National Libraries Day, barely a month away, now has an interactive map to see library events planned for the day.  There’s just two on it so far (including one I’ve just put on) so get your local library to add their events quickly.

It’s worrying that the Libraries director for Arts Council England, Nicky Morgan, is leaving that organisation in July.  Her replacement may have no direct previous libraries experience but rather be someone who missed out on a job in the cuts late last year.  It is therefore quite possible that what is one of only a tiny number (in fact, can anyone think of anyone else?) of full-time posts with a national remit for public libraries will go to someone with no background in that field.

The IFLA Public Libraries Standing Committee is running an interesting survey on what five words people associate with public libraries.  My five words were welcoming, neutral, expert, helpful and free.  Another suggestion I’ve seen is “Discovery, warmth, knowledge, dreams & ‘great buildings’” which is pretty cool, especially the warmth and dreams ones.

The ongoing trend to use public libraries to support small businesses has received a boost with six cities being chose to partner the British Library.  Another national scheme, that of joining children into public libraries automatically is also rolling forward – albeit in another pilot phase – with Surrey now joining the fray.  It was sad to see Nicky Morgan quoted in the last’s press release.

The best thing, the seriously best thing, I’ve seen today though is this video interview with Sir Terry Pratchett.  It’s short and the transcript is:

“When I found my local library, I wanted to read and have every book in the library.  Once I found reading, reading itself just filled my veins. I absolutely read everything and so I went up to the head librarians – this is a small local library – and I said “Please Sir, I want to be a librarian when I grow up! Can I come and work here on Saturdays?” and he said “OK but we can’t pay you anything”. I was very grateful because I was prepared to pay him.

I used to leave the library every day – every day that I was there – with two very very big bags full of library books.  The ladies showed a blind eye to this because they knew that I would bring them back because I didn’t have any more room in my room for any more books anyway and I read and read and read. So I was reading every damn thing in the library that there was, eclectically, I was – you know – that was it.  But I was only doing it because I wanted to know everything.  I read about the Silk Road.  The trouble was, I mean, I taught myself more in the Library than the School taught me.  More history, more interesting history, more just about everything.”

News

  • 5 reasons being a librarian is stressful - Screwy Decimal.  A recent newspaper study described a librarian job as one of the least stressful in the world.  This did not impress many librarians who are feeling very stressed, with the main reasons being job security, depleting resources, being short-staffed, dealing with people and perceptions/lack of respect.
  • Ebooks for 20p may be a novel idea, but it spells bad news for literature - Independent. “Downloading Safe House by Chris Ewan (Faber) for my mother (the first book on her new Kindle), I noticed its price: 20p. A 448-page, well-reviewed work only a few months old was being touted for less than the price of a banana in our office canteen.” …. “”Part of the function of publishers and high-street book shops is to filter manuscripts, to ensure the good float to the surface. It has always been subjective but it has always required both to put their money where their mouth when it comes to books they believe in. Now anyone can self-publish, that is exceptionally important.” It is a happy time then, for curious readers getting decent fiction at low prices, but today’s sunshine may mean a long winter for publishers and consumers alike in years to come.”
  • Essa Academy: bookless school where everyone has an iPad - BBC News. “A school in Bolton is pushing the boundaries of education by putting away pens and paper and giving all pupils and teachers their own iPad. The Essa Academy says it helps students and has cut costs, including reducing the school’s £80,000 photocopying bill to just £15,000 a year.”
  • Manchester signs up with the British Library to boost small businesses - Manchester Gazette. “Manchester will be part of the network, which is modelled on the British Library’s flagship Business & IP (Intellectual Property) Centre, a business and innovation advice centre which provides support to small businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs. Six cities have been chosen to participate in the scheme – Manchester,Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield.” … “Funding for the project was granted to the British Library by the Intellectual Property Office.”
  • Morgan to leave Arts Council - BookSeller. “Libraries director Nicky Morgan will leave Arts Council England in July when the organisation implements its latest restructure, ACE has confirmed. ACE is losing a fifth of staff and reducing its number of regional offices from nine to five, as part of its latest bid to make savings. The dedicated library role is being scrapped as part of that plan, and ACE is now looking for someone to take on a role that combines a responsibility for libraries with a regional manager post.”
  • National Libraries Day events map - National Libraries Day. “Are you looking for a way to celebrate National Libraries Day? Or maybe you’d like to let others know about an event you’ve organised? Look no further – just check out our Google Map showing what’s happening on the day.”


Sir Terry Pratchett on Libraries

  • Stranger who changed me - Jolina Petersheim (blog). Author remembers early life-changing encounter with a librarian. “I never told the librarian how much that book meant to me. How it spurred my writing dreams to the point I took journals on hikes through the woods and paused to jot down notes in the crook of an old tree near the clear, cold stream for which the property, the community, was named.”
  • Think library, think books - Herald Scotland. “Glasgow bucks the national trend: it is investing in books, online facilities and has upgraded community libraries, such as in Govanhill. It is no coincidence the city’s libraries had more than five million visits last year”.  See also We can’t afford library closures in the same newspaper.

“Nostalgia’s danger here is to make the argument for libraries an emotive issue. It is not. Against a backdrop of austerity, people cannot readily afford books, they need access to information – vital if people are to look for work or improve their skills. The case for libraries is so bluntly obvious that it seems daft to repeat it and so we verge towards the sentimental and risk being dismissed by budgeting bureaucrats. A library is a local authority’s statement of values. Libraries are not community centres, they are not mere buildings, they are collections.”

“for many children the public library is the one place where they have an opportunity to close the gap on their peers and level the educational playing field.  Access to the internet complemented with skilled support can help to close the gap and ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds are not penalised.  However, whilst the existing support is vital, it is being severely limited in a number of areas.”

Local News


Barnet – VoiceAction: Friern Barnet is now occupied and resisting closure (video taken 18/12/12)

  • Dorset – Puddletown first Dorset library to transfer to volunteers - BBC. “Conservative-led Dorset County Council cut funding for nine of the county’s 34 libraries in 2011 in a bid to save the authority £725,000. Former BBC chief news correspondent and Dorset resident Kate Adie helped with the official opening earlier.”
  • Gateshead – Volunteers needed to run libraries in Gateshead - Northern Echo. “Gateshead Council has agreed to a proposal which would result in a core network of 12 libraries across the borough, with the remaining five libraries – at Sunderland Road, Low Fell, Winlaton, Lobley Hill and Ryton – being run by volunteers.” … “The authority is also looking for volunteers to help with its Readers at Home service, which delivers books to housebound residents.”
  • Newcastle – Council cuts campaigners stage protest - Chronicle. “Members of the Save Our Services group took part in street theatre in Newcastle’s Northumberland Street on Saturday afternoon. Objectors, including a number of children, showed what they believe is the reality of what libraries, swimming pools and youth services will look like unless cuts are prevented.”

“The cuts are devastating for the North East and young people, there will be a long-term impact. The closure of libraries will put an end to children’s reading groups and the cutting of youth services will have an effect on young people’s motivation, education and training.”