Some promising news from Herefordshire where the local MP reports that the cabinet member responsible for Culture says “It is my clear view that we can not close our Market Town Libraries as that would be a failing in our statutory duty”.  It looks like the 1964 legislation still has some teeth, which will come to the relief of many. Sad news for Sefton, though, where it looks likely that seven libraries will go.  “Mitigators” like abolishing the 80p reservation charge have been suggested but well. hmmm, I’m not sure that that is going to be quite the same somehow.

Something else I am not sure about is the rebranding that the professional association of librarians, CILIP, is going through.  Options for renaming include several names (including the execrable “The Knowledge People”) but none which actually have the word “library” in.  Well, technically (as its President Phil Bradley pointed out to me on Facebook), one could keep the name CILIP where the L stands for library but that’s it.  As Lauren Smith (who was briefly its Vice President) has pointed out, any trade whose professional body is too ashamed to speak its name is, well, not in a very good state.

Finally, more reactions have come in about the Arts Council England report. How it has been received appears to be:

  • Those with a vested interested in supporting it have supported it.
  • Those who are neutral or who have a dim view of Arts Council England think it is at best a missed opportunity and, at worst, the sign of bad times to come.

I am, sadly, in the second group.  However, I hope to be convinced otherwise by the ACE libraries director Brian Ashley when I am on panel talking to him on the 29th June.  Details below and I hope to see you there:


Library Campaign meeting


  • CILIP rebranding survey – CILIP.  Your chance to rename the professional librarian’s association – but don’t expect to see the word “library” in the name.  Options include Information UK, Information Professional UK, Info Pro UK, The Information Association, Information Matters UK and “Knowledge People”.  [Suggestions seen for their tagline on twitter include “Lemmings Soon To Be Dodos” – Ed.]
  • Ebooks in libraries for people with reading difficulties – Good Library Blog. “The expression that is used is “Reader Driven Access” and it means that even the smallest library can give access to literally millions of ebooks through their library website without having had to pay for the inventory . A payment -out of the library book fund- is made but only when a book is read and most of that money goes to the publisher and author of the book. It means that the book fund is used much more efficiently because money is not spent buying an annual license for a book that may not be read.”
  • Holistic approach to valuing our culture: a report to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – Dr Claire Donovan, Brunel University.  Includes responses from libraries. “This report provides a summary of a programme of work for an AHRC/ESRC Public Service Placement Fellowship ‘Measuring Cultural Value (Phase 2)’, based at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. It focuses on the part of this research that engaged directly with representatives of the cultural sector, and with their views on the idea of measuring the value of culture.”
  • Impact of reading for pleasure on blind and partially sighted adults and its implications for materials provision – Sage Journals. “The results reveal that for 82% of participants reading for pleasure was ‘very important’ especially to relax and 59% of participants read for more than 10 hours a week. Multiple reading formats including traditional hard copy and digital formats were used by 85% of participants. The implications for materials provision and presentation for libraries and charitable organisations are considered in light of the findings.”
  • Knowledge Hub – LGA.  The bulletin board for local government workers is likely to be closed in 30 days time due to budget cuts. “The organisation has decided that in the face of further cuts funding is unsustainable.  You have 30 days to make your voice heard, either directly or via senior managers on the future of Knowledge Hub. Please forward your thoughts to the LGA management team.” via email

  • Sharing our Story: the City of Darwin Libraries (Australia): things to note – it’s not self-service, there’s a lot of old tech (big emphasis on sellotape) but balanced against this is the space, well-stocked shelves and  lots of people are using it.  The place looks well maintained too.
  • Headstone reads ‘Unknown Man Died Eating Library Paste,’ 1908 – Dangerous Minds.  Apparently, library paste is something that includes flour, water …. and poisonous alum.
  • My Life as a Library RFID Consultant – Galecia (USA).  Interesting look at aspects of RFID.  It’s not just a box you know.
  • No-return eBook lending – Go to Hellman.  It’s apparently possible.
  • Should we send businesses back to the library? – Centre for Cities. “Yesterday, the Business & IP centre was launched at the Newcastle library. The scheme has been running at the British Library since 2006 and has proved itself to be a great first port of call for wannabe entrepreneurs.  Over seven years, the St.Pancras based Business & IP centre has seen 350,000 people walk through the door and 2,775 businesses established. It also helped create almost 3,500 jobs and add £47.1 million to national output. In March the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Arts Council England (ACE) granted £450,000 to develop a national network of Business & IP centres. The launch in Newcastle kick-starts this process, with Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Liverpool to follow soon.”
  • Soprano: the library in your hands – Capita. “Soprano is Capita’s library management system (LMS) web application.”
  • WMF panel: libraries need national e-lending model – BookSeller. “A national library e-lending model that pays publishers for every loan was one of the suggestions made at a discussion on sustainable models for libraries at a Westminster Media Forum on publishing this week (21st May). Tim Coates, c.e.o. of e-book company Bilbary, made the case for a model based on “Reader- Driven Access”, where libraries do not buy copies of e-books to lend to customers, but instead allow readers to access books from a national catalogue, with the library paying a fee to the publisher for each loan.”

