I am passing over the editorial section of PLN to Speak Up For Libraries today in order to promote the lobby of parliament on 9th February. Get there if you can.

Alan Gibbons holding Support for Libraries Overdue sign, with Westminster Hall in background
“Speak up for Libraries’ Rally at Westminster Central Hall, London.
Photo shows author Alan Gibbons.

Best-selling writer Jake Arnott is the latest celebrity to sign up for the Speak Up For Libraries (SUFL) lobby of Parliament on 9 February. “Throughout our history,’ he says, ‘the library has proved to be the most effective and resilient memory system for our culture and civilisation. The public library creates a collective consciousness. Any attack on it simply adds to a social dementia.”

The day begins with a public rally at Central Hall, Westminster (10am-1pm), with a line-up of speakers chaired by campaigning author Alan Gibbons. All welcome, whether joining a lobby or not. Alan’s Campaign for the Book is part of the SUFL alliance, alongside librarians’ professional association CILIP, campaigners’ charity The Library Campaign, UNISON and Voices for the Library. Supporters from as far away as Gateshead, Shropshire, Lancashire and Lincolnshire will then descend on the Commons to lobby MPs to focus on the root cause of libraries’ grim situation – apathy and ignorance in local and central government. “These people are fighting hard locally to keep libraries alive. They are desperate to show this is a major issue for the whole nation,’ says Laura Swaffield of The Library Campaign. “And it’s not too late for others to join us.”



National news

  • Freedom of a library – Norwich Radical. ““the public library is so much more than the sum of its books: it’s a community hub, a place to go, to see people, to be seen; to feel you exist beyond the four walls of your house. The library is a destination, a haven, a harbour, an asylum, a sanctuary, a port in the storm.” … “And every time a library is closed, a refuge is stolen away from someone who needs it the most. Because the people who use the library are not the people who are responsible for closing them down – if they did use the library they wouldn’t consider closing them.”
Ed Vaizey letter to MPs supporting National Libraries Day

Ed Vaizey letter to MPs supporting National Libraries Day

  • How the battle to save Lincolnshire’s libraries became a full-time job – Guardian. “For the last two and a half years, instead of settling into retirement, he has been battling what we might call the local face of national cuts: squeezed by a central government gutting council budgets, in 2013, Lincolnshire council set out a plan to pull £2.5m from the county’s library services – shrinking the number of libraries from 47 to 15.” …

“A library, it underpins so much – education, a place for children, somewhere to help when you’re out of work, or just a free, safe place,” he says. “I remember one man telling me, ‘When I was growing up on a council estate in Lincoln, I used to come here to do my homework in the quiet and use the computer.’ He’s an engineer now.”

  • Kate Arnold becomes CILIP vice president – Research Information. “Kate has over twenty-five years’ experience in the media, higher education, charity and public sectors. In 2014 Kate was the first non-American to be elected president of the Special Libraries Association, a global organisation for information professionals, and has just completed her term.”
  • Library support to jobseekers – Gov.uk / Libraries Task Force. “Gateshead library services’ programme of work supporting jobseekers in libraries contributes to the council’s portfolio for economy and employment support. Gateshead’s council plan for 2015-20 has a number of shared outcomes, including ‘Prosperous Gateshead – a thriving economy for all’, which aims to provide:” … “A 2014 library computer user survey revealed that 48% of computer users are using library computers to job search. This equates to over 6,000 people. ” … “The Reflections: Ubisoft events have been very successful, largely due to good partnership working”

“The Government has no plans to amend the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to allow local authorities to specifically charge for ordinary membership of public libraries..” Ed Vaizey, DCMS Written Answers, Parliament.

  • Library task force: “community libraries” toolkit  – Steven Heywood Library Stuff. “the debates on the future of public libraries have no benchmarking to work from; no consistent trends data; no nation-wide evidence-based analysis of outcomes” … “How accountable can the organisations running the community libraries be, and to whom?” … “Who owns the library data?”
  • Loss of libraries is another surefire way to entrench inequality – Guardian. “Having a library within walking distance of home was a way for a young girl from a poor background to access the same breadth of reading material as anyone else – at no expense. It stripped away at least some of the disadvantage that came with being from a low-income family. So every time I hear of another library closure – and there were more than 100 last year alone in Scotland, Wales and England, according to official figures – it hits a nerve. The loss of libraries is simply another surefire way to entrench inequality.”

“There is so much more at stake than people not being able to take home some books. The UK’s library service has for decades been one of its great, tangible symbols of social justice and has adapted admirably to changing demand. It is something we should all stand up for, whether we use what’s on offer or not. I still have my first library card. What have we become if in the years ahead far fewer people are able to say the same thing?”

