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Amateurisation and the hiding of unwelcome realities

Editorial

Yet more relevant stuff from CILIP this post … this is becoming a little bit repetitive but it’s good to see.  CILIP has sometimes been ambivalent about volunteers replacing library staff in the past but its board has come out in favour of a resolution urging the organisation to fight the amateurisation of libraries.  I know that some senior library staff argue that they have to use volunteers in the face of job cuts, and that is quite right as they have to do what their employers, the councillors, tell them to do but it is also true that CILIP has a strong potential role to play in waving the flag for paid staff. Such a stance should come naturally to a professional association and will garner it some support, not least among public librarians who sometimes feel CILIP is at insufficiently involved in the fight to save their jobs.

It’s also interesting to see the description of the view of Nick Poole of CILIP and Kathy Settle of the English Public Libraries Taskforce on the best strategy for public libraries.  Some good points are made, although complaining about campaigners giving a “negative narrative” due to highlighting cuts and closures is a bit rich. That’s effectively like blaming the media for reporting disasters: a common policy in the more repressive dictatorships but not one that is normally received with much credit elsewhere.  Tell you what, you start giving us good news and we’ll report it.  Frankly, it gets a bit depressing reporting the disasters befalling the sector and I’d much rather report brighter stuff.  So give me some.

Email your news, view and comments to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk

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National news

  • 6 Music Celebrates Libraries – BBC Radio 6. “A special edition of the series in which authors discuss their musical influences.”
  • CILIP Board backs member resolution on ‘amateurisation’ of public libraries services – CILIP. “At this year’s AGM members have the opportunity to vote on an important resolution proposed by member Andy Richardson calling on CILIP to oppose the ‘amateurisation’ of public library services. On behalf of the Board I am calling on members to vote in favour of the resolution. In his guest blog Andy explains why his has submitted the resolution – at its core is the value to communities and wider society of high quality library services, which are developed, managed and delivered by skilled and expert staff. ” … “All AGM resolutions are ‘advisory’. However, if a majority of members vote in favour of the resolution the Board will consider it carefully and ensure that it is reflected in CILIP’s ongoing advocacy and campaigning.” … “CILIP’s existing policy on volunteers is already overdue for review. The Board will begin this process based on evidence and research in what is a rapidly changing environment. ” see also CILIP called on to oppose ‘amateurisation’ of library service – BookSeller.
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival: Museums and Libraries – Spaces for Literacy – Edinburgh Reporter. “Libraries in the UK are struggling. Their funds have shrunk – some have even been shut down; in 2013 Moray Council closed seven of its fifteen libraries. We are told that people don’t go to libraries any more – they may like the idea of The Library as an institution, but they buy their books online – if at all. (One local librarian told me that whilst the whole village campaigned if the library was threatened, hardly anyone came near it at other times – and it’s borrowing numbers that councils base their decisions on).” … “In New York the financial situation may have been equally parlous, but New Yorkers didn’t take the cuts lying down (not even with a good book…). There are 217 public libraries in the city; they receive over 40 million visits per annum (more, says Tony Marx, than all the NYC museums and sports teams put together, ‘Just saying…’) and they’ve recently received a huge grant from public funds. This city understands the centrality of libraries; the New York Public Library is one of the most prestigious in the world. In a country that we may see as a monument to capitalist, profit-driven ideology, public libraries are thriving …”
  • Leadership for Libraries Taskforce: busy landscape but one clear, short-term target – CILIP. “Kathy [Settle, CEO of Task Force] said: ‘We recognise that funding is very tight. Clearly we are making the case through the Spending Review process to try to get more money to invest in our current plans to take them forward more quickly, or make them more ambitious. However, whatever the outcome of the Spending Review, the priorities set for the first year remain valid.’””Nick Poole, Chief Executive of CILIP, said that without some success in the Spending Review, changes to some public library services may have to take place more quickly: ‘Whatever the outcome of the Spending Review 2015, as a community we have to come to terms with the implications of other delivery models for library services. “Kathy thought libraries should explore building on their unique value by investigating new partnerships to improve their user offer … ‘a lack of real-time, accurate, consistent, open data was a big barrier to improving library services”

“‘We’ve been told to prepare for a 25-40 per cent cut in departmental budgets, which is likely to be handed directly on to Local Authority expenditure. Experience shows that this is likely to hit our public libraries and their users very hard indeed.” Nick Poole “… The risk is that in positioning libraries primarily as the “front door” for Local Government services, we end up confusing the public about the range of other benefits we bring to our communities such as supporting education and raising the level of information literacy.’” …

