Editorial

Sheffield are making it clear that over half of their libraries will close if people don’t stop protesting and start working with them, unpaid, to keep them open. This is part of a common strategy amongst councils which shifts the onus of responsibility away from themselves and onto local communities.  If a local area doesn’t staff it’s own library then it is its own fault if it closes.  Cuts from central government mean that everyone has to work harder and it’s the library user’s turn.  The questionnaires and surveys, necessary for such cuts to go legally unchallenged, are sometimes weighted towards an expectation that the reader will volunteer.  Groups which protest against the closures are thus not helping, but rather hindering, their library service. and, in the end, assist the Council in reducing their budget by, literally, doing their work for them. A lady on Twitter I was in conversation with called this strategy “volunteer grooming” and notes that her eighty year old father in law felt compelled to volunteer after such a questionnaire. People who love their library service then become split between those who want to protest and those who see the closure as inevitable unless they work unpaid to keep it open.  Such splits can become quite acrimonious, 

To be fair, councils are facing the same problems everywhere and there are only so many solutions to the problem of the deepest cuts to local council budgets in peacetime history.  No-one wants to be the one to close a library and so other options are found … and once the volunteer library idea takes hold, it’s hard to stop as it so neatly solves several problems at once.  It shifts the blame and it co-opts those most likely to protest and it keeps the libraries open, at least in the short term.  OK, it’s not entirely what a purist would call 100% voluntary and it’s bad news for the paid library staff (and presumably any other paid council staff where volunteers are seen as an option) but the library keeps open.  But councillors may be tempted to say get real, for this is Local Government Budget Hell so expect a devil’s bargain.  Those who believe in an adequately funded and staffed library service may be tempted to say other things.

Changes

Ideas

News

  • Annual General Meeting – CILIP.  Proxies for the crucial CILIP AGM on the rebranding and on no confidence in the libraries minister Ed Vaizey need to be in by 11am on Thursday. 
  • Bats eat bookworms – Boston Globe. “In a new book, “The Library: A World History,” author James Campbell and photographer Will Pryce survey the world’s libraries, from the expansive new National Library of China to the Tripitaka Koreana, which was built in 1251 in South Korea and is one of the oldest intact libraries in the world. The book is full of interesting asides, including the fact about the bats, which live at the Biblioteca Joanina and the Mafra Palace Library in Portugal. “
  • Everyone will welcome free school meals, but it takes more than that to rear a successful, happy child – Alan Gibbons. “While a child’s stomach has to be filled, what about her or his mind? This week, it looks like Sheffield, Clegg’s local area, is going to lose half its libraries, a cut occasioned by the 28% reduction in local authority spending. Literacy, like a good diet, is essential to a child’ development. When will the long refused funds be found for that?”

Dear Mr Dron, Thank you for your information request of 23 August.  You asked for the following information: “Advice given by Mr Yinnon Ezra relating to issues arising out of the reorganisation of their library services by Brent, Lewisham , Isle of Wight and/or Bolton Councils together with notes, memoranda, minutes, reports and correspondence relating to consideration of any such advice.” I have dealt with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Following an extensive search of our records, I can confirm that the department does not hold any information within scope of your request. Yours sincerely, Freedom of Information Team

“One is inclined to wonder what Mr Ezra does with his time.  After all, he’s costing rather more than ACL (a body required by the 1964 Act), which the DCMS is so anxious to abolish that it neglected to provide for a consultation at the time it reached the decision on abolition.” Geoffrey Dron

