Sad news from Cardiff, as it has become apparent the council is severely cutting the library service by stealth, cutting many paid and experienced library staff under the guise of a reorganisation. Time has shown that this is the easiest way to gut a public library service without having significant public protest. A closed library causes placards but one renamed a hub with half the floorspace and staff causes annoyance but little more. News received last week – and confirmed by exchanges on social media – is that many of the staff remaining are being quietly pushed out, with housing managers taking over many of the top jobs. You may not see this in the press but you will see sadly see this if you go to one of the libraries. Councils are learning to camouflage their cuts but the damage to the community will, I fear, not be so easily disguised.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Be the Change – Leon’s Library Blog. “Sometimes it’s easy to become cynical or complacent about voting; whether that’s for national and local elections or indeed for something as simple as representation on a professional body. I know the feeling! But despite the peaks and troughs of pessimism over the years I have never lost the feeling that ‘voting’ really does matter. So with that in mind I would urge all Cilip members to note and vote in the current Cilip election for three Board Members and the CILIP Vice-President.”
  • Homelessness: how other countries can avoid a US-style crisis – Conversation. “This achievement should be salvaged from the damage done by Right To Buy – a policy which sold off social housing without replacing it – and austerity, which has prompted a sell-off of public assets and land, as well as the closure of childrens’ services, libraries and community centres. ” … “The UK has a long and vibrant tradition of community development, creating a supportive built environment and social infrastructure of schools, libraries and other municipal services for residents. “
  • It’s Easier For EU Citizens With An Android Phone To Stay In U.K. After Brexit – Value Walk. “To help users without smartphones, those who lack the needed digital skills, and iPhone users, the Home Office has awarded a £91 million contract to France-based Sopra Steria. The company is entrusted with installing computer terminals at 56 local libraries around the U.K.”
  • Moving on but not giving up on public libraries… – UK Library News. [Elizabeth Ash] “I’ve decided to give up collating daily library posts … It takes up a considerable amount of my time and I really don’t have the time to commit to this any more. This doesn’t mean though, that I’ve given up on libraries.  The news is ever more depressing as central government and local authorities seem hell-bent on tearing apart what was once a great public library service.”
  • The Reading Agency urges for £200m government intervention and ‘Book Relief’ – Reading Agency. “Reading can help halt the “loneliness epidemic” but needs a £200m government injection as well as its own version of Sport Relief, according to a newly published report. Meanwhile The Reading Agency, which commissioned the report, has unveiled an inaugural programme ‘Reading Friends’ to empower older people, to coincide with the report’s findings.” see also The Reading Agency urges for £200m government intervention and ‘Book Relief’ – BookSeller.
  • Revealed: Britain’s unhealthiest and healthiest high streets – is yours on the list? – Mirror. “According to research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) areas overloaded with bookies, tanning shops and fast food restaurants can knock two and a half years off locals’ lives compared with those that have libraries, leisure centres and opticians.”
  • SELMS Consortium – reflecting our shared values of customer service, value for money and innovation – Libraries Taskforce. “SELMS is a partnership of libraries which are working together to improve and widen access to resources for all their customers. The SELMS consortium was established in 2006 when 6 forward-thinking public library authorities joined forces to help deliver savings through shared working. Their vision included a shared library management system (LMS), which would offer a better, wider and more consistent customer service.” …. “Being part of a consortium can sometimes be challenging, and there are occasionally compromises that have to be made. However, at a time when there are many demands on library services, with little resources, the benefits it brings well outweigh these.”
  • UK Libraries Join Country-wide Digital Book Club – Together We Read. “Together We Read is a free program that runs for two weeks and only requires a library card to get started. Circe is published by Bloomsbury Publishing and can be read on all major computers and devices, including iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phones and tablets and Chromebook™ without waitlists or holds. The title will automatically expire at the end of the lending period, and there are no late fees.

