Archive for May, 2011


Vote Libraries

Check out the link to the right for details on the main political parties’ recent record on public libraries then check the tally showing the record of each authority on library issues.  Libraries are great defenders and upholders of democracy.  It may be time to return the favour.


ALA commends Sen. Reed for efforts to ensure FEMA provision includes libraries as temporary relocation facilitiesAmerican Libraries (USA).  “Libraries are vital information hubs, and in the aftermath of a disaster, libraries take on an even greater community role, providing free and easy access to technology and essential information.”  This legislation is really coming into play at the moment as Tornadoes Rip Apart Several Libraries in Alabama.

“First they came for the public libraries…” Thoughts on professional duty – Undaimonia.  Some, non-public, librarians have suggested avoiding supporting their less fortunate public librarian brethren.  Others see supporting their colleagues as essential. 
High Court reviews for library closuresBookSeller.   Mentions the court case involving Gloucestershire and Somerset and the council climbdown over closures in Suffolk.
Make a noise in libraries (MANIL) fortnight 6-19 June 2011RNIB.  Campaign to improve access and resources for blind and partially sighted people.
Plans to outsource public services scaled backBBC.  Government sees widespread privatisation of public services as unpalatable for the public and targets Big Society alternatives, according to leaked CBI document. 
Public Libraries, Social Media and News MediaWalk You Home.  Notes and slides from a talk to MA Librarianship students on the Voices for the Library campaign.

Should libraries be sponsored?Trapped by Monsters.  
Should we allow porn in libraries? – Salon (USA).   LA voted against filtering porn on library computers.  Brooklyn libraries had to defend adults watching porn after arguments with users. “This ‘porn in the library’ thing is being made out to be an epidemic. It is not. The epidemic is the loss of libraries, staff and collections in our new budget realities.”
Threat of statutory duty removalUNISON.  Repeated assertions by the Minister for Libraries notwithstanding, statutory protection of libraries is under threat of being withdrawn, along with many other regulations previously thought essential for society.

News by authority

Dorset – Council improve offer to libraries under threat View Online.  Improved offer of books/computers/staffing “goes nowhere near solving the problem”. 
East Riding – Book lovers get their library back after £85,000 four-month revampHull Daily Mail.  1930s building needed complete refit, better disabled access. “The parish council is very pleased with it. We want to see services kept in the village. It’s important for villages to retain services like doctors and libraries because it’s not always easy for people to go elsewhere.”
Enfield – Grand re-opening for threatened Ordnance Road libraryEnfield Independent.  Two self-service machines installed, new jobs club started. Closure of library not certain as yet. 
Gloucestershire – Mark Hawthorne claims he has been “forced” into a costly legal process – FoGL.  “The only person to have ‘forced’ Mark Hawthorne into a costly legal process is himself”
Hammersmith & Fulham / Kensington & Chelsea / Westminster – Details of councils’ merger begin to emergeFulham & Hammersmith Chronicle.   Plans to combine libraries could save £1.4m.  “”Combining services is not only more cost effective but would also allow us to improve services in many areas such as allowing Hammersmith residents to access libraries in Westminster and vice versa.”
Lewisham – Campaigners letter – Alan Gibbons. Reaction to Lewisham’s divestment proposals.
Somerset – Legal challenge launched over library closure plansThis is Somerset.  “”Councils have a very clear and specific statutory duty to provide a comprehensive library service. “That is a duty owed by councils, not the Big Society. Taxpayers are entitled to expect compliance. Libraries are a lifeline for the disenfranchised.”
Surrey – Elmbridge borough council elections Molesey EastElmbridge Today.  All three candidates are campaigning on a keeping Molesey Library open platform.
Warwickshire – £100k fund to help communities set up their own librariesCoventry Telegraph.  “Strong interest” from people to run 16 threatened libraries.    

High Court challenge brought against Somerset and Gloucestershire library cuts

In other news, Lewisham’s council papers show who they want to take over the five libraries under threat – four will go to community groups, one may be closed.  Also, 38 000 people have signed in one day an electronic petition against HarperCollins wishing to self-destruct library e-books.  In Suffolk, worried library users are wondering how their “saved” libraries will be after a 30% cut in funding… and, finally, spare a thought for the librarians in Devon who are being forced to reapply for their jobs on lower pay. 
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.
Europe risks undermining public servicesPublic Service Europe.  Professor of public policy explains why privatising public services like libraries undermines them.
High Court challenge to library closures in the West – BBC.  Public Interest Lawyers issues a claim to High Court today against Somerset and Gloucestershire on the grounds that surviving service would not be “comprehensive and efficient”, there was insufficient consultation and that the changes will have a disproportionate impact on the vulnerable.
In defense of the Memory Theater – Open Letters Monthly (USA).  “Libraries absolutely cannot keel over and let Google replace them. They are our collective bookshelves, the memory theater for a community.”

“Undoubtedly there are more urgent, life-or-death concerns: hospitals, schools, wars. Yet what they forget, the powers that be, is that when everything else is sliding and slipping, the one thing you have left is the possibility of escape through your imagination. And that’s what a library offers, apart from being a social space, or a computer room, or a community centre, or an information point, or whatever else the people want it to be; it’s a portal for dreamt-up adventure, a rocket to the moon” Library – New Statesman. 

