There’s an interesting piece today by the always impressive Ned Potter on practicing “bravery-based librarianship”.  He uses the controversial fake Book Burning campaign in Troy, Michigan as an example of a daring campaign that made a big impact.  I must admit to being less in love with the campaign than he is – it stooped to falsehood and this sits ill with the whole point of libraries.  However, it did the business, the library got its way and won the battle. We can use the example as an inspiration but perhaps not to directly emulatLibraries have always meant to me neutral expert places where one can trust the information given, be it on paper or online, where one can be comfortable regardless of the amount of notes in one’s wallet.  The UK, which faces more paywalls and the real possibility of a near-future monopoly on book-selling, needs such places as never before.  Ned is correct that we need to be brave in what we do to protect them.  However, we should never be false,  This is why Public Libraries News includes both sides of the argument and news on investments on libraries as well as cuts.  This is why the number of libraries under threat is reduced whenever a library is actually removed from being under threat despite the fact that a bigger figure would mean bigger headlines.  This is done because I believe that if one has a strong enough argument, if one has the facts, if one has enough unique selling points then that will ultimately gain more than a short-term advantage falsely gained.  Public libraries have strong enough arguments and they certainly have all the facts and unique selling points.  They just need to be braver in taking advantage of them.

We must remember what we are fighting for after all, and fight ever harder, even if those on the other side of the campaign – who see libraries purely in terms of inconvenient cost and as antique curiosities – have forgotten.


OK, I will wade in on this. Libraries are a public service. They should be publicly funded. A library without a librarian is a room. The librarian provides expertise, not just a pair of hands stacking shelves. Volunteers should supplement paid public servants. They should not replace them. It is understandable for communities to turn to volunteers when there is no other way a library can stay open, but it should not be the first, second or third option. A Surrey councillor has admitted it doesn’t save money. This government’s push for volunteers is ideologically driven. Surrey proves it. If South Korea, South Africa, Bolivia and India can invest in their libraries why can’t this, one of the richest countries in the world, do likewise? Where there is a will there is a way. Philip Hammond has just invested a billion pounds in a Trident missile system that will never be used (hopefully) and is of no use to mankind. Books, libraries and librarians will be serve us every day and change lives.“Libraries have worked for many years as cherished public services. They should remain as such.” Alan Gibbons on volunteers in libraries

  • Celebrate the success of your library’s marketing by entering the PPRG Marketing Excellence Awards – CILIP.  “Now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital that we spread the good news about what our libraries offer and the real difference they can make. Enter the PPRG Marketing Excellence Awards …”
  • Library not a business – Leader Post (Canada).  Letter complains about new business-orientated approach at Candadian library.  “Board members have forgotten they are public servants, appointed to protect and defend those core values in the best interests of the public, not the interests of business. Similarly, the library director is a public servant, not a CEO.”

“Certainly in Hampshire, where I live, the Top Neddies have made it clear that they will only regard a library as successful if the users of that library are an accurate reflection of the ‘demographic mix’ of the whole town. Hence in a town like Gosport (which contains some of the most deprived areas in the whole country), they bend over backwards to attract people who don’t read and don’t want to read: books are whittled down because they might put non-readers off; DVDs are moved to the most prominent position in the library; and there is a plethora of activities from hip-hop classes to ukulele lessons. All this might be OK if some effort was made to turn these non-readers into readers, or if the library hierarchy did not show quite such open contempt for those who DO want books and quiet spaces for study.”  Comment (one of many) on Libraries are for the people who want to use them – Good Library Blog.

  • Theresa Breslin: Is it a writer’s responsibilty – History Girls.   “I am very much hoping that this Blog contributes to the pressure upon my local Council to halt the scything cuts to East Dunbartonshire Library Services.” … “In the Spring of this year, in the guise of “modernisation” East Dunbartonshire Council admitted that they had made arrangements to alter the Lending Department which occupied the ground floor of the building. When accused of decimating the library our Chief Executive defended himself by saying that he was only reducing it by 10%. (sic) This is a man in desperate need of a dictionary.”
  • This is completely brilliant: book-burning saves a library – Library Marketing Toolkit.  “I bang on, all the time, to anyone who’ll listen (plus people who won’t) about how bravery-based librarianship is really the only way forward. Every time we make a decision purely because the alternative might upset some people (even if it pleases many others), we forfeit a chance to make progress. When an entire industry is threatened, it’s time to move past playing the percentages and onto being bold – because, being bold is often rewarded. The video below is one of THE bravest things I’ve seen a library do and I absolutely love it – not least because it was a resounding success. It uses reverse psychology, it takes on the Tea Party, it takes enormous risks – and it ends in triumph. The film is less than three minutes long, so have a watch and be inspired to be braver!”
  • Ties that bind – Civil Society.   As local authorities look to community groups to take over libraries, Paul Emery warns the transfer must be managed carefully … Handing the reigns of certain services to the community can be a good solution for some local authorities and libraries are potentially an example of things to come. This process will involve management on the part of local authorities but by working together with communities to assess all the options, and their associated risks, councils and volunteers will be more likely to ensure the service transfer process is a success.”
  • What do public access venue users use computers for? – Global Impact Study (USA).   “over 40% of all public access users use public access for employment & income activities”.  Library users noticeably higher users of computers for health and government information than other users of public access machines.

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