The quote above, slightly amended, is from a character called Rincewind by a book from Terry Pratchett.  Of course, being somewhat sold on the benefit of public libraries, I would add to the “oppressed people” a whole list of others – including those with mental illness as mentioned in a post below – but the quote is a good one and needs reusing, again and again. 
Being I have not updated PLN since Sunday there’s a lot of news below.  The stand outs for me are:  Surrey is strongly considering a big u-turn on forcing volunteers to run their libraries and providing those that will be volunteer-run with more support; the US company LSSI has scrapped its always ambitious 15% target for running public libraries having taken over precisely none in the last year; the lack of investment in Angus and North Tyneside that is beginning to seriously inconvenience library users … hmmm, well, there’s a lot.  Have  a look.  More newspaper coverage than public libraries would normally receive in a month, in three days.  The ambition must be for all of us to continue tipping the quality of that news to the positive in the hard times ahead.
420 libraries (330 buildings and 90 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 are 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 government has shown no commitment whatsoever to championing public libraries. Its attitude is better described as craven and supine in the face of protests in every kind of community from deprived to wealthy, urban to rural, working-class to upper-middle class. It has seen three different authorities taken to judicial review (with more court cases inevitably on the way) and still it has not intervened. How can this possibly be said to represent a commitment to championing public libraries?”

  • MPs back Wakefield’s drama library – Wakefield Express.  A motion has been tabled in parliament calling on the culture secretary to protect a popular music and drama library in Wakefield. MPs in the Midlands, where 80 amateur orchestras and drama groups use the collection at Balne Lane Library, tabled the Early Day Motion last week.”
  • Online Information 2011 Day One – Walk You Home.  “We need to go to where our users/audience want to be and take our content to them (and it’s not that much of an effort to do so using a few different platforms); We need to be brave and take risks with social media and communicating with our users online; It can be very worthwhile to set something up and then ask for permission and forgiveness later! (Heck, if Westminster Abbey and the EU are going to take this kind of risk, then surely libraries can too)…” … “Librarians/Information Professionals have the opportunity to position ourselves as experts in the field of information retrieval, fact-checking and democratisation of information. We need to make ourselves useful, sell ourselves and gain recognition for this”
  • Privacy of the library patron, and mental illness –  Wordshore.  Examines the great importance of public libraries to those suffering from depression and other mental illness.  Those who think that a pound spent on libraries is a pound lost on social care should read this article.  Good comments too [apart from that useless one near the beginning from me – Ed.]

Image CC Philip Bradley from Flickr (via Walk You Home).

  • Public libraries turn up the volume (literally) – Huffington Post (USA).  Looking at ways libraries are avoiding the “shhh” stereotype.  “A makeover at the Chicago Public Library has turned one room into a teen-heaven, stacking the “YOUMedia” lab on the ground floor with video game systems”. “In the UK, they’ve been cranking up the volume even more. The award-winning Get It Loud In Libraries program has been active since 2005, aiming to showcase up-and-coming bands in libraries across Lancashire. Their mission: to allow “kids from 5 to 65 to check out bands at close quarters in a book clad feelgood venue before they hit the proverbial big time.”  See also Louder libraries for a digital age – Education Week (USA). 
  • Public Library News man wins IWR award Information World Review.   “Presenting the award at Online Information, editor of IWR Peter Williams said: “Ian’s work is a stirring story of how much can be achieved and how knowledge and information really is power. A well deserved winner. I would urge you to go take a look at his work.” [Gosh – Ed.]
  • Save the UK libraries? It’s beyond me, admits US guru – Independent.   LSSI: “A slug of judicial reviews and lack of tenders by local authorities, which are nervous of outsourcing their library services to independent providers, were among the reasons cited.”.  Interesting comments. 
    • LSSI “revises UK targets” – BookSeller.  Definitive targets not set for UK business, 15% target announced earlier this year now scrapped.
  • Should libraries stick to books? – The Star (Canada).  “Toronto’s budget chief questioned Tuesday whether the Toronto Public Library should be in the business of offering popular movies and material not in the English language.”  Calls DVDs and non-English material and becoming a community centre “program creep”.

“I guess it depends what you think a library is,” she said. “A library is no longer a room full of books. It’s the computers where people can come to get jobs, improve their education. Some of the videos are how-to videos. We’ve got the newspapers, we’ve got magazines. We’re working to get more e-books. Doucette said she sees the library as “a hub of a community. It’s a cooling centre in the summer, it’s somewhere you can go in the winter. You go to study. It allows students to do better in school, which gets them better jobs in the long run.”

