The death of Sir Terry Pratchett today hit me with surprising force.  My teenage years and onwards were filled with his books, with each new one a big event.  His titles combine the ability to make one laugh out loud with the shock of making you have to think as well.  You will recognise personalities and political stances, prejudices and whole historical periods in the Discworld books.  Sir Terry had a gigantically wide knowledge (both pop culture and some pretty darn academic stuff) along with a devilish skill with the pun.  But, cards on the table, of course one of the reasons I liked the Discworld books so much was the ape (don’t ever call him a monkey) librarian.  He was one of the key characters in the books despite being able to only say ook.  Genius.  This wasn’t entirely an accident: Sir Terry loved libraries and claims to have received his education in one.  See this video below.  It’s also interesting to think how important he was in the struggle to publicise dementia, something that public libraries are now thankfully taking a leading role on.  Yes, indeed, we have lost a great friend in him but we will never lose his books. Let’s try to make sure that our doors will remain open.

If you want to help them [the oppressed], build a big library or something somewhere and leave the door open.The character Rincewind in “Interesting Times” by Terry Pratchett.




  • The cost of the cuts: the impact on local government and poorer communities – Joseph Rowntree Foundation. “Across the councils, libraries were clearly highly valued: for books, internet access and as a source of free entertainment for children. There was both awareness of, and concern about, the closures and consolidations of libraries which have formed part of retrenchment and redesign of services across the case studies. Participants suggested that this would impact most on children who required internet access, with one stating that she took her children to the local library every day to do their homework. In one neighbourhood, the loss of a dedicated children’s area in their library was highlighted by participants – leading, it was said, to tensions between users. However, changes to library opening hours appeared to have had a bigger impact. The loss of a service on particular evening could affect on a working parent’s capacity to use the service. In one council, where local communities had been encouraged to take over particular libraries, participants reported that their local library had severely curtailed its opening hours since being run by volunteers. In another, it was reported that they felt there were fewer staff working in the library, leading to longer queues …” Multiple references to libraries including quote below.

“One of the most well-known changes to the provision of local government services has been the use of volunteers, with libraries being the most prominent service using this strategy. It was evident that a number had been saved from closure as local voluntary groups had come together and taken over their running. In one council, two libraries earmarked for closure were now staffed entirely by volunteers and a further four were operating in partnership with agencies such as local colleges and housing organisations. In another, volunteers had been recruited to minimise the impact of lone working. In contrast with strategic officers, operational staff were not always supportive of the use of volunteering. One library services provider described how a flagship library had been closed and then reopened using volunteers “to the eternal shame of the city council”.

  • Godfray warns on library e-lending – BookSeller (behind paywall). BookSeller’s Association boss says successful library e-lending would cause “serious damage” to booksellers.
  • Libraries don’t need more advocacy, they need better advocacy – CILIP. ” If we believe that librarianship matters to people and communities, and not just to us and our jobs, it’s time to raise our game, and become much more strategic, evidence-based, disciplined advocates.  I mean strategic, in the sense of getting the greatest benefit from the scarce resources available (especially our time); evidence-based, in the sense of integrating research on what works, and doesn’t, from inside and outside the library sector; and disciplined, in the sense of a shared and unwavering focus on the long game, for the sake of members and communities, and not the institutional survival of libraries. In effect, not more advocacy of the “spray and pray” variety, but better advocacy.  “
  • Panlibus – Spring edition available online. Including articles on library search, social media use, the customer journey.
  • Pickles gives Enterprising Libraries a cash boost – LocalGov. “Libraries that help local people set up their own business have been given a £650,000 funding boost. Enterprising Libraries will be given the extra cash to help support entrepreneurs by offering coaching, meeting spaces and help with developing a business proposal.” … “The £1.2m programme was launched by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Arts Council England and the British Library in 2013, and is now across 16 libraries. Research has shown they have a strong record for attracting hard to reach communities, with 10% of participants currently unemployed, and 38% from black and minority ethnic groups.”
  • Points of Light: March 2015 winners – Gov.uk. “Sebastian has created London’s smallest library inside a disused phone box. Sebastian bought the iconic red K2 British phone box for £1 as part of a BT scheme. He spent £500 of his own money on extra lights in the ceiling, laid carpet and opened it up to the public. The library has 7 shelves and houses over 200 books from fiction and reference, with a whole shelf dedicated to children’s books. It is looked after by 2 librarians.”
    Send a letter to your local MP – Voices for the Library. “We’ve often been asked if we have a template letter that people can send to their local MP, or if we can point to somewhere that does. With the general election coming up and the likely outcome being further cuts to public services (with libraries undoubtedly bearing the brunt of the cuts once more), we thought it was about time we put a template letter on the site that you can use.”
Soon to be in a library dictionary near you

