Archive for April, 2018

Labour are making a mess of public libraries

Editorial

It’s local election time in my of the country this week and libraries but will have a part to play. Some will be polling stations and many will have people coming in and asking where the local polling station is or how come they never got a polling card. In addition, libraries will be part of many local manifestos, with politicians making a big thing of keeping libraries open, albeit often with the how of reduced resources or volunteers glossed over.

The interesting thing here, as Alan Wylie notes in an article below, is how badly Labour does in such campaigns, especially when the deep cuts are largely due to the Conservative line of ever-continuing austerity. Labour should be the party for public libraries, as they are for other public services, but so often they are not. In my region, the North West, the Conservatives speak of reopening libraries that Labour closed. And they’re right, they have. They have also, in one authority, got rid of fines. Yes, the Conservatives – who have done more to destroy library budgets in 2010 than anyone else in modern history – see libraries as a vote winner.

On the other hand, Labour’s record is blemished, with dubious London councils rubbing shoulders with colleagues nationwide defending closing libraries or even supporting the Big Society solution of replacing paid staff with volunteers. Labour’s policy on libraries is thus confused and confusing, and they will not be able to make the capital out of this open goal that they should have been able to. And my take from this is that they’re just not very good at campaigning, with the larger picture meaning that we can envision the Conservatives, and the library-destroying austerity that currently goes with them, lasting for yet longer than the next term.

Have a good week folks.

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2 new mobiles in Angus, Capita/Barnet troubles, Quick Reads endangered

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“Down to a t”: the new confusing world of public libraries

Editorial

Things are getting complicated in libraryland. It used to be that councils ran libraries, kept them running – or not – and that was it. Now, all sorts of different organisations run libraries and we’ve had our first case last week of one non-council library organisation (GLL) coming in to keep open three Lincolnshire libraries that another non-council library organisation (now defunct charity “Learning Communities”) no linger could. It used to be that councils funded events or programmes, or not. Now we have a libraries mutual, York Explore, seeking to crowdfund the Summer Reading Challenge, the first such attempt at this I’ve seen. And then we have GLL – that name again – settling a strike with library workers in Bromley, without any council involvement. The reason for all this is, of course, money (or the council’s lack of it), a fact which means that it’s likely Hertfordshire will be going that way soon too. And, confusingly, for us typers, Herefordshire too. Which allows me to make the puny observation that trusts now suit some councils down to a “t”.

And then we have volunteer libraries. Read the post below from the “Community Managed Libraries Conference” to get the state of play there and draw your own conclusions, not least from the recorded speech of the libraries minister (embedded).

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It’s almost local election time … plus libraries and privacy

Editorial

It’s good to see libraries starting being mentioned by political parties in the run-up to the local elections. Also good to see is Aude Charillon going on from strength to strength, this time doing workshops on library privacy. I’d say that definitely all librarians, and frankly probably library assistants too, need to have at least a basic awareness of how to keep private online. People will come into the library and ask for time to time and it’s a bit embarrassing if they’re met by blank stares. And, who knows? It could be something that libraries can actually take a lead on. We’re information-based and in most communities, and there’s a need out there – it’s in the news quite a lot – so it’d be great to see.

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Ideas

National news

  • Librarians and Privacy in the Age of Cambridge Analytica Vable. “ Despite the security breaches, storage of personal messages, and targeted advertising, I have not deleted my Facebook account. As a qualified information professional who should know better, this pertinent tweet said it all: ‘I would like to think that I am privacy literate but I am fully aware that I don’t know what I don’t know. #uksg18″
    On Moaners : An Update – Johanna Bo Anderson’s Blog. On CILIP’s social media policy.
  • Overdrive and Bookseller pair up for libraries focus – BookSeller. “The Bookseller, with sponsor Overdrive and partner The Reading Agency (TRA), is launching a Libraries of the Year focus, to highlight the work libraries do to encourage reading, improve literacy and provide access to books” … ” These will form a basis of a report, to be distributed to 4,000 UK libraries, MPs and advisory bodies, on the value libraries play in their communities. Additionally, The Bookseller will hold a discussion with the 10 libraries, with one of them to be named Library of the Year.”
  • Public urge Arts Council England to prepare for the future – Arts Professional. “Key issues raised by respondents included: Ensuring a sustainable livelihood for artists; Protecting and improving arts education; Preparing for more digital interaction with the public; Protecting the wellbeing of the planet; Focusing more funding on research and development; The impact of Brexit on artistic collaboration.”

