Reading and libraries round up


London’s 10 best library cards

Maligned, abused, crushed almost to death by public austerity, public libraries are being forced to take creative measures to kindle the interest of an attention-deficient public.




Time for the Tories to reinvent the ‘big society’

Libraries are included;  article has attracted comment



Bristol Post : 26th May

Protesters march to keep Wick Road Library open



This Is Wiltshire : 25th May

Wiltshire Council consults on cuts to mobile library service



News Shopper : 19th May

Kent County Council plans to sign libraries over to volunteers in limbo over legal issues

Renewed call on Ed Vaizey to debate libraries

Now that Ed Vaizey is back at the Department of Culture Media and Sport as Culture Minister after the election, I have renewed my call for a public debate on the future of libraries:

With Ed Vaizey back in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and protests continuing at the Library of Birmingham, the writer and campaigner Alan Gibbons has re-issued his challenge to the culture secretary for a public debate on “library closures and the future of the service”.

Vaizey said earlier this month he would “happily debate” Gibbons in public, arguing that “fewer than 100 libraries closed in England since 2010” and the “vast majority” of libraries in England “have been closed by Labour councils”.

Gibbons begins his letter by congratulating the minister on his reappointment at the DCMS, before noting the minister “agreed in response to … comments in the Guardian recently to publicly debate the issues around the number of library closures and the future of the service”.

“I do hope you still feel inclined to hold such a public debate,” Gibbons writes.

“The Library Campaign has indicated that it would be happy to take over the arrangements for such a discussion,” Gibbons continues. “If your office could contact me, I can set the wheels rolling to arrange a venue and date.”

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy reported last year that the number of libraries in the UK had fallen to 4,145 – a loss of 337, or 8%, since the Conservative-led coalition took over in 2010. With the number of professional librarians down 22% over the same period and opening hours reduced across the country, library visits and book-borrowing have also declined, with reductions of 12% and 20% respectively.

The Guardian Books Podcast Libraries: the inside story – books podcast
From the depths of the British Library to the top of Manchester’s great domed Central Library, we explore the inner workings of our most precious treasure houses of knowledge

The pressure on libraries continues, with cuts to mobile libraries in Hertfordshire and the closure of Roath library in Cardiff announced since the general election on 7 May, alongside a combination of cuts and new facilities in Harrow.

Speaking to the Guardian via email, Gibbons said he “would like to see a much more supportive attitude to libraries and a readiness to intervene to secure the continuing health of the service” over the next five years.

“I believe the debate should be public and accessible to all those interested in the future of libraries,” he said. “It should review the DCMS’s record and prospects for the future.”

Key points he would like to raise in the debate include strategic vision, closures, volunteers, stocks and opening hours.

With protests ongoing in the capital and Britain’s “second city”, London or Birmingham seem obvious venues, Gibbons continued, and with “working librarians and library users” key to the discussion, “maybe a weekend”.

Vaizey did not respond to a request to confirm he would attend, but the author was confident the minister would turn up.

“Ed has confirmed he wishes to have this discussion,” Gibbons said. “I don’t expect a change of mind. It would look evasive.”


One of the runners-up in the Angus Book Award

My novel Raining Fire was one of the three runners up in the Angus Book Award. I have been runner up once before and won the award back in 2004. This is the shortlist:

Infinite Sky by C J Flood
Raining Fire by Alan Gibbons
Through Dead Eyes by Chris Priestley
Cross My Heart by Carmen Reid

Carmen won the award. Well done to her.
The shortlisted authors are all lovely people and the youngsters in the audience were great fun. Angus is one of the finest book awards in the UK, now in its twentieth year.
Thanks to Moyra Hood and all her team.

Round up


Libraries could outlast the internet, head of British Library says



Staffordshire Newsletter : 25th May

Staffordshire library staff go digital help people get online



Local Gov Lawyer : 22nd May

Crowdfunding website looks to fund public interest litigation


ITV : 23rd May

Newcastle | Volunteers save Fawdon Library



Barry & District News : 23rd May

“Delighted” council call Vale library progress “a success” so far



Northern Echo : 22nd May

North Yorkshire | Costs could outweigh savings on library plan, claim campaigners



Stoke Sentinel : 21st May

£350k cuts planned to mobile libraries in Staffordshire

If the plan goes ahead the two large travelling libraries will be reduced to one and the six mobile vehicles could be reduced to two.  143 communities could be affected.



