EVENING STANDARD : 15th February
Library closures are a betrayal, says Mark Rylance

THE BOOKSELLER : 11th February
Actor Mark Rylance condemns Lambeth library closures

DAILY MIRROR : 14th February

Library cuts spark series of strikes as staff protest about cash-strapped service
BBC News : 15th February
West Berkshire library closures ‘unimaginable’

Chronicle Live : 15th February
North East libraries to throw down the gauntlet over funding cuts as numbers continue to fall

Mobile News : 15th February
Government admits failure in bid to end mobile blackspots
“I am happy to defend our record on libraries, despite the brickbats that I get from library campaigners” – Ed Vaizey

Get Reading : 15th February
Reading Libraries: Cuts in opening hours & moves proposed

Burton Mail : 15th February

Are libraries going to close in South Derbyshire?



Elizabeth Ash and Laura Swaffield, Trustees of The Library Campaign,  delivered the following speech on behalf of The Library Campaign at the Speak up For libraries Lobby of Parliament on 9 February 2016.

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TLC formed in 1984.

Things looked bad then.

But nobody would have dreamt that the situation would be so very much worse today.

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Local campaigners are the backbone of the fight to keep libraries alive and indeed of the struggle to explain to politicians just how vital they are. And this struggle continues at national level right now.

For instance, there is a Libraries Taskforce, which is supposed to be working on common issues affecting public libraries.

But library users and library campaigners have not been given a place on the steering committee – the top table, if you like.

They just don’t get it.

And we are still fighting to get the point across.
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As for the libraries minister, Ed Vaizey, that’s another problem at national level.
We’re sorry he can’t be with us today….

But then, he’s never quite with us, is he?

We’ve been trying for months to arrange a public debate between Ed and Alan Gibbons, which he says he is eager to have – but he just can’t fix a time for it.
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Many of us are working 24/7 at local level.

Today is a rare chance to join forces physically to show that the plight of public libraries is a national issue – a serious national problem – and politicians must take the issue seriously.

– a serious national problem – and politicians must take the issue seriously.

– and politicians must take the issue seriously.

Dawn Finch image
We really appreciate the efforts you have made to be here today.

We have people from across England and as far as North Wales who have travelled to be here for this event.

Thank you all so much for coming to speak up for libraries, to push the politicians to acknowledge the value of libraries and to act to defend the public library service before it is too late!

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Libraries Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, says that he really cares about libraries, so presumably he also really cares about library workers and library users. 

Ed committed to a public debate on libraries with author, Alan Gibbons.
We offered to host and to provide a venue.  We made every effort to secure a date for Ed to debate with Alan on a weekend when library users, library workers and library campaigners would have a greater chance of attending.   Alan Gibbons made himself available on multiple dates.
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But Ed could not find any date where he could make himself available, in London, on a weekend, to attend a debate.

Busy Ed. 

So when the minister tweeted his support again for libraries this week and all the fantastic things they deliver…
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….we felt sure that he’d want to attend the Speak Up for Libraries rally at Central Hall Westminster.
It is right on his doorstep, on a weekday, just a few minutes from the House of Commons.

Lucky Ed!

But, did Ed jump at the chance?
Ed was very quick to respond to let us know he has no availability on the day of the lobby.

Oh dear, Ed!

It’s not looking good for Ed, who may well go down in history as the minister who oversaw the destruction of the public library service.

Please, don’t be like Ed

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Please join Speak Up for Libraries on 9 February because action is needed to ensure the public library service is properly staffed, well funded and adequately stocked.
Please book a place on Eventbrite.

Via email

2 January 2016

Dear Ed

We are delighted to see you broadcast on Twitter the huge value of public libraries, and spell out how vital they are.

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We would love you to join the Speak Up For Libraries public rally at Central Hall next Tuesday morning February 9th, which has exactly the same aim.

We could find a slot for you to speak any time between 11am and 1pm

Better still, Alan Gibbons will be there.

We know you were very keen last year to debate with him in public the figures on library closures. But you were unable to attend on any Saturday.

This is a wonderful chance, at last, to grant your wish – on a weekday, minutes from the Commons and with an interested audience. 

We look forward to welcoming you.

Please let us know what time would be most convenient for you.

Best wishes

Laura Swaffield and Elizabeth Ash

on behalf of The Library Campaign

The Library Campaign – supporting friends and users of libraries
Registered Charity (E&W) no.1102634
Follow us on twitter @LibraryCampaign
Follow us on Facebook
Find us on Eventbrite: thelibrarycampaign.eventbrite.co.uk

The Library Campaign are a part of: Speak Up For Libraries is a coalition of organisations and campaigners working to protect libraries and library staff, now and in the future.

