The DCMS have released their latest figures on library usage which have pleased Ed Vaizey.  A bar chart of visits to libraries below suggests a somewhat less wonderful picture.  The speech by Tim Coates to the Frankfurt Book Fair has some very good things to say about how publishers and libraries should work together to mutually boost eachother.  Meanwhile, Ed has said in a written answer that several groups have already submitted their thoughts to the review panel on e-lending.

On a more local level, Brent Council has come under fire for allowing what locals at first thought were squatters using the closed Tokyngton Library.  They turned out to be security guards who appear to take a somewhat relaxed approach to taxing their cars. In the same borough, Councillor Powney, who has explained the council’s strategy in a special Public Libraries News blog post, has suggested that the disappointing trend in library visits in his authority was perhaps down to protesters putting people off rather than, say, the closure of six libraries.

The ambitious Cornwall outsourcing project has been dealt a grave blow by (a) the resignation of the deputy leader over the issue (b) the sacking of the pro-outsourcing leader of the council on the issue and now (c) the withdrawal of one of the two bidders for the contract. Finally, news has come in from Jim Brooks of the volunteer-run Little Chalfont Community Library that Surrey Council have refused his free offer of help.  He has now offered his expertise directly to the ten branches that will soon be volunteer run.  A summary to the experience of Little Chalfont Community Library can be found at this link.


  • ACE in a hole – Question Everything.  Arts Council England did not contact local public library authorities for help in encouraging people to complete the questionnaire on public library use.  Blog points out that this would have cost £100 in stationery and postage to do or free by email.

“Could not the SCL and CILIP have helped? I well remember the Book Marketing Council being helped by the old Library Association in briefing all libraries about the Best of British…series of promotions to promote outstanding literary fiction. About 2,000 libraries took part in the first Best of Young British Novelists campaign in 1983 and that was before email! There is no reason why all library authorities and the heads of service were not asked to help to bring the survey to the attention of library users, and to help those without internet access to participate in thesurvey.” (Desmond Clarke via email).

Public library library visits 2005/12: figures taken from DCMS Survey “Taking Part”

  • Electronic publishing: public libraries – They Work For You. Dan Jarvis MP asks Ed Vaizey what representations have so far been made to the e-lending review.  Response is “the Society of Authors, the Booksellers Association, the Royal National Institute of Blind People National Library Service, Askews and Holts Library Services Ltd, individual librarians and authors.”

“For those who have been predicting the demise of culture and libraries during some very tough times, these figures should provide some very real reassurance. During that 12 month period 75 per cent of the population visited a heritage site (the highest proportion since the survey began, and a clear four per cent up on the previous year); visits to museums and galleries had also significantly increased; and a whopping 79 per cent of adults had ‘engaged in the arts’ compared to 76 per cent the year before. In terms of digital engagement, we also learn that 16 per cent of adults had visited a library website (a ‘significant increase’ on the number seven years ago), with ‘significant’ increases – and this is a technical term used by the stats community, apparently – also recorded for visits to heritage, museum and gallery websites.” Ed Vaizey – Taking Part: A lot to pleased about – DCMS.

  • LA public libraries relaunch evening, morning hours – Blog Down Town (USA).  ““Libraries are vital neighborhood resources. It pained me greatly to make the decision to reduce library hours in 2010,” said Mayor Villaraigosa in a statement. “Restoration [of hours] gets the City back on track and one step closer to fully restoring our City’s library hours.” … ““Having libraries open during the evening is especially beneficial to children and students because we provide a safe, adult-supervised place with after-school programs, homework help, college prep workshops and free computer access—in short—all the resources children need to succeed in school and in life,” said City Librarian John F. Szabo in a statement.”
  • PM asks wealthy people to set up public libraries – Daily Star (Bangladesh). “Hasina said a section of people in the country nowadays earn quite a lot of money. “It won’t be fair to spend all your money in travels abroad… spare some money for establishing public libraries in your villages, upazillas and districts.” … “The prime minister mentioned that realising the importance of establishing well-stocked library in every educational institution, her government included the issue in the newly adopted modern and time-befitting National Education Policy. Stressing the need for modernisation of information preservation and management system, she said the librarians could play an important role in building a `digital Bangladesh’.”

