Axiell Selflib: Simple, flexible self-issue softwared for any tablet

Dublin’ down: Eire bets the future of libraries on removing fines, staffless technology and investment

Editorial

The Republic of Ireland has come up with a strategy to double library usage. The key headline ways of doing so are by removing fines, upgrading buildings, and by increasing opening hours via staffless technology, with around 5 million euros (£50m equivalent pro rata) investment. This staffless technology is to be used in addition to staffing and, not as is often the case in the UK, part of a budget-cutting programme. Perhaps as interestingly, the scheme shows that Eire has the motivation and the infrastructure to impose such a plan.

Such is not the case in England, and to a lesser extent the other British nations, where the Brexit-obsessed government has done very little for libraries and is happy to neglect them, doing the least it can to ameliorate the effect of its own austerity programme while applauding those communities forced to replace paid staff with volunteers. In the vacuum that this creates, the remaining national bodies with responsibility for libraries, Arts Council England and the newly reminted Libraries Connected (SCL), are highly limited in what they can do with the 151 different English library services and it is up to individual councils as to what happens. Compared to Eire, this looks like not so much a strategy as trying to make do the best one can do without one. Few can doubt which of the two countries has more chance of success.

By the way, my apologies for being so slow in creating this post, almost a fortnight after the last one. I have been in some pain due to what I suspect was a mid-life-crisis inspired jogging injury but the new medication appears to help. Wish me luck for the MR scan tomorrow.

Changes

National news

  • Axiell Launches ‘SelfLib’ : Self -Issue Software for a More Sustainable Library Service – Axiell. “SelfLib is a simple self-issue web -app that runs
    on any tablet, providing library patrons with simple check-in / check-out functionality from anywhere in the library . Being both flexible and
    scalable, SelfLib helps Library Managers deliver the library service more efficiently”
  • Councils have sold off 4,000 surplus assets in the past year. That is not nearly enough – Conservativehome. “Public Libraries News lists ten that are closing this year (including four mobile libraries.) It also lists five new ones. Usually the closures are by Labour councils. That is out of around 3,000.  Locality favours the option of a Council handing over the management of a community asset to a community organisation. This might also involve giving it away or selling it for below the market value. That could well be reasonable and often happens. But there might be cases where no community offer has come forward. Perhaps a library has a tiny number of users. Or the building is in very poor repair. Perhaps it might make sense to sell the building and use the proceeds to provide a new library elsewhere.” … “By selling surplus assets councils can reduce their debt and thus their interest costs. There is also the maintenance, security and insurance costs on all the empty buildings.” see also Thousands of public buildings and spaces in England sold off a year – Guardian. ““Everyone of us can think of a local public building or outside space we love and use, from libraries to lidos and town halls to youth centres. They are owned by the public and they’re being sold off for short-term gain to fill holes in council budgets. “Many hundreds of local community groups are stepping up and fighting for community ownership. But they urgently need support and help with startup costs if they are to compete with the commercial developers.”” plus several other news stories.
  • Did you Get Creative this year? – Libraries Taskforce. “Stephen James-Yeoman, Commissioning Editor, Digital, Development and Innovation, BBC Arts, writes about this year’s Get Creative festival, what went on in libraries, and planning for next year.”
Warwickshire have hit on the idea of "RFID poetry", with many retweets for the best ones

Warwickshire have hit on the idea of “RFID poetry”, with many retweets for the best ones

  • The Guardian view on books for all: libraries give us power – Guardian. “Opening facilities for longer but without librarians is a mixed blessing, though still better than closing them, as we do in Britain ” … “Public libraries have been remorselessly attacked as public finances shrink. They have lost books, staff, opening hours and whole branches. ” … “Others say that the internet has abolished much of the need for libraries. But it hasn’t. If anything, it has made them – and librarians – even more useful than before.”

“The Irish government now proposes to extend the opening hours of 200 libraries across the country, from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week. Its ambition to double visitors within five years, instead of treating a decline in users as inevitable, is a striking and welcome contrast with the approach in Britain. But the extra hours are to be unstaffed. The libraries in that time will work only for people who already know how to work them. This is much better than nothing, but it is still a failure to grasp all that public libraries can do for their communities. Libraries are made by librarians, not by the contents of their catalogues, and the people who make them are not just public goods but public treasures.”