Taking a stand for privacy: a series of free workshops for public library staff funded by the Carnegie UK Trust and delivered by Aude Charillon (Newcastle Libraries). “If you work in a UK public library – as a library assistant, librarian, library manager or in any other role – this workshop is for you. The aim of the workshop is for public library staff to be informed citizens when it comes to how the Internet works, how it impacts their online privacy and how to protect it – and for them to in turn take a stand to protect citizens’ privacy in libraries”

The aim of the workshops is for all of us to be informed citizens when it comes to how the Internet works, how it impacts on our online privacy and how to protect it – and for us to in turn take a stand to protect citizens’ privacy in public libraries. We’ll cover such things as: what personal information is shared when an individual accesses a website or uses a mobile app; basic digital privacy tools and practices;steps to take to better protect the online privacy of citizens using library services. Dates and booking details: Taunton Library, Thursday 26 April 9:30-13:00.  To book a place please contact the Taunton Library Glass Box on GlassBox@Somerset.gov.uk; Wales: Brecon Library, Wednesday 9 May 10:00-13:30  Book a place via Eventbrite; London: British Library, Thursday 10 May 9:30-13:00 and 13:30-17:00 Book a place for either the morning or the afternoon via this Eventbrite page. [via email]

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Eire – Book could be closed on library fines Times. “The government is considering scrapping late fees in libraries in an effort to get more people to use them. A spokesman for the taoiseach said yesterday that a memo on the issue was brought by Michael Ring, the rural and community development minister, and there was extensive discussion among ministers about the plans. As part of an effort to remove barriers to the access of libraries, the potential abolition of fines for the late return of books is under consideration as part of a new national strategy.”
  • Global – A Roundup of Fierce Fictional Librarians – BookRiot. “We’re celebrating libraries and their champion guardians this week. Therefore, I’ve rounded up some of the coolest librarians in fiction. They fight crime, they possess knowledge that ranges from useful to impressive, and they look good doing it. Did I include your favorite?”
  • Global – Tell us your story: Libraries’ global storytelling manual – Matt Finch / Mechanical Dolphin. “The International Federation of Library Associations, IFLA, has released a new guide designed to help librarians and library advocates to tell compelling stories about library activities, projects and programmes, showing their impact on communities and people’s lives.” … “”IFLA invites librarians and library advocates from all countries to submit their stories through the LMW SDG Stories platform.””
  • USA – Apparently unfamiliar with “libraries”, GOP Gov. candidate Bill Schuette proposes radical idea of “dedicated reading centers” to solve illiteracy crisis in Michigan – Eclectablog. “Mr. Schuette is, apparently, unfamiliar with the concept of the “library” and the staff position of “librarian”. However, his political party — the Republicans — are quite familiar with these concepts. Or at least they should be; they’ve been defunding them for years.”
  • USA – Thirteen Reasons Why tops most challenged books list, amid rising complaints to US libraries – Guardian. “The libraries association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has also begun to record incidents of hate crimes in libraries. There were 23 reported in 2017, it said, ranging from the scrawling of swastikas on library walls to the destruction of Muslim religious texts. “In two cases, one in a public library parking lot and another within a university library, men made death threats to women wearing hijabs,” said the ALA in its annual State of America’s Libraries report, which has just been released.”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Aberdeen libraries challenge residents to read six minutes every day – Evening Express. “The Six Minute Reading Challenge kicks off on World Book Night – Monday April 23 – and runs until the end of May. The library service is challenging people to take part by reading for a minimum of six minutes every day during that period.”
  • Ceredigion – Gavin & Stacey’s Ruth Jones to mark volunteers’ takeover of library – Cambrian Times. “Saturday, 21 April, when renowned actor and author Ruth Jones cuts the ribbon at Llandysul Library to mark the occasion of volunteers running the library in partnership with Ceredigion Library.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Northwich Library offers a relaxing place to read – Northwich Guardian.The Relax and Read group is intended to be a social, informal group to reduce isolation and anxiety through everyone enjoying good stories and poems collectively. “
