“Down to a t”: the new confusing world of public libraries

Editorial

Things are getting complicated in libraryland. It used to be that councils ran libraries, kept them running – or not – and that was it. Now, all sorts of different organisations run libraries and we’ve had our first case last week of one non-council library organisation (GLL) coming in to keep open three Lincolnshire libraries that another non-council library organisation (now defunct charity “Learning Communities”) no linger could. It used to be that councils funded events or programmes, or not. Now we have a libraries mutual, York Explore, seeking to crowdfund the Summer Reading Challenge, the first such attempt at this I’ve seen. And then we have GLL – that name again – settling a strike with library workers in Bromley, without any council involvement. The reason for all this is, of course, money (or the council’s lack of it), a fact which means that it’s likely Hertfordshire will be going that way soon too. And, confusingly, for us typers, Herefordshire too. Which allows me to make the puny observation that trusts now suit some councils down to a “t”.

And then we have volunteer libraries. Read the post below from the “Community Managed Libraries Conference” to get the state of play there and draw your own conclusions, not least from the recorded speech of the libraries minister (embedded).

Changes

National news

  • Changing Landscape: A report from the Community Managed Libraries Conference – Community Libraries Network. “On 20th March 2018 the Community Managed Libraries Peer Network held it’s first national conference, themed Changing Landscape: Building Our Capacity. Hosted in Sheffield Central Library it was an opportunity for community managed libraries (CMLs) from around the country to get together, share learning and ideas and forge new relationships through which they can support each other going forward. This blog post has been written by Leigh Ogden from Upper Norwood Library Trust in London and reflects her thoughts and experiences from the day.” … “there was a wide range of ideas including what training and development opportunities people want, additional resources people would like access to (such as a CML toolkit and stock management & library management advice), the idea of creating regional networks, working together on joint funding bids and creating stock buying power through shared book buying. ”
  • The Common Room – getting back to the roots of public libraries – CILIP / Nick Poole. “Our prison, school and public libraries and the librarians and library workers that run them are that room. That common room of our nations and regions and communities. They are the common room at the heart of the school. They are the ‘other place’ – the common room at the heart of the prison that makes you feel like a whole person again. They are that trusted place of comfort and community and learning and discovery.”
  • Engagement with scholarly work as professional development Andrew Preater. “Why read books, book chapters, journal articles, and other scholarly work as part of your professional development? As a manager, why support and enable colleagues to do so? In this post I discuss some challenges for library managers and leaders in supporting deeper engagement with scholarly work, and some issues in the library profession more broadly with engagement with everything we term “theory””

“Within our professional discourse it is disturbing to see disparaging, if low-level, comments about reading for professional development. This can come across as a lingering wish for gatekeeping and controlling access to knowledge.”

  • Leader: Britain’s public realm is in unmistakable decay after years of unending cuts – New Statesman. “… Nearly 1,000 Sure Start children’s centres and 478 libraries are estimated to have closed since 2010 …”
  • Local election candidates urged to champion libraries – BookSeller. “Library and information association CILIP is encouraging candidates to champion libraries ahead of the local elections taking place in England this May. In his letter to candidates, CILIP president Ayub Khan emphasised the communal nature of libraries, as well as the range of facilities they offer.”
  • Local elections 2018: Decision time on local services – LocalGov. “Labour is highlighting the effects of cuts on schools, libraries and social services, while the Conservatives stress the need to provide value for money and keep council taxes down.” … “The Government’s austerity strategy and cuts in services took centre stage: schools, hospitals, policing, libraries and youth centres had faced budget reductions or closures under the Tories, he [Jeremy Corbyn] said, while tax breaks were handed out to companies and high earners.”
  • School library fund ‘not enough’ to cover cuts – Herald Scotland. “The Scottish Library Improvement Fund (SLIF), which offers a total fund of £1 million over three years, was launched in September 2017 to support school library projects as part of a wider approach to improving literacy and educational attainment. “

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Eire – Fines for late return of library books set to be abolished – Irish Independent. “The strategy was discussed at some length by Cabinet yesterday in an attempt to encourage more people to take up library membership. It’s understood that some ministers were of the view that the fines were “putting people off” joining libraries. Community Development minister Michael Ring sought approval for the plan to cover the years up to 2022 at Cabinet yesterday. The strategy aims to increase library membership and use by improving access and awareness of the services they provide and to reinforce the local library as “a trusted place in the community”.”
  • Global – 10 promotional channels to attract more users to libraries – Princh. Website content, blogging, search engine optimisation, Facebook, Instagram/Twitter, streaming videos, YouTube, podcasts, newsletters/emails, messaging apps.
  • Global – Connecting with Readers through Email – Ebsco Novelist. A report on a US experiment to boost library usage via email campaigns. Looks at how to do it and results.
  • Global – IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year – IFLA. $5000 prize. “The “Public Library of the Year” award is administered by IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) to celebrate new public libraries. The award is presented to a library anywhere in the world that best combines open, functional architecture with creative IT solutions and also takes into account both digital developments and local culture. To qualify, the library must be newly built or housed in buildings not previously used as a library. This means that it must have been completed between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017.”. Deadline 15th May.
  • Netherlands – Church in the Netherlands converted into transformer library: books by day, party room by night – Tree Hugger. “a multifunctional center containing a library and a museum but also a bar and shops.” … “The bookshelves are placed on a rail system so they can be moved to the aisles of the church. In this setting the church can be used for large events several times a year. “
  • USA – 5 of the Coolest Children’s Libraries in the U.S. – Brightly. “The librarians integrate activities and books in a cohesive way. For example, on any given day in the middle childhood neighborhood (ages 6 – 10), you might find books on weather and clouds with a STEM activity to make a cloud in a jar.” … “Children ages two- to five-years-old can choose Preschool Palooza STEM Storytime which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts.”
  • USA – Book vending machines installed across US by French publisher – Independent. “Short Edition, a French community publisher of short-form literature, has installed more than 30 story dispensers in the United States in the past year to deliver fiction at the push of a button at restaurants and universities, government offices and transportation hubs” … “it is shaped like a cylinder with three buttons on top indicating a one minute, three minute or five minute story. (That’s how long it takes to read). When a button is pushed, a short story is printed, unfurled on a long strip of paper.”