  • Helping children and young people to stay safe online and avoid fake news – Libraries Taskforce. “With free access to computers and the internet, public libraries and Schools’ Library Services are playing a huge role in supporting children and young people and their families to stay safe online, recognise fake news and develop critical literacy skills that will help them to be discerning users of the information they find online.” with examples.
  • HP Sprout in the Glass Box – Libraries Taskforce. “One library staff member said “What a fantastic piece of equipment, to be able to scan, draw and create everything so easily, with all the different ways to interact with the Sprout.” Another: “It helps keep the creative flow going without having to think about how to change the size or position of an image or object, you can just touch it, move it, and resize it. Done”
  • Paul Anthony McDermott: Why return a library book if it’s all fine and dandy? – Times (behind paywall). “a key pillar of society that has traditionally marked the dividing line between civilisation and living in an ungovernable state. I am of course talking about the library fine.”
  • Public libraries are life-affirming – Guardian / Letters. “Loneliness is the scourge of our disconnected and alienated world, so libraries help to solve a real mental health problem by opening their doors to everyone.”

• Nearly half of public libraries (46%) are seeing an increase in the number of customer requests for help with digital skills and resources

• Only 3% are seeing a decrease in these requests from their customers

• Under 20% of libraries are managing to meet this demand without the support of volunteers or partner organisations

• Almost 70% of libraries are seeing stable or increased use of their public computers

• A notable driver increasing PC usage compared to last year is Universal Credit applicants, with more libraries noticing the effects of local roll out, and over twice as many reporting an impact on usage.

• There are various reasons for a drop in PC use in under 1/3 of libraries. Investment in library Wi- Fi is one positive reason, but most of these libraries (75%) report a combination of factors including shorter opening hours and under investment in their PC estate and facilities.”“The People’s Network makes the library the ‘go-to place’ for using IT: people come here to use the computers in the knowledge that they can be safe, warm and engaged. What we’re really providing is social inclusion…We recently had in a disabled lady who asked for help to transfer some music from CDs onto her phone. The emotional reaction we got when we enabled her to listen to her favourite music on her mobile was just so rewarding.” Warwickshire Libraries

Quotes and statistics from “Netloan Public Library Customer Survey Results 2017

Axiell Selflib

International news

  • Canada – Risotto, robotics and virtual reality: how Canada created the world’s best libraries – Guardian. “Readings and events at the 575-seat theatre at the Toronto reference branch are free, and you’d be well advised to book your ticket early: a recent appearance by Roxane Gay sold out in 88 seconds. Sensibly, the researchers also rated the libraries on the availability of snacks – behind me is a cafe with Balzac quotes on the walls and urns of Margaret Atwood-themed coffee. Not bad, though no match for Montreal’s Grande Bibliothèque, where you can get a risotto dinner with wine.”
  • Eire – Libraries to open seven days a week from 8am to 10pm – Irish Times. “The public will be able to use most libraries seven days a week from between 8am and 10pm under new plans to double the number of visitors over the next five years. Nearly 200 of the State’s 330 public libraries will open for longer, while the public will be able to take and return books when the libraries are unmanned using scanners. The extended hours will give members more opportunities to study, use wifi, hold meetings and, in some cases, use libraries’ free “hot-desking” facilities to work remotely from offices.” see also Ireland’s public libraries 2022 – Designing Libraries and Government’s ambitious five year Library Strategy will abolish fines and roll out “My Open Library” initiative – Minister Ring – DRCD and Positive outcome of ballot by library workers clears way for greater public access to libraries – Minister Ring – DRCD.
  • Global – Bieb-a-palooza – S01A02 – Interview David Lankes – Erik Boekstijn interviews David Lankes about the Atlas of Public Librarianship and Bieb-a-palooza – S01A02 – Interview Rolf Hapel – on the vision behind Dokk1 in Arhus.
  • Japan – Sou Fujimoto: the architect revolutionising libraries … and loos – Guardian. “A forest of books was the idea behind his library for Musashino Art University in Tokyo, built in 2010, where one endless bookshelf spirals around in concentric circles, perforated by doorways and bridges. “Of course, the librarian wanted it to be organised and systematic,” he says, “but the other role of a library is to create space where students can meander and happen upon things they weren’t looking for.” His solution synthesises order and happenstance, with book categories arranged radially around a central counter, while the paths that cut across his spiral allow students to drift and discover.” [Sounds like the architect has created a nightmare for anyone wanting to find a book – Ed.]
  • Poland – Escape room set in a public library in Cracow, Poland (pictures)Ebook Friendly. “It’s no surprise that the escape room set by The Cracow Provincial Public Library was a huge success. Entries were booked in no time, especially that the escape room was open during one night only – on Saturday, June 4, 2016. This was a special night in Poland – The Night of the Libraries. Organized for the second time, it attracted communities to over 1,050 public and school libraries across Poland. The goal was to promote libraries and books, and this year’s key idea was “Slow Reading.”
  • Scandinavia – Scandinavian Libraries: What are they doing differently? – Interview with Peter Alsbjer – Princh. “Libraries worldwide are facing budget cuts and a decline in usage but Scandinavian libraries are fighting this trend. As the upcoming opening of Helsinki’s state-of-the-art Oodi Library has reached the news, Scandinavian Libraries are again in the spotlight.  To find out the reasons why Scandinavian Libraries are so successful, we’ve had a chat with Peter Alsbjer, Regional Library Director at Örebro County Libraries in Sweden.” … “Scandinavian libraries have also played a key role in local non-formal mass education so they have big support from their local communities. “. Staffless technology and volunteers used but more often to add to the service when compared to the UK.
  • USA – More libraries are going fine-free. That’s good for everyone – Washington Post. “Eliminating these fines serves a laudable purpose: The policy can expand access to library services among groups that might otherwise struggle to return materials on time or keep up with payments, including low-income families, people with disabilities and the elderly. In some cases, as patrons return, fine-free policies can actually work to improve library circulation — and even the library’s bottom line. The Pratt, for example, relies on library fines for less than a quarter of a percent of its annual budget, a figure it believes it could largely save in reduced staff time collecting and processing fines”

