Archive for September, 2011

£250m goes to waste


So now we know.  The Government had the money to save libraries all along.  £250m would have sorted out all of the problems detailed in this blog.  The whole national public library service costs around a billion.  However, faced with the problem of declining literacy and lack of international competitiveness, Eric Pickles has decided to give the money to weekly bin collections instead, something that it is known we can live without (I have not had one for four years) and will only make worse the problem or recycling.  That should please the conference.  This is conclusive proof that when it comes to the disaster facing libraries, Government claims that its hands are tied and that there is no money is quite literally … rubbish. 

There’s a “Eric Pickles! Save our libraries, not our bins!” webpage at Digital Democracy by the way.

In other news, North East Lincolnshire makes the interesting step of deciding to transfer leisure and libraries into a Trust by 2013.  Interesting for two reasons – (1) its leisure centres had previously been on a (presumably failed) private sector contract (another one in the eye for those who think privatising public services is an unquestionably good thing) and (2) the council appears not to have noticed that the main selling point of Trusts – savings on tax – will probably not be there by 2013

428 libraries (342 buildings and 86 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.


  • £250m weekly bin collections fund is what people want, says Pickles – Guardian. “Unveiling the move ahead of the Tory party conference in Manchester, Pickles said: “Weekly rubbish collections are the most visible of all frontline services, and I believe every household in England has a basic right to have their rubbish collected every week.” … “It’s a basic right for every English man and woman to be able to put the remnants of their chicken tikka masala in their bin without having to wait a fortnight for it to be collected.” 
  • Delay in ruling over library closures – BookSeller. “No indication was given by Mr Justice McKenna of when judgement would be given, but the usual time frame in judicial review cases ranges between three weeks and three months.”. Injunction against Glos and Somerset closures will continue until judgement made. Brent review likely to be the first to have result known, some time in October. 
  • Librarians checked out in “Men of the Stacks” calendar – Guardian. “Group of male library workers bids to remake dowdy image of their profession with glamorous catalogue”.. “There is an entire population of professional librarians out there who disagree with the way the library profession is perceived in contemporary media outlets and in the historical consciousness of the American mind. Different people and different associations will use different means to try to change those perceptions. This is ours.” 
  • Librarians fear over digital stalemate – BookSeller. “Librarians have warned that the year-long stalemate with the major publishers over the terms of e-book lending could damage the already beleaguered service. “. Only 20% of publishers (Penguin good, HarperCollins bad) allowing their ebooks to be loaned. Fears Amazon will take over book-lending market. Comments interesting, including the point that multitudes of free pirated copies exist online and publishers are spiting themselves by not helping libraries.

“Stephen Edwards, head of procurement for Hampshire libraries, said: “It is only a personal view, but I do fear for the future of the library service if we do not have a good digital offer.”

  • Library highlights censorship with “banned books” season Wales Online. Annie Mauger, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said: “Access to books should not be restricted on any grounds except that of the law. If publicly available material has not incurred legal penalties then it should not be excluded on moral, political, religious, racial or gender grounds, to satisfy the demands of sectional interest.”
  • Library Wall Paraxis.  52 pieces on public libraries, including the piece by Alan Gibbons below.
  • Ministers worried by lack of progress in 3 Rs – Independent.  “Results of national curriculum assessments in reading, writing, speaking and listening and mathematics showed little change this year – the fifth year in succession they have almost stagnated.” [Solution?  Less libraries, more tests.]

“Let’s say this loud and clear to cloth-eared Ministers. Reading matters. It’s books, story-tellers, poets and illustrators, liberated teachers and well-resourced librarians that will make the difference but you want to get rid of them don’t you, you myopic fools?” Alan Gibbons.

  • Responsibilities transfer – MLA.  Last day of existence for MLA today.  All library responsibilities now moved to ACE. 
  • Why do libraries matter? – Alan Gibbons.   Excellent defence of libraries, describing an ideological agenda where cuts are a “badge of honour” and paid staff are seen as an affront to the “Big Society”.  The poor UK literacy rate is compared with South Korea and Finland who have the highest literacy rates and both heavily invest into public libraries.  Computers and games make children consumers, not creators. Supporters of libraries need to be active in defending them or they will be lost.  


Northeast Lincs Libraries and Leisure Centres to be run by a single trust in 2013 after private-company contract to run leisure centres expires.
Surrey – £300k cut (previously cited as £1m).  All 5 mobiles to go on 28.10.11

Local News

  • Cardiff – Public support social roleWales Online.  Cathays: suggestions for future services include young people’s reading group, language classes. Tots group already present.
    • City libraries to become “citizen hubs” – Wales Online.  St Mellons, Llanrumney and Loudon will host council contact centres, police/health/charity surgeries in three month trial. “The libraries consultation showed 80% of respondents thought services and other information should be available in hubs, and 74% favoured incorporating library services with other public services such as police, health or charities.”  But opponent says ““Is the library the right place for people to go when they are threatened with eviction, when they are not paying their rent, when they are in dispute with the council, when they are not paying their council tax?”
  • Hampshire – Councillor Alan Dowden starts campaign to save North Baddesley library from closure Daily Echo.  Will be closed unless volunteers step forward.  ““We simply have to save this service, particularly for the older people and youngsters in the area. Parents in the current economic climate can’t always afford to go out and buy books, so this is a valuable and vital service.”.  Interesting comments.  
  • Isle of Wight – A new chapter at the library –  IWCP.  Niton: “The tiny ex-telephone exchange is about to become the Island’s first community library after the IW Council cuts the purse strings and stops running it directly.”.  Renamed Edward Edwardes Library [very aptly after library pioneer buried nearby] expected be to volunteer-run from mid October.   “Once the balloons have come down, the aim is no-one will really notice anything different.” with all services, other than paid staff, staying as before.  Council trained volunteers, preparation took longer than hoped.  Volunteers worried over staff losing their job, taking over library had only ever been “plan B”.  Cost of branch is expected to be £2500 with “An auction, jumble sales and a posh frocks gala dinner are just some of the suggestions and supporters can make financial pledges towards the upkeep of the library.”

“The experienced library staff make the whole thing look effortless, issuing books, recommending good reads, answering children’s questions, tracing books held in other branches and finding just the book a customer wants with only the flimsiest bits of information. We volunteers can only hope to eventually emulate the expertise of the experienced staff and hope library customers bear with us while we get into our stride.”

  • Leeds – Page turns as Leeds library given a bright future – Yorkshire Evening Post.   Whinmoor: combination public library and children’s centre.  “The library will act as a base for a range of activities and events for parents, children and carers, story times for young children and computer sessions for people who want to improve their skills or write CVs.”
  • North Yorkshire – “Strong chance” that libraries will stay openScarborough Evening News.  ““It would be wrong to give any guarantees at this stage, but the proposals and business plans we have received from community groups are all extremely promising, and we will do all we can to assist to turn them into reality.”.  All libraries likely to stay open as volunteers replace paid staff.  If not, branches will close in April 2012.
  • Northeast Lincolnshire – Trust to take over management of libraries and leisure centresThis is Grimsby.  Trust to take over leisure centres which had previously been locked into a private company contract.  “”Because it will be a not-for-profit organisation, there are massive financial savings to be had. The trust would also be able to apply for grant funding to improve buildings and facilities, which the council cannot.”
  • Oxfordshire – Volunteer-run library plan “impractical” – BBC. Campaigners say it is not possible to find number of volunteers needed and that cuts should be made elsewhere, perhaps in middle management.  Council will make final decision in December. 
    • For Keith and Dave – Question Everything.  Close analysis of expenses and numbers needed show over 1000 volunteers needed for plan to work.  Incredibly, cost of having volunteers is £107k more than cost of not due to training, CRB, travelling expenses etc. “Even if these projections are 50% wrong, to proceed with this is madness…. this proposal as it stands is so ill-conceived and the consultation so badly managed I doubt OCC would be up to managing a thousand volunteers without hiring dozens more staff in the corporate core. Even the logistics of providing training for all these volunteers would create such a bureaucracy that it makes me think this whole scheme was dreamt up by Sir Humphrey himself.” 
  • Surrey – Volunteer-led library scheme approved by Surrey councillors – Guardian series.  “Surrey County Council has approved plans to staff 10 libraries across Surrey with volunteers rather than trained staff, despite vocal opposition”.  Opposition decries two-tier all or nothing approach, arguing instead for limited number of volunteers in all sizes of library.

Something more important than a court case happened today


So the legal judgement in the Glos/Somerset case will be delayed for a month or two.  How frustrating.  Not as frustrating however, as the Council’s arguments, which include:
  • The volunteer-run libraries are non-statutory so it does not matter if they fail.
  • That the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act should not be enforced, due to the internet.
  • Everyone can use a bus.
Needless to say that if these arguments are sufficient to sway a judge then we must kiss goodbye to any effective statutory protection for libraries.

On any normal day, this would be the biggest story, bar none.  However, not today.  A greater danger has surfaced, more long-term perhaps, and less obvious but more serious all the same and one brought on by public librarians themselves.  Nottinghamshire libraries have decided to charge for Ebooks, the first authority in the country to do so.  There goes the principle of books free at the point of use, in one fell stroke.  It was perhaps inevitable being the DCMS decided that it was not illegal to charge for ebook lending eighteen months ago.  Someone in these straitened times would have done it but it will forever be the shame of Nottinghamshire that they were first.  Why is this so important? I’ll keep the point simple. Public libraries are not public libraries if they charge for books.  They’re bookshops.  Cheap bookshops to be sure but bookshops nonetheless.  If Ebooks do come to dominate the market (and the verdict, like in the above court case, may be much delayed) then this move will spell the effective end of public libraries in the UK.
Moving aside from the incredible danger inherent in this move, an article on the new Kindle ebooks points out that they will be plastered in advertising.  So, today we have learnt that we are potentially moving from a world of free library books to one which we need to both pay for the “library” ebook and then be bombarded with ads on every page. I’m still angry with the defending counsel in the court case today though.
428 libraries (342 buildings and 86 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.


