Some reality checks have come in from other people.  This is good.  It’s important to be constantly open to what is going on, as regardless of prejudice as possible.  Otherwise what’s the point of facts?  So in the grand tradition of people who did not do their homework properly, I needed to look at what I said – and the evidence – again:

Mea culpa 1: Camden.  Yesterday, I saidwhere the move to volunteers resulted in a collapse in usage.  Actually, the collapse in usage was in libraries such as Swiss Cottage and Holborn Library which are both non-volunteer libraries.  So I was talking nonsense.  I assumed that the figures were for volunteer libraries and we all know what “assuming” makes of one.  Ee-yaw indeed.  One awaits of course to see how the volunteer branches are doing.

Mea culpa 2: £200,000 for sabbatical for Arts Council England executive.  Looks like this one was down to TUPE and could not be avoided.  The original article says that “This contractual arrangement means that she will continue to be paid her six-figure salary by ACE until the end of June 2013, at which point ACE has confirmed she also becomes eligible for a redundancy pay-out which AP estimates is worth in excess of £100k. Had she been expected to resign from ACE in order to take up her new role at HHPP, she would have been ineligible for a severance package.”.  It wasn’t down to ACE, it was due to the person in question choosing to take a sabbatical – contractually owing to her – rather than simply resigning to move on to her new job.  They were a bit quiet about it but, no matter what one may think of such large sums being paid at this time of austerity, this seems not such a scandal as before.

Mea culpa 3:  The Library Campaign said the Arts Council “will not have a single staff member working full time on libraries.”.  This is a direct quote from the Library Campaign but does not reflect what is actually happening and I should have noted it at the time (damn that copy and paste function).  There are several staff (less so than there was in 2012 but still several) working full time on libraries.  I believe that the error came from the fact that there will not a senior officer working full-time on public libraries but one needs to acknowledge that there are regional officers.

Mea culpa 3 1/2: The Arts Council England report suggests that volunteer run libraries are the way forward.  I think this is more debatable.  While it is true that the ACE report does not recommend volunteer-run libraries per se over paid staff, the tone of the report, its findings and the dire financial straits most councils find themselves in suggests that this is how it will be seen.  The reaction to the report by Eric Pickles et al may show that is the case as well.  However, for what it is worth, the Arts Council England report does not, strictly, recommend volunteer branches over paid ones.  So I was incorrect.  Sort of.

The world is not made up of black and white.  It is not made up of the right way or the wrong way, of Good and of Evil.  It is made up of people finding their own way and doing what they think is right, under difficult circumstances.  Those circumstances are made worse if the they don’t have access to the facts and I try to get those right, especially as many people seem to be relying on them.  This is a responsibility and means it is embarrassing when I’m wrong … but it would be even more embarrassing for me if I did not acknowledge it, correct it, and move on.


  • Art Council executive’s paid sabbatical ensures eligibility for redundancy payout – Civil Society.  “One of Arts Council England’s most senior directors stands to pocket a redundancy payment of around £100,000 because she opted to take a six-month paid sabbatical from ACE rather than resign outright”
  • Book art and libraries – Opening the Book.  “Public Art commissions are one way that artists are invited to comment on the creative impact of libraries. Brian Goggin makes particularly eloquent installations, in particular a sculpture for Lafayette Library in the US.”
  • Caroline Kennedy in Seattle sings praise of libraries – Seattle Times (USA). “Kennedy credited her love for books to her parents, who encouraged her and her brother, the late John F. Kennedy Jr., to read widely. “I am descended from a long line of bookworms and amateur librarians,” she said.”“They are, in a sense, tabernacles of personal freedom … and freedom to dissent,” said Kennedy,”
  • Eau de library: what is the smell of your library? – Opening the Book. “Perhaps libraries could increase their allure for visitors by the judicious use of scent? Increase the range of books browsed and borrowed by the use of targeted aroma zones? Your library could be ambitious and imbue the space with the scent of the floors of the Mirror Ballroom of Versailles. Although you might raise expectations a bit too high.”
  • Future of local libraries and cultural services – Public Policy Exchange.  Symposium on Tuesday April 16th.  “This special symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for local authorities, government departments, the library sector, shared services teams and other key partners to examine the Government’s latest policy initiatives and explore how libraries can remain a vital local resource in the 21st Century – innovating and adapting to deliver a whole range of services.”
  • Locality report criticised for encouraging “rush” into community management of libraries – Third Sector. Reports on CILIP president Phil Bradley’s comments about the ACE volunteer-run branches.
  • Pole dancing @ your library – Library Journal (USA). An annoyed / humorous look at the Midlothian pole fitness classes. “here I thought American libraries led the world in tasteless library advertising.”
  • Songpa children’s library – Christchurch City Libraries Bibliofile (South Korea).  A look at a children’s library in South Korea.  “The building has an underground floor which houses quality study rooms. The ground floor has a special area where parents and younger children can access a range of children’s books. There are fun designated reading areas such as the story telling room which is shaped like an igloo. The first floor was designed for primary school kids, and the second floor has a conference room where performance, speech and teaching can be done. The roof has a garden with tables and chairs for eating or an outside read. What makes this library unique is that the maintenance of books and book repair are done by volunteers who live in the Songpa-Gu. The elderly, who are also volunteers, teach children about the history and culture of Korea.”
  • “Take your child to the library day” now a national campaign – News 8 (USA).  Five minute television interview with two librarians responsible for the campaign.
  • Time to celebrate librarians in Wales – CILIP. “The new Welsh Librarian of the Year Award recognises and celebrates the contribution of librarians and information professionals to contemporary society in Wales and beyond. Awarded to an individual librarian or information professional, this award champions the achievements, impacts and innovation of those who make a significant difference to either the communities which they serve or to the profession in Wales.”

