The big news is that the Liverpool Mayor’s recommendation to the Council is that the city loses more than of its libraries. People are not impressed and, to be fair, neither is the mayor – he says that due to Austerity programme, he had no choice and that “We’ve tried to come up with a proposal that obviously everyone’s going to hate.  It’s not something that we feel, you know, people are going to welcome”.  Well, no one has welcomed it yet and no one is likely to.  It may also be that not all of the problem is down to the Government spending programmes, although a lot of it undoubtedly is. The cut may also have at least something to do with the £50 million spent on refurbishing Liverpool Central Library, notably the high interest rates inevitably attached to such a PFI scheme.  It’s a beautiful Central Library alright.  However, only 40% of those consulted say that they will use it if their local branch closes so it’s beauty may be lost on the local people of Liverpool.

In these times of tighter budgets, we should be looking at all ways of reducing spending.  One of the ideas I’ve seen raised from time to time is the idea of dynamic or floating stock, where stock has no “home” branch as such.  Such a system can save on transport and staff time but I’ve seen no real research done on the system in practice.  I’ve put together a brief description, pros and cons and a case study on a new page here if you’re interested.

I have been asked if I know of any requests for interventions in library cuts made to the DCMS/Secretary of State. We already know about the requests in Brent, Isle of Wight, Lewisham, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Doncaster and Bolton but would be very interested to hear of any more.  Thank you.

Please email ianlibrarian@live.co.uk with news, comments, ideas or queries. Thank you.

Liverpool cuts

“We all know that times are tough. Central government has slashed the funding to councils and Liverpool has felt the cuts keenly. But libraries should be one of the very last things to go. I’d run the council out of a Portakabin (other modular and temporary building solutions are available) before I’d see libraries close their doors.” Jade Wright

  • Closing the libraries – A Sense of Place. Although clear reasons have been given for the cuts, “this is a shockingly painful proposal and means that between Central Library and Norris Green/Croxteth there could be no other libraries in the north of the city.” … “the cause of all of this is not local, it’s not even simply national. It is one result of all of the major players in the global economy deciding that the bailing out of their corrupt banking system will be achieved by foisting ‘austerity’ on the people of their nations.”
  • Final chapter for 11 city libraries – Liverpool Confidential. “The fact more than half are closing will come as a shock, and a bitter blow to many communities. Mayor Anderson told Liverpool Confidential it will still leave a library no further than a maximum two miles from any household or workplace in the city.” … “It seems Liverpool, which includes some of the UK’s most socially deprived communities, will become book-free zone for many, with not a single library close by.” … “45 per cent of customers use Central Library, and 40 per cent of those consulted said they would use this library if their local library closed.”
  • Revealed: Liverpool’s 11 libraries at risk of closure are named – Liverpool Echo.  Includes map showing which branches will close and which will stay open. Long article including quotes from the different political parties, notably the Greens.
  • Simon Hoban – BBC Radio Merseyside. Lead story on news. “We’ve tried to come up with a proposal that obviously everyone’s going to hate.  It’s something that we feel, you know, people are going to welcome” says Mayor Joe Anderson. Looking at volunteers taking over libraries. Left with no choice due to £156m cut on top of over £100m already lost.  If libraries aren’t cut, others (like children’s services) will need to be cut more. Mayor Anderson: 1 hr and 01:58 mins in, and Alan Gibbons:  1 hr and 09:00 mins in
  • Mayoral recommendation – Liverpool City Council.  The source document for the proposed cuts.


  • Academics fear for Warburg Institute’s London library, saved from the Nazis – Guardian. “The protesters are suspicious of a legal action launched by the university – the result is due in the autumn – seeking to clarify the terms of a trust deed signed in 1944 which committed it to caring for the collection “in perpetuity”. Members of the Warburg family are understood to have indicated that they would be happy to return the collection to Germany, or transfer it to the US, in order to preserve its independence. The Warburg is believed to be running at a substantial deficit, which critics believe is largely because the university increased the buildings charge for its premises some years ago.”
  • David Cameron backs prisoners’ reading restrictions – Guardian. “Cameron has now written a letter (PDF) stating that “there is statutory library provision for every prison”, and that “should a prisoner wish to have access to a book not available in the library they can put in a request for it to be supplied”.”
  • Fight for your right to read – RS21. “It is the fiftieth anniversary of the public library service. This should be a cause for celebration. Libraries have some of the highest approval ratings of any public service. In the eyes of the public they rate second only to the NHS as the most popular component of modern, state-funded provision. It is hardly surprising. Libraries are a truly democratic system, opening the doors of literacy and opportunity to rich and poor alike.”

“So why is the situation still so dire? Firstly, there is no major political party throwing its weight behind the defence of public service in general and libraries in particular. The Lib Dems continue to slavishly support every Tory cut and vociferously support the austerity con. Labour has signally failed to develop an independent policy on libraries. In a recent love-in on the Sunday Politics the Labour and Tory MPs responded to my arguments with identical points of view. The spectacle was truly sickening. Secondly, while the trade union movement has continued to be relatively weak, with librarians working in small, isolated units, strike action has been extremely limited. Librarians are notoriously not allowed to exhibit campaign materials in their libraries … The campaign to protect the public library service has been popular, vociferous and highly successful in getting its points across in the media. It can’t inoculate itself from the weaknesses of the wider anti-austerity movement however. Until there is a return of generalized working class resistance, we will have to continue our bitter war of attrition against a confident and arrogant opponent.” Alan Gibbons


