I emailed Brian Ashley from the Arts Council about the grants thing (see my last post). His reply bears repeating in full.  The fact remains there’s almost no money for this sort of thing normally so well done to ACE for supplying it in this instance. Other things to notice this week include the multitude of ideas coming in to Bristol as part of its consultation (you can rate other people’s ideas, which I think is excellent, even if some of the ideas are yeah … but …) and also the call from the York Mutual for members for its AGM. I don’t know enough about York for some reason – it doesn’t get the publicity of it’s southern counterpart Suffolk – but it’s striking its own path, which others may wish to follow.

The funding for the Grants for the arts programme is from the Arts Lottery and we are required to ensure that it is used to deliver arts based outcomes. This still allows for a broad range of activity to be supported. In particular we encourage library services to consider how they can work in partnerships with arts organisations to advance their broader objectives.  

With this fund the Arts Council has ring-fenced resources for applications that are led by library services which makes it easier for them to secure funds this way than is the case for our more general Grants for the arts programme. Having committed to this for the first three years since we took on the development agency role for libraries in England, we are pleased to sustain that commitment for a further three years. At a time when many library services have found it difficult to develop new activity, this scheme has been successful in animating library spaces in new and imaginative ways.  

We are very aware that library services face financial pressures across the full range of their role, and our other development funding is used more widely, for example by supporting the SCL Universal Offers and the work of The Reading Agency. Responsibility for funding and delivering libraries sits with local authorities, and our contribution is not there to directly address these wider funding pressures.” Brian Ashley, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England.


“This is not our Britpop anthem. This is dedicated to everyone trying to keep libraries open.” Manic Street Preachers at Roundhouse concert this week.

UK national

  • 2014: the highs and lows in public services – Guardian. Leads with photograph of the Library of Birmingham whose £185m building (likely to cost up to £500m when all interest payments have been paid) has halved its opening hours barely one year after opening. “It won’t be much of a happy new year for 1,100 workers set to lose their jobs at Birmingham city council, including more than half the staff of the city’s showpiece new library as its opening hours are slashed. But at least it will still be open: according to new figures from public finance body Cipfa, another 49 UK libraries shut in 2013-14, making 337 closures since 2009-10, with hundreds more kept open only by volunteers.”
  • Arts Council England hires Classic FM boss as new CEO – Guardian. “Darren Henley, head of Classic FM for the past 15 years, has been named chief executive of Arts Council England. He replaces Alan Davey, who quit to become controller of Radio 3 after seven years in the job. In 2011 and 2012, Henley wrote two government reviews on music and cultural education that resulted in initiatives including England’s first national plan for music education.”
  • Lending on the rise as Welsh libraries buck UK trend – Guardian series. “The Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport & Tourism Ken Skates said: “I’m pleased to see the increase in the number of active borrowers in Wales and the increase in electronic issues. Libraries make a real difference to people’s lives by improving literacy, developing digital skills and providing access to knowledge, which in turn helps to tackle poverty and support health and well-being.” “
  • Outsourced and unaccountable: this is the future of local government – Guardian. A look at the outsourcing of Barnet council. “For those who live and work in Barnet, their local affairs are now handled remotely by people hundreds of miles away, who know nothing about them or the area. Payroll for what remains of council staff is done in Belfast, while for schools it’s Carlisle. Pension queries go to Darlington. Benefits end up in Blackburn. Parking notices come from Croydon. Calls to the local library are first directed to Coventry. Even births, deaths and marriages are managed in Brent.”
  • Pushing the boundaries… – Leon’s Library Blog. Notes the relative lack of merging library authorities as a way to save money. “There is a lesson for library services here. In the rush to cut costs by reducing staff, service points, hours, stock funds, and introducing volunteers the one idea that has failed to gain ground with politicians is the idea of regional, rather than county/unitary, library services. However, there are many advantages to doing so including the sharing of expertise, back office functions, and merging staffing structures to achieve economies of scale.”


