The decision by Lincolnshire Council to see if it can seek compensation from library campaigners for the failed legal action against them is one of the two key news items to me today.  The large amounts of money involved mean that, if the council does so decide, it would seriously dent the finances of those who sought legal action.  The results of this will inevitably mean that only clear-cut cases of council wrongdoing will only ever make it to court.  Few would be willing to risk their assets for an iffy legal argument to save their local library. That will make councils more gung ho in reducing library services and also, perhaps, more lax in adhering to their legal responsibilities.  Now the judicial review is out of the way, one can expect the DCMS to deliver its own verdict on if the council has met it’s statutory duty.  It will doubtless decide that it has done so,  What the thing is to look out for is if Mr Vaizey considers the reduced (core) council-run library service sufficient on its own to meet the definition of “comprehensive and efficient”. He has done so in every case so far so the legal status of volunteer libraries has never been brought into question.

The other thing that I noticed was the decision by Dudley to pass its libraries to an employee-led mutual, similar in style to Suffolk and York. Those two examples are seen as shining lights in recent library innovation, although the 30% “saving” that the council claims it will achieve because of it in Dudley looks, shall we say, slightly over-optimistic.


National news

  • Amazon should start directly distributing eBooks to libraries – Good E Reader. “Amazon has worked with Overdrive for over five years and in this time they have come to understand how libraries handle metadata and delivery in the Kindle format. Major publishers will not change their pricing models for libraries unless they are forced to. There is simply no competition to make them change in order to preserve their market share.  If Amazon were to leverage their entire category of self-published titles and e-books from their own imprints and deal with libraries directly, they could easily offer a better price than anyone.”
  • Libraries as Fun Palaces – Gov.uk/ English Libraries Taskforce Blog. “I co-direct Fun Palaces, an ongoing campaign for access to culture that enables venues, organisations and individuals to create community-led, hyper-local events, using arts and sciences as a catalyst for community engagement. The Fun Palace movement believes in the genius in everyone, exemplified by our motto, ‘everyone an artist, everyone a scientist’. Our aim is to reach beyond traditional ways of sharing arts or sciences – the us and them of artist and audience, the learned and learning of traditional scientist and non-scientist interactions. We believe that – given the chance – all people, of any age, and all communities, can be creative, engaged, cohesive and collaborative.”

“Just as the internet has opened our lives to worlds far beyond those in which we live, so too the library has opened up in the twenty-first century. Study and private reading remain vital, but they are now alongside silver surfers, new neighbours learning English as a second or third language, children and young people’s groups. In those areas where the library has taken its rightful place as true community hubs, we see that those who might once have been intimidated by books or reading, are welcome into a space of literature and knowledge – perhaps drawn in for other activities. Once inside, a world of possibility is open to them.” Stella Duffy

  • Staff shortages forcing prisoners to choose between books and showers – Guardian. “Charities say limits on access to prison libraries in England and Wales – blamed on a lack of escorts or unsupportive governors – is harming inmate rehabilitation” … “Lack of access to libraries is having a serious impact on the education, training and rehabilitation of prisoners at a time when the government is under huge pressure to reduce the high rate of reoffending, say charities, reading groups and campaigners.”
  • “What have they done to my library?” – Caitlin Moran’s latest column – Nosy Crow. [Superb article which I’ve only just spotted now – Ed.]. “I’ve written about that library before. About how this place was the delight of my life – a thing I would have married, in my pre-pubertal anthropomorphic phase. I would have been as happy as a clam and, if the gods had so blessed us, in later years, I would have got pregnant by that library, and we would have raised a couple of little mobile libraries together.”

“If you take out the intelligence and knowledge from a library – if you take away the purpose, the usefulness, so that it is filled only with sugary treats – then when the next round of austerity cuts come in, that library will die. No one will fight for it – no one can fight for a room like that. How could you argue to put money into that neutered, monosyllabic, intellectually sterile room when there are hospitals and schools?

