leisure services than cut care packages for elderly and young people”.
Gloucestershire – Youngsters stage protest at loss of their “book bus” – Cotswold Journal.  Blockley will lose its fortnightly mobile library stop on July 14th.  Council will consult with users after decision to end service was made.

“The library service is very handy for Callum and his brother Jordan because I can’t drive and my wife’s at work until 6pm most nights. They love reading and it’s good for their school work.” (father on loss of mobile library service in Glos)

Isle of Wight – £700k a year to supervise PFI – IWCP.   13 HQ staff will monitor PFI contracts.  “Is it value for money to spend more than double the annual costs of the Island’s libraries and loos on monetary minders?”
Somerset – Proposals to cut opening hours of Somerset libraries – BBC.   Somerset revised proposals threaten 11 libraries over two years, plus mobiles and will result in deep opening hour cuts.  Comment from Friends of Somerset Libraries “deeply disappointed”.
Suffolk – Over 18000 sign libraries petition – EADT.   Only 3600 needed to force council debate. ““Our library in Leiston is at the heart of the community and serves people from children to pensioners. If it wasn’t worth fighting for I wouldn’t be here.”
Wiltshire – James Gray MP question to Ed Vaizey in parliament – Youtube. Wiltshire are expanding openeing hours.  “Effective stewardship” says Mr Vaizey.

There must be an election coming up…

There has been a distinct decline in the number of closures and cuts being announced or pushed through and hitting the headlines.  This may or may not have something to do with the desire to cut down on negative publicity before the local elections. The worry for library users/campaigners is that there seems to be very little national publicity on the closures so close to this important event.  What was promising to be a major national story at the start of the year runs the danger of becoming merely a series of local tragedies.  Let us hope that when the question “whatever happened to library closures?” is asked that the answer that comes back is not …”they closed”.

517 libraries (443 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (for tally by authority see link on right)

Parent becomes unlikely advocate for school librariansStatesman Journal (USA).  “It’s also where kids go to learn about technology and the place where she first learned to use a computer. Without librarians she worries there will be a huge gap in technology education.”
 Sesame Street – Cookie Monster in the Library
Trust ConundrumLibraryCity.  Discussion of yesterday’s “Google can’t be trusted with books” article in GuardianFriendster has suggested similar plans to delete user content.  “Some commenters question if any large corpus of digital content will stand the test of time, regardless of the type of organization to which it is entrusted.  Perhaps print still is the long-term preservation medium to beat”

News by authority

Brent – Wembley Plaze Hotel pledges cash for libraryHarrow Observer.  Hotel donates £3000 to Friends of Barham Library, one of the six threatened with closure.  More than half of its users are under 19.
Dorset – County council offers new books to struggling librariesDaily Echo.  Council has improved offer to new volunteer-run libraries to include 300 to 500 new books per year plus broadband, access to library computer system and IT support.  Campaign group Ad Lib rejects proposal and suggests cuts to hours/funding to all libraries/HQ instead.  Comments point out scrapping plans to build new Dorchester library would also pay to keep all open.

“We know that, once our smaller libraries come partially out of the main system, it is unlikely they will ever be let back in as full participants, even when the economic crisis eases.   We had been guardedly optimistic that the initial offer would be improved but this will be no means the end of the story as far as we are concerned.” Hazel Robinson, Friends of Charmouth Library.

Dorset – Lyme Regis: Library campaigners not impressed by new offer from county council – View Online.   Offer (see article above) also includes three hours of librarian help per week to train volunteers, set up IT and other systems.
Dorset – Public invited to take on under-threat Dorset libraries – BBC.  Communities have until 8th June to register their interest.  “An independent building would also be able to levy charges for use and retain income for services.” [NB. they can charge but current advice is that this would mean they cease to be public libraries under the terms of the 1964 Act].
Hampshire – Police set up new office at Leigh Park library in bid to combat crime – News.  Dedicated desk opened in estate library as people say they feel too intimidated to walk to police station. 
Monmouthshire – £120k facelift for Chepstow Library – South Wales Argus.  Money from Welsh Assembly to pay for better entrance, displays, flexible space for events, laptops, IT, children’s and teenage areas. 
Suffolk – Thousands sign petitions to save Suffolk libraries – EDP 24.  13000 names on petitions handed in today ahead of the libraries consultation ending on Saturday.  Plan of action put to cabinet on July 19th.

