Libraries are no longer about “shush” and about telling people what to read … many librarians, myself included, care a great deal about keeping their libraries buzzing, with stock that the public wants to read as well as stock that the public should read.  And that, if we’re not careful, could cause us a great of support. My experience at the Battle of Ideas conference held at the Barbican over the weekend was that some of the key things that people value about libraries is quiet and quality bookstock and that, if we don’t have that, then they’re not so bothered about us closing because we’re not so much use to them any more.  The session lasted 90 minutes and attacked a pile of public library orthodoxies, mainly I suspect because it was not for and by public librarians.  Read my notes and thoughts on the day here.  I have heard complaints from users too much about the noise to wave away such complaints as middle class prejudices. There is a problem about noise in many of our libraries and we are failing in one our unique selling points if we ignore it.

I was surprised to see that Annie Mauger will be leaving her post as chief executive of CILIP early next year.  I know that the leadership of CILIP over the last few years has not had the easiest of rides, especially at AGMs (rebranding … Vaizey no confidence vote … governance) and I guess I could go on for a while giving a review of the “the Mauger years”.  I wont’ do so now but one key thing springs to mind: that the last five years have hopefully put CILIP on to a financial footing where they will hopefully survive … and a body like CILIP is very useful for public libraries when it comes to all sorts of things such as representation, publicity and advocacy.  But, like a library, it’s of no use if it’s not there any more.



  • Autumn 2014 Newsletter for Public Libraries – JCS. Find My Past, British Newspaper Archive, etc.
  • Future of the Book – Economist. Lavish article on the future of the book, electronic and print.
  • Inside a book therapy session: a novel cure? – Channel Four News. “Here in the UK, a scheme set up a year ago to prescribe self-help books to people with mild to moderate mental health issues has been a hit: 275,000 people have borrowed books from their library as part of the Reading Well: Books on Prescription scheme. Loans of the books on the list, which is vetted by health professionals, have doubled since the scheme – a partnership between the Society of Chief Librarians, the Reading Agency and the Arts Council – was launched, and a new version for dementia patients will be launched in January 2015. Bibliotherapy is also a growing concept – where therapists, usually literature experts, suggest books to help people through issues in their lives. Watch the video below to see how a session works.”
  • Mauger to leave CILIP – BookSeller. “Annie Mauger is leaving her role as chief executive of CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, after more than 20 years in the library sector. Mauger will take on a new role as director of national business units at the Chartered Institute of Housing, based in Scotland. Her final date at CILIP will be 30th January 2015, and CILIP will begin recruitment for a new chief executive.”
  • Ministers don’t ‘get’ culture, says 2012 Games scriptwriter – Telegraph. “Cottrell-Boyce, who was born and is based in Liverpool, is also backing a campaign criticising the Government’s cuts to libraries. “Imperial Britain was built on the playing fields of Eton. “Innovative, creative, generous Britain – the Britain of Tim Berners-Lee and of the Beatles, of Alan Turing and JK Rowling – was forged in her public libraries. Now Eton is closing the libraries,” he said.”
  • Old-fashioned libraries are what we need? Thoughts on the Battle of Ideas public libraries debate, 19th October 2014 – Public Libraries News.
  • Open Book Theatre Dracula production touring London libraries. “Open Book Theatre Company was founded in 2013 by Nicky Diss, Vicky Gaskin and Eleanor Cope. Concerned by the exclusive nature of modern theatre, the funding cuts for libraries and the decrease in public usage of them, they decided that staging theatrical interpretations of classic novels in library spaces would be a fantastic way to inspire passion for literature, theatre and the libraries themselves.”
  • Public libraries play a central role in providing access to data and ensuring the freedom of digital knowledge – London School of Economics Impact Blog. “Ben Lee argues that not only do libraries provide free access to data, but they do so in an environment which is trustworthy and neutral, geared to learning. Access to digital technology increasingly overlaps with access to opportunity and it is important to recognise the role public libraries already play (and have always played) in keeping the gate to knowledge open.” … “Just as books were unaffordable for many families in 1852, today it is data which is too expensive for those on the lowest incomes.  According to OFCOM average household spend on fixed broadband is now £16 a month and another £15 on mobile phones.” … ” I urge sceptics who dismiss public libraries to consider the evidence of the need for free neutral access to digital knowledge and the role public libraries already play (and have always played) in keeping the gate to knowledge open. And to those who value libraries but instinctively seek to protect the bookshelves more than the broadband I urge them to remember what the first public libraries were for, and for whom.”
  • Riba Stirling Prize 2014: Birmingham Library is your favourite – BBC. 30% of those who took part voted for Library of Birmingham in an open public vote, 10% voted for the eventual winner, Liverpool Everyman Theatre.
  • The emergence of the counter-free bank branch – BBC. “With fewer visits to branches needed, banks might decide to “pop up” once a week in libraries, or via banks on wheels.”


