One of the things you notice about libraries is that no one is turned away.  As long as you’re not disturbing anyone or trashing anything then it doesn’t matter who you are, what money you have or where you come from, you can come in.  A library is the one place where you should be able to come in, no questions asked. Which is why this tweet below showing a picture from a San Diego Library so annoyed me.  It’s a way to keep the homeless out – if you’ve got big bags then you can’t come in.  Doesn’t matter if you disturb anyone when you get in or not, tough, your misfortune means we can say no.  The sneaky policy means the library service can say, hand on heart, that it has no policy against the homeless.  Just that, strangely, they don’t see that many any more. Fancy that. Like the twitterer, I like nothing about this.


This is an example of a deliberate barrier put in place but there are many other, less obvious barriers that we can all be guilty of.  Way back when, my library service required two forms of  ID to join.  I was turning away people who wanted to use the service.  Now, we require no ID at all and – you know what? – it’s made no noticeable difference on lost stock but it sure as heck means I don’t turn people away now.  It also means that if you are guilty of the crime of not having an address then you can join the library.  Which is how it should be. Don’t get me wrong, if someone is disturbing other people in the library, they are ejected and if they steal things, we treat it seriously – but to stop people using the service because of bureaucracy is not somewhere we should be in 2015. The library’s place as the home for the homeless, the temple for all religions and none, places a heavy task on library staff to leave their prejudices (conscious or not), not bags, at the door.


UK national news

  • Coates: ‘Too much library money going on council overheads’ – BookSeller. “Using data gathered annually on library services by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), Coates’ research has shown that spending on book stock by councils has declined from a high of £79.2m in 2007/8, before the international recession, to its present figure of £65.1m, recorded in the latest set of figures for 2013/14, a fall of nearly 18%. In 2000/1, the first year analysed, book stock spending was £75.4m, meaning the present figure is a decline of a more than 13%. At the same time as spending on book stocks has decline, the amount spent on council overhead charges has increased dramatically. The money, which is taken from library budgets to fund overall council expenditure, has more than doubled from £62.4m in 2000/1, to £133m in 2013/14, a growth of 113%.”
  • Tinder Foundation launches Be Online campaign – Computer Weekly. “Be Online sessions will be taking place in cafes and pubs, job centres, health centres, libraries and church halls throughout the UK. Tinder Foundation estimates there are 10.5 million people in the UK who lack basic digital skills and are therefore being excluded from opportunities, services and savings. On average, people online are £440 a year better off than those offline and are expected to earn 3-10% more money.”


  • Auckland library hours changed in push to save $1.1m – New Zealand Herald (New Zealand). “Most libraries will have reduced opening hours, while some others will be extended, in a bid to save $1.1 million in Auckland Council’s proposed budget. The core service is not spared in the 10-year budget, which also targets a 7 per cent cutback in park maintenance. The city’s 55 libraries will remain open on Saturdays, but Whangaparaoa, Mahurangi East and Birkenhead or Northcote will be closed on Sundays.” … “In the past year, four new library buildings have opened, at Waiheke, Ranui, Te Atatu Peninsula and Devonport, which will lose three and a half hours of service at its new $7.8 million library.”
  • Cliff Eyland’s 6,000 tiny paintings a hit at Halifax library – CBC News (Canada). “When children walk into Halifax’s new library on Spring Garden Road, they’re often drawn to the left. From floor to ceiling, the eastern wall is dotted with tiny works of art that ask to be examined up close. Cliff Eyland spent nearly two years creating 6,000 of the miniature paintings and drawings. When the library ran out of space on the first floor, the art overflowed to the lofty fifth floor. Eyland, who grew up in Dartmouth and attended NSCAD University, spent all of October hanging the pieces. However, he was also battling a longtime lung disease that was getting worse. He had pneumonia then, and since returning to his home in Winnipeg, he has been dependent on portable oxygen and unable to walk more than a few metres.”
  • Is there a library-sized hole in the internet? – Research Information (USA). “In the face of considerable challenges, libraries have done very good things, but it’s going to take more. Libraries are providing open access to a closed world, and that is a tremendous service, but they are severely constrained by copyright laws that were not designed for a networked age. They also have limited budgets. But they were early to digitise their catalogues in the 1960s, and they were also quick to get on the web as portals. And for at least five years, there has been a blooming of library innovation, which is going down the right track … the right track is to make library information both public and interoperable where possible”
  • ISIS Burns 8,000 Books After Destroying The Mosul Public Library In Its Ongoing “Cultural Cleansing” Of Iraq – Bustle (Iraq). “Over the weekend, ISIS bombed the Mosul Public Library and burned 8,000 books, many of which were rare titles and manuscripts. The Public Library is the latest target in a series of raids that have demolished libraries in Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq over the past few months. In addition to destroying literature or materials that don’t comply with the group’s interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, ISIS has also been burning religious and cultural institutions, not to mention brutally killing religious and ethnic minorities, systematic attacks that the U.N. has called “cultural cleansing.”

