The Final Fifth, Welsh Trusts and US success

Editorial

Blaenau Gwent looks likely to be come the first Welsh authority I am aware of to pass control of its public libraries to a non-profit trust.  Let’s hope it’s more successful than the outsourcing in Croydon where it has been confirmed that the loss of 11 library staff was among the first actions of Carillion when it took over. This has not impressed the Labour opposition there who confirm they will retake control of the library service if they win the forthcoming election.

There’s a couple of interesting reports just been released.  The UK one by the Carnegie UK Trust concerns British projects to get online the final one-fifth of the population.  Although it mentions libraries in a positive way, it does not devote one of its case studies to a public library project. The other report is from the US Pew Research Centre which confirms the vital place that public libraries have in American life.

Changes

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Some more good ideas from US Movers and Shakers

Ideas

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15 ideas stolen from library Movers and Shakers

Editorial

You’ll notice a lot more items under the “Ideas” heading than normal.  This is because many of the US “Movers and Shakers” 2014 of the library world have been announced – and many of them are on the list precisely because of the ideas they have.  I’ve read through all of the biographies released so far and the list below is what strikes me as new ideas I’ve not seen in the UK.  Some of it may seem fairly obvious, such as storytimes in cafes, but so what, that’s the beauty of it – how many libraries near you actually do that? Others show differences between the US and the UK that may be more difficult to emulate: for instance, they do a heck of a lot more over the summer holidays for instance in keeping up the educational skills of children.  British libraries do that as well of course, but it tends to be only formally done with Reading, not anything else.  Looks like we’re missing a trick.

Another trick we’re missing is sharing best practice in the way that Movers and Shakers does in the United States.  I hear that CILIP may be instituting something similar to this soon and I really hope it comes off in spades.  I says that because it isn’t just about promoting the achievements of (I’ve seen the phrase, honest) “Librarian Rock Stars” or celebrating success: rather, it is about spreading good ideas and hope.  It’s also about encouraging the taking of risk and being entrepreneurial (in the best sense of that word). There’s never been a time when that is so important for UK libraries to do a bit of that.

Changes

Swindon - Old Town Library to be reduced to 18 hours per week.

Ideas

  1. Using what the library already has for education - “Libraries should use available technology to provide opportunities for project-based programs, where patrons can show off what they create.” Over the past two years her Mad Scientists and Math and Science Labs programs have included deconstructing computers and creating chemical reactions with everyday items, like hot sauce packets from Taco Bell. She’s also incorporated more high-tech tools into her technology programming, writing grants for inexpensive Arduino microcontrollers, Raspberry Pi computers, and laptops.”
  2. Collaboration between school and public libraries - “Limitless libraries” program: where stock and membership (and, as importantly, bulk book ordering) is shared between systems for the benefit of all.
  3. Guerilla storytime - Practical sessions at conferences sharing best practice for story times.  Blog Storytime Underground.
  4. Buying ebooks rather than using an e-book provider like Overdrive.  229% increase in issues and increased independence.
  5. LibraryReads - Website showing top ten recently published titles recommended by librarians becomes great promotional tool.
  6. Moving bookstock from Dewey to bookstore model. No sign of how successful this has been though.
  7. LiLi A LiLi  is a “souped-up Nissan Cube with more than $25,000 in audiovisual enhancements, an Xbox Kinect, a custom-built mount with a 37″ LCD screen, tower speakers” … “Since 2012, stereotype-shattering LiLi has reached more than 50,000 people through over 160 visits to local community events and social service agencies”
  8. Community cards - ” provide library membership to people with no fixed address: for many authorities in the UK which require proof of address, this sounds like a good idea. Interesting to see how it works in practice (rate of losses etc).
  9. Listening stations - Headphones etc for those with visual difficulty to listen to talking books in the library.
  10. Library as incubator - Providing library space and resources to encourage Arts projects. Website.
  11. Summer Learning Challenge - “Based on research about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and learning skills defined by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, it draws kids into learning through child-centered, active learning experiences—including science experiments, games, and creative activities—that reflect literacy skills”.
  12. 2:1 stock purchasing - If there are two reservations for one book then another copy is bought.  Encourages reservations and popular book stock.
  13. Storytimes at coffee shops to promote public libraries.  People have to know about libraries in order to use them,
  14. Summer reading app - “will offer games, reminders to read, digital badges, and community connections, as well as gather statistics for librarians”
  15. Microgrants - $2500 grants for “initiatives that offer new, innovative library services”.

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US library lobbying, Cornish protests and 15 reasons to date a librarian

Editorial

Items of note include a third of a Cornish town signing a petition against its library reducing its hours and the sheer effectiveness of library lobbying in the USA.  Apparently, for the latter, every one dollar given to the EveryLibrary group results in more than one thousand dollars of extra funding for public libraries.  We need more of that over here perhaps, although it is quite possible our different systems would reduce its effectiveness.

The less said about the “15 reasons to date a librarian” the better, though …

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“A launching point into the middle and professional classes”

Changes

Ideas

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Celebrations, showing people what they can do … and a climate of fear

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World Book Day: A wonderful opportunity for libraries

 

Editorial

World Book Day has come.  This means classes of children coming in, normally in some sort of fancy dress, learning about how wonderful public libraries are.  I’ve already done a school assembly (got to love 250 children screaming “World Book Day”), opened a new school library and did two class visits (“We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” is famous but may I also recommend “Here Come The Aliens“)  … and that was just on Monday.   The Day (and, let’s be honest, the whole week) is a wonderful opportunity for public libraries to get children in as schools are so keen to get involved this week.  Indeed, it’s great when schools phone you and not the other way.  I try to squeeze as many activities as I can in and I hope all public libraries are able to do the same … and keep those statistics too.

World Book Day is all about. well, books, of course and so it’s only appropriate to mention some fairly good evidence that has come in from the US that suggests that it is not public libraries per se that are declining but rather those in the UK where book funds have been cut.  Across the Atlantic, material funds rose 2% on average in 2013 and usage went up 2%.  This tallies well with the UK experience where declines in usage appears to mirror somewhat cuts in funding. So one may wonder whether it’s not that UK public libraries are dieing: rather it appears they are being murdered or, rather, suffering from neglect.

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Book Blendings

Ideas

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“A jewel in the crown of our social landscape. As much temples for the lonely as feeding houses for the mind”

@publiclibnews IMHOlibraries are a jewel in the crown of our social landscape. As much temples for the lonely as feeding houses for the mind

— Ragged University (@RaggedTalks) March 3, 2014

Ideas

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Community

If you have any news, views, corrections or comments please send them to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk, thank you.

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