Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM) report that the judgement from the judicial review is to be handed down in writing tomorrow, Tuesday.  An online gaming company called PokerStars has confirmed that it will fund two libraries in the Isle of Man.  The brave new world of private funding for libraries is advancing awfully quickly, although it appears in this case that the island-based company is being philanthropic or at least doing it for the good publicity.  Similarly, TalkTalk, are supporting a volunteer-run library in Warwickshire. Volunteer-run libraries may be breaking copyright law because their position with Public Lending Right is unclear. The Labour Party is using libraries in its local council electioneering, as is Boris Johnson.  
Finally, the Arts Council are receiving some aggravation for concentrating on the views of senior library managers rather than users or frontline library staff, as the quotes below make clear:
“TLC (The Library Campaign, the national umbrella body for library user groups) confidently looks forward to the invitation to its own panel discussion with Liz Forgan. After all, no ‘people’ business trying to improve would completely ignore its customers (or indeed its frontline staff). ACE cannot afford to be out of touch with by far the most active and inventive advocates for libraries – library users.
And it would be unwise, at a time when drastic cuts are being forced on library managers against widespread public protest, to ask only those managers what a library service should be. For instance, the feedback TLC gets from local people in Lewisham gives a very different picture of its new ‘lively and flexible’ volunteer-run libraries.
Without some kind of consensus, the future will be chaotic. It should not be so difficult.For instance, the panel’s discussion on buildings begins with the familiar mantra that ‘it’s the service, not the building’ – and then every point made underlines the importance of the small local library. 
The real worry is the fact that this leisurely blue-skies discussion is taking place during the worst emergency ever to threaten the public library service – both at local level and in its role as a national network giving equal access to resources nationwide.ACE needs urgently to get to grips with this reality before it starts trying to ‘get thinking “not for tomorrow” but for 5 or 10 years’ time’.
We look forward to helping with this as much as we can – and as soon as possible.”
Laura Swaffield, the Library Campaign, in an open letter to Arts Council England regarding the panel discussion on the future of public libraries organised by ACE last week.

“There is increasing concern that Arts Council England should listen to the voices of librarians and library users in undertaking their “conversation”. Is the current exercise rather like the NHS ignoring patients when consulting about hospital services? While Liz Forgan has met with a panel of senior local government officers, ACE officials seem to be avoiding groups representing library users, local library campaigners and library assistants.” Desmond Clarke


“I think it is a great shame. It’s very sad what’s happened to the libraries in Brent. I read that Brent had closed more libraries than anywhere else in the country. Closing them is something that is actually avoidable as there are boroughs that have actually opened libraries recently.” Boris Johnson offers his support to Brent library campaigners – Brent & Kilburn Times.  “Boris Johnson has offered his support to Brent’s library campaigners – describing the decision to axe half of the borough’s reading rooms as “a real shame”.”  Brent campaigners say “With the kind of breathtaking chutzpah that is almost expected of our politicians, Boris has decided that he does indeed support our libraries. A year too late, and after they have closed. I guess there is an election coming.”

  • Decline and fall of the Library EmpireInformation Today (USA).  “The past 30 years of library history is littered with projects and plans and sometimes just dreams of ways the library might play a more pivotal role in the digital revolution that continues to transform the information landscape around us. Some of those projects never really got off the ground.” … looks at library experience in web directories, library 2.0, virtual reference, intermediated searching [no, me neither – Ian.], public access computing, ebooks. All of these have either failed or are showing signs of failing.  Writer is very knowledgeable and, interestingly, is Vice President of private library company LSSI.
  • Ed Miliband speech to launch Labour’s local election campaign – Labour.  “In Newcastle, Labour councillors have kept libraries open, so families can afford to find a book to read to their children.”
  • Privatized libraries: not so bad for everyone – Library Journal (USA).  “Difficult to tell if it’s been privatized or not. Think about that one for a moment. For the people using the library, it usually just doesn’t matter. Oh, occasionally some patron who romanticizes libraries will wax poetic about the public in public libraries, but for the most part people don’t care. Being open to the public is what makes the libraries public, not where the library staff get their direct paycheck from.” … “Librarians oppose outsourcing library services because it’s bad for librarians.”
  • Public Lending Right “not given in volunteer run libraries” – BookSeller.  Public Lending Right registrar says volunteer-run libraries not covered by PLR agreement but it is a “grey area” and will need the government to look again at legislation.  “Nicola Solomon, general secretary of the Society of Authors, said: “If PLR isn’t being paid by a library then the library has to pay for that use of copyright in another way or it is infringing copyright. If we saw libraries that weren’t paying PLR, we’d want them to be paying something analogous as recompense to authors. We’d have to do think about how to do it and how to enforce it.”.

