Over the last few weeks, campaigners up and down the country have been discovering that merely having a strong legal case to save libraries is not enough.  One has to have money as well. Legal Aid is not doing the job or is being withdrawn.  Brent campaigners are pleading for £5 donations and Isle of Wight campaigners are asking for any money at all.  Without the money – which can be in the tens of thousands of pounds – these legal challenges will fail. 

Today the headquarters of the DCMS, whose job it is to protect libraries and whose ministers have the legal duty to so, was petitioned by campaigners from Lewisham.  Ed Vaizey lived up to his nickname of “Evaizive” by failing to appear or, indeed, to do anything.  This prompted the campaigners to worry that “Ed is dead”.  With the law only being available to the very rich or to ministers who do not wish to act then hopes for legal success may also be dead.  Mr Vaizey appears satisfied that writing a couple of letters and having a few chats is the sum total of his library responsibilities.  Perhaps he knows that no-one can do anything about it as it looks like no-one can afford to sue him.

451 libraries (383 buildings and 68 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (for complete list by area see link on right)


Campaigners seek answers from EdBookSeller.  Lewisham campaigner – “We have asked to meet with [culture minister] Ed Vaizey but have had no answer. We think Ed is dead because he’s not answering anything.” – protesting outside DCMS HQ and Number Ten.
Country without librariesNew York Review of Books (USA).  Cuts in the USA suggest that significant areas may soonbe without any public libraries at all, with dire results for those who are not wealthy and well-educated.

From Demotivation.us

Fight goes on – Censored genius.  Some adult language from this librarian, translated here as “I’m the (expletive) librarian, mother(expletive), I am not any corporation’s bitch. And if I want books in the library, we’re having books. And DVDs. And econtent. And graphic novels. And pie.”.  Of course, the picture above has a naughty word but please consider this as exerting the rights for freedom of speech.
Library cuts damage the human psycheLondon Evening Standard. Mariella Frostrup defends libraries while opening a refurbished branch in Kensington & Chelsea.  “”A country that loses its cultural heart loses its heart altogether,” she added. “To ignore or downgrade cerebral pursuits whose benefits aren’t necessarily immediately financially obvious is like making the outside of your body look OK while eating fried food. It’s damaging to the human psyche. “
You and Yours – BBC Radio 4 –  Interviews with (1) Patricia Richardson protesting outside the DCMS, (2) Tim Coates – you can make savings by doing things better rather than closing libraries, it hard to run libraries at a profit as the service is free, even the 7 branches run by Laing are facing cuts, savings made in Lewisham giving libraries to Darren Taylor are surprisingly small – “why can’t we have a decently funded library”? (3) Darren Taylor (Eco Computer Systems) taking over three with some retired librarians, making money via recycled computer systems.

Changes to library services on tally page

– Essex – Possibility of community groups being involved in running some libraries
– Fife – £2m cut over three years.  Service may move to being run by a Trust.
Gloucestershire – Minchinhampton to stay open for one further year at reduced hours 
– North Ayrshire – Service may move to being run by a Trust

News by library authority

Cambridgeshire – Library closure: legal challenge idea welcomedHaverhill Echo.  Clare Library had 1500 signatures, campaigners suspect Government is deliberately downplaying the 1964 Act.
Essex – Harlow libraries to have opening hours slashedHarlow Star.  Five Harlow libraries to have hours cut by a combined 34 hours.  Central Library (currently open 7 days per week) will be closed on Wednesdays and Sundays. 27,000 responded to consultation. “. Councillor says “We are still keen to work with other public sector organisations or community groups who may have suggestions for funding or in-kind support which may enable us to keep libraries open for longer and will continue to welcome any suggestions of this type.”
Fife – Councillors show support for putting cultural services under control of new trustCourier.  £2m saving over 3 years for libraries/museums/archives may lead to moving services to a trust in order to save tax.   
Gloucestershire – Library group gets more time for rescue plan This is Gloucestershire.  Minchinhamption to stay open for one year longer to allow time for community to take it over. FoGL worry the suggestion for proposed fees for using the library when divested  mean County Libraries set to become private reading clubs.
Isle of Wight – Friends and users of Isle of Wight libraries, your help is neededVentnor Blog.  Legal Aid has been removed from Isle of Wight campaigner despite her lawyers (Leigh Day) saying she has a strong claim.  Donations required.

Library campaigners outside DCMS HQ (courtesy of Richard Hawkins)

Milton Keynes – Tory group has three-fold planMilton Keynes Citizen.  “libraries, nurseries and city centre parking. These are the three objectives the Conservative party will be reviewing as quickly as possible.” Libraries one of the three things most mentioned on doorsteps during election campaign.
Warwickshire – Workshop on community library models to be held by WCCWhat’s in Kenilworth.  First ticket is free, further tickets cost £33. Workshop will include five representatives from existing voluntary libraries.