It was very informative to see the Sunday Politics programme on the BBC about cuts to library budgets.  Alan Gibbons was, as ever, excellent in defending libraries.  What was really interesting though was how similar both the Conservative and Labour MPs were on the issue: indeed, they completely agreed on every point (apart from, perhaps, charging market rate rents to volunteers).  Both praised co-locations and saw volunteers as a viable solution and had no problem with professional libraries being available only in the largest branches.  If public libraries play a part in the General Election at all, this may prove a problem for Labour because there just doesn’t seem to be a difference between them and the Conservatives on the issue.  Mind you, the same could be said about many issues and one does wonder if libraries would fare much better under Labour.  Many would argue that they would be the lesser of two evils but, so far at least, it is hard to see a renaissance coming for the sector should Ed Milliband become Prime Minister next year.



  • Digital Skills and Beyond: Training Library Trainers – Tinder Foundation. “over the last few months the Tinder Foundation training team has been developing a workforce development programme for customer facing library staff. We’re coming to the end of the project and I wanted to share what we’ve been up to. It’s been a very exciting time and a pleasure to work with the Society for Chief Librarians (SCL) who commissioned the work, and the Arts Council who are funding the programme”
  • Discovering digital libraries – Oxford University Press Blog. [Written by me – Ed.]. ” the meeting was the first one for public librarians in the UK of the OUP Library Advisory Council. The clever purpose of this impressive sounding group is to get together library staff who use and promote online resources so that we can share ideas and learn more about how the publisher can help libraries and their users. I am delighted to say that from the start – and to the great credit of our hosts – it was clear that this was not just going to be a thinly veiled sales day but rather a real chance for us all to hear about what best practice was going on and how we could adapt it for our own purposes.”
  • Donations won’t save independent bookshops, but readers can – Guardian / Comment is Free. “In a world where online book retailing is forcing bricks and mortar stores out of business, this is a substantial crutch for struggling booksellers – almost 550 of which have gone out of business since 2005 in the UK alone. Those remaining fell below 1,000 in number for the first time this February. However, a crutch is all Patterson is offering. He recognises that giving money is not enough to prevent the inevitable closure of more stores. In his statement, he says companies such as Amazon should aim to be “the saviour of reading” rather than forcing physical stores out of business; that it can be very profitable without pushing a total monopoly. But is it realistic to expect a company like Amazon, which is in direct competition with other digital giants such as Apple and Google, to play nice?” … “We have already lost too many indie bookshops and libraries.”
  • Mythical Maze – Solus.  A downloadable version of the video showing how to download the app that shows the posters and treasurehunt posters as animated.  Ideal for school assemblies.
  • Save libraries by putting them in the pub, says the man tasked by Government to save them – Independent.
  • Sunday Politics West Midlands – BBC (from 47:15).  Looks at cuts to libraries. Detail below:
    • Introduction: A volunteer-run library in Warwickshire (Dordon, which has a dancefloor) is used as an example of a successful branch by Conservative-run Staffordshire for its plan to transfer 24 of its libraries to volunteers to save £1.3m and to ensure none close.  One Staffs  library, Loggerheads Library, thinks it can run with volunteers but possibly with less hours. Another Staffs library, Talke Library, was only opened in a new building four years ago but may turn volunteer. A Labour councillor there thinks some may close (like Binley Woods did in Warwickshire, with the building now used by a children’s nursery).  Jacqueline Wilson understands need for cuts but feels libraries are “so important”. Even in Dordon library, a volunteer says that it will be charged a “market rent” in three years time but council “won’t give an idea of what that market rate is”.
    • Alan Gibbons.  Calls Austerity “the biggest con”.  National public library leadership “woeful” so very uneven in local authorities with Brighton doing well and others poorly. Volunteers not the same service as professionals.  In France, no volunteers replace paid staff.  Postcode lottery otherwise with socially deprived areas getting less volunteers and thus less libraries. Savings could be made by sharing services and reducing number of local authorities.  There needs to be a strategic plan e.g. New Zealand, Eire.  Japan and South Korea are seeing more libraries.  CILIP passed vote of no confidence in Ed Vaizey who doesn’t have a plan let alone a clue. Cipfa praise volunteers in keeping libraries open “but they should not have to do it” says Alan e.g. Friern Barnet.  “Is literacy really that low on the political agenda”?
    • MPs.  Labour MP (Telford) and Conservative MP (Solihull) both have new libraries opening in their constituencies. Solihull sees co-locating with e.g. Age UK and CAB increase usage.  Decline in book lending caused by e-books.  Telford MP praises self-service machine and co-location with parish council.  Charging market rates “up to Warwickshire”. Volunteers can increase opening hours. Role of specialist librarians may just be for largest libraries, especially in rural areas.  Ensure volunteers sustainable.
  • Volunteering no excuse for exploitation – Medium.  Looks at positive volunteering elsewhere then turns eye to Lincolnshire’s cuts.  “Apart from the disgraceful of act of closing libraries, which are in themselves a community resource, funded by the community for the benefit of the community, this was not collaborative commons, where communities launch their own initiatives as part of the collaborative commons, this was exploitation, exploitation without representation. Do we see the councillors who took this decision working for nothing? Er, no. To add insult to injury, they recently voted themselves an increase in their already over-generous allowances.” … “We have seen a number of websites recently set up, that promote the image they are part of the collaborative commons. They are not, they are promoting serfdom.”

