The familiar music of local people choosing between seeing their library close and taking it over themselves is playing louder these days.  North Yorkshire, which has had volunteer libraries for a couple of years, is looking at transferring another 23 of its 52 that way: leaving only 12 “hub” branches with paid staff.  It joins other authorities like Lincolnshire in aiming for a future where the number of volunteer library outnumbers the number of paid.

I’m glad to say, though that, against this, other songs can be heard.  Some more information is coming out about the refurbished Manchester Central Library, soon to be reopened, and it’s sounding rather wonderful.  I’m hoping for some real “Ode to Joy” from that one.  East Sussex are also planning some happy numbers – two new libraries are planned – although one of these is postponed.  This aspect of the performance is dieing away: Manchester is the last of the Big New Shiny Libraries to be completed and no more of that scale are planned.

Then, against these competing doom-laden and happy pieces comes another sound.  Another sound that is not musical at all: it’s the sound of the mocking laughter of crows. Step forward those companies who have been lucky enough to take advantage of PFI contracts for new libraries.  It looks like the recognised discounted rate of return on such contracts is 7% per year.  How authorities could do with that money now. Let’s hope Manchester and East Sussex are getting better deals.

FInally, there is something else.  The sound of silence from the minister while the Library Cuts Symphony continues and, the increasing suspicion of those who care, that many in Government will applaud when the work is finished … and avert their eyes from the disenfranchised in the streets (and secretly blame them for their lack of entrepreneurial spirit) when they leave the theatre .

Please send any news, views or corrections to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk



  • Children urged to read to dogs, perfect listeners – BBC. “”This works really well with kids. The dog doesn’t judge or criticise and so it helps to build self-esteem as well. “The children sit down and stroke the dog and this lowers their blood pressure. They feel in a relaxed and comfortable state.” He adds: “We do this a lot with special needs pupils. They can sit there and spell out the words with them and the child knows the dog can’t spell!””
  • Free books to get families reading together: new partnership launches – Reading Agency (press release). “In selected settings such as family learning centres, libraries and colleges where the increasingly popular Six Book Challenge is running, less confident adult readers will be offered 500 free copies of Barrington Stoke’s newly-launched Red Squirrel list of picture books to read with their children.” … “Dudley Libraries, for example, will use these exciting new titles to support a new partnership with a parents’ literacy group at a local primary school in an area of deprivation, encouraging them to share reading with their children, and to take up the Six Book Challenge alongside their children’s participation in the Summer Reading Challenge.”
  • Hachette, PRH lead BIA shortlists – BookSeller. Shortlist for “Library of the Year” award includes The Library of Birmingham, Dudley Libraries The Hive, Midlothian Library Service, Sandwell Library AND Information Service and Surrey Libraries
  • Libraries for Life for London mission statement – Card with LLL mission and contact details.  Self-help group for library campaigners in London.
  • Michael Gove, Catholics, the Taliban: and how Hollywood made a mess of The Golden Compass: The dark side of Philip Pullman – Mail. One of two things Philip Pullman told Michael Gove “‘First, how important school libraries are. We have to have books in them, if we want children to learn that reading is full of fun and excitement. And there must be a trained librarian there, to bring the right book and the right child together at the right time.”
  • Response the special panel on the future of libraries – Society of Authors. Public libraries are “seriously underfunded” and “the current organisation is confusing and can be wasteful”. Volunteer libraries “cannot provide comprehensive and efficient services”. Closures will have “devastating, long-lasting and irreparable effect” on communities and nationally.  More bookfunding needed, school libraries should be compulsory.
  • Value of arts and culture to people and society: an evidence review – Arts Council England. Notes there is no up to date evidence on economic impact of libraries but new research commissioned. “Taking part in drama and library activities improves attainment in literacy”.

