For a look at the ConservativeHome article arguing that Labour closes more branches than the Conservatives do, please see this post below.  In other news, Surrey has voted to go ahead with volunteers taking over ten libraries, despite this apparently not saving any money.  There’s also news of a consultation from Hounslow, the only library authority currently run by a private company.



  • Case for keeping libraries alive – co.Exist.  “It’s an increasingly common refrain in developed countries: libraries are no longer necessary because we can access all the books and information we could possibly need on the Internet. We’ve seen that libraries have all sorts of alternate uses in places where Internet penetration is high–for example, check out this library that also functions as a maker space–but they’re especially important in developing countries” … “Beyond Access, an initiative supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a coalition of nine organizations focused on helping libraries power development by acting as hubs for social and economic change. “
  • Conservatives say Labour councils are cutting the most libraries – Alan Gibbons.  Very interesting look at the ConservativeHome article which “demonstrates why it would be dangerous for library campaigners to attach themselves to any one political party.

“While the overall responsibility for the damage to libraries should clearly be laid at the ConDem government’s door, Labour can’t wriggle out of its responsibilities. If it is to be taken seriously as a pro-library, anti-closure party it has to break from the ‘we’ll cut, but not quite as nastily’, ‘too fast, too deep’ nonsense and stand firmly on the side of library users and public service.”

Volunteer Library – Little Chalfont, winner of NatWest Community Force financial award – the library successfully applied for funding for maintenance work last year.  Good overview of the branch and, perhaps, why volunteers are being held up as a model for many.


Local News

  • Hounslow – Libraries under threat again –  ““We’ve made it very clear that we are not closing libraries or reducing their opening hours. In fact we recently refurbished several sites and invested in upgraded IT and computers. It says so in the consultation.” Consultation available in libraries.

“The service is managed on our behalf by John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) through a 15 year management contract. This is the first contract of its kind in this country and to date this innovative partnership has delivered over £1.25 million savings (since it started in 2008). An additional ongoing annual saving of £540,000, starting this year, has already been taken through internal restructure and efficiency savings within JLIS and reduction in the book fund (from £570,000 to £330,000). We have minimised the impact of the book fund reduction through more efficient purchasing practices and use of stock. We have found these savings without reducing the number of libraries or their opening hours.” Consultation – Hounslow Council.

  • Rotherham – Last chance to say on library plans – Star.  “Rotherham Council said hundreds of people had attended drop-in consultation meetings that were run in recent weeks to give their views on the proposals. “
  • North Somerset – Banwell Library Protest – Alan Gibbons.  “I am writing to you with regard to the proposed closure of Banwell library, by the Conservative led administration in North Somerset. A large contingent of villagers is very much opposed to the closure of this vital and much-loved amenity.”

“The library is located at the heart of our rural village, being situated centrally on the main through-road. It is, therefore, well used by local school-children and pensioners alike. Despite its small size it provides a vital service to local people, giving them a place to meet and browse books, consult with library staff, use the computer and select DVDs at their leisure. The freedom to browse a diverse range of literature is of tremendous value, particularly to children, allowing them to become excited, inspired and,  above all, motivated to become well-read and enjoy the wealth of information and stories right on their doorstep. To remove this service is both a travesty and a brutal blow to the literacy of our children. Elderly or disabled members of our community will also suffer hugely as they will not have the ability, or possibly the finance, to go elsewhere.”

  • Sheffield – Re-imagined libraries – Site Gallery.  “Charlotte A Morgan hosts an open discussion into the future of the library, continuing an ongoing research project initiated at her micro-residency at Site Gallery in February 2012.   Morgan’s research reflects widely on the nature of the archive and the language of storage and display, with reference to the status of Sheffield’s libraries. Her discussion will be in collaboration with Nick Thurston, who since 2006 has been co-editor of the York-based independent artists publisher Information as Material.”
  • Libraries review sparks closure fields – Sheffield Telegraph.  “Libraries may be forced to share premises with private businesses such as chemists and stationers or be staffed by unpaid volunteers, depending on the results of a questionnaire. The future of all 27 community libraries is being weighed up during the eight-week consultation, alongside the central library, the archives service and mobile libraries.”

He said the council wants to have ‘27 local conversations’ on the future of library services but would not commit to holding public meetings dedicated to discussing the topic. Instead officers would visiting groups such as tenants’ meetings, lunch clubs or mother and baby group

  • Surrey – Council plans for volunteer-run libraries in Surrey approved – BookSeller.  “Volunteers will take over the running of ten libraries in Surrey after the county council was able to push through its plans. Earlier proposals to remove paid staff from libraries and replace them with volunteers were ruled unlawful, but the Conservative-run administration approved the plans after they were called-in to be reassessed.”
  • County Council’s volunteer library plan to proceed – BBC.  “After the judicial review ruling in April, three opposing members called the plans in for reconsideration. They had wanted to keep one staff member in each library, but the communities select committee ruled plans could go ahead as they were.”
  • Scrutiny committee votes to proceed with volunteer run libraries – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.  “although the case to refer back seemed unanswerable, the politics of the situation was always going to play the last card. In a committee made up of 7 Conservative, 2 Liberal Democrat and 2 Resident Association councillors, the final vote was perhaps inevitably 7-4 in favour of proceeding with the volunteer-run library policy, with all 7 conservatives voting for the policy and all opposition councillors voting agin.”

“The local community and users’ groups, represented by SLAM, quite rightly oppose the replacement of librarians by volunteers. Both CILIP, the librarians’ professional organisation, and trade unions such as Unison have policies against this process, known as ‘substitution.’ Surrey’s decision to press ahead with this is a blow to the campaign for a publicly funded, ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service in the United Kingdom. The decision was the subject of legal proceedings, but Tory Surrey was always determined to press ahead with its philosophical project of the Big Society and volunteer-run libraries. This is a sad day.” Alan Gibbons

  • Lib Dems disappointed at libraries decision – Liberal Democrats local website.  “”We never did get an adequate explanation as to whether there will be any financial savings from the plans, and we never did get an adequate explanation as to what the Cabinet Member meant by the plans not being about saving money but about making the libraries ‘sustainable’ – and whether the issues raised by the judicial review have been met is highly questionable.””
  • Worcestershire – Stourport Library could be moved to civic centre – Shuttle.  “According to the council, the current Worcester Street-based library would cost about £1.4 million to maintain during the next 10 years at a time when the libraries and learning service needs to save £1.8 million. If the move went ahead, the library could share the civic centre with a range of other local services such as the Stourport Hub, Stourport Guidance Skill and Job Centre Plus … A 12-week public consultation is being launched on Monday (August 20) when Stourport residents will get the chance to give their views on the library proposals. “

“We want our local libraries to be at the heart of our towns and communities which is why we are proposing the library in Stourport be a part of this community venue. “