Fresh from the Universal Offers launch, another important bit of library news comes along today with the Government’s reponse to the Select Committee Inquiry into Library Closures.  Turns out they’ve seen the error of their ways and will order direct interventions in ten authorities on Monday.  Only kidding.  To the surprise of no-one, it’s clear they see themselves as facilitators and spreaders of best practice only. A summary of their response is below with the CILIP view presented with gusto, as always, by President Phil below.

In other news, Cardiff and Swindon look set to cut opening hours and Coventry Central is having a refurbishment.  The Universal Offer (well, OK, Books on Prescription), by the way, was all of the Guardian page three today – which is a very impressive showing, as are the 340 plus comments on the corresponding webpage.

The Government responds to the Inquiry into Library Closures

Government Response to the Report of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Third Report of Session 2012-13: Library Closures – Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The main thrust of the response is that libraries are “not a service in crisis” and that it is highly unlikely that the  Government will intervene in particular local authorities,  Rather, it sees its role as limited to providing guidance and best practice.

    • Government has “no intention” of restoring Standards.
    • Arts Council, LGA and DCMS together will help inform the minister but he will make final decision, bolstered by specialist library advertiser (the part-time Yinnon Ezra).
    • Government will highlight “potential efficiencies” in sharing services

Government will give guidance to local councils on their responsibilities under the Act as it’s “not cost-effective” to decide things by judicial review.  This will include a re-circulation of its previous guidance and the key findings of the Charteris Report.Volunteers “are a way of growing the service, not replacing it” and the Arts Council’s guidance should be used.Advocates different ways of delivering service and particularly notes York’s move to being run by a mutual. Review of English libraries will be provided by end of 2013 and not in 2014 as previously stated.  This will become annual.The rules governing the powers to call a local inquiry will be reviewed.

On the Government Library Closures Inquiry – CILIP / President Phil Bradley. Response by official librarian’s body notes the complacency of the report at a time when “library closures reaching almost one per working day according to our figures, with a similar dramatic reduction in staff numbers.”.

  • Looks like written before recent cuts to Arts Council
  • Leaves decisions (and responsibility and blame) in practice entirely to local councils.
  • “I’m rather puzzled how on the one hand everything can be left up to local authorities and the Arts Council, while on the other hand the Secretary of State still has a role to play. “
  • Arts Council guidance on volunteers is unconvincing. “a ‘community library’ is no library at all, it’s doomed to failure, however hard and well intentioned the efforts of volunteers are, and it’s not a cheap solution.”
  • Welcomes annual report but wonders why, if libraries are so healthy, it is necessary.
  • Little acknowledgement of the need for skilled staff.
  • Fears of postcode lottery in terms of service provision.


As the Chair of one of the [place] libraries which are to become community-run this year, I can tell you first-hand that even those of us who have elected to take on our libraries rather than lose them altogether are under no illusions that this is anything but a very bad deal all round … We are under no illusion that we shall be able to provide anything like as good a service as our village has enjoyed in the past.   When the next round of cost-savings arrives, we shall watch with sadness the inevitable closures or community takeovers of those libraries currently reprieved.  A “Friends Of” library response – Phil Bradley’s Weblog.

