Editorial – my thoughts on the free e-journals from Access to Research

Many library authorities, such as the one I work in, no longer have access to magazines or periodicals at all due to budget cuts. Similarly, our online periodical presence is limited to ten or so populist titles plus the national newspapers. This means at the moment that, when someone walks in and asks if we have a journal or research on a particular sector then the answer is almost always no.  It is against such an environment that locally this initiative will be judged.  Make no mistake,  I’m not talking about the highly online capable who will get it some other way but rather about someone who barely uses a computer, can’t afford to get to college much and needs something for an assignment that instant.  Thankfully, this free offer will mean that we don’t have to turn people away.

I would agree with the comments on the THE that it makes little sense to limit the offer to physical buildings but we’re beggars not choosers.  Yes, it’s a crumb off the table but if we’re being starved of food (and we are) then that’s fine by me and we’d be mistaken to turn it down.  Of course the publishers have an agenda but, at this juncture, their agenda tallies with ours – getting people in through the door and not disappointing them. This is not to say that nationally we should not argue for something more.  We should.  There is also a danger that this project will be used by those who amusingly suggest that e-books should only be downloaded by physically visiting a local branch.  However, I’m happy with this gift horse today.

This editorial was also used in a reply on Lis-Pub-Libs

If you have any news, thoughts or information that you would like to share then please email me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk


National news

“CILIP believes that librarians and information professionals, especially school librarians and children’s specialists in public libraries, have a vital role in teaching children effective and safe use of the internet and pointing them to online resources. They also advise parents, carers and others with responsibilities for children.”

  • Libraries hacked – Find My Library. “hack days are exciting, and they create a buzz around a single event.  Often with prizes, food and drink, and the chance to network, get to know people, and work in teams – they are a very different thing than people just having their own personal projects.  Hack days also aren’t about trying to get people to work for free.”

“A library seems a perfect environment for a hack day.  It has: – The venue.  City libraries would definitely be appropriate places to host such an event, and would likely have the broadband infrastructure to support it. – The data.  Libraries are teeming with data and information.  If you want access to open data then the library is a good place to be (or it certainly should be). – The need.  Libraries could do with inviting the public in for technology innovation.  In a world that talks of a library without books as being innovative, they could do with some alternative ideas.  It would be great to see a mass of developers spending a weekend hacking together solutions with library systems. – The appeal.  People love libraries.  You don’t have to be a genius to work that out.  If any hack day is going to appeal to people, it’s going to be a library hack.”

  • Martina Cole champions reading on the high seas – Reading Agency (press release). “Reading has the power to transform lives at sea as well as on land, as international bestselling author Martina Cole discovered today, when she visited the Marine Society to celebrate their success in bringing The Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge adult literacy programme to seafarers worldwide.” … The “Marine Society sent out Challenge books to crews on over 40 container ships which they regularly supply with books. The Six Book Challenge supports Marine Society’s belief that seafarers deserve access to career and life-enhancing education through to professional development, making sure nobody misses out wherever they are in the world.”
  • Publishers launch free journal access for libraries – Times Higher Education. “It expected the initiative to have a “major impact” – particularly if it was accompanied by a “clear marketing strategy” to alert people to its existence.”

“I’m completely, completely baffled by this. The idea that people should get in a car and drive to a special magic building in order to read papers that their own computers are perfectly capable of downloading is so utterly wrong-headed I struggle to find words for it. It’s a nineteenth-century solution to a twentieth-century problem. In 2014. ” Mike Taylor, commenter on Access To Research


  • Angry residents torch library, home – Citizen (South Africa). “Police on the scene showed their frustration by shouting at some of those arrested. “You don’t want better lives. You are burning your children’s education. You are burning their books,” one policeman said. Residents have been struggling to buy prepaid electricity. According to the City of Tshwane”

“You don’t want better lives. You are burning your children’s education. You are burning their books” South African policeman

  • Cross-faith crowd-funding helps rebuild torched Lebanon library – CNN (Lebanon). “A priest’s flock is crowd-funding $35,000 to restore a renowned Lebanese library, which was set on fire a few weeks ago. Between a quarter and a third of the 85,000 titles in the Maktabat al-Sa’eh (The Pilgrim’s Bookshop) in the northern city of Tripoli were destroyed by the fire, according to reports, including a pair of 200-year-old Muslim manuscripts. The 40-year-old antiquarian bookstore and library in the old city souk of the Serail neighborhood is the life’s work of Ibrahim Sarrouj, a Greek Orthodox priest. Since the attack by suspected Muslim extremists, hundreds of people have come out in support of Sarrouj, helping with the clean-up, donating books and setting up an online crowd-funding effort to refurbish the library.”

