Editorial

After a long and hard fight against the proposed cuts to Lincolnshire libraries, which have involved 23,000 names on petitions, marches and a much-criticised consultation, the council decision-makers have decided to go ahead and either close or pass to volunteers around 30 libraries. This, and the budget cut of £2m, makes the county’s library system one of the most substantial victims of the Austerity. Councillors see things differently, though. saying that due to volunteers coming forward, the county may end up with more libraries than it started with.  Campaigners point out that such unpaid branches have questionable futures but to little avail.  Indeed, Deepings Library campaigners now face the stark choice of volunteering (a position they strongly opposed) or seeing their branch close despite a 9,000 name petition to the contrary. Around 100 library staff will lose their jobs as part of all this and, no matter what side you stand on (and the councillors did not mention library staff once in their final debate), one’s heart must go out to them and to the dramas that they face.

I briefly mentioned the £100k Arts Council England grant for artists in North Yorkshire in my last post.  I, along with other “campaigners”, find it hard to reconcile the priority of keeping a viable library system open in the country with the priority given to artists in residence shown by the move.  This is, let me be clear, not a complaint against Arts Council England, whose remit is clearly to do exactly what they are doing, but with the Government that think that Libraries are all about culture and what looks like the increasingly out-of-fashion arty side of things. It seems to me and other observers that such projects, while laudable, are a more elegant offering for a more civilized age than the harsh barbaric one in which we live. It’s hard to see, after all, the sense of £100k in national money going to artists in one county while 30 libraries are effectively withdrawn in another. Indeed, North Yorkshire itself could presumably do with the money in other areas themselves: 2 libraries were outright closed last year with five more passed to volunteers. The year before that, ten mobile libraries ended and there was a £1.7m cut to the libraries budget.  Do you see what I mean? £100k is lovely and I hope much enjoyment and good work will come from the project but, goodness me, talk about skewed priorities.

And there is the sadness and the clear sign that the philistines have won the debate.  For the campaigners are all on the philistine side. In this harsh new world, we would much rather have the money for core priorities than for artists.  We’d much rather have it for keeping libraries open for goodness sake (and for their cultural, social and economic benefit) than for nice extras that perhaps make life worth living in those that survive.  Maria Miller, with her view that the only good Culture is a money-making Culture, would be proud.

Changes

Ideas

UK news

  • ACE grant to library artists sparks controversy – BookSeller. “ACE has given a grant of £100,000 to North Yorkshire County Council’s library service to fund 24 artists to be based in eight libraries to work with library users and other community members.” … “However campaigner Desmond Clarke commented: “Libraries are a statutory service that exist to the benefit of the public to support literacy, reading, education and the acquisition of information and knowledge and ACE has been charged with helping library authorities to ‘develop and improve’, not to change the public and government perception of libraries as ‘cultural hubs’.”

“Right from the start I, and others, had serious concerns about the decision to hand the development remit to ACE, I saw it as a way of undermining and sidelining the educational and information role of libraries and this push towards ‘cultural hubs’ and the tying down of £6m worth of funding to library/arts partnerships only reinforces my belief.” Alan Wylie

  • Get involved in the Library A to Z – Voices for the Library. “We covered all of the alphabet (with a bit of artistic licence in places), but there is still scope for more words to be added into the Library A to Z. Please feel free to add any as a comment and we’ll then include them in the blog post.”
  • PLR rate per loan 2014 – Society of Authors.  Letter to Ed Vaizey noting decline due to volunteer libraries and cuts to libraries “1 Volunteer Libraries: We are sad to note the decrease in the estimated loans of books registered for PLR, caused, no doubt, by the cuts in library services and the exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from the scheme. We urge the Government to include such libraries within the PLR”; asks for minister to protect libraries from cuts; request to enstend PLR to e-books and audiobooks and notes the extension was going to be introduced after a consultation in “Autumn 2013″ that has not yet occurred.
  • Reading ranking stagnation spells trouble for UK – CILIP. “The UK has made little progress in global reading tables, ranking 23rd place out of 65 countries. This is broadly similar to previous PISA figures from three years ago. PISA rankings evaluate 15 year olds from across the globe in reading, science and maths.” Emphasises the need for public and school libraries.
  • When is a library not a library? – Leon’s Library Blog. Unimpressed with Arts Council England pushing a Culture agenda on libraries when the clear need is for ” literacy, learning, and information provision”. “The difficulty is knowing how to deal with ACE. On one hand they are the official government body tasked with overseeing libraries and therefore are in a position to do a great deal of good. On the other hand they have displayed a level of ignorance and incompetence towards libraries that is not only incredibly frustrating to both librarians and campaigners but also damaging to services.”
  • Will public libraries become extinct? – Girls Ask Guys. Lots of different responses with a fair divide between those who think they will survive or go the way of all flesh.
  • Written Statement: Public Libraries in Wales – Welsh Government. “In our Programme for Government, we rightly focus on tackling poverty and stimulating jobs and growth. Libraries are at the heart of this agenda. They provide a vital community service for people of all ages and are an essential component of a civilised society. I am determined to work with other bodies to develop a resilient strategic framework for the forward delivery of Welsh library services. We need libraries more than ever to provide opportunities for learning, free access to digital services and places where the whole community can meet in safe public spaces … Wales has the only strategic framework for the development of library services in the UK. The current strategy, Libraries Inspire, will be completed by 2016.”

