A very international feel to the post today, mainly due to the arrival of the Scandinavian Library Quarterly. This English-language magazine covering the four main Scandinavian countries gives an insight into a part of the world which is also seen with envy by local government workers in the UK.  Yet, they’re facing many of the same problems there … but the way they’re dealing with them is telling. For example, budget cuts in Denmark mean paid staffing is an issue … so now there’s a whole pile of Danish libraries who all have extended opening hours due to having a national libraries agency and a national RFID standard – things which the UK can only dream of.  Another example is the need to promote the library service outside of the library … but there they’re doing so, with pedagogues, blogs and, apparently, ambassador library managers.  There’s pedagogues, pharmaceutical delivery, national combined websites … loads of stuff.  Have a read.


Ideas noted

UK News

  • Autumn Gathering Presentations – CILIPS. Including presentations from Barbara Band (advocacy), Simon Edwards (professional development) and Liz McGettigan (future of libraries in digital age). 
  • Library: A World History by James WP Campbell, review – Telegraph. “The number being built across the world gives the lie to trite assumptions about the death of the written word. In the West, they seem to have morphed into meeting places, rather than simply resorts of learning”.  Long review, full of praise for new book. 
  • Martina Cole urges prisons to join Six Book Challenge adult literacy drive – Reading Agency (press release). “International bestselling author Martina Cole has called on all prisons and young offender institutions (YOIs) across the UK to sign up for The Reading Agency’s annual, nationwide Six Book Challenge to increase literacy skills among prisoners and help reduce reoffending rates. She was speaking at a special event – held today at the Free Word Centre, The Reading Agency’s central London home – for prisons already running the scheme.” … “Over 100 prisons now run the Six Book Challenge with around 7000 prisoners taking part this year.However this is still under 10% of the UK’s prison population of 93,000, half of which have poor literacy skills. “

“I love the Six Book Challenge,” said keynote speaker Gabrielle Lee, governor, HMYOI Deerbolt in County Durham, which won a silver award for 115 young offenders completing the Six Book Challenge. “It takes real courage to attempt something like this when you’ve not had success at school. “

  • Opposition is the hardest word – Leon’s library blog. “what is causing consternation is that the government appear to be advocating volunteer led libraries not as a last resort but proactively as a viable, cost-effective alternative.”

“Opposition might be a difficult concept for Cilip to grasp (evidenced by the lack of willingness to proactively highlight the motion of no confidence in Ed Vaizey) but so far, the usual tactic of quiet, backroom diplomacy has failed spectacularly. For those of us in public libraries the diplomacy has been so quiet as to be deafeningly silent.”

International news

  • Alaska public libraries 2013 – Myliblog (USA). Fascinating look into the world of Alaskan libraries, many of which are not accessible from main roads.  Some clashes with IT departments who are all about security while libraries are all about access will sound familiar to many: libraries who are passport offices less so.  Some libraries are under pressure from politicians to reduce access to information from users.  Lots of good stuff in this article.
  • House of literature – Scandinavian Library Quarterly (Norway). “The House of Literature in Oslo has been a success, and new houses of literature are being built around the country.” … “he project has therefore included training courses and trials in topics such as library furnishing (How can we make a good first impression?), exhibitions in the library, dissemination on the internet, the library staff ’s skills in oral communication, how we can bring other disseminators into the library, and how we can disseminate literature in arenas other than the library.”
  • Investment in learning – Scandinavian Library Quarterly (Sweden) “What is unique about the center is that the library has employed three pedagogues, who work alongside the 20 or so librarians. The key is an open attitude. “For learning to feel inspirational and meaningful, the individual must feel he or she is part of the learning environment. We’re therefore working actively to get our visitors to feel like they are coproducers in our operations,”
  • Japan’s public libraries add services to get more people reading – Japan Daily Press. “A recent survey by a leading newspaper showed that 65% of respondents say they have not been to a public library in the past year, either because they have no time (36%) or there are no libraries near them (25%).” … “Figures from the Japan Library Association show that their funds for getting new materials have been in a decline since 1999 when it reached its peak. In fact, some libraries, like the Shiga Prefectural Library in Otsu have had to add one more day to the number of days it is closed because of personnel and utility budget cuts.”. Initiatives inc.  10pm closing, book pick-ups from shops.
  • Libraries read mood of digital age – ABC (Australia). “A mixture of books and social connection is the aim” … “”Almost half of Victorians, 48 per cent, are members of the public library,” she said. “They still go into the local library expecting to have a great selection of recent books, multimedia, databases. “E-books is now just another format.””
  • Lom Public Library: from cradle to grave – Scandinavian Library Quarterly (Norway). “Lom Public Library’s vision is to serve as a library “from cradle to grave”. In prac tice, this manifests itself in collaboration with institutions such as the local child welfare clinic, day-care center, school, nursing home, volunteer center and Lom Bakery.”

