• Alexandria burning; or, the future of libraries, and everything else – Library Journal (USA). “This article is more a plea for respecting the old forms, rather than merely trashing it in heedless favor of the new. Libraries can provide a sanctuary, a place of repose and meaning outside the silicon buzz of contemporary life. ” … “While libraries unquestionably need to stay up with current trends—providing Wi-Fi access and downloadable ebooks—they can also cater to the needs of those who are less eager to embrace the new gizmos of the moment.”. Suggests dividing libraries into loud/tech areas and quieter/traditional areas.

“In our haste to make friends and be “relevant,” the library world sometimes neglects those it leaves behind. The authors believe there needs to be a balance—even if it comes to segregation of the friendliest sort—between the new and old, and libraries are best positioned to straddle both these worlds, a place of robots and fireside rugs.”

“The building sits adjacent to 42 social housing units that are home to a community with a 10 percent illiteracy rate. According to the MVRDV website, the building was created as “both an advertisement and an invitation for reading.” And what’s more, Book Mountain was specifically designed to be a fun and useful place to visit, even for the community’s illiterate population: The Book Mountain building also houses an environmental education center, a chess club, an auditorium, and even retail shops.”

  • Rwanda: Reading culture still a challenge as first public library opens – All Africa. “This is a good facility and it is well stocked. I thank the government for this. In many countries, public libraries are non-existent. The Rwf, 3bn gigantic imposing state-of-the-art building makes almost everything in the vicinity invisible. Located in Kacyiru, just twenty minutes drive from the city centre, the new building which can seat over 300 people, is expected to change the poor reading culture in the country. The library has a book collection of over 30,000 copies on a variety of topics.”
  • Stunning idea: Digital library in Bucharest subway station – Ebook Friendly.  “The walls are being covered with large format posters, from top to bottom. Bucharest commuters who enter the station suddenly discover that they’re in an impressive library. The brightest idea comes here: you can use your smartphone to scan QR codes visible on the spines of the books – to actually start reading a book in no time. Once you grab the code, you’ll be redirected to a mobile site powered by Humanitas. It’s a Vodafone Digital Library from where you can download free samples of 49 ebooks (epub or pdf format) and 10 audiobooks. The download is available to anyone, no matter the telecom provider they have.”


Local News

  • Barnet – Landmark library: it will never happen – Mr Reasonable. “Close the Friern Barnet library that has minimal running costs (before library staff are considered) and has a capital value of £400,000 and replace it with a library costing £5.4 million and £350,000 in rental. I know you have to take into consideration the value and savings at North Finchley Library but they are never going to come close to making up for the additional costs of the new Landmark Library. Sadly the obvious conclusion is that the Landmark Library will simply not get built.”

