Two bits of big library news today has got me thinking about longer term national trends.  Number one is bad news from Hertfordshire as it announces plans to lose all staff from 17 out of 46 of its libraries. This is in keeping with the trend notable from other English and Welsh authorities where the council aims for all of the smallest branches to be either volunteered or closed.  The general scheme is:

  • The largest library/ies have an unaffected or even improved service.
  • Middle sized libraries (towns, major suburbs) have slightly reduced services, but with some paid staff replaced with volunteers.
  • Smallest libraries are passed to volunteers, parish councils or closed.

Someone asked me the other day what future I saw for public libraries if current trends continue.  I’ve been thinking about this for a short while and my guess is something like the above pattern but taken a bit further.  So, if you work in or use a central library, congratulations, you have comparatively nothing to worry about in the next three years.  You’ll notice less books and less staff but the odds are the place is going to be the least affected by the inevitable cuts in your authority. If you work in a suburb, small town or village, on the other hand (less than 20,000 population? Not sure) then, sorry, you’re probably going to see your library close down or more likely pass to volunteers. The grey area is those larger non-central libraries.  It’s very hard to see how a sizeable busy branch can be volunteer run or be closed down.  My guess is that will be where non-profit enterprises (or even profits) will be making an appearance and you’ll notice that the branch gets more and more non-book stuff in it.

The other big bit of news in today (although it has been suggested for a long while) is confirmation that Kent is planning to move to be a charitable trust.  It will join York and Suffolk as a non-Leisure non-profit .  Now, there seems to be a little confusion with Library/Leisure Trusts at the moment with Wigan’s libraries being returned to the local authority.  I’ve heard rumours that it’s not just Wigan either that is having problems with combined library/leisure trusts.  So, the trend here seems to be that library-service trusts are in the ascendant but the growth in library/leisure trusts is stalling.  Set against this, of course, is the leisure-library trust GLL which is currently trying to add Lincolnshire to its list.  We’ll see whether GLL can buck the trend – or even if I’m right that there is a trend at all – over the next year or two.  Oddly, what we’re not seeing, after the excitement of the Tri Borough amalgamation, are more library services combining with eachother.  Presumably this is because of political difficulties … and I’ll be very surprised I anyone is going to make a decision of that nature until the General Election.




  • A bookworm’s guide to Edinburgh and Glasgow – List. “If you’re looking for an escape from campus libraries, there are some fantastic alternatives. Glasgow’s Mitchell Library has three fabulous floors and Edinburgh’s Central and National libraries are not only bursting with books and reference materials, but they’re also handily located just across the road from each other on George IV Bridge. Another highlight is the Glasgow Women’s Library, which has an impressive variety of works highlighting women’s achievements. And the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh hosts a particularly healthy programme of events, so you can enjoy your poetry live as well as on the page.”

“I joined Essex Libraries January 2013 as a Relief Mobile Supervisor.  I was looking for a position which involved working within the community & not office based, this role seemed ideal. As a Relief Mobile Library Supervisor, no two weeks are the same.  Mine is a unique role, I travel all over the County in different Mobile Libraries, providing holiday cover for my colleagues.  I really love the job as it is so varied.  I have worked within customer services for many years in various jobs. I don’t have any magic formula for great customer service, I just listen, smile, chat and help where I can.  I am one member of a truly excellent supportive team; we all pride ourselves on getting the Mobile Libraries to where they need to be.  This is a challenge for all of us, but more for me as I can be driving fifty miles before I even get to the base I’m due to cover that day.  I have made it through some truly awful weather, with torrential rain, floods and gales, coping with road diversions and vehicle breakdowns at all times of the day – but I pride myself on getting to the stops to see the customers and rarely fail, If I do fail, I put the books in my car, delivering them on my way home.  The Mobile Library is more than a Library: it is a meeting place for the community, somewhere to share good news, to get support from your neighbours & to catch up on village news. To be nominated & win a national award as Mobile Library Champion of the Year is a huge surprise,  I recently was awarded Essex Libraries Mobile Library Supervisor of the Year, I am speechless, which my colleagues & family will tell you, is very rare!”  Fiona Litscher

