One for the things I notice scanning the library press is how different the situation is in different countries.  Reports today show libraries are booming in the US and Australia yet here they are not doing so well.  There is more than one answer to why that is the case there but not so much here. Libraries have more independence in those countries to campaign and do long-term planning for a start.  In the US, also, the divide in society is such that so many more people don’t have access to the internet or indeed space that the library is vital, especially in a country that does not appear to have Job Centres or the other paraphernalia of a caring state that we are (still) familiar with.  In Australia, adult literacy is seen as a big thing for libraries and they get funding for that.  In some places in the US like Columbus it’s educating children outside of school that is key. In the UK, none of these, not even internet access, are such big deals and thus the libraries have less leverage for the final big over-arching factor. That other big difference is, of course, money.  The other countries have cuts to be sure but nothing, apparently, in the same league as the UK.  To keep the sporting allusion going, therefore, we need that strategy quickly if we are not to get demoted yet another division.



  • Anti-austerity demonstration: Voices from the crowd – BBC. “Laura Swaffield, who was there as part of the Library Campaign, said: “Austerity hurts everything that matters. Local authority cuts are affecting libraries and it’s a really important service for a lot of people. Somebody has to show libraries are part of society as well. They matter as a basic service as much as more obvious ones.”
  • Boom time for children’s books as sales soar, but where are readers? – Telegraph. “Sales of children’s books are at an all-time high, yet it is harder for publishers to reach young readers, says the owner of a literary agency that represents more than 200 children’s illustrators and writers. icki Willden-Lebrecht, founder of London-based The Bright Group, said funding cuts at schools and libraries has meant there are fewer books than ever on display, making it harder to reach families that do not normally buy books.”


  • Libraries as Strategic Learning Institutions – State Library of New South Wales / Jan Holquist. “One of the things I will be inspired by in the near future is this very interesting Library Learning Strategy from the City of Canterbury. This is a very good example of a learning strategy that has a focus on the community and communicates the importance of the library as an active, strategic learning institution to both citizens and the political level. Another document that was referred to at the workshop is this interesting article by Wendy Butcher and Patsy-Ann Street from New Zealand about adult learning (Thank you for sharing Michele).” Includes slides from presentation.
  • Library visits at an all-time high – Gunra Argus (Australia). “The number of people visiting public libraries in NSW is at an all-time high with internet and online usage going through the roof, according to the latest statistics released by the State Library of NSW.” … “Physical visits to over 360 public libraries across NSW have increased by 30% since 2000, with 35 million visits recorded for 2013/14. Loans are up 5% with 45 million loans recorded last year. “Public libraries are to be congratulated on introducing more adventurous and quirky programming to their diverse offering of existing library services”
  • Public libraries finding vital purpose in information era – Leaf Chronicle (USA). “We still want to read, study and communicate in a non-distracting environment. And we still need what urbanologists call “third places” – that is, public spaces other than work and home. Public libraries are third places, along with cafes and old-fashioned bookstores. It was predicted that the move to online communication would enable us to make a living on an isolated farm or private mountaintop. Many can, but the human need to mix with others of the species remains strong.” … “Older public libraries in sad urban cores are seeing tables once dominated by those with no other place to go being occupied by 20- and 30-year-olds who’ve just moved downtown.”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Library to shut for eight months for major £640,000 refurbishment – Telegraph and Argus. “A library is to shut for around eight months while a major refurbishment takes place. Shipley Library will close on Friday, August 28, to undergo the £640,000 overhaul. The revamp will include new heating and lighting, improved meeting rooms, updated toilets and an exhibition area. New self-service kiosks will be installed so customers can access their accounts and issue and return books without queueing. Most of the existing stock will be kept, with some new books being bought.”