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  • 3 unusual and unexpected library services – All Purpose Guru (USA).  Services are high school diplomas, aerobics [this is unexpected? “My” library does pilates, ju-jitsu, dance classes … – Ed.] and 3D printing.
  • America is About to Lose One of Its Best Public Resource: Public Libraries – AlterNet (USA). “As an American librarian I am glad to be living in the European Union where library funding isn’t under attack to the extent that it is back home in the United States, because readership, literacy and an open based knowledge system that is publicly funded is still valued. In America, library budgets have become low hanging fruit for conservative local and state politicians.” [Presumably the author does not live in the UK – Ed.].  Points out benefits to reduce crime rate, censorship, progress.
  • Book-carrying Palestinians ring Old City to push reading – New Straits Times (Palestine/Israel).  “Hundreds of young Palestinians gathered  outside the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City with books on Sunday to encourage  people to read more, organisers and police said. “We had this idea to encourage people to read, to donate books to public  libraries and to build new libraries by gathering around the walls of  Jerusalem, each with a book in his hands”
  • EOI for conducting qualitative and quantitative survey of Public Libraries in India – NGO Box (India). “Ministry of Culture, Government of India, under National Mission on Libraries (NML) programme, is looking for engaging an agency having sufficient experience in the field of primary data collection and subsequent in-depth analysis and study, consultancy and in-survey work for conducting a qualitative and quantitative survey of Public Libraries in India”.
  • Minister Announces Construction of Libraries, Cultural Centres – All Africa (Angola). “Culture Ministry will build more libraries, cultural centres and other recreational sites for performance of activity in the country, said the incumbent minister, Rosa Cruz e Silva.”
  • New York Woman Left a Ton of Money to the Library Because She Liked to Read – New York (USA).  Lover of books leave the city £6 million.
  • Social interactions have you breaking into a sweat? Try visiting your local library – Tech Times (USA). “…a new study suggests that regular library visitors are social animals, as well as having a higher level of education and a deeper engagement with evolving technologies. Looking at more than 6,000 people aged 16 and over, the study also found that those who frequent libraries tend to be happier.”
  • Turns out most engaged library users are also biggest tech users – PBS (USA). ““A key theme in these survey findings is that many people see acquiring information as a highly social process in which trusted helpers matter,” Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project and a main author of the report said. “One of the main resources that people tap when they have questions is the networks of expertise. Even some of the most self-sufficient information consumers in our sample find that libraries and librarians can be part of their networks when they have problems to solve or decisions to make.””

