Last week I was mostly in Scotland doing geocaching – including a nice one in the grounds of the Dick Institute library in Kilmarnock by the way – so you’re getting a whole week’s news in one (well, not quite all – there’ll be more catch-up at the next post). There’s the usual depressing news from England (sorry, don’t blame me, blame the Austerity) but also some interesting news from other places, including from a very successful Dutch library that shows doing things differently (and having some investment) can make a huge difference. By the way, do please nominate your favourite library for the “1001 libraries to see before you die” project at IFLA.  My favourite has to be Liverpool Central Library for the reasons I explore here, what’s yours?




  • CILIP debates – CILIP. 27 September, Wakefield, York Sculpture Park, hosted by CILIP Public and Mobile Libraries Group (PMLG). Topic to be debated: This House believes Local authorities are still the best way to deliver the public library service”. Combined PMLG AGM and CILIP Debate. Yorkshire Sculpture Park is the 2014 Museum of The Year, housing what is probably this country’s finest sculpture collection in the stunningly beautiful surroundings of the Bretton Hall Estate. Delegates registering on arrival at reception are exempt from parking charges – which makes this a great way to combine the AGM and debate with a ‘free’ visit to the Park.”
  • Community volunteers should receive council tax discount – or should they? – Guardian. “The association, which represents councils in England and Wales, has said that council tax discounts should be given to “community heroes” – those volunteering to help run service such as local libraries, museums and leisure centres.”
  • Mutually assured benefits: Francis Maude’s public sector revolution – Spectator. “Productivity is among Maude’s foremost concerns. Public sector productivity, according to the ONS, flattened between 1997 and 2010 — a result of stultifying management and low morale. The Cabinet Office says that after a mutual is spun out, absenteeism and staff turnover fall by 20 per cent 16 per cent on average, and the improvements in Bromley are an indication of what can be achieved when the state entrusts public services to the people who run them.”
  • Philip Ardagh named Booktrust’s new Writer in Residence – Guardian. “Philip Ardagh, the children’s books world’s champion of libraries, diversity and big, big beards, has been named Booktrust’s new Writer in Residence.”
  • Public libraries are sexy – Digital Watches Are Pretty Neat. “remind them about what public libraries are really all about – emancipation, equality of opportunity for all, learning for the love of it, stumbling upon that thing you really love to do, the career you’d like to have or that amazing business idea. Including everyone in society – from homeless people to the comfortably off – a social setting where everyone is welcome. The ideals of open access and active participation in society run through libraries’ DNA – and guess what? They run through the DNA of many of the tech start ups that are sprouting up all over the country. These people love you but they don’t know it yet. They want you but they just haven’t realised it. You’re that thing they’ve been looking for but didn’t know was out there. If you make it your job to go and find them and let them realise how much they love you you’ll be surprised at the results.”
  • Speaking volumes about the worth and work of public libraries – CILIP. Jenny Peachey from Carnegie UK Trust on the economic, social, cultural and educational value of public libraries and thoughts on how to use the “Speaking Volumes” resource.