  • ‘Speak up before there’s nothing left’: authors rally for National Libraries Day – Guardian. “The bestselling children’s author Philip Ardagh has called on book lovers to “speak up for libraries before there’s nothing left to shout about”, as writers and campaigners prepare for a week of events celebrating the UK’s libraries in the build-up to National Libraries Day on Saturday 6 February. The annual nationwide celebration of libraries is the latest move by campaigners to highlight the importance of a public service that is being hit by cuts up and down the country. Ann Cleeves, author of the bestselling Vera and Shetland crime series, has been named National Libraries Day ambassador and has urged people to go out and join their local library next week.”
  • Speak up for libraries campaign: Early Day Motion 1025 – Parliament.co,uk. “That this House recognises that public libraries are hugely important to our communities; acknowledges that many have already closed or are under threat; welcomes the Speak Up For Library lobby of Parliament in support of the public library service on 9 February 2016; and calls on the Government to ensure that councils have enough money to provide well-staffed quality services to enforce the law that says local authorities must provide a comprehensive and efficient library service, to implement policy which secures people’s statutory rights to a quality library service and to give libraries a long-term future by including a programme of library development and modernisation in the 2016 to 2020 Department for Culture, Media and Sport Business Plan.”
  • Top authors to celebrate National Libraries Day, lobby parliament – BookSeller. “A host of writers and artists, including crime writer Ann Cleeves, poet Roger McGough and author/illustrator Nick Sharratt, will join local library communities in a week of special activities leading up to National Libraries Day (NLD) on Saturday 6th February. Meanwhile, writers including Jake Arnott and Cathy Cassidy have signed up for the Speak Up For Libraries (SUFL) lobby of Parliament on Tuesday 9th February.”
  • Young people in England have ‘lowest literacy levels’ in developed world says OECD – International Business Times.

