Reaction to opening hour cuts in Northern Ireland has been notably negative, as has the continuing dismay over the gigantic cuts to Lancashire. A news item I’ve noticed is that Norwich Millennium Library, one of the most popular libraries in the UK, has gone down the Open+ remote access route for some hours and sections. It’s a sign that the system is going to be used in all sizes of library, from the smallest to the largest. and that the market for it will be something that expands while the library budgets generally contract.

Finally, stand by to get angry as David Cameron explains away library closures to a ten year old boy as due to “technological change”.  Reactions to this from my Twitter feed, disregarding the several tweets including swear words (I’m shocked, you hear, shocked), include:

  • “So how about we shut the House of Commons library and replace it with computers?
  • “Not so – my local library was packed with people using computers AND books the other week”
  • “those who say ‘libraries antiquated/underused’ almost always those w/ no direct need/experience of libraries themselves”
  • “omg that man. Does he not realise libraries are more important than ever. shame on you.”
  • “Because, you know, people who can’t afford tech or need place to study don’t count”
  • “This will be where I point out we still have accountants despite the invention of calculators (for starters…..)”
  • “How sad! Wake up and see how both are important and essential. It should not be one or the other…”
  • “Doesn’t look as if Cameron realises that lots of poeple also need libraries to access technology
  • “If our PM visited them more often perhaps he’d understand how incorrect that is.”
  • “Libraries are about connecting with the community-Cameron can come to ours and assist those trying to get online.”

and, my personal favourite:

  • “”I have never lived in a small or disruptive household””


National news

  • Adults’ media use, particularly of the Internet, from Ofcom research – Alyson’s Welsh libraries blog. “Just over one in ten (13%) do not use the internet at all, which rises to 65% of those aged 75+, and 33% of 65-74s and 42% are in DE households. A third of internet users have never completed any government processes online; 16-24s, 65-74s, over-75s and DEs are less likely to access public or civic services online…”
  • Children’s questions for David Cameron – ITV. 10 year old boy asks the Prime Minister about cuts to libraries. David Cameron says that there is less need for them due to technological change.
  • My library by right – CILIP. New separate website. “You have legal rights to quality library services. But these rights are under threat. Libraries change lives and build stronger communities by helping people develop their literacy and skills, to get online and find employment. Campaign with us and stand up for My Library By Right
  • New Public Library Partnership to Inspire More People to Read – Society of Chief Librarians. “The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL), The Reading Agency and ASCEL have signed a strategic three-year partnership to enhance the public library service in England. Under the partnership agreement, the partners will aim to work together to co-deliver programmes that inspire more people to read, drive innovation and help secure investment needed for new projects.”

International news

  • China – Library opens new chapter in retiree’s life – Shanghai Daily. “The library, built just a year ago by a real estate developer and a renowned publishing company, boasts an exclusive section of the beach at Beidaihe, the nearest coastal resort to Beijing. Far from the concrete jungle and urban bustle, the seaside library with its picturesque views went viral last year with web users calling it “the loneliest library in the world.” Meng never expected to gain such distinction in the digital age. He retired in 2013 from a 30-year career in libraries. He is proud of being a librarian, as Chairman Mao, the idol of his generation [! – Ed.], did the same job at Peking University before leading China’s revolution.”
  • USA – New Librarianship Field Guide – David Lankes. “Just released in 2016 the Field Guide is written for front-line librarians and library science students. It is intentionally linear (unlike the Atlas) and accessible by a broad audience. It is loosely modeled as a text book with resources for teaching and discussing the field. It incorporates updated concepts of librarianship from the Atlas and libraries as institutions from Expect More without simply being a digest version of both.”

