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.

The library user, you see, sometimes needs a different environment than the other person sharing the space.  Another page on Public Libraries News  links 24 different types of partner in the UK.  While some, like the police, may solve the problem behaviour issue (assuming, of course, the library is not being used for cells), others may cause conflicts.  One of the more obvious problems is which one of the tenants gets priority.  Does the library user have to walk through a pile of other services (like the gauntlet run by many through the perfume counters in department store entrances) in order to get to the books?  There’s also the less obvious but very real problem that libraries become seen as just another council service and thus lose their value as neutral and welcoming spaces.

In reality, though, co-location may be the least of all available evils.  Many of the new buildings and refurbishments currently under way are due to the need to move council services from different buildings to being under just one cost-saving roof.  When faced with no library or a shared library, the answer is often a no-brainer.  There are also advantages to the deal for the library beyond mere survival.  Those other service users may join the library and use its services.  Some traditionalists will disagree but a supermarket and a library may be a natural mix.  After all, there’s ample parking and customers automatically have a means of moving heavy books around.  They also have to go once a week.  The supermarket gains “locked in” customers who know they have to come back in order to return their books.  The library gains access to pretty much the whole local population.  This may or may be successful but one is for sure, co-location may be here to stay.

News

  • 5,000 Bulgarians find a job thanks to public libraries - Focus.  ““Around 5,000 people managed to find a job through the public library and consultations with librarians,” said Trendafil Meretev, head of the Global Libraries – Bulgaria, in an interview with FOCUS News Agency.
    “More than 130,000 individual consultations with citizens were made. In line with the educational elements, information and training in information and communications technologies, in addition many people started very actively looking for information about private business, education abroad, job searching and others,” Meretev remarked. 960 libraries in Bulgaria are supplied with computers and have free internet for the visitors, while 2,500 libraries underwent different training courses under the Global Libraries programme.”
  • Giving digital preservation a backbone - Inside Higher Ed.  “Libraries used to be the main stewards of the cultural and scientific record. But in the era of digital storage “cloud computing,” the institutions best-positioned to manage vast quantities of data are often companies such as Google and Elsevier.That is a big problem, said James Hilton, the chief information officer at the University of Virginia, in a talk on Thursday here at Educause. For all their current stability and rhetorical commitments to preserving their records, Google and Elsevier cannot be trusted with the task of digital preservation in the long term, said Hilton.”
  • Nepal: Changing lives one library at a time - Consumer Traveller.  “I recognized early on that the term “library” was a misnomer; “community resource center” is a much more accurate description. Yes, there are books — numbering from 900 in the smaller centers to 8000 and growing, in Nepalese, English and Hindi, in the larger ones — but the list of services offered, which vary according to the specific needs of the village, include literacy classes, computer training, early childhood education and day care, women’s empowerment programs, micro-financing and credit services, health, nutrition and AIDS-awareness information and more.”
  • Newcastle: slashing your arts funding would be a shortcut to disaster - Guardian / Theatre Blog.  “If there is one city in the UK that’s benefited from a cultural renaissance, it is undoubtedly Newcastle. The Lonely Planet Guide now urges its readers to visit a city where the Baltic, Sage, Live theatre, Seven Stories, Dance City, Northern Stage and other arts organisations have transformed the landscape. ” … “It’s hard for arts organisations outside London, particularly those working directly with local communities, to attract the philanthropic support that culture secretary Maria Miller and the government so favour. As Nicholas Hytner points out, philanthropic money follows central and local government investment. “
  • Should Michael Gove run libraries? - Independent / Boyd Tonkin.  “Could the man (and woman) from Whitehall save our libraries? Jeanette Winterson, in a lecture for The Reading Agency, made headlines when she called for back-taxes levied on Google, Amazon et al to sustain the threatened service. We wish. Further from fiction was her idea that library funds could fall within the education budget. “Libraries and literacy cannot be separated. I don’t see how this can be classed as ‘leisure’ nor… how we have a choice between getting our bins emptied and putting cash into libraries.” In these Gove-ish days, such a transfer would probably mean a power-grab by the centre. Worse than today’s municipal mess? As it happens, we now at last have a single named government adviser on library policy: Yinnon Ezra, former head of Hampshire libraries. By all accounts, Ezra’s a firm localist. Still, desperate times can call forth desperate measures.

“One deft sleight of hand from Mrs Miller as with Mr Vaizey and her predecessor Mr Hunt is to say lots of brilliant things are going on in libraries. Well, absolutely, but that is almost invariably a legacy of the efforts of good librarians in the past, a legacy which is being undermined by the policies of this government. Take Newcastle where chief librarian Tony Durcan undoubtedly worked extremely hard to develop a service to be proud of, but now finds himself facing the loss of ten libraries. The DCMS can not take credit for a service whose future it is placing in jeopardy.” Where libraries thrive - Alan Gibbons.