Local news by authority

  • Bexley – Sidcup library: Plans to move are ‘mystifying’ users – News Shopper. “An action group said users have been “mystified” over plans to relocate Sidcup Library to the old Blockbuster site. At a council meeting on Wednesday, Noel Lake, spokesman for Sidcup Library Action Group, questioned the plan to move the borough’s second busiest library to a busy junction on the high street. Bexley Council is considering moving the facility to be co-located with a new cinema in the empty Blockbuster unit, leaving the library site free to be developed”
  • Bristol – Fears Government-funded report into library cuts will be ‘buried’ by Bristol City Council – Bristol Post. “The ongoing battle in to the future of Bristol’s library service has taken another twist, with one councillor claiming the authority is trying to ‘bury’ a government-funded report. Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, announced in November the council had won funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to further assess the future of Bristol’s library service.” … “The report was due back in mid-April, but it appears the document will not be made available to the public or the majority of councillors. Furthermore the council has now said the assessment will “not have any direct affect” on the final decision over the future of the library service, leaving some to question whether the report made some unpalatable recommendations.”” see also ‘Bristol’s libraries are under serious threat and need our support’ – B24/7 and University of Bristol students ‘fighting over library seats’ as deadlines and exams loom – Bristol Live. University tweets “Seating in the library is at a premium at the moment – this is why there is currently no access for external visitors.”

“Union members agree to halt strike action and return to work. GLL and Unite announce that, following further talks, they have reached an agreement on pay and facility time for Bromley Libraries staff. GLL has also committed to filling a number of vacant posts as quickly as possible. The pay deal is as follows: an increase of 2% to basic salaries or the London Living Wage, whichever is greater. In addition, as a goodwill measure and in recognition of the uncertainties arising from the transfer from council control, GLL has agreed to make consolidated increases ranging from £200 to £325 to the lower salary points. Agreement was conditional to Unite agreeing that there will be no further changes to scale points, or other payments to mirror future changes to national or Bromley Council spine points or pay bands.” Bromley – Agreement reached between GLL and Unite regarding Bromley Libraries staff (joint GLL/Unite statement, received via email.

