Regularly using a library is equivalent to a £1,359 pay rise

Editorial

The DCMS have funded a report from the LSE which shows, through some very heavy statistical analysis that the benefit of libraries equivalent in benefit to the active user of a pay rise of £1359. Let’s do some fun analysis of this.  The Cipfa survey suggests an active library user base at 15% (this sounds very low to me but let’s go with it as we know that we’re at least not exaggerating what comes next) and the population of the United Kingdom according to the latest official figures is 63 million.  15% of that is 9,450,000.  Right, now times that very low figure by 1,359 which brings us the benefit just for active users of using a library of £12.8 billion.  The cost of the entire UK public library service is around £1 billion. Little wonder that Lucy Mangan in the Guardian says that the research either means the DCMS has it wrong on libraries or that the report they commissioned is wrong.  Either way, she points out, it’s not good news for them. But it’s good news for libraries and I think we can be grateful to the Government for commissioning research that adds to the pressure on local councils to keep them.  Now if only the DCMS would add some more practical pressure as well …

Changes

DCMS report

  • Dancing makes people as happy as a £1,600 pay rise – Telegraph. “Visiting the library, dancing and going swimming makes people as happy as a    £5,000 pay rise, official figures have shown for the first time. Researchers from the London School of Economics found that sports, culture and   the arts can have a significant impact on people’s happiness.” … “The researchers analysed a survey of 40,000 British households, stripping out   the impact of other factors on people’s happiness such as age, wealth, health, children and education.”
  • Frequent library visits equates to £1,359 pay rise – BookSeller. “Going to the library frequently is the same as getting a pay rise of £1,359 a year, according to a new report from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.”
  • Quantifying and Valuing the Wellbeing Impacts of Culture and Sport – DCMS. “The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) commissioned researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) to undertake analysis of Understanding Society data to develop the evidence base on the wellbeing impacts of cultural engagement and sport participation. This work gives us new evidence of the link between our policies and the social impacts of engagement in both sport and culture.”

“A significant association was also found between frequent library use and reported wellbeing. Using libraries frequently was valued at £1,359 per person per year for library users, or £113 per person per month.”

  • Visiting libraries makes us as happy as a £1,359 pay rise - Guardian. “Well, that’s what a study from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport seems to say. Strange, then, that it’s not reversing its policies on closing libraries” [Very pleasing to see article quotes PLN figures - Ed.] … “In other words, the DCMS either commissioned a valid, useful study that proves its ongoing policies are immoral, or it has pissed a lot of dwindling funds up the wall. Could someone commission research into the answer please? I think we should find out.”

National news

  • Access to Research: the experience of implementing a pilot in public libraries - Ingenta Connect. “The Access to Research project is a collaboration between scholarly publishers and librarians to provide free licensed access to research journals via terminals in public libraries. The project is an element of the ‘balanced package’ proposed by the Finch Working Group on how to expand access to published research in the UK, which reported its recommendations to the UK government in June 2012. We describe the setting up of the project and the findings from a three-month technical pilot prior to the launch of a two-year national pilot in February 2014. The project has already attracted support from the major scholarly publishers, with about 8,400 journal titles now available. The access platform has been shown to be usable by public librarians and library patrons. We are now addressing the challenge of understanding how the public will make use of the system and exploring how best to provide training and education for librarians and users.”
  • Banning offensive materials in public libraries – Infoism. “I do not believe that any lawful material should be banned from public libraries, no matter how abhorrent I may think it is. Because once we let that genie out of that bottle there is no telling where it will end. Removing copies of The Sun because it is misogynistic may result in certain groups seeking the removal of other books or newspapers that promote a viewpoint that an individual or group may find abhorrent (indeed, a quick search online finds that there are those who would seek to remove The Koran from library shelves). Once a concession is made to one group, it would be increasingly difficult to fend off calls from other pressure groups to remove materials. Libraries should be concerned with free access to all information, regardless of its value (which is a subjective concept at any rate), not providing access to materials according to the demands of individual pressure groups. Which leads me to another, wider concern about the impact of such library campaigns.”
  • Pussy Riot campaigner joins prison book ban protest - BookSeller. “Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Belarusian journalist Iryna Khalip and British theatre producer David Cecil are among the former prisoners and detainees who have written letters opposing a ban on sending books to prisoners in the UK.”
  • Why can’t libraries lend ebooks? European-wide petition calls for change – CILIP. “Annie Mauger, CILIP Chief Executive said: “World Book Night is a global expression of all that is good about books and reading. But as a society we increasingly expect to access services and information remotely via digital and electronic formats. The latest book sales and lending statistics reveal the extent to which libraries are being disadvantaged and left to fall behind what is an enormously significant trend around the nature of books and reading habits.” “Our members working within the public library service and across the information professions tell us that current copyright law fails libraries by not letting them contribute fully to public reading trends. Our public libraries deserve to be front and centre within the online environment and must be able to offer a full ebook portfolio if they are to capture their future communities and continue to promote and nurture a love of reading amongst a public that is increasingly moving online.” “It would be a complete travesty for libraries to be left behind because they cannot serve changing reading patterns, and that is why this petition is so important.”

