There’s a fair bit of coverage of the CILIP campaign, although notably it is only the libraries-friendly Guardian that has covered it. Please sign the petition and tell your friends if you can. In other news, Somerset have announced what appear to be significant cuts, although wrapped up in the language of co-locations.  We’ll see what transpires there.

Anyway, it’s Christmas week.  I wish you all a very good festive week and a few good days of frivolity away from the concerns of the sector.  Here’s to 2016.


National news

  • Ambition, Opportunity, Strong Leadership, Innovation, Imagination and Bravery in the Public Sector  – CILIPS. “As noted in the national strategy, “…while much of the UK debate focuses on the reduction in the number of libraries it is important to note that since 2009/10 there has been only a small decrease in the number of libraries in Scotland”. The leaders of public library services in Scotland are responsible for a great deal of what makes us, in Scotland, who we are, and who it’s our ambition to be. “
  • Campaign takes legal fight on libraries to government – BookSeller. “A new nationwide library campaign will hold the government to account over its legal responsibilities towards libraries following accusations of “neglect”, “short-term thinking” and “failure to carry out its legal duty to the public”. The campaign also calls on local authorities to put all changes to library services on hold or risk breaching the law.”
  • Digital Libraries Hub – Tinder Foundation. Forum for librarians to discuss digital issues.
  • Doing digital inclusion: librarian’s handbook – Tinder Foundation. How to engage learners and volunteers in libraries.
  • Guidance issued for councils on library service duty as anger grows over cuts  – Local Government Lawyer. “The guidance notes: “This text SHOULD NOT in any way be taken as formal legal advice or be used as the basis for formal council decisions. All local authorities should seek independent legal advice on any proposed changes they wish to make to their library service.” (emphasis in original) The DCMS guidance is intended to accompany the Libraries Shaping the Future Toolkit produced by the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals meanwhile this week launched a campaign aimed at championing the public’s right to libraries.
  • HM Government: act now to protect my statutory rights to a quality public library service – Change.org. “Public libraries in England are facing an unprecedented threat.  Recent statistics show that as many as 443 public libraries have closed since 2010 with many others around the country forced to offer reduced hours and limited services. We are seeing the impact of austerity and the lack of a joined-up policy for the care and improvement of our libraries. The loss of these vital services can be devastating for communities who depend on them for learning, social spaces, groups and activities and access to the Internet. Join us in calling on the Government to fulfil their statutory responsibilities to taxpayers. We ask the Government to work with us to develop clear guidance for Local Authorities and to take clear and decisive action in situations where services are being put at risk. Sign the petition and stand up for your rights. Please add your comments about why libraries matter and why you support the campaign. Thank you for your support www.cilip.org.uk/mylibrarybyright

“Two points in particular seem to be left out of the toolkit. Firstly there is no recognition of the role that public libraries make in underpinning formal and informal education at all levels, which seems to me to be a primary function of all libraries. Secondly, in discussing Community Libraries run without local authority control (3.6). There is no mention of the fact that the Library Authority still has a legal duty to provide a full and comprehensive library service to the residents of those communities.” Martyn Everett on LIS-PUB-LIBS

