At the AGM of the Women’s Institute, in front of 4500 people at the Liverpool Echo Arena, Annie Mauger of CILIP put the case for libraries.  This was the culmination of months of meetings of WI clubs up and down the country where their members debated whether to support the case for libraries or not.  What was at stake was whether the National Federation of Women’s Institutes would not only lend their support to public libraries but also to campaign actively on their behalf.  It must have been a nervewracking moment for Annie.  The picture below shows the view facing her. If she was worried, she need not have been. 

97.79% voted for the motion that “this meeting urges HM Government to maintain support for local libraries, as an essential educational and information resource.”

This almost unanimous WI vote to campaign for libraries may well be very important, and is certainly at the very least most welcome, in the battles ahead as, rather than maintaining libraries, the government is standing by as local councils cut library budgets by up to 40% and more.

453 libraries (382 buildings and 71 mobiles) currently under threat or closed/left council control since 1/4/11 out of c.4612 in the UK (for the complete list by area see the page “Tally by local authority”) 

 Now, that’s a lot of library campaigners, the WI at the
Liverpool Echo Arena.  Photograph by Annie Mauger.

Annie Mauger’s speech to WI as a
 “Librarians help people discern truth” (Quote from WI AGM)

Changes to library service

Bexley and Bromley – Merger of library services will include halving of staff including sacking of 36 staff, including all (back-office?) professional staff.
Milton Keynes – 2 less libraries under threatall libraries reprieved from closure.
Northamptonshire –  2 more mobile libraries under threat2 mobile libraries (out of 4) to go.  8 libraries will be “community led” (that is run by volunteers) – these are counted by Public Libraries News as closed so they remain under threat.  £287k less professional librarians, £297k less managers/backroom. 17.5 librarians left at end of this years’ cuts, down from 45 in 2008.


Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson: ditch the internet and visit your library insteadTelegraph. 
Electric books are still books – Independent (letters).  Second letter is about Brent campaign.  “Brent is perfectly aware of the dreadful effect this will have on children who use their library for quiet study, as is shown by their hasty decision to postpone the closures until the end of the exam revision period.”
Government intervention crucial for literacy: Rosen – BookSeller.   Michael Rosen demand Government arrange for linkup between libraries and schools. 
Julia Donaldson, UK’s new children’s laureate, vows to campaign for libraries – School Library Journal (USA) reports on Julia’s first blog.
Pushy parents can put children off reading for life, says new laureate – Independent.  “I have visited so many libraries in the past 15 years, and while even in the boom years libraries’ belts were being tightened, it’s crucial that their belts don’t get any tighter,” she said. “People say it is better than cutting education budgets but frankly, if you increase class sizes you can decrease them again when times are better. But if you sell a library it is very unlikely that you will ever get it back again.”
Save our librariesCampaign Room (Labour Party).  There is a petition and a chance to comment. 
Women’s Institute to campaign for libraries – Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries.  The WI, with 208,000 members are a “well-respected lobbying force”. 

Local News

“The cuts include deleting all the service managers, all the professional librarians, all the archivist staff, all the IT staff, all the site staff and all the stock and support staff services staff.” Bromley Council and Bexley Council sharing library services will cause “jobs massacre” – News Shopper.  36 jobs (half of total) will go.

Brent – Council is taken to court for closing librariesHarrow Observer.   Council says closing 6 (out of 12) libraries is a “transformation” and that “we have a strong case and that we have came up with the best strategy in the current financial climate”.  Campaigners’ solicitor says that the council has actually “swung a wrecking ball through local services with little regard to the consequences for those who use them.”.
Central Bedfordshire – No whispering, say it loud in library debate – Dunstable Today. Suggestions include different opening hours, library services from other venues and refreshment facilities.
Gloucestershire – Libraries “invoice” row continues – BookSeller.   DCMS sends abrupt reply back to Gloucestershire campaigners who believe they are paying for the legal action to save libraries that the department should do.  Interesting comment about Mr Vaizey’s own expenses where he ordered antique furniture for his office (although strangely it was delivered to his house).

“Dear Sirs,
Three campaigners from the Friends of the Isle of Wight Library Service are meeting with officials from the DCMS tomorrow, 9th June, in an attempt to save the 5 of our 11 libraries due for closure in 23 days time. We would appreciate support in the form of emails to djqhda(at) All help will be fully appreciated and a news letters will be issued in the next few days. Many thanks.” Isle of Wight.

Milton Keynes – New chapter in library dispute – Milton Keynes Citizen.  New council leaders move quickly to ensure libraries saved.  Consultation on how to save money in other ways launched.
Northamptonshire – Changes to the library serviceNorthamptonshire Council. “Customers are likely to experience some service delays” as more than £500k of staffing is axed.
Suffolk – Public to have say on future of public libraries – EADT.  ““I think the county was surprised by the hostility to their proposals for the library service. I think they had under-estimated the importance of libraries to many communities. The importance was underlined by the 42,000 people who signed petitions and the 4,000 who sent in responses to their original consultation exercise.” but library closures still possible.
Waltham Forest – Proposed library closures slammed – This is Local London.  “It’s strongly the view of the Conservative group that this is deliberately designed to disadvantage Chingford and the report is not worth the paper it’s written on”.  South Chingford Library sits on “prime development land”