There is an opportunity in every crisis for someone and that opportunity in Lincolnshire has been seized by the non-profit trust GLL and the private company Biblioteca.  Both are offering to take over some or all of the troubled libraries there. The move is highly significant for both entities – it would be the first library authority taken over by GLL outside of London and the first library authority taken over by Biblioteca in the UK.  Doubtless Carillion would also have expressed an interest but it is itself busy having just bought out Laing’s library concerns in four London boroughs.  The oddity is where LSSI is in all this: the US company has been a particular bete noire for campaigners but has failed to achieve a toe hold in the UK market.  The fact that it is not mentioned in the article suggests that it may not do so for a while yet.


UK news

  • Are public workshops more important than public libraries? – RSA / Mixcloud. “In the annual Angus Millar Lecture at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh, material scientist Mark Miodownik argues that where libraries solved a need of 19th century, the requirements of the 21st century have pushed ‘makespaces’ and ‘hackspaces’ above them in necessity.”
  • Libraries are a right – Adrian Faulkner. “It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that libraries have been replaced by the internet, but for some people internet access is a luxury they cannot afford.  All these different people found help and assistance from the staff and it made me realise just how much people still rely on libraries.  They are the most democratic places, with knowledge open to all, and whilst how we interface with knowledge is changing, there’s always going to be a need for libraries as a way to provide free access to that knowledge.”

“Despite what some might say, the internet is a privilege, libraries are a right.”

  • Shelved: are more of Scotland’s libraries to be written off? – Courier.  Surveys different Scottish authorities in wake of Moray proposed closures: Dundee; Perth and Kinross (£281k, come libraries may close, up to 13 jobs could be lost); Angus (declined to be interviewed); Fife (declined to be interviewed); Scottish Library and Information Council says ““Libraries make a huge contribution to our communities, providing a hub where people can access a range of resources and services for information, reading and learning. “Library borrowing is a regular habit for one-fifth of the population. Each year there are 28.5 million visits to libraries in Scotland and visitors use 8.5 million hours of free internet access — underlining how valuable they are.”

International news

  • Libraries for all – European Union. “The aim of the project Libraries for All –ESME has been to initiate an EU-wide upgrade of local public libraries into “Libraries for All” with a European perspective. EU-wide local public libraries usually have a similar setup, comparable structures and the common goal of serving the local community in easily accessible places of learning and communications. By upgrading local public libraries into “Libraries for All”, the symbolic cultural capital of the local migrant population would become an integral part of local public libraries. By serving the community as a whole, the libraries sought to enhance into local contact points for implementing common European integration strategies.”
  • State Library Guidebook: Support for Digital Literacy in Public Libraries – OCLC (USA). “This digital literacy guidebook was created under a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and is designed for state libraries to use in exploring potential state-level investments and partnerships that advance digital literacy.”

  • Ballyroan Library (Eire): double the space of old library, including gallery space.

Local UK news by authority

  • Bradford – Debate on Bradford district libraries – Ilkley Gazette. “The district’s libraries are coming under the spotlight as Bradford Council reveals which ones are most used and those hardly visited as part of a review into the service.” … “Recommendations being considered will include the need for consultation on any changes to the library service, which cost £3.3 million to run in 2012/13.”

“It is not our intention to do any static library closures at the moment. We use the community involvement model in Wilsden, Wrose and Addingham and they are all managed by volunteers.”

