Archive for November, 2012

No to getting axe for your tax: Sefton and Wolverhampton protests

The size of the protests in Sefton against library closures there is quite impressive – thousands have raised their voices.  Clearly, the people there are not happy about having local services axed while being still having to pay their tax. These protests can have an impact as those in Wolverhampton have found with some, but by no means all, of their libraries saved from closure. It’s interesting to see that rare beast, the entirely-self-service library being an option that looks likely to become reality for one of these branches. Moving away from campaigning, it’s great to note that, for a trial period, public libraries will be able to lend CDs from the day of their release rather than (as before) waiting for three months.

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People power: the Community Right to Bid & Wolverhampton (sort of) bows to pressure.

The “community right to bid” legislation was brought in to help local people purchase important council buildings/land that may otherwise be lost.  If you’re not familiar with it, have a look at this webpage, because libraries under threat of closure are very much in this category as well. The power of the community, this time without legal redress, appears to have made a difference in Wolverhampton with the Council now proposing to keep six libraries in their current locations.   Finally, The Arts Council England chief, Alan Davey, answered a few library related questions during a live online chat today, one of which from the arch-library investigator, pen-name Ruby Malvolio, who has written a post pointing out the DCMS still seems confused about ACE’s role.

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Who Else

Neutrality is difficult if you need the money

An incident at the volunteer-run Primrose Hill Library highlights one of the problems facing the Brave New World of libraries that have had their council funding withdrawn.  A new shop run by a chain (Space.NK in this case but it could have been anyone) attempted to donate some money to the library but is refused.  Local traders had campaigned against the shop and had even managed a 1000-name petition against it.

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A £189m lego ferry, a permanent second-hand library bookshop, and book sculptures

News that catches my eye today includes the Telegraph article regretting the loss of the old Birmingham Library. Apparently, it was originally designed to be in marble.  The author compares the new, somewhat more showy building, as resembling a lego ferry.  Hmmm. They’re obviously more down to earth in East Sussex, where they have announced the first ever permanent second-hand bookshop within a library.  The most exciting news, though, is nothing to do with withdrawn library books but rather that,  the pro-library book sculptor has struck again in Scotland and has announced she (for it is a she) has produced five more works as part of Book Week Scotland.

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A Hive of noisy activity

One of the great hopes for a new public library future may be in doubt as the flagship co-located public/university library “The Hive” is receiving a pile of complaints of students.  It seems that academics need peace and quiet to study while public library users (such as children) are – shock – noisy.  Other reports include some serious problem behaviour (inc. illicit sex) going on in one of the public areas.  While the story may not be as bad as it seems (and the University is trying to dampen it, despite 200 “likes” on a Facebook comment saying it is a problem), it does raise the important issue about co-location.

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Yes, Secretary of State, libraries ARE thriving: in China, in South Korea …

 The Secretary of State showed that she was continuing with the “libraries are thriving” party line, first seen in a speech by Ed Vaizey, when she was asked a question on Mumsnet.  That she appeared to not answer the question is also worthy of note.

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“Arts and culture no longer affordable”

The horror of the Newcastle cuts continues to make the main news splash, with Alan Gibbons and friends showing the power of authors in library campaigning.  The media love celebrities because well-known people sell papers.  I even notice this on Public Libraries News when I put the name of someone famous as the blog title.: one of the most popular posts ever was one on Stephen Fry and another “big seller” was on Zadie Smith.  If you want to harness this power, I’ve done a list of celebrities who have gone on record as supporting libraries here which all are free to use.  Of course, another reason why authors make good coverage is that they’re so good at using words.  Read Philip Pullman on libraries sometime or quotes from the Newcastle protests meeting to see what I mean.

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Back from the aftermath of the tsunami to the devastation in Newcastle

The cuts in Newcastle make a splash again today, with details of the emergency protest meeting.  There’s also a damning attack on the council by the writer of Billy Elliott, Lee Hall, where he attacks the council for going against its socialist principles.  There’s also some cautiously optimistic fallout from the appointment of Yinnon Ezra as DCMS advisor on libraries.

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Print still matters

The delightfully named SCOOP (Standing Committee on Official Publications) has been in touch about a project that aims to retain vital legal records. The Print Still Matters project has the ambition of listing all the holdings of printed Official Publications  within UK Libraries.  This is so that access to these valuable records can be maintained, that one does not have to go to London to get them and that there is some knowledge of how rare particular titles are.

This comes at a critical time as libraries and other stores are faced with cutting costs and moving towards online resources.  In this, there is a danger that some vital printed documents are discarded.  Cut to the quick by this threat to our heritage, I asked a few questions of Peter Chapman, the project co-ordinator, who kindly enlightened me as to what is involved:

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Yinnon Ezra, Jeanette Winterson and the end of the Equality Impact Assessment


In a press release today, the DCMS has announced its new library advisor:

“Yinnon Ezra MBE, a former Director of Culture, Communities and Rural Affairs at Hampshire County Council, has been appointed to a the part-time role at DCMS as an expert advisor on the public library service, working closely with Arts Council England (ACE) and local authorities. Yinnon will work directly with library authorities who are identified as being ‘at risk’ of falling short of their statutory duty as a result of revisions to their library services.  He will also advise ministers on their duty to superintend library services.”

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