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Enhanced payments for weekend working and Austerity

Editorial

I was sorry to read that Libraries Unlimited in Devon, still a new organisation, is removing enhanced payments for weekend working from its staff. However, before we all say that this is another bit of evidence to show that it should only be councils that run libraries, it’s worth pointing out that many councils have done the same thing, and some of them considerably earlier. Here’s a short and doubtless very incomplete list. The press statement from Devon also points out that they haven’t closed any libraries, unlike many traditional councils (hang your head in shame, Lancashire). The truth is that, regardless of governance, library services up and down the country are all working on different ways of reducing the impact of austerity.  It’s the central government agenda of reducing funding on council services that’s at fault here … and we need to remember that that decision was decided on democratically, or at least as democratically as this country is (which, admittedly, is hardly perfect). Mind you, councils that distort the truth (like Bath who refused to accept they were doing a U-turn even while their “your library is moving” sign was still on display, nice going there) come a close second.

Changes

National news

  • Government extends PLR to e-books and e-audiobooks – BookSeller. “Authors will be paid from a government fund that compensates authors for loaning their works for free from public libraries. The pot of money allocated to PLR, £6.6m, will not change, a spokesperson from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirmed, with the maximum any one author can claim £6,600 per year.  The catalyst for the change, taking effect for all loans from 2018, stems from a judgement in November in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It held the definition of lending by public libraries in European copyright law also includes remote electronic lending, thus removing the final barrier to its expansion”
  • Invitation to Tender: Develop a Reader Development e-learning Module for Public Library Staff – Society of Chief Librarians. ” key training gap identified was the ‘Soft’ skills which are required, such as initiating conversations about reading with the public, and we wish to develop an e-learning module for public library staff to address the range of skills that are required to support our workforce to engage effectively with customers to enhance their reading experience. SCL are looking for the successful organisation to consult with the public library sector and liaise with our online training provider to create an e-learning module for public library staff to address the range of skills that are required to support our workforce to engage effectively with customers to enhance their reading experience”
  • Open letter from Martyn Wade, outgoing CILIP Chair to the Minister for Libraries – CILIP. “… I would urge you to seek examples of how other countries are managing the development of their information and library services for the benefit of all. There are excellent examples in Europe and elsewhere across the world. Closer to home, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all produced realistic and influential strategies which are making a real difference. I am sure that you share our vision of an innovative, high-quality and effective information and library service for all. I would encourage you to engage actively with CILIP and the new Libraries All-Party Parliamentary Group to help ensure that information and library services achieve their potential for everyone, wherever they may live in England.
  • To survive the cuts, libraries must put themselves at the heart of communities – Guardian. Spokesman from Local Government Association (run by councillors) says “Councils are finding creative ways to support libraries that offer a wide variety of services, from homework clubs to health advice and business partnerships”.  Cuts have “a major impact on councils’ ability to support key public services, including libraries. Reducing branches, shortening opening hours and cutting staff are some ways to save money, but that’s not what anyone wants for a service that can offer so much to so many people. Councils are going to have to do more with less, finding creative and innovative ways to use library spaces.”
  • Woman who keeps voting Tory can’t work out why public services are sh** – Daily Mash [parody news website]. ““I was disappointed when they closed our library, but the librarians should have focused on making a profit instead of sponging off the state.””

