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A Labour library mess-up and the police in libraries

Editorial

You know where the parliamentary Labour Party has been when it comes to standing up for public libraries over the last year or so? Absolutely nowhere. And now we know why: the minister for libraries, Chi Onwurah, wanted to do something about it – indeed, did do a fair bit of research on it – but confusion as to who was doing what messed up the whole deal. I’ve emailed and tweeted Chi asking for the release of what research she has done as it would be such a shame to see such work going to waste.

Moving police, and traditional police jobs like lost-and-found forms, into libraries has also made the news.  Councils, and police forces, see the co-operation as sensible one to deliver services at reduced costs. Meanwhile, others worry that a police presence in libraries spoils their neutrality and would deter some (no, not criminals, although presumably they won’t be impressed either, I mean some ethnic and religious groups) from using them.  In practice, we’re all seeing such co-locations more and more often as cold financial reality makes bedfellows of more and more services that would once have been separate. There’s also advantages to a library for having, say, PCSO surgeries in the buildings. What’s needed, is a proper consideration of the impact before decisions are made.

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National news

  • Announcement: free access to Oxford Bibliographies – Oxford University Press. “We are pleased to announce that two content modules from Oxford Bibliographies Online are now available free of charge to all public library authorities across the UK and Ireland. Your library members will be able to access the Victorian Literature and British and Irish Literature modules both within the library and remotely via library card access.”
  • Corbyn’s ‘ineffectiveness’ meant Labour library campaign was ‘wasted’ – BookSeller. “When Thangam Debbonaire was appointed as a dedicated shadow minister for the arts in January, there was a negotiation about the division of responsibilities with Chi and Thangam, but at no point was anyone sacked. We regret that Chi feels she was singled out, but this was clearly not the case.” Corbyn has backed a national libraries demonstration which is due to take place on the 5th November. He pledged that a Labour government would ‘in-source’ public and local council services and increase access to leisure, arts and sports across the country. “
  • Digital Champions sharing skills in libraries around the country – Lloyds Banking Group. “Earlier this year, research from our Group identified more than 11.1m individuals across the UK lack basic digital skills. One of the ways the Group is helping to address this is through a first of its kind partnership between Halifax and the Society of Chief Librarians. Launched with the help of the Minister of Culture and the Digital Economy at the beginning of the year, the partnership aims to boost levels of digital skills around the country, and help the almost six million adults in the UK who have never used the internet, to get online.” … “So far, the scheme has worked in partnership with more than 80 libraries and provided upwards of 200 hours of colleagues’ volunteering time and continues to add more libraries to the roster every month.”
  • Future Libraries Hackathon – Carnegie UK. “The library service is re-imagining its role and functions: working in different ways in order to be sustainable and relevant. The Future Libraries Hackathon will bring together multi-disciplinary teams of students, graduates and entrepreneurs to work together over 4-days in Edinburgh (13-16 October ’16) to create working technical prototypes of new products or services. Participants will investigate how libraries can reinvent themselves as digital spaces – with a focus on user experience, maker spaces and digital inclusion. The Future Libraries Mini-Forge, held on 21st June 2016, was an invite only 1-day event for the SLIC Digital Champions, to demonstrate the potential of the main event format. We worked with library data from a library management system and generated ideas for challenges. Read our Storify for more. At the main Hack in October, participants will be charged with creating a new product or service over four days. They’ll seek out a business opportunity and conduct user research, hand in hand with the development of a working technical prototype. The event ends with a demo evening where the teams deliver a 10 minute presentation to a panel of experts.”
  • Improve stock selection using Nielsen LibScan & BookScan for Libraries – Wednesday 28 September 2016, 11am. Gain a better understanding of how to use Nielsen LibScan and BookScan for Libraries more effectively. This freewebinar will demonstrate how to use library lending data and Nielsen BookScan sales data to inform buying decisions, event planning and stock assessments. The webinar will be hosted by Sara Mulryan, Retailer Account Manager at Nielsen Book Research, and will include: The key differences between author and title charts; How to run a timeline and trended timeline; How to understand and manipulate the reports to inform your stock selection; The webinar will also include a first look at the new landing page for Nielsen LibScan and BookScan for Libraries which will be released soon.
  • Increased reading and literacy: how libraries deliver – Public Libraries Taskforce. “This is the first in a series of posts in which we aim to explore the outcomes that libraries support individuals and communities in their area to achieve. As was stated in the post which introduced the new libraries minister, he is keen to ensure that libraries are recognised for the value they add, and laid out a series of areas where libraries do just that” … “Below is the icon we have created to symbolise this outcome. To make it easier to spot related content, you’ll start to see this on material produced by the Libraries Taskforce that relates to work being done that supports this outcome and, as it’s freely available to download from this folder, perhaps in other places too?”
  • Labour MP: In any other job, Jeremy Corbyn would have faced an industrial tribunal – New Statesman. Chi Onwurah: “Jeremy made it impossible for two of the very few BME women MPs to do their jobs properly, undermining both us and Labour’s role as the voice of opposition to the government. I had undertaken a hugely labour-intensive Freedom of Information request on library opening hours, correlating the results to demonstrate how they had fallen exponentially under the Tories. It was impossible to launch a Labour opposition campaign to protect libraries when no one knew if they were part of my brief or not.  All that work went to waste.”

