I was sorry to read that Libraries Unlimited in Devon, still a new organisation, is removing enhanced payments for weekend working from its staff. However, before we all say that this is another bit of evidence to show that it should only be councils that run libraries, it’s worth pointing out that many councils have done the same thing, and some of them considerably earlier. Here’s a short and doubtless very incomplete list. The press statement from Devon also points out that they haven’t closed any libraries, unlike many traditional councils (hang your head in shame, Lancashire). The truth is that, regardless of governance, library services up and down the country are all working on different ways of reducing the impact of austerity.  It’s the central government agenda of reducing funding on council services that’s at fault here … and we need to remember that that decision was decided on democratically, or at least as democratically as this country is (which, admittedly, is hardly perfect). Mind you, councils that distort the truth (like Bath who refused to accept they were doing a U-turn even while their “your library is moving” sign was still on display, nice going there) come a close second.


National news

  • Government extends PLR to e-books and e-audiobooks – BookSeller. “Authors will be paid from a government fund that compensates authors for loaning their works for free from public libraries. The pot of money allocated to PLR, £6.6m, will not change, a spokesperson from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirmed, with the maximum any one author can claim £6,600 per year.  The catalyst for the change, taking effect for all loans from 2018, stems from a judgement in November in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It held the definition of lending by public libraries in European copyright law also includes remote electronic lending, thus removing the final barrier to its expansion”
  • Invitation to Tender: Develop a Reader Development e-learning Module for Public Library Staff – Society of Chief Librarians. ” key training gap identified was the ‘Soft’ skills which are required, such as initiating conversations about reading with the public, and we wish to develop an e-learning module for public library staff to address the range of skills that are required to support our workforce to engage effectively with customers to enhance their reading experience. SCL are looking for the successful organisation to consult with the public library sector and liaise with our online training provider to create an e-learning module for public library staff to address the range of skills that are required to support our workforce to engage effectively with customers to enhance their reading experience”
  • Open letter from Martyn Wade, outgoing CILIP Chair to the Minister for Libraries – CILIP. “… I would urge you to seek examples of how other countries are managing the development of their information and library services for the benefit of all. There are excellent examples in Europe and elsewhere across the world. Closer to home, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all produced realistic and influential strategies which are making a real difference. I am sure that you share our vision of an innovative, high-quality and effective information and library service for all. I would encourage you to engage actively with CILIP and the new Libraries All-Party Parliamentary Group to help ensure that information and library services achieve their potential for everyone, wherever they may live in England.
  • To survive the cuts, libraries must put themselves at the heart of communities – Guardian. Spokesman from Local Government Association (run by councillors) says “Councils are finding creative ways to support libraries that offer a wide variety of services, from homework clubs to health advice and business partnerships”.  Cuts have “a major impact on councils’ ability to support key public services, including libraries. Reducing branches, shortening opening hours and cutting staff are some ways to save money, but that’s not what anyone wants for a service that can offer so much to so many people. Councils are going to have to do more with less, finding creative and innovative ways to use library spaces.”
  • Woman who keeps voting Tory can’t work out why public services are sh** – Daily Mash [parody news website]. ““I was disappointed when they closed our library, but the librarians should have focused on making a profit instead of sponging off the state.””

