Things that catch my eye today are: thee likely closure of several libraries in Sefton continues to make the news, with the most notable new development being the actress (Jean Alexander) who used to play Hilda Ogden joining the fray;  down south, the group occupying Friern Barnet Library are going to court tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10am.  Supporters are urged to follow the hashtag #savefblibrary or to sign the petition;  That rare thing, a new library, is starting to be built in Essex, although there are rumours received by Public Libraries News that those staffing it will be largely unpaid.  Today is also the day for libraries to start submitting grants for £6m for Arts Council England funding,  Finally, the reason why old books smell nice is explained.


  • Idea Box draws community to public library – Boing Boing (USA). “The Idea Box is highly visible; every visitor to the library walks past it, so everything that takes place there has to be interesting, interactive, community-focused and participatory. Another goal is that the exhibitions appeal to all age groups. For National Poetry Month, the library painted the Idea Box walls with magnetic paint and filled them with magnetic poetry that visitors could use to create their own poems. Customer Service Manager Monica Harris noted how successful this exhibition was in terms of engaging all age groups: ‘You’ve got small kids in here, you’ve got senior citizens in here, you’ve got teenagers in here, and everybody is kind of doing their own thing and looking at each other’s work…Everyone can really approach this on their own level and make it work for them.”
  • Helen Nicoll obituary – Guardian.  The author behind Meg and Mog has died.  “Helen Nicoll, who has died aged 74, was best known as the writer of the Meg and Mog books for children. When we first decided to create a picture book about a witch and her cat, in the early 1970s, my condition as the illustrator was that if the witch were to make a spell, it must never work – and that is how the series began.”
  • Librarians vs. users – Undaimonia. Sometimes the interests of users clash with library users (e.g. over Manchester Library): “Libraries serve humanity. The definition of the word ‘serve’ makes this a more complicated statement than it first appears. When the users’ desire does not align with the librarians’ judgement, to whom do we listen? The answer is probably balance, a nuanced approach, exercising individual judgement, not making sweeping generalisations about every possible situation, etc etc. As ever, life turns out to be more complex than tidy little aphorisms would often suggest. “
  • Libraries fund open for applications – LocalGov.  “Public libraries are being urged to apply for a share of £6m funding, in a bid to get local people involved with arts and cultural activities. The Arts Council England grants has opened for applications today and will run until March 2015.”
  • Not so ACEQuestion Everything. A look at the Arts Council England survey of public libraries.  “I only hope ACE got this at a very cheap price. I was amazed that ACE are only doing a online survey considering the demographic of library users, I myself only found out about it via twitter, there was nothing in our library (as far as I can see) about this and you can count the twitter users in our local library on one finger. ” … “Why are they not even trying to promote this survey to get a full range of views? Obvious answer is that its just another box ticking exercise to say they have consulted in the piss poor excuse for democracy we have in this country. Sigh”
  • Reason old books smell so wonderful – Chicago Public Library.  Apparently, old books release the odour of vanilla.  Who knew?
  • Ruskin College’s cultural legacy at risk – Guardian / Letters.  “As historians and educationists, we have opposed the closure of libraries and local museums, and rejected the government’s message that the cultural legacies of the past are luxuries we cannot afford. In this context, we are surprised to learn of recent actions by the management and governors of Ruskin College, Oxford, a labour movement institution that has contributed enormously to the understanding of ordinary and hidden pasts. Although some signatories have already been in correspondence on this, concerns continue.” Signed by 15 academics.


Local News

  • Barnet – Reopen Friern Barnet Library – 38 Degrees / Petition.  “We the residents, students and workers, are petitioning Barnet Council to RE-OPEN our local library. Friern Barnet Library in its present place and shape is an integral part of community life in the surrounding area. We want a cheerful local library. This is a chance for Barnet Council to show they ARE listening to local residents and reverse the bad feeling caused by the closure of this lovely library.” 438 signatures at time of checking.

