A correction to my post yesterday which said that the sole body with superintendence over public libraries – the Library Advisory Council for England – had not been legally abolished. It turns out it was done all above board.  However, the fact that there’s no-one actually doing it at the moment, and that Ed Vaizey appeared to think until recently that there was is the key point … and that, sadly, still stands.

“The superintendance point is an important one and you are right to say it isn’t being carried out effectively at the moment. However the ACL was, as far as I can tell, abolished legally by means of the Public Bodies Act 2011 – see www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/24/enacted. This gives ministers the power, subject to certain restrictions, to abolish certain public bodies and offices (some of which were quangos). This includes the Library Advisory Council for England, listed in Schedule 1. My understanding is that as a more recent piece of legislation it supersedes the relevant parts of 1964 Act.””

In other news, it looks – at the time of going to “press”, anyway – that Croydon Council will shortly decide that its service will be run by Laing and that Wandsworth will shortly decide that its service will be run by GLL.  I have not yet seen the official decisions so this may change.


  • Council cuts “targeted towards deprived areas”– Guardian.  “Figures produced by Newcastle city council show that, on average, local authorities faced a cut of £61 a year for each person in the total funding they received from government throughout the coalition’s first comprehensive spending review, ending March 2014. Newcastle had considered money poured into 330 local authorities directly and also through schemes such as the new homes bonus and the council tax freeze.” … “Analysis of the data by the Guardian reveals that in the 50 worst councils affected by the government’s decision to slash local authority budgets from 2010, the average cut was £160 per head. This group included the poorest populations in Britain – such as the most deprived council in the country, Hackney, and struggling urban areas of the north such as Liverpool, Rochdale and South Tyneside. In this group, on average a third of children were living in poverty.”
  • Library customers often buy the most books – Good E Reader.  “The study confirms 57% of people use libraries as content discovery engines. Patrons often will see a book and will end up making the digital purchase. 53% of all people surveyed have thought about buying an eBook listed on the libraries website and 53% borrow eBooks and also buy them.  A small segment of the population (35%) have also purchased the eBook after they have read the free edition from the library, to add it to their own personal collection.”
  • Northeast’s under-threat swimming pools offered hope – Journal.  “Glenn Armstrong, chief executive of Jesmond Community Leisure, which runs Jesmond Pool and had been due to take over the nearby library, has said services could be saved. “If the community are really supportive of somewhere, it gives it a chance,” he said. “We’ve spent the last 20 years supporting other organisations all over the UK under the threat of closure.” … “Jesmond Community Leisure was in talks to create a partnership arrangement for the running of Jesmond Library, plans which are now on hold.”
  • Statistics: who are these internots? Independent.  “There’s a startling new figure from the Office for National Statistics: 7.63 million adults in the UK have never used the internet. That’s 15 per cent. So who the devil are these technophobic weirdos who have never gone online?” … “It’s not a matter of cost, either. What remain of the nation’s libraries are filled all day with citizens using the borough’s computers, gratis.”

“If you’ve been planning on cleaning out those old tools from your garage, basement, or anywhere, well now is the time to do so! So stop on by to donate the tools that you no longer need, or just to say hello.”Tool Library, USA.  [Plans are afoot for at least one in the UK – Ian]

  • What do librarians do? Day four: Royal Academy of Dance Librarian – Voices for the Library.  “So what makes my library unique? The hybrid mix of what we do – we are an independent library and archive collection for use by researchers, as well as an HE provider and key dance organisation working at a global level. And why do dancers need books?  Because the books (for which, read “huge range of resources”) enhance our understanding  and appreciation of the heritage of dance and its place in our culture. And there’s so much information available that it’s a full-time job keeping up with it.”


Local news

Barnet – Will Self at “Occupied” Friern Barnet Library8,000 books have been donated and those shelves already look under some pressure.  Will Self questions the survival of printed book libraries.

  • Brent – Libraries given £4,000 Arts Council funding to promote reading among children – Harrow Times.  “Yesterday the library service was given the Arts Council funding for its Every Child a Reader, Every Child a Library Member project. The project sees the library service working with schools and teachers to give all children a library card. So far, 3,015 children from 12 schools have been signed up. The new funding will be used to sign up 12 more schools next year.”
  • Council to spend £5,000,000 on thousands of iPhones and iPads – Harrow Observer.  3,000 iPas and iPhones to be purchased for council staff. “the council says it will improve productivity and enable employees to work remotely.” … “The council is already using 200 iOS devices and hundreds of Blackberry phones which will now be phased out. It also has 3,000 desk phones and 1,000 mobiles, but in the new Civic Centre desk phones will be redundant. “.
  • Buckinghamshire – Village’s new community library is formally opened by speaker – Thame Gazette.  “The library will be one of 14 of its kind created around Bucks in which volunteers help shape the service to meet people’s needs. Thirty volunteers have offered their help and have been trained to staff library sessions, supported by two county council staff. Managing it are five residents who have become trustees of the now registered charity.”
  • Croydon – Awards £30m library deal to most expensive bidder – Inside Croydon.  “It is no coincidence that the organisation Croydon has plumped for to run the borough’s 13 libraries until 2021 is John Laing Integrated Services, a subsidiary of John Laing, the property firm that is building Croydon Council’s £150 million new headquarters building.” … “According to one source who has seen the outcome of the bid assessments, GLL offered the lowest tender price and also the best evaluation scores. John Laing Services offered the worst tender price – but will be announced by Croydon Council next week as the bid winner.”

“The libraries competitive tendering process was conducted with Wandsworth, lasted more than a year and cost Croydon Council Tax-payers at least £250,000. When first announced, Croydon justified the process by saying that having the libraries across two boroughs run by one outside business would help economies of scale and thus lower costs. Last night at Wandsworth Town Hall, the inner London Tory council announced that it had selected not-for-profit Greenwich Leisure Ltd to run its libraries on the basis that they offered the best financial terms and were also top of the three bidders in terms of management performance.”

  • Council to pick who will run the borough’s libraries– Croydon Guardian.  “The decision on who will run Croydon’s libraries is set to be made next week.”
  • Islington – Councillor rages over £100k library refurbishmentIslington Now.  “Liberal Democrat Tracy Ismail is furious that the money was allocated to the John Barnes Library on Camden Road as part of the Ward Improvement Plan without her knowledge.”
  • Leeds – North Leeds: Cash boost for villagers’ plans to save and improve library – Yorkshire Evening Post.  “Villagers battling to save their local library from closure have received a £10,000 boost for the project. Leeds City Council approved initial plans for a community-led takeover of Shadwell Library in May and the handover is set to be rubber-stamped in January. But renovations costing around £56,500 are needed to expand the library and provide community activities as well as funding improvements to heating, damp-proofing and security at the 199-year-old Grade II listed building. Now local councillors in North East Leeds have backed the villagers in their ambitious scheme, with a much-needed cash injection of £10,000.”
  • Sefton – Library closures would leave readers in Ainsdale too far from nearest service – Southport Visiter.  “… closure of libraries across our borough would lead to Ainsdale becoming one of few places in Sefton more than three miles from a library.” Ainsdale is also not declining in usage compared to other branches dropping [a massive] 21% overall.