A large-scale survey of library worker attitudes and budget/service changes has been produced by Unison.  It is a detailed look into what is happening in the sector.  The point picked up by the Mirror from it is the lack of free online access available in some libraries, linking this to the need for such a facility due to the Digital By Default agenda.  Cuts to services being shown in the report is more than mirrored in a report from Sunderland showing that the budget for libraries there had been cut from nearly 7.2m in 2009/10 to a proposed budget of what appears to be barely £4m this year.In other news, the rumours of the dismantling of the DCMS has apparently been firmly dismissed by the Prime Minister.



“The Damage” by Steve Davies

“The government says that it values local libraries, but this is pure fiction – the facts speak for themselves. Hundreds of libraries have been closed, and those that remain are cutting their opening hours, their staffing levels, and some of the services they provide. Volunteers cannot be relied on to replace trained skilled library staff – the library service is being run into the ground.”” Heather Wakefield, Unison

  • Jobless forced to pay for library internet access just as more services move online – Mirror. Uses research to point out that “Many libraries are providing the first half-hour of internet access free and then charging a range of fees to stay online.” … “In prime minister David Cameron’s Witney constituency and the rest of Oxfordshire, disabled people who could borrow DVDs and CDs for free now have to pay charges from £1.25 to £4.50. Many libraries are providing the first half-hour of internet access free and then charging a range of fees to stay online. And librarians say the move is poorly timed – just as the Government is putting more of its services online, such as applying for benefits and fill in job applications.”.

“We have been concerned for some time at the rise in public authorities charging library for access to the internet and we would urge authorities that are already doing so to reconsider their stance. As we clearly state in our manifesto, we believe strongly that internet access and ICT in general are available free of charge to the user. We understand that financial pressures are placed on local authorities, but we believe that the principles of free access to information should form the foundation of any public library service.” Charging for access to the internet undermines the principles of the public library service – Voices for the Library.

  • Report from the Unison meeting “Impact of the cuts on the public library service”, Unison HQ, London, 25th April 2013 – Ian Anstice.  Including a speech on public libraries by Dave Prentis (General Secretary of Unison), a summary of his research by Steve Davies, a talk by the author Dr Wanda Wyporksa on her experience and the importance of libraries and a report by the secretary of the Newcastle union branch on the cuts there. [NB. this report was typed verbatim by myself at the time and may contain inaccuracies – Ed.]
  • Review of “The Damage” by Steve Davies – Alan Gibbons. “Steve Davies has produced his second report on the UK’s libraries. The first warned that the service was in crisis. It is now in mortal danger.” … “It is vacuous to point to city centre library builds and refurbishments when the branch network around them is being slashed. The young and elderly who use the branches most are the very people least likely to have access. Steve outlines how net expenditure in the UK public library service declined from £1,066,410,000 in 2010-11 to £1,011,506,000 in 2011-12 and to an estimated £963,284,000 in 2012-13 (CIPFA, 2012a)”

“Steve’s report is a meticulous demonstration that the DCMS is allowing the public library service to continue to decline. There is no serious leadership, just a grotesque reassurance that the service is robust and that there is no crisis … the DCMS ministers have manifestly abdicated their responsibilities.” Alan Gibbons


Dan Jarvis@DanJarvisMP 1m The Prime Minister confirms to me that he has no current plans to abolish @DCMS

