A piece in the Telegraph on the drastic reductions in library book stock since 2010 is made fascinating by the DCMS trying its best to make the figures look like a good thing. Apparently, it’s all about “removing costly unused stock” (which I assume they mean to be reference books but those are not included in the figures mentioned: do your research, DCMS) and concentrating on the rise of e-books. The fallacy of that last is shown by the percentage quoted. A quick tip here, by the way, is that unless a total actual base number of issues is given, a percentage in the hundreds is meaningless.  If anything, it shows how small the actual figure is if it can be increased by 420 per cent.

Ed Vaizey – much loved (or at least mentioned), as you know, by myself and many of the readers of these posts – has now celebrated more time as arts minister than anyone else in history. It is unlikely that many librarians would see this as a good thing, although he at least does use a library occasionally even if he has not shown himself not overly willing to effectively superintend them.  His statement on the arts quotes that a minister should give “money, policy and silence”.  Since 2010, libraries have been given drastically reduced amounts of money, no policy and have been in the limelight like never before, with shouts of protest drowning any imagined silence.  Unless of course he means the silence of closed libraries. In that, at least, his tenure has been successful.



National news

  • 14 million fewer books available in libraries than when David Cameron took office – Telegraph. “Fourteen million fewer books are available in British public libraries today than when David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010, official statistics have revealed. Funding cuts and library closures mean that around one in every seven books available on library shelves six years ago have now gone.”

“These figures are an indictment of this Government’s record on our libraries, which are treasured assets at the heart of our communities. They prove that the role of libraries in promoting books and reading is being undermined.” Valerie Vaz MP, Labour.

“Libraries in England are constantly modernising to provide the best service possible for the communities they serve. “This includes removing costly unused stock and meeting the demands for e-book loans which have increased by 420 per cent since 2011.”” DCMS spokesman

“Harold Wilson appointed Britain’s first arts minister in 1964. Jennie Lee went on to serve for almost six years, during which time she established the arm’s length principle for arts funding and the Open University, and published a white paper on the arts.  I’m thrilled to have matched Jennie Lee’s record term in office, not least because this was the job I always wanted if I was lucky enough to serve in government. Her approach gave rise to the dictum that the arts needed “money, policy and silence”.” Ed Vaizey MP

  • A book for everything that ails us … why bibliotherapy could be just the medicine we’re looking for – Knowledge Exchange. “As public libraries come under increased pressure from councils trying to make budget savings, it’s worth remembering during the economic arguments that free access to books does not just help improve literacy. Research for the Arts Council last year found that libraries make a positive contribution to people’s health and wellbeing. In fact they estimated that these improvements to health save the NHS around £27.5million a year. The Carnegie Trust and CILIP also advocate strongly for the wider benefits of public library services in the 21st century.”
  • BookTrust promotes libraries with sticker book – BookSeller. “The book, Bear’s Reading Adventure, is a story about a blue bear who visits the park, supermarket and the library. It has space for 10 stickers that children can pick up at their library – one for each visit. Once they collect all the stickers they can download a certificate online that contains tips on how families can have fun reading together. Gemma Malley, author of the book and director of engagement and marketing at BookTrust, said: “Libraries are a wonderful resource, whatever your age. If you haven’t joined your local library or visited for a while, then do take a moment to see what’s going on.”
  • Sometimes I Get So Angry..! – Leon’s Library Blog. Disappointed with numbers signing My Library By Right petition; fewer than 10,000 “This is embarrassingly low”. Notes that SCL is apparently not supporting the petition. Libraries are not book swaps.

International news

“There’s always the possibility that guns are in the building and we’re not even aware of it. The library board does not really have the ability to implement additional regulation beyond Indiana code, we just comply with what the code states for us,” said Howe.”

Local news by authority

  • Brighton and Hove – Labour: Hove Library move is a great opportunity – Brighton and Hove Independent. “The more residents hear about the proposals for a new Hove library at the Hove Museum site, the more they are getting behind the plans. Local Labour councillors Clare Moonan and Tom Bewick have been talking to residents on the doorstep about the plans. They have also joined forces with Peter Kyle, MP for Hove and Portslade, to deliver a newsletter asking residents for their views. Over 70 per cent of responders backed relocating the library to Hove Museum as part of a new cultural hub.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Public being asked to consult on future of area’s libraries – Hunts Post. “A public consultation has been set up to gauge opinion and ask people to give a view about the options facing Cambridgeshire County Council, which could include changes to the mobile service and a reduction in opening hours.”
  • Carmarthenshire – Cut Ribbons announce Llanelli Library show for National Libraries Day – South Wales Evening Post. “The indie rock fizzy pop five-piece, fresh from a BBC Maida Vale session, will be bringing their music to their hometown for a stripped back acoustic performance. The band will perform on Saturday, February 6, in Llanelli Library’s beautiful Athenaeum Hall, as part of a nationwide celebration of libraries.”
  • Devon – County bucking national library trend – Okehampton Times. “Not only has it kept all 50 of the county’s libraries open, but more than three million visits to Devon libraries in 2014/15 ensured a 10% increase across the county. PC and Wi-Fi usage has also increased in Devon’s libraries by 100%. “
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – John Godber and daughter’s play tours to libraries – Scarborough News. ““ We have created a mini musical about obsession, teenage life and box sets. New musicals are opening all over Yorkshire, and unlikely as it may seem one may be literally ‘popping up’ at a library near you.”
  • Essex – Hundreds of prisoners complete ‘life-changing’ book challenge in Chelmsford – Yellow Advertiser. “Reading Ahead, formerly known as the Six Book Challenge, offers offenders a chance to improve their reading skills through six books of their own choosing. Inmates can choose from a wide selection of books in the prison li-brary. A number of prisoners revealed it gave them their first oppor-tunity to read a book cover to cover. Hundreds of prisoners signed up for the initiative, with 104 men completing the course resulting in a silver award for the library at Her Majesty’s Prison and Youth Offenders Institute (HMP & YOI) Chelmsford. One prisoner said: “Before coming to prison I had never read a book start to finish. It feels like I have actually accomplished some-thing very positive.””