  • Cornwall – Camelford Library re-opens as a community hub – Camelford and Delabole Post.Camelford Town Council has moved its offices into the library building, ensuring customers can access more local services in one location. At the same time, the management of the library has been handed over to Camelford Town Council as part of Cornwall Council’s devolution programme.”
  • Croydon – What the Labour party in Croydon is promising in its manifesto ahead of the upcoming local elections – Croydon Advertiser. Libraries number 5 in manifesto. “When asked why libraries ranked so highly in the manifesto, he said:”Libraries are vital community hubs. “They are also facilities where a local budget devolved to residents could be introduced so people can have more say in which facilities are on offer at their library.””
  • Cumbria – Town centre library to close and move into nearby archive centre News and Star. “Whitehaven’s library building is to close and the service moved into the nearby archive centre. The county council has revealed its plans which will see the archive centre shut its doors for a year while refurbishment and building works are carried out ready for the transfer. Once the library has moved into its new home, the Lowther Street building will be sold-off to help fund the revamp of the archive centre with any remaining cash being pumped back into the service.”
  • Darlington – Darlington library’s ‘community asset’ status is lost Northern Echo. “A historic library’s status as an ‘asset of community value’ has expired, representing a fresh blow for campaigners battling to save it from closure Currently the subject of a judicial review, Darlington’s Grade II listed Crown Street Library is earmarked for closure as part of a £12.5m programme of swingeing budget cuts. Unless a legal challenge mounted by campaigners is successful, proposals to cut and change library services will result in the much-loved library and community hub closing its doors forever while the majority of its resources are moved to the nearby Dolphin Centre leisure facility.”
  • Derbyshire – Woodville, Melbourne and Etwall libraries among those which could be taken over by community groups Burton Mail. “Controversial plans to transfer three South Derbyshire libraries to community groups to save £1.6 million have been described as “devastating” by a council’s Labour leader. The Conservative-run Derbyshire County Council is set to launch a consultation into the future of its 45 libraries – including Woodville, Melbourne and Etwall.” see also Controversial library plans challenged by Opposition Groups – Labour Party. “They have produced a draft strategy but are now adding other ideas into the mix that aren’t in the original plans at all. The consultation is now completely flawed. How can the public respond when they don’t know exactly what the plans are?”
  • Herefordshire – Fears voiced over libraries’ futureLedbury Reporter. “Questions from members of the public touched upon concerns raised by the potential outsourcing process and the subsequent accountability, before representatives from individual support groups made presentations. ” … “All were sceptical about the risks involved in services being sub contracted with no strong business case being made to support the idea. ” … “Even the bidders refer to the unlikelihood of them being able to run the service without a subsidy,” said Nina Shields, the deputy chair for the Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL). “
  • Kirklees – Labour pledges £45m ‘cultural quarter’ plan for Huddersfield town centre – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “It’s one of the manifesto pledges for Labour ahead of the May 3 local elections. It is expected to include a cultural quarter for Huddersfield town centre, with investment in the library and art gallery, the Piazza and market hall.”
  • North Yorkshire – County council accused of prioritising officers’ pay over services – Richmondshire Today. “Opposition members of the Conservative-led authority have called for a review of top officers pay, saying it was unacceptable that nine officers are paid more than £100k while residents face rising council tax and key services are reduced.” … “Other members said while frontline staff and services such as libraries had gone since the government’s austerity drive forced the council to cut its budget by 34 per cent over a decade, no senior posts at the authority had been cut back and their pay had remained unchanged.”
  • Northamptonshire – Fight to save Northamptonshire libraries taken to High Court after young girl’s plea – Northampton Chronicle. “Specialist lawyers from Irwin Mitchell – who represent the girl, who is their client, and her family – had previously written to Northamptonshire County Council both before and after its final decision was made at the end of February, urging it not to close the libraries, or potentially face a judicial review in the High Court.”
  • Worcestershire – Library recognises autism awareness – Ludlow Advertiser. “To coincide with the day, Worcestershire libraries are celebrating one year of being “Autism Friendly”. It is almost exactly a year since the County’s Libraries and Learning Service has signed up to the Autism Friendly Library standard.”
Yes we can