  • Carmarthenshire – Threat to mobile libraries – This is South Wales. “Pontyberem library honorary secretary, Keith Evans said it could “severely penalise” both children and adults who rely on the service. He said: “Mobile libraries are a wonderful service, especially for the elderly during the winter months. The council need to get their priorities right. They tend to support prestige items that people have no interest in or have no benefit to the community.”
  • Lincolnshire – Could London council be answer to Lincs libraries? – Market Rasen Mail. GLL “has offered to take over running the library service in Lincolnshire, as has Biblioteca Technical Library Services. They have put forward six separate proposals, ranging from taking over the service as a whole to just running 
tier 3 libraries, like that at Caistor. Biblioteca’s proposals could see some libraries become fully automated, with users given a keycard to access the building 24/7 and machines to check books in and out. This would cut costs by reducing staff.” [NB. GLL is independent and not part of any London council – Ed.]
  • Lincolnshire – Library consultation results reveal people want their libraries – Louth Leader. “The findings were presented by Sheffield Hallam University and the main factor that came out of the consultation was that there was “widespread opposition” to the council’s plans. Many participants also found the survey and consultation events unsuitable or inadequate and it was even found that young people, the next generation to use our libraries opposed the plans.”
  • Moray – Scots council warned they’ll have to repay £72,000 EU cash if they shut seven libraries – Daily Record. “Moray Council have admitted that £72,349 from the European Regional Development Fund will have to be returned if they go ahead with plans to shut seven of their 15 local libraries.” … “Campaigners fighting to save the libraries have seized on the council’s admission. Local MSP Richard Lochhead, of the SNP, said: “This is yet another example of why the decision is completely short-sighted.””
  • Nottinghamshire – County Council budget: ‘No plans to close libraries’– Chad. ” the council denies any will close, saying it can achieve £1m savings for the authority, partly through an innovative plan to preserve smaller libraries through a community partnership approach.” … “To support this approach a one-off investment to support community partnership libraries will be made from the library capital refurbishment programme.” … “It is expected that the libraries most suitable for community partnership approaches would be the smaller libraries although the council would be open to proposals from all communities.” … “The county council is also looking at establishing a libraries and archives trust/social enterprise. ” see also Libraries escape axe in council budget plans – Gainsborough Standard.

“We are passionate that we do everything in our power to keep our libraries open. In the current climate of unprecedented cuts nationally, we are having to look for increasingly creative and innovative ways to run our services. We are keen to work with communities to help provide the library services they want and we also want a fairer deal for library users so hope that these proposals can help.”

“Councillor Willie Wilson also urged his fellow members to see the closure of the West Mill Street library as a positive move. Although he accepted transport could become an issue, he said service users were no longer being “short changed”. He added: “Not because it’s not a nice place, or the staff aren’t friendly, or there’s not a bonhomie in the place, but because we could do better. “For many months now, we thought it would be better for that service to be provided elsewhere.””

  • Perth and Kinross – Popular Perth library at risk as council looks to cut costs – Courier.”Despite recording a 23.7% increase in visitor numbers over the last two years, the council intends to keep all libraries shut on Mondays, while the West Mill Street Library in Perth will close down completely. The move will come as a major blow to elderly and visually impaired users, as the city centre library holds a significant collection of large-print and audio books. It also hosts a popular book club, which is seen as a lifeline to members.”
  • Suffolk – Freegal – Suffolk Libraries. “Suffolk Libraries has become one of only a handful of UK library services to offer an innovative new free music download service. The online Freegal service – named because it’s free and legal – offers access to around 3 million songs including Sony Music’s catalogue of legendary artists. The collection includes music from over 10,000 labels with music that originates in over 60 countries. There is no software to download and there are no digital rights management (DRM) restrictions so once the music is downloaded it can be kept and copied to CD and transferred to MP3 players or I-Tunes. All Suffolk Library customers can access the service and download up to three free MP3 tracks every week. The music can be downloaded to a computer or there is an also a free app for android, smart phones or tablet devices.”

“We have offered CDs to borrowers for many years but many people are now downloading their music. We feel it’s more relevant and helpful to invest in this new service which will be more accessible across the county and open up a huge range of music to our customers for free. CDs will still be available in all our libraries. We also hope this new service will encourage more people, particularly young people, to discover what the library service has to offer them by accessing our website. With many Suffolk Libraries now offering free wifi access people can also download tracks whilst in the library.”