Laura Swaffield from the Library Campaign has rightly pointed out to me that I missed out her report a few days ago.  The Campaign’s statement is, belatedly, below:

Library Campaign’s call to action: “Let’s Get Real”

1. The Library Campaign is getting a constant stream of requests for help and advice from communities trying to take over libraries (with or without council support). It is hard to give them what they need.

2. Moreover, we have the absurd and wasteful situation where many library services are having to deal individually with a large number of new problems that are, in fact, common to all. Some could be answered by an expert panel, and standard fact sheets.
Others need proper agreements at national level.

3. Also needed is a means of maintaining awareness of what a proper library service is, especially among those who now can only easily access a “community-run” facsimile.

We suggest a checklist of what a full service offers, to be ticked at each site, so that all can see what is available on site, remain aware of what is available at the ‘central’ library, and perhaps aspire to restoring a full service in time. A good example of the genre is the ‘model of service’ checklist-cum-development-plan produced by the Reading Agency in 2007 for their improvement programme for youth libraries (Fulfilling Their Potential).

Basic starter list of issues
1.  Need for proper access to/analysis of CIPFA figures.
2. PLR (relationship to national system, possible extra costs to non-statutory libraries, etc).
3.  Real implications of /requirements under legislation covering health & safety, equalities, human rights, TUPE, copyright (eg. photocopying), licensing for events/music/films/alcohol, data protection. Etc.
4.  Insurance
5.  Protection of children & vulnerable adults, CRB etc.
6.  Handling cash/security.
7.  RFID.
8.  LMS – small individual or linked to council system.
9. IT systems – as above.
10. Access to borough/national catalogues & inter-library loans.
11. Status of the Universal Offers & other national reading schemes, eg Summer Reading Challenge.
12. Ability to help with online benefit claims, job applications etc
(IT provision, staff training, volunteers handling personal
13. Access to national schemes like the Reference Online discount deal.
14. Access to reading group sets, music & playsets.
15. Training required to deal with all the above.
16. Organisational kit – draft constitution etc.
17. Volunteer policy.
18. General advice on funding/sustainability;
19. Safeguards for communities that can’t run their own library.
20. Guidance on support by that is needed by volunteers.
21. Advice on which general model to adopt in running a “community” service.
22. Not least, numerous health & professional issues for trained staff having to train/work with large numbers of untrained staff.


  • Bring the Hulk to the Northlake Public library – Indiegogo (USA).  Attempt to raise $30,000 for a Hulk statue – even if it fails, it’s great publicity.  See also the “rewards” section for ideas on how to say thank you to people in your community that won’t bankrupt you.  Clever stuff.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey boosts book trade – Guardian. “The rise in the book trade’s fortunes was driven by digital developments, with total digital sales up by 66% to £411m in 2012, and total fiction ebook sales up by 149% to £172m, according to figures released by the Publishers Association. The trade body said digital book formats – audiobook downloads, online subscriptions and ebooks — accounted for 12% of the total invoiced value of book sales, up from 8% in 2011 and 5% in 2010. In 2011, print sales fell as digital rose leading to an overall decline in the market of 2% to £3.2bn. In 2012, physical book sales were down by 1%, but the digital success meant the book market grew by 4% overall, reaching a record-breaking £3.3bn.”
  • Glimpse into Guantánamo Bay’s library – Guardian. “The few thousand titles offer a strange mix of books ranging from the pulpy – Danielle Steele’s The Kiss (in Arabic) – to the classic – six copies of David Copperfield – to the canonical – seven copies of Homer’s Odyssey. The Steele book looks pretty well-thumbed but it’s doubtful if anyone has borrowed Homer to pass the time, although some detainees have been there 11 years”,  Harry Potter is used as torture.
  • Importance of instilling a need to read – Telegraph. “Reading for pleasure at the age of 15 is a strong factor in determining future social mobility. Indeed, it has been revealed as the most important indicator of the future success of the child. That was the startling finding of research carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on education and reading, and their role in promoting social mobility. It highlights why getting teenagers to read for pleasure is more than a sepia-tinted ambition for frustrated parents. It is a fundamental social issue.”

“This is where school librarians need to come to the curriculum’s rescue. As schools’ resident book experts, school librarians have never been so important as they will be in the next 18 months, as teachers look for support in finding the books that will teach the new curriculum.”

  • Libraries forced to close for days amid staff shortage crisis – Independent (Eire). “Public libraries have been forced to cut staff and reduce opening hours and in some cases close for days, an Irish Independent survey has found.” … “Figures from the library division of the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) suggested that 107 library staff were lost without being replaced nationwide between 2007 and 2011 – the latest figures available.”.  More staff cuts in 2012 and an ageing staff structure mean service strained.

