You may remember the Sieghart report that was published by the Government the very last day before Christmas. Well, it looks like things are happening with it.  William Sieghart has hinted that there will be some corporate techy stuff happening shortly (still hush hush) and the boss of the new taskforce has said that things will need to be done within months or they will have failed. That’s good.  What I’m seeing from the sidelines is a general and deepening disappointment (now that there’s been time for it to sink in) with the scope of the report and questions over its actual independence so concrete results would be very welcome.

Sorry to see that, after a year or two of pain and public protest, Lincolnshire’s council have decided to jolly well do what it wanted to do in the first place without regard for what library users or, indeed, anyone else up to and including the courts say.  Unsurprisingly this is not going down well in the county.  It shows that, when it comes down to it, councils can do whatever the heck they want.  No wonder Ed Vaizey is being nominate for a Golden Raspberry Award.


Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group

  • ‘Eighteen months to implement Sieghart’, says library task force chair – BookSeller. “The task force set up to implement the recommendations of the Sieghart Report will have failed if it does not deliver changes in the next 18 months, according to its chair. Paul Blantern, chief executive of Northamptonshire County Council and chair of the task force made the assertion at a panel discussion held at the Houses of Parliament yesterday (14th)  by the Libraries All Party Parliamentary Group.”

“I can’t make any announcements yet, but I know that there are one or two corporate breakthroughs in terms of digital which will deliver new kit and new technology.” William Sieghart

  • Sieghart report library task force focused on delivery – CILIP. “Paul said the task force would use the “catalyzation” from the report to deliver. ” … “Graham Tope summed up the session with a call to action, “This is a huge time of opportunity. It is up to all of us in this room to grab it and use it. In the next few months politicians from all parties are going to be in a remarkable listening mode. It is up to us to get libraries on the political agenda.”
  • Sieghart Report – The latest – Library Campaign. “About 100 people packed the room for the first-ever public discussion of the Sieghart report (in the House of Commons, hosted by the All-Party parliamentary group for libraries, on 14 January). Laura Swaffield, Chair of the Library campaign, reports. Everyone, seemingly, wants to know if Sieghart will be just ‘another bloody report’ that won’t lead to action. William Sieghart has always said he’s determined otherwise.” … ” The taskforce is the only thing the report has delivered so far. Now it’s time for the taskforce to deliver”
    • Sieghart said there will be “one or two corporate breakthroughs in terms of delivering some new technology… which I hope will make a big difference” [I’m guessing to do with People’s Network – Ed.]
    • Arts Council has ” ceded its leadership role to the taskforce” [which is no surprise as it never wanted it in the first place and never believed in being a leader anyway – Ed.]
    • Taskforce leader says “’bluntly, if we don’t achieve something in the next few months we will have failed”

National news

  • And the award goes to… – Leon’s Library Blog. “Alan Wylie recently suggested an alternative honours list and I was both flattered and amused to see my own name on it. The suggestion caused much hilarity in the household leading to comments such as I had more chance of being awarded a Blue Peter badge …” includes suggestions for other people who should receive one [inc. me, amusingly – Ed.] and also those who should receive Golden Raspberry Awards inc. Ed Vaizey, ACE arts funding  and volunteer provision.
  • Councils rely on local ‘street champions’ to pick up litter, prune hedges and grit minor roads as funds run out – Independent. “Communities will be forced to start fending for themselves in ways not seen for generations when cuts to frontline services leave councils relying on local people to cook for elderly neighbours, start volunteer library services and sort out their own transport for children.”
  • It’s more than just sentiment that makes the loss of Britain’s libraries so deeply troubling – Independent. “There are no easy answers for local authorities struggling to make best use of their shrinking budgets, and it takes courage to commit to libraries alongside so many other demands.  But what’s at stake here is a vast and vital part of the infrastructure the UK needs to succeed in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy. If we fatally weaken the UK’s precious network of libraries, big and small, we risk losing a whole generation of future readers and learners – exactly those creative and curious-minded people, of all backgrounds, on whom our future prosperity depends”
  • Play your part: vote libraries, vote literacy, vote access to information – CILIP. “CILIP has written to key figures across the main parties alerting them to its message that libraries and the information agenda are national concerns; and setting out top-line questions which are of importance to everyone living in the UK. But the penny will only drop that libraries and information are a primary national interest when politicians and party representatives hear this time and time from the people who matter: you the voters, on the ground, in their local constituencies.”

