National news

  • Loans or sales? – Voices for the Library. ” I now only take books into schools upon specific request and if I am driving and not at the mercy of public transport. This makes the availability of libraries for the children I am visiting, vitally important. If I can’t offer my own books for sale, then I can at least direct children to their local library. “It’s great!” I say, “It’s full of amazing books you can read because you want to – about anything or anyone you’re dying to learn about. And guess what? The books are free to borrow.” For me, as a writer, libraries are cultural gold and sharing this precious national commodity with children in schools is something that gives me immense pride and pleasure. Long may their shelves be full and their doors open.”
  • PMLG  Newsletter ‘Access’ – CILIP.  Includes an article by Annie Mauger on CILIP’s work for public libraries; why the PMLG group is important by John Dolan; CILIP’s change programme and priorities; Myself on Public Libraries News; book reviews (inc. Planet Word; Mobile Library Champion of the Year; information literacy and its relevance to public library staff; committee membership.

“While I understand that CILIP is anxious to show what it is doing to advocate on behalf of public libraries, there is no discussion about the effectiveness of this work and whether a different advocacy strategy would ensure that those in national and local government recognise the value of and necessity for a strategy for the development of the public library service. In a discussion which Janene Cox, Martin Molloy and I had with the Vice Chair of the Local Government Association, he stressed the need for much better and more effective advocacy for the public library service. The same point has been made by many others including national journalists. Perhaps there is a need to encourage a constructive debate about how we can all work together to design and implement an effective advocacy strategy for the service to the benefit of those for whom the service exists to serve.” Desmond Clarke. [Perhaps like this advocacy page from the ALA in the US – Ed.]

  • Public & Mobile Libraries Group – Leon’s Library Blog. “Despite the travails of the past year and the prediction of next year being even worse I am trying to enter the New Year with a sense of optimism. Therefore, I’m hoping the PMLG will provide the political advocacy for public libraries that has been lacking within Cilip so far and that they are not curtailed by the traditional reticence of the Council towards anything that smacks of confrontation with the government…or ACE…or the SCL etc! I am also hoping that the new raft of Council members are willing to be more critical in defence of libraries.”

International news

  • Chicago Public Library’s New Website Goes Amazon – American Libraries (USA). “The new Chicago Public Library (CPL) website will feel more like than the current website, allowing patrons to create book lists, write reviews, and share content with friends.”
  • Historic Tempelhof airport set to be site of grand Berlin library – Guardian. “the city senate unveiled two possible designs for a new central library adjacent to the airport’s disused landing strip. If either of the designs is realised, the building will be intended to become a rival to Paris’s Pompidou Centre: an architectural “statement building” with 3,200 seats for readers, galleries, event spaces, restaurants and a children’s library. The iconic airport will be reborn as a vibrant focal point for the city’s notoriously scattered cultural life.”
  • In Japan, public libraries embrace digital tech with NFCs – Springwise (Japan). “By placing their NFC-enabled smartphone next to the tags, users are directed to a digital inventory of that shelf, which lets them see more information about each book and let them know if any titles are currently on loan. If one they want is currently out, they can reserve the copy and receive a notification once it’s back in stock.”

  • Homeless woman playing piano at Melbourne City Library – Youtube (Australia) Beautiful and poignant.
  • Local park district, then library, reject $3000 donation because it came from atheists – Why Evolution is true (USA)
  • Opportunities for All: The public library as a catalyst for economic, social and cultural development – Irish Government (Eire). “The strategy has been developed in challenging times, economically and socially. Ireland’s public libraries, a national resource network, physically and online, can promote economic growth, stability and community cohesion. The strategy will  position libraries as a key resource in local communities, delivering a broad range of  services more effectively to meet a diverse spectrum of people’s needs in information, learning, literacy, employment skills, business and leisure.”
  • POV + Public Libraries: Partnering to Enhance Civic Engagement – PBS (USA). “POV is proud to partner with more than 300 libraries across the country to bring free screenings of hard-hitting social issue documentaries to their patrons. Many of these events include post-screening discussions and community activities, which begs the question: Do local libraries have the power to spark community action around today’s social issues?”
  • Public Libraries in the Knowledge Society: Core Services of Libraries in Informational World Cities – Libri (Germany and world). A look at what constitutes a library and how well libraries are doing in different categories.  [This has been used in some media to give a “top ranking” of libraries but that is not really what it does … also, including the subscription London Library to represent that city is questionable, especially as it is specificially “public” libraries in the frame, although it does highlight the lack of a central public library – Ed.]
  • Q essay: We must protect the public library – CBC (Canada). “In today’s opening essay, Jian congratulates the three great Canadian library systems that made Heinrich Heine University’s list of best libraries in the world — Vancouver, Montreal (tied for number one) and Toronto (number five).  “That’s three major Canadian libraries in the global top five,” notes Jian, who argues that we would do well to protect the institutions that have evolved from book repositories to community hubs — especially when they see their funding cut and value questioned.”

