It’s an honour

Editorial

Good to see computers being replaced in Lancashire this week but, overall, the Huddington Post estimates an impressive 4000 public computers have been lost since 2010. Perhaps if public libraries were more respected then not so many would have been killed. Libraries Connected have a plan about that, wanting to encourage more people to be nominate especially impressive public librarians for the Honours List. You can read about it below, and my thoughts on why you should in a separate post. Another MBE here or BEM there won’t make all the difference of course but it can’t hurt. What will make a difference is yourselves, working hard to make your library services as good as possible and spreading the news that libraries are worth more than any honour.

Changes

Ideas

National news

  • Book Aid International: Speaking Up For Reading – Princh. “as part of many of the programmes we run with libraries across the world, we include a grant for an event to promote the library and reading in the way they think would impact their local context best. While format and exact content of these events may vary, there are some common elements which tend to make reading promotion events a success.”
  • Dominic West: Why I find libraries so sexy – Belfast Telegraph. “West, who chooses erotic poetry to share as one of his books on the BBC podcast, says he finds libraries “the sexiest places in the world”. “I think because it’s transgressive, because you’re supposed to be quiet,” he says. “Maybe because it was my student days when I spent most of my time in a library, and I suppose I found my eyes wandering, most of the time, off these sacred texts on to whoever was in there. “But I’d always try and have a go in the library… It’s obviously sexy, or a church. Churches are the funniest places in the world, libraries are the sexiest,” he said”
  • Exclusive: 4,000 Public Computers Slashed From Libraries And Jobcentres Under ‘Austerity Cuts’ –  HuffPost. “HuffPost UK can reveal new research by the House of Commons Library and information from parliamentary questions has shown 3,761 computers have been slashed from libraries since 2010, and 352 from job centres this year. In the last year alone, 680 computers with internet access were cut from libraries in England. The data lays bare the extent to which access to computers in public places is being diminished at a time when government services are increasingly moving to digital-only application models.”
  • A librarian is a librarian but an OBE is an OBE by Ian Anstice – Libraries Connected. “…If you know someone who is deserving of an award, please nominate them. It will please them, despite any modest protestations to the contrary, it will help them, and it’s a way of showing your appreciation, even if your identity will – depending on the award – stay confidential. And, also, it will help the standing of the profession. Frankly, it’s a non brainer. Nominate that colleague you admire or appreciate today”

“The New Year 2020 Honours round is now underway, and we would love to hear from you if there is someone you work with that you believe is deserving of a National Honour. Libraries Connected are looking for library people who are outstanding at what they do, have demonstrated innovation, and changed the way things are done to make life better for other people. We are really keen to identify people from all levels of library teams, from Heads of Service to frontline workers. Honours are not only an accolade for an individual, but also help shine a light on a whole team and the wider library sector.

If there is someone you would like Libraries Connected to consider nominating for a National Honour please email me at helen.drakard@librariesconnected.org.uk letting me know:

– Their name & job title/role.

– Details of relevant work or volunteering they’ve done.

– How they have changed things

– What makes them different from others doing the same thing

– How they have improved things for other people”

  • Happiness is the silence of libraries. Don’t close them – Evening Standard. “Happiness can be built on access to books, DVDs and back issues of BBC Wildlife magazine. As a free local resource it brings together characters from all walks of life and gives people what they need without trying to sell them things they don’t. It’s a great shame so many libraries have been forced to close, with more set to follow.  I can make do without ping-pong, “micro-roasted” coffee and “super-fast” wi-fi. Thank God there’s no 24-hour access — I love being asked to leave at 5.30pm.”
  • UXLibsV – Sponsored places – UX Lib. User Experience in Libraries conference 17 to 19 June, London, “We are very aware that the cost of our conference might be out of reach for some library staff, especially those working in public libraries and further education. This year we are offering 2 sponsored delegate places in recognition of this fact. As an organisation that also actively seeks to support diversity, we are also offering an additional sponsored place to a BME delegate (from any sort of library).who otherwise could not attend.”