International news

  • Canada – What is a Killer Imam Doing in Public Libraries in Canada? – Gatestone Institute. “How is it possible that books that advocate violence and extremism meet the “selection criteria” of the Ottawa Public Library, but those that speak out against violence and extremism do not? The presence of these Islamic books, and these books alone, in Canada’s public libraries, without any others to contradict them, gives them legitimacy. They are seen to represent a certain form of Islam that the government of Canada and the City of Ottawa recognize.”
  • Eire – Libraries to transfer 20,000 books a week across country – Irish Examiner. “A plan being developed for all local authority libraries will see around 20,000 volumes transported between counties each week to satisfy reader demand — up from fewer than 150 books a week previously. Members can currently borrow books from most of the 333 library branches run by 30 councils around Ireland, but must wait until an item is returned to its home library, and then a book, DVD, or other item is sent by library staff in the post. As all public libraries complete the switch to a common system management software programme in the next few weeks, an improved service is planned to allow members reserve any of more than 15m items held in national collections.”
  • Germany – Cologne library opens its doors to refugees: ‘You fill this room with life’ – Guardian. “The Cologne Public Library is serving as a social and educational space for the city’s refugees, as counterparts across Germany increasingly become places for community engagement. Could the UK learn from this? ” … “In Germany, however, libraries appear to have retained their cultural status. According to broadcaster Deutsche Welle, footfall in German public bibliothecae actually grew by 5 million people between 2013 and 2015. “
  • India – Kashmir government turns public libraries to E-learning centers – Sify News. ” Rejuvenating the culture of library, Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday launched E-learning program by installing computers in the state’s public libraries, thus assisting students to prepare for competitive exams like JEE, CET and so on…”
  • Malaysia – Library on wheels to make its rounds in PJ, Ampang Jaya and Selayang – The Star. ““I hope people will use the mobile libraries because in the UK, it helped reduce crime by introducing lots of programmes for youths,” said Mastura. She added that besides the four mobile libraries, the state government was planning to add another three in the future, to serve other areas in Selangor” [Really? Where? – Ed.]
  • USA – Trend of apartments, public libraries in same building continues with Good Hope Road project – Journal-Sentinel. “The Good Hope Road project would join a series of similar developments throughout Milwaukee. They are Villard Square Library and apartments, 5190 N. 35th St.; East Library and The Standard apartments, 2320 N. Cramer St.; the current conversion of the Hills Building, 910 W. Historic Mitchell St., to a new library and 60 market-rate apartments, and the proposed new King Drive branch, with 44 market-rate apartments, at the northwest corner of N. King Drive and W. Locust St. The city has paid for the portions of the new buildings that have the library spaces, which it owns. By including apartments, which are owned by the development firms, the new buildings also create property tax revenue”
  • USA – US libraries join struggle to resist the Trump administration – Guardian. “US president Donald Trump could have saved himself some embarrassment this week if he had consulted his local library rather than Fox News before mentioning terror attacks in Sweden. For across the country, librarians have stepped in to verify facts and authenticate web content in a bid to counter fake news reports.” … “Co-ordinating much of the campaign has been Matthew Haugen, a librarian at Columbia University, who set up the LibrariesResist Twitter account. The account and accompanying hashtag highlights local campaigns, shares resources and explains how libraries can be used as sanctuary spaces. Among materials available, according to the Public Books website, are a Stop Trump reading list and a Trump syllabus – a course that “explores Donald Trump’s rise as a product of the American lineage of racism, sexism, nativism and imperialism”.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Youths accused of intimidation campaign against librarian – Press and Journal. “Aberdeenshire city council responded it operated a “zero tolerance” policy towards abuse of its staff after reports of a campaign of intimidation in Newtonhill. Carol Mitchell, network librarian for Portlethen and Newtonhill, highlighted the issue in a message on a village social media site. It stated: “I’m unhappy to report there seems to be an increased incidence of our young folk hanging around the library with the sole intention of frightening and upsetting the senior library assistant who mans the library [on a lone basis]. “Can you please be aware Aberdeenshire Council has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to this type of behaviour
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Council denies Library u-turn amid consultation row – Consultation Institute. “This is not a U-turn, as it has always been our intention to hold further consultations as the Council has a duty to meet the requirements of the Museum and Library Services Act 2010 and public equality duties.”

“Good news from Bath library campaigners who have forced Bath and North East Somerset council (Banes) to back down over places to move the city’s Central Library to a smaller, less central building under the guise of modernisation (see last Eye)

After hundreds of people, including film director Ken Loach,, protested against the plan, and campaigners served a pre-litigation letter challenging the move, the council has agreed to hold a consultation and prepare a business case explaining the relocation.

“This is not a u-turn,” insisted Banes in a statement, claiming that not decision had been made on moving and it had always planned to consult local people. Wags from the Save Bath Library campaign quipped that the council might want to read its own 2m-tall sign in the Podium building, which currently home to the library. It reads “The library is moving”. Library News – Private Eye.

