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

The Public Library Champion of the Year at work

Havering cuts, LibraryLab and the Public Library Champion of the Year


Some majorly bad news has come in from Havering where it has been announced that over a third of the library budget will be cut.  This looks set to be achieved via cuts to services (such as the ending of the reader development scheme and children’s programmes), job losses and a deep cut into opening hours at six branches.

Moving away from this sad news, the 1st September is the first day for applications to the Carnegie UK LibraryLab project. This looks to be a very good partnering/funding/training programme for the successful candidates who must put forward an innovative idea (not necessarily digital) for public libraries.  It’s the sort of thing that a national libraries development agency should be providing but, being we don’t have one of those, let’s make sure to make full use of this instead.

Finally, I’m pleased to say that Gareth Hatton, the Public Library Champion of the Year, has agreed to let the readers of Public Libraries News have an insight into the wonderful work he does, the benefits that public libraries can bring to businesses and the tools that he uses. There’s some good hints and tips in there.



Gareth Hatton, Public Library Champion of the Year

The Public Library Champion of the Year at work

The Public Library Champion of the Year at work

How long have you worked for Businessline?

Last year I celebrated 10 years since I originally started working for Businessline, which is a largely free and professional business information service provided on behalf of, as well as being based within, Wrexham Library. During this time the service has developed and evolved through the introduction of numerous new services and resources, attracting an ever increasing number of enquiries year on year.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

There’s two main aspects of my role at Businessline that I enjoy equally as much, the first of which is having the opportunity to both meet and work directly with a wide and diverse variety of clients on a daily basis, ranging from individuals considering starting their own business, through to existing SME’s, students and job seekers. It’s wonderful to be able to share a client’s enthusiasm and passion for their business, offering relevant support and information, through to the point where their initial idea comes to fruition, when they successfully launch their business. It can also be extremely rewarding, when for instance, an existing client informs us of their success in attracting new sales contracts, as a direct result of the information I’ve provided. As an example, through the information we provided, one of our clients was awarded the contract to supply all the bags for the 2012 Olympic Games. The range and number of enquiries we attract from sole traders through to larger more established companies provides a continued and interesting challenge, the outcome of which allows us to have a direct influence on the local economy, which is again very fulfilling and a constant motivation to providing a high level of customer service.

“part of my role that I particularly relish is being given the creative freedom to suggest, develop and implement new services and to organise events that will be beneficial to local businesses”

The other part of my role that I particularly relish is being given the creative freedom to suggest, develop and implement new services and to organise events that will be beneficial to local businesses. As well as re-launching the Businessline web-pages in 2011, which resulted in a 92.6% increase in unique visitor numbers and continued growth numbers in subsequent years after implementing further improvements. In recent years I’ve raised the necessary finances to organise a number of keynote speaker events, which have featured presentations from some of the country’s leading business speakers and have also launched a number of new services

Can you give an example or two of how you help new and growing businesses?

Starting a business can understandably be an exciting yet daunting experience. Through our subscriptions to numerous specialist and market leading resources, together with our knowledge of both the local business environment and the channels of support which are available, we’re able to provide a wide variety and in-depth range of services, specifically aimed at individuals looking to enter the world of self-employment, all of which try to make the process as easy as possible. During an initial consultation with a client aiming to start their own business, we provide a generic business start-up pack, which overviews the key considerations to be made, such as checking whether there may be any restrictions on running a business from the clients residential address, through to choosing the right legal status for their business, the legal issues to be aware of when choosing a name for the business and organisations that must be contacted. Having gained an understanding of the type of business a client wishes to start we then provide a Business Opportunity profile dedicated to their business idea, which details any trading issues, regulations and licences that may be applicable for the type of business they wish to start, together with any qualifications which must be held. As clients progress on their journey to launching their business we continue to provide support which includes sourcing suppliers, detailing local forms of marketing, providing direct e-mail, telesales or postal marketing lists in line with a clients needs, credit checking potential suppliers / business-to-business customers and much more.

Any tips on how to give good customer service?

Delivering a level of customer service that not only meets but exceeds clients expectations is what I very much strive to deliver, providing reliable, informative and complete responses to client enquiries as efficiently as possible.  The main customer service objective and goal I both set myself and adhere to that others may wish to take into consideration is to Be approachable, reliable and develop a professional relationship with each client: I feel its good practice to immediately try and build a relationship with a client whereby they feel comfortable to either return or contact us by email with any areas of uncertainty, questions or requests for additional information. Rather than viewing each person as making a single enquiry I like to instil a commitment to providing additional support as and when necessary, whereby a client is able to view Businessline as a valued asset to their business, which is capable of influencing their future prospects. I believe that its due to this approach that I still work closely with many businesses who I’ve now provided support to for circa 10 years, whilst also attracting many referrals and recommendations. Of course delivering reliable and valuable information in a timely fashion after each consultation is imperative to maintaining customer satisfaction.

Any particular websites or reference works you use the most / would recommend?

Among the specialist online resources we subscribe to the COBRA (Complete Business Reference Advisor) is one of our most valued, well utilised and reliable databases. Making use of this resource on a daily basis we’re able to supply up-to-date details on a comprehensive range of business areas. KeyNote from whom we source market research information is also a key resource and highly beneficial to both new business start-ups, existing SME’s and students. Within our business  library we also stock a number of specialist directories such as the “Showmans Directory” and “Events Guide” which are particularly beneficial to crafts businesses for instance looking for details of events at which they can exhibit, complete with direct contact details for the event co-ordinators. Finally, in terms of freely accessible websites again, there’s a vast range we utilise, ranging from the Licence Finder on the GOV.UK website, which highlights any licences a business may need, the NOMIS website for statistics relating to the labour market within the UK and the Valuation Office Agency website to help clients identify the rateable value and from this the rates payable for any premises they are considering renting. We also make regular use of industry specific websites such as the Nationwide Caterers Association etc as and when appropriate.


