Ian Anstice

Public librarian since 1994, user of public libraries since my first memories ... and a keen advocate of public libraries and chronicler of the UK public libraries scene. Library manager since 1998, winner of Information Professional of the Year 2011 and Winsford Customer Service "Oscar" 2012 and 2014.

Homepage: http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com


Posts by Ian Anstice

News for 28th-29th January

Changes

Ideas

National news

  • ‘Escalating’ care costs will mean cuts to libraries, museums and road management services, warn councils – ITV. “Councils will have to cut money from services such as libraries, museums and fixing potholes because of the “escalating” cost of caring for the elderly, a new report warns. The Local Government Association (LGA) said £1.1 billion would be needed to be diverted from other areas in 2015/16 to meet the rising cost and demand for adult social care.”
  • General Election 2015: What are the plans for digital? - CILIP. A look at each of the main party’s views on digital – as a sign of changing times, this includes the Greens and UKIP too.
  • Lee Child dominates library borrowing again in 2014, with loan levels up on 2013 – Nielsen. “Looking at the library market in 2014, the most borrowed title for the year was once again by Lee Child: Never Go Back another Jack Reacher adventure with 26,359 loans between 29 Dec 2013 and 27 Dec 2014. The Crime, Thriller & Adventure (CTA) genre dominated the top titles and the first non CTA title was at number 7, Be careful what you wish for by Jeffry Archer with 16,841 loans. The graph below shows how library loan levels vary throughout the year and how 2014 compares to 2013. In general 2014 loans were ahead of the year before, apart from in Period 11 (4 weeks ending 1 November 2014) and Period 12 (4 weeks ending 29 November 2014) demonstrating the popularity of library lending in 2014.”
  • Libraries newsletter - BBC.  A list of BBC campaigns and promotions of interest to public librarians.
  • Rallying call from John Lydon ahead of National Libraries Day – CILIP. “In a specially recorded message singer, songwriter and musician John Lydon, also known as Johnny Rotten, implores the UK to value its libraries and urges everyone to show their support on National Libraries Day, Saturday 7 February.  Crediting libraries and librarians for his recovery from memory loss after contracting meningitis as an eight year old, the audio message was recorded to mark the annual national celebration of libraries and library staff and follows the recent publication of Lydon’s autobiography, Anger is an Energy.  The recording will be available to listen to on Saturday 7 February via the National Libraries Day website.” The full 54 second audio clip will be published on the National Libraries Day website on Saturday 7 February.

Saturday 7 February is National Libraries Day. Be there. Libraries are the most important essential part of our culture and civilisation…” John Lydon

  • SCL ASCEL Response to Prevent duty guidance: A consultation - SCL/ASCEL.
  • Visiting Libraries – Writers and Artists. “My publisher and I gain as we get to promote the book (they pay the travel expenses which, hopefully, they will earn back); the library gains because local school children are reminded that the library is a great place to go, even if they’re not interested in books (just yet); the schools gain as the children are engaged in an inactive session about books and stories, (and teachers and TAs get a mid-morning break). Everyone is set to gain. However, a visit to the library for a children’s author event should not be about selling the book directly. Some families can’t afford five pounds, when actually the book can be read for free – lest we forget.”

“It’s fine to tweet about the dreadful cutbacks and threatened closures, or write “Love Letters to Libraries”, but authors can go a step further: they can be physically present to help turn the much needed footfall into a steady march – they can help give councils, all over the land, less and less reason to close libraries. “

International news

  • From nurses to social workers, see how public libraries are serving the homeless – PBS (USA). “Public Libraries have become more than just a makeshift day shelter for the homeless, they are actively reaching out to them to provide services. Below are some examples of what libraries across the nation are doing … Twice a year CTC staff head out to an area women’s shelter to show residents how they can use a computer to search for a job and to sign them up for a library card … Twice a month here homeless patrons and staff members get together for “Coffee and Conversation.”