Poster of Light of Learning protest poster

  • Brent – Sudbury walkers raise money for Friends of Barham Library – Brent & Kilburn Times. “FOBL need £25,000 to be able to put a bid to the council in order to return to their former home, which was axed by Brent Council alongside five other libraries last year. The friends have now raised £1,500 of their overall target. Currently the group run a volunteer library 3 days per week at a shop in Wembley High Road and have also previously operated out of Barham Park Primary School in Danethorpe Road.”
  • Light of Learning Torch Relay comes to Preston, 5pm – Preston Library Campaign. “A year since our libraries were closed, Brent SOS Libraries will be running it’s own Light of Learning torch relay through each site, linking each and renewing our commitment to reopening all of them.”
  • Croydon – Upper Norwood cuts will go through, finds scrutiny – East London Lines. “Scrutiny committee chair Steve Hollands declined to call a vote on the plans after heavy heckling and pleading from the public gallery, saying: “This is exactly the sort of behaviour I would expect.” But the council agreed to consider extending its two year’ funding support to community organisations willing to take management of the 112-year-old library.”
  • Cumbria – Libraries ready to embrace smartphone apps, twitter and facebook – Times & Star. “Examples of what could be in store for Cumbria include a smartphone app that allows borrowers to check-out books without having to queue and lets them reserve items online. They can also scan the barcode of a book on sale anywhere to find out instantly if the library has it.” … ““There has been a 40 per cent increase in attendance at events held by the [Edinburgh] library service since 2009-10, which is not down to luck but a direct result of how the service has been shaped.” Edinburgh has introduced night events, called Edinburgh Reads, which attract between 100 and 150 people.”
  • Flintshire – Public services under threat from major cuts – Leader.  ““We might have to consider closing sports centres, libraries, public toilets and looking at introducing parking charges. “Any non-statutory [sic – Ian] service will be looked at in depth and we are going through that process at the moment. “We need to find £11million to protect what we have got already. There are some difficult decisions to make and we can’t set a deficit budget. “The last thing we want is to put council tax up with all the savage cuts that are coming from Westminster. “Our main priority will be to protect education – children just get one chance in life.””
  • Hampshire – Library use is on the rise for first time in 14 years – This is Hampshire.  “The number of books borrowed at 51 county-run libraries is up by 4 per cent to 6.7 million in 2011-12 compared with the previous 12 months. And the number of visitors has also increased by 2 per cent to 6.4 million over the same period – showing trips to the library are not a thing of the past. Children are behind the rise in borrowing. Statistics supplied by the local authority showed the number of children’s books taken out from libraries across the county increased by 15 per cent over the last year, to 2.4 million.”

“County chiefs say there are a number of possible reasons for the increase in visits and book borrowing, including a major refurbishment programme of library buildings and development of online services. Other possible explanations include the recession as books and internet services are provided free of charge. In addition, libraries have hosted activities to appeal to all ages ranging from baby rhyme times to reading groups and from CV writing workshops to knitting groups. Culture and recreation boss Councillor Keith Chapman said the rise in borrowing and visits had been achieved “against all odds.” For the last two years, the library service has faced major cuts in its budget, resulting in job losses, less money for new books and reduced opening hours at many branches. “

  • Sefton – Council considers 10 library closures – BookSeller.  “According to local newspaper reports, Sefton Council in Merseyside will discuss the option at a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Thursday night, and decide whether the move would allow the council to continue providing the “comprehensive and efficient” library service it is legally bound to.”
  • Council to axe 7-10 out of 13 libraries to save money – Liverpool Daily Post. “Sefton bosses are debating options that would lead to a massive and hugely controversial cull of facilities. Communities across the borough today reacted with shock at the disclosure, with opposition councillors warning of “cultural vandalism”.
  • Labour move to axe three Southport libraries? – Birkdale Focus.  “Councillor Brodie Browne said: “The four libraries in Southport are some of the busiest in the borough.  To close three of them is completely unacceptable.” “The current libraries in Southport had 510,000 book issues between them last year.  The four in Bootle made just 190,000 issues.” ”So I am particularly appalled at the suggestion that Bootle will keep two libraries (Bootle and Netherton), whereas Southport is being cut down to just one.” “Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised as Sefton Council is now run by Bootle Labour.  12 out of the 14 senior positions on the Council are now taken by Bootle Labour, including all of the Cabinet members,” said Cllr Brodie Browne.”
  • Wandsworth – Tale of York Gardens Library – Words With Jam. “£70k might sound like an extraordinary amount for any  community to have to raise, but the scale of the challenge facing the Friends of York Gardens is made even more apparent if you consider that 60% of residents on the neighbouring estate are unemployed and more than 40% do not have English as their first language. Incidents of hidden homelessness and overcrowding are five times more likely in this ward than the national average. The area is associated with issues of crime and antisocial behaviour. Of course what this means is that the need for library services is greater than ever, and it is this awareness that is driving the Friends .  Access to books and IT at home are both significantly lower than average and the library is especially important to children and minority groups.”

“In spite of everything, Sherer remains upbeat. And the dedication of determination of the Friends of York Gardens Library is unquestionable.  But it is hard not to conclude that this is a community that has been forced into an impossible position.  As Sherer says, “It will remain to be seen whether the fundraising target is really achievable and how the council will respond if it is not met.””