Big protests in Lancashire and Lambeth against library cuts have taken place, with the London one benefitting from the prevalence of celebrities that live in or near the capital. The situation in Lancashire is worsening, with several branches having temporary reduced hours due to shortages of staff.  Hollowing out what used to be one of the best library services in the country is clearly continuing apace. No less than 40 of its branches (one fifth of all libraries places under threat in the last year) will soon turn volunteer or close.

The DCMS reply to queries over the number of libraries being under threat was very interesting. Basically, because CIPFA only asks for the number of service points each library authority has open, the argument is that one cannot tell how many have closed.  So, if there are 4000 branches one year and 3900 the next, one can’t say definitively that 100 have closed.  It’s possible that one (or five or ten) new library has come online meaning the figure could be 101 (or 106 or 111) have closed, therefore one cannot – the argument seems to go – use the CIPFA figures. It’s an interesting argument and one that shows the weakness in the CIPFA figures and has, of course, nothing to do with a political desire to underplay what is happening.  A better way needs to be made to keep count.

Finally, a beautiful story from Orkney Libraries, whose award-winning Twitter account was responsible for JK Rowling travelling there to attend a reading group. Major credit to the Orkney Twitterer and also, of course, to the wonderful JK Rowling.  Watch out, incidentally, for the new book “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” – it’s slated as coming in as adult non-fiction, which is unlikely to be where users will look for it on the shelves.



National news

  • A cynic is what an idealist calls a realist – Question Everything. Comments on situation in Oxfordshire, moves on to noting serious decline in issues of Walcot library in Swindon when it became volunteer and finally asks for user representation on the Libraries Taskforce.
  • A free book fair game for kids to delight in – Playing by the book. “Shortly before Christmas last year Matt and I finally managed to meet up in person and when we did so he let me in on a new project of his – an incredible multi-player game he’s devised that gets kids and grown ups really excited about books, whether drawn from a library’s collection or with a bookseller’s stock. I knew straight away I wanted to somehow make this game happen wherever possible and so I’m truly delighted that today I get to tell the world about it, and share it with you all.” Full instruction on how to play the game here.
  • Ed Vaizey accused of giving Commons ‘misleading’ figures on library closures – Guardian. “Librarians’ association writes open letter expressing ‘strong objections’ to statistics cited by culture minister in February” … “A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the numbers used by Vaizey were “the most accurate statistics available to answer the specific question”, adding that “his answer clearly includes library relocations” and “does not claim to be a ‘net reduction’”. The spokesperson also said the department regularly uses Cipfa statistics, citing Vaizey’s inclusion of them the following day, on 24 February, in reply to a question from Conservative MP Dr Andrew Murrison about library closures in his constituency of Wiltshire. “We did not [use Cipfa statistics] on 23 February as they do not record closures and openings of libraries dating back to 2010. They record the net figure for libraries in the statutory services of local authorities,” the spokesperson said.”
  • ‘End of the beginning for e-books’ says Tamblyn – BookSeller. “Tamblyn highlighted the “steady state” of digital sales in the publishing industry, with e-book sales now “cruising nicely” between 20% and 30% of all book sales”

“We now have four ways to sell a book: bricks and mortar, print, audiobook and e-book, and none of them are going anywhere.”

