So the day is here. The Spending Review will give us an idea of exactly how much more councils will have to cut from their budgets. At time of publishing this post, guesswork from various sources suggest that it will be around one quarter but we don’t really know yet.  Assuming this does not transpire to be far off the mark, these will represent the deepest peacetime cuts to councils in history, especially after taking into accounts the cuts that have already happened. This will affect some councils more than others but it will present real difficulties for many, with the temptation being to remove spending from things like libraries.

Let’s be clear that there’s no easy options here.  Those who claim that there are yet more “savings” to be made from efficiency are deluding themselves, if not others. This time, even in those authorities whose front line services have been protected before, it’s going to be very hard not to be noticeable. The test for the sector is how we respond to this. The test for CILIP and campaigners will be how they mobilise support for libraries. The test for senior managers will be to explore every avenue to minimise the impact and to remain human and sane while they go about the tough job, which none of them want, of cutting services. The test for other public library staff will be how to be professional, to keep morale and to soldier on. The test for the country will be how people respond to the cuts and, ultimately, how local public library services survive. So, testing times. Keep tuned to see how well the country passes.


  • Story walls – Projecting images showing stories on large surfaces outside the library.

National news

  • Book trade braced for Spending Review cuts – BookSeller. “The Publishers Association said it is “not expecting good news” from the Chancellor’s Spending Review tomorrow (25th November), while library campaigners have warned that further cuts to local councils could “all but destroy the public library service as we know it”. Library campaigners, booksellers, educational and academic publishers are bracing themselves for the Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, to be given in parliament tomorrow and coinciding with the first Spending Review since 2013, which sets out a five-year-view of the government’s spending plans. The announcements are expected to be particularly grave after Osborne tasked government departments with modeling savings of between 20% and 40%, with The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimating that Whitehall departments without spending protection will face cuts of 27% – the steepest budget reductions since the Second World War.”
  • Dani Garavelli: Why libraries are worth saving – Scotsman. “Libraries are like that; they have a way of embedding themselves in our psyches. They have evolved over time of course (even if they are freeze-framed in our own minds). Today, there can be almost as many computers as book cases and a reverential hush is no longer de rigueur. But whether they are housed in exquisite palaces of learning or unsightly prefabs; whether their users are discovering Dante or Dan Brown, these repositories of knowledge continue to bind communities and provide a portal to other worlds.” … “North of the Border, we are comparatively lucky. The Scottish Government sees libraries as one of the keys to greater social cohesion, improved literacy and closing the attainment gap. It funds the Scottish Libraries and Information Council (SLIC), commissioned the National Strategy for Public Libraries and set up a £500,000 public library improvement fund.”

“He had been homeless, then rehoused into the Gorbals and had spent the next year sitting at home drinking every day,” she says. “Then, all of a sudden, he thought: ‘I can’t spend my whole life doing this’. He found himself at the library – he didn’t know where else to go – and he was welcomed. Now he goes every day. He writes poetry and credits the library with saving him”

  • Expected Autumn Statement cuts to front-line libraries branded “false economy” by Chartered Institute – CILIP. “Speaking on Radio 5 Live Business this morning, Nick Poole CILIP Chief Executive warned that the long term economic future of the country was at risk in the name of short-term deficit reduction as frontline services, including libraries, continued to be cut. Asked how you make the argument for saving and investing in libraries in a time of austerity against other services such as social services Nick Poole said: “It’s not an either or. Libraries have moved on, libraries are delivering a whole range of services – some of those to do with education and books, some to do with health and a lot to do with digital literacy. We’ve launched a whole suite of digital training including Maker Spaces and 3D printers. “We are delivering real benefit for the economy. We have business and IP centres led by the British Library that delivered £37m worth of gross value added last year. We’ve delivered £27m of savings to the NHS through people going to the library for information about health instead of going to their GP. “So this is a false economy to just regard libraries as a cost, they are genuinely delivering for their communities.””
  • Landmark UK information workforce survey reveals ongoing gender pay gap – CILIP. “Among a number of headline findings, the survey revealed that: despite having a predominantly female workforce, at 78.1%, male workers typically earn more than women, and are nearly twice as likely to occupy senior management roles than their female counterparts; The workforce has lower ethnic diversity than the national UK Labour Force Survey statistic, with 96.7% of workers identifying as ‘white’, almost 10% above the national workforce average; The sector has is an ageing pool of workers, with the highest proportion (at 55·3%)in the 45-to-55 age band; The workforce is highly qualified, with over two thirds holding postgraduate qualifications and most having professional qualifications as well as membership of a relevant professional body. At the same time, average wages in the sector are around the same as the UK average as a whole.”
  • Lemon Knight: International Games Day at the British Library – Signal in transition. “With transport and telecommunications more effective than ever, there’s never been a better time to devise cultural offerings and events so that they are made, celebrated, and enjoyed as much at the geographical periphery as in the old familiar centres. The BL event was an amazing opportunity to play, create, and learn alongside brilliant gamers, librarians, technicians, and scientists from across the UK.”
  • The library is the community and the community is the library – Libraries Task Force. “In Stockton what is essential to the wellbeing, education and cohesion of our communities? I believe our libraries are. They are not just a nice thing to have – they really do contribute to a wide range of needs and in Stockton, they are integral to the provision of health services and advice; they support children’s centres; education; arts and culture, regeneration and community safety. In addition each and every Stockton Borough Council library is a safe place to be for members of our community, accepting and open to all.” … “In our library at Roseworth, for example, we have combined together a children’s centre, library and health information resource into an integrated facility with a really excellent family atmosphere.”

