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

Caught at least three ways: e-lending and librarians’ dilemma

Editorial

The Chief Executive of the Publishers’ Association has had a bit of a go at the CILIP-backed Right to E-Read” campaigned.  I can understand his concern about the name (it’s not the right to e-reading, he points out, but rather e-lending) and fear that such unfettered and free access would cut down on author’s (and publishers, naturally) earnings. After all, there has always been a suspicion amongst booksellers that libraries could hurt them.  It has always been the response of librarians (and some publishers too) that book-lending is a different and complementary activity to book-buying.  The current e-book pilots in the UK come as an attempt by all parties, brokered by the DCMS, to see what works best and if publishers etc do have something to fear.

I’m probably not alone as a public librarian in feeling conflicted at least three ways on this one.  I can see that E-lending is qualitatively different to lending in that the book is always ”perfect” and there is no time-cost in obtaining it (that is, there’s no delay in actually going to the library/putting a reserve on the item).  Without some limits (be they the hated automatic delete or increased payments – but, if the latter, then who pays?) I know I’d always be borrowing e-books and not buy them (why would I buy them, again? If they’re always instantly there just by a couple of clicks?). On the other hand, one naturally fears that more e-lending will cut physical visits to the building what I am being paid to be in.  On the other other hand, the point of libraries is to allow access, damn it, not to provide me with a job.

What I know is that spats about the issue, while unsurprising, don’t help. It is to be hoped that the pilots/campaign come to a satisfactory conclusion, despite jockeying for position.

Children’s webpages

I was very pleased to receive the following from Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Libraries about their websites for under 16s.  I’ve had a look and it’s pretty good stuff. Worth a check to see if your own library service can pick up a few tips?

“Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Libraries have a quite comprehensive Children’s and Teenagers section on our Virtual Library.  We target the pages at three audiences – Under 6 (aimed at parents mainly), Children’s (7-12) and Teen Turf for 13-16 year olds, I have included links to these below so you can take a look. The content on these pages is targeted and designed for these audiences – the event listings, recommended web sites in QuickLinks, booklists, etc. We feel that it is vitally important to provide lots of useful information for children as they are a key user of the physical library services, but are looking for support and advice outside of library opening hours.”

Changes

News

  • Librarian wins meeting with Neil Gaiman: Competition winner announced – Reading Agency (press release). “Annalisa Timbrell, a project officer with Surrey Libraries, entered and won the competition inviting library staff to a write an introduction to a guide to Neil Gaiman’s Fictional Universe. This guide now forms part of promotional packs made available to libraries by The Reading Agency and Headline to celebrate the paperback publication of Neil Gaiman’s hugely successful novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane – voted Book of the Year in the 2013 British National Book Awards. The promotional packs, for use in libraries during April, encourage readers to explore Neil Gaiman’s backlist.”
  • A publisher’s perspective: Why should libraries lend ebooks? – CILIP. A publisher backs the e-lending campaign pointing out that 85% of ebooks are not available in the library market; Libraries are customers too; Publishers must support libraries by licensing ebook rights.
  • The ‘right’ to read – BookSeller. Chief Executive of Publisher’s Association Richard Mollet criticises EBLIDA/CILIP “Right to e-read” campaign and suggests it should be “right to e-lend”.  “What EBLIDA/CILIP really want is not actually the right for people to read e-books, but the right for libraries to lend them. These are, of course, very different things indeed.” … “The stepping off point is a belief that authors’ and publishers’ exclusive rights should be held subservient to the desires of librarians.”

“It needs to be demonstrated beyond peradventure that granting a European citizen the right to download an e-book from the comfort of their sofa does not occur at the expense of them exercising their right to buy one from an online (or come to that high street) retailer. It also has to be shown to a high degree of probability that, even if there were a PLR rate for remote e-lending, that authors would still benefit … Let’s have an honest and accurate discussion on precisely that, and not some hifalutin slogan, designed to bypass the real issue at question.” Richard Mollet

“Given that CILIP, the SCL, The Society of Authors, the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association welcomed the Sieghart Report and support the pilot studies commissioned jointly by the SCL and the PA,  it would be much better if everyone waited for the Review Panel’s final recommendations. These will hopefully provide a way forward that can be supported by authors, librarians, publishers and booksellers to the benefit of the book reading public.” Desmond Clarke (via email)

  • We’re all ‘children of the municipal’ – BD Online. ““I’m a child of the municipal. Everything good had this word carved above its grand entrance,” the late Sue Townsend, who died last week, wrote in the Observer in 2005. In Leicester, where the author was born and lived all her life, “there were municipal libraries, majestic solid buildings with beautiful entrances, windows and doors, oak furniture and bookshelves. Then there were municipal baths, which had a swimming pool and what were called slipper baths — private bathrooms for those without baths and hot water at home… There were municipal parks, which were delightful places in which to take the air. A brass band played on summer evenings.””

