East Sussex have confirmed the closure of several libraries. Well, that’s depressing. Let’s look at their record before the current unpleasantness:

  1. 2018: Confirmed seven libraries and mobile to be closed.(2) Refurbished Hastings Library reopens (3)
  2. 2017: Reopening of Hastings Library after refurbishment delayed until Spring 2018. (6) Eastbourne Library to incorporate parking warden office. (7) 7 (Langney, Pevensey Bay, Willingdon, Polegate, Ore, Mayfield, and Ringmer) may close. (9)  £720k overspend on Hastings Library (12)
  3. 2016:  £2m cut: opening hours cut by 25%. Pevensey Bay Library has been closed since January 2015 while “a full assessment of the building’s condition takes place.”(2)
  4. 2015: Official opening of Newhaven Library (opened in March). (3) Library opening hours to be reduced by around 25%: £500k p.a. cut. (12)

Hmm, Looks like Pevensey Bay has been doomed for a while but good to see Hastings was refurbished. More importantly to the point of this editorial, looking back to 2015/16, we see the previous cut/s – quite as serious one. And that’s the thing, there’s not just one cut. There’s a definite pattern in many, possibly most, library services of cuts every 2 or 3 years. Now, considering consultations take around six months, plus planning before that, and there’s a lot of work to do when closing libraries, that leaves almost no time for the poor East Sussex (or any other) management team to get proactive. Indeed, it must seem like they’re just managing cuts and decline their whole time. That’s no way to get out of the vicious circle. Now, compare that to Suffolk which seems to have broken the cycle, even building a new library. They’re in a far better position. Some of that may be down to chance, to local politics or geography and not just the fact that it’s a library trust. We don’t really know. However, it looks to me that library trusts are doing better than traditional council ones, and have broken out of the cuts repetitions to some extent. Whether that’s random chance or something more strategic going on can be a subject of argument, and is, but to me it’s highly suggestive that it’s a way out of the cycle, at least for the period of time that the council has agreed the budget for with the trust. But at least the term of that agreement gives them some time to think. Unlike poor East Sussex.


National news

  • Councils ‘struggling’ due to 50% funding cutsLocalGov. “Since 2010-11, 33.7% fewer households have their waste collected at least weekly, the number of bus miles subsidised by local authorities outside London has fallen by 48.4%, and the number of libraries has reduced by 10.3%. ‘Current funding for local authorities is characterised by one off and short-term fixes, many of which come with centrally driven conditions,’ said NAO head Amyas Morse.”
  • Gender parity: is the sector moving in the right direction? – CILIP. “Contributors to this article comment on whether the sector is moving in the right direction, ageism and confidence. Two more articles in the series look at trolling, transparency and transformation and whistleblowing and the role of libraries in the campaign for equality. The articles take their lead from this year’s International Women’s Day campaign #PressforProgress. This year the focus of the day is a report by the World Economic Forum that says parity is over 200 years away according to the 2017 Global Gender Gap Report.”
  • #NotWithoutMe Accelerator Brief – Carnegie UK Trust.”NotWithoutMe supports the development of new and engaging digital inclusion projects, working specifically with vulnerable young people aged 11-25 to develop their digital skills, resilience, confidence, access and critical understanding . The Trust is now looking to support the development of a further three projects through their first digital inclusion accelerator.  The ‘#NotWithoutMe Accelerator offers a six month programme of training support and £3,000 development funding”
  • Setting our goals – Libraries Taskforce. “We will continue to: revitalise the public libraries ‘brand’, backed up by common communications assets, for use by all; develop and run joined-up programmes of promotional activity; seek to get public libraries included in government strategy documents and delivery plans; build a greater recognition within councils of the role that public libraries can play in delivering their strategic objectives” … “And as I mentioned in my January blog, as DCMS funding for the Taskforce ceases in March 2020, we have already started thinking about how work that the dedicated Taskforce team is currently doing starts to become mainstreamed into other Taskforce member organisations. “