  • Star writers to add “glamour” to library drive – London Evening Standard.  “Despite the closure of many libraries as spending cuts bite, an analysis by the Society of Chief Librarians estimates at least 40 new or significantly refurbished libraries will open next year including the Idea Store at Watney Market in Tower Hamlets. Tony Durcan, the society’s president, said libraries remained a positive service even if their staff were “stressed” by the demand for savings. “Those funding them deserve to see that there is a huge public demand for our reading role,” he said.” … “Joanna Prior, managing director of Penguin’s general division, said: “In 2012, we will stitch libraries into the fabric of our big industry reading promotions, push library membership and help tell a positive PR story about the importance of libraries to a healthy reading nation.”
  • Tell Bali Rai what you want to read, and talk, about – Guardian.    “Are you sick of vampires? Do you care about libraries or riots? What are you reading? Booktrust’s new writer in residence Bali Rai wants to know what’s important to you” … “At a time of great uncertainty and change for education and libraries (both school and public) I want to focus on the positive things that are being done to promote reading by Booktrust and others. I also want to highlight the incredible work being done to challenge library closures by campaigners like Alan Gibbons, whose Campaign For The Book I wholeheartedly endorse.”
  • Victory for the libraries in the High Court – LeftLion.  Reports on Glos/Somerset court case.  “…raise the question that there is a greater need for libraries to be involved in communities to help support schools in reducing this shameful statistic. Let us not forget that the library is not just about supporting literacy. It’s a place of ideas. The real challenge is getting this across to the public so that it becomes an invaluable commodity.”


Local News

  • Angus – Concerns over library provision – Brechin Advertiser.  Mobile library that replaced Edzell library closed in 2010 has been off the road, the new vans being promised to replace old ones not having been bought with the purchase date now pushed back to January 2012.
    • Edzell locals say library promised have turned out to be fiction – Courier.  “”As far as Edzell is concerned, ELAG feel strongly that the village has hardly been treated equitably. Staff hours in Brechin Library amount to 157.75 hours per week, while we have had only two hours per week in a decrepit library van — when it has been able to come — parked outside the A-listed Inglis Memorial Hall.”
  • Brent – Pop up library flooded with book donations as community continues campaign to save Kensal Rise Library – Save Kensal Rise Library.   “The pop-up library outside Kensal Rise Library has been flooded with books, as residents continue the campaign. Volunteers are maintaining a presence outside the library every day, symbolising its importance within the community.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Major boost for Little Chalfont Library – Buckinghamshire Examiner.   “The charity entered a competition run by NatWest Bank called CommunityForce. Community Groups and charities registered projects, the public then voted for the project or projects of their choice and the three in each region with the most votes received a cash prize of at least £6000. Little Chalfont Library received £6275 after being named in the top three in the Chiltern region.”

“I would like to thank everybody who voted for our project. We were overwhelmed by the public support that not only gained us a much needed cash prize but also demonstrated the community support for a library that is entirely managed and run by unpaid community volunteers.”

  • Calderdale – MP slams council for not consulting over new library  – Halifax Courier.  “… council is risking a huge public backlash by rushing into building a new library in Halifax without fully consulting users, the town’s MP has warned.”.  Lots of comments.  
  • Camden – Volunteers raise £60,000 to save library – London Evening Standard.  “More than £60,000 has been raised in a week including “around 10″ four-figure pledges and one offer of £35,000. The aim is to raise a £1.2 million endowment fund so that the interest and other money from letting and activities will provide enough to guarantee the future annual income.”
  • Conwy – Public libraries might be sited in schools – North Wales Pioneer.  “Schools, community centres and volunteers could be asked to help pitch in with library services. A report to Conwy County Borough Council’s Customers Overview and Scrutiny Comittee today (Wednesday), suggests the council widens its library services from its standard sites to schools and colleges, as suggested by the public.
  • Croydon – Schools, libraries and hospital all affected by strike action in Croydon –  Croydon Guardian.  “The council expects libraries, including the central library in Katharine Street, Thornton Heath, South Norwood and Bradmore Green to be open but could run a reduced service.”
  • Cumbria – DVDs return to smaller Cumbrian libraries – News & Star.   “The u-turn comes following public feedback on the withdrawal of the service around 12 months ago when the county council said it was concentrating on developing it in the larger ones. It has decided to bring the service back, following more than 4,000 responses from the public.”
  • Dorset – Hope remains for library supporters – Dorset Echo.   ““Now, at long last, the parliamentary committee which oversees his [Jeremy Hunt’s] department [DCMS] has taken action. It has called for a review of the way in which the minister exercises his powers to safeguard libraries.”Ad Lib is now urging supporters of Dorset’s threatened libraries to have their say in the inquiry by emailing to demand that the law is strengthened to protect people in rural areas.”
  • Gloucestershire – Peter Arnold: “Closing any our libraries is a sinFoGL.  “To close the door on any one of [our libraries] is a sin, and a blow to our society and to civilisation itself” “Libraries are a great repository of knowledge, and therefore of learning. If you want to know anything about anything you can learn it, with a little help, via your local library, and this is especially so since the introduction of computers”

It was Terry Pratchett who wrote that, “if you want to free an oppressed people, then build a library and leave the door open.” He was right”