Speak Up For Libraries is a coalition of organisations and campaigners working to protect libraries and library staff, now and in the future.

Website: www.speakupforlibraries.org

Twitter: @SpeakUp4Libs using lobby hashtag #SUFLlobby16

Facebook: www.facebook.com/SpeakUpForLibraries

Eventbrite: http://sufl.eventbrite.com

THE BOOKSELLER : 2nd February
‘Libraries have betrayed publishers’, festival hears 

Chronicle Live : 2nd February
Charity behind Northumberland’s leisure centres and libraries asks for £1m bailout

Bournemouth Echo : 2nd February
“You should get volunteers” – councillor ‘throws the ball back’ to library campaigners at meeting

Rossendale Free Press : 2nd February
Lancashire | Free Press hands in your petition to save Valley’s libraries

Socialist Worker : 2nd February
Walkouts called to fight south London library cuts

Hereford Times : 2nd February
LETTER | Libraries are an essential service, so why are we losing them?

Burton Mail : 2nd February
Libraries in Derbyshire could close following review

Bristol Post : 2nd February
Library assistants must pass written exam to hold on to their jobs

BBC : 25th January
Are paper books really disappearing?


Cathy Cassidy quote

We have been asked to post this on our site and are happy to do so in order to highlight the issues raised by the submission of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to the Swindon Council budget consultation, with specific reference to libraries.

Many of the points relate to libraries in general, not just those in Swindon.

Cuts to library services and closures have a disproportionate impact on blind and partially sighted people. There is also concern that volunteers or community groups may not understand the needs of minority groups such as blind and partially sighted people, therefore having an unfair impact on their access and use of the service.

Submission from Royal National Institute of Blind People to Swindon Council budget consultation – libraries

1. Summary

1.1        RNIB represents the interests of almost two million people living with sight loss in the UK.

1.2        There are an estimated 5,300 people living with sight loss in Swindon. Of this total, 620 are living with severe sight loss (blindness).

1.3        By 2020 the number of people living with sight loss in Swindon is projected to have increased to 6,950; and the number of people with severe sight loss will have increased to 840.

1.4        The essential elements for a comprehensive and efficient library service are described in CILIP’s guidelines “What makes a good library service?”

1.5        The qualities of being comprehensive and efficient must be considered in conjunction with the purpose and values of the library service.

1.6        Public libraries have an obligation to provide services to blind and partially sighted people as members of the community.

1.7        Libraries need to make appropriate adjustments to remove the barriers which prevent blind and partially sighted people making use of services.

1.8        Management of libraries by community groups and volunteers could have an unfair impact on minority groups whose needs are not understood or addressed.

1.9        Library closures have a disproportionate impact on blind and partially sighted people.

1.10    Apart from library closures, other library budget cuts are having an adverse impact on blind and partially sighted people.


2. Background

2.1 RNIB is the leading organization in the field of sight loss in the UK and represents the interests of almost two million people living with sight loss. Two of our priorities are to create an inclusive society and support independent living for blind and partially sighted people.

2.2 Like sighted people, blind and partially sighted people need to be able to read and write in order to work, learn, enjoy leisure activities, shop, travel and play a part in society.   However, only 7% of written materials are made available in accessible formats that can be read by blind and partially sighted people (LISU, 2011) and many barriers are put in the way of accessible reading and library services.

2.3 Therefore a major part of our work, as a leading member of the Right to Read Alliance, is to influence libraries, publishers, bookshops, reading agencies and other stakeholders to deliver more accessible services. We also provide library services, where there is market failure, to blind and partially sighted people with the most specialized needs.

2.4 We have a successful track record of working with public libraries, CILIP, the Society of Chief Librarians and other library organizations on strategic and practical initiatives such as Share the Vision, Reading Sight website, Six Steps, Make a Noise in Libraries, Summer Reading Challenge, World Book Day, North East Accessible Library & Information Services, provision of Talking Books, Giant Print and Braille etc. We are a leading member of IFLA’s Section for Persons with Print Disabilities.


3. What constitutes a comprehensive and efficient library service for the 21st century?

3.1 Our views on this question are influenced by CILIP’s useful guidelines “What makes a good library service?”, revised 2010.

3.2 In order to decide what makes a library comprehensive and efficient, some consideration must first be given to its purpose. We believe that a library service should provide opportunities for everyone to develop their potential through access to information, reading and cultural activity and help to deliver key policy objectives that strengthen the community, such as economic regeneration, community cohesion, success for children and young people, a fulfilling life for older people, health and well being, and equality and social justice. With a presence throughout the local authority, the public library service is in a strong position to have a positive influence on community development.

3.3 An effective library service does not stand still, but anticipates and adapts to change. Notable developments since 1964 are the emergence of new digital media and methods of communication and the changing demographics and needs of society.

