The decision on the Brent appeal should be made tomorrow afternoon.  Elsewhere, Bury, Coventry and Tameside have announced big cuts, with some closing and some just being hollowed out.  Coventry is boasting of not closing any libraries but seems happy to close some buildings and call moving some of the books into a doctor’s surgery as equal.  Oh dear.

I don’t cover much about CILIP (the professional association for librarians and some others) on this blog to a great extent, due to the sadly low amount of coverage it receives, for whatever reason, in the local or national media.  However, a question was put at the online hustings debate for its election of Trustees today (Thursday 10th) which may be of interest to campaigners, many of whom I know are disappointed by the lack of general overt support from librarians for their cause.  The question (1:02 to 1:10) was whether public librarians are to blame for the current state of affairs by keeping too low a profile.  These, in summary (please note the text is not verbatim), were the answers:

  • Mike Hosking.  There are high profile librarians everywhere who “make a tremendous impact”.  Public libraries have been badly served by MLA, by the DCMS and by ministers who have not “put their heads abover the parapet”.  Despite tales everywhere of library closures, behind the headlines, one of the clear things is we have a huge amount of public support.  Some libraries will close in the future and “I am not personally averse to some libraries closing”.  I have closed fifteen myself.  We do have to change and deliver things differently. It’s going to be a tough decade.
  • Sue Cook.  I have met some colourful characters that are putting their heads above the parapet.  We have been let down by politicians like David Lammy who used their position in the DCMS as a stepping stone, councillors too.  “I was disappointed in the MLA” – it did well in the museum sector but not in libraries.  Some librarians do believe that making no trouble will allow them to survive. The new generation of librarians don’t agree with keeping heads down. “We do need a higher profile, we do need a very very strong brand”.
  • Liz McGettigan.  “Yes, I do think we are to blame, to be honest”.  Anyone high profile is doing it in an isolated fashion. Even if we are high-profile, we don’t lobby and sell to the right people.  Our sector does not make it easy for us – we fall between the stools of Culture and Education, and libraries are changing rapidly.  However, librarians are getting better at advocacy.
  • Sue Westcott.  “I think we have to take some of the blame because we take some of the credit for some of the amazing things public libraries do”.  Sue uses public library as a user, not as a worker.  She has seen excellent use of imagination in local branches that boosts them.  However, “we have to stop being so politically naive”, CILIP needs to be less trusting of ministers (no minister, especially junior minister, is there to do anything else but to serve their own political career), need to be like professional lobbyists.  We can draw on the experience of CILIP members in political environments to help us.
  • Marie Cotera.  “I think we are to blame, yes, I do”.  We don’t know what we are and what we do so how are going to communicate that to other people? “We have too many names”.  How many people do we know not in the profession that know what we do?  What’s a “knowledge manager”?  We’re not politically savvy. We need to show how we contribute to a politician’s agenda. “I don’t think we understand how really important we are”.  Knowledge and information transforms lives so we are very important and we need to push that. “We are to blame and we need to sort it out sooner rather than later”.

If you are a CILIP member, vote with care. 

426 libraries (337 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


  • Calculating the value of a community’s library use – Swiss Army Librarian.  Type in usage statistics in left-hand box, provides the value to comunity in right-hand box.  Needs to be converted from dollars to pounds and some of the formulae may be different in the UK but a very useful.
  • Volunteers are only a stay of execution – Infoism.   “This policy does not present a sustainable solution and creates a two-tier system whereby those with access to a so-called ‘community’ library have access to a second class service when compared with those privileged to live near a fully funded public library”


Bury – £540k cut plus £60k school libraries cut.  Some libraries may close
Coventry “Many” library buildings could close and transfer into “schools, shops, or doctor’s surgeries.”. Canley, Stoke, Radford, Earlsdon and Hillfields mentioned [not counted as “under threat” as yet until more information is received – Ed.]
Tameside – £900k cut from £3.5m budget, of which £200k already found from job losses.  At least one branch, such as Dukinfield, may be closed.  May use volunteers. Consultation starting November 17th until mid February.