Supporter’s news

  • Promoting Your Digital Resources from Oxford University Press‘A Library in Your Living Room’ has all the information you need about your online resources from Oxford University Press in one place, with a site that is quick and easy to use. Quick and easy access to everything you need to promote your products: from downloadable materials to help with Social Media, as well as everything your library users need to access them; from user guides, to videos to help them log in. Visit A Library in Your Living Room today!

International news

  • A computer for every student solves nothing – Chicago Sun Times (USA). Children with different backgrounds use computers differently.  Those without parental advantages use computers for games and have a short attention span.  A look at two different US libraries suggests that it will take more than a computer to make the playing field equal.
  • Comic book legend Stan Lee named Honorary Chair of Library Card Sign-up Month – ALA (USA).
  • Here’s What the Future of Reading Looks Like – New York Magazine (USA). “Last year, for the first time, publishers made more money from digital book sales than sales from brick-and-mortar bookstores” … “”E-readers are looking like the next iPod,” Mashable writes today, noting that smartphones and tablets with e-reader apps are poised to cannibalize sales of dedicated e-readers in the same way that the iPhone – which had all the capabilities of an iPod, plus calling and texting and tons of other apps – killed its single-feature predecessor.” … “The silver lining of the app-ification of books is that it has increased the potential audience for e-books. Now, everyone with a smartphone has the ability to download and read any e-book from any publisher with a few taps. The bad news is that, if current trends hold, fewer and fewer people will have a device that is strictly for reading. Books are becoming just another app, and the publishing industry’s glorious e-reader future seems to be fading from view.”
  • Nineteen Things That Will Break Your Heart When You Work in a Public Library – Feigning Interest (Ireland). There’s some lovely stuff in here like “This dad and his daughter goes on to visit the library every week and they take out ten books every time. The daughter happily tells you how much she likes reading because “Dad lets me read it to him!”  and sad-but-true things like “Learning your favourite elderly newspaper-reader has died a month after he has been buried.”

