Main news this post is the formation of the “Read On. Get On” coalition of several agencies (including the Reading Agency but sadly no other public library related groups) to help boost literacy in England. Being the country apparently is second only to Romania (ouch) in the EU in terms of unequal reading levels and that such problems may cost us £32 billion by 2025, this sounds important.  Public libraries are mentioned a couple of times in the report and it is hoped that the importance of the sector (dudes, literacy is what we do) will become better recognised.   Things like the Six Book Challenge, which has just announced that it is aiming for 50,000 users next year, should be a key component in all of this.

National news

  • Axeman cometh – Leon’s Library Blog. ” we also need to recognise that while many local campaigns would prefer to keep library staff the majority will also step forward to run their local library if they believe there is no other choice to closure. Understandably, the primary focus of the campaigner is the library not the librarian. It’s also a sad fact that many professional staff are lost not through branch closures but through ‘efficiencies’, cuts to ‘backroom functions’, ‘management delayering’, and other innocuous sounding mislabelling.”.  A survey of numbers of professional posts in 27 authorities shows sharp declines since 2009/10, with reductions of 40% not uncommon.
  • Council leaders in Wales demand urgent cuts debate – BBC. “Calling for an urgent debate, WLGA leader and Torfaen councillor Bob Wellington, said that unless austerity measures were addressed, “leisure centres will close, libraries will shut, day centres will be depleted and
  • How co-ops can start an information revolution – Co-operative News. “Sharing information has been key to the success of the co-op movement. Steve Thompson, of the Yorkshire Co-operative Resource Centre, says that, as local authorities cut library services, it may be time to step back in … Every store the society opened had a reading and education room above the shop. Talks, lectures and lantern slides were organised. This became the pattern for all the other co-operative societies as well. Until relatively recently, most co-op shops had a room upstairs for the members to use … The influence of local authorities in education and library provision is in retreat. This is symptomatic of society as a whole devaluing education and encouraging people to live in a fantasy world of the quick buck by a win on the lottery – but perhaps the Yorkshire Co-operative Resource Centre (YCRC) can start to address some of these concerns.”
  • International Literacy Day: the library’s role in promoting literacies – CILIP. “Today is International Literacy Day. It reminds us that promoting and sustaining literacy is one of the critical roles of libraries. Our strength lies in the fact that we are really about literacies, all those skills individuals need to participate effectively in an information society … It is important that libraries shout about their work in promoting literacy. Within the UK public libraries, and libraries in schools, further and higher education and community learning institutions all play an important part. The Reading Agency, National Literacy Trust and others support libraries in these tasks and, in England, the Society of Chief Librarians have developed the four public library universal offers – reading, digital, health and information – all of which resonate with the literacies agenda, although the first two especially so. Wales and Scotland are both a step ahead with their respective national information literacy strategies. CILIP is focusing on digital inclusion and also information literacy in the workplace through its Information Literacy Project, chaired by CILIP President, Barbara Band.”
  • New coalition to tackle UK ‘reading crisis’ – BookSeller. “The Read On. Get On. coalition has been been put together by organisations including Save the Children, Booktrust and the Publishers Association after research found that by 2015, 1.5m children in the UK will have reached the age of 11 unable to read well.” … “All of the organisations have pledged to cooperate to encourage childhood literacy, working through schools, libraries and in the home.” The report uses the Books on Prescription programme as a case study and mentioned the Summer Reading Challenge. See also Poor reading ‘could cost UK £32bn in growth by 2025’ – Guardian and UK has more graduates but without skills and social mobility to match – Guardian.

“England is one of the most unequal countries in the EU when it comes to reading levels, second only to Romania” Bookseller

“Public libraries, in providing free access to books for families who struggle to afford them, have a key role to play in helping to deliver the Read On. Get On. campaign. In offering reading activities and materials of all kinds for families, they are places to encourage everyone to read more and to develop a love of reading. A recent review by the Arts Council demonstrated how important libraries can be for local communities and for helping people improve their skills.” Read On. Get On. report

