The main news story over the last few days have been the cuts to Liverpool’s libraries.  Alan Gibbons calls it changing Liverpool from the City of Culture to the City of Philistines.  Other news includes several novel ideas, with the one that first caught my eye being Google Street View – something which has been bubbling around for a little while now. The other idea is forgetting Dewey (how dare I! The blasphemy of turning one’s back on an American from a century ago!) and modelling the bookshelves around the user not the stock.  This has been credited with a doubling of usage in the Netherlands but that will have little push with librarians elsewhere – after all, this is inertia we’re talking about.  Heck, we’d have to relabel the spines of our books.  The danger is that on this subject we’re like the grumpy librarians in this article who blame the users for messing up the stock, when the whole purpose of the stock is the user.




  • ‘Dismal’ start for Access to Research initiative – Times Higher Education. “Dr Murray-Rust said that the total number of users reported in six months indicated that just half a person per day was accessing the service in each local authority involved. “That is appalling,” he said. “It is a pretty dismal record that represents the inadequate nature of the scheme. Money in this is wasted compared with funding truly open resources.”
  • Get the old grumpy librarians out! (… for our children’s sake!) – JNP / LinkedIn. “I love libraries and support, by all means, their campaign against government and local government cuts in staffing and budgets. However, I must say how sad I was to notice that in a couple of small local libraries I recently visited the so-called librarians had nothing to do with what their job title calls them. When I visit children’s libraries with small children, I always expect the librarians to be smiling and friendly, have a good word or show some interest. After all, in a children’s library, the librarians’ almighty customers are the children themselves, aren’t they? Sadly, the librarians I met were cold, barely acknowledging the children’s presence, especially when given a very polite “Good morning!” or “Goodbye!” by the children, openly ignoring the waiting children at the reception and speaking to each other instead, ridiculously telling off small babies for putting books in the wrong section with some “Don’t do it again!” and “It takes hours to tidy the books, you know?”.”
  • Leadership Void – Leon’s Library Blog. Looks at the various bodies representing libraries and why they cannot provide the leadership that some would clamour for. “there comes a point when attacking organisations such as Cilip and the SCL becomes a waste of time and energy particularly if transformation is not possible or, more importantly, if they are not the most effective agents for the change that is needed. Perhaps it’s time to stop rebelling for the sake of it, for asking ‘whadda you got?’ Public libraries are a cause worth fighting for, what we need is an organisation that can take that fight forward.”
  • Thoughts on Janene Cox IFLA Public Libraries keynote – Information Twist. “A member of the international audience asked at the end, if the delivery of library services in England is dictated to us by the current political agenda shouldn’t library service staff be getting involved in that political discussion? Personally I think if we don’t get involved in the discussions we and the people who use our library services stand to lose a lot. This was sticking in my mind when in the final session Hans van Duijnhoven (Netherlands) said that we can’t be objective in the provision of our library services, we all have to make choices. If we don’t make those choices ourselves (as the people who understand public library services best) the choices will be made by those who don’t truly understand the purpose and value of libraries. Do we really want that to happen?


  • 10 libraries to visit with Google Street View – Ebook Friendly. “View is being used not only outside but also inside buildings. Several institutions and businesses can use the advanced tool called Google Interior Tours. Bookstores and libraries are most suitable for that. They offer the magic of being among the best of all friends: books. Being in such a place makes you want read something now, or something more.”
  • BiblioTech: a library without books – CILIP (USA). “Our library has an undeniable cost advantage over a traditional library. We can perform all the same functions of a traditional library with only 4,800 square feet of space as opposed to 14,000-15,000 square feet required of a typical branch library.  We built our library inside and out for about $2.2 million, considerably less expensive than what a traditional library would cost (probably about a 1/3 of the cost). It is entirely scalable and can find a home through a variety of iterations.” [Notable how well funded US libraries are: they assume “outreach” is something that every branch can afford – Ed.]
  • EIFL Public LibraryInnovation Award 7 – EIFL (USA). “Are you offering an innovative service that uses information and communication technology (ICT) to contribute to adult and children’s education? Tell us your story and enter a competition to win US$1,500!”
  • Flash libraries popping up in your neighbourhood – Mentor Public Library (USA). “If you’re not familiar with a Flash Library, they’re similar to Bookmobiles. We come to your neck of the woods with popular movies and books. If you have a library card you can check them out—same as if you were in a brick-and-mortar library. And if you don’t have a library card, well you can get one of those too. (And you really should have a library card.)”

