Editorial

I hope you all had a pleasant bank holiday weekend.  There’s been an interesting variety of new over the last few days, with no stand-out big stories. The Libraries Taskforce are continuing to meet and progress, although at a speed which is unlikely to endear them to campaigners. The importance of parish councils to funding – something I’ve noticed for a while now after having a tip-off from someone – is mentioned in the Guardian, as is the importance of libraries to social cohesion. Abroad, the ineptness of the Trump administration continues to grate, but the responses to it – and to the challenges to libraries in other English-speaking countries – repay careful study. And, by the way, it’s worth noting that the USA spends twice the amount on libraries per capita than the UK. It’s interesting that the uber-capitalist Americans, who can’t even cope with the idea of a proper universal healthcare system, seem to so value their libraries which, by the way, have seen increases in use in recent years.

Changes

National news

  • #CultureIsDigital – DCMS. “So today I am launching our new Culture is Digital project with a conversation between Government and both tech and the cultural world about how we push this natural synergy further. This project builds on our commitment in the Culture White Paper to review the digitisation of our public collections and the enhancement of the online cultural experience. In our recently published Digital Strategy we made commitments to driving digital skills, increasing digital participation and unlocking the power of data….”
  • Government considers intervening in Swindon and Lancashire library closures – BookSeller.
  • I ordered 50 tiny tambourines. And then I wept – Guardian. “To cut a long story shortish: my local library, which has been run by a children’s charity since the council removed its funding in 2012, has a weekly singing group for babies and toddlers. It’s a fantastic way to get parents, carers and children out socialising (and socialising together): toddlers that can sing, toddlers that can’t sing, toddlers from big houses, toddlers from council estates, toddlers from the temporary homeless accommodation in the next street, toddlers from the secret underground oligarchs’ lairs that must be round here somewhere… all of them clapping, dancing, speculating confidently as to the stock on Old MacDonald’s farm, then staying on to look at books and catch the reading bug. It’s truly a vision of how you would want society to be.”
  • Minutes of the thirteenth meeting of the Libraries Taskforce – Libraries Taskforce. “The Taskforce received a presentation from Ayub Khan, who outlined the work that had already been undertaken by SCL to develop the Digital Universal Offer” … “Brian Ashley updated the Taskforce on work to take forward the Single Library Digital Presence (SLDP)” … “There was a view that the sector would benefit from support and challenge to develop more visionary thinking about future digital developments and the opportunities they could provide” … “Libraries Taskforce to publicly back and promote the ‘light touch business offer’ once commissioned, and to reconvene the discussion if current funding opportunities fail to ensure it can proceed. ” … “a brief presentation on the preliminary findings of the work commissioned by the Taskforce and DCMS in December 2016 to explore the service effectiveness and sustainability of community-managed libraries.”. An online survey to be sent to all volunteer libraries and then nine case studies, one for each region. Work on “what should be included in the core dataset for libraries.”. …. “The Taskforce noted that DCMS was considering formal complaints under the 1964 Act that Lancashire, Lambeth and Southampton may be failing to meet their statutory libraries duties”. DCMS “supporting certain authorities to consider whether alternative delivery models might be a potential route to help maintain and sustain local library service provision.”
  • More young people are using libraries, Carnegie study finds – Big Issue. “The Big Issue’s campaign to keep libraries open and champion greater literacy galvanised support from readers, authors, publishers and reading organisations.”
  • Parish councils: an unlikely urban safety net – Guardian. “Parish councils aren’t just for villages, and are nothing to do with churches. And with enough public support, new ones can be set up where they don’t already exist. Whereas larger authorities must hold a referendum if they want to increase council tax by more than 3.99%, parish and town councils do not, giving them considerable autonomy in raising money. So for communities wishing to protect spending on parks, youth centres and libraries, parish councils can be a safety net.”

International news

  • Australia – Interesting research of relevance to public libraries…Public Libraries Connect. “Whilst the NMC Horizon Report > 2017 Library edition is primarily aimed at academic and research libraries, it does apply to public library future planning agendas.  It focuses on technology developments and their expected impact on libraries and is informed through a collaborative process with 77 global library thinkers. The report identifies key trends, key challenges and important technology developments that are divided into varying timeframes” … “we must value users’ time” …”spaces that support working, learning and teaching”
  • Canada – Western librarians publish first-ever online privacy guide by a Canadian university library – Western Gazette. “The guide lists privacy protection tools such as Internet browser alternatives, browser extensions, search engine alternatives, private messaging apps and password managers. Included is also more information on privacy policies and legislation implemented by Western and the Canadian government.”

