Trafford [Sorry, this post somehow said Salford to begin with – Ed.] is undergoing its second major round of library cuts this government, aiming to withdraw three libraries, much to the chagrin of the local Labour MP who has noticed that the Conservative-run council has picked branches in less prosperous parts of the city.  Elsewhere, both Lincolnshire and Staffordshire are having trouble with getting people to run their libraries for free, with another volunteer group withdrawing in Lincs and Staff having to tone down its plans due to lack of interest.  You know, I know this may come as a shock, but there may be a reason why people are paid to do a lot of library jobs.  It certainly seems that people understand that in Wales where no less than one thousand people attended a meeting to save their local library in Rhiwbina.  One thousand.  Incredible.  The public clearly understand something about the importance of the library there.

Finally, my thanks to Brian Ashley who has again written in (Ed Vaizey, feel free, to join his example) to give his view on the news, specifically on the libraries taskforce and Art Council England’s stance to it.  My thanks to him.

Please send any corrections, news, comments, highly paid job offers or legacies to … ianlibrarian@live.co.uk

The publication of William Sieghart’s report and the establishment of the taskforce, to be chaired by local authority chief executive Paul Blantern, provides a great basis for developing England’s public libraries and the Arts Council looks forward to playing a full, positive and constructive role in that process.  

We have been clear that, in England, leadership of the sector is collaborative. Responsibilities have always rested with a range or organisations but the taskforce brings them together in a more established and effective way than before. The Arts Council’s  particular role as the national development agency for libraries is agreed with DCMS and we believe that we have made a positive contribution to supporting and developing libraries since we took over that responsibility in October 2011. Our strategic development role with the sector is now part of our contribution to the taskforce, of which we are an integral part and the Arts Council continues to be the national development agency for libraries. 

Those who benefit from and depend on public libraries will be more interested in what happens next. The ideas set out in William’s report sit very comfortably with the Arts Council’s vision for libraries: libraries inspire and empower people to lead active lives, developing themselves and making a positive contribution to the community. Through ‘Envisioning the library of the future’ we have identified four development priorities for public libraries in England. We are also providing grant-funding programmes to enable library services to explore new ways of working to deliver these priorities. This will continue including our contribution to the work of the taskforce. Brian Ashley, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England.



  • Future of Local Libraries: Understanding & Adapting to Changing Times – “Join this Westminster Briefing event on 19 March to discuss the future of local libraries, and understand what can be done to plan and prepare. We will consider overcoming challenges, the wider policy setting for local libraries in England and look at examples of effective practice to take back and implement with your colleagues.” including presentations by WIlliam Sieghart and Ciara Eastell.
  • Libraries and social media: the activity is important, not the tool – CILIP. “Social media activities are communicating, presenting, promoting and marketing (among others), just using a different range of tools. I find it quite depressing when I hear people say ‘I don’t have time for Twitter’ or ‘I don’t see the point of Facebook’ because this illustrates a lack of understanding about their use and value.  To be fair, if you haven’t had a chance to use these tools they are going to seem like some sort of black art, so in this blog post I’d like to try and dispel a few concerns, and show you how important and useful it can be to include them in your daily routine.”
  • Minecraft – Libs for Kids. “Reading of these budget constraints highlighted to me the importance of thorough research before implementing new technology in libraries. Silver Lake public library in Kansas has shared useful insights on their Minecraft activities. These includes MinecraftEdu being unpopular with teens who prefer the commercial version and recommending libraries initially purchase a few servers to gauge how popular the game is before heavily investing in the program (Hough, 2013). These are issues I would not have considered before consulting their blog and so illustrate the importance of knowledge sharing. Last month’s Independent Library Report for England recommended establishing a digital network to facilitate sharing best practice saying : A library’s great strength – its localism – must not be allowed to become its weakness (Sieghart, 2014, p.6)”.
  • The painfully slow rise of Near Field Communication (NFC) – Changing Libraries. “I have been speculating for some time now that in a library with public access wifi library users with NFC enabled smartphones ought to be able to take a book from the shelf, scan the tag and link directly to the library’s database to find whatever related resources – physical or virtual – the library has identified as perhaps being of interest. Yet even in Oslo – where they clearly have talent and imagination – this doesn’t appear to be happening yet. So what are the obstacles to making such a seemingly simple step I wonder?”
  • Secretary of State questioned on DCMS annual report – Gov.uk. “Culture, Media and Sport Committee takes evidence from Secretary of State on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Annual Report 2013-14. The session is wide ranging, following up on several of the Committee’s past inquiries as well as current work.”
  • Wind in the Willows – Open Book Theatre. We bring literature to life among the bookcases, encouraging people to explore their local library and reinventing the space in a lively and exciting way. Our shows are entirely free for the library and the audience. Open Book are a not-for profit organisation currently fundraising for our project, ‘The Wind in the Willows’ an interactive, family show that will use the library setting to full effect. We target areas of London where access to and engagement with the arts is low and child poverty is high. Parents in these areas may find it difficult to afford to take the whole family to see theatre, so we offer it for free. We believe that theatre should be available to everyone and that children should be able to see it from an early age For more information, please see our website.


UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet Council’s libraries consultation is ‘unfit for purpose’, according to report – Times series. “An investigation into Barnet Borough Council’s library consultation has revealed people find it “impossible” to respond in any meaningful way. The authority is consulting on plans to cut library services – and options in its consultation include closing them altogether, reducing their size or swapping experienced libraries with volunteers. But a report carried out by independent company The Research Practice labeled the wording of the survey “confusing”. The report said: “The longer people spend on the consultation, the more confused they become and the more they perceive the council’s plans to be flawed.”
  • Barnet – Barnet Libraries Consultation: A Sham A Joint Letter from the Barnet Bloggers to the Leader of Barnet Council Barnet Eye. “Barnet Bloggers are appalled by reported plans to outsource libraries and make them available to commercial exploitation to companies such as Starbucks and Waterstones. The real purpose of proposals to cut and shut libraries in Barnet is now clear.” see also The Libraries Consultation: a joint letter by the Barnet bloggers – Broken Barnet.
  • Birmingham – Bailey takes Birmingham Council to task over city development priorities – Information Daily. “The report says that the Council’s failure to secure external sponsorship or raise sufficient money from land sales led to the council borrowing most of the £188m building and set up costs, with the library also costing some £10m a year to run. This latest city centre ‘vanity project’ has burdened the city with a financial noose that now sees community libraries being shut down and others at risk of closing. Some 100 staff are set to lose their jobs and opening hours at the Library of Birmingham are to set to be slashed from 73hrs a week to just 40. In other words, public resources have been diverted from providing critical services such as social services into another city centre vanity project. Sadly, the library is merely the latest example of Birmingham’s focus on city centre development and glamour projects undertaken at the expense of front line services and the needs of the wider population of Birmingham.”
  • Birmingham – Government and bankers to blame for Birmingham Library cuts, says MP – Birmingham Mail. “MP Roger Godsiff (Lab, Hall Green) attacked cuts which will lead to the loss of more than half of the library’s staff and many of its services, including archive and research facilities. But he said the blame lay with Government funding cuts, which had forced Birmingham City Council to make massive savings. In a House of Commons motion, the MP said: “Birmingham City Council’s funding from central Government has been cut heavily over the course of the current Government, and poorer cities such as Birmingham have received a disproportionately heavy share of spending cuts.””
  • Birmingham – Hard Times Ahead for the Library of Birmingham – Library Journal (USA). A detailed look at the cuts to the library, how they have been received and possibilities for the future.
  • Birmingham – Watt and Boulton would ‘turn in their graves’ at Library of Birmingham cuts – Birmingham Post. “Lunar Society chairman Waheed Saleem said the library was key to developing the city’s skills and education and presented a major blow to the city’s heritage. He was speaking after the former head of Birmingham Libraries and Archives John Dolan OBE said the library was heading for a “spiral of decline”. The Lunar Society was founded by the likes of Boulton, Watt, Joseph Priestley and Erasmus Darwin in the 18th century as a collection of prominent thinkers and Mr Saleem said the prospect of less access to education would have disturbed them.”
  • Brent – More details emerge on Brent Council’s investigation into Kensal Rise Library emails – Wembley Matters.  “ if Brent police didn’t seek the ISP subscriber details, did the CPS do so instead? If it didn’t, how could it conclude that the ‘required standard’ of evidence for a prosecution in the fraudulent email affair was unproven? A reply from Brent’s partnership borough chief inspector and the CPS is awaited. 
  • Buckinghamshire – Number of overall visits to Buckinghamshire libraries fall – but ‘literary’ Beaconsfield defies trend – Get Bucks. “Overall, there were an estimated 1.59m visitors to Buckinghamshire’s libraries. That is down 3.9% on the 1.66m who went into the county’s branches in 2013.” but Beanconsfield up 43%.
  • Cardiff – ‘It is the heart of our village’: Residents step up fight to save Rhiwbina library – Cardiff Online. “A community fighting for the future of its much-loved library will vote on the issue after demanding a poll. Residents in parts of north Cardiff are being invited to the polling stations on February 5 to have their say on the future of Rhiwbina Library, which is threatened by council cuts.” … “Earlier this month, more than 1,000 residents attended a public meeting about the library.” … “Council officials stopped counting after recording the 363rd elector, as only 150 are needed to call for a community poll.”