3.4 The values of public libraries have been much discussed and in our view include the important elements of democratic engagement, equal opportunities and social justice.

3.5 In order to deliver an efficient library service that fulfils the purpose and deliver the values described above, we would expect to see clear roles and responsibilities at national and local level.

3.7 At local level we would expect to see organisational leadership, strategic planning and innovation. Each library service should identify and meet local needs by engaging with the local community and by participating in a national library network and national offers.

3.8 It is valuable for libraries to explore new delivery models, such as shared services and outsourcing, that could realise efficiencies. There are many examples, not only those that are currently being developed via the Future Libraries Programme/Libraries Development Initiative.

3.9 We would also like to see innovative partnerships put in place, not only between the public and private sectors but also with the third sector.

3.10 A comprehensive service must address the needs of all members of the community and be available to everyone. The Equality Act clearly states that reasonable adjustments must be made to ensure that people do not experience any barriers to accessing information or services.

3.11 It has long been our concern that the library needs of blind and partially sighted people are not adequately or consistently met by all library authorities. In lieu of any legislation or standards, Share the Vision developed the Six Steps benchmark, setting out the basic requirements of an accessible library service. During 2011, Six Steps was adopted in principle by 180 library authorities throughout the UK.

3.12 To provide a comprehensive and efficient service, all the features described in the 1964 Act, recently amplified and updated in CILIP’s guidelines, need to take into consideration accessibility for people with print disabilities, for example

3.12.1 Employment of skilled and trained staff who understand the needs of blind and partially sighted people.

3.12.2 Convenient physical access to the service via accessible buildings, ICT equipment, websites and access technology. There should also be alternative means of access for people who cannot travel to the library building, such as delivery via mobile, housebound and online services.

3.12.3 Provision of sufficient quantity and range of accessible reading materials, such as large print and audio books, accessible ebooks, and referral to specialist sources of content and support that complement public library services, an example being RNIB’s Talking Books Service.

3.12.4 Accessible activities, such as inclusive reading groups.

3.12.5 Encouragement to blind and partially sighted adults and children to make full use of the service through local contacts with schools, societies and patient groups and participation in the annual Make a Noise in Libraries awareness campaign.

3.12.6 Provision of advice and tools, such as Reading Sight, Your Reading Choices and the appointment of a champion to facilitate such work.

3.12.7 Access to other services and organisations, through collaboration with local authority departments, the health sector, national agencies and local societies for visually impaired people.

3.13 In the interest of protecting the attributes of being comprehensive and fair, we do not wish to see responsibility for library services pass from the local authority to community groups or volunteers, because of the risk that the needs of minority groups with specialist requirements will not be understood or addressed.


4. The extent to which the planned closures are compatible with the requirements of the 1964 Act and the Charteris Report

4.1 We accept that, if a library service is to meet its purpose and remain efficient, the location of library buildings must be kept under review. There have been good examples of libraries being relocated to more convenient places, often co-located with other services, to meet the needs of communities that have changed shape or patterns of behaviour.

4.2 Nevertheless, the closure of local libraries is a great concern to blind and partially sighted people, amongst many others, because many of them are elderly, have additional health problems and find it difficult to use public transport. The same can be said for closure of mobile library and housebound services, specialist support units and redundancy of specialist posts. Blind and partially sighted people are less likely than sighted people to be able to travel further afield and have few, if any, alternative sources of supply and support.

4.3 It is encouraging that Charteris found that Wirral was in breach of its statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service under the 1964 Act because it did not take account of the views and needs of local people. The report refers to the needs of disabled people and a major criticism of the Council was that it did not carry out an Equality Impact Assessment. The closure of libraries in Somerset and Gloucestershire was also overturned by the High Court on the grounds of equality impact.

4.4 The quality of library service for blind and partially sighted people is affected not only by library closures but also by other budget cuts, which may be less obvious to members of the public at present but are likely to have a significant effect on quality of service in the medium term. While we appreciate the current resource constraints, we believe that it is necessary, and indeed good value when times are tough, to invest in libraries to support the continuing wellbeing of the community.

4.5 Given that standards of service are already patchy, there is a risk that budget cuts are having a disproportionate impact on blind and partially sighted people. For example:

4.5.1 With materials budgets reduced, there is a risk that libraries cut disproportionately on purchases of large print and audio books, because they are more expensive than print books.

4.5.2 Most libraries have not yet invested in ebooks which could, for the first time, offer an equitable accessible reading experience to blind and partially sighted people.

4.5.3 There is increasing use of self issue systems that are inaccessible to blind and partially sighted people.

4.5.4 Despite the fact that over half of the people in the UK who do not yet use digital technologies are disabled people, there is still inadequate provision of access technology in libraries and insufficient personal learning support.

