UK national news

“Q: Lord Rooker (Lab)
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what actions are being taken at national level to preserve and enhance a public library system which takes account of the uses and demands of new technology.

A: Lord Newby (LibDem)
Library services are increasingly thinking of ways to serve the community in the 21st century and are constantly looking at ways they can provide a service to their users using available new technology. WiFi is available in various public libraries, with the number of locations offering this service continuing to increase. Many libraries already provide e-books for their users and the Government recently extended the Public Lending Right to e-books for on-site lending. Various libraries are being equipped with new equipment such as advanced reading technology to enable blind and partially sighted people access to digital and physical information. Libraries are also evolving their services – Exeter library now offers a Fab Lab which is a low-cost digital workshop equipped with laser-cutters, routers, 3D scanners, 3D milling machines, and programming tools, where you can “make almost anything”.” They Work For You, House of Lords, Written Answers: 26th September

  • Why there won’t be mass redundancies in the public sector after the election – Guardian / Public Leaders Network. “There’s no halfway house between outsourcing and privatisation on the one hand and maintaining public provision of public services on the other. It is not an accident that this move comes just after the Tory conference and the party’s turn to the right. Big Society died a while ago and the world of public services is binary. Community-run libraries and the rest aren’t happening; volunteers aren’t running to staff the fire service pumps. Unless public services are cut altogether, in future they will either be provided in-house or on contract, and most contracting will be by profit-making private companies.”
  • Will Self: ‘The fate of our literary culture is sealed’  – Guardian. “The NBA itself was part of a government subsidy system that included preferential tax rates for newsprint, public libraries and even the grants awarded university students from poorer backgrounds – all of it was based on the assumption that the cultural value of reading and writing wasn’t reducible to its economic worth. Nowadays all we can say about the production and consumption of the written word is that it is subject to exactly the same iron laws of supply and demand as every other widget or pixel”


  • ‘Library of Things’ seeks to expand non-book offerings at Sacramento Public Library – Sacramento Business Journal (USA). “Sacramento Public Library is seeking public input for the creation of a “Library of Things” — a system that would allow patrons to borrow an expanded list of items other than books. The library already offers some non-media items, ranging from electronic readers to energy meters, that patrons can borrow. But the Library of Things would create even more options. Through Nov. 14, people can submit ideas and vote on selections online. So far, suggestions include items such as sewing machines, wearable fitness trackers and design software.”
  • Nashville Library video spoofs ‘All About That Bass’ – Tennesseean USA). “Several of Nashville Public Library’s staffers and supporters got together recently at the downtown branch to record an acoustic cover of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” They tweaked the lyrics so that the song focuses on books, not backsides.” [superb, actually – Ed.]
  • Norway national library’s amazing automated book sorting system – Holy Kaw (Norway). Video showing the massively automated book shelving / sorting system in the National Library of Norway [Why does this remind me of the Matrix? – Ed.]
  • Puppeteers seek to revitalize the library experience – CBS (USA). The last known full-time public library puppeteering team puts on 24 shows per week in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Small project of the 2014 award goes to a community library with a rooftop playground – De Zeen (China). “The twisted wooden roof of the structure extends out to meet the pavement, creating a surface that visitors can walk over and that children can play on, overlooking a new basketball court.”
  • This Is The Apple Store Of Libraries – Fast Codesign(Canada). “Plans for a new lending library in Calgary, Canada, might just make hanging out at the public library cool. Designed by Snøhetta, an architecture firm whose very first commission was a library, this 240,000-square-foot center will be more than just a repository for plastic-protected books. Twice as large as Calgary’s existing public library, it’s designed to be both a circulating public library and a community gathering space, a combination bookstore/computer lab/cafe/event space/social hub that provides a pathway between two disconnected neighborhoods.”

“Though digital technology hasn’t killed the physical book (yet), libraries are no longer just about circulating books. As a result, library design has to become more people-centric. Many people might have an easier time procuring a book instantly via Kindle, or ordering it online. The great libraries of the future will be about creating appealing, comfortable gathering spaces where people want to hang out, rather than being the place you go to hastily grab the musty tome you couldn’t find on Amazon and flee. And when it comes to making things (and places) cool, Apple’s isn’t the worst model to follow.”

