William Sieghart, leader of the panel of experts who recently produced “An Independent Review of E-lending in Public Libraries in England”, National Poetry Day founder and the brains behind Poetry on Prescription, kindly agreed to do a brief interview for Public Libraries News, which is printed below.  Mr Sieghart will be touring libraries in Kent and Westminster promoting his poetry anthology, Winning Words: Inspiring Poems for Everyday Life.  More details of the tour can be found here.

Sieghart, William

William Sieghart

What positive results do you think people gain from poetry?

People find a sense of companionship in poetry, they find a complicity with what they feel but don’t necessarily have the language to express themselves. They feel understood when they find a poem that reflects their feelings and by being understood the poem helps them to resolve some of their concerns in life.

Do you use a local library?

Yes I do – I go there with my children and each visit makes my children want to return, which can only be a very good sign.

What do you think are the main selling points of a library?

A library is a safe, secure, quite space away from the busy noisy world where thoughtful reflection and investigation can take place, without the pressures of the outside world.

What do you think is the most challenging problem when it comes to e-lending?

Fear of change.

Is there a particular poem you’d recommend about public libraries?

If you look at the cover of the e-lending review you will see a poem by Ted Hughes called ‘Hear it again’ which has never been published before. It is all about libraries and reflects my passion for them.


  • Brooklyn Public Library to hold biking fundraiser this weekend – Melville House (USA). “As part of its annual Support the Branches fundraiser efforts, the Brooklyn Public Library is holding a charity bike event this Saturday, called Bike the Branches. A borough-wide celebration of Brooklyn’s cultural heritage, Bike the Branches invites people to tour the various BPL locations and enjoy some entertainment at many of them.”

  • Library revolutions – Youtube.  Excellent and amusing take-off of the Matrix which, coincidentally, may help with library tuition.
  • Council services face further cuts, warn local leaders – BBC.  LGA warn that non-statutory services could face 90% cut due to cuts in subsidy and increasing social welfare costs.  [It calls libraries non-statutory which is, literally, untrue but shows how libraries are regarded by decision-makers.  The fact libraries are given such prominence in the coverage also perhaps shows the LGA feels that such cuts would be unpopular with the public and thus impactthe most  on politicians- Ed.]

“The LGA says that “almost all of councils’ money would have to be spent on explicit statutory responsibilities like social services, waste collection and concessionary travel, meaning that the money available for all other services, such as libraries, road maintenance and leisure facilities would have been cut by 90%”


Local news

  • Angus – Council democracy questioned in Arbroath Library row – Courier. “As councillors prepare to consider a report firmly recommending the transfer of the historic building out of the town common good and into a general fund, other leading figures have joined independent councillor Bob Spink in continuing 
criticism over the handling of the issue. A fresh twist has been Mr Spink’s anger over being denied access to official reports on the library plan, but officials stood by the decision not to release legal counsel’s opinion to the elected member.”
  • Cardiff – Panorama journalist and former UK drugs adviser blocked from holding lecture in Cardiff – Wales Online.  Talk on the perils of scientology at Cardiff Central Library cancelled with no explanation other than the library “wouldn’t be able to do it”.  Decision criticised as attack on free speech and over-zealousness both in the article and on Twitter (with Ben Goldacre calling it “truly offensive” and Simon Singh suggesting the council needs auditing).  Clarification by Council is that the decision was not over nature of the talk but about evenings as “despite the fact that Central Library does hold in-house evening events it is not set up as a night time venue, as there are budget implications in terms of staff costs” and they will try to host the event at another time.
  • Dorset – Dorchester’s Charles Street development library to open – BBC. “A new library and adult learning centre will open in two months as part of a £60m regeneration project in Dorset.”
  • Harrow – Library outsourcing decision delayed due to Labour split – Harrow Observer. “Councillors were meant to meet this evening to discuss whether to hand the day-to-day management of 11 branches to the John Laing Integrated Services in order to save money and improve visitor numbers. However, the cabinet committee meeting was cancelled after the announcement yesterday that nine Labour councillors, including the leader of the council, Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, were splitting to form their own Independent Labour group.”
  • Herefordshire – Save Herefordshire’s Libraries petition – 38 Degrees. “We call on Herefordshire Council to oppose the proposed 75% cut to Herefordshire’s Library Service and the subsequent closure of all but one of the county’s libraries. One library can not provide a comprehensive and effecient library service for all persons in the area that want to make use of it, as required by the Public Libraries and Museum’s Act”
  • Manchester – Manchester library closures to go ahead – BookSeller.  Council says We will now be working very closely with communities to endeavour to come up with the right alternative library model for each area. Positive discussions are already underway in many areas.”
  • Oxfordshire – Angst over listed status led to four-year delay over Headington library access – Oxford Times.  Council “attributed the delay to having to draw up a scheme acceptable to English Heritage, but the government body had never formally objected.”
  • Waltham Forest – Books and bobbies at library – Yellow Advertiser. “first drop in- police surgery opened at the beginning of the month. It will run in Leyton Library on a trial period until June 26, and if the response is good it will continue beyond that date.”