“I regret that all too often as an elected representative, you only hear when library services are under threat rather than about their positive impact and value.” Lord Tope

  • Rise of smart phones and social media makes people crave real books, British Library report finds – Telegraph. “The rise of the digital age has helped boost visitors to the British Library by ten per cent, a report has found, as it suggests the more “screen-based” people’s lives the more they value physical artefacts. The chief executive of the British Library said the world of computers, smart phones and social media was no threat to the traditional library, instead encouraging people through its doors.”
  • Tender open for single LMS for Welsh public libraries – Alyson’s Welsh libraries blog. “Considerable work has gone into this project over the last couple of years by a number of library staff and a couple of my colleagues, and they were all very excited when the tender went live on 12 January 2015. Closing date for suppliers is 23rd Feb 2015. A little more information can be found on the Sell2Wales website where you can register to receive more information about the tender.”


  • Books & bikes: Share program considered for libraries – CT Post (USA). “The Health Department, in conjunction with the library, has received a $10,463 grant from the state for a pilot bike-share program with the goal of getting residents active and healthy.”
  • Children’s eBook sales surge in 2014 in public libraries and schools through OverDrive – Overdrive (US/Canada). “library spending on children’s, juvenile, and young adult eBooks in 2014 grew by 48% over 2013. Helping drive this dramatic growth was OverDrive’s 2014 launch of narrated eBooks and highly-illustrated best-selling children’s titles using open industry-standard EPUB3 and OverDrive Read. These popular children’s eBook titles are compatible with any device connected to a web browser, including PCs, tablets, and mobile devices.”
  • We ask Librarians – how do you use social media? – Taylor and Francis Online. “Over 70% of librarians feel social media is important, over 60% have been using it for 3 years or longer, and 30% post to social media at least once a day. We asked librarians to tell us the one piece of advice they would offer a fellow librarian setting up a new social media account from scratch. We received a whole range of advice, from strategy and planning to tips and tricks. Read recommendations by fellow librarians below, split into three easy to navigate sections.”

UK local news by authority

“I wrote a few years ago about the dismantling of our community library services. Regrettably that damaging process has not abated. I now read of the distressing proposals to dismantle the Library of Birmingham undoing everything which justified its creation in the first place.” John Dolan

