It looks like Welsh councils are soon to face cuts on an English scale, if they haven’t already done so.  It also seems that, like in many parts of England, council leaders regard libraries as a non-statutory service which can be “wiped out”.  The chief executive of Locality, Steve Lawler, argues in an interview that his organisation has been doing his best to avoid services in England going the same way.  I’d recommend you read his statements as they are not as single faceted as those on either side of the debate may wish them to be.  it is certainly more considered than the rather gung ho recent statements of Eric Pickles on the subject.

There have been a few nice new libraries recently and their impact is noticeable.  Liverpool reports their splendid new library has attracted 3,000 new joiners in a month and that it is becoming a tourist attraction.  The second of three new libraries has opened in Telford and Wrekin.  In addition, yet another new library has been announced in East Sussex, with one of the reasons given being the hoped for regeneration of the town centre caused by the investment.  This hope for libraries may or may not be long-term, depending on if they are given sufficient funding: something I know that very few expect from George Osborne’s announcement on further cuts to councils.  But at least there is hope.




Response to Ed Vaizey's "There's No Crisis" statement. By Theresa McCracken

Response to Ed Vaizey’s “There’s No Crisis” statement. By Theresa McCracken


  • Bedtime With Puritans and Wild Things – New York Times (USA). ““There are no good books only for children.” The exhibition argues, though, that “books for young people have stories to tell us about ourselves.” “Behind every children’s book,” we read, “is a vision of childhood: a shared understanding of what growing up is all about.””
  • Blagger’s Guide To: The Carnegie Medal – Independent. “Malorie Blackman, who was appointed as the new Children’s Laureate earlier this month, and immediately criticised Gove for his “prescriptive” curriculum, and this Government for presiding over the closure of libraries. But hey, what would a bunch of award-winning children’s writers who felt excluded from reading when they were children know, eh?”
  • Brief guide to the best sites for finding freely usable images – Library Marketing Toolkit.  Always useful.
  • Dubai libraries: A paradise for book lovers – Gulf News (Dubai). “Today, there are eight public libraries across Dubai, including an electronic library in Umm Suqeim, housing everything from references and periodicals to children’s books and video and audio recordings … the Dubai public libraries seek to supplement the incredible advancement of the emirate and the nation in every field, especially that of culture and knowledge,” says Abdulrahman Ibrahim, the director of the libraries …To that end, the libraries’ collection grew 8.7 per cent in 2012, acquiring over 37,000 new material over the past year, including books, CDs and other materials. Much of these come from book fairs”
  • Eric Pickles: ‘more local heroes should take charge of their destiny’ – Guardian / Insight and Engagement Hub.  Government minister advocates for the unpaid to replace local government workers in libraries, as well as taking over shops and pubs. “Our new Community Rights are putting a spring back in the step of every communities’ ambitions. Gone are the days when people felt powerless as local shops, pubs and libraries closed around them.”
  • Every Day I’m Tumbling – Public Libraries Online.  Looking at using Tumblr in libraries.
  • First Vending Machine Library Opens In Santa Clara County, California – Taxi (USA). “The machine, bought with a grants from ‘Friends of the Sunnyvale Public Library’ and ‘FIRST 5’, a public agency that distributes funding from Califonia’s Tobacco Tax, will serve “patrons in north Sunnyvale who may find it more convenient and accessible to check out books and other materials in their neighborhood, rather than traveling to Sunnyvale’s central library”. The vending machine will contain 220 books and materials for children up to five-years-old and their parents. Books can be borrowed by simply scanning a library card, and can be returned through a nearby return bin.”
  • Five Library Themed Gifts – Novelicious. “I’m devastated by the budget cuts which threaten many of our libraries, and I’m delighted that there are so many brilliant gifts and accessories that celebrate them. Come on, let’s show some library love! ” … five gifts include £5 cotton bag with quote, £11.99 personal library kit (mmm, with datestamp), namebadge (only £3.95), mug (says “silence please”, mmm) and a rather nice necklace at only £5.85 [No, I’m not on commission – Ed.]
  • Jakarta’s Public Libraries, Heaven-on-Earth for all Book Lovers – Jakarta By Train (Indonesia). “at the first floor of library there are some space to read magazines and newspapers, and at the second floor there’s the main library, the room is very nice and comfortable with severals cozy couches and chairs so visitors and members of library can enjoy reading their favorite books, journals or other publications. and off course the area is equipped with air condition, public wifi, free mineral waters for refreshment. With all those luxuries, I bet every book lovers would love to spend hours in this library.”
  • Libraries departments could be wiped out under swingeing budget cuts, council leader warns – Wales Online. “”Gwynedd council lead Dyfed Edwards is reported to have told the Welsh Local Government Association conference in Cardiff that the ring-fencing of budgets in areas such as education and social services meant that core areas including libraries would have to be looked at “in their entirety”.  Reported as Warning of major threat to Welsh library services – BookSeller.

“What we are going to have to do in local government is map out exactly what we think the effect our budgets will have on frontline services. The equation takes into account our education and social services are protected, which is about 80% of our budget. “Then we have about 15-20% of the budget, taking into account other ring-fenced grants, to play with. If we have to make savings there, we cannot continue shaving off here and there – we will have to look at services in their entirety.” Gwynedd council leader Dyfed Edwards points to libraries as a service that could be entirely cut [ignoring their statutory status, like so many do – Ed.]

  • Library’s Rocky Balboa – New York Times (USA). Library lover collecting signatures was “soon swarmed by shoppers muttering in outrage that, good grief, why would anybody would want to close libraries? Soon her big shopping bag bulged with a couple of hundred forms. Ms. Gutierrez has become legend among New York Public Library officials for her obsessive approach to collecting pledges of support during the system’s annual advocacy campaign in May and June to avert proposed budget cuts for the coming fiscal year.”

