The annual CIPFA figures detailing changes in UK libraries has come out, a mere eight months after the end of the financial year they are supposed to record and with a huge price tag (£475 + VAT just for the set for one year) if you want to actually drill down into the figures. That’s shame enough  but then you see what the figures actually show – that the decline in library funding (16% since 2010) has, unsurprisingly enough, gone hand in hand with a 14% decline in visits over the same time, with the 106 libraries closing in that year certainly not exactly helping usage. That the head of CIPFA then goes on to say, widely quoted, that the only hope is that lots of unpaid people are replacing employed staff, does not fill me with a warm glow either.  Neither does the LocalGov reporting that the library figures bring “into question their long-term sustainability” of the sector.  Well, of course it does, Mr LocalGov.  That tends to happen to any service when you take all the money away.  However, I’m not seeing such drops in usage in other countries where funding hasn’t been cut.  So, the decline in usage is not because people are naturally not using libraries any more but, rather, that, completely unsurprisingly, money is important.  That the money isn’t there is nothing to do with the viability of libraries and everything to do with political decisions at national level.


CIPFA Figures

“These figures highlight the inevitable result of the Government’s lack of joined-up policy for maintaining and improving the nation’s public libraries. As we have proven time and time again, libraries deliver. They help people build their skills and confidence, bring communities together and deliver real-terms savings across a wide range of Council and health services. Libraries support schools and education, build local economies and get people online in a safe, supported environment. If usage is in decline, it is because people are being denied access to a quality library service, not because the demand isn’t there.” Nick Poole, CEO, CILIP

  • Libraries suffer fall in users as Tories slash funding – Guardian. “Figures reveal that number of libraries fell by 2.6% and that Manchester Central library is Britain’s most popular” … “Visits to Britain’s libraries have fallen by 14% since David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, a survey has found. Library funding has been cut by more than £180m over the same period – a drop of 16%.” … “Overall, £50m was cut from library budgets across Britain in 2014-15, but the figures show some regional variation across England. Funding rose in south-east England by 3% but dropped in London by 9%. The east Midlands saw the biggest proportionate drop in the number of libraries for any English region (6%) while north-east England saw no net change. No region reported an increase in the number of libraries.”

“Rob Whiteman, the chief executive of Cipfa, said: “Our annual library survey makes for grim reading. Cost-cutting measures continue to hit unprotected services hard and fewer people are using public libraries. “Yet there is some hope. Volunteer numbers have nearly doubled over the past five years. Tens of thousands of people are now giving their time to make sure these precious resource survive.”

  • Library visits fall 14% in five years – BookSeller. “While the CIPFA figures today show paid library staff in libraries fell by 3.8% in 2015, volunteer numbers rose by 18.7%, reflecting this. Since 2010, paid staff in libraries has decreased by 21.7%, while volunteer numbers have soared by 92.6% to 41,402.”
  • More than 100 libraries shut in 2014-15 – BBC. “The number of libraries in the UK fell by 2.6% in the last year, from 4,023 to 3,917, according to a new survey. The figures were released by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) following its annual survey of libraries in Great Britain. Wales saw the biggest loss in the last year, with a fall from 308 to 274. In England, the number of libraries fell from 3,142 to 3,076, while Scotland saw a drop from 573 to 567. The closures coincide with government funding cuts of £50m to UK library services in the past year, from £0.99bn in 2013-14 to £0.94bn in 2014-15.” … “The Cipfa figures also showed spending on books, newspapers, periodicals and magazines in the last 12 months fell by 10.6% from £72m in 2013-14 to £64m in 2014-15, but that online and electronic expenditure increased by 1.7% from £11.6m in 2013-14 to £12.2m in 2014-15.”
  • North East readers still love the library – despite national decline  – Chronicle.
  • Region’s libraries fare better than most – ITV. “No libraries in the North East have closed in the last 12 months, according to new figures from the Press Association. The region is the only one in the country where there have been no closures. “
  • Wales suffers loss of visits to its libraries  – ITV.
  • Wembley Library Third Biggest in the Country – James Powney’s Blog. “A Guardian analysis of public libraries has named Wembley Library as the third biggest in the UK.  That is an astounding achievement given that the old Town Hall Library wasn’t even the biggest in Brent when the Libraries Transformation Project was started back in 2011. The scale of the change can be seen in the graph I posted here.   At that time Brent Town Hall library had only 166k annual visits which rose to 200k in its final year.  The last annual total for Wembley Library, as published by CIPFA, show 1,169,735 visits, a colossal increase.  I wonder what those who called for Wembley Library to be scaled down, or even scrapped altogether, think of that?  Perhaps they will concede that whatever they think of other aspects of the project, Wembley Library has been a success.”

