National news

  • Ali Smith on public libraries: The author recalls new worlds opened by borrowing books – Independent. “a couple of months ago I happened to be at a books event where an important man made a speech about how, now that so many public libraries were closing, maybe coffee shops were the replacements for libraries, since people often tended to read in coffee shops. A low growl went through the room under the high champagne fizz: it was the growl of protection, the growl of writers and readers.” Worries over closed libraries and recalls the importance of public libraries.

“I call it an arsenal, for books are weapons, whether for war or for self-defence,” Edward Bulwer-Lytton said in 1852 at the opening of Manchester’s Free Public Library”

  • Halving opening times at Birmingham’s brilliant new library is madness – Telegraph. “The council has said that the £1.3 million cuts to the Library are necessary, as the city faces a dire financial situation following budget cuts and a £1.1 billion bill after it lost an equal pay claim brought by female workers, along with reforming a much-criticised child protection department. But as protestors outside are the library this week are arguing, this decision is madness. This is not just about an inconvenience to users, and it should be remembered that while the hours have been halved, so have the number of jobs in the library. It’s a piece of madness because the library was one of the great – and rare – success stories from Birmingham of late. It is not just the biggest public library in the UK and the largest public cultural space in Europe, it is also a massive tourist attraction, enticing 2.4 million visitors last year, more than the British Library. It was the 10th most popular free attraction in the UK last year, and the only one of the 10 outside London.”

“The relegation of an increasing number of libraries to volunteer-run status means that their performance will only continue to be monitored by CIPFA if the libraries thus relegated continue to be part of an LA’s statutory provision.  It is likely that in most cases any statutory status they might have on transfer will be temporary.  At any time, their release from the jurisdiction of the LA which currently has a duty to monitor their performance will mean – no CIPFA data.  This will impact on potentially hundreds of thousands of library users.  Not only will CIPFA data become irrelevant to them, but they will be without the means to solicit data (by FoI or other means) from their LA, so will have no reliable information to support any legitimate concerns or complaints about the only library they are able to access.  Residents will only be able to access CIPFA and other data on the performance of libraries located further afield , data which – for those who find access to those distant libraries impossible – will be irrelevant.” Shirley Burnham (via email)

  • Libraries matter: Election Questions – Library Campaign. “A page from the latest issue of The Library Campaigner, a magazine produced for members of the charity but reproduced here for all to use in the run up to the elections …”
  • Sharing the Personal Side of World Book Night – Society of Chief Librarians. “On World Book Night, four heads of library services in England share what being a WBN “giver” means to them, in their communities. In 2014 10,000 volunteers distributed 250,000 books.
  • Thinking of buying a new RFID system? Read this first. – Changing Libraries. “One of the many things I’ve learned along the way is that the procurement guide that Mark Hughes and I wrote for the National Acquisitions Group and Book Industry Communication  back in 2011 is still being widely used by librarians seeking to buy or extend their RFID solutions. Flattering though this is it is also somewhat alarming! There have been many changes since 2011 …”
  • World Book Night 2015 – Reading Agency. “World Book Night 2015 is focusing on reaching out to as many readers as possible from all parts of the country and thousands of public participation events through partnerships with libraries, bookshops, communities and charities, will be taking place in venues and open public spaces in celebration … events at public libraries will take place nationwide, including appearances from previous World Book Night author Alexander McCall Smith in conversation with The Scotsman at Edinburgh Central Library and crime writer Stella Duffy, who will be appearing at Woolwich Library in Greenwich.” … “A record number of institutions and organisations (2,700) are taking part this year including homeless hostels, hospitals, learning support centres, social housing projects, prisons and young offender institutions, schools and charities – all eager to change someone’s life by the gift of a book in this mass celebration of reading.”


  • China to close cultural development gap between rich, poor areas – ECNS (China). “Inadequate cultural services are partially caused by local government’s “overemphasis on economic development and deliberate ignorance to cultural development,” the report said. About 601,000 rural libraries have been built in China’s villages, said the report, adding 16,000 digital libraries have been built in the country’s poor, remote areas.”
  • Libraries concerned over copyright changes – Mail (Australia). “We do not believe these provide adequate protection to the principle of freedom of information and access to knowledge,” their submission said. There was no explicit protection of freedom of expression which had negative impacts upon human rights. The libraries committee proposed extra amendments including creating an easily-accessible online list of blocked sites, judgments and orders, as well as an explicit direction for any court to consider the impact of freedom of expression.”
  • New York Public Libraries Warn of a ‘Staggering’ Crisis With Infrastructure – New York Times. “The Hunts Point Library, which is part of the New York Public Library system, is a lifeline in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. It is where homeless people check out apartment listings, the unemployed fine-tune their résumés, and children get free tutoring while their parents master new skills. But increasingly, the library and others in the city have been unable to meet the growing needs of their patrons, or even to offer as many programs and services as other branches, because they are constrained by aging buildings in need of renovation.”


