Sheffield takes last step, Lincolnshire does it again … while others give hope

Editorial

Sheffield have gone through with passing many of their libraries to volunteer despite Ed Vaizey’s letter asking for them to freeze.  I’ve seen their letter back to him, by the way, explaining their actions, and although publicly they’re defiant … well, let’s just say that their offical letter to him, is more pleading.  Still, it’s in Ed’s court now.  He has the information he asked for, he knows they’ve defied him publicly (if not privately) .. so will he take further action or have his lawyers informed him he has done enough to forestall any national legal action against him for failing in his statutory duties to intervene?  I know which one I have money on.

Council leaders in Lincolnshire have responded to the judicial review that said, in part, that their consultation was, well, a little bit undercooked by launching another consultation.  They’re calling it an extension, not a forced attempt to do the job right this time.  Whatever they call it to save face, one can’t help but wonder whether it’d be nice if they spent some of the money they have as reserve in the bank (£165 million) on supporting libraries rather than on trying to cut them.

Now on to some hope. Devon are looking at volunteers raising funds for libraries and in adopting at least some elements of the model already taken by Suffolk, rather than closing libraries or replacing paid staff.  The Suffolk model is gaining more and more traction nationally, with William Sieghart publicly lauding it and loads of other library services giving it a long hard look to see if it is for them.

There’s also some good news with one new library opening and the announcement of another one to be built shortly.  And, if you’re ever short of ideas, just have a look at the US Knight News Challenge submissions for funding. At time of writing, there are over 670 ideas publicly available on their website.  So, I guess, steal away.  I won’t tell.

Changes

National

  • Apple, Android and NFC – how should libraries prepare? - Changing Libraries. “For libraries the potential is obvious. Library users in possession of an NFC device potentially already have access to any item bearing the most common type of RFID tag since they not only operate at the same frequency as NFC but support communication protocols that enable devices to read and write data to both smartcards and item tags (subject to any encryption or data-locking that may be in place). Up until now NFC has been rightly viewed with some caution by librarians since it could be used maliciously in libraries using RFID for self-service etc”
  • #LoveLibraries – Thunderclap. “The #LoveLibraries campaign officially launches today! Get involved – visit your library and get a friend to join” … “The #LoveLibraries campaign aims to get everyone talking about how fantastic libraries in Wales are and encourage friends and family to discover what’s on offer – all for free at their local library. “
  • Top Author Martina Cole On Tour To Champion Reading For Pleasure – Booktrade.info. “”Martina is a fantastic advocate for the Six Book Challenge,” says David Kendall, adult literacy specialist at The Reading Agency. “Her enthusiasm and rapport with participants is matched only by the breadth and diversity of her own reading. She’s already proved a big hit in prisons, where she’s been the most popular author for years, and also in workplaces running the Challenge. Meeting a bestselling author like Martina has been a fantastic bonus for those taking part in the Six Book Challenge.”

International

  • Coming Soon to the Library: Humanoid Robots - Wall Street Journal (USA). “”Vincent” and “Nancy” will be buzzing around the Westport Library, where officials next week will announce the recent acquisition of the pair of humanoid “NAO Evolution” robots. Their primary purpose: to teach the kind of coding and computer-programming skills required to animate such machines. While it isn’t unusual for public libraries to offer instruction in programming or robotics, Westport is the first in the nation to do it with sophisticated humanoid bots made by the French robotics firm Aldebaran.”
  • Gale Launches the ‘My Library Story’ Online Community - MediaBistro (USA). “Gale, a division of Cengage Learning, has launched the “My Library Story” community project. With this new website, the organization invites library advocates to share stories about what public libraries mean to them. From now until February 28, 2015, every story submission will prompt Gale to donate $1.00 to a library advertising fund. Follow this link to watch a promotional video about this project.”
  • Knight News Challenge - There are now an incredible 671 library funding ideas on this site.  Definitely worth a browse.
  • Those Dangerous Public Libraries - Annoyed Librarian (USA).  The frankly insane US gun laws mean insane gun nuts can carry their insane guns in US public libraries and sue libraries if they say no to them.  Insane.