  • Brighton and Hove – Brighton and Hove City Council poised to decide on plans to increase council service costs – Argus. Council “will today decide whether to ask for public donations as it struggles to fund library and leisure services. Councillors have been urged to approve plans to introduce fees for children’s events at libraries, as well as increase the rent on beach huts and the cost of wedding ceremonies. One proposal is the introduction of a discretionary fee for the popular Baby Boogie sessions for toddlers held at the city’s libraries.”
  • Brent – Brent library privatisation hits the front page and two men named James disagree about what it means – Wembley Matters. “The Kilburn Times (above) puts the possible privatisation of Brent libraries management on its front page.  Management would be handed over to a charitable trust although details are not clear.” … “management structure, rather than privatisation and  ‘saves us a huge amount of money with rate changes’.  He recognised the sensitive nature of the changes and said the Council would do ‘only if we find it’s the right thing for us, for our libraries..and our communities.’  James Powney, whose blog has become a lot more interesting since he left the Council, wrote a article on the issue on Thursday morning”
  • Brent – Libraries in Brent could be privatised as part of £54m cuts – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Under proposals by the town hall, Ealing Road, Harlesden, Kilburn, Kingsbury, Wembley and Willesden Green Library Centre will be handed over to an outside organisation. The council is hoping a charity will agree to manage the libraries as their status makes them eligible for an 80 per cent rebate on business rate, this would save the town hall £160,000. However other tenders from private operators would be considered.”
  • Bristol – Bristol mayor George Ferguson puts £50,000 towards air quality monitoring at city’s key industrial sites – Bristol Post. “The mayor has also pledged £1 million to support the future of libraries, which he said was something that had been widely expressed as an important priority during the consultation.”
  • Bristol – Reader’s letter: Books have so much to offer us still – Bristol Post. Letter points out that despite newspaper report that library users are small in number, “nationally 35 per cent of people in England use their local libraries, a percentage rising to 50 per cent among poorer and immigrant groups.”
  • Coventry – Coventry’s library service to be ‘developed and restructured’ under £15m cuts plan – Coventry Telegraph. “Three petitions have already sprung up calling on the council not to close libraries in Finham, Earlsdon and Allesley Park. Coun David Kershaw, cabinet member for education, clarified the council’s position on the future of the city’s 17 libraries during a full council meeting in the week. He stopped short of ruling out any closures, but Coun Kershaw did talk up the value of libraries and spoke of a desire to “develop and restructure” the city’s existing library service. He said: “Libraries are a golden thread throughout our lives.”
  • Hackney – Young readers in Hackney win visit from top children’s author – Reading Agency press release. “Reading for pleasure brings children many rewards, but young readers at Hackney Central Library got to giggle, shout, scream, ask questions and have loads of fun when they met bestselling author Steve Cole today.  It was their prize for winning a UK-wide competition celebrating the first-ever Chatterbooks Week (11-18 October 2014), via national charity The Reading Agency’s ever-growing network of Chatterbooks reading groups for children.The competition asked Chatterbooks groups from all around the country to send in photos of the events they held to celebrate Chatterbooks Week. The judges chose the photos sent in by the Chatterbooks groups throughout Hackney showing a whole range of activities including visits from writers; game and puzzle events and a poetry slam. Steve Cole, author of the hugely popular Magic Ink and Aliens Stink! books, as well as the Astrosaurs and Cows In Action series of books led his young audience on a laugh-a-minute, high energy, ukulele-accompanied master class in “chucking imagination at words” (aka telling stories) which took in super-scary hamster girls, tanks disguised as dinner ladies, teacher-biting chair zombies, bank-robbing dogs, over-sized fruit and much more.  
  • Harrow – Petitions against library closures were submitted to cabinet tonight – Harrow Times. “The first petition submitted to the council, made up of more than 5,000 signatures – along with 24 signatures from community groups, councillors and religious leaders in an open letter – was against the proposed closure of the Bob Lawrence library. Presenting the petition, one campaigner said: “It is vital to the community that it [the library] is close by and easily accessible. It is extremely important we keep community centres like libraries, and keep their value.” A six-year-old boy from Stag Lane School also submitted 140 letters from fellow pupils in objection to the closure of the library in Mollison Way, Edgware. North Harrow library campaigners also presented their petition of 2,797 signatures, while a petition to save Rayners Lane library was also submitted to the Cabinet, with 734 schoolchildren signing and a further 1,555 adult signatories.”
  • Hull – Hull, City of Culture 2017, to reduce library hours – Yorkshire Post. “If approved, from March the opening hours of libraries across the city will be curtailed including the Central Library which will close on Wednesday mornings and Friday afternoons. Other libraries in the city will be cut to opening just four, or in some cases three, days a week. Writing in a report to be considered by councillors next week, Coun Terence Geraghty, the portfolio holder responsible for libraries, supports the proposals as a better way of saving money to wholesale library closures.”
  • Isle of Wight – Some councils could be asked to take on running costs of libraries – On the Wight. “Changes to the library service are part of a number of possible ‘savings options’ outlined in the budget strategy that could see some local councils taking on the running costs of local libraries in exchange for community use of the buildings.”
  • Kirklees – Future of Heckmondwike Library still uncertain – Batley and Birstall News. “At a meeting of Friends of Heckmondwike Library, Kirklees Council’s chief librarian, Carol Stump, said help from residents would be necessary as staff make plans to keep the service afloat in the face of their own job losses.”
  • Leicestershire – Visits by mobile libraries facing cuts – Loughborough Echo. “Mobile library services could be visiting local communities just once a month under new Leicestershire County Council plans. At the moment, the council has six mobile library vans, which serve 3,800 people per year.” see also Mobile library service changes proposed – Hinckley Times.
  • Lincolnshire – Astonishing Misuse of Public Money and Political Power – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Lincolnshire County Council has published plans to implement its unlawful decision of December 2013 to close thirty libraries unless volunteers take them over. This not only ignores the High Court judgement of July 2014 that quashed this decision but also the Localism Act which gives charities and social enterprises opportunities to run local services.” see also Labour – the fight to save Lincolnshire Libraries goes on despite out of touch Tory arrogance… – Save Lincolnshire Libraries and Cllr Stephen Palmer’s open letter re Lincolnshire Library Crisis – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. Letter to parliamentary candidates “I know you are not from around here in Lincolnshire but as a parliamentary candidate for Louth and Horncastle I hope you are aware of the long running battle in Lincolnshire County Council over the plans that will make the Library service in Lincolnshire a post code lottery by altering the statutory element of the service.” and Campaigner writes to his MP asking for Secretary of State intervention in Lincs Library Crisis – Save Lincolnshire Libraries and Lincolnshire County Council resubmits libraries cuts plan – Lincolnite.
  • Lincolnshire – Former Cosmopolitan magazine editor voices support for Lincolnshire libraries – Lincolnshire Echo. “Sam Baker, who is also a novelist, posted a link to the campaign blog, commenting ‘if you care about the plight of public libraries, wherever in the UK you live, you should read this”
  • Lincolnshire – Changes to library services still ‘the way forward’ – Lincolnshire Council. “In December 2013, the council’s executive agreed to proposals for changes to the library service, in light of changes in the way libraries are used and the authority’s substantially reduced budget. However, this move was subsequently challenged in the High Court. Although the judge agreed that the council’s plans would meet its legal duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service, he did highlight shortcomings in the way the decision was reached. Now, following additional work over the autumn, officers are recommending that councillors again endorse the plans that were previously agreed.” see also Councillors asked to go ahead with controversial library reform – Boston Standard.
  • Lincolnshire – Petition debates wiped out at Lincolnshire’s Full Council – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “The M.P. responsible for libraries (Ed Vaizey) released a far reaching Review of libraries just before Christmas, having sat on it for two months. Our County Council has gone one better, leaving it until the last Full Council of the year (19th December) to push through a vote removing the “option for a petition to trigger a debate at Council”. You may remember that 23,000 Lincolnshire tax payers and voters signed a petition against the County Council’s proposals to close libraries unless volunteers came forward, and there was a debate as a result of that and two other similar petitions.” see also Lincolnshire – Letter: Urge Lincolnshire residents not to let county council kill democratic debate on libraries – Market Rasen Mail and Lincolnshire libraries: council leader ‘must give answers’ – Lincolnshire Echo and New chapter beckons in the battle for Lincolnshire libraries – Lincolnshire Echo.

