Blaenau Gwent looks likely to be come the first Welsh authority I am aware of to pass control of its public libraries to a non-profit trust.  Let’s hope it’s more successful than the outsourcing in Croydon where it has been confirmed that the loss of 11 library staff was among the first actions of Carillion when it took over. This has not impressed the Labour opposition there who confirm they will retake control of the library service if they win the forthcoming election.

There’s a couple of interesting reports just been released.  The UK one by the Carnegie UK Trust concerns British projects to get online the final one-fifth of the population.  Although it mentions libraries in a positive way, it does not devote one of its case studies to a public library project. The other report is from the US Pew Research Centre which confirms the vital place that public libraries have in American life.



  • 10 things you may not know about ebooks and UK public libraries – Future Book. Libraries don’t have right to lend e-books, authors don’t get paid for e-lends, you can’t borrow on a kindle, library e-books not suitable for the visually impaired, “Roughly 85% of popular e-books are not available to public libraries”, “Public libraries in the UK spend around £78m per year on books, and around £2m on e-books”, etc.
  • 23 Librarians – “A new blog about library and information work in Scotland.”.  School librarian in Renfrewshire is the first person to be covered.
  • Campaigners plan protest for Women’s Library reopening – BookSeller. “Gail Chester of London’s Feminist Library, a member of the Save the Women’s Library Campaign, said the group was planning a “peaceful protest” over the opening of the new site this evening, to highlight their concerns over accessibility to the collection.”
  • Making Digital Real: Case Studies of How to Help the Final Fifth Get Online – Carnegie UK Trust. “but a fifth of the UK population do not have access to the internet. How can we help everyone to get online and enjoy the benefits that connectivity can offer?” … A look at several ways councils and communities are looking to get the final portion of the population online.  It includes several mentions of libraries (Liverpool, Wiltshire and elsewhere) … but, although mentioned positively, none of them are the prime focus of any of the case studies.

“Making Digital Real sets out 7 Digital Participation Tests that local authorities, housing providers and other public, voluntary and community organisations can use to help plan their activities to support more people to gain access to the internet. The report also provides Case Studies of successful digital participation initiatives in Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow, Sunderland, Wiltshire and Fife, illustrating a wide range of different approaches that can be used to tackle digital exclusion.  The important role of libraries in tackling digital exclusion is recognised in the report. ” Douglas White. Acting Head of Policy, Carnegie UK Trust

  • Shelagh Rowan-Legg: PhD Student – British Library / Youtube. “Shelagh Rowan-Legg used our collection to write her PhD in Spanish cinema. Shelagh is a PhD student at King’s College London, researching contemporary Spanish fantasy cinema. She is also a writer and film critic. Her research explores common threads that run through Spanish fantasy films; how have they been influenced by cinema from around the world, and what makes them uniquely Spanish? She used a wide range of materials from the British Library, in subjects ranging from history to psychoanalysis, feminist theory to architecture. ” … “As well as books, the film sector has free access to the library’s resources which includes:     Sound recordings: radio, oral history, film music and soundscapes; Moving image: 14,000 music videos, 9,000 TV programmes and news footage; Networking opportunities through events with partners e.g. Sheffield Doc/Fest meet-ups; Filming opportunities within the Library building (at a cost)”
  • Robert Muchamore stays in touch with his inner 12-year-old – Ham and High. “He recently got cross about fellow authors Francesca Simon and Michael Rosen talking up doom and gloom about the publishing industry and library closures. “When I go to Portugal and France they are in awe of British children’s literature. It’s a global force. Britain really has a cultural dominance in children’s books; we should wave the flag and be proud, not be moaning about how terrible it is. “It’s not that I hate libraries, but if I was the local councillor and had to choose between meals on wheels or mental health care and the library staying open, I would probably do the same as them.””
  • Web is 25: 10 things you need to know about the web (including how much it weighs) – Independent. “It’s called ‘surfing the web’ because of a mouse-pad. A librarian named Jean Armour Polly came up with the phrase back in 1992 when writing up a beginners’ guide to the web for the Wilson Library Bulletin. She says that when looking for a title for her article she considered many metaphors but wanted something “ fishy, net-like, nautical”. Looking down she saw a mousepad with a picture of a surfer on a big wave and the image just clicked: surfing the web was born.”
  • Why the hell are publishers reducing children’s books to pink or blue status? – Telegraph. “Alice Vincent, an avid reader, is dismayed by the growing trend for   gender-specific books. Imagine if Roald Dahl had marketed his tomes in such   a reductive fashion, millions of kids could have missed out on some of his   most ‘flushbuckling’ tales”. 89% in poll say they don’t like this “cheap marketing ploy”.


