Archive for December, 2013

Changes in branch numbers 2007/8 to 2012/13

The following, taken from the Cipfa figures (based on returns from local authorities: they’re not independently audited) was put on Lis-pub-libs by Lionel Aldridge.  It is reproduced with his kind permission here.  

Changes

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Library Campaign advert

Start here, go anywhere: Great plans and ideas from abroad, not so much from UK

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Ideas

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Awesome boxes, librarian laureates and model programmes

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Ideas

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“We feel that it is only library users and campaigners that stand up for librarians”

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Lincoln libraries protest march

Top UK public library trends of 2013

It’s nearly Christmas and so it’s a good time to have a look at what the main public library events and trends have been in 2013.  They’re in what I consider to be rough order of importance and, being I’m a librarian and not a journalist. I’m naturally putting the most important one first.  Of course, we all have different views and I’ve doubtless missed something out you’d like to have seen included.  Therefore, please use the comments to put in your own views or email me at ianlibrarian at live.co.uk.

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Christmas Mini-Challenge launched by Reading Agency

News

  • A place of their own: Reading Activists change young people’s lives– Reading Agency. “When a group of boys started showing up at the library in St Helens, displaying anti-social behaviour, the library team had a choice. Ban them, or help them. They chose the latter, and decided to get them involved in the Reading Activists project.”
  • Cressida Cowell launches Christmas Mini-Challenge for young readers – Reading Agency. “After the record-breaking success of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge for children Cressida Cowell, bestselling author of the How To Train Your Dragon books, today launches national charity The Reading Agency’s first-ever Christmas Mini-Challenge. Children who head to their local library and read any three books they like over the school winter holidays (12 December 2013 to 6 January 2014), logging them on their own profile on the Summer Reading Challenge website (summerreadingchallenge.org.uk) will receive a special ’virtual badge’ to add to their profile, plus a secret reward video message from Cressida Cowell.”

“At this year’s AGM, SLIC Chair Fiona McLeod MSP announced the re-launch of the Innovation and Development Fund (IDF) for 2013/14. The IDF was introduced to offer Scottish library services support for creative service development and to encourage experimental approaches to service delivery. This year, a total fund of £40,000 is available for innovative projects that support SLIC’s four strategic objectives: quality standards and evaluation; innovation and service development; co-ordination, collaboration and co-operation; and workforce development. Applications will be accepted from Friday 13th December 2013 until 5pm on Monday 3rd February 2014. For more information and to apply for funding, please download the application pack from the SLIC website http://www.scottishlibraries.org/news/.”

International news

  • Denver Public Library is seeking local music for its brand-new Volume Denver program – Westword (USA). “The Denver Public Library is seeking local music for a flagship program it’s preparing to launch this spring called Volume Denver … Ideally, the library would like to launch the site next spring with a healthy selection of local music for cardholders to have access to. The site will be browsable by artist or album, with detailed information about each act and links to the individual websites. With 647,078 CDs checked out from the Denver Public Library system last year, an estimated 400,000 cardholders and over nine million visits to the library’s website alone in 2012, the potential for exposure for the scene to new listeners is obviously immense.”
  • New Edmonton Public Library digital space boasts 3D printers, book-printing machine – Metro (Canada). “The EPL Makerspace allows the public to access high-end technology such as a 3D printer, Espresso book printing machine and a green screen equipped with a camera and photo-editing software. “The idea is most people don’t have all of this at home – the pros have it. This is giving the average Edmontonians the chance to get their hands on some basic to mid-level and in some cases, pro-level tools and really try something,””
  • Stockholm library interior – CG Society (Sweden). Computer generated image concepts of new library designs certainly have the “wow” factor, even if those walkways scare the bejeebus out of you.
  • Whole Lot of Americans Would Be Angry if Their Public Library Closed – Atlantic Cities(USA). “overwhelming majorities agreed that public libraries “play an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed,” in promoting literacy, and in improving the quality of life in communities. Women, minorities, the unemployed, and people from lower-income and less-educated families were also the most likely to value library services as “very important.””

