I was sorry to see deep cuts to Swindon confirmed, although with one fewer library loss than expected.  50 FTE job losses means, in the part-time dominated world of libraries, far more actual jobs lost than that, with families affected as well, a month before Christmas.  Moreover, it means two-thirds of all libraries in the borough being closed or passed to volunteers. Meanwhile, up in Redcar and Cleveland, branch closures (apart from the mobile) have been avoided but a loss of over 100 opening hours per week is still fairly major.

These reductions, repeated seemingly in every post, are serious enough to warrant urgent action but that’s the opposite of what we’re getting from the Government.  While the Ambition document waits yet more days/months/eons until it is finally published, the Taskforce has to wonder about its purpose in life.  To avoid it simply becoming known as the Blogforce, the Government needs to actually do something, at the very least allowing it to go in one direction. Minister, you’re employing these people, now use them, sort of thing. However, the tale of the last six years has been of general neglect of the sector even while deep cuts mean the service is diminished as ever before.  This lack of ambition for the sector by libraries ministers is shown by the continuing, well, lack of Ambition.



National news

  • Call for papers – CILIP. “It has never been more important to secure a positive future for the library, information and knowledge sector, and the communities we serve. We will do this together by understanding the big future trends and planning how we can identify opportunities, successfully adapt and influence the outcome; and develop our skills and ability to innovate and create services that meet current and future needs. We want delegates to leave the CILIP conference with insight, inspiration and practical skills to positively secure the future.”
  • Delay to Libraries Taskforce report ‘a disgrace’ – BookSeller. “A first draft of the report, Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016-2021, produced by the Libraries Taskforce at the behest of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), was released a full eight months ago. Meanwhile in a blog post for The Bookseller published in June, the Taskforce chief executive Kathy Settle said she expected publication of the final report in the summer. But no final document has yet been released. Following the departure of culture minister Ed Vaizey, Rob Wilson was appointed as new libraries minister in July”
  • Everybody In – An Inclusion And Diversity Charter for the Children’s Book World – Everybody In. “The key aim of the Everybody In charter is to help all those involved in the book world to move forward in making books more inclusive.  The charter has been developed in close liaison with publishers, booksellers, libraries, authors, illustrators, teachers, and organisations such as The Publishers AssociationThe Booksellers Association and ASCEL. Other key agencies have also endorsed the charter, including YLG, the SLA and the Society of Chief Librarians. The key to Inclusive Minds is its collaborative nature, drawing together all relevant parties to work together. Everyone working with children and books must play a part in ensuring that all children can find authentic representations of themselves in books, as well as seeing those who are different from them. To this end, the charter is open to all audiences so that we can take collective responsibility. “
  • Librarian of Congress Dr Carla Hayden confirms for CILIP Conference 2017 – CILIP. “CILIP, the library and information association, is excited to announce that Dr Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress will be the opening speaker at the CILIP Conference 2017. The first African American and first female to be appointed to the prestigious role, Dr Hayden was nominated by President Barack Obama in February and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in July 2016. Listed by Fortune Magazine in the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders Dr Hayden heads the Library of Congress as it moves to grow its influence and reach through digital transformation and opening up access.  “
  • Shadow culture minister Brennan slams government over library stats – BookSeller. “Shadow culture minister Kevin Brennan has criticised the government for not undertaking robust research into library closures, while vowing to hold ministers to account over the widespread axing of services. Speaking exclusively to The Bookseller, Brennan, who was appointed shadow culture minister with responsibility for libraries last month, said he was “extremely aware” of the importance of libraries in the community and holds his advice surgeries in his local library. He emphasised that the party will “hold the government to account” and “press the case” for “proper” library provision.”

“What we need, as an opposition, as far as libraries are concerned, is to hold the government to account”, Brennan said. “[The government is] very reluctant to reveal the true number of closures that are going on and very reluctant to reveal the number of hours that libraries are remaining open. We know that there’s increasing reliance on volunteers, as there’s been a huge number in the cuts of actual professional library staff. Probably by a quarter, since 2010 in the numbers, while volunteers have more than doubled in that time. There’s nothing essentially wrong with there being a voluntary element to providing a community library service, but ultimately you won’t get a proper professional library service if you solely rely on volunteers.” Shadow culture minister Kevin Brennan