… “Both Kathy and Nick emphasised the need to be positive about the library offer. Kathy said: ‘I realise that campaigners and lobbyists will quite reasonably want to point out the cuts and the closures. You can see how effective they are too because that is the narrative you see in all the media. “

… ” ‘My biggest concern is that we allow services to be hollowed-out in the name of keeping up appearances, keeping the doors open while reducing the range and quality of services offered by skilled and qualified staff. ” Nick Poole

  • National Libraries Day set for 6th February – BookSeller. “In the past, some groups have used National Libraries Day to protest the local council cuts which have led to library closures across the country. This year in Cardiff, hundreds gathered outside Central Library for a read-in to protest against planned cuts, while protestors in Birmingham joined together to create a human chain hugging the threated library of Birmingham. “

International news

  • India – Public library thrown open at Guru Nanak Bhawan – Tribune. “The public library finally opened at Guru Nanak Bhawan today. Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria and MC Commissioner GK Singh inaugurated the library, which houses nearly 16,000 books with a seating capacity of 48 people and four desks, especially for children. Two computers have been placed in the library for accessing e-books and searching online. Two more computers would be added shortly, Gohalwaria said.” … “He said 25 newspapers and 40 magazines would be available in the air-conditioned library, adding that they would try to keep the library open on all seven days so that residents could have access to it during weekends as well.”
  • Singapore – Singapore libraries use technology for easier, faster service – Channel News Asia. “there is a machine which automatically scans and sorts returned items into specific categories, making it easier for staff, especially the older ones, to shelve the books. Previously, they had to manually sort the items – a time-consuming and laborious process. The machines are now used in Sembawang Public Library and library@chinatown, and there are plans to have them in more libraries.” … “Users can also view digital newspapers and magazines with large-screen tablets. They are now used in Sembawang Public Library but there are plans to have them in more libraries, especially the new ones, and those undergoing upgrading.” … “readers can collect reserved items from lockers that operate even beyond opening hours. The lockers are located at the entrances of Sembawang Public Library and Library@Orchard.”
  • US/Global – Storytime underground – Excellent website providing help with library storytimes, hints, tips and resources.

