It’s looking to be a good year for the Summer Reading Challenge from reports I hear: I’m aware of more than one authority which has had a record number of starters. I look forward to hearing the final numbers from the Reading Agency.  In other, less upbeat news, the deep cuts to Lancashire libraries dominates the local news, with one (Conservative) MP even  asking for the ending the (Labour) council.


National news

“Studies have shown that visits to libraries improve general health, saving the NHS some £27.5 million a year in England in reduced GP visits. Perhaps we should put this figure on the side of buses. Perhaps we should also put it on the side of mobile libraries and even ambulances, to recognise the value of reading to our health. Sadly, however, our libraries themselves have not been in good health; many have died, and the epidemic continues. We have seen more than one library a week close across England since austerity measures were introduced, and Lancashire just announced that it is about to close 29 of its libraries. We must urgently bring the library network into remission.” Baroness Rebuck (Labour, plus also chair of Penguin Random House UK) – Hansard, 8th September.

  • Can Julia Donaldson save Scotland’s school libraries? – Guardian. “School librarians are “well trained, knowledgeable people who should be respected, not belittled and done away with,” Donaldson told Guardian Review this week. “You wouldn’t say that you could have a classroom without a teacher.” She has written a letter to Nicola Sturgeon, urging her “to persuade the councillors to reverse their decision”, and is fired up about the challenge of saving Scotland’s school libraries.”

“Librarians can put the right books into the right hands,” Donaldson says. “They can be up to date, read a lot themselves, and know the children really well. [Unlike teachers,] they can establish a relationship that continues right up the school, and it doesn’t just apply to children who are very academic; for children who are dismissive of reading and haven’t yet found the right book, it can be life changing.” Julia Donaldson

