A death knell for philanthropy as a panacea for cuts in Birmingham this week.  The problem being that private companies and millionaires don’t want to pay for council cuts, and that seems to be what they thought they were doing.  Cuts reported today in Stockton, Warrington and – even worse than previously described in West Berkshire – will likely not be improved by rich benefactors.  Well, except in West Berkshire due to the Government reducing the amount it is cutting from rural councils. Good to see increased opening hours – and a nice new building, albeit co-located – in Manchester though … and the idea of combining a building society with a library in Stockton is a bit of an eye opener.  I wonder it will have a large amount of reserves.



National  news

  • Author visits – what they mean to me, and others – Time To Read. “You’re unlikely to know as much about anyone but your close personal family than someone whose book you have just read.” … “So having a chance to actually meet the person you have voluntarily given up several hours of your time, at least, to read is quite a thing. It can approach idol worship in some ways. Although you think you already know so much about them from their books, being there in the same room, breathing the same air can give you those vital non-verbal cues about them that books – entirely verbal of course – cannot give. You can see their smiles and also hear their asides. There’s so much of us that does not come across on the page, or even on video, that meeting the author can fill in. ” [Blog post by me – Ed.]

“I agree with the government’s statement that all children age eight or above should own a library card. But what is the point, when over 400 libraries have shut? There is no legal requirement to have a library in schools at all. What the government is doing is wrong. We have to stand up for what’s right.” George Hamerton (10 years old) at Speak Up For Libraries lobby.

  • Cameron ‘buying off’ Tory MPs threatening to rebel over council cuts – Guardian. “Labour says its analysis shows most of new £300m fund to ease funding cuts to local government will go to Tory-run councils” … “The extra cash was announced after up to 30 Conservative MPs were poised to revolt against the local government finance settlement, which is due to be put to a vote on Wednesday in the House of Commons. ” … “Essential services such as children’s centres, libraries, museums and elderly care facilities are under threat of closure in many parts of the country because of billions of pounds in extra cuts due this parliament. Their central government funding has already dropped by around 30% since 2010 and is set to fall by another 56% over the next five years, although some of this will be offset by other sources of revenue, such as the ability to keep business rates.”

“We need a change of support at government level. We need funding and joined up thinking. Let’s carry our banners and lobby and protest – this matters too much to do anything else.” Author Cathy Cassidy at Speak Up For Libraries Lobby.

  • CILIP President Dawn Finch: speech at the Speak Up for Libraries lobby on 9 February – CILIP. “I want to start by saying how much I admire and respect the library campaigners. Without the tireless dedication of people who stand around me now we would not be here now. You are the voices that can be heard, and you speak for all the people who have restrictions placed on what they can say. You are here for all the people who cannot be here today. You are the people who have not let our libraries go gently into that dark night, and we owe you a great debt of gratitude for all your hard work.”
  • The Curious Incident of the Culture Minister in the library – Alan Gibbons. “On National Libraries Day, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey chose to visit Hammersmith library, where he tweeted this photograph.” but the picture raises many questions.
  • National Libraries Day: the 10 best librarians on screen – BFI. “To celebrate National Libraries Day 2016, staff at the BFI Reuben Library nominate their top 10 librarians in film and television”

“One of the reasons it’s so important for us to speak up is because a lot of users are unable to speak up for themselves. I want a local library where elderly people and people with disabilities don’t have to take four buses to get there.” Author Philip Ardagh at Speak Up For Libraries Lobby.

  • National Libraries Day 2016 #LibrariesDay – Libraries Taskforce. “The Taskforce team all visited a range of libraries, and other members of the Libraries Taskforce shared what they and their organisations were doing. We’ve picked out some of the highlights below, plus we’ve rounded up the whole day in a storify. Photos are collected in our flickr album.”
  • Read Write Count Campaign – SLIC. “On National Libraries Day (February 6), 300 libraries around Scotland will be allocated a share of £90,000 to pay for new book stock and supplement existing displays. A further £108,000 will be invested to provide Read, Write, Count book packs and stands. A pack will also be issued to every library in Scotland, containing stickers, posters and other resources, with eye-catching book stands being provided to libraries in some of Scotland’s most deprived areas.”
  • Why We Need to Fight to Save Britain’s Libraries – Huffington Post. “The public library, however, is the recluse’s ideal habitat. The library is a strange and mysterious place. It is full of buzz yet silent. One is surrounded by crowds yet feels perfectly alone. It serves the community yet paradoxically allows one to avoid the community. ” … “The fight to save our libraries is particularly important for younger generations – those kids seeking an escape to read Huckleberry Finn in peace. Surely, these kids have the same right that I was once afforded. ” … “Last Saturday, the UK celebrated National Library Day. National Library Day was an opportunity to raise awareness and help to protect the natural habitat of strange, reclusive creatures such as myself and to ensure that every kid has the same opportunities that I once had: to hide away from the outside world. It received little attention. Perhaps that’s because there was little to celebrate, as closures are hardly worth celebration.”

