It is good to see the success of the Books on Prescription scheme.  Public libraries sorely need national publicity campaigns and resources, as well as alliances with major partners, and it doesn’t get much bigger than the NHS. I know from direct personal experience how useful it is to be able to have the right book at hand to answer a problem from an, often ill and worried, member of the public so this is all good.  It need not stop there of course.  We need to work ever closer with the health profession to provide easy access to information (online as well as print) and staff need to be trained in how best to deal with the, often tricky, situations that this field presents.  As such, I’m looking forward to doing the Public library Universal Information Offers (shortened to the Italian sounding PLUIO) training over the next few weeks. This is going to take a while for all of the short-staffed libraries to do but, heaven knows, we don’t get enough training so it’s something to cherish.  I hope it lives up to my expectations.

Finally, the names of the councils under the “changes” sections are increasingly like old acquaintances, although it is worth pointing out that the cuts have already been announced earlier and these are merely more information.  These are councils who have already seriously cut their budgets once in the last few short years and are now doing it all over again. Havering already have 380 volunteers and so confidently expect to be able to replace the 50 (out of 94) paid staff that it will be losing.  My rule of thumb with such things is that you need between five and ten volunteers to replace one paid full timer so let’s hope there’s at least two to three hundred more people in that borough fancying working in a library. Getting them all trained on PLUIO is going to take a while too.



  • Books on prescription – CILIP. “The scheme has reached 275,000 people with accredited self-help reading: 0.7% of the adult population of England.  Book loans of core list titles have increased by 113%. While it is being used regularly by around 7,000 health professionals, 80% of service users sampled self-referred, often by picking up a leaflet in the library. “.  Includes Devon case study
  • Government may intervene in volunteer takeover of Sheffield libraries Public Sector Executive. “The government may hold a local public inquiry into the decision by Sheffield City Council to turn over the running of half the city’s libraries to community volunteers following funding cuts. Culture minister Ed Vaizey recently wrote to the leader of Sheffield council, Julie Dore, to request information on how it was planning to implement the £1.6m funding cuts to its libraries … Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, will review the authority’s response to the request for more details before deciding whether to initiate a local public inquiry at the end of the month.  Vaizey wrote: “The secretary of state’s present position is that there is insufficient information to enable him to decide whether a local inquiry is necessary to resolve any real doubt or uncertainty about whether the council is complying with its statutory duty.”
  • Librarians given panic rooms to shield themselves from angry members of the public – Mirror. “Under-pressure staff have been faced with frustrated claimants challenging reductions in council tax or housing help – and local authority bosses have stepped in to protect their workers. It comes as the unemployed flock to libraries across Britain to use computers so they can fill-in online forms and look for jobs.” … ““People turn up at the end of their tether. Prices are going up and their benefits are being cut and they can’t understand why, so naturally they get upset.” see also previous article in Guardian – Public service workers will have to become Jacks and Jills of all trades .

“Unison’s head of local government Heather Wakefield said: “It is completely unacceptable that front line library staff are being forced to bear the brunt of public anger at the government’s welfare changes. “The fact that library staff are regularly reporting incidents of verbal abuse from service users and even threats of violence shows just how hard Government cuts are biting.”

  • Libraries impact on mental health – loans of Reading Well Books on Prescription titles double in first year – Society of Chief Librarians / Reading Agency. “Loans of self-help books in the ground-breaking scheme have more than doubled it was announced today for World Mental Health Day.  Launched in June 2013, the first national Books on Prescription scheme in England has reached around 275,000 people with book-based therapy for common mental health conditions available from public libraries. It has played an important role in helping to meet the huge need for mental health support. Recent figures indicate there are around 8 million people in England suffering from anxiety or depression alone, and three quarters of this group may not be receiving treatment. In a very successful first year, Reading Well Books on Prescription has been endorsed by the public as well as by GPs, mental health professionals and Government ministers as a helpful community-based mental health service. “

“Libraries are an important feature in all communities, providing trusted, safe and valued places where people can find advice and information that can help people in so many parts of their lives. It’s great to hear that library book loans in this incredibly innovative scheme have doubled and I look forward to more good news about its success in 2015.” Ed Vaizey

  • Library A to Z: free promo material & launch details #LibraryAtoZ – Information Twist. “The launch of the Library A to Z will happen during the week 17th – 22nd November, when we will send packs including copies of books and other materials to local, national and international politicians. The aim of this action is to highlight the continued importance and value of library services, to encourage continued investment. Prior to this we will also be sending out packs and a press-release to media organisations. In preparation for this launch we are asking if you could help us get the message out there in any of the following ways …”
  • Regency Libraries – Linda Banche.  A look at the London subscription libraries of the Regency period.


“extending grace on the frontlines of humanity, whether in the pews or in the stacks, is a challenge worth taking.”