  • Global – What Part Do Libraries Play in the Future of Learning? – Techedvocate. Academic libraries move to tech. Question continued existence of printed books. Move to collaborative study and maker spaces”
  • New Zealand – Library LifeLianza. Includes articles on “Grumpy bunheads and other perceptions of librarians”, radical gardening, “Library Island is a simple simulation of librarianship at the national level. In an open-ended, rules-light roleplay, players take on the persona of a librarian, a community representative, or an official from the ‘Ministry of Shelves’ which funds and audits the library service nationally”,
  • USA – Chicago libraries expand technology program for city youth – Miami Herald. “Officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Library Commissioner Brian Bannon announced earlier this month that the YOUmedia program will get boost of more than $1 million over three years. City officials say the privately-raised money is coming from corporate donors. Currently, the program operates digital labs for youth in one dozen libraries. The city will now add five more locations by 2018.”
  • USA – For You To Borrow, Some Libraries Have To Go Begging – NPR. “In Vermont, each library needs to individually support themselves,” says Jessamyn West, a public librarian in the state. “Either through endowments, which is kind of a funny joke for most tiny rural libraries, or through [the] taxation process and the town meeting process or whatever.” West explains that more than two dozen public libraries in Vermont still lack wireless internet. That’s partly because Vermont public libraries don’t receive any direct support from the state. Instead, once a year the town librarian has to go to a town meeting and make a case for funding for next year. “It’s sort of part of the job.” West says.” … “Kansas librarians are also working on a cutting-edge one-state, one-card system — all this in spite of the fact that Kansas public libraries have lost about 50 percent of their state funding over the past 10 years. That’s a steep number, but it’s one that might not seem so bad to a librarian in Texas. “In 2011, 64 percent of the state library’s budget was cut,” says Linda Stevens, who works at a public library outside Houston. “It doesn’t seem fair, does it?”. Summer reading programmes for children will be stopped in Texas due to Trump.
  • USA – Four Books on Why Libraries Matter Now – Publishers Weekly. “A boomlet of spring art and photography books about libraries coincides, serendipitously, with National Library Week (April 9–15). But it may have something to do, too, with widespread anxieties about the state of the American experiment.”

“libraries have never been more urgently needed. Knitting together communities, offering safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, providing Internet connections for those who can’t afford them, and, not least, offering a world of knowledge at no charge, they’re one of the last truly free things in the land of the free.”

  • USA – Ivanka Trump’s Tweet About Libraries Somehow Managed to Stir Backlash – Attn. “As @Miss_Librarian points out in her tweet, President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget eliminates federal funding to the Institute of Museum and Library Services” … “, it’s also important to know that IMLS gives local libraries money.” see also Trump budget devalues libraries – The Hill.
  • USA – Leading on Literacy: It’s a Promise Worth Keeping – Library Journal / Editorial. “The word literacy is undergoing a transformation, with multiple literacies emergent, including those relating to information, civic engagement, multiculturalism, finance, and health—and, of course, reading readiness at the core. Let’s not forget news literacy, as the fake news crisis has made apparent. Libraries are doing so much exciting work to address illiteracies in their communities, and that work is more important than ever” … “Our institutions, said Los Angeles City Librarian John Szabo, are uniquely positioned for success in this area. In any of today’s critical multiple literacies, he said, you could “replace the word literacy with equity” and it would still be on mission for the library. “It’s a core value in our profession, and we should go out and own it.””
  • USA – Libraries in a Time of Crisis: Remaking the Social Compact – Info Today. “But libraries are custodians of the very fabric of society, because they nurture discovery, self-worth, and belief in possibility, and they share the tools to make social goods manifest. ” … “model of inclusivity is already under great stress, not least because civil liberties are themselves being tested as never before, not even after 9/11. The question isn’t so much about one’s political belief system—there are folks in Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of remarkably different political stripes—as it is about the notion of one’s own dedication to service. The social history of all of this is complex, but there’s little doubt that the commodification of the relationship between citizen and government isn’t entirely unrelated to what financial journalist Justin Fox terms “the myth of the rational market.” “

“Libraries are indeed the last commons”

  • USA – Lost Art of Library Card Catalogues – Hyperallergic.
  • USA – Our Favorite Fictional Librarians, Ranked – NYPL. “Pop culture isn’t always kind to librarians. So, in honor of National Library Week, we thought we’d pick half a dozen of our favorite library workers — good and evil and in between — and give them some fictional performance evaluations, complete with numerical rankings.”. Includes Night Vale, Harry Potter and Buffy.
  • USA – Why libraries could soon need a national endowment – Christian Science Monitor. ” National library expenses rose from just over $10 billion in 2002 to $11.3 billion in 2014, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). [That’s £9 billion, double what the UK spends per capita – Ed.] Article suggests philanthropy may replace tax funding [In effect, voluntary taxation replacing involuntary – Ed.].

