I am in Lyon tonight, courtesy of the Assocation des Bibliothecaires de France who I am speaking to tomorrow about the state of English public libraries.  As such, perhaps I am seeing things a bit more remotely than normal but here goes … It’s probably fair to say that the “live chat” session with Brian Ashley, who is responsible part-time for libraries for Arts Council England (ACE) was seen as a little bit of a disappointment by campaigners.  Brian was never going to say what was wanted by campaigners – he works for a national agency and admitting that things are as bad as many agree them to be would hardly be a good move for a man in his position.  What he has said, below, is that ACE will work with others to develop and share best practice.  Not exactly awe-inspiring but then a dispassionate observer would hardly be expecting it to be.  That the chat took place at all, and that Brian is brave enough to come to the Library Campaign meeting on 29th June (all invited …) is to his credit at least.

The CILIP rebranding debacle continues, with a meeting being called to discuss it by more than 100 members.  That the meeting will take place in London on a Friday has not impressed a few but this is where CILIP is based and is therefore, again, not surprising.  CILIP have amended the consultation so that members can suggest their own names.  Expect a lot of them to have the word “library” in it.  Personally, I hope that people lay off the President a bit – the unpaid Phil Bradley is becoming something of a lightning rod for criticism merely for being brave enough, at as I see it from France, to broach the subject and give his (remarkably non-partisan) view.



Arts Council England “live chat”

  • Live chat with Brian Ashley, director, LibrariesArts Council England. Topics covered include new People’s Network computers (not going to happen centrally – local authorities need to pay for them), ebooks (ACE is advising and “supporting” authorities), sharing best practice via ACE website, ACE is working towards having “resilient libraries and having the right skills in the workforce”, there is no library leadership as such but ACE is responsible for working on libraries “development”, “We’re really keen to hear a broad range of views, this is why I am answering questions today and will be out and about talking to others” (including at forthcoming Library Campaign meeting).

ACE Moderator: Question from Ian Anstice, Public Libraries News, by email and Twitter: Can you tell me if see public libraries as in crisis or thriving and give some reasons for your answer?

ACE Brian: Hello Ian. As is well recognised, and has been clearly reflected in our Envisioning research, libraries will need to adapt to numerous challenges and opportunities both now and in the future – and this is a phenomenon seen across the country. Some of this isn’t comfortable, but it is also encouraging libraries reflect on what their communities want from their services, and to modernise in light of that. Just look at the Libraries development initiative project in Derby, which helped users to find work by offering drama and art classes that boosted their confidence for future job interviews. When the picture varies so much across the country, it would not be helpful to describe public libraries in England as either thriving or in crisis. For the Arts Council, we feel that the research we have published provides the sector with the best possible opportunity to work together to demonstrate that libraries have a positive and vital role to play in people’s lives, and in supporting this country through difficult economic times.”

  • Disappointed by ACE live chat? Then join us! – Library Campaign.  “After the live webchat today with Brian Ashley, all I can say is – thank goodness there’s a chance to do it properly at our meeting with him on 29 June… A lot of questions went unanswered – and that’s just the very few that made it into the chat session! We don’t need a second Ed Vaizey. Yet too many of Brian’s answers are just like Ed’s. They boil down to: ‘Everything’s fine. And if it’s not, it’s nothing to do with us.” … “The Library Campaign wants to work with ACE on the real issues. We will approach the meeting on 29th June with goodwill, and make a genuine effort to understand ACE’s attitude. But this must be a working meeting. So much needs to be done – and soon.”

“What is needed  – as Desmond keeps on saying – is for someone to be put in charge – to be made accountable – to actually DO something – and particularly to explain to local councils what they could and should do. The Arts Council should never have been put near the public library service – it’s not what they do, they don’t understand the issues and would have no influence even if they did” Tim Coates by email.

