Some technology-related moves have caught my eye over the Easter weekend.  Bibliotheca have taken note of the current parlous state of UK public libraries finances and come up with a scheme that allows authorised members of the public to use library buildings while they are entirely unstaffed.  CCTV keeps watch and doors open and close at the appointed times.  This may be seen by some as the natural next step in a process which started with self-service machines and will be very attractive to library authorities, although perhaps less so to their staff.  A full description of the technology and some thoughts on have been provided by Mick Fortune and I recommend you have a read.

The announcement by the Government of a panel on digital inclusion has also raised an eyebrow at Public Libraries News Towers.  There’s no mention in it of the vital role that public libraries play in both providing access and assistance to those who don’t yet have internet access or an idea of how to use if they did.  Of course, that tuition may be a little difficult if there’s no-one in the building in the first place … but authorities may be weighing the cuts in in budgets with all possibilities and judging accordingly.


UK News

  • Council bodies to sit on digital inclusion panel – Public Technology. “The government today announced the creation of a new advisory panel to assist councils increase the number of citizens able to access services online. The initiative was unveiled as part of the government’s new digital inclusion strategy aimed at at reducing the number of people who are offline by 25% by 2016. As part of the strategy, a new Localities Advisory Panel will be created by the Department for Communities and Local Government, along with the Local Digital Alliance (LDA), a coalition of local government digital representative bodies.” [No mention of the role public libraries play – Ed.]
  • Let boys be boys when it comes  to books – Herald Scotland. “Consciously or not, he says, publishers and librarians have been shaping children’s books to reflect their own preferences, and mums and aunts and grannies have been buying books that appeal to them. As a result, much rough and tumble masculinity has been lost from literature”
  • My submission to the Sieghart Advisory Panel on Public Librariesexperience working in public libraries … He is also a Unison member, a member of Voices for the Library (VFTL), sits on the organising committee of Speak up for Libraries (SUFL) and is a member of The Library Campaign (TLC) but wishes to submit evidence to this panel in his own personal capacity.”
  • Open+ – UK launch of 24/7 library access from Bibliotheca. – Changing Libraries. “Open + is not so much a product as a solution. Bringing together security, surveillance and systems in one package requires a fair amount of tailoring to local needs so this may not be “one size fits all solution” – each installation could bring new challenges. The Open+ website declares it to be “a complete solution which extends library opening hours and improves service to the community” which “can automatically control and monitor building access, self-service kiosks, public access computers, lighting, alarms, public announcements and patron safety.”

“On arrival at the library during unstaffed hours Open+ subscribers insert their membership card into a reader linked to the ALTO system via the SIP 2.0 protocol and enter a PIN to gain access to the building. Once inside they can browse and borrow until the branch closes. Closure is announced over a loudspeaker system. Both the announcement and its timings are set by the library staff in the system parameters. Security cameras constantly monitor the library during unstaffed hours. A central controller has access to all the security systems, cameras, speakers etc. The controller could be located anywhere with access to the internet – so could be facilities managed or maintained by council ICT services as agreed.”

  • Remove The Sun newspaper from public libraries – Petititonbuzz. “We would like public libraries to replace the Sun newspaper with a publication that does not promote misogynistic images of women or promote and eroticise violent crimes against women. This is not censorship, councils choose which publications they buy based on the needs of the local community, libraries choose not to buy The Daily Star or The Daily Sport which were cited along with The Sun in the Leveson enquiry as “relentlessly objectifying women” and “Portraying them as a sum of sexualised body parts” and we believe they should choose not to buy The Sun for the same reasons.”


  • Beijing Party Chief serves as library volunteer – China.org (China). “The Communist Party Chief in Beijing Guo Jinlong appeared unannounced and served as a volunteer librarian at Beijing’s Capital Library for an hour on Saturday ahead of the upcoming World Reading Day, the Beijing Morning Post reports.” … “”The Capital Library has an average flow of 10,000 readers every day, while there are over 3,600 registered volunteers serving these readers”.
  • Connecticut House of Representatives Passes Bill to Create Statewide Ebook Platform – Library Journal. “The House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill [HB 5477] on Wednesday that aims to lower the price of electronic books for public libraries over time by having the State Library Board set up a statewide platform for e-books. The hope is that publishers will give better prices to the State Library Board, which would be representing all public libraries, compared to an individual library.”
  • Digital Public Library of America to add millions of records to its archive – Ars Technica (USA). “Today marks the Digital Public Library of America’s one-year anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, the non-profit library network announced six new partnerships with major archives, including the US Government Printing Office and the J. Paul Getty Trust. The DPLA is best described as a platform that connects the online archives of many libraries around the nation into a single network. You can search all of these archives through the digital library’s website, and developers can build apps around the DPLA’s metadata collection using the publicly available API.”