Suffolk shows “strength of feeling”
about library closures, 2nd April

Suffolk – Petitions to save Suffolk libraries with more than 19000 signatures handed to Suffolk CC – James Hargrave’s blog.   Portfolio holder for libraries says strength of feeling acknowledged
Swindon – Questions asked of council departments – Swindon Advertiser.   Councillor suggests defunct phone box to be used as a library.
Worcestershire – Libraries in drive to get older people computer literate – Shuttle.  Free training and advice for the three in five senior citizens who say they have never used the internet.

Private Eye on Libraries PFI / Google can’t be trusted / Suffolk’s last chance

517 libraries (443 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (for tally by authority see link on right)


Google can’t be trusted with our booksGuardian.  Last week, Google decided to delete its entire videos archive, in order to focus on it’s search business, but public outcry persuaded them not to.

“Publicly funded libraries and archives are important precisely because they are not committed to the “market fundamentalism” of pursuing profit above all other motives. Some libraries and archives need to modernise and make resources digitally available but this requires support and the protection of our public sector libraries.” (Simon Barron on Google Books).

Libraries vital for nation’s happinessBookSeller.  Archbishop looks at happiness dureing Easter sermon and suggests libraries are important.
LibrariUS: Stories from the Library – ALA (USA).  New interactive website to publicise how people use libraries and boost libraries in the media. 
Library News – Private Eye (via Alan Gibbons).  Many authorities wasting money on big PFI-funded libraries while hundreds of others are under threat – (i) Worcestershire £43m library while forcing Pershore Library to move out of the town centre, (ii) Oldham pays £2.9m p.a. for 2006 library and moves other libraries to council buildings/hours cut/jobs cuts, (iii) Newcastle £3.3m library in 2008 and 9 of its libraries being turned into “Library Express”, (iv) Dorset 20 libraries threatened while Bournemouth pays £2m p.a. for £20m library built in 2002, (v) Liverpool will sign £5m p.a. contract for new central library while cutting £1.9m in 2012. PFI schemes are “off the books”.
NUT conference: education for liberation – Socialist Worker.  Alan Gibbons spoke at fringe meeting “Finland and South Korea rate highly for children’s reading standards. Britain doesn’t. In Finland and South Korea, education is based on creativity, not testing. Here it is not. In Britain the government is closing more than 500 libraries. South Korea is opening 180 new ones.”
Thatcher still despised in red heartland – Wales Online.  Cynon Valley – “The libraries and bus services mean a hell of a lot to people living here but someone in a suit somewhere makes the decision without a second thought, it’s disgusting.”
UNESCO message on World Book and Copyright DayUNESCOOrganisation will have “The Book Tomorrow: the future of the written word” conference in Italy in June; aims to protect and project the importance of the book, in all its forms.
Your local library: for reading, learning and … watching porn (at least if you live in New York) – Mail.  Porn allowed on library computers due to the First Amendment, as long as site is legal.

Changes to tally by authority

Haringey – Hornsey, Marcus Garvey and Alexandra Park libraries to be closed on Sundays.   
Liverpool £460k cut 2011/12, £1.9m 2012/13 – Central Liverpool Library will cost £42m with PFI meaning c. £5m p.a. charge.
Oldham£1m cut – moving libraries into other council buildings, cutting hours, less paid staff.

News by authority

Derbyshire – library hours are slashed – Ilkeston Advertiser.  Ilkeston closed on Monday and Friday evenings, Sandiacre on Wednesday afternoons, Long Eaton on Monday evenings.
Derbyshire – Editorial: Give libraries a future lifeline – Bakewell Today.  “Let’s be grateful that this time around we still have a library but take heed that unless we support it we may very well be fighting for its retention in the future.”
Ealing – Letters: now we’re aware of their prioritiesEaling Gazette.  Libraries meeting was “was a big disappointment”, questions had to be short but answers “waffled on endlessly”.  £5m car park will cost £500k p.a. to service, 5 libraries to close cost £400K to run.
Haringey – Council u-turn could see libraries close on Sundays – Hornsey Journal.   Lib Dems angry that Labour council is closing libraries on Sundays despite previously saying they wanted to expand their role.
Suffolk – Final week of library consultation in Suffolk – Diss Express.  2500 responses including 15 expresses of interest in running the 29 libraries under threat.  Consultation closes this week.
Suffolk – Last effort urged in bid to save libraries – EADT.  3300 names on petition. Beccles Town Council has asked Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt for his “assistance and advice”.

