I was interested to see the news from Birmingham today that the trust intended to seek philanthropic donations is being closed down. Turns out it’s costing more money that it was taking in, mainly because people are wary of simply paying for something cut by the council. It caught my eye especially as there was a recent CILIP piece on philanthropy that was largely in favour of it.  I’m wary of it myself. While, philanthropy is nothing new in the UK, as the many Carnegie libraries show, but it’s a lot less common here than it is in the US. Also, as Birmingham shows, it seems to be a case of success breeding success … so philanthropy may only accentuate the increasingly obvious divide between library services who are doing well and those who are cutting like no-one’s business. Moreover, the Government naturally loves it as philanthropy reduces their need to support the library service.  I suspect they call it “imaginative” and “innovative” quite often. While I welcome any money for libraries, I suspect (like volunteers) it’s no way to run an important national service and the key must be proper funding in the first place.

I tweeted this - Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) retweeted it. My Twitter feed has been going crazy ever since.

I tweeted this – Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) retweeted it. My Twitter feed has been going crazy ever since.


Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than this post alone.  Only authorities with 6 or more are included. :

  • Lancashire (14, +2), North Yorkshire (9, +3), Plymouth (7, -1), Essex (6: largely positive), Lincolnshire (6, largely positive),


  • Authors condemn £4m library fund as a ‘sop’ and a ‘whitewash’ – Guardian. “Authors Patrick Gale and Mark Billingham have slammed a government fund to support innovation in public libraries as “a sop, a smokescreen and a whitewash” that does nothing to help the fundamental crisis facing the sector. They were joined by Horrid Henry creator Francesca Simon in criticising the ability of the £4m scheme to rescue the beleaguered sector. Though Billingham welcomed investment in libraries, he said: “It is hard not to view this as a smokescreen – a sop – to those who have long fought the cause of libraries while their funding nationwide continues to be slashed.” Describing himself as increasingly depressed at the state of the sector, Gale told the Guardian: “This is a kind of whitewash and it makes me cross.””

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 20 March 2017 to Question 68114, on public libraries: complaints, which 15 local authorities have been investigated since 2010; and what the outcomes were of those investigations.” Keith Brennan MP Shadow Culture Minister.

The local authorities that are being or have been investigated are Lancashire, Lambeth, Southampton, Harrow, Sheffield, Newcastle, Lincolnshire, Bolton, Brent, Isle of Wight, Lewisham, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Doncaster and Surrey. In respect of Lancashire, Lambeth and Southampton these investigations are on-going and no final decision has been made. With regard to Harrow, Sheffield, Newcastle, Lincolnshire, Bolton, London Borough of Brent, Isle of Wight, Lewisham the Secretary of State decided with each of these cases not to direct a local inquiry. In the case of Somerset and Gloucestershire no action was required as both local authorities reverted to their original library service provision following successful judicial review challenges and with respect to Doncaster and Surrey no action was taken.” Rob Wilson MP Shadow Libraries Minister. They Work For You.

