Congratulations to the four people below who have been named in the New Year’s Honours List and have connections to public libraries.  All of the honours are richly deserved and reflect service over and above the norm.  However, the decision to honour the Staffordshire chief (currently managing deep cuts to her service – although the award was for work elsewhere) and the chair of one of the first volunteer-run libraries has raised some eyebrows.  The feeling is that the Government, intentionally or otherwise, is reinforcing a message already received loud and clear in many library services that the move towards volunteer run libraries is to be praised and a positive response to deep funding cuts. This represents a challenge for public library campaigners who need to argue loudly for paid staff, an argument that given the hostile climate now needs strong evidence and clear arguments to succeed.  This email I received highlights the challenge:

“The professional librarians answer to less money and lower library usage is not very clear. If anything their answer appears to be defensive and unsatisfactory i.e. if the taxpayer won’t give us the money to run all the libraries the way we would like then we should close the smaller libraries and retrench to just running the bigger libraries in the traditional way. Whilst that may be a neat and tidy solution for professional librarians I’m not convinced it is the optimum policy for residents.” Personal email received

    Anyway, here’s a look at the Honours winners in more detail:

  • Janene Cox – Order of the British Empire – “For services to Libraries” – Janene has not only been responsible for Staffordshire Libraries but is also the Past President of the Society of Chief Librarians and a panel member in the recent Sieghart Independent Report on Public Libraries. The SCL (and Sieghart) has been notably pragmatic about changes to public library funding, accepting (at least in England) the need for volunteers and has maintained a professional and moderate attitude to the deepest cuts in public libraries in living history.  It has concentrated instead on pushing the reasons why public libraries are important to local and national agendas. More locally, 24 out of 43 of the libraries in Staffordshire are currently being considered for passing to volunteers and there are recently announced plans (see below) for the complete withdrawal of the mobile library service.  This makes it one of the authorities facing the deepest cuts in England and Janene is in charge of it (although she is Commissioner for Tourism and Culture now so presumably does not have direct operational control).  Having said that, it’s hard to find a senior library manager not having to cope with serious cuts at the moment or in the recent past and the award is for her work with the SCL. It’s also worth bearing in mind that, although senior in library circles, Janene is just another officer when it comes to what her bosses want – so if she’s told she has to significantly cut the service then she has not choice but to do the best she can.
  • Tony Hoare – British Empire Medal – “For services to the community” – Organiser of the group that saved Chalfont St Giles Library when Buckinghamshire Council wanted to close it several years ago.  The success of this volunteer-run library, and that of neighbouring libraries, has been used numerous times in other councils in order to encourage similar.  Having said that, this library (and that of nearby Little Chalfont) have been careful to not directly promote volunteer-run libraries – they’re seen here (as I suspect in many places) as a last resort alternative to no library at all.
  • Annemarie Naylor – Member of the British Empire – “For services to community asset ownership” – Director at Common Futures, and an Associate Director (Community Assets) with Locality.  Annemarie assists in transferring council owned buildings to non-council community control. She has been involved with public libraries and. I know from personal experience that she is a keen and passionate supporter of them.
  • Martyn Wade – Order of the British Empire – “For Services to Culture in Scotland” – National Librarian and Chief Executive, National Library of Scotland. Martyn Wade is also chair of CILIP Council.

See the Full list of honours.



UK national

  • CILIP Conference 2015 – CILIP. “Registration for The CILIP Conference 2015 is now open.Visit the dedicated conference website for full details and to book your place. Keynote speakers already confirmed include; professor and author R. David Lankes; author, journalist and activist Cory Doctorow; and human rights activist and Director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabati. ” … “The Call for Papers is now open for the country’s leading library and information conference. Following on from Umbrella 2013, the CILIP Conference regularly attracts over 600 delegates from across the library and information world to meet, learn, debate and be inspired. “
  • Coffee is only the start of the future of our libraries – Guardian. “At the moment, any ideas about using digital technology to make libraries exciting places for readers (see the Library 21 project ) are thwarted by barriers. One is a lack of central control, hence the proposal for a national taskforce. Another is a lack of funding. Perhaps the greatest barrier is attitudes: the stubborn views held by some publishers on e-lending need to change, along with our sometimes overly nostalgic notions of what a library service can be.”
  • Great and the good of Essex recognised in New Year’s honours list – EADT. “Annemarie Naylor, from Wivenhoe, has been given an MBE for services to community asset ownership. Ms Naylor, 47, works with the Locality charity and helps groups across the country giving advice and support as they bid for community buildings such as pubs and libraries to keep them open. She said: “It is very flattering and reflects the hard work of the many people that I help. It is astonishing. “I am incredibly proud and excited. So many people are so deserving so this is really quite something.” Wivenhoe, where she lives with her parter Nina, has recently seen the Black Buoy pub bought by a consortium of residents, while the town council has also looked to take over buildings such as the former police station. Ms Naylor, who studied at the University of Essex, added: “It’s fantastic what is going on in Wivenhoe, though I am not driving it.”


