So I grew up in Newport in South Wales.  Let’s be honest, it’s not a beautiful town and it’s not got any better since the philistine council ripped down the Chartist mural a short time ago. But I remember the one thing that made me go to that town centre regularly was the library.  My first trips were for the Asterix books and gazing wide-eyed at the lady’s hands as they moved in blurs over the Browne Issue cards set out in rows over a long line of tables.  Then, when I’d grown up a little more, I took the bus from Magor on my own and the central library provided me with thousands of friends and a chance to go into space, fight post-apocalypse monsters and command armies.  Girls were also involved, although sadly almost all in Heinlein novels. That last got me quite excited for a while but, anyway, the point here is that there was a big central library in Newport that was important to me.  So I read with sorrow and, frankly, anger that it may be under threat of closure.  It was never a beautiful building – a bit too brutalist 60s/70s for my taste and it smelt of concrete and cleaning fluid – but, damn it, the place held wonders. And now, due to what sounds like chronic underinvestment, they’re thinking of closing the place.  And one questions comes to my mind.  Since when did we decide that civilization was too expensive?

Anyway, the Guardian is finding lots of people who think that there should not be a price put on such things.  It looks like I have something in common with AL Kennedy, for instance … so I’ll leave her the last lines.

“Thank you for being the first place I realised how beautiful books were, how many books there were and for teaching me that they should all be available to me, that I could learn whatever I wanted and go wherever I wanted to in my mind. Thank you for opening the world to me.” AL Kennedy




  • A love of telling tales and tightrope walking – Herald Scotland. Joanne Harris interviewed. “She vehemently opposes the closure of libraries across the UK, railing against “the idiots who are behind this who are not going to be there to see the consequences”. Then she stops, laughs and looks around: “You can see I probably don’t need a library in terms of the amount of books I’ve got here but I do need it as a public resource. “I need it as a hub of the community. I go out to libraries, do events in libraries, it’s not just about a place where you have books, that’s a very naive interpretation.”
  • Advocacy pages – CILIPS. “This page contains links to resources and information concerned with advocacy and can be used or shared as required. We’re urging everyone to get active over the period between now and February 2015 when Councils will make final budget decisions. We will continue to update our website with details of further local authority proposals relating to libraries. However, if you are aware of any we have missed please let us know via e mail” see also Current local authority proposals and consultations – CILIPS.
  • An Incomplete Report on a Flawed Pilot Program Suggests that Library eBook Loans Don’t Drive Sales – Digital Reader. “There are some interesting conclusions here, but did you catch what was missing from the publicly available information? For one thing, a list of titles included in the pilot, and a list of the stores which were available via the libraries’ websites. There was also no mention on the possible effect that the library ebook loans may have had on sales in ebookstores elsewhere.”

“Another problem this report is that it says that there was no evidence of ebook lending leading to buying via a co-located buy button, but what the report doesn’t mention is that the pilot neglected to offer buying solutions that a library patron might actually want to use. I checked a few dozen titles, and the only retail option offered was Kobo (about half of the titles had no buying option at all).”

  • Love letters to libraries: AL Kennedy – Guardian. “During the week, we will be publishing letters that top authors have written. If you also want to share your appreciation for a library, you can do it here. AL Kennedy could not choose one library to which to dedicate the words below: “Oh, it’s a load of libraries – it would have to be …”
  • Love letters to libraries: Alexander McCall Smith – Guardian. “You have no computers – or none that I have seen. So many libraries today have become sheds for computers, with books being edged out, put away. You have none of that. Let books who are exiled by computers seek refuge here in your little reading room. You are there to receive them, to comfort them in a world that is turning against the book.”
    Public Library e-Lending Pilot Six Month Update – Publisher’s Association. “The year-long pilot project, being run in partnership by the Society of Chief Librarians and The Publishers Association, into remote lending of ebooks by public libraries has reached its half way mark and some trends have begun to emerge.” 893 ebook titles were submitted to be used in the pilot scheme. An interim analysis of the first six months appears to indicate:”

 “An overall growth in e-lending.  All four authorities have seen a significant increase in e-lending, with the pilot titles constituting a significant proportion of the overall e-book downloads.

 A longer loan period leads to more titles being borrowed. Longer lending periods (i.e. 21 days) appears to have led to a higher number of different titles being borrowed and more patrons joining the waiting lists.

No evidence of e-book lending leading to buying. There has been extremely low take up of the opportunity to buy the borrowed e-book through use of the “click to purchase” facility.

The increase in e-lending is not leading to a decrease in physical lending.  The participating libraries do not appear to have seen a decline in footfall or in the lending of physical books.”