Power to Change Community Business Survey 2016. Power to Change, the organisation set up to grow and support community businesses in England, has commissioned Social Finance to conduct research into the state of the community business market. We would love to get your input! This research is part of an ongoing initiative by Power to Change to collect and publish in-depth, up to date information on community businesses in England, and identify market trends. The 2015 report can be seen online here. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, and aims to assess recent developments and measure confidence levels within different sectors. The findings will help to build a comprehensive dataset on the community business market, and will inform the future development of Power to Change. To thank you for your time, you will be entered into a prize draw to win community business produce worth £50.  Click here to fill out the Community Business Survey 2016. Many thanks for taking part”

  • Public and Academic Libraries – Learning and Working in Partnership – National Acquisitions Group. “NAG conference offers unique cross-sector networking opportunities between libraries, suppliers and publishers alongside a full programme of 11 papers, panel sessions, and the opportunity to attend two of the four workshops offered.  We received excellent delegate feedback in 2015 and we hope we can continue to exceed expectations.”. Includes The Story of Local Authority to Outsourced Service by Fiona Tarn, Senior Libraries Development Manager, Carillon Services and #whatsYourStory by Alison Millar, Leeds Library and Information Service.
  • Public libraries, police and the normalisation of surveillance – Infoism. “In an era of unjustified, economically incoherent cuts in investment in public services, there has been an increasing drive to make various parts of the public sector work together to cut costs (“cut costs” in a very superficial sense of course). One such collaboration that keeps popping up is a partnership between the police and public libraries. An idea that should never even be entertained, let alone discussed as a serious and reasonable proposition.” … “Where there is a police presence, no matter how abstract it may be, there is a risk to people of colour. ” [This strikes me as a somewhat extreme statement – Ed.] … “As public libraries increasingly become a place where the state seeks to control and observe the intellectual behaviour of others on the basis of supposed threats posed by organised terror, so public libraries lose their purpose. They cease to become places of exploration and interrogation and become nothing more than repositories of state sanctioned ideas and values. This process of normalisation needs to stop, for the benefit of all the communities we serve.”
  • Summer reading challenges – for grownups – Public Libraries Taskforce. “The Adult Reading Challenge in Oxfordshire, A Midsummer Night’s Read, has got off to a good start. We are running the challenge between 9 July and 10 September with a Grand Prize Draw afterwards (drawn from those who successfully completed the challenge) – the prizes will be announced at the end of September / early October. Great support this year from local businesses and organisations – double the amount last year – due to greater community awareness. There is no doubt that this enhances the take-up from library members!”. Other initiatives include Shropshire, Sheffield and Derbyshire.
  • UK Parliament Week 2016 and libraries – CILIP. “This year’s UK Parliament Week will take place from 14-20 November 2016. Preparations are now in full swing, but we need your help. This is your chance to get your library more involved in Parliament, generating ideas and  discussion about democracy. Your time is limited. That’s why we’re asking you to do just three things to make UK Parliament Week a success. You don’t have to do them all, but the more you can manage, the better this year’s programme will be. “
  • Use Nielsen BookData Online more effectively – Wednesday 7 September 2016, 11am –  This free webinar, hosted by Kelly Francis Saetta – UK Key Account Manager for Nielsen Book Discovery and Commerce Services – will provide a step-by-step guide to Nielsen BookData Online’s key features including: search and stock selection; checking price and availability; sorting search results by Nielsen BookScan sales ranking (available for UK, Australia and New Zealand markets); creating, storing and sharing book lists; backlist promotion; setting up new title alerts; exporting reports; By the end of this webinar you will be familiar with Nielsen BookData Online’s key features and how they can be used to improve internal processes and customer service saving your library time and money”

