ALMA-UK (no, I’ve never head of them either but apparently it’s “a voluntary cross-nation partnership, dedicated to enhancing the public value of archives, libraries and museums UK wide”) has come up with some useful findings to help keep your public library afloat.  It also provides, for free, a sample questionnaire and spreadsheets which any library service can use to find out the economic impact of its service.  The results of its survey incidentally is that the value of each library trip for the user is between 5.5 and 7.5 times the cost of provision.  Which is a pretty good multiplier and places it at the high end of studies which normally place the return on investment of public libraries as from 1.6 to 5.6.

National UK news

  • ALMA-UK announces publication of new research on the Economic Value of Libraries and launch of the Economic Value of Libraries Toolkit – Alma UK. “ALMA-UK has published the report on its recent research into the economic value of public libraries. A key finding was that users of libraries place a theoretical monetary value of between £24 and £27 per visit on their library services, which is between 5.5 and 7.5 times greater than the cost of provision.  ALMA-UK has also launched a toolkit to enable individual library services to measure their own economic impact.” … “Public Libraries in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales contributed to the research, which was based on over 4000 user surveys conducted at 50 public libraries in Scotland, 25 in Wales, and 8 in Northern Ireland, and undertaken in the summer of 2013 for ALMA-UK by ERS Research & Consultancy.” … “The research estimated that in 2012-13 public libraries supported 1,296 jobs in Scotland, 596 jobs in Wales and 327 in jobs in Northern Ireland over and above those directly employed by the service.” … “The Toolkit provides libraries with a means of assessing their own value to users, and, if required, to combine results into service-wide, regional, or country-wide impacts. It is freely available and simple to use, providing the survey templates, undertaking all calculations automatically, and offering guidance on everything from setting up the surveys to aggregating the results.”
  • Bookbug Week celebrates the joys and benefits of early years reading – LIST. “Held across Scotland in libraries and community centres, SBT’s Bookbug sessions are a lively mix of stories and songs, designed to ignite a love of books in little ones. Bookbug Week celebrates what goes on throughout the year, but cranks it up a gear by adding in a special theme. ‘There are events in every local authority across Scotland, which are listed on the SBT website,’ explains Wallace. ‘There will be songs, rhymes, stories and other activities, all on the theme of Bookbug’s Big Sports Day to tie-in with that important sporting event happening this summer.’”
  • Library A to Z illustrations, book and advocacy tools  – KickStarter. This project has now reached its £2000 goal and needs just £350 more for its next goal of producing ” a series of posters using the illustrations and make them available for anyone to download under creative commons licence, edit if wanted, and to print for use in library advocacy.”
  • Universal credit: trials to support vulnerable claimants to start – Public Net. “Universal credit requires all claimants to submit claims on line. Although 86 per cent of the UK population have access to the internet, the pilots have found that in the case of benefit claimants it is closer to 60 percent. Theoretically claimants can use facilities in libraries to submit claims, but they don’t visit libraries and they need support to cope with the technology and with the benefit processes. ” … “as staff from troubled families teams. Trials will start by September at the latest. Evidence from the Pathfinder sites has revealed that co-locating all staff from different organisations in the same place is very effective in supporting vulnerable households, whether this is a Job centre, council office or a library.”


  • 6 Cities, 6 Photos: What Public Libraries Mean to Communities – Next City (USA). ““Libraries are complex organizations.” But he pauses and offers this: “Even if they hardly ever use their library, people have an identification with it as home. That’s where they live, what they’re about, where they’re from.” He goes on. “I think that’s one reason why people maybe want to support libraries more than other forms of government.”.  The six libraries chosen are worth looking at – covering themes of racial integration, literacy, online access – that resonate in the UK quite as much as across the Atlantic.
  • Growing trend: warehoused libraries – Libraries in Crisis (USA). “In spite of the fact that studies show students prefer print for serious academic reading, colleges and universities continue emptying the stacks, storing books off site, and moving towards bookless libraries.” … “The swift progression of the library’s extreme makeover, planned and carried out behind closed doors, echoes the story of library deconstruction in so many other colleges, as well as public libraries. Check out what’s happening in public libraries in my post: “Extreme weeding leaves half empty shelves”.”
  • Inventables to donate 3D carving machines to libraries in 50 states – Chicago Tribune (USA). “Chicago-based Inventables says it plans to give away 3D carving machines to libraries and other public maker spaces in all 50 states. CEO Zach Kaplan says the inspiration comes from the success of the Chicago Public Library’s Maker Lab, winner of the Social Innovator Award at the 2013 Chicago Innovation Awards. His company says it also wants to build the market for its 3D carving machines.”
  • “Stack attack”? The NYPL controversy and the future of public libraries – Pew Internet (USA). “The New York Public Library recently announced that it is rethinking its controversial plans to turn parts of its 42nd Street location into a public lending library—replacing the stacks that housed its research collection with a four-story atrium in the process. NYPL announced Thursday that they will scrap those plans due to budget concerns, and instead keep the research library and its stacks intact. Or, as a New York Daily News headline put it: “The New York Public Library has pulled the plug on its planned stack attack.””
  • Wilmington police spark kids’ interest in reading – Delaware Online (USA). “A group of Wilmington police officers has been blanketing the city in an effort to book kids – and the kids love it. The books, in this case, are in the trunks of police cruisers. Master Cpl. Gary Tabor found children’s literature had been missing in the homes he entered while he was a member of the department’s major crime unit. He discussed it with his wife, Melissa, a school teacher, who told him about the importance of children having reading materials readily available. Tabor grabbed 50 of his children’s old books and began passing them out to children in the Riverside housing community, essentially starting the “Book ‘Em Cops and Kids Literacy Initiative.””

