Archive for March, 2012



Another nail in the coffin for the incredible statement made by the Local Government Association (LGA) to MPs that the “closure of a library does not automatically mean a decrease in access to library services“.  Recent figures from Brent show a 20% drop in usage, 104,000 fewer visits and 129,449 fewer books issued since it decided, against gigantic massive opposition, to close six (even seven) of its twelve libraries.  The LGA made its statement in its submission to the Select Committee Inquiry into Library Closures.  Let us hope that the MPs on that committee notice the basic fact that, duh, closing libraries does equal less usage.  Withdrawing funds from libraries does mean less visits.  Reducing the bookstock does mean less borrowing of books.  Refusing to intervene in the library cuts, Ed Vaizey, does mean more libraries will get cut.  In fact, of course, it’s not a duh moment.  Regardless of how they may come across, Ed is no that much of a (hard of hearing) Homer Simpson.  In fact, he and the LGA know perfectly well the truth.  They just think that, given the need for massive cuts, public libraries are not important enough to save.  It is up to us, who realise that they are, to make sure that they don’t get away with it.


Print is not dying – as reported in the Guardian.
Although, to be fair, this film was produced by an
airline magazine company.


Local News

  • Barnet – A tale of two Barnet libraries – Broken Barnet. Saving library reject “after a year of campaigning by highly committed members of a local group, (see above) on various spurious grounds, including the inability to provide any further funding. The reasons given are irrelevant, in fact, because of course the intention has always been to close the library so as to free the building and grounds for sale and development.”.  Hampstead Garden, though, in Conservative ward gets “all necessary support until at least 2016, or as long as the volunteer suburbanistas do not get bored with playing librarians”.
  • Brent – Number of visits to Brent libraries plummet by thousands – Brent & Kilburn Times.  Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveal that in the five months after the libraries closed, there were nearly 104,000 fewer visits compared with the previous year. In the same period, 129,449 fewer books were issued.”.  Usage has gone down by 20%.

“These figures are really important because it leads to the question – is Brent Council legally providing a comprehensive and efficient library service?”

  • Calderdale – Cuts in library hours go ahead – Brighouse Echo.  “Following the results of the Libraries Review 2011 consultation, the savings will be achieved through the reduction of opening hours of 13 libraries, saving £45,000, reorganisation of the mobile library service to focus on people who are unable to travel to a library, and those in residential care, to achieve savings of £105,000.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Library initiative planned for 15 years – Leighton Buzzard Observer.  “The challenge for the service is that it needs to deliver more than £550,000 of efficiency savings in running costs by 2014. This will be achieved by investing in technology and reducing back room costs. In the next two years £850,000 of capital investment will support the implementation of self service technology, developing the 24/7 online library, modernising buildings, and piloting library access points in rural communities.”
  • Gloucestershire – Seven Gloucestershire libraries expected to lose funding – BBC.  “The authority’s new library strategy is suggesting 31 council-run libraries, with seven run by local communities.” … “The council proposes to offer community-run libraries the chance to buy library buildings or take over leases on a peppercorn rent, and an annual grant of £10,000.”
    • Community groups offered help in library cuts plan This is Gloucestershire.   “Councillor Mark Hawthorne (Con, Moreland), leader of the council, said: “We are beefing up our offer to the community so we can provide that extra help to those groups who are considering taking on a library, but want the additional help we can offer. During our consultations more than 82 per cent of people said they broadly supported our strategy, so that’s a good basis to take this forward.”
    • “More misleading information from county council”: Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries comment on library strategy consultation – FoGL.  There simply is not the support for the proposed cuts that Gloucestershire County claims there to be.  The draconian attack on our library service, which costs less than 1.4% of the council’s overall budget, but which gets 3 million visits a year, remains deeply unpopular and disproportionate. There are serious concerns raised in the consultation report that we are waiting for GCC to address.” … “We have passed all of the relevant paperwork on to Public Interest Lawyers who were successful in the judicial review case brought against Gloucestershire County Council.”
  • Isle of Man – New chapter for mobile and family libraries? – Isle of Man Today.  “Age Concern has confirmed to the Manx Independent that it put forward a proposal to run the mobile library and underwrite it for three years – but that another organisation has come up with a better offer.” … “The mobile library currently has 335 adult members with 244 paying an annual subscription of £15. A total of 91 have free subscriptions and of these 33 use the home library service. There are 114 junior members with 110 paying the child’s £2 subscription and four receiving free use of the library.”
  • Isle of Wight – Skeletons have a tendency to rattle – Alan Gibbons.   David Pugh, leader of the Isle of Wight and proponent of volunteer-run libraries was reported in the Mirror many years ago in a suspected vote rigging incident.
  • Islington – Petition launches to save historic archives as London Metropolitan University says it can no longer maintain Women’s Library and TUC collections – Islington Tribune.   “The priceless collections could be broken up and, unless a new sponsor can be found by the end of the year, both libraries will close to the public six days a week. A petition has attracted 2,500 signatures since the threat was revealed last week in the Tribune. Professor June Purvis, Emmeline Pankhurst’s biographer and editor of Women’s History Review, said: “We are all devastated about it and hoping that some university will take in the collections.”
  • Leicestershire – New library hours begin – Lutterworth Mail.   “The changes will affect libraries in Market Harborough, Lutterworth, Broughton Astley, Fleckney, Kibworth and Great Glen. Leicestershire County Council said that no redundancies across the county have been made as part of the changes.”
  • North Somerset – Self-service the way forward for North Somerset libraries – This is Somerset.   “Councillor Felicity Baker, North Somerset Council’s executive member with responsibility for libraries, said: “Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who responded to our consultation. We have listened to your comments and where possible have matched proposals more closely to them, especially on the opening hours. We face severe financial pressures but we are still able to maintain, and where possible, invest in library services.”
  • Shropshire – Innovation key to survival of libraries – Shropshire Star.   “The county’s libraries have escaped swingeing cuts in the latest review of services by Shropshire Council. But Councillor Keith Barrow has warned that if libraries do not move with the times, they may not come through any future cuts to council budgets unscathed.”.  2 mobiles have been stopped.
  • Thurrock – Calls to save library from closure – Yellow Advertiser.  “Wendy Herd, from Aveley and Uplands, fears for the future of Aveley Library after it was named on a list of properties that could be sold.” … “We’ve four OAP complexes within walking distance of Aveley Library so closing this facility will affect many elderly people particularly those who don’t have a computer at home and use the library to get online.  “It would be terrible if the council does decide to close the library.”
    • Leader promises libraries will not be sold off – Yellow Advertiser.   Council says rival councillor “…is obviously struggling to find a line for the Tory election campaign. He thinks if he says the council is selling off these libraries enough times people will believe him. Let me say now, and hopefully for the final time, this claim is absolutely not true!””
  • Warwickshire – Final chapter but Gail had a ball – This is Tamworth.  Successful small Dordon library that “bucked the trend” in usage is closed, passing on to volunteers.  Librarian looks back at her years there.

“I cannot begin to say how devastated I am that something that held such promise has had to end, but I also know that the community group has worked so hard in trying to keep the library open and so much credit must go to them.”

