The papers report in detail on the cuts in Southend and there’s a battle in Cambridgeshire between the union and the council on the effect of cuts to libraries. Further up north, Nick Clegg blames the Labour party for cuts to his local Sheffield libraries while local Labour officials imply he may be partially to blame himself. Moving to a different continent, a radical new library for Ghana is proposed via KickStarter and research shows the wonderful impact libraries have in such areas.

In relation to Ed Vaizey’s speech last week saying there was no crisis in England’s libraries, I have received the following:

Schrödinger’s cat

The principle of quantum theory called “superposition” basically claims that if you don’t know what the state of any object is – as long as you don’t look to check – it is actually in all possible states simultaneously.  It’s only when you take a measurement, ie look in the box, that the superposition ceases to be and the cat is either alive or dead. The paradox is that observation (=measurement) affects the outcome, so the outcome doesn’t exist until the measurement is made.

In today’s Library Service the DCMS, SCL and LGA are complicit in allowing councils to undertake risky experiments to save money.  Library users and campaigners demand that DCMS “look in the box”.  Ed Vaizey responds that the death of the cat is impossible. He knows it is in “rude health”.  He thinks he is smarter than Schrödinger.”

Shirley Burnham (via email)


  • A sad ending for our local library? – Best Laid Plans. “what message are we sending to our kids if we close them down?  Are we telling them not to be curious, that reading and learning doesn’t matter?  Are we happy to remove all of that knowledge and opportunity, to deprive them of it? “
  • Future of Local Libraries and Cultural ServicesPublic Policy Exchange.  A day for decision-makers etc to learn about and discuss the future of public libraries. “an invaluable opportunity for local authorities, government departments, the library sector, shared services teams and other key partners to examine the Government’s latest policy initiatives and explore how libraries can remain a vital local resource in the 21st Century – innovating and adapting to deliver a whole range of services.”.  Tickets from £140 to £395.
  • I Love Libraries on Facebook – American Libraries.  46,500 likes is not bad, not bad at all – and it’s not entirely for the US either. “Here you’ll find links to stories; pictures and quotes about libraries; and very likely you’ll meet friends and colleagues, as well as make new ones.”
  • Librarians and personality – Ginformation Systems. “Librarianship is sometimes thought of as the natural domain of a certain personality, in particular the introverted type. We disagree with this, and in this session we will challenge this perception and discuss how a range of personalities are suited to library work.”

Do you think access to information is important for development, and that libraries have a role to play? Whatever your view, join our live chat this Thursday, 14 March from 1 to 3pm GMT.” Guardian

Local News

  • Cambridgeshire – Anti-social behaviour on the rise amid Cambridgeshire library cuts, union claims – Cambridge News. “Anti-social behaviour is on the increase in libraries because of staffing cuts, a union has claimed. Unison said female library staff were increasingly working alone as a result of  Cambridgeshire County Council’s budget reductions.”  Council does not accept this, saying ““We have kept libraries open despite having to find around £125 million in savings over three years, including £10 million less money from Government this year.””

“Unison cited Arbury Court Library, which now opens five-and-a-half hours less a week, as an example of a service which had been badly affected. The library, which serves 20,000 people, now opens for two full days and two half-days a week and four hours on a Saturday. Visitor numbers have fallen from 42,000 to 30,000 and its funding has been halved from £52,000 to £22,000 this financial year.”

  • Hull – The remarkable history of city’s public libraries – This is Hull and East Riding.  Nostalgia and history about  libraries in Hull including protests in the 19th Century at setting up libraries to let the poor in.
  • Sheffield – 6,500 sign petition in bid to halt library closures – Sheffield Telegraph.  “A petition urging the authority to withdraw its proposals – backed by the Liberal Democrats – has been signed by more than 6,500 people. The Labour council is aiming to save £370,000 this year – and says it has to take such action in response to £50m Government spending cuts. It hopes that some libraries can be saved by the voluntary sector or businesses stepping in. Consultation runs until April 8 . Lib Dems say money could be saved in other ways, pointing to £2.2m they say is being spent on refurbishing town hall offices, £4.7m on consultants and £500,000 a year on full time trade union officials – figures challenged by council chief executive John Mothersole.”

““I find it particularly unbelievable that Nick Clegg has been involved in some of the worst of this scaremongering when the reason that the council is in this financial position is due to his choices to impose such heavy cuts to Sheffield at the same time as some of the wealthiest areas in the country receive almost no cuts at all.” Labour cabinet member Coun Mazher Iqbal

  • Southend – Plans To Change Library Services – Heart. “The council say ‘the plans aim to meet the changing needs of library users, to involve the community more directly in operating local branch libraries, and help meet a £378,000 budget cut over the next three years.'”
  • Southend – Five libraries to go in Southend – BookSeller. “According to local news reports, Westcliff, Southchurch, Thorpedene, Friars and either Leigh or Kent Elms libraries are under threat of closure, although volunteer groups will be given the option of running them instead. Under those plans, the council would still provide the building, the books, computer access and management support. The review has also proposed the Central Library in Victoria Avenue should close in favour of a new, virtual 24-hour Southend Forum Library costing £12.5m, which would open in September.”
  • Southend – Five libraries face closure under plans announced today – Echo.

“The carnage reaches Southend” Alan Gibbons.