Local news by authority

  • Anglesey – Moelfre and Newborough libraries set to close but others on Anglesey saved North Wales Chronicle. “The local authority has confirmed that agreements have been secured that mean the libraries at Beaumaris, Cemaes and Rhosneigr will stay open despite once being under threat of closure. “
  • Barnsley – District libraries to get investment as prestigious new town centre branch emerges The Star. “New investment has been announced for Barnsley’s oldest district libraries in an attempt to prevent them being overshadowed by the prestigious new Light Box central branch currently under construction in the town centre.” … “modest but important spending”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Former library building on the market – Journal. “Midsomer Norton Library now has a new space within the Council’s One Stop Shop in the Hollies”
  • Bexley – Sidcup library set to be relocated despite opposition – News Shopper. “Bexley Council was met with a petition signed by 300 people against plans to relocate Sidcup Library to a joint site with a cinema at the former Blockbuster unit in the High Street. ” … “Despite the debate, Bexley Council’s cabinet is set to recommend the library be relocated to the shared site, but ensure that the community is “fully engaged on the internal library design” in addition to the regular planning regulation consultations. “
  • Brent – Brent Culture Celebrating Windrush 70 – Libraries Taskforce. “Through this exhibition and the Windrush 70 programme we sought to explore the myriad ways that the Caribbean diaspora is present in modern life, with influences evident in fashion, music, dance as well as the world of entertainment, sport and politics. With a grant of £15,000 from Arts Council England we were able to embark on a journey to explore the lives of these people and communities within Brent and celebrate their stories.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Planning changes after Hove Library row ‘damages trust in council’ – Argus. “Residents and councillors alike were angered by the way in which the planning process was handled. Criticism centred on the timing of the applications and its associated consultation period – over Christmas and the new year – and a perceived lack of communication with councillors, neighbours and other interested people such as library hours.”
  • Bristol – All of Bristol’s libraries saved – B24/7. “All of the 17 Bristol libraries threatened with closure are to be saved – at least for now. The surprise announcement from mayor Marvin Rees follows a year of bitter uncertainty and public opposition over plans to axe £1.4m from the service as part of a series of biting council cuts. This u-turn from the Labour administration has been welcomed by a number of politicians and campaigners, but it is not the first time the libraries have come under threat and it is unlikely to be the last, with funding only guaranteed until 2020.” see also Bristol City Council finds money ‘to keep every library open’ – BBC.
  • Cheshire East – Early kick-off for the ‘Mischief Makers’ reading challenge – Wilmslow.co.uk. “The Rotary Club Wilmslow Scarecrow Festival Parade will be taking place on Saturday 30th June and many children will be gathering at the library in preparation for this event. As well as signing up for the Summer Reading Challenge, children will be able to make their own Beano badge to wear in the parade and there will be a prize for the best badge”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Her Majesty The Queen and The Duchess of Sussex visit Storyhouse. 14 June 2018. “Yesterday, Storyhouse welcomed Her Majesty The Queen and The Duchess of Sussex to experience a typical day at Storyhouse: listening to storytelling, meeting our Young Leaders, observing community groups using the building and watching a performance in the theatre from Storyhouse’s acting company, as well as one in The Kitchen from over 300 local schoolchildren. “
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Library staff to join in murder mystery evening – So Cheshire. ““This is another example of the quality and diversity of our libraries. They are at the heart of our communities providing wonderful cultural activities for everyone to enjoy.””[Included mainly because I was involved in this one, booking the event and being a murder suspect. Much ad-libbing was done. 58 people came at £5 per ticket, or around 5p per laugh – Ed.]
  • Cornwall – Parishes asked if they would contribute to library learning challenge costsCamelford and Delabole Post. “Cornwall Council has approached Camelford Library to undertake the Summer Reading Challenge, prior to this the library staff go out to outlying primary schools to explain the scheme and then children are encouraged to visit the library during the summer and read a certain number of books to complete the challenge and receive a certificate.”
  • Darlington – Save Darlington’s Crown Street Library: Campaigners’ case returns to the High Court – Northern Echo. “Campaigners will take on Darlington’s council when the battle to save a historic library returns to court next week. On Monday, the Grade II listed Crown Street Library will be at the heart of a two day hearing in Leeds, presided over by a High Court judge.” see also Hopes judicial review will fall in favour of Darlington library staying put – Northern Echo / Letters and Letters: Darlington library closure decision makers notably absent – Northern Echo and Darlington Council had “sound and powerful” reasons to call for library closure – Northern Echo. “The High Court judge ended the hearing with the announcement that she would reserve her judgement, expected to be delivered within weeks.” 85% of those polled sided with the campaigners against the council and Darlington campaigners face council at Leeds Combined Court – Northern Echo.
  • Denbighshire – Town library soon to open new chapterDenbighshire Free Press. “Residents will be able to see the results of the work funded by Denbighshire County Council and the Welsh Government when the library reopens to the public on Monday, June 25. “
  • Derby – Now Derby’s second busiest library has closed indefinitely – here’s whyDerbyshire Live. Pear Tree: “The latest samples show that the concrete flat roof is failing and work has begun to find the best way of repairing it.” … “Councillor Mick Barker, cabinet member for governance and licencing, said: “We will be working hard with officers to come up with a solution. We are looking at all the options, making the building safe in the short term and looking for a long-term solution.”
  • Derby – Watch Derby’s new library take shape in 40 seconds – Derby Telegraph. “Thousands and thousands of books have been transported across the city following the closure of Derby’s Central Library after more than 130 years. Nearly 19,000 books made the journey to the city’s newest library after staff spent two days unpacking them from storage boxes and putting them on shelves.”
  • Devon – Libraries in Devon are changing and now they are more popular than the Eden Project – Devon Live. “Devon’s libraries attracted 2.7 million visits and welcomed over 135,000 regular library users last year, and although book issues are falling, councillors heard that active users of libraries increased by 19 per cent in last year.”
  • East Lothian – Campaigners vow to fight on after Port Seton Library hours cut – East Lothian Courier. “Changes to the opening hours at libraries across East Lothian were introduced by East Lothian Council following a review. As part of that, Port Seton Library’s weekend and evening opening hours were scrapped. “
  • East Sussex – East Sussex libraries will become community libraries – Argus. “Libraries at Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate and Willingdon will open as community libraries after a decision on Thursday by Councillor David Elkin, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for resources. The five were among seven libraries which closed last month after the county council needed to make more savings due to government cuts. Langney and Mayfield libraries remain closed.” see also Pleasure denied library users – Eastbourne Herald. Volunteer keen to take over library criticises council. “it was very disappointing to discover the reality of that support was sadly lacking. East Sussex County Council initially appeared to say that if they could not reassign the remaining period of the lease to the unit where the library was within a 12 week period, we could then move in and get on with our plans to run the library as a community venture with volunteers, much in the way that Old Town Library very successfully operates. ” and Ore community library gets greenlight – Hastings Observer. “Terry Fawthrop, from Ore Community Association, said: “We are very pleased that we were able to step in and keep this much-valued community service open. We will now work with people in Ore to ensure we can provide the kind of community library that they want.”
  • Gloucestershire – Cheltenham library = Fun Palace Libraries Taskforce. “We had zero budget *sobs* so had to rely on people generously donating their time and activities. This was also a plus since research suggests that if a community event is to be successful, the community itself needs to have input.” Includes useful guide.
  • Hampshire – Hampshire library workers told ‘not to mention budget constraints’ or face disciplinary action – News. “A library worker in Hampshire said decisions are increasingly being made based on revenue potential, rather than value to the public, leaving the poorest and most vulnerable without access to services they depend upon.” … We have been explicitly told that we are not allowed to mention budget constraints as an explanation to any enquiries about reduced services, and threatened with disciplinary action if we do so.’”
  • Lancashire – Campaigners’ dismay as library switched to Assembly Rooms Gazette. “The Friends of Lytham Institute and Library have been lobbying for the library to be reopened in the Institute building which was its home for more than a century before it was closed under Lancashire County Council budget cuts in September 2016. But the county council’s cabinet has decided the location is to be the Assembly Rooms in Dicconson Terrace.”
  • Manchester – The Big Ideas Generators project – final report – Libraries Taskforce. “The Big Ideas Generator project ran for 12 months across libraries in the 10 councils in Greater Manchester, through DCMS’ Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Funding. Our award of £250,000 was the highest amount of funding from the scheme, which was administered by Arts Council England. We last wrote in September, when the project had been active for around 3 months. This post updates the results shared then.”. Total income for area estimated at £2,393,674 (against funding of £249, 985)