“Six months ago a High Court judge criticised the county council’s plan to turn 30 libraries into community hubs run by volunteers. But now the authority is poised to back what campaigners say is fundamentally the same plan. Julie Harrison, former head at Chad Varah Primary School, in St Giles, Lincoln, who took the fight to 10 Downing Street, said: “The recommendation is totally despicable and has been undertaken totally undemocratically.” Lincolnshire Echo

  • Newport – Malpas residents hope to save library – South Wales Argus. “Over 100 residents attended a public meeting tonight to hear of an alternative proposal that could see Malpas library saved from closure. ” … “Newport City Council’s strategic director for place, Sheila Davies explained in the alternative proposal a librarian would be present for 20 hours a week and space within the library would be reorganised to host other activities that would generate income for the library building. “
  • North Yorkshire – Fight the stripping of the library counters in North Yorkshire – Library Campaign. “There is an ongoing Library Consultation in North Yorkshire, finishing on the 8th February 2015. John Dean, the contact person for ‘Save North Yorkshire Libraries’, asks any interested parties to act to defend their library service.”
  • North Yorkshire – Skipton Town Council meeting to hear library proposals – Craven Herald. “Next Thursday’s (jan 22) meeting of Skipton Town Council will include a presentation by North Yorkshire’s assistant director, Julie Blaisdale, in addition to the setting of the council precept and budget. It will be one of the last chances for those concerned about the proposals, which include the use of volunteers and a possible reduction in opening hours, to comment in public before the end of the three month consultation next month”
  • Nottinghamshire – Bingham Library turns the page with £720,000 revamp – Nottingham Post. “Bingham Library and Children’s Centre has been brought into the 21st century with a refurbishment from Nottinghamshire County Council. The building, in Eaton Place, originates from the 1970s and had become dated.” … “For the first time, there is a public toilet, whereas previously, visitors had to use facilities nearby or parents could take their children to use the staff toilet. The local children’s centre has also moved onto the site, from its previous home in Market Place, bringing a range of family services with it.”
  • Southampton – ‘We’ve no idea where we’ll go if library shuts’ – Daily Echo. “Southampton City Council has put forward plans for community groups to take over at the Cobbett Road, Millbrook, Weston, Thornhill and Burgess Road libraries. So far, the petition has attracted more than 300 signatures. It comes after campaigners at Cobbett Road Library in Bitterne Park launched a petition signed by more than 1,600 people, including Hampshire wildlife expert Chris Packham, calling on the council to re-think its plans.”

