“Sick of all the doom and gloom”: Ayub Khan seeks to redress the balance

Editorial

I was at a meeting of the Library Campaign on Saturday, after nipping into the People’s Vote march beforehand. It was full of deeply committed people from all around the country fighting for what they believe is right against a government who needs to pay more attention. And, yes, so was the march.

There is much polarisation in this nation and what’s going on in libraries and with Brexit shows it in sharp relief. But there are good things happening as well. I see some beautiful refurbishments and new buildings, as well as genuine creativity – I love especially toy sleepovers, drag queen story times and dog reading partners but there is at least a new idea a week and so many passionate people. Focusing just on cuts would be to do the library service a disservice, and would personally make me far too angry and depressed to carry on. So it’s good to see Ayub’s piece below trying to redress the balance.

Finally, I need to mark the retirement of Phil Bradley. I knew him first via his CILIP column and his time as president and I was very pleased to be able to catch a chat with him at his home a few years ago. He’s a lovely man, who knows his stuff so well, is passionate and done so much for libraries. Thank you, Phil, thank you.

Changes by local authority

Ideas

Ayub Khan wants to accentuate the positive

“The Prime Minister recently announced that austerity is over. Libraries – one of the hardest hit public services – will be glad to hear it, although seeing is believing. There is no denying it has been a tough few years. Most of us have seen our budgets slashed. My own authority, Warwickshire, has had its fair share of cuts. But – dare I say it – I’m sick of all the doom and gloom. Negative coverage has become the norm where libraries are concerned, and nothing positive seems to make the news. I know from talking to library colleagues from other countries that many face similar challenges – and they are impressed by the innovation and development we are still managing to achieve over here.

“I’m sick of all the doom and gloom. Negative coverage has become the norm where libraries are concerned, and nothing positive seems to make the news”

I run a medium-sized library service in the Midlands that is unlikely to hit the headlines. That’s partly because the news from here is not all bad – far from it. I don’t want to sound smug because I know some colleagues are still going through post-austerity pain, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  When unprecedented cost savings were required, Warwickshire Libraries went for radical change rather than death by a thousand smaller cuts. We wouldn’t settle for mediocre and we didn’t go quietly to the back of the funding queue – we kept contributing to wider agen-das including health and wellbeing. Now we are reaping the benefits.

The County Council’s elected members and senior officers have shown real commitment to its library service in terms of both core funding and money for new projects. Our book fund and training budget have been protected and we now have permanent funding for Sunday opening in larger libraries. In line with other authorities we are getting rid of over-due fines for children. All frontline staff have had their salaries regraded (upwards) to reflect the complexity of their wider roles nowadays.

“All frontline staff have had their salaries regraded (upwards) to reflect the complexity of their wider roles nowadays.”

We were also given capital funding for a major refurbishment of Stratford-upon-Avon Li-brary, incorporating a new Registration Service, and we are re-modelling eight more. We are about to build our third new library since the recession (Alcester, Southam and now Whitnash). We have also expanded our digital offer and are replacing our People’s Net-work computers this year.

We recently opened makerspaces branded “Lets Makes” digital spaces in two of our larg-est libraries in Rugby and Nuneaton which serve some of the county’s less advantaged communities.  This summer we piloted a scheme to serve lunch at story sessions during the school holidays. We’ve made successful bids for external funding – including for our reading festivals – and we are one of 10 library services in the UK and Ireland working on a Google-sponsored digital resources programme.