  • Franklin: low literacy levels ‘a national disgrace’ – BookSeller. “Profile m.d. Andrew Franklin has spoken out again to condemn library cuts, telling Publishing Scotland’s annual book conference that “shameful” destruction of libraries in the UK, alongside cuts to education in England and Wales, constituted a “a crime against humanity” that we will “pay the price” for over the years to come. Delivering the keynote speech at the Edinburgh event yesterday (Thursday 25th February), Franklin referenced heavy cutbacks in Ayrshire, saying: “If libraries go – like bookshops – whole communities suffer and, as always, the poor, the most. A strong literary culture – a strong society in fact – needs well-funded libraries with properly paid professional staff.””
  • JK Rowling gave a Scottish library a marvellously magical surprise – Radio Times.  Orkney Twitter invites JK Rowling to reading group after she tweets them, bribes her with cake, JK Rowling makes trip to the Orkneys and joins ten-strong reading group for the afternoon. Seriously.
  • ‘Libraries are vital to freedom of speech’ – BookSeller. “Rachael Jolley, editor of global freedom of expression magazine, Index on Censorship, has spoken out about the growing importance of public libraries for freedom of expression saying “at the heart of any library is the idea of a freedom to think and discover”. Speaking at the Library and Democracy conference for the Swedish Library Association this week, Jolley argued that “libraries and those who support them have often been defenders of the right to knowledge” highlighting that throughout history, freedom of speech, thought and debate have been used by the “less powerful to challenge the powerful”.”
  • Vaizey accused of issuing ‘flawed’ figures on library closures – BookSeller. “Ed Vaizey is quoted in Hansard responding to the question: “Based on desk research undertaken by the department, we estimate that from January 2010 to January 2016 approximately 110 static public libraries in England closed and at least 77 new public libraries have opened, including relocations to new buildings.” However, figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) indicate that there were 3,043 libraries in England in 2009-10 and 2,865 in 2014-15, a net reduction of 178. This compares to a net reduction of 33 claimed by Ed Vaizey. CIPFA carry out an annual survey of local authorities in Great Britain asking questions about the number of library service points, opening hours, staffing, expenditure and usage.”
Rhianwen Long won Library Marketing Champion of the Year – nominated by Jane Sellwood (Principal Librarian Merthyr and Current Chair of SCL Wales)

Rhianwen Long won Library Marketing Champion of the Year – nominated by Jane Sellwood (Principal Librarian Merthyr and Current Chair of SCL Wales)

  • Who would be a librarian now? You know what, I’ll have a go – Guardian. “I love the internet: its ability to navigate through information is a miracle of our time. But it is just as chaotic and alienating as the real world. It’s not a safe place – you’re just sitting and staring at a screen. A public library – any library, really – is more than that. “… “Libraries have been a safe zone for me, a kind of emotional and intellectual ground zero for the past 15 years.”

“I walked into a library as a young child and fell into a world bigger than anything I could have imagined.”


  • CILIP in Scotland Conference 2016 – CILIPS. “The CILIP in Scotland Conference is returning to Dundee after 4 sold out years in a row and once again has a packed programme full of speakers from a variety of sectors and countries. The Conference is hosted by CILIP in Scotland President and award winning author Theresa Breslin and the theme this year is ‘Making Connections’. Event programme and speaker profiles

International news

  • Canada – Virtual Reality in the Library: Creating a New Experience – Public Libraries Online. ” Are virtual reality labs, tours, and workshops the next step for libraries? The answer is a solid maybe as the technology develops and makes its way out of gaming and movies and into education and everyday experiences.” … “Samsung Gear VR Samsung offers a relatively affordable virtual reality system powered by your phone. The advantage it has over many others is that it was developed with Oculus, and uses apps available exclusively to that operating system. The clear disadvantage is that it works only with certain Samsung phones, at least so far.” … “Google Cardboard By far the simplest and most varied of devices; there are several variations of Google Cardboard on the market, and several templates available online that can be 3D printed.”
  • Indonesia – Luna, the horse, delivers books in Indonesian village – Al Jazeera. “Arsuka donated 136 children’s books as a start, and Sururi took them around on his white mare, Luna. Now, with more and more people having heard of Kudapustaka thanks to social media as well as local and international media coverage, the number of books donated has reached the thousands.”
  • USA – Library adds exercise bikes – Tropolitan. “The newest enhancement to a series of library renovations and technology upgrades at the Troy campus includes new FitDesk exercise equipment, according to Christopher Shaffer, dean of libraries. With a flat desk design on top, it allows students to read books or use laptops while using the bike to exercise. The bike also has equipment for working out the upper body.”
  • USA – Man Up: Attracting the Male Patron – Public Libraries Online. “I read in awe, as many others did, about the Books and Butchers program, where approximately eighty patrons at the Johnson Public Library (KS) watched a local butcher cut up a half pig. From the photographs, one could see the program attracted a predominantly adult male audience (some with their wives). It is that type of gutsy programming we need to keep our young men involved in the library. The makerspace, fabspace, STEM, STEAM, and gaming movements provide a plethora of programming ideas that keep boys moving, spark creativity and engage young minds.”
  • USA – Moving Forward with Libraries Transform – American Libraries. “Quite a buzz was generated at the 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting by Libraries Transform, ALA’s new multi-year public awareness and advocacy campaign. “Because” statements and a new video were widely displayed throughout the convention center, and attendees were quick to find messaging that resonated and to decide to use the campaign in their libraries. ” … “ALA is seeking stories of library transformation to showcase and share. An expanded (and growing) toolkit offers messaging, programming ideas, social media tools, downloadable art, a link to products available through the ALA Store, and more, all in order to make it easy for library professionals to get involved, and to connect the campaign to existing initiatives such as National Library Week “
  • USA/Sweden/Other – Rachael Jolley: Threats to reaching knowledge: why libraries play a vital role – XIndex.  Speech from “Libraries and Democracy conference in Umea, Sweden. “That’s why public libraries, open to all and funded from the public purse, are so important. Their existence helped the many get access to what the few had held close to their chests; information, literature, inspiration” … “conquering armies have looked to destroy libraries and museums” … “Libraries and those who support them have often been defenders of the right to knowledge. Because at the heart of any library is the idea of a freedom to think and discover.”

