UK news

  • Annual review 2013 – CILIP. A very upbeat report on what has to have been seen as a chequered year for the organisation, with only one coded reference to the rebranding (which ended in a large vote against the proposals).  
  • British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Reuse & Remix – Open Culture. “We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain.”
  • December 2013 CIPFA Figures – Society of Chief Librarians. “The December 2013 CIPFA figures show that libraries are working to achieve the right balance between maintaining and building upon the service that communities depend on and the necessity to reduce costs. In the face of not only a changing library landscape but completely new ways in which people access information, public libraries have innovated and expanded the services they offer, always in tune with local community need. These new ways of working have meant that more members of the community have the opportunity to volunteer in libraries in different roles–part of a 9 percent increase in volunteers across all sectors since 2005 as people have become more focused on local decision-making …”

“What on earth are they thinking? Many campaigners fighting to save their libraries from cuts and closure will find this statement to be sick and demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of the needs of so many communities in Herefordshire, Lincolnshire, Bolton etc, etc, etc….. The 20% of librarians who’ve lost their jobs in the last 3 years must also be astonished and let down by this glossing over of the issues. Will SCL members push for this statement to be removed?” Elizabeth Ash on Lis-Pub-Libs

  • On my first job – Huffington Post. “My education began in the library, where I read every book I could get my hands on. Before long, I wanted to be–among other things–a writer. I read books about it, and I learned that the chance of making a living writing novels was remote. But I also learned that if I got a job on a newspaper they’d have to pay me every week.”

“I’m a bestselling author with foreign editions I’d like to donate to appropriate libraries. I’m sure there are some libraries with a large Polish or Czech readership who could use them, though I have 15 languages in all. Beverley – if anyone wants any copies, let her know (mjobev at

  • SCL’s Cipfa Response – Question Everything. “We have a huge problem if this is how the SCL really think things are or is this just dog whistling to show the powers that be they are onside with their “localism” agenda? You know, the one where you pay all the tax and have to provide a library to yourself or it closes and everything is rosy in the garden.” … ” The Guardian poll at time of writing (15/12/2013) had the answer to the question “Should libraries rely on volunteers?” at 94% no to 6% yes. In their mission statement the SCL claim to act behalf of local people, perhaps they should reflect upon that a bit. “
  • Wimpy Kid library reading marathon a hit – Reading Agency (press release). “Christmas has come early – thanks to The Reading Agency and publishers Puffin – for readers of the much-loved Wimpy Kid children’s books at Clyst Vale Dual Use Library, based in Exeter’s Clyst Vale Community College. The library is announced today as the winner of a UK-wide competition to create the best library ‘fan board’ based on Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, the eighth and latest Wimpy Kid novel by Jeff Kinney.”

“I was thrilled to hear of the success of the recent Wimpy Kid Marathon in libraries across the UK, I hope all those ‘super fans’ who took part enjoyed sharing their favourite moments across all eight books. And I’d particularly like to thank all those librarians who made such fantastic displays! It’s a real pleasure to be able to support The Reading Agency and UK libraries.” Jeff Kinney

  • With friends like these… – Library Campaign. “Volunteers are not just supplementing a proper professional service, but are increasingly being forced to run branches all by themselves. Nobody wants that. And we’d expect librarians to make this point loud and clear. Yet the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) did the exact opposite. The Library Campaign is appalled to see the SCL express nothing beyond bland acceptance.”

We appreciate that SCL members are among those setting up volunteer libraries. But we know none who argue that they provide as good a service as professionals. It is a great pity when a major professional body fails to articulate the importance of its skills. It is even more of a pity to do so at a time of unprecedented damage, when library services need all the help they can get to protect standards. The bland language used implies uncritical support of the entire current race to destruction. Sometimes – often – we feel that it is only library users and campaigners that stand up for librarians.” Library Campaign

