Uncategorized

It was a Happy National Libraries Day

Editorial

It has been brilliant seeing all the images about various events for National Libraries Day.  I really enjoyed taking part in it myself, going to a local leisure centre and asking people what they thought about libraries.  The responses were overwhelmingly positive and gave a real buzz.  As did seeing the National Libraries Day hashtag trending at number two on Twitter.  Pretty much everyone, too, got into the spirit of it, with notably fewer authorities seeing it with suspicion as being a campaigning thing (as it that were a bad thing) than previously.  All in all, it felt like a real birthday for libraries and everyone was partying, with public libraries being given a small modicum of the attention that they deserve, if only for a day.

The one duff note in the whole affair was libraries minister Ed Vaizey, comic villain of many a past PLN editorial (the reason I’ve not posted much recently is because I’ve been in pantomime last week by the way), claiming that he intervenes in libraries all the time and that Labour is the one that closes libraries.  You may “intervene” Ed, but you never actually stop any cuts happening, and library authorities – like Conservative-run Swindon just this week who want to get rid of 14 out of 15 – know that. And, by the way, since April, in those authorities which threatened library services with a majority party in control, six are Labour controlled and eight are Conservative. I thought people should know that, even if the libraries minister apparently does not.

Changes

National news

  • ‘A new low': librarians warn councils against closing services – Guardian. “The head of the UK’s largest body of professional librarians has warned that we could be “heading for a new low” after details emerged of Swindon’s plans to hand over responsibility for almost all of its 15 libraries by 2020.” Nick Poole of CILIP says “I fear that we are heading for a new low. If councils are unable to meet their legal obligations to provide statutory library services, HM government has a duty to step in and intervene to protect people’s rights”
  • Celebrate your library on National Libraries Day – Voices for the Library. ” Whilst we must shine a light on the cuts our local authorities are making, we must also acknowledge the lack of leadership from central government, coupled with the reduction in funding that they have passed down to councils across the country. It is not enough to point at the council and argue against their programme of cuts and closures, it is essential to follow the money to central government and hold ministers to account for the continual decline of a library service that millions rely on.”
  • Celebrating libraries with Ali Smith, Jackie Kay and Tom Holland – books podcast – Guardian. “More than just a stack of books, libraries are cultural powerhouses that fuel intellectual life. We hear about the central part they play in the life of the writer Ali Smith, and how a decommissioned library was the spark for her latest collection of short stories. Next we head for Calais, where Susannah Tresilian found how a volunteer-run library is offering hope to those in the most desperate straits. Back in the studio, Tom Holland explains the intricacies of the Public Lending Right, and we finish with Jackie Kay, who reads from her poem Dear Library.”
  • Communities rally together in support of National Libraries Day – BookSeller. “Libraries across the country are hosting a range of events to encourage their communities to show “solidarity and support” in celebration of “our fantastic, vibrant libraries” to mark National Libraries Day tomorrow (Saturday 6th February).” … Merton … “The Society of Chief Librarians, in partnership with Brighton & Hove Libraries and BookTrust, is bringing Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell to Brighton for a live event on National Libraries Day. Riddell will be in conversation with The Guardian children’s book editor Julia Eccleshare at Jubilee Library.” … “Writer and library campaigner, Alan Gibbons, will be joining Liverpool campaigners at Walton Library in Liverpool, explaining to the public “how their local library has been downgraded and how government cuts have meant the local council has retreated from the concept of a professionally run, comprehensive service.” He will then head south to London to chair the lobby of parliament in support of the public library service on Tuesday and finally speak at the Lewisham libraries campaign public meeting that evening.”
  • Councils could be ‘breaking the law’ by closing libraries, warn Unite – LocalGov. “Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library services, and may be contravening this by shutting down libraries, the union warned yesterday.” … “An umbrella group called Speak Up For Libraries is staging a lobby of parliament on Tuesday 9 February and they will be joined by Unite members from Greenwich and Bromley library services who are taking industrial action at the proposed cuts to their respective libraries”
  • Ed Vaizey: Labour’s cynical game. First they close libraries. Then they blame others – Conservative Home. “When I first became a Minister, we abolished the libraries quango and moved responsibility to the Arts Council.  We wanted to join up our cultural strategy with libraries.  This decision has been thoroughly vindicated. “

“Most of the debate on libraries focus – understandably – on library closures.  In reality, far fewer have closed than you may have been led to believe.  And the vast majority that have closed have been shut down by Labour councils – 79 in all, compared to just 11 closed by Conservative councils.  Maybe that’s why there has never been an opposition-led debate on libraries in the almost six years I have been a Minister.  But then it wouldn’t help Labour to hold one .. We are the first Government to review every closure. Central government can and will intervene if a council is planning dramatic cuts. So it is simply untrue that Conservatives do not back libraries. The truth is that Labour are using libraries as a tool for their campaign about public finances.” Ed Vaizey

