Some pretty major cuts to libraries have been announced, with two things in common.  One is that they blame central government cuts. The other is that a big thing is made of the council not actually cutting more, often pointing out other authorities are doing even worse things to the people’s chances of equal access to information and literacy.  Ealing – the one that’s halving the size of its central library and selling 87,000 of its books – even says it’s proud it is not being even more savage.  So, these councils should be grateful to the seriously malicious library cutters, such as the recent Swindon, who make such a defence possible. Meanwhile, in the afore-mentioned Swindon, a member of the public – not even a public official – is straight-faced calling the cuts a new opportunity for community empowerment.  Doublethink appears to have won the argument.

But fear not, for a possible library saviour is coming across the horizon, and he may be yellow with a spiky tail.  Pokémon Go, when it gets here, is apparently quite keen on making public libraries centres … so expect lots of young people coming on to the premises looking everywhere with their mobile phones. And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, find out, and work out how to make the most of it.


National news

11 million books for 5p per day, plus free internet access? It's a no-brainer, Wales

11 million books for 5p per day, plus free internet access? It’s a no-brainer, Wales

International news

  • Australia – Geelong Library nominated for international Public Library of the Year award – ABC. “When 774 ABC Melbourne asked listeners what made their local libraries great, the overwhelming response was “the librarians”. Talkback caller Mary from Flemington said her local library was “just fabulous” and that it was “because of the staff”.
  • EU/Poland/Spain – Summer activity at Public Library of Aleksandrow (Poland) and Viana Public Library (Spain) – Naple Sister Libraries. ” a reading campaign where a selection of  books of contemporary narrative from each country are promoted in the sister library: Spanish literature in Aleksandrow and Polish literature in Viana.”
  • USA – Everything Librarians Need To Know About Pokemon Go – Where we’re going, we don’t need shelves. “Thousands of libraries across the country have been made virtual Gyms, and this has already caused an increase of foot traffic for our buildings, attracting teens and young adults who may not typically be library patrons. Personally, I believe this is a huge blessing. It opens doors for new patrons, it gives librarians the ability to make connections with a section of our demographics we don’t normally get the chance to talk to, and it gives us the opportunity to do some really, really fun programs and displays.”
  • USA – On the Battle to Desegregate the Nation’s Libraries – Literary Hub. “On May 28, 1945, Violet Wallach of Locust, New Jersey, complained that black residents in her area had to enter a back door in the Navesink township library. Once they entered, black would-be readers were shuttled to a small room isolated from the main reading room for white patrons…” … Library treasurer quoted as saying “Wednesdays’ short hours were enough for the children, Trumaine said, because “we don’t believe in social equality for Negroes. We don’t want our white children associating with them on the same level. The Negroes are a different race. They should be proud of it but keep to themselves.”” [Incredible – Ed.]