  • ALA Architects wins Helsinki library competition  – De Zeen.  New Finnish Library has amazing design and, most importantly, a communal sauna as part of the design.
    Are libraries living on borrowed time? – Building Design. “Britain’s public libraries grew out of an age of civic pride and self-improvement. Now, adrift in a privatised digital world, their architectural presence needs celebrating more than ever …” [need to register in order to read – Ed.]
  • Cross-European survey to measure users’ perceptions of the benefits of ICT in public libraries – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Deep survey in many different countries.
  • Design unveiled for new public library in Iraq – De Zeen. “AMBS Architects have revealed their ambitious design for the new Baghdad Library. The building brings together form, function, and cultural significance. The 45,000 sqm structure will be the central focus of a planned Youth City that has been designed to inspire Iraq’s younger generations.”
  • Digital discord – BookSeller. “Except the SoA says not. Having participated in the Sieghart Review over library e-lending, the SoA feels it has spotted a flaw. It argues that the publisher is exercising a subsidiary right in passing the files to OverDrive to exploit, effectively granting a sub-licence that brings with it a different royalty rate, one usually closer to 50%. Random House and Bloomsbury disagree, arguing that a publisher’s relationship with OverDrive is much the same as its relationship with a physical library supplier.”
  • E-books come top in school reading competition – BBC. “Between them, the children who took part read more than 400,000 books. Some 49% of these were read online from a free digital library of 46 titles from Penguin, Dorling Kindersley and Pearson. A poll of their teachers suggested the e-library was particularly popular among boys and less-proficient readers. “I think boys and poorer readers just prefer reading online. It’s about making it different and more exciting, a different way to use their Xbox or iPad.”
  • #FF: Ten People You Need to Follow on Twitter – Libfocus (Eire).  Some familiar and well-regarded names on this library (not just public library) list. [@sallyheroes, @aarontay and @myleejoseph are the ones I am most familiar with – Ed.]
  • Footpath Library – Australian group that aims to provide books to the homeless.
  • How Often Do You Visit Your Local Library? – Lifehacker (USA).  Some very interesting comments, with perhaps the most upsetting being “Never, and the fact actually upsets me. The last time I visited a library was when I was still in college. I haven’t found a particular use for one lately. I love being surrounded by books and the sort of studious feeling you get being in a library, but I simply have no current need to go to one”
  • Library for toys? – Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. “Children love borrowing books from the library. They also love playing with toys. So why don’t we have toy libraries? Julie Ozanne studies toy libraries in Europe and New Zealand and has found that toy libraries offer multiple benefits for children, their parents, and their communities.”

  • Philip Ardagh – Promoting the Summer Reading Challenge as only Philip Ardagh can.
  • Repurposing Retail | Library by Design – Library Journal (USA).  Advantages of having libraries in ex retail units include “They stretch tight budgets through repurposing existing spaces, they invigorate retail environments in a quadruple win for customers, communities, retailers, and libraries, they take advantage of the steady stream of traffic to expose many people to the library experience.”

Local news

  • Argyll and Bute – Rothesay Library to host cancer information service pilot – Buteman. “From September this year, the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service will be established at the libraries in both Rothesay and Campbeltown, with a view to rolling out the services to all the other public libraries in Argyll and Bute.”
  • Barnet – Library to house Bravanese Association – Barnet and Whetstone Press. “East Finchley Library will open its doors to users of the Somali community centre that was destroyed in an arson attack earlier this month. Barnet Council has agreed to house users and staff of the Bravanese Centre in Coppetts Road – which housed the Somali Bravanese Welfare Association – which was destroyed by fire in the early hours of June 5.”
  • Bath and Northeast Somerset – Mobile Library Reduces Service With New Timetable – Now Bath. One mobile library withdrawn. ““A reduced mobile library is at least better than no mobile library at all, which is what B&NES had originally been planning.  It was only as a result of huge public pressure that the Lib Dems backed down and agreed to keep one of the Council’s two mobile libraries on the road.“The mobile library is a really valued service, which is well used by residents throughout the area, particularly older people and young children.  To axe it entirely would have been complete folly.”
  • Birmingham – Our people’s palace is not for profit Friends of the Library of Birmingham. “Get involved in forming a Friends of the Library of Birmingham group; Join us when we meet on 4th July to found the group. £188m of our money has been invested in developing our new city Library. Yet Sir Albert and his Labour Cabinet have started a privatisation process that could allow a private profit making company to take over the running of the new Library and other Library services in the city. Any profit would be paid for by Birmingham Council tax payers.”
  • Croydon – New art gallery raises funds for library – East London Lines. “An art gallery opened on Saturday at ‘The Thicket’, to raise funds for the Norwood Library, Crystal Palace. Lightbox, a local developer, in conjunction with Bigger Picture Gallery organised the art exhibition to re-develop a former local pub, ‘The Thicket’ and raise funds for the greatly underfunded Upper Norwood Joint Library. Neville De Souza, Director of Lightbox and a resident of Gipsy Hill said: “Lightbox is donating the exhibition space free to the local artists and twenty-five percent from the artwork sold goes to the Upper Norwood Joint Library, Westow Hill, Crystal Palace”.”

