Thursday 8th May: Elmer and EU copyright

Changes

National

“All you need to do is dress up in your brightest clothes, in honour of Elmer, and invite children and parents to come to the library and take part in the fun.”

  • EU rejects international copyright solution for libraries – EIFL. “Discussions by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights (SCCR) broke down in the early hours of Saturday morning 3 May, after the European Union (EU) attempted to block future discussion of copyright laws to aid libraries and archives fulfill their missions in the digital environment.”

“The EU’s hostility to any substantive discussions that might lead towards an international copyright treaty for the benefit of libraries and archives is reminiscent of its opposition to a treaty for the benefit of blind, visually impaired and print disabled people for most of the five years of talks that concluded in the Marrakesh Treaty 2013. Ironically, the EU signed the Marrakesh Treaty at the same WIPO meeting last week where it sought to wreck discussions concerning libraries and archives” Ms Barbara Stratton, CILIP

“The various library bodies have been trying to make a case within the EU that libraries have an essential role in the Ebook ecosystem and that it should be similar to the one they always had for printed books.  They have been asking for EU wide copyright laws to bring this about.  The EU have told them to forget it and that happened at a meeting on May 3″ Tim Coates

  • Five ways libraries are using Instagram to share collections and draw public interest – LSE. Ways are to ask users about their favourite authors; to show off their surroundings and collections; to publicise events; to show what goes on behind the scenes; to show their history.
  • Language, libraries and ‘The Market’ - Infoism. “growing numbers of people talk about library services (and public services in general) in broadly capitalist terms.” … “Language is probably not given the importance it deserves. Care needs to be taken with the words we use and how we use them. Words have meaning, but they also come with baggage” … “Libraries do not exist in a market” … “The adoption of capitalist language and strategies lacks imagination.” … “It doesn’t have to be this way. We do not have to be fearful of the alternatives. We do not have to accept that by rejecting capitalist rhetoric we are, in some way, holding back progress”
  • National reading group day 2014: Reading Agency “Hidden Gems” appeal to publishers - Reading Agency (press release). “To celebrate National Reading Group Day on 28 June 2014, The Reading Agency is launching a hunt for the nation’s favourite ‘hidden gem’ reading group read. To start the hunt, publishers who are members of The Reading Agency’s partnership scheme – which links up libraries and publishers to create successful and exciting events and activities for readers – are being asked to nominate recent titles for adults which they feel didn’t get the popular recognition they deserved, but which would make great reading group reads.”

International

  • Digital Readiness: The Next Wave of the Digital Divide – State Tech (USA). “A new challenge is emerging from the cracks of the digital divide: digital readiness — helping those who have Internet access, but lack the skills to use it effectively. On Tuesday, the American Library Association hosted a panel of four experts in Washington, D.C., who pooled their research to address the growing problem.” … “A new challenge is emerging from the cracks of the digital divide: digital readiness — helping those who have Internet access, but lack the skills to use it effectively. On Tuesday, the American Library Association hosted a panel of four experts in Washington, D.C., who pooled their research to address the growing problem.”
  • Drawings envision $56-million proposed makeover for Stanley A. Milner Library – Edmonton Journal (Canada). “The total revitalization cost of $56 million is for what Cooks calls a “full-meal deal” revitalization, including asbestos removal, upgrades to the mechanical and electrical systems and floor-to-ceiling windows on the second floor of the library overlooking the square. That space would be used for programming and could also be rented out for events.”
  • New Barn Raising - “Are you or someone you know seeking to sustain community and civic assets such as parks, libraries, rec. centers, senior centers, theaters, art galleries and museums?” … “If the answer to either of these questions is ‘yes’, The New Barn-Raising toolkit will be of interest and use. Published by an international DC-based think-tank earlier this week, it draws on extensive research on assets in the U.S.”
  • New York Public Library abandons controversial renovation plans - Guardian (USA). “The New York Public Library has abandoned controversial plans to renovate its Fifth Avenue central research branch, a 100-year-old beaux-arts landmark that was set to be converted into a lending library. The NYPL will instead renovate its Mid-Manhattan branch, a large but fairly rundown lending branch across from the research institution. The move is a substantial and unexpected U-turn for the country’s second-largest library system, which for two years faced concerted protests from employees, library patrons, and architectural preservationists but insisted that its proposals were the only way forward.”
  • Why We Absolutely Need To Care More About Library Funding - Huffington Post (USA). “

