Kirklees has given more thought to what it is doing with its libraries: two-thirds of them will close or pass to volunteers and all six mobiles will end. This is actually slightly better than the proposals last year but few library users, or the 100+ staff whose jobs may be lost, will be celebrating that. In other news, Staffordshire has started describing which groups will be taking over libraries it is withdrawing from. The NHS are taking over three  and it’ll be interesting to see how that works – there’s actually much to be said for closer health/library co-operation, although I’m not sure if that is what will happen.  Even more interesting, and something to think over the implications of, is a Baptist church is taking over the running of another one.  We’ll see who takes over the others soon.  Elsewhere,  Sutton is considering cuts of around a quarter and Thurrock is reducing opening hours.

Those who follow lis-pub-libs will see that a draft of a Bibliocommons / SCL report on public libraries “digital offer” was released before it had finally been agreed.  I of course had a look but, because it is a draft, won’t comment much here, other observing that there’s an inherent issue with having a library computer company recommending solutions that they may then bid for themselves.  More when the report comes out for real.


National news

  • Government figures are a nonsense, anyway – Question Everything. “Wales and Northern Ireland are doing significantly better on issues than England and Scotland. I don’t think our friends in those countries have different reading levels and habits than us in England and Scotland. There really is a lot of fail to go round. I can’t blame it all on Vaizey this time. Even more interestingly some of the library authorities have completely bucked the trend on the issues/loans. Below are the ten worst and ten best on percentage change on loans from 03/04 to 13/14:”

“What I don’t understand is, councils up and down the land have gone to great trouble to submit this data and what have the DCMS being doing with it? Nothing it looks like. I presume they know how to used spreadsheets in that department. I know the department of transport has trouble making calculations for rail franchises, perhaps the DCMS are scared in case they get a formula wrong or something?”

  • Jeremy Corbyn announces new Shadow Cabinet appointments – Labour. “Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport  Michael Dugher MP”. See “Mr Dugher said he understood the difficulties facing Barnsley Council in terms of cuts, but described branch libraries as “an invaluable resource”. “ in 2010 newspaper report.  Mr Dugher has MP surgeries in two libraries according to his website.
  • Library Management in Disruptive Times: Skills and knowledge for an uncertain future – Facet Publishing. “With contributions from expert professional library leaders and educators , this edited collection offers thought-provoking perspectives on the challenge of the current operating environment across a range of library sectors, library professional associations and geographic regions. As leading influencers of the professional thinking and management behaviours of the profession, the contributors apply their own unique perspectives to the challenges of disruptive change in libraries globally.”
  • LocalGovCamp considers councils’ shared platform and data challenges – Government Computing. “Putting in place management models for devolved services, the role of data to inform a Government as a Platform (GaaP) approach for councils and the potential of a single digital space for libraries were among discussion topics during the weekend’s LocalGovCamp ‘unconference’.” … “In a session looking at the possibilities of creating a single ‘digital space’ for libraries, participants noted the potential challenge of existing sites being operated as independent entities with independent budgets. Responses included backing the creation of parts of a platform or specific interfaces that can be defined and promoted to oversee core library functions to a level that all councils would choose to implement them. The session also called on councils who are able to make changes to library systems to share their work with other authorities to co-design and create new technology, while moving away from buying closed systems. Going forward, ethnographic research was proposed on defining actual service needs of library users in entire areas, rather than just planning within traditional council boundaries.”
  • Speak up for Libraries Conference – “On 14 November Speak Up for Libraries will be holding this year’s national conference on public libraries.  It will bring together local campaigners, union members, library users and library workers.”

