An analysis from a Local Government officer today points out that:

Ideally, a 40% cut in the libraries service (if necessary) and the development of new models would be done over a 3-5 year period with maximum engagement and involvement of local groups and service users.

Leaving aside the possibility of a 40% cut in libraries ever being in any way necessary, one can tell from the report that is from someone who is deeply sympathetic to the problems within local councils (in this case Gloucestershire) but still has to criticise what is happening.  Library users are lucky at the moment if they are getting a 3-5 month fully open engagenment/involvement to decide what has happening.  This, at a time, when yesterday we learnt that three-quarters of children use libraries and today we learnt that one in six has not read a book in a month, directly leading to lower attainment.  
Councils up and down the country are having to make decisions too fast, too hard and with far too much long-term impact.
415 libraries (333 buildings and 82 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.


“That, however, was before New Labour went to work on it and decided that books were old hat and that what mattered were computer terminals. Books were not only old-fashioned and complicated to manage but smacked of elitism. So the book sections were downsized and the vacated space filled up with computers. This policy overlooked the fact that all over the developing world, internet cafés are as common as grocery stores. Lending libraries, on the other hand, especially ones with English books in them, are as rare as unicorns.” Peter Popham: A sad case of the wrong address – Independent.   

  • Reads and the Read-Nots – National Literacy Trust.  New National Literacy Trust research of 18,141 children reveals a polarised nation of young readers with 1 in 6 reporting that they don’t read a single book in a month, while 1 in 10 say they read more than 10 books in a month. This divide between the “reads” and the “read-nots” is concerning because the research shows reading frequency has a direct link to attainment, as 8 in 10 children who read over 10 books a month are above average readers compared to just 3 in 10 of those who rarely read.”
  • Slaughter writes digital-only story to benefit libraries – BookSeller.  “Slaughter said: “Librarians have always stood up for writers and readers in every kind of community across this country. The demand for their programs and services is increasing while their budgets are decreasing. It’s time that we stood up for them.”



Local News

  • Croydon – Referendum: the future of Croydon libraries –  “Croydon’s Conservative Council have rejected community calls backed by Labour Councillors, to hold an Independent Library review for Croydon to see how our local Libraries can remain locally owned and accountable to local people, instead they have decided to ‘market test’ Croydon’s Library service ahead of a possible privatisation. We want to know what the people of Croydon think so please take a minute and vote in our referendum.”
  • Devon – French trip inspired Sparkwell’s  new community library – BBC.  “Sparkwell library will be staffed by volunteers and run from the village’s old school building. It is the fourth community library to open in south Devon and will be supported by the county council.”
    • New Sparkwell LibraryITV WestCountry Tonight. “A village in South Devon was devastated when it lost its local school. Now its residents have got together and opened their own library using part of the old school buildings.”
  • Durham – Sunday closure for Durham Clayport Library – BBC.   “Maria Plews, Durham County Council’s cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “The average number of people using Clayport Library each Sunday has fallen by more than 70% during the last three years. At a time when we have to make significant savings as a result of the Government grant reductions it is simply not sustainable or sensible for Sunday opening to continue.”
  • Edinburgh – Hundreds gather in Sighthill to try to smash world record – STV.   “218 children and adults gathered at Sighthill Library in Gate 55 hoping to smash the current record of 290 readers, set in 2010 in Vienna, Austria.  Under the watchful eye of Guinness World Record adjudicator Claire Burgess, each read one sentence from award-winning Scottish author Theresa Breslin’s book Prisoner in Alcatraz.”… UK record reached … “It was amazing to see all the age range of participants. It was great to see the buggies arriving, then grannies and then young people. A good one for the libraries.”

“In the whole it demonstrates the difficulty local authorities are having in making these cuts so quickly. Ideally, a 40% cut in the libraries service (if necessary) and the development of new models would be done over a 3-5 year period with maximum engagement and involvement of local groups and service users. Proposals would be phased in and models tested. Money would be available during this time to ensure some form of continuity. None of this has happened and it seems the model has been decided by officers and then presented to the public.” Gloucestershire – Libraries, raised tempers and Gloucestershire County Council  – We Love Local Government. 

  • Oxfordshire – Villagers invited to discuss future of library – Henley Standard.   “This means volunteers would be needed to maintain the current opening hours but the libraries would be given free use of their buildings, access to the council’s book stock and computer network and professional support from librarians.  So far, the council has received more than 1,000 responses to the consultation, which began at the beginning of June after being delayed four times.”
    • Community libraries “can work”Henley Standard.   “David Silvester said that Buckinghamshire County Council saved 20 per cent of the costs of its library service by handing over 14 of its 23 libraries to communities to run. Oxfordshire County Council is proposing to withdraw two-thirds of staff funding from 16 libraries, including those in Sonning Common, Benson, Woodcote, Watlington and Goring.”
  • Suffolk – Town pushing ahead with library pilot bid – EADT.   “All I can say at the moment is that we did meet with council officers on Thursday and the process for discussing the start-up of the Aldeburgh pilot next April has begun but there’s lots more detailed discussion to be had.”
  • Wigan – Plan for libraries go ahead Wigan Today.   “The council and its partners in Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, who manage the library service, need to find £1.1m in savings from the library budget following government cuts…” Cuts to library service pushed through council “..Despite 40 or so people protesting at the meeting, councillors said they thought the plans were the right thing to do.”