A relatively quiet few days, thankfully, although with rumblings from the current library battlegrounds of Ealing, Essex and Worcestershire. The key piece of news for me is one I missed when it happened: Kirkless joined the increasing trend towards going fine-free at the end of December. There are now eight services in the UK I know of that have taken this approach.


National news

  • Fight back against £300m cuts: We’re running our library ourselves – Express. A look at volunteer libraries: Mainly Little Chalfont but also Pevensey Bay and Kensal Rise.
  • The vandals destroying libraries should have the book thrown at them – Guardian. “the country’s remaining services continue, according to recent reports, under attack: budgets slashed, hours reduced, low on trained, if deplorably paid, staff, propped up by 51,000 volunteers and, perhaps most dismal, regarded as disposable by national government. … The death of reading – prematurely announced or not – is habitually attributed to social media. It’s unfair, really. Because nobody has worked as doggedly to this end, as unsentimentally, and with a greater commitment to the suppression of literacy, than our own Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.”

Axiell Selflib
International news

  • Canada – Let Toronto Public Library hold smart city data, says Board of Trade – IT World Canada. “… the library, which has expertise in open data management and democratic governance, would form a data hub to set rules on a range of issues from where sensors could be installed, storage, privacy and intellectual property. It would also assess applications from public, non-profit, and private organizations that want to use the data collected from Toronto smart city projects to help ensure that the benefits to the public are maximized.”
  • USA – Not customers: doctors have patients, libraries have patrons, lawyers have clients and teachers have students Boing Boing. “We can have a professionalism that is about duty and standards without having it be about deference to authority and exclusion of people who lack privilege. What we can’t survive is a world where the critical, complex life-or-death matters we contend with every day are regulated by “the customer is always right.” “
  • USA – The writing burns bright in this remarkable book about the Los Angeles Central Library fire – National. ““Sometimes… you just can’t believe such a book exists,” one of the librarians who works at Central Library today told Orlean of the volumes he finds himself issuing to patrons. The Library Book examines the wealth of resources available in our libraries, alongside the increasing number of services these institutions offer in terms of community outreach. In the course of her research, for example, Orlean was told over and over again that the “defining question” facing libraries today is “how – and how much – to provide for the homeless”.”

