The cuts in Newcastle make a splash again today, with details of the emergency protest meeting.  There’s also a damning attack on the council by the writer of Billy Elliott, Lee Hall, where he attacks the council for going against its socialist principles.  There’s also some cautiously optimistic fallout from the appointment of Yinnon Ezra as DCMS advisor on libraries.


  • Annals of odd complaint: moaning that Google does exactly what you say you want it to do – Spectator / Alex Massie.  “I have no view on Google’s tax arrangements save to observe that, as with Starbucks, those that do not like the way these companies do their business should lobby for the law to be changed rather than complain that Google et al are (one presumes) acting within the law. Anyway, Winterson’s argument is still very odd. Because, even before it began to digitise millions of books, isn’t Google essentially, well, just a very large library? Just the kind of new library, in fact, that Winterson demands it be.  (And Amazon, of course, is the best bookshop any of us have ever had the opportunity to use.)”
  • Ask our Chief Executive Alan Davey a question in our live chat on 28 November – Arts Council England. “f you would like to know more about Alan’s view on the changes the Arts Council is going through, or simply have a burning desire to find out who his favourite artist is, now’s your chance. “
  • Change what you inkLowell Sun (USA).  Your chance to get a Tattooed Youth Librarians of Massachusetts Calendar.  For someone not impressed by this, see Shattering those stereotypes by Annoyed Librarian: “That’s a tired expression and just not true. People who use libraries know what librarians look like. People who don’t won’t buy this calendar anyway.”

“In his speech at the CBI today David Cameron said that his government would make it harder for groups and individuals to use judicial reviews to challenge its decisions. The time limit for bringing a case will be reduced. The cost, already quite daunting in some cases, will be reduced. While admitting that some judicial review cases were valuable, “so many are completely pointless.” In which category, I wonder, would he place the successful challenges in Surrey, Somerset and Gloucestershire which reined in aggressive Tory authorities trying to reduce library services? This is not a political point. There are plenty of Labour authorities behaving in a way which might provoke library users to consider resorting to judicial reviews. I am thinking of Newcastle.” Changing the goal posts – Alan Gibbons.

  • DCMS appoints Yinnon Ezra as libraries advisor – BookSeller. “Library campaigner Desmond Clarke said: “I welcome the appointment. I have known him for several years and he is genuinely very interested in improving public libraries. He has enormous experience in local government. The hope now is the the DCMS and ACE pay attention to what he has to say.”

“I  welcome Yinnon Ezra’s appointment. He and I have sparred over the years and you will have seen Desmond’s article  in which Yinnon says that he agreed with me that there is an awful lot that can be improved. We both said that libraries need to be modernised  but we differed about what that meant. But most of important we agreed that if improvement and change is to come it is council leaders, notably, who have it within their power to do that.    Endless beseeching of the DCMS and the minister is a waste of time because neither are in a position  to do anything   … and that is crucial to creating a plan to improve the library service. You will see that he has no time for CILIP or the SCL  – like me he thinks they are both a blessed nuisance and obstruct progress.” Tim Coates via email.

  • In the library … with a revolver – That Word Site. Nostalgia for the libraries of yesteryear. “I’ll leave you with a sobering thought. That the entire textual content of a small library could probably fit onto a single 32GB memory stick. Progress? I suppose so… just don’t tell that to the teenage boy strolling along the bookshelf-lined aisles of wondrous knowledge and delicious flights of the imagination.”
  • Last of a dying breed – Stop the privatisation of public libraries.  “Reference work is a specialism and requires years of experience and training, in fact when I first started I had to shadow an experienced Librarian for 6 months before I was let loose on the desk and public! The role of specialist Reference and Information staff is now even more important with an ever growing digital divide and the push towards the ‘e-government’ agenda.  Reference and Information staff have a deep understanding and knowledge of how to source and retrieve good quality information, they can guide and assist users through the maze whether it be online or hardcopy.” Lists the sort of questions that get asked.

“Not only have the library profession wilfully ruined reference libraries but by doing that they also ruined the reference book publishing industry for which they were the main customers No one else to blame for this – and they are proud of themselves for doing it” Tim Coates by email on article above.

  • Reading CASE right – DCMS.  “If your job is to support and inform library service modernisation you’ll find that CASE helps support this local level decision making. The CASE database provides a comprehensive resource and evidence base which helps local policy makers establish a vision and strategy for their library service. In tandem the research studies available through the database not only help when designing the service but provide practical examples of how others have addressed similar challenges.”
  • UK library e-lending evolves, but it’s no revolution – Publishing Perspectives.  “The total number of e-books borrowed from UK public libraries through the leading Overdrive e-lending platform has jumped up from 169,071 in 2010 to 576,125 to November this year, although this is still tiny compared to 300.2 million actual books borrowed in 2010/11. Yet despite such hopes, there is still a good chance that if you walk into your local library in the UK (assuming it hasn’t been closed), go online or download the app, you won’t be able to borrow an e-book like you can an ordinary book.”.  Quotes from Phil Bradley (CILIP president) and Richard Mollet (Publishers Association CEO). Other interviews too in this detailed article.

Schiphol Airport Library (Holland).

Voices for the Library made a number of key recommendations:

  • A national ebook lending service to ensure consistency in provision across the country.
  • Users should have the option to purchase the ebook from a bookseller through a link on the library website.
  • Ebook loans should be incorporated into the Public Lending Right.”


