The troubled birth of the Suffolk Libraries IPS (Industrial and Provident Society) continues.  Now the largest constituent part of the IPS – a co-op of libraries in Ipswich – has indicated it’s not happy with the proposals.  I’d like to explain why and who is involved but basically it’s all so complicated that I would get it wrong.  Indeed, the whole Suffolk scheme is so complicated that it’s hard to see how it is not going to go wrong.  As one blog says “how on earth this is saving money I have no idea. it just seems to be passing the buck from where I am standing and the worry is more and more of the staff that makes the library service what it is will end up leaving if this continues.”

398 libraries (310 buildings and 88 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.


“We won’t solve our literacy problems until children feel inspired and motivated to read. Public libraries have a critical role to play and a proven impact on literacy, through creative reading programmes such as the Summer Reading Challenge. At independent charity The Reading Agency – creator of successful programmes like the Summer Reading Challenge, and the Six Book Challenge for less confident adult readers – we’d like to see library partnerships in every school improvement plan, and head teachers championing joint work, including ensuring every child is a member of their local library.” Miranda McKearney OBE, Director, The Reading Agency. (Press Release in response to OFSTED statement).

  • Private firm that wants to run Simi library gets high marks, opposition – Ventura County Star (USA). Camarillo City calls decision to do a five-year contract to LSSI an “excellent move.” “Generally speaking, we’ve got better service in terms of our programming and library services,”   ….. “None of the county library employees, more than 20, lost their jobs when the company took over, he said. Company spokeswoman Mia Pezzanite said the company offered positions to all who applied. She said several did not apply and two turned down job offers. “We assume those that who chose to not transition to LSSI were retained by the county,” she said.  Trade unions, though, are unhappy and some ex-employees are similarly unimpressed.
  • UK’s largest music and drama library saved by campaigners – Guardian.   “The campaign to save the Yorkshire Music and Drama Service has won the day. Pleas from more than 2000 choirs, am-dram groups, bands and orchestras have helped the consortium of councils which runs the much-valued loan and information library to find it a new home. Or homes, rather. The collection of music scores for enthusiasts to borrow, the largest in the UK, will be based at Huddersfield while the playscripts and drama material go to Leeds. This has staffing implications and only time will tell how it compares with the current, much-admired joint operation based in Wakefield, but it certainly beats the original belt-tightening plan to sell the lot.”


Bolton Central Library to be open on Sundays and Bank Holidays.  
Cumbria – Harraby Library replaced by self-service book selection in a community centre
Telford & Wrekin Wellington Library to move into co-located building with registrars/leisure centre/cafe/function room/one-stop shop.  19 computers/wi-fi.  Visualisation here.

Local News

  • Bolton – Sunday and bank holiday opening for Central Library – Bolton News.  “Bolton Central Library is to open on Sundays and bank holidays from next month.” … “The review of Bolton’s library service means five branch libraries will close, saving the council £200,000 a year.”
  • Cumbria – New home for Harraby Library – News & Star.   “The new Harraby library, which will be housed in the community centre, will be visited by library staff “on a regular basis”, the county council said, and will operate a self-issue system.”
  • Dorset – Community run libraries a step closer – View Online.  The seven community libraries include Chickerell, Puddletown, Wool, Burton Bradstock, Charmouth, Colehill and Stalbridge”  – Deal for groups is they will “fully independent and self-governed but supported with staffing, books and IT services worth £5,500 each year”.  Council also giving “gift of a freehold or long leasehold interest in the library buildings” it owns.  To be continued on a three (possibly five) rolling basis.  “the council has agreed to ensure that all the buildings are in a reasonable state of repair before handover”
  • Edinburgh – Anti-cuts activists claim council is privatising services “by the back door” – STV.   Importance of Sunday opening stressed, “The Council wants its staff to work magic – longer opening hours staffed by fewer people. Our libraries could start to look like our public toilets – lonely, desolate, slightly scary places with staff almost invisible.”
  • Gloucestershire – Library cash goes to supermarket bosses – Socialist.  “The last consultation was a sham – held in selected shopping centres during working hours; apparently this one has been designed to prove libraries are not wanted, despite the fact that the number of people using libraries in the county has gone up.”
  • Isle of Man – Closure of libraries to dominate Tynwald questions – 3FM.   “The Chief Minister will be asked if he’ll make a statement on how all of the services currently undertaken by staff of the family and mobile libraries will be continued into the future, once they cease at the end of August.”.  Other questions are going to be asked to other ministers on Tuesday next week.
“On Tuesday 20th March 2012 the phone in program on Vectis Radio, the Isle of Wight on-line radio station from 12.00 to 13.00 will be about the resignation from the Ethical Standards Committee by Keith Fagan, a long time and much respected independent member. He is to challenge the comments made by the IW Council leader and to open these comments up to public debate. It should prove interesting as it could also throw more light on the misleading answers given by Cllr Pugh to the DCMS Select Committee. Please, if you have questions you would like answered Vectis Radio would like to hear from you on Tuesday. Phone 01983 527444 or 01983 898548”  Isle of Wight.
  • Kent – Library’s services reviewed by county – This is Kent.  Westerham’s figures have been released – usage is stable, visitor count is increasing.  However, the cost of the library is emphasised as is the option for other branches “within six miles”.
  • Somerset – WI on march again against “Beeching” library cuts – This is Somerset.  “The WI and trade unions have joined forces to step up the battle against library closures. The unlikely alliance was formed on the day Culture Minister Ed Vaizey warned campaigners they must be realistic about library cuts.”.  Petition of over 70,000 handed in to Parliament by the WI.
  • Suffolk – Biggest Suffolk libraries pilot scheme collapses -Suffolk Wordblog.  “The biggest of the pilot schemes for a divested Suffolk library service, a co-operative in Ipswich, has collapsed.”

    “… there have been scant signs yet of leadership from the IPS. There are whispers that contingency plans are being prepared.”

    • Ipswich library pilot collapses as IPS has a difficult start – James Hargrave’s Blog.   “What seems to be emerging is that Fox and the County Council see the future of Suffolk’s libraries as a collection of individual self-governing local libraries rather than a coherent countywide service. This is especially concerning for smaller libraries. There have even been suggestions that some staff might be more or less immediately transferred to local groups meaning such staff would be subject to two TUPE consultations in less than a year.”
  • Telford & Wrekin – Wellington Library on move to new site at centre – Shropshire Star.  “The new library which will be housed at the Wellington Civic and Leisure Centre will open to the public at 10am on April 2, but before that the big move will get under way. Staff will start the mammoth task of moving all the stock and equipment to the new site on Monday.”