  • Newcastle – D-day looming for Newcastle library as councillors set to decide its fate – Chronicle. Fenham: “The authority said that the future of the library is under threat as Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) prepare to vacate their offices at the site, but civic centre officials have since clarified that the library is not expected to shut regardless of whether the new plans go ahead.”
  • Northamptonshire – Small victory for Northants library campaigners – Northants Telegraph. “Campaigners fighting the proposed closure of 21 libraries in Northamptonshire have gained a small victory today (June 20) after local politicians voted not to permanently close any libraries until after the result of the forthcoming judicial review is known.”. Campaigner says to council “To you this is about the buildings. We can see the pound signs in your eyes.”
  • North Somerset – Town council to take on library North Somerset Times. “The authority is considering taking over the library and redeveloping the precinct around the building to revitalise the area.” see also Application for potential Clevedon creative hub submitted – North Somerset Times.
  • North Yorkshire – Community-run libraries in North Yorkshire hailed a success Darlington and Stockton Times. “A review of the North Yorkshire County Council cost-cutting measure has found there had been “no significant fall in business” following the changes introduced in April last year. A report to the authority’s corporate and partnerships overview and scrutiny committee found while there had been an drop in active library users at 22 of the libraries, the reduction was less than the previous year and the national average of 14 per cent.” 9000 extra volunteer hours but “Sally Burton, chair of the trustee board at Thirsk Community Library, which has a team of 40 volunteers and a council-paid librarian for 15 hours a week, said with the wide range of activities the volunteers performed, such as fundraising, the council’s volunteer hours figure would be an underestimate.”
  • North Yorkshire – North Yorkshire County Council to increase reliance on volunteers – Richmondshire Today. “North Yorkshire County Council, which is facing a 35 per cent cut in its budget, says no stone will be left unturned to find opportunities for volunteers to help continue its services. Council leader Carl Les issued the pledge after hearing the authority’s pioneering scheme to hand over the running of most of its libraries to community groups had been a success.” … “Cllr Les said: “With austerity we have lost 35 per cent of our budget, so we can either cut back and retrench or carry on with the service and do it in a different way.””
  • Renfrewshire – Councillors asked to approve Paisley High Street learning hub refurbishment Renfrewshire 24. “Plans to build a learning and cultural hub on Paisley High Street are set to take a step closer – with councillors being asked to approve a comprehensive refurbishment of the building. The council has earmarked a currently-empty retail unit at 22 High St – formerly the Internacionale clothes shop – for a new modern community facility to house the town’s library collection.”
  • Scottish Borders – School library petition almost reaches target in first weekBorder Telegraph. 350 signatures.
  • Slough – Man banned from all Slough libraries for watching pornography – Slough and South Bucks Express. “”The library computers have several systems on them to prevent such activity but unfortunately some people have managed to bypass this in the past.””
  • Somerset – Decision over Somerset libraries to be made in October – Chard and Ilminster News. “Somerset County Council announced in January as many as 15 libraries across the county could close without community involvement. More than 6,000 responses were received during the extended consultation period, which concluded on Wednesday (June 13). But a final decision won’t be taken by the council’s cabinet until the middle of October, with any changes being implemented after Christmas.”
  • Somerset -Group formed to ensure future of North Petherton Library Bridgwater Mercury. “Friends of North Petherton Library group has been set up to help North Petherton Town Council ensure that the town’s library remains open. The initiative was agreed at a public meeting to respond to Somerset County Council’s consultation exercise as part of its review into the future of the library service, which many believe could result in widespread closures across the county.”
  • Somerset – Wivey hands over 600-signature book of protest West Somerset Free Press. “A large ‘book of protest’ signed by 650 library users from Wiveliscombe and the 10 Parishes, was presented to Somerset county councillor James Hunt on Monday. It was the final action in a series of protests co-ordinated in the area, as the council’s consultation over the potential closure of libraries throughout Somerset closed two days ago”
  • Stockton – Innovation and imagination in Stockton BoroughLibraries Taskforce. “We wanted to provide two very different facilities – one to meet the need for a makerspace in central Stockton which could be available to a wide range of people and one to support a variety of health needs through an immersive space in our main library in Thornaby.”

