Archive for October, 2017

Manchester becomes a UNESCO Creative City of Literature

Editorial

I’m delighted to see Manchester has just been announced as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature.  The city has so many beautiful libraries, historic and modern, capped by my currently most favourite library of all,  Manchester Central Library. It’s a city with a lot of going on, not least a lot of creative writing and reading. I hope the announcement will serve to make it even more so.

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Sunday 29th October 2017

Editorial

Thank you to everyone who responded to me plea for examples of good promotions of non-bestseller author / book events in libraries. One of the key things coming out is the need to it in with something else. A “hook” if you will. Things like food, drink, music and tying in with a special day on the calendar (be it Halloween or the Great British Bake Off) appear to work. As ever, charging splits opinion, with some worried that charging will deter people and others swearing by it for showing the events is high-quality and for making sure people actually turn up when they see they will. But I’d love more examples.  I want this list to be something good. Ooh, and also I only have UK examples so far and I know a lot of you are not from around these part. So email me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk.  Thanks again.

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Ideas

National news

  • Connect Books put up for sale – BookSeller. “The group [Connect Books] aims to find a buyer and sell the business arm, which includes wholesaler Bertrams, Dawson Books academic library supply arm and e-commerce retailer Wordery, within 12 months”. Both the company’s UK and international library businesses suffered ..the firm blamed on “more challenging conditions impacted by the combination of Brexit, which has created inevitable uncertainty in the higher education sector, and volatile exchange rates, and ongoing austerity challenges especially in the public library sector”.
  • Do we need a UK Library User’s Guide to RFID? – Changing Libraries / Mick Fortune. “This guide is different from everything else I have written about RFID over the past 10 years or so. It is much shorter, and is for the individual who wants to write their own app as well as the ordinary citizen who just wants to borrow a book.” … “If there are any additional concerns about public interaction with the library they should be troubling librarians rather than the public. The reason for my saying this concerns recent advances in a technology called NFC (short for Near Field Communication) that have resulted in many smartphones being able to read and write to library tags. As I indicated at the start of this post some members of the public are already using this capability to develop their own apps to interact with library stock. For the moment this appears to be for purely benign reasons.”

“The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport does not seek to duplicate the collection of data that is collected and published by others. The Libraries Taskforce collected and published basic data about the number and locations of each public library in England as at 1 July 2016 and has worked with the libraries sector to define the data proposed for inclusion in a future core dataset for public libraries in England.” John Glen MP  [In actuality, the DCMS have never listed library closures, Taskforce or no, as presumably this would not be politically beneficial to the minister of the time, Labour or Conservative – Ed.]

  • Why I bother with libraries A Medley Of Extemporanea / Dawn Finch. “want a society where people have intelligence and are informed and creative. That matters to me and that’s what libraries (and in particular school libraries) do…”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Australia – The Truth Worth Of Libraries Is Much Greater Than You Think – Huffington Post. “There are plenty of things that young generations feel aggrieved about being saddled with. Climate change and a long-running war in the Middle East are two that leap immediately to mind. But there are other things handed down by previous generations that seem to suggest extraordinary generosity and vision. One is libraries”. What seems like a socialist idea – lending books for free – in fact is a great investment.
  • Global – Librarians Are Secretly the Funniest People Alive – Electric Literature. “did you know that librarians have always been lowkey the most fun people on the planet? Here are seven times that librarians have debunked the stereotype that they are uptight scolds ready to shush those who dare to have fun in their sacred institution.”
  • Global – Open + Libraries: Sharing the Library Key – Medium / Jane Cowell. Cologne: “Budget limitations meant that Mondays could not be staffed and the library team saw the Open Plus model as a way to provide an ‘open library’ with minimum budget impact” … Arhus: ” For the main Central Library in Aarhus the Open Plus hours allow the library to be opened from 7am until 10pm with staff hours 8am until 8pm. A janitor walks the floors for evacuation purposes at night when staff are not in attendance.”

“There is certainly a view in the United Kingdom that Open Plus Libraries are being used to fully replace library staff and staff-less libraries are being implemented using this technology. And this was a concern expressed at one German Library service. However, their experience is that their Council understands and supports the wide variety of work the Library service undertakes with their staff and was excited to see the extensions for their citizens. So questions to ask yourselves are: Does your Council understand that the Library Service does more than check out books? If not then there is some advocacy work to undertake so that the library staff are valued for the impact their work has in the community.”

  • Global – Public Libraries and Developing Countries – Medium / Technology and the New Library. “The Gates Foundation is seeking to make the world’s public libraries assets in communities as centres for information and technology. They advocate for the equality of opportunity, to access online information and skills to interpret the information, for all individuals, especially those in developing nations or poor communities. The Gates Foundation is trying to help public libraries reinvent themselves as online information centres, to help their communities in a drastic way. The foundation began by funding free Internet access in public libraries around the US. They have expanded globally and are supporting access to the Internet worldwide.” 
  • USA – Important Emotional Labor of Librarians Most People Never Think About – Medium / EveryLibrary. “Being a librarian is not an easy job, and it’s not because we occasionally have to clean up vile messes. It’s not easy because, like Steven Assarian explained in his article, “As a Business Librarian, I Help People Find Their Passion,” people sometimes come to us at a crossroads. They’re afraid of making a mistake that may put their lives in turmoil. Heck, sometimes their lives are already in turmoil. Librarians take on that chaos; we have no choice but to face down the power, joy and suffering both, that people bring into our space. That’s the emotional labor of librarianship. It’s not something we often talk about to the public, or even that much to each other. But it’s real, it’s hard, and it’s important.”