International news

  • Card catalog: birth and death of a technology – Reading, Writing, Research (USA). A very full illustrated history fo the card catalogue.
  • “Libraries DO-ing it”: a project melding literature and wine – Gencat (Spain / Catalonia). “Throughout 2013, 25 public libraries participated in this melding of literature and wine, taking turns on a monthly basis to serve as display cases for their own regional Denominació d’origen (DO) wines.  Diverse activities were organised: literary cocktails, reading groups, music, wine tasting, public readings, exhibitions, etc.”
  • Maker Spaces in Libraries: The state of the art  – Public Libraries News. Copy, with permission, of survey results posted on lis-pub-libs showing what is happening in largely US libraries [It’s a shame that there are almost none in the UK – Ed.]
  • Public Libraries Are Better Than Congress, Baseball, and Apple Pie, Say Americans – Atlantic. (USA). “Tellingly, the Times could find no one to argue against libraries, and that mirrors American sentiment pretty much exactly. A new Pew study finds that not only do Americans adore libraries, but a majority of us think they’re adjusting to new technology just fine.  As my colleague Svati Narula reported, some 94 percent of Americans say that having a public library improves a community and that the local library is a “welcoming, friendly place.” 91 percent said they had never had “a negative experience using a public library, either in person or online.””
  • Ten Stories That Shaped 2013 – LIS News (USA).  MOOCs, New Librarians and spying scandals are just three.
  • ‘Zero-hours contracts are not poisonous and councils should proudly use them’ – Guardian / Public Service Reform Hub. “Tough times require tough measures and as recent figures show even responsible employers such as local authorities are turning increasingly to so-called temporary staff in order to keep, in this case, public services going. In the context of local government, this adaptability and increased flexibility could be seen as refreshing, admirable even.” … “Perhaps the real reason it sometimes feels as if we are operating under the radar is because we typify the de-professionalisation of soft services – those where intelligence and quality of character, rather than vocational training, are what really count. This new economic realism threatens vested interests, in local government and beyond.”


  • Second free libraries seminar for new portfolio holders – LGA. 11th February at Library of Birmingham. “With councils likely to face a funding gap of £16.5 billion a year by 2019/20, councils have to look beyond existing efficiency savings to ensure they continue to deliver a comprehensive and efficient library service. This free one-day member seminar will offer delegates a unique opportunity to hear good practice and discuss the challenges and opportunities presented in their councils.”

UK news by authority

  • Bradford – New library opens in Silsden Town Hall – Craven Herald and Pioneer. “The facilities include a new self-service bay where people can scan books in and out without having to see staff. There are 2,000 books in the ground-floor library and thousands more can be ordered for delivery from other libraries across Bradford district. The library, in the former council chamber on the ground floor, will be staffed for more than 30 hours a week.”
  • Brent – Barham Library campaign to oppose Trustees’ Appeal – Wembley Matters. “The attempt to change the planning designation from ‘community use’  for the Barham Library building  failed when the Planning Committee voted by 6 votes to 1 to refuse the planning application on the grounds that there would then be far too little genuine ‘community space’ in the remaining parts of the building. Sadly the Labour Councillors who sit as Trustees of the Barham Park Charity (the Charity and not the Council own the building) have now decided to spend around £10,000 on an Appeal against the decision of the Planning Committee. “
  • Bristol – Book Hive animatronic celebrates 400 years of public libraries in Bristol – Arts Council England. “A giant living sculpture known as Book Hive is bringing books to life and thrilling visitors to Bristol Central Library in a celebration of 400 years of public libraries in the city. Bristol’s award-winning creative robotics collective Rusty Squid has created the installation with an award of £88,241 from Arts Council England’s National Lottery-funded Grants for the arts scheme.” … “Over 40 volunteers have been trained as Book Hive Keepers, to help with public engagement and keep the sculpture looking its best. Workshops are also planned to allow people to join in with the Book Hive build as well as a programme of book-related events.”
  • Bristol – Central Library art installation – Youtube. “A stunning Bookhive has been created by artists collective Rusty Squid in the entrance foyer of Bristol Central Library to mark the 400th anniversary of the first library being built in Bristol. Come and have a look at this unique art installation which reacts to visitors as they enter the building…”
  • Devon – Libraries help the Devon economy – Exeter Express and Echo. “Libraries have a role in helping new and small businesses grow, says Dr Stephen Fear, Entrepreneur in Residence and Ambassador at The British Library. Dr Fear was speaking in Exeter to business leaders at a briefing by Devon County Council, hosted by Ashfords, about a new resource within Exeter’s Central Library that will give businesses access to high quality business and ‘Intellectual Property’ (IP) information.”
  • Herefordshire – Campaigners protest over Herefordshire library cuts – BookSeller. “Council leader Tony Johnson said: “We have less, so, even after efficiencies, we must do less.” The Herefordshire Library Support Group, which is made of of a number of separate users groups, has now written to all Herefordshire councillors, as well as local MPs Jesse Norman and Bill Wiggin, urging them to reconsider before any budget is adopted in 2014.”