“In light of my statutory role to superintend and promote the improvement of public library services, in the New Year I will be commissioning an expert review of current and future plans by local authorities to deliver public library services. The aim will be to identify sustainable future models which maximise the opportunities obtained through collaboration, partnership and innovation. “ John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport

International news

  • 93% of the largest U.S. public libraries (serving 500,000+) are on Facebook – LRS (USA). “Almost all (93%) of the largest libraries (serving 500,000+), a little more than 4 in 5 (83%) libraries serving between 25,000 and 499,999, 7 in 10 (69%) of those serving 10,000 to 24,999, and 54 percent of the smallest libraries (serving less than 10,000) had at least one social media account.” … “Other common social networks were Twitter (84% of the largest libraries were on this network) and YouTube (60% of the largest libraries).”
  • Beware, public libraries.  You’ll go the way of print newspapers if you automatically diss non-librarian’s gutsy ideas  – Library City (USA) “Here is the latest example of so-called professionalism gone awry. In an attack on the all-digital BiblioTech library in Bexar County, Texas, a commenter in an ALA forum on LinkedIn dismissively observed that experiments like this were the brainchildren of nonlibrarians. Please. One of the most knuckleheaded pushes for digitization came from the executive director of the public library inRockford, Illinois, who wanted to splurge on digital books without providing enough e-readers for the city’s many low-income people—the very ones most in need of library content and services. Both librarians and nonlibrarians can be right or wrong. The “isn’t one” excuse is plain lazy.”
  • Health Care Comes to Public Libraries – Governing (USA). “Despite years of cutbacks in staff, hours and financial support, the nation’s 8,951 public libraries remain, for many communities, an important social center.” … ” to find a library that doesn’t offer some kind of wellness class. But it is rare to find a library system that offers actual health care.”.  Wellness and fitness classes very successful where used.
  • NH teen filmmakers challenged to “Spark a Reaction” for public libraries – New Hampshire Department of Human Resources (USA). “Using the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s 2014 national slogan for teens, “Spark a Reaction,” teens are asked incorporate themes from science – including astronomy, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, physics and other scientific fields and topics – into their videos. Entries must be designed for use at any library and appropriate for viewing by audiences of all ages.”
  • Library reno reveals hidden message from London’s past – Metro (Canada). “Most fascinating is a tattered note, which has not been unwrapped. Just one word can be seen: “librarian.””
  • Public Libraries and the Great War – Annoyed Librarian (USA). “Librarians did indeed send books to soldiers, but they wanted to send wholesome books. Wiegand notes that “contemporary literary convention considered pornographic authors such as Zola, Daudet, and De Maupassant.” Not that there were probably a lot of soldiers who wanted to read Zola or Daudet, but those that did would have been out of luck. And then there’s the censorship, lots and lots of censorship. Much of this was actual censorship, with the government actively suppressing German or pro-German literature and librarians leaping in to help them. All over the country librarians were removing books that didn’t seem patriotic enough.”

Events

  • LILAC – 23-25 April 2014 in Sheffield. “LILAC is organised by the CILIP Information Literacy Group and aimed at librarians and information professionals who teach information literacy skills, are interested in digital literacies and want to improve the information seeking and evaluation skills of all library users whoever they may be. LILAC will take place at Sheffield Hallam from 23-25 April 2014 Please visit the bookings page to secure your place at this popular eventCILIP Information Literacy Group Members will get a reduced rate and the early bird rate will apply until Friday 21st February 2014:  http://lilacconference.com/WP/bookings/

