Archive for July, 2017

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500

Editorial

I’ve been adding up the figures month by month as news comes in and today’s the day. I count 500 libraries in the UK that are now staffed, if not entirely run, by volunteers. Of that number, the great majority are branches which have lost paid staff and the library users have been presented with the choice of volunteering or seeing their library close. Some are entirely new additional libraries. Each one is different, with some largely funded and stocked by councils apart from the staff and others entirely self-sufficient. What all but a handful have in common is that they have come on the scene since 2010. They’re a new phenomenon in many ways and, all the pros and cons aside, show how much people care for their local library service.

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National news

“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether she plans to bring forward a strategy to ensure that all children have access to local library services” Graham Morris MP, Labour, Easington.

“The Libraries Taskforce’s strategy document, Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016 to 2021, sets out a bold and dynamic vision of how library services in England can help transform lives, communities and society as a whole. This includes more people, including children, benefitting from the range of services provided by libraries. Examples of initiatives to encourage increased access by children to libraries include a voluntary scheme introduced by Hampshire County Council that provides parents with the opportunity to sign up their new born babies to their library at the time of registering their birth. The Summer Reading Challenge which promotes reading for children at their local library has resulted in many thousands of children aged 4 – 11 joining a library.” John Glen MP, libraries minister. They Work For You

  • Horrid Henry artist Tony Ross named UK libraries’ most borrowed illustrator – Guardian. “Tony Ross, whose images of the naughty prankster Horrid Henry and the ragamuffin Little Princess are instantly recognisable to children up and down the country, has been named as the most borrowed illustrator from the UK’s public libraries. Ross, who illustrates Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henry books and writes the Little Princess titles, came in ahead of names including Quentin Blake and Lauren Child and The Gruffalo’s Axel Scheffler to top the first ever ranking of illustrators from Public Lending Right (PLR). Ross, who also illustrates David Walliams’s bestselling titles and estimates that he has written or illustrated at least 1,000 books, saw his titles borrowed more than 1m times from the UK’s public libraries over the last year. He described himself as “surprised, proud, and delighted” at the result.”
I know because I've counted them.

I know because I’ve counted them.

During the next year CILIP is undertaking a Big Conversation on Ethics within the UK information and library profession. The conversation started with a breakfast workshop at CILIP’s recent annual conference in Manchester.  It is now a little over 10 years since the existing CILIP Ethical Principles and Code of Professional Practice were drawn up in 2004. Since then there have been big changes  in our profession driven by technological development, changes in information governance and regulation, the growing importance of data and its management, new professional roles and responsibilities and changing user expectations. It is therefore time to look again at the ethics of our profession.

One part of the big conversation is the survey on professional ethics. Although it has only been open for a few days, already we have had over 850 responses. It looks at the place of ethics in the working life of individuals today and explores the issues that information professionals face and whether ethics has a place in helping to address them.  If you have not already done so I do urge you to complete the survey and add your voice to the conversation. We want to reach all parts of the information profession, and so please do forward this email to others in your professional network as well.  You will find the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/KN2MVVH. The closing date for the survey is 18 August 2017. It will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. More information about the CILIP Ethics Review is here.”  CILIP Ethics Review. CILIP have received over 900 responses so far.

  • World Book Day event boosts sales in the UK – Books and Publishing. “In the UK, World Book Day (WBD) titles sales have risen by more than 50% compared to the previous year, with 469,274 copies sold in the week of the event, reports the Bookseller. The national book event took place on 1 March, and evaluation results released this week and reported on by the Bookseller revealed that the official UK top 10 bestsellers for that week were all WBD titles. The week also saw children’s sales grow by 22% to £1.4m (A$2.3m) compared with the preceding week.

