The court proceedings from Brent have now finished with the judge announcing the verdict shortly.  The fundraiser by Philip Pullman was highly successful, as were the court proceedings in Somerset which mean library closures there cannot go ahead until at least September.  Less successful was the campaign in Dorset which almost succeeded in persuading the council to keep funding all its libraries – in the event, the council decided by 21 votes to 20 to go ahead with threatening nine.  It’s unlikely that such a determined bunch as Ad Lib will leave it there.
It’s interesting to see the impact that the legal action over Brent libraries has had already.  Campaigners in Wigan have announced they are considering legal action and the possibility has also been raised in Warwickshire for the first time.  Interestingly, though, it was left up to the defence in the Brent case to point out the Elephant in the Room – that it should be the Government doing all of this. 
408 libraries (332 buildings and 76 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).  The Public Libraries News figure is obtained from counting up all reports about public libraries in the media each day.


  • About library closures – Harkaway.  I understand the tension – fund libraries or fund other council services – but the impetus seems to be, everywhere, to close the libraries rather than allowing people to take up the slack. Maybe this is an entrenched objection to David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’; maybe it’s simply a kind of weird bureaucratic need to move forward and cut loose the dead wood. I have no idea. But what I do think is that it’s wrong. If people are looking for creative ways to fund libraries while we endure the bite of the financial crisis, let them do it. Let it happen.”
  • Baffled at a bookcase: Alan Bennett returns to the libraryLondon Review of Books.  Alan Bennett describes the libraries he has used in his life in a lengthy article.  “The business of closing libraries isn’t a straightforward political fight. The local authorities shelter behind the demands of central government which in its turn pretends that local councils have a choice. It’s shaming that, regardless of the party’s proud tradition of popular education, Labour municipalities are not making more of a stand. For the Tories privatising the libraries has been on the agenda for far longer than they would currently like to admit.”
  • UNISON repsonse to Lewisham campaigners – Alan Gibbons.   ” I would like to reaffirm UNISON’s position on libraries – we believe they are an invaluable resource for communities which should be publicly provided, properly funded and staffed, and freely available to all. Like you and many others, UNISON has real concerns about the risks of handing over of libraries to social enterprises and private companies, the impact this has on service quality, staffing and ultimately, the local community. This is the time for us to stand together, to defend all that we value and hold dear and target our attacks on those that are making the cuts.”
  • Visibility, value and volunteers – CILIP.   Controversial post by policy officer Jill Howard appearing to suggest that the professional body for librarians believes that volunteer-run libraries should be allowed as statutory as long as the service itself is “professionally led”.  Comments include phrases “shameful”, “utterly dismayed”, “I feel so let down”, “utterly demoralised”.
  • Would privatizing Toronto’s libraries really save money?Toronto News.  Thorough analysis of the pros and cons of giving public libraries contract to LSSI.  “Lower salaries, paraprofessionals instead of librarians with master’s degrees, reduced benefits and a heavy reliance on volunteers for work and for fundraising is the consensus in a series of community reports.” 10,000 names on petition against privatisation so far.


Local News

  • Bradford – Addingham and Wilsden villagers step up in bid for librariesTelegraph & Argus. During public meetings held in Wilsden and Addingham, campaigners rallied round to take over the running of the under-threat facilities. In Wilsden, campaigners now have until the end of September to finalise arrangements before the village hall is hired out to another group.” 
  • Brent – Libraries judicial review day two – BookSeller. Defending lawyer says Council decided on closing libraries after a full and proper consultation and decisionmaking process.  Also…”Any question about whether the library service provided by Brent council was “comprehensive and efficient” as the Act requires was in fact a question for the secretary of state and the complaint should be made to him rather than to the court, Laing said. “In order to establish a breach of duty a wide-ranging inquiry is needed, one which the secretary of state is better equipped to conduct and call,” she told the court.”