“Community Playlink manager, Pam McCune, said: “We have absolutely no idea where to go if Burgess Road Library was to close down. “It would be devastating and for us. It would be extremely awkward and we would have to find somewhere to put everything and find another location – but I think nowhere would be as popular. It would be a shame if Burgess Road Library were to close as it is very popular – even without us in there.”

  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire children’s centres set to close – BBC News. “Forty six children’s centres are to close in Staffordshire, under plans put forward by the county council. Thirty five of them will be transferred to schools and libraries, on the condition they provide some services.”
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire libraries changes explained – with infographic – Staffordshire Newsletter. ““The public response made it clear there was a greater confidence and appetite to take on management of local libraries in some areas, than others. “Accordingly, we are proposing a twin-track approach. Some community groups will take responsibility for managing and delivering their local library service as soon as they have satisfied the necessary conditions – and will have access to support from Library staff. “For others there will be a transitional stage where volunteers staff the library on a day-to-day basis and the library will be part of a cluster which will have support from a member of library staff on a regular basis.”
  • Swansea – Libraries could be brought to book – South Wales Evening Post. “They could take on the guise of book clubs as councillor Rob Stewart said they were far cheaper to run and Swansea Council was looking to ensure that services in the east and west of the city are placed on an equal footing. He set out the plan during a meeting of Gorseinon Town Council — where he was the first council leader to ever address members.”
  • Thurrock – Libraries in Thurrock could be closed to save money – Clacton Gazette. “The mobile library service could also be axed in proposals included in a month long consultation looking at ways in which Thurrock Council can save £500,000 from its budget. “
  • Thurrock – Will Stanford and Corringham libraries close? (Local councillor doesn’t mind as he isn’t up for re-election in 2018!) – Your Thurrock. ” chair Cllr Val Morris-Cook opined that it was likely that now specific decision would be made regarding closures as that would be “political suicide”. She then asked the Homesteads councillor: “Would you stand up between now and election day and say you would merge Stanford and Corringham libraries.” Cllr Halden, who was re-elected in May 2014 said: “Ah but I am back in so I have three-and-a -half years.”
  • Walsall – Bid to remove Walsall libraries from planned closure list fails to gain full council support Walsall Advertiser. “A bid to save two closure-threatened libraries in Walsall from the axe failed to win majority backing at this week’s heated full council debate.”
  • Walsall – Fight goes on to save two Walsall libraries – Express and Star. “Thousands of people have signed petitions to ensure Streetly and Pheasey facilities are retained after being identified to shut under cost-cutting measures. A motion asking Walsall Council to keep them open and find savings from elsewhere was rejected by the Labour-run authority, while they go through the consultation process. There are eight libraries across the borough which are under threat of closure in the next years in a bid to save more than £500,000. Final plans will go before the council next month.”
  • Worcestershire – Council taking on volunteers is ‘immoral’ – Redditch Standard. “Taking on volunteers to an organisation which is cutting 1,500 staff has been branded ‘immoral’. Worcestershire County Council is calling on unpaid helpers to join them to support the provision of a range of services. But the appeal has been criticised by Labour councillor Graham Vickery who said they were ‘very unhappy with the idea’.”
  • Worcestershire – Library axe will cut off villagers, says councillor – Droitwich Standard. “Controversial changes to Worcestershire’s mobile library which come into force on February 1 will see the service cut to a number of villages across Bromsgrove and Droitwich. The alterations have been made by the county council in a bid to save £100,000 a year towards the £20million to £25million it needs to make annually over the next four years.”