Library spending on the four parts of the UK compared

Editorial

A full judicial review to the deep cuts on Lincolnshire’s library service have been allowed by the High Court on all four grounds.  This will be a historic case as it will be the first to challenge on the “comprehensive and efficient” terminology of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.  All other challenges have been on other grounds, notably the Equalities Act.

Wales has become the first constituent part of the United Kingdom to start automatic library membership in schools.  Every primary schoolchild will be allowed to borrow two books “straight away”, with full lending privileges given when proof of address has been given. Following on my post yesterday, lauding the Welsh for actually having things like standards and a national marketing strategy, Librariesmatter has kindly supplied me with the figures for the different nations. Let’s have a look …

Based on Cipfa 2012/13. Per 1000 head per population.
Based on Cipfa 2012/13. Per 1000 head per population. 

So Wales and Scotland have more visitors per 1000 population (and Wales wins out on book issues too) than England but they spend more money to do it.

Cipfa nations graph

England spends considerably less than the other nations on libraries per 1000 population. A lot less compared to Scotland.  Presumably the more widely spread out population has something to do with that.

England comes out on top on average though.

Which means English cost per issue and visit is the lowest, despite having less visitors and issues than Wales.

Changes

On the radar

  • Bromley - “Drastic cuts planned” in opening hours and staffing.

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Your last chance to have a say on English public libraries

Editorial
Well, that’s it. Looks like I’m working in the wrong country.  Check out the quote from Jane Purdie below from Wales where they’ve quite clearly been doing things so much better than in England.  They  have a national marketing strategy, with refurbishments, central support and a pile of other stuff which has led to a 9% increase in usage since 2007/8.  England, with it’s emphasis on localism and austerity, on the other hand have not been so successful.  Perhaps those doing the independent review into public libraries in England should know about it – along with any other thoughts you may have about ways forward.  It’s basically your last chance to tell them, though, because submissions end on Friday. Go for it, I say.  At this point, what exactly do English public libraries have to lose?

Changes

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The survival of libraries lies in positive promotion

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The Library Cuts Symphony

Editorial

The familiar music of local people choosing between seeing their library close and taking it over themselves is playing louder these days.  North Yorkshire, which has had volunteer libraries for a couple of years, is looking at transferring another 23 of its 52 that way: leaving only 12 “hub” branches with paid staff.  It joins other authorities like Lincolnshire in aiming for a future where the number of volunteer library outnumbers the number of paid.

I’m glad to say, though that, against this, other songs can be heard.  Some more information is coming out about the refurbished Manchester Central Library, soon to be reopened, and it’s sounding rather wonderful.  I’m hoping for some real ”Ode to Joy” from that one.  East Sussex are also planning some happy numbers – two new libraries are planned – although one of these is postponed.  This aspect of the performance is dieing away: Manchester is the last of the Big New Shiny Libraries to be completed and no more of that scale are planned.

Then, against these competing doom-laden and happy pieces comes another sound.  Another sound that is not musical at all: it’s the sound of the mocking laughter of crows. Step forward those companies who have been lucky enough to take advantage of PFI contracts for new libraries.  It looks like the recognised discounted rate of return on such contracts is 7% per year.  How authorities could do with that money now. Let’s hope Manchester and East Sussex are getting better deals.

FInally, there is something else.  The sound of silence from the minister while the Library Cuts Symphony continues and, the increasing suspicion of those who care, that many in Government will applaud when the work is finished … and avert their eyes from the disenfranchised in the streets (and secretly blame them for their lack of entrepreneurial spirit) when they leave the theatre .

Please send any news, views or corrections to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk

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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.

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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”

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Ideas

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

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