• Alan Gibbons: Libraries and volunteers – BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire (from 2:24:47 to 2:28:45). Six months in from volunteers taking over libraries.  Some positive comments from Harbury Library users but reduced bookstock.  Alan Gibbons comments that every library should have paid librarians, “absolute disgrace” that cuts have forced this.  We should be improving it, not “cutting it to shreds”.  Worry about how they will survive.

“The next six years will decide whether we have a public library service at all” Alan Gibbons

  • Community champions lend support to cash-strapped services – Guardian. “Despite these positive examples, there is widespread concern that community champion schemes replace paid, professional roles with volunteers who are themselves are in need of paid, professional support. The advice they give – no matter how well-meaning – cannot be as adept or fruitful as that offered by a properly-qualified frontline social or support worker.”
  • Kensal Rise campaigners seek £70k in donations – BookSeller.  “The co-chair of the campaign, Margaret Bailey, said: “Support from the local community and beyond has sustained this campaign. People cannot doubt the seriousness and commitment of this community to have a library at its heart.” She added: “We have all fought hard and long. We hope we can rely on the generosity and good will of the many people who agree about the importance of libraries to the well being of civilised communities.””
  • USA – How public libraries are a boon to small business – American Libraries. “libraries are also making important contributions to the nation’s economic recovery by assisting the job creators in small-to-medium-size businesses.” … “One study estimated that the Free Library of Philadelphia alone provided almost $4 million in direct support to local businesses in 2010—and that did not include the exponential return to the community in new revenues generated by the 8,700 businesses that FLP aided”
  • Netherlands – Libraries – You made it here, you must like books. “They are important places. Places that feed the mind. Home of readers and writers. And a public library makes no difference between rich and poor, old and young, the colour of skin, or what other differences you can think of. Anyone who needs to research something, who has a burning question, or who wants to borrow a book for the pure joy of reading, it does not matter. The library can accommodate it.”
  • Libraries and community resilience – Voices for the Library.  “This post is to highlight some of the valuable and relevant public libraries research emerging from the Departments of Library and Information Science around the UK. Daniel Grace conducted his Masters dissertation at the University of Sheffield in 2011, and his work is entitled ‘The Role of the Public Library in Promoting Community Resilience…”
  • Limited and sterile book-reading future – Guardian (letters).  “An ebook (like a musical download) is licensed to the consumer – it is not owned. It cannot be shared, or even passed on to your children. It is bought, read and, probably, forgotten; it leaves no physical presence in your room to remind you of the hours or days you spent with it.”
  • Lobby for School Libraries – Alan Gibbons.  “A mass lobby for school libraries is due to take place at the House of Commons on Monday, 29th October. The lobby is taking place with the support of CILIP, the School Library Association, the Society of Authors, MicroLibrarian Systems and NATE, amongst others.”  With further information.
  • Message from Nicky Morgan, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England – Envisioning the Library of the future. “A big thank you to everyone who has contributed to this online conversation for our research programme Envisioning the library of the future. We have now closed comments on the site, but the conversation can continue on Twitter using #ACElibraries.” Third phase of research (with the public) now started.
  • USA – Oakland police shut down “people’s library” installed in vacant building – Mercury News.  “Members of the makeshift library project, which drew many veteran activists including some who had been part of Occupy Oakland, had been in the building since about 7 a.m. Monday. The activists said the vacant building in the San Antonio neighborhood had been left unlocked. After word spread on Facebook, about a dozen volunteers arrived and set to work, stocking it with donated books and clearing out grime, old mattresses, graffiti and other markings of abandonment. They put up a bilingual banner proclaiming the “Victor Martinez People’s Library,” named for the late Latino author. When officers arrived at the scene Monday night, they ordered the occupants to leave, and they did so, taking their books and other property with them, Watson said. The activists were cooperative and peaceful, she added, and there were no injuries or arrests.”
  • “Services shared: costs spared?”Local Government Association, August 2012.  Analysis of financial and non-financial benefits of sharing services between councils/agencies.  Appears that same or better service provided at lower cost.
  • Steaming to success with Volunteers:  ILIG course on best practice with volunteers – “The use of volunteers is a controversial topic – the government’s Big Society is pushing for volunteers on the one hand, while on the other many librarians are worried about the consequences, with CILIP recently publishing new guidelines on the whole issue.  This ILIG course is designed to explore the positive aspects of using volunteers by exploring the success story of the Severn Valley railway where Volunteer societies took over closed railways and renewed them to the extent that nearly 50 people are now back in paid employment. An experienced line-up of speakers will explore the many aspects of employing volunteers in a range of diverse settings, including libraries.”
  • Australia – Value of libraries symposium – ALIA.  Several linked videos from Australian conference on the value of libraries.


Local news

  • Cheshire East – New plan to help libraries survive – This is Staffordshire.  “Libraries will be used as hubs for community events to help safeguard their future. They are also set to offer free wireless internet and electronic downloads as part of a bid to provide value for money.”

