Compelling evidence has arrived today that library usage is not declining of its own accord but rather would be increasing if it were not being cut apart by budget reductions. Scottish libraries funding remained steady last year while English funding reduced by 5.1%. Scottish libraries usage – in terms of not only book issues but also in visits and in active users – slightly increased while English usage went down by 4% or so (averaging out visits, loans, issues).  It’s almost as if the UK is a scientific experiment on the impact of funding on usage, with Scotland as the control. The article showing Scottish funding is steady, incidentally, describes England’s libraries as “a service being slowly but surely torn apart”. English libraries are not naturally declining. Rather, they are being murdered.

We’ll see if its a case of library unjustifiable homicide in Brent on Friday: 

“The appeal hearing will begin tomorrow in the Court of Appeal at 10.30 am in Court 63, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London. Please try and come along for the hearing: the physical presence of those who case about cases like this makes a real difference.

The hearing will last 1 ½ days, possibly extending a little into Friday afternoon. The Appellants’ (i.e. Margaret, Steve and Nipuni’s) new QC, Dinah Rose, will open and close the case with the Council’s QC making her own submissions half way through. Dinah will argue the Council:

  • did not appreciate the likely impact of its plans to close libraries on particular groups in the community, such as Asian people, and without understanding this impact properly could not make a lawful decision compatible with its Equality Act 2010 duties to eliminate discrimination
  • did not assess need for local library services, especially that of children
  • was unfair to community groups who put forward proposals to save the threatened libraries.

We cannot say for sure when there will be a judgment, but it is likely to be forthcoming very quickly – the Court fully appreciates the importance and urgency of this case.”

John Halford, Press release from Bindmans LLP

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


  • Arts Council England launches Libraries Development Initiative – Arts Council England.  The Libraries Development Initiative will run between March 2012 and March 2013 and support around 10 projects. Each project will be awarded a maximum of £20,000, though amounts of funding allocated to each project will differ according to the scope and scale of work. Successful projects will explore how embedding arts and culture in libraries can improve people’s experiences, bring benefits to the library service and develop cultural provision in local areas. Projects will also look at new ways of working that will enhance libraries’ sustainability and relevance as vibrant hubs in their local communities.”… “Expressions of Interest should be submitted no later than 5pm on 2 December 2011.” .  Four designated bidding themes:

Part 1: new delivery models for arts and culture working together. This will look at new ways that libraries can work with arts and cultural organisations, with the aim of improving a community’s experience and its opportunities for engaging with arts and culture locally.
Part 2: coordinating partnerships to achieve national policy outcomes.  This will explore how libraries can expand their already established role in the local delivery of a wide range of national policy areas, such as through multi-disciplinary partnerships with other local authority departments, community groups, job centres and with arts and culture organisations.
Part 3: books and reading. This will explore opportunities offered by co-production projects for libraries as they respond to the challenge to ensure their books and reading offer remains engaging, relevant and exciting in a changing context.
Part 4: commercial partnerships. This will consider how libraries can respond to increasing economic challenges in an innovative way, exploring diverse funding streams and the benefits of a resilient mixed economy.

  • CIPFA Statistics show growing divide between Scotland and rest of UK Slainte.  Describes England as “a service being slowly but surely torn apart.” … Funding remained stable in Scottish libraries last year… ” the number of active borrowers who have borrowed in the last year and physical and virtual visits have all increased. “This is in stark contrast to the position which some English library services find themselves in.”
  • Do libraries give us a core service? – Minnesota Public Radio (USA).  The resounding answer from the many people in this article is “yes” apart from one who says “good” parents can afford all the books they need.
  • Fable for our times – Sintoblog.  Ladies and gentleman, it’s a shaggy dog story about privatising libraries.  Seriously.
  • Monster or saviour – CILIP Update magazine. “Ian Anstice looks at the highly controversial subject of private companies running public libraries, investigating services that have made the transition, at home and abroad.” [Article currently only available to CILIP members – and, yes, it’s me who wrote the article. Ed.].  
  • Occupy London’s library provides shelf helpGuardian.  “The improvised book-lending facility at the St Paul’s protest has held a prominent position at the demonstration from the start.”.  “”Books open up a different kind of space for discussion, a different atmosphere.” The Occupy London librarian, Nathan Cravens, is in reflective mood. The rain has stopped drumming on the tents outside St Paul’s Cathedral for a while, and passers-by pause to browse the table of books, chat for a moment and move on. “It seems that the books themselves attract people to have discussions on the issues and the solutions,” he adds.”
  • Reading to children has long impact, says OECD report – BBC. “Children whose parents frequently read with them in their first year of school are still showing the benefit when they are 15, says an international study.” 
  • Reading with child “highlight of the day for parents” – BBC.  “Some 98% of teachers questioned said they are either very or quite concerned that reading for pleasure does not take place often enough in some homes. The survey, carried out by pollsters Opinion Matters, was commissioned by the publishers Pearson and the reading charity Booktrust who sponsor the Booktime programme. This year the scheme will see 1.38 million free books given to reception-age children in England.”


