All of the public libraries near me had National Libraries Day displays and activities going on and, if Twitter is anything to go by, librarians and their supporters up and down the country were enjoying it immensely.  Alan Gibbons, the man behind the day in the first place, has his eye on the cuts going on in libraries (the thing that started the Day in the first place) and urges everyone to submit evidence to the Sieghart Inquiry into public libraries.   Two cheers then for National Libraries Day: which has now gained widespread acceptance amongst public library staff as well as those campaigning to save the libraries themselves and even, I noticed this year for first time, library suppliers.  The third cheer will come when the depressing decline in libraries is reversed.

For Alan is quite right to be concerned as the Changes below show some fairly depressing news (apart from in Warwickshire where closures have been avoided).  The glaring point I notice from them is that Birmingham and Liverpool – both authorities with expensive big new/refurbished central libraries – are having to severely cut back their branches in order to pay for them. This confirms the worry that, in this time of severe cuts, it’s the little libraries (with a population at least partly unlikely to be able to afford to travel) that are being cut and the big central libraries (used at least in part by those who can afford to travel) that are surviving.  There’s a problem there about fairness and access to local services that may not be being addressed.

If you have any news, thoughts, comments or questions, please email me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk.  Thank you.


National Libraries Day

  • Booklovers in Southampton to mark National Libraries Day – Southern Daily Echo.
  • Campaigners mark Libraries Day: and hope they survive – Sheffield Telegraph. “Crime writer Danuta Reah, who grew up in Broomhill and was a library member from early childhood, is leading a writers’ workshop, reading from her latest novel, and talking about her writing experiences at closure-threatened Broomhill Library. Activities are being held from 10am to noon and 2pm to 4pm. Old photos will be on display at 109-year-old Walkley library, the city’s only Carnegie Library, built with funds from the philanthropist, and there will be story times and craft activities for children from 9.30am until 12.30pm”
  • In Praise of Public Libraries (For National Libraries Day) – Debbie Young. “I never did pursue my library ambitions, but even now, when I enter a library, I often think back fondly to the library of my childhood, set among the woods where, in my mind, bluebells always bloom. I was devastated years later when I heard that the library had burned down. But I am thankful to live in a country where book burning only happens by accident and we are free to read whatever we want”
  • Lesley Pearse speaks out for libraries – BookSeller. “Novelist Lesley Pearse will talk about saving libraries and why they should not be allowed to close on BBC television tomorrow morning (8th February), marking the start of National Libraries Day. The third annual National Libraries Day will include author readings, poetry sessions and business advice classes at libraries across the UK. Pearse, National Libraries Day ambassador, will be on BBC One Breakfast”
  • Local cheer for National Libraries Day – Guardian. “We all know that libraries are our future, that librarians are pitched into battle on the frontline in the war for the imagination, but libraries aren’t just about the big picture. With National Libraries Day hoving into view on Saturday, I’d like to tell you about my local library. Because Queen’s Park Library on Harrow Road is just brilliant.”
  • McKevitt urges people to become bookworms for National Libraries Day – Newry Times. SDLP Culture spokesman keen on lapsed users and non-users to go into libraries, join again and enjoy the delights within.
  • MP Helen Goodman, Shadow Minister for Libraries, marks National Libraries Day at Shildon Library – Northern Echo. She “visited Shildon Library, in County Durham, yesterday (Saturday) to mark National Libraries Day. During her visit, she read books with children and met with adult users.”
  • Sheffield readers celebrate libraries – Star. Video: “Celebrations of local libraries are taking place across Sheffield today as a final decision looms on their future. Families are enjoying a wide range of activities – from creative classes to storytelling – to mark National Libraries Day. And dozens of people are taking part in a social network campaign called The Big Shh!, where readers pose with a finger to their lips and share a photograph on Facebook or Twitter to highlight their love of libraries.”

“Yesterday was National Libraries Day, an event I initiated several years ago to celebrate and promote the public library service. I have become increasingly concerned as something like a tenth of library jobs have gone, hundreds of branches have closed or been handed over to an uncertain future as ‘community’ volunteer libraries, book stocks have been hacked and opening hours have been slashed. The Sieghart inquiry could be yet another toothless review, but friends of our libraries must submit evidence in an attempt to save a service put in danger by the abstentionist failure of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport ministers Maria Miller and Ed Vaizey. 

