Despite all the bad news and the inherent danger in sounding like the Government who says that libraries are “not in crisis”, it is worth looking at the more positive side of things.  It will do all a disservice just to concentrate on the bad and a portrait that just shows one side of a face is either a Picasso or unfinished.  So what’s good?  Well, I’ll concentrate on two things. I’m already noticing a lot more National Libraries Day stuff than I can remember seeing last year.  A lot of councils are getting on board and sending press releases out.  The best of the bunch so far, of course, is Midlothian whose pole-fitness sessions have – and I can’t think why – appeared to have grabbed the imagination of much of the national media.

Another positive thing is that, like a quiet counterpoint to the loud orchestral crash of libraries closing, there are some libraries opening or being refurbished.  My list (itself an amalgam of information supplied by the DCMS, SCL and many authorities/interested onlookers) has been used as one of the sources for a listing by Designing Libraries which comes the closest yet to something that can claim to be comprehensive.  They count 135 new or refurbished library buildings open or committed to since the start of 2011.  That’s less than half the number of libraries which closed or were “volunteered” in the same period – and 40% were co-locations (which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on how it’s done) – but it’s better than nothing.  And, yes, a lot of these have been “committed to” but not yet built but. come on, it’s still good news.

Along with the Universal Offers last week, there’s some hope for public libraries over the last week or so.  Long may it continue.  However, if the bosses at the DCMS are foolish enough to pretend that this means somehow all is well in libraries then they will be lampooned again, as they were in the comments of the BookSeller:

“Captain says SS Titanic “not in crisis”. The Captain emphasised that it was a matter for ticketed passengers to save themselves in a “comprehensive and efficient” manner. He added: “Having one or even a number of icebergs crashing through the hull of the ship does not necessarily signify a serious safety issue and said that while the crew had the power to intervene in terrifying life-and-death situations, it could only be done for serious reasons based on the facts in a case.

The response admitted: “Freezing to death in the icy waters of the North Atlantic is not our preferred outcome for most of our customers”, but added: “Small amounts of ice and water have always been encountered inside ocean-going liners, and where appropriate, passenger-managed icebergs can present a creative way to manage resources in appropriate individual cases, such as an inexpensive method for cooling drinks.” Comment by iucounu on BookSeller article


  • Free pole dancing classes at library ‘great success’ with readers – STV,  Video of the events at the Midlothian librarians including, yes, poledancing and booky table tennis.  Some great publicity.
  • Government says library service “not in crisis” – Bookseller. (It’s never a good thing when Governments have to say such things].
  • It’s not our libraries’ responsibility to help the mentally ill. It’s the Government’s – Independent. “What do public libraries and the Arts Council have in common? Well, besides both being completely broke (thanks to government cuts), the latest thing they share is that they are now to help pay and support the mentally ill through a new “books on prescription” scheme announced last week.”.  Ed Vaizey “hailed the programme as “fantastic” and was keen to stress that libraries played an “essential” part in our communities. Poor you, then, if you are prescribed a self-help book but your local booklender was one of the staggering 200 UK public libraries that closed in 2012.”
  • Libraries Are a Vital Public Service, but It’s Time for Innovation – StateTech (USA). “Libraries are about so much more than books: They are about access to knowledge and, in 2013, digital information, which means access via mobile devices and the cloud”
  • Next Saturday is National Libraries Day – Digital Journal. “Whether or not you ever use one, libraries are a big part of your life. Next Saturday is National Libraries day in the UK.It may be called National Libraries Day, but it has its own website, and runs all year round. With so-called austerity there have been moves to close libraries, but this website has a few ideas about both using them and developing them for the future … Whatever your view of libraries – contemporary or future, real world or virtual – National Libraries Day is free for you to join and have your say.”

Oreo whisper fight (USA) – This advert showing anarchy in the library was shown during the Superbowl advert break.

