I was really sorry to read about the potential closure of Hove Library.  This was the site of one of the most famous campaigns against closure back in 2003/4 where five thousand people put up “save the library” posters and it made national news. The plan is for Hove to move into a museum and two other libraries to move into a school and a children’s centre. They’re not closing as such so the public response is likely to be muted.  We’ll see how muted in the next few weeks.


National news

  • Book-based therapy scheme is a success – Telegraph. “a project whereby GPs prescribe self-help books for mental health problems has been a success. The findings of the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme come ahead of a 2016 scheme aimed specifically at supporting young people with mental health problems, a growing issue in the UK. The present adults scheme, delivered in partnership between The Reading Agency and Society of Chief Librarians, funded by the Arts Council and endorsed by GPs, has now reached around 445,000 people since it was launched in 2013.” … “The figures, based on a survey of 6,500 users and released on October 10 to mark World Mental Health Day show that book-based therapy has helped people struggling with common mental health conditions and dementia.” [NB. the percentage increases in books issued e.g. 346% suggest a very low starting base – Ed.]
  • CILIP members’ anger at body’s blog post – BookSeller. “CILIP also tweeted that that: “Every day public libraries support @Conservatives vision of a ‘greater Britain made of greater expectations’.” Following government budget cuts, many libraries have been forced to close or be downsized and CILIP’s blog and tweet has prompted a stong reaction from some members on social media. One, Charlotte, tweeted: “CILIP super out of touch. We’ve done so much advocacy and so much work to ‘prove’ to the council how much we are worth…” Another user, Mike Stores, tweeted: “Shocking, ill thought out comments by CILIP. Done a great job of uniting the profession. Against them.””

“Now is not the time to suck up to a government who are not indifferent to the plight of libraries, but actively hostile towards them and openly hastening their demise, like they are with so many other valuable public services.” Ned Potter

  • First impressions: a selection of library visits – Gov.UK/Libraries Taskforce. “Members of the taskforce take every opportunity to visit libraries all around the country – it is probably one of the best bits about this job. I joined the team to work on communications, and although I’ve only been working with them for a month, I’ve already seen lots of libraries which illustrate the diversity of service around the country.” … includes pics and brief descriptions of Exeter, Northampton, Market Harborough, Lewisham (including a volunteer library), Harbury (a volunteer library).
  • Ombudsman fires warning to councils over contracting out and accountability – Local Government Lawyer. “The Local Government Ombudsman has warned councils that although they can contract out services, they remain responsible for the quality of any service those contractors provide, and for addressing any complaints users of services may have. “This accountability remains irrespective of whether the provider is a private company, a third sector organisation or another publicly-funded body,” the LGO said.”
  • Tim Coates: Ten Steps to Changing Public Libraries – Leon’s Library Blog. Ends “If it did these things there would be nothing ‘amateurish’ whatsoever about the library profession.”

International news

  • Eire – We should cherish the Linen Hall Library – Irish Times. “For 227 years, the Linen Hall Library in Belfast city centre has been educating and entertaining people from across the north. Set up in 1788 – a decade before the United Irishmen rebellion – the library is still independent and still committed to the promotion of knowledge.” … “The Linen Hall is the last subscription library in Ireland, but you don’t have to be a member to use most of its facilities. Often, people shelter from the rain in its doorway, or use the free WiFi, or sit in battered armchairs and read for hours. Last week, I spotted an elderly man slowly making his way up the stone steps at the front of the building, and settling himself in a chair for a quick nap. The building isn’t shiny with banks of computer terminals. It has battered tables, some carved with the names of previous occupants, mismatched chairs, a café and, most importantly, shelves of books.”
  • Grenada – Literary lions of Grenada’s Mount Zion – Caribbean Intellligence. ““We were able to open full-time because of the sponsorship from UHP, as they sponsored our librarian’s salaries. “We were at risk of having to move out of the building, because we had to start paying rent and we couldn’t. So after UHP came on board, we were able to stay in the building, hire our first librarians and open full-time”
  • Romania – Top 5 Most Beautiful Romanian Libraries – Crazy Beautiful Reads. “, in Romania there are some fabulous libraries, where the reading taste is quite different, be it about modern spaces or the historic building.”

Edward Snowden@Snowden 27m27 minutes agoEdward Snowden Retweeted Dan Gillmor – DHS fought to stop libraries from using privacy technology, but beat them. Librarians are badass.”

