Archive for September, 2014

Some great national stuff, some depressing local stuff

Editorial

I, like staff in 200 other libraries in the UK will be giving out Diary of a Wimpy Kid books this Saturday.  Of course, libraries loan these as a matter of course but it’s not often we give them away.  Well done to a partnership including the Reading Agency, Puffin and ITV Good Morning Britain have made this possible, showing the strength of national promotion.  Another couple of national things also caught my eye.  I’ve not had much to do with Digital War Memorial but it looks good and let’s hope it fulfils the promise that the Society of Chief Librarians think it has.  Also, Scotland are developing a national libraries strategy.  It’s surprising they didn’t have one already, frankly, especially as there is a chance they’re going to be independent soon.  It’s going to be odd reporting Scottish libraries in the International section if so.

In terms of local changes, the main hot spots are continued moves by Liverpool to withdraw from, or close, the majority of its libraries; the determination of Lincolnshire to keep staffing levels low and abide by the letter of the judicial review against them and what may be even deeper cuts in Leicestershire than what has already been announced and, finally, cuts on the radar in Harrow.  Whoopee doo. You know, public libraries news can be a little depressing at times but I was given real boost by visiting Manchester Central Library this week.  That is a building that shows how great libraries can be (but, guys, please … bigger children’s libraries!) and I wholeheartedly recommend it to you. My review of the place is on a separate page here.

Changes

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Read On. Get On. Library On.

Editorial

Main news this post is the formation of the “Read On. Get On” coalition of several agencies (including the Reading Agency but sadly no other public library related groups) to help boost literacy in England. Being the country apparently is second only to Romania (ouch) in the EU in terms of unequal reading levels and that such problems may cost us £32 billion by 2025, this sounds important.  Public libraries are mentioned a couple of times in the report and it is hoped that the importance of the sector (dudes, literacy is what we do) will become better recognised.   Things like the Six Book Challenge, which has just announced that it is aiming for 50,000 users next year, should be a key component in all of this.

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An interesting AGM? CILIP may do the double

Editorial

CILIP related things catch my eye today.  There’s three excellent examples of best practice in the Libraries Change Lives Awards, with the emphasis being on partnership with others.  The winner will be announced at the CILIP AGM on 20th September by none other than William Sieghart, whose report and recommendations on public libraries in England is eagerly anticipated. CILIP has done very well in getting these awards together and by getting Mr Sieghart as well.  They’ve also done well recently in  organising the Public Librarian of the Year Awards.

Also AGM related is an article in the BookSeller by CILIP President Barbara Band which is, sadly, still behind a paywall. Barbars has, though, kindly sent me a copy and so I can report slightly on it (but I can’t link to it as I don’t want the BookSeller upset). The article emphasises the advocacy work that the organisation does and the return it gives to its members for their subscription fees. It also looks hopefully to the AGM, wishing it to be different to the one last year that both voted down the rebranding suggestions (remember Information and Library Professionals UK or, as me and others possibly unkindly labelled it, ILPUK?) and also passed a vote of no confidence in Ed Vaizey.

That last may be a problem.  It is clear that many within the leadership of CILIP see that vote as a big mistake, meaning that they have been frozen out of conversations with Government.  The problem is now selling that view to the membership who view the libraries minister as presiding over the destruction of the public library sector by, at best, benign neglect.  That’s a tough sell and, by trying to get back into the good books of Vaizey, the CILIP leadership may be running the risk of being seen by members as ignoring their express will.  This would not do well for the perceived democratic nature of the organisation, especially at the time when that is being scrutinised as never before because of the new governance proposals that would increase the number of non-elected council members. Barbara, though, does make clear that campaigning for libraries is a key part of the organisation and, to me at least, they are indeed doing better in this regard. Whether this will be enough to avoid a re-run of the AGMus Horribilis of 2013 we will know soon enough. More >

Get them all library cards: rural library service report, automatic membership and the Summer Reading Challenge

Editorial

The report “Rural library services in England: exploring recent changes and possible futures” has just become publicly available.  Commissioned by Defra and Arts Council England.  It’s a major bit of research that will be of use not just for those library authorities with countryside but also for others looking at direction for travel, what’s happening elsewhere and best practice, which I guess is what most of you read Public Libraries News for.  The report is especially useful in looking at volunteers and sharing buildings with other services.  There is also a new phrase that I suspect will become common parlance soon: co-locating with other service provide “economies of scope” rather than “economies of scale.”.  That’s a useful way of looking at things. Have  a read of the report if you’re interested in what is happening elsewhere and for ideas.  It’s not going to be easy reading for you if you hate the idea of volunteers or love the old traditional idea of libraries (whatever that was) though … but then I guess not much is at the moment.

Speaking of reports, I’d not seen the Arts Council England report Automatic library membership before: I’ve not read it yet but, to me, it’s a no-brainer.  I always groan inwardly when a parent says “oh, I didn’t realise young Johnny could join the library: he’s only five” or, even worse, those who never join who I don’t meet.  That’s the worst.  And that library card will be a positive reinforcement of libraries, of literacy and the love of reading each time they see it. Get it done.

Finally, thanks again to Jo Norris for some good ideas that many us may find familiar but others won’t.  Ladies and gentleman, it’s Summer Reading Challenge award ceremony season! My authority has been inviting parents and children in to special certificate giving evenings for years and it works well.  Another option is to present them in school assemblies.  Make a big thing of it.  Make those children proud of going to the library.  Make their parents proud of them going to the library.  And get them all library cards.

Changes

Ideas from Jo Norris, runner up to the Library Champion of the Year

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Cutting Cornwall, Lingering Lincolnshire and Horrible Havering

Editorial

More information is coming in at proposed cuts to the Cornish budget.  If calculations are correct, this comes in at 44% of the total libraries budget over two years (2015/17) with the hope being that volunteers and smaller councils take the strain.  There’s also more on Lincolnshire where it is clear that the council is wishing to continue with cutting its library service despite the recent successful legal challenge.  There’s some interesting implications about the suggestion there that the Community Right to Challenge may open up the service to competing bids from private companies and other entities.  Thirdly, it looks like the Havering Libraries twitter account was used to express criticism at the deep cuts proposed for libraries there.  This is the first time I can recall an official account being used this way.

Continuing the mini series from award-winning public librarians, I am pleased to include some great stuff from Jo Norris of Essex on organising events and ideas anyone can try.  Enjoy.

Changes

Cornwall £1.8 million cut proposed over 2 years 2015/17.

Ideas

An interview with Jo Norris, runner up to the Library Champion of the Year, Deputy Library Supervisor at Sible Hedingham Library in Essex Libraries More >