“community means more than “just the people who look and act like you.” Jasmine Africawala

UK local news by authority

  • East Sussex – Date set for new library opening in Newhaven – Sussex Express. “Newhaven’s new library is set to open its doors to the public in March, East Sussex County Council has announced.  The new facility, which occupies the ground floor of the former M&Co premises at 36 High Street, will open to the public on March 14. The new facility, being created with £1.6 million investment from East Sussex County Council, is currently being fitted out with IT systems, shelving and other bespoke furniture. The old library, also in High Street, will close on February 21, to allow staff to pack up and move to their new home nearby.”
  • Gwynedd – Singer Bryn Fon joins campaign to save Gwynedd libraries from closure - Daily Post. “C’Mon Midffild star Bryn Fôn has urged cash-strapped Gwynedd council “not to steal libraries” in the county. Llanllyfni born entertainer, who also sang hits such as Rebel Wicend and Ceidwad y Goleudy, made the comments following a protest in Penygroes last Thursday.”

“Every civilised society needs a library. Do not steal ours.”

  • Leicestershire – Groups express interest in running libraries – Loughborough Echo. Volunteer groups “have registered an interest in running 29 of Leicestershire County Council’s 36 libraries – which were at threat of closure if volunteers were not found. Leicestershire County Council says it will continue to look at how it can encourage the remaining seven.”
  • Leicestershire – Measham library still at risk of closure - Burton Mail. “Measham library is still at risk of closure after it did not appear on a list of 29 libraries where communities had offered to run their local service.”
  • Lincolnshire – County Council is a “disgrace” says Mair – Horncastle News. “Hopes Coningsby and Tattershall Library could be run by volunteers appear to have fallen through as local town and parish council councils aren’t prepared to offer funding. Both councils are concerned about the burden on taxpayers and there are doubts about the future of the current library building at the Barnes Wallis Academy. UKIP’s Colin Mair, who represents Tattershall Castle ward at County Hall, said: “The behaviour of the County Council has been a disgrace.”
  • Lincolnshire – Fiasco has so far cost the public £250k – Spalding Today. “a second judicial review could be in the offing with the county council’s ruling executive expected to rubber stamp controversial changes to Lincolnshire’s library service. Deeping St James Labour county councillor Phil Dilks, who has fought hard to keep Market Deeping Library in council control, said he “hopes against hope” that council taxpayers aren’t left picking up the bill for further legal action. “So far it’s cost over a quarter of a million pounds, this exercise,” he said. “It’s time the council listened.””
  • Lincolnshire – Phil Dilks: “Truth finally exposed on The Great Tory Library Betrayal” – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Column for Lincolnshire Echo From Phil Dilks, Labour’s Shadow Executive Member for Libraries at Lincolnshire County Council” … “It turns out the Tories had been plotting to close libraries since 2007. They’d given officers ‘a strong political steer’ and saw handing libraries to volunteers as their vision of Cameron’s ‘Big Society’. The report tells us that in 2012, the Conservative group of councillors were given a briefing on the vision. But concerns around ‘the need for careful timing’ led to a deliberate decision to delay public consultation until after the May 2013 elections.” see also Correspondence from Campaigner Maurice Nauta To David Cameron PM - Save Lincolnshire Libraries and Library Scrutiny Meeting – Record of Votes & Opinions - Save Lincolnshire Libraries.
  • Northamptonshire – New cancer service in Northamptonshire libraries will help teens be themselves - Northampton Chronicle. “The C Word, run by Macmillan Cancer Support, will offer activities from 36 libraries and aims to let 13 to 24-year-olds with a friend, parent, brother or sister with the disease -or who have it themself – to be themselves. They will be offered a range of free activities from film-making to occupational therapy, with people on hand to answer any question they may have about cancer. Part of the reason for the need is that NHS cancer care is firmly split into adult and child care, with nothing in between.”
  • North Yorkshire – Appeal for volunteers in bid to save Ryedale’s libraries – Gazette Herald. ““The county council has estimated that Pickering library will need about 50 volunteers, along with library staff. “We think it would be extremely difficult to recruit even more volunteers considering we are a much smaller town than Pickering.”
  • North Yorkshire – South Craven councillors rally around Cross Hills Library – Craven Herald. “South Craven county councillor Philip Barrett (Ind) said: “Crippling budget cuts have placed the county council in an extremely difficult position. However, having examined the consultation proposals in detail I don’t believe they would provide the best library service possible from the available £4.2 million reduced budget. “Alternative proposals need to be considered which could also reduce the unrealistic reliance on volunteer-run community libraries throughout Craven.””
  • Renfrewshire – Renfrewshire libraries, museums and town halls move to new trust - Evening Times. “James Harte, convener of the council’s sports, leisure and culture policy board, said transferring the libraries, museums and town halls to Renfrewshire Leisure would retain them in public ownership but they would be run by a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status. He added: “There are strong economic reasons for creating an expanded trust. At a time when the council is facing a funding shortfall of between £20m-£30m over the next three years, it makes sense to take advantage of the £600,000 savings from business rates which trust status would deliver every year.”
  • Southampton – Burgess Road Buddies - Facebook. “Protest against plans to close Burgess Road Library, Southampton, because this is a genuine community library, really needed by the diverse community in this area – the children, the older people, those who need help, advice and the means to find work. Join in our protest day on 7 February by reading out loud. If you can’t be there, do a selfie video of you reading outloud. Post it to us here. If you are on Twitter – tweet it. We are on ‪#‎BurgRdLibBuds‬. We need our library – help us save it.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries launches new book festival – Ipswich Spy. “Alison Wheeler, General Manager of Suffolk Libraries, said, “We wanted to organise a book festival which was a bit different – something accessible and enjoyable for everyone. The aim is to invite a mix of popular, local and up and coming authors to our libraries and run a series of events around Suffolk. I’m delighted with the programme we’ve been able to put together and am looking forward to welcoming some top authors to our libraries.””
  • Swindon – Stark warning over council’s £70m shortfall – Swindon Advertiser. ““Some councils are already talking about not being able to meet their statutory requirements. “It’s going to be a case of looking at every area and making savings where we can with the minimum impact. “We could do with some clarification in some areas. If you take libraries for example, we are obliged to provide a town-wide service but some authorities have been taken to court and lost because it was decided their proposals didn’t meet this requirement.”
  • Thurrock – Evie, 6, tells Prime Minister: ‘Please help save our libraries’ – Thurrock Gazette. “Evie, who reads a book every night and has won two reading medals, can’t afford to buy books – and neither can her family. She says her library must stay. The family currently go to Blackshots Library every night on the way home from school. The schoolgirl says she made her local librarian cry when she read out her letter. Evie said: “I would just be really, really sad if they closed it down.” Evie’s mother, Elizabeth Redgrove, who is a teaching assistant at Evie’s school, said: “It would be really upsetting for us if the library closed because she wouldn’t be able to have all the books that she needs.”
  • Thurrock – Taxpayers have every right to question why an eye-watering £40 million was spent on agency staff – and why their libraries are under threat – Thurrock Gazette.  Compared £500k library budget with amount spent on agencies.
  • Walsall – Walsall Council chief: We’ve listened to the public – Express and Star. “The council is still ploughing ahead with plans to close eight libraries – despite thousands of users signing petitions against the move. The closure date of five libraries – Pheasey, Beechdale, Walsall Wood, Walsall South and Streetly – has been deferred by three months, Councillor Coughlan said. They will now close on July 1. Three others in Rushall, New Invention and Blakenall will close after that. Councillor Coughlan added: “Most people do not want the council to close libraries.”