  • Children must learn to love reading, not just learn to read – Guardian / Letters. “The closure of public libraries across the country or their divestment from local authority control to volunteers (raising fears as to their sustainability) will surely impact on the success of the children’s reading initiative. I sincerely hope Save the Children UK will acknowledge this, as the success of its project depends upon it.” –
  • Local Digital Insights from libraries – Steve Halliday. “Local Government now has a Library Renewals Digital Dashboard with GOV.UK. This builds on the Performance Platform developed by GDS and follows the Missed Bins dashboard reported on earlier. The Library Items renewals dashboard shows live data illustrating how library users are migrating to digital channels. Libraries don’t just lend books any more, they are becoming community hubs and also lend many other items like CDs DVDs and online material.” … 45.1% of renewals are online, “Users can also renew items at unstaffed digital kiosks around the county. 33.8% of Warwickshire’s users do that, which added to the 45.1% gives a resounding 78.9% digital take-up for this transaction.”


  • Millennials Are Out-Reading Older Generations – Atlantic. (USA). “Millennials are reading more books than the over-30 crowd, Pew found in a survey of more than 6,000 Americans. Some 88 percent of Americans younger than 30 said they read a book in the past year compared with 79 percent of those older than 30. At the same time, American readers’ relationship with public libraries is changing—with younger readers less likely to see public libraries as essential in their communities.” see also Young read more books than older generation, research finds – Guardian. ““It’s vital that libraries aren’t written off as irrelevant, and continue to receive the means to broaden and advertise their services to a generation that can read at the click of a button.”
  • New Frederick County PL Library Card Doubles as a Visa Debit Card – Library Journal (USA). “Following four months of discussions with SirsiDynix and a brief pilot test this summer, Maryland’s Frederick County Public Libraries (FCPL) on September 5 officially launched the “I Love My Library” prepaid Visa debit card. Developed by SirsiDynix in partnership with Visa and Card Limited, the new affinity cards double as a patron’s library card and aim to help libraries achieve three goals: help “unbanked” users, income generation and business connections.
  • Radical Librarianship: how ninja librarians are ensuring patrons’ electronic privacy – Boing Boing (USA). “Librarians in Massachusetts are working to give their patrons a chance to opt-out of pervasive surveillance. Partnering with the ACLU of Massachusetts, area librarians have been teaching and taking workshops on how freedom of speech and the right to privacy are compromised by the surveillance of online and digital communications — and what new privacy-protecting services they can offer patrons to shield them from unwanted spying of their library activity.”
  • Taking A Long-Overdue Sledgehammer To The Public Library – Fast Company (USA). “Oakland is among a growing number of libraries across the U.S. that lend tools–as in awls, sledgehammers, and hacksaws–as well as other unexpected items like bakeware, Moog synthesizers, and human skeletons to keep pace with the times. Some libraries have broadened their collections in response to a dip in print material circulation–a tactile solution to digital disruption.”

“…  items in the “Unusual Stuff to Borrow” collection must meet three criteria: They’re more expensive than an impulse buy; you can get good use out of them in seven days; and you don’t need them often. Like, for example, a theremin … Ann Arbor launched its collection of objects three years ago with 30 telescopes. Soon, the waiting list grew to more than 100 people. Encouraged by the telescopes’ success, the library added tools, giant-sized games, musical instruments, art prints, and hundreds of other curiosities. During a recent week, 17 people were on a waiting list for a print of Gustav Klimt’s “Forest of Beech Trees … a series of kid-centric STEAM kits–short for science, technology, engineering, arts, and math–featuring digital microscopes, steel drums, and plastic human bodies with removable organs.”

  • Tatas for Libraries – Eventbrite (USA). “Tart Cabaret presents a benefit for EveryLibrary. Join us for the kind of new bohemian fun that only PDX can provide. There will be burlesque, drag, music, comedy, belly dance and more. Enjoy great performances by Moxie Laroux, Huricane E Velour,Pagan Holladay, and many others. A great show for a great cause. Doors at 8 pm show starts at 9 pm.”


