Two more libraries – presumably because of the financial new year – have been passed on to Trusts but the main news is that the politics is heating up.  People are noticing there’s a general election coming up. The Labour Mayor of Liverpool, who has been busy cutting libraries, claims that you ain’t seen nothing if the Conservatives get into Number 10 – he says there won’t be a library left by the end of the term if they do. Leon, on the other hand, in his blog, points out that it doesn’t seem to matter if it’s the Tories or Labour when it comes to libraries: the only real hope lies with the “small” parties.

There’s also an excellent piece on the grim reality behind volunteer libraries by Dawn Finch and a no less superb piece by Pedronicus pointing out that there’s a disconnect between all the shiny talk about 3D printers and the cuts actually taking place.  Someone pointed out to me while discussing this that in one consultation they were asked about 3D printers while the council was looking to cut several hundred thousand pounds: it was like being asked what type of Ferrari you wanted while not being able to afford the Mini any more.  Or being distracted by the big shiny lights while the man behind the curtain pulls the levers and steals your library.



My calculations about the number of libraries per head in Lincolnshire that Ed Vaizey has agreed is acceptable was in error due to not taking into account that North Lincolnshire, as well as Northeast Lincolnshire, are unitary councils.  They therefore have libraries and so their population needs taking into account.

North Lincolnshire Council has got 167,500 population so that makes a total for Lincolnshire County Council alone of 682500.  682500 divided by 15 branches equals a still eye-watering 45500 people per branch.  England has a population of 53 million, that divided by 45500 equals 1100.  There’s 2900 libraries in England so that still makes 1800 libraries that Ed Vaizey would accept are not needed under this revised figure.  It is also worth noting that Lincoln, which has a population of 94600 would only have one branch under the council’s proposals.

National news

  • Election 2015: Last chance for libraries – Speak Up For Libraries (press release). “The Speak up for Libraries alliance is urging people everywhere to make public libraries a central issue in the General Election – and local elections. Already, many library services are threatened by, or already  experiencing, deep cuts, widespread closures of vital local branches – or the damaging policy of turning them over to volunteers to run. This is a once-in-five-years chance to make sure central government understands that libraries are a low-cost, essential resource for the work of local councils, and for national agendas such as ‘Digital by Default’ – and deeply valued by local residents and the nation as a whole. Yet the Government continues to cut the grants given to local authorities, meaning that although libraries are a statutory service, they are often seen as a soft target for savings. Such cuts often save little, but do great damage.”

“If people wait another five years, their own library could go. Nationally a postcode lottery will become a reality, with only some communities benefiting from the presence of a council funded and professionally run library.”

  • The “future of libraries” and the black hole of “Library Leadership” – Pedronicus. “Don’t get me wrong, I can imagine that 3D printing is fabulous, and that making and hacking might be great and worthy enterprises. I just do not comprehend the reason for what appears to be a massive disconnect between promoting these things and what is happening on the ground, to libraries, now. At the present rate the number of libraries left that anyone will be able to “hack”, or introduce maker spaces or a 3D printer to, is going to be a pitiful fraction of what existed before the present destruction started. I don’t have a problem with anyone being enthusiastic about these things as possibly good enterprises in and of themselves. What I do baulk it is the proposition that these things will in some way usher in a fabulous shiny future for public libraries; or that the libraries and librarians are in some way “behind the times” or Luddite if they do not enthusiastically jump on the bandwagon; or that bringing these innovations into library services will “save libraries”. If not explicitly stated it seems to me these are often sub-texts to the narratives of the printer/maker/hacker advocates.
  • The harsh truth about volunteers – Medley of Extemporanea.  Dawn Finch, vice president of CILIP, describes the many pitfalls and problems of volunteers in libraries.  Reasons include: you can’t timetable them, they cancel at a moment’s notice, you have little or no recourse when they are bad at what they do, you can’t insist that they undergo extensive training, you can’t insist on an apolitical standpoint, they are not protected in the event of injury or incident, they only do what they want to do, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, they drift off, they don’t really know what they are doing. There are many comments supporting the worries about volunteers.

“Running libraries on volunteers is not a cheap and effective way of saving your local library service, it is a carcinogenic scheme that will ultimately kill it.”