“A public consultation was held between 8 May and 30 July 2012 on the proposal to transfer the Public Lending Right (PLR) functions to another public body. The Government’s view is that transferring the PLR functions into a larger body presents further opportunities for efficiencies than would otherwise be achievable, and consequently offers the most realistic means of protecting the amount paid to authors. The consultation document outlined a number of options, including the Government’s preferred option of a transfer of the PLR functions to the British Library.  A summary of the responses to the PLR consultation has been published on the DCMS website, and is available to view here.  The Government’s response to the consultation will be published in due course, alongside a full impact assessment. All respondents to the consultation will be notified when the Government’s response is published.” Public Lending Right – DCMS (via email)”.

  • Summer Reading Challenge: Sutton-on-Trent crowned Newark champions  – Helen Pielichaty’s diary of a children’s writer. “A few yonks ago I came up with a splendid idea. I’m always having splendid ideas; it can be a bit of a pain, to be honest. Anyway, you know how I’m always banging on about how I wouldn’t be a writer if it hadn’t been for my local library  turning me into a reader first?  Well, I wanted to support local schools and libraries to do that for today’s children.  I enlisted the help of fellow published writers Michael Cox and Elizabeth Baguley and we offered to donate copies of our books to whichever Newark  primary school  had the highest percentage of participation in the Summer Reading Challenge.  Yesterday we went along to present those books to the winning school, Sutton-on-Trent Primary .”

“The whole point of the ebook technology is that the world distribution and replication costs are nil. Moreover the evidence is already to be seen that the ebooks that are most being used are precisely those that are most often issued from libraries – it is the simple fiction, the crime novels, the romance that are the daily diet of library patrons that are the books that are most used in ebook form. If we deny libraries access to these, we will make them redundant very fast… We will actually close the libraries down by removing the oxygen from their lungs – but if we close the libraries by doing this – it is not hard to predict and believe that in only a few years, maybe a decade, we will have reduced the publishing market to a fraction of what it is now. We will destroy a large part of reading and with it, publishing… more than half reading now takes place with books from libraries – and most publishers often don’t realise that.” Tim Coates book industry speech at Frankfurt Book Fair 10/10/12.  States that publishers and libraries are too divorced from eachother and should be seen as “one industry and not two different ones”.