  • Librarians take legal battle against library closures to government  – Guardian. “Shaking off their traditional reputation as lovers of peace and quiet, librarians are preparing to take a loud battle for Britain’s libraries to the door of the culture secretary. ” … “Cilip, which has received legal advice from human rights barrister Eric Metcalfe of Monckton Chambers, say that while the government regularly claims that the provision of this “comprehensive and efficient” service is down to local authorities to determine, this is not the case, and it is the “legal duty” of the culture secretary, John Whittingdale, “to provide clear statutory guidance on the definition of a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service”.” … “A spokesperson for the DCMS said: “Libraries are cornerstones of their communities and continue to be a fundamental part of society. Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service and we have powers to ensure they comply with the law. Where individual authorities have failed to meet this duty we will – and have – intervened.””
  • Need some advice? Want to know what others are doing? Try our new Toolkit…. – Gov.UK/Leadership for Libraries Taskforce. “I’m very pleased that we have launched a ‘beta’ version of this new Toolkit today. The Toolkit has been developed based on the user needs identified during our earlier research and: emphasises how libraries are trusted spaces, free to enter and open to all; describes the role of libraries as places people can explore and share reading, information, knowledge and culture; shows how local authority priorities are supported and delivered by libraries; provides information on alternative governance models; introduces ideas on smarter ways of working. The Toolkit also includes many case studies, sharing good practice from across the country.”
  • PanlibusCapita. Latest edition of magazine includes look at North Ayrshire stock, Open+ and Manchester Central Library.
  • Public libraries aren’t businesses – London Review of Books. “the decision last week by Fife Council to close 16 of its 51 libraries brought me up short. Like everyone I knew, I had taken part in the consultation and signed the online petition. Everyone at my son’s village school, Crail Primary, wrote a letter or made a poster pleading the case for their local library. When Fife’s executive director of education banned the children at Crail Primary from participating in a photoshoot to protest against its closure, I had a row with the officer obliged to justify his boss’s decision. I kept my son off school and as the only child to turn out with the pensioners, councillors and the local MP, he graced the front pages of two local papers. “

“Public libraries aren’t businesses, as Andrew Carnegie knew in 1880 when he chose his birthplace, Dunfermline in Fife, to found the first of 2509 libraries across the world. Reviewing John Palfrey’s book Bibliotech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google on Alternet earlier this year, Amien Essif wrote: ‘Of all the institutions we have, both public and private, the public library is the greatest democratic space.’”

  • To lose our libraries would be a national disaster – we must act to save them – Guardian. Desmond Clarke: “Yes, cuts are strangling the service. But libraries also need a plan for radical reform and investment in technology” … “Public libraries have long been the Cinderella of local government, as elected members try to cope with the ever increasing demands of other statutory services. Libraries are often seen as a soft option for cuts. It is too easy to cut the books budget, reduce opening hours or threaten to close branch libraries unless they are taken over by volunteers. A few councils have even proposed retaining only their central library and either closing or transferring their other libraries to be run by willing volunteers. Others have looked to outsource their libraries to public service mutuals. It is not an exaggeration to say that our public library service is being strangled by local government even though they represent less than 2% of councils’ total spend.” … “we must join forces with Cilip to ensure that the library network is not destroyed in the search for financial cuts. That remains a real risk.”
  • UK library closures and the fights to save them – Guardian. “Hundreds of libraries have closed or been confronted with closure in the past five years as local councils across the UK deal with funding cuts. Here are some of the most notable threats to libraries – and the efforts that went into trying to save them.”.  Includes brief looks at Kensal Rise (Brent), Bowhill (Fife), High Heaton (Newcastle), Breck Road (Liverpool) and Sydenham (Lewisham).

