I was so sorry to see the big reduction proposed for Norfolk Libraries, especially as I associate them with the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library which regularly comes up as the most visited in the country.  The £1.59m cut, which may see 27 out of 47 libraries go, is the deepest but sadly not the only cut they have suffered over the past few years:

Now that £1.59m cut announced looks pretty bad but combine that with the cuts over the last five years and the true devastation becomes clear.  This is a library service that has show it can deliver the best results in the country but it’s having the means to do this withdrawn bit by bit, year after year.

Happier news, thank goodness is of the PMLG Awards, celebrating the achievments of library staff over the last year.  I hope to bring more details on each of the winner shortly.


PMLG Awards

Public library staff: Three public library staff have been presented with trophies after winning national awards run by their professional association.  The Public and Mobile Libraries Group, which is part of the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals, introduced these awards in 2014 and last weekend they announced the second year’s winners. This year’s awards were presented at the PMLG Conference at Yarnfield Park, Staffordshire, where over 100 delegates met to consider the important contribution libraries make to health and well being. Annie Brierley of Devon Libraries won the award as Public Library Champion of the Year,  Russell Allen of West Sussex won Public Librarian of the Year, and John McNab from Essex won the slightly longer standing Mobile Library Champion. The awards were introduced to demonstrate the importance of libraries retaining trained staff with a professional attitude so as to maximise the benefits they provide to their customers. PMLG Chair Jacquie Widdowson explained “The awards recognise the achievement of some very special library staff.  At a time when some places are having to exist with volunteer run services, PMLG wants to draw attention to the importance of library and information workers at all levels and to the high quality customer service experienced in most public libraries.””

All champions: Russell Allen, John MacNab and Annie Brierley

All champions: Russell Allen, John MacNab and Annie Brierley

Mobile libraries: PMLG Chair Jacquie Widdowson explained “The awards recognise the achievement of some very special library staff.  At a time when some places are having to exist with volunteer run services, PMLG wants to draw attention to the importance of library and information workers at all levels and to the high quality customer service experienced in most public libraries.” The Public & Mobile Libraries Group, (part of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals,) awarded four trophies to the winners of their Mobile Library Awards at PMLG Conference 2015.  In a difficult time, when Mobile Libraries are seeing their numbers decline across the UK, it is good to see Authorities and vehicle builders still working together to bring new developments to Mobile Library services, through innovative design. The winners were: Essex Libraries for the ‘State of the Art’ award; Renfrewshire Libraries for the ‘Delegate’s Choice’ award; Sandwell Libraries for the ‘President’s Shield for Best Small Van’; North Yorkshire for the ‘Best Vehicle Livery’ award.


  • The lives of the elderly in Wales have been hit hard by public service cuts, finds major new report  – Wales Online. “It revealed four of the five preventative services most valued by those completing the survey were affected by council cuts, including community-based facilities – such as day centres and libraries – and housing services. “
  • The role of libraries in times of crisis – CILIP. “Libraries support their communities in many different ways. Whether through times of humanitarian or political crisis, civil unrest or even the personal crises that affect all of us, libraries can be places of comfort, safety, reconciliation and hope.  Ivy Noelle Weir describes what happened when an ice storm knocked out power to a swathe of people and by chance the library kept power and heat:”
  • Win £20,000 World Book Day award for your school library – Guardian. “Where does reading take you? Answer that question imaginatively enough and you could be in with a chance of winning your school library a whopping £10,000 library makeover, as well as £10,000 worth of new books. There will also be a runner-up prize of £5000 of books, and three third-place prizes of £3000. So if you want the chance to revamp your school’s library, this is the competition for you!”