  • Finding a Balance at the New York Public Library – Wall Street Journal (USA). Moves and changes to New York libraries. ““Libraries will never become irrelevant,” Mr. Chesler said. Still, planning their future demands flexibility given the rapid pace of technological change, he said—just “figuring out what the printed book will look like in 2030 is a challenge.””
  • Hartford Public Library History Center Receives National Leadership for Libraries Grant – Northend Agents (USA). “With the grant funding, the Library’s Hartford History Center, in collaboration with the Digital Media Center at the University of Connecticut, will develop “Find Your Voice,” a nationally replicable model for the integration of libraries’ humanities collections with their civic engagement programs. This interpretive, mobile-optimized website will use interactive media to engage a diverse public in exploring historic individuals who found their civic voice through poetry, performance and other expressive forms. Additionally, multimedia tutorials will connect past traditions of civic engagement to contemporary concerns, strategies, and voices. “Find Your Voice” not only situates present-day visitors to the website within a centuries-long local tradition of civic literacy and involvement, it will also empower them to discover how they, too, can help build a more equitable, vibrant, and democratic society at the community level.”
  • I Work at a Public Library – Neatorama (USA). A look at some of the funny questions that get asked.

“Patron 2: Where is the nearest waterfall? I want to dunk my head in it.”

  • Millennials: The Future of the Public Library – Public Libraries Online (USA). “Millennials may not seem like a predominant demographic among library users, but a recent Pew study discredits this idea. Aged 16-29, this age group is far more tech-savvy than older Americans but remains skeptical about the quality of information available on the Internet. As a result, it should come as no surprise that 50% of millennials confirm having used a public library in the last year, a slightly higher total th an the 47% of those over 30”
  • UK local news by authority
  • Birmingham – People with body odor banned from public library – Radar. “Three smelly people in the United Kingdom, who were seen reading books at the Birmingham library, were prevented from browsing the shelves in the building due to lack of personal hygiene. Two other people have been banned from the library for indecent exposure while three others were banned for aggressive behavior towards staff. Police said that there have been 46 separate physical or verbal attacks against library staff in Birmingham.”
  • Bolton – Bolton library is second most popular in north west – Bolton News. “The region now has 14 fewer libraries than the previous year, with a fall in book stocks of 8.7 per cent also bigger than any other region in the UK. Bolton Council closed five libraries in 2012 in Astley Bridge, Oxford Grove, Heaton, Highfield and Castle Hill but all the remaining centres have stayed open since then. In its recent budget announcement, the council has vowed not to close any libraries but 10 jobs could be lost as the library and museum service is asked to cut between £300,000 and £500,000 from its budget.”
  • Brent – Will privatisation of Brent Council’s Library Management damage the service? – Wembley Matters.  “Labour Brent Council has closed six of the borough’s 12 libraries. Now, as well as proposing to cut the amount spent on library stock the Council is also considering out-sourcing the management of the library service as a way of saving on rates. This is the proposal (ENS18) in the documentation that went to Cabinet last month” … “To change the management of the library service to a trust arrangement. The exact arrangement will need to be determined.”. Post looks at  problems with outsourcing.
  • Bristol – Reader’s letter: Use Bristol museums cash to fund our libraries – Bristol Post. “Has Mr Smith wondered why people use computers provided by libraries? Has it occurred to him that they cannot afford their own? What about the many who prefer reading the printed word? Is he aware of the housebound who rely on visits from library staff for books? May I suggest that Mr Smith ceases going around with his eyes glued to his Kindle, and spares a thought to the many for whom the library is an indispensable service?”  … “IF there are to be cuts to the council services in 2015, as appears likely given the rhetoric from central and local government, this shouldn’t be to the excellent library service. This should remain free to access and open to all. A better option would be to transfer the running of Bristol’s museums and art gallery to a private charitable trust, which can then more effectively solicit donations and gifts and apply for funding.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Dedicated volunteer from Chalfont St Giles receives new year’s honour – Get Bucks. “Tony Hoare, 74, has helped save the community library and the memorial hall along with a team of helpers … “The community library has been run entirely by some sixty local residents since it opened nearly eight years ago. “The success of this library in providing such an excellent service to the village is due to the hard work and enthusiasm of all these volunteers.” Mr Hoare persuaded the parish council to purchase the library building and has also worked with the county council, which now gives a grant for its upkeep. He has spoken widely to many councils about how to set up community libraries.”
  • Cardiff – Welsh author who spent most of her 1950s childhood in a library issues an emotive plea to stop cuts and closures – Wales Online. “Award-winning children’s writer Jenny Sullivan credits Cardiff’s libraries with having ‘made me the writer I am today'”
  • “Recalling her Cardiff childhood in the 1950s, Dr Sullivan said: “For a child born in Canton, with an electrician for a Dad and five siblings, there was barely money for sufficient food and clothing, let alone luxuries… but every Saturday saw the entire family troop down Cowbridge Road East to Canton Library. “I’d scour the shelves, picking up, putting down, looking for that magic combination of big, thick book with small-ish print and an interesting-looking inside, and then rejoin the family to have a black date stamp thumped down inside the front cover. And then I’d carry it home.”

