“Voices for the Library are trying to put together a ‘manifesto’ for public libraries, a vision for what a 21st century public library service should look like. We want library users, library workers, campaigners etc to feed in their comments as to what they think public libraries should be delivering. Comments can be added to the website, tweeted using #libfesto or entered on our dedicated Facebook Group.  For more information, please see here:  http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/wordpress/?p=2454” Ian Clark, Voices for the Library.


  • Are eBooks a byway on the virtual highway?Envisioning the Library of the Future (Arts Council England).  Guest blog #8 by Barbara Scott.  “Most library services now view virtual services on a par with traditional services.  I believe virtual services will become the norm as demand increases and demand for digital media will eventually outstrip that for printed media. ” … “A world where people lived in electronic connectivity but physical isolation seems too Kafkaesque and I cannot bring myself to say library buildings will no longer be needed.  But I do think they will be radically different, and there will be a need for community spaces as has been alluded to in previous posts on this blog. What may not be needed are huge amounts of shelving space.  Libraries will not only have a reader development function but possibly a skills development one too.”

“In my view ebooks is an issue that touches the very heart of the value of public libraries. My point is that public libraries now operate in a very competitive environment with low cost organisations operating with a global reach. How do libraries compete? What value do they add? We are already seeing modern digital manifestations, from the like of Amazon, of the old commercial circulating library. It reminds me that as a small child the building in my High Street with the word ‘Library’ on it was in fact a general store and *commercial* circulating library. The public library put it out of business in the end. I sense the wheel turning….and a growing sense of loss.” Ken Chad commenting on article above.

  • Are public libraries under-appreciated and under-used? – Alan in Belfast.  Review of Carnegie Trust’s report into public libraries (see yesterday’s posting).  “Over Easter, every available space – including the floor – seemed to be occupied by groups of teenagers revising for GCSE, AS and A-level exams. By lunchtime, the newspapers beside the soft seats were well thumbed and battered. Youngsters were storming around the children’s section. The upstairs cafe always seems to have a steady trade – no one seems to mind the risk of sticky fingers on the newly borrowed books! – and all that activity is before you take in the Lift the Lid open piano sessions every third Saturday. Yet the library could be a lot busier, and reaching out to a great proportion of the local community.”
  • Expect more: demanding better libraries for today’s complex world – Virtual Dave.  New book soon to be published on the subject of libraries, for the non-specialist.  “In Expect More, David Lankes, winner of the 2012 ABC-CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature, walks you through what to expect out of your library. Lankes argues that, to thrive, communities need libraries that go beyond bricks and mortar, and beyond books and literature. We need to expect more out of our libraries. They should be places of learning and advocates for our communities in terms of privacy, intellectual property, and economic development. Expect More is a rallying call to communities to raise the bar, and their expectations, for great libraries.”

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the cost is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” -Walter Cronkite 

  • Unique women’s library is facing closure from cuts – Socialist Worker.  “There is no other collection like this in the world. You can find records of women war workers alongside original feminist magazines and political leaflets from the 1970s. There are papers and archives from Mary Wollstonecraft, Sylvia Pankhurst and Sheila Rowbotham. And 90 percent of the collection has been donated by supporters in the movement.The joy of the library is that so much of the collection is on open shelves.”
    • Women’s library is amazing: it should stay free for all – Socialist Worker.  “In the US, documents on the contemporary women’s movement are kept in several great universities. In contrast the Women’s Library is a single place with a national document collection that can form the basis for future histories and research to be written.”

“It’s a problem when intellectual resources get locked into academia. Even digital access to academic papers and journals online can be too expensive for ordinary people to be able to use them. Now the TUC library’s future is also in jeopardy. This is not because we are a poor society—we are not. It’s a matter of priorities. The Women’s Library came out of the Fawcett Library, which survived the Great Depression of the 1930s.Today it’s vital that we hang on to the right to use all libraries for free.”

  • What’s your vision for libraries? – Voices for the Library.   “Voices for the Library needs your help.  We want to create a manifesto for public libraries, a clear vision for what we believe a 21st Century library service should look like and how it should be delivered.  We have been fighting library closures across the country for a long time. When we formed Voices For The Library our intention was to highlight the positive aspects of public libraries, but our energy has been focused on fighting the immediate threat to them. Consequently we haven’t had time to build a picture of what libraries should be.  It is time to express a clear vision, so that when politicians and the media ask the question we can clearly articulate what a library service should deliver.”