This is a tactic we must all grow furious about. That when something cannot be axed straight away – because it is important, because it is loved, because people protest – that thing is then starved or bled until it is a weak, mutant ghost. Until no one wishes to defend it. Until no one can defend it, because all the words they could have learnt and used are now heaped up by the door, for sale.” Caitlin Moran.

International  news

  • Japan – Aichi city nixes ‘Tsutaya Library’ project amid public opposition – Japan Times. “The city of Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, has officially scrapped a plan to build a next-generation public library in collaboration with video rental giant Tsutaya after the majority of its residents voted it down in a referendum earlier this month. The city announced Tuesday that it would terminate its partnership with Culture Convenience Club Co. (CCC), which runs Tsutaya, to build what was dubbed the “Tsutaya Library.”” … “In the meantime, the Takeo City Library, which CCC runs in Takeo, Saga Prefecture, and which features an unconventional, cafe-like setting, is at the center of a separate scandal involving accusations the city misused tax revenue purportedly budgeted for improving the library’s book collection.”
  • Nigeria – Council to clampdown on quack librarians – Daily Trust. “Librarians’ Registration Council of Nigeria (LRCN) has warned non-librarians, who are masquerading as librarians, to steer clear of libraries across the country or face prosecution.  The council said it would not only bark but also bite hard on those it described as “quack librarians.””

“Okojie, who decried the presence of quacks in the profession, said the minimum qualification for one to be regarded as a Librarian is First Degree in Librarianship, without which the person would be considered quack.  The Registrar also revealed that the Council has succeeded in removing five Directors of Library Board because they were not Professional Librarians.”

  • USA – Libraries take to the streets with mobile computer labs, Wi-Fi, coaches to address ed-tech inequality – MAGG. “A mix of Wifi-enabled buses and mobile computer labs has hit America’s streets. Some of these vehicles act simply as roving Internet hot spots. Others ferry educational software, coding and robotics workshops to city parks, churches and youth groups serving communities in danger of being left behind. But the demand is huge, and technology on wheels isn’t cheap. “
  • USA – Marty, We’ve Got to Go Back—to the Library – American Libraries. “Many libraries are celebrating Back to the Future Day—October 21, 2015—with screenings of the Back to the Future trilogy and programming related to the films. The date, which is featured prominently in Back to the Future Part II, has been incorrectly depicted in internet hoaxes and memes for years. “We actually have a super fan on our team [a librarian in the children’s services department] who knew the date was coming up,” says Christina Walsh, teen services coordinator at the Salt Lake City Public Library System. The library will be observing Back to the Future Day with a showing of Back to the Future Part II, trivia, a costume contest, and a photo booth.”
  • USA – Nine Artist-Designed Miniature Book Sharing Libraries Appear in Indianapolis – Colossal. “As a way to simultaneously improve literacy and foster an appreciation for local artists, the Indianapolis Public Library and artist Rachel M. Simon conceived the Public Collection, an endeavor to create nine artist-desiged miniature libraries filled with free books. While the idea of free sharing libraries in urban locations isn’t new (we’ve mentioned several different projects here on Colossal over the years), this project seems particularly ambitious and original by highlighting the sculptural works of Indiana artists and by providing a diverse selection of reading material free to the public.”
  • USA – Why Libraries Win: Library Lending vs. E-book Subscription Services – Public Libraries Online. “Ebooks will not replace paperbacks entirely anytime soon. Subscription services will not replace libraries and the community resources they provide. Libraries win, even in the area of ebook lending, despite the challenges they face. But the challenge won’t likely come from any kind of subscription service, at least for now.”

