Two things that have drawn my attention.  The first is that a library service is asking people for a PIN as well as a library card in order to issue items on self service machines.  This surprised me so much I had to check (Thanks Mick) I’d read it right because my own authority has had self-service for three years and we don’t ask for PIN and – you know what? – it simply has not been a problem. Think about why for a moment. Like in every non-self service library in the world, the library card is enough. We don’t know everyone personally.  Anyone can come in with a library card, issue an item with a member of staff and go.  Why should the self-service machines be any different? Besides, I bet if I found a card in the street I could go up to a counter in that authority’s branches and ask for “my” PIN and they’d give it to me.  Yeah, you’re going to put off one or two especially unintelligent and lazy thieves but you’re also going to put off a hundred times that number of honest people who can’t remember their number and are too shy/busy/why-should-I to ask. We should be removing barriers, not adding to them. Putting an extra step in the way ain’t going to help your usage, folks.

Secondly, some good people from Spain have sent me a summary of what is going on in public libraries in that country.  It’s very like the UK in that there are deep cuts, less staff and less bookstock.  On the other hand, it’s quite different.  There’s no mention of large scale library closures or volunteers.  Spain has also seen a 20% increase in visits whereas English libraries have seen a decline.  This mirrors an increase in foreign countries I’ve noted elsewhere, notably in the US. Why the difference in the trend? I don’t know because no-one as far as I can see has done any meaningful research on the subject.  I’m just guessing, though, that it has something to do with long-term funding shortages (notable in the buildings themselves) exacerbated by short-term sharp cuts.  Or perhaps it’s because they don’t ask for PINs.



  • Gorilla Librarian – Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
  • Public library services report: Locality’s submission – Locality. “Locality has submitted evidence based on the experiences of our members, many of whom have long-standing relationships with local library services, as well as on the in-depth work we have carried out over the past few years with 10 local authorities and 50+ community groups to establish a dedicated community managed library network which nowadays benefits from over 250 members.”


  • Innovative Acquires Polaris Library Systems – III. “Innovative acquired Polaris Library Systems, bringing together two of the leading providers of library services platforms to the public library community. The newly combined company will provide Polaris customers with a long term partner in Innovative, which is a global leader in library technology and has been actively investing in people and infrastructure to better serve customers worldwide.”

The effects of the economic crisis in Spanish libraries

A great revolution in public libraries took place in Spain between 2001 and 2010. However, the effects of the economic crisis are causing an important loss of all that effort and indicators are going back to levels of 2001.

In 2012 there were 4,211 public libraries (administrative units) in Spain. According to the last and most reliable data available (from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport), 51 libraries were created in 2011 and 63 were closed. Spending on acquisitions has been reduced by 35.9% between 2008 and 2012. This last year 41.1 million euros were spent, while in 2008 it reached 64.2 millions. In 2012 public libraries purchased 43,6% of les audiovisual, audio and electronic documents than four years before. New print books were also reduced by one third.

Public libraries in 2012 registered 594 less employees than in 2010. The average number of employees for each service point has been reduced to 1.91, while in 2008 there were 2.5 employees per service point. The number of part-time employees increased in 2012.

Users’ demand of library services has been steadily growing in the last decade and it has increased even from 2008. Public libraries have seen a significant increase in the number of visits: between 2008 and 2012 they increased by 20.5%. In addition, between 2002 and 2012 the number of users has almost doubled from 8.2 to 15,6.

However, lending levels have stalled in 2012, due to the obsolescence of the collections and the change in content consumption habits. In 2012, 56.6 million documents were loaned, representing a decrease of 6.1 % from 2010 (60.2 million). This decrease breaks the upward trend of the last decade and is mainly due to a 1.9 million decrease audiovisuals, nearly a million less audio, periodicals and other documents. The loan of books remain almost the same as in 2010, with a slight increase. Public libraries in Spain have not yet incorporated ebooks in 2012, with some exceptions. It is expected to occur massively in 2014.

From Efectos de la crisis económica en las bibliotecas españolas kindly translated by Hernández-Sánchez, Hilario and Arroyo-Vázquez, Natalia in El profesional de la información, 2014, vol. 23, n. 2

  • New York Public Library now lets you use 20,000 historical maps for free – Engadget. “The New York Public Library has published more than 20,000 of its historical maps under a Creative Commons public domain license.  You can freely download, manipulate and publish cartography created between 1660 and 1922, a large chunk of which explores New York City’s neighborhoods in detail.”
  • Not Your Mama’s Library Program: Lanyards give way to coding and power tools in summer tech camps nationwide – Digital Shift (USA). “Computer coding programs and robotics are just some of the tools intrepid young patrons will be using this summer as school and public librarians nationwide gear up for technology camps.” … “For Techman, the camps are a great way to excite students about technology and get them to actively engage with it. Another benefit? They enable Techman to hone her own skills and bring them back to benefit her community at Broadus Wood in the fall. Plus, she says, it takes very little for a teacher or librarian to launch a camp around the programming language Scratch or Mozilla’s video app Popcorn Maker. Both programs are practically plug-and-play and free of charge.”