A public library news miscellany

Editorial

Lots of changes today, with some new libraries, some closures and plenty in-between. Other notable stories include the launch of Dementia books on prescription and the tale – very rare someone is brave enough to write publicly – of what it is like to be a librarian in an authority that’s trying to get rid of you.

Changes

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Damned if you do, damned if you don’t: the dilemma of a good librarian in austere times

Editorial

An interesting exchange went on in the House of Lords last Thursday.  A question on libraries, including one or two attempts to try to ring-fence funding for them, was waved away by reference to innovations – and especially the move to volunteers – going on in public libraries.  Cuts of up to 50% were acknowledged but with a feeling that councils are doing their best, and doing well, at avoiding these cuts actually affecting the public.  This presents a bit of a problem to local councils, and not only in the realm of public libraries.  For by doing the best they can, by working hard to minimise the impact of the deepest cuts in peacetime history, on the voter, councils are making more cuts more palatable to the politicians and to the electorate.  Of course, it would be even worse, at least in the short and medium terms, if councils failed to do the best they could.  They would be accused, quite rightly, of self injury and the public would show no mercy.  In this they would be, goaded on by political parties whose ideology values skilled public workers very little and which does not understand the difference between the words “cut” and “saving”. It’s especially sad to see stalwart defenders of public libraries, who have become volunteers, used in this way.  But in this new world of damned if you do, damned if you don’t, everything is fair game.  The trick is to learn how those in public libraries can change the game and win it.

