I often get asked how I find the time to do Public Libraries News. For any of you who don’t know (and I deliberately don’t emphasise this on the blog for reasons all of you will be able to guess) I do have a full-time job as a librarian and, yes, I also have a family that demands full attention as well. The answer therefore is that PLN is my leisure time.  Before, you see, I would slob out in front of TV or play computer games (strategy games mainly: I don’t have the quickest of reflexes) and now in some ways I have simply contributed one form of computer activity for another.  But of course this is far more rewarding than any computer game: this blog appears to actually be useful to people and does, in its small way, hopefully, help public libraries and library workers.  Being able to understand what is going on and to get the chance to know or at least meet many of the major characters involved are also bonuses.  And if you do something you enjoy you find the time to do it.  It helps also to have a supportive and long-suffering wife and family (my youngest child, who is eight, cannot remember me without the blog) as well.  So PLN, I guess, is now part of me and it’s got to the stage now when I’m not sure what I would do without it.

Thanks to all of you for supporting the website. Do please keep sending me your news and views.  Let me know if you want a particular topic covered or if the views expressed herein are simply wrong.  PLN depends on knowing what is going on and that involves on knowing all sides of the argument.  A correction or an opposing viewpoint is not an offense to me: rather it is a vital gift. So, please,  may I take this opportunity to wish you all – even in these dark times – a very merry Christmas and a happy, a better, 2015.  Keep on with your good work and remember to enjoy, celebrate and continue to fight for public libraries.




  • Coffee, Wifi, and the Loo: Reactions to The Sieghart Report – R. David Lankes. “You see the library world is embracing the community in a brand new way and embracing a much richer and expanded definition of knowledge. That is good – no that is fantastic! However the UK report could lead to a potential disastrous path: losing the identity of library for an all encompassing whatever they want mentality. So as always, I feel there are lessons here for all libraries, not just ones in the UK. Just substitute your country, county, or community in for the UK, and I think this still works.”

“Please remember, you want to revitalize libraries in the UK not to have better libraries – but to have better communities. The community is the collection and needs collection development in the form of nurturing, training, and empowerment. In Chattanooga, and Pisa, and Edmonton, and Wellington librarians are focusing their considerable powers directly on the people they live and work with. These librarians no longer see their role as simply setting a table of knowledge, rather they see their role as hosting a sumptuous feast of shared expertise and experience resident in their communities.” R. David Lankes

  • Councils ‘pushed to breaking point’ by new cuts – Telegraph. “Councils warn that libraries will close and roads will go unrepaired as the Government the next round of spending. Local authorities will have to slash over £2.5 billion from their budgets for next year in cuts that councils have said will push many “to breaking point”.”
  • From Vicious to Virtuous: The collapse of U.K. libraries and unbreaking the cycle of library support – Library Journal. “Library use is in freefall in the U.K., not because U.K. citizens don’t need similar services to U.S. patrons, and with just as much urgency, nor because U.K. libraries and librarians aren’t awesome enough to provide those services, but because without money and staff, they’re hamstrung. People can’t access the Internet from closed library buildings; they can’t borrow books that never got bought or cataloged; they can’t ask laid-off librarians how to find the medical information they need to make the right choices for themselves and their loved ones. And after coming up empty enough times, they stop trying—they’ve learned that the library is not a resource they can rely on.”
  • The Future Of The Public Library May Lie In The Coffee Shop – NPR. Summarises the “Café” finding of Sieghart.
  • Internet use in Wales and beyond – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. “Public libraries in Wales feature strongly in the digital inclusion agenda in Wales, and many are working with Communities 2.0 and other groups to help support people getting online for the first time. Public libraries in Wales open for more than 30 hours a week also offer free WiFi – a requirement that they achieved in order to meet part of one standard within the fourth framework of Welsh Public Library Standards. Interestingly, the review of public libraries in England (published 18th Dec 2014) also recommends WiFi for public libraries.”
  • In praise of silence: six reasons we need to shut up – Telegraph. “And now libraries, the once-sacred spaces of the hushed reading room, have been told they must become “vibrant and attractive community hubs” complete with Wi-Fi to survive in the modern world. We can’t even, it appears, put down our phones long enough to get through a church service. A Catholic priest in Naples was reduced to buying a jammer to interfere with phone signal and to prevent people “cupping their hands over the receiver and carrying on talking” during Mass. But whilst this continual communication may be thrilling, it’s also exhausting. And it’s not doing us a lot of good. Here are six reasons we should take five minutes every day to sit in silence, switch off and shut up.
  • Report under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 – 2013/14 – Gov.UK.  A summary of what has occurred in UK public libraries in 2014 with an emphasis on what the DCMS has commissioned. “The past 12 months have been a time of continuing development and change for the public library service, with a number of local authorities considering their provision of a comprehensive and efficient service. Many public libraries have implemented ground-breaking and innovative solutions to ensure that libraries remain a vital and well-used service at the centre of the community for all members of society.””

