World Book Day is here and I’ll be reading stories in schools on the day.  Today (Wednesday) I did a school assembly and four class visits. On Saturday, my library will be the only place in town where children can exchange their £1 book vouchers.  The Day is a brilliant boost for the most important skill that a person can have – reading.  Such activity in libraries goes on everywhere and there will be multitudes visiting or hearing about libraries and the joy of reading on the day nationally and in one hundred more countries worldwide. That’s the plus side, now read Lucy Mangan’s article for the down side. 

More downside, too, in council decisions up and down the country.  There have been more cuts in Newport (including two libraries becoming unstaffed and the closure of its Bibliographic Services Unit) and the loss of a mobile in Nottingham.  All is not dark, though, as at the same time, a refurbished library has reopened in Nottinghamshire.  Another council starting with N – Newcastle – is deciding its budget as I write, Twitter reports on the session say it has been extended and is descending into personal insults, with at least one councillor in tears and commentators comparing the scenes to a “primary school playground”.  Unlike children, though, these councillors are deciding on closing libraries.  Liverpool have also agreed to today in Council to consult on closing ten libraries.  Library closures are becoming, these days, rather common, World Book Day or no.


“World Book Day takes on a degree of both poignancy and urgency this year. Because this time it comes in the wake of over 200 library closures (plus another, uncountable figure who will eventually be holed beneath the waterline by cuts in their budgets, staffing, opening hours) and just before a further round of cuts that will jeopardise the remainder (along with the NHS, legal aid, housing, disability benefits and anything else you might feasibly consider it a civilised society’s duty to maintain) … Celebrate it, and rage, rage against a government that works towards the killing of that light” Lucy Mangan on World Book Day – Stylist.

  • Ottawa wants readers to buy books through library website – Your Ottawa Region (Canada). “Ottawa Public Library wants to become the second library in Canada to let people buy – not just borrow – e-books. On Feb. 11, the library board endorsed a plan to partner with an e-book publisher to put a purchase button for e-books on the library’s website catalogue.”
  • Wikipedia and libraries: a match made in heaven – Boing Boing (USA). “”From Wikipedia to our libraries” is a fabulous proposal for creating research synergies between libraries and Wikipedia, by adding templates to Wikipedia articles that direct readers to unique, offline-only (or onsite-only) library resources at their favorite local libraries. Ockerbloom’s approach acknowledges and respects the fact that patrons start their searches online, and seeks only to improve the outcomes of their research — not to convince them not to start with the Internet.”


Local News

  • Croydon – Libraries left in limbo after John Laing takeover ‘shambles’ – Guardian series. “The contractor was picked to run the libraries in November ahead of two rival bidders and was supposed to take the reins from April 1. But all shortlisted bidders can now resubmit their offers after John Laing and the council failed to agree on the level of pensions contributions the company could be liable to pay.” … “John Laing and Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) are understood to be readying new bids and are allowed to change any part of their original offers. The third shortlisted bidder, an in-house team of Wandsworth library employees, no longer exists after Wandsworth outsourced its services to GLL last year.”
  • Harrow – Cllr Susan Hall calls for more to be done about library computers as Gayton Library losses 17 in one year – Times series. “The lack of working computers in libraries “affects the poorest members of society” a senior councillor has claimed after it emerged one library has lost 17 of its 18 machines in the past year.” …. “Last year Gayton Library had 18 working computers but this year there are only three machines for public use and only one is working. According to staff the computers were removed because they were very old and were still running Windows 2000.”.  Council promises new computers.
  • Lincolnshire – Volunteers offer extended hours – This is Lincolnshire. “”We have 27 volunteers who are all eager to keep the library open for longer hours with the scope of opening for another afternoon if all goes well.”
  • Newcastle – City Council Budget D-Day On £100M Cuts Live Blog – Sky. “The cabinet has already approved a wide-ranging package of cuts which will see the closure of community centres, libraries and the City Pool, as well as a 100 percent reduction in the council’s arts budget. Around 1,300 council jobs are expected to be lost as the authority goes through a radical restructure.”.  Changes expected to save “some libraries”.
  • Newport – Two Newport libraries may be unstaffed – South Wales Argus. “Opening hours could be cut at six branch libraries, while some would see them extended, and the bibliographical service department could also be cut.”
  • Nottingham – City’s mobile library service is almost at the end of the road – This is Nottingham.”The ruling Labour group said Government cuts in funding meant the budget was difficult, but David Boulton, of the Wilford Community Group, said the loss of the library would be a blow. He said: “Part of the justification for closing the village’s old library would be that the mobile library would serve the village just as well, so having that cut is a shame.”
  • Nottinghamshire – A new chapter opens in life of West Bridgford library – This is Nottingham. “Library is opening its doors again on Saturday, March 16, with a new, modern look. The building has been rebuilt over that last 15 months on the site of the old town library, with the historic front of the building in Central Avenue preserved.”  20,000 new books, 32 computers, room hire.
  • Sunderland – Council Set £37m Spending Cuts To Jobs, Libraries And School Buses – Sky.  “job losses likely and library closures possible” … “the Council agreed to take control of the city’s museums instead of paying Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums to run them”

“Unfortunately it is likely there will be job losses, and we will try to keep museums and libraries open – closing them will be a last resort.”