  • Bradford – Events in Bradford for World Book Day 2017 – Telegraph and Argus. “The national celebration, on Thursday, March 2, will be marked by many schools, as well as Bradford’s libraries. Last year thousands of children took part in the Roald Dahl themed event and this year it will mark its 20th anniversary. There will be activities in most of Bradford’s libraries including author visits, arts sessions and storytelling events.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Supporters step up campaign to save Cambridge library – Cambridge News. “A campaigner battling to save a library from the bulldozers claims it is too important architecturally to be knocked down. Cambridgeshire County Council came up with plans to knock down Milton Road Library, in Cambridge, and build a new but smaller library on the site, together with some flats. After an outcry by supporters of the library, the council drew back and asked the public to submit their ideas for the scheme. It says it has now looked at the ideas people have suggested, and has resubmitted the planning application to the city council.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – 2017 Shortlist – Architect of the Year Awards. Chester Storyhouse (combined library and theatre and cinema and café) architects Bennetts Associates up for “Public Building Architect of the Year”.
  • Darlington – Hold Darlington’s council to account over library blunder, urge campaigners – Northern Echo. “Cllr Heather Scott said: “The latest revelation is continuing the saga of misinformation, lack of reliable evidence and disregard for genuine scrutiny. “During the scrutiny debate we were again assured that after external expert advice the legality of the cabinet members as sole trustees was not in question and that the chance of a legal challenge would be easily defended. “This is obviously not accurate and causes us to question the reliability of the whole proposal. We have lost complete faith in the ability of the Labour cabinet to safeguard both the relocation of the Library and the future of the Crown Street building.”
  • Devon – A statement from Libraries Unlimited – Libraries Unlimited. “We can confirm that following a review of our current financial situation and in light of the need to make savings of £1.5 million per year as part of the contract with Devon County Council, our Board of trustees have approved recommendations to withdraw enhanced pay for weekend working. The changes to enhanced pay come at a time of financial austerity, when local authorities across the country are looking to reshape, reorganise and rejuvenate library services.  To date, not one library in Devon has had to close its doors, and our aim is to keep it that way. Since our launch in April 2016, we have been developing new and innovative ways of delivering our services and we will continue to do so, ensuring that the people of Devon will continue to benefit from library services.”
  • Dudley – New chapter for borough library services – Dudley News. “For the next five years, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) will be in charge of an employee-led mutual, which will run the 13 libraries, four library links and the Archives and Local History Centre in Tipton Road, Dudley. The 140 members of staff who work within the council’s libraries and archives services will also be transferred to GLL ahead of the takeover in spring” … “The mutual – which the council will pay GLL £3,988,000 to deliver for the first year, dropping to £3,769,000 a year for the remainder of the contract – is expected to make financial savings across the board without impacting on day-to-day services”
  • Gateshead – Job losses, library closures and a council tax hike: What Gateshead’s budget means for you – Chronicle. ““However, we have concerns about some of the details. We’ll be looking closely at the closure of the three libraries. Whickham, for example, is the second most popular library in the borough” … “The council claimed its decision to reduce its libraries from 11 to eight followed extensive public consultation whilst the three at risk will be offered to the local community to run. Coun Gannon said: “We know through our public consultation just how much people value their local library service. “However, when faced with the savage ongoing cuts in government funding we’ve had to take a very difficult decision to reduce the council operated network further.” “We want to work with our communities to help keep local libraries. To do this we need to expand our volunteer managed libraries, which already operate from five locations across Gateshead, to now include Felling, Rowlands Gill and Whickham. We’ll shortly be asking for volunteers to help run these libraries and will be hosting public meetings so residents can find out how they can be involved.”
  • Lancashire – Hopes lifted as library team prepare for talks – Blackpool Gazette. “Volunteers hoping to take over a library closed as part of sweeping cuts are hoping to discuss their plans with County Hall bosses in the coming days. In the autumn Thornton Gala Committee submitted detailed plans to re-open the town’s library. The building has been closed since October when Lancashire County Council transfered services to Poulton and Fleetwood”