“This is typical of Mr Vaizey and his colleagues, choosing to make party political points in traditional Punch and Judy fashion rather than engaging in the genuine debate about the future of the public library service. What is the reality? 463 libraries have closed on Mr Vaizey’s watch. You can verify this by examining the independently audited CIPFA figures. 32% of library staff have gone. Volunteers have replaced paid librarians.” Alan Gibbons

  • For many library visitors, I’m the only person they’ve talked to all day – Guardian. “I’ve worked in public libraries for more than 10 years and I’ve driven a 7.5-tonne library bus, taught IT skills, run reading groups, arranged talks by famous authors, booked festivals and cleaned up the vomit of the homeless woman who took up residence in between the gardening and cookery books one summer.” … “And then there’s the rhyme time sessions we run for babies. They used to be once a week, but now there are five with fewer staff. I’m not sure we really can do more with less, as public services are so often told to do, but we are trying to do what our customers want and we’re finding that parents and carers need free activities”

“Who will want to become a librarian now? It’s sad because in what other profession can you be a teacher, a care worker, an artist, a children’s entertainer, an IT expert, an HGV driver and a coder all in one day? I never meant to be a librarian, but even in difficult times, when I don’t know if I’ll have a job from one round of cuts to the next, I love it.”

  • Half a million pounds of new funding for libraries – Arts Council England. “£300,000 will be invested over the next two years in partnership with the Society of Chief Librarians, to support the development of their ‘Universal Offers’ for libraries; £240,000 will be invested in partnership with the Wellcome Trust towards developing the Universal Health Offer delivered by the Reading Agency with the Society of Chief Librarians; £30,000 of investment to support collaboration between library services in Greater Manchester.  This includes the launch of a new Greater Manchester Library Card, enabling users to borrow books from other libraries across the region.”

    Happy National Library Day! This is why we love our libraries – Wales Online. “To celebrate, we asked people why they love their local library.” … ““Living in Brittany, the thing I miss most (apart from children and grandchildren) is the library service. It’s not only free books– it’s the research facilities, the contact with knowledgeable librarians, the wonderful atmosphere inside the buildings.” … ““My love for Rhydypennau Library has not just grown from what it offers me as an individual but from what I see it offer to my community. There is a reciprocal love between the people and the place and that is precisely why it is the beating heart of our community.”. Includes comments from three Welsh campaigners currently trying to keep their libraries open.
  • In local government, Labour needs a new response to Conservative cuts – New Statesman. “Imagine being in government (a wistful thought for many readers of this blog, I know) and having a device that forced the main opposition party to take responsibility for your most unpopular policies. Not just a rhetorical flourish that enabled you to blame the previous government, but a mechanism that meant that, day-by-day, your opponent had to be the face of cuts to people’s most valued services. The Conservative government has exactly such a device: it’s called local government, and all over the country it is pushing local Labour parties into a confrontation, both with service users, and especially now in the era of left-wing influx, with party members and trade unionists.”
  • Library Closures Top 400 In Five Years – Sky. “More than 400 libraries have closed in Britain in the last five years due to budget cuts, technology and the internet age. As part of National Libraries Day, campaigners are calling on local councils and the Government to protect libraries, by diversifying so that they make money and offer more than just books.” [I am not aware of any campaigners asking the Government in this way – Ed.]. “Councillor Ian Stephens, chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “There is a fantastic amount of creativity and ambition among library staff, councils and their communities to make the very best of resources.”
  • Library lending figures: which books were most popular in 2014/15? – Guardian. “Thanks to the data provided by PLR, we know that the UK’s most borrowed author over the last 20 years was Catherine Cookson, that the most borrowed children’s author was Jacqueline Wilson, and that no one has been more consistently in the Top 20 than Danielle Steel. All in all, then, a clear lead for female writers” … “What, though, of 2014/15? The data suggests that there has been something of a male fightback. The most borrowed author, as he has been for the past eight years, was James Patterson. With Lee Child laying claim to the top two individual titles – Personal and Never Go Back – it would seem that the surest way for a male author to be heavily borrowed by UK library users is to write about US crime detection” … “At a time when there is much pessimism about the future of libraries, both because of government cuts and a declining number of readers, the evident enthusiasm of children in this country for borrowing books is a sign, perhaps, of a brighter future. ” see also Which are the most borrowed library books in the UK? – Telegraph.
  • Lure of the Village Library – Love a Happy Ending. “Variations can be found across the length and breadth of the country.  Northiam Village Library in Essex is run by volunteers and only opens for two hours on Thursday and Saturday afternoons.  Blackheath Village library, close to Greenwich, is in an urban area but retains the name of ‘village’. Frimley Green library in Surrey has a thriving small library that retains a personal touch, with librarians to help you with a friendly smile. Also, as you will see, this is a team effort and perhaps not so appropriate to single out an individual person.”
  • Meet Ali Smith’s #MyPublicLibrary competition winners – Reading Agency. “Ali has selected @lostinthelibrary21 “for her picture of herself as a FAN of Wuthering Heights” and the caretaker @cwaclibraries reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover. She said: “I loved these photos, one because it consciously summed up the sheer breeze being in a library is, and the other because it looks nonchalant and is all about the excitement of reading. Those are both great visions of the caretaking that libraries casually do for us.””
  • Minutes of the sixth meeting of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce – Gov.UK/Libraries Taskforce. All, including Ministers, supportive of National Libraries Day.
  • National Libraries Day 2016 – use it, love it, join it – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. “Now in its fifth year, all types of libraries are taking part and the UK NLD website has a databases of events. Several libraries in Wales are already busy tweeting what they’re doing in the run up to the actual day. In Wales the hashtags to use are #NLDWales and #DCLCymru whilst in the UK the official NLD 2016 hashtag is #librariesday. You can read the Welsh Libraries press release with a quote from the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism on the Welsh Libraries website”
  • National Libraries Day: why our libraries matter – NEF. ” libraries need a new vision of what they can offer in the twenty-first  century. The possibilities for modernisation are endless and some libraries in the UK are already leading the way.” … “Libraries are an essential part of delivering more effective public services in an imaginative and accessible way. And who knows what they could do in ten years’ time – zero carbon libraries with solar powered e-books?”