Changes

Ideas

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National Libraries Day: all growed up

Editorial

I remember the start of National Libraries Day.  It was the first year that the Coalition’s cuts had really hit, public libraries were in danger and people were in shock or getting angry.  Alan Gibbons suggested a national day of protest for libraries, then called Save Our Libraries Day, and it happened – hundreds of events and protests around the country.  It was an amazing event and I am very pleased to say that I played a part, albeit a tiny one, in it. That day served its purpose and did great work for public libraries.  I’m pleased, though,  to say that over the last years, the day has  grown from being a protest to being a day of celebration of this great national service.  Some councils had difficulty adjusting to this at the start: there was some suspicion of politics but that has largely all gone. Pretty much every authority I know of now sees National Libraries Day as an important day in their calendar and so it should be.  It is the only time that we have just to celebrate our service.  Not books, not computers, not digital inclusion but the whole darn thing.  The wonderful service that is provided and too many once took for granted and too many now take as something that can be endangered. Make sure you get to the library on the day, look around, smile that it’s still there and work out how you can make it better.

Changes

Ideas

Correction

For some reason I said Salford was undergoing a second round cuts in the first line of the last post.  The eagle eyed would have noticed that it was in fact Trafford. This was corrected on the online edition but was too late to have been corrected for the direct mailing.

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Poop-pooping to London libraries in February

Trafford, Lincs, Staffs, Cardiff … everywhere, really

Editorial

Trafford [Sorry, this post somehow said Salford to begin with – Ed.] is undergoing its second major round of library cuts this government, aiming to withdraw three libraries, much to the chagrin of the local Labour MP who has noticed that the Conservative-run council has picked branches in less prosperous parts of the city.  Elsewhere, both Lincolnshire and Staffordshire are having trouble with getting people to run their libraries for free, with another volunteer group withdrawing in Lincs and Staff having to tone down its plans due to lack of interest.  You know, I know this may come as a shock, but there may be a reason why people are paid to do a lot of library jobs.  It certainly seems that people understand that in Wales where no less than one thousand people attended a meeting to save their local library in Rhiwbina.  One thousand.  Incredible.  The public clearly understand something about the importance of the library there.

Finally, my thanks to Brian Ashley who has again written in (Ed Vaizey, feel free, to join his example) to give his view on the news, specifically on the libraries taskforce and Art Council England’s stance to it.  My thanks to him.

Please send any corrections, news, comments, highly paid job offers or legacies to … ianlibrarian@live.co.uk

The publication of William Sieghart’s report and the establishment of the taskforce, to be chaired by local authority chief executive Paul Blantern, provides a great basis for developing England’s public libraries and the Arts Council looks forward to playing a full, positive and constructive role in that process.  

We have been clear that, in England, leadership of the sector is collaborative. Responsibilities have always rested with a range or organisations but the taskforce brings them together in a more established and effective way than before. The Arts Council’s  particular role as the national development agency for libraries is agreed with DCMS and we believe that we have made a positive contribution to supporting and developing libraries since we took over that responsibility in October 2011. Our strategic development role with the sector is now part of our contribution to the taskforce, of which we are an integral part and the Arts Council continues to be the national development agency for libraries. 

Those who benefit from and depend on public libraries will be more interested in what happens next. The ideas set out in William’s report sit very comfortably with the Arts Council’s vision for libraries: libraries inspire and empower people to lead active lives, developing themselves and making a positive contribution to the community. Through ‘Envisioning the library of the future’ we have identified four development priorities for public libraries in England. We are also providing grant-funding programmes to enable library services to explore new ways of working to deliver these priorities. This will continue including our contribution to the work of the taskforce. Brian Ashley, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England.

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Of reports and raspberries

Editorial

You may remember the Sieghart report that was published by the Government the very last day before Christmas. Well, it looks like things are happening with it.  William Sieghart has hinted that there will be some corporate techy stuff happening shortly (still hush hush) and the boss of the new taskforce has said that things will need to be done within months or they will have failed. That’s good.  What I’m seeing from the sidelines is a general and deepening disappointment (now that there’s been time for it to sink in) with the scope of the report and questions over its actual independence so concrete results would be very welcome.

Sorry to see that, after a year or two of pain and public protest, Lincolnshire’s council have decided to jolly well do what it wanted to do in the first place without regard for what library users or, indeed, anyone else up to and including the courts say.  Unsurprisingly this is not going down well in the county.  It shows that, when it comes down to it, councils can do whatever the heck they want.  No wonder Ed Vaizey is being nominate for a Golden Raspberry Award.

Changes

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Welcoming the homeless in

Editorial

You know them.  The old chap who sits in the same spot each day, perhaps waiting by the door when you open.  The lady who sleeps, with a smell of alcohol around her.  The young gentleman who strides in and using your computers for as long as he can. They’re the users who come in but we do not invite in. The ones who do not talk or talk too much. They are the homeless and many libraries have them, some have a lot, but we have them like we have air: it’s a given, not a strategy. Well, one Canadian library has changed that by officially welcoming them. OK, so they do it on their website (which is not where I would start with this group) but it’s the spirit of the thing. Well done to them.  Can you say your library has done so much?

Changes

Ideas

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In praise of local libraries and school library services

Editorial

Sorry to see Coventry being the next library service to take massive cuts to its service provision. Suggesting closing all the libraries and moving what can be salvaged into five council “hubs” is a new one on me.  Normally, at least a few of the larger buildings are left.  The concerns here are manifold: how much of the new “hub” would actually be for the library, the cost involved in setting up all of these new places and what happens to the old, often beloved, library buildings.  The biggest concern, of course, is that there’s only going to be five libraries in the whole city: Helen Skelton in the Telegraph points out that this could be the first generation of children in the UK who do not grow up with widespread access to free books and, by the sound of it, those who cannot afford transport in Coventry will shortly be agreeing.

Also, sorry to see Falkirk losing its school library service (SLS).  A good SLS can be a fantastic value multiplier for schools who not only gain from bulk discount and frequent exchanges of stock but also expert advice as well.  Indeed, a SLS can be self-financing, as schools pay in to support a service which is of such obvious use to them.  I do hope Falkirk Council have considered that option before they decided just to delete a line in the budget which may have such an impact on the literacy, and life outcomes, of so many children.

Changes

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Je Suis Charlie, Birmingham, Library song and the Magna Carta

Editorial

I was shocked to see the events in Paris at the Charlie Hebdo offices. I simply don’t know what the public librarian response to it should be but that by R. David Lankes below is a good place to start.  But, I hope, every librarian will stand up and be able to say “Je Suis Charlie”. Remember that when you’re asked to cut or not stock something just because someone doesn’t agree with it for some reason.

Birmingham Council appear to have shot themselves in the foot by publicising what appears to be their private imaginings about the British Library helping to save the Library of Birmingham.  The British Library has confirmed to me and to others that, while they wish the LoB every good wish, they simply had not even been approached by the council before the story was made public.  Sheesh.  No wonder Birmingham is in the mess it is in (well, apart from Austerity) if this is how they do things.

A new library campaign song has been recorded but pictures of closed/threatened libraries and/or of library staff who have lost their jobs (or users who now have no library) are needed.  If you can help, please email weneedlibraries@gmail.com.

Changes

Magna Carta & the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act – By Shirley Burnham

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The British Library mooted as saviour for the Library of Birmingham

Editorial

It’s great to see that the British Library, amongst others, may be coming to the aid of the gigantic new Library of Birmingham. The BL are, it has been reported in the Birmingham Post, looking at putting a “regional centre” in there.  Whatever this may turn out to be (and such a thing would naturally cause a precedent for elsewhere in the UK) it’s hopefully going to be a good thing. For, the BL has always seemed a little, well, stand-offish to me in public library circles, especially for those of us in still what is occasionally called “the provinces”.  This has, though, recently been changing.  Their business and intellectual property centres scattered around the country, like this one in Newcastle, are in libraries and, although reluctantly, they are now in charge of the Public Lending Right Unit. It’s also interesting to note that their chief executive, Roly Keating, was amongst the panel for the recent Independent Report on Public libraries. I’ve seen what an impact having a state library concerned with strategy and supporting public libraries can have, after looking into the excellent work of the State Library of Queensland and it’s a shame there’s nothing like it here. Such a relationship of research, support and expertise can made a big impact but it’s almost completely lacking here.  In fact, for most public library staff, the British Library is known for only one thing – being an insanely expensive lender of last resort which mercilessly penalises lost books.  The BL could be of so much more use for public libraries, but if it is content for now merely to rescue the largest public library in the European Union then that’s a great start.

Changes

Ideas

Correction

  • I had incorrectly listed the threatened Bob Lawrence Library as in Brent.  It is of course in Harrow.

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