In the first time I can remember, the DCMS has told a council it cannot close libraries until it does things properly.  Normally, the DCMS barely notices but, this time, the radical decision by West Berkshire to close all but one of its libraries, with insufficient regard to its population, has prompted a different response. The ministry has said West Berkshire Council will need to produce a proper needs assessment before it is sure it can meet its requirements under equality legislation and, importantly, the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.  As such, the council has had to find £425k of money (this is hardly generous – it was previously cut from the libraries budget after all, and seems to have some from a special pot)  to keep at least some of its libraries open until it can show it has done the technical legal minimum. It’s worth pointing out that the minister is unlikely to stop the drastic cut to just one library once it has done so, but at least the ministry is saying that the law needs to be followed first. That, for this government, which takes such a laissez faire approach to council cuts, is actually – sad to say – enough to make this the most significant intervention since 2010.

“Discussions with DCMS revealed the need for a detailed Needs Assessment to inform any changes to the way Libraries operate. Research will be commissioned to provide this before finalising the future structure and scope of the service … The Council will fail in its equality duty, and also its statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service under the Public Libraries and Museums Act, if it proceeds with a major reduction in its Libraries service without due process. I recommend the proposal be reconsidered so that libraries are retained pending the outcome and recommendations of an independent Needs Assessment”  Equality Impact Assessment Template – Stage Two – West Berkshire Council.

Ever had the nightmare of worrying what would happen if your library data went down the drain? Well, Barnet are living through it.  Here’s their council report on what caused the catastrophic loss of their library data and how it is, in particular, really messing up their Open+ branches, as well as losing them income.  Heaven knows what it is doing to their credibility as well. Now’s the time to check your systems and your back-ups, people.



National news

  • The 20 areas hardest hit by Tory culture cuts revealed – is your town on the list? – Mirror. “Spending on cultural services such as libraries, sports and parks has plummeted by more than a quarter since 2010. An exclusive analysis of local council spending figures has revealed the scale of the huge cuts that have hit the country’s cultural institutions.” … “Spending on open spaces has fallen by 22 per cent while library expenditure is down by 24 per cent overall and tourism spending has plummeted by 48 per cent.”
  • Code Green: cracking the code – Libraries Taskforce. “The event was organised by the Society of Chief Librarians to help promote Code Green, as part of their learning offer, and designed to both inspire and improve the skills of librarians to deliver digital learning in libraries.”
  • e4Libraries Accreditation Scheme – Book Industry Communication. “Book Industry Communication welcomes applications for this accreditation scheme for organisations operating in the library supply chain. The e4libraries accreditation scheme will enable successful organisations to demonstrate their commitment to electronic trading and other beneficial library technology. Beneficial technology chiefly comprises full-cycle EDI or other forms of e-trading with stock suppliers, but is often supplemented by implementation of RFID systems where appropriate and by efficient access to, and use of, bibliographic records, as well as the adoption of more efficient working practices in the supply chain. The scheme is open to library authorities, academic institution libraries, library consortia or individual special libraries; library stock suppliers; and to systems suppliers (primarily suppliers of library management and RFID systems) and other service providers active in this marketplace.”
  • Hard Evidence: how many people actually use libraries? – Conversation. “Those funding public libraries may view the digital shift experienced by university libraries as a way of providing library services without the need to keep buildings open. But, although more students are using digital libraries than the paper-based libraries of the past, the library building as a place to study is still important to them. Similarly, while open access content, digitisation programmes and e-book subscriptions may mean that a public library is not the only place to read books and newspapers, people still enjoy the experience of physical books and value the space to escape, study and learn.”

“Just days after publishing its latest briefing on libraries, the House of Commons library had to revise it after it was pointed out that numbers provided by the Department of Culture. Media and Sport (DCMS) were nonsense.” Library News, Private Eye

  • Libraries where books are just the beginning… – Libraries Taskforce. A look at the use of lego in Carillion libraries, including StoryStarter, mathematics and lego leagues.
  • Londoners receive three times more arts funding than Devon and Cornwall – Plymouth Herald.
  • Panlibus – Issue 39 – Capita. Includes Reading Agency article on libraries joining junior school children.
  • Why librarians need to act on mass surveillance – Infoism.  “It is, therefore, incumbent on us as library and information professionals to develop our skills with regards to online intellectual privacy, to seek to defend the intellectual privacy of our users and, more broadly, to speak out against government legislation that attacks our professional values as well as posing a threat to society in general. “
  • Why should critical literacy matter to information professionals? – CILIP. “One way of describing critical literacy is as a process that, ‘challenges the status quo in an effort to discover alternative paths for self and social development’ (Shor, 1999). This description highlights two key components of critical literacy. Firstly, it has a focus on practical action and community engagement. Secondly, critical literacy is concerned with the social and cultural contexts in which traditional, digital, multimedia and other types of texts are both created and read. Critical literacy is not about studying texts in isolation, but developing an understanding of the cultural, ideological and sociolinguistic contexts in which they are created and read. It involves an explicit commitment to equity, social justice and inclusion.”

