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“Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding”

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National

  • Good for Goodman? – Leon’s Library Blog.  “the obvious question becomes what exactly constitutes a ‘core professional service’? For many politicians a small group of professionally managed libraries overseeing or working in partnership with a wide circle of ‘volunteer libraries’ is considered a core service.” … “Labour has already stated that it will keep to the current government’s spending cuts so don’t expect any increases in grants to councils, which in turn will see reduced funding to library services continue.” [Interesting comment about the difference between small urban libraries and small rural libraries too - Ed.]
  • Guest post: Library campaigner Alan Wylie - Reading for London. Looks at aspects of public libraries including cuts to library staff, impact of libraries on social equality, need for trained staff (and danger of volunteers). “So in the run up to the 2014 local and the 2015 general elections it’s vital that we let our MP’s and councillors know that cuts to library services are a false economy. They have a wide-ranging and detrimental effect on the educational and socio-economic wellbeing of our communities.After all, ‘Libraries gave us power’, as say the Manic Street Preachers:”
  • Pam Rhodes to host The 2014 Speaking Volumes Christian Book Awards – Speaking Volumes. “Pam Rhodes, presenter of BBC Songs of Praise, will be hosting this year’s Speaking Volumes Christian Book Awards at the International Christian Resources Exhibition, Sandown, on 13th May … The awards recognise literature that appeals to a wide readership – not just Christians – and that could be considered an asset to public libraries across the UK. Indeed, it has been the public who have been keenly voting from a shortlist of five books in both the adult and children’s category.” … “The sponsor and organiser of the event – Speaking Volumes – match-funds the purchase of Christian books for donating to any library where a book or DVD can be borrowed.”
  • Snapshot: 10 Photos of the Most Epic Libraries in the U.K. – BBC America. “With the digital age making information available at the click of a button, it’s easy to forget about the draw of a library. But there’s nothing like walking into a library, with so much material in front of you, all under one roof. The best bit, it’s quiet! Let’s take a peek at some of the U.K.’s impressive libraries with this snapshot of 10 photos …” – Libraries are British Library, Manchester Central, Shrewsbury, Eton, Radcliffe, Bodleian.

Supporter message

  • An insight into an era with Who Was Who - This month sees the release of the third volume of Who Was Who, the standard reference book in libraries around the world, providing autobiographical articles from influential figures from all walks of life. Who Was Who covers the years between 1897 and 1940, offering a unique snapshot of that era: articles include those of Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie, and H.G. Wells. Explore them here using our latest feature article.

International

  • Everything you need to know about librarians – Vox (USA). “The median librarian earns $55,690 [£33,000 - Ed] which is above the national median of $46,440 but well below the median $63,400 earned by people with master’s degrees. Slightly over 0.1 percent of employed Americans are librarians.”.  Education employs the most US librarians.  Charts show which states have the most librarians.
  • It’s Time to Thank a Librarian – Children’s Books (USA). ”Do you have a special librarian that you’d like to honor? Click on “Comments” below and share what makes that librarian special.  I still fondly remember Miss Wright, the children’s librarian at the Westfield Public Library when I was growing up in Westfield, New Jersey.”

“It’s still National Library Week. You should be especially nice to a librarian today, or tomorrow. Sometime this week, anyway. Probably the librarians would like tea. Or chocolates. Or a reliable source of funding.” Neil Gaiman

  • Public Libraries - ALA. The annual summary of what has happened in US public libraries.  Headings include The public values libraries’ deepening community engagement; A range of services elicits a range of responses; Internet gains as a way of visiting the library; In Kentucky, tax rulings pose a grave threat to library funding; Are libraries becoming scapegoats for concerns about property taxes?; But elsewhere, libraries fare well in local funding referenda; Modest increase reported in funding for state libraries; State library funding for local public libraries also a mixed bag; Rural and small public libraries provide critical services and resources; Digital Public Library of America opens access to millions of items.

Events

  • IFLA Satellite Conference: Public Library Futures in a global digital world - IFLA. 12th August at Library of Birmingham.  ”Organised by the Public Libraries Section of ILFA, in collaboration with CILIP and the Society of Chief Librarians in England,  this satellite conference is hosted by the new Library of Birmingham and provides an opportunity to discuss the latest developments in the public library world in the largest and most iconic public library in Europe.”

