“SIR – I am pleased to see Ed Vaizey, the Culture Minister, reminding local authorities that the library service is statutory (Letters, April 29). I don’t think, however, that his letter to councils deterred them from making closures. That has more to do with the work of campaigners. Legal victories in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Surrey were won despite silence from Mr Vaizey’s department. Alan Gibbons Liverpool” Telegraph (Letters).

Do it in the Library – Jonny and the Baptists.”We hear they’re going to tear down all the libraries.  Don’t want kids reading so I’m told.  Where will the old folks go when its cold? Where will the young go when they’re old?”.  Hilarious song, not for the easily offended.

  • High Court quashes volunteer-run library decision – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.  “This latest Order is a crushing blow to Surrey County Council which has until now tried to claim that it lost the Court case on a technicality and that it could continue with its plans. But now the issue has been put beyond doubt – the Judge has ordered that SCC is in full and substantive breach of the law and cannot implement the decision to proceed with volunteer-run libraries taken in September 2011. The Council must now revert the libraries to the way they were prior to September 2011, including a return of all paid staff, a return of the Library Management System and the return of staff counters. All ten libraries are once again part of the Core Managed Library Network.”

“We wait to hear from SCC after this latest Court Order, but any attempt to continue with the policy would be an affront to decency and the law. The Council has spent a fortune on these library plans for no benefit – it’s now to time to cut its losses and not waste any more taxpayers’ money on the folly.”

    • Judge quashes Surrey County Council’s decision to proceed with volunteer libraries – Public Interest Lawyers.   “Paid staff were able to develop knowledge, both of the library service and its users, which community volunteers spending a few hours in the library could not be expected to provide. In advising the Cabinet on 27 September 2011, Council Officers had simply made short reference to the need for training of volunteers, without any analysis of what training might be needed and whether it would even be possible for training to mitigate the impact of removing paid staff.”
    • Yes, come to the library! Browse and borrow, and help make sure it’ll still be here tomorrow – UK Human Rights Blog.  Reviews the Brent defeat, where racial discrimination claim was seen as “fanciful” and it was decided that it was up the Council to decide on cuts, especially given the scale of the budgetary reductions demanded.  Surrey victory also examined, with article generally siding with the council that the decision was a “technicality” but suggests a “chink of light” for campaigners.  “That there is widespread unease with library closures is beyond doubt, and the unpopularity of such decisions has even been deployed by council leaders highlighting the crisis in elderly care funding. Can the growing opposition to library closures be seen as part of an austerity backlash? “
    • Judge revokes libraries decision – Surrey News (Surrey County Council).   “Last month, the council and the claimants in the case agreed that instead of going back to court, the council’s original decision taken last September should be revoked. Today’s court order formalises that agreement. With this in mind, the council announced last week it would bring the libraries plans back to a Cabinet meeting on 19 June, when it would consider all the work that has been done to develop a comprehensive training package for volunteers. The council is about to start a consultation to ask users of the 10 libraries what equalities training they think should be provided for volunteers at community partnered libraries.”

“So, three authorities have now been ruled to be unlawful in their volunteer run library plans. So much for Mr Vaizy’s “reminders” he is so proud of! Somehow we don’t think they are working!  With such a huge and untested shift in the provision of public services, local authorities should never have been left to stumble so recklessly onto wrong side of the law. DCMS when are you going to do your job? ” Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries. 

  • Local elections: 11 reasons why they matter – BBC.   “Local authorities also run library services – often at the forefront of local campaigns against spending cuts – and are responsible for about 50% of social housing across England and Wales, the rest being run by housing associations.”
  • PA AGM debates free journal access – BookSeller.    “Journal publishers are considering permitting free walk-in access to their content via public libraries, delegates at the Publishers Association a.g.m. heard today”
  • These are your kids on books” poster goes viral – GalleyCat (USA).   “The Denver, Colorado nonprofit literacy group Burning Through Pages has gone viral with a gorgeous black and white poster encouraging parents to share books with their kids. The poster (embedded above) has earned more than 3,500 Facebook likes, 2,500 online shares and hundreds of comments.”
  • Time to vote for libraries – Voices for the Library.   “Thursday May 3rd sees local elections once more taking place across the UK.  Once more, this is a chance to hold to account those politicians who have been behind moves to close libraries or forcing communities into running them themselves. ”  Chance to vote out library cutters in Brent, Doncaster, Camden, Barnet, Croydon, Sutton and others.