  • Libraries: think, act and vote small – Leon’s Library Blog. “Personally, I thought it was the three women in the debate, Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Natalie Bennett (Green Party), and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) that came out of it the best and all challenged the prevailing austerity myth of the Westminster parties. Well done to Natalie Bennett for mentioning libraries as being one of the public services being irrevocably damaged by the Coalition’s slavish commitment to austerity.” … “The big parties offer no positive alternative for libraries but the small parties might.”

“it’s surprising how many within the library world are put off as soon as the ‘P’ word is mentioned; and by that I mean politics. Any attempt to equate the fight for public libraries with the wider political situation is met with uncomfortable shuffling and muttering. Quickly followed by an attempt to turn the conversation back to ‘real’ library issues such as copyright, LMS suppliers, the theme for this year’s SRC, or the ongoing gripe about the cost of Cilip subs”


  • Announcing “The Political Librarian”, a New Journal from EveryLibrary – EveryLibrary (USA). “For too long, there has been a dearth of research, discussion, and published content related to locally focused advocacy, policy, and funding issues for libraries.
  • Our Public Library Minecraft Community – School Library Journal (USA). “Minecraft has also turned my public library into a gathering spot for friends, new and old, and a place to decompress. I’m the assistant director for innovation and user experience at the Darien (CT) Library. Like many other libraries, we became aware of Minecraft early on and experimented with various programming initiatives. Our immediate challenge was that there were never enough PCs for all the kids interested in participating. One day, I casually asked our teen services librarian, Erica Gauquier, if she might like the library to run a Minecraft server. “Yes!” she said. “They’ve actually been asking for one.””

“Down the rabbit hole we went. Three years later, we run a single server for all the libraries in our county: the Fairfield County Minecraft server . Each participating town has a dedicated world where its players can build and even “claim” land. There’s another world where players from all towns can cooperatively build. In-game games, known as “minigames,” are available: Parkour courses for the more nimble players and a collection of “Hunger Games” arenas for those who like a little action. A MOB (monster or beast) arena, tucked deep underground, lets players try their hand at mortal combat (and collect “experience points” that they can use to enchant objects).”

  • PechaKucha Volume 33 – Sandra Singh – Vimeo (Canada). “Since joining the library in late 2010, Sandra has been leading VPL as it re-imagines its services and enhances the community’s access to information and learning opportunities.” A look at the  ways Vancouver are ensuing their public libraries are centres of innovation.
  • Sex offender puts up lending library in his yard – KSN (USA). “After a Wichita mother reached out to KSN Tuesday with concerns a registered sex offender in her neighborhood put up a lending library in his front yard, that offender tells KSN News he is taking it down.”
  • In Whitehall, a library on the move leads to a comedy of errors – Columbus Dispatch (USA). “Actual movers will handle the bulk of the transfer, of course. Thousands of items will have to move about a block east on Broad Street to the new Whitehall branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, which opens a week from today. But Whitehall is pretty excited about its new library, which is more than twice the size of the old one — so why not make a big deal of moving the books?”
  • The Young Literati Toast the LA Public Library – Lalascoop (USA). Star stuffed funraiser. “The 143 million dollar budget allowed 14 million people to visit the library in 2014.  Honored to be at this inspirational gathering of LA influencers, the night made me proud to be an Angeleno, in a culturally diverse city where libraries are valued to provide free access to information to all.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Campaigners march through Barnet to protest over library cuts – Times series. “Under the proposals laid out, libraries could be closed, reduced in size or staffed by volunteers. Polly Napper, from East Finchley Library Users Group, said: “It was really jolly and we had a good turnout. We are hoping to build up to a really decent number. A lot of people said they supported us. “We are doing the marches to keep it on the agenda”
  • Birmingham – Library of Birmingham: 158 reasons people would volunteer to keep city landmark open longer – Birmingham Mail. “While many supported the idea others argued Birmingham City Council should properly fund the facility and that any volunteer plans, however well intentioned, would help paper over the cracks of budget cuts.”
  • Birmingham – Library of Birmingham cuts weekend opening to six hours – BBC. “The £189m Library of Birmingham, which has been open for less than two years, is to be shut on Sundays. It means the building, housing one million books, will be available for just six hours at weekends, from 11:00 to 17:00 on Saturdays.” … “a mixture of budget cuts and a £1.1bn equal pay claim from female workers has left the council with significant financial problems. Council leader Sir Albert Bore said the legal bill in particular had left the Labour-run council in a “horrendous position financially”.” … “The Library of Birmingham was recently named the only attraction outside London on a list of the UK’s 10 most-visited tourist sites last year.”