“I commend Suffolk Libraries, which is a thriving public service mutual that, as my hon. Friend says, does a great job. Today could not be a better day to celebrate what Suffolk Libraries does, because Suffolk Day, on midsummer’s day, celebrates everything that is brilliant about the county that is beautiful and full of wonderful people and great food. It is a great place to visit, a great place to live, a great place to be, and a wonderful place to represent.” Suffolk – Matthew Hancock, Secretary State for DCMS.

  • Swindon – Libraries Strategy Delivery Model – Swindon Council.  Aim to create “Public Sector Mutual” (PSM) for Swindon libraries to assist with £400k cut in budget by 2020. Efficiencies and savings on business rates expected. see also Charity could be set up to run Swindon’s libraries – Swindon Advertiser. “A new commercial manager would be brought in to identify ways for the library to bring in more income. But councillors heard that only a magician could make the library profitable”
  • Walsall – No Plan B: The Closure of a Schools Library Service – Leon’s Library Blog. “The following guest post is from Elizabeth Roberts, former staff member of the Walsall Schools Library Support Service, which sadly closed in March this year due to funding cuts. The irony, like many closures affecting school and public libraries, is such reductions happen while the Government announces plans to improve literacy, early reading, and language skills through the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Literacy Teaching. But sadly School Library Services, like school libraries, have no statutory standing and are susceptible to local decision making and  dwindling school budgets.”

“In the last 12 months 9 of the 16 public libraries in Walsall have closed. Those that remain have been chosen on a geographical basis – distance from the library as the crow flies. Unfortunately people don’t travel as the crow flies. We have spoken to schools who have been forced to end class visits to the library. Since the closure of SLSS, Walsall public libraries no longer have staff that specialise in supporting children’s literacy. “

  • Warrington – Councillor could consider inviting Queen to town’s libraries to ‘witness’ achievements – Warrington Guardian. “”I know my colleague, Cllr Price, is working on developing and delivering a cultural framework for Warrington and, no doubt, once that is completed we will have something which can sit alongside something like the Storyhouse here in Warrington. “As for an invitation for the Queen to Warrington, yes, I would be honoured and privileged to do that. “But let’s not forget that in 2012 the Queen did visit the Orford Jubilee Hub to open it, so she has been to Warrington before.” … “In total, £1 million of the authority’s funds will go towards repairs, maintenance and investment at existing buildings, while £150,000 has been designated to enhance the book fund budget. “
  • West Berkshire – West Berkshire library staff face redundancy as cuts package approved – Newbury Today. “library staff will be cut by almost half, with volunteers expected to step in to fill the vacancies, in a move set to save the council around £580,000 per year.” … “Newbury’s library will undergo a “restructuring” of its team of employees, while Wash Common library will be closed. The move will also see one of the mobile libraries retained.”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Privacy fear in West Dunbartonshire as vital council service moves – Daily Record. “The council-run One Stop Shop in Alexandria now consists of a desk with two chairs in between bookshelves in a section of the town’s library.”
  • Wokingham – Wokingham libraries tackle loneliness with Reading Well scheme – Get Reading. “The “life saving” Reading Well for Mental Health book list was announced by The Reading Agency and Society of Chief Librarians at a flagship event on Tuesday, June 5.”
  • Worcestershire – School library help could be axed – Worcester Observer. ” service which has promoted reading and literacy in Worcester’s schools since 1933 could be set for the axe with county council chiefs blaming falling interest for their move.”
  • York – First look: Inside York’s amazing new library and community hub – York Mix. “Created on the site of Burnholme Community College, four years after it closed, the bright, modern and hi-tech hub brings state-of-the-art facilities to Tang Hall. The site is home to the new Explore Centre, which will provide a reading café, learning spaces, a local history service, free access to the internet and wifi, lending and reference library as well as space for community groups. It costs £4.6m and is the first part of a regeneration of the site.” see also Council chiefs pledge to keep York library funding for 15 years – Press. “libraries will see their funding stay at current levels for the next 15 years, according to city council bosses drawing up a new deal for the service. The contract to run York’s libraries and archives service is due for renewal early next year, and council bosses are set to agree specifications of what they want at a meeting next week. The deal would appoint an operator for the next 15 years in a deal worth £32 million, which official documents say keeps funding levels stable despite tight budgets.”
Librarues Weej