  • Carnegie Library Lab - “Applications for Carnegie Library Lab open 1 September. Read on to find out how you can get ahead of the game! Carnegie Library Lab is the Trust’s new programme of work aimed at enhancing innovation and leadership in public libraries. Applications will open 1 September 2014 with successful applicants beginning their eighteen-month journey with us in November 2014.”
  • Kate Mosse: my skill is storytelling, not literary fiction - Guardian. “Ever since the millennium, the e-revolution, plus the credit crunch, has sponsored all kinds of apocalyptic predictions about books, with regular bad news from the digital frontline. In America, even bestselling authors such as Malcolm Gladwell have taken to YouTube to denounce Big Brother, aka Amazon. In Britain, book-selling is said to be on the rocks, libraries doomed, the ebook all-conquering, with the Visigoths of online selling storming through Waterstone’s.”
  • Will digitisation destroy libraries or make us stronger? – Guardian. Head of Wellcome library argues that “Digitising books collaboratively allows libraries to share the burden of preservation without jealously hoarding the same stock.”.  Concern over passing resources to commercial entities such as Google who may cease provision at any time. “By embracing the opportunities digitisation offers to give more people more access to more books, libraries are ensuring that no one company or organisation can exert a monopoly. By making digitised books freely available, they ensure that no other library is disadvantaged and that there are as few obstacles to access as possible. Well-planned, collaborative digitisation can allow libraries to share the burden of preservation so we don’t all end up jealously hoarding the same dwindling stock of physical books.”


  • Auditor: Thousands misspent at Chattanooga Public Library as Director, top aides cited in report - Times Free Press (USA). “A city auditor’s investigation of Chattanooga Public Library leaders reveals cracks in the foundation of a two-year renaissance that has put the library at the forefront in the world of public libraries. City Auditor Stan Sewell’s report released to city officials Wednesday criticizes Chattanooga Public Library Director Corinne Hill for excess reimbursements for worldwide trips, including extra hotel nights on personal time, and states that her top two employees have been reported to the state for suspected fraud.”
  • Calgary public libraries poised to eliminate card fee – Calgary Herald (Canada). “Calgary Public Library’s board has approved a 2015 business plan that does away with membership fees. “The new CEO was quite surprised when he moved to Calgary when he had a fee, because free and equal access is an important principle for public libraries,” said Druh Farrell, a board member and city councillor. CEO Bill Ptacek, who arrived last year from the Seattle area, is leading a library rebranding and has targeted boosting the library’s membership levels ahead of the $245-million new central library opening in 2018.”
  • D.C. adds a social worker to library system to work with homeless patrons – Washington Post (USA). “Among the many roles for which public libraries are appreciated, there’s one that can be problematic: de facto day shelter for homeless people … Libraries in other cities have addressed homelessness in various ways. Philadelphia has a cafe and Seattle a coffee cart run by workers who were previously homeless; Dallas produces podcasts of interviews with its homeless regulars. But as far as Badalamenti knows, D.C. is only the second U.S. city to hire a library social worker, following San Francisco.”
  • Do “One Book” Programs Make a City Read? – Public CEO (USA). “the single book idea, in all its manifestations, shows a curious pivot in how public institutions put their energy into supporting book reading and discussion among residents: Before, in the traditional library system, it was the sprawling possibilities of thousands — millions — of books and periodicals offered to citizens. Today, it is one book at a time. Not that both strategies can’t or don’t exist. Ideas, books and knowledge are as much of a civic priority as they were when the public library was invented centuries ago. But it’s important to remember that no single program is a problem-solver. No literary city is curated by a single person or organization. It is not one “big idea” that counts, but an unending diversity of them.”
  • Eat At Chipotle Tuesday To Benefit D.C. Public Libraries – DCist (USA). “For the second year in a row, Chipotle will donate 50 percent of the proceeds from meals purchased at D.C. locations Tuesday to the city’s libraries. The promotion runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at every D.C. Chipotle. Diners need to show the below flyer, either on a phone or printed out, to make their meal benefit the D.C. Public Library Foundation. The burrito chain will donate up to $5,000.”
  • Ferguson Libraries Step Up to Serve Community in Turmoil - Library Journal (USA). “Last week, Ferguson Library created an “ad hoc school on the fly” while the public schools were closed, where children could be taught by working and retired teachers, with volunteers helping them manage the students. Grouped by their grade level, children learned math and science in the mornings and arts in the afternoons.”

“This is totally, exactly, right in the wheel house of what any library does, what every library does. We have a dramatic moment, and a dramatic circumstance caught the nation’s attention, but this is exactly what libraries do every day” Director Bonner, Ferguson Library.

