Another couple of thoughts from the revelation of a book found in a public library that had not been out since 1997 is the change in stock management brought about by the introduction of self-service machines.  Back in the old days, weeding shelves were a simple matter for the librarian – one simply sat down and opened every book in turn, counting the number and frequency of date stamps on the date label. There were a load of other factors of course but the key one of how much the book was used was really easy to work out.  However, self-service changes that because, quite simply, there’s no date stamps any more.  The alternative is instead to use printouts based on whatever criteria one wishes (e.g. books that have not been out in six months in the thrillers).  This sounds simple but there’s two problems: the first is that it is surprisingly time consuming looking individually for every book and the second is that these printouts use proprietary technology that the library management system companies charge a hefty sum for.  So, if one does not pay or cannot afford to pay, one may have to use other ways (the state of the book, local knowledge, the Force) to weed instead.  Not ideal.

Another related matter to this is from a letter listed in this post about issuing films in a self-service library.  Now, ideally, the whole process should be done by the public (hence the term “self-service”) but in reality in many areas, this is not (literally) the case … and the reason is, simply, box security is not sufficient.  It’s easy to vandalise a DVD or game case and steal the item from it.  So, libraries have to go back to putting high value titles in locked drawers again, meaning that the member of the public has to both go to the machine and a member of staff. Oh dear, that’ll make the process twice as long then.  If they’re really unlucky, some self-service machines will then (completely unnecessarily in my view and that several authorities I know about it) demand their library card number and PIN number when they return it. This is not to say that I am against self-service: I’m not and I think that, realistically, there’s going to be a whole lot more of it as budgets decline. But we should not pretend that it does not come with its own problems because if we ignore them, they simply will not go away. After all, when technology makes things worse, it’s probably because we’re doing it wrong and the first step to correcting it is to admit there’s a problem in the first place.

For more on self service, see this page.

Please send any comments or news to me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk or via the comments option.  Thank you for reading.



  • Fun runs to raise funds for libraries.
  • STEAM events same as STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) but also includes Arts.

UK National

  • 3 things I always ask myself about a new or refurbished library space – CILIP. “Whenever I visit a new or refurbished library I am inevitably asked what I think about it” … ” buildings should not just shelter us but that they should also speak to us” … “In the Saltire Centre we used such cues to make it clear which spaces were for engaging in active group work and which were for solitary quiet study for example.” … “Libraries have an increasingly important role to play as part of the national learning infrastructure. So, secondly, I think about how a space performs as a place of learning.” … “how does it respond to the hope, needs and aspirations of the communities it serves? For although there is a consensus on current trends in aspects of design and configuration, what really matters is how a space interprets these trends in the context of its locality.”

“Primary Research Group Inc. (www.PrimaryResearch.com) publisher of research reports and studies about libraries and higher education, is surveying public  libraries about how they are using computer programming skills to enhance library services and improve library productivity. Survey participants receive a free copy of the report based on the survey results.  Institutional names of participants are listed but responses are aggregated or otherwise not identified by participant. To take the survey follow the link” Lis-Pub-Libs

  • Bursary place at Internet Librarian International for new professional – CILIP. “Entries for the CILIP Aspire Award open on the 9 June. In 2014 the award will provide a bursary for a new professional to attend the Internet Librarian International Conference, held in London on the 21 and 22 October. The bursary will pay for the conference fee, travel from within the UK and accommodation. The award is in memory of Bob McKee who was Chief Executive of CILIP. Internet Librarian International is an innovation and technology conference for information and library professionals. The 2014 theme is positive change: creating real impact. In 2013 there were more than 60 ‘how to’ presentations, case studies and workshops over two days. Internet Librarian attracts delegates from all around in the world.”