4.5.5 There are fewer trained and experienced staff available to help blind and partially sighted people, and suggestions that some libraries may be entirely unstaffed.

4.5.6 Libraries and social care teams do not necessarily work closely together and increasingly fail to refer blind and partially sighted people with specialised reading requirements to appropriate services, such as RNIB Talking Books. Our service is often described as a lifeline by people whose needs cannot be met by public libraries, so it is a serious concern that local authority funded subscriptions to the service fell by 8% in the year to November 2011.

4.5.7 There is little resource for libraries to collaborate with other organisations to develop and promote specialised services and this leads to high dependency on agencies such as RNIB. We support libraries throughout the UK free of charge by providing tools such as Make a Noise in Libraries and the Reading Sight website.


5. The impact library closures have on local communities

5.1 We accept that it is the responsibility of local politicians in consultation with local communities to determine the balance between competing needs for local services, community wellbeing and financial husbandry. However, the closure of a library space that is known and trusted by the community is a loss that may not be entirely and adequately replaced by an alternative or substitute service.

5.2 The loss of the community asset is most keenly felt by vulnerable members of the local community, namely, the young, the old, the unemployed, the disabled and the poorer members of society. They are least able to travel to a library service further away or to purchase what they would previously have borrowed from the library. This is particularly the case for blind and partially sighted people as many find it difficult to travel outside their local area and do not have the financial resources to purchase large print and audio books.

Mike Bell
Regional Campaigns Officer (South West)
10 Stillhouse Lane

4 January 2016

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Leon’s Library Blog: 22nd January
The DCMS or LGA says jump, the SCL asks ‘how high?’


The Library Campaign: 22nd January
Submission from Royal National Institute of Blind People to Swindon Council

Torquay Herald Express: 22nd January
Totnes librarian appointed as trustee to group that will help run Devon’s libraries

Oxford Times: 22nd January
Oxfordshire County Council falls out with David Cameron again in row over £69m cuts

Brixton Buzz : 22nd January
Humiliating defeat for senior Cllr’s as Book-ish Gyms rejected by Constituency Labour Party 

Brixton Blog: 22nd January
Lambeth libraries – the alternative plan

Brixton Blog: 22nd January
Lambeth Council warned of occupations & strikes if library plans go ahead

Coventry Telegraph: 22nd January
Deals to move libraries revealed as council cuts begin to take shape 

Hereford Times: 21st January
Ambitious plans put forward to transform Hereford Library into modern community hub

Craven Herald: 21st January
Craven libraries explore community-run solution

Gazette Series: 20th January
South Glos Chipping Sodbury Library earmarked for closure under council plans to save up to £1million

Upper Norwood Library by Billie-Jane Armstrong
Upper Norwood Library by Billie-Jane Armstrong

to speak up for libraries!

Anyone can make their voice heard where it matters at the Speak Up For Libraries national lobby of Parliament.

Whether you are currently active in a library campaign, a library worker a library user or just care about what is happening to our libraries, you’ll be welcome.

Please help us to spread the word!

The event is open to everyone who cares about libraries. If paying for fares is a problem, contact The Library Campaign as we may be able to help. Your presence is important to us!

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Speak Up For Libraries unites The Library Campaign with all the other major organisations working for the future of libraries – Campaign for the Book, CILIP (the librarians’ professional association), UNISON and Voices for the Library.

On Tuesday February 9th, we’ll join together in a mass lobby of MPs and ministers – reminding them that central government and local authorities alike are failing in their clear legal duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service to all who want it. The reason: they simply don’t understand what libraries do.

IT WILL BE QUITE A DAY…Screen Shot 2016-01-17 at 20.53.25

We’ll start with a morning rally at Central Hall, Westminster – with video, songs and a line-up of authors and campaign speakers. The event is free, with tea and coffee provided. 

From 1pm, people will head off to meet their own MPs (we’ll tell you exactly how to do it).

National press – and our own photographer – will be around throughout.


Over 100 UK libraries were lost last year, and at least 441 have closed in the past five years. Another 149 are currently under threat. Here’s a special chance to tell the politicians that this is a disaster on a national level.


Book a place online http://SUFLconf14.eventbrite.co.uk or telephone 020 8651 9552

Further information and booking 

Full details and updates can be found at www.speakupforlibraries.org

Book a free place at: https://sufllobby16.eventbrite.co.uk/

Email:  speakup4libraries@gmail.com, or call Elizabeth on 07968 491 355.

