There’s a lot of news to report today due to Thursday’s edition concentrating on Ed Vaizey’s important announcements and Friday’s edition reporting the darkly marvellous closed-library crazy golf.  I’ve therefore split things up a little more than normal.  First, there’s the fallout from Vaizey’s speech, especially the bit where he gets radically optimistic about the state of public libraries.  Secondly, there’s a selection of the many articles written about the disposal (“weeding” in librarian parlance) of over 200,000 books from Manchester Central Library.  Then there’s a couple of events – including a mass lobby of parliament over school libraries –  and we get back to normality.

“Normality” today includes the news that Tameside will be deciding on the 4th July which of many severe cuts in funding it will choose for its library service.  If the least serious option is taken, almost  a third of the budget will disappear, with six libraries closing.  It the most serious option is taken – well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Two survive out of around fourteen.  Let Mr Vaizey spin that one.

News topic: Reaction to Ed Vaizey’s speech 

  • Ed Vaizey says libraries “thriving” and rejects prediction of 600 closures – Guardian.  “Crisis, what crisis? Despite a report earlier this week predicting that public libraries could disappear by the end of the decade, the culture minister, Ed Vaizey, hailed the “thriving library service that we have in England” as he announced a series of initiatives at Thursday’s Future of Library Services conference.” … “Library campaigner and award-winning children’s author Alan Gibbons rejected Vaizey’s positivity, calling it “a masterpiece of Life of Brian optimism, the massaging of reality and evasion”. “The reason this nightmarish scenario [of 600 library closures] has not occurred has been because local communities have mounted commendable resistance, reducing councils’ room to manoeuvre. This has included legal actions, pickets, protests, read-ins and a lobby of parliament. None of this agitation is reflected in this blandest of speeches.”
  • Future of Library Services Conference – Phil Bradley’s weblog.   CILIP president concerned that £6m is ringfenced: ” If libraries are going to get money, I would hope and expect that the professional library staff should be able to work with their communities to decide on the best use of it.”.  Also concerned about DCMS using library data to ensure that money is spent most efficiently: ” if libraries are to be managed and financed locally – as it seems they are, having national comparisions just doesn’t make sense”.  On giving a library card to all schoolchildren: “it’s all well and good giving a child a library card, but if they don’t have access to a library, well stocked with appropriate books chosen by library professionals, it’s not going to be of much help to them.”.  On volunteers: “Community libraries may well give the impression of a thriving and effective local service, but for how long? And, if they fail, will this be seen as ‘proof’ that the community doesn’t need a library?”

“It is being suggested that his source is the historic data published by CIPFA for 2010-11 before cuts started to be implemented by local authorities. The planned cuts are over a three year period starting this year. It seems that the DCMS and ACE do not have an accurate record of what councils are planning but simply rely upon historic information collected from CIPFA. This explains the very different pictures being reported by Public Libraries News, which collates all closures and transfers reported by local media in all authorities, and from information being collected by CILIP. Since library authorities are no longer required to submit their plans to the DCMS, it has not been possible to obtain an accurate picture of what councils are planning and we have have had to rely upon the daily monitoring by PLN and CILIP’s survey of authorities. There have also been concerns about the accuracy of some data submitted to CIPFA, an issue raised a couple of years ago by librarians on LIS PUB LIBS.”  Desmond Clarke on why Ed Vaizey doesn’t know the full number of library closures (via email).

  • Vaizey announces £6m library fundBookSeller.   “… library campaigner Desmond Clarke has questioned exactly what the designated cash would be spent on, and if it will reach those smaller libraries most in need of it. “The question is, what specifically is this £6m for, and will the money trickle down to smaller branch libraries especially in rural areas, because they have been disproportionately affected by the cuts. Will they actually benefit?” he asked.” … “Campaigners were also disappointed no mention of e-lending or controversial plans not to award authors with  PLR was made in Vaizey’s speech.”
  • Vaizey: bland, evasive, anything but reasuring – Alan Gibbons / Campaign for the Book.   “… there is nothing new or progressive in this speech. Invisible man Vaizey continues to evade his responsibilities and the public library service is anything but safe in his hands. Around the country communities know what the picture is in their area. They will not be fooled by Mr Vaizey’s latest blandishments. Already, we are planning a conference to prepare for any new challenges. Watch this space.”
  • What happened to the 600 libraries that were going to close? – Good Library Blog.   “This loose gathering of the worthwhile and like minded. of all possible political inclinations, have saved 600 libraries from closure by their persistence, truth telling and rather clever use of the press and the internet.” … “The libraries were saved mainly by a headline that said ‘600 libraries will close’ which scared councillors and made them realise that they might easily lose their precious seats (who cares about local councilllors? – for goodness sake) if they allowed council officers to close libraries to save a few pence. All this might be a fair analysis of the past- but it is a cautionary tale for the next year.”.  Worry is that councils will “hollow out” libraries rather than close them, in order to avoid headlines.

