In the last editorial I wrote on the poor showing that Carillion appear to be giving for those who would argue for outsourcing library services.  It is worth mentioning, as one commenter did to me, of course, that there are other options for outsourcing.  There’s not too many others, admittedly, but they are there. There is in fact only one other, GLL, which are present in the UK market as a multi-council operation and, unlike Carillion, they are a social enterprise and so are not in it (strictly speaking) for the profit. LSSI are the other obvious contender but, as yet, despite running a fair few in the US, they do not currently have a single UK libraries contract.  They’d also like to distance themselves from Carillion as shown by this tweet I received from one of their senior UK people: “if they’re going to be outsourced, the profession should seek out the ONLY professional libraries operator! “.

There are also of course libraries run by non-profits in single councils: with York and Suffolk being the libraries-only concerns and the others being leisure services as well.  So, outsourcing remains an option but, as in other things (not least individual traditional council-run libraries, some of which are excellent and some of which are dire) there is quite a variation.  Working as we do in a time of tremendous stress, we will see over the next few years if this option is a successful and viable one … forced evolution will do its work and we will see which one these new options, and the old ones as well, are left standing.



  • GLL and the most visited library in London? – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. Looks at Woolwich Library which GLL claims is the most visited library in London – it is shared with a council service centre. Lots of study and busy children’s section. Some out of order machines.  Close to large Tesco’s.
  • Radical Librarians Collective (Part Three) – Lauren Smith. “This post is about the session pitched by Kevin Sanders, about the lack of critical theory on Library and Information Studies (LIS) courses, which is particularly unusual for postgraduate courses, in which students are usually expected to be able to demonstrate that they can critically engage with their subject.”
  • What does Labour think? – Leon’s Library Blog. Unclear how many professional librarian posts lost. “Given the recent announcement by the LGA that many local authorities have reached a financial tipping point it is important for Labour to step forward and clarify its position on libraries. On the other hand, given that there are both local and European elections shortly maybe the shadow minister is deliberately remaining silent on the issue as perhaps we won’t like the answer. I’ve pointed out before that despite the criticism of current government policy Labour are just as happy to hand libraries over to volunteers and have yet to offer any meaningful alternative.”


  • Ten minute video on how popular New York libraries are: queues in the morning before opening, computers so busy no point going in to use them in the afternoon, CV help, rhymetime, family literacy, “free education for the children and free learning for the parents”, learning English, classical music performances, mental health, remote reading groups (conference calls on telephone), “I see hundreds of people and I know I can only serve sixty or so”, knitting groups, mah jong, Academic Olympiad, youth services “we want them to be here where they’re safe”. 8 out of 211 libraries open on Sundays.
  • Secrets of the stacks – Medium (USA). A look at stock management policies in the US, including CREW and MUSTIE (no – me neither – Ed.).

UK local news by authority

  • Cheshire West and Chester -Community Café built by students opens in Winsford Library – Your Northwich and Winsford. “‘Novel Bite Cafe’, a partnership project between Cheshire West and Chester Council and Mid Cheshire College, has seen joinery students adapt the kitchen, public service students painted the café with vibrant colours and graphics students design the new logo.” … ““We’ve noticed much stronger links between the Library, college students and the community. We are providing the most vulnerable of learners with a real life works experience opportunity.”
The new children's library

The new children’s library

  • Edinburgh – New space at George IV Bridge for children and music libraries – Edinburgh Reporter. “The City of Edinburgh Council has today opened new spaces to house the children’s and music collections at the refurbished Central Library.” … “The new facilities have been specially designed to be accessible to all, and for the first time in 40 years will allow all of the central library facilities to be housed in the same building.” … “The new children’s collection features a special ‘under 5s’ area with artwork by renowned children’s illustrator Catherine Rayner. ” … “The dedicated music collection has launched as a hub for musicians, students and fans alike, with a dedicated space for engaging with music and with others. A soundproof acoustic pod for musicians to practice in will be available to book” [The Council will be hosting an open day on Saturday 7 June to celebrate the launch of the new libraries, as well as the refurbishment of the Edinburgh and Scottish Library. For a full programme of events, please visit http://talesofonecity.wordpress.com/opendayprogramme/ – Ed.]
  • Lincolnshire – Save Lincolnshire Libraries fight costs Lincolnshire County Council £30,000 – Lincolnshire Echo. Council reveals cost of legal action and blames campaigners for wasting money.  Council also notes campaigner has legal aid “and that is a cost to all of us”. [On the other hand, if the council had been seen to have done things properly then no money need to have been wasted at all.  It’s like a criminal complaining about the cost of the police force – Ed.]
  • Lincolnshire – This has been a shameful week for Lincolnshire” #SaveLincsLibraries – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “This has been a shameful week for Lincolnshire. As the UK watches the County Council cut the Library Service by 40%, despite the pending Judicial Review, I have to ask how much are we going to regret this in the future? Last year there were over 5 million transactions between the library service and its clients” … “Now we are told that there must be a huge cut in library hours and mobile library stops because there are no longer the members of staff to deliver appropriate provision. Why were staff taken through a redundancy procedure prior to the Judicial Review?”.
  • Sheffield – Save Burngreave Library Group – Campaign group.
  • Wigan – Opinion: Keeping pace with IT is a real challenge – Wigan Today. “Take residents in Standish who are demanding that Wigan Council returns to placing hard copies of planning applications in the library. As a cost-saving measure, the authority took the decision a while ago only to publish such documents online. There is no excuse not to be able to read them still because everyone has free access to computers at libraries. But some residents, particularly older ones, find it a real pain to view them on a computer. ” … “There are printing facilities in libraries but at 10p a sheet, it soon mounts up if you want to run off a whole sheaf .” … “Surely it isn’t too much for the council to print off, for library use, a few extra copies of documents that are already handed out in paper form at planning meetings, just so that other interested parties aren’t disenfranchised?”
  • Wrexham – Residents re-open library in Gresford, Wrexham – BBC. “Gresford library shut in March as part of a Wrexham council plan to save £92,000 a year on its libraries budget. Now local volunteers have come forward and formed a limited company to take over the running of the library.” … ” team of 30 volunteers keeps the library open 13 hours a week over three days rather than the previous 21 hours across five days.”