  • Lancashire – Old library to become town arts centre – Lancashire Evening Post. Penwortham: ““Whilst nothing has actually been signed yet, the Penwortham Young People’s Centre will remain exactly as it is now with youth clubs, dance classes, mother and toddler groups, and we will be opening a small library service within that building. The library building is very much in the early stages but we are hoping to turn that into a small arts centre with space for plays, shows and films.” The Council’s long-term plans for the library building involve an extension to provide enough space for a stage, seating, toilets and a bar.”
  • Leicester – Pupils send 600 letters to council opposing library closure – Leicester Mercury. 600 letters from college sent to Mayor protesting at loss of Highfield Library. The “head of Moat Community College, said he was “extremely proud” of the pupils for campaigning to keep the library open.  He said: “Around 40 per cent of our pupils qualify for pupil premium because they are disadvantaged in some way.”
  • Liverpool – Cuts that squeeze the life out of Liverpool – Guardian / Letters. “Your piece on the new threat to Liverpool’s remaining libraries is important (Liverpool likely to be forced into cutting more libraries, says mayor, 21 February). The scale of assault on public and civic life here shocks: £330m in cuts since Cameron and Clegg’s coalition government of 2010, with £90m to come, are figures which translate into massive numbers of unemployed people (including former council employees) and desolate landscapes of boarded-up libraries, closed-down day centres and nurseries, and unvisited vulnerable people. Liverpool city council’s director of adult social care, Samih Kalakeche, has resigned, saying: “Frankly, I can’t see social services surviving after two years. That’s the absolute maximum.” The central Conservative government is starving our city and others of essential funds.”
  • Oxfordshire – Oxfordshire History Centre making a move back to revamped Westgate library – Oxford Times. “The Oxfordshire History Centre and family history service is currently based at St Luke’s Church, in Temple Road, Cowley, but will be moved by October. It will coincide with the Westgate’s reopening, with library bosses hoping it will lead to more visitors. The history centre – ran by Oxfordshire County Council – was previously based at the library but was moved several years ago.”
  • Plymouth – Library closures ‘not about money’ say council bosses – Plymouth Herald. “The aim is to make the library service better”. Ten libraries to close. Council says only one fifth of library users affected.
  • Reading – Two Reading libraries move and opening hours will be reduced – Get Reading. “Reading Borough Council has announced it is keeping all seven of the borough’s libraries open but cutting opening hours due to “limited resources”. It is also going to move Whitley Library to South Reading Youth and Community Centre in autumn 2017 and relocate Southcote Library to Southcote Community Centre in the winter.”
  • Somerset – Development Officer – Somerset Council. Library vacancy.
  • Staffordshire – Brereton Library will not close, says council – Staffordshire Newsletter. “Council bosses have vowed that Brereton Library will not close, after a school said it was unable to run it. The library is currently set up inside a building at Redbrook Hayes Community Primary School.” … “Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “This review of Staffordshire’s 43 libraries has been underway since the beginning of 2015 and in that time not one library has been under threat of closure. “Brereton is no different. It will not close. Unfortunately, after expressing an initial interest, Redbrook Hayes Community Primary School didn’t feel able to take on the day-to-day running of the library, but 17 people have said they are willing to volunteer at Brereton and that will make a huge contribution. “The library will remain supported by the county council and we will continue to work towards it becoming a fully-fledged community library in due course.”
  • Swansea – Principal Librarian Swansea Council. Vacancy.
  • Waltham Forest – Thousands respond to controversial library service consultation launched by council – Chingford Times. “In September 2016 Waltham Forest Council launched a public consultation to seek the views of residents on library Local services. The consultation closed on January 31 2017, after being extended to give residents more time to have their say. The council is now preparing a detailed briefing that will be part of the report that is presented to cabinet. It had been hoped that this report could be presented at Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet in March 2017, however officers have asked Scrutiny that the Scrutiny meeting be rescheduled to allow the results of the consultation to be considered in more detail. Cllr Sharon Waldron, cabinet member for digital and customer services said: “We received over 2,000 responses to the public consultation, and I would like to thank everyone who took part and gave their views.”

