Judicial reviews are a key part of the library campaigner arsenal, even if they may be viewed with dread by senior council staff. To my view, the threat of a review keep, at a basic level, councils honest.  Sometimes, councils, especially in the safest of safe seats (although, admittedly, the rise of UKIP is throwing all this into doubt) can look like an elective dictatorship rather than a democracy.  In a world of hands off central government (well, apart form brutally cutting budgets and then saying “go play”), the judicial review can be the only real way that the public can intervene in council decisions.  It makes sure that councils abide by the letter (if not the spirit) of the law and it means that consultations, just occasionally, are consultations rather than merely a way of telling the public what is going to happen.  It also means that several library services have, to a greater or lesser extent, been saved from the most over dramatic of cuts.  It is therefore good news that the House of Lords has thrown out Grayling’s (he of the ban on books in prison) attempt to severely restrict judicial reviews.  Long live democracy, even if it occasionally has to be saved by peers.

A lot of changes today, including the announcement of cuts at Bristol, Denibighshire, Gateshead and Hartlepool. Suffolk, very much the flavour of the month (possibly the year) in UK library circles bucks the depression with an ACE grant and a new business centre.  Success breeds success and Suffolk is gaining from that.  The aim must be for all of the sector to do the same, with William Sieghart expected to publish his report over the next month or so (and expected to laud Suffolk to the rafters) we can hope to share some of the pixie dust.  In the meantime, read the “ode to libraries” by Wendy Maddour.



The library was my ‘Faraway Tree’: I’d climb its branches and know that it would always take me somewhere new. It was my passport and the place of my dreams.”

  • House of Lords votes against Grayling’s plans to restrict judicial review access – Guardian. “Peers voted by 247 to 181, a majority of 66, to ensure that the judges keep their discretion over whether they can hear judicial review applications after a warning from a former lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, that the alternative amounted to an ‘elective dictatorship’. “It’s dangerous to go down the line of telling the judges what they have to do,” he told peers. Peers who voted against the government included the former Conservative cabinet minister John Selwyn-Gummer, who sits as Lord Deben, the former Tory chancellor Lord Howe, and 17 Liberal Democrat peers, including the former party leader, Lord Steel, and Baroness Williams, who said they were very troubled by the proposals.”

“Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, responding to the government defeat, said: “This is a humiliating slapdown for the government. These changes would have weakened judicial review, and would have placed the government above the law. This was a massive grab for power which is why Labour voted against. Judicial review is a crucial tool for the British people to hold to account the actions of those in positions of power and responsibility.”

  • Parks and leisure centres under threat as ageing population swallows council budgets – Telegraph. “Thousands of libraries, parks and leisure centres could come under threat as councils are forced to consider unprecedented cuts to prevent the elderly care system collapsing, town hall chiefs are warning” … “In order to plug the gap, councils are likely to cut spending on services such as parks and libraries from £26.6 billion at the start of the austerity programme to just £15 billion by 2020 – a drop of 44 per cent. “


  • 7 Things Librarians Are Tired of Hearing – OEDB (USA). Some very familiar and amusing quotes from people when they first hear that one is a librarian [why is no-one ever says number four to me? – Ed.]
  • Do we still need public libraries? and an Interview with Azar Nafisi, Best-selling Author, Essayist and Academic – A question of balance (USA). Writer of “Reading Lolita in Tehran” and other people give their views.
  • Libraries are busy, active culture centers, still relevant and thriving – Central Maine (USA). “We serve hundreds of people each week at the Bailey Public Library in Winthrop. We get lines of people at the circulation desk similar to to the ones in a store. Sometimes, people ask, “Why are people using the library’s parking spots?” Answer: Because they are using the library.”: 8 reasons why libraries are busy and thriving,
  • What Book Should You Read Next? Putting Librarians And Algorithms To The Test – Fast Coexist (USA).  A look at the Brooklyn Public Library’s personal “BookMatch” book recommendation system, comparing it to Amazon and Goodreads and other services. “The real difference, then, between the library’s BookMatch service and a site like Amazon or Netflix may be less about the method and more about the motive. One is commercial, the other is not. Both want to recommend books people will like–but the commercial interest is to sell more books and the calculations behind that are not transparent to the user. Librarians, says David Weinberger, the recent co-director of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, are “unreservedly” on the side of the reader, and often attempt to expand the reader’s interests and stretch his worldview.”