  • Cardiff – Save Cardiff Library Service – 38 Degrees. “Rather than closing libraries or running them down by forcing them to share premises with other inappropriate services, the council should find a way of living up to its legal obligation to provide a comprehensive and efficient service throughout the city.” 
  • Hull – Library opening hours in Hull set to be cut in budget squeeze – Hull Daily Mail. “Half-day openings will be extended at many venues and an as-yet-unspecified number of staff redundancies are likely to be made as a result. Hull City Council says reducing opening hours is the only way to avoid more library closures in the face of continued Government funding cuts.”
  • Kirklees – Fifty volunteer to help save Holmfirth Library – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Fifty residents have signed up to help as volunteers as the services face shutdown in the face of significant cuts to Kirklees’ central government funding. Over 100 people attended a public meeting to discuss the future of the library in Huddersfield Road. +Kirklees Chief Librarian Carol Stump told the meeting that her team were determined to save library services in some form. Friends of library groups have already been set up in Meltham, Honley and Golcar. In places where libraries have been volunteer-led for some time, and they are working well.”
  • Kirklees – Kirklees Council library service consultation begins – BBC. “A public consultation into the future of library services in Kirklees has begun as the council looks to cut £2.5m from its budget by 2018. The council says it needs to find new ways to run its 26 libraries in order to reduce spending on the service from £5.7m to £3.2m in the next three years. Among the proposals are plans to hand libraries over to groups of volunteers. The council has cut its overall budget by £83m since 2011 but needs to save a further £69m by 2017/18. The 12-week consultation runs until 10 April.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire volunteers pull bid to run local library – Lincolnite. “The Our Wainfleet Library and Community Hub (OWLCHub) group has backed out of its previous commitment to take over the service from the county council, after determining that it was “unrealistic”.” … “OWLCHub is following a number of previous community groups that have withdrawn their bids to run their local facilities. Nettleham Parish Council previously retracted their plans to run the village library and Alford Library Volunteers have also withdrawn their support. The Coningsby-Tattershall library does not currently have a bidder to run the service.” see also Third community group (Wainfleet) withdraws library offer – Save Lincolnshire Libraries.
  • Lincolnshire – Volunteer Crisis – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “The council’s plan for Lincolnshire libraries forces 30 libraries into the hands of volunteers, making over 100 people redundant. All the communities we have spoken to do not want to volunteer to take over their libraries and take away jobs from library workers, they feel they are being forced into this. Several groups have already withdrawn their support. The council’s reliance on volunteers to ‘save’ libraries is failing before it’s even implemented. Listen to to the voices of these communities below (newest first):”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Opening of new Scartho library ‘imminent’ – Grimsby Telegraph. “The re-opening of Scartho Library is “imminent”. That’s the pledge of Foresight, the Grimsby charity that is taking over the service from North East Lincolnshire Council. The library closed late last year and was due to reopen under Foresight’s Older People’s Project on Monday, January 5. However, there have been some legal issues which have delayed the signing of the lease, which has put back the opening date.”
  • North Yorkshire – MP seeks reassurances over community library proposals – Yorkshire Post. “At present North Yorkshire County Council runs over thirty libraries and it says volunteer support will be needed at all libraries, even those it is proposing to continue running, as it struggles to balance its books in the light of budget cuts which has seen its spending falling by some £167m. Andrew Jones, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, says a successful community model has already been adopted at Bilton and Woodfield Community library but he is concerned that if the scheme is widened more libraries would be at risk of closure.”
  • Southampton – How Cobbett Road Library changed my life – Bitterne Park Info.  “This National Libraries Day on Saturday, February 7, find out how Blue Peter award-winning children’s author Ali Sparkes went from struggling reader to professional writer thanks to Cobbett Road – the library down the road”
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire County Council backtracks over local libraries planStoke Sentinel. “the council is now set to retain 18 of the 24 sites, where there is not sufficient community interest in taking them on. Paid managers will oversee ‘clusters’ of around three libraries where teams of volunteers will be responsibility for the day-to-day running of the facilities.” … “Paid managers will oversee ‘clusters’ of around three libraries where teams of volunteers will be responsibility for the day-to-day running of the facilities. And the council will remain responsible for paying the buildings’ running costs.”

