Councils in Bath & North East Somerset (“BANES”) and Warrington have both needed to accommodate to public anger at plans to cut library services this week. The concessions may be more apparent than real – BANES are simply going to do a consultation on moving Central into a co-location away from the town centre (and with half the space) rather than a fait accompli.  Of course, seasoned readers of PLN will know the likelihood of a council actually changing its plans after a consultation in anything but in the mildest terms in order to show they listened but, with anger pretty high in the spa town, which is hardly a normal area of mass political dissent, it’s a step in the right direction. Warrington council, while supporting the initial (in my view highly flawed and biased) consultation are creating a group to see how they can best keep libraries open.  Again, PLN readers will suspect this will simply boil down to “volunteer or we’ll close it” but I am sure we all hope to stand corrected soon.

Meanwhile, the Taskforce have produced two posts on mutualising library services. With austerity now in its seventh (eighth?) year, this is seen as one of the best ways of maintaining library services along with volunteers, co-locations, increased use of volunteers and (increasingly) pressuring parish/borough councils to stump up cash instead.  To their credit, the Taskforce do not present any of these options as a panacea. Which is just as well: those councils which make cuts to libraries often find out the items on the efficiencies/savings/cuts menu can be unpalatable when presented to the public. But then it’s the same public so often who voted for austerity in the first place.



National news

  • Campaigning: Tips & Tactics – Leon’s Library Blog. “It’s always difficult when faced with cuts to library services to know how to respond. Below is a list of suggestions and links to resources that will help when establishing a library campaign” [A very useful list – see also the PLN page from a few years ago – Ed.]
  • Capital development grants for museums, archives and libraries – Welsh Government. “Following the success of the Community Learning Libraries grant scheme, we have opened our capital development grant scheme to museums and archives. We want museums, archives and libraries in Wales to be modern, attractive and welcoming to all. This scheme builds on the strategic aims of Taking Wales Forward and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.”
  • Co-location in Redbridge and exploring the Prosperity Outcome: 12th meeting of the Libraries Taskforce – Libraries Taskforce. A look at the combined gym/library. “We had a presentation from Gareth Morley, head of culture and libraries, who talked about the formation of the Trust several years ago and their priorities for libraries. They have a strong focus on books and place great importance on getting the stock right – both well displayed and right for the community. This is reflected in their high rate of loans, especially for children. Their loans figures are stable – although he emphasised though that they do work hard on this.”.  Also mentions opening of Business and IP Centre in Northampton.
  • Conference programme – CILIPS. “The CILIP in Scotland Annual Conference returns to Dundee on the 5-6 June with the theme of ‘Strategies for Success’. The event will be hosted by our 2017 President Liz McGettigan and will feature the following speakers….”
  • Could an alternative delivery model be right for your library service? – Libraries Taskforce. “This post was written by Fiona Williams, who is Chief Executive of Explore York Libraries and Archive. Explore York spun out of York City Council in May 2014, and is one of the first library service mutuals in England. They have formed a consortium (Optimo) alongside the three existing libraries mutuals – Libraries Unlimited, Suffolk Libraries and Inspire – and consultancy firm Mutual Ventures. Optimo are running two free libraries masterclasses in March, which are funded by DCMS through the Taskforce, and will also be producing a toolkit for the Taskforce to support other library services considering exploring alternative delivery models”
  • How can we keep libraries open when disabled people have no care: Road to Wigan Pier 2017 – Mirror. “In Walsall, two miles away from the Broadway North centre, shuttered-up Pleck Library is announcing its closure. Saved from the last round of cuts in this worn West Midlands town, it will now close altogether, taking with it the over-50s club, Work Club, Gujarati Reading Group, Cradle Club and Chatterbooks – a network of community lifelines extinguished” … “They are ripping the heart out of some of the poorest areas in the town,” local campaigner Martin Lynch says.” … “Even before the latest round, Walsall was the fourth most deprived town in England. Yet it has now been told by central government to decimate its remaining budget.” … “A shattered mother in her 70s tells me that closing libraries is the right decision. “My son has learning disabilities, autism, challenging behaviour, a heart condition,” she says. “He has lost so much support he is now severely vulnerable”

“You can’t compare books with lives.” This is the Cameron government’s legacy, choosing between learning and care. It is not Hobson’s choice but Osborne’s choice.”

