The coachload of Lincolnshire campaigners who visited Parliament and Downing Street have shown great ingenuity and determination in trying to save libraries.  Seven MPs, including two shadow ministers, met them in parliament – with others offering support – and a specially produced book “The Tip of the Iceberg” was presented to 10 Downing Street.  The whole thing showed a great deal of commitment and an example of best practice for any other library campaigners out there.  I’ve added it the A to Z of library campaigning tactics page.

I asked a couple of days ago about whether there were specific library webpages for children.  A few of you have got in touch with examples, with the major one being from Devon and called “The Zone”.  I’m told that “the site won an award from CILIP PPRG in 2005 but has been redeveloped since. It still proves very popular and we use it as a vehicle not only to promote services but also reward their work.”.  I especially like the “Spin” banner for highlighting parts of the site, its colour and general fun-ness.  Downsides are that it’s quite small (but, then, a whole lot bigger than a pile of authorities who don’t have anything at all) and it’s still advertising World Book Day.  Otherwise, children’s library websites tend to be of a simple listing type like Hampshire or Cambridgeshire.

So why this paucity?  Well, I think it’s a mixture of things – council IT policies saying no, it being neither the children’s librarian job or the IT specialist’s job, lack of financing, imagination or, possibly, a suspicion that children will not use the service.  Whatever the reasons, Devon shows that it can be successful so let’s hope more come to light or are created.

I recently asked another question about libraries providing e-readers.  It appears that Aberdeenshire and Suffolk are both piloting e-reader lending.  Sadly, I would say this puts the UK a comfortable two or three years behind the USA in this matter: although I hope more evidence comes to light.  Now it may be that this country has gained by being slow about this as e-readers are probably a transitional technology, with tablet PCs replacing them.  Being e-readers are now as cheap as £25, though, the risks (and, crucially, costs) of lending them out – and providing advice on how to use them – is becoming less. We’ll see if UK authorities, fighting as they are with major cuts, get a grasp on this issue or leave it to go the way of children’s library webpages.

Please send news, comments and thoughts to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk



  • A to Z of library campaigning tactics – Public Libraries News. Three years of reading about library campaigns distilled into one handy page of alphabetical knowledge.
  • Digital literacy – Wikipedia. We hear increasing amounts about  digital literacy when it comes to public libraries … so useful to see what it means.  Here’s the page explaining it [and if you still inwardly shudder at me linking to a Wikipedia page … you’re not a “digital native” – Ed.]
  • New independent commission for county areas – LGA. “Board chair David Hodge said at the meeting: ‘Unfortunately, the way we deliver public services is not the way we would do it if we landed from Mars tomorrow. ‘We’re not going to wait for somebody else. We are going to change it. We, as the people and places board, [will] actually start to become the voice for transforming public services.”
  • Radicalising the library professional route… – Radical Librarian Collective. Ian Clark: ” From my perspective, the profession in which we work is inherently political. Everything about what we do is political, particularly when we live in an era where information is repackaged as a ‘commodity’ that has a price. Under such conditions, how can we consider ourselves anything other than political?”
  • Rosen warns new culture secretary on library ‘crisis’ – BookSeller. “Poet Michael Rosen has written an open letter to the new culture secretary Sajid Javid, warning him of the “terrible crisis” in libraries and and across the arts. The former children’s laureate used his blog to express his doubts about the new minister, who has taken on the role after Maria Miller stood down after being involved in a row over expenses. Rosen said: “It’s very difficult to see… how you’re qualified to do this new job at the Ministry of Culture,” and refers to Javid’s past as a banker “who made millions during the fatal bubble of the early 21st century… the fact that people like you got up to all sorts of greedy lending and fiddling is why we’re in this crisis.”” see also Open letter to Sajid Javid, the new Culture Minister – Michael Rosen.
  • Top tips for working with young people on extended projects in a library setting – British Library. “”From 2012 to 2014, the British Library led a project – Writing Britain – in partnership with four city libraries across the UK, each organisation ran a creative project for hard to reach young people. Taking the central theme of ‘Writing Britain’, participants created films, photographs, spoken word and artwork in response to ideas connected to place, identity, culture and landscape. Following the evaluation of the project, these ‘Top Tips’ have been compiled”.
  • Universal Credit: public library impact and response – Lorensbergs (via Network Newsletter). Government estimates 18% adults not online with 12% unable or willing to do so.  Survey of public libraries show large majority expect an increase on demands on staff and equipment due to the introduction of universal credit. Same as Universal Jobmatch where one library reports “the Job Centre just sends them over here”. Emphasises need for free provision of online access to claimants.  Computers also need to improve both in number and specification.
  • Welsh libraries and museums get £2.2m cash injection – BBC. “The National Library of Wales has been awarded more than £320,000 to develop its online services as part of a £2.2m package for libraries and museums around Wales. The money will benefit two schemes at the National Library in Aberystwyth. A further £1m will help modernise nine libraries elsewhere. A mobile library service in Ceredigion and a project which involves making archives more accessible has also won funding. The £321,000 National Library of Wales grant will be used to deliver and provide online resources including newspapers, the Welshlibraries.org portal and a cross-catalogue search facility”


