It’s that dead time between between Christmas and New Year but it gives me a chance to catch up on a round up of the last week.  Stand out news for me are in the counties.  The ridiculous news that Lancashire is paying £6 million to consultants in order to be told by them how to save money (answer: do it yourself and don’t pay consultants) is the one I’ll remember. That money could pay for 200 people on more than average national wage for a year by the way.  Or, at the moment, goodness knows, for a lot of much-needed flood defences. More to the point, it’s more than the £4.1 million proposed cut to the library service. Good to know the consultants are doing well out of austerity anyway I guess. Not doing so well is Buckinghamshire who have been taken aback but how much money the government is taking back, or rather the speed which the Government is not going to give them money in the first place.  This is the county most synonymous with volunteer libraries and have been resolutely cutting library budgets year on year since I started tracking them in 2010. It’s not hard to worry about their surviving libraries when push comes to shove over the next couple of years.



National news

  • Age UK says pensioners could suffer from digital shift – UK Authority. “The report cites research from communications regulator Ofcom showing that 61% of people aged 75 and over have never used the internet. The figure rises to almost 80% for people in the lower socio-economic groups.”
  • More than £347,000 owed in library fines across Wales, Welsh Conservatives reveal – Wales Online. “More than £347,000 is owed to councils across Wales in library fines, new figures reveal. Amounts per council vary widely, from £67,679 outstanding in Rhondda Cynon Taf to just £1,000 in Neath Port Talbot” … “Conservative local government shadow minister Janet Finch-Saunders said: “Following another tight local authority settlement, recent council tax hikes across Labour-run Wales and the axe hanging over many local services, communities will rightly question the vast scale of fines owed.”
  • National Libraries Day 2016 Grant Application Scheme finalists announced – Bibliotheca. “The ideas submitted by the finalists have been posted on Facebook. The three ideas that receive the most likes before 12pm on Monday 4 January 2016 will each receive a £1000 grant to help fund their NLD 2016 plans.”
  • The next big fraud risk? The plot to get you to bank in libraries and post offices by closing thousands of branches – Mail. Money Mail has discovered banks are striking deals with local communities to help them provide banking services. In one case, they provided a computer for a library so residents could do online banking. In others, banks posted staff in local libraries to help customers log on.” … “In the example we’ve seen, RBS/NatWest pledged money to a library in Berkeley, Glos, for computer equipment for residents to use internet banking. The banking giant closed the last branch in the town on August 25. But the bank’s terms and conditions state that customers should try never to use public computers for banking.”
  • Shape of things to come – Leon’s Library Blog. “However, the one glimmer of hope recently is that Cilip, at long last, has decided to take the government to task and insist they fulfil their legal duties under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, as well as provide statutory guidance for local authorities.” … “The Government aims to totally remove the central grant, which has always been the mainstay of local government funding, by 2020. Instead the shortfall will have to be made up by new funding streams such as business rates. Unfortunately, this will not plug the very real financial gap. “
  • Union hits out at cuts to ‘soft target’ library services – Courier. “Unison has also urged the Scottish Government to step in and save the posts after claiming that local authorities see cuts to library services as a “soft target”. The union has spoken out in the midst of significant cuts to library services through Fife and other parts of Scotland.”
  • Why are Barclays in our libraries? – Infoism. “The choice should be whether we seek to deliver a service that ensures people connect online and use the internet freely without surrendering their personal data or whether we just ask as a conduit for the profit motive of private enterprise (or “neutrality” as it now appears to be dubbed). “
  • You don’t have to close public libraries to kill the principle upon which they were built – London School of Economics. “Ian Anstice examines how local library services across the UK have been affected by cuts. Although less than 10 per cent have been axed since 2010, the services and provision offered have been drastically reduced and reshaped in a number of ways. As with other public institutions, such cuts, tacitly supported by the Coalition and Conservative Governments, have undermined the very principle upon which local libraries were built: that of being a public good.” [This article, by myself, was first published by PERC – Ed.]
