It’s that time of year when councils need to announce their budget plans for next year if they are to have enough time to consult. Hence, Newcastle’s one third cut last post and this post’s news of a one-third cut, with up to 43 libraries closing or turning volunteer, in Essex and Kent’s £1 million cut. This will all deeply affect library provision in each of the services, with Essex being the stand-out due to the sheer number of libraries involved. It’s not often over 40 are threatened. The last time I clearly recall was Lancashire and, as news in this very post shows, that surprisingly ended with may reopening. Essex are at pains to show they have consulted already on the shape of their service and will consult on the proposals. It’s worth remembering the ultimate reasons for these cuts lie not with Essex or Kent or Newcastle but with the central government’s decision to continue austerity in practice, if not in name. There’s a petition about that if you’ve not already signed – it seems to have stalled again at just under 30,000 so now would be a good time.

I wrote a fairly critical editorial about Cardiff a short while ago and have given the council the right of reply below. Interestingly, and I have had a look, what I said and what Cardiff say, are not mutually exclusive. It’s all down to one’s point of view. As is so much else, especially I suspect in Essex today.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • 30 projects, 46 library services: what did we learn – Libraries Taskforce. “projects funded by the Libraries: Opportunities for Everyone (LOFE) innovation fund ran during 2017 to 2018 and were evaluated by Traverse” … “we hope to publish updates from the 3 projects who presented at the event, and any other LOFE projects as they continue their activity” … “CIPFA, the body charged with providing annual data and statistics on library usage, is due to present its report on library performance for 2017-18 next month.” [Eight months after the end of the 2017/18 year – Ed.]
  • Campaigners hit back after government rejects petition to ringfence library funding – BookSeller. “Library campaigners have been left cold by the response, though, variously describing it “cut-and-paste”, “shameless” and “totally predictable”.”
  • How you can work more closely with Arts Council England? – Libraries Taskforce. “The main message to all of you is that libraries are really important to us at the Arts Council – and will form a central part of our new 10 year strategy. We have heard very clearly from the public how highly libraries are valued, and we are proud of our role as the national development agency for libraries and the research and development programmes that we can support.”
  • ‘Hugely disappointing’ government response to libraries petition – Guardian. “Belbin’s MP Gill Furniss urged library lovers to sign the petition in order to get it debated in parliament. “The government’s response to the libraries funding petition is hugely disappointing, they are not listening to what libraries need,” she wrote on Twitter.” … ““We need investment to accelerate the modernisation of library services, not toolkits and masterclasses,” said Poole, referring to the government’s mention of its libraries taskforce in its response. The taskforce, intended to investigate the state of UK libraries until 2021, was described in the government’s response as “encouraging good practice and innovation”, while providing toolkits and free masterclasses [training sessions – Ed.] for library services.”
  • On the Closure of English Public Libraries – Public Library Quarterly. Tim Coates. “The loss of public interest originated in the years from 1990 to 2010 when major alterations were made to the ethos of the service. The current budget cuts and moves to ‘hollow out’ and close library services have come because of the consequent fall in public affection.”
  • Quantifying kindness, public engagement and place – Carnegie UK Trust. Public libraries rank highly in kindness. see also Public Libraries and the Place of Kindness – CILIP. “The data reveals that a staggeringly high proportion of people agree that they are treated with kindness at the public library (96% of those in Northern Ireland, 94% Ireland, 93% in Scotland, 92% in Wales and 90% in England). These are remarkable results which the public library sector should take great pride in. With loneliness and isolation occupying important places on the policy agenda, it is clear that public libraries offer people a safe and welcoming space – and have a hugely significant role to play.”