  • Bromley – Bromley libraries – indefinite strike action continues – Socialist Party. “this strike breaking operation cannot last – GLL simply does not have the resources to maintain it. Talks have taken place with the employer and some progress has been made – but pay is a major stumbling block. The sheer determination of the strikers and the serious nature of the dispute, as shown by the fact that the union has gone for indefinite strike action is a clear indication that this very important dispute can be won.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Review of Mobile Library services (Decision to be taken) – Buckinghamshire Council. “Agree to the discontinuation of the service on June 1st 2018 and the removal of all three vehicles to save £113,000 in Year 1 and £180,000 each year thereafter”
  • Cardiff – The mysterious case of a new Crime & Coffee Festival – Wales 247.Cardiff Central Library Hub, in partnership with Welsh crime writers collective, Crime Cymru, will host a two-day Crime and Coffee Festival on Friday June 1 and Saturday, June 2, featuring award-winning authors and some of the biggest names in the genre”
  • Cornwall – £500k plans for library Cornish Times. “Plans costing £500,000 to turn Liskeard Library into an ‘iconic cultural hub’ have been revealed. Advice is being sought for a scheme that could ‘breathe new life’ into the building in the town centre. Under the proposals, control of the building would be devolved from Cornwall Council to the Plymouth-based community interest company Real Ideas Organisation, which is behind the scheme”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Upper Norwood Library ‘hub’ applies for a booze licence – Inside Croydon.Upper Norwood Library, on Westow Hill, has submitted an application for a licence to serve alcohol, largely with a view to begin to stage events, comedy nights and concerts in its upstairs space, particularly around the Crystal Palace Festival this June.” … “The trustees have already added the superfluous word ‘hub’ at the end of the library sign outside,” one unimpressed library user said today. “Maybe they can do a paint job on the ‘H’ and turn it into a ‘P’?”” … ““The building has to pay for itself, so now it’s important they drive income into the building to support the library offer on ground floor.”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Library where you can borrow ukuleles and cake tins opening in Crystal Palace this weekend – Croydon Advertiser. “The long-awaited library, which will lend everything from screwdrivers to musical instruments, will open on Saturday (April 21) at Upper Norwood Library, on Westow Hill. A community group are opening the Library of Things in the existing library, with an aim of giving those who can’t afford to buy – or space to store – the chance to borrow expensive equipment like pressure washers, speakers or drills, when needed.”
  • Denbighshire – St Asaph Library opens new chapter – Free Press. “Improvements include a large entrance foyer which will feature a tourism information point, new improved windows throughout the building, Wi-Fi, a community refreshment area, an additional meeting room, a self-service payment facility, an improved public access computer area, and improved signage. “
  • East Sussex – Community comes together in bid to save Langney Library – Eastbourne Herald. “People are looking to take over the Langney Library site for a facility run entirely by volunteers and funded by the community. The group is led by county councillor for the area, Alan Shuttleworth and is supported by the Langney Shopping Centre. “
  • Hampshire – Town centre had well-used libraries, starting in 1740 – Petersfield Post. “According to a blue plaque put up at 19 High Street by Petersfield Area Historical Society, the building which now houses Ask restaurant was the home to the town’s first library in 1740″
  • Herefordshire – Proposals to outsource libraries in Herefordshire – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “As far as I can see the council is looking to cut £65k in the current financial year from the Libraries budget so from these figures and the fact that the council has been pushing the community-led model over the last few years it looks as if the decision to privatise libraries will be an ideological and not a fiscal one, which in my experience is more than often the case.” … ““The recent consultation showed that more residents opposed the proposals than supported them, similarly so did a majority of the hard working library staff.” The recommendation will now go to cabinet for approval at the end of April. “
  • Hertfordshire – Hertfordshire’s libraries set to be ‘privatised’ – Hemel Today. “In a vote of the full council, the Conservatives endorsed plans for a ‘Public Service Mutual (PSM) model’, which will make the libraries services independent of the authority. Council bosses say such a scheme has already been introduced successfully in other parts of the country, but critics say it is a “high risk” plan. Council officer Taryn 
Pearson-Rose said: “Our 
ultimate aim is to ensure that the library service continues to deliver quality services and be in the best possible position to thrive into the future.” … ““The council admits it is a high-risk approach, as the financial benefits of over £600,000 per annum will only be achieved if the PSM is awarded charitable status and is able to reclaim 80 per cent of the business rates that the libraries pay” … ““The recent consultation showed that more residents opposed the proposals than supported them, similarly so did a majority of the hard working library staff.” The recommendation will now go to cabinet for approval at the end of April. “
  • Hertfordshire – Proposal for new library at Harpenden primary school – Herts Advertiser. “The new library, if approved by the district council, would be open to both pupils and the public”
  • Lambeth – Oscar-winner Mark Rylance: ‘Elect Green Party councillors in Lambeth to protect libraries and parks’ – Lambeth Green Park. “A strong defender of public libraries and open spaces, in his statement Rylance endorses the three Green Party candidates as champions of local campaigns to reinstate a full service at Carnegie Library and to protect Brockwell Park from commercial exploitation. “
  • Lincolnshire – Community in Burgh-le-Marsh celebrate new library – Skegness Standard. “Formally sharing a building with Sunshine Nursery, the new library has been open to the public for two months so volunteers could settle in before the big day.”
  • Lincolnshire – Three Lincoln libraries will remain open despite operator shutting down – Lincolnite. “Learning Communities runs the Birchwood, Boultham and Ermine libraries and communities hub. The Lincolnite has been informed that the registered charity is planning to stop operating on May 11. Learning Communities has not been available for comment by the time of publication. However, Lincolnshire County Council confirmed that Greenwich Leisure Limited, who operate several libraries across the county, will temporarily assist volunteers at the three facilities.”
  • North Ayrshire – North Ayrshire libraries to stop buying new CDs – Daily Record. “The local authority have attributed the decision to the ‘explosion’ of online music in recent years. North Ayrshire Council say that recent years have proved that major changes to the way we listen to our favourite songs have taken place – from vinyl, to CD, to MP3s and now streaming online.”
  • North Lincolnshire – Residents give their views on new £1.2m library and wellbeing hub in North Lincolnshire – Scunthorpe Telegraph. “Residents got a chance to see plans for a new £1.2m library and wellbeing hub in North Lincolnshire yesterday. North Lincolnshire Council officials say a range of key services will be transformed to create a new library and wellbeing hub for Barton-Upon-Humber residents under one roof.”
  • Northamptonshire – Northamptonshire’s children’s centre services under library cuts – Northampton Chronicle. “The county council voted to cease running 21 libraries in February and has offered to hand them over to community groups. But the move also threatens universal children’s centre services for under-fives such as meetups and play and learn sessions, which are run by the council through libraries.”