UK news by authority

  • Brent – Library Planning fraud investigation still awaited as developer consults in a pub – Wembley Matters. “Many people are asking when the police investigation in to the fake email support for Andrew Gillck’s change-of-use planning application for Kensal Rise Library be completed. It is, after all, three months since the council was first handed evidence of online fraud – an attempt to inflate local backing for Mr Gillick’s proposals. Brent later claimed that it had passed this material to the police. Not exactly, alas. The council had simply forwarded its findings to the civilian-run national fraud and internet-crime reporting centre, Action Fraud.”
  • Bristol – Love Bristol Libraries – Facebook. For more on the the decision to lease out several floors of Bristol Central Library to a Free School.

National Libraries Day – Saturday 8 February 2014: “The Bus Pass Poets invite everyone, including councillors, to support this celebration in one of Bristol’s 27 local libraries. What ?   Join us and read library poems by local and famous writers such as Julia Donaldson and John Hegley.  Design your dream library. A competition for under 16s. Sea Mills Library. Bus 41 to Sunny Hill; Sylvan Way. When ? 11 am – 12 noon 2 -3 pm. NB Every branch library is open on Saturday. There’s still plenty of time for other groups to put on an event. Julie@jboston.plus.com Tel 0117 942 8637. National Libraries Day aaron.hussey@clip.org.uk

  • Camden – How a team of volunteers saved Camden’s at risk libraries – Guardian / Local Leaders Network. By Tulip Siddiq, councillor in Camden. “Volunteers have proven particularly vital in Camden. After I was elected in 2010, Camden council was faced with an £80 million shortfall and, together with my colleagues, I had to reduce my budget by 22%. One of the recommendations was to close nine of the 13 libraries in the borough but having lived in Camden since I was teenager I was reluctant to sell off these buildings”

“My priority was to ensure that the new libraries were supported by the council at the critical early phase. I put in place a year of transitional funding from the council, peppercorn rent wherever possible and facilitated training from council staff to show the new volunteers the ropes. I also founded the Camden Library Network, as a forum for our libraries regardless of how they are funded. I didn’t want single community libraries to become isolated in the future.” … “In an ideal world, the council would keep running all its local libraries with no reduction in service at all but, as things stand, the community libraries in Camden are an inspiring example of residents taking charge of a public service, keeping it open while maintaining links with their local authority.” Tulip Siddiq, cabinet member for Culture, Camden Council

  • Carillion (Croydon, Ealing, Harrow, Hounslow) – Update on Carillion – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “Approx 100 individuals have been given “at risk of redundancy” notices across Croydon, Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow Libraries and Culture. Carillion employ about 500 people in Libraries in the four Boroughs, so this is about 20% of all staff.  The distribution of “at risk” individuals/roles is not evenly distributed across the Boroughs, some have less some have more. These restructure proposals were written in early 2013 before the Carillion buy out of JLIS. The implementation date for the new structure, which would involve a minimum of 30 job losses across the four Boroughs, has been set for 1st of February 2014. I’ve been told that there are both zero hours and agency staff in all the Boroughs. These people could theoretically be sacked with a week’s notice, so may be that’s where this comment came from. In respect of Children’s and Youth Services, and library services in general, I’ve been told that Carillion appear to have no basic interest in these and really only bought JLIS out to gain access to their ‘Facilities Management’ contracts. I’ve also been told that negotiations are ongoing over restructuring and redundancies and that the zero-hours issue has also been raised.”
  • Cornwall – Truro library is most-visited in the south west – West Briton.  “expenditure on libraries in the south west faced one of the largest percentage reductions. The region saw a 4.3 per cent reduction in total expenditure in the last year, according to CIPFA. Mark Read, head of shared services at Cornwall Council, said: “The team at Truro Community Library has worked very hard to promote the library which even boasts its own community garden – magically transformed into Santa’s grotto in the run up to Christmas.”
  • Lincolnshire – “Gagged” staff speak out as D-day for libraries looms – Lincolnshire Echo. Sickness and disciplinary records will count against staff fighting eachother for the remaining jobs. Staff regularly warned not to speak out against cuts or face disciplinary action. Staff “dragging themselves to work” in order to gain better chance of being re-employed. Council said they “could not stop” staff speaking out but reminded them that if they did so there would be consequences.
  • Sheffield – Fight is on for Sheffield city library – Star. “More than 100 residents crammed into a public meeting at Upperthorpe Library at the weekend to put their opinions on record as part of a 12-week consultation over plans to shut libraries across the city.”
  • Swindon – Cuts risk to history – Swindon Advertiser / Letters. “Next week two local studies librarians will have to compete for a single job as Swindon Borough Council makes more cuts to its public services.” … “To cut staff in this area is to promote a message that Swindon’s history, and the physical evidence of it, is not important and the council is prepared to let it perish.” … “consider the half a century it took to deliver the Central Library itself, a facility that has had its services reduced ever since it opened.” Long list of signatories to letter. 

