It’s great to see Chris Packham join the ranks of celebrities speaking out to defend public libraries.  It’s also good to see the ever-excellent US Geek The Library campaign’s page on debunking the myths behind US public library finance.  It would be useful to have a similar page somewhere in the UK too to challenge those who think that all council services are padded and wasteful. A recent Oxford University report which shows the altogether disastrous impact to teenage studiers of not having an online connection is also useful ammunition in the fight to highlight the continued importance of the library.

The good effects of having a far-sighted and dynamic, and perhaps well-funded, public library service is shown further down today’s post in the success of Edinburgh.  It’s also good to see a vacancy in Norwich for someone to keep up the good work there.  It’s not often one sees a job advert like that these days.

As to what public libraries should be for … well, that’s always been a contentious issue.  There are some who see libraries as simply for the provision of literature and information and others who see them as having an altogether wider remit.  The response, below, by Tim Coates to an article by Phil Bradley on 3D printers shows this difference of opinion in sharp relief.


  • 3D printing: is it for libraries? – Phil Bradley’s Weblog.  Looks at what 3D printers can do and how they can be used in the library (not necessarily public library) environment and thinks they have a place in mix of services some libraries provide. “we must invest time and yes, money as well in being THE place that people can go in order to learn, to explore, to create and make – as well as being entertained. A library should be a place where people are intellectually stimulated, both by reading fiction of all types, but by experiencing the new. So, should libraries invest in 3D printing? I can’t in all honesty see your local public library rushing out and buying a printer, nor do I think that they should. However, that doesn’t mean that every library should ignore them”

“He [Phil Bradley] says that ‘the mission of libraries is to improve assist and develop communities’ but who says so?  Why? Surely, the mission of libraries is only to make literature and information available to people who want it.

What he is saying is what a council should do or try to do, but a library could never have the skills or resources to undertake that kind of community well being. It is pretentious to set those kinds of aims for a library. The mischief that comes from those who claim these ridiculous roles for libraries may ironically end up destroying the institution they are trying to defend.” Tim Coates via email, printed with permission.

  • Debunk the myths – Geek the Library (USA). A simple guide for Americans on the reality behind public libraries funding.
  • How Fifty Shades of Grey set pulses racing in the libraries of Surrey – Telegraph. “New figures show library users in Surrey are clamouring for the book like nowhere else in the country. Surrey residents now account for one fifth of all library borrowing of EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey.Despite the fact the book was published more than 18 months ago in June 2011, Surrey’s readers have not grown tired of the novel. “They just can’t get enough,” a spokesman for the county’s libraries said.In August, Surrey libraries accounted for an estimated 20 per cent of all nationwide loans of the trilogy by James” … “Tandridge in Surrey was last year named the housewife capital of Britain, a fact which could explain the popularity of the book in the affluent county.”
  • Packham defends Southampton Library – BookSeller. “TV presenter Chris Packham has spoken out in defence of library opening hours, calling proposed cuts “draconian” and “ruinous”. The BBC wildlife expert who presents Springwatch, defended Cobbett Road Library in Southampton, which is facing a proposed cut in its opening hours from 29.5 hours a week to 14.5 hours, a cut of more that half. Packham said: “In an age when the need for good education and strong community spirit is truly needed, this insensitive, short-sighted and short-termist lunacy should be exposed for what it is – a very serious and damaging mistake.”

“This place has become a real focus for a rich community of children and adults alike. We need all our libraries to be strengthened, to be better resourced and better funded, we need them open longer hours – not fewer. These proposals betray a serious shortcoming in the reasoning and priorities of those who we have elected to act in our best interests. It is a betrayal of trust and an insult to sensibility.” Chris Packham

  • What the DPLA can mean for libraries – Digital Shift. “One of the concerns expressed about the planning initiative to create a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is that its very existence might threaten public libraries. While I credit this fear—no outcome to this initiative could be worse—the DPLA is designed to do precisely the opposite: to establish a platform and resources that will help libraries and other cultural heritage institutions, both public and private, to succeed in a digital era.” …. “The DPLA can help bring materials to people through public, academic, and special libraries. The DPLA can also free up time for librarians to spend more time directly helping people. The DPLA can provide access to code and applications that will do extraordinary things for people through libraries. And the DPLA is already providing an open source platform …”

“We have a run of Mathematische Annalen from 1869-1943 with something of a chequered past, having previously been in the Luftfahrtforschungsanstalt Hermann Goering ( braunschweig.html) library. It looks as though they were taken to the Ministry of Defence after the war and then acquired here when they were withdrawn from there … If anyone has any further information on journals like these, I’d be very grateful if they could get in touch so that we know whether we (or a specialist collection) ought to keep them.” Ex-Nazi library books – University of Bath post on LIS-LINK.


