I missed doing a blog post last week because I had the pleasure of attending the CILIPS Autumn Gathering in Glasgow. My presentation was on lessons learnt while doing Public Libraries News so if you want to learn how it started, why I do it and exactly where I fit in the time then I’d recommend seeing the slideshow here. They were all a lovely bunch of people, with lots of great things happening (not least in the school libraries) and it’s quite a notably different political climate up there, with both a national library strategy and – whisper it in awe – public library standards.

I’m therefore sorry to see that Edinburgh libraries are being slated for budget cuts.  I went up there earlier this year and was impressed by the quality of their libraries, their staff and their achievements in innovation.  Due to fewer budget reductions there, Scotland may be at the stage English libraries were at four or five years ago. One hopes that the nation will do better than their southern colleagues: the national government there is obviously far more keen on public services and, possibly due to the smaller size of the country, things seem far more close knit to me. In addition, Scotland has a national library strategy and public library standards.  We’ll see very soon if those count for anything when the knife is out.

The council dominating the English stories since the last post is Lambeth, with a strike and particularly raucous council meeting. It’s worth noting that one of the libraries – which is about to be turned into a gym, with some bookshelves – was visited by Ed Vaizey just last year as it was part of the Libraries Change Lives Awards. This was due to how accessible it had been made for blind and visually impaired customers. All that exercise equipment is likely to mess that up a bit. One comment in the article, not spoken by Mr Vaizey, but now blaring out with massive tragic irony is “I hope that Lambeth libraries become like a beacon for library authorities across the country.”.



National news

  • Are we saying goodbye to our libraries and leisure centres? – ITV. “Councils across the West Country say they are expecting the funding they get from central government to be slashed by up to 30% in next week’s Comprehensive Spending Review.”. Cornwall “asking town and parish councils or community groups to take over the running of its 31 libraries.”
  • Bridging the Gap – Leon’s Library Blog. “For many the main draw this year was the opportunity to listen to and question Paul Blantern and Kathy Settle of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce. This was never going to be an easy ride for them and while not necessarily agreeing with all their views they mostly retained grace under fire from very understandably frustrated campaigners, with only the occasional flare up” … “Both Paul and Kathy made no disguise of the fact that the Taskforce is both limited in scope and influence and that they are a task and finish group” … “This is all very laudable but for some campaigners does not go far enough. The difficulty is one of expectation, with the Taskforce being perceived as having more influence and authority than it actually does. The most misleading misnomer is the use of the term ‘Leadership’ when in fact, at best, it’s more of a facilitating body.” … “This leaves campaigners in somewhat of a conundrum. They can ignore the Taskforce and continue with outright opposition to government policy in the hope that a eventual change in administration will result in a better deal for libraries. Or they can accept the limitations of the Taskforce and that it will never be the leadership body they would like but work together where interests coincide.”

the Taskforce was never intended to be an independent voice for libraries but rather a vehicle by which ministers and the LGA could drive forward their own vision for libraries. The composition of the Taskforce reflects established interests with calls to include campaigners and unions falling on deaf ears, leaving the only potential dissenting voice on the group being CILIP. ” …

… “There are at least three more years of austerity and five years of the current government left. Campaigners, the Taskforce, and all interested bodies and organisation must try to work together, where circumstances and interests coincide, to ensure that even if library services don’t thrive they do at least survive.”

  • It’s #lovedigital time for Welsh libraries – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. “The week builds on the success of last year’s #lovelibraries theme, but is focused on all the digital services libraries offer – each day of the week will be highlighting something different and the benefits of using the service e.g. e-books, e-journals for students etc. The campaign will help to demonstrate the impact of libraries on digital inclusion in Wales, as well as raise awareness of the digital services available through Welsh libraries, and increase digital participation. The daily focus with themed hashtag is listed below – not every library is able to offer every service, but many of these are offered across Wales” see also Searchable database of #lovedigital online events

“I’m really excited about the #LoveDigital campaign which is taking place inside, and outside, libraries across Wales. Libraries provide access to culture, information and learning in many formats. Whether you’re a digital expert or have yet to experiment with the digital world, libraries have something for you, and staff who can help you.” Ken Skates AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism

  • Publishers answer minister’s call to offer schools cheap classics – Guardian. ““We’d like to see the government investing more in school libraries and librarians, as well as halting the closure of public libraries across the UK. It is this, we believe, that will help nurture the next generation of book lovers.””
  • Spending Review: IFS warns of deepest cuts in history – Telegraph. Institute for Fiscal Sturdies forecasts a 27% cut in spending in non-protected services, which includes public libraries. “The cuts between 2010 and 2020 will be the deepest ever seen and will reduce the overall size of state spending to its lowest level since the War, Paul Johnson, the director of the IFS, said.”