  • London’s libraries lead innovation – Arts Council England. “A discovery lab, a youth-led community archive, and the country’s first educational soft play: London’s libraries are using more and more innovative ways to engage with and help their communities.” [They don’t particularly lead innovation – ACE bids were nicely geographically spread out and it’s noticeable from doing PLN that innovation can come from anywhere in the UK, especially considering the massive benefits London has in terms of population and wealth – Ed.]
  • Meeting funding challenges with business support for enterprising libraries – Libraries Taskforce. “Whether it’s finding ways to make precious funding go further, or moving to a social enterprise model, business support and advice can be transformational. This is why we, at Creative United, are launching a new Arts Council England-funded business support programme designed specifically for organisations in the arts, museums and libraries.” … “The Prosper business support programme is open for applications between 27 March and 31 May, with business support activities set to begin in June 2017. We can only accept 70 organisations onto the programme, and we expect competition for places to be high.
  • Seven Teenagers Chosen to Shape Youth Writing Conference – Scottish Book Trust. “programme aimed at helping to increase opportunities for young people to access and contribute to literary culture across Scotland. The group are representative of teen engagement with creative writing and illustration in Scotland, and include a screenwriter developing a sitcom script; two short story writers; two novelists; an illustrator with a focus on history; and a Gaelic prose writer. This team of young writers and illustrators will be responsible for planning and hosting StoryCon 2017, Scotland’s biggest creative writing and illustration conference for young people”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Shocked to hear ‘The council has never said the library was moving’ – Bath Chronicle / Letters. “I was shocked to hear a Council Director say (three times) “the Council has never said the library was moving”. Is it any wonder people do not trust B&NES? There was a two-metre “Your library is moving” in the library for months. I also saw this on leaflets, B&NES website, a press release to the Chronicle just before Christmas and various pieces by Councillors since. I’ve heard our Council Leader say this on BBC Bristol Radio, I’ve seen Councillor Veal say this on BBC Points West. It’s still on Ben Howlett’s website. My conclusion from attending this meeting was that Bath is being taken for a ride by an alt-truth Council and I think we deserve better.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Time to enhance Bath’s library for all users – Bath Chronicle / Letters. “Many do still come to browse the very wide range of books for all ages, while up to 60 children can be seen enthusiastically joining in the regular activities, in the child safe library area. Getting a seat in the large study area – with high speed wifi, laptop plug in facility, and closeness to quality reference books – can prove really difficult. Visitors and residents alike are regularly seen seeking help from the highly qualified staff”
  • Birmingham – Council cuts blamed as Library of Birmingham trust wound up – Birmingham Mail. “When the city council started imposing the cuts, the private philanthropy dried up. People just felt they were paying for the cuts.” He added: “I think it needs a more permanent solution. I have been made aware, by talking to colleagues in the library service, that libraries in Europe and the US get a lot more philanthropy than we get.”
  • Bristol – Two out of three Bristol libraries could close, says former finance chief – Bristol Post. “Geoff Gollop, who was in charge of the city council’s finances under previous mayor George Ferguson, believes that large-scale closures are inevitable.”

“A “redesign of the service” is local government jargon for trying to keep as many libraries open as possible by running them with volunteers or sharing library space with other council departments or public bodies”

