Bananas linked by wires to computers

More money for Kingston, more volunteers in Staffordshire and others

Editorial

Code Clubs have come into their own in many libraries this year and it’s good to have a piece from the SCL below on them. Also good to see investment in Kingston, although there is the normal news about more volunteer libraries. And of course the shame that is how LiveWire is treating libraries in Warrington continues.

I’m still doing the survey on what public libraries charge for things like craft sessions and for drinks for events. It’s to get some idea of what’s happening nationally as well as seeing if these are extra bits of income that can be made without affecting usage (or not).  The survey is tiny (only four questions) and will take you less than a minute if you don’t put any comments in.  So, do me (and possibly yourself as I will be publicising the results) a favour by completing the survey here. The survey is entirely anonymous.  Thank you.

Changes

Ideas

Cracking the Code in Manchester Central Library

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Coding clubs triple in libraries, linking library books to Amazon … and a really quick survey

Editorial

I’m doing a survey on what public libraries charge for things like craft sessions and for drinks for events. It’s to get some idea of what’s happening nationally as well as seeing if these are extra bits of income that can be made without affecting usage (or not).  The survey is tiny (only four questions) and will take you less than a minute if you don’t put any comments in.  So, do me (and possibly yourself as I will be publicising the results) a favour by completing the survey here. The survey is entirely anonymous.  Thank you.

Ideas

  • Library Extension – Free way to have your library book availability show on Amazon, GoodReads, Overdrive.
  • Smart scales – BMI/Weight scales available in libraries.

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A big protest in favour of libraries and others this weekend.

National demonstrations in favour of libraries: #LoveToRead and Placards

Editorial

Anyone would think it was planned this way.  The BBC led #LoveToRead campaign culminated this weekend, with loads of selfies on library twitter feeds and programmes such as Cerys Matthews on Radio 6 being broadcast from Orkney Library, on the same day that around two thousand people protested in London against libraries (and other services) being cut. It was good to see the “soft” #LoveToRead promotion palatable to council services and the BBC going on at the same time as the “hard” campaigning of placards and protest that chimes with protesters and the unions. The comparative merits and strengths of both tactics can be debated but the timing is impeccable to influence the autumn statement to be announced on the 23rd. Those behind both campaigns can both feel proud of themselves this weekend.

A big protest in favour of libraries and others this weekend.

A big protest in favour of libraries and others this weekend.

Changes

Ideas

  • Chat and chill – Acclimatising women [Not men, in this case – Ed.] new to UK to life here.

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2016: the year the Fun Palace became mainstream in libraries?

Editorial

2016 may be the year when Fun Palaces ceased being an unusual sight in UK public libraries and entered the mainstream.  I’ve had my eye on them for a short while now (here’s an article on them from January) since their success in Lambeth last year. Well, it looks like more and more libraries have got on board this year, with the Taskforce having to devote two, not just one, blog to it in order to fit them all in. They all look joyous and so creative.  Some questions remain for me about them, such as the danger of them being just glorified craft sessions and being sometimes  almost entirely staffed by library staff and not expert enthusiasts from the community.  However, from what I see many are genuinely empowering and bring joy to the library and to the people, regular users and first-time ones, that enter over their threshold.

Changes

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Thomas Colloff, in the mobile library that made it all possible.

“Keep an open mind, be innovative, and keep smiling”: an interview with Thomas Colloff

Editorial

I was delighted to see library staff being recognised for their excellent work over the past year.  The more that those who work in libraries the better, in my opinion.  Here’s the first of the interviews this year …

 A brief interview with Thomas Colloff, Mobile Library Champion of the Year.

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Love to Read, Get It Loud and Loop the Loop

Editorial

Apologies for two posts in one day but I though the interview with Helen Milner deserved a special one on its own.  Here’s the news for the last couple of days.

Changes

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Special interview with Helen Milner on “protected” libraries and the 10% that “have to change”

Helen Milner recently went public with the view that some public libraries are not good enough and are being overly protected. This has led, at time of going to press, with a report in the Guardian and, I understand, an interview on Sky News tomorrow. Her views have led to dispute, some of which has been fairly heated,  in the library community. I caught up with Helen this afternoon and asked her to clarify her views some more.

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Why some libraries should close … but some others definitely should not

Editorial

In an interesting piece, the chief executive of the Tinder Foundation – which is deeply involved with libraries – suggests that some libraries should close if they are not doing a good job at being community hubs. I’m going to doubtless cause shock and heart attacks from some of the readership of this blog (so if you’re of a nervous disposition, look away now) by agreeing to some extent.  Some libraries are in the wrong place or are too little used. Times change, places change and library provision should change too.

However – and you just knew that was coming – there is a world of difference between such cases and those libraries which are only not fulfilling a vital role in their community due to progressive hollowing out over the years. Just have a read of the shameful case of Birmingham’s Sutton Coldfield Library described below by a user who emailed me its story. Or have a look at the repeated deep cuts to the book-fund of Warrington’s libraries that is now being used by the trust running them, LiveWire, to justify closing them rather than seek equal cuts to other services it provides. Many libraries which are fighting closure, or are looking worriedly at their usage figures, are that way due to have successive cuts to their funding, to their staffing, to their maintenance, to book-fund or to their opening hours.  In such cases, the guilty party is most definitely not the library and they should be supported to the hilt.

Changes

Ideas

  • Bookbenches – to encourage reading and library presence in towns.

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Say National Libraries Week, Not Save Our Libraries Day

Editorial

I remember when National Libraries Week – as it is now – started  in early 2011.  The first shock of hundreds of threatened library closures were affecting local communities up and down the country. The author and  library campaigner Alan Gibbons hit upon the idea of a Save Our Libraries Day (and checked with a fee people, including, and I am very proud about this, myself)  and simply announced it. The result was something amazing, as this article from the Guardian in 2011 shows. It completely caught the established library community of the time on the hop. Neither the SCL or CILIP initially got behind it and both seemed very much (publicly at least) to want to ignore it, especially as both were very much tied at the time (CILIP is now somewhat more confrontational) to being nice to the Government which was the cause of all of the cuts in the first place.  But it did not go away and it continued year after year, although never at the level of that first tumultuous year.

The advantages of having a public libraries day or week has been noted in other countries (notably the US since 1958) for years and so it’s a bit embarrassing that it took a grass-roots campaign to get one going in this country. However, over the last couple of years, the benefit of such a day (or, as it now turns out, week) have been noted by chief librarians and others, although not by all.  Indeed, it has always been a barometer to me of how deeply pro-austerity a council is as to if it allows its library service to commemorate the day or not. Gradually, and on the part of decision-makers quite deliberately, the Day has moved from one of protest to one of celebrating libraries. Some campaigners will see this as a co-opting  and castrating of something they did by others. Another viewpoint is that the metamorphosis of the event reflects the increasingly maturity and public relations savvy of the sector. The test will be what happens in October and in future years.

Changes

Ideas

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House of Lords debate and the UK public library skills strategy

Editorial

It’s great to see public libraries being debated in the House of Lords, especially when the sector has the key support of John Bird of the Big Issue. The debate was a long one, with many useful points raised. The standard government response was to say how active they are.  However, it’s no point being active if one does not actually do anything.  Still, this is a new minister now. Let’s see if he’s any different. But let’s be positive and hope. Still being positive, it’s good to see a joint initiative on training coming from CILIP and the SCL.  There’s also a very good strategic look at public libraries by Leon’s Library Blog, with a very information comment by Nick Poole.

Changes

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