The hashtag #whywedontneedlibraries tag has started in the USA today in an amusingly saracastic bid to highlight the need for public libraries. Most of it has an American flavo(u)r but almost all of it applies equally well in the UK. Here are my favourites from the past hour:
  • I believe everything Fox News tells me 
  • Because kids with nowhere to go should be hanging around on the corner, not reading and learning stuff like real kids
  • Because we can take comfort in the certainty that if it’s not on Google, it doesn’t exist and/or never happened.
  • Parents always know exactly what their children should be reading
  • Whenever people want to know something, they automatically know where to start and what to look for
  • Everyone can access the internet any time they want, everyone can afford all the books they will ever want
  • Because taxpayers aren’t entitled to anything they can actually use
  • Because if you want to read a magazine or scholarly journal you should be forced to subscribe
  • Everyone has someone in their lives who will doggedly hunt down information for them.
  • Because boring summers without free books, prizes and activities for kids and teens are awesome
  • Because only rich people deserve to read books
  • Because there are so many places in the world labelled “quiet study area”
  • Because kids who see people enjoying books and reading will get the idea that’s okay and not watch enough tv
  • Parents know how and where to find books in braille
  • Teachers are the only educators the world needs
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, complete list below. Librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries under threat (inc. 20% of English libraries).
    Communities stand behind librarians facing layoffsHuffington Post (USA).  Overview of school libraries campaign in USA. “As reports of librarian layoffs continue to surface, librarians have put away their inside voices to fight — with the support from unions, parents, and students — to prove their jobs are essential for student success.”
    On the polarising of debateUndaimonia.  The other side aren’t monsters, despite the media thinking we should see them as such.
    Public services are not pub libraries – Politics of Drinking (Phil Mellows).  “The success of a good community pub relies on the health of the community around it, and in a modern society that relies on a fully-functioning professional state, not a haphazard patchwork of volunteers, however good a job they might be doing and however imperfect the state’s effort might be. Pubs should be joining the campaigns to defend our public services. Not trying to substitute for them.”
    Reading made easy , why Just Books libraries work – Forbes India.   Privately run (30-branch) library chain in India transforms lives through technology.

    Winner of the “Why I need my High School Library” 2011 Contest

    Changes to library services
    West Sussex – Review of smaller libraries looking into possibility of volunteers or parish council involvement. 
    Local News
    Ealing – Campaign stops library closures – Socialist Worker.   “The lobby of the full council meeting last night (Tuesday) was an impressive display of opposition, and was boosted by the attendance of national libraries campaigner and children’s author Alan Gibbons… “Whilst welcoming the withdrawal of outright closure we will now campaign to hold on to quality staff. A volunteer-based system is unworkable and will produce unreliability and eventual deterioration in the service.”.
    Ealing – Public pressure saves Ealing’s library from the axe – Ealing Gazette.  Also People Power saves libraries – Ealing Today. “We wait to see the council’s proposals in detail and, in particular, the role that volunteers will be expected to play in the running of libraries in the future, but for now I would like to pay tribute to the fantastic efforts of library campaigners around Ealing to collect thousands of signatures over the last few months which has tonight forced the council into a u-turn over their plans to close these four libraries.”  
    Falkirk – Trust set to take over council services – BBC.  Cultural and leisure services, including libraries, will be hived off.  £1m saving by avoiding rates and VAT.
    Gloucestershire – GCC library consultation feedback obtained through FOI – FoGL. Piles of feedback from the consultation, including a list of main points given.  However, “GCC has been conspicuous by their total absence and willingness to listen and respond” to points raised and information given is incomplete.
    Gloucestershire – First library closureThis is Gloucestershire.   Mobile library serving elderly people’s homes taken off road due to mechanical failure weeks before it was schedule to be cut.
    Libraries could be merged with job clubs, sponsored, cafe, (and apparently) charged for use.
    Southwark – New Canada Water Library due late 2011 – Southwark Council.   Impressive new library planned. Management of space and hiring rooms will be privately contracted
    Suffolk – Libraries: Campaigners anger at budget cuts – BBC.   Council wants libraries to be run by a community interest company. “It’s a step forward, but my question is still why don’t they keep that service run by the county council because it doesn’t really seem a lot different?”
    Suffolk – Consultation “The only thing that was clear was the lack of clarity” – Janes Hargrave’s Blog.  “The idea that libraries could be run at zero cost by big society fairies seems to have been completely abandoned.” “I think the Scrutiny Committee did its best within its terms of reference but many campaigners left frustrated and confused as yet again policy seemed to be being made on the hoof. As we left I heard an opposition member of the Committee say “they are making it up as they go along” and this still does seem to be the case.”
    Warwickshire – Thousands give views on library closures – Coventry Telegraph. “More than 4,500 people have taken part in consultation on a controversial plan to close a number of Warwickshire libraries and reduce the opening hours of many more. The 12-week consultation period by Warwickshire County Council included 26 well-attended public meetings and 39 roadshows, following a public outcry at the budget-cutting proposals.”
    West Sussex – Call to use libraries and not become “Argos families” – County Times.  “Encouraging and helping communities to play an active role in their local library will prevent the spread of ‘Argos families’ – families where the only book in the home is the Argos catalogue.” Compare with “Best Day of my life” as girl is given her first (50) books by Argos – London Evening Standard