  • Northamptonshire – The Libraries Minister’s Local Libraries Could Close. Residents Are Furious – And They’re Suing – Huff Post. “The government’s libraries minister could see the only two places to borrow books in his constituency close down if a “bankrupt” Tory council proceeds with plans to fill a financial black hole.” … in-depth look at the cuts and the campaign against them.
  • Northamptonshire – Revealed: ‘Bankrupt’ Tory Council Raided £9m Schools Subsidy To Fix Budget – Huff Post. “Cash from S106 obligations is often earmarked for new schools, libraries, road, as well as pavements, street furniture and playgrounds. The review states that no payments from S106 money into the revenue account were made in the three years before 2016, though the council said it first raised concerns over gaps in its budget in 2014.” … “Officials have warned adult care services risk being “unsafe” amid the financial turmoil while campaigners slam a “firesale” of council assets, including 21 libraries and its brand-new £53m central Northampton HQ.”
  • North Somerset – Three more libraries under threat of closure as council looks to make essential cuts – Bristol Live. “Three of North Somerset’s library buildings could be under threat of closure thanks to a council bid to save money. North Somerset Council is preparing to consult on plans to close library buildings in Clevedon, Long Ashton and Nailsea.” … “The proposals could see Clevedon and Nailsea libraries relocated to smaller town centre premises, or alternative shared facilities.”
  • North Somerset – Volunteers wanted for Summer Reading Challenge – Weston Mercury. “Help is needed at the For All Healthy Living Centre on Weston’s Bournville estate, The Campus in Locking Castle, and Weston, Worle, Winscombe and Yatton libraries.”
  • North Yorkshire – Authors visit as North’s library campaign celebrates ten yearsNorth Yorkshire County Council. “Read Regional is a celebration of new books from the North of England that connects authors with readers in libraries. Founded by New Writing North in 2008, the campaign is funded by Arts Council England and is now produced in partnership with North Yorkshire and 22 other library authorities.”
  • North Yorkshire – Birthday party at the library – Press. “The Pickering Library Volunteers Support Group (PLVSG) started providing the library with a regular group of volunteers who work in partnership with established council library staff on April 1, 2017. To celebrate the anniversary a celebration will be held on Monday, April 23, from 10am to noon, with refreshments, a birthday cake and entertainment from Musical Memories.”
  • North Yorkshire – Community libraries mark first anniversary – Gazette and Herald. “A year has passed since 22 libraries in North Yorkshire started to be run by volunteers, and a Pickering county councillor has said that they are adapting and surviving.” see also Volunteers celebrate success for Richmond, Colburn and Catterick libraries Northern Echo. “The Queen’s Road library now features a space for Richmond Information Centre and a larger children’s library with a buggy park as well as relaxing seating, tea and coffee-making facilities and free wi-fi access. “
  • North Yorkshire – Readers’ Letters – Craven Herald and Pioneer. Letter from volunteer library. “Most branch libraries suffer a few problems to begin with, and sometimes it takes a little time to raise the standard again. We need to remember however, that volunteers with the aid of training, experience and the support of professional staff and indeed, their library users, will in time develop a body of expertise suited to the developing circumstances in which they are working and which they in turn, will pass on to the next generation of volunteers.”
  • Northern Ireland – Library cuts set to hit ‘most vulnerable’ in Northern Ireland – Belfast Telegraph. “Universal Credit is being introduced in Northern Ireland to replace six means-tested benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit. A recent board meeting heard that an increasing number of people who are trying to get Universal Credit, are turning to libraries because they don’t have internet access at home. It also emerged that extra staff have been redeployed to libraries to ease pressure on services. The board heard those staff will only be deployed for a short period of time.” … “It can take an hour to help someone claiming Universal Credit,” councillor McGuigan added. Library staff aren’t permitted to fill in any part of the forms, they are only allowed to assist claimants who lack the computer skills to do so. ” see also ‘Library cuts to hit benefit claimants’ – BBC. “Libraries are uniquely placed to provide this kind of help but with a further cut of 4% to Libraries NI’s budget these types of programmes are coming under further strain.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Councillor defends plan to cut services in Pembroke – Western Telegraph.Councillor has defended plans to close or merge services in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock, including the library and Tourist Information Centre (TIC). In an effort to reduce costs, the county council is trying to reduce the number of buildings that it operates from.”
  • Plymouth – New plans revealed for St Budeaux library – Plymouth Herald. “The council is working in partnership with a developer to transform the half-acre site of the old library on St Budeaux Square and an application has now been submitted to city planners.
    As well as providing a light and airy library with a flexible space, the development will include 24 new homes, including four properties that are being designed to be wheelchair accessible.”
  • Somerset – Councillors vote to try to prevent Highbridge Library from closing Weston Mercury. “Campaigners from Save Highbridge Library spoke at a town council meeting to voice their concerns over the proposed closure of the building, in Market Street, by Somerset County Council.”
  • Somerset – ‘Make your voices heard’ – Mayor on Wellington library – Wellington Weekly News. “The Friends have offered to look into the possibility of acting as volunteers alongside trained library staff. “It has also been suggested that rooms in the building be let commercially to raise income and on a more positive note it has been said that more should be done to promote the library and the facilities available within it.”
  • Trafford – A new chapter for writers Messenger. “The Write Time, Write Place project is an eight-week adult long creative writing courses for beginners taking place in libraries from April to June. “
  • Warrington – Library gets busier as Friends’ group moves forward – Warrington Worldwide. “The Friends of Culcheth Library group is moving forward with plans to support the library – and Culcheth and Glazebury Parish Council is to move its office into the building, providing the library with additional income. Friends’ secretary Cllr Joan Grime said: “We plan to revitalise the library as a focus for our community, seeing a wider range of uses, increased footfall and increased income.””
  • West Dunbartonshire – Libraries offer free computer training courses – Clydebank Post. “The Quest Spring Programme will kick off on Monday, April 23, and are suitable for beginners using PCs, laptops, iPads, smart phones and android tablets. “
  • Wirral – Would you live in a former police station? Two are up for sale in Wirral – Liverpool Echo. “”Most importantly, all of the local stations are closed to the public. Local people gave me their backing to replace them with modern, fit-for-purpose community police stations in already established libraries and community centres. The sale of the old buildings will help to pay for the new ones.”
  • Wrexham – Chirk Library has something for everyone Border Counties Advertiser. “The event included fun for all ages, including face painting, a treasure hunt, make and take children’s craft, story time and much more. Chirk Library celebrity Russ the Bear even made an appearance. “
  • York – Children’s reading challenge this summer Spacehive. York Explore crowdfunds its SRC. “People backing us are invited to come to our Summer Reading Challenge launch event in July or to our Celebration event in October. You will get a chance to try some of our activities, meet the staff delivering the challenge and see what is involved for yourself.” £546 (5%) raised so far.
  • York – Libraries mark World Book Night – York Press. “In York the city’s libraries are encouraging book lovers to help share their love of reading. People are asked to give a copy of their own favourite books to Bookcase For All to pass on to a homeless or vulnerable person

