The Cabinet Office has sent out a press release about the £100,000 it is giving to York to help on its way to forming a mutual to run its library service.  Many will already know that Suffolk was the first to go down this route and it is perhaps too early to see how successful or not it will be.  There are 65 mutuals in other sectors already working and there is a map showing them for those who are curious. The people of Suffolk have learnt that being in an IPS (Industrial and Provident Society) does not necessarily protect it from closures, with some mobiles likely to close in that county, but it’s certainly now seen as one of the main future directions library governance is taking, with the others being straight closure or passing to volunteers (although of course, Suffolk IPS has a fair amount of volunteers involved in governance and fund-raising).  Whatever one thinks of trusts ( and unions tend not to think much of them), the money will be welcome to many councils who, I am sure, will be looking at this route:

“The Mutual Support Programme has £10million to provide professional business services and advice to public servants who want to form mutuals and spin-out from the public sector. Further information is available from the Mutuals Information Service:  Sixty-six public service mutuals deliver around a billion pounds worth of services in areas such as health and social care. Mutual Ventures has been contracted by the Cabinet Office to provide the business and legal services which City of York Libraries & Archives will need to set up the new mutual. Under current plans, the mutual will be formed as an industrial and provident society for community benefit where staff or community members can take a nominal share, and any surplus will be reinvested back into the service.”


  • Bibliotech: a public library without books – Libfocus. “The first digital-only public library, BiblioTech, will pilot in Bexar County this coming autumn.” [Although it is not replacing other libraries].
  • #brandlibraries – Lianza (New Zealand). A great look at the marketing strengths and weaknesses of the library brand. “We seek to shift the association of libraries from books-as-objects to a greater focus on the mission or purpose that books have always played in people’s lives.  Excellent look at the dangers of seeing libraries just as another community space.

“In order to deal with shrinking budgets the focus is often on reducing the costs of running the library – or in combining library services with other services to gain efficiencies. Thus libraries are increasingly becoming part of shared services movements. Furthermore, without a clear understanding of the mission of libraries, people start defining library services in terms of what is done, not why it is done. For example, libraries lend books to their members to use outside the library. The core mission is not lending, rather it is to ensure the information in the books can be used more effectively. Librarians are being increasingly drawn to offer services that get people through the door. As such services move further away from the core mission of libraries, the libraries then become at greater risk of appearing as a non-essential (but popular) service.”

  • New technology comes to the library – CPIT Library Blog. “Come to the library today, Monday 28th  of January and be one of the first 20 people to use our new self-issue machine and receive a free chocolate bar! ” plus short video demonstrating Bibliotheca self-service machine.
  • Getbusiness: Keep up with the demands of modern consumers – Get Reading. “Students at Reading University must be night owls. They have launched a campaign to get the library open 24 hours. Yes, you read that right – the library…! Not a bar, nor a cafeteria and not a shop. But they want the library to be at their beck and call.” … “Apart from the fact that a library can often be more conducive to study than a student room, they also contain books and reference sources which are simply not available online.” [Of course it was the University of Reading – Ian].

“The Home Office has announced that from 25th March there will be a new version of the Citizenship Test. But don’t worry! GoCitizen will be updated with the new practice question bank and study materials before the new test comes into force on the 25th March. Until that date, the existing study materials and question banks remain valid, so you can continue to use them without worry.” Go Citizen

  • Has the Great Library of Timbuktu been lost? – New Yorker (Mali). “it hurts physically each time our collective patrimony is savaged, I felt personally hurt by the early reports that one, two, or all of the famed libraries of Timbuktu had disappeared.” … ““The great majority of the manuscripts, about fifty thousand, are actually housed in the thirty-two family libraries of the ‘City of 333 Saints,’ ” he said. “Those are to this day protected.” Djian also revealed that Abdel Kader Haidara, the owner of his family’s “Mamma Haidara” library, had transported, two months ago, more than fifteen thousand of its manuscripts to the capital city in order to protect them. Djian said that the same was true of the several thousand manuscripts of the Kati Foundation in Timbuktu. “The rest,” he added with a crack in his voice, “is unknown.”
  • Libraries in the digital age: so know what yours offers? – Seattle Times (USA). American Library Association (ALA) are meeting in Seattle and discussing the future of libraries. Pew Internet research says “Patrons appreciate it, but access is low, selection is small, and 60 percent of Americans 16 or older couldn’t say whether their libraries even offered e-books for lending.”

“How much of libraries’ digital crisis is an awareness crisis?”