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International news

  • Global – Children can borrow books on EasyJet’s ‘Flybraries’ – Malay Mail. “Called “Flybraries,” kids flying EasyJet out of UK airports will be able to borrow one of 7,000 classic reads like Peter Pan, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and The Railway Children across the airline’s fleet of 147 aircraft, for free.  The collection of travel and adventure books was chosen by children’s author and former Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson, who is best known for The Tracy Beaker series and whose 106 children’s books have collectively sold more than 40 million copies in the UK alone.  “Books stimulate a child’s imagination and development,” Wilson said during the launch of the program at London Gatwick Airport. “

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Children at risk: Time to take responsibility – a joint statement – Broken Barnet. “The same committee was responsible for the Mapledown cuts – later reversed, after protests from parents, and a public outcry; and was also the instrument of approval for the devastating programme of cuts to our library service, presented to residents as mere ‘refurbishment’, but which has seen the closure of children’s libraries, and the removal of access for under sixteen year olds from any library operating the newly unstaffed hours”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Bath library site options not ‘viable’ because of disability access problems, campaigners say – Bath Chronicle. “Campaigners opposed to plans for Bath’s library services have accused the council of ignoring experts’ concerns about access for disabled people. Members of Save Bath Library believe neither of two sites proposed by the local authority to house combined library and ‘One Stop Shop’ council services are “viable” in terms of disability access. Bath and North East Somerset Council announced last week that Lewis House and The Podium are the two final options for modern, integrated and “inclusive” library and customer services. But campaigners were “shocked” by surveyors’ assessments of the council-owned building on Manvers Street and the leased premises on Northgate Street in a report released by the council last week.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Council Cabinet Member asked for go-ahead to combine library and One Stop Shop – Bath Echo. “Council has just published its latest proposals to combine Midsomer Norton’s Library and One Stop Shop, with the Cabinet Member for Community Services being asked to give their go-ahead” … “B&NES Council say the combined Library and One Stop Shop in Keynsham has been a ‘huge success’ with a significantly increased footfall and rise in popularity, following similar improvements several years ago”
  • Birmingham – Library of Birmingham to set up partnership with The REP – Birmingham Newsroom. “A report outlining plans for the Library of Birmingham and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP) to develop a commercial partnership is set to be approved by Cabinet next week (Tuesday, 25 July 2017). This arrangement, which is due to come into effect in October 2017, would see two of the city’s leading cultural assets working together to promote creative conferencing and hospitality opportunities.”
  • Birmingham – Library of Birmingham immortalised on a stamp – Birmingham Mail. “It is one of ten landmark buildings selected for the Royal Mail’s Special Stamp set featuring contemporary architecture in the UK, and depict other remarkable structures such as the Blavatnik Building at Tate Modern, the Eden Project and the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool. ““These new stamps celebrate visionary buildings which combine stunning architecture with great engineering.” Said Stamp Strategy Manager at the Royal Mail, Philip Parker. Designed by Francine Houben of Dutch practice Mecanoo, she intended the structure to be a “people’s palace” and believes libraries to be “the most important public buildings.”
  • Bradford – Keighley Library and schools named in Rhyme Challenge awards – Keighley News. “Awards have been presented to libraries, schools and pre-school groups who made exceptional contributions to Bradford Council’s annual Rhyme Challenge. More than 3,500 families successfully completed this year’s challenge in 300 childcare library settings, a 75 per cent increase in uptake. Run by the district’s Libraries and Early Childhood Services, the challenge set children under five and their families the task of learning five rhymes. Ninety-two per cent of parents felt that the challenge had increased their child’s speech and language development, while every member of staff and volunteer felt it was beneficial to the families they worked with.”
  • Bradford – Libraries in Undercliffe, Haworth Road and Menston remain closed after Council withdrew staff to save cash in April – Telegraph and Argus. “The libraries in Menston, St Augustine’s in Undercliffe and Haworth Road in Upper Heaton were among 13 across the district that Bradford Council had hoped to turn into ‘community managed’ facilities from April this year to save money. In Upper Heaton, the existing library building is being sold at auction this week. A Council spokesman said it would “continue to look at alternative locations and to work with the local community” to try to reopen a replacement volunteer-run service.”
  • Brent – Cricklewood Library – SpaceHive. Crowd funder.”We need to fit out 2,000ft squared of raw space to provide a modern multipurpose library, in an area with no other free facility open to all. The library will have room to host workshops, facilities for homework clubs, craft groups, and activities including ESOL, lifelong learning, dance, music, yoga and skills building, as well as a small cafe. This is a rapidly growing corner of Brent, with a widely diverse population. The library will bring people together, build links, reduce social isolation and give people access to learning, develop skills and work opportunities….”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Teamwork as football club joins forces with library – Dunstable Today. “Dunstable Town Football Club has developed links with Dunstable Library to develop and promote educational activities with local schools and the youth section of the club. This will include the Library delivering a half-day workshop for primary school children that will get youngsters researching the social history of the town and the history of the club using artefacts …”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – The Upper Norwood Library Hub is now back open after refurbishments – Guardian series. “The library has been newly renovated with construction to the roof, floors and internal decorations. Spaces are now available for meetings, community events and conferences. Car park spaces can also be hired. Community Hub Director, Emily Jewell, said: “With the support of Lambeth and Croydon Councils, we now have a building fit for the 21st century”
  • Doncaster – Doncaster library plan approved– Designing Libraries. “Doncaster Council approves plans for an eye-catching new building for its library services, incorporating the frontage of the former Girls Grammar School.”
  • Lancashire – East Lancashire library re-opening timetable revealed – Lancashire Telegraph. “re-opening of Lancashire libraries shut or earmarked for closure by the previous Labour county council leadership will start in November. New Tory culture boss Peter Buckley said the phased reinstatement should take until April next year. He told the authority’s Cabinet meeting on Thursday: “A significant amount of activity will be needed to reopen the libraries which were closed. “Building surveys are already underway and the next step will be to produce a detailed timeline.””

