Speak Up For Libraries Conference – 14th Nov 2015

The fifth national conference for public library users, workers and campaigners – organised by a network of campaigners and national organisations: Campaign for the Book (Alan Gibbons), CILIP,  The Library Campaign, Unison and Voices for the Library.

Deep and damaging cuts have already been made, But there are signs that people are starting to realise what public service cuts really mean. The political scene is getting a shake-up. Campaigners are as determined as ever. And finally, there’s a national agency tasked with getting action for libraries. Here’s campaigners’ chance to meet the people in charge of it – and lots of other key people!

The key session is the first-ever national campaigners’ dialogue with the top people in the
Libraries Taskforce – Paul Blantern, Chair, and Kathy Settle, Chief Executive.

The Taskforce is the new agency charged with bringing real improvement – and funds – into
libraries. By November, it will have published its first report. So it’s time to tell Paul and
Kathy what campaigners think – and want them to do.

Also talking to a national meeting of campaigners for the first time – Nick Poole, new
broom Chief Executive of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals).

PLUS: Alan Gibbons, outspoken author, education consultant and Campaign for the Book.

PLUS: John Dougherty, author, library advocate, poet and writer of songs (including the classic ‘What’s wrong with Ed Vaizey?’) – complete with guitar.

Places are limited – advance booking is essential. Places allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis, on receipt of payment. Cost: £20 EARLY BIRD (unchanged since last year) including tea & coffee breaks and a pretty good sandwich lunch. £25 AFTER 9 OCTOBER.

Full details & online booking form: www.speakupforlibraries.org

FOLLOW Speak Up For Libraries:
www.twitter.com/SpeakUp4Libs#SUFLconf15
www.facebook.com/SpeakUpForLibraries

The Library Campaign is hosting a get-together, straight after the
conference ends, for those who want to network further.

As always, the day is planned so that you can meet, network and share your ideas, before moving into a face-to-face dialogue with some of the people best-placed to get action for libraries.

Speak Up For Libraries

Barnet Children’s March for Libraries – Sept 12th

A children’s march for libraries will be taking place on 12th September in Barnet. Everyone is welcome, especially children, parents and grand parents. Even if you’re not based in Barnet come along.

The march will start at East Finchley Library at 10:15am, then onto Church End Library, and will finish at 12:30 at North Finchley Library.

Paint a poster!

Make a placard!

Come in fancy dress!

Further information about the event can be found here.

Kids4Libraries

Samuel West – “I’ve always loved libraries”

Image c/o Garry Knight on Flickr (cc-by)

I’ve always loved libraries, since I was an avid child reader – see this. Now we have a daughter and consequently space is at a premium I value my local for two new reasons:

1) When I’m preparing for a role or a production I can work there in complete silence, among others doing the same (ours has a reference section with a quiet room).

2) Our daughter is getting through picture books at an incredible rate. We couldn’t possibly afford to buy or have room to shelve new ones as fast as she wants them; borrowing them lets us try lots out (and then perhaps buy a few favourites to keep). Plus the libraries’ range of picture books is chosen by people who know their stuff, so we know we’re starting with a great selection.

Samuel West
Actor and director

Your thoughts wanted about volunteer-led libraries

A few years ago, public libraries run by volunteers were almost unheard of. But more and more local authorities are turning to the idea. And more and more local people are taking them on as the only way to ‘save’ them.

Speak Up For Libraries (a coalition of organisations and campaigners, including Voices for the Library) wants to hear from anyone with a view about these volunteer-led libraries in the UK, whether they are a volunteer, a library worker or a library user.

Let us know, via SpeakUp4Libraries@gmail.com :

  • What works well and what doesn’t?
  • What are the challenges and considerations?
  • What is the impact on the library service and what do you see as the future?

The information will be used to inform SUFL’s advocacy.  A summary of the evidence will be published.  All information received will be anonymised unless specific permission has been given to identify the contributor and the names of library or library service.

Please email queries, comments and information to SpeakUp4Libraries@gmail.com

(Originally posted on the Speak Up For Libraries site)

Judicial Review challenge of DCMS – evidence needed

The following request for information and evidence to support a legal challenge against the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) has been sent to us by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL). If you can help this legal challenge please contact PIL. Their contact details appear at the foot of this blog post.

 

Judicial Review challenge of Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s failure to investigate Sheffield library closures.

What we’re doing

Public Interest Lawyers are acting on behalf of a client who lives in Sheffield, and is supported by Broomhill Library Action Group (‘BLAG’).

We are challenging the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (‘DCMS’) and their failure to conduct an inquiry into the changes of library services in Sheffield.

We have sought permission to make an application for judicial review. This is the first step of a judicial review claim, in which we have to show that we have an arguable case against the Secretary of State. If we are granted permission (which is not guaranteed) the matter will be heard at a full hearing in the High Court.

Why?

As you will be aware library provision has changed dramatically across the country over recent years, with many Local Authorities making cuts to jobs and services. Some libraries have been shut and in others volunteers are expected to bridge the gaps.

The DCMS has a responsibility to oversee library provision across the country, and to ensure that Local Authorities satisfy statutory provision requirements.

We are aware of at least seven library campaigns who have asked the DCMS to hold an inquiry into the changes. Each of those requests have been refused. Indeed the Secretary of State has not conducted an inquiry since 2009 in the Wirral.

At this stage it would appear that the DCMS is either:-

1. Not considering requests for inquiries properly or at all, or

2. Has a ’blanket policy’ which has lead it to refusing to conduct inquiries, or

3. It is not fulfilling the duty to superintend library provision

What can you do?

We would like to hear from individuals or campaign groups who have contacted the DCMS, asking for them to consider an inquiry into local library services.