Local news by authority

  • Barking and Dagenham – Pen to Print: Real People, Real, Stories – Libraries Taskforce. “The aim of the project was to harness local creative writing talent and to get their work published. Latent talent had become evident to us when we held a small writing competition during one of our annual Reading Festivals, now known as ReadFest. Pen to Print takes place over the course of a year and features free Creative Writing classes, author visits, and several writing competitions plus the three week ReadFest. We have been very fortunate to have the support of bestselling author Martina Cole as the project’s Patron.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Library consultation results published – Journal.
  • Blackburn with Darwen – More volunteers running Darwen Library as part of council savings – Lancashire Telegraph. Darwen: “The library is now being run by two members of staff and 14 volunteers, with five more set to join shortly. The new model was brought in to minimise the reductions in hours, which came in this year, but to help ensure the library’s future. It was decided the library did need staffing but volunteers and the friends group could contribute more.”
  • Brent – Brent Libraries Visits and Loans Up Yet Again – James Powney’s Blog. “The annual figures for Brent libraries visits and loans are up yet again.  Visits went up by 1.3% on the previous year and loans increased by 0.5%, so a more modest increase than in previous years.  Here is a graph showing visits since the decision to pursue the Libraries Transformation Project in 2011.  “
  • Brighton and Hove – Electric fault forces library to close – Argus. “Hangleton Library has closed due to a major electrical fault and council officials remain unsure when the building will be reopen. The library in West Way, Hove, was first closed on Tuesday because of the fault but officials were hopeful of a quick solution. However, the problem has now been found to be more severe. It is expected to remain closed for the rest of the week with all libraries in the city closing for the majority of Easter.”
  • Bury – Fears about future of B:easties youth club as Topping Fold Library faces closure – Bolton News. “As a result of council budget cuts Topping Fold Community Library is earmarked for closure along with up to 10 others. Bury Council is running a library review, where residents are being consulted on whether they would prefer to retain Bury, Ramsbottom and Prestwich Libraries plus a service wide team or these three and Radcliffe library with a smaller service team. Bury Council was approached for comment but did not respond in time.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Build Community – Storyhouse. “Our mission is to fill Storyhouse with activities run by the community for the community! Storyhouse has the space in Chester city centre, and you or your organisation have a passion and the skills/expertise. The Storyhouse community programme is an opportunity for you to share these with others, and build community. If you’d like to run free or low cost public activities (workshops/clubs/groups/classes/etc.) read on to find out about the spaces available in Storyhouse and how to get in touch.” see also Storyhouse in Chester invites community groups to use the space – Chester Chronicle.Storyhouse is the largest public building ever in Chester, with more than 7,500 square metres of public space, across four floors. It accommodates a library, cinema, theatres, restaurant and bars plus a series of accessible rooms complete with a range of resources.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Funding options on table for Chester’s £300m Northgate Development – Chester Chronicle. “CWaC are currently landowners of 85% of the Northgate footprint. Phase 0 incorporates the current library, which will be moving into Storyhouse, to create two new restaurants”
  • Devon – Donation to help Exmouth library – Exmouth Journal. Three masonic lodges have given total of £750 to improve children’s library.
  • Fife – Library set to re-open doors – Fife Today. “Burntisland Library & Museum is set to re-open to the public next week following the successful completion of essential repairs and maintenance work. Fife Cultural Trust confirmed it will be “business as usual” from 9.30am on Tuesday, April 25 when service users will once again have full access to the facility.”
  • Haringey – Jacksons Lane Arts Centre approaches Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG) and Haringey Council to discuss relocating to Highgate L – Enfield Independent. “Jacksons Lane Arts Centre has approached the Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG) and Haringey Council to discuss the possible relocation of Highgate Library into the Arts Centre. The move to the corner of Archway Road and Jackson Lane would mean new and upgraded library services, whilst allowing library users the access to community activities and facilities. The existing library, a two minute walk away from Shepherd’s Hill, could be sold and the money put towards the new library and improvements to Jacksons Lane.” see also Arts Centre could be new home for Haringey library – Enfield Gazette and Advertiser.It’s a proposal being given serious thought by Haringey Council as well as Highgate Library Action Group, who have actively campaigned to secure the library’s future 
