John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) have caused confusion in Croydon by, apparently, changing their offer – on staff pensions – at the last moment. This means the contract has to go back out to tender.  Regardless of how one feels about private companies running libraries, this is hardly looking to be a textbook advert for outsourcing library services.  The whole point of the process is supposed to be to save money, not spend more and more with nothing to show from it.  Tendering has already cost Croydon at least £94,000 with no end in sight.  Even when a bidder is finally chosen, it is the stated desire of Labour councillors to return libraries to public control if they become the party in power again – which, with nightmares like this, seems more likely by the day.  In a time when every penny is sacred for councils, getting the tendering out of services wrong is starting to look like a dangerous and expensive distraction.

[Article amended 28/2/13 to correct statement that £94,000 did not include items such as external legal fees]


  • Accepting criticism – Carl Clayton.  In wake of the Terry Deary incident, another piece questioning libraries in Herald Scotland raised some questions that librarians need to be comfortable answering. “We all feel more comfortable with the strong expressions of support that emerge whenever libraries are threatened with cuts but we do need to listen to our critics with as much care”.  In partial response, Purpose of a library – Information Twist, points out that different people support different aspects of libraries, with some possibly being mutually exclusive.
  • Arts and culture matter: yes, even in a recession – Independent. “In the UK literacy levels are reported to have ‘stalled’. How, then, can we justify the removal of such vital educational resources? Not to mention, that for many, these are well-established places of safety and comfort away from drudgery of daily life.”
  • Beanstalk launches literacy charter – BookSeller. “the charter calls on the government to fund a trained reading helper in every primary school, and to supply each primary school with a library by providing funding and catalysing local business partnerships, with library facilities to be included in Ofsted inspections.”
“Children’s laureate Julia Donaldson said: “In terms of society’s attitudes to children’s reading, I think that nowadays people seem terribly earnest about children’s reading habits. I would rather that the press devoted less space to worrying surveys and analysis, and instead devoted more space to news and reviews about actual children’s books.” She also said she would ideally see children being given a library ticket when they go to school, and links between schools and libraries being strengthened.”
  • Building community assets – Next libraries (USA). “The value of a library lies in its ability to develop community assets” … ““I really believe that what libraries bring to the table is the ability to develop the assets of a community,” says Haycock. “We bring the ability to connect people with information and ideas—including conversations—that improve their lives, in ways that are unique to themselves or important for the community.”
  • Dutch copyright legislation does not allow ‘e-lending’ by public libraries – Future of Copyright (Netherlands). “there is no reason to assume that this legal limitation of copyright also covers the online lending of e-books. Libraries would therefore infringe copyright when they decide to provide e-lending services.” … “Mrs. Bussemaker says that she will advocate that the topic ‘e-lending and public libraries’ will be placed on the copyright agenda of the European Commission. It follows from the report that the best chances for libraries to gain permission to lend e-books lie in a revision of the Copyright Directive.”
  • Physical books are not Betamax – Fund My Library. Article points out intrinsic advantages of printed books over e-books.
  • Public libraries and archives deserve more attention – Malta Today (Malta). Political party says “”Local public libraries should be promoted as community centres in a context of everyday democracy. All libraries should have internet access. Their architecture, furnishing, equipment and collections should be accessible and inviting to members of the community. Professionalization, standardization and inter-connectivity should characterize all libraries and archival work.””

“Public libraries circulated 2.46 billion materials in FY 2010, the highest circulation in 10 years, representing a continued increasing trend. Circulation of children’s materials has increased by 28.3 percent in the last 10 years and comprises over one-third of all materials circulated in public libraries.”  Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2010 (2013), published in January of 2013. Quoted in ebookporn (USA).

  • Story of the library with a garden – Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). New library looks rather amazing. “The below-ground vision will include garden storytelling, rolling hills and a sunken garden for reading and relaxing. It features an amphitheatre, water play area and music rooms where residents can practise on their instruments without disturbing neighbours.”