  • USA – BiblioCommons partners with Penguin Random House to expand ebook offerings – Library Technology Guides. “The agreement will add over 38,000 eBook titles to those already available to libraries through the BiblioDigital eBook acquisitions platform. “
  • USA – Bolivian Immigrant Learns To Fix Most Things By Reading Library Books – NPR. “He turned to an institution unique to America, the public library. V. Alarcon: For me, the library was my second house. Everything that I need to learn about anything is go to the library. Gjelten: At first, he didn’t realize he could check books out and take them home, so he’d go every day and stay for hours. V. Alarcon: I have learned to fix any cars at all. Gjelten: By reading repair manuals at the library, and that wasn’t all. V. ALARCON: I can do anything in the house – electrical…” [“unique to America”? – Ed.]

Local news by authority

  • Anglesey – Holyhead Market Hall library revamp bid takes further step – Daily Post. “Plans have been submitted to transform a dilapidated market hall into a library. Anglesey Council have submitted plans to safeguard the future of Holyhead’s Market Hall, which has been in a state of disrepair for many years.” … “Councillor Kenneth Hughes, education and libraries portfolio holder, said: “This project will strengthen Anglesey Library Service’s ability to offer high-quality facilities for the people of Holyhead and the surrounding area, whatever they are looking for – from books and films, access to computers and tablets, information sources and children’s activities. “The Library Service is undergoing a detailed review to ensure that libraries are able to deliver services in innovative ways making the best use of the available resources. “This project will be central to any future delivery proposals.”
  • Birmingham – Police called in as students stage sit-in protest at Library of Birmingham – Birmingham Mail. “West Midlands Police was called to the library as Defend Education Birmingham protested against opening hour and staffing cuts ” … “As the library attempted to close its doors yesterday, a group of 30 activists from campaign group Defend Education Birmingham took over the building in what they described as “a festival of protest”.” … “The sit-in, which lasted until late into the evening, came after a rally was held earlier in the day outside the library in Centenary Square, which saw more than 150 people speaking out against the cuts.”
  • Brent – Library campaigners win battle to return axed Barham Park library home – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Cracking open champagne, Friends of Barham Park Library were awarded a 15 year lease to run their services back in Harrow Road, in the lounge room of their old building. Yesterday, in a tense meeting at Brent Civic Centre in Engineers Way, Wembley, Friends of Barham Library went head to head with Pivot Point, a private community development group for Lounge room contract. With two cabinet members, Cllr James Denselow and Cllr Eleanor Southwood voting for FoBL and two councillors voting for Pivot Point, Cllr Margaret McLennan and Cllr Krupesh Hirani, it was up to Cllr Michael Pavey, chair of the Barham Trust Committee to decide the casting vote. Cllr Pavey said the “shambolic process” had taken far too long adding: “I acknowledge the strength of all the applications, particularly with Pivot Point.” He added his choice came down to the strength of the interviews: “Friends of Barham Library continue to show political neutrality and work for all sections of the community.””
  • Brighton and Hove – Historic Hove Library facing new closure threat – Argus. “The Argus understands plans are being drawn up to close the grade II listed building to the public in 2017 and move the resources to nearby Hove Museum as part of a major review of the city’s library services. Smaller branch libraries are also said to be at risk of closure and unions have warned of the prospect of cuts to opening hours at other branches around the city. The move, which is set to provoke a strong opposition campaign similar to 2003’s Save Hove Library campaign, comes as the council attempts to make £25 million of savings in the upcoming 2015/16 budget. ” … “Among libraries thought to be at risk of reduction or closure include Westdene Library with Westdene Primary School taking on the building. Hollingbury Library is also being considered for a merger with Hollingbury Children’s Centre.”

“… I have just recalled the long cold lonely winter of 2003/4, when, needs must, the campaign grew to prevent the closure of Hove Library – a splendid building given to the town by Andrew Carnegie. As campaigns do, this took many turns – including support from Bob Dylan (well, my quoting his enthusiasm for libraries, as eloquently expressed in Chronicles). I wrote a piece in The Times, appeared on The Politics Show but, above all, was heartened by 5000 residents and shopkeepers who put up “Save Hove Library” posters. Many parents told me that their children liked to count them as they walked about, and one small boy read out the words. His mother said, “he’s three, and didn’t know those words before.”  He must now be fourteen, and gained so much of a direction in life from those early visits to the Library. There are as many stories about the Library as there are readers. It is, in Carolyn Leigh’s phrase, everybody’s personal property, a place which – with ample natural light – brings daily serendipity, discovery.