A glass half full

Editorial

It’s good to see that public libraries have the highest customer satisfaction of any public service. It’s lovely also to be able to report on plans for improving libraries in several authorities. This ties in nicely with a conversation I had with a national journalist today who was clearly interested in the bad news happening in libraries and not necessarily about the good: the good is always there and not “news”. This reminds me to say that, look, good things are happening in libraries. For all the bad news about cuts that I have to include every night, I’m sure there’s a hundred stories about how great libraries are and what a positive impact they are in people’s lives – it’s just that this isn’t reported because it’s always going on. So, nationally, the glass may be half empty but it’s also half full as well. As a post on communication from the Taskforce (also below – it’s like today has a theme) indicates, the great things that libraries do need trumpeting. So grab your musical instrument of librarianship and blow.

Changes

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The good, the bad and the good or bad: Haringey, Coventry, Dudley, Liverpool and Wolverhampton

Editorial

A mixture of the good and bad. Haringey have overturned previously reported plans to cut library opening hours and are instead investing £2 million in them instead. That’s quite some U-turn. From the news report I read, it seems like they did an honest consultation (hi Livewire, see it can be done) and the result was taken on board. It’s also good to see Coventry also having a rethink and reducing the cuts there, although four libraries are still to become volunteer, which is hardly nothing.  It’s interesting to see GLL taking over another library service (that’s four so far I think) in Dudley.  The leisure trust has now completely overcome its London roots and must be seen as a force to be reckoned with nationally.  Whether that’s good or bad, depends on how you feel about non-profit trusts. On the bad side, Liverpool are cutting the libraries budget by nearly £2 million and trying to pass on four libraries to others and Wolverhampton are going for full-on co-locations and volunteers. Expect a lot more from those two councils in PLN soon.

Changes

Ideas

Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than this post alone.  Only authorities with 6 or more are included. :

  •  Plymouth (24, -1), Bath and North East Somerset (10, new),  Cornwall (6. new), Lancashire (6, -5), Birmingham (8, -2), Darlington (7, -1), Walsall (7, +1), Warrington (6, =), Manchester (6 – this is all positive news), Kirklees (6, new)

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The public can be such banes to council plans

Editorial

Councils in Bath & North East Somerset (“BANES”) and Warrington have both needed to accommodate to public anger at plans to cut library services this week. The concessions may be more apparent than real – BANES are simply going to do a consultation on moving Central into a co-location away from the town centre (and with half the space) rather than a fait accompli.  Of course, seasoned readers of PLN will know the likelihood of a council actually changing its plans after a consultation in anything but in the mildest terms in order to show they listened but, with anger pretty high in the spa town, which is hardly a normal area of mass political dissent, it’s a step in the right direction. Warrington council, while supporting the initial (in my view highly flawed and biased) consultation are creating a group to see how they can best keep libraries open.  Again, PLN readers will suspect this will simply boil down to “volunteer or we’ll close it” but I am sure we all hope to stand corrected soon.

Meanwhile, the Taskforce have produced two posts on mutualising library services. With austerity now in its seventh (eighth?) year, this is seen as one of the best ways of maintaining library services along with volunteers, co-locations, increased use of volunteers and (increasingly) pressuring parish/borough councils to stump up cash instead.  To their credit, the Taskforce do not present any of these options as a panacea. Which is just as well: those councils which make cuts to libraries often find out the items on the efficiencies/savings/cuts menu can be unpalatable when presented to the public. But then it’s the same public so often who voted for austerity in the first place.

Changes

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Libraries offer futures: and the Big Issue is for the future of libraries

Editorial

A noticeably quiet couple of days with the main thing being to me two pro library campaigns, both of which are not just local over closures.  It’s good to see the CILIPS Library Matters campaign picking up some strength in Scotland before the election there, with another celebrity author on board. A very pleasant surprise was the Big Issue campaign that has just launched.  It’s worth a look as it says very nice things about libraries and John Bird, now a Lord, is clearly a powerful ally. Across the water, public librarians are now turning their sense of shock over President Trump’s presidency into action. It’s going to be a tough tightrope for them.  Although the political position of libraries are different there (they’re often not under direct council control whereas anyone employed in libraries getting political in the UK in working hours would presumably just plain be disciplined or dismissed) they still have to presumably be neutral.  The challenge is going to be how to balance the political desire to act with the expectation that librarians remain unbiased.  I simple don’t know how that will turn out in these strange times in America.

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Political games, not standing still … and waving placards

Editorial

There’s a couple of examples of libraries being used as pawns in political games before local elections in May today, with opposition parties scaremongering and the party in power (often the same party as in opposition doing the same thing elsewhere) crying foul.  Libraries have never really hit the headlines in the media before elections and I’m curious to see if such mentions increase or quiet down.  In terms of actual news, I’m sorry to see that West Berkshire have confirmed a big budget cut, although they’re avoiding closing libraries by relying on volunteers and parish council handouts.  That’s bad news for the staff (which will be reduced by half) but good news for the libraries minister who had been called on to intervene if the council actually closed many,  On the other hand, good news in Torfaen where Unison are claiming a major victory in repealing a £240k cut.  The union has done some notably good work in South Wales, although it has been notably less active nationally in the sector. Meanwhile in parliament, the libraries minister received two friendly questions from MPs of his own party, re-emphasising once more his view that “standing still is not really an option”.  Which, it seems, is true – as people enthusiastically waving placards in Bath, Darlington, Lambeth, Plymouth, North East Lincolnshire, Walsall and elsewhere show.

