Some news items on the different new ways of running public libraries grabbed my attention today.  First off, one on outsourcing. As august a body as the Committee on Standards in Public Life suggested that outsourcing public services (presumably including libraries) raised a “significant new risk” to public ethics.  This has now been added to other reasons on the “con” page for outsourcing libraries.

Then we have a couple of articles on library volunteers. Oxfordshire has finally appointed a £35,000 per year libary volunteer co-ordinator post after eight months of searching.  However, it may have come too late.  After all, an article reporting the fact makes it clear that the Friends groups already have definite ideas and the co-ordinator may end up being co-ordinated.  Lambeth Council, on the other end of the political spectrum, is equally discovering that Library Friends May Not Necessarily Be Council Friends with a lead councillor coming under attack for saying that they should be “broadly sympathetic” to the Labour Party.  Times are changing for libraries and councillors in some authority may be learning the hard way that it may not be all one way traffic.


  • 10 fictional libraries I’d love to visit – iLibrarian. Some great fictional libraries listed including from Buffy, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, HP Lovecraft and, of course, Terry Pratchett.  Ook.
  • 21st Century librarianship is not for casual librarians – 21st Century Library Blog. “Casual librarians tend to not take their profession seriously, or work with any great purpose. They tend to go along with the crowd and stay in the main stream of everything – technology, customer service, advocacy, etc. Casual librarians tend to not consider the bigger picture of the profession, but just get through the day doing their job. Casual librarians generally don’t anticipate their circumstances or situation to keep from making last minute middle of the road decisions about what are really important issues. They would rather amble along with the crowd than venture out to find their own route – they’re tentative.”
  • Ask our Chief Executive Alan Davey a question in our next live chat on 24 January – Arts Council England.  “We will be posting a link to the live chatroom just before the chat starts at 12pm on our website and on our Twitter and Facebook channels. If you already have a question in mind, you can send it now by tweeting us using the hashtag #ACElivechat, or by messaging us on Facebook. Alternatively, you can email”
  • E-books in libraries: a global question of survival IFLA.  “Over hundreds of years libraries decided what books to buy and use for public lending in accordance with their collection building policies. In the world of e-books libraries no longer have such a right. It is a significant – and in our view unacceptable – change that today the acquisition policies of libraries may be decided by publishers and not by libraries themselves. The challenge is to find solutions to this problem.  It is a question of our survival.”  Free seminar in London.
  • Is the book a crucial cultural artifact, or just an outdated container for content? – paidContent.  A debate between pro and anti book commentators brings up theories such as books (printed or e-book) are outdated and that the idea of reading 300 plus pages of “content” is, increasingly, over.  Thought-provoking, not least for making one think of Dickens and Shakespeare as merely purveyors of content.
  • Privatised public services pose “significant new risk” to public ethics – Guardian / Public service reform hub. “New ways of delivering public services, including greater private sector involvement, brings a “significant new risk” to standards and ethics in public life, according to a new review designed to improve the way public bodies behave. Sir Christopher Kelly, the outgoing chair of the committee on standards in public life, said it was “critically important” that those setting up new arrangements for public services, such as free schools, academies, new clinical commissioning groups, and elected police and crime commissioners, should address issues of standards and ethics from the start.”

Local news

  • Gateshead – Libraries also facing “stealth closures” in Gateshead – Save Newcastle Libraries. “Go into any library in Gateshead and ask the librarians, ‘can we talk about library closures and the cuts’? Watch the librarians face for signs of distress, watch their eyes become afraid. They furtively look around. What or who are they afraid of? Their employers Gateshead Council. The librarians have been told not to talk to the public about their fear of losing their job and the effect library closures will have on local communities, already decimated by school closures and loss of Community Centres, youth services and anything meaningful in their lives.”  See also petition.
  • Lambeth – Call for Labour Lambeth councillor to resign over libraries email – Brixton Blog. Councillor says only Labour supporters or sympathisers should be invited to libraries Friends meeting – “The message said those who were friends of Labour party supporters could attend the event, but should be “broadly sympathetic” to the party’s cause. She went on to say: “In the past many of the Friends groups have been run by people who are our political opponents!”.”.  Lib Dem councillor says “What this says about the co-op council is that it’s just about filling these groups with Labour cronies and yes people.””

Local Poem Prize

 Leicester – national Local Poem Prize awarded in Central Library

  • Newcastle – Letter to NewcastleA New Library World? “A healthy network of libraries is necessary to an educated and informed population because: Not everything is online, Not everyone can afford to be online or to buy their own books, Not every child is lucky enough to come from a home where books and education are important. Many research studies have shown that children who enjoy reading are better equipped to realise their learning and creative potential. Not everyone is fit enough to travel longer distances to libraries, or can afford the transport costs to do so“.  See also this from Seven Stories.
  • Newport – Save the Maindee and Stow Hill Libraries in Newport – iPetitions. “Libraries in Newport are under threat. The Council are considering closing the Maindee and Stow Hill Libraries to save a meagre £58,000. This is completely unacceptable – Newport needs these cornerstones of the community. Make the Council reconsider – make yourselves heard.”
  • Oxfordshire – Official appointed to work in librariesHenley Standard. “A co-ordinator has been appointed to help run libraries in Oxfordshire that are facing staff cuts. The county council is cutting staff funding by half at 16 libraries, including those in Sonning Common, Woodcote, Goring, Watlington and Benson. The co-ordinator will be paid £34,549 for “developing a working relationship” with communities and library friends groups in order to find volunteers to fill the shortfall in staff hours. The post was first advertised in April last year”.
  • Sheffield – Campaign launches to “save Broomhill Library”Postcode Gazette.  “But the Lib Dems, led by Broomhill Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, have launched a campaign and are collecting signatures for a petition against the closure threat.  Campaigners are taking action in Broomhill, Ranmoor, Fulwood, Nether Green, Crosspool and Crookes.” … “Broomhill Library, on Taptonville Road, was in the top three of the city’s most used in terms of books issued, with 121,341 books borrowed last year”
  • Suffolk – Glemsford library chosen as first for management group – Suffolk Free Press.  “Harriet North, chairman of Friends of Glemsford Library, said: “This was quite an accolade for our village library and community group. We have been supported throughout by the IPS and parish council to achieve our membership.””
  • Surrey – Community plans for Bramley library dragging on – Get Surrey.  “The parish council battled the Community Partnered Library (CPL) decision, but has since supported the community takeover due in April, only to wait months to hear back from the higher authority. It has written to the county more than 10 times in the past two years to ask for a lease agreement to be signed and figure out the community partnership … The lack of response has left more than 80 volunteers waiting to start their training in February, so they can take over responsibilities at the library.”
  • Wolverhampton – Number of borrowers at Wolverhampton libraries dwindling – Express & Star. Sandwell libraries visits up 5%, also up in Dudley. Cut of 8%, though, in Wolverhampton and nearly 6% in Stafforsdshire.  “Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, Dudley’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “Our libraries are growing more popular each year because of the wide range of services they offer.””