September 8th is designated as International Literacy Day by UNESCO. Many national papers covered the story that children are reading less, although few made with the link with libraries.  However, there’s a couple of good stories from Canada and Australia where the link was made.

The DCMS has written to campaigners in Lewisham and Bolton to extend the date for them to reply to Ed Vaizey’s “not minded to intervene” letter to 5 o’clock on 31st October.  I’ve seen copies of the letters but the DCMS website has not yet been updated as of the date of this posting.  So, you now have enough time to tell Ed why not intervening in widespread library closures in those boroughs is going against his statutory duty.


  • 35 most amazing public libraries in the world – Best Colleges.  There’s some beautiful libraries in this list, old and new.
  • Almost half of the country is functionally illiterate – ABC (Australia).  “Jan Richards is the manager of Central West Libraries, a network taking in the Orange, Blayney, Cabonne, Cowra and Forbes council areas. Ms Richards says her region, and the whole of Australia, has “huge literacy issues”. “Forty-seven per cent of the Australian population are functionally illiterate,” Ms Richards says. “That means they can’t read the instructions on a medicine bottle, they can’t read a map, they can’t read a recipe.””
  • An ex rediscovered: the beauty of public libraries – Not so mainstream (USA).  “Which leads me back to you, public library. I’ve fallen in love with you again. You’ve come so far over the past decade. It’s like you’ve had the best cultural plastic surgeon on the planet. You’re looking good, honey. Not just on the outside, but on the inside, too. More books than ever. More new releases than ever…”
  • Brand or ethos? – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. An attack on the “retail” approach to library management and defence of a non-commercial ethos.
  • Children’s reading pushed out by other activities – BBC.  “the findings showed that just three in every 10 youngsters read daily in their own time, down from four in 10 in 2005. “
  • Children “too embarrassed” to pick up books, study says– Telegraph.  “The research was based on a long-running survey of 21,000 children in primary and secondary education. It emerged that 38.1 per cent of pupils read in their spare time when the study was first carried out in 2005. This dropped to 37.7 per cent in 2007, 32.2 per cent in 2009 and 30.8 per cent in the latest poll was completed in 2011.”
  • Hantavirus scares escalate after book donation to Houston libraries – Fox (USA).  Donated books could be vector for some of the deaths.
  • It’s time to fix library advocacy, now -Library Journal.  “Sure, there have been occasional articles and reports aired on television and published in the big nationally prominent magazines and newspapers. Yet compared to the teachers, postal workers, candidates for public office, and other public sector warriors with a media agenda, librarians are invisible and silent.”.  Some great comments inc:

“It’s always the “libraries are threatened, SAVE them!” thing. The problems with this: 1) it makes us sound pathetic, not effective. 2) It assumes that the audience thinks libraries are worth saving, rather than selling them on our value. 3) it puts the focus on the libraries’ needs, and not the end users’ needs. “

“Tony Blair is all mouth and no delivery.” Who endorsed that? Tory activist and ad executive Maria Miller, when acting as a “member of the public” in a party political broadcast in 2000. Now Maria Miller MP has taken over from Jeremy Hunt as Culture Secretary. Library campaigners who have vainly entreated Hunt and sidekick Ed Vaizey to use their powers to save local branches will look for a better mouth-delivery ratio from her. Vaizey this week refused to review library shutdowns in Lewisham, Bolton and the Isle of Wight.” Boyd Tonkin in Independent.

  • Libraries Day shift mooted – BookSeller.  “The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has said “initial thoughts” are to hold the next NLD, the third such event, at the end of 2013. The date shift would allow the day to be aligned with CILIP’s Libraries Change Lives Award.” [NB. these awards are in June so it appears an error has been made somewhere here.  In addition, tweets from CILIP boss Annie Mauger and CILIP President Phil Bradley suggest story inaccurate so take this article with pinch of salt – Ian].

“The focus of NLD has been on library users and why libraries are so important to them. Last year even the minister had to show that he visited a library on the day. The media want to hear from library users and their battles across the country to save and improve their local libraries.”

  • Libraries improve literacy of the public– Vancouver Sun (Canada). “Given these expanded opportunities for illiteracy, individuals and institutions charged with promoting literacy face a difficult task. Yet there is substantial evidence that one important institution — the public library — continues to play a vital role in improving the literacy of the public.”

“the most common reason kids don’t use the library is that their families don’t go. So on Saturday — International Literacy Day — head to your nearest public library. And make it a family affair.”

  • Number of children reading for fun has fallen since 2005, study reveals – Guardian.  “The proportion of children reading for pleasure has declined as their time is crowded with other activities, and more than a fifth never read in their own time, according to research published on Friday. The study, which finds a clear link between reading outside class and high achievement in school, reveals that fewer children are reading comics and magazines.”


