• Arts Council Chief Executive comments on need for skilled library staff – Voices for the Library.   “During his presentation he commented that libraries need skilled, knowledgeable staff and shouldn’t be replaced by volunteers. It’s very reassuring that he made this comment publicly in a room full of senior public library service managers. It would be interesting to know how many people in that seminar were nodding in agreement with Mr Davey. How many of those senior managers were nodding whilst the public library services they are leading are proposing to introduce volunteer run libraries as a replacement for skilled and knowledgeable staff?”

“The Society of Chief Librarians are in the ideal position to stand up as a single organisation against the deprofessionalisation and downgrading of the UK’s public library service through reliance on a voluntary workforce. At the same seminar Ed Vaizey stated that he will be maintaining close communications with the S.C.L. They have the opportunity to make use of the power they have as public library service leaders and champions and can set the agenda, rather than having it set for them.”

  • Daunt: Library e-lending “disruptive” to High Street – BookSeller.  Waterstones chief says successful library ebook lending would destroy commercial ebooks.
  • DCMS consults over transfer of PLR to British Library – BookSeller. “”The Registrar has successfully kept operating costs below the cap set by Ministers in the first year of the Spending Review period and officials are working with the Registrar to reduce administrative spend in order to minimise further reductions in the rate per loan paid to authors. However, we believe that transferring the PLR functions into a larger body presents further opportunities for efficiencies that would otherwise not be achievable and consequently offers the most realistic means of protecting the rate per loan.”.  Society of Authors says this is not needed and a case of If It Ain’t Broke, Fix It Anyway To Tick A Box.
  • Do we still need libraries? – Financial.   Sue Charteris will speak at the University of Liverpool, saying main aim is to promote service to non-users.  “This will be achieved through a combination of forward-thinking new partnerships with community members and organisations providing services to those communities.”.  Should also include “IT facilitates open 24/7 and a quality information and innovation hub that provides expert advice on books, as well as information on starting your own business, health and wellbeing, and what services are available locally.  It should also be a welcoming and beautiful space to learn, read, create, and engage.”.  See comments.
  • How can we ensure the future of libraries? – New Marketing Trends.   (1) Put staff who love helping the public facing the public. “Stereotypical, old-fashioned-looking, ladies, I-hate-this-job part-timers, and ill-trained student workers should not be “the face of the library” to everyone who enters.” (2) Effective promotion (3) Ensure librarianship courses are relevant to the reality of libraries (4) “engage the community, become trusted, find out what they need, and deliver it” (5) “Stop being reactive and start being proactive. Look toward the future, get good data, plan for it, get ahead of the curve”
  • If people don’t know what you’re doing, they don’t know what you’re doing wrong – Question Everything.  DCMS are apparently deliberately delaying answers to freedom of information requests and are seeking any possible way not to reply.  “The exemption they have used to delay further is section 36 of the act which is “Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs.” which did make me laugh because Ed Lazy hasn’t conducted any public affairs in regards to libraries, his head has been firmly in the sand since he took office.”  Other bodies that could hope Government to account (SCL, CILIP and LGA are quoted) are failing in their task.
  • Introducing the library marketing toolkit website – Wikiman.  “The site is essentially designed to give you lots of practical advice on how to market your library – be that public, academic, special or archive. There are tools and resources, lots of useful links, new case studies which will be added to on an ongoing basis, and there’s info about the Library Marketing Toolkit book and its contributors.”

“SIR – Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, claims far fewer libraries have closed as a result of his reminders to local authorities about their statutory duties (Letters, April 30). Given that the minister has not offered any guidance on what these duties are, it is doubtful his correspondence will have swayed many councils. Credit for the libraries that have been saved goes to the many local campaign groups. Libraries are the responsibility of local authorities, but there is much that government could do to work with councils to find savings to spare frontline services, and to help them better understand and exploit the value of libraries. Ministers cannot stop all closures in a time of retrenchment, but they can do more than write letters: they can be champions for the service and try to minimise the damage. Dan Jarvis MP (Lab) Shadow Minister for Culture London SW1″ Keeping libraries open – Telegraph (letters).  

  • Looking beyond the books – Rachel Poulton.  Some beautiful pictures of library users.  “Libraries are changing, as one of the few remaining municipal buildings available for the public to visit for free I want to show how libraries are being used. Looking Beyond the Books is an ongoing photography project documenting the activities libraries are providing for  local communities beyond lending out books. The project is a celebration of this vital resource at a time of dramatic cuts and closures across the country.”
Madrid librarians protesting against privatisation and cuts

