More than 200 libraries have been placed under threat since the start of the current financial year, April 1st 2015.  They’re spread over 36 authorities, of varied political hue. Lancashire – with a whopping 40 endangered – represents a fifth of the total.  It’s therefore an apt time for CILIP to call for a strategy for public libraries in England.  After all, pretty much everywhere else has one and you’d think actually having a plan for the future is a basic requirement of any service that, well, wants a future.  Mind you, we’re talking about a country, England, whose library service, quite literally, does not have any Standards, as the people of Lancashire (and West Berkshire, and Bracknell Forest and the increasingly ironically names Reading) have recently found out. In fact, CILIP are not asking for much.  That they’re unlikely to get even that is not to discredit them but the laissez-faire disinterest of the politicians ultimately in charge.

There’s a load of other changes today, including a worrying trend by two authorities to say that libraries are at risk without actually naming them. Clever that: it means that local opposition does not get an early start.  That’s something quite vital at the moment as the Government, keen to ease through cuts, has reduced the consultation time from a widely accepted 12 weeks to a vague “whatever is appropriate”.  In other news, there’s also another Open+ library  and the now normal range of opening hours cuts and co-locations.

One (welcome) correction: Plumstead Library is not closing but is being redeveloped, with improved facilities being planned.  There are also two new builds scheduled for Greenwich right now, plus one major refurbishment. So that’s good news at least. They must have a strategy or something.


National news

  • CILIP demands national library strategy for England – BookSeller. “The Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has called for a national library strategy to be set out for England as the rate of attrition of the public library service is “beyond urgent”.  CILIP has warned about the consequences of England being the only nation in the UK not to have a strategy for public libraries and has set out practical steps to secure the future of the public library network.” …”CILIP is calling on the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce to “take ownership” of the future development of public libraries.”
  • Feminist Library faces eviction after rent hike – Guardian. “The library, an extensive archive of Women’s Liberation Movement literature housed on Westminster Bridge Road in London, says that Southwark council is threatening to close it down unless it agrees to an immediate increase in its rent from £12,000 to £30,000 a year. The library launched a petition on Wednesday, already signed by more than 3,000 people, calling on Southwark to withdraw its notice to evict on 1 March – which it points out is the first day of Women’s History Month – and to negotiations to “gradually implement the proposed threefold rent increase”.”
  • The future of our public libraries is at stake, we must act now – CILIP. “”CILIP believes that, jointly with the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce, we urgently need to establish the following foundations to secure the future of our public libraries and promote the interests of their users:

A National Strategy for Public Libraries in England, developed jointly by the library profession and the Local Government Association and endorsed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

The creation and endorsement of an outcomes-based Public Library Service Framework for public libraries in England, drawing on the Welsh Public Library Standard and structured around the SCL Universal Offers

A clear definition of a tiered service, highlighting the core offers to be delivered by statutory public libraries (based on the SCL Universal Offers) as differentiated from non-statutory Community Hubs

Development Plans, created by library authorities in consultation with library users with transitional support from the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce and DCMS and based on clear, accurate data

A clear organisational model for the governance and implementation of the National Strategy, based on the core partners of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce”

