I was surprised to hear that after a full six months, the free online “Access to Research” resource has not yet been taken up by one in five of library services.  Why? It’s free, after all. At the time of the launch, I had reservations about the scheme but concluded that a starving man should take any crumb: well, it seems that a significant minority of libraries won’t.  On the face of it, it’s a no-brainer: it offers ten million academic articles at minimum hassle (you sign up – that’s it) and it’s free.  Mind you, it’s only be used by a pitiful 14,500 individual users in its first six months so it’s obviously not that good despite the positive spin being put to it.  14,500?  Many individual town libraries see more users than that in a month.  So, what’s going on? Well, it’s not been heavily publicised. Don’t get me wrong – it’s been given as much publicity as anything else but there’s just not enough money in public libraries for it to make an impact.  Also, it’s only available, weirdly, by physically visiting a branch rather than via a computer at home.  Some even think it’s a ploy by publishers in order to deny further access.

Other reasons for what appears to be a low take-up rate may be that it is, by the nature of the beast, not a popular tool but one for academics only.  It’s also just a pilot and, times being as they are, many authorities may be concentrating on more pressing things (like keeping the doors open) than an online academic resource.  I understand the Society of Chief Librarians will be reminding the last fifth of what they’re missing as well so that will partly make up for the low-level (because it’s a free service, there is no money) publicity behind the launch in the first place.  In addition, the Publisher’s Licensing Society (PLS), the organisation behind Access, does have some resources (posters, FAQ booklets, desktop icons, microsite etc) to further  things along.

Well, whatever the reason for the (what to me at least) appears to be low take-up so far, public libraries are going to lose the resource after two years if it is not a success.  As Joanna Waters from the PLS has told me: “A final point to note is that this is a pilot, and if after two years the service is deemed as not fulfilling its criteria by stakeholders it will be reviewed as to whether we should continue to offer the service. It would be a shame obviously, as it could be a useful way to extend access to academic materials, for free, to those who would otherwise find it difficult to get hold of them, and of course it is currently another free service to add to the library offering.”.  So, does your library service offer Access? If not, make enquiries as to why not.  It may be they simply missed it.  If they do offer it then make sure that it is being promoted.  If the library services has taken it up, promoted it but it’s not working so well, is it because the service is not good enough – and, if so, how can it be improved? Let’s tell them. Because heaven knows public libraries need all the help they can get, and it’d be a shame if we fail to take the free opportunity up with both hands.



  • Business loyalty card for library customers and community shops – Aldeburgh Library, Suffolk.


  • On With The Show – Supporting Local Arts & Culture – National Local Government Network. Libraries are seen as “essential” by 34% of respondents: far more than the other services (the next being “cultural celebrations” with 13%).  Looks at different ways of funding and running services, including libraries (Tri Borough).
  • Six months in, and 80% of UK library services sign up to Access to Research – RealWire. “Since launching earlier this year, the Access to Research initiative has grown quickly to include the majority of local authorities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means that researchers, students and members of the public across the UK can now access more than 10 million of the world’s leading online academic papers covering a wide range of disciplines, including health and biological sciences, technology, history, medicine and social sciences, just by walking through the door of their local library. So far, over 14,500 individual users have utilized the service.” See also User numbers released on Access to Research project – BookSeller.
  • TV soaps, libraries and public debate – guest post – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. “The geography of Weatherfield has been extended. It transpires that they have a local library. I admit I’ve only been watching Coronation Street since my student days in Manchester, but I don’t think the library has been mentioned very much before, or if so, only obliquely. No matter – the council want to close it down and it’s time for a campaign! This is facilitated by the recent arrival of a new character, tough-talking librarian Yasmeen Nazir … The admittedly unlikely torching of the public library following Roy and Yasmeen’s victory (they earned the right to appeal the closure) means that I’ve been deprived of a courtroom-style drama involving people quoting from the 1964 Act. But it was clearly a device to get us to the story’s mother-lode, which is that the café Roy’s Rolls is to double up as a community library ..”

“It brings the issue into popular focus, and helps to underline the value of libraries to communities for a whole range of reasons. In the course of 4 or 5 episodes we’ve had reference to the library as a safe space, a community space, a place to do homework, provider of books and information for the socially excluded, a bridge for the digital divide, a repository of social history, and memories of a lifetime of use. I do know it’s just a story, and it’s not going to change the world – but it’s there, it’s being acknowledged (and being so, acknowledges all those who are fighting for libraries), and it gives me heart.”



  • Marketing your Library service – a practical workshop with Ned Potter – 18th November in London. “Are you looking for innovative and no-cost ways of marketing your services and reaching new audiences?  This workshop is aimed at anyone who wants to know how to make better use of communications methods and social media tools to market and add value to library services.”


  • Aberdeen Network Librarians – “Register with MyJob Scotland and apply for one of three professional Network Librarian posts in Aberdeenshire.  The posts are based in Huntly, Mearns and Kemnay Academies and have responsibility for local public library services as well as school library provision.  Go to myjobscotland.com, select Aberdeenshire Council from the list of employers, and do a keyword search for library.  Closing date is 31st August 2014.” [from Lis-pub-libs]