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Scandal as library closed for three months because of a broken boiler – Birmingham Mail. “A much loved community library in Druids Heath has been closed for more than THREE months because the boiler broke down. Despite the break down the council has been unable to reopen the library , which offers a Neighbourhood Advice Service every Thursday, one of the only neighbourhood advice services left in South Birmingham.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Local libraries come together for ‘jam-packed’ season of performances and workshops next month – Cambs Times. “The Library Presents in an initiative funded by Arts Council England in collaboration with Babylon ARTS and aims to get more people in the library. The news of a spring season comes after a successful winter season of Library Presents which saw more than 1,100 people attend over 56 events. The new season starts on Saturday, February 2 and will run activities in the county’s libraries all the way until Saturday, May 25. Included in the 22 libraries taking part in the project are March, Wisbech, Ely, Soham, Littleport, Chatteris, Ramsey, Whittlesey and Yaxley.”
  • Darlington – Councillor who led charge on Darlington library closure says u-turn is ‘great news’ – Northern Echo. “As the council asked for the public’s views on how to spend £2m revamping and repairing the library, Councillor Nick Wallis, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for leisure and local environment, said: “The main library staying at Crown Street is great news for the town centre and the service.” Cllr Wallis led the charge on plans to move the library from its current home, which was bequeathed to the town by Edward Pease in 1884. The move was touted as a cost-saving measure as the council battled with funding cuts.”
  • Derbyshire – Library cuts are a disgrace – Belper News / Letters. “I am not only perplexed that Derbyshire County Council are going to staff libraries, in many areas with volunteers, and not with professional librarians. This will mean that the library service will be diminished. “
  • Devon – Two Devon libraries launch digital workshop where you can have you head 3D printed – Devon Live. “Exeter and Barnstaple libraries are offering a truly unique experience at the FabLab, a new workshop where anyone can visit and you make just about anything. You can print t-shirts, make stencils, earrings – and even have your own head 3D printed.  And what is even better is that they have friendly technicians on hand to help guide you through your experience”
  • Ealing – Ealing Council Announces Proposal to Cut Library Services! Help! Let’s Invigorate the Campaign – Change.org. “It is terrible news for everyone in Ealing who cares about Libraries. The facts are startling! More than half the staff are likely to lose their jobs, which will have a major negative impact on families, children and young people, in particular, those from vulnerable groups, including the elderly, children in need and at risk, people with disabilities and mental health struggles, among others.”
    • Volunteers will be sought to run current council operated facilities – Ealing Today. “Over half the public libraries in Ealing Borough could be staffed only by volunteers if proposals by the Council are approved. Seven of the thirteen libraries would no longer have any paid staff and be dependent on unpaid members of the community to keep them running …”
  • Essex – ‘My brew-lliant idea to save library from axe’ – Gazette News. “Colchester’s MP is calling for Essex County Council to save his library – by setting up a coffee shop alongside it. ” [Good grief – Ed.]
    • 13,000 have their say on future of Essex libraries – Heart. “Unison Eastern regional manager Tim Roberts said in November that the County Council’s plans are “threatening to rip the heart out of our communities”, but the authority argues the library service is no longer viable in its current form.”
    • ‘Cutting library services like robbing children of books’ – Gazette News. Harwich: “Jo Henderson told a town council meeting: “It’s just robbing children from families who cannot afford to buy books.“A lot of children need to go to the library for their school books. “I have got older children who go to the library all the time and it’s for their social life too.”
    • Sue Lissimore quits cabinet post to protect Prettygate library – Gazette News. “The county council is looking to close 24 of the county’s 74 libraries, including Prettygate Library in Mrs Lissimore’s ward, saying they are outdated.Initially, Mrs Lissimore said closing the library would not necessarily be a bad thing. Instead, she said, the space could be better used as a community building. However, following a “raid” on Prettygate Library last Saturday, when protesters took out their full allowance of books, Mrs Lissimore has had a change of heart.She has written to the leader of the county council, David Finch, offering her resignation as a cabinet member.” [Wow – Ed.]
  • Glasgow – Mystery south side donor proves Glasgow still loves libraries with kind-hearted gift – Evening Times. Bouquet left.
  • Hertfordshire – St Albans Central Library partially reopens after refurbishment – Herts Advertiser. “Herts county council is developing the library so there is more room for reading, a book-able meeting room, better WiFi and a new creative space for users. The back of the library was closed during the refurbishment, and reopened on Thursday, January 10. A county council spokeswoman said: “The current work which has just been completed is the first phase of a major refurbishment/modernisation of St Albans Central Library.”
  • Isle of Wight – Libraries are among the Isle of Wight venues hosting film nights this week – Isle of Wight County Press.
  • Kirklees Not quite finished that book? – Kirklees Together. “From the 29 December, those bringing books back late will no longer have to pay a fine.” .. ““We have taken the decision to no longer collect fines for overdue books. The Council feels that fines affect the most vulnerable in our communities and prevent people accessing library services.”
  • North Yorkshire – Reminder of summer is on the cards for South Craven library users – Keighley News. “The limited-edition cards are available to anyone joining South Craven Community Library, in Main Street, Cross Hills, and other libraries across North Yorkshire. “
  • Powys – Libraries and street lighting could be hit by funding cuts – Advertizer. “The poorest funding settlement in Wales for nine out of the past 10 years means that even a hefty council tax increase will not prevent further spending cuts and the possible loss of local services.Councillor Aled Davies, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “The reality facing the council is that not even a significant increase in the rate of council tax will prevent a number of valued services including libraries, roads and street lighting face reductions.” …. “We will have to ask ourselves can we afford the branch libraries we operate, the number of offices and buildings we fund. Will we have to reduce the length of roads we repair, the number of street lights we power and the number of open spaces we maintain. “
  • Somerset – West Somerset library saved by charity – County Gazette. “Wiveliscombe Town Council has announced the charity, Wiveliscombe Area Partnership, will be the lead partner in a union with the town’s library under a Community Library Partnership (CLP). The council agreed the charity would be the best choice because it had the infrastructure for the necessary requirements.”
  • St Helens – St Helens Libraries receives £110,000 of Arts Council England funding – St Helens Star. “Plans for the latest funds, which cover 2019/20, include developing regular audiences and attracting new people to enjoy the arts through a broad programme of activities that appeal to residents with an aim to broaden the range of arts events from one predominantly theatre or performance-based. “
  • West Dunbartonshire – 2500 books missing from West Dunbartonshire libraries in two years -Daily Record. “Books are recorded as lost if they vanish from libraries or if they are not returned within 42 days. Dumbarton Library is currently missing 702 titles, Alexandria Library is short of 571 and a further 543 have disappeared from Balloch Library. However, despite the total soaring to over 2500, West Dunbartonshire Council stated that the figures for missing stock in council libraries is “in line” with other libraries across the country.”
  • Worcestershire – Upton residents voice concerns over open library proposal – Malvern Gazette. “People from the town said they were worried about security and did not believe the cost savings of an ‘open library’ justified the changes.They were speaking at a meeting held as part of the public consultation into the future of Worcestershire’s libraries.”
    • Editor’s view: Cuts to libraries would leave a hole in communities – Malvern Gazette. “Yes, the county council and pretty much all local authorities have to save money due to shrinking budgets, and you can argue that libraries are not ‘essential services’ such as social care and thus, if money has to be saved somewhere, they are the sensible choice.However, in decimating our libraries, the council would be tearing a huge hole in the fabric of our communities – and there would be many victims.”
    • Have your say on the future of libraries – Worcester News. “This change across libraries needs to continue in response to new financial challenges, developments in technology and changing customer needs and expectations. Communities are now being given the opportunity to play a role in how their local libraries are run. “
    • Petition to save Droitwich Library amasses hundreds of signatures – Droitwich Standard. “So far more than 780 people have signed the online document started by Spa resident Henri Scott. Mr Scott said on the page: “A library is a community hub which offers so much.”