I remember the start of National Libraries Day.  It was the first year that the Coalition’s cuts had really hit, public libraries were in danger and people were in shock or getting angry.  Alan Gibbons suggested a national day of protest for libraries, then called Save Our Libraries Day, and it happened – hundreds of events and protests around the country.  It was an amazing event and I am very pleased to say that I played a part, albeit a tiny one, in it. That day served its purpose and did great work for public libraries.  I’m pleased, though,  to say that over the last years, the day has  grown from being a protest to being a day of celebration of this great national service.  Some councils had difficulty adjusting to this at the start: there was some suspicion of politics but that has largely all gone. Pretty much every authority I know of now sees National Libraries Day as an important day in their calendar and so it should be.  It is the only time that we have just to celebrate our service.  Not books, not computers, not digital inclusion but the whole darn thing.  The wonderful service that is provided and too many once took for granted and too many now take as something that can be endangered. Make sure you get to the library on the day, look around, smile that it’s still there and work out how you can make it better.




For some reason I said Salford was undergoing a second round cuts in the first line of the last post.  The eagle eyed would have noticed that it was in fact Trafford. This was corrected on the online edition but was too late to have been corrected for the direct mailing.



  • Chattanooga (TN) Public Library Launches Online High School Diploma Program for Adults – School Library Journal (USA). “Chattanooga (TN) Public Library (CPL), in partnership with Gale/Cengage Learning, is giving its patrons the opportunity to earn an accredited high school diploma and credentialed career certificate. Career Online High School (COHS) is a unique pilot program which will allow adult learners to finish high school online while also receiving additional career training. Ideal candidates are individuals who are looking to continue their education, advance their career, or enter the workforce.”
  • Dallas public libraries making it work – WFAA8 (USA). “Dallas Public Libraries want you to know they’re open for business! They have more staff and longer hours, and for the first time since 2008, seven branches are open seven days a week. News 8’s Sebastian Robertson has more. “.  After deep cuts six years ago, Dallas is rehiring new staff – reasons given are moving into literacy classes, computer access and library staff doing more than one job.
  • Edmonton Public Library’s First Digital Public Space – Library as Incubator (Canada). “In spring 2015 Edmonton Public Library (EPL) will launch our first digital public space, a website to celebrate and support our local music community. We’re calling it Capital City Records: Edmonton Local Music. The word “Records” in the title identifies the content of the site– Edmonton’s excellent local music recordings–and describes the activity the site will make possible– collectively recording the history of Edmonton’s music scene. New local music will be available for streaming and download and we’re encouraging anyone with multimedia memories of local music history to add them to the collection. We’ll also ask site visitors to help us transcribe a collection of digitized local concert posters. Through the transcription tool we’ll create a database of important artists and dates in local music history which we plan to open up to local developers with an API.”
  • Library offers new way to share books – Chron (USA). “Instead of just borrowing a book, selected county residents will be able to take a “Little Free Library” out on loan – and set it up in their neighborhood or in front of a business. Melissa Baker, library marketing and program coordinator, explained that Little Free Library is a movement started by Todd Bol and Rick Brooks in Wisconsin in 2009.” … “The final product resembles a large birdhouse with glass windows that allow a passerby to read the book titles. If they see something they like, they can take it with them and return it later – or keep it and replace with one of their own books. The Library Friends of Conroe sponsored the project and have agreed to help Baker fill the mini-building with its first selection of titles.”
  • Providence Public Library Welcomes… Unicorns!? – Providence Online (USA). ” “I want to shift from the grocery store to the kitchen library model,” he says. At a grocery store, we go in, get what we need, and leave. A kitchen, on the other hand, is a place of interaction, discovery, creativity and shared experiences. Traditionally our relationship to our libraries is more like the former: it’s a place where we go to borrow books, movies or music, do research or maybe use the computer. A stop at the library is often more like an errand than an experience. Jack Martin wants to shift our perception to the kitchen model. “We want to be perceived as this major cultural center where people can attend learning programs, and experience exhibitions and programs inspired by the exhibitions,” he explains. “We also want to create a beautiful community space where people can access technology, gather and learn together, read together.””
  • Public spreads the word on novel little libraries – Irish Examiner (Eire). ““Parents love it — it teaches children about sharing. Kids love it, as do the regular morning mass ladies, who come in after mass to bring a book or take a book, and maybe have tea and do some knitting. I love it — it’s about community, it’s about being friendly.”” Little Free Libraries used for work with dementia as well.