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – North-east officers back bid to replace £370,000 failed trust with sport and culture unit – Evening Express. “The authority had previously hoped to create an arms-length body in the form of a trust to run sports centres, museums and libraries to save money. However, councillors halted the proposal after finding out it would no longer be exempt from business rates. Aberdeenshire Council shelled out more than £370,000 on the trust that didn’t come to fruition. The new business unit, if approved, would be called Aberdeenshire Culture and Sport (ACS). As part of the plan it is also proposed that the council sets up an independent organisation, potentially a charity, that would look to raise funds for ACS.”
  • Blackpool – Fears over charges to use Blackpool libraries – Gazette. “The report says: “The timing is not right in 2018 as a new head of libraries is being tasked with reviewing the service offer as a whole which may lead to revised fees and charges recommended in 2019-20. “The premium membership proposal may be resurrected as part of these proposals.” It means charges will remain the same for the coming year, including fines of 20p per day up to a maximum of £10 for items returned late.”
  • Borders – Libraries no longer ‘places of silence’ – BBC. “The main changes being proposed are to reflect the impact of new technology and how the service has developed over the last 10 years. The rules cover matters including library membership, periods of borrowing and inappropriate and offensive behaviour. Despite the move away from the requirement for silence, mobile phone conversations would still be prohibited.”
  • Bradford – Campaigners join hands in bid to save Burley Library – Wharfedale Observer. “A hundred people of all ages gathered at Burley Library and linked arms and hands around the building in a show of support for keeping the library in its present building. Everyone wrapped up warm and circled the 1970s building on the edge of Grange Park. Young and old, friends and neighbours joined together and cheered when the chain was complete.”
  • Bridgend – Borrow a BBC micro:bit from your local library – Gem. “Awen Cultural Trust is hoping to inspire a generation of computer coders, data programmers and digital pioneers, thanks to a new initiative to lend BBC micro:bits free of charge to library users across Bridgend county borough.”
  • Calderdale – D-day looming for Calderdale libraries – but there’s time to have your say Examiner. “Calderdale Council is holding a public consultation from now until Monday, April 30 to drive a review of its 15 community libraries which include Brighouse, Elland, Stainland and Rastrick. ” … “We are reviewing our community libraries to ensure we continue to provide the best possible libraries service to residents in a cost-effective way to meet the service’s challenging requirement to save £160,000 by 2020.”
  • Dudley – Let’s get ready to rhyme-ble! Boxer and poet to host workshop at Stourbridge Library – GLL (press release). “This March, Better, Stourbridge Library will be welcoming Birmingham Poet Laureate and professional boxer Matt Windle, who will be stepping out of the boxing ring and into the library, delivering a free poetry workshop – as well as performing his own spoken word material. Known as ‘The Poet with a Punch’, Matt juggles a dual-career of poet by day, boxer by night. While locals are typically in his corner on fight night, the gloves are off on Saturday 17th March, as the super-flyweight prospect swaps punches for verses at this family-friendly event. Visitors will be treated to exclusive performances of Matt’s work, whilst leading a poetry workshop with a Shakespearean twist, helping visitors to create their very own poetic masterpieces.”
