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22nd April 2014

News

  • A library ‘solution’ without the staff! – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “Now there are many who would argue that volunteer-led libraries are basically staff-less and that the whole concept is not a new one with Denmark, Taipei, US and Ireland leading the way but one thing that worries me is that this ‘new’ model will be used by councils purely as a cost cutting exercise.  You’ve got to remember that the public library sector especially in England is incredibly fragmented with no real leadership, standards or strategy, with each local authority cutting, closing and divesting until a legal challenge lands on the desk of the borough solicitor.”
  • Common Libraries: prototyping the library of the future, today - OuiShare Fest Awards / Common Libraries. One minute video showing work by Common Libraries in creating Maker Spaces / Hack Spaces in libraries.
  • Libraries, we have a £100,000 fund to help you hire Apprentices - London Apprenticeship Company. “The fund will be used to support the creation of the following types of Apprenticeships: • Information assistants • Library assistants • Archive assistants • Search room assistants • Learning support assistants • Archive Co-ordinators • Records Co-ordinators • Information Services Coordinators • Library Services Supervisors. If you would like to find out more about the scheme and how you can benefit please complete this Expression of Interest form and we’ll get right back to you.”
  • Public & Mobiles Library Group Survey – Leon’s Library Blog.  “What’s startling is that after four years of such advocacy, highlighting the value of libraries extensively, not least through Cilip and SCL, and websites such as Voices for the Library, that colleagues still think this approach actually works when set against the politics of austerity, neo-liberal ideology, and the avowed intention of the government to shrink the state. When even an award winning service like Devon is targeted with substantial cuts you have to wonder at the political naiveté of such a stance.”

I wonder how public campaigners will respond when they see the results of this survey. I suspect there will be many ‘head in hands’ moments and a lot of disappointment as it seems that library staff, while professing to be concerned about cuts and closures, appear as a profession to want to do little about it, or even worse, leave it to the public to campaign on our behalf … Unfortunately, perhaps the fact that one of our greatest strengths as a profession; the willingness to cooperate and share, to be team players, has left us unable to cope in more adversarial conditions

  • Under 12s challenged to Finish The Comic: Competition created by The Phoenix comic for The Reading Agency – Reading Agency (press release). “Would be graphic novel artists and junior cartoonists have a chance of putting their work before the creators of The Phoenix, the weekly comic founded by publisher David Fickling and featuring work by top UK illustrators including Sarah McIntyre, Neill Cameron, Jamie Smart and Dave Shelton. A spring competition being run by The Phoenix and national charity The Reading Agency’s website for children, summerreadingchallenge.org.uk asks youngsters to complete a comic strip adventure started by Bunny vs Monkey creator Jamie Smart. The entries will be judged by the editor of The Phoenix and a panel of contributors. A year’s subscription to the comic is the first prize. The competition is free to enter and the closing date is 15 May. Full competition information can be found at: http://summerreadingchallenge.org.uk/competition/spring-finish-the-comic-competition

International

  • Elending Landscape Report 2014 - ALIA (Australia/Global). “The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has published a “worldwide e-lending landscape report”, commissioned by Brussels-based Civic Agenda. Their goal, to identify “public library-led initiatives to secure e-books for borrowers”.
  • 20 modern libraries from around the world - Ebook Friendly. “the libraries are shaping the way we learn things and enjoy books in the digital age. They offer access to books in every possible form and format. You can visit them in real, but you can also visit them via internet – not only by checking out their websites, but also by taking a virtual tour using Google Street View. The purpose of this post is to encourage you to visit the library near you. You will probably not have a chance to go to Colombia to read for hours in Biblioteca España, but that library you are passing every day on your way to school or work, will also welcome you – with a magic of books and the charm of the librarian.”

Local news

  • Brent – Writers Maggie Gee and Nick Rankin back plans for community-run library in Kensal Rise - Brent and Kilburn Times. “Two novelists who actively campaigned to save Kensal Rise Library have thrown their support behind plans to open a community-run reading room in its former site. Dr Maggie Gee OBE and Nick Rankin back proposals by developers to give Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) two-thirds of the building’s ground floor space to use rent free.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Library service staffing plan comes under fire - Chester First. “Cllr Louise Gittins said it was the first time the councillors had been made aware of any changes to librarians job descriptions. She said: “My worry is this will get pushed through without proper consultation with residents and ward members. This needs to be looked at properly. “One concern I have is the numbers of staff being reduced and what is happening to our qualified librarians. We have been given no job description information.” Cllr Samantha Dixon said changes were happening “under the radar” … “Tory member Neil Sullivan defended the plans. saying libraries needed to change when IT was changing so quickly. He said: “In my mind it makes sense for librarians to be doing more of what they are good at rather than managing buildings and teams. There is no proposal here that all our libraries will close. We are changing the service, not closing the libraries.”
  • Devon – Saving Devon’s libraries for our, and their, future - ITV. Two minute television slot on the threatened libraries. “The number of people using libraries has been falling, but there’s no doubting the support they have … We’ll keep them open. We’ll keep them open as much as we possibly can, through social enterprises, charities, volunteers. We’re looking and listening to every idea that comes out and I think it’s not a one size fits all situation. There’ll be 28 different solutions I’m absolutely positive.”
  • Lincolnshire – libraries: Campaigners received reply from Prime Minister David Cameron - Lincolnshire Echo. “the group must guard against complacency and told the local authority it was not too late to do a u-turn on their controversial decision.”
  • Lincolnshire – Reply from Downing St for Save Lincs Libraries - Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “It is pleasing to know that he has taken notice of our campaign and the issues have been passed forward, alongside our submission to the new Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport. However although we have cross-party support for the campaign we must not be complacent. We need the ongoing support of the general public if we are to keep Lincolnshire’s much needed libraries as a professionally run service.”

 

The unstaffed fully self-service library

Editorial

Some technology-related moves have caught my eye over the Easter weekend.  Bibliotheca have taken note of the current parlous state of UK public libraries finances and come up with a scheme that allows authorised members of the public to use library buildings while they are entirely unstaffed.  CCTV keeps watch and doors open and close at the appointed times.  This may be seen by some as the natural next step in a process which started with self-service machines and will be very attractive to library authorities, although perhaps less so to their staff.  A full description of the technology and some thoughts on have been provided by Mick Fortune and I recommend you have a read.

The announcement by the Government of a panel on digital inclusion has also raised an eyebrow at Public Libraries News Towers.  There’s no mention in it of the vital role that public libraries play in both providing access and assistance to those who don’t yet have internet access or an idea of how to use if they did.  Of course, that tuition may be a little difficult if there’s no-one in the building in the first place … but authorities may be weighing the cuts in in budgets with all possibilities and judging accordingly.

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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.”

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“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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