  • American Library – Morning News (USA). Some more wonderful picture of libraries and an essay “A Country Without Libraries, by Charles Simic”. “How many book lovers among the young has the Internet produced? Far fewer, I suspect, than the millions libraries have turned out over the last hundred years. Their slow disappearance is a tragedy, not just for those impoverished towns and cities, but for everyone everywhere terrified at the thought of a country without libraries.”
  • Beyond Access at World Urban Forum in Medellin – Beyond Access (Colombia). “this year’s World Urban Forum (WUF7) in Medellin, Colombia, Beyond Access will host an event focused on the importance and potential of modern libraries as catalysts for equality, equity, and development. The event aims to draw attention to the fact that even though many cities around the world have an extensive public library network, they are frequently underused as assets in promoting equality and development.”
  • From Shush to Pssst – This Week in Libraries (World/Netherlands). “The theme of this year is letting go and embracing new opportunities and the first guest is futurologist Richard Watson  who once claimed the extinction of libraries in 2018. Richard is also an author and writer of the Bookend Scenarios. … We talk about why he made the Extinction Timeline and why he agrees that he has been wrong. The library is no longer about books alone. They are a showroom for culture and living. They are places where people not only find information, but also find themselves. They are places where people are actively creative in expressing themselves. They are also about serendipity and they connect people on knowledge and interests. The attitude of the librarian has shifted from the sssssst to the psssssst.”
  • Library pioneers new project for children – Daily News (Turkey). “As Turkey is celebrating the 50th National Library Week, one Istanbul project is pioneering a new attempt to bring families and children together to get the reading bug” … “The library, which is for children aged 0-9, aims to promote reading by twinning it with interaction and socialization; families come together with their children to read and play with them.” … “Moreover, the library will also offer support to parents as child experts will regularly train families on issues such as child-rearing, domestic violence, child development, psychology and children’s rights. The project is the first concrete step in a government-backed “Reading Children” project which aims to examine children’s libraries across Turkey and offer projects to develop them, besides pioneering the establishment of new branches nationwide.”
  • Love Letter to Libraries – Metafilter (USA/World). ““When a library is open, no matter its size or shape, democracy is open, too.” Maria Popova calls the new book The Public Library: A Photographic Essay, which took eighteen years to photograph and compile, “a wistful yet hopeful reminder of just what’s at stake if we let the greatest bastion of public knowledge humanity has ever known slip into the neglected corner of cultural priorities.”
  • Mesa’s open libraries charity books, DVDs – and croquet sets – Arizona News (USA). “Offering sports apparatus – and soon, donated cake pans – Mesa Public Library’s 4 branches is an approach to uncover residents that  are about some more than only books”
  • Nicaragua’s first lending Library is expanding – Indiegogo (Nicaragua). “The San Juan del Sur Library is the first library in Nicaragua to allow residents to check out books. The library and its parent organization, the Hester J Hodgdon Libraries for All Program (HJH), have become a key educational resource for thousands of residents. The Library has been so successful, they’ve run out of room and funding for new educational materials, computers and more.”.  Fund raising initiative.
  • The Roof of This Sloped Library Doubles as an Awesome Slide – Gizmodo (China).  “The town’s new library doubles as a community center with a slide on top. And it’s beautiful.” [splinters? broken finger bones? China – the Land that Health and Safety Forgot.  The library is, indeed, awesome, though – Ed.]

