The official launch of the Bookmark Your Library website was marked today by the launch of a survey into attitudes to public libraries.  The survey showed that a large part of the respondents (a respectable sample at 2000) have not recently used libraries and were not aware of what they had to offer.  This is hardly surprising considering the lack of publicity and marketing that has been carried out but it is depressing.  More worryingly even than that though was that only a relatively small number said that they would be upset if the library closed down.  Perhaps because they did not know what was within it. Being that the website is a joint venture by several key national bodies concerned with libraries, this could be seen as somewhat shooting oneself in the foot, as one observer noted to me via email:

“One has to ask oneself (and I’m happy to be quoted) why the outfits behind Bookmark Your Library – inc. ACE,  part of whose remit is to ‘promote’ public libraries – have used their first Press Release to encourage negative reports in the media.” Shirley Burnham

Those behind the website hope, of course, that it will boost the opportunities for others to see how important libraries are. There’s some useful stuff on the pages and I recommend it to you to have a look at.  It allows you, for instance, to find your local library or even the nearest one which has the book you’re after.  The searches I did on the site showed that it was not overly user friendly and could be said to be downright wonky, but it’s better than nothing and at least provides ground for improvement.  Let’s hope that happens.  At least before any more similar research is published by library bodies that could be used to argue against libraries rather than for them.

News

  • Are our public libraries being forgotten? “Use them or lose them” says new online library serviceBookmark Your Library. Research results commissioned to mark opening of new public libraries website suggests that libraries are not seen as important as they once were.  Survey of 2000 people shows 60% no longer visit libraries, technology is replacing them, “biggest driving force to visit a library is being a parent”, “Only a third know that their local library offers reading groups; only 1 in 10 know they offer genealogy services; and 60% didn’t know they offer music rental, something which was introduced to the majority of public libraries years ago.”.  Report concludes “use them or lose them”.
  • Delhiites prefer books to the internet but shun city’s ‘poor-quality’ libraries, survey finds – Mail / India. “A survey conducted on Delhi’s libraries presents a grim picture of the facilities available there and shatters the notion about decline in people’s interest in such centres.”.  Reasons are “inconvenient location, unsupportive staff and unavailability of books”

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will consider adopting the Scottish Public Library Quality Improvement Matrix for libraries in England.

Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)Public Library Service Standards in England were withdrawn by the previous Administration in a move towards increased local autonomy. Local authorities remain best placed to determine how to provide a library service to their local community and the Government is not considering adopting the Scottish Public Library Quality Improvement Matrix for libraries in England.

  • Iraqi librarian saved 30,000 books during 2003 invasion – Al Arabiya (Iraq). ““At the beginning of the war on Iraq, the governor [of Basra] took the library over as a headquarters for himself and his guards, mounting machine guns on top of the building. So, we asked the governor if we could take the important books to our homes, but he rejected the idea. Eventually we took the responsibility ourselves to transfer the books, without the governor’s approval,” she said, looking back ten years.”
  • Model municipal public library by UGO – Design Boom (Poland). “56% of poles did not read a single book during 2010″.  Concept for a new library in an area, with an attached swimming pool.
  • Research finds country’s libraries are being neglected – ITV. Uses “Bookmark Your Library” research.
  • Why I Love Our Public Libraries – Open Book Toronto (Canada). “Torontonians love our public libraries. We need them. We depend upon them at every stage of life, and if we are poor, isolated or struggling they offer hope for change. Libraries are sacred. They are free and accessible. They are the first line of knowledge and information for many people and they must be protected at any cost.”

Changes

Local News

“We are publically warning now anybody bidding for this contract, for which there is absolutely no mandate at all, that if Labour win the 2014 local elections we will abide by will of the people. Residents have shown in success consultation that they do not want libraries to be privatised.”

  • Croydon – Croydon libraries announce Cityread events – Croydon Guardian. “Libraries across the borough are putting on a series of events next month as part of the London-wide scheme Cityread. Activities are based around Sebastian Faulks’ novel, A Week in December, which was selected as Cityread’s book of choice in 2013.”
  • Lewisham – Jude Law visits Blackheath Age Exchange library – News Shopper. “The Sherlock Holmes actor popped into Number Eleven – the home of Age Exchange – in Blackheath Village for a spot of lunch before posing for pictures. Law, whose latest film Side Effects has just been released, was one of the first members of Age Exchange’s Youth Theatre in the 1980s when the charity was first set up.”
  • Newport – Meeting to save Stow Hill library ‘too late’ says councillor – South Wales Argus. “A public meeting calling for a city library to be saved is too late to change the decision to shut it and is misleading, it was claimed.”
  • Portsmouth – Parents upset as Portsmouth library bus faces last stop – News. “The roving library is a Portsmouth City Council service which visits schools, nurseries and supermarkets across the city. But amid concerns about the safety of the ageing bus and the cost of replacing it, the council is having a consultation over its future.”

“The council is currently deciding whether to purchase a new bus or discontinue the service. Lindy Elliott, Library Services manager at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘To replace the bus would cost between £40,000 and £80,000 depending on the age and specification of the vehicle selected. ‘We would also be required to find additional £5,000 to £7,000 annual service and maintenance costs. ‘To meet these costs would require savings to be made elsewhere in the Library Services budget.’”