Some more disquiet on the decision by ACE/SCL to commission a survey to promote their new public library that resulted in research that suggested most people would not mind that they would close.  Most notably, The Reading Agency has dissociated itself from the research. Having said that, it is worth pointing out that the website (Bookmark Your Library) itself is a useful initiative and something that has been needed for years.  In addition, it is hardly the fault of ACE/SCL if the public are turning away from libraries.  However, without knowing the methodology of the research it is hard to know for sure, although the large sample suggests it’s accurate.

Two more items along this line are worthy of note.  The first is a newspaper article that argues that so many libraries as we currently have are not needed any more and so it makes sense to close a few in Sheffield.  The second is all the way from New Zealand and reports a big drop in usage, brought about by e-books and the internet.  This suggests a reduction in usage may be worldwide, which makes sense if the technology (and access to it)  is same everywhere, which in the developed world it largely is.  The increase in library usage in the USA would argue against this until one notes that there is an extreme poverty gap there and also that there are not the job centres that we are used to here, with libraries taking on their job search/application role.  On the other hand, in less developed countries, libraries seem as important – or possibly more so – than ever.  Articles today from Romania and Pakistan suggest that it is recognised that more money is needed in libraries there.

This is not to say, of course, that public libraries have now lost their use in the UK and the politicians are justified in closing them down as an irrelevance.  Far from it.  It just means that the arguments of those wishing to save them ring less worthily in the ears of the decision-makers and the challenge, difficult enough three years ago, is even more challenging today.

Moving away from worldwide trends, a noteworthy change today is the transfer of Stony Stratford Library to the local town council as a Community Asset Transfer.  This is the library whose proposed closure two years ago led to a campaign that emptied the shelves whose resultant publicity went international. Milton Keynes Council backed down then and have looked for another way – and it seems that they have now found one, with the library remaining open with paid staff but transferred out of their control and with an extra training function.  Two other co-locations reported below also show the shape of things to come – perhaps – as One Stop Shop functions and a link with a Medical Centre are announced in Neston and Brighton respectively.  Library buildings are being expected to do more today than they once were – the book function is, in many cases, no longer seen as enough by many councils to justify a stand-alone building.  Times, and libraries perhaps, change.


  • ACE/SCL report says libraries ‘forgotten’ – BookSeller. “A newly launched library website set up by Arts Council England and the Society of Chief Librarians has reported that 60% of people are not visiting their local libraries. But the report has been criticised by library campaigner Desmond Clarke, who said it was “strange for the organisations behind this website to launch it with such negative results”.”

“The Reading Agency is not in any way associated with the research ‘are our public libraries being forgotten?’ published today on the Bookmark website. We have supported work on the site, and the promotion of reading through it.” Miranda McKearney, The Reading Agency. (comments).

  • Fewer visit city libraries – Otago Daily Times (New Zealand).  Drop in usage of 8.1% blamed on e-books and internet. “The library had purchased some e-books, but that area of its service was still in its infancy, largely because of the issues around creating a system for libraries that dealt with technicalities around copyright, formats, platforms, and the different requirements of publishers.”.  Library will still get one million visits this year.
  • More libraries needed in the country-ICCBS director – Pakistan Today. “the existence of libraries and their proper use has become an indicator to evaluate the pace of progress of any country. Pakistan needs to have more libraries in every corner of the country to accelerate the pace of economic and social progress.”
  • New Report Provides In-Depth Review of eBook Borrowing at Five U.S. Public Libraries – Library Journal / Infodocket (USA). “The present ecosystem for ebooks in libraries does not represent a value for our members. While competitors to Overdrive have emerged, this competitive environment does not drive prices down, as prices are controlled not by vendors, but by publishers.”
  • Read this: closing libraries may work – Star / Colin Drury.  “They are a relic from an age before car and computer were common”  … “maintaining such a resource in such numbers is an outrageous waste of public money” … falling use means libraries should close but with services such as buses to those that survive, computer suites in any still open council building or back rooms of shops,
  • Study: More Romanians using libraries, but 64% say they need more funding – Romania Insider. “Around 16 percent of Romanians go to public libraries to borrow books and get online, according to a study by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in 17 countries. The study also found that more and more Romanians are using public libraries and that the libraries themselves are offering more information services. Internet access seems to be an important pull factor.” … “64 percent of Romanians think that libraries still need additional funding, much more than the 40 percent European average.”


