Amazon have launched a highly limited ebook lending service in the USA.  You have to pay for it (it’s part of a $79 p.a. package plus cost of Kindle in the first place), can only lend one book at a time (although loan period is unlimited) and none of the biggest six American publishers are supporting it.  Yet, such is the power of Amazon (“Soon To Have A Monopoly On Books Near You”) that libraries are worried.  However, at the moment, they should not be. Amazon is to be feared for many reasons, but not for starting to do something which libraries do so much better.

428 libraries (339 buildings and 89 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.
Things you can do today


  • Amazon launches Kindle lending library for USBookSeller.  “Russ Grandinetti, vice-president of Kindle Content, said the move into book lending had followed its recent offer of Prime Instant Video, which offers film and television to Prime members. He said: “We’re excited to expand that investment to books—with this launch, we expect three immediate results: Kindle owners will read even more, publisher revenues will grow, and authors will see larger royalty checks.”.  Comments make clear that none of the “Big Six” US publishers have signed up as yet.
    • Amazon starts lending books but Head of ALA says libraries still offer best value – Digital Shift (USA).  “The Amazon collection, to start, is small at about 5000 titles, and access is limited to those who both own a Kindle device and also subscribe to the Amazon Prime fast shipping and video streaming service, which costs $79 a year.” … “A user can borrow one book a month, with no due date, and any notes or highlights are saved even after the book is returned in case the book is later re-borrowed or purchased. When a new book is borrowed, the previously borrowed title disappears from the device.”
  • Axeing region’s vital music library will only create discord – Yorkshire Post.   Long letter showing how terrible the closure of specialist library would be.  “It has helped launch the careers of thousands of professional musicians during their preparatory years of learning and exploration. We cannot allow this national resource to be stopped because it is not considered cost effective to be moved to the new library facility planned for YLI.”
  • Espresso Print-on-Demand book machines making inroads at public librariesDigital Shift (USA).  “Patrons will be able to print books on demand for a fee—in the range of about $8 to $12 for a 200-page book. The EBM’s database, EspressNet, currently includes some four million public-domain titles—including many from Google Books—as well as 2.8 million in-copyright works from publishers, with more on the way. (SPL licenses the database at a cost of $25,000.)”.  However, machines cost $151k each.
  • Libray usage: worse to come unless councils change course – Voices for the Library.  “These figures are particularly significant as in the previous years library issues had remained stable.  In fact, both 2008/9 and 2009/10 saw higher book issues than in 2007/8.  So, after two years of stabilisation (if not slight growth), why has there been a sudden drop in book issues now? The answer is, of course, obvious. Since the 2009/10 figures were reported, there has been a steady and determined assault on our public libraries.”
    • Library usage falls as branches closeGuardian.   “”The great scandal is that opening hours are being slashed to ribbons,” said library campaigner and twice Carnegie-shortlisted author Alan Gibbons. “If communities don’t know when a library is open how can adults and kids use them? When councillors reduce opening hours they are starting a self-fulfilling spiral of decline. The main responsibility for this is the dismal failure of leadership at the DCMS.”.  Article largely follows Alan Gibbons while, strangely, giving prominence to the relatively small number of libraries closed.
    • Library campaigners: CIPFA stats “will get worse” – BookSeller.   ““These figures are really for the period before the major cuts started. We have a very serious situation. People within the profession are totally demoralised.” However, he added: “It doesn’t have to be like this. The sector desperately lacks leadership. We need advocacy. Several successful authorities have been bucking the trend – it can be done.”
    • UK library visits fall by 7.5 million – BBC. Summarises the more depressing aspects of the CIPFA figures, also mentions Brent.  “Meanwhile, figures from Nielsen BookScan data suggest that sales of printed books in October fell 7% from the same month last year.”

“No brownie points for the DCMS however. The government is running down the service at an alarming rate. It is using the spurious cover of ‘localism’ to drive what is in reality a centralist agenda. Cut funding, refuse to intervene to implement the 1964 Libraries Act then throw up your hands and whine that it is your local council that is responsible. Politically quite clever in a Machiavellian kind of way and morally indefensible. The British public deserves better. You get what you pay for” Alan Gibbons

  • Should we close our libraries?AM1150 (Canada).   “So far this year 428 libraries have been closed or are facing closure in the U-K but here in B-C it’s a different story. While we haven’t shut any libraries down the debate rages on whether libraries and books are still being used, or whether it’s moved to the digital age.” … “There has been no move by the Canadian government to show they are planning on shutting libraries, but the closures in the U-K but be an indication of things to come.”
  • There is no frigate like a book and no harbour like a library – Sara Paretsky (USA).   Urges people in Chicago to help save their library service.  “Libraries in every jurisdiction in this country and in the UK are under similar threat.  If you live outside Chicago, the American Library Association can help you find out your library’s status, and how to take action to protect it.”


