One of the more interesting things happening at the moment in libraryland is putting virtual bookshelves in public places.  Titles on these “bookshelves” are often accessed by QR codes and are then downloaded on to the user’s device.  Sara Wingate Grey of Artefacto caught my interest with a “Library Wall” that she helped design that is attracting attention in Haringey.  Read her post for more information.  I especially like the way that the “Wall” tweets what people has borrowed from it. Anyway, I got into contact with Sara and she answered a few of my questions.  Here they are:

That's not a shelf of print books, you know

That’s not a shelf of print books, you know

Q. Do you have the copyright free ebooks on a website somewhere to allow download?  If so, are you able to give me the address?  Is it via something like Gutenberg or GitHub instead?

A. You’re right that we’re hosting the specific Library Wall content – we got the original source texts from various PD sources we found available online (see my blogpost) and then spent time (a lot of time, it turned out) creating epub files suitable for download. We’re not intending that where we’re hosting the content be accessed except by mobile device when Library Wall is scanned at point of access, and the book downloaded as an epub file then (or bookmarked to save for later etc.) so there’s no web address to give out.

Q. Also do you have a LibraryBox or something hiding behind there too to offer the download and/or connectivity for those without smartphones?

A. No. You’re right that a LibraryBox would have enabled those with an electronic device eg. tablet, phone, laptop, to logon and grab any books we provided on that network, but this would make then make interaction with the actual physical Library Wall irrelevant and not really required, and so for this, and the reasons detailed above we did not go down this route this time.

Q. I’m also curious about where the funding is coming from.

A. Only the materials for the project were funded, and Kate and myself (working as Artefacto) and all those who collaborated with us in various degrees gave their time freely. The materials fund came from Haringey Arts (again, see blogpost for more details). We’re really happy to talk to anyone who’s interested in Library Wall, our aim for the project was just to demonstrate what it’s possible to imagine (and then go and #makeithappen!)


UK national news

  • Libraries impact on mental health – loans of Reading Well Books on Prescription titles double in first year – Reading Agency. English public libraries have reported major success in supporting people’s Loans of self-help books in the ground-breaking scheme have more than doubled it was announced today for World Mental Health Day.” … “GPs and health professionals can prescribe books, but they are also available for anyone to borrow from their local library. Whilst there are around 7,000 prescribers using the scheme, 80% of people who borrowed a book had self-referred by picking up a leaflet, often in their local library. All the evidence suggests it has definitely helped. In a recent survey, nearly everyone who had borrowed a book from the Reading Well Books on Prescription core list of 30 titles said it had been helpful. With evidence showing that self-help reading can benefit people with certain mental health conditions, around three quarters of people surveyed said their book had helped them understand more about their condition and feel more confident about managing their symptoms.”
  • Literary heroes fight over nation’s heart – Herald Scotland. “Book Week Scotland is looking for the nation’s favourite literary character as part of this year’s celebrations. The programme which runs from November 24 to 30, also features hundreds of free events across the country, a giveaway of free books and the unveiling of five large art installations. The event has the work of libraries as its focus, and readers will also be asked to write a “love letter” to their local library.” see also Library at the art of the community – Kirkintilloch Herald. “Lennoxtown has been selected as one of five libraries across the country to benefit from a new permanent artwork as part of Book Week Scotland 2014.”

“A book borrowed, kindly given.
A book swapped, loved, exchanged.
A book you will always hand back.
A book is a coat for your mind.”

part of Dear Library by Jackie Kay

  • Politics and the art of persuasion – Guardian / Public Leaders Network. “Officers must understand the political reality in which members have to operate. My head of service once masterminded the award of a significant government grant to our authority, to upgrade a dozen libraries. However, when the list of libraries that would benefit was presented to the cabinet member, they rejected it. They wanted to ensure that the benefits went to libraries in the ward where their political party had a sitting member. They were less keen on money being spent in other wards. The political reality may mean that the business case is not always the most important concern.”
  • Wales council funding cuts 2015-16 – BBC. “Council cash to pay for services like bin collections, libraries and leisure centres has been cut by £146m next year. Council leaders, who have been warning budget reductions could hit services, have been told they will see between 2.4% and 4.5% less in their budgets for 2015/16 as set by the Welsh government.”