“In addition to all the great couches and natural light, the library underwent a truly revolutionary change: it reorganized its materials by subject of interest, mixing up fiction and non-fiction. It’s hard to imagine the resistance that leaders came up against — change is hard in any organization, but implementing this sort of fundamental shift in how libraries should be organized seems daunting. Indeed, the library managers did say that there was some skepticism about the changes. Or at least there was until the new library (or New Library) started posting record attendance. In 2013, more than one million people had visited the library, which is pretty impressive for a town of fewer than 200,000 people. They achieved this stunning success largely because they asked people not only what they want in a library, but how they use it. Turns out that the library folks were surprised to discover that most of their patrons don’t have a specific title in mind when they set out for their local branch — they want to browse. It follows, then, that the public library should be organized to enhance that browsing experience, not get in the way of it.” Innovative Dutch library more than just addition of a café – Ottawa Citizen (Netherlands).

  • Geek is the new cool – MV Times (USA). “The word geek as a verb is so new that you will find only scant reference to it in the online Urban Dictionary. The geek folks at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who began this nationwide tribute — look it up on geekthelibrary.org — define geek this way: “To love, to celebrate, to have an intense passion for.” Over the course of a couple of weeks in June, Oak Bluffs library patrons, strolling indoors to browse the new release books or to see if the fourth season of “Modern Family” had come in, found themselves braced by librarian Anna-Marie D’Addarie, program director Miki Woolf, and librarian-in-chief Sondra Murphy to take part in an upcoming gallery of geekers. Willing subjects were asked to show up on a certain date at a specific time to be photographed, and to decide what person, place or thing they wished to geek (after the brand-new verb had been explained to them.)”
  • Google Street View is a great way to promote libraries and bookstores – Ebook Friendly. “Bookstores and libraries are most suitable for that. They offer the magic of being among the best of all friends: books. Being in such a place makes you want read something now, or something more … Once the tour is offered by an institution, it is automatically added to its Google+ page.”
  • In Tehran, a Taxi’s Metamorphosis Is Kafkaesque – Wall Street Journal (Iran). “the quirky brainchild of Mr. Yazdany and Ms. Heraner: a mobile reading room and taxi service, complete with chauffeur-librarian.”
  • Public libraries are shoving books aside to create community-centered coworking spaces – Impact Lab (USA). “Over the past decade, dozens of reading rooms have been reincarnated as de facto coworking spaces. Some, including D.C.’s Digital Commons and Scottsdale, Arizona’s Eureka Loft, cater expressly to startups by helping them find funding, mentors, and other resources to advance their business plans. Others take a laissez-faire approach geared more toward solo artists seeking a no-frills space. Altogether, more than half of all public libraries now offer workspaces for mobile workers, according to a new study from the Information Policy & Access Center. For the growing ranks of freelancers whose alternatives range from a cramped corner of their bedroom to a $500-a-month, private coworking space, the new library work zones are a boon. Decked out with fast Internet, 3-D printers, meeting rooms, whiteboards, and plenty of space to spread out, they’re much better suited to getting work done than jostling for counter space at a noisy coffee shop.
  • The woman who went to the library and read every book on the shelf – Guardian (USA). “I wanted to make people aware of libraries as an ecosystem that are threatened in the same way as coral reefs. There’s a kind of serendipity that occurs in a library that never happens online. Browsing a stack is a unique experience: that feeling of being attracted by a book, by its cover or typography. What makes me melancholy is the thought of books disappearing from libraries”