Axiell Selflib
International news

  • Australia – Tool library a hit with women as resource sharing reduces environmental waste – ABC News. “Australia’s first public tool library allows members to borrow power tools, lawnmowers and whipper snippers. Sabrina Chakori came up with the idea and is now one of 40 passionate volunteers running the Brisbane Tool Library out of the State Library of Queensland.”
  • Global – Bibliotourism: 7 reasons why tourists should visit the library – Princh. ” Public libraries are targeting tourists as there are many resources that directly benefit people that are travelling. Besides the glorious collection of books they hold, public libraries offer many other useful services for tourists. Whatever the motivation for travelling is, the library may just be the perfect place for travelers to go when exploring a new city.”
  • Global – Step Inside the World’s 8 Most Futuristic Libraries – Architectural Digest. “From Snøhetta’s new $245-million Central Library in Calgary, Canada, to Berlin’s ‘eco-intelligent’ Philological Library by Norman Foster”
  • New Zealand – Doors open to Christchurch’s new central library, Tūranga – Stuff. “Thousands have poured through the doors of Christchurch’s newly opened central library, Tūranga, and they seemed impressed by the $92 million building. A library spokeswoman said more than 2500 people visited Tūranga within the first 90 minutes of its opening. ” … “The library holds more than 180,000 printed items – 160,000 of which are books – and a range of technology features including a controversial $1.245 million touchscreen wall.” … “Staff are expecting nearly every resident to visit the new library over the next few weeks, visitors were told at its opening ceremony.”
  • Norway – The Future Sound of Libraries, Revisited: Interview with Martin Kristoffer Bråthen – Mechanical Dolphin. “libraries in Norway generally are quick to respond with fresh ideas to new demands – especially on a local level. What I would like to see more of is collaborations and common quests for collective impacts. ” … “The role of a meeting place and a platform for debate and conversation was formalized as an ambition for all public libraries in Norway.” … “biggest threat might be within in the libraries themselves. Are they willing to leave something behind to provide enough room to explore what the new core service should be in this fast paced and shifting world?”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Bath Podium Library announcement – Bath and North East Somerset Council. “Proposals for the remodelling of Bath Central Library at the Podium have been put on hold by Bath & North East Somerset Council. The scheme proposes a number of council and partner services move into a new-look library alongside the closure of the existing one stop shop in Manvers Street.” … “The programme also includes more community-run libraries, a mobile service, more integrated library and information services as in Keynsham and Midsomer Norton, and new ways of working. The programme is saving £350,000 annually.”

With reference to the editorial “Cardifficulty” published in Public Library News on the 4th November, we would like to take this opportunity to correct several inaccuracies in this report and to provide an overview of the council’s plans to safeguard and enhance the city’s library service. Following the success of our community hubs programme which has seen a range of Council services such as library services, housing, advice and into work services co-located in ‘one-stop-shop’ facilities, plans are currently underway to extend the programme to develop Wellbeing Hubs, designed around local needs, in the north and west of the city.

Branch library buildings will be used to develop the Hubs and there will be the opportunity to invest and improve in these facilities to create optimum environments to deliver services. The library service will remain a key service within the buildings and this will be enhanced with a broad range of partner and council services for the benefit of all residents. The changes will deliver financial savings, which are essential given the very difficult economic climate and the financial challenges facing the council.

Crucially however, these changes will help protect services at a time when many other councils are having to close library buildings or operate these services on a volunteer basis only.  While there will be fewer staff overall within the new service, front line services will be maintained and there are no building closures or reduction in opening hours as part of this change.

It is important to note that our hub programme has had a positive impact on our library service which has seen both visits and membership numbers increase since services were co-located.  In 2017/18, there was an 122,000 increase in visits to hubs and our library membership increased by 7,000. The new approach is being underpinned by a new Library Strategy and Development team, consisting of fully qualified librarians who are driving a library-specific strategy across the city including  effective delivery of literacy, learning, culture, digital, information and health wellbeing outcomes. [In further correspondence the council has said “9 People will possess full Library qualifications, a reduction of 4. The four have all been given opportunities to remain with the service but have declined at this point. ” – Ed.]

The changes have provided opportunities for staff to develop further in their roles and enhanced training is available including the chance to obtain library NVQ qualifications. As with any restructure there have been some staff changes however this does not mean that library skills are not valued within the service.” Cardiff Council

