The Library Campaign Blog

The Library Campaign is a registered charity (E&W No. 1102634) supporting friends and users of libraries.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Lobby for libraries, 13 March 2012

#librarieslobby UNISON, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI), Voices for the Library, The Library Campaign, Campaign for the Book and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) will hold a joint lobby of Parliament on 13 March 2012 - calling on politicians to protect vital library services:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Transport on Saturday

If you're coming to the planning meeting for the #savelibraries event on Saturday at Birkbeck College, please note that there are major works and consequent closures on the Underground, including both the Northern and Victoria lines. Forewarned is forearmed. For details, see
Anyone would think the Mayor of London was deliberately trying to disrupt our work.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Gloucestershire and Somerset win in High Court

Gloucestershire and Somerset campaigners won a victory in the courts today: Guardian report. Those who attended the Library Campaign conference last month will remember the talk by Jo and Demelza of Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries. Their tenacity has paid off, and library campaigners everywhere are in their debt.

This is a real shot in the arm as we prepare for Saturday's planning meeting for a national demonstration to #savelibraries. 11am at Birkbeck. All welcome. Details:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

February march planning meeting details confirmed

The planning meeting for the national demonstration to save libraries will be at 11 am on Saturday 19 November, in Room G16, Birkbeck College. Use the entrance in Torrington Square: Birkbeck College's interactive map

The meeting will end at 1 pm, to allow time for a lunch break before the meeting of the Library Campaign Executive Committee at 2pm. EC meetings are open, so do stay if you can.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

'I personally have a great emotional attachment to books'

Until the official transcript of this morning's Culture Media and Sport Select Committee session with the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, appears, here's a version in note form put together by reviewing the live television stream. Note that we were incorrect to tweet during the session that Hunt had said that the Isle of Wight and Somerset court cases were due to report before the end of the month; he said that it was Gloucestershire and Somerset. Nevertheless, Brent campaigners will be surprised to hear this, as they believe their Court of Appeal case will come first.

Hunt was asked three questions by the committee, all by the chair.

Q: How does he understand the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act requirement for a comprehensive and efficient service?

A: Original definition of comprehensive and efficient in Roberts Report of 1959. Comprehensive = good selection of books, when books more expensive, efficient = reducing no of authorities. He takes responsibilities seriously, modernisation yes, vandalism no. Has had extensive discussions and engagement with Brent, Lewisham, Somerset, Gloucestershire and IoW about their programmes, not appropriate to comment in detail on individual cases as judicial reviews in progress,  Somerset and Glos this month, Brent from Court of Appeal next. 151 library authorities, 140 are modernising, dealing with cuts without large library closure programmes. What we are here to protect under 64 Act is services not buildings, not to stand in way of sensible modernisation, make sure local authorities doing everything they can through library plans to maintain good library services

Q Website says closure of one or even small number of branches not necessarily breach of Act. Suggests closure of larger number is. A number are making substantial cuts. Do you think some without naming names are in breach?
A: monitoring closely. Five authorities spoken to, IoW has found way forward for community to run five libraries its withdrawn funding from , Lewisham is finding community led alternatives, Somerset and Gloucs are trying these, Brent has taken different approach but extending weekend opening to seven days at the six it is keeping open. Not about number of buildings closed, but about availability of service, going through proper process and DCSM satisfying ourselves that councils are taking responsibility
Q: Physical books still important?
A: I personally have great emotional attachment to books, grew up reading books think they're wonderful. As world changes, commitment must be to reading. People exploiting and enjoying literature, in broad sense. Will have less commitment to an individual way of reading, but libraries have important part to play in new digital world, not a reason for not having good library services.
Hunt's performance was disappointing, but that was expected; and protestations by politicians about how much they love books are always to be treated with suspicion. What was worse was the lack of interest from the committee members. It demonstrates an anti-library consensus among the political class, whatever party label they may espouse. No wonder people are cynical about MPs.