International news

Local news by authority

  • Cheshire East / Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire autumn season of rural touring shows announced – Chester Chronicle. “There is plenty more on offer for theatre fans throughout the season, including Monstro Theatre’s family show Book Story in Alsager and Upton Libraries in October. The show is part of CRTA’s new See It Live In Libraries project, which runs alongside their regular rural touring programme.”
  • Lancashire – Austerity bites as council votes through closures – Lancashire Evening Post. ” Labour’s cabinet was keen to stress it was a choice they never wished to make.”
  • Lancashire – County Council announces cuts and closures – Lancashire Headline News.  Council looks to volunteers but will only £5k granr first year and £1k in future years (to allow Wifi).
  • Lancashire – Death knell sounded for Up Holland, Burscough and Parbold libraries – Champion.
  • Lancashire – Fulwood Library fight ‘not over’ as Preston MP to call-in closure decision with government Blog Preston. “Campaigners fighting to save Fulwood Library from closure say a Preston MP has triggered a ‘call-in’ process to have Lancashire County Council’s plans examined. The library is one of many due to close on Friday 30 September after the county council’s cabinet approved the closure plans. Mary Duckett, one of the team leading the fight to save Fulwood’s library in Garstang Road, said: “We wanted to speak at the council meeting but were told we couldn’t, so we asked our county councillors to ask a question on our behalf.”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire CC to close services at more than 100 sites – Public Sector Executive.
  • Lancashire – MP calls for Lancashire County Council to be abolished after closure of community facilities – Lancashire Telegraph. “Nigel Evans, who represents the Ribble Valley, has said that he would be lobbying ministers to close the council and that it was unfit to run the services. “
  • Lancashire – Tory anger at ‘union staff’ amid huge cuts – Lancashire Telegraph. Conservatives link paid union staff to cuts.
  • North Tyneside – Views sought on five-year library strategy – News Guardian. “North Tyneside Council is drawing up a new five year strategy for its libraries to build on the success of the last five years which saw more than 6.5m visitors and more than four million items loaned out.” … “The new draft strategy also sets out the work the council carries out with communities including prevention and wellbeing through its outreach teams, working with troubled families, providing resources to housebound residents, engaging with schools and offering residents the chance to access cultural events and community activities.”
  • Northumberland – Libraries: Where are the priorities? – Morpeth Herald. County councillor had claimed “the county council has not closed one single library. This is not really true: a number of libraries – for example, those at Hadston, Ellington and Haydon Bridge – have in fact been handed over to volunteers to run and offer a much-reduced service. While they are not, therefore, technically ‘closed’, to all intents and purposes they are no longer county libraries.She claims further that Morpeth library was in a ‘terrible condition’ after the 2008 floods and needed massive investment. This is not an accurate picture as the library was substantially re-furbished from insurance money in the wake of the flood…”
  • Northumberland – New £3.5m Cramlington leisure centre is officially open for business – Chronicle. Include library. “The town’s library services have also been moved into the centre, providing a one-stop shop for council services.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Consultations need to be taken ‘seriously’ – Tenby Observer. “Pembrokeshire County Council have recently conducted a series of consultation meetings across the county, asking the community, service users and other stakeholders to help inform the decision making process, on alternative ways these services, such as – leisure centres, swimming pools, libraries, museums, and tourism marketing support, can be delivered in the future, with unprecedented budget reductions to take place over the next few years.”
  • Rotherham – £474,000 to be cut from libraries budget – Rotherham Advertiser. “Rotherham Borough Council proposals to save £474,000 by 2019 will see all 15 libraries stay open but some will move to single staffing “where appropriate and safe”.” … “Maltby library is moving to the neighbouring customer service centre and the mobile service, which has 337 users, will be axed.”.  Local opposition councillor not impressed ““The next library is either Greasbrough or Kimberworth, which are miles away for people who don’t have cars, who rely on public transport.””
  • St Helens – Well done to libraries arts project – St Helens Star / Letters. “many thanks to all the staff working for St Helens Arts & Libraries. Well done”
  • Shropshire – Closure date set for Shawbury Library – Shropshire Star. “The library will close on September 24. It will be replaced with a mobile service, which will run in the village hall car park, starting on October 4.”
  • Southend – Kent Elms library to temporarily close to give it new look – Echo. “Kent Elms Library on Rayleigh Road is set for a major refurbishment that will reinvent the layout of the main library. The work will create a fresh new welcoming area for customers as well as changes to the entrance to provide better access for those with mobility needs and pushchairs. A private meeting room is also being created as a space which can be hired out.”
  • Sunderland – Sunderland councillors to debate controversial library move– Sunderland Echo. “The Conservative group, a Liberal Democrat member, and an Independent member of the council have set their differences aside, and tabled two motions to discuss the future of the service, at the meeting on September 21.” … “Coun Hodson said: “Moving the city library and arts centre will have a massive impact on library users, on the work that takes place in Sunderland museum, and on our bid to become City of Culture in 2021.”
  • Telford and Wrekin – New proposals to save Telford libraries – Shropshire Star. “The plans follow two consultations earlier this year and mean original proposals to close six of the borough’s nine libraries have been thrown out. Three of those six libraries – Donnington, Dawley and Stirchley – will now be run by town or parish councils. However, no organisation has come forward to help fund or run the mobile library service, which will now end from March 31 next year”
  • Warrington – Councillors hit back at plans to close libraries – Warrington Guardian. “Councillors have hit back at plans to close libraries in their neighbourhoods, with some claiming they had not even been told about the proposals. Culcheth Library is one of the buildings set to close if plans go ahead and Cllr Matt Smith (LAB) hit out at LiveWire for ‘intentionally misleading’ residents with statistics. The Culcheth, Glazebury and Croft councillor said: “LiveWire provided figures showing that library use in Orford has increased, whilst library use in Culcheth has decreased.” 93% of those polled say they do not support the LiveWire proposals (survey accessed 11/9/16).

“By providing this selective data LiveWire are either intentionally trying to mislead local residents or they have a very poor grasp of using statistical data. “In either case I would suggest that the people behind this proposal are not fit to be making choices which have such a significant impact on our communities.”