  • 23 of the most creatively designed Little Free Libraries – Mother Nature News (USA). Some good designs here.
  • Code of Conduct Survey Results: Your StoriesThe Magpie Librarian: A Librarian’s Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette (USA).  A look at numerous incidents at librarian conferences in the USA. The read The Creepy Librarian – Librarian in Black – for yet more horror. [Makes me ashamed to be male, some of this – Ed.]
  • Connecticut school systems ranked 13th best in U.S. – WIlton Bulletin (USA). “Number of public libraries and visits.” is one of the criteria of school system quality.
  • This Librarian Is Not Impressed With Your Digital, No-Books Library – Next City (USA). “I’m young for a librarian — 34 in a field where the median age is over 50. It should go without saying then that I’m not the least bit afraid of technology.” … “Digital evangelism has lulled many of us into what I think ought to be an embarrassingly anti-intellectual comfort zone … It is a mistake to assume that because of all of the reading on screens that we do these days that libraries are undergoing some sort of seismic shift. Or that they must” … “Honestly, sometimes very little of gravity is happening on those computer terminals in urban libraries anyway. It’s often a lot of socializing on Facebook”
  • Public Library Wants To Be Your Office – Fast Company (USA). “Shoving books aside to create community-centered coworking spaces doesn’t sit well with some library loyalists.” … “For the growing ranks of freelancers whose alternatives range from a cramped corner of their bedroom to a $500-a-month, private coworking space, the new library work zones are a boon. Decked out with fast Internet, 3-D printers, meeting rooms, whiteboards, and plenty of space to spread out, they’re much better suited to getting work done than jostling for counter space at a noisy coffee shop.” but ““It’s valid for libraries to have workspaces in them,” says Michael White of the advocacy group Citizens Defending Libraries, which joined the suit against NYPL, “but taking a library and just making a Starbucks out of it is really duplicating what we are going to have tons of anyway.”
  • Public turns out in force for branch libraries – La Crosse Tribune (USA). “A crowd at least 200 strong so packed the South Community Library – targeted for closure last year – the board had to shift from a back room to the library space itself midway through the meeting. All but one of the roughly 40 who spoke told the board they consider the north and south branch libraries vital to their neighborhoods, a safe gathering place for children or seniors that’s close enough to walk or bike, unlike the main library downtown”

National UK news

  • Devon – Friends of Northam Library fight continues – North Devon Journal. “The consultation into the fate of North Devon libraries has ended, with a 500-strong petition to save Northam Library handed over to the county council”.  Chairman of Friends says “It appears that there is room for savings within the financial figures for Northam Library; these will require discussion with the appropriate people within the library service. We are also considering several ways to raise funds for Northam Library; again this will require discussion with the appropriate people within the library service.”
  • Hull – Residents save Holderness Road library as Hull City Council announces U-turn – Hull Daily Mail. “In July, the Mail revealed the east Hull library was earmarked for closure as part of a £320,000 programme of budget cuts, but today the council has announced a U-turn on the issue. Councillor Terry Geraghty confirmed last night that, instead of an immediate closure, the council will enter a consultation process with residents to reduce the library’s opening hours. Earlier this week, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors in Drypool launched separate petitions to stop the closure of the library.”
  • Islington – Scaremongers’ attacked over libraries and swimming pools closure fears – Islington Tribune. “report, saying it was “hardly worth the paper it was written on”. He accused political opponents of “scaremongering” and described its contents as “the worst-case scenario which we are working hard to avoid”. The report, seen by the Tribune, is believed to be part of a “kite-flying” exercise. While not going as far as to pledge that no libraries would close, Cllr Watts said that the report was a draft, that no decisions had been made and that the Town Hall intended to “if anything expand the library service”. Officials are working up a new library plan, which may see the service overhauled.” … “The report, drawn up by officers, says that savings could be made from the closure of Cally pool, by shutting half of the borough’s 10 libraries, closing Gillespie Park Ecology Centre and scrapping the pensioner Plusbus service.”
  • Kirklees – Hundreds sign petition to save Spen Valley library from closure – Telegraph and Argus. “more than 800 people have signed a petition to save a library from closure in the Spen Valley. And more than 600 of the names were gathered in the first two days of the campaign, which was started by ward councillors” …  Labour candidate says “If these buildings close they will be lost forever, we will never get them back. They will be quickly sold off and converted into something else. “No-one wants to see this and we can’t allow it to happen. “Uniquely in Batley and Spen, our library services are enhanced hugely by their buildings.”
  • Liverpool – Pete Wylie pulls out of Liverpool International Music Festival over library closures and G4S Israel links – Liverpool Echo. “In a statement on Facebook this morning, Mighty Wah! founder Wylie said he could no longer work with Liverpool council thanks to its work with G4S and this week’s proposal to close 11 libraries.”

“As a musician and artist I absolutely condemn the proposed closures of 11 of Liverpool’s 18 libraries. This is a move that is in direct opposition to the ethos of a creative festival, and I cannot subscribe to the utter hyprocrisy that all is well and thriving in a city that sees fit to destroy the essential educational, social and cultural service that the libraries provide. Liverpool council’s desire to show a positive public image conflicts absolutely with the policies it adopts at grass roots level, which show no regard for the actual fundamental needs of the city.” Pete Wylie

  • Suffolk – Post Office confirm Stradbroke branch to open in October – Diss Express. “Stradbroke residents have been forced to travel to Horham, two miles away, for similar Post Office services. But a spokesperson has confirmed the new branch, which will be housed in the library in Queens Street, will open its doors for the first time on Tuesday, October 14, at 1pm.”