It’s a bumper edition today due to not having reported for one week. The reason for this was a most worthwhile few days spent attending (and speaking at) the biennial Spanish national libraries conference.  There’s enough for about four different posts from my time there but the first I have already published, as a separate page, on the subject that apparently a lot of people know about but few have mentioned: the pointlessness in many libraries of having security sensors.  Experts have already given some feedback via the comments section of the page and via Twitter so you can be assured that it’s not just one man’s opinion.  Basically, it looks like most librarians agree with my view that security gates cost far more money than they save but, if you live in a high crime area and have expensive stock then they can be viable (or more than viable) as long as you have trained and motivated staff.  If, however, your staff (and be honest with yourselves here) are not then you’re basically wasting your money.  Which no one should these days … and it’s a world wide phenomenon because I’m getting lots of Australian librarians agreeing with me: isn’t social media wonderful? For the full page see Library security gates: why you should save money by not using them.

Big news this edition are cuts in both Bromley and Southampton, where the standard response to cuts of bringing in the volunteers is being made.  Bromley is perhaps more interesting as it is looking at alternatives, including outsourcing, to its current close relationship with the neighbouring borough of Bexley.  Another B, Bolton, also makes the news due to more information about its cuts, with ten people’s jobs being lost (you know, I’d really appreciate some research on what happens to these people) and a look at becoming a non-profit trust on the cards. I hope Bolton has chatted to its neighbour Wigan as they are looking to get rid of their own trust. Finally, a mention must be made of the Leicestershire councillor who has made it clear that bricks and mortar are more important to him than mere employees.  Nice. This, I should point out, is directly opposite to the response to cuts that I discovered in Spain, but of that more in a post soon.


“In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed” Germaine Greer


  • Creators not consumers: visualising the radical alternative for libraries – Infoism. see also Libraries – Brought To You In Association With Tesco – Infoism. Both articles argue against a commercial approach to libraries and for a pure state-funded model.
  • Digital bringing people together – Arbroath Herald. “Libraries, clubs and community organisations across the country are supporting the Let’s Get On campaign and offering people the opportunity to join classes and support groups, showing them how to get online and use the internet to their advantage. “
  • English public libraries: a ‘dysfunctional’ service? – CILIP. Guy Daines looks into William Sieghart’s claim that ““The way the service is set up, it is run totally dysfunctional. The DCMS has responsibility, but no budget, the Arts Council has been given a role reluctantly, and the DCLG looks at the local authorities who actually make decisions. I’m frightened and worried for the library network”.
  • Financial literacy for library users courtesy of Tesco & Visa – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “SyrsiDynix the company behind the idea tries it’s hardest to alleviate any professional and ethical fears by claiming that it’s performing a social role by providing access to debit cards for ‘unbanked’ patrons”.  Questions the ethics involved. Includes reply from SyrsiDynix and query from RFID expert Mick Fortune.
  • Make a noise about libraries but, please, keep quiet afterwards: Week in books – Independent. “Yet as admirable as it is, libraries shouldn’t have to become multi-platform, nor should they have to jump through hoops to show us their worth. Isn’t it enough that they provide one of the few remaining oases of ritualised solitude? Of course, libraries can be both sanctuaries of quiet, and creative hubs filled with noise and activity. There is nothing wrong in having a band perform in your local library, or in ordering a latte with chocolate sprinkles there, but this shouldn’t be the “lure”. A library isn’t a Starbucks or the Royal Albert Hall. The boon of books, and silence, should surely be lure enough.”
  • To expect more from my local library – MumsNet. Library user unimpressed by stock selection.  The many and varied comments discuss the situation that has caused this, focusing mainly on the dire cuts to book budgets.


  • 51 Books That Prove Reading Can Change Your Life – Buzzfeed (Global).  Great list for displays, especially mental health.
  • Brooklyn wins 4th annual ‘Battle of the Book Sorters’ – Brooklyn Daily Eagle (USA). “The systems competed to see who can sort the most books in one hour. New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library share a state-of-the-art, automated book sorter (as well as all book delivery operations), so they formed a single team. The defeated returning champion King County in Washington State has its own sorter, and had been leading the annual contest with two wins to New York’s one.”
  • Welcome to the Library – Librarians – TNT.
  • Last Man Standing / How to kill public libraries – R David Lankes (USA). “The two big concerns I’ve heard about are “what happens when public libraries are the last civic service agency standing,” and “as libraries expand services to include everything from tax help to maker spaces, how am I supposed to know it all?!” These two concerns are related.” … “Librarians don’t know everything, but they can empower everyone to share what they know.”