  • Land of 10,000 lakes now has a floating library - Star Tribune (USA). “The Floating Library is a real library. It has books that can be checked out, and it has a librarian, and what more do you need? Well, for starters, you’ll need a canoe or a kayak or a paddleboat or water skis (on second thought, maybe not water skis) or some other floating device (an inner tube?) to get to the library, which is somewhere in the middle of Minneapolis’ Cedar Lake.”
  • Library lending drops, ebook demand soars - Dominion Post (New Zealand). “About 334 fewer items are being borrowed from the capital’s 12 libraries each day as fewer borrowers step through the doors. But while traditional borrowing is dropping, more are visiting the council’s website and there has been a 65 per cent surge in the number of ebooks being downloaded there.” … “Researchers don’t think the physical book will disappear, but libraries are adjusting – just like TV and film theatres have adjusted in the past – to a world where our clients have a wider range of different options for information and entertainment. Libraries still are a really important part of that offer”
  • New York Public Library – A Place for Everyone - Times Colonist (USA). A look at the history and facilities of one of the greatest libraries in the world.
  • News Challenge to explore role of libraries in the digital age - Knight Blog (USA). “We’re hoping to hear ideas for leveraging the assets that libraries have built: physical spaces open to anyone; professional staff trained in how to seek, retrieve and share information; and a legacy of aiding new readers, new entrepreneurs and new Americans. In recent years we’ve seen libraries leverage the Internet and digital approaches for education, entrepreneurship, the arts and “making.” In a digital age we see libraries–public, university, archival, virtual–as key for improving Americans’ ability to know about and to be involved with what takes place around them.”
  • Open a book in the open air: 8 outdoor libraries and bookstores – From the grapevine (global). Includes a mobile beach library and a garden library.

UK news by local authority

  • Barking and Dagenham – Barking mobile app launched to get more youngsters writing - Barking and Dagenham Post. “A new social media app aimed at getting more young people into creative writing is about to launch in Barking. Created by social enterprise Brighter Steppings, on Pickering Road, Storybrite allows users to read and post their own stories in 100-word chapters. Aiming to tackle an apparent decline in writing interest among the younger generation, a team of youngsters, met each week at Dagenham Library to discuss the appearance and design, while developing their own creative abilities. A whopping 120 people downloaded the app in its first two weeks and Brighter Steppings co-founder Seun Oshinaike was even invited to appear on satellite station the Islam Channel, to talk about the project.
  • Birmingham – Borrowing and visitor numbers double at the Library of Birmingham in first year – BBC. “People have borrowed about 316,000 books, DVDs and CDs since the new library opened on 3 September 2013. Campaigners against council cuts said the money would have been better spent on revamping community libraries. The number of items borrowed represented a near 100% increase since 2011-12 at the old Central Library. More than 2.7 million people visited the library in its first year, compared to the 1.2 million who went to the Central Library in 2011-12, the last full year it was open. At that point, the Central Library was the second-most visited library in England behind Norwich, which had 1.34 million visitors that year. Figures released by the city council meanwhile showed membership had increased at the new library by 140% from the old Central Library, to a total of more than 250,000 people.” … “But Bob Whitehead from the Community Against the Cuts group said the £189m spent on the building would have been better invested refurbishing local library services in places such Kings Norton and Northfield. “This was basically a prestige project,” he said.”
  • Derbyshire – Thousands in South Derbyshire could lose mobile libraries – Burton Mail. “Derbyshire County Council is proposing to scrap all but two of the services that currently tour the district, which would leave thousands of people without access to a library. Of the 383 communities which currently have access to a mobile library service in South Derbyshire, 240 would lose it should the proposal be accepted.”
  • East Lothian – Library hours cut in £20k council savings bid - Edinburgh Evening News. “Seven libraries will have their hours reduced from December in a bid to help trim £20,000 from council budgets. East Linton, Musselburgh and Port Seton will lose two-and-a-half hours each week, with Gullane and Port Seton set to be hit by three hours. Longniddry and Haddington libraries will also be affected, with officials cutting opening by two hours and 90 minutes per week respectively.” See also Budget savings to hit East Lothian libraries – East Lothian News.
  • Essex – Newport Free Grammar School teen is helping others teach children how to read – Saffron Walden Reporter. “Joe Sivell, who has just finished his GCSEs at Newport Free Grammar School, spent three consecutive summers volunteering at Saffron Walden library, where he helped children with the Library Summer Reading Challenge. The 16-year-old was asked by his supervisor to share some pointers with new volunteers – and the tips were so good that the Reading Agency has decided to use them on its website to help other volunteers. “I hoped I could cut to the chase,” Joe said about his technique. “I condensed all of that information into 10 top tips that I thought would help a new volunteer to fit into the role quickly and easily. I hoped that the tips would simplify, and perhaps demystify, the requirements of the job.”
  • Havering – Council budget: Services at risk as Havering Council aims to make drastic spending cuts – Romford Recorder. “The councils proposals, which will be scrutinised by fellow councillors and the public, include slashing the library services budget by more than £1million and the early help and troubled families service by £900,000.” … ” On top of the £1.138million slashed from libraries both Queen’s Theatre and Havering Music School will see their grants reduced by £200,000.” see also Council budget: Ex-libraries chief slams ‘vandalism’ - Romford Recorder.

“Cllr Roger Ramsey, leader of Havering Council, said: “Our starting point was that we are not willing to close any libraries. We have refurbished most, just opened a new library in Rainham and we are having a new one built in Harold Hill, so we had to think of another way.” The Conservative administration is proposing to keep Romford, Hornchurch, Harold Hill and Rainham libraries open six days a week, but reduce the opening hours of the other six to three-and-a-half days a week. Former councillor Andrew Curtin, who was responsible for Havering’s libraries until May, said: “Already I have been contacted by residents who want to know what they can do to stop this act of vandalism.”