  • Mutuals and other alternative delivery models: workshops – Libraries Taskforce. “This post is the first in a series which collates and shares the content of workshops given during the recent Libraries Deliver: Ambition sector forums. It was written for us by Jonathan Lindley, the Director of the Mutuals programme in DCMS”
  • Read all about it! Books are back in fashion, shelves are wackier than ever and libraries are the new stars of Instagram – Daily Mail. “Good-looking or quirky book shelves are becoming so popular that they’ve earned their own hashtag on photo sharing site, Instagram. Type in #shelfie and hundreds of images pop up of hexagonally arranged books, colour co-ordinated spines and novels that appear to be floating up walls” [As one would expect with the Mail, there doesn’t seem to be any mention or awareness of public libraries – Ed.]
  • Reading Friends test sites announced – Reading Agency. “Reading Friends is our exciting new UK-wide befriending project, funded by The Big Lottery, to empower, engage and connect vulnerable and isolated older people, people with dementia and carers through social reading activities. We are delighted to announce that from June 2017 to June 2018, we will be working in partnership with a range of organisations across four areas of England to test different approaches to delivering the Reading Friends programme, co-produced with older people. The test projects will adopt a range of social reading models including one-to-one befriending and reading groups to connect older people in different settings including libraries, care homes and sheltered housing…”. Sheffield, Newcastle, Oldham and West Sussex are the four boroughs involved.