  • Canada – Canadian Libraries are fed up with high e-book prices – Good E Reader. “Last summer the The Toronto Public Library, Canadian Library Council, Ontario Library Association and the Canadian Library Association formed a working group with a singular purpose, to raise public awareness over the high prices libraries pay for e-books.  The gambit has paid off, and many Canadian news organizations and media outlets have written stories on the plight of libraries and how their budgets are being stretched thin due to draconian pricing.” …”Obviously paying this type of money for e-books is unsustainable for the long haul. This has led to the formation of the  Fair eBook Pricing movement in June 2015 and now many new libraries have joined the cause.” … “a motion requesting that the Department of Canadian Heritage and Industry Canada investigate the publishing industry’s practices during an upcoming review of the Copyright Act. “
  • USA – 10 books from Seattle’s first reading list – Crosscut. “Seattle is a city where one of our librarians, Nancy Pearl, has become a national celebrity, worthy of an action figure and a best-selling book series documenting her “book lust.” Pearl is influential in guiding us toward what to read, but she was not the first Seattle librarian to compile a book list. That credit goes to Sarah Yesler, wife of city founder Henry Yesler who launched Seattle’s first industry (a sawmill), served as mayor and became our first locally made millionaire. Sarah was influential in her own right: a civic activist who pushed for women’s rights, who practiced spiritualism, and who founded the city’s first library. She is often called Seattle’s first librarian. On July 30, 1868, a year before the city saw its first plumbed bathtub, a small group called the Seattle Literary Association gathered at Yesler Hall to organize the first library….”
  • USA – Library Worklife – ALA. Periodical on what library staff need to know about personnel issues.
  • USA – South Carolina Libraries Respond to Flooding – Library Journal. “Public libraries across the state began reopening Tuesday, and immediately began stepping in to help wherever possible—posting emergency information on their websites, helping people contact loved ones and insurance companies, distributing supplies, and serving as a place of shelter and connection.”


  • Head of IT – Suffolk Libraries. £45-50k. “Suffolk Libraries is an exciting place to work. As an independent charitable company formed three years ago, we were recently described as the ‘gold standard’ library service by the Chair of Government’s library task force. High quality and innovative IT services have been an essential part of the success story of Suffolk Libraries. Our Head of IT is now moving on to a more senior position and we have an exciting opportunity to recruit a replacement.”

Local news by authority

  • Brighton – Council Leader Warns City’s Finances Are In Crisis – Juice Brighton. “We are putting forward plans to make libraries community hubs, open seven days a week in buildings that are fit for purpose, affordable to run and at the heart of their neighbourhoods. The current home of Hove Library is costly and unsuitable for modern library services, so we are proposing to move it to Hove Museum where it will make better use of the space in a better location for Hove residents.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cultural services under review in West Cheshire  – Chester Chronicle. The consultation is now in progress and will continue until Wednesday, December 2. Background information on each of the services is included in the consultation document and questionnaire as well as their aspirations for working differently in the future. Three potential options for the future are also explained. These are that the council continues to provide the services, that a wholly council-owned company is set up under the council’s direction or an independent social enterprise/charitable organisation could be established which could benefit from the opportunities that arise from having charitable status such as gift aid.”
  • Fife – 2000 views on one decision over libraries – Fife Today. “campaigners against the closure of Kinghorn Library have held a number of drop in events to inform and encourage local people to make their views known, with a ‘read in’ event planned for Saturday” … “One non-political group, comprising members of Kinghorn Community Council, local councillors, the parish church minister, academics, teachers and others held an event in Kinghorn Primary School last week with an information stand to let people know what exactly is proposed.”
  • Fife – New Glenrothes chairman calls for end to ‘squabbling’ and ‘point-scoring’ – Fife Today.  “Cllr Brown now wants the committee to forge closer links with community groups, residents and young people and said there needed to be a sharper focus on local issues, most notably the threat of library closures. “Glenwood library is a great example of somewhere that is at the heart of the community and should be a hub for the whole area,” Cllr Brown.”
  • Hounslow – Consultation on the future of parks and libraries – Brentford TW8. “At the heart of the consultation exercise is a draft strategy that sets out four objectives: to modernise the borough’s library service; to enhance local parks and open spaces; to support residents to be more active; and to celebrate Hounslow’s cultural make-up and rich heritage.” … “The strategy proposes a shift towards online and digital services. And, for libraries, it also refers to the need to reach out to more residents since, while the Chiswick, Feltham and Hounslow branches remain busy, overall use of libraries has dropped by 20 per cent in the past five years.”
  • Lewisham – Community Libraries- The Blackheath Story – Hither Green. “Age Exchange staff manage a team of 22 regular volunteers, and together they keep the library open full time, 9 hours a day, 56 hours a week. This breaks down to 16 shifts (3hr stints) per week which takes a serious amount of effort.  While the entire village may have protested the ending of Lewisham’s library service provision, Blackheath mostly has its retired community to thank for keeping the treasured service running. Students and young parents also number amongst the volunteers, slipping in shifts where they can.”