  • East Sussex – Ore Library closure is sadly necessary – Hastings Observer / Letters. Councillor says “The closure of Ore Library is a sad but necessary effort by East Sussex County Council to reduce its expenditure in line with its income. Much local protest has been heard but the fact is that there was exhaustive study carried out across the county into each of the libraries and sadly, as many who use them will acknowledge, there is a steadily declining use of the library facilities.” see also Community bid to retain Ore Library – Hastings Observer.Ore Community Association (OCA) approached the authority, asking if it could take over the running of the facility.”
  • East Sussex – Seven libraries in East Sussex are to shut down – Argus. “Thousands of residents are to lose their local libraries as councillors voted unanimously to close seven yesterday. Closing are Langney, Mayfield, Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Ringmer and Willingdon as well as the mobile library service. They will all disappear on May 5. The Tory-controlled East Sussex County Council says it has no choice because it must save millions of pounds.” see also East Sussex council closes seven libraries – BBC. “Following a 12 week public consultation, the cabinet approved officers’ recommendation to shut seven of 24 libraries and provide a “sustainable library service” while saving £653,000.”
  • East Sussex – Where Eastbourne leads, the UK follows – Eastbourne Herald. Stephen Lloyd MP: “was at County Hall in Lewes on Tuesday to make a final plea to the council cabinet on behalf of Langney Library. I also supported the Residents Association Chairman, John Pritchett, in his powerful request that Willingdon be spared as well”
  • Glasgow – Ten reasons to love Glasgow libraries – Herald Scotland. Advertised content.
  • Kirklees – Harry Potter fans can explore a new exhibition themed around the boy wizard at Cleckheaton Library – Telegraph and Argus. “in association with the British Library in London”
  • Lancashire – Libraries will be open for longer across Lancashire – Lancaster and Morecambe Citizen. “proposed opening times initially agreed by County Hall have changed in response to feedback received from library users and partner organisations during an eight-week consultation, which ran last year from October 2 to November 26”
  • Northamptonshire – Their collective silence has been deafening’ say library campaigners but Northamptonshire MPs hit back after criticism – Northamptonshire Chronicle. “Northamptonshire Libraries Friends Groups and Supporters – a collective group of individuals from library friends groups in the county – is asking for the help of MPs in fighting their corner.” … “”We note with concern the recent lack of comment and action from local MPs, one of whom is the Libraries Minister.”
  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers are praised for saving Norton Hive Library and Community Hub – Gazette Herald. “Cllr Helen Swiers, chairman of North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), visited the Hive with colleagues to see the work of the volunteers and how they have been supported by the council’s Stronger Communities programme, which helps communities to play a greater role in delivering services. ” … “Opening hours have increased from 10 hours a week to 22 hours a week and footfall into the Hive has increased by 70 per cent. “
  • Oxfordshire – Philip Pullman hits out as Oxfordshire library use plummets to its lowest since 2000 – Oxford Mail. “total number of books taken out from county council libraries last year fell below three million for the first time since 2000. In just five years since borrowing reached its 4.2m annual peak in 2011/12, total lends plummeted 33 per cent to 2.8m in 2016/17. The publishing industry, however, has reported record-breaking sales of books and journals, suggesting we are reading more than ever.” … “The author, who lives in Cumnor with his wife Judith, said: “Libraries are closing all over the place, our mobile library service had to be cut, and it’s quite clearly this austerity business which has been in operation for eight years now.”