Dear colleagues, I am writing to you in the name of some librarians from Madrid. We work in the Madrid City Libraries System, which includes 28 public libraries, one newspaper library (The most important Spanish language newspaper library in the world), one music library, one history library (founded in the Nineteenth Century) and the City Archives. We are threatened by the shadow of privatization from the new mayor, Ana Botella, who is in charge of Madrid City Council. We have stopped the privatization of two new libraries but we are suffering attacks from everywhere. This is not just librarians, but the rest of the public services (museums… etc) where our salaries and our terms and conditions are being reduced. I am sending you this, just in case you can support us or we can do something for you as well, to let everybody know that this is happening in a lot of places in Europe. Every Friday we stand up in our library’s main door, wearing black and letting people know what is going on. On the 24th of May, we will walk around the main streets of Madrid wearing black and carrying banners. I send you a photo just in case you want to published. Thanks a lot, you have our support and we would love to have yours as well.”  Guadalupe Uceta, Madrid (via email)

  • Role of libraries in closing the digital divide for older people – Voices for the Library.  Libraries are well-suited to run/host computer courses; they are generally open multiple days a week, they already have computers and internet access and they have trained staff.  But with library closures and opening hours cut, there is a real and profound skills gap that might not be addressed” … “When people bemoan about the prevalence and relevance of computers in libraries, they forget that providing both computer skills and computer and internet access for library users is part of (to me) the general ethos of libraries: reading and learning for everyone. “
  • Simi council to weight letting county run library for another year – Ventura County Star.  “The city said the law makes it more difficult for cities to leave a county library system and run an independent library by contracting with a private company such as Library Systems & Services, which runs the Camarillo and Moorpark libraries. The law requires cities to show cost savings before deciding to privatize and bans any resulting loss of jobs or benefits for existing library staff. In leaving the county system over the objections of many residents, Simi officials said that while they were satisfied with the county’s management, they wanted to maintain local control of the library.”
  • Votes needed to save the Women’s Library – Preston Library Campaign.   “The most extensive collection of women’s history in the UK is under threat. Author, comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig has spoken out about the threatened Women’s Library in east London, which is facing severe cuts.Just a few thousand signatures needed – sign the petition NOW


Local news

  • Barnet – Council leader Cornelius rejects claims Tories “out of touch” – Times series.  Labour councillor had said ” “The Conservatives running Barnet council are hopelessly out of touch with local people who have made their views clear on the unpopular One Barnet programme, on parking, on private hire of parks, on Library closures, and many other issues.”
    • Council calls on volunteers to lend a hand at libraries – Times series.  “The post would involve helping staff to deliver story and rhyme sessions for under fives, IT sessions and an after school homework club for children aged eight and over. The council is also looking at how the volunteer programme can support additional children’s activities at the interim library at the Arstdepot in Tally Ho Corner, North Finchley.”

“What a dilemma! Though i would like to contribute from my vast IT expertise to the community, I know that this will be used by our toririst council to further cut down our public services. While closing libraries, children day centres, youth centres, making librarians redundant, and much more, they are asking our help to support it???” (Comment on article above)

  • Brent – Begone you pesky petitioners: Brent downgrades petitioner power –  Wembley Matters.  “…there can be little doubt that the Labour Council has been irritated by the petitions organised by the Hindu community over festival funding, library campaigners over the closure of half of Brent’s libraries and Keep Willesden Green over the Willesden Green Library Regeneration proposals. The latter was particularly controversial when Democratic Services  refused to hold a Full Council meeting on the issue.”
    • Campaigner to run 60km for Friends of Barham Park – Harrow Times.   “Paul Lorber, leader of the Liberal Democrats in Brent, will complete a 60km run over the course of four days from June 1 to commemorate Barham Park Library, which closed last year. He said he didn’t want the milestone anniversary, which would have been on May 31 and coincides with the Queen’s Jubilee, to be forgotten.”
    • Chief Exec earns more than the Prime Minister  – Preston Library Campaign.  
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Strikes to disrupt council services this weekend – Northwich Guardian.   “Nine libraries and two centres providing short breaks for disabled children will be closed. No staff will be on duty at the council’s managed parks and countryside sites The authority has made arrangements to ensure provision is not disrupted in the small number of other services affected by industrial action.”
    • Council workers walk out in Chester – ITV News.   “The unions said they’re not happy at having to work weekends and Bank Holidays for no extra pay and equivalent of a £2000 pay cut for some. Maria Moss from Unison said:”Using agency workers and others who were not familiar with clients needs, and paying non-striking staff double-pay has really rubbed salt in the wound for Unison members who are already very angry.””