    BookStart Image

    The rather wonderful BookStart display Ilkley Library in Bradford.

  • National Bookstart Week 2013 – BookStart. “Come along to a National Bookstart Week event near you to discover the magical world of fairy tales. With thousands of free events for preschool children and their families, there will be stories, rhymes and lots of other fun activities. We’re also giving away, thanks to the support of publishers Child’s Play, copies of the classic Ugly Duckling story, beautifully illustrated by Masumi Furukawa.  Events are taking place in libraries, nurseries, children’s centres and bookshops and all over the country –  a great way to celebrate reading together and families everywhere getting involved in their child’s early learning.”
  • New chapter – Carnegie UK Trust. “We have decided this year to try to pull together the evidence on the social impact of public libraries to produce a simple advocacy tool. To achieve this we have appointed Christine Rooney-Browne to work with us and others as a Carnegie Associate over the next few months.”
  • Questions to LocalityQuestion Everything. Chief Executive of 80% Government funded charity Locality, Steve Lawler, on its role in libraries. “Locality members work predominantly in deprived communities, and we believe that people in those communities are too often denied https://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5344&action=editresources and opportunities to fulfil their potential. We see literacy, access to learning, and education as one means of redressing this and therefore believe libraries have a vital role especially in deprived communities. “
“Our mission is very different [to the Big Society].  It is certainly not just about volunteers – it is to make every community a place of possibility, through social action, community enterprise and community asset ownership. This means paid staff alongside volunteers, community action alongside state action. We have recently published a statement about what we stand for: http://locality.org.uk/news/locality-years/ … We are NOT saying that ‘social entrepreneurs’ are our preferred model for libraries. We are saying that community-run libraries, where possible including community enterprise elements, should be a valuable part of the mix, to safeguard and enhance library services” Steve Lawler, Chief Exec, Locality

  • Local libraries – Great video on the reasons for libraries [And not just because I get quoted – Ed.]
  • Summer Reading Programme – Kiwilibrarian (New Zealand).  Some beautifully decorated libraries here.
  • Vaizey must be brought to book on library cuts – Scottish Sun. “This week I was invited to speak at a UK conference of chief librarians on the topic of social justice. You may be surprised, but it gave me the opportunity to get stuck into the UK Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey who spoke straight after me.” … “like his party he is little more than a cultural vandal, exuding privilege, power and smarminess.” … “£820million investment figure did not take inflation into account or that four years ago the budget was £1.2billion.”

“Libraries may not provoke a rush to the barricades, but their drip-drip decimation will turn communities into ghost towns.”

  • Vinyl Lending Library to Open in London – East Village Radio. “the new non-profit that will rely on donations and hopes to create an “opportunity for vinyl lovers to share their passion for music with others and gain access to a world of records whilst still being able to listen to their own.”
  • Why Are Zombies So Good for Libraries? – School Library Journal (USA). Excellent look at the usage of zombie stories and themes to publicise libraries and the reasons why using them is good.

Local news

  • Birmingham – Friends of the Library of Birmingham – Communities against the Cuts.  On April 9th, the leader and deputy leader of the Council decided to cancel the initial attempts to find outside bidders to run the new Library of Birmingham. Yet there has been no categorical assurance that this public library, costing £188 of public funds to build, will remain public. There has been confusing talk from the leader of no immediate plans to privatise the library, combined with the information that they are ’working with the development trust on further operating arrangements and responsibilities’. Given that everything else in the public sector is up for grabs, and given that the Labour Council is now talking openly of privatising leisure centres, why should the Library of Birmingham be any different? The campaigning needs to continue until its future as a public resource is assured.”
  • East Sussex – £1.6m library given the green light – Argus. ““We know from the feedback we’ve received from the public that this is an eagerly-awaited development which will help to regenerate this part of the town centre, and receiving planning permission is an important step forward.”
  • Essex – Take a ride inside Essex’s mobile library – This is Total Essex. Great summary of the job of the mobile library driver.  “”It’s a great way for the children to experience a library rather than having to travel and it gets them into books early.” The mobile library, which stocks around 3,000 books inside its small, lilac interior, visits a wide variety of locations.”
  • Liverpool – New Liverpool Central Library brings in 100,000 visitors – Liverpool Echo. 3000 new members “More than 100,000 people have visited Liverpool’s  new Central Library in the first month since it opened. Up to 20,000 people a week have gone through the doors of the building, in William Brown Street,  since it re- opened to the public last month”
  • Middlesbrough – Ant and Dec’s SMTV Live scriptwriter, Dean Wilkinson, helps celebrate library birthday – Northern Echo. “The Friends of Marton Library are holding a celebration to mark its 50th anniversary at the library in The Willows, Marton, on Saturday from 9.30am to 12.30pm. The event will form part of the 2013 Middlesbrough Literary Festival and will feature a poet, a filmmaker, a screenwriting workshop for children with writer Dean Wilkinson as well as a birthday cake cut by Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Tom Blenkinsop.”
  • Suffolk – Eye: Town council considering options over grant offer for library move – EADT. “Suffolk County Council has put forward the money to relocate Eye’s library in Buckshorn Lane to a new premises in Cross Street. The town council met on Wednesday to discuss the proposals but a section of councillors have concerns the authority will be over stretching itself by taking on the money.”
  • Telford and Wrekin – Second of three new Telford libraries opens – BBC. “The Dawley library will form part of the £16m Phoenix Academy complex which opens to the public in September. The town’s existing library will close in August. A new library opened in Wellington last year and a third will open in Telford town centre in 2014. The library in Madeley is also about to be refurbished, the council said.”