Evidence from the Public Lending Right office shows that the rush to volunteer-run libraries is taking place without even basic checks to the legal.  This from Gloucestershire:

We have received clarification from the PLR Registrar today that our community run libraries do not come under the PLR umbrella as explained here . Gloucestershire County Council have been giving out misinformation.  GCC claimed that, because the community libraries were using the same LMS as them, their lending came under the authorities public lending scheme. They don’t. In fact this complicates things further as the community loaning figures will need “disentangling” from the authorities statistics. Things are messy than we thought.  I am absolutely astonished and dismayed at how ill-thought through this sudden rush to dump libraries on communities is and am wondering where is the leadership and guidance in all of this?! ” Johanna Anderson, Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries on Lis-pub-libs.

Leadership has been notably lacking from anyone on this matter, other than some campaigners who appear to be still quaintly believing in the rule of law.  First off we had the often successful, but expensive and time-consuming, challenges to library closures up and down the country and now this.  A lot of councils, and the DCMS, are giving the impression that are making it up as they go along.  Presumably councils and the Government have legal departments to check on this sort of thing?  They seem to be plenty in evidence to fight campaigners trying to save libraries but not so keen to do basic checks beforehand … and basic is sometimes all that is needed. Consider this from one phone call that anyone could have made but didn’t:

“[Dr Parker, head of the Public Lending Right office] said that if the authority is not legally responsible for the community libraries then they are not part of the statutory provision, are not covered by the 1964 Public Libraries Act and will not be covered by PLR. PLR is part of the copyright act and allows book lending by public authorities. Mr Parker confirmed that regardless of the “family” label Ms Grills and Ms Laurence have decided to give the community libraries, and regardless of the fact that they have access to the library management system, the community libraries fall outside the PLR umbrella.” PLR confirms GCC community libraries not covered by public authority lending scheme.

The person making the phone call was not employed to do legal checks.  She was not even legally qualified.  She just cared enough to check. Of course, it’s not just the right to loan books that should have been sorted out years ago.  It’s e-books as well.  In that area, there seems to be some progress with Mr Vaizey (under some pressure from others such as his opposite number Dan Jarvis and the Society of Authors), appearing poised to launch a review.  One would have hoped for more action than this, considering that not being able to lend e-books could potentially doom public libraries to irrelevance in the foreseeable future but it is at least a good sign that something might be done.  One day.
While we’re on the subject of prolonged delays, a campaigner colleague has pointed out to me something else that is taking an unnecessary length of time. What has happened to the CMS Select Committee Report given that written evidence was called for last January and the last evidence session was in May?  Considering the increasing rumours that the DCMS is not long for this world, the three months to respond to the report when it finally sees the light of day seems rather optimistic.  Or perhaps that is the point.  Kick it in the long grass long enough and people forget about the ball.


  • Complete this questionnaire if you are part of a library campaign group.   “I am conducting a research project (based at Cardiff University) on the public library service and campaigns to defend the service. The results will contribute to doctoral research and the publication of academic articles. I am particularly interested in studying how much co-operation and collaboration there is between library service user groups and library staff, and especially the staff’s union, UNISON. I have previously carried out some research for UNISON on the public library service …” Steve Davies, Cardiff University.


  • Arts Council England publishes annual review 2011/12 – Arts Council England.  “Last year we assumed new responsibilities for museums and libraries, formerly held by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). We built on our strategic framework Achieving great art for everyone to produce a similar approach to our new remit with Culture knowledge and understanding: great museums and libraries for everyone. We adapted the MLA’s Renaissance programme to create a new museums funding scheme, and used the Libraries Development Initiative and the libraries consultation to begin to create a compelling and resilient vision for future public library services.”
  • Cipfa to compare libraries – LocalGov.  Further confirmation of decision by Ed Vaizey announced in recent speech for comparing library authorities to spot possible inefficiencies/best practice.
  • Civic pride is alive and well: but no thanks to Cameron – Guardian.  “Contradicting rumours that the prime minister’s once-central project, that of passing the state over to countless “little platoons” of volunteers, had expired once and for all with the exit of its originator, Steve Hilton, Downing Street chose the arrival of the Canal and River Trust to demonstrate what redundant librarians already know: that there are many places in which Hilton’s pretext for social and cultural vandalism still inspires and vindicates.”
  • E-readers and tablets “encourage children to read” – Huffington Post . “less than two thirds (61%) of those polled said that they have registered their child at the local library, or borrowed books for them to read.” [Librarians would of course phrase that “nearly two-thirds” – Ian.].
  • Fifty Shades of Grey boosts local libraries – Guardian.  Extra copies of the book have been ordered and reading time for each loan reduced in a way which the Teesside town has not seen since the heyday of J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter series.” … “Good-hearted authors sign petitions against closures. But writing a best-seller looks more effective. So says Hartlepool”
  • “Guerrilla libraries” pop up along Meewasin Trail – StarPhoenix (USA). “Anya Hamman steps over the painted rocks under the Broadway Bridge and points to a hollow under one of its massive pillars. In the hollow stands two full book shelves attached together in the shape of a traffic sign, one of six collections around the city that Hamman and her team call guerrilla libraries.” … “The idea for the libraries came after Pike Lake resident Shaunna Raycraft threatened to burn her inherited collection of 300,000 unsorted books if she didn’t get help sorting and donating them.”
  • Liquor shops replacing libraries in Bihar – Times of India.   Claims that “Bihar government was replacing libraries with liquor shops to earn Rs 1,500 crore as revenue from excise tax, while the people of the state are spending around Rs 13,000 crore on treatment of liquor-related ailments.” … “Singh lamented that all the libraries opened during the freedom struggle or even later were languishing and many of them were on the verge of closure.”