International

  • 11 Literary Librarians Who Smash Stereotypes – Buzzfeed (USA). A look at eleven librarians who feature prominently in novels.
  • Future of public libraries - Russian Council (World).  Ian Clark’s report on library trends.  In Russian.
  • Libraries Still Loved, a Century After Carnegie - Epoch Times (USA). “Libraries are town squares, art galleries, windows to the larger world, temples of learning, story time palaces, and free Internet cafes. They are makeshift day care centers for the mentally ill, inefficient bureaucracies, and hunting grounds for perverts. They are near death! They are in a renaissance! Happy National Library Week!”
  • Maker movement helps transform our public libraries – Open Source (USA). “The small town of Bethlehem, New York purchased a 3D printer and started teaching classes at its public library recently—jumpstarting the community’s knowledge of advanced manufacturing and building upon a new way of doing things in a world where physical bookstores are dissappearing. It’s true. Public libraries are reinventing themselves. Today they are becoming less of a place that hosts physical books and more of a center where people collaborate, commune, and learn new things. Check out their program to help kids overcome their shyness when reading aloud to others by bringing dogs in to listen!”
  • Philly starts handing out library cards to students who didn’t request them - News Works (USA). “In a year that’s seen budget cuts all but eradicate librarians from the Philadelphia School District’s buildings, the district is now leaning even more heavily on the Free Library of Philadelphia to help make up for that shortfall. The schools and the library have merged their databases and determined that roughly 98,000 of the school district’s 136,000 students do not yet have cards for the city’s public libraries. Based on that data merge, the library and the district will now distribute personalized library cards to every student without one.”

“No matter what your age, no matter what your circumstance, there’s a card that everyone should have” Mayor Michael Nutter

  • The story of Koha, the first open source library management system – Open Source (New Zealand/Global). “A small public library serving a population of 30,000 in New Zealand developed and released the world’s first open source library management system in 2000. Horowhenua Library Trust named the system Koha, which is a New Zealand Māori custom meaning gift or contribution. This is a story of why we developed Koha and how it has changed the way we, and millions of others, work.”

“It is NOT about accepting what you are given but articulating what you want. Librarians need to develop new skills in order to interact or participate fully in the community that is the heart of open source projects” Joann Ransom

UK local news by authority

  • Camden – Exclusive: Council opens talks on major Kentish Town Road re-development - Camden Review. “The huge redevelopment programme would transform the parade of shops and flats running from Kentish Town Tube station to the corner of Islip Street. It would mean moving Kentish Town library and bring disruption for shops in the area”.  Local says “… that a possible move for the library to a first floor was unacceptable. “The library might need sprucing up but moving it from the ground floor would be a disaster and against the spirit of supporting access to our libraries”
  • Darlington – Libraries join initiative to offer thousands of journal articles for free - Northern Echo. “Darlington Borough Council has joined the Access to Research project which is a collaboration between librarians and publishers who have made their journal content available for free to British libraries.”
  • Devon – County to look at effect of its cuts as reaction grows to losing services - Mid Devon Gazette. “North Devon MP Nick Harvey said Devon County Council is now consulting on a raft of cuts that has people up in arms. “Despite this local residents continue to pay far higher council taxes than people in urban areas,” he added. “This is a totally unacceptable situation.”
  • Devon – Fight to save our libraries - North Devon Journal / Letters. “The proposed closure of the Northam and Appledore Libraries as they are now run is detrimental to the community, and will ensure the loss of assets both for the young, the in-betweens and the older person, and ensure a further erosion of community spirit. If you do not wish to lose your local library, please sign the petition which is at outlets at both Northam and Appledore and preferably tick the “No” box.”
  • Devon – Wrong way of thinking - North Devon Journal. Councillor “Harrison is surely wrong if he believes that we would have been spared draconian cuts in council services if only his vision of a unitary council for North Devon had come about”
  • Leicester – Protest as residents fear for future of Westcotes library – Leicester Mercury. “Leicester City Council has said it needs to reorganise how it used its community properties in the Braunstone and Rowley Fields, West End and Western Park areas. So far, the authority has not published any firm proposals of what it intends to do with any premises and residents fear that leaves a question mark over the future of  Westcotes library, in Narborough Road.” … “Westcotes ward councillor Sarah Russell is the assistant mayor in charge of the buildings review. She said: “I’ve said before Westcotes library is the one building in the city I would chain myself to if necessary. There is no proposal to close it.”
  • Lincolnshire – UK Shadow Culture Minister plays Robin Hood against Lincolnshire library cuts - TeleRead. “Dressed in Lincoln green, or something like, Helen Goodman reportedly declared that “Local libraries are central to our societies, offering a safe place for all … They are investments in our future through the communities they nurture and skills they foster.” A full video of her appearance is available here.”
  • Liverpool – Public meetings to be held on the future of Liverpool’s libraries - Bay TV Liverpool. ““In future it is doubtful that we will be able to have a library in every community, and people may well have to travel further to access the service. “That is why we are really keen to hear what people think, and their ideas about how we can mitigate the impact, or do things in a different way to enable people to continue to have access to books, public information and computers.””

“Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding”

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Shadow Minister for Libraries speaks

Editorial

The Shadow Minister for Libraries, Helen Goodman MP, appears to have been spurred into action by the coachload of Lincolnshire library campaigners who visited parliament last week.  In a visit to Ermine Library, she stressed the need for professional librarians and a standard library service throughout the country, rather than the current “postcode lottery”.  She has written to the Minister demanding intervention in Lincolnshire where three quarters of libraries are under threat.  Councillor Nick Worth, the local man in charge of libraries, rather impressively – considering the sheer scale of the cuts he is overseeing if noting else – called the cuts a “win-win situation” for Lincolnshire.  After one does breathing exercises, perhaps also taking the dog for a walk and putting a cold flannel on your forehead, you’re probably going to be able to cope with the reason for this claim being that volunteers will mean the service is cheaper and that there will be an overall increase in service points as there will be some shelves of books in other buildings (hopefully not telephone boxes) as well.  Never mind the quality, look at the quantity appears to be his view. Whatever the result, the power of campaigning in grabbing the attention of politicians has been demonstrated.

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Library-affirming

Editorial

It’s National Library Week in the USA and there’s some wonderful pro library stuff coming out of it.  I especially like the one, naturally, that gives ten reasons why librarians are awesome.  I think we knew that all along but it’s good to see it on screen.  The nice thing about these American articles is that, although cuts are mentioned, they are all very positive in tone.  There is hope there.  Library usage is increasing and new ideas are being embraced. They are, in other words, library-affirming.

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Stories from the Web

Editorial

My last item, probably, on children’s library webpages.  John Dolan has kindly pointed out to me that Stories from the Web has been doing much of the work for those authorities who buy into it for years. I hadn’t really come across it before and there lies the problem – only 17 authorities in the UK buy into it.  How many more will continue to do so as the cuts further bite can only be guessed at.  It strikes me that this is something that could usefully be done nationally and avoid the vagaries of individual authorities.  It would also mean that the website could forget about its cumbersome need at the moment for the prospective user to go to a physical library for a username and password.  Like so many other things, this is something that Sieghart could perhaps be looking at in his review. There are other areas too – like the much discussed libraries development agency, marketing, etc – that could be better done nationally but are so often not at the moment which could usefully be the subject of some research.  Here’s hoping.

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Lincolnshire campaigning masterclass, children’s webpages and e-readers

Editorial

The coachload of Lincolnshire campaigners who visited Parliament and Downing Street have shown great ingenuity and determination in trying to save libraries.  Seven MPs, including two shadow ministers, met them in parliament – with others offering support – and a specially produced book “The Tip of the Iceberg” was presented to 10 Downing Street.  The whole thing showed a great deal of commitment and an example of best practice for any other library campaigners out there.  I’ve added it the A to Z of library campaigning tactics page.

I asked a couple of days ago about whether there were specific library webpages for children.  A few of you have got in touch with examples, with the major one being from Devon and called “The Zone”.  I’m told that ”the site won an award from CILIP PPRG in 2005 but has been redeveloped since. It still proves very popular and we use it as a vehicle not only to promote services but also reward their work.”.  I especially like the “Spin” banner for highlighting parts of the site, its colour and general fun-ness.  Downsides are that it’s quite small (but, then, a whole lot bigger than a pile of authorities who don’t have anything at all) and it’s still advertising World Book Day.  Otherwise, children’s library websites tend to be of a simple listing type like Hampshire or Cambridgeshire.

