The minister for libraries, Ed Vaizey, said it is “better to discuss with local authorities before we press the nuclear button of intervening” at the “Future of Libraries in the Big Society” conference (Cost per ticket – £718 for companies, £358 for the discounted members – it’s unclear if volunteers delegate tickets were free) today.  Mr Vaizey then said he will decline to act until he has been advised that “there is a prima facie case that they [the local authority] have breached their library duties. I haven’t been given that advice yet.”.  Reports from the conference suggest he praised the new Community Knowledge Hub website which is a resource for those wishing to run public libraries with volunteers. Mr Vaizey then went on to concentrate on positive stories such as Newcastle and Manchester Libraries updating their Facebook pages.

An immediate response from a Gloucestershire campaigner, where the public is having to fund a legal challenge to the council’s plans to cease funding 16 libraries, was “Is this man on another planet?!”.  Alan Gibbons says that Ed Vaizeys’ “comments threaten to turn complacency into an art form”. 

Shirley Burnham chronicles in the comments of the BookSeller article how Ed Vaizey was keen on intervention when in opposition (see below):

9 February 2010 : Vaizey and Hodge Clash over Library Future
“Vaizey said it was ‘outrageous and offensive’ to everyone who ever cared about books and reading …..”…
7 February 2010 : Vaizey on Libraries – “We can’t go on like This !”
3 March 2009 : Vaizey Slams Burnham [“Ignoring his responsibilities as Secretary of State !”]
23 January 2009 : Vaizey Tables Early Day Motion on Wirral…. 

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.


Annie Mauger gives key speech at The Future of Library Services in the Big Society conference – CILIP.  “Annie stressed that professional staff understand the information needs of the communities they serve, and can plan to meet them. That librarians are trained to deliver impartiality, neutrality and safety. As a result libraries are an impartial and trusted source of information.”
Community Knowledge HubNew government sponsored website for running libraries with volunteers announced by Ed Vaizey at the “Future of Libraries in the Big Society” conference.
Confronting the future: Strategic visions for the 21st Century LibraryALA (USA).  Survey from the American Library Association on what the future holds for public libraries.

 “Now, Nicholas I don’t want to teach you to suck eggs but what I find in my local library are books, mainly for people to take away to borrow. They can open the doors, present a card and then leave with nuggets of literature bound in plastic so nare a spill should tarnish their incredible cover.  For those who have tunnel vision, there are also volumes that will allow them to read at some distance.  My grandmother used to love a Catherine Cookson from a library.  She would mount it at the end of her long hallway and still, with those uncataracted eyes, she would be able to make out even the most nugatory of vowels.  It is an incredible place of learning.  We must fight to make sure that no government removes these accessible institutions which gave those… (MASSIVE CHEERING)… Save the Libraries!” Sue Perkins, Just A Minute (Radio Four, 14.30 to 15.30)

Shared back office costs saves libraries – ConservativeHome.  “The proposals are being backed by the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Ed Vaizey MP.”  “of 1,500 residents who took part in a telephone survey in February, said the three authorities should share as much as possible. 34 per cent said there should be some sharing of services. Only 13% of people were opposed to sharing services”
Union will continue to fight for libraries – UNISON.   “Dissent is everywhere, and we need to be at the forefront of it,” declared Mary Pearson of the local government service group executive, as conference delegates in Manchester vowed to continue the campaign for the nation’s libraries. With voters across the country rebelling against library closures, conference called on UNISON to: build alliances across the library network, including users and local communities; fight for a key public service which makes up just 1% of local government spending, but is invaluable in improving people’s life chances.”


Hackney – Front-line staff cut by £700k 2010-11, more senior managers.
Rotherham – Central Library to be demolished, libraries to move to new Civic Building, co-locating with customer services.
Southwark – Consultation 27 June to 30th September.

Local News 

Croydon – Schools and groups queue up to run libraries, apparently – That Woman’s Blog.  “It can only be assumed, in the absence of any “real” Sanderstead people coming forward to volunteer, Eldridge and his new chums at Croydon Council will enlist the help of pixies, elves and the occasional mythical beast, found from within the woods of leafy Sanderstead, which is bound to be a draw card for even the most reluctant young reader.”
Dorset – Future of Dorset libraries still hang in balance Dorset Echo.  Closing ten libraries will be the recommended option when full council meets July 21st.  Also Closure threat still hangs over libraries (Daily Echo).

Ealing – Report will now be available online from Friday 24th June – Ealing Today.  “We are determined to deliver a high-quality library service that serves all residents across the borough. This meeting is the first opportunity to look at how we can work with volunteers and community groups.”
Hackney – Slow death of the library service: unnecessary cuts despite the mayor’s promises – UNISON Hackney.  Front-line cut, £100k new senior managers.  £700k savings in redundancy not counted off libraries budget. Poor security, poor self-service, “botched” supplier selection of books meaning duplicate and even second-hand stock, quarter of computers not working, Hackney Unison Branch Secretary, Matthew Waterfall said ‘“There will be hardly enough staff to keep the doors open, this is a slow death sentence for the library service.”
North Yorkshire – Volunteers sought to help save library – Yorkshire Post. Hunmanby: “No one in the local area wants the library to close, but we need to show that there is enough support to keep it open. The friends group is looking to explore all options, and the meeting will be an opportunity to hear people’s ideas about what should be done.”

“The Steering Group that was formed to establish the Friends of Benson Library is very pleased to announce that the official launch will take place on 23 June 2011 at 7:00pm. You are very welcome to attend. We will take you through the detail of what we have been doing and what lies ahead. Make no mistake, the services that Benson Library offers are not safe, secure or in any way protected. We need your support to secure the best possible result.Oxfordshire – Friends of Benson Library Official LaunchFriends of Benson Library.

Rotherham – Defend Rotherham Central Library – Rotherham Against the Cuts.  Library to move to ground floor of new Civic Building, co-locating with customer service centre.
Southwark – Public consultation – Southwark Council. “Make suggestions about how savings could be achieved”.