Bedford £229k investment in self-service, computers and study areas.  
Bradford – Addingham Library volunteer-run since 1/1/11.  Denholme and Wrose will be volunteer-run by end of month.
Calderdale Central Library may be replaced by entirely new building in regeneration plan.
Fife – Libraries/theatres/archives/arts/museums to be turned into a Trust. £639k expected to be saved per year due to tax avoidance.
Islington –  £565k investment Self-service to be installed in all branches to save £250k per year via losing staff.
Stockton – £1.29m spend on Central Library: now reopened with council “one stop shop”, self-service, technology suites.

Local News

  • Bedford – Borough council library modernisation programme – About My Area.  £229k for self-service, Central Library will have more study space and computers.  ” “Many local authorities have been forced to make library closures, but despite severe budget constraints we are investing in our library service and have not closed any of our libraries. Bedford Central Library will close for a temporary period only, and we hope that future visitors will enter its doors in anticipation to see the new look library, which will be even easier to use. The library will continue to offer a wonderful place to enjoy a book or to work and study.”
  • Bradford – New chapter as volunteers take over at Addingham library – Ilkley Gazette.  Addingham Library became volunteer run on Tuesday 1st November.  “The library is now open for more than twice the hours it was under Bradford Council management, and has around 40 volunteers. Addingham was one of five libraries earmarked earlier this year for closure under Bradford Council cutbacks.”.  Hours “doubled” from 6.5 to 13 hours per week. 40 volunteers involved.
  • Brent – Private Eye comments on Brent crisis – Private Eye (via Alan Gibbons).  Notes inaction by Government ministers.  “As well as starting to empty and board up the libraries, which remain closed until the appeal next month, Brent cancelled many of the events of “Word Up”, a borough-wide literary festival taking place in those libraries around Children’s Book Week. These events included making heritage collages, treasure hunts and a talk entitled “Yes you can!” For many people in Brent who want to use a public library, the answer is now: “No, you cant!”
  • Calderdale – Council’s plan for multi-million pound transformation of centre – Yorkshire Post. “the council wants to create a new central library and archive next to the Square Spire and linking into the historic Piece Hall – itself the subject of a £16m redevelopment if Lottery funds allow.” … paid for by selling other council buildings.  Old library will be demolished.  ““While local authorities across the land are struggling to keep their libraries and archives open, Calderdale is about to embark on an exciting development which will see a completely new and purpose-built library and archive. ” 
  • Cornwall – “Burn bible” display withdrawn – Pirate FM. Bodmin library display showing books that should be burnt (chosen by customers) showed Mein Kampf but also the Bible.  Local christians complained and library withdrew display.  [Freedom of speech and impartiality fo libraries both do not come out well in this article – Ed.]
  • Fife – A culture of Trust – Fife Today.   “The new trust will manage and operate libraries, arts, museums and archives on behalf of the Council, as well as theatre provision in the Kingdom, for ON at Fife (Adam Smith Theatre, Rothes Halls, Lochgelly Centre and Carnegie Hall) and The Byre Theatre. It will be the fourth trust to be set up in the Kingdom, joining those for Sports and Leisure, Golf, and Coast and Coutryside.”
  • Gloucestershire – New hope for Moreton library – Tewkesbury Admag.   Hours slashed earlier this year.  Hoped that opening building to other groups would extend.  ““The county council is investigating the possibility of the library premises being shared with other bodies. They could open Moreton library up to the original hours.””
  • Hertfordshire – Libraries to be loaned out of hours – Comet.   “Herts County Council (HCC) is proposing to offer library buildings to groups out-of-hours, and is now in a position to start looking into pilot schemes, although a spokesman said the council did not yet know where these would be.”.  Worries over this ensuring recently savagely cut (by one-third) opening hours stay in place despite previous assurances that they would rise again when times improve, confusion about when libraries are open, concerns over security.
  • Islington – Self-service could make Islington libraries like supermarkets – Islington Gazette. “Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition, said: “The next thing we know, libraries will be run by Tesco. It will be much more impersonal and soulless. Our libraries have always prided themselves on the personal touch and that’s what residents like and expect.”.  Council says ” “We are keeping all 10 libraries open and spending the same on books. If things get better, we have retained all our libraries and would be able to increase opening hours again.”
  • Stockton – Services in one place as Stockton Library reopens – Gazette Live.  £1.9m refurbishment, with council services on first floor (meaning four council desks elsewhere close), more self-service.  “There is a specialist technology suite for blind and visually impaired people, another suite is dedicated to local and family history and a multi-media conference facility caters for up to 100 people.”
  • Suffolk – Libraries to need begging bowl to stay open – Tendance Coatesy.   “The Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), is a complicated means of community involvement. Why do we need a “middle-man?” Why does the County want to put a company in the middle, between the electorate and its elected Councillors? The County Council seems to be suggesting that this is better than the system we have at the moment. Is it suggesting that elected County Councillors don’t actually engage properly with their communities?”
    • Society to take over libraries – Newmarket Weekly News.   “The society would hold charitable status but be funded by a council grant.”.  Councillor says “We are not abandoning the idea of community groups becoming involved in the running of their libraries – we have found that many would actually welcome that.”