The Library Campaign Blog

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

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.


Saturday's conference on the blogs

We're picking up a lot of blog posts from delegates. The prize for comprehensiveness must go to Ian Anstice on his Public Libraries News site, who has shared twelve  pages of verbatim notes, as well as a summary post. It's also well worth reading Lauren Smith, who blogs at Walk You Home, Voices for the Library's post, Information Overload, whose subtitle, From Local to National, sums up the spirit of the conference very well and the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries blog

If you know of other blog or media coverage of the conference, please let us know by e-mail, Twitter or in the comments.




Wednesday, 26 October 2011

March on the DCMS! Open planning meeting

One of the chief actions to come out of last Saturday's conference was that we should organise, in February, a national demonstration for public libraries in London, route to include Downing Street and/or the DCMS. One suggestion is that at DCMS, or in Trafalgar Square, we might have a read-in. This is not in opposition to 4 February, 2012, which is National Libraries Day. It could take place later in the month, so that the local activities on 4 February are an opportunity to build for the march.

This will take a lot of organisation, so the next Executive Committee of the Library Campaign will be a planning meeting, open to all who want to play a part. It's at 2pm on Saturday 19 November, at a central London venue: place to be announced as soon as we have it.

Note (31 October): we may have to move the time forward too; more news when we have it

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Travel to ULU

There's engineering work on the underground this weekend. Details are at Chief closures are the Circle and Victoria lines. For delegates arriving at Kings Cross, St Pancras and Euston, ULU is a short walk. How to get to ULU

Monday, 17 October 2011

Workshop details

We can now announce details of workshop leaders for the workshops on Saturday.

Social media: Gary Green (Voices for the Library) and Stephanie Taylor (Critical Eye Communications)
Privatisation: Alan Wylie ( (Update: Alan is prevented by family illness from leading this workshop. His place will be taken by Tom Roper of Voices for the Library)
Volunteers: Ian Anstice (Public Libraries News)
Constructing arguments against council decisions - and putting them forward: Abby Barker (Rosehill Readers)
Press liaison: Jo Anderson (Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries) and Lauren Smith (Save Doncaster Libraries)
Legal challenges: Jo Anderson and Demelza Jones (Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries)
Local government finance: Pete Challis, Unison
Leaders to be announced on the day:
Getting groups together and coming up with strategies
Putting on events and protests
Promotion of campaigns

Registration is still open at or by email


Thursday, 13 October 2011

After the Brent judgement, what next?

Today Mr Justice Ouseley ruled in favour of Brent council. This is a blow, but the thousands of people involved in campaigning for libraries will not give up just because the law is an ass. But how? The place to debate these issues is at the first national forum for library campaigners since the coalition seized power, the conference on 22nd October. Details here:

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Library Campaign on Twitter and Facebook

As we prepare for the conference, now less than a month away, we'll be using social media extensively. If you use Twitter, follow us: . On Facebook we can be found at

The hashtag for the conference is #libcampconf.

If you're interested in using social media as a campaigning tool, make sure you go to the workshop at the conference led by Gary Green of Voices for the Library.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Registrations start

Registrations have started arriving for the Library Campaign conference. You can register by email or by post to The Library Campaign c/o 13 Shrublands Close, Chelmsford,Essex, CM2 6LR

Workshops on 22 October

We plan workshops on 22 October on the following themes:

  • Privatisation and outsourcing
  • Looking at the figures
  • Volunteers
  • Using social media
  • Working with the media
  • Mounting a legal challenge
  • Constructing arguments
  • Organising events

Not all may run, depending on level of interest.

The conference hashtag will be #libcampconf

Monday, 19 September 2011

Library Campaign Conference 22 October: programme

The Library Campaign Conference 22 October 2011, University of London Union Malet St

10:00 Registration (Tea/coffee)

10:30 Introduction to the day

10:35: First plenary: presentations from the Brent, Doncaster and Gloucester campaigns

11:20:  Second plenary: Pete Challis, Unison:  Local Government Finance - National To Local

12:00: Workshops

13:00: Lunch (included in registration fee)

14:00: Workshops

15:00: Tea/ coffee

15:15: Plenary report back

16:00: Philip Pullman

16:30: Close

To register e-mail or write to The Library Campaign, 13 Shrublands Close, Chelmsford, CM2 6LR

Registration fee - £15 Cheques payable to The Library Campaign. Can be paid on the day but you must tell us in advance that you are coming and we would prefer the money up front. The registration does include lunch - please tell us about any dietary requirements.
The Library Campaign will assist representatives of local user/ friends groups with reasonable travel costs. Receipts must be provided.
The University of London Union is a short walk from Euston station.



Sunday, 18 September 2011

Library Campaign Conference 22 October

On 22 October 2011 the Library Campaign in association with Voices for the Library will be hosting a conference for library user groups. It will be a chance for users to compare notes, find out more about the issues confronting them and produce some proposals for future action both locally and nationally.
Philip Pullman has agreed to speak and there will also be contributions from some of the campaigns that are making news.
There will be also be lots of opportunities to network and to discuss the issues in small groups.
Some of the proposed discussion topic include

  • working with volunteers
  • outsourcing, privatisation, trusts etc
  • legal challenges
  • using the press
  • using social media (Facebook. Twitter etc.)

The conference will be on Saturday 22 October at the University of London Union on Malet Street, London , WC1. Travel details here

There will be a registration fee of £15 which will cover the whole day including lunch. The Library Campaign will pay reasonable travel expense for representatives of local groups who need assistance with fares.