“Where libraries could once confine their mission to literacy and assume a wider social safety net existed to handle issues of homelessness, democratic participation, education, even food support and adult literacy this is no longer the case … However, an expansion of services without a matching expansion of resources (budget, personnel, authority, training) is a recipe for disaster.” R David Lankes

  • Little free library pops up in Surrey park – The Now (USA). “At Surrey’s Boundary Park (6058 Boundary Drive West) last Saturday (Nov. 1), community members and library employees unveiled their own little free library – a painted, wooden box a little larger than a birdhouse – for residents to give and take from as they please. Though the Surrey Libraries helped kickstart the initiative, a local community group will be taking care of the space.

Supporter’s news

  • How did life on Earth begin?  What is astrobiology? Why is our planet habitable when others aren’t? Discover how astrobiology attempts to answer these fundamental questions with this sample chapter from Very Short Introductions online. Very Short Introductions online is available via subscription to all public libraries in the UK. Please contact your representative Ged Welford for your free trial or more information.

UK local news by authority

“We understand these people are valuable but buildings, books or people and can’t cut books or computers. We have to cut the person.” Cllr Richard Blunt, cabinet member for libraries.

“They are tremendously valuable resources and are a far greater asset than they used to be. “I’m really disappointed about the council’s proposals. “I do agree with the council that the volunteers should help to do some of the roles, and the community should get involved. “But they should not be potentially closing them down, they should be thinking about expanding them through community engagement.” Chris Packham

  • Swansea – Gower library campaigners seek legal advice as dispute with Swansea Council takes a new turn – South Wales Evening Post. “Library campaigners have sought legal advice after what they claim was a broken promise by Swansea Council. Nearly 100 people voted in favour of exploring a judicial review process at a public meeting about the future of Pennard Library.” … “Campaign group Friends of Pennard Library (FoPL) believes that in its favour is a written pledge from former cabinet member councillor Nick Bradley that a librarian service would remain if the building was refurbished. A signed but non-legally building memorandum of understanding then set out the two parties’ respective positions further.”
  • Swindon – Good people or scabs – Swindon Advertiser / Letters. ” suppose this is what David Cameron, the Prime Minister, meant when he invented the term ‘The Big Society?’, job losses! How are we to view these volunteers? Good people who are trying to save the public libraries or scabs who are destroying jobs?”
  • Swindon – Swindon leisure services will lose more money after takeover, group says – Swindon Advertiser. “Diana Edmonds, the head of libraries at GLL, said the aim was to boost visitor numbers to the library while making the gym more profitable, reducing the deficit, which had been successful in other areas. “We moved into the libraries sector in 2011 and manage two services, in Wands-worth and Greenwich,” she said. “Our aim is to grow visitor numbers, and in Greenwich the number of people using our facilities has increased by 44 per cent over two years, while Wands-worth numbers have increased by 92 per cent.” Designs for the new library are being discussed and it is expected to be homed over both floors the gym currently occupies.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Protest against library downgrade – Barry and District News. “Rhoose residents have come out in opposition to the plans with the Save Rhoose Library Campaign group leading the way. “
  • Wandsworth – Southfields Library reopens after £16,000 roof works – Guardian series. “The library was recently swamped with controversy when Councillor Malcolm Grimston left the Tory party amid concerns it could close. The council insisted there were absolutely no plans to close the library. Community services spokesman, Councillor Jonathan Cook, said: “Wandsworth Council is investing in its libraries at a time when many other local authorities are closing theirs.”
  • Worcestershire – Reverse library cuts in Worcestershire and stop calling them savings, says councillor – Worcester News. “Cllr Mallett said: “I do think this report presents this area through rose tinted glasses. “I note that our aspiration is to cut £2.7 million from a £7 million library budget, and we’ve cut (more than) £2 million of that already. “I think libraries add value to our communities, this is a cut, not a saving.”