Gloucestershire consultation results

Gloucestershire County Council, who last year lost a court case when they tried to push through severe cuts to their public libraries, have released the results of their latest public consultationIt is clear from the questions asked, and from the resultant publicity, that the council appears to be trying to push through very similar cuts this year.  The Council argues that it shows the public are on their side in this, and so far the figures quoted do indeed appear to do so. Campaigners argue that the Council produced a slanted questionnaire and have chosen to highlight only the points very favourable to their own view of the need to cut over a quarter of the library budget. Councillors have given themselves just a week to read the consultation before what some observers suspect will be a rubberstamping of the cuts.  If they do so, library users in that area will have to consider whether they can afford to fight them once more in the Courts.  At their own expense.  While Ed Vaizey, the minister who should be taking action, does nothing.
  • Gloucestershire – Library consultation ends – BBC.  4000 respond.  Council claims 82% agree with sharing buildings.  “The concept of using volunteers in libraries was also well supported.” Support for somehow sharing mobiles with other services. 13% completely disagreed with plans.  Final decision is taken just next week.  “The new proposal includes plans to keep nine main libraries open six days a week, 12 local facilities open five days a week and others run as community ventures.”
  1. there is overwhelming support for retaining the mobile library service, a service that Gloucestershire County Council would have been scrapped almost a year ago if not for tireless campaigning.  FoGL expect them to now to be granted a reprieve. 
  2. the consultation report states that the cuts will have disproportionate impact on the elderly who are “twice as likely to expect negative impacts as a result of the implementation of the strategy”.  This is very important considering the reasons why the Council lost the court case last time.
  3. The statistics Gloucestershire County Council quotes, in an effort to justify the cuts, need to be considered with caution, as they do not provide the full picture. For example, the consultation report shows that there was particular opposition to the community library proposals in Minchinhampton Library, Lechlade Library and Brockworth, 3 of the areas that are set to have their county library service withdrawn and replaced with the volunteer run model.  
  4. Most interestingly, especially considering the opposite view expressed in the media reports ““Although some people accept that the library service has to change because of the reduction in GCC’s funding, the majority feel that the proposed cuts are too severe””

“As we have been saying all along, the consultation was fundamentally flawed …16,000 people signed a petition against these plans. 6 others were submitted by communities. Significantly higher numbers than took part in this flawed consultation. The buck stops at Vaizey. He and his chums have failed us. ” Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries

Action to consider


  • Guest Post #4: Creating curiosity for young and old alike, by Richard Veevers, Library Camp – Envisioning the library of the future.  “I’ve worked with scores of people in our library who’ve never used a computer. Whilst the majority are retired, we see an encouraging number of younger folk.” … “Some disappointed taxpayers have voiced their concerns at the suitability of the volume of noise generated by our Baby-Bounce, in the corner of the main lending library.” “Richard Veevers is a frontline librarian who helped set-up Library Camp.  Library Camp is an informal group of individuals passionate about public libraries who run free events to “debate, explore and learn” how libraries can develop and adapt.”

“It’s just not realistic to talk about a vision for the future that excludes ‘current issues’. The ‘current issue’ is that libraries are being closed all over the country and their real-estate sold off. Even those not being closed are having their book-stocks decimated, their opening hours cut, their knowledgeable staff fired, their quiet spaces for study eliminated, and their inefficient business practices allowed to continue unchallenged. These are decisions made by local authorities whose members neither understand nor use libraries. So I fear that in asking for a vision of the future for libraries, the Arts Council are inhabiting something of an ivory tower. Also, that awful word ‘conversation’ smacks to me of ‘faux democracy’. We don’t want a ‘conversation’ or another ‘report’ – we want some central leadership and we want it now before there is no library service left at all.”  Amanda Field, comment on Envisioning the Future.

“This weekend’s World Literacy Summit in Oxford states the hidden cost of functional illiteracy in the UK as $127 billion – the highest in Europe. We won’t solve our literacy problems until UK children feel inspired and motivated to read and we won’t achieve this by expecting schools to solve the problem single handed. We need a much more joined up way of working involving schools, families and – vitally – public library services. Public libraries have a critical role to play and a proven impact on literacy. For the poorest, most socially excluded, least confident or mobile members of our communities, their local public library is often their only source of access to reading. Libraries’ work to promote reading is transforming, and they now offer a lively, engaging service to help children love reading. This year’s Summer Reading Challenge in libraries is expected to involve 780,000 children, and is part of the Olympics’ 2012 festival.” Miranda McKearney, Director, The Reading Agency


Local News

  • Barnet – Library campaign forced outside for activity afternoon – Barnet and Whetstone Press.  “Campaigners fighting to save their library have criticised the council after being barred from using its children’s area for a public event.  Members of the Save Friern Barnet Library group were prevented from holding a series of activities, including story-telling, a puppet show and an historical talk, at the library in Friern Barnet Road on Saturday afternoon.  As a result all the events were held outside and campaigners complained that the speaker and puppeteer were rendered inaudible by traffic.” … “Barnet Council said the decision was a child protection issue – but group secretary Joanna Fryer said that it had held at least four similar events in the past.” [How forcing them to hold the event by a road is safer for children is not adequately explained by the council – Ian.]
  • Conwy – Volunteers need fund to run Penrhyn Bay Library – North Wales Weekly News.  A steering committee has been set up to pave the way for Penrhyn Bay library to be run by volunteers with help and support from Conwy County Council. But the maintenance and upkeep of the Llandudno Road premises will fall on the voluntary organisation, says chairman of the steering committee June Heathcote. Conwy Council will continue to provide 3,000 books, four computers and 15 hours of staff time each week.”

“One idea for generating funding to keep the library running is a system where individuals and businesses can help support it for a small annual fee.”

Greek tragedies, privatised libraries and judicial reviews

Comment on the blogs at the “Envisioning the library of the future” website or tweet your views with the hashtag #acelibraries if you wish your views to be included in this stage of the Arts Council England consultation on the future of public libraries.

The Surrey Library Action Movement report that the result of the judicial review seems very likely to be handed down next week.  They still need £6000 to pay for legal costs, refundable if the case is won.


  • Are privatised public libraries so bad? – Atlantic Cities (USA). Santa Clarita has received no complaints since it was privatised … “Hours have increased. The library is now open on Sundays. There are 77 new computers, a new book collection dedicated to homeschooling parents and more children’s programs. Santa Clarita is even installing a fancy laptop dispenser, where patrons can swipe their card to check out a laptop to use anywhere in the system. Visits are up; a new facility is in the works.” … “The city thought they could run their system for $5.1 million a year; LSSI gets $3.8 million. This savings means the city has been able to budget $4.8 million a year for libraries, with the extra $1 million going to buying new books and a new, LEED-certified building. The bulk of the lower costs, both for the city and LSSI, comes from cutting the benefits previously afforded to librarians.”. [An apparently well researched article that looks at both sides, although more slanted towards LSSI than is normal, make sure also to read the comments – Ian] 
  • Greek tragedy the fight for libraries – CILIP Update.  Repeated library consultations with little effect is compared to a curse of perpetual punishment.  “‘What we do not have is an indication of when the action is going to come. We’re having all these consultations and people are exhausted with them. I had one campaigner tell me that she just banged her head on the table when she heard that we were having another one.”  But this is ACE’s first go at a consultation so “It is only fair to give it a chance and see what plans it will come up with for the future. The best way to ensure the most positive outcome libraries, staff and users is to be part of the conversation.”  The ACE website is here.
  • Library reports – Good Library Blog.  Lists all the reports and consultations that have gone on over the last few years.  Notes that were 24 reports 1998-2008 and lists them.  Also notes and lists that there were 10 reports in two months in 2009.