“The library, which opened to great fanfare in September 2013, will have £1.3 million cut from its budget. Presently, it is costing the council £22 million a year – more than £60,000 a day. It represents a fast and embarrassing fall from grace for the library which was opened by inspirational teenager Malala Yousafzai. The result has been an outbreak of finger-pointing, with Birmingham’s Labour group blaming predecessors for failing to secure private sector backing and opposition Tories saying they would keep the library open for longer hours.”

  • Birmingham – Shock at Library of Birmingham new opening times: Just six hours at weekends Birmingham Mail. “The £189 million building will no longer open on Sundays after April 19 when cost-cutting measures are brought in to reduce its hours from 73 a week to just 40. The landmark building will open from 11am until 5pm on Saturdays and its doors will be locked for a full 42 hours straight every week before people are let in again at 11am on Mondays. Steve McCabe, the Labour General Election candidate in Selly Oak, said it was a ridiculous situation which needed addressing.”
  • Bury – David gets ‘sound’ advice on jobs from Bury Library – This is Lancashire. “David Madeley is getting the latest help from Bury Library’s computer centre in his search for work. He has been using the library service’s Universal Skills database to receive advice on how to look for jobs and apply for them online, and on how to put together a CV and covering letter.” … “The Universal Skills database is accessible from all Bury Council’s libraries and from home for library members via http://www.bury.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10069. It covers guidance on Universal Jobmatch and Universal Credits as well as help with basic computer skills. “
  • Cambridgeshire – Proposed layout for 3rd floor of Cambridge Central Library – What Do They Know.  Schematic of the change to incorporate Kora business centre.
  • Cardiff – Cardiff Council slaps warning on payday loan web pages – Wales Online. “Anyone trying to access payday lender websites from council computers in Cardiff will be met with a warning screen. As part of a proposal approved by Cardiff council’s cabinet, users accessing payday websites will first be greeted with a warning page. The so-called “coaching page” will promote agencies who can help those struggling financially including the Money Advice Service, Cardiff and Vale Credit Union and offer advice about alternatives.”
  • Cornwall – More library changes as services in Cornwall could be privatised or merged with Devon – This is the West Country. “Two options have been put forward for the future of Cornwall’s libraries and one stop shops, including selling them off to a private company or a merger to create a regional service. The council is asking for views on how Cornwall’s library and one stop shop services are delivered in the future with a “consultation” on two models for their future. However the authority says that after discussion and comment the final design could be one or more of the models or something else entirely.” … “Transfer or ‘devolve’ the operation of individual libraries/one stop shops to other interested parties e.g. to a town or parish council or community organisation. This is already underway in Falmouth. “
  • Croydon – Letter to the Editor: Library’s wheels falling off – Guardian series. “Croydon introduced self-service terminals about 12 years ago but had to abandon them because of customer resistance – the new (private) regime has resolved this by saying we can no longer choose to be served by a human being. Even Tesco has recently reduced the number of self-service tills because customers do not like them.”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – A fair deal for Upper Norwood – SteveRead. “Labour’s Steve Reed has joined forces with Upper Norwood Library campaigners to call for fair funding for Upper Norwood Library despite Government funding cuts that have unfairly hit Croydon and Lambeth.  Both councils are currently consulting on future plans for their library services. – See more at: http://www.steve4croydon.co.uk/a-fair-deal-for-upper-norwood/#sthash.oXZPqy8K.dpuf”
  • Flintshire – Community libraries in Flintshire facing transformation – News North Wales. “Library services in Flintshire could be transformed under controversial local authority plans which could see villagers lose their local libraries. Flintshire Council said it is not closing libraries, but the plans could see several towns’ and villages’ repositories shut in favour of moves to centralised ‘library hubs’ elsewhere. Users say such moves will jeopardise their ability to get to the library and compromise their access to books. The proposals could see libraries in Hawarden, Mancot and Queensferry moved to a new hub at Deeside Leisure Centre at a cost of £130,000.”
