Sieghart: the whole (public library) world in his hands?

“Fear of change”: William Sieghart interviewed

Interview

William Sieghart, leader of the panel of experts who recently produced “An Independent Review of E-lending in Public Libraries in England”, National Poetry Day founder and the brains behind Poetry on Prescription, kindly agreed to do a brief interview for Public Libraries News, which is printed below.  Mr Sieghart will be touring libraries in Kent and Westminster promoting his poetry anthology, Winning Words: Inspiring Poems for Everyday Life.  More details of the tour can be found here.

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Bad news in Herefordshire, good news elsewhere. Questions in Manchester and Isle of Wight

There’s a mixture of good and bad news today.  The good news are refurbishments in East Sussex, North Tyneside and Windsor and Maidenhead.  These range from nearly finished projects to plans still on the drawing board but they all show a faith in the future or libraries. Bad news comes from Herefordshire, where council papers, suggest that spending on Culture (including libraries) will be nearly halved over three years with cuts and transfers to volunteers proposed.

Bad news also from Manchester which further confirms closures of six libraries, with £87k to be spent per year to aid volunteers to run alternatives.  Campaigners have noted that all of these closures are all in deprived areas, which raises certain legal concerns, as the quote below demonstrates:

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Library Campaign’s call to action on volunteer libraries: “Let’s get real”

 

Laura Swaffield from the Library Campaign has rightly pointed out to me that I missed out her report a few days ago.  The Campaign’s statement is, belatedly, below: More >

Walcot

One volunteer library, many questions: Walcot Library and matters arising

 

The article below appears by willing permission of The Library Campaign magazine.  It will appear in the next issue, along with one from Jim Brooks of the award-winning volunteer Little Chalfont Community Library.  The article is written by Trevor Craig and Shirley Burnham

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Cartoon by Theresa McCracken

Outsourcing, food banks, late fees and 3-D printing (sort of)

Ealing and Harrow libraries look set to be outsourced to Laing.  Meanwhile, there’s food collections in Wigan libraries for local food banks and there are also two unrelated articles about non-payment of late fees in Camden and Essex.  More internationally, there’s a great defence of public libraries in New Zealand (under very hostile questioning)  and the Australian library association want to hear your views on the future of libraries.  Right, after all of that, here’s a treat … a not entirely serious suggestion for 3-D printers being the saviour of libraries in a somewhat unorthodox way:

Cartoon by Theresa McCracken

Cartoon by Theresa McCracken

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What the Chief Librarians said to the campaigners …

Editorial

The meeting between the Society of Chief Librarians and a selection of library campaigners on Tuesday 30th April covered a lot of important issues and made clear the role that SCL views it can take.  The main topics covered were:

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What colour is your library?

Editorial

There’s a fascinating article on what different colours mean in marketing that can be looked at here.  Yellow means optimism, blue means trust (IBM) and grey means balance (Wikipedia).  I don’t entirely agree with all the samples but it got me thinking – is anyone in your library service aware of the role of colour in marketing?  No, didn’t think so.  Let’s set our sights a little lower – do you have anyone trained in marketing? No? I mean, this is key stuff: companies go out of business or make big money because of this – and it appears to pass libraries by.  This is perhaps understandable in times of cut budgets but it was also of course true in better times as well.

Partly this is because of councils controlling marketing, publicity and social media. Partly, though, it is also because librarians confuse marketing with publicity and think that anyone can do it who (God help me) has Microsoft Publisher on their computers.  If your library service has gone past this stage then, congratulations, nominate them for an Award.  If not then have a read of this book and get it sorted.

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Definition of a philistine

Maria Miller, the minister ultimately responsible for libraries, has made clear that the only thing that matters in the Arts is money.  Leaving aside the temptation to suggest that she knows “the price of everything and the value of nothing”, this may have some strong implications for libraries, although it is clear that this is the way that the wind has been blowing for quite some while.  Stressing the economic value or libraries – rather than any touchy-feely stuff – is clearly the way to go.  There are many such arguments that will aid this case and another has appeared with a new report showing that illiteracy costs the UK $127 billion per year.

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“A pretty turbulent time”: BBC News covers public and volunteer libraries

Editorial

BBC Television News covered volunteer libraries today.  This is a transcript of the two minute segment:

Jenny Hill, reporter: In this library, they don’t like silence but they do love their books. Bulkington Library is run by the community.  Among the fifty-two volunteers here, we met Mary.

Mary Beaumont, volunteer, Bulkington Community Library: Reading is really important to me.  I’ve always liked books.  I always think that books take you out of yourself.  If you’re having a bit of a bad day, feeling a bit down.

Jenny Hill, reporter: In the story of the British public library, this is a pretty turbulent time. Last year alone, spending cuts forced the closure of some 200.  There are at the same time, though, some 170 so-called community run libraries just like this one and they’re staffed by 23,000 volunteers.  Some would say it is quite a survival story.

Bulkington, they say, is more than just a library. They host history groups, poetry groups, social groups but they also have to find £7,000 a year just to keep it going.

Darrell Buckley, Chairman, Bulkington Community Library: It is wrong.  This should be run by the Council. But, if you have no alternative then you have to make a different arrangement and this is what we have managed to do in Bulkington.

John Dolan, CILIP (a member of the CILIP council and a former library policy advisor at the MLA): What I think is terrible is the way that in some authorities, the library has been dismissed as unimportant. Libraries are being down-sized, they’re being closed, they’re being as here run by volunteers.  This is fine in principle if they have the backing of a library service with skilled and trained librarians.

Jenny Hill, reporter: It’s feared that hundreds of public libraries still face closure and it is predicted that they will be replaced by hundreds of volunteer-run services. In the meantime, the monster masterclass continues.  There are more than 13,000 books here but somehow the top title usually involves a dinosaur.

Volunteers fight to save libraries, BBC.  Transcript of 2 minute news segment.

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13 more libraries under threat while Mr Vaizey jokes

Editorial

The latest council to announce large-scale cuts to its library service is Barnsley, where eight out of 17 branches will either be closed or farmed out to volunteers or other organisations.  Cuts north of the border appear to be increasing, although met with massive protest, with Midlothian looking to change three branches.  Southend is also cutting provision.  While all this is happening, Ed Vaizey attended a new library opening in North Somerset and had a joke.  His performance is not amusing many people, though, with a whole raft of celebrities questioning the cuts to the Arts and his seeming inability to answer letters – a trait well known to library campaigners, who well remember similar behaviour over the last couple of years.

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