International news

  • Australia – School Joins Street Libraries Movement In A Tiny Reading Revolution – Vocal. “Tiny street libraries popping up in front yards across Australia could soon outnumber conventional public libraries and encourage a love of books among children as schools get on board.”
  • Global – Four EIFL Public Library Innovation Award winners – EIFL. Winners are ‘Cercle de lecture et d’animation culturelle’ (CLAC), whose mobile library  service offers online mathematics and computer coding classes to under-resourced schools in Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon; Cyberiada public library, which has inspired children in the town of Elblag in Poland to take action to protect the environment through their environmental education service; Kaunas Municipal ‘Vincas Kudirka’ Public Library in Lithuania, which provides a dynamic and practical electronics, 3D design and computer coding education programme to motivate young people to take up careers in technology and engineering; Micoud Public Library in the island of St Lucia, whose computer and job-seeking skills training programme is building young people’s confidence to seek work.
  • Italy – The Italian government is giving teens €500 on their 18th birthday to spend on books – Independent. “In a move designed to remind young people that culture can enrich one’s life and bring people together, Italian citizens are to get a €500 (£430) ‘culture bonus’ on their 18th birthday. The initiative launches on 15 September, and the bonus can be spent on books, concerts tickets, theatre tickets, cinema tickets, museum visits and trips to national parks.”
  • USA – Birmingham Public Library Board Funds Innovative Cool Awards – Library Journal. “The awards, launched in April, grant each branch up to two $50 stipends per year to help improve an existing program or develop a new, innovative, “cool” program (because of its size, each department of the Central Library is eligible for two awards). Branch managers are asked to submit a paragraph or two describing the programs and how the funds would be used, no later than the 15th of each month, which are then reviewed by the board’s Advocacy Committee and submitted to the board for final approval. Two awards will be announced each month through the end of the year, at which time the board will review the program and decide whether to extend it into 2017.”
  • USA – 150 Free Things That Public Libraries Offer – Prudent Penny Pincher. “Public libraries offer a lot of free things that most people don’t know about. I know because I got my Master’s in Library Science; otherwise, I probably would have never known that you could get much more than books and media at the library.” Includes new ones to me such as electric car charging, bedwetting kits and MP3 players.
  • USA – Op-ed: To stay relevant, libraries must rethink how they connect to communities – Newsworks. “individuals and communities they serve. The field is in need of greater cross-sector partnerships. Libraries can do a better job of collaborating with like-minded organizations working towards the public good. We’ve witnessed a model of this with Storytellers Without Borders, a partnership between the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Public Library. This project is engaging librarians and journalists to help high school students learn about their community while building digital journalism skills.”
  • USA – Poetic Twitter Bot Is Rescuing Public Library Images—with Emojis – Creators Project. “Tweet the alien emoji at @NYPLEmoji and it uses javascript to access a database of hand-selected pairings before firing back a vintage Harper’s Bazaar cover illustration announcing George du Maurier’s serial, The Martian. The “two hearts” emoji summons a Two of Hearts playing card from the George Arents Collection‘s impressive display of cigarette cards. The “tongue sticking out” pulls an amazing C. M. Martin snapshot of a chameleon in the act of catching a butterfly. The poop emoji, embedded at the bottom of this post, is surprisingly creative.”