“It is understood that Herefordshire County Council is proposing that all the 10 libraries in the county – with the exception of  City Library in Hereford – are to be handed over to the local community to run, with very little support centrally. The proposal will be considered by the full council in mid-January … Campaigners have indicated their surprise that Herefordshire, one of the most rural counties in England, is not to be investigated by the Arts Council England (ACE) for its Rural Impact of Library Changes research … It is important to note that the local campaign groups have made a number of constructive suggestions to the Council as to how the required savings could best be achieved without transferring libraries to community groups. ” Herefordshire – Desmond Clarke

“I have seen colleagues dragging themselves in to work, and risking infecting the rest of us with whatever they are suffering with, because each day off sick counts as 10 points (out of a possible 200) off their re-employment score.”

  • Lincolnshire – Green light for plan to take on town’s library – Spalding Today. “The future of Holbeach Library appears safe after plans by the town’s academy and university campus to run it won favour with county councillors. Plans by University Academy Holbeach and the University of Lincoln to take over running the library in Church Street were first revealed by the Guardian in September after a public meeting organised by Holbeach Parish Council. News that the plans had met Lincolnshire County Council’s criteria for library services was confirmed by Coun Nick Worth at a parish council meeting on Monday.”
  • Lincolnshire – Protest toys put outside Louth Library – Louth Leader. “Someone left these cuddly toys outside Louth Library in protest to changes to the county library service.”
  • Luton – Closing time for Luton’s libraries – Luton Today. “Visitors to these libraries over the next six weeks will be given an information booklet about how the changes to the library service may affect them. The booklet contains information for affected library users about how to reach their two closest libraries by public transport and car, as well as how to use Luton Libraries Online.”
  • Nottingham – Frank, 2, signs up in crusade to save Bakersfield Library – Nottingham Post. “Frank wrote: “I really like the library. It is near my house. I talk about it a lot and I read the books. If it goes, I will really miss it.” He signed the letter with his hand print and asked other children to show support by doing the same. The 20ft-long letter had more than 100 hand prints.”
  • Sheffield – Council urged to think again – Sheffield Telegraph. “Members of the Friends of Zest Group said Upperthorpe Library should be used as a model for other community libraries rather than be closed. Parent David Smith said: “I bring my children down to swimming lessons here every week – whilst one swims, the other sits and reads with me in the library.”
  • Southend – Fourteen staff to go from Southend’s libraries – Julian’s Musings. “There will a reduction of approximately fourteen staff. These are part-time positions, and so are being described as six to seven full time equivalent employees. The smaller the number, the less the pain (or so it is supposed); call it spin if you care to.”
  • Southend – New chapter opens for Southend Libraries – Southend Council. “At last night’s full Council meeting, Southend-on-Sea Borough Councillors formally adopted the proposals which emerged from a lengthy and wide-ranging review of library services.”. “There will be an east hub library on a new site in Delaware Road, Shoebury, replacing Friars and Thorpedene Libraries. Leigh and Kent Elms will both become hub libraries with a mix of paid and volunteer staff. Southchurch and Westcliff will be managed by the community”
  • Southend – So close, and yet so far away: a night of missed opportunities – Julian’s musings. “I spoke in the debate on the Future of Southend Library Services. I suggested that I could have asked a question about what sort of wheel has two hubs and only one spoke; and answered my own question with reference to the struggling portfolio holder’s dismal performance in answering questions thus far. I also pointed out the irony that this minute was adjacent to that on the Skills Strategy.”
  • Stoke on Trent – Library a lifeline for all residents – Stoke Sentinel. “It is a lifeline to the elderly (for whom to travel to another one would be particularly inconvenient) and a haven for the young, for whom it is often the only place where they can do their school homework properly. In particular, the librarians there make an essential contribution to Meir society, being particularly welcoming, friendly and efficient. To lose that branch would be to take the heart from a struggling urban village.”