It’s almost local election time … plus libraries and privacy

Editorial

It’s good to see libraries starting being mentioned by political parties in the run-up to the local elections. Also good to see is Aude Charillon going on from strength to strength, this time doing workshops on library privacy. I’d say that definitely all librarians, and frankly probably library assistants too, need to have at least a basic awareness of how to keep private online. People will come into the library and ask for time to time and it’s a bit embarrassing if they’re met by blank stares. And, who knows? It could be something that libraries can actually take a lead on. We’re information-based and in most communities, and there’s a need out there – it’s in the news quite a lot – so it’d be great to see.

Changes

Ideas

National news

  • Librarians and Privacy in the Age of Cambridge Analytica Vable. “ Despite the security breaches, storage of personal messages, and targeted advertising, I have not deleted my Facebook account. As a qualified information professional who should know better, this pertinent tweet said it all: ‘I would like to think that I am privacy literate but I am fully aware that I don’t know what I don’t know. #uksg18″
    On Moaners : An Update – Johanna Bo Anderson’s Blog. On CILIP’s social media policy.
  • Overdrive and Bookseller pair up for libraries focus – BookSeller. “The Bookseller, with sponsor Overdrive and partner The Reading Agency (TRA), is launching a Libraries of the Year focus, to highlight the work libraries do to encourage reading, improve literacy and provide access to books” … ” These will form a basis of a report, to be distributed to 4,000 UK libraries, MPs and advisory bodies, on the value libraries play in their communities. Additionally, The Bookseller will hold a discussion with the 10 libraries, with one of them to be named Library of the Year.”
  • Public urge Arts Council England to prepare for the future – Arts Professional. “Key issues raised by respondents included: Ensuring a sustainable livelihood for artists; Protecting and improving arts education; Preparing for more digital interaction with the public; Protecting the wellbeing of the planet; Focusing more funding on research and development; The impact of Brexit on artistic collaboration.”

Taking a stand for privacy: a series of free workshops for public library staff funded by the Carnegie UK Trust and delivered by Aude Charillon (Newcastle Libraries). “If you work in a UK public library – as a library assistant, librarian, library manager or in any other role – this workshop is for you. The aim of the workshop is for public library staff to be informed citizens when it comes to how the Internet works, how it impacts their online privacy and how to protect it – and for them to in turn take a stand to protect citizens’ privacy in libraries”

The aim of the workshops is for all of us to be informed citizens when it comes to how the Internet works, how it impacts on our online privacy and how to protect it – and for us to in turn take a stand to protect citizens’ privacy in public libraries. We’ll cover such things as: what personal information is shared when an individual accesses a website or uses a mobile app; basic digital privacy tools and practices;steps to take to better protect the online privacy of citizens using library services. Dates and booking details: Taunton Library, Thursday 26 April 9:30-13:00.  To book a place please contact the Taunton Library Glass Box on GlassBox@Somerset.gov.uk; Wales: Brecon Library, Wednesday 9 May 10:00-13:30  Book a place via Eventbrite; London: British Library, Thursday 10 May 9:30-13:00 and 13:30-17:00 Book a place for either the morning or the afternoon via this Eventbrite page. [via email]