“The period from the start of September 2015 until end January 2016 saw a year-on-year drop beyond the usual seasonal dip in library loans. Loans fell by an average of 5.9% from P10-P12* (6 September – 28 November) compared to the same period in 2014. This was consistent with the yearly decline in volume from 2014 to 2015 of 6.43%. ” Nielsen BookScan

  • Residents to have access to almost three million books as library services join together – Manchester Evening News. “People in Manchester, Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport and Trafford will be able to borrow books from scores of sites across Greater Manchester – rather than just libraries in their own boroughs ” … “People will be able to search the new system and reserve items at dozens of libraries across the region, using their existing council library card. If a book is found at a branch a long way from a person’s home, in another borough, they will be able to return it at their local library. Arts Council England has provided £30,000 of funding to get the project off the ground.”
  • SCL Celebrates National Libraries Day – Society of Chief Librarians. “SCL, in partnership with Brighton & Hove Libraries and BookTrust, is bringing Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell to Brighton for a live event on 6 February. Chris will be in conversation with The Guardian Children’s Book Editor Julia Eccleshare at Jubilee Library. The event will feature live drawing from Chris and Q&A with the audience, followed by a book signing. This will be one of hundreds of unique events taking place in libraries on the day. Many of the events will cover topics from comics, art, history and local film to coding clubs, digital drop-ins and craft-making sessions, and other authors speaking in libraries that day include Erwin James, Bruce Fogle, Nicola Cornick and Tom McCarthy.”
  • Scotland’s Libraries – Promoting the Value of Literacy and Learning – CILIPS. “Guest Blog by Amina Shah, Director of Programme, The Scottish Book Trust, as part of the ‘Scottish Libraries: Inspiration for the Nation’ Campaign.” … “Making best use of our 500 public libraries – many of which are in areas of multiple deprivation, has got to be seen as a solution to breaking down the barriers preventing Scotland from having better outcomes for every child, regardless of class or postcode. Those of us who work in libraries and with books,  should use National Libraries Day to shout as loudly as we can about the fact that libraries are not just nice to have – not a peripheral luxury, but the absolute bedrock of a democratic society; of one that believes in investment in preventative measures and in giving everyone equal access to information, books, space and time to live an empowered and informed life and a real answer to reducing poverty, inequality and the attainment gap.  “
  • The writers chosen for this year’s Read Regional campaign have been announced – Chronicle. “Writers from Northumberland and Tyneside are among those chosen to be part of this year’s Read Regional campaign designed to introduce readers to writers from the north of England. Ten titles have been chosen by New Writing North to be promoted in libraries from the east coast to the west between March and June.”

