hulkstatue

“Every library should have a Hulk”: An interview with the man behind a great libraries idea

Editorial

I saw a great project a couple of days ago from a small town called Northlake (30,000 residents) near Chicago which shows how imagination and the internet can be used together in order to, at next to no cost, publicise a library and raise funds for it.  The plan, you see, is to purchase a nine-foot-tall statue of the Incredible Hulk for the library.  That, I think, would be reason enough but that is actually only the “hook” to get funding for a lot of new technology for the place.  Technology that will spectacularly position the library at the forefront of provision for its area. Why the Hulk? Well, the branch itself prides itself on its graphic novel collection (it was 2,300 but it’s even bigger now – someone saw the publicity and donated 1,000 more) but also, I think, it’s the sheer incongruousness of the concept that’s the winner.  It’s relevance to the UK is that it shows clearly what can be done with no resources.  Even if they don’t get their Hulk statue, Northlake has gained more publicity than ever before, probably revolutionised its image and gets to keep whatever money has been raised, which already runs to a couple of thousand dollars.

I hope after reading the words of Tom Mukite, a trustee of the library, who is intimately involved with the project, that you will agree with the Ron Marz, known for his work on Silver Surfer and Green Lantern,  that “Every library should have a hulk”

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Deja vu from 1976 … and CILIP Scotland express deep concern over cuts in Moray

Editorial

It’s interesting to note that the Scottish side of the librarian professional body CILIP has issued a statement expressing its “deep concern” about cuts in Moray.  These cuts (7 out of 15 may close) are of proportions familiar enough to those in England but may be a worrying harbinger of things to come north of the border.   CILIP (England) itself has long since given up (if it ever started in the first place) producing announcements for each new authority that announces cuts in its own turf, presumably because their frequency would get a bit monotonous.

Speaking of cuts, as I so often do, I should point out the current bete noir of Herefordshire faces an unconfirmed 9 branches being withdrawn, not 10.  The tenth, Peterchurch, is already volunteer run:  a possibility interestingly missing from a 1976 article on library cuts that is otherwise quite eery in its similarities to today.

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One of our favourite things

Editorial

The full scale of the proposed cuts to Herefordshire Libraries are becoming clearer, with the petition against the closures of all but one of them coming up time and time again with testimonies of how important the local branches still are.  There is also some anger at the LGA forgetting that libraries are statutory in their desire to stress how many will close if there continue to be cuts to council budgets.

Set against such cuts, it’s going to be tough for the new Arts Council England (half-time) libraries director, Brian Ashley, to accentuate the positive but it is clear that this is what he plans to do.  I know what he means, to a point: there are indeed many great things happening in libraries, every day, and this needs to be emphasised, No-one, after all, wants to be associated with a declining service, employees and users alike. However, balancing the news of the biggest cuts to library services in history with good news is going to be a challenge for Brian and he will need all the help he can get.  As such, I’ll start him off with this song below (sent to me very kindly today) which lists many good things about libraries while at the same time not failing to mention the bad.  Sing it to the tune of “These are a few of my favourite things” by the way:

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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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