Archive for August, 2016

Lancashire, Labour and Libraries

Editorial

The big news has to be Lancashire, where the council confirmed 29 libraries are to have their funding withdrawn late on the Friday before the bank holiday weekend. Suspicious timing aside, by my calculations, all the pain that this will put communities through accounts for barely one half of one percent of the cuts that the council has to make, while kicking up a maximum stink for the politicians at the same time. It just does not seem worth it, but the council seems intent on pushing through with the unpopular move.

The other big news is that both Labour Party leadership contenders have come up with big proposals for public libraries. Jeremy Corbyn proposes  a new library development agency and the creation of an “open knowledge library” where UK universities and public  won’t have to pay to access the research the government has already funded. Owen Smith, on the other hand, suggests closer collaboration between library services and longer term government funding settlements. This news comes after my last editorial ran saying Labour had been quiet about public libraries, following Chi Onwurah’s revelation she had planned a library campaign but then had to stop it because she wasn’t sure whether it was in her job description.

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A Labour library mess-up and the police in libraries

Editorial

You know where the parliamentary Labour Party has been when it comes to standing up for public libraries over the last year or so? Absolutely nowhere. And now we know why: the minister for libraries, Chi Onwurah, wanted to do something about it – indeed, did do a fair bit of research on it – but confusion as to who was doing what messed up the whole deal. I’ve emailed and tweeted Chi asking for the release of what research she has done as it would be such a shame to see such work going to waste.

Moving police, and traditional police jobs like lost-and-found forms, into libraries has also made the news.  Councils, and police forces, see the co-operation as sensible one to deliver services at reduced costs. Meanwhile, others worry that a police presence in libraries spoils their neutrality and would deter some (no, not criminals, although presumably they won’t be impressed either, I mean some ethnic and religious groups) from using them.  In practice, we’re all seeing such co-locations more and more often as cold financial reality makes bedfellows of more and more services that would once have been separate. There’s also advantages to a library for having, say, PCSO surgeries in the buildings. What’s needed, is a proper consideration of the impact before decisions are made.

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Ideas

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Fewer are Taking Part so let’s have a National Demonstration

Editorial

I’ve just had a very sunny week in Norway hence this is a combined news summary for the period since August 10th. So it’s a big one. The main news is the reduction in library usage – from, roughly, one half to one third of the population – in the last decade. That’s quite a steep decline. Public library popularity have also reduced in other countries of course but from the figures I have seen the reductions in budgets and usage are less, offset by increased visitors for “non-traditional” services and a slower decline in traditional numbers because, well, the stock is still good and the maintenance and furniture budget means they’re still attractive places to go. It’s also not helped, of course, by a rampant misunderstanding of the purposes of public libraries by some free-market extremists in this country – step forward the Adam Smith Institute below – who are positively gleeful at the destruction of something whose value they cannot, or will not, understand.

I’m glad to see that there will be a national libraries (and museums and galleries) demonstration on 5th November, an easy date to remember, to heighten the awareness of what is being lost.

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Since this picture was taken in Lough Library, the boy has persuaded his parents to buy a Labrador puppy.

Leading the way? Reading dogs in public libraries

Editorial

There’s some great initiatives in public libraries around the world but one I always think we don’t see enough of in the UK is that of bringing in dogs to help children with reading.  GLL mentioned that Lincolnshire libraries had a few reading dogs a week or two ago so I asked them for more information. The main story below is from them, followed by other links you may find useful. I’m aware Barnstaple also has reading dogs but does anyone else in the UK? If not, it’s worth asking yourselves if they’re possible – they do wonders getting reluctant readers into libraries, are great publicity and, frankly, the dogs are absolutely gorgeous.

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Lincolnshire libraries and reading dogs

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BFG at Louth Library during the Big Friendly Read

The quietest of times, the busiest of times

Editorial

The Summer counts as the quiet season for library news but the busiest for public libraries on the ground.  Tons of children coming to the desk asking for stickers and staff encouraging them to read more makes this the best time of year, with more events going on now than any other month. This post we have a report from Lincolnshire on what is going on there and I am sure it is being repeated elsewhere.  Do send me your stories about the great things you have done as well.

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The Big Friendly Read in Lincolnshire

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