395 libraries (319 buildings and 76 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. 


  • Author attacks “hypocrisy” of library closures – London Evening Standard.  “Singling out Education Secretary Michael Gove, Ness said: “Here is a man who races to the latest news about what a tragedy it is that three out of 10 children don’t own a book. Yet he utterly fails to see the irony of how closing libraries will affect not only the three who don’t but the seven who do and who would like to read more and more and more.”
  • Big Issue Alan Gibbons. Argues that the government is encouraging any form of moving libraries out of council control – volunteers, trusts, private – that it can in order to cut costs and hope that one works. “Let a hundred flowers bloom, they cry. Close a few libraries here, toss a few to the community there, dangle a few under the noses of private providers elsewhere. There is no need for a strategic plan.”
  • Community engagement in public libraries: an evaluation of the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Libraries ProgrammeMLA, March 2011.  A similarly pro-volunteer report to the recently publoshed Community Managed Libraries report.  However, this one concentrates more on the positive impact of using volunteers to complement existing library staff rather than replacing them. 
  • Community-run libraries “could charge” – BookSeller.   Summarises the Community Managed Libraries report, noting that it was sent to all council chiefs last week, with a cover note by Jeremy Hunt seeming to encourage all of them to divest libraries – saying he was “conscious of the current budgetary challenges we are all facing and would encourage you to be creative about how resources can be managed in an efficient way . . . One option may be to consider if a community supported library may assist a local area rather than closing a library.”
  • Front LinesTimes Higher Education. “At a Unesco forum, Matthew Reisz hears about the hunger for libraries, corporate creep, and what should and should not be archived on the net … Several members of the panel were eloquent in defending the continuing value of libraries. Sue Sutherland, acting chief executive and national librarian at the National Library of New Zealand, called them “one of the last bastions of public civic spaces”. After the earthquake in Christchurch in February, she noted, they were very often the places where “people came together to meet and make sense of what was happening”.
  • Future of library services in the big society – Voices for the Library (Carl Clayton, SINTO).   “My own quick rough count of the attendees list shows c40 librarians, 11 senior directors and 4 councillors … [Ed Vaizey’s] message to local authorities appeared to be that he was happy to give them plenty of time to discuss options and alternatives but although he was keeping his powder dry he was prepared to use the weapon of intervention if all else failed … his phrase that “the public library service is a huge asset to be exploited; not a burden to be gradually got rid of” could well feature on the Voices for the Library website (although the cynics out there may well ask exactly how the “asset” of libraries will be exploited, and by whom!)”
  • Future of library services in the big society: notes on Ed Vaizey’s speechvia Alan Gibbons. Also Questions asked to him (“I will respond to you after discussions with my officials”). 
  • How to survive the age of distraction – Independent.  “The book – the physical paper book – is being circled by a shoal of sharks, with sales down 9 per cent this year alone. It’s being chewed by the e-book. It’s being gored by the death of the bookshop and the library. And most importantly, the mental space it occupied is being eroded by the thousand Weapons of Mass Distraction that surround us all. It’s hard to admit, but we all sense it: it is becoming almost physically harder to read books.”

“Q. You have recently been campaigning against the closure of libraries in Brent, most notably Kensal Rise. Local libraries are obviously a vital part of a community – what do you think the impact of these closures will be on local life and aspiring writers who will no longer have the ease of access these places afford them? “A.The question sort of answers itself, doesn’t it? I don’t think I would have passed my exams without my local library. Without the exams I wouldn’t have gone to college. Without college I doubt I would have written. It’s all so obvious. But no-one seems to care. It’s not just libraries – it’s a whole avenue of escape that’s been closed down. I was born in 1975. I was schooled for free, educated for free, when I broke my leg it was fixed for free, when I passed my exams I got to Cambridge for free. With a maintenance grant from Brent council that I did not have to pay back and without which I couldn’t have survived. That is what made my life possible – the availability of services that were free at the point of access. I should think I’ve paid the state back in taxes many times over by now. From the vantage point of 2011, 1945-1975 looks like a golden period in British history. It was a period where you at least had a chance of realizing the opportunities of a meritocracy. That time is over.” Interview with Zadie SmithLiterateur.  

  • Libraries and library workers are community glue!UNISON motion 43 passed at conference.
  • Library: A world of possibilities – Voices for the Library.  “Libraries are magical places that inspire kids to read. They are community hubs, information centers, study halls, meeting places, story time theaters, craft centers, and most importantly, gigantic bookshelves! Show me a literate society and I’ll show you public access to libraries. Don’t close the doors to our world’s libraries. Save our libraries and open up a world of possibilities.” Dianne de La Cassas.  
  • Libraries: Information and Knowledge Spaces – Huffington Post.  Quite a technical article but with some great pictures of libraries.
  • Suffolk be warned – Private Eye, via Alan Gibbons.  Notes Suffolk’s plans to convert to a CIC are similar to that experience in Glasgow where “despite finding £54,000 for a rebranding changing the company’s name to Glasgow Life, by 2010 it was having trouble meeting the bills, resulting in community centres closing down, major cuts to opening hours at libraries, hundreds of staff redundancies and strikes at many of the city’s top tourist attractions.” 

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