  • Get reading, get libraries, get better – “Derek the Weatherman and olympic gold medalist Jade Jones go head to head in a fitness challenge at Rhyl Library.”
  • Pew Research: High Rate of Parent Engagement with Libraries – Education Week (USA).  “Even in an era when more parents than ever have easy access to information at home via technology, they find libraries to be important, according to a study by The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project released May 1.”  584 parents surveyed with results that show how important public libraries still are.
  • Statistics dashboard – Traverse Area District Library (USA).  A daily updated page showing number of new users, books taken out, computer sessions,  A great idea to demonstrate value and worth.
  • Why are New Zealand libraries letting their enemies write “the final chapter”? – Books and Adventures (New Zealand).  Public libraries are failing to defend their core purpose in face of attacks from people who suggest e-readers instead.


Local news

  • Brent – Community library lends their support to Brent’s elderly residents – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Friends of Barham Library (FOBL) were on hand to support Pensioners Forum Event at Brent Town Hall … The health and well-being event held at Brent Town Hall attracted more than 100 visitors and aimed to show the help and support that is available to elderly people. FOBL had a stall at the event to promote their Volunteer Library in Wembley High Road.”

“Pensioners were one of the groups of people who lost out when the Labour Administration running Brent closed 6 local libraries. “Local volunteers are doing their best to replace the lost Library service in these areas.”

  • Brent – Project launched to return library service to Dollis Hill residents – Brent and Kilburn Times.  “Dollis Hill ‘“Love Books”, which was launched yesterday, will see books from Brent’s Library Service collected and brought to the area’s cafés, eateries, shops and pubs to create a series of “mini libraries”. Residents can then either borrow and read books, returning them on a trust basis, or enjoy food and drink while settling down with a novel.”
  • Croydon – Library campaigner’s lament – News from Crystal Palace. “The result of Croydon council’s savage cut to our local Upper Norwood joint library’s budget really hit home on Monday. “We lost some of the most experienced and dedicated library staff whose redundancies began. “Our chief librarian, Bradley Millington, our reference and local history librarian Jerry Savage, our assistant librarian for ICT and operations Christine Phillips, our senior library assistant Wendy Ashley and our part-time library assistant Shan Zorn. “They had served both the UNJL and the local community with dedication and commitment for a collective period of 123 years.”

“I also happened to be outside the library on the first day of reduced opening. “It is now closed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. “I saw a mum and her daughter, a grandfather and his grandson, and three different aged blokes all walk up to the door and then turn away.”

  • Ealing / Harrow – Service specification – Council agenda. Service specification and expected outcomes for the contracted out library service.  Decision to be made on Thursday.
  • Falkirk – Explore the treasure in your local library – Falkirk Herald.  Local History Week: “This is obviously an opportunity to encourage people to take an interest in their communities, but also a chance to highlight the vital role that libraries have played and still play in informing, educating and entertaining people of all ages”
  • Oxfordshire – This is a democracy, and the people don’t like it – Question Everything. “On the libraries issue, which I’m obviously going to write about, the current policy was decided without consulting the Tory group, the civil servants claim to have had a few meetings about using volunteers but there isn’t a shred of documentation to show they actually had a single thing to do with this policy and yet supported it, despite the fact civil servants are supposed to look at evidence then make recommendations on policy ideas that come forward. The scrutiny committee are supposed to be a robust challenge to cabinet yet they waved it through on party lines.”.  Also looks at recharges etc.
  • Oxfordshire – Fill your house with books urges top author Pullman – Bicester Review. “Mr Pullman, who was an active figure in the campaign to keep Oxfordshire’s libraries open, was also eager to stress their importance. He said: “Enrol your child at the library – that is very important. “Make sure they know where the library is and that they are always welcome there and that the library is full of lovely books to borrow.””
  • Southend on Sea – Support grows for library – Yellow Advertiser. “More than 200 people turned up to the Leigh Library Gardens last Saturday to show support for stopping proposals to change the library service.”

“The library could close completely if it switches to a voluntary run basis. “The librarians are well trained and help educate people, it will be difficult for the elderly or people with prams to get over to Kent Elms Library. Even if you have a car the parking over at Kent Elms is next to nothing.”

  • St Helens – Libraries in St Helens’ poorest communities cushioned from most severe cuts – St Helens Star. “Library opening hours will be reduced from 507.5 hours to 406 hours per week, however, the current number of 13 libraries across the borough will be maintained. Cuts at the community bases range from ten to 44 per cent and analysis shows a distinction between cuts between poorer and more well-off districts.” … “A total of 750 people – mainly from Central, Rainford, Chester Lane, Newton-le-Willows and Eccleston libraries – responded to a consultation. A council statement said the hours have been developed to minimise impact on communities.”
  • Wiltshire – Bradford on Avon boy Offa to help donkey library – Wiltshire Times. “Nine-year-old Misha Jensen is preparing to walk 177 miles along Offa’s Dyke to raise money for a donkey-hauled library in Ethiopia. The libraries take books to children and schools in rural areas of the African country, using a cart carrying a range of books and stools. They also carry food for the donkeys, so they can eat after pulling up in the shade.”
  • Worcestershire – Catshill library launches Bromsgrove Standard. “The new service now based in the school grounds on Meadow Road launched last Tuesday (April 16) and is run day-to-day by volunteers alongside a team from Worcestershire County Council.”.  Original library closed.