Northants gets taken to court over library cuts, twice

Editorial

Northamptonshire Council, already becoming a by-word for mismanagement, with the Government expected to bring in Commissioners to run it, is now facing not one but two legal challenges against cuts to its library services. Such challenges can be very hit and miss but Northants has been such a good example of what not to do that I reckon there’s a good chance. Just to drive the point home, the council is now, apparently in all seriousness, aiming to use libraries as advertising spaces to bring in extra money. Whether there be any space left, what with the protest placards, though, is hard to say. As a counterweight to this desperation, it’s important to remember good things are happening elsewhere. For example, I’ve included a few Designing Libraries stories in this post, as I often do. These show refurbishments and new library buildings (although many are co-locations) and the pictures are often a joy to behold. I advise you to have a quick look at one to wash off the disgust if you read one of the Northants articles.

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15:1 ACE General Council plus something taught in library school

Editorial

Congratulations to Ciara Eastell, chief of the Devon libraries (including Torbay) trust Libraries Unlimited who becomes part of the “General Council” of Arts Council England. No, I had never heard of the General Council either – but here’s some info on it. It looks to me that Ciara is the only representative from public libraries out of the sixteen members so I hope more are appointed from the sector soon.

I mentioned the Bromley library strike last post and was accused of pro GLL bias on Twitter for providing info sent to me by GLL as well as the info in the local newspaper and union webpages. I rather hope that it wasn’t anti-union bias – I was a steward myself (although for Unison, not Unite) for years  – but rather pro-information bias, showing all the info available to me at the time. In the same spirit, I include info from both sides below again. As background to this decision, if it is needed, I see PLN as a place for getting all information on public libraries and so think this is appropriate. It is up to the reader to then make up their own mind on what is going on there but I refuse simply to show one side simply because I may agree with it more.  I’m human and so bias will creep in but it’s not something that I deliberately build in (although the “editorial” and other sections where it’s clearly me speaking on my own behalf will be personal). This dedication to facts was something taught to me, I think, in library school.

And if ever we need a clear picture then it’s now, with so much clearly biased info in other sources. Indeed, I think this is something that is a strength of libraries. If you want the answer that ties in with your pre-conceived view, go to the left or right-wing media source of your choice. If you want the facts, one should always go to a library.

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“A pair of armbands for many in the UK”

Editorial

Derbyshire have announced major cuts, with up to 20 out of 45 libraries, plus two mobiles passed to community groups. The councillor announcing the news managed to keep a straight face on video as he described this as “good news” for Derbyshire, which is impressive. He’ll doubtless go far. There’s also a smattering of other news in the UK, including co-locations and refurbishments. Notably, Cornwall continues its quest to pass a major part of its library service down a tier to town/pass councils. This is apparently working out fairly well, with no apparent problems with worries over double taxation.

There is a also a strike going on in Bromley where library workers are striking for more than the 2% pay increase (really just another in a line of pay cuts to local government stretching back to 2010 as inflation is estimated at around 2.5 to 3%) that is being accepted nationally. The strike is being described by Unite as being against the greed of GLL, which runs Bromley Libraries, although 2% is the standard national rise for councils, and GLL according to its press release agreeing to raise everyone to the London Living Wage level in the library service for the first time.

In other news, we have several interesting articles springing from the NUT conference about the importance of libraries, including the lovely description of them as “a pair of armbands” for many in the UK, helping keep them afloat. Finally, we have more information on what is happening with the Taskforce, with a lot of their staff being transferred to ACE and the DCMS this year. Although there is funding two more years for the Taskforce to go, it looks like it is already winding down, with other bodies taking over staff and workload, with the final details being hammered out over the next year.

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