So there’s plenty of good news. I’m sure there will be more challenges – or cuts – ahead but when these come we won’t be defeatist. For now, as the Bing Crosby song goes, I think we need to ‘accentuate the positive”

National news

  • Booking form for Public Libraries Forum – National Acquisitons Group. ” To follow on Thursday 8th November we have a Public Libraries Forum around stock selection and interlending.  In recognition of difficulties in the sector, we are offering this event at cost price of £35+VAT per delegate (both for members and non-members).”
  • Citizens Advice to provide support to Universal Credit claimants – Gov.uk. “From April 2019 Citizens Advice (England and Wales) and Citizens Advice Scotland will take on the responsibility for delivering a strengthened Universal Support service, a move which will ensure a consistent and streamlined service for claimants across the country.”
  • Councils Are At Breaking Point – If Cuts Continue, Vital Services Will Simply Collapse – Huff Post. “Government cuts have seen over 500 children’s centres and 475 libraries close, potholes are left unfilled, and 80% of councils workers now say have no confidence in the future of local services.”
  • How Creative United’s Prosper programme has boosted enterprise for libraries – Libraries Taskforce. “When we launched the Arts Council England-funded Prosper programme in 2017, we wanted to reach and connect with organisations of all shapes and sizes across England to learn about the changes they would like to see in their businesses. We then delivered a high-quality business support programme so they could achieve their goals and become more resilient in today’s changing funding landscape.”
  • Infographic for promoting library digital services usage – Lorensbergs. “Available as a complimentary resource, the infographic is easy to customise with your metrics and will be invaluable for raising your library’s profile in delivering essential digital services. It’s effective in providing a visual representation of your resource usage, helping ensure that managers, colleagues, customers, the press and local government leaders are aware of the continuing importance of your work.”. Lorensbergs do wifi printing – see Case study: Lancashire Libraries and netloan Wi-Fi print for a case study.
  • Pamela Tulloch: 21st century libraries are more popular than football – Scotsman. Libraries “more likely to resemble a thriving hub of community-based activities, attracting people of all demographics for various purposes, than quiet reading rooms and bookshelves.” … “In most cases, closures have been a result of review and reinvestment in library services, as older buildings and service points make way for brighter, more modern facilities, including shared community campuses. ” … “Most encouragingly in Scotland, visitor numbers continue to rise, cementing public library services as the most popular civic resource offered by local government. Since 2010, visits to Scotland’s public libraries – including online ones – have increased from 39.8 million to over 43 million, which is around a nine per cent increase and is more than SPFL football match attendance and cinema visits combined. “

“Midlothian Libraries has integrated a ground-breaking health and well-being initiative in partnership with the NHS. Hearing aid battery replacement has moved from outpatient departments in hospitals into local libraries. “

  • Protecting Library Services? – Leon’s Library Blog. “As of today (Sunday, 21st October 2018) the petition had attracted 7,035 signatures. At 10,000 signatures the Government will provide a response. Whether that response will be substantially different to those replies received by various MPs and Peers in the Houses of Commons and Lords remains to be seen. At 100,000 signatures the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament. Given the continuing popularity of libraries and coming off the back of the Summer Reading Challenge and Libraries Week I’m hoping that the 10,000 barrier can be reached relatively easily . So if you haven’t already done so please sign and encourage friends and family to do so.”

“Finance is only one part of the equation. The main issue is ideology and for the past eight years the government has been wedded to austerity, privatisation, and the ‘small state’ doctrine. And it is this dogma, coupled with fiscal policy, that has resulted in the contraction, commercialisation, and outsourcing of public services such as libraries.”

  • Time to go… – Phil Bradley’s Weblog. “The blog (this one and the social media tools one) will disappear when the account becomes due, and the website will go at the beginning of 2019. I’ll write my last CILIP Information Professional column in November – that will probably be the very last ‘professional’ act that I do. ”
    Axiell Selflib