UK local news by authority

  • Barnsley – Investigation into Barnsley town centre regeneration – Barnsley Chronicle. “: “We are now moving in a different direction and we also accept the future will not be just retail shopping in our town centre. “It will be about the cultural offer such as libraries, restaurants and businesses.””
  • Lincolnshire – Nettleham Library Will Not Be Volunteer-Run By Parish Council – Giles McNeill.  “The Parish Council believes that it has made every effort to bring about the establishing of a Community Library in the village but sadly the intransigence of the county council to negotiate a more realistic lease agreement has made this impossible.  “Lincolnshire County Council would not agree to a minimum five year lease on the existing building, insisting that its Model Heads of Terms are applied allowing it to break the lease arrangement at any time.”” see also Nettleham Parish Council pulls its bid to run the village library – Lincolnshire Echo. “The council believes that it has made every effort to bring about setting up a community-run library in the village. But it says the “intransigence” of Lincolnshire County Council to negotiate a more realistic lease agreement has made this impossible.”

“It is absurd that Netteham’s library will almost certainly close despite Nettleham Parish Council and over ninety local volunteers having come forward to continue to operate a local library.”

  • Neath Port Talbot – New chapter for Neath Port Talbot threatened libraries – South Wales Evening Post. Neath Port Talbot Council is saving £238,143 by off-loading nine of its libraries.” … “From today Cwmllynfell, Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, Ystalyfera, Seven Sisters and Blaengwynfi libraries will transfer to community management and operate with volunteer staff from within the community with book stock and support provided by Neath Port Talbot library service.” … “The libraries at Briton Ferry, Resolven, Cymmer Afan and Taibach have been working towards taking over responsibility for the buildings and the library service in those areas. To help, additional time and support has been provided by the council.”
  • Southend – Enough volunteers step in to run Southend’s libraries – Echo. “The council is confident it has enough support to take over Westcliff and Southchurch libraries and to help a skeleton staff of paid librarians run Kent Elms and Leigh libraries.   So far, 66 people have expressed an interest in volunteering in the new “community libraries”, which will save the authority £378,000 over three years.”
  • Sunderland – Library reopens after £500,000 revamp Sunderland Echo. “The library closed at the end of February to allow the refurbishment – its first since it opened in 1995 – to go ahead. It is now hoped that the number of people using the library will be significantly boosted. The investment comes after councillors voted to axe nine Wearside libraries.” … “Improvements to the Fawcett Street site include the addition of a computer lounge, the provision of free wi-fi throughout and an area where people can try out tablet computers and e-readers.” … “… “An Arts Council-funded project called Happiness is a New Idea links the library with the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art on the top floor of the building, with artworks now appearing on all four floors.”

“Children have been working with artist Penny Payne to design and decorate a story sofa which will become a focal point for story telling sessions in the library.”

  • Swansea – Children benefit from library upgrade – Best Of. “The improvements made to Morriston library have resulted in a massive increase in children using the service. The city council made an investment of £345000 in the library at Morriston. A large part of the money has been spent on improvement to the children’s facilities at the centre. This has most definitely payed off as there has been an 83% increase in the usage by children”
  • York – Could John Lewis be the key to the future of libraries? – Yorkshire Post. ““What we are doing is setting up an Industrial and Provident Society, which is a little bit like the John Lewis mutual model,” says Fiona Williams, shadow chief executive of Explore York Libraries and Archives. “In effect it will be a third owned by staff and two thirds owned by the community.” Membership of the new organisation, which will in effect be run like a social enterprise, will be open to anybody over 16 and once signed up they will be entitled to vote on the future running of the service and have the opportunity to join its board as one of two community directors.” … “It’s hoped the new arrangement will be in place by May with the team behind the change having secured a five year contract to run the service on behalf of the council. Inevitably, not everyone has welcomed the move with opponents fearing any step towards outsourcing will ultimately lead to job cuts and reduced levels of service. The council will still fund libraries to the tune of £100,000 [sic – Ed.]  a year, but with the organisation eligible for tax breaks and able to bid for outside funding it is hoped it will help relieve the pressure on an already cash-strapped authority.”