International news
  • Canada – A Scavenger Hunt Through All of Toronto’s Public Libraries  – Citylab. “A new guidebook sets bibliophiles off on a scavenger hunt to discover each of the outposts. Read a mystery in the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection—fashioned after Sherlock Holmes’s study—at the Toronto Reference Library on Yonge Street. Ogle the stone totem poles flanking the entrance to the Runnymede branch on Bloor Street, reminiscent of the style of artists who aimed to carve out a uniquely Canadian aesthetic. Or sneak past the winged lions and sharp-beaked owls standing guard outside to pick up a dystopian tome at the Lillian H. Smith branch.”
  • Global – Just How Gross Are Library Books, Exactly? – Mental Floss. ““I have never heard of anyone catching anything from a library book,” infectious disease specialist Michael Z. David told the Wall Street Journal. David says that viruses and bacteria can indeed live on the pages of library books, but that the risk of actual infection is very, very low. Make no mistake, though: Those books are ripe with some pretty unpleasant substances. A 2013 test of popular books at Belgium’s Antwerp Public Library turned up traces of cocaine and herpes.”
  • Iceland – Jólabókaflóð – Now I Know. “Jólabókaflóð translates to the “Christmas Book Flood.” It describes how crazy the Icelandic book publishing world gets around the holiday season. Every year, each household in Iceland receives a catalog, free, called Bokatidindi, which lists all the new books coming out over the coming weeks. And it lists a lot of books — 500 to 1,000 new books are published in Iceland every year during this period.”
  • India – Free Basics protects net neutrality – Times of India. Mark Zuckerberg: “In every society, there are certain basic services that are so important for people’s wellbeing that we expect everyone to be able to access them freely. We have collections of free basic books. They’re called libraries. They don’t contain every book, but they still provide a world of good.”
  • USA – After library card triumph, an ‘overwhelming’ response  – Cincinnati.com. “Back in 1947 in Raleigh, North Carolina, Pearl Thompson was denied a library card because she is black. She moved, and she moved on, but in July, after 73 years, she took a trip back to Raleigh from Cincinnati, where, finally, she got her card.”
  • USA – Being a Library Detective – Public Libraries Online. “In general, your carpet shows wear patterns even if you don’t live in an area with a lot of snow. It shows where patrons stop and how they travel within your building.” … “Most librarians love cleanliness, tidiness, and order. Look at what the absence of these things can tell you.”
  • USA – CPS reinstates DuSable librarian using ‘anonymous gift’ – Chicago Sun-Times. “Her students were outraged and organized protests Friday morning in and around the library. They parked themselves at library tables and on hallway floors and read books for several hours, refusing to go back to class until CPS relented. They kept up pressure on social media using #SaveOurLibrary. Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) interceded and met with student protest leaders Monday afternoon. Sayigh said since that announcement she’s had a hard time getting any work done because students keep coming into the library to hug her and make sure it’s true.”
“she’s had a hard time getting any work done because students keep coming into the library to hug her and make sure it’s true.”

Local news by authority

  • Argyll and Bute – Gliori in protest over school librarian cuts – BookSeller. “Children’s author and illustrator Debi Gliori has joined a protest calling for Argyll and Bute school librarians to be saved.  Argyll and Bute council is considering axing librarians in schools as part of a £9m budget savings plan, local press has reported.  Gliori, alongside Argyll and Bute MSP Mike Russell, has signed a petition asking the council to reconsider.”
  • Bradford – Burley Council asks for views on possible library takeover – Ilkley Gazette. Council considering cutting budget by £200k from April 2017 so looking for more volunteer libraries or parish councils paying. “Burley Parish Council says comparable communities have around 12 to15 people running similar services and even with reduced opening hours, the staff cost alone is unlikely to be less than £10,000 per year, or an extra £3 approximately for every household in the village “
  • Buckinghamshire – Please help us: Bucks County Council turns to MPs after funding massively cut by government – Bucks Herald. “Mr Tett has warned the shortfall could have massive implications for the services the council – which is responsible for roads, social services, education, rubbish disposal and libraries – is able to deliver. He said: “It is far, far worse than our worse case modelling.”