International news

  • EU – Public libraries – Europeana. “The Task Force set out to develop a basis for establishing a sustained and productive relationship between Europeana and Europe’s rapidly evolving public libraries – especially in the digital field – building on the work done in Europeana Awareness and taking into account the conclusions reached in the evaluation of that work.” … “Recommendations on a structure, governance and role for a European Public Library Makerpaces Network, enabling the re-use of Europeana content by PL users in a wide range of creative contexts; A proposal under Creative Europe in support of the above; Recommendations on an affordable, dedicated low-cost infrastructure for delivering tools and applications to PLs in support of re-use creativity and thematic collection of digital content from local users”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – ‘They may as well stock it with weapons and tell people where to hit the bullseye’ – anger over unstaffed libraries – Time Series. Campaigners pretend to wreak havoc in Open+ library, including two collapsing and one smoking. No response from CCTV. “People say they don’t want to go there at night because it is creepy when nobody works there. “Smoke alarms might not even pick up smoking.”
  • Bedford – ​Is this the final chapter for libraries in Bedford Borough? – Bedfordshire News. “there’s no getting away from the fact that cuts to Bedford Borough’s library service are inevitable and the council is currently consulting with the public on the future of its libraries. The service’s budget has been slashed by 25 per cent over the last four years. Rachael said: “If some libraries have to close they must make sure there are affordable, accessible transport links to the remaining libraries.”
  • Bradford – Bradford South MP joins fight against major cutbacks to district’s libraries – Telegraph and Argus. “Bradford South Labour MP Judith Cummins is urging Labour-led Bradford Council to rethink its proposals to close all but seven libraries, if volunteers are not found to run them. “
  • Bradford – Why the hands of our libraries could lie with our communities – Telegraph and Argus. “news that Bradford Council’s ruling Labour group has proposed shutting 17 libraries across the district, unless they can be taken over by volunteer groups, has prompted Baildon Youth Council to carry out its own study on the impact of closing the town’s library. Members quizzed fellow pupils at Titus Salt School aged mainly between 14 and 17. Of nearly 300 respondents, 60 per cent of youngsters who use the library didn’t want it to close”
  • Brighton and Hove – Hove Library to be moved not closed – Argus. “The Carnegie Building isn’t designed for today’s needs, it’s very costly to run and is actually further away from the majority of users than Hove Museum. “
  • Cardiff – Charlotte Church gives her backing to Cardiff’s arts campaigners as they protest against cuts – Wales Online. “The march had a theme of a New Orleans funeral march, and a coffin was carried at the front of the protesters mourning “the death of art”.” .. protest included libraries.
  • Darlington -Council cuts: Are smaller councils like Darlington doomed to fail? – Northern Echo. “. For instance the law says councils are required to provide a library service, but it doesn’t say they are required to have two or three big libraries and 20 smaller libraries. It could just be one library in the town hall. “
  • East Sussex – Cuts to library hours looming on the horizon – Rye and Battle Observer. “The proposals relating to Rye Library involve reducing the Monday opening hours from 9am – 5.30pm to 10am – 1pm and reducing the opening hours on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am – 5.30pm to 10am – 5pm. The Wednesday hours would be from 10am – 4pm, rather than the current 10am – 5.30pm hours, while Saturday would be 10am – 5pm, instead of 9am – 5pm.” … “The county council says the proposed cuts to library services could save £2 million in running costs and would involve an overall reduction of around 25 percent of current opening hours of libraries across the county”
  • Flintshire – Library opens in Deeside Leisure Centre but others shut – BBC. “Three council-run libraries in Flintshire will shut this month when a new facility opens at Deeside Leisure Centre. The closure of Hawarden, Mancot and Queensferry libraries was agreed last year, partly due to funding cuts. But a group, Friends of Mancot Library, has been set up to to operate the existing building as a community library from March. The new library opens on 29 February and the others shut on different days.
  • Lambeth – Campaigners draw up battle plans for National Libraries Day – Brixton Blog. “National Libraries Day, celebrating libraries nationwide Saturday (6 February) used to be called National Save Libraries Day. The library campaign in Lambeth plans to reclaim this name as it continues to battle the council’s plans to close libraries and transform some into gyms.”
  • Lancashire – Thursday, 11th February, 2016 12.00 pm – Lancashire County Council. Motion: “”Lancashire County Council is known for having one of the best library services in the country. It also owns some important museums which are an important part of the county’s heritage. Following the recent Cabinet meeting, Council is concerned that there will be an insufficient consultation period before closures of libraries and museums are made. Council therefore resolves that an extended consultation period should be implemented to allow alternative delivery mechanisms to be explored.  Options to be considered should include, but not be limited to, charitable trusts, the private sector, voluntary sector and partnerships.”” see also Lancashire County Library Service consultation – stage one.
  • Lancashire – New battles launched in bid to protect libraries – Lancashire Evening Post. “A read-in event held last weekend at Coppull Library, near Chorley, was attended by 400 people including well-known comedian Dave Spikey.” … “Their quarrel isn’t with the county council, it’s with the Conservative MPs who are approving these massive cuts in spending,” he said” … “Nearly 7,000 people have filled in a council questionnaire on the library service, either on line or by filling in forms available at local libraries.”
  • Lancashire – Thousands oppose plans to axe libraries in Lancashire – Lancashire Telegraph. “,300 people in Lancashire have voiced their opposition to plans to close 40 out of the county’s 72 libraries. No fewer than 15 petitions have been lodged with County Hall, opposing either general or specific library closures, the county council’s executive scrutiny committee has been told”
  • Leicestershire – Library opening set to double in Ratby – Leicestershire County Council. “Leicestershire’s latest community partnership library will open its doors on Monday (8 February) in Ratby, when the county council hands over the keys to a local group.  Graham Stanley, chair of the Ratby Library & Community Group said: “Since setting up an independent group we’ve created a charity business and recruited a fantastic group of committed volunteers, including six-form students from Groby Community College. “We shall more than double the library building’s previous opening hours and be open every day except Sunday and we hope to improve the building’s current operating income.” He revealed the group was raising £115,000 to alter the building”
  • Lincolnshire – The latest voluntary-run library opens in Lincolnshire market town – Lincolnshire Echo. “Alford library has reopened as a completely volunteer-run facility under a new name – Alford Focal Point. It closed in September due to cost-cutting by Lincolnshire County Council.” … “Richard Quantrell, chairman of Alford Focal Point said: “I think everyone is very pleased to see it open and we are encouraged by their excitement. “This is more than a library, that’s why it is now called Alford Focal Point. “It is a centre for knowledge, education and culture.”
  • Liverpool – Visits to Liverpool’s libraries tumbled 150,000 last year – Echo. “The city’s network of libraries and its home service had 1.66m visitors in 2015, figures released exclusively to the Echo show. This was 153,936 people fewer than the city’s 2014 total, and Fazakerley, Spellow and Toxteth libraries saw particularly big falls in visitor numbers.”.  Council says ““There is always an annual fluctuation in the numbers and thanks to national and local reading campaigns we saw a spike in 2014 which bucked the trend across the rest of the country.”