  • Funny library montage – Youtube.  “There are times, Mr Spock, when I think I should have been a librarian”.
  • Hong Kong authors seek public lending right so libraries pay royalties on book loans – South China Morning Post (China). “If an author has no income from selling his books, he will lose the incentive to continue creating,” Ma said. He is one of almost 450 local authors lobbying the government to introduce a public lending right law. Such a measure would require public libraries to pay authors who publish books in Hong Kong a royalty – of HK$3 to HK$5 – each time a book is borrowed. Authors have a right to be paid for free public use of their works in libraries, they say.”… Hong has 67 libraries and 10 mobiles for population of 7 million.
  • Lawyers in Libraries – Rocky Coast News. “In early May, libraries across Maine will partner with local lawyers to speak with library patrons about the challenges that arise when an individual is faced with a legal problem. Volunteer lawyers will provide information on how to access civil legal resources and will be available for a Q&A and brief consultations with attendees.”
  • Library ebook Situation is Appalling – Good E-reader (USA). “As much headway as Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, 3M and ALA make with publishers, many people still don’t think its enough. Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, called the library ebook situation “appalling,” explaining that denying libraries unfettered access to ebooks threatens the library mission to “preserve cultural heritage, provide accommodation for people with disabilities, and protect individual privacy,” according to the report.”
  • Thomas Frey (Futurist DaVinci Institute) – This Week In Libraries (Netherlands / Global). “No Business as usual with libraries, taking control of your destiny by a better understanding of the future and just in case vs. just in time scenarios.”

UK local news by authority

  • Croydon – Void left by Croydon Council cuts – Croydon Advertiser. “The arts  in  Croydon have taken a battering in recent years, with the controversial closure of some theatres, outsourcing of the libraries, the Riesco antique porcelain collection sold off, and the Mela summer festival shut down.”
  • Devon – Public consulted as North Devon libraries face closure – North Devon Journal. “Six North Devon libraries could shut under Devon County Council’s proposals. Appledore, Braunton, Chulmleigh, Combe Martin, Lynton and Northam were mentioned in a recent report. A 13-week public consultation was launched today.”
  • Enfield – A Week of Goodbyes‏ – Blowing my nose with a tissue of quotations. “For the last 5 years, I’ve worked as an Early Years Library Outreach Worker, delivering story and song times to children under 5 in children’s centres across the London Borough of Enfield on behalf of the library service. On the 5th of April 2014, the team of 5 people that I was a part of was reduced to a team of 1 person. The government says this is down to necessary ‘austerity measures’; the council call it ‘leaner working’; the press call it the impact of ‘The Cuts’; activists call it ‘the war against the welfare state’; for me it’s a job lost. But many of the children just thought it was my birthday.”
  • Falkirk – Dip in Falkirk Library Services visitors – Falkirk Herald. “During the first quarter of 2014, 25,813 people used the library service, down from 31,199 during the same period in 2011. Despite new services, including electronic books, user numbers have fallen consistently every quarter. Issues are also down, going from 1.1 million in 2010-11 to 927,074 in 2012/13.” … ““Libraries in Glasgow and Edinburgh are managing to keep their user numbers up as ours fall every year.  We should be looking at what they do.””
  • Lincolnshire – Volunteers step up campaign to keep Deepings Library running – Peterborough Today. “The newly-formed Friends of Deepings Library has submitted a business plan to Lincolnshire County Council to run Deepings Library. The council decided in December to withdraw funding from 32 of its 47 libraries, including the one in High Street, Market Deeping.” … “Friends spokesman Ashley Baxter, said: “Most of us would have preferred the county council to continue to run the library directly, and running a volunteer library on regular hours will be no mean feat.”
  • Powys – Go-ahead for new library – News North Wales. ” a  new library in Radnorshire costing £200,000 after the existing facility was described as “falling down”. Last week a grant of £180,000 was awarded by the Welsh Government to help move Llandrindod Wells Library, currently based in Beaufort Road, to the ground floor of the council’s Gwalia offices. The move is planned to be completed by February 2015.
  • St Helens – David Walliams accepting St Helens Library Book Award.
  • Surrey – Surrey Libraries’ Festival for Children – Surrey County Council. “There’s something for everyone at this year’s Surrey Libraries’ Festival for Children. Part of Off The Page, our programme of children’s events and activities, the festival will be jam-packed full of exciting things for 0 – 12 year olds to do, from crafts, noisy musical fun and author visits to multilingual rhymetimes and sensory storytimes. “
  • Wiltshire – Book lovers wanted for new Corsham library – This is Wiltshire. “Corsham library is looking to recruit book-loving volunteers as it prepares to move into a new modern home as part of the town’s new community campus.   In July, the town’s library will make the move from its current location in Pickwick Road to Springfield campus in Beechfield Road.   It is appealing for volunteers to help deliver an extended library service, with volunteers initially sought for Monday and Wednesday mornings for a minimum of three hours.” … “New volunteers will work alongside library staff as well as existing volunteers who currently help with providing a library service to housebound customers and with summer holiday reading schemes”