A survey of 120 UK public library staff called A snapshot of priorities and objectives by OCLC has shed some light on what library workers think about the future.  The key results are analysed below:

“While public library staff believe that borrowing books and other materials will remain the main reason for library use in five years, they believe that accessing online resources and using the library for meetings and social gatherings will replace leisure reading and using computers in the top three reasons for library use.”

  • Allegedly, 62% expect the top reason to use public libraries in 2017 will change. This, if it happens, will have huge implications for stock, interiors and for staffing.  Hang on, though, OCLC figures don’t really show this. The percentage is made up of 15% of people thinking usage will change significantly and 47% thinking thinking it will change “modestly”.  Those who think libraries will change “modestly” cannot by any stretch of the imagination be counted as the same changing the main reason for libraries. 35% think things won’t change much: which means a whopping 82% of respondents don’t expect the primary reasons for library usage to change much by 2017.  Statistics, statistics, statistics…
  • Primary reasons for using libraries will more likely be online resources and meetings than using computers.  The experience on the ground appears to be that use of public library computers is reducing as more and more people gain online access at home or via smartphones.  However, there needs to be more data (anyone got it?) before this can be said for certain.  And it certainly doesn’t mean that those without online access, and for whom libraries are one of their only sources of information, should be ignored.
  • Only 16% think that physical usage of the library will increase.  Which is unsurprising, considering that library workers expect use of the library for reading and for computers will decrease.  However, if one adds in the 45% who think usage will remain the same, then that’s a fairly strong majority of respondents that don’t expect usage to decline.
  • 78% think online usage will increase.  E-books are presumably the prime factor here, although Enquire (24/7 online librarian access) and other reference services (such as journals) will be included.
  • Most consider demonstrating the value of their library to funders to be their top priority.  This is the scary one.  Public librarians are terrified of the cuts and don’t want it to be their services that lose out.  While this is not exactly the same as saying that serving the public is not the top priority it shows how things are in danger of being skewed.  Forming community partnerships comes in second and literacy third.  That’s third.  I checked.
  • E-books “dominate” initiatives.  No surprise there, perhaps, although “dominate” actually means 25% of total initiatives.
  • Library workers don’t use blogs and twitter for professional awareness.  They use a lot more stuff instead: colleagues, websites, listservs, journals.
  • CILIP and Voices for the Library are the main read blogs.  [As a member of the Voices team, this is good news.  Thanks everyone].


  • An interview with Karen Keninger – American Libraries (USA).  An interview with director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, who happens to be blind herself.
  • Ed Miliband, Dan Jarvis, Brent Council and Kensal Rise Library – Good Library Blog.  “If Dan Jarvis is to persuade anyone that he is credible in his arguments – and particularly when he accuses others of failing in their responsibilities for public libraries, as he regularly does,- then he and Ed Millband, should tell the Labour Councillors of Brent that good honour and honest behaviour – to say nothing of normal practice in the use of other peoples’ property- demands that they immediately make over five thousand pounds for the renovation of the building that they dilapidated. “
  • Finnish libraries offer new adventures – This is Finland (Finland).  “Summer means outdoor activities. In the southwestern city of Turku, the city library goes outdoors, and may even come to you. The cobblestoned yard of the library hosts numerous events during the summer months. A pop-up library bike tours the city with books, art performances and advice for outdoor activities. “We want to offer knowledge, but also experiences,”  Other interesting initiatives include canine reading therapy [this is superb – Ian].  New Helsinki Library ideas include “a wide area with a cosy atmosphere and comfortable furniture. According to other visionaries the library of the future should offer “hugging days,” “ticket to joy” or “canoes to lend.””

“Initially, like many comments on this post, I thought my love of books is what drew me into working in a library, but really, what it comes down to, is passion for working with and helping people and a commitment to providing outstanding customer care” Sonya Vyas answering the question “Why did you become a librarian” on LinkedIn “This Week in Libraries” group.

  • Just bear with me while I wax lyrical about Auckland’s public libraries – Sharky Oven Gloves (New Zealand). Chef is amazed by combined Auckland interlending system.
  • Snapshot of priorities and perspectives: public libraries – OCLC.  Survey of (senior) public librarians: 78% think online will increase, only 16% expect physical use will increase. 62% expect that borrowing books will not be the top reason for library use in five years time.  Top priority – due to cuts – is now demonstrating value then partnerships then literacy then visibility.  E-books dominate new initiatives.  77% respondents read library journals. just 22% read blogs and a measly 19% use Twitter for library trends.


WiltshireNew Trowbridge LIbrary will open in September 2012.

Local News

  • Bradford – Children discover magical animals at Bradford libraries – Telegraph and Argus.  “The Animalympics ZooLab workshops feature giant African snails, newts, tarantulas, snakes and scorpions. The free hour-long workshops are suitable for five to 12-year-olds and due to the limited number of places, they must be booked through the relevant library.”
  • Brent – Willesden Green Library campaigner sends strongly worded letter to Brent Council – Brent & Kilburn Times.  “The letter outlines a series of grievances including a flawed consultation process and the council colluding with developers Galliford Try to make them look like the sole applicant. The controversial plans would have seen the former library, built in 1984, demolished and 92 flats built. The letter also highlights that the plans to demolish the original library building were in breach of four heritage protection polices.”
  • Kensal Rise pop-up library welcomes a new addition – Brent & Kilburn Times.  “The hugely popular temporary effort, which has inspired a series of similar schemes across the borough, has almost doubled in size with a children’s area. The seated area, constructed by local designer Karl Abeyasekera, will offer children’s homework workshops and story time gatherings.” There’s even a piano.

“County Coun. Mike Calvert, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “As this superb refurbishment shows, here in Lancashire, we believe that libraries are a valuable resource for the entire community and we are continuing to invest in the service wherever we can. “The results speak for themselves. When the library reopened to the public in May, there was an initial monthly increase in membership of more than 100% and figures for June showed the number of visitors had nearly doubled.” Lancashire – Brierfield’s £500,000 library makeover sees visitor numbers double – Pendle Today.

  • Rochdale – Fury as Rochdale Infirmary dumps medical books in skipManchester Evening News.”Hundreds of books have been dumped after hospital bosses axed a staff library. Shocked patients watched as workmen removed hundreds of medical books from the Rochdale Infirmary library and threw them in a skip. Pennine Acute Trust (PAT), which runs the hospital, said the decision to close the Jack Taylor Library was made following a review into their training and education service. The trust said most of the books were out-of-date and had been offered to others, but no takers could be found.”
  • Wiltshire – New library and cafe for Trowbridge – This is Wiltshire.  “A new library and cafe will open in County Hall in Trowbridge next month, as the first phase of Wiltshire Council’s £22 million refurbishment is completed.”  Registry office and cafe adjoining. 40% less energy used. “The council plans to cut its 95 existing buildings to just four main hubs, including County Hall, reducing maintenance and energy costs, and claims the project will help save more than £85 million over the next 25 years. “

The library, designed to be bright and airy, will open into the reception courtyard, which has been covered over with a bubble roof based on Cornwall’s Eden Project.