  • Hull – ‘It must be profitable’: Hull Culture and Leisure company takes over services – Hull Daily Mail. “The chairman of a new, Hull City Council-owned leisure company says it has to be business-like from the start. Hull Culture and Leisure (HCAL) officially comes into operation tomorrow. It will run all the council’s leisure facilities, libraries, museums and parks as well as the City Hall and New Theatre, with the authority acting as the client. About 800 council staff are transferring to work for the new company, which will be governed by a seven-strong board of councillors.” … “For example, we have got four weddings coming up at the Central Library later this year, but I would like to see even more.”
  • Kirklees – Library friends group hands petition to councillor – Spenborough Guardian. “A campaign group fighting for the future of Heckmondwike Library has handed its petition over to the leader of Kirklees Council. Friends of Heckmondwike Library gathered more than 2,300 signatures through meetings and campaigning in the town centre, and passed the petition on to Coun David Sheard (Lab, Heckmondwike).
    Coun Viv Kendrick (Lab, Heckmondwike) said: “I am aware of the petition and I am pleased a lot of people thought it was important enough to take part, but I hope that all of the people involved also responded to the libraries consultation.”
  • Leicestershire – Residents unite with plans to run Hathern Library – Loughborough Echo. “Following the proposal, as part of a cost saving initiative in late 2014 by Leicestershire County Council to transfer the operation of the county’s libraries into community hands, Hathern Community Library Group has been formed out of a series of public meetings facilitated by Hathern Parish Council.”
  • Lincolnshire – Extended opening hours for Skegness Library – Skegness Standard. “Skegness Library is to open for an extra five hours each week. From June 1, the library will be open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm on Saturday.”
  • Lincolnshire – Judicial review of libraries decision requested – Lincllnshire Council. “Tony McGinty from Lincolnshire County Council, said: We are very disappointed to receive another challenge. “The council has yet to receive the details, but will be preparing the strongest possible defence once it has done so. “We’ve worked hard to address all the issues raised in the last year’s judicial review, and carried out additional consultation before making a fresh decision. “And importantly, the court ruled our proposed model would meet our legal duties, a finding recently endorsed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. “We can’t ignore the fact that by the end of this decade the council’s overall budget will have been almost halved.”
  • Lincolnshire – Libraries campaigners seek second judicial review of Lincolnshire cuts – Lincolnite. “A group of campaigners against cuts to Lincolnshire’s library services are seeking a second judicial review, after the county council resubmitted and agreed reduction plans.” … “Campaigner Simon Draper said: “We are currently accepting witness statements from people explaining how they county council’s decision will affect them. These will then be read by the county council’s and our solicitors. “This is literally stage one of about five stages in putting together a pre-action letter, and if the council wants to talk we will happily do that.”
  • Lincolnshire – Library opening times extended but residents say it’s ‘not enough’ – Horncastle News. “Lincolnshire County Council – under fire because of its controversial proposals for the future of library services – has unveiled a raft of new opening hours. They will come into effect at seven libraries from next month – with two receiving additional hours, including Horncastle.The town’s library will still be open five days a week, although several people have complained there will only be one late night on a Thursday until 6pm. Heidi Morgan, of Horncastle, said: “I’m a student and have to travel to Lincoln. By the time I get back to town, the library is often closed.”
  • Lincolnshire – #WritetoVaizey – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “This campaign is currently working on points that people can include in their representations to the minister, and will update this page when these are ready, but please do not let this stop you getting your views to the minister ASAP.”
  • Liverpool – Big Little Library officially opened by Lord Mayor Cllr Erica Kemp – Liverpool Echo. “The pop-up library was officially unveiled by Lord Mayor Cllr Erica Kemp at an event attended by local dignitaries, community members, schoolchildren and the public of Belle Vale … The idea for the scheme was partly inspired by the ‘Little Libraries’ that are springing up across the UK … Belle Vale Library, as well as many other libraries across Liverpool, faced the prospect of closure and so as part of this campaign, ‘Little Libraries’ will be donated throughout the city.”
  • Liverpool – Liverpool libraries will close by 2017 if Tories win election, says Joe Anderson – Liverpool Echo. “The Mayor of Liverpool has claimed that all of the city’s libraries will close by the 2017 if the Conservatives win the General Election. Mayor Joe Anderson told a meeting of the council’s Cabinet committee that if the funding levels for the city stayed the same all discretionary services would have to stop. He said: “If we have the sustained funding levels continued into 2017, and we have got serious problems in 2016, there will be no libraries in 2017, including possibly the Central Library.” He said the funding would mean that only mandatory services would continue”