So why this paucity?  Well, I think it’s a mixture of things – council IT policies saying no, it being neither the children’s librarian job or the IT specialist’s job, lack of financing, imagination or, possibly, a suspicion that children will not use the service.  Whatever the reasons, Devon shows that it can be successful so let’s hope more come to light or are created.

I recently asked another question about libraries providing e-readers.  It appears that Aberdeenshire and Suffolk are both piloting e-reader lending.  Sadly, I would say this puts the UK a comfortable two or three years behind the USA in this matter: although I hope more evidence comes to light.  Now it may be that this country has gained by being slow about this as e-readers are probably a transitional technology, with tablet PCs replacing them.  Being e-readers are now as cheap as £25, though, the risks (and, crucially, costs) of lending them out – and providing advice on how to use them – is becoming less. We’ll see if UK authorities, fighting as they are with major cuts, get a grasp on this issue or leave it to go the way of children’s library webpages.

Please send news, comments and thoughts to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk

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Leicestershire have 36 in danger; Ceredigion; and awards.

Editorial

Every UK public library authority now has at least a webpage or two advertising its services but how many have a webpage just for what libraries provide for children? I don’t know of any.  For such a key part of the library clientele, this seems to be a bit odd … so I hope you’re all going to impress with me with tons of great examples now: please send them in (along with any news or thoughts) to me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk, thank you.

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Total annual expenditure in England, inflation adjusted as percentage of 2012 spending

Good luck to the Lincolnshire campaigners tomorrow

Editorial

The figures below are similar to the ones from yesterday but just for England.  They show the cut in overall budgets is 30% since 2009/10.  Perhaps the wonderfully determined Lincolnshire campaigners can mention that to Number Ten when they’re there tomorrow over the little matter of the council giving away 32 out of its 45 librariesPerhaps also the Culture Secretary Maria Miller may be willing to give a donation the cause as I understand she may have some extra money hanging around at the moment that is causing her some embarrassment.

Total annual expenditure in England, inflation adjusted as percentage of 2012 spending

Total annual expenditure in England, inflation adjusted as percentage of 2012 spending

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UK libraries spending reduced by up to 29% in just three years

Editorial

Tim Coates put in the comments section a few days ago the total expenditure on libraries in the UK over the last ten years.  He is, amongst other things, a key holder of library statistics, with the ones cited coming from Cipfa.  I had a play with them and came up with the following graphs that may be useful (and added them on the statistics page too).

The figures below show a drop in spending of 29% from its peak in 2009/10 if one takes in to account inflation. This is likely to be an exaggeration, however, as spending on staff salaries has been frozen (or nearly so: it was 1% last year) for the last three years and staffing represents a large percentage of overall library costs. If one ignores inflation completely, the decline from peak is more than halved at 13.8%. The true answer will likely be somewhere between the two figures.

 

2002 to 2012 raw stats

Source: Cipfa figures. Percentage calculated using Bank of England calculator at http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/Pages/inflation/calculator/flash/default.aspx

If we accept the inflation adjustments, we can see that spending is fallen by around a fifth compared to the average of the good times before. We can also see that the drop has been 10% per year since the coalition government took over, which is really quite something to think about.  If one is being optimistic and completely ignores inflation, libraries are back to same level as the decade before. Aren’t statistics fun?

2002 to 2012 percentage of 2012

Total annual expenditure inflation adjusted as percentage of 2012 spending

Well, no, they’re not.  These statistics are a tragedy, marking the sorrowful ripping apart of the false dawn of public libraries whose final glories have only just finished in the opening of Manchester Central Library (admittedly, though, some of the money could have been better spend - for example at the Library of Birmingham).  Just look at that precipitous drop, which even the non-inflation adjusted chart below is showing. Bear in mind also that some authorities, notably in England, are doing markedly worse than others.  The figures are improved by showing that of the other constituent parts of the UK. 

2002 to 2012 chart showing all

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Ideas

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DCMS, Powys, Northern Ireland and a whole ton of maps

Editorial

A parliamentary question by Helen Goodman has revealed that libraries will received £93 million in grant in aid from the DCMS in 2015/16.  This appears to compares to £111 million in 2012/13. Another day and another news items suggesting deep cuts in a council’s library service: this time in Powys where two-thirds of their libraries are now considered under threat.  Gone are the days when Wales was seen as being more protected than England when it came to cuts.  Over in Northern Ireland, though, well done to a nice animated feature tooting the fact all libraries there have WiFi. To round off this survey of one news item from each part of the UK, I was delighted to see that the Scottish are providing free online access to many thousands of old English and Welsh maps.  That’s going to be really useful for a whole load of people.  Thank you kindly.

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