  • Pew: Americans are ‘Actively Engaged’ with Public Libraries – Publisher’s Weekly (USA). ““A key theme in these survey findings is that many people see acquiring information as a highly social process in which trusted helpers matter,” said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet Project another main author of the report. “Even some of the most self-sufficient information consumers in our sample find that libraries and librarians can be part of their networks when they have problems to solve or decisions to make.”
  • Pew: The Library Holds Its Own in the Information Age – Recode (USA). “Among other findings, the Pew report released on Thursday, the topper to three years of research into the changing role of these institutions notes that library goers aren’t the niche group you might expect. Some 30 percent of Americans ages 16 or older are “highly engaged” with public libraries (falling into the “Library Lovers” and “Information Omnivores” categories), while another 39 percent slot into “medium engagement” groups (“Solid Center” and “Print Traditionalists”).”

“Libraries are probably keeping pace, at least in part, because the definition of a library itself has changed. Much as newspapers, magazines and book publishers have come to realize — though not nearly quickly enough — thinking of yourself foremost as a purveyor of printed material is a strategic if not fatal mistake in the 21st century.”


  • Twelfth International Conference on Books, Publishing and Libraries – 8/9 November in Boston, USA. “”Disruptive Technologies and the Evolution of Book Publishing and Library Development” Change for the better, or change for the worse? New technology in publishing and library science disrupts established literary, academic and business models. How can we assess the impact of a constantly flowing river of change? Will the books or libraries of tomorrow look anything like those of yesterday or today? Are the e-book, the blog post, the app and the tweet just the beginning of a deeper revolution? Will algorithms “think” just like humans in the future when we research a topic or store our narratives and information? Is respect and preference for print and physical libraries the new Luddite view, or is it still a sensible, viable posture in the volatile realm of today’s and tomorrow’s writing, reading, publishing and library science? “

UK local news by authority

  • Birmingham – When ‘consultation’ leaves politicians stuck right in the thick of it – Birmingham Post. “Discussions over the district budget, specifically the proposal to close the historic Spring Hill Library, seemed to be couched in all sorts of innuendo and euphemism. Committee chairwoman councillor Yvonne Mosquito (Nechells) might as well have tipped a wink to the camera as she outlined why due process would have to be followed before they could confirm that the library, renovated as recently as 2010, is to be kept open. She went to great lengths to avoid saying anything which might amount to a decision or point of view. “We understand and we have heard. We are mindful and very sensitive to the needs of our constituents,” she said. In reality a deal has been done and funding earmarked to ensure the survival of the library, but because there is an official period of consultation the politicians are not allowing themselves to announce anything. Other libraries in the district remain under threat of being closed or moved so they don’t want to tread on other’s toes”
  • Blaenau Gwent – Trust will run Blaenau Gwent sport and libraries – South Wales Argus. “The council is proposing to establish a leisure trust to operate the leisure, cultural and community learning facilities and services.   It says the trust is an important part of the savings plans for 2014/15 onward and is vital for the continued investment in and delivery of leisure services.” … “The new organisation, called Life Leisure Trust, will cover sports centres, sports development, libraries, community education centres, Parc Bryn Bach, Bedwellty House and Park, arts and cultural venues and heritage.”
  • Bradford – Mobile library service to be axed in Keighley area – Keighley News. “At a meeting, we asked officers if an alternative way of delivering the service could be looked at – some communities, for example, have come together to successfully run libraries – but we heard nothing.” … “Plans to axe the home delivery service, which takes books to people in their own homes who are physically unable to get to a library, were dropped. That programme, which caters for 568 people, will now continue at a reduced level.”
  • Carillion / Croydon – Croydon Labour leader Tony Newman seeks to end outsourcing of libraries – Croydon Advertiser. ““For us, Carillion are completely unacceptable so far and are ostensibly a building firm. We have already put them on notice of our intentions if we are elected. “Carillion are not in charge of the libraries for love, they’re in it for the profit. He also said it was financially viable to bring them back into public ownership as long as they become “community  hubs” and offer a range of services.” … ““We think our plan is viable because we could use the profit they are skimming off the top and turn it round to use for good in libraries grounded in community values.”
  • Carillion / Croydon – Private contractor Carillion makes 11 Croydon library employees redundant – Croydon Guardian. “A private contractor hired by the council to run Croydon’s libraries has made 11 staff redundant since taking charge, it has emerged.  Managers and qualified librarians are understood to be among the workers who have lost their jobs since John Laing Integrated Services took the reins of the borough’s 13 libraries in October.” … “”The council anticipated a restructure would take place when the contract was let.   “Carillion run services for several local authorities and by bringing together a number of senior posts they are able to make savings that don’t affect front-line staff.”   But campaigners said staff cuts were just one issue besetting a library service also suffering from IT problems and depleted morale.”
  • Sheffield – Sheffield council’s £17,000 bill…. for chairs – Star. “It’s becoming clearer by the day that important services like libraries could be kept open, if bosses were only willing to make sacrifices from their pet projects.”