International news

  • USA – 11-Year-Old ‘Sick of Reading About White Boys and Dogs’ Launches #1000BlackGirlBooks – Jezebel. “Marley Dias is an 11-year-old New Jersey resident who’s spent more time giving back to her community in her brief time on this planet than most of us will spend in a lifetime. She’s received a grant from Disney, traveled to Ghana to help feed orphans, and now—in her latest act of altruism—she’s rounding up children’s books that feature black female leads so that she and her peers have more fictional characters to look up to.”
  • USA – 22 Stages Of Visiting Your Public Library – BuzzFeed. Stages include “The librarian makes it their personal mission to find books on the topic you want.”. Page takes a while to load due to the number of (relevant and fun) animated GIFs involved.
  • USA – What happens when libraries are asked to help the homeless find shelter – Washington Post. “Last summer, the Los Angeles Public Library created a job resource program, offering job-search and résumé workshops. The move coincides with a 12 percent jump in the city’s homeless population from 2013 to 2015. The D.C. Public Library added its own social worker several years ago. The Denver Public Library did so last summer. But not every library can afford such supports. In the past decade, there has been an 8 percent reduction in the number of librarians per library in urban areas. During this period, state and federal funding has been hacked in half, forcing strapped local governments to make up part of the difference.
  • USA – Wichita City Council to vote on new $33 million library – Wichita Eagle. “Wichita Public Library Foundation has raised $5.5 million of $8 million campaign. Some council members not sure a new library is necessary. Supporters say it won’t be a traditional library but an “advanced learning center” … “The total door count for Wichita libraries has gone down more than 10 percent from 2013 to 2015, from about 1.1 million to about 980,000, according to library data. Part of the reason for the decrease is that the libraries have had to cut back on programs and hours in the past two years”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Mixed response for council’s “vastly improved” offer to save Silsden library from closure – Keighley News. “If full council votes on February 25 to just keep seven major libraries under its control and lose the rest, intense negotiations will begin with people keen to start Community Managed Libraries. ”
  • Bristol – Speak Up For Libraries 2016 – Interviews with public library users.
  • Bristol – Library staff furious about written exam ‘selection process’ – Bristol Cable. “A new requirement for all Bristol library assistants to undergo formal written exams as part of a ‘selection process’ for their own jobs has left staff angry and offended, according to emails leaked to the Cable. Library management have not clarified exactly how performance in these exams will inform whether library assistants are to keep their jobs, be ‘redeployed’ or dismissed.” … “The written examinations will be held in early February and will involve timed aptitude tests and exam questions based on work-related scenarios. Staff, some of whom have worked at the library for 20 years, say the exams bear no relation to their day-to-day work and will be discriminatory to those who have difficulty essay-writing or speak English as a second language. “
  • Buckinghamshire – Letters round-up: Libraries as important to society as spleen to the body – Bucks Herald. “I wonder which planet Mr Ripley is living on? In his letter last week he said that libraries are trivial, but only a trivial mind could think that. There is nothing trivial about libraries. The fiction departments may not be important but the non-fiction departments are a vital national resource; especially where there is a separate reference library as in Aylesbury. Libraries are an essential part of the nation’s education system.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Ely Library could close on Sundays to help county council save money – Ely News. “city’s library, based in the Cloisters, is currently open from 12-4pm on Sundays but Cambridgeshire County Council is proposing to close the branch that day. The closure is being considered as part of the authority’s plans to save money and a public consultation is now underway..
  • Cardiff – Cardiff council receives five bids to take over closed Roath Library Wales Online. “Roath Library has been closed for 15 months after a building repair bill built up ” … “Cabinet member Peter Bradbury told councillors that discussions will take place about the requirements from the council in terms of the communal and library space and they will need to see business plans about the financing and deliverability of the proposal.” … “in the meantime, a temporary lease is being agreed to deliver a temporary library and PCs from Cardiff Royal Infirmary. Books and Story and Rhyme Time classes are now available at Plasnewydd Community Centre.”
  • Derbyshire – Libraries face closure as Derbyshire County Council looks to save money – Derby Telegraph. “councillor Dave Allen, who is responsible for the county’s 45 libraries, says closures will be looked at and, if they go ahead, they will most likely happen in the financial year starting on April 1, 2017.”
