• Beyond the bullet points: libraries are obsolete – Virtual Dave (USA).  Some excellent points against public libraries and, of course, excellent points in rebuttal in favour of them.  “Libraries as band aids may be obsolete, but that is not why we need libraries. We need libraries so we can fix our education system, so we can fix our economy, so we can fix our democracies yes. But we need libraries even more to discover new knowledge not found in any textbook. We need libraries to create whole new opportunities for innovation. We need libraries to give our communities a voice and power in the working of government. Libraries will never be obsolete so long as our communities dream, and strive, and work to ensure a world of insurmountable opportunities.”
  • Blagger’s guide to … World Book Night – Independent on Sunday.  Some publishers were initially a little sceptical: giving away books when the industry is struggling may seem like lunacy. But last year’s inaugural event was such a hit that most now agree it’s worth putting up with the £8m cost, if it spreads a bit of love. Of course, it’s brilliant PR and, who knows, some new readers may become bookaholics and big spenders”. [Interesting to note that public libraries “give” books away all the time and therefore presumably also help the publishing industry.]
  • British Library: going beyond books – Guardian.  Libraries as wealth creators: “We want to hear from the designers, illustrators and other creative professionals who have used the library: what have you found useful and (truthfully) what you didn’t. The British Library has always been a hub of knowledge, now it also wants to be a hub of inspiration. Come and get inspired.”
  • From Horrible Histories to Babar the Elephant: the “offensive” children’s books withdrawn by libraries – Telegraph. Summarises the challenges to books made in public libraries last year.  While clearly going for a “political correctness gone crazy” angle, the list actually shows that not many were successful.  See point by Bob Usherwood below on why this situation may soon get worse.  See also the points made by Alan Gibbons.
  • HuffPost meets Dan Jarvis, an MP obsessed with libraries – Huffington Post.   Shadow minister for libraries is about to produce “a major report on the future of libraries, a document which he promises will be a “non-partisan, non-knockabout vision for a 21st Century library.” … “They’re really important public spaces… but like everything they have got to move with the times. We’re now living in an information age, the way people are accessing information is different from five or ten years ago, and it will be different in another five or ten years from now.” His pre-occupation seems to be that as we increasingly move from print to digital publishing, the case for a physical public space becomes precarious.”.  Mr Jarvis believes the DCMS is about to be disbanded.

“I’m not even convinced that [the Tory culture minister] Ed Vaizey believes he’s been a champion for libraries. The minister for libraries should be out there making the case for why it’s important for local authorities to protect libraries. He hasn’t done that.”

  • Incredibly unique bookmobiles around the world – Flavorwire (USA).  Illustrated selection of some of the best and most unusual mobile libraries in the world, including the “Weapon of Mass Instruction”.
  • Let’s begin to do something positive about the public library service – Good Library Blog. Tim Coates argues that we need “one system, one website, one communications network, one set of operating standards for every process – and 3,500 buildings . The 150 systems and websites and sets of specifications we have now need to be closed down.”.  See comments for reasons for and against this idea.
  • Letter: Bob Usherwood – Independent on Sunday.  “Localism inevitably leads to a postcode lottery, which means there will be unequal access to high-quality library and information services. There is also the real danger of tyranny by a local majority whereby a policy – stock selection, say – may be based on local prejudice rather than professional judgement. In America, challenges to books in libraries are commonplace, and challenged titles include Brave New World and Catcher in the Rye. Such events are rare in the UK, partly because of local and central control. We face the prospect of a public library service based on geographical chance and localism, and a population whose life chances will be diminished by reduced services and several hundred library closures.”

