10 things you need to know about library closures/campaigns

There’s an awful lot of information floating around about library campaigns and closures, and we know not everyone has the time to get to grips with it all!  Here’s our quick intro to the current UK public library situation – in a 2 minute and a 10 minute version, to suit busy lifestyles.

We also have both available to download as flyers:  VftL 2 min guide,  VftL 10 min guide

The 2 minute guide to library campaigns:

1. Over 10 % of UK Public Libraries are under threat

2. Councils have a legal obligation to provide libraries – and they aren’t allowed to charge for book loans

3. If you’re worried about libraries in your area, contact your councillor and MP

4. You could also set up a campaign or a ‘friends of’ group – Facebook or a blog is a great way to do this

5. Want to know more? See http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk

The 10 minute guide to library campaigns:

1.  Over 10 % of UK libraries are currently under threat – over 500 out of a total UK public library provision of just over 4500

2.  Library closures and cutbacks are determined by the local authority, but may be influenced by spending/funding restrictions imposed on them by central government.

3.  The duty of a local council to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service” is a legal obligation under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. The Act also prohibits charging for book loans.

4.  Some councils are suggesting that library services can be run by volunteers. This takes no account of the professional and ethical standards to which professional librarians must adhere, including data protection.

5.  Contact your local councillor if your library service is under threat, to show your support and let them know about why libraries are important. Many councillors don’t know about what libraries do and why they’re vital services.You can also write to your MP.

6. If you need more information about libraries in your area, a Freedom of Information request can get you real data and statistics.  You can find out more about FoI and make requests here: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/

7.  Many library supporters are forming local groups to protest cutbacks and closures. These often use Facebook or other social media as a central point for their campaign. See Save Doncaster Libraries and Save Somerset Libraries for examples.

8.  If you would like to start a petition, check your local council’s regulations about how many signatures are needed for the petition to be discussed in Council and other requirements for the petition to be valid. Councils are now also required by law to provide an online petition function; check the council website for details. A read-in can be an effective, peaceful protest. See here for information about how to set one up

9.  Your local librarians may be prohibited by the council from campaigning themselves – don’t expect them to be able to start a campaign group. Also, because libraries are council property, they are not allowed to house a petition about council-related issues. You are allowed to petition outside libraries though!

10. Spread the word! The more people who know about proposed library cuts, the more chance we have of a fair, balanced review of provision. Good places to campaign are supermarkets, sports venues, community centres, and often schools are keen to help.

11 thoughts on “10 things you need to know about library closures/campaigns

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  3. Mr Hasan Abdulla

    This is to express my full support for such campaigns as yours. A library is an ideal place to read, and access research material. It is very important to keep as many libraries open for as long as possible and for as many hours as the staff are able to work.
    I look forward to helping your campaign achieve its ends.

    Reply
  4. Kate

    Greenock Central Library is closing. They are using the euphemism that it’s being moved but it’s closing. A purpose built library, really magnificent example of sixties architecture is being stripped of its books so the council can use it for offices. The new “library” is an old mini-supermarket shop. This is a scandalous piece of robbery of public assets by short-sighted councilors. The usual canard about accessibility has been trotted out. Yet the ground floor was already completely accessible and the upper floor could easily have been made so.

    An article here;

    http://inverclydenow.com/news/local/6365-library-move-for-social-care-and-health-staff

    Reply
  5. Blair Kesseler

    Worth pointing out where there is good management too. Birmingha, though cutting some opening hours, has managed not to close any libraries in the city. So it can be done.

    Reply
  6. Heather

    We suddenly were told that a number of libraries in Lincolnshire were closing. We have found our local library Birchwood, on the list. This serves a suburb of Lincoln about the size of a market town, as well as many thousands of houses, there are two council estates, several retirement homes, a number of schools, include 2 for special needs and a large industrial estate. The Library is in the centre of the community and there is always a number of people there whenever we drop in. You often find groups of children, – this library has groups for all ages from babies to seniors. Late afternoon is is filled by schoolchildren doing their homework on the computers. It is an IT and WiFi centre. There is a flourishing Readers Group amongst other groups. Rooms can be hired. And it has the only public toilet (with baby changer) in the centre of Birchwood. Closing this library in a new building in the centre of the community is appalling. And some have discovered that there are plans to sell the buildings and land.

    Reply
  7. Sue Smith

    We are currently campaigning to stop a sculpture centre taking over nearly 2/3 of our library. If it goes ahead it will take over the reference area and the central lending area. BMBC are stating that no services will be lost…people are questioning this…How will they fit everything into the remaining library? The sculpture centre is estimated to cost £75,000 (£27,000 Arts Council funding). We have no problems with sculptures just not at the expense of our library! It feels as though the council are removing the inclusive library spirit and replacing it with something exclusive. Our library space is being gambled away on the anticipation of visitor pounds. People are angry, sad and insulted.

    Thanks to you guys, people like us have a voice. It’s good to know that there are others who share the outrage at what is happening to our libraries. Thank you.

    -Sue Smith

    Online petition:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/say-no-to-the-installation-of-a-sculpture-centre-in-bury-central-library

    Reply
  8. KarenMachin

    Staffordshire are in the middle of 12 week consultation over library cuts. They are pushing (very strongly) the idea of volunteer/community run libraries. I would be interested to hear what others have to say about this. I think they have got this system in Warwickshire.

    Reply
    1. Voices team

      Thank you for your comment Karen. As you can see from the link on Public Libraries News http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/about-public-libraries-news/list-of-uk-volunteer-run-libraries many library services throughout the country have been pushing the idea of volunteer run libraries too. Some libraries are handed-over wholesale to volunteers without support and others still have links to the library service. As we have highlighted previously on this site and in our responses to Government consultations on public libraries we believe that this will effectively create a two-tier public library system that isn’t sustainable.

      Reply

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