“As part of our recent Face to Face service review of Libraries and Registrars, we reviewed the enquiry service “The Answers People” delivered by Essex Libraries.   As part of this review we undertook some detailed analysis of the enquiries received.  Essex County Council now has a council-wide Customer Service Centre also running an enquiry service who also deal with the majority of the types of enquiries received, resulting in duplication of provision. We therefore took the decision  to close the Answers People Service. Enquiries now go direct to the Customer Service Centre and rather than being passed on to the Answers People (as before), they are dealt with direct by this team.  In preparation  for closure, The Answers People Team worked closely with the Customers Services Team to ensure they were fully trained to deal with enquiries and we have built a productive on-going partnership with this team.

We have also developed a new Marketing and Information Team to support  our Face to Face Services. This team responds to any specialist library enquiries that cannot be dealt with by the Customer Services Team or local libraries. Three members of The Answers People are part of this new team and are training the others. The other members of The Answers People were granted voluntary redundancy and one weekend assistant has a new role in the service.  Out of hours our flagship libraries pick up enquiries. We are also working hard to improve the information on our website to help people find the information they need independently as appropriate.” Essex – Council press office (via email)

  • Flintshire – ‘All systems go’ for library bid in Mancot following community campaign – News North Wales. “Campaigners in Mancot have been told by council bosses that the library will be handed to them under a community asset transfer for a five-year period subject to the authority’s cabinet giving approval.” … “We are now looking at the logistics and administration of it. Obviously we won’t be using the computerised system, we will be going back to the old system with brown tickets.””
  • Flintshire – Talks loom on rescue bid for threatened libraries in Flintshire – Leader. “Flintshire Council cabinet members will look at the responses from community groups interested in taking over ownership of libraries in Hope, Mynydd Isa and Saltney, which are under threat of closure by the local authority in order to save costs. They still could be saved by way of a community asset transfer (CAT) whereby Flintshire transfers ownership of the site to a community council or organisation.” … “It is hoped the transfer of these libraries could contribute towards a £544,000 saving for the county over the next year.  These three libraries have a combined yearly running cost of £88,000. “
  • Herefordshire – Libraries thrive Down Under – but not in Herefordshire – Hereford Times. “Our daughter lives in Melbourne, where local councils are improving libraries and building new ones. There is also a magnificent Victoria State Library which could rival the British Library, as well as university libraries which are well stocked,with books, magazines and newspapers, and computers and Wi-Fi access at every desk. All the libraries that we visited were busy, which only goes to prove that if a good service is provided, it will be heavily used”
  • Lewisham – Building Community Capacity Loan to Eco-Communities – Lewisham Council. Having considered an amended open officer report and a presentation by the Cabinet Member for the Third Sector, Councillor Joan Millbank , Mayor and Cabinet (Contracts) agreed that a loan of £30,000 be made to Eco-Communities CIC.”
  • Norfolk – ‘Porn-viewing’ Norwich library users banned – BBC. “A library has banned three people suspected of using its computers to look at pornography. The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library said it was investigating the “misuse” of computers, after a child spotted someone viewing the images.”
  • Telford and Wrekin  – Watch: We will fight to save Newport’s library, say residents – Shropshire Star. “Town and borough councillor Peter Scott said he was amazed to see so many people turn out for the protest.” … “One regular user of the library, Barbara Wickstead, of Edgmond, said she would be lost if the library was to close as she uses it every few weeks. The 83-year-old said if the town was to lose the service she would have to travel to Wellington Library.”
  • Telford and Wrekin – Tories hit back over Telford & Wrekin Council library closures plan – Shropshire Star. “The Conservative opposition group on Telford & Wrekin Council has published its alternative budget and pledged to keep all six under-threat libraries open” … “Moves would be made to convert the other four into “public service mutuals” and run in a different way to ensure they stayed open. The Tory budget has been passed as “robust” by council finance chief Ken Clarke and will be taken into the council chamber alongside the Labour budget when a final vote and decision is made.”
  • Warwickshire – Leamington, Nuneaton and Rugby libraries to shut on Sundays – BBC. “The county’s three largest libraries in Rugby, Nuneaton and Leamington Spa currently open for four hours each. The council plans to save £54,000 from Sunday closures, £14,600 by cutting the wage bill and £31,400 by saving on administration and mobile libraries. The decision on whether to launch a consultation on the plan will be made on 22 January. If approved, Sunday opening would stop in August 2016.”
  • West Sussex – Five-year-old pays tribute to librarian story-teller … by naming his dog after him – West Sussex County Times. “The lovable Cavalier King Charles spaniel has been named after Daniel Belton, a senior West Sussex library assistant. ” … “Daniel the spaniel was even allowed special VIP access into Lancing library to meet the original Dan up close and personal. Dan, who has worked in libraries across West Sussex for almost 22 years, said: “The dog belongs to a member of staff who works at Steyning Library, but who often comes into Lancing. Her sons, Michael and William, had joined us for a story-time session. We did ‘Aliens and Robots,’ with the children designing their own robots. We always try to get into it too, so I was ‘wearing’ a very large brain on my head!”