Local news by authority

  • Bracknell Forest – Bracknell budget: £6 million cuts likely to hit adult social care, roads and community centre – Get Reading. “Cllr Heydon said: “The first thing is we have statutory obligations we have to make sure we meet. “We have a statutory obligation to run a library service, but what is a statutory library service? “Is it one room or nine libraries?”
  • Coventry – Dozens of protesters campaign about library cuts outside Coventry Council House – Coventry Telegraph. “Dozens of campaigners staged a protest today outside the Council House to highlight the plight of Coventry’s libraries. They gathered after it emerged a number of libraries could shut if community groups cannot be found to take them over in a bid to save millions from the council budget” … “Nicky Downes, who chairs Save Coventry Libraries and works as a teacher, said librarians at Hillfields library were the lifeblood of the library and supported children’s learning.”
  • Ealing – Ealing Central Library set to move above Primark – but will lose almost 90,000 books – Get West London. “Ealing Central Library is set to move to a smaller location and will lose 70% of its books in a bid to cut costs and improve its technology. Ealing Council will on Tuesday (July 12) discuss plans to move the library from its current two-floor site in Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre to a one-floor facility above the nearby Primark. It will be used as a temporary home, for an expected five years from mid-2017, before the library moves permanently to Perceval House – which is being redeveloped”
  • Gateshead – Library campaigners beg Gateshead Council bosses not to close the book on ‘lifeline’ service – Chronicle. “Muriel Davison, 85, is a widow from Felling who says the library is her only lifeline to the outside world. She said: “I live on my own and only get out of the house when I go to Felling Library every Tuesday. I get the chance to see other people and meet all the young children who use the service.”
  • Reading – Reading libraries: none will close but opening hours will be cut – Get Reading. “Councillors expected to rubber stamp the plan to save £290,000 based on a public consultation and user numbers … All seven libraries in Reading will stay open but the hours of business will be cut. Reading Borough Council’s policy committee will be looking at the proposals at its meeting on Monday, July 18 which follows a public consultation in which 2,547 people responded.”
  • Staffordshire – Community managed libraries: Do you have a great idea to put the community at the heart of your local library? – Staffordshire County  Council. “Communities across the Staffordshire are already benefiting from the flexibility, community spirit and health and wellbeing benefits that community libraries bring. Eleven community libraries due to open their doors in the next few months. We’re now encouraging community groups in twelve other neighbourhoods to apply to manage and deliver their local library:” … “So if you are part of a community or voluntary group are as passionate as  we are about developing library spaces run by local people for local people, please apply before Friday 29 July 2016. If you would like help to fill in the application form, please contact VAST who will be more than happy to help you. “
  • Swindon – Swindon Council Leader urged to reconsider public library cuts – CILIP. “CILIP Chief Executive Nick Poole has written to Swindon Council Leader David Renard, urging him to reconsider the extent of the Council’s proposals – which would see 11 out of 15 libraries in Swindon close.” … “The decision to remove a library service is far more than a spreadsheet exercise. We understand your need to find cost-savings but it is vital that you are clear about the social and economic cost both to your Authority and the people you serve”. Three key points; Libraries make places that people want to live in; Libraries make places that people want to work in; Libraries amplify the reach & cost-effectiveness of Council services.
  • Swindon – Swindon set to close 11 of its 15 libraries – Guardian. “The latest proposals, which go before the council’s cabinet on Wednesday, also suggest that three of the four libraries remaining open would only be staffed for 15 hours a week, with volunteers or self-service technology suggested as a way of keeping the branches open” see also Swindon Council urged to rethink ‘severe’ library closures – BookSeller.

“CILIP said it had received a response from Renard, in which the councillor said the libraries proposed for closure provided a service to very few people, and that the financial pressure it is under means the council is running out of alternatives. Poole said in response: “Councils must not just pay lip service to public consultation over the future of library services … Public libraries are there for their communities – there is a contract of trust between the public, library staff and local authority – in Swindon this is being placed in jeopardy. I am deeply concerned that future generations in Swindon will not have the same opportunities and support for their learning and development as the current generation have enjoyed.”

  • Swindon – Visionaries of Swindon’s railway age often decades ahead of the rest, says Graham Carter – Swindon Advertiser. “It’s clear the council is unwilling or incapable of providing a full library service any more, and the people of Swindon are being asked to help out. But we should understand it’s not so much taking it over as taking it back. And I can’t help thinking that members of the Mechanics’ Institute would have seen the current reinvention of public libraries – because that’s what it is, effectively – as an opportunity, as much as it is a challenge.”
  • Wrexham – Wrexham Council scraps plans to outsource libraries – BookSeller. ““A trust would need to form a management structure, funds for which would need to be sought from within the service budget which would inevitably lead to either increased costs or a need to find a saving from within the operational budget. This would inevitably lead to service changes such as reduction of service/opening hours. Even the most efficient management structure would result in a trust costing £202,000 more per year than an in house model”