The Guardian’s article on the state of libraries suggests that things are going to get “much worse” for the sector this year.  Looking at the last couple of years, that’s going to be a challenge, but there is some evidence to back up the claim. Newcastle, Islington and Sheffield – although to be fair, the Islington cuts are conditional and hypothetical and not this year – are used as evidence in this regard, as is the count on Public Libraries News, the WI volunteers report and information from CILIP.

In Sheffield, a large survey on library use in the city, with over six thousand responses, shows that the public most highly value “quality and choice of books” followed by “welcoming and comfortable” libraries followed by “within walking distance”.  Unfortunately, Sheffield is having to make cuts of £1.6m (a full quarter of its budget) so what a lot of the public are most likely to get is “far lower quality or almost no new books” followed by “run-on-a-shoestring” libraries that will only be “within walking distance” if they’re run by volunteers.


  • Bilbary founder Tim Coates on what libraries need – Good E-Reader. Tim Coates says, in an age of e-books libraries are in danger of being seen as “buildings which nobody uses or have nothing in them.”.  Cuts in hours mean less use.  Argues libraries should be within walking distance. “Coates explained that having access to titles, not print or digital but both, will ultimately revive the libraries. As public libraries tried to shift their operation models to meet more people’s needs and began installing computer labs, television viewing areas, audiobook listening rooms, and more, as well as spending their time and battling the issue of ebook lending, Coates explained that the money for actual borrowable books began to dwindle away.”
  • Content vs Container (the library as a whole edition) – Agnostic, Maybe (USA).  Looks at the reported move towards “bookless” schools and libraries and questions their basic assumptions.

New York Public LibraryFly-through video of proposed changes, designed by Norman Foster. “The new circulating library will incorporate the books, programs, and services now found at our heavily used but seriously deteriorating Mid-Manhattan Library across Fifth Avenue and at our innovative Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) on 34th Street. The project is expected to be completed in 2018. All three locations will remain open throughout construction.”

  • In praise of those life-saving libraries: opinion – New Jersey (USA). “There is a growing perception in some quarters that, in the internet age, libraries and books are useless dinosaurs from the dusty past. This is a terrible attitude and a lie. A community that gives up on its libraries has given up on its prosperity.”

“A community that gives up on its libraries has given up on its prosperity. It has written off all but its wealthiest citizens and made knowledge acquisition — one of the bedrocks of a free society — seem a pointless exercise.”

  • Libraries crisis set to get “much worse” this year – Guardian. Proposed cuts in Newcastle, Islington and Sheffield quoted.  Public Libraries News and CILIP estimates for cuts mentioned and Phil Bradley, president of CILIP, quoted “”I don’t think that 2013 is going to be any better than 2012 was to be honest. In fact if anything it’s going to be much worse. The postal lottery of library provision will continue to get worse, with some councils still doing their best to provide a good quality service according to their legal requirement, while other councils will continue to attempt to impose shortsighted cuts on their communities,” WI report on volunteers mentioned, as is National Libraries Day.  39 comments as of check.
  • Libraries with no bounds: how Limitless Libraries transformed Nashville Public Schools’ libraries – School Library Journal (USA). Highly successful link between public libraries and school libraries has meant much more usage by children and success all round.

“Limitless Libraries is truly groundbreaking, and it’s being modeled around the country. Any public school system and public library can replicate Limitless Libraries. As stated in the Limitless Library motto, which was penned by a Nashville eighth grader, “The future is in your hands, make it limitless.”

  • National Libraries Day: the view from the library floor – LIS New Professionals Network. “I’m part of the ‘Voices for the Library’ group. On the weekend, we launched a new project to celebrate National Libraries Day@VoicesLibrary is a place for people working in libraries to have their voice heard. We want to feature a new library worker every day throughout National Libraries Day. Do you want to get involved?”
  • Recycled Reads at the Austin Public Library – Library as Incubator project (USA). ““One of our main objectives is to help fulfill the City of Austin’s Zero Waste Initiative by keeping discarded library books out of the landfill. Part of the way that we help promote the City’s Zero Waste Initiative is to upcycle old books and media into crafts. We sell some of these crafts in the bookstore, but more importantly, we do programs both in the store and out in the community to teach people how to make these upcycled crafts. It’s a great way to get people to start thinking about reuse and upcycling, as opposed to only using an object once and then throwing it away.”
  • Rotterdam’s stepped central library sprouts a green roof and a beehive – Inhabitat (Netherlands). “The Rotterdam Central Library has lots more to offer than books. The iconic public building by Jacob Bered Bakema is part of the NAI (Netherlands Architecture Institute) and it features a modernist stepped design, expansive windows, and a huge cascade of yellow pipes. An ideal space for studying, meeting friends, reading, watching films and discovering new music, the library now boasts a new green roof complete with a beehive!
  • School libraries aim for world record on National Libraries Day – BookSeller. “Pupils from schools across the country will all contribute to an effort to hold the world¹s largest simultaneous story writing workshop on Wednesday 6th February. Author Matt Haig, Booktrust’s writer-in-residence, will write the beginning of a story, with children invited to try and finish it in an hour. More than 50 schools are currently signed up with more in the process of joining.”
  • What does a Senior Library Assistant do? – Information overload.  “With National Li Day approaching, I thought I might write a blog post talking a little about my working day and about what life is like for me in the public library service. This will involve tackling a few myths – that the job isn’t stressful, that there are few career development opportunities in this sector and that the users we deal with are unduly difficult. None of these are true, in fact I get a huge kick out of working in public libraries (as anyone who has ever met me will testify) and am not really looking to move into another sector.”


