So Ed Vaizey is no longer libraries minister.  Readers of Public Libraries News will know what he has done, and what he hasn’t, for public libraries in the six years he has been in charge. Before being in power, he stridently called for interventions in libraries but when he was in power, he did not intervene effectively – other than nodding through deep cuts – in a single one. A nice enough chap, even charming I understand, he was perhaps constrained by his background, his ideology, notably that of localism and austerity, and by his colleagues in doing anything more.  Certainly, the Sieghart Review and the Taskforce are welcome, although they However, claiming that libraries were thriving when they self-evidently were not and calling in question the number of closures and depth of cuts when the evidence was there was all to see was, I suspect, all him. Or is it? We will see with his replacement, who has already claimed on Twitter to be a supporter of libraries has a similar relationship with cold hard. politically uncomforable, facts.

In other news, I’ve been following news of Pokémon Go visits to libraries throughout the country and many library services have not been slow in taking advantage, at least in social media. That’s all great to see, as are all the wonderful pictures of children joining the Big Friendly Read.

National news

“Thank you for championing libraries and SCL over the past six years @edvaizey it has been a pleasure working with you” Society of Chief Librarians on Twitter.

  • Developers add gyms and libraries to property sites to help their elderly residents stay fit. A recent BBC investigation found that 343 public libraries in Britain have closed over the past six years, and a further 111 closures are planned this year. Add this to the fact that many pubs are also shutting their doors, and it is clear that the number of places where older people can socialise is dwindling. However, retirement home developers are attempting to tackle that problem.”

“The Dr Beeching of Libraries” Ian Stringer on Lis-pub-libs

  • Hancock takes on culture post as Vaizey exits – BookSeller. “Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk (pictured), has replaced Ed Vaizey as minister for culture and digital policy, as new prime minister Theresa May completed her reshuffle this weekend. Library campaigners have condemned Vaizey’s record in office but said Hancock has “a real chance to find a way forward to revive the service” … “Vaizey was appointed culture minister in 2010, and bitterly disappointed library campaigners by a lack of action in office, despite bullish talk while in opposition. His repeated mantra, that there was no crisis in the library service, despite the evident widespread cutbacks and closures, was a cause of particular anger.”.  Quotes from Desmond Clarke, Laura Swaffield {and myself – Ed.] and comment from Phil Bradley. See also Culture minister Ed Vaizey leaves the government – The Stage.

“Neither Matt Hancock nor the new secretary of state Karen Bradley seems to have any background in culture issues. That may not matter if they just listen. It’s encouraging that Matt has already tweeted that he is ‘a big supporter of our great libraries’. At least he’s noticed that it’s part of his brief. Libraries hardly figured at all in Ed’s weekly reports on his activities.” Laura Swaffield

  • My wayLeon’s Library Blog. ” It would be unfair to blame Vaizey for the all the problems of the public library sector over the last six years. The overriding factor has been one of ideology; from austerity, to localism, to devolution. But the ex-minister was certainly a strong advocate for these policies and ensured that libraries became a poster-boy for DIY community services.”
  • Pooh pips Potter to the post in Summer Reading Challenge poll – Reading Agency. “Winnie the Pooh has topped the list of favourite childhood book characters in a new poll, beating the popular wizard Harry Potter to the top spot. The list of favourite characters from childhood books shows Harry Potter in second place, and George from Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five in third, behind the timeless Winnie the Pooh. Other popular characters include Roald Dahl’s Matilda and Lucy from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” … “Ahead of the Summer Reading Challenge taking place in libraries across the country during July and August, the results shine a light on the benefits of reading, demonstrating what can be learned from our childhood favourites. Over a third (37%) of people said their favourite character taught them ‘It is okay to be different’. A third (30%) said they learned ‘How to be kind to people’ and a quarter learned ‘How to get through difficult times’.”
Chris Riddell (L), Ed Vaizey (C - discovering he's the same height as a Twit, honestly) and Sue Williamson at the official Big Friendly Read launch.

Chris Riddell (L), Ed Vaizey (C – discovering he’s the same height as a Twit, honestly) and Sue Wikinson at the official Big Friendly Read launch.