Local News

  • Brent – Want to use a Brent library computer? Forget it – Preston Library Campaign. Article points out the absurdity of advertising that you can use a library computer on the website – presumably because if someone is using the website, they already have a computer. “Try it yourself on the Brent Council website. It’s part of a game I call: “I lost my library and nothing is replacing it.””
  • Calderdale – Less time to visit the area’s libraries – Todmorden News.   Cuts listed.  “The council says the priority is to keep the open hours convenient for people and the adjustments are based on a thorough analysis of customer needs and usage patterns at each library.”
  • Carmarthenshire – “We have to act now to save library” – This is South Wales.  Kidwelly: “It is urgent that the town council meets to consider the future of the library and take whatever action is needed to save this vital social and educational facility for the town,” Mr Huws said. “It is equally urgent that people write in, telephone, e-mail and call into the council offices to demand that the town council safeguards the home of the library.” 
  • Central Bedfordshire – Way forward for Central Bedfordshire Libraries – About My Area.   15 year plan announced, with cuts in staffing and increase in self-service.  “”We do realise however that libraries will need to become more efficient to meet savings targets and modernise to meet the future needs of residents.  We believe that this strategy sets out how we can successfully achieve this.”
  • Denbighshire – £300,000 grant could transform town library – Journal.  “Prestatyn Library, on Nant Hall Road, may be in line for a major revamp or even a relocation Denbighshire County Council welcomed news of the CyMAL funding package, which could help provide a new library.”. Library has been closed since November for “essential maintenance works”.
  • Doncaster – High hopes for future of community library – Epworth Bells.  Balloons and bunting heralded a new chapter for Warmsworth Library after Doncaster Council funding cuts left 14 libraries across the borough in danger of closure. Library volunteer and former Doncaster councillor Georgina Mullis has been a key player in fighting for the library to stay open under the Warmsworth Community Partnership.”
  • Inverclyde – Books on Prescription to help young people – Inverclyde Now.   “a partnership arrangement between Inverclyde Community Health and Care Partnership and Inverclyde Libraries. Any young person who is suffering from mild depression, stress, anxiety, phobias and eating disorders, will be offered a “book prescription” by their doctor, which enables them to collect a specially recommended title from their local library. An approved list of almost 40 titles has been chosen”
  • North Somerset – Council responds to library views – Mercury.   “following a two-month consultation which yielded 1,960 responses, the authority has balanced the books while increasing the proposed opening times to just one hour less than the current situation. This includes scrapping proposals for lunchtime closures in Worle. The budget savings will be made by cutting staff numbers, which has already begun by not filling vacant positions. It is hoped some staff may take voluntary redundancy or be deployed elsewhere.”
  • Suffolk – New library boss for Suffolk – Haverhill Echo.   “Speaking about the challenges ahead, Shona said: “The people I’m working with in the IPS and library service share a very strong and very clear aim – to do what’s best for the future of the service.”

“After the hollowing-out at the centre of the Suffolk library service in recent months and the current headlong charge over the cliff of the external Industrial & Provident Society, it is interesting to ask just how ‘professional’ the library service actually is. Taking it from the end of June 2012 (when the Suffolk library service is supposed to be handed over to the IPS), of the 496 Suffolk libraries staff members reported to be TUPEd over to the IPS, we count only seven professional librarians left in the whole workforce. This isn’t counting two branch managers who we think have library qualifications.” The Industrial and Provident Society: its role in Suffolk libraries, Part 2Rosehill Readers.

  • Surrey  – An update on the legal and financial situation – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.  “It now looks very much like the Judgment from the Judicial Review is going to be handed down next week. The result may be clear; it may be nuanced.  Whatever the result, the detail and justification of the Review is likely to be as important and instructive, not just for the Surrey campaign and Council but for the broader crisis in the national library service and other campaigners and Councils throughout the country. “.  £6000 is still needed by campaigners to pay legal costs, refundable if they win.
  • Trafford – Library staff plans given go-ahead after rethink – Manchester Evening News.  £85k less will be cut from budget – Five full-time library staff, rather than one each, will stay in post at Old Trafford and Hale after 2400 name petition.  Mobile library, though, will go, despite 900 name petition.  
  • Waltham Forest – Ex-librarian to challenge council cuts as GLA candidate – Guardian series.  “Nancy Taaffe worked at Wood Street Library in Wood Street, Walthamstow, until January last year when, she claims, the library was closed for two days a week and 24 staff lost their jobs.”.  2 libraries closed.  “The council says it has had to make difficult decisions following an unprecedented fall in government funding. It insists its shake-up of the library service will improve efficiency levels.”

Arts Council launches public consultation on libraries


Arts Council England (ACE), the quango with some responsibility for public libraries, has opened the next stage of its consultation into the future of public libraries.  This is likely to be influential in shaping the political debate and is thus not to be ignored. 
Having said that, long-standing lovers of libraries point out that we have been here before. Library campaigner Desmond Clarke is concerned that the consultation may just provide another “classic ministerial excuse for not acting” that Mr Vaizey himself called the previous government’s  Library Modernisation Review.  Mr Clarke further points out that “Some of us have seen and been involved in several “conversations” including Framework for the Future (2003),  Better Stock, Better Libraries (2006), Blueprint for Excellence (2007), Future Libraries (2010) as well as consultancy reports from PwC and PKF, and have submitted evidence to the two Select Committee Reports and the All Party Library Group. There have also been reports funded by Laser looking at the issues. Meanwhile, the public library service is allowed to decline in many communities while The DCMS, the SCL, the LGA, the MLA and now ACE continue with their “conversations”. When can we expect to see some political and professional leadership to ensure that an improving, comprehensive and efficient service is provided in all 151 authorities in England?”.
It’s also disheartening that the site is clearly not for those with local library issues but just for experts and those connected to the internet and in the know.  Rather surprisingly, the most important people in any debate – concerned members of the public – are pushed towards local councils, the Library Campaign and Voices for the Library websites where, it is suspected but not yet confirmed, they will be ignored by the consultation.  The ACE site is designed or commenting on the particular blog entries.  The main site says “we encourage people to respond to guest blog posts and contribute to the conversation via Twitter using the hashtag #ACElibraries.  Responses to the independent guest blogs will feed into our overall programme of research and debate, and help us to form a longer term vision for libraries”.  This means that ACE can direct the debate in precisely the directions that they want. They also seem especially interested in the small part of the population who use Twitter.  Which seems slightly non-socially inclusive but is in keeping with their greatly reduced budget, as is their use of free blogging software for their website. It’s also more inclusive than the first phase which asked 200 “sector experts to participate in a Delphi survey that asks respondents to consider a series of statements about how the country might look in 10 years time”.  A “Delphi” survey, incidentally, is a posh way of saying that one is asking a group of experts about the future and the answer is the average of the reply.
The next stage of the consultation are workshops held in different locations across England in mid May with the final stage testing “the public view of the purpose and value of public libraries” will be undertaken between June and late September 2012.  Therefore, we are in the early stages of a fairly thorough six month process and you don’t have long to comment on this stage.  Have a look, comment where and when you can, tweet your views with thier hashtag if you can, and try to shape the results the way you want them to.  Or Ed Vaizey will say that you had your chance and he will continue to do nothing, in exactly the same way as he criticised Labour for doing two years ago.


  • Beyond the BookShelf University Business (p.12-13).  Suggests linking university and public libraries and emphasises the need for using technology.
  • Harriet Harman re-iterates Labour’s 2Mbps for all 2012 policy – Think Broadband.  “Broadband access for many will be made all the more difficult by cuts in libraries. According to the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, almost 600 libraries are threatened by this Government.”

     “In this country we all believe that healthcare should be free at the point of delivery. Literature, stories and poems are the same. It is not something just for rich, educated and privileged people, it is for all of us. It is our culture. Robert Louis Stevenson and Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl’s stories are for everyone, not just for everyone who can afford a book.” Michael Morpurgo in “Like the NHS, libraries are a vital free service for all” – London Evening Standard. 

    • Public and academic library closures in the US, UK and Eire, part VI – Examiner (USA).  Looks at the lack of coverage of National Libraries Day in Kent, Croydon etc. Also looks at the role of the LGA which “made the breathtakingly irrational statement, “Closure of a library does not automatically mean a decrease in access to library services; with the exploration of on line and community delivery models, it can mean accessing services in a different way”.


    Local News

    • Barnet – Protests over impending Friern Barnet library closure – Times series.  parents and children protesting against the closure of a Barnet library held a small demonstration outside its entrance on Saturday. Members of the Save Friern Barnet Library group held placards opposing Barnet Council’s plans to shut down the service on April 5.”
    • Cheshire West and Chester – CWAC union members take further industrial action in contract dispute – Guardian series.   “Nearly 50 per cent of libraries in west Cheshire closed their doors as staff walked out on March 24, with those in Northwich, Barnton and Winsford affected.” … “The new contracts remove pay enhancements for staff working weekends, overtime and bank holidays, as well as reducing the rate for working nights.” … ““For library staff it will be at least a five per cent cut and for care staff it will be much more. This is on top of a three-year pay freeze.”