International news

  • New Zealand – Drag queen story time event at New Zealand library barraged with hatred – Pink News. “the post was flooded with negative comments from angry social media users who claimed the event was “completely inappropriate for children” and accused the event organisers of “brainwashing” kids.”
  • USA – Library of Congress to launch crowdsourcing program – Fedscoop. ““What I like about crowdsourcing is it gives people a chance to discover hidden gems in the collection,” Tong Wang, the IT specialist who created Beyond Words during a three-month pilot innovator-in-residence program, said in a statement at the time of its launch. “You never know what you’ll find poking through old newspapers.” In a similar vein, the crowdsourcing program will leverage public support to “improve discovery and access across our diverse collections through transcription and tagging,” the blog post announcing the initiative states. Which collections will be included in this treatment are not immediately specified — the library says it will update that information at launch on Oct. 24.”
  • USA – The St. Louis Public Library Is No Longer Charging Daily Overdue Fines – Riverfront Times. “Late in returning that library book? No problem! Under a new policy the St. Louis Public Library quietly rolled out last month, it will automatically renew your materials for you — no need even to ask.  The automatic renewals are part of the library’s ongoing quest to stay connected with its patrons, says Brenda McDonald, director of central services. Among public libraries, that goal is part of a national conversation.”
  • USA – Todd Bol, creator of the Little Free Library movement, dies at 62 Star Tribune. “So he built a few more boxes, selling one and giving away a few dozen more. Bol set a goal of 2,150 — to beat the number of Carnegie Libraries in the country. Less than a decade later, more than 75,000 dollhouse-size libraries have sprouted on front lawns in 88 countries.”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Village library reopens following volunteer takeover as ‘Love Weston Library’ – Bath Echo. “Weston Village library has reopened to the public, newly branded as ‘Love Weston Library’, following a takeover by a group of volunteers as part of of B&NES Council’s Modern Libraries programme”
  • Blaenau Gwent – Overwhelming vote for strike action at Blaenau Gwent leisure centres, libraries and parks – Unison. “Aneurin Leisure Trust staff in libraries, entertainment venues, parks and leisure centres across Blaenau Gwent have voted for strike action after rejecting a below inflation pay offer, equivalent to half a percent across twelve months. Receptionists, caterers, lifeguards, librarians and others working for Aneurin Leisure Trust organised by UNISON voted by more than 88 per cent in favour of taking industrial action.” see also Strike action planned as leisure trust staff ‘forced to use food banks’ – Wales Online.
  • Brighton and Hove – Learning disabilities charity to open cafe in Hove Library Brighton and Hove Independent. “Jo Cook, executive director at Team Domenica, said: “Coming just two years after Team Domenica’s first café opened in the city, and 12 months after our move to Preston Circus, the new café in Hove Library is the result of the hard work of all our candidates, staff, volunteers and trustees.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – CodeUp Chester – Libraries Taskforce. “CodeUp is an adult version of code club – providing free tuition and advice for people who want to learn to code. There are a number of branches (mostly based in the north of England), the flagship one being in Manchester with almost 4,000 members. Chester’s branch currently has over 400, and we’ve been growing exponentially over the past few months. We have a mix of attendees, from complete beginners and learners, to intermediate and expert level developers with a wealth of skills and experience.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Historian to give talks about local impact of WW1 – So Cheshire.
  • Derbyshire – Toddler ‘forced to poo in car park’ after library refuses access to toilet – Metro. “Brett Hewitt-Hallam took Matilda, two, into Glossop Library on Saturday when she said she needed to go. However, the adult education centre and cafe were closed and only a disabled loo was in use but had a sign on it saying ‘staff toilet’. He claims that the librarian told him she would get in trouble if people used it and that she couldn’t find the key.” … “‘On this occasion the library was quite busy and the staff member who was asked about the availability of the toilet was tied up on another task. She asked the family if they could wait for a short time, but the family then left as she was unlocking it for them.”
