“Libraries Unlimited” indeed – Devon expands

Editorial

Devon are the first of the library-only mutual to expand beyond its borders by taking over Torbay.  It’s a natural fit – Torbay is small and next-door – but signals the mutual need not just stay in their boundaries. GLL may have competition in sucking up library services, especially with the Government/Taskforce so openly backing the library mutual model. Meanwhile in Sheffield, the bizarre scheme to sell the central library to the Chinese as a luxury hotel in a £1 billion development has hit the buffers of reality: there may a £20m scheme for the library instead, although there is support for simply refurbishing the existing building. Good to see a new library – delightfully named “Cat and Mouse” opening in Islington and also that Gateshead, faced with charging the unemployed for seeking work online, ending computer charges. On the downside, another school library service – that of Derbyshire – is under threat.

Changes

National news

  • Connecting Students with Technology in the School Library – Leon’s Library Blog. “highlights the effective use of technology to enhance the student experience and challenge the apathy many students feel towards reading both for pleasure and educational purposes”
  • ‘No more buck-passing’, says Carnegie Diversity report – BookSeller. “Sparked by backlash over the 2017 Carnegie longlist in February, which did not include a single black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) writer … participants want to see partnerships develop between publishers, librarians and literacy organisations, working together to grow the profile of children’s literature, change perceptions of diversity issues and drive societal change.””
  • PPRG Marketing Excellence Conference 2018 – CILIP. 19th January, Birmingham. “The digital marketing morning workshop will be an opportunity to hear about and try several tools as well as consider how these can be embedded into your overall marketing strategy. “
  • Trust announces 3rd round of Library Lab – Carnegie UK. “Carnegie Library Lab provides a unique opportunity for public library staff across the UK and Ireland to develop skills, expertise and experience in innovation and leadership.   The initiative, which has supported 13 participants to date, across two cohorts, offers … “[ Please let there be no more makerspace bids. Can someone do one on how best to promote and display books please? – Ed.]

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Australia – Training Needs Analysis for Library Workers – LTSA. “This Training Needs Analysis compares your skills and knowledge to those required to be competent at a Diploma of library and information services level.”
  • Australia – WA’s public libraries to be brought out of the 1950s – West Australian. “the planned changes come with a warning that the State’s libraries are under pressure from a growing population and in regional areas poor facilities and alack of qualified staff and infrastructure.  A lack of coordinated planning has also resulted in “too many libraries” servicing parts of the metropolitan area, with some just 5km apart. Under changes to be announced today a 1950s-era funding model will be axed in favour of one that gives libraries more freedom to spend State Government funding on things other than books”
  • Colombia – Libraries are transforming Colombia’s ‘machine gun city’ – CNN. “since the first of 10 “library parks” was unveiled in 2008, they have become anchors for the community, Hincapié said. Residents have taken ownership of the libraries and are shaping their communities around them. “

“The libraries aren’t just for reading and borrowing books — their impressive architecture houses exhibition halls, classrooms and auditoriums that host reading lessons for children and adults, as well as workshops on tech and robotics. The sprawling parks that surround them provide respite from the urban sprawl and a connection to nature. “More than having well equipped, architecturally beautiful buildings, what we prioritized is to have symbols”