Croydon – Upper Norwood Library Campaign – Some very good images and cartoons.
  • Gloucestershire – Mystery charity to run libraries if commnities fail – FoGL.  An “established charity” is “waiting in the wings” … “This discussion has happened behind closed doors as none of us know anything about this. This raises several concerns. Who is the charity? What expertise do they have? what knowledge do they have of running a library service? what is the charities agenda?”. It is an improvement on the “if they fail, they fail” atttitude of last year but still causes many worries.
    • Library package backed by county councillors – Wilts and Glos Standard.  Support for Lechlade Library, about to be passed to volunteers, described as “a very generous package”.  “The facility will be leased on a peppercorn rent and will continue to benefit from the county council’s library network and books. Additional computers are to be installed and the building will have a £20,000 revamp to improve existing damp conditions. In addition GCC has pledged a £10,000 revenue grant and a council library staff member for three hours a week.”
  • Hertfordshire – Popular talking books service to be scrapped – Times series.   [Ian’s note – Following on the previous link to this article, Hertfordshire Council have been in touch with me to point out that Chris Hayward, cabinet member for Libraries has said ““Changes in the technology for producing audio books and the increasing difficulty in obtaining suitable cassette players have prompted us to review our current library services for blind and visually impaired people in Hertfordshire. In order to ensure that they continue to enjoy access to audio books in a convenient format we have decided to transfer all existing customers to the service provided by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB). The RNIB-run service will offer a much wider choice of reading material in modern formats and will also provide the audio players. Those who are used to cassettes will be helped by specialist RNIB volunteers to use the new technology. Hertfordshire County Council will be covering the cost for existing users of subscription to the RNIB service and any savings made will be used to increase the number of people able to access the new service.”]
  • Inverclyde – New chapter for Central LibraryGreenock Telegraph.   “As part of Inverclyde Council’s ‘asset management plan'”, Greenock Central Library moving to temporary home at the Business Store before moving to its new permanent home at Wallace Place.  See this article for background.
  • Kingston Council refuses to deny Surbiton library sell-off – Guardian series.  “Deputy leader Liz Green, who spoke in favour of the move at a Kingston Council assets strategy meeting last week, played down the rumours, saying there were “no immediate plans” to sell the Ewell Road site. She did, however, fail to rule out the move, admitting the site, along with others in the borough, was “under review” and that there was a “possibility” it would be sold.”
  • Leeds – Campaign group set for control of Leeds swimming baths – Yorkshire Evening Post.  “The authority’s executive board is also being recommended to agree three libraries threatened with closure – Shadwell, Rawdon and Drighlington – can be run by the community. But Cow Close library in Farnley is proposed for closure as no community group came forward with a business plan to take it over.”
  • Middlesbrough – Central Library celebrates it’s centenary and video – Gazette Live.   “Schoolchildren, staff and members of the public took part in The Big Hug around the Carnegie library building as part of its 100th birthday celebrations. The event was an exact re-enactment of the celebrations that took place when the library opened its doors in May 1912.” Superb video and pictures.
  • Nottinghamshire – £5.3m library work to boost book loans – This is Nottingham.   “Work to revamp West Bridgford’s library could lead to book loans increasing by a third, according to the man behind the renovation. The library has been closed since November for extensive improvements and is due to reopen in spring 2013.”
  • Somerset – Burnham on Sea library to launch self-service technology this yearBurnham on   Six Somerset libraries to go self-service this year. 
  • Stoke on Trent – Don’t make libraries a footnote in history – This is Staffordshire.   “Now you may think I’m being melodramatic in comparing book burning with local library closures. But I really am concerned by the insidious nationwide cutbacks in local free libraries.”

“Rather than treating them merely as book repositories, and using their closure and cuts as soft options to save money, the council ought instead to be investing in innovations to extend hours for wider public use. Councillors have to realise that these cuts are going to jeopardise community recovery and hinder regeneration programmes affecting many already disadvantaged areas of Stoke-on-Trent.”

  • Surrey – SCC latest consultation attempt in tatters – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.   Council consultation is disappointing as it appears the Council has already made up its mind, it is therefore just a tick-box exercise. Consultation is only for five weeks, with many fo the documents being sent to the wrong address or person.  There is insufficient time between the end of the consultation period and the council meeting to produce a “coherent report” for it. “Not content with the hash it made of its first attempt at passing its CPL plans, it seems, if anything, to be doing an even worse job on its second attempt.”

“It’s all about change. Positive change at the heart of our library service means a positive career change for you. We’re undergoing a period of exciting transformation to meet our vision of a 21st Century Library service and as such, we’re seeking a motivated, innovative individual to keep our services moving forward.” Library Sectors Manager job advert – Surrey County Council.  

  • Warrington – It’s all happening for the young ones – Friends of Grappenhall Library.  Superb website from a library that is now volunteer run and open 14 hours per week and possesses 5000 books. 
  • Warwickshire – It’s a new chapter for village library – Evesham Journal.  Author Anne Fine helped relaunch Bidford Library as volunteer-run.  “The library now has about 50 volunteers and is open on Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. Volunteer co-ordinator Pat Atkins said: “I got involved because we fought hard to get the library. When I heard it was going to close I was devastated and wanted to get involved. We want it to be more than a library, hopefully it will become a community centre and be used for activities even when the library is not open.”