  • New Jersey town bans Call of Duty and other violent games from public libraries – (USA). “Library officials have been discouraging youths from playing these type of games for quite a while now, but the vote gives them something more official to act on. reports that the city’s libraries can’t actually block the games from the computer because they’re part of an electronic shared system with about 18 other libraries. However, library staff can now require anyone playing the games to stop. The only material actually blocked from the city’s library computers is child pornography. Although the computers allow visitors to access adult pornography, they are forbidden from watching sex films.”
  • New libraries are “cultural hubs”, consultant says – Charleston Gazette (USA). “because so much of the new main library is being digitized, it might need to be even smaller.” … “digitally equipped conference rooms and spaces that are adaptable are key to meeting a community’s needs.”
  • World Book Day 2013: Storytelling Superstar – World Book Day. “Are you or someone you know simply amazing at bringing your favourite children’s books to life? Then why not enter the World Book Day competition to find the UK’s Storytelling Superstar 2013 and your chance to win £250 of National Book Tokens”

Local News

  • Blackburn and Darwen – Library celebrates its first birthday – Bolton News. “The Barlow was set up 12 months ago after Edgworth lost its mobile library following council cuts. The library and cafe, which is open each Saturday, between 10am and 1pm, is well attended by the community. It has more than 500 books, which with the help of Blackburn and Darwen library services, are changed on a regular basis.”
  • Brent – Preston Library campaigners “led down” by Brent Council – Brent & Kilburn Times.  “Members of Preston Library, one of six closed down by Brent Council last year, say they met with council leader Cllr Muhammed Butt several times and claim he had agreed to ask Brent’s library service to let them run a community library allowing them access to Brent’s libraries stock.” … “However, they now say they were told by Town Hall bosses following a meeting, that there are ‘legal and budgetary’ issues and they would not be able to use any Brent Library services or run a homework club using the council’s library service.”
  • January 2013 update – Save Kensal Rise Library. There may be an old charitable trust connected with the site.  Other news inc. negotiations with developers, community right to bid, National Libraries Day, Bilbary e-books and pop up library.
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Library announces animal handling event – Winsford Guardian.  “As part of National Libraries Day, the library will also be offering five free book reservations on the day, which would normally cost £1 each, as well as ‘happy hour’ special offers on the loan of DVDs. Winsford librarian Ian Anstice said: “Libraries are a really important part of many people’s lives, and so it’s great that we have a national day to celebrate them.”
  • Gloucestershire – Attack on “inadequate” new Gloucestershire mobile library service – Cotswold Journal. “Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries say they welcome the fact that a mobile service is continuing, but claim the county council did not consult widely enough and many isolated people and communities will be left with a diminished and inadequate service.”
  • Lambeth – To take control of library prior to community trust move – News from Crystal Palace. “Lambeth’s press release was headed: “Lambeth saves Upper Norwood library” while Croydon’s was headed: “Boroughs co-operate to secure library’s future”.”.  Lambeth will be caretaker manager until independent trust takes over.
  • Manchester – Blue plaque event: save Levenshulme Baths and Library – Bin the Con Dems. Make your own blue plaque to help save the threatened library.  Existing blue plaque says “Lord Norman Foster disovered a whole world of literature and architecture here”.
  • Newcastle – Lib Dems call on council to suspend book sales in face of potential library closures – Newcastle Upon Tyne Liberal Democrats. “Ahead of National Libraries Day on February 9th, Opposition Lib Dem councillors have called upon Newcastle City Council to reconsider plans to sell off thousands of the city’s library books as an “income generating measure”, after it emerged that in addition to old and obsolete stock, brand new best-sellers are on offer priced at just 50p or £1 in sales at libraries across the city.” … “it cannot be right that the library service is flogging off popular books bought for £20 just a year or two ago for small change.”
  • North Yorkshire – Darley Community Library celebrates birthday – Press. “A community library set up to replace infrequent visits by a mobile library has given reading a boost in a village near Harrogate. In the last year of its operation, the mobile library to Darley was used by only 36 people and issued less than 900 books and other items. But the new Darley Community Library now has more than 100 members, and has issued more than 1,200 books in the first year of its operation.”
  • York – Cabinet office pays £100k to York library scheme – BookSeller.  £100k from cabinet office to help set up library mutual through its “Mutual Support Programme”. “The new service will continue to be funded by the council, but will also be able to earn its own income through running cafes and other services.”  Council sees this as way to avoid closing libraries.  Story also covered by Minster FM and York Press.

“Francis Maude, minister for the cabinet office, visited York’s Explore Centre today. He said: “Libraries are treasured local services. Running them as mutuals could raise service quality and make them financially sustainable in the long-term. People who work in libraries and local public archives are the real experts, they know what local people want and how best to deliver it. The mutual model puts power in their hands.”