International news

  • Canada – The Canadian Library Association wants to Disband – Good EReader. “The Canadian Library Association has been in business for the last 69 years, but membership has been declining steadily and they have ceased to be relevant as many libraries are going digital. The lack of a unified voice on the national level is prompting a historic vote that will occur in late January, to dissolve the Canadian Library Association.”. Plan is (apparently) to reform with a far more restricted membership. “The board members in charge of the Canadian Library Association are so out of touch with the modern needs of libraries. They have never issued a report or even contracted out statistical analysis on e-lending or tried to lobby the government for fairer e-book pricing for all of their members. There are zero modern programs or even the internal political will to implement meaningful change. If the CLA gets their way and convinces their members to vote on disbanding, Canadian libraries will be in a worse position than they are in now.”
  • USA – Librarians are excited about e-books that don’t expire – Good EReader. “Penguin and Random House will be introducing new e-book terms for libraries that begin on January 1st 2016. Libraries will no longer worry about their titles expiring after a few loans or have to purchase them again every year. Librarians are also full of glee that the overall price of buying digital content will also decrease in price.” … ““With their new pricing formula, Penguin Random House is recognizing that libraries are key players in the publishing industry, both as major purchasers of books and e-books, and promoters of literacy.” said Tim Tierney, Chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board. “We hope other multinational publishers will follow suit with flexible and affordable e-book pricing so library customers can discover new authors and genres to fuel a life-long love of reading.””
  • USA – Libraries today are as fast as and more generous than any online bookshop – Guardian. “It turns out that, during my five-year hiatus, the convenience argument has expired. The New York Public Library system has made it fantastically easy to order any book directly from your computer. There is a phone app, and an app for downloading ebooks. The half-empty shelves are irrelevant given that you can put a hold on any book in the entire New York system and it will be delivered to your branch within days.”
  • USA – Library as Publisher: Saint Paul, Minnesota Public Library Publishes Two Karen Language Children’s Books – Library Journal. “The library commissioned original texts from Saint Paul authors Win World and Saw Powder, as well as original color illustrations from children’s book illustrators Betsy LePlatt and Jingo de la Rosa, to create the books Elephant Huggy and The Hen and the Badger. With the support of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library as well as Sandra Schloff, the authors and illustrators teamed up with librarians, educators and Karen community members to produce the two books in both Karen and English.”
  • USA – Why James Billington’s Retirement is a Wake-Up Call for Librarians – Publisher’s Weekly. “Ultimately, I think it is because the U.S. library profession has failed to foster an effective national leadership culture. Even today, I would be hard pressed to identify a national public library leader who could speak and rally librarians on behalf of the broader community”

Local news by authority

“I am a passionate reader and I’m registered blind so can’t read print, but the librarians were wonderful tracing available audio books that I wanted. I could walk safely to the library and, as well as the love of reading, I also loved the sense of it being a community resource. We need our local community-serving library back.”

  • Cardiff – Letters: Insulted by ‘asset transfer’ proposals Wales Online. “Currently the council refuses to repair and reopen Roath Library. Instead it is advertising a “community asset transfer” to hand over the building to another group on the cheap. A corner of the building may remain a “library”, but with only a handful of books and barely any computers. Trained library staff could be replaced with a self-service machine and a librarian who only drops in for four hours a week. This is an insult. A deprived community has already been deprived of too many community services. “
  • East Renfrewshire – Union joins library cuts fight – Extra. “Unison East Renfrewshire says it will fight council plans to axe school library services. The local branch estimates a 50 per cent reduction in services, and brands it the “second most unpopular cut” in the public consultation on East Renfrewshire Council’s 2014 budget savings proposal.”
  • East Sussex – Pevensey Bay library ‘must be fit for purpose’ – Eastbourne Herald. “The Friends of Pevensey Bay Library are calling for a facility which is fit for the 21st century following a flood, which resulted in the closure of the library. Helen Burton, from the Friends of Pevensey Bay Library group, says residents were thanked by the council for their patience in the 
delayed reopening of the 
library several months ago.”
  • Lambeth – Unison send out ballot papers for strike action to Lambeth library staff – SLP. ““Even if libraries didn’t achieve all these outcomes. If it didn’t reap massive social benefits in terms of health, education and employment, I’d still be asking you to save our libraries. Because people enjoy reading and we shouldn’t have to justify every moment of our existence and pleasures in life by how much money someone can make or can save. We have the right to a bit of humanity – to find things out, to get lost in stories. “
  • Lancashire – IT plan for under threat libraries – Lancashire Telegraph. “The Burnley and Longridge branches will have the latest modern computers installed as part of the scheme, which runs from January to March 2016.  This is part of an upgrade to the People’s Network in Libraries which allows free public access to computers and the internet.  Both Burnley and Longridge are on a list of branches which could close as Lancashire County Council cuts its network from 75 to 34 to save £7million a year.  Feedback from users during the pilot will help to shape how similar improvements are made to the remaining Lancashire libraries.  A range of computers, laptops and tablets will be available for customers to use.  The Wi-Fi network will also be improved for people who prefer to use their own device.  The upgrade will mean that printing using the Wi-Fi network will be possible.  The online booking service, allowing people to reserve the use of a computer in advance, will be updated.”
  • Lancashire – Martin Hill: Tell us where council cuts should be made – Bourne Local. “Imagine if every council in England stopped filling in potholes, turned off every street light, and closed all parks, children’s centres, libraries, museums and leisure centres. Even that would still not save enough to plug the financial black hole we’re facing by 2020.”
  • Northumberland – Temporary relocation for library – News Post Leader. “Details have been announced for the temporary relocation of Morpeth library to a new site in the town centre. The move to Royal Sovereign House, Manchester Street, is planned to begin in the New Year with the move expected to be completed by May 2016.” … “the council has to explore new, more efficient ways of providing services, including the relocation and co-location of key services such as libraries.” … “Building surveys of the library have revealed that a 5-year programme of repairs and maintenance costing £500,000 would be required to bring the building up to required building standards.” see also Town centre library on the move – Morpeth Herald and Budget cuts see flooded Morpeth library close after 50 years as community’s hub – Chronicle Live.