Sign of the times – Shelving designed for co-located libraries

“developed to meet the changing needs of libraries in service delivery and visitor expectations. [For] Self service, shared services, combined social learning spaces …”

  • Which law are we talking about? – Good Library Blog.  “If the argument is that the only effective and proper place for the scrutiny of the Minister is Parliament, and not the Courts, then somebody ought to alert the Culture Select Committee to their role in the 1964 Act- there ought to be proper regular reporting to Parliament and the Act does need to spell this out. What is happening at present is public deception – the people believe they have recourse to a law which is affirmed by Parliament, but in fact this law is not protecting them at all. This is not because the law is wrong, but because the courts and our legal system are, apparrently, refusing to uphold it.”
  • Woman battling to “protect” St Andrews may save thousands after court win – Scotsman.  Landmark legal decision means, potentially, that library campaigners may be protected from paying high costs if judicial reviews are lost.


Local News

  • Bedford – Local libraries to charge for use of computers Bedfordshire News. “As of Monday morning, computers in libraries throughout Bedford Borough will cost £1.20 for every half hour they are used with the exception of the first half hour which will remain free of charge. There will be a 60p charge per 30 minutes for concessionary users including the elderly, under 16s and people on various types of benefit. Service user Mr Durant, of Elstow Road, Bedford said: “I think this is unreasonable and it demonstrates that the council tax freeze for this year is not what it seems as people are either being asked to pay more for things or pay for services which were previously free to compensate.””

– Preston Library Campaign.  

“Each vehicle is equipped with over 2,000 fiction and non-fiction books, a children’s section, offers public access to free online library services and the internet and talking books.  Its stock is regularly refilled and refreshed from the fleet’s base. Leon Bryant was one of the schoolchildren who attended when the vehicle did a trial run at the school.  Stamping out a book, he described the experience as ‘epic’.”

    • Angry residents force council u-turn on Binley Woods library sale – Coventry Telegraph.   “Residents in Binley Woods were left fuming after the local library site went up for sale – without them knowing. They say promises had been made by Warwickshire County Council officers that there would a full consultation and updates on what would happen to the library site after it closes at the end of this month.”
    • Studley Community Library received financial boost from TalkTalk – Rediitch Advertiser.   “Library has received a financial boost from TalkTalk, the home phone, broadband and mobile provider. The donation provided by TalkTalk will be used to help set up a community library in the Village Hall.”
    • Villagers fear final chapter as libray closure looms – Rugby and Lutterworth Observer.   “People have been discussing the effects the loss of their library will have on village life as they prepare for it to close permanently on Saturday (March 31). And some have decided to band together in opposition to Warwickshire County Council’s plans to sell the site to a private buyer.”

“Once this goes it will be lost as a building for public use forever. We don’t want a restaurant or more houses going up there – we want a building for the community. “We’re a smallish village with a lot of older people, but it feels like there will be little for them to do when the library closes. “Under recent cost cuts, the village has now lost its library, the youth club is on extremely short-term funding and the evening bus service has also been cut. Where will it end?”