“He said that during demonstrations, women and youths of the areas were shouting slogans like “Sharab nahin kitab chahiye, madiralay nahin, pustkalay chahiye” (We want books not liquor. We need libraries not liquor shops).”

  • Report from Save the Women’s Library meeting – Women’s Fight Back.   12,000 signatures collected.  “A packed room of onlookers heard from a range of activists involved in the campaign: Bea Campbell, a Guardian journalist who has been covering the story; Susan Langford, the director of Magic Me, an initiative to get local women involved with the Women’s Library; Gail Cameron, a worker and trade unionist at the Women’s Library and Jade Baker (myself), activist with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts Women.”  Wealthier universities showing interest in taking collection.
“-Blue Peter: ran a major feature on Thursday 5 July as part of the “Bringing Books to Life” series. The next will be on July 19, with three more to come on August 16, 23 and 30. The website also features the Challenge – http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/shows/blue-peter
– The Sun “Library is treasure for kids” – books page interview yesterday with Michael Rosen promoting libraries and the Challenge
· Evening Standard: “Gruffalo author: Help children to reading medals” – headline news coverage on Thursday, p2 and editorial comment p14
· Guardian online: the Children’s books page has an article promoting the Challenge with book recommendations from authors supporting the campaign + “Gruffalo author launches Summer Reading Challenge” news story http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jul/13/gruffalo-summer-reading-challenge?newsfeed=true
· Press Association: “Technology Gives Boost to Children’s Reading” UK news story ; Sky News TV: broadcast 08.45hrs; Sky News Online: “Technology Gives Boost to Children’s Reading” – went live following TV broadcast – ; Huffington Post UK “E-readers and tablets encourage children reading” http://huff.to/NS0LUi; Summer Reading Challenge: media coverage so far.
  • Vaizey to announce e-lending review – BookSeller.  Article available for subscribers only until Monday 16th. “The print edition of The BookSeller has a lengthy report by Lisa Campbell headed “Vaizey To Announce E-Lending Review”, which could potentially “ break the deadlock” on the issue with comments by Mollet, Mackenzie and Clarke. It also reports that Dan Jarvis MP called for “an effective and credible” task force and that Justin Tomlinson MP had outlined some suggested ideas. It seems that the DCMS is poised to announce an independent cross trade review. Neill Denny, Editor in Chief of The BookSeller has written a thoughtful editorial in the print edition headed “E-book lending needs fixing”.” [via Desmond Clarke].
  • We should pay librarians, authors, editors and publishers – Good Library Blog.   “We shouldn’t fool ourselves that the ‘Public Lending Right (PLR)’ payment is proper compensation for this work: firstly it only goes to authors, and not to editors and publishers, and secondly it is a token amount. It is a very important device, but it is more symbolic than it represents true worth. For 300 million book loans last year PLR paid out about £6m – which is 2p per loan, or £2 for a 100 readers. Not even two cups of tea.” … Current system pays authors inadequately and does not pay publishers/editors at all.  This should be changed.
  • Why Toronto West Detention Centre inmates can’t read library books – Star (Canada).  No books for two years as volunteer retired.  “jails have relied on volunteers since 1996 when the province laid off all librarians in correctional institutions.”


