Public Libraries News has been going for five years now and so some of the councils I remember from the start of that time as going through cuts are going through it all again, with a pretty strong feel of deja vu for everyone involved. The Isle of Wight is one of those, with three more libraries and the mobile likely to be severely affected soon. 5 out of the then 11 libraries were passed to volunteers, amidst much protest in 2011. Legal action and an appeal to the DCMS (such appeals then not quite as hollow a joke as it is now) achieved little. From £1.8m a year in 2010, the budget was cut to £1.4m in 2011. There’s been further cuts since then but the further £280k proposed is likely to mean the libraries budget has been almost halved in six years. I hear that people who move the Isle from England are already surprised by how sparse libraries are. With these changes as well, it’ll be even less alright on the Wight.



National news

  • How Have Government Cuts Affected Our Public Libraries? A Passionate and Angry Plea in the Defence of Libraries – For Reading Addicts. “It is suprising to me though that public libraries were the first to be targeted amidst the financial cuts. Aside from the fact that books are obviously vital for educational and recreational purposes, libraries have been wonderfully successful in modernising their function: they now have a high digital presence and deliver IT and support for schools, job seekers, and benefit claimants. This is on top of the support groups, reading sessions and homework clubs that they provide.”
  • Library Glossary #3 – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. Devil’s Dictionary definitions of Library Access Points, “The Word”, “Hybrid Library”, “local non-statutory library offer”, “alternative delivery models”, “customer experience supervisor”, “maintaining”, “express library service”, “Library ambassador” and “rightsourcing”.
  • The Library User Comes Second – Leon’s Library Blog. “Nowhere is the perceived value of staff in principle and their replacement by untrained amateurs in practice more evident than in libraries, with views from some councils bordering on the absurd regarding the capacity and capability of volunteers. This approach is underpinned by the unevidenced belief that it is communities at the micro level that are best placed to determine the needs of that particular locality. Despite the fact that this very rarely applies to any other council or outsourced service in the area.”
  • A selection of Library Bookmark Projects 2015> – BookMark People. 99 of them.

International news

  • Israel – Tel Aviv library makes room for tech startups – Citiscope. “The idea to merge the old world of books with the new one of tech startups came four years ago. That might seem like an obvious connection to make, but it wasn’t. Entrepreneurs without offices often gravitate to libraries, if only for the free Wi-Fi. The idea of actually turning over a chunk of the space to them and for them is a breakthrough. “No one expected this solution for either one of the problems,” says Michael Vole, founding director of the Young Adults Unit for the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality, an office serving the most common age group of techies. “But that’s the thing about innovative solutions — they pop when you merge disciplines that normally don’t go together. Now we have many more readers, and a great service for entrepreneurs.”
  • USA – 13 Things Librarians Won’t Tell You (But Every Reader Needs to Know) – Reader’s Digest. “Avoid late fees, get the most out of your library card, and find out what’s really in those book drops.”
  • USA – 75 Year-Old Army Veteran Saves 16 Children From Knife Attack In Public Library – Good Things Guy. “Sixteen children and a handful of their mothers found the only door to their library room in Morton Public Library blocked by a man who held hunting knives in each hand as he screamed, “I’m going to kill some people!” That may have happened had it not been for this hero: 75 year-old Army veteran, James Vernon.”
  • USA – Jessamyn West, Technology Lady: The role of the modern librarian, and other things – Medium. “To me the most amazing thing about libraries and the reason I like to go there when I’m traveling is because no matter where I am, the public libraries belong to me. I’m the public. It’s for me. How magical is that?” … “We see more and more, especially in academic libraries, that libraries are used as social places. I mean, for students, they love getting together in the library, if you let them… working on projects and talking to each other and drawing stuff on whiteboards and figuring stuff out.”

“I think priest is part of it, I think social worker is part of it for people who are having challenging problems. A lot of time what ends up coming up is people who are asking for a thing and they feel weird about the thing because they feel like the thing isn’t normal … My whole deal is, I’m not your administrative assistant. You either have to do this yourself or you pay someone to be your administrative assistant. That’s not me. This is free help. And so they run the mouse, they run the keyboard. Part of it is getting people used to doing it on their own or with sort of minimal feedback.” Jessamyn West

Local news by authority

  • Anglesey – Anglesey Council seeks views on possible library closures and service changes – News North Wales. “The County Council launched a consultation process on Monday as part of a review of its Library and Information Service which could see opening hours cut or some of its 10 current libraries closed. The authority says the aim is to ensure a library service which is fit for the 21st century and meets statutory duties, whilst also responding to the significant financial pressures now faced by the council.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Library could be sold for £1m after merger with Hove Museum – Brighton and Hove Independent. “Hove Library, a Grade 2 listed building, could be fetch as much as £1 million under plans to integrate the library into a new “cultural centre” in an extended Hove Museum.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Warren Morgan: We cannot afford to keep Hove Library in current form – Brighton and Hove Independent. “The building is listed, but is very costly to run – in terms of repairs, maintenance, and staffing. We simply can’t afford to keep the library going in its current form. Most users live on the other side of Sackville Road, so it makes sense to move the service closer to them and make full use of the museum, its grounds, and café on new Church Road. It will need to be extended, but in the long term the costs will be much lower.” … “Today we should be focusing on services, not buildings, on making a difference to people’s lives through culture and learning, not preserving symbols of civic importance. We need a library service, not a collection of ageing buildings we can’t maintain, to ensure that libraries are as valued by future generations as they have are by ours.” See also Hove Library could open in museum building as early as 2017 – Brighton and Hove News. .
  • Buckinghamshire – Sir Terry Wogan drops in to open Burnham Library Arts Festival – Burnham Advertiser. “Sir Terry Wogan officially opened the second Burnham Library Arts Festival in his capacity as patron of the Windsor Lane library. The presenter was on hand on Friday to present prizes to the winners of the competitions which have been running over the past month, as well as to welcome supporters of the festival.”