Major Library News: Manchester Central Library weeding 210,000 books

Melvin Burgess and many other notables signed a petition against the weeding of books at Manchester Central Library prior to its reopening after refurbishment.  This caused some debate between librarians and others on the wisdom of the move on the librarian listserv LIS-PUB-LIBS under the heading “Mausoleum or Mussolini”.  Selected items below:

  • Manchester Central library book pulping: text of letter of protest Guardian.  “Carol Ann Duffy, Jeanette Winterson and Melvin Burgess are among signatories calling for the destruction of books to stop”.  Signatories also include many academics and writers.  “Even though this massive cull of books could represent up to 50% of the total stock, there are no subject specialists involved in the process. Ordinary library staff, no matter how dedicated or experienced, cannot possibly know what should be kept and what should be thrown out from such a massive clear-out. How can the library know how much stock is to be removed before they have assessed its worth? Surely this points to quantitative rather than qualitative criteria?”
  • Mass destruction of Manchester heritage – Melvyn Burgess.   List of articles on the subject.
    • Manchester Central Library: time to take stock“No one serious outside the council accepts that the figures reported – perhaps as much as half a million books – is a simple process of weeding out old, damaged or duplicated stock, and yet this flimsy piece of nonsense is the only mantra the Councils seems able to utter. No fact, no figures, no catalogue – just argument and spin. Until the last few days, there wasn’t even any coherent policy made public, laying out the criteria used to sort books destined for destruction.” … “All the arguments can be settled amicably right now, if the library goes ahead and does what it should have done in the first place: engage in a full and proper public consultation about what it’s doing with its books”
    • It’s becoming a joke – “After a great many requests to go public with this policy – if it even exists – the Library came up with a document online. It stayed up for a couple of days – and was then removed. Why? Accountability should be the watchword in all dealings of this kind, but this process has been kept behind closed doors. What is the library trying to hide? Meanwhile, an article in the Manchester Evening News last week highlighted the various wonderful “rare and valuable treasures” that librarians have discovered, among them a 1946 Penguin First Edition of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. A rare treasure? – you can own it yourself for less than a quid. Here it is on Abebooks – at 64p.”
  • Fears over Central Library’s “hidden treasures” after 300,000 books are disposed of – anchester Evening News. Neil McInnes defends stock weeding, Melvin Burgess asks why subject specialists and others are not allowed to evaluate it. “There’s outrage in Manchester that the grand opening of the revamped Central Library will see 210,000 books sold or pulped. “Are you disposing of stock?” was one of the frequently asked questions in information given out at the start of the three-year, £170m project. The reply? “This project will not see any significant book disposal, other than that which is in line with our routine disposal policy.” Off-loading 210,000 tomes is vastly more than the routine weeding of duplicate paperbacks and out-of-date textbooks. Head of libraries Neil MacInnes tried to defend the unexpected disposal as “overdue housekeeping” after questions were raised by campaigners including author Melvin Burgess. MacInnes then added fuel to the book-lovers’ fire by saying: “We do not envisage Central Library being a storehouse of non-fiction reference volumes. We want it to be a living, active, dynamic place that inspires Manchester’s people to be creative and to explore their potential, not a mausoleum.”” Private Eye (not available online), Issue 1317, 29 June to 12 July.
  • Manchester library boss defends cull of 210,000 books – Manchester Evening News.  Neil McInnes pledged “no treasures” were being removed.  Weeding done under strict guidelines with an “if in doubt do no throw it out” basis. Five library staff weeding stock (comment points out that this is 200,000 books each to check).
  • Manchester Central Library finds rare edition of Wuthering Heights during clear-out – Manchester Evening News.  Many interesting books have been found during the weeding.

Manchester Central isn’t a legal deposit library and it isn’t feasible to keep adding new stock in a modern,reference library without losing others. Of course they have to lose huge amounts of stock as many, many are available in other places and in other formats and are surplus to requirements. This has probably been the first real opportunity to be thorough in examining the stock in its entirety and that’s surely what we pay professional staff to do.” Liz McGettigan.

