In a welcome spirit of open-ness, the minutes of the SCL (Society of Chief Librarians) Executive Committee meeting held in CILIP on 23rd January 2013 are now available publicly online.  This is part of a conscious spirit of engagement on the part of senior library managers to engage with public library campaigners and, presumably, also with rank and file library staff.  It leads on from its welcome “Universal Offers” announced last week and continues with an announcement in the minutes  that it is reviewing its core purpose and governance.

The main points include a sneak preview of the results of the ACE research and an insight into SCL meetings with politicians:7

  1. Arts Council England (ACE) post changes: National Lead for Libraries will be 50% of a post backed up by five Library Relationship Managers.
  2. Arts Council England:  “Envisioning the Library of the Future” has found five clear themes: (i) physical/virtual library space, (ii) importance to children, (iii) importance of trusted and unbiased access to information, (iv)social opportunity/equality, (iv) tension between traditional bricks-and-mortar-and-paper library users and early adopters.
  3. Arts Council England: Four key areas for action identified as “library space and cultural offer”, “digital technologies and creative media”, “resilient and sustainable business models” and “leadership, skills development and the role of library staff”.  There will be roundtable meetings with partners/stakeholders [apparently not including any campaign groups], chaired by Sue Charteris, in February.
  4. SCL will review its core purpose and governance.  Its priorities will be: to structure aims around ACE findings, develop national offers, finding a role for SCL given reduced ACE support, “continued engagement with stakeholders”, improved advocacy/communication.
  5. Boss of SCL, Janene Cox, to meet with Ed Vaizey on 11th February and his shadow Dan Jarvis on 13th February.
  6. The Government’s E-Lending Review [Sieghardt Review] to be published in February.
  7. SCL to meet with many [non-campaigner] national organisations on 12th February to discuss priorities and funding.


“The Occupy movement has raised a great deal of awareness of global inequality but has not focused on or achieved small, concrete wins such as this one. The Barnet residents’ protests fell on deaf ears until the squatters supported by Occupy moved in. Squatters have had an opportunity to rebrand themselves as socially responsible, community minded individuals who are working to restore closed-down public services. The local residents are clear that without the input of the squatters and Occupy, the library would not have reopened.”

  • Future of librarians in a eBook world – Atlantic Cities (USA).  “Many, such as New York’s , are reinventing themselves as centers for classes, job training, and simply hanging out.” … “They are also about human beings and their relationships, specifically, the relationship between librarians and patrons. And that is the relationship that the foundation created by Microsoft co-founder’s Paul G. Allen is seeking to build in a recent round of grants to libraries in the Pacific Northwest.”
  • Love libraries on National Libraries Day – Reading Groups. “We’re asking people on twitter to tell us why they love libraries using the #LoveLibraries hashtag.”

“Here, then, is the point at which I see the new mission of the librarian rise up incomparably higher than all those preceding. Up until the present, the librarian has been principally occupied with the book as a thing, as a material object. From now on he must give his attention to the book as a living function. He must become a policeman, master of the raging book.” José Ortega y Gasset, in 1934.

  • New libraries, new directions: the outlook for public libraries in England – Designing Libraries. ““While no one is any doubt that councils are facing tough choices as a result of cuts to budgets, it is equally clear that many are responding creatively to the challenge, rethinking the role of libraries in their communities, radically restructuring their buildings portfolio but also investing in new facilities. “Over 40% of the libraries listed illustrate the trend towards a greater integration of services or facilities.”

“As much as I love and prefer books, I still think bookstores are dead and that that’s not a bad thing. Libraries have so much more and for such a better deal. Not just financially, but also socially and culturally. Not only do I save money, but I can share books easily with an entire community and have those books curated, in every sense of the word, by professionals who care mostly about books and don’t need to make a profit.” Bookstore strikes Back – Metafilter.

  • Passmore Edwards in the East End – Spitalfields Life. “At the time of cuts to libraries and other vital social resources, Dean Evans author of Funding The Ladder – The Passmore Edwards Legacy takes a timely look at the forgotten benefactor who shaped the culture of the East End through his enlightened philanthropy.”
  • Twitter Takeover : Thursday : Kathleen O’Neill : Assistant Librarian, Sotheby’s Institute of Art – Voices for the Library. “Our jobs are so much more than issuing and returning books, but as long as that is the prevailing understanding of our role, governments and councils, and some members of the public, will consider us easily replaced with anybody able to scan a barcode and shelve a book.”
  • Vatican museums boss laments ‘brutal sacking’ of library – The Age (Australia). “The director of the Vatican’s museums has warned Italy’s cultural heritage is ”vanishing” after prosecutors in Naples said two more people had been arrested on suspicion of taking part in a ”premeditated, organised and brutal” sacking of the city’s 16th century Girolamini Library.”
  • Welsh Minister announces extra £150,000 for tackling child poverty through cultural institutions – CILIP in Wales. “This additional funding is earmarked for work that will widen access and participation, providing a step-change in increased participation in museums, archives and libraries by the poorest families in Wales. Museums, archives and libraries open minds and open doors to previously closed areas of society.We must work to preserve library services in these very difficult financial times, but that we should simultaneously and pro-actively work to ensure that no one is excluded from using these services.”