  • Bristol – Update on Libraries consultation Bristol Council. “The library service is preparing for a citywide public consultation and is in the process of creating a consultation draft with updated supporting material as available in the previous consultation. We will be assessing our current libraries against criteria to establish a geographical spread of provision for the city which will be reduced in number. We would welcome input on the criteria to be used and how these might be weighted ” … “The budget proposal agreed was a saving of £1.4m. This was profiled as a saving of £300,000 in 17/18, £740,000 in 18/19, £360,000 in 19/20. This saving is 30% of the current library budget. The £300,000 saving has been achieved for 17/18. We propose to find the savings in one staff review and to implement a new structure and service by August 2018 with changes to libraries and buildings from April 2018.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Tourist centres in Wycombe district to merge with libraries – Bucks Free Press. “Tourist information centres in the Wycombe district are set to merge with the library service from next month in a move which the council says will save taxpayers “thousands of pounds”. Wycombe District Council (WDC) confirmed it will pay Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) Library Services to run the information service, with the “more efficient” arrangement saving the district council around £200,000 over the length of the initial five-year agreement.”
  • Bury – OAP, Derek Ryan, who claims his local library saved his life is fighting against its closure – This is Lancashire. “Derek Ryan says Moorside Library and Community Centre has been a refuge for him since the death of his wife of 58 years, Patricia, in September. The library is one of ten earmarked for closure across the borough by Bury Council. Groups are campaigning against the closures and the council will make its final decision in May. Mr Ryan, aged 85, said: “After my wife died I became extremely lonely. It was a very difficult time because we were together for 58 years and for the last five years of her life I cared for her, answered questions for her at appointments and became her voice.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Chester library opening date at Storyhouse is announced – Chester Chronicle. “Current library building will close for good on March 31 for the big move to £37m cultural centre” … “The library will include a dedicated children’s section, complete with an arts/crafts messy play area and a storytelling room; dedicated family and local history section; digital facilities and services; flexible event spaces; increased opening hours and opportunities to get involved” … “As well as a world class library, Storyhouse will offer a state-of-the-art theatre, a boutique cinema, exhibition and meeting spaces, plus a café/restaurant and bar.” … “Multimedia will be relocated to the wider library network. Multimedia will nonetheless be available to reserve, collect and return in Chester when Storyhouse opens.”
  • Darlington – Darlington’s Crown Street Library move to be completed by spring 2018 – Northern Echo. “cornerstone of Crown Street is set to be vacated within one year under council plans to close Darlington’s central library. Labour councillors sitting in a full Darlington Borough Council meeting on Thursday evening unanimously agreed to run a severely reduced library service from the town’s Dolphin Centre. The decision also sees 25 members of library staff now facing redundancy, as well as one operator of the mobile library service, which has been scrapped and taken off the road” see also Darlington Grade II-listed library set to close – BBC. “The town council rubber stamped the closure at a meeting on Thursday and said the move will save the Labour-run authority more than £300,000 a year. Darlington councillor Nick Wallis said: “The council has to save almost £12m a year between now and 2019/20. “Relocating the library from Crown Street to the Dolphin Centre will save in excess £310,000 a year.”” see also Darlington Crown Street Library to close – ITV.
  • Darlington – Visitors and membership increases at Hereford Library – Hereford Times. “The library in Broad Street reopened at the end of January following a 14-month closure due to asbestos. And in February, 565 new members joining the library, ranging in age from just a few months old to 93. Visitor numbers have also increased with 3,933 visitors recorded for the month of January when it was housed at the town hall compared with 16,957 visitors to the newly reopened Broad Street site in February.”
  • Hampshire – ‘Sexist’ Hampshire library bookmarks criticised – BBC. “Two bookmarks promoting male and female-only novels have been criticised as “sexist” by a Hampshire author. One of the county council-produced bookmarks features the words “Male Lit” and the names of 18 male authors, while the “Chick Lit” bookmark only mentions female writers. Author Lucy Cruickshanks, who found the bookmarks at Eastleigh Library, said: “Everything about them wound me up.” Hampshire Libraries said they were now being withdrawn.”
  • Kent – Kent libraries get funding for ‘digital playgrounds’ – Kent County Council. “Kent’s libraries have secured funding of more than £104,000 from Arts Council England to create technological and innovative spaces for children living in disadvantaged areas. The ‘Digital Playground’ initiative was presented to Arts Council England by KCC’s Libraries, Registration and Archives service as a way to help children to explore their creativity through the use of technology, with activities including robotic modelling, digital image making and coding.”
  • Kent – Pensioner locked in Birchington library – Kent Online. “A pensioner trapped in Birchington library after staff went home and locked the doors has been freed by police. Retired removal man Peter Haselgrove, 75, was forced to call 999 following the gaffe by employees at the building in Alpha Road at 2pm. He was left stuck in the library with alarms sounding around him for two hours.”
  • Lambeth – Background history to latest libraries campaigns – News from Crystal Palace. “Only in Lambeth, it seems, is the word ‘library’ usually followed by ‘controversy’.  Ever since demonstrators occupied Herne Hill’s Carnegie library for several days in April 2016, libraries have been a politically charged topic in the borough. At the time of writing, the borough’s Carnegie and Minet libraries are closed while, further north, Tate South Lambeth and Durning libraries have been reprieved temporarily from closure, and the Waterloo library has been squeezed into a local church building….”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Council “agreed £7 million fee reduction with Greenwich Leisure” over controversial libraries plans – “Sponsorship of Black Cultural Archives was contingent upon deal” – News from Crystal Palace. “The report by The People’s Audit says that at the time of the final Culture 2020 report in October 2015 … that a GLL fee reduction was to be recurring and would amount to some £7 million over several years rather than being a “one off” as the council has suggested”
  • Lancashire – Can you help revive town’s library? – Blackpool Gazette. Lytham: “A group including representatives of organisations such as the town’s Civic Society and Heritage Group is making a last-ditch plea for ideas and possibly even financial backing to try and ensure community use of the Grade II-listed building – which housed the library for more than a century until last September – isn’t lost to history.”

We are  completely open with our customers about fees and charges for overdue loans. We give customers every opportunity to avoid debts, and will contact people who have overdue loans on several occasions by email and/or telephone to remind them to return the items to avoid fines. We only resort  to the debt collection process when a  book is three months overdue. We also have the discretion to waive fines in special cases – if any customer has a problem with returning a book they should call us so we can assist sensitively.