UK local news by authority

  • Brighton and Hove -Brighton and Hove council faces £100m funding shortfall – Brighton and Hove News. “What would you stop, start or change? Some councils have, among other things, closed libraries. Were Brighton and Hove City Council to close all its libraries and museums, it would save £21 million”
  • Derbyshire – Cuts to Derbyshire’s mobile library service, children’s centres and buses confirmed - Derby Telegraph. “THE butchering of Derbyshire’s mobile library service was confirmed earlier today – but Labour vowed to spend more on delivering books to people’s homes. Labour cabinet members agreed to axe eight of the county’s ten library vans to save £530,000 every year. It means the service will make just 146 stops every month from January next year – a reduction of 88%. Only 150 towns or villages will be visited, down from 383.” see also Fury as Derbyshire mobile library cuts are approved – Chad. “On the Derbyshire Times’ Facebook page, Mel Bunting said: “This service should never be cut – it is a lifeline for people living in rural areas. “Shame on the council.” Katherine Chapman added: “It’s such an important service – so sad.”
  • Devon – Plans to close 28 Devon libraries are shelved – BBC. “The local authority had proposed cutting funding to 28 smaller libraries around the county to save £1.5m. After a consultation, it said it was considering a new approach involving a pilot of 10 communities working with professionals to run the service. The buildings and staff in those areas would become part of new trusts, separate from the council.” … “The scheme has already been used in Sussex where an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) was set up in 2012 to run the libraries.” and Libraries could be saved from closure by their users, says council - North Devon Journal and Devon County Council shelves library closure proposals - Herald Express.
  • Havering – New £4.5million library opens in Rainham – Enquirer. “Rainham’s new £4.5million library has officially opened, ahead of public consultations into the library service which could see changes in staffing and opening hours at libraries across Havering … The library scheme has long been a key part of the Council’s wide-reaching project to improve the area and the quality of life for local residents. It has seen Rainham Broadway transformed to create more than 2,700 square metres of expanded library facilities, as well as retail space, a nursery and 16 new flats built above the new-look library.”
  • Lincolnshire – Have your say on library service – Skegness Standard. “The county council is inviting people to put forward proposals for running the libraries within a reduced budget. Executive member for libraries Coun Nick Worth said: “Last year, we ran an extensive consultation seeking views on our own proposal as to how best to make the necessary savings. “The views that were shared have been heard loud and clear, and will again be taken into consideration in making a fresh decision.” see also Further consultation on library services - Council.
  • Lincolnshire – LCC Denies Libraries Any Crumbs – Louth Eye. Council had £165m in reserves but is keen to cut libraries.  “manufactured austerity”. “Councillor John Marriott defended the failure to spend the reserve with reference the “massive cuts” faced by local government. He laid the blame for library cuts on the deficit, and called library users as a “a very small minority”. “
  • Lincolnshire - Open Letter to @EdVaizey re Sheffield and Lincolnshire Libraries – Save Lincolnshire Libraries.”The Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign welcomes the fact that you are asking questions of Sheffield City Council following detailed comments from the Broomhill Library Action Group. Now, further to the outcome of the Judicial Review of our County Council’s proposals, I request by means of this Letter that you extend your action and influence elsewhere in the country, making the continued plight of our service a priority.” … “Why did you not ask questions of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat led County Council?”
  • Lincolnshire – September newsletter - Friends of Deeping Library. “Cllr Nick Worth has promised that the county will be running a new public consultation about libraries during October. We have heard that this will begin on October 1st and the public will have a month in which to respond. Cllr Worth has said that this will be asking for alternative ideas on the future of Lincolnshire Libraries, other than closing them. Apart from making the obvious comment that if they had done this in the first place they wouldn’t be in this mess, FoDL has decided this is the opportunity to take further action in support of Deeping Library …”