1964 Public Libraries Museum Act anniversary

  • 1964 An Act of Omission – Voices for the Library. By Bob Usherwood, Emeritus Professor, The University of Sheffield. “Today we are enduring the municipal nightmare conjured up by Thatcher’s local government minister, the late Nicholas Ridley, who fantasised about American local authorities that met annually to finalise contracts with private companies providing services. The aims and values of public libraries have been redefined by the DCMS and the Arts Council so that numerous local councils are not meeting the requirements of the 1964 Act.”
  • 1964 Act: a missed opportunity – Voices for the Library.  By David McMenemy, lecturer at the University of Strathclyde and author of The Public Library. Act is “a majorly flawed piece of legislation, lacking clarity in how it defined service levels, and vagueness in terms of how local authorities could be held to account over their managing of services.  These flaws have meant that the legislation has largely been toothless as a tool for defending public library services.”.  Looks at what a better Act could achieve..
  • Happy Birthday Public Libraries and Museums Act  – Voices for the Library. By Professor Charles Oppenheim, formerly Professor of Information Science at Loughborough University. Looks at the wording of the 1964 Act: “The clear implication of this is that if ANY complaint is made, whether by an individual, a group of people, or an organisation, that the Secretary of State shall cause a “local enquiry” to be held. Yet in practice, the Secretaries of State over the years have rarely exercised their powers under the Act, even when pressed to do so by campaigners. A typical example is the recent proposed restructuring of Lincolnshire Public Library services, where campaigners had to take the matter to Courts rather than asking the Secretary of State to intervene .” … “CILIP’s timidity in the face of a direct assault on its members is not surprising bearing in mind its long history of lack of backbone when faced with political challenges, but is still extremely disappointing. High time for a change in approach. Instead of being so risk-averse, it should push the boundaries of political action. But I am sure that plea will fall on deaf ears.”
  • Libraries in fiction quiz – test your shelf knowledge – Guardian. “This week is the 50th anniversary of the Public Libraries Act, establishing a statutory obligation to provide this service, as beloved in fiction as it is in real life. In its honour, check out our quiz”
  • Time for a new Public Libraries and Museums Act – Voices for the Library by Dr Steve Davies, Cardiff University. “The impact of the Act was such that Moore (2004: 41) describes the decade that followed as ‘the golden age of public libraries in Britain’. A massive infusion of resources took place – in England for example, councils increased library spending by over 50% in real terms; staff grew by 40%; training provision for professional librarianship expanded; book stock increased … we probably need a new Act, with clear library standards as statutory guidance as to what constitutes an acceptable level of service, and that reflects the fast changing requirements of the modern public library service in today’s digital situation. I say ‘probably’ because there are forces of darkness that would be only too happy to repeal the Act and replace it with a much weaker framework – or nothing at all …”
  • Unhappy birthday, 1964 Act – Library Campaign. “Good news – for a while…In 2001 (under Secretary of State Chris Smith) it issued official Public Library Standards. These were quite detailed – including professional staff, spend on stock, number of ICT terminals, hours open, and even how near everyone should be to their local branch. And much more. Every council had to report how well it was meeting each Standard, every year. And you could check every council’s performance on the DCMS website. It had a very salutary effect …” Also looks at Wirral etc. “The 1964 Act has some holes in it these days. But the main message is this – it won’t matter what any Act says if DCMS declines to do one darned thing to get it implemented.It worked – so they junked it.
  • VfL celebrates 50th anniversary of Public Libraries Act – BookSeller.  “Voices for the Library is marking the 50th anniversary of the Public Libraries and Museums Act by releasing a series of pieces on the state of the modern library service … Ian Clark of Voices for the Library said: “There is a strong and important future for public libraries across the country, which our elected representatives have a continued responsibility to support. Here’s to 50 years of the Act – we must continue to appreciate its value and create a public library service fit for purpose, which can meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.”


  • 1001 Libraries to see before you die – IFLA. “Planning a trip, want to visit some libraries but not sure where you should go? Wonder no more! Your colleagues from the IFLA Public Libraries Section are busily compiling the ultimate guide for Librarians 1001 libraries to see before you die.  Our online initiative aims to bring together best practice examples of public library buildings and spaces from around the world. It will also include links to relevant websites and other resources.”
  • Department of Agriculture cracks down on seed libraries – Cumberlink (USA). “Darr explained that the Seed Act primarily focuses on the selling of seeds — which the library was not doing — but there is also a concern about seeds that may be mislabeled (purposefully or accidentally), the growth of invasive plant species, cross-pollination and poisonous plants. The department told the library it could not have the seed library unless its staff tested each seed packet for germination and other information. Darr said that was clearly not something staff could handle.”
  • How a New Dutch Library Smashed Attendance Records – Shareable (Netherlands). “Guided by patron surveys, administrators tossed out traditional methods of library organization, turning to retail design and merchandising for inspiration. They now group books by areas of interest, combining fiction and nonfiction; they display books face-out to catch the eye of browsers; and they train staff members in marketing and customer service techniques.”