Supporter’s news

  • Nielsen LibScan Public Library Borrowing data Period 8 (four weeks ending 8 August 2015) – Neilsen. “Library loans through Nielsen LibScan show an overall increase of 27.7% between period 7  (four weeks ending 11 July ) and Period 8 of 2015 to a total of 7.4m books borrowed in the four-weeks leading up to 8 August. The Children’s category has seen borrowing increase by 60.7% but other categories also benefitted from the summer boost.  Adult Fiction loans grew by 7.1% and Trade Non-Fiction grew by 7.9%. However, year-on-year, library borrowings have dropped when compared with Period 8 of 2014.  The overall number of library loans through Nielsen LibScan decreased by 2.9% with Adult Specialist Non-Fiction loans decreasing by the biggest percentage, -8.6%.  In contrast Children’s book loans have increased year-on-year by 0.9% to reduce the overall decline.  Despite the growth of the Children’s book borrowing in libraries; Crime, Thriller & Adventure is still a dominant category when it comes to the top titles, 35 of the Top 100 books borrowed in Period 8 2015 fall under the Crime, Thriller and Adventure category and Lee Child has kept the top spot with – Personal in the last four weeks to 8 August.  “


  • CILIP Marketing Excellence Awards 2015 – Friday 13th November 10am – 4pm in Birmingham. “Come to CILIP’s Publicity and PR Group (PPRG) annual conference and hear from our 2015 Marketing Excellence Award winners, who will showcase their successful campaigns. This is a fantastic opportunity to hear about the best practice strategies and techniques have worked so effectively in other library services, providing you with inspiring ideas to take back to your service.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Anger as library cuts passed – This is Local London. “Councillors were accused of being “morally bankrupt” as they voted for cuts to Barnet’s library service. The plans, which will see libraries remain open – but scaled back, with 46 per cent of staff sacked and four run by volunteers – were passed after a heated debate in Hendon Town Hall this evening (October 20).” … “John Burgess, branch secretary of Barnet Unison, said members were “disgusted” at volunteers replacing professional librarians. “
  • Dudley – Dudley Council set to create a mutual to run libraries and associate services – Halesowen News. “Dudley Council is planning to hive off the borough’s libraries, archives and adult learning into a new organisation. The  cabinet is expected to agree the creation of an employee-led mutual to run the services from next April, as part of a five year plan, when it meets next Wednesday.” … “If agreed, the plans will go out for a three-month public consultation to find out what people want from their libraries, archives and adult learning services. There will also be consultation with staff, unions and other stakeholders. The mutual will see all libraries, library links and the archive service remain open, but with increased customer self-service and reduced staff time.” … “The spokesman said the plans will enable the combined service to bid for new money and grow the business with less reliance on council funding, which means a council saving of 11 per cent in 2016/17 rising to 30 per cent by 2017/18. “
  • Ealing – Plan for new West London council offices and library – Construction Enquirer. “Ealing Council is moving ahead with plans to appoint a development partner to build smaller replacement office accommodation for the council and a new library. The existing council head offices in Ealing Broadway will be demolished to make way for new homes. The council’s Perceval House offices are now a valuable asset and the council is seeking to unlock the site’s potential by redeveloping it for housing, commercial space and replacement council facilities.”
  • Harrow – Council accused of ‘stringing along’ library campaigners – Harrow Times. “Campaigners hoping to save North Harrow library, which saw its shutters pulled down earlier this year thanks to council cuts, say they feel it is unlikely it will reopen this year.  Members of the North Harrow Community Partnership and library supporters submitted a business plan to Harrow Council in a bid to reopen the library as a community-run centre, which the council had said they were seriously considering.” … “But months down the line, the shutters remain pulled and the door remains closed – leaving campaigners wondering if it will ever be reopened. “
  • Kirklees – Cash-strapped Kirklees Council gifts Mirfield Community Centre and Kirkburton Library to residents’ groups  – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Two threatened village hubs are now safe in the hands of their communities.” … “the leasehold for Kirkburton Library has been handed over to Kirkburton Parish Council (KPC). The library’s future had been contested between Green and Conservative members of the parish council. But now Kirklees Cabinet members have agreed to give the building and its grounds to KPC. As part of the deal the building itself will be loaned back to Kirklees Council at nil rent over five years so it can remain as a functioning library. It will be run by one council employee, backed by community volunteers. Kirkburton Councillor John Taylor said: “I fully support this asset transfer and look forward to working with the officers and councillors to make this a valuable asset for the people of Kirkburton.””
