The above eye-catching headline is not about libraries generally, nor the average time left for paid members of staff (although it feels like it) but the window of opportunity that public libraries have with e-books before things are settled.  An important article looks at the subject in some depth from different points of view.

In these hard-nosed times, one of the key weapons libraries have of defending their worth is to point out their economic value.  Two new resources have been produced by Carl Clayton (in his private capacity) that will be useful in this regard:

  • The economic value of public libraries – Depression costs the Uk £12bn. Bibliotherapy – as well as library’s help in job hunting etc – can greatly help those suffering from depression. “Every pound spent on library services will create a future saving in costs for the council. It is not possible to quantify this saving exactly but a comparison of the limited cost of the library service with the large costs of depression (not to mention other illnesses) indicates that this would be significant.”
  • Value of public library services – Covers “published reports that consider the value of public library services in a quantitative sense.”  Lists and summarises some very useful documents including some unfamiliar ones such as a Norwegian study showing that libraries have a cost benefit ratio of 1:4

For volunteers, a new court decision has meant that volunteers cannot claim under employment law unless they have a contract or are undergoing vocational training.  This removes an obstacle for volunteers taking over libraries in that it frees them from having to worry about employment law with their unpaid workers.  Of course, it’s also equally a detriment to those same volunteers who cannot appeal to the same rights that paid workers have, at least in this instance.


  • Area libraries brace for Christmas rush on e-books – Washington Examiner (USA).  “Untold numbers of people around Northern Virginia will awake Christmas morning and unwrap Nooks, Kindles and other kinds of e-readers and tablets and, a short time later, they will use all of those devices to stress — or even crash — computer servers in local libraries across the region.”.  Libraries will offer e-reader classes.
  • Book won’t die and neither will the library – Forgotten Geek.  “Libraries are about supplying the local community with books. That won’t change in my lifetime, unless those idiots in power get their way. Which they won’t because there are too many people who love books. eBooks won’t kill libraries. Idiots in city halls will kill libraries.”
  • Boost in library volunteers – ConservativeHome.  “Say what you like about the Big Society but if you want to see it in action take a visit to your local library.” A partisan article arguing that closures mainly happen in Labour areas and new buildings in Conservative ones.  Suggests that forcing volunteers to take over libraries or see libraries close is an encouraging sign for the Big Society, “given a nudge, more of us our doing our bit.”.


Download Library Jingle – Stratford Library (USA).

  • Fifty ways to save … Pickles cracks whip – Express.  Minister tells council to “find innovative new ways of raising money, including renting out advertising space, leasing out art works, putting “pop up” shops in empty council offices and opening coffee shops in local libraries.”
  • Unsubscribing to the library – Publishers Weekly.  “, I believe that library ebook borrowing erodes ebook sales, at least modestly, particularly of frontlist titles, net of whatever positive marketing effect libraries have in introducing new books and authors to readers. Obviously, it would be useful to verify this with solid data, but it is damnably difficult to construct a reliable instrument with control cases.” … “For libraries, the emergence of e-book subscriptions may not be good news. A thriving subscription market might enervate the viability of libraries in ebook lending.”.  Looks at the different models and possibilities for (and against) e-lending.
  • You have two, maybe three, years – Publishers Weekly.  After small IFLA meeting on e-lending “none of us was left feeling that libraries were firmly seizing control of their future”.  Canada agreed e-lending rules meaning each e-book deletes itself after 40 loans. Successful e-lending deal in Denmark (where libraries paid $3 per loan and received 600,000 loans in one year) simply led to the publishers pulling out.  Effectively having only one single e-lending provider (Overdrive) stifles competition and improvement.  Suggestion that “libraries don’t detract from sales, but actually fill a market need where the price is zero. Filling that role makes libraries “the first, best defense against piracy.””.  Amazon/Apple/Google are the real enemy.

“the general consensus among participants was that public libraries have two, maybe three years to establish their relevance in the digital realm, or risk fading from the central place they have long occupied in the world’s literary culture.”


