The Arts Council England chief, Sir Peter Bazalgette, visited the site of a new combined library/theatre/cinema in Chester and called it a “poster child” for showing what Arts and Culture can do to “turbo-charge” its neighbourhood.  He also points out the synergy of having all the Arts users, including library members in one place with all the cross-selling that that implies. I’ve noted interest in the project from around the world in the past.  It’s a strange one for me as it’s in my own library authority (and I don’t like reporting on that for obvious reasons) but it does look like something which could have national implications. Not least because Sir Peter holds quite a large budget and has libraries under his remit.

Major cuts in Barnet are being proposed with several options listed that could close or turn volunteer half of the branches. Two items of note on this one: the first is that the report notes that they have less volunteers than other councils and it’s time to catch up and the second is the suggestion that they rent out library car park spaces.  Both have some interesting implications. Walsall have also announced major cuts but, I guess, car parking spaces are less of a premium there.



  • Streetlife – A social media site that encourages local communities and can provide free advertising for libraries.
  • Renting out parking space in library car parks – Barnet.

National news

  • Early bird booking for #SUFLconf14 closes on Friday 24 October – Speak Up For Libraries. “Speak Up for Libraries are holding this year’s national conference on public libraries on 22 November in central London.  It will bring together local campaigners, union members, library users and library workers – and give them a rare chance to talk directly to the people who make the decisions at national level. This is crunch year for public libraries, with a general election due and two major inquiries – on England and Wales – reporting soon.”
  • Extremism, nudge theory and access to information  – Infoism. “As the government ‘nudges’ individuals towards a predetermined ‘norm’, so we face greater threats in terms of access to information and free expression. As public libraries face de-professionalisation, they become vulnerable to environmental shifts that are hostile to the core ethics of the professional librarian (ie the free and open exchange of information, without prejudice). This nudging towards a norm limits free expression, debate and access to information. The impact of nudging people towards this government approved norm extends beyond public libraries and towards higher education. Cynical efforts to create ‘acceptable’ terms of opinion and public discourse ultimately limits individual freedoms and threatens to restrict our exposure to non-mainstream ideas (with all the dangers that entails). The consequences of government ‘nudging’ us towards what it defines as civil engagement (with apparent due deference to our democratic system) will lead to greater censorship and a restriction on free expression. Not only does this threaten our individual liberties, but it is also a threat to the values that librarians seek to defend and consequently threatens the existence of any meaningful library service.”
  • First ever Chatterbooks Week boosts number of Chatterbooks reading groups to over 1,000 – Reading Agency (press release). “Top children’s authors Guy Bass, Ali Sparkes and Steve Cole  joined publishers, librarians and educationalists today to mark the success of the first-ever Chatterbooks Week (11-18 October), and all the fun to be had via national charity The Reading Agency’s ever-growing network of Chatterbooks reading groups for children. Guy Bass, Ali Sparkes and Steve Cole are all official champions for Chatterbooks, the UK’s largest, liveliest network of children’s reading groups. They were among guests invited to the Free Word Centre in central London, home of The Reading Agency, to celebrate Chatterbooks Week highlights and its success in encouraging new groups to set up in schools and libraries.”



  • Edge conference – 5th and 6th March 2015, Edinburgh. Some interesting speakers including concentrations on physical, social and digital.

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Children, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committee – Barnet Council.  Options to be considered to cut £2.85m from 2015/20.  Closures or volunteer options for up to 7 out of 15, outsourcing, renting out of space inc. car parks.
  • Cheshire West and Chester – £37m Chester theatre project praised by Arts Council chairman – Chester Chronicle. “The vision that everybody behind this project has for the library is that it’s a place where you not only come to borrow books – and a place where you get internet access – but it’s a place you can buy tickets. “The most exciting thing about that vision, which we haven’t yet realised in this country, is that libraries hold the most data about the arts and cultural tastes of citizens of the United Kingdom but we’ve never connected that data, consensually, to the performing arts. “Think of the power of connecting those pieces of information together because it means you can market all your arts and cultural events to the people who are going to like them, because you know what their tastes are, because you know what their reading tastes are. And that prospect is opened up by the merger of those two things so it’s a really powerful, modern, forward-thinking vision.””

“Describing RE:NEW as the “poster child” for how arts and culture can “turbo-charge” a locality, Sir Peter commented: “RE:NEW is project of immense ambition. It’s really exciting, one of the most exciting projects in England at the moment. The reason is that it involves a massive investment by the borough council and commitment to creating a whole new arts centre. “You have a library in it, a cinema in it, it has performing spaces in it and this is the sort of thing that proves that arts and culture can regenerate a city, regenerate a locality, improve quality of life, be a magnet for tourism, develop talent to feed through to the creative industries. It’s all those things that this RE:NEW project could deliver.” Sir Peter Bazalgette, Arts Council England.

  • Cornwall – Cornwall Council looks to parishes and volunteers to run libraries – Cornish Guardian. “Adam Paynter, the Council’s Cabinet member for partnerships, said: “We are keen to work with town and parish councils on devolving a range of services, including libraries. We will be contacting all town councils across Cornwall to discuss the possibility of them taking over responsibility for their local library, but this is being done gradually over the next two years because of capacity to do the work.”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Fighting to stop library closure – South London Press. “Upper Norwood Library, in Westow Hill, Crystal Palace, has had to make five redundancies and cut its opening days down to three a week as Lambeth and Croydon councils – who jointly supply the funding – cut £40,000 and £120,000 following the last general election. A meeting to discuss the funding gap was held by the Upper Norwood Library Trust, the group that has been fighting to keep the library open. ” see also Library to get £47,500 extra from Croydon Council  – Election pledge honoured – Upper Norwood Library Trust. “Cllr Timothy Godfrey, Croydon council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport,
    honouring an election pledge to match fund Lambeth council’s contribution to the library, was applauded as he made the announcement in the Upper Norwood Methodist church on Westow Hill. The money will cover the last six months of the current financial year to March 31st 2015.”

