Ed Vaizey, to the surprise of no one, has decided not to intervene in Sheffield.  His decision includes a decision that the cuts do not go against national library policy, which again is no surprise as there does not appear to be a national library policy that anyone can discern. Here’s the view of a Sheffield campaigner:

“He’s saying that the needs assessment is at fault, but it doesn’t matter because it’s still a comprehensive and efficient service – even though the flawed needs assessment results in a patchy, uneven distribution, leaving a quarter of the city, by area, without a library. Try telling that to the 6 local primary and infant schools who bring their children to our, now voluntary and financially very vulnerable, library. He’s still referring to “national library policy” without saying what that is, and doesn’t give the criteria by which he judged the service comprehensive and efficient. He’s also saying that libraries aren’t important enough to justify the expense of an inquiry. Basically there appear to be no grounds on which he would intervene in libraries – we already knew that, but he’s really excelled himself this time.” BLAG

For library users who are, therefore unsatisfied with a final decision by the council, it appears that legal action is the only effective step one can take.  It may therefore be opportune to read the following piece by a solicitor who has fought judicial reviews and has some experience of successful legal actions against councils.

On brighter news, hey, look … not one but two new libraries have opened in the last week.  Both look lovely, although it’s interesting one has opened despite protests about losing the old library. I’ve also added a new section, “School libraries”, at the end of the post because there seems to be a lot of links between them and public libraries.  Do let me know your thoughts.

Please email any news, views or corrections to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk

Legal Funding for Library Campaign Groups Fighting Closures – Solicitor Michael Imperato writes …

“There are times when you have to fight for your rights.  Libraries are under threat across the country and campaigners should not be frightened to seek legal advice.  The main concern is of course costs.  However, Legal Aid (LA) may well be available.

To obtain LA in such circumstances you need a “man of straw” i.e. someone (it can be a woman) who is on low income and has no real assets.  That person should have some link to the area in which the library is based but does not have to be a prominent campaigner themselves.  Ideally the campaigners should instruct a Lawyer who has credibility and good contacts with the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).  LA will be applied for in the name of the “man of straw” to allow the matter to be further investigated.  If LA is granted the Lawyer can undertake substantive work and, if need be, instruct a Barrister.  Win or lose the Lawyer will be paid (albeit at a low rate!) and the nominal client has the protection of the shield of LA in that he/she cannot have any costs orders enforced against them if Court Proceedings are issued but the case is ultimately lost.

The form of Legal proceedings in such cases is known as Judicial Review (JR).  Time is of the essence in a JR case so campaigning groups should line up their “man of straw” as soon as possible.  It is possible the LAA will ask the campaign group to make a contribution towards the costs but unless the library of concern is in a hugely wealthy area this should be nominal and well within the reach of most groups who do a little fundraising.

Therefore, campaigners fighting library closures should not commit themselves to paying large amounts of money on legal costs.  Instead they should explore the option of Legal Aid.  Armed with a “man of straw” and good arguments they should be able to obtain Legal Aid to take on the might of the Local Authority.”

Michael Imperato is a solicitor at Watkins & Gunn and is recognised as one of the country’s leading public law lawyers acting for individuals and campaign groups fighting service cuts. He has  advised in successful library campaigns and been involved in a number of high profile Judicial Review cases.



National UK news

  • A classic Welsh read – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. ” new scheme has just been launched to find the most loved Welsh language classic books. If you have a favourite book in the Welsh language that you think is a classic, you can nominate the book for inclusion in a list which will then be distributed to libraries, bookshops and colleges to encourage others to read and enjoy Welsh language books. And there’s a prize draw to encourage you to enter your favourite books for inclusion! The campaign is a partnership between the Society of Chief Librarians Wales, the Welsh Books Council and Literature Wales. A panel of members representing these organisations will select the list from the nominations received and agree on the inclusion of recognised classics.”
  • Library card womens socks – British Library. “Ideal for library fans, a striking pair of socks featuring a retro library card, with fields for author, title, and date due.” See also the library card pencil case.
  • Most Pencils Laid End To End In A Public Library – Record Setter. Can you beat 1200 pencils laid end to end? North Yorkshire Library has the record … at the moment.