UK local news by authority

  • Cornwall – Parish and town councils set to struggle under burden of ‘devolved’ services as Cornwall Council bids to cut costs – Cornish Guardian. “Other services that could be devolved to the parishes include libraries, grass-cutting and open space maintenance, while some services – such as adult social care, children’s services and waste collection have been confirmed as remaining with Cornwall Council.”
  • Havering – Who will be affected by Havering’s culture cuts? – Romford Recorder. “A hefty £1.14million is hoped to be saved from the library service. The proposals would see all 10 of the borough’s libraries remain open, but with six of them slashing opening hours by half to 25. The council wants volunteers to play a “more significant role” in delivering the services, including the housebound service, the reader development team and the local studies and family history service. Of the 94 library staff, 50 will lose their jobs, including 23 of the 53 full time workers.”

“On the possibility of a lack of volunteers, and what that would mean, Cllr Wallace said: “We have 380 volunteers at the moment, that’s 38 per library. We are very confident we’ll find them.” A 50p charge for one hours use of a library computer is also proposed. The machines are used by members of the community to apply for jobs, and by residents who do not have computers at home. Cllr Wallace said: “50p for an hour, what’s a fizzy drink price? It’s the same price as a fizzy drink.”

  • Herefordshire – Presiding over library shambles – Hereford Times. “Herefordshire County Libraries had an international reputation and hosted many British Council librarians to study its method … I feel sorry for the professional librarians who are being required by their political masters to preside over a shambles. While volunteers may have a place, for example in providing a service like delivering books to the disabled, they should not be replacing professionals.”
  • Hertfordshire – Have your say on the new strategy for Hertfordshire Library Service – Hertfordshire Council.  Consultation document.  [Reports are being received of very little publicity within branches of these cuts, including unstaffing 17 out of 46 of them – Ed.]
  • Leeds – Reduced opening times for libraries on the cards – Morley Observer and Advertiser. “Results of a recent public consultation regarding possible changes will be discussed along with subsequent recommendations setting out proposed new opening hours, which if agreed, will commence on Monday December 1 2014. The network of 36 libraries is set to stay as it was and no library closures are proposed in the report. “
  • Leeds – YEP Says, October 9: Libraries must start new chapter to get us through their doors – Yorkshire Evening Post. “People care deeply about their public libraries. The key question, however, is whether they use them enough to justify them staying open … The local library is a precious resource and often a focal point of local communities, but more can and should be done to encourage people to use them. If your library had the feel of a friendly bookshop or cosy coffee house and more going on, wouldn’t you be more inclined to pay a visit?”
  • Leicestershire – Meeting to recruit library helpers – Loughborough Echo. “The chair of BUSCA (Barrow Community Association) Judith Rodgers, told the Echo: “Barrow’s library is currently under threat of closure unless volunteers come forward to take it over as a community project. “This is also true for other rural libraries in Leicestershire. The county council is currently considering the details of a Community Partnership that might be offered to assist groups of volunteers to achieve take-over”
  • Lincolnshire – Grantham Journal column: These are cuts we can’t afford to make, says Labour councillor Charmaine Morgan – Grantham Journal. “More investment is needed in science and we need more scientists. The inspiration for children and adults alike can be found on the shelves of a library, or by providing ready access for all to the internet. These cuts are a false economy. They are cuts we cannot afford to make.”
  • Lincolnshire – Letter: Lincolnshire council can save money by binning County News – Horncastle News.
  • Lincolnshire – Share your library ideas – Sleaford Standard. ““The views that were shared have been heard loud and clear, and will again be taken into consideration in making a fresh decision. This period of consultation is another opportunity for people to put forward alternative ideas for providing a comprehensive and efficient library service within the available budget.” The consultation runs until October 31. Submit your proposals by filling in the online form at www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.”

“So, if there’s only tuppence in a budget that’s been approved – you just have to lump it and invent impossible ideas as to how to eke it out?” Shirley Burnham questioning the legal basis of deciding on budget first then on the service that can be statutorily provided from it.

  • Liverpool – Writers join fight to save Liverpool’s libraries – Guardian. “David Nicholls, Caitlin Moran, Malorie Blackman and Carol Ann Duffy are just a handful of the major literary names who have put their signatures to a “love letter” to Liverpool’s threatened libraries. With Liverpool council planning to cut £2.5m from its library service following a 58% cut in government funding, 11 of the authority’s 18 libraries are facing closure, and Merseyside authors Cathy Cassidy and Alan Gibbons are spearheading a campaign to protest the plans. They have won the support of more than 500 names ranging from Barbara Taylor Bradford to David Almond, Jonathan Coe, Michael Holroyd and Philip Ardagh.”

“I was gutted to hear that 11 much-loved libraries are likely to be closed … that’s not so much cuts as a massacre, and I fear Liverpool may never recover. As a child I had very few books of my own, but I did have a library card – libraries opened so many doors for me. Library cuts affect all of us … they are slamming shut the doors of opportunity, learning, imagination.” Cathy Cassidy