As would perhaps be expected, posting a request for information about successful volunteer-run libraries on a discussion page exclusively used by professional librarians turned out to be asking for trouble.  The numerous responses, a few made by the CILIP president Phil Bradley himself, make for interesting reading and give some sense of the arguments involved and the strength of the feelings held.  Have a read of them for their vehemence and also for the many good reasons against running such a vital service with the unpaid.  One the best arguments against volunteer-run libraries I have seen for a long time is on this discussion:

… if a council told us they couldn’t collect rubbish in our neighbourhood any more, and invited us to have a whip-round and organise it ourselves via the parish council, would we rush to do that? How about if we were told a local school was too expensive to staff – but we could have a couple of teachers who were due to be made redundant anyway for a few hours a week and the rest was up to volunteers? There would be an outcry. Residents would be up in arms. So, what’s different about libraries?” Lisa Hutchins

There are also a few, and the one quoted below is not alone,  which show real anger:

 “… my commiserations to the sacked professional librarians in your area. As per usual, they get a brief mention or no mention at all; in your case, you call it a ‘compromise’(!) Their contribution, years in dedicated education and employment, fulfilling the remit of a genuine library service, are forgotten and swept under the carpet. Out of your sight, and out of your mind, unless you pass the Job Centre and see them entering while on your way to opening up the Discovery Centre to play at being ‘pretend librarian’. You should not be proud of the ‘Discovery Centre’. If you have a sense of professionalism, and a conscience, you should be ashamed.” John Kirriemuir on the same discussion and also on his blog.

It is interesting that on the same day as this, the leading lights in CILIP were discussing its policy on volunteers replacing paid staff.  Its current policy stops just short of condemning the practice.  The description just released by Gary Green (Further discussions about CILIP’s volunteer policy – Information Twist) helps explain why this is not enough and also gives encouraging signs that the policy may change.  One can hope.


  • 20 essential Twitter chats for the library crowds – Online Education Database.  “Libraries are increasingly getting hip to using Twitter as a tool, with many offering the service as a point of contact with librarians. But Twitter is an excellent tool for librarian learning as well, offering lots of great opportunities for discussion. Many Twitter chats exist for the literary and library world, and we’ve discovered 20 of the absolute best for librarians to check out….”
  • Edinburgh’s cash-strapped Signet Library to be public cafe – Scotsman.  Large part of private legal library about to go the wall of all flesh … “its lower library is to be opened to the general public under plans to install a cafe to help generate income for the WS Society, Scotland’s independent association for lawyers.  Officials say dwindling demand for the library’s facilities combined with a lack of suitable places for the legal fraternity to meet and do business over a coffee has triggered the move.”
  • Pope looks for new librarian – Rome Reports.   Only Roman Catholic clerics need apply …
  • We are all leaders now – Undaimonia. A somewhat philosophical (but surprisingly funny, especially in the footnotes) article on the lack of strong personality library leaders and why, perhaps, it does not matter.

Local News

“Mr Ross said: “A local library is particularly vital for children, people without cars and as part of a vibrant community. “That’s why I want to open it officially to make more people aware this library is here for everyone to drop in.“I hope lots of you will come along at 11.45 to back me up and that you will use the library to keep it open in future.””

  • Croydon/Wandsworth – Have LSSI pulled out of the race for the Wandsworth/Croydon libraries contract?Stop the privatization of public libraries now.  Unofficial suggestion that LSSI have left the competition for the two council’s services, leaving JLIS (Laing), GLL, Essex and an in-house bid still in contention. 
  • Manchester – Duffy backs Manchester library protest – BookSeller.  Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has signed a petition calling on Manchester City Council to halt plans to pulp some 300,000 books in its £150m refurbishment of Manchester’s Central Library. “
  • North Yorkshire – Skipton Rewind Club shortlisted for national award – Craven Herald and Pioneer.  Skipton Rewind Club was launched as a ten-week course in Skipton Library in 2010 – but it proved so popular and successful that it’s still running more than 18 months later. And, now, the project has been included as one of three shortlisted entries on the 2012 Libraries Change Lives award, organised by the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals.”
  • Rotherham – Reduced opening and closures for libraries – Star.   £500k cuts announced, including the possible closure of two branches and reductions in hours in eight others, although five others will have increased hours.  Consultation.  “… every community is different and the modern library service, with all it has to offer, has to be in a position to respond to their needs. Our research has shown that not every community necessarily needs a library building and the hours during which the service is available may not be as appropriate as they once were.”.
  • Worcestershire – Kidderminster Library gallery change of use plans put on hold – Shuttle.   Due to public opposition, plans to move 139 council staff into library have temporarily been shelved.