“Disgusted to see that the grubby little Bookseller article rejoicing in the redundancy of public servants is even given the light of day on this website.” (Comment by Anonymous)

This comment made me stop and think today.   It refers to an article by Desmond Clarke called “Few tears for departing MLA”.  Leaving aside the fact that this website includes all articles of interest on public libraries, regardless of what they say and the beliefs they endorse [I would include passionate defences of the MLA here too] there is perhaps a misconception here.  Desmond does not attack individuals in the quango, just the policies.  His main beef is about the lack of advocacy.  Amongst other things, Mr Clarke says that “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.”.   It is this tragedy of lack of vision – by the MLA or by anyone else – that is having such an impact today.
All would agree with Anonymous (the anonymity, incidentally, is not cowardice – it is sensible when the job market is such as it is) that we should not rejoice in the redundancy of public servants.  They did not have much say in the policies that their employer decided upon and had to work with them or be sacked.  I concede, though, that I did rejoice when the leader of the MLA left for New Zealand but this was for reasons outlined in the article at the time.  There are many people in the MLA who were serious advocates of public libraries and understood the problems well.  Everyone, including doubtless Desmond, genuinely wish them well for the future.  We must not forget that it is individuals, real human beings, that are suffering in this rush to the cheapest solution.  Like all public librarians, I understand all too deeply what the threat of unemployment feels like at the moment.  Let us all hope that the policies of the Arts Council (that is taking over library responsibilities from the MLA but with a reduced budget of £3 per year, not the MLA’s £13m) does not instruct them to assist in closing libraries that could be saved.  There are daily new reports of public librarians (today in Calderdale and Plymouth) being made redundant and no-one has any wish for any more.

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.


Dewey Decimal Rap – Melvil.
  • Dog-eared paperback, newly endangered in an E-book Age –  New York Times (USA). Recession-minded readers who might have picked up a quick novel in the supermarket or drugstore are lately resisting the impulse purchase… while the publishing industry had expanded over all, publishers’ mass-market paperback sales had fallen 14 percent since 2008.”

 ““I always knew from that moment, from the time I found myself at home in that little segregated library in the South, all the way up until I walked up the steps of the New York City library, I always felt, in any town, if I can get to a library, I’ll be OK. It really helped me as a child, and that never left me. So I have a special place for every library, in my heart of hearts.” How libraries changed Maya Angelou’s life – Huffington Post.  

  • It’s about books, stupid – Good Library Blog.   Tim Coates has been in New York, librarians there shocked at UK situation.  US librarians after 2001 “decided to increase the book fund in community libraries, particularly the funds for buying books for children” as their main policy.  “By operating that policy, use of the public libraries, and ‘circulation’ – which is their word for book lending- have risen constantly. There have rarely been cuts and few closures. Even now, when the recesssion in New York is visible in the number of closed shops and business premises, the public libraries are clearly valued.”.  This compared to reduction in bookstock in the UK.
  • London Libraries Consortium now numbers 15 London boroughs and 3.6 million inhabitants as Merton joins –  “Although we already use Axiell’s OpenGalaxy, procuring through the consortium means we will now benefit from free upgrades to new applications and tools which are currently chargeable, such as the 24*7 automated telephone renewals hotline and acquisitions module. We were required by our councillors to prove a very strong case for savings and return on investment and were able to develop a robust case.”
  • Loss and recovery: librarians bear witness to September 11th 2001 – Youtube.
  • SOS for English Libraries – Alan Gibbons.  Full English translation of Le Monde article.  


Local News

  • Aberdeen – Lord Provost launches Aberdeen City Libraries online digital archive – Aberdeen council.  “city’s new online home for thousands of historic photographs and records at the Central Library tomorrow [Sat, 10 Sept]. The ‘Silver City Vault’ makes the Aberdeen Local Studies archive available free to remote users for the very first time.”…” addition, the website contains over 40,000 index records for events like marriage notices and newspaper obituaries and more than 10,000 articles from local journals covering individuals, organisations and events.”
  • Bolton – MPs fight back over proposed library closures  – Bolton News.   “The town’s three MPs are writing to Secretary of State for Local Government Eric Pickles to demand the £400,000 needed to save Bolton’s libraries.” … “Leaders from the three main political parties and the leader of the Save Bolton Libraries Campaign will debate the planned closures of five libraries in front of a “Question Time”-style audience.”
  • Bradford – Burley Library and store plans expected soon – Ilkley Gazette.   “Plans for a combined Co-op store and library building could be submitted in the next two to three weeks, a meeting of more than 200 Burley-in-Wharfedale residents was told this week.” … “The council’s principal libraries officer, Jackie Kitwood, assured residents the library was not under threat, and the council had no plans to close it.  But she said there was a £200,000 backlog of maintenance work, and the 1970s building was not “fit for purpose”.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Library process “like swimming through treacle”Bicester Advertiser and Review.  “Friends of Winslow Library are looking for volunteers to help on the group, and they particularly want to hear from people with professional skills or organisational experience.”  … ““BCC has only recently begun to define what support would be available if local residents want to take on the library and, of course, what it would cost. This process involves detailed discussions about ownership of the library buildings, the use of BCC staff librarians, IT, and reservation and management of the book stocks.”
  • Calderdale – Libraries on hit list again – Halifax Courier.   ““The council has already worked hard to make savings and this has been achieved through better technology, smarter working and keeping a close eye on the purse strings. But the reality is that we still need to make further savings across the service. The council will consider a number of options and we are keen to have people’s thoughts and ideas.”
    • Alan lends library group support – Todmorden News.   Friends of Todmorden Library – “Having decided to stage a festival, they wrote to Yorkshire-born Mr Bennett to tell him it was taking place and were delighted to receive a personalised doodle of himself, adorned with a “good luck” message, very shortly afterwards.”
  • InverclydePositive report about Inverclyde Libraries – Inverclyde Now.   Scottish Library and Information Council assesses libraries, with good results meaning eligibility for government grants.  “‘good’ for sufficiency, range and suitability of resources and staff interaction and support, and ‘very good’ for arrangements for access.”
  • Kingston – Hook Library – This is Local London.  “The budget for the Hook library has been increased by £38,800. The south of the borough neighbourhood committee has found £74,100 of savings out of its budget for August.” 
  • Plymouth – Academy uptake poses threat to city’s library service – This is Plymouth.   Schools Library Service under threat … “The service currently operates in 81 per cent of Plymouth schools but in the light of the rising number of academies, councillors expressed concern at the sustainability of the service.”
  • Suffolk – Mobile libraries come under scrutiny – Haverhill Echo.   “A six week consultation over the future of Suffolk County Council’s mobile library service, looking specifically at how users think savings can be made, was launched on Monday. Suffolk County Council currently spends £600,000 a year providing the service for around 7,000 customers. This equates to £7.70 per customer visit as opposed to £2.51 in the county’s built libraries.”

 “Rally outside shire hall warwick against library cuts in warwickshire, 8th october” Warwickshire  – Save SSLibrary (Twitter)