Sometimes one wonders if other countries are experiencing the same serious issues about (and against) their public libraries as we facing.  Certainly I know that our colleagues in Western Europe look upon what is happening here in shock, wondering how anyone can cut what is so obviously such a cheap common good as the public library service.  Other days, I think that we are truly all in it together, or at least the English-speaking (strange that) nations are.  This is shown today by two reports. One is from New Zealand and is part of a campaign to make free public libraries statutory.  It’s weird to read about the UK being an example of good practice but some of the arguments are very apropos in today’s climate.  The other, possibly at the moment far more relevant report given recent headlines, is from the American Library Association (ALA) on “Keeping Public Libraries Public”.  It is a well-researched, thought-out impassioned paper and one which all advocates, and critics, of public public libraries should read.

393 libraries (319 buildings and 74 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”). Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.


Keep public libraries free – Lianza (New Zealand).  Campaign to keep public libraries free in New Zealand “New Zealand stands out from countries like Australia, the UK and Canada – all of which protect free public libraries via legislation.”
Keeping public libraries public ALA.  Comprehensive guide to the reasons for keeping public libraries in public hands and the problems with privatisation.  Slight American slant but still highly usable.
Merging library services will save £1m – Guardian.  “Part of our rationalisation is reducing middle and senior managers, which will need to be fair and equitable, but will be a big chunk of initial savings,” he said. “What we envisage later will be looking at more support systems such as IT.” Ruse said the councils will have to move in stages towards full merger. “It’s a radical idea and the three boroughs will have to effectively manage in a very different way.”
Mutual interest: How the public sector can do more with less in the Big SocietyPublic Sector Executive.  Argues for the Big Society, including the case of Wandsworth’s York Gardens Library.  Article does not mention widespread resistance and criticism of the plans.  

Changes to services 
Local News
Croydon – Has Croydon called in carpet baggers to sell-off libraries?Inside Croydon.  “In Croydon, our wonderful leaders on the council are already doing some of LSSI’s carpet baggers’ work for them, but at our expense. Our service-allergic council has overseen around a dozen trained and senior specialist library staff leave their jobs since April. How convenient for any in-coming commercial organisation not to have to engage in costly redundancy payments.”
Doncaster – Be careful, DMBC, you could be next – Save Doncaster Libraries. “DMBC is dangerously close to similar legal action. Like Gloucestershire County Council, DMBC seeks to cease funding or close a significant proportion of its libraries.”.
Hackney – Have your say on the future of Hackney libraries – Hackney Citizen.  “In the last year, for the first time ever, there have been more than one and a half million visits to Hackney’s libraries, and membership is increasing too. We want these figures to keep rising, so the council is working to ensure we have modern libraries, giving people what they want while keeping costs down. If you have something to say about our proposals or you have ideas about what you want from your local library then we want to hear it.”
Hertfordshire – Herts library opening hours to changeMercury.   Opening hours will be cut across the board by 30%.

Northamptonshire – Horror as mobile library faces cuts – Lutterworth Mail.  “We’re just horrified at the place it’s stopping. It seems a strange thing to do because where it’s due to stop is a blind corner.”

Oxfordshire – Libraries could stay open after windfall – Henley Standard.  Council has been given £3.7m in grants, enough to safeguard libraries.  “This grant money may be examined as a source of that extra funding in the council’s budget process for 2012/13.”