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Eire – Book could be closed on library fines Times. “The government is considering scrapping late fees in libraries in an effort to get more people to use them. A spokesman for the taoiseach said yesterday that a memo on the issue was brought by Michael Ring, the rural and community development minister, and there was extensive discussion among ministers about the plans. As part of an effort to remove barriers to the access of libraries, the potential abolition of fines for the late return of books is under consideration as part of a new national strategy.”
  • Global – A Roundup of Fierce Fictional Librarians – BookRiot. “We’re celebrating libraries and their champion guardians this week. Therefore, I’ve rounded up some of the coolest librarians in fiction. They fight crime, they possess knowledge that ranges from useful to impressive, and they look good doing it. Did I include your favorite?”
  • Global – Tell us your story: Libraries’ global storytelling manual – Matt Finch / Mechanical Dolphin. “The International Federation of Library Associations, IFLA, has released a new guide designed to help librarians and library advocates to tell compelling stories about library activities, projects and programmes, showing their impact on communities and people’s lives.” … “”IFLA invites librarians and library advocates from all countries to submit their stories through the LMW SDG Stories platform.””
  • USA – Apparently unfamiliar with “libraries”, GOP Gov. candidate Bill Schuette proposes radical idea of “dedicated reading centers” to solve illiteracy crisis in Michigan – Eclectablog. “Mr. Schuette is, apparently, unfamiliar with the concept of the “library” and the staff position of “librarian”. However, his political party — the Republicans — are quite familiar with these concepts. Or at least they should be; they’ve been defunding them for years.”
  • USA – Thirteen Reasons Why tops most challenged books list, amid rising complaints to US libraries – Guardian. “The libraries association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has also begun to record incidents of hate crimes in libraries. There were 23 reported in 2017, it said, ranging from the scrawling of swastikas on library walls to the destruction of Muslim religious texts. “In two cases, one in a public library parking lot and another within a university library, men made death threats to women wearing hijabs,” said the ALA in its annual State of America’s Libraries report, which has just been released.”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Aberdeen libraries challenge residents to read six minutes every day – Evening Express. “The Six Minute Reading Challenge kicks off on World Book Night – Monday April 23 – and runs until the end of May. The library service is challenging people to take part by reading for a minimum of six minutes every day during that period.”
  • Ceredigion – Gavin & Stacey’s Ruth Jones to mark volunteers’ takeover of library – Cambrian Times. “Saturday, 21 April, when renowned actor and author Ruth Jones cuts the ribbon at Llandysul Library to mark the occasion of volunteers running the library in partnership with Ceredigion Library.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Northwich Library offers a relaxing place to read – Northwich Guardian.The Relax and Read group is intended to be a social, informal group to reduce isolation and anxiety through everyone enjoying good stories and poems collectively. “
  • Cornwall – Camelford Library re-opens as a community hub – Camelford and Delabole Post.Camelford Town Council has moved its offices into the library building, ensuring customers can access more local services in one location. At the same time, the management of the library has been handed over to Camelford Town Council as part of Cornwall Council’s devolution programme.”
  • Croydon – What the Labour party in Croydon is promising in its manifesto ahead of the upcoming local elections – Croydon Advertiser. Libraries number 5 in manifesto. “When asked why libraries ranked so highly in the manifesto, he said:”Libraries are vital community hubs. “They are also facilities where a local budget devolved to residents could be introduced so people can have more say in which facilities are on offer at their library.””
  • Cumbria – Town centre library to close and move into nearby archive centre News and Star. “Whitehaven’s library building is to close and the service moved into the nearby archive centre. The county council has revealed its plans which will see the archive centre shut its doors for a year while refurbishment and building works are carried out ready for the transfer. Once the library has moved into its new home, the Lowther Street building will be sold-off to help fund the revamp of the archive centre with any remaining cash being pumped back into the service.”
  • Darlington – Darlington library’s ‘community asset’ status is lost Northern Echo. “A historic library’s status as an ‘asset of community value’ has expired, representing a fresh blow for campaigners battling to save it from closure Currently the subject of a judicial review, Darlington’s Grade II listed Crown Street Library is earmarked for closure as part of a £12.5m programme of swingeing budget cuts. Unless a legal challenge mounted by campaigners is successful, proposals to cut and change library services will result in the much-loved library and community hub closing its doors forever while the majority of its resources are moved to the nearby Dolphin Centre leisure facility.”
  • Derbyshire – Woodville, Melbourne and Etwall libraries among those which could be taken over by community groups Burton Mail. “Controversial plans to transfer three South Derbyshire libraries to community groups to save £1.6 million have been described as “devastating” by a council’s Labour leader. The Conservative-run Derbyshire County Council is set to launch a consultation into the future of its 45 libraries – including Woodville, Melbourne and Etwall.” see also Controversial library plans challenged by Opposition Groups – Labour Party. “They have produced a draft strategy but are now adding other ideas into the mix that aren’t in the original plans at all. The consultation is now completely flawed. How can the public respond when they don’t know exactly what the plans are?”
  • Herefordshire – Fears voiced over libraries’ futureLedbury Reporter. “Questions from members of the public touched upon concerns raised by the potential outsourcing process and the subsequent accountability, before representatives from individual support groups made presentations. ” … “All were sceptical about the risks involved in services being sub contracted with no strong business case being made to support the idea. ” … “Even the bidders refer to the unlikelihood of them being able to run the service without a subsidy,” said Nina Shields, the deputy chair for the Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL). “
  • Kirklees – Labour pledges £45m ‘cultural quarter’ plan for Huddersfield town centre – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “It’s one of the manifesto pledges for Labour ahead of the May 3 local elections. It is expected to include a cultural quarter for Huddersfield town centre, with investment in the library and art gallery, the Piazza and market hall.”
  • North Yorkshire – County council accused of prioritising officers’ pay over services – Richmondshire Today. “Opposition members of the Conservative-led authority have called for a review of top officers pay, saying it was unacceptable that nine officers are paid more than £100k while residents face rising council tax and key services are reduced.” … “Other members said while frontline staff and services such as libraries had gone since the government’s austerity drive forced the council to cut its budget by 34 per cent over a decade, no senior posts at the authority had been cut back and their pay had remained unchanged.”
  • Northamptonshire – Fight to save Northamptonshire libraries taken to High Court after young girl’s plea – Northampton Chronicle. “Specialist lawyers from Irwin Mitchell – who represent the girl, who is their client, and her family – had previously written to Northamptonshire County Council both before and after its final decision was made at the end of February, urging it not to close the libraries, or potentially face a judicial review in the High Court.”
  • Worcestershire – Library recognises autism awareness – Ludlow Advertiser. “To coincide with the day, Worcestershire libraries are celebrating one year of being “Autism Friendly”. It is almost exactly a year since the County’s Libraries and Learning Service has signed up to the Autism Friendly Library standard.”
Yes we can