International

  • Chicago Public Library Redefines its Role in the Digital Age - Chicago Digital (USA). “As global competition among cities grows, there is a stronger need for libraries—not as book repositories, but as learning centers for today’s knowledge economy. Yet in an age where computers and tablets are jumping ahead of books, how can public libraries best leverage technology to better serve their communities’ residents?”  … “For example, YOUmedia, a digital learning program for teens, connects young adults to interactive media tools, mentors, and institutions throughout the city. While currently offered at five libraries, CPL recently announced a major expansion. YOUmedia offers learning opportunities such as the Innovation Lab—which provides both youth and adults with introductions to 3D software, 3D printers, and laser cutting—and has recently struck up a partnership with Girls Who Code, which offers sessions that bolster young women’s skills in analytics and programming.” Another program is CPL’s Homework Help, which offers on-site and online tutoring to students across the city. Mango Languages, meanwhile, provides online English as a Second Language (ESL) tutorials for any Chicago adult or child with a library card.”
  • City aims to collect “a million books” - Joburg (South Africa). “LIS is calling on the valued citizens of Johannesburg to please donate children’s books for ages 6 and under. The books will be given to parents, caregivers and children in disadvantaged communities. The library and info services will focus on training parents and care givers to become skilled in the art of reading to children. The city’s Family Literacy programme has been developed for this purpose.”
  • Ebooks in 2014: Access and licensing in Canadian public libraries - Culc (Canada).
  • Public libraries to the rescue – The News (Poland). “As Alicja Baczyńska reports, nationwide figures recently released by the Ministry of Culture and the National Library show that Poles borrowed nearly 1.5 million more publications in 2012 than in the previous year. This marked a U-turn in the nearly decade-long trend of declining book rental figures and library membership rates.”
  • Youngsters given easy access to libraries in Shanghai – ECNS (China). “Primary and secondary schools students with a passion for reading can now use their electronic ID cards to borrow books from the Shanghai’s public libraries. Under a ruling made jointly by the Shanghai Library and Shanghai Education Commission, youngsters are allowed to borrow up to 10 books at a time from any of the city’s 237 public and community libraries, officials said yesterday … Previously, students were required to apply for a membership card at Shanghai
    Library and pay a 100 yuan (US$16) deposit to be able to access the city’s lending facilities.”
  • What Will Become of the Library? – Slate (USA). “Engineers described the idea of removing the shelves that support the Rose Reading Room as “cutting the legs off the table while dinner is being served.” … “The recent years of austerity have not been kind to the public library. 2012 marked the third consecutive year in which more than 40 percent of states decreased funding for libraries. In 2009, Pennsylvania, the keystone of the old Carnegie library system, came within 15 Senate votes of closing the Free Library of Philadelphia. In the United Kingdom, a much more severe austerity program shuttered 200 public libraries in 2012 alone.”

“Patching the gaps of the fraying social safety net with shelter, bathrooms, and other very basic services for people in crisis is not part of the original mission of public libraries. It can detract from other services, particularly those aimed at children. Perhaps for this reason, a library in Orange County, Calif., recently instituted a napping and odor ban. However, public libraries have long served a progressive, interventionist agenda, putting knowledge directly into the hands of the poor, the immigrant, and those historically excluded from certain educational institutions.”

Events

Libraries for Life for London forum - Birkbeck College, London on 26th April from 1pm. Includes presentation by Diana Edmonds (the chief library officer for GLL) and Eric Bohl (Activist Group – report on Haringey libraries consultation). Contact: Pat Richardson: mhlibraryusers@yahoo.co.uk.