Changes

Ideas

Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than this post alone:

  •  Plymouth (25), Lancashire (11), Birmingham (10), Darlington (8), Walsall (6), Swindon (6), Warrington (6).

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Wales, E-resources and co-located Gymbraries

 

The BBC has produced a large survey of the state of play in Welsh public libraries.  It makes interesting reading, with the excellent work being done nationally (on, for example, e-resources) being at least counterbalanced by the effect of cuts on local library services. Library e-resources are looked at in a guest post hosted by the Libraries Taskforce which points out that too often excellent resources are hidden behind inadequate, or even downright obstructive, council websites.

There’s a bit of other news as well but I will continue the thread on the damaging of library unique selling points started in the last post by just mentioning co-locations.  As with supplier stock selecting (and it was rightly pointed out to me – thanks Jane –  that if expert librarians work with the supplier very well, it’s not a bad thing, the problem is when they don’t or when there aren’t any librarians any more), co-locations can be really good. The right co-location can attract traffic into the library and not detract from the neutral and welcoming atmosphere that is a key library USP.

The downside, though, is where the co-location is forced upon the library and services which detract from such an atmosphere become uneasy bedfellows.  These bad co-locations can damage the neutrality of the library, especially when the service is poorly understood by those in the driving seat.  A probable “bad” co-location is up for grabs as I’m writing this with the imminent decision on combining gyms and libraries in Lambeth.  This has been the source of much anger and parody, which is a shame as the instigators (GLL) have done good work with libraries from what I have seen elsewhere.  If the combination (I’ve seen it called a “gymbrary”) does go ahead, let’s see how neutral and welcoming it is to library users.  I hope my fears on the subject are proved wrong.

Changes

Ideas

Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than this post alone:

  • Lancashire (23), Plymouth (19), Birmingham (8), North Yorkshire (8), Swindon (7), Warrington (7)

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Waterstone’s recovery hints at what libraries should do

Editorial

Two conflicting stories this post. One is the story of libraries facing a big cut in usage over ten years, which I’ve covered in previous posts. The other is how Waterstones has made a dramatic comeback.  Now, Waterstones and public libraries are very different to each other – even Daunt could not have coped with the cuts some libraries are being forced to take and would probably have been driven to madness by council bureaucracy – but there are things that libraries can learn from him.  This is that local control over bookstock is important. You need to have experts choosing for particular libraries to match the needs of local communities.

Driven by budget cuts, many library authorities have forgotten the need for tailored local stock and farmed out book purchasing to large library suppliers. While (very importantly) saving on staff time and cost, this necessarily means a loss of that local connection and, also, a downgrading of the librarian role, with often the loss of professionals who have spent decades learning what goes best where. Sadly, thus is lost one of the many unique selling points (USPs)  that a public library once had, and some still have, that have been lost in the drive for efficiency.  I’ll be coming back to other disappearing USPs in future posts – councils appear in some ways to have spent decades removing them – but for the moment it’s great to see Waterstones rediscovering theirs, not least because I love bookshops more than any other high street outlet. Well, except libraries of course.

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USA and Canada see library usage rise: 3/4 budget cuts in Walsall and Kirklees

Editorial

Those people who say the decline in public libraries are inevitable should look at what is happening in the USA and Canada some time. Just today, there are stories that show that library visits (even book issues) in the USA are increasing long-term and the big authority of Hamilton in Canada saw an increase of 13% over one year. Neither the USA overall or Hamilton have seen deep cuts to their budgets. How that’s going to change with Trump as President one can sadly guess at but the figures show that the decline in UK library usage is not pre-ordained. If you think it is, explain why it’s not happening there.  Sadly, however, why the cuts are happening here is pretty evident. From just today’s announcements – Kirklees will soon have reduced their libraries budget by 72% by my reckoning (check the figures below) and Walsall are reported as cutting their budget from £4m to £1m, another cut of three-quarters. Meanwhile, West Berkshire are proudly announcing that they won’t close as many libraries as they originally wanted to because they’re going to depend on volunteers and parish/town council donations instead. Faced with such cuts, it’s pretty clear the decline in Britain is more a case of Austerity killing them than anything else.

Changes

Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than the list above.

  • Red: Lancashire (27), Plymouth (15)
  • Amber: Birmingham (9), Swindon (7), Warrington (7), Bath and North East Somerset (6), Darlington (6).