International news

  • Canada – What is a Killer Imam Doing in Public Libraries in Canada? – Gatestone Institute. “How is it possible that books that advocate violence and extremism meet the “selection criteria” of the Ottawa Public Library, but those that speak out against violence and extremism do not? The presence of these Islamic books, and these books alone, in Canada’s public libraries, without any others to contradict them, gives them legitimacy. They are seen to represent a certain form of Islam that the government of Canada and the City of Ottawa recognize.”
  • Eire – Libraries to transfer 20,000 books a week across country – Irish Examiner. “A plan being developed for all local authority libraries will see around 20,000 volumes transported between counties each week to satisfy reader demand — up from fewer than 150 books a week previously. Members can currently borrow books from most of the 333 library branches run by 30 councils around Ireland, but must wait until an item is returned to its home library, and then a book, DVD, or other item is sent by library staff in the post. As all public libraries complete the switch to a common system management software programme in the next few weeks, an improved service is planned to allow members reserve any of more than 15m items held in national collections.”
  • Germany – Cologne library opens its doors to refugees: ‘You fill this room with life’ – Guardian. “The Cologne Public Library is serving as a social and educational space for the city’s refugees, as counterparts across Germany increasingly become places for community engagement. Could the UK learn from this? ” … “In Germany, however, libraries appear to have retained their cultural status. According to broadcaster Deutsche Welle, footfall in German public bibliothecae actually grew by 5 million people between 2013 and 2015. “
  • India – Kashmir government turns public libraries to E-learning centers – Sify News. ” Rejuvenating the culture of library, Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday launched E-learning program by installing computers in the state’s public libraries, thus assisting students to prepare for competitive exams like JEE, CET and so on…”
  • Malaysia – Library on wheels to make its rounds in PJ, Ampang Jaya and Selayang – The Star. ““I hope people will use the mobile libraries because in the UK, it helped reduce crime by introducing lots of programmes for youths,” said Mastura. She added that besides the four mobile libraries, the state government was planning to add another three in the future, to serve other areas in Selangor” [Really? Where? – Ed.]
  • USA – Trend of apartments, public libraries in same building continues with Good Hope Road project – Journal-Sentinel. “The Good Hope Road project would join a series of similar developments throughout Milwaukee. They are Villard Square Library and apartments, 5190 N. 35th St.; East Library and The Standard apartments, 2320 N. Cramer St.; the current conversion of the Hills Building, 910 W. Historic Mitchell St., to a new library and 60 market-rate apartments, and the proposed new King Drive branch, with 44 market-rate apartments, at the northwest corner of N. King Drive and W. Locust St. The city has paid for the portions of the new buildings that have the library spaces, which it owns. By including apartments, which are owned by the development firms, the new buildings also create property tax revenue”
  • USA – US libraries join struggle to resist the Trump administration – Guardian. “US president Donald Trump could have saved himself some embarrassment this week if he had consulted his local library rather than Fox News before mentioning terror attacks in Sweden. For across the country, librarians have stepped in to verify facts and authenticate web content in a bid to counter fake news reports.” … “Co-ordinating much of the campaign has been Matthew Haugen, a librarian at Columbia University, who set up the LibrariesResist Twitter account. The account and accompanying hashtag highlights local campaigns, shares resources and explains how libraries can be used as sanctuary spaces. Among materials available, according to the Public Books website, are a Stop Trump reading list and a Trump syllabus – a course that “explores Donald Trump’s rise as a product of the American lineage of racism, sexism, nativism and imperialism”.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Youths accused of intimidation campaign against librarian – Press and Journal. “Aberdeenshire city council responded it operated a “zero tolerance” policy towards abuse of its staff after reports of a campaign of intimidation in Newtonhill. Carol Mitchell, network librarian for Portlethen and Newtonhill, highlighted the issue in a message on a village social media site. It stated: “I’m unhappy to report there seems to be an increased incidence of our young folk hanging around the library with the sole intention of frightening and upsetting the senior library assistant who mans the library [on a lone basis]. “Can you please be aware Aberdeenshire Council has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to this type of behaviour
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Council denies Library u-turn amid consultation row – Consultation Institute. “This is not a U-turn, as it has always been our intention to hold further consultations as the Council has a duty to meet the requirements of the Museum and Library Services Act 2010 and public equality duties.”

“Good news from Bath library campaigners who have forced Bath and North East Somerset council (Banes) to back down over places to move the city’s Central Library to a smaller, less central building under the guise of modernisation (see last Eye)

After hundreds of people, including film director Ken Loach,, protested against the plan, and campaigners served a pre-litigation letter challenging the move, the council has agreed to hold a consultation and prepare a business case explaining the relocation.

“This is not a u-turn,” insisted Banes in a statement, claiming that not decision had been made on moving and it had always planned to consult local people. Wags from the Save Bath Library campaign quipped that the council might want to read its own 2m-tall sign in the Podium building, which currently home to the library. It reads “The library is moving”. Library News – Private Eye.

