I can’t write much about the Umbrella Conference I attended today as website issues have delayed publishing this post enough as it is.  One thing, however, I should report is that Annie Mauger, the chief exec of CILIP, told me at lunch that, if the rebranding is allowed to continue after the imminent special meeting then the word “library” will be included in the suggested new name.  This name is currently going through legal trademarking but will be unveiled before the AGM and then a vote on it will take place to decide whether to adopt it or stick with “CILIP”.  

I haven’t commented much on the rebranding debate because, frankly, I see it as a distraction.  To even consider names without the word “library” in makes little sense to a public librarian such as I.  Look at the name of this blog:  the words “Public Libraries” are in it because that is how we are known.  It may not be a perfect brand name to those (and I am one of them) into whizzy new devices and online-with-everything but as far as the public is concerned, it’s the only we’ve got.  We should cherish it, promote it and change the meaning of it by our actions if we must but to deny it seems, at least to me, odd.  Rather, I would argue we need to be proud of it … and I am glad to note that no matter what happens at least the word will be in the title of the librarians’ professional association. Anyway, with no detriment meant to anyone on either side of the debate (apart from those who have been personally unpleasant to Phil Bradley who need to think about their behaviour) we have other battles to fight other than about our name.

Speaking of which, the sheer number of references to Lincolnshire below shows how important libraries are to their communities.  If you’re cutting libraries then there’s going to be publicity, whatever you darn well call them.  The public knows what they are, and how important they are too.



“The Arts Council is investing £300,000 towards a new £1.3 million partnership with DCLG (who are providing £600,000) and the British Library (who are providing £367,000). These funds will build the potential of libraries to bring communities together and be the catalysts of local economic growth and enterprise, supporting stronger, more integrated communities by improving social mobility in local areas. The British Library has developed a successful model on this basis – the Business & IP Centre in London – which supports small businesses and entrepreneurs, and which is being extended to six other city libraries across the UK … 10 awards of a maximum of £45,000 each are available. More information on how to apply can be found here.”


  • ‘Big society’ network given extra £1m grant despite years of failure – Guardian.
  • Day in the life of an Anythink Library – USA.  A really impressive American library. Points to note – there’s a tree growing apparently inside, a deliberate living room feel including a fireplace, spaces for groups to meet, new furnishings.
  • Is It Time to Get Rid of Libraries?Frontpage Mag (USA).  Writer not impressed plea to save libraries does not mention books.  Agrees they used to serve a function but now thinks they should close. “The library is rapidly becoming a community center rather than a place with books. This is just the natural next step in the process. Being a book lover, it’s hard for me to say this, but if this is what the librarians have in mind for libraries, then it may be time to kill the funding and shut them down.”

  • Let’s keep doing it by the book: why we shouldn’t cut libraries – Guardian / Service Delivery Hub. Alan Gibbons and Paul Stainthorp argue against the deep cuts to Lincolnshire’s library provision.
  • Libraries must ‘face reality’, warns Ashley – BookSeller. “Libraries must adapt to the realities facing them in a “complex” landscape, Brian Ashley, who takes on the role of Arts Council England’s (ACE) libraries director from today (1st July), has said”. See comments.


Brian made no effort to justify what he described as “distributed leadership” which is is in effect an euphemism for “no leadership” at the national level. Brian is a very pleasant guy but don’t look to the ACE (and the DCMS. SCL. CILIP and the LGA) to fill what the politicians rightly described as the “leadership void”. Ironically, both the SCL and CILIP have also talked about the need for strategic leadership as have privately, several chief librarians. What did surprise me is that ACE does not seem to have worked out what it should be doing to support the sector over the next five years and that Brian was unable to give any indication of the desired outcomes. In his evidence to the CMS Select Committee, Alan Davey said the DCMS needed to sort out its role. The same seems to apply to ACE.”Desmond Clarke

Public libraries are in financial difficulties everywhere. They are also expected to do more and for more people. If library revenue from taxes is drying up – what can public libraries do? They can try to generate additional income from existing and new services. But are these income activities compatible with what public libraries stand for? I would like to hear your opinions on this – for my Masters dissertation in Information and Library Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. If you can take the time, please follow the link below to a short electronic questionnaire; it takes less than ten minutes to complete. The survey is anonymous and nobody will be identifiable. Everybody working in a public library context in the UK is welcome to take this survey – library assistants, library fundraisers or managers. All results will be made public on the University’s repository at www.strathprints.strath.ac.uk. Please follow this link: https://strathsci.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_7UOcWSey01YYxAp. Please contact me via prb12163@uni.strath.ac.uk or hartwig.pautz@arcor.de if you have questions or concerns. Your help is much appreciated!”

