Two big stories in libraries this week for me. The first was the announcement that Bristol had been contacted by the artist Banksy to ask if he could help in some way after the council there announced they were cutting the budget and possibly closing 17 out of 27 branches. Just recently, after a storm(zy) of protest, the mayor u-turned and gave a reprieve until 2020. On closer inspection, it looks like Banksy hasn’t actually given any money to Bristol. Observers have also pointed out that he couldn’t legally pay for public libraries anyway (that statutory thing I think) and, moreover, depending on the whim of local rich people to fund what is a much-needed public service is no way for a civilized and wealthy country to behave. Indeed, my twitter feed was, and is, full of people saying this.

So let’s have a look at the big picture. Well, public libraries are perhaps the most famous beneficiaries of philanthropy ever. Mr Carnegie’s donations are still around in many beautiful buildings and the work of the Carnegie UK Trust. More recently, the Wolfson Foundation provided a lot of the original money for the People’s Network, and – perhaps less known – the lucky librarians of Hull have received £4 million in the last six years due to the nice James Reckitt Library Trust. On a smaller scale, Rochdale has a literature festival due at least in part to the good wishes of a couple who fell in love in the libraries there.  But, look, Carnegie is so well known because he gave $350 million. That’s easily over £6 billion in today’s money or perhaps seven times the total British public library annual budget. And all of the others have very definitely provided things additional to the core service. And libraries are for life, not just for Christmas.  Just like in the case of volunteering, relying on the whims of nice rich people is no way to run a library service. Unless a new billionaire comes along of course or you’re willing to spend a lot on long-term assistance for one authority.

Perhaps someone can hassle Bill and Melinda Gates to look to the UK. But I doubt very much that there’s any chance  ultra-capitalist Jeff Bezos, whose Amazon has done so much to destroy libraries and bookstores while paying a pittance to his warehouse human drones and avoiding tax, will much help. Perhaps, rather, we should look to, oh I don’t know, our taxes to cover such a service. Just don’t expect many billionaires to think similarly. My view, as stated in this Big Issue article, is “go  big or don’t make the offer”.

Secondly, it’s CILIP Conference week and there was big speech about how the US does its campaigning. Looks like it made quite an impact. Have a look below. And there’s a nice piece about the People’s Network in there as well.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • More Short Stories from the People’s Network – Lorensbergs. “individual accounts from public library staff who know the joys and challenges of providing computers for public use. Each chapter has been provided by a different UK library authority, telling the story of the ongoing importance of this service, and reflecting the needs of our communities in today’s digital age.” … Ayub Khan says ““These stories offer a compelling message on the continuing importance of the People’s Network. It’s a book that deserves to be read by all those with a stake in the welfare and development of our society.””
  • Public’s library support ‘needs to shift to activism’ – Bookseller. “The public should be “weaponised” into supporting libraries as part of a shift towards activism, attendees at the annual conference for the library and information association were told. Delegates at the CILIP Conference in Brighton, which began on Wednesday (4th July), heard from US-based library activist organisation EveryLibrary about “how people power is transforming the way libraries are being funded”, according to a CILIP spokesperson” … “While the UK model of funding is different from the US where public libraries rely on local taxation, often voted for directly by the community, CILIP believes there is scope for EveryLibrary’s model to be adapted. EveryLibrary’s core philosophy is “a call to action from likeminded people” and so far has amassed around 300,000 supporters on a database that can be instantly mobilised into action …” see also Conference 18: Moving from advocacy to activism – CILIP.
  • #uklibchat 2nd July 2018 – Library Advocacy – Wakelet. Summary of Twitter chat.
  • We are recruiting for a new Trustee – Libraries Connected. It could be you.
  • Welcome to the BIC LCF NewsletterBIC “The BIC Library Communication Framework improving communication between library systems”. a history of the LCF and other details.

Axiell Selflib
International news

  • Australia – NSW govt cuts public library funding by 18% in 2018-19 state budgetBooks and Publishing. “The 2018-19 NSW state budget allocated $23.5 million to libraries, down from $28.8m in 2017-18—a reduction of $5.3 million or 18%. LGNSW said the 2018-19 budget had swapped critical infrastructure funding ‘for a grab-bag of short-term sweeteners’, with LGNSW president Linda Scott warning that the NSW state budget sees library funding ‘plummeting to record low levels’. NSW Public Libraries Association (NSW PLA) president Dallas Tout told the Land that local governments already foot 95.2% of the cost of public library services, a figure that would likely have to increase after the government announced the cutback.” [So, a cut of barely 1% in total – something most UK library services would be delighted with – but some NSW libraries are not as well funded as others and the UK is not a good comparator for cuts, being more an outlier –  Ed.]
  • Global And the nominees for the 2018 Public Library of the Year are… – Systematic. Finalists are from the USA, Brazil, Netherlands, Norway and Singapore. “The winner of the 2018 Public Library of the Year will be selected from among these five nominees. The Public Library of the Year is an annual prize awarded to a public library that is either newly built or set up in premises not previously used for library purposes.”

