Archive for April, 2013

What colour is your library?

Editorial

There’s a fascinating article on what different colours mean in marketing that can be looked at here.  Yellow means optimism, blue means trust (IBM) and grey means balance (Wikipedia).  I don’t entirely agree with all the samples but it got me thinking – is anyone in your library service aware of the role of colour in marketing?  No, didn’t think so.  Let’s set our sights a little lower – do you have anyone trained in marketing? No? I mean, this is key stuff: companies go out of business or make big money because of this – and it appears to pass libraries by.  This is perhaps understandable in times of cut budgets but it was also of course true in better times as well.

Partly this is because of councils controlling marketing, publicity and social media. Partly, though, it is also because librarians confuse marketing with publicity and think that anyone can do it who (God help me) has Microsoft Publisher on their computers.  If your library service has gone past this stage then, congratulations, nominate them for an Award.  If not then have a read of this book and get it sorted.

More >

Definition of a philistine

Maria Miller, the minister ultimately responsible for libraries, has made clear that the only thing that matters in the Arts is money.  Leaving aside the temptation to suggest that she knows “the price of everything and the value of nothing”, this may have some strong implications for libraries, although it is clear that this is the way that the wind has been blowing for quite some while.  Stressing the economic value or libraries – rather than any touchy-feely stuff – is clearly the way to go.  There are many such arguments that will aid this case and another has appeared with a new report showing that illiteracy costs the UK $127 billion per year.

More >

“A pretty turbulent time”: BBC News covers public and volunteer libraries

Editorial

BBC Television News covered volunteer libraries today.  This is a transcript of the two minute segment:

Jenny Hill, reporter: In this library, they don’t like silence but they do love their books. Bulkington Library is run by the community.  Among the fifty-two volunteers here, we met Mary.

Mary Beaumont, volunteer, Bulkington Community Library: Reading is really important to me.  I’ve always liked books.  I always think that books take you out of yourself.  If you’re having a bit of a bad day, feeling a bit down.

Jenny Hill, reporter: In the story of the British public library, this is a pretty turbulent time. Last year alone, spending cuts forced the closure of some 200.  There are at the same time, though, some 170 so-called community run libraries just like this one and they’re staffed by 23,000 volunteers.  Some would say it is quite a survival story.

Bulkington, they say, is more than just a library. They host history groups, poetry groups, social groups but they also have to find £7,000 a year just to keep it going.

Darrell Buckley, Chairman, Bulkington Community Library: It is wrong.  This should be run by the Council. But, if you have no alternative then you have to make a different arrangement and this is what we have managed to do in Bulkington.

John Dolan, CILIP (a member of the CILIP council and a former library policy advisor at the MLA): What I think is terrible is the way that in some authorities, the library has been dismissed as unimportant. Libraries are being down-sized, they’re being closed, they’re being as here run by volunteers.  This is fine in principle if they have the backing of a library service with skilled and trained librarians.

Jenny Hill, reporter: It’s feared that hundreds of public libraries still face closure and it is predicted that they will be replaced by hundreds of volunteer-run services. In the meantime, the monster masterclass continues.  There are more than 13,000 books here but somehow the top title usually involves a dinosaur.

Volunteers fight to save libraries, BBC.  Transcript of 2 minute news segment.

More >

13 more libraries under threat while Mr Vaizey jokes

Editorial

The latest council to announce large-scale cuts to its library service is Barnsley, where eight out of 17 branches will either be closed or farmed out to volunteers or other organisations.  Cuts north of the border appear to be increasing, although met with massive protest, with Midlothian looking to change three branches.  Southend is also cutting provision.  While all this is happening, Ed Vaizey attended a new library opening in North Somerset and had a joke.  His performance is not amusing many people, though, with a whole raft of celebrities questioning the cuts to the Arts and his seeming inability to answer letters – a trait well known to library campaigners, who well remember similar behaviour over the last couple of years.

More >

Libraries get Bury’d

Bury have announced that they are cutting £570k from the libraries budget, leading to buildings moves, less staff and co-locations for four of their libraries.  The council is at conspicuous pains to say that it is not closing any branches.  The previously reported usage figures Brent, also in the news for spending £3,500 for murals for a library they’re about to knock down and controversially redevelop, have been brought into question,  Apparently, a closer look at the statistics provided by a Brent councillor a 12% drop in usage rather than the marginal increase previously suggested.

Two great ideas today are the rather wonderful projections soon to appear on Liverpool Central Library and, as long as one ignores its punny name, the Bicycool Library project.

Finally, we can get a little carried away int his country thinking that we are unfairly done by when it comes to cuts in libraries.  Well, we probably are, but we’re also not alone – Rotterdam lost 19 out of its 25 libraries (perhaps it should twin with Newcastle?) and has a volunteer-run branch.  Mind you, its surviving libraries (including one that is a book-pyramid and the volunteer one which deliberately does not call itself a library in order to not provoke look pretty darn cool.

More >

Secretary of State’s reasons for not intervening in Lewisham: and what it means

Editorial

To no-one’s surprise the Secretary of State responsible for libraries, Maria Miller, has finally announced that her decision over the cuts to Lewisham’s library service is to do nothing.  Her reasons are in bold below, with my gloss in italics:

More >

Bucks - Chalfont St Giles

Fifty shades of volunteer library

Editorial

In another welcome addition to data on the use of volunteer-run libraries, Mike Bedford from Chalfont St Giles Community Library has been in touch about the one he helps run.  The rise in lending figures there is in stark contrast to the figures looked at recently from Lewisham and Swindon:

More >

salley_vickers photo

“We now have six examples of poor to terrible performance by community libraries based on hard data”

Editorial

More data is coming in on the actual performance of libraries that have been transferred from council control, this time from Lewisham.  The council there stopped running five libraries in June 2011 with three being transferred to non-profit Eco Computer Systems (now Eco Communities), one to the charity Age Exchange and one was saved by volunteers.

Of these, the most expensive was the Age Exchange takeover of Blackheath Library.  The building is now a community centre and a cafe. £500k came from city financiers, £200k from Lewisham council and £30k from the Blackheath Assembly.  It’s transfer saved the council £75k per year.  It’s book issues since takeover are below:

More >

Cilip updated, Angus library not for library users + more hours in Lancashire

More >

Walcot

Withering on the vine: six-year figures for volunteer branch show danger

Editorial

Hard information on the impact of turning a council-run library into a volunteer-run one is hard to come by.  There’s not many examples over two years old, for a start. It was therefore interesting to read this post about a comparatively long running volunteer library in Swindon backed up by some hard figures.   The article – called “We will economise on the beaches” - is worth a read but, if you don’t have the time for that, then the difference in usage figures for Walcot (volunteer-run since 2009) and for its parent authority is probably informative enough:

More >