Chris Riddell loves libraries

A quiet couple of days for libraries: Hull enters centre stage?

Editorial

A quiet few days as, I suspect, the nation held its breath over the referendum. Good to see more Summer Reading Challenge references (I always love this time of year) and also nice to see good news from Birmingham, although it’s only an expansion of what we already knew. What I did not already know was that there’s an independent charitable trust in Hull with loads of money and a strong interest in libraries which wants to make itself known nationally. It will be interesting to see how that develops.

Changes

Ideas

National news

  • Bringing people together in memories – CILIP. “Victoria Treadway et al report on an NHS/public library partnership project between Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Wirral Council to support the wellbeing of people living with dementia, creating reminiscence boxes which are available in public libraries and in the local acute hospital.
  • Marketing Excellence Awards winners 2016 – CILIP PPRG. “Our second Gold Award goes to Oldham Council Libraries for live@thelibrary, a programme of literature and arts events delivered from the newly refurbished Performance Space in Oldham Library. The project has significantly increased library membership and has demonstrated an adaptive, reflective approach to marketing strategy throughout its first year.” … “Our Bronze Award goes to Leeds Library and Information Service for #whatsyourstory, which used human-interest storytelling to demonstrate how their libraries had played a significant part in the achievements of local people.  Not only did it engage the local community, but the generic appeal of the campaign created a worldwide reach. “
Chris Riddell loves libraries

Chris Riddell loves libraries

  • Mills & Boon launches #LoveAtTheLibrary campaign – BookSeller. “Romantic fiction publisher Mills & Boon is partnering with The Reading Agency to work with libraries across the UK to help readers “fall in love” at their library. The #LoveAtTheLibrary campaign aims to remind adults of the “joys of reading” and inspire them to visit their local library and “rekindle their love affair with books”. Running until 31st July, participating libraries will create “eye-catching” Mills & Boon displays, with those deemed most creative winning books and other prizes. Libraries will share their displays on social media using the hashtag #LoveAtTheLibrary, and many will host exclusive readings and author events. More than 80 libraries across the UK are taking part in the initiative.”
  • Missing Million: in Search of the Loneliest in our Communities – Campaign To End Loneliness. “Not all foundation services are principally defined according to a specific driver of loneliness (such as bereavement or a health issue). Libraries are a key hub in many communities and often familiar and important resources for older people, particularly in areas that have seen the loss of other facilities such as day centres, neighbourhood pubs, and local churches or other faith based establishments.” … “Those working in libraries have become increasingly aware of older people experiencing loneliness. While mobile libraries have been in operation in various areas for some years, Hackney Community Library Service, for example, has responded by establishing a Telephone Reading Group in partnership with RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme). This allows housebound people to participate in a traditional book club that would otherwise be unreachable”
  • Nielsen LibScan Public Library borrowing data Period 4 (to 23 April 2016) with a special Children’s focus – Nielsen. “Library loans for Period 4 of 2016 (ending 23 April) were down year-on-year by 4.9% falling from last year’s 5.9m to 5.7m this year.” … “which is one of our Nielsen BookScan TCM Evergreens. This means that it has appeared in every weekly Top 5,000 Nielsen BookScan TCM sales chart.  If we compare the books that are in the Top 10 for Period 4 2016 with Period 4 2015 then we can see that Peppa Pig takes up 3 of the Top 10 positions. “
  • Speak Up for Libraries update – Speak Up For Libraries. “CILIP’s new Action Plan 2016-2020 sets the objective of securing the interests of all libraries in national policy through a series of campaigns beginning in 2015 with My Library By Right. In delivering this policy objective, CILIP has decided to work in parallel with the SUFL coalition to pursue their respective interests rather than as a partner. This will enable both CILIP and SUFL to work independently, able to harness effectively our differing perspectives and approaches to campaigning to the benefit of users. CILIP acknowledges the great contribution that the other partners in the coalition have and are making to ensuring the future of our public library service.” see also CILIP to work alongside Speak Up for Libraries group as independent supporter – CILIP.