“Its important to also flag that Manor House library is much bigger than Age Exchange library which can be run with just one volunteer at any one time, unlikely to be realistic for the larger Manor House. The reality is that the volunteers at Age Exchange, despite training, often can’t get to grips with the computer system and borrowing or returning books can be a slow and frustrating process. The stock is not regularly updated with current releases because there is a minimal budget for purchasing stock, and finding new volunteers is a struggle so it inevitably falls to a few people to keep it going. Hardly an ideal model to follow.”

“Once a sanctuary for those seeking a quiet place to read, public libraries in Lambeth are set to be packed with…  gym equipment and personal trainers as a way to “safeguard” the buildings from future cuts.  Minet, Carnegie and Tate South Lambeth libraries are all set to become Healthy Living Centres, run by outsourced leisure services firm Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) under new plans to avoid absolute closure of the libraries.  A neighbourhood library service will be kept in each building, but this will consist of merely “a limited supply of books” that people can borrow and drop off, plus computers and study space.  There will be no librarians.

GLL, a social enterprise originally created by Greenwich Council to run leisure centres, will also offer “fee-paying access to gymnasium equipment” and opportunities for self-employed fitness trainers in the buildings.  Lambeth Council describes this as “diversifying the use of library buildings” and claims it will save the buildings and services within them from total closure and sale.  Nine years ago, before its fancy revamp, Liverpool Central Library installed “muscle-toning” stations, including squat machines and shoulder presses, next to the computing area as a novelty wheeze to get readers exercising (Eye 1165).  But at least library chiefs there rejected joggers on treadmills as too noisy and distracting.” Lambeth – Library News – Private Eye, Issue No. 1403, p.35.

  • Lincolnshire – Volunteer crisis – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. Lists libraries closed due to council cuts and lack of volunteers, details reasons in each case.
  • Norfolk – Norfolk County Council budget cuts could see libraries close – BBC. “Almost 60% of libraries in Norfolk could close as county council bosses look to save £111m over the next three years. The plans, which are in their early stages, could see 27 of the county’s 47 libraries shut by 2018-19. The closures are expected to save £1.59m and are part of proposals to shave 25% from the authority’s overall budget. The council said a final decision had yet to be made. An internal report concluded that if the closures went ahead, the libraries service would be unable to guarantee “high levels of support for literacy, information, learning and early help”.” See also online survey Help us to imagine the future of Norfolk’s library service and  Re-imagining Libraries.
  • Shropshire – Court vow over Shropshire libraries battle – Shropshire Star. “Opponents, who branded the move an “abdication” of Shropshire Council’s responsibility, today said they had taken legal advice. Twelve libraries could close in the near future unless community groups come forward to take over their running. Another six large face a review of their management with a view to offloading them.” … “Shropshire Libraries Yes campaigner, Michael Green, warned councillors at the meeting that the decision could now face a legal challenge and called for talks. He said: “We are not prepared to stand by while our library service is disassembled. We have taken advice from a leading public administration lawyer. There is a high likelihood of our being granted a judicial review under legal aid.””
  • Wrexham – 20% Council Funding Cut For Wrexham Theatre – Wrexham.com. “Options to increase footfall through the building and develop its ‘community central focus’ included moving the Rhos Library into the facility, with the idea initially mooted last year during a debate on the future of libraries across the county borough. However speaking at the Executive Board this week, Cllr Jones said that due to the Stiwt being a listed building and its internal limited structures would result in a ‘compromised’ library service.”