After an impressive 24,000 votes were cast in a Money Saving Expert Poll, 89% said that libraries were crucial.  That’s pretty impressive and shows that politicians – and certain media (I’m looking at you Jeremy Vine) – may not be entirely with the public when they question the role of the public library in the modern age. I’d also recommend them watch, an excellent TedX talk by Laurinda Thomas, former president of LIANZA in New Zealand, which demolishes such superficial shows and points out how important libraries are for communities. Perhaps Shropshire also need to have a look (and perhaps even more of a look at what constitutes as legal), being it took local users going to the courts to stop them moving Church Stretton Library where the locals did not want it moved. The worrying thing here is, like in West Berkshire, it looks like the council failed to do its legal homework properly before trying to cut costs. Obey the law, guys, it’s kind of expensive otherwise. Finally, our colleagues school libraries were feeling the media focus as unions asked for them to be included in OFSTED inspections in order to protect them.  Finally? Well, perhaps not quite, as I recommend to you the continuing twitter feud between Orkney and Shetland Libraries.  It’s the social media gift that keeps giving.


National news

The other 11% are just plain misinformed

The other 11% are just plain misinformed

  • Future Makespaces – Royal College of Art. “We have 25k to fund a feasibility study about makespaces, redistributed manufacturing and policy or supply chains. So now’s a good time to commit that idea to paper and firm up your possible research team…”
  • Libraries, and why I think they matter – Den of Geek. “Once you adopt the town library as your refuge, you’re paired for life. The relationship you start with that municipal brick building will outlast every other. Boyfriends, girlfriends, best friends and spouses will drift in and drift out, but the sense of inner calm you derive from functional shelving and plastic-coated paperbacks never leaves. You’re a library dweller, a literal card-carrying member”
  • ‘Occupy Carnegie’: The UK’s Fast-Growing Library Crisis – Publishing Perspectives. “For many outside the United Kingdom, it’s hard to understand how the land of Shakespeare and the Shelleys can possibly be closing libraries. The BBC’s assessment of the situation, out less than a week ago, cites 343 UK libraries closed; the government’s estimate is 110. Either way, something has gone wrong when a nation of such literary magnitude watches a reported 25 percent of its library jobs disappear in six years’ time. In the case of London’s Herne Hill protest, it’s anticipated that a court order will be sought to evict the demonstrators. “
  • Scottish librarians just re-ignited a social media war in ‘the greatest Twitter beef ever’ – Mirror. “See, it seems librarians in Orkney have been blessed with that all-important blue tick on Twitter, showing that their account is verified. But, as they’ve quite smugly pointed out, Shetland’s library doesn’t have one yet.” see also Incredible Twitter feud between remote Scottish libraries reignites  – Twitter.
  • School librarians report ‘books in skips’ as union urges Ofsted to inspect resources – Schools Week. “School libraries should be inspected by Ofsted, a union has ruled, as a group representing school librarians reported declining membership and books “ending up in skips”.” see also Teachers call for Ofsted to check school libraries to stop them closing – Mirror and Too many school libraries ‘face cuts or closure’ – BBC. “One head teacher decided “all reading can be done on iPads,” a delegate told the Association of Teachers and Lecturers’ annual conference” and Teachers’ union votes for school library Ofsted inspections – BookSeller. “Of the education staff who responded to the survey, 94% said their school had a library but 41% said the library did not have enough space. Nearly a third (32%) said they did not have a librarian. Another delegate at the conference, Lesley Mumbray-Williams, said her school got rid of its library stock when they dispensed with her services as a librarian. Having a library in a school, unlike in a prison, is not currently a statutory requirement and authors and teachers have for a long time warned about the effect this ruling will have on children’s literacy.”
  • TSO and parliamentary papers – CILIP. “Following on from our recent commentary, “Legal Deposit and Access to Parliamentary Papers” – we have received this press release from TSO, which is reproduced here in full.”
  • Will you miss your local library if it’s shut down? – Money Saving Expert. “Councils across the country are cutting library budgets and even closing them in an effort to make savings. In the last six years alone, 343 council-run libraries have closed, leading to the loss of nearly 8,000 jobs. Some say in the internet age a library is no longer a necessity – then again, some visit it to access the internet. Do you love your library or not even know where it is? What’s the closest to your view..?

