Surrey have admitted defeat, long after it as obvious to everyone else, in the judicial review of their plans to pass on several libraries to volunteers.  They will pay campaigner costs but now will provide a “comprehensive training package for the volunteers”.   This will focus especially on “equality issues”.  This was where the judge decided that the Council was most at fault.  However, it is clear that the Council is planning to continue its policy of transferring the libraries just with some tweaks to fit in with the judgement.  The campaigners remain vigilant….

“We think Surrey County Council has at last come to the right conclusion. The Judge declared SCC’s library plans to be “unlawful”. Despite SCC’s absurd initial reaction that it was “pleased” with the judgment the Council has now accepted that it can not just press ahead with its volunteer-run library plans and must now go back to the drawing board.

SCC is still intent on the policy, though, and will be attempting to retake the decision on June 19th. We expect to see evidence at that meeting that an assessment of  the impact of withdrawing paid staff has been conducted, to then see if that impact can be mitigated by volunteer training. If, as we suspect, training of a continual rota of volunteers to mitigate the loss of paid staff is not enough, we would expect the Council to abandon its plans.”  Lee Godfrey, SLAM.


  • Banned books and freedom of information – Infoism.  Telegraph article on public libraries “censorship” shows weakness/bias of freedom of information requests.  “books are not being banned in libraries.  There is no effort at censorship on the part of either librarians or library authorities.  There is care and there is consideration about how to address these concerns (as you would expect), led by professionally trained staff who are fully aware of their duties as professionals.” … “Stories such as these create the impression of state-employed do-gooders who will happily censor works that they deem offensive or not befitting of library users (regardless of whether this goes against professional ethics).  This is highly damaging not only to the perception of libraries amongst the public, but also the perception of the profession.”
  • Funding a Library Development Agency – Good Library Blog.   “The public library service needs a decent PR agency to look after it – and then the good it does would clearly be shown to outweigh the old fashioned nonsenses with which it is often labelled Councils should collectively employ a PR agency and manage it through a development group” … “The development agency could also host one libraries website, run one libraries catalogue, obtain decent procurement contracts fromn publishers, create one set of standard processes, manage one library management system etc etc … and save a lot of money – but it is councils and councilllors that need to call for it, set its agenda and make it work properly, and not MP’s and quangoes in government”
  • Guest Post #7 Library unchained, by Chris Meade –  Envisioning the Library of the Future (Arts Council England).  “As writers, we don’t need publishers and we don’t need libraries like we used to.” …”Too much of the discussion around libraries feels like a get together of Wurlitzer fans, nostalgic for a lost cause, not champions of the best means of access to knowledge in the 21st Century.” …”we’re Unlibrarians, with a massive collection of information online that we try to navigate our way through, aided by search engines, colleagues and friends, learning on our own terms, mapping our own development.”.  However, “Now more than ever our communities vitally need a local breathing space” … “Nobody used to come to libraries for the reassuring smell of books – they wanted knowledge and grew fond of the whiff of inspiration and empowerment which they imparted.”
  • Sacking a Palace of Culture -New York Times (USA).  New York Public Library to “spend $300 million to transform the main building, long devoted to reference, into what sounds like a palace of presentism.” … “the renovation will create up to 20,000 square feet more public space than is now available in the three Midtown buildings combined. I wonder, though, if by public he doesn’t really mean popular.”

“Confirmed authors at the Ultimate Christian Library Book Award include Canon Andrew White. Andrew’s book ‘Faith Under Fire’ is one of five books in the adult category shortlist. Andrew is flying in from the USA en route to the Middle East and will be interviewed along with Canon David Winter, guest presenter, during the award ceremony. Other guests include Nick Page, ‘The Wrong Messiah’ and Susie Howe ‘Resistance Fighter’ both contenders for the Adult Category prize plus Andrea Skevington ‘The Lion Classic Bible’, Andrew Guyatt ‘The Oncoming Storm’ and Hannah MacFarlane who wrote ‘Babylon’ representing the Children’s category. ‘We’re delighted that so many authors will be present – each book is a worthy contender for the two prizes of £1,000 but it’s the public who’s decided and they’ve certainly voted enthusiastically!’ remarked Paula Renouf, director of Speaking Volumes who are the organisers of the award.Everyone is welcome to the ceremony at 12 noon in the Parkview Suite at Sandown Racecourse during CRE. Plus, the first 100 guests will receive a free ‘literary’ goody bag” – Canon Andrew White confirms attendance at Ultimate Christian Library Book Awards – Speaking Volumes press release.


