Ed Vaizey has announced another of his reviews of library cuts, this time in Harrow at the prompting of the local MP.  It’s easy to announce such a thing, and Mr Vaizey, has done so many times in the past.  It’s especially easy because everyone knows, include Ed (and probably the MP who asked for it as well) that no action is actually going to be taken.  When the review comes out, it will say that the council has taken adequate steps and that the decision is up to them – Mr Vaizey is moving non-interventionism into some sort of art form – but the headline looks good in the local newspaper.

The saga of the privately run “enterprise centre” that is to take over the third floor of Cambridge Central Library, which has already included heated discussions about lack of involvement and worries over tax avoidance, continues with news that the Kora businessman that led the negotiations is disqualified from being a company director until 2019.  This means that the council will again have to have a look at the proposals, which only squeaked through amidst much protest last week.  More widely, the case shows how desperate councils are to hive off parts of their buildings or services to others in a bid to cut costs, with such desperation sometimes leading – as it appears in this case – to corners being cut.  We’ll see how it pans out eventually but, in the meantime, this is a salutary lesson to councils to do their homework properly before they hand it in.


National news

  • Arts Council boss Darren Henley on his vision for the future – Chronicle. “I have enjoyed visiting and experiencing first hand some of the cultural organisations and events here in the North East, including a poetry reading by Simon Armitage at the Hexham Book Festival, a tour of Newcastle Library and of the National Glass Centre in Sunderland … I’ve revelled in the quality of artistic work in England; in the richness of our museums and collections and the imaginative use of our libraries. I’ve seen the transformation that the arts can bring to our schools; to our villages, towns and cities … The opening of the Business and IP Centre in the Newcastle City Library is contributing to business start-ups, growth and innovation in the region. At the Arts Council we want to see this work, and our support of it, repeated in more towns and cities across England.”
  • Cuts prompt new ways of working in local authorities – Arts Professional. “Staff reductions and funding cuts made to local authority culture and leisure services are falling more heavily on sports programmes and libraries than the arts, according to a new report by the Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association into cultural spending by councils.” … “Over the last three years 10% of local authorities report closing or decommissioning arts services, while 20% closed sports and leisure services. Arts and sport also experienced some of the heaviest cuts, with more than one in five local authorities reducing their funding to these services by more than 15%. Although roughly the same proportion shielded these sectors from cuts entirely, just 3% spared libraries. “
  • Darren Henley delivers speech on libraries as new investment announced – Arts Council England. “Today our Chief Executive Darren Henley spoke at the Society of Chief Librarians’ annual conference. Under the theme Digital Landscapes: The Future of Libraries, Darren talked about our recent investments in libraries, what the arts sector and libraries can learn from each other, and how libraries can help us deliver a good cultural education to all young people.”

“Chris Bryant Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and SportTo ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, how many libraries (a) closed and (b) switched to being run by volunteers between 2010 and 2015.

Ed Vaizey Minister of State (Culture Media and Sport) (Digital Industries) (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State (Business, Innovation and Skills) (Digital Industries) (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

With reference to the answer I gave on 10 February 2015 to Question 222966 our desktop research has identified some further static library closures that have taken place between 7 May 2010 and 8 May 2015. Our estimate is that up to 100 static libraries have closed during this period. The DCMS does not collect information on the number of volunteer-run libraries.” They Work For You | Written Answers : 4th June.

  • From building motorways to transforming lives – Society of Chief Librarians. Blog from Kathy Settle, new chief executive of the new English “Leadership for Libraries Taskforce”. “In my library tours (averaging one day a fortnight; coming to a town near you soon!) and from emails received , I have heard many inspirational stories of how libraries have transformed peoples’ lives. You don’t really need me to talk about these because you see it first hand every day …”
  • Keeping it old school: Pupils swap iPads and Xboxes for reading and board games – Independent. “He conducted a survey of pupils aged eight to 11 last month and found a strong correlation between high use of digital devices, poor reading progress and unhappiness. Students who spent more than two hours a day on digital devices and games consoles  spent two hours less time reading each week than classmates who were low users of technology.”

“So when things feel tough (and I know they often do),  please  remember the people in your community who rely on you. And don’t forget those people who are not yet library users – maybe because they have no idea of the wide range of agendas that libraries now cover. I think one of the most significant activities the Taskforce can perform is to raise the profile of the public library network and its 21st century offer – to users and non-users; to Local Authority Chief Executives and Portfolio Holders; to Government Ministers – so that your great work is universally recognised, appreciated, supported and built upon.” Kathy Settle

  • Remote e-lending hits bookshop and library footfall – BookSeller. “Pilots carried out into remote e-lending from libraries have found that e-books accounted for less than 5% of library loans, with footfall to libraries and bookshops likely to drop as digital borrowers are less likely to visit branches. A tiny proportion, less than 1% of people, used the “buy” buttons next to titles to purchase the e-book after borrowing. The research also showed that e-book borrowers tended to be more affluent and less likely to visit libraries.” … “Less than half of users said they were happy with the available titles, with 95% saying a greater range would encourage more borrowing, with 10% of titles  accounting for 36% of loans, suggesting bestsellers would attract more borrowing.” … “The study showed that the impact on e-book buying was inconclusive “

