More information has come out about the cuts in Lancashire. It’s pretty bad. The press release from the council is an unfortunate example of the best possible gloss being put on a bad situation, with the real needs of users (and the feelings of library staff, not to say their jobs) seemingly pretty much ignored. Canada is not a place I normally associate with deep cuts but it looks like the politicians in Newfoundland are trying to change that.  It’s heartening to see the national reaction, not to say revulsion, that this is causing in that country, though. So things may end differently there. We can hope so. Meanwhile, there’s a nice refurb in Bradford and an extension of the embarrassing closure in Hereford and something very interesting going on in a Malaysian airport …


National news

  • Bedtime Story Finder – Dreams. “UNESCO says that reading for pleasure is the single most important thing that will make a child successful in life, so The Sleep Matters Club teamed up with The Reader to make sure you’re never lost for choice on new bedtime stories! Select the categories you care most about to find the best picks for you, from our list of 150 brilliant bedtime reads.”
  • Book’s the thing – Librarian Theatre. “The Book’s the Thing” is Hamlet by William Shakespeare, but as it’s never been seen before. The show will tour UK libraries in Spring 2016, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A fast-paced hour-long play performed by a cast of 3, newly adapted from the original text by Tom Cuthbertson and Kelly Eva-May, “The Book’s the Thing” will make a great introduction to Elizabethan Text – and seasoned Shakespeare fans will love this refreshing new take on a classic too.”
  • Confessions of a book vandal: why I tear the endings out of library books – Guardian. “I have a confession. It’s of the serious and shocking variety – as all good confessions should be. I am a wanted man. Hunted by militant librarians across eleven counties. I am charged with the worst sort of library crime – defacing books. And I am utterly guilty. But sometimes, doing something wrong is the only right thing to do.” [In which a smug vandal shows he is doing fanfic seriously wrong … or it may all be tongue in cheek, one hopes – Ed.]
  • Disparity in cultural sector funding deprives regional museums, libraries and heritage sites – EurekAlert. “One key issue identified is the imbalance of governmental funding allocated to the cultural sector at a regional level, with London receiving more funding than the rest of the United Kingdom combined – leaving many regions’ facilities and programmes underfunded. “
  • Saturday Live: Mark Haddon – Radio Four. “Best known for writing multi prize winning novel The Curious Incident of the dog in the Nighttime, author and illustrator Mark Haddon will discuss his first book of short stories and getting writers block. Since 2009 a third of our public libraries have closed. Poet and model Greta Bellamacina joins us to talk about a film she’s made in support of The Library…”

International news

  • Canada – Boshra: Let’s not take Montreal’s public libraries for granted – Montreal Gazette. “Facing a $1 million budget cut introduced in an unpopular provincial budget presented last month by the governing Liberals, the library board of Newfoundland and Labrador recently announced it will close more than half of the province’s libraries — 54 of 95 branches — over the next two years. It’s a move that will leave many communities there without easy access to a library (and will cost 64 branch employees their jobs). Newfoundland Education Minister Dale Kirby has said most of the branches set to close were frequented by relatively few people, but a CBC investigation revealed that many of the targeted libraries, particularly in rural areas, are rather heavily used. The same austerity budget also introduced a new 10-per-cent tax on books sales, which, combined with the library cuts, has many Newfoundland and Labrador citizens and activists decrying their government for implementing such measures in a province with one of the lowest literacy rates in Canada.”
  • Canada – Get thee to a library: It’s more important than ever – Globe and Mail.  ” politicians have offered up a number of justifications. The most prevalent – and specious – argument is that technology has rendered libraries obsolete, and that libraries are now relics of the predigital age. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Libraries are not static repositories of physical books. Rather, they are knowledge hubs where people of all ages can seek out opportunities, collaborate, create, and learn” … “If you’ve been to a public library recently, chances are you’ve seen how vibrant and dynamic these public spaces are”

“Libraries are not a luxury to be cut when there is an economic downturn. Instead, we should be investing in libraries and learning commons as key social institutions that connect members of our communities and provide opportunities for creative collisions.”