International news

  • Modern libraries have to navigate tricky societal questions, professor says – CBC. “The warm and inviting public library is often a favourite haunt for families and children, but Freeman said it is also an important space for anyone who is marginally housed or experiencing homelessness, or for newcomers to Canada trying to find out what’s happening in the community or navigating technology.”
  • Eire – Minister says further 23 ‘staffless’ libraries to open extra hours – Irish Times. “Concerns have been raised about the impact on employment but Mr Coveney said it would not impact on the number of staffed hours, with employees continuing to provide services at these times. “It allows library members the freedom and flexibility to use the library at times that suit them,” he said. He was replying to a series of written Dáil questions from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who questioned the rationale for the proposed roll-out of staffless libraries. He also asked what libraries would be operated without staff. Libraries in 20 counties will offer the extra hours under the scheme which is expected to cost about €1.94 million, of which the department will pay €1.41 million. The libraries will contribute the remaining €500,000.”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Care for elderly, library services, community halls and public toilets all face cuts in Bradford Council’s latest budget – Ilkley Gazette. “Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe revealed how her authority plans to slash £82m from its budget over the next two years, in a set of proposals which also included cuts to libraries, public toilets, street lighting and community halls” … “Libraries – many of which are already having to move to volunteer-run arrangements – will face further cuts”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Move planned for Chester Library – Cheshire Today. “The public is being invited to drop-in sessions to find out more about the changes taking place with Chester Library between now and the opening of Storyhouse – the new £37m theatre, cinema and library space.” … “Visitors will be able to find out more about the new Storyhouse library including the dedicated children’s library, complete with an arts/crafts messy play area and a storytelling room; dedicated family and local history section; improved digital facilities and services; flexible event spaces; increased opening hours and opportunities to get involved”
  • Cumbria – Bid to cut library hours to save cash – Times and Star. “Letters announcing the review have been sent out last week by the county council to library workers in Cockermouth, Maryport, Seaton, Moorclose, Aspatria, Keswick and Wigton libraries. Workington and Silloth libraries will not be affected by the proposal. The county council will enter into formal consultation with staff on TuesdayProposals include lunch time and Saturday closures. A council spokesman said: “Government cuts to the county council over the last few years have resulted in huge financial pressures, including those on libraries.”
  • Devon – Libraries Unlimited becomes registered charity – Libraries Unlimited. “Libraries Unlimited, the independent organisation responsible for running all of Devon’s library services has been granted registered charity status by the UK Charity Commission. The organisation, which took full control of the county’s libraries in April 2016, is a staff and community owned social enterprise commissioned by Devon County Council.” … “In order to become a registered charity, Libraries Unlimited had to prove that its purpose is exclusively charitable and set up for public benefit. Libraries Unlimited met the criteria through the charity’s objectives, which include; promoting and encouraging a love of reading, providing free access to information, guiding and supporting people to explore and connect with the wider world, offering a welcoming space to meet, socialise and enjoy new experiences and to support the health and wellbeing of individuals and local communities.” … “Phil Blay has joined the charity as Head of IT and Digital, joining Chief Executive, Ciara Eastell, Head of Service Delivery, Joanne Launder, Head of Finance and Operations, Paul Love and Head of Commercial and Innovation, Steve Turner.”
  • Edinburgh – Tony Black: Don’t let them take our libraries without a fight – Scotsman. “I worry about the future for storytellers. In 2016 it seems our fastest growth area in the United Kingdom is in food banks. Our book banks –the libraries – are becoming an afterthought. When the masses can’t feed themselves, so goes the logic, any other hunger they might have, for knowledge or even simple entertainment, gets pushed aside. And so our libraries have become easy targets for cuts. “

“If you doubt that we can afford to keep our libraries, perhaps you’ve listened to all the rhetoric about the UK being broke, then ask yourself where the money for illegal wars and invasions of foreign countries comes from? Likewise, from which top hat have we pulled the £31 billion budget to renew our weapons of mass destruction? The Queen’s new £370 million repair bill? Westminster’s £5.7bn refurbishment? Hikes to MP’s salaries and perks?”