  • Do you manage people?  Do you have to make decisions? Are you looking for inspiration or new ideas?  If you are, then don’t miss out on the Lancashire Libraries Joining the Dots conference in Lancaster on 14 and 15 October.  Come and hear Paul McGee (SUMO Guy) deliver our opening keynote, then attend your choice of workshops, a gala dinner and a chance to win an iPad Air.  Day two includes visits to some of Lancashire’s libraries and the closing keynote will be delivered by Wayne Hemingway MBE.  You’ll also have the opportunity to visit our industry exhibition – all this, including accommodation and meals for £249.00!  The programme and registration details are on our website at www.lancashire.gov.uk/joiningthedots/ . Bookings will close on Friday 19th September so make the most of this opportunity to be a part of this brand new conference

UK local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Every child in Birmingham to get free book  – Birmingham Mail. “The Year of Reading project will see the Library of Birmingham send schools new library cards in bulk, while a bookseller has pledged to supply a choice of children’s books so that teachers can choose a book each for 120,000 children in the Birmingham Education Partnership’s 270 schools.” … “The Birmingham Mail is backing the Year of Reading with our Born and Read in Brum literacy campaign. We are calling for reading volunteers to support children, adult learners and events at the Library of Birmingham.”
  • Coventry – Campaign launched to get Coventry adults reading more – Coventry Telegraph. “Librarians in Coventry have launched the Big City Read to get as many people as possible to read The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry, meet the author, write their own reviews and get together to talk about it. The Big City Read is being run by Coventry City Council’s libraries and information service from now until June next year.”
  • Haringey – North London gets its very own outdoor digital bookshelf – Library Wall (press release). “Inspired by a Bucharest metro project, London creative agency Artefacto have launched Library Wall: North London’s first digital outdoor bookshelf, enabling anyone walking by to scan a book title and watch as it downloads onto their smartphone or tablet.” … “We had several clear ideas which we knew would be the ground rules for the project:- The installation should function as a prototype for how public libraries could be (and should be) utilising new digital technology and promoting public domain (PD) cultural content. The installation should be community-created, involving people who live in the local area in the choice of titles to choose from, and book choice should also reflect this unique physical location. Texts curated for the installation should be in the most interoperable and accessible digital format, bearing in mind all the different types of formats and devices available.”
  • Hertfordshire – Inspiring Libraries: A new strategy for Hertfordshire Libraries – Hertfordshire Council. “Key proposals include: • Each of Hertfordshire’s 46 libraries will be placed in three distinct categories, each with a different offer to the community and to ensure people know what their local library has to offer. • We want to increase the number of volunteers helping out in our libraries so in some cases we can increase opening hours and enable people to learn new skills. • We will invest in digital technology such as tablet computers and wifi,  and create a Library App and a ‘virtual librarian’ in self-service or volunteer-led libraries.  • We will look at sharing buildings with other public services to make best use of community resources and to save money. • We will increase income – for example through the hire of library space and sale of refreshments, which will go into creating an even better service for you. • Finally, we will improve the way we promote our libraries to ensure more people know what they have to offer.”
  • Kent – New chapter for Kent libraries as Kent County Council set to hand over libraries to charitable trust plan – Kent Online. “Kent’s libraries are set to be run by a charitable trust under plans unveiled by the county council today. The council said it was confident the move would lead to a better service for the county’s library users, but that it would be a matter for the trust if it wanted to maintain the existing 99 libraries. The trust model has already been adopted by a number of other councils with mixed results, but KCC said there was evidence that in many services had improved.” … “The trust will be non-profit making, but would be free to develop other commercial services around libraries.” see also KCC’s charitable library scheme moves a step closer to fruition – Courier.“Our Libraries, Registration and Archive service benefits hundreds of thousands of residents in Kent each year and we want to make sure these benefits continue to be realised. Moving to a trust model would give us the opportunity to modernise the service and provide improvements for the benefit of Kent residents. “The trust model has worked successfully in other authorities, including Suffolk, and we take great confidence from the positive signs shown by the Suffolk Libraries Trust, which show that a trust model can be a really positive option for the community and exciting opportunity for the service.” and Proposals to modernise Kent libraries take a step forward – Kent News.
  • Leicestershire – Outcome on consultation on proposals fro changes in the de delivery of library services – Lincolnshire Council. “Officers be requested to undertake further work to consider the suggestions made during the consultation including a response to the challenge raised about the basis for identifying the 16 main libraries and to present a final model to the Cabinet at its meeting in November for consideration”.  Lists the results of the consultations. “Whilst no formal expressions of interests have been received to run libraries, a number of communities have entered into discussions with the County Council and these will continue.”. The many responses to the County Council’s consultation on the delivery of library services have resulted in the Cabinet being recommended to authorise further work on the proposals for community partnership libraries.


