The main news today is the production of a report by the WI (in which I must declare an interest in as I facilitated the workshop for it) that looks into volunteer-run libraries.  The main thrust of the report is that volunteers are doing great things but risk being only a temporary stage between council-run branches and closure.  For this to be any other way, there needs to be properly supported and well-managed, both locally and nationally. So far, in too many cases, they have been inadequately supported and left to sink or swim on their own.  Of course, to do any other than this is going to be hard for councils who are only considering volunteers in the first place due to unprecedented and urgent cuts to their budgets.

WI report on volunteer-run libraries

“This research has confirmed our fears that all too often volunteers are stepping in to pick up the pieces without adequate support.  Community managed library volunteers – WI members and non-members alike – are working as hard as they possibly can to try to do the right thing by their communities and protect and preserve their local services across the UK, but all too often they’re doing this in the absence of effective support mechanisms.” Ruth Bond, NFWI

  • Women’s Institute warns against “sticking plaster” of library volunteers – Third Sector. “After a resolution was passed at its 2011 NFWI annual general meeting, the organisation launched the Love your Libraries campaign. As part of this initiative, WI members who were volunteering for or involved in setting up community-managed libraries took part in a focus group and telephone interviews. The new paper, On Permanent Loan?, draws on the experiences of 13 people from seven libraries. It concludes that only certain communities have the resources to effectively set up and run a library and suggests the proliferation of these models could in effect lead to a ‘postcode lottery’ of library services.”


  • America’s first bookless library “will look like an Apple Store” – Verge (USA). “Academic libraries have been moving toward digital systems for years now, but public libraries, which depend on public funding, have struggled to keep up with changing technologies. Several other cities have announced — and then aborted — plans to go fully digital. Still, the potential cost-savings for digital-only libraries in the long run should see more cities following suit in the future.”
  • Library workers unite and tweet – Stop the privatisation of public libraries.  It’s not just librarians, it’s “library workers” as otherwise the majority of library staff are ignored.
  • Ribbon cutting today for Downtown Pensacola Library – PNJ (USA).  Video of the new $7m library.  Very nice.



Rugby League and The Reading Agency join forces to champion reading – The Reading Agency is celebrating a major new partnership with the Rugby League World Cup in 2013, to promote and run its Six Book Challenge for less confident readers in locations used by rugby league fans.  Championing the drive to sign more readers up to the potentially life-changing benefits of enjoying reading is top rugby league player and England international Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who has become a Six Book Challenge ambassador.  On offer are specially branded materials featuring Jamie and his support for the Six Book Challenge. These equip public libraries, colleges, workplaces and prisons to take the Challenge to sports fans who might not otherwise pick up a book and enjoy it, in the run-up to the Rugby League World Cup 2013 international tournament this autumn. The materials include quotes from Jamie and book recommendations at all levels for rugby league enthusiasts.” (press release).

  • School librarians aim to set world record for National Libraries Day – School Libraries. “School librarians across the UK are planning a very special event to celebrate National Libraries Day 2013. They are hoping to set a Guinness World Record with “Parallel Univeses”, a simultaneous story writing workshop. Matt Haig, award-winning author and writer-in-residence for Booktrust will write the beginning of the story with school children across the land invited to continue the story by writing a middle and an ending. This mass story-writing will take place on Wednesday 6 February at 12.00pm for one hour. For more information and to take part please email Barbara Band at”
  • Spot of library tourism – Flight Path (Australia). Australian librarian gives candid pros and cons on three libraries in Vancouver, Los Angeles and Seattle.  Counters appear to play a big part in these libraries and one even has a “please wait here for the next available librarian” sign. Interesting that article says wifi is essential in all libraries.
  • What did librarians ever do for me? – National Libraries Day.  Nice little article on all the things that libraries can do for you, by Alan Gibbons.

Local news

  • Barnet – Friern Barnet People’s Library latest: report and photos – Indymedia UK. Loads of photographs of this most amazing of all the libraries involved in the current crisis plus a well-informed summary of the history of the protest so far and the current state of play.
  • Brent – Barham Library campaigners reach target to take over axed branch – Kilburn Times. Raised £10,000, “The five-figure sum will be used to pay the rent and utilities for the building provided their bid is accepted by Brent Council.” … Campaigner says “We are ready and willing to reopen the Library in the Barham Park using local volunteers and pay for it from our fundraising effort.” Brent Council are due to make a decision about FOBL taking over the building on February 13.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Big plan for library – Buckinghamshire Advertise. Article not yet online. Volunteer-run since 2007 Chalfont St Giles Library is planning to extend building in £100k plan.  Funding not yet secured.  Councillor quoted is very complimentary.
  • Cumbria – Ulverston Library set to open longer – North West Evening Mail. “The decision to extend Ulverston library’s opening hours on Wednesdays, which will now close at 5pm, has been warmly welcomed in the town. The library used to close at 1pm, a fact that was becoming a growing source of discontent.”.  Grange and Kendal half day closures also to have extended hours “at no extra cost”.  More flexible working hours on the part of staff.
  • Milton Keynes – Library’s youngest member – Milton Keynes Citizen. “Kaylan Edward Wright is just two-and-a-half months but already has a keen eye for a good story and picked out ‘Peppa goes to the Library’ as his first read with his new library card, which was registered over the festive period.”
  • Newcastle – Not 100%7 Stories Newsletter.  Council decision “to remove 100% of funding from many of Newcastle’s best known cultural venues and organisations, including Seven Stories – The National Centre for Children’s Books. We know the City Council must make cuts and we fully expect to carry our fair share. We also know that every £1 invested in culture attracts over £4 into the local economy. We are concerned that 100% cuts will seriously threaten the future of this great City.”

“please send the City Council an email now to ask that they reconsider their 100% cut proposal and work with the cultural partners and other important stakeholders like Arts Council England to find a way for culture to flourish here in the future.”

  • Families rally over plans to close Walker Library – Chronicle. Campaigners said ““hands off our library” at a spirited demonstration. Parents and children turned out in force to send a message to spending chiefs that they want Walker Library to remain open.
  • Oxfordshire – Rumours fly as temporary library job is advertised – Oxford Mail. Concern that “North Leigh library could close if volunteer workers aren’t found have been dismissed by County Hall. Oxfordshire County Council has advertised for a temporary librarian in the village, sparking rumours the library may be running out of time.”  Council says ““The post will be advertised as a temporary one, as when the community library initiative is implemented in North Leigh the number of hours for that post would be reduced when volunteers start to take a role in supporting their library.””
  • Worcestershire – Mobile library to make first visit to estate – Worcester Standard. “The county’s mobile library service will now visit the estate every three weeks after County Hall responded to an appeal from city and county councillor Richard Udall and demand from local residents.”