Archive for June, 2018

York crowd-funder yields results to learn from

Editorial

A very interesting experiment has taken in place in York. The library trust there, Explore, launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for its summer reading challenge. At the end of the two month campaigning time, the service had reached its goal and raised very slightly more than its £11,117 target. On the face of it, this shows the success of the campaign and, I am sure, would encourage many others to think about going down the same route next year, even for something as fundamental as the main annual promotional push. However, crowd-funders allow one to look at who is donating unless they specifically ask to be anonymous so we can see where the money came from. Which is what I did:

  • £7350 – the vast bulk was one anonymous donation Friday before Monday deadline. I understand it was not from the council.
  • £2850 – 3 library friends group donations. This money would presumably have gone to the library service in any case for other projects.
  • £315 – 3 York Council employees (inc. £300 from the officer in charge of outsourcing: he clearly believes in what he’s doing).
  • £291 – 23 named donations, of which a quick google search comes up with no York Explore or council connections.
  • £290 – 13 anonymous donations, untraceable.
  • £239 – 8 York Explore employee donations inc. £160 from three very senior posts.
  • £50 – 1 donation from local children’s activity magazine
  • £20 – 1 donation from York bookshop

It’s clear from this that there’s no large number of small donors out there who funded the campaign, with the number of total donations being only 50 in total. Moreover, just 4 donations accounting for 10/11ths and one alone accounting for three quarters. Without that one big donation and, discounting the friends groups funding which would have gone to the library service anyway, the total amount raised would have been £1205, barely one-tenth of the total, with half of that coming from York Explore or council employees. So, the message if one digs deeper, for library services wanting to go down this route is that funding is not guaranteed and will come from a relatively small number of people.

Let’s be clear on this. I’m not attacking York Explore for trying crowdfunding. They’re actually doing well compared with many library services, having closed no libraries and this new library of theirs at Burnholme looks rather nice. No rather I see this as a test to see if there is widespread public support for this sort of funding in the ever harder financial environment that library services find themselves in. With budgets constantly being cut, it was only a matter of time before someone tried this and, in many ways, others will benefit from this experiment if it is learnt from. No, what I want to do is for the right lessons to be learnt. From my analysis, it’s clear that crowdfunding is not an easy answer and will result in small numbers of funders. It’s also rather high risk, which is what was discovered in an earlier experiment in Dundee, where a crowdfunder for £948k for a library expansion raised just £200 from a grand total of four donors. So, if you’re looking for non-traditional funding possibilities for what the public sees as fairly core services, it may be one should look elsewhere.

However, if anyone knows who donated that £7k, do let me now … I have a proposal for funding a news website on public libraries I’d like to talk to them about.

Changes

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Axiell Selflib: Simple, flexible self-issue softwared for any tablet

Dublin’ down: Eire bets the future of libraries on removing fines, staffless technology and investment

Editorial

The Republic of Ireland has come up with a strategy to double library usage. The key headline ways of doing so are by removing fines, upgrading buildings, and by increasing opening hours via staffless technology, with around 5 million euros (£50m equivalent pro rata) investment. This staffless technology is to be used in addition to staffing and, not as is often the case in the UK, part of a budget-cutting programme. Perhaps as interestingly, the scheme shows that Eire has the motivation and the infrastructure to impose such a plan.

Such is not the case in England, and to a lesser extent the other British nations, where the Brexit-obsessed government has done very little for libraries and is happy to neglect them, doing the least it can to ameliorate the effect of its own austerity programme while applauding those communities forced to replace paid staff with volunteers. In the vacuum that this creates, the remaining national bodies with responsibility for libraries, Arts Council England and the newly reminted Libraries Connected (SCL), are highly limited in what they can do with the 151 different English library services and it is up to individual councils as to what happens. Compared to Eire, this looks like not so much a strategy as trying to make do the best one can do without one. Few can doubt which of the two countries has more chance of success.

By the way, my apologies for being so slow in creating this post, almost a fortnight after the last one. I have been in some pain due to what I suspect was a mid-life-crisis inspired jogging injury but the new medication appears to help. Wish me luck for the MR scan tomorrow.

Changes

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Librarues Weej

11th June 2018

Changes by local authority

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The new name and logo for the Society of Chief Librarians.

Goodbye Society of Chief Librarians, Hello Libraries Connected: An interview with Isobel Hunter

I am delighted that the new CEO of the Society of Chief Librarians, Isobel Hunter, agreed to be interviewed. She very kindly opened up questioning to anyone and so the questions below are a mixture of mine and those received on Twitter and via email. The interview is tied in with the announcement that the SCL is now renamed “Libraries Connect“. This is to modernise and also to reflect its new role. Do have a read. The normal news bulletin is below the interview.

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Ever wondered what your chief librarian is thinking?

Editorial

To many of us not in the highest tiers of public  library management, the two day long SCL seminar, held this week in Warwick, maintains only a slight fascination, if we are aware of it at all. But the programme shows as well as anything what things chief librarians are interested in and the trends to watch. This year, also, will see the official launch of the new SCL logo and name, and it’ll be fascinating to see what reaction there is to that. Here are the things I’ve gleaned from the programme;

– The progress of the  Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Fund (LOFIE) programmes are, quite rightly being shared. There seems to be more sharing of the results of innovation than before, generally, in libraries, which is good.

– It looks like the libraries minister Michael Ellis is actually physically turning up. His presence has hardly been noticed in the sector since his appointment, apart from one phoned-in script-reading video message at a volunteer library seminar a month or two ago. I reckon it’s 50:50 if he’ll cancel, though (and not just because his train will probably be late).

– The digital side is being emphasised, although the benefits of reading (not “books”) is featured in some sessions.

– EU libraries are mentioned. The loss of EU membership is going to have an impact on public libraries but, as with everything else about the issue, exactly how is unclear.

– Volunteer (“community managed”) libraries get a session, although considering how big a part of the sector they are now (over 500 branches) this is hardly surprising. Similarly, the same can be said about staffless libraries, whose presence is increasingly being felt.

– Health and wellbeing is big. Very big. Huge.

But, really, do have a read for yourself, especially if you want to get a view for what’s big and trending with chief librarians at the moment.

Changes

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Summer is almost here

Editorial

Good to see the Summer Reading Challenge is expected to go strong this year too. It’s the biggest promotion by far that libraries are involved with and hopefully will continue to be successful. I’d also love for me to be able to say next year that there’s at least another national promotion that can challenge it in terms of scale – because we need national promotions for adults and, above all, for non-users. In the meantime, though, have a read of Philip Pullman.

Changes by local authority

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