“In collaboration with the schools, the library has developed the “Reading plan for Lom”. The plan states that each school class is entitled to at least two book presentations per year at the primary level and one at the lower secondary level. In 2012, the library undertook 25 presentations of new books to the schoolchildren of the village.” … “To remind the inhabitants of our existence, we need to profile the library and our services. Being visible in the press and social media is essential. Since 2008, we have been producing the blog “Three Wise Women”. The blog is updated weekly, and tells stories of large and small events in the library, often with a humorous twist”

  • Open libraries in Denmark – Scandinavian Library Quarterly. “The definition of an open library, engendered by the Silkeborg model, is a library department, which apart from the staffed hours, has been extended with more opening hours, where the citizen herself can “unlock the door”. Access is typically by way of a borrower’s ticket or the medical card that every Dane possesses, or a special borrower’s ticket with inbuilt RFID chip for verification of the user.” … “Over a period of several years, the development of library infrastructure in Denmark has moved towards centralization. With the municipal reform of 2007, the municipalities became fewer and larger – the libraries followed suit; several small branches were closed, resulting in renewed strength of the main libraries.”

“the fear, which the staff in many cases harboured beforehand as to what was going to happen to their library, has proved groundless. Things are going well.”

  • Reaching out to users everywhere – Scandinavian Library Quarterly. Combined libraries/museums/archives national website “Finna is intended for users interested in items available in libraries, archives and museums, be they books, paintings, CDs, old bus timetables, chainsaws, scientific articles or whatnot. “
  • Small libraries an asset for municipalities – Scandinavian Libraries Quarterly (Finland). “Toholampi has invested in active book recommendations, events, projects through outside funding, multi-functional and cozy facilities as well as a variety of equipment. The library has organized movie nights for children and young people, offered opportunities to produce digital material, loaned sports equipment and sold tickets. ” … “The bookmobile in Sodankylä obtained pharmaceutical rights in the spring, which has been warmly welcomed by residents. Now, medication is taken to residents along with their books – the partnership is a real win-win situation.”

“The mere physical library services are no longer sufficient nowadays”

  • Turning A Page Inside A Rural One-Room Library – NPR (USA). “There’s one state highway running through Myrtle, Mo. It’s a sleepy town in the Ozarks, population about 300. There’s no bank or restaurant here, but enormous oak and persimmon trees loom over a small stone building right next to the road. Half of it is a post office; the other half, a one-room public library.” … “While the Myrtle library receives taxpayer money, it gets only $200 a month for books and supplies. So Luster has used social media to garner donations from people around the state. She’s already secured about 1,000 new books.”
  • Viewpoint: With the periphery at the center – Scandinavian Library Quarterly (Norway). “Today, Norwegian public libraries are most frequented by children, immigrants and the elderly. Most libraries are located in small communities, in unassuming buildings and with an equally unassuming staff.”
  • With new tasks and functions in rural areas – Scandinavian Library Quarterly (Denmark). Mobile libraries branch oout … “We learned that partnerships are best formed by personal contact, and that it is important to engage the partner early in the project. Focus on digital learning.” … “New target groups were tested: Young recruits at an army facility, teenagers and adult men with an interest in hunting.”.  Mobile library can be booked by different institutions.

“We conducted an education course for drivers and other persons dedicated to the work of mobile libraries about the new roles and functions in the mobile library. We must learn to sell ourselves and our mobile library, and we must use our own individual skills and contacts when gathering knowledge about rural areas.”

Local news

  • Birmingham – £4m bill to repair Birmingham’s libraries – Birmingham Mail. “According to Birmingham City Council 20 of its 39 libraries need repairs costing £100,000 or more – with Hall Green and Kings Heath both needing new roofs at costs of £300,000 and £400,000 respectively. Kingstanding Library needs a complete £300,000 refurbishment including windows, decoration, lighting, flooring, heating and shelves, The Friends say that in the wake of the opening of the Library of Birmingham, the community network should not be forgotten, especially as the council will be making £7 million a year repayments on loans to cover the £189 million construction costs for the next 40 years. At the same time just £236,000 has been earmarked for local library repairs this year.”

“The cost of one years capital charges on the Library of Birmingham would more than cover the cost of repairs to the local libraries.” … “The city council is currently considering the future of local libraries and council leader Sir Albert Bore says he cannot rule out closures of some facilities.”