  • Global – Creating a voice for the library: storytelling, experience and play – Princh / Matt Finch. “a chat with Matt Finch, a creative researcher working with libraries in Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and the USA to help them use storytelling with the community when creating a voice for the library” … “Libraries were always about this kind of exploration and unpredictability; even old-school librarians weren’t teachers or preachers, they let you choose and read and interpret each book for yourself. Public libraries are unlikely to develop Star Trek-style holodecks, but they are getting good at letting users determine their own experiences and letting communities decide what they want for themselves.”
  • Iraq – Here’s Why These Libraries On Wheels Are Rolling Into Combat Zones – Good Education. “In Iraq, War Child UK has set up several child-friendly spaces for those who have been displaced by the conflicts. The group has also rolled out a number of mobile libraries, which offers children and adults access to books that not only help to take their mind off the violence, but also help them to continue their education. For many children, the learning spaces and libraries have been a godsend”
  • USA – The Public – YouTube (trailer). Major all-star movie on how the homeless crisis affects a public library and how the librarian (Emilio Estevez) reacts. Lines from the trailer include “The public library is the last bastion of true democracy we have in this country” and the (and we’ve all heard this one) “It must be nice to be able to read all day”. see also Emilio Estevez’s ‘The Public’ to Open Santa Barbara International Film Festival – Variety.
  • USA – Smiley statue could be on its way to Stouffville library – York Region. “Chances are if you frequented the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library the last 10 years, you would have run into Smiley, the blind therapy dog, and owner Joanne George. For years they were fixtures at the library, taking part in the reading program weekly. That partnership came to an end in October when Smiley passed away after battling cancer. But that doesn’t mean you will never see Smiley at the library again as a Smiley statue could be on its way to the library. Earlier this month the library board approved a plan for a statue to be located in the new library’s courtyard to welcome patrons and remind people what Smiley contributed to the community.” … “The beloved canine had fans all over with a staggering social medial presence of 107,000 followers on Facebook and 188,000 followers on Instagram.”

Local news by authority

“One pound from my pigey bank to help the libry to stay open. I would not like it to shut because I like to borrow books. I like to read because I like to find out about things and reading stories. Love from Oliver Trethewey, Aged five and a half”