  • Amazon’s Kindle price punkingMike Cane’s xBlog.  Cheapest kindles come with compulsory advertising, it costs $30 more to buy one without ads.  “If Amazon is giving you a $30 break like that, how much more are they making over that $30? You’re no longer a reader. You’re a product they’re selling to others!”
  • Are libraries being saved? – Infoism – “What has effectively happened is that council’s have ‘offered’ libraries to the local community to run. This is not a sustainable (let alone effective) solution. As has recently been reported, the number of people volunteering has declined in the past year.”.  Worries that volunteer-run libraries are not sustainable or comparable to council-run branches. “Yes, they may be saved from closure for now, but saved in a way that will only postpone the inevitable. The battle is far from over, it has only just begun.”
  • Campaigners halt NHS service transfer to social enterprise – Civil Society.   Glos NHS Trust may face legal action to stop it transferring staff to a community interest company.  Campaigners protest that no competitive tendering had taken place.
  • Key library service judicial reviews under way – Voices for the Library. “Even though there are differences in the challenges raised, the common ground is that claimants and campaigners all want to ensure that legal duties to provide a library service aren’t ignored; and that they want their local council’s to listen to the opinions of local residents and communities… The people they represent… The users of the library services they are destroying.”
    • Library cutbacks law suit commences in High Court – This is Somerset.  “Injunctions obtained by Public Interest Lawyers, a company specialising in matters of constitutional significance affecting large numbers of people, have prevented the councils from going ahead with their plans. The injunctions say the councils have breached their legal obligations by failing to adhere to the statutory requirements of the Libraries and Museums Act, not consulting residents properly and not taking their views into consideration.”  … “”Whatever the ‘Big Society’ is, it should not be a fig leaf for excessive and ill-conceived cuts or the surrendering of cherished public services.”
    • Day three of court hearingFoGL.   The defence “argued that the library network which will remain in place was adequate to comply with the 1964 Act, and as the proposed community libraries did not form part of this statutory provision it didn’t really matter if they failed”, questioned if the Act was still relevant and that everyone can use a bus. Judgement delayed for a month or two. 
  • Let the battle of ideas commence – Independent.   “Voters who notice the closure of libraries or Sure Start centres recognise the benefits of an active state and see no equivalent institution’s appearing in Cameron’s Big Society.”
  • Thousands of seven-year-olds struggle with homework – Guardian.   “The new statistics reveal that after three years of schooling many children can read only the easiest words, such as “cat” or “dog”, and do the very simplest sums.”.  Poorer kids get poorer results.
  • Visitors soar as borough invests £4m in libraries – London Evening Standard.  Hillingdon sees 50% increase in visitors, including a doubling of members at one upgraded branch.  Councillor says “”Almost on a daily basis there are reports of library closures but we’re showing there is another way. Hillingdon has taken radical and innovative steps to keep costs down while increasing what’s on offer. These figures demonstrate just how important people think our libraries are.”.  A cafe in one library has made £30,000 profit which then goes back to the service. Southwark Council described stunning new £14m library at Canada Water, due to open in November. 


Hampshire£492 k cut (on top of £2.5m already cut since 2009) – Proposed 7.5% cut to opening hours.  2 libraries – Stanmore and North Baddesley – under threat.  Council has put £48m into its reserves.
North Yorkshire – All 8 under threat will be run by volunteers, with books and training supplied by council.   Cuts in paid staff in all libraries, cuts in opening hours unless volunteers step in.  Small town libraries will see cuts in hours of up to 30%
Nottinghamshire – £1 charge for each e-book

Local News

  • Bolton – Airport windfall gives council £725k to spend – Bolton News.  “Bolton Council has received a £1 million windfall from Manchester Airport — £725,000 more than it was expecting.”.  Council says too early to confirm what it will use money for but “local Tory chief John Walsh said the money could be used to save the town’s five underthreat libraries.”.  It would cost £400k to keep open the five threatened libraries.
  • Calderdale – Come clean over the library, urges Linda – Halifax Courier.  MP Linda Riordan says ““Calderdale Council must be clearer – it owes it to the 16,000-plus people who signed a petition two years ago calling for the buildings to stay put.” Fears that Primark want to bulldoze Halifax library site.
    • Get rid of “non-jobs” to keep our librariesHalifax Courier.    “In the context of the Council’s entire budget £150,000 is a relatively small amount and, where there is a will, a way could be found to make short term savings and protect the libraries budget until this review of future provision has been undertaken. The Taxpayers Alliance revealed this week that the Council employs a Regional Reputation Manager within a Marketing & Communications Team that will cost £216,800 next year. Perhaps removing non-jobs like this would be an easy way to start.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Emerging library vision agreed – Cambridgeshire Council.  “Members agreed that plans for a Charitable Trust should no longer go forward due to recent changes in Government guidance in how councils could now benefit from national Non Domestic Rates.”.  Reliance instead on sharing buildings (post office, doctors, etc) with other services and using volunteers.  “Borrowing ideas from the commercial sector the council will also look at different sized libraries to suit community needs.”
  • Essex – Library idea has a certain ring to it – Saffron Walden Weekly News.  Yet another library in a phonebox article.
  • Fife – Library and museum to get refurb, 86 years on – Fife Today.  Kirkcaldy Library.  New cafe.
  • Hampshire – Library cuts “devastating” say UNISON Alan Gibbons.  “Hampshire UNISON have slammed County Council proposals to make further cuts to Hampshire’s Libraries as a public consultation on reduced opening hours and possible closures begins this week. It is proposed that opening hours across the county are cut by a massive 7.5%. Around a third of Hampshire’s 53 libraries are likely to see a full morning or afternoon closure imposed if the cuts go ahead. Stanmore and North Baddesley libraries have been slated for closure unless volunteers come forward to maintain services.”
  • North Yorkshire – To keep all its librariesNorthern Echo.   “All eight libraries which were set to be shelved in North Yorkshire following Government cutbacks are likely to be kept open by volunteers. North Yorkshire County Council said it has received proposals and business plans from community groups, including a number of promising ideas from residents in Great Ayton and Masham.” 
    • Community libraries may not now close – Harrogate News.   “It would be wrong to give any guarantees at this stage, but the proposals and business plans we have received from community groups are all extremely promising, and we will do all we can to assist to turn them into reality.”.  Andrew Jones MP says “Community libraries are not just about books but offer a wide range of other services such as after school clubs and mother and toddler groups which would be a great loss to local people. It is important that, alongside book lending, these other services are preserved wherever possible and I will be pressing the County Council to ensure that these are included in any package that comes forward.”
    • Public support lends libraries a lifeline – Yorkshire Post. “Every library in North Yorkshire is set to be spared the axe following a huge groundswell of public support.” 
  • Oxfordshire – Opponents remain unconvinced over libraries shake-up – This is Oxfordshire.   “The author [Philip Pullman] whose impassioned plea to save libraries sparked the public outcry in Oxfordshire has warned that volunteers cannot replace professionals.”.  Said volunteer-run libraries are “a sort of solution”.  … ““You cannot go on relying on volunteers to do professional work. There seems to be a rather disparaging view of librarians that all they do is tidy the shelves and stamp the books. It is far more than that, it requires pretty stringent professional training.”.  Watlington campaigners say branch would need 70 volunteers to stay open.
  • Nottinghamshire – Notts libraries to charge for e-book loans – BookSeller.   £1 per book loan via PayPal.  SCL defends move.  “It is 18 months since the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that it would not be illegal for libraries to charge for e-books under the current law. At the time Martin Palmer, principal officer for libraries, at Essex, warned it contradicted the ethos of public libraries to charge for books. He said: “It’s basically reading and we don’t charge for reading. I don’t see why e-books should be any different to print books.”
  • Portsmouth – Reference book cash to be cut in Portsmouth library shake-up – News.   Reference bookfund cut from £50k to £30k.  Saved money will go on fiction books.  “It says the move is being made partly because of a change in the way people search for information – often by using the internet.” but “But what about people who don’t have the internet at home, so aren’t familiar with it to use it at libraries?”.  Cuts in large print, talking books, DVDs and magazines too – with money being moved over to adult and children’s fiction.
  • Surrey – Molesey library community partnership plans scrapped – Elmbridge Today.  “Surrey County Council’s decision-making cabinet has agreed to scrap plans for volunteers to take over the day-to-day running of Molesey library, in The Forum.” … Lib Dem opposition councillor said support for Big Society libraries was almost invisible, “The plans are being pushed through to save face in front of massive public opposition,”
    • Join the protests!Save our services in Surrey.   “Members of the Surrey Library Action Movement, who have brought together library users and campaigners, trade unionists and students to save Surrey’s libraries from being turned into “volunteer-run” services, were lobbying the Cabinet to urge them to reconsider their proposals and start a meaningful consultation with the community over the future of Surrey’s library service.”… “On October 1st, library activists across the county will be staging actions at local libraries, and converging on Woking Library at 2pm for a rally.”
    • “This is not volunteering, it’s blackmail!” – i-volunteer.   “Lee Godfrey, SLAM’s Press Ofifcer told us “If a Council threatens to close your library unless a lot of people “volunteer”, then people are being forced to give their time for free, being told they must “volunteer” with a gun to their heads. This is not volunteering, it is blackmail: taking advantage of people’s desire to nurture and protect their local community, and not wanting to lose one of the key hubs of their communities.” … “”Volunteers come and go, due to life circumstances, and it is not possible to guarantee that volunteers will always be able to fully cover library opening and all of the jobs necessary to keep a library fully functioning. Over time, the service will diminish to such a degree that these libraries will eventually be closed. And this will be one more nail in the coffin of so many villages and local communities.”

“I am in full support of Surrey Libraries Action Movement and their Love Your Libraries Campaign. Libraries need trained librarians just as schools need trained teachers and hospitals need trained doctors. Volunteers may have a role to play, but to staff a library exclusively with volunteers is not the way forward.” Surrey – Children’s author [Julia Donaldson] adds voice to Surrey library rowGet Surrey.  

  • Waltham Forest – Library closures decision “must be postponed” – Guardian series.   “Cabinet is due to rubberstamp a shake-up of the library service on October 11, which would see facilities in south Chingford and Harrow Green in Leytonstone shut down to save £1 million.”.  4000 petition to save Harrow Green.  “A scrutiny panel recently reported that cabinet was given insufficient information on visitor numbers and alternative proposals when it agreed to the closures.”

Court case continues, volunteers “delighted” … and naked librarians


The Glos/Somerset court case is over-running slightly on the second day.  From the reports, it seems like there is a strong case to answer.  It’s hard to see, for example, how the consultation was taken seriously by the council if the decision to close libraries was taken before the consultation finished.  However, it is quite possible that the judgement on such an important case will be delayed, until at least after the Brent decision is decided.  We shall see.
Other standouts today – Walsall have decided not to close any libraries.  Being at one stage they were considering closing fully six out of sixteen, this is quite a turnaround, seemingly solely due to public protest.  The cuts are still going to go ahead though, just via the increasingly ubiquitous use of volunteers and self-service.  The same is true in Surrey, where the decision to force groups to run libraries or see them close is being rosily described by the council but condemned by the library groups themselves, as a video shows.  Ditto in Oxfordshire where no group asked agrees with the council proposal to offload the library on to them.  To finish off the volunteering theme, a picture from Little Chalfont Library shows a problem with “community” libraries, the question being how do they pay for the big stuff?  By asking for people to vote from them on a bank’s website is one way.  Welcome brave new world.
In more multimedia ways, please (I know you will) have a look at the Calendar Girls-inspired librarian calendar (for the underlying philosophy of course) and have a listen to the surprisingly pleasant experience of the “Welcome to Austerity” song below.

