The Curious Incident of the Culture Minister in the library

On National Libraries Day, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey chose to visit Hammersmith library, where he tweeted this photograph.


Now, I have some questions:
*Is the gentleman he met head of service, a working librarian or who?
*Was the library open to the public at the time?
*Why does the library look so uncannily empty?
*Was an author invited as part of the celebrations?
*Did Ed Vaizey speak to library users?
*Was this a more important use of the Minister’s time than accepting my offer of a public debate at which library users from all over the United Kingdom could question Mr Vaizey on his record?


All the young Tories,
stayed in all the hotels,
but mentioned none of the bills,
when recording less than all of their election expenses,
so that sounds,
like a whole load of fiddling,

Round up

Lancaster Guardian : 11th February

House of Lords challenge to Lancashire’s library cuts



bDaily Business News : 11th February


Stockton | UK’s first library-based building society branch looks to land in Yarm



Coventry Telegraph : 11th February

Coventry council pressing on with £1.2m of cuts to libraries, play centres and public toilets



Nuneaton News : 11th February

Leicestershire | Last ditch attempt to save Barwell ‘lifeline’



BBC News : 11th February

Anti-cuts demo outside Kent County Council budget talks



Southport Visitor : 11th February

Lancashire | Campaign to save Tarleton Library launched ahead of budget meeting



Shropshire Star : 11th February

Second Telford library to be reprieved

and an offer made for another



THE GUARDIAN : 9th February

Cameron ‘buying off’ Tory MPs threatening to rebel over council cuts


Public Libraries News : 9th February

Speaking up for libraries; deep cuts to West Berkshire and Darlington. New library in Warwickshire



Alan Gibbons Diary : 9th February

The Curious Incident of the Culture Minister in the library



Save Old Town Library Campaign : 10th February

Swindon | Questions to Cabinet and Answers – 10th February

Swindon is starting over.  Public consultation is delayed until June 2016.




Loughborough Echo : 10th February

Leicestershire | Have your say on community services of the future

Leicestershire’s consultation and draft strategy, here >




Socialist Party : 10th February

Anger against plans to close Bradford libraries

The planned decimation of library services in the Bradford area of West Yorkshire has led to angry scenes …..



Loughborough Echo : 10th February

Leicestershire | Have your say on community services of the future

Leicestershire’s consultation and draft strategy, here >



Barnet & Whetstone Press : 10th February

Enfield | Council deny selling off libraries



Northumberland Gazette : 10th February

‘Residents will pay more, but receive less’



THE GUARDIAN : 8th February

Libraries saved me, now they need rescuing — Karin Slaughter




Conservative Home : 8th February

Tory MPs threaten to rebel over local government funding settlement for rural areas

Now all the fat is gone, all the meat is gone and government wants to gnaw on the bone. I’m not having my local swimming pools and libraries closed down. They’re crossing the Rubicon.




Newbury Today: 8th February

West Berkshire libraries set to close due to £19m council cuts

Staff told all libraries except Newbury and Thatcham will be axed




Lancashire Archive Service consultation 2016



Brixton Blog : 8th February

Lambeth | GLL chief replies to union accusations





Daily Echo : 8th February

Author Sandra Horn joins fight to keep five libraries in Southampton open



Coventry Telegraph : 8th February

Consultation opens on plans to withdraw Sunday opening at Warwickshire libraries




Supporting my local library


I was at my local library in Walton, Liverpool today with other campaigners to keep the public informed about what was happening. This year eleven libraries were at risk of closure. Mayor Anderson rejected our campaign to keep the libraries in council control. Walton is currently closed, being refurbished. The future is uncertain. The building has been taken over by Mersey Care NHS Trust as a Mental Health hub. It looks highly unlikely that this facility will survive as a real library.

It is National Libraries Day

I proposed National Libraries Day in 2011. It has been running for several years. This is one of my poems about the value of libraries:

When you open a book
You open a mind.
If there are many open books
Then minds open
Like flowers,
Tremulous, contrary,
Rebellious, enquiring,
Reckless, wise.

If there are many open books
People kick at doors
That are closed,
They tug at cases that are shut,
Ask questions about laws
That are unquestionable.

For that reason some people
Would rather a book
Stays closed
Like a door.

In Brent they came
With boards
To turn a door
Into a wall,
A wall
Into a final chapter

But people
Arrived with open minds
Instead of hammers and nails,
With angler’s chairs
Instead of hammers and crowbars,
With questions
Like flowers,
Tremulous, contrary,
Rebellious, enquiring,
Reckless, wise.

While the libraries stay open,
The books stay open,
The minds stay open,
The final chapter
Is still to be written
And the first chapter
Is still to be thought.

Alan Gibbons
October 19, 2011.

Happy Clappy Eddie Vaizey

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has obviously been told by Lynton Crosby to go on the attack over his woeful record on libraries. This article in Conservative Home, land of the living froth, is staggering in its misleading silliness. My reply, posted on the site, is below.

The article is here:


This is typical of Mr Vaizey and his colleagues, choosing to make party political points in traditional Punch and Judy fashion rather than engaging in the genuine debate about the future of the public library service. What is the reality? 440 libraries have closed on Mr Vaizey’s watch. You can verify this by examining the independently audited CIPFA figures. 32% of library staff have gone. Volunteers have replaced paid librarians. This is not an attack on volunteers, but on the lack of strategic governance of the sector by the DCMS to ensure a professional service. Book stocks have been slashed. This has happened in councils of all political stripes, not just Labour. Most importantly, who holds the purse strings? That would be Mr Vaizey. Who has a responsibility to superintend the service? That would be Mr Vaizey. With whom does ‘the buck stop.’ Mr Vaizey again. I and other library campaigners have been making these points for years and yes, we have lobbied, debated and petitioned both Labour and Tory councils. We have had no friends in either party when trying to protect a valuable public service that is used disproportionately by the elderly, the young and the poor. I have met Mr Vaizey several times. He boasts that the service gets two hundred million visits. Very recently it was three hundred million. Much of that decline has been during his term of office. I challenged Mr Vaizey to a debate. We seemed to have an agreement, but Ed would only offer a debate on a weekday when library campaigners who are working or live outside London can’t attend. Come on, Ed, let’s have a public debate on a Saturday anywhere in the country, making the event accessible to those who matter, the library users. You wouldn’t want to be evasive, would you?