Local news by authority

  • Angus – Cop counters move into Angus libraries as part of one-stop shop programme – Courier. “The move is part of six-figure plans to integrate Angus Council’s Access offices and libraries into a “one stop shop.” Police counters in Montrose, Brechin and Carnoustie were axed as the new body sought to achieve more than £60 million of savings following the introduction of Scotland’s single force. Police Scotland announced more than 60 counter closures around the country arguing that people can report crimes over the phone.” … “Councillors approved the initial phase of £2.3m investment in the integration programme for Carnoustie, Forfar and Montrose libraries. The estimated cost of the full integration programme across the county has been estimated at £4.2m with all work due to be completed by 2021.”
  • Cornwall – Upton Cross library facing closure as council calls on mobile service for villagers – West Briton. “A village library is to close and be replaced by a mobile service – the first victim of £1.8 million cuts imposed on the library service by Cornwall Council. The facility at Upton Cross near Callington, one of the smallest in Cornwall and based in the village school is open for only a few hours per week. Cornwall Council officials have been trying to find a local organisation willing to take over responsibility for the service, but now time is running out – and the school itself now needs the space once summer holidays end in a few weeks.”
  • Isle of Wight – Mobile Libraries Hit By Isle of Wight Council’s Funding Cuts – Isle of Wight Radio. “The local authority said it plans to reduce the number of stops from 77 to 53, focusing on those stops which are least used. The frequency of visits will also reduce from three-weekly to four-weekly, with the borrowing period of items adjusted to reflect this.” … “The reduction in the Mobile Library Service will save £23,500 annually, or the equivalent of one full-time post according to the local authority. Regular users and town and parish councils affected by this will be informed of the planned changes and asked for their views. Feedback on the plans will close on 30 September.” … “The Library Service is also working with AgeUK Isle of Wight to have its Home Library Service clients taken on by the AgeUK Isle of Wight ‘Good Neighbour’ volunteers. The intention is to have enough of these clients transferred over in 2017 to allow the mobile library schedule to return to three-weekly by the end of the year.”
  • Islington – Islington libraries are now offering Pokémon Go supplies – Islington Gazette. “Players can certainly expect a safe environment, after three teenagers were robbed at gunpoint while playing the game in Whittington Park last month. And it appears Islington Council is trying to expose more young people to the variety of services and activities on offer in its libraries.”
  • Lancashire – 2,450 sign Morecambe Library petition – Visitor. Against reduction in opening hours.
  • Lewisham – Library campaigners take fight to Lewisham council – Socialist Worker. “Around 80 campaigners protested in Lewisham, south east London, last Saturday against the Labour council’s cuts to the library service. Library worker Caroline told the rally that experienced workers had been made redundant or had their hours drastically cut in the past few weeks. She said, “We’re going to be left with just three libraries for the whole borough.””
  • Norfolk – Council library staff trained to help people file police reports – Local.gov. “Library staff at Norfolk County Council will be helping people access police services as part of a six month pilot scheme. The trial will see library staff help residents to complete online self-reporting forms, such as enquiring about lost and found items.” … “Members of the public using the library for a police related matter will be asked to complete a satisfaction survey. The results of the project will be presented the council and chief officers after the six month trail to assess if the new partnership has been a success.”
  • Norfolk – Police station counter services to move to libraries in pilot scheme in Norfolk – ITV. “A library isn’t the obvious place to report a crime but people will be able to from September at Thetford in Norfolk following the closure of the front desk at the town’s police station”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – These are the leisure centres, libraries, theatres and day centres in Rhondda Cynon Taff set to get WiFi – Wales Online. “In total, 40 buildings – ranging from council offices to leisure centres, libraries, theatres and day centre – will soon allow users to access public WiFi through the Sky Cloud.”