  • Start here, go anywhere – Free Library of Philly (USA).
  • Top 10 libraries of 2013 – Designboom;  Birmingham is included.
  • Treasured N.S. library gets a helping hand with final checkout – Globe and Mail (Canada). “Bridgewater is getting a new library – a sleek, state-of-the-art space in the town’s new, $34-million Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre. Located in a business park, about a three-minute drive from downtown, it opens on Jan. 2. It will be more than twice the size of the old place, holding 50,000 books. Meanwhile, the 100-year-old former library – once a Bank of Commerce (the washroom was once the vault) – will become a Thai restaurant. As a way of saying goodbye to a treasured place, library officials came up with the idea of engaging the public in the move. They asked that residents each fill two bags with books, extended the lending time from three weeks to six weeks and asked residents to keep the books over Christmas and return them to the new library some time in January.”
  • What does word of mouth marketing really mean? – Library Journal / Ned Potter. “There’s no better way to market your library than to have your users do it for you.” … “92 percent of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of marketing. We know the clever libraries make use of this promotional tool to great effect. But what does WOMM really mean in practical terms?”


  • Libraries in the Digital Age (LIDA) – 16-20 June 2014 in Croatia. “The conference theme is divided into two parts. The first part addresses advances in qualitative assessment methods and practices and the second part covers assessment methods involving alternative metrics based on social media and a wider array of communicative activities, commonly referred to as “altmetrics.”

UK news by authority

  • Bolton – Library group rally to donate toys to children with nothing – Bolton News. “The Library Support Group from Atherton gave £200 worth of toys to the Salvation Army Christmas Gift Appeal, after ToysRUs allowed them to buy the gifts at cost price.”
  • Bristol – Libraries are little more than internet cafes Bristol Post. “As I have already commented public libraries are relics which pre-date our digitalised age, and their wholesale closures are imminent. Once, the current library’s reserve stock was its primary front line source. Over time it was superseded by the books now on display, and they in their time are also being overtaken by a digitalised format which will eventually make them redundant. Bristol’s public libraries are now little more than internet cafes with freebie computer use; as such they should no longer be financed from the public purse, and I eagerly look forward to when the school takes over the entire central library”
  • Bury – Attempt to stop sculpture centre plan at Bury Library fails – Bury Times. “Bury’s Conservative councillors put forward a motion at last Wednesday’s full council meeting, calling on the current footprint and services of the library to be maintained. However Labour councillors voted the motion down, and labelled it as “opportunist, disingenuous and hypocritical”.” … “Earlier in the meeting, Sue Smith, of protest group the Friends of Bury Library, said that their petition against the plans, which has now closed, had received 2,955 signatures.”
  • Carillion (Harrow/Ealing/Hounslow/Croydon) – ‘Positive future’ no more as library management company in consultation with staff over redundancies – Get West London. “Harrow Council’s Independent Labour cabinet member for community and culture at the time Councillor Nizam Ismail said upon signing the contract with JLIS: “We’re delighted that we have managed to secure a positive future for our library service.” That future has resulted in the now-operator of the services, Carillion, looking to make redundancies which are being claimed to equate to 29 posts.” … “Tony Henderson of Carillion told the Observer: “The position at the moment is we are in a consultation period. There are discussions with staff and their trade unions and no decisions have been made yet.””
  • Edinburgh – ‘Superhero’ librarians are saved after public outcry – Edinburgh News. “City council bosses were considering slashing 12 librarian posts at the city’s 23 high schools as part of a cuts package aimed at saving around £400,000. But the Evening News can exclusively reveal school libraries are no longer under threat as education chiefs promise to keep a full-time service at 

“… it is only possible to continue funding service A at the expense of services B – both of which will produce evidence of its’ value to the community. This Council is in constant discussion with voluntary groups, Town and Parish Councils and the private sector about how such services can be supported by sources other than the taxpayer. Our current consultation asked the public if they would be prepared to pay more Council Tax to do this and the response was a resounding NO. Our options are simple but unattractive – become more efficient, charge more or do less.  So far we have cut annual costs by over £23m (another £34m to go!) by being more efficient and substantial job losses. We continue to seek all the alternatives outlined in your letter i.e. seeking outside grants, co locating libraries with other services, better use of buildings, modern technology etc . and will continue so to do but ultimately we are still left with no option than reduce hours and offer professional help to those groups willing and able to run the libraries for them selves where otherwise they would close.” Cllr Tony Johnson, Leader of Herefordshire Council (via email).