Libraries in Archbishop’s Easter Sermon

517 libraries (443 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (see tally on right for full details by authority)


Book borrowing enters the digital age as libraries and readers swap to e-books – Independent.  Amazon allow libraries to lend Kindle titles, list of public libraries lending ebooks,

 “… an unscheduled stop at a local library [in Manchester]  in a rather devastated council estate revealed a lively group of teenagers who were regular users, welcomed by staff, glad of a place to do homework, gossip and feel secure.  Space, opportunity, the time to discover a larger world to live in – where are the clearly articulated priorities in public discussion that would spotlight all this, so as to make us think twice before dismantling what’s already there and disappointing more hopes for the future?”  2011 Easter Sermon Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams

Efforts being made to keep city libraries open10News (USA).  San Diego libraries use volunteers to extend opening hours.  Other savings suggested but cuts may be too severe.
Greatest library funding idea ever writtenAgnostic, Maybe.  Librarian blogger suggests commercial sponsorship and examines the pitfalls – the end (keeping libraries open) justifying the means.
“Library? How Quaint!” – LISNews.  CNet Technology editor fails to understand libraries – useful comments though.
LSSI appoints Brad King as chief executive  New CEO is from contract services, not libraries.  “LSSI offers a powerful alternative for governments [my bold on “s”] wanting to preserve the vital libraries in their communities, and expand the impact of those libraries during this difficult economic downturn”.
Support New Reader Libraries petition – GoPetition.  Reader Organisation organises “campaign to save libraries”
What the public library service could have done – Good Library Blog.  List is (a) renovating all buildings, (b) standardised book ordering/distribution, (c) created national libraries catalogue and (d) website, (e) national training for library assistants, (f) international bookstock, (g) digitised local history collections, (h) investment in IT

Changes to Tally

Birmingham – Birmingham Music Library loses half its staff, suspends non-telephone interlibrary requests.
RutlandEvening and weekend opening hours cut at  Uppingham, Oakham, Ryhall and Ketton.

News by Authority

Brent – Camden and Brent ConsultingJames Powney’s Blog.  Councillor appears to have different understanding of the word consultation to that of his electorate – I suspect that some people would be complaining, whatever the nature of the consultation, because they don’t like the decision”
Calderdale – Friends of Todmorden Library – Blog.  “We are a new group. We aim to find ways of encouraging more people to use Todmorden Library. We shall work to make Todmorden Library a resource for the whole community, and resist any attempt to reduce the library service.”
Cumbria – Links supplies lifeline for Cumbria areas without libraries – Westmorland Gazette.   Looks at an existing 400-book “Library Link” which council wishes to roll out across county while closing 18 libraries.  No reading space but can order books for free via computer for delivery in one week. 
Derbyshire – Library hours to be cut – Matlock Mercury.  Matlock to close for two hours, Wirksworth for one hour and a half.
Gloucestershire – Prestbury Library given lifeline – This is Gloucestershire.  Council has agreed to run Prestbury for at least 12 hours per week.  30 volunteers could help double these opening hours.
Lincolnshire – Help Stamford Library buy more books – Rutland and Stamford Library.  Collection box outside library to raise money for bookfund. 
Oxfordshire – Charge for parking outside County Hall and “save libraries”Oxford Mail. £170k could be raised, enough to keep eight libraries open.  Councillors currently use the spaces for free.
Suffolk – Village rejects a library run by volunteers alone – Bury Free Press.  Village rejects 100% volunteer model for Thurston Library but considers three different options – (i) extra £17 p.a. on rates (ii) village matching county funding or (iii) local partnership with other threatened libraries.
Suffolk – Battle to save libraries in Suffolk – Leigh Day & Co Solicitors.  Outlines legal case against Suffolk that consultation is flawed as decision already made to cut 30% of budget.