  • North East Lincolnshire – Plan launched to help save two threatened libraries in North East Lincolnshire – Grimsby Telegraph. “But now, a social enterprise has submitted plans to take over the running of Humberston library and the award-winning Grant Thorold library. The man behind the venture, who does not wish to be named, said he hopes he can also give new life to Scartho library. As reported, the St Giles Avenue centre had also been earmarked for closure in October but has been granted a stay of execution until “at least January” after Grimsby Institute pledged to continue running it along with other services.”
  • Sheffield – Councillor insists Walkley ‘will have library’Star. “Confidential negotiations are continuing regarding Walkley library, where two business plans were submitted to take it over, one from the community and another from The Forum Group of bars. Library campaigners and volunteers are undergoing training so they are ready to take over on Monday, September 29.”
  • Sheffield – ‘Set up to fail’ – Sheffield library lease fears weeks before takeover – Star. “Campaigners who have worked tirelessly to save local facilities from closure were presented with three-year leases, which meant they would not have been able to secure external funds, rather than longer ones they expected. The Town Hall chief responsible for libraries insists leases will be ‘tailored’ to meet group needs. Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wrote to the council to raise fears libraries were being made ‘unviable’.”
  • Windsor – Extra opening hours for Royal Borough libraries – Local Berkshire. “The Royal Borough’s cabinet was last night expected to approve plans to make permanent a year-long trial which provided 14.5 extra opening hours a week across four libraries. The extra opening hours have been on offer at the Windsor, Maidenhead, Cox Green and Sunningdale container libraries after a council-run volunteer recruitment drive.” see also Sunday opening scheme at Royal Borough libraries made permanent - Windsor Observer.

“This really is a fantastic story when other authorities are closing their libraries. Perhaps we could sell our expertise to those local authorities who don’t do it as well as we do?! “It will of course take a little bit of time to bed in smaller areas” Cllr Quick, Windsor [Windsor is in one of the most prosperous areas in the country and has had one of the least reductions in spending - Ed.]


Jacqueline Cooper, Public Librarian of the Year

So what does it take to be Public Librarian of the Year?



An interview with Jacqueline Cooper, Librarian, West Berkshire Libraries and Public Librarian of the Year 2014 

My thanks to Jacquie for agreeing to share what she does in libraries. This will be the first of a short series of interviews with those who won the awards.  So, over to Jacquie …

Jacqueline Cooper, Public Librarian of the Year

Jacqueline Cooper, Public Librarian of the Year

“I love the sheer variety of my current role – a mix of stock work, service development, front line customer services, budgeting, marketing and promotional activities, staff management and more. I’ve been lucky enough to lead on a number of projects over the years, including staff training for the introduction of a new LMS, a partial refurbishment at Newbury Library and introduction of RFID and self service, and most recently the development and delivery of an ACE-funded project to encourage arts in libraries, which I’m told was partly what led to my nomination for the Public Librarian of the Year award.

In this, with fantastic help from West Berkshire’s Arts Development Officer, we commissioned professional artists to work with targeted groups in community venues and libraries over 6 months (25 outreach sessions) and we also ran a 7 week ‘LibraryFest’ between World Book Day and World Book Night, which included professional shows, author talks, digital workshops and a range of arts and crafts activities for all ages, introducing people to new skills and encouraging new members into the library (a total of 31 public events and a further 10 closed events for groups such as schools). We were particularly successful in reaching a number of mental health groups in the area and these are contacts we hope to develop further over the coming year. This also led to closer working with colleagues in West Berks Public Health, plus our participation in a Dementia Action Alliance launch event in the town centre of Newbury.

These types of activities, where we take the library service to events outside our buildings, can bring valuable feedback on the major concerns of local residents, show us opportunities to help in ways that other organisations cannot and create important links with other groups. For instance, at the DAA event I began chatting to participating volunteers from our local Citizens Advice centre. It wasn’t long before they were telling me about the overwhelming demands they are receiving from job seekers, who now need to make online job applications in order to receive benefits and yet are frequently unable to use a computer sufficiently well to make this practical. In turn, I was able to tell them about a new post we are establishing which will offer 1 to 1 help for people in these situations. We talked about what exactly is needed and how best to let people know. A lot can be achieved in a 15 minute informal discussion like this.

“I’ve always spent my ‘spare’ time working with numerous community organisations”

As you’ll gather, I’ve not been as focussed on public library work over the years as many of my colleagues and, apart from when I was involved with IAML(UK), I haven’t held any positions within our professional organisations. I’ve always spent my ‘spare’ time working with numerous community organisations, usually on events management of various sorts. It was always my intention, though, to return to full time, paid employment once my children had left home. But it was not to be. With fantastically bad timing, I met the common place service cuts of recent years coming in the opposite direction. Five years ago we had 6 full time equivalent librarians in West Berks; now we have 3 and none of us works full time.

As a result, in recent years I’ve often had paid work outside libraries as well and perhaps this has given me a different perspective. There’s always a chance, when we’re considering what libraries should be doing, that librarians end up talking only to each other. But if libraries are changing, perhaps librarians are, too. I’ve worked with so many different people, in the private sector and in various voluntary and community groups in varied capacities, that whenever I send someone an email outside of work, it always starts something like “Wearing my XXX hat…”, since it could be one of many! The overlap is useful and actually I’m never quite ‘off duty’ so far as library work is concerned. For instance, I am a member of our town council’s working group looking at commemorations for World War One across the district. I’m representing Newbury Choral Society at this, as part of a committee involved in putting together a programme for an autumn concert with a First World War theme. But I was also able to tell the working group that West Berks Libraries will have a display of resources relating to WWI at Newbury Library throughout September. It’s really a question of finding out what’s going on, what local people are talking about, what they need, what concerns them and being involved with them.