Local News

  • Brighton – Work starts on new library and medical centre in Woodingdean – Brighton and Hove News. “Work has started on the new Woodingdean library and medical centre in Warren Road. The new premises are being built on the site of the old library which will close on Saturday 30 March.” … “The new library will be about twice as big as the current one with a computer suite, meeting room and out-of-hours entrance so the community can make the most of building.”
  • Cardiff – Libraries to reduce opening hours – Cardiffian. “The changes will affect 12 out of Cardiff’s 16 full-time libraries and will come into effect on April 1. Nearby libraries will close on different day, with none of the branch libraries closed on Saturdays. More than 500 people have signed a petition against the proposed closure [for one day] in Rhiwbina.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire West customer service access point will move to Neston Library – Ellesmere Port Pioneer. “Currently housed within Neston Town Hall, the relocation will take place from Monday, March 25, and see the access point located closely to the People’s Network computers and I-Connect video kiosk that is already housed at Neston Library. Increased opening hours at the library will mean easier access for locals and allow Cheshire West and Chester Council to offer an improved range of services.”
  • Hull – Community hopes to run Hull library threatened with closure – BBC. Anlaby Park: “Residents have held a series of protests against the planned closure, including a demonstration outside the council’s Guildhall.” … “One of the campaigners Barbara Bourne said the library was used by all age ranges. She said: “It’s all we have in this area because it acts as a community centre as well as a library. “It’s just important.” Hull-born actress Maureen Lipman has backed the campaign to save the library describing it as a “lovely little place”.”
  • Milton Keynes – Stony Stratford Library Transfers To The Town Council – About My Area. “Following a pilot scheme under the council’s Community Asset Transfer programme, the property of Stony Stratford Library has now been transferred to Stony Stratford Town Council.”.  Library “will become a centre for learning at the heart of the local and surrounding communities.”
  • Portsmouth – Authors speak up over under-threat library bus service – News. “As previously reported in The News, the future of the city’s mobile library service is currently uncertain as maintenance costs start to increase. Local authors have voiced their concerns about the impact of the potential closure. Ali Sparkes, author of the Unleashed series, thinks Portsmouth City Council is right to maintain public libraries but sees the bus service as a vital addition.”
  • Southend – Art gallery could move into library – Southend Standard. “The Beecroft Art Gallery in Westcliff could get a new home at Southend’s Central Library, it has been revealed.  Southend Council has set aside £150,000 to investigate the proposals to shift the gallery, opposite the Cliffs Pavilion, into the library in Victoria Avenue.” … “The library would be renamed The Beecroft Centre and would include galleries, a community centre, and maybe space for shops and businesses”

Suffolk BungaySuffolk – Magnificent Seven – Suffolk Libraries (press release). “There are now seven membership organisations of Suffolk’s Libraries Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), which is the independent and charitable body set up to manage all of Suffolk’s libraries. Each of Suffolk’s 44 libraries is looking to develop its own community group who can support their local library. Community Groups will become official members of Suffolk’s Libraries IPS so they can have a voice in running their library.” A celebration of Bungay’s 20 years open is pictured above. “There are another 20 local groups in the process of being set up and joining the IPS and in time all libraries will have their own group.”

  • Suffolk – Library to get new technology – Bury Free Press. “Computers offering word processing and wireless internet access will arrive at Mildenhall library following a £5,000 grant. Funding for the project was given to the library from Mildenhall Parish Council.” … “The Friends of Mildenhall Library need to raise about £3,000 by April 2014 to compensate for a shortfall in Suffolk County Council funding.”
  • Wiltshire – Reassurances over library – Salisbury Journal. “Fears that Salisbury Library may be moved out of the city centre when the Maltings and Central Car Park redevelopment goes ahead have been dismissed by Wiltshire Council.” … ““If any relocation does take place, it would remain in the city centre, possibly moving to alongside the Playhouse and City Hall, creating a cultural quarter.” According to Salisbury Vision, the historic facade of the library will be retained within the scheme.”