You could hear Robert Galbraith (the crime-writing alter ego of J.K.Rowling) talking to Val McDermid about her latest crime novel The Silkworm at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Harrogate on 18 July. National charity The Reading Agency and publishers Little, Brown have teamed up with the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival to give away a pair of tickets to this exclusive event, as well as a night’s stay at the four star Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, courtesy of the festival organisers. To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, all fiction fan need to do is come up with a cryptic crossword clue to the title of their favourite crime novel. They should submit their clue; the full title of the book it relates to, and the book’s author, by 22 June, to: www.surveymonkey.com/s/LM8JZVG The best clue, as judged by The Reading Agency, will win the prize. Reading Agency press release

  • Carol Lovejoy: Do libraries have to be quite so noisy? – Nottingham Post. “In one particular library I was disturbed by several library staff talking in loud voices about an absent colleague. Noisy and unprofessional. In another library children run around playing hide and seek with no restraint, despite the best efforts of the library staff. I have even seen people eating their lunch in some libraries. Nottinghamshire County Council has done a fantastic job of keeping all our libraries open and available to all. My only gripe is that they are too noisy, for me. I don’t want to stop any of the events that now go on in libraries, I think they are great. But is there a quiet room somewhere for me, please?”
  • Support for statutory school libraries grows – BookSeller. “Authors, librarians and trade bodies have spoken out in support of the campaign to make school libraries statutory, after a recent open letter from the Society of Authors (SoA) urging Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman to back the change. The SoA letter, from chief executive Nicola Solomon, was said to have been “well received” by politicians. Unlike public and prison libraries, there is no legal requirement for schools to provide any sort of library facility, a situation branded “crazy” by Barbara Band, president of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).”.
  • UK Copyright changes in force – Business Cloud. “The claim from the UK Government is that these changes will generate £250m for the UK economy over the next 10 years. With the press release claiming that the new regulations will save libraries, archives and museums around £26m per year or £260m over the same period, it is questionable as to where, beyond these savings, the financial benefits are to be found.”


  • Beyond the Maker Space – Library Journal (USA). “Maker culture not only builds a dynamic learning environment and helps to grow community through the library but also allows for unique production of local information. This info wouldn’t exist otherwise and helps encourage others to innovate, as well as informally instructs them in how they might do so. Information doesn’t just travel in one direction as it has so often in the past. It now has much greater potential for multidirectional flow. Seen in this light, it is clear that Maker spaces fit into the core mission of the library, as long as we embrace flows of information that are contained and carried in vehicles other than books.”

“Taking the concepts further and examining how information flow is best facilitated, you could imagine a performing arts library with soundproof practice booths and networked practice tutorials, plus instruments for check out during practice sessions or even to take home. You could envision several recording studios for the making of music and video projects. You could imagine practice rooms for bands, small dance groups, theater, and more. You could see a theater that allowed artists in your community access to performance space just as so many people in our communities currently use our meeting spaces. You can dream up rows and rows of CDs and LPs with an incredible selection of popular and important artists of today and yesterday. You could see patrons chatting over the new Animal Collective album and others lounging around on couches strumming guitars or jamming on banjos. The whole library would have nothing but performing arts materials, and everyone there would be interested in the performing arts.”