Did you request an inquiry but receive no response? If you received a response what did it say?

This information will assist us in building up the bigger picture of the DCMS and their apparent refusal to engage in any inquiries into local library provision changes.

Please contact Emily or Paul if you think that you could help:

Emily.mcfadden@publicinterestlawyers.co.uk or Paul.Heron@PublicInterestLawyers.co.uk

or 0207 404 5889.

Statement on Manchester City Council

Voices for the Library are appalled by reports that Manchester City Council have banned homeless people from using the city’s main public library. This move by the Council is contrary to everything a public library service stands for and undermines much of the good work library services do in making libraries inclusive places where all are welcome to access information without fear of discrimination.

According to one witness, as reported by The Guardian:

“G4S, acting on the instructions of Manchester city council, are denying access to the public library based on their profiling of homeless people. This type of exclusion is a breach of human rights and is discrimination against vulnerable members of our society.”

If true, and we have no cause to believe that it is not, this is a very disturbing and destructive move by the Council and we urge them to end this vicious and discriminatory ban.

Public libraries offer a service to everyone, without discrimination. This is a fundamental principle of a public library service. Manchester’s abandonment of this principle is a shocking betrayal of this principle. We urge Manchester City Council to not only rescind its ban on the homeless, but to work with them and repair the untold damage this move has caused.

This is not what public libraries are about. Manchester City Council should be ashamed.

General Election 2015 – Vote Libraries!

We all know how badly our libraries have been hit over the past five years, the extent to which cuts from central government have hurt our public library service. This election is vital on so many levels and, of course, it provides an opportunity to hold our elected politicians to account for their actions over the course of the last parliament.

Candidates will be going door-to-door over the next few weeks and we think the cuts to public libraries should be one of the issues that canvassers are confronted with on the door step. It is for this reason that we have created two posters for you to post in your windows to highlight the importance of public libraries both to the politicians out canvassing for your vote and to your friends and neighbours.

If you do speak to someone asking you to vote for them, why not refer to our manifesto (created as a result of conversation with all of our followers), or explain to them what librarians do and why they shouldn’t be replaced with volunteers or quote one of our stories to them (or tell them one of your own). The general election provides a unique and rare opportunity to speak face-to-face with politicians desperate for our vote, let’s not waste the opportunity to speak up for libraries!

You can download the posters below by clicking on the images (why not download and print them in your local public library!?).

Photo 15-04-2015 23 38 49 Photo 15-04-2015 23 37 21

(Both files are PDF 163kb)

Many thanks to the Open Rights Group for letting us steal their idea! Find out more about their campaign here.

2015 General Election Manifesto – Speak Up For Libraries

The Speak up for Libraries alliance (which includes Voices for the Library) has updated its election manifesto in time for the 2015 General Election. It is urging people everywhere to make public libraries a central issue in the General Election and local elections.

Already, many library services are threatened by, or already experiencing, deep cuts, widespread closures of vital local branches – or the damaging policy of turning them over to volunteers to run.

This is a once-in-five-years chance to make sure central government understands that libraries are a low-cost, essential resource for the work of local councils, and for national agendas such as ‘Digital by Default’ – and deeply valued by local residents and the nation as a whole.

Speak up for Libraries believes that libraries, far from being obsolete, are more important than ever. That is why we are asking the government to make a public commitment to their survival and development.

Speak up for Libraries is asking MPs to sign up to the following manifesto when standing for election:

  • Give libraries a long-term future, with a vision for their future development and clear standards of service.

  • Enforce the commitment in law for local authorities to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service. This commitment should also include digital, ICT and e-book services.

  • Acknowledge that libraries are important to individuals and communities – especially in times of hardship.

  • Enforce the duty that local authorities have to properly consult with communities to design services that meet their needs and aspirations.

  • Ensure that local authorities receive sufficient funding in order to deliver properly resourced and staffed library services.

  • Recognise that properly resourced library services contribute to the health and well-being of local communities and of society as  a whole and therefore complement the work of other public services and of national government agendas.

SUFL colour banner PNG

 

Full details of the election manifesto, including downloadable copies, can be found on the Speak Up For Libraries site.

Francis Bennion dies

The Voices for the Library team were saddened to hear of the passing of Francis Bennion on 28th January 2015. He drafted the bill that led to the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, which makes the provision of public libraries statutory in the UK, and is an Act to which many campaigners are holding their local authorities to account during this period of extreme public spending cuts. He was a supporter of Voices for the Library and kindly wrote this article describing the intent behind the provisions of the Act, and expressing his belief that the way in which local authorities and national
government are neglecting their statutory duties. He also wrote this letter expressing his concerns about the legality of public library cuts.

We are very grateful for the work Mr. Bennion put into the Act and his support for public libraries.

Send a letter to your local MP

Image c/o Sarah Price on Flickr.

We’ve often been asked if we have a template letter that people can send to their local MP, or if we can point to somewhere that does. With the general election coming up and the likely outcome being further cuts to public services (with libraries undoubtedly bearing the brunt of the cuts once more), we thought it was about time we put a template letter on the site that you can use.

The letter is designed to be sent to MPs and whilst they are not directly accountable for libraries within their constituencies, we think it is important that pressure is applied to central government as both the lack of will to intervene in library closures and the likely cuts to the local government grant in the next parliament will push the library service to breaking point. Without government intervention or a reversal of the cuts programme, we could be left with a threadbare, inefficient and sub-standard public library service that is not fit for purpose.

Template letters work best if they are personalised. If you can add in details about your local situation, then do so. The impact will be greater if it is personalised rather than sent as a generic letter/email.

You can view and download a copy of the template on this page. It’s also worth looking at this in conjunction with our manifesto, which is available here.