  • When libraries become retailers – Good E Reader (USA).  Libraries are starting to sell books by placing a “buy it now” button on their catalogues.  Questions whether this is a good or bad thing.

Local news

  • Birmingham – Gallery: Goodbye Birmingham Central Library – Birmingham Mail. “Birmingham Central Library opened in January 1974 – designed by Birmingham architect John Madin in the ‘Brutalist’ style – and was Europe’s largest non-national library. The structure was once criticised by Prince Charles as “looking more like a place for burning books, than keeping them” but in recent years campaigners failed to acquire listed status to protect it from demolition.”
  • Birmingham – Shelf Sacrifice – Paradise Circus.  “I noticed where-ever I’ve gone, one place I would always seek out is the city’s libraries. Unconsciously looking for a base, a home. Drawing solace in the stacks of books, furtive glances, and gentle quiet. I’m not one to resist change and understand the building was expensive to run, but allow me a few moments.  Central Library was more than a building to me it was home.
  • Birmingham – Central Library: the last hour – Flickr / John Kirriemuir. “39 years is not a long time for a building, but this one, opened by Harold Wilson in 1974, has been unfit for purpose, and a grim place to view, visit and work in, for many years. Some, staff and visitors, will miss it; many won’t. However, the library and the building which houses it are not the same thing.” Lots of pictures of the final hour of what was the largest public library in Western Europe. [Pictures show a remarkably ugly and brutalist building – Ed.] “Notable that, ten minutes before this building closed for the final time, the PCs were still being heavily used.”

“Well, bye then. You were a much loved, and essential, service inside an unloved building. Better luck inside the new one.”

  • Bristol – This is the worst blow in hundreds of years – This is Bristol / Letter.  Anger at renting out floors of the Central Library to a Free School.   “In 2006 , in the very year when the Central Library building was celebrating its centenary, and Bristol trying to be recognised as EuropeanCity of Culture the council had the brilliant idea of closing it and moving it to an empty store in Broadmead. This caused such a furore amongst ordinary Bristolians that the plan was dropped. Let us hope that this idotic attack on the Central Library can also be sent packing in the same manner
  • Croydon – Consulted but did they listen? You decide!– Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. “We’ve searched all the comments input for any mention of privatisation or outsourcing.  To save you time we’ve highlighted the bit where a sole resident asked for our libraries to be outsourced. And, whilst looking through you will notice the data is sorted alphanumerically.The data is so poorly input and sorted so crudely that comments, clearly made on a specific library are disassociated from the named library or irrelevant as split from the preceding points made. This further demonstrates that there was never any real intention of considering the suggestions made.  This was, without a doubt, a sham consultation.”
  • Halton – New £11m library at Castlefields Community Centre – Runcorn and Widnes World. “launched inside the £11million Castlefields Community Centre aimed to appeal to younger readers. Clr Phil Harris Halton Council’s executive board member for libraries, said: “If parents need to fill a spare hour with their children they should come down to the community centre library to choose some bedtime reading.“
  • Lincolnshire – MP John Hayes says closure of Deepings Library would be ‘unthinkable’ – Local. “It would be unthinkable not to have a library facility at the heart of two communities, particularly a growing and substantial community. I think the council needs to think again
  • Lincolnshire – Reaction to library consultation – Market Rasen Mail. Campaign group Save Our Libraries has expressed their disappointment at the news Lincolnshire County Council will be going ahead with the library consultatuion. “It’s the market towns and villages that will be hit hardest by library cuts,” said Spokesman Paul Stainthorp.”
  • LincolnshireCounty Council approves consulting on plans to close libraries – Local.A proposal to go to consultation was unanimously approved by members in the last few minutes. Last week a community and public safety scrutiny committee has put forward a recommendation to the executive that it goes back to the drawing board and scraps plans to go out to consultation.
  • Lincolnshire – County council’s call to volunteers to help run Lincolnshire’s library service – This is Lincolnshire.local communities are being asked to either take over their local library or create their own, with professional support from the council”.
  • Lincolnshire – Fighting to save library – This is Grimsby.  “Shocked Caistor residents are worried about the situation, as the heritage centre relies heavily on the footfall the library provides to get people in.”
  • Lincolnshire – Glimmer of hope in fight to save Deepings library – Rutland Times. “County councillor for Deeping St James Phil Dilks (Lab) is not a member of the scrutiny committee but gave a speech, calling the plans “flawed and unnecessary”. He said afterwards: “We have won the first battle to save Deepings Library but we will have to wait and see what happens when the executive meet. I spoke at the scrutiny meeting and there was clearly real concern these proposals weren’t the way forward.””
  • Lincolnshire – Libraries consultation – Lincolnshire County Council. “The initial proposal is that there will continue to be 15 council-staffed libraries, as well as a wide range of online services such as e-books and audio books. At the same time, local communities are being given the opportunity to either take over their local library or create their own with professional support from the council. Despite the need for change, the council’s ambition is to keep all of Lincolnshire’s libraries open. However, this is only going to work with the support of our local communities. This consultation will help to gauge whether that appetite is there.”
  • Lincolnshire – Libraries under threat as council bids to save budget – Horncastle News.
  • Lincolnshire – Observer: I hope libraries haven’t reached their final – Boston Standard. “I have used the library for most of my adult life and have always found the staff helpful and knowledgeable; no disrespect to possible volunteers but I don’t think they will be able to give that same service. Mind you, an open library is much better than a closed one!” “You may be lucky enough to end up with only a half-hour bus ride to the nearest council-run library – the county council thinks this should be good enough for you.”
  • Lincolnshire – Town support service fears rocky road – Spalding Today. “A care service in Crowland that has answered more than 95 calls for help since April is concerned it may have to move again should the library where it is based reduce its opening hours. Crowland Cares has been based at the library in Hall Street for the past five years, manning the desk each morning five days a week.”
  • Manchester – New chapter for Northenden library as books are rehomed – Manchester Evening News. Northenden Library will stay open until a small collection is put into local community housing office from October. Storytimes for toddlers will continue.