UK news by authority

  • Bristol – Campaigners re-double their efforts to block Central Library leasehold disposal – Love Bristol Libraries. “On Thursday 5th December, Mr Ferguson ‘s Cabinet is expected to meet ( at 6.30 pm) and debate whether the Cathedral Choir Primary School leases the non-public space at the prestigious building for 125 years for £50,000 per annum.” … “Among protestors is Cllr Richard Eddy, the former chairman of the all-party Libraries Select Committee, who has launched his own e-petition against the scheme.”
  • Lincolnshire – Council closing libraries to save £2 million a year – ITV. “Lincolnshire County Council has confirmed it will close 30 libraries in the county, leading to the loss of dozens of jobs. The council says it needs to save £2m”  See also Library cuts passed by council – BookSeller and Libraries cuts plan approved – Lincolnite and County council votes to close Deepings Library – Stamford Mercury. Council ignores 9000 name petition and votes to close library if volunteers do not come forward.
  • Lincolnshire – County Council approves controversial library cuts – Market Rasen Mail. “The proposals will see the implementation of a two tier statutory service, a community-run service, and mobile library service. Market Rasen will be listed as one of five ‘tier two’ libraries and will be open for 25 hours per week – a reduction of three hours from its current opening hours.” … “If a community group takes over the running of Wragby library it will receive a revenue grant of more than £5,000 and a one-off community investment of £15,000.”
  • Lincolnshire – “Democracy is dead”: Lincolnshire library funding cuts criticised – Lincolnshire Echo. “A controversial decision to hand over the majority of Lincolnshire’s libraries to volunteers has attracted widespread criticism.”.  Criticism by UKIP councillors. ““The alternative proposal by Pauline not only kept the libraries open with fully trained librarians, with longer opening hours, they also preserved more and longer stops on the mobile service. “More importantly it saved a quarter of a million pounds more than the administration’s proposal. In the scrutiny meeting, elected councillors were not allowed the opportunity to question LCC’s proposal or to go through the alternative proposal.”.  Lincolnshire’s controlling councillors say their proposals may mean that that they end up with more libraries than originally due to volunteers etc.

“Robin Hunter-Clarke, UKIP councillor, said: “It is unbelievable that nine councillors out of the 77 elected members can decide and make a decision on something so important as our library service throughout our county when the people of Lincolnshire have rejected their proposals. It is disgraceful and things cannot continue like this.”

  • Lincolnshire – Inside the 2nd Dec Scrutiny Meeting: Two Voices – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “The two officers were allowed to present again on the official proposal and in that presentation criticise the alternative proposal. Mrs Palmer had to sit through it muted by the chairmans decision unable to answer the attack on her proposal. She would have been able to demonstrate her proposal did cover all the concerns raised and correct errors and assumptions made if this unfair situation had not been forced on the meeting. I would ask where is the fairness in all this. “.  Lists problems with the decision as it was made.
  • Lincolnshire – #SaveLincsLibraries Twitter Debate on Decision Day – Storify. “A record of tweets sent using the hashtag #SaveLincsLibraries during the council meeting on Dec 3rd, 2013, at which the exec decided to hand over control of up to 30 Lincolnshire libraries to volunteers as well as make well over 100 members of staff redundant.” Very critical of the decision.

“So the consultation was an “exercise” & petitions etc were “engagement” and that’s about as much notice they took of us” … “No Exec member has mentioned that more than 100 dedicated library staff will be sacked under the tory library cuts”

  • Luton – Trevor Holden, Hazel Simmons, Maggie Appleton: Stop the closure of essential community library services in Luton – Change.org. “Luton Borough Council has a responsibility to provide a library service that adequately serves all Luton residents. The closure of Wigmore, Sundon Park and mobile libraries will leave thousands of Luton residents without access to a library.”
  • Manchester – Is the end nigh for Greater Manchester’s libraries? Savage cuts and ailing visitor numbers make for a sad tale – Mancunian Matters. “According to new information obtained through a Freedom of Information Act, libraries in Greater Manchester have felt their fair share of the cuts despite the objections raised by groups including The Library Campaign and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).” … “Laura Swaffield, head of The Library Campaign, said she thinks libraries are holding up pretty well, considering the way they are being ‘blowtorched out of existence nationwide.’ “They still get 4.5million visits a week which compares pretty well with football, for instance,” she said. “All the same, it’s notable that museum visits have gone up. And guess what – there has been a strong government investment programme for several years, called Renaissance in the Regions. “Libraries, by contrast, are left savagely cut by local authority budgets. The government takes no interest in them at all.””
  • Nottingham – Vicky Godfrey: Why libraries are so important to me – Nottingham Post. “Nottingham Contemporary’s learning team has worked with Bulwell and Sneinton libraries to bring our play-and-learn sessions for families to their visitors. We are developing plans to work more closely with adults in the Central Library next year in a project around contemporary art, creativity and vocational experience.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Matt Goold: Libraries are more than just lots of books – Nottingham Post. “Libraries are far from building with books in. They are havens, freelance open universities, temples of knowledge. They are a gift to ourselves, a collective good to ensure that knowledge is democratised. They are the secular cathedrals, thought in cold storage. Yet, every year new, threats roll over the horizon. Services cut, libraries closed, trained staff replaced with volunteers.”