More information is coming in at proposed cuts to the Cornish budget.  If calculations are correct, this comes in at 44% of the total libraries budget over two years (2015/17) with the hope being that volunteers and smaller councils take the strain.  There’s also more on Lincolnshire where it is clear that the council is wishing to continue with cutting its library service despite the recent successful legal challenge.  There’s some interesting implications about the suggestion there that the Community Right to Challenge may open up the service to competing bids from private companies and other entities.  Thirdly, it looks like the Havering Libraries twitter account was used to express criticism at the deep cuts proposed for libraries there.  This is the first time I can recall an official account being used this way.

Continuing the mini series from award-winning public librarians, I am pleased to include some great stuff from Jo Norris of Essex on organising events and ideas anyone can try.  Enjoy.


Cornwall £1.8 million cut proposed over 2 years 2015/17.


An interview with Jo Norris, runner up to the Library Champion of the Year, Deputy Library Supervisor at Sible Hedingham Library in Essex Libraries

What attracted you to library work? – How long have you worked for Essex? The date stamps! Seriously though I love books, I love reading and I love working with people so working in the library was an obvious choice for me. Still there is something satisfying about stamping a book….

What do you most enjoy about library work? I think it’s great to have the opportunity to get to know customers and working in a smaller rural library enables you to find out what people like or what they’d like to see in their library – not just in terms of stock but events and information. I like it that all the team working at Sible Hedingham can offer customers recommendations or pass on information that might be of interest to them personally.

Can you give me some examples of your library events and how you market them? Last year, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who we held a children’s event across the three libraries in our group, Sible Hedingham, Earls Colne and Halstead. For this I made a 5ft cardboard tardis which I put outside the library beforehand to promote the event.

 “I made a 5ft cardboard tardis which I put outside the library beforehand to promote the event”

We then held the same event at each library and I took the tardis within me. Unfortunately I didn’t quite manage the time travel aspect of the Tardis – so I had to travel between libraries with it poking out my boot! The events went really well – I think because they were timely – there was lots in the press about the anniversary and the local papers took a keen interest in what we were doing. We did a vote for your favourite doctor and it’s not who you’d think! I think that partners play a vital role in the success of an event – we held a successful health event where the local health professionals came in to complete basic health and lifestyle checks for customers in the library which proved to be really popular.

“I think this is one area for development in the future – helping people with their own technology especially tablets, to access information”

At Essex we have recently taken out a online magazine subscription to Zinio which means we can now offer our customers loads of free of charge magazines to download to their PC or tablets. For a smaller library it’s brilliant because we can now offer a much bigger range than we could before and to promote this we held an event where people could bring in their devices and we helped then download a magazine. This was something we’d done before with Ebooks and found that many people had been given a device for Christmas but were terrified of using it so we could then signpost people to our computer classes. I think this is one area for development in the future – helping people with their own technology especially tablets, to access information – perhaps asking young people who have no fear of technology to show people? After all, if I doubt – ask an 8 year old…!

Is “marketing” the right word? Do you consider market segments etc? I think it probably is – at the end of the day we want to give the customer a positive experience and increase our membership and footfall. I think that the way we market events has changed and at Essex we increasingly use Twitter, Facebook and Enewsletters to promote services and events. Also, being in a smaller library, you can tell customers who you think might be interested or involve local people in the design or delivery of an event which helps promote it in the community via word of mouth.
Do you have simple ideas that others can copy? Yes we always try to create one event that can be used in several libraries – that way we can make best use of staff time and we aren’t duplicating work. Also it makes promoting the event easier as we can create generic posters and leaflets and send out press releases or social media messages to cover all the events.
Do you have any fun future projects planned? I’m desperate to have a loom band event before the craze ends! Unfortunately I’m rubbish at making loom band bracelets so I’ve sounded out a couple of our younger customers who are desperate to share their loom band skills with others! I will apologise to the cleaner in advance!

National UK news

  • Carnegie Library Lab – Carnegie UK Trust.  “We are delighted to be open for applications for Carnegie Library Lab – the Trust’s new programme of work aimed at enhancing innovation and leadership in public libraries. Please find the application form, application notes, FAQs and note to Heads of Public Library service to the right.”
  • Four of the UK’s most innovative libraries – Guardian. “Public libraries are hotbeds of innovative activity. Supporting small business start-ups, making a hospital-based book lending machine, holding reminiscence groups, and forming new partnerships with Macmillan Cancer Support and Dementia UK – it can be surprising what lies behind the doors of the local library.”.  Examples include “technoclubs” using lego robotics in Neath Port Talbot, cooking/literacy sessions in Scotland, Exeter Library Fab Lab, Northern Ireland unemployment clubs.
  • ‘Treat newspapers like pubs’ says union – Hold the Front Page. “The NUJ has won debating time – on either Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday of the TUC conference in Liverpool – to discuss utilising government legislation to treats newspapers in the same way as closure-threatened village shops, pubs, cinemas and libraries. It wants the Localism Act 2012 to be used in the regional press industry in the same way local councils now determine “community assets” within their communities.”