Local News

  • Brent – “Squatters” guard library building ahead of sale – Harrow Observer. “The small library did not have the same level of outcry as others and it seems like the community will lose a library service for good. Campaigner Andria Greaves said: “I don’t think any one is really aware they are selling this off. It is very unfair, the bottom line is that education opens doors and a library offers access to that. Most people in Tokyngton wouldn’t be able to travel to the other side of the borough, the nearest one is Ealing Road and that is so noisy I try to stay away. I think this signals the end of the line, I am very disgusted about this.””
  • Councillor claims library campaigners are driving readers away – Harrow Observer.  “Labour councillor for Kensal Green James Powney wrote in his blog on Saturday October 13, titled Libraries Transformation Update, in response to why visit and issue figures fell after the closure of libraries: “A fourth reason that has been suggested to me, although it is not a provable statement either way, is that the huge negative publicity that the litigants generated in itself damaged library usage. Partly this would be through deterring the public, and partly by demoralising the staff. This may be true.” … “Campaigner Geraldine Cooke, who has been part of a hard-working team who have opened a volunteer library in Preston Road, said: “We are the ones opening libraries so people can have access to books, we have thousands of books which have been donated and which children devour.”
“It is pretty dodgy that the council has entrusted the security of Tokyngton library to individuals who appear to have no regard to the law and have been driving to and from the library in untaxed and uninsured vehicles. If they have a road accident while on duty the situation would be very serious. It is crazy that Labour councillors have done all they can to prevent genuine community volunteers from making use of the empty libraries at Barham Park, Cricklewood, Preston and Kensal Rise but are happy for taxpayers to pay for lawbreakers to occupy Tokyngton library.” Brent – Tokyngton Library now car park for untaxed vehicles – Brent Council Liberal Democrats (Press Release). “The vehicles have been brought onto the library site by the current occupants, who residents originally thought were squatters but are apparently ‘security’ staff invited to live in the building by the council … One vehicle has a tax disc dated 31 July 2010.”
  • Cornwall – Council privatisation plan dealt a fresh blow – This is the West Country.  “The drive to outsource services has already played a major role in the sacking of the council’s leader Alec Robertson, and the selection of the new man in charge, councillor Jim Currie.He had previously quit the cabinet over the proposals.The two companies in the running were BT and CSC, however independent councillor Neil Burden, the new deputy leader, did not specify which one has thrown in the towel.”.  One of two bidders has ceased interest due to ousting of pro-privatisation leader of council over the issue.
  • Tory privatisation plans dealt blow in Cornwall – Guardian. “The upheaval at Cornwall council, which is the county’s biggest single employer, is the latest crisis for Conservative-controlled councils seeking to sell off public services. Earlier this month the chief executive of the London borough of Barnet quit, casting into doubt the direction of his authority’s radical “easyCouncil” plan to reduce the town hall to a commissioning body. Somerset county council’s partnership with IBM, which it shares with Taunton Deane borough council and the Avon and Somerset police force, has run into trouble with £30m losses. Last year Suffolk county council halted its “virtual council” plans to outsource all its services.”.
  • Hampshire – Library use on the increase in Hampshire – Southern Daily Echo. “Trips to the library and book borrowing in Hampshire are on the increase for the first time in 14 years, figures show.The number of books borrowed at 51 county-run libraries is up by four per cent to 6.7 million in 2011-12, compared with the previous 12 months.And the number of visitors has also increased by two per cent to 6.4 million over the same period.”
“A Merseyside council is pushing a head with closure of more than half its libraries, despite retreating from plans to shut even more through fear of attracting a Wirral-style government inquiry. Sefton library chiefs opted last week to start the process of closing seven of its 13 libraries (Ainsdale, Aintree, Birkdale, Churchtown, Litherland, Orrell and one of the two Crosby libraries) with a public consultation.  The area’s mobile library service was already scrapped in June.  Three other libraries were given a reprieve after council officers warned that closing so many at once risked government scrutiny.  Nearby Wirral’s mass library closure was blocked in 2009 when the then culture secretary Andy Burnham sent in expert Sue Charteris to investigate (Eyes passim).  But there’s not much sign of similar action from new culture secretary Maria Miller.  One of her first acts in the job was writing to Brent council to reassure it there would be no need for an inquiry into the closure of six out of 12 of its libraries as she believes “the library service provided in Brent remains comprehensive and efficient.” Sefton – Private Eye | Library News
  • Sheffield – Council to bid for funds – Sheffield Star.  £6m Arts Council England funding mentioned. “Ruling Labour councillors say they will be bidding for a share of the money.Coun Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for community services, said: “We will be bidding for this funding. However, this is not to top up our funding for libraries and will not compensate for the massive cuts we are facing. It is to deliver arts and community events in libraries.”
  • Staffordshire – New survey on library services – This is Staffordshire. “Staffordshire County Council is inviting adult users across the county to take part in a national survey.The Adult Public Library Users Survey (PLUS) takes place every three years and will be conducted in 22 libraries, three mobiles and three travelling library communities.”
  • Suffolk – Library anger at restructure – EADT.  “The missive, written by Suffolk County Branch of Unison and addressed to Suffolk Libraries general manager Alison Wheeler, is highly critical of proposals to reorganise the services’ staffing structure.Union bosses voiced concern that new senior positions would be created while vacancies in front line services remain unfilled and claimed that some proposals would “decimate” parts of the library service.” 2 of 6 mobile libraries could go.  Statements from employees suggest unpleasant working environment.