In a surprise move, the half-time DCMS Specialist Advisor for Libraries, Yinnon Ezra, has announced he is leaving his job after just one year. Yinnon has worked largely behind the scenes in the last year but has – among other things – written a couple of interestingly useful blog posts and spoken at the Library Campaign conference.  However, it is questionable how much he could have achieved in just one year and in a part-time capacity. Whatever has been done, the decision leaves a vacancy as the libraries advisor to Ed Vaizey which may or may not be filled.  The post itself is a quasi replacement for the abolished Advisory Council for Libraries which, it turned out, was a statutory requirement.  A consultation about its abolition, although promised, has still not materialised.



Yinnon Ezra

  • Is it that time already? – CLOA. The closing thoughts of Yinnon Ezra on his work as  Specialist Advisor for Libraries for the DCMS. Key achievement was to get local authorities dealing with library cuts to talk to and learn from eachother. “I have been very impressed at the process colleagues in DCMS go through when assessing if a local authority is in breach of the 1964 Act. Believe me, it is a really painstaking process and I have seen just how aware they are of their legal duties.” Question over “whether the current model of local government finance is still viable”.


“What a shame. Yinnon knows a lot about local government – and cares about libraries. I guess that makes him doubly unwelcome at the DCMS. ‘So bang goes DCMS’s only source of independent, expert advice. Meanwhile, The Library Campaign has spent months vainly trying to find out when DCMS is going to consult on its illegal decision to abolish the – statutory – Advisory Council on Libraries. Could the DCMS perhaps be replaced by volunteers?” Laura Swaffield, The Library Campaign

“We are waiting for the public consultation document on the future of the Advisory Council on Libraries which is prescribed in the 1964 Act. The ACL has not met since 2010 and, a year ago,  Ed Vaizey appointed Yinnon Ezra as his advisor on libraries –and claimed it as one of his achievements as Minister.  Yinnon has now left the DCMS. We are also waiting for the report on volunteer run libraries which Ed Vaizey promised to give to the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sports Committee before the end of last year.” Desmond Clarke

UK news

“Culture minister Ed Vaizey hailed as “very impressive” a 44 percent rise in volunteers staffing libraries in a Telegraph article last week, suggesting that the “Big Society” volunteering boom had arrived at last.  Hardly – most of those untrained volunteers have replaced knowledgeable, paid library staff. Perhaps it’s about time Mr Vaizey borrowed a copy of On Permanent Loan? a report produced last year by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, which found that community-managed libraries, where volunteers have had to take over libraries or see them close, are not a sustainable solution to funding cuts.  They found that library groups had “mixed experiences” with recruiting volunteers; and although some affluent areas were swamped with people willing to spend a couple of hours a week tidying and stamping books, finding people with the skills and time for management roles was much more difficult. “Only certain communities have the resources to effectively set up and run a library,” they concluded.  Unfortunately, these weren’t usually the deprived communities most in need of a library service.” Library News, Private Eye, Issue No. 1357 (p.27) 10-23 January 2014

  • Future of libraries – Carnegie UK Trust. “In September 2013, the Trust was delighted to host a seminar with Nate Hill of Chattanooga Library on ‘Rapid Library Transformation’. You can watch a short interview with Nate which captures many of the points covered in the seminar.
  • Innovative Libraries Press: Low cost publisher for the Library Profession – Indiegogo. “This campaign aims to raise a small amount of money to get a low cost publisher off the ground to service the library and information community. Books will cost a fraction of the price of “normal” library publisher and writers will retain their copyright. Final cost for each book will be set depending on length and format, but typical cost (not including postage) is expected to be in the region of £20 (or about $30) for print, £5 (or about $8) for an e-version. There’s also the potential to do different formats of books – such as quick / short guides by experts that could be significantly cheaper. “

Local UK news by authority

  • Brent – Liberal Democrats pledge to reopen closed libraries if they win council elections – Brent and Kilburn Times. “The promise will be a key part of the party’s manifesto as it battles to takeover the town hall chambers on May 22 this year. The current Labour administration closed Barham, Cricklewood, Preston, Neasden, Kensal Rise and Tokyngton libraries in 2011 to save £1million. Cllr Paul Lorber, leader of the Brent Lib Dems, told the Times the cost of reopening five of the six branches would cost in the region of £400,000, which will be budgeted for if his party won the election.”.  Volunteers would be involved if the Lib Dems win power.
  • Bristol – School plan for Bristol Central Library cleared by councillors – Bristol Post. Councillors “have decided not to stand in Mayor George Ferguson’s way and allow plans to convert the basement floors of Bristol’s Central Library into a primary school to go ahead. But they rapped council officials for not consulting fully with people about the plans.” … “It emerged during the debate that council officers had advised a consultation exercise was not necessary because the area which is proposed for conversion is not open to the public.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Library books under threat in latest cuts – Chester Chronicle. ” the review ‘could potentially involve providing some services in a different way or from a different location’. It would be carried out on a locality basis, taking into account other ‘service provision’ in the area.”
  • Devon – Library bids to gain alcohol licence – Exeter Express and Echo. Cullompton: “The £3-million Hayridge Centre, on Exeter Hill, has proved a hit with townspeople since it opened in September 2011. Now managers at the library want to be able to serve alcoholic drinks at evening functions, such as weddings and future cultural events. An application has been submitted to Mid Devon District Council’s licensing department which could allow wine and other alcoholic beverages to be served until 2am.” … ““The licence is not to turn the cafe into a bar but to support the many functions here such as weddings.”
  • Dundee – Read all about it: popular Dundee library’s key role in life of city – Courier. Central is Scotland’s busiest library. “The library also won The Bookseller’s UK Library of the Year award last year, one of only seven libraries in the UK to be shortlisted. The judges were looking for “a superb all-round service, demonstrated by knowledgeable and inspiring librarians, expertly selected books and a welcoming physical and online environment.” … “In the past year, almost £10,000 of Scottish Government funding has been granted to add 3G-enabled iPad minis to the collection of devices so that the most vulnerable in society can have equal access to the internet.”

