It is not clear whether David Cameron has ever been into a public library.  It is clear that the minister responsible for libraries, Ed Vaizey, has been in many public libraries, just not enough to make him actually do anything to save them.  They both have constituencies in Oxfordshire where the council’s initial proposals to close over twenty libraries met with massive public opposition.  This has led the council, against the will of its leader whose words suggest he thinks that supporting one’s local library is a selfish act that will reduce spending on roads or social care, to tone down the proposals to one where many will stay open but become volunteer-run over a three year period.

So, the Big Society will come to David and Ed in the shape of a nearby library run by volunteers or, as one caller to Jeremy Vine called them this morning, “unpaid employees”.  I wonder if either of them have heard of the phrase “be careful what you wish for, lest it come true”?

449 libraries (380 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”)


Boris defends mayoral record at Talk London debate – Londonist. “I love libraries” said the Mayor, before ducking responsibility for library cuts across the capital: “I’ve got a situation in which councils want to make decisions on spending themselves”.
Communities, cartoons and cheese – Voices for the Library.  Wide-ranging activities taking place in libraries.
Council cutbacks hit blind readers using RNIB scheme – BookSeller.  4500 out of 26000 subscriptions expected to be cancelled by councils. 

“Public libraries have a vital role to play in supporting the ambition to secure a truly networked nation in the UK. They are not only digital hubs which provide people with access to free or low cost PCs but also have a role in supporting people to get online and explore all the benefits that being online brings.”  Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion

Overdue: a shot of the public spirit – Independent (Boyd Tonkin).  Boyd had used threatened Friern Barnet library as a child.  “with every threat to a branch, some people will experience the theft of their past – and of a part of themselves”.
Oxfordshire cuts test “big society” as librarians are replaced with volunteers – Guardian.   6 libraries in David Cameron’s constituency, 2 in Ed Vaizey’s will have paid staff replaced with volunteers. Also reported by i-volunteer.
Parents must pass on their passion for books to children – London Evening Standard.  “That books are available is a right of every child, and his or her way to access the literature of their country”, Michael Morpurgo.
Shared Service Map – Geocommons.  Shows examples of shared services across council boundaries.  Very few library examples at the moment.

“Shoot first” policy over arts funding – Independent.  Sir Andrew Motion decries cuts. On the closure of libraries … “To see this happening now when we are meant to be having a conversation about the Big Society – frankly, it almost defies belief. Whatever we decide that phrase ‘Big Society’ means, we can understand immediately how libraries would contribute to its value.  The same phrase I just used comes to mind again: Shoot first, aim later.” 
Spreading the word – Voices for the Library.  Business cards today, world domination tomorrow.

“… Any author, talking to readers in impoverished parts of the country, will meet children, invariably of exhausted, indifferent parents, for whom a library opens a door of possibility. The problem with Anthony Seldon’s argument for ebooks is that it offers the perfect excuse to those councils currently dismantling and undermining the library service while Ed Vaizey, who paraded as a friend of libraries in opposition, turns a deaf ear to protests. His colleague Michael Gove has spoken bold words about the need for children to read 50 books a year, but, for hundreds of thousands of children, his words are a hollow joke as the very source of those books is closed down.” There’s more to a book than just the text – Independent (Terence Blacker). 

Volunteers to run Oxfordshire Libraries Radio Two Vanessa Feltz Sits In for Jeremy Vine (from 33.33 to 59).  

because one borrowed book
can be better than thousands
of bought ones 
from “Why I love libraries … in 153 words or less” 
Richard Pierce, in Voices for the Library
Words of caution about the great Ebook revolution – London Evening Standard.  Sales represent a mere 6% of total booksales, with cheap/free ebooks skewing the figures.

Cuts to library services

Bromley – Withdrawing from RNIB scheme, replacing with Calibre service.
Camden – Local Studies and Archives to be cut, shared with Islington, and users encouraged to use private researcher (at £26 per hour).
Central Bedfordshire – Consultation.
Hackney –  One-quarter of library staff to lose their jobs (number down from 104 to 76). 
Suffolk – Suffolk capping users of RNIB service.
Westminster – Withdrawing from RNIB scheme, replacing with e-audio service.
Worcestershire –  Warndon and St John’s reprievedUpton under threat.