Local News

“The transfer of Kensal Rise Library and Cricklewood Library to All Souls College has deprived the local community of facilities valued at £1.5m by Brent Council officers. According to the report presented to the Executive on 15 November 2010 (section 4.2) Kensal Rise Library has a building market value of £772,034 and Cricklewood Library has a value of £724,765.The buildings were erected on land provided by All Souls College Oxford using funds contributed by Willesden Urban District Council taxpayers, a donation from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and public donations. The terms of the land transfer meant that local people could use the land to provide libraries for ever for the benefit of local people.” Brent – Liberal Democrat group press release

  • Brent – Councillor behind Willesden Green Library demolition sees “no architectural significance” of Victorian building – Brent & Kilburn Times.  The remarks were made at a packed Town Hall meeting on Monday night when a petition signed by 3,500 people was handed into Brent Council against the plans to knock down the library in High Road, Willesden Green.Cllr George Crane, lead member for regeneration and major projects, said: “My response was a genuine one. I saw no architectural significance on the Victorian building”.  Campaigner says “this means losing a much-loved Victorian building, a treasured independent bookshop and an open, communal space. There will be almost no parking, no kids’ playground and no library for 18 months, just when you’ve closed six libraries.”

“To get to the short-term benefit of the new cultural centre, we have to sacrifice the soul of the High Street.”

    • Protesters urge council to shelve library proposals – London Evening Standard.  “Protesters handed over a 3,600-name petition at a meeting last night, calling on Brent council to listen to residents over the planned development of the Willesden Green Library Centre.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Flackwell Heath’s “Big Society” library won’t be the same, says villager – Bucks Free Press.   “”The chairman and vice-chairman of the unelected, self-appointed committee in your picture are both Tory councillors. Using this tawdry project they are desperate to try to cover up the damage that they and their friends have done.” He said the £33 billion being spent on the high speed rail project could have been spent on libraries instead.Dave Johncock, chairman of The Friends of Flackwell Heath Library, said: “Many of us would agree with Mr Wiles that it would have been much better for all concerned had Bucks County Council not been forced to consider the possibility of closing the Flackwell Heath library in the first place.” However, massive government cuts require the move.
  • Dorset – Mobile will replace Portland Underhill facility – Dorset Echo.  “The island’s Underhill Library closes at the end of April and the mobile library service will visit the area every Monday, starting April 30.” … “Talks with community representatives failed to spark any interest in taking over the running of the building, which is leased by the council and will revert back to its landlord following the closure.”
  • Enfield – Chase train travellers given book incentive to sign up to libraries – Enfield Independent. “Customers of My Coffee Stop, at Enfield Chase Station, were offered a copy of the Charles Dickens classic A Tale of Two Cities yesterday as part of World Book Night, set up to give away a million free books.”
  • Hampshire – Library e-book downloads up 67% at Hampshire’s librariesBBC.   “The county council’s was one of the country’s busiest online library services in 2011/12, with about 5,000 [roughly what a branch library should be doing in a day or two – Ian.] downloads every month. But the number of traditional books borrowed from Hampshire libraries fell by 37% compared with nine years ago.”
  • Kirklees – Save Denby Dale Library – Kirklees Council.  Epetition.   “Due to funding cuts, several libraries in the Kirklees area – including the library in Denby Dale – are threatened with losing their paid staff. Libraries are too important to rely upon voluntary staff: they engage the whole of their local society; forming a hub of community life, and enabling lifelong learning. If the services of qualified staff are lost, it is likely that the professional skills, knowledge, and expertise necessary to this role will also be lost, and the resulting library service will be sadly diminished, and may eventually cease.”
  • Medway – Council set to swing axe and cut 70 jobs – Kent News.  As part of changes, the council will continue its programme to create a community hub in each of Medway’s town centres. This will see customer contact point and library staff becoming a joint team providing services under one roof. This will allow people to go into Medway’s five town centre libraries to order services, and seek advice across more council work areas than they have been able to do before. They will also be able to pay many bills.”
  • Nottingham – New chapter for library services in St Ann’s – My Nottingham News.  New joint building replaces the old St Ann’s Library … “a number of services under one roof, including the library, GP and health services and housing services.”.  Library includes work club, conversation class, readers group and knitting group.  
  • Suffolk – Bungay Library celebrates dawning of new era – EDP.   “Bungay Library has become of the first libraries in Suffolk to be run by the Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), which was set up by the county council to oversee all of the county’s library services.”. Bungay was under threat.  ” “We agreed last year to become a pilot under the new structure and have spent the last several months preparing a business plan, and identifying the most appropriate form of legal entity to adopt for the new Bungay community library.” The library has been charged with saving £2,000, as part of a county-wide £100,000 reduction, and Mrs Knights said they intend to conduct fundraising to help meet this target.”
  • Surrey – Council admits court defeat but “war” goes on – Get Surrey.  “the local authority said that, having “carefully considered” the judgment handed down by Mr Justice Wilkie, it was “not in the best interest of library-goers or taxpayers to return to court”. The council’s lawyers will now work on a legal agreement with solicitors acting for the claimants who brought the judicial review action on behalf of the Surrey Libraries Action Movement (SLAM). It is thought this will include provisos that any decisions taken in the future by the council will have to comply with Mr Justice Wilkie’s judgment and that all of the claimant’s legal costs be paid by the authority.”
    • Council to take libraries decision again – Surrey News.  “In the weeks leading up to that meeting, the council will carry out a further consultation about equalities training for volunteers at community libraries.”