UK local news by authority

  • Cheshire West and Chester – Plan to put library job cuts on hold is rejected - Chester Chronicle. ” bid to have controversial proposals to axe jobs from the borough’s library service put on hold has been thrown out. The motion was raised at a meeting of the full council by opposition culture chief.” … “This year’s council approved budget requires the net loss of the equivalent of 16.43 full time posts in the Localities directorate which includes libraries. The council points out, however, new jobs are available which are open to professional and non-professional staff who are at risk and some of the affected posts are currently vacant.” … “Cllr Gittins’s motion pointed to a statement by Arts Council England that ‘there is a clear, compelling and continuing need for a publicly funded library service”.
  • Hull – Meet the man helping boost Hull’s libraries with a prolific tweeting frog - Hull Daily Mail. @hull-libraries has 3700 followers and mixes local news with fun facts and trivia. “Lauded by some as the best library Twitter account in the country, it’s a daily mixture of informative tweets about the huge range of events happening across Hull, videos of Daleks knocking down dominos of Dr Who spoken word books, Darth Vader Mr Potato Head pictures and gentle digs at David Moyes and Coldplay fans”
  • Lincolnshire – Libraries: Over 100 library staff wanted redundancy rather than county council changes - Lincolnshire Echo. 108 library staff have asked about voluntary redundancy, of which 35 have already gone.
  • Neath Port Talbot – Resolven Library users wave farewell to librarians: before volunteers move in to take over - South Wales Evening Post. Volunteers have already taken over library whose paid staff left last week. Library workers thanked for their work, one of whom remembers seeing children grow up and bring their own children in.
  • Oldham – Songs of The Smiths inspire arty mum’s badge business – Manchester Evening News. “The designs, which are put on to shrink plastic and made into either badges or fridge magnets, are all handmade to order by Kate, a children’s librarian in Oldham who is currently on maternity leave. The 42-year-old, who lives in Mossley, Tameside, has also branched out – but not too far – into Morrissey’s solo material. Fans of the Manic Street Preachers can also bag a ‘libraries gave us power’ design.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Library staff break silence - Barry and District News. “The Vale Council staff, who wanted to remain unidentified, claimed attempting to run Dinas Powys, Wenvoe, Sully and St Athan’s library facilities as community libraries using volunteers would result in paid members losing their jobs. ” … ““Dedicated library staff have been left shocked and upset as this news emerged before these proposals had been officially discussed at the Vale Council cabinet meeting on Monday, April 28. “Staff and unions are also annoyed about the lack of meaningful consultation.”

“why is it always the lower end of the scale – the ones working with the actual public? Why can they not get rid of a librarian on a much higher pay scale? “It would probably work out the same as three members of staff who are losing their jobs” anonymous library worker

“It is clear from the reaction of Members of this Council, ‘Local People’ throughout the Vale, the Trade Unions and our superb staff that the decimation of our ‘Library Service’ by this Administration is completely unacceptable. What is more the manner in which the matter has been handled by the Administration has clearly been completely shambolic. The Cabinet Member may not be aware but local people were promised investment in the Library Service in Wenvoe. This investment was to come from the ‘Section 106 Agreements’ reached as a result of the granting of planning permission for two large housing developments in Wenvoe, which will almost double the size of the village. Can the Cabinet Member explain how this is now going to take place in view of the fact that he has all but closed the Library?” Cllr JC Bird to Cabinet Member for Adult Services