  • Hertfordshire – Campaign launched to relocate Sawbridgeworth library to the Memorial Hall instead of the fire station – Hertfordshire Mercury. “Talks have been held between trustees of the Sawbridgeworth Memorial Hall and the county council in an effort to stop the relocation of the library to the town’s fire station. Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) is planning on moving Sawbridgeworth’s library, currently located next door to the memorial hall, into the fire station off Station Road as part of a cost saving measure. However, the trustee chairman of Sawbridgeworth Memorial Hall, Peter Lee, said it would make more sense to move the library in with the memorial hall with the current library building being converted for community use”
  • Hertfordshire – Letter: Where are the books? – Hillingdon Times. “When he refers to the ‘reference stock’ being ‘relocated’ to the lending shelves downstairs, this only applies to the last few dozen volumes; hundreds of others have simply disappeared, with even the staff being unaware of their fate. Several shelves of natural history, art and science books have gone in the last few years, most of out of print, and thus especially valuable to researchers and more casual readers (and to book dealers”
  • Lancashire – Have a spooky time down at the Freckleton, Poulton and Thornton libraries – Blackpool Gazette.
  • Lewisham – Calls for Lewisham Council to reconsider cuts to library staff hours – This is Local London. “… making cuts to the borough’s libraries was an “illusionary saving,” Tim Parking from Save Lewisham Libraries said. ” … ““This isn’t the first occasion such decisions to cut services has been made, and whilst there will be no closures in the borough that has only been achievable through the use of volunteers, who are doing an excellent job,” he said.” … “Cabinet member for the community sector, Cllr Jonathan Slater, said all Lewisham services were under “serious threat” because of continued budget cuts – with 60 per cent of the council’s funding cut since 2010. “
  • Lincolnshire – Eyes down for book bingo at Stamford and Bourne libraries – Stamford Mercury. “Running for six weeks from Monday, the challenge involves families reading books to fill in their bingo card. The card has 16 boxes with subjects such as one word title, has an animal on the cover, something funny and a story you can share”
  • Newcastle – Meet the Fenham residents backing divisive plans for an addiction recovery hub at their library – Chronicle. “A new campaign has emerged in support of divisive plans to open an addiction recovery hub at a community library in Newcastle. Around 150 people have now signed a petition backing Newcastle City Council’s vision for Fenham Library , following a huge backlash over recent weeks that has led to angry confrontations with local authority boss” see also Opening of controversial addiction recovery hub at Newcastle library is delayed – Chronicle.
  • Newham – London library saved from being turned into a chicken shop in amazing union victory – Left Foot Forward. “Canning Town Library will no longer be turned into a restaurant, after chicken piri-piri giant Nando’s dropped its plans to acquire the building.  The news sent trade unionists sighing in relief, as the Grade II-listed library has a significant place in the history of the labour movement.” … “The London Borough of Newham, which currently manages the building, was said to be strongly considering Nando’s bid given the library’s reported £2,000 a week cost. It eventually deferred the proposal until further consultation with local community and the unions”
  • North Lincolnshire – New library in Scunthorpe officially opens bringing services together – Grimsby. “A new library in Scunthorpe has officially opened following a key investment to bring services together. With a new extension and modern entrance, the Riddings site on Enderby Road in Scunthorpe now brings library and leisure services together under one roof. Leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Councillor Rob Waltham, officially opened the library this morning. The new library is integrated into a well-established leisure space and will provide new opportunities for library users to tap into other health and fitness activities.”