International news

  • Canada – #JacksLibraryTour sees father, son on mission to visit all Toronto public libraries – CBC. “For five-year-old Jackson Ryan Bennett and his father, Lanrick Bennett Jr., they’re places of pilgrimage as they’ve embarked on a mission to visit all 100 of the city’s libraries. Dubbing the quest #JacksLibraryTour on Twitter, the idea first sprung up through a book they owned that included illustrations of Toronto’s libraries by Daniel Rotsztain.”
  • USA – All Librarianship is Political: Educate Accordingly – Political Librarian. “libraries as institutions and many of the actions of library professionals are inherently political, yet LIS education has not traditionally prepared students for them. Confronting this aspect of LIS education and the profession in general and creating curriculum that emphasizes the politics of librarianship will better prepare students to serve their patrons, their communities, and their institutions. Such an educational approach would emphasize preparing future library professionals in areas such as leadership, education, activism and advocacy, community service and engagement, policy and law, rights and justice, and marketing and evaluation, resulting in the politically-savvy librarians ready to be activists for their institutions and communities.”
  • USA – Are Small Public Libraries the Way of the Future? – Public Libraries Online. “My staff knows most of our regular patrons by name, and many out-of-town visitors tell us they like our library because of its cozy environment. ” … “Barker notes that few patrons are willing to drive upwards of twenty miles to visit their library. He then argues that local governments should focus on developing/maintaining more numerous, smaller libraries; these libraries and their staff can, in turn, better target their collections and offerings to their specific constituents. Additionally, he suggests incorporating small libraries into larger community centers to strive for a one-stop experience for residents. This type of merger can also save a governing body some of the costs associated with maintaining multiple municipal buildings”
  • USA – From both sides now: mentoring the next generation of librarians – American Libraries. “There is a golden period when someone new to the library can see everything that might be strange, confusing, or problematic. In time, we all become accustomed to our surroundings, and those problems become the barely visible flotsam and jetsam of our everyday work. We should make the most of that magical newcomer vision. I always make a point of asking new colleagues to keep track of problems they see because those fresh insights can push us out of our comfort zones and create positive change for our patrons. We want to encourage these audacious ideas, even if they’re not all feasible.”
  • USA – Judge denies injunction for woman who openly carried gun into library – Review Journal. “attorney Dennis Kennedy, counsel for the district, argued that Flores was banned from libraries within the district not for carrying her pistol but for disruptive conduct. As Flores was leaving the library with her three children, Kennedy said, she was told by the security guard that she was not able to bring her firearm into the library upon return visits. “She then wanted to debate with the security officer the validity of the policy,” Kennedy said. “The plaintiff and her three children sit down in the doorway at this point, for reasons that are unknown.”
  • USA – Knight News Challenge Winners 2016: Libraries – Knight Foundation. See also Knight News Challenge awards $1.6 million for ideas that help libraries serve 21st century information needs – Knight Foundation.
  • USA – Video calls in Brooklyn libraries will put inmates in touch with their families – Verge. “The Brooklyn Public Library has been awarded a grant for nearly $400,000 to place inmate video calling services in a dozen libraries, giving inmates’ friends and family members a new way to stay in contact.” … “The program has a focus on children, and the planned rooms will be decorated with them in mind. “Children ages 0 to 10 can participate in family ‘video visits’ in one of several library rooms that staff fill with stuffed animals, books, crayons and paper to create warm and welcoming spaces—€”in sharp contrast to those used at Rikers Island,” “