Fewer are Taking Part so let’s have a National Demonstration

Editorial

I’ve just had a very sunny week in Norway hence this is a combined news summary for the period since August 10th. So it’s a big one. The main news is the reduction in library usage – from, roughly, one half to one third of the population – in the last decade. That’s quite a steep decline. Public library popularity have also reduced in other countries of course but from the figures I have seen the reductions in budgets and usage are less, offset by increased visitors for “non-traditional” services and a slower decline in traditional numbers because, well, the stock is still good and the maintenance and furniture budget means they’re still attractive places to go. It’s also not helped, of course, by a rampant misunderstanding of the purposes of public libraries by some free-market extremists in this country – step forward the Adam Smith Institute below – who are positively gleeful at the destruction of something whose value they cannot, or will not, understand.

I’m glad to see that there will be a national libraries (and museums and galleries) demonstration on 5th November, an easy date to remember, to heighten the awareness of what is being lost.

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Since this picture was taken in Lough Library, the boy has persuaded his parents to buy a Labrador puppy.

Leading the way? Reading dogs in public libraries

Editorial

There’s some great initiatives in public libraries around the world but one I always think we don’t see enough of in the UK is that of bringing in dogs to help children with reading.  GLL mentioned that Lincolnshire libraries had a few reading dogs a week or two ago so I asked them for more information. The main story below is from them, followed by other links you may find useful. I’m aware Barnstaple also has reading dogs but does anyone else in the UK? If not, it’s worth asking yourselves if they’re possible – they do wonders getting reluctant readers into libraries, are great publicity and, frankly, the dogs are absolutely gorgeous.

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Lincolnshire libraries and reading dogs

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BFG at Louth Library during the Big Friendly Read

The quietest of times, the busiest of times

Editorial

The Summer counts as the quiet season for library news but the busiest for public libraries on the ground.  Tons of children coming to the desk asking for stickers and staff encouraging them to read more makes this the best time of year, with more events going on now than any other month. This post we have a report from Lincolnshire on what is going on there and I am sure it is being repeated elsewhere.  Do send me your stories about the great things you have done as well.

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The Big Friendly Read in Lincolnshire

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A communist approach to libraries? It’s falling short.

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Another mixed bag of news, with the continuing theme of councils – and proxy trusts – cutting down library services. It’s good to see Haringey bucking the trend with an upgraded library, though.  And it’s clear that a few councils have either backed down in a couple of cases because of unforeseen (and, really, in 2016, there’s no excuse not to foresee it) public pressure or because they never intended to put in such deep cuts in the first place and want to be seen as listening to the electorate.  The most interesting article I’ve read is that by Leon who points out that the new libraries minister is going to continue a hands-off approach, with an emphasis on facing further cuts to budgets by either alternative governance models (e.g trusts) or by replacing paid staff with volunteers. It will be up to campaigners to limit the damage inflicted to the service – which Frank Cottrell Boyce rightly lauds – anyway they can, with compromises sometimes being necessary.

I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before but I do find it ironic, almost amusing, that  right-wing Government is pushing for people to no longer being paid for labour but rather to work free for the good of all. It’s also quite interesting to note that it’s often those in the most prosperous areas that are willing to do it.  I’m not sure that many Conservative voters in Buckinghamshire realise that they’re inching closer to the Communist Manifesto by volunteering to keep their library open but it gives me a wry smile.  Perhaps Lenin mentioned Austerity a lot in the 1920s too. Anyway, up the revolution, my Tory (and many Labour: although – double irony – fewer Corbynista) friends. I guess.

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Take advantage of Love To Read

Editorial

More details on the BBC “Love To Read” promotion ae emerging.  The BBC tend not to do anything by halves, as I discovered when I was lucky enough to experience a children’s book promotion at the Library of Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, which featured hordes of people, Blue Peter and top league authors. So this is going to be a good thing for reading and, by extension, libraries. Take full advantage.  Other than that, it’s fairly quiet today in the UK, with a reduction in hours in Shropshire and a move of library in Staffordshire. Abroad, the article on a “secret” Syraina library is the stand out, showing how – when it comes down to it – libraries are actually pretty essential to people’s lives, especially when they have so little else.