Local news by authority

  • Bracknell Forest – Tell Bracknell council how it should run your libraries – Get Reading. “A public consultation about library usage begins on Monday, May 23, at a time when four of the nine borough libraries are believed to be under threat.
  • Ceredigion – Optimism over library’s future – Cambrian News. Volunteers may work alongside paid staff in order to keep Llandysul Library open.
  • Glasgow – Meet Glasgow’s newest library members – tiny triplets Poppy, Caleb and Alyssia – Evening Times. “Bringing triple the fun to Glasgow’s libraries, the tots are the first triplets to sign up to the city’s Every Child a Library Member scheme. And they have visited Drumchapel Library for the first time armed with their very own library cards”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Full Council meeting ends in farce as residents are prevented from having say over library closures – Brixton Buzz. “The May Lambeth Full Council meeting was abandoned on Wednesday evening after library campaigners were asked by Madam Mayor to leave the public meeting at Elm Green School in West Norwood. Residents trying to stop Lambeth Labour from converting public libraries into gyms were unhappy at being unable to make a presentation to Full Council. This followed a request from Cllr Saleha Jaffer, the Mayor of Lambeth, to receive petitions.”
  • Lancashire – 100 stand outside Whalley library to voice their anger at County Council’s plan – Lancashire Telegraph. “Residents young and old were accompanied by several Ribble Valley councillors as well as Lancashire County councillors to try and save the service that was selected along with dozens of others across East Lancashire. “
  • Lancashire – Changes to where we provide your services – Lancashire Council. Complete list of proposed cuts to libraries and other services.
  • Lancashire – Consultation launched on county council property plans – Lancashire Council. “Lancashire County Council is asking people for their views on plans to change the way frontline services are delivered and save millions of pounds by reducing the number of buildings the council owns and rents. A 12-week consultation starts today (Wednesday 18 May) on plans to bring services together to form a network of multi-functional buildings known as Neighbourhood Centres, which would provide a base for a range of different services in one place”
  • Lancashire – Politically Correct by Howard Ballard – Gazette. Conservative blames Labour for spending money before 2010, wishes for council to spend reserves to keep libraries open now, looks at alternatives such as in York so “These libraries are now thriving, offer additional services, with more staff and a secure future. This is what we want to replicate in Wyre, it is just a shame the grand political statement of Lancashire County Council is to say NO outright putting politics before people”
  • Lancashire – Public inquiry threat over libraries – Blackpool Gazette. “Conservative Paul Maynard, who represents Blackpool North and Cleveleys has urged County Hall bosses to get around the table and discuss proposals to keep all Wyre branches open. And he warned he may refer the authority to culture secretary John Whittingdale as a last resort. Mr Maynard believes Lancashire’s proposed closures impacting on libraries in Thornton and Cleveleys as well as centres in Ansdell, Fairhaven, Kirkham and Lytham, may constitute a breach of the 1964 Public Libraries Act.”
  • Lancashire – Rossendale council boss Alyson Barnes clashed with county hall leaders over library closures – Rossendale Free Press. “Rossendale council chief Alyson Barnes clashed with her county hall colleagues in a row over proposed closures to libraries and community buildings.”
  • Norfolk – Millennium Library will close earlier and introduce automated system following budget cuts – EDP. “People will need to sign up for a new automated security system, Open +, to access the first floor of the library between 8am to 9am in May, and between 8am to 10am in June, using their library card and a unique personal identification number. Margaret Dewsbury, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, said: “This new arrangement is a solution to the decision taken by the county council in February, when we set the authority’s budget, to make savings at the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library.”
  • North Lanarkshire – Axe falls on libraries and community centres in Airdrie and Coatbridge – Daily Record. “Users of four Monklands community facilities which are earmarked to shut following Culture NL budget cuts have hit out over the impending closures.” … “One of the groups based at Bargeddie hall is the area’s Ringcraft group, who hold weekly dog-training classes as well as hosting an annual show plus special and charity events.”
  • Northern Ireland – Anger over plans to cut NI library hours – UTV. “Libraries NI has proposed a reduction from 54 and 50 hours to 45 hours accordingly, in order to make savings. A consultation on the matter will be held from 17 May to 17 July. The public services union Unison has called on the government to “think again” about implementing the cuts. Brian Ferguson said: “This is the third round of cuts to library opening hours since the inception of the Northern Ireland Library Authority.”
  • Northern Ireland – Derry Central Library cuts branded ‘mean and counter-productive’ – Derry Journal. “People Before Profit has denounced the proposed cuts, stating that this follows on from the slashing of the budget for buying new books, a stop to the filling of vacancies and a halt to most maintenance work in 2014. Foyle MLA Eamonn McCann said a programme of cuts two years ago also involved the withdrawal of cover for sickness, annual leave and attendance at training courses.”
  • Northern Ireland – Opening hours set to be cut at city library – Lisburn Today. “Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has reacted angrily to proposals by Libraries NI to reduce opening hours at Lisburn City Library. Lisburn City Library at Linenhall Street only opened ten years ago but could have its hours cut for the second time in a year.”
  • Staffordshire – Lichfield Library and Friary debate at Staffordshire County Council today – Lichfield Mercury. “…the Green Party branded the scheme “scandalously undemocratic”, claiming that the plan will be compromised because of size differences between the buildings, and that selling the Friary site to a private developer is not in the public interest. Party chair Robert Pass set up the Save Lichfield Library petition, which has now been formally verified as containing 5,562 Staffordshire signatures – enough to trigger a debate at the county council on May 19.”
  • West Berkshire – New funding fear over Hungerford library – Newbury Today. The “immediate survival of Hungerford Library has been plunged back into doubt. Transitional funding was hoped to have secured its future for the next two years. But now it is claimed that much of the cash could be eaten up by red tape instead. West Berkshire Council was proposing to close eight of the district’s nine libraries – leaving just Newbury open – due to a £17.5m cut to its funding by the Government. Then, in March, it announced it was using £475,000 of ‘transitional funding’ to give six of them, including Hungerford’s, a temporary stay of execution after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) told the council it had a statutory duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service”. The DCMS further told the council it would have to complete a detailed needs assessment before approving its proposals. It was widely understood that the transitional funding would help to keep Hungerford Library open for two years while alternative funding, staffing and training arrangements were made. But at a full meeting of Hungerford Town Council a spokeswoman for Friends of Hungerford Library (FoHL), newly co-opted town councillor Helen Simpson, told colleagues: “We’ve now been told that most of the transitional funding will be spent on the needs assessment.” [That is one expensive risk assessment – Ed.]