Soon to be in a library dictionary near you


  • Call for proposals – Public Libraries 2020 (EU). “We will support advocacy projects at any level (local, national or international) that outline services that public libraries provide in the areas of social inclusion, digital inclusion or lifelong learning. The grant: You can apply for a grant of up to 15,000.00 euro. Who can apply? We will invite public libraries, public library associations and other organizations working with public libraries in one or more of the EU 28 countries to apply. We will fund newly developed projects or ongoing initiatives tailored specifically to this programme. “
  • Forecasting the Future of Libraries 2015 – American Libraries (USA). “Trends in culture, community, and education point to increased potential for expanding the role of libraries of all types”.  A look at trends.  “For many of us, thinking about the library of the future begins with thinking about the future of the library as space and place. “
  • Library voices – Taylor and Francis (USA/Global). “Library Voices aims to capture stories from academic librarians around the world, focusing on what their library roles entail, how they are changing, and to demonstrate the positive and considerable contribution libraries are making to the research community, particularly those in developing regions. This output will primarily be a collection of short videos, but will also include audio recordings, images, and text-based accounts.”
  • National Library Legislative Day 2015 – ALA (USA). “Vote for Libraries! Join us in Washington, DC on May 4-5, 2015 and let your Members of Congress know why libraries are important to their constituents. “
  • Remember card catalogs? – MPR News (USA). An artist makes some beautiful pictures for old card catalogues … and some pretty nifty notebooks too.
  • Revamped libraries to open in next few years: Sim Ann – Channel NewsAsia (Singapore). “Among the new features the National Library Board is working on is the setting up of IDA Lab in Jurong Regional Library. Slated to open later this year, the lab will let users tinker with gadgets such as 3D printers and micro-controllers. “The IDA Lab in Jurong will encourage users to create, invent, network and share skills and knowledge in a fun, well-equipped space. Users can tinker with gadgets, using tools and equipment such as 3D printers and micro-controllers,” she said. On Members of Parliament’s suggestions to introduce more themed libraries in the heartlands, Ms Sim said a dedicated “teen space” will be set up in Pasir Ris Public Library while the new Tampines Regional Library will be integrated with a culinary studio.”
  • Would you spend $200 million on a library? It buys more than books – Orange County Register (USA).  A look at Cerritos Millennium Library and a desire to build a bigger one in neighbouring area: “Staff can roam the stacks with wireless headsets and iPads to help facilitate research and checking out materials. The Teen Studio includes computers equipped with Adobe Creative Suite. The Children’s Library is delightful even to adults, featuring a replica T-Rex skeleton named Stan, a green screen where kids can pretend to be on TV and an area filled with the sounds of a rainforest.” Also includes 15,000 gallon aquarium.

UK local news by authority

  • Barnet – Finchley: few seats can boast such stark differences in wealth – Guardian. “Sackman’s campaign is concentrated elsewhere, defending local services from ill-focused austerity: disabled children’s services, a popular nursery and libraries. The last is a particularly hot topic in East Finchley, where the local library occupies an imposing Grade II-listed art deco building, which is a sacred monument to civic pride or an inefficient use of municipal resources, depending on your view. A recent council meeting descended into chaos when the Conservative mayor accidentally sided with the opposition and had to retract his vote. The chamber was stormed by grey-haired protesters brandishing paperback books.”
  • Bristol – Bristol’s deputy mayor calls for rethink of plan for library closures – Bristol Post. “First he broke ranks with Mayor George Ferguson over the threat of library closures in Bristol – now he is starting to put the boot in. Deputy Mayor Geoff Gollop, a member of Mr Ferguson’s inner sanctum and his second in command, is calling for a cross-party working group to be set up to reconsider a shake-up of the library service which puts seven of them at risk of closure. Mr Gollop – pictured – has tabled a motion at next Tuesday’s full council meeting for the new group which would effectively end the threat of closures. And the Liberal Democrats have waded in with their own motion which calls for the current plans to be withdrawn – in other words, scrap plans to close any libraries. Mr Ferguson decided to go ahead with a review at a cabinet meeting last week, despite objections from councillors and campaigners.”