Local News

  • Barnet – Library squatters will launch two-pronged attack to prevent eviction from Friern Barnet Library – Times series.  “Squatters occupying Friern Barnet Library will appeal against their eviction while community groups launch their own bid to run the facility, it has been confirmed. Members of the Friern Barnet Community Library voted last night to press ahead with legal action to delay or prevent their eviction should negotiations with the local authority fail.”
  • Bolton – Library closure campaigners fight back over “luvvie” slur – Bolton News. “Tom Hanley, chairman of SBLC said: “SBLC is not a group of ‘luvvies’ as Eric Pickles described library campaigners recently. “We represent the widest cross-section of Bolton society, united in a recognition that libraries are lifelines for many who would be left further and further behind were they to disappear. In the present state of the economy we need more libraries, not less.”
  • Bradford – Massive decline in visitors at Bradford Central Library – Telegraph & Argus. “The true impact of the closure of Bradford Central Library has emerged 12 months after it partially shut when it was condemned as a fire risk. The library is undergoing a £900,000 revamp to make it safe after a check branded it unsafe, with the staircase possibly acting as a chimney in the event of fire. But since its partial closure with only two floors open since October, 2011, visitor numbers have dropped from 17,284 in October, 2011, to 14,893 in September, 2012, and the number of staff have halved. But from October, 2010, to October, 2012, visitor numbers dropped from 24,278 to 16,723 Library staff have been reduced from 32 full-time staff in 2010-11 with a £695,000 wage bill, to 15 full-time staff in 2011-12 with a wage bill of £438,000.”
  • Dorset – Volunteers taking up duties in new era for Puddletown library – Dorset Echo. “Monday sees the start of a new era for Dorset libraries as Puddletown becomes the first of seven communities to take over the running of their facility.” … “Retired Anglican priest Roy Bennett, who will be on duty at the library with his wife Diana today, said: “Not only have we amateur part-timers got to convince the people who come to borrow books or to seek information that we’re as on the ball as the professionals we are replacing – on top of that job we have the massive task of balancing the books.””

“I see in the latest edition of ‘Panlibus’ magazine that Edinburgh Libraries have recently ‘announced that their strategy of adopting and combining technology, space and social media has led to a significant upturn in their statistics: Visits – up 9.5% year on year. Issues – up 3.9% year on year. Virtual visits and issues up 251% year on year … how was this achieved?” Query on LIS-PUB LIBS.

“It would be impossible to put the answer to your question into an email. However, in 2012 Edinburgh won the Bookseller Library service of the Year Award and I think this sums up our success pretty well. The award was launched to recognise library services which are thriving and innovating in a difficult climate and increasing access and performance. Edinburgh was considered against a range of libraries across the UK. Judges identified our key strengths as:
* Range of services for hard to reach readers
* A cutting edge website and Library App
* Engaging social media activity
* Committed support from the local authority.
Also referenced in our success were the online library portal ‘Your Library’, 2 brand new library facilities within the city including Drumbrae Library Hub and Craigmillar, refurbished facilities in Morningside and several others, the Prison Library Service, the range of special reading projects including those for dyslexic children and services for older readers. Judges concluded that Edinburgh Libraries & Information Services are “innovative on so many fronts, full of energy, bang up to date and unafraid of the future”. Providing “a template for libraries everywhere to be inspired by.”

This is the third national libraries award won by the city’s library service in two years. In July 2010, the service was successful in winning the Libraries Change Lives Award from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals for HMP Edinburgh Library Partnership (Saughton Prison). This was followed in 2011 with the ‘Whose Town’ Project achieving the Scottish Design Awards Chairman’s Award. If you world like to know more we are hosting our annual EDGE 2013 conference 28th February – 1st March and we would be delighted to put some flesh on the bones of this short response – Liz McGettigan, Head of Libraries and Information Services, Edinburgh on LIS-PUB-LIBS

  • Glasgow – Libraries could act as food banks for the needy – Evening Times. “Glasgow SNP councillor David McDonald has called on the city’s leaders to widen the range of services offered by libraries. He said this could include the loan of electrical goods or small-scale food banks to help families who are struggling to put meals on the table. Benefit cuts, unemployment and rising living costs have led to an increase in the numbers of Scots using food banks. There is already at least one service in the Govanhill area of Glasgow, handing out emergency supplies of food, one in Renfrewshire and one in Inverclyde.”
  • Islington – John Barnes Library to be revitalised in housing development – Islington Council. “Islington Council is proposing to bring up to 30 new homes to an estate in Tufnell Park, N7, delivering much needed new social housing for social rent. As part of the development the council will rebuild a new library at the same location and improve the local environment.”
  • John Barnes library revamp in motionIslington Now. “The John Barnes Library will be torn down in January 2014 and rebuilt on the Lower Hilldrop Estate in a move that may surprise some residents, as just one month ago it was announced that the building would only be refurbished.”

“Locality Manager Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, Norwich £32,574 – £36,306 per annum (Scale K) 37 hours per week Permanent contract. Are you looking for an opportunity to lead a remarkable and highly successful library into the next chapter of its development? The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library is looking for a Locality Manager to take the lead in the development and management of one of the busiest and most innovative libraries in the UK.” Norfolk – Job advert – via LIS-PUB-LIBS.

Southend – Talking newspaper service – 2 minute video explaining their service.

  • Staffordshire – Go to your library to choose an e-book – This is Tamworth.  “The county library service now has 1,800 e-titles on offer to suit all tastes and ages, and from April to November 2012 7,853 were loaned, more than triple the number borrowed during the same period last year.County Councillor Pat Corfield said: “We are currently seeing on average just under 1,000 e-book loans every month.””
  • Use your library, urges county chief – This is Tamworth.  “County councillor Pat Corfield is reminding residents that the local library can be the ideal place to banish the boredom and find new friends and companionship in 2013.He said: “The county’s libraries offer a wide range of friendly, welcoming groups and activities to local people.”Covering interests as diverse as reading, writing, poetry, handicrafts, art, local and community history, mothers and toddlers, war-gaming and much more; there is a club or group to suit almost everyone.”

“It’s a place that quietly, unassumingly offers social networking with REAL people, encouraging local residents to grow within and as part of their community,” added Councillor Corfield.”

  • Worcestershire – Wyre Forest authors fear for library’s archive – Shuttle. “Worcestershire County Council announced a review of the material will begin this month as part of controversial plans to relocate the building’s top-floor gallery to the first floor where the collections are housed. But this has sparked fears that much of Kidderminster’s past could remain “undiscovered” and in an open letter to the county council, users say they are worried that more than a century’s worth of work could be “thrown away”.”