The Twitter hashtag is #SUFLlobby16

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Tim Coates has analysed the latest CIPFA data (2014/15) with some worrying conclusions: 

  • Children’s book lending has declined 17% in the last three years

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  • All library book lending has fallen 28% in the last three years

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  • Library use in major English cities is declining more rapidly than the national picture

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  • Purchasing of print books for libraries in England has fallen from £80m in 2005 to £49m last year
  • Ebooks took 17.6% of the book fund and produced just 1.2% of book lending.
  • Council library connected overhead costs have risen to £150m per annum, over and above library management costs

 Tim Coates is calling on The Libraries Taskforce to push for significant change on several counts – to ensure all local authorities submit data, to ensure auditing of data is carried out to reduce discrepancies in reporting, and to ensure that the data is released in a timely fashion and in a meaningful format to inform local authorities.

He states,

“Last year, when the corresponding CIPFA analysis was published, the newly formed Taskforce observed that it was of limited use because councils submit the data in different ways and that several councils do not complete the returns.

The variation is confined to a very small part of the questionnaire – it only applies to the way the headings councils give to the revenue cost of certain types of capital expenditure – it does not affect the overall costs at all.  There are also discrepancies about counting or performance and it means that there can be slight overstatement of visits, issues and of levels of stock. These do not negate the analysis but they make it more worrying and they also highlight the need to audit reports of public activity, which is an important issue.

Out of 205 library authorities in England, Wales and Scotland last year, 18 authorities did not report fully. This year, 31 have not. The totals calculated by CIPFA are not significantly affected by these omissions.  However, councils have a statutory duty to provide information on their library services, described in the 1964 Act, and it would be good for the Taskforce to remind them that the CIPFA return is a way to do that, as a matter of urgency.

It is obvious from the figures that councils do not and have not responded to the decline in use of the service  – but they should.  One reason for this is that the most recent and relevant figures are never available at the time a council prepares its annual budget  – which is the time at which needed improvements could be made.”


Coates calls for a dramatic improvement in the collection of CIPFA data for 2015/16, which commences in April 2016. He points out that the Taskforce has already highlighted a need to improve the timeliness, accuracy and detail of the information available to councils. All councils should complete the forms; the CIPFA data should be produced by July 2016  – and it should contain some of the sort of information that he has included in his two presentations. 

He adds,

“Any ‘tool kit’ of advice provided by the Taskforce should include an explanation as to how to respond to the falling use of the library service in budgets and actions.”


Elizabeth Ash, Trustee of The Library Campaign, says,

“The Library Campaign supports this call for accurate, complete and timely libraries data.

CIPFA data needs to be standard, consistent, timely, relevant and meaningful in order to make a difference by informing local authority decision makers as well as allowing others, including the taxpayer, the library user and the library campaigner to hold local authorities to account for the statutory library service that they provide.

The marked reduction in children’s borrowing figures is extremely worrying.

We are witnessing the most appalling and rapid decline in library services, particularly in England, with no decisive action being taken by central government to address this or to superintend.

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You can access the full Powerpoint presentation, here: Public libraries 2014-15 – Tim Coates

This is Money: 23rd December
The next big fraud risk? The plot to get you to bank in libraries ….

Leon’s Library Blog: 23rd December
Shape of things to come

Swindon Advertiser: 23rd December
Community radio station moves into Liden Library after striking deal with Swindon Borough Council

Upper Norwood Library by Billie-Jane Armstrong
Upper Norwood Library by Billie-Jane Armstrong

South London Press: 21st December
UNISON send out ballot papers for strike to Lambeth library staff

Bourne Local : 21st December
Lincolnshire | Martin Hill: Tell us where council cuts should be made

Lancashire Telegraph : 21st December
IT plan for under threat libraries
Users of two East Lancashire Libraries are to trial a pilot project to improve information technology access despite the fact both could close next year.

Upper Norwood Library by Billie-Jane Armstrong
Upper Norwood Library by Billie-Jane Armstrong 

After taking quite some time to get into gear, the Libraries Taskforce is starting to deliver…


There’s a useful paper outlining the state of the law on public libraries – DCMS decisions, judicial review decisions.

It does not, of course, comment on the fact that the DCMS could – and should – have done a heck of a lot more. In effect, it has done nothing as case after detailed case has been presented to it by desperate campaigners faced with vicious, damaging cuts.

Nor does it comment on the fact that the same desperate campaigners have been forced to mount expensive and risky judicial reviews to try to get some action. Library policy is, in effect, being decided via a mish-mash of decisions by individual judges.

An appalling situation all round, with DCMS inaction squarely to blame. But it’s handy to have a clear round-up to consult.

Download a copy here: Guidance on Libraries as a Statutory Service



A ‘toolkit’ of news, ideas and possible resources, with lots of links to follow up.

Again, we’re not mad about some of the ideas – outsourcing, anyone? volunteer libraries? – but it’s useful to have a picture of what’s going on. One section we like outlines just how much public libraries do to support all the work that local councils do. Most councils badly need to be told this!

