More children’s libraries stuff is coming in, all of it good.  Not so good is the difference of opinion in Swindon between two letter writers, one in favour of paid library staff and one in charge of library volunteers.  The claim by the latter that “To claim that paid staff can in any way give a better service is ridiculous. The job is neither difficult nor too demanding and the one thing they do bring along that paid staff cannot is local people talking to local people.” may make some of you reading this choke a little.  If so, you may want to read a new piece about the dangers of mixing volunteers and personal data and breathe a little better. Breathe, damn it!

An interesting Arts-Council funded initiative has been announced by Locality, which is researching ways public libraries are making (and can make) money from non-traditional library services/ideas.  They are asking for the completion of a short online questionnaire by 11th February.

Finally, a story has surfaced from the United States that means that those interested in UK public libraries may want to keep an eye on the salaries of the leaders of any new libraries trusts.  It turns out that the boss of the Queen’s library trust in New York has a salary of $390k (£235k – more than the mayor) plus gets a nice car free every three years and (get this) apparently also a 250 square foot area of desking, built with teak tile, as a “private smoking area” by his office.  I may have to move there.  Except, sadly I wouldn’t get a job as the same trust has lost 130 posts too, which must make for some interesting staff meetings.

Please continue to send your children’s library pictures and thoughts to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk.  I also welcome any news public library related stories, thoughts or comments on the same email address.


Children’s libraries

" Our Big Lottery funded Junction 3 library opened in March with a Reading Tunnel and Slide in the children’s library. It has caused a stir – it is fair to say, with both staff and the public but how lovely to have the space to cause a stir!" Bristol - Sent in by Kate Murray, Head of Libraries

” Our Big Lottery funded Junction 3 library opened in March with a Reading Tunnel and Slide in the children’s library. It has caused a stir – it is fair to say, with both staff and the public but how lovely to have the space to cause a stir!” Bristol – Sent in by Kate Murray, Head of Libraries

“My son has been coming to the library since he was born and it is and always has been a place of wonder and imagination. It has comfy furniture where we could read together, helpful staff who lead amazing baby rhymetimes and a wonderful space to spark his imagination. He didn’t need toys, he had them at playgroups and mum and toddler times, he wanted books. My local library provided them in abundance. As he grew up he went to the library with his school and enjoyed weekend events at the library where the Wildlife Trust came in or Star Wars was brought to life with a visit from the Storm Troopers. (I am not sure he wanted a petting zoo – we have one of those we can visit locally)

He did the Summer Reading Challenge every year and then took part in the older activity we have in our library authority. He then was invited to volunteer at his local library helping with the Summer Reading Challenge and he jumped at the chance, which has been doing for the last three years. He took part in My Library project, where he was able to help the library decide on issues such as provision of stock, and reading lists.

My local library may not be the Mountain of books in Mexico, or the Museum of New York, but if you ask my son he would say it was. My local library has provided my son and the rest of my family with a safe social space that is free to go to. You may visit Chelmsford Library and not like the colour of the walls, or the layout, but he does and for me that matters more.  I thought that as you had asked for pictures and information I would give them to you. However, I find that my library has done it better than me so here is a video that really shows how brilliant our library is.  Have a look at the Love your library video. I think it really shows how good are the children’s libraries are and what my local library has to offer (A Dalek beats a petting zoo hands down!) – Would he keep going back if it was ‘boring’?” “Joseph’s Mum” (via email, in response to my post of Sunday – Ed.)

Your Library: the heart of your community – The video that Joseph’s Mum mentions above.
National UK news

  • Data protection and volunteer-led libraries – Voices for the Library. Looks at concerns from several sources about having non-council and unpaid staff being able to look at personal information (including addresses and interests) on the library computers.
  • Enabling enterprise in libraries – Locality. “Locality is pleased to announce that it is working with Arts Council England to explore existing good practice and assess the further potential to enable enterprise amongst library service providers. The project will involve research to identify and understand the types of enterprising activities that libraries already undertake or could undertake to generate additional income – both to invest in library service enhancement and to improve their overall resilience and sustainability.”