UK local news by authority

“A grandmother who does not feel she can take her 3 year old grand daughter in the library anymore, an older gentleman complaining about the lack of space to read in peace, a young man looking everywhere for the reference section and a disabled lady furious about not having been consulted. Oh! and the swipe machines and photo-copier were out of order too. What a mess.” Reinstate Bury Central Library

  • Cumbria – Book-loving gran persuades council to bring mobile library back after 10 years – Westmorland Gazette. “So it was a momentous day when it was announced that Cumbria County Council was bringing the mobile library back to Watchgate after 10 years – returning every month despite the climate of cutbacks. And it is a major victory for the doggedness of keen reader and widow Wendy Chandler, 74, who does not drive, has not got a computer, rarely bothers with TV and is virtually housebound.”
  • Derby – Consultants costing £400,000 ‘reluctantly’ hired by Derby City Council to help save millions – Derby Telegraph. “”Five projects will look at where changes can be made in the departments of pupils with special educational needs, fostering and adoption, nursing and residential care placements, environmental services and libraries.”
  • Ealing – Art group lights up Ealing Library – Ealing Times. “Paintings from the latest 4020 Art Group exhibition are lighting up Ealing Central Library. As part of the Ealing Autumn Festival, the group used oils and acrylic to paint their interpretation of this year’s theme, Stars in the Family.”
  • Hampshire – Boss defends plan to move town library – News. “Plans are out for consultation to move Emsworth library from St Peter’s Square into the community centre in Church Path. Councillor Keith Chapman wrote to The News to reassure readers that no decision has yet been made. He said the consultation was open until October 18 and said it was ‘important that we hear from as many people as possible to help me make an informed decision which benefits the whole community’.”
  • Islington – Confusion surrounds leaked Islington Council document proposing a swathe of dramatic cuts – Islington Gazette. “The confidential report – called Future Shape to 2018 – was written by the town hall’s most senior directors and included a host of dramatic ways to save cash in the face of further central government cuts”.  Report not official and decisions not yet made.
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Council plans to hand over management of the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill to local residents – Brixton Buzz. “This move has come about after the Lambeth Libraries Commission [pdf] recommended in 2011 that buildings across Lambeth be designated as community hubs as part of the Co-operative Council. It will be interesting to see if this experiment with community management leads to a similar move at Brixton Library in Brixton Oval. The Friends of Carnegie Library is supporting the move towards a community hub in Herne Hill.”
  • Liverpool – Liverpool Council to publicly consult on cabinet-approved library closure plans – Liverpool Echo. “The decision was given the green light at this morning’s cabinet meeting but there will be four weeks of public consultation and a special select committee hearing to examine the issue. The libraries at risk are: Breck Road, Dovecot, Fazakerley, Kensington, Lee Valley, Old Swan, Sefton Park, Spellow, Walton, Wavertree and West Derby.” … “The leader suggested some libraries could be saved by partnering up with other organisations, and said Manchester Council had retained nine under-threat facilities by working with volunteer and community groups.” … “Martin Ralph, of Old Swan Against The Cuts, who described the proposals as “severely flawed”, argued that people on low incomes would struggle to access libraries, particularly Central Library.”
  • Liverpool – Liverpool City Council to go ahead with eleven library closures – Good Reads. “A number of us lobbied the cabinet members and handed in a 10,000 signature petition protesting against the closure plans. Five of us, Ruth Knox, Martin Ralph, Ritchie Hunter and former Mayoral candidate Tony Mulhearn spoke against the plans. The meeting had a strange atmosphere. Mayor Anderson replied to each one of us with the same mantra that there is nothing to be done, resistance is futile, all the council can do is manage the cuts instigated by central government. As opponents of the proposals argued, this is a counsel of despair from a council of despair. Indeed, in a recent Radio Merseyside feature in which Mayor Anderson and I participated, he argued not only that there was no alternative to cuts now, but that the situation would continue even if there was a Labour government.”

