Ed Vaizey somehow scored a few points off Labour in the Commons on library closures today but that’s not the main news.  No, the big one is the massive reaction to Terry Deary’s comments.  It gained publicity in most of the broadsheets. Terry has, though, refused a public debate, going to say that the media distorted his views. He has also clarified (some argue, changed) his position by saying “I want all people of all ages to have access to literature” and questions if libraries are still the best place for this.  Some others have agreed with him on this and I recommend everyone to read Shoo Rayner’s chilling piece.  Others are more half and half (see Jabberworks).  The others pretty much think he’s Satan.

Terry Deary

  • A letter to Terry Deary – Marc Morris. Historian points out several factual errors in the first few pages of Stormin’ Normans and concludes “I’ll get back to you again when I’ve finished the rest of the book. But in the meantime, I can’t help wondering: do you think you should have spent more time in the library?”
  • Children’s Author Calls for Librarians To Be Fed To The Poor – Tommy Donbavand. ““In the wake of the horse meat scandal, it would make sense for families on lower incomes to know exactly what they were eating,” said Donbavand. Taking inspiration from fellow author, Terry Deary, who suggested this week that libraries should be closed and each child in the UK given an e-reader instead, Donbavand is keen to garner as much self-publicity as possible for his own unpopular opinions.”
  • Dear, Dear, Terry Deary! Are Libraries Finished? – Shoo Rayner. “Terry is a Card-carrying, old-school renegade. He’ll make a stand against anything that looks like authority just to make a bit of noise. I’m afraid that Terry, is just “being Terry.” You have to remember that Terry is an actor first and foremost and he loves a bit of drama.” but what he says has a strong basis in fact.  Libraries are changing, book use is being digitised and libraries need to find a new mission pronto or it’s the end for them.  Authors too.

“If you want to see libraries running as they used to, all silence, dusty books and fearsome Librarians, then start a re-enactment society. I’m sure you’ll get a few visitors on a wet bank holiday.” Shoo Rayner

  • Deary library row continues – BookSeller. “Gibbons has written an open letter to Deary calling for a debate. He said: “You say that I am not worth debating with. Fine, debate with somebody who is better known than I am, say David Almond, Philip Pullman, Lee Hall, Joan Bakewell, Lee Child or Kate Mosse or any of the other major figures who have spoken out against library cuts. Let’s get this debate out into the public arena without name-calling. Have libraries had their day? Should they all be closed? Has reading gone 100% digital? Should we give out iPads instead of having social spaces in the community? I say no, but let’s discuss it.”

“Librarians demand, quite rightly, that it is wrong to replace them with volunteers and that they should be paid properly for what they do. They shouldn’t be so surprised when authors say the same thing – even if an author’s language is slightly more arresting.” Tim Coates (says in Comments of £1 billion spent on libraries nationally, £9m (less than 1%) goes to authors, £30m to publishers), 70% goes on library staff and management)

  • Happy Valentine’s Day, Terry Deary – Jabberworks / Sarah McIntyre. “The guy’s prompted so many people read and care about history who might not have otherwise; I think he’s earned his chance to say something and have us think about it.” … argues that debate about libraries is tinged with nostalgia and fears that people with ideas would be shouted down regardless of their quality. Some good comments as well.

“Deary has the discussion going again in the media, and there’s more chance the media will listen to you if you tackle what he’s said. Thank you, Terry Deary, for that. I’ve seen several good responses already, but I’ve also seen a lot of name calling. Library friends, don’t do that. You know Deary isn’t anti-reading; Deary’s the guy you want to invite to your panel discussions. We need more than only hard-working but invisible yes-men.” Sarah McIntyre


Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central) (Lab):

I welcome the Government’s decision to fund six libraries to become business incubators, but it comes at a time when unfair local government funding solutions mean that, since 2010, 640 libraries have closed, are under threat or have been left to volunteers. Why are the Government not developing a survival strategy to support local authorities? Why are the Government not recommending alternatives for the delivery of services? Where is the vision? Where is the leadership?

Mr Vaizey: “I sometimes wonder whether the Labour spokesman looks at a single thing that I am doing. We have given responsibility for libraries to the Arts Council, we have set aside a £6 million fund, we have published the CIPFA statistics and we are piloting automatic membership for school children. He simply rolls over when Newcastle proposes to cut its culture and its libraries, and says, “I back Newcastle.

Barry Gardiner (Brent North) (Lab):

I am sure the Minister will share my disappointment that libraries have become a political football between national and local government. Does he agree that perhaps the best way of safeguarding our libraries is to define more clearly what constitutes a statutory comprehensive library service?