  • Prisoners get better libraries than public, says Tory – Telegraph. “Prisoners are “far better served” by library facilities than the general public, an MP has claimed. Some prisons carry more than 16 books for every inmate, compared to just one book per resident in a community library, Philip Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, told the Commons. Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary who has faced criticism after banning inmates from receiving books in the post under a crackdown on perks, said Mr Davies was “entirely right”.” [There’s so much wrong this that I don’t know where to start – Ed.]
  • Reading Agency sets new goal for the Six Book Challenge – Reading Agency (press release). “National charity The Reading Agency today called on partner organisations to help it reach 50,000 participants for its annual Six Book Challenge in 2015 as part of its drive to improve adult literacy in the UK. This ambitious goal was announced at a special reception at 11 Downing Street hosted by Frances Osborne, wife of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, at which The Reading Agency gathered authors, publishers, policymakers, other charities and representatives from the wide range of organisations who take part in the Six Book Challenge. Together they celebrated the success to date of the Six Book Challenge, which is now in its eighth year of encouraging less confident or lapsed readers to pick any six reads of their choice – magazine, newspaper or online articles, song lyrics, poems or comics as well as books – and record their reading in a diary to receive a certificate.  In 2014 it has reached well over 40,000 people through public libraries, adult community learning settings, FE and sixth form colleges, prisons and workplaces with the support of trade unions.

Speaking at the 11 Downing Street reception on 8 September, designated International Literacy Day by UNESCO, Reading Agency chief executive Sue Wilkinson said: “The people who do the Six Book Challenge tell us how powerful it has been in getting them to start reading and to learn to love reading – even if it’s a struggle for them at first. We need everyone’s help to reach at least 50,000 people in 2015 because we know the difference participating in the Challenge can make to people’s lives and to society as a whole. When Amy Gaskin from Nottinghamshire completed the Six Book Challenge she said that she felt like ‘a new, more confident person’. That is how we want everyone to feel because we believe that everything changes when we read.”


  • eBooks: Reading the Future – London, Friday 28 November 2014. – via lis-pub-libs. “A one day seminar organised by EUROLIS, the consortium of librarians of European Cultural Institutes in London and the International Library and Information Group of CILIP. The seminar will explore the impact of eBooks in the European market and how librarians in different European countries are integrating the use of eBooks and digital technology.”
  • From Amazon to ebooks: are libraries outdated?  – London, 19th October, Battle of Ideas. “In a world of Kindles and free downloads, do we really need physical places to house books? Last November, children’s favourite Terry Deary controversially demurred from the consensus that public libraries are necessarily a Good Thing, arguing this ‘Victorian idea’ has to evolve, and that giving out e-readers would be cheaper than keeping libraries open. He was roundly denounced by fellow authors who described his views as ‘downright irresponsible’ and ‘ignorant twaddle’. Ironically, though, Deary’s belief that libraries must become part of the electronic age seems to be shared by many librarians. Only a small percentage of their funds is spent on books; the majority is spent on computers, DVDs, computers and e-readers”.  Speakers include Alan Gibbons and Tim Worstall from the Adam Smith Institute.


  • An Interview with Sherri Liberman of Mulberry Street Library – Library As Incubator (USA). ” Libraries are not only repositories of books and technology but also vibrant public spaces, and it is a pleasure to be able to bring in such a talented roster of artists to our branch libraries. Having art in the library is relaxing, stimulating, and hopefully, thought-provoking; it adds a contemplative and beautifying experience to our very busy public space.”
  • What do you hate about your public library? – Reddit. “This is not an anti-library rant. I am a public librarian with 12 years behind the desk. Once a year or so I like to ask reddit what we are doing wrong, what we could be doing better, and what they would like to see from their library in the future. Love to hear what you have to say, thanks for stopping in.” [Some great comments and ideas here – Ed.]

UK local news by authority

  • Glasgow – Decline in visitors to libraries as users go online – Herald Scotland. “Figures released by Glasgow Life, which runs libraries as well as sports and cultural venues in the city, have revealed a sharp fall in visits. It recorded that while more than 4.4 million went to their city’s libraries during 2011/12, that number fell to just in excess of 4.1 million last year. However, libraries remain upbeat about the popularity of the service and underline a surge in the number of people using library services, such as renewing books, from their own computers. Taking into account these “virtual attendances” the total number of library visits increased from five million three years ago to more than 5.5 million last year” … “there were more than 9,000 attendances at Bounce And Rhyme sessions for parents and young children, and that its Wee Write! book festival for children, held for the first time in March 2014, attracted more than 3,000 visitors.”
  • Hampshire – Seventeen mobile library stops have been saved but Hampshire County Council is axing paid staff at three libraries – Southern Daily Echo. “Seventeen mobile library stops are to be saved from cuts – but county bosses are pressing ahead with axing paid staff at three libraries. “

“Since 2009 there has been nearly a 25 per cent cut in spending on the library service, according to an official report – which also reveals the number of library visits has dropped by 9.2 per cent during that period. “