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Children’s libraries get a £250,000 makeover – Birmingham News Room / Council. “The funding boost – which enabled libraries in Balsall Heath, Druids Heath, Kings Norton, Kingstanding and Small Heath to make improvements and finance educational projects – was awarded by the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity that supports and promotes excellence in a wide range of fields, including education and the arts. These libraries are now equipped with the latest technology including plasma screens, digital cameras and the new Raspberry Pi system for ‘code clubs’, plus iPads enabling them to link up with community libraries across Birmingham.” see also Funding boost for Kings Norton Community Library – B31 Voices.
  • Cornwall – Launceston Town Council agree on proposal to take on library service – Cornish Guardian. “The town council recently commissioned Perfect Moment to find out if the library could be an asset or a liability. The company found taking on the library could cost up to £80,000 which would include a backlog of repairs. The document sent to Cornwall Council said: “The town council has approached this issue with an open mind, but our expression of interest has always been dependent on Cornwall Council giving substantial financial and in-kind support.” … “
  • The town council said it would want £52,000 to be transferred to them to deal with essential repairs and maintenance of the library building in the event of a deal.”
  • Hull – Soul of the City: a vision for the future of public libraries in Hull – Libraries Task Force. “Public libraries in Hull must be unique in having the support of a major philanthropic trust that allows it to continue to invest in new services, to experiment and to innovate.  The James Reckitt Library Trust manages an endowment established in 1892 by Sir James Reckitt, the pioneer industrialist and Quaker philanthropist, one of Hull’s greatest citizens.” … “In recent months, the Trust has begun work to develop a highly progressive, future-looking vision of the future of public libraries, both in Hull and nationally. As well as having an impact locally, we want to position Hull as a leading progressive voice in the national debate about the future of this country’s public library system.” … “We now want to move from vision to blueprint. We want to engage with as many people and organisations as possible – locally, nationally and internationally. We very much welcome the work of the Libraries Taskforce in trying to develop a positive agenda for public libraries, and we recognise that solutions to the crisis facing public libraries cannot be solved purely at a local level.”
  • Lambeth – Carnegie Library campaigners host community pop-up library in response to Lambeth’s book-ish gyms exhibition – in photos – Brixton Buzz.  “While Lambeth and their business partners Greenwich Leisure Ltd hosted what was billed as a ‘Public Exhibition On The Future Of Carnegie,’ campaigners put on a ‘Pop Up Library’ event directly opposite the venue in Ruskin Park.” … “The council ‘exhibition’ turned out to be little more than a collection of leaflets blown up to poster size, with a gathering of officials wandering about.” … “We asked questions asked what kind of market research had been undertaken to establish the actual need for a gym, and if it could be posted online (“You’ll have to ask Lambeth”) and why GLL were directly handed the contract without any community consultation  (“You’ll have to ask Lambeth”) etc “
  • Lancashire – Anger at ‘snub’ over libraries – Blackpool Gazette. “The leader of a group campaigning to keep open a Fylde library has expressed her anger at being unable to arrange a meeting over the issue with the County Council’s cabinet member for culture. Louise McLaren, chairman of the Friends of Ansdell Library, requested a meeting with County Coun Marcus Johnstone to discuss ideas for the future of Fylde’s libraries, of which four of the current five could be axed in their present form under proposals to close more than half of the libraries across the county”
  • Lancashire – Councillor aims to save Earby Library – Craven Herald. “West Craven county councillor David Whipp has stepped up his campaign to save local libraries. And now he is asking Lancashire County Council (LCC) to consider alternative ways of providing facilities across the county. Cllr Whipp led a debate on the library service at LCC’s annual meeting. “I plead with the county council’s administration to be more open to alternative models of service delivery,” said Cllr Whipp”
  • Leicestershire – New chapter as Burbage Library is handed to volunteers – Hinckley Times. “Having gained CIO – charity incorporated organisation – status in February the group is nine-strong with a team of enthusiastic helpers determined to keep the centre open for the benefit of the village. Ray Watkins, chairman of the volunteers, said: “Some helpers just want to do decorating or maintenance work while others are keen to work in the library itself. A number of people have gone through training with the county council because we wanted ‘super-users’ – people who could do everything – and we were lucky enough to find six. These six will cascade the training down to others.””
  • North Somerset – North Somerset Council reveals plan for libraries and children’s centres – North Somerset Times. “North Somerset Council could close libraries as soon as next year in a bid to save about £500,000 per year, a new report has revealed” … “Congresbury Library could close under the raft of proposals agreed by the council’s executive, however it is not the authority’s preference. Worle’s library is similarly threatened” … “Cllr Felicity Baker, executive member for libraries, said: “The council is committed to delivering community-based library and children’s centre services. The excellent new libraries in Weston and Portishead are proof of that. “However, as a mindful authority faced with continuing financial pressures and changing customer needs and demographics, we should be undertaking regular service reviews to ensure value for money.” … “Since 2004-5, visitor numbers at Portishead Library have dropped 17 per cent and 14 per cent since the new venue opened in Harbour Road five years ago. Similarly Congresbury’s library has seen attendances drop by almost a third, Pill’s by more than half, Nailsea’s by 44 per cent and Clevedon’s by 41 per cent – with the council now contemplating moving the latter to Castlewood.”
  • Northern Ireland – Protest to save Derry’s central library this Saturday – Derry Journal. “A protest against plans to cut the hours at Derry’s Central Library will take place on Friday at 2 p.m. Derry Central Library is one of 14 libraries across Northern Ireland threatened with a reduction in opening hours of five hours per week. A spokesperson for the group leading the protest said: “Our libraries are being subjected to death by a thousand cuts.” … “On Saturday at 2pm activists, trade unionists and local campaigners will be gathering outside the Derry Central Library to protest against these cuts and demand that Libraries NI, Minister Paul Givan and the Assembly Executive make the necessary funds available to maintain our library services.”