“There’s always a chance, when we’re considering what libraries should be doing, that librarians end up talking only to each other. But if libraries are changing, perhaps librarians are, too.”

Since the PLY award stressed my community work, this is what I’ve told you a bit about here. But actually I think public libraries should always be looking towards the national picture as well; both, once again, to be aware of major public concerns and areas where we can help, but also in order to promote a coherent picture of a 21st century public library service. Our role in assisting those who find it hard to cope with a general move towards ‘digital by default’ (such as the job seekers mentioned above) is important everywhere. Likewise the need to communicate in different ways with library users, especially through social media, is common place – your ‘community’ surely includes a virtual one now. I think that national schemes such as the Summer Reading Challenge and Books on Prescription are great ways to show people what public libraries can do everywhere; and it is fantastic for us to have professionally produced resources and evidence for the effectiveness of these services provided for us by The Reading Agency. I hope we’ll see more of these across-the-board initiatives in the future and then it is up to us as librarians to build relationships with our local schools, GPs and medical practitioners, job centres and other organisations, in order to show them how what we do can benefit everyone in our local communities.

You asked me for any ‘tricks of the trade’ when it comes to positioning public libraries at the centre of their communities. I’m not sure there are any. The conversations are already happening. We just need to join in and then the rest should follow.”

“You asked me for any ‘tricks of the trade’ when it comes to positioning public libraries at the centre of their communities. I’m not sure there are any. The conversations are already happening. We just need to join in and then the rest should follow.”

UK national news

  • Malorie Blackman faces racist abuse after call to diversify children’s books – Guardian. Children’s laureate Malorie Blackman has vowed that “hell will freeze over before I let racists and haters silence me” after facing an outpouring of racist abuse following her call for more diversity in children’s books. The attacks began after the award-winning author spoke to Sky News about diversity in children’s literature, saying that although “you want to escape into fiction … and read about other people, other cultures, other lives, other planets”, there is “a very significant message that goes out when you cannot see yourself at all in the books you are reading”. [If you're a librarian, perhaps you can purchase a children's book with a non white character - if you can find one - in support. Ed.]
  • Motion: There is No Longer a Need for Public Libraries – Debating Matters. Resource for schools on public libraries. Looks at the main issues and arguments for and against public libraries, with links and extensive background reading.
  • The Guardian view on the loss of public libraries – Guardian. “We used to understand that access to the culture was an unglamorous but essential social good. What happened to that vision?”.  88 comments at time of reading. “No one expects things to get better, or even to stop getting worse. But it did not need to happen like this. The collapse marks a failure of will and imagination not an inevitability.” … “This is not a technical problem. Libraries are as well equipped as anyone to distribute digital media and some have done this the right way.” see also The evolving role of libraries in the digital age - The Guardian which includes letters in response to the article including one from volunteer-run Friern Barnet Library.

“This vision of public libraries as an essential part of a functioning literate nation was lost here before we realised it was gone. In the great general turning from the state we failed to understand that one of the things that taxes ought to fund is a general, unglamorous and reliable access to culture for everyone. Libraries could have provided a means of collective payment for digital goods. They could have paid for electronic access to journals for everyone, had they been properly and imaginatively funded. But this would require a government committed to a vision of human flourishing that was wider and deeper than the hellish paradise of a global shopping mall.”


  • A Brooklyn Librarian Will Now Make You a Personalized Reading List, and You Don’t Even Have to Put on Pants - Village Voice (USA). “This has been, without a doubt, an excellent summer for New York’s libraries. In Manhattan, the Stephen A. Schwartzman branch set up a beautiful outdoor reading room that was open for the past two weeks before closing on the 22nd. A group of seafaring booklovers announced that they’ll launch a floating library aboard the Lilac Museum Steamship for a month come September. And now, in a less temporary and totally genius move, a group of hardworking librarians across the Brooklyn Public Library system will make you a personalized reading list. You don’t have to leave the house, dress yourself, or talk to another human being to put in a request for one. The future is here, and it is glorious. The BookMatch program launched quietly about two weeks ago. It’s completely free: just fill out the online form telling the nice librarians what you like to read, and they’ll come back to you in about a week with a list of five or six recommendations. You can even specify what type of format you prefer: ebook, for example, or a nice paper book if you’re a normal, civilized human being.”
  • Fears in the field as CSIRO shuts library doors - Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). “The print collection was reduced by 7.6 kilometres last financial year and another five kilometres would be assessed for duplication or obsolescence before the residue is transferred to the supply centre at Black Mountain, Canberra, a CSIRO spokesman said.

    Former Great Barrier Reef Marine Park librarian Suzie Davies said: “They have a warehouse, and what they can’t keep, they’ll chuck. The staff [at the supply centre] won’t be expert in the various fields, and it will be impossible to build up relationships with scientists,” Ms Davies said.  “And no matter how hard they Google, they won’t find what they want.”