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – March planned to protest threat to Barnet libraries – BookSeller. “Campaigners will take to the streets of Barnet next week to protest Barnet Council’s proposed £2.85m worth of cuts to the library service, the Times Series has reported. The ‘Children’s March for Libraries’ will see BAFTA award-winning actress Rebecca Front joining those campaigning. She said: “It’s a pretty obvious equation to me. Children reading books is a good thing. Children being denied free access to books is therefore a bad thing and needs to be stopped in Barnet or wherever it’s happening.” On Saturday 12th September campaigners will start at East Finchley Library at 10.15am, before heading to Church End Library, where they will be joined by a brass band. They will end the march at North Finchley Library…. ” See also Campaigners to stage march ahead of vote on library cuts – Times Series.
  • Cambridgeshire – Friends group to be set-up at Cambridge Central Library in wake of enterprise centre saga – Cambridge News. “A friends group dedicated to protecting Cambridge Central Library is due to be set up in the wake of unprecedented community spirit that saved it from becoming home to an enterprise centre. Thoughts yesterday returned to using the county’s library services as a tool to generate income in the wake of the failure to put an enterprise centre on the library’s third floor. The hugely contentious plans were scrapped after local blogger Phil Rodgers uncovered the fact the man behind the proposals was banned from being a director in the UK.
  • Derby – Council will ask volunteers to help run Derby’s libraries due to cuts – Derby Telegraph. “People will be asked if they would be willing to volunteer at Derby’s libraries as part of a consultation into how they will be run in the future.And councillor Martin Rawson, cabinet member responsible for Derby’s 15 sites, including the new local studies library, has conceded they are likely to need fewer staff.But he said the authority would strive to do this “through not filling posts when people leave”.” … “report drawn up by council officers ahead of the meeting said that a public consultation in 2013-14, saw the 1,000 people who took part suggesting that there should be an average decrease in the city’s libraries budget of 34.45%.It said: “While this result is not binding, it is broadly indicative of the level of savings that many residents want us to consider.“However, given the scale of the budget savings already made since 2010-11, a further reduction of this magnitude would require a fundamental transformation of the current service delivery model.”
  • Glasgow – Survey on city libraries – Evening Times. “Both library members and non-members were asked their views and more than 3000 people responded. Their comments will help form a vision for the library which will include Glasgow Life’s five year commitment to the service. “
  • Hartlepool – Hartlepool libraries’ hours are cut to save cash – but closures are avoided – Hartlepool Mail. “Branch libraries will close on more days as part of cost-saving measures to the service. Hartlepool Borough Council looked at opening hours, possible mergers and greater use of volunteers as part of a library review. It attracted more than 1,500 responses from users, one of the highest ever for a council consultation exercise.”
  • Herefordshire – Library consultation “needs to be suspended” – Hereford Times. “Nina Shields, chairman of the Ledbury Library Development Group believes the present online consultation, set to end on October 9, needs to be suspended and replaced with “real” consultation involving her group and others.” … “Ms Shields said of the online consultation process:”It is difficult to believe that you are serious about this – unless you think seeking endorsement for your plans equates to consultation.”. Council says “”We will continue with the consultation in its present form for the above reasons and would ask you to help by encouraging as many people as possible to respond. We will do everything we can to preserve important services like libraries but would ask you to recognise that there simply is no longer enough money to maintain support for everything at previous levels.”
  • Herefordshire – Threat to our county libraries is absurd – Hereford Times. Letter: “For Herefordshire Council to talk about closing libraries in two of our largest market towns defies belief.  … These are purpose-built libraries, were opened only about 20 years ago, and are busy and well used. ” … “To suggest that Hereford Library becomes the only ‘professional’ library and the ‘central hub’ for the county is absurd. Of course it is the busiest library: Hereford is by far the largest population, but its library was built about 150 years ago and is not fit for purpose as it is – let alone its role in the future. “
  • Leicester – Libraries cut to the bone – Leicester Mercury, Unison warn of further cuts after librarians cut by almost half three years ago and reductions in library assistants.
  • Norfolk – Hope for Norfolk libraries, but cuts fear hangs over museums – Diss Express. “a working group set up to look at the future of the county’s 47 library buildings has concluded all of them should be saved from the axe. The group’s report said: “Libraries are ideally placed to become community hubs and provide not only the physical infrastructure, but the learning support that individuals will need to access a wide range of services.” However, the group added that savings could still be found by introducing more self-service technology.”
  • Norfolk – What could 25% cuts at Norfolk County Council mean for our services? – Eastern Daily Press. “Norfolk has 47 libraries and cutting 25pc from the budget would mean only around 30 would remain in three years. Options which are likely to be put forward include reducing library stock, cutting mobile-library services, shedding staff and reducing the opening hours of the Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library at The Forum in Norwich. A new model of delivery, which includes using libraries as venues for early help, is proposed.”

 

  • Southampton – Council consultation on libraries’ closure was not fair – Southern Daily Echo. “The council maintains that the majority of respondents to the public consultation supported its preferred option (closing five libraries) yet respondents were given no option to maintain all or even most of the city libraries. They could choose between five or more closures. The survey questionnaire was designed to give the results the council wanted to proceed with its intended plan”
  • Staffordshire – In pictures: New chapter for £1 million Stafford library – Express and Star. “The new £1 million facility will open on Wednesday at its new home inside Staffordshire Place in Tipping Street … The opening will please many library users in the town who have been left without a library for almost two weeks because of the closure of the old one in Martin Street.” … “Gone are the lifeless noticeboards which traditionally greet library-users, instead those visiting the new facility will be met by a large state-of-the-art touchscreen display which resembles an iPad and the digital world.” … “The library will be equipped with tablets for web browsing and reading, as well as Raspberry Pi devices which are credit card-sized computers for children that teach programming skills. And one of the eye-catching new additions is the 3D printer where people can see their creative designs come to life before their eyes.”
Tackling poverty, one library user at a time

Libraries change lives, but soon probably not in Herefordshire

Editorial

Herefordshire features a couple of times tonight. It could well feature many times in the future as well as what is being proposed there might make the already parched library landscape even more bleak. The council there is proposing just one funded library for the whole widespread county (population: 183,000, 842 square miles) with volunteers taking up the slack.  Moreover, it transpires today that even the one surviving council library, in Hereford, may well be partially taken over as a “hub” for “services for independent living”. As far as seeing how far the statutory aspect of providing library services goes, that’s really taking the biscuit, not that Ed Vaizey would ever intervene. Interestingly, the chief of Arts Council England is making a trip there on Friday to underline the importance of the Arts (ooh, and libraries – ACE always makes sure to add that last word at the end of descriptions of what it does).  One hopes that he’ll find the time to mention that stripping the county of libraries may be seen as a tad bit, well, horrendous.

