After effectively abolishing the Advisory Council on Libraries (ACL) a couple of years ago, the government has finally got around (several months later than was promised) to formally consult on the subject.  This is something which the DCMS are required to do by law and it is clear that they’re not happy about it: the report makes very clear that they don’t want the ACL to be reconvened.  The view is that the ACL’s only job is to advise the DCMS on whether it should intervene in local councils and, being that they were not consulted the first and only time this happened, there’s no need for them.  Never mind that they presumably jolly well should have been.

Moreover, the report states that other bodies (such as ACE, the SCL, LGA and CILIP) provide this consultation and so the ACL is not needed.  This means that £2,500 (yes: just two and a half thousand pounds) per year it cost in terms of expenses etc can be saved. Critics of the abolition have pointed out in the past that the ACL provided a relatively independent and expert view at almost no cost.  However, this does not appear to matter – the Minister decided during the Bonfire of the Quangoes that it had to go and so it has effectively already gone.  Anyone is welcome to put their own views on the subject during the consultation but the clear subtext is that this will be politely ignored.  The ACL, barely noticed during its lifetime but providing an effectively free, expert and independent service nonetheless, is seen as a mildly embarrassing heirloom to be junked.



  • How fair is arts funding in England? Have your say – Guardian. “In January, Arts Council England (ACE) announced its next three year investment process. At the same time the Culture, Media and Sport Committee launched a short inquiry into investment in arts and culture, to see how ACE is doing its job under its new chair, Sir Peter Bazalgette. It’s an important opportunity to show politicians how arts and culture in this country really works. We’re preparing our submission, but our voice isn’t the only important one in this conversation – yours is vital.”

“Libraries are trusted places, free to enter and open to all. We know that they enable people to discover and share books and reading, information, knowledge and culture. Libraries, both in the community and in the digital world, make a significant contribution to people’s lives in so many different ways. It is the Arts Council’s role to support and develop the public libraries in England so that these communities, and future generations, will continue to benefit from all that they have to offer. We look forward to the report from the Panel in due course, and will make every effort to support its recommendations, in keeping with the priorities outlined in our recent report, ‘Envisioning the library of the future.” Alan Davey, Chief Executive, Arts Council England on the Independent Review on Public Libraries (chaired by William Sieghart).

  •  LibrariesWest: BBC Radio Tour – Storify. “Laura Rawlings from BBC Bristol and BBC Somerset toured libraries for National Libraries Day”.  Some good pictures and tweets.
  • Not such a radical idea anymore: it’s a rental – Research Information. “Just as studios allow films to migrate from rental on Apple TV to subscription on Netflix, and the prospects for higher individual sales trickle away, publishers often allow a book to migrate from DDA and rental to a subscription package, such as ebrary’s Academic Complete™ or EBL. For films, a subscriber will check to see if a video is available from Netflix before renting it from Apple TV. For libraries with both a DDA program and ebook subscriptions, access automatically comes through the latter as the book becomes available later in its lifecycle.”
  • Proposed Abolition of the Advisory Council on Libraries – Gov.uk. “The purpose of the consultation is to explain why the Government considers this change is necessary and to seek opinions from stakeholders and interested parties about the effects of such a change, as well as their views on the options.”

“In the absence of ACL, DCMS officials have worked, and will continue to work, with relevant bodies, including Arts Council England (ACE), Local Government Association, the Society of Chief Librarians and the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals to ensure appropriate intelligence about the library sector is captured, and that DCMS has mechanisms in place to advise the Secretary of State on the use of the statutory powers”

  • SCL issues Invitation to apply and quote on digital leadership work – Society of Chief Librarians. “The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) is looking for an expert partner to: Identify the significant digital developments on the horizon and identify the digital leadership skills and competencies which library staff will need to respond effectively and appropriately to this changing landscape; Complete an audit of the digital awareness and skills set of the existing leadership / aspiring leadership of the sector; Recommend how to address the gaps”
  • Self-serve in libraries: a library worker’s experience – Library Campaign. “My service has introduced self-serve into it’s branches and frontline staff are being told to ‘encourage’ users to use it, not just ‘encourage’ but basically force people to use in order to meet targets. They are also being told that if someone refuses to use then they must take the books etc from them and put them through the kiosks….now this really disturbs me. If someone makes a conscious political or ethical decision not to use the kiosks because they are quite rightly concerned about linked job losses etc then why should we ignore their wishes and that choice? Surely we are here to serve our communities, we are supposed to be user focussed.”