“Now so many read on their Kindle, Nook, iPhone, the time to change the way libraries lend is now. Not in five years.” Comment on above article

Arts Council England report reactions (continued from previous post)

“Nobody disagrees with the content of this report. It’s what everyone has said, again and again, in endless previous unused reports. However, the context has changed. The library landscape has changed radically since the last few reports came out. Hundreds of communities have lost their ‘hub’. Hundreds more will do so. Some will be replaced by a hotch-potch of ‘community libraries’ that might do anything – or nothing much. Some people will have nothing but a long bus-ride they can’t afford, to a mega-hulk library in a distant city centre. The change is already striking. And the trend will accelerate for some years to come. Maybe all this is wonderful. Maybe not. The point is that ACE seemingly hasn’t even noticed it is happening at all. I know it’s a frightful bore compared to playing Fantasy Library. But somebody needs to pick out the issues and address the problems in this completely new library world. If ACE won’t do it, give the money to people who will.” Laura Swaffield, Library Campaign

  • Envisioning the future – Phil Bradley’s weblog.  “I read through the report and I didn’t really find anything to disagree with. And really that’s my main disagreement. If you are going to produce a paper looking at what is going to happen to libraries in the future it should be bold, exciting, controversial and – well – visionary”.  Rather, libraries need to embrace new technology and reinvent themselves.
  • What’s the future for the UK’s local libraries? – Melville House. “at this time of deep insecurity, are the four priority areas really the best ideas for the future that ACE, and all those they interviewed, can come up with?I’d love to see a list with gusto; one that didn’t seem to contain a strong feeling of defeat within its objectives. Each point seems defensive, as though answering a number of criticisms”

“The Reading Agency looks forward to contributing to the Arts Council’s action plan resulting from the its report on libraries.  The charity focuses on practical strategies to help libraries innovate and work collectively, in the interests of the public having better reading services. Our work can contribute to the report’s identified priorities:

·         Libraries as community hubs:  our pilot Reading Activists programme with 18 library authorities is nearing roll out. This can be built on – with education and cultural partners –  to give the rising generation a real say in shaping future library services relevant to their community .

·         Digital development: the Summer Reading Challenge’s Booksorter is a platform for a new kind of literacy support,  and two collaborations with publishers can be built on to take libraries forward digitally, running alongside the Sieghart e-lending review. These are our digital skills sharing project with the Publishers’ Association,  and Library 21, an R&D project to offer the public unprecedented access to content in the library building.

·         Sustainable libraries: this June we launch, with the Society of Chief Librarians, a new Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme in England’s libraries. This has major potential to develop further, to lever in health partners’ investment and to help people benefit from improved health services from libraries.

We hope the action plan will mesh Arts Council strategy with the Society of Chief Librarians’ national offers. We are partners in these, aiming to help libraries work as a national network, sharing best practice and costs.  The Reading Agency  believes passionately in the social importance of libraries, and like all library supporters we’re  finding it deeply frustrating to see the effect of on-going reductions in library budgets. We’ll be doing all we can to use  our model to help make  best use of the money that is available, and believe it is vital that innovation and development keeps happening.” The Reading Agency, via email.