“Asked what should be done to help libraries, Mr Pullman said: “Vote out this miserable government and get one in which is prepared to spend more on vital services.”

  • Pembrokeshire – Town council’s people power plea to save Pembroke library – Western Telegraph. “Pembroke Town Council are united in their opposition to Pembrokeshire County Council‘s proposals to close Pembroke library and Tourist Information Centre (TIC) as part of a cost-saving exercise. Unless an alternative funding source can be found, proposals to be discussed at the county council’s Cabinet meeting in June are likely to recommend the closure of the town’s library and TIC to be replaced with a mobile library service.”
  • Perth and Kinross – St Johnstone stars challenge children to become reading champions – Courier.The new venture gives youngsters the chance to win match day tickets by checking out books from their local library.” … “Saints have teamed up with Culture Perth and Kinross, the Scottish Professional Football League and the Scottish Book Trust for the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge, aimed at five-to-12-year-olds.”
  • Plymouth – Lunch at the library – an update – Libraries Taskforce. “At Plymouth Libraries, we’re constantly seeking to attract new audiences. Our successful Libraries: Opportunities for Everyone (LOFE) bid funded a project to attract new audiences (specifically the disadvantaged) during the summer holidays.”
  • Somerset – Highbridge’s Churchfield School pupils plea: ‘Save our town’s library’ – Burnham on Sea.com and ‘Save our library’ – Churchfield Church School joins campaign in a bid to block library closure – Burnham and Highbridge News. “The Save Highbridge Library group has been active in campaigning to keep the library open since Somerset County Council launched a 12 week consultation into the future of Somerset’s libraries on January 29. Under the plans, 22 of 34 libraries could close unless ‘community involvement’ is found to keep them running.” and Schoolchildren join the campaign to save local libraries – ITV News and Anger over MP’s silence on libraries at risk – Chard and Ilminster News. “Somerset resident is fuming after claims he called on his MP to take a stand on the future of the county’s library services – but he received no response. Peter Hill, who lives near Chard, wrote a letter to MP Marcus Fysh on January 28 to say he was ‘horrified’ to discover that nine libraries could be shut later this year, including Ilminster.”
  • Somerset – King’s Arms ‘could become library’ – Wellington Today. “The future of libraries across Somerset is being looked at and a consultation is under way with two options for Wellington facility – leave it as it is or form a partnership with the local community to run it. Somerset County Council has indicated it would cost £78,000 a year to run the library and would be willing to offer £5,000 a year if the town council took it on as a community project. Town councillors have already come to the conclusion the library could not be run by volunteers only and is in talks with the local Library Friends Group to see what can be done.”
  • Southwark – New ‘passport to the arts’ launched in Southwark – Southwark News. “The card gives users discounts and offers across the borough, and also doubles as a library card for the council’s twelve libraries. Current offers include £10 off tickets for Julius Caesar at the Bridge Theatre, 10 per cent off any in-house production at Cervantes Theatre, two for one entry at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, and a large popcorn for the price of a small at the Peckham Plex cinema.”
  • Suffolk – New library set to open at Ransome’s Pavilion in Ipswich’s Rushmere area Ipswich Star. “ervice will be running the “Library @ the Pavilion” at the new sports centre at Ransome’s Sports ground in Sidegate Avenue every Wednesday afternoon from 1.30pm to 4.30pm starting next week, March 14. The sessions are part of the Suffolk Libraries Local scheme and have been funded by a £10,460 grant by the Borough’s North East Area Committee, with additional support from Suffolk County Councillor Sandra Gage through her locality funding. Each week, residents will be able to borrow from a selection of books and can reserve books from the main Suffolk Libraries catalogue and use IT facilities.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk County Council gives green light to plans for new Eye Library East Anglian Daily Times. “Plans to knock down an empty office in Eye and create a brand new library for the town have been given the green light.”
  • Suffolk – Young volunteer receives recognition at the library – Lowestoft Journal. “Christian Hutchings, 22, has been helping at the library in Clapham Road South since September 2015 – and he was thrilled to receive a Suffolk Libraries Volunteer award recently. He works mainly in the library’s County Reserve section which he enjoys. Christian says he feels more confident and he’s learned things while he’s been at the library.”
  • Swindon – Library volunteers to update residents on a successful year Swindon Advertiser. “Swindon’s only community library trust is to hold its AGM next week, more than a year after it was formed by Councillor Dale Heenan and volunteers when Covingham Library and Liden Library were under threat of closure. Coun Heenan, chairman of the trustees for Swindon Community Library Trust, said: “2017 was a tough year for all of Swindon’s community libraries. Several parish councils took over their local libraries and the library trust successfully saved Covingham Library and Liden Library from closing.”
  • Wiltshire – Wiltshire Council wins prestigious award for community hubs programme – Gazette and Herald.Community hubs offer services such as libraries, leisure activities, space for community groups to hold meetings and events, all in one place. Calne’s community was the first to open in September 2016, and has been a huge success thanks to its open access system, which allows community groups and other hub users to access the facility out of hours. The hub is currently used by 39 local groups, and as a result the Council has seen the number of volunteers increase, enabling the library and other services to be available for longer, and be more sustainable in the future.”
  • Worcestershire – Redditch library to re-open after Job centre merger – Redditch Advertiser. “library is set to reopen after its merger with the town’s Jobcentre Plus. The library closed on February 26 and will reopen on March 14. The Advertiser reported in January 2017 that the Jobcentre Plus would close under reforms to deal with ‘under-used’ buildings.”