Download a copy here: Libraries shaping the future: toolkit and case studies 


The toolkit…

is presented as a work permanently in progress, with comments and additions welcomed.

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 22.35.34CEO Kathy Settle told us,

“It is a living document that we will keep adding to and tweaking over time – don’t think of it as a traditional ‘pdf-type’ publication that is published on a set date and is never changed….

We will particularly encourage people to give us feedback over the next couple of months as we want to ensure it is as useful as possible as soon as possible, but we will take on board feedback that comes in at any time.”

Librarians’ association CILIP has launched a really punchy campaign that The Library Campaign is happy to support.

It states clearly what we all know – that a quality library service is our right. And it’s the law!

It’s good to see CILIP taking such a robust approach – at last.

My Library By Right aims to bring everyone together to campaign for:

(i) The public’s rights to libraries to be recognised and respected

(ii) Public libraries to be treated as the statutory services they are

(iii) The DCMS (Department for Culture, Media & Sport) to carry out their legal duties under the 1964 Public Libraries & Museums Act

(iv) Statutory guidance from DCMS for local authorities on their duties under the 1964 Act.

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CILIP says:

“The government and local authorities have a legal responsibility to provide you with a quality library service that meets your needs.

By statute, local authorities must provide ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library services and government must oversee and improve libraries.

We will hold the government to account for these legal duties.”

We can all start supporting this campaign straight away.

(i) Sign the petition to government at: https://www.change.org/p/john-whittingdale-hm-government-act-now-to-protect-my-statutory-rights-to-a-quality-public-library-service

(ii) Spread the news on Twitter #MyLibraryByRight

(iii) Visit www.cilip.org.uk/mylibrarybyright for more information, downloadable posters and some useful factsheets on the 1964 Act and other relevant laws.

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Libraries Taskforce : 26th November
Blog – Kathy Settle | Our first six months https://librariestaskforce.blog.gov.uk/2015/11/26/our-first-six-months/

Libraries Taskforce: six month progress report April – September 2015

Brixton Blog : 26th November
Gym-trification: Lambeth’s dodgy scheme to turn libraries into gyms parodied in Private Eye

Horncastle News : 26th November
Councillors make recommendation on who should run Lincolnshire library service

Coventry Observer : 26th November
Coventry Council set to ponder cuts to city libraries

Rossendale Free Press : 26th November
Lancashire | Volunteers may be needed to save our libraries and museum

The Courier : 26th November
Councillors express concerns over plans to close libraries in Fife
http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/councillors-express-concerns-over-plans-to-close-libraries-in-fife-1.912575 |

Daily Post : 26th November
Anglesey’s Market Hall revamp (to create a new library) poised for go-ahead

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Chair of The Library Campaign, Laura Swaffield, writes:

“This year’s TLC AGM and mini-conference was a treasure-trove of insights, ideas and experience.

Campaigners from Lincolnshire (Angela Montague) and Barnet (Barbara Jacobson and Keith Martin) had loads of really useful tips – though less news of real success.

The discussion underlined the point. Library plans nationwide fail to show any understanding of what libraries do, or any common sense or financial sense. Opposition by local people is always total – and shown to be so.

Campaigners work incredibly hard, and make watertight cases.

Local councils don’t listen.

The only real hope of change lies with the new libraries Taskforce. It has quite a list of things to do. For many, it’s already too little, too late. Your chance to find out more is on November 14 at the Speak Up For Libraries conference!”

The following stood for election and were elected as Trustees of the charity:

Elizabeth Ash
Geof Dron
Bob Goodrick
Mathew Hulbert
Keith Martin ( Treasurer)
Laura Swaffield (Chair)

MAIN MESSAGE Much has been achieved this year. Much much more could be done with more on board.  Read the committee report, delivered by Laura Swaffield in the minutes.


TLC accounts to report – AGM 2015



The AGM  was followed by a mini-conference, opened with presentations from Angela Montague from Save Lincolnshire Libraries and Barbara Jacobson and Keith Martin from Save Barnet Libraries, offered an insight into their campaigns, useful tips and advice. Issues and priorities were discussed.

More on this in the next issue of The Library Campaigner, but


Angela led us through the history of the Lincolnshire campaign, offering lots of helpful advice and went on to produce a post on Save Lincolnshire Libraries site to share the campaign’s tips and advice to others. Find it here

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Keith and Barbara shared their experiences of campaigning for Barnet libraries, a campaign well-supported by the local branch of UNISON, and the text of these can be accessed here:

Report – Barbara Jacobson
Report – Keith Martin



WE NEED OUR MEMBERS  Every membership of The Library Campaign helps to further our work, adds another piece to the jigsaw and gives a further voice to library users.  We now send out two copies of the magazine to members. We know that many, as intended, pass on the extra copy or place it in public places. Members are also needed to contribute to our expanded website and help with social media is always needed.  Much work has gone on to reconstruct and expand our list of Friends and campaign groups. It is the only such list available. But it requires constant updating. If you know of a group not listed, please let us know. Similarly, please let us know if you spot an error or dead link.