“If democracy were a religion, libraries would be its churches”

517 libraries (443 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (for tally by authority see link on right)


Dreaming Libraries – Unlibrary. Argues public libraries essential for “1) inspiring, inclusive local spaces for thinking, writing and browsing. 2) access for all to professional advisers who can help us to find exactly what we need, be it advice on bankruptcy or the very latest research into a favourite writer”
Libraries and Freedom of Information gazebos – Michael  (Specialist) suggesting librarians should work more on providing council/government information.
Libraries: Changing but still free! – Wall Street Journal (USA).  Examines public libraries in the USA and ask readers if they’re users. Reader’s comments show a lot of love for them. 
Library card as a pop-culture fiend’s ticket to paradise – NPR (USA).  Even cool people can like libraries.
Love our Libraries – Proper Noun (USA).  Stories about how important libraries are, including the “if democracy were a religion” quote.
No furniture so charming: the future of libraries – Thoughts of a [wannabe] librarian.  Summary of library debate from London Word Festival.

“A world of ubiquitous free or near-free ebooks is coming, in 5 or 10 or 20 years. And when that happens, a library that defines itself as “a place where you can get free or near-free books” will no longer be an institution providing a service deemed important enough to be maintained by its community. But libraries have never been solely about free books. They are about something deeper, about information, about access to knowledge, about providing a public space where citizens can interact with each other, all within the context of an exchange of knowledge. Libraries are at the core of our understanding of civilization, and if we are to keep them healthy, we’ll have to make sure that they continue to answer deep needs in our society, rather than provide particular services because they’ve always done so.” What are Libraries for? – In the library with the lead pipe

What will the library of the future look like?Literary Platform.  A librarian asks children what libraries will be like…
Will books vanish along with bookshops? – Guardian.  Bookshops disappearing from High Streets in USA, UK and Australia.  “When Borders went, publishers believe that while some of the sales they made migrated to other retailers such as Waterstone’s and Amazon, some simply disappeared.”

News by authority

Camden – Libraries “stand for civic decency and respect”Camden New Journal.  Green Partycouncillor describes libraries as a “treasure beyond price” and resists closures/privatisation. He will be on holiday during vital vote.
Ealing – Northolt Leisure Centre library all stitched up? – Phil Taylor. Opposition councillor suspects library closure already agree as will save money and site may generate income.  Carnegie status of Hanwell Library will not prevent its sell-off. 

“It was great to see the fantastic range of books and IT services on offer in the mobile library. With the libraries service facing dramatic cutbacks, it’s really important that as many people as possible find out about the mobile service, and make the best use of it.”  Leeds – Mobile Libraries – Rachel Reeves MP.

Dan Poulter MP signing Suffolk Petition

Sheffield – Decisions made for the right reasons – Sheffield Telegraph. Lib Dem deputy leader defends cuts in libraries, says Labour would close libraries deliberately to blame coalition.
Suffolk – Needham Market: More than 1000 names on petition – EADT.  David Ruffley MP collected petition to present to House of Commons. 
Suffolk – Suffolk libraries petitions with over 13000 signatures to be handed in – James Hargrave’s Blog.  Labour and Lib Dem leaders will be present at handing in of petition, possibly also the new Conservative leader.
Swindon – Fionuala steps down from council cabinet – Swindon Advertiser. Councillor in charge of Libraries was firmly against library closures and privatisation but will leave office before private consultancy publishes libraries review.

Localism Bill a “One Way Ticket to Privatisation”

517 libraries (443 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK

Two stories stand out today.  The first is that Camden solicitors suggest that the Localism Bill, should it become law, will mean that all councils will need to consider privatisation as an option in running their libraries.  Labour councillors call this a “one way ticket” to privatised libraries, Conservative councillors described Labour as “closed minded”.  See the “Privatized and Volunteer Libraries” link on the right for more  information on the subject of privatised libraries.

The second story is that CILIP are expecting there to be more library closures announced after May 5th election.  This is undoubtably true.  It is sobering to think that a figure of 517 may be an underestimate for the number of libraries under threat.


Because even our libraries are cool: Shepard Fairey joins LA’s young literati in supporting the LAPL – LAistYoung professionals see public libraries as key to promote Los Angeles as an intellectual and literary centre. 
Cameron: we’re the people’s partyNorthern Echo.  David Cameron asked if cutting libraries was the “true face” of Conservatives – he replied deficit needs to be cut and council “waste” would pay for it.  Any cuts to front-line services are politically motivated to hurt Conservatives.
More library closures set for SummerBookSellerLikely to be more closures after May 5th elections. More library cuts expected in universities as tuition fees are introduced.