  • Cardiff – The Future of Libraries – Jackie Morris Artist. “Cardiff Central library, voted one of the top six libraries in the world is now going through a second year of budget cuts. Last year they lost the top floor, a quarter of their staff, and closed one day a week. Next year it is to become a Super Hub losing two more floors when Marland House (the housing benefit and council tax centre) moves into the building. This means the adult section of the library will become a fringe activity around a busy city advice centre and a huge proportion of stock will be lost to make space for it.”

“This is one of the scariest things. That library staff are banned from talking to the media. They are in fear of their jobs. Surely it should be council staff who stand against free speech who should be in fear of their position for even suggesting that people who work in libraries are forbidden from speaking out against destruction of the library services? It all seems very Alice in Wonderland.”

  • Conwy – Cerrigydrudion people take over their library – News North Wales. “The villagers  of Cerrigudrudion have been hailed as heroes for their fighting spirit.” … “The keys were handed over in time for Christmas with award-winning author Bethan Gwanas officially opening the building. She said: “In my ‘speech’ I quoted Abraham Lincoln: ‘My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.’ That’s exactly what libraries do. I think what the community of Cerrig has done is insiprational: agreeing to pay more tax in order for the library to survive. These days, small villages like Cerrig have to fight to keep the community going and that’s what Cerrig has done – shown fighting spirit – for all the right reasons.”” .. “Conwy County Borough Council will continue to provide core library services, such as staff time, books and PCs but the premises will be managed by Cerrigydrudion Community Library Support Group.”
  • Dudley – Volunteers to help run Black Country libraries under cost-cutting plans – Express and Star. “Community groups would take over the day-to-day management of the venues from Dudley Council. It comes as the authority continues its battle to make savings of at least £27million during the next three years. It also follows similar moves elsewhere in the region which could see community organisations take on libraries in Staffordshire and volunteers drafted in to run some in Sandwell.” … “Under the scheme the council would still own the building and be responsible for repairs.”
  • Haringey – Comment: ‘Haringey budget is full of bad choices – Labour needs to use its imagination’ – Tottenham Journal. “the budget papers show Haringey Labour’s clear intention to close Muswell Hill library without making it clear where a new library would go. This will cause immense concern to local people – where would a new library be placed? Would it be a proper replacement and close to the present site? Residents rightly love the library in Muswell Hill and Labour should consider making the existing library more modern and accessible, rather than relocating the service.”
  • Harrow – Save Bob Lawrence Library Campaign – an update – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “A grassroots resident led campaign to save the library in Edgware from closure is underway. Campaigners braved the rain this morning to bring signatures to over 1500. There is still time to sign the e-petition https://www.change.org/p/harrow-council-save-the-bob-lawrence-library and complete the Council’s consultation document, Take Part.”
  • Havering – Job saving alternative to Havering library cuts submitted by workers – Romford Recorder. “Management and staff members came up with alternative proposals at the 11th hour ahead of the consultation deadline, which was due to be Monday but was extended until today (Fri).The plans, which were emailed to all councillors, claim to achieve the hefty £1.14million savings, keep libraries open for more hours than originally proposed while saving 16 jobs, the local studies team and the Summer Reading Challenge,
  • This is achieved by changing contracts of managers from full time to however many hours the library is open, and reducing policy officer posts.
  • Hull – Hull City Council to discuss new 800-job leisure companyHull Daily Mail. “Setting up the not-for-profit company to operate Hull City Council’s leisure facilities, museums, libraries and the park ranger and catering services is expected to save the authority about £1m a year.”
  • Hull – Privatising the City of Culture (or can we trust trusts?) – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “Only a year after being awarded the accolade of the 2017 ‘City of Culture’ Hull City Council are proposing to set up a “leisure company” to take over the running of their leisure facilities, libraries, museums, park ranger and catering services. Now one  thing strikes me straight away about this; why are libraries part of the bundle, after all they are statutory and they aren’t in my opinion solely a leisure service? “
  • Isle of Wight – Isle of Wight Council budget proposals published – more cuts on the way – Isle of Wight County Press. “Proposals published today (Friday) by the Isle of Wight Council include withdrawing funding for community and subsidised bus services, axing concessionary fares for disabled people, replacing all but five public toilets with ‘community toilets’ in shops and cafes, reducing beach cleaning and parks maintenance, scrapping funding for arts projects and events — except the walking festival — and transferring some libraries to town and parish councils.”
  • Kirklees – Public meeting called to save Heckmondwike Library – Examiner. “The Friends of Heckmondwike Library group have launched a petition and organised the meeting in a bid to get support to save the service and the building for community use.” … ““Heckmondwike has no other centre for citizens advice, job centre or drop-ins for assisted job searches. A job centre outreach service and facilities such as utility bill payments, issuing of Kirklees passports, gateway to care enquiries and blue badge application are all currently offered by the library and are necessities for our local population.””
  • Newport – Newport council risks ‘disowning literary hero Arthur Machen if they chose to close library containing collection of his work’ Wales Online. “Horror writer Arthur Machen was born in Caerleon but later moved to London. The author, who wrote The Great God Pan and The Bowmen, died in 1947. The Friends of Arthur Machen literary society, whose members include comedian Stewart Lee, actor Barry Humphries and writer Alan Moore, are writing to Newport Council in support of safeguarding the collection for South Wales. They say that the possible closure of Newport Central Reference Library could put the renowned Arthur Machen Collection at risk. But the council say they have not made any decision and have reassured the group the collection would be kept safe”

