Manchester are delaying the closure of several libraries amidst talk of an “omnishambles”, with the new proposals meaning they stay open but with some sort of reduced service.  In a similar level of apparent competence or otherwise, it is becoming clear that somehow Herefordshire’s decision makers were not aware of the statutory nature of public libraries,  The decision by Croydon to outsource its libraries is gaining some coverage, notably due to the decision by the councillor in charge to both outsource it and call in his own decision for scrutiny.  Finally, there’s a very full report on the new and rather wonderful Liverpool library.  I’m aiming to go there tomorrow and hope to take some pictures.


  • Be known: what are you famous for? – Audacious Fizz (New Zealand).  Some libraries are know for things they do especially well (be it online stuff or graphic novels) so what’s the unique selling point of your library? [NB in the UK such specialism is less common – indeed, branches tend to offer similar service if they’re of similar size in the same organisation – Ed.]

“Effectively at the moment we have an organisation name that doesn’t have the word ‘library’ in: ‘CILIP’ – which also doesn’t mean anything in itself – and a strapline that describes what type of organisation we are and tries to summarise the professional areas of work who we are for: ‘Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals’.  Along with the survey we’ve carried out two focus groups that form the research stage of the project that gives opportunities for issues relating to the brand in more detail that possible in an online survey.  I can’t prejudge the outcomes of the research but the aim is to have a new brand that appeals to the breadth of the information professions – this may include a strapline and stronger visual elements to the brand than we currently have.” Comment from CILIP regarding rebranding survey (via email).

  • Contemporary Library Architecture: A Planning and Design Guide – Designing Libraries. “In a time of backward looking concern for the future of libraries, Ken Worpole brings a welcome authoritative insight into the contemporary city-scape and the changing role of libraries. His understanding of the function of public spaces in civic life never fails to expand the horizons of the possible for those charged with creating the vision for libraries in the 21st century”

  • Literature on your doorstep – Arts Council England.  ACE funded Herefordshire initiative.
  • Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall visit Hay festival – BBC. The royals are (briefly) seen chatting to Miranda McKearney fo the Reading Agency about the new Summer Reading Challenge in the video.
  • Sefton and Manchester: libraries latest – BookSeller. “Sefton council leader Peter Dowd told the Southport Visitor: “We have made the decision that several libraries will be closed but the fact that we are still talking to the groups and that some of the libraries may remain open if they come up with a sustainable and feasible plan shows that we haven’t just drawn a line and said ‘They are going to close, thank you very much, we’re not talking about it any more’.” Meanwhile, several libraries in Manchester will remain open past their planned closure date after campaigners urged the council to change their plans.”


Local news

  • Birmingham – Council shelves plan to find firm to run new £187 million Library of Birmingham – Birmingham Mail. “Plans to find a company to run the £187 million Library of Birmingham have been shelved, it has emerged. The city council’s own library service will instead run the Centenary Square building, due to open in September. The authority’s Labour administration stopped the tender process, saying it wanted to focus on finishing and opening library rather than worry about appointing a management firm. But it also emerged that bosses were concerned about the risking of paying out more cash if they agreed an early contract and then ran into unforeseen problems with the building.” … Campaigners say “The council has only suspended this proposed privatisation. “It said it would review its decision in March, 2014. They can expect an angry and vigorous public campaign to stop this privatisation from taking place.””
  • Brent – Labour implode in Brent – ConservativeHome. Labour-run Brent Council “decided the best way to save money was to close half their libraries – thus spurning the offer of volunteers to keep them going. This seems to have caused a backlash by Labour members in the borough.” … “The new regime now say they want to “work with” the library campaigners “moving forwards” but the buildings have already been sold off. The new leadership are culpable as they voted through the closures. If they had wanted to stop them the time for a coup d’etat was two or three years ago.”
  • Brent – Award winning architects to advise and support the Save Kensal Rise Library Campaign – Save Kensal Rise Library (press release). Architects say “Libraries are close to our heart, as we have designed community libraries in Enfield and Hackney, and university libraries at the UEA and Liverpool. We know what a difference they make to people’s lives. Digital technology has enhanced the case for libraries, rather than making them obsolete, as people had thought might happen, and they also play an increasingly important role in providing a neutral space where an entire community can feel comfortable. At the moment we are doing a lot of work with primary schools in London – it’s important that these children will still be able to attend a local library for help and support. For these reasons we were impressed by the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign and delighted to be invited to advise.”
  • Croydon –New library opens in New Addington – Croydon Guardian. “The New Addington Centre is the new base for the library which used to be situated across the road.There will be a new stock of books as well as DVDs and talking books. Following a public consultation more historical, crime and adventure novels were purchased.Popular non-fiction subject areas such as crafts and travel have also been expanded.A new dedicated children’s library corner is twice the size of the area in the old building, and there is also more dedicated homework space.”
  • Croydon – New library contract comes a step closer – Croydon Council. “two revised bids were subsequently received and carefully assessed. As a result, the council will secure the most economically advantageous terms while, at the same time, protecting the quality of services currently on offer.”.  See also £30m library deal referred for scrutiny – by report’s author by Inside Croydon. “This is despite JLIS being shown to be the most expensive and least capable of three original bidders, and even after the company had effectively demanded that our council should make the pension arrangements for its erstwhile staff less onerous for their new employers, the contractors.” See also Croydon library contract proceeds after setback – East London Lines and Croydon – Cllr Pollard doubts his own decision on #Croydon libraries – Save Croydon Libraries.  Decision to outsource libraries to John Laing passed to scrutiny by the councillor who made the decision: “Councillor Tim Pollard, the cabinet member responsible for the service, will be ensuring that there is an examination by the cross-party scrutiny committee of how the council reached this decision. This will enable those with an interest in the project to fully understand how the evaluation team reached its conclusions.”
  • Ealing – Ealing Gazette readers say no to Library Privatisation – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “According to a quick poll (see below) in the Ealing Gazette the overwhelming majority of people who read the paper have said no to Library Privatisation, so why are the Council pushing ahead with it?” 75.2 vote against.
  • Essex – New Springfield library will be a ‘real resource’ – This is Total Essex. “It is the first new library to open in Essex for 25 years and will be staffed day-to-day by a team of ten volunteers, with 20 more eager helpers on the waiting list.”
  • Herefordshire – Results of Council Emergency Budget Meeting; read Liz Harvey’s account – It’s Our County. “close to 200 people packed the public gallery of the Shire Hall for the long and often bad-tempered debate. Three petitions were presented at the beginning of the meeting – two via 38degrees totally well over 7,000 signatures expressing concern at the cultural services cuts; and one from the unions representing staff urging no job losses.”