Axiell Selflib
International News

  • Canada – New Central Library now ‘free and open to everyone’ – CBC. “”If you think libraries are buildings with books, man, you are really, really off base,” Calgary Public Library CEO Bill Ptacek told CBC News.” …. “The new library includes 240,000 square feet of space with meeting areas, outdoor plazas, recording studios and more than 450,000 collection items. see also Prepare to be blown away by the New Central Library – Calgary Herald. “This library is a community centre on steroids.”
  • European Union – Public Libraries In Europe: Top And Bottom – Princh. ” we present Library Ranking Europe (LRE), a ranking system created by Maija Berndtson and Mats Öström that focuses on the ability of different European libraries to offer services to its customers.” … “LRE really makes it possible to compare libraries in big cities and small villages. You can find top public libraries in Europe in Linz, Helsingör, Esbo, and Herning. And you can find rather poor public libraries in cities like Bratislava, Rimini, Haapsalu, and Malaga. Now we have an embryo to a European ranking system for public libraries.”

Local news by authority

“Before the Summer, it was announced that the management of the library at a senior level was being taken over by housing and benefits services. Library spaces would become Health and Well Being Hubs. And that there would be ‘restructuring’ and ‘efficiencies’ in other words, job cuts. We were also assured that the library service would be maintained. However, since then events have moved on very quickly and now it looks like the council is set on dismantling the library service altogether.

Dedicated staff who have spent years learning to create and maintain libraries and their resources are being systematically pushed out. Sixteen branch librarians were required to re-apply for their jobs, now labelled hub manager. Only three out of the sixteen won back management of the library (soon to be hub), the rest being given to managers with a background in housing. More widely staff are being encouraged strongly – or forced – to leave, retire early or take voluntary severance. And these people are not being replaced. Expertise in local history, languages, children’s literature and so on as well as years of experience leading and creating Cardiff’s libraries are being shipped out with these people. While library space has not been reallocated yet, judging by the approach to staffing this may in the very near future. Ditto library resources.

The feeling is that the Cardiff library service may be reduced to a shelf of books in the waiting area for housing and benefits services with a few community centre type activities tacked on. Rather than what it is at the moment – a public space (a communal space, non-prescriptive, non-judgemental) with free access to books and computers (so to independent learning, stories, literature, languages, understanding) run by a dedicated staff who have experience and expertise and can give guidance if needed.” Email received – Cardiff