“Nick Worth has agreed to stop using the phrase ‘willing volunteers’ when talking about FoDL and other groups forced to plan to run their libraries if needed”

  • Liverpool – Dates set for Liverpool library consultation meetings - ITV. “Dates have been set for all of the public meetings regarding the future of 11 community libraries in Liverpool. Four sessions will take place, each one looking at a selection of affected libraries.” see also Public meetings set up on fate of 11 libraries – Liverpool Confidential.
  • Norfolk – Young bookworm Laurie’s 125 reasons for loving literature – EDP. “Laurie Shaw, six, of The Heywood, Diss will read “anything and everything,” his mother Shona, 38 said and this summer he completed a staggering 125 books as part of a summer reading challenge organised by Diss library. Such is his passion for literature, he will even pick up more adult books in the toilet offering advice on how to talk to girls, which has resulted in his parents having to vet the material he has access to”
  • Sheffield – City’s libraries poised for volunteer takeover – LocalGov. “Cllr Mazher Iqbal, the local authority’s cabinet member for communities and public health, said: ‘I would like to personally thank each and every volunteer for all their hard work, as they take responsibility for running their community libraries from Monday. ‘Everyone has put in an incredible amount of work and I’m very pleased to say, thanks to the people of Sheffield, all 28 libraries in our city are staying open.’” see also Volunteers run half of Sheffield’s threatened libraries – BBC. “The authority said it would continue to run 12 facilities across the city and temporarily manage two others until a plan was agreed with volunteers. A library in Tinsley will remain open and managed by the council until 2016.” and Video: Sheffield libraries start new chapter today - Star. “Sheffield Council controversially relinquished control of 15 libraries earlier this year – despite passionate protests from many thousands of people – to save £650,000 a year due to budget cuts. Yesterday, there was still the feeling that the authority should have done more. Much praise and thanks was given to the previous staff who served the library for years. Across the city 75 posts have been lost.”
  • South Tyneside – Council green lights first phase of £100m regeneration – LocalGov. “South Tyneside Council last night gave the go-ahead for construction to begin on a new central library and digital media centre alongside a new 40-space car park. The building is expected to be open to the public by 2016.”

“‘The new Central Library and Digital Media Centre will drive footfall into the town centre and act as a catalyst for further private sector investment and growth.”

  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries AGM 2014 - Suffolk Libraries. “Our AGM took place … Around 100 people attended, including membership group representatives from all over the county … The 2013–2014 accounts were approved, along with the 2013 AGM minutes … Founder of National Poetry Day and leader of the government’s Independent Library Review William Sieghart addressed the meeting. He praised our membership model and divestment, saying it led to more meaningful community involvement and better procurement of services such as wifi. At a time when library services are under pressure, he sees our model as the way forward.” includes review of year and accounts.

Who’s to trust?

Editorial

The changes in Devon appear to be becoming more clear.  It looks like the changes will be more like Suffolk: with volunteers fund-raising and assisting the libraries in keeping them open rather than other authorities like Lincolnshire where the plans are for staff to be made redundant with volunteers directly replacing them.  There are also suggestions that Devon libraries will be going down a non-profit non-council route to deliver services.  More details are expected this week.  Renfrewshire are also also considering a non-profit trust route, although they’re looking at combining libraries with leisure and cultural services too.

Changes

Ideas

  • Book Bikes - Promote public libraries in the community, temporary tattoo users, blow bubbles when someone joins.