  • Newcastle – Highlighting the effect of Labour’s cuts in Newcastle on National Library Day – Newcastle Upon Tyne Liberal Democrats. Looks at cuts already in place in the borough. “At the meeting of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Robin Ashby asked a series of questions (below) of Labour’s responsible councillor, mainly about Gosforth but equally applicable to most of the closures. He received no sensible response or promise of one, despite much trumpeting about Newcastle’s libraries in the media for National Library Day. You can judge Labour on what it says, or what it does….”
  • Newcastle – Vera author Ann Cleeves gives talk in Newcastle to children as ambassador of National Libraries Day – Chronicle. “Ahead of her arrival at the city centre venue, where she gave a talk to children and launched a poetry competition, she said that without libraries she simply would not be doing what she does. “I wouldn’t be a writer without libraries; there would be no Vera,” said the creator of the character voted the UK’s favourite fictional detective in a poll last year.”
  • Northamptonshire – Union could launch legal bid to block Northamptonshire County Council’s outsourcing plans – Daventry Express. “In a recent poll 93 percent of Unison members at the county council who replied said they were against the authority’s proposals to reduce its core workforce to about 200 people and deliver services such as adult social care, libraries and child protection through four mutual companies.”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Bus routes saved and NO single-staffed libraries in RCT as latest cuts are not as bad as we’d feared – Wales Online. “RCT council’s cabinet members reduced proposed £937,000 cuts by almost £300,000 on Thursday “… “Coun Pauline Jarman, leader of the opposition Plaid Cymru group in RCT: “I’ve always been opposed to single-staffed libraries and am pleased that this seems to be reflected by cabinet members today. In total, 172 people signed a petition about Mt Ash Library, and 37 people turned up to a consultation event in Hirwaun. That shows that people care.””
  • Sheffield – Sheffield residents celebrate National Libraries Day – Star. “After speaking to volunteers of the library and seeing all the work they do Louise Haigh MP said “It is always great to meet people who give up their spare time for their community. Libraries play an important role for everyone and offer a huge amount to our local area, whether its books, learning, access to computers or the huge range of activities that often take place there. I regularly hold surgeries in the libraries in my constituency, which are based in the heart of our communities. Local Libraries are as important today as they ever were. It was fantastic to see all the hard work the volunteers put in to Greenhill Library.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Emersons Green Library: maintain current opening hours & oppose service cuts – Change.org. “South Gloucestershire Council is proposing to cut weekly opening hours from the current, already insufficient, 38 hours per week to only 18 hours per week. That equates, perhaps, to only 3 part days opening per week. As well as the obvious impact on the staff members, who will see their hours cut or find themselves made redundant, there are innumerable consequences that will be felt by the community at large.”
  • South Lanarkshire – Happy National Libraries Day 2016 – Scottish Libraries Wifi. “Greenhills Library is marking National Library Day by teaming up with The Big Glasgow Comic Page to present the first ever South Lanarkshire Mini Comic Con” .. “It’s brilliant to see so many people here, and huge credit must go to the staff for taking the opportunity to promote all of the fantastic services that the library offers.”
  • Southampton – Optimistic mood for National Libraries Day at Cobbett – Bitterne Park Info. “There was an optimistic feel to the National Libraries Day celebration at Cobbett Road Library on Saturday (Feb 6), following recent news that Social Care in Action and theatre group Unexpected Places have expressed an interest in running the branch – if they can raise enough cash – when Southampton City Council stops funding it in April.”
  • Southampton – Preferred options for groups to take on all five libraries in Southampton that could close – Daily Echo. “Seven groups came forward to take over the five libraries – and library campaigners now say they have a “glimmer of hope” that they will not be marking their last National Libraries Day today. ” … “Labour council chiefs have insisted at every opportunity that the plan is not to close the libraries, but to allow community groups take them on and deliver a “sustainable” future for them” … “Conservative leisure and finance spokesman John Hannides, to accuse her and Labour of “hypocrisy”, saying: “I find it very hypocritical that people who are very quick to tell us how important the libraries are are the very same ones who are proposing to close half of the city’s libraries. “
  • Stockport – Stockport expands library service – Cheshire Today. “From Saturday 6 February, Stockport and six other Greater Manchester councils’ libraries networks will operate a shared online catalogue system – giving access to 2.8 million books and other items held by the participating library services. People in Stockport will be able to search for books in any of the participating councils’ collections, reserving items using their existing Stockport Libraries card. Manchester, Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, and Trafford councils are all included in the shared Library Management System (LMS) scheme, as are Blackburn with Darwen Council – with Tameside joining later this year.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries urges public to support National Libraries Day tomorrow – Journal. “Alison Wheeler, chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, said: “National Libraries Day this year is giving a real focus to championing the 
country’s libraries and reminding people that they have a right to them. “We know from the feedback and stories we receive from staff 
and customers how well loved and appreciated Suffolk’s libraries are.”
  • Sutton – Beddington library and mobile service scrapped in bid to slash £1m from council budget – Guardian series. “Sutton Council has scrapped its mobile library service and will close Beddington library, despite the public preferring the use of volunteers to keep services open. Council approved the closures at the Environment and Neighbourhood Committee meeting last night, blaming “draconian cuts” for the need to slash £1m from its £4.4m library budget. Closing Beddington library and the mobile service will save the council £153,000 a year.”
  • Swindon – Campaigner Shirley Burnham fears for future of town’s libraries – Swindon Advertiser. ““There’s no evidence-based mechanism for judging in advance whether community groups have either the capacity or capability to deliver a library service that is fit for purpose.” … ““So, what has the library staff input into the strategy been, if any? I fail to find any evidence of it. All I can see is that it is to be every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost, leaving communities which cannot cope to whatever fate befalls them.” “
  • Swindon – Nearly all libraries will be run by volunteers in 2020 – Swindon Advertiser. “At this stage council chiefs believe there is enough time to find volunteers to avoid closures but have accepted there will need to be a ‘rationalisation’ of services if no-one is found at a particular site. “
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Vale of Glamorgan libraries community takeover plan – BBC News. “Groups could assume responsibility for libraries in Sully, Wenvoe, St Athan, Dinas Powys and Rhoose from April if councillors approve plans on Monday. About £100,000 has been set aside to cover group set-up costs and make improvements to buildings if the leases and assets are transferred to them. It is hoped this will save the council £525,000 in 2015/16 and 2016/17.”
  • West Berkshire – ‘Leak’ reveals West Berkshire library closures plan – BBC. “Leaked proposals suggest the majority of libraries in West Berkshire will close, the BBC has been told.” … “Previously published budget cut included merging the libraries in Burghfield and Mortimer”
Charges for SCL conference

