In a move motivated apparently largely by a belief that it will improve the service rather create savings, Surrey has confirmed that ten libraries will be volunteer-run by March 2013.  This is the second time that Surrey has tried to implement volunteer-run libraries: its previous attempt was rejected by a judicial review.  The Council simply redid the bits that the Judge said was lacking and repeated its earlier plans.
The council press release boasts that “A teacher, a GP and a psychologist are among an army of volunteers who will help unleash the full potential of their local library”.  Paid library staff have, it appears to be implied,  somehow been holding this potential back.
So, why the change?  Well, “Volunteers can now take a library that is closed three days a week and open its doors daily. They can cater for the commuter rush, hold evening classes, community events or online author talks to help fulfil a library’s potential.”.  However, quite apart from an apparent under-valuing of paid staff, the decision may not be quite as popular with communities than the press release implies.  Surrey Libraries Action Movement, who were instrumental in bringing about the judicial review, have repeatedly asked the Council to rethink its plans.  That the Council appear to have completely refused to do so suggests that the revolution in providing services may not be quite as customer-driven as described, especially as it appears that no-one in the county apart from councillors actually preferred volunteers to council-run branches in the first place.
We can only hope that this is not a harbinger of  the final result of the Doncaster judicial review, which had its first day in court today.  It should not be as, although the Mayor there is also wanting to force libraries onto volunteer groups, he has done so directly against the majority wish of councillors.  The oddity of elected mayors withstanding, that to me looks like a pretty big no-no.  But with the general weirdness of politics and legislation in the UK, nothing is for certain.  Cross fingers for next week when the judge reads out the decision.


  • Petition – Against the Law Society’s attempt to sell off  a unique historic collection of several thousand manuscripts, early books, and pamphlets.
  • Date for you diary Speak Up for Libraries conference, November 10th, CILIP HQ, near London Euston.


Watch The Library of the Future on PBS. See more from Conversations.


  • Libraries left on the shelf with 40pc less spending – Yorkshire Post.  Libraries in Yorkshire and the Humber are chronically under-funded with some councils spending more than 40 per cent less than the national average on services, it can be revealed today.”.  Survey of library spending in the area, linked with the Doncaster space. “All but three of the region’s local authorities spent less than the national average of £17,106 per 1,000 people in 2010/11, figures gathered by the Yorkshire Post through a Freedom of Information request reveal. The average amount spent in the region was just £15,266.13.”  Councils defend lower spending levels as “value for money”.
  • PA argues against PLR transfer – BookSeller.  Publisher’s Association against the apparently done deal of closing down the Public Lending Right office and transferring its functions to the British Library. “”We encourage the government to spend its efforts on extending PLR to e-books and audiobooks rather than interfering with an existing efficient system. Making further changes to the library service, at a time when issues such as payment of PLR by volunteer libraries and remote lending remain unclear, can only cause further uncertainty.”
  • PLR and volunteer-run libraries – Society of Authors.  “Our General Secretary, Nicola Solomon, has again written to Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, about PLR and volunteer-run libraries. Read our letter of 23 July.Following an article from the libraries campaign group, Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (Is Gloucestershire County Council giving unlawful advice to Community Libraries?) which prompted the PLR Registrar to confirm that volunteer libraries outside a council’s statutory provision would not pay the PLR, Nicola Solomon sent a letter to culture minister Ed Vaizey on 17 July to raise a number of concerns.”. The response from Ed Vaizey does not answer the main points we made previously and Nicola Solomon has therefore written a reply and further request to answer our points – particularly in relation to European obligations.

“The Public Lending Right (PLR) Registrar will decide after careful consideration, on a case-by-case basis, whether any particular library falls within the statutory public library service provided by Local Authorities and Councils to the public. If a library falls within the PLR scheme loans of books from those libraries will be relevant for the calculation of PLR payments to authors by the Registrar. ” Public Lending Right: How it applies – DCMS.

  • Threat to authorsSpectator.   Authors are getting cross. Generally a polite bunch, authors are alarmed at the ongoing, serious threats to libraries (which they continue to campaign against) and also the knock-on effect for the lowest-earning authors.” … “there has been little advice or oversight from DCMS as councils rush to increase the use of volunteers” … “Taking community libraries out of the statutory scheme will not have an immediate effect on authors’ incomes as the Government allocates a fixed amount to PLR (£6.3 million for 2012/13)”

Taking volunteer libraries out of the scheme will lead to a drop in book loans which may encourage Government to propose cutting the already meagre fund still further. The DCMS simply ignores this point. The Government is in breach of its obligations under European law if community libraries are not covered by PLR, as authors are entitled to equitable compensation for any such loans. Again the Government ignores this point.”