Plans to safeguard the libraries, which receive 1.8 million visitors and issue three million books a year, include promoting them as ‘community anchors’ for hosting events and meetings. Free wireless internet access and e-book downloads will also be considered, while schools will be urged to make more class visits and computer sessions will be provided for residents to improve IT skills.

  • Devon – Excitement as Appledore Library reopens to the public – This North Devon.  Branch was threatened with closure 6 years ago.  Campaigners, including Nick Arnold, author of the “Horrible Science” series, stepped in to save it.  “Funding for the £50,000 refurbishment was partly supplied by Devon County Council, but largely by the community, including £25,000 raised by former soldier Walter Fowler, by selling second-hand books from a makeshift shop in Mr Arnold’s garage.”  Library is now reopened and still with paid staff.

“There were times when there wasn’t a library. There wasn’t even a building. There was just piles of earth on the floor and a ladder. Now we have a wonderful, modern, welcoming, sunny library, which everyone loves.” Mr Arnold does not blame Devon County Council for its initial proposal to close a library which was in a poor state of repair. But he urged the Government to find funding to support community libraries into the future, saying they represent “life chances” for young people.

  • North East Lincolnshire – Library closed for a new chapter – This is Grimsby.  “the library is to undergo an upgrade of key systems, such as heating and lighting, as part of North East Lincolnshire Council’s £9 million overhaul of leisure services”
  • Manchester – Ultra-modern north Manchester library sees visitors double following move and revamp – Mancunian Matters.  “The Avenue Library in Higher Blackley opened its doors in May and can now boast a 97% increase in visitors at 14,434, compared to 7,341 over the same period last year.” … “the modern building combined with the move to a more central location with improved transport links for residents of Higher Blackley and Charlestown have contributed to this massive increase.”
  • Nottinghamshire – £5.3m hub to foster real family spirit – This is Nottingham.  “The site will feature a young people’s centre with a meeting place, recording studio, performance area and dance area, offices for the registration service, a gallery, two community rooms, two floors of books, free use of computers and Wi-Fi. Carol Newman, team manager for library service development at the council, said the aim was for the building to be a “hub” for families.”
  • North Somerset – Village library to close and be replaced by mobile service – This is Somerset.  “The council held a review of its library services in 2009, and says visitors to Banwell Library have dropped by 58 per cent in the past three years. After its closure, the village will be visited by a mobile library every Thursday afternoon.”
  • Sheffield – Libraries under threat as consultation launched – BookSeller.  “An eight-week consultation has been launched which will put all of the authority’s 28 libraries under scrutiny, alongside mobile library services, home services, and its archives. Councillors say they cannot rule out closures following the results of the survey, which hopes to canvas the views of as many of the library service’s 180,000 registered users as possible.”
  • Libraries could close in latest council cutbacks – Star.
  • City’s Lib Dems slam library reviews – Postcode Review.  “Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats, said there were plenty of other things which the council could cut first before turning on libraries. He said: “We have seen these consultations held by Labour in the past, which have little effect on the final outcome. “Given that council officers have confirmed to me that closures haven’t been ruled out as part of this process, I fear that this is the first step on a road that will lead to libraries shutting their doors. “The massive financial deficit left by the last Government means that there are difficult choices to be made in order to reduce public spending. “However, when the Lib Dems controlled Sheffield Council, closures were avoided.”
  • Library users must have say – Star (Editorial).  Says that a reading of the consultation suggests cuts will “be library opening hours, closure of some facilities with replacement by a mobile service, restrictions on services and materials they offer and, perhaps the most controversial of all, the withdrawal of the council running libraries in favour of volunteer-led enterprises.”

“Any decisions that adversely affect popular libraries will meet with oppostion. So what is important is that the council is transparent with its consultation, that the feedback they receive is listened to and changes are made that still protect a service that meets the needs of our communities. Importantly, that also means that even if libraries are underused, they may still provide a vital service to people who do not have the same access to materials and books that the more affluent areas may have, and should be protected and if necessary subsidised.”

  • Surrey – Call-in tomorrow: and another dissenting letter from a CPL – Surrey Libraries Action Movement.  “The call-in of the cabinet’s decision to proceed with volunteer-run libraries is tomorrow (16th August 2012) between 10am and 1pm in the Aschcombe Room, County Hall in the London Borough of Kingston upon Thames. All are welcome to attend.” Friends group complains that “volunteers came forward because they were led to believe running their own library was the only way to save enough money to keep it open. Now SCC has admitted the policy will save no money they are demanding their paid staff and library management system back.”

“Councillor David Hodge can be seen on a video clip after the meeting, on the Slam website where he suggests that instead of calling them libraries, we call them ‘Community Centres’!”

  • Libraries in Surrey struggling to provide e-books – This is Surrey.  “More than half the libraries in the country now offer an e-book service, but many, including Redhill, are unable to offer the books their customers want. Publishers have been unwilling to provide their latest titles because they fear they could be digitally copied once downloaded and distributed to the public.”