The above quote is from an excellent brief clip about the author Junot Diaz’s first experience of a public library that shows the impact and importance of public libraries.  It’s a message that the ex head of Lancashire libraries makes clear needs to be got through to those holding the purse strings … especially those in central Government.


  • 562 public library jobs lost in London since 2007/8 – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. A very informative look at the staffing cuts, culled from the Cipfa stats. Also looks at the increase in volunteers.  “Newham for 2011/12 record 2 professional staff and there are others with only 4/5. How can you run a comprehensive and efficient, statutory public service with only 2 professional staff?”.

“I was a director with responsibility for cultural service in a large local authority. My task was to mount a case not to protect libraries, museums and arts from budget cuts but to argue for their continued existence. In some places like Newcastle, that argument has been lost, at least in respect of the arts – presumably libraries and museums will follow next year or the year after. This is not just a recognition that increasing numbers of local councils can’t afford libraries, museums and arts but that they have to give up ambitions for local councils as a significant player in making for a better place to live, work, visit and invest in.In my experience, it is not the local politicians who need convincing of the contribution of these services but central government.” Blair McPherson, Former director of community services at Lancashire county council in Guardian (letters).

Author Junot Díaz describes how his first visit to a library astonished and inspired him

  • Libraries see opening as bookstores close – New York Times (USA). “At the bustling public library in Arlington Heights, Ill., requests by three patrons to place any title on hold prompt a savvy computer tracking system to order an additional copy of the coveted item. That policy was intended to eliminate the frustration of long waits to check out best sellers and other popular books. But it has had some unintended consequences, too: the library’s shelves are now stocked with 36 copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey.” … ““A library has limited shelf space, so you almost have to think of it as a store, and stock it with the things that people want”.

“Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grassroots technology training centers. Faced with the need to compete for shrinking municipal finances, libraries are determined to prove they can respond as quickly to the needs of the taxpayers as the police and fire department can.”

  • Public libraries generate record eBook traffic on Christmas – Marketwire (USA). “Public libraries utilizing OverDrive’s Next Generation digital lending platform served a record number of eBook, audiobook, music and video titles to patrons on Christmas Day. The most dramatic growth occurred among users of iPad, Kindle Fire and Android devices … Mobile users account for as much as two-thirds of all traffic at Next Generation pilot libraries, and they’re generating record traffic”.
  • True story for Christmas – Bookwitch. “Eva Ibbotson is no longer with us, and our libraries seem destined to go the same way. Wouldn’t it be lovely if stories like this one could stop library closures, while also opening our hearts more to those who have had to leave their homes, through no fault of their own?”


Local news

  • Bracknell Forest – Bracknell library now open – Bracknell News. Refurbishment complete, official opening 8th January.
  • Brent – Independent report slates Brent Council’s library service – Brent and Kilburn Times. “an independent report [Cipfa] into public libraries revealed it was in the bottom quarter of authorities and claimed its current service “does not engage well with the population” … “it showed that Brent had the fewest number of libraries of any comparative borough, was “by far the worst” for libraries in relation to its population and had a “low proportion of active borrowers”
  • Conwy – Library improvement recognised – North Wales Weekly News. “latest report from CyMAL recognises the improvements made to Conwy’s library service over the last 12 months. The report presented to Conwy cabinet was welcomed as evidence of the impact recent work has had on the service. Cllr Phil Edwards, member for communities, said: “We’ve moved from a point where we were one of the worst library services in Wales to a position where we can be proud of it.”
  • Derbyshire – Fewer and older books for library visitors as service feels the strain – This is Derbyshire. “Tens of thousands fewer books were bought for Derbyshire’s libraries this year compared with previous years. County Hall bosses said they had managed to keep all the libraries open – but conceded it had not been able to keep up the same levels of investment on new material.” … “Derbyshire County Council spent £1.7 million on new material – mostly books – in 2011-12, which paid for approximately 150,000 books. But that budget was slashed by just over 25% – £450,000 – for this financial year” … “”We’ve been a victim of our own success. By making it easier for people to renew books and sending out reminders by text and e-mail, we collect less in library fines because people aren’t incurring them.”

To any library user who reads your paper ‘staffing’ surely means county council staff dealing with the public. That is not what they are planning at all. The library service has appointed two ‘community library liaison officers’ (one to cover the four western libraries in your patch and the other to look after Colehill, Stalbridge. Corfe Castle and Wool) whose job will be to advise us volunteers, not to ‘staff’ the library in any sense. In fact these CLLOs will spend no more than three hours in any of the libraries a week. In the case of Puddletown ours will come to help us only when the library is closed to the public.” Mike Chaney’s emailed response to Dorset – New chapter in Chickerell library story – Dorset Echo.

