There’s a very interesting article in the Guardian looking at how different non-profits and social enterprises are faring in taking over public libraries and a, frankly, beautifully powerful piece on the value of libraries from an eighteen year old in Nottingham.  Meanwhile, in Lancashire, the underperforming computers in the libraries there show the need for more investment if the Digital By Default government agenda stands any chance of being fair.


  • Are social enterprises the future for libraries? – Guardian / Starting up and scaling up hub.  Looks at non-profits taking over libraries. Social enterprises have taken over a lot of libraries despite them making losses – one possible reason is that they are a loss leader with the associated leisure services being attractive. Kirklees Fresh Horizons Trust sees their advantage as being more innovative, for example in adding a cinema. However, all see the long term as challenging as unable to make enough revenue.  There’s a worry private companies like JLIS will take contracts over Trusts.

“After ten years of experience, he says the Trust would be interested in bidding for library contracts in other boroughs, but primarily because “libraries may be part of a wider package… which would be our preference.” Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust

“Social enterprises are, however, offering much more than books and computer access – the mixed-use community hub, argues Dunn [Eco Communities – Ed.], is the library model for the next 30 years: “We’re open longer now than when the local council ran the libraries. I really believe that there’s a wider range of services that we offer from our libraries now… There are things that the local council do well, no question. But they are unable to move quickly and introduce new services quickly when the community asks for it.” The reason why social enterprises can, he says, “is that we are the local community – there is no them and us.”

“Deary says libraries “have been around too long”. I say they cannot be around long enough, and that they do not belong to him.”

  • CILIP Presidential infolit challenge – Information Literacy Weblog.  Phil Bradley offers prize for best two minute presentation in any format on the value of information literacy.
  • Helen McNabb, Library Resources Manager, Vale of Glamorgan Libraries, Wales – Voices for the Library. “The situation with public libraries is heartbreaking, even though Wales has not been hit as hard as England yet.  We have more support from the Welsh Assembly and CyMAL than the English libraries get, we still have Standards which are reported on annually, but the cuts are starting to bite in Wales this year as well now.  I just have to hope, like so many of us do, that the future is less bleak than the worst forecasts predict.”
  • How the internet is making us poor – Quartz. Librarians are singled out as on the receiving end of a computer-thrashing but, it seems, pretty much everyone’s job is under threat from computers.
  • Library wedding proposal: one for the books – Star (USA).  A proposal in a library, with a specially written children’s book.
  • Publisher speeds up e-book access for libraries – Inquirer Technology. “libraries can offer e-books from Penguin Group (USA) at the same time that the hardcover comes out, a switch from the previous policy of delaying downloads for six months”. American Library Association:”“I am pleased to learn that Penguin’s pilot is confirming what research suggests and librarians believe: There is more to be gained than lost when publishers work with libraries,” association president Maureen Sullivan said in a statement. “We are encouraged by Penguin’s willingness to experiment, make adjustments and move forward with libraries and our millions of readers.”.  Deal is libraries can buy one “copy” for one year but then needs to repurchase.
  • Society of Authors’ response to the DCMS planned transfer of PLR functions – Society of Authors.  Not impressed by decision to remove one of the best regarded quangoes in the country and to manage it from over 50 miles away.  It is also concerned that the British Library will lose its neutrality.
  • Society of Authors’ response to the Sieghart Independent Review of E-Lending in Public Libraries – Society of Authors. The review “supports a sensible balance between the needs and interests of readers, libraries, publishers and authors allowing libraries to flourish and continue to service the public while giving fair remuneration to authors”
  • Why Amazon buying Goodreads matters so much – Magellan Media.  The importance of Amazon’s buying up of Goodreads.  One more step on the road to monopoly. “As Amazon expands, traditional publishers may soon be considering their own exit strategies”

Local news

  • Bournemouth – We’ll make libraries fit for the 21st century, pledge councillors – Bournemouth Echo. “£1.7million of savings and extra income made over the next seven years. This will be raised by increasing income through premises hire, fees and charges, staff restructuring by merging responsibilities and freezing vacant posts, reducing the annual stock budget and reducing printing, stationery and furniture costs. Councillors also agreed to explore options for improving the library service in the future, including sharing library buildings with other information and advice agencies, reviewing opening hours, installing public Wi-Fi, using digital technology to promote the library service, installing coffee bars and drinks machines in some libraries and hiring out space for exhibitions and meetings.”
  • Croydon – 45-year-old library card found in hamster book – Guardian series.  Found in charity shop.
  • Hull – Councillor should fight to keep library open – This is Hull and East Riding.  Portfolio holder for libraries attacks an opposition councillor who opposes the cuts to Anlaby Park Library: “The leader of the council has given an additional two months for local people to form a group to run the building and, if Councillor Thomas is serious about what she says, she and her ward colleagues should work tirelessly in support of local people to set up and run a competent group able to keep the facility open, not just now but indefinitely. Let’s see, shall we?”
  • Lancashire – Library users slam IT system – LEP. Some serious problems with the library computers.  Council apologises: “We are working closely with our ICT colleagues to make what improvements we can in the short-term, while looking to longer-term solutions such as upgrading both software and hardware. However, with nearly 1,000 PCs across 74 libraries, this is clearly a significant task.”

“A former insurance worker, Mr Dyson said he was now unemployed due to health reasons, and needed to use the computers to register with Universal Jobmatch online to receive his Jobseeker’s Allowance. He said: “If you go to the Jobcentre and say ‘I couldn’t get on the computers at the library’ they will say it’s no excuse.”