BBC Television News covered volunteer libraries today.  This is a transcript of the two minute segment:

Jenny Hill, reporter: In this library, they don’t like silence but they do love their books. Bulkington Library is run by the community.  Among the fifty-two volunteers here, we met Mary.

Mary Beaumont, volunteer, Bulkington Community Library: Reading is really important to me.  I’ve always liked books.  I always think that books take you out of yourself.  If you’re having a bit of a bad day, feeling a bit down.

Jenny Hill, reporter: In the story of the British public library, this is a pretty turbulent time. Last year alone, spending cuts forced the closure of some 200.  There are at the same time, though, some 170 so-called community run libraries just like this one and they’re staffed by 23,000 volunteers.  Some would say it is quite a survival story.

Bulkington, they say, is more than just a library. They host history groups, poetry groups, social groups but they also have to find £7,000 a year just to keep it going.

Darrell Buckley, Chairman, Bulkington Community Library: It is wrong.  This should be run by the Council. But, if you have no alternative then you have to make a different arrangement and this is what we have managed to do in Bulkington.

John Dolan, CILIP (a member of the CILIP council and a former library policy advisor at the MLA): What I think is terrible is the way that in some authorities, the library has been dismissed as unimportant. Libraries are being down-sized, they’re being closed, they’re being as here run by volunteers.  This is fine in principle if they have the backing of a library service with skilled and trained librarians.

Jenny Hill, reporter: It’s feared that hundreds of public libraries still face closure and it is predicted that they will be replaced by hundreds of volunteer-run services. In the meantime, the monster masterclass continues.  There are more than 13,000 books here but somehow the top title usually involves a dinosaur.

Volunteers fight to save libraries, BBC.  Transcript of 2 minute news segment.


  • Books gathering dust at libraries – Times of India. “The decreasing habit of reading is giving tough time to libraries, where book are gathering dust in the absence of readers. Even facilities like internet and very low registration charges have failed to attract readers in these reading rooms which have a wide and rare collection of books”.  Lack of funding and staffing blamed with cobwebs apparently a common feature and “lacksadaisical” approach from local government.
  • Literacy: State of the Nation – National Literacy Trust.  Some useful statistics including “One in six people in the UK struggle with literacy. This means their literacy is below the level expected of an eleven year old” and “Men and women with poor literacy are least likely to be in full-time employment at the age of thirty”
  • Most Playful Libraries in the World – Flavorwire.  There are some superb libraries pictured here, many not public but what the heck.
  • Ontario Public libraries offer more than just books: they offer community – Ontario Library Association (Canada). A fairly amazing look at what Ontario libraries lend out including seeds, fishing tackle, GPS systems for geocaching, pedometers, ice skates, jigsaws and umbrellas.


Local news

“Clr Stuart Parker, CWAC’s executive member for culture and recreation, said: “We can’t promise cake to all our library customers but Sandiway is typical of the way our libraries play an important role in encouraging people of all ages to discover, or re-discover, the pleasure of reading”

“The topic of libraries did make it onto Labour’s manifesto. In it, the party said it would “develop libraries and other outlets as one-stop shops for information and advice” if elected on May 2. The Tories, meanwhile, say they will install broadband in each library and build new ones in Belper and Glossop. The party also says it will try to secure funding to bring new libraries to Matlock and Hilton.”

  • East Dunbartonshire – Reporter to be based in library as JP office closes – Hold the front page.  Report temporarily based in library for three days per week.
  • Hammersmith and Fulham – Hammersmith Library Set for Two Million Pound Revamp Hammersmith Today. £2m plan to move Record Office into library. “more books, new furniture and shelving, self-issue terminals and music listening posts.”
  • Luton – Public meetings on Luton libraries – Luton Council. “The proposals being consulted on involve closing or moving some libraries, housing new libraries in existing community centres and possibly introducing Library Information Points across the town where people can order, pick up and return books.”
  • Somerset – Temporary library to be set up in Yeovil – This is Somerset. “Yeovil library on King George Street will be shut from May 6 for nearly three months while self-service machines are installed … in addition to the self-service machine a number of other improvements will be made including new carpets, a new enquiries desk, new shelving and a remodelled library entrance. The library also plans to install energy efficient lighting and replace the signage on the outside of the building.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Teenagers encouraged to visit their local gym and library with launch of new Active card – Gazette series. “trying to increase the number of teens who regularly visit the authority’s gyms and libraries by introducing a new active card loyalty scheme specifically for their age group. The card will give free membership and access to libraries and leisure centres plus opportunities to receive up to date information on what’s happening in the local area.”
  • Southend on Sea – Tree planting to mark new Southend library project – Echo. “The building is the first tri-partnership project of its kind in the UK. Officials from the three partners behind the innovative project will plant the saplings in Elmer Square. Southend Council, the University of Essex and South Essex College have all provided funding for the new library. The council is providing £12.5m towards the cost of the project, with the University contributing £10.4m and the College £4.4m.”