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Library media heatmap - watch out for the red dots

An at-a-glance heatmap of UK public libraries

Editorial

Library media heatmap - watch out for the red dots

Library media heatmap – watch out for the red dots

I’m going to be trying out a new feature for a while – making  a note each post of those library authorities under the most media scrutiny.  This will be done making use of the map of the UK which has been on the right hand side of the website for some time now.  Made by a clever coder, this map links every “Local News By Authority” mention I make and puts them in the correct place on the United Kingdom (expect for the Isle of Man which, for some reason, ends up in Lancashire – go figure).  Because every link is attached to a dot, differently coloured due to the number of media mentions, it’s easy to spot the areas under the most scrutiny.  It’s worth pointing out that such mentions may theoretically be for positive reasons as well as for negative ones but I’ll keep an eye out for those and mention them if they occur. They haven’t done so yet.

So, for the first one, the red “danger” areas are Lancashire, with a massive 27 mentions reflecting the sheer number of branches being cut there, and Plymouth with 13.  In the still-scary orange dot category are Bath and North East Somerset, Birmingham, Darlington, Swindon, Warrington and (seemingly everpresent) North Yorkshire. I hope that by doing this I’m hoping this will give the reader an at-a-glance heatmap of the state of UK public libraries.  We’ll see how it goes.

Ideas

National news

  • ElucidateCILIP UKeiG. “Amy Icke, recipient of UKeiGís Early Career award, reports on the IASL (International Association of School Librarians) Conference 2016, held in Tokyo, 21st – 26th August 2016. The theme of the event was ìA school library built for the digital ageî and Amy outlines and discusses key conference themes illustrated with examples delivered by librarians working in a range of countries including Japan, Australia, Sweden and Canada. Key messages for our readers in all sectors includes..”
  • Family Learning in Local Communities – Libraries Taskforce. “A new project from Common Vision sets out to study the informal activities that lay the foundations for healthy, resilient communities and contribute to intergenerational mixing and exchange. With the decline of the traditional town centre and new forms of technology facilitating social interaction, the ways in which we form and strengthen relationships are changing. This applies to relationships within families as much as other social groups” [There is a survey you can take part in.  I found it, though, quite obtrusive when I completed it, as it demands your personal contact details right at the start, with no explanation as to why.  You can put false information in the fields easily if you would prefer anonymity. Let’s hope this apparently professional company learns to do surveys correctly next time – Ed.]

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, how many public libraries have closed since February 2016. ” Tim Farron MP

“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport monitors proposed changes to library service provision throughout England, however the Department does not hold complete figures on total public library closures since February 2016.” Rob WIlson MP – Public Libraries: Closures: Written Questions – Parliament UK. [My working theory is that the only reason the Government is not keeping these figures is because they do not want to know / do not want to have to answer this sort of question because they’d find it embarrassing – Ed.]


