I get a lot of emails about how wonderful libraries are but this one struck a chord.  Read and be re-energised in your struggle for great public libraries, be you a library worker, a politician, campaigner or just plain interested bystander.

“Through PLN yesterday I learnt that the public library I first used (Broadway, Worcestershire) may be going volunteer-only, or not properly funded. Without that library from ages 7 to 12, much more so than my schooling (punishment for minor transgressions at  primary was the cane, or a stinging nettle stroked down your arm), I would either still be working on the farm in Worcestershire, or in jail, or dead. One of those three.

I read several hundred books borrowed from that exact library. When you’re poor and a youngster in 1970s rural Worcestershire, the options were either setting fire to things, or shooting wildlife. Culture; what media? Three dire TV channels, BRMB on the radio and the only cinema within 20 miles closed down.

Or, as I discovered on my own, there was reading. Reading whatever the hell looked interesting, even if I didn’t understand everything I read (on the first go). Reading because the cover was eye-catching, or the description on the back was exciting, or because I remembered the author’s name from somewhere and the librarian got it for me, or because it was words and stuff about places that were not a Wurzle-redneck backwater that only the rich kids were able to escape from.

So I read and read and read because, hell, I could, and there was nothing stopping me from reading whatever I wanted. And no-one ordered me to read either, so it wasn’t work or a chore or an avoid-punishment thing. And eventually I ‘escaped’, literally read my way out from a poverty-line orchard farming life. Took the English ‘O’ Level a year early, got a grade A and an award for one of the highest marks in the country. Then college, then university, far away.

Because I read, rather than spending all my time shooting at fleeing things, or setting fire to other things. Because there were no barriers to reading. Because there was a library, a proper well-stocked library with helpful, knowledgeable staff there.

No other reason.

John Kirriemuir, via email.


“many libraries are often open from 4-7pm and on Saturdays, because this is when people are home from work and can visit the library. In so many countries, part of the reason library usage is declining is that libraries are open from 9-5 on weekdays – exactly when everyone is doing something else.”


Local News

  • Dorset – Charmouth Library to re-open thanks to volunteers – Bridport News. “The freehold of the building was transferred from Dorset County Council to the Friends of Charmouth Library after the authority withdrew its funding. Everyone is invited to the re-opening at 2pm, library user or not.” … “Building work on an extension will begin in mid-March, paid for by a £50,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund. The extra space will allow refreshments to be served, social and educational activities to be held, a tourist information point, internet cafe facilities, and the selling of locally-produced goods and donated books and DVDs.”

“DCC will still provide the books, the computers and a little professional help and Charmouth has to do the rest.” Charmouth Central Ltd has been formed to take on the freehold of the building and carry out building work, including repairing the roof, installing central heating, and re-decorating.”

  • East Sussex – Temporary library for people of Langney – Eastbourne Herald. Shopping centre loses roof causing its closure so “The library, like the community cafe, will be set up in St Barnabas Church – right next to Langney Shopping Centre.”
  • Leeds – Leeds Library: Hidden cultural gem amid city centre life – Yorkshire Evening Post. “The independent Leeds Library is open to members who pay an annual subscription and has been there since 1768.”.  1500 new items each year.  It is the oldest surviving subscription library in the UK.
  • Newcastle – City Council Cabinet Approves £100m Programme Of Cuts – Sky. “The public were consulted on a wide-ranging package of cuts including the closure of 10 community libraries, the City Pool and City Hall, and a 100 percent reduction in the council’s arts budget. But at a meeting on Monday February 25, the council’s cabinet approved amendments to the budget, which will save Castle Dene and Cheviot View respite centres, protect some libraries and safeguard the City Hall.”
  • Stop the cuts: Protest lobby of Newcastle Council – Facebook. “On Wednesday 6 March, Newcastle city councillors are expected to vote through massive cuts to local services. This includes the closure of between 5 and 11 branch libraries. Save Newcastle Libraries is calling a protest to lobby councillors immediately before the full council meeting.”
  • Sefton – Campaigners launch final bid to save Sefton’s libraries from closure – Liverpool Echo. “A joint further submission was put together by Birkdale Library Action Group (BLAG), Friends of Ainsdale Library and Friends of Churchtown Library in a last-minute appeal to Sefton council.”  Alternative plan submitted that would cut £400k per year by reducing opening hours rather than closing libraries.
  • Shetland – Public library facing cuts to opening hours and books budget – Shetland Times.  Sole library on islands to have opening hours cut by six hours per week due to budget being cut by a tenth.  Two mobiles libraries “more or less unchanged”.  Library book budget cut by a quarter to £15,000. 15-20% cut for school libraries book budgets too.

“Combined spending on the public and school library services in 2013/14 was set at just over £930,000 by councillors last week, trimming £36,000 from last year’s budget. That comes on top of savings of £99,000 the previous year. Ms Fraser said savings of around 10 per cent in the past 12 months came from a combination of staff cuts and savings from the training, travel, subsistence and equipment budgets.”

  • Suffolk – World Book Day is coming to Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries (press release, via email). Events include crime writer talk, a “human library”, class visits,
  • Wokingham – Libraries and road maintenances budgets slashed in council cuts – Get Wokingham. “More than £230,000 will be cut from spending on libraries over the next three years, but executive member for internal services Councillor Pauline Jorgensen doesn’t expect customers will notice any change to the service. She said: “There are a few process improvements we are taking in terms of centralising the storage of books and generally a lot of tweaking around the edges to provide more efficiencies.”