Northants gets taken to court over library cuts, twice

Editorial

Northamptonshire Council, already becoming a by-word for mismanagement, with the Government expected to bring in Commissioners to run it, is now facing not one but two legal challenges against cuts to its library services. Such challenges can be very hit and miss but Northants has been such a good example of what not to do that I reckon there’s a good chance. Just to drive the point home, the council is now, apparently in all seriousness, aiming to use libraries as advertising spaces to bring in extra money. Whether there be any space left, what with the protest placards, though, is hard to say. As a counterweight to this desperation, it’s important to remember good things are happening elsewhere. For example, I’ve included a few Designing Libraries stories in this post, as I often do. These show refurbishments and new library buildings (although many are co-locations) and the pictures are often a joy to behold. I advise you to have a quick look at one to wash off the disgust if you read one of the Northants articles.

Changes

More >

15:1 ACE General Council plus something taught in library school

Editorial

Congratulations to Ciara Eastell, chief of the Devon libraries (including Torbay) trust Libraries Unlimited who becomes part of the “General Council” of Arts Council England. No, I had never heard of the General Council either – but here’s some info on it. It looks to me that Ciara is the only representative from public libraries out of the sixteen members so I hope more are appointed from the sector soon.

I mentioned the Bromley library strike last post and was accused of pro GLL bias on Twitter for providing info sent to me by GLL as well as the info in the local newspaper and union webpages. I rather hope that it wasn’t anti-union bias – I was a steward myself (although for Unison, not Unite) for years  – but rather pro-information bias, showing all the info available to me at the time. In the same spirit, I include info from both sides below again. As background to this decision, if it is needed, I see PLN as a place for getting all information on public libraries and so think this is appropriate. It is up to the reader to then make up their own mind on what is going on there but I refuse simply to show one side simply because I may agree with it more.  I’m human and so bias will creep in but it’s not something that I deliberately build in (although the “editorial” and other sections where it’s clearly me speaking on my own behalf will be personal). This dedication to facts was something taught to me, I think, in library school.

And if ever we need a clear picture then it’s now, with so much clearly biased info in other sources. Indeed, I think this is something that is a strength of libraries. If you want the answer that ties in with your pre-conceived view, go to the left or right-wing media source of your choice. If you want the facts, one should always go to a library.

Ideas

More >

“A pair of armbands for many in the UK”

Editorial

Derbyshire have announced major cuts, with up to 20 out of 45 libraries, plus two mobiles passed to community groups. The councillor announcing the news managed to keep a straight face on video as he described this as “good news” for Derbyshire, which is impressive. He’ll doubtless go far. There’s also a smattering of other news in the UK, including co-locations and refurbishments. Notably, Cornwall continues its quest to pass a major part of its library service down a tier to town/pass councils. This is apparently working out fairly well, with no apparent problems with worries over double taxation.

There is a also a strike going on in Bromley where library workers are striking for more than the 2% pay increase (really just another in a line of pay cuts to local government stretching back to 2010 as inflation is estimated at around 2.5 to 3%) that is being accepted nationally. The strike is being described by Unite as being against the greed of GLL, which runs Bromley Libraries, although 2% is the standard national rise for councils, and GLL according to its press release agreeing to raise everyone to the London Living Wage level in the library service for the first time.

In other news, we have several interesting articles springing from the NUT conference about the importance of libraries, including the lovely description of them as “a pair of armbands” for many in the UK, helping keep them afloat. Finally, we have more information on what is happening with the Taskforce, with a lot of their staff being transferred to ACE and the DCMS this year. Although there is funding two more years for the Taskforce to go, it looks like it is already winding down, with other bodies taking over staff and workload, with the final details being hammered out over the next year.

Changes by authority

More >

Library, Library, Library? A TV show featuring libraries, plus SCL on London choice

Editorial

A couple of emails to share with you ..

First, a television company has been in touch, saying it is looking for areas of the UK which have either never had a library or lost one more than a few years ago. The aim is to build/provide a top-class library in that area and show the impact it can have. The company has been impressed by research from New York that building a library had a positive impact on unexpected things like the crime rate and spousal abuse. There’s no promises – and the series has not even been commissioned as yet – but if it comes off then it could be amazing. Naturally there are concerns about how the library would be funded, and especially if it had paid staff, which I will pass back but I think this is too good to miss. If you have an area in mind for the proposal, email me or Beth Morrey direct on beth.morrey@rdftelevision.com.

Secondly, I was querying the decision by the Society of Chief Librarians to base its offices in London. This is the official reply:

“… at the moment SCL doesn’t employ any staff it only has freelance self-employed workers like myself who work from their own offices but once they have a CEO and support team in place they wanted an office base for them. Having approached a number of libraries and scoped a selection of locations across England SCL decided on a London office. Some of the reasons for this decision were that a large number of partners such as the BBC, British Library, CILIP, The Reading Agency etc. are London based and many of the partnership meetings take place in London. London is also easily accessible for people to travel to from across the UK, we were offered a space in a library which met our budget and office requirements and this was the location where our new CEO is based. SCL are currently in the process of signing a tenancy agreement so I can’t announce the precise location until it has all be signed off and agreed.” Helen Drakard, Society of Chief Librarians

Changes

Ideas

More >

Meanwhile, in bookselling, Amazon takes over

Editorial

Something which passed by at the time, possibly because it made no mention of public libraries, was a report by Arts Council England late last year on trends in the British book market. It makes interesting companion reading to those of us (probably including everyone following this blog) who know what’s happening to public libraries. Before I get into that, though, I should say ACE are aware of libraries – I was at a meeting with them and publishers last week and libraries came up a lot, it’s just it got missed in the report.

