CILIP have called for ministers to clarify their position on volunteer libraries after the official government site gov.uk released seemingly glowing guidance on how to run one. Indeed, typing in “community library” into gov.uk is a sobering experience to anyone who believes that branch library work should be a proper paid job, with the top three hits being (1) how to create a volunteer library (2) Communities Minister Dan Foster giving his backing to volunteer libraries and (3) principles for volunteer libraries.  As the cuts bite, there is an observable steady move in Government to be more and more in favour of the unpaid running libraries as an alternative to cash-strapped councils. There are also suggestions from various quarters (in the Daily Mail every day, the recent BBC opinion survey and in the Times for two) that the public are not noticing a decline in council services or, if they are, are not attaching it to cuts in funding but rather to council inefficiencies.  This all strengthens the Government position, explicit or not, that councils are wasting large amounts of money and that cuts are forcing alternative or more efficient ways of delivering services.  Volunteers, in this model, are not just a last resort .,. they’re efficient and cost-effective too.



  • Children in libraries are explorers in a strange land. Adults should never tell them where not to go – Telegraph. “A child in a library or bookshop is an explorer venturing into a land where he (or she – but let’s stick with “he”) has no map to guide him. This is part of the excitement. Everything is new. Anything he comes upon may be attractive. His taste is yet unformed, and it cannot be formed until he has tried a variety of things.” … “Almost everyone who reads widely as an adult has read wildly as a child.”
  • CILIP call for ministerial clarification over community-managed library ‘advice’ on gov.uk – CILIP. “The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), the leading voice for the profession, today expresses deep concern that the official government website, gov.uk, is being used to promote volunteer-managed community libraries ahead of those delivered by local authorities, staffed by professionals. CILIP also reminds Ed Vaizey, Minister with responsibility for libraries, that the provision of public libraries is statutory under the 1964 Public Libraries Act and seeks urgent clarification of the government’s position. “

“We are very concerned that gov.uk gives the impression that creating a community library is a preferred method of service delivery for government.  Setting up library services requires professional knowledge and expertise.  Libraries play a key role in delivering literacy and information services to the community, supporting those who are seeking work, providing resources for families and children, and access and guidance to the online world. These services are planned and delivered by people with a high level of training and skill.” Phil Bradley, President of CILIP

  • Free E-Magazine Borrowing Becoming More Popular Through Public Libraries – Huffington Post (Canada). “Rogers is launching a digital subscription service that allows readers to pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to a newsstand’s worth of e-magazines. But many public libraries are already offering a similar product for free. The free service is run by the digital magazine company Zinio and is available within libraries’ digital collections. In Toronto, the service has mushroomed from about 5,000 borrows a month in June to 55,000 monthly by September, said city librarian Jane Pyper.”

  • Tech trends for information professionals – Internet Librarian International 2013 from Joe Murphy Librarian
  • Government library guidance ‘hits new low’ – BookSeller. ” Campaigning groups have called the information “actively hostile” to public libraries … A recent report from the Library Campaign given to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries outlined several issues with volunteer libraries. The report said: “Volunteer-run libraries may work, after a fashion, in well-heeled areas, but are less likely to do so less prosperous parts of the country. Significantly, some councils – such as Bolton – have already concluded that volunteer libraries are not the solution to the problems facing the library service,”

Close all non-major libraries in the UK. Responsible department: Department for Culture, Media and Sport. I believe the library today has no function in the modern day town or village, fair enough for a university but with visitor numbers down and the internet proving a better alternative its just a waste of government money. CLOSE THE LIBRARIES!” HM Government E-petition. [just 1 person signed had this petition at time of checking – Ed.]

  • Libraries for Social Good – Impatient optimists / Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “The tools are there; they can be made available, but people need to build capacity on how to use technology to connect with others, to access relevant information, to share ideas.” And that’s exactly what libraries do, especially in low-resource environments, where they play a critical role in society and have deep impact on people. Statistics show, for example, that half a million people accessed the Internet for the first time at a public library in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania. “

“Libraries can contribute to an increase in the economic and social well-being of the people they serve by effectively delivering relevant information through technology, training people to use online resources, and providing services that meet the users’ evolving information needs.  So if you ask me what I see libraries doing to make our world a better place, I would say they are doing a lot for social good.”

  • Local government staff tweet #OurDay – LocalGov. “Encouraging local government staff to publicise and celebrate their activities, the #OurDay campaign has seen contributions from across the UK. Among the wide selection of tweets, libraries remain a popular source of inspiration. While Cambridgeshire CC announced that 400 people had walked into Cambridge’s central library by 11:20 this morning, the head of service operations at Dudley libraries and archives shared a picture of a more unusual visitor as Postman Pat turned up at Stourbridge Library.”
  • No more surfing for child porn at Ottawa public libraries – CTV News (Canada). “On October 1st, the Ottawa public library installed software to  prevent people from viewing child pornography on library computers. Until then, it was possible to search the internet  for child porn on library terminals or on a personal laptop using library wifi.” … “People can still surf for adult porn sites at Ottawa public libraries. While the library doesn’t condone the behavior, viewing adult porn isn’t illegal. “Intellectual freedom is one of the tenets of being able to learn and grow as a person,” says Stirling.”
3.30pm Short Debate

The contribution made by voluntary staff to a sustainable public library system in the UK
  • Grand Committee of the House of Lords diary, 29th October.
  • Of websites and weasel words – Alan Gibbons. On the gov.uk volunteer libraries webpage: “If this is the coalition government’s ‘vision’ for the future of our public libraries I can see a time not that far distant when most towns and cities will have a single facility in the centre and no branch network to speak of. The very same Conservative Party that consolidated the modern public library service will have turned out to be its gravedigger. You have been warned.”
  • South Yorkshire councils manage to save libraries – Star. Barnsley will reduce opening hours in many branches (but increase in two and stabilise in three) after two-thirds of those consulted agreed.  Rotherham “hefty budget cuts” but no closures. Contrasted with Sheffield planning to close 16 out of 27.

Local news

  • Cheshire West and Chester – Anger over uncertainty about Cheshire’s libraries – Chester First. “Leaked emails suggest Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has tightened budgets, meaning staff sickness and holidays could result in temporary closures” … “council leader Mike Jones said the claims were untrue and a press release had been issued. But no press release has been sent out and Labour councillors say the “mixed messages” are causing confusion.” … “Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture, said library services were being restructured but everything would be done to prevent temporary closures and opening hours being reduced.”
  • Enfield – £4.45m for Palmers Green library revamp – North London Today. “One week after this paper reported widespread teething problems with IT upgrades in the borough’s libraries, the council has announced a multi-million pound spend on another library upgrade. At a meeting of the council’s cabinet in the Civic Centre in Silver Street last night local politicians signed up to a £4.45 million revamp of the Palmers Green library in Broomfield Lane. “
  • Monmouthshire – Politicians back library campaign – Monmouth Today. “Monmouth MP David Davies and Nick Ramsay AM have written to the Save Usk Library Action Group to lend their backing to community efforts to fight the proposed closure of the town’s library. Usk Town Council also voted unanimously in their meeting on Monday evening (14th October) to support the library and fight the closure.” … “A petition is running online that has gathered over 300 signatures, and there are more in the shops around the town. A facebook page has been opened for supporters to the library, with 450 using it to keep updated on the campaign. “.
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf – Savage cuts to jobs and services in council plan – Wales Online. “Council Leader Anthony Christopher described the proposed cuts as “Armageddon” for the local authority and blamed the situation on the UK government’s “reduced funding to Wales.” … “Proposals are in place to shut more than half the county’s libraries, close day centres and start children later at nursery school.”