  • A Good, Dumb Way to Learn From Libraries – Chronicle of Higher Education. “privacy concerns have forestalled making library usage data available to application developers outside the library staff, and often even within. And the data are the definition of incompatible: Libraries collect them in different formats at different levels of granularity and at different time scales, making them hard to work with. But suppose we could get at it. Library search engines could be tuned to what’s shown itself to be relevant to their communities. Researchers could explore usage patterns over time and across disciplines, schools, geographies, and economies. Libraries could be guided in their acquisitions by what they’ve learned from the behavior of communities around the corner and around the globe.” … “Any library that would like to make its usage data public is encouraged to create a “stackscore” for each item in its collection”
  • Call for proposals – Public Libraries 2020. “We will support advocacy projects at any level (local, national or international) that outline services that public libraries provide in the areas of social inclusion, digital inclusion or lifelong learning … You can apply for a grant of up to 15,000.00 euro …  We will invite public libraries, public library associations and other organizations working with public libraries in one or more of the EU 28 countries to apply.”
  • JukePop Wants To Bring Indie Titles To More Libraries – Fast Company (USA). “JukePop, an analytics and distribution platform for independent authors, is hoping to chip away at the discoverability problem by partnering up with libraries. The startup piloted a program with the Santa Clara County library system, making 1,000 e-books available to the library for free. On Tuesday, it launched a Kickstarter campaign to expand its program to more libraries across the country. “There’s some key reasons why libraries haven’t been able to jump on the e-books wagon,” JukePop cofounder Jerry Fan told Fast Company. “A large part of that is because it takes a lot of infrastructure to set up some sort of repository for e-books.”
  • Instead, JukePop is building out the infrastructure and hosting the books itself, requiring no resources on the libraries’ part.”
  • Not Your Mother’s Library – Atlantic.  Two very revealing word clouds show what people associate with the library of their childhood and the library of today.  Also looks at the very impressive Columbus Ohio library.
  • Public Libraries are a Good Investment – Re-elect Karen Farbridge Mayor (Canada). “The Guelph Public Library spends almost 87% of its operating budget buying goods and services from local Guelph businesses. That’s a return of between $4 and $6 for every municipal dollar invested in the library. And almost 90% of GPL employees live in the city of Guelph. Public libraries connect us to one another”
  • Public libraries are beating out Amazon as a marketing vehicle – SirsiDynix (USA). “For decades, a duel of “libraries vs. the machine” might have been a more apt title for the relationship between software and libraries. However, it appears that many public institutions are using technological advancements in their favor and even beating out tech industry giants in the process – namely, Amazon.” … “Another thing many libraries conquered was user-friendliness. In many of these public libraries, all you need is your library card number, a PIN for the e-book collection and a quick search through the catalog. No need for payment information. No need for a billing address. A few clicks and you are reading your favorite book on your iPad.”

