The Wirral has a special place in the hearts of the many who care about public libraries.  It was there in 2009 that council plans to close 11 libraries led to the (semi) intervention of the then Labour Culture Secretary and the saving of the service.  At the time, the opposition libraries minister Ed Vaizey made great demands on the government about intervening, saving libraries and keeping library jobs.  Now, five years later, the Wirral has announced it is looking at not 11 but 15 libraries either closing or being run by volunteers.  The then shadow minister is now in Government with responsibility for libraries and no one is betting on him doing anything about the Wirral.  This is not likely to go un-noticed.


National news

  • Coalition cuts now targeting well loved local libraries as almost 500 affected – Mirror. “Library services are being reduced or scrapped under cuts by the Tory-led Coalition, hitting families hard. The number of mobile libraries, vital for those who struggle to get to town centres, has fallen by 34% in six years, public finance group CIPFA found. Up to 493 libraries will be closed, privatised or run by volunteers, Unison discovered. And 20% cuts in budgets resulted in shorter opening times which 59% of women surveyed said would stop them visiting a library.” … “Unison union’s Dave Prentis said: “This government claims that it wants to end illiteracy, but at the same time it is doing nothing to stop the haemorrhage of library closures.” He added: “Mobile libraries are yet another casualty of this Tory-led Government’s cuts agenda. “Across the country more than a third have been scrapped, yet they are often a lifeline for thousands of elderly, disabled and vulnerable people; many in outlying areas who can’t get to a town that has a library are being isolated.”
  • Librarians launch crowdfunded festival – BookSeller. “Librarians Richard Veevers and Sue Lawson have set up the National Public Library Festival to celebrate the work of libraries around the country. They hope to hold the festival at the Library of Birmingham on Saturday 30th August this year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1964 museums and public library act, which guaranteed that local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service … People who want to back the festival can do so on website.”
  • Open letter to Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey – Alan Gibbons. “You said: “Andy Burnham’s refusal to take action in the Wirral effectively renders the 1964 Public Libraries Act meaningless. While it is local authorities’ responsibility to provide libraries, the Act very clearly lays responsibility for ensuring a good service at the culture secretary’s door. It Andy Burnham is not prepared to intervene when library provision is slashed in a local authority such as the Wirral, it is clear that he is ignoring his responsibilities as Secretary of State, which in the process renders any sense of libraries being a statutory requirement for local authorities meaningless.” This is a clear and equivocal statement. Now that you are Culture Secretary I assume you will intervene, should Wirral council resurrect their library closure programme, as press reports suggest they intend, to call in the decision and prevent it. Anything else would be inconsistent and invite accusations of hypocrisy.
  • Partnership key to tackling inequality in the internet age – UK Authority. “few projects have built such extensive partner networks as Connecting Bristol, a digital inclusion programme linking more than 500 stakeholders in the city across the public, private, academic and voluntary sectors.” Digital inclusion co-ordinator “now runs 12 free beginner computer courses a week in libraries, community centres, housing associations, churches and day centres across the city, focused on helping people over 55 and people with disabilities.”
  • Post Library Campaign AGM thoughts – Question Everything. “It all felt a bit fractious and there was some differing views about volunteer libraries … I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or feel responsible if I choose rather than to help I devote my limited free time to campaign against the actual concept of volunteer libraries which nearly all library users/campaigners (but not all in the profession!) are against … Despite still being one of the richest countries in the world they tell us that library managers, the lowest paid, in the smaller branch and rural libraries are a luxury that cannot be afforded, but we can still afford millions (2 million in Oxfordshire in fact) on self service machines, giant vanity PFI libraries in the big cities with websites alone that cost millions … My biggest concern is Labour aren’t going to be any different in power if they win or form the coalition next year.”
  • Power to Change – Big Lottery Fund. “The National Lottery funding will be delivered through an independent grant-making Trust from autumn 2014. In the meantime we are working with our Power to Change media partner, Trinity Mirror Group to celebrate and raise awareness of the many community enterprises across the country, connect people with enterprising projects in their local area, and inspire many more people to get involved. If you are a community enterprise or know of a great community enterprise in your area, we want to hear from you.” [This is the funding mentioned by Ciara Eastell in SCL speech: £150m – Ed.]
  • SCL and volunteer-led libraries – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. Revised version of post first covered on Monday. “Now more than ever communities need a professionally run and publicly funded and managed service and it’s my view that we should be debunking the austerity myth and fighting tooth and nail to keep every library publicly funded and properly resourced and to keep every one of those libraries staffed by paid & trained/qualified library workers. This is not about vilifying volunteers its about vilifying the governments agenda. Not to do this, in my opinion, is a betrayal of our users/members/borrowers/readers, the wider communities we serve and our ethos.”
  • Vince Cable visits Twickenham Library to promote family reading – SW Londoner. “Ten families attended Friday’s event, with all teddies dressed in capes and superhero masks, as Mr Cable recited early years classics such as Incy Wincy Spider and Jack and Jill. National Bookstart Week is a great event. It was really lovely to see a dozen or more very young children participating with their parents and enjoying the rhymes and rhythms, even if they are too young to read,” “
  • William Sieghart keynote speaker at CILIP’s Big Day – CILIP. “The publisher and philanthropist has been commissioned by the government to produce an independent report about public libraries in England. The report will examine the core principles of public libraries into the future. William has spent the last few months visiting libraries and talking to librarians across England. He will also present the Libraries Change Lives Award at the Big Day. The Big Day and AGM takes place in Bristol and is a free mini-conference for CILIP members only. Hosted by Barbara Band, CILIP’s President who will also give her Presidential Address, the programme includes an exploration of the essential role of information professionals by Jan Parry, CILIP Vice President, who worked closely with the Hillsborough Independent Panel.”