“The True North Brew Company, which runs several pubs in Sheffield, is to take over Walkley library, the city’s only Carnegie library, converting most of the space for drinking and dining.  The plan has been given the go-ahead after two years of the library being run by volunteers.  They had tried to save it from closure but lack the funds to repair and renovate the listed building.  The pub company has agreed to lease a library area within the building back to Sheffield council, but floorplans show most of the space will be taken over by a bar, dining room and function room. Putting a brave face on the move, the library volunteer charity claims that sharing space with the bar will make the library more “vibrant” — vibrancy not always being ideal for those seeking somewhere to study quietly.

Meanwhile Sheffield’s volunteer-run libraries have suffered a “dramatic dip” in book lending since the handover in 2014, according to figures released earlier this year.  On average loans fell by 34 percent, with one library seeing a 63 percent fall in borrowing.  Library chiefs blamed a national decline in library usage (though this is far from universal, with various towns and countries bucking the trend and declaring increased borrowing in the past year).  Campaigners say it is evidence that the loss of a professionally-run service in 15 out of the city’s 28 libraries has done serious damage.

P.S: Good news from Skidrow-on-Sea, however, where plans to close Hove library due to wildly over-estimated renovation costs (Eye 1416) were scuppered by an alliance of opposition Greens and Conservatives, who passed a motion to reallocate under-spent funds from elsewhere in Brighton’s budget to keep it going without affecting other branch libraries.” Sheffield – Library News – Private Eye No. 1421 (not available online).

  • Shropshire – Warning for Whitchurch: No going back if libraries close – Shropshire Star. “Discussions are currently taking place about the possibility of Whitchurch Town Council taking over the management of services, including play areas and youth activities. Councillor Gerald Dakin, Shropshire member for Whitchurch, said: “If we lose these important services I cannot see them coming back again, so it is very important we all get together and start talking.”
  • Wiltshire – Warminster library hosts Roald Dahl-themed creative dance session – Blackmore Vale. “To celebrate the launch of this year’s Roald Dahl themed Summer Reading Challenge Warminster Library will be holding a creative dance session for children aged four – 11 on Saturday 9th July 2pm-3pm. Led by Caroline Newman (The Dance Lady), children will get the opportunity to explore Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine through expressive dance and movement. Book your free ticket by visiting Warminster Library or phone 01985 216022. Don’t forget to dress up as your favourite Roald Dahl character. All children must be accompanied by a parent/carer.”
  • Worcestershire – Group supporting Syrian refugees told to take down library exhibition – Malvern Gazette. ” Malvern group which has campaigned to bring Syrian refugees to the town was forced to take down an exhibition in the town’s library promoting its work because of the EU referendum. Malvern Welcomes Syrian Refugees had created the display in the library off Graham Road to coincide with Refugee Week. It went on show on Monday, and was expected top remain there until Saturday. But on Tuesday, the group was told by Worcestershire County Council‘s libraries department that it would have to come down until voting on the EU referendum had finished, due to so-called ‘purdah’ rules which come into effect in the run-up to a vote.”. Group says “”Had we known this would be the approach of the library, we would have arranged for the display to happen elsewhere. By forcing us to take down the display, the council has in effect made a political decision that the refugee crisis is related to the EU referendum – which is a very controversial and partial position.””
  • Worcestershire – Local libraries offer great reading opportunities this summer – Droitwich Advertiser. “people in Worcestershire are being invited to volunteer their time and help encourage school children to enjoy reading during their summer holidays”