426 libraries (340 buildings and 86 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.


“Please write to John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport , asking him to question DCMS Ministers about their lack of policy for public libraries and to draw their attention to the damage that is being done to the Service. His email address is:  It would seem that, without a united effort by everyone affected, the efforts of individuals trying to save their community libraries are unlikely to be treated by Mr Whittingdale and his Committee as a matter of any importance at all..” (Email received)

  • Comment on Arts Council England “Culture, knowledge and understanding” report – Voices for the Library. Report (incorporating special report of 13th September) and analysis of the plans that the quango in charge of libraries has in stall.

    “Five thousand libraries were closed in Russia in the past seven years, as the number of Russians attending them has grown threefold in less than four years, the paper writes.” Trud (via Press Digest)

    “I think the publishing world needs to wake up to the fact that public libraries grow their next generation of readers, like Niki here, who will one day be buyers not borrowers. Without the ground work being done in libraries on a shoe string, even that now threatened with the chop, children will form other habits – some no doubt more harmful than reading!” Comment.

  • Evolving libraries say check us out now – Chicago Tribune (USA).  “Toga parties, martini meetups, stuffed-animal sleepovers and more are designed to keep book lenders relevant”
  • How would you spend $1 billion on library services?Finding Heroes (NZ).   Answers include family literacy, remote digital access, invest full amount and live off the interest (while centralising purchasing, processing and installing broadband), build something long-term, investments/partnerships, let the grassroots decide, social impact programmes, invest the money to make profit.
  • Libraries give us power: Medway library services – Medway Broadside.  “‘Libraries gave us power‘, the song goes. They still do. From public libraries’ roots in Victorian philanthropy, to their modern council-run guise, libraries have long empowered people by giving them free access to knowledge, experience and education. More than that, libraries are places that put people in touch with the past, the outside world and their community.”.  Interview with librarian Sarah Jenkin.
  • Library closures face High Court challengeLocalGov. “Speaking for the claimants Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FOGL) and Friends of Somerset Libraries (FOSL), Helen Mountfield QC said that under the act authorities are obliged to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service. Citing equalities legislation, she also made the case that the councils had failed to establish the impact of the cuts or ‘fairly and properly’ take into account of views expressed during the consultation.”
  • Men of the Stacks: a 2012 CalendarMen of the Stacks.  Yes, it’s a Calendar Girls for librarians, although only a few are naked, respect to them.  ““We can’t just leave it to others to tell the people who we are; that’s why the stereotypes about librarians continue to flourish.  We have to be the ones to go out there and tell people who we are. It’s not enough to complain about inaccurate images of librarians; we must be able to present alternative, positive images in movies, books and, yes, blogs.”
  • Perceptions of public libraries in Africa: research and results = change – EIFL.   “Public libraries are uniquely positioned to change lives and build strong communities. In many parts of the world, where access to technology is extremely limited, libraries are often the sole source of access to computers and the internet….”. Looks at six African public libraries.
  • Successful meeting at the Appledore Book FestivalAlan Gibbons.  Alan and Tim Coates discuss libraries.  A lot have been saved but cuts still going on and level of library provision very uneven across the country.

“I guess the point is this: we should never have to justify our defence of books, libraries and reading for pleasure. We should insist that our politicians invest in the future by making the money available to promote literacy. And we should not simply accept that the printed word is dead. Every single person who helped to create computers, the Internet and other forms of digitization were educated with the help of real books. Without them, human beings wouldn’t have progressed as much as we have. They really are THAT important.” They really are THAT important.  MyVoice writer-in-residence, Bali Rai, on books and feeding the brain – MyVoice.  

  • Tyra Banks spends more time in New York Public Library than you do – The Cut (USA). “It took Tyra five years to complete her new book, Modelland, most of which she wrote in various New York Public Library locations. “I think I made, like, fourteen of those buildings my home. You have no idea how much time I’ve spent in the New York libraries!”


Surrey – Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water, Warlingham will be run by volunteers, with the council pays non-staff costs.  If successful 2011/12 then nine more will be run by volunteers in 2012/13 – Ash, Caterham Hill, Frimley Green, Hersham, Horsley, Knaphill, Lightwater, Shepperton and West Byfleet. Volunteers would allow £200k cut in first year then 381k per year.
Walsall – None under threat, previously six –  £1.3m cut via self-service machines and volunteers. 

Local News

“What do you plan to use the CommunityForce award for? The Library Building was built in the 1960’s. It is badly in need of refurbishment with rotting woodwork and water damage. We have made some DIY repairs but the time has come to refurbish the interior and exterior.”

  • Cambridgeshire – Cuts of £3m to Cambridgeshire libraries “excessive” says councillor – BBC.  “David Harty, cabinet member for learning and libraries at the county council, said “a new model of service” would be considered instead.”  Cuts will be “reconsidered”. ” “It is proposed that no community will lose access to library services but changes may be made in the way they are currently delivered.”. Co-location may happen.
    • Community services open up at library – News and Crier.  ““They are at the heart of the community which helps manage it and the building is a truly public facility used by organisations to provide services and support for residents.” … “The district council will run its community service centre from the library, which also provides facilities for Ramsey Neighbourhoods Trust, giving access to local information and advice. There will also be access to services including Citizens Advice Bureau, Hunts MIND, Cambridgeshire child and adolescent substance use service, the crime reduction charity Nacro and the drink and drug charity Addaction.”
    • Nearly 10,000 call for libraries to keep staffCambridge News. “Petitions with nearly 10,000 signatures were presented to library chiefs yesterday by campaigners who said professionally-staffed branches must stay at the hearts of communities. Book lovers, who described the buildings as vital neighbourhood hubs which could not be replaced by online services, were told the service was “safe” by Cllr Nick Clarke, Cambridgeshire County Council’s leader.”.  Opposition says ““We can see the value in co-locating other services in libraries where that’s practicable but putting a few books into post offices, shops or petrol stations and calling it a library ‘service’ just won’t do.””
  • Coventry – Allesbury Park library visitor figures treble – Coventry Telegraph.   “since it became a permanent rather than mobile service…The £1million library is part of a £3.2million neighbourhood centre in Whitaker Road, which also includes a community room and medical centre.Library visitors have also increased in Caludon Castle Library, Earlsdon Library and Stoke Library.”  Councillor says ““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 / Wandsworth – Croydon agree to work with Wandsworth: outsourcing libraries – Sanderstead Library Campaign Group.   Links to relevant articles.  “Wandsworth and Croydon Labour groups have voiced a willingness to explore ways of reducing costs of running libraries and exploring different approaches but hold concerns that outsourcing may lead to a deterioration in the service on offer.”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Lambeth councillors refuse to attend meeting over running of Croydon libraryGuardian series.   “The row concerns Croydon Council’s decison to appoint non local ward councillors onto the Upper Norwood Joint Library Committee.”.  Crystal Palace Community Assocation calls Croydon decision a farce – “It has accused the Council of installing cabinet members in a bid to push through controversial legislation.”.  More local councillors would have been opposition councillors not happy with the proposed privatisation of the service.
  • Gloucestershire – County Council “didn’t listen” to feedback: courtThis is Gloucestershire.   “Vulnerable people were not properly consulted over massive library cutbacks in Gloucestershire, a court heard today.  Council called “simply irrational”, didn’t properly consult elderly or disabled, council had decided to close libraries regardless of what consultation showed, as proved by final decision made before the consultation period ended.
    • Claims Council “failed” public with library cuts – This is Glos.   “Gloucestershire County Council wants to save £114m by 2014 to balance the books but Helen Mountfield QC, speaking for the anti-cuts movement at the start of a three-day hearing said the authority was “ignoring public opinion” and “failing to meet statutory obligations” to provide a proper library service.”… “She also said the library service provided by Shire Hall was no longer “comprehensive” because the cuts were so deep.”
    • High court hearing under way into proposed library cuts in Gloucestershire – Gazette.  
    • Day two of court hearingFoGL.   “Today again consisted wholly of Helen Mountfield QC presenting the cases against Gloucestershire County Council and Somerset County Council (whose case is being heard at the same time).”.  Main points include – insufficient criterion was used when deciding which libraries to close, equalities issues were only considered retrospectively to defend decisions already made, insufficient consultation (notably including no meetings at some of the threatened branches).  Thursday will be taken up with the Councils defending its decisions. 
  • Hertfordshire – Bushey library refurbishment unveiled by members of Herfordshire County CouncilWatford Observer.  “Extensions have increased the building’s capacity by almost 20 per cent and it now contains some 21,000 books, CDs and DVDs, as well as six new PCs. County council cuts meant libraries across Hertfordshire had their opening times slashed earlier this year, with Bushey being reduced by 20 hours a week.”
  • Oxfordshire – The Big Society isn’t about cuts, or is it?Question Everything.  Friends groups againt council’s current proposals.  Volunteers would actually cost more than the staff they are replacing in Year One.  Current volunteer proposals also against council’s own guidance.  Original council press release described proposal as “big society” but this removed.  
  • Suffolk – Have your say on the future of Suffolk Libraries: feedback – Suffolk County Council.
    “Stakeholders asked questions and commented on the proposals. They sought clarification on a wide range of issues such as financial information, savings required, timescales and business planning. Officers will incorporate the feed back in the preparation of the paper for Cabinet in November. It was agreed to publish copies of the presentations given at the workshop.” Includes a highly details list of the abilities that a volunteer needs and a somewhat overly glossy and positive report on responses to the consultation on the cuts.