It is at the heart of the community, with a notable local manuscript collection (including the second-largest number of Henry James letters in the country) and an array of facilities to help people with such tasks as finding work. The Library staff are splendid.  During our time on the Council, Geoffrey Bowden, Jason Kitcat and I were very glad to have kept the libraries open – and indeed open two more (at Mile Oak and Woodingdean). The Hove Library campaign inspired people across the country (such as Swindon and the Wirrall). And so, with all this in mind, I am astonished that, with the return of a Labour administration, Cllr Adrian Morris wants to close down the Carnegie building and bung the books and manuscripts in the ground floor of Hove Museum.  This was not designed as a Library, and should be used, as intended, as a picture gallery. During our Administration, we began to look at creating an Art Gallery which would begin to bring Hove and Brighton to the status of the Towner in Eastbourne and Pallant House in Chichester, as well as Hastings with its recent Jerwood. Such a plan would of course take more than four years, and so I am astounded that Cllr Morris is closing the door on putting more pictures on show in Hove.

A decade ago, I noted that when the Library opened, there was an exhibition of the disembowelling knives collected by a resident, Mr Methley. Cllr Morris has evidently been inspired by this to commit political hari-kari. The people of Hove should not be treated in this roughshod fashion” Christopher Hawtree

  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire West librarian receives national award  – Chester Chronicle. The awarding of an honorary CILIP fellowship to Ian Anstice [Yes, me – Ed.] is reported. See also Winsford librarian awarded Honorary Fellowship – Winsford Guardian.
  • Fife – Protest against Lundin Links Library closure – Chronicle. “The library is one of 16 facing the axe under plans to save Fife Council cash, but members of Largo Community Choir, Largo Mums ‘n’ Tots and Largo Pre-school Playgroup were among those railing against the proposals. Local resident Heather Paterson said the library does not fulfil the criteria for closure set out by the Fife Cultural Trust, stressing that it is performing well, is in a suitable building and offers good value for money.”
  • Lewisham – Budget Cuts: Only 3 professional Libraries for Lewisham? – Hither Green. “As several local residents have pointed out on social media, the Council’s online ‘Consultation’ about proposed Library cuts does not list an option for keeping our libraries open and professionally staffed. It appears residents are being asked to rubber stamp harmful, swingeing cuts under the guise of community consultation.” … “Community library volunteers work  hard but opening hours are hard to guarantee and the libraries struggle financially, continually appealing for donations of money, books and equipment. Is this to be the fate of Torridon and Manor House Libraries?”
  • Lewisham – Job losses inevitable under proposed library cuts – East London Lines. “According to the savings report, staff wages are the highest expense in the library budget accounting for 80 per cent at £3,105,800. Aileen Buckton, executive director of Community Services Lewisham, explained at the consultation: “You can’t save £1 million without it impacting on staff.”” … “Chris Flood, a former Lewisham councillor for Telegraph Hill ward, said: “I think the consultation was a rubber stamping exercise, they come with a predetermined decision and asking the public how they can make the cuts. We should be growing the economy, creating jobs and should not be in the process of making people redundant.”
Lincolnshire - "Cheers for Volunteers".  Council brochure celebrates volunteers replacing paid library staff.

Lincolnshire – “Cheers for Volunteers”. Council brochure celebrates willingness of volunteers to replace paid library staff to keep libraries open it decided to cut the funding for.

  • North Yorkshire – Libraries: how to get involved – Wetherby news. “The sessions will include information about the outcomes of North Yorkshire County Council’s public consultation on the future of its library service; how it affects individual local libraries; and how residents can become involved as volunteers at their library”
  • Shropshire – D-Day for dozens of Shropshire libraries – Council to vote on futures – Shropshire Star. “Shropshire Council’s cabinet will vote on the proposals that are intended to save £1.1 million from the authority’s £2.9 million libraries budget. If approved it will see 12 of the county’s smaller libraries offered to community groups.” … “Michael Green of the Shropshire Libraries Yes Campaign, described the proposals as “philistine-ism”. He said: “We believe that the libraries should remain in council hands, not that that makes them any safer but at least it means they are within the control of an accountable group, not something which people have no control over.”
  • Southampton -Deadline looms for Southampton groups wishing to take over threatened libraries – Bitterne Park Info. “The deadline for groups to express interest in running Southampton libraries that will have their funding cut and potentially face closure is midday on October 19. Meanwhile co-op options to run libraries are due to be discussed at a meeting on Monday (Oct 12).”
  • St Helens – Bid to expand St Helens’ mobile library scheme – Reporter. “Library bosses are planning on expanding their home delivery service by recruiting a new team of volunteers. They say the new scheme will provide a more personal provision for the housebound.” … “Currently, the service is run by just one paid member of the libraries team who has to provide the mobile library facility for 231 people.”