Historic firsts are becoming a bit more common in these days of dramatic change. It has now been confirmed that the management of four library services have changed hands today.  Carillion has purchased the support services arm of Laing, John Laing Integrated Services, who manage the library services of Hounslow, Ealing, Croydon and Harrow.  Although these have effectively been bought and sold, this does not necessarily mean any change.  The same service level agreements will stay in force.  Moreover, Laing were, now it is clear, losing interest in the subject and, obviously, Carillion are interested so it may even be a positive change.  On the other hand, the sale brings into sharp relief what happens when services are outsourced – at a basic level, the councils, employees and users lose control and, in cases like this, have no say in the transfer. Google JLIS now and you cannot even access the JLIS website.  Many politicians, councils and private contractors would argue that efficiencies make up for all of this. Others may argue otherwise.

In other news, the Society of Authors have been informed by an unhurried DCMS that the consultation on extending the Public Lending Right to e-books and audio-books has been delayed until “before the end of this year”.  The consultation was initially promised for around now.

Carillion buys JLIS

“Our decision to dispose of JLIS underlines our commitment to our principal investment and asset management activities. JLIS has made significant progress over the last few years, but it no longer fits within our core strategy. We are confident that under its new ownership, the business will see future growth within the public sector and benefit from being a part of an integrated support services company.” Adrian Ewer, John Laing chief exec.

““The acquisition complements Carillion’s existing support services activities and capabilities.” Carillion

“What this will mean for users and staff who knows? Although it must be a little unsettling to say the least as staff and users in Ealing, Harrow & Croydon have only just got to know JLIS in the last few weeks (Hounslow has been run by them for over 5 years) and are now going to have to start again. The other thing that might worry staff is the Carillion’s reputation for being anti-union and for cutting jobs and terms and conditions, see; http://www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/gmb-carillion-swindon-protest-over-cutsStop the privatisation of public libraries.


  • Graphic design: Hvass and Hannibal make Copenhagen’s library for kids – It’s Nice That. “If libraries are disappearing from the world as rapidly as it’s been reported then I’ve found the one I’d like to spend the last days of book borrowing in while all the other repositories of learning topple all around; Copenhagen’s central library. Hvass and Hannibal have recently finished an identity for this forward-thinking establishment, creating a modular system of shapes that can form different characters and patterns across a range of printed and online materials.”

“This conference was also an opportunity to present … the Ideas Box , the media kit for Refugees, designed in partnership with UNHCR and designer Philippe Starck. With a satellite internet connection and touch pads , electronic and paper books and a traveling cinema, Ideas Box will target children and adults . Standardized , portable and field deployable , autonomous energy easy to use and robust, it is a major innovation in access to culture and information in crisis situations .” Bibliotheques sans frontieres (France).

  • Privatization Benefits the 1%; Public Services Benefit Everyone – Truth-Out (USA). “Private systems are focused on making profits for a few well-positioned people. Public systems, when sufficiently supported by taxes, work for everyone in a generally equitable manner. The following are six specific reasons why privatization simply doesn’t work”

“As a volunteer actually running a community-managed library, I can confirm that we can only offer a minimal service. The building has become a community hub, even offering computer classes, but we fumble along, trying to find funds to keep going and provide a service to the community in our amateur way. Is it better than nothing? Just.” Hazel comments on Helen Milner’s blog.

  • Read and let read – Austrian Library Association. “The Austrian Library Assotiation (Büchereiverband Österreichs., BVÖ) has uploaded a new video as part of their reading campaign titled Lesen und lesen lassenRead and let read. This association is made up by 2600 libraries and offers them a wide range of services, from publishing to web page creation.”
  • Reinventing Libraries Keynote Panel Looks into Industry’s Future : The Digital Shift 2013 – Digital Shift (USA). Key trends to look out for including: (1) measure and quantify results to demonstrate value (2) collaborations with other libraries, including internationally (3) using physical space vacated by books for activities inc. MakerSpaces/IT/Media (4) More risk-taking (5) More advertising.

“Libraries are well positioned to serve as really vibrant hubs in their communities,” said Hildreth. “We know we have the public trust, and we want to treasure and preserve that and use it make our communities strong.”

Local news

“Despite cries from the packed public gallery, and pleas from backbench councillors to think more carefully about the suggested cuts, all five proposals – affecting nursery and pre-nursery  children, youth services, libraries, day centres, and the meal on wheels service – were approved for consultation.”

  • Sheffield – Council should do some creative thinking – Star / Letters. “The current economic situation is affecting all families, not just the council, and the ability for children to be able to access books easily and disadvantaged in any other ways. Surely with a little more creative thinking the council could find ways to minimise the devastating effect these closures will have on all sections of the local community.”
  • Southend – Video: Residents urged to stump up cash to save Leigh library – Southend Standard. “Opposition councillors Ron Woodley and Stephen Aylen called on the town council to raise its own council tax precept to keep the iconic building open, so the borough council can fund Kent Elms library instead. Either Leigh or Kent Elms libraries are likely to lose their professional staff as part of Southend Council plans to save £378,000.” Video here.