William Sieghart, who is producing a national report on public libraries on behalf of the DCMS, has revealed some of his key thoughts so far.  The key points appear to me to be:

  • Focus on co-locations and shared services.
  • Library authority structure to remain the same.
  • One national online library network inc. one library management system, one library card and one training system
  • Network to expand into joint procurement, best practice and “improving the leadership”/vision.
  • Expansion of network into community buildings inc. public houses
  • Funding to be from bids to e.g. Transformational Challenge Award.
  • More thoughts and invites for visits welcomed.

Leaving inside the groaner that is pubs, the big thing for me here is how pragmatic and relatively unrevolutionary this is.  I can almost see some of this happening. A single LMS is going to cost a fortune but it’s worth a go if it unites all authorities and Mr Sieghart is not just coming up with ideas but working out how best to fund them.  He knows that there’s zero chance of central government going against the key tenets of localism and forcing library authorities to merge so he’s going for things which will encourage the benefits of merging without the actual, um, merging. I also love the bit about improving training for “New graduates into the profession”.  I don’t know about you but I’ve not seen any new graduates in the profession for about three or four years and the idea of actually getting new recruits is a bit startling.  The least that can be said is that the man has hope.  It’s not going to please those who were hoping for a “saving” of the public library service but then, frankly, there’s no chance either Labour or Conservative would ringfence funding anyway.  What he’s going for is trying to modernise, rationalise and,, in some ways, revolutionise the service in realistic ways.  We will see over the next couple of years how realistic, or not, this approach turns out to be.  What it has going for it is the General Election.  Both parties would benefit from being able to say they’re doing something about public libraries.  Some of this stuff may even end up, if we’re lucky, in a manifesto.

Two other key things today is that Unison have announced that the strike action will be on 10th July.  It is likely that many libraries will be closed on that day as library workers express their discontent at losing over 10% of their spending power over the last four years.  The other thing is that the withdrawal of funding in Lincolnshire has meant that a dozen volunteers helping out in one council-supported library have decided not to help any more.  It’s a classic example of a council, on the face of it, shooting itself in the foot and casts some doubt over the sustainability of a model it wants for more than half of its libraries.



William Sieghart

“as we know and as we experience every day, village and small town shops are disappearing overnight (unless you count the charity shops), and pubs have gone at an even higher rate. Rural areas are bereft of most things now, including post offices, which would have been ideal places for so hosting libraries. But also doctors surgeries are closing in the smaller villages.” Frances Hendrix on Lis-Pub-Libs.

  • Wil Iam Sieghart on PUBlic Libraries – Question Everything. “Anyone in charge or involved in the profession who thinks that books in a pub, phone box or other static building without a library manager or librarian there shouldn’t be involved in libraries because they clearly don’t know what libraries do. ” … “Not sure how he could force the introduction of one LMS across all authorities, the suppliers of these systems would probably sue and it may not even be legal under competition law. ” … “Sometimes one size does actually fit all, its called library standards and that is what is needed as well as less library authorities to get rid of the elephant in the room that is the elephant sized service support costs, localism is just smoke and mirrors for the cuts” … “With the opposition almost non existent, the library minister without a brain getting seemingly everything he could wish for from this independent report and the upper echelons of the profession refusing to speak out about this nonsense then it is even darker days for PUBlic libraries. “

“His thoughts as given to the LGA. There will be disappointment that he has not addressed the number of separately managed authorities in England as is happening in other parts of the UK and Ireland. The number of library authorities in England was increased by 50% following the last local government re-organisation to the current 151, some of these responsible for as few as 5 libraries when the larger authorities look after about 100 libraries. Even Ed Vaizey told The Bookseller that the number of authorities should perhaps be reduced by about 30%.  It does seem that there will have to be considerable investment in technology to replace the multitude of legacy systems and to support developments such as a national e lending service, a national catalogue and an universal library card, and to ensure interoperability between authorities. Campaigners and many librarians will be anxious to hear how the Panel intends to address what the All Party Library Group described as the “leadership void”. We have had so many reports and studies over the past decade but alas, little action that has benefited library users, especially in rural and deprived areas.” Desmond Clarke