UK local news by authority

  • Devon – Council considers allowing local communities to run Devon libraries - Exeter Express and Echo. “Roger Croad, Devon’s cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, told a meeting of cabinet last week that it was not his intention to close any libraries, but he also stressed that he “never said I will not close any libraries”.
  • East Sussex – Mobile library services could be scrapped – Argus. “Mobile library services could be lost as part of moves to save more than £130,000. East Sussex County Council is to decide whether to launch a consultation on planned changes to when and where the library visits”. 17 stops lost. Half of mobile library users use static buildings too.
  • North Yorkshire – Library outlet opens in Deansfield Court, Norton - Gazette and Herald. “A new outlet has been provided in Yorkshire Housing’s Deansfield Court Extra Care Housing Scheme at Furlongs Avenue, off Beverley Road. The facility, which includes a lounge area with café, is the latest addition to a new generation of library services across the county, located in settings such as schools, village halls and extra care facilities.”
  • Sandwell – Libraries face job cuts in restructure - Express and Star. “all of the 14.86 management posts currently held at the council’s libraries are deleted and replaced with just 8.86 posts.” … “Of the six posts set to go, four are currently vacant and will be dissolved, but two members of staff will be offered voluntary redundancy. There will also be changes to how the council’s archive service is managed that will see the services frontline provision run from Smethwick Library, but the number of jobs will remain the same.” … “Sandwell Library and Information Service have been asked to deliver saving £343,000 for 2014/15.” Job losses account for £165 of cut. “This is the latest round of job cuts in the service after officers where set the task in 2012 of reducing the number of posts by 50 per cent, from 18.86 to 9.86.” … “The council already shaved £300,000 off its library budget in 2013/14 and cut a further £880,000 in the two years before that.” [The one comment on this post says that these management posts probably were not needed in the first place and won't be missed - Ed.].

Shadow Minister for Libraries speaks

Editorial

The Shadow Minister for Libraries, Helen Goodman MP, appears to have been spurred into action by the coachload of Lincolnshire library campaigners who visited parliament last week.  In a visit to Ermine Library, she stressed the need for professional librarians and a standard library service throughout the country, rather than the current “postcode lottery”.  She has written to the Minister demanding intervention in Lincolnshire where three quarters of libraries are under threat.  Councillor Nick Worth, the local man in charge of libraries, rather impressively – considering the sheer scale of the cuts he is overseeing if noting else – called the cuts a “win-win situation” for Lincolnshire.  After one does breathing exercises, perhaps also taking the dog for a walk and putting a cold flannel on your forehead, you’re probably going to be able to cope with the reason for this claim being that volunteers will mean the service is cheaper and that there will be an overall increase in service points as there will be some shelves of books in other buildings (hopefully not telephone boxes) as well.  Never mind the quality, look at the quantity appears to be his view. Whatever the result, the power of campaigning in grabbing the attention of politicians has been demonstrated.

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Library-affirming

Editorial

It’s National Library Week in the USA and there’s some wonderful pro library stuff coming out of it.  I especially like the one, naturally, that gives ten reasons why librarians are awesome.  I think we knew that all along but it’s good to see it on screen.  The nice thing about these American articles is that, although cuts are mentioned, they are all very positive in tone.  There is hope there.  Library usage is increasing and new ideas are being embraced. They are, in other words, library-affirming.

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Stories from the Web

Editorial

My last item, probably, on children’s library webpages.  John Dolan has kindly pointed out to me that Stories from the Web has been doing much of the work for those authorities who buy into it for years. I hadn’t really come across it before and there lies the problem – only 17 authorities in the UK buy into it.  How many more will continue to do so as the cuts further bite can only be guessed at.  It strikes me that this is something that could usefully be done nationally and avoid the vagaries of individual authorities.  It would also mean that the website could forget about its cumbersome need at the moment for the prospective user to go to a physical library for a username and password.  Like so many other things, this is something that Sieghart could perhaps be looking at in his review. There are other areas too – like the much discussed libraries development agency, marketing, etc – that could be better done nationally but are so often not at the moment which could usefully be the subject of some research.  Here’s hoping.

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Lincolnshire campaigning masterclass, children’s webpages and e-readers

Editorial

The coachload of Lincolnshire campaigners who visited Parliament and Downing Street have shown great ingenuity and determination in trying to save libraries.  Seven MPs, including two shadow ministers, met them in parliament – with others offering support – and a specially produced book “The Tip of the Iceberg” was presented to 10 Downing Street.  The whole thing showed a great deal of commitment and an example of best practice for any other library campaigners out there.  I’ve added it the A to Z of library campaigning tactics page.

