Amazon have announced their “Kindle Owner’s Lending Library” will be available in the UK before the end of this month.  In America, the scheme has been described as a “nail in public libraries’ coffins“. Britons will pay £49 per year to get to borrow one book at a time and will get a faster delivery of Amazon products.  This will increase their loyalty to the brand. The range includes Harry Potter and 200,000 other books.

This all sounds great. but for those in favour of public libraries, or who believe in the free flow of information and ideas, there may be a worry. Amazon have refused to allow public libraries to offer e-lending on the Kindle.  This will doubtless affect library loans and have a bearing on the e-lending review currently being undertaken.  It will also further increase Amazon’s dangerously large part of the UK book market.  It’s notable that even Waterstones – whose boss once called Amazon a “ruthless, money-making devil” – have decided that they are too powerful to resist.  Amazon will likely never reach monopoly levels – that’s probably an unattainable goal, even more so with Apple out there – but a scary influence by one private company on what is published/available is quite possible.  Some would argue it has already arrived.  Look at what the BBC Technology correspondent says:

“However benign a figure Mr Bezos [Amazon’s boss} cuts, his power over what gets written and read grows by the day. That means anyone with an interest in the future of books will have to watch his every move from now on.” Rory Cellan-Jones

There are other stories today that suggest the increasing ascendancy of the digital world.  The US Education Secretary has called for all textbooks to become digital, following on (sort of) from a South Korean initiative.  There’s also the introduction of an E-book reader that costs less than £10.  This last move represents, along with Amazon’s announcement that it is selling its e-readers at cost, a substantial move towards the free e-reader becoming a reality.


  • Bizarre-looking libraries from all over the world – Flavorwire.  They’re not kidding, some weird but wonderful libraries are picture. with my favour being the Gold Slanted Brick.
  • Education secretary calls for making textbooks obsolete, using digital instead – Washington Post (USA).  The country should “… move as fast as possible away from printed textbooks and toward digital ones. “Over the next few years, textbooks should be obsolete,” he declared. It’s not just a matter of keeping up with the times, Duncan said in remarks to the National Press Club. It’s about keeping up with other countries whose students are leaving their American counterparts in the dust. South Korea, which consistently outperforms the U.S. when it comes to educational outcomes, is moving far faster than the U.S. in adopting digital learning environments. One of the most wired countries in the world, South Korea has set a goal to go fully digital with its textbooks by 2015.”

Gangnam Style at University of Maryland Libraries – Over 128,000 views

  • Kindle Owner’s Lending Library coming to the UK, Germany and France -Amazon. Happening by end of October.  ““The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library was launched less than a year ago in the US and customers are loving it,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. “It’s also been great for independent authors, who get to reach a whole new audience and make money in a new way, and now they’ll be able to reach even more readers around the world. We’re excited to bring the lending library to the UK, Germany and France.”

“Amazon recently announced that its Kindle Owner’s Lending Library drives 229% more in sales in backlist ebook titles. The Lending Library also got a high-profile addition with the inclusion of the Harry Potter books in May of this year. In August, Amazon touted that its 180k Kindle-only books have topped 100M downloads. Moving the library outside of the US is an important move for Amazon, as one of the biggest soft spots in the Kindle ecosystem is its lack of support for content internationally. Amazon is positioning itself to be a blow-by-blow competitor for Google and Apple in the hardware market, and it needs to make sure that its content offerings are up to snuff in that department as well.” Amazon Kindle Lending Library comes to UK, Germany and France this month with 200k books, KDP bumped to $700k – The Next Web.”

Delegates will be treated to an incredibly comprehensive agenda at this year’s event, tackling the most pressing issues and challenges facing online professionals both now and in the near feature. The agenda has now been completed, and incorporates keynote speakers; Cory Doctorow (Editor of the popular weblog ‘boing boing’, contributor to The Guardian, The NY Times, Publishers Weekly, and Wired Magazine UK) and Gerd Leonhard (Futurist and CEO of The Futures Agency , Switzerland)Online Information 2012

  • Oxford’s Google Books project reaches milestone – Bodleian Libraries. “he Oxford-Google Digitization project – established in 2004 – has reached an exciting stage in its development with the Bodleian Libraries books digitized by Google now fully available to the academic community and the general public for the first time. Much of the material that the Bodleian collaboratively digitized with Google has only been available in “snippet” or “metadata-only” view to users of Google Books outside the US.  By making the Bodleian copy of the digitized books available online, the material becomes fully available to all users in PDF format. “

“What’s happening to education – to the libraries, indeed, and I should know what they’re worth! – it’s all so depressing, isn’t it? But it’s been a full-on year for me, with all this to come, and there’ve been times when I’ve felt it.”” Paul Lewis: “Schubert writes something that comes from another planet” – Guardian.

“Local, national and international – how RFID is changing –With an international line up of speakers who will examine the changes that have taken place in RFID since 2011 and focus closely at the issues surrounding migration to the new data standard. The conference will share the experiences and rationale of some of those who have already made the move. Can you afford to miss it?Make sure you book your place today. –

Local News

  • Barnet – Oh dear, Barnet Council has chosen spin over truth re Friern Barnet Library – Barnet Eye. Council has advised schools not to attend events at squatted library.  “The council is advising teaching staff that such events are not sanctioned by the council and that it cannot accept any liability for anything that happens in the building while the illegal occupation is taking place.  The council is not aware of any insurance in place for any of the activities or that volunteers have been CRB checked.” Points out that there’d be no problem if it was still open.
  • Bolton – Funding problems force closure of literacy trust -Bolton News. “Bolton Literacy Trust, which was based in Great Lever, was set up with the aim of making people in Bolton a more literate. It was hoped that the trust would create new opportunities for people, who would then be able to help their children develop a love of reading and improve their schoolwork. But because of the recession, bosses say that funding for projects is becoming harder to obtain and the long-term future of the trust was fraught with uncertainty.”