  • Floating library - Floating Library (USA). “The Floating Library is a pop-up, mobile device-free public space aboard the historic Lilac Museum Steamship berthed at Pier 25 on the Hudson River in New York City for September 6- October 3, 2014. The people-powered library is initiated by artist Beatrice Glow and brings together over seventy participants to fortify a space for critical cultural production by pushing boundaries under the open skies that are conducive to fearless dreaming.The ship’s main deck will be transformed into an outdoor reading lounge to offer library visitors a range of reading materials from underrepresented authors, artist books, poetry, manifestoes, as well as book collection, that, at the end of the lifecycle of the project, will be donated to local high school students with demonstrated need. Ongoing art installations include a Listening Room that will feature new works by six sound artists in response to literature, site-specific paper rope swings, The Line, by Amanda Thackray, and Leading Lights by Katarina Jerinic in the Pilot House.”
  • How Streaming Media Could Threaten the Mission of Libraries – Chronicle (USA). “The licensing model stands to become the norm as physical media get phased out, says Mr. Hoek. “This isn’t just a music problem,” he says. Anything made of “ones and zeroes” can be kept on a leash. Librarians see this state of affairs as an “existential crisis.” That is how a group of them put it in a summary for a grant they have received from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to study the possible effects of a digital regime. “As more and more books, videos, and sound recordings are licensed and distributed through online-only means, the amount of materials available for libraries to collect is shrinking,” wrote the grantees.”


  • Inspiration, Knowledge and Support: Libraries Promoting Economic Wellbeing – 2 October (0945 – 1545), The REC Centre, Towcester Road, Far Cotton, Northampton NN4 8LG.  “Can public libraries continue to be prosperity centres – institutions where everyone who wishes to can find inspiration, knowledge and support for self-improvement and to open up the kind of life opportunities otherwise not available to them? For many users in the early days of public libraries it was this access to opportunity for self-help and advancement that made libraries so important.  How can we ensure public libraries continue to promote economic wellbeing in the 21st Century? This one-day conference brings together a range of contributions, including four different case studies from library services that are actively addressing this challenge – plus the national perspective from the British Library.   There will also be plenty networking and discussion built into the programme.
  • Joining the Dots conference - “Do you manage people?  Do you have to make decisions? Are you looking for inspiration or new ideas?  If you are, then don’t miss out on the Lancashire Libraries Joining the Dots conference in Lancaster on 14 and 15 October.  Come and hear Paul McGee (SUMO Guy) deliver our opening keynote, then attend your choice of workshops, a gala dinner and a chance to win an iPad Air.  Day two includes visits to some of Lancashire’s libraries and the closing keynote will be delivered by Wayne Hemingway MBE.  You’ll also have the opportunity to visit our industry exhibition – all this, including accommodation and meals for £249.00! The programme and registration details are on our website at www.lancashire.gov.uk/joiningthedots. Bookings will close soon so make the most of this opportunity to be a part of this brand new conference.
  • #uklibchat “is running a live twitter chat on Tuesday 3rd September 6.30 – 8.30pm BST. The chat is about Accessibility and libraries. How accessible are we and to whom? How can libraries support wider accessibility? Join us! The agenda is here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wmdwXYBGZFb_FwWA8fYPMUTgcI7yNxKgC1kivwk-i3U/edit  – please help to shape it by adding your questions. You can also find out more about #uklibchat and how to join a twitter chat on our webpages, and see past summaries and feature articles.”

UK local news by authority

  • Cornwall – Cornwall Council bombarded by a barrage of criticism – Cornish Guardian / Letters. First letter: “At a time when public loos are being closed and mobile library service cuts are being made, I find it absolutely astonishing that, a couple of weeks ago, this household received three letters, one for each family member, requiring us to re-register to vote.”.  Second letter: “What now surprises me in these days of impending savage budget reductions (a little under £200 million) was the apparent lack of a fourth option to the three described by Councillor Cole: that being the closure of those static library buildings which have, over the past several years, seen continued reductions in usage. The closure of underused libraries and the resultant savings may have allowed for the increase in the mobile service, thereby not only maintaining the rural areas’ lifeline, but allowing the use of mobile services within the area of any closed library, maintaining a reduced but sustainable service across the county.”

“I visited the new library which opened its doors today. It is wonderful with two floors of books, a café, computers, a children’s’ area, a quiet reading area and meeting rooms. Everyone is thrilled with their new library and the staff are delightful and most helpful. Library users were also impressed with the impressive self service points and the enthusiastic staff helping them to use them. And it has 33,000 new books to borrow. One of the library assistants said she was thrilled to be working in the new library. Many congratulations to the staff of East Sussex Library Authority for providing a wonderful library for the residents of Seaford and the local Sussex Downs villages. The official opening is expected to be in October.” Desmond Clarke on visiting the new Seaford Library in East Sussex.