Local News

  • Cornwall – Library privatisation on the cards for Cornwall? – A Lanson Boy.  My other major concern is that some of the services being considered for transfer to the private company (privatisation is an accurate description) include libraries and one stop shops. I believe these are core council functions and should continue to be run by the council with its elected and accountable members.”
  • Croydon – Library campaign invokes Lord Denning in official complaint – Inside Croydon.  Campaigners considering complaint to Local Government Ombudsman about alleged maladministration by the lead Cllr Bashford, previously in charge of libraries.
  • Three organisations named in Croydon libraries joint operation shortlist – This is Croydon Today. “The candidates are Wandsworth’s in-house library service, John Laing Integrated Services Ltd, and social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Ltd.” … “Under the new proposals all the Croydon libraries will remain open, but the management company will be charged with improving services, becoming more responsive to customer needs and providing better value for money for council taxpayers. The council will continue to own the library buildings. The three shortlisted organisations will now undergo further discussions with both councils before putting in their final submissions. The preferred bidder will be chosen later this year.”
  • Durham – County Council leader hits out at library critics – Journal. “The decision to slash library opening hours across a county should not be criticised because the libraries are at least being kept open, it has been claimed.” [The council leader appears to be using, either directly or indirectly, the figures from Public Libraries News to justify the cuts, a possibility that I had not considered when I started this website – Ian].
  • Hounslow – Heart of Darkness? A trip to Hounslow Libraries –  Stop the privatisation of public libraries.  Hounslow is the only currently privatised library service. Hounslow Central Library advertises for volunteers.  Tired furniture but good bookstock apart from reference.  New Heston Library recently refurbished. “LIS claim that they have increased “library attendance by 7%” and that they provide monthly performance figures to LBH as well as carrying out daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly inspections. But it won’t be publicly available due to it’s sensitivity.” Links.
  • Lancashire – Libraries to get £3m facelift – BBC.   “”Despite the fact that we’re having to face up to significant financial challenges, this investment illustrates our ongoing commitment to the county’s superb libraries.”

“We realised a few years ago that our libraries were dying and unless we did something about it, they were slowly going to become unsustainable. We looked at how libraries operated in Australia, Sweden and other parts of the world and realised we needed to do more to attract people back to libraries. That meant investing in new computer equipment, opening up areas for students to study and bringing in DVDs and electronic books alongside all the things our libraries have always done. We evicted the ‘be quiet brigade’ and opened them up.”” “Shabby” Harris set for overhaul – Lancashire Evening Post.

  • Lincolnshire – Skegness Library will stay where it is says councillor – Skegness Standard. “Elsewhere in the county, several libraries have been moved into shared premises and others will be considered on a ‘case by case basis’ as part of proposals to save a third of the council’s budget for the service.”
  • Oxfordshire – Summer reading challenge. Failing at literacy – Question Everything.  “Oxfordshire County Council, the council that runs the schools in Oxfordshire has the worst key stage 1 results for literacy at age seven in the UK. It recently lost its bid to be world book capital, this despite having one of the best universities in the world. It is also cutting 313k from its libraries budget”. “Today is the start of the Summer Reading Challenge, a libraries initiative to get children and adults reading. I don’t have the data (yet) but I bet anyone a pound that the 80 schools targeted by their new scheme are also the areas where there is poor participation for the Summer Reading Challenge.”
  • Portsmouth – Box of magic tricks – About My Area.   Libraries Writer in Residence talks about work with schools. “I have used a day per week to do flash fiction WeLL What’s Your Story events at 10 schools (a mix of Infant, Primary and Secondary),  8 public drop in WeLL What’s Your Story? sessions (at libraries and other venues), given 2 talks about being a writer in residence ( 2 more booked), 3 radio interviews and attended 2 book award events.”
  • West Sussex – More county libraries to be revamped – West Sussex Gazette.  Self-service in many more libraries in authority.
  • Worcestershire – Catshill residents reminded to take part in library consultation – Bromsgrove Advertiser.  “The approach so far has been to share some library buildings with other services, work closer with partners on the running and delivery of services, and to see where local people could get more involved.”, “The council is keen to help facilitate a service which could be run by local volunteers from nearby Catshill Middle School.”.  Catshill Library will likely close after consultation.
  • York – Opens UK’s first library reading cafe in Rowntree Park – Guardian.  “While many local councils face increasing difficulties in keeping libraries going, York is opening new ones by combining their traditional role with other attractions. The latest is in Rowntree Park, a delightful place to go for a stroll, nap or fresh-air games, and has a cafe with free wifi” … “The LRC opens this Saturday, 14 July, which marks the 91st anniversary of the park’s opening (and the 223rd of the storming of the Bastille). It is housed in the park’s renovated Edwardian teashop and the staff include two apprentices taken on as another part of the socio-economic benefits of the scheme.”