    Croydon – Project manager vacancyThis post is overseeing the privatisation
     of its library service.  The cost of privatisation is therefore at least £40k (plus
     perhaps another £10k in “on costs” like pensions) and, interestingly, is permanent.
    • Durham – Outrage at “scam and trick” library exercise – Teesdale Mercury.   “Once hours have been cut, the council plans to hand libraries, together with leisure centres and other council assets to a ‘Non Profit Distributing Organisation’ (NPDO). Robert Stenlake from the Friends of Barnard Castle Library, who chaired the meeting, said the council is not consulting on this move.“They are not asking our views but I don’t think that prevents us from giving them,””

    “One of the questions asks: “Do you think it would be better to reduce opening hours generally rather than close some libraries?” Town councillor John Watson compared this question to being asked: “When did you stop beating your wife?”

    • East Sussex – Support for BookStart family scheme – Eastbourne Herald.  “Libraries and children’s centres in East Sussex are promoting Bookstart 20, a nationwide campaign to promote book sharing, and will also help celebrate the 20th birthday of Bookstart, the reading scheme that gives free book packs to every baby in England, Wales and Northern Ireland”  … “A series of story and rhyme time events and Bookstart parties to celebrate 20 years of Bookstart will be held at venues across the county for parents, carers and children to enjoy.”
    • Kirklees – Council reviews library consultation plans – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  Council may change the wording of parts of the consultation as “library supporters have expressed concern about the way the process has been carried out, accusing the council of trying to ‘hoodwink’ volunteers instead of providing the reasons and other options for the move.” 

    “This just feels like they are throwing the keys in the door while they drive off as fast as they can.”

    • Isle of Man – Funding hope for libraries – Manx Radio.  This morning in the House of Keys, Education Minister Peter Karran revealed they may yet be saved through other means of funding. That is rumoured to be coming from Island-based e-gaming firm Pokerstars.” [yes, Pokerstars – did things just get surreal? – Ian.].
    • Portsmouth – Libraries continue to prosper – About My Area. “We’re not closing libraries, we’re looking at ways to modernise them.”. Two branches may move/be upgraded.  “Portsmouth’s housing department will be funding the £90k re-fit of the Paulsgrove library site. “.  “Between 3-4% of residents use the library in its current location, and figures for the number of books taken out are well below what could be expected for the area. Residents raised issues with the current location in a 2006 consultation, citing concerns over the steep slope causing difficulties for wheelchairs, buggies and the elderly.”
    • Warwickshire – Bedworth’s “honesty library” proves successful – Coventry Telegraph.   Not really: only 60 people used the facility in five weeks, with only 150 books taken out.  “The library is based at Bedworth Heath Community Centre and has been saved from closure by local residents following a Warwickshire County Council cost-cutting exercise.”
    • Worcestershire – Library opening hours cut – Redditch Standard.   “”This is a type of small change that allows us to continue with a comprehensive library service across the county and although reducing opening hours in some of our libraries isn’t something we’ve done lightly, it’s clear that a slight reduction in service is better than complete and outright closures. We believe these measures will ensure we achieve our financial objectives in a way which inflicts the least disruption to our valued library users.” [Losing at least 28 full-time posts is not “a small change”.  It’s a large proportion of total staffing, probably a guesstimate would be a quarter – Ian.].

    The second most sacred space


    • Canadian authors rally to support striking librariansMarketwire.  “We’re supporting the library workers who help library users find the books and information they need, whether they are doing online research or writing a resume,” said Susan Swan, author of The Wives of Bath, and former Canadian Writers’ Union chair. “The Internet is a wonderful resource but it can’t replace the people who help others use it.” … “Toronto library employees have been on strike since March 18 in support of a new contract. The Toronto Public Library Board has demanded concessions from the 2,300 workers, including elimination of a key employment security clause which would open the door to library closures and further service cuts.”
    • Late? No, fine – Boston (USA).   “…the librarian waved him off, explaining that Gleason had stopped charging for overdue materials five months ago. Like many library patrons, Walsh was surprised. Aren’t overdue fines as integral to the fabric of the public library system as, say, Dewey decimal numbers or signs asking for quiet? But Carlisle is not alone in its decision to stop charging for late returns. Over the past few years, Massachusetts libraries have been increasingly hopping aboard the fine-free bandwagon, including institutions in Dover, Littleton, and Westford.” .. ““At the rate we were collecting fines, the management cost was greater than the revenue.”.  Money went to general council budget, not to library. People, especially children, put off by fines.  “After all, where else are you penalized for reading?”.  “here has been essentially no discernible difference in the amount of time that people keep materials since the library began its no-fines policy.” Pro-fines librarians says “they teach people accountability and responsibility.”
    • Let yapping dogs lieInformation Overlord.   Reviews the article by Tim Coates on his blog.  Points out several major inconsistencies with the facts in the posting (comments were reasonable not “yapping dog”, comments were not made by public librarians etc). While agreeing that “I would have to agree that there was always a feeling of Us and Them in relation to those at the coal face and those ‘professionals’ in county hall. We never felt we got the suppport we deserved from them when it was needed – especially if there was a complaint” but “But, by the same time, pretending that most of these people just sit on their arse all day doing bugger all is also I think a simplistic mistake.”

      “As you will know if you have been following our campaign. I am an academic librarian and we have had a lot of support from a very knowledgeable retired public librarian. But we are two of many, As the letter, says, our campaign was supported by 16,000 signature petition (gathered in just 3 weeks in the face of extreme winter weather). Our campaign has been strong because we have library users from all different backgrounds working tirelessly to save our libraries ( as DCMS will know from the hundreds of letters they received, and ignored, from library users in Gloucestershire). Librarian or library user, we have all taken the same stance as expressed in my letter (just look at the evidence from Gloucestershire sent to the CMS Select Committee for more!). I find it a bit odd that I am attacked for defending a library service just because I am a librarian. We are damned if we do, damned if we don’t!  I personally would like to see more librarians, alongside library users, fighting for the service. ” Johanna Anderson, Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries.

    • Letter to campaigner – Alan Gibbons.   Response to Eoin Garland from government regarding unfair reliance on volunteers, fragmented approach to libraries, poor record of government on libraries. 
    • Libraries are not just buildings full of books – Unison “In Focus” magazine, p.13-14.  Article on the Speak Up for Libraries event, including quotes from several public librarians and Alan Gibbons.  A full response, no the normal form letter, but with no new real information.
    Nicky Ginney on Libraries.  See also this recent


    Calderdale –  1 mobile to close on 1st April, large number of opening hour reductions.

    Local News

    • Calderdale – Library opening hours cut to save £150,000 – Halifax Courier.   Cuts in hours at “Brighouse, Elland, Hebden Bridge, King Cross, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden libraries will open for 37 hours a week; Rastrick Library for 30 hours; Beechwood Road, Hipperholme, Northowram and Skircoat libraries for 25 hours; and small changes will be made at Mixenden and Shelf libraries.”.  Mobile library will end, to be replaced by a “Home Library Service” for the housebound.
    • Isle of Man – Library loss can’t be understimated – Isle of  “A Laxey woman dismayed at the planned loss of the mobile library says those who benefit most are least able to campaign against closure.”
    • North Somerset – It’s time take a stand for quality – This is Bristol.  New books which expand the mind seem rarely to be bought; the latest popular fiction is. I feel the Library Service has lost its soul and seeking justification for its existence, veers towards pop-marketing in imitation of the big bookshop chains, the fast food of the printed word.”. Also, letter is against just the free market providing books.
    • Portsmouth – Plans for Drayton library approved after 50 years – News.   “Following the launch last year of a popular library in Palmerston Road, Southsea, the city council is pushing ahead with plans to repeat its success in Drayton. Officers have identified the area as the only one in the city without a public library within a mile of residents’ homes and said calls for one began more than 50 years ago.” … “Both major political parties have taken credit for the idea”.
    • Suffolk – The Industrial and Provident Society: its role in Suffolk libaries, part 1 – Rosehill Readers.   “Organisational change on such a drastic scale will always damage or destroy efficiencies as well as inefficiencies; good ways of working as well as bad. Worse still, a new experimental structure like the IPS – particularly introduced in such a rush – is bound to create its own bureacracy.” … “Sucking nearly a third of the budget out of libraries will have drastic effects on the service regardless of how it is provided. The already diminished Bookfund will be first, staff will be next (and more painful). Anyone who tells you that you can hollow out the management and support staff of a previously lean, efficient library network and reduce funding by about a third and come out with an improved service is deluded.”
      • Where now for the IPS – James Hargrave’s Blog.   ” If it tries to create a complicated system of local devolution without first taking hold of the services and running and knowing them for itself I think it will fail. As ever the key to success is pragmatism.”