“If you put these cuts on top of what we saw in the last Parliament, there really isn’t anything to compare. We have never had anything like it. The size of the state overall will be roughly where it was at the end of the 1990s, which was a historic low for the post-War period.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bristol – Bristol libraries opening hours to be cut – BBC. “Originally seven libraries were threatened with closure, but following a number of protests elected mayor George Ferguson said he would look again at the proposals. People were asked to choose between two different ways of distributing the opening hours throughout the week and questioned whether they wanted the libraries to be open at the weekend. The council said there was an “overwhelming desire” for branch libraries to be open on Saturday, but added only the Central Library would be open on a Sunday.”
  • Carlisle – Carlisle Library and Prism Arts launch exciting new exhibition – Cumbria Crack. “The Seven Stories exhibition has been created by three local schools and four community groups, including stroke survivors, disabled adults, and people with mental health issues. The artwork is inspired by the library’s wonderful collection of books. From history and travel to ornithology, each group or school has looked to different genres of books for inspiration, creating an exciting library of artwork cascading from the ceiling.  ​To complement the exhibition, the schools, St Bede’s, Longtown and Pennine Way Primaries, have produced a series of short stories and poems.”.  Funded by Arts Council England.
  • Cornwall – Launceston Library and One Stop Shop could be combined with adult education to save the services – Cornish Guardian. “”In Launceston, Cornwall Council owns the freehold for the library but the adult education centre is rented at a cost of almost £30,000 per year. It’s used for the equivalent of three-and-a-half days per week, mostly in the evenings, so it would be possible to move the service into the library building without any negative consequences for either – safeguarding the future of both.”
  • Dudley – Dudley Council cuts: Volunteers to run libraries – Express and Star. “A not for profit organisation will be set up next year to save Dudley Council £200,000 a year, it has been revealed. It will involve members of the public taking over the management of the sites. Council chiefs have already announced that opening hours of libraries and the archives service will be slashed as the authority looks to save £20m over three years. The new Community Benefit Society model has been agreed in principle by the council’s cabinet.”
  • Dudley – Consultation launched over changes to Dudley libraries, archives and adult learning – Stourbridge News. “Under the new proposal, the services would be run together as a not-for-profit mutual which council chiefs say would be more sustainable, ensure lower running costs, access to new funding and income streams and offer chance to expand the services provided in line with community interest. ” … “The authority says the proposed Community Benefit Society model, which would be run by professional staff – with community, employee and council involvement at board level, would ensure all libraries, library links and Dudley’s archive service remain open, albeit with reduced staff time and increased customer self-service. “
  • Edinburgh – Services cut as Edinburgh seeks £70m saving – Edinburgh News. “The latest batch of proposals – which will save almost £70 million – also includes withdrawing the night noise team, stopping repair and maintenance of stair lighting in tenements and carrying out a review of libraries.”
  • Fife – Glenrothes councillors fail to agree with library campaigners – Fife Today. “There were heated exchanges at Wednesday’s Glenrothes area committee when it was asked to agree that the four closures – part of 16 proposed by Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) across the region as part of £800,000 of budget savings being demanded by Fife council – were disproportionate for the town.”
  • Herefordshire – Campaigners against Ross-on-Wye library closure collect 7,639 signatures – Hereford Times. “Members of the Ross Library Development Group went to Herefordshire Council offices in Plough Lane today to give the petition of 7,639 signatures to council leader, Tony Johnson. The signatures were collected in the streets of Ross and online following the announcement that the council were looking at the possibility of closing the library in Cantilupe Road, as well as Belmont and Leominster.” … “Cllr Johnson said there would be debate in full council. The petition needed 7,000 signatures to prompt a debate. He said: “We are trying to take 45 percent out of our budget. We can’t do that by turning the lights off early but we do appreciate how valuable the libraries are to people. We have also been looking at rural transport, which is the glue that holds a society like ours together.””