International news

  • India – 148 public libraries to soon provide online coaching, solutions to studentsKashmir Monitor. “Minister for Finance, Culture, Labour & Employment, Dr Haseeb Drabu today launched the first ever Public Libraries e-learning initiative to provide quality coaching and comprehensive solutions to the students aspiring to appear in NEET, JEE and CET. Under the novel initiative, IT-enabled learning material, including video lectures, e-books and written notes, shall be made available free of cost in all the Government Libraries across the State to facilitate students crack NEET, JEE, CET and other competitive examinations…”
  • USA – Lesson plan: What public libraries can teach us about immigration – PBS Newshour Extra. “This NewsHour Extra lesson plan uses video from PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs’ newest series, New Americans, to explore what immigration looks like at grassroots levels across the country”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Bath and North East Somerset Council will consult over Bath Central Library move – Bath Chronicle. “The local authority has said the suggestion of a Bath Central Library move to Manvers Street was a done deal was “premature”. Last week, Bath and North East Somerset Council received a letter from the campaign group Save Bath Library which threatened legal action. At the budget meeting on Tuesday (February 14) the council said this was “premature” and behind the scenes legal advisers had already responded to the campaigners.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Director Ken Loach joins hundreds in Bath library move plan protest – BBC News. “Hundreds of protesters, including film director Ken Loach, gathered in Bath to demonstrate against plans to move the city’s central library. Bath and North East Somerset Council is considering the move in an attempt to save £800,000 a year. However, campaigners say the new base would be smaller and not meet demand. Mr Loach said the library was a “big feature in the centre of Bath” and putting it somewhere “less accessible” was a “bad sign”. “The library is very well-used… [and] really expresses something of the community of the city which is hard to find now,” the Bath-based film director said.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Hundreds protest in defence of Bath’s library service outside B&NES budget meeting – Bath Chronicle. “A large group of protesters gathered outside the Guildhall last night (February 14) as city councillors voted on the 2017/18 budget. Detailed within Bath and North East Somerset Council‘s three year plans are savings to scrap its £5,000 arts grant and moving library facilities to save £800,000 a year in the long term. Protester Cath Senior, a teacher from Bath, said: “We don’t support any of the cuts. I don’t support the library moving into a smaller place that is less accessible to a lot of people in Bath. I’m opposing these cuts to the arts and the park and ride proposal on Bathampton Meadows”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Waterloo Road’s new Surgery, Library and Children’s Centre – Journal. “Plans have been unveiled this week for Radstock’s new GP surgery – which will also contain the town’s Library and Children’s Centre. Designs for the health and community development, which will sit on the green site next to Waterloo Road’s Council-owned car park, will be unveiled at a public exhibition on Thursday, 2nd March. The new centre is set to include a GP surgery, pharmacy, the library, health visitors, Children’s Centre and community kitchen.”
  • Blackpool – Library jobs under threat to save cash – Blackpool Gazette. “The 50 staff working across the town’s eight libraries were called into meetings last week as part of a consultation process.Blackpool Council said it could not say how many jobs might be at risk. It said the restructuring was part of overall savings of £18.7m from this year’s budget, which includes making 80 people redundant with another 70 contracts to end.  Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “We are hugely proud of having kept the six libraries that we inherited in 2011 open, and on having re-opened two libraries that the Conservatives wanted to close”
  • Cornwall – Council to revisit library plans – Bude and Stratton Post. “Camelford Town Council is set to revisit their initial plans regarding the takeover of the town library after the Town Trust raised objection to part of the proposals. At the recent meeting of the town council, mayor Rob Rotchell said he had a conversation with representatives of the Town Trust, who own the town hall/library building, about the council’s ideas of how the library would look when they take over the running of the facility from Cornwall Council…”
  • Cornwall – Library Data – What Do They Know. Use of Cornish Studies Library have changed from 30712 visitors 2011-12 to 28,579 2015-16.
  • Guernsey – Crowd funding appeal to transform Guernsey children’s library – ITV News. “Islanders are being asked to give money to help refurbish Guernsey’s children’s library. £120,000 is needed to transform two rooms at Guille-Allès. A crowd funding appeal has been launched online to help raise the funds.”
  • Kirklees – Libraries are vital and need to be protected – Spenborough Guardian / Letters. “I am more than unhappy about the proposed cuts to Kirklees libraries outlined recently. The cuts, if approved, allows only £2.2million for all our local libraries.This is not enough money for a service that provides so much to local communities. “
  • Lancashire – Report into possible new public sector model for Lancashire published – Lancashire County Council. “The report, produced for the council by professional services firm PwC, suggests how services could work together more efficiently, focusing on individuals and the neighbourhoods they live in, while tackling the financial challenges facing the sector”. No mention of libraries. In the full report, it is stated that the surviving libraries and registrars will be retained by the ouncil “as they are best delivered at county level”.
  •  Manchester – Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre celebrates first birthday with big bash – Manchester City Council. “Levenshulme’s Arcadia Library and Leisure Centre is celebrating its first birthday with a free fun-filled afternoon of crafts, games and exercise for people of all ages.” … “At the library, residents can get creative with Manchester artist Miriam Wild, play bingo, make badges, or have their face painted – and much more.  Visitors will also be able to try out an exercise bike, or have their photos taken in front of a green screen, allowing them to pose as ‘Olympic champions’ in a range of sports…”