  • Edinburgh – City libraries set up e-magazine service – Scotsman. “Library2go, Edinburgh City Libraries’ home for ebooks and audiobooks, has now added the e-magazine service Zinio – giving members access to 77 titles including Hello, Good Housekeeping, National Geographic and Newsweek.”
  • Essex – Novel way to make use of Christmas presents – Essex County Standard.  “Harwich and Manningtree libraries will bring members free e-audio books to use on MP3 players, smart phones and computers.”
  • Gloucestershire – New community-run library in Berkeley is officially opened – Gazette.  “Charles Berkeley officially opened the library on Saturday, December 15 at 12pm. Berkeley Books had been open since Tuesday, November 6, when volunteers took over the premises from the county council.”
  • Hampshire – Stanmore library closes to relocate to community centre – This is Hampshire. “new library for Stanmore will open on January 21 following the closure of the previous branch last Thursday … The service will relocate to the Carroll Centre in nearby Somers Close. The county council closed the Wavell Way branch as it was one of the least-used and smallest libraries in Hampshire, with an average of 106 borrowers a month. Critics said the council had through limited opening hours made closure inevitable.”

“Blackheath Community Library hours (closed until 2/1/2013) we checked the other Community Libraries …. Sydenham Library closed 24/12/2012 until 1/1/2013….. Crofton Park closed 24th – 26th Dec, 27th -29th open 9 am until 1 pm, 30th until 1st Jan 2013 closed…. Grove Park closed 24th – 26th dec, 27th open 10 am until 7 pm, closed Friday 28th as normal, 29th open 10 am – 5 pm as normal, 30th Dec – 1st Jan closed. New Cross closed 24th – 1st January 2013. The public library service continues as normal, except for the stautory holidays.Is anyone checking their community library hours to see how well they are working, especially during school holiday times?” Lewisham – via email.

  • Liverpool – Central Library’s priceless treasures hidden in bunker 500 foot undergroundLiverpool Daily Post.   “Gordon Dunn, who manages the mine in Winsford in which the council’s artefacts are stored, said there was every chance there were some mysterious items in storage that he and colleagues knew nothing about.” … ““We’ve picked the safest place, with a constant temperature and humidity, to store the records, which include items for the National Archives as well.”
  • Newcastle – Council put cash aside to board up shut libraries – Chronicle. “if no one can be found to run some libraries, demolition has not been ruled out … Among those at risk is the High Heaton library, recently refurbished as part of a £40m PFI deal. Because of it is a private finance initiative (PFI) deal, the council will still have to pay some £7,500 a year for the next two decades to cover its loan, Lib Dems say.”

“We know that keeping High Heaton library running costs around £90,000 a year. Around £8,000 is earmarked for boarding up costs, £7,500 is required for the annual PFI finance charge and potentially tens of thousands will be needed to pay the staff’s redundancy costs. We do not believe this makes any sense.”

  • Norfolk – Residents encouraged to join their local library – Diss Express. “The annual Join Up January campaign will be launched in the New Year and it is free to become a library member … during January, everyone will receive a voucher sheet with offers on DVD hire and book reservations when they borrow an item from the library,”
  • Sefton – Libaries consultation closes mid-January – Southport Visiter. “No final decision to close any libraries has been taken at this stage and councillors are strongly urging people to fill in the consultation form before January 14, 2013. This is a new questionnaire following an initial public engagement earlier this year which drew 6,000 responses from library users and non-users.”
  • Surrey – Outstripping country for library loans of Fifty Shades of Grey – Surrey News / Council. ““While the trilogy of stories won’t suit every taste, we stock around 190,000 new books a year for people to choose from, including the latest from hugely popular authors like Ian Rankin and John Grisham. “On top of that we’ve invested in our libraries to ensure they remain popular and relevant to their local communities. All 52 now have free wi-fi and computer terminals so people can catch up with friends and family on facebook or help them with their studies.””
  • Worcestershire – Woodrow library extending refurbishments – Redditch Advertiser. “Originally the library was set to be closed this month so that repair work could start, but now the work is set to be extended so that more refurbishments can take place, which were included in the original plans … Worcestershire County Council is working with Redditch borough council to establish a one stop shop at Woodrow Library, which will include the relocated Woodrow Customer Service Centre. There will also be easier access to adult learning opportunities, events for children and young people, and a new meeting space which community groups and services will be able to use.”