“I don’t want to forget that at the centre of our library offer is enjoyment – the sheer experience of reading for pleasure has its own particular role to play in supplementing health, learning and development. We share our enjoyment and our enthusiasm for writing and creativity with all ages, in the hope that this will maintain the reputation for ingenuity for which our community has become famous.” Councillor Norma Wilburn, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council

  • London cuts: Which council services should be stopped? – BBC. “What do you expect your council to do for you? Sweep your roads? Keep you parks clean and tidy? Run your libraries? Councils across London are warning they may no longer be able to do those things to the same level if 30% cuts are imposed on them in the Chancellor’s spending review later this week.”
  • Quiet, please… In praise of the British Library – Guardian. “From famous novelists to budding entrepreneurs, an extraordinarily diverse collection of people can be found at work in the British Library. But what are they up to? We asked some of them…”
  • Reading Agency Announces World Book Night Titles and Opens Volunteer Applications for 2016 – Reading Agency (press release). “The list for 2016 comprises of 15 books, including big-name authors such as Matt Haig, Jonathan Coe and Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, as well as exciting new names like Holly Bourne and the debut novel by now-bestselling crime author Sarah Hilary. The list has been curated to reach specific audiences with different attitudes or approaches to reading, including adults and young people dealing with mental health issues (Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig and Am I Normal Yet by Holly Bourne) The Quick Reads title A Baby at the Beach Café by Lucy Diamond will be distributed to its target audience of vulnerable pregnant women and young mothers.”

“Independent research company, Free Thought Research, found that in 2015 the receipt of a book on World Book Night translated into positive behavioural change around reading, particularly among those who never read or read infrequently before the event. 80% of those surveyed said they had read more since World Book Night and 85% said they’d talked to others about books more since receiving a book, while 47% of this group reported that they had bought more books since World Book Night, and 32% had borrowed more from the library.”

International news

  • Australia – Digital storytelling at the inside out library – Information Today. “At the State Library of South Australia librarians and large-scale projection artists are collaborating on a project to illuminate stories from their bequest collections on the exterior walls of the building. The project, known as the Story Wall, is the first permanent projection art installation curated by a library in Australia.  The librarians have embraced their new roles as digital storytellers, working with the artists to curate the exhibition.  The librarians not only undertook the initial research required in pulling together the stories from the collection, but recorded many of the narratives that can heard from the street.”
  • Australia – State Library’s new boss Kate Torney wants create a living room for Melbourne – Age. “While it is very early days and she is still finding her way, there are big plans to implement.  Torney will oversee the further digitising of the library collection, to make it available online and on mobile. And then there is a $83.1 million revamp for the library. It includes $10 million from the Ian Potter Foundation to refurbish the now-closed  Queen’s Hall, turning it into another reading room, and a reception space with a rooftop terrace. The redevelopment will also create spaces for early learning, digital media, entrepreneurs and exhibitions, and an e-town hall, connecting regional public libraries with the State Library. Traditionally, the “cathedral of books” notion has been a strong one for libraries, she explains. “Books will always be a really important part of who we are, but libraries are no longer just about books. It’s about discussion, debate, and sharing knowledge in a range of  different forms – digital media, digital literacy.”
  • USA – Flashmob singing Les Miserables at Reading Library, PA
  • USA – I’m Jessamyn West, a famous librarian. AMA!  – Reddit. ( “I’m an activist librarian and early library blogger. I work for Open Library at the Internet Archive. I used to manage the community at MetaFilter.com for almost a decade. I’m a second generation technologist, my dad ran the project that became the book Soul of a New Machine. I live in rural Vermont, teach an HTML class at the local tech school and do basic technology instruction. [AMA means Ask Me Anything – Ed.]
  • USA – Museums, Libraries and Comprehensive Initiatives: A First Look at Emerging Experience – IMLS. “As you will see, this report highlights the many ways museums and libraries are collaborating across multiple public sectors (including housing, economic development, public health, education and arts). It also provides examples of institutions that are using their resources and reservoirs of community trust to address the needs of economically distressed communities. “
  • USA – Nebraska libraries: how they’re doing, challenges and opportunities  – Net Nebraska. Funding is staying the same but usage is going up, with print book issues increasing along with e-books.
  • USA – What Will Libraries Be Like in 2100? – Slate. “There will be a library: one library, globally comprehensive and globally accessible. That vision means we think of libraries as collections, which is one thing they are.” … “Once an encyclopedia or a book or a journal or a database is in digital form, there is no good reason why it should not be made as universally and freely available as possible, and no good reason why it should not be centrally held and maintained.” [NB. there are 9,000 public libraries in the USA: the author includes all libraries – school, government, etc – to get to the figure of 119,000 – Ed.]