  • Herefordshire – Manifesto – Libraries for Life. “Public libraries – like the NHS – are a vital service backed by Act of Parliament. Wherever you live in the UK your local authority is bound by law to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service. Public libraries are an asset and investment. They are a lifeline at the heart of our communities – the safe place where people of all ages find information and advice, learning and leisure, companionship and activity, peace and reflection. They are a gateway to local services. They help job seekers find work. They support businesses, visitors, and those seeking help. Since 2005, Herefordshire Council has slashed library opening hours by almost 40%. That’s not all. In 2013, councillors seriously considered scrapping all libraries in the county except for Hereford library…”
  • Highlands – Huge cuts but ‘stable’ year for High Life Highland? – Northern Times. “The charity, which provides leisure and culture facilities on behalf of Highland Council, must find savings totalling £900,000 due to local authority cuts and wage increases, but chief executive Ian Murray has insisted passing the cost to customers will be a last resort. When the council’s budget was finalised in February it was decided to cut the money given to High Life Highland by £112,000. This, combined with additional costs such as wage and pension increases, higher VAT and a new apprentice levy, saw the gap soar to £900,000. The leisure company has now cut management, library and business support jobs and one community language assistant, although some of these were already vacant.”
  • Kirklees – Birkby library could close – to solve a different problem – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Rumours have been spreading that Birkby and Fartown Library is closing forever at the end of the month. Almondbury Tory councillor, Bernard McGuin, tweeted on Tuesday: “Are you interested in the fact that Birkby Library is closing on April 30th. Why can they do this without a discussion?” … “Clr Graham Turner, cabinet member in charge of cutting another £1.9m from the libraries budget, said it was a case of re-shuffling in a bid to solve another problem. He explained: “Birkby library is in the school and we’ve got a huge shortage of spaces for children in that area.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Council explores new site for Lambeth Archives to help ‘maximise income generation’ at the Minet Library – Brixton Buzz. “Lambeth Council has started an ‘options appraisal’ over the future of the Lambeth Archives at the Minet Library. The Council closed the Minet along Knatchbull Road in March 2016. The Archives remain open. The ambition of the Labour administration has been to turn the Minet and Carnegie Libraries into book-ish gyms. The plan is to hand them over to Greenwich Leisure Limited.”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire library closure probe is on the political cards – Lancashire Telegraph. “The revelation culture secretary Karen Bradley is ‘minded’ to order a probe into its legality on Tuesday, less than four weeks before elections, has sparked a bitter political row. County Hall’s Labour boss Cllr Jennifer Mein accused the Conservatives of ‘a transparent political stunt’. See also Eleventh-hour reprieve for libraries? – Burnley Express.
  • Lancashire – Major boost for plan to save Whalley Library – Lancashire Telegraph. “The Lancaster Foundation submitted a bid to purchase the building in Whalley with the aim of giving it back to the community. The organisation is working with the Save Whalley Library Action Group on the project with the aim of leasing it back to the community for a peppercorn rent” … “The action group is asking anyone with experience in running community interest ventures, including those with specialist knowledge of running libraries, who can help put together a self-sustaining business plan to come forward. ” see also It isn’t over yet for Whalley library– 2BR.
  • Lancashire – MP warns county over wasteful library closures as inquiry looms – Blackpool Gazette. “Lancashire County Council would be at risk of throwing away thousands of pounds of taxpayers should a public inquiry into library closures go ahead, an MP has warned. Ben Wallace, MP for Wyre and Preston North, was one of the leading figures in calling for a public inquiry into the closures which were confirmed last autumn.”
  • Lancashire – Warning over library bid ‘chaos’ – Blackpool Gazette. ” leading figure in the battle to re-open two Fylde coast libraries has branded Lancashire County Council’s bidding process as ‘chaos’. Decisions were promised on Thornton and Cleveleys library by the end of March. But there seems no end in sight to the ‘frustrating’ process which has been slammed by Coun Andrea Kay.” … ““We have two good bids but nothing seems to be happening. They said March but we are still waiting. First they said they couldn’t find the Thornton bid, now they are asking more questions to which it is going to take time to provide answers. It has taken months to get to this point and there is no support for the bidders”