Please submit evidence to this inquiry: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/public-libraries-what-do-you-think. Don’t let this government destroy the public library service.” An appeal to friends of the public library service – Alan Gibbons

Sieghart Inquiry

“I think we need to be aware that the Review Panel is not due to report until the end of 2014, not long before before the next election, and therefore it is unlikely that much, if anything, will happen under the present coalition government (and the present Minster). There are similarities with what happened after the previous two year Library Modernisation Review, set up by Margaret Hodge and project managed by the DCMS, which was effectively binned by the current Minister. (Note – the Project Manager of the Library Modernisation Review became Ed Vaizey’s Private Secretary after he was appointed Culture Minister) … It is perhaps unfortunate that the latest review was not made a cross party initiative to avoid the sceptical view that it is another “classic ministerial excuse for not acting” Desmond Clarke

  • Not another bloody report – Stop the privatisation of public libraries.  “A good way of not taking action in government is to launch an inquiry, review, commission or report and in relation to public libraries this is exactly what has happened over and over again. I’ve lost count on how many inquiries, reviews and reports etc there have been from the ‘distributive’ leadership in ‘LibraryLand’ over the last few years, at least a couple of dozen i would think? They say the same things and make the same noises but do nothing, or very little, to safeguard or develop libraries.”

“Sham or not, evidence must go in!” Shirley Burnham

  • Publisher to lead library report – South Wales Guardian. “Mr Sieghart, the founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry, and a former member of Arts Council England, said: “Together with my advisory panel, I am looking forward to considering the issues, and to hearing from the myriad range of stakeholders who have a responsibility and interest in this most valued of public services.” Culture minister Ed Vaizey said he hoped the report would help the service “to flourish for generations to come”, while local government minister Brandon Lewis said it may help to ensure that “our libraries remain the cultural heartbeat of communities for years to come and remain a valuable frontline service provided by local authorities.”

National news


  • Big crowds at new library produce new phenomena: empty shelves – Billings Gazette (USA). “Don’t go searching for Clifford the Big Red Dog at the Billings Public Library. The popular children’s books by Norman Bridwell are all checked out. All 50 copies of them. All of the Berenstain Bear books are gone too, along with every one of Jeff Kinney’s  “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” What’s going on over there at the new library? “It’s amazing,” said children’s librarian Cindy Patterson. “I don’t even know what else to say. We have complete authors that are just gone. We’ve never really had that happen before.” Since the library opened Jan. 6, the number of visitors has increased by 50 percent over last year. During the first two weeks of operation, the library issued as  many as 200 new library cards a day. The good news is, patrons are using those new cards, Patterson said.”
  • Orlando library unveils new $2.5M tech-learning center – Orlando Sentinel (USA). “The 26,000-square-foot center, which takes up about half of the downtown library’s second floor, includes a recording studio, sound booths, film studio with green screen, simulators, and a fabrication lab with 3-D printers.”
  • Who Says Libraries Are Going Extinct? – Pacific Standard (USA). “ronically, the best-kept secret about America’s libraries is that they are wildly, deeply, and incontrovertibly popular. They are as actively used as ever, if not more. Funding cuts be damned: more than 16,000 public library branches in the U.S. serve 96.4 percent of the population, according to the “State of America’s Libraries Report 2013” by the American Library Association. (The ALA was founded in 1876, the same year the Dewey decimal system was developed.) Public libraries circulated 2.46 billion materials last year, the greatest volume in 10 years. Over this same period, the circulation of children’s book and materials increased by more than 28 percent. Attendance at library-hosted programs for kids hit 60.5 million in 2013.”


  • Library Camp SW 2014 – Saturday 5th July at Exeter Central Library. “Library Camp South West is an “unconference” where participants make suggestions for what they would like to talk about. It works on the principle that knowledge, experience and expertise can be shared. It is free to attend. An unconference follows the principles of Open Space events – people can wander in and out of sessions, tweet, blog and take photos all day”

UK local news by local authority

  • Birmingham – Librarians planning action to save community libraries – Birmingham Mail. “Staff at Birmingham’s community libraries are putting together a management buy-out proposal to head off potential closures. The librarians are putting together their bid as the council considers the closure of four of the city’s 39 libraries and reductions to opening hours and staffing at many more. The authority’s Labour deputy leader Ian Ward announced that he had held a meeting with senior librarians at which the proposal for a new community library cooperative was discussed. He said: “Staff are looking at a management buy out on a cooperative model. They cited the example of York where this has happened with a staff and community cooperative. So we will take a look at what happened there.””… but “with community library services devolved in Birmingham, they would need to convince all ten districts of the merits.”
  • Brent – Determined and defiant Kensal Rise clears mess left by All Souls College – Wembley Matters. “Kensal Rise after the events of this week deserves a posting of its own. I arrived in the rain  this morning  to find people already working at clearing up the mess left by security guards hired by All Souls College.  They were under orders to clear the pop up library so that that All Souls could hand over the site to developer Andrew Gillick on the completion of the sale. The sale went through despite the on/off police investigation into fraudulent emails that supported Gillick’s planning application for the site. A large number of books ruined by exposure to the rain were being thrown into a skip bag while volunteers were sorting through others. The pop up’s piano was also ruined beyond repair. Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt has arranged with the Campaign to get the books removed to a safe and dry place this coming Monday. Unfortunately too late for some of the books.”