“Dare I say, however, that it IS up to professional librarians to have the PR skills to anticipate a totally predictable concern about books being lost, & be willing & able to explain exactly what they are doing?” Laura Swaffield, Library Campaign

Future News

  • Mass Lobby for School Library Inspection. A Mass Lobby is being organised for Monday 29th October 2012 at 2pm. The lobbyists will raise the following statement with their MPs and ask for their backing: “Nick Gibb, Minister of State for Schools, has stated that “he passionately believes that every school should have a school library”. Time and again, research has shown links between reading, access to school libraries and librarians, and higher attainment. In recognition of the importance of school libraries to literacy, to learning and to achievement, we are therefore asking for them to be included in the Ofsted framework for inspection with a set of standard criteria against which they can be judged.”. See the Facebook group.
  • “I Just Couldn’t Stay at Home and Do Nothing, John Dolan talks about CILIP, the MLA, Politics, Libraries and Life. 2pm July 18 at CILIP HQ. The Retired Members’ Guild invites everyone involved in library and information services, retired or not, to hear John Dolan speak at CILIP Headquarters, 7 Ridgmount Street, London, WC1 7AE on July 18th at 2pm. This free event precedes the AGM for Guild members which takes place at 3.30pm
no treasures would go from the library collection which is undergoing a major ‘stocktaking’ exercise that will see books given away and pulped.

Read more at:

Neil MacInnes pledged that no treasures would go from the library collection which is undergoing a major ‘stocktaking’ exercise that will see books given away and pulped.

Read more at:

Neil MacInnes pledged that no treasures would go from the library collection which is undergoing a major ‘stocktaking’ exercise that will see books given away and pulped.

Read more at:

Other News

  • All charge at the British Library?Digital Journal.  Questionnaire from British Library suggests that it is considering charging for membership and online access.  “At present, public libraries the length and breadth of the country are under threat of closure or at least some form of rationalisation. The British Library is not a public library; it is far more important than that. It is important that any cuts or reductions to its services, including redundancies should be opposed not simply by library staff and the trade unions but by everyone. While some readers would be willing to or even relish the prospect of selling their passes, the overwhelming majority are wise enough to realise that as Dr Alston said, you can’t put a price on knowledge, nor should you even try. And that applies not just to scholars and career academics, but to everyone, especially the young.”
  • Beyond books and buildings: should councils close their libraries to save money? The LGA’s vision for public libraries – Stop the privatisation of public libraries.  “The themes and innovations talked about in the media release are not particularly innovative or new, libraries have been offering these services for years but what is new is the unprecedented push towards co-location, sharing services, private finance and volunteers, this neo-liberal agenda is also being adopted by ACE and of course the DCMS.”
If you love to readAdele inspired pro-library music video.
  • Louisiana eliminates state aid to libraries – Library Journal (USA). “We’ll just have to cut back on books and hope we get through. If our server goes down or the switches go down, it’s going to have to come from somewhere. It’s not going to come from utilities; we’re barely paying people above minimum wage so it’s not going to come out of salary, we may have to cut hours.”
  • My little rant about libraries – Voices for the Library.  Bex Hughes shares her experience of libraries and their importance to her, families and the country.

                          Orkney Library on reaching audiences with social media

  • Public libraries under scanner, 25 face axe – Indian Express (India).  “With the state government deciding to increase funds for public libraries by 50 per cent, a total of 605 public libraries in the district are being inspected. While 25 libraries have been de-recognised, four of them have been given a lower grade according to the classification of libaries. The drive has been undertaken so that only functional libaries get the grants.”
  • Save the New York Public Library –  Daily News (USA).  “They describe their plan as practical and innovative, but it will remove millions of books and destroy the integrity of New York’s most magnificent civic building. Without an outcry from New Yorkers, the library will be irrevocably compromised. The plan calls for the demolition of a seven-story bookstack at the core of the building. The books will be replaced by a sleek box into which will be shoehorned the operations of the overcrowded Mid-Manhattan branch (a lending library) and the underused Science, Industry and Business branch (a research library). These libraries will be closed and sold to finance the project, which will cost more than $300 million.”
  • Throwing the book at overdue book offender – ABQ Journal (USA).   “Teel was arrested and handcuffed at her Portales home in front of her five small children earlier this month because of $35.98 worth of library materials allegedly taken out and not returned, according to a tort claim notice sent to the Portales city clerk on Monday.”
  • Writers are born in libraries – Reading Groups for Everyone (The Reading Agency).  Author Cath Staincliffe talks about the importance of libraries to authors: in childhood and for events.  “If they didn’t exist, we would have to invent them”.