  • Cornwall – Truro library under threat of closure – West Briton. “Representatives from Truro City Council met this week to consider taking over the running of the library in Union Place. Cornwall Council has said it cannot afford to run libraries due to funding cuts from the Government. and has asked town and parish council to take them on. Truro City Council has already agreed to take over public toilets and, jointly with other councils, CCTV systems”
  • East Lothian – East Lothian’s mobile libraries axed ‘for the time being’ – East Lothian Courier. “A version of the service, which saw a vehicle tour villages throughout the county over a two-week cycle, could return but it is unlikely to be until the new financial year. Councillor Stuart Currie, leader of the council’s SNP opposition, described the service as “much more than a library for much of our rural county”. He said: “It is a lifeline service that effectively brings the council to the people of East Lothian.” … ““There are currently around 400 regular borrowers using the mobile service but approximately 70 per cent of these are also choosing to use local branches. “
  • Fife – Campaigners vow fight to stop Fife libraries from closing will continue – Courier. “Eleven members of Fife Council’s executive committee recently voted to approve Fife Cultural Trust’s plans to close 16 libraries across the kingdom – six of them in North East Fife. However, community groups have joined forces to object to the closures and will consider taking legal action against Fife Council if necessary.”
  • Fife – Task Force support after library closure is latest blow to Glenwood – Fife Today. “The issue of how to regenerate one of the most deprived areas of Glenrothes is once again the main topic of conversation for the local authority and the public alike. It follows Fife Council’s decision earlier this month to press on with the closure of 16 libraries – four of which: Glenwood, Thornton, Pitteuchar and Markinch, are in this town.”
  • Greenwich – Council makes commitment to keep library service – South London Today. “A Greenwich spokeswoman said: “At a time when other local councils are reducing funding for libraries, Royal Greenwich is bucking the national trend. “Since 2010 we’ve opened two new libraries in Greenwich and Woolwich and all our libraries have benefited from new technology and IT. We’ve fully refurbished the library in Thamesmere and extended the opening hours. “Visits to Greenwich Libraries are increasing at a time when other councils are seeing a decline. “It is also proof of our continued commitment to both our town centre and local libraries and we will continue to prioritise and invest in a service that we know is important to our residents.””
  • Halton – Alice in Wonderland comes to life in Halton’s libraries – Runcorn and Widnes World. “Teenage volunteers organised the fun-filled activities with crafts and games at Widnes and Halton Lea libraries”.
  • Lambeth – Absolutely Fabulous actress Joanna Lumley joins fight against Lambeth library closures – SW Londoner. “The Absolutely Fabulous actress lives near Tate South Lambeth library, one of the libraries the council is planning to partly transform into a gym. “I joined the campaign partly because one of the greatest joys in my life is reading,” she told SW Londoner. The proposals have come under fire because, according to campaigners, they replace libraries with a shelf of books. Library campaigners are particularly angry at the planned absence of permanent librarian staff.”

“I will defend tooth and nail libraries, the education of the mind and the possibility to dream – I will defend that to the hilt.” Joanne Lumley

  • Lambeth – Burning calories, burning books – Brixton Blog. “Burning calories is all very well, but burning books has horrendous historical precedents. This sums up why Lambeth council plans to merge some South London libraries with gym spaces will not work. A few books shoved into an unaccommodating corner? No library-staff? Fifteen sweaty people riding on gym bikes next to me as I try to write articles like this? No thanks.”
  • Lambeth – Library staff balloted over possible strikes – South London Press. Ballot papers for strike action have been sent to all the library staff in Lambeth by UNISON in response to the council’s proposals on Lambeth libraries. Library workers’ and UNISON representative Ruth Cashman said: “The council’s proposals are extraordinarily bad. They are being legally challenged on the basis of consultation, equalities considerations and whether they deliver the minimum statutory library service.”