    Not so ACE

    The chief of Arts Council England (ACE), the quango with some responsibility for libraries, has been told that she will not have her contract extended from January next year.  There’s a fair bit of controversy over Jeremy Hunt’s decision to do this.  Liz Forgan has been seen as doing a good job leading the organisation at this most difficult of times.  The suspicion is that her leftwing views, which have never apparently interfered with her work, was the real reason. More worryingly for libraries, perhaps, is the stated reason: Mr Hunt has specifically said that the new leader needs to aim for more private sector funding.  Privatisation and libraries are not the most clear-cut or uncontroversial of bedfellows and a pro-private anti-public new boss of ACE is unlikely to do the service any favours. 
    It’s a shame also as the Arts Council has been showing signs of making positive steps recently, most notably in starting on doing a decent job of surveying the sector.  In another way, though, the organisation is incredibly weak and nowhere more so than in funding: the Welsh Government, despite being seventeen times smaller than its English neighbour, is providing more than four times the funding (over £1m) for eight branches in Wales than ACE (£230k) is providing for the whole of England.  Some though may fear that getting the necessary bread from MacDonalds (or Amazon?) may though be worse than the current famine.


    • £2.2 million boost for Wales’ museums and libraries – News Wales.   The funding will also help modernise eight public libraries in Wales. Over £1 million will be allocated to provide modern library facilities in Caerphilly, Baglan, Pontycymer, Bettws, Chirk, Mold, Prestatyn and Aberaeron.” …”A key aspect of the library modernisation programme is to create a cultural hub in the community with flexible space for activities. Activities will include storytimes for children, free access to computers and Wi-Fi connectivity for mobile devices alongside the ever popular books in an attractive environment.”
    • I’ll give money to save libraries, ex-Waterstones boss pledges – Independent.  “Someone needs to show leadership. Libraries in the UK need management. The situation is dreadful and getting worse.”.  Money could go to “A series of campaign groups have sprung up to support them and come up with alternative ways of running individual sites. These include sites in Brent and Lewisham, both in London, Gloucestershire, Somerset and the Isle of Wight.”
      • Coates blasts UK library service as Bilbary launches in US – BookSeller.  E-books site will share profits with US library services but not with UK libraries as they are “not organised at all” as there are over 150 different authorities.  Instead, some profits will go to local campaign groups. 
        • Comment from Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries [by Jo, who is an academic librarian] points out that they are not campaigning to control their libraries but, rather, for the Council to keep running them themselves.We argue that breaking it up by cutting “individual sites” off so they are run outside of this network, by volunteers, is counter-productive, unsustainable, inequitable and a massive leap backwards”.  
        • Comment from Shirley Burnham [non-librarian, campaigner involved for several years, starting with Swindon] says “The point I made yesterday was that private money is not the answer to a national problem and that DCMS must be urged by all to protect the public library service. Whether the firm pledging money were Bilbary, Boots or Brake Brothers, I’d have written in a similar vein.”
      • Library campaign police – Good Library Blog.    Tim Coates describes comments in BookSeller articles as “yapping dog” and says the “professional library staff” campaigners can’t stand a word he says, specifically those in senior management.  “the ‘professional’ library staff, actually work in Town Halls and County council offices, and certainly remote from the library floor and counter. If we need to save money (and we do) it is from among the ranks of these people that the savings should be made. If we lost 20% or 50% of the ‘professional’ staff from public libraries, it would be no loss at all” [In the interests of declaring perceived bias, which I am trying, possibly too hard, to avoid,  I am a member of a public library campaigning group – Voices for the Library – which, although un-named, may be one of those being attacked by Tim in this article.  I am also a professional librarian but work at branch level and am at the most junior level of management – Ian.]
        • Is this the kind of help public libraries need? – Infoism.  Notes that Tim was not always an advocate of e-books.  Agrees that Mr Vaizey and the Society for Chief Librarians has a questionable record on library campaiging. Concerns that (a) US libraries would appear to subsidising UK ones under Tim’s model, (b) councils should run libraries not volunteers (who lack expertise) and funding such groups will only encourage more libraries to be threatened in future.  “Whilst local authorities, national government and the SCL have arguably failed public libraries over the past few years, I am not entirely convinced that these proposals provide the best alternative.  At a time when library campaigners need to unite to fight library cuts and closures, we certainly do not need to provide local authorities with any more encouragement to wash their hands of local libraries and force them upon their local communities.”
    • Libraries can prosper: if they can change – Independent.  There are, of course, some libraries that are unfit for purpose. But those that use digital technologies as an aide, rather than treat them as a threat, more than hold true to their core purpose. And those that have made the leap are seeing visitor numbers rise, not fall. Britain’s libraries do not need closing but they may need changing. We can only hope that Mr Coates’ support can help many of them to do so.”
    • Library crisis “like Beeching cuts to railways” – London Evening Standard.  “The Standard has set up a Save Our Libraries campaign. In the Commons, Mr Jarvis said the minister had “no vision, no strategy”. Mr Vaizey urged him to speak out over Labour-run Brent closing parts of its library service.”
    • New chair of Arts Council to be appointed – DCMS.   “DCMS will launch a search for a new chair of Arts Council England following a decision by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt not to reappoint the current chair Dame Liz Forgan” … ““The next chair of the Arts Council will have to steer the organisation and the sector through another challenging period, in particular in increasing the amount of private giving to the arts and encourage the sector to make the most of technological changes.””
      • Anger as Arts Council chief is forced to quit by ministers – Independent.   “Dame Liz never hid her left -wing views, which led to one arts industry expert to say: “This is a political move. She is a well-known left-winger. Perhaps the Government wants someone more in tune with its own views,” before adding: “This could well backfire.”

    “This is seen by many to be a political decision as Forgan is perceived to be left of centre, was appointed by Labour and is the chair of the Scott Trust, which owns the Guardian and the Observer! Hunt wants to appoint someone with experience of private funding as he sees this as a future priority for ACE. A worrying sign of things to come?” The chair of ACE told to step down, a political decision? – Stop the privatization of UK public libraries.  

    “Libraries are different from schools, because you don’t have to go. Children can go there to read and it’s just for pure pleasure. This has all been a gradually declining mess. The library is not just about books. It is a place where people can go. Having that sort of space is very, very important in many parts of Britain, they provide social functions. These services are being torn from people who need it most.”

    • University cash crisis hits historic women’s libraryIslington Tribune.   “The world-famous Wom­en’s Library – formerly the Fawcett Library – will shut six days a week, be privately run or move out of its historic home at the end of this year, the Tribune can reveal. The board of governors at Holloway-based London Metropolitan University,  trustees of the archive, are seeking a “new home, custodian or sponsor” for the library’s treasured collections.”


    Local news

    Brent – Big drop in visits and usage since closure of six branch libraries.
    First column is March 2011, second is February 2012.