  • Cumbria – Cumbria County Council is spending £1m on opening up the first floor of Barrow Library – NW Evening Mail. “Cumbria County Council is investing the cash into the Ramsden Square facility and hopes to unveil the new first floor community hub by December 2019. The upgrade will no doubt be welcomed by community groups who will be able to use the newly-created space not least because it comes at a time when local authorities are cutting costs. The library’s ground floor was refurbished in 2014 but bosses highlighted the “significant underused space upstairs”.
  • East Dunbartonshire – Library closures in East Dunbartonshire: MSP joins growing protests against EDLC decision – Kirkintilloch Herald. “Local MSP Rona Mackay and Campsie councillor Paul Ferretti have joined the growing protests against the decision by East Dunbartonshire Leisure Trust to close three libraries in Lenzie, Milton of Campsie (Craighead) and Westerton” see also Jobs at risk as libraries in East Dunbartonshire face axe in cost-cutting plans – Kirkintilloch Herald. “The board of the cultural arm of East Dunbartonshire Council voted by 5-2 last night to shut Lenzie, Milton of Campsie and Westerton libraries as part of cost-cutting plans.”
  • Liverpool – New sculpture honours Ken Dodd – Chortle. “A new sculpture honouring Sir Ken Dodd has been installed in one of the late comedian’s favourite haunts. His widow, Lady Dodd, will officially unveil the life-size bronze bust of her late husband in Liverpool Central Library’s Picton Reading Room tonight. For most of his life Doddy – who died aged 90 in March this year – was a regular visitor to the library, spending hours reading and also researching the history of comedy.”
  • Liverpool – Relive the heyday of Punk in exhibition at Liverpool’s beautiful Central Library – Liverpool Echo. “The British Library, Liverpool John Moores University , and Liverpool Libraries have come together to mark the occasion with an exhibition which reveals the extraordinary impact punk had on music, fashion and design across the UK between 1976 and 1978.”
  • North Yorkshire – The art of storytelling is celebrated in county’s libraries – North Yorkshire County Council. “Libraries across North Yorkshire will celebrate children’s book illustration, comic and digital art in events and workshops during November as part of a regional festival called Reading Pictures: Seeing Stories. “
  • North Yorkshire – Library becomes hub for Great Ayton – Darlington and Stockton Times. “Incorporation of the tourist information centre had benefited both organisations, Mr Taylor said. The TIC’s previous location in the village car park was not easy to find. The Discovery Centre’s central location in the High Street would greatly assist visitors. ” … “The Discovery Centre has been run by volunteers as a community library for more than six years and was one the first community libraries in North Yorkshire. “
  • North Yorkshire – Library pop-up shop on cards – Filey Mercury. “Cards for Good Causes, the UK’s largest charity Christmas card organisation, is set to open its popular pop-up shop in Filey Library”
  • Reading – Southcote Community Centre has been extended to provide modern services – Reading Chronicle. “Southcote Community Centre has been extended to provide modern services, including a library, children’s centre and upgraded facilities. Construction on the extension of the 1960s building got underway in May and the centre was unveiled by the Mayor of Reading, councillor Debs Edwards, on Tuesday. This is one of a number of new community hubs being developed by Reading Borough Council, with a view to providing a shared location for a range of services.”
  • St Helens – Frank Cottell-Boyce backs St Helens’ library scheme – St Helens Reporter. “In partnership with arts organisation Heart of Glass, St Helens Libraries welcomed home esteemed writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce for two events as part of the nationally-renowned Cultural Hubs arts-in-libraries programme”
  • Sheffield – JK Rowling among backers of Burngreave woman’s petition to save libraries – Hillsborough Post. “Frances Belbin, the Burngreave woman who made the petition, is hoping that it gets the 100,000 signatures it needs for there to be a parliamentary debate on the issue.” … “I was pleased that this week, in partnership with CILIP [The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals], The Big Issue and armed with a 20,000 strong petition initiated by my constituent Frances Belbin we were able to put forward a comprehensive case for a fairer funding deal for libraries to the Minister, Michael Ellis.”
  • Southend – Library axed – and replaced with council vans in Southend – Echo News. “The council’s mobile library, which visited residential complexes and care homes across the borough, is said to be reaching the end of its useful life and won’t be replaced. A total of 30 sites will no longer be visited by the book delivery service, with the new service limited to books delivered in vans”
  • Suffolk – Free sanitary products on offer at Suffolk libraries – East Anglian Daily Times. “The Pride and Periods scheme has been launched by Suffolk Libraries after a survey revealed 1 in 10 girls in the UK can’t afford to buy sanitary products.” … “Suffolk Libraries is now piloting providing free sanitary items, no questions asked, in eight different libraries. The items have been donated by supporting organisations East of England Co-op, Pink Parcel and Bloody Good Period and can be requested by completing a simple, discreet form in the library and handing it to a member of staff. “
  • Suffolk – Eye is to get its new library in the new year – EADT. “The former library in Eye, on Bucklesham Lane, was in place for around 40 years, but was never designed to be a permanent home for the service. The town’s new library has been built in Cross Street, with the plans stating that it would “enhance what is currently an unattractive section” of the road. The rear wing of 6 Cross Street, formerly a highways office and workshop before laying dormant for several years, was demolished and the site has been redeveloped as a “purpose-built, modern” library.”. 60,000 fewer visits than four years ago.
  • Suffolk – ‘Libraries are not just about books’ – leader’s goal to transform view of service – EADT. ““Whether it be helping people find a job or helping with social skills, we can help make your life that little bit better,” he said. As well as being able to borrow books, places like Ipswich County Library offer a Top Time activities group for older people, while libraries at Lowestoft and Bury St Edmunds hold computer courses for people at different skill levels. “We’ve spent thousands of hours to help children’s literacy and help people take that first step to getting a job,” Mr Leeke added”
  • Surrey – Endangered Libraries by Lara Alabdi, Wimbledon High School – Echo News. a look at how important public libraries are, and the national petition.
  • Wakefield – Three-foot community library branded an ‘obstruction’by council and slated for removal I. Little Free Library annoys council: one thousand people sign petition to keep it.
  • Worcestershire – Battle begins to save Droitwich Library as county makes cuts – Droitwich Standard. Residents “voicing their concerns over a threat to Droitwich Library after Worcestershire County Council launched a 90-day consultation into the future of the service. The library faces the possibility of closure after county cabinet members made it clear they want to make savings of £1million in the service by 2020-21.” see also Future of Woodrow and Alvechurch libraries uncertain after consultation into the future use of libraries launched – Redditch Advertiser.