“Librarians are much needed as valuable guides: to help students and other readers to learn techniques to sift information, question its validity and measure its importance. To understand what to trust and what to question; and that all information is not equal.”

Local news by authority

  • Argyll and Bute – Pupils from Scottish islands of Mull and Iona launch video to save their school librarian – Herald Scotland. “The youngsters from the islands of Mull and nearby Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, launched the campaign after council chiefs voted to axe the school librarian at Tobermory High School – a post currently held by Sue Penny. The move is part of a wider fight to save school librarians and the mobile library service across Argyll and Bute after the council cut them as part of a savings package of £10 million.”
  • Argyll and Bute – Russell cites ‘failures in decision making process’ in asking Council to reconsider cutting Library services – For Argyll. “Argyll and Bute’s SNP MSP, Michael Russell,  has asked Argyll & Bute Council to reconsider the recent decision of the ruling administration ‘to fire all school librarians and remove the four library vans presently in use’ because of failures in the decision making process. The MSP is expressing concern that the Council now risks breaking the law.”
  • Barnet – Eight-year-old boy writes poem on why East Finchley library should be saved – This is Local London. “East Finchley is just one of the many libraries across London and the UK facing staffing and financial cuts. Here is what Fergus wrote: Because there were no books, There was no learning …”
  • Barnet – Young readers protest proposed Barnet library cuts on World Book Day Barnet and Whetstone Press. “The children dressed up as characters from the popular children’s Dr Seuss books for their protest outside East Finchley Library today on World Book Day. They will be gathering outside the library in East Finchley High Road to draw attention to their concerns. Campaigner Emily Burnham, whose three children use the library said: “We are staging the protest ahead of the council’s decision on the future of libraries on March 23. She said parents were concerned that if proposals for “technology enabled opening” with reduced staffing got the go-ahead children would be excluded from using the libraries”
  • Bradford – Bradford South MP joins fight against major cutbacks to district’s libraries – Telegraph and Argus. “Bradford South Labour MP Judith Cummins is urging Labour-led Bradford Council to rethink its proposals to close all but seven libraries, if volunteers are not found to run them. Across the district, library opening hours and the money spent on books would also be cut, in moves to save more than £300,000 over the next two years. There has been particular anger to the proposals in Mrs Cummins’ constituency, which would see all its libraries either become voluntary organisations or close.”
  • Bridgend – Online resources award for libraries – Barry Today. “Bridgend Library and Information Service, which is managed by Awen Cultural Trust, a new not-for-profit organisation, was selected from over 40 entries from libraries, museums and archive services across Wales for their successful ‘e-Promo’ campaign.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Hollingbury residents to get two libraries in rejig of cut proposals – Argus. “Plans to close the Hove Library in Church Road and move services into Hove Museum put back to start of 2018.” … “Hollingbury Library in Brighton will have its book collection divided between Hollingbury and Patcham Children’s Centre and the Old Boat Community Centre as part of amended plans following a public consultation. ” … “”This is not so much a reversal but rather a positive outcome of the consultations on the Libraries Plan.” “
  • Buckinghamshire – Council may wash its hands of running libraries in Bucks – Bucks Free Press. “Buckinghamshire County Council says “severe pressure” on budgets in the coming three years means the county library service must save at least £1 million. Opening hours at council-run libraries have already been cut in previous cost-saving measures. Library Service Manager David Jones says the department, which has already found £2m savings in the past six years, need to look more radically at the way things are done to save more money.” see also Big shake-up ahead for Bucks libraries in an effort to balance the books – Buckingham Today. “Library service manager David Jones said that while continuing libraries as they were was the lowest risk option, they wouldn’t be able to make as many savings or generate as much income as commissioning externally.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Turning libraries into charities could save them, says expert – Bucks Free Press. “Brian Furner, chairman of The Friends of High Wycombe Library, said: “Making the libraries into charity trusts is probably the most favourable option of the three. “I think privatising the libraries would not wash with the public but it can’t carry on as it is – we are going downhill and libraries are facing further cuts. “When High Wycombe library opened they had 70 staff – now they have 40 and only ten of those are permanent. “At the moment I don’t think many staff are getting job satisfaction. I think putting more responsibility in their hands would improve moral. “It would also give more flexibility for the libraries to respond to the public’s changing needs if they were more independent.””