International news

  • Global – Launch of the Persist digital heritage selection Guidelines – IFLA. “The aim of the Guidelines is to provide an overarching starting point for libraries, archives, museums and other heritage institutions when drafting their own policies on the selection of digital heritage for long-term sustainable digital preservation. “
  • USA and Canada – Big Talk (Ideas, Collaboration, Difference) from Small Libraries 2016 – OCLC. “The fifth annual Big Talk from Small Libraries online conference was once again a showcase of the great work small libraries do across the United States and Canada. On February 26, 470 attendees from all over North America listened to 12 speakers from small libraries or who work directly with small libraries.”
  • USA – Library Records, Patron Privacy, and Library Policies – Public Libraries Online. “One reason for these protections is that a library is a place of free exploration, and if privacy is compromised, then it could have “chilling effects” on information-seeking behavior; for example, a patron might decide not to request controversial material due to fears for their privacy, which would be an unfortunate situation that a library is advised to take steps to avoid by making patrons aware of the library’s policies on data privacy and protection.”
  • USA – Public Libraries Collaborating with USCIS to Help Immigrants – Public Libraries Online. “Public libraries across the U.S. have seen a dramatic rise in the number of immigrants using the library.  Depending on the geographic location, their reasons for finding us may vary widely.  In some areas they may be newly arrived immigrants who’ve been brought here by family members, and are looking for basic English instruction.  In others, they may be refugees looking for housing and food….”
  • USA – A Thousand Books Strong – Public Libraries Online. “As librarians, we tend to think of our duty to the people, to supply diverse materials that represent and speak to the identities of our library users. One tween decided to take matters into her own hands. 11-year-old Marley Dias, already a blogger and activist, decided she was tired of reading books about “white boys and dogs.” The tween understood that her teacher could relate to those books as a white male, so those were the ones he assigned. But Marley wanted books featuring black girls, people to which she could more easily relate. From this desire she launched the 1000blackgirlbooks campaign

Local news by authority

  • Angus – Hearing aid batteries available on mobile libraries – Brechin Advertiser. “NHS hearing aid users will now be able to get their free replacement batteries from Angus’ mobile libraries. The service is part of the Scottish Government’s See Hear strategy for meeting the needs of people with a sensory impairment”
  • Barnet – Library glitch is a ‘sign of things to come’, say campaigners – This is Local London. “Barnet Council’s library service, Vubis, crashed nearly two weeks ago during an update which has taken the online catalogue and the e-library system offline. Children cannot access the computers and the authority is also losing up to £200 a day in fines. But as councillors prepare to make cutbacks to libraries in the borough, including leaving some unstaffed, people have reacted furiously to this news.” see also Libraries glitch still not fixed after two weeks – Barnet and Whetstone Press. “The server problem means borrowers are unable to renew books in person at 14 libraries, or online”
  • Bedford – Free story sticker books to encourage budding bookworms to visit Bedfordshire libraries – Bedfordshire News. “Parents can pick up a free sticker storybook when their baby or pre-school child joins the library and gets their very own library card. Collect a sticker each time they visit the library to borrow books or take part in a Rhymetime or Storytime.”
  • Bury – Appeal for donations to help fill school libraries in Tanzania and Bangladesh – Bury Times. “They are relying on donations of books for children aged three to five and they can be dropped off at locations across Greater Manchester. There are currently two donation points in Prestwich, in Prestwich Library and at the Sedgley Park Children’s Centre.”
  • Croydon – Council to launch public consultation on future of Croydon’s libraries – Croydon Advertiser. “A report, Ambitious for the Library Service in Croydon, says residents will be asked about how libraries should be run in light of recent funding cuts. Funding for Croydon 13 libraries will fall by £217,000 (4.9 per cent) from April as part of a £29 million reduction in council spending over the next three years. The library service, which was outsourced to Carillion Integrated Services at a saving of £800,000 in October 2013, “needs to continue to offer value for money but at a lower cost”, says the report.”