  • Hampshire – Emsworth Library provides excellent value’ – readers hit back at proposed move – News. “Hampshire County Council is proposing to move it into Emsworth Community Centre to reduce costs. Mr Smyth made a Freedom of Information request and the response shows that, based on the large number of people visiting the library, the facility is actually offering value. Last year there were 150,431 visits to the library. Comparable libraries, such as Lee-on-the-Solent, had only 43,561 visits, with 31,961 at Bishop’s Waltham. Overall, there were 83 visits every hour, compared to 33 at Lee-on-the-Solent and 27 at Bishop’s Waltham.”
  • Kirklees – 80 residents rally to save Skelmanthorpe Library as top councillor speaks of challenges Kirklees Council faces - Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Cuts in services will affect us all and I did not become involved in politics and public service to make anyone redundant or take away services from the residents of Kirklees. It’s not what I believe or what I want, but the present government is waging a war on northern local councils and the public are the victims. “The next step forward is to hold a meeting with those members of the 80-plus audience who wished to look at alternative ways of protecting the library service in the village. It’s hoped that this will be in the next few weeks.”
  • Kirklees – Kirklees library plan leaves me in total disbelief – Mirfield Reporter. “So we are training the library staff to deal and help with vulnerable people who may have been a victim of crime but do not feel emotionally strong enough to visit the police. Maybe they would be frightened of going to the police. That is a really good idea. It must cost a fair amount to give these great people the training to deal with vulnerable people at a time of need and no doubt we the tax payers are paying for it. I am sure that they would have had to go through the Disclosure and Barring Service and by law they will need an enhanced DBS, which again we have paid for. This sounds great and all worth while until you remember that our Council and its leader want to close all but two of our libraries!”
  • Poole - Borough of Poole to offer new apprenticeships – Blackmore Vale. “The Council currently employs 16 apprentices across its services and will have apprenticeship vacancies across a number of areas including libraries, conservation and natural habitats, web editing …”
  • Staffordshire – Recruitment slashed at Staffordshire County Council - Express and Star. “Staffordshire County Council will only replace what it calls ‘essential’ staff for the coming year and has halted recruitment of jobs it classes as non-essential … volunteers are being drafted in to run 24 of the county’s 43 libraries in a bid to save £1.3 million.” with “the future of some libraries and youth centres still not known”
  • Stoke on Trent – Volunteers launch ‘library’ in Abbey Hulton after cuts - Sentinel. “Volunteers are in the process of setting up the service at St John’s Welcome Centre in Abbey Hulton. The lending-service will hold around 500 books to start with, which are being provided by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s library service. And the books on offer will change on a six weekly basis as 10 per cent of the stock is exchanged for new novels – based on what residents want to read.”
jenny peachey

Fit for the future: five things to take away from IFLA Birmingham

I was unable to get to the satellite IFLA conference in Birmingham but I heard many good things about it. I was therefore delighted when Dr Jenny Peachey, Policy Officer at the Carnegie UK Trust agree to write something for Public Libraries News on the main points she took away from it.  Have a read of it below, it’s worth it.

Fit for the Future: five things to take away from IFLA Birmingham

jenny peachey

Dr Jenny Peachey, Policy Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

Written by Jenny Peachey, Policy Officer, Carnegie UK Trust

The IFLA 2014 satellite conference sparkled: from high-tech mobile libraries that serve as spaces where senior citizens reminisce and teens receive sex ed, to displays and book clubs that bridge the physical and digital divide, to the first all-digital library. It bubbled with examples of how to engage communities, fizzed with ideas of how to support learning, literacy, social relationships and access to information – but most of all, it effervesced with a passion for public libraries and with positivity. Here are five things I took away from the conference.

1. Innovation is only fresh for a moment 

Providing a contrast to an overarching concern with digital and high-tech, Corinne Hill from Chattanooga Public Library informed us that 3D printers have been moved from the ‘test zone’ to the ‘regular’ section of Chattanooga library. Meanwhile, gigantic hand operated weaving looms have been brought in. When asked how she made innovative ideas come to fruition, Corinne’s (paraphrased) response was: ‘be proactive, build a network, be comfortable with losing control, and keep moving – innovation has a shelf-life!’

2. How to integrate digital and physical 

A presentation on ZLB Topic rooms in Berlin revealed how to blend librarianship with ‘creative civic engagement.’ These rooms combine elaborate book displays with films and online resources (twitter and the news) displayed on screen. These curated displays bring together in-depth and up-to-speed information around themes – Israel after the election, poor and rich, the Eurozone. Meanwhile, book clubs can bring people together physically and, via skype, across a country or an international border. These online book clubs can help the socially excluded and rurally isolated feel part of a community.

3. People and a sense of ownership are key to successful change

Time and time again, presenters emphasised the value of ‘their amazing staff’. Staff define the culture of the library, transform a service into an experience and imbue a building with spirit and heart. The message to individuals having to change the nature of their library service was to engage their staff in this journey as far as possible and not forget ‘the hearts and minds’. Equally, conference attendees were reminded not to relegate their communities to mere guests, but treat them as key stakeholders with whom libraries should work with rather than for. Ownership, we were reminded, is a process.

4. Skills

Some presentations and conversations touched upon the skills and qualities required to deliver the public library of the future. Skills identified included working in partnership, business management, and digital knowledge and literacy. The opposing abilities of collaborating versus competing, and controlling versus creating, were also lauded as important capacities to be identified and nurtured in (different!) members of staff.

5. General trends but specific solutions

An Independent Senior Adviser and Consultant from Denmark observed that though it is possible to identify general trends in how public libraries are developing, the solution for each library must always be specific: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Just as assets, needs, wants and communities differ, so too must the specificities or form of libraries’ offers.



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Australia wins: 10 beautiful Oz Libraries and the best new one in the world


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“Apart from being vomited on, the job is not without its challenges”



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City of Philistines, Ditching Dewey and Grumpy Librarians.


The main news story over the last few days have been the cuts to Liverpool’s libraries.  Alan Gibbons calls it changing Liverpool from the City of Culture to the City of Philistines.  Other news includes several novel ideas, with the one that first caught my eye being Google Street View – something which has been bubbling around for a little while now. The other idea is forgetting Dewey (how dare I! The blasphemy of turning one’s back on an American from a century ago!) and modelling the bookshelves around the user not the stock.  This has been credited with a doubling of usage in the Netherlands but that will have little push with librarians elsewhere – after all, this is inertia we’re talking about.  Heck, we’d have to relabel the spines of our books.  The danger is that on this subject we’re like the grumpy librarians in this article who blame the users for messing up the stock, when the whole purpose of the stock is the user.