   Mr Vaizey:

We have issued clear guidelines to local authorities based on the Charteris review, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that libraries should not be a political football. It is important that local authorities be free to make decisions about the future of their library services. The decisions taken by the Labour council in Brent were based on proposals that were six or seven years old and not related to cuts.” House of Commons, Hansard, Oral Answers to Questions, Culture, Media and Sport.

  • You Are Paid in Smiles, by Ryan Claringbole Letter to a Young Librarian. “this is a profession where you are paid in smiles. And nods. Mumbled thank you-s. And those are from the people that will actually acknowledge what you’ve done. This is not taking into account the people that do not say thank you, that curse the heavens that you dare charge them a $.35 late fee for that item and ask when did the library begin having a policy that charges for items not returned on time. The grumps. The frumps. Screaming children, neglectful parents, people that smell, people that revel in your suffering (so it seems). This is, after all, public service. Is it worth it? Oh, yes. Yes indeed. “
  • Twitter Takeover : Nikki Owen, Writer – Voices for the Library. “And that’s the library in 2013. A place where, in the page of a book, you can be whoever you want to be. For free.”
  • Video: Japanese movie ‘Library Wars’ trailer – Digital Journal.  Full live-action military assault on a library in this film.


Local News

  • Brighton – Crafts and carnivals at libraries day celebrations in Brighton – Argus. “Coldean Library in Brighton marked the event with a Caribbean Carnival, which gave youngsters the chance to play alongside a steel band.”
  • Croydon – Cllr Pollard’s Q&A on Croydon Libraries – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. Councillor says outsourcing will save libraries and save money. Interesting insight into the reasons and the processes involved.
  • Council save library from drastic funding cuts – East London Lines. “Croydon’s local studies library and archives service have been saved from dramatic cuts after a council U-turn on funding. Proposals made late last year to reduce the library’s annual budget by £105,000 to create a “statutory minimum” service caused anger among some observers.” … “The council intends to move the service from the third floor of the Central Library on Katharine Street to a larger and currently vacant exhibition gallery on the ground floor later this year. The move will save seven full time jobs in the arts and heritage section of the central library, according to the local authority.”
  • Lancashire – Musician visits county libraries to mark day – LEP. “David Gordon aka One Man and His Beard, visited ten libraries to mark national libraries day. Armed with his guitar he visited libraries in Lostock Hall, Penwortham, Bamber Bridge and others, to sing a song for the occasion. David has been singing and playing the guitar as One Man and His Beard for around 20 years, but only started singing about libraries a couple of years ago.”
  • Moray – Scotland’s Moray council to close seven libraries – BookSeller.
  • Newcastle – National Libraries Day Comes to Jesmond – Jesmond Local. Tony Durcan says campaign has reminded people of the importance of the library service. ““It would be hard felt by those who find it hard to go to another library, not those who choose not to, but those who otherwise find it difficult to travel.””
  • Sefton – Crosby Civic Hall could be razed in radical library plans as thousands show support for Crosby and Litherland libraries – Crosby Herald. “Should the Civic Hall be razed a replacement community library would be built within the new complex and would be the same size as the current facility. The developers – who have not been named – approached the council after it announced it could no longer fund the maintenance and running of the venue.” … “The report also tells how a commercial library provider has stepped forward with a view to running some of the at-risk facilities and talks are continuing.”

“The proposal would be at a net zero cost to the council and provide a new library facility of an equivalent size to the existing library at a peppercorn rent.”

  • Save Southport libraries – Kew Focus. “”Twelve and a half thousand people from Southport have petitioned the Council chiefs to tell then how much we value our branch libraries.   Many have also presented detailed explanations of why each of Southport’s three libraries should be retained.  This is a chance for all three campaigns to come together, united, to show our support for those who are presenting the case on all our behalf.”
  • Sunderland – Council tax freeze for Sunderland – Northern Echo. ““What we haven’t done is make any decision over the closure of any libraries. That will come down to consultation process.” Services could be spread out into school and community centres, functioning with the help of volunteers.”
  • Swindon – Petition launched on cuts to library hours – Swindon Advertised. “Save Old Town Library, an action group led by Shirley Burnham, has launched a petition, that says the cuts to smaller libraries are disproportionate as Old Town and Penhill would lose nearly half its staffed hours, while Central Library would only lose three.”,  Volunteer in comments refutes need for paid staff saying “let’s face it, it’s not rocket science”.
  • Wrexham – Councillors Reject Principle Of Closing Libraries – Wrexham.com. “The basis of this idea being that if a library was to close it would only be if another suitable, more cost effective method could be found to provide the service. Although not referred to in the resolution Mr Jenkins did specify he did not see mobile library services as an acceptable alternative.”