  • Oxfordshire – Woodstock Library closed ‘until further notice’ due to structural problem – Witney Gazette. “During a recent routine inspection, council teams uncovered structural problems with some of the walls at the library and in particular around the stability of one internal wall. The council will now fix the problem and will reopen the building when that work is completed. There is currently no set date for a reopening but the council said it will make clear when a date is set.”
  • Rotherham – Job cuts and service changes predicted as council struggles to balance spending – Star. “Cuts totalling £30m are being planned by Rotherham Council over the next two years as the authority struggles to balance the books with reduced Government cash – meaning wide ranging changes including the prospect of job losses, council facilities closing and changes to public services.”
  • Sheffield – Doubt over £1.3 million Sheffield library transformation after bar company pulls out – Star. “Mr Yeardley said: “Along with Chris Reece and all the members of the Walkley Carnegie Library group we have been successful in securing £90,000 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to take the project onto the next stage and towards the end goal of raising £1.3m to complete the project. “Despite the significant costs incurred by us I feel that now is the best time for us to halt our involvement so the commercial aspect can be reviewed and new partnerships investigated if appropriate. There is a great team of people still working on the project and I wish them all the best for the future.”
  • Somerset – Somerset libraries at risk of closure – Mercury. “eople in Highbridge may lose the town’s library by January next year, but the council has promised the community a continued service in the area if it is to close. This comes after a report was released on Tuesday about the future of Somerset’s libraries ahead of the council confirming its final decision on whether to alter services or to start closures next month. The council is looking to introduce Community Library Partnerships (CLPs) at 15 of Somerset’s affected services – which could prevent multiple closures in the area.” see also ‘Disappointment’ as Somerset County Council announces Highbridge Library could be at risk of closure– Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News and Somerset County Council issues report on future of libraries – Somerset County Gazette.
  • Suffolk – Youngsters urged to get creative with new library arts programme – Eastern Daily Press. “The Suffolk Libraries Youth Council is looking for opinionated and passionate young people aged between the ages of 11 to 25 to influence the creative direction of the Suffolk Libraries Arts Programme – BLOC (Building Libraries On Creativity). The new BLOC programme has distinct themes of film and digital, literature, music and dance, arts and create and wellbeing and inclusion.”
  • Surrey – Why are libraries still a vital part of our community? by Charlotte Williams, Rosebery School – Surrey Comet. “So, what can be learned from a visit to the library, so much it seems, but on a deeper level, I found out that the library is still the beating heart of the community for so many people and that the people that work there are an invaluable source of information. When you next pick up your phone to check Snapchat, think again and instead pick up a book and immerse yourself. “
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Barry Library praises the summer readers  Glamorgan Gem.
  • Warrington – Great Sankey Neighbourhood Hub launches ‘Read to Relax’ group – Warrington Worldwide. “‘Read to Relax’ is a new kind of weekly reading group that brings people together in a relaxed and social atmosphere to read, have a cup of tea and chat. The main difference between this and other reading groups is that at Read to Relax you are read aloud to, so it is your choice whether you want to read aloud or just sit back and listen.”
  • Wrexham – Wrexham library closures and bin collection reduction possible in council £9m cuts bid – Leader. “A consultation called ‘Difficult Decisions’ is set to be launched to gauge the views of the public on Wednesday, October 24, on the latest round of savings for 2019/20. It will include proposals such as reducing black bin collections from every fortnight to once every three weeks, as well as giving residents the option of either a five or six per cent council tax increase.”