Local News
Barnet – Friern Barnet Library campaigners say consultation document is “slanted”Times series.  “So many friends and neighbours are shocked and angry to hear about the plans to close it and children from local primary schools are really upset. “Many local residents are also discussing the shamefully slanted consultation document, saying how obvious it is that the results are a foregone conclusion. People feel their views will be ignored.”
Brent – Library challenge – Alan Gibbons.   “Brent sought to characterise its proposals as a ‘transformation’ of the borough’s libraries but in reality, it has simply swung a wrecking ball through local services with little regard to the consequences for those who use them.”
Camden – Local Studies and Archives to be “outsourced”Fitzrovia News.  Service to be shared with that of Islington, users encouraged to use private researcher instead at cost of £26 per hour.
Camden – Three librariea are told to go it alone – Camden New Journal.   Three libraries may be taken out of council control, decision expected next week. ““I sent a long list out to our supporters asking if anyone would be prepared to volunteer. The response was total silence.” says one.
Central Bedfordshire – Debate future of libraries – Biggleswade Today. Peaceful protest from 1pm. “Last month when a similar peaceful protest was held at the library, Conwy County Council called the police, who decided not to take action.”
Conwy – Protesters will stage sit in at Penrhyn Bay library – North Wales Weekly News. 
Cumbria – Campaign grows to save more libraries – Times & Star.  Local school planning a rally in half-term to protest closure of Distington Library. [Link not working properly when tested]
Cumbria – Hundreds speak out over Cumbria librariesWestmorland Gazette.  People unimpressed by moves to close 18 libraries and to put some books for lending in local shops. 
Dorset – Charmouth: library land mystery help is needed – News series. Library may have been donated with use thus restricted if council closes it.
Edinburgh – Libraries to promote services at the pubSTV.  Staff to explain library services in pub on Saturday “”Libraries offer a vital service to the community so we’re delighted to get involved” says landlord.

“you have outsourced to the people of Gloucestershire your responsibilities to superintend the delivery of statutory library services” Gloucestershire – Library campaigners invoice DCMS – BookSeller.  £30,000 invoice to be sent to DCMS to cover FoGL legal costs. “the people of Gloucestershire are being asked to pay for both the legal fees to challenge the plans AND the legal fees to defend the plans”.

Gloucestershire – Complaint: Misleading claims from GCC about consideration of deprivation in library strategyFoGL.  Councillor in charge of libraries, Antonia Noble, is alleged to have not used deprivation as a criterion despite claims to the contrary.
Hackney – Jobs cuts spell “slow death” for Hackney’s libraries – Hackney Gazette.  UNISON unanimous vote of no-confidence in head of libraries.  ““There will be hardly enough staff to keep the doors open. This is a slow death sentence for the library service.”
Hertfordshire – Borehamwood Library “read-in” to highlight council cuts held todayTimes series. Demonstration to encourage council to reverse 40% cut in opening hours when finances are better.
Isle of Wight – New chapter as library battle goes to government – IWCP.   “Campaigners are still hoping to challenge the council’s decision to reduce opening hours at many public libraries and transfer others to community groups, despite being told by the Legal Services Commission their case had no realistic chance of success”

North Yorkshire – Library cutbacks ease after review – Yorkshire Post.  Also covered by BBC. Several other articles cover the same thing from different angles – Tadcaster library’s future assured – Wetherby News; Would you step up as a library volunteer?Scarborough Evening News. ““I would accept a percentage cut across the board but not this and expecting people to go to Scarborough Library is just marginalising them.”; County Council to retain Ingleton and Bentham libraries – Craven Herald & Pioneer; MP welcomes revised plans for future of libraries Westmorland Gazette.
Somerset – People asked to help fund Somerset’s libraries legal challenge – This is the Westcountry.  £5,000 needed.

“By threatening things like libraries, we made people consider what they really value. We caught the public’s imagination and motivated them to come out and protest. It’s very exciting.” Jane Storey, interim council leader, Suffolk. [editor’s note – this does not appear to be a joke]

Suffolk – Outsourcing plans shelved at “trailblazing” council –  BBC. 
Warwickshire – Final days for library cuts views – Coventry Telegraph.  
Worcestershire – City libraries safe from closure – Worcester Standard. 
Worcestershire – Library under threat – Shuttle.