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Librarians of the Year


It’s great to see public librarians being recognised for their exceptional service.  Well done to those who received the awards and for all those others who were nominated.  This is the first year that the awards have taken place and I hope that this becomes a firm tradition, with benefits including improving the standing of the winners in their communities and also for the profession as a whole.


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Carnegie UK Trust says: Get Your Innovation On


Carnegie UK Trust have been having a good month or two.  They recently produced the excellent “Speaking Volumes” advocacy tool and now they have announced more details of a £200,000 library innovation fund that intends to “future-proof public libraries”, develop innovative ideas and, by the by, encourage innovation and leadership skills amongst library staff. In these days of traditional funding cuts, a mass (often forced) emigration from the profession and an increased questioning of the library role by those who hold the purse strings, this is to be strongly welcomed.  The challenge for those applying - and for the Trust itself – is not be distracted by glamorous but irrelevant ideas but ones which may make a real difference to the UK public library service.  Don’t get distracted by the shiny, people.  Think about things which have potential for the long term.  We, literally, can’t afford not to.


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Liverpool sinking, stock floating … and a request for information


The big news is that the Liverpool Mayor’s recommendation to the Council is that the city loses more than of its libraries. People are not impressed and, to be fair, neither is the mayor – he says that due to Austerity programme, he had no choice and that “We’ve tried to come up with a proposal that obviously everyone’s going to hate.  It’s not something that we feel, you know, people are going to welcome”.  Well, no one has welcomed it yet and no one is likely to.  It may also be that not all of the problem is down to the Government spending programmes, although a lot of it undoubtedly is. The cut may also have at least something to do with the £50 million spent on refurbishing Liverpool Central Library, notably the high interest rates inevitably attached to such a PFI scheme.  It’s a beautiful Central Library alright.  However, only 40% of those consulted say that they will use it if their local branch closes so it’s beauty may be lost on the local people of Liverpool.

In these times of tighter budgets, we should be looking at all ways of reducing spending.  One of the ideas I’ve seen raised from time to time is the idea of dynamic or floating stock, where stock has no “home” branch as such.  Such a system can save on transport and staff time but I’ve seen no real research done on the system in practice.  I’ve put together a brief description, pros and cons and a case study on a new page here if you’re interested.

I have been asked if I know of any requests for interventions in library cuts made to the DCMS/Secretary of State. We already know about the requests in Brent, Isle of Wight, Lewisham, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Doncaster and Bolton but would be very interested to hear of any more.  Thank you.

Please email ianlibrarian@live.co.uk with news, comments, ideas or queries. Thank you.

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Access to Research: 20% of libraries fail to take up free resource. Why?


I was surprised to hear that after a full six months, the free online “Access to Research” resource has not yet been taken up by one in five of library services.  Why? It’s free, after all. At the time of the launch, I had reservations about the scheme but concluded that a starving man should take any crumb: well, it seems that a significant minority of libraries won’t.  On the face of it, it’s a no-brainer: it offers ten million academic articles at minimum hassle (you sign up – that’s it) and it’s free.  Mind you, it’s only be used by a pitiful 14,500 individual users in its first six months so it’s obviously not that good despite the positive spin being put to it.  14,500?  Many individual town libraries see more users than that in a month.  So, what’s going on? Well, it’s not been heavily publicised. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been given as much publicity as anything else but there’s just not enough money in public libraries for it to make an impact.  Also, it’s only available, weirdly, by physically visiting a branch rather than via a computer at home.  Some even think it’s a ploy by publishers in order to deny further access.

Other reasons for what appears to be a low take-up rate may be that it is, by the nature of the beast, not a popular tool but one for academics only.  It’s also just a pilot and, times being as they are, many authorities may be concentrating on more pressing things (like keeping the doors open) than an online academic resource.  I understand the Society of Chief Librarians will be reminding the last fifth of what they’re missing as well so that will partly make up for the low-level (because it’s a free service, there is no money) publicity behind the launch in the first place.  In addition, the Publisher’s Licensing Society (PLS), the organisation behind Access, does have some resources (posters, FAQ booklets, desktop icons, microsite etc) to further  things along.

Well, whatever the reason for the (what to me at least) appears to be low take-up so far, public libraries are going to lose the resource after two years if it is not a success.  As Joanna Waters from the PLS has told me: “A final point to note is that this is a pilot, and if after two years the service is deemed as not fulfilling its criteria by stakeholders it will be reviewed as to whether we should continue to offer the service. It would be a shame obviously, as it could be a useful way to extend access to academic materials, for free, to those who would otherwise find it difficult to get hold of them, and of course it is currently another free service to add to the library offering.”.  So, does your library service offer Access? If not, make enquiries as to why not.  It may be they simply missed it.  If they do offer it then make sure that it is being promoted.  If the library services has taken it up, promoted it but it’s not working so well, is it because the service is not good enough - and, if so, how can it be improved? Let’s tell them. Because heaven knows public libraries need all the help they can get, and it’d be a shame if we fail to take the free opportunity up with both hands.



  • Business loyalty card for library customers and community shops - Aldeburgh Library, Suffolk.

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