Horrendous because, as the Libraries Change Lives award nominations show, libraries are not just nice things to have around.  They are refuges, free colleges, life improvers and life-turn-arounders. And cutting them out of ignorance will just increase that ignorance.  And blaming councils for it, as Michael Rosen has pointed out today, is a Government deception that many more are beginning to see through.

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“Amateurisation”: mergings, post offices and unstaffed opening

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National Libraries Day, Scots kid’s cards … and Batman

Editorial

What passes for a quiet time in libraries for the last few days. I’ve put National LIbraries Day first because it’s important and the next couple of months will be a good time to start preparing for it.  The high point of this point, though, is undoubtedly Batman using a self-service machine. Why? Because it’s Batman, dudes.

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Just £100k, volunteers and some curious stock policies

Editorial

More information on the announcement from Nicky Morgan about support for public libraries in schools. The announcement dates from a manifesto commitment in March and involves £100k of funding to the Reading Agency.  More details on how it is being used is here. So, this is far from the automatic child library membership apparently raised in the headline.

For those of you in CILIP, please take note if you have not already seen it that there is a motion requiring the association to automatically oppose new volunteer libraries due to be voted on at the AGM.  However you intend to vote, make sure that you do, if you can.  If you can’t get to the meeting (it’s in London), you can get someone else to cast your vote by proxy. This may be an opportune time to have a look at the arguments for and against volunteers running libraries so I have updated the relevant pages on PLN.

Finally, there’s an article from Moscow that looks like a blast from the past to me.  Apparently, the Russian librarians are getting worried about the dodgy nature (50 Shades and all that) of books that their library users (how dare they) insist on reading and are putting in new policies to ensure that “quality” stuff like Dostoyevsky is bought instead.  This may sound like pure snobbery and reactionism but is part of a constant battle in libraries, between those who think the purpose of libraries is, in broad strokes, to give the people what they want and those who think that libraries should be edifying places of education. Similarly (although those who made the decision may well be shocked by the comparison), there are reports that a German library has removed “politically incorrect” materials from the shelves, pointing out the worry some librarians have with stuff that may be offensive to some.  The story has been taken up by several rightwing activist pages so I am not sure how reliable the news actually is but, assuming at least a kernel of truth, it’s an interesting comparison with Moscow nonetheless.

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Special: Automatic English child library membership? No, not really.

Editorial

It all started off so positively.  An announcement by Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education no less, that she would, in the words of the Telegraph headline writer, “enrol every child in the local library”. Great, I thought, this sounds like the Welsh scheme “Every Child a Library Member” that has been going on for more than a year and exactly the sort of thing that I remember Michael Rosen banging on about to politicans every time I’ve been privileged enough to hear him or read about him on library matters in the last five years.  The fact David Walliams was putting his name to it (well, sort of) in a national newspaper was also pretty good. I also thought that, at last, there would be some good news to leaven all the bad.  Indeed, I was a bit shocked by the completely negative reaction shown by many in news articles and social media about the news.

But let’s look at the detail. First off, it’s not clear exactly how much money is being put in – the exact figure is, suspiciously, never quoted – into the starting of 200 reading groups. By my calculations of how much Chatterbooks stuff costs, it could be as low as the low tens of thousands of pounds (but, to be fair, is probably a fair bit higher).  That’s pretty cheap for a government initiative and for positive headlines in a national newspaper. Secondly, there is also only “an ambition” for every child to be a member, not an actual commitment and no figure is quoted anywhere for this either.  It looks like Nicky Morgan has only, at a minimum (and again I hope there is more than this) committed to encourage schools, in some way undescribed (perhaps by a letter? – but even this is not confirmed) to get their kids to join up. At the best therefore, this announcement will go some limited way towards increasing child membership and it looks like it will in no way be the automatic thing such a headline suggests.

Another point to consider is how negative the reaction was to the news from so many people and so quickly. This shows the strong polarisation, even hatred, caused by years of cuts and campaigning for libraries. A whole government term (and change)  of effectively complete inaction over public libraries during a time of the most historically deep cuts in them is hardly going to win the Tories much praise.  But whether this is the best strategy to win friends amongst people ultimately deciding our fates for the next five years, I am not entirely sure.  I know if I was Nicky Morgan reading some of the reactions I’ve seen then I’d be thinking “well, there’s no point doing anything for them any more”. Or, has this Government got so bad and so morally and ethically blackened that there should be complete opposition to them no matter what? Is everything they do libraries-wise too little too late and written for propaganda purposes? I am honestly uncertain on the matter of automatically dismissing all Government library announcements, even after five years of being disappointed. Let’s hope, therefore,  today’s headlines live up to their promise and I get to keep what remains of my innocence.

