A good point has been made in Leon’s Library Blog about a trend which has been notable in recent years of public libraries effectively being farmed off to parish/town councils. This maintains the service but causes other problems. At the moment, though, as with volunteers, the mere fact that the library service survives is seen as reason enough to do it by many.  Expect to see this becoming a standard weapon in the armoury of cutting councils, if it is not already, from big rural authorities like North Yorkshire to smaller urban ones like Swindon.



National news

Celebration of the Every Child a Library Member Project in Wales – “A short film to celebrate the Every Child a Library Member project in Wales as it is rolled out to all local authorities in Wales. The Every Child A Library Member initiative aims to improve the reading literacy and communication skills of children across Wales by introducing them to the wealth of material available at the local library – from a range of books, comics, audio-books, computers and magazines – and encourage reading for pleasure. ”

  • Hard-hit northern councils hit back over Tory slush fund – Guardian. “This is why the £300m slush fund which is overtly weighted towards Tory councils in the south of England is not just a kick in the privates to Liverpool and the five other most deprived northern cities which won’t receive a penny of the grant, but is a breathtaking abuse of power, with striking similarities to the scam which saw the disgraced Porter branded politically corrupt.” says Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, with cuts to libraries prominently featured. Also includes letter from Friends of Taunton Library about cuts to their library. Also includes Swindon library cuts.
  • Libraries: Local Government Finance Settlement – Hansard. “The point is that libraries are changing—we have talked a lot about digital change, and volunteers are coming in.” … “There was a 20% increase in volunteers working in libraries last year. Some local authorities are embedding this into their statutory service, as in Buckinghamshire. The Government are encouraging this joint provision because it will help to take our brilliant libraries—there are 3,000 across the UK—into the future.” says Baroness Nevile-Rolfe [There are currently 3917 libraries in the UK – Ed.]
  • Library cuts spark series of strikes as staff protest about cash-strapped service – Mirror. “Library staff in Greenwich, South London, ended a week-long strike in protest at plans to scrap a mobile library for kids. Colleagues in nearby Lambeth and Bromley staged similar walkouts over closures and other staff are voting on industrial action. Onay Kasab, for the Unite union, said: “Libraries are a soft target. But in polls they are always in the top five most important services.”” … “even Prime Minister David Cameron ’s mother Mary, 81, has signed a petition opposing the closure of eight out of nine libraries in West Berkshire”
  • Parish or Bust – Leon’s Library Blog. “Parishing is the natural outcome of the localism and devolution agendas and in simple terms is the process whereby local authorities pass responsibility for universal and discretionary services to parish and town councils.” … “This is a rather cynical political ploy. The rationale being that councils don’t want to raise taxes above the referendum threshold but parish councils can raise the local precept to pay for services. With many councils set to raise the council tax by almost 4% this represents a double whammy of tax hikes for local communities, with low income families particularly vulnerable.” … “such an approach and attitude lends itself to increasing social inequality between those communities that can afford services and those that cannot. It also continues the decline and fragmentation of library services, which further exacerbates such inequality.” See also comment.
  • Privatisation and saving our public libraries – Times. Behind paywall. “Robbie Millen says that you can’t trust councils with libraries, so we should privatise them. Is he right?”. 4 letters, 2 for, 2 against (including one by Nick Poole, CEO of CILIP).
  • ‘Speak Up for Libraries’ – Will our MPs respond? – Wembley Matters. “George Hamerton, who is a pupil librarian at his primary school wowed the audiencve with his calmly presented case for the prpotection of libraries.  A common theme of contributors, whether authors, library workers or users, often  speaking from their own experience, was the contribution that libraries made to hard up working class families who would otherwise not be available to afford books. This is as true today as it was for many of the speakers as they were growing up but closure of local libraries, school libraries and education library services means that the current generation is at a disadvantage compared to the previous generation – internet or no internet.”
  • Why is London’s Garden Bridge worth as much as five Lancashire museums? Ask Joanna Lumley – Guardian. “Another five Lancashire museums have had their council funding withdrawn and been left to look after themselves – their future is uncertain. Forty of the county’s 74 libraries are also to be culled. Other parts of England, particularly in the north, are of course familiar with similar closures and cutbacks, but in Lancashire they amount to a cultural disembowelment. First they came for the mills, you might say, and then for the libraries, and then for the museums that the mills had become.”