“In Wales cultural budgets certainly aren’t the first targets for cuts. The Minister noted the situation in England where there is almost daily news of significant cuts to libraries, including reports of mass closures. The Minister is determined that this will not happen in Wales. Yes, these are times for imagination and investment; solutions such as co-location may work well.  his commitment to the public library service in Wales, again re-iterating that all powers will be used, and measures taken in order to ensure “comprehensive public library services” as required by the Museums and Public Libraries Act 1964.”


Local News

  • Barnet – The library that lived: victory for the people of Barnet – Broken Barnet. “Phoenix spoke passionately about the wider issue of the threat to libraries, and the need to preserve our public library service. He has always urged everyone to continue to fight for the retention of professional library support from Barnet, and this is a crucial point for many of us who celebrate the saving of the library building, but furiously condemn the actions of Barnet Council in their assault on our library service, and the removal of professional posts from the library structure. “
  • The book stops here: Campaigners win battle to run UK’s first people’s library – Mirror. “Well-wishers donated more than 100,000 books and volunteers refurbished the building, installing second-hand computers and replacing furniture.”
  • Friern Barnet Library will not be sold but council deal is ‘not perfect’, say occupiers – Times series. ““It is a pragmatic solution that we will happily accept as there is no alternative. But we believe libraries should be publicly run, with qualified librarians and assistants. “This is not a perfect solution but the council has budged and this is what was on offer.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester Events at Ellesmere Port Library to celebrate National Libraries Day – Pioneer. “There will be free reservations – with a maximum of five – on the day and a happy hour between 11am and noon for DVDs, when library members will be able to borrow two DVDs for the price of one. The library is also encouraging users to express why they love the library, and their responses will be put on display.”
  • Newcastle – Campaigners hand over Newcastle library petition – Chronicle. “a 5,000-strong petition makes its way to city leaders. Those seeking to prevent 10 library closures will make their case to councillors at the civic centre tonight.”
  • North Yorkshire – Joy as care and library plan given go ahead – Darlington and Stockton Times. “Hambleton district councillors have approved plans to demolish the Cherry Garth residential care home in Chapel Street and replace it with 52 extra care flats, communal facilities and new public library.” … “development will also include a public library, which will offer more space for a greater range of services and facilities than at the current library in Finkle Street and cut the service’s costs through sharing a building.” … “a library would make it easier for the extra care residents to become active in the community.”
  • Plymouth – Libraries are “desperately in need of wifi” council is told – This is Plymouth. “Young people would be sad to see libraries disappear – but their needs are changing, a council panel heard yesterday. With budgets under increasing pressure and councils around the country closing libraries, Plymouth’s library service faces tough challenges. Cllr Ian Tuffin, the group’s chairman, said: “We are looking at long-term solutions and the possibility of involving partner organisations.”
  • Suffolk – Make a heart at Haverhill library – Haverhill Echo. “Shona Bendix, chair of Suffolk Libraries IPS, said: “It’s great to see so many events taking place round the county to mark National Libraries Day as it shows that the library service is thriving and how the community is supporting their libraries. I hope people will take the chance to go along with their families and see what’s happening.”
  • Waltham Forest – New hope for volunteer-run library plans in Leytonstone – Guardian series. Library closed in 2011. “campaigners have been given hope after being allocated a room at the Epicentre community centre in Leytonstone under a three-month agreement.  They hope the deal will be extended and are appealing for volunteers to come forward to help make their plans a reality.”
  • Warwickshire – Fines amnesty for all library users in North Warwickshire this weekend – This is Tamworth.  “National Libraries Day promotes the many aspects of the service, encouraging regular users to use more of what is on offer and persuading more people to start using their local library. Gill Colbourne of Warwickshire Libraries said: “The fines amnesty is to encourage our customers to return to use the library, even though they might have fines from a long time ago.”