  • CILIP Conference 2015 – 2-3 July 2015 in Liverpool. “Following on from the success of CILIP’s Umbrella Conference 2013 in Manchester, we are pleased to announce that the call for papers for the CILIP Conference 2015 is now open. The conference will take place on 2-3 July 2015 at St George’s Hall, Liverpool.  The 2015 conference will seek to inspire our audience, share knowledge, raise debate and provide networking opportunities. It will cover a broad range of issues from across the library, information and knowledge professions”

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Library proposals ‘deeply worrying’ – Hendon and Finchley Times. “People from across the borough have expressed concerns over the future of Barnet’s libraries … Alasdair Hill, 29, who lives in Daws Lane, Mill Hill, said the proposals were “deeply worrying”. He added: “As a father to a young daughter I use the library frequently for services that go beyond books. Libraries are vital hubs in the community that provide many amenities including play events for toddlers, internet access to local citizens and a place to study for our pupils and students.”
  • Bristol – Final chapter? Some Bristol libraries could close in bid to save £1 million – Bristol Post. “the sad fact is that just not enough people are using them these days. The number of active library members in Bristol is only 66,000 which means they are only being used regularly by about one in seven of us – and about a third of users are aged over 60. Bristol Mayor George Ferguson is expected to kick-start a citywide review of the library service at his next cabinet meeting on Tuesday with the aim of saving £1.1 million by April, 2016. A report to the meeting by Kate Murray, head of libraries, says: “We currently have 28 libraries. It is possible that this saving may impact on the number of libraries, number of staff, available stock and services.” see also Bristol library consultation to begin – BBC and Bristol people asked to help decide on cuts to libraries – ITV.

“Shut them. Seriously, in this day and age there are cheaper and better ways to access the written word. Keep the central library open as an educational/historical resource. Shut the rest.” SteveGnomon comment on Bristol Post article.

  • Cornwall – St Just Library assurances as MP backs campaign against closure – Cornishman. “St Just Library is not at risk of closure “while the community are actively engaged in talks” with Cornwall Council, local councilor Sue James has assured people in the town. Cllr James and the Friends of St Just Library campaign group have been joined in their fight to save the library by West Cornwall MP Andrew George. Mr George took visiting peer Baroness Kate Parminter to the library at the weekend to highlight the plight of what he called “a vital service” for the St Just community.”
  • Cumbria – Barrow Central Library – Designing Libraries. “This 800 square metre library aimed for a look and feel that would embrace its traditional features and respect its historic surroundings. The library also wanted to modernise and improve the library services, which was equally important for the project.”
  • Denbighshire – Denbighshire council launches consultation over £17m cuts for next two years – Daily Post. “Other services which could be hit include tourist information centres, public toilets, school library services, the highways maintenance budget and some grants for children on low incomes for school uniforms.”.  £78k cut proposed, which would end school library service. £302k to stop council-run exhibitions in library galleries.
  • Derbyshire – Mobile libraries: Prime Minister under fire from Derbyshire County Council leader – Derby Telegraph. “David Cameron has been condemned by Derbyshire County Council leader Anne Western after the Prime Minister criticised her Labour group’s decision to axe eight mobile libraries. The PM said Mrs Western had “questions to answer” about why her administration was cutting front-line services. Derbyshire has a mobile library fleet of 10 vehicles – but this will be cut down to two, in a move to save £530,000 a year. The cut will mean that the service will only serve 150 communities instead of 383.”
  • Gateshead – Axe could fall again on Gateshead’s library service – Chronicle. “Plans are being floated by Gateshead Council to close all but five of its facilities as it attempts to slash £46m from its budget over the next two years … Previous budget cuts have already seen the council handing over five libraries to volunteer run organisations. Among the seven options presented to the public in its latest consultation is a plan to keep open only Gateshead Central Library, Blaydon, Birtley, Leam Lane and Whickham libraries with support from the Readers at Home Service and Mobile Library.
  • Hampshire – Hampshire facing cuts as county council tries to claw back millions – Get Hampshire. “The council is also looking to cut 27 full-time equivalent jobs from its library service as part of a package of measures, which include reducing the mobile library service in Hart and Rushmoor, ending the family library link service and closing three libraries in other parts of the county.”
  • Hartlepool – Hartlepool libraries set to feel the pinch as part of new council cuts – Hartlepool Mail. “No branch closures will be considered but Hartlepool Borough Council will look at reducing opening hours and branches potentially sharing facilities. Councillors agreed the scope of the review as the authority tries to find savings from within its Regeneration Division for 2015-16. The council needs to make budget cuts of around £14million for the next two financial years.”
  • Kirklees – Kirklees Council budget: Have your say on what the council should do with its money  – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Proposals range from the future of libraries and the music service, to the staffing of some services in the children and young people’s services, changes to some adult social care, subsidies to sport and transport, and debt and housing advice.”
  • Lewisham – Crofton Park Library Saved: Three Years On – News Shopper. “Over three years ago, local talk was littered with concern over the impending closure of Crofton Park Library as it was threatened with budget cuts by Lewisham Council, as well as four other libraries including those in Blackheath and Sydenham. ” … “the battle concluded with the social enterprise, Eco Communities, taking control over the Crofton Park, Sydenham and Grove Park libraries, and Blackheath’s library services being hosted by Age Exchange” … “Today, Crofton Park Library, just a stone’s throw away from the train station, is a phoenix that has risen from the point of near-closure and has flourished into a thriving hub of amenities for the public such as computer services, tuition and a wide choice of books for children to name but a few. “.  Café and booksale.