  • 11 whole reasons to support a National Public Libraries Festival – Librarycamp. Show off, shape the future, share, show, shift perceptions, celebrate, be optimistic. reach new audiences, goodies. Let’s get people thinking and talking about libraries in a different way. A festival will animate the library space in new ways. Can we inspire the public to use library in new ways too?”
  • Dawn of the Unread: reaching out to a new generation of readers – Voices for the Library. ” have created an interactive graphic novel called Dawn of the Unread which is available across all media platforms so that our ‘youtube generation’ can access it in formats they are most comfortable with. I chose the graphic novel medium because it is something reluctant readers will be more comfortable with. The embedded content means that they can go ‘deeper’ into the text for additional information in the form of video, social media and contextual essays. It was launched on National Libraries’ Day (8 February 2014) with a new chapter published on the 8th of each month until April 2015. At the end of the project a physical copy will be presented to every library and school in Nottinghamshire. The narrative underpinning Dawn of the Unread is a loose twist on the zombie genre, with 12 writers from Nottingham’s past returning back from the grave in search of the one thing that can keep their memories alive: ‘boooks’.”
  • Dawn of the Unread, Merrick Cockell, Franchising libraries & Sieghart’s message to the LGA – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. Discusses, among other things, the first spotting of the word “franchising” when it comes to outsourcing public libraries.
  • James Patterson to donate £250k to independent bookshops – Guardian. ” “Right now we need places in the world where people can go out and talk about books, and independent bookstores and libraries are those places … A lot of people are turning to ebooks. Ebooks are fine but it’s not fine to put small, independent bookshops out of business, it’s not fine for libraries to be closed down and school libraries to have less funding. Those are not good things.”

“If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature? Who will discover and mentor new writers? Who will publish our important books? What will happen if there are no more books like these?” James Patterson

  • Library campaigners throw the book at local councils – BBC. “At Dordon, they have even introduced dance classes as part of a much broader offer to the local community than anything normally associated with the traditional image of patient, muted librarianship and weighty tomes silently gathering dust, unopened, on antique bookshelves. But if this is all starting to sound rather Big Society, it’s time for a note of caution. Could the net effect be quite the opposite? Socially divisive rather than inclusive?” … “Alan Gibbons will be among my guests on this weekend’s Sunday Politics Midlands in its usual 11:00 BST slot on BBC One on Sunday 29 June. So too will be the Conservative MP for Meriden, Caroline Spelman, and the Labour MP for Telford, David Wright. “
  • Sir Merrick Cockell to lead Cratus from July – Cratus. ““I am delighted to be joining Cratus at such an exciting time in their development. Having observed their work with John Laing pioneering contracted-out library services, I know that they are one of the few companies that truly understand how local government works. They know that elected members need to lead the revolution in local public services that is happening across the country and that the public and private sectors need to better understand and learn from each others’ strengths.”


  • At a Tipping Point: Education, Learning and Libraries – OCLC (USA). “Fueled by mobile devices, new learning platforms and economic incentives, learners are trying and achieving success with new learning models. The information consumer has become an online education consumer. The study aims to provide librarians with important information about the trends and triggers that are reshaping education—and the opportunities and challenges this shift brings to libraries. The report explores: Habits and perceptions of online learners, Expectations for the future of online learning, Top-of-mind perceptions of a college education, Factors influencing the college choice, Library use by online learners—on campus and online, MOOCs—a massively interesting case study on the future of education, The library brand, Implications and opportunities for academic and public libraries”
  • In Praise of Public Libraries: Beacons of Knowledge, Refuge, Wonder – Life (USA). “Kids will keep going to school, and people will read on their Kindles and Nooks and Kobos. But unless efforts are made to preserve them, our local libraries — places of knowledge, refuge and wonder for generations — one day might be gone. That’s the thing.”
  • Lookit These Library Cards From Around The US – Buzzfeed (USA). Some beautiful library cards (and some not so beautiful) here from all 50 US states.
  • Public libraries in Chicago, suburbs offering online streaming – Chicago Tribune (USA). “Try to check out a hot new book or movie at your local library, and you’re likely to get put on a long waiting list. Libraries in the Chicago area are trying to change that by offering a new online checkout service. Instead of having a limited number of each book or movie, they can now offer unlimited access to titles — sometimes on the day they’re released in stores. The service is called hoopla digital and it’s available through a mobile app or web browser at the Chicago Public Library and 23 suburban libraries. “
  • Sorry Librarians But Your FB Likes Don’t Matter Anymore – PC Sweeneys Blog (USA). Facebook have reduced the power of likes to spread the message.  Instead, the argument is that one should pay to advertise because people who like you, like you anyway … you should be going for the ones who don’t