  • Leeds – Free wi-fi switched off at Leeds community buildings to ward off troublesome teens – Yorkshire Evening Post. Include libraries. “Leeds City Council is switching off free wi-fi at some of its community buildings in the evenings after complaints about teenagers loitering outside to log on – but ending up harassing locals and causing anti-social behaviour. The authority says police have advised the drastic measure – which applies after 7pm when the buildings are closed – at a number of the city’s community hubs after reports of staff and customers being subjected to abuse and threatening language.” … “the council needs to be careful that it does not end up compromising its digital agenda and its aim to address the digital divide that exists in Leeds, with some more disadvantaged communities not able to access Wi-Fi at home.”
  • Lewisham – Shocking Book Lending Stats for Lewisham Libraries – Save Lewisham Libraries. “2009/10 figures are important in that they show the library stats before any of Lewisham libraries were handed over to voluntary organisations and businesses to run.
    These statistics demonstrate very clearly that volunteers cannot deliver the same professional, proactive and knowledgeable service as trained library professionals to library users, resulting in this dramatic drop in book issues.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Anti-social behaviour at Grimsby and Immingham Libraries ‘will not be tolerated’ – Grimsby Telegraph. “firm warning from a group of the borough’s councillors to gangs of between 15 and 20 young people, who are said to be regularly blighting the libraries in Grimsby and Immingham with anti-social behaviour in the evenings.”. Security staff employed. Police working on solutions.
  • North Somerset – Library will be closed for 12 weeks for refurbishment and children’s centre moving in – Mercury. “Yatton Moor Children’s Centre will move into Yatton Library, in High Street. The work is being done by North Somerset Council as part of its community access review, which aimed to save £500,000 by 2019. The refurbishment will include making the upper floor more accessible, and creating new office and meeting spaces. Improvements will also be made to the lift and new outdoor and indoor play areas will be created. The library will close on April 29, and has a provisional opening date of August 14.”
  • North Yorkshire – Norton library reopens as a community hub – Gazette & Herald. “The facility in Norton, which was threatened with closure following financial cuts by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), has been renamed Norton Hive – Library and Community Hub. It will now be run entirely by volunteers with extended hours and additional facilities”
  • Reading – Battle Library to be extended as part of £2m community hubs project – Get Reading. “Children, young people and families will be able to meet, get help and advice and borrow books at three new community hubs in West Reading, Southcote and Whitley. Council bosses approved a £2 million plan which will see two libraries moved into revamped community centres with another library getting a major extension.”
  • Reading – Cost-cutting hits Reading libraries – Get Reading. “Self-service kiosks are now in use in all seven libraries and revised opening times began at the start of April. The self-service kiosks, reduced opening times and re-negotiation with stockists means the borough has shaved £280,000 of the library budget for 2017/18 without closing any branches
  • Reading – Reading Borough Council intends to revive three key community hubs, while Southcote and Whitley services will be streamlined – Reading Chronicle. “Improvements to Battle Library, Southcote Community Centre and South Reading Youth and Community Centre (SRYCC) will total £1.8m, with a contingency spend of £200k. Upgrades will be funded by partly by the disposal of Southcote and Whitley Library, as well as grant funding and a developer contribution.” … “Battle Library will operate at reduced hours, while services in Southcote and Whitley will be relocated across the three community hubs. “
  • South Lanarkshire – Our people: East Kilbride librarian looks back on her career in a job she loves – Daily Record.
  • Southend on Sea – Westcliff Library Open Again – Leigh Times. “The library, which has been closed since January, is pleased to welcome customers again with a new layout, and a new “customer-friendly” arrangement to the books. The interior has also been fully redecorated, with new flooring, signage, and energy-efficient lighting. There is also a brand new meeting room, available to hire later in the year, which will suit local businesses and community groups.”
  • Walsall – Rushall library in Walsall to be saved with late community bid? – Walsall Advertiser. “Rushall-Shelfield councillor Richard Worrall announced that a bid was submitted to the council for Rushall library yesterday (Wednesday, April 12), the deadline day for any bids. He said: “A lot of hard work involving registered charities, numerous discussions with possible community partners in the Rushall area, and three meetings involving all potential community partners, has gone on behind the scenes, to the point where we think we have a credible expression of interest.”
  • Wokingham – Wokingham Library move: Council wants to hear your views – Wokingham Today. “town centre library is set to move to new, smaller premises in Carnival Pool after Executive approved an in principle decision when they met last month – but there is growing anger over the way in which the plans were introduced. ” … “Under the plans, which will be opened to public consultation later this month, the Denmark Street home to the bookworm’s paradise will be replaced with a new single-storey state-of-the-art facility that will open no earlier than 2021″