Axiell Selflib
International news

  • New Zealand Librarians of Christchurch – Matt Finch / Mechanical Dolphin. “The Tūranga central library in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand went into lockdown during the terror attacks which occurred in the city centre last Friday.” … “Librarians onsite looked after the visitors in their care, while the service’s social media team provided emergency communications, as they previously had during the earthquakes which struck the city in 2010 & 2011”

“Christchurch’s librarians have been tested by crises that no community should face, and proved themselves to be brave, compassionate, effective, and resolute. They are heroes of the information profession. Spare a thought for them this weekend.”

  • USA – Grand Prairie Launches Vending Library in Epic Rec Center – Library Journal. “When the center opened last November, visitors were greeted with “Epic Reads,” a library vending unit located prominently in the new building’s atrium. From the outset of the new center’s planning process, which began in 2014, “we wanted to make sure we got public input, and [we] did a series of focus groups throughout town. One of the key components that kept coming up was a library element,”

Local news by authority

  • Cambridgeshire – Do you think Cambridgeshire libraries should scrap computer charges? – Cambridgeshire Live. “If this proposal is agreed, computers will be free for all to use all the time from 1st April and the library service will look at how to manage demand for computers so they are available for those who most need them. Furthermore, an upgrade of the 330 library computers is set to be rolled out later this year to improve the service for all.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cash-strapped Cheshire councils have sold assets worth £111m – Cheshire Lives. “The former Frodsham Library sold for £340,000. And the site once occupied by Hoole Library went for £250,000 to make way for St Martins Academy Free School. “
  • Devon – Welcoming Alex Kittow as our new Chief ExecutiveLibraries Unlimited. “Alex is currently Chief Executive of Bristol-based charity Southmead Development Trust and will succeed Libraries Unlimited’s founding Chief Executive, Ciara Eastell OBE, to oversee the running of our 54 libraries and four mobile libraries across Devon and Torbay.” … “Alex has been in his current role for nine years, where he has played a pivotal role in increasing the traded income, securing and delivering a number of contracts and grant-funded projects.”. No prior library experience apart from when his children use them.
  • Essex – Essex County Council Libraries Consultation – Mark Francois MP. MP pleads for two libraries not to have reduced funding.
  • Best-selling author owes all to libraries – Halstead Gazette. Vasseem Khan: “When I was growing up there was little money to buy books in my house and so libraries helped fuel my love of reading. Without them I wouldn’t be an author today. ”
    • 47 community groups interested in running libraries in Essex – Gazette Standard. Councillor responsible for libraries says “The meeting on March 12 has been called by the chairman at the request of six councillors to debate a motion about libraries. This is a debate rather than a decision. The meeting is not being held to decide the future of any library or to consider petitions. The decision on whether or not to adopt the draft libraries strategy will be taken by Cabinet, likely at some point in the summer. The consultation closed last month and as I have said on a number of occasions, no decisions have been made as we are analysing the 21,000 responses.”
    • Essex library closures: Bid to change proposals fails – BBC News. “At an extraordinary meeting of Essex County Council an amendment was passed which did not rule out closures, but agreed to explore using libraries as community hubs. The council said it needs to “bring libraries into the 21st Century”. Opponents have described the plans as “an act of cultural vandalism” … “The meeting had been called after more than 57,000 signatures were gathered for a petition opposing the changes, which would take effect by 2024.”
  • Lancashire – Faster wi-fi to speed up Lancashire libraries computers – Lancashire Telegraph. “Spending of up to £2million was authorised by councillors for the upgrade last week. Lancashire County Council’s cabinet approved installing 584 public access computers to replace the current equipment across every one of its libraries.”
    • East Lancashire libraries move to help autistic users – Lancashire Telegraph. “Clitheroe, Bacup and Nelson are to introduce a weekly calm hour for users on the autistic spectrum. During the special 60 minutes they will be even quieter than usual. During this hour the noise in the libraries will be further reduced by measures including the muting of barcode scanners, scheduling no events or activities and the lights being dimmed.”
    • The Lancashire libraries looking for a little help from their friends – Pendle Today. “Residents interested in supporting the development of their local library are being encouraged to set up a friends group. Currently, fewer than half of Lancashire’s 66 libraries have a support association attached to them and there are opportunities to establish new groups in all corners of the county.”
  • Newcastle – Newcastle East End Library to move in May – and users fear the worst – Chronicle Live. “A community library in Byker will be relocated in May amid council cost-cutting plans, it has been confirmed. The East End Library and Community Hub is being merged into the Shields Road Customer Service Centre as Newcastle City Council slashes its libraries budget by £1.7m. Concerns were raised this week that the latest changes at the library could spark an exodus of visitors, after a previous reduction in opening hours caused numbers to drop by 84%”.
