The hullabaloo about Terry Deary’s comments on libraries show signs of finishing off, but not without coverage from as far away as the USA and Australia. Big guns like Neil Gaiman, Julia Donaldson and Terry Pratchett have some on side to defend the noble cause and much useful argument has been had.  On a not entirely unrelated topic, the launch of a bookless library in the USA, that is not replacing but rather is additional to normal libraries, causes comment in the Guardian.  Mr Deary will have even more to complain about shortly as Amazon are showing yet more signs of world domination by clearing the way for selling secondhand e-books.  Finally, a survey has found that a quarter of UK adults haven’t read any kind of book, library or whatever, in the last year,

Locally, Newcastle have announced a couple of branches will not close and a few more will likely be taken over by volunteers. A thousand people marched there this weekend against the wide range of cuts.  Similarly, in Sefton, a massive public reaction against closures has meant the council is delaying closing branches there.  One of the options there includes selling fruit and veg in the library building. Meanwhile, Sheffield are strongly pushing for community groups to take over their threatened branches and have even launched a prospectus, Options there include faith groups taking over.  Further south, Haringey are looking to close their mobile, housebound and school library services.

Good news includes a £50k refit in Bracknell Forest and the co-location to end all co-locations in Hertfordshire where a the library will be moved into a building that will house it as well as a youth centre, a museum and, a community centre.


  • Bestselling author riles many, calling libraries ‘no longer relevant’ – Christian Science Monitor (USA). “it was author Neil Gaiman, who delivered a knockout commencement speech earlier this year in Philadelphia, who hit the nail on the head in a recent tweet: “…libraries make readers. They don’t starve authors.””
  • Bored in the Library, Luxury of the Mind – Birds with teeth (USA). “Libraries provide that sacred third space of silence, both from sound and from other mental distraction, much the same as what Blanda finds in the shower, and what your average 1%-er finds in the comfort of the newest Learjet.”
  • Deary, deary me – Helena Pielichaty’s Diary of a children’s writer – Libraries aid authors by buying books and introducing readers to their books.
  • Finnish public library policy – Finnish Government (Finland).  Finns believe that “The library is a basic service along with comprehensive education” with vital role to ensure citizens have equal access, especially online.  Being up to date and extensive ensures it has many users.
  • It’s not what a library stocks, it’s what it shares – Guardian / Observer. First “bookless” public library in Texas.  “But there is no equivalent of public space online, which is too susceptible to corporate and technocratic control, and so the physical institution remains essential. The bookless library is not a contradiction in terms, but a continuation of the library’s core purpose, providing access to knowledge and information, and a public statement of the value of that access.”
  • Julia Donaldson defends libraries from Terry Deary’s attack – Guardian. “”I think it’s brilliant that libraries are free. Not only do library users also buy books, but if some users genuinely are too poor to buy books, then it’s great that we’ve got libraries for those people … [And] If libraries have any bearing on bookshops, it’s the other way – libraries are creating readers,” said Donaldson, who has “never met” a bookseller who believes libraries are putting them out of business.”  Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris also question Deary’s views.

“One of my sons found Horrible Histories in the library, and I used to buy them for his birthday. I would never have found them without the library, so I think library borrowing definitely contributes to sales.” Julia Donaldson

“I feel terrible and disloyal but when my fabulous local librarian was pushed out of the door (budget cuts) I lost the motivation to go. Sorry,” Terry Deary

  • Libraries in Four Boroughs Plan to Unify Some Tasks – Wall Street Journal (USA). “For two years, New York’s three separate library systems have been working on a plan to offer a single, seamless library account for all New Yorkers that would unify checkouts, returns, deliveries and even late fees for the New York, Brooklyn and Queens public libraries”
  • Lucy Mangan: sorrows and Amazon – Guardian. “Amazon has cleared a patent enabling it to sell used e-books. And now you know what it’s like to feel your whole brain agog. The idea is that when you have read your “book”* (on your cold, hard, comfortless but arguably more convenient screen) and don’t wish to “keep” **(or, rather, retain access to) it, Amazon will transfer the file from your account to a buyer’s, taking – of course – a cut in the process.”
  • Myth of the 21st Century Library – Stop the privatisation of public libraries.  Objects to being forced to change, The Myth of the 21st Century Library: Part 2 advocates a “back to basics” approach of books and in-house trained staff but with a mission to empower local communities and some serious outreach.
  • New build/refurb failures – Lis-link.  Excellent listing of problems involved with new builds and refurbishments provided by anonymous academic librarians, much of it relevant to public libraries.
  • Oh, Deary Me: John Dougherty – An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. “I hope it will be understood how much it pains me to say that Horrible Histories author Terry Deary has lately been behaving like a great steaming prat.” … “If libraries didn’t exist, I’d have to read less. And so would my children. And so would all the other children who depend on libraries. Deary is attacking libraries, despite his protestations; and in doing so, whether or not he realises it, he’s attacking literacy. And attacking them with arguments which are flimsy at best, and at worst simply unfounded.”