“More than 100 guests filled the library on opening night of the festival, which aims to raise villagers’ awareness of what is on offer at their local library, as well as introduce new skills taught by High Street and village businesses. The festival is organised by the volunteers of the Friends of Burnham Library (FoBL) group. The festival finale this Saturday will include a performance of Tea with Oscar Wilde by theatre company Don’t Go Into The Cellar.” Burnham Advertiser

“I talked about the magnificent contribution that the staff make to a successful library and hearing the round of spontaneous applause that greeted the remark, just emphasises the fact that people do appreciate and value the professional contributions that Librarians make.    In these times I wish more politicians could understand that” Andrew Strathdee, Friends of Burnham Library.

  • Haringey – Campaigners Are Worried For The Future Of A Treasured London Library BuzzFeed News. “Following the closure, a statement from Haringey council said there would be “no reduction to the library services on offer”. A campaign group, Friends of Marcus Garvey Library, believes this to be an “outright lie”. They are concerned that when the library reopens in 2016, there will be a significant reduction in space, fewer books, and that the shared space with council services will cause disruption to library users, especially children. The Marcus Garvey Library is situated in the fifth most ethnically diverse borough in the country, and almost two-thirds of the borough’s residents come from an ethnic minority background. Haringey is also the fourth most deprived borough in London, with 1 in 3 children living in poverty. And although the Marcus Garvey Library was in some ways like any other local community library, to many residents it was also something much more profound.”
  • Hertfordshire – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of a Hemel Book Group – Hertfordshire Council. “After reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, members of a Hemel walking reading group made their own journey through the old town and down the River Gade, while discussing the plot and themes of Rachel Joyce’s novel. Meeting at Hemel Library’s temporary base in the Civic Centre, the group of 14 departed at 10am for an hour long walk through Hemel. Participant Grace Brett really enjoyed the event: “I enjoy walking very much, and the fact that the walk was connected to this book made it even more interesting. I spoke to lots of people I’d never met before; it was great to compare our thoughts about the book.””
  • Isle of Wight – Libraries review: outcome of consultation – Isle of Wight Council. ” 74.4 % of respondents said they would use a partnership run library. However, many respondents said they would use such a library only if there was no other choice. ” … “As part of its budget strategy Full Council committed to a budget saving target of £140,000 for 2015/16 and a full yearly saving of £280,000 from 2016/17 ongoing, to be delivered from changes to the library service. To achieve this, the service delivery needs to change” … Cowes, Freshwater and Ventnor to be run with support from town council. Cuts in opening hours and mobile library service. £280k cut 2016/17 ongoing.
  • Kirklees – Labour and Lib Dems row over library futures – Batley and Birstall News. “Kirklees Council’s recent ruling on the future of libraries in the area has been called in for scrutiny by the Liberal Democrat group.” … “Coun Kath Pinnock told the Guardian that the Lib Dems were “dissatisfied” with the level of information given to Cabinet about the decision. “Beneath the headline that 24 of the 26 libraries would remain open were huge changes which will put the futures of many of them in jeopardy,” she said.”
  • Leicestershire – Community library secured for Rothley – Loughborough Echo. “The grand opening will be on Saturday, October 17 and BBC East Midlands Today presenter Anne Davies is expected to attend alongside Betty Roberts who was one of the library’s first ever volunteers” …”Rothley library is one of the 27 community run libraries that Voluntary Action Leicestershire (VAL) has supported over the past seven months.” … ““I registered with VAL in autumn 2014 and our small group of four was languishing along until the day when a VAL development officer rang me up and asked where we were in attempts to save our local library. From that day we have never looked back.”
  • Lewisham – Why a community library ISN’T the answer for Manor House – by Patricia Richardson, Secretary, Users and Friends of Manor House Library – Lee Green. “If this is a consultation, it’s time the definition was changed, because it seems we are back to Alice in Wonderland, where words meant what the Red Queen wanted them to mean.  Sir Ian Mills advised that the devil would be in the detail, but we have no detail. “
  • Norfolk – More than half of Norfolk’s libraries could close under sweeping county council budget cuts – Lynn News. “Each department at the council has been asked to show how it could provide services with only 75 per cent of its current funding to help the authority plug its funding gap. However, council officers have stressed that proposals being put forward would be ‘worst-case scenario’ cuts, as a 16 per cent budget saving would be enough to save the £111 million.” … “A report to go before the meeting says if the number of libraries was cut from 47 to 20, the service would have to transfer to communities to operate. But it warns that the service would then be unable to guarantee “high levels of support for literacy, information, learning and early help”.” see also Budgets cuts could see 60% of Norfolk’s libraries close – BookSeller.
  • Shropshire – Closed doors fears raised over Shropshire libraries – Shropshire Star. “Hannah Fraser, Liberal Democrat councillor for Shrewsbury’s Abbey ward, has criticised Shropshire Council policy, which allows for the closure of individual libraries to be confirmed at cabinet decision-making sessions, which are not open to the public.”
  • West Berkshire – Council warns of £10.6m cuts to come – Newbury Today. “Although Mr Lundie declined to answer specific questions about what other services would be at risk, he said that it would be looking at “libraries, children’s centres, and well-funded organisations like Mencap”.”