Amazon linking revisited … and … Ed Vaizey says it’s all OK

Editorial

I’m always pleased, and a niggling part of me is surprised too, when I get feedback on something in an editorial.  My thanks to Jon Scown of Somerset Libraries who responded to my recent post on the linking to Amazon on the Libraries West catalogue:

“We noticed with interest the editorial in last week’s Public Libraries News about LibrariesWest linking to Amazon from our website, not least because we’ve been doing this since 2005 so it’s nothing new! I guess the profile of this has been raised since we launched our new website following our recent migration to the Symphony LMS.

I thought it might help to explain why we make the link and the benefits to the service and to customers. We’ve used the income to support a number of successful promotional campaigns over the years which we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford. For example, we ran a Join a Friend campaign to encourage library members to recommend the library to friends and family, and a marketing campaign when we launched our e book and e audio book services. The income from Amazon allowed us to produce high quality publicity materials and to buy prizes to support the campaigns. Alongside these campaigns we’ve also run a number of consortium wide promotions to support the Summer Reading Challenge and National Libraries Day.

I’m sure this will be of interest to the readers of Public Libraries News and demonstrate that there is value in making the link to Amazon.”

Jon then went on to say that “over the eleven years we’ve been doing it we’ve made several thousand pounds. So, there’s an idea, especially as it is balanced out by a link to a “buy it on the local high street” webpage as well, which I think is an excellent idea.

On the other hand, I’ve also heard from someone else that their authority tried it, “earned pennies” and then stopped. And it’s worth noting that a few thousand pounds would be worth possibly at tops one tenth of one percent of library income over the period described, although it’s clearly put to good use and ringfenced (always a good idea to do that if you can).

Ultimately, I think faced with an ever-shrinking budget individual library authorities (and others definitely in that boat –  Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, for instance – have done the same) it’s an offer many will find too tempting to refuse.  Strategically and nationally, one still fears that it’s allying with an enemy who basically wants you closed down, while alienating potential supporters such as many booksellers and authors. But, faced with the needs we face, many library services will be willing to make that deal. And, by the look of it, Ed Vaizey will congratulate them for modernising at the same time.

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Humanity First

Editorial

A murder of an MP as she was leaving a library. Not many people think of violence when they think of libraries but it’s there. I’ve personally called the police numerous times, broken up fights before they started, called the ambulance after they ended, seen a few knives, dowsed the flames of an arson attack. But (and I’m aware there are one or two US readers of this who would disagree, sadly)  I would before last week never think that anyone would ever be shot in one, least of all an MP. Words cannot express. My best wishes to the staff and volunteers who were there on the day and to all the library staff, everywhere, who know that violence may be part of the job. May it not be the part in any MP’s job again any time soon.

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Catalogue takes you directly to Amazon or the Hive

Selling on to Amazon: thinking about linking

Editorial

I’m squeezing in a post this evening as I’m unlikely to find the time tomorrow. So, I’ll include something that has been sent to me about LibrariesWest, a consortium of several library authorities in the South West. The image below is a screen capture from the catalogue. Most of it will be familiar to everyone but the “Find on Amazon” and “Hive.co.uk” options may not be.  Linking to Amazon has obvious attractions – they’re fast, cheap, well known and doubtless (one sincerely hopes) paying commission.  On the other hand, Amazon are also well-known for their negative side (low wages, wiping out competition, something about taxation) which may not play well with library friends in publishing and bookselling. Indeed, the email to me pointing out the Amazon link goes on to ask “what is this about? Have our libraries sold themselves to Amazon? I can’t believe something like this is acceptable in [name of city], where there’s such a strong support for the local shops and where quite a few local bookstores had to close in the last year.”. The Hive link may be an attempt to balance this out as it takes directly to a link to buying the book on the high street, again something I’ve not seen before.  However, the Amazon link has clear pride of place (directly below the place reservation button) and one has click on the Hive logo to actually see what it was. I wonder how many people never try.