Local News

  • Brighton and Hove Books deliveries will take libraries to the people – Brighton and Hove Council. “decision on whether to start a personalised door-to-door book delivery service, replacing Brighton & Hove’s mobile library, will be taken at the budget council on Thursday (February 28).”
  • Croydon – Laings quit £30m Croydon libraries privatisation deal – Inside Croydon. JLIS have withdrawn from bidding for the contract for running the public libraries in Croydon, citing concerns over the cost of staff pensions.  Also of concern may have been the stated desire of Labour councillors to return it to public control if they become the party in power.  This radio recording includes the Mayor ejecting the Labour leader for asking a question about the decision.
  • Libraries contract to go back out to tender – Croydon Guardian. “Library services in the borough are to go back out to tender after the council’s preferred bidder changed its offer at the last minute. The council is to reconsider selecting John Laing Integrated Services to run the libraries after the private firm altered proposed pension terms, triggering a reselection process.”

“During the process of clarifying these final terms with our preferred bidder, they unexpectedly introduced a late amendment relating to capping possible future pensions contributions. He added: “As a result, to ensure fairness to all of the bidders, we have to take a step back in the process to allow all the final bidders time to consider this change and propose any amendments they wish to their original proposals.” Cllr Pollard, responsible Cabinet member.

“The total cost to date is approximately £94,000, which includes external legal costs, staff costs and some actuarial fees. The largest element of cost was the external legal advice. The legal costs would have been approximately double this if we had not conducted the procurement jointly with Wandsworth.” Cost of outsourcing process as of Dec 2012.

  • Why so shy, Cllr Pollard? – Save Croydon Libraries. “Residents have noticed the huge loss of staff, decline in service and extensive book cull as our library service has been eroded since not long after the initial consultation occurred. And, Cllr Pollard, we’d love to know what libraries will be upgraded with as you fail to say. Dreaded self-service machines, no doubt.”
  • Lancashire – Six Preston libraries in boost – Lancashire Evening Post. “Libraries in Fulwood, Savick, Sharoe Green, Ingol, Ribbleton, and Preston’s 
Harris, are set to stay open for a total of 12 hours longer. The changes are part of a second wave of plans by 
Lancashire County Council to encourage more people to use libraries.”
  • Merton – Every child to become library member under new council scheme – Guardian series. “The pilot scheme will see premium library cards offered to five schools in the borough which will allow five children’s books to be borrowed with all overdue fines waived. By working with schools and parents, it is hoped all primary school children will be signed up as library members by April 2014.”
  • Sefton – Library campaigners given hope before crucial budget meeting – Liverpool Echo. “If campaign groups can come up with realistic measures to save their libraries within three months, Sefton council will consider implementing them.”
  • Sheffield – Library’s Peachy visitor – Star. “Barnsley-born Joanne Harris, who wrote Chocolat, is visiting the city’s Central Library to talk about her life in writing.”
  • St Helens – Top authors slams council’s library cuts – St Helens Reporter. Council aims to reduce opening hours by a fifth. Alan Gibbons and CILIP unimpressed.
  • Suffolk – World Book Day 2013 – Suffolk Libraries.  An impressive list of what events are happening in Suffolk.
  • Wakefield – Upton library to reopen at Easter – Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express. The library on Waggon Lane, closed on November 30 and community group Upton and North Elmsall Forum (UNEF) was due to get the keys from the council that day. However, the handover was delayed until February 5 because of legal issues between both sides’ solicitors.”

“We are hoping to move services forward with ebooks being available. We will have 10 computers for public use, as well as a wifi system for people to bring their laptops and tablets.” “The more people that embrace the library, the more diverse the services will be.”

  • Wokingham – Schoolchildren help smash world record on National Libraries day – Get Bracknell. “The Holt and Luckley-Oakfield Schools were among 120 schools that took part in the nationwide Parallel Universe workshop to break the world record for the most people writing a story. The record was unofficially broken on Wednesday, February 6, with around 1,300 pupils, beating the previous record of 953 people in five venues.”