“The library was looted and destroyed during the Iraq War, but it managed to survive because residents were able to salvage many of the books, and wealthy families were able to purchase back the stolen ones. Under ISIS’s control, it’s a different story — the library and its patrons helplessly watched as it burned to the ground.”

  • Libraries Are The New Community Centers, Town Greens – Courant (USA). “To their book discussions and story times, public libraries are adding 3-D printers and “Maker” spaces — an area where patrons of all ages can try out the printers, dabble in computer coding or work individually, or collaboratively, to create DIY technology. In Connecticut and elsewhere, robotics programs are hot. The library in Westport even acquired a pair of humanoid robots, Vincent and Nancy, to teach robotics and programming. Hartford Public Library is hosting job fairs and job training in partnership with community and state agencies. Patrons of the public library in Southington have access to more than 800 free online noncredit courses.”
    UK local news by authority
  • Barnet – Consultation over future of libraries in Barnet ends – Times series. “Barnet Borough Council needs to save £72m by 2020 and is proposing to close libraries, make them smaller or leave them unstaffed by making greater use of volunteers. But the authority’s opposition Labour councillors put forward a motion to be debated at the next full council meeting to re-consult residents on different options.”
  • Barnet – Senior politicians oppose library closures in Barnet – Barnet Today. “MP Theresa Villiers is opposing library closures in her constituency and is challenging Barnet council to find other ways to find savings in the libraries budget. The Conservative MP is one of 2,059 people who responded to the council’s consultation of three options which could see six libraries shut to trim £2.85 million from the libraries budget. “
  • Borders – Sports trust solution revealed for threatened libraries, halls and museums Border Telegraph. Delay may occur to move to Trust status: this “follows confirmation this week that these so-called cultural services – which employ around 200 staff and cost the council nearly £5m a year to run – could now be absorbed into the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT). If the move goes ahead, the BSLT, which already runs 14 sports facilities including six swimming pools and several leisure centres, will have a combined annual budget of around £12m.”.  Property issues etc have delayed move but  there is a “warning that, if the switch did not go ahead, then one large hall, one main library, one museum and one community centre could be forced to close in the Borders.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Centre cuts provide ‘significant savings’ claim council – Argus. “Two centres – West Hove and Cornerstone, also in Hove – remain in the firing line as well as other services including baby groups at libraries. There could also be job losses … “If the library groups shut down, could this put the libraries as a whole at risk later on because less people use them? They need to think of the knock-on effect this will have.”
  • Bristol – Closures of libraries are inevitable – Bristol Post / Letters. Writer says technological change has rendered libraries obsolete: “in the 21st century these libraries are at best an anachronism.”
  • Bristol – Seven Bristol libraries facing closure – Bristol Post. “Although people feel passionately about libraries, largely because they give free access to the world of learning and are therefore regarded by some as crucial to the fundamental principle of a democracy, the sad fact is that only six per cent of us are active members of the city’s library service. Add to this the council’s commitment to make £1million cuts from the city’s 28 libraries and you have a heady cocktail for a city-wide controversy which will rage well beyond polling day on May 7.” … “with a massive 83 [sic – that can’t be right – Ed.] per cent of the budget spent on staffing, it is inevitable that jobs will have to go. A total 130 staff – full-time equivalents – are employed by the library service but many of them are part-timers.” see also Seven Bristol libraries could close under council plans – BBC. “About 40 jobs are under threat as a result. “
  • Coventry – Some Coventry libraries ‘not fit for purpose’, councillor claims – Coventry Observer. “He claimed no libraries staff would be made compulsorily redundant, and he suggested libraries could move to schools and other buildings in some of the communities. He made the unlikely claim this “re-modelling” of libraries would actually “enhance” the service. Coun Kershaw said the future library service would be a “non-judgemental space where young and older people can explore and find new knowledge supported by staff; a place of mutual support and self-improvement.”
  • East Renfrewshire – Council does u-turn over recruiting pupils to help run libraries as full-time staff face axe –  Herald Scotland. “East Renfrewshire Council proposed the idea of involving senior-year pupils in certain duties, while aiming to make all librarians in its seven secondary schools part-time to save £131,000. Now it has emerged that the move to involve pupils has been dumped although the council is still considering plans to reduce cover at the schools.”
  • Gateshead – Gateshead’s libraries and leisure centres stay open but with reduced hours – Chronicle. “In an attempt to slash £1m from its leisure budget, the council will reduce opening hours at Birtley, Blaydon, Dunston, Heworth and Gateshead International Stadium and Gateshead Leisure Centre, with many closed entirely between Christmas and New Year.” … Felling Library: reduced by six hours to open for 32 hours a week. Chopwell Library: proposed move to Chopwell Primary School with hours reduced by 30% to open for 25 hours a week. Rowlands Gill Library: reduce opening hours by 35%, 14 hours a week. Wreckenton Library: proposed move to Wreckenton Hub and service to be managed by Gateshead Housing Company. Dunston Library: six month life-line with potential asset transfer option. Pelaw Library: 12 month timetable for it to become a community run library. From June 2015 there will be a 50% reduction in funding for community -run libraries at Low Fell, Lobley Hill, Ryton, Sunderland Road and Winlaton.
  • Halton – Closing date of Halton’s mobile library service announced – Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News. “final plans for the closure of Halton’s mobile library service have been announced. The service will stop operating on Saturday, March 28, and users will be able to borrow and return books to it up to Saturday, March 7. Between the two dates, returns can be made to the mobile library but after March 28, customers will have to take their returns to any of static libraries across Runcorn and Widnes.”
  • Hertfordshire – Cuts to libraries passed by council chiefs – St Albans Review. “London Colney Library will “retain an element of paid library staff” despite cuts of more than £2million to the library budget. Earlier this month Councillor Button vowed “within the next ten years, there is no plan to close any of the 46 libraries” despite plans to slash £2.5 million from the library budget in the next three years.” … “Tier 3 libraries will be forced to rely on a greater number of volunteers and there will be “self-service access” to many of the services. “
  • Lincolnshire – The Library (A poem from a Deepings library campaigner) – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “So use your local library
    And visit it today. Don’t let them close your library. Don’t let them take it away.”
  • Lincolnshire – Tim Coates – former Waterstones boss – brands Lincolnshire County Council “disgraceful & contemptible in the extreme” – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. ““I think the entire focus of the national library campaign should be to ensure that no conservative politician is elected in Lincolnshire in May in the general elections – no MP – and no councillor.”