Local News

  • Brent – Barham Park pop-up library goes from “strength to strength” – Harrow Times. “Campaigner Francis Henry, who lives in Compton Avenue, volunteers every week along with his seven-year-old daughter, Gabriella. He said: “The benefits of a library for young people are especially obvious. We have had around 50 members sign up and they keep coming back. Everyone in the community loves it.“We do lots of games and competitions and try to make it as interactive as possible. Surely this shows the importance of needing a library in the area?” The group is also hopeful that Brent Council will allow them to run a library in the former premises in Barham Park, which is currently empty, but this has so far been refused.”
    • Bloggers send Barnet Council a list of demands – Times series.   “They make ten requests; that Brian Coleman is dismissed from the council’s cabinet, that Friern Barnet Library is reopened, that parking charges are reconsidered, that freelance consultants used by the council are paid 25 per cent less and that the council’s top earners receive a 20 per cent pay cut.”
  • Croydon – Future of library provision in Upper Norwood and the surrounding areas – Croydon.   Council has launched consultation on its controversial plans to end its joint funding of Upper Norwood Joint Library.  However, survey apparently ends on 20th May. “Croydon has a network of 12 of its own branch libraries and the Central Library. It currently jointly funds, with the London Borough of Lambeth, the UNJL just across the borough boundary in Lambeth. Funding the UNJL costs Croydon taxpayers £189,000 per year, plus the administrative costs associated with providing the payroll, pension and other employment related services, audit and accounting services. The UNJL is the only library in the UK that is jointly owned by two authorities.  Until recently, the arrangements for the UNJL with Lambeth were operated under a joint committee agreement.”
  • Durham – 6,000 respond to Durham County Council’s consultation over library cuts – Northern Echo.    “Facing cuts of nearly £190m by 2017, Labour-led Durham County Council launched a three-month consultation on cutting opening times to 36 hours a week at 11 town centre libraries and 20 hours a week at 27 community branches. Mobile library services would also be cut back, in a bid to save about £1.5m a year.” … Council says “We will now begin the task of carefully examining all the feedback before a decision is made by cabinet in July. Many people will be aware that the proposals are designed to ensure that all our libraries remain open, despite very large reductions in Government grants.”
    • Protest over library cuts in Consett and Durham – Chronicle Live.   “Durham County Council is proposing cutting opening hours at 11 town centre libraries and 27 community libraries. Mobile library services would also be reduced, in an effort to save £1.5m overall. But protesters against the plan to slash opening hours at Consett library from 50 hours per week to 36 intend to hand in a petition containing 5,000 signatures to County Hall, Durham. A similar petition at Newton Hall, Durham City, has already gained 1,000 signatures while one from Belmont has already been handed into county council headquarters containing 2,000 signatures.”
  • Gloucestershire – Legal bid to prevent library cuts fail – Stroud News & Journal.   Campaigners “battling against cuts to the library service have blasted Gloucestershire County Council after the authority dismissed a legal action challenging their plans. Last month, the Liberal Democrat group on Gloucestershire County Council launched a legal challenge – called a ‘call-in’ – in a bid to stop the council’s planned library cuts.However, a spokesman from GCC said the council’s overview scrutiny management committee had decided not to review the plans.”
  • Kingston – Surbiton Library under threat – Surbiton People.   Council may sell Surbiton building with a replacement in town centre “However, the replacement building would only be rented, wouldn’t have a hall, might not have staff (self-service) and could only carry a small selection of books.”
  • Oxfordshire – Council stays silent over library plans – Oxford Times.  “Library campaigners have told the Oxford Mail they have yet to be contacted by Oxfordshire County Council since the authority unveiled its plans to staff 21 of its libraries with the help of volunteers. The county was unable to answer how many volunteers had come forward since it announced its plan on December 12, while the new post of community libraries co-ordinator – which will carry a pay packet of up to £37,000 – remains unfilled. It said the plans were only meant to have started being phased in a month ago and it was too early to deliver any significant news.”

“Meanwhile the estimated average cost of training each volunteer in first aid and fire safety is £19.75, with all other training being given by the council’s own staff.”

  • Sandwell – Libraries enjoy record number of visits – Sandwell Council.   “During the past year volunteers and work experience placements gave over 7,000 hours of their free-time to support Sandwell Libraries. “This year saw the opening of two new libraries at Oldbury and Blackheath that have been welcomed by the local communities, seeing their visitor figures soar,” added Mr Clark. A major refurbishment has recently been completed at Smethwick Library and an improvement programme is currently underway at Central Library in West Bromwich .”