Editorial

The post title today comes from a wonderful summary of thoughts about libraries that have been put on Twitter.  There’s some great stuff there and I recommend a look. I have put some of the stand out quotes below as well.  Another thing that stood out for me today is an inspiring article summarising the changes that have taken place at Chattanooga’s library system.  I have put what are some of the key points below.  It shows the power of leadership and of fresh thinking that is possible in US libraries.  It may also be possible in UK libraries as well, of course, but I have not seen anything like it after reporting on the subject here for a few years.

This may be because of the different cultures of the two countries – we don’t shout about much and, far more importantly, councils appear to have libraries far more under their thumb in the UK than they appear to do in the USA.  Most importantly, though, I suspect is the incredible difference in funding.  UK libraries may have the buildings and we may have the staff but, in the current climate, they just plain don’t have the money.  At least I hope that is the reason, because otherwise we’re just plain second rate … and no librarian should accept that.  Nor, of course, should this country accept second-rate libraries but that is precisely what cuts of the current magnitude will provide.  If we’re lucky.

  1. Power wash the building – ““You get that grime off, and it’s amazing what you find underneath.” could be the slogan for the whole project.
  2. Fix the fountain, get the artworks in the basement out on display – make the best use of available resources, make it clear things are changing
  3. Foster culture of change and innovation.
  4. Head-hunt thebest staff for the jobs from all over the country who bring “video games, programming tutorials, 3-D printing and even rock music into a space some people still think of in singular terms “
  5. Get out of their way. ““I didn’t want that structured, bureaucratic environment where you couldn’t make anything happen.”
  6. Projects include a (1) Ms Pac Man arcade machine “Now, the center is an adolescent playground full of video game consoles, computers, comics and Japanese manga” (2) a “teen advisory board” (3) Maker Space called “Fourth Floor”  inc “cutting-edge “maker” equipment, including a high-resolution flatbed scanner and 3-D printer as well as the library’s gigabit Internet service.” (4) rock concerts and a coding camp.
  7. Get the existing staff on side: they “replaced the Friends of the Library Book Store near the first floor entrance with Shush Cafe, a coffee bar that, unlike the bookstore, now is turning a profit. Instead of hiring new staff members to run the cafe, however, he had the existing circulation staff, some of whom had worked there for decades, trained as coffee baristas. Rather than balk at their new responsibilities, they wanted to know if they would get to wear aprons.”
  8. Maintain the pace of change “Keep having fun”.

“Despite their different areas of expertise, team members say they see themselves as a single working unit that’s reinventing the library”

“The 4th Floor will set a standard for the next evolution of what we consider a library,” writes Library Journal columnist Michael Stephens in an April 18 op-ed”

““Libraries have to change, … [and] that’s what we’re doing here,” she says. “You can call it innovation and leading the pack and all these things, but what we’re doing is evolving.””

News

  • 3-D printing: Public libraries’ latest step into the digital world – LA Times (USA). “if you live in Washington, D.C., or Cleveland, you can stop by your local public library and use one for a small fee. Public libraries have been trying to find all sorts of ways to stay “relevant” in the modern, digital age” … “There’s a $1 base fee to use the printer, plug 5 cents per gram (about the weight of a dollar bill) for whatever you print, Mashable says. Over in Cleveland, the 3-D printer is part of a public library initiative called the TechToyBox.
  • At Libraries Across America, It’s Game On – NPR (USA).  Encouraging people to play games in libraries (console games, board games etc inc. a lego lion outside New York Public Library) is attracting a load of people into UK libraries
  • Circulating Ideas: an interview all about marketing libraries – Library Marketing Toolkit.
  • I clear every social media post through my immediate manager: is this normal? – From the Floor (New Zealand).  “My thought is that if a library tweet, event or philosophy can bring down a mayor, then perhaps she – or he – didn’t have much of a platform to speak from in the first place. We should be dangerous. We aren’t. Trust that you hired the right person for the task, and let them be fearless.”
  • Internet Search Engines Drove US Librarians to Redefine Themselves – Science Daily (USA). “Although librarians adopted Internet technology quickly, they initially dismissed search engines, which duplicated tasks they considered integral to their field. Their eventual embrace of the technology required a reinvention of their occupational identity, according to a study by University of Oregon researchers.”