    “These are shocking and saddening statistics – and exactly what was predicted by everyone in the Brent Save Our Libraries campaign. The only positive point is that Brent has not disposed of any of the old libraries.” Brent Liberal Democrat Leader Paul Lorber

    • Cheshire West and Chester – Union action to close Northwich libraries – Guardian series. “Librarians will walk out in protest against changes to their contract terms and conditions.”. 
      • Libraries staff strike: libraries to close on Saturday 24th and Saturday 31st March 2012 – West Cheshire Unison. “UNISON and other Council trade unions believe members have no choice but to take industrial action, given the Council’s refusal to negotiate. From April the Council is stopping paying enhancements for staff working weekends, overtime and all bank holidays, except Christmas. They are also reducing the rate for working nights. Staff contracted to use their own cars for work face reductions in car allowances of around £1500 per year.”
    • Croydon – Half-baked news of Croydon Libraries bidders and campaigners concerns – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.   “No one debates that the local press must have great difficulty verifying the real situation as Cllr Sara Bashford and Croydon Council are almost silent on the matter, pushing through the privatisation of all thirteen libraries, knowingly having only consulted with the users of less than half the libraries in the network.”.  Concerned over private companies making profit from libraries, lack and poor quality of National Libraries Day events.
      • Shortlist of companies bidding to run Croydon libraries revealed – Guardian series.  Lists names of companies and briefly describes them.  LSSI quotes as saying “No longer will libraries simply sit and wait for their customers to arrive. They will be more proactive, more outgoing and offer the range of educational, leisure and cultural services that their communities demand.”.
    • Derbyshire – Libraries to re-open after improvement – Ripley and Heanor News.   ““I hope people will come and see what is new, particularly those who have not been in a library for a while. They might be surprised. All 45 of Derbyshire County Council’s libraries have computers with access to the internet and books can be reserved from anywhere in the county.””
    • Dorset – Charmouth: library roof to be refurbished before hand-over – Bridport News.   “Hazel Robinson, chairman of Friends of Charmouth Library, said: “In the case of Charmouth, it would have been impossible for the Friends to have taken on the library unless the roof and heating system were put into good order before the September handover. The good news was that this was agreed. “The bad news was that requests for set-up grants were turned down.”
      • Work begins on the refurbishment of Christchurch Library – Dorset Newsroom.   “Work has started on the £2 million extension and refurbishment of Christchurch Library. It is set to bring vastly improved facilities, more books, and the creation of a new adult learning centre.” … “The project will increase the public library space by 60%.  The current floor area is 481 square metres and is serving a population of over 40,000.  This is little more than a third of the recommended floor area for the population.”
    • Leicester – New chapter in hypocrisy – This is Leicestershire.   “How insensitive and hypocritical of the city council to be actively promoting the increased use of libraries at exactly the same time as it is closing some of them down!”
    • Neath Port Talbot – Extra cash will boost security of collections – This is South Wales.   “Heritage Minister at the Welsh Government, Huw Lewis, said: “Our libraries and museums enrich people’s education and knowledge so it is essential that as many people as possible can access and enjoy their collections.” … “Baglan Public Library will receive £114,460 capital funding to help deliver modernised facilities. The money will be used for its modernisation programme to create a cultural hub and activities for children. Free access to computers and Wi-Fi connectivity for mobile devices will also be available. The funding has been awarded under the latest round of grants through CyMAL, the Welsh Government’s Museums, Archives and Libraries Wales division.”
    • Northamptonshire – Andrew Carnegie-funded Kettering Library “needs £1m” to be restored – BBC.   “The council said it “simply cannot afford” to fund the work by itself, but has contributed £250,000 for the floor’s restoration and to enable the “grand entrance” on Sheep Street to be re-opened. An appeal by the Friends will pay for the library to get new plasterwork and redecoration, as well as work on the Collyweston slate roof.”
    • Surrey – Library funding fight heard at High Court –  This is Surrey Today.  Summary of the main arguments used.


    Library campaign police – Good Libray Blog.   Tim Coates calls the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries

    Bar staff to replace library assistants


    • Ghana needs e-library facilitiesVibe Ghana.  “Mr Monu, who made the appeal in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the benefits of e-libraries are enormous. He said it is about time Ghana gets e-library facilities, to allow the public libraries to acquire latest editions of reference books and magazines.”.  The end comment suggests different priorities … “He said the greatest challenge of his outfit is the lack of fence wall, which has opened the premises to the nefarious activities of hooligans, while stray animals also disturb clients who patronise the library.”
    • Jarvis asks Vaizey “Are you a champion for libraries?” – Dan Jarvis MP.   “Shadow Culture Minister, Dan Jarvis today questioned Ed Vaizey at the dispatch box. Jarvis challenged his counterpart on the issue of libraries by asking the Minister, “With no Vision, no strategy, no urgency – from a Minister who is fast becoming the Dr Beeching of libraries, does he believe he has a responsibility to act as a “champion” for libraries across Government, and if he does – how would he assess his performance to date?”” … “During the exchange in the Chamber, Vaizey avoided the question and instead referred to his stance on the Wirral, in which the then Labour Government intervened to order an inquiry into the closures.”
    • Library closures and the public sector equality duty – Elisabeth Laing QC.  “Elisabeth Laing QC gave this paper at the 11KBW Cuts, Closures and the Public Sector Equality Duty – developments, particularly as applied to library closures seminar on 21st March 2012”.  Examines recent public library legal cases.  Points out possibility of challenging closures under new Localism Act legislation.  See also The Public Sector Equality Duty by Joanne Clement.
    • Professional development advice for academic librarians – Guardian.  Long article with relevance for public libraries as well. 
    • Speak Up for LibrariesWe Heart Libraries.  Summary of the day, along with some great pictures.
    • Speak Up for LibrariesEarly Day Motions.  45 MPs have signed up (33 Labour, 4 Lib Dem, 4  DUP, 2 SDLP, 1 UUP … and 1 Conservative).  “That this House recognises that public libraries are important community spaces and a vital public resource; acknowledges that many are under threat due to wide-scale budget cuts; is concerned about the impact of closures on social inclusion, social mobility and society more generally; welcomes the formation of Speak Up for Libraries, a coalition of national organisations and library campaigners that is leading a delegation of supporters from around the country to Parliament on 13 March 2012 in order to highlight the vital role that library services, run by professionally trained and qualified staff, play in the community and for individuals; and therefore calls on the Government to undertake a thorough assessment of the state of the public library service and develop a national vision for the service.”


    Local News


    • Cambridgeshire – Job Details: Community Library Assistant – Cambridgeshire Council.  Our vision is to maintain a high quality public library service, as well as developing our role as Community Hubs, working in partnership with a range of other organizations and community groups.”
    • Camden – Campaign group on brink of Keats Library survival deal – Camden New Journal.   “After months of discussions and worries that a deal might fall through, The Phoenix group has reached an “agreement in principle” to take over the running of the library in the wake of Camden Council’s decision to stop managing it.”
    • Cumbria – Penrith Library closing for switch to self-service – News & Star.  “The county council, which operates library facilities across the county, said there would be no change to staffing levels when it goes self service. “The changes are based on the success of Carlisle library, which became self service in June 2011,” a spokesperson said. He said the self-service facility would allow staff to concentrate on helping customers find books and use computers, plus deal with general inquiries.”
    • South Gloucestershire -Read all about it, libraries are tops – This is Bristol.   “South Gloucestershire’s library service has been voted one of the best in England by those who use it. A survey of more than 4,000 people revealed that 96 per cent rated it positively, with particular praise for staff helpfulness and the range of books on offer.”
    • Leicester – Cultural deficit – This is Leicestershire.   “This, in the week following the decision of our Lord Mayor and council to close down other well-used libraries in the city, with their good selection of books, computer use, ever helpful staff, coffee mornings, book readings and other functions. Apparently a cupboard full of books and one part-time member of staff is considered adequate replacement.”
    • Lincolnshire – Villagers threaten to boycott new library at Saxilby over staffing – This is Lincolnshire.   “But villagers have vowed not to use the facility. They argue the new site will no longer have the personal touch because all three of the current library’s staff have been asked to work elsewhere. Instead, the new library will be managed by bar staff already employed at the community centre. There will also be self-service machines. Campaigners also say the use of a bar, local sports clubs and fitness classes at the centre will lead to noise and “rowdy behaviour”.

    “Currently, volunteers work two hours on a Wednesday morning at the library. At the new site, they are being asked to work 14 hours between them each week. Volunteer Jane Kent now says she is considering quitting. She said: “We were told at a meeting in September that we were not becoming volunteers to replace other people’s actual jobs. That’s the condition on which many of us agreed to do it.” Saxilby resident Elaine Parry said: “As far as I know the new facility is going to be a third of the size of the current one – what good is that?”