“543 signed letters from regular users of Ibstock library were submitted by Ibstock Parish Council. The letters urge the County Council to reconsider their plans. “Ibstock Library is unique, because of its location within Ibstock Community College, sharing books and facilities with the College. It would not be feasible for a partnership to create income in the library, to pay for running costs. Closing the Library would be a great loss to members of the public and students and staff at the College”


  • Leicestershire – Library services could be cut to save £800,000 – ITV. “Proposals to reduce opening hours at 16 major libraries by 20 per cent will be discussed by councillors next week, before a final decision is made in November.” see also Labour candidate Jamie McMahon calls for Leicestershire County Council to delay library fund cuts – Burton News. “”Libraries can be social hubs at the heart of our local communities. “The county council should be looking at ways to maximise the use of libraries; ensuring people can access more services. “Four out of North West Leicestershire’s six libraries are being put at risk and they should not simply cut funding and threaten these libraries with closure.” “We’ve been calling on the council to consider more than just usage in the decision to cut funding for a library.” and Public force North-West Leicestershire library closure re-think – Burton Mail.
  • Lincolnshire – Fresh hope for future of Coningsby Library – Horncastle News. “Under previous plans, the ‘hub’ was scheduled to return to school use, possibly as sixth form accommodation. Now, the school is known as the Barnes Wallis Academy and has become an Academy as part of the David Ross Education Trust. Local county councillor Colin Mair revealed he’s held talks with officials from the Education Trust who have indicated they might allow the hub – and the library – to remain at the current location.”
  • Powys – Powys libraries: Consultation on ‘fundamental changes’ – BBC. “the option which the council cabinet is backing involves: Reducing opening hours by 20% Looking for libraries to share facilities with other community services were possible. The mobile library service would be kept but the four vehicles would visit places every month rather than every two weeks. Powys council has already cut back on library management last year saving £109,000. But it estimates it faces a bill of £3.6m to keep library buildings up to standard by 2020.”
  • Sheffield – Stannington library group announces building upkeep partnership – Sheffield Telegraph. “Earlier this year Sheffield Council announced 15 local libraries had been saved from closure by handing control over to local groups. Stannington and District Library Group has now teamed up with local environment group Action For Stannington that will allow the area around the resource to be maintained when STAND takes over the building at the end of September”
  • Staffordshire – Public meeting called by Friends to save Penkridge Library from being downgraded – Staffordshire Newsletter. “A newly formed group is campaigning for Penkridge’s library to also be classed as a core service. Friends of Penkridge Library spoke at last night’s meeting, where they received the backing of parish councillors who offered £1,000 towards their fighting fund.”.  Users annoyed that other libraries are getting perceived preferential treatment.
  • Staffordshire – Letters: Staffordshire libraries consultation – Sentinel. “Nowhere in the 23-page consultation booklet does it explain where the £1.6 million of savings will be found. Nowhere in the booklet does it state the number of library jobs which would be lost and nowhere in the booklet does it say where the new investment money would be found for all the libraries across Staffordshire.” … “There will be at least 130 professional library staff losing their jobs”
  • Staffordshire – Silverdale and Knutton library campaigners hand in 1,440-name petition – Stoke Sentinel. “Organiser Joan Price, aged 80, of The Acres, Silverdale, said: “Silverdale Library is the centre of our village and if it goes, there will be absolutely nothing left here. “The building is used by all walks of life and it offers so much more than just books. “The council wants volunteers to help run it but it just isn’t sustainable. “We haven’t got enough people who are willing to take it on and even if we had, who is going to pay for the costs of maintaining the building?”
  • Worcestershire – The Hive hits the two million mark – Worcester News. “Two million visitors have now passed through the doors of the Hive in Worcester since the new £60 million library and history centre opened two years ago. Thousands of people visit the library each day, and an average of 924,877 visits take place each year – almost three times the amount of people who went to the old Worcester Library.” … “As a joint venture between Worcestershire County Council and the University of Worcester the Hive was the first of its kind in Europe. It has so far received and been shortlisted for 47 national and international awards and currently the University is shortlisted for The Times Higher Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community through its part in the development.”