Local News

  • Brent – A historic icon: Kensal Rise library from above – Save Kensal Rise Library.  This is Kensal Rise nearly one hundred years ago, with Kensal Rise Library in the top-right corner – and a steam train passing close by.”.   Also includes a picture of Mark Twain opening the library.
  • Camden – User group “sitting on fence” as library coalition scheme launched at Town Hall gets cautious welcome – Camden New Journal.   “The Library Network” to be formed: “The plans will see a new network of Friends-style groups for each library – including those no longer managed by the Town Hall – and their aims will be to share good practice and resources.  Cllr Siddiq said: “This idea came from library users during the consultation which 6,000 people responded to. “
  • Croydon – Summer Book Trail: Just fab or a flop in the making – Save Croydon Libraries.  Concern that summer reading challenge will suffer due to dependence on volunteers.  2011 experience was painful.
    • Festival time at Purley Library – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.  “Building on the success of last year, Purley Festival is back again in 2012, offering a range of activities for all ages, from 25 June to 1st July. More details here. As part of this they have teamed up with Purley Library to run some additional events and to promote some of the regular events on offer in the library….” Lists events such as knitting, local history walk, adult writing.
  • Derbyshire – It’s time to spread the word on joys of well-stocked library – This is Derbyshire.    “My first thought was that it would be a fair old effort to go to Derby Central and find the book out on loan, or not even stocked at all. But – and I honestly did not know this – you can check online. You can see if a book is stocked in any of Derby’s libraries and whether it is out on loan. And there it was. I walked down, picked it up and was reading it that night. If you are a regular library user, this column will seem like the most pointless Egg Sucking Manual For Grannies you have ever read. But I’m not writing for you…..”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – Libraries shake-up in East YorkshirePress.  No closures.  Considering “other management models”.  “A quarter of the spaces on the council’s Summer Reading Challenge programme will be reserved for children from disadvantaged families.”  Budget changes are £57k cut 2011/12, £80k cut 2012/13, £127k cut 2013/14 according to supporting papers on Council site.
  • Gloucestershire – Fears book loans could be banned for volunteer-run libraries – This is Gloucestershire.   “Gloucestershire County Council’s new library strategy will result in seven of the county’s services falling outside of the statutory provision and into the hands of volunteers. These include Lechlade, Brockworth, Berkeley, Minchinhampton, Mitcheldean and Newnham. But campaigners from Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries have discovered these facilities will not be covered by the Public Lending Rights (PLR) Licence, which means authors could refuse to allow them to loan their books.”
  • Isle of Wight – Three motions added to next week’s full council agenda – Ventnor Blog.   One item is “Work with Job Centre Plus to facilitate and improve access for unemployed Islanders to identify suitable job opportunities, such as providing meeting space in libraries, children’s centres and other public access points.”

“The Isle of Wight removed all funding for 5 of our 11 libraries, these have been taken over by voluntary groups. At the same time all our Tourist Information Offices were closed and staff sacked (on an Island that relies on tourism) and almost half our public toilets were closed. Now, the council have announced that they have an underspend of £2.3 million, how can a local authority be allowed to operate with such crass financial inability? The general feeling among Islanders is that with a local election due next May, they are building a ‘war chest’ to try and buy votes! The council have said that they intend to spend this cash windfall on building new beach huts!” Dave Quigley commenting on Good Library Blog

  • Lincolnshire – Campaign opposes library changes – Skegness Standard.   “A campaign group has formed in opposition to proposals for volunteers to run library services out of premises shared with businesses such as supermarkets or pharmacies. The Friends of Lincolnshire Libraries believe Lincolnshire County Council’s money saving initiative would result in a downgrading of the service with widespread adverse social consequences, affecting the community’s most vulnerable.”
  • Suffolk – Rosehill Readers: What we stand for – Rosehill Readers.   Explains the policies of the group and the reasons for them.
  • Kirklees  Pledge to battle library cuts in Kirklees – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.   “Children’s author Alan Gibbons has condemned Kirklees Council’s plans for volunteers to take over village libraries.” … “Mr Gibbons spoke at a Save Our Libraries public meeting organised by Kirklees Save Our Services, held at the Methodist Mission in Huddersfield town centre. He said that libraries were the ‘jewel in the crown’ of public services and that ‘a library is not a library without a librarian.’Other speakers were June Jones from Save Slaithwaite Library campaign, Doug Wright from Doncaster Save Our Libraries and Pat Jones from Kirklees Unison.” Several councillors also attended.
  • Surrey – One small change to end hostilities – Surrey Libraries Action Movement. Two letters published from branch library volunteer groups make clear that they are volunteering because they have to, not because they want to, and would much prefer Surrey Council to maintain previous service.
  • Tameside -A new offer for Tameside’s library service – Tameside Council (Cabinet paper).  Three options, all of which involve major cuts, are listed for Council decision on 4th July.  Not cutting nearly a third of the total libraries budget does not appear even to be an option.
  • West Sussex – Petworth library to reopen this week – Observer series. “It is one of four branches which are temporarily shut in a bid to improve their IT and electrical systems before new self-service machines are installed later this summer.”