“Nearly 50% of the stock. And you think they had good reasons. Listen to yourself. You obviously were not familiar with that collection. Staff were working in a state of panic to get rid of stock they did not have room for. Those who care are ashamed of themselves for this wanton destruction of public property. Those who don’t are in charge.” Manchester – comment on previous PLN post editorial about weeding at Manchester Central Library

  • Northern Ireland – Strathfoyle library cuts ‘cannot happen’ – Derry Journal. “Paul Hughes, from Enagh Youth Forum, said Strathfoyle was a deprived enough area at the best times and explained that any change to the way in which the local operates would impact negatively upon the community. “It has been proposed that Strathfoyle Library will lose five hours opening time – this cannot happen,””
  • Peterborough – Funding cut to Peterborough’s libraries reduced during consultation – Peterborough Telegraph. “An annual £350,000 saving is to be toned down after Peterborough City Council listened to feedback from concerned residents. A new model which would introduce self-service technology into Peterborough’s 10 libraries is currently being consulted on. The model would see libraries open for 50 per cent longer with residents able to use self-service technology when staff are not there. However, the number of hours the libraries are staffed would reduce from 261 to 149. Concerns at how the new model would work have already been raised by the Friends of Bretton Library.”.  Lead councillor says “I am recommending that the council invest £45,000 back into the library service, reducing the saving to this service from £350,000 to £305,000. “
  • South Tyneside – ‘We’ll pay you sooner if you charge us less,’ council tells companies – Gazette. “More than 3,000 suppliers that help South Tyneside Council provide a range of key services – from books and materials in schools and libraries to highways maintenance and waste disposal – have been invited to sign up to a new scheme. Companies that sell goods or services to the council will have their invoices dealt with weeks earlier than normal in exchange for a small cash return or discount as part of the supplier incentive programme.”
  • Southampton – Wildlife star battles to save city library – Daily Echo. “The naturalist today urged residents to “shout above the noise” and to battle proposed cuts that will see the city’s library services slashed. The BBC Springwatch frontman’s plea comes ahead of tonight’s public meeting hosted by campaigners at Cobbett Road Library in Bitterne – one of five services at risk of closure. Labour council bosses are proposing to cut opening times by more than 50 per cent – losing 120 hours and a total of 18 jobs as a result.”