The “community right to bid” legislation was brought in to help local people purchase important council buildings/land that may otherwise be lost.  If you’re not familiar with it, have a look at this webpage, because libraries under threat of closure are very much in this category as well. The power of the community, this time without legal redress, appears to have made a difference in Wolverhampton with the Council now proposing to keep six libraries in their current locations.   Finally, The Arts Council England chief, Alan Davey, answered a few library related questions during a live online chat today, one of which from the arch-library investigator, pen-name Ruby Malvolio, who has written a post pointing out the DCMS still seems confused about ACE’s role.


“Former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt was criticised by MPs on the culture, media and sport committee for his lackadaisical approach to mass library closures, refusing to intervene as councils shut huge numbers of them. “The current situation where the Secretary of State has considerable reserve powers but is unwilling to use them, satisfies no one,” said the MPs, adding that library campaigners having to challenge closures via judicial review instead was “not cost-effective for policy” and “undermines democratic accountability”. There is plenty of scope now for Hunt’s successor, Maria Miller, to show a bit of national oversight of libraries.  Newcastle-upon-Tyne has just announced plans to close 10 out of 18 of its libraries, including possibly High Heaton, refurbished as part of a £40m PFI project. Meanwhile, seven out of 13 libraries in Sefton are threatened (Eye 1325), Anglesey library bosses are currently contemplating “significant service reduction including the closure of a number of local libraries”; and Kirklees is about to withdraw paid staff from seven of its libraries.” Private Eye Library News no. 1328.

  • Betsy BirdFor the future.  A lovely interview with New York Public Library’s children’s librarian e.g. “What’s worth fighting for? Why?: It comes down to two things for me: the staff and the young patrons. You fight for the staff, the ones who go above and beyond the call of duty as well as the ones who do their best and fill the necessary seats. You also have to fight for the kids, supporting them and making it clear that our child and teen patrons deserve only the rarest kind of best in their literature and the programs we provide.”

“ACE moderator: QUESTION FROM Max Dixon via email: What is ACE doing to help attract new sources of funding for local public libraries subject to local authority cuts?
12:22 Alan Davey: To Max Dixon: We’re helping public libraries attract new sources of funding by investing in innovative projects that really demonstrate the valuable role a public library plays in its community – whether that be meeting local government aims around learning or health and wellbeing, or through working with arts organisations that support active and engaged communities. We hope that by funding these projects through the Libraries development initiative and the Grants for the arts Libraries fund, the really excellent work these libraries are doing will help them attract additional support.”

“Rubymalvolio: Ed Vaizey has said in the house of commons that ACE is: “responsible for superintending and promoting the library service” How is this even possible with only five library relationship managers?
12:45 Alan Davey: To Rubymalvolio: I think this must have been a slip of the tongue. We are very clear that we do not have a superintending role and nor did the MLA before us. We are, however, about promoting the importance of libraries and their development. We will maintain a presence in all parts of the country despite our current cuts. That’s important.” Live chat with Alan Davey, chief executive of Arts Council England.

  • Community Right to BidLocality. “The new Community Right to Bid is now in force. It aims to keep valued land and buildings in community use by giving local people the chance to bid to buy them, if and when they come onto the market.”
  • Culture Secretary Maria Miller: Arts lobby’s accusations are close to pure fiction – London Evening Standard. “We are living in tough economic times, with a cross-party political consensus that public spending has to be reduced. Over this Parliament’s lifetime, we will still be investing some £2.9 billion in the arts. That’s a colossal amount of money. Should we have frozen, or increased, spending in this area? The taxpaying public wouldn’t wear it.”

“Patrick Weil, chairman of Libraries Without Borders, said that the first email the humanitarian organisation received following the Haitian earthquake in 2010 was a request for books to reopen a destroyed library. It went on to send an emergency mission to the country to help Haitian organisations distribute books and educational resources to those without homes. “The first priority is life, but when life is secure, what can people do if they are staying in a camp? They cannot do anything, and they can become depressed,” said Weil. “Once life is secured, books are essential. They’re not the first priority, but the second … They are so important. They’re the beginning of recovery, in terms of reconnecting with the rest of the world, and feeling like a human being again.”” Disaster victims “need books too” – Guardian.  “Books and “nourishment for the mind” should be an essential part of the emergency relief effort when disasters such as the Haitian earthquake occur, according to a call for action signed by four Nobel laureates, Libraries Without Borders and dozens of authors.”

  • Library supporters make friends through promotion – Des Moines Register (USA). “The group is dedicated to enhancing the library through fundraising and advocacy efforts, Willeford said. Proceeds are used to support and expand educational, cultural and outreach programs, events and special projects. The group formed in January with the launch of a freewill-offering coffee nook in the library, Willeford said. The group offers free coffee from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday.”