P.S. I’d just like to see that I’ve noticed twice (Birmingham last week and now today) CILIP immediately offering immediate help and assistance in public library matters. This is a bit different to the measured and somewhat time-delayed responses some have noted in the past and that, even if all else is a chimera today, is something to hang on to. Fingers crossed.

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Is it fine to fine?

Editorial

The proposal by Angus Libraries to remove overdue book fees appears to run counter to the straitened times in which we live but it has certainly caused some conversations.  The theory is that removing fines will remove the fear borrowers have if they have late books and thus they will return long-lost books.  It will also remove a fear of those wavering about joining because of fear about being looked at sternly over the counter.  There is also of course the important point that the removal of fines will allow greater access by disadvantaged social groups.  Truly free book lending has been a part of the landscape in some authorities for years for children (with a move towards withdrawing fines in, for example, West Dunbartonshire a decade ago apparently doing well) but rarely for adults so this is an interesting move.  If it garners new members, a (however counter-intuitive) increase in stock and good press then all to the good.  More cash-strapped authorities, facing big cuts in funding. may look at Angus with incredulity at the move (especially if they live in Canada).  We’ll see if it’s a success and whether, in a few years time, we all get on the bandwagon.

Related to this is the thorny issue of lost books and fines recovery – it you’re interested in these (as well as a brief treatment on removing fines) then see the PLN page here.  For those interested in the ethics and reasoning behind fines (or no fines), David McEnemy has very kindly made his essay on the subject available here.  And you may also want to see the (a bit dated now) Guardian article on the subject here.

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Ideas

  • Drones – Public library drone for training users / recording events etc (forthcoming)
  • Honorary library card given to an animal – Good publicity tool.

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Public libraries as charity basket case

Editorial

It must have come as a surprise to many librarians preparing to face hordes of children at work that “no one goes to libraries” but that’s what BBC Breakfast presenter Charlie Stayt said on a brief item on public libraries on Friday.  This item included Alan Gibbons and Tim Coates slagging off (what passes for) national libraries policy, with Tim demanding Mr Vaizey resign and Alan point out that libraries are successful in other countries but have been left to shrivel and die here.  Tim also went on to claim that amalgamating all London library services would save so much money that budgets could be cut by two-fifths with no ill effect, which seems (how to put this politely?) unlikely and probably not all that helpful to the libraries in question. Interestingly, the BBC claimed that Ed Vaizey was not available for comment.  As soon as I tweeted this, Ed (who has suddenly started responding to library campaigners on Twitter after years of silence) replied that he was available for comment but the BBC never asked him.  To be honest, though, simply having a new minister without a radical change of stance (e.g. an actual willingness to intervene – not something likely from any Conservative politician) will not change much, however much one has a quarrel with Mr Vaizey.

The debate was of course inspired by the abysmal news from Birmingham about a library service which is now so cash starved it cannot buy new books nor, apparently, do basic maintenance. This has led to libraries across the country being seen as charity basket cases by some observers, with one website suggesting that gift magazine subscriptions are given to the poor things.  Whoopee doo. Let’s make this clear, during the Summer of all times, public libraries should be being seen as the wonderful enablers that they are, allowing all to be part of the community and to contribute to that community. They should not be seen as the equivalent to the disadvantaged that we should be blooming well be funded enough to help, not to be just equated with. Future generations will look back to this short-lived insanity and wonder what happened.  Let us hope that this period is brief enough that some libraries survive so that any such observers will realise the enormity of the tragedy of the current times.

Speaking Volumes

I’ve been asked by Carnegie UK Trust to highlight a survey they are doing of activities in public libraries.  Please complete if you can.

“Public libraries have a vital role to play in delivering on social, economic, cultural and education policy goals, all of which contribute to individual and community wellbeing. Our 2014 Speaking Volumes resource consists of a leaflet-poster and four databases of evidence that together demonstrate how libraries contribute to these four policy goals. They show the continuing relevance of public libraries, and their potential to contribute to many of the policy goals which governments are seeking to achieve. This year we are updating the information in our databases and are asking for your help to do so! So if you work in a library, please tell us about the activities that your library or library service runs by filling out the form below by 7 October 2015.”