  • Northern Ireland – Blogging for Wellness’ with Libraries NI – Derry Journal. “The events will help attendees explore how they can improve their lives through blogging and hear success stories shared from a variety of other bloggers. Delivered by TrainingMatchmaker.com the events will have bloggers, vloggers and podcasters reveal their motivations behind blogging, why they started and share top tips on what has helped them become successful.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Pembrokeshire County Council says new library a huge success – Western Telegraph. “Glan-yr-afon/The Riverside – Haverfordwest’s new flagship cultural centre – is proving to be a “huge success with the public,” the county council has said. Figures just released reveal that it attracted over 30,000 visitors in January alone – the facility’s first full month of operation.” … “This is up by over 25,000 – 520 per cent – on the January 2018 figure for the temporary library off Dew Street. “
  • Powys – Campaigners to step up efforts to secure Knighton Library’s long-term future – Powys Country Times. “The possible closure of Knighton Library at the Community Centre, due to withdrawal of funding by Powys County Council (PCC), has been averted, at least for the next 12 months. News of the reprieve has been welcomed by the Mayor of Knighton, Cllr Nick Johns, but calls have also been made for residents of the area to act now to help preserve its long-term future.”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Budget cuts the main reason RCT’s library service failed to meet staffing and opening hour targets – Wales Online. “In the annual assessment of RCT’s libraries in 2017-18 the judgement was that they are “average” when compared with other services across Wales. But the assessment did say that a reduction in staff hours and opening hours had negatively affected performance in terms of targets with officers pointing to reducing budgets causing these cuts to hours. Councils submit an annual return to the Museums, Archives and Libraries Division (MALD) of the Welsh Government and an independent panel then assesses the return and the library service’s performance.”
  • Somerset – Plan to relocate Street Library after funding withdrawn – Somerset Live. “On 5 November 2018, Somerset County Council withdrew funding for 15 (of 34) libraries, including Street. The council hopes that many of these libraries will aim to develop “Community Library Partnerships” where communities would support library buildings in partnership with the local authority. Library services will continue to be delivered in Street and good progress is being made towards signing a partnership agreement between Street Parish Council, the Friends of Street Library group and Somerset County Council which would secure the long-term future of a library in Street.”
    • Somerset County Council signs Community Library Partnerships – County Gazette. “Six Community Library Partnerships were signed last week, as volunteers and groups stepped forward to take on responsibility of their local library. Existing library buildings will remain open, with community partners working together with Somerset County Council in the following six communities: Bruton, Nether Stowey, North Petherton, Somerton, Watchet and Wiveliscombe from April 1.”
    • Bright future for Watchet Library – County Gazette. “Oliver Woodhams of Somerset County Council’s Library Services visited on Tuesday, March 5 to officially establish a community supported library partnership. The deal means Watchet Library has been saved from what otherwise would have meant closure as a result of SCC’s 2018 strategic review of library services in Somerset.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Mary Poppins, a Hungry Caterpillar and a Wizard walk into Barry Library… – Glamorgan GEM. World Book Day: “Residents were invited to attend the fancy dress competition and take part in a whole range of children’s literature-inspired activities.”
  • Warrington – Libraries matter for all our futures says Steven Broomhead – Warrington Guardian. “For the past year I had the privilege of chairing the government’s National Libraries Task Force which is about providing leadership, ambition and support to public libraries in England. ” … “The social and economic return on the tax payers investment is huge – estimates suggest that every £1 invested in libraries produces a return of up to £7. Unfortunately as austerity has bitten local councils the investment in libraries has reduced by £213m nationally since 2010 with a 50 per cent reduction in Warrington. In 2016 I chaired the Warrington Local Libraries Partnership Group that with council agreement determined that all of our libraries should remain open and receive new £1m+ capital investment in the buildings and books.” … “The number of book issues in our town has fallen by 20 per cent in the past five years but the number of visits has increased partly due to an increased range of activities provided in the libraries ‘space’. ”
    • Padgate Library set for Kate Ellis murder mystery premiere – Warrington Guardian. “Kate Ellis’ Murder in the Lemon Grove will be performed for the first time at Padgate Library from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on Thursday, April 4. The event has been organised by Livewire’s community librarian team. Chris Everett from Livewire said: “We’re delighted to announce the premiere of this new murder mystery whodunnit by Kate Ellis.”