  • Bradford – Events in Bradford for World Book Day 2017 – Telegraph and Argus. “The national celebration, on Thursday, March 2, will be marked by many schools, as well as Bradford’s libraries. Last year thousands of children took part in the Roald Dahl themed event and this year it will mark its 20th anniversary. There will be activities in most of Bradford’s libraries including author visits, arts sessions and storytelling events.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Supporters step up campaign to save Cambridge library – Cambridge News. “A campaigner battling to save a library from the bulldozers claims it is too important architecturally to be knocked down. Cambridgeshire County Council came up with plans to knock down Milton Road Library, in Cambridge, and build a new but smaller library on the site, together with some flats. After an outcry by supporters of the library, the council drew back and asked the public to submit their ideas for the scheme. It says it has now looked at the ideas people have suggested, and has resubmitted the planning application to the city council.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 2017 Shortlist – Architect of the Year Awards. Chester Storyhouse (combined library and theatre and cinema and café) architects Bennetts Associates up for “Public Building Architect of the Year”.
  • Darlington – Hold Darlington’s council to account over library blunder, urge campaigners – Northern Echo. “Cllr Heather Scott said: “The latest revelation is continuing the saga of misinformation, lack of reliable evidence and disregard for genuine scrutiny. “During the scrutiny debate we were again assured that after external expert advice the legality of the cabinet members as sole trustees was not in question and that the chance of a legal challenge would be easily defended. “This is obviously not accurate and causes us to question the reliability of the whole proposal. We have lost complete faith in the ability of the Labour cabinet to safeguard both the relocation of the Library and the future of the Crown Street building.”
  • Devon – A statement from Libraries Unlimited – Libraries Unlimited. “We can confirm that following a review of our current financial situation and in light of the need to make savings of £1.5 million per year as part of the contract with Devon County Council, our Board of trustees have approved recommendations to withdraw enhanced pay for weekend working. The changes to enhanced pay come at a time of financial austerity, when local authorities across the country are looking to reshape, reorganise and rejuvenate library services.  To date, not one library in Devon has had to close its doors, and our aim is to keep it that way. Since our launch in April 2016, we have been developing new and innovative ways of delivering our services and we will continue to do so, ensuring that the people of Devon will continue to benefit from library services.”
  • Dudley – New chapter for borough library services – Dudley News. “For the next five years, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) will be in charge of an employee-led mutual, which will run the 13 libraries, four library links and the Archives and Local History Centre in Tipton Road, Dudley. The 140 members of staff who work within the council’s libraries and archives services will also be transferred to GLL ahead of the takeover in spring” … “The mutual – which the council will pay GLL £3,988,000 to deliver for the first year, dropping to £3,769,000 a year for the remainder of the contract – is expected to make financial savings across the board without impacting on day-to-day services”
  • Gateshead – Job losses, library closures and a council tax hike: What Gateshead’s budget means for you – Chronicle. ““However, we have concerns about some of the details. We’ll be looking closely at the closure of the three libraries. Whickham, for example, is the second most popular library in the borough” … “The council claimed its decision to reduce its libraries from 11 to eight followed extensive public consultation whilst the three at risk will be offered to the local community to run. Coun Gannon said: “We know through our public consultation just how much people value their local library service. “However, when faced with the savage ongoing cuts in government funding we’ve had to take a very difficult decision to reduce the council operated network further.” “We want to work with our communities to help keep local libraries. To do this we need to expand our volunteer managed libraries, which already operate from five locations across Gateshead, to now include Felling, Rowlands Gill and Whickham. We’ll shortly be asking for volunteers to help run these libraries and will be hosting public meetings so residents can find out how they can be involved.”
  • Lancashire – Hopes lifted as library team prepare for talks – Blackpool Gazette. “Volunteers hoping to take over a library closed as part of sweeping cuts are hoping to discuss their plans with County Hall bosses in the coming days. In the autumn Thornton Gala Committee submitted detailed plans to re-open the town’s library. The building has been closed since October when Lancashire County Council transfered services to Poulton and Fleetwood”