UK news by local authority

  • Devon – ‘Don’t shelve future of popular library’ – Gazette. “The battle to safeguard the future of Bampton Library takes a step up this week with an action-packed week of activities in the town. Campaigners are aiming to demonstrate just how much extra use could be made of library facilities in the town if other community groups shared the space. The future of Bampton Library in Newton Square is under review, along with other libraries in Devon. Campaigners in the town are taking over the former Peregrine Cafe which has been mooted as a potential site for an enhanced community-based library for six days this week to showcase the potential the space could offer.” … “”campaigners were keen to hear from anyone who might be interested in volunteering to help run a community-led service if Devon County Council ceased its £10,000 a year financial support for a library service in Bampton.”
  • Enfield – Library refurb to start this month – Enfield Independent. “Enfield Borough councillors, staff and ‘Friends of the library’ will welcome contractors Borras construction to the site this week. The remodeling of the library will start on Monday, August 18. Cllr Ayfer Orhan, cabinet member for education, children’s services & protection and libraries, said: “Next autumn, Palmers Green Library will be a fantastic facility for students, children, and adults.”
  • Islington – Half libraries in Islington to shut under secret council proposal – Islington Gazette. Five libraries (West, Mildmay, South, Lewis Carroll and John Barnes) under threat. “Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance at, said: “The fact that we are being forced to have this discussion about how to make yet more savings is the consequence of the Tory-led government’s huge and ongoing cuts to our borough. “This document was put together by council managers for internal discussion and was never presented to politicians. We have not yet decided how to make the savings being forced upon us.”
    Kirklees – North Kirklees MPs say there must be a way to save library services– Mirfield Reporter. “Simon Reevell (Con, Dewsbury) blamed Kirklees Council for the threat to services, but Mike Wood (Lab, Batley and Spen) said government cuts were the root of the problem. The first option outlined 
by the council would slash libraries by 56 per cent and leave only Huddersfield and Dewsbury libraries open across the entire district. The second option, which would require a grant, could leave North Kirklees with a number of town hub libraries with reduced staff and facilities, but the council could not yet confirm where the hubs would be. Mr Reevell (Con, Dewsbury) said the situation was a result of under-performance by the council.”

“Mr Reevell said Denby Dale Library, which had been transferred to the control of a community project, was an example of residents becoming tired of Kirklees Council. But Coun Sheard said the transfer happened because the council had worked alongside parish councillors to make it possible.”

  • Kirklees – Petition launched to save libraries in Batley area – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Labour politicians have started a petition to save libraries in Batley and the Spen Valley from the axe. And they believe that children can play a key role in persuading Kirklees Council not to shut most of their libraries to save money.”
  • Kirklees – Public meeting called to create a vision to save Meltham Library services – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. ““The hope is for library services to move into the Carlile Institute, it’s the favoured situation but we need to work with Kirklees Council, draw up a business plan and for them to agree to it. “During periods of austerity it may be ambitious, but we’ll be looking at the library costs and how we can use the space and keep library staff involved. “We’re look at as a potential Community Hub, with learning space with PCs or laptops, a place to do outreach work to the community, and also potentially run courses and training for disadvantaged groups in the town.
  • Lincolnshire – “Will Councillor Martin Hill please… “ – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Martin Hill states that savings have to be made, and £2m was to be cut from the Library Budget. We have subsequently learned that Lincolnshire County Council had an underspend of £42m in the year 2013/14 and this money has not been earmarked for any purpose. Why couldn’t £2m be used to fund the county libraries?” … ” put it to you Martin Hill, that the people of Lincolnshire value their library service, and do not want to run their own libraries on a voluntary basis, as this would be unsustainable in the long term.”
  • Mayor Recommendations Liverpool City Council. 11 out of 19 libraries (Breck Road, Dovecot, Fazakerley, Kensington, Lee Valley, Old Swan, Sefton Park, Spellow, Walton, Wavertree, West Derby) to be closed/passed to community groups.
  • Peterborough – Editor’s comment: Libraries still a central part of communities – Peterborough Telegraph. “it is reassuring to hear that the recently launched consultation on libraries and community centres means that they are not under threat. … Vivacity has done a great job of improving the services they offer, the events that take place and their relevance to communities.”
  • Staffordshire – More than 1,000 people respond to library consultation – Burton Mail. Councillor says “The meetings I have attended so far have been challenging, but ultimately very positive. “People understand that ensuring a library service for the future means change is needed, and I’m pleased so many people are taking a very active interest.”
  • Suffolk – New Aldeburgh Library loyalty scheme aims to help businesses, shoppers and support the library – Suffolk Council (press release). “The Aldeburgh Library Foundation is launching a new loyalty card for everyone who signs up as a member of the Friends of Aldeburgh Library.The Aldeburgh Loyalty Card will give all holders a 10% discount off products and services in more than 40 businesses in and around Aldeburgh. There are many other different offers which will be clearly listed for anyone joining the scheme and all businesses taking part will display window stickers which say  ‘I’m proud to support the Aldeburgh Loyalty Card.’ The scheme has the enthusiastic backing of The Aldeburgh Business Association who are pleased to be able to support it. The new loyalty card will help to raise funds for the Aldeburgh Library Foundation to enable them to further support and develop services at the library. As well as enabling cardholders to access local discounts, the scheme will also hopefully help independent stores to thrive, especially during the winter months, by keeping shopping on the High Street. The card has the advantage of providing a discount in over 40 venues without the need to carry a range of different reward cards. The scheme will be trialled from 1 September 2014 to 31 March 2015. A membership subscription for the Aldeburgh Library Foundation which includes the loyalty card will cost £10 for this period. “
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Vale of Glamorgan libraries facing cuts as council struggles with budget – Wales Online. “the consultation has produced the idea of establishing “Friends Groups” at Barry, Penarth, Cowbridge and Llantwit Major. The aim is to “increase opportunities for the library service to be further embraced by the community, but also to raise funding and apply for external grants.”
  • Wiltshire – New mobile library for Wiltshire unveiled – Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. “The Euro 6 low emission 7.5 tonne will be one of a fleet of five stopping at 66 locations once a fortnight. Last year the Wilton mobile library lent 38,600 items with people using the service 16,500 times. Chris Williams, portfolio holder for libraries said “The new Wilton mobile library will help Wiltshire Council to continue to provide this vital service to our communities”.