There’s been some major coverage of public libraries in the media over the last few days.  The Times and The Mail took up an article I wrote here a few days ago on the need for quiet study spaces in library, with the former publication devoting its third leader to it. The Mail evenwent so far as to say there was a “campaign” starting to restore hush to libraries, which I doubt. Just to make clear my position on this: I love loud and buzzing libraries and can do as loud a children’s story time as anyone but my article was also pointing out the unique selling point of libraries as quiet study spaces as well.  The challenge is to do both, not one or the other … and to let everyone know how fantastic and irreplaceable libraries are to boot.

As such, the Everything Everything residency at Manchester Central Library is already fantastically successful. Even the NME has covered it, for goodness sake, as has the Independent and the Guardian.  Moreover, Radio Six are devoting two whole weeks to the wonders of public libraries, including broadcasting from Manchester and the British Library. The whole thing promises to be a tremendous showcase for libraries and all involved should take a bow (just do it quietly if you’re in the domed reading room b).  Another showcase was the Jeremy Vine Show article on libraries on Friday.  Listen to that (especially the child … but well done to Ciara Eastell of the Society of Chief Libraries and Devon as well) to give you a boost all week.


Music and libraries

  • BBC 6 Music Celebrates libraries – BBC Media Centre. “Continuing BBC 6 Music’s Celebrates strand, over two weeks this November the station will turn its attention to libraries. From the Sound Archive of the British Library to exploring the influence of literature on music, broadcasting live from the incredible performance spaces of the newly refurbished Manchester Central Library and from the British Library in London, 6 Music Celebrates Libraries will open the pages and turn up the volume! There will also be additional programmes on Radio 3 and Radio Manchester. ” Includes full, and substantial, list of library-related items on the radio station.

“Radcliffe and Maconie (13:00 – 16:00) will broadcast live from the newly refurbished Manchester Central Library on Friday 14 November. Special guests include: Chaos To Order Writer-In-Residence, Emma Jane Unsworth; Elbow front man and the driving force behind the project, Guy Garvey; Joy Division guitarist and New Order singer Bernard Sumner, who will be giving an insight into his new autobiography; and Manchester Music archivist Abigail Jones.”

  • Chaos to Order at Manchester Central Library – Guardian / Northerner Blog. “Morrissey was thrown out of the building. Ewan MacColl met mates at the entrance. The Stone Roses left their mark on the outside in graffiti. Like most Manchester institutions, the Central Library already has a colourful musical history. Now, newly reopened after four years of renovations, it is to become more musical still, with the Chaos To Order festival next week. “This is the first time that a European library has ever handed control to a band,” says Debra King, director of Brighter Sound, who are producing the event. The band in question is Manchester’s Everything Everything, Ivor Novello and Mercury Prize nominees. They are an odd pop group, somehow managing to be nice, polymathy and popular.”
  • Everything Everything presents: Chaos to Order – Library Live. Full line up inc. theatre, poetry and talks.
  • Everything Everything to complete new album in public during Manchester Library artist residency – NME. “”We’re going to be working for two hours a day in the library in a glass panelled room so you can see in like we’re zoo animals, working on songs that don’t currently exist! And then at the end of the week, we’ll perform it.”  Pritchard continued: “We’ve been working on this since April or May, and one of the things that attracted us to curating it was there was no remit. They wanted us to use the building in whatever way we saw fit.”  “As much as we can we are using spaces not associated with the normal library use: the lifts, the stairwells, the coffee area. We’re trying to design it so that people will encounter things – some of it will be ticketed, but a lot of it will just happen to you!”
  • Guy Garvey, Bernard Sumner and more announced as BBC 6 Music Celebrates Libraries – Culture 24. “Part of a fortnight devoted to libraries by the station, two of Keaveny’s colleagues, Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie, will be broadcasting live from the shiny new Manchester Central Library next Friday (November 14). Their special guests include New Order’s Bernard Sumner, writer-in-residence Emma Jane Unsworth, Manchester music archivist Abigail Jones and Guy Garvey, the Elbow leader and instigator of the series who will be leading a celebratory tour of Manchester’s oldest libraries.”
  • Make more Elbow room for the nation’s libraries, says Guy Garvey – Independent. “Anyone trying to start a music revolution from their local library might ordinarily be told to “shush”. But the volume is now being turned up with a two-week BBC 6 Music celebration of the central role that the humble library has played in inspiring a generation of artists … A combination of budget cuts and Kindles threatens civic libraries but the 6 Music season, the brainchild of Guy Garvey, the Elbow singer and a life-long library fan, presents an alternative vision. He argues that libraries are vital creative hubs, seats of learning where great lyrics might be composed; they also house a wealth of archive audio and visual material which can be transformed into cutting edge tracks by DJs and sampling maestros.”


