The CILIP rebranding exercise will soon be over. Gripped by the greatest crisis and changes in libraries in their peacetime history, the professional organisation has decided that what really matters is to change its name and logo.  The reasons for this appear to be that the old name is not ideal (true enough) and that Change Is Good. The first attempt at this, which included an amateurish survey and names such as the abysmal The Knowledge People and no mention of the word “library” (other than the “L” in CILIP) only narrowly scraped through a member’s revolt in July.  Stung by this, CILIP then came up with a new name “Information and Library Professionals UK” that, while at least accepting the word  “library” is not much more inspiring. When it was pointed out that the inevitable acronym for the organisation would be the open-to-ridicule ILPUK, the response of the organisation was that acronyms would not be allowed and then, when the unreality of this position became clear, it announced that an appropriate hashtag was being worked on.  We have not yet heard what that may be, although it is notable that ILPUK has already begun to be widely used in professional conversations and by the Guardian as well

The suggested name may well be insufficiently different to the old one to be worth the change and, in addition, is decisively inferior to it due to the inevitable shortening it will incur.  More importantly, the way that CILIP has pushed through the rebranding so far (notably the biased coverage in Update where there was a whole article in favour of the rebranding and only three paragraphs in the news section covering objections to it) is also seen by many as unedifying and may reveal a deeper problem with the organisation.  For the truth is, that although it has indeed improved over recent years and does get involved in advocacy nowadays, it can barely be said to be well-loved by the profession.  The fact that it costs around £200 per year for almost all employed members (twice the subscription of the far more effective US ALA) does not help either.  So something needs to change.  A vote against the rebranding may, therefore be counter-intuitively good for the organisation. It would show that it cannot bulldoze through changes and that it needs to listen more.

In the unlikely event that you are both interested in public libraries news and are a CILIP member (many public librarians are either being made redundant or are stopping their membership due to either its cost or disillusionment as to its efficacy) it is therefore essential that you vote.   If you can’t attend the AGM where the vote will take place, use your proxy vote.  Email me and I’ll let you know of someone if you don’t know of anyone yourself.  And, while you’re at it, it is also worth considering voting in favour of a no confidence motion in the libraries minister, Ed Vaizey.  There’s a man whose level of competence pretty much all librarians agree on.


Ideas noted


  • BiblioTech: The First All-Digital Public Library in U.S. Opens One Week From Today in Bexar County, Texas – Library Journal (USA). Will include “500 e-readers (100 pre-loaded enhanced e-readers for children)”.
  • Chocolaterian prepares to open second cafe at the new Madison Central Library – Daily Page (USA). “The emphasis in the new building is re-geared; books are only a part of the purpose and function, which overall is configured as a smart community gathering space. That means, of course, offering the kinds of amenities that draw people in the 21st century: food, coffee, plentiful Internet access and meeting rooms.”
  • Defend our libraries, don’t defund them. . . . . fund ’em, don’t plunder ’em – Citizens defending libraries (USA). “Before getting into the specifics of our list of recommendations, together with the whys and wherefores, let’s discuss which elected offices are most important in the fight to save the libraries from sell-offs, shrinkage and underfunding in connection with creating real estate deals that benefit developers, not the public.”
  • Ebooks: the final chapter for libraries? – PC Pro. A good survey of the impact of ebooks on UK public libraries inc.  the Sieghart Review and the views of the SCL.  It is not overly optimistic about the future.
  • Ebulletin 135, 9 September 2013 – Network Newsletter. A very useful list (available via email subscription) of funding, relevant reports and other opportunities for libraries.  Worth a scan every time.
  • Forget mines: Rudd and Abbott should look to libraries to drive our next boom – Conversation (Australia).  Libraries are changing from loaning to learning and, in doing so, are becoming motors for growth, if only they are adequately funded.
  • Key Financial information in a library service – Good Library Blog.  Required is the CIPFA data, budget book for libraries, a reconciliation between these two, management structure chart, the council service charge/recharge.  “I have never seen a council in which this information is available to the councillors responsible for making budget decisions- but perhaps there are some somewhere”
  • Minecraft Library Scores Big: Mattituck, NY, Branch Is a Hit with Kids – Digital Shift (USA). Public librarian creates replica of her library in Minecraft and uses it as a teaching/promotional tool for her library.
  • Not all libraries should be closed: cabinet – Dutch News (Netherlands).  Due to cuts, only 162 public libraries left in the Netherlands, meaning just 1 to 100,000 people. Government taking steps to ensure some have to be provided by law.
  • Rebranding vote – Professor Emeritus Bob Usherwood / Lis-pub-libs. Prominent public librarian argues for voting against the rebranding: “People who use our services are looking for more than information. We must not reduce imagination, education, meaning and knowledge to just “information”. Our profession is concerned with culture, communication, language, learning, literacy, human and social capital.  It is to limit our horizons to present information as our first concern. As the negative reaction to the suggestions emanating from CILIP’s branding consultants clearly demonstrated, the membership does not want “information” to be the primary definition our professional role in the twenty-first century.”