  • Surrey – Plans for community libraries agreed – Surrey County Council.   “Volunteers will be able to take over the day to day running of 10 libraries* while the county council continues to provide everything else including the building, stock, computer equipment, as well as free Wi-Fi in all libraries.”…”At a meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday, September 27, at County Hall in Kingston, members agreed that the 10 pilot community-run libraries operate for the financial year 2012-13 so their success can be assessed. Only then will the council consider extending the offer to nine more which are Ash, Caterham Hill, Frimley Green, Hersham, Horsley, Knaphill, Lightwater, Shepperton and West Byfleet.” 
    • Plans to overhaul Surrey libraries and cut costs agreed – BBC.  “The Conservative-run county council’s cabinet members agreed to devolve responsibilities at the libraries to help save up to £381,000 a year.” … Campaigner said that “The way that they conducted the meeting just characterises their whole approach throughout the libraries closures programme in that they just won’t listen.”
    • Volunteer victory for libraries in Surrey – I-volunteer. Volunteers “delighted” says pro-volunteering website.  “The Council are giving carte blanche to volunteers to run the libraries as they see fit. A spokesperson said, “You can run your community library, you can have a say on how long the Library is open, you can have small groups coming in or a coffee shop in there should you wish. Young people are telling us that they want somewhere to go and sit, to have their own area, well you can make that in a community run library.” Tweets from Surrey activists suggest there was no celebration in the streets as groups were forced to work for nothing or see their libraries close.
    • Tweets on subject after Surrey (Surrey_Matters) asked on Twitter for feedback on proposals – “If it means they stay open then its good thing. But Sy shd also find ways to increase visits so no need to consider closure.” .  “We think this is a very one-sided and false presentation of the issue! How about some balance, and some truth?” [SLAM].

Judge could give verdict on Glos and Somerset library challenge on Thursday

It’s like buses.  All the library news is coming at once.  The first day of the Gloucestershire/Somerset court case has gone well, with the campaigners being able to put their case forward.  On Wednesday, it is the turn of the defence.  The judge has indicated he may give a verdict as early as Thursday.  This is in contrast to the case in Brent, where the arguments were heard before the Summer Holidays but the judgement was delayed.  News from there today is that the judgement will be announced next week.  These results will be the most important news for public libraries not just this week, or month, or year but for decades.  Good luck and best wishes to all of the campaigners concerned.
The there’s all the other news.  The shadow minister of Culture barely mentions libraries in his speech, continuing the poor record of Labour in opposition on the subject.  A library in Camden, abandoned by its local authority, is wanting to raise £1 million to safeguard its future … hmmmm, this Big Society business is sounding more expensive than advertised.  Surrey is suggesting that provident societies run its libraries, the first time that this has been put seriously put forward by any English authority as far as I am aware.  The National Literacy Trust has produced a report on reading that shows that 9 out of 10 children have used a library, with high levels of use amongst all ethnic groups (white and middle class, my date stamped foot). Finally, in Sandwell, library workers are “working to rule” due to pay cuts and replacement by volunteers.  Interesting times.

432 libraries (346 buildings and 86 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.


“The Committee will be holding an evidence session with the [DCMS] in the autumn and the matter of libraries will most likely be on the agenda, although there are no immediate plans to conduct an inquiry.” House of Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee, (reply to an email seen by PLN).

  • Public must occupy “at risk” sites – Press Association. “The public should occupy libraries and hospitals if they are closed because of the Government’s spending cuts, a union leader has suggested. Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said he agreed with taking non-violent action in response to the “vicious” austerity measures which were hitting communities across the country.”

““I would welcome this call from an important voice in the trade union movement. It has taken generations to establish the public library service. It is not impossible that it could be destroyed in the term of a single government. Thus far, library users and staff have bent over backwards to be reasonable and try to convince Ministers and other elected officials of the error of their ways by patient argument. Our efforts have been treated largely with contempt. On behalf of the Campaign for the Book I would like to state that we have considered this kind of peaceful, constructive direct action. We are ruling nothing out. It depends upon the willingness of local communities to embark on such measures.” (Alan Gibbons on GMB statement above).

  • Reads and 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.”
    • 2 in 10 young people said that they had never received a book as a present, while 1 in 10
      has never been to a bookshop or a library.
    • A greater proportion of those who agree with the statements that they have never been
      given a book as a present, that they have never been to a bookshop or library read below
      the expected level for their age compared with those who disagree with those
    • 7.4% have never been to a library [on the other hand, that is a whopping 92.6% who have]
    • “I have never been to a library” – agree  7.4%(white) 16.3% (mixed) 6.5% (Asian)  6.6% (Black) – [Shows libraries are used by over 80% of children of all races]
  • We respond to CLG consultation on Draft National Planning Policy Framework – Arts Council England.  Response is largely critical of the proposed new planning rules. “We do not believe that the framework correctly identifies the needs and requirements of local places and local plans.” – uses Derby libraries as an example.  ““The town centre policies will enable communities to encourage retail, business and leisure development in the right locations and protect the vitality and viability of town centres – No.” – uses The Cube in Corby as an example. 
  • “We should celebrate cultural excellence”Public Service.   Shadow Culture Secretary Ivan Lewis at the Labour Party conference.  Speech mentions libraries but just once – “Conference, in just over a year Jeremy Hunt, has gone from rising star to the long list of wannabe former potential Prime Ministers. This Tory-led Government have decimated our world-leading school sports system, launched a concerted attack on public investment in the arts, threatened many libraries and are marginalising creativity in our education system. At a time when jobs and growth should be a top priority their VAT increase is bad for tourism, and delayed broadband roll out, bad for business.”

“Are you interested in what is happening to public libraries ?  Alas, your reference to them here was as brief as a thong.  We, the public, should be most grateful for your representation and assistance as we struggle on alone.” Shirley Burnham in email to Ivan Lewis.


Local News

Brent – “#brentsos campaign expects judicial review verdict next week.” PrestonLib on Twitter
  • Cambridgeshire – Library service backs down over “barbarous” fees planCambridge News. “Notices went up in Cambridgeshire libraries saying the service intended to bring in charges of 50p per book, with plans to extend this to children from October 15. But the head of the service, Christine May, has now revealed that the idea has been scrapped. The move follows an outburst by a senior Cambridge University academic, who described the proposed fees as “unspeakable”.”
  • Camden – Campaigners launch £1m Chalk Farm Library plea – London Evening Standard.   Campaigners say “the sum will protect the library long-term. Camden council is axing the £138,000 a year it gives in March, after a services review.” … “Playwright Alan Bennett, a local resident and a fierce critic of the closures, said: “There is a lot of good feeling but it’s not directed. But I would say it was a good first meeting.” The council has backed the plan and offered transitional funding to help the takeover.”.  Campaigner says ” “A community enterprise is the only way we are going to retain that community space.”
  • Durham – Henry Witham’s Hall faces up to a new era – Teesdale Mercury.  “The future of Barnard Castle’s library looks more secure after plans for significant investment were announced. Durham County Council is expected to turn part of the library building, off Hall Street, into a base for council staff and services.The move forms part of the forthcoming revamp of The Witham Hall. Chris Clark, chairman of the Witham Trustees, said it would mean the library building would be extended. “The council is planning to provide a lot more council facilities from there and it also means that there will be an enhanced library for the town,” said Mr Clark.”
  • Gloucestershire and Somerset – Battle to save Gloucestershire libraries hits the High Court – This is Gloucestershire.    “In a dramatic opening day at the High Court in Birmingham this morning, a legal team fighting on behalf of pro-library campaigners in the county urged the cuts to be scrapped.” … “”The duty to provide library services is owed to all those who live in the area and unless they succeed in this challenge, many libraries face closure. This is a challenge brought in the public interest not a narrow private challenge.” …”All of the libraries earmarked for closure must remain open until the conclusion of the hearing, which is expected on Thusday. Judge Justice McKenna is expected to make his ruling then.”.  Interesting comments.
  • Court Hearing beginsFoGL.  Summarises media reports so far.   “Helen Mountfield QC particularly focussed on explaining equality duties, the meaning of the public libraries act and the duty to consult. Tomorrow she will be presenting the case against Gloucestershire County Council in relation to the context she gave today. Following this GCC will be delivering their points of defence. It was very interesting to observe  and very refreshing to at last be able to properly examine and scrutinise the county councils plans in an unbiased arena. Day two of the hearing will commence tomorrow morning at 10:30 am.”
  • Libraries across the county including Lechlade, Tetbury, and Bourton-on-the-Water face closureWilts and Glos Standard.  “Last November GCC announced plans to cut library services by 43 per cent as part of its bid to save £108million over the next four years.” … ““We believe that the courts will agree with us that a ‘comprehensive library service’ must mean access to a library with the full range of services including broadband access as well as books for the whole community,””

“If, say, you have to walk three miles to a library it’s particularly disadvantageous to pre-school children, it’s particularly disadvantageous to disabled people,” she told the high court sitting in Birmingham. She argued that the authorities had failed in their duty to guard against indirect discrimination. They had also failed, she said, to carry out a thorough consultation with local communities.”  Helen Mountfield QC

    • Library closure councils ‘neglecting the vulnerable’ – Guardian.  “The case is being watched closely as it could be the first time a judgment is handed down in a legal challenge to library closures under the coalition.” … “The councils have appealed for volunteers to come forward to run certain libraries, an idea FoGL has condemned as “unfair and misguided”. It predicts that a further seven libraries will close in Gloucestershire for want of partners to help co-fund the services. In both counties, many remaining libraries will have reduced stock, staff and opening hours.” … “”We weren’t ever listened to so it’s good that the politics is out of it now and it’s being scrutinised according to the law,” said Johanna Anderson, founder of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FoGL) and one of a dozen campaigners who had travelled to Birmingham for the hearing.”
    • Library closures challenge begins in High Court – BBC.   “Somerset County Council wants to withdraw funding for 11 libraries while Gloucestershire County Council wants to close 10 in a bid to save money.”…”Solicitor Danny Kerry said the case was “very significant” and “could set a precedent that counties all round the UK will pay attention to. The reason the spotlight is on Gloucestershire and Somerset is because they have cut deeper than virtually all other councils,” he said. “They’ve cut faster, and they’ve started off from a much worse position.”
  • Lewisham – Pseudo libraries in 21st Century Lewisham –  Pat and Peter Richardson.  Examination of the state of play in the five “withdrawn” libraries with concerns over opening hours, bookstock, viability. £59k self-service machines installed when few books, volunteers cannot take money for reservations.   Reference library also under threat “Can it be true that a most senior Library Manager actually went into the Reference library and in front of staff produced his mobile phone and said that was the future for information?” … “As we leave Grove Park two volunteer staff stand outside puffing away on quick fags.”
  • North Yorkshire – Save Great Ayton Library –  “Despite best efforts Great Ayton Library’s future is still not secure. Review the presentation to summarize ‘events’ so far and then complete & return the Opinion Survey.