“Let us know how we can be of support. We heart library-based world records” @RecordSetter

  • Nielsen BMS announces new Chair – Nielsen. “The Book Marketing Society is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Chair, Miranda McKearney OBE. The Book Marketing Society (BMS), an organisation founded in 2004 to champion marketing professionalism in the book publishing industry, is now part of Nielsen Book. Miranda McKearney, founder (in 2002) and former CEO of national charity The Reading Agency, takes on the role from previous Chair Martin Neild, who has stepped down after five years.”
  • Support Libraries, support public services – Leon’s Library Blog. “Public services are under attack as never before and it’s up to us as users and public sector workers to defend them. So support libraries, support public services, support the common good.”.  The blog now contains a new page Public Services, which includes campaign groups for various public services.


  • Innisfil Public Library receives the 2015 OLITA Project Award for ‘Cultivating a Hacker Ethic’ – OCLC (Canada). “As part of Innisfil Public Library’s (IPL) 2012 strategic planning process, the library identified the need to evolve in order to remain relevant and continue to provide value to its community. Sound familiar? Having been temporarily displaced during renovations to IPL’s main branch, staff members took over a vacant commercial space. Instead of simply replicating the old branch, IPL created the Innisfil ideaLab—a hacker lab where traditional library materials and maker equipment exist symbiotically.”

“Have you been to the Library recently? You should see it! They moved into an old Shoppers Drug Mart and you should see what they’ve done with the place! Just incredible! Amazing really! They’ve got laser cutters and 3D printers! And the staff is just so friendly!”

  • James Patterson launches grant program for libraries – AP (USA). “Having handed out more than $1 million to help independent bookstores, James Patterson is now sharing his wealth with some other vital, but often struggling institutions: School libraries. The best-selling author announced Monday that he was donating $1.25 million through a grant program administered with Scholastic Reading Club, a division of Scholastic, Inc. Libraries or supporters of libraries can seek donations $1,000 to $10,000. Scholastic will match each donation with “Bonus Points” that can be used to purchase classroom materials. According to Patterson, requests can be for anything from fixing a computer system to paying for a school reading project.” See here for the US only website for applications.
  • Kurau Community Library – Poskod.My (Malaysia). “The library is staffed by student volunteers, who get to stay above the library in exchange for helping to run it. Unlike several private libraries around KL, there is no membership fee. The books and magazines – spanning fiction and non-fiction genres – are mostly donated by members of the public.”
  • Publisher Revenue Plummets as the Novelty of eBooks Wane – Good EReader (USA). “Is the novelty of e-books wearing off? It depends on who you ask. I think the main reason is that 95% of all US libraries currently have an e-book collection and its very easily to borrow them. e-Book subscription sites have also gained  traction with Entitle, Scribd and Oyster offering compelling value propositions.”
  • War Ink: Veterans, Tattoos, and Public Libraries – Public Libraries Online (USA). “The public library exhibit, entirely online, was made possible by the support of partners who joined the vision shared by its co-creators to make possible the veterans’ war experience through the stories told in tattoos. Funders for War Ink included The Institute of Museum and Library Services, Pacific Library Partnership, and Cal Humanities. Support was also given in a variety of ways from Eureka! Leadership Institute, StoryCorps, along with generous businesses, and dedicated individuals.”


  • The Future of Local Libraries and Cultural Services – Public Policy Exchange, 11th June in London. “This timely symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for local authorities, government departments, the library sector, shared services teams and other key partners to examine the Government’s latest policy initiatives and explore how libraries can remain a vital local resource in the 21st Century – innovating and adapting to deliver a whole range of services”
  • The Library onconference #LIBONCON2015 – April 16, everywhere. “The Library OnConference is a brand-new networking concept for public librarians. It’s a chance for library professionals to connect, share ideas, and get inspired. What makes it unique is that the whole conference, from keynote speaker to small group sessions, will be held by using Google Hangouts.  No travel/hotel costs. No transportation. No conflicting schedules. Just ideas, inspiration, and conversation.  