International news

  • Denmark – Open libraries: Self service libraries – The Danish way – Jan Holmquist. “An “open library” is a library with a combination of hours staffed with professional librarians and hours with self-service. That combination has proved itself successful because the result is more loans and lots of more visits to the library. In Denmark we have a lot of happy library fans using open libraries. Some are people who now use their local library instead of the main library. We know a lot of people commuting to jobs now have a better opportunity to use the library than they did before. We also know open libraries have reached people who did not use the library before. Yay new library members – How wonderful is that?”
  • New Zealand – The Dangerous Myth About Libraries – TEDx Wellington. “Laurinda is an advocate for libraries as a human right that enable everyone to participate fully in society. She is a former President of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), and a Director on the Aurora Foundation’s Leadership Institute for Information Professionals. You’ll find her collecting, and happily busting myths about libraries.”
  • USA – Meet the man who is turning D.C. libraries into a national model – Washington Post. “Along with the usual collections and offices, the 460,000-square-foot space will include a rooftop garden atop a new fifth floor, two large performance areas, spaces for start-ups and students, a cafe and an interactive children’s reading room. A “maker space” filled with 3-D printers and laser cutters, dubbed the Fab Lab, has already opened. The price tag for the project is $198 million.”

“libraries are not their buildings,” but “engines of human capital.”

Local news

  • Barnet – Plans to maintain 14 library sites approved – Barnet Council. “Proposals which will maintain 14 library sites in Barnet have been given the go ahead by full council. At a meeting of full council on Monday 4 April members voted to approve the proposals which follow public consultation. The changes to the library service will see: 14 library sites retained, as well as the home, mobile and digital library services; • Increased opening hours at 10 sites through the use of new technology to enable a library to open unstaffed, as being trialled at Edgware Library; • Volunteering opportunities for individuals and community groups to help run their local library; • Increased income generated through greater commercial usage of library buildings to off-set the level of budget reductions.”
  • Bexley – Pictured: Bostall Library re-opens under community volunteers after Bexley Council cuts – This is Local London. “The first of the four libraries out-sourced by Bexley Council last year has finally re-opened, as a community run facility. Bostall Library, in King Harolds Way, Belvedere, risked closing for good when the council gave residents the option to step up and run the book haven or lose it forever”
  • Bristol – Library assistants in Bristol to go on strike over dispute with council – Bristol Post. “More than 90 members of trade union UNISON have balloted to walk out over an argument about the number of hours they are working, including weekends. Council reforms saw Eastville Library closed last week as part of the council’s cost-cutting measures. The council had initially planned to close seven libraries as part of controversial cutbacks, but backed down after widespread protests from members of the public, staff and councillors. The plan could have saved the council £500,000 from its budget”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – More Cheshire West libraries to introduce self-service – Chester Chronicle. Great Boughton, Barnton, Lache, Helsby and Hope Farm. see also Barnton Library to close next month for self-service technology to be installed – Northwich Guardian.
  • Darlington – MP visits Mount Pleasant primary school to hear children’s concerns about libraries – Darlington and Stockton Times. Jenny Chapman MP :” Pupils at Mount Pleasant Primary School have been campaigning against the potential closure of libraries across the town. Darlington Borough Council budget proposals suggest closing Cockerton and the mobile library and transferring resources from Crown Street Library into the Dolphin Centre, while putting the historic building on the market. Mount Pleasant children have put pen to paper to resist changes to the libraries they visit regularly, writing to council leader Bill Dixon to beg him to reconsider the plans.”
  • Devon – New Devon library service goes live – North Devon Gazette. “Libraries Unlimited, a community-owned social enterprise, takes over running the service from Devon County Council, which says it is business as normal for library users. The aim is to safeguard all 50 Devon libraries and to save £1.5million. It continues to remain responsible for the service, but now commissions its delivery from Libraries Unlimited.”
  • Lambeth – Authors support occupation of south London library in protest against closure – Guardian. “Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby and Colm Tóibín back action at Carnegie Library which has been occupied after closure by Lambeth council” … “Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby and Colm Tóibín are among more than 220 writers and illustrators who signed a letter with 24 hours of being asked to support the occupiers of Carnegie Library and condemn changes to Lambeth’s library service. Some of the signatories were present amid emotional scenes last Thursday at the closure of the Carnegie and Minet libraries.”
  • Lambeth – Library campaigners challenge GLL – Brixton Blog. “Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey and Pastor Lorraine Jones, director of the Dwayne Simpson Foundation, are two prominent local figures to have signed an appeal to GLL, Lambeth council’s leisure provider, to pull out of plans to turn two libraries into “healthy living centres”. They were joined by the occupiers of one of the two libraries, the Carnegie in Herne Hill who, in a statement, said the silence of GLL, a social enterprise company, was “baffling”. They said GLL (formerly Greenwich Leisure Limited) prided itself on being an ethical, community-oriented enterprise, but went on: “Yet it seemingly stands to benefit from a plan that deprives vulnerable people of a lifeline, while offering, instead, a gym facility that is not wanted and not needed”
  • Lambeth – Opinion: Lambeth council – This is why libraries are important – Brixton Buzz. “They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and maybe this one perfectly sums up why libraries must not be closed or turned into sweaty, noisy and plain weird gym/unstaffed library hybrids.” … “This was the packed scene in the Brixton Tate Library upstairs room at 5.25pm today as people gathered to study in a quiet, comfortable and safe environment. Just out of sight, a queue of people were being offered expert advice and information from one of the librarians, while downstairs there were equally busy scenes” … “Above is the empty Minet Library, now completely deserted after Lambeth Council closed the community facility last Thursday.” … “A notice outside the library tells people that the library is now closed but will open as a ‘healthy living centre’ (whatever that is) sometime in 2017. Whether they mean Jan 2017 or December 2017 no one knows.  Lambeth aren’t interested in divulging the details”
  • Lancashire – Lending a hand to libraries – Lancashire Evening Post. “Go round the county and you will find libraries now opening their doors to choirs, healthy living, stop smoking, weight management and dementia groups, Baby Bounce, crafter and IT learners, to name but a few of the groups that use the library. Silence, it seems, is no longer golden.”