  • Remote e-lending pilot project reveals half-year trends – BookSeller. “PA c.e.o Richard Mollet urged caution on reading too much into the early findings, saying  “there is still six months of the pilot to run.””
  • Scottish Book Trust calls for library card for every child – BBC News Scotland. “Every child in Scotland should be automatically enrolled in their local library, according to the director of the Scottish Book Trust. Marc Lambert made the call at the start of Book Week Scotland.” … “”Survival for libraries is not just a matter of meeting the technological changes of the digital age. Like any business, it’s about the relationship one has and the services one delivers to one’s customers.”

International news

  • An Interview with Scott Bonner, Ferguson Librarian – Magpie Librarian (USA). “I am not a smart enough person, or eloquent enough, to talk about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. I’m not even going to try. I will say that, as I’ve watched events unfold, I’ve been struck at how the community, and in some ways, the country, has come together to support the citizens of Ferguson. When I saw how the Ferguson Library became not only a safe space, but a source of real positivity and support, it made me want to be a better librarian. Not only did Ferguson library workers step up their game, but so did teachers and volunteers of all sorts. I wanted to know how, despite so much strife and conflict, the library seamlessly became a hub of strength and solace. I contacted Scott Bonner, a librarian at the Ferguson Library. He was nice enough to answer some questions.”

“Libraries, by default, usually are a safe space.  Much of what we did was just continue to operate normally, staying open and offering services while letting the community know we were there for them.  I did make a sign describing the library as a quiet oasis, partly because I believe it and partly as a gentle reminder to not bring any conflict inside.” Scott Bonner, Ferguson Librarian [and now my personal hero – Ed.]

  • The digital open source library of tomorrow – Open Sources (USA). “If we don’t expect more of libraries, we’re not going to see libraries change. We have to change the frame of mind that libraries belong the directors—they actually belong to the people and they should be serving the people.” … “Maybe instead of just books our funds should go to empower the community more in the technology arena. Maybe we should have co-working space in our library—this can be fee based even—and could be something as low as $30.00/month. That would be a way for libraries to help the unemployed and the community as a whole.”
  • Introducing library pipeline – In the Library with the Lead Pipe (USA). “We’re creating a nonprofit, Library Pipeline, that will operate independently from In the Library with the Lead Pipe, but will have similar and complementary aims: increasing and diversifying professional development; improving strategies and collaboration; fostering more innovation and start-ups, and encouraging LIS-related publishing and publications. In the Library with the Lead Pipe is a platform for ideas; Library Pipeline is a platform for projects.”

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt visits free school – Barnet Today. “Mr Hunt also launched an attack on Barnet Council’s proposed cuts to libraries and early years funding. He said: “I think that any local authority in difficult financial circumstances every borough should invest in education. I am particularly concerned about the proposed cuts to early years. If you want to tackle inequality you need to focus on early years.”
  • Bristol – Get inspired: ideas and research from other libraries Bristol Council. “We’ve got lots of ideas and research for you to look at before you get involved. Links to recent reports around community libraries, user needs, and changes in public libraries. Inspirational views of other city libraries, and at the other end of the spectrum, micro libraries.”
  • Cardiff – Time to show some backbone over cuts – Wales Online. “As far as Rumney residents are concerned, the council budget cut proposal to close Rumney village library is definitely a case of serious council madness. The council has informed Rumney residents of all ages that when the library closes they will have to travel by any means available or walk to either Llanrumney library or St Mellons library. Cardiff council says the library building is in poor condition. A recent private survey of Rumney library found the building is well constructed and in sound condition, the poor superficial condition is due to lack of upgrading and maintenance by the council. They are using their own lack of maintenance and upgrading as a reason for closure of the library.”
  • Cornwall – 8 Questions from the public – Cornwall Council.  Various questions from the public relating to cuts to libraries, with the reply being that budget cuts mean cuts have to be made, that parish councils will be asked to fund them first, with volunteered asked last. 10 year old Leon Remphry then read out the libraries petition that he established to the full council. Council decided to consult only with library staff and not with the public. After the speech, Council decided to go through with all cuts anyway due to procedural rules. However, the lack of consultation is accepted by some councillors.

