A report from the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank unintentionally highlights the need for public libraries.  In a report that is full of questions about how to integrate older people into their communities and linking them up with the internet, there is only one mention of libraries and that is about reading groups.  Perhaps if public libraries were a new thing then their wonderfulness connecting all parts of society with eachother and with the information and skills they needed would mean that the IPPR would be all over them.

I know that Public Libraries News is seen as a campaigning blog and because I cannot hide my love for public libraries and all they stand for, rightly so, but this does not mean that only one side of the argument is shown on its pages.  Published today is  a case study from the non-profit trust Fresh Horizons in Huddersfield that shows a successful non-council model for libraries provision.  It makes impressive reading.


UK News

  • Big society policy not suited for deprived communities, says thinktank – Guardian. Government giving big contracts to private companies while volunteers pick up the less attractive offerings, and often only then often in the more prosperous areas. “The big society is “a policy better suited to the leafy suburbs” than deprived communities, where many small charities working with vulnerable people are in danger of going bust, an audit of David Cameron’s social initiative has found. The thinktank Civil Exchange said a “big society gap” has opened up with levels of charitable giving, volunteering and social action strongest in wealthy areas and among privileged professional middle-class groups.” … ” the audit said the policy, which is now rarely mentioned by the prime minister, was faltering owing to public-spending cuts, widening social inequalities, and declining levels of trust, while large private firms such as Serco, G4S, Capita and Atos take the lion’s share of government contracts.”

“Volunteers have taken over local assets such as libraries, swimming pools, post offices and pubs, but the big society “class divide” means this is more likely to be happening in well-off neighbourhoods and be driven by highly educated middle-class professionals.”

“this is an extremely encouraging response from the Minister. I welcome especially his emphasis on the statutory basis of the public library service and his commitment to ensuring that Welsh people will continue to have the benefits of a professionally run library service responsive to local need” CILIP President Phil Bradley

  • Getting older and staying connected – IPPR.  Looks at what is needed “for every older person to feel independent, valued and connected to those around them.”. Mentions libraries once (in relation to reading groups). [Laura Swaffield of the Library Campaign thinks that it not noticing the purpose of public libraries makes it “A minor classic – new report from clever think-tank about how older people need information, & ways to stay ‘connected’. Even a sub-heading on need for ‘ New local institutions where older people can find friendship and mutual support'” – Ed.]

“I’m hoping to launch a low cost library press next year to publish books specifically for professional development of library and information professionals and students. As such, they are likely to tend towards the practical in approach and are likely to include case studies and examples. We’re less likely to publish learned monographs (though we may do if the right ones come along!), and more likely to publish books that are directly practical. The price will be at a level that should be affordable to students / professionals rather than libraries. We hope that because of these factors, we would not be strictly in competition with existing publishers, but instead complement them by providing low cost books for professional development and students. Some more thoughts are on http://innovativelibraries.org.uk/index.php/press/ and on the crowdfunding site I’ve set up to raise initial fundinghttp://igg.me/at/librarypress/x/774169. So, I’d like to ask list members – what books would you like to see written? Can you suggest authors / editors for book ideas you’ve suggested? Please email me directly with ideas!” Andrew Walsh

International news

  • 15 retro photos of libraries on wheels – Ebook Friendly (USA). Some great pictures of seriously old (think horses) to 1960s plus mobile libraries. “A first “perambulating” library was reported to operate in 1857 in Cumbria county in North West England.”
  • 3D Printing and Scanning for the People – Architect (USA). “U.S. libraries are giving professionals and hobbyists alike the chance to try out the emerging DIY product-design platform without the overhead equipment costs.” … ” Nearly 50 printing requests are submitted each week, says Nicholas Kerelchuk, who manages the public library’s digital space—meaning the waiting period for one request can be as long as four weeks.”

“You may have had ambitions to do certain things with design [and] now you can do that in your home or at your local library, where you couldn’t have done that before”

  • Cuts and Closures at Canada’s federal libraries – Canadaspastmatters (Canada). “the Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSDC) Libraries included the largest collection of books in Canada on the social sciences. The libraries’ physical collections were entirely phased out as of March 31, 2013. The fate of the HRSDC libraries is not unique. Dozens of federal departmental libraries across the country have been closed or are destined for closure within the next year. No studies were done to assess the impacts of these closures, and for many of the libraries affected there is no clear plan for what will be down with their collections.”
  • Icon of the month: Seattle Public Library – Icon Eye (USA). ” it is one of the few great buildings of the last couple of decades, a hybrid of IM Pei’s late modern megastructures, French Revolutionary visionary ambition, theatrical structure for the sake of it and a kind of middle-finger disrespect to its neighbours, which paradoxically allows it to fit wonderfully well in a city used to change. Open, daring, democratic and intelligent, it is one of the few genuine contemporary masterpieces I can think of.”

UK news by authority

  • Birmingham – Budget proposals – Birmingham Council. One third less mobile stops (£40k cut), one-fifth less Home Library Service visits (affecting 400 people – £60k cut), £50k cut to bookfund, no exhibitions if there is a net cost (£150k cut), £1.65m cut in total. Further cuts expected.
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Frodsham’s new library officially opens heralding closer working with partners – Cheshire West and Chester Council. “The library shares a building with Brio’s Leisure Centre on Princeway, and is opposite the Health Centre. Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Customer Services have moved from the Health Centre and Council enquiries will now be answered in the library.” … “A Work Club and other support for job-seekers is available. There are regular storytimes, rhymetimes and topsy tumbles for younger children.” … “Frodsham Library is the first in the Council to have an out-of-hours self-serve terminal. Customers can return their library books and borrow from a small selection at times when the library is closed and the Leisure Centre is open.”
  • Kirklees – Case Study: Fresh Horizons, Huddersfield – Public Libraries News.  A very positive view of the non-profit trust run Fresh Horizons centre in Huddersfield – increased usage, lower costs and innovative services in one of the most deprived areas.
  • Lincolnshire –  Libraries decision: Foul or fair? – Lincolnite. “Of course, if the decision has made the savings, then this could possibly be reasoned to be ok, however it has not. The costs of missing the budget cut targets, the redundancies and other considerations mentioned above added up come to a staggering £3,632,000 and actually mean that the council could not break even until 2017/18 and then only start to save any money from that point on.”
  • Moray – Libraries campaigners look to a secure future – Inside Moray. “Library users in Burghead took time out on Saturday to celebrate the saving of their local library and to urge people to volunteer in helping it remain open in future.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Local libraries: Your chance to help shape their future in North East Lincolnshire – Grimsby Telegraph. “Residents are being asked to “help shape the future of the area’s library service”, in which costs need to be reduced by up to £500,000 by 2014/2015. Within the consultation, residents, including those who currently don’t use the library service, are being invited to give their views about a range of proposals aimed at reducing the overall cost of the library service.”