International news

  • USA – Libraries and Services for Learning, Key Groups and Economic Opportunities – Pew Research Centre. “Many see libraries as places of learning and pursuing knowledge. Pew Research Center’s April 2015 survey explored those themes and took an expansive view by asking people how they see libraries as vehicles for economic opportunity and inclusion of various groups that have drawn particular attention from librarians. This scope of inquiry provides insight into how the public sees the library not just as an institution that has a history in their community, but also whether they see libraries as places that might serve groups particularly affected by technological or other cultural changes.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Library supporters march in protest at cuts – Times series. “Authors and poets also roused the crowds on the children’s march for libraries, which saw campaigners demonstrate through Finchley on Saturday, September 12. ” … “Rebecca Front kicked off to rapturous applause when she told the crowd libraries are “essential for civilisation.” Ralph Vincent, a pupil at All Saints CE Primary School in Whetstone, said: “Politicians are always saying how we should help ourselves. Now they want to close down the main tool we use to do just that.”” … “The council carried out a consultation into the library proposals from November 2014 to February 2015, which saw more than 3,800 people submit their opinions. Results, released in July, revealed that 97 per cent said they opposed closing six libraries in the borough, and 92 per cent opposed closing even two of them.”
  • Barnet – No, it’s never just a book: a march for Barnet Libraries – Broken Barnet. “The savings which our Tory councillors insist must come from our public services – whilst unable to demonstrate any that have resulted as a result of the Capita contracts – and specifically here from the library budget, are devastating in terms of impact, yet minimal in scale in the context of council expenditure: £2.85 million – a sum which pales into total insignificance when measured against, say, the salary costs of the many senior officer posts created to enforce the annexation of our public services by Capita ….”
  • Brent – Rugby World Cup Trophy in Brent – Brent Council. “Brent residents got the chance to see the Rugby World Cup trophy in all its glory when it came to the borough on Saturday 12 September as part of the official 2015 Rugby World Cup Trophy tour.The Webb Ellis Cup, as it is officially known, was at the official opening event for the new Library at Willesden Green” … “Boasting 40,000 books, over 120 study spaces, 66 PCs and 14 iPads for public use, the £10 million Library at Willesden Green has been built to play a role as a 21st century community hub. To highlight how the new Library at Willesden Green will be used by the community in the years to come, Brent Council put on a packed six-hour programme of activities and entertainment for the event. Cheerleading, steel bands, children’s theatre, face painting and carnival costume and sari trying were just some of the highlights of the day, along with a mobile local history cinema, dance sessions, performance arts and a ceilidh session.” … “<“;”>In times of cuts to council budgets, Brent worked with developers Linden Homes on the rebuild of the library which, in also providing much-needed homes on adjacent land, means that the new Library at Willesden Green has been delivered at no expense to the taxpayer”
  • Camden – Councillor who quit Labour group says public were ‘manipulated’ over library closure threat – Camden New Journal. “West  Hampstead councillor Angela Pober has given her account of why she has quit Camden’s Labour group. As the New Journal revealed yesterday, she has resigned over concerns about the Save The West Hampstead Library campaign. Now she has released a public statement to clarify her position. It claims that the campaign continued even though it was understood the library would not close, ‘manipulating’ members of the public in a bid to get Labour to ‘look good’ by saving it. The accusation is rejected by the Labour group.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Save Bedfordshire’s library van and door to door service – Happy Salmon. “Central Bedfordshire Coucnil is currently reviewing it’s library van and book delivery service. (The book bundle delivery is currently for those unable to get to a library.) The plans are to stop the library van and to change the book delivery service to one with eligibility criteria to be run by volunteers. I only just found out about the consultation on this and the closing date is this Friday 18th September.”