Local News

  • Barnet – Library campaigners refuse to join activists occupying building – Barnet and Whetstone Press.  “Mr Byrne said the occupiers, who claim to have entered the building via an open window, wanted to work with the community to run a new community library, and were hoping some might join their occupation of the building. He said: “Somebody needs to be in the building at all times. We can’t stay here all the time so we are hoping to bring in people from the community.” But Maureen Ivens of the Save Friern Barnet Library group said the group had decided to refuse the invitation. She said: “We have been invited by the new occupants to join them in running a community library in the building but have decided not to trespass there but continue to run our protest libraries from the adjacent village green. “
  • Brought to book – SchNews.  ““I don’t see them as squatters I see them as library occupants. We’re willing to work with Barnet Council to re-open the library. Unfortunately we think that the reason they want to close this and another library in North Finchley is so that both buildings can be sold to developers. The alternative they are offering us is temporary library in the Arts Depot building a mile and a half away.”
  • Squatters to reopen Friern Barnet Library this weekend – Times series.  “Friern Barnet Library will be reopened to the public this weekend by a group of activists looking to reclaim the building for the community. ” … “Friern Barnet Library will be reopened to the public this weekend by a group of activists looking to reclaim the building for the community. “
  • Bath – Human library to enlighten “readers” comes to Bath – This is Bath.  “A mobile library where the books are replaced by people representing different difficult subjects is coming to Bath. Homelessness charity Julian House has organised a human library event in the city centre on Saturday.”
  • Brent – Poetry Slam – Save Kensal Rise Library.  “The performance poets Tim Wells, Fran Isherwood and Chuquai Billy are pleased to appear as part of The Kilburn Comedy Festival. They will be at The North London Tavern, 375 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7QB on Thursday 13th September, as part of an evening in support of Preston Community Library.”
  • Save Kensal Rise Library fundraising appeal: crunch time II – Source.  “We love this campaign. Regardless of what some people may feel about the use of libraries,  this campaign has been a model in community action and fighting spirit against the politicians who are meant to represent them. If only so many others that despite their noble causes, loose their will to fight, would learn from this stupendous effort! This has been a real tour de force: they have managed to put the debate on front page news and even made it to the BBC Newsnight. They took their fight to the High Court, and now are making a proposal to run the service themselves. They have galvanized support, and despite the arrogance and intransigence of Brent Council, the spirit is strong and alive – the fight goes on.”
  • Kensal Rise Library campaigners raise £70,000 needed to keep crusade going – Brent and Kilburn Times.  “Margaret Bailey, a member of the FOKR campaign told the Times: “It has been overwhelming the support this campaign has had not just local, but from all over London, Engand and indeed the world. “Proof, if it was needed, that people do care about libraries and about their neighbourhoods and it shows what working together can do. “I am so very proud of this community, everyone is to be congratulated for their hard work and giving us their support.” If the proposal is successful, the money will be used for a year running costs, repairs and maintenance and to have a ‘stash’ in the bank to convince All Souls that we are serious, that we can do it.”
  • Croydon/Lambeth – Huge budget cut proposed for Upper Norwood Library– Guardian series.  “Campaigners desperate to save a library will be offered the chance to run the service themselves on a hugely reduced budget. The fight to save Upper Norwood Library, formerly run jointly by Lambeth and Croydon Councils has gone on for more than two years, but in papers released today, it has been revealed Croydon are prepared to offer £75,000 a year to keep the service open. This is more than £100,000 less than the £187,000 the council currently pays towards running the library. Earlier this year Lambeth Council promised to pay £170,000 towards the service, also a reduction on what was previously allocated.”
  • Community could take over running of Upper Norwood Library – This is Croydon Today.  “Croydon Council’s aim is to resolve the dispute between two authorities which has seen it withdraw from the partnership agreement with Lambeth, throwing the future of the library into doubt. The proposals are being presented to Lambeth and the library’s staff today.”
  • Gloucestershire – New opening hours good news for popular library – This is Glos.  Extended “opening times have been announced for a much fought-over library in Hester’s Way. The facility in Goldsmith Road is now open for 21 hours a week. It is closed on Thursdays and Sundays.” … “The library is looking for volunteers to help out.”
  • Sheffield – Library closures would be “disaster” – Star.  “Sheffield Council is now carrying out a public consultation ahead of a review of its £6 million annual library budget – and says some closures cannot be ruled out. The authority promised it has ‘no secret hit list’, but refused to release most recent figures for library use in 2011/12. But statistics for the previous year show some branches are used six times as much as others.”

“John Wright, 82, a former Blackburn Meadows power station worker, said: “Libraries are the easiest thing to cut but they improve society. It is one of the few things apart from the bins that I get for my council tax. “There are no buses to the next-nearest library, in Darnall, so people would have difficulty going there.”

  • Sunderland – Young teenagers recruited to help run Sunderland libraries – Sunderland Echo.  “The My Voice scheme, funded by the Big Lottery and managed by the Reading Agency, is a three-year project created to give 13 to 14-year-olds an active role in running libraries, while improving their literacy. The main focus of the project includes the creation of reading and writing hubs, programmes of creative events and online spaces where volunteers can connect, as well as providing accredited volunteering opportunities.”
  • West Sussex – Survey for all book worms and borrowers Mid Sussex Times.  ““Planning the library service of the future is a constant process of asking questions and listening to the answers. “We need to know how people rate their libraries, which ones they use, and what they use them for.””
  • Tameside – Actress Samantha Siddall joins library fight – Tameside Advertiser.  “Samantha Siddall, who is best known for playing Mandy Maguire in Channel Four’s Shameless, is backing the campaign to save West End library in Denton, where she lives. The branch is one of at least five which looks set to shut as Tameside council tries to shave £1m from its libraries budget.”