  • Halifax Central Library: virtual tour parts I + II – Youtube. Ten minute video guide to the Canadian library that looks on a par with the new Manchester and perhaps the new Birmingham Libraries.  Notable differences include the automatic book return machine and the concentration on children’s/teen areas [notably lacking to my mind at least in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester – Ed.].
  • What do Academic librarians envy about Public Librarianship? – Reddit (USA). Public librarians envy the higher pay, tenure, conferences etc of academic librarians.  Academic librarians envy the events and freedom to buy books that public librarians have.

UK by local authority

The Library of Birmingham used as the icon of the city: on half-marathon shirt

The Library of Birmingham used as the icon of the city: on half-marathon shirt

Birmingham – Shortfall of private investment in Library of Birmingham – Birmingham Post. “Private sector investment and sponsorship for the iconic Library of Birmingham could fall £713,000 short of the projected target this year, leaving bosses looking for further savings. The Library of Birmingham Development Trust, the facility’s charity fundraising arm, has reported that it may fall short of a its target of £1,075,000 this year … The library already costs around £10 million a year to run, as well as £12 million a year repayments on loans to cover the £187 million construction costs.”.  Conservative (now opposition) councillors says ““I established the trust, as a charity, to run the library on the city’s behalf with the support of generous people – there would be freedom for the trust in how that funding would be used. That was the model and we had people lined up on that basis. But I believe that is no longer the model and that now the library and trust are being run as an extension of the council. It is very sad if philanthropy is being curtailed by a prescriptive relationship with the city council. The original concept has been watered down.”

“The budget saving was agreed without knowing the actual running costs of the new library or the fund raising potential of the trust. This figure was a ‘leap of faith’ when the council the budget in February and can now be seen as an error of judgement. We would be concerned that any shortfall in funds raised is likely to be met by direct cuts to library services.” Friends of the Libraries of Birmingham

  • Brent – Asset of Community Value bid for axed library in Wembley – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Library campaigners are set to lodge a bid to have an axed branch in Wembley listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) … The move is aimed to bring community group Friends of Preston Library (FoPL) a step closer to operating a community run reading room at the defunct site in Carlton Avenue East.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Leave children’s library services alone – Argus. “should children’s events and activities, currently free of charge, even be up for debate? Children who use libraries are twice as likely to become above average readers. And literacy can affect health, confidence and employability for a lifetime. So anything that encourages children to use libraries, and gets them and their parents through the door, is a good thing. £1.50 per child for half-an-hour of Baby Boogie may not seem like much for a fun-filled session of good old-fashioned nursery rhymes. But what if you’ve got two or three children?”
  • Bromley – Beckenham’s Baroness Benjamin opens new Penge library – News Shopper. “Beckenham’s Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE was on hand to cut the ribbon at a ceremony on Thursday … It opened to the public in August and Bromley Council says it has already seen “significant increases” in membership and visitor numbers. It replaces two old libraries in Penge and Anerley, which closed in the summer. Television personality and author Baroness Benjamin read to local children at the event and was joined by members of the council.”
  • Calderdale – Future of Brighouse buildings in doubt after proposals are revealed – Brighouse Echo. “Deputy leader of the Council, Coun Scott Benton, said: “We were genuinely shocked to see the sheer scale of the asset disposal programme that the previous Labour administration were looking at.”
  • Cornwall – Camborne library must remain in the town centre councillors say – West Briton. Cornwall Councils says  “We will be contacting all town councils across Cornwall to discuss the possibility of them taking over responsibility for their local library, but this is being done gradually over the next two years because of capacity to do the work.
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Study reveals Dumfries and Galloway library visit decline – BBC. “attendance at local libraries has dropped by 11.5% since 2009. Of comparable local areas, only the Scottish Borders has a worse rate of decline. An improvement programme has been put in place in a bid to try to address the trend … The data is to be examined in more detail in an effort to develop an improvement plan.”

