433 libraries (344 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.

Gloucestershire and Somerset Judgement

Coverage on Points West this evening (17th) and likely to be on Politics Show on Sunday 20th, although it is unclear as to whether this will be the regional or national edition.

The real question on this aspect of the case, it seems to me, is whether there was a conscious directing of the mind by the decision makers to their obligations under the legislation and in particular to the need to exercise the duty to have due regard in substance and with rigour and based on sufficient information, appropriately analysed.
In my judgment, on the preponderance of the evidence, no such due regard was had in substance. In order to discharge their respective duties, GCC and SCC should have undertaken a sufficiently thorough information gathering exercise and then properly analysed that information. In this case I conclude that both GCC and SCC failed to comply with that obligation, accepting as I do the substance of the Claimants’ criticisms made of their respective information gathering and analysis to which I have referred above. The Queen on the application of Kirsty Green -v- Gloucestershire County Council and others Judiciary of England and Wales.

“Judge Martin McKenna ruled that, as the closures would hurt disadvantaged groups such as the elderly and the disabled, which is contrary to the conditions laid down in equalities legislation, the councils would just have to scrap their plans and think again. And he also made it crystal clear – as he quashed the closure decisions and told the councils to pay campaigners’ legal costs – that he was sending a message to other local authorities intent on restructuring their library services. The councils had claimed “hyperbole, exaggeration and hysteria” on the part of the campaigners. But Judge McKenna, reflecting on how the case had been conducted, described the campaigners’ approach as “perfectly reasonable” and “proportionate” even in the areas where their legal claim had not been successful… a clear line has now been drawn on equalities law, and up and down the country, local authorities will now be closeted in urgent meetings with their legal advisers to review their library plans” Campaign against library closures has scored a vital victory – Guardian. 

  • DMBC must take equalities duties seriously – Save Doncaster Libraries.  The council should not force its own citizens to take it to court for failing to address their needs and legal rights. The council knows that these library cuts will impact those most in need – young people, the elderly, unemployed, the poor and those unable to travel, for example – so why is it taking such a risk? The council must scrap its volunteer plans and take responsibility for the provision of a library service across the whole borough, not just the lucky half. The law takes public sector equality duties seriously – DMBC can’t afford not to.”
  • Donaldson: Gloucs/Somerset ruling “best news all year” – BookSeller.  In a statement given to Somerset group Watchet Library Friends, Donaldson hailed the ruling “a triumph for the all those committed campaigners, for libraries, and for common sense”. But she added: “While it is admirable that the residents of Gloucestershire and Somerset were determined, organised and brave enough to go down the route of litigation, it is shameful that they had to do so. This costly process could have been avoided if the councils had listened to the arguments and above all if the government had fulfilled its statutory requirement to superintend library services.”
  • Dorset library campaigners cheered by Somerset court statement Dorset Echo.  “In Dorset there is no current legal action by campaigning group AdLib but a spokesman said it was still considering it after seeking detailed legal advice. Graham Lee, the chairman of AdLib, said the judge’s decision that Somerset County Council needed to pay more attention to the needs of dependent people meant that the decision to cease funding to nine libraries in Dorset was ‘rushed and ill-considered’.He said: “The parts of Dorset where most of the threatened nine libraries are located is much more rural than many parts of Somerset.” 

“The authority said extra research would now be done into how closures could affect vulnerable people. Council chief Peter Bungard said the judgement had shown that community-run libraries were perfectly legitimate. “We had a fantastic response from the community on all 10 libraries that we were asking them to run,” said Mr Bungard. “We have had some brilliant offers, which in all honesty could be better services that we could ever afford to run, and I really do want those community groups to stay around.” Gloucestershire Council “committed to library plan” – BBC. No real acceptance by Council that they did anything wrong. Council Leader Mark Hawthorneays that £2m would still need to be cut.  “”Some people might disagree with me and think that I should be cutting social services to protect libraries but I don’t think that is right and I am willing to stand by that.”” 

  • Landmark victory in Gloucestershire libraries battle – This is Glos.  “Gloucestershire County Council is now expected to draw up a fresh plan for library cuts. But it is understood the council will proceed with its plan and any consultation is likely to lead to a similar or identical scheme. Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FOGL) member John Holland said: “Quite frankly, the people have been treated with disdain by the county council. The proposals were deeply flawed and from the beginning many of us told the council they were likely to be breaking the law.” … “The decision will come as a hammer blow to the Conservative administration, which had insisted its plans were legal, despite repeated warnings from opponents.”