  • Manchester – Author and illustrator Nick Sharratt urges dads to play a bigger role in their children’s reading – Manchester Evening News. “Dads are being urged to play a bigger role in their children’s reading – especially if they have a son. Award-winning illustrator and author Nick Sharratt is backing the campaign which comes as research shows fathers have an important impact on their children’s reading behaviours and attitudes, particularly among boys. Nick is supporting a new competition, part of the Read Manchester campaign from Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust, calling on dads to share selfies as they read with their children…”
  • North Somerset – North Somerset Council spending £800k in cash-saving bid after libraries review – Mercury. “North Somerset Council will spend more than £800,000 on libraries and children’s centres in a bid to save money in the long term following a review of its services.”… “A further £175,000 will be spent on implementing self-service facilities, while £30,000 has been set aside to enhance IT infrastructure. The council hopes the initial investment will save hundreds of thousands of pounds in the coming years due to reduced overheads, with savings of £500,000 forecast by 2019.”
  • Plymouth – Angry community turns out in force to fight library closure plan – Plymouth Herald. “Angry library users accused council bosses of “ripping the heart out of the community” – Peverall Library users shout “rubbish” and “we don’t believe you” at council officials. “Cllr Glenn Jordan (below), Conservative cabinet member for culture, admitted: “If we close this building the service is not going to be as good. Whatever replaces this would not be as good because it won’t be permanent.”
  • Plymouth – Comedy writer Armando Iannucci backs Plymouth library campaign – Plymouth Herald. “An award-winning comedy writer and director has lent his support to a campaign to save Plymouth’s libraries. Armando Iannucci, the brains behind The Thick of It, In The Loop and Veep, re-tweeted a message from Plymouth resident Fiona MacLachlan regarding the council’s plan to shut North Prospect library.
  • Plymouth – Library closure would mean loss of a ‘Safe Place’ for disabled – Plymouth Herald. “Closing a city library would mean the loss of a ‘Safe Place’ for people with learning disabilities who are faced with crime, harassment or abuse. The Safe Places scheme allows anyone carrying an ‘I need help’ card to seek refuge in a range of community spots. The scheme was set up eight years ago to combat bullying and abuse of adults with learning disabilities in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. There are dozens of Safe Places in Plymouth including North Prospect library, which the council has earmarked for closure.
  • Plymouth – Livewell @ The Library – Plymouth Libraries.  Health Promotion resources catalogue listing items that can be borrowed from the library service. ” Livewell have created a health promotion resource catalogue which is available through the Plymouth City Council Library Service. Resources can be borrowed for healthcare events, education and promotions. The resources can be found on display at Plymouth Central Library but are available for delivery across all Plymouth libraries”
  • St Helens – Cultural Hubs – Arts In Libraries Conference – Eventbrite. “This conference in St.Helens will explore the journey that the authority has been on since their arts in libraries work began back in 2011, through to winning the best arts project category in the National Lottery Awards 2016 – www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtthoQcDwhU and right through to the present day. ”
  • Staffordshire – Councillor insists Lichfield Library petition was based on “scare campaign of misinformation” – Lichfield Live. “…now Cllr Jon O’Hagan has also criticised the campaigners. The Conservative representative for Stowe ward on Lichfield District Council said: “Theirs was a scare campaign of misinformation. “The petition asked people to save the library, not the building. The library was never at risk.””
  • Staffordshire – Green Party accuses Lichfield MP of insulting thousands who signed library petition – Lichfield Live. Thousands sign petition against library move but Michael Fabricant MP praises it: “Lichfield’s Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said the move was a “win-win” and criticised the way the some elements of the local branch of the Green Party – which led a petition against the move – distributed what he says was incorrect details about the future plans for The Friary site” … ““It is a model for imaginative thinking and I was pleased to raise it in Parliament. Credit where credit is due.””.  However, Greens say ““The petition was calling for the people of Lichfield to be consulted on the future of their much-loved library. Instead, nearly all of the councillors who spoke completely ignored the content of the petition, and just talked up the move to St Mary’s and what a wonderful idea it was.”
  • Suffolk – All Suffolk libraries safe for now – but struggling with more spending cuts – East Anglian Daily Times. “ll Suffolk’s 44 libraries should be able to stay open despite a cut in support from the county council, senior staff have said. ” But £200k cut still confirmed. “Ms Wheeler said that while the grant cut was challenging, the staff would be working out how to make it work for users. She said: “Now the final decision has been made we will be reviewing how best to run the library service for less money next year and creating a sustainable future for the county’s library service.”
  • Warrington – Focus turns to working group as LiveWire’s library plans approved by councillors – Warrington Guardian. “Livewire’s plans for the future of libraries have been unanimously approved by councillors at an executive board meeting. Following a public consultation last year on proposals to shut nine libraries, the company prepared a report based on residents’ responses, which included scrapping plans to move central library to Golden Square and creating a working group to look at the issue afresh before reporting back in November. And council leader, Cllr Terry O’Neill defended LiveWire’s handling of the process.”.  Group will meet to work out how to keep libraries open with drastically reduced funding.
  • West Berkshire – West Berkshire to axe half its library staff – BookSeller. “West Berkshire Council has voted to axe almost half of its library staff, with volunteers expected to fill the vacancies, Newbury Today has reported. In a bid to help the council save £580,000 a year, the cuts will see seven of the districts nine libraries manned by a single staff member, who will be supported by volunteers….”
  • West Sussex – Laughter workshops at West Sussex libraries – Chichester Observer. Various workshops and events for health and wellbeing week.