The Library of Birmingham opened today, with stirring speeches and a queue to get in that lasted an hour after the doors opened.  The quote for today’s post is from that opening.  The importance of libraries, and not just big ones (perhaps especially not big ones) can be seen in, as a campaigner pointed out today, newspaper reports of petitions totalling 25,000 today … and today is a typical day.

Selling points for libraries noted today

Library of Birmingham

“Maybe the government should invest in teleportation technology to instantly transmit people cut off from the digital world to the PFI super libraries?” Trevor Craig

  • Books defeat terrorism, Malala Yousafzai says in opening Europe’s biggest library – Globe and Mail. “The library, designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo, is part of a major redevelopment of the central core of Birmingham, an industrial city of one million people hit hard by the recession. It is also something of a gamble by local officials that in this age of tablets and smartphones people will still use libraries, which have been closing down by the hundreds in Britain and elsewhere. Even as it opens this new library, Birmingham officials acknowledged that the city’s 40 other libraries are under threat.”

“[Brian Gambles, library boss]… pointed out that the library is about far more than its 400,000 books. It is also home to a local theatre company, includes an art gallery and has extensive local archives that are open to public viewing. There is also a Shakespeare archive with 43,000 books. The building will also host lectures, performances, debates, dance groups, poetry readings and author talks, he said. “It’s a place that will constantly change.” Mr. Gambles acknowledged that over the next decade the number of books on display will fall, but he said the library has built in plans for that and will use the vacant space for other activities.”

“The whole idea of libraries is changing. But there will be no one model. A city like Birmingham will need different libraries to smaller towns. The thing about smaller libraries is the workers have real knowledge about the items on the shelves. My only fear is that the big libraries are too big for the staff to know the books.”” Benjamin Zephaniah


  • American Libraries magazine – A superb, free to view, edition of the US libraries journal including the Right to Libraries, new library builds and cuts in book budgets.
  • A Thank You Note to Librarians: A Conversation with Chris Grabenstein – Public Libraries Online. “His latest book,Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, finds its young protagonists drawn into a complex game where they must decipher clues  to discover the secret exit from their town’s brand new library”.  He has also ” designed a library scavenger hunt similar to the one in the book with Children’s Services librarians from the Carroll County Public Library in Finksburg, Maryland”
  • Children who are read to ‘are less violent’ – Scotsman.  “John Carnochan, a founder of the violence reduction unit who is now based at St Andrews University, said improved literacy in early years education was one of the ways of reducing violent offending.”
  • Cole and Gaiman in Reading Agency ventures – BookSeller. “The aim of the lecture is to allow writers and thinkers to share original and challenging ideas about libraries, and the creation of a modern reading culture. Gaiman will focus on the future of libraries and young people, while the audience will include members of government, library staff, publishers, educators and authors.” … “Meanwhile Martina Cole is to be the champion of the Reading Agency’s 2014 Six Book Challenge, a scheme which encourages adults to read for pleasure and build their reading confidence.”
  • Demo Project is Turning Dalhousie University’s Unwanted Library Books into Building Materials – Library Journal (USA).  Seriously.
  • Once upon a wall – Vinyl Impression.  Some big wall stickers on various themes for children’s bedrooms … and children’s libraries.
  • Only connect … discovery pathways, library explorations, and the information adventure – Lulu.com. “We present a range of information discovery journeys, from reflections upon formal search processes to a library fairy story.”
  • Teen rights in the public library – Teen Librarian (Canada). Ontario Public Libraries charter for Teenagers is worth a read, and a copy.

Local news

  • Brent – Campaigners urge Brent Council to refuse permission to convert Kensal Rise library into flats – Brent and Kilburn Times. “The Save Kensal Rise Library campaigners have written to all Brent councillors asking them to ensure the planning committee uses the ‘Asset of Community Value’ legislation to refuse planning permission and retain the building for community use.”.  Developer plans to ” convert up to 30 per cent of the building into a multi-functional, self sufficient, not-for-profit organisation and rent out the space free of charge.”
  • East Sussex – Council promises to use residents’ views to shape services at Newhaven Library – Sussex Express. “A total of 304 people gave the council their views by completing a short survey or submitting their comments on a postcard. According to the public, the most important services were a good choice of books and helpful staff who could provide information on local services, groups and events. Convenient opening times were also highlighted, particularly during the week and on Saturdays.”
  • Edinburgh – Refurbishment for Edinburgh Central Library – Designing Libraries. “The Edinburgh institution has been serving the public for over 100 years but in that time has accumulated a number of piecemeal agglomerations, which have devalued its historic fabric. ‘To remedy this Bennetts have been tasked with reconfiguring the existing facilities to improve accessibility whilst restoring the historic building to its former glory. ‘Though still at an early stage ideas under consideration thus far include incorporating a new cultural hub in the vaults below George IV Bridge and a rooftop restaurant.'”
  • Lincolnshire – 1,800 sign petition against Boultham Library closure – Lincolnite. “Under the council’s proposal, libraries such as Boultham would become “tier three” libraries. This means the library would either become a community-run unit, with £5,000 donated to those running it, or closed in favour of a fortnightly mobile library. Councillor Clarke said: “The reason why we decided to go for the petition is that we disagree with the library needs assessment and the way the consultation is being carried out by the authority. In short, we firmly believe the library should be kept the way it is now. Same opening hours, staffed by fully trained librarians”
  • Lincolnshire – Donington Library’s fate still in limbo – Guardian series. “The county council’s consultation on libraries ends on September 30. More than 2,500 people have filled in questionnaires and there have been 350 letters and emails”
  • Luton – Library closure open to public debate – Luton Today. “Funding cuts of £600,000 have resulted in plans to reorganise the Luton library system. However, following a petition of over 10,000 signatures, Luton Culture have asked for ideas as to problem could be avoided.”
  • Sheffield – 13,000 people oppose library closure plans – Star. “More than 13,000 signatures have now been collected on a petition against library closures mounted by opposition Sheffield councillors. Labour-run Sheffield Council says it may have to close up to 14 of 27 community libraries unless it can get other organisations to take over branches.”  Includes photo of Nick Clegg standing outside threatened library.