Changes

Local News

  • Brent – Campaigners launch bid to save Kensal Rise Library - Kilburn Times.  Campaign group aims to have library listed so as to be given ” the chance to buy the building and temporarily block any sale. “
  • Bury – Ramsbottom libraries and civic halls go to cabinet - About My Area.  “The cabinet will be asked to approve a two-phase restructure of the library service, following a consultation process which attracted nearly 4,000 responses. Under Phase 1, none of Bury’s libraries will be closed under this proposal, which primarily affects Bury central library. The current opening hours at Bury Library will be maintained; the council information point will be retained, as will the computer room with public internet access. The proposals include developing the purchase and availability of eBooks, and introducing self-service for customers to check their books in and out. The proposals would save £240,000 in 2013-14, and put at risk 5.8 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) posts at Bury Library, plus a further 3.4 FTE posts across the service. Of those, 2 would be covered by not filling vacant posts, and 1.4 by accepting existing applications for voluntary early retirement.”
  • Croydon – Public excluded from library privatisation - East London Lines.  “The ‘preferred bidder’ was chosen in a secret meeting of the Corporate Services Committee, after councillors had been forced to reconvene elsewhere in the building. Some Croydon residents had refused to leave the initial meeting when the public session was finished, forcing officials to move to another room.” … Elizabeth Ash says “It was truly shocking. This is far from democratic and Croydon have no mandate.”
  • Cumbria – Longer opening hours for Cumbria libraries - Northwest Evening Mail.  “The council has announced an end to half day closures at Ulverston, Grange and Kendal libraries from January 2013. Through the use of new technology and staff working more flexibly it had been possible to improve access to services at no additional cost.”
  • Durham – Libraries saved by cut in opening hours – BBC.  “The new hours will be introduced in January, saving the county council £1,457,000, it said. No branches will be lost and most will open for 20 or 36 hours a week.” … “All 12 town centre libraries, excluding Clayport in Durham, will open for a core of 36 hours per week, with the council’s 27 community libraries operating a core of 20 hours.”  Mobile library service also reduced.  From 2 January.
  • Kensington and Chelsea - Another way to privatise: flog your library building - Stop the privatisation of public libraries.   Exclusive private school reported to have eyes on North Kensington Library site if it moves address.
  • Lambeth – More red tape and fewer front-line staff - Lambeth Save Our Services. “Some” of Streatham Library being transferred to Gracefield Gardens.
  • Lancaster – Get it Loud gigs silenced by cuts - Lancaster Guardian.  “The hugely successful, award winning Get It Loud in Libraries series has had its funding cut by the county council. The project, which started in 2005 and has enabled internationally acclaimed musicians such as Adele, Jessie J, Ellie Goulding, Florence and the Machine, Frank Turner and Alt J to perform in Lancaster, lost its funding earlier this year as part of Lancashire County Council spending cuts. The last gigs took place in July.”
  • Lewisham – Blackheath village library is saved by city bankersEast London Lines.  Age Exchange charity has taken over library and gained funding (£500k from city bankers, £200k from council, £30k from local fund). “Age Exchange’s two-tier space at 11 Blackheath Village now houses 10,000 books alongside a café serving homemade cakes and speciality teas, a lounge, a computer suite, a performance space and a patio.” Sir Ian Mills of Age Exchange [and myself – Ian] quoted as raising concern of postcode lottery.  Library campaigner Gillian Gadsby rebuffs idea that this is the Big Society at work: ““I doubt there are any more examples [of volunteers] than there ever have been. Cameron is suggesting that all these organisations – the Scouts, youth clubs, Womens Institutes – are somehow a result of the Big Society, but they’ve always been run by volunteers and he seems to have forgotten that.”

“I put together a list of people I knew who I felt had benefited from the bonus bonanza: the so-called ‘filthy rich’. I said ‘if I can raise the money, we will have a very exciting and forward-thinking project. I’m prepared to put in £50,000 if you match me.” Sir Ian Mills

it isn’t the library building that the campaigners wanted to save but a … charity that seems to have found a large pool of money. There were about 30,000 books in the old library  — 10,000 is about the size of a small branch of WHSmith” Tim Coates via email.

  • Newcastle – Lee Hall letter about proposed library closures - Artsfunding.  Excellent letter which pretty much sums up the whole issue.
  • Northern Ireland – Time ticking cuts to city book buses - Londonderry Sentinel.  “Dozens of mobile library stops in Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 are under threat of being axed whilst Libraries NI also wants to eliminate internet provision from its books-on-wheels service altogether.” … “The strategy is designed to result in an equitable service which provides value for money and there is no desire to reduce the number of stops significantly. “Nevertheless, there will be some adverse impacts on customers in areas where these criteria cannot be met and the impacts will be differential for young people, older people, women and disabled people simply because they make up a large percentage of existing customers.
  • West Sussex – Celebrations at Petworth town library - Midhurst and Petworth Observer.  40th anniversary celebrated with coffee and cake.
  • Wolverhampton – Show us you care Wolverhampton Council - Save Wolverhampton Libraries.  “One thing that the recent hubs proposals have highlighted over anything else in Wolverhampton is that our city contains dedicated professional front line workers who care about providing the highest standards to all who use services. Whether it’s library staff, volunteers in community centres or the highly skilled staff at Warstones Resource Centre, these ‘front line’ people are essential – they are the ones who make a difference to people’s everyday lives. ” Councillor spats over who-closed-what in the past described as “playground behaviour” that needs to stop.
  • Worcestershire – Shhh! Worcester’s Hive is too noisy for work, say students - Worcester News.  “Complaints from University of Worcester students have flooded the Hive’s Facebook page with demands for a dedicated student area accessed by ID cards. They claim that noise from children and people playing games and video clips on computers along with a shortage of study space was proving difficult.” Pro Vice Chancellor says ” a small number of second and third-year students had found it difficult to settle at the landmark library and the university was working to help them and address issues that had arisen”

“The critical point here is that university students and children want two very different things from a library and as we pay tuition fees for the “privilege” of using this space, we really ought to have a quiet place to work.”

“The one thing that does rattle my cage is the basement of the hive. It is constant swearing, I have seen one fight, an underage couple where he had his hands in the underwear of his girlfriend of about 14 years old and another couple trying to hide themselves having intercourse on seating against very back wall while their friend is chatting to them from computer.”