If not now, when? Plus a fair bit of good news

Editorial

A fair amount of good news today. In a subject close to my heart – not least because I’ve seen children cry and people walk away from libraries over the issue – another library service, Blackpool,  has announced that it will get rid of all fines. That makes nine services in the UK so far and I understand that there’s a lot of interest out there from other ones as well. The debate about practicality of waiving fines seems to be over before it even started: the time has come for getting rid of fining your customers,  it’s just working out how to fund it.  In other news, Powys has backed down from £200k cuts thus continuing the tradition of Welsh and Scottish councils being more willing to change their minds on the issue than their English counterparts. Cambridge has scrapped new computer charges after noticing they were only making one tenth of the expected income, due to, well, the people who use them not having tons of money. And a Suffolk library is being refurbished and having its opening hours extended. It’s a joy to report on libraries today frankly. My thanks also to Liz Gardner for taking the time in this post to explain the idea and practice behind having video bedtime stories. It strikes me as a really good and duplicatable idea. Get on it, Public Libraries News readers.

Finally, it’s the couple of weeks of the national library petition. It’s got nearly 33,000 signatures already but could do with a ton more. Get on it, sign it and tell people you know how important it is. Because, of if not now, when?

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Night libraries

Editorial

A tweet that said “what if public libraries were open late every night and we could engage in public life there instead of having to choose between drinking at the bar and domestic isolation” has been liked, at time of press, 223 000 times. Now one suspects that this is mainly because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex, with over 3 million followers, tweeted on it with a comment but still, that’s a lot of people agreeing with it, which suggests some pretty heft pent up demand.

So let’s look at the concept of “night libraries”. If a neutral observer looked at the opening hours of the typical public library, there’d be a few conclusions to be drawn. One is that they’re largely for people who do not work as they tend to have the bulk of opening hours during the daytime, only a few hours each week in the evening and, mostly, one would be lucky if they were open for more than half a day over the entire weekend. Another conclusion could be, if one were more cynical than I, that they were there to be suited to staff desires and availability – who wants to work late night after late night? – in some cases rather than that of the public. Yet another would be that, well, in many areas being open in the evening would not work anyway: there’s some fairly dead areas out there after dark and antisocial behaviour would spike, especially in places like public libraries that are quite rightly open to all. There’s also the comment, which I really like, by @Librareon, who said “Hey! I’d settle for being able to afford day time libraries” which gets to the heart of the problem: opening hours cost money and libraries aren’t really awash with that commodity at the mo.

But, effectively, it still means that the majority of libraries are only open at times that suit those who, for whatever reason, do not work. There is demand, especially in cities, for libraries to open for longer. I’ve seen this at Storyhouse, open pretty much to 10 or 11pm most evenings, including Sundays, and I’m sure Chester is not unique. The challenge, for those areas where it would work, if we want to widen their appeal, is to find ways of doing it. And that means the money. I’m not sure Open+ would appeal to the tweeter really, although I’d be interested to hear otherwise. With Chester, it was a combination with a theatre (and a decision very early on not to barrier the library when the staff there went home). That may be the solution in some lucky places. In others, there will be other ways. I hope to describe them here and, being I write these posts at night, perhaps one day in one of them.