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The first letter: New Libraries Minister speaks

Editorial

The new libraries minister has spoken, showing an interest in the field and an awareness of the Taskforce, amongst other things. He points out that his interest in volunteering has a bearing in libraries, which will be seen as a bad omen by many (especially paid staff) but he does single out young volunteers, which suggests he’s thinking more in terms of Reading Hacks.  It’s a good thing he has already had at least one meeting with public libraries people, anyway.

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Well, that’s not subtle: the new libraries minister is also minister for volunteers

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Rather confusingly, there is a new libraries minister.  It turns out that Matt Hancock, who has taken over most of the outgoing minister, Ed Vaizey’s, responsibilities, will not have the public library brief as well.  That honour goes to Rob Wilson MP who, rather delightfully, is also an MP for Reading. Less happily, his other duties are all about boosting volunteers and non-profits.  That may give a rather blatant pointer to where he will be standing on some of the key issues in libraries: it’s hard to see him coming out against increasing volunteers at the expense of paid staff in libraries when his other role is all about increasing them.  In addition, his own constituency is seeing some fairly major cuts to libraries.

The big news, other than this, is the big reduction to libraries announced in Derby.  Normally, before, the Central Library has been the branch most likely to be considered safe, with it being kept much the same as before while the poor branch libraries bear the brunt.  Not so in Derby.  There, it is specifically Central that will close, along with a massive 11 of the other 13, in order to cut costs. So that will keep a bare minimum of library provision in that city.  But don’t expect out new libraries minister to protest: after all, most of those others will be going to volunteers.

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Chris Riddell (L), Ed Vaizey (C - discovering he's the same height as a Twit, honestly) and Sue Williamson at the official Big Friendly Read launch.

Goodbye Ed Vaizey

Editorial

So Ed Vaizey is no longer libraries minister.  Readers of Public Libraries News will know what he has done, and what he hasn’t, for public libraries in the six years he has been in charge. Before being in power, he stridently called for interventions in libraries but when he was in power, he did not intervene effectively – other than nodding through deep cuts – in a single one. A nice enough chap, even charming I understand, he was perhaps constrained by his background, his ideology, notably that of localism and austerity, and by his colleagues in doing anything more.  Certainly, the Sieghart Review and the Taskforce are welcome, although they However, claiming that libraries were thriving when they self-evidently were not and calling in question the number of closures and depth of cuts when the evidence was there was all to see was, I suspect, all him. Or is it? We will see with his replacement, who has already claimed on Twitter to be a supporter of libraries has a similar relationship with cold hard. politically uncomforable, facts.

In other news, I’ve been following news of Pokémon Go visits to libraries throughout the country and many library services have not been slow in taking advantage, at least in social media. That’s all great to see, as are all the wonderful pictures of children joining the Big Friendly Read.

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Swindon: Campaigners were out in force to show their support for Swindon's libraries ahead of a full council meeting

Wifi, digital inclusion, NHS public libraries and a new Culture Secretary

Editorial

A couple of useful reports on public libraries – one on wifi and one on digital inclusion – to have a read through in this post. Arts Council England have also announced that the procedure for libraries to apply for their grants will soon change. In addition, there’s the amazing news that a Friend’s group in Suffolk has raised £30k for its library.  That’s a lot for a support group but, of course, small scale for a council but, if the council does not have any money …  There’s also an interesting article about the NHS in Staffordshire (there’s more info here by the way).

Speaking of Staffs, the new Culture Secretary comes from around there and has had some dealing with libraries in the past, speaking warmly of coffee mornings and attending the transfer of Werrington Library to a wellbeing centre, staffed by volunteers, So, she has at least shown an interest but, unsurprisingly, is of the same camp as other Conservatives on the way forward for libraries in these difficult times. By the way, Ed Vaizey has, at time of writing, not been promoted (or demoted) as far as I can see but is now a member of the privy council so will now be called “The Right Honourable”.

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