Swindon proposes just 1 out of 15 libraries to survive: SCL plans 2 day conference

Editorial

Swindon are introducing some of the toughest cuts in the country to their library service, aiming to keep just one council-run out of 15 at the end of the review.  The council directly quotes recent DCMS guidance saying that this is allowed.

In other news, the SCL are inviting one senior librarian from each service to attend its annual two-day session in order to work out how to cope with the drastic budget reductions being introduced as a result of central government austerity and the removal of effective statutory protection. Not that the SCL phrases the invite like that but everyone attending will know full well why the conference is being called “Changing Horizons: challenges, trends and new ways of delivering“. It is the job of chief librarians, after all, to implement some really hard choices and they need to learn about how best to do it.

Conservative libraries minister Ed Vaizey, whose government is mostly responsible for these tough times, will be speaking (to be fair, the SCL would invite any relevant minister, regardless of their record – it’s just that they’re Conservative this decade and the Conservatives, lest we forget, are in power due to the electorate) at the meeting as will also be, I notice, a former RAF fighter pilot as well as one or two genuine library experts such as Professor David Lankes. Although costing up to £435, the two days were fully booked last year.  Many senior managers appreciate the chance to discuss issues in private, with the invitation letter saying “Times are hard, budgets are tight, and the planning team know how difficult it is to justify attendance at the Seminar, but we know how much you value the time to reflect and to talk about the development of our services”. In their position, I’d want to do the same thing.