UK local news by authority

  • Brent – Brent Libraries Figures for the Half Year up to September – James Powney’s Blog. “Both loans and visits show significant growth, which confirms the most recent full year data, here.  The 42% growth in visits is largely driven by Wembley Library, which is really coming into its own. I suspect that the next CIPFA comparison will show it as one of the most popular libraries in London when it next comes out. However, the 7.4% rise in book loans cheers me more as hitherto loan figures were not as good as I hoped despite our strategy ring fencing the book fund for Brent.” see also Wembley Library as a Successful Example of Co-location – James Powney’s Blog.

“I get the impression that some people simply can’t accept that Brent libraries are a success, whatever the evidence.  They are.  Across England and Wales most libraries are seeing declining loans and visits. Ours are going up.  Brent libraries upward trajectory is all the more remarkable given that the Willesden service is currently an interim one.  The big rise in Brent library usage is achieved by a lot of hard working library staff following a good strategy.  Why not just acknowledge that?” James Powney

  • Croydon/Lambeth – Meeting to safeguard Upper Norwood Library, Oct 13 – Inside Croydon. “With local authorities, including Lambeth and Croydon councils, having to make further cuts in public spending – by as much as 25 per cent – here Robert Gibson calls for more public help to keep Upper Norwood Library operating.We have seen how easy it was for Bromley to snuff out Anerley Library. But we also know that when under attack, Crystal Palace rolls with the punches and comes back stronger.”
  • Derbyshire – Derbyshire County Council: mobile library may stay – Uttoxeter Advertiser. One mobile library may be saved. “Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet is to consider proposals to maintain the service after feedback found 8,000 people wanted it maintained.”
  • Devon – Axminster: Can county lifeline keep qualified staff at library – View from online. “Earlier this year, DCC proposed to make a string of libraries, including Axminster, second-tier, volunteer-led facilities without professional librarians as part of a £1.5 million cost-cutting exercise. Local residents set up a campaign group – Support for Axminster Library – to fight the proposal and the subsequent DCC consultation exercise attracted about 6,000 responses countywide, 633 of them concerning Axminster Library. As a result, DCC bosses had a rethink … next month the council’s Cabinet will consider plans for a new operating model for the entire library service.”
  • East Sussex – Speaking volumes – “Speaking Volumes is a storytelling project that allows the voices of hidden, stigmatised and marginalised people to be heard. We are currently working with HIV positive people to enable them to share their experiences of living with the condition.” Imaginative travelling display.
  • Herefordshire – DIY libraries taking off in Herefordshire – Hereford Times. “The Prices are lifelong literature lovers and mum Ceri said that growing up libraries were just something that she took for granted. And, worried about the “huge impact” library closures could have, she decided to set up her own kids’ library at the family’s Church Barn Farm Shop, near Whitney-on-Wye.”.  IT and children’s events planned.  Also, “Sarah Bentley has set up Hereford’s first ‘Little Free Library’ – a charitable initiative that has spread throughout the world, involving people setting up small, permanent bookshelves in public places so people can borrow books. “

“We grew up in mid Wales and always used the library service as children, and I suppose took it for granted. “I think we have always just assumed libraries would be safe as the impact of closing them would be huge.” The family have run the Church Barn Farm Shop since 2011, and part of that shop will be converted into the new library.”

  • Kirklees – Libraries petition hits 2,500 – Batley and Birstall News. “The Hands off Cleckheaton Public Library petition has more than 2,500 signatures and Coun Kath Pinnock, who helped start the campaign, said she is thrilled with its popularity. She said: “The library is such an important part of our history and our heritage, and it would be such a shame to see it go.”
  • Leicestershire – A partnership to save our libraries – Leicester Mercury. Decides that best way forward is for volunteers and parish councils etc to support libraries. “So this is plea to all those parish councils and community groups, and the people who have written to the Mercury or other media to get together with the county council in a constructive discussion to find a better way forward – in partnership between staff and volunteers.”
  • Leicestershire – County Council challenged to rethink Library Closure Plan – savings from cuts may have to be paid back to the Lottery – Liberal Democrats. “The County Council is asking fro volunteers to run these libraries but if volunteers can’t be found they will be closed. At the County Council meeting held on Wednesday Michael Mullaney asked the County Cabinet Member in charge of libraries to rethink the plans. Michael Mullaney said “Libraries are an extremely important local community facility, to close them would be a really backward step.”