“39% of e-book borrowers said that they were much less likely to visit a bookshop;  37% said they were much less likely to purchase printed books;  and 31% said they were much less likely to purchase e-books”

  • SCL Publishes Annual Report and Announces New President Elect – Society of Chief Librarians. “On Thursday 4th June 2015 the Society of Chief Librarians held its AGM, approving the SCL Annual Report 2014-2015 and reviewing key achievements over the past year. The Annual Report provides an overview of the Society’s work and can be found on www.goscl.com. SCL also announced the election of President-Elect, Neil MacInnes, who will help and shadow current SCL President Ciara Eastell before becoming the next SCL President, a two- year term, in June 2016.”


  • Missing artworks were misfiled, library officials say – Boston Globe. “Two valuable prints that went missing from the Boston Public Library, triggering a criminal investigation and the resignation of the institution’s president, were discovered Thursday on a shelf — a mere 80 feet from where they should have been filed, according to authorities.” … missing items included “an Albrecht Dürer engraving valued at $600,000 and a Rembrandt etching worth up to $30,000 “
  • NSA surveillance: how librarians have been on the front line to protect privacy – Guardian (USA). “In the hours before US senators voted to take on the might of the National Security Agency this week, their inboxes were deluged with more than 2,200 supportive emails from a most unlikely group of revolutionaries: America’s librarians. Their contribution to the passage of the USA Freedom Act may not have been as dramatic as the revelations of Edward Snowden, but this mild-mannered wing of the privacy lobby has been stridently campaigning against government surveillance since long before the NSA whistleblower shot to fame.”

Local news by authority

  • Blaenau Gwent – Town Council minutes – Blaenau Town Council, 22nd April, ” … regarding the relocation of the Brynmawr Library Service to the Adult Learning Centre on the Market Square. The Aneurin Leisure Trust has indicated its wish to relocate the Brynmawr Library from its present premises to the Adult Learning Action Centre. This will assist in its wish to reduce its own financial pressures. At the same time the relocation will release the present Library space to enable the Market Hall Cinema Trust to establish a second screen Auditorium, thereby assuring the long term provision of film screening in the Cinema. The County Borough Council supports this proposition while itself suffering financial restraints. The cost of the Library relocation is £20,000 of which the County Borough Council is offering a 50% contribution. The Market Hall Cinema Trust will contribute £2,000. The Town Council is therefore asked for financial assistance in the sum of £4,000. The remaining balance will be the subject of further discussion/negotiation with BGCBC. Some members queried why should the Town Council contribute towards the cost of relocating the Library to The Adult Learning Centre when the Aneurin Leisure Trust owns the buildings. A member stated the Aneurin Leisure Trust is independent and the Trust is responsible for its own franchise and further more when the trust became independent from the BGCBC their budget support was reduced considerably from what they thought they were going to receive from the BGCBC to support their operation as a Trust. It was agreed that a vote take place … 10 voted for the proposal. 2 abstained. It was agreed that £4,000 be donated.” [The library was moved to current location from old Carnegie one in 1999 after a large CyMal grant and a refurbishment in 2008. The former library now houses a volunteer-run museum – Ed.]
  • Bristol – Protest held in Bristol against library closures – ITV. “Demonstrations against closing libraries stepped-up a gear today with a mass book-borrow and rally. The protest in Westbury-on-Trym is the latest march against plans by Bristol City Council to cut costs, but families say it’ll rip the heart out of their community.” see also Westbury-on-Trym library protesters borrow books in anti-closure rally – BBC. “Residents in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, queued up outside the building as part of a demonstration. They claim the library is the fourth busiest out of the city’s 28, with 4,000 regular users.” and Book lovers march in a campaign to save their library in Westbury-on-Trym – Bristol Pot.
  • Cambridgeshire – Enterprise centre at Cambridge Central Library shelved over Kora director disqualification Cambridge News. “Roger Perrin has led negotiations with the county council for months about the fiercely contested plans. But Cambridge-based entrepreneur and architect Mr Perrin is banned from being a company director in the UK until 2019, according to Companies House records”.   Council says “”In light of information that has come to our attention the council’s executive director for economy, transport and environment has following consultation with the committee chairman suspended further work on the project, pending consideration by the committee.”
  • Coventry – ‘How much does Coventry council does value libraries?’ – Coventry Telegraph / Lettter. “I am sure that I am not alone in appreciating the excellent service that the library serves in my local area and that many people will share my views about the importance of their own local libraries in the city.  I recently wrote to Councillor David Kershaw about my concerns about proposed library closures in Coventry as part of the council cuts. This was part of his reply: “I think you know I am a great believer and supporter of the Library Service.” Publicly Councillor Kershaw has promised that no library will close over the next 12 months and no library staff will be made compulsorily redundant. However, rumours and worries persist …”