Highlight of my library year @MancLibraries @UKSCL @readingagency @publiclibnews @LibTaskforce https://t.co/TWGuJSr0qG

— Neil MacInnes(@macinnes_neil) July 18, 2017

  • Northamptonshire – I’m the Girl I Want To Be – Libraries Taskforce. “The acclaimed 8 session course takes girls aged 11 – 18 years old on a journey through issues of self-esteem, body image, sex and relationships, dreams and aspirations and much more. The course was written and developed by Golddigger Trust, an award winning youth work charity who has been successfully delivering the course with hundreds of young women across the UK since 2006.”
  • North Yorkshire – Bentham library welcomes the community into its new home – Westmorland Gazette. “Bentham became a community-managed library in April as part of a transformation that requires all North Yorkshire libraries to be supported or run by volunteers to maintain and develop the service. It moved into its new home in May thanks to a partnership between health and arts charity Pioneer Projects, volunteer group the Friends of Bentham Library and North Yorkshire County Council’s library service and Stronger Communities team”
  • Redbridge – Celebrations after Wanstead Library reopens – Ilford Recorder. “After a water leak forced Redbridge Council to close the building, in Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, for three months, readers young and old were left devastated. On Saturday, staff celebrated the re-opening with a free family fun day, featuring activities for all including balloon modelling, face painting and craft activities. Councillor Sheila Bain, cabinet member for civic pride, said she was delighted to see the library buzzing with activity again. She said: “We’re delighted to have made these fantastic improvements to Wanstead Library.”
  • South Shields – The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, South Shields Designing Libraries. “The challenge from South Tyneside Council was: ‘Make the internal activities inspiring. Why would I want to come back? Why would my daughter want to come back? Why would my mother want to come back?’, they asked. Given the relationship between the real and the virtual world in which we currently live, these were incredibly interesting and relevant challenges. We felt that a true paradigm shift in the building typology was possible. The Word, and refurbishment of the adjacent historic Market Square, is the first phase of South Tyneside Council’s and development partner, Muse Developments, ambitious £100m South Shields 365 regeneration project. The 365 vision aims to reconnect the seafront, Foreshore, town centre and Riverside areas of the town, encouraging visitors to spend time in the town centre with a mix of new leisure, retail and community facilities.” More info here.
  • Suffolk – Chief executive officer – Suffolk Libraries. “We have shown how it is possible to sustain and improve a service, while saving 33% of the base cost. Our annual budget is currently c.£6m. Our membership structure means we are genuinely owned by the communities we serve, and our governance framework has enabled us to attract experienced professionals to work in voluntary roles alongside the specialists in our exceptionally able workforce (400+ people; 180 FTE).” £65k to £75k depending on experience.
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries chief executive reveals plan to retire in 2018 – East Anglian Daily Times. “The 59-year-old, who has lived and worked in the county for more than 38 years, revealed she would be retiring today – explaining that she has decided to move on to the next chapter of her life. She will be devoting more time to being a family carer – but will not be leaving libraries completely and plans to stay on as a trustee of the national library and information organisation CILIP.”
  • Swindon – Library Services Officer  – Stratton St Margaret Parish Council. “Having recently been successful in our bid to run Upper Stratton Library we’re now looking for an experienced librarian to help us lead and achieve our vision of a great Community Hub. Are you an experienced Librarian?  Are you confident with good interpersonal and organisational skills?  We are looking for an enthusiastic and flexible individual to run the Library, and manage a team of volunteers and staff to support the information needs of the community.  You will be joining us at an exciting time as we take over the library service in the Upper Stratton area from Swindon Borough Council, transforming into a Community Hub, ensuring the right levels of library, learning, IT and community services are in place to support the local community”
  • Walsall – Revamp for Walsall Central Library – Designing Libraries. “The library will offer a cafe, ICT lounge, free wifi, a learning resource centre and a jobs and skills development resource. Councillor Sean Coughlan, the leader of Walsall Council, was reported as saying: “I’m really excited about this project and hope local people are too. The principle behind redesigning the library service is to make it a service that is flexible, sustainable and most importantly, fit for the 21st century.” It is hoped the work on the central library will be completed in the Spring of 2018, when its opening hours are planned to be extended”