International news

  • Canada – Arnprior’s librarian named Public Librarian of the Year by the Ontario Library Association – Inside Ottawa Valley. “One of her major achievements has been the launch of the iPod Project, where the library partnered with the Grove Nursing home to provide its residents with iPods and personalized playlists. ” … “The library raised nearly $4,000 to purchase 60 iPods and the music for the individual playlists”
  • Global – 10 most extraordinary mobile libraries – Ebook Friendly. “From donkey-drawn trolleys to huge ships, you’ll see here outstanding vehicles that are designed to carry the most important cargo in the world – wisdom.”
  • USA – Library Cats Leave Some Sneezing, Others Feline Fine – American Libraries. “Though everything turned out all right for the lucky kitty, the incident illustrated just how contentious having a cat in a library can be, even when the cat is popular with patrons. Perhaps that’s why the number of library cats in the United States has declined drastically in recent decades.” … “In an attempt to minimize the allergens present on library materials, staff members swipe each book with a Clorox wipe. Still, Sharp knows patron allergies are an ever-present concern.” … “Before adopting Stacks in 2009, Zumwalt consulted local veterinarians about allergies. “They said that as long as we kept the hair vacuumed, we really shouldn’t have any problems,” ” … “Frannie Shue, Centre County library director, is a big fan of “Saturday Caturday,” saying, “It’s a nice alternative for libraries that do not have cats—but love cats as much as books.””
  • USA – Mirrors and Windows: Diversity in Children’s Picture Books – Public LIbraries Online. “Working for an inner-city library, I am very conscious about choosing books that reflect what my storytime children look like and the culture to which they can relate. When searching for non-white main characters in picture books, I find it is much more dif­ficult than it ought to be.” … “Books are windows, but also mirrors. We often can relate to most any story in some way, however, if we cannot connect to the illustrations that do not mirror us, we will become apathetic to stories.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Job Opportunity: Library Manager based in Barnet – Inclusion Barnet. “We are a voluntary organisation in Barnet, North London and we are about to take over the running of two branch libraries as community-based ‘partnership libraries’, working with the London Borough of Barnet.” … “we can offer an attractive salary, a positive and inclusive working environment and a warm and supportive team around you, including a CEO with a background in library management”
  • Bradford – Volunteers urgently needed to help run Thornbury library – Telegraph and Argus. “Unless more volunteers respond to an appeal soon to help keep Thornbury Library open, it will close on April 1. Bradford Council announced in February last year that the branch based in the Thornbury Centre in Leeds Old Road would be one of fourteen libraries across the district to shut unless local communities could find enough helpers to staff them. But the take-up at Thornbury Library has been “a bit slow so far” according to parish priest and chairman of the Thornbury Centre, Father Nicholas Clews.”
  • Darlington – Crucial vote delayed again as Tory councillors force deferral in the battle to save Darlington’s Crown Street Library – Northern Echo. “The proposals would see the town’s mobile library service axed, Cockerton Library given over to volunteers and the historic Crown Street library closed, with the majority of its resources to be transferred to the Dolphin Centre” … “In an unexpected move, opposition councillors have provided the much-loved library with a last minute stay of execution by demanding further scrutiny of Darlington Borough Council’s long-opposed proposals. Responding to concerns repeatedly raised by campaigners, Conservative councillors have ‘called in’ the agenda item concerning library services ahead of Thursday’s final vote on the issue.” see Library Call-In – Darlington Council and Forward Plan – Darlington Council.
  • Hounslow – Library to re-open partially after two month closure following ceiling collapse – Get West London. “Part of Brentford library will reopen this weekend more than two months after the ceiling collapsed. The Grade II listed building on Boston Manor Road has been closed since November 10, last year, after the plaster from one of the ceilings in the children’s section fell overnight.” … “However the children’s section will remain closed until works are completed with the aim of fully re-opening on March 11″
  • Leeds – Chief Librarian – Leeds Council. “Leeds City Council is delivering an ambitious programme of more locally determined and integrated services which help ensure that all who live, visit and work in the city have access to quality public services. As part of this development, an exciting opportunity has arisen to lead and develop the Library and Information service across the city, an integral part of our proposition to deliver more integrated and accessible services.  ”
  • Leeds – Mannequin Challenge – YouTube. [I’ve seen a few of these now and this is pretty good – Ed.]
  •  Plymouth – Anthologia: Library Closure Special  – Tall Tales. “In response to the local library cuts suggested in Plymouth this week, several local writers have banded together to form ‘The Library Party’. This group has the aim of raising awareness of the proposed cuts and helping the public voice their concern and objections to the closures. This special Anthologia has poetry and micro-fiction from local Plymouth writers. Each piece focuses on the issue, libraries or the essential service provided by this ancient institution. There are also images explaining what is proposed and links to the petition within this page. “
  • Plymouth – Council told libraries are ‘community hubs’ at first public meeting over closures – Herald. “Jennifer Pointer, a mother of two, who attended the meeting with her family, felt that the closure of the school’s library would be wrong as for her libraries are “a life-line”. “I had quite bad post natal depression,” said Mrs Pointer, “The library was a good way to meet other mums and talk about it – they are a bit of a life-line.”. Many responses ask for investment in libraries to improve them rather than closing them.
  • Swindon – Libraries minister comes to Swindon as community deadline looms – Swindon Advertiser. “Last month Coun Mary Martin met with MP Rob Wilson, whose ministerial portfolio includes libraries, and on Thursday he came to Swindon to take a closer look at the plans” … “As part of the visit, he was shown the central library as well as Covingham library, which is well-advanced in its set up as a community run facility.” Covingham is one of the few community libraries where a clear path to a secure future has emerged. A trust model, devised by ward councillors and recently registered with the charities commission, has received the backing of local library supporters and the borough council” … “”It was a productive meeting to give the minister an update on the work that is going on towards protecting our vital libraries and to discuss further options for where the government can provide assistance. “I’m greatly encouraged, we seem to be making good progress.”