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  • Booked Up withdrawn – Teen Librarian.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.”