On this April Fool’s Day, we have the government still keen on preventing prisoners receiving books despite the benefits that literacy gives. We also have a council closing down a school library service thus ensuring more people will presumably, eventually, end up in prison.  Finally, we have another council which appears to want to move a town library somewhere out of town to save expense.  What an appropriate date.



  • National benchmarking overview report 2014 – Local Government Benchmarking Framework (p.26/27). “Over the three year period covered by the LGBF gross spending on library services across Scotland fell by -4.5% whereas the unit cost per visit fell by -11.7% (see graph overleaf). At the same time visitor numbers increase over the country by 3.8%. Again this indicates that against a difficult financial backdrop council services have achieved a growth in people using the service and as a consequence reducing the unit cost per visit to the council by a substantial margin.”
  • Paper vs digital reading is an exhausted debate – Guardian. “The digital revolution is going into a decline, Tim Waterstone told the Oxford literary festival. Well, it’s an attention-grabbing statement, ideally suited to our culture of assertive headlines, but it’s probably not true. That’s not to say that the rapid growth of digital will necessarily continue, either, certainly not in markets that are already saturated with handheld devices. Why? Because the future is – as William Gibson told us quite a long time ago now – not evenly distributed.” see Tim Waterstone ‘predicts e-book decline’ – BBC.For the first eight months of 2013, e-book sale were worth $800m in the US, down 5% on the same period the previous year, according to the Association of American Publishers. Meanwhile, hardback book sales rose 11.5%.”

“A rather more important discussion than whether one half of this indivisible whole will somehow shed the other would be about this government’s seeming determination to destroy our system of public libraries and dispense with Britain’s access to knowledge (especially, it seems, in prisons). It strikes me that an infantilised public is far easier to control than one that reads, that prisoners are far easier to demonise when they are cut out of national cultural conversation, and that books – consistently found to increase empathy in those who read them – play against the mean-spirited assault on welfare and disability benefits presently under way.”

  • School library is an equaliser – BookSeller. ” School libraries, librarians and library services are at the front line when it comes to saving money for local councils as they remain unprotected by any legal requirements. As the fight begins for prisoners to be allowed books sent from outside, it’s worth remembering that they do at least by law have to have access to a library and the same cannot be said of our school children. School libraries are entirely at the mercy of their schools, just as SLSs rely on the funding and support of their local council. “

“Libraries are an equaliser and I believe a child who has had access to a properly staffed and equipped school library is less likely to need access to a prison library.”

  • Should public libraries block payday loan websites? – Adrian Short. “This is a fundamental shift in how public libraries think about providing internet access. Public libraries have always blocked some websites. They block illegal material such as child abuse images and political extremism. And they block legal pornography because viewing it could be disruptive and offensive to some patrons beyond the person who’s choosing to view it. But blocking the websites of legal businesses because the council disagrees with some of their commercial practices takes us into the realm of paternalism: restricting access to information for the individual’s supposed own good.” … move means people go to unethical lenders instead and “If the public library becomes less useful for a particular task then its reputation suffers. People will start to avoid it and go elsewhere.”. [Of course, the decision often has nothing to do with libraries – the council orders IT department to block sites and libraries are often not even asked – Ed.]
  • What difference do prison libraries make? – CILIP. Looks at the legal situation in prison libraries and their benefits. “The prison population of England and Wales stands at 85,000 and more than three quarters cannot read, write or count to the standard expected of an eleven year old.”


“April is here and so is our month long course via Library Juice Academy. This course is designed to help library staff and citizen committees plan and execute effective info-only and GOTV work for their library measure. It will be held online through LJA and have both synchronous and asynchronous work focused on message development, voter data segmentation, opposition research, campaign techniques, volunteer engagement, coalition building, and fundraising. Sign up today, we start April 1st.”

  • Public Library News Roundup: 28 Stories From 16 States and 2 Provinces – Infodocket (USA). “a selection of recent public library news reports from around the U.S. and Canada since we shared our last roundup two weeks ago.” includes 3 hurt as hawks dive-bomb Port Orange library patrons – News Journal Online.
  • Turning the page to tomorrow’s library as funding comes under threat – The Age (Australia). “Victoria has 262 public library branches that cost $200 million a year to run.  In 2011, the state government announced it would cut its contributions to library funding by between $5.7 million  and $7.1 million over four years. Under pressure from the Municipal Association of Victoria’s quietly effective Save Our Libraries campaign, the state reversed that decision and launched a review into services and funding. This has led to the Tomorrow’s Library report, a recommendation from the ministerial advisory committee to Local Government  Minister Jeanette Powell.  The report  advised state government funding is essential for  initiatives to keep pace with customer expectations in a digital age. These are likely to cost an extra $20 million.”

“The report outlines  six clear initiatives, tangible and measurable, for funding consideration. These interrelated initiatives include  a statewide library card, centralised database and e-book lending system, as well as a vastly improved and more mobile non-English language collection,  all in the name of a standardised yet flexible, egalitarian and modern ”Victorian Library”

UK local news by authority

  • Conwy – Protesters demonstrate against plans to close civic hall and relocate library – Daily Post. “Angry protesters have today demonstrated against a proposal to close Conwy Civic Hall and move Conwy library inside it elsewhere.” … “The protest came as two Conwy County Councillors committees decided to investigate the costs of locating a new area Library, to be made up of Conwy, Deganwy and Llandudno Junction Libraries, at Conwy Business Centre, Llandudno Junction Leisure Centre or Conwy Youth Club which is the former Bodlondeb School.”
  • Hillingdon – Two Hillingdon libraries in line for design awards – Hillingdon Times. “Mackenzie Wheeler Architects & Designers, who were contracted by the council to come up with designs for Oak Farm and Harlington libraries, have been shortlisted for the London Regional Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Awards.”
  • Lincolnshire – Save Lincolnshire Libraries group will lobby the Prime Minister to keep libraries open – Lincolnshire Echo. “Members of Save Lincolnshire Libraries will also be lobbying MPs when they descend on London on Tuesday, April 8. The group is taking a coach load of people to a meeting at the House of Commons to press its case to keep a proper library service in Lincolnshire.”
  • North Yorkshire – North Yorks school library service to close – BookSeller. ” Council is to close its school library service because not enough schools have subscribed. Schools in the area been given a year’s notice of the closure.” … ” with only one-third of schools subscribing to the service and an on-going downward trend it was agreed this month by the Schools Forum – which represents the county’s schools and advises on the distribution of funding within their local authority  – that the service was not sustainable on a “fully traded” basis.”

“I think we undermine our library service at our peril,” he said. “Public libraries are closing and professional staff being lost, school library services are closing. No area of reading for pleasure is not being undermined.” Alan Gibbons

  • Somerset – Self-service technology installed as part of Wellington Library revamp – This is the West Country. “We’ve already successfully introduced self-service in nine of Somerset’s busiest libraries and I’m sure it will prove just as successful in Wellington” … ““Library users need to bring their membership card and PIN to use the kiosks. “Anyone who doesn’t have a PIN, has forgotten it or wants to change it to something more memorable can ask a member of library staff.” [Really? A PIN? They already have a library card, why a PIN as well? – Ed.].