  • How stopping bedtime stories too early can damage children’s literacy: Those who are read to are more likely to enjoy books  – Mail. “Oxford University Press surveyed 1,000 children aged seven to 11. Half of young readers said they’d enjoy reading more if parents helped. Many parents abandon reading with their children from the age of eight. Half of eight and nine year olds were ‘rarely or never read to at home’
  • International Games Day – IFLA. “We have always known that libraries link their communities to the wider world. Now we have a single event that will connect libraries on every continent – including Antarctica – in a single chain of communication lasting over 24 hours. International Games Day @ your library is a completely free event that links libraries all around the world. It is auspiced by the American Library Association. All you have to do to participate is have some games (of any kind) in or around your library on the day – this year, Saturday November 16. The event can be as simple or as elaborate as you like! You can read more about it, and see the free promotional posters you can use, at the link just given. To register, just go to http://bit.ly/igd13reg.”
  • Look what just washed up on the beach: a pop-up library – Lost at E Minor (France). “A mobile library has popped up in the southern French town of Istres on the beach of Romaniquette. Dubbed Bibliotheque de Plage, it’s the creation of industrial designer Matali Crasset, who worked with the Istres municipal library to encourage book reading and borrowing. Nothing beats basking in the sun by the beach with a book in your hand”
  • Public Libraries as Providers of Digitally Inclusive Services and Resources: A National Survey Redefined – Library PR. “Starting this September, the American Library Association (ALA) Office for Research & Statistics and the University of Maryland Information Policy & Access Center will begin capturing information about the vital roles public libraries play in supporting digital inclusion. The Digital Inclusion Survey will take the pulse of public library service in the areas of digital literacy, economic and workforce development, civic engagement, educational support, health information and public access to the internet.”
  • Should Public Libraries be Welcoming Homes for Ingenuity? – PC World (USA). “Public libraries are about books, right? Yes, books. And something other than books, too. Public libraries are physical homes for the human imagination. The human imagination is represented physically in books, but also in the things we build and make. The media we make. The contraptions we devise. The songs we compose. The art we make. Traditionally, we haven’t thought of public libraries as “houses of ingenuity,” but maybe that’s the direction in which they’re headed.”
  • Speak Up For Libraries conference in November – BookSeller.
  • Toronto Public Library to open 2 digital hubs – City News Toronto (Canada).  Centres will include 3D printers (naturally) and spaces for programming including facilities for devleloping games.

“We’re doing this in the spirit of wanting people to learn, We’re going to be offering a wide range of workshops, not just training but also information – what does 3D printing mean for our world now.”