“Our library plays a vital part in the development of each and every child who uses it’s fantastic children’s section in the village, I visit the library each week on a Tuesday with my two sons who both immerse themselves in the joy of picture books, of which we have an excellent collection.  The children’s library inspires our children to enjoy, join in and learn and alongside the personal touches the staff bring to the experience makes this priceless.  Please help save our library for this and future generations”  Comment on Great Ayton Library website.

  • Nottingham – Many crafts, many cultures in Nottingham City libraries – Nottingham Council. “”These free events give citizens of all ages the chance to try something new in our libraries and explore a variety of art and crafts forms through our ever popular Positive Images programme. ”  
  • St Helens – Library set for hi-tech transformation – St Helens Star.   “Thatto Heath library will shut from noon on Saturday (October 1) and is unlikely to reopen until next year, says St Helens Council. Extensive work will see the installation of a wi-fi network, 29 PCs (including 12 Apple Macs), special children’s laptops and three plasma screens” plus more books and adult learning room.
  • Sandwell – Blackheath and Oldbury’s new libraries proving popular with bookworms – Halesowen News.  “Record numbers of people visited the two purpose built new libraries over the summer with book borrowing and computer usage increasing.”.  Joining figures up 400 and 1000%.  ““Our aim is to safeguard and improve our library service at a time of Government cuts and these two libraries show the benefits of sharing facilities, wherever that is possible and appropriate to the needs of local communities.”.  However, “Last month library assistants, furious about reorganisation of staff pay grading, announced they would work to rule and stop advising people on how to complete job application forms, stop giving advice on reading materials, stop giving advice to groups of users and reading groups, stop outreach work at schools and organising events and stop providing guidance to people on how to use computer software The council is currently holding a public consultation about changes to the libraries in Sandwell and a report outlining proposals is expected to go to the cabinet shortly.”
  • Suffolk – Libraries update – James Hargrave’s Blog.   “The Council shared some of their thinking and plans that will be in the final November cabinet paper and as expected the independent social enterprise model looks to the favored option. But somewhat unexpectedly an “industrial provident society” where each local library is a Member and has a vote to elect the Board is proposed model. This looks interesting and very like the Umbrella Trust model I have been working on for the Academies.” … “I think what we are all realizing is that true localism takes time and is far from easy. But we are taking the first steps.”
  • Surrey – Library campaigner vow to fight on Get Surrey.   “Libraries in Surrey will have to be run by volunteers or face the prospect of closure. Members of Surrey County Council’s cabinet ratified their controversial plans to create community-run libraries in 10 locations on Tuesday (September 27), at a lively meeting at County Hall.” … “The decision by the cabinet today is an absolute disgrace. They have totally ignored the wishes of Surrey residents. They are clearly intent on closing smaller libraries all of which are much valued by their communities.”
  • Wandsworth – Concern raised over library service plan in Wandsworth – Guardian series.  “”Although the Labour Group is happy to support an exploration of new ways to cut costs from our library system, it’s vital that any outsourcing does not lead to an erosion of services, or any further reductions to library opening hours or supplies of books.” She said any change must “protect the low-cost access to computers and the internet, as well as maintain up to date stocks of books for both children and adults. It’s also crucial that we continue to preserve spaces for people to work, read and study”.  Suggested plans discussions should be opened with other boroughs, not just Croydon. 

Shushed for too long


“Keep hitting these four messages:

Libraries change lives. How? Through our passionate advocacy for literacy and lifelong learning.
Libraries build community. How? By providing public space and encouraging citizen engagement.
Libraries mean business. How? By helping people find jobs, and helping entrepreneurs create them.
Libraries are a smart investment. How? We are a cooperative purchasing agreement that has a great return on the investment.” Colorado Public Library Advocacy Initiative (USA).

It is hard for me to say this but public libraries in the UK have had it easy.  Not because the job is easy but rather because they have not had to really promote themselves to survive. The situation is different in the USA where libraries have to continue, year in year out, to prove themselves to the public and to their councillors.  Public votes on expenditure (“millages”) mean a poorly promoted library is a poorly funded library.  Unconvinced people can quite happily vote to reduce the percentage of tax paid to the library. There seems to be an almost Darwinian process going on, with US libraries having some seriously impressive publicity in order to survive in order to produce more publicity for next time.  In the good times, where money is easy to come by, the UK model is far less wasteful – how much time and worry must go on all of these perpetual fights for expenditure, even for the best of libraries?  Now in the bad times, though, what an advantage American librarians have over their British colleagues.  
British librarians are not so used to advocacy.   There’s no professional campaigning going on to promote British public libraries (Voices for the Library is a voluntary effort for all of its wonderfulness) worthy of the name. None. I don’t mean from national bodies, although assuredly the old MLA, the malevolently neglectful DCMS or even the limited-in-what-it-can-do-for-the best-of-reasons CILIP do not qualify (although a quick nod to the Summer Reading Challenge does need to be included as counter-evidence).  No, what I mean are the public library authorities themselves.  There’s some good practice out there, but it’s small and often either painfully low budget or too local or both.  In this, the hour of need, it is authors and users who are doing the campaigning.  Librarians are not doing it because we never have and we’re assuredly never going to get the money from our councils to start now.  
There seems also to be a legal difference.  It seems accepted that library workers in the USA can fight for their existence, not so in the UK where staff need to toe the council line when there are cuts in opening hours or bookfund.  However, it goes deeper than a legal defence. Many  not even sure about how to promote librarians within their own organisations, because we (yes, I’m a librarian, and I’m proud of it, do you hear me?)  have not really needed to until now.  There were no inspections.   There has been no need to vigorously and rigorously defend libraries and, as such, the skills of saying “libraries are essential for this council because of x, and y and z…” have never needed to be developed and trained and cherished and, and, and … and, well, my, are libraries paying for it now. 
Perhaps, Librarians have shushed themselves for too long.

432 libraries (346 buildings and 86 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.

“Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of all the institutions that purport to do this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this.” Toni Morrison

  • Anger over cuts prompts new procurement approach – Supply Management. About the decision to outsource libraries in Croydon and Wandsworth. ““We in Wandsworth, have saved hundreds of millions over the past 30 years by outsourcing services,” said a spokesman for Wandsworth council. “We are already sharing the management of our press offices with the [London Borough of] Hammersmith and Fulham, which has halved the management cost. We would hope to place adverts for a tender to manage libraries in six months time.”

“Like most writers of my generation, I grew up with the weekly exchange of library books, and took their pleasures and treasures for granted. The cost of our free public library system is small, its value immense. To diminish and dismantle it would be a kind of national self-mutilation, as stupid as it would be wicked.” Julian Barnes

  • Barnes: dismantling libraries is “self-mutilation” – BookSeller.  “The author’s comments came as the Man Booker prize announced it would be hosting an event to show its support for the library service. Three of the authors shortlisted for this year’s award – Carol Birch, Stephen Kelman and A D Miller – will speak to an audience of librarians and library reading groups from across the UK at an event to be held at the British Library on 11th October… Ion Trewin, the prize’s literary director, said: “The support we are giving here at a time when libraries across much of the nation are being closed or under threat demonstrates how important Man Booker believes them to be.”
  • Get carded: Libraries educate, entertain and create community – Plum Oakmont Patch (USA). “Public libraries are community centers and the centers of their communities. They are gathering places where residents convene for conversations, organizational meetings and program participation.”Evidence for education (“think of it as an extension of the school”) and entertainment as well.

“And so I hope you still bring that much happiness to other children and adults in the world today. I hope you are still changing lives the way you changed mine. Because not everyone can afford to buy their own crack through, and most people appreciate using you to borrow their crack. You provide an invaluable service to our entire country.” Gratitude Sunday 9/24/11 = Libraries – 5 Flat Tires (Niki Mathias).   Humorous posting but deeply insightful. 

  • Long live books: bringers of life and entitlement – Office of the Chief Rabbi.  Also printed in the Times (behind paywall) on Saturday 23rd September. “When Jews think of life, I said, they think of a book. For us, to read is to live….So I was struck by Caitlin Moran’s powerful plea in August for local libraries to be spared in the programme of government cuts….A great book is a life-enlarging journey of the mind. That is an idea we must never lose. Libraries are an essential element of a good society. They democratise knowledge, giving us all equal access to the heritage of humankind. There are many kinds of poverty we should try to eliminate, but I wonder whether intellectual impoverishment may not be the deepest and most debilitating of all.”
  • More than books: Libraries strengthen communities in uncertain times – Shareable (USA).  “Have you heard? There’s a new hot-spot in town. It’s a museum, digital hub, community resource center, art space and provider of free and open access to information. It’s the picture of shareability and it’s right through the doors of a library. While library systems rework their methods of information delivery for an increasingly electronic world, libraries themselves have become go-to places for work, study, community, computers, education, pleasure reading, and quiet.”.  Another great article in the “libraries aren’t dieing, they’re evolving” series.
  • Osceola lays off 16; libraries take biggest hit – Around Osceola (USA).   7 library staff (inc. 5 branch managers) redundant.  “Ed Kilroy, former library system director, said he believes cutting all branch managers is a precursor to the county outsourcing the library operations to Maryland-based Library Systems & Services LLC, referred to as LSSI.” … “According to a letter to the county manager from LSSI Executive Chairman Frank A. Pezzanite, the company could save the county $1.87 million the first year of the contract: $1.2 million in personnel costs, $508,532 in operating expenses and $147,810 in capital outlay for books and other materials.”.  Letter says staff would have health insurance but no pension plan.
  • New numbers on library outsourcing not so rosy – AFSCME (USA).  “The annual projected savings Osceola County government could realize by outsourcing management of the Osceola Library System to a private company has been cut by more than two-thirds, according to information provided at the Library Advisory Board meeting Wednesday.”  $4m saving over five years expected.
  • Region’s elderly facing “perfect storm” – Yorkshire Post. “A hard-hitting report by Age UK North Yorkshire and Harrogate CVS, compiled over the summer, highlights the impact on older people of cuts to a wealth of vital services including public transport, social support, home care, meal deliveries and libraries.” … ““It is clear the loss of direct personal contact will have a negative impact on vulnerable people.””
  • Valiant villagers defy cynicism and legal hurdles as they get ready to improve vital local services – Yorkshire Post.  “Nowhere is this more apparent than in the libraries sector, where the unprecedented programme of closures is being mitigated by a valiant volunteer-led fightback….Negotiations are now under way in North Yorkshire, Leeds and Doncaster to save a number of libraries from closure with the help of community groups. But it is Bradford where such proposals are now most advanced, with Addingham, Denholme and Wrose libraries all poised to stay open – staffed entirely by local volunteers.”
  • Who invented public libraries? – Yahoo! Answers.  The variability and inaccuracy of some of the replies, along with the “information dump” approach of some others, shows the need that Yahoo! Answers, at least, has not replaced the need for librarians.