  • Brent – Wembley Library First Quarter – James Powney’s blog. “Some people, like Phil Bradley, see the future of libraries as helping people to cross the digital divide and become more familiar with the latest information technologies.  You can get a sense of this in Wembley with the staff regularly helping people with the PCs and the fixed ipads available.  Less obvious is the ipad lending service or loans of energy meters, and training in things such as how to construct a web site.  ”  Statistics show a roughly 140% increase in visitor numbers and 80% increase in issues.
  • Caerphilly – Libraries continue to improve – Caerphilly Observer. “There are nine Welsh Government Public Library Standards and Caerphilly’s library service has met or exceeded six of them. These cover opening hours, disabled access and requests for books. In a library services assessment, the local authority has been recognised for the strong emphasis on collaborative working, demonstrated in the Hanbury Chapel, Risca Palace and Abercarn Library buildings which have successfully integrated additional services alongside library facilities.”
  • Devon – Mobile libraries in Devon face cuts in money saving bid – This is Devon. “ibrary users living in remote parts of Devon could see their mobile service slashed under plans to cut costs by a half. Devon County Council is launching a consultation with mobile library users over proposals which would remove underused stopping places from some routes and reduce the frequency of the service.” … “The mobile library service costs nearly twice per customer, compared to the average cost per customer to our static libraries,”  … ““We have four mobile vehicles approaching the end of their useful life, and if these proposals go ahead, it would mean that we no longer need them, reducing our costs considerably.””
  • Haringay – Changes to Wood Green’s Teen Library – Haringay Online. “What we will be doing is relocating the youth library to within the existing children’s library on the first floor, where it will benefit from regular opening hours and dedicated staff on hand to support young people with their enquiries. Unlike the current youth library, the children’s library is open at all times during library opening hours.”
  • Hertfordshire – The Future of Hertfordshire Library Service: Have your say – Hertfordshire County Council. “Our aim is for Hertfordshire libraries to be fit for the future, providing residents with the right services in the right places, and making sure that the money we spend provides best value and benefits as many residents as possible. The results of the consultation will inform the development of a new 10 year strategy for Hertfordshire Libraries for presentation to the County Council in the late spring of 2014.”

“New technology is changing customer expectations and lifestyles so the libraries of the future are likely to look quite different. And with the need to sustain a high quality service within a reduced budget, we cannot stand still if we want our libraries to stay at the heart of local communities. “

  • Lincolnshire – Crowland Library: Letter was offensive and an insult – Spalding Today / Letters. “Presently, we only have a partial service for a small number of hours per week. By using volunteers a better standard of service giving better access to the community and a wider range of books and services may be attained by tapping into grant funding. I am truly sorry for those who will lose their jobs, but it is, I believe a folly to carry on with something that is ultimately unsustainable in its present form”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf – Beddau and Tynant to lose Library and Day Centre – National Left. “People use our Library not only to take out books or use the computer services . But for many its also a social centre where people meet and chat and for many Older people it an important part of their life.”
  • Southend – Random notes from a council meeting – Julian’s musings. “I was only going to say, in response to the Leigh library petition, that I am for saving all libraries. I am a Leigh resident (and a Leigh library user), yet I live outside of the area covered by the Town Council and therefore do not pay the precept. A suggestion that the precept ought to be used (and, therefore, increased) to cover the cost of running the library was made – a suggestion that I could not agree with. For starters, if tax-payers are to foot the bill then at least treat all tax-payers the same. Also, Leigh is the only part of the borough covered by a Town Council, and therefore leaves libraries in other places, if this suggestion were taken up, more vulnerable in my opinion. I am also unsure whether the precept could be used for this purpose.”
  • York – Libraries of the future: how do you imagine the role of libraries in years to come? – GeniUS. “With the recent opening of the new Liverpool and Birmingham libraries, there has been much discussion around the future role libraries should play in our communities.  Every week we hear about more libraries closing as councils struggle to make savings.  Digital technology makes information more accessible than ever and this challenges the traditional role of libraries as impartial information providers within quality research spaces. This means libraries need to innovate in order to survive. Our library staff believe that this new type of organisation offers us the best possible opportunity to improve and develop the services we offer, keeping them current, sustainable and relevant to the city and its communities.”

The event is taking place on November 11th in Acomb Explore Library and will bring together library users, designers, technology experts and others, linking them up with local and national experts in the libraries field. These diverse groups will work together intensively to produce tangible ideas that can be piloted in our libraries.”