It’s National Library Week in the USA and there’s some wonderful pro library stuff coming out of it.  I especially like the one, naturally, that gives ten reasons why librarians are awesome.  I think we knew that all along but it’s good to see it on screen.  The nice thing about these American articles is that, although cuts are mentioned, they are all very positive in tone.  There is hope there.  Library usage is increasing and new ideas are being embraced. They are, in other words, library-affirming.



  • Community libraries (part two): creating space – Leon’s Library Blog. “Unfortunately, the debate around libraries usually starts with the TINA approach (there is no alternative), is driven solely by financial pressures, and tends to offer only two solutions: closure or handing over libraries to volunteers.” … “As part of the debate we need to reimagine buildings as genuine community spaces. This is in direct contrast to the current model of establishing CMLs [“Community Managed Libraries” – Ed.] and trying to fit community needs around the limitations. Many small, community based libraries have limited capacity and do not lend themselves easily to the widest range of social activities and services while operating as a library.  As a model it benefits few, except perhaps for councillors who can claim that they have kept the library ‘open’.” … ” it is this model; the continuation of the building as a resource rather than as a library, that should be offered as an option to communities. The real debate should not be about closing libraries but rather about opening community hubs” … “we need to accept that a certain amount of contraction of physical assets is both necessary and desirable.” also see comments.

“it is the space and not necessarily the library that is most important element”

  • Forget the gloom: this is a golden age of reading – Scotsman. ““Compared to any time in the last 300 years, more reading is being done in more formats,” he said. And with a dazzling range of reading material available at the touch of a button, book festivals like this one – and lists, like the one of 100 novels which McCrum is currently compiling – have a role in guiding readers towards good books.” [As do libraries – Ed.]. “Gray, who grew up an avid borrower from Riddrie Public Library, was one of several writers at the festival who paid tribute to libraries, appropriate given that Aye Write has a library at its centre, and pertinent as government support for public libraries appears to be under threat. Val McDermid was another library aficionado, saying Elinor Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School stories, borrowed from her local library in Kirkcaldy, taught her the fundamentals of fiction”

“A man walks into a library and asks the librarian, “Where can I find books about female orgasms?”

The librarian points him towards shelf G and says, “That’s the spot.”  Sickipedia

“Library users, workers and campaigners across the country will have been amazed by Mark Lawson’s assessment of Ed Vaizey as “a very able minister” (Ejector seat strikes again, G2, 10 April). Under his guidance the aims and values of public library services have been redefined by the DCMS and the Arts Council in such a way that many local authorities are failing to meet the requirements of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. It is unclear how many of the present ad hoc volunteer arrangements will be sustained and if they are part of a statutory service. Many communities, often those with vulnerable populations, have lost highly valued professionally run services. The person responsible for drafting the Act, Francis Bennion, has described Mr Vaizey as “disgracefully sloppy” and is of the opinion that severe reductions in public library facilities that were being provided by authorities two or three years ago are “likely to be unlawful”. In addition, Cilip, the professional body for library and information professionals, has passed a vote of no confidence in the minister. Bob Usherwood letter on Culture, commitment, libraries and expertise – Guardian.

“It was right that you included many moving tributes to the late Sue Townsend in Saturday’s Guardian, but a shame that none of them mentioned her tireless campaigning for the public library service. I well remember her passionate speech in defence of libraries at a conference a few years ago. She was particularly incensed that small community libraries, like the one she visited as a child in Leicester, were the target of cuts. As a socialist she understood very well that the closure of libraries is part of a wider assault on the poor, who should learn to make do with bingo and mindless TV instead.” John Clarke in same article.


