The absence of standards for libraries in England is an increasingly glaring one but whenever I ask chief librarians or other very senior staff about it, the answer is that standards simply mean a dive to the bottom, not to the top.  The idea goes that in times of cuts, councils would look at the minimum level of service required and cut their funding accordingly.  The problem with using this argument is of course that councils will do that anyway, minimum standards or no. What we’re seeing at the moment is many councils (with Lincolnshire being the most obvious recently) looking at seeing what they can get away with, seeing that they can get away with a lot (at best, one library per 45,000 people at the last non-intervention by Vaizey) and going with it or perhaps pushing it a bit more. Where there are standards in other countries (like Scotland and Wales)  then at least there is a minimum.  We don’t even have that in England.  How far can you fall when the well is bottomless?

A guide to the defunct English Library Standards can be found by clicking this link


National news

  • National Reading Group Day 2015: The Reading Agency launches search for reading groups’ favourite debut author of 2015 – Reading Agency. “To celebrate National Reading Group Day on 20 June 2015, national charity The Reading Agency, in partnership with The Booksellers Association, is launching a hunt for the debut author that the UK’s reading groups most want to read and champion this year. To start the search for the newcomer of 2015, publishers who are members of The Reading Agency’s partnership programme – which brings libraries and publishers into a closer relationship for successful and exciting reading promotions, activities and events in communities across the country – are invited to nominate recent titles by debut writers which they would like to share with reading groups to inspire them to discover something different.”
  • Pickles offers all public sector staff three days off for volunteering – LocalGov. “Cameron said: ‘Today’s announcement is a double win. It’s good for our economy, as it will help create a better, more motivated workforce. And it’s good for our society too, as it will strengthen communities and the bonds between us.’ Labour’s Shadow Minister for Civil Society, Lisa Nandy, said: ‘Giving every public servant three extra days off could cost millions of pounds but there’s no sense of how it will be paid for. If just half of public sector workers took this up it would be the time equivalent of around 2,000 nurses, 800 police and almost 3,000 teachers.”
  • Public service volunteers on the frontline: share your experiences – Guardian. “As the debate over public sector funding continues, we want to see how volunteers have been helping. To show the contribution volunteers make and the gaps they are filling in public services, we’d like to see your photos and videos, and hear stories of your experiences while frontline volunteering. Have you been volunteering in a hospital, food bank or charity recently? Or are you a public service professional who works with volunteers? Tell us about your experiences – positive or negative. We will use the most interesting contributions in our reporting.”

International news

  • Getting Self-Published Books into Public Libraries – Publisher’s Weekly (USA). How to get public libraries to buy your books – and a look at Self-e, a collaboration between libraries and authors.
  • Tablets: Are They Right for Your Library? – Public Libraries Online (USA). “While many have tried to use them as a roving reference accessory, others have found tablets to be most beneficial and effective for special projects such as story time or other youth service events.  Those that use them as a reference assistant have found it best to walk around with the tablet to find material rather than look up information on a desktop and then direct the patron in the right direction.  With the tablet, a librarian can walk with the patron and engage in more of a reference interview—potentially covering multiple topics—without having to go back to the reference desk.”
  • Words and Pictures, Space and Play – Matt Finch (Global/Australia/New Zealand). Presentation on using graphic novels, games etc in public libraries.

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – A New Library Teen Reading Group by Savita Kalhan – Edge. ” think it’s important for kids to have choice when it comes to books. In my local library, the teen section is a very small area, although it’s still used by teens to borrow books. They often study in the library too. More books and more choice would be good though. So I thought why not volunteer to start a Teen Reading Group? It would be no more than an hour of my time once or twice a month, and if it promotes reading amongst teens and introduces them to a wider variety and more diverse books, then I’ll be a very happy person. “
  • Barnet – Save Barnet Libraries stages march from Hendon to Childs Hill in protest at Barnet Borough Council’s library cuts – Times series. “An author spoke of how libraries were a “lifeline for many families” during a march through Barnet to oppose cuts to the service. Caroline Green, who writes fiction for teenagers, joined the march yesterday from Hendon to Childs Hill, via Golders Green yesterday, organised by the Save Barnet Libraries group. Barnet Borough Council is planning to make £2.85m cuts to the borough’s libraries, and proposals include closing libraries, reducing them in size or using volunteers to run the service.”