“Barnet libraries spokesperson, Cllr Anne Hutton, said: “This is totally unacceptable, given that the Barnet Tories want to leave our libraries unstaffed and rely on this technology to prop up the service, it beggars belief that the system would collapse like this. “

  •  Darlington – Authors against library cuts: Best-seller Gervase Phinn demands protection for libraries – and their librarians – Northern Echo. “Dales author Gervase Phinn joins international best-sellers Anne Fine, Philippa Gregory and Peter James as the latest writer to speak out over cuts to library services in Darlington”
  • Devon – Libraries Unlimited to go live with Advanced Exchequer – BDaily. “Libraries Unlimited South West (Libraries Unlimited), a new not-for-profit organisation created to run Devon’s library service, will go live with cloud-hosted finance software and mobile app from Advanced Exchequer (Advanced) in April 2016. The system will provide real-time financial reporting and give staff access to accounts data while out of the office. Libraries Unlimited is due to take over the management of the library service from Devon County Council on April 1. The organisation, which has its headquarters in Exeter, will employ more than 300 staff across more than 50 sites. The mobile app will enable managers visiting these sites to access up-to-date financial information, and is a key reason why Advanced was selected from four software providers.”
  • Herefordshire – Masters House and Ledbury Library go from strength to strength – Hereford Times. “Did you know that there have been over 99,500 visitors to the Masters House and Ledbury Library since it opened a year ago? This was just one of the impressive statistics available for the community to learn about during the open day held to celebrate the first anniversary. In addition there have been 685 new members and a huge 53,100 items borrowed and reserved for members.”
  • Hillingdon – Boris Johnson crowns Hillingdon employee ‘Librarian of the Year’ – Get West London. “Boris Johnson says Hillingdon libraries are the best in the country, after presenting an employee with a ‘Librarian of the Year’ award. Sam Everett, group manager for Manor Farm , Ickenham , and Oak Farm Libraries was voted Librarian of the Year by the Publishers’ Publicity Circle. She was one of five librarians shortlisted by the Circle’s committee and scooped the award jointly with Stewart Bain of the Orkney Library, receiving her prize from the Mayor of London, on Friday (March 11).” … “Sam has worked for Hillingdon Council ’s Library Services for eleven years and was nominated for her partnership work with publicists and event organising. She recently played a lead role in setting up the council’s first Culture Bite Festival which was held in October.” … “The Circle is a network of book publicists, who every year vote for their journalist, event organiser and librarian of the year.”
  • Kent – Kent’s 99 libraries to offer free Wi-Fi for visitors – Kent News. “The expansion from the 33 libraries which currently offer it, to the full 99, was possible due to funding from Arts Council England. The grant, is part of a nation-wide campaign to provide access for visitors using their laptop, smartphone or table PC.”
  • Kirklees – Book lovers say cheers as Huddersfield gets a community library – in a pub – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Huddersfield author Nick Stead will open the new venture in The Sun, Lepton, on Friday following the decision to close the village’s main library.” … “The community library has been set up with the support of Huddersfield District Committee and by the rural pubs organisation, Pub is The Hub, a not-for-profit organisation started by the Prince of Wales in 2001.”
  • Lambeth – Carnegie Library – the issues – Brixton Blog / Letters. “I’ve continued to mull on the impossibility of Lambeth’s plans to turn our local library (Carnegie) into a gym … the points are so numerous that I apologise if this letter becomes too long …”
  • Lambeth – Durning Library and Tate South Lambeth Library: Consultation Report – Lambeth Council. “Within the context of a 40% budget reduction for culture services, the consultation sought to understand local people’s and other library users’ views on the proposals that Durning Library should become the temporary town centre library for north Lambeth, and that Tate South Lambeth Library should offer a reduced library service within a Healthy Living Centre. In addition the consultation sought to understand people’s views on revenue generating activities within the Tate>South Lambeth building. These proposals were being consulted on because, following feedback from the previous Culture 2020 consultation, they represent a change from proposals consulted on at that time.”
  • Lambeth – Strike plan to save libraries as Lambeth campaign looks to target Labour – Socialist Worker. “Library workers in Lambeth, south London, were set to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. The Labour-run council is facing fierce opposition to plans to close libraries and turn some into gyms. Campaigners met last week, bringing together groups around the borough’s ten libraries, to debate how to stop the closures. Sit-ins are possible before locks are put on the doors of libraries on 1 April” see also New strike over library plans – Brixton Blog.
  • Lancashire – A best foot forward to save our libraries – Gazette. “Library users marched from St Annes Library to Lytham, via Ansdell, to raise awareness that three of the area’s five libraries face the axe.” … “The Big Book Walk through south Fylde was led by the Friends of St Annes Library, two weeks after the Friends of Ansdell Library staged a ‘read-in’ to protest at the proposals. The Ansdell Friends, who also took part in the walk, are following up with a public meeting tomorrow.”