“Librarians, the researchers found, have gone from thinking of themselves as the knowledgeable person with the best answer to a patron’s question to being an interpreter and connector who points patrons to helpful materials for their consideration.”

“Libraries are like bottomless toy boxes” 

“I brought my new born baby to the library everyday, though I had no time and energy to read, just to keep my sanity.”

“on a bad day, you need a public space to be private in. Seeing other people reading+thinking puts perspective on your troubles.”

“without libraries I’d be screwed. When it all goes Kindle poor people aren’t gonna see books”

 “there’s a quiet companionship in reading in the company of strangers who are also reading. It makes the world seem nicer.”

“as an artist my income is limited but thanks to libraries my inspiration is not. Libraries = go in poor, leave feeling rich.”  All from #FTF Book Sculpter, Twitter / Storify

  • Library futures: Manchester University – Guardian / Higher Education Network. “We now spend 85% of our content budget on digital content, and for many of our users, the service we provide is entirely virtual. Yet the perennial sounding of the death knell for libraries has proven to be entirely unfounded. A term time visit to any of our library sites will reveal that they continue to be as busy as ever, and the recent opening of the £24m Alan Gilbert Learning Commons, which is now receiving an average of 21,000 visits a week, and has had very little impact on use of the main library (only metres away).”

“What we’re seeing is not less use of the library by our staff and students, but changing needs of users. Students continue to need study space, but their expectations are different. They want us to provide roomy group space to support new ways of learning, silent areas for when they are revising, relaxation areas and cafes to allow them to spend long hours in the building. More than anything else (or so it sometimes seems) they want easy access to power to recharge their growing numbers of mobile devices, and very good wifi.”

  • Local Libraries’ ROI Valued at 400 Percent – Los Gatos Patch. “A recent independent study revealed just how valuable the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) is to the cities it serves. Commissioned by the District and funded by the Cupertino Library Foundation, the study revealed a return on investment for local residents as high as 400 percent.”
  • New director, young guns guiding Chattanooga’s library system through a renaissance – Times Free Press.

  • New name for CILIP proposed – CILIP group on Linkedin. Unanimous dislike for proposed new name “ILPUK” on LinkedIn group for CILIP members.  Problems include it seems to exclude non-UK members of CILIP and that the name is so similar to CILIP: it merely swaps the words “information” and “library” around while adding “UK” at the end.
  • Not Your Grandma’s Library: A New Generation of Librarians Evolve through IT – Gant Daily (USA).
  • Outrage as Swiss move to segregate asylum-seekers – BBC. “Some Swiss towns plan to keep asylum-seekers away from public places such as swimming pools, playing fields and libraries, in a move human rights groups say is racist.”
  • Reading Agency to release dyslexia help books – BookSeller.
  • Tea Party Targets Public Libraries – On the Commons (USA). Tea Party tries to cut libraries in revenge for public having agreed a 1% tax increase for them: attitude is very different to the Great Depression where libraries were known as “the bread line of the spirit” with 765 new branches built 1930 to 1940.
  • That’shhh entertainment: drawing up a library playlist – Guardian.  Wellcome Library are having £17.5m upgrade and have produced a Spotify playlist themed to libraries to celebrate it.  “, Adventures in the library volume 1, an eclectic selection of new and old, makes an unlikely combination of the likes of Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ Every Day I Write the Book, with Belle and Sebastian’s Wrapped up in Books, and Computer Love (2009 – Remaster) by Kraftwerk. Or maybe you’ll browse further on, in favour of The Kinks’ Picture Book or Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Monitor?”

  • Why The Next Big Pop-Culture Wave After Cupcakes Might Be Libraries – NPR / Monkey see. “Call it a hunch, but it seems to me that the thing is in the air that happens right before something — families with a million kids, cupcakes, wedding coordinators — suddenly becomes the thing everyone wants to do happy-fuzzy pop-culture stories about. Why?” Reasons given are 1) libraries get in fights [in the USA perhaps but senior librarians tend not to in the UK due to a different setup – Ed.], 2) librarians know stuff 3) green and local 4) free 5) open to the public (so reality TV may be interested) and 6) there is a “preposterous level of goodwill” towards them.