UK local news by authority

  • Croydon – Developer’s donation welcomed by Upper Norwood Library - Inside Croydon. “The Upper Norwood Library Trust has received £1,000 from Neville De Souza, the director of Crystal Palace-based developer Lightbox. The money was donated from the commission on art works sold at Lightbox’s elegant redevelopment of the Thicket pub on Anerley Hill, which was the venue for a number of sales of local artists’ works.”
  • Devon – Town council calls on public to save library - Exmouth Journal. “Devon County Council (DCC) announced two weeks ago that it would be consulting on its libraries, and said that 28, including Budleigh, would have to have increased community involvement or the services there risked ending. Budleigh Salterton Town Council held a special meeting on the issue … The cost of running Budleigh Salterton Library is £67,000 a year, or around £54,000 net when including income, and Cllr Croad said DCC would be looking to save around 50 per cent of this figure.”
  • Lincolnshire – Save Lincs Library Campaigner meets Karl McCartney MP - Save Lincolnshire Libraries.  Detailed report on meeting with the Conservative MP for Lincoln who has agreed to help with the campaign.
  • Northamptonshire – New Charity Created To Support Northants Libraries - About My Area. “The Charity Commission has approved the registration of the Northamptonshire Libraries Trust which has been created as part of Northamptonshire County Council’s strategy to safeguard the long-term future of libraries in the county … all libraries now open on Sundays and offer a range of services, from bus passes
    to business start-up advice plus the library service now has over 600 volunteers. Establishing the Trust is the latest step in the strategy as
    although libraries will continue to be run by the county council, the Trust will be the new charitable arm for the service and will help giving and donations go further.”

“Money raised through the Trust, which will also be known as the LibraryPlus Trust, will be allocated through grants to support specific projects, to purchase new equipment or enhance the facilities on offer.”

 

22nd April 2014

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The unstaffed fully self-service library

Editorial

Some technology-related moves have caught my eye over the Easter weekend.  Bibliotheca have taken note of the current parlous state of UK public libraries finances and come up with a scheme that allows authorised members of the public to use library buildings while they are entirely unstaffed.  CCTV keeps watch and doors open and close at the appointed times.  This may be seen by some as the natural next step in a process which started with self-service machines and will be very attractive to library authorities, although perhaps less so to their staff.  A full description of the technology and some thoughts on have been provided by Mick Fortune and I recommend you have a read.

The announcement by the Government of a panel on digital inclusion has also raised an eyebrow at Public Libraries News Towers.  There’s no mention in it of the vital role that public libraries play in both providing access and assistance to those who don’t yet have internet access or an idea of how to use if they did.  Of course, that tuition may be a little difficult if there’s no-one in the building in the first place … but authorities may be weighing the cuts in in budgets with all possibilities and judging accordingly.

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Caught at least three ways: e-lending and librarians’ dilemma

Editorial

The Chief Executive of the Publishers’ Association has had a bit of a go at the CILIP-backed Right to E-Read” campaigned.  I can understand his concern about the name (it’s not the right to e-reading, he points out, but rather e-lending) and fear that such unfettered and free access would cut down on author’s (and publishers, naturally) earnings. After all, there has always been a suspicion amongst booksellers that libraries could hurt them.  It has always been the response of librarians (and some publishers too) that book-lending is a different and complementary activity to book-buying.  The current e-book pilots in the UK come as an attempt by all parties, brokered by the DCMS, to see what works best and if publishers etc do have something to fear.

I’m probably not alone as a public librarian in feeling conflicted at least three ways on this one.  I can see that E-lending is qualitatively different to lending in that the book is always ”perfect” and there is no time-cost in obtaining it (that is, there’s no delay in actually going to the library/putting a reserve on the item).  Without some limits (be they the hated automatic delete or increased payments – but, if the latter, then who pays?) I know I’d always be borrowing e-books and not buy them (why would I buy them, again? If they’re always instantly there just by a couple of clicks?). On the other hand, one naturally fears that more e-lending will cut physical visits to the building what I am being paid to be in.  On the other other hand, the point of libraries is to allow access, damn it, not to provide me with a job.

What I know is that spats about the issue, while unsurprising, don’t help. It is to be hoped that the pilots/campaign come to a satisfactory conclusion, despite jockeying for position.

Children’s webpages

I was very pleased to receive the following from Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Libraries about their websites for under 16s.  I’ve had a look and it’s pretty good stuff. Worth a check to see if your own library service can pick up a few tips?

“Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Libraries have a quite comprehensive Children’s and Teenagers section on our Virtual Library.  We target the pages at three audiences – Under 6 (aimed at parents mainly), Children’s (7-12) and Teen Turf for 13-16 year olds, I have included links to these below so you can take a look. The content on these pages is targeted and designed for these audiences – the event listings, recommended web sites in QuickLinks, booklists, etc. We feel that it is vitally important to provide lots of useful information for children as they are a key user of the physical library services, but are looking for support and advice outside of library opening hours.”

