The minister in charge of libraries Ed Vaizey spoke to the Society of Chief Librarians today as well as other 120 other Great and Good.  This was for a seminar called “Reimagining the Public Library”. At the moment one can only go on tweets from the meeting but they are tantalising:

  • being asked if like the rest of the UK, England should have library standards? Ed responds ‘never say never’.
  • Ed says he wouldn’t replace Pub Lib Act, but statutory duty must remain.
  • I find it utterly bizarre to walk into a library today & not find wireless Ed Vaizey MP, Minister for Culture, Communications
  • I would like to see more library authorities working together
  • My dream is still to have a libraries development agency.
  • “Openings and refurbs don’t get the headlines.” () Let’s change that!

“Will there be funding to action Seighart recs? Yes.

All of this looks very interesting.  Certainly an updated People’s Network is long long overdue, as is a libraries development agency.  Some of the ideas being reported on have been featured in Public Libraries News for months or years because they’re working well abroad (with special props to the USA in this regard) and it is great to see them having an airing here.  On the other hand, the suspicion on Twitter amongst those who noticed the event going on but were not invited to it was that election year is coming and the Government needs to be at least promising something on a subject that may well gain or lose votes.  In this vein, my colleagues at Voices for the Library have put together a post that is worth reading even if bitter experience makes it naturally more suspicious than welcoming.

Regardless of views, one can say well done to SCL for organising the event and getting the minister involved and so many people, clearly decision-makers, together to look at the future.  On the other hand, I (albeit from the biased position of one keen to report news) would have liked some more publicity and information about what was going on.  The technology now exists for there to be live streams of the event but there does not appear to have been any and, indeed, at time of writing  the home page of the SCL website makes no mention of the event  at all other than in its twitter feed.

On a finishing but unrelated note that would doubtless annoy Ed Vaizey immensely, I was phoned up by Radio Four to fact check some things for their “Point of View” segment going out on their network tonight (if you’re reading this on Friday).  So I know that the writer A L Kennedy will be talking about cuts to libraries and the importance of books at 8.50pm..



  • Council property ‘could be better used’, says Audit Commission – Public Finance. “The Audit Commission has urged councils to ensure they implement a strategic approach to asset and property management after finding £2.5bn of the local government estate could be put to better use … Under International Financial Reporting Standards, local authorities are required to account separately for property assets deemed surplus, the commission said. Although these assets are treated as operational in the accounts, they are not used to provide services, such as schools, libraries, social care day centres, and housing, the report stated”
  • Education by stealth – BookSeller. “As a reminder of the power of books and literacy to change lives, the Islington Reads strategy takes some beating. Published by Islington Library and Heritage Services in 2012, it provides a blueprint for promoting both the contribution that reading makes to educational achievement and the value of reading for pleasure – all focussed on one of London’s most diversely-populated boroughs, where divisions behind rich and poor are less of a gap and more of a chasm. The document is particularly compelling on the role of libraries, encouraging their transformation into ‘vibrant community hubs for reading, learning and volunteering’ able to host everything from author events and reading groups to baby bounce sessions and festivals.”

“In the music business, where I worked for more than a decade, the buzz word of the moment is “retention”. You see it associated with so-called “freemium” subscription services like Spotify, that tempt new users with the offer of free music before enticing them towards paid membership. Maybe we should consider libraries in a similar way. The biggest effort comes with engagement, and communicating to disaffected young people what these buildings have to offer. That’s the difficult bit. Once you’ve got them inside (and a library card in their pocket) then a new relationship with books is often set for life.”

  • How green is my ebook? – CILIP. “Ebook sales have risen from 10 million in 2008, to 457 million in 2012, and despite slower growth in 2013, account for 20 per cent of all book sales” … “Enroth found web-based ebooks to be 10-30 times more Co2 polluting than a printed textbook.[15] In 2010, Goleman and Norris reported in the New York Times that the fossil fuels, water and minerals used to produce an e-reader equalled roughly 40-50 printed books, and its impact on global warming equalled 100 books.” … “In the meantime, perhaps it’s a little early to dismiss the NY Times assertion that the ‘most ecologically virtuous way to read a book is to start by walking to your local library’ to borrow a copy.”
  • Society of Chief Librarians Re-Imagining Libraries Seminar – Voices for the Library. “Today The Society of Chief Librarians held the first day of a two day seminar entitled “Re-imagining the public library offer”. Without any information on the UK SCL site about the event, we imagine it is focused on the recent introduction of the key offers supported by SCL. The keynote address was given by Ed Vaizey, and thanks to the tweeting of a number of attendees we were able to follow the key points from it.”


