Since giving Northamptonshire a fair amount of positive space recently, I’ve been asked to point out that all is not sweetness and light in that county’s library service.  I am happy to do so and the link is below.  I guess where I’m coming from in all this is that it’s not all sweetness and lignt anywhere and it simply cannot be considering the level of cuts and challenges that library authorities are facing.  However, as well as all the bad stuff, which makes PLN such depressing reading on occasion, it is useful to draw attention to different ideas and methods of working.  In this I find myself (somewhat uncomfortably given the number of times I have repeatedly criticised him on these pages) in the company of the Libraries Minister, Ed Vaizey, who chose this very week to visit Northamptonshire and praise them. I’ trust this marks the  start of a trend of him thinking like me and he’ll announce major investment programmes and interventions soon.

Please if you have a comment or further insight on this news coverage or have a news story or anything else that you feel may be of interest, please contact ianlibrarian@live.co.uk



  • Developing digital skills in Public Libraries – Tinder Foundation. “We’re pleased to announce that Tinder Foundation has recently won a contract with the Society of Chief Librarians and the Arts Council to develop training to increase the digital confidence and competence of the public library workforce. Over the next three months we’ll be creating a Workforce Development Programme that will give customer-facing library staff the means to excel in their current roles, helping them deliver the core elements of their Universal Information offer and the assisted digital agenda. That might mean updating digital records and archives, or simply having the knowledge and practical skills to help their customers use and benefit from governmental online services. Staff will also be trained to help customers and learners take the first steps of their online journey, make the most of local facilities and enjoy access to all the information that their library and the online world beyond has to offer.”
  • Open Access in Public Libraries: a Report from the Frontline – Research Fundermentals. “WOMAN: I don’t care about the modern world! What I want is something set in the Regency period. Preferably between a beautiful but poor farm girl and a passing duke who becomes infatuated with her. LIBRARIAN (picks up ‘gauge theory correlators from non-critical string theory’ and flicks through it): Hmm. I can see that these might not be what you’re looking for, then. (To herself) Maybe this Open Access initiative isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe these should be – I don’t know – freely accessible in a university library, or somewhere…”
  • Reading Agency announces the Summer Reading Challenge 2014 book collection titles highlighting benefits to libraries and publishers for National Libraries Day – Reading Agency (press release).  “The book collection of 69 titles, which reflect the 2014 Summer Reading Challenge theme Mythical Maze, are selected by children’s librarians, library suppliers and children from titles submitted by a wide range of independent and corporate publishers including those from The Reading Agency’s children’s reading partners scheme. The titles include Roger McGough’s The Imaginary Menagerie, and Oliver and the Sea Wig by Philip Reeve and Mythical Maze illustrator Sarah McIntyre for older children and Giles Andreae’s Sir Scallywag and the Deadly Dragon Poo for younger children and will be widely available to children  taking part in the challenge to read 6 books of their choice at libraries this summer.”

“The Reading Agency is also working with Solus UK Ltd to add some “digital magic” to the 2014 Challenge – for the first time, librarians and families will be able to download a free mobile application onto their devices  which will recognize key MYTHICAL MAZE illustrations and trigger audio visual content and simple games.”


  • Free access to Oxford’s online resources – “To celebrate National Libraries Day 2014, Oxford University Press are giving everyone in the UK free access to all of their online reference resources on Saturday 8th February 2014. From life stories in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography to award-winning Encyclopedias and Companions in Oxford Reference, and from engaging, inspiring Very Short Introductions, to the global authority on language and words – The Oxford English Dictionary, they’re free to everyone for the whole day! Your free access goes live on Saturday, but until then, you can see a sneak preview here

International news

  • 2013 Public Library Service Awards Winners – Ontario Government (Canada). ” Essex County Library chose e-resource education as a priority and made a commitment to hire staff to engage young and old, staff and residents in the changing world of digital technology. The Virtual Public Services Librarian was born. Bridging both administration and branches, like the e-readers, this position and the resources it creates, is portable, easy to access, ever-changing, and through technology, is available anywhere and any time.” … “the Hanover Public Library has created the ESL Café to assist new Canadians to feel at home, make friends and improve their English skills in a safe, informal environment. This is a project that could be taken on in any small community at low cost.” … Toronto for a children’s guide to literacy: “This guide has far-reaching impact as it has been distributed to over 850 Ontario public libraries, Toronto child care providers and over 100,000 Toronto families with children birth to five years old will receive a free copy in the coming months.”
  • eBooks for public libraries – Next Media (Finland).  E-book system has worked well and will continue but marketing, training and promotion needed.
  • Kansas teen uses 3-D printer to make hand for boy – Kansas City Star (USA). “Using a 3-D printer at the Johnson County Library, Wilde made a prosthetic hand that opens and closes and can even hold a pencil.” … mother “knew the Johnson County Library had a 3-D printer that was free for anyone with a library card to use.”