  • South Korean public libraries – Eight minute video including a traditional well-funded one with cooking lessons on site, a volunteer-run cafe/library, a “comic book” library with a theatre and one which has a very full activity programme for children on weekends.
  • Dunkin’ Brands Opens More Than 50 Non-Traditional U.S. Locations in 2013 – Wall Street Journal (USA).  Doughnut brand has new shop in West Palm Beach Public Library and is looking for more.
  • Pay Day Loan Website List – Govsugar. “Many Local Authorities have taken the action to block access to Payday Loan Websites from their Public access computers, in a bid to protect their residents from getting into financial difficulties.” … 867 sites listed as of check, with [I suspect – Ed.] most public library computers barred from using them.
  • Unconventional libraries sprout up around Prague – Prague Post (Czech Republic). “Monika Serbusová and her friend Pavel Železný feel nostalgic for the old telephone booths disappearing from Prague streets. It crossed their mind that they could be rebuilt into public libraries. They immediately started searching sponsors to fund the project. The Telefónica phone operator’s foundation liked the creative idea, and it gave them both money and seven unused telephone booths that Monika and Pavel repaired and varnished. They also made bookshelves of old crates and installed them in the booths.”


  • Interlend – 23-24 June in Edinburgh. Call for speakers: “As the premier UK inter-lending community conference, Interlend annually attracts around 60-80 interlending staff from all levels of seniority, although it should be noted that a large proportion of our delegates are inter-lending practitioners library assistants rather than professional grades.  They come from all walks of library sphere, primarily UK based and with perhaps more from HE/FE and Public Libraries than any other sectors.  Interlend is also renowned as offering our delegates practical tips and guidance, as well as broadening their understanding of the world of interlending; and as such we try and encourage all our speakers and breakout session facilitators to keep this in mind.”

Local UK news by authority

  • Birmingham – Labour Group votes for cuts and closures to Birmingham’s Libraries – Birmingham Libraries Campaigns. Councillor says “On the doorstep there are three things that voters know the council for, firstly the collection of rubbish, secondly the state of the roads, and thirdly public libraries!”.  “Yesterday’s Council meeting saw the Tory group get off the wheely bin bandwagon to assume the role of public ‘defenders’ of the city’s community libraries.”. “Paean’s of praise were heaped on the ‘world class’ Library of Birmingham and the opportunities it offers to the residents of Ladywood, upon which basis they wouldn’t miss their neighbourhood libraries.”
  • Brent – February Update – Save Kensal Rise Library. “Thank you to everyone who came to demonstrate against the destruction of the Pop Up Library. To our local councillors, and Cllr Roxanne Mashari the Lead Member for the Environment (which includes libraries), to our friends that tweeted support like Maggie Gee and Philip Pullman. To the volunteers from the community, special mention Josephine, who have maintained the Pop Up for three years, and most of all to the children and residents of Kensal Rise and Kensal Green, including Miss Cecilia on her first protest – 4 weeks old!”
  • Northamptonshire – Culture Minister Praises Northants Libraries After Towcester Visit – About My Area. “”In addition to excellent library services, we provide a range of other services that support Northamptonshire’s economic and community wellbeing, from renewing bus passes to combating social isolation through library-based activities to advising people on job and business opportunities. This includes our Enterprise Hubs, a joint project with Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership which so far has helped 700 people with their business start-up journey. It was also a chance to highlight how volunteering is a cornerstone of the LibraryPlus service and how volunteers help the libraries to offer extra services whilst also gaining work experience.””

“The library service in Northamptonshire has been designed with a clear focus on the needs of their communities, with Sunday opening and innovative use of volunteers helping to ensure that all their libraries remain open and provide wide range of support and services for the community. It’s an example from which others can learn.  I know they are active in collaborating with other public library authorities and I want to see this continue and grow in the future.” Ed Vaizey, Libraries Minister

  • Sheffield – Green Party calls for new libraries plan – Green Party Sheffield. “Green Party councillors are calling on the Labour administration to completely rethink its proposals for the library service. They are proposing a motion to this effect at the Full Council meeting on 5th February.”
  • Warwickshire – Libraries to waive fines for one week – Courier. “‘Love it, join it, use it’ is the theme for this year’s National Libraries Day (Saturday February 8) – and the county council, which runs the libraries service across the county, is using the occasion to encourage those who have not visited their library for a while to return during the week from Saturday.” … “The fines for overdue books, CDs and DVDs and for replacing lost library cards will be waived until Saturday February 15 – but original fees for borrowing CDs or DVDs will be charged as normal.”
  • York – Deal will see social enterprise running York’s libraries – Press. “Leaders are to be asked to sign a five-year deal which will see the running of York’s libraries and archives taken over by a social enterprise. The arrangement, which will transfer library operations to a “community benefit society”, will be the first of its kind in the UK. The transfer is due to take place on April 1 as City of York Council looks to cut the service’s costs by £450,000 over three years.”

“The society, Explore Libraries and Archive Mutual, will be mainly funded by the council but will work on an independent basis, jointly owned by staff and residents who will be able to stand for election to its board. It has been supported with £100,000 of funding from the Cabinet Office.”