Some interesting research, funded by Arts Council England, on the state of play in raising income in libraries has come out today.  If you’re in charge of library services or are likely to be affected by changes then do have a look. Regardless of your views on this matter (and I think things have come to such a pass that everything needs looking at seriously) this is at least a good report in terms of seeing what is out there.  Or you could end up like the Vale of Glamorgan which is cutting it’s library budget by a fifth and losing £309k in staff.  For those many there who are in all likelihood now contemplating redundancy, income-generating alternatives must seem very attractive at the moment.


Enabling Enterprise in Libraries research report

“Locality is working with Arts Council England to explore existing good practice and assess the potential to further enable enterprise amongst library service providers.” Main findings so far:

  • There is growing acceptance of ‘Enterprising Councils’, and an entrepreneurial culture underpins social and community enterprise libraries, although the same cannot be said of all volunteer-led libraries.
  • Whilst overall income from ‘traditional’ services in public libraries continues to decline, it holds up well on a ‘per user’ basis.
  • Active borrowers visiting public libraries are currently contributing an average £4.60/annum, which is considered a ‘low base’ upon which to build new income generating services, notwithstanding the need to target them towards more affluent groups.
  • Library services continue to benefit from prime physical locations, as well as the capability for out-reach to more isolated communities, and are increasingly accepted as ‘hubs of the community’ offering a broader range of services than was the case in the past.
  • Whilst there are challenges surrounding the capacity and skills of employees/volunteers who might be tasked with the design and delivery of income generating activities, development of the same is cited as a priority for future action in Arts Council England’s response to Envisioning the Library of the Future.

“What follows is intended as a summary of this initial research and co-design phase of the project. Here, we are concerned to understand the potential for library service providers to generate additional income to facilitate service enhancement and improve their overall resilience, and not with the generation of income to subsidise core public sector budget reductions and/or the loss of traditional revenue streams (although, we acknowledge that the logic at work in most libraries is liable to render many people interested in income generation to cross-subsidise core activities and, in particular, where volunteer-led libraries are concerned).”

National news

  • 50 Years Of Large Print – Booktrade.info. A history of large print books.
  • Going to the Library Can Make You as Happy as a Pay Raise, Study Claims – Bustle.  DCMS research reaches USA. “Clearly libraries are awesome—why else are elderly people leaving their fortunes to them? They give people access to a robust expanse of knowledge, serving a variety of educational needs, at little to no cost, they serve as engaging community centers, they enhance users social and technological skills, and they make people happier—and more should be done to keep them alive and thriving. Hopefully the happiness study and others like it will help encourage their preservation. In the meantime, if you’re ever turned down for a raise, head to the library. You’ll get a jolt of joy that’s at least as valuable as that extra cash would’ve been.”
  • National Library to get £321,000 funding boost – Cambrian News. “The money, which was given to the National Library of Wales as part of the 2014/15 grants programme, will develop online resources and expand the family history side. In addition, £90,000 has been given to fund a new mobile library in Ceredigion, with £10,000 going to Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth to support the development of a Heritage Lottery Fund application for a major redevelopment.”
  • The secret to happiness? Visit a library… and avoid the gym: Study finds which activities most boost our contentment – Mail. “Study found fitness activities tend to be associated with unhappier people. Survey asked 40,000 people about their participation in arts and sports. Various leisure activities ranked on how much they are worth to well-being. Government study carried out by Department for Culture, Media and Sport. TaxPayers’ Alliance said ‘ludicrous’ report was unreasonable spend of cash.” … “Although the research – written by three academics – will have cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds, it said it is not possible to prove a causal link between gym membership and unhappiness; only that there is a correlation.”

Supporter message

  • New ways to explore the Oxford DNB – A new and updated site tour of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the national record of men and women who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide, is now available to explore. This online guide includes information on the site’s search functionalities and navigation, content, updates, and more. Learn how to discover feature essays and links to external resources, and explore pages on topical events.


  • A Modern Update for the World’s First Children’s Library – Epoch Times (USA). “The library, now celebrating its 100th anniversary, has just undergone a complete renovation. A thousand words span the wall opposite the entrance and in the center of the space sits a giant chess set.”
  • Dying book reading habit in Kashmir raises concern – Kashmiri Times (Pakistan). ” Social activist, Zareef Ahmad Zareef, said, that the “ libraries play an important role in the promotion of book reading habit, but in Jammu and Kashmir department of library has been neglected by the government and no efforts have been made to promote book reading.””
  • Librarians Aren’t Babysitters: How to Keep your Kid Safe at the Public Library – My Northwest (USA). “”Parents really do have to be mindful and provide the appropriate supervision of their kids while they’re in the library. What you have to do in any public building. I mean, you don’t walk into a mall or a public park and not supervise your kids.” [US libraries are a lot more permissive than UK ones: watching pornography is, for instance, apparently allowed – Ed.]
  • ‘Mobile reading revolution’ takes off in developing world – Guardian (Global). “Unesco study reports huge growth in adults and children reading books on phones in Africa and the Indian subcontinent” … “”It is not hyperbole to suggest that if every person on the planet understood that his or her mobile phone could be transformed – easily and cheaply – into a library brimming with books, access to text would cease to be such a daunting hurdle to literacy
  • No more waiting lists, no late fees – Winnipeg Free Press (Canada). “In the digital library world, there are no more wait lists and no more late fees. These are the selling features for the newest services available at the Winnipeg library system. Launched last week, the library system is offering content from the online service Hoopla Digital to its patrons, allowing library cardholders to borrow music, movies, television shows and audiobooks like they were physically taking out the hard copy of those items.”
  • Urban Libraries Become De Facto Homeless Shelters – NPR (USA). “San Francisco’s library system has hired a full-time social worker to help find housing and other services for the homeless men and women who’ve set up camp among the stacks.” 3 minute radio excerpt.


  • Libraries for Life for London forum – Birkbeck College, London on 26th April from 1pm. Includes presentation by Diana Edmonds (the chief library officer for GLL) and Eric Bohl (Activist Group – report on Haringey libraries consultation). Contact: Pat Richardson: mhlibraryusers@yahoo.co.uk.

UK local news by authority

  • Croydon / Lambeth – Cry God for Harry, England and the Upper Norwood Library – Inside Croydon. “The Upper Norwood Library Campaign chose St George’s Day to rally all its supporters to start to lobby candidates of all the parties in next month’s local elections to fight for increased funding for the library.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Review of Library and Information Services in the Vale of Glamorgan – Vale of Glamorgan.  ” The savings arising from the proposed Library Strategy will depend to a certain extent on the detail of implementation but it is anticipated to contribute £500,000 of efficiency savings from 2015/16 towards the Directorate’s savings target. The majority of this sum, about £309k, will come from the budget for
    employees. The other most significant area for savings is reducing premises costs by about £165k.”