“At no point during the first round of consultation was closure mooted to the public and yet, despite the widespread support from the public responses, that appears to be the end result. “As such, although we note that the report calls for a further 12 weeks of consultation (extended to 16 weeks following Cabinet) on the fate of the threatened seven facilities, we are concerned that once again this ‘discussion’ is being used as window dressing for a pre-determined decision” Deputy Mayor

  • Coventry – Coventry library staff could be replaced by volunteers and new self-service technology – Coventry Telegraph. “Fears jobs could be lost at Coventry’s libraries have grown after the man tasked with restructuring the service indicated volunteers and self-service technology could replace staff. Labour Coun David Kershaw, Coventry City Council cabinet member for education, has pledged no library service jobs will be axed during 2015. But the future of workers beyond that point has grown increasingly uncertain after Coun Kershaw told library campaigners at a public council meeting that he saw self-service technology and volunteers as playing a crucial role” Poll on “Would you pay extra council tax to save your library?” is currently 50/50.
  • Devon – Devon confirms mutual move for libraries – BookSeller. “Councillors approved the plans at a cabinet meeting yesterday (11th March), following in the footsteps of other councils, including Suffolk and the City of York. The new structure will see the creation of a mutual, an independent charitable organisation owned by the community which will have the responsibility of running the county’s library service. It will mean that it will be eligible for 80% discount on business rates, and will be able to apply for grants and funds not open to local authorities.”
  • Glasgow – Review of Glasgow libraries launched  Evening Times. “In recent years, the number of people borrowing books has declined while digital services such as downloading ebooks or magazines has increased. At the same time, the use of space in libraries has been changing with developments such as the partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support.” … “Glasgow Life insists there are no plans to close any of its 33 libraries which get 5.5million visitors a year but to ensure they remain in full use in the future.”
  • Harrow – Four libraries to close according to Harrow Council’s library strategy – Harrow Times. “Library closures have been ‘rubber stamped’ despite objections from almost two thirds of consultation responses. As part of Harrow Council’s budget, funding for libraries across the borough has been slashed by £500,000 for 2015/6, with further cuts expected in the coming years. Yet despite 71.48 per cent of consultation responses stating they were against the closure of libraries, the council’s report states that it still plans to go ahead with the closure of Bob Lawrence, Hatch End, North Harrow and Rayners Lane Libraries – despite pledging to open a new library in Harrow town centre.”
  • Herefordshire – Completion – Ledbury Master’s House. Some beautiful pictures of the completed joint museum / library.
  • Lambeth – Save Our Libraries public meeting tonight, 11th March – Brixton Blog. “A public meeting is being held tonight at Brixton Library, 7 pm, to discuss fighting the cuts to Lambeth’s libraries. Lambeth council has launched a consultation on Cultural Services by 2020. Save Our Services campaigners are hoping to find ways to fight the cuts that are proposed for the borough’s libraries.”
  • Lincolnshire – John Hayes invites FoDL and Nick Worth to a meeting in Downing Street – Friends of Deeping Library. “John Hayes, Conservative MP for South Holland and the Deepings, has long been an outspoken opponent of the plan to close our library. With the deadline for the decision looming at the end of this month, and in the face of a lack of any acceptable proposal from Lincolnshire County Council (LCC), he asked Nick Worth, the member with responsibility for libraries, to his ministerial office to meet representatives from the FoDL Committee. The meeting took place on March 9th and was an attempt to find a way forward.” AGM delayed until results know.
  • Milton Keynes – Kingston Library: Is this the most modern library in the country? – MK Web. “Shadow Culture Minister Chris Bryant visited the new Kingston Library alongside Andrew Pakes, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate and Milton Keynes Council’s cabinet members for community services Pete Marland and Liz Gifford.” … “The library has a community focus, hosting a children’s hour, story time, play activities, screenings and music. The library closes its doors for an hour to host exclusive and private story time sessions for children and their parents. This activity in itself brings in around 50 visitors a week.”
  • Stoke – Burslem Book Room is banking on being an inspiration – Sentinel. “A band of volunteers based at Swan Bank Methodist Church took on responsibility for manning the mini-library. Now they have secured a £40,000 grant from the People’s Health Trust to expand their activities and employ a part-time member of staff to coordinate the work over the next two years. Burslem Book Room’s approach could also provide a model for other North Staffordshire communities as more council libraries are handed over to volunteer groups to run.”

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