UK news by local authority

  • Brent – Lib Dems back calls for police to resume Kensal Rise fraud investigation – Wembley Matters. Councillor says “It is in everyone’s interest that attempts to corrupt the planning process are challenged – so we need the truth about these dodgy emails. “This whole sorry saga – with the all public money it is costing – would never have happened if Labour councillors had not closed Kensal Rise library and then acted to ensure the transfer of the building to All Souls College. “Brent Council should have kept a community library at Kensal Rise by working with library volunteers and campaigners, as Liberal Democrats said at the time. This would have protected the library from falling into the hands of All Souls College and developers.” see also All Souls shouldn’t complete Kensal Rise sale before investigation complete – Wembley Matters.
  • Cornwall – Council’s secret plans to close Truro library on Saturday afternoon – West Briton. “Secret proposals by Cornwall Council to close the most-used library in the South West on its busiest day of the week have been branded as “daft”. The council wants to close Truro Community Library from 1pm every Saturday.” … “The library in Truro was fully refurbished with the aid of a £1.4 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund four years ago and has two community rooms, a state-of-the-art digital editing suite and a junior library. The library is the most visited in the South West with almost 475,000 visitors in 2012-2013, according to figures issued by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).” … “The income generated by the rental of the meeting rooms on a Saturday afternoon funds an activity budget for other libraries in Cornwall and a summer reading challenge.”
  • Derbyshire – Mobile library plea – Burton Mail. People in “a South Derbyshire village are being urged to air their views on the future of mobile libraries in the area. Newton Solney Parish Council has issued a plea to people in the area to get in touch to let Derbyshire County Council know their views on plans to reduce the service across the entire county.”
  • Liverpool – Mayor’s warning as libraries facing axe in fresh cuts – Liverpool Echo. “The cuts will be up to 50% across those departments. But even the statutory ones such as adult social services and environmental services will have to take a share of the pain, facing cuts of up to 25%. Mayor Anderson said: “There will be a devastating impact on services within the city and what I’ve been trying to do over the last several months is  trying to pull together the least worst options. “I’ve said on many occasions that we are now having to prioritise the priorities. “There is nothing in what we are going to announce that gives us any comfort at all.”. There are currently 13 Lifestyles leisure centres in the city, along with 23 Sure Start centres and 19 libraries.  Factored into the cuts to the libraries will be the cost of honouring the repayments for the £50m Central Library refurbishment.” .. “Mayor Anderson added: “We will have to look at merging them, closing them or look to the voluntary sector.” … “The “controllable spend” is expected to be cut by around £320m, which is equivalent to 56%.” [This does not affect overall figures as same number of libraries already reported as under threat Feb 2013 – Ed.]
  • Northamptonshire – Corby visit prompts minister to praise Northamptonshire’s libraries – Northamptonshire Telegraph. ““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,” Mr Vaizey said. “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.”
  • Perth and Kinross – Disabled and elderly library users in Perth start petition to save their library – Daily Record. “Disabled and elderly library users in Perth are vowing to make sure they are heard. Last week a group wishing to rescue the Fair City’s West Mill Street Library from closure by Perth and Kinross Council were told they would have to run their campaign from the streets.”

“It’s taken all our energy because the council’s made it so hard for us to make our petition available. One of our major hurdles is how to get the petition pages to certain points in Perth city whereby members of the public could access if they wished to show their support. You have to bear in mind that most of the service users have various levels of disability and not all venues would necessarily be accessible.”

  • South Gloucestershire – Labour’s pledges over lights, libraries and toilets – Bristol Post. “Labour leader Andy Perkins said: “With our budget priorities this year, Labour councillors would protect some of our most valued services for as long as we can. We intend to maintain all of our libraries and public toilets, we will keep car parks free and show that we have listened to people over their concerns about the streetlight switch-off.”
  • Staffordshire – Library woe as members fall by six thousand in Burton – Burton Mail. “The drop has seen the total number of members at the Riverside facility reduce from 43,701 to 37,315, with the biggest drop between 2010 and 2012. Numbers have also fallen at the library in Barton under Needwood, though not as sharply, dropping from 3,066 in 2008/9 to 2,732 in December 2013, when the latest information is available. The figures, obtained through a freedom of information request, also show a reduction in the number of people jointing the two Staffordshire County Council-run libraries. In 2013, 3,133 people joined Burton’s library, compared with 4,689 five years before. The figure dropped by more than half in Barton, with 397 joining in 2008 and 191 last year.”
  • Surrey and East Sussex – Join forces to slash cost of revamping libraries – Surrey County Council. “Surrey and East Sussex have joined forces to boost their buying power and slash the cost of revamping libraries by almost a third. Firms have agreed to discount the price of the likes of carpets, lighting and furniture by up to 27% after the two county councils teamed up to harness their collective clout.”
  • Wiltshire – Residents show their love for libraries – This is Wiltshire. “Library users across Wiltshire were asked to sum up what they love about their libraries using words and images as part of a national celebration this week. Trowbridge Library was among the six Wiltshire libraries taking part in the scheme, which involved collecting contributions from members of the public to create a “love libraries” display. Customers at the library were asked to participate in the photo collage on Tuesday where they were photographed holding a sign saying what they are doing in the library that day.”