“This isn’t a report — it’s a nine year old’s account of what they did in the school holidays” Tim Coates

  • Thoughts on our public libraries – Adam Marshall. “At all the universities we visited the libraries featured high on the list of places to see and most of them have been doing the type of things that are being recommended in the report for public libraries” .. “I am not sure where public libraries stand on sponsorship. All the local roundabouts (a type of road junction for any readers in USA) in my area are sponsored by local businesses. Would it be any different to have “WiFi sponsored in this library by XYZ Electrical Supplies”? We are not talking about finding wealthy benefactors to build brand new libraries just a bit of infrastructure support.”


  • Before Google … Who Knew? – NPR (USA).  New York Public Library have found a trove of reference queries from the 1940s to 1980s and are now planning to put them on Instagram.

Can you tell me the thickness of a U.S. Postage stamp with the glue on it? Answer: We couldn’t tell you that answer quickly. Why don’t you try the Post Office? Response: This is the Post Office. (1963)”

  • Calgary Public Library launches smartphone app to replace library cards – Mobile Syrup (Canada).  A barcode on your phone rather than on your library card. “Calgary Public Library Foundation president Paul McIntyre Royston said that the decision made sense as mobile users move away from wallets. “Everyone’s getting rid of their wallets and we want to also be a part of that trend,” he told the Calgary edition of Metro. “It’s about accessibility and freedom and openness.””
  • Four libraries win EIFL Public Library Innovation Award – EIFL (Global). “The libraries contribute to education of people of all ages – children, youth and adults. They provide support for children attending school, helping them improve in important school subjects, and they provide exciting opportunities for formal and non-formal education for adults.” … “Each winner receives a prize of US$1,500, a certificate and a trophy.”
  • Libraries to Become Community Publishing Portals – Huffington Post (USA). “Rather than standing idly by as publishers jeopardize their future, some libraries see an opportunity to take control by proactively cultivating a newer, more library-friendly source of ebooks. These libraries are developing community publishing initiatives in partnership with self-published ebook authors. “
  • Library advocacy in Europe: the Reading & Writing Foundation – NAPLE Blog (EU). “Public libraries are a significant part of their work, having been selected to carry out the work on the Public Libraries 2020 Campaign, in Europe. “The goal is to support the transformation and updating of public libraries”.
  • Library Advocacy Unshushed – EdX (USA). “Become a powerful advocate for the values and future of libraries and librarianship. Be informed, strategic, passionate, and unshushed!”
  • On libraries – Threepenny Review / Oliver Sacks (UK/USA). “But the Ur-library, for me, was the Willesden Public Library, our own local public library. Here I spent many of the happiest hours of my growing-up years—our house was a five-minute walk from the library—and it was there I received my real education.” … then went to work in the USA … “Over the last few years, most of the books, it seems, have been thrown out, with remarkably little objection from anyone. I felt that a murder, a crime had been committed—the destruction of centuries of knowledge. Seeing my distress, a librarian reassured me that everything “of worth” had been digitized. But I do not use a computer, and I am deeply saddened by the loss of books, even bound periodicals, for there is something irreplaceable about a physical book” [Willesden public library is now being converted into luxury flats, a new “culturual centre” with a small library within it is being opened in Summer 2015 – Ed.]
  • Public Library e-Lending Models – NAPLE Blog (EU/USA/Canada). “Civic Agenda and the digital library organisations for The Netherlands (Bibliotheek.nl) and Flanders (Bibnet), along with professor Frank Huysmans with the financial support of Taalunie have carried out a study and  published a report (last 12th December) “benchmarking the performance of 18 public library e-lending models across 15 countries in Europe and North America”
  • Queens Library cuts ties with its director Thomas Galante – Melville House (USA). Paid more than the Mayor, “He had been placed on leave since September while the trustees could review his wild spending and expense account records. The worst part of the whole saga is that the wild spending was accompanied by layoffs at the Queens Library system, which Galante argued were necessary.”
  • The Rise of Digital Audio in the Public Library – Good E Reader (USA). “There was a time not too long ago that the only way to listen to audiobooks was to borrow a CD or tape from your local library. They degraded with use and most often were a victim of theft, due to its high value nature. In the last five years digital audio content has made things so much more accessible and is a rising force in US based libraries. Audiobook publishing is certainly starting to be big business for major publishers and companies involved in distributing the content. In 2007 a paltry 3,073 digital titles were available and rose exponentially to over 20,000 published titles in 2013. The entire industry is said to be worth over two billion dollars, which is a huge jump from $480 million selling tapes and cassette in 1997.”
  • Vermont Library Association Statement on Unpaid Hours – Vermont Libraries (USA). “Unfortunately, with this enthusiasm comes a degree of exploitation. Many library boards and towns are taking advantage of the good will of library workers, either consciously or unwittingly, by not paying them for all of the hours that they are working.”
  • With private sector’s help, Naga City opens new library – Sun Star (Phillipines). “the City of Naga and SPC Power Corp. inaugurated a new air-conditioned public library and computer laboratory at the St. Francis Ocean Park, just a few meters from City Hall. When it starts operating in January next year, the City Government of Naga-SPC Power Corp. facility will not only serve as a reading center but also as a computer center where students can surf the web or research.” … “SPC initially donated 10 computers with complete wifi connection. They will also maintain the computers. Aside from a computer laboratory, the public library also has a children’s section, a general reference reading section and a specific area for persons with disabilities”