Local news

  • Angus – Arbroath Library campaigners win their common good fight – Courier. “In the wake of what was described by one councillor as “an outbreak of common sense”, members voted overwhelmingly to reject the advice of legal experts and stop David Corsar’s gift to the town being moved to the authority’s general fund.”
  • Brent – Council received ‘high proportion’ of fake emails supporting Kensal Rise Library development plans – Brent and Kilburn Times. Suspicion of foul play in moves to redevelop Kensal Rise Library: “The report states ‘a large proportion of the supporting emails appear to have been fabricated’. In a further twist, three ‘supporters’ informed the council they had not sent an email backing the plans from their address. In addition, written letters of support had been received addressed from 95 High Road which is the site of Willesden Library and correspondence addressed from Kensal Rise Library itself.”
  • Bristol – Central Library: What’s in the lower floors? – Good for Bristol.  Looks at the very-much used floors that the Free School wishes to take over and wonders at why the move is being considered and the detrimental impacts it will have on the library service.
  • Bristol – Short Story: The Tale of the Mayor, the Cook and the Wardrobe – Blue Glass Boy. Entertaining short story that is not course meant in any way to reflect the current events in Bristol where a Free School is taking over part of the Central Library, with the reference stack and those departments using the space having to move elsewhere.
  • Derbyshire – Health project cash will boost opening hours of city libraries – This is Derbyshire. “Five libraries in Derby are set to see their weekly opening hours increased. The move, which flies in the face of library cuts being made across the country, is set to affect libraries in Mackworth, Pear Tree, Alvaston, Sinfin, and the new Phillip Whitehead Memorial Library in Chaddesden.” … “It has been made possible by the fact that a new health project, funded by £1.5 million of Government cash, will be run from the sites.”
  • Devon – Council outlines changes planned for Exeter libraries – Express and Echo. “At Exeter Central Library, the multi-million pound redevelopment will see the library deliver a broader range of council services, including a wider range of books and resources; a new cafe and outside seating area; Wi-Fi and public computing facilities; improved children and young people’s areas; better access for people with disabilities; quiet reading and study area; and toilet facilities. It will have an Information Hub and will run a programme of cultural events and activities. And it will include meeting spaces and conference facilities; and space for people, such as freelancers or from small businesses, to work from.”
  • Flintshire – Council to review leisure services across the county – Daily Post. “Libraries, leisure and community centres could be shut under a major county-wide review to save cash.  A report, to be considered by Flintshire councillors at a crunch cabinet meeting on Tuesday, has warned that: “The current level of assets cannot be sustained.”  Radical  proposals being put forward by Flintshire council include handing control of council-run assets to community run groups and housing different services, such as libraries and leisure centres under one roof.  The review has been sparked, in part, by an £800,000 overspend, following the £6 million plus upgrade of the Deeside leisure centre and Flint’s Jade Jones centre.”
  • Herefordshire – UNISON’s submission to cabinet regarding proposed cuts to Libraries – They are our libraries and museums / Facebook. Figures show county libraries some of cheapest in country and cuts already made.
  • Kent – Libraries to appear on South Korean TV show – This is Kent. “SBS-TV – Korea’s equivalent of Channel 4 – has been examining the importance of libraries in the UK and the way they encourage the reading of traditional books in the digital age. As well as visiting The Reader Organisation in Liverpool and The Reading Agency in London, the production company decided to film in Kent. Among the activities filmed were a Baby Bounce and Rhyme Time session at the Eden Centre, Edenbridge, and a Creepy House Summer Reading Challenge activity at Sevenoaks.”
  • Lincolnshire – Library cuts council stashes millions away – Spalding Today. ““Lincolnshire County Council underspent by over £1million every week last year and they had left over £55 million.””
  • Lincolnshire – Most older people in Lincolnshire are not online – Lincolnite. “Almost 64% of older people in Lincolnshire are not online, new data from Age UK shows, while under a third are silver surfers. The research also reveals that on average 61% of people aged over 65 in England are offline. There are only four areas in England where the percentage of older people online, outnumber those who are offline: Suffolk, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Surrey.”
  • Lincolnshire – “These proposals are very likely to be terminal to the Library Service” – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “This text is a transcript of the speech given at Lincolnshire County Council Full Meeting by Councillor Steve Palmer (13th September 2013)”
  • Medway – Payday loan sites blocked on Medway Council computers including at libraries amid debt fears – Kent Online. “The move comes amid increasing concerns about debt in the Towns and the number of quick-loan shops. Other measures include banning such lenders from advertising on the three hoardings the council owns and writing to local media to request free advertisements for Medway Credit Union.”
  • Moray – Cullen Library closure battle heads for Holyrood – Banffshire Journal. “battle to save seven Moray libraries, three of them in Findochty, Portknockie and Cullen, has been taken to Holyrood and beyond, after Moray councillors last week ignored senior council officers’ recommendations and voted to close them next year to help the local authority make up a £30 million budget shortfall.”
  • Moray – Leading Scottish author lends her support to Library campaigners – Inside Moray. “Before heading into the opening event at Elgin Library, author Janice Galloway chatted with campaigners and local SNP councillor Graham Leadbitter, saying: “Libraries have been around for 5,000 years and there is a very good reason for that – they are not just about books.” One of the leaders of the campaign, Daphne Francis, revealed that amongst the many steps being taken is the launch of a fund to finance a legal challenge against the closure decision.”
  • Sheffield – Battle to save Sheffield libraries – Star. “Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, who represents Broomhill, said: “Local people have overwhelmingly said that they want Labour to keep their hands off our libraries. “The city faces tough choices but we know that if Labour cut their multi-million pound office makeover, libraries could be saved.”
  • Sheffield – Broomhill library and Crosspool mobile library service to be axed – Crosspool News.
  • Sheffield – Can we save Sheffield libraries? – Star. “The move would spell the loss of 75 full-time or equivalent jobs.”
  • Sheffield – Council chief urges residents to support libraries – LocalGov. “Proposals to overhaul how libraries are run and managed in Sheffield will depend on successfully channelling the energy of community opposition to closures into support for running them, council chiefs have claimed. Sheffield City Council chief executive, John Mothersole, told LocalGov– the day after proposals inviting community groups to step in and take over the running of more than half of the authority’s 28 libraries – that the scale of the financial challenge means just about everything will have to change