Local News

  • Angus – Council to seek legal opinion on transfer of of Arbroath library – Courier. “Top level independent legal opinion is now to be sought after councillors rejected an official recommendation to bring the curtain down on a controversial and lengthy tussle over the library’s place on the Angus balance sheet by transferring the historic building out of the common good and into the general fund.”
  • Brent – Council spends £250k maintaining empty buildings – Harrow Observer.  Spent on rent and maintenance. Lib Dems says money should have been spent on supporting volunteers keen to run libraries in the buildings.
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Council iConnect kiosk now available at Neston Library – About My Area.  New machine “enables residents to see a customer services advisor on screen and speak to them via a telephone handset about the Council service they require. Guided by the advisor, members of the public will be able to make enquiries, fill out forms and even exchange documents for council services ranging from benefits, registration services and bin collections to highways issues, parking and environmental health – simply by using the touch screen.”
  • Dudley – Fifty shades of grey over the future of Halesowen library – Halesowen News. “There is a £272,000 deficit in the budget for libraries and no-one is saying how this will be made up and I’ve asked for guarantees that Halesowen Library will not be closed and have had no denials.”
  • Hertfordshire – New chapter for library about to begin – Times series. £1.1m new library at Campus West. “The library will reopen its doors to the public on Monday after a major programme of improvements including extra public space, better computer, study and wi-fi facilities and increased opening hours (9am to 7pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Saturday, 1pm to 5pm Sunday).”
  • Leicestershire – Six opinions for the future of the library service – Loughborough Echo. “Leicestershire’s libraries and museums service needs to find savings of £4.2m – around of 40 per cent of its budget – by 2013/14. Already around half of this has been saved.” Options include volunteers, ending storytimes/training, cutting mobiles and branch hours, co-location and transferring service to a Trust.
  • Middlesbrough – Teesside authors lend their support to campaign to save Hemlington Library – Darlington and Stockton Times.  “Teesside writers Richard Milward and Peter Brunton have put their weight behind a bid to save Hemlington Library, in Middlesbrough. The library faces closure as part of Middlesbrough Council’s plan to save £11m with a series of cuts to community services and facilities across the area.”

“Losing Hemlington Library would be tragic. It’s so important for the area, providing one of the cheapest forms of entertainment and escapism, it’s a portal to knowledge for the young, old and low on cash, and a meeting point for the community. Lose the library and you lose all of that.”

  • Newcastle – Protesters launch big to save city’s Walker Library– Chronicle. “Walker resident Lynne Hunter helped organise the protest. The 49-year-old said: “What we did find out was a lot of people don’t even know yet that it’s going to be closed down. “The building is going to be closed but nobody knows about it. “That’s something we’re annoyed about. “Quite a lot of the users of the library are elderly and children.”

“We want to save on staff costs – to do so, we’ll *transform* your libraries into book exchanges, or close them – Lump it!” Shirley Burnham translates Newcastle Council’s message to its residents.

  • 3 mile economy drive – Question Everything.  Newcastle libraries staffing already cut by 20% in last five years. Gateshead council is very close so “with two councils very close together they should not be duplicating this work, their main council offices are three miles apart. To be cutting libraries and not pooling these costs is wrong and Gateshead and Newcastle Council should not cut a single library until this duplication and inefficiency is driven out of their budgets.”
  • Renfrewshire – Bookworms left fuming over gigantic library sell-off – Paisley Daily Express.  Council “flogging thousands of books to members of the public as part of plans to transform Paisley’s reference library into a heritage centre.”.  Users protest that many of the works, expensively purchased but now on sale for as little as £1 each, are not available online. ““Special reference works celebrating geographical and topographical features of Paisley, official books documenting Queen Victoria’s reign, titles covering Concorde and Scottish books about the pipes are all being lost to the community and that is a great shame.””
  • Southampton – Librarians “gagged” from speaking out against council cuts – Southern Daily Echo.  “in a memo which we have seen, library staff have been ordered not to express their point of view in public or if approached by elected city councillors.”

“head of libraries David Baldwin warns [his staff]: “If a councillor from any party attempts to draw you into a discussion about the proposals, politely tell them that you are not able to comment. “If they are not happy at this response, refer them to me. “Please let me know if you are approached in this way whatever the outcome. “We should avoid actively encouraging people to complain as this will undermine the value of the comments the council receives if it becomes known.”

  • Wakefield – Library saved by community  Express series.  “Friends of Ackworth Library group confirmed they have been successful in their bid for a £12,500 [council] grant to save the Bell Lane service from the axe.” … “A library service at St Mary’s Community Centre in Chequerfield, Pontefract, closed last month after no-one came forward to run it.”