Some interesting news today from around the world, including contrasting views on privatisation from the USA and the UK.  In California, a bill which makes outsourcing libraries more difficult has passed the Senate, making it likely that it will become law.  By contrast, in Croydon – and to few people’s surprise – the decision to put the library service out to tender has been confirmed.  In Canada, the amazing pro-library campaign in Toronto has led to 47,000 signatures on a petition alreadyThis compares to a relatively pitiful 8,779 for the national UK libraries petition, due doubtless to the lack of any significant national media supportSomething big appears to be happening in Cambridgeshire about a u-turn in cuts that could help (or may not) reverse the 13 libraries under threat there.  Meanwhile, the date for the National Libraries Day in 2012 has been set for 4th February.  The 2011 day was a game-changer in many ways and we must all work hard for the one next year to be even better. 

Please sign the national petition in support of public libraries.

430 libraries (345 buildings and 85 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. 


“We are not a soft touch. Let’s remember why libraries matter. The National Literacy Trust says that a child who visits a library is twice as likely to read well as one who does not. South Korea is top of the international reading rankings. It is opening 180 libraries. We are 25th. We are closing 400. Libraries are places where you can read fiction, non fiction and poetry, access ICT, take part in local history, join a reading group, attend a story telling session, get help doing research, read a newspaper for free and access all kinds of services. They are free at the point of use.” Campaign for the Book Newsletter – The date is set, start your preparations for National Libraries Day– Alan Gibbons.

  • Crimes behind closed doorsIndependent (Boyd Tonkin).  My own crazy idea of the week would yoke local bookshops and branch libraries together in a joint stand against their various crises of survival. Why not place indie bookshops within, or next to, libraries? Since both locations now enhance their offer to users – from music and stationery to coffee for the former, or the latter’s strength in online information – the conflict of interest might not be as glaring as it first appears. In areas of dearth, “reading hubs” that twin-tracked public service and private purchase might flourish more than rival sites.”
  • “Culture can help to overcome crisis” says minister – (Poland).  “according to the culture minister, the Wroclaw Congress should bring about concrete decisions that should be implemented throughout the whole of the European Union, such as greater access to culture as well as subsidies for public libraries.”
  • Don’t mess with the library: Overdue books land Iowa man in jail – ABC (USA).   “Anspach, 28, checked out some 27 items, including books and other media worth $770.67, from the Newton Public Library earlier this year. The library attempted to contact him with phone calls and certified mail about the overdue books, but Anspach allegedly never responded.”
  • Few tears for departing MLABookSeller.  “Few
 will mourn the loss of a quango which delivered little strategically for the 
library sector despite a stream of initiatives such as Blueprint for 
Excellence, Framework for the Future and the two-year Library Modernisation
 Review…the MLA’s essential failure was that its board never developed and promoted 
a vision for public libraries in the 21st century which was widely
 understood and supported…Any hope of a 
radical transformation of public libraries has long been superseded by 
demands for extensive job cuts…”.  Fears Arts Council will have same lack of success unless it broadens its base – “The people who use libraries have been ignored to date. It is now 
essential that they be listened to.
  • “My library matters to me” Contest – Our Public Library (Canada).  “Each participating author will accompany a small group of contest winners to a Toronto literary site (such as a location in one of their books) followed by lunch with their group at one of the author’s favourite Toronto restaurants.”. [At the time of writing there was  46,977 signatures on Toronto petition compared to less than 9,000 for the national UK one.]
  • National Libraries Day set for 4th February – BookSeller.   “Author Alan Gibbons of Campaign for the Book, a prime mover behind the initiative, said planning was now underway for the “positive and celebratory” day in 2012 which is set to feature “Libraries Open Late” with extended hours, a library membership campaign, and events held leading up to the day and on the day itself.  ” …”Protest has made it hard to push through the most direct and swingeing cuts but the hydra of volunteer community libraries, closures, book fund cuts, staff redundancies and opening hour cuts is still writhing and twisting in area after area.”
  • Patrons picket to save Detroit library branch – Detroit News (USA).   “library commissioner Jonathan Kinloch said a final decision hasn’t been made and that getting community feedback is part of the process. “The Chase community has made a hell of a statement today with their turnout,”

Local News

  • Bristol – Jeffrey Archer launches Bristol’s Big Read – (Press release).  To celebrate the paperback launch of Jeffrey Archer’s Number One bestseller, Only Time Will Tell, Pan Macmillan have joined forces with Bristol Libraries, Reading Partners, Destination Bristol and Cyprus Well to launch Bristol’s Big Read. The aim of the project is to engage with local people, encourage them to read and discuss Only Time Will Tell and inspire them to explore their city.
  • Cambridgeshire – U-turn on cutbacks in CambridgeshireCambrdige News.    “Some of the most savage public sector cuts planned in Cambridgeshire, including raids on road maintenance and adult social care funding, could be dropped.”.  This includes a reassessment of the library review.  
  • Croydon – Library bids backed – This is Croydon Today.  “It is looking almost certain that an outside organisation will take over the running of Croydon’s libraries. Work has been completed on analysing initial bids to run the service and Councillor Sara Bashford, the council’s cabinet member for culture and sport, said: “The recommendation going to cabinet will be to go out to tender.”
  • Devon – New Cullompton Library is openThis Is The WestCountry.  “AN ambitious £3million ‘Devon Centre’ in Cullompton welcomed its first official visitors this week. The centre, called The Hayridge, has replaced two Devon County Council buildings in the town – the library and the adult learning centre.”.  Library four times size of previous, co-located with council information services.”The scheme also includes a cafe, courtyard garden and facility for people with mobility difficulties.”
  • Wakefield – Library closures put before the public – Yorkshire Post.   “A council spokesman said: “Since 1992 more than four out of every 10 library users have stopped going into the district’s libraries and new technology means that people may want to reserve and read books online, rather than visit their local library.””.  13 out of 26 libraries are threatened.