“We can confirm that there have been no redundancies of front line staff employed since we began operating libraries in Greenwich from May 2012, and there are still several posts being actively recruited for. The number of casual workers within Greenwich libraries has in fact decreased by 5% since GLL took over the contract. We are committed to offering more, better-paid jobs to front line workers and over the period, we have up-skilled the service and improved career paths for our staff. We have also increased library opening hours. Ferrier Library was closed prior to the handover to GLL, and the mobile service continues to operate as normal. GLL are awaiting the outcome of national pay negotiations prior to setting its localised pay rate.” Greenwich: GLL reaction to Librarians on strike over staff cuts, reduction of service and pay – Union Solidarity International.

  • Leeds – Leeds: Cutting of hours ‘key to survival of libraries’ – Yorkshire Evening Post. “Leeds City Council’s cabinet has just approved plans for a shake-up which will cut the combined weekly opening times of 33 of the city’s 36 libraries by 187 hours, or 12 per cent. It will save the council £300,000 a year.”
  • Leicestershire – Letter writer has concerns over future of the library service – Leicester Mercury. “My understanding of a consultation is that it seeks ideas and feedback and incorporates these into policies and plans. This has not been the case with the consultation on libraries – and the agenda of this scrutiny meeting suggests the consultation has indeed always been a “done deal” … “The consultation presented only one option – for communities to take over the running of libraries, or face losing them – which is blackmail. There are no true choices being presented here – this was no consultation.”
  • Lincolnshire – Drunks, abuse, needles and perverts… The trials of being a librarian in Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire Echo. “Incidents logged by library staff from the past three years include numerous occasions of staff having to escort drunks out of the building, as well as used needles being dumped on the floor. On one occasion, staff even caught a man masturbating over a video of a mother breast feeding. Librarians have also had to deal with aggressive and verbally abusive members of the public. In total, there have been 623 incidents in the last three years – as well as 73 between April and August this year.”
  • Lincolnshire – Letter: We have a chance to save our libraries – Lincolnshire Echo. “would like to urge all readers to respond to the latest consultation on the future of libraries. It asks for alternative ways to savethe £2 million required to keep libraries open. This is a difficult thing for lay people with little knowledge of county budgets to suggest but, if people are unsure how to respond to LCC’s consultation, they shouldn’t do nothing … Book lovers, if you value your libraries, don’t let them think we’ve given up! We have a second chance – let’s use it”
  • Lincolnshire – Axe the county hall Pravda to save cash – Lincolnshire Echo. “Cllr Worth allegedly expresses his admiration of “the willingness of communities and volunteers to work with us in developing a network of community hubs” while insisting that closing all but 10 of our libraries was acceptable because so few of those ‘willing’ communities actually wanted or used one”.  He “fails to explain how reaching only 74 per cent of residents could be considered either comprehensive or efficient.” … “he tries to give the impression that one, lone maverick citizen succeeded, beyond reason, in overthrowing all his excellent plans: “…a member of the public objected to the proposals, which were then brought before the court”. Surely a democratically-elected councillor should be the first to recognise the concept of the representative, standing for and standing up for a much larger group.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lbrary is its own 40-year success story – Lincolnshire Free Press. “Crowland Library – one of the first volunteer partnerships in the county – is celebrating four decades in its current purpose-built premises. Its anniversary is on Saturday, when it will also share its celebrations with the charity Crowland Cares, which has been based there for seven years, almost to the day.”
  • Lincolnshire – Millions to be slashed – services will be axed – Lincolnshire Free Press. “Coun Phil Dilks, from Deeping 
St James, says the Tories 
have already decimated youth services and are poised to 
destroy libraries … “This [cuts in real income] hits Lincolnshire families harder than most as we have one of the lowest skilled, lowest paid workforces in the county – a good reason to invest in libraries to encourage life-long learning.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Community enterprise aiming for new chapter for libraries in North East Lincolnshire – Grimsby Telegraph. The “group aiming to take over the running of libraries at Grant Thorold in Grimsby and Humberston have invited residents to pledge their support to keep the libraries open. Your Community Hub, which was started by husband and wife team Nathan and Melissa Taylor and friend Emma Harper have a Facebook page.”