  • USA – Almost Home: How Public Libraries Serve Homeless Teenagers – Schools Library Journal. “A STEM program on Bainbridge Island in Washington. A radio podcast anchored by a former homeless young adult in Dallas. A digital photography class in Charlotte, NC. These are a few of the innovative ways that public libraries are providing services to homeless teens.”
  • USA – Leading authors press for Supreme Court review of Google’s digitised library – Guardian. “JM Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell and Peter Carey are some of the major writers throwing their weight behind the US Authors Guild’s attempt to hold Google to account for its digitisation of millions of in-copyright works.” .. “An appeal by the Authors Guild against the decision was rejected in favour of Google in October 2015 by the US court of appeals for the second circuit. The American writers’ body is now asking the supreme court to hear its case, with a group of writers, publishers and copyright organisations backing its petition.”
  • USA – Three Ways Publishers and Libraries Can Work Better Together – Publisher’s Weekly. ” As of this year, all Penguin Random House e-book titles are now licensed on a perpetual-access model, with prices as high as $65 per copy for new releases, including bestsellers like Danielle Steel’s Blue and Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air. Let’s call this what it is: bullying behaviour.”

“What today’s library elite seems to forget is that reading is a maker activity—and a profound one. When a reader engages with a text, her own experiences interact with the narrative to create something entirely new. This is what makes reading so rewarding: we each create our own distinct versions of the books we read. If I were a publisher it would make me anxious to find my products not just shuffled aside but subtly disparaged, as leaders in the profession coach librarians to shake off their bookish image.”

  • USA – A visit to the Floating Library in Echo Park Lake – Los Angeles Times. “Designed by Minnesota artist Sarah Peters and set loose in the Great Lakes region during the recent summers, the Floating Library is making its first visit to the West Coast. It’s a raft filled with art books and zines, presented by the Machine Project gallery as part of the L.A. Art Book Fair.”