  • Gateshead – Gateshead Council scraps computer charge in libraries -Northern Echo. “The charge, which is payable by anyone using a library computer to go online in the Gateshead area, is to be scrapped with immediate effect. The decision was taken after the authority realised that the charge was proving a barrier to people looking for jobs or making a benefit claim online. Both the £1 per session and the £3.50 annual subscription have been scrapped.”
  • Hillingdon – ‘Magic table’ games for people with dementia launched in libraries – Hillingdon Council. “An innovative Dutch invention that provides stimulating light games for people with dementia was officially unveiled at Uxbridge Library on Friday 24 November, as part of the council’s ongoing efforts to make Hillingdon a dementia friendly community”
  • Islington – Islington celebrates opening of Cat and Mouse Library – London’s newest library – Islington Council media Centre. “Cat And Mouse Library, at 277 Camden Road, N7 0JN, includes new computers, study space, new books for adults, teens and children and is fully accessible” … “Cat and Mouse Library replaces John Barnes Library, which closed its doors in 2015 as part of a major Islington Council project to build new council homes as well as a new library. Its name was chosen to reflect the link between the suffrage movement and nearby Holloway prison, and pay homage to the heroism of women trying to obtain the vote.”
  • Lambeth – Rally to support Lambeth’s fantastic public libraries – Lambeth Life. “why is Lambeth council spending millions on wrecking its brilliant library service, when it could save millions by keeping it?” … “four libraries trashed in various ways; the bill maybe £7 million, with more to come. ” … “Lambeth has just 10 libraries – one per 32,000 people. Once it had 15, but it keeps closing them – despite huge opposition, every time.” … “Lambeth libraries have led the nation (alongside well-funded Manchester) in having increased visits and loans and memberships. Something to boast about, you’d think. But no. The council’s riposte in January 2015 was to demand a whacking additional cut of £800,000″
  • Lancashire – Community groups set to take over 5 buildings – 2BR. “It’ll see two independent community-run libraries being established, as well as a range of other services. The proposals relate to Upholland Library, Crawshawbooth Library and Community Centre, Whitewell Bottom Community Centre, Brunshaw Young People’s Centre, and Heysham Community Swimming Pool” … “The cabinet today agreed in principle an application for the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of Upholland Library in West Lancashire to Artz for All, a community interest company which provides creative opportunities and services to people, schools and organisations across the district” … “The cabinet also agreed to complete the transfer of Crawshawbooth Library and Community Centre in Rossendale to the Crawshawbooth Community Association after an earlier decision to agree their asset transfer application in principle. “
  • Lancashire – Joy as libraries are to reopen – Blackpool Gazette. “the new Tory leadership at County Hall said when elected in May it would look to reopen them and has now agreed that Thornton will reopen in mid February next year with plans to reopen Cleveleys later in the spring.” … ““Thornton is being tidied up ready for use. I would like to see it become a centre for the community, perhaps with a cafe and the Post Office in there too. Everyone needs to get behind our libraries they are so important”
  • Leeds – Take a look at the Harry Potter magic that has taken over Leeds City Library – Leeds Live. “Workshops, talks and special family events are planned to coincide with the exhibition and Potter fanatics will have the chance to learn more about the folklore and history which inspired the magic in Harry Potter.”
  • Lincolnshire – No progress on Holbeach library move before February – Spalding Today. “Holbeach Parish Council has made known its interest in moving into the town’s former library, but members expect to hear nothing more before February”
  • Renfrewshire – Plans for £5 million Paisley library unveiled – Daily Record. “Paisley town centre will be rejuvenated if ambitious plans for a £5million library are approved. Council chiefs want to move the lending collection further down the High Street into a state-of-the-art building. They unveiled blueprints for the massive project in the week the 2021 City of Culture winner is announced.”
  • St Helens – Library dismay – St Helens Star. “Why aren’t these buildings checked year on year and repairs carried out instead of ignoring the small problems until they become huge? I doubt St Helens Town Hall is left when repairs are needed as that would upset all the councillors who use it. I know other libraries are opening longer but they don’t have as many services as Central Library and it means more travelling for people”
  • Sheffield – Moving beyond hotel plan with library and arts centre vision in Sheffield city centre – Sheffield Star. “Sheffield’s Central Library and Graves Gallery building is highly unlikely to be converted into a five-star hotel – as plans are being drawn up to turn the entire venue into a landmark cultural hub as well as creating a £20 million library in the city’s new retail quarter” … “The council says it is still working with the company on other potential projects in Sheffield, including residential developments, and the idea of a five-star hotel elsewhere in the city centre has not been dropped. However, a consultation is about to be launched on building a new Central Library”
  • Shropshire Question mark over Shropshire’s libraries as future of only seven are secured – Shropshire Star. “The future of the county’s seven main libraries is secure but Shropshire Council can not guarantee the prospects of 14 smaller ones, it has been revealed.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Thornbury library move given go-ahead – Gazette. “library in Thornbury is to be relocated despite opposition to the move after councillors voted unanimously in favour of the proposal. The facility’s fate was decided following lively debate at a South Gloucestershire Council cabinet meeting on Monday. The proposal put forward by Conservatives on the council to move the library from its current location on St Mary Street to Turnberrie’s Community Centre is now set to go ahead.”
  • Staffordshire – Chance to have say on future of local libraries – Sentinel. “Feedback from the informal events will help develop the proposals that will be consulted on in the New Year. The consultation will help the service plan ahead for the next three years”
  • South Tyneside – Four at risk South Tyneside libraries could now stay open in council deal – Chronicle. “Voluntary groups have come forward to run Whitburn, East Boldon, Boldon Lane and Primrose libraries”
  • Torbay – Toilets and library services go as Torbay Council tries to balance the books – Devon Live. “Elsewhere on the agenda, councillors agreed to hand library services over to an external operator. This will not affect the library buildings at Torquay, Paignton, Churston and Brixham themselves” … “Cllr Richard Haddock says handing the library services to Libraries Unlimited would save money, safeguard jobs, meet the needs of the community and allow the council to retain control of the library accommodation. It could take effect from April 2018″
  • Walsall – Walsall’s Central Library to shut for 10 months in £4.3m revamp – Express and Star. “Walsall’s Central Library will close in February for 10 months as £4.3 million improvement work is carried out.”
  • Warrington – ‘We didn’t give up’ – campaigners welcome library recommendations after thousands ‘made voices heard’ – Warrington Guardian. “Grappenhall resident Dina Kingsnorth-Baird, founder of the Save Warrington’s Libraries group, hailed campaigners for their tireless efforts following the news. She said: “All libraries are important. “They all matter and they are very much our libraries.”