  • Wrexham – Cuts are the tip of the iceberg for Wrexham - News North Wales. “The stark warning that closing community centres, libraries and leisure centres was just the start of a ‘painful process’ comes as Wrexham Council outlined the first part of their proposed cuts for 2015-16, with more than £4 million of savings identified.” … “removal of the school library service”

On the petition against stocking the Sun in public libraries

Editorial

Being able to neutrally and professionally choose and then display bookstock for the local community is a key skill for the library profession.  It’s a rare library that won’t have something that will offend somebody in it.  I remember the shock I saw on a user’s face when I showed him our copy of Mein Kampf.  Speaking personally, I’m an atheist (and a fairly hard-line one at that) but you wouldn’t know it from the bookstock – Dawkins is there of course but so are shelves on Christianity and other religions, New Age treatments and Wicca.  What I believe simply does not matter and the aim is that anyone using the library should not know either.  We are, after all, not there to be custodians of “our” books but rather that of the community and, if we forget that, then we’re in peril of losing more than just council funding.

So you can guess where I stand on the recent petition to ban the Sun from public libraries.  I find much of the newspapers’ contents embarrassing to say the least.  Page Three appeals to the lowest common male denominator.  But it’s also one of the most popular newspapers in the UK and I have no right to stop purchasing it simply because I don’t like it.  Heaven knows there’s a ton of other stuff that would go as well and the whole place would turn into an Ian Library and not a public one.  That’s not to say that the petitioners don’t make valid points about the Sun. Rather, I thnk that this is where the stock policies of each authority come in.  This should be regularly checked, neutral and rational document that is ultimately agreed by councillors, with the advice of officers and open to public critique.  It’s only then that we can be sure that what strikes us as the right thing to do is correct.  It’s a lot more boring and staid than a petition but in these matters I prefer the head over the heart. So, yes, take the desire to ban a newspaper to the local library but, please, no emotional appeals … because those same tools can be used quite as easily against you as for you.

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“Libraries are social capital for great cities”

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Lincolnshire trends

Keep library users happy: don’t send them away angry

Editorial

One of the problems of library management is to decide when a rule is needed: it’s so tempting to be seen to be  managing by putting one in which then causes more problems not less. This is why the worst libraries have lots of posters saying “don’t” up on the walls.  The truth is, though, that the vast majority of the public know the rules and, if they don’t, a quiet word will solve it.  In my authority, we call it the “97:3″ rule – 97% of the people know how to behave, 3% of the population not so much.  Putting up a bunch of rules ain’t going to affect that 3% but they run the risk of annoying the inoffensive 97%. We’ve seen it recently in the downright odd decision in many authorities to demand both a library card number and a PIN in order to self-issue a book and the good people of Croydon are seeing it currently in a strange decision that seems designed to annoy students.

For Carillion-controlled Croydon libraries appear to be actively barring students from using their buildings. Tables are artificially divided into “study” and “non-study” areas and woe betide the student who decides not to sit at the (overcrowded) study tables and dares sit at a (normally empty) “non-study” table instead.  To make things even worse, users are only given a half-hour break if they want to keep their ridiculously rationed space. Now, one can see the management thinking here – at some points during the year, there’s obviously a conflict between students and non-students using tables.  But to restrict things is this manner serves only to annoy those are, perfectly validly, using the library for study. “Why visit this condescending institution?” says a letter writer in Croydon Guardian and, barring a change in the rules, many of us would probably agree.  You’re supposed to be attracting in users, Carillion, not sending them away angry.

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Libraries “have never been just about the books”: Wales, Lincolnshire + therapy

Editorial

A few obvious key stories today.  The first is that Wales has launches its new set of standards: they’re more qualitative than before but not necessarily easier than the previous ones.  Why is this notable?  Well, because Wales is starting to feel the touch of austerity, with big cuts affecting such places as the Vale of Glamorgan and Rhondda Cynon Taff and it will be interesting to see what impact, if any, the presence of standards have.  I get the feel that they had previously shamed a few councils into improving but now Wales is in a tougher climate and this will be the real test.