 Local News

  • Brent – What’s happening in Brent?Alan Gibbons.  “An evening with Esther Rantzen, St Gabriel’s Church, Walm Lane .Wednesday 5 October 7pm. Please help this week We need to be promoting this Save Cricklewood Library event this week.”.  Brent Council has spent £70,000 on fighting the legal case on library closures so far. 
  • Croydon – Savings “will justify” £250k cost of Croydon’s libraries hand over – Croydon Today.  Cost of choosing a company is £250k, either with or without a joint winner (with Wandsworth).  Part of contract would mean no closures and monitoring (but not moratorium on cuts to) bookfund.  Decision not until October 2012.
  • Isle of Wight – Campaigners question IOW council’s “community libraries”  – BookSeller.  “campaigners have branded plans to hand the libraries over to volunteers “a cut by any other name”…. ” it “seems to be the most vulnerable people who are suffering”, and pointed to the irony of handing Niton library over to volunteers, when it was just “a stone’s throw” from the burial place of Edward Edwards, a 19th-century pioneer of the public library service”
  • Orkney – Library gets book back after 40 years – Scotsman.   “Library assistant Stewart Bain said: “It came from someone who was selling up their farm and was having a clear-out. We don’t operate a fine system – which is just as well.”
  • Surrey – Calls for public inquiry at Surrey County Council – Eagle Radio.  “Campaign group the Surrey Libraries Action Movement says last week’s events at County Hall show the council’s in disarray. The leader resigned after sacking two key figures, now one of those key figures looks set to take over the leadership. SLAM wants an inquiry into what happened and a halt to plans which could see 19 libraries close.”

“Expressions of interested are welcomed for the purchase of a mobile library which will be available for release from November 2011.Price: Open to offers. Viewing of vehicle can be arranged by appointment only.” Wigan – Mobile Library for sale, posting on LIS-PUB-LIBS [Mobile service scrapped refers].

Michael Hart


 “One thing about eBooks that most people haven’t thought much is that eBooks are the very first thing that we’re all able to have as much as we want other than air. Think about that for a moment and you realize we are in the right job.”

I had not noticed the passing of Michael Hart on September 6th this year.  Many will not have heard his name before but everyone should.  He was the inventor of the E-book, although this to me is not his greatest achievement.  It is not easy being first but I can’t help but think that someone else would have got the idea pretty immediately if he had not beaten them to it. What I know and respect him for most is Project Gutenberg, which aimed to produce, for free, online copies of as many out-of-copyright books as possible.  The number is 36,000 at the moment, about as many as a good sized branch library holds, available wherver there is an internet connaction.  As a librarian, I see him as kindred spirit.  Public libraries exist to allow free access to books and information.  So did Michael Hart.
432 libraries (346 buildings and 86 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.


“Too many have inadequate book stocks, too few staff working with the public, too few activities, too shoddy an environment, too little outreach work in schools and communities. This isn’t the fault of the library staff the public meet. It is the outcome of years of poor leadership, characterised by a parliamentary committee recently as ‘woeful. In a recent post Unison national officer Hannah Bailey wrote very powerfully about a visit to Winsford library in Cheshire, demonstrating what a library should be like.  Here’s the rub, if we are to have the libraries of tomorrow, we can’t allow the libraries of today to close. If we are to change the nature of librarianship to meet the needs of the future we can’t allow the librarians of today to be sacked.”The libraries we’ve got and the libraries we need – Alan Gibbons.

“As writers such as Anne Sebba and Deborah Moggach descend on Marlborough for the Wiltshire town’s literary festival, what of the ongoing battle to save the local libraries? This time last year, Wiltshire Council announced a freeze on buying any new books except the “top 10 bestsellers”. Since then, half the council’s librarians have been axed and replaced with machines. The thinking was that machines don’t need paying or pensions or, indeed, uniforms. Librarians don’t actually need uniforms either, though that wasn’t the council’s view when it splurged £40,000 on uniforms months before they wielded the axe. A mole tells me that the first library uniform has now been spotted in a Marlborough charity shop.” Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary – Independent on Sunday. 

  • Michael HartThe Economist.  The inventor of E-books and the creator of Project Gutenberg died on September 6th.  Michael believed in books being free, putting all he could on the internet, gaining thousands of helpers on the way.  The extension of copyright to 100 years (it was 30 when he started in the 1980s) limited his work, believing to the end that “All good things should be abundant, and they should be free.”


 Local News

  • Cambridgeshire – Savour our libraries lobby of the County Council Cabinet meetingSave our libraries (Facebook).  A joint Save our Libraries / Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts lobby of the Cambridgeshire County Council cabinet meeting to hand in the petition to save cambridgeshires libraries which at the last count had over 7,000 signatures on it”
  • Cumbria – Libraries launch free audio book download service – BBC.    “Users will have access to more than 600 books, with new titles added every month to the service that can accessed day and night. Downloads will be automatically deleted after three weeks which also ends the risk of incurring fines.”
  • Enfield – Consultation on Enfield libraries to close – Enfield Independent.   “The issue caused a furore earlier this year after it was revealed finance chief Councillor Andrew Stafford had suggested to residents that “two or three” libraries could be shut. The council has since said no decisions have been made, and no proposals have been put forward for consultation.”
  • Gloucestershire  Details of this week’s court case – FoGL.   Details of how to get to the judicial review of the cuts to Gloucestershire libraries in Birmingham on Tuesday.
  • Scottish Borders – Innerleithen and Selkirk take aim as library merger D-Day approaches – Southern Reporter.  “Controversial plans to merge libraries with Scottish Borders Council contact centres in seven towns and, at the same time, reduce their opening hours, will be determined by councillors next month.” Protests as unfair to those communities affected, but staffing queried “In some branch libraries, professionally qualified librarians can spend up to 40 per cent of their time carrying out transactional front desk tasks – which are also very competently undertaken by staff on lower grades – rather than on service development and improvement.”.  Contact centres drastically reduced in usage.  £30k initial saving followed by £59k p.a.

Not going gently


The big news is that the court case to decide the legality of the cuts in Gloucestershire (10 libraries and 6 mobiles) and Somerset (6 libraries) is to be heard this Tuesday.  This follows on from the Brent court case, whose result will be known in October.  The importance of these cases, and of libraries, can be seen in another item: that two-thirds of all books read in the UK come from public libraries.  Two-thirds.  With figures like that, campaigners are quite right not to let libraries go gently into that good night.

432 libraries (346 buildings and 86 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 two thirds of reading in this country is of books from public libraries – Good Library Blog.  The figures are pretty plain.  About 230m books are sold each year (from books shops, Amazon, mail order etc) . About half of these are read – the rest are gifts of one kind or another and aren’t generally read through. (These figures are widely recognised in the book trade- they are supported by statistics and surveys). 310m books are issued from public libraries – nearly all of which are read. (these figures come the national CIPFA survey data). So, without over complicating the analysis it is pretty safe to say that betwen 60 and 70% of the books that are being read, today, come from a library.”
  • Add to my library vol.IIChristina Mitrentse – Artwork about libraries
  • Advocacy: “Everyone is an advocate” – Lianza (New Zealand).    “Advocacy is about making sure that libraries are valued, supported and connected to their stakeholders and communities because libraries can be taken for granted.”
  • Hard-pressed councils set to miss cuts target by over £50m – Yorkshire Post.  “In the past six months a total of 16 libraries, one leisure centre, two swimming pools, four tourist information centres and two homeless hostels have closed across Yorkshire.”
  • High Court trial of library closures in Gloucestershire and Somerset gets underway -Public Interest Lawyers.  A three-day High Court hearing to examine the legality of massive cuts to library provision in Gloucestershire and Somerset will commence on Tuesday 27 September 2011 at the Civil Justice Centre in Birmingham (10.30am)…”Whatever the ‘Big Society’ is, it should not be a fig leaf for excessive and ill-conceived cuts or the surrendering of cherished public services. These cuts will disenfranchise the elderly, the vulnerable and those living in isolated communities. We are confident that the High Court will require a fundamental re-think of the Councils’ plans.”
  • Library vandals unleash water from fire sprinkler – Yakima Herald (USA).  “Vandalism in the men’s restroom at the downtown Yakima Valley Library Friday afternoon set off a fire sprinkler, releasing about 200 gallons of water, according to a news release today from the Yakima Fire Department. “
  • Most annoying thing about my job: librarians tell all – LISNews (USA).  List includes lack of support from management, unclear rules, people assuming one has few qualifications.  “I have found that my library fills what would be an incredible void in our community. I acknowledge that we are not a perfect organization; however, where every other bureaucracy in our city has told you “No,” we are the organization that says, “Yes. We can help you.””
  • Their Library: Emmy the Great – Clash Music.  “The songwriter has a real depth to her lyrics, which go beyond the surface level introspection employed by so many acoustic-clad troubadours. Returning with her second album – an analysis of religious thought and mythology – Emmy The Great had obviously been making frequent use of her library card.”  … “Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager? Yes. The library near my parents’ house has the most amazing Point Horror and Point Romance collection. Still does – same books. And the library at my school was the known place to go fool around, because it was dark and had a lot of corners.”


Cumbria – Music CDs now free for visually impaired
Isle of Wight – Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin will be run by volunteers from October.
Northamptonshire – Free use of computers on Fridays, in conjunction with Job Clubs.  
Oxfordshire – Campaign group:  Friends of Neithrop Library formed.   
Stockton – Stockton Library reopens in November after £1.9m refurbishment, to include co-location with other council services. 