  • Derbyshire – To save libraries they must offer more – Derby Telegraph comment – Derby Telegraph. “Both Labour and the previous Conservative administration were keen to ensure libraries became “community hubs” offering much more than just books to borrow. The current administration, for example, has made some of them food bank collection points. They argue that such moves increase the libraries’ value to the community and that’s surely the case. But, if cuts to council budgets continue at their current rate for much longer, there will be arguably more vital services than book lending and access to computers that feel the pinch.” … “Could there be some way to base activities that would have been in the county’s 32 under-threat-children’s centres in libraries? Might there be scope to have post offices in them?”
  • East Sussex – Refurbishment timetable on Hastings library revealed – Hastings Observer. “East Sussex County Council is embarking upon a complete revamp of the building, in Claremont, which will also see the children’s library move from its current base in nearby Robertson Passage.” … “The work will see a complete refurbishment of the library, which will create a welcoming environment with around 80sqm more public space than at present, while visitors will find a variety of online resources, books and newspapers.”
    Fife – School library cuts will deepen rich-poor divide, claims EIS – Courier. “Children face a postcode lottery for access to school library services amid the slashing of council budgets, say campaigners. Cost-cutting measures like getting rid of professional librarians, which some Fife headteachers have done, is central to the decline of school libraries and is undermining the fight for equal opportunities, according to the Literature Alliance. Teachers, authors, librarians and unions have thrown their weight behind a petition from Save Scotland’s School Libraries, which is before MSPs today.”
  • Gloucestershire – Gloucester Libraries set for Harry Potter night – Gloucester Citizen.
  • Gwynedd – Gwynedd Challenge – Gwynedd Council. “24.1% of all respondents to the survey wanted to “Protect the whole service” and “The options in the questionnaire that organisations or businesses were most eager to protect were Public Footpaths (Env13), Recycling Centres (Env22), Beaches (Econ9) and Libraries (Various13)”.”
  • Herefordshire – Co-ordinated defence of Herefordshire’s libraries – Hereford Times. “action group has been formed to protect library services in Herefordshire. Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL) is an independent group with members drawn from all the county library groups.” … “The separate town and city groups realised they needed co-ordinated action and set up JAHL, chaired by Elinor Kelly, the former chairman of Ross Library Development Group”
  • Hertfordshire – Business plan to save Buntingford Library unveiled – Hertfordshire Mercury. “Underfloor heating and LED lighting are among the details of a business plan that could be Buntingford Library’s best chance of survival.” … “After several petitions and meetings, the groups were told in November to produce the business plan. One of Buntingford In Transition’s founders, David Woollcombe, sees no reasons why it should be dismissed, but will refuse to accept defeat if it is. “We are going to have a library on our high street, come hell or high water,”
  • Kirklees – Kirklees Council says protests at library and grass cutting cost taxpayers a fortune – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Protests over Kirklees Council cuts have ended up costing taxpayers almost half-a-million pounds. Opposition from Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups to Labour’s plans to slash grass cutting and libraries left the council £480,000 worse off. The council revealed campaigns to protect services had ironically cost a fortune through the delayed implementation of the savings. But Kirklees Tory chief, Clr Robert Light, hit back and said the “incompetent Cabinet” was liable for the wasted cash. Lib Dem leader, Clr Nicola Turner, said councillors “might as well go home” if they could not fight decisions they thought were wrong.”
  • Lambeth – Kate Hoey MP asks for Book-ish Gyms re-think as Lambeth Council formally recognises two threatened libraries as Assets of Community Value – Brixton Buzz. “Lambeth Council has formally recognised that the Carnegie and Tate South Lambeth libraries are both assets of community value – despite Cllr Jane Edbrooke pushing ahead with an amendment to a Full Council motion tonight that supports the gifting of the assets to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL).” … “This now means that should Lambeth Council want to sell either of the buildings over the next five years, the Friends groups would be able to trigger a six month moratorium period, allowing them first refusal to buy the buildings at market rate. This is a move that has been set up to safeguard against the possibility of GLL turning aggressive and making a direct move to buy the public buildings off the Council – should the bonkers book-ish gyms ever be able to produce a long-term business plan.”
  • Lancashire – Chorley campaigners to stage Coppull Library protest – BBC. “A comedian, an actress and an MP are among more than 100 people expected to join a fancy dress protest to protect a library from closure. The sit-in demonstration is being held at Coppull Library in Chorley, Lancashire. Lancashire County Council plans to reduce the number of libraries from 74 to 34, saving £7m.”
Michael Rosen quote supporting libraries