Local news

“Campaigners from Save Bolton Libraries and Bolton Civic Trust have been advised by their MP that he will support  a formal complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman concerning the failure of the Minister and the DCMS to respond to their detailed submission requesting that the Secretary of State for Culture should intervene following the council’s closures of five libraries in or serving areas of severe deprivation. The original request for intervention was lodged in February 2012 and a further submission, in response to a provisional indication of unwillingness to intervene (based on acceptance of the council’s arguments without any apparent consideration of the opposing case), was prepared with the help of a QC and the Manchester University’s Legal Advice Centre and delivered to the DCMS last December. Apparently, it was lost by the Department and they were asked to re-submit. More than three months later and some twelve months after the completion of the programme of closures, there has been no response or any offer to engage with the campaign group and Civic Trust, who have expressed willingness to discuss the matter with the DCMS and the council. The matter must be brought to resolution, as the delay in achieving this is unfair to all sides.” Bolton- Statement from Save Bolton Libraries and Bolton Civic Trust via email

  • Bournemouth – Library workers raising cash for food banks – Daily Echo. “Medi Bernard, Service and Strategy Manager, decided to she wanted to do more to encourage people to give donations to the Food Banks in Bournemouth, as she had heard how over-subscribed they have been. She said: “The Kinson Library was already a collection point for donations to the food banks, but I thought it made sense to allow all Bournemouth Libraries to collect them.””
  • Croydon – Shh! Laings win Croydon Libraries – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign.  “Buried on the council website is the following key decision document, dated 23rd May, outlining that Cllr Pollard has agreed to accept the refined final tender of JLIS to run Croydon Libraries, commencing 1st October 2013.”.  Contract is for 8 years. “Why so shy Cllr Pollard? Buried on the council website and no press release to alert the public. Not a notice in a local library today. Released just before a bank holiday weekend at the start of half term.”
  • Croydon – Pollard hands £30m library deal on a plate to builders Laings – Inside Croydon. “Croydon’s secretive council is at it again, this time sneaking out a report just before the Bank Holiday weekend that announces that Tim Pollard, the deputy leader of the Conservative-run council, has decided that he will award an eight-year contract to run the borough’s public libraries, worth many millions of pounds of public cash, to John Laing Integrated Services, JLIS – a subsidiary of the building firm. No debate. No details. No discussion.”
  • Croydon – Labour seek views, including on libraries – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. “Given that Croydon’s Conservative Councillor, Tim Pollard,  has taken the decision to outsource our libraries to JLIS what Croydon Labour do now is even more important. The fact that this document containing the decision is buried deep on the council website, the absence of any public announcement and there being no mention of this decision in Croydon libraries  today is a fair indication that Croydon Council want this to go under the radar.”
  • Devon – County Council library award – This is the West Country.  The “library service scooped ‘Library of the Year’ title at the Bookseller Industry Awards.Judges praised Devon libraries for the huge range of services they offered and a ‘real community service with a strategic county-wide approach.’ The council’s head of libraries, Ciara Eastell, described the award as a ‘huge honour’ and ‘enormous privilege’.”
  • Herefordshire – Protestors arrive in Hereford – Hereford Times. “Councillors will later today vote on a new budget that could signal the end for many of the county’s libraries and museums. Protestors, many carrying posters and banners, gathered outside Hereford Shirehall this morning to make their views known. The Hereford Times will be carrying a live blog from the meeting – due to start this afternoon.”

“As we expected it would not be legitimate to close the Libraries and I am sorry that you have been worried that this might happen. We cannot be too careful as it is clear that they will be open for shorter hours unless it is possible to arrange for other perhaps volunteer groups to cover any extension. I confirm with you all that the Masters House project is continuing and when completed will include a provision for a Library for Ledbury. Officers met yesterday with representatives of the HLF to re affirm the councils position. It is my clear view that we can not close our Market Town Libraries as that would be a failing in our statutory duty in accordance with the 1964 Act. The reduction in support from Westminster and rising costs in social care will mean that in all these libraries the hours of opening will be reduced. The joining up of services in one location supports better efficiency, convenience and value for money. Working with user groups, other public bodies and community will sustain and enhance these valued services in the future.” Herefordshire – Letter from Cllr Roger Phillips, Cabinet member for Cultural Services to Bill Wiggin MP.

“Council chiefs have also proposed leasing the library to a charitable community group for £1 for the next five years. Under the terms of the agreement, the county council would continue to provide a library service within the building supported by paid staff and volunteers and reduce running costs by renting out space in the library.”