UK local news by authority

  • Brent – Cllr Mashari’s offer at our Public Meeting 7/5/14 – Preston Library Campaign. “this Labour administration the Labour party in Brent will offer the building at a peppercorn rent to any local community group who can provide a sustainable community Library and that is our pledge. We will not open to competitive tender in order to give preference to local groups if they can demonstrate health and safety sustainability etc. and we will offer help and assistance through Brent CVS the voluntary sector and continued support and networking through the Brent libraries forum which has proved successful for the likes of the Friends of Kensal Rise”
  • Croydon/Lambeth – Candidates address top issues in local debate – East London Lines. “Another hot topic of debate was the Upper Norwood Library – an independent joint library run by a trust of dedicated librarians and volunteers that serves the five boroughs of Croydon, Lambeth, Bromley, Southwark and Lewisham. Up until early 2014 it was partly funded by Croydon and Lambeth Councils.  Temporary funding is now being provided by Lambeth until a new organisation can take over. Its financial situation is affecting both the opening hours of the library and its ability to acquire up-to-date media facilities and new titles for its shelves. The future of the library depends on it receiving either council or commercial funding to sustain the facilities and its traditions.”
  • Devon – Your North Devon library: “use it or lose it” – North Devon Gazette. “In Braunton, residents have banded together to form Save Braunton Library and open the campaign with a public meeting on Wednesday of next week (May 21) at the Black Horse pub in Church Street.”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Library protesters take their fight to the Senedd – Wales Online. “More than 50 people from the Rhydyfelin Library Support Group waved placards and chanted “save our library” outside the Senedd. The group have fervently opposed a decision by Rhondda Cynon Taf council to shut the popular facility as part of its first round of cuts to public services. The site was not initially earmarked for closure, but the local authority made a last-minute u-turn and opted to save Pontyclun Library instead.” … “While the large group was protesting in Cardiff Bay, an official letter confirming the library’s closure was sent to the centre. The letter, which has infuriated campaigners, states the library will shut on May 31 despite their legal challenge”
    Stoke on Trent – Job fears at Stoke on Trent City Council looks to cut an extra £150 million – Sentinel. “The dire prediction comes as more than £80 million of cuts have been imposed since 2010 resulting in hundreds of job cuts and the closure of swimming pools, care homes and libraries.”
  • Suffolk – Baking by the books: Kesgrave Library are selling cakes for carers Suffolk Libraries. “Kesgrave Library Community Group’s Baking Club have been baking to support Suffolk Family Carers and will be selling the results on Saturday 24 May. Kesgrave Library has a regular baking club who get together to tackle a wide range of recipes.”
  • Suffolk – Stradbroke Library Post Office gets the green light! – Suffolk Libraries. “It has been confirmed this week that Stradbroke Library will host a new Post Office – meaning that Suffolk Libraries may be one of the first library services in the country to run a post office. The Post Office has this week announced that following a consultation period with local people, a new post office will reopen at the library after the previous facility closed around 18 months ago.”

“We believe that we might be the first library service in the country to be running a post office which is very exciting! Libraries can be a focal point for the community and it makes sense for us to offer other services where possible as it supports the running of the library whilst providing a vital service to local people which has previously been lost.” Alison Wheeler, General Manager of Suffolk Libraries

  • Suffolk – Summer Reads project comes to Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries. “part of a new reading project involving library services in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Summer Reads also involves The Writers Centre in Norwich and is running events in Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds libraries. There are a range of events and activities to get people interested and involved in exploring a reading adventure. Summer Reads is all about exploring and trying something completely out of your comfort zone, it’s also about discovering amazing new books, stories and writers and reading experiences.”