“Commenting on the situation, I said: “We used to be City of Culture. We don’t want to be known as City of Philistines.” Alan Gibbons

  • Liverpool – Liverpool library closures – behind the spin – Winter of Malcontent. “When the Mayor of a city is saying that he and his council cannot, and will not, do anything about the cuts that have been handed down by central government, then you should ask the question – ‘What is the point of local elected officials’? Why pay them huge salaries to administer local government?” … “The library closures are interesting for several reasons. Firstly, if you have an estate of 21 libraries, why would you spend £50,000,000 renovating one – albeit the biggest and most visited – whilst leaving nothing in the pot to be able to keep the others open? Surely that doesn’t make any financial sense whatsoever?”
  • Liverpool – Liverpool moves closer to library closures – BookSeller. “The closure plans were given the green light at a cabinet meeting this morning (15th August), and will now go forward to a four week public consultation. Opposition councillors have already called in the decision for scrunity by the council’s cultural select committee.” see also Closing the libraries – Sense of Place. “Unless these efforts can be successful, as things stand there will be no public libraries in the North of Liverpool between Central Library and Norris Green” … “Here in Liverpool the people have voted in a Council that is almost entirely Labour and I’m sure they will say that they and their officers are doing their best to preserve anything municipal at all out of the miserably unfair hand they’ve been given . So this proposal, or something very like it, will almost definitely go through”.
  • Liverpool – North end libraries could be saved – Liverpool Confidential. “Liverpool City Council’s cabinet today backed proposals that could pave the way for the closure of 11 of the city’s 18 libraries – though the final chapter has yet to be written. Mayor Joe Anderson expressed concern over proposals that would see every library in North Liverpool axed. Liverpool Confidential was the first to point out large areas of Kirkdale and Everton – included in the UK’s most socially deprived areas – would become a literary desert if the proposals went ahead.”
  • Peterborough – Reviewing Peterborough’s libraries and community centres – Peterborough City Council. “The way we use the library service is changing.  Technology means we’re doing a lot more things for ourselves.  90% of book loans are now done through self-service kiosks.  Library staff now spend much more time supporting people to use computers, or supporting groups meeting in libraries, than they do dealing with ‘traditional’ library enquiries. The challenge we face is how to provide an excellent, modern library service, with shrinking resources.”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Rhydyfelin Library has 100 new borrowers since it was saved from the axe – Wales Online. “Rhydyfelin Library Support Group says the library is flourishing since its doors reopened once again on Monday, June 16, after Rhondda Cynon Taf council leader Andrew Morgan decided to implement a U-turn on its agreed closure. The Pontypridd building was shut on Saturday, May 31 – but only after campaigners refused to leave and staged a peaceful four-hour protest, chaining themselves to bookshelves until police arrived.”
  • Sheffield – Wait continues for Walkley library decision – Star. “a decision has still not been made on the future of Walkley library – where two business plans were submitted, one from a community group and another from The Forum group of bars and restaurants.”
  • Staffordshire – Families fear Audley library will close under Staffordshire County Council ‘re-shape’ plans – Stoke Sentinel. “Families in Audley are angry about Staffordshire County Council’s plans to offload the Hall Street facility to a community group to save £36,000 a year. Library users claim the proposal may lead to its closure and are appealing to the authority to re-think the plans.” … “If there are no volunteer groups in Audley willing to take over the library service, The council will not continue to run it and we will lose it, so unless the parish council or someone else can take this on it will wither on the vine and die.”
  • Staffordshire – Volunteers want to take on closure-threatened Loggerheads Library – Stoke Sentinel. “”One of my concerns is the cost of renting the building which we would have to undertake ourselves but we are determined to give it a try.” The authority wants to offload 24 libraries to community groups and change opening hours as part of plans to save £1.3 million. Figures show the Loggerheads library had 12,200 visits between April 2012 and April 2013.”
  • Worcestershire – Community group takes over village library – Evesham Observer. “In Broadway, instead of the library being managed by the county council – the library will be managed by a newly formed Community Interest Group called Broadway Community Library Ltd who are seeking charity status. The group, made up of a group of residents keen to save the library’s future, will be responsible for the financial state of the service. The services in the library will still be run by the county council.”