Kent, fresh from ending their school library service, have decided to (sort of) charge schools for joining up schoolchildren into the Library.  Amongst a whole package of glitzy sounding proposals (Ooh! Core Package Platinum!) there’s this…
Yes, indeed, Kent will charge schools for the privilege of getting their kids to join the library.  

It’s not illegal. They’re entitled to do it. They may feel under such gigantic pressure that they have to do it. This is a council that last year considered closing an awful lot of of their branches. It’s, after all, a great service to visit the school and get it all done. It’s also, of course, the start of a slippery slide into unequal services and the end of a free public library service. Expect more of these money-making ideas from councils around the country. Unless the Secretary of State starts making difficult decisions himself, rather than doing nothing at all.

400 libraries (310 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 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.

National: Lobby your MP to help public libraries, 13th March. Website: 
Twitter:!/speakup4libs, #librarieslobby, twibbon.

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether his Department plans to bring forward legislative proposals to amend or annul the Libraries Act 1964; if so, when; and if he will make a statement.

Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)

This Department has no plans at present to amend or annul the Libraries and Museums Act 1964. 

Hansard via They Work For You.
  •  Harry Potter ebooks to be distributed to public and school libraries through Overdrive – Marketwire.  ” Pottermore, the online experience and home of the Harry Potter eBooks created by J.K. Rowling and partnered by Sony, announced today it has entered into an exclusive worldwide eBook and digital audiobook distribution agreement with OverDrive for public and school libraries.”
  • Libraries segment – Live with Gabby, Channel Five, 41:30 to 50.  Concentrates on Kensal Rise library, [including a cameo from myself at the beginning, so best to skip to 42:50 at the start – Ed.], with interview by Margaret Bailey and with local library users, including a “pop-up” library. Authort Kathy Lette says  “Britain is famous for its’s writers and to cut off that lifeline … it makes you stupid if you can’t read”.  Gabby Roslin
  • Saving our Libraries – Big Issue.  Lauren Smith writes in the “Our Issues” column on the threats facing libraries and why campaigning is so important.

Local News

“Originally homework centres in libraries were set up with time-limited funding from the National Lottery. When this funding ended, the majority of such arrangements across the county had to be discontinued. We were able to avoid this in Harlow and in Greenstead by means of a one year grant from the Essex County Council study support budget. Unfortunately, this too will no longer be available after March.”

  • Gloucestershire – Multi-million pound businesses Tesco and Sainsbury to benefit from brutal library cuts … at our expense – FoGL.  “It has been brought to our attention that Gloucestershire County Council are running “library workshops”as part of the libraries consultation and are paying attendees £40 each in shopping vouchers to be spent at Tesco and Sainsbury as detailed in this invite Invite – workshops BME (this was sent to us by a FoGL member, we have not been notified by GCC, nor have we been asked to circulate the invite. We have no idea who this invite has been sent to). The invite states that the library review is happening due to “limited resources”. We are disgusted that Gloucestershire County Council sees fit to place tax-payers money into the pockets of retail giants like Tesco and Sainsbury when they claim they do not have the money to run basic public services?”
    • County Council approves £29 million cuts package – Stroud News & Journal.   “Proposals to invest £1 million to help keep the county’s libraries open over the next two years were rejected as Gloucestershire County Council approved cuts totalling £29 million last week.” … “The opposition group wanted to use money from the authority’s £106 million reserves to fund a further £2.2 million worth of road repairs, a £3 million investment in infrastructure, a £1 million contribution to assist the county’s libraries and a £600,000 spend on youth work.”
  • Harrow – Children win a librarian for a day – Harrow Times.   “Three schools in Harrow won a librarian for a day, in celebration of World Book Day.  Pupils at St Bernadettes, in Clifton Road; Longfield, in Dukes Avenue, and Stag Lane, in Collier Drive, won the librarians after they entered an open competition run by Harrow’s library service.”
  • Isle of Man – Save our libraries: petition launched – Isle of Man Today.  “Two have launched a petition against the closure of the Department of Education and Children’s family and mobile libraries. In just two days Michael Synnott, aged 11, and his classmate Robert Moore, collected about 50 signatures.” 
  • Kent – Edukent Packaged Services – Kent Council.   Charges for school staff to use public libraries after the recent withdrawal of the school library service there.

“A visit to the library and a session with library staff to set up individual library tickets for children and regular book exchange visits to library. The school will manage future sessions”

  • Somerset – Councillors reject library safeguards – This is Somerset.   “Somerset Liberal Democrats hoped to persuade Somerset County Council to agree that no library should have funding withdrawn without a consultation based on residents’ needs. They also sought to promote libraries as “community hubs” and “public space.””
  • Wiltshire – “Yes” to council budget, “no” to free car parking plan – Wiltshire Times.  “On libraries, Jane Scott says: “Unlike other local authorities we have opened a new library in Pewsey [where they sacked the manager on the same day it opened – Ed.] and work on our new Trowbridge library is well under way. We have kept all of our libraries open withthe help of over 600 volunteers.”
  • Wokingham – Private library firms shortlisted – BBC.   “The Conservative-led council currently pays out about £2.1m a year to run its library service but said it believed it could pay firms less to take them on. However, a report to councillors said there could be an “increase in staff turnover” and “loss of influence” over the service.”