“Well said Bob. I have a picture of a West Riding Mobile Library at the Great Yorkshire show in c1955. A board by the vehicle gives the West Riding County Library strapline: Education, Information, Recreation. So they saw libraries as covering all that in the fifties and now we seem to have narrowed it to Information” Ian Stringer

  • Rise of the super library: From Birmingham to the world – BBC.  Looks at (1) Seattle Central (2004) “The centrepiece of the £105m ($165m) building is the “book spiral”. This continuous series of shelves winds up over four floors, displaying the library’s entire non-fiction collection in a single space.” and more than 400 computers. (2) Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico (2007) with lots of plants, (3) Kanazawa Umimirai, Japan (2011) “Six thousand small round windows dot the four exterior walls of this giant box”, “created their building to encourage social interaction”, (4) Spijkenisse Book Mountain, Netherlands (2012) “A single 480m path winds its ways up to a reading room and cafe at the summit. The bookshelves, which are made from recycled flowerpots, are reached from stairs and platforms along the way.”
  • San Juan to take crack at running own library – Brownsville Herald (USA). “This year’s budget season is presenting something new for San Juan, as the city moves to transition its library operations from Maryland-based managers Library Systems & Services, or LSSI, to its own domain.”
  • Trying to read between the lines – Fairfax Times (USA). ““I went on Tuesday and saw a commercial trash dumpster filled up to my waist with books. When I went back on Thursday, the books in that dumpster were up past my shoulders. I would say there were thousands.” Smyth said she examined some of the books, including reference books, travel books and children’s books including some of the popular Harry Potter series, and found many of them to be in good condition. “
  • Visitor numbers – Library of Birmingham. Genius idea: clearly show your visitor figures. Over 74,000 visitors in first week.

Local news

“In these years of the axe, every metropolis faces a clash of claims between downtown glamour and neighbourhood access. At least its shutdown-avoidance policy means that Birmingham has engineered a less painful solution than most. Meanwhile, the LoB looks and feels like a supremely confident affirmation of faith in the book – and all its ancillary arts – as the soul of urban culture. “

  • Birmingham – It’s not all about the books – Economist. “The Library of Birmingham is one of a new breed of “super-libraries” that are springing up while many smaller branches fight for survival. By offering a wider range of services, spaces and facilities the idea is that larger multi-functional libraries are better suited to the needs of a diverse community of 21st century users, and able to offer culture and entertainment, as well as learning and information.”.  Aims to encourage business; “target is to create 500 new start-ups a year”.

“We need to find ways to generate commercial income, whether that’s from hiring facilities, making a greater success of retail or catering than in the past, or through business sponsorship or private sector philanthropy.” Brian Gambles

  • Birmingham – Keep the Library of Birmingham public – Communities against the cuts. “Sir Albert Bore was asked at Question Time at the Council meeting in July to ‘give a commitment that the Library of Birmingham will remain publicly run and publicly owned for the forseeable future.’ Instead of answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ Sir Albert gave a politician’s answer and referred to the setting up of a Strategic Management Board to oversee the new Library. He chose not to directly answer this very clear question. “
  • Birmingham – Six years late and way over budget – Birmingham Press. “The initial cost of building the Library of Birmingham is £188.6m and has been paid for entirely through Prudential Borrowing. Birmingham City Council originally planned to meet much of this cost by selling land at Paradise Circus. It failed to raise a penny through this method, the result of which is that once interest charges are applied (over a 40-year period), the final cost is expected to reach up to £590m”.  Other proposals would have been cheaper and produced more floor space. Not many qualified librarians. “Given that Birmingham City Council had deliberately allowed the old central library to run down and fall into disrepair, it is no surprise that the many find the sparkling new edifice impressive in comparison. “
  • Birmingham – Superb palace of bookland, or, the Library of Birmingham – As days pass by. “People are walking around with mouths open taking pictures of it. In a library. The government are shutting down libraries when they can. We’re told that Google makes them obsolete. And people are queued up to get inside. Vive la difference, eh?” … “There are computers all over the place, with open source OpenOffice and the Gimp on them (and MS Office and iTunes too).”.