  • Brent – Philip Pullman speaks out to save Brent’s libraries at packed-out event – Save Kensal Rise Library.   “Thank you to all our friends and supporters who attended this evening’s fundraiser. It was a brilliant evening. Great to hear about what made Phillip write and to have him acknowledge the importance of libraries. Also to have him read from his books and he does a great bear’s voice. I loved his encouragement to to make reading an enjoyable experience for children, starting with nursery rhymes. Telling or reading stories, what could be more simple? His celebration of the joy of both was very moving.”
  • Camden – Scrutiny committee greenlights decision for Camden libraries futureCamden Council. Agreed withdrawal of paid staff from Belsize, Chalk Farm and Heath and other cuts.  ““These decisions have been extremely difficult and we are keen to work with organisations to develop creative proposals and protect the library service in the face of central government cuts.”
  • Coventry – £1m library opens in AllesleyCoventry Telegraph.   “Coun Lynnette Kelly, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for education and libraries, said: “With the current economic climate councils across the country are having to either close libraries or reduce their opening hours.Here in Coventry we have pledged not to reduce opening hours in our libraries and here the local community will be able to enjoy a new facility.”
  • Croydon – Listening and responding, Croydon styleThat Woman’s Blog. Critique of councils’ claims ot be bearing in mind the views of the public.  “By refusing to provide a breakdown of the 412 responses claimed to have informed the decision of residents wishes, it is very unclear how many well intentioned responses of adding a cafe or other money generating venture, suggestions of sponsorship, advertising and so forth have been put in the ‘you told us what we wanted to hear’ pot of outsourcing to other organisations. What does seem clear is that the council are not listening but ploughing ahead with their own agenda again. “.  See also But why That Woman? – Shirley Life, p.45 for more background.
  • Devon – Library hours cut as council saves cashThis is Devon.  “A county council spokesman said the precise opening hours of each library would be subject to a staff consultation.”
  • Dorset – Bad news from DorsetAlan Gibbons.   “After a tense debate at County Hall, Dorchester, Dorset’s councillors voted by just one vote to cut off the funding for nine of their smaller and more isolated libraries. The vote was 21 for dumping the libraries to 20 for keeping them.”.  See also Nine libraries in Dorset have funding withdrawn – BBC.   Author Santa Montefiore backs Dorset libraries campaign – Dorset Echo.  “She wrote: “It’s appalling that such a large number of libraries are under threat of closure, not only because it will rob locals of their access to books, but that it will also rob the community of a tranquil place to study, read and attend events that bring people together in an increasingly isolating world. Times are hard, I think it’s a human right that people should be given the means to escape the dreariness by reading the wonderful books available in libraries.”.  Also – Decision day on future of village library – Salisbury Journal.   “More than 2,000 people have signed a petition urging councillors to remove the library, in Station Road, from the list of ten community libraries which could be shut next year.”
  • Lambeth – Unions to strike tomorrow over cuts to library services in LambethLocal Guardian. “Union workers will go on strike at Lambeth’s libraries tomorrow over cuts to the service despite the council’s insistence it is considering “radical new models” to save money. Members of Lambeth Unison will form a picket line outside Brixton Library from 8am to protest against the cuts.” Strike is off – Tweets from #SaveLamthLibs / Save Lambeth Libraries say “management have agreed to no compulsory redundancies”  and “We could not have run without Unison, we urge all library staff facing redundanices and cuts to join”.
  • North Yorkshire – Great Ayton library may be run by volunteers – Gazette Lives.   Campaigners “have urged people to come up with a new plan to save their library – or lose it. At a meeting last night, Great Ayton residents were told they needed their own solution if they wanted to save the service in the town. They were warned they may need to pay and run the library themselves.”
  • Norfolk – Library opening hours to be cutNorwich Evening News.   ““This hasn’t been an easy time for staff or the people who love their local library, and I’m afraid the outcomes won’t please everyone but we have worked hard to make this process fair.”
  • Sandwell – Plan to replace Sandwell librarians with volunteersHalesowen News.   Council to cut staff but “the running of the libraries cannot be handed “wholesale” to volunteers and that they will have to be trained, managed and supported if the move is to be successful.”
  • Somerset – Good news from SomersetAlan Gibbons.   “A judge is has postponed library closures in Somerset by upholding an interim injunction put forward by campaigners. The next stage of the legal battle is on September 27th.” See also Injunction granted to postpone library cuts in SomersetCampaigner John Irven from Watchet said: “We’re really pleased. We’ve worked very, very hard and we’ve had tremendous support from all the different library groups around Somerset and various other people.”
  • Somerset – Union’s protest urges Somerset County Council to resume talksThis is Somerset.  Staff working to rule over “slashed redundancy packages”.  Unison has “asked for reassurances that volunteers being called in to help at some libraries would not be doing work properly carried out by professional library staff.”
  • Wakefield – Half of Wakefield libraries at risk – Yorkshire Evening Post.  ““We have already spent a lot of time talking to people about libraries and what they want and it is clear that the service we currently provide is not what people want. We know that people are not satisfied with the quality of some library buildings, or with the quality and range of the books. And since 1992 more than four out of every 10 library users have stopped going into libraries.” 
  • Warwickshire – Should someone in Warwickshire launch a legal challenge to save 16 libraries? – What’s in Kenilworth.   “Let me make it very clear, I am taking nothing away from the dedicated and hard work that every Community Group is putting in to save their local library. My point is simply that they should not have to.”
  • Wigan – Action group set up Atherton fightThis is Lancashire.  “Campaigners are preparing to get a court injunction to prevent the closure of Atherton Library… Already 4,000 people have signed a petition to keep the library open and the group has handed-out free T shirts bearing the legend Save Atherton Library and Our Community which were gifted to the group by an anonymous benefactor.”