11th June 2018

Changes by local authority

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The new name and logo for the Society of Chief Librarians.

Goodbye Society of Chief Librarians, Hello Libraries Connected: An interview with Isobel Hunter

I am delighted that the new CEO of the Society of Chief Librarians, Isobel Hunter, agreed to be interviewed. She very kindly opened up questioning to anyone and so the questions below are a mixture of mine and those received on Twitter and via email. The interview is tied in with the announcement that the SCL is now renamed “Libraries Connect“. This is to modernise and also to reflect its new role. Do have a read. The normal news bulletin is below the interview.

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Ever wondered what your chief librarian is thinking?

Editorial

To many of us not in the highest tiers of public  library management, the two day long SCL seminar, held this week in Warwick, maintains only a slight fascination, if we are aware of it at all. But the programme shows as well as anything what things chief librarians are interested in and the trends to watch. This year, also, will see the official launch of the new SCL logo and name, and it’ll be fascinating to see what reaction there is to that. Here are the things I’ve gleaned from the programme;

– The progress of the  Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Fund (LOFIE) programmes are, quite rightly being shared. There seems to be more sharing of the results of innovation than before, generally, in libraries, which is good.

– It looks like the libraries minister Michael Ellis is actually physically turning up. His presence has hardly been noticed in the sector since his appointment, apart from one phoned-in script-reading video message at a volunteer library seminar a month or two ago. I reckon it’s 50:50 if he’ll cancel, though (and not just because his train will probably be late).

– The digital side is being emphasised, although the benefits of reading (not “books”) is featured in some sessions.

– EU libraries are mentioned. The loss of EU membership is going to have an impact on public libraries but, as with everything else about the issue, exactly how is unclear.

– Volunteer (“community managed”) libraries get a session, although considering how big a part of the sector they are now (over 500 branches) this is hardly surprising. Similarly, the same can be said about staffless libraries, whose presence is increasingly being felt.

– Health and wellbeing is big. Very big. Huge.

But, really, do have a read for yourself, especially if you want to get a view for what’s big and trending with chief librarians at the moment.

Changes

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Summer is almost here

Editorial

Good to see the Summer Reading Challenge is expected to go strong this year too. It’s the biggest promotion by far that libraries are involved with and hopefully will continue to be successful. I’d also love for me to be able to say next year that there’s at least another national promotion that can challenge it in terms of scale – because we need national promotions for adults and, above all, for non-users. In the meantime, though, have a read of Philip Pullman.

Changes by local authority

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It should be you: apply for the Library of the Year

Editorial

You know how it is. Some other place, shinier and bigger than yours, wins an award. That’s how it goes. Well, I’ve seen a fair few libraries and there’s some brilliant ones out there who have never had recognition, and some are small and far from shiny. They just do brilliant work, over and above what is needed, every day , meeting the needs of their communities and going the extra mile. Some are pretty darn imaginative about it too. So it’s great to see the relaunch of the Library of the Year award into something more inclusive and open. Any size library can apply and any number can do so from any one library service. So ignore that inner voice that says your library is not as good as that big one you’ve heard about. Concentrate on the brilliance of yours and apply. it’s only 300 words and getting a great mix of libraries, large and small, old as well as new, in the final ten will done wonders to help show the variety of the great things libraries do. Apply before 15th June.