National news

  • Annual reports 2014-2015 – Welsh Government. “These reports assess the performance of libraries for the 1st year of the 5th Welsh Public Library Standards framework. Local authorities submit a return in early summer each year. This reports on library performance for the previous year. We use a panel of assessors from local government and other experts to consider the performances. We give written feedback reports containing final assessment and advice to local authorities in the autumn of each year. This annual report is based on the information provided by authorities.”
  • ‘Assurances’ for booksellers in wake of PRH e-lending trial – BookSeller. “The book trade must “work together” to navigate potential disadvantages of e-book lending, the chief executive of the Booksellers Association (BA) has said. Tim Godfray, the BA’s c.e.o, said he had received “assurances” from Penguin Random House that the impact of its e-lending trial would be reviewed in a year’s time following the publisher’s announcement yesterday (December 8th) that it would be making its full range of e-books available to libraries to loan to visitors. Godfray said “publishers, bookshops and libraries need to work together to ensure neither [bookshops or libraries] are being disadvantaged by e-book developments”.” … “Godfray, who has been lobbying for a fair e-lending system with “proper oversight and controls in place”, remarked in June that remote e-lending was a “major concern”. Pilots revealed 39% of e-book borrowers were “much less likely to visit a bookshop”; 37% were “much less likely to purchase printed books”; and 31% were “much less likely to purchase e-books”.”
  • Ferguson library’s ‘quiet hero’ Scott Bonner to address Brighton, as CILIP launches 2016 call for papers – CILIP. “CILIP has launched a call for papers ahead of the CILIP Conference 2016.  Ferguson Municipal Library Director Scott Bonner is the first confirmed keynote speaker for the event, taking place at the Brighton Dome on July 12-13. Entries are sought for conference papers as well as for nominations for individuals or groups who would fit in with the three core conference themes: Managing Information will explore the latest best practice and emerging ideas in Information Management; Everyday Innovation will focus on making a difference daily by delivering outstanding services with existing resource. Finally, Using Technology will look at the different ways technology is being used to enhance library and information services. Scott Bonner’s presentation ‘What We Did in Ferguson: A Warts-and-all Telling of Stories’ will share what he and other staff did at Ferguson Municipal Public Library in Missouri, when their community was in turmoil following the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by local police late last year.  Additional keynote speakers will be announced in early 2016.”
  • Impact of Ebooks on the Reading Motivation and Reading Skills of Children and Young People – Literacy Trust. “The research found that during the project, which lasted for an average of 4.2 months, boys’ reading levels increased by an average of 8.4 months, compared to 7.2 months progress made by girls. At the same time, the percentage of boys that felt reading was difficult almost halved from 28.0% to 15.9%, suggesting that confidence in their own reading ability also increased as a result of this project. Twice as many boys also thought reading was cool at the end of the project, increasing from 34.4% before to 66.5% afterwards.”

Local  news by authority

A model of St Just Library (seen behind) in Cornwall that is also part of a mini golf course http://www.jonathanallen.info/golfinfo.html

A model of St Just Library (seen behind) in Cornwall that is also part of a mini golf course http://www.jonathanallen.info/golfinfo.html

  • Falkirk – Officials concerned over proposed library cuts – Linlithgow Gazette. “Union officials are “gravely concerned” over proposals to cut library services after Falkirk Community Trust announced its business plan. As children and adults across the country were enjoying Book Week, Falkirk Community Trust announced there would be a reduction in staff numbers and shorter opening hours within the libraries, possibly in Bo’ness, and the mobile library scrapped.”
  • Fife – ‘This isn’t over’ — Fife library campaigners consider legal fight – Courier. “Val McDermid, branded Fife Council’s controversial move a “sad and shaming day” for the kingdom, protesters revealed they had contacted a lawyer to see if a legal challenge is possible. Bryce Sutherland, from the group Keep Fife’s Libraries Open, said: “This isn’t over. One way or another, we are going to reverse their shallow, callous, blinkered decision.””
  • Fife – Fife library closures: Author Val McDermid ‘saddened and angered’ by decision – Courier. “The Fife author, whose novels have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide, branded the decision “a sad and shaming day” for the region. “I’m deeply saddened and, yes, angered by Fife Council’s decision to close 16 libraries, mostly in communities that have very few alternative resources,” she told The Courier. “I grew up in a house where there was no money to spare for books and Kirkcaldy Public Library was my route to understanding the world. “I couldn’t be a writer if it wasn’t for the library – my home from home growing up – and I know from talking to other writers from Fife that I’m not alone in that experience.””
  • Fife – MPs take library closure fight to House of Commons – Fife Today. “Fife’s four SNP MPs have lodged a motion in the House of Commons calling on Fife Council to reconsider its decision to close 16 libraries. They describe that action as ‘‘devastating’’ and say the local authority has lost the vision of Fife born philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, who gifted libraries to the world.”