“People are queueing up. To get into a library. Not a One Direction concert. A library. I love this city.” … ” If the librarians of heaven want somewhere to model their place on, they could do a lot worse than the Library of Birmingham.”

  • Birmingham – Welcomes public library amidst national cuts – CCTV (China). “Ten years in the making, it is a strange time for the biggest civic library in Europe to be opening, after national cuts saw more than 200 local libraries close their doors last year.” … “Ed Vaizey, Minister of Culture, said, “You do need books at its heart but you also need to understand that books are just part of a wider picture. You need community space, you need technology, you need all sorts of things, you need a garden if you look at the example of Birmingham.””
  • Birmingham – Why I can’t get excited about the new Library of Birmingham – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. Looks at the negative side of the project.
  • Brent – Letter to ACAVA re Barham Library – Friends of Barham Library. “one of the buildings you propose to lease in Barham Park is a former library which served the local Community for almost 60 years. Local residents are angry at the closure of their library and will oppose the recently submitted planning application for change of use from D1 (community facility) to B1.”
  • Bristol – I fully support the school plan – This is Somerset. The controversy over the plan to give over part of Bristol Central Library to a Free School continues.
  • Devon – Faces ‘devastating’ cuts, county council tells government – BBC. Leader of Tory council warns Osborne that council faces 15% cut by 2015-16 which will leave “economic development projects, youth services and libraries” vulnerable. Government responds by saying that council should collect unpaid tax and use reserves.

“John Hart is a lifelong and loyal Tory with a family history of Conservatism, so such a strongly-worded letter as this demonstrates grave concerns at the cuts being imposed under the government’s austerity agenda.”

  • Herefordshire – Best-selling Author Helps Fight Library Cuts – Leintwardine Online. “Best-selling author Deborah Moggach has pledged her support to the campaign to save Leintwardine public library from potentially devastating cuts. On Monday she will hand the 300-signature petition on behalf of the campaign to Herefordshire Council ahead of a council meeting on 9th September.”

“All over the UK, the passionate outcry against library closures shows how absolutely essential they are for the health of our communities. In an increasingly fractured and isolated society they are more important than ever, as places where we can widen our knowledge, deepen our imagination and simply feel companioned in an environment where nothing is bought or sold, but simply there for us to explore.”

  • Herefordshire – Support group letter – “Herefordshire Libraries Support Group & Hereford Library Users Group; Friends of Leominster Library; Ross Library Development Group and all friends of Herefordshire libraries”.   Considered response from the umbrella group for Herefordshire library users on the council proposals. “… some people, including councillors, do not appreciate the extent and value of these services in such fields as care and social services, education, literacy, employment, internet access, economics, culture etc in addition to the provision of books for loan and reference. ” … “There is clear evidence that the reduction in library service delivery has been the main contributory factor in declining usage.”

“In summary we are aware of the Council’s financial problems and that some cuts in service are inevitable.  However we are also strongly of the view that if the council works together with library support groups, then innovative ways of increasing revenue can be developed so that cuts are kept to an absolute minimum. “

  • Lincolnshire – Calls for a U-turn on Horncastle library – Horncastle News. “Over 700 people have signed a petition calling for Lincolnshire County Council to shelve plans to cut the opening hours of Horncastle library.”
  • Lincolnshire – Campaigners vow to keep library open – Horncastle News. “Barbara Bartlett, a leading figure in a volunteer group that already helps staff the library, said she was overwhelmed by support. She revealed people were angry and concerned about the council’s plans, which are currently going though a public consultation process. She also confirmed the volunteers could put forward plans to run the library”. Council pays £8k per year to fire service for Wragby library premises meaning libraru would have to move if volunteers do take it over.
  • Lincolnshire – Disgusted and ashamed at county council – Spalding Today. “It is a mark of a civilised society that such provisions are made for the people and that they are easily accessible.”
  • Newcastle – Public library report – Darren Murphy.  A 100 page report on the cuts to Newcastle libraries, produced by an ordinary member of the public.  A useful report and an impressive achievement (written to emulate the Charteris Report into the Wirral) that shows how important libraries can be to people,