“A few years, I ended up sitting next to a fellow artist, Abigail Reynolds, at an gallery-dinner in London, and it turned out she was not only from St.Just, but was also on the ‘save St.Just library’ committee (you’ll recall that my mini library was based, in its design, on the public library there). She has been determined to bring my library back to St.Just, and this summer as part of the famous lafrowda festival , it will be returning to its ‘hometown’ so to speak, where it will become part of the on-going campaign to save the library. It will be set up on the green as a single-hole golf game, and I’m adapting it to include a donations slot in the top. LaFrowda festival is 3-18th July, with the main day on 18th, when the library will make its return! http://www.lafrowda-festival.co.ukCornwall – St Just Library Jonathan Allen (via email).

  • Coventry – Public meeting as Stoke Aldermoor residents continue bid to save community library – Coventry Telegraph. “Stoke Aldermoor Residents Association has been asking for support for Aldermoor Community Library, in Acorn Street, and members are now calling on everyone concerned for the library’s future to join them on Monday. The meeting will take place at the library from 3.20pm. The residents association is also calling on local ward councillors to join them. The Telegraph reported in February how Coventry City Council planned to axe a number of libraries to save cash. But there was a stay of execution when it was later announced that every library in Coventry would remain open for at least another year.”


  • Flintshire – Library Closures? …a Gladstonian perspective – Youtube. “Hawarden is home to Mr Gladstone’s prestigious, commemorative, residential library. It is quite separate from the local authority facility currently under threat of closure -but I was curious about the Gladstone aspiration perspective. During May 2015, I sought the views of Gladstone’s Library Principal, Dr Peter Francis …”
  • Flintshire – Mancot campaigner won’t close book in fight for libraries – Leader. “John Peters, 76, secretary of the Save the Village Library Committee, says he hopes “democracy will prevail” and Flintshire Council’s decision to shut libraries in Hawarden, Mancot and Queensferry and move provisions to a hub in Deeside Leisure Centre will be overturned. It comes days after it was announced the decision has been called in by Cllr Clive Carver, with Flintshire councillors Adele Davies-Cooke, Alison Halford, Davie Mackie and Glenys Diskin adding their support.”
    Harrow – Culture Minister Ed Vaizey pledges to review library closures in Harrow – Harrow Times. “Harrow East MP Bob Blackman raised the issue of Harrow Council’s plan to close four libraries during a meeting at the House of Commons yesterday” … “Speaking to the House, he asked culture, media and sport secretary minister whether he would intervene to ensure the council fulfils its “statutory duties”.

31m31 minutes ago

When is it, please? @bobblackmanmp 

@ShirleyBurnham @VftL_UK @LibraryCampaign @HarrowCouncil   4pm on Tuesday

  • Leicestershire – Library redundancies and days axed – Loughborough Echo. “Leicestershire County Council says it wants to claw back £135,000 over the next four years from the libraries it still manages. This comes on the heels of last year’s decision to see all village libraries run by community groups or face closure. In Loughborough, two part-time staff have taken voluntary redundancy, one has left, while two have been transferred to other libraries. Two full-time members of staff have lost their permanent contracts, reduced from 37 hours a week to 34.”
  • Leicestershire – More community groups agree to run village libraries – Hinckley Times. “Community bids from Barwell and Markfield to run the local library services have been accepted by Leicestershire County Council. They are among a total of 21 groups which are set to reach formal agreement to take over county council libraries, with the first community-managed venue expected to launch in July.”
  • North Yorkshire – Consultation prompts North Yorkshire library staff rethink – BBC. “Libraries in North Yorkshire will not be run entirely by volunteers after a public consultation revealed people were against the move. Council plans were for 21 libraries to be community-run but the authority is now proposing that those libraries have some paid staff.”
  • North Yorkshire – Outome of library consultation not as good as claimed – Kirkbymoorside News. “Hardly a rethink, more like a sop – the change since the original proposal represents about 3% more cash. NYCC completely ignored the majority in the consultation, who said that economies should be made elsewhere, not in the library service. And the devil is in the detail. The extra 5-7 hours of staff time is not necessarily actual time in Kirkbymoorside Library. Additional support staff will be based at “core” libraries – in our case, Malton. They will support a number of libraries. They will not be professional librarians. The plans include provision for a review after a year or two, with a view to removing the paid staff, thus taking us back to the original proposal. (NYCC noted that the consultation elicited cynicism about whether matters were already decided – cynicism that seems fully justified).”
  • Powys – Le Carré backs fight to save Hay library – Times. “Residents will have to raise £7,000 a year to subsidise the running costs and keep the library open after the local council cut funding by 30 per cent. Campaigners in the Welsh border town, which has 30 secondhand and antiquarian shops, have been backed by the novelist John le Carré. “