First thing is that fiction sales are down by nearly one-half since 2008, with hardback fiction price-per-book down 44% since 2001 and paperback books down 25%. The reason for the book price drop is assigned to the removal of the net book agreement (1997), the massive success of online book discounter (mainly Amazon), and a “general collapse in the price of content” due to the internet. Capping all of this off is the impact of the ebook, which from 2010/11 reached 33% of all books sold (with up to 90% of those on the Kindle, a monopoly run by Amazon). In recent years, prices have improved slightly, as have print sales, although ebooks are still officially a quarter of the market, and may be more (as a substantial part of Amazon’s ebooks are not included). So, basically, the decline in issues in public libraries is not unique to that but a general thing. Well, I think we knew that. And book issues decline is not far out of whack with the trend in book sales in the same period.

But what drew my attention was something that was skirted around with in the report. Basically, the biggest impactor on book sales has been (a) book discounting, near-monopolised by Amazon and (b) ebooks,, also dominated by Amazon. Remember that the next time your finger hovers over the “buy” button on their site.

Changes

More >

Size isn't everything

The austerity genie has well and truly left the bottle: volunteer libraries

Editorial

I’ve been following some of the tweets from the Community Managed Libraries Conference and look forward to the blogging/posts that will result from the event. But for now I think it’s useful to say that, look. we all know the issues surrounding volunteer libraries is a painfully difficult one. Heck, when there’s even a disagreement about their very name, you know there’s a problem. But it needs to be remembered that volunteers are persuaded to work for free in public libraries because, largely, they love them. They want to see libraries surviving in their local communities and conferences like this one will assist in making such branches more professional and sustainable. On the other hand, and this is the cruel thing, the more successful volunteer libraries are then the more councils will close down paid-staff libraries.

It’s all so sad when the natural strongest supporters of libraries are inadvertently, and with the best will in the world, used against paid staff. But I don’t think this is part of an evil political master plan. And I have a lot of sympathy for councils faced with difficulty budget decisions and, most of all, with the pro-library volunteers themselves. I also of course, not least because I am one of them and (self-interest aside) I know what staffing and managing a library involve, have sympathy with paid staff. But that’s just how it is.  Bottom line is, I think all of this is the result simply of budgetary pressure and local steps resulting from it. As austerity goes on, and despite hopeful headlines, it shows no signs of stopping, the ranks of volunteer libraries will swell above their already impressive 500+ number. Some will fail. But some will also succeed, at least in terms of staying open. I doubt any will ever become fully paid staffed ever again, as has sometimes been hopefully suggested. There are no perfect answers for any side. Paid staff will be threatened. Volunteer staff largely realise paid staff will be better. National organisations realise that, at the very least, the situation inevitably leads to atomisation. But volunteer libraries are here and it’s best to get used to it.

The genie is out of the bottle but it looks like no-ones (apart from a few ideologues we may never meet) wishes have been granted.

Changes

Why Suffolk chose to build our own self-service kiosk system, by Leon Paternoster, Suffolk Libraries

More >

IFLA and good news from St Helens

Editorial

Northamptonshire is again in the news, with the DCMS announcing they will look at complaints about cuts to its library service. There’s also more news about cuts in Somerset and East Sussex amongst other places. I more positive news, the Arts work that St Helens Libraries undertake has played a role in giving the borough city-wide recognition.

I don’t normally pay much attention to IFLA. It’s the global librarian association and I tend to concentrate on more parochial issues of direct concern to British public librarians. Small-minded possibly but I often find it hard to associate with their publications, initiatives and conferences. But I suspect this is my failing and not theirs. So have a look at the various links below about their recent conference and make up your own mind.

Changes

More >

Out with outsourcing? Northants fatally injured.

Editorial

It looks like Northamptonshire is going to be split up, with the most likely option being commissioners coming in to take over the council services. It’s unclear what will happen to libraries – especially as they’re currently run by a mish-mash of council, university and NHS – but the next full council meeting on Thursday may give some idea. The first fun fact is that the chief executive who oversaw and created a lot of this mess was the first chair of the Libraries Taskforce and that his “outsource everythingapproach to life doubtless must have influenced it in some way, although from everything that I hear about him, I think he genuinely did care about libraries. Anyway, he’s now gone and hopefully the rush towards outsourcing, that has already taken a bashing with the demise of Carillion, has been further slowed by what has happened in his county. The next  Full Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday so we may hear more of what is happening to Northants libraries and their long-suffering staff and users.

Second fun fact is that the new Northants HQ. built with what is now becoming clear was a trademark lack of care to expense, will have some spare space in it. And possibly, due to the imminent end of the council, may all become spare space. Hmm, a big office building outside London suddenly becoming vacant. Perhaps this may be nice cheap accommodation for national organisations thinking of setting up in the capital. Just a thought.

Changes by authority

More >