    • North Lincolnshire – Library opening hours cut after plans are rubber-stamped – This is Scunthorpe.   “Proposals for North Lincolnshire Central Library in Scunthorpe to lose four-and-a-half hours a week and Ashby Library to open for five-and-a-half hours less every week were first put forward in October.” … “After a consultation period, the decision has now been taken to go ahead with the cuts, which will save North Lincolnshire Council £16,000 per year. But a rethink on plans to open Barton Library for longer on an unstaffed basis means it will now open for an additional three-and-a-half hours each week instead of six hours, as originally suggested.”
    • Wirral – Hoylake: then and now – BBC Things To Do.  “Local historian Jim O’Neil will be talking about his new history book, “Hoylake Then and Now” which compares old and new photographs and provides a fascinating insight into the town’s past.” at Hoylake Library.

    “Equivalent Service”


    In the Surrey judicial review, the council’s defence included the claim that volunteers give “equivalent service” to paid library workers. It was pointed out by the council’s barrister that the affected employees were not professional librarians.  She went on that some of the volunteers thought it was “offensive” that campaigners would think that they could not do the work.  It is unclear when the judge in the case will give his verdict, which the campaigners think is “difficult to call“.
    There is a new chairman for the Industrial and Provident Society taking over the running of public libraries in Suffolk.  This seems to good news, as  the previous chairman, Clive Fox, did not seem to particularly impress those concerned with public libraries.  The new chair, according to reports, is made of better stuff.  We shall see.  Whatever the case, and I would not like to say if Mr Fox was pushed or went of his own accord, this has to been as a shaky start for the experimental governance of a county’s library service.  An authority’s public library service deserves better.


    • Enhance your library through play – Librarygame.   “Librarygame™ adds elements that make games engaging and delightful, directly into the library experience. As well as giving library users a fresh and useful social discovery interface, librarygame provides librarians with useful at a glance statistics on how their library is being utilised.”
    • Navigating your library through the “perfect storm” – Ken Chad Consulting.   Interesting presentation on strategy and what libraries need to think abut in getting one.
    • PM urges states to set up public libraries – Deccan Herald (India).  “I see a great hunger for knowledge in our country. We need to provide our people, particularly our youth, access to quality books. I take this opportunity to urge every state government and every municipality and panchayat to pay special attention to the setting up and maintenance of public libraries, including community, locality and village libraries”

    “It is with this objective in mind that we recently commissioned a National Mission for Libraries, anchored in our Ministry of Culture. The Mission will focus on improvement of the public library system of the country particularly concentrating on the states where library development is lagging behind,” [Shame this quote is from India].

    • Pomona rejects outsourcing of library management – Contra Costa Times (USA). After listening to residents speak in support of the Pomona Public Library and its employees Monday evening, City Council members rejected a proposal to pursue the outsourcing of library management services.”

    • Time’s up, Mr Vaizey – BookSeller.   “For months it has become increasingly obvious that Ed Vaizey is out of depth as the minister responsible for libraries—a suspicion that has now become a certainty. Called before the DCMS Select Committee last week, he flunked his big moment…young, inexperienced and, although a good communicator, he has nothing to say. No vision, no plan, no urgency … “.  Lib Dem spokesman Don Foster “notable by his absence”.  “The failure of the political class has been matched only by the energy of the local campaigners who have kept the issue alive.”

    “As for Ed Vaizey one can but hope that when DC shuffles the Cabinet, something he hasn’t done yet, that he’ll get his comeuppance. Rarely says anything and what he does say is rubbish.” Mr G Metliss, Richelieu, France.  In email.  [Mr Vaizey’s record is now international].

    • Two years in: the real cost of the cuts – Socialist Worker.  The coalition government will have been in office for 680 days on budget day. An average of 625 public sector jobs have been lost on every one of those days, according to figures from the Unison trade union.” … “minister Ed Vaizey, speaking to a parliamentary committee on library closures last week, said the problem is that “the library issue is stuck in a binary debate about closures… we should be thinking creatively”. He then went on to talk about an example of such “innovative” thinking—a phone box in the US that local people had put some books in.”


    Suffolk Sudbury Library merged with tourist information centre.  

    Local News

    “Speaking at the meeting, Unite branch secretary Onay Kasab told the cabinet that if they agreed the transfer, union members would strike, making sure they caused “maximum disruption”. He added: “This won’t be some token protest, one day letting off steam, we intend to take action we think will be necessary to get you to change your minds.”

    • Leicester – Ssh! City library could become a concert venue – This is Leicestershire.  The Central Lending Library, in Bishop Street, has applied for an entertainment licence to stage small, intimate gigs at lunchtimes and in the evenings. Adrian Wills, the city council’s head of libraries, hopes the upstairs floor of the building will become an alternative, alcohol-free venue to the nearby busy pubs, clubs and bars.”
    • Plymouth – Labour candidate’s leaflet sparks row over libraries – This is Plymouth.   “Mr Smith said the council should look at alternatives like moving libraries into supermarkets. He pledged that his party would not close any libraries if it got into power this May.”
    • Suffolk – New chair for county’s library board – EADT.   “Ms Bendix takes the reins from Clive Fox who, as the IPS’ inaugural chairman, took the organisation from the drawing board to the board room – putting in place some of the critical building blocks needed to establish the new organisation as a solid base for Suffolk’s library services.”

    “I met Shona [Bendix]  when she and other Board members visited Stradbroke library recently and I think that she will make a good Chair of the IPS and I look forward to working with her as part of the Stradbroke Group.” James Hargrave’s Blog

      • Centre is on the move – Suffolk Free Press.  The [tourist information] centre, formerly in Gaol Lane, will now be based on the ground floor of the library on Market Hill as part of a plan by Sudbury Town Council for the former corn exchange building to become a “community hub”.”
    • Surrey – Library volunteers “would give equivalent service” – Get Surrey.   “… the authority’s lawyers hit back on Tuesday (March 20), arguing there would not be any equality issues because volunteers would be fully trained to provide an “equivalent service” to the current situation.” … “She pointed out that members of staff currently working in the council’s libraries were not professional librarians, but managers and assistants, and that volunteers would be capable of providing the same service to customers.” … “After hearing two days of argument, Mr Justice Wilkie reserved giving his judgement on the case until an unspecified later date.”
      • High Court reserves Surrey libraries decision – BBC.   “Slam spokesman Lee Godfrey said the judicial review would hold the plans up to scrutiny that the council “lacked throughout”. Councillor Helyn Clack, cabinet member for community services, defended the scheme and said the plan for 10 libraries to be run by volunteers was in order to keep Surrey’s 52 libraries in operation. She also said volunteers had been looking forward to launching their own community-run libraries.”
      • Campaigners in court fighting library plans – Guardian series.   “SLAM campaigners tweeting at the end of the hearing said it was “difficult to call” what the decision would be. Surrey County Council has confirmed it will be releasing a statement shortly.”

    The end of Booked Up

    Booked Up, the national scheme that ensured every eleven year old was given a book, has ended, to be replaced by a scheme which will require participating schools to pay £2.50 per pupil.   I was involved in promoting Booked Up to my local community for the last few years.  I can confirm that it encouraged a lot of children to read, just as they were entering that difficult secondary school phase … and every child got a book, regardless of the institution’s ability to pay.  Now that the perfectly good replacement scheme requires a payment, which is hardly surprising in these cash-strapped times, another avenue for equality of opportunity has gone.   It follows on from the attempted complete withdrawal of funding for BookStart funding slightly more than a year ago, which was abandoned after major protests.  If this decision stands – and it is likely that it will – more “Argos catalogue families” (where the only book in the house is the Argos catalogue) will be the result. Another step will be taken towards a world where books are only for those children whose families can afford them. 
    Some more information from the Surrey judicial review has been released.  The major campaigner argument against moving ten libraries out of council control is that the council duties under Equalities Act were not properly undertaken.  This is similar to the argument that was successful in the Gloucestershire/Somerset judicial review.   The council response appears to have boiled down to “a volunteer-run library is better than a closed library”.  It is unclear at the current time  as to when the court’s decision will be announced.