  • How libraries brought out my inner book geek – Guardian. “A teenage girl explains how libraries helped her manage the transition from primary to secondary school, and the librarians encouraged her to become the reading fanatic she is today” … “what really got me to start my reading journey again were the library staff. They are really lovely and they talked to me at any time about books I had enjoyed and very quickly made reading sound exciting, without forcing me to pick up a book again.”
  • Libraries – Society of Authors. Looks at National Libraries Day and the Speak Up For Libraries lobby as well as statements in support.
  • Online library services ‘still poorly integrated’ with main council websites – Public Technology. “A statement from Socitm said: ‘Does the result of the 2016 survey suggest that libraries are going backwards when it comes to the online experience? “The survey report says not, but does raise the question of whether libraries are improving their online offering fast enough, given the wider context of development of web and social media technologies and user behaviours.” … This year’s study underlines conclusions from previous reports which have criticized the integration of third party library software with the library pages on main council websites. Reviewers said:  “Taking the ‘renew library books’ link from the main council site [into the third party system] immediately changes the site ‘look and feel’, confusing the user.”” see also Councils fall short on online library renewals – UK Authority.
  • Revised consultation principles – Local Government Lawyer. “Some points to note about the 2016 principles include: Purpose of consultation – the principles encourage departments to ask departmental lawyers whether there is a ‘legal duty to consult’ and not to consult ‘for the sake of it’; Length of consultations – the 2012 principles suggested shorter consultations than the previously accepted standard of 12 weeks should be considered by departments if appropriate, with a minimum length of two weeks suggested. Following criticism from the Scrutiny Committee (and others) that a two-week consultation would be ‘unworkable’ the new principles have done away with a suggested duration altogether and now recommend that departments consult for a ‘proportionate amount of time’ taking into account legal advice and the nature and impact of the proposal; Response to consultation – the government have taken into account the committee’s suggestion that the principles should make it explicit that departments should always publish a timely government response to a consultation by suggesting that a response should be published within 12 weeks; Digital by default – the 2012 principles recommended that departments use digital methods of consultation by default but have scaled back on this in the new principles by recommending that departments consider whether new digital tools are appropriate.”