“This is nothing new – we have always managed fines this way. For those who return books late without good reason, we reserve the right to recover fines and charges in full – including fixed debt recovery charges which we make no profit from. This is to ensure we can continue providing an excellent selection of books and DVDs for our customers and to keep stock in circulation so as many people as possibly can enjoy the service.” Lincolnshire – GLL respond to news of sending borrower details to debt collection agencies (via email).

  • North Yorkshire – Kirkbymoorside Library gets ready to open as a community managed library next month – Gazette and Herald. “One of the libraries in this category is Kirkbymoorside, which will relaunch into this bright new dawn on April 1. Chris Dowie, town councillor and chairman of the library steering committee, said: “We’re sad that many librarians across the county are losing their jobs. We feel it would be even more sad if libraries were closing and that is why we’ve come forward to set up the community library.” In preparation for April, the library has a spruced up logo designed by local schoolchildren, and has been recruiting extra volunteers.” … “They have enough volunteers to be open 30.5 hours per week.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library volunteers resort to FOI in council business rates row – Northern Echo. “Residents looking to run their local library have discovered that while a council has waived business rates for more than 160 sports clubs and other organisations, they have been given no such assurance. The charity which has been formed to take over the running of Stokesley Library in April is demanding to know why Hambleton District Council is the only district authority within North Yorkshire that is not giving the district’s new community run libraries an automatic 100 per cent reduction in business rates.”
  • Nottingham – ‘Storysmash’ libraries project receives Arts Council funding  – National Videogame Arcade. “An innovative project that will see Nottingham City Council’s Libraries Service work with The National Videogame Foundation to improve literacy and digital skills has been funded by Arts Council England (ACE) to the value of £226,235. Other partners include the University of Nottingham and Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. ‘Storysmash’ will start on 1 April and will deliver a 12 month programme of activities using the close connection between reading, creative writing as well as creative gaming to develop confidence, new skills and to address issues of low literacy in those aged 11-25 years in Nottingham City”
  • Plymouth – People power could save Peverell library, says poet laureate – Plymouth Herald. “A ‘strong support base’ could help save a popular Plymouth library from closure, according to the city’s poet laureate. Primary school teacher Thom Boulton, who performs under the name Blaidh Nemorlith, is urging the council to take everybody’s views into account as a public consultation enters its final few weeks. “At the meetings they seem very much to be listening,” Thom told The Herald. “The hope is obviously that they take everything on board. Hopefully it turns out positively for the whole library service across the city.””
  • Sandwell – Arts Council funding for ‘tech suites’ at Sandwell libraries – Sandwell Council. “New ‘tech suites’ – with iPads, virtual reality headsets, robotics and 3D printing – are coming to a library in each of Sandwell’s six towns following a boost from Arts Council England. Sandwell Council successfully bid for £85,840 to develop the suites at Oldbury, Blackheath, Tipton, Smethwick, Wednesbury and West Bromwich Central libraries.”
  • Shropshire – Hub in library to get new privacy screens – Shropshire Star. “… he plans to introduce small “pods” for people to use to discuss personal or private issues which he hopes will made the area less intimidating for people walking through to the main library. “We’ve got a system of acoustically shielded pods,” he said. “We’ve gone for something that’s temporary rather than something that’s built in so that if we need to move them or redesign them we can. “I’ve tried to address criticisms and concerns of privacy and dignity for the library users and the Hub users. I want this to work for the Hub users and for the library, but it’s very much a learning curve. It has been since the Hub opened and I’m very open-minded about where we go with this.”
  • Waltham Forest – Community declares its love for under-threat Hale End Library in Highams Park – Guardian series. “The first ever Love Hale End Library event on Saturday, April 22, is hoping to show the Highams Park community all the building has to offer. As part of a campaign to increase the library’s use, the event will sprawl across Highams Park from its site in The Avenue to the Overground station car park. Last year the council backtracked over its plans to move the library to smaller premises in Signal Walk, near the Tesco superstore. It followed a campaign which gathered thousands of signatures in opposition to the plans with further thousands joining online groups in solidarity.”
  • Wigan – ‘Transforming services’ is key to saving them – Wigan Today. “Plans to maintain the borough’s 15 “beating heart” libraries amid budget cutbacks are set to be approved by council bosses this week. Officers have been tasked with delivering £1.4m of savings but say closures will not be necessary.”