  • After modest life, huge gift to two charities – New York Times. “Now, nearly two years after her death in February 2011 at 88, the full depth of Ms. Bailey’s wealth and charity is emerging as donations totaling about $20 million began flowing from her estate to the library and the conservancy.”
  • Announcing the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme – Reading Agency.  “We hope our Reading Well health work with SCL will have a double benefit. It will use reading and libraries to make a real difference to people’s lives, and it should help powerful new partners see what a vital, multi-faceted role libraries play, and that investing in a strong public library system is a really smart move, because it can help prevent social problems further down the line.”
  • Diversifying populations place new burdens on public libraries – National Journal (USA). Looks at english as a foreign language classes in libraries. “Newcomers have always viewed public libraries as a safe place to turn to for educational, reading, and reference needs, as well as to access the Internet”
  • Gimmicks galore at the great public libraries gala – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “all in all some good ideas lauched too late with too little staff and too few resources”
  • GPs to prescribe library books to combat anxiety, depression and relationship problems – Telegraph.  “The initiative, funded by nearly £20,000 from the Arts Council, will result in every public library having a designated list of texts for problems ranging from “anger” to “worry””.  Also, librarians will help with benefits “Staff in libraries, said to now be highly valued as “information navigators”, will help readers fill in forms online.”
  • Let’s not just block and filter the internet, let’s teach our children how to use it properly – CILIP.  “Insafe’s 10th Safer Internet Day, takes place on Tuesday 05 February 2013. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) welcomes the event and warns that e-safety policy should strike the right balance between protecting and empowering children and young people.”
  • Reason why publishers won’t ever supply ebooks to public libraries – Good Library Blog. “The reason why publishers won’t supply ebooks to public libraries is because libraries insist on having marc records and their own catalogues” … “The symptom of their mutual lunacy is that they operate different cataloguing systems- which means that they have to intermediaries who interpret for them – and those intermediaries survive because of the differences and have no desire to resolve them”
  • Return of National Libraries Day – BookSeller.  “Mark Taylor of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP), which is co-ordinating the event, said the organisation  was “really pleased” with this year’s response. “Lots of new events are being added to the NLD events map on a daily basis and there has been a huge amount of support from the grassroots,” Over 200 events so far.  Kent, which avoided NLD last year, says “NLD is the perfect opportunity to celebrate everything Kent has to offer.”  A few authorities are not commemorating the day including Lincolnshire who celebrate it “all year round” instead. SCL says it “strongly encourages all public libraries to participate”.
  • Society of Chief Librarians announce universal library offers – Voices for the Library. “we hope that this is just the beginning of a continuing co-ordinated programme of support and development for libraries … Users benefit from libraries in such a variety of ways that other areas with less of a high profile should not be ignored”.  Notes offers are voluntary rather than compulsory. Volunteer libraries mean this may reinforce the division in libraries. Would prefer standards … but generally welcomes the report.


Local News

  • Barnet – Friern Barnet Library: a people’s library, and a people’s victory – Broken Barnet.  “The trustees of FBCL have now received an amended licence from LBB to allow them to be in the library legally. They will have 2 weeks, with promise of renewal of licence if necessary, to negotiate a lease and other matters. LBB has shown a willingness to amend the licence to their satisfaction.”

“The story of Friern Barnet Library is so much more than the tale of one library, one community, or even the library campaign itself. It is a magnificent example of what ordinary people can achieve, if they just try to stand up for something they feel passionately about,  to fight an injustice, to make their voices heard.”

East Lothian – A week in the life

  • East Sussex – Asbestos scare shuts library – Bexhill Observer.  Closed for two weeks due to discovery of asbestos during refurbishment.
  • Glasgow – Tweeting for National Libraries Day – Glasgow Library Tweetups. “What do you use your library for? What does your library mean to you? Help GLTU to create an online snapshot of what goes on in Scotland’s libraries by tweeting the answers to these questions on National Libraries Day, or in the week running up to it.”
  • Kent – Library’s amazing answer – Kennington News / Twitter.  Kent Libraries refuse offer of more (free) shelving in children’s library but offer to reduce bookstock instead at Bockhampton library.
  • Milton Keynes – Future of leisure centres and libraries in residents’ hands – Milton Keynes Citizen.  “Council is running a Community Asset Transfer Programme which will allow communities to take over the day to day running of facilities such as leisure centres, libraries and open space in the town.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Library rumours unconfirmed – Tenby Today.  Possibility library will move into leisure centre.  Council says “discussions are taking place on potential alternative locations for the library that would better enable us to meet these priorities. “
  • Swindon – Agenda item – Swindon Council Meeting. “Reduce opening hours in all libraries. Provide 10 hours in smaller libraries, 30 hours in medium libraries, 45 hours in larger libraries and 55 hours in Central library. Reduction in staff costs. No savings in buildings or IT costs.” £99k cut proposed.