  • Greenwich – Greenwich Centre Library named as one of London’s best cultural venues – News Shopper. “The award-winning Greenwich Centre Library came second in the local culture category for the ‘Time Out Love London Awards’. Time Out magazine holds the annual competition which encourages readers to vote for their favourite venues and attractions across the capital. The categories are restaurants, pubs, cafes, shops, bars and local culture. Only Greenwich Park did better in the category. Cllr Denise Scott McDonald said: “What a successful week for libraries in the Royal Borough of Greenwich! The Greenwich Centre is one of the newest Royal Borough hubs but it has already won such a great award befitting of the quality of services it delivers.”
  • Liverpool – Lister Drive Library rebuilding plan wins £3.9m lottery cash – Liverpool Echo. “The Heritage Lottery Fund today confirmed the grant to the Andrew Carnegie Library in Tuebrook that will see the derelict building converted into a multi-purpose hub.”
  • Redcar and Cleveland – 100 job losses, bins and libraries – what you need to know about £25m Redcar and Cleveland cuts – Gazette Live. “Yet despite fears that bin collections will decrease and libraries will close, the council says it is protecting frontline services wherever it can.” … “The headline: no libraries will close completely. But there are big changes to opening times. It’s proposed that three libraries – Redcar Central, Guisborough, and South Bank – will open 47 hours a week and be rebranded as ‘community hubs’ offering a range of services. Five more will be classed ‘modern libraries’ and will open 31 hours a week at Grangetown, Marske, Saltburn, Skelton and Ormesby. The remaining five libraries – Brotton, Dormanstown, Laburnum Road in Redcar, Roseberry in Redcar and Loftus – will be classified as community libraries and will open 14 hours a week, with Roseberry and Loftus moving to new locations. The changes represent libraries across the borough opening for almost 100 hours less a week than at present – but plans will save £400,000, coupled with the closure of the mobile library service.”
  • Sheffield – Volunteers welcome Sheffield Council’s library funding pledge – Star. “Bob Mynors, one of the volunteer managers at Stannington Library, said: “Stannington Library welcomes the renewed package of support from the council, as this will give us some financial stability for at least the next three years. “We’re also pleased that it’s not just about grants but about other forms of professional and practical support as well. “This helps us to run efficient libraries, and shows how much the council values the work of all the library volunteers.” The preferred option does come with a warning, though. A report to councillors ahead of Wednesday’s meeting says: “If there is a budget reduction in future years for the library, archives and information service, it may not be affordable for the service to continue to pay for all of the co-delivered libraries from its core budget.”
  • Swindon – Park library saved but ten others now face a fight to survive on their own – Swindon Advertiser. “Coun Mary Martin, the cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “I would like to thank everyone who took the time to take part in the public consultation as well as fellow councillors on the member task group as all their input has been invaluable in putting together this updated draft strategy. “I am pleased we have been able to increase the core provision to include Park library. Discussions are already well underway to secure community-led library provision at Wroughton, Covingham and Upper Stratton and so I am asking cabinet colleagues to approve transitional funding for these at this stage.”
  • Swindon – Securing a sustainable future for Swindon’s Library Services – Swindon Council. From page 90, full details of cuts to library service.


  • Walsall – Bloxwich Councillors bid to save Bloxwich Library and Theatre – Bloxwich Telegraph. “The loss of the library staff, facilities and book stock as well as the attached 1964 theatre, which was, along with the 1960 library, rejuvenated in 2009-10 and has since gone on, with the help of Bloxwich Library Forum, to become a successful music and drama venue and much more, would be very damaging. This kind of cultural vandalism is simply insupportable, and once these facilities are gone, they will never return.”
  • Walsall – Campaigners fight for future of closure-threatened Aldridge Library at protest – Express and Star. “About 80 people, ranging from toddlers to pensioners, urged Walsall Council to save Aldridge Library from the axe at the weekend, along with another 13 libraries also under threat. The Labour-led authority, which needs to find £86 million in savings over four years, has proposed shutting all but one of the borough’s 15 libraries as part of cuts, leaving just the library in Walsall town centre open. Conservative Councillor John Murray, who represents Aldridge Central and South on Walsall Council, said: “People come here because this is the only place they can access computers for work.”
  • Warrington – MP Helen Jones slams LiveWire as ‘shambolic’ over libraries consultation – Warrington Guardian. “Ms Jones is calling for the community interest company, which is responsible for running Warrington’s libraries and leisure services, to be stripped of its control of the town’s libraries. The company has been criticised for its handling of a public consultation into plans to save £300,000 by closing some libraries.” … ““They conducted a consultation based on dodgy figures which they then had to withdraw. I also understand that they are paying a former council officer a five figure sum per year, as a consultant, for a couple of days work per week,” she added.” … “There is no independent input and, as far as I can discover, no independent assessment of how board members are performing.  “