In another welcome addition to data on the use of volunteer-run libraries, Mike Bedford from Chalfont St Giles Community Library has been in touch about the one he helps run.  The rise in lending figures there is in stark contrast to the figures looked at recently from Lewisham and Swindon:

Bucks - Chalfont St Giles

Things going well at Chalfont St Giles Library, Buckinghamshire

For anyone wondering more about these figures, Mike goes on:

“The lending data is reliable, it is from the County’s library management system … As it happens I do have the monthly data from Apr 2003 onwards and can confirm that the current (2012) book lending is virtually the same as the County level prior to closure in 2006. Other possibly relevant stats are that opening hours are currently 34.5 hours per week. The County’s library opening hours in 2006 were 20 hours per week.  Book stock on the local library shelves is certainly more now than when the county ran the library. The comparison is approximately 8,500 books vs 5,000 books.”

That is clearly very impressive and makes one wonder why that branch is doing so well while others clearly aren’t.  One possible solution is that Chalfont St Giles is in a prosperous country village, with lots of retired professionals, whereas the others are in more urban environments, although there may be other factors as well.  One of the concerns with withdrawn libraries is that it then depends on the area and the luck of who steps forward rather than providing a standardised service, causing an atomised service and therefore a postcode lottery.  It also means that libraries in highly literate areas are more likely to do well than those in the most depressed areas which, one could argue from a social welfare point of view, need them more.

There has been very little research done in this sector and your guess is as good as mine as to what is the most important factor in the success or otherwise of a library when it is taken out of council control.  This, given the increasing importance of this sector, is appalling.  Thus, Mike’s closing sentence sums up our current state of knowledge:

“Overall I guess it all adds to the ‘fifty shades of grey’ position on volunteer run libraries. In some places they are successful in other places possibly not.”


  • Community, Libraries, Ukeleles, and Love – Justin the Librarian (USA). “Any time your library can get 4 ukuleles donated to circulate in your library you’ve won.  Top that off with a ukulele jamboree right in front of the library jamboree with the community and teens and you have something magical.”
  • Free Library Puts Its Digital Collection Within Arm’s Reach at a Septa Train Station – CBS (USA).  Commuters can download books to smartphones via QR codes at train station.  “There are now 76 brightly colored virtual library boards on the Suburban Station platform … [with] … a sample of 80,000 e-books, 8,000 audiobooks, and 1,000 author podcasts at the Suburban Station kiosk throughout the month of April.”
  • Library support rally turns into march – Otago Daily Times. “Close to 150 people took to the streets of Wanaka yesterday in an impromptu protest march to the offices of the Queenstown Lakes District Council.”
  • Obama Budget Ups Funding for Library Technology – Digital Book World (USA). “Today, President Barack Obama released the budget for the 2014 fiscal year, allocating $177 million for assistance to libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Library funding will be administered by the Institute of Museum and Libraries Services (IMLS). The budget request is approximately a 1.16 percent increase over funding enacted for the bill in the 2013 fiscal year continuing resolution (after sequestration).”

“We congratulate President Obama for supporting our nation’s libraries and the work they do for their communities. The White House Office of Management and Budget has increased the amount of funding for libraries and recognizes the ways that libraries contribute to the economic recovery in their local communities.” ALA President Maureen Sullivan

  • Six Horrific Things Discovered in the Last Place You’d Expect – Cracked. “#6. Librarian Finds Smallpox Scabs Inside an Old Book”
  • Thatcher memorial library plans unveiled – BBC. “Backers aim to raise £15m in private funds to set up the site in London. The Conservative Way Forward pressure group headed by Lady Thatcher until her death is spearheading the project.” … “Lady Thatcher is said to have been fully briefed about the plans and has left CWF a number of letters to be included. The museum will feature artefacts from her time in office such as her trademark blue Aquascutum suits and handbags.” … “Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, Transport Secretary Patrick McLaughlin, and Welsh Secretary David Jones, and the former defence secretary Liam Fox are among the backers.”  See also Margaret Thatcher: plans to build museum as permanent memorial – Telegraph.


Local News

UNJLCroydon/Lambeth – Reduction in opening hours due to cut in funding from Croydon.

  • East Sussex – Campaign to get people using libraries – Hastings Observer. “Simon Hughes, East Sussex County Council assistant chief executive, said: “We want as many people as possible to know what great things they can get from our first class library service. “As well as the things people usually associate with libraries, such as books, they can also provide a gateway to support and information which helps many people in their everyday lives”
  • Herefordshire – New Opening hours for the Library – Bromyard Info. “A loss of 40% of the opening hours is a serious deterioration of one of the best facilities that is open to all. Early morning and evening hours will be abandoned and so will Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday. Does any body care about these facilities?”
  • Hertfordshire – Harpenden library staff to hold drop-in session ahead of move – Herts Advertiser. “staff are hosting a public drop-in session next Tuesday, April 16, to talk about plans to move it into the former Argos store in Harpenden High Street” … ““After the move, the library will be in a central location and be more accessible to users. It will be on one level, offering greater flexibility and better use of space, and will have a fully accessible toilet for visitors.”
  • Oxfordshire – Youngsters enjoy some animal magic at library – Oxford Mail.  Lion mask crafts session.
  • Richmond – Plant a daffodil at Hampton Hill library – Guardian series. “Green-fingered children can plant their own sunflower at a horticultural-themed storytelling event. Hampton Hill library is hosting the session as part of national gardening week for children aged three to eight.”
  • Shropshire – Fault leaves county libraries without internet link – Shropshire Star.  All libraries lost the internet for up to a week.  Comment: “All we know is it happened and it will take week to fix. Is that acceptable? Maybe it is; if reliability costs too much? You get what you pay for in house, and 10% more cost if you out source it.”
  • Waltham Forest – Volunteer-run library at The Epicentre in West Street, Leytonstone, to start lending in May – Guardian series.  “A library run by volunteers in Leytonstone will start lending books in May, organisers have announced. Residents opened the new facility in The Epicentre in West Street on Saturday, following the council’s decision to shut nearby Harrow Green Library 16 months ago.  However the branch is still in the process of being fully equipped, such as with internet access.”