UK local news by authority

  • Brighton and Hove – 10 things you might not know about Brighton’s Jubilee Library as it celebrates ten years’ service – Argus. “To celebrate its first ten years, volunteers and young people joined together on World Book Day to enjoy birthday cake and ice cream and to listen to the work of local writers as part of a new installation. The Young City Reads programme, which encourages children to read for pleasure, was also launched on Thursday. This year’s chosen book is William Sutcliffe’s Circus of Thieves and the Raffle of Doom. Brighton ice cream parlour Boho Gelato created a new flavour, Big Top Banan(z)a, inspired by the book.”.  Some interesting Top Ten lists.

“No person who in the reasonable opinion of the library officer is offensively unclean in person or clothing or both shall remain in the library after having been asked by a library officer to leave the library” One of ten library rules, Brighton.

  • Bristol – Green Party should leave libraries alone – Bristol Post / Letters. “note with a great deal of anger and scepticism that it is Green councillor and Assistant Mayor, Daniela Radice who is responsible for libraries. I noted that none of the threatened libraries are in her Bishopston ward. This is the same Green Party which, two years ago, tried to close down the adult education service in Bristol and then had to backtrack when no other party would support them. Since when was it Green Party policy to cut these services? It’s all very well for them to celebrate Green city status of Bristol but libraries and adult education classes are fundamental, communal services which have taken years to build up indicate a civilised, decent society.”
  • Bristol – Reader’s letter: Bristol libraries need to be saved – Bristol Post / Letters. “I am writing to let you know how disappointed I was by your comment “Closure of Libraries is inevitable” … “I disagree that the internet has undermined their position. On the contrary, as a provider of free internet access on the computers provided their existence is even more vital in this day and age. We hear often about the widening gap between rich and poor and not every family owns a PC.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Library cuts ‘concerning’, says top councillor Richard Scott – Bucks Free Press. “the Conservative believes the service it is too important to residents to make wholesale changes without proving it is necessary. He said: “I am very concerned to see the possible reduction in hours at Marlow Library. “I have asked the council for information that supports the change. “In principle I am opposed to changing what is a well used service not just by people borrowing books but using it for the internet and students for research.”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – Most Pencils Laid End To End In A Public Library – RecordSetter. A video of the record of 1200 pencils in honour of National Libraries Day.  And why not?
  • Herefordshire – Two weeks of celebrations to mark the opening of the Master’s House – Ledbury Reporter. “Th”e fifteenth century Master’s House, on St Katherine’s car park, has undergone a £2.9m restoration and Ledbury’s new library is now housed there, following its move from the Elizabeth Barrett Browning Institute. One of the first through the doors was Jan Long of Bromsberrow, who said: “The interior looked simply stunning, with user-friendly lighting and signage, and a sympathetically engineered juxtaposition between historic building and brand new library facilities.”
  • Leicestershire – Rothley residents plan the library’s future – Loughborough Echo. “Villagers filled the meeting room at Rothley centre on Tuesday, February 24 to discuss the threat with the view of saving the village facility. The Rothley Community Library Group set up with that purpose says the facility has nearly a 1,000 users – which is 20 per cent of the village. The team leader Steve Mitchell explained that the county council is prepared to lease the current premises and provide books and the library system at the county’s expense.”
A nice new library in Medway.  Good quote too

A nice new library in Medway. Good quote too

Medway – Library and community hub opens in Strood High Street replacing the Bryant Road service – Kent Online. “The Community Hub in Strood High Street has replaced Bryant Road library and opened its doors for the first time today (Monday). It boasts almost 4,000 new books and artwork from pupils at the nearby English Martyrs and St Nicholas schools decorates the walls, but it is the large and colourful children’s area which has the most impact.” … “Spread over four floors, the open plan space is a few metres larger than its predecessor and there are meeting rooms for community groups and charities to use.” … “Protesters objected to the relocation for a number of reasons, including the High Street site with limited parking. The council has created three disabled bays outside and allocated eight spaces in the Temple Street council carpark near Tesco.”

North Yorkshire – Library is in the true heart of village community – Northern Echo. ““It is great that the village still has a library, even though it is small, rather than nothing at all,” he says. But he is adamant that the community library model should not be a replacement for all fully-functioning libraries with trained staff and the range of services they can offer. “Even though the village library in our pub works well, it doesn’t justify the council closing libraries. “This library replaced the mobile library, which in some ways is better because it is here all the time rather than only when the bus visited – but there are no staff looking after it,””

Peterborough – Culture trust Vivacity ‘disappointed’ as cuts are voted through – Peterborough Today. “The trust which runs culture, leisure, libraries and sport services in Peterborough has expressed disappointment as cuts to it budget were confirmed, and warned there is no quick fix to bringing in outsde funding. Vivacity chief executive Kevin Tighe has re-iterated feelings expressed in January when it was revealed that the trust was set to lose £750,000 a year as part of Peterborough City Council cuts to its budget.”