    Q. Do you have a Kindle? I do, but funnily enough it’s very difficult to get any books on it you actually want. The first thing I thought I’d put on it was Froude’s Life of Carlyle, which is one of my favourite biographies, but it’s quite impossible. Then you try to download the Pléiade Proust rather than some crap Proust and you can’t. Then I downloaded the complete works of Yeats, and the poems give out halfway through. So I think it’s of very limited use. It’s fine for aeroplanes and trains but it won’t replace the dear old book.” AN Wilson in the Guardian

  • Save the Libraries event: Boston Public LibraryHellnotes (USA).  The funding of American libraries should be a matter of national security,” Karin writes. “Keeping libraries open, giving access to all children to all books is vital to our nation’s sovereignty. For nearly 85 percent of kids living in rural areas, the only place where they have access to technology or books outside the schoolroom is in a public library. For many urban kids, the only safe haven they have to study or do homework is the public library.”
  • Some notes on tweeting for libraries – Shelf Check (USA).  Twitter and other social media was chosen by Arts Council England as a key point of their consultation.  This guide is a useful “do’s and don’ts” guide but quite American in that it assumes that the library authority is not hamstrung by a council policy forbidding such interaction.
  • Think like a Start-Up: a White Paper – Ubiquitous Librarian (USA).   An article written for academic libraries but relevant also for public libraries.  It suggests that libraries should consider what their core purpose is and use their unique selling points to change so they can still do that in the changing world.  There’s a fair bit of business-speak and nonsense [“aim for epiphanies”] in the pdf but the idea is sound and needs examining.
  • What are top five things we can all do to ensure the integrity and future of the profession? – CILIP on LinkedIn.  Ideas include promotion, getting rid of the worst performing staff, retail/marketing training, being proactive, “stop kidding ourselves that it’s everyone else’s fault and take responsibility”.
  • World Book Night – “Library & Bookstore Search.  We’re pleased to have thousands of wonderful bookstores and libraries participating in World Book Night 2012. To find your nearest library or bookshop simply enter your address below and click ‘Search Now’.”


Local News

  • Bolton – MP calls for moves to save library service – Bolton News. “Mr Crausby [MP] has signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament which welcomes the formation of Speak Up For Libraries and calls on the Government to undertake a thorough assessment of the state of the public library service and develop a national vision for its future.” 

Too late for the people of Highfield who saw their new library shut down even though it was well used.The old library building at Marsh Lane lies empty.Surely the answer would have been to sell the Marsh Lane building as it’s standing there doing nothing and pump the proceeds into the Highfield Road building.Sadly the Council just closed Highfield library without justification and now people are asked to use Farnworth library which is almost 2 miles away and £4.20p return on the bus.Madness!”

  • Dorset – Wool library campaigners closer to taking over facility – Dorset Echo.   “The Friends of Wool Library has already put forward a business plan for the future running of the facility and are in discussions with the council with a view to taking over the library in September. The Friends group, which now has 100 members and a roster of volunteers in place, has received a further boost to their plans with a generous donation from a local firm. The Bovington Employees Support Team (BEST) at Babcock International has donated £200 [sic] to help the Friends meet the running costs when they take over the facility.”
  • Gloucestershire – Library rescue plan progressing in Mitcheldean – This is Gloucestershire.  “More than 30 hours of staffing per week are likely to be stripped away from the library under Gloucestershire County Council’s savings plans but villagers are determined to keep it running at full strength. The Mitcheldean Library Action Group has now set up the new GL17 Community Hub to take on responsibility for the centre and is determined services will not be hit.”.  Councillor Hawthorne claims that cutting 30 hours of staffing is providing an opportunity to “expand library facilities”.
  • Newcastle – Week in the life of Cruddas Park Library – Newcastle Libraries Online.   “Local photographer Keith Pattison spent a week at Cruddas Park Library taking photographs of the customers who visited.  They either held up the book they borrowed of wrote down the reason for their trip to the library. His innovative project highlights the many different ways people use their library and looks at the role libraries play in the local community. The images have been compiled in his new book, ‘face BOOK – A Week in the Life of a Branch Library’, which will be launched alongside Keith’s exhibition on Tuesday 24 April at 10:30am at Cruddas Park Shopping Centre. You can also take a look at the images online on Keith’s website.”.  Some nice images.
  • Telford & Wrekin – Library service changes to go before cabinet – Shropshire Live.  “The council says savings of around 20 per cent could be achieved without the need to close any of the 9 libraries across the borough if the plans are approved. The proposal states that the savings could be gained through the reduction of opening hours along with the exploration of researching new opportunities to co-locate library services with other partner services in order to save building related costs.” … “The proposals would mean that no library in Telford and Wrekin would have to close and by presenting a proposal which has been informed by public opinion, the suggestion to change library opening hours should suit our service users.””