More >

Special report: “This house believes that local authorities are still the best way to deliver the public library service” CILIP PMLG Debate 27th September 2014

I was very grateful to be invited to be on the panel of the CILIP Public and Mobile Libraries Group (PMLG) debate at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park this afternoon.  In addition to me (Ian Anstice of Public Libraries News since 2010 and full-time professional librarian since 1994), other members of the panel were

  • Biddy Fisher OBE, Trustee, Denby Dale Community Project*, Past President of CILIP. [*My post initially described the project as just the library: this is incorrect. Although this includes creating a new building to house the library it also involves services provided by two other local charities - the Denby Dale Centre (a service for the old, vulnerable and lonely in the community) and the Kirkwood Hospice. The library is currently staffed with a paid professional librarian - Ed.]
  • Brian Ashley, Director – Libraries, Arts Council England.
  • Andrew Coburn, former Secretary of the Library Campaign and UNISON activist
  • Cllr Cath Pinnock. Kirklees Council.  Soon to be a Liberal Democratic peer in the House of Lords.
  • Darren Smart, Chair, Public and Mobile Libraries Group.

It’s fair to say that all, with the exception of Brian, were speaking from an entirely personal capacity and not speaking for anyone else.  It’s also worth saying that there were, frankly, not that many people there.  Perhaps twenty five in the audience.  But that didn’t stop a lively and well-tempered discussion.  The main points I noted for either side were:

More >

News summary

Changes

Ideas

More >

Steal some ideas from the USA, why don’t you?

Editorial

Some very useful stuff is coming from a US project to look at innovative ideas in public libraries.  It’s very similar to the Carnegie LibraryLab programme in the UK but, well, bigger.  It’s also more open. I’ve noticed that the (many) authorities going for LibraryLab funding are being a bit cagey about what they’re developing and, possibly quite rightly, seeing other authorities as competition to be beaten to the prize.  That’s the case with the Knight News Challenge too of course but there they’ve hit on the idea of making all ideas public from the time of submission. the result is a beautifully presented list / treasure trove of copyright-free ideas for libraries all around the world to dip into.  Including us.  So look at the pages on Inspiration (47 contributions) and the one on Submissions (67 separate ideas on there so far) and steal away.  Shame so few are about books though.

Changes

More >

A big day

Editorial

Good to see the success of the CILIP AGM “Big Day” on this Saturday past.  There was much positive stuff about Libraries Change Lives (well done to Northamptonshire) and Honorary Fellows (congrats to Janene Cox and Philip Wark).  William Sieghart, at some point before January to publish his inquiry into English public libraries, spoke about the sector being at a “Beeching” (as in the savage cuts to the railways) moment but at how impressed he was about the work that was done.  The CILIP President’s speech was an appeal to work together, look to the future and focus on the good that is done.

In terms of votes, all motions were carried apart from the one that was causing all the rumpus because it would have reduced, in the eyes of many, the representative nature of the CILIP Council (now renamed “Board”).  So, seen from afar, this looks like quite a good result for everyone: the organisation gets to boost its achievements and that of libraries and those worried about its direction of travel need not worry about a decline in democracy.  It was indeed a Big Day.

Changes

More >

Ed Vaizey v. Sheffield Council: battle is joined

Editorial

It looks like Ed Vaizey, the minister most in charge of public libraries, is showing some action.  In a detailed letter to Sheffield Council, Ed demands clarification and explanations of fifteen different points in order to help him make up his mind about whether he should intervene.  He has also instructed them not to make any changes to library services until the end of October, to give him time to consider the results and override the council if necessary.  That last may either force him to action or make him look very weak indeed as the council has made it clear that they have no intention to stop changes and will move forward with having volunteers take over its libraries.  So, it looks like Sheffield, home to Nick Clegg and a Labour Council, is going to be a key battleground in deciding who has the final say in public libraries: local councils or the Secretary of State.  The lines are drawn.  Now let’s see if it’s the council or Mr Vaizey who is humiliated.

In other DCMS related news, the department has to the surprise of no-one, decided to go ahead with the formal abolition of the Advisory Council on Libraries.  This group had already practically been abolished in 2010 but a consultation had to be done in order to make this legal.  That has now been done and the ACL is now formally consigned to history.