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Outrage in Birmingham

Editorial

It was the shock of the image that did it.  A picture of a poster from a Birmingham library asking for donations as “we are no longer purchasing any new books or newspapers”.  After all, this is Birmingham, the home of the massive new Library opened by Malala Yousafzai in 2013 at a notional expense of £188m but, in reality, an awful lot more due to it being paid for over a period of years.  The whole city’s bookfund (around £1m – already reduced from £1.3m in 2011) is not five percent of the annual running costs of the behemoth that is the LoB. Now, add on the fact that the council greatly reduced the hours of its figurehead earlier this year and it all seems a bit of a bad deal.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that the poster was apparently done by someone in a branch – it wasn’t an officially centrally produced document – and that, in fact some items are still being purchased.  These would appear, though, just to be standing orders and selected recommendations from the public.  More to the point, I understand that the bookfund freeze may just be a “pause” until the Autumn in which case what you’ve got here is something that suddenly does not seem so gigantic.  Stopping buying books for a month or three is, after all, a hardly unknown practice in many authorities. Still, you’d think that the public relations department would have realised the massive embarrassment that such a decision would cause but. no, apparently it came as surprise.

Which is extra embarrassing as the thing is here that it isn’t just any authority.  This is Birmingham which deliberately linked the library to its whole image. That is actually a laudable move and has been shown to work in other places but, oh, so much not this time. Why? Well, the decision to build the whopping great big new library was made just before the coalition came in – so it was based on some basic assumptions like, ooh I don’t know, that budgets wouldn’t be cut by two fifths (or more) with no effective intervention under any circumstances by the libraries minister.  It was also based on the rather optimistic assumption that there’d be a lot of philanthropy which, in reality, just plain didn’t happen.  2015 has been a long list, so far, of things that can largely be explained by seeing a council that has realised what deep poo it is in and is flailing around frantically for any solution at all. Some of it (the British Library collaboration, even perhaps Google if it is done right) is promising but so much of it smacks of desperation and this not the least. And, by the way, Birmingham, the bookfund should be one of the last things to go. After all, books are still the main purpose of libraries even if we all pretend it’s computers and glossy stuff.  Their importance is declining, to be sure, but a public library without new books is still a sad and tragic thing to behold. And a £188m one – intended (quite rightly and laudably and in better times) as a magnet for the whole city – to have no new books in it is, well, something that should be covered in all the media and should be shocking.  If only Pour Encourager Les Autres.

And Ed? Debate Alan Gibbons on the issue yes? At a time (say a Saturday) when people can actually get to see it? Thank you.

“Due to public savings cuts we are no longer purchasing any new books or newspapers. Therefore we’re looking for any books published in the last 12 months to be donated to the library. All gratefully received” Notice appearing in some Birmingham libraries

“”Without new books, the people who rely on libraries won’t be able to get what they need. It will affect those who need to use libraries the most: people on a low wage, students, the elderly. “We need central government and councils to understand the value of libraries and what they provide. At the moment, they are seen as a soft target. The whole situation is just dire.” Elizabeth Ash

““We are continuing to look at how we secure the future of all our community libraries but whilst that work is underway we need to make tough choices to save money. “One of those choices is a pause on the book fund.” Cllr Penny Holbrook, Birmingham lead for libraries. “we are also reviewing the future operating model for the council as a whole it makes no sense to reorganise the libraries ahead of this. The reorganisation of the council – Future Council – will go out to consultation during the autumn.”

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Swindon Libraries have "the book pedlar": a clever bicycle display used at events

Read on Get On, Scots Wifi, Donaldson and the rest of the library news

Editorial

Nationally, this week marks the start of the interesting “Read On Get On” Penguin Random House partnership – most libraries will have already received some (high quality) material from it, and it’s hopeful there’ll be more. More locally, it has become clear that Herefordshire will be the grounds of a major battle between the council and library users. Similarly, the cuts in Southampton are being bitterly resisted, with celebrity Chris Packham adding his voice to the fray while councillors point to the success of volunteer libraries elsewhere in the UK to justify the suggested cuts. Meanwhile, in Lincolnshire, where library campaigners have recently lost a second round of legal action, it’s full steam ahead with volunteers being encouraged to take over local branches. The  lead councillor there is not exactly setting the bar high for recruitment – if you’re retired and “want to get out of the house” then you’re in. The interviews must be, presumably, pretty relaxed with that sort of qualification requirement.

Ideas

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