Good news and Christmas

Editorial

Good to see library news connecting with the general goodwill of the season. A news article from Warrington reports that no libraries may close (a big turnaround from the original proposals), although of course the devil may be in the detail, as yet unseen. Also – and I love this – West Dunbartonshire are putting out to consultation (rather than just voting through) deep cuts in their library opening hours due to a well-timed letter from CILIPS. Well done Scottish CILIP people. And it may be Christmas for Derby libraries every day as the council catches on, finally, that Section 106 money from new housing can be used for library projects. But the big applause must go to the library team at Plymouth who are keeping their library open on Christmas Day. It can be the loneliest day for so many so this is a really warm-hearted move. Well done those who volunteered to work that day. I hope it goes well, and the mince pies are delicious.

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Christmas for GLL, London library property boom and Japanese success

Editorial

Some interesting news stories today. GLL have officially taken over another library service, meaning they’re now running, by my count, five. In a further sign, if any were needed, that London is an increasingly foreign city compared to the rest of the country, another library there gets a new building as part of a property deal that would not have been so possible anywhere without its insanely high property prices. And then we have Christmas creeping up on us, with a story in the Guardian of how dedicated librarians are even at Christmas. This article also mentions the large number of volunteers being used, which ties in with an advert also today for a paid PhD on volunteers, describing them as “crucial” for the library service. No mention of volunteers, though, from Japan, where a new combined bookshop/library/restaurant model is apparently going great guns.

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Trustees and updates

Editorial

Congratulations to those voted in as Trustees for CILIP, especially public libraries blogger Leon Bolton whose blogging career I have watched with great interest. There’s a few ongoing fights in various library services, including an interesting suggestion from Warrington’s auditors about the need to consider other bidders for library services. The deep cuts to Northamptonshire libraries are again in the news too (and I’d like to point out they only had 36 branches to begin with, not the bigger number I have accidentally given them in previous posts), as are the final dates for some of Bury libraries to close. The long-running legal fight in Darlington will continue, with the judge saying there’s just enough evidence to move the review on to the next level.

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When a £50k cut comes as relief: Suffolk 2018/21. £950k cut in Bradford.

Editorial

It comes to something when a cut of £50k is something to be treated with relief but that’s the case in Suffolk Libraries, which appears to have negotiated a four-year agreement that will make pretty much every other library service in the country weak with envy. Well done to them. Bradford are not so lucky with a deep cut of £950k just announced, on top of the deep cuts which that city has had to endure a year or two ago. That cuts are the order of the day, and a £50k on can be seen as little short of miraculous, pretty much underlines the view of a roundtable discussion at the Palace of Westminster this week. But I wish it was not so. And it’s Christmas-time so, if you can, try to think positive thoughts and perhaps tune into #uklibchat soon to discuss all that is great and good in libraries. And, despite, austerity, that’s still quite a lot.

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Bristol delays cuts due to government funds, and a CILIP-led school library protest letter

Editorial

Two key news stories for me this post. The first is from Bristol, which has temporarily a deep cut to its libraries while it looks in to the possibilities of mutual and co-locations. This is coming about from government money designed to encourage mutual and it’s unusual for such a delay in libraries due to Government funding, although the strong push towards such trusts has been notable for years. I suspect the depth of the cuts and the level of protest had something to do with it.

The other is a CILIP-led protest letter, signed by authors and others, against cuts to school libraries. It started with a tweet and snowballed into a major (well, for libraries, anyway) news story. I got some serious deja vu from it as you may recall a similar mass protest letter against public library closures a few years ago. The difference now is that CILIP was key to the action, while back in the old days of 2011, it hadn’t quite got the hang of protest or realised how deep and prolonged the cuts will be. That has all changed now and the organisation is earning its subscription fee to both public and school libraries.