 “We’ve had 500 in six months,” he said. “A lot of councils are waiting for the flak to die down from the first round, and think we will then all be used to the idea that libraries have to go.” He predicted a new wave of announcements over the summer, adding: “Brent and Lewisham [which are closing 11 libraries between them] seem to have got away with it. The secretary of state has been asked to intervene but has not yet produced a response. He is talking to people and taking evidence, but he’s just going through the motions.” Tim Coates

Public libraries feel strain of budget cutsDaily Herald.  72% of libraries reported cuts last year, 43% cut staff, 19 states cut funding, 17 states closed libraries.  Urban libraries affected the most.  7 in 10 libraries do not have enough computers to cope with demand. (USA).
Save our Libraries! – Women’s Weekly, 12th April p.20-21 (not available online).  Double page spread includes interview with Elaine Hoare (volunteer) at Chalfont St Giles, Heather Wright (campaigner for Goodmayes library) and Joephine Cox (author).

Changes to tally

Edinburgh – £602k cut (rather than previously reported £550k); may reduce opening hours.
Windsor and Maidenhead – Has 105-110 staff with 45-50 volunteers 

News by authority

Bolton – Campaigners out in force to save libraries – Bolton News. 50 protesters lobbied councillors before meeting.  600 signatures collected in two hours outside Harwood Library.  200 attended read-in at Astley Bridge last week.  Consultation ends 20th May.
Camden – Labour pledge not to sell off library service to private companies – Camden New Journal.  Labour would like to rule out privatisation but Localism Bill may soon make such a pledge illegal. LSSI asked to speak at meeting but were refused. Conservative group call opposition to privatisation “closed minded”.
Cumbria – Walney: Library supporter, 97, calls for library to stay – North West Evening Mail.  Loss of library will mean loss of community and lack of books for those who cannot travel.

“We believe that libraries and the staff who run them are vital, not just in this borough, but across the country and that Councils should not see them as an easy way to make savings. The use of volunteers is important but they should be used to enhance the library offering not to replace skilled librarians.” Cllr Simon Dudley, Cabinet Member for Adult and Community Services, Windsor & Maidenhead Council.

Dorset – Weymouth: Councillors’ anger as five local libraries face losing their funds – View Online.  One library for 64k people, ten mile travel to nearest library.  Consultation described as a “sham and disgraceful”.  Poorer areas like Littlemoor will lose vital internet access and be unable to become volunteer-run.
Edinburgh – Turning page to a new chapter for city libraries – Edinburgh Evening News. Initiatives to stop decline in usage (down 6%) face problem of large budget cut which may reduce opening hours.  Library chief suggests online services may be the answer.
Enfield – Tories claim Enfield Festival cash better spent on adult services and libraries – Enfield Independent.  £200k multicultural Enfield Festival supported “in principle” but money needed elsewhere. 

“I am 100 per cent committed to Staffordshire’s libraries. I want to expand and develop the services that they offer residents which is why, when many areas are closing facilities, the county council is investing in libraries by providing technology such as Wifi. Libraries offer a full range of resources for the whole community. Our network of 43 libraries and the mobile library service provides a knowledge hub for people in all walks of life.”. Staffordshire – Libraries in Lichfield and Burntwood switch to WifiLichfield Blog.  

Sutton – Last chance to comment on future of Sutton librariesSutton Guardian. £935k cut consultation closes on April 23rd.  “Suggestions so far include introducing iPads into libraries to replace desktop PC’s; charging for the use of the computer suite; reviewing the DVD/CD hire service; making better use of volunteers and hosting children’s birthday parties”
Warwickshire – Thousands petition over library proposals – Warwickshire Direct.  6000 people have signed petitions during the consultation so far, which ends on June 9th.  The council refuses to say if the petitions are for or against council proposals.

Ebooks for Kindles to be loaned in US libraries

517 libraries (443 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (see tally link on right for full list)


Is the fate of libraries to die? A bleak prognosis – Under a Watling Street tree.  Libraries have “dumbed down”, lost their educational purpose and are therefore open to the threat of closures.
Jesse Jackson Jr: iPads are both the future and the harbinger of doom – Telegraph. “Here he is, decrying the loss of jobs such as those in ‘libraries, bookstores. Jobs that depend on paper. In the not-too-distant future, such jobs will not exist.”
Kindle teams with OverDrive to lend library booksPublishers Weekly.  200% increase 2009 to 2010 in public library ebook lending in USA and perhaps the same again this year. “Of course, not every title available for purchase in the Kindle will be available for lending. Major publishers like Macmillan and Simon & Schuster still do not sell e-books to libraries”

“The internet retail giant has linked up with Overdrive, which provides digital content to 11,000 US libraries and educational institutions, to create the Kindle Library Lending service. When the service launches later this year, customers will be able to check out a Kindle book from their local library and start reading on any Kindle device or free Kindle app. The service also allows loaned Kindle e-books to be annotated on their e-reading device. The next time the e-book is checked out by the same user, their margin notes will have been saved and appear again. readies e-book lending service – Bookseller. See also Amazon Press Release.

