World Book Day has come.  This means classes of children coming in, normally in some sort of fancy dress, learning about how wonderful public libraries are.  I’ve already done a school assembly (got to love 250 children screaming “World Book Day”), opened a new school library and did two class visits (“We’re Going On a Bear Hunt” is famous but may I also recommend “Here Come The Aliens“)  … and that was just on Monday.   The Day (and, let’s be honest, the whole week) is a wonderful opportunity for public libraries to get children in as schools are so keen to get involved this week.  Indeed, it’s great when schools phone you and not the other way.  I try to squeeze as many activities as I can in and I hope all public libraries are able to do the same … and keep those statistics too.

World Book Day is all about. well, books, of course and so it’s only appropriate to mention some fairly good evidence that has come in from the US that suggests that it is not public libraries per se that are declining but rather those in the UK where book funds have been cut.  Across the Atlantic, material funds rose 2% on average in 2013 and usage went up 2%.  This tallies well with the UK experience where declines in usage appears to mirror somewhat cuts in funding. So one may wonder whether it’s not that UK public libraries are dieing: rather it appears they are being murdered or, rather, suffering from neglect.

Please send any news stories, comments or pictures (World Book Day ones would be great) to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk


  • Pullman: ‘every school should have a good library’ – BookSeller. “Philip Pullman has spoken out in defence of school libraries, saying it is “very important that every school, secondary or primary, should have a properly staffed, and properly equipped and properly furnished library.” Speaking on Radio 4’s “Today” programme this morning (5th March) on the topic of children’s reading, the Society of Authors president said he had spoken to education minister Michael Gove about the importance of protecting school libraries.”
  • Reading between the lines – Public Sector Executive. Dr Darren Smart of CILIP gives overview of the UK public library sector including: cuts, volunteers, the danger of seeing public libraries as “glorified book swaps” … “they are critical services which support the 20% most vulnerable people in the country. For example, if you’re unemployed, it can be virtually impossible to apply for a job unless you do it online now” … the Sieghart Review, the impact of local closures on those who libraries the most.  Dr Smart also lists who he considers are “top performers” amongst library authorities: Essex (for running Slough), Cambridgeshire (for managing cuts appropriately inc. using libraries as council customer contact centres) and Warrington (for being a non-profit leisure and libraries trust, which has opened doors in health information etc).
  • What Impact Does RFID Have on Libraries? – RFID Journal. A simple guide.


  • Bookless Newport library plans shelved for now  – Maribyrnong and Hobsons Bay Weekly (Australia). “Hobsons Bay council last week deferred controversial plans for a Newport Youth, Library and Seniors Centre after residents complained that design plans showed no bookshelves. The Weekly understands that one proposal is for people to order a book online and collect it from a chute-like system at the Paine Reserve centre in Mason Street. A source told the Weekly that internal research showed people were increasingly using Hobsons Bay’s libraries to read newspapers or go online, rather than just borrow books. So Hobsons Bay is looking to overseas models.”
  • Future of libraries: survival summit 2014 – Library Summit (USA). “Not only does this event share research data, put the future in context, discuss issues and trends, but it provides tools and strategies to survive and thrive in the future. Using a scenario-based envisioning process, our futurist, Rasmus, explores the major trends and features of current library environments, discovers the uncertainties, introduces the scenario framework, focuses on the people of the future by building a persona for a typical library user in the future, and discusses the implications for the future of libraries in each scenario.” [This is not impressing some librarians who think that such a summit only plays into the doom-monger / cutter plans – Ed.]
  • Libraries matter: impact research – ALA (USA). Useful pages on economic impact of libraries, impact on community development, impact on literacy and education.  Also includes research on investment.
  • Materials shift: Materials Survey 2014 – Library Journal (USA). “… nationwide, the materials budget rose 2% on average in 2013. While print book spending has fallen 7% in a decade, last year it steadied at 59% of the materials budget—the same figure reported in 2012. Book budgets actually rose 1.5% overall after a three-year lag, and circulation grew 2% on average. Finally, ebook integration into the library world is just about complete, with nine in ten libraries now loaning ebooks and a range of systems in place for measuring their circulation.” … “Good news on circulation: every size library posted gains, with a 2% increase overall. Libraries serving populations of 250,000–499,999 boasted a juicy 6.5% increase.” … “For now, DVDs/Blu-rays truly pay their way, returning in circulation nearly double what they take in funding. And their circulation keeps booming, averaging a nearly 6% jump last year despite competition from commercial lenders.” … “Yet at libraries where circulation has risen, ebooks are given much of the credit. Pamela Bruner, Palm Beach County Library System, FL, for instance, points to “continued development of the downloadable ebook/e-audiobook collection and adding an ebook vendor” as reasons for her library’s circulation success.”
  • Tension and unrest in Ukraine: statement by the Ukrainian Library Association – IFLA (Ukraine). “Severe clashes between the protesters and government forces took place in front of the National Parliamentary Library. The square and streets around it were filled with smoke and fire from burning automobile tires placed by activists to protect themselves; they had been set on fire by government troops. One building was set on fire by (former) government troups, but not near the library.” … “Librarians remained neutral and did not take direct part in the anti-government protests, but carried out their professional duties, saving people, protecting library collections and the library building. Beyond this, the International Red Cross opened a field hospital on the ground floor of the National Parliamentary Library and managed to save many lives.”. Free library also set up.
  • Union County unveils new superhero library card – Charlotte Observer. “It’s not your typical mild-mannered library card. In fact, the new  Union County Public Library card that was unveiled over the weekend is meant to seem “super.” It features two cartoon superheroes on it drawn by local artist  Al Bigley, who has worked for DC Comics, Disney and Marvel Comics, among others.” .. “The card was available free last Saturday, the day it debuted, and 131 people took advantage of that offer, Meadows said. The card costs $3, and Meadows intends to use the proceeds to buy an early-literacy computer for children at the library. With the new card, users can check out up to 40 items instead of 35, place five items on hold and have one extra day of grace before overdue charges are applied to late items.”


UK local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Keep our Public libraries open: Birmingham Budget day protest – Youtube. “Library campaigners support the Budget day noisy protest outside Birmingham Council House. Featuring  Mark Jastrzebski; from the Friends of Spring Hill library. Birmingham Council met on 4th March to set a budget imposing £85m of cuts.”
  • Brent – Councillor who oversaw library closures fails to make selection shortlist – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Cllr James Powney will not be able to contest his Kensal Green seat. The councillor who oversaw the controversial library closures in the borough will be unable to contest his seat in the council elections next year. A source has revealed to the Times that Cllr James Powney has failed to make the shortlist to stand as a Labour candidate for the Kensal Green Ward. Last week he lost his executive position as lead member for environment and neighbourhoods to Cllr Roxanne Mashari”
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Library consultation in Whithorn tomorrow – Galloway Gazette. “Council officers have been meeting library users region-wide this week as part of the consultation process over the continued integration of libraries, registration and customer services. Changes, including cutting opening hours, have been agreed”