This example represents the dilemma that library authorities face. The link represents extra helpfulness for the customer and an alternative if the person wants a book quickly and the library cannot supply. It also, I really hope, provides income, which is something we all know is vital these days. On the other hand, it’s going to really annoy some core supporters of libraries and ally ourselves with a private company that, in the final analysis, wants us – and all other competition – gone. So, risk assess the options before one does initiatives like this and prepare to be challenged. by people a little less even handed than me, when they find out about it.

Catalogue takes you directly to Amazon or the Hive

Catalogue takes you directly to Amazon or the Hive

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How I learned to stop worrying and love Wikipedia

Editorial

I remember when Wikipedia was first heard of in public libraries. It was dismissed as something irrelevant or misleading: after all, anyone could add anything to it so how trustworthy, or useful, could it be? I even occasionally hear librarians today questioning its usefulness.  Well, it’s probably the main source of information and answers in the Western World now, having displaced the Encyclopaedia Britannica (and, whisper it, libraries) with many people years ago, so perhaps its time to go with it a little. I know from personal experience how quickly fake information is deleted (my “Great Chocolate Teapot Massacre of 1826″ lasted barely two seconds when I tried) and how carefully new information was checked. When I added details of a little-known Cheshire prophet to the site, I got contacted to prove my sources: thankfully, I could, but the article still has warnings all over it.  After that, I had no doubt as to Wikipedia’s utility and I’m as likely to use it as any other information source, although – as with any other source, printed material included – my falsehood detectors are always on. I am a librarian after all.

Nowadays, public librarians need to learn how best to use Wikipedia, not how to discredit it. I’m therefore delighted to have a guest post below from Jason Evans, Wikipedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales.  He’s got a lot of useful points to make and there’s a few things there – like the thousands of free images and texts and the ability to use it for local purposes  – that will be directly handy and not universally known about.  So, it’s time to embrace Wikipedia. Because it’s a  good resource and public libraries should, like millions of people, learn how best to use it for our purposes. And, if you don’t believe me, it’s always worth trying to add that entry on the chocolate teapots.

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Wikipedia – Benefits to Public Libraries – By Jason Evans, Wikipedian in Residence, National Library of Wales

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Labouring the Point, Honours and Autism

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Open Minds Open Libraries … but what’s on the #SCLHorizons?

Editorial

It’s been a busy week. The conference of Unison stewards on public libraries was illuminating, with a brilliant presentation from Neath Port Talbot (coming here soon) on a step by step guide to campaign. Other key messages from the event was a disillusionment with Labour’s record on public libraries and a strong desire for Unison itself to involve itself more strongly.  By the way, if you want Labour or Unison to up its game, talk to them. There’s a lot going on and libraries will be missed if we do not make ourselves heard.  Speaking of which, we got to talking about good slogans.  “Open Minds Open Libraries, Closed Libraries Closed Minds” was popular, although there were others.  I even did a quick poll on Twitter:

I know “Libraries Change Lives” is a CILIP slogan but I can’t see them protesting if it’s on every billboard.  Then on Thursday, I visited the Idea Store in Whitechapel. I’ll be doing a separate review on that but the messages are clear from that: invest in good libraries in popular locations, promote reading and don’t get distracted. Simples. Then, speaking to the CILIP ILIG group in the evening gave me lots more to think about, not least about the long term future of this blog. More on that, again, another time.

A conference I’m not attending, but would have loved to, is the annual SCL gathering. This meeting of a large proportion of the chief librarians has often been shrouded in mystery in the past but it’s becoming more and more open, with many tweeting from it and a full programme of talks being available. Check #SCLHorizons on Twitter to see what the bosses are (publicly at least) thinking.

Elsewhere, the ruling Labour group in Brighton and Hove have been beaten by a combined Green/Tory vote over libraries. There’s going to be strike in Barnet over the deep cuts to libraries planned there…. and there’s the general new background of councils steamrollering cuts despite public protest UK wide. Over in South Korea, on the other hand, they’ve just announced further major investment in libraries. Odd that.