  • Lancashire – “Ridiculous” Lancashire County Council to spend £6.6m on money saving experts – Lancashire Telegraph. “Around 360 jobs are being axed as part of plans which will see County Hall having to save £262million by 2020, with the number of libraries cut from 74 to 34 and question marks remaining over bus services, children’s centres, youth zones and parenting centres. Cllr Driver said that a payment of 16 or 17 per cent to the consultants, for the overall savings of £36million, would be considered ‘excessive’, with anything above 10 per cent usually ‘raising eyebrows’”
  • Leicestershire – Author backs drive to save Barwell Library  – Hinckley Times. “An author has thrown his weight behind a campaign to save a village library from closure. Barwell Library, in the George Ward Centre, is under threat of closure by cash-strapped Leicestershire County Council. The council are currently consulting with residents on plans to shut the library and replace it with a mobile library service. But author Stewart Bint said the plans will “tear the heart out” of the village.”
  • Leicestershire – Library use is on the slide in the East Midlands – Hinckley Times. “The East Midlands has seen the largest drop in the number of libraries since 2010 according to a new survey. The news comes as Leicestershire County Council progresses with its transfer of rural outlets to community groups.”
  • Lewisham – Extension of the community library model – Lewisham Council. “This page presents documents related to the extension of the community library model to the Forest Hill, Manor House, and Torridon Road library buildings. The documents below are made available for information only ahead of the formal selection exercise that will identify partner organisations who will take on the management of these library buildings.”
  • Lincolnshire – New chapter for village library – Sleaford Standard. “County councillor for Heckington Barry Young officially cut the ribbon on Wednesday. He was delighted to see it open after helping behind the scenes. The library will initially open 12-5pm on Wednesdays and 10am-12noon on Saturdays, replacing the mobile library which visited for half a day a week. Eventually it will stock around 3,000 books on shelving salvaged from Coningsby library, which has closed.”
  • Lincolnshire – No guarantees but library set to avoid cuts – Horncastle News. “Horncastle Library has seen a reduction in opening hours but has avoided major cuts and even closures which have affected some other town’s and villages.”
  • Peterborough – A new way of delivering library services in Peterborough – Gov.uk. “Peterborough City Council has approved and implemented a new way of delivering library services in Peterborough. It sees all ten libraries stay open and for longer using self-service technology called Open+, produced by Bibliotheca UK.” … “There was a one-off cost of £170,000 to introduce the technology to all ten libraries, with an ongoing cost of £10,000 per annum. The library service cost £1.52million to deliver before the new model was introduced, the new model has saved the council £305,000 a year and safeguard Peterborough’s libraries for the future.”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – RCT library visitors down 26% since 13 libraries were axed in May 2014 – Wales Online. “The number of people visiting libraries in Rhondda Cynon Taff has fallen by 26% after 13 libraries were closed last year. Figures revealed by the Plaid Cymru under the Freedom of Information Act show that overall visitor numbers fell from 1,205,955 in 2013-14 to 894,896 – a drop of 311,059 – in the year after RCT council ordered a package of closures.”
  • Somerset – New chapter for libraries, but what do you think? – Frome Standard. “The county council said the proposals show its commitment to doing everything it can to keep all of the county’s 34 libraries, including Frome’s, open while savings at a time when the authority’s finances are under considerable pressure. The plans could see libraries forming part of “hubs” in key towns across the county, which will bring several public services together under one roof.” … “Work is currently under way to gather feedback from residents about the proposed hubs and changes to the library service”
  • Swindon – Community radio station moves into Liden Library after striking deal with Swindon Borough Council – Swindon Advertiser. “The community radio station will take over part of the building in Barrington Close after spending several months looking for a new home. Swindon Borough Council invited leasing bids for the vacant premises last month and Swindon 105.5 was chosen as the preferred bidder after indicating they would like to work with the library service to increase library provision. This is still to be the subject of talks.”