  • Libraries built in public spaces draw curious readers – New York Daily News.
  • Market Cities: Barcelona Offers a Hopeful Glimpse of the Future – Project for Public Spaces (Spain). “Barcelona residents rank their public markets as the second most valuable public service after libraries”
  • Metro Manila’s 10 best public libraries – The Poc (Phillipines). “All over the world, public libraries have become permanent structures in almost every city. Sadly, in the Philippines – even in Manila – these gems-of-a-places have become underrated except maybe for college students making their theses and dissertations. Kindles, Kobos and other E-readers are also becoming increasingly popular. But as every true blue bookworm would claim, there’s nothing like caressing the hardbound cover of a book, taking in its scent and opening its first few pages.”
  • Reinventing libraries for ‘hanging out, messing around and geeking out’ – CNN (USA). “Instead of silence, laughter and chatter fills the room. Colorful bookshelves line the wall, holding graphic novels, manga comics and self-help books on bullying and applying to college. Teens sit in circles talking, reading and doing homework. Others play video games on their phones or on gaming consoles attached to televisions. The staff takes special pride in its mentor-led activities, offered in partnerships with various community organizations: a spoken word workshop, a video game program and a makerspace, or workshop, where teens create birdcages, duct tape wallets and other art projects.”
  • Robots Invading Public Libraries – Magic Valley (USA). “The “Make It at the Library” project is designed to create makerspaces in libraries throughout the Gem State that offer creative, STEAM-based programming for tweens and teens that encourage the use of new technologies and tools. STEAM education is similar to STEM learning but also recognizes the importance of the arts.”
    UK local news by authority
  • Bristol – Reader’s letter: Taking out DVDs from Bristol Central Library now takes much longer – Bristol Post. “The whole process of borrowing a DVD now takes much longer, as first you have to queue to use the machine, then queue again at the enquiry desk then wait while a librarian retrieves the DVD. I enquired as to why the DVDs are no longer in the boxes, and the answer, which is quite obvious if you think about it, is that the boxes were being forced open and the DVDs stolen. No wonder libraries face cuts when they seem to have managers that are unable to predict such happenings and waste money on useless technology”
  • Lancashire – Library opening hours under review – Virtual Lancaster. “The consultation is now under way and will run for eight weeks, and involves 63 of the 74 libraries across the county. Around 18 months ago opening hours were increased or adjusted in most of the county’s libraries following a public consultation and as as part of that process, library managers promised to look at the issue again this year to see whether further changes are needed.” … “The proposals would not significantly alter the overall number of library opening hours, and, it’s argued,any changes would have little or no impact on the cost of running the library service … In the case of Lancaster and Morecambe, if the changes are given a green light, it would mean an end to evening opening hours on Tuesday and Thursdays, but extended daytime opening hours.
  • Leicestershire – 2,500 people take part in Leicestershire libraries consultation – ITV.
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire libraries campaigners set up fund for judicial review fees – Lincolnite. “While Simon Draper is eligible for full legal aid, there is an expectation by the Legal Aid Agency that some funds are raised as contribution to the costs of running the case. This is why the campaign has set up a legal fund to cover up to £7,500 in contributions.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire councillor Stephen Palmer to donate allowance increase to library campaign fund – Lincolnshire Echo. “Councillor Stephen Palmer, who decided to take the allowance despite being one of 20 who voted against the planned rise, will hand out his May increase to the Save Lincs Libraries fund. After Tax and National Insurance, Mr. Palmer receives an extra £110 a month and he has pledged to carry on supporting the group for long as they need the cash”.  Councillor says “I agreed with most of the review findings but because of the impending redundancies of library staff, I felt it inappropriate and ill timed. So, I voted ‘no’.”

Volunteering has been our Achilles heel. Our volunteer board is exhausted – the responsibility and physical demands of delivery, combined with pressure for transparency and inclusion have taken their toll. Additionally, initiatives that we hoped would be run by additional volunteers have met with patchy support and have necessitated much more management than we anticipated. Our fall back position has been employed management resource.” From Lincolnshire – Market Rasen Guide and also reported on in Volunteer limitations – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. [Please note that this is not to do with public libraries but is used as an example of what is feared will be the case by the Lincolnshire campaigners – Ed.]

  • Sheffield – New leader of Sheffield opposition is revealed – Star. “The [Liberal Democratic] party will continue to campaign on the controversial issue of closing libraries and will also focus on this week’s announcement that 100 fewer miles of Sheffield roads could be gritted before snow to save £100,000 a year.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Councillor defends Dinas Powys library service – Penarth Times. “He wished to express the community council’s appreciation of the service provided by the library and its professional staff, as the Vale Council seeks to cut £500,000 from the library budget across the county. ” … “I was very pleased to be welcomed by staff who explained the range of services that are available at the library, from books and DVDs to computer facilities to newspapers. There are other options that staff have made regarding income generation which the Vale Council really should take seriously.”