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Going bye the board?

Editorial

The big talking point on library-land social media the last few days has been something on the face of it pretty boring: Hertfordshire are changing their byelaws to include volunteers. The change means volunteers have the right to use the byelaws and puts them more on a par with paid staff. Presumably, Herts are worried that, if an incident occurs, then volunteers, who are sole staffers of many of their branches, with more cuts on the cards, would otherwise not be able to do legally do anything about it other than call the police. Also it suggests a whole bunch of other library services who rely on the unpaid to keep their libraries open will need to do the same.

The DCMS needs to approve the change but there will be no problem there. Nor will there be with Libraries Connected who – despite its recent public awareness of the impact cuts – has been an enabler for replacing salaried personnel with the free alternative almost since the start of the phenomenon. Some hope CILIP may raise a warning. My view is that this is an inevitable acceptance or, depending on your view, a further sliding down of the slippery slope, of the consequences of accepting volunteers as replacements for staff that started at around the same time austerity kicked off. Some would put the date earlier. Inevitable or not, it’s hard to see what else needs to be done before there’s effectively no difference between the paid and unpaid in at least some UK public libraries. Well, apart from qualifications, training, average time commitment and salary that is.

The rest of the news is remarkably good. Camden is refreshing its IT. This is, fair enough, every service should do anyway but these days is not a given. The proposed closure of several Moray libraries has been cancelled and there’s even a couple of re-openings, two new libraries and a refurbishment. This is brilliant news. Great news also for York Explore which has won a further, and remarkably long, 15 year extension to its contract. It looks like they have had to accept a reasonable reduction in budget to do it, though, although the mutual (which does not have to answer freedom of information requests) and the council have been a bit vague about that.

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A blueprint for libraries … and watching Bridgend with interest

Editorial

There’s something big and national going on at the moment called the “Blueprint project” going on at the moment looking at how public libraries should position themselves in the future. It’s early days yet but it looks like those involved want regional development organisationss. Being involved in one of these at the moment, Time To Read North West, I can attest how useful this would be. Although I’ve discovered 32 such examples of UK public libraries working together, there is still very little co-operation in some areas and much resultant duplication of effort. So it’s good that that may be change. I’m less sure about other changes listed like to the “legislative framework, funding routes, quality standards and digital connectivity”, for a variety of reasons. Particularly concerning is the “funding routes” one, which from what I can piece together, is pushing for more franchising out of central government work and also commercial partnerships. The problem with both is, of course, the danger of losing unique selling points of the library – like neutrality – in favour of simple money. Chiefs will need to be very careful about that, which will be hard when money is being waved around, and the initial experience of working with Sopra Steria, did not bode well, although I understand things are better now.

Well, that’s big picture stuff, let’s get granular now …  it’s good to see the Wirral may be getting some investment and that a £150k cut in Brent has been cancelled. A move towards outsourcing, which looked very likely, in Swindon has been cancelled, possibly due to the leading politician in favour of it no longer being in charge or possibly due to other factors like a concern that a non-local concern may take it over. In the bad news side of the coin, there’s warnings of cuts in Aberdeenshire and Bridgend. The last has already outsourced its library service so it will be interesting to see if the Awen Leisure Trust, which runs it now, will take such cuts lying down or will publicly protest them. It’s been fascinating to see such open disagreements happen in one or two Trusts, which I see as a bid advantage of them, so I’ll be watching Bridgend with interest.

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Diversity and austerity

Editorial

I come from a fairly typical background in South Wales. My parents could not afford all the books I wanted and I had to catch the bus to the local library . Working hard at the local comprehensive I made my way to university in Exeter and then Sheffield and thus to libraries. I did not think at the time if my capability in doing this was in any way due to being male or white. But being I clearly remember racism and sexism being a big thing in 1970s and even the 80s I suspect it helped. So it’s good to see the need for diversity being recognised on the national level, not least because of the fact that, shockingly, 97% of the library profession is white compared to 88% of the population as a whole. And I remember in the 1990s when I started working that everyone thought, as a man, that I’d be on a fast track to promotion. Such thoughts may be less overt now but I suspect they’re still there.

