House of Lords Grand Committee Tuesday 29th October PM

Parliament Live (16:44 to 17:27).  Debate brought by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara “to ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the contribution being made by voluntary staff to a sustainable public library system in the United Kingdom:

  • Labour peers: Said service was in crisis and that system where minister is in DCMS but libraries are under local authorities with very little oversight and intervention is “quite mad”. Stressed number of closures was way above what Ed Vaizey had claimed and that volunteers meant two tiers of library service was developing.  NFWI report on volunteers on libraries and CILIP surveys showing cuts repeatedly quoted. Need to have volunteers as additional but not substituting for paid staff.  The great work done by libraries for non-reading adults (e.g. Kent and Book Beyond Words) lauded. Awaiting response of Government to DCMS select committee report on library closures. Volunteers need more guidance.  Most struck by Neil Gaiman’s speech that said that US prisons found best indicator of future crime levels was amount of illiteracy in schools.

“When an organisation the size of the WI tells you you’re doing something wrong, you’d do well to listen”

  • Conservative peers: Said that movement of libraries to ACE was to “improve cultural mix” and the appointment of a specialist advisor and the realease of comparative figures for authorities was important.  Stressed that although it was up to local authorities to provide the service, “professional librarians are at the core of every library service”.  Also said that volunteers have been aroundofr years and not new and emphasised how many were complementary and not subsitutes for paid staff. Government believes in importance of paid staff but room for both that and “community-supported libraries”.  Investment in libraries continues e.g. Library of Birmingham

“professional librarians are at the core of every library service”




An interview with Cilip Council candidate Andy Dawson BA DLIS MCLIP MEI

(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.

Andy Dawson, riding to victory?

Andy Dawson, riding to victory?

1, Who has been your biggest inspiration? Difficult to single out one person, but if pressed I’d pick Steve Largent, who was a wide receiver for Seattle Seahawks in the 70s and 80s. He was an ordinary guy, not particularly tall or fast or physically exceptional, nor from a privileged background, who became the NFL’s all time leading receiver (and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame) by dint of hard work and application. He also did a huge amount of charity work, supported the community, and was a great example of how anyone can achieve great things and make a difference if they work at it long and hard enough.

2. What was the worst mistake in your career? Again, hard to choose between so many 😉 I can’t honestly say there is any single catastrophic incident I would undo, but one mistake I tend to have repeatedly made  in  my career  is to have been too honest in saying what I really thought to my superiors… oops.

3. What was your best career move? Taking a temporary one-year contract at UCL with no guarantees of what might come next, which started me on my present teaching path.

4. Who’s been the best and the worst minister responsible for libraries in your lifetime? I don’t think that’s really a relevant question, as I don’t believe that ministers responsible truly have anything as like as much impact on what actually happens in or to libraries as other figures, particularly local government ones.

5, Where are or were you happiest? Many things give me pleasure, especially doing things with my family and seeing my kids (and my students!) do well, but for personal indulgence playing music probably comes at the top of the list. Can I plug the wonderful Paramount Blues Band at this point? 😉

6. Do you believe that e-books will entirely replace printed books? At last an easy one! NO! But both have their different benefits.

7. What book should every librarian/information professional read? Another impossible question! As a SF fan maybe Fahrenheit 451 but more probably Pearson’s Books as History. Or Ranganathan’s  Five Laws of Library Science.

8. What is your guiltiest pleasure? I’m not committing to that in writing J but otherwise probably chocolate.

9. Clarkson or Clark? Would you rather watch Top Gear or Civilisation? Another easy one – Clark (Clarkson is incredibly irritating!) But I’d rather be watching Spooks…

10. What personal ambition do you still have? Plenty! J But if you’re talking specific instances, it’s once again of picking one from so many… I think I would have to go with convincing UCL ( and universities more generally) to give as much attention (and reward) to teaching as to research,

11. Summarise your personality in three words Analytical, Loyal, Straightforward

12. Do you have any regrets about becoming a librarian/information professional? Not at all! It’s been an interesting, broad and satisfying career. Although the pay could be better… J

13. If you weren’t a librarian/information professional what would you be doing instead? I have no real idea, but possibly doing something medically-related (I seriously considered studying  medicine whilst an A level student), or teaching English, or running a community/sports centre. Or, of course, being a rock star… 😉

UK News

  • EU rules will ‘rebalance’ public sector outsourcing, says report – LocalGov. “Out of the Shadows?, published by campaign group Social Enterprise UK, welcomes forthcoming EU rules which ‘recognise that public service markets don’t always put people first’. It argues that the new procurement rules will enable public bodies to consider the poor performance by bidders under previous contracts and take social and environmental value into account when awarding contracts.”…”Figures show that public sector outsourcing in the UK is worth over £100bn, with the majority of money going to large private companies.”