Supporter’s News

  • The human brain’s extraordinary abilities – Oxford University Press. In this sample chapter from Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction by Susan Blackmore (available on Very Short Introductions online) you will find out more about the human brain and how it gives us extraordinary abilities such as perception, learning, memory, reasoning, language, and — somehow or another — consciousness.


  • Children’s Librarians – GLL. Full-time permanent. “We are currently looking to recruit two Children’s Librarians at Balham and Tooting Libraries.”

UK news by local authority

“The campaign amassed 2,216 signatures, the equivalent to roughly half the town’s population. Its Facebook page also attracted 694 likes as disgruntled users of the service seek to stop the proposed reductions by Hertfordshire County Council.”

  • Leicestershire – Groups invited to register interest in running Measham library – Burton Mail.
  • Lincolnshire – The ‘Palmer Proposal’ in Detail – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “In her own words, here’s a summary of Pauline Palmer’s proposals for the library service in Lincolnshire. These plans are now with the council for consideration.
  • North Yorkshire -Why not subscribe to save library service? – Craven Herald / Letters. “Instead of just concentrating on cutting costs, why not also consider increasing revenue? ” … “I also think that libraries should sell new books, as well as loan them – so people who borrow a book they like, or find useful, can order their own copy from the library”
  • Oldham – Uniforms for library staff ‘a waste of money’ – Oldham Evening Chronicle. Staff say “Oldham Council keep telling us that they need to save bucket loads of money. “This will involve cuts to services to residents and the loss of jobs. At this time the libraries intend to introduce a uniform for it’s staff — a totally unnecessary waste of money.””.  Council say “Other public-sector bodies and partner organisations, like Oldham Community Leisure, have employee uniforms. “We are currently talking to library staff about our proposals. “Uniforms would make our staff more recognisable to members of the public which means when asked we can help deal with queries and requests for help quicker.
  • Sheffield Sheffield libraries already vying to diversify – Sheffield Telegraph. Volunteer library says they’re already doing what Sieghart said. “Stannington and District Library Group, said: “We want to diversify. Our logo says we’re more than just a library. “We know that if we simply open for the same hours, lend books, CDs and offer computers as the council did then we will not draw in the public. We are in the process of investigating what people want.””
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Library campaigners petition authority – Barry and District News. “Save Rhoose Library supporters delivered a petition containing more than 1000 signatures to the Vale Council’s full meeting last night, Wednesday, December 17, as part of their bid to stop the facility have its opening hours reduced and volunteer staff introduced.”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Axe raised on Clydebank services – Clydebank Post. “Handing libraries over to WD Leisure would save the council £457,000 — this is a trend seen among other councils in Scotland”
  • Wiltshire – Government funding blow for Wiltshire Council – Salisbury Journal. “The grant for the next financial year will be £103.8million which will fall from £119million with services that are not ring fenced such as libraries, waste collection, social care and highways expected to take the brunt. “

“From early January opening hours for 15 Wirral  libraries are to be reduced, from regular hours including some evening opening, to 18 hours a week  (initial proposal was 10 hours).  They are described as community libraries but actually range from small to very busy larger branches.  No library closures  which is really good but of course a library building is different from a library service. Current plans are for librarians posts  to be reduced from 12 to 5 with staff having to compete for remaining posts. Day to day management of library buildings and library staff now to be the responsibility of One Stop Shop Managers.” Wirral