“The library is also a Seats2meet (S2M) location where patrons are empowered to help one another in exchange for free, permanent, coworking space, and they utilize the S2M Serendipity Machine to connect library users in real-time. They also have a bustling cafe, an extensive events and music program, a gaming facility, a reading garden and more. The result? The New Library surpassed all expectation about usage with over 100,000 visitors in the first two months. It is now considered one of the most innovative libraries in the world…”

“…We got valuable inspiration from successful retail models and techniques. For each customer group we created a personal shop. An interior designer was contracted to add color, furniture, styling, signing etc.”

  • Librarians reveal NYC’s most insanely overdue books – New York Post. One chap threw $50 at desk, a very late book, and ran away embarrassed but US librarians say there’s no secret record of very overdue books and they are just happy to have them back.
  • Library turns to crowdfunding – Register-Star (USA). “For the campaign to raise $5,000 for an early literacy story time nook in the early literacy wing of the children’s room in the new library, an Indiegogo fundraiser was created, which can be found at www.hudsonarealibrary.org/story time”
  • Public Libraries: A Haven to the Homeless – OCLC (USA). “In addition to offering books and related materials both in print and digital formats, libraries provide a community space in which services like story times, computer classes, language development workshops, and career counselling can help community members develop essential skills. Many libraries offer services to help their patrons gain technological literacy, for instance, where parents find resources to develop their children’s cognitive skills, and where workforce members learn or further their skill sets. As a recent Reuters article by Ian Simpson emphasizes, public libraries have played a key role in providing shelter and other services to the homeless whose numbers have increased during and following the economic recession of 2007 – 2009.”
  • Public Libraries Will Survive Despite Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited – Information Space (USA). “Here’s the plain truth: there is a HUGE disruptive change happening in libraries, and it is facilitated by things like Google and Kindle Unlimited. Libraries are shifting from collection-focused buildings to centers of innovation focused on communities. If you think of libraries as places filled with books, you are in for a bit of a shock. Any library that can be replaced by a $10 a month subscription to stuff SHOULD be replaced.”
  • What Happens if Your Library Systems Go Down? – OEDB (USA). Simple guide to what to do if the computer system goes down.


  • Cilip MMIT Group Annual Conference: Sight & Sound in Libraries. Sheffield, UK – September – Journalism. “Each year MmIT run an exciting and engaging conference in Sheffield focusing on technologies and ideas that can be shared and applied in the library and information setting. This year’s theme is Sound & Vision and will feature a variety of interesting plenaries, short talks and workshops over a two day period.”
  • Library Camp UK 14 #LibCampUK14 – EventBrite. “Attended by nearly 200 people in 2013, LibraryCamp is a fantastic day (and night) out for library enthusiasts! In previous years, LibraryCamp has seen a wide variety of talks and workshops including; 3D printing and libraries, how to run a Code Club, Open Source Software and libraries, how to create a national public libraries website, hacking libraries, stripping DRM and loads more”