  • Public Library Futures in a global digital world – 12th August at Library of Birmingham, IFLA. “In a rapidly changing environment please join us explore and examine the opportunities surrounding public libraries. Hosted by the new and highly anticipated Library of Birmingham, the conference will provide the opportunity to meet with colleagues from around the world, and explore the synergy between physical and virtual spaces.  You are invited to hear about how colleagues have successfully broken these barriers and positioned new library spaces as drivers for regeneration and community capacity building.”

UK local news by authority

  • Devon – Fears for the future of local libraries across East Devon – Express and Echo. “In a bid to save £1.5m from the service and to modernise it, the authority is looking for 28 of its 50 libraries to be ‘community led’. The other 22, which account for almost 80 per cent of the council’s total library usage, including Exmouth, Honiton, Sidmouth and Seaton in East Devon, have been earmarked to become Devon Centres – offering a broad range of services in addition to the library.” … “she branded the consultation as “flawed” and said consultants had not been brought in to conduct a survey of usage, and figures on population and library usage were inaccurate.”
  • Lancashire – New Eccleston library ready for the community – Preston Citizen. “After spending several months in temporary accommodation, the library has moved into a brand new building that is part of a new shopping complex. The library offers a range of activities, including computer courses, children’s story time, and ‘knit and natter’ groups.”
  • Leicestershire – Campaigners fighting to save Mountsorrel and Rothley libraries collect 500 names on petition – Leicester Mercury. “Campaigners fighting for the future of two village libraries collected more than 500 signatures on their petition during a protest. People in Mountsorrel and Rothley staged the protest on Saturday.”
  • Lincolnshire – Alford library blow as volunteers stand down – Lincolnshire Echo. “dozen volunteers who help run the Alford library are to stand down next month.  In another blow to the county’s libraries, the team of volunteers have unanimously decided to make July 17 their final day. The volunteers had run the library on Thursdays for the last 16 months – before the Lincolnshire County Council announced changes to the way libraries would be run.” Decision made due to withdrawal of support from Council. “”In the short term this means the library will now only open for the 60 per cent reduced professional run time pending the outcome of the judicial review.”
  • Manchester – Manchester Central Library opens new Business and IP Centre after £48 million refurbishment – BDaily. “The British Library’s vision is to create a National Network of Business & IP Centres across the UK offering a free, trusted and valuable service for the nation’s entrepreneurs, so that anyone starting or running a business has a central place to go, in their local area, for support, inspiration and information. “
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Community, business and charity groups to take over buildings RCT council closed down – Wales Online. “In a bid to bridge a £70m budget gap, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council swung the axe at the former Treherbert Community Education Centre, as well as Ynyshir, Maerdy and Beddau libraries – but at a cabinet meeting on Monday, it was decided that these buildings can stay open thanks to strong business plans from charities and the community.”
  • Wolverhampton – Wolverhampton council boss: £25m cuts backed ‘with deep regret’ – Express and Star. “But when its budget for the next 12 months was drawn up it still had to find £59m of those cuts, despite having already reduced opening hours of libraries and shutting most of its youth clubs in a series of controversial measures”
  • Wrexham – Wrexham council idea to sell adverts on staff uniform – BBC. “A report says advertising could also be put on the sides of buildings, TVs in school canteens and libraries, t shirts and other clothing.”