Ed Vaizey challenged to keep promise of public libraries debate



Shropshire Star : 21st May

Shropshire libraries funding to be slashed by £1.3m



Cambrian News : 21st May

Gwynedd | Libraries under ‘serious threat’




Staffordshire Newsletter : 21st May

Penkridge Library campaigners urge villagers to have their say on opening hours



Get West London : 21st May

Library shake-up after Harrow Council reorganisation



Bromley produces ultra-detailed 190 page on how volunteers can take over its libraries



Yahoo News UK : 18th May

First lady: Libraries, museums are ‘necessities,’ not extras–politics.html#NXLe8ZQ



BBC News : 19th May

Flintshire | Deeside Leisure Centre library shake-up agreed

3 libraries will shut : 19th May

Flintshire | Deeside leisure centre ‘Hub’ library gets the green light, Hawarden, Queensferry and Mancot to close



News Shopper : 19th May

Community groups are being invited to submit proposals to manage some of Bromley‘s libraries …



Harrow Times : 19th May

‘I got the letter and my heart sank’ – Campaigners heartbroken after Harrow Council reject business plan for community-run Bob Lawrence Library in Edgware


Harrow Times : 19th May

New library to be built in Harrow town centre despite council closing four others



Grimsby Telegraph : 19th May

N.E. Lincs | Still no opening date as negotiations continue on future of Scartho Library



MK Web : 19th May

Stony Stratford Library set to celebrate 40th birthday just four years after threatened closure

“We honestly thought it wouldn’t remain, we didn’t know if what we were doing was making any difference.”



Pulse Today : 12th May

Shropshire Council considering co-locating GP surgeries with libraries in cost-cutting drive

Request for public debate on libraries

I sent the following letter to Ed Vaizey, Culture Minister, this morning.

Dear Ed,
I should first say congratulations on your party’s election victory and on returning to your seat at the DCMS.
You agreed in response to my comments in the Guardian recently to publicly debate the issues around the number of library closures and the future of the service. I do hope you still feel inclined to hold such a public debate.
The Library Campaign has indicated that it would be happy to take over the arrangements for such a discussion. If your office could contact me, I can set the wheels rolling to arrange a venue and date.
Best wishes,
Alan Gibbons
Campaign for the Book
Member of the Speak up for Libraries coalition

Round up



Birmingham library users stage sit-ins



Barry & District News : 16th May

Rhoose Library campaigners ready to throw book at Council

Legal Aid for JR secured



Brixton Buzz : 16th May

Lambeth | Cultural Consultation ’emotive’ as plans are put in place to publish findings

Birmingham Mail : 16th May

Police called as Library of Birmingham protesters stage sit in



Keighley News : 16th May

Social and health care workers could become mobile librarians, claims Keighley-district councillor


Industry seconds Franklin’s fears for further cuts to libraries



Wales Online : 15th May

Campaigners set to take their fight to save Rhoose Library to court



Hemel Today : 15th May

Hertfordshire | Mobile library faces the axe but council says service will still be available to all



Maidstone & Medway News: 15th May

Kent | What will happen to our libraries?

Alan Wylie | Don’t Privatise Libraries

Stepping back!




Vaizey remains as culture minister




Issue No. 1392

available today in newsagents

Library News (p.28) | Cambridge Central Library



Leon’s Library Blog : 13th May

We’ve got five years..!



Wales Online : 13th May

‘Sell off’ papers on Roath library withdrawn to allow more consultation



Times Series : 12th May

Campaigners take to the streets for final march opposing library cuts in Barnet

Barnet Borough Council is set to make £2.85m of cuts to its library service, which could see libraries closed, reduced to 540sq ft in size or run by volunteers.



Canterbury Times : 13th May

Kent split over sweeping changes to county libraries