“we do need libraries. In a world of superabundant information, they curate and collect and discriminate and care for the good stuff—the stuff really smart people have worked to create and preserve, the stuff you can rely on when you want to understand the world deeply and accurately, the stuff too complicated to come into existence by crowdsourcing, too unpopular to be foisted on us by corporations or politicians. Librarians—smart, professional, dispassionate about everything but the truth—are the Jedi knights of our culture’s future and deserve to be respected for that.”


  • Edge 2016 – Edinburgh, 3rd or 4th March 2016. Speakers will include: Alan Gardner – Channel 4’s Autistic Gardner. Alan says….”Autism isn’t a condition, it’s a different way of seeing the world”. Alan will be joined by The Autistic Society. We will look at what UK libraries are doing in this area, and how we can all see the world differently; Jan Holmquist – Librarian and the believer in the power of libraries… By being inspired globally we learn different answers to the challenges we all face as libraries – and we can translate our inspiration into acting locally in our communities – to make our communities smarter;  Louise MacDonald CEO Young Scot. Louise is passionate about social justice, feminism, empowering people and communities, Louise is committed to doing all she can to support all young people – both in her own roles, and also in inspiring other to create places and spaces for young people to thrive, giving them the tools and the opportunity to be agents of change; Erik BoekesteijnDue to rapid technological developments, many libraries are realising that they have to enter into a new phase in their existence. In the current climate, when libraries are being faced with cuts and an uncertain future, sound advice is essential. Libraries are going to have to innovate themselves out of the crisis, and it’s clear that there is a growing need for advice and tools to allow them to embrace innovation and implement it within the organisation.

Local news by authority

  • Devon – LARCs are ascending – Tiverton Gazette. Library and Resource Centre Supporters (LARCs) have secured Neil Parrish MP as their patron. Volunteers are looking to raise funds for the library.
  • East Sussex – ‘Transparent’ artwork unveiled at Newhaven Library – Sussex Express. “The final creative touch has been added to Newhaven’s newly refurbished library with the installation of specially commissioned artwork. Artist Zaneta Belasicova worked with the community to create the piece for the rear window of the High Street library after being chosen by a panel of volunteers, including library users.” … “The Newhaven artwork was part of the Transparent art project, funded by the Arts Council England and East Sussex County Council.”
  • Edinburgh – Craigmillar named among first Reading Communities – Edinburgh Reporter. “Set up by the Scottish Book Trust, special “reading champions” will lead the country’s four Reading Communities and will be tasked with delivering innovative projects with local communities to encourage interest in books from all ages. Claire Askew, a poet, writer and creative writing teacher, has been appointed as Craigmillar’s champion and will take up her post in March next year. Claire said: “I am so pleased to have been selected and I’m especially pleased that I’ll get to work alongside the brilliant team at Craigmillar Library – I can’t wait to get started!”
  • Greenwich – Balham Library is borough’s cultural favourite – GLL (press release). “Balham Library has won Best Local Culture in the Balham neighbourhood in Time Out’s 2015 LoveLondonAwards. The town centre Balham Library is a perennial favourite, drawing in large numbers of visitors throughout the week with a 5% increase in visitors over last year. Residents can choose from story times and baby rhyme times for the kids, homework clubs, beginners’ and advanced English conversation groups, a monthly creative writing workshop, a Golden Years Reading Group and a monthly Urdu reading group.  “
  • Hertfordshire – Hertfordshire’s first village run library opens in local Pub – Red Lion Weston (press release). Friday 27th November 2015, Hertfordshire’s first volunteer run village library officially opens today in the Red Lion Pub in Weston. Local Weston resident Sarah Bacon gathered support for a new village library after sensing the huge loss that the community would experience following the county-wide closure of the Hertfordshire mobile library service. Commenting on why she wanted to start this service Sarah Bacon said “Quite simply, this was a great opportunity to improve access to books for the whole community”. Villagers have donated a whopping 2000 books to stock the new library and this will be topped up with a generous donation by Hertfordshire County Council from the disbanded mobile libraries. Steve Birch, owner of the Red Lion, provided a separate room for the new library and set about refurbishing it with generous financial support from County Councillor Tony Hunter, District Councillor Steve Jarvis and the local Parish Council.”.  Official opening will be 27th December. “Weston Village Library is completely separate from the Council. It is a new resource for the village set up independently by volunteers and ran by volunteers. “