UK local news by authority

  • Bridgend – Libraries launch Orange Wallet Scheme – Bridgend Council. “Called the ‘Orange Wallet Scheme’, the service provides people with a free wallet that is easily recognisable by specially-trained staff at Arriva Train Wales, First Cymru, Stagecoach, Cardiff Bus, Newport Bus and Arriva Bus. The wallet enables staff to identify that an individual has difficulty in communicating and will require some help, and features plastic pockets where interchangeable words and pictures can be inserted and then shown to help communicate a person’s needs.” … “Orange wallets are available, free of charge, at all libraries throughout the Bridgend County Borough. All members of the public have to do is speak to a member of staff at any of the libraries who will happily provide them with an orange wallet. Alternatively, orange wallets can also be obtained from the mobile library and housebound service.”
  • Denbighshire – Fears that cutting archive office days will hurt town – Free Press. “The service is used by many people to trace their family trees and research local history. The archive currently opens four days a week to the public but the council is looking at cutting this to two days.”
  • Devon – Appledore author gives ‘two cheers’ to libraries consultation report – North Devon Journal. “Devon-based author Nick Arnold, who has been closely involved with every stage of the consultation process as Chairman of the Friends of Appledore Library and founder of the Devon Libraries network, is cautious in his response to the report.” … ““I’m giving two cheers for this. One cheer for abandoning the unrealistic idea floated at the start of the consultation of expecting communities to staff smaller libraries and find 50% of their running costs while making smaller savings on the far more uneconomic larger libraries. “This was wrong on many levels and would never have worked. “The second cheer is for bold thinking aimed at saving costs and tackling the need to increase library usage in a fast-changing world. There are lots of good ideas here of which the best is undoubtedly free wi-fi in all Devon libraries. This is something we need yesterday.” In 2006 Nick led the campaign that saved Appledore Library from closure and in 2012 undertook an ambitious library refurbishment. Nick added: “The missing third cheer is because many important questions remain unanswered. For example, staff security and pensions in the event of a transfer of staff to a mutual, the high running costs of the larger libraries.”
  • Devon – Kingskerswell bookworms support library – Torquay Herald Express. “Five-hundred residents have signed a petition to save the library from funding cuts proposed by Devon County Council. The campaign was the brainchild of both county councillor Alistair Dewhirst, Lib Dem member for Teignbridge South, and county and Kingskerswell councillor Sheila Cook.”
  • Devon – Library plans receive the go ahead by Councillors – Devon Council. “Devon County Councillors today agreed plans aimed at keeping all the Council’s libraries open and run by professional staff, despite significant reductions in the service’s budget.Members heard that Councils elsewhere have successfully transferred the delivery of their libraries to ‘mutuals’ or ‘trusts’ who run the libraries on the Councils’ behalf.” … “The plans, published last week, have been cautiously welcomed by those the Council has spoken to, and by all political parties, but the Council acknowledges that a lot of work now has to be done to gain a better understanding of how the changes can be implemented.”  see also Plans to keep Devon’s libraries open announced – North Devon Journal.
  • Gateshead – Gateshead library staff shouldering the burden of welfare changes Chronicle. “Gateshead Council leader, Mick Henry, plans to lobby Government on funding to libraries where staff are spending hours helping people claim benefits” … “Staff in Gateshead libraries are allegedly spending hours helping people to carry out job searches and fill in the online forms they are now required to complete by the Jobcentre Plus. Today leader of Gateshead Council, Mick Henry, is asking his fellow authority leaders across the North East to unite in lobbying Government to demand payment for the work they’re doing to help people cope with the digital changes to the welfare system.”

“It’s very easy to think that everybody has a computer but that is just not the case. We are finding that more and more people are actually using the library service to access job searches from what the statistics are showing us,”