You can join us by taking up membership You can follow us and engage on social media: If you are on Twitter, follow The Library Campaign at @LibraryCampaign. On Facebook, find us at The Library Campaign  It’s a great way to keep in touch with current news. The more members we have involved, the more we can achieve as a charity. A strong and active membership helps The Library Campaign to better represent the views of the various campaigners and friends of libraries groups.


A thin hope – but a real one – for Lambeth’s doomed libraries.

Lambeth’s awful library plans were officially ‘called in’ at a council
scrutiny cttee on Tues eve, Nov 10.

This is the now-notorious plan to reduce 5 out of 10 libraries to a
fraction of their size, with no staff at all, & – even worse – put
fee-charging gyms in 3 of these. This plan is so absurd it was picked
up by PRIVATE EYE for ridicule.

This in a borough that is already over-supplied with local gyms – and
where proper libraries with staff to help people are badly needed by
the many residents who have little money, need help using ICT to claim
benefits or seek jobs, have poor literacy, disabilities… as well as
the usual small children, schoolkids, young people, old people and
black people who make heavy use of local libraries.

Gaming Club at Tate South London Library - This and other activities could be wiped out in preference for a fee-paying gym.
Gaming Club at Tate South London Library – This and other activities could be wiped out in preference for a fee-paying gym.

A packed & angry meeting filled about 250 seats at Lilian Baylis
School, Kennington.


Partial victory at least.

We were expecting the usual rubber stamp. Lambeth cllrs are
notoriously bullied into always supporting the party line no matter
what. But we got something just a little better….

Cllrs Scott Ainslie (Green) and Tim Briggs (Conservative) patiently
pointed out that money is clearly identifiable to keep the library
service going, while making all the cuts Lambeth demands.

Libraries portfolio holder Jane Edbrooke and Lambeth officer John
Kerridge addressed none of these points, falling back on their now
totally discredited excuse that they have no choice because of
government cuts. Demonstrably ubtrue.

It was a pleasure to hear- often – reference to existence of a viable
alternative plan by brilliant head of libraries Susanna Barnes, who
has already transformed a famously under-funded service into a London
leader, with a host of extra services and activities, booming demand
and national fame for its unique, ground-breaking facilities for
people with sight problems, enabling them to read independently.

Lambeth officers have sat on this plan and done nothing with it –
while rushing through a ‘plan’ for leisure company GLL to spend over
£1m revenue and £3m capital on the disastrous gyms – for which there
is no business case, no market research – not even a basic feasibilty

Even Lambeth’s cowed committee were interested to know more.

Frustratingly, library campaigners saw them miss by just one vote (5
cllrs vs 4) the option to send the whole thing back to Cabinet for

But – remarkably by Lambeth council standards – we did get a decision
to ‘make such recommendations to Cabinet as it sees fit’.
– with a LONG list of recommendations that cover most of the things that
concern us.

Friends of Lambeth Libraries says:

“Surely we can work with this and easily show how awful AND FINANCIALLY
UNNECESSARY these daft plans are. It is glaringly obvious to anyone
prepared to listen. The council can do itself a favour and re-think.
Or it can face furious opposition from residents all over the borough,
who are marching in their hundreds and signing petitions in their


– what mitigation is planned for the many people disadvantaged by unstaffed
‘neighbourhood libraries’?
– more development work needed on Susanna Barnes’s proposal
– guarantee that ICT access points WITH SUPPORT will be the same or more
– look at alternative plans with ‘much more reflection about what the
community wants’
– need to be ‘a bit more robust’ in dealings with GLL – ‘I’m uncomfortable
that they seem to be taking the lead in this’, said one committee member.