Those wanting to know what’s going on at those meetings but who are not senior librarians will likely be disappointed. If previous years are anything to go by, a minimum of publicly available information will come out of these sessions.

Changes

More >

Michael Rosen quote supporting libraries

Speaking up for libraries 2016

Editorial

I am passing over the editorial section of PLN to Speak Up For Libraries today in order to promote the lobby of parliament on 9th February. Get there if you can.

Alan Gibbons holding Support for Libraries Overdue sign, with Westminster Hall in background
“Speak up for Libraries’ Rally at Westminster Central Hall, London.
Photo shows author Alan Gibbons.

Best-selling writer Jake Arnott is the latest celebrity to sign up for the Speak Up For Libraries (SUFL) lobby of Parliament on 9 February. “Throughout our history,’ he says, ‘the library has proved to be the most effective and resilient memory system for our culture and civilisation. The public library creates a collective consciousness. Any attack on it simply adds to a social dementia.”

The day begins with a public rally at Central Hall, Westminster (10am-1pm), with a line-up of speakers chaired by campaigning author Alan Gibbons. All welcome, whether joining a lobby or not. Alan’s Campaign for the Book is part of the SUFL alliance, alongside librarians’ professional association CILIP, campaigners’ charity The Library Campaign, UNISON and Voices for the Library. Supporters from as far away as Gateshead, Shropshire, Lancashire and Lincolnshire will then descend on the Commons to lobby MPs to focus on the root cause of libraries’ grim situation – apathy and ignorance in local and central government. “These people are fighting hard locally to keep libraries alive. They are desperate to show this is a major issue for the whole nation,’ says Laura Swaffield of The Library Campaign. “And it’s not too late for others to join us.”

Changes

Ideas

More >

Last chance to apply for up to £15,000 funding and expert advice and mentoring.

Huge response to SCL statement: at least we all care about libraries

Editorial

There was a pretty much unprecedented response, in terms of blog reads and comments,  to the President of the Society of Chief Librarians’ post on the previous edition of Public Libraries News.  Some, not all, of the responses can best be characterised as extremely opposed, although I personally understood the SCL position a bit better at the end of it, even if I wish they’d start putting their head at least a little above the parapet. I don’t want to enter the fray too much again here, perhaps I have done too much to stoke the fires as it is, but would recommend you read the comments on the previous post if you want to understand it all. For me, I can at least take comfort that all sides genuinely and deeply care for the service and with the fervent hope that numerous chief librarians and library staff will jolly well get on the board with the #MyLibraryByRight campaign anyway. And also that everyone involved will sign the petition for goodness sake, and get people you know to sign it as well.

Changes

Ideas

  • Apply to YA Shot for author visits
  • Community skill sharing – workshops and courses provided by community members. In the village of Red Hook these recently included languages, bee-keeping, brewing and maple tree tapping.
  • Memory Lab – a project funded by the Library of Congress raising awareness of personal archiving and digitising. The Memory Lab will be a free DIY space where the public can transfer obsolete formats such as VHS and audio cassettes to digital files
  • Patron request system – automatically buy one copy of any book or DVD the first cardholder in the service asks for.
  • “Senior Services” – “a relaxed, comfortable area with armchairs, newspapers, book and dedicated programming, giving senior citizens a homelier library space. “

More >

Ciara Eastell, President of the Society of Chief Librarians

Tangible benefits: the SCL defends its record

Editorial

The decision by the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) not to formally support the #MyLibraryByRight campaign caused a furore amongst supporters of libraries on social media, lis-pub-libs and probably other places as well.  There was even a comment or two on my previous post.  Similarly, there was much debate about welcoming Halifax bank employees into libraries to help with It issues. So much so, in fact, that I have done a special page listing all the arguments for and against commercial involvement in public libraries. The President of the SCL (and chief of Devon Library Service and, coincidentally a classmate of mine from library school, all of which kind of puts my career into perspective), Ciara Eastell has taken the trouble to write a piece for PLN, which I very happily publish it here.  One of the things I’ve noticed doing this blog over the years is that everyone, on all sides, care deeply for public libraries and make valid points and Ciara is no exception. Over to her (with the choices for quotations being mine).

Ideas

More >

Halifax give a little extra help (or do they?) and the SCL fail to directly support #MyLibraryByRight

Editorial

My twitter feed was full of people being angry about the new scheme where two thousand Halifax Bank employees will help with IT training in public libraries. The scheme, brokered by the Society of Chief Librarians is supposed to greatly increase the amount of training sessions available.   The anger was not over that but the commercialisation of libraries it implies. When many of us were trained, perhaps too many years ago now, one of the key things we were taught was not to show bias towards a particular company.  When I do talks to people one of the key things I say is that we provide a place, alone in the town centre, free of commercial adverts and people wanting your money.  Halifax argue that nothing has changed and the training is done entirely impartially.  However, even taking into account their benevolence, there is an obvious clash of values here that is nowhere acknowledged in the official coverage.  Perhaps in these days of frequent cuts (South Gloucestershire gets it in the neck today) neutrality is something we cannot afford and we take what help we can. Or perhaps in these times it is more important than ever (like having quiet study spaces) and we forget about it at our peril.