“We would very much like to hear from organisations that are already involved with and/or seeking to develop enterprising activities within a library context – so, please complete our short online questionnaire to share your views. The deadline for completion is the 11 of February.” Locality/Arts Council England

  • Hundreds of events across the UK will celebrate National Libraries Day – National Libraries Day. “Now in its third year, the national celebration of libraries and library staff will round off a week’s worth of events and activities in public, school, college, university, and workplace libraries highlighting their work promoting learning, literacy and the enjoyment of reading to all. Best-selling author and the first ever National Libraries Day Ambassador Lesley Pearse will be speaking at libraries throughout February starting at Paulton Library in an event in conjunction with BBC Radio Bristol on Wednesday 5 February. Lesley said “I am so very proud to be asked to be the first Ambassador for National Libraries Day. To me libraries are one of the most important assets we have in the UK, and should be kept going at all costs.”

“The Reading Agency will be running an online campaign to dispel 5 common myths about libraries. They’re asking members of the public to create videos, photos, short stories, essays or poems which illustrate how libraries are not these things: boring, irrelevant, old fashioned, places where you have to be quiet or places where you have to pay to join or borrow.”

  • Spending crisis could spark a local government finance revolution – Guardian / Local Leaders Network. “We are not even halfway through the cuts already declared, yet we are asking volunteers to run services such as libraries and museums. Without any change of direction where will we have got to by the end of the decade – volunteer children’s social workers? It could happen.”


  • Creative use of ICT in public libraries – EIFL. Six of the most innovative IT library users win awards: community map-making in Colombia, online library-produced community magazine in Croatia, e-lending in Estonia, video-conferencing in Kenya, IT laboratory in Poland. weight-reduction programme in Romania.
  • Library supply change could threaten Irish jobs – BookSeller (Eire) behind paywall. “Up to 100 booksellers could lose their jobs if library supply in Ireland is centralised, European Booksellers Federation president John McNamee has…”
  • Opinion: Silence no longer golden in libraries where noise seems to be order of the day – Courier Mail (Australia). “Suddenly a baby started wailing. A crying baby! In a library! Back in my day, a crying baby in the library would have been “disappeared” like a Soviet dissident. Librarians were secret police and they’d come and tear the mother and her baby from the library and shove them into a van, metaphorically. Back then, libraries took silence seriously. As a child, a librarian once told me to remove my thongs because they “squeaked too much”. But now even librarians engage visitors in loud, idle chit-chat. What happened to the stoic sourpusses of yesteryear? The kinds of librarians who combined a love of silence with the inflexibility of religious fundamentalism. The final nail in the coffin of my beloved old libraries was hearing a mother bellow for three minutes for her sproglet to “get away from the TV!” That’s right, there was a flat-screen TV. In a library. With the volume up.”
  • Queens Library president gets $390G salary, luxe office makeover while shedding 130 jobs – New York Daily News (USA). Salary is on top of luxuries like “A 250-square-foot rooftop deck adjacent to Galante’s office for use as his private smoking area. Built with teak tile, furnished with wrought-iron furniture, and surrounded by two dozen evergreens that shield it from onlookers, the deck’s tab alone was more than $27,000.” and a luxury car. This is possible because “the Queens, Brooklyn and New York Public Library systems are technically private nonprofit groups, even though their funds come almost exclusively from the city budget. This murky status allows them to quietly shell out huge executive salaries.”
  • Shifting from Shelves to Snowflakes – Medium (USA). “The subtle odor of melting plastic welcomes you to the Maker Lab at the Harold Washington Public Library in downtown Chicago. Whiteboards covered in scribbles line the bright green walls rather than bookshelves. Librarians aren’t shushing patrons: people talk loudly over the low hum of 3D printers and laser cutters.” … “This is in line with the mission of libraries to educate, but also marks a shift from a focus on accessing knowledge into directly teaching people to create new work. “

“The Maker Lab has been a huge success. “It’s been crazy popular. We can’t keep up with demand for classes,” says Pedro Leon, one of the librarians who works in the Maker Lab. “People have been reading about technologies like 3D printers for a long time. This is giving them an opportunity to learn this stuff.”