Early day motion 841: Proposed closure of libraries in Fife: “That this House deplores the decision of Fife Council to close 16 libraries across Fife; regrets that this decision will lead to job losses; believes that libraries provide an invaluable resource to people of all ages who rely on their local library for a wide range of different services; notes that libraries sit at the heart of communities, providing space and facilities often not available close by; considers the particular impact that this will have on those with mobility issues; and calls on Fife Council to reconsider its decision.” Parliament.

  • Fife – New concern for Scotland’s libraries as sixteen are axed by one local authority – Herald Scotland. “The closures agreed in Fife have raised fresh concerns that libraries may be a soft target for cuts as councils face up to half a billion pounds of cuts in the coming year. “
  • Herefordshire – Hereford Library Users Group positive about working with council to explore options for future service delivery of library in city – Hereford Times. “Herefordshire Council’s cabinet agreed last week that the Hereford Library Users Group (HLUG) – working with other relevant stakeholders – would be invited to confirm by the end of February 2016, whether it wanted to work with the council to look at future options for a library in Hereford. It would provide time, the cabinet was told, for discussions to take place to establish the ‘community appetite’ to pursue an alternative model of delivery – whether at the Broad Street site or an alternative.” … “Meanwhile, John Perkins, from the Save Our Libraries campaign, said although he welcomed news of the council’s consultation with HLUG, he would be more enthusiastic if the cabinet understood the word ‘consultation.’ “Using a holiday period when people are distracted is a sure way to produce a low response,” he said.”

“”Meanwhile, John Perkins, from the Save Our Libraries campaign, said although he welcomed news of the council’s consultation with HLUG, he would be more enthusiastic if the cabinet understood the word ‘consultation.’ “

  • Lambeth – Libraries ‘staff mutual’ not ruled out – Brixton Blog. “Lambeth council libraries management team are to be given a budget to develop their plan to run the borough’s ten libraries as a “staff mutual”. But council leader Lib Peck warned at a meeting of its cabinet yesterday (7 December) that any plans must be within the “financial envelope” of nil cost to the council. The mutual has been irged [sic – ed.] on the council by opponents of its plans to turn three libraries into gyms run by its leisure provider GLL.” … “Cllr Davie said the library management proposal was “not at a stage that is developed enough as yet to offer an alternative.” Library campaigners in the audience – who were not invited to speak – shouted: “Neither is GLL’s”.”
  • Lancashire – New charges for county libraries – Lancashire Evening Post. “From January 1, anyone aged 18 and over who has borrowed a book and returns it late will have to pay a fine of 15 pence per day. The maximum fine charged will be £6 for each book. ” … “Currently there are a number of exemptions to fines for the late return of books which include library members aged 65 and over, have long-term health conditions or have a disability. These people will not be exempt when these new arrangements are introduced. A charge of £1 will also be introduced for each child taking part in a library craft activity, up to a maximum charge of £2 per family.” … “These new charges are in addition to the interlibrary loan charge, which was introduced on 1 December, for anyone requesting an item not available at a Lancashire library. “

“Next to join in the relentless closure of public libraries is the West Midlands town of Walsall, where seven libraries face the chop, wile £300,000 is to be spent turning the remaining nine branches into creepy electronically monitored self-service book-borrowing points. Users would be given a smartcard and PIN to access unmanned libraries, where they would be watched over by CCTV and a book detection system to keep track of items leaving the building, under money-saving plans. CCTV doesn’t do a lot to keep library users safe.  In Barnet, where a similar system is being touted, it was revealed at a recent meeting that the cameras wouldn’t even be monitored live, only used for evidence if something did happen. Walsall’s toy library, which supports crèches, play groups and schools, will also close to save £45,000 a year.” Walsall – Library News – Private Eye.