Local news by authority

“A very well-known person from Bristol wrote in and asked us the nature of the challenge and to outline any support we’d need as a city to meet that challenge and that person was Banksy” Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees

“God how grim. Great in the short term, but mind-boggling that the UK is now once again relying on wealthy benefactors to provide a library service. What century is this exactly?! How about we make the wealthy pay their flamin’ taxes instead of hoping for their charity on a whim” @Book_of_Eleanor

  • Dundee – New lift and accessible toilets set to be installed at Dundee library Evening Telegraph. “Leisure and Culture Dundee (LACD) has put forward proposals that will provide access for disabled people to the whole of Coldside Community Library. The installation of a new lift at the rear, and some other internal revisions, will make the 110-year-old, A-listed building accessible to all.”
  • Ealing – Ealing Central Library relocation criticised with fears book stock will be cut by over 70% – Get West London. “Ealing Central Library’s move will mean designated study spaces will be cut by 58%, says councillor Greg Stafford”. Library to be moved to above a Primark. “.. the move was slammed by opposition leader Greg Stafford, Conservative councillor for Hanger Hill, who said on Tuesday (July 3) that residents will not benefit from the relocation. He said: “Under Labour’s plans, the book stock in the new library will be reduced from 124,000 to 35,00 – a 71% reduction. Valuable designated study spaces will be reduced from 155 to 65 – a 58% reduction. “The existing libraries cannot provide any more study spaces and why should our students have to be trekking across the borough looking for a space to study?
  • East Lothian – Port Seton Library gets reprieve after community campaign – East Lothian Courier. “Residents launched a campaign to stop East Lothian Council’s plans to cut back opening hours at Port Seton Library after the move brought an end to evening and Saturday sessions. The local authority said it is now planning to reopen tjhe library on Saturday mornings following feedback from its customers.”
  • Lancashire – Council changes East Lancs libraries opening hours – Lancashire and Morecambe Advertiser. “Each library has been allocated to one of four different bands depending upon local need, so that the library opening hours are proportionate to the population that each library is serving. “
  • Norfolk – Pop up libraries to be trialled ahead of £200,000 cuts to Norfolk mobile libraries – Eastern Daily Press. “Pilot ‘pop up’ libraries are to be trialled in Norfolk villages, ahead of a shake-up to cut £200,000 from the mobile library service.” … “The council has eight mobile libraries, but the council, from next year, plans to cut more than 40pc from the budget to run them.” … “While the particulars of how that money will be saved will not be thrashed out until 2019, councillors yesterday agreed to moves which would set up pilot projects for possible alternatives to the mobile libraries.” … “Other options being explored include ‘pop up libraries’. That would see a member of council staff, with a vehicle, go to a location such as a village hall or community centre and set up units filled with books people could borrow and computers for people to use.”
  • North Yorkshire – Filey Library To Open Next Week – Yorkshire Coast Radio. “The modernised facility has more scope to host services such as the Scarborough Borough Council enquiry desk at a safe, easily accessible venue in the town centre. Along with the rest of the library, the children’s area has benefited from a full makeover, providing an enticing space for children to explore, settle comfortably with a book and enjoy story times and other activities.”
  • Northamptonshire – All Northants libraries threatened with closure to shut before being re-opened by volunteers – Northants Telegraph. “All 21 Northamptonshire libraries earmarked for closure will shut their doors at the end of September and some will only re-open if top conservative councillors running the financially-troubled authority decide. A report released by the county council today (Wednesday) has revealed that despite leading campaigners to believe the libraries were safe until after a judicial review, the authority is now going to bring down the shutters on all of the threatened libraries on September 30. 17 have had bids from community groups to take over their running and a panel of top local tories will make a decision on August 1 whether the bids are successful. However even libraries that are ‘saved’ will close for an unknown period of time.”
  • Northamptonshire – Kettering councillor leaves Tories to stand as independent – Northants Telegraph. “Cllr Hakewill has been a vocal campaigner in the area, campaigning against the proposed closure of Rothwell library and also to have a planned link road in place before 700 homes are built at Rothwell North. The former Kettering Council leader, who was in charge from 2007 to 2011 until he was ousted by colleagues, said he felt he had been badly treated by his party.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Ruddington among libraries refurbished and modernised in Notts – West Bridgford Wire. “Ruddington, Mansfield Woodhouse and Ravenshead Libraries have been refurbished as part of a rolling programme of extensive upgrades by Nottinghamshire’s Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries.”
  • Somerset – Town Council considers earmarking £15,000 to save Highbridge Library – Burnham on sea.com. Councillors concerned that £15k is too much to give to keep library open, and too early in negotiations with Somerset Council.
  • West Dunbartonshire – Libraries subject to new opening hours in bid to save fundsReporter series. “Libraries across West Dunbartonshire were subject to a change in opening hours this week as part of an attempt to make savings for branch improvements. From Sunday, July 1, all eight branches across the area, including Dumbarton, Alexandria and Balloch, closed during quieter times and the reduced costs will help to fund a £421,000 investment to improve the facilities. The changes, which will see all eight branches taking on a new timetable, were informed by two public consultations with library users who said they wanted all branches to remain open, and more money spent on the buildings.”