  • Kirklees – Mobile book service cuts put 88 jobs at risk in libraries shake-up – Telegraph and Argus. “More than 80 library staff are to lose their jobs under cost-cutting plans approved by Kirklees Council. Members of the Cabinet yesterday approved plans to withdraw the six-vehicle mobile library service and reduce the number of full-time equivalent staff by 88. The job reductions could affect more than 100 people as many library staff are in part-time positions.”
  • Kirklees – Poet supports campaign to save Kirklees libraries – Telegraph and Argus. “Mr Armitage, who is from Huddersfield, said: “I wholeheartedly support all efforts to save the libraries in Kirklees, especially those in outlying communities. “
  • Lambeth – Library campaigners plan protest march from Brixton to Stockwell to greet Cabinet member at her ‘book-ish gym’ – Brixton Buzz. “ibrary users in Lambeth are being asked to join a protest on 7 November to help campaign against the bonkers decision to turn three local libraries into mini-me gyms. A march is setting off at 10:30am from Windrush Square to the Tate South library along South Lambeth Road. The end destination is significant – this is where Cabinet member Cllr Jane Edbrooke will be holding one of her ward surgeries during the morning. We are not sure where Cllr Edbrooke will be able to hold these in future if she succeeds in her heavily criticised plans to turn the Tate South and two other libraries into book-ish gyms.”
  • Leicestershire – Mercury Mailbox: I’m incensed by library’s closure – Leicester Mercury. “I am incensed as I have just been advised that the Braunstone Town Library is to be closed and replaced with a mobile library van. How can the chairman of the libraries accept the recommendation of his officers to run Glenfield library, with a population of around 9,000, entirely at the Leicestershire County Council’s expense and yet to close Braunstone Town Library, with a population of around 17,000, despite a Braunstone Town Council offer to run the service with considerable savings? I was so concerned about the closure and that none of the financial details have been disclosed of how the county council made its decision to close our library, that I have arranged a public meeting for the evening of November 17 at Braunstone Civic Centre from 7pm.”
  • Leicestershire – New community-run library opens – Loughborough Echo. “The Rothley community came out in force to support the opening of its new volunteer-run library on Saturday, October 17. The local Scout group and Rothley Community Gospel Choir joined crowds of residents as BBC East Midlands Today presenter Anne Davies officially opened the Mountsorrel Lane facility.”
  • Lewisham – Leave our library alone – South London Press. “At a meeting on Monday, residents and businesses in Forest Hill slammed the decision saying it would be a “massive loss” to the town centre. Pauline Wright who runs Sugar Mountain in Dartmouth Road, said: “I know the council has to make cuts but if our library is handed over to volunteers we may see it closed in six months or a year’s time.”
  • Lincolnshire – County Council to seek legal costs from Save Lincolnshire Libraries after High Court challenge – Lincolnshire Echo. “Lincolnshire County Council is consulting its lawyers to see if it can claim costs from campaigners who challenged its shake-up of library services.” “the judge has refused permission on all grounds, meaning that none of the arguments put forward had any legal merit and there was effectively no case to answer.” see also Lincolnshire County Council seek recovery of £350,000 costs after High Court libraries ruling – Louth Leader and  Lincolnshire County Council blames campaigners for £350k libraries legal challenges bill – Lincolnite and Council to seek costs for campaigners’ failed libraries challenge – Lincolnshire County Council.

“This judgement makes it abundantly clear that the council acted in a legal and proper manner. In fact, the judge is pretty damning in her assessment of the campaigners’ case, even going as far as to suggest one of their arguments was ‘hopeless’. Unfortunately, this hasn’t stopped their two ill-considered challenges resulting in around £350,000 of taxpayers’ money being wasted. This is frankly outrageous, and we will certainly be consulting our lawyers regarding the recovery of our costs.” Cllr Martin Hill, Leader of Lincolnshire County Council

“We put thousands of pounds of our own money into this campaign and it was our democratic right to challenge the council’s plan. Recent events like the closure of Wragby Library and others because volunteers can’t afford to run them show why it was important to challenge this. We are ordinary people living ordinary lives who didn’t like what the council was doing.” Julie Harrison, library user.