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet Council Libraries: we put the ’30 minute public transport rule’ to the test – Times series. “The second option put forward, to save £73.5m, includes closing Mill Hill Library but creating a network of eight libraries across the borough. Councillors say that if this option was passed, at least 95 per cent of Barnet’s population would be able to get to a library within 30 minutes by public transport. We put this to the test by travelling from Mill Hill Library to Hendon Library, in Church End…”.  Test does indeed show 30 minutes but stresses uncomfortableness of journey.
  • Barnsley – New library is set to be the beacon of Barnsley – Star. “Designed to be the beacon of the town, the new building is set to be a landmark in the centre’s £50 million redevelopment. Proposed plans for the new town centre were announced last August and the central library design is the next step in the development timeline. It is expected to open in early 2017. Barnsley Coun Roy Miller, cabinet member for place, said: “The central library is just one part of the overall town centre development scheme and its high quality design sets the standard for the new town centre. “
  • Birmingham – #Rally4LoB – Public rally for the Libraries of Birmingham – Birmingham Libraries Campaigns. Saturday 7th February 12 to 2pm.  A major demonstration is being planned.
  • Bristol – Reader’s letter: Libraries are being used for child-care – Bristol Post. “Mrs/Ms Brown is right that libraries are not just about books; for they have taken over some aspects of parenting that used to be carried out by mums and dads. Once upon a time extended families met the nurturing needs of their children without recourse to an: ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ library service. For example, the library service provides: ‘Baby bounce and rhyme’ sessions with the earth-shattering news that singing rhymes with babies is great fun for: “language development, strengthening the bond between parent/carer and child, and helping children begin understanding the world around them.”.  Letter appears against this development and also against free computer use.
  • Bromley – Future proposals for the Bromley Library Service – Bromley Council. “The council are consulting about options for the future of the Bromley Library Service which includes: the development of community managed libraries, market testing the core library service, improving current library buildings. Surveys can be completed online or in your local library. The council are consulting about the future of the library services as we must make further budget savings of more than £60 million from a budget of £206 million over the next four years and we are looking carefully at the future of every council service.”

“Savings proposals for 2015/16, amounting to £540k, are currently being consulted on with staff. These are regarded as mainly efficiency savings in the short term and are designed to minimise the impact on front line services, whilst a longer term strategy for the future is developed. Efficiency savings will result in reductions in support services budgets, and a reduction in staffing at district hub libraries. The proposed 2015/16 savings also include an ongoing £200k reduction to the stock fund from the current annual allocation of £1.034M, which will mean that fewer new titles will be available than in previous years.” Cambridgeshire Library Service Transformation document for council approval (approved 20 January)

Building community resilience. Digital First. Enabling more than delivering. “Maximising the use of our assets.” from the same document. [Great buzzwords to put into council documents when what you mean is you’re cutting the budget – Ed.]

  • Fife – Warning over ‘libraries to close’ threat – Fife Today. “A Glenrothes councillor is warning of a public backlash if libraries in the town are forced to close due to impending budget cuts. Cllr Peter Grant claims Labour councillors admitted last week that it was “inevitable” that some libraries would close as a result of budget cuts faced by Fife Cultural Trust. “In their first full budget back in 2013 Labour and their allies voted to cut a total of £3 million from the Cultural Trust’s budget over three years,””
  • Hampshire – Contentious plan for Emsworth library gets go-ahead – News. “Councillor Keith Chapman, in charge of libraries in Hampshire, made the decision to move the library from St Peter’s Square in Emsworth to the town’s community centre in North Street. More than 1,000 people signed a petition calling for the library to stay put and almost 70 per cent of people in a consultation wanted it to remain in the town centre. The move will save Hampshire County Council around £30,000 a year.”
  • Hull – Library hours cuts ‘will break-up community’ in the Avenues – Hull Daily Mail. “Book-lovers say proposals to cut opening hours of the Avenues Library are a “disaster”.  Hull City Council has revealed plans to reduce opening hours at public libraries across the city, which will be considered by councillors next week. Currently, the Avenues Library in Chanterlands Avenue, west Hull, opens six days a week, closing on Sundays. If the changes are approved, the library would closed on Wednesdays and half-day opening would be introduced for the rest of the week.”

“Users of the facility have described the move as “breaking up a community” and say it will impact on people of all backgrounds and ages.”