  • CILIP Conference 2015 – 2-3 July 2015, Liverpool. Early Bird rate ends Friday 24 April. “Our impressive list of high profile speakers includes R. David Lankes, making his only UK appearance at the Conference. Lankes is a passionate advocate for libraries and their essential role in today’s society. He also seeks to understand how information approaches and technologies can be used to transform industries. He is joined by, amongst others, Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, Cory Doctorow, Science Fiction author, and Erwin James, author and columnist for the Guardian.
  • The Future of Local Libraries and Cultural Services – Public Policy Exchange. “This special 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.”
  • MmIT Conference 2015 – Sheffield, 14/15th September. Call for papers on theme “With Power Comes Great Responsibility – How librarians can Harness the Power of Social Media for the Benefit of its Users”

Local news by authority

  • Brent – Preston Road has a library back … 3 years after closing – Preston Library Campaign. Temporary licence granted from mid April until end of July.
  • Bristol – Save Wick Road Library – Facebook group. Over 700 likes. See article on the campaign and the need for the library at Saving Wick Road Library – Bristol Post and Save Wick Road Library: Long walks and big hills – Lamplighter. “If Wick Road Library is closed some parts of the Greater Brislington residential area would be 2.5 miles away from the nearest library at Knowle; clearly not within the recommended minimum distance outlined … Our ward really struggles for infrastructure and council support. We have lost these and others, such as the Wicklea Community Centre. Wick Road library remains as the last free, welcoming safe-spaces left for the whole community.”
  • Cornwall – 150 staff left Cornwall Council in March as part of restructuring – West Briton. “It is currently undertaking consultation on how to run its libraries and one stop shop service in future and is considering handing responsibility to parish and town councils or voluntary groups or to a commercial operator.”
  • Coventry – General Election 2015: Greens’ Laura Vesty quizzed – Coventry Telegraph. “I would like to see proper investment in the public services that we need. Libraries, community centres, youth services, police stations and crossing patrols are all services that should never be cut.”
  • Devon – Strong response to new library friends’ group – Exmouth Journal. “The new Friends of Budleigh Salterton Library group was officially launched at a public meeting, and more than 50 people have already signed up. The idea for a friends’ group came out of Devon County Council’s plans to reorganise the county’s library service. Budleigh library supervisor Margaret Hallett told the meeting that a friends’ group could help with organising extra events, could find ways of extending the library’s opening hours, and could raise funds for the library, which in the short term could pay for improvements, such as a drinks or snacks machine and more comfortable chairs”

“This is not about privatising the library service at all. It’s about being more in charge ourselves. It will still be a free library service for the communities in Devon. That’s what our responsibility is, and we have to do that.” She added that the new mutual would have an initial contract to run libraries for five years, with agreement in place for another five. The council would retain the freehold of the Budleigh library building”

  • Northumberland – Town Hall extension plans may be revived – Morpeth Herald. “As previously reported, Northumberland County Council is planning a major re-organisation of town centres that could see services such as schools, leisure facilities and libraries relocated and existing buildings sold off or re-modelled.” … “The library, Willows and Beechfield House in Gas House Lane could be used for a riverside development, with library and council information services moving into The Chantry.”
  • Peterborough – Vivacity confirms no compulsory redundancies for Peterborough library staff – Peterborough Today. “Vivacity, which runs the service, says 15 members of staff have accepted voluntary redundancies. The news comes after Peterborough City Council cabinet member Councillor Lucia Serluca, whose portfolio includes libraries, had assured councillors at a scrutiny meeting that any staff taking redundancy would do so voluntarily.”
  • Sheffield – Objection to plans to knock down Sheffield library and rebuild it in new community hub – Sheffield Telegraph. “Plans to knock down a Sheffield library and rebuild it as part of a medical centre have been submitted. The proposals would mean Woodseats Library, on Chesterfield Road, would become part of a medical centre and a pharmacy. Sheffield Council – which is backing the scheme – says it will become a ‘community hub’.The current library is in a poor condition and it is said repairs would be too expensive.” … “The plans have been developed by Woodseats Medical Practice, with the council providing land in return for space for the library in the building. The council says the new library would have the same amount of space as the existing one and retain the same opening hours.”