Local News

  • Brent – Council leader has “nothing to apologise for” over library closures – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Cllr Butt said: “I have nothing to apologise for, these closures were made because of cuts by your government putting us in an impossible situation.”
  • Friends of Barham Library sell cards to fund their fight – Harrow Times.  “The Friends of Barham Park Library are selling handmade Christmas cards to raise money for their fight to reopen the service in its original home. The group are selling cards carrying a picture of the library in the snow to fund their fight to reopen it in its Barham Park building.”
  • We Care Foundation hopes turning Barham Park Library into a school would be a “happy ending” – Harrow Times. “The We Care Foundation, established by a group of parents in Brent, has submitted a proposal to Brent Borough Council to turn the Barham Park Library building into a school. The group wants to lease the building for use as a special secondary school for pupils with autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.” … “The Friends of Barham Park Library are also keen to get their hands on the building as they want to reopen it as a community library. “
  • Hertfordshire – Call for library service hours u-turn – Comet.  “Community group We Heart Libraries is appealing to the county council to increase hours again, and will make a presentation to its overview and scrutiny panel next month. HCC had said when it implemented the cuts it would review opening hours a year later. Group co-founder Andy Darley said: “The cuts last year reduced opening hours in our district by about a third. The aim was to make savings, but the user statistics show the real price we are all paying.”
  • Newcastle – Save Newcastle Libraries emergency meetingCoalition of Resistance. “In response to this proposed attack on local public services, Coalition of Resistance are holding an emergency public meeting with children’s author and Speak up for Libraries campaigner Alan Gibbons to help initiate a campaign to defend the Newcastle Libraries service. “
  • Save Newcastle Libraries meeting – Alan Gibbons.  Description of meeting.  “Paul Gilroy, Branch Secretary Newcastle Unison revealed that 1300 jobs are to go in the council. “Seven libraries are to go in year one, two are to be relocated and three are to go in year three.We care deeply about the services we deliver.” He asked what of the Big Society? “Many people volunteer….. I don’t believe the majority of people want to cut their own grass, clean their own graffiti or run their own libraries.””

“Newcastle born author David Almond said he was just back from Japan. He went to the north where the tsunami was, a devastated region. They needed to rebuild their libraries, to reintroduce books. The Empress of Japan talked about the importance of books to her and to children around the world and had lived through the devastation of Hiroshima and Fukushima. “Then I returned to this. If it’s taken away it will take generations to replace. We authors see the importance of libraries in school, libraries in cities.” David condemned “the government’s lazy, easy pessimism about kids and books. Kids really need books. Kids love books.” He praised: “the great librarians in little libraries and in schools keeping literary culture alive. If we accept the myth that children are not interested, it will die.” David Almond

  • Lee Hall letter about proposed Newcastle library closures – Arts Funding.  Writer of Billy Elliott writes an impassioned attack on the Labour party closing libraries … “These are extremely difficult times and they demand much more imaginative and radical responses than acting as the Coalition’s henchmen. Working men and women in the North East have fought, generation after generation, for the right to read and grow intellectually, culturally and socially – to be as ‘civilised’ as anyone else.  It is a heritage that took decades and decades to come to fruition but will be wiped out in a moment. You are not only about to make philistines of yourselves, but philistines of us all.”
  • Public meeting over Newcastle Library closure plans – BBC.  Council says “”What we’ve had to do is look radically at everything that the council does. There are some pretty horrendous proposals here. “They are not proposals that I would ever want to do but the fact is the money that we are getting from the government, which is a huge proportion of the council’s income, is being cut.” The city council plans to retain a “core network” of eight facilities, including the city centre “super library”.”
  • Young people’s services in firing line with council cuts – ITV.  “Libraries, play groups and theatres could all be in the firing line today as Newcastle City Council reveals how it proposes to save ninety million pounds. They are just a number of services facing the axe as the council has to cut its budget by a third. The council says that it has to make the savings because its grant from central government has been dramatically reduced.”  Includes TV interview.
  • Stoke on Trent – Library workers deserve praise – This is Staffordshire.  “It is with regret that I have yet to read any word of praise for the staff of our libraries. Here in Tunstall, the number of staff is continually reduced, while the challenge of the job gets harder. Oh, I forgot, the same staff also have to do security and social work, as every person who enters the library is not well-behaved or of ideal cleanliness. Yet more work for the staff, as the security staff have now been cut.”
  • West Sussex – Staff jobs at Broadfield Library are safe, council promises – This is Sussex.  “”The expertise of a knowledgeable librarian cannot be accounted for by a machine. “People do not always go into a library looking for a particular book, they look for advice from those who work there.” However, county council spokesman Chris Rider reassured Mr Irvine and worried residents that there are no plans for machines to replace staff. And he added that extra employees are even being recruited.”
  • Worcestershire – Proposal to move Bromsgrove Library to Parkside approved by council chiefs – Bromsgrove Advertiser.  “The moving of the library is part of a scheme to turn the former school, in Stourbridge Road, into a one-stop shop of council services including council offices, a district council chamber, customer service centre, community hall and a registry office. “

“Councillor Anthony Blagg, the county council’s member for Bromsgrove Central, added: “We have seen the enormous success of The Hive in Worcester, and we would want a new library in Bromsgrove to have a similar impact on the community.”