Changes

Ideas

Ed Vaizey’s letter to Sheffield: summary and analysis

More >

Depth of Wirral cuts become clear, income generation and CILIP governance

Editorial

Main things today include a response from CILIP Council to the post written yesterday.  Being I have taken the decision to leave CILIP (it’s simply too expensive for me to justify considering reductions in real salary over the last few years) I have refrained from voting but I do urge any of you who are members to vote.  It’s not quite as important as that referendum thingy happening in Scotland at the moment but, you know, if you’re feeling left out of that one …

I was surprised to see that the proposed cuts to Wirral were so deep.  To reduce opening hours of fifteen out of twenty one libraries to just ten hours per week is going to have an impact.  The council argues that at least it is not closing them or passing them to volunteers and it is a sign about how bad things have gotten nationally that this will be seen by many as a reasonable position.

If you’re looking at raising money for your library service then the opportunity via Locality to be involved in their pilot programme on income generation in libraries may be useful.  Worth a look.

Changes

Ideas

Effective Governance for CILIP – A response to Tom Featherstone and Bob Usherwood

By Nick Poole, a CILIP Councillor, former Treasurer and member of the project board for the Governance Review

More >

2 Past Presidents express fears over CILIP leadership proposals

Tom Featherstone and Bob Usherwood, both Past Presidents of The Library Association, sent this piece to me expressing concern about the proposals for changing the way CILIP is governed Being these proposals will be voted on this Saturday, I am giving them their own post below.  In addition to being Past Presidents, Tom Featherstone is Chair of CILIP’s Retired Members Guild and Bob Usherwood edits its journal Post-Lib.

Democratic governance for professional organisations More >

Big library trends: three tier services and Trusts

Editorial

Two bits of big library news today has got me thinking about longer term national trends.  Number one is bad news from Hertfordshire as it announces plans to lose all staff from 17 out of 46 of its libraries. This is in keeping with the trend notable from other English and Welsh authorities where the council aims for all of the smallest branches to be either volunteered or closed.  The general scheme is:

  • The largest library/ies have an unaffected or even improved service.
  • Middle sized libraries (towns, major suburbs) have slightly reduced services, but with some paid staff replaced with volunteers.
  • Smallest libraries are passed to volunteers, parish councils or closed.

Someone asked me the other day what future I saw for public libraries if current trends continue.  I’ve been thinking about this for a short while and my guess is something like the above pattern but taken a bit further.  So, if you work in or use a central library, congratulations, you have comparatively nothing to worry about in the next three years.  You’ll notice less books and less staff but the odds are the place is going to be the least affected by the inevitable cuts in your authority. If you work in a suburb, small town or village, on the other hand (less than 20,000 population? Not sure) then, sorry, you’re probably going to see your library close down or more likely pass to volunteers. The grey area is those larger non-central libraries.  It’s very hard to see how a sizeable busy branch can be volunteer run or be closed down.  My guess is that will be where non-profit enterprises (or even profits) will be making an appearance and you’ll notice that the branch gets more and more non-book stuff in it.

The other big bit of news in today (although it has been suggested for a long while) is confirmation that Kent is planning to move to be a charitable trust.  It will join York and Suffolk as a non-Leisure non-profit .  Now, there seems to be a little confusion with Library/Leisure Trusts at the moment with Wigan’s libraries being returned to the local authority.  I’ve heard rumours that it’s not just Wigan either that is having problems with combined library/leisure trusts.  So, the trend here seems to be that library-service trusts are in the ascendant but the growth in library/leisure trusts is stalling.  Set against this, of course, is the leisure-library trust GLL which is currently trying to add Lincolnshire to its list.  We’ll see whether GLL can buck the trend – or even if I’m right that there is a trend at all – over the next year or two.  Oddly, what we’re not seeing, after the excitement of the Tri Borough amalgamation, are more library services combining with eachother.  Presumably this is because of political difficulties … and I’ll be very surprised I anyone is going to make a decision of that nature until the General Election.

Changes

Idea

More >