  • Cambridgeshire – Sponsorship and overhaul of Cambridge Central Library under plans to make libraries more commercial – Cambridge News. “These will include approaching businesses to sponsor libraries around the county; overhauling the cafe at Cambridge Central Library to make it more commercial, as well as maximising the commercial potential of the central library’s third floor” … “The council’s plan for an ‘enterprise centre’ in partnership with private company Kora for the library’s third floor spectacularly fell apart last year after it emerged Kora’s director was disqualified from being a company director in the UK. This has left a hole of some £200,000 in the library service’s budget for the next financial year, although many councillors and campaigners were dubious as to whether this income could be achieved. And much of the proposed restructuring of the layout of library’s third floor under Kora’s plan is now largely set go ahead.”
  • Cornwall – Penryn Town Council faces £40,000 maintenance bombshell if it takes over the library – West Briton. “A full condition survey of the library, which was undertaken following a town council request in December, found multiple problems with the building.” … “Penryn Town Council clerk Michelle Davey told councillors that Cornwall Council had confirmed the issues with the boiler would be resolved prior to the transfer. She said: “In addition, there are a number of funding sources for devolution projects that could contribute towards the cost of the required works.”
  • Croydon – Job losses and volunteer libraries leaves us feeling let down – Inside Croydon. “Public library provision is a statutory requirement for local authorities such as Croydon. But they also represent a soft target when councils want to make cuts. Robert Gibson says that the funding announcement for Crystal Palace’s library is less than a “delight”” … “As a former Trustee I know the Upper Norwood Library Trust was never set up to be a fig leaf for cuts and a shift from a statutory provision of library service towards a volunteer-staffed community centre. As a community, we should mourn that this week’s announcement represents a reduction in service, staffing and funding and an admission from Croydon that it is moving away from statutory provision of library services for Upper Norwood, and across its borough.”
  • Fife – Councillor claims his vote buys time for Glenwood Library – Courier. “Bill Brown, chairman of the Glenrothes area committee, had been criticised for voting with the Labour administration on plans that could lead to 16 libraries in the region closing within the next 12 months. Mr Brown, an independent, has campaigned to save the library service in Glenwood. However, this too will close in March 2017 should a feasibility study to introduce a community run service, move to Glenwood High School or cut costs at the current site – Mr Brown’s preferred option – fall through.”
  • Glasgow – In Glasgow you’re never more than a mile from a Macmillan support service – Evening Times. Information centres have been set up in several Glasgow libraries.
  • Isle of Wight – It’s time to Fight for the Wight – Isle of Wight County Press. “With public services taking a terrible battering on the Isle of Wight, now is just such a time. Libraries, public toilets, council tax benefit and hundreds of jobs have been cut as the Isle of Wight Council teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. The County Press is teaming up with the Isle of Wight Council to launch a petition to government, calling on it to look again at the way the Isle of Wight is funded.”
  • Lambeth – Council to push on with library plans – Brixton Blog. “Lambeth council has revealed minor changes to plans for its 10 libraries, which had included turning three of them into gyms, the day before opponents will demonstrate against the plans.” … “Tate South Lambeth and Durning Library will both remain open until we can identify a permanent site for a town centre library for the north of the borough” … “Proposals for a “staff mutual” organisation to run the 10 libraries – an idea which has proved a success in York libraries – has been turned down.”. Laura Swaffield says