International news

  • Croatia – 3D printing project transforms public library into city’s premier ‘maker space’ – EIFL. “The library’s 3D printing demonstrations reached 800 children and over 1,500 curious adults. In regular 3D workshops children designed and printed toys, tools, plates and bowls, souvenirs, statues, 3D board games, Christmas decorations, and much more. The project sparked a trend, inspiring three more organizations in Rijeka to install 3D printers and start designing and printing objects. It also made headlines in Croatia’s leading newspaper when librarians teamed up with medical doctors and engineers to 3D print the prototype of an artificial limb for a patient with severe leg injuries.”
  • Ghana – How mobile libraries in Ghana are helping children pass their computer exams – EIFL. “EIFL has released a new video about a mobile library project that takes solar-powered laptop computers and internet to poorly resourced schools to give struggling children hands on computer practice. The video features Western Regional Library’s first visit to Archbishop Amissah Junior High School in Western Region, and the school’s first hands on computer class.” … “The vans are equipped with solar panels to power the laptops; a projector and screen, and a portable public address system to use in large, outdoor classes. The laptops are pre-loaded with educational content linked to the school curriculum, and e-books.”
  • USA – Adversary or Ally? The trouble with fines and fees | Editorial – Library Journal. “Ultimately, we must reflect upon our bond with the people libraries are designed to serve. Interactions with patrons can become about the fine or fee, instead of the need addressed by the service. This risks turning librarians and clerks into cops and collection agents and diverting backroom capacity to fee and fine maintenance. In the process, it can set up an adversarial relationship between the library and its users rather than forging an alliance that supports a vibrant interchange. I vote for the library as ally rather than as adversary.”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Eight libraries in Aberdeen facing closure – Evening Express. £500k cut, not clear which libraries will be closed. See also Willie Young: ‘Our budget is a budget for growth, it’s a budget for prosperity’ – Evening Express. “Education remains at the heart of our priorities and we believe by focusing on education, including lifelong learning, we can work towards becoming a city of learning with a city-wide workforce, which will help us to grow and diversify the economy. That is why I can guarantee, despite officers’ recommendations, we will not close any of our libraries.”
  • Bracknell Forest – Bracknell Forest Council budget: six things we learnt – Get Reading. “The budget briefing was all about making savings and ensuring the council can balance its books in the years to come. This being the case councillors feared the public would see changes in the services provided by the authority. One change could be a reduction in the library services. Mr Nash explained services funded by the council related to the arts and also the libraries were to have ‘finance driven reviews’. Cllr Bettison asked: “Do we as an authority need nine libraries?” He confirmed there were four out of the nine libraries which were at risk but would not confirm which and Mr Nash stressed there were no specific proposals as yet. Mr Wheadon said: “We need to look at what sort of libraries we need in the 21st Century. “The borough’s library service would be broadly recognisable to a Victorian.””
  • Bradford – Wibsey Branch Labour Party supports the campaign to Stop the Closure of Wibsey Library – Wibsey Branch Labour Party. “It is dispiriting that despite the success and victories celebrated across Bradford at the recent local and general elections, we are experiencing the decimation of public and voluntary services, due to cuts imposed by the Tory government. Wibsey Branch Labour Party acknowledges the extraordinary pressures faced by the Council and the difficult financial decisions the council is being forced to make as a result of Tory cuts. However, we are concerned that current draft budget proposals would see the closure of all public libraries (if they are unable to be community managed) across Bradford South, including Wibsey.”
  • Brent – Celebrities to take part in fundraising night for Kensal Rise community library – Brent and Kilburn Times. “A host of famous actors and writers will be taking part in ‘a night of poetry and readings’ to raise funds for Kensal Rise community library.” … “Famous names taking part on the night include Kensal Rise-resident Danny John-Jules, Tamsin Greig, Haydn Gwynne, Guardian columnist Tim Lott and author Allen Samuels. Ms Greig said: “This Library, and by definition all libraries, are havens and sanctuaries to be supported, and not to be threatened with closure.””
  • Cornwall – Residents urged to help save St Ives library – Cornishman. “To alert people to the threat of closure and attract support, Friends of St Ives Library (FOSIL), St Ives Archive and the St Ives Community Land Trust have organised an open day at the library on Monday. Janet Axten, heritage manager at St Ives Archive and one of the organisers, said: “The library is most definitely threat from Cornwall Council. If we cannot get a plan together that works by April 1, 2017, then we will probably lose our library.”
  • Highlands – Where the axe is proposed to fall in Highlands – Strathspey Herald. “£325,000: Reduce funding to High Life Highland: Leisure centres and libraries will suffer as a result of 4.3 per cent cut in High Life Highland’s budget. The council expects a drop in customer numbers, membership and income because of the reduction in services, as well less people taking up adult learning courses or participating in youth work schemes. Opening times and prices of leisure centres and libraries will also be affected.”
  • Lancashire – Campaigners fighting to save library services – Chorley Guardian. “A day of action is planned this Saturday to save Leyland Library from closure. Coun Claire Hamilton and County Coun Matthew Tomlinson will be on Hough Lane in Leyland collecting signatures on a petition. They will also be at the library from 1pm to 3pm for people to sign the petition and talk about the cuts to services. Campaigners will be at Clayton Green Library in Chorley from 10am on Saturday as they call to keep their library open. Read-ins are being organised at Adlington Library on Saturday, February 27 and at Euxton Library on Saturday, March 5, both from 9.30am to 12.30pm” see also The history of now-threatened Adlington Library – Chorley Guardian.
  • Leeds – Pudsey Library to become ‘community hub’ – West Leeds Dispatch. “Residents will soon be able to register a birth, arrange to pay their rent, access the internet and borrow books all under the same roof when Pudsey Library becomes a Community Hub. Council services such as housing, registrars and other one stop services will all join the library under one roof. These services are moving from Pudsey Town Hall, which will become a base for Adult Social Care and Health staff.”
  • Lincolnshire – See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – Secret Librarian. “It sounds like the county’s libraries will become more like bookshops in terms of layout as they will be paperback heavy and more geared towards popular literature. If a book is not in stock rather than get it from another library it will be bought from a large internet supply company.” … “They claim to be a not for profit social enterprise co-operative company but their top managers certainly earn good salaries and surely there are some services that should be the government’s responsibility and not be privatized in all but name. ” … “The organisation have certainly made all the right sounding noises but this blogger is reserving judgment as the question remains of whether the council have the authority it claims to if they begin in any way to renege on all their fine sounding promises.”
  • Nottingham – New library, offices and flats given go ahead in Aspley – Nottingham Post. “The Joint Services Centre will be built on the former site of similar facilities that were knocked down in 2015, on the corner of Strelley Road and Bradfield Road. The new three-storey building will be home to a housing office for Aspley, along with a library, meeting rooms and office space for council staff on the ground floor. The top two floors will then house 30 sheltered accommodation apartments for the over 55s, along with communal services, including a hairdressers, an activity room, a hobby room and a living room.” … “”I am slightly worried about the ‘Joint Services Centre as a name. It is remarkably functional and doesn’t express for the people what is its and needs some thought.”
  • Reading – Council plans to move Southcote and Whitley libraries into community centres – Reading Chronicle. “the council looks to combine the Southcote and Whitley branches with community centres. The move is part of a proposed package of cuts to the sector which if approved would see reduced opening hours across the board. Councillors have pledged there will be no break in service during transition and said the scheme was designed to help avoid future library closures.”
  • South Gloucestershire – South Gloucestershire Council sets 3.99 per cent increase in council tax – Bristol Post. “Consultations will be taking place next week over potential savings including closing Chipping Sodbury Library and ending the mobile library service to save £640,000; moving staff based at Kingswood Civic Centre to Yate and creating One Stop Shops to house libraries and other public sector organisations in Kingswood, Patchway and Yate.”
  • Suffolk – Halesworth Library support group hopes to attract new friends and trustees – EADT. “Since late 2012, the Friends of Halesworth County Library has raised funds for a number of improvements, including new carpeting, redecoration, installation of blinds on the mezzanine level and the purchase of iPads. This April, the Friends will be holding an annual general meeting (AGM), where they hope to attract more volunteers and appoint new trustees. Secretary and treasurer, Mike Stephens said those who sign up are asked to make a minimum contribution of one pound for three years’ membership.”
  • Telford and Wrekin – Newport Library is saved from closure – Shropshire Star. “Telford & Wrekin Council’s senior cabinet members have decided to save Newport Library and First Point Services, announcing there will be a reduction in the savings needed at the library. This will allow the council to continue to run a First Point service alongside a new self-service library facility. Saving the First Point service and library, which will be subject to a review of operational arrangements, will mean the council has halved the level of savings it had originally planned to deliver, after listening to the views of local residents.”