  • Lancashire – Fighting to keep libraries open – Chorley Guardian. “People of all ages walked from libraries in Coppull, Eccleston and Adlington on Saturday morning.”
  • Lancashire – Protest against cuts to libraries gathers pace – Lytham St Anne’s Express. “Just days after hundreds of library users staged a walk from St Annes to Ansdell and Lytham to make their point as 40 of Lancashire’s 74 libraries face being closed, some 80 Ansdell residents people attended a public meeting over the threat to the village’s library.”
  • Leeds – Leeds libraries open new chapter in city campaign – Morley Observer. “A total of 36 libraries across Leeds launched the #Whatsyourstory campaign last year in the hope of encouraging more people to use their free services and workshops” … “Jean and Bill’s own personal stories really do highlight how varied our programme is at your local library, and why it is not always what people might expect. “
  • Lincolnshire – Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics – Secret Librarian. “it would seem that before the Council Executive hand the library service over to the outside organisation they are attempting to have one last almighty propaganda campaign to justify their ill thought out actions. To that end they have falsified the increased opening hours of the service by claiming that after transforming the majority into volunteer-led community hubs, an extra 130 hours to services has been added. However the opening hours of smaller libraries had already been reduced substantially so of course there has been an increase but not nearly by as much as the Council Executive are maintaining. It is like the classic supermarket wheeze in that they double the prices, halve them back to where they were before and then claim they have been reduced by fifty per cent.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire libraries open 130 extra hours a week after volunteer take-over – Lincolnite. “As part of these plans, the authority has been working with local groups to develop a network of more than 30 community hubs. Nearly all of the hubs are now open, with the final few set to come on line over the coming months. As a result, these sites are now open for an additional 131.5 hours each week (up from 479 to 610.5) – an increase of more than 27%.. Among the success stories is Spilsby Library, which has seen its opening hours more than treble following its move to Lincolnshire Co-op’s nearby food store.
  • Orkney – Stop the Cuts – Mobile Libraries are Vital – Lin Anderson. “Like the Highlands of Scotland, Orkney has a scattered population, many of whom rely on the mobile library service, which is currently under threat of cuts. The main library in Kirkwall does a great job in reaching out to their community, and indeed to the wider world. “
  • Suffolk – Building Wellness through Reading – Suffolk Libraries. “The event will provide schools with a solid framework for building a reading culture to help secure wellness and good mental health amongst students. Through its increasing work with schools and commitment to boosting literacy levels and encouraging reading for pleasure, Suffolk Libraries is ideally placed to draw on its contacts and expertise to host this one-day event.”
  • West Berkshire – Libraries being kept open because council told it has to – Newbury Today. “Government tells council it would be acting illegally if it had pressed ahead with plans to close eight libraries” … “Today, council papers seem to reveal why – the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) have told the council it would be breaching its statutory duty if it was to do so. Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act, the council has a statutory duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service”. There had been questions from campaigners and members of the public as to whether keeping just one library open could be considered as a comprehensive and efficient service. It appears they were right with council papers published at 2pm yesterday afternoon revealing that the council  would be “failing” in its duty if it closed eight libraries.”

“The council will fail in its equality duty, and also statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service under the Public Libraries and Museums Act if it proceeds with a major reduction in its Libraries service without due process. “I recommend the proposal be reconsidered so that libraries are retained pending the outcome and recommendations of an independent Needs Assessment.””


  • West Berkshire – New £1.4m fund halt some West Berkshire library closures – BBC. “Libraries will receive £475,000 funding over two years, but will transition to a self-service system to save money. ” … “We need to be clear however that this money is a lifeline which will enable these services to move to a more sustainable funding model. In particular, it will allow us to work with partners, community groups and parishes to secure these services in the long term.””
  • West Berkshire – Temporary reprieve for six libraries facing closure – Newbury Today. “West Berkshire Council says £475,000 will ‘help’ keep some libraries open – for now – but two still set to close” … “Six of the district’s libraries are set to be given a temporary reprieve after West Berkshire Council proposed to make £475,000 of ‘transitional funding’ available to them- but two are still set to close. The council says the £475,000 – given to them by central government to help ‘soften’ the blow of the cuts – is only temporary and designed to allow those services affected more time to adjust. The council was proposing to close all but one of the district’s nine libraries and the mobile library service as part of its plan to save £17.5m in the next financial year – leaving just Newbury open.”