I asked a couple of days ago about whether there were specific library webpages for children.  A few of you have got in touch with examples, with the major one being from Devon and called “The Zone”.  I’m told that ”the site won an award from CILIP PPRG in 2005 but has been redeveloped since. It still proves very popular and we use it as a vehicle not only to promote services but also reward their work.”.  I especially like the “Spin” banner for highlighting parts of the site, its colour and general fun-ness.  Downsides are that it’s quite small (but, then, a whole lot bigger than a pile of authorities who don’t have anything at all) and it’s still advertising World Book Day.  Otherwise, children’s library websites tend to be of a simple listing type like Hampshire or Cambridgeshire.

So why this paucity?  Well, I think it’s a mixture of things – council IT policies saying no, it being neither the children’s librarian job or the IT specialist’s job, lack of financing, imagination or, possibly, a suspicion that children will not use the service.  Whatever the reasons, Devon shows that it can be successful so let’s hope more come to light or are created.

I recently asked another question about libraries providing e-readers.  It appears that Aberdeenshire and Suffolk are both piloting e-reader lending.  Sadly, I would say this puts the UK a comfortable two or three years behind the USA in this matter: although I hope more evidence comes to light.  Now it may be that this country has gained by being slow about this as e-readers are probably a transitional technology, with tablet PCs replacing them.  Being e-readers are now as cheap as £25, though, the risks (and, crucially, costs) of lending them out – and providing advice on how to use them – is becoming less. We’ll see if UK authorities, fighting as they are with major cuts, get a grasp on this issue or leave it to go the way of children’s library webpages.

Please send news, comments and thoughts to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk

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Leicestershire have 36 in danger; Ceredigion; and awards.

Editorial

Every UK public library authority now has at least a webpage or two advertising its services but how many have a webpage just for what libraries provide for children? I don’t know of any.  For such a key part of the library clientele, this seems to be a bit odd … so I hope you’re all going to impress with me with tons of great examples now: please send them in (along with any news or thoughts) to me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk, thank you.

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Total annual expenditure in England, inflation adjusted as percentage of 2012 spending

Good luck to the Lincolnshire campaigners tomorrow

Editorial

The figures below are similar to the ones from yesterday but just for England.  They show the cut in overall budgets is 30% since 2009/10.  Perhaps the wonderfully determined Lincolnshire campaigners can mention that to Number Ten when they’re there tomorrow over the little matter of the council giving away 32 out of its 45 librariesPerhaps also the Culture Secretary Maria Miller may be willing to give a donation the cause as I understand she may have some extra money hanging around at the moment that is causing her some embarrassment.

Total annual expenditure in England, inflation adjusted as percentage of 2012 spending

Total annual expenditure in England, inflation adjusted as percentage of 2012 spending

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UK libraries spending reduced by up to 29% in just three years

Editorial

Tim Coates put in the comments section a few days ago the total expenditure on libraries in the UK over the last ten years.  He is, amongst other things, a key holder of library statistics, with the ones cited coming from Cipfa.  I had a play with them and came up with the following graphs that may be useful (and added them on the statistics page too).

The figures below show a drop in spending of 29% from its peak in 2009/10 if one takes in to account inflation. This is likely to be an exaggeration, however, as spending on staff salaries has been frozen (or nearly so: it was 1% last year) for the last three years and staffing represents a large percentage of overall library costs. If one ignores inflation completely, the decline from peak is more than halved at 13.8%. The true answer will likely be somewhere between the two figures.

 

2002 to 2012 raw stats

Source: Cipfa figures. Percentage calculated using Bank of England calculator at http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/Pages/inflation/calculator/flash/default.aspx

If we accept the inflation adjustments, we can see that spending is fallen by around a fifth compared to the average of the good times before. We can also see that the drop has been 10% per year since the coalition government took over, which is really quite something to think about.  If one is being optimistic and completely ignores inflation, libraries are back to same level as the decade before. Aren’t statistics fun?

2002 to 2012 percentage of 2012

Total annual expenditure inflation adjusted as percentage of 2012 spending

Well, no, they’re not.  These statistics are a tragedy, marking the sorrowful ripping apart of the false dawn of public libraries whose final glories have only just finished in the opening of Manchester Central Library (admittedly, though, some of the money could have been better spend - for example at the Library of Birmingham).  Just look at that precipitous drop, which even the non-inflation adjusted chart below is showing. Bear in mind also that some authorities, notably in England, are doing markedly worse than others.  The figures are improved by showing that of the other constituent parts of the UK. 