  • Hertfordshire – Borehamwood library gets grant to extend opening hoursThis is Local London.  “It is hoped the extra opening hours will help literacy levels in the area and encourage parents to bring their children to the library to read together.” 
  • Neath Port Talbot – Library service turning over a new leaf – This is South Wales.  “Head of partnership and community development Russell Ward said the council spent £202,000 on stock, £47,000 less than required, though it had made small but significant increases to its book fund. Mr Ward said the authority was also taking action to address the matter of staffing.”
  • North Tyneside – Plans put on hold yet again – News Guardian.   “Councillors had been asked to approved plans to borrow £2.7m to spend on refurbishing North Shields Central Library and creating a joint service centre.”
  • North Yorkshire – Secure future for libraries one step closer after vote – Ripon Gazette.   “LIbraries in Boroughbridge and Masham are one step closer to a secure future after county councillors approved proposals for volunteers to play a part in running the facilities.” … “In Masham the library is set to move from its current home to a room in the community office, where it will be run by the community office staff and team of volunteers with support and some funding from the county council.”
  • Northern Ireland – Library cuts “not done deal”: chief executive – Carrick Times.  Greenisland and Whitehead opening hours may be cut but consultation may still stop this. 
  • Northumberland – Mobile library service under review – Berwick Advertiser.   “Coun Neil Bradbury, executive member responsible for libraries, said: “We are suggesting some proposed changes to the service, with the ultimate aim of creating a better, and more consistent service for all of its users and safeguarding the long term future of the mobile library service.“We feel there is scope to revise the timetable and make the savings required, without detriment to the service,” he added.”
  • Southwark – “Super library” in Southwark opens its doors – BBC.  “The £14m Canada Water Library, opened by Southwark Council, will hold 40,000 books, CDs and films. It will also be host to theatre performances, meetings and evening courses. Council bosses claim the library is the “shape of libraries to come”.

“Our libraries have been well managed over a long period of time and what we’ve managed to do is listen to people. Over 6,000 people said they would rather we did things like reduce hours or use volunteers than close libraries. That was enough people saying libraries were important.”

  • Surrey – Plan for more community-run libraries is scrapped – Get Surrey.   “Cllr Hodge said he had listened to people’s views since being elected as leader at the beginning of October, and speaking about the libraries announcements, he said: “I believe this will help those people out in the community who may have some concerns [and] will give us a much better plan going forward.” … “Cllr John Orrick, the Liberal Democrat communities spokesperson on SCC, said: “The Conservative county council has effectively admitted, by their U-turn on the plans for the second tranche of libraries, that the idea is disastrous. They should go further and announce that the whole plan is going to be scrapped.”
    • County Council drop second phase of library plan – BBC.  
    • Scales back on volunteer-run library plans – BookSeller.  “Hodge referred to the “world [economic] situation” and added “if at times we are being asked at some stage in the future to cut back on what we have already planned we may have to revisit things again”
    • Library set for community partnership reprieve? – Elmbridge Today.   “The authority is creating a Strategic Library Network, consisting of council-managed branches and others run by volunteers in “community partnerships”.”
    • Improving libraries: temporary closures – Surrey Council.   Woking and Stanwell are being converted to self-service.
    • Libraries, include Hersham, win reprieve – Guardian Series.  “Roy Green of Hersham Village Society, who was fiercely fighting the proposals with the Friends of Hersham Library, said it was good news – for the time being. He said: I think we need to tread very carefully because we’ve fought closure for the past 25 years and we think everything is ok and then a few years go by and we have to starts fighting again.”
    • Campaigners welcome library u-turn – Guardian Series.   Lib Dems: ““We have argued against two tiers of library, with no second class libraries, and we want professionals at the heart of Surrey’s library network.” …  Comment: “I think that the idea of engaging willing volunteers to supplement professional library staff is good, but it should be grown naturally, with support, and not imposed at the end of a gun-barrel.”
  • Wandsworth/Croydon – Councils to hive off library contracts –  “Bidders are being asked to pitch new ideas on how to improve local libraries and the additional services they could offer – like coffee bars, career advice or online movie streaming.”  Also see if external company/trust can gain more funding.  Wandsworth’s current management is bidding to run both councils’ services.

“We’ve been through this process in other areas like leisure centres, refuse collection and meals on wheels. The results have been improved services, new ideas and better value for money.”

  • Warwickshire – Shipston residents asked to give their views on opening hours – Cotswold journal.  “library consultation is in full swing with more than 1,000 residents expressing their views on the future opening hours of the county’s libraries. So far, the four-week consultation period has attracted almost 700 online survey responses and nearly 500 written survey responses.”
    • Whitnash urged to vote in library poll – Courier.   “At Whitnash town council last week, county councillor Bernard Kirton described the consultation as “inconspicuous” while Cllr Tony Heath said it was “offensive” that only 100 forms had been provided. Cllr Siobhan Mulherin said they should be given out at schools and elderly people’s clubs to increase the response.”