“”The whole plans do not make financial sense. The County Council expect to make £800,000 from the transfer or closure of these Libraries. However, one of the Libraries threatened with closure, Newbold Verdon, had a £781,402 grant from the Big Lottery Fund. If the County Council closes it they may have to pay back all or some of that money, making the closure programme pointless. It is worrying that the County Council still can’t say how much they will have to pay back the Big Lottery Fund if they close Newbold Verdon Library”.”

  • Lincolnshire – Libraries: About time councillor resigned – Guardian Series / Letter. “Having wrecked the library system, I am amazed that we are yet again, to undergo a second public ‘consultation’ in 12 months. This time the latest scheme is privatisation! Why bother. Why not do exactly what was done last time, ignore the findings and carry on with what you were going to do anyway?”
  • Newcastle – High Heaton Library to reopen on Monday after successful campaign against cuts – Chronicle. “High Heaton Library in Newcastle was facing closure after council cuts to the library service in 2012 put it under threat. However Newcastle College has come to the rescue by deciding to run some of its classes for students from the building, meaning that the library service can stay open for local residents. It will be open again from Monday, October 6. There will also be a new under-5s group called Library Cubs run by the Sure Start Woodlands centre staff on the first Tuesday of every month between 10am and 11am. A new 50p drinks machine has also been purchased to help reinstate the library as a community hub. Angela Mackenzie, who helps run the community association the Friends of High Heaton Library, said: “We are very grateful to Newcastle College for keeping the library open.”
  • North Yorkshire – A short History of Derwent Valley BRIDGE Community Library – Public Libraries News. A look into how the group came about and it’s relations with the council. The group has become the first volunteer library to win a Duke of York Community Initiative Award.

A wonderful and well deserved achievement. I believe Derwent Valley Bridge will be the first community library nationwide to achieve the Duke of York’s accolade – it’s been justifiably hailed as an exemplar and all the signs are that its format will be replicated in the future, certainly in North Yorkshire.Thanks to everyone for all their hard work over the past two years”. Cllr David Jeffels

  • Northern Ireland – Civil disobedience may be only way – Derry Journal. “Mass civil disobedience may in the end be the only way to curtail the raft of cuts impacting on people’s lives, Eamonn McCann has said. The veteran civil rights campaigner was speaking to the Journal during a protest outside the Central Library over planned cuts totalling £1.4m to the service’s budget.”

“If you come into this library in Foyle Street after 3pm you won’t get a seat in any of the computer terminals where you get large numbers of students and people filling out applications. These are sort of community centres. “We are also here to say there should be resistance and protest to every cut that comes along. A Labour government is not going to change things, the one thing that has got any hope of success will be people coming out and protesting.”

  • Northern Ireland – Lisnaskea’s new £1.2m library safe from cuts – Fermanagh Herald. “the capital budget for Lisnaskea is a project specific earmarked allocation and as such is not impacted by any savings delivery plans. Completion is scheduled for mid- February next year. “
  • Peterborough – 5,100 respond to Peterborough library and community centre consultation – Peterborough Telegraph. “Councillors are strugging to deal with a £19 million shortfall in this year’s budget and have flagged up possible changes at the city’s five libraries and 41 community centres. But councillors have been left with a headache after receiving what is thought to be the largest response to a public consultation. Some 5,100 responses have been received.”
  • Swindon – Jim Robbins: West Swindon Library is under threat – South Swindon Labour. “Following the Tory Administration’s decision to lease of the Link Centre and the other leisure facilities in the town, West Swindon Library is under threat. GLL, the new operators, have announced that they want to move the West Swindon Library from its current position at the heart of Link Centre to an as yet undisclosed location upstairs, hidden away from view, so that they can use the prime location downstairs for a Gym.”
  • Worcestershire – Former worker of the year now faces losing job – Redditch Standard. “Ms Edkins has worked at the library since 2006 and has been widely credited with transforming the services on offer, particularly the way she has built links with children, young people and residents by listening to their views and using feedback to provide new projects. Five years ago she won the prestigious national Council Worker of the Year award.” … “Residents are now being urged to bombard Worcestershire County Council with letters of support for Woodrow Library manager Steph Edkins (pictured) in a bid to force them to ditch a proposal which could see her job go.”