Sponsor news

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  • Service Development Librarian: Health & Wellbeing – Dudley. Permanent job share. “Salary: Grade 6  £19,817 – £21,734 pro rata per annum Dudley libraries are looking for a librarian with the ability to work under their own initiative and seek opportunities to develop the role to enhance Library services

UK local news by authority

  • Hampshire – Library changes are not finished yet – Gazette. “The statement came as a consultation closes on plans to shed jobs, mobile libraries and man some libraries with volunteers. The results are expected to be published in September. But Hampshire recreation and heritage chief Councillor Keith Chapman could not rule out future branch closures on top of the announced cuts.” … ““If we were starting a library service from square one we would not put libraries where they are now. “Over the years, things have never changed and we have a different way of accessing reading material.”
  • Lincolnshire – Library service see an upturn in county – Sleaford Standard. “Over the last year, there has been increased usage of e-books, e-audio and e-magazine services. There were over 40,000 e-issues in 2013-14, compared to 25,000 in 2012-13, a rise of 60 per cent.” … “by March 2014, there were 729 volunteers helping staff to deliver library and heritage services compared to approximately 500 eighteen months ago.” … “Alongside the £1,000 donation from The Library Campaign already reported, people from across the UK and the rest of the world have been making use of the new online donation facility with PayPal donations nudging £500. People from Oxford, Brecon, Devon, Tyne and Wear, Durham, Reigate, Glasgow, York and Norwich have given to the cause this way, as well as international donations from Australia and the USA. “I’m amazed to report the donation page has had over 500 hits in five days,” commented campaigner Angela Montague.”  See also Surge in usage of Lincolnshire’s online library services – Lincolnshire Council.
  • Liverpool – We the undersigned ask you to rethink your plans to slash the budget for libraries and consider the alternatives put forward by our Green councillors – Change,org. “Like other libraries in Liverpool, Sefton Park Library is an important part of our community. Do not close it. The Greens are proposing taking £1.634m from two separate funds which are used for optional discretionary projects and using it to prevent any library closures in Liverpool. We recognise that many of these projects do good things, but on balance we think protecting the library service should be a priority. We proposed this as an amendment to the most recent council budget, but the proposal was rejected.”
  • Southend – Southend-on-Sea’s partnership work for people with dementia and their carers – Reading Agency. “We’re working with the Society of Chief Librarians to develop a Reading Well Books on Prescription dementia booklist and public library offer. As part of this, we’re gathering case studies that show the dementia-focused services that libraries currently provide. Here, we look at Southend Libraries‘ partnership work supporting people with dementia and their carers.”
  • Staffordshire – Mike Lawrence: ‘Our library review is not a closure programme being driven by money’ – Stoke Sentinel. “We know, from an initial consultation with more than 2,300 people and 150 groups earlier this year, that Staffordshire’s libraries are loved, but an unavoidable statistic is that last year only one in eight residents used their library.” … “we also know that some people will always want a book where they turn the page and a physical place to borrow it from. We do understand this, which is why we’re proposing that 19 of our libraries, labeled ‘extra’ and ‘core’ remain under our full control and share their space with official groups, bodies and organisations so users find more things under one roof and have more reasons to visit the building.”

“This structure is one suggested by the Arts Council England and has already been implemented in other shire counties. We put that original Arts Council England idea to people during the initial consultation and, after listening to what they had to say, amended it to the current suggestion of an online library, plus three types of physical library. Public involvement is essential to this process – especially if you haven’t used your library for a while. If Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet agrees, three months of consultation will begin on July 7. Please get involved through the council’s website, at a library or through one of the other events that will be publicised locally.”

  • Wirral – Many of Wirral libraries at risk of closure under council plans – Liverpool Echo. “Wirral council’s ruling cabinet is this week being asked to approve plans to seek outside help from volunteers to maintain the library sites across the borough. The move comes as the council struggles to make massive savings – £27m this year alone.” … ” A proposal to shut 11 of Wirral’s libraries was abandoned late in 2009 on the eve of the publication of an inquiry report into the closures by Government inspector Sue Charteris.” … ” “I really can’t believe that the Labour party is seeking to close Wirral libraries yet again – they have to understand these are a statutory service and their last attempt was roundly criticised.” See also Community groups asked to takeover management of Wirral libraries – Wirral Globe.