Eric Pickles, the Communities secretary, appeared to call library campaigners “luvvies” in Parliament today.  He also put forward the view that Cultural services such as cultural institutions should make money.  On the same day, a new graph – called the “Jaws of Doom” – shows that the planned cuts in council budgets combined with an increased demand for their services will mean a cut of nearly half in council’s spending.  This will mean – as the people of Newcastle (one of the few councils who have made their plans public for the next three years, rather than for just one) have discovered – the effective end of Arts provision and, at least, the halving of public library provision.  Not that Pickles will care, especially as he appears to believe  that such cuts can be achieved solely by efficiencies.  Conveniently for him, this means that he can blame councils – and not his own policies – for any cuts in services.  As a campaigner pointed out in an email I saw today, it also means that it’s “becoming clear that the real purpose of the Localism Act was to transfer blame, not power, to local authorities”. That the public will protest actively against such cuts has been more than proved by the last two years of protest.  Expect a lot more to come.

Cipfa have produced very detailed analyses for every English library authority showing their performance compared to others for a whole pile of indicators including number of branches, books, staff and hours.  It is going to be a goldmine for those interested in seeing how well-funded and run their library service is compared to every other one.  The DCMS hope that it will encourage authorities to be aware of how they are doing and to learn from the better off examples.  In the world in which we live, however, it is quite as likely to be used by others to justify cuts in services.  For campaigners, it does at least provide information freely available that does not depend on freedom of information requests.  Which is just as well, because the Government is making this useful tool a lot harder to get in the future.

Barnet Council has been granted an eviction order for Friern Barnet Library today, although they will not act upon it until the end of January to allow negotiations with the squatters.  Interestingly, this is another library that has been registered under the Community Right to Bid legislation (Kensal Rise has also gone down this router) meaning that the Council cannot sell the building for six months and has to allow community groups to bid for the building for the next 18 months.


“The CIPFAstats Public Libraries Profiles have been developed in response to requests from library authorities from around the UK. Our comparative profiles use the latest CIPFAstats data, bringing it into simple and easy to read charts that collectively build up a detailed view of how services compares to others. The aim of the profiles is to provide decision-makers with a quick, inexpensive way to engage with the most recent CIPFAstats data to support evidence based decision-making.DCMS have sponsored the 2011/12 set of reports for all English Library Authorities.

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, commented: “These detailed and illuminating reports will be a great help to the people running our libraries.  If there are areas of good practice or opportunities for development they will be highlighted, quite possibly for the first time.  This will help local authorities make informed decisions about any improvements they can make to ensure they are providing a comprehensive library service for all users’Cipfastats library profiles: English authorities – Cipfa.

  • Library protests are the domain “luvvies”, Eric Pickles tells MPs – Guardian.  “Last week new data showed that 201 libraries closed this year. Tristram Hunt, the historian, broadcaster and Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, took Pickles to task over putting emptying bins over culture. “In towns and cities across England, local authorities are being forced to close museums, shut care homes and end library provision, but the government found £250m to empty the bins more regularly,” said Hunt on Monday during questions in the Commons. “What kind of abysmal, philistine, reactionary government put dustbins above library books?”” … “Pickles, however, appeared unmoved, continuing in his response to Hunt: “People should look at how an authority can get more money in by exploiting and using its cultural heritage. Frankly, he is just lining up a bunch of luvvies. He should listen a little bit more.”

