Two councils which led the wave of cuts to libraries at the start of the coalition government have both announced or confirmed a second wave of big cuts at the start of the term of the new one. The Isle of Wight passed on five of its libraries to volunteers in 2011, more than halving paid staff over the course of one year.  This time it is quoting the example of these volunteer libraries in support of transferring a further three more, although this time with a paid member of staff, computers and stock, away from council funding.  Quoting austerity, the council says that otherwise it would simply close more libraries.  Meanwhile, North Yorkshire, which closed or pass to volunteers 7 libraries in 2012 and 10 mobile libraries in 2011, have confirmed deep cuts, again quoting the volunteer libraries from the previous round as evidence to pass more to volunteers this time.  It notes the large public response against such cuts during the consultation but, other than not cutting quite as deeply as initially suggested, has essentially gone on ahead as planned.

So, will we see a re-run of 2010-15 now in 2015-20? Watch out for announcements of closures from Brent, Gloucestershire or Somerset over the next few months to see how spooky (and depressing for those involved) this is going to be.




  • Chakrabarti: librarians and information professionals can help improve constitutional and human rights awareness – CILIP. “Human rights campaigner, author and Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti urged librarians and information professionals to support people’s understanding of their human rights as she addressed nearly 600 members of the national and international library and information community in a keynote speech at the CILIP Conference 2015.” … “Chakrabarti said: “We cannot let citizens’ rights to equality, dignity and fairness be given away by governments. Many people have not even seen the Human Rights Act so they don’t know what we’ve got to lose. Librarians and information professionals can play a special role in helping people to understand their human rights; and libraries offer a safe civic space for people to hear about and take part in much-needed political discourse.
  • E-lending won’t put a big dent in book sales – Guardian. “While I sympathise with the book industry’s desire to protect its interests, it is depressing when two parties that want the same thing – a healthy literary ecosystem where people read more – resemble rival football fans arguing over a penalty. Ebooks, we’ve realised, will not cannibalise print. Lending them to the 51% of the population with library cards will likely have a negligible effect on book sales, just as 165 years of public libraries haven’t put bookshops out of business.”

David McMenemy@D_McMenemy 8h Just had an email from my public library service stating that if I don’t opt to have my data passed to third parties, I’m no longer a member

  • Somerset librarian on a mission to bring back fresh ideas from US public libraries – CILIP. “This year’s winner, Frances Tout, is a Community Librarian at North Somerset Library Service. She is particularly keen on enabling communities to use library spaces in new ways; as places where people can share ideas, skills, talents and knowledge, helping to build community cohesion and engagement, encouraging participation and offering new opportunities, thus putting the library at the heart of the community.”

Congratulations to Frances on this fantastic opportunity. I recently visited public library services in Canada who ten years ago experienced similar challenges to ours here in the UK. Their librarians and information professionals took the decisions into their own hands and went ahead and started up new things. They welcomed makerspaces, allowed users to bring in their own food and drink and introduced money raising ventures such as weddings and special events like an annual booklovers ball. It has turned things around for these libraries which are now highly valued community spaces. I know Frances will bring back ideas from the US to help public libraries here in the UK to adapt and thrive in the same way.CILIP President Jan Parry


  • Heatwave forces Geneva to close public libraries – Local (Switzerland). “On Monday, the branches were closed to the public as usual, but some of them registered temperatures of between 32C and 35C inside. MeteoSwiss, the national weather office, forecast highs of 37C for Geneva on Tuesday. Given the intensity of the heat, library management decided to close the doors to the public.”.  Windows need keeping closed at night “for security reasons” and there’s no money for air conditioning.
  • Public library with indoor garden – Designing Libraries (Netherlands). “The original open courtyard was fitted with a glass roof early in the 20th century. In this atrium a spectacular interior garden is created with big trees and plants. The garden refers to the orangeries of the 19th century. In this reading garden visitors will find different library functions. There is a large reading table under a custom designed chandelier which is made up of gin glasses. This refers to the history of the building, that was built as a marketplace for cereals for the local gin industry.”