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Libraries are here to share info, not hide it: the joy of Open Data

Editorial

I was at the rather marvellous “Voyage of the Data Treader” unconference yesterday. There were quite a few big learning points for me during the day. The first was that “open data” if done properly can help reputation (not damage it, as many fear), save money (fewer Freedom of Information requests) and can lead to unexpected things. This last shouldn’t have surprised me because – you see that map on the righthand side of the website? – that was done by Libraries Hacked using PLN blog entries. I had no idea it was possible before he did it as I just don’t code. What made it “open data” is that I had taken the decision years ago to publish with a creative commons license meaning anyone could use it. I hadn’t realised that it was “open data” at the time (and it was 2010 so very few probably did) but I’m glad I made that decision. Newcastle is too, by the way – apparently, it’s adherence to publishing its data saves it £250k on FOI requests.

Another thought. Public libraries suffer a lot from not having their enough about them public. The Libraries Taskforce lacks the power to force authorities to make them public and there’s no chance the current government would give them that power. So “open data” in libraries has to be voluntary. To do this, there will need to be awareness of both the carrot (save money, look good to your public) and the stick (“what is your council hiding?”, how come it’s not one of the “open” ones?). We’ll see if that works. But the mood yesterday was clearly that things were moving towards more “open” sharing of information. And that can only be a good thing. After all, I’m sure none of us joined the library sector to hide information.

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Library chuggers coming soon? Suffolk Libraries decides the best person to run it is not a librarian

Editorial

Library trusts in England haven’t been around for long, with the oldest being just two or three years old. As such, their chiefs are the library managers who took them out of council control. So the first changing of the guard, caused by the retirement of the Suffolk boss Alison Wheeler, was an interesting one to watch, and not least because of the 17-page vacancy pack. No, it was one to watch to see who would get it and where they would come from. And now we know. It’s someone from a charity and with apparently no library experience. That gives a clear indicator as to the direction of travel Suffolk has already gone on: the skills needed are now those of an independent fundraiser and not of a public librarian. It’s a truism that the higher up an organisation one goes then the less specialist skills you need and that’s the case in libraries as well as elsewhere, and Suffolk is not the first library service to have a non-librarian running it by any means. But it gives a view into the future, and the present, that would perhaps have surprised those in the library sector ten years ago and shows the financial and political pressures that such services are expected to have to face.

Interestingly Hertfordshire have just announced that they’re thinking of going down to the libraries trust route because it is “supported by national government” and it’s certainly true the Taskforce is heavily pushing the model. As funding is reduced in authority after authority, on a cycle of every two to four years, the siren call of the Trust is going to get louder. But it means that library services will become more akin to charities than statutory council run services, with all that implies. The first library chugger may not be far away.

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A quiet few days: Cumbria, Anglesey and a fracking fund

Editorial

A reasonably quiet couple of days with a few libraries threatened in Cumbria and more detail on what is likely to happen in Anglesey. There’s a somewhat hard to believe report that fracking will result in £1 billion of community grants for groups, but it specifically mentions libraries so here’s hoping. There’s also a couple of things about health and wellbeing from the LGA and Task Force.

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The future is here, so just look around

Editorial

“The future is here, it’s just not widely distributed yet” is a quote by William Gibson that I have had a chance to reflect on recently. I was asked to do a 15 minute lightning talk on the future of libraries by Oxford University Press, which got me thinking. How on earth do you know what the future holds? Well, taking Gibson at face value, you can just look around. One of the key things I noticed was that three of the library services around the table had been quite happily giving library membership for years without any ID requirements and with no ill effects. This came as a shock to the other library services who are still, presumably, turning away prospective members on an hourly basis due to the tradition of not trusting people. The future was there, around the table, and one only needed to look. I notice this repeatedly. What is done in one authority, sometimes neighbouring ones, is simply not known or not trusted in others. It’s a case of “not invented here” on a national scale and one which does not bode well for the sector.

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