“Now that Bromley council has snuffed out Anerley Library the nearest place children can get books is here. “With cuts to other libraries the next major library would be Penge – essentially children would no longer be able to read.”

  • Derbyshire – Column: Derbyshire County Council Leader Anne Western hits out at Prime Minister – Ilkeston Advertiser. “Using volunteers to run public services is Cameron’s Big Society idea. But is it really what we want? There’s much more to running a library service than the ability to stack shelves in alphabetical order. But just as we’ve seen the professionalism of teachers and doctors attacked by this government, now it’s librarians.So rather than try to pretend it’s not happening, or keep blaming other people, it’s time the Prime Minister took responsibility.”
  • Devon – Axminster: Councillors clash over library jibe – View from online. “It emerged that the county councillor responsible for libraries, Roger Croad, had apologised for failing to respond to a letter from campaign group Support For Axminster Library. The failure to respond to the letter had really annoyed campaigners, so much so that a cartoon depicting councillor Croad appeared on its Facebook page with a chunk of text along the lines of: “You are a naughty boy Mr Croad, your dog ate my letter.” “
  • Leeds – £100m of Leeds council’s assets will be sold off – Yorkshire Evening Post. “The council’s property portfolio, valued at around £8 billion, includes around 9,700 hectares of land, and 59,000 individual properties including council homes and schools. It also includes the Town Hall, venues such as the Arena and community facilities, parks, offices, libraries and sports centres.”
  • Lincolnshire – Deadline approaching for consultation on libraries – Sleaford Standard. “One suggestion was to get rid of library buildings altogether and just provide a mobile service in all areas. “We’ve also had a number people saying we should charge for books. However, that’s something we’re not allowed to do under law. “There’s still time to share your ideas, but the deadline is looming. So if you want to put forward a proposal, please complete the survey.””
  • Liverpool – Liverpool-born English professors write to Mayor urging rethink on library closures – Liverpool Echo. “Seven leading academics in the study of English have added their voice to the campaign to save 11 of Liverpool’s libraries from closure. The Liverpool-born professors, who used the city’s libraries as children, wrote a joint letter to the Mayor of Liverpool to condemn the proposals. Their letter comes after poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, columnist Caitlin Moran and other prominent literary figures also backed calls to keep libraries open earlier this month.”
  • Powys – Libraries to cut hours as cuts bite – News North Wales. “Earlier this year the council considered the future of libraries and offered the public three options over how to manage them. One option, which has now been rejected following the consultation, was to close 11 out of 18 of Powys’ libraries and another would have seen five close. The option now put forward by the cabinet is to reduce opening hours by 20 per cent and move the mobile library from fortnightly to monthly.”
  • Sheffield – Sheffield library reopened on 30th anniversary – Star. Lord Mayor of Sheffield reopens Ecclesfield Library as volunteer.
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire library volunteers need support from staff, Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy claims – Stoke Sentinel. “Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy says any volunteers who take on a library would need to be supported by trained staff. In his response to the council’s consultation on the plans, Mr Lefroy said: “For the concept of Local libraries to work, they must receive proper support from county library staff. While this does not necessarily mean a full-time presence, I do not believe that they can thrive on volunteers alone. I would therefore recommend that local libraries be run at the very least as a partnership or joint venture between a local community organisation and the county.”
  • St Helens – Miffy: competition-winning visits to St Helens libraries announced – Reading Agency. “Young library users in St Helens on Merseyside will be treated to a host of special visits from worldwide favourite children’s book character Miffy the rabbit during the October school half term holidays. This follows a library staff member entering and winning a UK-wide competition organised by national charity The Reading Agency and Simon & Schuster, publishers of updated translations of the classic Miffy stories.”
  • Trafford – Town hall chiefs to discuss Trafford budget cuts of £24m – Manchester Evening News. “Plans could see 199 council jobs go, the closure of most of the borough’s remaining children and youth centres, £700,000 cut from the library service, a third of Trafford’s 97 school crossing patrols scrapped, council-sponsored school holiday activities axed – saving £377,000 and car parking fees increased.”.  Labout councillor says ““It looks as though many libraries will close. It’s dreadful. We’ll fight as hard as well can to stop these cuts. All these proposals will cost more in the long term.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Vale of Glamorgan library cuts plan sparks Rhoose community campaign – Wales Online. “Rhoose library is one of several in the Vale of Glamorgan where it is proposed to replace staff with volunteers … Chris Economides, chairman of the Save Rhoose Library campaign, said: “The rationale given by the council simply doesn’t make sense to anyone in Rhoose. “Rhoose was only added to the list of libraries to be significantly downgraded at the last minute. We’ve yet to have any clear explanation of who made that decision and on what basis.”
  • Walsall – ‘Most horrific cuts’ at Walsall Council as authority must save £86m – Walsall Advertiser. “Hundreds of jobs will be lost and 12 children’s centres, eight libraries and a museum will close over the next four years, under plans described as the most horrific cuts to ever hit Walsall Council. It comes as the authority has to save £86 million by March 2019 – including £29.2 million in the next year alone.” see also Walsall Council warns of job cuts and library closures – BBC.
  • Wirral – Pay rise could be on the cards as Wirral starts search for new chief executive – Liverpool Echo. ““I cannot see how we can justify increasing the salary at the same time we are looking at making savage cuts to key services such as lollipop men and women, libraries and closing a school like Lyndale.”