  • Herefordshire – They Are Our Libraries & Museums – The Renewed Threat To Our Libraries 2015 – “After a 2 year gap in which, after stopping the total closure of libraries where instead they have suffered death by a thousand cuts, we returned after the May elections to the same propostion by our out of touch council cabinet. “
  • Kirklees – Jobs gone, opening hours slashed and closures: Full shocking extent of Kirklees Council library cuts revealed  – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “88 full time roles – possibly over 100 employees – are at threat of losing their jobs, two libraries will definitely close while only eight from 26 libraries will get council funding” … “The six-vehicle strong mobile library service will also be scrapped.” … “The plan, published late this afternoon, also reveals vast cuts to the opening hours of libraries for Kirklees’ 67,000 library card holders. They will be slashed by 40% with Huddersfield and Dewsbury open the longest, 50 hours per week each. The other six will operate more restricted opening hours of between 30 and 40 hours per week.” … “Officials say Kirkheaton library could open for just five hours per week. The other so called Community Supported Libraries would open between 15 and 30 hours per week. Volunteers from ‘Friends Of’ groups will be allowed to open their libraries when the paid staff are not available.”
  • Kirklees – Mixed reaction to Kirklees Council cost-cutting plans for libraries – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “The council will vote next week on plans to keep running eight libraries and to try and retain 16 more with help from volunteers. If there are no volunteers, it is likely they will close.”. 8 safe libraries are Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Batley, Cleckheaton, Mirfield, Batley, Birstall, Heckmondwike and Holmfirth. 16 libraries will turn to volunteer or close, mobile library will close.
  • Poole – Borough of Poole mobile library service to be closed – BBC. “The decision to axe a mobile library in the Borough of Poole will have a “devastating” effect on local people, it has been claimed. The council has voted to cut the service to save £49,000 and replace it with community-led facilities. It is part of a bid to save £100,000 on public libraries in the next year. But Lib Dem councillor David Brown said the council had ignored a consultation that showed 90 per cent of people wanted to keep the service.”
  • Shropshire – Shifnal Town Council to take over the running of Shifnal Library – Shropshire Live. “Shifnal Town Council has agreed to take over the running of Shifnal Library – if the plans get a positive response from the local community. Under the plans, Shifnal Town Council would lease the library from Shropshire Council, and run it on Shropshire Council’s behalf. Opening hours would remain the same and Customer Services hours would be extended. Library staff would become staff members employed by Shifnal Town Council. The proposals would also see Shifnal Town Council take over the running of the Customer Service Point, which is located at the library and provides people with face-to-face information and advice about council services. A public consultation is launched today running through to Monday 26 October 2015 to ask people for their views on the proposed changes.”
  • Staffordshire – Health trust and baptist church to take over some of Stafford’s libraries – Staffordshire Newsletter. “The trust in charge of mental health services will take over the running of two of Stafford’s libraries as the county council looks to save cash. South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust will run Baswich and Holmcroft libraries, as well as the one in nearby Brewood. And Rising Brook Baptist Church will take over the running of Rising Brook Library.”
  • Staffordshire – Libraries in Staffordshire handed to community groups – Burton Mail. “Eleven contracts have been offered to community bodies, an NHS trust and a church group, while talks are already under way with other organisations ahead of a second phase of applications later this year. Ben Adams, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for learning and skills, said: “The calibre of the applicants was excellent.” … “Of the 23 libraries which are being handed over, 11 will now be run by community organisations, with discussions under way with other groups as to who will run the other 12. One of the affected centres, Barton Library, will now be run by South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust.”
  • Stockton on Tees – Billingham Library and Customer Service Centre – Designing Libraries. “the challenge was to create a bright open-plan, welcoming and state of the art environment that would encompass the aspirations of both the Library Service and the Council’s Customer Services team. We wanted to ensure that we encouraged the captive audience using the council’s customer services facilities into the library space even though they may not traditionally be library users. Our brief from client was that the design should facilitate a substantial increase in both the book stock and technology provision without compromising the ease of access and movement throughout the facility. Working within the parameters of the budget constraints we set about designing the space ensuring that both services maintained their own unique brand identity.”
  • Sutton – The future of Sutton’s library service: options for savings and permission to consult – Sutton Council. “The purpose of this report is to outline the options for achieving the savings target of c £1m from the library service by 2018/19 from an annual budget of £4.4m. Later savings will also be required while remaining within the Act, delivering excellent services and developing a financially sustainable network which is also compliant with the Council’s public sector equality duty. ” … “The council’s options for consultation are: Closure of Beddington library  Discontinuation of the Mobile Library service: Rationalisation of  library opening hours; Consideration of a community library model with the bulk of the workforce comprising volunteers who would work alongside some paid staff; Shared services with a neighbouring authority  Commissioning service from an external provider, such as those currently providing services in Croydon and Wandsworth.:
  • Thurrock – Thurrock libraries to reduce opening hours – Your Thurrock. “the council had examined library usage – both the number of visits and the number of items issued – and then made changes to the opening hours in line with those figures. The new hours will come into operation on 5 October and will see Grays library opening at 9am but with two late nights instead of three. All libraries will close at 1pm on a Saturday and details of the new hours are available online at thurrock.gov.uk/libraries”
  • Wiltshire – Wiltshire Council cuts: library staff facing more job losses – Marlborough News. “Wiltshire Council’s library service appears to be facing more job losses.  Library staff have been invited to meetings in Chippenham (September 22) and in Salisbury and Warminster (September 23). The letter inviting them to the meetings tells them that their ‘position has been identified as being at risk’ – it goes on to talk about government policies and a necessary reduction in the number of posts and working hours. The process of which these meetings are part is being termed a ‘formal collective consultation’.”