Leadership role for The National Archives – BBC.  National Archives will take over from MLA, ignoring government committee advice to reconsider scrapping of MLA.
National Libraries Day could become week of events – BookSeller.  First planning meeting involving several national organisations to take place in May. 
Save our libraries – Digital DemocracyThe campaign is one of the top runners in this (similar to 38 Degrees) website.  You will need to log in to vote but the registration system is fairly easy.

 “..if we allow digital material to replace imperfectly what has worked well before, we run a serious risk of creating a system that retards learning, by pulling away the foundations of what the Internet can offer. Zadie Smith may be wrong about the underlying factor in closing libraries, but in the end it’s a shame there aren’t more people fighting with her.”Stealing Libraries – Harvard Crimson.

Where is the Culture Select Committee? – Good Library Blog.  
Why does the Left hate technology? – Patriot Post (USA).  Jesse Jackson Jr has attacked ebooks/Ipad for stealing people’s job.  Deeply partisan article expands this example to argue that the Left is against technological progress.  Notable for image of a knitting frame being somehow “bludgeoned to death”. See this response.

Changes to tally by authority

Derbyshire – Some staff cuts.  Hours reductions are mainly two hours per library on one day.
Flintshire – Feasibility plan launched for new Saltney Library. 
Windsor and Maidenhead – New library to open at Boyn Grove, expanding Smiths Lane.  Staffing a combination of core paid staff with volunteers used to extend hours/services.

News by authority

Cumbria – MP launches fight to save libraries – North West Evening Mail.  Tim Farron MP.  Loss of mobile libraries a particular blow to those in the Lakes.
Cumbria – Your views on the “Cumbria Community Libraries” idea – Cumbria Council.  Interesting comments about the council’s idea to close 20 branches and replace them with 400 books each in local shops (400 books is roughly four “spinners” or that held in a keen readers’ house)
Cumbria – Campaign launched to keep Workington Library open – News & Star.  ““A lot of people use our library, I use it myself. It’s not just books, you can get films and all sorts and it’s a meeting place for a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise see each other. It’s also handy for all the local schools. We won’t sit back and watch it close.”

“In a county like ours, library services play a key role in our community. When I heard about the county council plans, I was shocked. Many residents use the library services. It is a chance to meet friends and catch up when the library van comes. These proposals will hit older people the hardest. I hope local residents join the campaign to save the services.” Tim Farron MP.

Derbyshire – Libraries feel full force of cutbacksDerbyshire Times.  Summary of libraries losing hours (mostly two hours on one day).  Cuts intended to avoid closing some libraries entirely.
Dorset – Call to support your local library – Bridport News.  Campaigner asking people to support proposal to cut hours in all libraries rather than closing 20.
Flintshire – Saltney library, pharmacy and police headquarters complex planned – Chester Chronicle. Corporate investment required. 
HarrowSelf-service machines go online in Harrow libraries – Harrow Observer.  Self-service machines installed in order to save enough money so no library will close. “Harrow’s modernisation project is in sharp contrast to neighbouring Brent’s own ‘libraries transformation’, which includes the closure of six branches.”
Isle of Wight – Council indemnify library user group against TUPE claims – Ventnor Blog.  Council has agreed to cover any TUPE claims against community group taking over closing Bembridge Library ans has agreed to do so in other closing libraries.
Isle of Wight – High Court paper filed against Council over libraries Ventnor Blog.  Lack of Equality Impact Assessment by council is cited as major cause.  Council told campaigners to “do your own”.
Isle of WightLegal action to stop libraries’ closure to be launched – IWCP.  Legal action about to take place – if action successful, council will be forced to reopen any libraries it closes.
Lewisham – Lewisham campaigners’ questions for DCMS – Alan Gibbons.  Text of letter from campaigners to DCMS highlighting their concerns over the legality of Lewisham’s cuts.
Suffolk – Library “may not survive future cuts” – Newmarket Journal.  Mildenhall may be axed in 2012 so best to look for solution now – community use or moving it closer to the town centre are possibilities.
Windsor and Maidenhead – Borough bucks national trend: new library planned for Boyn Grove – Alan Gibbons.