“The library can be accessed during the pub’s opening hours, significantly increasing access for the wider community. Villagers can now read a book in front of the open fire with a bite to eat, a coffee or a pint”

  • Lancashire – Headteacher’s alternative plan to deal with government cuts – Lancashire Evening Post. “A retired Lancashire headmaster, horrified that some 40 libraries and at least five museums could be closed due to lack of funds, is calling on the county council to sell off some of its most precious, but unseen archives” … “He said the suggestion as prompted by a recent lecture in Lancaster City Museum on 74 treasures from the archives: “One we were told was worth $6,000,000 (£4m)in the American market. “Rather than close our libraries and museums, why does Lancashire County Council not sell assets such as this and others, especially ones nobody ever sees or knows about?” see also Lancaster and Morecambe children’s centres, libraries & day care centres hit list – Lancaster Guardian.
  • Lancashire – Sign our petition to save Hyndburn’s libraries – Accrington Observer. “Your library needs you! That is the battle cry from the Accrington Observer this week as we launch our campaign to save our libraries from the axe. Libraries across Hyndburn and Rossendale could be shut down as part of severe cuts being proposed by council chiefs.” … “LCC says one library in each of its 12 district council areas would meet its statutory obligations. We say that libraries play a vital role in our communities, from giving people young and old access to books, acting as a community hub and providing community spaces for local groups.”
  • Lewisham – Five years into austerity, Britain prepares for more cuts  – Money Market UK. “After laying off nearly half its staff over the last five years, scaling back street cleaning and relying on volunteers to work at some of its libraries, the London borough of Lewisham is getting ready for what could be much more painful spending cuts.”
  • Lincolnshire – “Utter disregard for the people of Lincolnshire’s concerns…” – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Response by Lincolnshire political figures to the news (November 2015) that county council officers have recommended the Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) should be awarded the contract to take over Lincolnshire’s Library Service. ” … “So good luck to the selected provider, you have some brilliant professional library staff remaining and some plucky and community focussed volunteers (God bless them) to lead out of the darkness and I sincerely hope you can do it, but the fact you have to do it, is the disgrace
  • Newcastle – Save the library, lose the pool: Newcastle finds self-help has its limits as cuts bite – Guardian. “Since March 2013, the Blakelaw neighbourhood centre has been run as a not-for-profit local partnership, raising money and rising to the challenges presented by austerity. When the library that extends off the foyer was threatened with closure, the partnership took over its funding. About six months after Newcastle city council cut all money for youth services, the partnership appointed a full-time youth worker. For all Stockdale’s collectivist passions, if you believe wonders can result from the enforced retreat of the state, what happens here might hint at a positive case study – but scratch the surface and it is a lot more complicated.”
  • Northamptonshire – Thieves attempt ‘unsuccessful’ burglary at Northampton Central Library Northampton Chronicle. “A police spokesman said thieves “unsuccessfully attempted” to steal items from inside the library between 3.45am and 4.30am on Friday, November 20. “
  • Reading -Budget consultation ideas: Reopening the 3Bs and bridge tolls – Get Reading. “While petitions are being put together to keep Reading’s branch libraries open , the respondents to the consultation suggested limiting the hours, selling the branch libraries to commercial operators, getting community groups to run them and protecting them for the most vulnerable. Increasing charges and fines, selling birthday cards and small gifts and opening small coffee shops in libraries were suggested income generators.”
  • Suffolk – Celebrate Newmarket and support the library with 2016 calendar – Cambridge News. “The 2016 calendar has been organised by the Friends of Newmarket Library and shows images of some of the town’s most iconic areas. Rachel Wood, chair of the Friends of Newmarket Library, said: “Our Newmarket Calendar is designed to promote the many different aspects of our fantastic town, as well as raising funds for our library.”
  • Wirral – Advertising in One Stop Shops and libraries – Wirral Council. “From less than £2 a day, you can advertise your business to thousands of visitors to Wirral’s One Stop shops and libraries. You have a choice of 4 areas across Wirral. Wirral West, Wirral South, Birkenhead and Wallasey. Each area contains up to 7 screens situated within Wirral Council Libraries and One Stop Shops. You can advertise for 3, 6 or 12 months in one area or a mix of up to 4 areas. Promote your company name, logo and website, highlight a particular service or product or the location of your premises.”