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.