“none of this could be possible without the many public donations to the libraries of not just books, but also electrical appliances such as printers, televisions and computer monitors, which are all recycled in order to generate money for the library’s bills and to upkeep its day-to-day running.”

  • Lincolnshire – Presenting our case – Friends of Deepings Library. “LCC has asked a senior manager, Tony McGinty, to move from another service to take over Libraries and to steer the new consultation. This is good news, since it means that there is someone unconnected with the last fiasco who has charge of affairs from now on
  • Nottinghamshire – Booked up for summer – Nottingham Post. “9,611 children took part in the Summer Reading Challenge at county libraries during the six-week break. The yearly event encourages children to keep up the reading habit while they are not in school. Research shows it can help boost their confidence and literacy skills. Of those children, more than half – 5,329 to be exact – managed to complete the challenge of reading six books by the end of the holiday period”
  • Oxfordshire – Library lending helps Oxfordshire’s mental health sufferers – Oxford Times. “A LIBRARY scheme providing free books to residents battling mental health difficulties is proving a success across the county. Oxfordshire County Council launched the Books on Prescription scheme across six of its libraries in June 2013 and a further six in April this year. More than 1,000 residents suffering with mild to moderate mental health problems have borrowed the scheme’s self-help books.”
  • Suffolk – High-tech business centre to be created at Ipswich County Library to help fledgling entrepreneurs – Ipswich Star. “The arts library on the top floor of the building in Northgate Street is to be moved into the main library on the ground floor with some of the more specialist services like music manuscripts being held in reserve. The top floor will become a high-tech business centre providing services that newly self-employed people could not afford on their own.” … “The budget for buying new stock is ring-fenced and at about £1million a year, Suffolk has much more to spend than many other parts of the country.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk libraries gets arts boost – Haverhill Echo. “Suffolk Libraries has been awarded just over £99,000 by Arts Council England (ACE) to develop new arts opportunities in eight of the county’s libraries, with more to follow.” … “The money will be used to help establish an initial eight libraries as spaces where the arts can be enjoyed and experienced with a focus on projecting high quality recorded performances in the library. Some of the funding will be used for new equipment to enable libraries to provide events where digitally projected performances are shown to an audience.” … “The programme will also support library staff to become ‘community champions’ for the arts so they can encourage current and new customers to take part.”
  • Swindon – No time limit on borrowing books – Swindon Advertiser. Blundson: “Started last month, the new ‘book-swap’ service operates once a week and anyone, whether they are a library member or not, can take a book for as long as they want. There is a wide range of books on offer from children’s literature to autobiographies. All that is needed from borrowers is a contact number but there is no limit on when the book can be returned.” … “The council has funded the library as a way of extending its service for people who may not have easy access to borrowing.” … “The service is available every Thursday from 3pm until 6pm. “