“A council consultation on the proposals found that 63 per cent of people had no interest in helping to run libraries, with only 4 per cent saying they wanted to volunteer ‘a great deal’. A further 16 per cent said they wanted to help ‘a little’. Only 30 per cent of people said they agreed with the plan to transfer the 24 libraries to community groups, with 46 per cent opposing the proposal.”

  • Trafford – North of Trafford ‘unfairly targeted’ by library cuts says MP – Messenger. “Ms Green said: “I’m disgusted that yet again it’s residents in Stretford and Urmston who are bearing the brunt of Trafford Tory cuts. “Three libraries are earmarked for closure in my constituency while libraries in the south of the borough are getting new investment. The Tories are deliberately choosing to cut the service in poorer parts of Trafford while richer areas are protected.” Meanwhile the Delamere Toy Library, which was established by a group of parents to provide speciality toys to benefit disabled children is set to lose its two part time workers, currently funded by Trafford Council.”
  • Trafford – Trafford council propose to shut three libraries in bid to save £700k – Manchester Evening News. “Trafford council needs to cut a third of its libraries budget as part of £24m savings this year. Bowfell library in Urmston, Davyhulme and Lostock library in Stetford could all close. Town hall chiefs say those three sites are not well used and are close to Urmston and Stretford libraries. They say the majority of Bowfell, Davyhulme and Lostock customers use at least one other library.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Lawyer warns council of challenges ahead – Penarth Times. “A public interest lawyer has advised that the Vale Council should expect more legal challenges ahead of a conference for library campaigners fighting spending cutbacks. Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors said the authority will experience more challenges, this year, ahead of a major conference in Cardiff for campaign groups. Mr Imperato, who successfully advised the Rhydyfelin Library Support Group in their case against Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, will be speaking at the Public Law conference at the Hilton Hotel on January, 23 which is expected to attract a number of local library campaign groups fighting local closures.”
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When I was very young. I used to like But can’t say I still do The books of Enid Blyton. But I still like Pooh. Happy bethuthdy, Wallasey!

— Ian Whybrow(@ianwhybrow) January 19, 2015


Wallasey Central Children’s Library is celebrating Its 100th Birthday! One of the first separate public libraries for children in the country, the library was opened during WW1, survived being bombed in WW2, has been much loved by generations of Wallasey children and reaches its centenary in 2015. Readers and Staff at Wallasey Library would like to invite anyone who loves libraries to help us celebrate by… Sending us a birthday card! Please send a 100th Birthday card – homemade cards welcome of course – as early in the year as possible to Wallasey Central Children’s Library, Earlston Road, Wallasey, CH45 5DX. Please include a mention of a children’s book you have particularly enjoyed. Wallasey children and their parents and carers are sharing and enjoying books every day.  They would love to hear from you. Thank You! From All at Wallasey Central Children’s Library – Wirral