  • Infographic: Checking Out America’s Libraries – Electric Literature (USA). There are 2000 more libraries than MacDonalds restaurants. 58% of Americans have a library card. $11.4 billion spent on US public libraries in 2011 … and a pile of other information.


  • Inverclyde – Young People’s Services Librarian (job share) Salary: £20,469 – £23,748 (pro rata) – “The postholder will be responsible for the operation, promotion, monitoring and development of young people’s services across the branch network. The successful applicant will select, manage and promote stock for children and young people; oversee the authority’s highly successful Bookbug programme and work in partnership with local schools and other organizations to provide support to, and develop projects for, children and young people.”

Local UK news by local authority

  • Cornwall – Hundreds Of Jobs To Go At Cornwall Council – Pirate FM. “Libraries could be run by volunteers and/or town and parish councils. Cornwall Council says it wants to ensure none are closed. We are being told services for the most vulnerable, public transport and road repairs and maintenance will be protected, but will not escape the cuts.” see also Proposed saving options recommended by cabinet members – Cornwall Council. More detail of cuts on page 141. [Non-official estimates suggest cut at 44% of libraries budget over two years – Ed.]
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Survey opens on customer service facilities – Galloway Gazette. “As part of the process of integrating libraries, registration and customer service centres, Dumfries and Galloway Council is asking for your views on the opening hours for new DG customer service facilities in each area right across the region.”
  • Hampshire – Future of Hampshire libraries to be discussed – Southern Daily Echo. “A  cross-party group is due to meet today to discuss a progress vision of the future of libraries in Hampshire in the next five years. The councillors had been tasked to come up with how the Hampshire Information Service will look in the next five years amid changing usage and falling funding.”
  • Havering – Backlash against proposed cuts posted from Havering library service’s twitter account – Romford Recorder. “It appears that someone may have hacked into the Havering Library Service twitter account, @Haveringlibrary, to express their disgust at plans to slash the service’s budget by more than £1million. A tirade against the cuts started at about 8pm on Friday evening with the tweet “50 jobs to go at Havering Libraries part of Havering Councils budget cuts proposals”. The tweet was retweeted 14 times and favourited three times by users of the social media network. At 11.21pm on Friday the account tweeted “No more events or activities unless run by volunteers at havering libraries so pay your council tax and provide services yourself !!” The outcry continued into Friday night.” [Tweets have now apparently been deleted – Ed.]

“I understand entirely that some staff are upset by the proposals, especially given the impact on jobs in the library service. There are other staff across the Council who are also facing uncertainty around their jobs, and it’s important we listen to them, as well as the public, before any plans are finalised.” Councillor Melvin Wallace.

  • Kent – Dartford Council leader speaks out against changes to Central Library in Market Street – This is Local London. “”It’s great KCC want to invest in our library but I think many will share the view that some of the changes proposed are unsympathetic and inappropriate for a building of this age and style.  We managed to get a previous planning application withdrawn because the library service simply hadn’t consulted users about it and at least they are now talking to local people. “
  • Lincolnshire – New talks to begin over future of Lincolnshire libraries – Lincolnshire Echo. “Changes to library services across the county are likely to still go ahead, Lincolnshire County Council is insisting … Speaking at a meeting of the Lincolnshire County Council executive, Councillor Nick Worth said community hubs and mobile libraries still remain the authority’s preferred choice. “Much of the additional work will be aimed at finding out what other options we should consider before making a new decision in the early months of 2015,” Mr Worth added. “The result of receiving a valid expression of interest under the Community Right to Challenge Scheme might be a requirement to put the library service out to competition.” see also A decision on the future of the county’s libraries is expected to be taken in February – Grantham Journal. “This follows a ruling by the High Court which said Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to re-design its services to save £2m was legally flawed. The council wanted to continue running only 15 of its 45 libraries with others run by volunteers. Grantham library faced having its opening hours cut.”

“The result of receiving a valid expression of interest under the Community Right to Challenge Scheme might be a requirement to put the library service out to competition. In view of this possibility, we will start to make preparations for a possible future procurement process.”

  • Staffordshire – Council spends £6m in pay-offs for more than 300 staff – Express and Star. “… 339 people were made redundant or took redundancy between August 2013 and July this year … Up to 34 youth clubs across the county also face closure unless other organisations take them over. And volunteers are being drafted in to run 24 of the county’s 43 libraries in a bid to save £1.3 million.”