    • Booked Up withdrawn – Teen Librarian.  “Booked Up gave every 11-year-old in England the chance to choose a free book during their first term at secondary school. The aim of the programme was to support and encourage reading for pleasure and independent choice. Year 7 students chose their free book from a list of specially selected titles.” 3.25m books distributed over five years.  No more.  Replacement programmes require schools to pay £2.50 per child. 

    “For everyone though, from Year 6 students to teachers and librarians who were involved in running it the closure of Booked Up is a minor tragedy, one of the many that exist in the current time of cutting expenditure and shuttering non-essential services.”

    “One of the best schemes for encouraging reading has effectively finished. So sad” … “Most school librarians would therefore pay about £500 for books to give away and not for all to enjoy. What are your thoughts?”  Heart of the School on Twitter.

    “In 2010 Booked Up reached over 650,000 children in over 5,000 secondary schools. 73.5% of Coordinators reported that they see evidence of students wanting to read more for pleasure as a result of Booked Up. 56% of students are visiting bookshops more often since Booked Up” Orchard Books blog.

    • Designing libraries gets its own makeover – Designing Libraries.  “With its many examples of inspiring and functional library buildings, Designing Libraries has long been an important and well-used source of information for anyone planning a new library or a library refurbishment. Its database forms a current and permanent record of design development and innovation for both public and academic libraries.”

    “I think it’s difficult to be optimistic about the future of the public library service when so many senior members of the profession have taken on portfolios in local authorities that require them to manage “leisure services”, “transformation” or whatever. They no longer see their primary role as developing a library service, rather local services in general – and looking around for a way to deliver these services more cheaply the library seems rather an obvious location. Sadly for libraries they have also been investing heavily in the technologies that make them even more attractive to fill that role.” Mick Fortune on conversation about “IT in the Library” LIS-PUB-LIBS.  The thread has opened up some empassioned thoughts about the lack of strategic leadership in the profession. Interestingly though, it’s a debate where no-one is arguing that there is strategic leadership. This is a damning indictment of the current, and recent state, of affairs

    • Libraries under pressure – Voice of Russia.   “Britain is reducing the number of public libraries under the pretext of lack of patronage by readers. Protest meetings have been held in London. The situation in Russia is also of serious concern because not all the libraries can compete with the Internet for the dissemination of information. “.  Only 20% of Russian libraries have internet access. … “For a long period of time, the libraries were not bothered by competition, the rural libraries were not given fresh supplies for years  and there are even those which received the latest publications only at the start of the 1990s.” … “In Britain the public organizations encouraging literacy are well funded” [!].

      “People who think libraries are going away simply because books are going digital are missing the true tectonic shifts taking place in the world of information. Libraries are not about books. In fact, they were never about books….Libraries are here to stay because they have a survival instinct. They have created a mutually dependent relationship with the communities they serve, and most importantly, they know how to adapt to the changing world around them. I am always impressed with the creative things being done in libraries. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” There are a lot of beautiful dreams taking place that will help form tomorrow’s libraries.” ” Future libraries and the 17 forms of information replacing books – Futurist Speaker.

    “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” R. David Lankes, The Atlas of New Librarianship

    Local News

    • Bath and North East Somerset – Celebrating volunteering in Council’s libraries – This is Bath.  Library volunteers have been celebrated by Bath & North East Somerset Council with an afternoon of tea, cakes and a visit from bestselling author Lesley Pearse. The annual Volunteers Celebration pays tribute to the huge amount of work that volunteers carry out for the Council’s libraries across Bath and North East Somerset. Almost 100 volunteers now carry out regular tasks as part of the initiative.”

    Don’t forget that tomorrow (Wednesday 21 March) there will be a Library Consultation Meeting in the Old Library building on Knights Hill from 7-9pm. The next one is Thursday 29 March 10am-12pm.” Upper Norwood Joint Library Campaign.

    • Croydon/Wandsworth – And the shortlisted bidders for the Croydon/Wandsworth library contract are … – Stop the privatisation of UK public libraries.   “Have just heard that LSSI are one of the shortlisted bidders for the Croydon/Wandsworth library contract, along with Civica, Essex CC, Greenwich Leisure Trust and John Laing.”. 
    • Gloucestershire – Campaigners demand response from Vaizey – Alan Gibbons.   “Whilst another campaign group are this week forced into having to superintend their own library service via the courts because of Mr Vaizey and Mr Hunt’s inaction, we are STILL waiting, three months later, for a response to our letters.”
    • Isle of Man – Reprieve for Isle of Man’s family and mobile libraries – Isle of Man Today.   “there have been protests and petitions – one with more than 2,000 signatures – against the closure of the libraries. Mr Bell said: ‘I quite understand the concerns being expressed about the changes being proposed for the libraries. We recognise that and a working party has been set up to try to identify ways to maintain services but delivering them in a different way.”
    • Isle of Wight – Cllr Pugh’s library evidence “misleading” – Ventnor Blog.   “I, without reservation, confirm that this is not a personal or political attack on the Leader of the Isle of Wight Council or the Council’s Decision; it is to ensure that the Evidence Committee of the DCMS has access to clear and concise facts when considering the Library Closure Programme, particularly when reviewing the Isle of Wight.” 
    • Kirklees – Denby Dale library campaigners slam Kirklee’s lack of ideas for volunteer plan – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  “Bev Millington from Friends of Denby Dale Library (FODDL), said: “We’re frustrated as we don’t know what the framework is and what they’re trying to achieve by what date? People are unsure about what’s going to happen after the six week consultation process.” FODDL founder, Biddy Fisher, said she thought the whole library service should be reviewed instead of focusing on cutting funding to seven village libraries.”

    “I find it rather insulting to be consulted about something when I know Kirklees Cabinet have sat down behind closed doors and decided what they want. “Why have all the volunteers in one place and all the professional librarians in another?”

    • Surrey – Volunteer libraries battle reaches High Court – Get Surrey.  “On Monday, lawyers for Ms Williams claimed the council had failed in its duty under the Equalities Act to look at how its plans might affect certain “protected groups”, including disabled and elderly people or ethnic groups who do not have English as a first language. Barrister Helen Mountfield QC said these residents relied on their local libraries for “much more than books and internet access”, adding: “Such groups might use libraries for particular purposes, or have a particular need for them. “They may require different kind of service methods or consideration of different particular concerns in relation to layout, stock, encouragement to participate, activities and events, or a myriad of other aspects.” Ms Mountfield added that library staff did not have “merely an administrative role” and were involved in a wide range of activities.  She said there had been a lack of “focus” in the council’s consultation, because it had asked for opinions on library closures – not the replacement of staff with volunteers.”
      • Judicial review:  a review – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.  Main argument from campaigners is that the Equalities Act 2010 is not being followed: “The Claimant’s case in short is that, whereas SCC may have carried out an Equalities assessment of closing libraries, it did not carry out a similar assessment, or any mitigation exercise, based on setting up Community Partnered Libraries. Also, that concerns and adverse feedback about the libraries policy from Disability Empowerment Boards were not brought to the attention of decision makers. And that the answer of, “training will be given to volunteers”, is not enough to show “due regard” …”.  Council’s argument is that running a library with volunteers is better than closing it.
    • Trafford – Breaking news – Hands off Old Trafford Library.   “Option 4 – Maintain 2 Customer Service Advisers in Hale and 3 in Old Trafford.  Plus employ a part time Customer Service Specialist on a fixed term contract to establish the volunteer programme and provide a budget for volunteer expenses of £6,000. This would result in a budget pressure of £67,500 for the retained frontline staffing, £12,000 for the Specialist and £6,000 for volunteer expenses – a total of £85,500″ Even as it stands, this would be a major victory for the community. While we don’t want to see any cuts or redundancies, reducing the paid staff from 5.75 (FTE) to 3, to be supported by volunteers, is a vastly more credible, sustainable and acceptable  plan than the original proposals.”