Local News

  • Bristol –Reading Challenge has a happy ending as children collect prizes – This is Bristol.  “More than 4,000 children and young people took part in 40 special events, workshops and activities under the summer reading scheme.  Over half of those taking part in the scheme completed the Circus Stars challenge and received a medal to reward their achievement. Medal winners were entered into a free prize draw, with the chance to win book tokens, books and other educational prizes.”
    • City Council hopes to create a new library on Gloucester Road – Redland People.  “Barely a month goes by when we’re not hearing about the closure of community facilities, from youth centres to police stations and schools to libraries. But Bristol Council looks set to buck that worrying trend and actually opening a new library.” … “The Bristol North Pool development is a classic example of how – in the current economic climate – the public sector is having to step in and take a leading pro-active funding approach. Previously, developers looked to banks and financial institutions to provide sensible funding packages, now the economics of borrowing just don’t add up” 
  • Calderdale – Have a say on library serviceHalifax Courier.   “The council is looking for members of the public to pass on their views and ideas for the region’s libraries. The session is part of a consultation process set up by Calderdale Council in its review of services. Wider efficiency measures are being cited as the motivation behind the review as the council is increasingly under pressure to cut costs following the recession.”
  • Cumbria – Cumbrian man wins fight to end CD charge at county libraries – News and Star.   “Bosses at Cumbria County Council have introduced a new concession on CDs at the county’s libraries following a campaign by 53-year-old Tim Wilson, from Queen Street, Maryport.”
  • Isle of Wight – Volunteers step in to run Isle of Wight libraries – BBC.  “The libraries in Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin will be community-run from October.”
    • Freehold or leasehold transfers for loos and libraries still not finalisedVentnor Blog.  “Draft agreements have been provided to each community group and agreement on terms is being negotiated with each group. In order to ensure continuity of the library service Tenancies at Will are be used to enable the community groups to take occupation of the buildings. Cllr Bacon pointed out that the process had been far more costly than predicted and asked whether lessons had been learnt to avoid this happening in the future.”
  • Manchester – New chapter: £170m revamp of Manchester’s Central Library takes shape – Manchester Evening News.   “The ambitious project, due for completion in 2013, will open up the historic gem and expose parts of the building, opened by George V in 1934, that have been hidden from public view for years….It will make the library a destination. When people step inside they will get that ‘wow factor’ from the sense of space we are creating”
  • North Somerset – United against “unfair” public spending cuts – Mercury.   “A selection of speakers representing teachers, libraries, the criminal service and transport said the most vulnerable members of society would be at risk if the draft proposal is carried out.”… “libraries, youth centres and bus services could be lost unless volunteers take over running them.”
  • Northamptonshire – Visit your local library and change your lifeAbout My Area.   “New Change! zones are being launched in Northamptonshire County Council libraries next week (Monday 26th September).  Change! zones are a new collection of books covering everything from job seeking, skills improvement, business start up, volunteering opportunities, financial information and building confidence.”
  • Oxfordshire – Friends support library’s futureBanbury Guardian.   “Earlier this year the library, in Woodgreen Avenue, Banbury, was upgraded from a community library to a core library to protect it from funding cuts, but users are keen to take a proactive approach to ensure it is well-used. They hope this will prevent it being targeted by any future cuts.”  Friends of Neithrop Library formed.  
  • South Tyneside – Libraries lift ban on “too controversial” books – Shields Gazette.   “The series of books, taken off library shelves across the world for various reasons, go on display at The Central Library in South Shields and Jarrow Library from today. The event is part of the annual Banned Books week.”
  • Stockton – Stockton Library £1.9m refurb running “on schedule” – BBC.  “Councillor Ken Dixon said: “We are on track to reopen on 1 November, with work on schedule and on budget. He said: “Once the refurbishment is complete, residents will be able to call into one central point to access various council services, pay their bills as well as visit the new cafe and library facilities.”

Throw the book at library haters

432 libraries (346 buildings and 86 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.


  • 2011 Guardian and Observer books power 100 – Guardian.   The one hundred most influential people (authors, publicists, media …) on UK reading habits.  I don’t see a librarian on the list.
  • Bevan Foundation warns over “online exclusion” in WalesBBC.  One-third of those in Wales may not have easy online access “The researchers found nearly 200 computers are available free of charge in public libraries in Caerphilly county borough, but there are limitations on how useful they are, such as access not being available outside library opening hours and the blocking of some websites.” …””If people can’t get to a library, or they’re put off by how they’re taught, they won’t make the step to using digital services”.
  • Chance to strengthen public libraries – Daily Review (USA).   “One of the more counterintuitive developments of modern times is that public libraries have retained their relevance in the digital age. They not only continue to present the printed word in its traditional format, but serve as a universal, toll-free entrance ramp to the digital realm.”
  • Kid and Teens, start a new chapterNYPL (USA).   “Bring back your overdue book, check out a new book, and have your fines waived”

    “It is hoped that this national forum will help support local groups in building their campaigns to save library services. Campaigners from around the country will be facilitating workshops, and Phillip Pullman and Pete Challis from Unison will be speaking. Doncaster have been battling library cuts and reductions in service for a number of years now and will be able to share our experiences and offer advice, as well as learn from others in areas such as legal challenges, volunteer-run libraries and outsourcing/privatisation. ” Library Campaign ConferenceSave Doncaster Libraries

  • Libraries aren’t dying, they’re evolving – Shareable (USA).  ““People who talk about libraries dying out are the ones who remember the libraries of their childhood,” says American Library Association (ALA) President, Molly Raphael, from her home in Portland, Ore. “But the library of today is not the library of our childhood, and the library that children see today is not the library we’ll see in 20 years.”
  • Making volunteering more simple: the new “My Community Starter”Guardian (Advertising Feature).  Forthcoming website from Zurich aims to list volunteering opportunites by area.  “In an increasingly risk averse and litigious culture, Zurich understands all too well the myths and perceptions that can influence the public’s attitude to volunteering. Many are concerned about personal responsibility and accountability. At the same time however, the government has called on us to rally as individuals and groups to help build its vision of a ‘Big Society’; where communities are empowered to get involved with or run public services – from community centres and libraries to transport services and housing projects.”
  • Throw the book at the library haters Independent (Boyd Tonkin). “However, what if another explanation applied: that some benighted councils actually dislike libraries, distrust their users, and in particular loathe those uppity campaigners who dare to question their decisions? After all, they can and do dismiss these trouble-makers as “middle-class” (however blatantly misleading that is, especially in city centres), as if that amounted to any sort of argument. They may also claim that people can now buy all the books they want cheaply from Asda or Tesco; that everyone reads on computers or Kindles; that paper books mean nothing to fully-wired youngsters.”
  • Volunteering at ten year low in blow to Big Society Telegraph.   “Just 39 per cent of people took part in some form of volunteering in the last year, the lowest level since 2001, according to the Government’s annual Citizenship Survey. “


Dorset – Campaign group – Friends of Colehill Library.
Nottinghamshire – New £3.4m Mansfield Library expected to open Jan 2012.  

Local News

  • BlackburnArrest after man attacks librarianBlackburn Citizen.  “A man is alleged to have punched the woman in the chest after being denied access to a computer. When detained by police, he is again said to have become aggressive, injuring the officer.”
  • Bolton – Moment of truth for library campaignersBolton News. “results of a public consultation on the future of Bolton’s libraries will be announced on October 5 — a week before Bolton Council makes its final decision.”
  • Bradford – Library plan is chance to shop and borrow a bookIlkley Gazette.  “Plans to extend Burley-in-Wharfedale Library to create a new Co-op convenience store have been submitted to Bradford Council.”
  • Dorset – Future service provision and arrangementsDorset Council.   Nine libraries to close unless volunteer run.  “The council is proposing to provide books, computers, self-service facilities and staffing expertise to support those nine local communities if they want to take over responsibility for their library building – which could then also be opened up for other public uses. The value of this support is over £5,000 for each of the libraries.”
  • Isle of Wight – Island libraries to be handed over – Isle of Wight Radio.   “Five Island libraries will stop being funded by the Isle of Wight Council at the end of September. It has been confirmed that they will be run by volunteers in their own communities, apart from two which will be run by a charity.”… “All five will have free access to the council’s library book stock and will get broadband installed and paid for by the council. The new arrangements will save the authority around half a million pounds a year.”
  • Northern Ireland – Bookworms to unite against library closuresBelfast Telegraph. ““It is regrettable that Libraries NI are proposing to reduce the opening hours in the Bangor, Donaghadee and Holywood libraries.“I know these Libraries are well used by both young and old in the community and it is unfortunate that their opening hours are now going to be under review.” … ““Whilst I recognise that Libraries NI need to balance their budget, making such cuts at the behest of the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure could be the death knell of some libraries reducing visitors to an unsustainable level with the next logical step closure”.
  • Nottinghamshire – New Mansfield Library is fit for 21st CenturyChad.   “Workers were busy installing enough shelves to display a massive collection of 35,000 books at Mansfield’s gleaming new library this week. Bosses behind the £3.4m project say they want to create the ‘wow factor’ at the library when it opens its doors for the first time in January.” … “The facility is expected to attract 300,000 visitors every year and Mr Gow says the revamp should increase the number using it by up to 30 per cent”
  • Somerset – Library campaigners hit their target and prepare for court – West Somerset Free Press. “Campaigners fighting to stop the closure of 11 Somerset libraries – including two in West Somerset – are preparing to take their battle to court after reaching a £9,000 fundraising target for initial legal costs.
    Watchet library user Rebecca Hird is being used as a test case in a three-day judicial review hearing in Birmingham which gets underway next Tuesday (September 27) ” … ““Not only have we received the financial backing from local people and library friends’ groups, but they have also helped by providing information and witness statements to the court countering the county council’s position,”
  • Pembrokeshire – Library services improveTenby Observer.   “A recent 2010/11 Assessment by the Welsh Government has found that the service run by Pembrokeshire County Council has achieved 11 of the 14 Welsh Public Library standards. This is an improvement on the nine standards achieved in 2009/10 and the six achieved in 2008/09.”
  • Staffordshire – New gaming club to launch at Lichfield Library  –  Lichfield Live.  “Titles such as Warhammer 40,000, Lord of the Rings, Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh will be played at the club at Lichfield Library.”
  • Surrey – Leader of Surrey County Council, Dr Andrew Povey, to stand down – Guardian series.  “The idea that he’s taken this time to look after his business is nonsense – he’s been kicked out. More than half of the Conservatives told him to go and it’s not the first time.”There was a vote of no confidence a couple of months back.Povey has been responsible for some of the most damaging and unpopular decisions of the Conservative administration – that’s pay and display and the libraries.”
  • Wirral – Library to celebrate centennial – Wirral Globe.   “Councillor Chris Meaden, Wirral cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “The role Wallasey Central Library plays within the local community is as important now as it was 100 years ago.” … “Winners of the library’s “100 Words” writing competition – which invited people to explain what their local library means to them, will be announced and Mayor McLaughlin will then unveil the painting and plaque.”.  John Hegley to speak.


A disappointment

432 libraries (346 buildings and 86 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.


