Live updates

Are libraries under threat in the North East?

More libraries across the region could be under threat as local authorities try to make cost savings.

Campaigners trying to save them say Government cuts mean less money is being spent on them.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said: "We know libraries remain important to people - that's why councils will have almost £200 billion to spend on local services, including libraries, over the lifetime of this parliament".

Writer Ann Cleeves has said, the hit-TV series Vera would never have been created without libraries.

Watch Helen Pearson's special report for National Libraries Day:


Region's libraries fare better than most

Credit: Jens Kalaene/DPA/Press Association Images

No libraries in the North East have closed in the last 12 months, according to new figures from the Press Association. The region is the only one in the country where there have been no closures.

At the bottom of the table was Wales, where 11% of libraries closed, representing a fall from 308 to 274 functioning libraries.

However expenditure on the North East's libraries was down by a fairly steep 7.2% - from £47 million to £43 million. The only region where expenditure fell more dramatically was in Yorkshire and the Humber, which had a 7.6% drop.

But visitor numbers remained strong, only experiencing a 2.% fall, compared with 10.9% in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Poetry to mark National Libraries Day

National Libraries Day. Credit: Press Association

Libraries in Newcastle are taking part in National Libraries Day today (8 February) which is an annual event dedicated to celebrating libraries and librarians.

Since last April, Newcastle Libraries have dealt with more than half a million enquiries and have loaned nearly 700,000 items.

Library staff are marking National Libraries Day by organising coffee mornings, children's crafts and book displays.

At City Library there will be a day-long celebration which starts at 10.00am with the county final of the Poetry by Heart competition.

Children from local schools will take to the stage to recite a selection of poems that they have learnt by heart.

The winner will be judged by a panel with representatives from local universities and the publishing industry.

Research finds country's libraries are being neglected

Are our public libraries being forgotten? Despite well documented protests over library closures, new research reveals that we are still not visiting our libraries.

New research showing that 60% of us never use our local library these days. The study by Bookmark Your Library found that:

  • Almost half of those surveyed state that libraries aren't needed as much as they were a decade ago due to technological advances
  • Almost three quarters of us have been to our local library at some point in our lives, but on average the last time we visited our local library was 17 months ago.

In years gone by, the local library was much loved by all generations from children and students to parents and grandparents, but now it seems the biggest driving force is being a parent:

  • 14% saying they last visited their library to encourage their child into reading
  • 8% went to help a child with a school project

And despite libraries across the country having to change with the times and offer new services, these changes appear to be unknown to a large proportion of us - including reading groups, genealogy services and music rental.

When asked how people would feel if their local library shut down...

  • One in five admitted they would be very disappointed
  • One in ten said it would be a loss to the local community


Campaign to save Newcastle library

People gathered outside of the Moorside Library in Newcastle in the hope that councillors would find a way to keep it open. The library is under threat because of council cuts. A final decision will be made at a cabinet meeting on 25th February.

Protestors against the closure of Moorside Library Credit: ITV
Making a stand, Moorside Library Credit: ITV
Campaigners are hoping councillors will keep the library open Credit: ITV

Library closures are "catastrophic"

Culture Secretary Maria Miller should step in to prevent the "cultural catastrophe" being caused by library closures in areas including Liverpool and Newcastle, author and broadcaster Baroness Bakewell has said.

"The bad news is coming in torrents: 326 libraries are under threat, closed or have left council control since April of last year."

Newcastle is planning to close 10 of 18, Liverpool 10 of 19."

– Baroness Bakewell

The Labour peer urged the Government to take action to stop local authorities cutting down on their library provision.

Lord Gardiner said he took the points "very seriously indeed" and said local authorities had a legal duty to provide a "comprehensive and efficient library service".

"Given the disproportionately heavy cuts to local authority funding in the north of England when will the secretary of state use her considerable reserve powers to stop this cultural catastrophe?"

– Baroness Bakewell

He said in 2011-12 authorities had invested £820 million in their libraries and the closure of a library did not necessarily signify a breach of the legal duty.

"It is important that local authorities reflect on what is the local need," he said.

  1. Lucy Taylor

Lee Hall calls for "direct action" to save Newcastle libraries

He made his name through his writing, as the creator of Billy Elliot, but Lee Hall indicated he is ready to move from words to actions to save ten Newcastle libraries earmarked for closure.

The playwright had people on their feet at a campaign meeting when he called for protesters to occupy libraries.

However, the council says it simply cannot afford to keep the libraries going, because of budget cuts.

Meanwhile in Middlesbrough, councillors discussed whether they can afford to freeze council tax. The mayor Ray Mallon opposes the proposal, saying it would leave a black hole in the council's finances.