  • Leicestershire – Campaigners stage protest to save library – Harborough Mail. “Fleckney Library, in School Street, is one of 36 across the county facing the axe as a result of Leicestershire County Council cuts … Resident and campaigner Linda Marshall, who is the chairman of governors at Fleckney Primary School, said: “It was a fantastic response from the community and many children dressed up in some super costumes inspired by their love of books – there was everything from Harry Potter, superheroes and monsters, to wizards, pirates and princesses.”
  • Lincolnshire – Call for council to restore opening times – Lincolnshire Free Press. “Save Lincolnshire Libraries say libraries across the county have been operating with reduced opening times since April. Campaign spokesman Julie Harrison wants to know why the council hasn’t restored full opening times using cash from last year’s £41million under spend. She said: “This would be a clear indication that the council has recognised it made the wrong decision.”
  • Lincolnshire – County Council issue statement on library reforms – Skegness Standard. Councillor Worth says “As you are aware, the council is required to give further consideration to its proposed changes to local library services, as a result of the recent judicial review. That means some additional work will be needed over the coming months, for which detailed plans are currently being drawn up by officers”
  • Lincolnshire – Will company run libraries – Spalding Today. “The council is about to start a fresh public consultation on the future of the service following its failed bid to transfer more than 30 libraries to community groups and save around £1.9million.”.  Critics say that the council has ” £40million left over from last year that they took from every ratepayer and didn’t spend – £1.9million is what we are trying to save – and the excess in this one year could keep our libraries running for a generation”
  • Liverpool – Can Liverpool’s community groups really run our libraries? – Liverpool Echo. A look at community-run Croxteth Library “It sums up the culture of Croxteth library – relaxed, personal and brimming with the enthusiasm of staff. It has been praised as a model community library by Locality, with usage growing and opening hours extended since the council put it in community hands in 2010 – no mean feat as visitor numbers fall across the country.” … “The library also runs sessions for adults, including reading lessons, book groups and basic computer training. Ted is one of only two paid staff members, with some activities like Story Time run by volunteers.” … “Valley may take over several other libraries themselves, and are offering support to other groups considering community takeovers. Several city schools, housing associations, health organisations and established community groups are also interested in potential takeovers. The council might even cave in to pressure to keep more libraries public.”
  • Liverpool – Mum hits out at threat to libraries which are ‘lifeline’ for disabled daughter – Liveroool Echo. “A furious mother has hit out at proposals to close several city libraries, saying they are a “lifeline” for her disabled daughter. Kelly Butchard, of Huyton, is concerned for the future of Old Swan and Dovecot services, and says closure would have a “devastating” impact on four­-year­-old Layla. The wheelchair-bound youngster, who suffers from chromosome deletion syndrome, visits every Saturday with her book­-loving mum.” … ““I feel if they closed Dovecot, Old Swan and Kensington it would be penalising people on that side of the city which is already not the wealthiest.”
  • Liverpool – Showdown on Liverpool library closure plans at meeting tomorrow – Liverpool Echo. “Campaigners are expected to turn out in force to a key meeting on the future of Liverpool’s library service. The meeting, taking place tomorrow night, will scrutinise the council’s plans to cut back on libraries, which could lead to 11 out of 18 closing. The plans have met out widespread condemnation from anti cuts groups and library users, but the council says it has to save up to £156m over the next three years and must make cuts to services that are not deemed essential.”
  • Northamptonshire – New stops added to Northamptonshire County Council’s mobile library service – Northampton News. “
  • Some locations will also see longer stops due to increased demand, while a small number of stops have been removed from the timetable because of poor customer numbers.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Anger at library snack bar closure – Chad. “popular community cafe at Mansfield Library is to be closed and replaced with vending machines after the catering company that runs it cancelled their contract. The Pantry, located on the top floor of the town’s West Gate library, will close in three weeks after operators Churchill Catering decided not to carry on with the lease – two years after opening at the newly-refurbished library. But angry library users contacted Chad after they were told that Nottinghamshire County Council now planned to replace the cafe with vending machines.
  • Wirral – Wirral Council to axe around 500 jobs and announce raft of proposed cutbacks in bid to save £18m – Liverpool Echo. “The scale of the cuts we are facing means that it is inevitable that some changes still have to be made. Taking libraries as an example, the council leader has been clear that he will not close any of Wirral’s libraries, so unlike most other local authorities, we have sought to find a fair option that keeps all of them open, but still helps the budget position by reducing some opening times”