419 libraries (339 buildings and 80 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. 


“Why did they illustrate this turgid and depessing document with pictures of libraries? I guess taking photos of a few books in the corner of a health centre might actually give the game away!” (Comment on Voices for the Library Facebook group on MLA report).

  • Campaigners critical over Government library blueprintBookSeller.  “…librarian group Voices for the Library have strongly criticised the report’s recommendations, saying they will do “serious damage to our public library network, and be counterproductive to efforts to modernise libraries and meet the needs of the UK public”. Libraries campaigner Desmond Clarke said it was “absolutely disgraceful” the report was “coming up with excuses to replace paid librarians with volunteers”, and that overall the report was “remarkably unimaginative.”
  • Life in Books: Janice GallowayGuardian. “she records libraries as the sole bright spot of her university career: “I hid in the library more often than not, reading the starts of books to find which ones spoke back, developing a trust in the friendship of the well-ordered word I’ve never lost.”

  • Opinion: Public interest needs protection in deals to privatise libraries – Mercury News (USA).  Privatising Santa Clarita libraries has cost taxpayer $12 million so far.  Other examples include lower opening hours, less qualified staff.  “Elsewhere in the nation, the Linden, N.J., library terminated its contract with LSSI after determining the town could offer the same level of services for $300,000 less. Fargo, N.D., also terminated LSSI’s contract after the company repeatedly requested budget increases and failed to pay bills on time.” .
  • Potent mix of cuts, unemployment could fuel more UK riotsReuters.  “Britain has embarked on an unprecedented level of spending cuts in an effort to drive down its budget deficit, with local councils slashing a host of services from elderly care to libraries.”
  • Tintin and the value of libraries JS Online (USA).  “Libraries, like every other entity in the media and publishing worlds, are moving resources to the digital realm, and that’s how it must be. But never underestimate the value of a child being able to sit in a room and browse freely through as many books as she wants and take a few home to read anywhere. That will always be valuable, and I hope that libraries will always be able to provide that.”
 Shirley Burnham on chief librarians
…chief librarians are, indeed, advising councils that small community libraries should be closed, divested or otherwise wrecked. This is NOT a new thing, by the way. And they are still doing it ! Now, that’s not the whole profession, but it’s those at the top of it. Do hard-working library assistants and librarians agree with it ? No, they most likely don’t, but are gagged. I wish that even one individual in the SCL (The Society of Chief Librarians) who disapproves would speak up, that CILIP (The librarians’ professional body) would publicly condemn it,” a comment on The Good Library Blog.

Notably, ours in Swindon in 2009 published a report recommending closure of 9 small libraries.   Dorset campaigners are now facing the exact same thing, as are many others.  I was on a ‘panel’ at an SCL conference once  —  never seen such a bunch of po-faced people.  As friendly as vinegar !  They loved Vaizey, though with his Future Libraries [expletive deleted]. That lot, speak out ?  Before hell freezes over ?  I think not.   But at least one of them ought to  —  and without delay.” in personal email, published with permission.

  • Women’s Institute “disappointed” by library reportBookSeller.  ““The minister discusses balancing the changing needs of communities with budget pressures, yet beneath the promising rhetoric on innovation and creativity, this report paints a picture of a service under threat. Replacing trained staff with volunteers is a false economy,” Bond warned. “Volunteers have an important role to play but they are not a replacement for a professional service and we would welcome more detail on the evidence to support the claim that ‘local people want to play a more active role in running libraries’,” she said.

Local News

  • Bolton – Argument to close libraries is flawed say campaignersBolton News.  ““Several of the objective criteria which the council said last February it would be using to make the decision, such as GCSE qualifications of local residents, were left out of the table altogether. Others, including the number of libraries within a 20 minute journey time, were given double weighting without any reasoned justification. “It leaves the council open to the accusation that the figures were rigged to obtain a preordained result.”
  • Oxfordshire – 1000 people respond to library cuts in two monthsHenley Standard.  Campaigners push for public to respond to consultation, using chance to put comments in (not just ticking boxes). ““Sonning Common library has not been saved. Although the council has promised to keep the library open, it is proposing to cut our professional staff hours from 25 a week to eight and substitute professional staff with volunteers.” Councillor says “we have got the core service saved and that is the main thing”.
  • Tameside – Carrbrook library founder says it is “community heart” –  BBC.   3500 books offered in cabin after council withdrew service in 2007.  Volunteers run it, books are donated.
  • Wakefield – Hope for library as fight continuesWakefield Express.  ““We’re now looking at sustaining a library service in the area rather than saving it. We talked about getting new organisations interested in using it as a base, like charities who might want to base outreach workers there for example. It has to have more than one use if it is to survive and if we can get some money behind us from some bigger organisations, we might even be able to build a much-needed new library eventually.”