“There will be just one branch library left in West Berkshire under latest plans to save money.  Eight branches and both mobile libraries face the chop under a consultation document published this week, detailing £730,000 cuts a year to libraries. Computer technology access will be lost and adult education and community groups that currently use the library buildings will lose their meeting space.  “to be able to use a West Berkshire library will require travel to Newbury,” says the document, which must surely test the limits of the legal obligation to provide a library service at all.  As library services are all but wiped out, however, the government continues to look the other way.” West Berkshire – Library News – Private Eye.

  • West Berkshire – Town mobilises to fight library closure – Newbury Today. “The bitter backlash has bolstered an instant grassroots campaign and as this newspaper went to press: The Friends of Hungerford Library had met formally and elected a committee. A public meeting had been arranged. A petition opposing the closure of Hungeford Library had attracted nearly 1,000 signatures. West Berkshire Council has announced that the Church Street community hub is among eight facing closure as part of its plans to save £17.5m.” … “I see no financial analysis that must have been prepared before such a proposal was arrived at. “Unless we can see how the district council arrived at such a proposal, we cannot respond in an informed and as constructive manner.”
  • West Berkshire – Save Hungerford Library from Steph Richardson.
  • Wiltshire – Calne Library set to trial no-staff system – This is Wiltshire. “The library is due to undergo refurbishment work later this year, which will see a swipe card system and CCTV installed, allowing it to be opened without having staff on duty. A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said: “The library isn’t going to close and staff are not going to lose their jobs, but some of the current staff’s hours will be cut. “Following refurbishment, the library will be able to open for longer and we are hoping that it will be able to open on Wednesdays, as it currently isn’t.”
  • Wokingham – Give us your views on exciting library proposals – Wokingham Borough Council. “Wokingham Borough’s libraries are a great success story – bucking the national trend by actually increasing usage – and now you can help write their next chapter by giving us views on how can continue to enhance and expand what we offer. While library usage is down across the country, Wokingham Borough’s libraries are on the bestseller list – with library usage increasing by nearly 6,000 from 2013/14 to 2014/15 and on the up again this year – and Wokingham Borough Council is determined to enhance them even further. In order to achieve this, the council’s decision-making executive on January 28 approved a public consultation on the draft library offer – which includes proposals to open the borough’s main libraries for longer by introducing some self-service facilities. The eight-week consultation will start on Monday 1 February and all comments will be considered before the council decides later in the year on whether to put the library offer into action”