Why are you doing this? You’re putting yourselves out of jobs.”

  • Why I’m Happy to Support Age-Banding of Children’s Books by Emma Barnes – An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.  “Having an age guidance figure on a book does not mean a child can’t or shouldn’t read it. It’s not a legal limit. It’s guidance. Guidance. That’s all.”.  Looks at reasons against age-banding including “Expert librarians and booksellers can guide children to the right books.” to which the response isSadly, both are becoming almost as rare as hen’s teeth. (And likely to remain so unless the political and economic climate changes.) Libraries and bookshops are closing at an alarming rate.”


  • Costco stores as role models for Internet-era public libraries (caveats ahead) – Librarycity (USA). “The rage is to compare everything in creation to a business. But be careful when doing so with America’s public libraries. They are civic and service institutions, not profit-making corporations” but points noted are (1) strong training / promoting from within (2) keep traditional branding and goods (3) no big profit margins: so libraries need to concentrate on offer to consumer and not behind-the-scenes (4) relatively small differences in salary between chiefs and workers.
  • Library as Third Place – Library Journal / Annoyed Librarian (USA). “There’s a lot to criticize about libraries moving away from being libraries, and there’s a danger that useful functions of public libraries might disappear in a transition to Third Places, but if the alternative is to make libraries more exclusive, the choice is easy. I’d choose to keep libraries being libraries, but that might be an option that’s not available for the future. If that’s not possible, Third Place might be my second choice.”

Local UK news by authority

  • Hampshire – Have your say on massive cutbacks to Hampshire libraries – Southern Daily Echo. “But the service, which takes library books to isolated rural areas, nursing homes and the housebound, will also be slashing stops by nearly a third. Those under threat include three in Fareham, six in Eastleigh, eight in the Romsey area, ten in Winchester and 26 in the New Forest. As reported, this comes on top of threats to three libraries which are expected to shed their staff, to save £50,000, including Milford on Sea. It is hoped volunteers will step forward as they did last year for libraries in North Baddesley and Stanmore but if no one comes forward the libraries face closure.”
  • Lincolnshire – Animated comment at village library – Spalding Today. “Youngsters on their half-term break in Donington and Long Sutton helped launch the second phase of a £2.6 million arts project for South Holland. Animation for Beginners, a workshop run by Lincoln-based film-makers Electric Egg, attracted a number of creatively-minded youngsters to libraries in Long Sutton and Donington on Friday.”
  • Lincolnshire – Ex Assistant Director for Libraries calls for Inquiry – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Maurice believes that the changes that are being introduced are unlawful, as they would put the remaining level of library services in Lincolnshire substantially below that provided in any other rural county in England. His figures, taken from a government report, indicate that the local service will have half the number of buildings and professional staff and 50% of the budget for the size of the population than neighbours Nottinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Leicestershire and over ten other authorities.”. [There’s a lot of other points as well in a rare instance of an ex member of council staff speaking out against the actions of their employer – Ed.]
  • Stirling – Council bins idea of changing refuse collection – Daily Record. “Library services will also be protected … we consider our library service to be a vital part of our community. Therefore there will be no cuts in service level provision and we will continue to make sure our libraries provide a range of flexible services people need … there are several proposals for both money saving and cash generating options concerning libraries, including the amalgamation of Library Headquarters and the Council Archives service, new charges for members of the public using library computers or Wi-Fi within library buildings and an overarching “Libraries Review” that could have brought estimated savings of £184,000 next year”.
  • Warwickshire – Library book is late: by 63 years – Yahoo News. “A children’s book borrowed from a public library 63 years ago has been returned during an eight-day fines amnesty. Staff at Rugby Library in Warwickshire were handed the copy of The Adventures Of Pinocchio last week, and found it had a return date of New Year’s Eve in 1950. Colin Hayfield, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for customers, said: “We always wanted to use the fines amnesty to welcome people back who haven’t visited us for a while and we hope the borrower is enjoying our services again.”