While Conservatives and Labour councils their budgets without regard for the most vulnerable, Liberal Democrat-controlled councils know how to protect essential services. Encouraging and enabling reading is vital to the development of children and adults alike. If we don’t give our children the opportunity to practice and perfect their reading skills at a young age, they will struggle to catch up later in life. Libraries are a life-line for local communities, especially for those who are less well off, and give people the opportunity to relax, learn new information and skills or to use the internet if they don’t have it at home. Cutting services like Labour and Tory councils are doing will do long-term damage. Liberal Democrats are doing the right thing thanks to our financial competency in the councils we run. That is also the reason why not only have Liberal Democrat councils kept libraries open, but councils in England have also frozen council tax and are most likely to be giving the lowest-paid council workers a pay rise.” Tim Farron, President of the Liberal Democrats [This is the first national announcement by the Lib Dems on libraries I can remember – Ian.]

  • Made in a library: a free online innovation symposium – OCLC/Library Journal (USA).  A chance to learn about “Maker Spaces” in public libraries.
  • Romania opens national library in communist-era building – Yahoo News (Romania / New Zealand).  “This was a tremendous financial, and not only, effort,” Culture Minister Hunor Kelemen said. “In the 21st century, the state cannot afford not to finance cultural projects,” he added. The impressive construction covering more than 160,000 square feet currently shelters some 750,000 works, 40 percent of which can be consulted.On the long term, more than 12 million books will be stored in the library.”
  • Save Tracy Public Library – Save Tracy Public Library (USA).  Website set up to fight the takeover of a Californian library by private company LSSI.
  • Ten changes to expect from the Library of the Future – Online Universities (USA).  Changes are more technology, sensory storytimes, better English as a foreign language provision, automation, more community spaces, social media, digital media labs, cyber cafes, crowdsourcing, “more active librarians”.


Local News

  • Barnet – Controversial Tory Brian Coleman under investigation by Barnet Council over verbal abuse allegations – Times series.  “The latest allegations stem from a recorded meeting of the council’s cabinet resources committee on April 4, at which members of the public tabled 56 questions about the closure of the Friern Barnet Library. Mr Merchant, 51, took his seat in front of the committee before explaining why he felt the council was wrong to close the library. He finished by telling Councillor Robert Rams, in charge of the borough’s libraries, that he was “fired”.” ..  Cllr Coleman was “busy on his phone while I made my point, which is demonstrative of the fact the council doesn’t listen, and then he looked up, called me a tw*t [NB. not the word “twit”, the other one] and told me to clear off.””
  • Central Bedfordshire – New chapter for Leighton’s library – Leighton Buzzard Observer. “Leighton’s library, first opened in 1979, and the report states it requires some refurbishment, particularly in the lobby area and stairwell. Through additional capital funding and implementation of self-service technology so customers can serve themselves, the Library Service Strategy aims to improve the library’s space usage and layout.” [NB.  £850k investment already reported and included in previous tally]. 
  • Brent – Labour gives away buildings worth £1.5m for nothingBNC TV.   ““The loss of these two buildings is massive blow to the people of Kensal Rise and Cricklewood and a massive financial loss to the Council. I wonder if the Labour Councillors would have given up so easily on buildings worth more than £1.5 million if it was their own money at stake? said Liberal Democrat council group leader Paul Lorber. Liberal Democrats in Brent claim that this is yet another example of Labour’s waste. The council is still paying the £55,000 per year rent due on Neasden Library and the costs of rates and security at other empty library buildings in Brent.”
  • Ealing – Libraries to remain open after £2.2m investment – Net Lettings.  No closures.  £2.2m investment including £900k for Hanwell, £400k for Perivale, £900k for Southall Library to be relocated into Dominion Arts Centre. 
  • Kirklees – Must do a U-turn on its libraries plan – Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Letters).   “Kirkless Council is proposing to replace paid library staff with volunteers in seven libraries. In all these areas there are now campaigns to preserve proper libraries. Libraries offer a vital and essential service to communities – and even more so at a time of rising unemployment and cuts in access to education and training.”

“Lancashire County Council is midway through a £6.5m programme to regenerate its 74-strong network of library branches. It’s aim is not only to keep libraries open but to ensure that they will provide modern, flexible facilities, fit for the 21st century. They are campaigning to change the way people think about libraries, letting them know about a brilliant range of facilities from borrowing the latest best-selling books and DVDs to accessing the internet for free and attending exciting events from children’s activities to live music. This new approach was piloted by West Lancashire Council where eye-catching advertising on billboards and on phone boxes, on buses and on local radio raised the overall numbers of library users by 35%. In Skelmersdale, where much of the advertising was placed, numbers increased by a massive 95%.”

  • Nottinghamshire – Townsend and Trollope praise Notts librariesBookSeller.  “Nottingham has announced it will not close any of its 60 libraries and is to pump £20m into capital programmes and “smaller scale refurbishments” up to 2020. The council said it is refurbishing libraries for residents in Worksop and West Bridgford, with both Sue Townsend and Joanna Trollope already giving their approval to a new-look £3.4m library in Mansfield.”
  • Surrey – Announces review of its volunteer-led library plans – Surrey Comet.  “The matter was due to go back to the High Court in May as part of the judicial review, but the council feels it is not in the best interests of library users or taxpayers to return to court. It will re-consider the proposal in a cabinet meeting on June 19 when it will assess the work that has been done to develop a comprehensive training package for volunteers. In the weeks leading up to the meeting, the council will carry out further consultation about equalities training for volunteers at community libraries.”