  • Cheshire East – Delays to Crewe history centre plans after lottery fund bid fails – Cheshire Live. “Plans to turn Crewe’s former library into a history centre received a setback after the first bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) failed. Proposals for a new state-of-the-art history centre to host the region’s archives at the former Crewe Library site and at a new site in Chester, were approved by Cheshire East’s and Cheshire West and Chester’s cabinets at their respective meetings a year ago”
  • Cumbria – Not a single book taken out of Barrow Island pop-up library for 12 months – NW Evening Mail. “Eighteen books were processed through a self-service machine at Barrow Island Primary School for use by the community during 2017-18, but the “loans” were IT staff checking the machine worked, a report found. Cumbria County Council installed the library for the community to use but the service was not open all the time, councillors were told.”
  • Essex – Essex Future Library Services Strategy – Essex Council. 12 week consultation November 2018 to 20 February 2019. Public engagement exercise earlier in year, needs assessment carried out. “Between 2012/13 and 2017/18, loans from Essex library services fell 43% from over 7.1m a year to fewer than 4.1m; use of public network computers fell 22%.”. 16% of Essex are active users. £11.4m budget 2017/18. Uses comparator average to argue for reduction in spending. “fewer but better libraries”. Several tiers suggested: (1) min. 40 hours opening, paid staff (2) min. 16 hours opening, paid staff, (3) “where the council considers that it is not necessary to provide library services in order to meet its statutory duty”: will close after consultation if “suitable partners cannot be found” but some council support (4) will close unless volunteers come forward to pay all costs. Open technology to be used. Up to £3.7m cut.
  • Essex – Essex libraries: These are all the libraries that are earmarked to close down – Essex Live. “A total of 25 were categorised as having service withdrawn “on the basis that because of relatively low demand, the availability of other services and considering the community served, a library service is not required in these locations” see also Essex’s libraries face radical shake-up under council plans – Gazette Standard.
  • Kent – Library opening hours could be reduced under shake-up – Kent Online. “Opening hours at many Kent libraries could be cut as part of a cost-cutting measure aimed at saving £1 million. The plans could involve a significant number of libraries opening for less time under a three-year strategy due to go out to public consultation. However, council chiefs say the shake-up does not involve the closure of any libraries and some could open for longer.”
  • Lambeth – West Norwood Library & Picturehouse are go – Picturehouse. “Picturehouse are beyond proud to present in conjunction with Lambeth Council the West Norwood Library and Picturehouse. Opening today, November 9th 2018. See the extraordinary building that has been beautifully restored and rebuilt to house these state of the art cultural cousins.”
  • Lancashire – Burnley’s Pike Hill Library to reopen – Citizen. “The Langwyth Road premises were to be taken over by the Veterans Association UK (VAUK) to use the building as its headquarters and run a library service three days a week. Following its decision not to proceed, Lancashire County Council’s Cabinet. on Thursday decided to reopen and run Pike Hill and the library in Cleveleys near Blackpool after a similar problem.”
  • Lancashire – Blackpool MP welcomes reopening of Cleveleys Library – Blackpool Gazette. “Paul Maynard said: “Ever since the decision was taken to close our local libraries I have been fighting to ensure the doors will re-open. I am delighted the Conservatives at Lancashire County Council have reversed the damage done by Labour and will bring Cleveleys library back into use, just like they did with Thornton earlier this year.”
  • Northern Library – Library closed due to oil spill – Larne Times. “Detailing the issue, a spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “Due to an oil spill at the back of the library, Carnlough Town Hall and Heritage Hub building is closed until next week.”
  • Redbridge – Plans unveiled to ‘save libraries’: Bulldozers will not be coming to Gants Hill library to demolish it says Redbridge Council – Ilford Recorder. “Bulldozers will not be sent to five different locations to “desecrate” [sic – Ed.] libraries in the borough under plans for regional community hubs, Redbridge Council confirmed.” … “Leader of the council, Councillor Jas Athwal added that there would be a borough-wide consultation about the hubs with information through “every letterbox” and residents would be involved in designing it. “
  • Suffolk – ‘Smell is under-rated’: Libraries get whiff of the importance of aroma Sudbury Mercury. “Bruce Leeke, who took over as chief executive of Suffolk Libraries earlier this year, said his goal is to make all branches “really inspiring and uplifting places”. But with the organisation – which took over the running of libraries from Suffolk County Council six years ago – relying on fundraising and donations, it does not boast a huge budget for renovations.”

“Mr Leeke suspects, perhaps unsurprisingly, that most of its libraries smell of books.”

  • Warrington – Get involved in the “Great North West Read” – Warrington Worldwide. “LiveWire’s community librarians have been working with library partnership organisation Time to Read to bring The Great North West Read (GNWR) project to Warrington – one of 22 library authorities taking part in the event.  Copies of the chosen book, “The Craftsman” by Sharon Bolton, have been delivered and will soon by available to borrow from the town’s libraries”
  • Warrington – Lymm crime writer wins award for supporting Warrington’s libraries – Warrington Guardian. “The 63-year-old’s page-turners have now been recognised by the Crime Writers’ Association after he received the prestigious Dagger in the Library award. Martin, best known for his Lake District Mysteries, pipped numerous bestselling authors to the prize including Sophie Hannah, Nicci French and Peter May.”