Newcastle finally agreed on ten libraries being under threat, with the possibility of five of those being taken over by volunteers.  This is roughly the same number decided on by Liverpool.

A whole borough which is no stranger to threats is Brent, whose closed libraries have epitomised what is happening to libraries for many commentators. The figures from there show a 1% increase in issues and a 1.2% decrease in visits so far this year compared to the same period the year before.  The figures, sent to me by the Brent councillor in charge for libraries will be used as a vindication for the policy of retaining spending but on a smaller number of libraries. Those who have fought, and are still fighting, for their local libraries three years on, may hold different views.

NB. An earlier edition of this post inadvertently connected to an old article about Swindon.


  • Libraries offer weird things to draw new borrowers – USA Today (USA). “Fighting to stay relevant in the digital age, public libraries have taken to lending all manner of weird and wonderful items: hand tools, baking pans, fishing poles, telescopes and knitting needles, among others. Don’t like the memoir offerings at your local branch? Bring a USB thumb drive, plug it in at one of several massive Espresso Book Machines and print a hard-cover copy of your own memoir — or any other obscure title the library doesn’t keep on hand.”
  • Non compliance: 914 government-aided libraries to shut down – Indian Express (India). “the Maharashtra government planning to shut down 914 government-aided libraries for flouting rules.” … “The survey found 5,784 libraries meeting most requirements and 5,877 libraries were found violating rules but they had been given three months to rectify matters. As many as 914 of them, however, did not comply.”
  • Public libraries: The new homeless shelters – Salon (USA). “Not everyone who spends all day, every day in the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library is down and out. Only mostly everyone.” … “Since the San Francisco Public Library outreach program began, about four years ago, it has been inundated with requests for guidance from libraries all over the country grappling with their new role as de facto day shelters.” … “striking a balance between making the destitute feel welcome and the general library public feel comfortable is proving tricky.” [See section under Homeless in this page to see other articles on this issue].


Local news

  • Brent – Council decision irrelevant for sale of library asset – Harrow Observer. “The building was listed as a community asset by Brent Council on December 12 last year, which would legally restrict the sale of the building. All Souls College, Oxford, the legal owners of the building, made a deal with a developer on November 26, just over two weeks before the community listing came into effect, however, a Brent Council spokesman said the community listing was irrelevant.”.  College spokesman tells campaigners to “wake up and smell the coffee” but desire still present for a full replacement library rather than a reduced one in ex-library building shared with acccommodation.

“Dear Ian. I now have the year to date figures you asked for.  They go from 1 April to end of Feb, and cover this municipal year and the previous one.  They are the total number of issues and visits for Brent Libraries in that period.

2012/2013 Issues. 928,369. Visits. 1,381,346
2011/2012 Issues. 918,989, Visits. 1,398,226

Thus, a 1% increase in issues, and a 1.2% decrease in visits over the same period.  Of course, these percentages will change a bit once we get the March figures and full year results.

Brent – Cllr James Powney, Labour councillor for Kensal Green (via email)

  • Carmarthenshire – Heritage station set for library – This is South Wales. Llanelli: “The People’s Collection Wales station will provide facilities for anyone wishing to digitise material for uploading to the website. Staff will be available to help members of the public to open an account on the website, which is dedicated to the story of Wales and its people. Library manager Mark Jewell said he was keen to establish the DHS at the library, where staff and volunteers will assist the public during manned sessions.”
  • Liverpool – Council tax up by 1.8% as libraries face the axe – Liverpool Daily Post. “Liverpool has 19 libraries at present but the council thinks it can save around £938,000 (from April 2014) by closing around 10.”
  • Newcastle – Approves culture cuts to save £100m – BookSeller. “The proposals were rolled back from a 100% cut in arts funding to a 50% cut, with a new £600,000 Newcastle Culture Fund being established for the City.  However, the proposals mean the council will still close a string of libraries, along with cutting funding for youth and children’s services, the number of children entering care and axing 1,300 jobs” … “In total 10 libraries will close by 2016, although five could be saved if community groups step forward to take them over. The first seven to shut will be Cruddas Park, Denton Burn, Dinnington, Fenham, High Heaton, Jesmond and Moorside. In 2015 Blakelaw, Fawdon and Newbiggin Hall will close.”
  • Sefton – Action group to form to protect threatened Crosby Carnegie library from closure – Crosby Herald. “Last Thursday plans to close seven libraries in the borough, including one in Crosby and Litherland library, were controversially passed. But supporters of the historic building are eager to take advantage of a last- minute reprieve and come up with a “feasible and sustainable” rescue plan.”
  • Westminster – Images released of proposed new Marylebone Library – London 24. “Westminster Council’s aims to submit its plans for a purpose built facility next month. The current Marylebone Library, in Marylebone Road, is based temporarily in an annexe in Council House. But this will be leased to the London Business School from August. The proposed new library is due to open in 2015, with more books, new computers, a dedicated children’s library, and will feature meeting rooms, community events and business advisors.”
  • Wigan – War of words over Atherton Library – Bolton News. “Atherton and Atherleigh ward Labour councillors claim they secured a deal with Wigan Council to keep Atherton Library in its existing building. But Atherton Library Support Group, chaired by Atherton Independent Clr Jamie Hodgkinson, says it has been instrumental in a bid which would secure the library at York Street for at least five years.”