  • Lancashire – Old library to become town arts centre – Lancashire Evening Post. Penwortham: ““Whilst nothing has actually been signed yet, the Penwortham Young People’s Centre will remain exactly as it is now with youth clubs, dance classes, mother and toddler groups, and we will be opening a small library service within that building. The library building is very much in the early stages but we are hoping to turn that into a small arts centre with space for plays, shows and films.” The Council’s long-term plans for the library building involve an extension to provide enough space for a stage, seating, toilets and a bar.”
  • Leicester – Pupils send 600 letters to council opposing library closure – Leicester Mercury. 600 letters from college sent to Mayor protesting at loss of Highfield Library. The “head of Moat Community College, said he was “extremely proud” of the pupils for campaigning to keep the library open.  He said: “Around 40 per cent of our pupils qualify for pupil premium because they are disadvantaged in some way.”
  • Liverpool – Cuts that squeeze the life out of Liverpool – Guardian / Letters. “Your piece on the new threat to Liverpool’s remaining libraries is important (Liverpool likely to be forced into cutting more libraries, says mayor, 21 February). The scale of assault on public and civic life here shocks: £330m in cuts since Cameron and Clegg’s coalition government of 2010, with £90m to come, are figures which translate into massive numbers of unemployed people (including former council employees) and desolate landscapes of boarded-up libraries, closed-down day centres and nurseries, and unvisited vulnerable people. Liverpool city council’s director of adult social care, Samih Kalakeche, has resigned, saying: “Frankly, I can’t see social services surviving after two years. That’s the absolute maximum.” The central Conservative government is starving our city and others of essential funds.”
  • Oxfordshire – Oxfordshire History Centre making a move back to revamped Westgate library – Oxford Times. “The Oxfordshire History Centre and family history service is currently based at St Luke’s Church, in Temple Road, Cowley, but will be moved by October. It will coincide with the Westgate’s reopening, with library bosses hoping it will lead to more visitors. The history centre – ran by Oxfordshire County Council – was previously based at the library but was moved several years ago.”
  • Plymouth – Library closures ‘not about money’ say council bosses – Plymouth Herald. “The aim is to make the library service better”. Ten libraries to close. Council says only one fifth of library users affected.
  • Reading – Two Reading libraries move and opening hours will be reduced – Get Reading. “Reading Borough Council has announced it is keeping all seven of the borough’s libraries open but cutting opening hours due to “limited resources”. It is also going to move Whitley Library to South Reading Youth and Community Centre in autumn 2017 and relocate Southcote Library to Southcote Community Centre in the winter.”
  • Somerset – Development Officer – Somerset Council. Library vacancy.
  • Staffordshire – Brereton Library will not close, says council – Staffordshire Newsletter. “Council bosses have vowed that Brereton Library will not close, after a school said it was unable to run it. The library is currently set up inside a building at Redbrook Hayes Community Primary School.” … “Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “This review of Staffordshire’s 43 libraries has been underway since the beginning of 2015 and in that time not one library has been under threat of closure. “Brereton is no different. It will not close. Unfortunately, after expressing an initial interest, Redbrook Hayes Community Primary School didn’t feel able to take on the day-to-day running of the library, but 17 people have said they are willing to volunteer at Brereton and that will make a huge contribution. “The library will remain supported by the county council and we will continue to work towards it becoming a fully-fledged community library in due course.”
  • Swansea – Principal Librarian Swansea Council. Vacancy.
  • Waltham Forest – Thousands respond to controversial library service consultation launched by council – Chingford Times. “In September 2016 Waltham Forest Council launched a public consultation to seek the views of residents on library Local services. The consultation closed on January 31 2017, after being extended to give residents more time to have their say. The council is now preparing a detailed briefing that will be part of the report that is presented to cabinet. It had been hoped that this report could be presented at Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet in March 2017, however officers have asked Scrutiny that the Scrutiny meeting be rescheduled to allow the results of the consultation to be considered in more detail. Cllr Sharon Waldron, cabinet member for digital and customer services said: “We received over 2,000 responses to the public consultation, and I would like to thank everyone who took part and gave their views.”