I’ve had various responses to the news that the Reading Agency’s annual lecture will be by Russell Brand.  The most common reaction is that he is way cool, funny and is bound to get the headlines … but there’s a strong minority (well, we are librarians) not impressed with his scandals and general demeanour.  Whatever, I think that no matter what he’s going to be good entertainment and is going to make headlines which reading surely needs.  Well done to the Reading Agency for getting him.  Now, let’s hope he isn’t so scandalous that I’ll have to eat my words.

A good piece also on social justice today. In these times where we can barely keep libraries staffed, where the majority of those librarians employed five years ago have probably left the profession and where volunteers are taking over branches, social justice is perhaps understandably not as high up the agenda as it once was.  It appears that many authorities consider it, consciously or otherwise, something that can be downplayed when the going gets tough.  We must ask ourselves if it is really the luxury that some of our (in)actions suggest it is.  There’s also the question of how aware of the issues those volunteers who are taking over libraries are.

Finally, I’ve been reading a lot about US librarians being strongly anti-surveillance and ensuring that the personal privacy of users (OK, customers.  OK, clients. Damn it, what should we call them?) is not abused by the police and others.  I wonder how many library workers are aware of the ethics of the profession. Are you? And do we ensure the police have a warrant? If you’re not sure of the situation, check out the CILIP Code of Professional Practice (D4 is the one).




  • Library A to Z and Book Week Scotland – 23 Librarians. “These both sound great ways of promoting the value of libraries and librarians – something which I like to thing 23 Librarians also does. Maybe there are future 23 Librarians contributors out there who would like to write about how they celebrated either or both of these events in their libraries? “
  • Quiet please: Clara Brennan’s play Spine speaks up for libraries – Guardian. ““Of course they want to close them down,” says one character in Spine of the nation’s rapidly disappearing libraries. “They’ve nothing for sale.” In one line, Clara Brennan’s play makes a damning swipe at the priorities of government and its distance from the public it supposedly represents. As library after library is forced to close its doors, the message from above seems to be that knowledge and the ordinary people who access it are less important than profit. “Four years later we’re still depressingly here,” says Brennan, making no secret of her disillusionment with the coalition government and its programme of austerity. Indeed, it was through one form of resistance to the austerity agenda that Spine initially emerged. First written as a 15-minute short for Theatre Uncut, a movement responding to current political events, that initial skeleton has since been fleshed out into a full, hour-long play.”
  • Riba Stirling Prize 2014: Library of Birmingham : Which Riba Stirling Prize 2014 building is your favourite? – BBC. “The Library of Birmingham opened in 2013 as a replacement for John Madin’s brutalist Central Library – a landmark that divided opinion on its style and was renowned for the difficulty of navigating it. The new building is at the cultural heart of the city. It shares an entrance way and performance studio with the neighbouring Repertory Theatre, and with the Symphony Hall and the National Indoor Arena nearby.” Includes chance to vote.
  • Russell Brand: a manifesto on reading – Reading Agency. The TRA annual lecture. “Russell Brand, the world renowned comedian, will deliver our 2014 lecture on 25 November at the Institute of Education. In his ‘manifesto on reading’, Brand will share his own experience of books and reading while growing up in the UK, and discuss his views on the status of reading and storytelling in our culture today” … Excerpts from Jeanette Winterson’s 2012 lecture can be found here. Neil Gaiman’s 2013 lecture can be viewed in full here.

Writing is the most intimate medium. Right there in the brain, in the swamp of fear and desire.  I like splashing about in there, stirring up sediment, doing the breaststroke. In this lecture I will try and drag this metaphor out for an hour.” Russell Brand

