Stephen Fry stands up for public libraries

New “Library Fund” and Stephen Fry poster

Editorial

CILIP have started a new fund for libraries and information services, with £10,000 of their own money and a fundraising campaign to increase the figure. It’s important to note that this fund is not solely for public libraries and is not intended for campaigning, which has caused some disappointment and confusion in the reactions I have seen. Rather, it is ” to support a range of projects and activities that improve access to information and knowledge, literacy, health, digital inclusion and life chances”. Something else CILIP has done this week is to get Stephen Fry to endorse a library campaigning poster: it’s freely available to download, share and print and I suspect we’ll be seeing it in  a lot of libraries very soon. Get your copy from their site today.

In the real world, there’s a big new refurb in Enfield and it looks like more than half the libraries will close/leave council control in Moray.

Changes

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Traffic delays due to library campaigners

Editorial

The news that it is costing Lambeth more money to guard its closed libraries than it would have cost to keep them open is a new low in the odd way that some councils treat libraries. Some councillors, of all political stripe, have shown themselves adept at making an already bad situation worse. Barnet, for example, managed to tender out its library computer system without adequate maintenance safeguards, meaning a loss of library data (and inconvenience to staff) months ago still encumbering them now. Other councillors simply do not understand the important work libraries do, or wish to make some sort of point – be it about the wonderfulness of the BIg Society or the evils of Austerity or whatever. It’s good therefore that people are willing to protest, as was the case in Lewisham this weekend with hundreds protesting.  I wonder how many countries can say traffic delayed due to library campaigners? Well, the UK joined the undoubtedly short and tragic list this weekend.

Changes

Ideas

  • Tactile reading – Briefcases containing architectural models.
  • Workrary – Non-profit company leases out libraries as business workplaces.

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“Cameron can come to ours and assist those trying to get online”

Editorial

Reaction to opening hour cuts in Northern Ireland has been notably negative, as has the continuing dismay over the gigantic cuts to Lancashire. A news item I’ve noticed is that Norwich Millennium Library, one of the most popular libraries in the UK, has gone down the Open+ remote access route for some hours and sections. It’s a sign that the system is going to be used in all sizes of library, from the smallest to the largest. and that the market for it will be something that expands while the library budgets generally contract.

Finally, stand by to get angry as David Cameron explains away library closures to a ten year old boy as due to “technological change”.  Reactions to this from my Twitter feed, disregarding the several tweets including swear words (I’m shocked, you hear, shocked), include:

  • “So how about we shut the House of Commons library and replace it with computers?
  • “Not so – my local library was packed with people using computers AND books the other week”
  • “those who say ‘libraries antiquated/underused’ almost always those w/ no direct need/experience of libraries themselves”
  • “omg that man. Does he not realise libraries are more important than ever. shame on you.”
  • “Because, you know, people who can’t afford tech or need place to study don’t count”
  • “This will be where I point out we still have accountants despite the invention of calculators (for starters…..)”
  • “How sad! Wake up and see how both are important and essential. It should not be one or the other…”
  • “Doesn’t look as if Cameron realises that lots of poeple also need libraries to access technology
  • “If our PM visited them more often perhaps he’d understand how incorrect that is.”
  • “Libraries are about connecting with the community-Cameron can come to ours and assist those trying to get online.”

and, my personal favourite:

  • “”I have never lived in a small or disruptive household””

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Information on every library service in the UK since 2010

Editorial

A few times recently people have been surprised when I have mentioned that they can see the major changes in any UK library authority in the UK since 2010 via the Public Libraries News website. I suspect this information could be very handy for anyone looking for a job, or business, or a better understanding of any library service so here’s all the relevant links below. Normally, you’d need to click on the By Authority tab at the top of the webpages, then Changes then choose the relevant link.

I’ve worked hard to ensure it’s all accurate but if there’s anything that needs changing then please contact me, as always, on ianlibrarian@live.co.uk.