  • Hertfordshire – Final chance to have your say on the future of Hertfordshire’s libraries – Herts and Essex Observer. “As part of a 10-week public consultation, more than 11,000 people have already completed questionnaires giving their views on what sort of service they would like to see.”
  • Lincolnshire – A fresh approach to making library services efficient – Bourne Local. “So far, we’ve had expressions of interest for 25 existing libraries, as well as seven communities wanting to create brand-new facilities. That means we’re likely to end up with even more static libraries than we started with. Communities will receive a comprehensive support package, including more than £5,000 per year to put towards their running costs and ongoing professional advice. Groups can also get a one-off grant of £15,000 to help set up their facility, with the council maintaining the exterior of the buildings on which it has the freehold. In addition, the council will continue to run the existing libraries at reduced hours for up to a year, giving volunteers plenty of time to lay firm foundations for the future.”
  • Lincolnshire – Good job Mr Worth but what’s next – Lincolnshire Free Press. “I am delighted that Holbeach Academy and Lincoln University have stepped forward to take on our library. I also accept that Coun Worth has done well in the negotiations that achieved this result. It’s worth remembering however, that he is the cabinet member who pushed through the withdrawal of funding for libraries, against the advice of the appropriate county committee, that many libraries still face an uncertain future and that the savings made are very small compared with the county total budget.”
  • Lincolnshire – Is council failing in its legal duty? – Stamford Mercury / Letter. “Under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, a local council has a legal obligation to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. It would seem to me that closing a library in a place with a population of 20,000 and replacing it with a mobile library is failing to fulfil the first obligation, and not having professional staff to run a library would be failing to fulfil the second.”
  • Lincolnshire – Letter: How can Lincolnshire County Council’s U-Turn on libraries be thrilling? – Horncastle News. “Our library will (pathetically) only be open for three days out of six which is hardly a ‘thrill’ to users who will now suffer the inconvenience of restricted access to the services offered, including literature, computer use, advice from ELDC staff on their services, general information and access to the Town Clerk.”
  • Sefton – Carnegie library’s future in doubt as council stall on bid reviews rejection decision – Crosby Herald. “future of Crosby’s axed Carnegie library remains in doubt after council officers deferred a decision to reject a community group’s rescue package. Sefton’s Scrutiny Committee met on Tuesday evening to review the move to close both Carnegie and Aintree libraries following a number of protests from councillors angry at the bid process which saw community groups denied the chance to run both libraries.”
  • Sheffield – Funding promise for Sheffield library facing closure – Star. “In 2010, Sheffield Council agreed to give £300,000 of capital funding towards another venue, after officers highlighted fire risks and a maintenance backlog at the original building.
  • Southend – New era for Southend libraries…but can volunteers make a success of council’s big idea? – Echo. “Westcliff and Southchurch libraries are set to become “community libraries”, run by volunteers rather than fully trained professional librarians, over the course of the next two years.” … “Volunteers will also be replacing some paid staff at Leigh and Kent Elms libraries, although some librarians will be retained to run the two libraries in the west of the borough.” … “But opponents fear too few people will step forward, degrading the service and leading to the closure of Westcliff or Southchurch libraries.”
  • Staffordshire – Community volunteers could be drafted in to run libraries as part of a major-shake-up in Staffordshire – Sentinel. Some libraries to volunteers or to be closed. “libraries in villages could move into other buildings, such as church halls. And instead of having paid librarians, some could be managed by local residents.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Petition to save Penarth Library is handed in to Vale Council – Penarth Daily News. “The public petition to ‘Save Penarth Library’ has been  presented to the Vale of Glamorgan Council having been signed by 1,855 local people. Meanwhile PDN sources say that the official Vale Council consultation on library services – which closed on December 15th –  has had a much larger than expected response in Penarth. “
  • Warwickshire – Library in plea for volunteers – Nuneaton News. “”These aren’t roles you might normally associate with a library, we’re looking for all kinds of different people and skills to bring something different to many of our libraries. “We’d love to hear from as many people as possible, who want to offer as much or as little time as they can spare.”
  • Wiltshire – Army of Wiltshire library volunteers is best in the west – Wiltshire Times. “The 754 volunteers, more than 300 higher than second-placed Plymouth, last year gave 26,699 hours of their time working in Wiltshire’s 31 branch libraries and five mobile libraries.” [Average is therefore less than one full time per week given per volunteer – Ed.]

“Our volunteers play a vital role in our libraries and I welcome this opportunity to publicly thank them, and the staff working alongside them, for their valuable contribution and dedication which has enabled us to keep all our libraries open. “We recognise that this is not the case in other local authority areas and it is down to these volunteers that we have not had to reduce this valuable service and in some libraries we now offer extended opening times.” Cllr Jonathon Seed

  • Worcestershire – Just 40p a month will meet the shortfall, says Upton Town Council – Worcester News. “Concerned councillors in Upton upon Severn have come up with a plan for every household in the town and surrounding areas to pay a monthly council tax supplement to keep the prized facility going. They say they have been told by Worcestershire County Council that the library needs to find annual savings of £25,000.”

“Upton Town Councillors may well find themselves in breach of Statute if they continue to push this one. Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (1)(2) it is illegal to make a separate charge to the public for council owned public library services. Gloucester CC among others is currently under investigation for attempting such. Do not these people seek legal advice before dreaming up such schemes and do they not educate themselves in their duties and responsibilities before standing for public office?” Comment on article above.