Local news

  • Calderdale – Time to stop cuts to “essential” library – Todmorden News.  In April the library’s opening times were reduced, much to the dismay of members of Todmorden Town Council, who feel that libraries play a vital role in difficult economic times. At last week’s amenities committee meeting, members decided to write to Calderdale Council highlighting the cultural and educational value of libraries, plus the fact that many people now use the library for job-seeking purposes.”
  • Croydon – Stops LibDem Paddick from using a public library – Inside Croydon.  “Brian was asked to leave because Croydon Council told the staff that he wasn’t allowed in the library. We assume that’s because they don’t want it publicised that they have withdrawn the funding from what Brian considers to be a ‘jewel in the local community’s crown’.”” [To be fair to the Council, candidates are not allowed to use libraries or other council buildings during “purdah”, the crucial time just before elections – Ian.]
  • East Dunbartonshire – Radical changes at Kirkintilloch library mean “exciting times”  insists council chief – Kirkintilloch Herald.  “The £½million project will see a new state-of-the-art William Patrick Library and a new community hub, or ‘first-stop-shop’, open on the ground floor of the existing library on Monday, August 27.” Library to reduce in size by 10% although “will feel larger”. 
  • Gloucestershire – Local elections: Grange ward showdown – This is Gloucestershire.   “”We recently did a survey of residents, and they had concerns about the library and whether it was safe. They don’t want it to move from Windsor Drive where it is at the moment.”
  • Kirklees – Library campaigners join forces against Kirklees Council cuts – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  “Officials plan to remove paid staff from seven village centres and replace them with volunteers. Kirklees Save Our Services (KSOS) is organising opposition to the plan, which would affect libraries in Slaithwaite, Golcar, Lepton, Honley, Denby Dale, Shepley and Kirkheaton. The group has called a public meeting on May 17 ahead of a planned protest at Huddersfield Town Hall.” … “Kirklees has a £12m underspend even after having made substantial cuts and savings. This cut is completely unnecessary.”
  • Warwickshire – Author Anne Fine to open Bidford-on-Avon community library – BBC.  “Volunteers took over the library after Warwickshire County Council approved cuts to the service last year.  Bidford Parish Council chairman Mike Gerrard said that the first month had been a “great success”.”
  • Westminster – Music Library honoured – Westminster Chronicle. Westminster Music Library has scooped the prestigious International Association of Music Libraries Award for Excellence 2012. The award recognises the outstanding work of the library in putting on events, providing a variety of music and reaching out to the community. It was chosen by an independent panel, chaired by Professor Jan Smaczny of Queen’s University, Belfast. The library, in Buckingham Palace Road, offers books, periodicals and scores for loan or for reference, and also puts on regular music events.”
  • Wigan – Probe over dumped library books – Wigan Today.   “Wigan leisure chiefs have ordered a probe after a library binned some of its books. Staff were seen throwing up to 100 volumes – mostly hardbacks – into a skip. The council says that the books were no longer fit for library use, and were dispatched to the tip. But Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT) says the routine is to try to sell or donate surplus stock, and that sending books to the dump is not company policy.” … “The councillor who raised the alarm over the skipped books blames the incident on the controversial decision to close Atherton library, and “cram” its contents into a resource centre in Hamilton Street.” … “Save Atherton Library Group were appalled when it heard that the library staff had been told to throw the books into the skip, “irrespective of age or condition.””