 

Books, librarians and quiet

Editorial 

Further Pew Internet Research survey results continue to show the importance of public libraries (and of books and of librarians) to the US public.  It also demonstrates, to my mind at least, the need for such research in the UK as it would be a powerful weapon for library services in their dealings with policy makers. Interestingly, the two most important services, as seen by the public are books and library staff, with quiet study space not far behind.  This ties in with what Norfolk Libraries say today about their continued success as the most popular library service in the UK – that keeping well maintained book stocks is key.

The other item of note is continuing talk about the proposed job losses by Carillion.  The company has recently become one of the few controllers of multiple library services in the UK (alongside the Tri-Borough and GLL) after purchasing the library arm of John Laing.

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Official figures show fewer closures; big rise in volunteers; decline in usage and funding

2012/13 Official library usage figures

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) released these figures on 6th December but they’re charged for and so ordinary mortals need to wait until the press covers them, which was on the 10th December.  The main points from this coverage are:

  • There were 74 static and mobile libraries fewer at the end of 2012/13 than at the beginning (compared to 201 lost in 2011/12). The rate of closure has therefore dramatically slowed, although it is unclear how this figure is affected by volunteer libraries .
  • 4.4% cut in expenditure (£1.,048bn).  Staff costs were static due to a pay freeze but inflation would have added to this figure to some extent in reality. Estimated figure for 2013/14 is £995m representing a further cut of 5% (with staff pay being 1% “up” this year).
  • 6% fewer physical visits  (288m)
  • 25% more web visits Therefore, if you add physical and online visits together and there was a 1.5% increase year on year (410m)
  • 2.3% fewer books held (92.2m)
  • 6.6% fewer book loans (262.7m)
  • 10.4% fewer non-book loans (19.7m)
  • 6.8% reduction in staff (20,302)
  • 44.5% more volunteers (33,808)

The major trends from are:

  • councils have continued cutting expenditure as before but realise there are less politically poisoning ways of doing it than closing libraries. Hollowing out of services (reductions in paid staff/bookfund/everything in fact) is going on instead.
  • The massive jump in the use of volunteers year on year is an indicator of one way that authorities are meeting the cuts.  That’s a gigantic year on year change and suggests something revolutionary is going on.
  • decline in use roughly reflects decline in funding.  There’s something deeper than this though.  I say this because it’s not simply less books meaning less borrows because the reduction in loans was three times greater than the reduction in bookstock. This is where e-books come in perhaps. One can assume from everything one sees on the street that e-books are affecting book loans but this is not an over-riding factor in these figures: the decline can be explained by cuts in expenditure rather than a shift to e-books.
  • online use is shooting up.  This is notoriously difficult to measure but, if you’re of an optimistic frame of mind, then if you add all the physical and online together, there was an increase in overall library visits last year.
  • audio-visual loans declining fast, presumably due to commercial online provision.
  • Having said that, UK libraries are managing to decline in a recession while usage in other countries (notably the USA) is generally increasing.  There is no clear answer to why this is so other than the sheer depth of the cuts being incurred (although I would hazard the guess that the broader level of households being online here than the USA has had some impact).