  • Hertfordshire – Community group remains hopeful over fight against move of Buntingford library – Mercury. “A community group fighting against the move of Buntingford’s library feels more positive about its future after a display of sympathy for their case.” … “David Woollcombe, a co-founder of the group, yesterday presented a petition that had received more than 1,300 signatures in favour of keeping the library, and calling for Hertfordshire County Council to cancel plans to relocate it to the fire station site.”
  • Kirklees – Kirklees libraries plan to go ahead after probe orders only minor changes – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “The results of the scrutiny probe were sent back to senior councillors on the cabinet. They suggested just minor changes to the opening hours at Birstall and Mirfield. The cabinet approved the revised plan, set to save £1.8m, despite more complaints from protesters and councillors. One campaigner urged the council to use its reserves to keep the status quo. But leader of the council, Clr David Sheard, said: “What would you do when we run out of reserves?”.”
  • Lambeth – £80,000 library appeal launched – How you can help write the next chapter in its history – News from Crystal Palace. “Upper Norwood Library Trust – which will take over the running of the Westow Hill building in April next year – have launched an appeal for funds. The library has funding of £60,000 each from Croydon and Lambeth councils over the next two financial years. “About £80,000 at a minimum would make our current business plan viable” say the trust”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth libraries workers stage unofficial walkout in protest at council cuts – Socialist Worker. “There is no library service in Lambeth today, Wednesday. Staff at all ten libraries across the south London borough have walked out unofficially in protest at the Labour-run council’s cuts plan. “We’ve had enough,” library worker and Unison union member Beatrice told Socialist Worker. “Cuts would go through before we would have time to ballot for industrial action, so we walked. “The council is not listening to us. People expect their taxes to fund services but they are cutting a vital resource.” see also Library staff in walk-out as shelves are stripped of books – Inside Croydon. “Council staff in Lambeth libraries walked out today in protest at plans to close five of that borough’s 10 public libraries, turning some of them into “bookish gyms”, and threatening the future of Upper Norwood Library, which has been run jointly by Croydon Council for more than a century.” see also Lambeth library workers walk out in protest over gym plans – London Evening Standard. and Workers strike over plans to turn libraries into gyms BookSeller.
  • Lambeth – Fury over Lambeth libraries vote – Brixton Blog. “Library campaigners launched a bitter attack on Lambeth Labour councillors yesterday as a full meeting of the council backed plans to turn some libraries into gyms in co-operation with its leisure services provider GLL. On the same day, library staff in Brixton joined a strike by workers across Lambeth to protest at cuts to services. They said they could not put off action as books were already being removed from shelves. The changes, which are part of a plan by Lambeth council to reduce spending on cultural services by £4 million in the next three years, will see an estimated 25% cut in the workforce.” … “There were angry interruptions too as Labour group leader Lib Peck addressed the protesters directly to explain the council’s position. She said the libraries most affected by the changes were those with fewer users and said that services in other larger and more-used libraries had been maintained.” … “Labour councillors applauded her speech as protesters continued to jeer and boo.”
  • Lambeth – Opinion: Lambeth Libraries: So much for having a co-operative council – News From Chrystal Palace. “When Lambeth council became a co-operative council it was likened to the hugely successful store chain John Lewis which is, effectively, owned by its own staff. Unfortunately, unlike John Lewis, the people running Lambeth council don’t know what they are doing. Their finances are, clearly, in an absolute mess.”
  • Lambeth – Waterloo Library staff stage walkout over closure plans – London SE1. Sign says “The Library will be closed today as staff have walked out to try and stop our libraries closing forever” … “”I understand the frustrations of those working at our libraries, but this unofficial industrial action is unhelpful and counter-productive,” said Cllr Jane Edbrooke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods.”
  • Lanarkshire (North and South) – Councillors stage protest at Scottish Parliament against planned cuts to both Lanarkshire councils  – Daily Record. “Councillors, trade union members and community activists will be taking part in the protest at the Scottish Parliament on November 26. They are worried about the implications budget cuts will have on education, leisure centres, libraries, social work and home care.”