  • ‘Buy time’ community policy shelved in Wales – BBC News Wales. “The Welsh government’s communities minister had been considering enacting the legislation in Wales but last month she decided against the idea because she wants to spend time developing “an approach which is better suited to the Welsh context” … “Under the Localism Act, councils in England keep a register of “assets of community value”. These could include libraries, playing fields and shops.
  • Could the librarians please shush? – Times (behind paywall, page seven in print edition). Leading on from an editorial in Public Libraries News about the need for quiet study areas as well as lively loud activities, the newspaper looks at trends in libraries, quoting amongst others Alan Gibbons and Devon chief librarian / SCL president Ciara Eastell.  The topic was also covered by one of the three editorials on the day. see also Will the librarian please keep the noise down! Anger over silence in libraries being shattered by creches, concerts and dance classes held to attract more visitors – Mail. Largely duplicates the Times piece but not behind paywall. “Many libraries across the UK are now holding Baby Bounce and Rhyme sessions where toddlers experiment with percussion instruments while singing nursery rhymes. Cardiff’s Central Library hosts music gigs every Saturday, Newcastle’s City Library has a creche and the Library of Birmingham offers its own business club for budding entrepreneurs. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has claimed libraries need to balance new community initiatives with the demands and expectations of their users.” 592 shares, 352 comments.

“There’s a recurring theme in all of this which is that it’s all about the age-old stereotype of libraries as a place where some forbidding person tells you to “shut up” or “shhhh”, and it’s frankly something that most of us who work in libraries would like to consign to history. Having said that, we know that many library users value them as spaces where they can be quiet and study or just reflect and we know that people see libraries as trusted safe spaces and that’s a quality we would never want to lose.” Brian Ashley, Director of Libraries, Arts Council England.

  • Ed Miliband and library closures – BBC Radio 2 / Jeremy Vine. Includes an interview with 6 year-old child, followed by SCL President, Ciara Eastell.
  • Local by Default – Locality. “It’s time for a new approach to delivering our public services – one which offers people a better service and tackles the appalling ineffectiveness of the current system … We’re proposing a new approach,’local by default’, where public services are delivered by local organisations who know the community and can deliver effective support – at the same time saving the UK an estimated £16bn a year.”
  • Ministry of Justice in retreat over prisoner book ban – Politics. “Ministers have made an important concession in the fight for books for prisoners, with an easing of the rules over how many books are allowed in cells. Campaigners hailed the decision as a sign the government recognises the role books can play in rehabilitation, but the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) shows no signs as yet of relenting on its ban on prisoners being sent books from family and friends.”
  • TEDxBrum – Includes speech by Annemarie Naylor of Locality on work for “common libraries” sharing expertise from anyone for the betterment of anyone (around 4.44 in).
  • “The reality is very different”: A volunteer library manager speaks – Public Libraries News. Updated page, including new letter from a manager of a volunteer library in Dorset. “I think our big fight in the future will be to be kept up-to-date with new developments.   The changes in library services will be swift as everything becomes more digitised.   Exeter has a FabLab, N London has a digital Library Wall, interactive novels are coming…and so on.   I can see that our community-managed libraries could easily remain quaint little outposts, limping along with old technology as the world moves on in ways we can’t even conceive at the moment – or having to pay for anything new because it won’t be funded by the local authority…”


  • Budget cuts may imperil Blacks from checking out public libraries – Michigan Citizen. “Between the rise of digital media, changing social landscapes, and decreased funding, the nation’s 8,956 public library systems are at a crisis stage. And underserved communities and people of color stand to lose more than other communities. Public libraries stand in the gap for many Black Americans and their households. In a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, 47 percent of African American respondents 16 years and older had visited a library within the past year. Blacks and Latinos were more likely to consider their public library’s services “very important to their lives.”
  • Considering RFID? Consider This – Information Today (USA). Detailed look at RFID in libraries. “RFID technology offers many benefits, including the potential for greater workflow streamlining and the reduction of inventory loss with highly customizable systems. However, library management will need to carefully determine whether this type of system meets the library’s particular needs based on more factors than cost alone. Even once this initial decision is made, many complex choices regarding funding, technology, staffing, security, consortium dynamics, and other factors will require thoughtful consideration throughout implementation. Any library RFID installation will necessitate careful research and planning with an eye to detail in any potentially affected area of library workflow.”
  • Kibera Mesh Network – Goteo (Kenya/Tanzania/Uganda). “The Kibera Common Library will build upon Tunpanda Institute’s work in using open content to spread digital era vocational skills in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. We will be creating an open mesh network to enable Kenyans in Kibera to access information and knowledge via their phones AND to start creating their own digital content that will be shared with others.”
  • Librarian fired after refusing to discriminate against whites: suit – New York Post (USA). “Diane Woodcheke, 46, says her boss, Joy Rankin, at the Riverhead Free Library pointedly quoted the 1984 rap track “Roxanne, Roxanne” by UTFO after Woodcheke protested her edict to hire minorities. Woodcheke, who is white, said she suspected the words were a taunt because the library atmosphere had grown tense when she told Rankin discrimination was illegal.”
  • Re-imagining public libraries in Moscow – CityMart (Russia). “Moscow is looking to revitalize its libraries and make them relevant to citizens’ lives today. By converting these key community resources into centers of information, culture, education and leisure, the city wishes to strengthen cultural engagement and attract new users.  Currently the city has 453 libraries for its 11.5 million residents. There are more than 2.5 million registered users – 700,000 readers are in the age range 15-30, 800,000 readers are under 14. At the end of 2013 attendance was over 18 million, with 500 million depository items loaned. However, in a city with a harsh climate, usage could be higher and library authorities are keen to strengthen existing and target new audiences.”
    “Moscow libraries have been taking steps to diversify and attract new communities but are often not reaching their target audiences. Some recent initiatives include organizing literary festivals, flash mobs, marathons and competitions; hosting interest groups and clubs (eg IT for seniors); and offering social service information desks and running reading rooms in local children´s hospitals.  Effective ways of communicating and engaging with local communities are at the heart of this revitalisation of the public libraries in a modern, urban Moscow.”