  • 10 Ways Your Child With Special Needs Can Benefit From a Trip To The Library – Friendship Circle (USA). “The truth is that patrons with disabilities are welcome at public libraries everywhere.  Some libraries even offer a free delivery service to homebound patrons or a postage-paid books-by-mail service. My family visits the local library at least once a week.  Even before my son was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, the library was an essential part of his sensory integration and introduction to social skills and life skills. Here are 10 life lessons that any family can learn at the library.”
  • 200 Librarians to Follow on Twitter – Matt Anderson (USA). “It’s nice to have a support network of smart librarians to talk to and learn from on Twitter. I’ve compiled a list of 200 librarians I recommend following on Twitter. Read Library Science Daily for their contributions to my library world. I publish it every morning.” [Includes some UK names – Ed.]
  • France: Agreement Signed to Facilitate E-Lending in French Public Libraries – Library Journal (France). “Twelve recommendations are set out in the agreement in order to make available digital editorial output within and outside the public libraries’ premises while ensuring fair remuneration for rightholders. In the preamble to the agreement, the exclusive right of authors to authorize the e-lending of their works is acknowledged, and the solutions and initiatives to implement the twelve recommendations are therefore to be developed on a “contractual basis”.”
  • Libraries without physical books find a niche in San Antonio – Washington Post (USA). “This is the second library to be exclusively digital in San Antonio. Visitors can check out an e-reader for two weeks and pick from a selection of 25,000 books, or surf the Web on one of the library’s computers. The first branch — what Bexar County is calling a BiblioTech— opened in September 2013 and had more than 103,000 visitors in the first 12 months it was opened. Nearly 68,000 e-books were checked out during that period.”
  • Library advocacy in Europe: the Reading & Writing Foundation – NAPLE Blog (EU). “Launched on 2004, the Reading & Writing Foundation is an initiative aiming to “raise awareness of the significant levels of illiteracy, in children and adults, in The Netherlands and abroad”. 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 and expand their role as engines of development …”
  • The future of libraries – no books, no knowledge – Spiked Online. “Beyond Books is a depressing testament to the ignorance, philistinism and cowardice embodied by modern libraries. This is made all the more pertinent by the fact that the Carnegie UK Trust was central to the establishment of public libraries in the UK.” … “This report embodies the library sector’s newfound contempt for the public, for librarians and for knowledge (which, unlike information, cannot be ‘borrowed and shared’ in some enterprise hub). It is an invitation for libraries to sign their own death warrants.”
  • Ten Stories That Shaped 2014 – LIS News (USA). You can tell it’s American as there’s no mention of cuts.
  • Use of social media by the library – Taylor and Francis (USA). “This white paper has been researched and compiled by Taylor & Francis to provide an overview of current practices relating to the use by libraries of social media, from a world-wide perspective, against which individual institutions can benchmark their own activities and be inspired to try new approaches.”

Supporter’s news

  • What is humour? – Discover more about what humour is and the theories behind it in this sample chapter from Humour: A Very Short Introduction by Noël Carroll (available on Very Short Introductions online).