I get accused sometimes of singing the praises rather too much of librarians and this is true. I love libraries and think there are few roles more rewarding to society and self than working towards the library ideal. But I’d be wilfully blind not to admit that there are problems in the profession. Last post, I touched upon the lack of apparent importance given to a core service, indeed the book is to many the core, by many in the sector. A rebalancing slightly away from gushing about makerspaces (which will only, when it comes down to it, ever be a side activity) and theatre shows (likewise) towards actually making our book offer look professional is long overdue. And this lack of diversity is something else that needs to be addressed.

The protests against the cuts in Essex continue to dominate the news. They clearly love their underfunded and under-appreciated (by the council) libraries there and it’s great to see. Whether the protests will actually achieve anything, other than possibly extract a few token concessions, is in question as English councils do not have a brilliant track record with actually listening during library consultations. It’s notable, in fact, that councils are far more likely change tack after reading the results of them in the other parts of the UK. Why this is may be open to question: possibly due to their being less True Believer Conservatives in power but presumably also to them questionably being (slightly) less affected by austerity. An example of this is Neath Port Talbot in this post who have cancelled four closures down to the public response. Good to see. And I hope the campaigners in Essex can take heart from it, and their councillors listen.

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Hello Library Sector, it’s me, Book

Editorial

Libraries Connected have done some work to their (previously very sparse) website and added links to some useful resources. There’s not much new there – and, my, it shows how few free resources there are for reading – but it’s good to see them there. Speaking of reading, LC (I can’t help but call it Elsie) have done some nice statistics summaries, which show that more than three quarters of library visitors are there for the books. I find the lack of serious projects or indeed discussion, or any kind of focus, on books one of the biggest black holes in libraries in the last decade. By rights, there should be initiative after initiative in boosting what is very much our core product. But no. apart from some sterling work by the Reading Agency, the focus of much of the sector has been on what are, ultimately, side projects like makerspaces and coding. These are great to be sure but there seriously needs to be some rebalancing going on.  Those books on the shelves are important and the lack of serious training or concentration on boosting their use is as dangerous as the repeated cuts to their funding over the years. Another curious stat gleaned from the LC tables is that, using the figure of 2,080 hours work per year per 1 FTE, a full eighteen times more work is done in libraries by paid staff than by volunteers. Yes, despite all the coverage, it’s the poor (down 5% in one year, salary freezes or pay increases below inflation for a decade) employees who are still doing the vast amount of the actual work.

The news that the National Literacy Trust is boasting about working with shoe shops to boost literacy is as puzzling as library services who are disregarding books and paid staff. NLT, please, dudes, hello. We’re Over Here. Work with us. Local authority-wise, there’s some good news in Buckinghamshire, Cornwall (who have, by the way, quietly passed a ton of their libraries to parish/town councils) and Milton Keynes. The £200k reduction in the previously announced big £1m Worcestershire cut is entirely offset by a £200k cut in Powys. Finally, the new post announced in CILIP has, to say the least, raised some eyebrows on social media after the deep job losses that occurred last year.

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A couple of hundred ideas for public libraries, plus coverage in the Express and Independent

Editorial

Considering that it has been a fairly quiet few days, what a heck of a lot of national newspaper coverage. The Express continues its quite impressive “crusade” for libraries with a couple of big of articles this weekend and, I understand, more coming in the next week. The newspaper, not known for its pro-public service sympathies, is publishing a few pro-library articles a week at the moment, which is brilliant as I suspect the decision-makers tend to discount the Guardian (the normal reporter on library matters). The Independent too has published three stories this weekend too, which is fantastic. And all of these articles in both papers have been entirely positive about the sector which is great.

Oh, and I love the “50 times libraries surprised everyone” article by Boredpanda. There were a couple on there I’ve not seen before, including having the books lying down and spine up so people can clearly see their titles. I’ve been collecting ideas and innovations for public libraries for a few years now, by the way, and recently updated by seriously nerdy list here.