“At a time when there are news reports of library service cuts it’s great that CILIP Cymru Wales shouts loudly in recognition of highly skilled, dedicated and innovative librarians and information professionals. Our colleagues are constantly pushing at boundaries, enabling library users access to the information that they need in formats that work for the user, tackling the digital information divide,  serving all equally, furthering knowledge and understanding, enabling greater engagement in society, adding and enabling pleasure and interest in so many peoples’ lives”. Karen Gibbins, Chair of CILIP Cymru Wales, and Principal Librarian, Swansea Public Libraries notes,


Local news

  • Croydon – Money to burn on gloss – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.  “Why would Croydon redecorate libraries immediately before they plan to hand them over to John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) and why are they being shut for such lengthy periods in order to do the redecoration in libraries that have been left neglected for so many years? JLIS will be responsible for the redecoration and upkeep in all but a few of our libraries in the future if they are awarded the contract.”
  • Still paying for library they tried desperately to ditch – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. “It is doubtful that Croydon would pay a penny more than they were contractually bound to pay.”
  • Gloucestershire – Berkeley’s community volunteer library Berkeley Books hopes for charitable support – Gazette. “Wherever you work or go to school or college, whether it be in Berkeley, Bristol, Gloucester, Stroud, Yate, Wotton or even London, please approach your employer or organisation and tell them about your community library and how the whole community is gathering round to support it and ask them to make it their charity of choice for 2013.”
  • Cuts adrift county’s most isolated communities from its mobile library service – Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries. “Today Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) announced the ‘launch’ of its new mobile library service. Whilst Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries welcome the continuation of some form of provision at least, the new service is an attempt to fob off isolated individuals and communities with a diminished and altogether inadequate mobile library service.”.  Several people known to the campaign group “received no communication about any change to the service until several weeks after the Council withdrew the service”
  • Official launch of county’s new mobile library service – Gloucestershire Council. “The new arrangement, which was introduced in December last year, works closely with partner organisations to give people in rural areas of the county a range of services, from providing books and information to accessing the internet. There are now 56 mobile stops across the county, which each receive four weekly visits. The average length of the stops has been increased to enable a wide range of people to have the opportunity to visit.”.  Internet access now available.
  • Lambeth – Saves Upper Norwood Library – Lambeth News.  “Lambeth Council will take over responsibility for the 112-year-old Upper Norwood Library in a deal with Croydon Council which will safeguard its future which had been threatened with closure.”  Croydon will transfer its share of the library to Lambeth.  Lambeth will “in turn will work with the community-led steering group Upper Norwood Joint Campaign whose aim is to create a new trust which will run the library as “a publicly-funded, professionally staffed service”.” … “Croydon Council has agreed to provide an annual contribution of £75,000, for the next two years. This is renewable under a three-year funding agreement. In contrast, Lambeth’s contribution to the Library will be £170,000 a year”
  • Westminster – From “the staff of Westminster Libraries” to the councillors of Westminster: librarians’ joint letter demands an end to “five years of cuts” – West End Extra.  Looks at letter from Westminster staff and the response by the chief of libraries.
  • Wolverhampton – 20pc of library jobs lost in cutting restructure in Wolverhampton – Express & Star.  “the plan is to lose 30 posts out of around 150 employees within the service. Many of the staff are part-time or work Saturdays.” No compulsory redundancies. “The moves will meanwhile include the closures of Spring Vale, Warstones, Ashmore Park and Collingwood libraries and the relocation of services. A decision is still to be made concerning a possible move for Bilston Library. Finchfield, East Park, Low Hill, Whitmore Reans and Penn libraries were also originally threatened but were spared after a lengthy consultation which saw thousands of signatures gathered on petitions.”
  • Worcestershire – New library plans revealed – Evesham Observer. “Pershore Town Council has now submitted plans to Wychavon District Council for the library’s planned expansion this year. The idea is to start building work in April and have it completed in either July or August. The town council bought the library in 2011 after Worcestershire County Council said it was unable to keep paying the spiralling maintenance costs of the building in Church Street.”