“As several large book publishers continue to deny libraries access to their e-books, and others make e-books available under difficult terms, libraries find themselves unable to provide the reading and educational materials demanded by their patrons. As a result, many librarians are asking, “What can I do to advocate for fair e-book lending practices?” ALA toolkit for library e-books launched (USA)

  • Parental “no” files: Public libraries push junk food on preschoolers now? – Preschoolers (USA).  Obesity doctor is angry at public library offering doughnuts and cakes to children in December.  Food for thought.
  • Publishers being scrooges when it comes to e-books – News Tribune (USA). “Publishers have drawn an arbitrary line, and they are either not selling e-books to libraries or selling them at costs 100 to 300 percent higher than list prices or with heavy usage restrictions. Currently, only two of the six major publishers, HarperCollins Publishers and Random House Inc., are selling to libraries.” … Librarian says “For the books we can buy, because they are so overpriced, we make purchases sparingly to meet our commitment of being good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. “Fifty Shades of Grey” costs Pierce County Library $47.85 and sells on Amazon.comfor $9.99.”

“Minister for Skills Matthew Hancock MP today (28 November) joined writers Andy McNab and Adele Parks to push for a two-fold increase in the use of The Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge adult literacy programme in the next five years, to help tackle the UK’s continuing skills deficit. Their call was backed by the scheme’s growing range of supporters including the TUC, Quick Reads and new partners Rugby League World Cup 2013 and mobile network operator Three.  5.1m people have low literacy skills in England alone, and the charity is developing creative new approaches to help them become confident and enthusiastic readers, aiming to get 50,000 people taking part in the Six Book Challenge by 2017.  The Minister was one of the speakers at an event to celebrate the scheme’s first five years. This year 23,500 adults registered for the Six Book Challenge, a 30% increase on 2011. Ninety per cent of respondents in a Six Book Challenge survey said they felt more confident about reading after taking part.” Reading Agency aims to double scale of Six Book Challenge for adult literacy – Reading Agency (press release)

  • Terror has not withdrawn: daily life for librarians in Iraq – American Libraries (USA). ““The continuous terrorist attacks often result in snarled traffic and even blocking the main road that leads to the National Library,” said Eskander. “These attacks also affect the lives of some of my staff … their sons, brothers, or sisters have been injured. The [nearby] army headquarters was attacked twice viciously by terrorists in 2011. We were trapped, unable to evacuate our building for more than four hours.” According to Eskander, other institutions near the library were also attacked this year, such as the Shiite religious foundation’s headquarters, where 25 people were killed June 4.”
  • Who’s in charge of the deck chairs? – Question Everything.  A letter from the DCMS seems to back up the statement by Ed Vaizey in the Commons that it believes that the Arts Council (ACE) has a superintendence responsibility for libraries.  Boss of ACE is clear in online chat and follow-up email that they don’t.  Neither ACE (5 staff for libraries)  nor DCMS (4 and a bit) have the staff to do it anyway.


Local News

“North London residents and campaigners in Brent and Barnet, supporters of the Occupy movement and UK Uncut will transform a tax-dodging Starbucks’ store into a library and a creche.” Facebook.

  • Croydon – Council names secret bidder to run library services – East London Lines.  To the surprise of no-one, Laing has been selected as the preferred bidder to run Croydon’s outsourced libraries. “ohn Laing has previously found itself at the centre of controversy in Croydon after a deal was signed in 2008 allowing the company to borrow money to develop land belonging to the council.  The discussions surrounding this deal were also held in private. Further details of the company’s proposal to run Croydon’s 13 libraries will be made available to the public in the next few weeks.”
  • Hampshire – Borrowers owe thousands in unpaid library fines – Get Hampshire.  “Between October 2008 and September this year, the amount owed on items issued at Aldershot, Farnborough, Yateley and Fleet libraries totalled £43,982, a Freedom of Information request has revealed. “
  • Lincolnshire – Waddington Library – Lincolnshire Council. “Waddington Library will be closing at its present site from 2pm on Wednesday 14 November and re-opening at its new site (Lincolnshire Co-Op Pharmacy, Bar Lane, Waddington) on Friday 30 November at 9am.”
  • Wolverhampton – Cabinet to consider a revised plan for Community Hubs – WV11.  “Over 1,800 people took part in meetings, while feedback from more than 1,000 questionnaires, 12 petitions and hundreds of letters was also taken on board. Councillor Mattu said: “Talking to the public really has made a difference.” … “The main changes following the consultation include new proposals to retain six libraries, as well as a number of community and youth centres, in their current locations. There is also a commitment to closely involve the local community in the development of a total of 10 community hubs and three community service hubs across the city.” … “Councillor Mattu said the revised proposals, which will now deliver savings of £967,000 instead of the £1.1m earmarked by the original plans, reflected the findings of the consultation that some areas of the city were more supportive of community hubs than others.”… “Finchfield, East Park, Low Hill, Penn, Tettenhall and Whitmore Reans libraries in their current locations. It is now proposed that Collingwood Library will become a self-service library in a new location from April 2013.”