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Public meeting in defence of libraries and other public services in Barnet – Stop the Privatisation of Public Libraries. “ Date: 26 November 2014 Time: 6.30 pm  Venue: Greek Cypriot Centre Britannia  Road, North Finchley, N12 9RU
  • Bolton – Hundreds of jobs to go as Bolton Council announce more cuts – Bolton News. Comment “Making people redundant is one of this councils solutions – guess they ran out of libraries to shut.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Books in The Cloud: libraries offer free WiFi – CBR. “13 libraries run by Brighton & Hove City Council are now offering free WiFi access provided by The Cloud. Visitors can now utilise free, fast, internet access to online resources including research, e-books, audio books and magazines, plus wider online services including shopping and social media.” … “Demand for mobile internet access has exploded,” explained Russell Phillips, Royal Pavilion, Museums & Libraries ICT Consultant. “This started with laptops and has now expanded with a huge number of visitors using tablets and smartphones. We cannot provide everyone with a PC and the ones we do offer are oversubscribed on a daily basis. By installing WiFi we have found a way to let all our visitors make the most of all the resources available at our libraries, be it digital books, training resources or basic internet access.”
  • Bristol – Bristol libraries: a review should not be a smokescreen for cuts, says Labour – Bristol Post. “A review of libraries in Bristol should not be a smokescreen for achieving cuts of more than £1million from the council’s civic budget, says Labour. Councillor Estella Tincknell, a former librarian in the city, says she hoped the review would see libraries become “community hubs” … ““Too often we see a process where only existing users are consulted or only those who have computers are asked for their opinion as they are easy to reach at little or no cost. We have Neighbourhood Partnerships and they should be involved.”
  • Cardiff – Leaked documents suggest the future of Cardiff’s Christmas trees, leisure centres and libraries are in jeopardy – Wales Online. “Officers have drawn up a bleak list of options for the city’s cabinet – which include slashing funding for libraries, cutting funding for the New Year Calennig party and Christmas trees, scaling back street cleaning and other services and handing over the running of leisure centres” … “Some of the major cut backs include reviewing branch library services to make savings of £2m over three years and £283,000 in the first year.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – In defence of public libraries: Book me a seat in this magical place – Bedfordshire News. Long article in praise of public libraries. ““Last year,” says Central Beds services manager, Nicola Avery, “there were over a million visitors to CBC libraries, borrowing nearly 1,300,000 items. In addition we have a website, our Virtual Library which is shared and maintained with our colleagues in Bedford Borough, which had more than five and a half million hits in the last year. “Libraries are important for lots of reasons,” says Nicola. “But perhaps the most important is that they are friendly, safe places where everyone is welcome to explore new things, learn, read, get help if they want it, relax or just enjoy some fun activities.” I’m certainly glad to be back; I’ve fallen in love all over again.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Calls to save Northwich’s Grade II listed library – Northwich Guardian. “Town mayor Clr Alison Gerrard said: “They’ve spent all that money on the front of the library making it look nice but when you walk up the side it’s all flaking and seems to be really neglected. “It’s an iconic building of Northwich and it seems such a shame.”.  Council says “Specialists, who have a long track record of working in Northwich’s conservation area with the council on historic buildings, are to undertake an initial assessment over the winter months and to prepare a more detailed assessment of the overall building condition, focussing on the historic timber frame.”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Godfrey ensures council sticks to funding pledge for library – Inside Croydon. “Croydon Council’s new leadership has honoured a promise to increase funding to Upper Norwood Library, matching that provided by Lambeth.”
  • Harrow – Residents will suffer long-term effects of closing Harrow Arts Centre, Harrow Museum and libraries – This is Local London. “Harrow Borough Council talks about needing to tackle deprivation in the borough. The closure of institutions such as Harrow Arts Centre, Harrow Museum and our libraries would be counter-productive to this argument. These facilities culturally enrich our communities and make the borough a more enjoyable and attractive place to live”