“A significant number of people could not have their Q’s answered in the time.  A queue of questioners has been abruptly cut off.   Some bright people had taken pains to prepare questions.  They consider that their specific concerns are of great topical importance in the scheme of things – to be addressed, focused upon and answered properly.  But, like a cuckoo in a cuckoo-clock, ACE’s Mr Ashley pops out and, in two two ticks, is gone.” Shirley Burnham, via email.


  • Bring the Hulk to the Northlake Public Library – Indiegogo (USA).  Northlake Library have 9 foot Hulk statue donated.  Raised nearly $4,000k – nearly got all the computers they wanted.  4 days left in fundraising drive.
  • CILIP to debate rebrand on 28th June – BookSeller. “Members of CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Professionals, have successfully called a general meeting to discuss the organisation’s planned rebrand. The meeting will now take place on June 28th at CILIP’s London offices.” … “CILIP is spending £35,000 on its planned rebrand, working with brand agency Spencer du Bois to consider a new name that better represents the body and other changes.”
  • Connaissez-vous le CILIP ? – Quand les livres auront des dents … (France).  A somewhat bemused look at the rebranding controversy from France.
  • Notice of General Meeting of CILIP – CILIP. “A General Meeting of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals will be held in the Ewart Room at CILIP, 7 Ridgmount Street, London WC1E 7AE on Friday 28 June at 1.00 pm to discuss the motion:  “This General Meeting believes the current rebranding exercise should be halted, believing it to be a distraction from the urgent tasks of advocacy for the profession, and a waste of scarce resources.” This meeting has been called and the motion submitted under Bye-law 22 by a requisition of Individual Members of CILIP.” via email

  • Government will help you to take over a community pub – or maybe even the shop, pool or library – Independent.  “Communities are to be given grants and loans to allow them to buy and run local pubs, shops and other amenities that are under threat of closure, David Cameron announced today. Under the plans up to quarter of a billion pounds will be made available for villages, local estates or community groups to buy assets and run them as new social enterprises. The funding will also allow communities to take over council run swimming pools and libraries – especially if they are under threat of closure from local Government funding cuts.”.  Tax breaks for those giving money to social enterprises. No mention of timescales.

  • New Cross Learning – A 15 minute documentary on a volunteer-run library in Lewisham.  Regardless of your views on the pros and cons of volunteers, the goodness of the people keeping this library alive shines through.
  • Four new ways to use libraries – GovGirl.  Cafes, painting lending, libraries on Pinterest …
  • Public and Mobile Libraries Group UNCONFERENCE 2013 – PMLG. “15th June 2013 will witness the first ever PMLG Un-conference – discussing the topics that matter to you. Everyone who works in a library has their own areas of expertise, their own unique experiences and an individual perspective. The PMLG Un-conference will provide a platform for sharing ideas, thoughts and problems. As is the ethos of an un-conference, all the day’s activities will be sculpted by its participants, giving you the opportunity to choose the topics that capture the most relevant and up to date issues facing public and mobile libraries. And the best part… It’s absolutely free!” … Not limited to CILIP or PMLG members.
  • Unison and Unite to Vote on Strike Action – Union Library Workers.  “This summer, over 95,000 employees in Scotland will be asked to vote on strike action in response to being offered a 1% pay increase. Wages for local government employees have been frozen for the past two years. The government contends that a wage increase higher than 1% would result in job loss. Library workers are among the many employees represented by Unite and Unison, two unions that will be balloting members beginning in July.”


