Ed Vaizey is backing a bid for Oxford to be the World Book Capital.  The bid appears to highlight the new Bodleian library, another university library and the bookshops but strangely does not mention the public libraries in the county, which are financially in such a bad way that they will soon have nearly have their branches staffed partially by volunteers.  In other news, Time Magazine puts librarians in the “not dangerous” and “not feared” category.  Spot on.

415 libraries (326 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.  The librarian professional body CILIP forecasts 600 libraries could be 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.

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“Sometimes you can judge a government by its approach to the marginal detail as well as to the big picture. Along with the public-library system itself, the Public Lending Right legislation that has since 1979 granted authors a tiny payment for each library loan counts as a national treasure. Since the amount seems so small (just over sixpence per withdrawal) and the annual pot so modest (around £7m.), it’s easy to assume that the benefit to writers is purely notional. Not so. In 2009, 232 authors qualified for the maximum payment of £6,600. For popular but non-celebrity children’s authors or genre writers, that’s not pocket money. Now the PLR rate per issue has dropped, from 6.25 to 6.05 pence, as the size of the yearly fund slips from £7.22m. down to £6.96m. Piddling sums, by Whitehall standards. Yet they matter: in practical terms for some writers; in symbolic terms for all. And the squeeze reveals a default position of carping meanness towards culture, even as an extra £40m. funds the Olympic ceremonies.” Whitehall dips into our treasure Independent (Boyd Tonkin). 


Local News

  • Inverclyde – Library move for social care and health staff  Inverclyde Now.  Central Library will move to ground floor at Wallace Place, Greenock at cost of £1.5m while old library becomes “the headquarters and main office for Inverclyde Community Health and Care Partnership (CHCP) although it will not be big enough to accommodate all CHCP staff of whom there are 405 at present. Work is expected to start in August 2012 and be finished by July 2013.”
  • Kent – Grieving families caused distress by new death-register system in libraries – This is Kent.   “Kent County Council ended the practise of registering deaths at Register Offices, including Aberdeen House in Ramsgate, from January 1. Instead people have to make an appointment at a library. KCC claimed the move was to give the bereaved “greater flexibility” but undertakers say it has meant people potentially have to travel further and that families are trying to register a death in a busy library.”

“Now we are hearing stories of people actually leaning across the counter to return books as a person is trying to register a death. It’s absolutely crazy.”

  • North Tyneside – Council hold library find amnesty – BBC.  As part of National Libraries Day, 12000 items are normally overdue at any given time from councils’ branches. 
  • North Yorkshire – Still time to give your view – Wetherby News. “Coun Chris Metcalfe, executive member for library services, said: “We have been working very hard over the last year to extend our partnership working with our partners, including parish, town and district councils. As a result of excellent partnership working, this means that in some cases we will actually be able to deliver an increase in library opening hours.””
  • Oxfordshire – Oxford bids to be World Book Capital – Cherwell.   “Oxford’s bid to become UNESCO World Book Capital in 2014 has received official government support. The move was confirmed by Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, who stated the government’s intention to back the bid, in the hope of promoting the benefits of books and reading throughout the country.”.  New Bodleian and Oxford Brookes Libraries mentioned in bid, as are bookshops, but not public libraries.
  • Somerset – Librarians in “lose, lose situation” – Mercury series.  Councillor says library closures and use of volunteers in libraries would have saved money that could have been used to buy books in surviving branches. 
  • Surrey – Another victory for campaigners fighting to save Surrey’s libraries – Eagle.  “We’re obviously very pleased because it means that we now have a chance to get Surrey to reconsider yet again.  We do not believe there’s a long term future for libraries run by volunteers only.  Volunteers are notoriously fickle, a lot of publicity at the beginning will bring people in and then they start to fall off and so on.”