“Out of sight, not out of mind” Slogan on facade hiding Kensal Rise Library

“It now looks like we’ll end up with more libraries than we started with, while still achieving substantial savings, which is a very positive result.” Cllr Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, Lincolnshire

  • Lincolnshire – Please tell us: why did you offer to take over your library? – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “We would very much like to know your motivation for doing this, and ask you to leave a comment on this blog post or email us to do so. This request is also running on our Facebook Group. So… have you submitted and EOI because: (a) you welcome the opportunity to run a library in your community (b) you believe that if you do not put forward an EOI your community will no longer have a library? Or is there another reason for your EOI not covered by these two choices?” All seven replies so far are from groups saying they were forced into it in order to keep a library open of some sort.
  • Liverpool – City Council cuts: Plan to axe 300 jobs – BBC. “A “significant number” of day centres and children’s centres would close, as well as at least two leisure centres and up to half the libraries.”

“Half the city’s libraries (again, heavily used by the elderly and the pre-schoolers) will close unless community groups come forward to run them. Perhaps a few will – but in reality it is a mammoth task to run a library, and neighbouring authorities are struggling to find qualified volunteers to operate theirs.” BBC analysis

  • Liverpool – Library funding slashed in half – BookSeller. “Library funding in Liverpool is to be cut by half for the next three years, in addition to £1m of cuts this year. Mayor Joe Anderson outlined £42m of cuts at a press briefing yesterday (6th February), the Liverpool Echo reported. The cuts include up to £500,000 being “shaved off the budget for the city’s libraries every year for the next three years” … ” “Factored into how much must be cut is the required repayments for the Central Library refurbishment of around £1m a year for the next 30 years under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme that paid for it.””
  • Norfolk – “Joining the audio book club has given me a reason to get up in the morning” – EDP. “someone suggested she joined the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind’s audio book club in King’s Lynn. Now she is a regular at the Gaywood Library-based club, attending monthly meetings to confidently discuss and debate audio books that stretch and challenge her, re-igniting her love of literature. The Gaywood club is one of nine run by the NNAB in Norfolk libraries and just one example of the facilities provided by the library service which are being celebrated tomorrow, National Libraries Day.”
  • Oxfordshire – Neverending Story – Question Everything. A further £250k cut on top of £1m announced means “death spiral”. “I don’t think we’re going to end up with a quality library service that is fit for the 21st century, I think OCC will keep cutting and the service get worse and they’ll use that as a excuse to keep cutting further.” … “On the stupid non-money saving scheme to get volunteers to replace the low paid library managers and assistants, despite it being passed in 2011, there are currently no libraries fully implemented (page 377!). There are 21 to be culled of half their staffing and there’s only eleven even in the negotiation stage. They all have to be up and running by April next year. There are clearly going to be libraries failing and closing despite the hollow promises of the council when David Cameron and Keith Mitchell bounced this undemocratically through in 2011.”
  • Oxfordshire – Unexpected Visitor? – Dumb Librarian. “The leader of OCC just happening to be in the area and making impromptu visits to public libraries. We had of course been briefed before hand so not really an impromptu visit but merely a heads up not to say something out of turn. Somewhat challenging under the circumstance. Colleagues being made redundant and the ‘lucky few’ having the option of working fewer hours and/or relocating. Fantastic for morale, just when we needed it.”
  • Sheffield – Plea for rethink for Sheffield library rejected – Star. “In a heated meeting – in which one councillor described proposals from her own cabinet as ‘terrible’ – the call for a fresh needs assessment from 14 campaign groups was rejected. Protest groups from across the city came together for the first time after highlighting a number of ‘flaws’ in the Library Review.”
  • Sheffield – Protest over changes to library services – ITV. “A protest will go ahead outside a Sheffield library today over planned changes to the service. Stannington Library could lose council support and be passed to the voluntary sector this summer.”

“The library here in Stannington is not simply a nice leisure add-on for people with time on their hands. It is a vital learning facility for anyone, young or old, looking for a more fulfilled or productive life. And the value of the work professional librarians do to help people achieve their aims and needs within libraries can never be over-estimated. No volunteer-run facility could ever fully match this” Bob Mynors