To the surprise of no-one, the DCMS has officially declared that it will not be intervening in Bolton (5 out of 15 libraries closed) and Isle of Wight (5 out of 11 closed).  If one wonders what the department actually does with its time, it seems you’re not alone – George Osborne rumoured to be considering abolishing the department regardless of what the completely-invisible-where-libraries-are-concerned DCMS boss Maria Miller tweets to the contrary.  Her deputy, Ed Vaizey has gone on record to say that libraries are not in crisis but are, rather, “thriving” so there does seem to be some history of denial in that department.


  • Anxious, depressed? Help is at hand from your local library – Reading Agency (press release.  “This week, public libraries are launching a new service called Reading Well: Books on Prescription to help people feel better through self-help reading.  This means you can go to your library for books which experts and many GPs have endorsed as helping with conditions such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, phobias and some eating disorders. The scheme comes from independent charity The Reading Agency, the Society of Chief Librarians and local library services.   The official launch of the Reading Well: Books on Prescription scheme takes place on 4th June at The National Association of Primary Care, attended by Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries Ed Vaizey, and Minister of State for Care and Support, Norman Lamb.”
  • Budget cuts put pressure on libraries, communities – Scoop (New Zealand). “The Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) is challenging local authorities to think about the long-term future of their communities before cutting library budgets.” … ““In this digital age libraries are constantly evolving in order to provide the latest technologies but also to provide much needed access to Government services, job seeking assistance and basic digital literacy skills. Budget cuts mean many libraries are already struggling to deliver quality services to their communities. For many libraries, there is simply nothing left to cut”.”

  • Creepy House trailer – Summer Reading Challenge 2013
  • Decline and fall of SYRUP – Good Library Blog / Tim Coates. “the main cause of the decline of the public library service is the librarians … I was referring particularly to the public library service and to those people who claim to be professional public librarians but actually don’t work in libraries and help the public … Library Association wasn’t a bad name – there is a very prestigious “International Federation of Library Associations” – but that doesn’t suit the extraordinary plonkers who rule the library office pen and paperclips these days”
  • Depressed? Reading may be the cure – Gazette. “Launching on June 4, the Reading Well Books on Prescription scheme, a partnership between the Reading Agency charity and the Society of Chief Librarians, will see libraries across England stocking a core list of 30 self-help titles to help people with common conditions such as depression, anxiety, phobias and eating disorders.”. 84% (127 of 151) of England’s library authorities have signed up.
  • Football Star Lampard to Champion Summer Reading Challenge – Reading Agency (press release). “As a father of two, footballer Frank Lampard is very much aware of the importance of child literacy.  As he launches his new children’s book series Frankie’s Magic Football on 6th June Frank Lampard is pledging his support for The Summer Reading Challenge, in an effort to inspire more families and boys to read.”  … “Lampard’s support will be particularly important in inspiring boys at primary school to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge. There is long-standing concern about boys’ reading” See Lampard pushes Summer Reading Challenge – BookSeller.

“I’m proud to be a Champion for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, and that Frankie’s Magic Football is included on the books to read list. Reading with my children is incredibly important to me and a wonderful way to spend time together as a family, exploring magical worlds, through books and stories. I hope that many boys, and girls, will be inspired this summer to take up The Reading Agency’s Challenge and enjoy all of the brilliant books available to them at their local library.”Frank Lampard

  • How councils can take action to bridge the equality gap – Guardian / Public service reform hub. Leader of Camden Council writes article: “where we have closed library services, we have saved money and have been able to finance community run libraries start-up funding.”
  • In the Digital Age, What Becomes of the Library? – Mind/Shift (USA). Long and excellent article on how US libraries are facing the challenge of technological change. Nashville’s “Main Public Library, located in a stately building in the heart of downtown, has a children’s section filled with comfortable sitting areas, oversized art, and a state-of-the-art theater for puppet shows and interactive story time.” … “One of the library’s most unique — and analog — features is the librarian, an expert who will help research topics or find answers for free.”

“I think there’s something so magical about being literally surrounded by books, able to browse and wander and discover independently. I love the community of it; we are literally borrowing/sharing these books, and the librarians are excited to help you discover and learn.”

““Ask yourself what you want to see in your library. Talk to your librarian. Then, advocate for those changes. You are to blame if your library doesn’t have what you want.””

  • Is Osborne about to abolish the culture department? – New Statesman. “When George Osborne announced the seven government departments that had agreed “in principle” to cuts of up to 10 per cent in next month’s Spending Review, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) was a notable absence. Notable because the department is not one of those ring-fenced from cuts, nor is Culture Secretary Maria Miller one of the cabinet militants (dubbed the “National Union of Ministers”) bidding to blunt Osborne’s axe. But an answer to this conundrum could be at hand: the DCMS may not exist at all after the review. ” … “We’ll find out who’s right when Osborne’s big day arrives in less than a month (26 June).”
  • Join a live chat with our Director, Libraries, Brian Ashley, on 5 June – Arts Council England.  “We are offering you the chance to put your questions to Brian Ashley our Director, Libraries, in a live chat on Wednesday 5 June between 12 and 1pm. Whether you work in the libraries sector or are just passionate about libraries, now is your chance to put your question to Brian.”
  • NYC Public Libraries Under Attack, Facing Privatization and Budget Cuts – Truth Out (USA). “Now that these buildings have “done their jobs” (in FIRE sector terms) they can do one more thing for finance and real estate: be killed for private sector fun and profit.” … ““More than 60 libraries will have to close their doors and there will be massive layoffs resulting in disastrous cuts to hours and services.””
  • Public service ethos and union mobilisation: a case study of the public library service – Steve Davies / Online Research @ Cardiff.  A well-reserached look at the public service ethos in public libraries, including interviews with library staff and the results of an online survey.  Looks at public libraries history too, including some useful data on usage and funding. Steve Davies is involved in surveys for Unison. [He also calls Public Libraries News “highly regarded” so I like him – Ed.]
  • Why don’t I visit the public libraries? – Water water everywhere (Australia).

  • Why virtual lending is a political minefield – Irish Times (Eire). “The last time I visited my local library more people were sitting on chairs with tablet devices than were browsing the bookshelves. It would have been easy to be assume that they were just taking advantage of the library’s free wifi, but when I spoke to the librarian at the desk she said that interest in the library’s digital catalogue had grown exponentially since the previous Christmas but that users of the service still came to the library, to read or seek advice about the system.”


New ideas noticed

Local news

“Many Bolton residents will be angry that Ed Vaizey has decided not to intervene or even meet with them following Bolton Council’s decision to close five libraries (three co-located with primary schools) in or serving areas of severe deprivation. These closures follow the closing previously of another five libraries, four of which were also in seriously deprived areas. Is it not hypocritical of the minister not to intervene when, in opposition, he had been so vociferous in his criticism of closures?  Mr Vaizey had then described closures in areas of deprivation as being “cultural vandalism”. It seems that such decisions are made in the comfort of Whitehall offices without any official bothering to step out and actually meet the people affected by the closures. There is a vast chasm  between those struggling in deprived areas of towns such as Bolton and the faceless officials in the DCMS  who, besides taking nearly 18 months to reach this poorly considered decision, at one stage even managed to lose a major part of our submission” Geoffrey Dron, Save Bolton Libraries Campaign.