Local News

  • Brent – Judges hear library closures appeal – Press Association. “Three judges are being urged to overturn a decision of a High Court judge who recently rejected the claims of campaigners that the closure decision was “fundamentally flawed and unlawful”.”
    • Appeal for Brent libraries to be heard today in High Court – Harrow Times.  
    • Library closures: Councils “shirked duties” – BBC.  “Ms Rose said they would be querying “whether Brent breached its duty under the Equality Act by failing to give any regard at all to the risk that its policy and the implementation of its policy would discriminate indirectly against Asians, Hindus and Muslims”. She continued: “It is is clear that there was a very significant risk that the implementation of this policy would give rise to indirect discrimination against Asians.”
    • Campaigners return to court in fight to save six libraries in Brent from the axe – London 24.   “Ms Gee said: “We have to be hopeful. “If we lose the ball it will be in All Souls court. All Souls will have to speak up. It has to show that it believes in books and libraries.”
    • Council tells residents to use libraries in another borough – Preston Library Campaign.   “The Brent Council spokeswoman said it was “nonsense” that the council has been misleading anyone.  She said: “It is true that everyone living in the borough is no more than a mile and a half from a library, either in Brent or a neighbouring borough, and many residents choose to use a library in another borough. This was clearly explained in the proposals.’’
  • Bury – Libraries may shut as town hall wields axe in bid to save £23m – Manchester Evening News.  Survey of all cuts in Bury gives main prominence to libraries. “A full review of the library service will start next year. The council wants to save £540,000. A similar review in Bolton, to save £400,000, led to the closure of five of the town’s 15 libraries. Libraries services in schools will also be ‘re-modelled’ to save £60,000 more from the budget. The council stressed that a public consultation would be launched before any savings are confirmed in libraries.” 
  • Conwy – Library service one of the poorest in Wales according to new report – North Wales Weekly News.  “The annual report by CyMAL (Museums Archives and Libraries Wales) on behalf of the Welsh Government reveals that Conwy only achieves six of the 14 Welsh Public Library Standards (WPLS).”…”The report sternly concludes that the Welsh Government expects to hear that the libraries modernisation process has been completed by the next annual return in July 2012, and that ‘firm decisions have been made in relation to future library provision’.” [Wales has Library Standards – England does not – Ed.]
  • Coventry – Libraries would share premises with other services – Coventry Telegraph.  “Many” libraries could move [reduce? – Ed.] into other buildings such as doctors’ surgeries but overall number of libraries will not reduce.  “She said Coventry would not be following Conservative-run Warwickshire County Council’s “disgraceful” plans to hive off nearly half its 34 libraries to community volunteers, whom she said would be unlikely to keep running services in the long-term.” … “She described Canley library as “grotty”, and Stoke, Radford, Earlsdon and Hillfields were among those deemed unsuitable for modern use or lacking facilities.”
  • Cumbria – Library service looks to councillors for helpNorth West Evening Mail.   Library usage has changed so service needs reviewing, “The committee had been asked to form a working group to assess how to modernise the area’s libraries. But at yesterday’s meeting, it was decided that the issue was so important that all 12 councillors from the group would examine the options. Cumbria County Council is aiming to revamp the county’s libraries and held a consultation this summer to discuss their future. More than 4,000 responses were received, and now the county council is taking the next step.”
  • Dorset – Charmouth: Residents in last ditch attempt to save library – Bridport News.   “I think the Conservatives have set their faith against it and although they base their arguments on what has turned out to be completely wrong information, I don’t think they will admit that and go back on it.” … may turn into withdrawn library “Proposed uses for the building include storytelling sessions for pre-school children, and working with the WRVS and Dorset POPP to run Wayfinders, a scheme for befriending isolated people.”
    • Civic leaders vote again for future of Dorset’s libraries – Dorset Echo.   “Only within the last few days have our communities finally been given some hint of what the council will offer us if we take over the running of our libraries.However, they have not told us enough for us to be able to make proper plans.”
  • Herefordshire – Future Libraries Programme: How this might affect Herefordshire – Hereford Library Users’ Group.   Worries over volunteers taking over libraries, loss of statutory protection, “hiving-off of libraries” to Trusts.
  • North Yorkshire – Library jobs to go – BBC.   36 FTE jobs (one-fifth) to be replaced with volunteers.  If not enough volunteers, libraries will close.  “Children’s author Emily Diamond has been campaigning to keep Bilton library, in Harrogate, open. She said she was “really sad” about the job losses, but added: “I’m pleased we can keep as many open as we can. However, running a community library service would be a “massive job”, she added.”
    • One fifth of North Yorks library staff to go – BookSeller.   “Scarborough borough councillor Nick Harvey, from the Green party, criticised the plan. He said: “Running a library is exceedingly complex, how many of these community solutions will be here in a few years’ time?”
  • Suffolk – “New Strategic Direction” alive and well – Rosehill Readers.   “Bemused and angry library campaigners watched yet another farce unfold before their eyes at the Suffolk County Council Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday 8th November. The Cabinet continued on its path of divesting the Public Library Service in Suffolk, despite claims to the contrary by Cllr. Judy Terry, who seems intent on turning a loved public service into groups of competing businesses staffed increasingly by volunteers.”.  Funding may be for only two years, increasing reliance on volunteers, cost may be more than in-house option.
  • Tameside – Some Tameside libraries could face axe in shake-up – Tameside Advertiser.  “”Earlier this year the council undertook a voluntary severance exercise and the library service took the opportunity to reduce staffing as much as reasonably possible. We are now reaching the limits of what further efficiencies can be achieved, without a reduction in the overall portfolio.”