Local UK news by authority

  • Brent – Hypocrisy claims over bid to get closed libraries reopened in Brent – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Calls by opposition councillors to re-open closed libraries in the borough were quashed during a heated debate … Cllr Lorber, who has pledged to re-open the branches if his party wins the Council Election in May, said: “Labour councillors would rather ignore local people’s views than admit they were wrong. “The council spends around a quarter of a billion pounds each year yet Labour refuses to find the relatively small amount of money needed to give us back our libraries.” but council says ““By introducing seven day a week opening, extended opening hours, free Wi-Fi, iPads and new stock including online magazines and DVDs, Brent’s Labour-run council has bucked national trends and increased the number of residents making use of our fantastic local libraries.””
  • Croydon – Upper Norwood Library recruiting after £15,000 IT grant – Inside Croydon. “The Upper Norwood Library Trust has been awarded £15,000 from the People’s Health Trust to provide IT training and free access to computers at the library for disadvantaged local residents as a way to engage them in learning and reduce social exclusion.” … ““We are very grateful for the moral and financial support of Lambeth Council and the albeit much reduced funding from Croydon Council. This project is a great way to demonstrate to all our local authority stakeholders that our library can play a massive role in community cohesion, social inclusion and education.”
  • Hull – Cash-strapped council to shed 450 jobs – Yorkshire Post. “The figure is an increase on those released last month as it includes at least 60 posts which face the axe after management and unions at Hull Council agreed new terms and conditions which saved only half the £2.8m the council had hoped for. The mobile library service will close and opening hours will be cut at libraries and museums, while ratepayers will see a 1.95 per cent increase in their council tax bills, just under the threshold to trigger a referendum.”
  • Lincolnshire – Warning over library opening hours cut ahead of handover – Spalding Today. “University Academy Holbeach and the University of Lincoln are to jointly run the library in Church Street after impressing Lincolnshire County Council with their plans to make it a centre of learning in Holbeach. But terms are still to be finalised and Holbeach county councillor Nick Worth warned that if the academy and university aren’t ready to take over on May 6, the library’s opening hours will be cut.”
  • Nottinghamshire – CD hire fees set to drop in libraries – Nottingham Post. “Plans have been unveiled which will mean the £1 per week charge being dropped. Other charges at the library, such as the cost of printouts, faxes and language courses, are expected to stay the same. However, charges for gallery hire at West Bridgford will increase from £200 to £250 for six weeks. But they will reduce at Worksop.”

  • Richmond – Dance in Libraries.  “Dance in Libraries is a two-year project placing choreographers as artists in residence in the borough libraries of Richmond upon Thames. This short film docuemnts the rehearsal process and performances of Dance in Libraries 2013 artist Seke Chimutengwende and Frauke Requardt. Dance in Libraries is funded by Arts Council England and is run in partnership by Richmond Council Arts and Library services”
  • Sheffield – Broomhill group rejects council plans – Star. “Campaigners in Broomhill have said they ‘reject’ proposals to shut 11 libraries and allow others to be run by volunteers. In its response to Sheffield Council’s library review, Broomhill Library Action Group said the assessment to decide which facilities should close was ‘not carried out on a credible or robust basis’” … “A survey was carried out in Broomhill in which 40 per cent of respondents said they would not be able to use another library if the closure went ahead”
  • Sheffield – Readathon gives boost to library campaign – Sheffield Telegraph. “The event took place at Upperthorpe Library, with 100 people taking it in turns to read out loud from more than 50 books. Pupils from Netherthorpe Primary – who visit the library every week – kicked off the epic read with Roald Dahl’s Matilda.”
  • Suffolk – County council’s budget set to go to full meeting – Ipswich Star. “Labour councillor Mandy Gaylard hit out at the council’s transfer of libraries: “Surveys said 80% of people wanted libraries to remain as a publicly-funded service but the county went ahead with getting rid of them.” Mr Noble hit back, pointing out that all the county’s libraries had remained open, and they were still funded by the county although they are now run by a social enterprise.”
  • Swindon – Valuable volunteers – Swindon Advertiser / Letters. “The library, as everyone knows, was to be closed in 2009 because of under use and high staffing costs. This was avoided by moving the charity shop into the library building and manning it with local volunteers. The lending rate in 2012 was the same as that quoted in this newspaper in 2009, low but with the costs of staffing virtually zero compared to £30,000 in 2009.” … “We have ten volunteers, four of whom are trained to help users, and have full access to all the library facilities. To claim that paid staff can in any way give a better service is ridiculous. The job is neither difficult nor too demanding and the one thing they do bring along that paid staff cannot is local people talking to local people.”