The Library Campaign Blog

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

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 Five authorities spoken to, IoW has found way forward for community to run five libraries its withdrawn funding from , Lewisham is finding community led alternatives, Somerset and Gloucs are trying these, Brent has taken different approach but extending weekend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: