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

Take advantage of Love To Read

Editorial

More details on the BBC “Love To Read” promotion ae emerging.  The BBC tend not to do anything by halves, as I discovered when I was lucky enough to experience a children’s book promotion at the Library of Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, which featured hordes of people, Blue Peter and top league authors. So this is going to be a good thing for reading and, by extension, libraries. Take full advantage.  Other than that, it’s fairly quiet today in the UK, with a reduction in hours in Shropshire and a move of library in Staffordshire. Abroad, the article on a “secret” Syraina library is the stand out, showing how – when it comes down to it – libraries are actually pretty essential to people’s lives, especially when they have so little else.

Changes

National news

  • Carnegie Library Lab: Final Project Snapshot from Cohort 1 – Carnegie UK Trust. “This snapshot provides a final summary of how our first cohort of Carnegie Library Lab Partners got on with their innovative projects. The Partners participated in Carnegie Library Lab from November 2014 to April 2016. The programme is aimed at enhancing innovation and leadership in the public library sector.”
  • Last of the Rare Book Cataloguers – Huffington Post. James Christie attacks the library profession. “Now it’s 2016 and British libraries are f****d.”
  • #LovetoRead – Libraries Taskforce. “the idea behind #LovetoRead, the BBC’s 2016 campaign to celebrate the pleasure of reading – or as I’m calling it, the joy of text! Authors and books, and indeed good stories, have always been at the heart of what the BBC does but by partnering and working with the UK’s leading literacy and literary organisations and publishers – including amongst others the Society of Chief Librarians and the Scottish Library and Information Council – it’s hoped that #LovetoRead will start a national conversation about books like never before.” … “#LovetoRead is split into two distinct parts: this summer we’ll concentrate on Awesome Authors with the aim to get children excited about reading, creative writing and storytelling.” … “In the autumn, the focus switches to the Books that Made Britain, including a search for the nation’s best-loved books.” … “. The season will culminate with the #LovetoRead weekend on 5 and 6 November when the BBC and partners will invite everyone, everywhere to read something new. BBC presenters from across all local, regional and network stations and channels will be an excellent source of inspiration”
  • New libraries minister stresses community action – BookSeller. “In a letter to “colleagues” in the public library service, Wilson argued the “exciting new opportunity” of the library brief fitted well with his existing role. He said a “number of overlaps” between his civil society work and “what you are trying to achieve in public libraries” included volunteering, particularly by younger people; exploitation of new governance models (like mutual, trusts and co-operatives); and new funding opportunities (such as social investment bonds and crowd-funding) and the importance of co-creation of services.” includes comments from the Library Campaign, myself, CILIP and Desmond Clarke.
  • Overcoming Information Poverty, 1st Edition: Investigating the Role of Public Libraries in The Twenty-First Century – Anthony McKeown. “This engaging book proposes a model for understanding the concept of information poverty, develops indicators for its measurement, and provides recommendations for service improvement based on analysis of public library services at macro (strategic), meso (community) and micro (individual) levels”
  • PPRG annual conference – Library marketing and PR: critical to success  – CILIP. 18th November. “Come to CILIP’s Publicity and PR Group (PPRG) annual conference and hear from 9 fantastic speakers including 5 Marketing Excellence Award winners, who will showcase their successful campaigns. This is a fantastic opportunity to hear about the best practice strategies and techniques which have worked so effectively in other library services, providing you with inspiring ideas to take back to your service.”

International news

  • Global – Best cities in the world for book lovers – Quartz. “Every year the World Cities Culture Forum collects information on how people consume culture around the world. The organization looks at factors like how many video game arcades a city has, or how much a city forks over for movie tickets each year. Led by the London mayor’s office and organized by UK consulting company Bop, the forum asks its partner cities to self-report on cultural institutions and consumption, including where people can get books.” … “When it comes to libraries per capita, Edinburgh leads by quite a bit: The city reported 60 libraries for every 100,000 people. Even going back more than two years, to include cities with older data, Edinburg blew everywhere else out of the water. It has around 300 libraries total, in a city of half a million. By comparison, Hong Kong has around 300 libraries for 7 million people.”
  • Syria – Syria’s secret library – BBC. “When a place has been besieged for years and hunger stalks the streets, you might have thought people would have little interest in books. But enthusiasts have stocked an underground library in Syria with volumes rescued from bombed buildings – and users dodge shells and bullets to reach it.”
  • USA – Renaissance for Public Libraries – Next Avenue. “In New York City, there is somebody using library materials every second, every day of the year,” said Christian Zabriskie, executive director of Urban Librarians Unite, in a recent New York Times article. “It’s showing that libraries are the fabric of society.””

USA – Arverne LibraryVimeo

Local news by authority

 

“According to my analysis of the CIPFA 2015 Library Service, this decision now means Darlington has the smallest number of libraries per 100,000 population in England.  Just pipping Brent, Hammersmith/Fulham, Sefton for the dubious honour, unless they have closed even more since the 2015 Stats. Population is 106,000.  We have 2 libraries.  If Cockerton closes, then we will have one reduced service” Darlington – Email from Yvonne Richardson.

  • Derby – Anger as Derby plans to hand over most of city’s libraries to volunteers – Guardian. “The council, which will open a consultation on the proposals in the autumn, has admitted that there would be “a significant reduction in the number of paid jobs” in the city’s libraries as a result of the cost-cutting, and that “if enough volunteers don’t come forward to run a particular library, that library would close”. The grants, meanwhile, would not be sufficient to cover running costs, and “management groups would need to supplement their council grant by fundraising activities or generating some income from other sources”.”.  Quotes myself and Laura Swaffield of the Library Campaign.
  • Derby – Derby library plans met with concern and anger – Derby Telegraph. Deep cuts to libraries met with disapproval by opposition councillors see also Derby plans to hand 11 libraries over to volunteers – BookSeller.
  • Fife – Plans submitted to halt Glenwood Library closure – Fife Today. “Two of the town’s leading community groups, Glenrothes Area Resident’s Federation and West Glenrothes Tenant’s Association, have finalised their long-term plans which would not only keep the library open, but also bring the two organisations under one roof and maximise the use of the building by turning it into a ‘hub’ facility” … “The trust, which was ordered by Fife Council to find £800,000 of budget savings, lodged a proposal to close 16 libraries in a bid to achieve the necessary cuts.” … “if successful, the group says it will continue to employ a qualified librarian as part of its plans. “
  • Haringey – Muswell Hill Library Public Engagement – Haringey. “We are consulting on proposals to relocate Muswell Hill Library to an alternative site at 54/56 Muswell Hill (the site of the old Green Man pub). We have committed to maintaining and investing in our library service and we know they are a valuable resource in our communities. To provide a modern and accessible service, Muswell Hill Library needs adaptations and repairs to the building. There is currently no lift in the building to access the children’s library on the first floor, and no accessible toilets for library users or staff. Level access to the ground floor entrance is provided by a limited elevated platform lift at the side of the building. We are facing severe government funding cuts and difficult financial decisions about how and where to spend limited funding. Options for adapting the existing library building were explored, but the estimations of costs ranged from £680,000 to £1,650,000.”
  • Lancashire – MP enlisted David Cameron in talks to save our libraries – Accrington Observer. “Graham Jones made a personal appeal to the outgoing PM to find a way to secure the future of libraries earmarked for closure should county hall bosses pull their funding. …  Jones, who last week presented a petition opposing the closures to the House of Commons, told the Observer: “I have spoken to the outgoing prime minister before he resigned on this matter and he assured me that his government will do what they can in terms of helping community groups if they wish to take over the running of the libraries. “I explained to him that it was his government’s cuts that created this problem and I will oppose these cuts, but I am also keen to see that libraries will not close.”
  • Manchester – Talking Digital with Matthew Kendall, founder of airTeem – Manchester Council. “For many small businesses, the costs associated with being able to access some of the industry’s most useful tools can be high – and this can prevent companies from reaching their full potential. However, at airTeem®, we overcame this barrier by spending time in our local library.” … ” 2014, I attended Central Library’s monthly Inventors Group, in the hope of networking and finding out more about how to protect our Intellectual Property (IP). That was when I discovered the extensive amount of support which is available for SMEs at the library’s Business & IP Centre.”
  • Shropshire – Shropshire councillors agree to cut hours at 11 libraries across county – Shropshire Star. “Shropshire Council’s cabinet has approved a proposal to close Shawbury’s library and to replace it with a mobile service once a week, and also confirmed plans to cut a total of 57 opening hours across 11 of the county’s libraries. Councillor Stuart West, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries said that the move would ensure that libraries could remain open.” … “Under the plans Bridgnorth Library will see a reduction of 11 and a half hours, Ludlow – six hours, Market Drayton – five and a half hours, Oswestry – eight hours, Shrewsbury – eight and a half hours, Whitchurch – three hours, Bayston Hill – two and a half hours, Gobowen – two hours, Much Wenlock – two hours, Shrewsbury, The Lantern – three hours, Wem – five hours. A summary states that in general the revised hours will mean a lunchtime closure where feedback justifies it, and that libraries will open from 9.30am.”
  • Staffordshire – Controversial plan to move Lichfield Library to St Mary’s in the Market Square is approved – Lichfield Live. “Councillors have backed plans to move Lichfield Library to a new home at St Mary’s in the Market Square. The move would see the current site at The Friary redeveloped for residential accommodation” … “Cllr Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, said the move would secure both sites: “The £1 million investment will ensure a first class library in the heart of Lichfield, safeguard the future of two landmark buildings and support shops and businesses around St Mary’s. “The library at St Mary’s will have significant amount of money invested in it.” … “Work will begin at St Mary’s this summer to enable the library to occupy the ground floor on a 30 year lease”
  • Staffordshire – Lichfield Library – Staffordshire County Council. “As well as books, the new library is expected to be similiar to the relocated Stafford Library which has seen a 60% increase in membership in just six months. Stafford Library offers new technologies and new ways to engage with literature, history and culture and boasts wifi, touchscreen tables, large computer tablets and two state-of-the-art 3D printers. ”
  • Suffolk – Reading Well Shelf Help for Young people – Suffolk Libraries. Stop-motion video using lego. “Suffolk Libraries Lego creation for the Books on Prescription Shelf help scheme for young people. Shelf Help books are available in all of our libraries in Suffolk, UK.”
  • Westminster – Labour calls on Westminster Council to “come clean” over Marylebone Library delay – KCW Today. “The Marylebone Library on Luxborough Street, which has yet to start, was meant to have opened this summer, yet building work has still not started. Labour Councillors claim that the Westminster Council has “let down Marylebone residents as rumours abound that the current temporary library has been told to leave its Howard de Walden estate-owned premises in Beaumont Street and will be down-sized to a couple of shop units in New Cavendish Street until a permanent location can be found.” Citing council documents, Labour insists that the new Marylebone library should have been built and opened by Spring 2015, a date which was later revised to Summer 2015, then Late 2015.”

The first letter: New Libraries Minister speaks

Editorial

The new libraries minister has spoken, showing an interest in the field and an awareness of the Taskforce, amongst other things. He points out that his interest in volunteering has a bearing in libraries, which will be seen as a bad omen by many (especially paid staff) but he does single out young volunteers, which suggests he’s thinking more in terms of Reading Hacks.  It’s a good thing he has already had at least one meeting with public libraries people, anyway.

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Well, that’s not subtle: the new libraries minister is also minister for volunteers

Editorial

Rather confusingly, there is a new libraries minister.  It turns out that Matt Hancock, who has taken over most of the outgoing minister, Ed Vaizey’s, responsibilities, will not have the public library brief as well.  That honour goes to Rob Wilson MP who, rather delightfully, is also an MP for Reading. Less happily, his other duties are all about boosting volunteers and non-profits.  That may give a rather blatant pointer to where he will be standing on some of the key issues in libraries: it’s hard to see him coming out against increasing volunteers at the expense of paid staff in libraries when his other role is all about increasing them.  In addition, his own constituency is seeing some fairly major cuts to libraries.

The big news, other than this, is the big reduction to libraries announced in Derby.  Normally, before, the Central Library has been the branch most likely to be considered safe, with it being kept much the same as before while the poor branch libraries bear the brunt.  Not so in Derby.  There, it is specifically Central that will close, along with a massive 11 of the other 13, in order to cut costs. So that will keep a bare minimum of library provision in that city.  But don’t expect out new libraries minister to protest: after all, most of those others will be going to volunteers.

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Chris Riddell (L), Ed Vaizey (C - discovering he's the same height as a Twit, honestly) and Sue Williamson at the official Big Friendly Read launch.

Goodbye Ed Vaizey

Editorial

So Ed Vaizey is no longer libraries minister.  Readers of Public Libraries News will know what he has done, and what he hasn’t, for public libraries in the six years he has been in charge. Before being in power, he stridently called for interventions in libraries but when he was in power, he did not intervene effectively – other than nodding through deep cuts – in a single one. A nice enough chap, even charming I understand, he was perhaps constrained by his background, his ideology, notably that of localism and austerity, and by his colleagues in doing anything more.  Certainly, the Sieghart Review and the Taskforce are welcome, although they However, claiming that libraries were thriving when they self-evidently were not and calling in question the number of closures and depth of cuts when the evidence was there was all to see was, I suspect, all him. Or is it? We will see with his replacement, who has already claimed on Twitter to be a supporter of libraries has a similar relationship with cold hard. politically uncomforable, facts.

In other news, I’ve been following news of Pokémon Go visits to libraries throughout the country and many library services have not been slow in taking advantage, at least in social media. That’s all great to see, as are all the wonderful pictures of children joining the Big Friendly Read.

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Swindon: Campaigners were out in force to show their support for Swindon's libraries ahead of a full council meeting

Wifi, digital inclusion, NHS public libraries and a new Culture Secretary

Editorial

A couple of useful reports on public libraries – one on wifi and one on digital inclusion – to have a read through in this post. Arts Council England have also announced that the procedure for libraries to apply for their grants will soon change. In addition, there’s the amazing news that a Friend’s group in Suffolk has raised £30k for its library.  That’s a lot for a support group but, of course, small scale for a council but, if the council does not have any money …  There’s also an interesting article about the NHS in Staffordshire (there’s more info here by the way).

Speaking of Staffs, the new Culture Secretary comes from around there and has had some dealing with libraries in the past, speaking warmly of coffee mornings and attending the transfer of Werrington Library to a wellbeing centre, staffed by volunteers, So, she has at least shown an interest but, unsurprisingly, is of the same camp as other Conservatives on the way forward for libraries in these difficult times. By the way, Ed Vaizey has, at time of writing, not been promoted (or demoted) as far as I can see but is now a member of the privy council so will now be called “The Right Honourable”.

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11 million books for 5p per day, plus free internet access? It's a no-brainer, Wales

The increasingly ironically named Reading, Ealing’s Primark Library … and Pokémon Go

Editorial

Some pretty major cuts to libraries have been announced, with two things in common.  One is that they blame central government cuts. The other is that a big thing is made of the council not actually cutting more, often pointing out other authorities are doing even worse things to the people’s chances of equal access to information and literacy.  Ealing – the one that’s halving the size of its central library and selling 87,000 of its books – even says it’s proud it is not being even more savage.  So, these councils should be grateful to the seriously malicious library cutters, such as the recent Swindon, who make such a defence possible. Meanwhile, in the afore-mentioned Swindon, a member of the public – not even a public official – is straight-faced calling the cuts a new opportunity for community empowerment.  Doublethink appears to have won the argument.

But fear not, for a possible library saviour is coming across the horizon, and he may be yellow with a spiky tail.  Pokémon Go, when it gets here, is apparently quite keen on making public libraries centres … so expect lots of young people coming on to the premises looking everywhere with their mobile phones. And, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, find out, and work out how to make the most of it.

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Poem and illustration by @duddledum

Trusts cost more; co-locations, New York success and libraries meet UN targets

Editorial

A fair few changes over the last few days, with a fair bit being positive, mixed in with the normal depression.  Interestingly, Wrexham has decided to buck the general trend towards moving to Trusts, with their research showing it would cost £200k more per year to move to that model. Away from the UK, there’s a story from the USA about how libraries are thriving once more due to a revival in investment and there’s a report from IFLA on how libraries are able to meet every single one of the UN targets.

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The Big Friendly Success: Here comes the Summer Reading Challenge 2016

Editorial

It’s my favourite time of the year. No, not Christmas and not my birthday, or (ahem) my wedding anniversary but the start of the Summer Reading Challenge.  I love doing school assemblies promoting it and I’ve already had two whole junior school’s worth of children chanting “B F R”.  It’s the little things in life I enjoy.  And the impact that this has is lasting. I was in Asda the other week and a young man (16?) shouted “It’s Ian” and came up to talk to me.  Turns out he remembers the school assembly I did at this school six or seven years ago when I got them all chanting “Space Hop” (my assemblies don’t change that much) and was keen to tell me how he was doing and how he was going on to study further.  There’s a man who has a very positive association in his mind with libraries and an experience that is being repeated in its thousands up and down the country at the moment. So here’s to all the libraries, all the teachers and above all, all the children and parents who will make the Summer the busiest time of the year for libraries again this year. Long may it continue.

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So, what does the Referendum result mean for public libraries?

Editorial

I know from talking to many people in public libraries and the public sector generally that it’s been a depressing few days, which at times has affected them more than even many general elections. There’s been no end of analysis of what the referendum result means for the country but none about what it means for public libraries. Let’s change that now:

  • Public libraries have been notable for not being used by many to find out information on the facts during the campaign. I’m aware of only a tiny handful of enquiries.  The great majority of libraries did not go out of the way to inform people either: indeed, they would have been often discouraged to do so because they’d have been accused of bias by one or the other side. The rules of council “purdah” may also have been invoked.  If libraries are a strongpoint of democracy and neutral information – as many believe they should be – then they signally failed in this test and need to plan to do better next time.
  • At this moment, it looks significantly likely that Scotland will have another independence referendum, which will probably result in a Yes vote. This means that the large number of leftwing MPs elected to parliament from north of the border will no longer be there.  This will cause a significant shift in the ease that Labour can hope to get in: basically, you’d need votes like those previously associated with landslides in order for them to stand a chance. In turn, this means that governments are probably going to stay right-wing, being more likely to continue to favour limiting public spending, and thus library budgets, in the longer term. Personally, also, for me, it means that I’ll have to start putting Scottish News in the International News section, which is just going to be plain weird.
  • As uncertainty rocks businesses and, at the very least, they will have to get used to new procedures, there is likely to be slowdown in economic growth. This may to some extent be offset by the cost of sterling though but, on balance, and especially looking at recent FTSE results, it’s not looking good for large parts of the British economy. This, again, means we’re more likely to face more cuts to public services than before.
  • Thankfully, public libraries don’t get much investment from the European Union in this country. They get some for new builds but there’s not much of that happening at the moment, although a few places are likely to notice. So, we’re not likely to significantly lose much money that way, Phew.

This is all guesswork of course. It may be that some of the money repatriated from the EU goes to public services and thus negates the impacts of austerity.  It’s possible that Scotland won’t go independent. But, at the moment, the balance of probability is that the short and medium term impact on public libraries will be negative.

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Embracing Digital Services #futureoflibraries

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Chris Riddell loves libraries

A quiet couple of days for libraries: Hull enters centre stage?

Editorial

A quiet few days as, I suspect, the nation held its breath over the referendum. Good to see more Summer Reading Challenge references (I always love this time of year) and also nice to see good news from Birmingham, although it’s only an expansion of what we already knew. What I did not already know was that there’s an independent charitable trust in Hull with loads of money and a strong interest in libraries which wants to make itself known nationally. It will be interesting to see how that develops.

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