  • 5 Good Reasons to Take Your Kids to the Library Today – Huffington Post (USA). “I learned to print my name almost before I could read it — for the sole purpose of getting my own library card. I was so young I had to stand on tiptoe to see over the check-out desk and hand the librarian my application. When the librarian, in turn, handed me a library card with my own name typed on it — not my mother’s — I was ecstatic. I literally wore out the card in a few months, off and running toward becoming a lifelong reader.”: (1) library visits inevitably lead to more reading (2) When you visit the library, you can expose your children to more books and magazines than you can afford to buy. (3) Your local children’s librarian can recommend books that you may not know of or think to suggest, broadening their tastes and expanding their minds and vocabularies. (4) Library time is active, not passive. (5) Owning a library card teaches kids responsibility.
  • 10 Reasons to Dust Off Your Library Card – Chronicle Books (USA). Say it loud and say it proud.
  • 10 Reasons Why Librarians Are Awesome – BuzzFeed (USA). “In celebration of National Library Week (4/13-4/19), here is an homage to a group of greatly misunderstood and underappreciated professionals.”
  • American Library Association releases its 10 most challenged books of 2013 – Guardian. “Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series tops the list of books which received the most complaints” … “While the ALA welcomed the fact that the number of reports on attempts to remove material from shelves and school curriculums fell in 2013, to 307 from 464 in 2012, its Office for Intellectual Freedom’s executive director Barbara Jones warned against “read[ing] into the decrease in book challenges reported to the ALA, as the removal of just one book from a library prevents hundreds from having free access to information”
  • Libraries are dying? Think again – CNN (USA). “despite enduring budget cutbacks and being forced to reinvent their services in the face of the ubiquitous Internet, public libraries remain staple institutions in various communities. There’s been an increase in the use of public libraries in the U.S. over the past decade. Services such as public computers doubled in usage in the past 10 years, and libraries saw a circulation increase of 2.46 billion materials in 2010, the highest ever reported, according to a report by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.”

“Libraries reflect who we are”

UK local news by authority

  • Brent – ‘Free’ community-run library in Kensal Rise could be costly – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Andrew Gillick, the director of to Platinum Revolver Limited (PRL), which bought the building off its owners  All Souls College (ASC), agreed to give Friends of Kensal Rise Library (FKRL) two-thirds of the building’s ground floor space to use rent free last month. PRL plan to build flats in the rest of the building in Bathurst Gardens. However, under the sales agreement, which has been made public for the first time, FKRL will be obliged to spend money in repair damage and pay for the maintenance and fix damage that may occur to the building’s exterior, as well as its insurance.”
  • Devon – Save North Devon Record Office and Local Studies Centre – 38 Degrees. Petition: “To continue to provide an integrated Local Studies Centre in North Devon offering help and advice from specialist staff and on-site unrestricted access to records and documents.”
  • Kirklees – Two years after library cuts plan was dropped, Kirklees Council are reviewing service again – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “The authority is looking at its library provision – one of many services it’s assessing as part of a Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) currently taking place. Kirklees Council say: “Libraries as with all other services are still under consideration, however we are not yet a position where future options have been identified.”

“Two years ago was a different situation… we didn’t have the CSR we saved the money we had to save but since the review on the seven libraries we’ve had to make another £65m savings. The situation is extremely difficult, very different to where we were two years ago.”

“May I correct an impression that readers may have gained, following your news item about Nick Worth’s opinions on library closures. The word ‘volunteers’ is only correct in so far as we are unpaid and are preparing to run a Community Library should we have to. We haven’t volunteered to run a library; we are being forced to do so because Lincolnshire County Council have threatened us with the closure of our popular and well used facility if we don’t. We will do our very best to step in if we have to but we would much rather that our library stayed open as the professionally run, properly staffed and funded community asset that it is at present. Neither alternative, of closure or community take over, is of our choice; we are being forced into this position because we are not willing to see the end of our library in The Deepings. The Friends of Deeping Library have been told we must ‘do it or die’ – the choice between them is NOT voluntary! Liz Waterland Chairwoman,  The Friends of Deeping Library” Liz Waterland, Chairwoman, The Friends of Deeping Library in comment.