The quote above is from a letter protesting about a library closure in my home town of Newport in South Wales.  It sums up to me what is happening in threatened libraries for the last few years, in that there are a whole pile of possibilities to look at before closing a building.  One of these options, of course – running it with volunteers – is at once the most controversial and the most common.  Others include less books, less staff, less opening hours, less everything in fact, except charges and self-service machines.  Another is co-location with others services.  Another is passing the running of libraries to another organisation such as a Trust or (whisper it quietly) a private company.  I must make a flowchart some day …


  • 10 of the Coolest Librarians Alive – Flavorwire.  All North American.
  • Boyd Tonkin – Independent. Criticises DCMS decision to move control of PLR unit from the North to London “The office stays up north but, to save £750,000 over 10 years, control shifts to WC1. So much for decentralisation.” … also points out the confusion e-books cause with official statistics.
  • Episode 93 – This Week in Libraries. “We know that the fight against cancer is a totally different issue than the fight to save libraries, but imagine that we could empower our own ambassadors, friends of the libraries or volunteers in the right way what this could mean.”
  • How do you value a library? – Fabian Society / Dan Jarvis MP. “it is important to remind ourselves that any compelling vision for the society we want to see cannot just be defined in narrow economic terms.”

“… while there are many interested bodies there is no executive for the UK’s public library service, managing strategy, policy and investment nationally. No mayor, tsar or chief executive. No board or trustees. From where I sit, in a commercial business with cultural aims, this makes creating a bold, empowered future for libraries close to impossible. It also means that any vision has to be affordable to local authorities that already face extremely difficult budget decisions.”  Stephen Page, Lend an Ear on the True Challenge Facing Libraries – Thought Fox. Panel member of e-lending review identifies key problem to public libraries as being the division of running libraries into 151 different authorities. Calls e-lending “a sideshow”.


Local News

  • Barnet – Where the bodies are buried: Robert Rams and Church End library – Barnet Bugle.  Doubts cast over proposed new replacement library for Church End as another promised library – at the ArtsDepot – failed to materialise.  Also, no apparent plans have been made for redeveloped building.
  • Barnet – Concerns over Finchley library sell-off – Barnet Today.  “Council has been accused of “short-term thinking” after revealing that it plans to sell off the Church End Library building and move the service into a Finchley housing development. The council is set to dispose of the building, in Hendon Lane, Finchley, after operations are moved into a rented, purpose-built library on the bottom two floors of Gateway House, in Regents Park Road.”
  • Camden – Town Hall faces criticism over books ‘giveaway’ from axed library – Camden New Journal. “Regent’s Park branch library closes it doors this week after nearly 50 years, prompting users to accuse the Town Hall of cutting a vital service in an area that relies heavily on the branch for books, computer services and as a place to meet.” … “The branch will be run by the Citizens Advice Bureau and used for computers, with no books available.”
  • Croydon – Ingenious system or plainly potty? – Save Croydon Libraries.  Toilets are no longer freely accessible but need a code keyed into a security lock, due to anti-social behaviour.
  • Essex – Shock proposals emerge to move Hadleigh Library for £60million town centre revamp – Echo. “The new proposals would see the library relocated and rebuilt in the shopping parade along High Street with flats built on top of it. Previously the masterplan proposed rebuilding the library alongside Hadleigh Old Fire Station, but that is far from certain.”
  • Highland – Good news for library web-users – John O’Groats Journal. “High Life Highland, which runs all of Highland Council’s libraries, have carried out a £200,000 programme to replace all their computers and upgrade their systems.”
  • Hull – Anlaby Park library given two month reprieve – BBC. “The authority said it decided to leave the library open until the end of May after listening to residents’ concerns. Campaigners, who protested against the closure and held a demonstration outside the council’s Guildhall, have been invited to run the library.”
  • Kirklees – Results of library review in Golcar, Marsden and Slaithwaite being considered – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “The Sunday opening is just one of several ideas people are coming up with to attract more people into rural libraries … the key areas they were looking at are: opening hours, income generation, access and Friends groups.”.  Volunteer groups being set up for three threatened libraries.
  • Newport – Hands off our city libraries – South Wales Argus / Letters. “Before this ill-advised short-term attempt at a solution to a long-term problem is implemented, have all other less harmful possibilities been explored?” [This should be a required question for all considering closures – Ed.]
  • Northeast Lincolnshire – Library service for schools in North East Lincolnshire is to close down – This is Grimsby.
  • Rotherham – Villages lose mobile library runs in Rotherham cut-backs – Rotherham Advertiser. Mobile library cuts “The main vehicle’s 69 fortnightly stops across 28 villages will be reduced to 17 stops in half as many places.”  Housebound libary service to be merged with mobile library.
  • Sheffield – Time to charge for borrowing books? – Star / Letters.  Writer suggests that books should be charged for, as are DVDs and computers, and some co-operation with academic libraries would also help to cut costs.
  • Sheffield – Library closure petition debate – Star. “councillors are to debate a 10,000 signature petition calling for a rethink on library closure plans. Up to 14 of 27 community libraries in Sheffield could be closed unless community groups or other organisations can be found to run them, as part of £50 million of budget cuts in 2013/14.”
  • Sheffield – 10,000-name petition triggers Debate on city libraries – Sheffield Telegraph. “Any petition with more than 5,000 name triggers a debate in full council, and the next is on Wednesday. Local Lib Dem leader Shaffaq Mohammed said: “The response from communities across Sheffield has been overwhelming. Local people know difficult decisions need to be taken but that does not excuse Labour’s plan to take an axe to our local libraries.”
  • Sheffield – Why our libraries are so important – Star.  “Our library is the heart of our community, we simply have nothing else. There are a lot of people living in Totley who are unemployed or are coping with bringing up young families in these difficult economic times. We also have a large elderly population. Many of them use our library with its computer facilities”

“It is a joy to see so many mums and dads bringing their children to the library and it is such an important part of a child’s life to be introduced to the world of books. I found some of Mr Drury’s comments to be sweeping and dismissive and without the knowledge of how very important our libraries are to us. Our library is the jewel in our crown.”

  • Wolverhampton – Up to 49 jobs at risk in Wolverhampton libraries shake-up – Express & Star. “Out of the 139 current full and part-time jobs across Wolverhampton’s libraries, 49 will vanish, although 23 new jobs will be created, meaning 26 will definitely go.”.  Hopefully, no compulsory redundancies. “Tasks currently carried out at individual libraries – such as buying in books – will be done by a new separate unit. More self-service machines will also be introduced and council service City Direct will now take library phone calls.”