  • Lancashire – Decimated: Savage £262m cuts will close half of Lancashire’s libraries – Lancashire Telegraph. “Council leader Jenny Mein has promised the smaller libraries in areas of greatest deprivation such as Central and North Burnley, Nelson and Brierfield, Hyndburn East, Bacup and Colne would be protected if possible along with six mobile units, Unison branch secretary Elaine Cotterell said: “Our cultural services are to be decimated with the proposed closure of 40 libraries and five museums. By 2018, 200 posts in libraries will be lost. “
  • Lancashire – Join battle to save libraries from the axe – Accrington Observer. “That has left our libraries in Accrington, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Great Harwood and Clayton-le-Moors all threatened with closure – with council bosses saying they would keep just one open in Hyndburn to meet its statutory obligations.”
  • Lancashire – Valley united behind our campaign to save facilities – Rossendale Free Press. “Community groups from across the Valley have come together and thrown their support behind the Free Press campaign to save our libraries.”
  • Lincolnshire – Council bosses reveal top pick to run Lincolnshire libraries – Lincolnshire Echo. “County council officers have revealed which company they would recommend take over Lincolnshire‘s library services. Officials believe Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) should be awarded the contract. On December 1, the council’s Executive will be asked to take a decision on the future of Lincolnshire’s library services.
  • Lincolnshire – ‘What a waste to go full circle on county libraries’ – Spalding Today. “In April this year, the council started looking for an outside group to run the service and GLL along with Vision and Vivacity were short-listed from six who applied. On Tuesday the council announced its executive will be asked to award the contract to GLL. County council Labour group leader John Hough told the Spalding Guardian: “Conversion on the road to Damascus one always welcomes, but it has been at a cost. We are talking hundreds of thousands of pounds.” Labour’s shadow spokesman on libraries, Coun Phil Dilks from Deeping St James, said GLL originally offered to run the whole service within the reduced budget and without cutting jobs or opening hours”
  • Nottinghamshire – Arnold Library ‘officially’ re-opened after £300K refurb – Nottingham Post. “Arnold Library has been ‘officially’ re-opened after a £300,000 refurbishment. Saturday’s ceremony came three months after the Front Street library’s facilities were active again following the revamp, which closed the service since January. The library now boasts £40,000 worth of new books, a gift shop, small cafe and a study section. The building has also benefited from new windows, solar panels and LED lighting throughout. Arnold is the latest library to be redeveloped by Nottinghamshire County Council, which is “modernising” its library service. In the last couple of years, Nottinghamshire County Council has been renovating libraries including Newark, Bingham and Stapleford.”
  • Powys – Library Service supporting #LoveDigital – Powys Council. “Powys County Council’s Library Service is supporting #LoveDigital Week, which will run from 21-28 November. The campaign brings together all the fantastic digital library services that are available from Welsh libraries. “
  • Sheffield – Library with ‘sense of place’ thrives – Star. “… all these services are being run not by paid council staff but by a band of 100-plus volunteers, determined to keep their library open after the council decided that it could no longer afford to run the city’s library network. “The library closed on the Saturday at the end of one shift, and opened again run by volunteers on the Monday so it never actually closed, despite what some people think,” explains volunteer co-ordinator Clare Attrill.” … “Between them the volunteers have a range of expertise, and all get stuck into whatever needs doing – working behind the counter, sorting the books, cleaning, running groups, even gardening. And inbetween these jobs, they’ve created a 2016 calendar featuring archive photos and pictures by local artists and schoolchildren.”
  • Shropshire – Ellesmere Library will move in to community centre – Shropshire Star. “At a special meeting of Ellesmere Town Council, members voted unanimously in favour of moving the library into the Meres Day Centre, where it would be run by another organisation. The council was responding to a consultation run by Shropshire Council, which asked people to choose between three options for the future of the library – either move to the nearby Meres Day Centre, stay in its current location in Victoria Street but reduce opening hours, or suggest a viable third option that will also save the council £8,830 per year.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Library fight goes to Court of Appeal – Barry Gem. “Residents of Rhoose have been told they can appeal after losing the first round of their legal fight against the Vale Council heard in the Court of Appeal.”