  • Society of Chief Librarians Supports UK Digital Inclusion Charter – Society of Chief Librarians. “The Society of Chief Librarians announced today that it is supporting the Government’s UK Digital Inclusion Charter by ensuring that public libraries have the staff and resources needed to help customers attain and improve their digital skills and capabilities. 11 million people in the UK are without basic digital skills and this digital exclusion is affecting all areas of their lives. SCL is one of a body of supporting organizations for the Charter, including CILIP, Tinder Foundation, Big Lottery Fund, Google and Talk Talk, among others.” … “Today public libraries across the UK launch a week of digital and online events aimed at helping both new and seasoned online users to make the most of the web and online resources. Get Online Week 2014 runs from 13 – 19 October with libraries hosting activities for everyone from complete novices to experienced coders. Get Online Week is managed by Tinder Foundation http://getonlineweek.com/ “
  • The Worst Thing About My Sister voted best ‘happy read’ by children: new poll results revealed – Reading Agency / Booktrade.info. “Young readers have voted The Worst Thing About My Sister by Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt the book that makes them happiest. It has topped a UK-wide online poll which celebrates the first-ever Chatterbooks Week (11-18 October) and all the fun to be had via national charity The Reading Agency’s ever-growing network of Chatterbooks reading groups for children.”
  • What about social justice? – Leon’s Library Blog. “The following is by John Vincent who is a tireless campaigner for promoting social justice through public libraries … the one issue which William Sieghart’s talk seemed to gloss over was the role of libraries in working towards social justice … if, ten years ago, you looked for examples of public library websites that strongly promoted their LGBT provision, there would have been many good examples. Today, there are hardly any … provision becoming something of a postcode lottery, particularly where libraries have been ‘cast adrift’ by their local authority, losing the steer that they had previously. Libraries must be properly funded and properly staffed if they are to take their rightful place in the struggle for social justice – and working towards social justice has to be their core aim. Without that, what is their purpose?”


  • Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? – New York Times (USA). ““The way the kids were staring at the screen, it seemed obvious they would learn better from the DVDs,” she said. But brain scans and language testing revealed that the DVD group “learned absolutely nothing,” Dr. Kuhl said. “Their brain measures looked just like the control group that had just been exposed to English. The only group that learned was the live social interaction group.””
  • Librarians on the vanguard of the anti-surveillance movement – Boing Boing (USA). “The American Library Association’s code of ethics demands that library professionals “protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality” and they’ve been taking that duty seriously since the first days of the Patriot Act. ” [For where UK librarians should stand on this, see CILIP code of ethics D4 – Ed.]
  • Library-Based Comic Conventions – Bleeding Cool (USA).  Praises the holding of conventions in public libraries.

UK local news by authority

  • Kirklees – Opposition councillors pledge to unite to save Golcar Library  Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Three local councillors (one Labour, two Lib Dem) unite to help save library: aim to find enough volunteers etc to run it when staff removed.
  • Lincolnshire – Libraries: Don’t let them think we’ve given up the fight – Lincolnshire Free Press. “I would like to urge all readers of the Spalding Guardian to respond to the latest consultation on the future of libraries. It asks for alternative ways to save the £2m 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 Lincolnshire County Council’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!”
  • Liverpool – Two dates left for library consultation meetings – Liverpool Express. “Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member responsible for libraries, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “Due to the scale of the cuts we face there will undoubtedly be some impact on certain venues and we want as many people as possible to be able to have their say on the future of our libraries. “We understand people will have strong views about libraries, and these meetings give residents the chance to talk about how they feel they will be affected by any service change, and make suggestions for the future of those libraries which are at risk.”
  • Northamptonshire – National Childbirth Trust in Northampton hoping to “plug gaps” in support services for parents – Northampton Chronicle. “Instead of running the centres on an individual basis, the charities plan to run the centres by looking at the needs of the areas they are located in as a whole. However, the council have said that they would help support ideas for extra non-specialist services to be provided through libraries where possible.”
  • Wandsworth – Leaked document reveals swingeing cuts for Wandsworth – Guardian series. “Councillor Rex Osborn, leader of the Wandsworth Labour Group, said: “It’s shocking that the Wandsworth Tories are considering closing libraries, athletics tracks and daycare centres when there are still savings that could be made away from the frontline – such as sharing services with other boroughs, or selling off the Town Hall.” … “Cuts of £43m were approved for this year’s budget, as Wandsworth Council agreed to freeze council tax for the fifth time in six years. Wandsworth has already cut its spending by £80m since 2010 by axing jobs, outsourcing services and cutting services.”