Newport – 2 libraries under threat (Maindee and Stow Hill) to save £58k per year.  Ten libraries may have reduced hours.

Local news

  • Brent – January 2013 Update – Save Kensal Rise Library. Campaigners negotiating with developer over space etc for surviving library space within the building which will be sold off for flats. All Souls College challenging decision by council to allow building to be registered as a community asset and thus be eligible for Community Right to Bid.  Also items on pop-up library, National Libraries Day and purchasing Bilbary e-books via website to raise funds for campaign.
  • Buckinghamshire – MP praises Stokenchurch villagers as they keep open their libraryBucks Free Press. “MP David Lidington praised the villagers of Stokenchurch as he officially launched the new community run library.” … “He said it works because Stokenchurch is big enough to be have people with a range of expertise and said the village has always had a strong local tradition of voluntary effort.” … “”The lesson of Stokenchurch is that when a major authority is prepared to think and work on a neighbourhood level, the benefits to the community can be enormous.””
  • Croydon – Twelve hours to try to save what’s left of Croydon’s culture – Inside Croydon.  Council is proposing radically cutting the local studies service with, apparently, very little in the way of consultation.
  • Leicestershire – Take a seat in a “strange” library room – This is Leicestershire. “Mock living rooms are being set up in libraries across Leicestershire. People can pull up a seat in the Rooms in Strange Places, which have been designed to increase awareness of re-using furniture. Organised by Leicestershire Waste Partnership, which is made up of the county, district and borough councils, the rooms will contain furniture from re-use organisations.”
  • Lewisham – Another public service filling the cuts with workfare – Boycott Workfare. “This week Boycott Workfare has been alerted to the use of workfare to fill the void in a heavily cut library service. The reported placement was for four weeks under the Mandatory Work Activity (MWA) scheme in Sydenham Community library, Lewisham, now run by “social enterprise” Eco Computer Systems, a computer recycling company. The outsourcing of the public library service, and now resulting workfare, is part of the Lewisham Council’s £88 million cuts programme that has seen nearly half their libraries outsourced.”
  • Newport – Libraries in Maindee and Stow Hill, Newport could close to save the council cash – South Wales Argus. “The authority’s cabinet member, Debbie Wilcox, says the closures are a necessity so the authority can continue to provide “an excellent service”, with the authority facing shrinking budgets and needing to make savings. She said: “I know that both venues have a long history of delivering an excellent service to residents and people will be attached to their local library, but the current economic climate has made it impossible for us to continue to deliver all of our services in the traditional way.” … “Maindee and Stow Hill libraries were selected because of the closeness to other sites, such as the central library in the city centre.”
  • Sheffield – Library review: “things have to change” as council appeals for help – Postcode Gazette.  However, the results of a 6000-strong public survey appears to be the public don’t want things to change: “more than 6,000 people completed a survey which revealed that the top rated services in libraries was ‘quality and choice of books’. The next two things which people want are are ‘welcoming and comfortable’ libraries and that they are ‘within walking distance’.  In a blow to council chiefs who are looking to diversify what libraries provide, the survey found that the two least important services and facilities rated by respondents were ‘educational events and activities’ and ‘other social events and activities’.”

“When asked ‘What do you want to protect the most?’ The top three responses were ‘the range of services and materials’, then the ‘number of local libraries’ and ‘library opening hours’.”

  • Over to you to save libraries – Star.  “In an ironic twist of David Cameron’s Big Society, the Labour-run council has issued a rallying call to charities, businesses and members of the public to help safeguard the future of the library service.” … “What isn’t clear is how organisations can help run the service. Will they be given budgets, expert support, how will they be run, the list goes on? The idea is a good one in theory, whether anything more than a simple lending service can ever come from it is debatable – which will mean the aspirations of many of those who filled in the survey will not be met.”
  • Plea for volunteers to take on Sheffield libraries – Selby Times. “But Grenville Wilkinson, of Walkley Community Forum, said: “I have doubts about whether we would be able to save our library if it was under threat, unless the council could still contribute towards running costs. “We cannot access funds of the kind needed to run such a building – you are talking tens of thousands of pounds or business sponsorship.””
  • West Sussex – Boost for online shoppers as West Sussex libraries get Amazon lockers – West Sussex Gazette.  “A number of libraries in West Sussex have been fitted with new Amazon Lockers as an alternative delivery solution for their online purchases. The lockers have been installed in Chichester, Horsham and Crawley libraries. Customers can now order online from and pick up their delivery from a locker using a six-character pick-up code, which is sent to them via secure email upon delivery, instead of having parcels delivered to homes or businesses.”
  • Worcestershire – Visitor numbers rocket for library’s Space Day event – Droitwich Spa Advertiser. “People were invited to dress up as their favourite space-themed characters for the information and entertainment event. Visitors got to enjoy a host of talks from astronomers, space authors and rocket scientists as well as taking part in a number of activities during the free attraction.”