Legal challenges to library closuresPublic Interest Lawyers.  Libraries are closing in most economically deprives areas, one consultation was for just one month, the other was still ongoing when the decision was voted through council.
Tell HarperCollins: Limited checkouts on books is wrong for  US Petition (but anyone can sign) protesting against publisher’s decision to self-destruct ebooks after 26 issues, already has over 32000 electronic signatures.
Changes to tally
News by Authority
Barnet – Fighting closure in Barnet – Alan Gibbons. Petition to save Friern Barnet Library. 
Brent – Council’s ‘million pound spending spree’ while libraries face closure – Harrow Observer.  £1.2m spent on consultants in one month – the same month it recommended closing 6 libraries to save £1m over two years. Brent Youth Parliament has persuaded scrutiny committee to keep libraries open during exam time.  Final decision on libraries to be taken on May 22nd.
Devon – Sidmouth: cuts hit library – View Online.  Manager of library made redundant but able to reapply for her post at a lower grade. 
Dorset – Library bid: Campaigners say new proposals would be “unworkable”Dorset Echo.  Improved council offer does not solve problem of where the volunteers will come from. 
Gloucestershire – legal challenge launched against Gloucestershire county council’s library cuts – FoGL.  Astonished council will waste money in defending challenges.  “The County Council obviously feel they are not answerable to Gloucestershire residents, so now they are left answerable to the law – it is dismaying that they have let it come to this.”
Lewisham – Asset transfer proposals and provision of community library facilities – Lewisham Council.  If the council agrees, Grove Park, Sydenham and Crofton Park Libraries will be divested to Eco Computer Systems although they are worried that ECS will have to undergo massive expansion to cope and may go bankrupt.  Age Exchange will take over Blackheath.  New Cross may close.
Newcastle – a picture of Lib Dem declineGuardian.  “Newcastle council has been very smart in avoiding cuts that are likely to be emotive or trigger active opposition. Library services provide an apt illustration: instead of closing libraries, a measure liable to generate popular campaigns in their defence, there is a move towards “express libraries” with fewer staff and shorter hours, which may mark a worsening in provision but doesn’t provide a rallying point for campaigners
Somerset – Watchet’s legal challenge – Alan Gibbons. Watchet Library was gifted to the town for a library in 1953.  “It is a disgrace that the Library is being closed. Watchet is a small town and there are very few amenities remaining since the council closed the youth centres”. 
Suffolk – Suffolk libraries could remain open under new proposals – BBC.  Worries over what a “community interest company” would mean in practice.
Suffolk – Suffolk library u-turn: devil in the detail?James Hargrave’s Blog. 30% cut in budget still expected (compared to a 20% cut in council budget as a whole). Other worries – who is going to be on board of directors of new libraries Community Interest Company (CIC), were staff consulted, will there be a new head of Suffolk Libraries, how will the CIC be accountable to the public.

Suffolk – campaigning works OR too good to be true?

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.


Architecture of access to scientific knowledge50 minute CERN lecture demonstrates how expensive and difficult access to information is on the internet [without public libraries that is – but they’re not mentioned]. 
Don’t close the books on libraries!Miami Herald (USA).  Brad Meltzer writes on the importance of libraries but how, in a recession and when the public needs them most, the US is cutting its funding.  Nice quote on library cards – “Back then, we didn’t have money, but those cards gave us books, which served as passports to a better life”.
Village to close after contributing nothing to Tesco – NewsBiscuit. Spoof news item with more than a passing resemblance to the arguments sometimes advanced for the closure of public libraries.
Who can we count on?Horn Book.  Editorial on Michael Gove’s remark that children should read fifty books per year with special attention paid to the experience of public libraries.
William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind TED.  Malawian used local library to discover how to make wind turbines with transforming effects on his community.

News by authority

Gloucestershire – Children protest against mobile library closureFoGL.  Three letters by children about the proposed withdrawal of Blockley mobile library stop on 14th July.  Consultation taking place after decision made to withdraw service.  Alternative council proposal of posting books impractical as user would need to pay postage so a hardback would cost £10 to order.
Suffolk – Libraries set to be savedEADT.   “Pressure from communities” has forced council to rethink its plan to “divest” most of its libraries.
Suffolk – County libraries get a late reprieve – EADT.  Communities will still have “an opportunity to help run individual libraries”.

“The threat to library services brought out protesters on to the streets of places which had never seen marches before – and sparked a significant online campaign against the proposals.
It was the strength of these campaigns in what are seen as Conservative heartlands that are believed to have persuaded many county councillors that a change in direction was needed in last month’s group leadership contest.” Suffolk

Suffolk – No divestment for Suffolk libraries – Rosehill Readers.  Decision due to protest – 19000 signatures, 350 people marched through Ipswich, “one Sudbury resident” took legal action.
Suffolk – Libraries “saved” announcement reeks of political opportunism – Life in the country.  May elections expected to see Labour seize Ipswich from the Conservatives.  Submissions from consultation not read. Community interest company would make “savings” of 30%.
Suffolk – Eye, Debenham and Stradboke libraries to be saved? – Diss Express.  28 hour read-in at Debenham Library.
Suffolk – Town petition to save library service – Bury Free Press.  1000 signature petition against Needham Market Library closure gains backing of MP David Ruffley – “Libraries are a fundamental part of small town life.”. 
Wiltshire – £16m bill for speedier net – Gazette & Herald.  “We will also use the funding to support local digital literacy projects, getting wifi in public buildings such as libraries and recycling computers for families and individuals on low incomes.”