What’s wrong with Ed Vaizey? – An awfully big blog adventure.  [So good I had to
put it at the top of the post – Ian]


“Public library staff and volunteers in the UK have helped more than 2.5 million people to go online in the past 18 months. Most of these people were completely new internet users, and some were tentative users who lacked confidence in their skills.In September 2010 the Society of Chief Librarians pledged to get 500,000 people online by the end of 2012 as part of the Government’s RaceOnline 2012, led by UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox. SCL President Nicky Parker said: “We have exceeded our target by five times and it is still early in 2012. This is thanks to the thousands of dedicated library staff and volunteers who are digital champions and through whom this achievement has been possible.”Nearly 30% of households in the UK do not have access to the internet at home and for many people the local library is an essential link for access to online resources. Access to the internet is provided free of charge in more than 90% of libraries in the UK.Martha Lane Fox, UK’s digital champion, said: “Libraries are crucial to the success of Go ON UK’s objectives. The thousands of digital champions in libraries and millions of new internet users are to be commended.”” Society of Chief Librarians press release.

  • Future of Library ServicesNeil Stewart Associates.  Your chance to listen to Ed Vaizey and others discuss Government and council public libraries policyfor just £168 to £600 depending on your circumstances.  Alternatively, a video of the event will be available for £99. The themes of the day represent some interesting descriptions of the current deep cuts (“innovative restructures”).
  • Mark Steel: What do we want? More of the same! – Independent.   “Now that parties supporting cuts are losing elections across Europe, I wonder if the Labour Party will consider a policy of opposing cuts. At the moment, they sort of oppose them, so if the Government announces 200 libraries are closing next Wednesday morning, Labour says: “This is typical of this callous administration. They ought to wait until the afternoon.” Their slogan seems to be “We agree there have to be cuts but they’re doing it too fast …”
  • Winners of the Ultimate Christian Library Book 2012 announcedSpeaking Volumes.  “The Adult category winner was ‘Faith Under Fire’ by Canon Andrew White with the Children’s title going to ‘The Lion Classic Bible’ written by Andrea Skevington, illustrated by Sophy Williams. Both Andrew and Andrea were delighted at winning the award and with their £1,000 prize money. The books were clear winners in their category and attracted a large number of public votes. ‘Faith Under Fire’ documents the incredible stress of being a leader of a Christian community in war ravaged Baghdad. Yet despite deep heartache there is much joy and peace that only God can give. ‘The Lion Classic Bible’ unfolds the story of the Bible for young readers and shows God’s enduring Love for his people.”


Local News
  • Brent – Politician takes on marathon challenge in aid of axed Barham library crusade – Brent and Kilburn Times.  Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of the Brent Liberal Democrats, will be running 60km over seven days to raise funds for the axed building, in Harrow Road. The challenge, which he will be undertaking alongside former Lib-Dem councillor Peter Corcoran, will begin on May 30 and culminate in Barham Park on June 5 where residents will be honouring the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which ties in with the 60th anniversary of the buildings opening. Barham Library was shut down last year alongside five other reading rooms in the borough and campaigners have fought tirelessly since to try to have it re-opened.”
  • Croydon – Shy to consult in libraries – ElizCro.  “Croydon, the council that professes efficiency embedded in its DNA, has been caught out again for the shambolic handling of another library consultation. The council not only omitted to advertise the consultation on Upper Norwood Joint Library, it actively promoted it on the council website as not yet open for consultation. “. Council finally mentions consultation “less than a fortnight before the consultation ends and over a bank holiday weekend when the furthest thing from people’s minds in checking the council website.”
  • Devon – Newton Abbot library prepares to move into revamped Passmore Edwards Centre – Newton Abbot People.   “The landmark building is currently undergoing an extensive multimillion pound redevelopment to turn it into a new multi-service facility that will house a modern 21st century library, adult and community learning facility, and services that are supporting people with learning disabilities, as well as an IT suite, WIFI technology, café and meeting rooms available for local groups to use.”

“Newton Abbot residents will be delighted to see the Library, the most prestigious building in the town, re-open on the 25th June and I would encourage people to attend to special preview on the afternoon of the 23rd June to see for themselves the work that has been done to restore the building to secure its future for another 100 years, along with the new facilities that are on offer.”

  • Gloucestershire – Decision to reduce library service in Gloucestershire will not be overturned – Gazette.  Gloucestershire County Council’s overview scrutiny management committee has confirmed that it will not accept attempts by Liberal Democrat councillors to overturn the authority’s decision to proceed with cuts to the library service.”
  • Greenwich – Libraries: workers show fighting back can win – Socialist.  “The most likely attack would have been an attempt to drop council library workers’ pay and conditions to the level of staff employed at GLL. But, in response to the campaign, GLL has now offered to come to an agreement that will confirm they will not do this. In GLL’s original bid to win the contract they said they would “harmonise” pay and conditions. So an agreement to stop this would be a tremendous victory for Unite members.”
  • Harrow – Library users asked what improvements should be made – Harrow Observer.   “Harrow Council’s consultation for modernising its 11 libraries, which runs until May 31, seeks views on all aspects of the service including the appearance and facilities, in-house events and activities. Councillor David Perry (Labour), portfolio holder for community and cultural services, said: “We know Harrow residents love their libraries and the services they provide. It is important that they continue to contribute to building the service for the future.””.  Four roadshows.
  • Hertfordshire – Popular talking books service could be scrapped – Times series.   “Hertfordshire County Council local and libraries cabinet panel will meet this afternoon to discuss whether to scrap its Cassettes for Blind People service over concerns about format and cost.The service currently has 378 regular users in the county and is described in council documents as “running at capacity” but costs the council £51,000 per year to operate. The use of cassettes for the service also has “no viable future” due to advances in technology and the declining availability of cassette players.”
  • Kirklees – “Just how will our libraries be run?” – Hudderfield Daily Examiner (letters).  The writer poses a series of questions about how volunteer-run libraries will work in the council.  Points still apparently unclear include who owns building, responsibility for maintenance, who buys books, what computer system will be used, health and safety, CRBs … 
  • Lancashire – Library prices up to plug gap – Lancashire Evening Post.  “A review of library services recommended a series of price inceases, including raising the cost of hiring orchestral sets from £5 to £20 and play set hire from £2 to £10 per set.  Charges for overdue items has increased from 11p to 15p and a £1 charge has been introduced for the loan of language sets. But the age at which people will have to pay overdue fines and charges has been increased from 16 to 18 and the cost of children’s DVDs has been halved from £2.” … “Coun Calvert said he is also hoping to extend library opening hours after a successful recent trial using volunteers. He said: “In Pendle volunteers came forward and if we can make sure they are responsible for manning it at certain times and using the self service, as well as borrowing more books at a time, we think we can extend the opening times.””
  • Staffordshire – Road-sweeping volunteers next? – This is Staffordshire (letters).  “I’m concerned by the trend towards unpaid staff in public libraries. There was a time when councillors were unpaid and didn’t even get expenses. Now, well remunerated, they dictate that libraries are to close unless manned by unpaid volunteers. What next? Voluntary staff for refuse collection, road repairs and street cleaning?”

“Reporter: Are you or the council persuadable that this plan for volunteer-run libraries should not go ahead?
Councillor: Our minds are always open but nothing has come back and told me this isn’t a workable and a really brilliant idea. We are not going to stop wanting to deliver community partnership.
Reporter: Can you envisage being persuaded by further consultation?
Councillor: Probably not.”