UK local news by authority

  • Brent – Brent Library Figures Up Again – James Powney’s Blog. “Brent Libraries figures are up again in the year ending 31 March 2014.  This follows our successfully bucking the trend last year … Compared to the 2011/12 baseline, visits have gone up by 9.8%, and loans have gone up by 1.1%.  I recall telling Public Libraries News that: “Brent Libraries will have more book loans and library visits in 2014/15 than we had in 2011″ We seem to have got there a year ahead of schedule”
  • Cheshire East – Council says it has “no plans to close libraries” – Crewe Chronicle. “Cheshire East Council  is to keep open all 16  of its libraries and to widen their appeal to communities – despite pressures on its budget. A report to Cabinet explained the  council aims to broaden the role of its  libraries as community hubs that attract a wider audience and buck the  national trend of declining library use  and closures.”
  • Devon – Libraries face an uncertain future under proposals – North Devon Journal. “Some 28 of the 50 public libraries in Devon are to see council support cut and could shut unless communities come forward with takeover plans.” … “”This is not a closure programme; I can absolutely assure you we are committed as a county council to libraries. We just need to evolve the way we support them and move forward.” see also Cliffhanger for North Devon’s libraries…? – North Devon Gazette. “next chapter for North Devon’s public libraries is shrouded in uncertainty after proposals for a major shake up of the service were revealed.” and see also Fears over closure of St Thomas library – Express and Echo. “While there are groups keen to take over those at Topsham and Pinhoe, there is no obvious group to take over the running of St Thomas.” and Cash-strapped council prepares to slash libraries from 50 to 28 – Mid Devon Gazette. “users have voiced concern, saying they fear losing important local assets. Jean Larsson, who attends Bovey Tracey Library, told the BBC: “I’d lay down in the road, I wouldn’t let them do it. It’s very important I think to a lot of people in Bovey, it’s a busy library.”.

“It seems odd that St Thomas has been included in the possible closure category as a new longer lease at the current site has recently been agreed, and the council has invested a further £30,000 in structural and technological improvements … Even more bizarrely libraries such as Seaton, that have less active regular borrowers are earmarked to be kept”

  • Lincolnshire – BBC Look North – Libraries are lead and main item on local TV news.  Five minute segment. Aggressive questioning from BBC interviewer about libraries “not being used by anyone any more” [This BBC programme was broadcast on something called “television”, an early Twentieth Century invention now entirely superseded by the internet – Ed.]
  • Nottingham – Anger over plans to move library into Mary Potter Centre Nottingham Post. “Adults with learning and physical disabilities will lose out if a library is opened in a community centre, it is claimed. Nottingham City Council wants to open the library in the Mary Potter Centre in Gregory Boulevard, Hyson Green. But people who use the Acorn Resource Centre, based in the Mary Potter Centre, fear it would mean them losing two-thirds of their space, including a kitchen and toilet facilities.”
  • Rochdale – Scheme to encourage early library membership launched – Rochdale Online. “Each parent who registers their newborn’s birth at Rochdale Register Office will be given a library card.  Councillor Peter Williams, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Customer Services, said: “Research has shown that reading to babies and children gives them a head start in their early years development, language and listening skills, as well as just encouraging a lifelong love of reading. “
  • Sheffield – Libraries could become wine bars – BookSeller. “The city council has revealed the names of the groups and companies that have expressed an interest in keeping open 16 branches that are threatened with closure. As well as numerous local community groups, there are several companies that have stepped forward, including Forum Café Bars, which is looking at the idea of combining libraries with a wine bar or restaurant” see also Community lifeline hope for libraries – Sheffield Telegraph. 12 libraries to remain fully funded but 16 other under threat: “There is funding for up to five libraries to be kept open in a partnership that would see the council maintain the building and some associated costs, but they would have to be staffed by volunteers, albeit with council training and support. Other libraries, and the mobile library service, would remain in business only if groups came forward to run them independently, with no financial support from a cash-strapped authority.”