  • AB 438 Will Help Save Public Libraries from the Privatization BeastCalifornia Progress Report (USA).  “As a public librarian, I believe that library services should be available to everyone, and this can best be done through a strong public library system. The residents of Santa Clarita did not have a choice or a voice in their City Council’s decision to privatize their libraries and how their tax dollars are spent but AB 438 will change that for other communities. With the help of CREDO and more than 71,000 Californians signed petitions in support of AB 438 and librarians along with public library supporters across the country joined them.”
  • ACE library report “a disappointment”BookSeller.   “Library campaigners have expressed intense disappointment with the Arts Council (ACE)’s first strategy document on libraries. with one claiming it is not “devised to meet people’s needs”… Desmond Clarke says it advocates replacing paid staff with volunteers,  Tim Coates says it missed a lot of important research – “There is no consciousness about the real issues that matter, books, operations, opening hours, and you have to have been living on another planet not to know what these issues are.” – CILIP are in discussion with ACE but fear lack of funding.
  • Amazon turns your local library into retail book chain – New York Times (USA).   “Amazon threw down the gauntlet against terrestrial competitors today by announcing that Kindle and Kindle app customers can borrow and purchase Kindle books from more than 11,000 local libraries in the United States. In essence, these first 11,000 local libraries just became a chain of local bookstores for Amazon’s catalog of virtual books.”
  • Local government’s “duty to involve” the English is being scrapped – Our Kingdom.  ““…it could easily lead councils to consult on everything regardless of whether decisions have already been made or not. This is a recipe for consultation overload, cynicism and a devaluing of consultation more broadly.”” 
  • Maximise the potential of your public library – Knowledge Network.   “Learn how public libraries can help local governments tackle critical community priorities such as economic development, public safety, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, education, and literacy.”
  • New trends in European Children’s Libraries – Eurolis.  Seminar –  “At a time when libraries’ educative mission is endangered and children’s literacy is declining, European experts present ideas and innovations for children’s libraries. This one day seminar is organised by Eurolis, the consortium of librarians of European Cultural Institutes in London and CILIP. The speakers will come from library services in the following European countries – UK, Germany, France, Portugal and Spain.”
  • On the other side of the counter at Winsford LibraryVoices for the Library.   Hannah Bailey, libraries officer for UNISON spends a day with library staff.  “Meanwhile on the counter, a constant stream of people were coming in and out, putting paid to the rumour that nobody uses libraries anymore. Remember earlier this year when John Redwood MP made some startlingly ill-informed comments about libraries after a brief visit to one? Anyone deeming themselves worthy of comment needs to spend at least a day in a library before drawing any conclusions. After all, a visit to an uncharacteristically quiet supermarket at 10pm wouldn’t lead one to conclude that modern retail as we know it is dead would it?”.  [Disclaimer – Winsford Library is the branch that I manage].


Local News

“Friern Barnet Library, Hampstead Garden Suburb Library and North Finchley Library are under threat of closure in the London Borough of Barnet.  Consultation has closed and Friern Barnet and Hampstead Garden Suburb are set to close 31 Dec 2011 unless local campaigners come up with an acceptable community option to saving the services provided at these libraries.” Barnet – Email to PLN.

  • Bradford – Library plan is chance to shop and borrow a book – Ilkey Gazette.  Ilkley-based company Fairbrook Developments Ltd has applied for planning permission to refurbish and extend the Bradford Council-owned Grange Road library. The plan, now available for public inspection and comment, proposes space for a Co-op store on the ground floor, plus storage, staff room and car parking, plus a first floor extension to house the library.”
  • Croydon – Fears over Croydon library plans – Guardian series. She argued this option [outsourcing] was the only way to keep all the libraries open and predicted the decision could reduce the cost to the council by £367,000 annually, while only costing £250,000, spread over two years, to implement. Asked to clarify how these figures were reached she was unable to provide details.”
  • Dorset – Dorchester: Dorset voters stand up for democracy – View online. Dorset for Democracy (D4D) rose from the ashes of the former Fair Votes for Dorset group, at Thursday’s meeting at the George Hotel in Bridport. The protest group plans to address a “democratic deficit “ in local government, which has led to unpopular plans going ahead against the wishes of the community. The building of new district council offices in Charles Street in Dorchester and the closure of nine community libraries in the county have angered members in particular.”
  • Hounslow – 40% reduction in spending on new books “In its statement, the Council said that John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS),who hold the contract for staffing, building maintenance and other services, were working over and above the hours contractually required and there was a savings opportunity to review opening hours and reduce them accordingly. A total of £ 1.25 million had been saved using the company over the past three years. The Council said the target of £ 540,000 savings could be made with ” limited impact” on the library service.”
  • Isle of Wight – Council confirms library handovers – IWCP.  “The council will continue to run Cowes, Newport, Ryde, Sandown, Ventnor and Freshwater libraries, while community groups will take over at Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin. The council has said the new arrangements will save around £500,000 a year.”
    • Hoarder’s attic at Ventnor LibraryVentnor Blog.  “Members of FVL and users of the library have cleared their own ‘attics’ and donated a variety of items for gardening, crafts, household, ladies wear, health and beauty and of course books. The proceeds will go towards funding projects in the Library.” 
  • Lincolnshire – Scheme to introduce children to books – Sleaford Standard.   “A new initiative will help introduce children to the wonderful world of books. The Bookstart Bear Club has been designed to encourage families with young children to make the most of their local library. The club is open to children aged up to the age of four, with members receiving a paw print stamp each time they return a book or attend a story or rhyme time activity in the library.”

  • North Yorkshire – County Council axes mobile librariesCraven Herald and Pioneer.  “As part of the savings, 10 out of 11 vehicles that served more than 800 villages have been taken off the road. The remaining “supermobile” library, which is equipped with internet-enabled computers as well as books, has been spared.” … “Library user Mary Vineall, from Hebden, said she was “saddened and appalled” by the cutbacks. She said: “This is a service which provides a lifeline to many people in remote villages up and down the Dales. Many clients are elderly and have no cars. Numerous mothers collect books for children to encourage them into the joys of reading.” 

“We all need to do our bit for society; I (like many others nationally) have been giving up hundreds of hours to ensure we keep our small library running a normal service. Time I could have spent with my baby girls & wife. It has actually cost me time & money. I’m sorry to say this but you & the rest of the Taxi users in OCC are becoming a parody of fair play & decent public spirit. You all seem to want a BIG society but not actually get involved. Let me remind you people have lost their jobs, are losing their public services & you have “not the slightest intention of getting on a bus or a tube train”?” Oxfordshire – From our Oxfordshire correspondent – Alan Gibbons.  Council spends £25k per month on private transport for councillors.  

  • Oxfordshire – Villagers sing out to save their libraryOxford Mail.  “More than 80 Old Marston residents joined by children’s songwriter Nick Cope, took part in a sing-in to save their library.  The musical session was organised by the Save Old Marston Library group over Oxfordshire County Council’s plans to have volunteers run it two-thirds of the time.”
  • Surrey – County Council implodes – SLAM.   “The Deputy Leader of Surrey County Council (David Hodge) was dismissed on Monday and the Leader (Andrew Povey) resigned last night. The library plans and the car parking issues are believed to be the major factors in these events.” … “Take the day off work, cancel your dentist appointment, take friends in your car – tell everyone.  We must stop the library plans – we must stop Surrey County Council – we must act NOW! Next Tuesday (27th) 2pm at County Hall, Kingston – be there – be there early.”

Special Post – Big Societese

“The biggest transformation in the history of Warwickshire’s Library Service is underway.  Warwickshire County Council is offering local people/community groups who are interested in helping shape their local library service the opportunity to run their own community library service to suit local demand.  Communities have been given time to work up local solutions for their libraries, a report will go to Warwickshire’s decision-making Cabinet in October.

If your library authority has already established ‘Community Run Libraries’, what data do you capture for these libraries, either through your library management system or directly from the staff/volunteers at the Community Library and are they set targets?”  Posting on Library bulletin board LIS-PUB-LIBS, 22nd September 2011

The original post on “Performance Data – Community Libraries” is a very interesting message but may not be fully understood on first reading. It is part of a new phenomenon that is evident in many councils, in the media and (especially) in government papers. I like to call it Big Societese. While initially confusing, after sustained exposure to it at least some sense can be made. Having made intensive study of similar wordings while reporting articles for Public Libraries News, I humbly submit the following attempt at a translation in order to ease others into a better understanding of any future communications from such speakers:

“The biggest transformation in the history of Warwickshire’s Library Service is underway.” = “The biggest cuts in the history of Warwickshire Library Service are under way”

“Warwickshire County Council is offering local people/community groups who are interested in helping shape their local library service the opportunity to run their own community library service to suit local demand” = “Warwickshire County Council is forcing local people/community groups who use their local library to both continue to pay for libraries in larger towns that are far away from them and to pay for/work for free in their own now-unfunded local library, or we will close it”

“Communities have been given time to work up local solutions for their libraries, a report will go to Warwickshire’s decision-making Cabinet in October” = “Local people have been given barely one more month to work out how they are going to keep their library open, probably by replacing paid and skilled staff with anyone who has a spare hour, before Warwickshire’s decision-making Cabinet tries to evade its legal responsibilties in October”.

“If your library authority has already established ‘Community Run Libraries’…” = “If your library authority has already blackmailed local people to do your work for you for free…”

“… what data do you capture for these libraries, either through your library management system or directly from the staff/volunteers at the Community Library and are they set targets?” = “… please help us as we do not know how to implement these unprecedentedly swift and deep cuts forced on to libraries and, being unable to work out how to even supervise such a system in the unrealistic timescale provided, want to copy from someone else”.

Let me be clear. I mean this in no way as an insult to the originator of the post, or other people involved who have to use such language as a part of their jobs. I really feel for the difficult situation in Warwickshire, and up and down the country. It is hard not to empathise for those people whose love for libraries will soon be twisted into a demand that they do unpaid work in them. It cannot be easy for those people whose hard task it is to justify such cuts to the communities involved while knowing what the real situation is, that everyone else knows what the real situation is, but that they still have to put as positive a spin on it as possible, or they will lose their own post in the next round of cuts. Most of all, I feel for those people who currently work in the libraries in such places that will doubtless soon be jobless .

In such an authority, to survive, one has to write this way, to survive and to fit in with the new order.

However, those of us who are not currently in such a situation should not let such language pass for fear of succumbing to it. There is an almost Orwellian doublespeak, sometimes one fears even a doublethink, involved. Since when did “community” mean “run by the unpaid”? In such a circumstance, it is the task of us all to challenge, lest by not doing so it becomes easier for those politicians in other parts of the country, or in our own neighbourhoods, to do the same.