  • Northern Ireland – Warning over future of local branch libraries – Larne Times. “The stark crisis caution comes from NIPSA spokesman John McKeegan, who said a recent £1.4 million budget could be the beginning of the end for some smaller libraries. “Since it was formed in 2009, Libraries NI have already had to oversee restructuring of the service, there has been a round of voluntary redundancies and a review which resulted in the closure of some libraries,””
  • Oxfordshire – Elite writers speak up for their library in Summertown – Oxford Times. “Christopher Gray on the literary locals who have booked in for Stepping In: Making a Difference to Our Library. A rallying call to help a library is always likely to gain the support of writers. And with so many of these in Oxford, the campaign to help Summertown Library was hopefully not going to lack high-profile helpers. In fact, a line-up of writers fit to headline at any top literary festival will take to the North Wall stage for Stepping In: Making a Difference to Our Library. All novelists, they enthusiastically responded to a request for help from one of their number, Tim Pears. Only thing is, he has no idea what Mark Haddon, Margaret Drabble and Barbara Trapido — all of them ‘locals’ — will be doing.”
  • Powys – Hay-on-Wye’s library to see cutbacks – BookSeller.
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Catrin Collier, Roy Noble and Martyn Geraint light up Rhydyfelin Library’s literature and laughs festival – Wales Online. “Rhydyfelin Library was packed to the rafters for its ‘literature and laughs’ festival with special guests Catrin Collier, Martyn Geraint and Roy Noble. In August, Rhydyfelin Library Support Group revealed 100 new borrowers had used the service since its doors reopened on June 16, after council leader Andrew Morgan implemented a U-turn on its agreed closure. Two months on, committee members were delighted as its three-day festival has proved a lively and popular affair, with primary and secondary schools joining esteemed guests throughout.”
  • Sandwell – Final chapter beckons for three Oldbury libraries – Halesowen News. “The future of Langley, Brandhall and Rounds Green libraries are all in doubt along with Tividale’s Oakham and West Bromwich’s Hill Top libraries. A series of public consultation meetings starts next week where the council claim library users will have a say on the fate of the libraries.”
  • Sheffield – MPs clash over Sheffield’s funding cuts – Star. “Mr Clegg told Deputy Prime Minister’s questions that reductions had been spread across the country as fairly as possible based on greatest need – and expressed ‘dismay’ at Sheffield Council relinquishing control of libraries when other councils had not.”
  • Stoke – Town receives community literary boost after closure of Fenton Library two years ago Stoke Sentinel. “Glebe Academy, in Fenton, has secured a £9,795 lottery grant to build a library that will benefit the whole of the community. The news will be welcomed by residents, who are working to take back the former Fenton Library building after it closed as part of a programme of cut backs by Stoke-on-Trent City Council. Along with the library, the school is planning to create an IT resource area and a parent training centre to encourage family learning.”


“With the demise of the local library, we felt it was really important to have a library that was community-based and we hope it reaches far beyond the pupils.”

  • Vale of Glamorgan – Public views sought on future of Vale libraries – Barry and District News. “The public consultation phase of the proposed changes to the Vale of Glamorgan’s library service is now underway and the council are asking for your views. Facing significant financial pressure in the face of funding cuts, the Vale of Glamorgan Council needs to make £32million saving over the next three years. As part of a council-wide reshaping of services, plans have been drawn up to change the way libraries across the Vale operate and make them “financially viable”.”
  • Worcestershire – County Council leaders back next round of money saving cuts – Worcester News. “Cllr Lucy Hodgson, cabinet member with responsibility for localism and communities, enforced the importance of volunteers getting involved as they had done successfully with many county libraries – meaning none have been closed as yet. And added councillors should also be skilled. “
  • Worcestershire – New home for Music Library – Worcester News. “More than 400 crates of music, which were originally housed in the basement of Worcester Library in Foregate Street, have been transported to the new site … In 2012, Worcestershire County Council joined forces with the Elgar School of Music and their team of dedicated volunteers and for the last two years the school has run and maintained the service with the council providing both technical and staff support.” Council says “Without this support and commitment the music library would not have been able to continue”