Crucifying a library near you.

517 libraries (443 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (see tally link on right for full list)


Improving literacy through school libraries –  Sign On San Diego (USA).  “We cannot afford to lose the academic enrichment that a library brings to a school community … let’s choose to be a literate society”.
Beyond the fragments – Public Finance.  Austerity is forcing sharing services between councils thus making councils less local.  Government is shifting the blame to councils for closing libraries etc while at the same time still subjecting them to “endless Whitehall diktats”.
Disintermediation and its discontents – Scholarly Kitchen.  Discussion about library purchasing, publishers and the lesson learnt by Britannica. “We have to stop talking to our customers”.
Librarians and Rome: Rules for the University of Gloucestershire c. 1943. – Johanna Bo Anderson’s Blog 

“However, people who don’t own those devices [eBooksare left behind. Underfunded schools, for example, barely have funds for printed books, much less e-books, e-readers or laptops, educators say. “I hate to see our increasingly divided culture leave the poor further behind by making texts available mostly in unaffordable and impractical formats,” says Denver School of the Arts literature teacher Gregg Painter.New way we read: ten ways digital books are changing our literary lives – Denver Post (USA).

Public library useALA (USA).  Fact Sheet showing current state of play for public libraries in the USA.  82% offer wifi, three-fifths of Americans own a library card. Children account for a third of use.
Whither the dream of the universal library? – Guardian. Copyright concerns are preventing the digitisation of all printed works.  


Changes to tally

Walsall – Libraries may be privatised.

News by Authority

Derbyshire – Library opening hours slashed – Derbyshire Times. 30 libraries will have reduced hours. £1.76m cut.
Enfield – Fight begins against possible Enfield library closuresEnfield Independent. “Hands off Libraries” petitions started by Nick De Bois MP (Conservative).
Enfield – “No library short-listed to close” says Councillor Bambos Charalambous – Enfield Independent.  Councillor in charge of libraries suggested no library in particular is highlighted to close in seeming contradiction to the words and actions of others in the Council.  One of the libraries highlighted for closure, Ordance Road, would be controversial as it is currently undergoing refurbishment, due to reopen April 26.

Gloucestershire – Rev. Keith Hebdem “We need to continue to speak truth to power” – FoGL. Matson vicar organised vigil with line ““Were you there when they crucified our library?”. Council has given up on volunteers running it and suggest people go to nearest other library “20 minutes away by car”.
Lewisham – Battle lines are drawn over libraries’ future – South London Press. Campaigners presented case to DCMS last week, the council defended them to the DCMS, and community groups put forward their case for taking over the libraries, due to closed on May 28th.
Lewisham – Would you borrow a book from these people? – Brockley Central. Interesting comments. 
Liverpool – Central Library transformation makes progress – Liverpool Echo. £50m project, the new features will include a “Discovery” zone for children, modern IT facilities and a rooftop terrace cafe.
Suffolk – Promise of big changes at county councilEADT.  New council leader seems to be aiming to tone down the radical divestment strategy of predecessor.
Walsall – Walsall council staff may be moved to private firms – Express & Star. Education and Roads already contracted out. “We need to look at outsourcing jobs. Let’s take libraries for instance, there may be someone who comes to us and says ‘we will run your libraries for you’.”

Court Case against Government dropped.

Reassurances have been given by the DCMS that they will step in and call public inquiries into library closures if necessary.  Alan Gibbons and the Campaign Against the Book have therefore dropped their moves towards a judicial inquiry.  See Alan’s article here.