  • Malaysia – Airport launches new library that offers free e-books to travellers – Star. “This smart facility operates through the use of Bluetooth beacon signals which work on the principles of geo-fencing micro-location technology. It communicates with passengers’ smartphone applications, allowing them to access a special virtual library of e-books. These e-books can be downloaded for free at KLIA and subsequently kept in private devices including smartphones for two days. Once the e-book has been downloaded, passengers are able to read the e-book even without Internet facilities, meaning they will be able to read it during a flight. This facility, which has 40 e-book beacons strategically placed within KLIA Main Terminal and KLIA2, is the first of its kind in the world.”
  • Ukraine – Ukrainian library offers exercise for both mind and body – Ukraine Today. “The youth will come. You know, the younger generation has grown not to know what a library is. Hopefully, we will remind them.” … The young people are actually attending the library now… And they’re not the only ones… the library is popular with visitors of any age. The gym here is free to anyone who has a library pass. But people’s motives to sign up are different. Some come to find a good book and exercise just for fun. Others, on the contrary, hit the gym first and then read the books to relax”
  • USA – Cory Doctorow: Peace In Our Time – Locus. “E-books are game-changers, but not in the way we all thought they would be. Far from taking over print, e-book sales have stagnated at less than a quarter of print sales and show every sign of staying there or declining for the foreseeable future.” … “The libraries’ fight is hamstrung by their lack of leverage. Library patrons want e-books, publishers are the only source of the e-books patrons want, and libraries have to give their patrons what they want.” … “Here’s my thought-experiment: what if libraries cloned Overdrive in free, open source code, which every library in the world could use, and which libraries could pay independent contractors to patch and improve. Rather than paying an annual fee for Overdrive that pays for the soft­ware and dividends to Overdrive’s investors, the libraries would adopt the model that has made Drupal and WordPress so successful: paying independent contractors for service and upkeep, and collectively shar­ing the benefits of the incremental improvements made through these transactions.”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – New look Shipley Library unveiled after eight-month refurbishment – Telegraph and Argus. “Extensive works include roof repairs, new carpets, new heating and new lighting, including a re-designed exhibition area. Meeting and conference rooms have also been repositioned and redecorated with the aim of encouraging more community groups to use them. And the wide-ranging improvements also include new electrical and heating systems which will reduce future running costs and ensure more efficient maintenance of the building.” … “Additional social services provided by Bradford Council will also be moved into the town centre building on Well Croft in a move to centralise staff. “

“I’m particularly looking forward to being able to walk down corridors without buckets in them to catch the water!” said Mrs Spiwak, who is a member of the Sugarcraft cake decorating club which used to meet at library. “

  • Herefordshire – Closed book: Hereford Library unlikely to open again until 2017 – Herefordshire Live. “It’s a pretty dire outlook for the Broad Street library and museum, which has been shut for eight months because of an asbestos scare, even with the campaigning Hereford Library Users Group (HLUG) working on plans to redevelop the site into a ‘cultural hub’. Herefordshire Council is expected to approve up to £500k of works towards the re-opening of the library next week – with the balance of the capital allocation being used as match funding for a redevelopment scheme, led by HLUG or another partner with an approved plan. The cabinet will also look at re-opening the library in the short term but, be warned book-lovers, that’s “pending a decision on longer term options for sustainable delivery of the museum and archive service”.
  • Lancashire – Anger as county reveals libraries and childrens centres hit list – Citizen. “More than 50 key council building including libraries and children’s centres across East Lancashire are set to close, it was confirmed last night.  The announcement by County Labour leader Jenny Mein yesterday provoked shock and outrage from politicians of all parties.  In total 54 of the authority’s buildings in Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Chorley are set to shut their doors within the next 12 months.”
  • Lancashire – Cabinet report outlines plans to transform services with fewer buildings needed – Lancashire County Council. “Lancashire county councillors are to consider 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. Lancashire County Council needs to save £200m by 2020/21 as a result of ongoing government cuts to its budget and rising demand for services. As part of implementing savings agreed by Full Council in February 2016, a report to the council’s cabinet proposes bringing 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. “

“The plans seek to ensure that people can still access the most popular services close to where they live. For example, most people, including those in rural areas, could access a Neighbourhood Centre with a library in it within 3 miles of where they live, while 95% of those who live in more densely populated areas would be within 2 miles of their nearest library service. The network of fixed library sites would be complemented by the council’s six mobile library vehicles, the home library service, and the very popular virtual library service which provides e-books and an online reference service.”