“Tweet msgs of support to the Friern Barnet library occupiers using hashtag #SaveFBLibrary. They’re in court tomorrow at 10am”

Dear Mr Seaman, I understand that All Souls is expected to make a decision soon on the bid by the Friends of Kensal Rise Library to run this well-used, much-loved popular neighbourhood resource. In a clear demonstration of support for the Friends’ bid, a total of £80,300 has been raised to date from 566 supporters. Meantime, over 4,000 people have signed the petition requesting that the Fellows transfer the freehold of the building to the Friends, under the Charities Act 2011. This is in order to enable its renewed use for its original purpose – a local library for local residents. Does All Souls really NEED the rent from leasing/selling this building which was, after all, built from public taxation and donations, a fact of which I trust the Fellows are fully cognisant? Will your members rest easy seeing their prestigious college becoming, in effect, poacher of a genuinely local facility? I hope, in light of the above, that the Fellows will do the right thing and agree to re-gift the building back to the people of Brent. That would be something to be proud of!” Meg Howarth to All Souls College regarding forthcoming decision on future of Kensal Rise Library (via Email).
  • Blackburn with Darwen – Friends fear more Darwen library hours cuts – Citizen.  ““Blackburn with Darwen Council say there will be another round of cuts We don’t want Darwen Library to be affected. “It is number one on the Darwen Heritage Trail for one thing. “We need to retain that service and work through the cuts as best we can.”
  • Essex – Work starts on Springfield Library: just 27 years overdue – This is Total Essex.  “Springfield are celebrating after building work on their community library started – 27 years after it was mooted. Springfield Parish Council and Essex county councillors, wearing hard hats and high-viz jackets, cut a small square of turf to officially launch the construction of Springfield library.” … “The two councils will share the £800,000 cost of building the education centre at Springfield Parish Centre in St Augustine’s Way.”

“So many people in our community have given us really positive feedback about this project, not one negative comment has been said. “People have come in especially just to say, ‘is that really the start of the library?'”

  • Lambeth – Libraries host black history month – Lambeth News. “Libraries across Lambeth are playing host to a programme of exciting and free cultural and artistic events celebrating Black History Month 2012, starting on Tuesday 2nd October with a talk at Waterloo Library (7pm) commemorating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Panama Canal and the black community’s contribution to the canal’s history.”
  • Oxfordshire – New school library makes for happy reading – Oxford Mail.  “The pupils were involved in every stage of the process, helping choose which books would line the shelves and working with architects on how they would like it to look.”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – Local MP encourages people to get online at an East Riding Library About My Area.”Graham Stuart, the MP for Beverley and Holderness, is encouraging people to visit East Riding libraries during Get Online Week from 15th to 22nd October. Everyone is invited to drop into their local library for a free session. Library staff will be on hand to help anyone wishing to explore information and help navigate a selection of websites.”
  • North Tyneside – Libraries introduce new internet charges – Chronicle series. “People can access the internet on People’s Network PCs for free for 30 minutes. After that, there will be a charge of £1 per hour. However, there will be unlimited free access to desktop computing programmes and to selected websites, including those relating to areas such as job seeking, health, benefits and finance, North Tyneside Council’s website, and Tyne and Wear Homefinder.”
  • Sefton – Libraries closure threat– BBC.  Options are “closing 10 libraries and leaving three open in Southport, Maghull and Netherton; closing seven buildings and creating five “township” libraries; or keeping all libraries open and reducing opening hours. Mr Millburn said: “The meeting is to agree a consultation process so no decisions will be made. “There are 150,000 registered users in the last 12 months, and 50,000 of those registered users visited the library and took a book out over the last 12 months.”
  • Coronation Street great Jean Alexander criticises library closure plans – Liverpool Daily Post.  “Southport resident Jean – who played iconic Corrie star Hilda Ogden – spoke out against the plans, which will save as little as £400,000 per year.”
“I am speaking for all the people who rely on libraries. They are the lifeblood of our communities.”We rely on libraries for entertainment, for knowledge, to be able to go out and meet people.”So many older people live on their own and libraries are a place where people can go out and meet other people instead of staying inside talking to themselves.”It is essential that they stay open. It is astonishing that people we elect can close them down without a second thought. It is a scandal.”
  • Formby library under threat in cuts – Formby Times. “More than 1.2m people visited Sefton libraries last year but many of the buildings are in need of costly restoration work that the council cannot afford. With several of these libraries desperate for funding to improve their buildings this measure would save £130k a year. The impending cull was labelled as “completely unacceptable” by Sefton’s Liberal Democrat opposition. Cllr Haydn Preece, a founder member of Friends of Ainsdale Library, vowed to “fight tooth and nail” to save “a central part of our village community”.”