“The Judgement. The day you’ve all been waiting for has arrived the Judgement itself was handed down at 10:30 today. I couldn’t say anything until after that time (even to Timber) as it would of been contempt of court. However I can now. As you all know we failed in winning the case, as the Judge ruled we was late in starting the process. However our solicitors Public Interest Lawyers and our barristers think we may have grounds to appeal. So that is what my day will be all about today. Also along with the judgement the Council itself has decided to put a costs order against me personally. This means basically if I come into money, they may decide to activate it and I’ll get a hefty bill. I do not know how much they are wanting yet, but as we have seen in the local press they’ve banded around figures of £50k – £60k+. I knew this could of been a risk if I took on this case, solicitors locally and PIL warned me before I even signed the forms which is one of the many reasons why we fund raised so hard during the first JR. Any questions that I can answer I will, however please understand there may be questions I can’t answer as it will be either confidential or a private matter.” Simon Draper

  • Newham – Extended opening hours for Newham’s libraries – Newham Recorder. “Currently, the council’s main libraries stay open until 8pm just one or two nights a week, but from November, this will extend to every day apart from Sunday. The later opening times will allow as many people as possible to take advantage of the facilities on offer and provide the opportunity for libraries to host more activities and initiatives.” … “While national library usage decreased by around five per cent last year, Newham saw an increase of the same amount. The extension to opening hours, which is being covered through the service’s existing budget, is expected to further boost their use.”
  • Northern Ireland – First female librarian takes charge at Belfast’s Linen Hall – Irish News. “Samantha McCombe is the Linen Hall’s 22nd librarian and completes the first-ever, all female senior team alongside director Julie Andrews, deputy librarian Monica Cash, and finance manager Karen Law.”
  • Northern Ireland – Library staff ‘living in a constant state of uncertainty’ – Belfast Telegraph. “Seven years of redundancies and stringent budget cuts have left stressed out frontline workers facing a barrage of complaints from dissatisfied customers, MLAs were told. Irene Knox said: “We are almost living in a constant state of uncertainty.” Since its formation in 2009, Libraries NI has lost 114 employees through voluntary redundancies rolled out every year.” …”A further 19 people are expected to leave through the civil service voluntary exit scheme, vastly reducing resources for essential programming dedicated to children and heritage. ” … “It was also revealed that spending on stock had been slashed from £3.4 million four years ago to £2.7 million this year. A further £50,000 in-year reduction had meant libraries had missed out on some recent publications – adding to the dissatisfaction of users.” see also Northern Ireland libraries: Fewer staff will affect service to public – BBC.
  • Oxfordshire – ‘County’s library service faces being suffocated by cutbacks’ – Herald. “Proposals to save £1m by closing all five mobile libraries in the county, cutting the fund for books and reducing library staff were among £52.5m of possible savings suggested by Oxfordshire County Council on Tuesday. But Friends of Grove Library group member Eoin Garland warned the cuts would have a devastating effect and said he was concerned libraries would end up without staff.” see also ‘Tell us where to cut services’ says council – Banbury Guardian.
  • Reading – Hands off Tilehurst Library say petitioners  – Get Reading. ““Hand’s off Tilehurst Library” was the simple message to Reading councillors last night. Former councillor Peter Beard handed in a petition to Reading Borough Council on Tuesday, October 20. It had nearly 1,000 signatures which emphasised the value of Tilehurst Library.” Labour council says ““In spite of our aspirations for Reading’s library service, cuts to Government grant funding received by local authorities have undermined the ability of Reading Borough Council to continue to deliver library services in the way we have done in the past.””
  • Shropshire – Ex-mayor in plea over future of Whitchurch library – Shropshire Star. “Former town mayor Rob Hewson has called on Whitchurch Town Council not to discuss plans for the town’s library behind closed doors. He today said it should be up to residents to decide what happens to the facility.”