“Lambeth is unique. It is the only council in the entire UK that is paying far more to destroy its libraries than it would spend on saving them. “I have never seen anything as stupid as this” Laura Swaffield

Lambeth - 500 march, including celebrities Jay Rayner and Will Self.

Lambeth – 500 march, including celebrities Jay Rayner and Will Self.

“Lancashire County Council is responsible for delivering many services including primary schools, secondary schools, providing support for vulnerable children and older people, maintaining the county’s roads, disposing of waste and providing a stock of library books to the county’s libraries.” Finance Lancashire Council. [Lancashire seriously  downplaying their statutory duty for a comprehensive and efficient library service here – Ed.]

  • Lancashire – Hundreds protest against library closures – Lytham St Annes Express. “A ’read-in’ turned into a ‘read-out’ as hundreds of people rallied in Ansdell to show the strength of feeling against County Hall proposals to close more than half of Lancashire’s libraries. So many people turned out to the event organised by the Friends of Ansdell Library that it was held on the forecourt outside because it wasn’t possible to safely accommodate everyone inside the building.”
  • Lancashire – Reduced opening hours at some libraries in West Lancashire – Lancashire County Council. “There will be temporary reductions to opening hours of Skelmersdale, Ormskirk and Parbold libraries for a short time starting in March.” … “The reduced opening hours are due to staff shortages. “

“I suspect shortages partly due to staff signed off sick with stress plus other staff not having been replaced over last few years plus those deserting a sinking ship.  There’s no statutory breaks if you’re single staffing” Lancashire – Email received.

  • Lancashire – Temporary reduced opening hours at Leyland Library – Lancashire County Council. “The temporary change of opening hours is due to a staff shortage. “
  • Lancashire – Temporary changes to the opening hours at Upholland Library – Lancashire City Council. “The reduced opening hours are due to staff shortages.  “
  • Leicestershire – Barwell Library faces final chapter as closure confirmed – Hinckley Times. “Barwell library is to close on June 1 and be replaced by a weekly mobile service. Leicestershire County Council bosses approved the controversial cost-saving move at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. The area will be served by a weekly six hour mobile library service and it is hoped some of the IT facilities at the George Ward Centre can be retained if the building’s owners approve. Liberal Democrat county councillor Michael Mullaney, who fought to save the centre, said he was “very unhappy” at the decision and it was a “real loss” to the village.”
  • Merthyr Tydfil – Bring late books back with food gifts and be spared fines, say libraries – Guardian. “Taking heed of CS Lewis’s maxim that “eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably”, libraries in Merthyr Tydfil are waiving fines on late books for borrowers who donate food instead. The “food for fines” initiative, which gives borrowers the opportunity to see their penalties disappear if they donate food, will run through March, in conjunction with local charity Donation Station. “Why not declutter your house, pay off your library fines and contribute to a good cause all at once!” urged the Welsh town’s service, which will pass the food on for distribution to charities and local people in need.”

“Locals responded positively online to the scheme. “What a good idea. I’ve been too ashamed to show my face in the library since I lost a bag with books in about 15 years ago,” wrote one borrower on the libraries’ Facebook page. “I’m so pleased by this. I’m emptying my gran’s house and found overdue books from 2014. Been kind of worrying about them. Can bring them back and make a healthy donation now,” said another.”

