Editorial

Well, perhaps “shush” is but the idea of having quiet in the library has received support today from two articles, one on Birmingham’s new mega library and one from the USA.  Both question the rush in public libraries away from the quiet contemplative places of yesteryear towards the kid-friendly techy cafe-places of many a librarians’ dreams. I, personally, am a “loud” librarian – I chat to everyone, I do fun (well, I think they are) class visits and assemblies and don’t ban mobile phones anywhere.  However, that does not mean that “my” library does not have its quiet areas.  Quiet, you see, is important.  There’s not many public spaces where you can just sit and read, or study, without disturbance.  For many people, there’s not such a place at home either.  So, being quiet is actually a unique selling point for libraries and in the rush to ditch the half-moon and bun image, librarians are doing themselves down.  Big libraries should have space for both, small libraries can have separate times for both.  Libraries, you see, should be joyous community hives and contemplative study areas and hymns to the book.  We serve the whole community and they need different things from us: serving just one section (or what we think is right) runs the danger of neglecting the others.

Changes

News

  • 3D Printers at the Library – Fabbaloo (USA). “We think this is a tremendous idea, not only because it will grow knowledge of 3D printing among the public, but also because it could trigger the development of new small businesses using 3D printing – and also raise the sales of personal 3D printers. One excellent example of this approach has been done in Rhode Island by the Cranston Public Library System …”
  • Begin Borrowing e-books now – Library Wales. “You can borrow or reserve up to 4 e-books at any one time”. Available in 19 authorities.
  • No confidence motion in Ed Vaizey – Alan Gibbons. “When Mr Vaizey’s Nelsonian stance of never intervening, no matter how deep the cuts, how outrageous the failure to consult the public, was established I met him again as part of a delegation which included library campaigners and the author Julia Donaldson. He flatly refused to take a coherent and effective position on the maintenance of a comprehensive and efficient service. I hope the motion of no confidence passes. It will reflect the coalition government’s appalling neglect of the library service. Logically, there should also be a vote of no confidence in Mr Vaizey’s boss, Maria Miller and the entire DCMS which has proved itself, in the time-honoured phrase of MPs, not fit for purpose.”
  • ‘No confidence’ Vaizey vote this Saturday – BookSeller. “A vote of no confidence in libraries minister Ed Vaizey will send powerful message about the crisis facing the service, according to CILIP members backing the motion.”

“Jo Richardson, a member of campaign group Voices for the Library who is proposing the motion, said: “Ed Vaizey keeps insisting that the service is not in crisis, and we need to show him that it is. This vote gives CILIP the chance to look outside of itself and set an agenda, supporting hard-pressed librarians.”

Tom Roper, who will be seconding the motion, said: “There has never been a minister who has presided over so many closures yet done so little. This vote can start a discussion on the problems we are facing, in the same way the British Medical Association expressed their lack of confidence in Jeremy Hunt.”

  • Robert Darnton: the library in the digital age – TVO (USA). Chief Librarian of Harvard University talks about what a library can do different in the age of the internet.
  • Success of libraries checks out – Columbia Chronicle (USA). “The Back of the Yards library branch, which will be attached to the Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School, will offer programs like weekly book clubs for teens as well as Teen Tech Week and Teen Read Week, according to the mayor’s press release. Several library organizations, like the American Library Association and the Urban Libraries Council, hope this development will motivate low-income students to pursue college degrees, according to Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association.”
  • UK Public Libraries Initiative launches technical pilot – Wiley. “The aim is that provision through public libraries in this way will extend the ‘walk-in’ access already available at university libraries, and will enable anyone to have free access to a wealth of journal articles and conference proceedings at their local public library. The PLI will benefit people looking for authoritative information relevant to their interests and needs.”
  • Welcome to Today’s Totally Modern Library: No ‘Shushing’ Allowed! – Huffington Post (USA). “Long a refuge for quieter adults and kids who like the company of an engrossing page, the libraries I’ve been visiting lately are awash in almost as much noise and activity as a busy Starbucks. When I asked about some loud talking at a neighborhood branch in Providence, where I live, the staffer at the desk looked me up and down. “I don’t ‘shush’ people,” she told me. “That went out with sharpening pencils.” It did? I’m not trying to put a crimp in anyone’s fun, but the noisiest among us already dominate most of the places where people are together. Schools. Offices. You can pick it. Isn’t the library supposed to be slightly sacred? A temple, not of worship, but of contemplation?”

“It may just be me, but I’m also finding fewer librarians around to ask questions of. In their place are staffers with nametags that say “Volunteer.” Professionals who are still at their desks tend to refer to themselves as Library Media Specialists — media being the operative word.”

Local news

  • Birmingham – The big kids’ library – Spiked. “Reading the publicity material, it seems the average library visitor – as rather insultingly imagined by the commissioners and designers of the library – is a big kid: easily distracted, effusive, wanting to ‘experience’ a library and someone else’s whimsical ideas about ‘the importance’ of books without having to do anything so serious as reading them.” … “In the past, libraries were places for silent reading. In the new Library, the discipline of silent study is disregarded. Sound is openly welcomed as part of the diversity of the Library’s functions, with its amphitheatre, music practice rooms and recording studio.”