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“Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding”

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Shadow Minister for Libraries speaks

Editorial

The Shadow Minister for Libraries, Helen Goodman MP, appears to have been spurred into action by the coachload of Lincolnshire library campaigners who visited parliament last week.  In a visit to Ermine Library, she stressed the need for professional librarians and a standard library service throughout the country, rather than the current “postcode lottery”.  She has written to the Minister demanding intervention in Lincolnshire where three quarters of libraries are under threat.  Councillor Nick Worth, the local man in charge of libraries, rather impressively – considering the sheer scale of the cuts he is overseeing if noting else – called the cuts a “win-win situation” for Lincolnshire.  After one does breathing exercises, perhaps also taking the dog for a walk and putting a cold flannel on your forehead, you’re probably going to be able to cope with the reason for this claim being that volunteers will mean the service is cheaper and that there will be an overall increase in service points as there will be some shelves of books in other buildings (hopefully not telephone boxes) as well.  Never mind the quality, look at the quantity appears to be his view. Whatever the result, the power of campaigning in grabbing the attention of politicians has been demonstrated.

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Library-affirming

Editorial

It’s National Library Week in the USA and there’s some wonderful pro library stuff coming out of it.  I especially like the one, naturally, that gives ten reasons why librarians are awesome.  I think we knew that all along but it’s good to see it on screen.  The nice thing about these American articles is that, although cuts are mentioned, they are all very positive in tone.  There is hope there.  Library usage is increasing and new ideas are being embraced. They are, in other words, library-affirming.

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Stories from the Web

Editorial

My last item, probably, on children’s library webpages.  John Dolan has kindly pointed out to me that Stories from the Web has been doing much of the work for those authorities who buy into it for years. I hadn’t really come across it before and there lies the problem – only 17 authorities in the UK buy into it.  How many more will continue to do so as the cuts further bite can only be guessed at.  It strikes me that this is something that could usefully be done nationally and avoid the vagaries of individual authorities.  It would also mean that the website could forget about its cumbersome need at the moment for the prospective user to go to a physical library for a username and password.  Like so many other things, this is something that Sieghart could perhaps be looking at in his review. There are other areas too – like the much discussed libraries development agency, marketing, etc – that could be better done nationally but are so often not at the moment which could usefully be the subject of some research.  Here’s hoping.

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Lincolnshire campaigning masterclass, children’s webpages and e-readers

Editorial

The coachload of Lincolnshire campaigners who visited Parliament and Downing Street have shown great ingenuity and determination in trying to save libraries.  Seven MPs, including two shadow ministers, met them in parliament – with others offering support – and a specially produced book “The Tip of the Iceberg” was presented to 10 Downing Street.  The whole thing showed a great deal of commitment and an example of best practice for any other library campaigners out there.  I’ve added it the A to Z of library campaigning tactics page.

I asked a couple of days ago about whether there were specific library webpages for children.  A few of you have got in touch with examples, with the major one being from Devon and called “The Zone”.  I’m told that ”the site won an award from CILIP PPRG in 2005 but has been redeveloped since. It still proves very popular and we use it as a vehicle not only to promote services but also reward their work.”.  I especially like the “Spin” banner for highlighting parts of the site, its colour and general fun-ness.  Downsides are that it’s quite small (but, then, a whole lot bigger than a pile of authorities who don’t have anything at all) and it’s still advertising World Book Day.  Otherwise, children’s library websites tend to be of a simple listing type like Hampshire or Cambridgeshire.

So why this paucity?  Well, I think it’s a mixture of things – council IT policies saying no, it being neither the children’s librarian job or the IT specialist’s job, lack of financing, imagination or, possibly, a suspicion that children will not use the service.  Whatever the reasons, Devon shows that it can be successful so let’s hope more come to light or are created.

I recently asked another question about libraries providing e-readers.  It appears that Aberdeenshire and Suffolk are both piloting e-reader lending.  Sadly, I would say this puts the UK a comfortable two or three years behind the USA in this matter: although I hope more evidence comes to light.  Now it may be that this country has gained by being slow about this as e-readers are probably a transitional technology, with tablet PCs replacing them.  Being e-readers are now as cheap as £25, though, the risks (and, crucially, costs) of lending them out – and providing advice on how to use them – is becoming less. We’ll see if UK authorities, fighting as they are with major cuts, get a grasp on this issue or leave it to go the way of children’s library webpages.

Please send news, comments and thoughts to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk

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Leicestershire have 36 in danger; Ceredigion; and awards.

Editorial

Every UK public library authority now has at least a webpage or two advertising its services but how many have a webpage just for what libraries provide for children? I don’t know of any.  For such a key part of the library clientele, this seems to be a bit odd … so I hope you’re all going to impress with me with tons of great examples now: please send them in (along with any news or thoughts) to me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk, thank you.

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