Lancashire – Coppull Library

  • Lancashire – Campaign launched to save under-threat library – LEP. “Kingsfold library is a hub for the community for all Penwortham people and is in the centre of the shopping area in Kingsfold supported by good parking facilities. “It’s also an important place for disabled people who come and use the computers there to access their Blue Badges and get help from the staff. Many other sessions run there too including courses to research your family tree.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire County Council hit by £1m malware demand – BBC. “Lincolnshire County Council’s computer systems have been closed for four days after being hit by computer malware demanding a £1m ransom. Ransomware encrypts data on infected machines and only unscrambles it if victims pay a fee. The authority said it was working with its computer security provider to apply a fix to its systems.” … “This meant some services were affected, including libraries and online booking systems. Mrs Hetherington-Smith said: “People can only use pens and paper, we’ve gone back a few years.” see also Cyber hack cripples libraries and bus services for fourth day running – Lincolnshire Echo.Library staff across the county have resorted to stamping books in an out the old way while computers for public use have been out of action.”

“Staff unable to work have taken flexi-leave. The problem stemmed from a rogue attachment on email sent to a member of staff on Tuesday, January 26, which took the authority’s internal systems offline.”

  • Lincolnshire – Market Deeping’s volunteer-run library opens – BBC. “Deeping Library in High Street, Market Deeping, was saved from closure after Lincolnshire County Council withdrew funding. It is to have one paid librarian along with a team of volunteers working on rota. Andrew Bowell, from Friends of Deeping Library, said the “entire community got behind the campaign”. The library is expected to open for three days a week at first, but the group hopes to extend that to six, said Mr Bowell.”
  • Lincolnshire – Out of the frying pan and into the fire? – Secret Librarian. “Apparently according to the management speak there has been a high level of energy and enthusiasm on both sides, with everyone feeling positive about the future of the service. The contract is expected to be signed in the near future and, resulting in the organisation’s presence beginning to increase noticeably.” … “This organisation is inheriting a demoralised staff who just want some guarantees that there may be an improvement to working hours and job security without being patronised with targets and ‘corporate cultures’. Will they be just as draconian at not allowing staff to speak out against them if they are unhappy? Maybe it could be a new beginning but social enterprise companies taking over is privatisation in all but name and you only have to look elsewhere at prison services and security firms to see how well that has worked.”
  • Manchester – Reading Hack Manchester Libraries – Video – Mako Education. “Recently, we were invited to work with Manchester Libraries on the launch of their Reading Hack program, where we ran a series of quick fire multimedia workshops, including green screen video, stop motion animation, E-Book Creation and digital music making. These workshops were specifically targeted for young people who regularly access Libraries across Manchester.”
  • Neath Port Talbot – Much-loved museum and two community libraries spared closureSouth Wales Evening Post. “The authority said it had listened to public concerns about the proposed closures of Cefn Coed Colliery Museum, in Crynant, and Skewen and Baglan Libraries, and opted to keep them open. Skewen and Baglan libraries, along with the mobile library service, were facing closure in a bid to save £80,000, while the authority was proposing to withdraw the subsidy for the museum in a bid to save £60,000 between 2016 to 2018.” … “Mr Jenkins said the authority was still having talks with the communities, but neither the museum nor the libraries would close.”
  • Norfolk – Norfolk fire stations and museums could be spared from axe – but only if council tax rises – Eastern Daily Press. “The future of vital community services including fire stations and libraries in Norfolk could be saved from the chopping block – but only if council tax goes up.” … “County councillors have unanimously voted to remove £845,000 worth of cuts from their recommendations after a public outcry. The savings could instead be made by raising council tax by 0.27pc”
  • Northern Ireland – National Libraries Day is fun for all – Larne Times. “National Libraries Day is on February 6 and Libraries NI is inviting the public to call into any library from Monday February 1 until Saturday February 6 to get involved. Visitors can get their photo taken as part of the ‘What does your library mean to you?’ social media photograph campaign. Younger visitors can enjoy specially-themed National Libraries Day events for children. Ask in your local library or visit www.librariesni.org.uk.”
  • Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland study suggests many poorer children starting school struggle with language – BBC. “Save the Children – which is part of the coalition alongside organisations like Libraries NI, Parenting NI and Early Years – published the research.”
  • Perth and Kinross – A new organisation – Culture Perth and Kinross – is to take over the running of council libraries, museums, galleries and arts development – Daily Record. “From April 1 a third organisation – Culture Perth and Kinross – will take over the running of council libraries, museums, galleries and arts development.” … “It will take its place alongside bodies such as Live Active Leisure and Horsecross Arts which provide services on behalf of the council – and these too will be called on to play an increase part in leisure and recreation. All council-funded sports and recreational services will be delivered by Live Active Leisure.”
  • Somerset – The Gruffalo helps Frome families celebrate National Libraries Day – Frome Standard. “Libraries across Somerset will be running a simultaneous story time for children at 11am on National Libraries Day – reading aloud The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson at the same time.”
  • Somerset – In My View: Libraries should stay in Somerset’s town centres – Western Gazette. “Moving it completely out of the town would basically be its death knell. It is too far for many older residents to walk and so people will just stop going which would then be an excuse for the authorities to shut it down. Libraries need to be in the centre of the town as they are an important community facility”
  • Staffordshire – Area prepares for biggest bird watch in the UK – Burton Mail. “Staffordshire’s libraries are also getting involved to help the RSPB’s researchers this year. They are offering their help to any residents who would like to take part in the garden bird count. Staffordshire’s library chief is reminding residents that the county’s libraries are stocked with generous collections of books on Britain’s flora and fauna that can be a real help with identification.”
  • Staffordshire – Boost your CV by volunteering at library – Staffordshire Newsletter. “The new roles are available in all Staffordshire libraries. In return for helping for a minimum of just two hours a week, volunteers will have the opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills whilst helping the community to get the most out of their library. Volunteers already play an important role in Staffordshire’s 43 libraries – helping and advising customers, organising books and resources and helping out with reading groups, Bounce and Rhyme sessions for children, ‘Knit and Natter’ groups and job search activities. A team of volunteer IT Buddies also play a vital role in most libraries showing people how to access the latest technology, computers and the Internet.”
  • Staffordshire – Ghostly image caught on camera at library fundraiser – Sott.net. “The campaigners have been trying to get £650,000 to buy the building at The Green and have managed to get it listed by English Heritage. But they have to hand the keys back on February 6 when the lease runs out and the site goes up for auction at the end of that month. Members are hoping a buyer will fail to come forward as the amount of work that needs doing to bring it up to scratch could run into hundreds of thousands. This would give campaigners more time to apply for cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Architectural Heritage Fund to buy it.”
  • Warwickshire – £50,000 investment for Warwickshire’s creative reading festivalsArts Council England. “Over the next two years the money will support two Fantastic Fun with Words festivals for children, young people and their families. The events will take place in spring 2016 and 2017. Over 100 creative events and activities will be happening at the county’s 19 libraries, including North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth.”
  • West Sussex – Talk and tea in Shoreham marks National Libraries Day – Shoreham Herald. “Award-winning author and historian Nicola Cornick will be discussing her latest novel at Shoreham Library next weekend. The special event on Saturday, February 6, at 2.30pm has been organised to celebrate National Libraries Day.”