“But, despite the judgement, Councillor Mark Hawthorne (C, Moreland) said the council’s plan for community-run libraries was still “sound”. He said: “The most important thing here is that the judge said there is nothing wrong with our plans to transfer some libraries over to communities. We are very disappointed for the community groups who are lined up to take over their services, but our promise to them is that we will continue to work with them on delivering successful community-run services.” [NB. none of these community groups want to run libraries in preference to the Council.  To an uneducated ear, that does not necessarily feel like being sued, Cllr Hawthorne may here sound suspiciously like a man in denial – Ed.]

  • Library cuts stopped in their tracks – Counterfire.  Gloucestershire and Somerset Councils may well take the case to the Court of Appeals but for the time being this is an anti-cuts victory that has the potential to scupper the destructive plans of Councils across the UK.”
  • Save Bolton Libraries Campaign Statement – via Alan Gibbons.  “We welcome yesterday’s High Court ruling that planned library closures in Gloucestershire and Somerset are unlawful and call upon Bolton Council to reconsider its own planned closure of one third of our library network … We have made a strong case to Bolton council that older people, families with children and disabled people will all be adversely affected by these closures, especially where they do not have a car, or access to the internet at home, and we still do not feel these concerns have been properly addressed.”

Other News

  • Daunt: Booksellers face same “crisis” as libraries – BookSeller. “Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s “Four Thought” last night (16th November), Daunt said both bookshops and libraries have an important role to play in tackling illiteracy in the country. He said the benefit of libraries was “inestimable” in comparison to the “tiny amount” of money that would be saved by local councils closing them down. He said: “We are facing a particular and rather dramatic moment of crisis which we share with our fellow purveyors of the written word, librarians, for quite different reasons but coincidentally at precisely the same moment.” Radio interview here. “James Daunt argues libraries and bookshops should be vital social and cultural spaces.”

“”It seems to me a point of national scandal that element of our community is being imperilled and I think all of us should encourage our political masters, in whom obviously the decision ultimately resides, to recognise that this is a tiny cost to keep this inestimable benefit within our communities….You can be part of an ecosystem which has digital, which has this very impersonal internet offer which is highly efficient if you know what you want—bang it can give it to you, but it doesn’t give you discovery of a physical bookshop or [the] physical interaction a library gives you.”

  • Election EhustingsCILIP.  Now on Youtube, edited so one can play answers to specific questions.  The one on librarians being at least partly to blame for closures due to keeping a low profile is here.
  • Middle classes love libraries, says Dame Joan Bakewell – Telegraph.  “The baroness told neighbours she was a regular library user and her two children and six grandchildren had also signed up as members of Chalk Farm library. “It is crystallising part of this community, which is really not just about buying, shopping and eating, eating, eating,” she added.”It is about the people who live here and I will be appealing to everyone to do everything they can to help.”
  • Questions for political parties with responses – Lianza (NZ).  The professional library organisation in New Zealand wrote asking questions of all poltical parties prior to the general election there.  Here are the questions and responses.  All parties replied. 
  • Surefire, can’t fail way to prove your library’s relevance – 21st Century Library Blog (USA).  Forget quantitative or anecdotal, go straight for qualitative day one 9am.  “The only way to collect these data is to get up-close and personal with your customers, constituents, partners, stakeholders. You should be already, but in order to prove your value to the community – it is essential.” 
  • Why the NYPD are kidnapping books – New Statesman.   “It would appear that the New York Police Department has finally jumped the shark. One day after the eviction of Occupy Wall Street, the image that has shocked the world most profoundly — and I mean image in a purely theoretical sense, since a solid wall of state heavies, now part-financed by JP Morgan Chase, stopped the press getting near enough to take photos — was of police and sanitation workers tearing up the tent of the encampment’s extensive library, and reportedly tossing the books into dumpster trucks. I mean, books.”