  • Newcastle – PFI liabilities in Libraries – What do they know? Freedom of Information request shows that PFI cost of new Central library in Newcastle almost all paid for by DCMS.
  • Sheffield – Library campaigners will not go away – Star / Letters.  “More than 12,000 have signed our petition against library closures and now it appears that Labour leaders are in their Town Hall bunker, hoping that community campaigners will simply go away. Well, let me say that we have no intention of going away.”
  • Southend – Stand up for Southend Libraries – Southend Council petition. “Under proposals by Southend Borough Council local libraries are under threat. Our libraries could either be forced to close or be ‘run by volunteers’; this will have a massive impact on the quality of service we receive. We believe that everyone deserves a decent local library – we refuse to be set against one another.”
  • Southend – Volunteer idea ‘will kill’ library – Echo. “The Friends of Kent Elms Library has warned the library, where visits rose by 12.7 per cent between 2008/09 and 2010/11, would “wither and die” if paid staff were axed”
  • Suffolk – Council may refuse cash as library saga takes another twist – Diss Express. “Suffolk County Council has put forward the money to relocate Eye’s library in Buckshorn Lane to new premises in Cross Street. But Mrs Cummins said several councillors have concerns the town council would over-stretch if it were to take on the money and the accompanying library responsibility.”
  • Sunderland – Library protestors’ dismay over TV agony aunt’s backing for closure plans – Sunderland Echo. ““It seems she has fallen for the council’s propaganda and is now saying services will improve when the libraries are shut down. This defies all logic. How can a service improve when it has disappeared?”
  • Wakefield – South Elmsall library reopens its doors after refurbishment – Express series. “The Barnsley Road building – which had been closed since June 8 – was given a makeover including new carpets, lighting, shelves and layout.”
  • Wolverhampton – Scheme lodged for new hub to house Wolverhampton library – Express and Star. “The centres are being introduced as part of moves to merge a number of community centres and libraries across the city. A planning application for the AshmorePark site has revealed a new link building will be installed between the youth club and the games barn on Griffiths Drive. The glass and steel extension will house a purpose-built new library.”