  • Protecting our public libraries Senator Jay Rockefeller (USA).
  • Quarter of adults ‘have barely read a book in past six months’ – BookSeller. “A quarter of UK adults—more than 12 million people—have only picked up a book to read for pleasure once, or less than once, in the past six months, according to new research commissioned by literacy campaign Quick Reads. A YouGov poll of just over 2,000 people also revealed that nearly one in 10 adults claim they never read books, with 29% of those surveyed who have read once every six months or less citing time pressures as the reason.”
  • Russia to purchase the English public library service for one hundred million roubles – Good Library Blog / Tim Coates.
  • Take it as read: your library is not an imminent threat to life as we know it – Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). “Oh how you’ll pay when Terry is done with you and your thieving local librarian, should they have the damned impertinence to lend you his book. Yes! Lend it to you! Rather than smacking you upside the head for the full retail price.”
  • Tax if the best form of defence – Question Everything.   “our competition the emerging economies are investing their vast resources into schools and libraries. At the same time we are cutting our libraries hard or passing them to the unwilling volunteers or the “Big Society” as it’s called.”.  Two kids getting through a book a week would cost a family £500 per year from Amazon.

“according to the OECD research “reading for pleasure was a more important indicator of future success than any socio-economic factors.”

  • We Need Strong Libraries in Tough Economic Times – Atlantic Highlands Herald. “Author Anne Herbert wrote, “Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries.”  That is where we are now – in a time of no money.  And we need strong libraries to get us through it.   The economy is cyclical, and things will get better.  Thus, our library system must be protected, to help us make a strong economic recovery.”
  • Why ready access to books is just as important as superfast broadband – Guardian / Blogs. “A new study from the Institute for Education suggests that for many people books are, or could become, vital tools of social engagement.”
  • Why Terry Deary Is Wrong: The Case For Libraries – Huffington Post. Fairly demolishes Terry’s “libraries are stealing from me” argument – “You can’t lose money that doesn’t exist in the first place, or which your potential customer is unable to spend on whatever it is you’re selling.”
  • Writers clash in library battle – Times (behind paywall).  Terry Pratchett says Deary is risking pemanent damage to libraries and he is fighting the wrong battle at the wrong time.


Local news

  • Birmingham – A Point of View: Why does everyone hate Birmingham… even Jane Austen? – BBC. “Across more than 150 years, a great central library has been an essential feature of Birmingham’s community life, as, indeed, of many other towns and cities, yet today, public libraries are threatened from all sides. Central government doesn’t seem to be much interested, local authorities are compelled to cut funding, and the IT revolution may portend the end of libraries as we know them.”

“this new library is an expression of civic confidence – in people, in knowledge, in the region and in the future.”

New combined library/youth/museum/community centre being built in Hertfordshire

  • Hertfordshire – Borehamwood community project underway – Hertfordshire Council. “The complex, which will house a library, youth facility and museum, is in central Borehamwood next to All Saints Church. It will also include a multi-purpose community hall for hire plus space for training, meetings and conferences.”  Replaces Elstree Way library. See website.
  • Kirklees – MP Barry Sheerman calls for libraries to be updated to “move with the times” – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “He asked Ed Vaizey, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport: “What assessment has been made of the number of library closures in England in 2013?” He added: “Opposition members do not believe that there should be no change to the library service. We have to move with the times. “However, libraries are the centre of a civilised community. They should be updated, but they are havens where people can go and where kids from poorer homes can do their homework.”
  • Midlothian – Local library petition started – Midlothian Advertiser. 100 people sign to save Newtongrange Library from movement to nearby Newbattle High School. ““Relocating it demonstrates a failed understanding of the social, cultural and educational importance of libraries at the centre of our communities and the role librarians play in providing services. “Relocation would rip the heart out of the village and our community.”
  • Newcastle – March through Newcastle over £100m cuts to services – BBC. “More than 1,000 protesters held a march in Newcastle over council plans to cut services including shutting libraries and swimming pools.”.  Confirmed that “council will end or reduce funding for seven of its 18 libraries in June.” … “The council had originally proposed a 100% cut to its support for the city’s arts and cultural organisations but it has now announced an annual fund of £600,000 to support the sector.”
  • £100m cuts package will not be the end of the pain – Journal. “The measures will see only Fenham and Cruddas Park definitely removed from the list of 10 libraries to be axed.” … “five libraries face the chance of being saved, with new funders coming in at Cruddas Park and Fenham. Jesmond and High Heaton may be saved, but only if community groups agree final talks to run the. They and Blakelaw Library would still face closure with the possibility of being reopened. At five other libraries, Dinnington, Moorside, Denton Burn, Newbiggin Hall, and Fawdon, there is no more funding and the sites will close down unless community groups step in.

““The council will still provide a core service of eight libraries and we will support those wanting to take over running some libraries. “And even for those where a group has not yet come forward to volunteer, we are still ready to work with those who do.”

“Voluntary group Sefton CVS could sell fruit and vegetables from Birkdale library if their plan to keep the service open is supported.”

  • Sheffield – Help for Sheffield library bids – Star. Council may help fund volunteer groups taking over libraries it is withdrawing from – “‘numerous’ community, voluntary and faith groups, as well as businesses have come forward” … “agreements for third parties to run libraries could work like a ‘franchise’ system.He added that the council aims to expand services offered at libraries to include advice services and new technology”

“It is hypocritical of Nick Clegg to be launching a campaign to save libraries when it is because of his Government’s policies that we are having to consider the future of the service in Sheffield.”

  • Suffolk – Library’s push for ‘friends’ – Bury Free Press. “Staff at Stowmarket Library found out before Christmas that it would face cuts to its budget, so manager Frances Law and assistant manager Sherrie Rozier decided to take steps to increase its means. They have set up group called Friends of Stowmarket Library to co-ordinate fund-raising events and initiatives.”