At least Wales has standards, though, which is not the case in England or, more specifically, Lincolnshire where the Council has made clear it is going through with major cuts despite an ongoing judicial review.  The council has made clear that it’s determined to cut £2 million mainly by removing 100 paid staff.  It has also made clear that even if the review does count against them then they will simply sort out the technical process side and keep the staff cut … which shows that, when it comes down to it, English law is not an emphatically strong tool for library campaigners.

Finally, a just plain good story about academic research which shows the importance of library buildings (note, not the books or the service) as therapeutic places.  The mere fact that they offer a quiet, neutral, non-judgemental and publicly owned space is enough.  As the article notes, libraries “have never been just about the books”.

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“Why are private firms stepping in to offer what seem like public services, more commonly offered in libraries ?”

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Rise above the noise so it’s not just a library for today but a library for all time

Editorial

It’s an hour long and from the other side of the world but it’s worth listening to: the boss of one of the most forward-thinking US library services describes the best things his libraries are doing now and where he sees libraries in the future.  One of the notable things, from a UK perspective, is how brave and optimistic he is – and also how open he is to change and well-funded.  But there’s a lot of things there to think about and some ideas can be cherry-picked if not all of it.

“If we’re all things to all people then we’re going to be below average in lots of things … what’s important in your community? What can you do to rise above the noise so it’s not just a library for today but a library for all time?”

Please send any news or comments to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk.

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An A to Z of how wonderful public libraries are

Editorial

I love a good publicity or advocacy tool, as you may have noticed from my coverage of the new Librarian of the Year Awards yesterday.  Well, another one has come along today in the form of a beautifully illustrated A to Z of public libraries.  Of course, it has not actually been produced yet but I’m sure us supporters of public libraries won’t let a little something like that get in our way.  So, watch the video and then consider supporting it.  It has raised over a quarter of its required funding already in barely a day but the more invested then the more you get out (a bit like a public library really) and the more likely this great promotional tool will be landing in the in-box of a cabinet minister.

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So many inappropriate captions come to mind

Awards: Make sure your library service makes a nomination

Editorial

I am delighted to see that a set of national awards have been set up for UK public librarians … and it’s about time as the USA has had them (in the form of the “Movers and Shakers” list) for some years.  I can see all sorts of positives from this – good publicity, an awareness by councils of the worth of their employees and an increased drive to be innovative or just plain amazingly excellent at one’s day job.  The down side noticed from the US is some sniping at “Rock Star Librarians” (although event this can be a good thing) but, what the hell, that’s a small price to pay for something so positive.

There are some limitations to the awards – one has to, oddly in my view, for such a public-facing job, be nominated by one’s employer for instance – but these are early days and one hopes that these things will evolve.  It would also be great if the awards had a special name like “Dewey” or something.  Councils may anyway receive nominations for outstanding librarians from the public (and indeed need to provide customer testimonials) and the more farsighted ones may even publicly encourage it.  I can also see profiles of the short-listed librarians appearing in Update (or here on Public Libraries News: guys, talk to me) and the winner even getting some national attention. Spread best practice and the good news all around, I say.

So if you know of a librarian deserving the award (and who doesn’t?) then make sure the chief librarian of the relevant authority knows too.

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Ideas noted

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Enterprise in Libraries and Glamorgan cuts

 

Editorial

Some interesting research, funded by Arts Council England, on the state of play in raising income in libraries has come out today.  If you’re in charge of library services or are likely to be affected by changes then do have a look. Regardless of your views on this matter (and I think things have come to such a pass that everything needs looking at seriously) this is at least a good report in terms of seeing what is out there.  Or you could end up like the Vale of Glamorgan which is cutting it’s library budget by a fifth and losing £309k in staff.  For those many there who are in all likelihood now contemplating redundancy, income-generating alternatives must seem very attractive at the moment.

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