“It appears that the bloated caricature of blunt Yorkshire common sense knows better than President Obama, Andrew Carnegie and other figures. People who believe that the great democratic institution that is the public library service are “luvvies.” Tell that to the many hard-working working class and middle class people who have stood shivering in the cold to protest against library closures. Tell that to the young and the elderly who need their local branch library. Tell that to the many people from humble beginnings who have achieved great things because they were nurtured by the local library.” Alan Gibbons

  • Library returns – BBC Radio Four.  Repeat of programme on library cuts and the future of libraries, first shown in May and summarised here.
  • Local government cuts: the “Jaws of Doom” are ready to bite – Guardian.  “A new catastrophe graph, the “Jaws of Doom”, is doing the rounds in local government (following on from the Barnet Graph of Doom). It is a simple illustration that shows a “budget pressures” line rising steeply to the top right of the grid, and a “grant reductions” line crashing to the bottom right. It could be a child’s depiction of a shark, or a crocodile, about to bite its prey. Lunch, in this case, appears to be local government itself.” … “The UK’s biggest local authority [Birmingham] will see its grant reduce by £332m by 2016-17. Over that period costs will rise by an estimated £273m. That means £600m of savings, a cut of nearly half of the council’s controllable spending. “It’s the end of local government as we know it,” says the city’s leader, Sir Albert Bore.” … “The local government finance settlement – which enables every council in England to work out exactly how much cash it will have to spend in 2013-14 – is expected . All councils know it will be bad; the settlement will tell them precisely how bad (for some the margin amounts to tens of millions). The settlement is chronically late, a further blow for councils that must somehow stitch together a coherent budget by the end of January. Pickles’s tardiness is not popular.”

“This will move the public perception of cuts on to an unprecedented level. The current evisceration of discretionary services, such as libraries and after-school clubs, will be joined by cuts to previously protected areas, such as adult social care and children’s social services. Demand for these services will continue to rise, just as the capacity to cope shrinks.”

“(Oh its National Libraries Day,its National Libraries Day
so lets all go and visit one
yes lets all celebrate
yes lets all celebrate;]         Chorus
The greatest Library network in the world
you know theres something there for every boy and girl
whether they’re 2 years old or a 102
they’re bound to find lots of things to do
because Libraries arent just about books anymore
there are CD’s,DVD”s,Computers and friendly faces galore
And all you need to use this Palace of Knowledge is a free Library card
Then you can log on,borrow,or maybe read the works of the Bard
So get down to your local library today
And if you haven’t already signed up do it straight away
And if its ages since you walked through those doors
(why don’t you give them an hour and go and explore (x3)
Because the Palaces of Knowledge are here to staaaaaaaay!
oh yay!”

  • New FOI curbs could make Government more secret – Telegraph.  “One proposal would stop reporters from the same media group from making requests that cost more than £450 or £600 in the same three month period.”.  Officials can refuse requests which cost more than £600.
  • NLT: One in seven children has never visited bookshop –  BookSeller.  “One out of every seven young people has never been to a bookshop, according to new research by the National Literacy Trust compiled in the report Family Matters: The Importance of Family Support for Young People’s Reading.“.

Local News


“On December 7 the building was listed as a community asset under the Localism Act, which will give community groups a right to bid for the building and means the council cannot sell the building for six months. The council will also allow other community groups to come forward with their own bids to licence the library building for up to 18 months.”

“Closing libraries is like burning books”, “Books not banks” – Day one of the Friern Barnet court case.


  • Croydon – UKIP join forces with Labour for library judicial review – Inside Croydon.  “This unlikely political alliance has come about to seek a judicial review of Croydon Council’s decision to hand over the borough’s 13 public libraries to a subsidiary of the building firm, John Laing. A senior figure in Croydon’s Labour group has confirmed that they will work with UKIP to take the decision to an independent judge.”
  • Newcastle – Library campaigners set up website – BookSeller.  “The website,, brings together a petition against the proposed cuts, a blog with updates on the campaign, and ways for people to get involved in the fight. There is also a Twitter profile, @SNLcoalition, tweeting useful advice and links for campaigners.”
  • York – Radical plan aims to safeguard York Libraries – Press. Labour “Council chiefs are to investigate the development of a mutual organisation, following warnings from senior councillor Sonja Crisp that the existing council-run service is “not viable in the long term” given ongoing Government funding cuts.” Lib Dem opposition worry about selling off libraries.