The quote for this post is from a US librarian who argues that faced with smaller budgets, libraries are naturally going to be cut unless they find different funding streams.  The argument is most definitely not that of privatisation or outsourcing but rather of in-house entrepreneurial skill: to look for opportunities to expand libraries into activities that provide more funding.  The challenge here of course is in doing this while not alienating the core services of the library. As council services, public libraries do not have the luxury of ditching their clientele in order to try something new.

However, it’s not like we have any choice but to change. Derby has announced today that it’s likely to close libraries and other “discretionary” services.  OK, we know libraries are statutory, not discretionary, but that hardly seems to matter in this age of look-the-other-way libraries ministers.  In such an environment, it’s incumbent on all of us to look at ways of saving money and of making money.  It’s also important that each library authority looks to the future and develops an escape route (in quieter times, this would have been called a “roadmap”) to where it wants to be.  The State of Victoria’s strategy has been recommended to me by none other than Rachel Van Riel (of Opening the Book) as the best she’s seen so I recommend interested librarians (and if you’re not interested then you’re in even more danger than the rest of us)  have a look at it.  By thinking ahead, even if we can’t make the pie bigger, we can at least do our best to armour plate it.



  • Entrepreneurial library – NV Binder (USA). “While public support of libraries is strong, public funding of libraries is in decline, and I don’t think the trend is likely to slow down soon. The problem: a generation of government workers is retiring, calling in their pensions and starting to use their healthcare plans. Governments, already bruised by the recession, and faced with a strong anti-tax sentiment, have to cut something. And the benefits of libraries, while absolutely tangible and even lifesaving in some cases, are hard to see in one election cycle.” Predictability and variety needed in public library funding … ” It would be one thing if the libraries closed because people didn’t want them anymore. But that’s not the case. People want them as much as ever, we just don’t know where the money is going to come from.” … So libraries need to find other ways of funding ” If the pie is too small, the answer is to make the pie bigger.”

“Britons love their libraries as much as we do, and they use their libraries just about as much, but that hasn’t stopped 200 libraries a year from closing and many more suffering from the death of a thousand paper cuts. Where political resistance is too strong to cut the libraries outright, they cut the budgets for materials and staff to the point where the library is no longer liked, then close it. Once again, I don’t think this is out of maliciousness. I think there are plenty of British politicians who take their kids to the library, or would like to do so. … they just can’t see a way to make it work. The smiles of children don’t pay retirees’ pensions any better than they pay librarians’ meagre wages.”

  • Meet the new Library Director at Marin County (USA).  “They want us to be everything we are plus more.  I want that to happen”.
  • Ms. Pac-Man Co-Creator Applauds Library Use of His Game – Digital Book Today. “I just found out about your Ms. Pac-Man at your library. Outstanding idea! I was one of the designers of Ms. Pac-Man. Wow, that was a loooong time ago. Keep up the great work with the teens.”
  • Victorian Public Libraries 2030 Strategic Framework Summary Report – State Library of Victoria (Australia). Recommendations include “Tell a compelling story about the future vision. Seize the opportunity to reframe the role of public libraries in the eyes of the community and ignite further interest from all stakeholders”; “: Develop a portfolio of revenue and funding streams – from cost-free to not-for-profit.”; “Phase in relevant service and program initiatives over time”; “Actively scan the environment so that as social trends emerge, public libraries can activate their strategies and actions with greater confidence.”
  • Reading Agency announces newest publisher partnership – Reading Agency. “with award-winning publisher Barrington Stoke, whose books are commissioned, edited and designed to help parents and teachers break down the barriers that can stop children reading; from dyslexia and visual stress to simple reluctance.” Includes events in libraries and toolkit for librarians.
  • Teacher protests porn viewing at public libraries – Breitbart (USA). Teacher brings class to school past adult viewing porn on library computer.  Porn viewing is allowed in library in adult section if user asks for filter to be turned off (US libraries see this as part of the constitutional right to freedom of speech).  Teacher unimpressed that tax dollars are used to allow people to watch porn.