International news

  • Deep mission of public libraries – Mlissing in action (USA). “Public libraries need to embrace digital and technological skills as part of our deep mission to support literacy. This model, where libraries support an expanded idea of literacy, puts the patron at the center of the library.  The library is about supporting and improving the patron’s life.  It is about allowing the patron to move from consumer to maker, breaker, creator and repairer.  I prefer this model, to the information broker model.  It’s messier.  It’s sexier.  It’s more interesting.  And it’s more necessary.”
  • Librarian to sister superior, 1948: comic books are good for kids – Boing Boing (USA). “”The library makes a practice of having all kinds of books available for all kinds of people”
  • Library can’t afford new books – KRQE (USA). Otero County Commission decides to stop funding library meaning no new books.  At all.
  • New York Public Library Begins Posting Monthly Lists of the Most Borrowed Books and Ebooks – Infodocket (USA).
  • Public Libraries as Social Innovation Catalysts – Community Sense (Netherlands). “Public libraries urgently need to reinvent their role in society. Through social innovation, libraries may adopt new functions and roles and even act as innovation catalysts in networks of increasingly interdependent stakeholders from different sectors. We investigate how to design such inter-sectoral public library innovations that are embedded in existing organizational practice and are both sustainable and scalable. We outline a practical social innovation sensemaking method based on a combination of a social innovation collaboration network model and process model. We show how we did an initial validation of the method using the results of two exploratory workshops with professionals in the Dutch public library world. We discuss the implications of this approach for expanding the role of public libraries from providing access to collections to becoming social innovation and community catalysts” see also “Public Library 2.0: Towards a new mission for public libraries as a “network of community knowledge”
  • Sea Library in Awashim– De Zeen (Japan). A rather beautiful small library interior that reflects the sea.


  • “Communicate – Share – Innovate” – GVOC.  18th November in Gateshead. Includes sessions on “Getting the balance right – volunteering and job substitution” and “Models of community Library, with reference to case studies from the network  Evolving and diversifying services, challenges and opportunities”.

UK news by local authority

  • Barnsley – Big Changes Set For Town’s Libraries – We are Barnsley. Half of libraries to have hours cut.
  • Buckinghamshire – ‘A Book With Your Pint?’ New Ideas For Buckinghamshire’s Libraries – Mix 96. “Bucks County Council are looking at ways to delivery library services in rural areas – and it’s been suggested offering library books in local pubs and shops could be the way to go. The council’s Martin Phillips believes bringing it all together has its benefits: “You look at places which are the heart of the community. “Pubs usually fit the bill in lots of smaller villages and communities and village shops fit the bill as well. They’re often run by the community and for the community.”
  • Bury – Bury Library sculpture funding – Bury Council (via email).  Two-thirds of the ground floor of Bury Central Library is being converted into a sculpture centre, partially with the aid of an Arts Council grant. This document justifies the council’s decision.
  • Neath Port Talbot – Community’s fight to save old library goes online – This is South Wales. “”The funding for the library came from Carnegie new library funding from Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie,” she said. Ms Rees said she hoped that something would be done to keep the facility — which is a point of interest on the Richard Burton childhood trail — available for the community to use. “If the library closes and did not become a public amenity it would be tragic,”
  • Neath Port Talbot – Save Taibach Library – HM Government petition. “The closure of our community Libraries is something that should never be allowed just because of a shortfall in the local budget … Our children deserve the right to enjoy these places as our ancestors have done before us.”
  • Sefton – Debuts community listing with Carnegie Library – Place North West. “Keppie Massie has successfully nominated Carnegie Library in Crosby on behalf of Friends of Carnegie Library, Crosby as an asset of community value. The property is the first asset of community value to be listed by Sefton Council. Earlier this year, Sefton Council, as part of its budget review, resolved to close several libraries in the borough, including the grade 2-listed Carnegie Library built in 1904. A community group, Friends of Carnegie Library, Crosby (FOCAL) was formed to try and safeguard the building and to continue its operation as a library run by volunteers.”
  • South Lanarkshire – Blackwood and Kirkmuirhill Library – Designing Libraries. “This micro-library is proof that through clever use of space and bespoke furniture, a compact space can still have maximum impact. The main objective was to create a space conducive to digital reading and learning, with a limited book collection but strong e-reader focus. Our design concentrated on providing ways to embrace new technology, incorporating PC workstations and, our pride and joy, ‘The Gadget Bar’- a desk configured to be used by drop-in library users or as part of tutorial classes.”
  • Stoke on Trent – B Arts announces The Box: a major new project with Stoke Libraries – B Arts. “We’re delighted to announce that B Arts and The Library Service in Stoke-on-Trent has secured £90,000 of Arts Council England funding for a creative project called The Box. The Box will engage 9-13 year olds and their families, encouraging them to get reading and writing at their library. The three-year programme will be managed by B Arts in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s library service.”