  • EU public library stakeholders met in Brussels – Public Libraries 2020 (EU). “Representatives of European public libraries associated organisations, senior staff members of the Reading and Writting Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation met in Brussels to share experiences and inspire each other to joint action.
  • Extremists Burnt My Books – BBC World Service (Lebanon). “Father Ibrahim Sarrouj, the Greek Orthodox priest whose bookshop in Lebanon was attacked by extremists, describes how the community has rallied round to help him.”
  • What People Are 3-D Printing At The Johnson County Public Library – KCPM (USA). “Incorporating “maker spaces” and 3-D printers into the services offered at public libraries is part of a larger push to transform libraries into a space for creation and invention. American Library Association president Barbara Stripling says this kind of technology is a growing trend at libraries.” … “Here are some of the things Maker Space librarian Meredith Nelson has seen come out of the 3-D printer: Prosthetic hands for those with physical disabilities, like teen Mason Wilde who printed a hand for a nine year-old boy. A new device for flossing teeth and other prototypes for new inventions, which Nelson says are kept top-secret by their creators. Customized robot toys and Lego attachments.  A 3-D cone used to teach pre-calculus students about conic sections. A series of original busts designed by a  local artist. A 3-D model of the Hepatitis B molecule used for a high school science fair.”
  • Public Libraries and First Responders: Partners in Emergency Response Youtube (USA). “The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region works with public libraries and first responders to ensure that emergency information needs are available. Public libraries are a vital part of the community and can plan an important for during an emergency or disaster. First responders and public library partnerships are an important partnership each community should consider.”
  • Smart work centers debut in Singapore public libraries – Enterprise Innovation (Singapore). “With these centers located in residential hubs and conveniently accessible via public transport, their users can work closer to home.  At the same time, they can enjoy easy access to the library’s collection of books, information resources, audio-visual materials and programs including those organized by the centers, to enhance their working and learning experience. The Regus Express Centers offer a professional work environment designed to cater to different modes of work and are equipped with typical office facilities. There will be private workstations, meeting spaces as well as facilities such as secure Wi-Fi, printing, copying and videoconferencing services.”
    Would consolidation reduce library administrative costs? – Daily Herald (USA). “A Daily Herald analysis of 55 suburban library districts shows salaries for library directors range from as high as $159,537 at Elgin’s Gail Borden Library to $24,500 in Kaneville. The average salary among the 55 municipal libraries and library districts was more than $105,000 a year for the top administrative post, the analysis showed.” … “Because those resource-sharing initiatives allow library users from one town to have the same privileges in a neighboring town’s library and suburban library systems have well-established consortiums for purchasing power, the framework is in place to make that transition, they say. Consolidation could eliminate some of the higher-paying administrative posts and reduce costs since personnel make up the majority of all library expenses, some believe.”

UK local news by authority

  • Devon – Libraries still have a big role in 21st century society, says MP Nick Harvey in the Journal’s From Our MP column – North Devon Journal. “It is reassuring that Devon County Council’s Impact Assessment does not recommend actual closures – though I am very disappointed by the caveat “at this stage” … “While I laud the new model of “Devon centres” as forward thinking, my key concern is that this process must not be to the detriment of small rural libraries such as those we have in North Devon.” … “While a new generation are growing up with mobile phones, tablets and laptops giving them instant access to information, libraries still have a place in the 21st century. Many people, myself included, continue to view them as the bedrock of a local community along with the village shop/post office and pub.”
  • Devon – ‘Vital first win’ for Braunton Library – North Devon Gazette 24. “County councillors agrees [sic] to reclassify Braunton into the ‘Devon centre’ category for the ongoing library consultation – but warns there is no guarantee that will save it from cuts. “.  Campaigners say ““This is a great announcement but doesn’t yet mean the library is secure or safe from cuts. We now need to put our full attention to finding a sustainable future for Braunton’s Devon centre library,” he said.”
  • Doncaster – Enterprise Zone will create thousands of jobs in Doncaster – Star. ” Member of the public Doug Wright addressed the cabinet raising concerns about the possible closure of Cantley Library. Coun Joe Blackham said that a period of public consultation was currently taking place and no decision would be made until that had been completed. He added: “We’ve got a clear marker that we don’t want to see libraries closed. Thankfully at the moment we have an abundance of volunteers to run them.”
  • Kirklees – Watch: Denby Dale Library vision a step closer after agreement signing – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “It’s official – Denby Dale’s vision for a new library is a step closer. On Monday the Denby Dale Community Project entered an official partnership with Kirklees Council and yesterday they signed a memorandum of understanding with Kirklees’ library services. It’s intended to state how the Project will offer a library service to the wider community and with the legal process now complete, efforts are going into fundraising and drumming up more support.” … “We hope to be able to start work at the end of this year or early next year. At the moment we have 45 applications for grants in and we hope to get a boost from those … In April Kirklees Cabinet agreed the asset transfer of the current library and land to the Project and gave them £100,000 towards the overall cost.”
  • Leicestershire – Library change plans get a huge response – Burton Mail. “More than 2,500 people have had their say on Leicestershire County Council’s proposals for communities to run up to 36 libraries. More than 500 people have attended public meetings and more than 500 people have taken part in drop-in sessions with library managers to discuss the changes which could see libraries across the area close to help cut costs.”
  • Lincolnshire – Karl McCartney MP Discusses Save Lincolnshire Libraries – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. Copy of the letter sent 17th April.
  • Southend – Superhero theme will mark this year’s Bookstart week at Southend libraries – Southend Standard. “There will be lots of fun with free Storyrhyme sessions. Children attending can dress as their favourite heroes which could be a parent, a teacher or a superhero – the choice is theirs. Come and celebrate with rhymes and stories with a Superhero theme …”
  • Telford and Wrekin – Telford and Wrekin Libraries’ pioneering work for people with dementia and their carers – Reading Agency. “The Library Service Development Officer has undertaken the Alzheimer’s Society’s Champions in Dementia training and has, in turn, delivered dementia training to library staff. All volunteers involved with the authority’s home library service are also offered dementia training. The new officer has been forging links with carers and building supporting services for them, including library tours and coffee mornings, as well as a possible creative writing project for local carers of people with dementia.” … “Funding has recently been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a community history and reminiscence project called Telford Our New Town: A Digital Archive. Working alongside the Library Service Development Officer, volunteers will collect memories of Telford from the 1960s to the 1980s from people participating in Shared Reading groups. These will be uploaded to a digital table in the new Southwater One Library. Contributors will be invited to view the archive and share their memories.”