  • Kent – Campaign to Save Deal Library has begun – Kent Online. “A Facebook page called Save Deal Library has been set up following plans unveiled by the county council to run libraries in Kent by charitable trust. The council has announced a 12-week consultation on a proposal to pass over the job of running libraries as it bids to save money in the face of a continuing public sector spending squeeze.” … “comment on Deal Watch Facebook page gained more than 100 comments from Deal residents. His highlighted points included where will vulnerable people with poor skills go to make online applications, make housing inquiries and be able to speak to professional staff.”
  • Kent – Should Kent County Council transfer responsibility for its libraries to a charitable trust? – News Shopper. “KCC is hoping the trust model will make its libraries more sustainable as the council needs to cut £3.27million from its budget over the next three years. In July last year, KCC confessed to a “mistake” when a job advert went out to oversee the transformation of the LRA services before publicly consulting on the change or having councillors agree to it.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincs: County council are pushing forward with its proposal for a new look library serviceGuardian series. “Lincs County Council are pushing forward with its original proposals for a new look library service. Under the proposals, the council would continue to provide 15 major libraries, along with online services, mobile libraries and specialist support for those unable to reach their nearest library because of, for instance, disability, age or ill health.”
  • Manchester – Century-old letter for peace to be exhibited in Central Library – Manchester Gov. “The Open Letter, which was signed by 101 women in the winter of 1914/15, will be on display in the library’s Archives+ Centre. Dr Alison Ronan, from Manchester Metropolitan University, will give a free talk at the Central Library’s performance space, on Thursday 22 January (6 – 7pm).  Dr Ronan will explain the fascinating story of the letter, its historical context and take a closer look at some of the extraordinary women who signed it – especially those who came from Manchester. A short film will also be shown, including archive footage of the first winter of the war.”
  • Manchester – Library visitor numbers plunge as cuts force drastic reduction in opening hours – Manchester Evening News. “Seven Manchester libraries have seen visitor numbers plummet by as much as 90per cent since funding cuts led to them being run by volunteers with drastically reduced opening hours. Barlow Moor Library in Chorlton has lost 90.6 pc of its visitors. The community-run library is run from Barlow Moor Community Centre, replacing the smaller one introduced after the original library was axed in council spending cuts.”
  • North Yorkshire – Bedale campaigners pledge to fight library threat – Northern Echo. “Campaigner Susan Perkins said after the Bedale meeting they had been told it would probably be “cost neutral” if volunteers can be found to run the library in Bedale, so money would not have to be found to pay for rent and other bills. She said: “We are hoping the county council will reconsider the whole thing and we’re calling on the people of Bedale to continue using the library to show how much we value the work the staff do.”

“We are not in the business of closing libraries, we are in the business of working to attract volunteers to run them”

  • North Yorkshire – Join our fight – Gazette Herald. “The large numbers of people signing a petition to keep all North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) libraries staffed have been encouraged by the efforts of inspired helpers from Whitby, Scarborough, Easingwold, Thirsk, Ripon and beyond, and campaigners in Bentham and Skipton. ” List included of future signings.
  • North Yorkshire – Please save our library – Northern Echo. “Television did not replace radio, video and DVD did not replace film, e-mail did not replace the telephone and e-books will never replace the free paper books found in libraries. Our library should offer group study, art exhibitions, food/coffee, childrens’ workshops, DVDs and homework clubs. It should be a community centre bridging any age gap providing culture for all.” Concerns Stokesley Library.
  • Sheffield – Sheffield library group still fighting for inquiry – Star. “Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey was due to make a final decision on whether to hold an inquiry into the issue in December but that was put back to February 27 after the Broomhill Library Action Group, which originally complained to him, made further submissions. The action group has claimed there are ‘anomalies’ in the council’s needs assessment on which the current library branch rankings were based and an inquiry is needed into constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service in Sheffield, as required by law.”.  Group may take legal action against the minister if he does not intervene.

“Libraries are under review in Swansea and their future doesn’t look good as council leader Rob Stewart told a public meeting that costs could be cut by renaming libraries as “book clubs”. “If you call something a library it doubles your cost,” he said, suggesting that all would be well “as long as there is a room with computers and lots of books.”  Never mind whether anyone knows how to use or maintain the computers or whether the books are a useful and up-to-date collection rather than potluck paperback donations, as found at some former public libraries, now being run on the cheap. A Welsh Assembly review of library standards across Wales, published last October, showed that Swansea failed to meet four out of nine targets, including not providing enough books and other materials for young people and not having enough professional staff.  No doubt “book clubs” would do even worse — but they wouldn’t be measured against the same targets, thus sparing Swansea council embarrassment.” Library News / Private Eye issue no. 1384

  • Thurrock – Campaign to keep Thurrock libraries open begins – Thurrock Gazette. “Thurrock Council has begun a month-long consultation with the public into how the library service can save £500,000 … Among Facebook users writing on the Thurrock Gazette website, Annette Columbine wrote: “Really! It’s disgusting. Libraries are an essential part of everybody’s life. “Taking my girls there when they were young is what has influenced their love of reading now that they’re adults.”