Two significant events: the first is that the Mayor of Liverpool has declared that he can keep all his libraries open after all.  Budgets have been got from various places, there’ll be some co-locations, some opening hour cuts … but none will be closed. The Mayor points to the hard work of his council, the campaigners point to them not letting the council forget how important libraries are.  The answer, as always, probably lies somewhere in between. The second event is that, as if to put the damper on things, East Renfrewshire is going to go all English and force 6 of its 10 libraries to be volunteer or co-located or close.  Bet you wish you voted the other way in the referendum now, Scottish folks. And so the cycle starts all over again.

By the way, I’m in Spain the rest of this week, talking to Spanish librarians (and probably people on the plane – I do that, it’s annoying) about the situation there and here.  I expect to learn much and, if I’m very lucky, I will come back with different views (however slightly) than when I went. I’ll tell you about it on my return. Adios.


An interview with Gary Green about the Library A to Z project

For your information, there's a whole A to Z free to use

For your information, there’s a whole A to Z free to use

How did the idea come about?

It began at Library Camp East, where I ran a session to crowd-source a list of words reflecting the wide-range of services (beyond access to books) and positive outcomes of libraries. This was done in the hope that the list could be used as the basis for something creative by library services and their supporters to promote the benefits of libraries and counteract the idea that libraries are irrelevant. I spoke to Andy Walsh a couple of months later about it and from there the idea of the illustrations, book and crowd funder came about.

How easy did you find it to use a crowd funder service? Hints and tips

Andy was responsible for setting up the crowd funder using a service called Kickstarter. The key thing was to decide on clear aims and targets (financial and deadlines for completion). We indicated what the different levels of funding would achieve i.e. Produce the illustrations, book and cards at £2000; send media packs to the press at £3,000. Each level of funding was tied in with a new goal as an incentive to encourage more backers. The minimum funding target was £2,000, and we gave ourselves 4 weeks to reach it. During the fundraising and afterwards it was useful to be able to keep backers updated about our progress via the Kickstarter site.

Did you find publicising it a challenge? How did you do it?

We targeted lots of places we knew library staff and their supporters (our key potential backers) we talking. Many of these networks are online so we spent most of our efforts posting to them e.g. emailing discussion groups and posting to social media sites. In some cases we targeted individuals, but on the whole posted general messages to catch the attention of as many people as possible. But it wasn’t just down to us spreading the word. Many other people got behind it and helped get the message out there. We also had a piece published in CILIP Update magazine and in a local newspaper. We had to keep plugging away at the promotion for the 4 week period, repeating the call for financial backers – a single tweet or email at the start wouldn’t have been effective. In the end it worked and we receiving funding of just over £4,500 from 155 backers, including the main sponsor The Library Campaign.

What does the A to Z consists of?

It’s primarily focused around 26 full colour illustrations for each letter of the alphabet. Each letter depicts many of the words from the original A to Z list. e.g. A includes access, answers, advice, etc. The illustrations were drawn by Josh Filhol and we’re really pleased with what he produced.

How do you envisage it being used?

There’s a book featuring all the illustrations, along with the associated words and quotes from library users. It also includes a chapter about the value of libraries. The intention is for it to be sent to politicians to encourage continued investment in libraries. The illustrations have also been turned into posters, cards and other promotional and advocacy materials. We’d also really like this to be just the start, by getting libraries, supporters and campaigners to create their own advocacy and promotional materials too using the illustrations and other A to Z materials as a basis.

What is the link, any copyright issues?

The materials can be found on the new Library A to Z site at http://libraryatoz.org/materials . Unless otherwise stated, these materials are available to re-use under a creative commons licence (cc by 4.0), so please re-use, adapt and take full advantage of them, as long as the original creators are credited.


“I love the library and all its quirks: it means I don’t have to keep a printer that works”

  • Northern Children’s Book Festival is in the region for a two-week series of events – Chronicle. “The Northern Children’s Book Festival is the largest free reading event for young people in Europe. It is organised and run by a collection of libraries in the North East and originally started as a two-day event 31 years ago. The two week celebration will welcome eight of the UK’s top authors and illustrators who will be visiting schools across Sunderland.”

“1. Ensure e-book lending doesn’t harm physical libraries and authors, publishers and booksellers
2. The Literary Creative Value Chain needs to be sustained 3. One government department [or a Library Development Agency] should be responsible for public libraries 4. A library in every school should be a statutory requirement  5. Clarity is required on what the government has to deliver under the Public Museums & Libraries Act”

Towards a sustainable public library serviceTim Godfray, Chief Executive, BookSeller’s Association. Click this link to see his full presentation at the Westminster Media Forum

Supporter’s News

UK local news by authority

“the mayor said pressure from the public was not the reason for the new decision, and said it should not be seen as a U-turn. He said consultations had identified more than £1.6m in savings, and that only £600,000 more now needed to be found. “People can say what they want about people power, and I’ll be disappointed if people try to claim that that’s what it is,” he said. “I know how people feel, I live here, I’m a grandparent, I’ve got kids myself. But the fact of the matter is I’ve got to balance the budget.”

“I think this is a great day. Eleven libraries are going to keep their doors open to serve the people of Liverpool. “To his credit, Mayor Anderson has proved responsive to the concerns of the public expressed during the consultation period. “Hopefully, the settlement will see the survival of a healthy library service until finances improved. “I think it is clear that public pressure has had an impact. At the cabinet meeting on libraries just a few weeks ago, he told us there was no alternative to closure.” Alan Gibbons

“Joe Anderson now says 11 libraries will not close and has ‘found’ some money, perhaps £680,00, to keep some libraries as they are, ie public. But others may be sold or run with volunteers. We have always rejected privatisation or libraries run by volunteers. We forced the changes and that is a victory, but it is a concession not a retraction or a complete U-turn. “The reversal follows public demonstrations, including protesters who marched at the weekend and said that closures would make their nearest library locations too far away.” Liverpool Echo 10 November.

They are right: without the constant leafleting, petition gathering, writing love letters, demand for a referendum, demonstrations, Anderson would not have moved. Even so he says he faced political activists, as if that is a problem and is if he is not a Labour Party leader following orders from London. But these activists clearly had the support of 10,000s of people in Liverpool, and Labour on the library cuts does not. The demonstration last Saturday was very lively and successful. We had many banners and in a bucket collection we raised £217. We take this opportunity to thank all those who spoke, attended and gave money. Joe Anderson says there is “interest in 7 libraries, £1.7 million in deals, we have £680,000 to find. But the house building programme has made savings etc. Make sure we keep all 11 libraries, reduce hours, not drastically. One stop shop into libraries.”

But we want to see the details now! We will continue with the campaign to save all our libraries as public libraries. The victory is because Joe Anderson has been forced to accept to keep libraries open and perhaps will find £680,000, which can mean keeping 3 or 4 libraries as they are. But we do not know how many will be run by volunteers or privatised. We demand no cuts to public libraries and no staff sacking. Keep all libraries public and fully open! Many library staff have told us they face discipline if they sign our petition, take our leaflet for a referendum on the libraries. We reject these bullying methods. Our next event is a demonstration outside the Town Hall at 4pm on Wednesday. We call on the council’s unions to publicly support the Save Our Libraries demonstration, 4pm Wed 12 November Sign our petition, call for a referendum, keep all libraries public. We also thank those from the Wirral and Sheffield who have helped us. Let’s deepen our connections with all local communities fighting the keep libraries public.” Martin Ralph, Liverpool libraries campaign.