  • Dudley – New chapter in store as plans unveiled for new Cradley library – Halesowen News. “plans to redevelop “eyesore” derelict shops in Colley Gate could include a new library, it was revealed today. The proposal – which would see the demolition of the old Colley Lane library – has been drawn up by Hortons’ Estate and Antringham Developers Ltd who have agreed to take the shops’ site. The release of the names of the Birmingham-based developers today follows months of negotiations with Dudley Council, the owner of the Nisa store and the two owners of the parade of shops, most of which are derelict.” … “We believe this could increase library usage which is currently one of the lowest in the borough and it would make access to the library easier, particularly for anyone with restricted mobility or using a pushchair. “
  • Fife – Closing libraries could destroy ‘lifeline’ for local communities, trust warns – Courier. “The case for closing libraries across Fife has to be closely scrutinised, according to a leading figure in the Carnegie UK Trust.” … “Douglas White, the head of advocacy at the Dunfermline-based trust which safeguards the legacy of famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, has stressed the need to look into the impact of a closure programme. “Libraries provide more than books, they offer lifelines to jobs, education opportunities, literacy and public services,” he said. “It is essential that these proposals from Fife Cultural Trust are examined thoroughly and their impact considered so that we can ensure that all citizens in Fife have access to a high quality library service.””
  • Fife – Methods questioned on proposed closure of 16 Fife libraries – Courier. “Conservative member Andy Heer said: “I’m disappointed that Fife Cultural Trust didn’t see fit to consult or inform local communities first.” Among those libraries earmarked for closure in his ward are Freuchie and Falkland. But Mr Heer said the first he knew of the proposals was when he read Wednesday’s Courier. He said: “I’ll be interested to see how they expect to transform the service by closing nearly a third of all of Fife’s libraries, but they give no details of how this will be done apart from talking about a ‘hub and spoke’ model.”
  • Fife – SNP campaigns to save north east Fife libraries – Fife Today. “Roderick Campbell MSP, Stephen Gethins MP, and SNP councillors John Docherty and David MacDiarmid have joined forces in a bid to save the libraries. Fife Cultural Trust has proposed closing 16 libraries across Fife as part of a move to modernise the library network and make savings.”
  • Harrow – Harrow East MP fights library closures – Get West London. “Mr Blackman staged a last-ditch attempt to argue against the need for closures by holding a debate in Parliament and asking the Secretary of State to intercede. Mr Blackman said: “There has been an excellent campaign by local residents in Edgware, in my constituency, who have been fighting to save Bob Lawrence Library in particular. “The Bob Lawrence Library Campaign team gathered a petition with more than 5,000 signatures from outraged local people and put together a sound business case for keeping the facility open too, but it was all to no avail.””
  • Lincolnshire – Hearing into potential judicial review of Lincolnshire libraries’ decision set for July – Lincolnite. “… the county council and library campaigners will travel to London on July 21 and 22 to outline their reasons for why a judicial review should or should not be granted. A judge will then rule on whether the case for a judicial review is legitimate. Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, said: “We’ve been notified that the decision on whether or not to grant permission for a judicial review will be taken in court at an oral hearing before a judge. “If permission is not granted, the claim will fail. If permission is granted, the court will proceed immediately at the same hearing to decide whether the challenge has any merit.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire library staff thrown farewell event after site closure – Lincolnshire Echo. “The Friends of Deeping Library group presented workers with a special cake and farewell cards to the four librarians who have made been redundant or been forced to relocate elsewhere in the county. Deeping Library will shut down until work to improve the building is completed in September – however it is unclear if it will reopen or if the site will be used for other services.” … “Talks to save Deeping Library are on-going but users remain in the dark over its future.”
  • North Yorkshire – Save North Yorkshire Libraries – Website. “This site exists to campaign for all local libraries in North Yorkshire to be kept open. Maybe some changes will have to be accepted, but we urge North Yorkshire County Council to find ways to deliver library services throughout the county. We reject the easy option of closures.”