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FadoeEvening – Tate South Lambeth Library

Gazette Live : 3rd November

Libraries to become thing of the past under plans to revamp facilities

Middlesbrough Council has agreed plans to end all standalone libraries by 2016 :: Central Library will remain as it is


Cambrian News : 3rd November

Library teams up with blind peoples’ charity for initiative to get people online



Brixton Buzz : 3rd November

Calls for Lambeth Council Labour Cabinet to resign following decision to convert libraries into gyms



South London Today : 3rd November

Greenwich | 100,000 could visit new library by Abbey Wood Crossrail stop



Get Reading : 3rd November

Calcot children’s centre and Burghfield Common Library threatened



BBC News : 2nd November

Hampshire library service closure proposals part of public consultation



Bitterne Park Info : 2nd November

Library campaigners ask minister for local inquiry


Photo by Mike Coles
Photo by Mike Coles

A University of Sheffield lecturer and the publishers of a Sheffield guide have collected stories and memories for a brilliant new website that celebrates the city’s public libraries, past and present.Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 17.57.20 Dr. Anna Barton and Dr. Briony Birdi initiated the project, called Library Stories, as part of their wider research that compares the city’s public library services at their outset in the 19th century with services today, when funding cuts threaten their existence. The project is supported by the University’s Arts Enterprise scheme, which funds collaborations between academics and local organisations. Drs. Barton and Birdi collaborated on the project with Our Favourite Places, publishers of an independent Sheffield guidebook and website, who assisted with research and whose founders, Eleven Design, created the resulting website and booklet. Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 17.56.29

In May, the team distributed postcards at the city’s libraries asking users one simple question: ‘What does your library mean to you?’

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 17.56.04 They also met with book and social groups, interviewed former and current members of staff, and held public reminiscence events. Over 200 library users shared their memories and stories of the city’s libraries. A selection of them can now be seen on the Library Stories website, which acts as a striking record of love, appreciation and support for Sheffield’s public libraries. Alongside these ‘present’ stories, the website also presents findings and photos from the city’s library ‘past’, dug out from Sheffield Archives by MA student Nadia Jamaludin. It’s hoped the site will grow in time, as it invites users to share their thoughts on the ‘future’ of libraries.Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 17.56.45

Find them on Twitter at @Library_Stories

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BBC News : 22nd October
Northern Ireland libraries: Fewer staff will affect service to public 

Belfast Telegraph : 22nd October
Library staff ‘living in a constant state of uncertainty’ 

Lincolnshire Echo : 22nd October
Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaigners could be hit with £90,000 bill for legal challenge 

Halesowen News : 22nd October
Dudley Council set to create a mutual to run libraries and associate services 

Shropshire Star : 22nd October
Ex-mayor in plea over future of Whitchurch library 

Harrow Times : 22nd October
Council accused of ‘stringing along’ library campaigners 

Banbury Guardian : 22nd October
Oxfordshire | ‘Tell us where to cut services’ says council 
£1m cut proposed for the Library Service, inc getting rid of mobile libraries 

South London Today : 21st September
Lewisham | Leave our library alone
Residents have hit out at possible plans to downgrade Forest Hill library.

Daily Trust : 21st October
Nigeria | Council to clampdown on quack librarians 
Librarians’ Registration Council of Nigeria (LRCN) has warned non-librarians, who are masquerading as librarians, to steer clear of libraries across the country or face prosecution.

Brixton Buzz : 20th October
Private Eye on Lambeth’s decision to turn libraries into privately-run gyms 

And our AGM and mini-conference is on Saturday.  All welcome!

Book here via Eventbrite.  It’s free!

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Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 19.25.04
Please book a 
FREE place to attend The Library Campaign’s AGM and the open discussion that follows to explore the issues surrounding libraries and to help the future direction and priorities of The Library Campaign. Book here.

Everyone is welcome.

You need not be a member of The Library Campaign to attend, although only members can vote at the AGM. And we always welcome new members to support our work!



1pm – tea, coffee, biscuits and networking

2 – 4.30pm speakers, AGM and discussions. 

This is a chance for members and non-members alike to gain an insight to The Library Campaign’s work – and its potential to do more…


1. Welcome and apologies for absence
2. Approval of minutes of the 2014 AGM  
3. Annual report for the year ending 31st March 2015
4. Annual accounts for the year ending 31st March 2015
5. Election of Committee

Joining the committee
The current Trustees stand down at the AGM. Our Chair, Laura Swaffield, is happy to stand for re-election, as is Elizabeth Ash, Geoffrey Dron, and Bob Goodrick.  Martin Wright, our current Treasurer, has served the Library Campaign well for many years, but would like to hand over this role, although would offer support to anyone interested in taking on the role.

We need more hands on deck to drive the work of the charity. We are particularly keen to encourage anyone interested in standing as Treasurer, as Secretary or as a general member to offer themselves up for election, although any member can stand for any post. Anyone elected as a committee member also becomes a Trustee of the charity.

We are happy to discuss this further if anyone would like to find out more before putting themselves forward.

For queries, to stand for election or to find out more, please call Elizabeth Ash on 020 8651 9552 / 07792 810 959 or email thelibrarycampaign@gmail.com 

The Library Campaign needs YOU!

YOUR ideas…

YOUR input…

YOUR help!

We do hope you will join us for the day….and for those not currently members, we hope that you will join The Library Campaign!

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