“The library on Gas House Lane was left under five feet of water in the flood, with around of 30,000 items of stock such as books, CDs, DVDs, videos and virtually the entire children’s section destroyed. Damage caused was estimated at more than £500,000.”

  • Renfrewshire – Fury over Renfrewshire Leisure chief’s 14 per cent pay increase  – Daily Record. Pay increase despite reduced numbers but a doubling of responsibilities.
  • Somerset – Concerns over future of community building in Castle Cary after Caryford Hall bid rejected – Western Gazette. “According to the Caryford Community Hall’s Management Committee their bid to manage the Swainson Building, opposite the hall, has been turned down by Somerset County Council. At a recent town council meeting an apparent rival bid to turn the building into a library ‘hub’ was discussed, with several councillors voicing their concerns that the Swainson Building was the wrong location for such a facility.”
  • Somerset – Somerset County Council: Plans for libraries to house multiple public services – Western Gazette. “”The new hubs will provide modern, flexible spaces to meet local community needs. The first hub will open in Glastonbury in autumn 2016, with services including the library, children’s centre, Citizens Advice, registration services and Mendip District Council. “While not all areas will be suitable for hubs, the Council aims to work with local communities to develop approaches reflecting local need and demand, such as plans being developed with Martock Parish Council for Martock library.” Under the plans libraries would have reduced opening times to deliver “savings equivalent to the cost of running the county’s ten smallest libraries”. The opening hours of some libraries will remain the same or even be open for longer, particularly where they form part of hubs.”
  • Somerset – Somerset libraries to cut national newspapers for three months – Western Gazette. £4k cut. “National papers will not be available in the county’s libraries from the beginning of January 2016 until the end of March.”
  • Suffolk – Lowestoft Library Pages café to close – Suffolk Libraries. “Lowestoft Library Pages cafe will close on December 24. We have tried various initiatives to improve the fortunes of the café as it hasn’t been attracting enough customers to cover its costs. Given the increasing funding pressures that Suffolk Libraries is under, we are unable to justify continuing to subsidise it.”
  • Swindon – Our fate is in our own hands, says council leader – Swindon Advertiser. “We are starting the process to save about £1.4million – that’s 65 per cent – of the cost of the library service. We are also looking to find ways to remove the entire tax payer subsidy from Lydiard Park and House.” … “To keep all the current library buildings, some of which are open for barely 10 hours a week, we need to £1.4m of savings elsewhere. “
  • Walsall – Walsall Council cuts: Public have their say over future of libraries – Express and Star. “Residents have had their say over controversial council proposals to shut the doors at seven libraries in Walsall during a series of public consultation events.”