“Brian Ashley, Director of Libraries for Arts Council England has been in touch about my report on the previous post about his participation in a conference on community-led libraries

“This is just a quick clarification that I have been invited (and have agreed) to speak at the event (as we have at the Speak Up for Libraries Conference on 23 Nov), but ACE does not have any role either its organisation or shaping the programme. The Arts Council’s position was summarised at the publication of the research undertaken by Locality that we jointly arranged with the LGA (press release here). We feel that, in challenging circumstances, everyone involved can benefit from guiding principles based on evidence and experience.

Alongside this, we do regard it as wholly positive that local authorities are increasingly involving individuals and communities in the design and delivery of library services. This is a much broader topic than the specific issue of libraries that are led, managed or even owned by community based organisations. On occasion this distinction can be lost. ” Brian Ashley

An interview with Cilip Council candidate Karen McFarlane CMG BA (Hons) MLib FClip

(part of a series of six for you to cut out and keep)

For the manifestos of each of the six candidates, please see this page.

  1. Who has been your biggest inspiration?  Philip Larkin – my first professional post was working with him at the University of Hull. I was inspired by his participative leadership style and the way he empowered his team. Even though I was a new graduate, I was given the opportunity to lead on a specific project working directly to him.
  2. What was the worst mistake in your career? Refusing to provide a long term loan to a PhD student who later became my boss! He hadn’t forgotten.
  3. What was your best career move? Being selected to become Government Head of Profession for Knowledge and Information Management.  It’s given me the opportunity to work with thought leaders in government.
  4. Where are or were you happiest? I’m happiest camping – leaving work pressures behind. I’m a youth leader  and love being outdoors with my  group getting back to basics, cooking over an open fire
  5. Do you believe that e-books will entirely replace printed books? I have an ebook reader and find it really convenient, but when I have to do some intensive reading, nothing  beats paper. But the future lies in mobile working and I can see a time when ebooks will replace printed books. As reading transitions to ebooks, elending is essential.
  6. What book should every librarian/information professional read?  The Embedded Librarian: Innovative Strategies for Taking Knowledge Where It’s Needed”, by David Shumaker.  I’m a real advocate of embedding information professionals – placing them alongside customers and becoming partners and collaborators. I’ve seen this working successfully.
  7. What is your guiltiest pleasure? Swiss chocolate
  8. Clarkson or Clark? Would you rather watch Top Gear or Civilisation? Neither I’m more a “Clarke” and would rather watch Amazing Spaces. I like watching home improvement/build programmes
  9. What personal ambition do you still have? To travel on the Ghan in Australia from Adelaide to Darwin
  10. Summarise your personality in three words Determined, caring, optimistic
  11. Do you have any regrets about becoming a librarian/information professional? None. It’s a great profession to be in. It’s given me the opportunity to work in a wide range of roles in libraries, intranet management, information security, information management, knowledge management, information governance and information risk management, plus being able to work with a wide range of people from different sectors.
  12. If you weren’t a librarian/information professional what would you be doing instead? I studied languages at university so I’d probably be working as either a Linguist or a Teacher


  • Are community-led libraries the answer? – Alan Gibbons. “Every time I debate the future of libraries with national or local politicians, they are there with a ready answer: “In a time of austerity, the community must step in.” Councillors are always there with an anecdote about a local library functioning perfectly well in kennel in Kennington or a bird’s nest in Batley. “People use it more than ever,” said elected representative beams. The Campaign for the Book has always taken the position that libraries provide a range of services. Run properly, they need full-time, paid staff. That means a council-run service. Where the funding has been withdrawn and there is no sign of it being restored local volunteers, usually drawn from the ranks of the retired, will step in. Almost invariably, those volunteers have said that they would prefer a council-run service and are offering to help out of necessity.” [Links to this page on realities of volunteer libraries]
  • Libraries as community hubs – Designing Libraries. Looks at co-locations going on in Glossop, Corsham, Cobham and Enfield.
  • Places of healing – Times Literary Supplement. Review of James Campbell’s “The Library”: ” “humankind has created an extraordinary variety of spaces in which to read, to think, to dream and to celebrate knowledge. As long as it continues to value these activities, it will continue to build places to house them. Whether they will involve books or will still be called libraries only time will tell””
  • Public Library: Reuse in Action – Northeast Recycling Council (USA). “For those of us in the recycling business, libraries are the very essence of reuse. For hundreds and hundreds of years libraries have promoted the reuse and sharing of books and knowledge. People borrow books, books on CD, music CDs, DVDs, and even e-book readers.”
  • Why I probably won’t apply for a volunteer library role – Find my library.  Someone very keen to work in a library looks at the problems associated with volunteering in one.  See also comment.

International news

  • Budgets Challenge Libraries, a ‘Point of Integration’ for Immigrants – New York Times (USA). “According to a report last January by the Center for an Urban Future, since 2008 the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens libraries have endured cuts of nearly $65 million. Library advocates said the current allocation of $106.7 million for all three systems is the first not to have cuts”.  Budget is fixed each year meaning lack of long-term planning.
  • Libraries more popular – Global Times. “Small libraries in districts and townships around Beijing have embraced an increase in visitors, the Beijing Daily reported. The new Tongzhou district library opened in October; last Saturday, there were over 700 visitors. At the No.1 Library of Dongcheng district, more than 6,000 people registered for library cards in 2012.” … “She also said the library is establishing a digital library and have database resources, such as the Founder e-book series and the CNKI (China National Knowledge Infrastructure) web publishing platform, which the readers can access at any district or township library.”


  • Future of Local Libraries and Cultural Services – Public Policy Exchange. 5th November in London. Speakers include President Elect of Society of Chief Librarians Ciara Eastell and chief executive of the Reading Agency Miranda McKearney.

UK news by library authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Vacancy – Bath and North East Somerset Council. “A brand new community facility has now opened in the heart of Paulton. The Hub consists of a library, coffee bar, Internet and meeting rooms and has become a very successful part of village life with over 3,000 visitors calling in during July 2013. It is somewhere to meet friends, find out information, bring children to storytimes and take part in activities.”
  • Neath Port Talbot – Have Your Say: We can’t lose vital service – This is South Wales. “May I say this as one example of how one council has spent the tax payers’ money? Swansea Council leaders propose to spend £600,000 of the tax payers’ money on decorating and refurbishing the counsels chambers. The chambers don’t need refurbishing but the hospitals, schools need this money a lot more.”
  • Northern Ireland – Libraries membership drops after work – BBC. “The library service said some of the figures cover a time when the branches had only just reopened and it says thirteen of the branches have shown increased membership . It said overall membership had greatly increased.”