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – The Mill Hill Library Campaign Group gather to oppose library cuts in Barnet – Times Series. “The Mill Hill Library Campaign Group gathered on Saturday outside Mill Hill Broadway station to highlight the potential closure of Mill Hill Library, in Hartley Avenue. Barnet Borough Council is considering options including closing libraries, making them smaller or staffing them with volunteers as part of measures to save £2.85million.”
  • Blackburn with Darwen – Council bosses call on coummunities to help keep their local libraries open – Lancashire Telegraph. “Blackburn with Darwen Council is looking for volunteers to help run community libraries in Livesey, Mill Hill and Roman Road … The move comes as the leisure department looks to save a further £2million over the next three years, but libraries chief Coun Damian Talbot said closing the libraries would be an ‘absolute last resort’. “
  • Brent – Disputing the facts in the Kensal Rise Library case – Wembley Matters. “Former Kensal Rise Library (KRL) is listed for auction in two days’ time – Wednesday, 17 December. This blog is an attempt to respond to questions, misunderstandings and concerns which are again being raised about the Option Agreement (OA) document to purchase KRL”
  • Bristol – Bristol libraries: Have your say before the system is overhauled – Bristol Post. “”We need to create flexible spaces that serve the whole population of the city and not just the small percentage we are currently reaching. There are loads of opportunities to go to a meeting at your local library or neighbourhood forum and you can always give us your views and suggestions on libraries at www.bristolfuturelibraries.co.uk.” The website allows members of the public to express their views on the current library service, as well as gather suggestions for what they would like to see in the future. Alongside this site the council have also launched www.bristol.gov.uk/ libraryideas to capture ideas from the public, and allow people to work collaboratively to develop and rate suggestions.”
  • Bristol Save Bristol’s Public Libraries! – Bristol Trade Unions Council. “‘Independent’ Mayor George Ferguson would have you believe that their ‘Libraries for the Future’ consultation about Bristol’s public libraries is an exciting development and expansion of services for the thousands of regular users and thousands more occasional users. Behind their florid propaganda however lies a savage cut of £1.1 million per year – or 20% – from the budget.”
  • Bristol – Wanted! Ideas for the future of Bristol’s libraries — Bristol Future Libraries discussion site – Bristol Council. Invites public to suggest ideas for the library service, with others being able to comment and rate them [Many ideas are commonplace or impossible but there’s some interesting gems – Ed.]
  • Devon – Colyton: Positive start for library pilot scheme – View from Online. “Friends of Colyton Library have said they have had a “positive meeting” with Devon LIbrary Service after being selected as one of 12 groups across the county to pilot and community-led scheme.” … “The council agreed to pilot the community project after hearing that councils elsewhere had successfully transferred the delivery of their libraries to “mutuals” or “trusts” who run the libraries on the councils’ behalf, and that library staff previously employed by those councils had been retained and continued to professionally run their libraries, with local communities having a greater say in services.”
  • Devon – Volunteers need community to back Bampton library relocation – Mid Devon Gazette. “The threat of an end to valued library services in Bampton has been avoided, with the town now promised a service equipped for the 21st century. An application by a group of volunteers to form a Community Pilot Scheme has been approved by Devon County Council.” … “Devon Voluntary Action (DeVA) will be working with the council to help support the community groups throughout the pilot project. Programme manager Karen Nolan, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for community groups to get involved in a new way of delivering services. They have so much to offer but can’t do it alone.”
  • Harrow – ‘We love our library’ – protest against library closure in North Harrow – This is Local London. “Hundreds of people staged a protest to stop North Harrow Library, in Pinner Road, being closed as part of cost-cutting measures in Harrow Borough Council’s latest budget. On Saturday, December 13, more than 100 people waved an eight foot banner outside the building, begging councillors to rethink their decision. Pupils from St John Fisher School, who say they “love” reading, also took part in the protest, joining in with chants of “save our library”.”
  • Kirklees – Thousands back petition to save Cleckheaton library – Telegraph and Argus. Campaigners “bidding to save Cleckheaton library have gathered 3,700 signatures on a petition protesting against its potential closure. The Grade II-listed building is under threat as Kirklees Council needs to reduce its £5.75 million library services budget by £3.2m by 2018. Cleckheaton’s Liberal Democrat Councillors – Andrew Pinnock, Kath Pinnock, and John Lawson – have presented the ‘Hands Off Our Library’ petition to the authority, and once verified, the number of signatures will ensure it triggers a full Council debate to discuss the future of the site.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – New dawn for thriving hub of the community – Grimsby Telegraph. “Thursday’s official launch of the venue will coincide with the opening of its latest addition, a community library. Centre4 staff have been undergoing training in preparation for taking over the service, which will replace the council-run library previously located at the Grimsby Institute campus in Sutcliffe Avenue. Nunsthorpe was one of six libraries in North East Lincolnshire which the council said it could no longer afford to operate. Chief officer at Centre4 Linda Dellow said: “We didn’t just want the service to be lost. This is the ideal place for it as we have so many things under one roof. “We really do need volunteers to help us make it a success so I would encourage anyone interested in helping out to get in touch.”
  • Somerset – Friends of Crewkerne library to campaign against cuts at meeting tomorrow – Western Gazette. “The group hopes to use the opportunity to make its case to Somerset County Council that the present library resources available to the public in Crewkerne are maintained. The main concerns are about the mobile libraries that operate in the area, amid fears that the halting of the service will leave some residents cut off.”
  • Walsall – Three’s not a crowd as library cuts loom – Express and Star. Three people turned up for meeting, including one libraries student and a parliamentary candidate. “Seating for more than 50 people had been set up at Central Library in Walsall on Saturday in anticipation of a large crowd. People were advised to book in advance of the meeting because of the expected high turn-out over plans to close half the borough’s libraries. The meeting, which went ahead regardless, was delayed for 20 minutes to allow for late arrivals. But when no one else turned up, Walsall’s head of libraries Sue Grainger went ahead and gave her presentation.” [The week before Christmas is obviously not a great time to schedule a public meeting? Or the meeting was inadequately publicised? Or no one uses libraries in Walsall? – Ed.]
  • York – Residents needed to help reshape libraries in shake-up – York Press. “Explore York Libraries and Archives Mutual Ltd is offering people the chance to become a community member to vote at Annual General Meetings, join advisory groups that support the libraries’ work and stand for election to the board as community directors. All members will receive a quarterly newsletter, as well as a loyalty card for the reading cafes in Rowntree Park and at York and Acomb libraries. “