“In the days building up to the meeting it became apparent that the administration had no clue as to the nature and extent of its statutory responsibilities for service provision – i.e. those services which the council is legally obliged to provide for its residents. This was evidenced by Cllr Phillips’ responding to much public pressure concerning the proposed cuts to cultural services – especially libraries, by hurriedly issuing a number of statements confirming that it would not be possible to close libraries in the market towns and the council still to maintain the statutory provision.”

“This is an alchemical library. Past, present and future are here, transformed into a beautiful and energetic space that celebrates the life of the mind and the community spirit of books.” Jeanette Winterson, author”

  • Manchester – Libraries reprieved amid ‘shambles’ claims – Manchester Evening News. “Manchester’s six under-threat libraries have been formally handed their stay of execution – amid claims of a town hall ‘omnishambles’. Council bosses passed an amended plan at their latest executive meeting after protests from campaigners and a recommendation from other councillors.” … “The libraries will now remain open until firm plans for their scaled-back replacements, branded ‘community outreach’ libraries, are drawn up. They will also now feature professional librarians but as originally planned – despite widespread protests – they will not operate the same service as at present.”
  • Renfrewshire – Books no longer have stamp of approval – Paisley Daily Express. Ink datestamps removed: staff now print off details of when books are due back. ““We trialled this system at Lochwinnoch Library and it proved very popular, especially with parents who want to keep track of library books their children have borrowed, which often sit stacked in with the ones they own.“The switchover is another sign of how the libraries service is modernising to match customer expectations.”To help with the change, borrowers are being issued with free plastic wallets to hold membership cards and receipts.”
  • Sefton – Council confirm library closures – Southport Visiter. “Sefton council leader Peter Dowd, said: “We have made the decision that several libraries will be closed but the fact that we are still talking to the groups and that some of the libraries may remain open if they come up with a sustain- able and feasible plan shows that we haven’t just drawn a line and said ‘they are going to close, thank you very much, we’re not talking about it anymore’.””
  • Sheffield – Big Library Debate: what future for Sheffield Libraries – False Economy. “Your library is closing. What if this were true? Would you fight to save it? Do you know that 14 Sheffield libraries face closure?  Share your voice at the debate that must be had.  Let the powerful people of Sheffield know what future you think your library should have.  Featuring award winning children’s author and library campaigner Alan Gibbons, and the people of Sheffield.  29 May, Library Theatre, Tudor Square, 6pm – 7.30pm.”
  • Sussex – Crawley Library asks visitors to compile bucket list – This is Sussex. “A chalkboard was set up at Crawley Library on Friday as part of Dying Matters Awareness Week and visitors were encouraged to write on it what they want to do before they die.”