  • Havering – An open letter by Ruth Gedalovitch of Havering Libraries Campaign to local councillors – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “Please would you take the time to look at the job cuts in libraries compared with other departments? It seems clear to me that libraries have made many efficiencies over the years – to the point that they now have the lowest “cost per visit” out of all London Libraries” … “In the last ten years, Havering has seen all its libraries make great strides – they have been nominated for awards, they have been asked to apply for a number of pilots – two with the Department of Education, some with the Arts Council – they were even invited to Downing Street for the launch of the Summer Reading Challenge last year. This will be completely reversed if library staff are cut so radically” … “Some of the most popular events and activities in Havering Libraries are the preschool activities – these will go! Even if volunteers were to run these sessions, it is not possible to get 60 parents and children out of the library with one volunteer and two staff in the event of a fire.”
  • Hertfordshire – Comment: Reading between the lines in library shake-up – Watford Observer. “It’s not just that the place will be full of books, but  it will be staffed by people who love them, who will recommend titles, chat about authors and, most importantly, inspire children. These hold activities across the year to engender a love of reading into youngsters – and it works. For the sake of a poster, a badge or a pencil, kids will get through their first long book, and discover a passion that will hopefully last a lifetime. You get the idea. I’m big on libraries. And now I’m worried they’re under threat, here on our doorstep.”
  • Lincolnshire – Money owed in Lincolnshire Library fines could employ seven librarians – Lincolnshire Echo. “In the past three years, a total of £207,000 has been clawed back in fines for overdue books and other items. But the financial issue is no laughing matter – with the council looking to slash the number of libraries in Lincolnshire.”
  • Liverpool – Library campaigners march through Liverpool to protest closure plans – Liverpool Echo. “Dozens of demonstrators gathered in Liverpool city centre to protest against plans to axe 11 libraries. The rally began at Central Library where anti-cuts activists and authors gave speeches before marching to Williamson Square to collect signatures for their petition.”
  • North Yorkshire – North Yorkshire libraries at risk of closure in new wave of council cuts – Harrogate Advertiser. “Fears have been raised that libraries in Ripon, Knaresborough, Pateley Bridge, Boroughbridge, Sherburn, and Tadcaster could close under budget slashing proposals revealed by the council. Launching a three-month consultation on cutting £3.6m from its libraries budget by 2020, the local authority this week said it was proposing to restructure libraries across the county.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Nunsthorpe community group saves due-to-close library – BBC News Humberside. “A North East Lincolnshire community group is to take over the running of a library, saving it from closure. Nunsthorpe Library was among six others facing the axe, as the council tries to cut £500,000 from a £3m budget. From 18 December, charity Centre4 will run the library from a new site at a former school. see also Are you sitting comfortably? Grimsby Library’s new ‘community’ chapter is about to begin – Grimsby Telegraph.
  • Northamptonshire – Plans to reduce Northamptonshire children’s centre opening hours and launch ’community hubs’ go out to consultation – Northampton Chronicle. “Details of the proposals, published on the council’s website today, also detail plans to launch ‘outreach venues’ in church halls and community centres and transfer over services currently offered by the centres to local libraries.”
  • Northumberland – Get reading to help beat winter blues – News Post Leader. “With the dark autumn nights drawing in, Northumberland County Council is backing national charity The Reading Agency’s Mood Boosting Books scheme. The scheme is a national promotion of uplifting titles, including novels, poetry and non-fiction. Reading groups around the country are recommending and reviewing mood-boosting books to other readers.”
  • Somerset – ‘Tragedy’ of library cuts in South Somerset – This is the West Country. “Plans including axing over half of the 574 stops made by the mobile library service next August and phasing out CD loans while more positive changes could see free WiFi installed in all libraries and an extension of the Home Library Service. ” … “Cllr Roderigo, who has been heavily involved with the local amateur dramatics scene, producing and directing shows, said she was concerned for the long-term future of the library. She added: “So many groups use it for all of their music and if anything was to happen, it would be a complete disaster.” see also Jobs set to go in shake-up of county libraries – Wells Journal.
  • Vale of Glamorgan – The protests gathers momentum – Save Rhoose Library. “More than 100 people turned out to voice objections to the proposals to change the library into a community -run service. From the schoolchildren who’d made their own banner and sang about their opposition, to more senior citizens who waved placards and our Welsh Assembly members who gave their support, the council officials could have been under any doubt about the sentiment of Rhoose village.”.  Includes questions and answers from meeting with council.