  • Toronto Public Library to advertise on date-due slips – Marketing (Canada).  This copy of Fast Food Nation brought to you by McDonald’s? In an attempt to diversify its revenue and funding sources, the Toronto Public Library (TPL) is seeking an agency partner to provide it with advertising services on the back of the date-due slips issued to borrowers.”
  • Winner of the Travelling Librarian Award to explore how American libraries put citizens at the heart of the democratic process – CILIP.  “The award, open to CILIP Members, builds relationship between library and information professionals in the United Kingdom and their counterparts in the United States through a professional development study tour. The award of approximately £3000 will cover George’s flights and some of his accommodation. Winners are encouraged to take up home hospitality with ESU  branches in the US.George is Senior Indexer at the House of Commons Library and intends to use his grant to study how libraries in the United States can enrich the democratic process during the 2012 Presidential elections”


Surrey –  Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham will be volunteer-run by April 2013.  No savings will initially be made by transfer.

Local News

  • Brent – Friends of Kensal Rise to attend “Block Viewings” at library – Wembley Matters.  “Cluttons, the property agents for All Souls College will be holding ‘Block Viewings’ of the library on Wednesday 1 August from 9am to 12 noon.This will give ‘interested parties’ an opportunity to view the library with a view to purchasing or leasing the building. The Friends of Kensal Rise Library are preparing their proposal to the College and will be at the library too. “
  • Doncaster – Judicial review into Doncaster libraries to go ahead today – Doncaster Free Press.  Leeds Combined Court Centre will today hear arguments challenging the decision of elected mayor Peter Davies not to change his budget plans after two-thirds of councillors voted in favour of an amendment to allocate funding to the libraries. An unnamed resident, with the support of the Save Our Libraries campaign, brought the application to judicial review. The campaign group fears community-run services are not sustainable and that handing libraries over to volunteers will lead to more closures in the long-term. Carcroft and Denaby Libraries have been closed and 12 other libraries have been turned into community-run institutions.”
  • Harrow – Motion on the privatisation of Harrow Library Service – Stop the Privatisation of Public Libraries.   Motions presented to council on the proposed move.
  • Kent – Save the Mendham Collection at Canterbury Cathedral Library – Infoism.   “Last week it emerged that The Law Society’s Mendham Collection, currently on deposit at Canterbury Cathedral library and under the joint custodianship of the University of Kent and the cathedral, is in the process of being broken up in preparation for auction at Sotheby’s.  The collection is, as The Law Society website describes, “a unique collection of Catholic and anti-Catholic literature including manuscripts and printed books ranging from the 15th to the 19th centuries”” … “I would urge everyone concerned about the break-up of this unique and valuable collection to sign the University of Kent’s petition and put pressure on The Law Society to work with both the University and the Cathedral to ensure the collection’s preservation.”
  • Kirklees – Are they listening about the libraries? – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.  “Clr Pandor and the senior library service managers present apologised for the poor communication and consultation throughout the review, saying they had learned a great deal from the process and would be improving their approach during the continuing borough-wide review of the library service.”
  • Lambeth – Community hubs already – Lambeth Save Our Services.  Worry that handing over libraries to “private organisations” and argues that libraries are already real “community hubs” … “You do not empower communities by taking £750,000 away from essential services”.
  • Somerset – Library reopens with high-tech nod to the future – Taunton People.  “The touch-screen kiosks allow customers to issue and return items, check reservations and pay charges. The library’s exhibition space has also been extended, featuring work from Taunton Camera Club, and the café has also been revamped.”
  • Surrey – Decision time in Surrey.  Reason should win the day, not dogma – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.  “Today (Tuesday 24th July), 18 months after it originally proposed the idea, Surrey County Council will again decide whether to proceed with its plans to remove staff from 10 libraries across Surrey and replace them with volunteers.”
    • Approves volunteer libraries plan – BBC. “Controversial plans to remove paid staff from 10 libraries and rely on volunteer workers instead have been approved by councillors in Surrey. The Conservative-run county council set out the plan more than a year ago but it was ruled unlawful by the High Court in April because of training issues.”

“The council initially said the plan would save up to £381,000 a year, but cabinet member for community services, Helyn Clack, later admitted there would be no savings in the short term.”

    • Communities can run libraries – Surrey County Council.  ““The way people use libraries is changing. The 10 libraries becoming community partnerships account for just 6% of all library use and have limited opening hours. We’ve found a way to help smaller libraries thrive as we continue to adapt to the changing demands of library users, who are now using the online library more than three million times a year.””