“News from Walkley Carnegie Library, Sheffield. At a recent public meeting we were told by the Labour Cabinet Member for Communities & Public Health & council officers that Sheffield City Council are now selling this local “associate” library, housed in a beautiful but sadly neglected, listed building and now run by volunteers, to local enterprise Forum Café Bars (FCB). This apparent change of plan means that the council will now lease the current children’s library room back from FCB for library use. I for one was amazed at the apparent lack of knowledge about library matters displayed by the council cabinet member and the council officer from library services.” Sheffield – Email received.

  • Sheffield – Local inquiry into library provision in Sheffield – Google Docs.  Copy of the letter from Ed Vaizey confirming he won’t be intervening in Sheffield.
  • Staffordshire – Library cutbacks are controversial move – Sentinel. “Staffordshire County Council is planning to publish adverts this summer asking for community groups to come forward to manage some of the county’s smaller libraries. They will then receive support to work up business cases and will be handed the keys to the buildings this autumn. The approach will be initially trialled in six libraries, including Silverdale, Loggerheads and Werrington.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Over 2,000 object to Vale library shake-up – Barry and District News. “A 2,000-plus strong petition objecting to Vale library changes was presented to the Vale Council – hours before councillors told residents no volunteers would mean closures. Councillors said groups would need to express interest and produce business plans to establish community-led libraries in Dinas Powys, Rhoose, Wenvoe, St Athan and Sully. The interest would need to be lodged before May 18, with the plan put together before July, decision-makers announced at their community cabinet meeting on Monday, March 9.”
  • Wirral – Save Wirral’s Library Service – 38 Degrees. “Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council is attempting to save money by drastically cutting the staffing levels of its library service to the point where we question whether it is in danger of breaching its obligations under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. It is proposing to reduce the opening hours of libraries at a time when it is also requiring Wirral residents to communicate with the authority digitally via the internet … ” 2830 signatures so far. 
  • York – Exploring the Stadium Library – York Community Stadium. “Almost a year since Explore left council control, the community benefit society are hoping to add a new kind of venture to their books. Fiona Williams, Chief Executive of Explore, said the fact that a library may be unexpected in a sports facility, is exactly why they want to be there. She said: “We are aiming to reach non-traditional library users and surprise people with something unusual. Our vision is to enable everyone to lead better, more connected and engaged lives and the stadium offers us a chance to develop a whole new way of delivering our services.” The library will offer all the normal services you would expect, but there will be a focus on health and sports information. This includes the creation of a Community Sports Archive, documenting the history of local sports clubs and the stadium site.”

School Libraries

  • Groundbreaking research in schools and workplaces will marry individual information competencies with citizenship and employability – CILIP. “The first study, Learning, lending, liberty? Can school libraries be engines for youth citizenship? will analyse how school libraries in Scotland are serving to support young people’s participation in two major political events: the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014 and the UK General Election 2015. It will look at young people’s information and information literacy (IL) needs outside of the school environment and identify how IL skills are vital in helping them become informed and meaningful participants in politics.  “
  • Revealed: Teachers and parents outraged Scottish schools are spending just 70p a month per pupil on books – Daily Record. “parents will be shocked to learn that across the country cash-strapped councils are spending an average of just £8.45 – or 70p a month – per head on all library and text books. The paltry figure – unlikely to fund even one book for each child a year – was last night slammed by teachers, union leaders and politicians.”
  • Inverclyde – Greenock author’s call to save school libraries from council cuts – Greenock Telegraph. “Award-winning author Cathy MacPhail is urging Inverclyde Council to protect school libraries from cuts. Her call comes as council leaders warn that there will be more savings needed over the next couple of years to balance the books. A £27,000-a-year school librarian resources post has already disappeared and writer Cathy fears that libraries are always vulnerable when there are budget cuts to be made.”