Local UK news by authority

  • Barnet – Friern Barnet Library marks 80th birthday – This is Local London. “Friern Barnet Library, now run by a team of voluntary trustees, is marking the anniversary with a special celebration.  Special guests at the event include founder of National Libraries Day Alan Gibbons, chairman of national charity The Library Campaign Laura Swaffield, and Boyd Tonkin, a senior writer at The Independent” … The date is Sunday 23rd March, not this Sunday … more information on Friern Barnet library 80th birthday celebrations – Alan Gibbon’s Blog
  • Birmingham – Councillors struggle to identify savings – Sutton Coldfield Local. “Libraries within the District will be affected by the cuts in some way, be that reduced opening hours or closure (as is possible in Mere Green).”
  • Bradford – Mobile libraries to be axed – Craven Herald and Pioneer. “Craven ward district councillor Andrew Mallinson said the service – which will come to an end on March 31 – was a lifeline to many people. And he felt more should have been done to seek alternative ways of operating the service, which is being scrapped as part of Bradford Council’s budget cuts.”
  • Brent – Community Hub has Ward Working funding from the Council – Preston Library Campaign. “… awarded funding from Brent Council’s Ward Working Fund to run events at the old Preston Library Building in Carlton Avenue East [currently a temporary school]. Book-related events will be run. Depending on the age group targeted, the events will offer: * readers and/or speaker or story-teller”
  • Carillion / Croydon – Fears Croydon’s libraries are being left to ‘rack and ruin’ – Croydon Advertiser. “the Advertiser has been contacted by several sources complaining the new management has let standards slip severely since taking over. Library campaigner Elizabeth Ash said there had been numerous changes in the running of her local Sanderstead Library – and which had not been not for the better.”.  Alan Wylies says Carillion “aren’t interested in libraries. I have heard they only bought the contract to expand their facilities portfolio.” Problems include “certain floors of the flagship Croydon Central Library remaining unmanned and problems with the internet. Another library user, who asked not to be named, said there was no way of accessing many of the books and resources in the recently moved local studies section.”
  • East Dunbartonshire – Read all about it: Bookbug sessions were a great success – Kirkintilloch Herald. “Chair of East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust, Scott Hill, said, “Bookbug sessions are already popular with families in libraries across the area and the children who took part had a great time. This was an excellent opportunity, on World Book Day, to showcase what goes on and I hope it has inspired others to get involved with their young ones.” Bookbug sessions involve music, rhymes and reading aloud and are the perfect way to introduce children not only to books but to libraries too.”
  • East Sussex – Libraries in Seaford and Newhaven to be finished later this year – Sussex Express. “Newhaven Library will open later than expected, with the building due to be ready in autumn. The 1.6m facility was meant to be ready at the end of 2013. Seaford’s £6m library building, which includes a library, cafe and supported living flats for adults with learning disabilities, will be open for business this summer.” … “The completion of both libraries will create state-of-the-art facilities offering a clean, modern environment, and will help to regenerate both towns.” Artworks are proposed for both libraries, with funding coming from the Arts Council.”
  • Lincolnshire – New home for Coningsby Library – Horncastle News. “the general feeling among other communities fighting to save their libraries was the county council kept changing the various regulations. It is understood the county council will help offer financial support for four years but then expects libraries to be self funding and run as a business. The cost of training – and insuring – any staff would also have to be covered.”.  Coningsby Town Council working towards an alternative for Coningsby and Tattershall libraries … but strong public support needed.
  • Liverpool – Croxteth Community Library – Community Knowledge Hub. “Croxteth Community Library Project is run by Alt Valley Community Trust, a long-standing Locality member, and based in the Communiversity which was created by a group of local activists who purchased an older people’s home then transformed it into a lifelong learning centre. The term ‘Communiversity’ is often used to describe all of AVCT’s activities, simply because it was where the organisation began, and it still serves as their Head Office and the hub of their Community Engagement work. The Communiversity is also home to Adult Learning classes and the Communi-café.”
  • Manchester – Central Library’s opening: Remade, remodelled – Creative Tourist. ” E. Vincent Harris-designed neo-Classical curves have been refreshed to make Central Library the belle of the ball. The vision of the “world-class public square” in which the grade II-listed building sits is being realised, while the library’s inner beauty has been revealed with a sympathetic, yet entirely 21st-century, refurbishment.” … “Two million visitors are predicted each year, double the numbers when the library closed in 2010. This makes sense when there’s so much on offer: as well as hosting the largest public music library in the country, there’s new exhibition and performance space, soft seating and 170 computers for public use spread throughout the building. “It’s the city’s study, but it’s also the city’s living room,””
  • North Yorkshire – ‘Difficult’ savings to be made in county council’s 2020 North Yorkshire programme – York Press. “It said piecemeal cuts were no longer enough, with the new programme being consulted on this year and due to get under way in 2015/16. “Our budget is a reality – we can’t wish away a 34 per cent cut since 2010”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries may be run by volunteers – BBC. “Up to 30 libraries in North Yorkshire may be handed over to volunteers to run, the county council has said. t said it was necessary to help meet savings targets and said branch closures were not ruled out.” … “There are already seven community libraries … The council’s remaining 12 libraries would serve as hubs offering support and professional guidance to volunteer-led libraries.”
  • Sheffield – Support your local group to save our libraries – Star / Letters. “I would like to highlight the fantastic work being done by the Friends of Ecclesfield Library. This group was formed in November, following the outcry about the threatened closure of their library”
  • Staffordshire – What else can we close down? – Stoke Sentinel. “What about the libraries, another service used by many young people, but not everyone? But, yes of course, they are already under threat.”
  • Swindon – Library survey insult – Swindon Advertiser. “The council has a policy that a library may not open with only one person in the building, so what do the council do? They spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on machines to replace library staff. So, where there were two staff members, there is now only one.” … “This survey is an insult to all council tax payers. It’s the council who have created this monster so if it’s the Arts Centre people we should be talking to about our books it won’t be long before it’s the lavatory attendant and shelf stacker, as clearly it’s not the council’s doing or making.” … “Liden Library was closed the other morning, with a sign saying ‘Staff Sickness’. So much for hundreds of thousands of pounds on machines”.
  • Worcestershire – Plans for the future of Hagley Library revealed – Stourbridge News. Hagley Library will become volunteer run or closed. “Concerned about the future of the library, around 150 residents packed into St Saviours church hall last Wednesday as officials from the county council and Hagley Parish Council revealed their plans.” … “savings will be made by cutting down on staff and transferring the running of the building to the parish council, who would in turn, increase the precept residents pay by £5 per year to cover costs.”.  Library to “eventually move into a community hub” … “Money will be saved as temporary staff contracts will not be renewed and when managers leave, other managers would be drawn in to cover and have more than one library under their jurisdiction”.