  • Bolton – “No government inquiry” into library closures – Bolton News. “The council’s own figures later revealed that borrowing from the remaining libraries fell by almost a fifth between April and September last year, while the number of library visitors fell by almost a quarter. Despite calls from objectors for the government to step in, last September culture minister Ed Vaizey said the Secretary of State was “not minded” to intervene — but asked for more evidence to be submitted from all parties. But after considering the information Maria Miller, Secretary of State for culture, media and sport has now ruled out holding a local inquiry into the closures.”
  • Brent – Campaigners celebrate the 61st anniversary of Barham Library – Brent and Kilburn Times.  “More than 100 people joined library campaigners in Wembley to celebrate their former reading room’s 61st anniversary. Both children and adults enjoyed a picnic in Barham Park to mark the day that Barham Library opened. Members of the Friends of Barham Library (FOBL) organised a book stall, games and a picnic lunch.”
  • Ceredigion Libraries’ delivery service – This is South Wales. “registered carers and those they look after in Ceredigion who find it hard to use the county council’s library services can now apply online to have books delivered to their door. The county’s libraries offer a flexible range of services to enable everyone to make use of them. A special Carers’ Booklist has been compiled in partnership with Ceredigion Carers Development Office.” … “Ceredigion Library does not charge overdue fines on books, talking books and music recordings for carers or the people they care for.”
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Library cut plans condemned – BBC. Unison attacks cuts to libraries, customer centres and registrars. 20 full time equivalent posts could go.
  • Fife – A life of writing sparked by town library … – Fife Today. “Val McDermid would never have become a writer had it not been for Kirkcaldy Central Library. As a kid she even borrowed her mum’s library ticket to get her hands on more novels”
  • Herefordshire – Facebook post – They are our libraries and museums. “”The council did not vote for a referendum on the 2013 cuts. Those will go ahead, with a bit more notice and debate of the detail than was previously going to be the case. The revised resolution committed the council to a high level of public consultation over this summer on the mix of future non-statutory public services required by Herefordshire residents for next year and beyond.” … “It is not possible for opposition or administration councillors to magic away the reality that, once the funds the council does have have been focused first on the services it is legally obliged to provide, there is little money left to pay for anything else.”
  • North Tyneside – Library set for move into new £3m centre – News Guardian. “North Tyneside Council has spent more than £3m transforming the old library in Northumberland Square into the state-of-the-art Customer First Centre – which includes a new library and the council’s customer services.”
  • North Yorkshire – Plan to move libraries to rail site is shelved – Gazette and Herald.  Malton and Norton libraries will merge but not near the station.  “Ryedale District Council says North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has “abandoned” a plan to merge the two branch libraries at Harrison House, the district council-owned building near Malton rail station, Janet Waggott, Ryedale’s chief executive, revealed.”
  • Nottingham – Library facelift will open new chapter for users and staff – This is Nottingham.  Aspley to be recarpeted and redecorated, with more computers.  “The Cinderhill Ladies’ Social Club meets at the library once a week. Club chairman Jan Bostock agreed that the library needed a lick of paint, but added: “The only thing is that the function room isn’t being done and it’s the room that really needs doing.”
  • Nottingham – Children’s author Kate Maryon to visit Mansfield Library – This is Nottingham. “Kate Maryon will be visiting Mansfield Library as part of her UK tour for new book ‘Invisible Girl’. The invitation-only event on Wednesday, June 12 is for year five and six pupils at Sutton Road Primary School and year seven pupils at the Brunts Academy, who will be invited to talk with the author in the library’s auditorium.”
  • Rotherham – New mobile library timetable is rolled out – Dinnington Today. “Rotherham’s mobile library is on the move with new locations and times to bring the service into the heart of communities for longer. The vehicle will visit 17 different sites around the borough with each stop lasting for at least an hour.”
  • Southwark – Canada Water Sally and Edith in Europe.  “The library was full to the top on the day I visited and people were being asked to get off the floor and find a chair. It was study for exam time and half term, although the majority of the people in there were teens and adults. My host Linda pointed out that their popularity from day one was partly due to the tiny sized homes many people lived in and the space the library can offer to these people. It was very quiet in there and it felt a bit like a rules rule place to me.” … “the theatre which holds about 160 people. It is managed by the local theatre group which gets funding for the staffing of it from the library but has to meet income targets which they do by organising events and shows.”.  Sounds like the cafe could do with some work though.