The public libraries news divide

Editorial

There’s a strong divide in interpreting news about public libraries. On the one side, we have campaigners who tend to emphasise the negatives (hollowing out and closures) while on the other side we have organisations such as the Task Force who stress the positives. One point of view is angry at the reductions to library service and sees this as the important point to get across to mobilise public opinion. The other fears that such an approach misses out on positives and could give cuts to public libraries a feeling of inevitability. There’s fears I have heard many times  that emphasising the negatives means that people think that public libraries are tainted as doomed. Similarly, campaigners see the devastation going on and are outraged if asked to play it down. It’s hard to see how both sides can agree and, often, they don’t. Which is a shame because they’re actually, in many ways, otherwise mainly on the same side. Such slants can lead to disconnects like the one noted by the Private Eye below where it’s noticed the Task Force (and they’re hardly alone) use euphemisms for cuts.

I try to include both sides, the negative and the positive. I didn’t used to: to my shame, I tended only to include bad news (well, there was such a lot of it) for the first couple of years of PLN.  I did everyone, including myself, a disservice for doing so. In some ways I’m still with the campaigners (for instance, I use the term “cuts” and call volunteer libraries, well, volunteer libraries) but in others I will defend the Taskforce and others if they’re doing good work. I’ve even been known to defend the odd library closure. This can lead to situations where I’m criticised privately (and sometimes not so privately) by both sides for bias, on one memorable occasion for the same editorial. Well, at least I now know what the BBC feels like. What I’m trying to say to all of you is, public libraries should be the most neutral of places but news about them is often biased. Make up your mind based on the verifiable facts and who’s reporting it. As all public librarians should do in their work.

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Breaking news: Carillion loses Hounslow libraries

Hounslow has had a private company running its library services for longer than any council in the UK. Carillion purchased the Hounslow contract from Laing as part of a £65m deal to take over John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) in 2013. Before that, the service was run by JLIS as a trailblazer for private running of libraries since 2008. I looked at the experience of Hounslow in a piece for CILIP Update way back in 2011.

Carillion ran the service as part of its non-profit arm “Cultural Community Solutions” (CCS) which also operates library services for Croydon, Ealing and Harrow. However, some question how non-profit CCS really is…

You will have noticed that I am using the past tense about Carillion and Hounslow.  This is because I have just received, after checking up on rumours , the following message from Hounslow council:

Contract with Carillion for library services

Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Green Policy and Leisure, Hounslow Council said: “The council is ending the contract for library services by mutual agreement with Carillion. Responsibility for the library service will transfer back to the Council on Tuesday 1 August. We believe that by bringing this back in-house, we can further improve what is a very valuable service for our residents and integrate this across our wider leisure and cultural services. Over the next three weeks, the Leisure team will work closely with HR, ICT, FM and Finance to transfer the service in-house. It will be challenging to complete the process quickly, primarily relating to the IT infrastructure, but our ICT team is confident that the necessary systems will be in place by 1 August.Our intention is that the service to the public will not change, and there are no plans to close any of the libraries during the transfer.” Official response from London Borough of Hounslow (received direct via email). Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Green Policy and Leisure, Hounslow Council.