  • Orkneys – Orkney librarian takes top accolade – Island News and Observer. “Stewart Bain, Orkney Library’s senior librarian has taken the accolade, awarded by the Publishers Publicity Circle. Stewart (pictured) is perhaps best known for being the man behind the popular Orkney Library Twitter feed which now has more than 22,000 followers from all over the world. He shares the award with Sam Everett, a librarian for the London Brough of Hillingdon. Stewart said: “I am delighted to be voted Librarian of the Year by members of the PPC. I have worked with some fantastic publicists over the past year to bring a number of top authors to Orkney. This award is recognition of the quality service provided by all staff at Orkney Library & Archive. It also highlights the vital role libraries play in promoting books and introducing readers to new authors.””
  • Shropshire – Shropshire Rural Library Community Engagement – West Mercia Police. “For the first time, Police Community Support Officers will join the Shropshire Mobile Library Service to visit villages and hamlets. The Mobile Library Service visits up to fifteen locations each day, include public houses, village halls and other community bases, in locations that would not routinely be visited by Police. On arriving at each location, PCSO’s will be available to meet with local residents to discuss any concerns, or carry out foot patrol” 
  • South Ayrshire – Council to shut and curb opening of hours of over a dozen libraries as cuts bite – Herald Scotland. “Three rural libraries, in Coylton, Dailly and Dundonald, will close completely. Ten others, at Alloway, Ballantrae, Carnegie, Forehill, Girvan, Maybole, Mossblown, Symington, Tarbolton and Troon, will have their hours reduced. In total, the moves will save the council less than £150,000. It said the near £10m it had to find was “the highest amount of savings the council has had to deliver in any one financial year”.
  • Suffolk – Stradbroke Library Post Office wins libraries award – Suffolk Libraries. “Stradbroke Library’s post office has won a national libraries award. The library’s post office was announced as the winner of the ‘Social’ category in the EDGE library conference awards in Edinburgh on the evening of Thursday 3 March.” … “Monthly visits to the library have increased from just under 1,000 in 2013/14 to an average of about 2,700 per month for the current financial year so far.
  • Swindon – FoI Response – Swindon Borough Council | Walcot Library’s lending figures and paid staff input – What Do They Know. Walcot Library is now a volunteer library.  Issues declined from 4057 in 2009/10 to 1650 2014/15. Council pays for 10 hours per week library staff time.
  • Swindon – I am 100 per cent supportive of our local libraries, says MP – Swindon Advertiser. Justin Tomlinson MP uses the library: notes importance of books, Summer Reading Challenge and internet usage. Hopes “innovative ideas” will save them in face of cuts.
  • Swindon – Library review raises concerns in Wroughton – Swindon Advertiser. Worries that ” the loss of the Wroughton Library building would lead to a number of community groups having to come to an end. Sally Speller is a member of one such group, which for a number of years has taught youngsters from Wroughton Infant School how to make ribbons.”
  • Warwickshire – New library at the heart of Southam – Courier. “Nao, the humanoid robot, encouraged onlookers to join their new library before performing its dance routine at the event last Friday.” … “Cllr Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council, said at the launch: “Southam has an incredibly strong community spirit, without which none of this would be possible, and that is why I am particularly proud to see Southam library return to the heart of the community – exactly where it belongs.”
  • Warwickshire – Our Warwickshire ‘Pop Ups’ – Come and take part in Nuneaton and Bedworth – Warwickshire Council. “Tell stories, create new artwork and help us build a brand new ‘Pop-Up’ Museum that celebrates Nuneaton, Bedworth and Warwickshire as a whole.  You will  also have a chance to add your stories or photos to the ‘Our Warwickshire’
  • West Berkshire – Charity condemns West Berkshire Council plans to cut ‘irreplaceable’ library services Get Reading. “members of Reading-based charity ABC to Read have described the plans as “incredibly disappointing” and are warning councillors about the detrimental impact high levels of illiteracy can have on communites.”

“These spaces are safe harbours for our children to learn and develop.”

  • West Berkshire – West Berkshire cuts: mums rally to save children’s centres – Get Reading. “Proposals to close Tilehurst and Burghfield children’s centres and Mortimer and Burghfield Common libraries have prompted petitions and protests from local mums.”
  • West Sussex – ‘Evolution’ in our libraries – West Sussex County Times / Letters. Complains about Amazon lockers at libraries. “for some years now, our county council has accommodated a multinational firm – with, to say the least, a dubious UK tax record – to do business in its own premises. Presumably, this is the sort of ‘evolution’ that the Horsham MP approves of…. Would the county council be prepared to divulge how much rent Amazon pays to the Library Service for this facility and how much longer the contract has to run?”