Archive for August, 2012

A beating heart that should not be allowed to stop

News

  • Libraries are the beating heart - Teen Librarian Toolbox (USA). A truly beautiful piece of writing that everyone involved in deciding on the future of libraries, especially the politicians, should read:

… “For 19 years I had the distinct honor of living in Ohio communities with thriving libraries that beat loudly as the heart of their communities.  And now I live in a community without one (I commute 45 minutes to work).  There is no magic in the air here, just commerce and industry and asphalt.  There is no smell of leather and paper.  Dreams and magic don’t waft in the air.  Children don’t sing and shake eggs as their parents sit together and participate in community.  Everywhere you turn it seems we are running out of money; but what happens when we stop our beating heart from beating?  What happens to our communities when we shut the doors on the past and put out the flames of the future?  What happens when we get rid of our librarians who teach our children to sing and dance and shake an egg and love a good story?  What happens when we forget to think and dream, to ask and to answer questions?”

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“I owe my whole life to books from libraries” Zadie Smith Radio 5 Interview

 

The following is a transcription of a three minute interview between Zadie Smith and Richard Bacon on Radio Five todayA year ago she wrote in defence of libraries and her passion has not dimmed.

Zadie Smith: When we were children, you’d never imagine that you’d get into a Right/Left argument about the purpose and use of a library.  It seems extraordinary to me.

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The SCL spells it out

As the policy states, SCL supports volunteering. In some cases local policy will mean that this can result in job substitution.Tony Durcan of the Society of Chief Librarians on its volunteering policy.  See SCL on volunteers replacing staff – Question Everything

The above quotation, elaborating on the SCL policy on volunteers, clearly states (rather than skirting around the issue) for the first time that the SCL accepts direct substitution of paid members of staff by volunteers in certain circumstances.  Its doing so will shock very few people who have had an awareness of what has been happening in library authorities over the last couple of years.  I would recommend everyone in the profession who thinks they have job security (can there be anyone like that?) to read the complete article here. An explanation of why it is different to the recently adopted policy of CILIP, which is clearly against substitution, can be found in a comment on  this previous Public Libraries News blog post:

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How many new libraries are being built?

The Labour Party and the Conservatives have been engaged in a spat for a little while about the numbers of libraries closed, under threat and being built. The figures from Public Libraries News was one of the weapons in that battle for those closed or under threat but, until today, there has not been a listing for those new libraries being built. This changed when Conservative Home published an article claiming that Conservatives are opening lots of new libraries (see Conservative councils are opening new libraries). Using the details from this page and from a very helpful reply to my email to the DCMS, this blog now has a dedicated page to listing such matters.

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Eye-watering vs. eye-catching

I’ve been on holiday for a few days so a bumper posting today.  Tim Coates/Bilbary is a big thing in the general news, with the plan to share UK Bilbary e-book profits with Kensal Rise campaigners (edit: if purchased via the Kensal Rise website) being especially eye-catching.  The cuts in South Tyneside with one-third (17 out of 54) staff being made voluntarily redundant is more eye-watering than eye-catching.  The Council predictably wants to take up the resultant gaping hole in its staffing with volunteers.  Using developers in order to pay for new buildings is also something of a theme.

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Volunteer libraries: Third Sector article sets cat amongst pigeons once more

There is an in-depth look at volunteer-run libraries on the Third Sector website (Analysis: the libraries that have been taken over by volunteers).  The article acknowledges  their successes but also the opposition against them. It’s also very interesting to note that the Third Sector Research Centre itself thinks that core council services (by implication including libraries) may well be unsuitable for volunteers.  The article looks at three examples:

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What the Dickens…

 

News

  • Brief history of American bookmobiles … in pictures - BookRiot (USA).  From the first (1910) mobile – a carriage with books in it pulled by a horse – to the latest PC-laden mobile conferencing articulated lorry, the history of US mobile libraries.
  • Children’s literature needs our libraries - Guardian. Schools and libraries, higher education and libraries need to work closely together.  Joint public and university libraries like the Hive and children’s story museums go some way to help this … “At a time when reading skills are more important than ever to determining a child’s future options in life, we are lucky that children’s books, picture books, poetry and nursery rhymes are available in wonderful variety to our children. Libraries keep that variety alive.”

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“Dead again”

News

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10 volunteer branches on cards as Surrey scrutiny over-ruled, outsourced Hounslow consultation

 

For a look at the ConservativeHome article arguing that Labour closes more branches than the Conservatives do, please see this post below.  In other news, Surrey has voted to go ahead with volunteers taking over ten libraries, despite this apparently not saving any money.  There’s also news of a consultation from Hounslow, the only library authority currently run by a private company.

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Discuss: “The Labour Party are responsible for more closures than the Conservatives”

One of the most influential and famous Conservative websites, called Conservative Home, has produced an article based on the Public Libraries News lists of closed libraries to argue that “Library closures are overwhelmingly taking place under Labour councils“.  It suggests that the headline figure of closures used by Dan Jarvis uses – which includes those libraries now run by unpaid local users – is misleading because “Often when the community takes over a library from the council it not just saves money but does a better job. There is more innovation and the number of users rises.”  The article points out the that Public Libraries News tally shows that more closures are occurring in Labour areas than Conservative ones.

So what should we make of this? Well, on one level it shows the joy of political football and how statistics can be used to show anything one wants to if one tries hard enough.  On another it serves a useful purpose, not least in its comments section, in showing the arguments used in favour and against volunteer-run libraries.  In fact, the (as I type) 33 comments after this piece so neatly show the political views and arguments on both sides that I feel the need to list them here:

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