“Although we hold up a model of excellence not only to the county but to the country, our stance is and always has been that the council should run libraries. We’re only volunteer-run because we had no choice. It was either have no library or be volunteer-run.  A professional library, after all, has qualified librarians, and that’s not any old person. They have a depth of knowledge they are able to offer” Jim Brooks, Little Chalfont Library in Buckinghamshire Advertiser (quoted in scanned article received by email)

  • Cheshire West and Chester – Hoole library is to close at the end of October – Chester Chronicle. “Hoole Library is closing at the end of the month but could leave the community without the facility for up to six months. Cheshire West and Chester Council this week told staff the ageing premises in Hoole Road would close on October 30 – with staff redeployed to neighbouring libraries. Hoole Community Centre has agreed to accommodate a self-service library staffed by volunteers, with an agreement over the council fee yet to be finalised.”
  • Croydon – Holland’s contempt for public is Croydon’s “pleb” moment – Inside Croydon.  Dismay at how meeting on the future of Upper Norwood Joint Library was conducted.  “Friday’s meeting was nothing more than a grim pantomime, with the leading players all acting to a badly written script, as predictable as EastEnders, with the unhappy outcome pre-determined by the Tory majority on the scrutiny committee. Nothing said in the meeting would have changed the way that they were determined for it to conclude. To compound all this, though, was the dismissive attitudes towards the public demonstrated by the scrutiny committee chairman, Steve Hollands.”
  • Croydon may not meet redundancy costs – News from Crystal Palace.  Suggestion that any redundancy costs would need to be met either by the Upper Norwood Joint Library trust or out of the (severely reduced) funding from Croydon.
  • East Sussex – Celebrations as work begins on Seaford Library – Sussex Express.  “The start of work on an exciting £6m library in Seaford was celebrated this week. Lead councillor for adult social care Bill Bentley visited the site in Sutton Road on October 3 to mark the occasion. The development is the first of its kind in the county, featuring a new library, social care day services and supported living flats. It includes a new library with a café, independent living flats for residents with learning difficulties and new day care facilities in the heart of the town for local senior citizens. The complex is expected to be open for business in the first half of 2014.”
  • Gloucestershire – Story time could be in declineThis is Gloucestershire.  “According to a survey, only a third of UK parents are reading to their youngsters every day, with tiredness, technology, and not having enough time cited as reasons by those who don’t.” … “Activist Jo Anderson said: “One of the reasons FoGL got such overwhelming support across the county was because parents, teachers, authors, carers and education experts were worried about the effect cuts would have on children. “Such huge cuts to libraries are a false economy and very shortsighted.”

“”Lewisham Council operates a system of locality and mayoral funding for each ward.  Currently, this stands as £7,500 pa and £18,500 pa respectively.  Everyone believed this was for local projects, not normally funded by council money.  The Lewisham Library Service made a bid for 2 opening times boards for Manor House Library.  Cost?  £2,500!  It was turned down unanimously by those present.  The Users and Friends of Manor House Library spoke against it.  There is also a bid for£3,000 before Central Ward for Lewisham Library, children’s furniture and a storyteller. Where will it end?”” Lewisham – Patricia Richardson (via email)

  • Lincolnshire – Books on prescriptionSleaford Standard. “Books on Prescription are now available to children and young people, where teachers or other people who work with youngsters will ‘prescribe’ books they think could help. The young person takes the ‘prescription’ to the library, with their library card. Similar schemes have proved successful elsewhere. Many books are self-help titles, giving advice and information on issues like bullying and body image. Parents or carers may also be prescribed a book to help them understand how their child is feeling. If the pilot proves popular, it will be rolled out to other sites.”
  • Sefton – Both Crosby libraries under threat in cuts cull – Crosby Herald.  “The only hope for all our under-threat libraries is the final option – which would see all 13 borough libraries remain open but with dramatically reduced opening hours. Yet Sefton Council’s cabinet has been warned this would see the service reduced to the point “where it could be considered unsustainable”.”  Also reported as Anger over severe threat to of Southport library closures in bid to plug funding black hole – Southport Visiter.
  • Wandsworth – YGLCC awarded £5,000 by Lloyds Banking Group: thank you – Save York Gardens.  “We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce that we’ve won £5,000 from Lloyds Banking Group’s Community Fund. Thank you to everyone who voted – the votes really did count and now we can use that money to keep programmes for young people at the library going. We look forward to reporting back on how the money is being spent.”
  • West Sussex – Are libraries a closed book to you? – County Times.  “Just three weeks are left for people living in West Sussex to take part in a countywide survey on the county Library Service. Unusually, researchers say they want to hear equally from people who don’t use a library at all, or who haven’t set foot in one for several years. The survey is aimed at pinpointing not only what customers want, but also what kind of services might entice non-users to join or return.”
  • York – Leaders face library plans quiz – Press.  Suggested move to Libraries being run by a community benefit society questioned by Lib Dem councillor who asks “whether this idea is the only way forward and seek guarantees that staffing levels will be maintained when any changes to the service are made. He said a public consultation on the issue did not include questions on “future ownership or management changes”, and the exercise should be withdrawn and replaced by “a proper debate. Given the importance of libraries, I would be extremely anxious about any move away from public ownership, but we need to see what Labour are proposing and all the details of the alternative vision for libraries we know they are working on,” he said.