  • Scottish Borders – Councillors set to continue talks on plan to outsource cultural services – Southern Reporter. “Councillors will next week be given an update on progress – or the lack of it – towards transferring museums, libraries, public halls, and arts and community centres to the organisation which runs sports facilities in the region. The report was ordered in February when, despite publicly-voiced misgivings, Scottish Borders Council agreed to open negotiations with the Borders Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT) about taking over the non-statutory cultural services run by the local authority.” … “Last year a report warned that, if the transfer did not go ahead, then one large hall, one main library, one museum and one community centre could be forced to close.”
  • Shropshire – Church Stretton Library Support Group set to launch legal action over library relocation – Shropshire Live. “Church Stretton Library Support Group is giving Shropshire Council one more opportunity to abandon its library relocation plan before launching legal action. The Church Stretton Library Support Group has now completed its detailed case against Shropshire Council and its decision to relocate the library to the edge of town and is ready to join with library users to go to court to challenge the relocation decision.” … ““We have contacted the Chief Executive of Shropshire Council to request that the plan to relocate the library to the school be abandoned and that council officers sit down with the community they serve to put together a community run alternative. There is still time for common sense to prevail.””

“Thank you very much for supporting the campaign to challenge the council’s pathetic and defeatist policy on libraries and replace it with a scheme which will be designed to ensure the survival of, and guarantee a sustainable and flourishing future for, all 22 libraries in the county. The campaign has yet to be officially and publicly launched. As you are aware, my initial aim has been to enlist writers and those involved in the literary sphere, teachers, academics and artists. I have currently got about fifty supporters from these ranks but would, if possible, like to push this to a hundred. I am therefore asking you again to urge all your relevant contacts to add their names. A connection with Shropshire helps but is certainly not a necessity. Nationally-recognised names – of which we already have some – obviously lend weight. Please do this ASAP and ask people to send me their name and very brief description of their credentials (“Novelist/Publisher”, “Journalist”, “Teacher/Author”, “Poet” etc.). Post code is also useful. Thank you. I hope to publish the open letter at the end of June (so I need those extra supporters soon!) and I expect to circulate a draft to you all for comments/approval within a couple of days. My other pressing need is to gather an organising committee around me. Currently there is only me! So, if you are interested and able to help, please get in touch. Also note this new email address for the campaign. Thanks again for your support. Best wishes, Michael.” Shropshire Libraries Campaign, (email from shroplibyes@gmail.com)

  • Shropshire – Top lawyer drafted in to help Church Stretton library fight – Shropshire Star. “Church Stretton residents have come together and appointed a top legal team to take on their case, as they prepare to launch action against Shropshire Council over what they say were “undemocratic” decisions on the future of the library in the town centre.” … “The 140 members of the Church Stretton Library Support Group voted to take legal action at the end of April. The vote followed the failure of a formal request from Shropshire councillors Heather Kidd, Roger Evans and Charlotte Barnes to “call in” the Councillor Charmley’s decision, which was made behind closed doors, for scrutiny. Mrs Thomas added: “This very much is our last resort. “We do not want to pursue Shropshire Council in the courts but we have exhausted every other opportunity for taking part in a meaningful democratic process that takes local residents and library users seriously and recognises that they are equal partners in decision making. “The whole process to date has been a top-down imposition of a deeply flawed idea – and the rejection of an offer by our group to work with the council, keep the library where it is and deliver a community library run by the community.””
  • Staffordshire – Plans on changes to mobile libraries in Staffordshire – Burton Mail.
  • Surrey – Power to the people – as Lingfield Library is to be passed to trustees – East Grinstead Courier. “From July, The Guest House on Vicarage Road, which contains Lingfield Library, will be run by Lingfield Guest House Trustee Limited, a trust made up of local people. The decision was made by the current trustee Surrey County Council on Tuesday last week to make the transfer to the Guest House Trust. The change has been in the works since 2012.” … “The new trust will lease the ground floor of the building to the county council, who will continue to run the library service there. Before the trust was set up there was talk that the library would lose its paid members of staff in a county-wide shake-up of how libraries are run. However, the new set up means that the library’s paid staff will remain for a year – until July 2016 – giving the trust time to negotiate with the county council about the library’s future set-up.”