“Church Stretton library campaigners have won their legal battle with Shropshire Council over its decision to relocate the town’s library. Shropshire Council conceded to the campaigners’ demands yesterday moments before the case was due to be heard by the High Court in Birmingham.  The council agreed that their decision in March 2015 to close the town centre library and relocate it on the edge of the town to be run by Church Stretton School should be quashed. The judicial review had been listed for three days amid claims of unfairness and serious breaches of the law by council officials.

Last year, Church Stretton resident Andrew Williams, supported by the Church Stretton Library Support Group (CSLSG), initiated a judicial review of the council’s decision. The relocated library would have been over half a mile outside of the town, meaning residents would have had to travel further to access the free library service. Campaigners instructed one of the leading experts in Administrative and Public Law, Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors. Michael Imperato has acted for individuals and campaign groups in a number of high profile judicial review cases, against national and local government, over the last few years.

In the past, Mr Imperato has successfully worked with Rhydyfelin Library Support Group to save their local library in South Wales. He also helped the residents of Rhoose, a village in the Vale of Glamorgan, take their legal challenge against the potential closure of their local library to the High Court. Felicity Thomas, a CSLSG campaigner, said: “We are delighted that Shropshire Council has decided not to defend its earlier decision to relocate the library, thus saving taxpayers the cost of having the case proceed. We look forward to taking part in the new consultation.

“We wish to thank our legal team, Mr. Nicholas Bowen QC, Mr. Michael Imperato and Graeme Hall of Doughty Street Chambers, and especially all of the members of the Church Stretton community, who provided us with the moral, financial and physical support that enabled us to achieve this victory.” Michael Imperato, partner of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors, said: We are delighted to have won our case. We have worked tirelessly to demonstrate that Church Stretton Library should remain in its current location and that the council’s decision was legally flawed. We are working with the council and its lawyers now to reach a final agreement following their acknowledgment yesterday that the decision should be quashed. There are a few fine details still to agree with the council as to how any future decisions on the library might be considered. It is a great result for residents as it now means that they can still access the free library service easily.

“Had Shropshire Council progressed its plans to move the library to Church Stretton Academy School, library users would have had to travel further. There were also safeguarding issues about sharing a public library with a school that the council never satisfactorily addressed, the Judge himself commented upon these issues when sanctioning the settlement.

“This is an important legal victory as the council conceded it had not properly fulfilled its statutory duties under the public libraries and museums act, nor the localism act. It is an example of how local campaigners can use the law to save and preserve important local services” Shropshire – Campaigners win legal battle against Shropshire Council ‏ – Church Stretton Library Campaign (press release).

  • Swansea – ​Chat show host Jeremy Vine told to shelve library talk – South Wales Evening Post. “Any librarians listening to the Jeremy Vine phone-in show on Radio 2 recently would have been forgiven for wanting to say “quiet please!” as the host appeared to be less than supportive of their profession. Whether deliberately playing devil’s advocate or not, Vine questioned the need for librarians in an age when the internet is king and books appear to be heading for nostalgia section. At one point, Vine told a librarian “I know there is a complicated system which means you put Agatha Christie on the second shelf,” before adding: “Computers can do it, they can shelve the stuff and they can find it for us.” … “One Swansea Valley-based librarian told the Evening Post: “I listened to the programme and thought that it was a bit harsh, we do far more than stack books. You only have to look at the library service’s website to see the range and breadth of services that libraries provide.”
  • West Berkshire – Were council’s library closure proposals legal? – Newbury Today. “Council sidesteps questions over whether it would have been in breach of its statutory duty” … “It is still no clearer as to whether West Berkshire Council’s original proposals to close eight of the district’s nine libraries was legal. Under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, local councils have a statutory duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient library service’. The council last week admitted it had to take advice from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) during the public consultation period due to the “vague nature” of the Act.”