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Preparing for the worst is useful but one can sometimes miss things

Editorial

Libraries Connected are doing their first official seminar in June, focusing on “what a future library offer might look like”. The first presentation mentioned is uncontroversial enough, being from Historypin who are a small tech concern dealing with small groups, local history and empathy, very trendy right now. This is the shiny bit that is nice and one expects. Then things get interesting with the second choice, who is the Chief Exec of Barking and Dagenham on rethinking public services. That London borough has rethought library services to such an extent that they have more than halved their budget since 2010. Then there’s a talk from Singapore libraries, which as reported on last post are doing wonderful things and I think can genuinely give pointers on how to run a top-notch library service, albeit in an environment without austerity. But gosh, the big raising of the eyebrows goes to the last speaker, an assistant director from Ealing. That council, in case you don’t remember, have just announced in committee papers the deepest potential cut I can recall seeing in a decade of reporting on public libraries, from £2.2m in 2019 to a pathetic £566k in 2022.

But. to those of you getting angry about this, I invite you to look at it differently. Another way to look at it is to say that the first LC seminar shows  isn’t messing about. It’s effectively preparing chiefs for how to cope with the worse austerity can throw at them.  But I would question the absence of anything to do with books or improving existing traditional services on the menu. When faced with the oncoming Austerity train, I guess it’s not many people that stop to look at the state of the tracks, so it’s understandable. But there are many library services out there who are not facing deep cuts, appearances to contrary. And, of these, there’s a ton of branches out there whose staff do not know how to, for instance, properly promote or display their book-stock because they’ve never actually been shown. Perhaps there should be a seminar on that soon. In the meantime, I asked LC why Ealing was asked and this is their answer below, which is fair enough and appreciated. I find it particularly encouraging that LC is not pretending that everything is perfect in the public library world. This continues a welcome trend which I have noticed before and will help retain everyone’s sanity (“am I just imagining these cuts?”), especially when one sees below what Northants has done in the last year (e.g. wiping out most its management) and one stops to consider that Bradford has announced three times worse.

“Libraries Connected are aware of the proposed changes to Ealing’s library services to have six libraries directly run by the council and seven community managed libraries run in partnership with local community organisations. These proposals are due to go out to public consultation next month and until that consultation has concluded we will not know what the future library provision for Ealing will look like. But we do know that during Carole’s eight years at Ealing she has demonstrated a strong commitment to safeguarding library services, winning a Guardian award in 2013 for joining with other local boroughs to protect libraries at risk of closure. Carole is working on a new library strategy for Ealing and as many of our members are currently in the position of trying to maintain their service provision in the face of unprecedented cuts,  we remain convinced that Carole Stewart will be a valuable addition to the Libraries Connected seminar.”

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Who Does What In English Public Libraries

Editorial

I was asked the other day by someone reasonably senior in a library service for a guide for which bodies do what in the public libraries sector. It strikes me that I’ve never actually seen one so I’ve started creating one. It’s simple and misses a few things – sorry Carnegie and ASCEL, there’s note enough space and I’m not going to touch the minefield of volunteer libraries and parish councils – but should give some ideas. Also, some of it is open to interpretation. I got some push back from various people on Twitter about how certain bodies aren’t doing their jobs and that’s always going to happen. So, rather, use the chart as an idea for what should be happening, not necessarily what you feel actually is. And let me know if I have anything actually wrong.

I tweeted an original draft of this chart on Saturday night and it’s been amended a bit since then. One of the things I’ve never really properly grasped before is that while the DCMS has the duty of superintending libraries, it is the MHCLG who provided much of the funding, which is set-up that Nick Poole notes is bound to cause problems. Judging from Twitter, a few people are shocked by how small some of these bodies actually are. Anyway, comment directly if you wish or email me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk with your thoughts. The chart is free to use and share under CC BY. If the image below does not open properly, it’s available via Google Docs. or via this tweet and, if worse comes to the worst and you’re reading this on a council machine with security blocks on it everywhere, email me and I’ll send it to you that way.

Wait until you realise it’s not the same outside of England.

Changes

Ideas

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