  • Supporting libraries in the digital age – Libraries Taskforce / Sharon Wragg. “Following last year’s £7.4m investment from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which completed the installation of WiFi in 99% of public libraries in England, Tinder Foundation identified the need for research and insight into how WiFi could be maximised through the use of mobile technology and the importance and benefits of investing in the development of library users’ digital skills. As a result, Tinder Foundation, in consultation with the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce, launched the Library Digital Inclusion Fund, to help those with WiFi already installed to engage and support hard-to-reach learners who were socially and digitally excluded, and to deliver basic digital skills training using WiFi and mobile technology.” [I had previously doubted the suggested £7.5m projected saving was correct – it seems low when taken nationally – but the Tinder Foundaiton have sent me their working and that is indeed an accurate figure – Ed.]
  • Top library and information stories from the past 2 weeks – CILIP. Including links to talks from the CILIP Conference.
  • What is your name? What is your favorite color? What is the airspeed velocity of a library? – Libraries Taskforce / Margaret Craft. “setting a strategic direction like this is fruitless without the momentum for change, and that momentum depends on the awareness and support of everyone across the library sector that it will affect. That support demands more than just writing a sound document. Everyone needs to buy in – from library staff and volunteers on the ground, heads of service, partners, and decision-makers for libraries”

International news

  • Morocco – The oldest library on Earth was started by a woman, and finally everyone can visit it – Quartz. “Founded by a Muslim woman, the University of Al Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morroco, opened its doors in 859. Its library has been restored during the last three years by another woman, Canadian-Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni. A wing will be open to the general public later this year.” However, it’s not the oldest library, see this: What’s the oldest continuously operating library in the world? St. Catherine’s Monastery of Sinai – Aleteia. It opened 300 years before.
  • USA – Library of Congress Gets a History-Making New Leader – Atlantic. “Carla Hayden is the first woman and African American to serve as Librarian of Congress” … “Hayden is credited with modernizing the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore’s 22-branch city library system. (She also successfully kept the library open throughout the Freddie Gray protests last year.) As president of the American Library Association in 2003 and 2004, she frequently and publicly criticized Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which allowed federal law enforcement to access public-library borrowing records.”
  • USA – Pokémon Go: What Do Librarians Need To Know? – SLJ. “Though it remains to be seen whether Pokémon Go will be a brief fad or a long-term obsession, the game’s popularity has already helped to demonstrate how emerging tech creates opportunities for libraries to connect with and educate patrons in unexpected ways.”
  • USA – Protecting Patron Privacy – Library Journal. “An audience member laid out what she felt I was asking of the group. “You’re telling us to start selling granola when everyone else is running a candy store.” I thought about her comment for a moment. “Yes, but don’t you see? There’s about to be a huge demand for granola, and no one else will have it.””