 Local news

  • Bolton – January start for book collections – Bolton News.  Neighbourhood book collections, which are to replace five closing libraries in Bolton, will start as early as January. Bolton Council has said no libraries will be closed until their corresponding collections are up and running.”. 300 books for each collection point, self service other than one visit per week.  79% of online poll don’t think scheme will work.  Council wishes to charge rent, and repair costs, to any volunteers who wish to run endangered libraries.
  • Brent – Classical concert for libaries –  Save Kensal Rise Libraries.  28th November.  “Each Razumovsky member may be king of their chosen instrument, but they scale the heavens as a team. England’s sport teams could learn a great deal” The Times. TICKETS: £10 (£5 unwaged/children) from Queens Park Books Salusbury Rd, L’Angolo’s deli College Rd, Minkie’s deli Chamberlayne Rd, The Pop Up Library, Kensal Rise Library Piazza. Refreshments thanks to Mionetto Prosecco”
  • Buckinghamshire – Cafes bid to help preserve Great Missenden Library – Bucks Advertiser.  Local cafe wants to be based in threatened local library in mutually beneficial relationship.  Great Missenden is likely to become volunteer-run but will be bigger than any previous Bucks example, hoping to retain some paid staff.
  • Bury – £17.7m savings to be made before 2015 – Guide.  £540k cut to libraries. “The draft programme of savings is now subject to a 12-week consultation before the budget is set in February. More than 3,500 people took part in a Choices consultation to identify their most important priorities.”
  • Hammersmith and Fulham – Barons Court Library to house Citizens Advice Bureau – Chronicle. £400k to upgrade/add a CAB to previously endangered branch.  “Initially the council was set to shut Barons Court Library last year, but abandoned plans after an outcry from residents and civic groups.  Welcoming the decision, chairman of the Hammersmith Society, Melanie Whitlock, said: “We welcome any money being spent on a listed building provided that core library services are being preserved. There’s no reason not to have other services provided in the same building, as long as the provision of books is protected.”.  However, fears that books will be shoehorned into corner.
  • Kirklees – Council plan casts doubt on future of village libraries – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  Several smaller libraries feared under threat.  “A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “At this time of year the council embarks on the process of setting the budget for the coming year as part of the three-year budget plan to balance the books. “The financial situation having not improved, there is a continuing need for us to achieve efficiencies from across the whole range of services and councillors will have some difficult decisions to make. As part of last year’s budget settlement, there was all-party agreement to continue to fund the library service whilst requiring officers to review provision.”
  • Leeds – Village will decide library’s fate – Morley Observer and Advertiser.   “Following public consultation, it was said that Drighlington Library would stay open to allow talks over the possibility of it being run by the community. A steering group, The Friends of Drighlington Community, has now been formed and two meetings will be held this week where everyone will be welcome to given their views.”

“We have asked people around the village what they want to see at the library and they have said everything from coffee mornings to a computer club. But to make it a success, we need the community’s help. We would need staff – from people working on the counter to cleaners – even if people can only spare an hour or so a week, even a month, it will all help.”

  • Middlesbrough – Pupils launch campaign to save Marton Library – Gazette.  “Marton Library is earmarked for closure by the council under plans unveiled by mayor Ray Mallon to reduce its annual budget. The children of the school’s own council are now writing to Mr Mallon and council officers to highlight their concerns. Chairman of the school council 11-year-old James Wood said: “The library is so important to us. Lots of the children at school go there to get books to read and help with homework and projects.”
  • Oxfordshire – Save the back offices at all costs – Question Everything.   Oxfordshire is surrounded by other Conservative-run councils so the defence of the back office to the expense of branch libraries is not political.  Big savings can be made by merging behind the scenes officers/management but is not doing so.  Suspicion council is protecting its own officers and also keen to promote Big Society libraries even if other ways are there to save the money.
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries to lose 36 jobs – Whitby Gazette.   One-fifth of library workforce to be cut. “County councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive members for libraries, said: “We have listened to what people have said about how they want to become involved in the provision of this service, we have examined the proposals they have put forward for achieving those aims and I’m delighted to say that the result is a set of proposals designed to ensure a viable and sustainable future for our libraries.””
  • Surrey – Concerns raised over future of Hersham Library – Elmbridge Today.   “However, in the village itself, there are fears that volunteers will be asked to take control of the facility and that it may even close if nobody comes forward. The friends of Hersham Library have now organised a protest march on November 23. A public meeting is also being held on November 30 to discuss the library and its future. Local resident Roy Green said: “This is the third time in 25 years that we have had this problem in Hersham and had to fight to keep Hersham Library open. “It is a vital asset and a community centre. We are very proud of the staff we have got there. Some of the staff have been there for more than 23 years.”.  Estimates 100 volunteers needed to keep branch open.
  • Wokingham – Libraries’ future to be debated – Get Wokingham.  “The council’s executive approved proposals in June this year to seek a private organisation to take over the running of the libraries in a bid to save £170,000 a year. But the move prompted a huge backlash from library users and a campaign and petition were launched by Liberal Democrats Anthony Vick and Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey.”

“We are currently in a competitive dialogue process with potential library partners and cannot discuss details of these discussions. But many exciting and innovative ideas have come forward that could build on what is offered at our libraries.”  UllaKarin Clark, Councillor, Wokingham.