O Canada

Editorial

If you like to see nice shiny new libraries the have a look at link below to a whole pile of new Canadian libraries. There’s nothing there that would strike someone as particularly shockingly innovative – well, apart perhaps from the community kitchens – but it’s good to see so much money being spent. Looking back to this country, it’s great to see, gosh, actual books being bought in Hampshire – shockingly, a public survey showed people wanted them, who’d have thought – and sad to see a deep cut confirmed in Hertfordshire, although I understand the council there is genuine in trying to seek the best possible future for libraries after facing some fairly stiff cuts. If you think, though, like apparently many Canadians, that there’s a lot of life left in libraries and that they give huge value rather than cost, then there’s a Library Campaign meeting this Saturday and a protest march on Saturday 3 November, both in London.

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"Librarian of Congress, Dr Carla Hayden, shared some powerful and moving words with us this #LibrariesWeek and we have to say, we couldn't agree more." - taken from the British Library Facebook page

That was the Libraries Week that was

Editorial

Last week, as I imagine absolutely everyone reading this will know, was Libraries Week. Scanning all of the news about the sector, as I do, it’s obvious that the Week does raise the profile of the public libraries. Most interestingly, the libraries minister himself, Michael Ellis, was seen in a public library or two, and even spoke about them, and I understand that even the DCMS minister his or herself (I see their name so rarely I can’t remember) was seen to show a momentary interest too. All the normal allies of libraries – basically, authors and the Guardian – raised their interest and it was notable that the BBC mentioned it a few times too. Most public libraries these days, unlike back when it started, marked the week as did Libraries Connected. And, of course, befitting the origin of the Week in protest, Labour used it to publish the result of a cuts survey. Much of the publicity, indeed the majority, was positive and that’s great because, frankly, the two things Joe Public thinks they know is that libraries are closing (they’re not, massively, but rather being hollowed out) and are becoming outdated due to ebooks (just no).

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The good and the bad

Editorial

I was asked this weekend why there’s only bad news in Public Libraries News. Well, there isn’t. A look at the stories today (and I’ve, honestly, not done a special feel-good edition) shows a 11:2 ratio of stories that are positive comparted to two which could be taken as negative in the national and international news. However, in the local news, the situation is reversed with the ratio being 13 :5  negative to positive.  Well, that’s interesting. I suspect part of the reversed polarity here is that, quite simply, there’s quite a few cuts going on in the UK when compared to elsewhere. Certainly, the news I see from the EU, Australia and New Zealand is almost all about investment and new ideas and even in Trumpian USA, there’s a more positive feel, although how long that will last is open to question. But I do do some editing – for example, I only cover a smattering of the enormous number of ACE-funded theatre shows in libraries covered because, well, it’s not really news to anyone else but those wanting to go. And I must admit to taking the decision to not cover the business event in Northamptonshire libraries, although perhaps I should have done (especially to balance out the unremitting disasters otherwise now associated with that borough once lauded as fantastic innovators) because there’s a ton of those as well everywhere. I just assume everyone knows they’re happening. So it’s bias but, hopefully, justified. Let me know if you think otherwise.

But, yes, there’s a lot of good stuff going in the UK too and it’s easy to forget that. In local news, it’s the bad stuff – the cuts – that gets the attention not the good. It’s like that phrase “If it bleeds, it leads” and that’s what PLN reflects when I summarise the reportage. I try to include both the good and the bad and while I once, yes, only really covered the bad news (PLN was described, approvingly as it happens, as “agitprop” in 2011) that’s no longer the case. If one wants a largely only a good news storyline then the Taskforce blog (and I’m not criticising them, I understand the reasoning and I’d do the same in their shows) is the way to go. I imagine Libraries Connected, if it ever does do news (and there’s not much of it at the mo) will be the same.

However, if you have good news to share – and I know many library authorities do – and you want it covered in PLN then I will. Do send in a few words (no more than 200) to me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk and I will see what I can do.

By the way, a note on Devon having 60,000 new members reported last time. I think this is the gross figure but, overall, the loss of existing members means it has seen a reduction in gross terms: from 104,445 in 2015/16 to 98,412 in 2016/17 according to CIPFA.

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A “New Radical” library service, more no fines, and some sad news

Editorial

Libraries Unlimited, although not untouched by controversy, is having a rather food year. It has taken over neighbouring library service Torbay, claims 60,000 new members and is now being held up as a model for others to follow. Other news includes the now normal smattering of staff cuts, new volunteer libraries, reviews, co-locations and, more thankfully, a multi-million pound repair jobs. Also increasingly normal now are reports of library services removing fines. There is now stronger evidence than ever before that removal of fines does not affect returns and can increase use. I expect to see more library services, who can afford it (or who can persuade their councillors it makes excellent public relations) going down this route. Finally, on a sad note, there’s been news that long-time library campaigner Alan Gibbons has lost a son in a road accident. See the fundraising page below and do read the poem, even thought it may have you in tears afterward.