Enfield –   No libraries will close (previously Ordnance Road, Enfield Highway and Bullsmoor were under threat). 20% budget cut, 17 staff face possible redundancy.
North Yorkshire – Malton and Norton libraries to merge, 36 out of 177 full time equivalent posts to be lost.
Westminster – 1000 book “Express” self-service Library opened.

Local News

  • Brent – Thursday: Day One of Appeal at the High Court, 10am The Strand – Preston Library Campaign.  Brent SOS library campaign will be at the High Court to appeal against the unnecessary closure of 50% of Brent’s libraries by the Labour-run council. 10.30 am at The Royal Courts of Justice on The Strand, London. Rally from 9.30am Nearest tube: Temple, Holborn and Charing Cross (in that order)”
“I will give an example from a local authority on which I used to sit. The London borough of Brent has decided to close half its libraries. The council put it to the public and 82% of people said that they did not like it. The answer from the council was, “We’re still going to do it.” That was the result of a consultation. The idea was overwhelmingly rejected, but the council are progressing with it. That would be a case, like my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park described, in which a referendum would undoubtedly go against what the local authority wishes to do. However, that does not change the fact that local authorities are elected to serve and to make decisions. They should do so even if those decisions are not liked by the people whom they represent.” Brent – Bob Blackman MP (Harrow East, Conservative), They Work For You.
    • Council accused of “misleading” public over libraries – Harrow Observer.   “Some 60 campaigners walked from South Kenton Tube station to their nearest Brent library, in Preston Road, on Saturday to show the distance some library users will have to walk after the closures.” … ““It was just over 2.2 miles, far longer than the 1.5 miles the council has been telling us our nearest library was and it was very difficult for someone of the older people and those with children that came with us. They have always said it was a 1.5 mile distance but having walked it, it definitely isn’t.””.  1.5 miles claim was including libraries in other authorities.
  • Enfield – Council pledges not to close libraries despite cuts – Enfield Independent.  “Cllr Charalambous said: “I wish to put on record that we value the invaluable service to the community provided by libraries and would like to see libraries better equipped and providing a 21st century service for all and it is therefore my intention to propose that unlike many other London boroughs that we retain all our libraries and that there be no library closures.””
  • Hillingdon – In my constituency, a library has been closed and a new one opened – They Work For You.  John McDonnell MP (Hayes and Harlington, Labour) questions need to sell off in such haste Hayes Library for housing.
  • North Yorkshire – Proposal to retain Libraries – Harrogate News.   “Under the proposals, North Yorkshire’s existing 42 branch libraries would be retained with the exception of Malton and Norton libraries. The proposals envisage the creation of a new branch convenient for both communities. The 41 libraries would be run either by the county council’s library service, or by volunteers from the local communities, or by a combination of both.”
  • Oxfordshire – Council joy at return of lost Iceland millions – Banbury Cake.   £5m may be returned.  ““It could go into a capital project such as a school or a road scheme, but it will not fund youth services or library services because it is one-off money.”.  Leader Keith Mitchell, suggests it would go into reserves.
  • Suffolk – Sound of rubber stamps as Suffolk adopts library planSuffolk Wordblog.  “Judy Terry, the cabinet member responsible for libraries, told us that 5% of £6m was £100,000.”… “The rubber stamp was applied to the creation of a co-operative to run libraries, rather than a slimmed down in-house service or a company wholly owned by the council on the grounds that it would save most money and would best meet the localism policy.”.  SWOT analysis showed lack of direct democratic mandate for new body.  No mention was made of Best Value Evaluation Report that said that an in-house service or a co-operative were serious contenders – Industrial and Providential Society agreed on.  Worries of secondary taxation brushed aside.
    • County Council agrees to transfer libraries to a new body – EDT.  “Yesterday’s cabinet approval will have to be endorsed by the next full meeting of the county council on December 15.”… “Abby Barker asked why the county was going ahead with the IPS option when 80pc of those who took part in a public consultation earlier this year expressed a wish for the service to be retained in-house.” – Council said such an option was “comprehensively evaluated” but IPS was chosen as best [presumably because of current tax advantages – Ed.]
  • Warwickshire – Have your say on Warwickshire Libraries’ opening hours – Coventry Telegraph. “A consultation will last four weeks from Monday. The consultation is on the future pattern of opening hours for the remaining council-run libraries after it axed 16 last month.”
  • Westminster – Express library opens in Westminster – Westminster Chronicle.  “The self-service library, based in the ground-floor reception area of the Archives Centre in St Ann’s Street, holds a small collection of around 1,000 books for adults and children.”.  Uses material and shelving from the recently closed St James’s Library.
  • Wiltshire – Additional opening session for Aldbourne Library – Aldbourne Net.   “Volunteers will be opening Aldbourne Library on Tuesday mornings from 10:00 – 12:00 starting on 29th November. There are currently 4 volunteers so anyone willing to join in and give a little extra help would be welcome. The volunteers have had their introductory training and will be “learning on the job” for the first few weeks with a member of library staff on hand for support.”