“Promotion of the online catalogue, performance and arts distractions, viewpoints and gardens, all speaks of a general insecurity about the purpose of libraries and books. The Library of Birmingham is certainly not the only library, new or old, to be showing this insecurity, or treating its visitors as big kids. But the idea of a library – a place full of the best books ever written, providing the luxury of quiet, uninterrupted reading and filled with people motivated by themselves to read and study – is the only one on which the future of libraries can successfully be based.”

  • Calderdale – Talking Rugby League at Halifax Central Library – Try reading. “An opportunity to hear real experts and leading commentators share their passion for the game. Panel speakers are Phil Caplan, publisher, bookseller and co-editor of Scratching Shed magazine …”
  • Herefordshire – Alternative offer to planned cuts to cultural services made hours before crucial meeting – Ledbury Reporter. “UNISON is calling on cabinet to reject the recommended options and delay and decision for further research and consultation. UNISON regional organiser Steve Akers said this position called on the Council to enact the decision made by full council in May to consider a referendum on raising council tax above cap in 2014 to reduce the need for further cuts in services and jobs, as well as raising funds through the sale of selected capital and land assets owned by Herefordshire Council.”
  • Herefordshire – Libraries on ‘borrowed time': cabinet meeting today – Hereford Times. Options facing council are “county’s libraries are on borrowed time if they can’t lend themselves to other uses or find volunteers to run them through fund-raising support” or “Services would be slashed to “core activity” with opening hours reduced at some sites by as much as 50 per cent and the emphasis shifted to online access.”.  Decision this evening.
  • Herefordshire – Live blog: Updates from today’s Herefordshire Council cabinet meeting – Ledbury Reporter. “An important meeting for the future of many county services today. We now know that a preliminary decision has been made to reduce library opening hours, with a core service maintained … Negotiations with the county’s town, parish and city councils on priority areas for the first phase of devolved services will continue for three months.”
  • Lincolnshire – Plans to derail cuts to libraries has failed – Louth Leader. Several motions against cuts defeated. “Sutton on Sea campaigner Patti Marson suggested the cuts had been made ‘with no reference to community needs but solely on a cost saving basis’ dismissing the offer of a fortnightly mobile visit as ‘frankly ludicrous’. Coun Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, speaking later, said nonexecutive councillors could take part in a meeting before a final decision is taken in December.”
  • Merthyr Tydfil – Abefan’s new community library – Merthyr Tyfil Council. “Merthyr Tydfil Public Libraries opened the doors to a new Community Library in Aberfan and Merthyr Vale Community Centre. The new space, located on the ground floor of the Community Centre, offers a full range of library services to the people of Aberfan and surrounding areas.” … “Aberfan Community Library is open for business on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9.30am until 12.30pm and 1.30pm until 6pm and on Saturdays from 9.30am until 2pm.  “
  • Norfolk – Revealed: Social care, mobile libraries, bus subsidies and school crossing patrols at risk as Norfolk County Council looks to make £140m of cuts – Evening News 24. “Reducing how often mobile libraries call at some places and cutting staff in branch libraries to save £400,000.” … “Mr Nobbs stressed there were no plans to close fire stations, libraries or recycling centres, while winter gritting routes would not be hit.”
  • Northamptonshire – Free Wi-Fi in all the county’s libraries – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “As well as in all 36 libraries in Northamptonshire, Wi-Fi is also now available at Brixworth Country Park and at the Record Office in Northampton.”.  See also BBC report.
  • Sheffield – Author calls Sheffield library cuts a ‘tragedy – Star. “Sheffield writer Gavin Extence …  told crowds at the Off The Shelf event how he had researched the book in the Central Library.”

“I couldn’t afford to buy books, I did all my research in the libraries. I was also volunteering one day a week teaching English and that would have been pretty difficult without the libraries – there are so many things libraries do which probably aren’t on people’s radars as much as they could be.” Gavin Extence, author of The Universe Versus Alex Woods.

  • Sheffield – Community lifeline hope for libraries – Sheffield Telegraph. “Twenty-seven organisations and individuals have stepped forward in response to the appeal to help save Sheffield libraries. Community groups are among those who have expressed an interest in playing a part in keeping open up to 16 branches threatened with closure. They include mainly ” community groups “But the list also ranges from companies eyeing a takeover of all public libraries to Forum Cafe Bars, which is looking at the idea of combining a library with a wine bar or restaurant.”.  The companies are Three organisations have expressed an interest in taking over the service – the Sheffield Cubed consortium, Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust and public sector operator John Laing.”
  • Sheffield – Maybe Libraries should shut – Star / Colin Drury. “That doesn’t mean encouraging ignorance or isolating those who use them still; it means coming up with fresh ways to provide relevant resources. Offering free public transport to those using the service, perhaps? Better stocking school libraries and keeping them open at weekends, maybe? Setting up computer suites in the back rooms of paid local businesses complete with free internet and book ordering services?”
  • Suffolk – Annual report – Suffolk Libraries. The first year of Suffolk running independent of the council is reviewed in glossy report.  Useful reading for those considering a move out of council control.
  • Worcestershire – Community group to manage library – Evesham Observer. “Around 30 people have expressed an interest in forming a community group to take on the management of the Leamington Road library and have been invited to a special meeting at the library on Monday, September 30 at 6pm. This latest development follows a consultation launched earlier this year which sought people’s views on how the library could be managed in the future following Worcestershire County Council’s plan to save £1.8million from its Libraries and Learning budget.”