Local news

“Overall issues were up by 1% to almost 84,000 and visits up by 20% from 112,000 to 134,000 during July 2013.  This was mainly due to the opening of Wembley Library which saw over 1,100 new borrowers join the library and over 49,000 visits made.” Email from Cllr James Powney.  See also this events email.  Brent 

  • Bristol – “We Own It”: Bristol Central Library – Daniella Radice, Green Party. “Today we gathered by Bristol Central Library to support the “We Own It” campaign nationally and to highlight the importance of our own Bristol libraries. Bristol Central library was chosen because there is a plan to lease the stacks or reference library section to a nearby free school. “But why is the reference library important ?” I hear you ask – “we now have the internet.” In reality the internet does not contain everything, particularly out of print books.”
  • Derby – More job losses are now feared at Derby City Council – This is Derbyshire. “job losses are “inevitable” and libraries and children’s centres could be run by volunteers because of £39 million of new budget cuts at Derby City Council, unions have warned.” … “the biggest budget hit was likely to be taken by “discretionary services” – or those that the council does not have to provide by law, including libraries, children’s centres and leisure services.” Council says it will “have to save a total of £59.5 million in 2014-16, up from the £42.1 million it had expected.”

“The reality is that they will seek volunteers to run council services such as libraries and children’s centres. He said he feared these would then be run “with very limited funding and resources from the authority.” He added: “When you lose a librarian you lose their experience and you lose their wealth of knowledge.” Adrian Morgan, Unison East Midlands.

  • Derbyshire – Campus vision for Glossop Library revamp – Buxton Advertiser. Glossop Library may combine with adult community education centre to create “Glossopdale Campus”. “Both borough and county councils have approached the National Lottery for help to fund their vision to combine both facilities on Talbot Road and create a “one-stop learning hub”. County Cllr Dave Wilcox said a lot of the adult services were often covered by libraries, such as helping people get online or with job applications, so it made sense for the two centres to collaborate.”
  • Harrow – Ten library jobs ‘at risk’ amid technological revamp in Harrow – Harrow Observer. “From next month, John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) will begin delivering library services for Harrow and Ealing boroughs and is contracted for five years. A decrease in funding from central government forced Harrow Council’s hand and the changes will make annual savings of £750,000. The privatisation of the service will mean a reduction in staff, but the council’s portfolio holder for community and cultural services, councillor Nizam Ismail (Independent Labour) said the council will try to help those affected find work elsewhere.”
  • Lincolnshire – Campaign gets off the ground in Sutton on Sea – Save Lincolnshire Libraries.  “Coastal communities desperately need their libraries. There are particular problems in Lincolnshire with “hidden” poverty and social exclusion in isolated rural & coastal areas. Library cuts will only make this situation worse.”
  • Lincolnshire – Council chief signs libraries petition – Spalding Today. “The fundamental problem with what Martin and the rest of the council is proposing is that they don’t realise how big the Deepings is and we deserve to keep our library because it serves a population of 18,000, with 38 per cent of its books going out to children. “He’s clearly trying to face both ways on the issue but the Deepings people aren’t fooled by this and they know where Martin Hill stands.””
  • Lincolnshire – Library closures and pornography – Julian’s Blog. Questions councillor view that most people in county have two cars and an iPad.  Also questions need to force people to “opt in” to being able to see pornography.
  • Lincolnshire – Martin Hill defends signing library petition – BBC Radio Lincolnshire. 8 minute interview with councill leader and a campaigner. Council leader says libraries won’t close but will be staffed by the unpaid instead as £2m needs to be cut from budget.  Cllr Hill said he did not know what he was signing. “more people have signed the petition to save the library than actually use the library”. Campaigners say Deepings Library is larger than five still to be kept funded. We don’t want to take over the library, we want the council to do it.  Cllr Hill says e-books and iPads means people use libraries less and the status quo is not an option.  Campaigner points out will still charging council tax in that area – councillor says large libraries and mobile will still be available. Campaigner says a mobile cannot serve 18,000 people and community does not want to volunteer and it’s blackmail.  Councillor says that’s his choice and 21 out of 33 withdrawn libraries will have volunteers running them, hopefully.
  • Lincolnshire – Local authority slams Lincolnshire County Council library proposals – This is Lincolnshire. “North Kesteven District Council has called on the county authority to rethink its proposals after its executive board expressed concern. Libraries in the district that are under threat of closure are: Bracebridge Heath, Branston, Metheringham, North Hykeham, Ruskington, Skellingthorpe and Washingborough.”

“Libraries are essential for the health and well-being of our communities in receiving help and developing minds – particularly for younger people. I do not think the county council has thought this through with enough care and I am really quite worried about it.” Cllr Marion Brighton, Leader of North Kesteven District Council