Local  news by authority

  • Bath and Northeast Somerset – Winning design to feature on library cards – Somerset Guardian. One prize for adults and one for children.
  • Bradford – Worth Valley Methodists launch community libraries in Oxenhope, Lees and Haworth – Keighley News. To replace mobile library stops.
  • Calderdale – Youngsters are loving our libraries – Halifax Courier. “Bookworms across Brighouse had a great day full of activities on Saturday in celebration of National Libraries Day. The aim of the day was to highlight activities that local libraries across the district could offer and see the joy that a Library membership can bring.”
  • Cornwall – Hunt for golden ticket continues as Helston Library inspires love of books – This is the West Country. Golden bookmark hidden in a book, with the winner winning a free year–long free theatre pass courtesy of local theatre. 30 silver bookmarks offer single free shows.
  • Darlington – Bringing to book the library founder – Northern Echo. “It is ironic that Darlington council no longer feels that the ratepayers of the town can support a fully functioning library because back in the early days of libraries, the ratepayers of the town refused to allow their pennies to be spent on a public library.”
  • East Renfrewshire – Workers’ union reinforces opposition to school library cuts – Barrhead News. “Unison claims that it has uncovered evidence of a consistent pattern of school library services being a soft target to meet budget cuts, saying school libraries are vital for young people’s learning and have a central role in equipping our younger people from disadvantaged backgrounds for the digital age. ” … “More than 2,500 people signed the petition which was created after multiple local authorities, including Barrhead’s, announced cuts to school library services. Under plans to plug a £20 million funding gap, East Renfrewshire Council’s education department is proposing a 50 per cent reduction in school library services, meaning pupils would have access to a library service less than half the week.”
  • Leeds – New chapter for Leeds Library Festival – Yorkshire Evening Post. “Jedi Knights, gaming fans and bookworms are set to turn over a new leaf with the return of the Leeds Library Festival. The second annual literary celebration is once again set to “stamp out the shhh” across the city from today.” … “For the first time, the festival will also include events at the historical independent subscription library, The Leeds Library and the Treasures of the Brotherton Gallery at the University of Leeds.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire Campaigner reports from #SUFLlobby2016 – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “The campaigners I spoke to were very positive, but realistic. There was growing concern about volunteer run libraries, rabid cuts by local authorities, and suspicion of organisations like Greenwich Leisure Ltd. Some had insinuated themselves onto “user boards”, others were just beginning to understand the magnitude of the fight ahead.” … “In many ways it was a sad day hearing about the dreams of so many people destroyed needlessly, in my opinion. We are a long way down the line here in Lincolnshire, but I shall pass on these notes to colleagues and friends here in the hope that they see they do not stand alone, and that support to fight in still exists. Nor am I naive enough to believe that my MP is going to do anything to pull things back to where they were.”
  • Powys – Powys libraries’ £13k unpaid fines – News North Wales. “Users are still to cough up the money for 2,623 fines accrued last year however, meaning a potential £13,000 is still at large from 2015 alone, in what would otherwise provide a welcome funding boost to libraries across the county. The maximum £5 per item and £10 fine per user sees them blocked from taking out any more books until their bill is paid. With 1,758 fines still outstanding from August 2013 to July 2014, there is no guarantee libraries will get their money or their books back.”
  • Sheffield – Book loans drop by one-third at Sheffield’s volunteer-run libraries – Sheffield Telegraph. “New figures have shown a ‘dramatic dip’ in book lending at the city’s 15 volunteer-run libraries – with some of the facilities seeing loans dropping by more than 50 per cent in the past year.”.  But volunteers and councils argue big drop in normal loans as well and stats don’t include all loans.
  • Sheffield – Opinion: Help write a happy ending for libraries – Sheffield Star. “were libraries forced to become volunteer run because they weren’t being used enough, or are they now not being used as much because they are no longer operated by Sheffield Council? One thing is for certain: the efforts of those who are volunteering to keep the libraries open cannot be faulted.”
  • Shropshire – Broseley and Albrighton libraries changing hands – Shropshire Star. “Broseley Town Council and Albrighton Parish Council have agreed to take on their libraries and customer service points from Shirehall. But both libraries will close for at least six weeks for work to be carried out to move each council’s offices in. Mobile libraries will be made available outside both buildings on every Saturday in March from 10am until 1pm.”
  • Somerset – Town’s library has moved on, nobody says “shush” any more – Frome Standard. Looks at the changes and improvements and mentions the national petition.
  • Swindon – Librarians showed appreciation with giant Valentine’s Day card – Swindon Advertiser. “As part of Swindon Borough Council’s plans cut the costs of library services a suggestion has been made to relocate Wroughton Library and sell the building – a course of action which has been met with fierce opposition in the village. To show library staff how much their work at the library means to the village, Talis Kimberley-Fairbourn created a special Valentine’s-themed card and rallied friends and supporters to deliver it.”
  • Swindon – What do you want from the library service? – Swindon Advertiser. Consultation “on the future of library provision in Swindon will officially begin next week as council chiefs look to save 60 per cent from the budget”
  • Torbay – Mayor asked by councillors to protect vital Torbay services – Herald Express/ “Objections were raised against proposals in the mayor’s budget to close Connections services in Torquay and Brixham and to cut library funding.”
  • Worcestershire – Worcestershire’s great reading bonanza – council’s stock of books surges 13% to 770,000 – Droitwich Spa Advertiser. “New figures from the county council have revealed how the number of books have rocketed to a record 770,159, with the success of the glittering £60m Hive a big factor.”