Keeping with the SCL, it is regrettable, but not surprising, that they have failed directly to support the #MyLibraryByRight CILIP campaign.  The SCL has always seen itself as an apolitical organisation which cannot, as a collection of council employees, make any overt stand on the big issues of the day. Rather, the body works – as well as what amounts to a largely voluntary organisation of hundreds of equal members can – to provide some sort of national training, initiatives and co-ordination.  At the end of the day, if ever a history of this dark chapter in libraries is written, the SCL are unlikely therefore to be seen as the heroes of the story. But they would argue, as the old CILIP used to, that they work better behind the scenes and do more that way than by waving placards. CILIP have realised that that simply does not work, for them, in the current climate. But SCL are in a different situation (or at least think they are) and see things differently. On other hand, the Society of Authors and the Reading Agency (neither of which are run by librarians) have no such scruples and have come out in support of the campaign. Well done to them.

Changes

More >

Fun Palaces, memory support library cards and silent bears

Editorial

I was delighted to receive a piece by Zoey Dixon on Fun Palaces in Libraries.  They’re creative and popular, causing an extra 5,000 (five thousand!) people to visit a Lambeth library in one day.  It doesn’t cost much and really fits in with encouraging science and the arts in libraries.  Another great idea is from Essex, where a “Memory Support Library Card” means those who have dementia will not have to pay late fees.  A simple, understandable, idea which it would be great to see go national.

Changes

Ideas

More >

No money, no policy and shouts of protest

Editorial

A piece in the Telegraph on the drastic reductions in library book stock since 2010 is made fascinating by the DCMS trying its best to make the figures look like a good thing. Apparently, it’s all about “removing costly unused stock” (which I assume they mean to be reference books but those are not included in the figures mentioned: do your research, DCMS) and concentrating on the rise of e-books. The fallacy of that last is shown by the percentage quoted. A quick tip here, by the way, is that unless a total actual base number of issues is given, a percentage in the hundreds is meaningless.  If anything, it shows how small the actual figure is if it can be increased by 420 per cent.

Ed Vaizey – much loved (or at least mentioned), as you know, by myself and many of the readers of these posts – has now celebrated more time as arts minister than anyone else in history. It is unlikely that many librarians would see this as a good thing, although he at least does use a library occasionally even if he has not shown himself not overly willing to effectively superintend them.  His statement on the arts quotes that a minister should give “money, policy and silence”.  Since 2010, libraries have been given drastically reduced amounts of money, no policy and have been in the limelight like never before, with shouts of protest drowning any imagined silence.  Unless of course he means the silence of closed libraries. In that, at least, his tenure has been successful.

Changes

Ideas

More >

Democracy of space

Editorial

Good to see some more publicity for the campaign for the statutory nature of libraries: Joanne Trollope leads a useful article in the Guardian. It’s a shame, though, that there’s still at time of writing fewer than 10,000 names on the petition. Time to encourage some more to sign.  This is especially important as the cuts march on. Newcastle have announced that total opening hours will be more than halved, which is pretty major.

Changes

More >

The future of English public library websites?

Editorial

The report on the digital side of public libraries was released today. At first sight, it is a solid and useful report on public library usage that will fall firmly into the “too long, didn’t read” report for many. Certainly, I’ve only skimmed it. I can report that it looks thoroughly researched, although it looks surprisingly insular and seems focused on technological explanations for library usage. There does not appear to be any international comparison with library services which may have helped change some of the assumptions: for example, the decline public library use is blamed fairly and squarely on technological change while it is fairly obvious from other countries that usage can increase in public libraries which are consistently funded. I’m sure a few other countries may have researched going down a unified library website approach as well (although, I can’t think of many off hand) which could be learned from.  Not having it read it fully, I can also not comment on the recommendations, there may even be an international section (although words like USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand or “international” or even “Wales” or “Scotland” are entirely absent when doing a word search).  The big question, though, is that many would find it hard to believe that £20 million over three years will be found willingly from public library authorities facing budgetary decimation. Either that money therefore won’t come at all and nothing will happen or it will come from other, as yet, unknown, benefactors, possibly even the obvious choice (at normal times but possibly not in austerity Britain) of the Government.

It will probably take a few days for me to read the full report and I’d welcome any feedback on the report in the meantime: please comment or email me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk. Confidentiality, if desired, is guaranteed.

Idea

More >