517 libraries (443 buildings and 74 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (see tally link on right for full list)


Five myths about the Information Age Chronicle of Higher Education (USA)Debunks several myths like “the book is dead” (more print books are published every year than in the previous year), Google estimates 88% of books not available online and … libraries are not obsolete.
Labour councils “sitting on cash” as services are cutDaily Telegraph (front page)Much debate between Labour and Conservatives on who is sitting on the most money and why the other side should spend it on things like libraries.
Lending to Learning: The development and extension of public libraries – Ronan O’Beirne.  Details of new book. “the public library [should be] not simply as a national institution steeped in tradition, or as a purposeless place providing little more than popular glossy magazine titles, but as a learning space. Or, more correctly, a space owned by and dedicated to learners.” Radio interview with author (and a interviewer knowledgeable about libraries) on Bradford Commumity Broadcasting about the book and the future of libraries is here. 
Libraries: the alternative approach of Brent and BucksConservativeHome.  Compares Brent’s decision to close 6 of its 12 libraries with Buckinghamshire’s more Big Society approach to closing 16 out of 23.  
Library War LISNewsPoster notes debate between lovers of Ebooks and lovers of printed books. (USA) 
Time libraries were shelved? – Silicon (Peter Cochrane’s Blog).  Writer no longer uses paper books, that there is no further point in them or encyclopaedias, that libraries should be closed because other services are more necessary but he does not wish to enter the libraries debate. See response by Alan Gibbons.

What’s the key to a good job interview? – Wikiman.  How to get a job in libraries.

What does it mean, the children ask, borrow a book?
Why borrow when you can buy everything – print on demand –
from a warehouse the size of the amazon rainforest
or download to read later?  They laugh when we say we
used to walk to a building where you could ‘borrow’ books.
The brown packages tumble through the letterbox:
as if they’d ever give them back!  The boy skims through
a billion pages.  The girl fondles her kindle like a wounded pet.
They look up at us and smile, their eyes shining pixels:
what does it mean, the last library has shut tight?
We try to explain.  Date stamps flicker on their lashes. 
Borrow – A Poem by Rosie Miles (Voices for the Library)

Changes to Tally

Bromley – Council has £33m cash reserves
Gloucestershire – Consultation on opening hours until 30th April. 
Lambeth – Council has £93.7m cash reserves.
Liverpool – Council has £121.7m cash reserves according to Conservatives (£16m according to council)
Manchester – Council has £95.2m cash reserves
Nottingham – Council has £50.7m cash reserves.

News by authority

Brent – Councillors told to resign after library axe voteHarrow Observer.  Councillor says “There are more things to consider than just what people said in the consultation”.  Six libraries to close while £100m spent on new town hall.
Croydon – Bashford refuses to answer key questions on librariesInside Croydon. Council is strongly suspected of having already decided to close libraries and transfer them to volunteers. Despite consultation, one councillor has already said “Three libraries are looking at going, Sanderstead being one of them.”
Ealing – Anger over Hanwell Library proposals – Ealing Today.  LibDem councillor calls consultation loaded and points out excludes those who are not online. Hanwell costs £82k p.a to run.  Packed meeting included two former labout councillors and that council “clearly needs to look elsewhere to find these savings.”

“We were able to speak up for everyone in Gloucestershire being affected by the slashing of library services and to whom the county council will not listen, including the 10 communities that will no longer have public libraries and the users of the mobile library services which are being completely axed. It’s such a shame that we have had to travel all the way to Westminster and to central government to make our voices heard, as this is exactly the kind of open and honest discussion we have been trying to have with GCC for months, but to no avail.” Gloucestershire – Library campaigners put their case to government officialsTewkesbury Admag.

Gloucestershire – Library users consulted on opening hours – Tewkesbury AdMag. “Gloucestershire County Council has used statistics on individual library use to suggest opening hours, but says no decisions have been taken and people are being asked to give their views on what suits them”
Leicestershire – Library self-service machines a huge success! – InLoughborough. 85% of issues through self-service machines saving £330k in staffing costs.
Oxfordshire – Benson: Campaign group launched to save library from chop – Henley Standard.  Benson Library’s usage is growing, 40% of its usage is by children and it has won awards for good service.
Suffolk – Lollipop patrols saved by new county council leader – EADT.  Hopeful signs that new council Leader will review decision to close 29 out of 44 libraries.
Suffolk – Stradbroke Parish Council’s response to Suffolk Library Consultation – James Hargrave’s Blog.  Parish Council would prefer to keep library as is, however being Suffolk are determined to close, parish council will take over role with funding by Suffolk for one year.
Wirral – Woman who led Wirral libraries inquiry to speak at New Brighton conference – Wirral News.  Sue Charteris will be speaking in her capacity as co-founder of “Shared Intelligance” at the Reader Organisation’s Reading for Wellbeing Conference at the Floral Pavilion Theatre, New Brighton on May 17