Local news by authority

  • Bracknell Forest – Bracknell austerity protesters fail to stop £6 million cuts – Get Reading. “Members of the Defend Our Community Services (DOCS) group lobbied Bracknell Forest Councillors before the council meeting on Wednesday, July 13 protesting austerity measures the Executive committee recommended in May. Councillors paid little heed to the protesters once the meeting began swiftly passing more than £6 million of cuts and axing 10 jobs in a bid the balance Bracknell’s books.” … “Other members of DOCS, Diane Thomas, 70, Nicola Waugh, 52, Amanda Preece, 50, and Alan Cocks, 73, explained they worried about potential library cuts and argued the case for libraries as a cultural custodian.”
  • Bromley – All-out strike of council services planned for this week – Bromley Times. “Bromley library workers started seven days of strike action on Saturday. From July 16, libraries will face the latest wave of strike action, with the workers’ union Unite claiming “workers are taking action against cuts and privatisation”. All council services are planning an all-out strike on Wednesday, July 10”
  • Devon – People behind the business: Ciara Eastell, Libraries Unlimited – Exeter Express and Echo. “I’m the chief executive of Libraries Unlimited, a new social enterprise running libraries across Devon….  The best thing about my job is… Seeing the difference that great libraries can have on individuals and local communities – for example, helping people find a job, set up a business or seeing a child who grows to love books from the support of a librarian. At Libraries Unlimited, we want to ensure libraries can have as much impact as possible on the way people – of all ages – learn, read and connect with others. Over 120,000 people across Devon regularly use our services – that’s a great starting point for a new business and we’d love to welcome many more people back to libraries to see what’s now on offer.”
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Council engaging population – Galloway Gazette. Changing traditional libraries into ‘integrated facilities’ three years ago has increased footfall by 18 per cent. This welcome news was given to elected members at the Wigtown Area Committee monthly meeting in Stranraer on Wednesday, but Wigtown West Councillor Grahame Forster commented that although library attendance had gone up in Stranraer, there was no way of knowing why those going through the doors were there, since customer services, registration and libraries were combined”
  • East Sussex – Library opening hours expected to be cut – Argus. “Cabinet will meet on Tuesday to decide whether to agree revised opening hours which could save around £500,000 per year. The plan is an average 25 per cent reduction in opening hours across the county’s 24 libraries, following a 12-week public consultation. If agreed, opening times will continue to vary across the county but libraries will generally not open before 10am or after 5pm.”
  • Herefordshire – Book fair fund-raisers to become bi-annual at Ledbury Library? – Ledbury Reporter. “book fair in the Panelled Room of Ledbury Library raised £800 for stackable chairs, which will help the venue to host more community events in the future, including for local schools. In fact, the two and a half day book sale was so successful, plans are afoot to run book fair fund-raisers twice a year, for a week each time. Ledbury Library Development Group spokesman, Nina Shields said: “It became clear that the two and a half days was not long enough for the bibliophiles of Ledbury. The response with book donations and with people coming to buy was wonderful. We have nowhere to store the unsold books so will be selling them through other outlets. The amount raised is about £800 and as a result we will be able to buy the much needed stackable chairs together with a stand for storage.”
  • Lancashire – Calls for legal fight against Morecambe Library and kids centre cuts – Visitor. “After feelings ran high at a town meeting over the future of the library and children’s centres, there were calls for a legal challenge to government cuts in Lancashire. Councillors said they would back a judicial review if controversial plans to turn Morecambe Library into a self-service ‘satellite library’ and sell off Poulton, Balmoral and Heysham children’s centres go ahead.”
  • Leicestershire – Barwell is the sole library to close in cost-cutting plans – Hinckley Times. “Just one library has closed following cost-cutting plans by Leicestershire County Council to transfer control to community groups. Barwell is the only village library to shut down after volunteers pulled their bid to take responsibility because of fears over its long-term sustainability.”
  • North Lanarkshire – Children take part in last-gasp protest against closure of Coatbridge library – Daily Record. Old Monkland: “They staged a show of support for the Coatbridge facility this week – making posters and banners to protest against the decision that it will shut its doors for the final time in the next month. It is among four North Lanarkshire libraries, also including Petersburn in Airdrie, which will close following a £1.1million reduction in the management fee paid to operators Culture NL by the council. Read more at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/children-take-part-last-gasp-8413888#jjTspi3oDPXpBxJZ.99″
  • North Somerset – Parish council set to take over under-threat village library? – Mercury. “Congresbury Library is one of several children’s centres and libraries which could be closed or merged into single buildings as part of money-saving plans proposed by North Somerset Council. The plans are out for public consultation until September 30 and although the council says it has not made firm decisions about possible closures or mergers, Congresbury Parish Council is already exploring the option of taking on the village library in Station Road.”
  • Northern Ireland – Video: Hands Off Our Libraries Campaign in Belfast – Belfast Telegraph. “Campaigners deliver a partition [sic] to the Department for Communities calling on Minister Paul Givan to make funds available to halt further cuts of library hours. “
  • Shropshire – Shropshire Council criticised for key services silence – Shropshire Star. “It comes after Councillor Malcolm Pate, leader of Shropshire Council, announced there would be an extension of up to 12 months for councils and organisations to look into taking on closure-threatened services such as libraries and leisure centres. In an unexpected twist Councillor Pate said “a little bit of money” had been found in the local authority’s budgets to allow towns and parishes more time to plan.” … “Councillor Cooper said: “We’ve had absolutely no notification from Shropshire Council. They just don’t communicate with us.”
  • Swindon – Cabinet offers cautious backing to libraries strategy – This is Wiltshire. “Cabinet has voted in favour of the libraries strategy, paving the way for a move from 15 funded libraries down to four. In a wide ranging debate during their meeting on Wednesday, cabinet members discussed issues including the role of volunteers, finding new income streams, the mobile library and the use of transitional funding. But observers hoping for greater clarification on detail or specifics will have been disappointed, instead it appeared that a sense of hope was the driving force behind the plans as they currently stand.”
  • Swindon – Last ditch attempt to save Swindon’s libraries – ITV. “Campaigners will be protesting outside Swindon Borough Council later in a final bid to save some of Swindon’s doomed libraries”
  • Swindon – Swindon library closures: Campaigners urge rethink – BBC. “Shirley Burnham, from Save Swindon’s Libraries, said they want “the town consulted properly”. “We hope for a rethink…a well costed and well thought out alternative,” she said.”
  • Waltham Forest – Update: Fight to save library from demolition enters next phase – This is Local London. ” vote to relocate four libraries in Waltham Forest, including the “much-loved” Hale End Library in Highams Park, was passed by the council on Tuesday (July 14). Campaign organiser, Oliver Shykles, said this was an “expected setback” and it is now up to concerned supporters to voice their anger against the plans. A consultation phase has begun where those wishing for the library to remain at its Castle Avenue site can actively oppose the council’s plans.”