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It's (almost) that time of year again: Summer Reading Challenge 2016

She’s moving her lips … plus good new ideas, cuts in North Lanarkshire and Warrington

Editorial

It’s always amusing tracking the statements of politicians and seeing how their phrasing carefully manages to give the best possible impression without actually lying. Major points to Baroness Nevile-Rolfe in this regard who has said in the House of Lords that only 110 libraries have closed since 2010 and the Government was doing loads of stuff to support them. Presumably she did this with a straight face and her fingers crossed behind her back. Her definitions carefully avoid all the cuts in the “changes” section below – the 4 libraries under threat are in Scotland (so aren’t mentioned in the England figures), the 2 mobiles are excluded twice (they’re in Scotland and they’re not “static”) and of course the cuts in opening hours in Warrington don’t count at all. Elsewhere, the major cuts to Lancashire (which, if all 40 turn volunteer, wouldn’t be included in the Baroness’s’s’s definitions) are getting the attention they deserve in the local press, if not in parliament.

Away from the good Baroness, there’s a few ideas I’ve not seen before, including the beautifully termed “tiebrary”, plus information on the fantastic national reading promotion for libraries which is the Summer Reading Challenge.

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Fallout in Lancashire, changes in Enfield and Yorkshire … and some refurbs and ideas

Editorial

Big news today is the continuing fall out from the drastic cuts to Lancashire libraries and other council services. People – including in this instance two Conservative MPs – are not happy. Other news includes cuts to the East Riding of Yorkshire (remember, it’s an amalgamation, not a closure), although to be fair to them there does appear to have been an actual genuine consultation there – and a co-location in Enfield. Some more details on big refurbishments to libraries (yes, they do happen, but thy too often don’t grab the headlines) already reported here and a few good ideas for libraries, including the too-cool-for-school (well, unless, you’re doing it anonymously, naturally) Crypto Party. Finally, the Taskforce have done a very useful summary of the Taking Part figures on trends in library use, and promise changes to the way the DCMS gathers the information in future.

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So what does Lancashire and Newfoundland have in common?

Editorial

More information has come out about the cuts in Lancashire. It’s pretty bad. The press release from the council is an unfortunate example of the best possible gloss being put on a bad situation, with the real needs of users (and the feelings of library staff, not to say their jobs) seemingly pretty much ignored. Canada is not a place I normally associate with deep cuts but it looks like the politicians in Newfoundland are trying to change that.  It’s heartening to see the national reaction, not to say revulsion, that this is causing in that country, though. So things may end differently there. We can hope so. Meanwhile, there’s a nice refurb in Bradford and an extension of the embarrassing closure in Hereford and something very interesting going on in a Malaysian airport …

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Stephen Fry1

Libraries “save lives” says Stephen Fry

Editorial

I’m going to pass over my editorial to Stephen Fry today. The image is shareable and copyright free.

Stephen Fry1

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Lewisham - Unison poster organising march to "save Lewisham Libraries"

“Fund it better”

Editorial

My thanks to a PLN reader who pointed out that the Atlantic article on the decline in usage of US libraries over recent years stated that the drop had a lot to do with budget cuts (or increases in areas which saw usage rise).  I neglected to mention this in my summary. It’s something which has resonance in the UK where the decline in library usage mirrors closely (or, much of the time, is less than) the cuts to their budget.  English library budgets have fallen far more than the 14.3% decline in usage that the BooKSeller reports or the larger figure that the DCMS figure itself suggests. Don’t get me wrong, budget cuts are not the only woe. I’m sure that some of the decline is due to general global trends like e-books – research I’m doing into the usage and budgetary trends of libraries in Europe and beyond show that it’s not just the UK that’s seeing drops, and also it’s not just those countries who have seen big cuts to budgets. That’s not a message that will be popular with everyone. However, the Atlantic article ends with a sentiment I think almost all of us can agree with: ” if the public wants to reverse the trend and make the local library more useful, it should do one thing that evidence supports: Fund it better. “

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Taking Part and Polish train station libraries

Editorial

The DCMS “Taking Part” survey has done a special focus on public libraries.  It’s useful as it looks at adult usage over the past ten years. The trend shows a clear decline – I think we all knew that that would be the case, with reasons being arguable, but with the given reasons of those surveyed being, quite simply, e-books and preferring to buy.  It’s also noteworthy how important a factor children are in adult’s use of libraries.  There’s a lot of crossover there that perhaps library design does not always follow.  Elsewhere, I’m loving the Polish train station converted into a library.

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