  • Merthyr Tydfil – Merthyr Tydfil leisure services handed to trust – BBC. “Merthyr Tydfil council handed over the running of leisure and community centres, libraries and cultural sites to the trust on Wednesday. Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust, which is supported by a board of 11 trustees, took the reins after a year of public consultation. The trust said the move would “protect the future” of such services.”
  • Newcastle – Decision letter on local inquiry into library provision in Newcastle – Gov.uk. Ed Vaizey again decides not to intervene.
  • North Yorkshire – Petition to save library – Northern Echo. “Campaigner Susan Perkins said: “Friends feel that the library is a valuable community asset and resource, and that handing it over to volunteers to run will not only disrupt the continuity and professionalism of the service, but will save very little money when the costs of vetting and training volunteers are taken into consideration. “
  • Richmond – Richmond library changes could end book club’s story – Guardian series. “The Young Persons Book Group, which meets at 6.30pm on the second Wednesday of the month, was told on March 11 the library would now close at 7pm. The group asked if Richmond Council could instead close the library 30 minutes earlier on Mondays, to maintain a 30-minute later opening time on Wednesdays … But the council said Richmond library was the only one open past 7pm because a volunteer had agreed to stay for the extra half an hour unpaid, which is no longer feasible. ” … “Councillor Meena Bond, cabinet member for libraries, said Wednesday late night opening was changed from 8pm to 7pm three years ago and, as a temporary measure, Richmond was kept open for book groups until 7.30pm.”
  • Southampton – Labour against literacy? – Daily Echo / Letter. “Why else is the city council proposing to close half of the city’s libraries? “
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire library guru awarded OBE by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace – Staffordshire Newsletter. Janene Cox: “She also proudly holds the title of trustee for the Reading Agency charity, and has been heavily involved in a range of expert panels and government projects to improve and plan the future of the country’s libraries.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Penarth Library wins Welsh Marketing Excellence award – Penarth Times. “…. a prestigious national award at the Marketing Excellence Awards at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. The awards are funded by the Welsh Government, and recognise the fantastic work being done by staff in museums, archives and libraries across Wales often with very limited resources.” … “Great team efforts by library staff have organised a range of activities for teens such as Quiz and Game Nights over the last year, which have proved to be popular and well attended. The new provision of video games and facilities have undoubtedly helped. There have also been consultations with young people through Penarth Library Teen Advisory Group meetings to keep up to date with their wants and needs.”
  • West Sussex – Midhurst library celebrates successful first year – Midhurst and Petworth Observer. “Tuesday, March 31, marked the first anniversary of Midhurst Library’s reopening in the Grange Leisure Centre .. The library moved from Knockhundred Row to the Grange on March 31, 2014 and over the last twelve months there have been 85,365 visits and 61,947 books, story CDs and DVDs have been borrowed. This is 20,000 more items than at the old library over the same period of time. And some 868 new borrowers have now joined the library since the move to its new home.” … “The library is open seven days a week and is working closely with the Westgate Leisure staff which has been really productive. “

School libraries

  • Drexel University installs iPad rental vending machine for students, library card holders – Apple Insider (USA). “The iPad rental program, created in partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia, lets both students and neighboring residents check out Apple’s tablet for as long as four hours, reports Drexel University’s news blog. Drexel’s kiosk builds on a similar machine rental program that has been distributing MacBooks to students since 2013.”
  • Peru Gov’t to invest US$ 58.4 million for public school libraries – Peru this week (Peru). “Minedu is embarking on a grand scale investment in improving public school libraries by investing in new books and the installation of libraries in pre-schools and primary schools. “This is the first time after seven years that Minedu invests in the purchase of books to improve the learning process of high school students,” Director of Regular Basic Education Cecilia Ramirez told Andina news agency. “We have already set libraries up at some high schools. They are being equipped with encyclopedias, dictionaries, as well as literature and science books. This year we seek to reach all public high schools across the country, of which there are more than 7,000,” said the director.”