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In praise of Chris Riddell and Neil Gaiman

Editorial

There’s been a few things which have been brilliant in the last ten years of public libraries. The Orkney Library Twitter account (and their wannabe rivals Shetland) is one. The Summer Read Challenge as well The brilliant art of Chris Riddell and words of Neil Gaiman have been another. They’ve both been resolutely pro library for all of this period, with some of the best advocacy artwork and writing coming from them. Do have a read of their essay in pictures and feel proud of being involved in libraries.  Michal Ellis MP, Conservative minister, clearly thinks big new libraries is another good thing in the last decade – me too – although doubtless in his case it’s more a look-what’s-that-behind-you and a nothing-to-do-with-me excuse to the deep cuts in library funding and usage since his party came into office.

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Crowning achievement

Editorial

The big news, especially for those who have been following the drama these last two years, is the announcement that Crown Street Library in Darlington will stay open. This simply would not have happened without the strong public response to the new, the campaigning and protest and, indeed, the legal challenge. The real challenge, though, now will see what the surviving library will look like – the fear is that cuts will be made to staffing and that other services will be brought in, reducing the space and “offer” that has made the library so successful in the first place. But, for now, well done Darlington campaigners. Well done.

Other news that strikes the eye is the large amount of refurbishment going on in Hampshire – well done again – and the confirmation that open technology, which is relatively slowly but surely spreading like self-service did, will be universally adopted in Bracknell Forest. Finally, interesting to note King’s Lynn – not a name that shouts urban deprivation to me – has had to call in the security guards. As a result, I’ve started a twitter poll on security guards in libraries which I’d love it if you could contribute to. Thank you.

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Themes of fewer fines, US ideology, co-locations and the increasingly obvious failure of CIPFA

Editorial

Public Libraries News is back, due to PlusNet slightly messing up a change in internet provider, from a longer than expected Summer break. There are a few main themes over the last few weeks. The first is that there is a continuing move away from charging fines, especially in the USA, that can only be applauded. I also love the idea of providing free telephone access and utilizing Instagram for storytelling. For those entirely envious of our American friends, though, it’s also noticeable that libraries there are under ideological attack from, normally, right-wing evangelical and pro-gun sources. The furore, easily findable on the internet, over drag queen storytimes is quite amazing and compares badly with their easy reception in the UK. Speaking from the standard anti-gun position prevalent in the UK. moreover, it’s easy also to be horrified by the need in some US states to allow the public to come in with hidden firearms.

In England, there’s a continued move towards combining public libraries with other services, often in new but smaller builds. This has clear budgetary and footfall advantages but is sometimes somewhat over the top, as in Newcastle where someone thought it would be a good idea to include a drug and rehabilitation centre in the same building as the children’s library – a move that has not gone down well with residents, especially as this aspect of the development was kept secret until the last moment.

The continued, and embarrassing, failure of the public library sector to get its act together over statistics has hotted up with the Taskforce publicly pointing out the shortcomings of the ridiculously old-fashioned, limited and egregiously expensive CIPFA statistics. The current provision is redolent of the 1950s in its slowness, limitations and blatant secrecy but also combines profiteering so any improvement is to be welcomed. For that to happen, though, the multitude of risk-averse public library services need to actually be willing to openly share data. What they’re scared of – the public becoming aware of reduced usage and cuts in budgets as a result – has already come to pass but this has not yet resulted in concrete action. One hopes the day will come soon.

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There was a time …

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The guide to using the BookStart Bear includes unexpected horrors

A funny thing happened on the way around the library

Editorial

A few “extra” features today, Craft Council have been in touch about their collections and resources for library loan and Silva Linings have similarly contacted in order to let libraries know about a carer-based theatre show they’d love to tour in libraries. There’s also an email from Bristol to let everyone know about the weekly lunchtime lectures they put on there. I love this sharing of info and glad to be service. But I must say I love the idea of entering librarianship “to engage my passion for pushing in other people’s chairs” (and if you don’t know why, you don’t work in a library) even more. And the BookStart Bear guidelines absolutely cracked me up. Working in libraries, I often think one has to have a sense of humour and it’s not shown on PLN enough. What funny thing has happened to you recently?

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