Local news

  • Derby – No more cuts plea from library customers – This is Derbyshire. Library users not impressed by suggestions services will be cut even more. “people using Sinfin Library yesterday called on the authority not to make any further cuts at the site. Kveta Batsford, 35, of Nairn Close, said opening hours had already been reduced there. She said: “It used to be closed only on Wednesdays, now it is on Fridays as well, and they’ve reduced the opening hours on Saturday. “I want it stay as it is, at least.”
  • Dudley – Council says no to nude Dudley library group – Express and Star. Request by nudists to have reading group in library turned down because it’s not “proper” and would have caused disruption.
  • Lincolnshire – Protest heads to the council over libraries – This is Lincolnshire. “Around 100 protestors will demonstrate outside the offices of Lincolnshire County Council on Friday, September 13.”
  • Lincolnshire – Does the council only want the answers it desires over libraries? – This is Lincolnshire. ” that doesn’t mean an overwhelming objection from the public will make the council change its mind and back away from widespread library closures if the public isn’t prepared run them. It seems to me that is already a foregone conclusion.”
  • Merton – Letter to the Editor: Council want to invest in, not close, Wimbledon library – Wimbledon Guardian. “Far from seeking to close Wimbledon Library, or reduce it in any way, I have been promoting continuing community investment in this rather beautiful ‘Arts & Crafts’ building with increased and more adaptable floor space for readers. The old community centre building was closed by arrangement with the Community Association because it was semi-derelict and could no longer be maintained. It will be turned into a temporary car park. Eventually the site will contribute to an improved retail and business district. User groups have relocated to alternative and better community space.”
  • Newport – Volunteers determined to re-open Stow Hill library in Newport – South Wales Argus. “The five-person committee, called the Stow Hill Library Association, will hold another meeting next week to formally vote in a committee, recruit more volunteers and register for charitable status. They intend to open the new-look library seven days a week. Group member John Hallan said if they become a charity they will be given 80 per cent rates relief, but renovation of the small building will cost around £20,000.” … “Gary Fisher, chairman of the Gwent Federation of Conservative Clubs said he would sponsor the group while Leighton Long, who lives nearby and used to run auctions for the Scouts, suggested holding an auction every three months to raise funds.”
  • Sheffield – Bemused by comments on our libraries – Star / Letters. “It is a matter of record that at no time during the previous administration were there any plans from either myself or the Lib Dems to close a single library in Sheffield. Indeed, despite similar budgetary constraints, the Lib Dems invested in Hillsborough library and left Labour an overall multi-million pound council budget surplus, thanks to sound financial management.”
  • Southend – Essex companies benefit from Southend’s new £27m library – Times Free Press. ” a £6million shot in the arm thanks to Southend’s new £27million library. The building, called the Forum, will replace the dilapidated library in Victoria Avenue as well as hosting new classrooms for South Essex College and research facilities for the University of Essex. Contractor Wates Construction chose ten Essex suppliers to make sure the county’s businesses benefited from the cash coming into the area”
  • Southend – Stand up for Southend Libraries – Alan Gibbons. 200 marchers in protest against the cuts, including Alan Gibbons. Two impressive pictures.
  • Southend – View progress – Forum. Webcam allows you to see te building work on the new Forum Centre / Library in real time.
  • Southend – We’re running out of money in fight to help the disabled – Echo. Disability Information Advice Line (DIAL) offered “face to face advice, support and information and enables volunteers at the charity to see who they are helping and feel like they are making a difference in the community. Similar sessions take place at Southend Central Library, but Dial does not know if they will be able to continue the arrangement when it relocates to the new £27 million Forum building in Elmer Approach at the end of September.” 
  • Swindon – Shop is a lifeline for the community This is Wiltshire. “Peter Mallinson, the chairman of the Walcot Community Charity Shop, said: “We were one of the first libraries to be run entirely by volunteers. We started this four years ago not thinking that we would be so successful, it’s been a roaring success.”The charity gives away about £6,000 every year to the local community in the form of grants and donations to individuals and developing projects, as well as offering items for sale in one of the cheapest charity shops in the town.”
  • York – Row over the future of York’s libraries rumbles on – Press. “The Labour-run authority has said it will ensure libraries stay open and give staff and residents more involvement in their operation, as well as allowing scope for improvements to the service, but the council’s Liberal Democrat group has called in the decision for further scrutiny.”7

“Labour have not explored other options to determine whether a social enterprise is the best choice – they have started with the idea to outsource libraries and tried to make the facts fit the argument.” Cllr Nigel Ayre