“Unlike the outside world, there is no judgment in the library. There is no dress code: the hobo and the aristocrat are equals. There is no pomp or pageantry. All are welcome.”

International news

  • Australia – Advancing Queensland Public Libraries: Discussion Paper – State Library of Queensland. “The Discussion Paper briefly outlines opportunities and challenges for State Library of Queensland and Queensland’s public libraries against six priority areas. The Discussion Paper aims to identify possible future directions for public libraries thereby informing the most appropriate type of support services to be offered by State Library of Queensland in the future.”
  • Canada – Fairview library starts LGBTQ drop-in for teens – Inside Toronto. “the Diverse LGBTQ+ Youth Night will be open to 13 to 19-year-olds and allies of the LGBTQ community” … ” selection of LGBTQ fiction and non-fiction will be brought to the program from the Yorkville branch and will be available weekly, she said, adding films from the Toronto LBGT Film Festival, Inside Out, will be screened at the drop-in likely starting in the spring. “
  • Romania – Off the shelf: checking-in at Bucharest libraries – Romania Insider. “During summers, the library sets up in the courtyard of its central headquarters The Reading Garden (Gradina de citit), a public space where anyone can read, enjoy the shade and the free WiFi. Cultural and creative events are also organized here during weekends”
  • USA – This Library System Is Willing to Forgive Your Fine…Just This Once – Smithsonian. “Amnesty programs are gaining steam throughout the U.S.” … “when the Chicago Public Library held two weeks of amnesty in 2012, it retrieved more than 100,000 books and materials worth approximately $2 million. They waived about $642,000 in fines—but for patrons who felt like they could use the library again, the gesture was priceless.”
  • USA – Policies for Library Inclusion of Self-Published Works – Public Libraries Online. A look at best practice.