  • Leeds – Reduced opening times are on the cards for Leeds libraries – Yorkshire Evening Post. “A report compiled for next Wednesday’s executive board meeting shows the shake-up would cut the combined weekly opening times of 33 libraries in Leeds by 187 hours, or 12 per cent. The hardest hit libraries would include Gildersome, with a reduction of 48 per cent, Whinmoor (33 per cent) and Dewsbury Road (23 per cent). Leeds Central Library would shut an hour earlier on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. No sites are due to close down completely. The report reveals the measures would save the Labour-run council around £300,000 per year.”
  • Leicestershire – Cash payback could wipe out all library closure savings – Hinckley Times. “Hinckley Liberal Democrats have revealed a Big Lottery Fund payout of £781,402 was handed to Newbold Verdon library – one of the village facilities facing the axe if volunteers don’t come forward to take over operations … Savings anticipated by closing rural libraries could be wiped out if a lottery grant given to a threatened site has to be paid back.” … ““It’s worrying the county still can’t say how much they will have to pay back the Big Lottery Fund if they close Newbold Verdon library.””
  • Leicestershire – Communities strategy considered – Loughborough Echo. ““We believe that communities can work with us to both help themselves and others and to run some of these services, such as libraries.  Town and parish councils are likely to play a crucial role in this.”
  • Lincolnshire – Councillor’s call for new libraries option to be considered – Louth Leader. “A Lincolnshire county councillor has called for the authority to look fairly at an alternative proposal put forward to keep all existing libraries openCounty Coun Steve Palmer, Lincolnshire Independent spokesman for libraries, wants all libraries to not only stay open, but kept in the control of the authority and run with professional staff.”
  • Liverpool – Authors fight to keep Liverpool’s libraries – BookSeller. “Authors Alan Gibbons and Cathy Cassidy have drawn up a petition against Liverpool Council’s planned closure of 11 out of its 19 libraries. Liverpool Council approved plans to close up to 11 libraries in August, hoping to save £2.5m. It will hold four consultation periods before making the final decision in November.  The petition currently has around 500 signatories, including famous Liverpudlians such as such as actor David Morrissey, screenwriter and producer Jimmy McGovern, and authors including Malorie Blackman, Caitlin Moran, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Barbara Taylor Bradford and David Nicholls. Includes full letter from Cathy Cassidy to mayor.
  • Liverpool – Save Liverpool Libraries – 38 Degrees. 11 year old has over 1600 signing petition. “Please please please support and help my to stop the libraries from closing in Liverpool. I couldn’t imagine how boring life would be if we had no books. Someone once said: “In the library one often finds, people close their mouths and open their minds””
  • Newcastle – Go Digital Newcastle: Connecting Our City’ project will work with government, local charities and community groups to allow digitally isolated residents to access online services and gain digital literacy skills – CILIP (press release). “The CILIP Information Literacy (IL) Group are giving £6000 to fund a pioneering scheme bringing together public and commercial organisations, local charities and community groups to create a digital support network for residents and businesses in Newcastle upon Tyne.” … “The CILIP Information Literacy Group launched a research bursary scheme in April 2014 at the national information literacy conference, LILAC. Funding of up to £10,000 is available to members of the group for outstanding project bids which push the boundaries of information literacy practitioner research into new and interesting territory and that have the potential to engage a wide audience.”
  • Norfolk – Council bosses insist that libraries will remain open – as donation boxes spark concern over their future – EDP. “Sarah Hassan, assistant head of the Norfolk Library and Information Service, said that the boxes were just one of a range of measures being considered. “Times are very hard and we are looking at a whole range of ways of bringing income to the service. The current council is committed to keeping libraries open. “However, we are living in challenging times and this financial year we have had to reduce the amount we spend” … “We have a volunteer promotion, we have over 800 volunteers and they do give a lot of value. They don’t take the place of staff but they do enable us to do things we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise”
  • Sheffield – Sheffield libraries row: government may intervene over volunteer takeover – Guardian. “Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, said: “The coalition government have breathtaking cheek. They have reduced the city council’s funding by £230m and next year matters get even worse. Council funding is now barely able to sustain basic statutory services for children and the elderly population. This is the direct consequences of the austerity programme and it is wishful thinking for people to believe that somehow there is no pain or impossible prioritisation.” Government intervention would reopen the row about who bears responsibility for cuts to local services. Sheffield council says it is on course to lose half of its government funding by next year.”

“Shame on the government who have deliberately cut money to local authorities whilst promoting the use of volunteers. We’ll keep our local library going and we’ll offer the very best service we can. The reason why 11 libraries in Sheffield will stay open is because retired library staff will make sure that this happens and Sheffield Libraries staff will be there to support us.” retired librarian “MCILIP”, one of 210 comments.

  • Staffordshire – Stafford Library’s move to a more modern building could cut jobs but pave the way for flagship status – Staffordshire Newsletter. The “proposed move of Stafford Library to a more modern building could enable it to become one of the county’s flagship centres – but jobs may be at risk. Plans to move the library from Shire Hall to Staffordshire Place are set to be determined by Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet on Wednesday, October 15. The move has sparked concern from some, including county councillor Maureen Compton, over how much of the library’s current provision would be moved to the new site. Floor space would be reduced by 32 per cent … the relocation could cut four full-time library assistant posts, as the three existing staff desks, one on each floor, would be reduced to just one.”