The Herald Scotland article will stay with me for a while.   Following on from Deary, the writer questions the need for fiction books in libraries and questions what the point of stocking them is.  For myself, I have always seen fiction as the sneaky way to improve people’s brains – one might be enjoying it but one is also learning spelling, grammar, incidental facts, all sorts of things at the same time.  Fiction sucks (or suckers) the child into having a joy of reading and thus literacy and a degree and a good job.  Fiction, also, saves those on the edges (and perhaps not just the edges) of society from madness, tedium or loneliness.  To fail to understand the need for fiction in libraries shows a failure to understand its underlying benefits that bodes ill for the debate and for the failure of libraries (probably through no fault of their own – this should have been done nationally, for years) to explain their mission.

On the plus side, props to Devon for asking the public what it wants from a refurbishment of Sidmouth Library and, similarly, Los Angeles for asking the public what it wants from its libraries generally.  The user needs to be fundamentally involved in the provision of services, most especially in any changes, and it’s great to see this being done.

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“the discussion of the future of these institutions should be based on what they are, not on what supporters think they are. … [There] should be an end to the lending of fiction on the basis that public subsidy should be for the public good, not for whiling away a few hours with a cheap thriller. As for the other peripheral issues the pro-library campaign sometimes raise, such as access to the internet or literacy, there are more effective ways of dealing with these issues than paying for big buildings that cost big money to run.”

  • Crowdsourced Design: Why Los Angeles Is Asking the Public to Create the Library of the Future – Good (USA). Asking th public what they want from the library?  Now, there’s a thought.
  • International radio star - Litopia / Library Campaign. Alan Gibbons and Library Campaign interviewed about what they think of Deary’s comments on an internet radio star.  A wide ranging debate that lasts 45 minutes pitting two pro-library campaigners against two agnostics.  Recommended.  Need for libraries as a “safe place to go” comes across strongly as is the idea of it being a safety net, available for all.

“the repository is a logical extension to the role of a library. What ebooks have done for texts, 3D models will do for physical objects. In a digital form, they will be archived, shared and preserved. “You don’t know, a thousand years from now, how many of these objects will still be around,” he says. “These digital files might stand the test of time.” Michael Groenendyk finds a new use for 3D printers in libraries

  • Making libraries history is a horrible idea – Guardian / Letters. More reaction to Deary: “Does he also believe the concept of a shared social fabric is outdated? Deary has mined a rich – and lucrative – seam in amusing millions of young readers with his tales of how disgusting, brutish and selfish we human beings have been across the ages. True enough. But the public funding of libraries, with access for everyone, reflects our imagination and striving to be better than brutes.” Beverley Naidoo.
  • Protect and survive? Using the tools available to save library facilities – Community Knowledge Hub / David Alcock.  Looks at using the “assets of community value” option under the Localism Act to safeguard libraries, and notes timing is crucial.  Sometimes, council has already entered negotiations to sell before the public even knows the library is under threat.

“The message to community groups is clear. If you are at all worried about a local asset – whether a library or anything else – then don’t delay, apply to list it under the assets of community value legislation, to confer such protection it affords. Don’t wait, or it might just be too late.”

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