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Council cuts blamed as Library of Birmingham trust wound up – Birmingham Post. “Trustees claim council cuts made it impossible to attract more private funding into the Library of Birmingham after its charity arm was wound up. As the Mail revealed last week, the Library of Birmingham Development Trust, established by Lord Whitby to boost its income, has been axed following a series of financial blows for the city’s top attraction. The trust, which was wound up at a meeting on Tuesday, was established by then council leader Mike Whitby with plans to raise more than £2 million a year – although never got near those lofty heights. Trustee Randall Brew, the Conservative councillor who took over from Lord Whitby on the board, said swingeing cuts to the library – which have seen around half of staff axed – made it hard for the trust to attract philanthropists.”
  • Birmingham – Library of Birmingham might be unworkable – but that’s no reason not to try – Birmingham Mail / Opinion. “Making sense of a library which spends far more on interest than it does on books is an unenviable proposition.” … “Interest payments on the library cost Birmingham £1 million every month. That is £33,000 every day or £1,370 every hour for interest alone.”… “With a plethora of universities in easy reach, not to mention the Paradise and Arena Central developments in spitting distance, opportunities should be abound for support. Clearly, they have not been thus far.”
  • Bradford – Libraries host Lego sessions for toddlers – Telgraph and Argus. ” children will have the opportunity to be constructive and learn new skills with an educational play programme using Lego or Duplo.” … “Sessions will be led by Keith Moran of Bricks4Kidz over a four-week period and will include singing and free play along with a guided challenge activity involving building an animal or vehicle with parents or carers.”
  • Brent – Childrens’ laureate reads books to youngsters at Preston Community Library from Pakistan – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Children sat enraptured as a community reading room in Wembley held a unique event to celebrate National Library Day with a live link to Pakistan” … “Volunteers at the Preston Community Library in Carlton Avenue East, pulled out all the stops with a live link to childrens’ laureate Saman Shamsie, who read her books to the young residents from a literary festival in Karachi. The Pakistani author launched a creative writing challenge when she visited Mount Stewart School in Mount Stewart Avenue, Kenton, last summer, which gave a platform for all local children to join in.”
  • Bromley – Bromley and Greenwich library staff on strike amid potential cuts – This is Local London. “Bromley library staff lobbied parliament today (February 9) to protest the privatisation of services and plans to replace employees at 14 libraries in the borough with volunteers. With the support of their union, Unite, Bromley staff are joined in their strike by Greenwich library employees, who are demonstrating against the closure of their mobile library service. A week of industrial action started on Saturday (February 6), with Bromley Library staff staging a march down the High Street.”
  • Coventry – Coventry council pressing on with £1.2m of cuts to libraries, play centres and public toilets – Coventry Telegraph. “Thousands responded to the plans during an eight-week public consultation which saw 80 meetings take place and more than 12,000 people contacted directly by the council. But the only change set to be made to the far-reaching strategy is a minor tweak to opening hours at three of the city’s 17 libraries.
  • East Sussex – ‘Great improvement’ to Hastings Library approved by planners – Hastings Observer. “The Grade II listed building in Claremont is set for major internal alterations allowing the children’s library in nearby Robertson Passage to relocate alongside facilities for adults.”
  • Greenwich – Bromley and Greenwich library staff on strike amid potential cuts – This is Local London. “Bromley library staff lobbied parliament today (February 9) to protest the privatisation of services and plans to replace employees at 14 libraries in the borough with volunteers. With the support of their union, Unite, Bromley staff are joined in their strike by Greenwich library employees, who are demonstrating against the closure of their mobile library service. A week of industrial action started on Saturday (February 6), with Bromley Library staff staging a march down the High Street.”
  • Kent – Anti-cuts demo outside Kent County Council budget talks – BBC. “The Unite union said schools, libraries and street cleaning would be cut and Unison said the 2% social care precept would not cover costs.” … “”They should draw on the £50m which is sitting idly by while they are cutting services and closing down mobile libraries,” he said.”
  • Lambeth – Mark Rylance comes out against Lambeth Library Closures – Lambeth Green Party. “Mr Rylance said: “To sell them off to private interests is a betrayal of the wishes of someone like Mr. Carnegie who educated himself out of extreme poverty as an immigrant in America. How did he do that? At a Library.”
  • Lancashire – Campaign to save Tarleton Library launched ahead of budget meeting – Visiter. “A Facebook group, with almost 100 likes has been started and a petition with over 500 signatures has been submitted to Lancashire County Council”
  • Lancashire – House of Lords challenge to Lancashire’s library cuts – Lancaster Guardian. “Lancashire’s plan to shut 40 of its 74 libraries was being challenged in the House of Lords today as county councillors were meeting in Preston to vote through the biggest raft of cuts in living memory. Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tony Greaves was due to condemn the “destruction” of the library service in the county as “a disaster” after tabling an oral question in the Lords.”
  • Leicestershire – Have your say on community services of the future – Loughborough Echo. “Leicestershire County Council has launched the consultation on the future shape of its communities and wellbeing service as part of plans to save more than £1.8 million by 2018. It currently spends £5.7 million per year. The consultation will run for three months, until midnight on May 2, with the findings reported back to the council’s ruling cabinet in June.”