It’s unclear as to what is behind the ending of the contract in such haste. One would normally expect such contracts to end at the same time as the financial year at the end of March. The last definite news in the public realm I noted was news of a new Marylebone Library and a move for Hounslow Library in February. The council has been Labour controlled since 2010.

I am sure the full story will eventually be heard but, for now, this has to weaken the case for privately run companies taking over library services.

More information on Carillion:

 

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The real reasons may not be so black and white

Charities and volunteers replacing public libraries is not so black and white

Editorial

I was interested to read about a charity that is delivering books to children, fulfilling a niche vacated by closing or closed public libraries in that area. The irony of it is that the charity. if I’m reading the figure right, are doing the same job at a far higher cost than the public library was able to achieve before. This ties in with an article in LocalGov that asks if cutting public services is a false economy. Certianly, the research I’ve on the subject concentrating on public libraries seems to conclusively show it is. David McMenemy, speaking at the CILIP conference last week, said that the replacement of paid public servants by volunteers and charities may be seen as a positive plus by politicians and others regardless of the need to do so and that seems to be the case. Well, at least sometimes.

The real reasons may not be so black and white

The real reasons may not be so black and white

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Bursting bubbles: CILIP Conference week

Editorial

I took a couple of days off work in order to be able to attend and speak at the CILIP Conference. The stand-out moment for me was, and was always going to be, listening to the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. A truly inspirational librarian. Then there was the chance to hear about what else was going on in the country (you’d think I’d know all that, but there’s nothing better than hearing the people themselves), a chance to think deep thoughts (on future trends and on the nature of information), actually consider ethics for one of the few times in my life and, of course, meet a whole ton of people who I’d seen on the internet for years but never actually met. And, of course, it was great that the conference was in Manchester, which benefits from some beautiful libraries, and whose ten-year-plus long-term library strategy seems to be paying off. There were a few announcements, such as on ethics and the public library skills strategy that I will doubtless cover separately later.

Outside of the conference bubble, this was the week that Lancashire promised to bring back 14 libraries (albeit with 5 run by community groups). It was also the week that Shropshire announced a long-term plan that will cut its libraries fro a respectable 28 in 2015 to a handful in five years. The Conservative LGA chief also warned that there may be no libraries by 2020, which to me sounds like major scare-mongering and as an opening negotiation position but was still downright gob-smacking to see in print.

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In praise of the People’s Network … and conferences.

Editorial

We take public computers in libraries for granted now. There’s often rows of them and they’re normally one of the busiest places in the library. People use them for all sorts of reasons: social, buying stuff (boarding passes a speciality), job-hunting, everything. And there’s normally a member of staff nearby helping out, working out why something hasn’t printed or patiently explaining how to do something to someone who simply does not have the computer experience to know. It’s one of the key ways that public libraries go some way to helping equality of access to people who would otherwise be barred by ability to pay. So it’s good to see a free e-book launched celebrating the People’s Network, without which libraries and communities would be poorer places than they are today.

That the launch was in the same week as the CILIP Conference in Manchester is not a coincidence and do expect further announcements this week to tie in with that.  I’ll be there both days and will tweet what people say. Well, not while I’m doing my session obviously but I’ll probably share that later anyway. I always find conferences tremendously useful but then I’m in the privileged position of being a speaker at the ones I attend (or these days can blag a press pass) and therefore get in for free. It’s notable that the numbers of those going to them from public libraries is reducing in this country as councils cut back on training.

That’s a long-term false economy but not a surprising one, when one sees the reductions going on. Thoughts this week to the paid staff of the 12 libraries who are either now volunteer or soon will be. I wish the volunteers well but it is a tragedy that such an important public service as libraries is being given to amateurs.

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2nd July 2017

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