Local news by authority

 

Darren Henley, Chief Exec of Arts Council England, Sarah Mears, Essex Libraries and Culture Offer Lead, Mag Astill and Neil MacInnes, President of SCL

Culture officially becomes a public library universal offer

Editorial

Culture has officially joined Learning, Information, Reading, Digital and Health as public library universal offers.  Some more information, a photo and a video from the minister are below. Ever since Arts Council England took over from the MLA back in 2010 as the agency responsible for government grants to libraries, this has probably been on the cards. There’s a ton of shows, ACE funded or otherwise, now playing in libraries and I suspect that is only going to increase with the Society of Chief Librarians becoming a Sector Support Organisation for ACE. The challenge this brings, with there now being six Offers, is for the key messages of why we use libraries to be clear. We’ve always suffered a little from being Jack of All Trades and now, officially, we have another trade. And what a trade. Those shows can be beguiling, and more than a little time-consuming and distracting. But they can also be wonderful. It’s up to SCL to ensure it’s all to the good.

On an entirely different matter, it was great to see a particularly annoying internet troll who decided to take on libraries being rounded upon and shown the error of his ways. More below.

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Places are still available at the NAG conference, 6th to 7th November in Leeds. Public library workers can get in at half price. More information via http://www.nag.org.uk/events/forthcoming-events/2017/10/workshops-and-papers-at-nag17/.

Ideas on promoting author / book events wanted

Editorial

I am looking for examples of promoting author / book events in libraries that are a bit out of the ordinary. Have you seen a successful library event that was due to something clever the library did to sell it? I’ve just come across one event where a book on Greek literature was tried in with a meal from a local Greek restaurant, leading to a sell-out Genius. Another had authors/poets scattered in shops/cafes and people walked between them. The thing you’ve come across need not have been quite so wonderful but I’d be delighted to hear about it. Any little hints or tips would be great. Because the more ways we can get people interested in reading, and libraries, the better.

Give your example via the comments or email me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk. I’ll make sure a report on the best ideas will be made available to all. It may even make a difference to a library near you.

Thank you.

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Northamptonshire’s deep cuts and the end of Voices for the Library

Editorial

Two things stand out for me in the last week and a bit (no, PLN is not going fortnightly – I had the flu). The first is that Northamptonshire is announcing big cuts to libraries. Now, this has all sorts of ramifications. The county was seen as a bit of a golden boy due to its alliance of libraries with health services and also its chief executive, Paul Blantern, was once chair of the Libraries Taskforce. Mr Blantern has resigned this month over the cuts forced on to the council, which amounted to more than £500m between 2010 and 2020. £500m. That figure shows that, in this age of austerity, no council safe from the depth of the cuts forced. It doesn’t matter what the arguments are or how efficient or imaginative your council: cuts of this magnitude are going to get you if yours is one of the councils that the funding formula decides it does not like. Alan Moore, a native of the county and writer of the Watchmen and V for Vendetta, has already shown what a false exonomy this is by threatening to take filming of his new show away from the area.

The second thing is the announcement that Voices for the Library is folding. Set up by a number of volunteer (back before that word raised concern amongst paid library staff) library supporters in 2010, the group aimed to publicise the good things about libraries and provide contacts for the media.  The deep cuts announced from 2010 onwards swiftly turned the group into something else as well: a protest against what was going on. I joined the group in 2011 as its interests (pro-library, publicity and, at that stage, campaigning) very much tied in with mine. I have since left the group as I have reduced by more blatant “campaigner” side but austerity, as Northamptonshire shows, is still very much alive and well. Voices will be missed.

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That's a copy of the Handmaid's Tale in her hand.

Libraries Week 2017

Editorial

It’s good to see Libraries Week in full swing, with quite a few of the articles in today’s post linked to it in some way. I’m sorry to see that it’s not made the national press much more than BookSeller (although it’s a good article apart from chap called Ian Anstice spouting off) but great that so many libraries are taking part. The Week, which is descended in a direct line from Alan Gibbon’s Save Our Libraries Day (this was the PLN coverage of the first day in February 2011 which gained a lot of national coverage, it riding a wave of protest at the time) is now handled largely by CILIP. Having the Fun Palaces events the weekend before has already helped somewhat and the tone of it is defiantly positive, with the main messages being how well attended libraries are. And I almost said “still” are.  And that’s the thing. There’s so much bad news about libraries, not least on this very webpage, that one can get in an entirely negative mood. But that’s not right. There are brilliant libraries out there. The aim of this Week is to boost them and to make sure that stays the same, everywhere. One Week is not enough for that. But it’s a good start.

Being I was off last week (France was nice by the way) and then I got a virus (not so nice) this post represents only up from now to last Friday evening. I aim to catch up a bit more by the next post. Adieu for now.

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Wishing you all a few good days

Editorial

I’m off to France for a week so there won’t be a new post for a few days and Twitter is likely to be quieter too.  Here’s hoping for a quiet week full of good news. Wishing you a good few days.

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