  • Social Media Marketing: How New York Public Library increased card sign-ups by 35% – Marketing Sherpa Blog (USA).  “a creative social media marketing campaign. Using its flagship channels of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and Pinterest, the library could reach its social media network of more than 550,000 fans and followers” harnessing the power of celebrities.
  • There is cold fear and resentment but little sense of hope – Guardian. An in-depth look at the Newcastle cuts, with a strong emphasis on libraries. “There is an undercurrent of local noise about the aspects of the cuts pinned to cost inflation, and allegations that Labour council leader Nick Forbes is proposing such drastic moves in order to pick a fight with Westminster. If that is the case, you have to believe not only that he thinks laying waste to the city is a good career move, but that beneath an Alan Milburn-ish exterior lies a secret clone of Derek Hatton. The truth is much more prosaic, and all about a grim pincer movement afflicting councils across the country: in Newcastle, about £50m cut from money the council receives from central government, coupled with rising demand for the basic services it is statutorily required to provide.”
  • Twitter Takeover: Tuesday; librarian, Horniman Museum Helen Williamson – Voices for the Library. “things are worse than ever for museums at the moment, I think the necessity for introspection it has brought about is resulting in some really exciting work.”


  • Havering Rainham Library – New, colocation with flats and lifelong learning centre.  Expected to begin building early 2013.

Local News

“We want to make it clear that, the activists support  the National Libraries Campaign and that putting in place a paid librarian is a priority. I believe consensus has been reached with the community on this point. As it stands, the funding offered by the council does not cover a full time librarian, but as the two year lease is negotiated and plans go forward, this will be kept at the front of the conversation. The activists would like to say that we are strongly opposed to austerity and all the cuts, especially to the library service.”

  • Bracknell – Mayor urges people to use revamped town centre library – Get Bracknell.  “Cllr Jennie McCracken is encouraging people to visit the Town Square library, which reopened on January 8 after a £500,000 revamp. She told councillors at full council last Wednesday: “If you haven’t checked out our new library yet I suggest you do. There is no comparison to how it was before – it really is superb.””
  • Havering – Rainham Library construction expected to begin “next month”: council – Romford Recorder. “Along with the library, the scheme will see flats and a “lifelong learning centre” built next to the station in Rainham Village Conservation Area. Plans were originally approved in 2009, since when joint responsibility for the library has passed from the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation to the Greater London Authority (GLA).”
  • Isle of Wight – Libraries celebrate national day – Isle of Wight Radio. “If you have had books out for a long time and are worried about bringing them back, you can take advantage of a fines amnesty in all 11 Isle of Wight libraries, including the [5] community libraries.”
  • Kingston – Kingston’s favourite books revealed – help celebrate local libraries Royal Kingston Council. “Now the borough’s seven libraries are gearing up for a host of free events to mark National Libraries Day on Saturday 9 February, including: Crime author James Craig, Diane and Christyan Fox—creators of Goodnight Piggy Wiggy and Tyson the Terrible—and top teen author Mary Hooper will all be at Hook and Chessington Library.Paper plane making and other flight fun for 4–8 year olds at New Malden Library. A coffee morning and behind the scenes tour at Surbiton Library, as well as stories and activities for 4–10 year olds to mark the Chinese New Year.Songs and rhymes for babies and toddlers at Tolworth Library.”
  • Northamptonshire – Rallying call to be a volunteer – Northampton Herald and Post. Looking for 200 volunteers. “Volunteers make a significant contribution to many council services. Volunteers have supported the county’s 36 libraries for several years, and there are now almost 600 volunteers working in a variety of ways such as helping people to use a computer, running a homework club, helping in the library shop or listening to children read.”
  • Sheffield – “Save our library” urge Walkley campaigners – Postcode Gazette. “Council chiefs have warned that half of Sheffield’s 28 community libraries would close unless groups step forward and offer to help run them … ‘Save our Library’. That’s the message from the people of Walkley after campaigners erected bunting on the railings of the library over the weekend.”
  1. Frecheville Library under threat of closure – Postcode Gazette.  “Frecheville library is on the list as one of the least visited libraries in Sheffield. Even with it being on the list, it still had close to 40,000 visits.”
  • Thurrock – Volunteers needed to help Thurrock library scheme – Thurrock Gazette.  “More than 4,000 people have learnt how to use the internet, email and digital photography thanks to the service.  The Wiser4IT scheme has been running since 2002 and targets the over 50s.  All nine local libraries have been involved in the courses but due to a lack of volunteers only seven libraries are offering the free, two-hour sessions. “