  • Lancashire – Lancashire libraries closure plan criticised by MP – BBC. “An MP has criticised plans to shut 29 libraries as part of a multimillion-pound cost cutting exercise. The proposals will see the number of libraries in Lancashire reduced from 73 to 44. Paul Maynard, who represents Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said he is angry alternatives have not been considered. A 12-week consultation is due to begin on the proposals, which will help save £200m by 2021 from the council’s overall budget. Mr Maynard, who led the campaign to save Cleveleys Library, said the formation of social enterprises to run the libraries “has proved successful” in other parts of the country.”
  • Lancashire – Library plans out this week – Lytham St Annes Express. “Before anything happens in September there will be another public consultation, so we urge residents to make their feeling known while they have time. It is in the council’s interest to know how people feel in order for us to have all the information we need before we make a decision. No final decision will be made until September. The information being made available to the public tomorrow is the list of which county council-owned buildings, including libraries, being recommended to be retained. The council’s cabinet will look at these recommendations at its meeting on Thursday, May 12 and give its views on the proposals.”
  • Lancashire – Preston and South Ribble library and children’s centres closures revealed – Blog Preston. “A library and two children’s centres in Preston are to be closed as part of a multi-million pound scaling back by the county council. Fulwood library, Preston East Children’s Centre and St Lawrence Children’s Centre may all be mothballed to save Lancashire County Council money. A consultation period will run for 12 weeks on the proposals, which would see the number of libraries in Lancashire cut from 73 to 44.”
  • Lancashire – Revealed: Libraries and services proposed to shut by LCC – Clitheroe Advertiser and Times. Includes full list.
  • Lancashire – Stop Lancashire’s tragic library & museum closures by proper government funding – UK.gov Petitions. “Lancashire County Council have had their government funding cut by a further £262million & are now only able to provide statutory services. As a result of funding cuts, 40 libraries & several important museums across Lancashire are to close. Lancashire’s (& Britain’s) history is being thrown away. ” [4,000 names on petition as of checking – Ed.]
  • North Yorkshire – Craven libraries celebrate local history month – Craven Herald. “Among the planned events is a heritage fair at Settle Library on Wednesday from 10.30am to 5pm, featuring exhibits from North Craven groups and talks by local experts, including Sita Brand, director of Settle Stories, who will speak about the WR Mitchell archive; Bob Swallow, author and local historian, who will talk on the building of the Settle Carlisle railway; and John Asher, local historian, who will speak on ‘Conscientious Objectors of Settle and North Craven’.”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries’ events help to raise awareness of dementia – NE Connected. “North Yorkshire libraries will mark Dementia Awareness Week from 15 to 21 May with events in libraries across the county and displays of their Reading Well dementia books collection.”
  • Sheffield – We need the librarians – Sheffield Star / Letters. “Sheffield Council’s policy of creating volunteer-run libraries has clearly failed given the huge drop in usage at these that was revealed recently. Most people visited the libraries at least in part because of the wonderful service given by community librarians.” … “A solution in the short-term would be to trial a structure along the lines of other social enterprises, such as charity shops, with a full-time librarian backed up with a team of volunteers.”
  • Shropshire – ‘Catastrophe’ warning on impact of losing services in Oswestry – Shropshire Star. “Councillors heard a report on the beginning of discussions with the local authority and a redesign of services to match Shropshire Council’s budget. It comes after town and parish councils and community groups across the county were last month told they had five months to come up with suitable agreements to manage or fund at-risk services, as Shropshire Council is looking to save £61 million from its budget by 2018/19.” Town council asked to help: ““This could be disastrous. Losing leisure centres and libraries would be a catastrophe. I’m one of the strongest critics of Shropshire Council but I do think the town council needs to step up to the plate for the interests of the community”
  • Westminster – Artist secures ‘work in residence’ status at UK’s leading reference library – Journalism. “Bristol based artist Elaine Robinson has secured a permanent residence for her artwork Turning ‘ages, at Westminster Reference Library, London.” … ““Public libraries are trusted spaces, free to enter and open to all. In them, people can explore and share reading, information, knowledge and culture. And libraries play a broad role in their communities. It’s great to see that the exhibition has found a home in London’s West End where it can be shared on a more national platform”