“the entire community has rallied round to protect the Norwood Library. “Local musicians have already raised money for the library and now our artists. It makes me very proud to be a resident of Crystal Palace””


  • Jersey – Top author rewards prizewinning adult literacy work – Reading Agency (press release). “Reading for pleasure brings many rewards, but for students and staff at Highlands College in Jersey it brought an extra-special treat. This was thanks to national charity The Reading Agency’s annual, nationwide Six Book Challenge scheme, which encourages less confident adult readers to develop a reading habit and improve their skills. Highlands College entered and won a 2012 prize draw for colleges running the Six Book Challenge for their students. Their win entitled them to a visit from a top author, and The Reading Agency arranged for bestselling novelist Adele Parks to visit them on 17 June.”
  • Northamptonshire – Nearly a score of Northamptonshire libraries suffered during unscheduled closures this year – Northampton Herald and Post. Branches closed for over 100 unscheduled hours. “A council spokesman said: “We have experienced a higher than normal level of vacancies over the last few months. This is a short-term issue as we are in the process of filling the vacancies and expect the situation to have improved within the next month.” 123.4 hours unscheduled spread over 17 libraries.
  • Sandwell – Conservative leader hits out at plans to slash libraries’ hours – Express and Star. “Borough library opening hours have already been slashed to cope with budget cuts. Now in order to cut £300,000 from the libraries budget this year, opening could be reduced by an extra 25 hours across the 20 council-run facilities. This is despite attendance figures rising by more than 300,000 in three years. Councillor Mavis Hughes said she was ‘amazed’. “I could not believe it when I found out. We protested the last time and now it’s happening again. Libraries are very important places in Sandwell – as a community base, for education. I feel enough is enough.”” … “But Val Dale, the chair of the Friends of Wednesbury Library, said she sympathised with the council. “I think this is the better of two evils,” she said. “We would rather have this, than libraries closing altogether.”
  • Sunderland – ‘Hands off our libraries’ – fight launched to save nine Sunderland branches from closure – Sunderland Echo. “Hands Off Sunderland Libraries has launched a Facebook group and online petition against the proposed cuts, which come after the first stage of consultation on the Future Library Services Review, which received 2,785 responses. Organiser Gary Duncan said: “It’s a disgrace. The closure of nine Sunderland libraries will have a devastating effect on our communities. “Why should Sunderland people lose services and suffer job losses when there is an alternative to cuts?”.  Council says “While there will be nine fewer library buildings as we know them, there will be far more library resources available to people.”
  • Sunderland – Library spending had fallen by £2.5million even before closure plans announced – Sunderland Echo. “In 2009/10, £7,178,031 was allocated to Wearside’s 20 libraries and related services. However, this fell to £4,682,932 by 2011/12.”
  • Surrey – American bellringers and singers usher in Tattenhams Community Library reopening – Guardian series. “Bellringers and singers travelled from the USA to ring in the official re-opening of a library at the weekend. Tattenhams Community Library, in Tattenham Crescent, opened seven months ago, but had its formal re-opening on Saturday, June 15.”
  • Westminster – Poetry used as therapy in workshop coming to St John’s Wood – London Evening Standard. “Touring festivals and libraries around the country, he invites people to come to him with their difficulties and anxieties and “prescribes” them poetry in return. Today Sieghart is bringing his Poetry on Prescription concept to London by inviting people to come to him with their problems at St John’s Wood Library.He offers them a poem or a section of a poem to learn off by heart, put on their mirror and repeat to themselves whenever they feel low.” … “The event is the third in a mini-series of special library events organised by The Reading Agency and publishers Faber and Faber.”
  • Wrexham – Libraries To Experience Wildlife Transformation – Wrexham.com. “Rhos, Chirk, Gwersyllt Brynteg will all take part in the project which aims to help conserve the declining numbers of bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects by transforming the grounds into wildlife friendly zones.”

“Libraries must attract audiences, work with communities, work collaboratively and meet sustainability and environmental objectives. Working with schools, scouts, beavers, and the Youth and Justice Service, allow us to not only to raise awareness of bees and butterflies, but also libraries.”