UK news by library authority

  • Bath and Northeast Somerset – Radstock Library consultation results – Somerset Guardian. “”Bath and North East Somerset Council is planning to move the library from its existing building on The Street to a room in Radco by the end of the year and asked local people to get involved in deciding what the new library should offer.”
  • Cornwall – Backing library hours petition – West Briton. “visited it last Saturday morning to take back two books for my wife, and find two more, and was surprised to see it would close at 1pm on a Saturday. I was even more surprised to find long queues at the automated book return console, with mothers returning some 12 children’s books all at once, together with quite a few senior citizens returning and borrowing books for their forthcoming weeks reading.”
  • Cornwall – Mobile Libraries Cut – Pirate FM.  “Cornwall’s mobile libraries are being slashed. They will go from five vans to just one, and the number of stops will plummet from 600 to 200.” … ““Rather than go for the two original options of retaining two mobile vans, which would not deliver the savings needed to also develop more micro libraries across Cornwall, or cutting all five vans and then using the funding to develop micro libraries and expand the home delivery service, we are proposing a third option which provides a reduced mobile library service at the same time as delivering the savings we need to make and also provides funding to develop the other aspects of the service. ” see also Lone mobile library for Cornwall after cost cutting drive – Western Morning News.
  • Hampshire – Campaign against plans to move Emsworth library – News. “Hampshire County Council is considering proposals to move the library from its current premises in Emsworth Square to the community centre in Church Path. But some users have said the county council should think again. Bob Smyth, a member of the Libraries Association, said: ‘The proposed closure is badly ill-judged. As the county council admits, the library is popular and busy – mostly because of its central location. The community centre premises in the old classrooms are badly located, and difficult to get to on foot from the centre – involving the crossing of one or other main roads.”
  • Kent – People to be given a say on makeover for Dartford library – Kent Online. “Earlier this month we revealed the plans that would once gain link the library and neighbouring museum, but at the same time, clear out bookshelves and house an independent living skills centre. Several letters opposing the plans were penned and Dartford council itself expressed reservations on the idea.The scheme, costing about £450,000, proposes a general refurbishment of the library including restoration work on the listed shelving, new furniture, new flooring that would look to replicate the look and feel of the old parquet flooring, new public toilets and a new entrance to the museum via the library.”
  • Kirklees – Campaigners rally over library cuts – Batley and Birstall News. “7,400 signature-strong petition against the closure of Batley’s iconic library building has been revived. It comes after Kirklees Council revealed it was considering a “drastic” option to close all but two libraries in North Kirklees as a cost-cutting measure. Batley History Group launched the petition last January after rumours first surfaced the building was to be sold off and the service moved to the town hall.”
  • Kirklees – Gibbons urges Vaizey to act on Kirklees library cuts – BookSeller. “In his letter to the minister, Gibbons reminds Vaizey of his stance as a shadow culture minister in 2009, when he accused then culture secretary Andy Burnham of “ignoring his responsibilities as secretary of state” by not intervening in library closures in The Wirral. Gibbons said that Vaizey would be dishonest if he now allowed the proposed cuts in Kirklees to go ahead…”
  • Kirklees – Kirklees set to close 24 of its 26 libraries – Guardian. “Situation is ‘only the worst in a succession of similar cuts throughout the country’, say campaigners … [Ann] Cleeves, author of the bestselling Shetland and Vera Stanhope novels and a staunch library supporter, was Kirklees libraries’ reader development officer in the early 2000s. “They were famous before then for their imaginative work with readers. They employed bibliotherapists to work with GPs, and community psychiatric nurses to run reading groups for people with mental and physical health problems,” said the novelist.”.  Also interviewed are Alan Gibbons and myself.
  • Leeds – Cutbacks are on the cards for Leeds libraries – Yorkshire Evening Post. “The plans could mean a reduction of about 15 per cent in the overall time that more than 30 libraries across the city are open each week. But the impact of the proposed cutbacks is also likely to vary wildly from site to site. Gildersome, Whinmoor and Scholes libraries could have their opening hours cut by more than 40 per cent. Rothwell’s hours could drop by 28 per cent while Seacroft’s could fall by 22 per cent.
  • Sheffield – When Sheffield’s thirst for literature meant a pub stop for its mobile library service – Telegraph. “No more mobile libraries will be travelling along Fulwood Road, or along any other road in Sheffield, for that matter. The council is withdrawing the service from today Thursday) after 52 years as part of its radical shake-up of library services across the city. There has been a 52% drop in the number of customers using the library vans over the past two years.”
  • Staffordshire – Blythe Bridge residents fight council plans to force volunteers to run their village library – Stoke Sentinel. “Villagers fear their library will close down if volunteers cannot be found to run the facility. They are angry that Staffordshire County Council wants to pull out of running Blythe Bridge Library over the next three years and replace the staff with volunteers. They aired their views at a public meeting over the future of the library this week. But they have hit out after just 50 residents were allowed to attend the meeting because of a shortage of space.
  • Staffordshire – County Council set up Facebook poll on library proposals – Burton Mail. “Facebook poll has been set up to make it easier for people to make their views known. The poll asks people what services are most important to them in a library, with options such as educational resources, mobile libraries, access to information and photocopying. Visit staffordshire.gov.uk for more information on the library proposals.”
  • Staffordshire – Letter: Audley Library should have the police post – Stoke Sentinel.