Local news by authority

  • Brent – Brent Council accused of allowing former library building to fall into disrepair – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Paul Lorber, former leader of the Brent Liberal Democrats, claims the former site of Barham Park Library, in Harrow Road, is rotting away with unpainted window frames, cracked masonry, and disconnected downpipes which cause water leaks.”
  • Devon – Library usage figures questioned – Exmouth Journal. “As part of the consultation, the council has said that the library’s number of active borrowers is only 13 per cent of its catchment area, ranking it a lowly 20th among Devon’s libraries. However, this is based on a figure of 2,400 borrowers, which means the catchment area population being used for the council’s data works out at more than 18,000. For comparison, the combined population of Budleigh, East Budleigh, Bicton, Otterton and Colaton Raleigh is estimated by the council at 7,738.”
  • Devon – Save Braunton Library Campaign launches consultation with local children – Save Braunton Library. “Ben Hewitt of the Save Braunton Library campaign said “Children and young people are in and out of the library the whole time and they have lots of ideas about its future. Sadly the consultation forms are very complicated and the public meetings have been held during school hours or late in the evening. It is vital that children’s views are actively sought out and listened to.” Local schools are sharing the new consultation form with children and asking them to fill in the forms with their parents over the coming weeks. The information will then be shared with Devon County Council as a formal submission before the end of the consultation period on July 17th.”
  • Kent – Project Manager: Transformation Delivery Libraries – Jobs in Kent. “Our client requires a competent and confident results driven individual who will play a critical role working collaboratively with external stakeholders to ensure the implementation and delivery of a trust model for Kent Libraries, Registration and Archives.”
  • Kent – Without consultation, have Kent already decided what’s next for public libraries? – Campaigning for Libraries in Kent (CLIK). [Refers to vacancy above] “The vacancy is for someone who can ensure that the trust model goes ahead for Libraries, Registration and Archives. This, of course, rather implies that the decision has been made and soon public libraries across Kent will be handed to a trust (seemingly mirroring Suffolk’s model for library service delivery). There has not, as yet, been any public consultation regarding this potential move with Kent County Council and with little in the way of effective political opposition across the county, councillors are probably thinking that their plans will have an easy passage and before long the county’s libraries will be in the hands of a trust. What adds an interesting hint of intrigue to these plans is that the current head of public libraries in Kent, Cath Anley, is standing down from her post later this year. It’s believed that she is leaving to “explore her own business interests”. It’s unclear whether this is away from libraries or whether she might find herself involved in a trust running public libraries. Either way, the timing of the departure is interesting. Maybe it’s a case of seeing what is ahead and jumping ship. Maybe.”
  • Leicestershire – Petition bid to save village library – Loughborough Echo. “Residents gathered outside Mountsorrel Library to voice their concerns and sign two petitions against the potential closure of village libraries if volunteers are not found to run them.”
  • Lincolnshire – 12 Library Volunteers Step Down in Alford, Lincolnshire – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “When we as Alford Library Volunteers came together to support our Library and its staff to save the Library as it was, we had great expectations that we would ‘win the day’! Unfortunately since the consultation and the subsequent redundancies of professional staff, and now the Judicial Review have made us question the relevancy of our position. Yes the community have been right behind us and supported us on the extra 3 hours we opened the library, because they also hoped that the Library could be saved as it was. Stephen is quite right in saying that we were happy as a group in volunteering supported by LCC Library staff, as the responsibility is still squarely on their shoulders. As a mainly retired group of professional and semi-professional people we really didn’t want the responsibility which is to come with completely Volunteered led Community Groups. To coin a phrase ‘we’ve worked all our working lives’ and in retirement we hoped to be able to make a difference to helping in the community NOT taking full responsibility”
  • Lincolnshire – Library users concerned over disappearance of physical books despite rise in e-books in Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire Echo. “Some library users are upset that their familiar reference books are going out of fashion – despite the online versions being more up-to-date for facts and figures. Nettleham library voiced their dismay as some of their most cherished reference books were removed. Atlases, dictionaries and other reference publications were taken away the Library Support Service at Lexicon House in North Hykeham.”

“All the reference books and charts have gone. I think it is appalling. We are still funding that library, it comes out of our council tax. Nobody knows where these books are now. They have been there for many years and I really don’t believe that story. The Times Atlas has gone and that was a lovely book.”

  • Northamptonshire – Library service wins award – Daventry Express. “LibraryPlus, the name for Northamptonshire County Council’s library service, won the Best Council Services Team category in this year’s 2014 Municipal Journal awards. The service was the only public library service to be shortlisted across all categories.”
  • Walsall – Walsall Council call for community to run public services amid £85m savings move – Walsall Advertiser. “Walsall Council are calling on communities to run parks, community buildings and libraries for them – as they face having to save millions of pounds. An impassioned “call to action” has been made by the authority, who must make £85 million of savings over the next four years.”
  • Wirral – Wirral children celebrate the work of Roald Dahl – Wirral Globe. “More than 150 Wirral children took part in celebrating the work of one of Britain’s most popular authors.  Year three pupils from St George’s Primary School dressed as Oompa Loopas as they listened to some of Roald Dahl’s best-loved stories and acted our scenes from Charlie and the Chocolate factory at Wallasey Village Library.”