  • Cambridgeshire – New plans to help transform future of Cambridgeshire’s libraries – Cambridge News. “A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Social prescribing is about linking people to local activities to improve their health and wellbeing and is potentially a good fit for libraries as these are in the heart of our communities.” … “Cllr Scutt acknowledges that the present plans are vague, adding that officers were torn between turning to the private sector or reframing libraries as welfare centres in the wake of “savage funding cuts”.
  • Fife – Dunfermline youth MSP starts fight against library closures – Dunfermline Press. “Libraries threatened with the axe have been given a temporary reprieve while a public consultation is carried out but Dunfermline MYSP Lewis Akers is keen that people across Fife make their voices heard. “We’ve set up a campaign group to save the libraries and have planned action over the next couple of weeks,” he said. “One of my manifesto points as an MSYP was to fight against education cuts and this ties in with that. It was a group of community activists who set it up and now we have a Facebook page and organised meet-ups.” Keep Fife’s Libraries Open describes itself as a campaign group that says no to the “brutal execution” of the 16 libraries under threat. The grassroots community activists are campaigning to save the libraries that act as a lifeline to many across Fife.” … “So far, the group’s petition has gathered almost 3000 signatures and Lewis recently visited Dunfermline Gala to give away leaflets and make the issue known.”
  • Gloucestershire – Book-swap buses swing into action in Gloucester with new Stagecoach reading initiative – Gloucester Citizen. “Chosen buses in the city are to trial a scheme whereby passengers can leave books for each other to take home and read.” … “Cllr Andrew Gravells, cabinet member responsible for libraries in Gloucestershire, welcome any scheme which encouraged people to read. “New ideas like this which encourage more people to pick up a book is a really great thing. “Don’t forget that books are free at your local library too so if you get the buzz back from your bus journey then why not drop in to your library for more.”
  • Isle of Wight – Have your say on the future of Isle of Wight libraries – On the Wight. Multiple comments on £280k cut including “How does paying workers nothing (i.e. volunteers) sit with the vote to pay all council workers the living wage?”and “some volunteers [in Bembridge Library] seem more interested in having a cosy chat and playing at libraries than helping customers.” see also Community called on to support Isle of Wight libraries – Isle of Wight County Press..
  • Isle of Wight – Library Consultation – Isle of Wight Council. “Cowes, Freshwater and Ventnor libraries operate in premises which are shared by and funded by local partners.  This is a third kind of library, a Community Supported Library.  This will be a cross between a full community library, entirely managed and paid for by the community and a full branch library which is entirely funded by the council.”
  • Isle of Wight – Proposal for more cuts to Isle of Wight library service – BBC. “”Our position is strongly influenced by the national austerity agenda to make the most effective use of the limited resources available to us.” “
  • Lincolnshire – “handing libraries over to volunteers would be a disaster”- Save Lincolnshire Library. “Having responded to Ed Vaisey’s request for further comments on his reluctance to intervene in LCC’s plans for the library service and having not had any kind of acknowledgement or response, I am writing again. This time it is a second copy to Ed Vaisey with a covering letter and also a covering letter (and a copy of the original) to John Whittingdale, the new Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.”
  • Lincolnshire – University of Lincoln lecturers slam county council plans to axe Lincolnshire’s libraries – Lincolnshire Echo. “The academics say the cuts in the services will leave one library for every 66,667 people in the county and say this is not good enough.”

Access to free public libraries, even in the age of the internet, is a cornerstone of democratic civilisation. Many of our poorest people use library computers because they cannot afford one themselves, while possessing a large number of books is obviously impossible for all but the very richest. Access to these materials allows a vital means of self-education, and it is the poorest in our society — those not at University, those who lose their jobs, disabled and retired people — who need these services the most. Several of the proposed closures are in Lincolnshire’s most deprived areas. Limiting access to books and computers in these regions will increase inequality and reduce social mobility. It is ironic that in the year in which we celebrate Magna Carta the county council is preparing to make such undemocratic cuts.”

  • North Yorkshire – Library cuts go ahead with more support offered for volunteer run sites – Minster FM. “The authority has acknowledged that the level of savings required will mean a radical transformation in the way that the library service is currently delivered. Under the recommendations approved today, the service will become a networked “family” of libraries through a partnership with volunteers.” … “The consultation revealed overwhelmingly that the county’s library service is valued highly by North Yorkshire’s residents.  It also revealed that while a majority of people back the idea of volunteers being involved in running libraries, most felt that community-managed libraries would need some dedicated staff input to succeed.”.  Therefore “the larger, busier libraries in Filey, Knaresborough, Pickering, Ripon and Whitby – will retain a 40 per cent staffing level alongside volunteers, an increase on the 25 per cent staffing level originally proposed. ” see also Tomorrow is a vital day for North Yorkshire libraries – Press.
  • Plymouth – Eyecatching designs for Plymouth’s colourful new-look library revealed – Plymouth Herald. ” a series of bold, colourful designs created using artists’ impressions have been put on display showing what the proposed library will look like in its new surroundings.”
  • Staffordshire – Community urged to step forward and save Barton library – Burton Mail. “Barton Parish Council has raised concerns that the reality of it closing its doors for good, due to council cuts, has not been fully realised by residents. Barton Library in Dunstall Road, is one of 23 across the county which will no longer be staffed by the Staffordshire County Council and instead will need to rely on volunteer help. But as of yet, no one has stepped forward to take on the role, something which is beginning to worry those on the parish council.”
  • Stockton on Tees – Billingham Library gets building excellence award – Designing Libraries. “Designed by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and built by Stockton-based company Interserve Construction, the state-of-the-art facility sits on the site of the town’s former Art Gallery and council offices. It acts as a ‘one-stop shop’ with new and improved library facilities including the latest in self-service technology, improved ICT and reference facilities combined with customer services for Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council and Thirteen housing group. It also houses a cash office and Billingham Town Council’s headquarters under one roof.”