Right, now I’m off to meet a coachload of Ghanaians who are visiting us, including one very excited eleven year who will be staying in our house. So, if my next post is late, you’ll know why.  Have a good weekend everyone.
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Waiting for things to happen

Editorial

I’m doing a talk on the challenges facing UK public libraries to a Unison library seminar on Monday (6th) and the presentation is below if you want an idea of what I think are (some) of the main points. The day is looking at how we should campaign for libraries and my talk is an introductory scene setter, giving the challenges but carefully not giving any ideas on solutions. This is just as well because there’s an awful lot of confusion about what a “solution” to the current crisis in public libraries may be. The Taskforce is emphasising pragmatism and strategic development and are being strongly criticised for taking too long about it and not being ambitious enough by campaigners. Many councils are deciding on budgets that force library chiefs to looks at hollowing out, volunteers or commercial support to meet the cuts and are, again, strongly criticised for doing so by campaigners. On the other foot, many people in senior library positions, I am sure, would criticise campaigners for wanting a minimum of change and special pleading for the libraries sector or solutions that it is unlikely the current Government would ever agree to. Observers take all sorts of positions, from thinking libraries are no longer needed to being passionately in favour of libraries.

I’m not sure where I am in this – after all, I’m an observer, library manager and campaigner all in one – but I do know that the more we do not move forward, the more the real creators of all this mess are smiling or, more accurately, carrying on blissfully unaware. As long as the politicians (sadly, still, of both main parties, although notable far less so under Corbyn)  in London believe in austerity and fail to understand the central importance of libraries to communities, to education, welfare, equality and, ultimately, the success of the nation then little arguments don’t matter. We need clear big strong arguments, memorable statements and images and unified campaigns to get this done. Or perhaps that’s just me going for special pleading. But something needs doing, together, by all of us. And I’m waiting, as an observer, manager and campaigner, for this to happen.

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Nearly 9 people visit a UK library every single second. I knew I was busy ...

It’s not enough to just be aware of what is going on in UK libraries

Editorial

There’s some great things going on in public libraries abroad: the drone that flies above a children’s library in Norway scanning RFID tags is getting a lot of publicity for example, but there’s a lot more besides. This post includes: the fantastic First 5 Forever campaign in Queensland which has really raised the profile and funding for libraries there; a superb library Instagram account (which itself includes lots of good ideas); getting fathers into libraries; a hilarious library promotional video and an example of a US library (why is it always US libraries? Don’t they have emergency services?) helping out in a crisis. I started off this blog six years ago to get an idea of what is going on nationally, and I think that has succeeded, but it’s equally as important to look at what is going on internationally, and to learn from it.  I hope you do too.

Not least because UK news is often somewhat depressing, of course – and we have consultations on library cuts announced in no less than three different councils this time – but we also have other trends. The pressure on parish and town councils to take over public libraries appears to be gathering apace.  In addition, it’s notable that the two library-led trusts – Suffolk and York – tend  to be reporting only good news. That may mean they’re brilliant or it may mean that they have excellent public relations, or both.

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Wales, Standards and Library Drones

Editorial

I’ve never come away from a conference without learning anything and my couple of days at the CILIP Wales conference in Swansea was no exception.  Kathy Settle of the Taskforce made very clear that library standards had absolutely no chance of adoption in England, Nick Poole talked about strategy and disagreed with Kathy as diplomatically as possible. I also up a lot about what was happening in Wales: some pretty unsettling stuff but a lot of co-operation as well and good people who cared for libraries. The talks concluded by a very entertaining talk on cycling around Scandinavian libraries which made very clear that they spend way more than the UK on the service: a fact borne out today by a post describing a new children’s library which looks utterly fantastic and, apparently (I’m not sure I still entirely believe this), even has drones flying around scanning RFID tags.

My big thanks to CILIP Wales, not least for the surprise presentation of the inaugural Welsh Library Champion of the Year Award. Knew I should have worn a tie. It was a pleasure to hear how useful PLN was in Wales and, interestingly, how many followed on Twitter. My best wishes and thanks to you all.

Ideas

  • RFID drone – Drone scans library to locate all books.

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