2002 to 2012 chart showing all

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DCMS, Powys, Northern Ireland and a whole ton of maps

Editorial

A parliamentary question by Helen Goodman has revealed that libraries will received £93 million in grant in aid from the DCMS in 2015/16.  This appears to compares to £111 million in 2012/13. Another day and another news items suggesting deep cuts in a council’s library service: this time in Powys where two-thirds of their libraries are now considered under threat.  Gone are the days when Wales was seen as being more protected than England when it came to cuts.  Over in Northern Ireland, though, well done to a nice animated feature tooting the fact all libraries there have WiFi. To round off this survey of one news item from each part of the UK, I was delighted to see that the Scottish are providing free online access to many thousands of old English and Welsh maps.  That’s going to be really useful for a whole load of people.  Thank you kindly.

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Devon shows how hard things are … and more on the Unnecessary PIN.

Editorial

The news from Devon is not good.  After a 30% cut over the last five years, the service is undergoing a further 20%+ cut in the next three years.  That would be difficult to sustain for any organisation and I do not envy them the task: the blame for such a move must primarily be borne by central government who have mandated such a huge cut in Devon’s budget and by the libraries minister who has oh so carefully made it clear that there’s no way he’s going to intervene in library cuts under any circumstances.

The service, under Ciara Eastell, the President-Elect of the Society of Chief Librarians, is looking for ideas and offers on how to cope.  The options listed are what I am getting to see as the increasingly normal ones: retrenchment into fewer big libraries, co-location with other services and an appeal for volunteers/community groups to take over the smaller ones. However, the three month consultation is looking for ideas so other options may come forward.  This is, as far as I can tell, an information seeking exercise.  Expect harsher and tougher decisions if no good answers come back.

Another thing to bear in mind in this is that Devon is widely seen as a very forward thinking library service.  It’s won awards and, soon, will have one of the first (the first?) dedicated public library Maker Space in the country. The bosses there (from what I can tell from this distance – and I know others may argue differently) are very keyed into what works.  In the US or in South Korea, they’d be doing exciting things and looking forward to an expanding situation. They’re just facing a very much darker and difficult situation here and, I suspect, are really trying to do their best.

How the cuts are written about, incidentally, could be used as the very model an academic exercise in how people with different agendas report the same story.  The council press release is the epitome of rosy-tinted wonderfulness.  It’s the sort of thing that pleases councillors and infuriates those who actually understand what’s going on, not least of which any library supporter who will see right through it into the cuts beyond. The piece by Ciara Eastell, intended for a library practitioner audience, is far more moderate and, while obviously not pessimistic, is more realistic in tone.  There’s some real hope there. Then we have the BBC which, naturally, concentrates on the headline that 28 out of 50 may close.  The truth is, I suspect, some will close but some will be taken over by volunteers and some will survive in a council-run state.  Time will tell.  Best of luck to all involved, not least of which the many staff in the affected branches who have got to be feeling very bad right now, awards or no.

On another matter, my piece expressing bewilderment at the need to require PINs as well as library cards on self-service machines for taking out books in some authorities has caused some feedback.  It seems some library authorities do, some don’t.  Those that do argue it’s for security reasons.  Those who don’t, well, haven’t noticed much difference either way. There’s been, of course, no actual research done on whether PINs do improve security. It’s just guessing. For me, I can see the need for it, perhaps (and I remain to be entirely convinced) for adult films/games and some need of security for online subscriptions in order to stop someone in France accessing a subscription bought in Manchester.

But for books? Please. The unspoken truth in library circles is that, actually, it’s really easy to steal a library book.  I’m not going to go into details here for fear people will think a bunch of criminals read Public Libraries News and will seize on it to go on an orgy of theft.  I will instead content myself with giving difficult clues for just two of the multitude of methods that every library assistant knows every library thief is aware of. Ready? Thinking caps on, folks, here it comes.  Method 1 – books have tags in.  Now this impossibly hard hint for Method 2 – libraries have windows.  If you’ve managed to solve those two riddles, congratulations. I hope you’ll join with me in thinking that PINs for books just prevent legitimate usage and do nothing to prevent theft.

No, the only reason for PINs for book stock is over caution and lack of actual research, with perhaps some group think thrown in. Please don’t see technology as an opportunity for putting in new blocks to usage, folks. We need to encourage people into our libraries, not give them reasons to be frustrated with them.

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