Another day, another experimental model of library governance.  York have agreed to turn over its library and archives service to a mutual two-thirds owned by staff and one-third by the public.  It’s unclear as to what this effectively means in practice (will the shareholders be paid dividends?), although there does appear to be some risk involved.  It hopes to cut costs by £450k over three years by doing this, with the contract lasting for five years and with eligibility for tax breaks.  Unions are not enthusiastic about the change but the Council says it’s either this or direct cuts to the service. A council that has gone for the cuts route is Lincolnshire, where it has been announced that slightly over half of its 32 threatened librarieshave had at least some interest from the community to take them over rather than see them closed.  The council are clear that the libraries will close unless local people work in them unpaid.

Thousands of miles away, the mayor of Miami- Dade in Florida is wanting to close a large proportion of his libraries as he thinks they’re out of date – however, a TV report shows bustling libraries, depended on by the young and unemployed so much that the system gets over six million visits a year.  Perhaps the mayor should have done research before making such a rash claim.  As the teenagers in the report suggest, perhaps also one of the Miami libraries would have been a good place to start.




  • Carlos Gimenez, Miami-Dade Mayor: ‘The Age Of The Library Is Probably Ending’ – Huffington Post (USA). Mayor of Miami-Dade in Florida wants to close a large part of the network, arguing that library usage is declining. Video shows that libraries are being very well used, especially by the young and by those who want internet access (notably the unemployed).  Libraries Director argues that the system gets six to seven million visits per year.
  • Pride and publicity prejudice – Agnostic, Maybe (USA). “what does it matter how much money is spent on a collection, resources, services, and materials if people don’t know it even exists?” … a look at the importance of publicity and how bad libraries are at it.
  • Shared Services – Unison Scotland.  A look at the downsides of sharing services in order to cut costs, including a look at the problems caused in Australia. Unison “believes that all public sector organisations should make the most of opportunities to work more efficiently and effectively. Any strategy would benefit greatly from full consultation and negotiation with staff who have an excellent understanding of what changes are needed. While shared services may offer some opportunities they must be approached with more scepticism. The amount of time needed for savings to be realised alone means that they are not the route to achieving the 2% savings target set by the government.”

“The disconnect here is between a government that chooses to view public libraries as the safety net for those who aren’t online and local authorities who view that same service as an optional extra. The government chooses to believe that online access to services is being brokered by the local authorities. The LAs often see that as something their constituents should provide for themselves. Those who aren’t online are becoming invisible in an increasingly “digital by default” society”  Mick Fortune on lis-pub-libs in response to Older people ‘penalised’ by cheaper online council bills, warns peer – Public Service

  • Why Libraries Are More Important Than Your Hard Drive – WRLM (USA).  “What happens when you delete or block a web page? It gets deleted. Or blocked. What happens when you censor or ban a book? It becomes contraband, but the copies are still out there. Stark differences.”

Local news

  • Buckinghamshire – Sir Terry Pratchett returns to Beaconsfield Library – Bucks Free Press. Discworld author arranges own visit to childhood library where, her says, he had his education (all he learnt in school was, apparently, to “kick and spit”) and then donates all the proceeds to the library.
  • Bury – Libraries to become more self-service – This is Lancashire. “The original plans involved moving Radcliffe Library into Radcliffe Civic Hall, Unsworth Library into Sunnybank Community Centre and transferring disability day services into Prestwich Library. Instead, the libraries will remain open and the ruling Labour authority have said the equivalent of 20.25 staff will be lost to reduce £570,000 from its annual budget of £3.2 million”
Packed house at Swiss Cotttage

Packed house at Swiss Cotttage

Camden – Zadie Smith visits Swiss Cottage – Reading Agency (press release). “As part of its work with publishers and  public library services to help create original and exciting library events for readers involving authors, The Reading Agency helped broker a special evening event along with the London Borough of Camden and Penguin Books: Zadie Smith was in conversation with Richard Godwin of the Evening Standard at Swiss Cottage Library in the London Borough of Camden, northwest London. She took questions from the audience, followed by a book signing.”

“Councillor Tulip Siddiq said: “Libraries provide a wealth of opportunities for reading and learning, and help make great literature accessible. It’s great to welcome Zadie Smith who went to school in Camden and although she’s now a fantastically successful author, hasn’t forgotten her north west London roots, as her latest book shows.”

  • Glasgow – Knightswood library closure – Clydebank Post. “A Glasgow Life spokesman said: “Glasgow libraries play an important role in every community and this investment will ensure Knightswood Library will continue to serve local people whether they want to borrow books, use the internet or join in the classes and sessions.”
Library as shop - New library in old Argos store in Harpenden, Hertfordshire

Library as shop – New library in old Argos store in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.


“Eighteen of the libraries have had interest and I am staggered by that response. What I would say is if people expect their libraries to close then that is most likely what will happen”

  • Northamptonshire – Library hosts careers fair for young people looking for work – Northampton Chronicle. ““The Job Club Xtra is an exciting event, with employers and apprenticeship providers with opportunities for young people all in one place. There is also an opportunity to talk to career advisers and have help with writing a CV through workshops. I would really encourage young people, parents or carers to come along.” The careers event takes place from noon to 3pm at the Central Library”
  • Solihull – Protestors fail in bid to halt library move – Solihull Observer.  “After the three hour debate on Monday the council’s call-in committee voted in four to three in favour of the decision.” … Councillor says ““Taking all factors into consideration, I firmly believe relocating the library to Parkgate will enable us to create a flagship library and information centre, with superb facilities, which we simply can not do in the current building.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Anger as South Gloucestershire Council announces funds from Waitrose development in Chipping Sodbury will be spent on services in Yate – Gazette. “Chelverton Deeley Freed has paid South Gloucestershire Council £36,000 for library provision, part of a £1.5million deal known as a Section 106 agreement to offset the impact of the store, which is due to open on October 10, and 160 houses which will be built at Barnhill Quarry at a later date. The council’s library department last week confirmed to Sodbury Town Council that it would be spending 70 per cent of the funding on improving Yate Library.”
  • York – Social enterprise will run York’s libraries despite union’s warnings of ‘risk’ – Press. “Plans for a “community benefit society” to operate the libraries have been approved by City of York Council’s cabinet in the first scheme of its kind in the country, as the authority looks to cut costs by £450,000 over three years. The Explore Libraries And Archives Mutual will be eligible for VAT breaks and will be two-thirds owned by staff, with the public owning the remaining third.” … “Andrea Dudding, general convenor for Unison in York, told the cabinet the plans carried “significant financial risks which are being transferred to employees”

“The society will have a five-year contract starting next year, with membership of the mutual costing £1. Library membership will remain separate and free.”