“Like most libraries, the Central Library has seen a slight drop in the number of books borrowed in the physical sense. “Although this has stabilised now and people seem to be coming back round to reading actual books”

  • Halton – Reading activists recommend – Youtube.  “Bankfield Reading Activists Charlotte & Callum recommend Hero & Divergent”
  • Haringey – Borough Council to modernise library service – Haringey Independent. “As part of the attempt to update how Haringey’s nine libraries operate, the council has asked people to share their views about what they want and need from the service. Anyone who is interested has until Wednesday, January 22,  to complete the libraries review online at www.haringey.gov.uk/librariesreview.”
  • Leicestershire – Thirty Leicestershire libraries under threat – BookSeller. “With the planned savings, the Leicester Mercury reports that the council could only fund 16 libraries in towns and larger communities, out of 53 libraries across the county. The rest would be offered to parish councils or volunteer groups to run.”
  • Monmouthshire – Campaigners’ joy as Usk library gets reprieve – Free Press series. “Campaigners have been assured that the service will remain for the forthcoming financial year and that positive talks are being held with Monmouthshire council to secure its long-term future and ensure it is not threatened by future cuts.” … “For many, it is their only access to broadband, the only place where schoolchildren can get books and is the only hub for the community which is free.”
  • Northumberland – Libraries continue to thrive under community control – Hexham Courant. In 2009 “A team of more than 20 volunteers expressed a desire to help out at Haydon Bridge, and they have played a huge part in making the renovated, community-run The Bridge facility a massive hit with locals.” … “The parish council was successful in getting large amounts of money together to renovate the building and split it into two sections – one to house the library service and the other space to be rented out as a business centre.” … “As part of a £50,000 project, Corbridge Library combined with the village tourist information centre to provide two key services under one roof. With one full-time member of staff at the head, the service relies on the help of volunteers to make the facility the success it is.”
  • Oxfordshire – Library’s future secured but part-time staff to go – Henley Standard. Manager to be made full-time but all other staff to be replaced by volunteers.  “Part-time members of staff at Sonning Common library are to be made redundant in order to keep the facility open. Volunteers will help fill the gaps and manager Rosemary Dunstan will have her hours extended so she is always on duty. “
  • Perth and Kinross – Fight is on to save West Mill Street Library – Courier. “The West Mill Street Library has been targeted as part of an extensive costcutting drive by Perth and Kinross Council. Although it is said by campaigners to be a lifeline for more than 13,600 people, particularly elderly and visually impaired users, the Perth library has been deemed surplus to requirements.”
  • Sheffield – Group put forward plan to run library – Star. “The group of 10, who live in and around Stannington, have put together a bid to take over the library as a community facility.” … ” “There are lots of disappointed people in Stannington. 
“We have a modern, purpose-built library that is accessible for disabled and elderly people and families. “If we lose it, this would really hurt the community – especially a big rural one like ours.”
  • Sheffield – Protest over Sheffield library closures plan – BBC. “Around 250 people demonstrated outside Sheffield Town Hall ahead of a council meeting to discuss the proposals.”
  • Stockton – Reduced opening hours at libraries in borough of Stockton in near year – Northern Echo. Libraries “across the borough of Stockton will have reduced opening hours in the New Year. From Monday, January 6 libraries at Fairfield, Roseworth, Thornaby, Egglescliffe and Billingham will have new timetables and both Stockton Central and Thornaby Central Libraries will no longer open on Sundays”.
  • Wolverhampton – Library-users’ dismay at plans to cut opening hours to just 15 – Express and Star. “The city council has outlined proposals to reduce opening hours at the city’s libraries from 656 hours per week to 421 hours.” … “The reduced hours come as the council battles to save £123m over the next five years. The library service has been given a target to make savings of £1.7 million, which is over half its current operating budget. Under proposals, Bilston, Warstones and Wednesfield libraries would be staffed for 39 hours a week, Finchfield and Tettenhall for 30 hours and Ashmore Park, Pendeford and Penn libraries for 24 hours.”