“Excellent news: our petition has been accepted after all! Michelle Rowe, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Democratic Services Manager, spoke with a fellow campaigner on the phone yesterday and was extremely helpful. They agreed this is a very visible local campaign with obvious support and are happy to receive it. What happens now: the petition will be presented to the General Purposes Committee meeting on Tuesday 14th April. Although at the time it was handed in we were under the 3000 local signatures required to trigger a debate at full council, we can tell councillors that the petition has continued to gain support and mention our final numbers.  You can find more information about the meeting here: http://www2.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/CommitteeMinutes/Committees/Meeting.aspx?meetingID=838 ” Cambridgeshire – Cambridge Central Library petition notification

  • Flintshire – A Celebration of Arthurian Studies at Bangor University Bangor University. “Bangor University can now boast the largest collection of Arthurian books in Wales and the north of England, following an agreement with Flintshire County Council, who have donated a rare and valuable Arthurian Collection to the University’s Library and Archives”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire County Council faces second judicial review – BBC. “Maurice Nauta, from Save Lincolnshire Libraries, said they had instructed lawyers to begin the process of a second judicial review and have written a “pre-action” letter to the council. He admitted the legal action could end up costing the taxpayer but blamed that on the council. “We haven’t been able to move the county council,” he said. “It’s not something we want to be doing but we have been backed into a corner.” Tory councillor Nick Worth, executive member for libraries, said: “This is a disgraceful waste of public funds – this is costing a huge amount of money for the taxpayer.””
  • Lincolnshire – Still time for county avoid massive legal bill – Guardian series. “More cross-party talks have been held this week in a bid to keep a public library in Market Deeping. But the talks were overshadowed by news that Lincolnshire County Council faces the prospect of a second judicial review into its bid to slash £2million from the library service by shoving 30 libraries – including Deeping library – into the hands of volunteers.”

“There’s still time to stop this nonsense – the last judicial review cost the county council over £100,000. If we are supposed to be saving money, let’s save some money. Let’s get round a table and talk some sense and find some viable solutions for libraries.”

  • North Yorkshire – A pint and a paperback are order of the day at pub library – Darlington and Stockton Times. ““It is great that the village still has a library, even though it is small, rather than nothing at all,” he says. But he is adamant that the community library model should not be a replacement for all fully-functioning libraries with trained staff and the range of services they can offer. “Even though the village library in our pub works well, it doesn’t justify the council closing libraries.”
  • Rutland – Library computers get £20,000 upgrade – Rutland and Stamford Mercury. “Rutland County Council will spend £20,000 upgrading IT facilities at libraries in Oakham, Uppingham, Ketton and Ryhall. The council will replace 35 old computers with Intel Core i5 models. The new machines feature touch screen technology to make browsing the internet, searching for work and carrying out research much easier.” … “The money has come from Section 106 funding specifically for libraries, and the computers that are being replaced are more than five years old.”
  • Swindon – Charity shop bid at Liden library in tatters – Swindon Advertiser. “Last month, enterprising Adam Hunt announced a plan to open a charity shop within Liden library to raise money for causes in the community, after being inspired by the success of a similar charity shop and library in Walcot. The 20-year-old had all but finished dotted the is and crossed the ts on the paperwork when he announced his plea for volunteers to help run the project – only to find out the venue he had been told was available was already now occupied by other activities.”
  • Worcestershire – New ‘chapter’ for Stourport Library – Kidderminster Shuttle. “The ‘new chapter’ for the library began on Wednesday, March 25, when it reopened in the Civic Centre in New Street, just off Riverside Meadows, following the move from the County Buildings in Worcester Street … Existing staff and facilities were transferred to the refurbished Civic Centre which is also being shared with the Coroner’s Office and Town Council, as part of a lively community hub. Library services at Stourport include a dedicated ‘teen area’ with its own computers. Opening hours have been extended to include Wednesdays from 9am to 5.30pm”