There’s been some brilliant news for library campaigners in the last few weeks.  A lot of u-turning has been going on (such as in Oxfordshire and Suffolk) as councils are suddenly confronted by how dearly people love their public libraries.  The most recent u-turn is in North Yorkshire as 15 libraries are taken off the threatened list. However, the cut to the libraries budget there has not been significantly reduced (the axe instead will be to library staff and hours in larger branches instead of closures) and there is still a whopping 8 branch libraries and 10 mobile libraries under threat there.  That would have been a horrible total a year ago – but what was horrible then is a significant victory today.  How times have changed.

450 libraries (381 buildings and 69 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4517 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”)

Changes to libraries by authority

Camden7 (out of 13) under threat, to be decided on 8th June (previously listed as “some”) 
North Yorkshire18 under threat (previously 33) = 8 libraries still under threat (previously 23 out of 42), 10 mobile libraries to go.  Plans to close 15 libraries scrapped after public outcry – funding to be found by reduced hours and staffing in larger libraries, no Sunday opening. 
Northern Ireland10 under threat (not 20 as previously thought).
West Sussex1 (of 3) mobile libraries to be scrapped (£65,000 “saving”).  £2m to be cut by 2014 (previously listed as “some”).


Plugging the gaps – LocalGov.  “Social entrepreneurs” have a big place in helping alleviate the impact of cutd – “It is also not just about the range of the services affected – from children’s services to libraries to leisure centres – but the scale and speed at which change is happening”

“…public libraries, especially rural ones, are the only way for many people to access knowledge, to access the Internet to inform themselves, to apply for jobs, to be a part of the world outside; the only way for older people to get hold of affordable, large print books, and to continue to be enveloped by human warmth and friendships they may not find at home, and, in turn, to keep their minds and bodies active for longer without having to find refuge in the (also underfunded) NHS. They are prime services of civilisation in an increasingly barbaric age.”“Prime services of civilisation in an increasingly barbaric age – Voices for the Library. 

Three in 10 UK children “own no books” Guardian.  18,000 children asked – 4 in 10 boys don’t own a book.  “Douglas stressed that there was “no point at which it is too early” to support children in learning to love books. “It is not just something which starts the first day of a child’s schooling,” he said. “Don’t think it is basically up to the school to get a child reading. Everyone the child has contact with – parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent – has an active role to play in terms of supporting literacy.”  Also covered (front page) in London Evening Standard (see yesterday’s update) and as Boy, 9, tells teacher “The only book in the house is the Argos catalogue” – Mail and BookSeller and Book That – Travelling Suitcase Library.

News by local authority

Brent – Councillor joins runners in bid to save library – Harrow Observer.  £1000 raised in fun run to save Barham Library.  £5000 raised to help run library so far. 
Camden – Report available on the future of our libraries – Camden Council.   Three options (1) close Belsize, Chalk Farm and Heath libraries plus 10% cut in all others (2) Belsize and Chalk Farm to close plus 35% cut in all others (3) reduce number of libraries from 13 to 6. 
Lambeth – Residents to have their say on local libraries – Net-Lettings. 

“County councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for the library and information service, said members had listened hard during the consultation exercise and felt “heartened that our outstanding libraries are held in such high regard”. North Yorkshire – Reprieve for libraries after public outcry – Northern Echo.  Also reported as “Libraries vital to the future of North Yorkshire’ communities” says County CouncilHarrogate News

North Yorkshire – New blow in Great Ayton library battle – Gazette.  “Great Ayton campaigner Jennifer Roberts said: “We’re deeply disappointed at being left out. We were the ones who caused the council to have a rethink on the library situation in the first place.”
Suffolk – Ipswich Borough Council invests to save town libraries and school crossing patrols – EADT.   “Residents have demonstrated through petitions, at meetings and through correspondence that these services matter to them and during the current uncertainty we will not stand by and watch them being axed.” £54k committed in 2011, £156k in 2012.  Asking for urgent talks with Suffolk Council about its plans to cut libraries. 
Suffolk – Princess Royal in Kessingland to meet the community – Norwich Evening News.  “Despite today’s celebratory atmosphere, the royal visit was bittersweet for some with Kessingland’s library under threat of closure. While Suffolk County Council’s controversial plans to offload its libraries have been scaled back, supporters fear the village branch could still shut and staged a peaceful protest outside the Marram Green this morning.” 
West Sussex – Mobile library service reduced – BBC.  “The local authority said the mobile service was “convenient but not vital” for many people.” Also reported as West Sussex mobile library vehicles to be cut from three to two – West Sussex County Times.