The website Community Knowledge Hub has been greatly expanded for those wishing to transfer the running of a public library to a community group. There is a detailed “planning tool” which goes through, step by detailed step, what is required for removing a branch from council control. There are also resources including useful documents (Public Libraries News gets a mention in this section) and a “building calculator” that allows one to work out the cost of running a library. In addition, there are pages on best practice ideas (although some will hardly set the world on fire such as “book sale”) and general news.

So, where has the funding come from for all of this? First off, the CKH is not entirely free, although it is much more so than before.  Beyond the new free pages, there are membership charges starting at £75. There also other fees. That building calculator for instance can only really be used if one pays £150 for one building, £250 for more than one. As importantly, of course, though it is an independent organisation, the Government is firmly behind it. This is the website that Ed Vaizey spoke so well of in June 2011 and it is notable that it has recently won a contract from Arts Council England and the Local Government Association (and several Government departments) to do national research “to explore the different ways in which communities are nowadays involved in the delivery of library services”.


  • Building a digital branch of the library – Library Marketing Toolkit.  Excellent slideshow on how a US public library presents itself online, and why it does it.
  • faceBOOK – The complete, wonderful, collection of photographs of library users by Keith Pattison.
  • Libraries, donations and freedom of expression: the case of Scientology – Journal of Librarianship and Information Science.  The need for proper stock policies when faces with Scientologists, or anyone else, wishing to donate books.
  • Society of Chief Barbarians – Question Everything.  Looks at the new Society of Chief Librarians policy on volunteering.  “This is basically a load of old tosh.  Oxfordshire country council are ignoring large parts of their own volunteering guidance (paying expenses to volunteers, not having volunteers as key holders etc.) And the volunteer requirements runs to more pages than the volunteer coordinator they are hiring at great expense to train the friends groups who in turn are responsible for training and managing the volunteers. ” … “As far as I’m concerned the SCL are still in my enemies of libraries venn diagram, they are saving their own skins by signing up to the ideological cuts to the library service. Up and down the land councils are making cuts to libraries and on the official council documents the officers are “recommending” using volunteers to replace staff so they don’t have to cut among their own ranks.”

“Most librarians and library campaigners including the professional body CILIP, the trade union Unison and organisations like the Campaign for the Book are solidly opposed to ‘substitution’, the replacement of a full time member of staff by a volunteer. This should be the stand of all who speak up for libraries and the good they do. Any step back from this position is retrograde. Volunteers are welcome if the supplement a professionally run service. They should not be used to dilute it.” Alan Gibbons on the SCL Volunteer policy.


Local News

  • Brent – Dramatic change in Kensal RiseJames Powney’s Blog.  “In a remarkable turnaround the Friends of Kensal Rise Library have now written to Brent Councilsaying that they do not wish to run a library at the All Souls College owned building in Bathurst Gardens. How odd is that, after almost two years of campaigning for a library at that very site? ” [NB. indications from Twitter suggest there may be some disagreement on this assertion – Ian.]
  • Councillor claims Kensal Rise Library campaigners have given up fight – Brent and Kilburn Times.  “However, when the Times spoke to Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, he said he was unaware of any such letter. He said: “As far as I know the Friends of Kensal Rise still plan to run a community library in the building.”
  • Croydon – Plans to privatise libraries are rejected as “lazy” – Inside Croydon.  “The opposition group on Croydon Council has threatened to torpedo the on-going privatisation of the borough’s library service by refusing to commit to continue working with any outside organisations which may win the year-long bidding process to take on the running of libraries in Croydon and Wandsworth.”
  • East Sussex – New library in Newhaven to be open by the end of 2013 – Sussex Express.  Library floor of the £1.6m development may be open by end of 2013.  “Phase two involves working with potential partners to create a community hub for Newhaven utilising the first floor of the building. The first phase of the plan is to refurbish the building to create a large, modern library on the ground floor with improved facilities.”
  • West Sussex – New self-service machines for Goring Library – West Sussex Gazette.  “Lionel Barnard, County Council Deputy Leader who oversees the Library Service, said the new self-service terminals are an easy and efficient method for loaning items and can be used by anyone. He added: “We have already seen many other libraries in the county benefiting from the self-service machines. “They cut down on long queues and make borrowing a quick and simple process.”