“The figure you give for North Yorkshire County Council’s new ‘vision’ of 12 hubs is wrong!  Their proposal (Consultation closes end of January)  is 7 ‘hubs’ (1 per District Council area:Scarborough, Ryedale, Hambleton, Selby, Richmond, Harrogate, Craven ) ; 5 ‘hybrid’ libraries-1 member of staff + yet-to-be recruited volunteers;remainder to volunteers with arms length support. Rather like a medical quarantine exercise This is a disaster for everyone-I could send you a letter about to appear in North Yorkshire newspapers with an appeal for a cross-county appeal this New Year… Please note that this will be a paper petition-and will need people in every  library town (and area) on market day with petition forms. We need HELP.” North Yorkshire – Comment received on site

  • Nottinghamshire – Councillor John Knight: Powerful and thought-provoking events at your library this year – Chad. “As part of the county council’s recent Budget announcement, Nottinghamshire County Council is continuing to deliver its library and archive service while still aiming to make £1m in general revenue savings by 2016/17 to contribute to the Budget Challenge we face across the authority due to savage Government cuts. Libraries are of great value and we are investing in them to bring benefits to communities now and into the future.”
  • Oxfordshire – Kennington Library revamp will start new chapter – Oxford Mail. “A VILLAGE library will get its first refurbishment in 25 years after villagers raised £6,000. Kennington Library will get new carpets, a new, smaller counter to create more space for readers and shelving will be re-arranged. The money has been raised by the Friends of Kennington Library (FOKL), who have been fundraising to keep the library open since it lost its council funding. The group relies on volunteers to help run the library but said they do not stay long enough. It is hoped the makeover will encourage volunteers to stay for longer and see more children using the facility.” … “The Friends raise £3,500 a year to employ part-time staff for four-and-a-half hours a week and rely on volunteers to work seven-and-a-half hours a week.”. see also Tories in David Cameron’s constituency award themselves a 19% pay rise despite £20 million of cuts – Mirror. Councillors receive increase in expenses/allowances while pushing through cuts.
  • Powys – Newtown Town Council to discuss taking over services Powys no longer wishes to run – Shropshire Star. “Representatives of the council are set to meet with a number of smaller community councils to debate the possibility of creating a “cluster” to deliver services which Powys County Council (PCC) no longer wishes to run.”
  • Renfrewshire – Hundreds opposed to leisure trust transfer – Gazette. “In July this year The Gazette revealed how Johnstone’s new £14.5m town hall, Renfrew Town Hall, sports pitches and libraries could be passed to a charitable trust because of what the local authority claim is a £30million funding shortfall”.  SNP candidate says ““I know that RLL already manages some Common Good property such as the Victory Baths but this plan to extend the range of buildings they look after is a disgrace.”
  • Staffordshire – ‘Scrapping mobile libraries could save up to £500,000’ – Sentinel. “Leaders at Staffordshire County Council are considering the ‘complete withdrawal’ of the authority’s mobile and travelling library services as part of their budget proposals for the coming year.” … “”The complete withdrawal of the mobile and travelling library service could generate savings in the order of £0.5 million. “Following the review of static libraries, public consultation is required to understand potential impact on communities of a mobile/travelling library review.”
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire workers recognised in new year’s honours – Staffordshire Newsletter. “Having first moved to Staffordshire in 2004 as Head of the county’s Library Services, Janene has also been a trustee of The Reading Agency charity since 2008 and was a member of the expert panel commissioned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Communities and Local Government to produce the recently-published independent report into the future of the country’s public libraries.”