  • Leicestershire – Last ditch attempt to save Barwell ‘lifeline’ – Nuneaton News. “During the recent National Libraries Day protesters did their best to try and save Barwell Library from shutting down. The team, made up of politicians and concerned residents were in Hinckley Library for the event. Councillor Michael Mullaney, the Liberal Democrats Parliamentary spokesman for Hinckley and Bosworth, and Mathew Hulbert, a former councillor for Barwell, wanted to highlight the role public libraries play in communities across the country. They were also backing the ‘My Library By Right’ campaign, a national initiative supporting the public’s right to quality libraries.”
  • Lincolnshire – Ringing the changes – Secret Librarian. “An urgent email was received today informing staff that a series of briefing meetings will be held over the next two weeks as a formal thirty day consultation exercise will begin next week with all of those staff who are transferring to the new organisation under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment ) Regulations (TUPE) 2006” … “A mood of weary cynicism just seems to be pervading at the moment however as staff are resigned to yet more change and disruption.”
  • Manchester – Levenshulme’s new Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre set to welcome first visitors – Manchester Evening News. Old Levenshulme library closes: “Campaigners hope the historic building can be transformed into a community arts and cultural centre.”
  • Manchester – New Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre opens its door for the very first time – Manchester City Council. “The brand new Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre, Levenshulme, will open its doors to the public for the very first time on Saturday 20 February 2016. ” … “Arcadia is also the home of a new neighbourhood library” … “The new library will be an attractive, open-plan space within the leisure centre, where members will be able to browse and borrow a selection of popular books, return or renew existing book loans and collect reservations.  Computers for internet use, photocopying and printing will also be available, plus free wifi access. The library will be staffed for 30 hours per week and library services, including internet access and wifi,  will be available throughout the centre’s opening hours via a self-service terminal.  “
  • Newcastle – Warning: Fears over plummeting visitors to Newcastle’s libraries sparks warning – Chronicle. “Thousands of children are growing up having never visited a library as plummeting visitor numbers reveal a book-lending crisis. Newcastle’s libraries lost more than 220,000 visitors last year prompting concerns that vital access to free books is dying out.” … “The city’s network of libraries and its home service had 1.44m visitors in 2015, figures released to the Chronicle show. This was 227,856 people fewer than the city’s 2014 total. While the main city centre library continues to flourish, concerns have been raised about the smaller, estate libraries.”
  • Northamptonshire – Magic Kitten author from Northampton celebrates 10 years…and millions of readers – Northampton Chronicle. “The books – about Flame, a kitten with magical powers who is really young white lion in his home world – have made Sue one of the most borrowed authors in the UK from public libraries – coming in at position 258 overall last year.”
  • Northern Ireland – Children leading by example in our libraries – Belfast Telegraph. “How reassuring to read how well-used the libraries are – especially by children (News, February 5). Well done, Northern Ireland. “
  • Stockton – Two Stockton libraries under threat of closure as council tries to balance books – Gazette Live.
  • Stockton – UK’s first library-based building society branch looks to land in Yarm – BDaily. “The partnership between Stockton Borough Council and Newcastle Building Society to push forward the realisation of the UK’s first library-based building society branch is edging ever-closer. A consultation event was jointly held between the two bodies, showcasing plans to Yarm residents, who gave the project their ‘stamp’ of approval.” … “The partnership between Newcastle Building Society and Stockton Borough Council forms part of the Council’s wider refurbishment plans for the new look library. The community-based branch will be able to support local peoples’ saving and borrowing needs and will also offer financial advice on site through its financial advice subsidiary Newcastle Financial Services Limited.”
  • Stoke – Kathie McInnes: The changing face of our libraries – Stoke Sentinel. “libraries are what we make them. And in return, they make us who we are today.
  • Swindon – Written questions and answers: Cabinet 10th February 2016 Friends of Old Town Library. “Our first step is to develop the strategy, which comes from the engagement process.   I hope that we will receive a wide range of contributions.  It is legal for any council to go out to consultation with just one option on any policy.”
  • Telford and Wrekin – Second Telford library to be reprieved – Shropshire Star. “The running of Dawley Library is set to be taken on by Great Dawley Town Council. Details of an agreement with officials at Telford & Wrekin Council are being finalised. The borough council has also made an offer to Newport Town Council that would see the town’s library preserved.”
  • Warrington – Nine libraries in Warrington to trial reduced opening hours from Monday – Warrington Guardian. “hours at nine libraries in the town will be slashed by up to 11 hours a week from Monday as part of a trial month by LiveWire. The new timings will be trialled and if deemed successful the organisation will look to implement them permanently.” …”The move will see opening times cut by; 11 hours at Birchwood, Padgate 10 hours, Culcheth eight hours 30 minutes, Warrington Central eight hours, Penketh five hours 30 minutes, Lymm and Orford four hours and Stockton Heath and Westbrook three hours and 30 minutes. ” … “The review revealed just two users were accessing some libraries during their first half an hour of opening, with the hours of 6pm to 7pm also generally among the quietest periods. “
  • Warwickshire – Alcester Library reopens following Globe House move – Redditch Advertiser. “The library is open weekdays (except Tuesday) from 9.30am to 5.30pm. On Saturdays, library staff will be on hand from 10am to 1pm and people can still borrow and return books as well as having computer, photocopying and printing access between 1pm and 4pm. The new facility joins the Roman Museum and Town Council at the hub. Recently, Warwickshire County Council agreed to enter a 99-year lease for the Globe House building securing its future.”