“I know my mum would not allow me to got a pub in a hub” 10 year old Leon Remphry to full council

  • Coventry – Worst council budget cuts to jobs and services unveiled – Coventry Observer. “Gone would be nearly all youth clubs, children’s centres, libraries, community centres, play centres and adult education centres unless community volunteers step in to run them – to save just £5million a year.” see also Council cuts: how will they affect you? – Coventry Telegraph. “That means the potential loss of 17 libraries…”
  • Croydon – Tories’ botched library sale has left building open to vandals – Inside Croydon. “Croydon Conservatives’ attempt to flog off a £500,000 public building to their mates for a knock-down £85,000 on the eve of the local elections have seen the old Ashburton Library left vulnerable to the worst of the winter weather and to vandals, Inside Croydon has learned.”
  • Devon – Library hopes to lead the way for a better future – Mid Devon Gazette. “Bampton Library volunteers hope it will be one of only 10 chosen to take part in Devon Libraries’ Community Pilot Project. After a county-wide consultation this summer on their future, Devon Libraries is looking to make community libraries “modern, vibrant and sustainable”. They recognise that each community has different needs and interests, so the pilot projects are encouraged to come up with individual answers to the requirements of their neighbourhood.”
  • Harrow – Proposed closure of libraries in Harrow ‘would be devastating’ – Harrow Times. “Yesterday Harrow Borough Council announced proposals to possibly close four of the borough’s ten libraries to save money in next year’s budget. The four which could close include Bob Lawrence Library, in Edgware, Hatch End Library, in the Harrow Arts Centre, North Harrow Library, in Pinner Road, and Rayners Lane Library, in Imperial Drive.”
  • Kirklees – Volunteers are not the answer for libraries – Dewsbury Reporter / Letters. “This is a far cry from being coerced into staffing the libraries. At least 30 per cent of the library staff are being redeployed or made redundant. Redeployment, natural wastage and voluntary severance will not be sufficient to effect this sort of cut. The council will be using compulsory redundancies.”
  • Leicestershire – Library staffing axe plans given go-ahead – Loughborough Echo. “cabinet has accepted plans to see 36 village libraries run entirely by volunteers. At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, November 19, the council’s cabinet rubber stamped plans that will see rural libraries such as Barrow, Mountsorrel, Quorn, Rothley, Sileby, Hathern, Castle Donington and Kegworth, lose paid staff for a volunteer-led structure. The council says 22 full-time places will be lost as a result of the changes.”
  • Monmouthshire – Rethink on council libraries jobs axe – South Wales Argus. “A report which recommends the axing of staff from Monmouthshire council’s libraries and one stop shops will go back to its cabinet after councillors recommended looking again at the measures. “
  • Newport – Newport central library could close in council cuts – South Wales Argus. “Newport’s Central Library could close and 13 full time jobs lost under a library services review being considered by the city council. The closure of the Central Library, which needs an estimated £2.5 million of repairs, has been highlighted as the way to maximise savings and help Newport City Council meet the library services budget cuts needed for 2016/17. A number of options have been put forward to make the £268,000 savings, with the worst case scenario seeing Newport left with just four out of its current nine libraries.”

“A policy review group, set up by the learning, caring and leisure scrutiny committee, said that the council does not need to provide a central library under its statutory obligations”


  • Portsmouth – Portsmouth’s counselling services to be affected by £13million city cuts – Galleon News. “In Southsea the library will see a cut in opening times on Saturdays to move it in line with other Portsmouth libraries in a move that is forecasted to save £2,300. The libraries will also be affected by a reduction in the book fund which will hamper library stock and their ability to respond to requests at a saving of £29,800.”
  • Portsmouth – Self-service hits the streets of Portsmouth – Designing Libraries. “Self-service is the norm these days – it can be seen in shops and in our libraries, so why not take it to the streets? By installing self-service facilities in our new mobile library, our staff can better support the public with their need for knowledge and library services. This means that our community members will be able to visit the van even though the main library may be closed”
  • Reading – Library Survey 2014 – Reading borough Council. “We are running a survey of library users between 24th November and 6th December at all Reading libraries and on-line.”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Ynyshir Library building re-opened as an art gallery and exhibition space  – Wales Online. “The transformation of a Rhondda library building closed in recent public service cuts is now complete – with an art gallery and exhibition space open in its place. On Friday, The Workers’ Gallery was opened by artist Gayle Rogers, in the building of the former Ynyshir Library”
  • Shropshire – Author Michael Morpurgo has hard words over Shropshire libraries – Shropshire Star. “The War Horse author believes councillors should rethink proposals to cut library services for the good of the next generation. Speaking after a performance at the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, he said the closure of libraries would be especially detrimental for children. “There is a growing difficulty in getting children to read which needs to be tackled,” he said. “Parents have to read to their children to help them make their own ways in life and to develop into an all rounded adult. “Books are a great way to teach children but sadly some parents do not have time anymore. Some children arrive at school without having seen a book.”