“Just cutting isn’t going to get us through this,’ Mr Mothersole said. ‘Residents must be prepared for, and please accept change happening in just about everything we do.’ He said libraries were treasured even by people who don’t use them and represent a very visible microcosm of changes to service delivery, but added there was a willingness to accept new ways of running services. ‘We now need to see that interest converted into solid proposals. It has to be co-created. People will put their energy into proposition, not opposition,’ Mr Mothersole added.”

  • Sheffield – Cutbacks threaten Ecclesfield Library – Look Local. “Local Liberal Democrat and former East Ecclesfield Councillor Colin Taylor said “This is a devastating blow for our community. The council has dithered and delayed making this announcement causing a lot of concern and uncertainty locally. This closure is totally unnecessary and reflects the misguided priorities of our council. They can waste our money on town hall makeovers, paying full time union officials and consultants, rather than preserving these important local services.””
  • Sheffield – Libraries could face closure – ITV.
  • Sheffield – Library closures proposals political spite says Clegg – Yorkshire Post. “Mr Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam, yesterday slammed Sheffield Council for the move, and said: “I’m hugely disappointed that Sheffield’s Labour councillors have chosen to protect office refurbishments and consultants over our much-loved local libraries. “I suspect that when they came to deciding priority Labour were motivated by political spite rather than looking at how much a particular library is used by the local community. “I’m certain that Sheffielders will make their views known during the consultation process.””
  • Sheffield – Up to 15 libraries in Sheffield face the axe – Star. “John Mothersole, council chief executive, said: “We can only fund 11 community libraries plus Central Library. “We thought up to 14 could close, but that has been increased because we face deeper budgetcuts than expected.” “There are 27 organisations who have expressed an interest in running libraries – although we do not want to name them at this stage, because they would then come under a lot of pressure. “We also know there are a lot of people and voluntary groups willing to run libraries and we have funding set aside to allow some of them to do so. “The ideal scenario would be where we do not have to close any libraries at all.””
  • Suffolk – Summer Reading Challenge – Suffolk Libraries. A collection of reviews, with book covers, from children who did the Creepy House challenge this year.  Note also Libraries celebrate the busiest ever Summer Reading Challenge (press release) – “Suffolk Libraries have experienced their busiest ever Summer Reading Challenge this year. Over 7,800 children signed up to take part in the reading challenge which had a ‘creepy house’ theme and is a national initiative by the Reading Agency. This is the most children who have ever signed up in Suffolk (This compares with 7,320 in 2011 and about 6,500 in 2012). In total 34,559 books have now been read through the reading challenge across Suffolk and the total children’s books issued this summer is 178,250 which is an increase from last year.”

“Sunderland library chiefs have some handy advice on what can replace local libraries facing closure. “Becase of Facebook, because of gadgets, we don’t need libraries in the way we used to when I was 15,” Cllr Graeme Miller told a public meeting, which agreed proposals for the closure of nine out of Sunderland’s 20 local libraries to save £850,000 a year. Quite apart from how completely un-useful Facebook is for most homework, research or reading for pleasure, Sunderland is part of the UK region with the highest concentration of people off-line, with a recent survey finding only 42 percent of less well off people in the city had online access from any type of “gadget”, including computers, smart phones and so on.” Sunderland – Library News – Private Eye,

“Mr Booton said it could not have been done without the hard work of volunteers, help from the charity Forever Manchester, and a loan from Co-operative and Community Finance to buy the building.”