This is what other commentators say:

“”In a recession, and one with bookshops struggling, you would expect to see more people using libraries for the books and for the facilities. That seems to be the case in places like the US and much of Europe, so why isn’t that happening here? Ultimately there are deep issues. Austerity plays a part, but it is the failure to realise that simple presence of books and availability of reading are what make libraries useful for most of the people who want to use them that is the cause of the decline.” Tim Coates

“‘The figures show that councils are learning a new trick. You don’t shut libraries outright, because your voters will hate you. Instead, you dump them on to volunteers to run and call them “community libraries” … The headline statistics show the national trend, which overall doesn’t look great. ‘You need to drill down to the local details. These would show where library services are booming – as many are. Even more important, they would help show the factors that lead to success. But this analysis is not provided. Laura SwaffieldLibrary Campaign

“People seem to be missing the main trend which is less authorities are submitting figures: 2011-12 figures were missing in their entirety from 1 metropolitan authority, 3 unitaries & 3 Welsh authorities, financial figures were missing from another metro & 2 unitaries. 2012-12 figures were missing in their entirety from 2 London Boroughs, 4 metros, 4 unitaries and 4 Welsh, financial figures were missing from further authorities. It is difficult to compare when the largest metropolitan authority (Birmingham) does not supply figures – last year they were listed as having 286 staff. Looking at the volunteer figures Gateshead, South Tyneside and Leeds all reported a similar number of total volunteer hours but Gateshead volunteers averaged 5.7 hours a year, Leeds 35.5 and South Tyneside each 165.5 hour per year (29 volunteers providing 4800 hours). Can we really draw conclusions? It is year by year becoming less of a national picture.” Lionel Aldridge on Lis-Pub-Libs

“By my calculations visits are as follows: 2011/12 (000s): 404,312 (physical + web visits) 2012/13 (000s): 410,402 (physical + web visits).  Which equates to a 1.5% increase in visits year on year. So, library usage has increased slightly rather than decreased, despite cuts. Imagine how well the service would do if it was funded properly…” Ian Clark

  • CIPFA records continuing library closures – BookSeller. “The estimated figure for expenditure in 2013-14 drops below the £1bn mark to £995m, representing a drop of 9.4% from 2011-12.”
  • Library volunteers up by half in a year – Herald Scotland. “The institute said the data showed people are using libraries in new ways as a community hub, with storytelling sessions, reading groups and author visits all hosted in the buildings. Rob Whiteman, chief executive of CIPFA, said: “Local authorities have worked hard to identify savings and reduce spending, but also seem to be looking at new ways of keeping their libraries open to the public.”
  • Rate of library closures slowing, CIPFA survey finds – Public Finance. “The rate of UK public library closures slowed last year”

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Connecting all parts of society with eachother and the skills they need

Editorial

A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank unintentionally highlights the need for public libraries.  In a report that is full of questions about how to integrate older people into their communities and linking them up with the internet, there is only one mention of libraries and that is about reading groups.  Perhaps if public libraries were a new thing then their wonderfulness connecting all parts of society with eachother and with the information and skills they needed would mean that the IPPR would be all over them.

I know that Public Libraries News is seen as a campaigning blog and because I cannot hide my love for public libraries and all they stand for, rightly so, but this does not mean that only one side of the argument is shown on its pages.  Published today is  a case study from the non-profit trust Fresh Horizons in Huddersfield that shows a successful non-council model for libraries provision.  It makes impressive reading.

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“If you put in libraries, the reading scores go up”

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Ideas

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