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No longer just a bossy inter-lending service: The British Library in 2018

Editorial

Congratulations to LIz Jolly who becomes the chief librarian at the British Library shortly. I don’t often mention the BL, which to some extent is a worrying sign, either for me for missing it or for the BL for not doing enough. Having said that, the BL has definitely upped its game with public libraries noticeably over the last few years. Once upon a time only known in public library circles for its harsh and bossy attitude when it came to inter-lending books, the national library is now branching out into business outlets in various libraries and has recently put its toe in the water with screenings of readings in a a limited number of libraries. It’s unclear why they’re limited – the joy of digital technology is that the same thing is freely replicable an infinite number of times – but it’s better than the nothing we had before and hopefully one day they’ll cease the artificial limit, which is on offer to only a few chosen (it’s not clear how) library services. The recent Harry Potter tour is also to be welcomed as is an increasing involvement in discussions on public libraries at national level. However, to too many of us, the British Library remains a distant establishment. It’s still more a London Library With Good Intentions than something which, hand on heart, feels national to those of us in the majority who do not live in the capital. I hope Liz, who I have respect for, and others there continue and expand on the good work begun. And, perhaps, the days of prohibitive high late charges and bossy inter-lending notes will be forgotten, as will the attitude that we (mistakenly or not) assumed came with it.

Changes by local authority

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Answers on visas, Welsh libraries funding and your chance to question the new SCL Chief Exec

Editorial

I always find, as a librarian, the best way to find an answer to a question is to ask an expert. So, due to the various expressed uncertainties about the public library scheme, I emailed Isobel Hunter, the new Chief Executive of the Society of Chief Librarians. She kindly quickly answered them and the details are below. Following on form this, she has also agreed to answer more general questions, which I’m working on now. But it seems to me some of you may have questions too. So if you want me to ask any, email me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk. and let me know if you want it confidential or not. If there’s too many questions, I’ll try to work out questions that cover themes.

In other news, the Welsh Government has just announced funding that will help several libraries. Great to see. It’s worth pointing out that, scaled up to England’s size, that would be a very impressive £23m. Come on, Libraries Minister, make it happen.

Changes by local authorities

A short interview with Isobel Hunter, the new SCL chief executive, about the new Visa programme.

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Visa applicants and libraries

Editorial

The Society of Chief Librarians has been subcontracted by French company Sopra Steria to provide assistance for visa applicants from October 2018. The SCL press release says its for 56 library services, although other news reports, including Sopra Steria, say 56 libraries, which is quite a difference. The process seems quite involved, with the need to submit “biometric information including photos, fingerprints, and signatures and their supporting evidence at a single appointment”. My twitter feed, naturally full of library campaigners, is raising lots of questions about neutrality, training, confidentiality, work time and if library staff would be obliged to report anyone who it turned out was in the country illegally. I’m sure all of this has been thought out and so I have emailed the new Chief Exec Isobel Hunter to ask these questions and look forward to an answer. For the SCL, the reasons for taking on the contract are fairly clear – raising profile, and income, from amongst the government.  I just hope, though,  no-one from the government has looked at the SCL website recently, which is still leading on news from 2016 and promotes five (not six) Universal Offers. I hope the website will be overhauled soon with the forthcoming name change for the organisation.

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An Ode to Libraries in Finland

Editorial

That’s it, I want to work in Finland. OK, I don’t speak Finnish and can’t stand cold or dark nights but, darn it, just look at how they treat libraries over there. as important learning and education centres, with over three times more spent on libraries per head than in the UK. And that new library, the beautifully named “Ode”, looks rather nice too.

OK, deep breath, back to the UK. Well, looking on the bright side, at least most of us don’t work in Northants. The council there is asking towns and parishes to not only take over running public libraries but to pay full whack for the privilege. This includes buying the building which, in one case, the parish council gave to Northants in the first place. Unsurprisingly, some councils are complaining about this treatment and refusing to take them over. Across the border in Wales, Cardiff are implementing cuts to their libraries by co-locating services. That doesn’t sound so bad but I’ve seen what has happened to Cardiff Central where a proud and well-equipped central library has been replaced with crammed in sections between various other council services, with the added presence of suspicious security guards. Let’s hope the city approaches the other libraries differently.

Changes

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