It’s a quiet time at the moment doing Public Libraries News as everyone’s eyes are on the election: councils are avoiding doing much that will be averse to them or, conversely, is positive and thus fall foul of the rules of purdah. The sad thing of course is that this should be anything but a quiet time.  That the sector is not being mentioned much is worrying for it and suggests that none of the parties realise the importance of libraries as a provider of equality, literacy and social welfare.  One would have thought that they would have noticed all the protesting and campaigns.


CILIP and ARA have contracted Edinburgh Napier University to map all workers in the UK’s libraries, archives, records, information and knowledge sectors as this data is no longer collected since the closure of the sector skills councils representing us. The research findings will help with advocacy targeting governments and employers, to develop relevant and robust policies, and to develop better and targeted services. The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and you could also win £200 worth of vouchers of your own choice. Put yourself on the map by completing the survey by 30th April 2015. We need to reach as many people as possible, so please help us by forwarding this on to anyone you know working in the sector. Key groups currently under-represented in the survey are: men, those in the East of England, East Midlands and Northern Ireland, those working in Information Management, knowledge Management, commercial/business, schools, national libraries and archives, armed forces, legal; front line workers, library/archive/information assistants etc… Many thanks, John Chambers, CEO, ARA, Jill Colbert, Interim CEO, CILIP. You can access information about the workforce mapping survey here

  • Library supply chain under pressure – BookSeller. Currently behind paywall.
  • Masters in Librarianship: opening my mind to a whole new world – Research Information. “What I love about libraries is that they are places for learning about how to learn. And I am realising that life is all about constantly learning new skills and knowledge. I am currently taking the part-time distance Masters course at the University of Aberystwyth, in Wales …”
  • Punjab keeps waiting for public libraries Act – Hindustan Times (India). “Punjab is still without a public libraries Act that has been implemented in 20 other states for a single, unified system of control and organisation of these sources of information. The Act facilitates sharing of resources and access to the largesse of funds from the central government under various schemes. Punjab was to implement it in 1993 but political apathy has caused it to linger for two decades. “A fresh look at the Act was taken in 2011 when Sewa Singh Shekhwan was education minister,” said Balbir Kaur, librarian at Patiala’s Central State Library, largest in the state and run by the department of higher education.”
  • WBN authors defend libraries and teachers – BookSeller. “Authors gave a passionate defence of libraries and teachers at an event held last night (23rd April) to mark World Book Night. Writers including David Almond, Lynda La Plante [pictured] and Irvine Welsh made speeches and gave readings during the event at the Shaw Theatre in London, the flagship event of World Book Night, which saw thousands of volunteers across the UK giving out 250,000 books to people to spread the love of reading.”

“The library is one of human kind’s greatest inventions, a great democratic force. People are saying they don’t matter any more but they do matter, they are central to our culture, and we lose them at great peril.” David Almond


  • California’s Homeless Find a Quiet Place – National Geographic (USA). “On  a recent visit to the Sacramento library, the high number of homeless patrons I saw there surprised me. Seeing them in that quiet space, consumed by traditional media, I was struck by the difference between them and most of society with its 24/7 connection to streaming digital media. I began this project to take myself out of my own patterns and habits, to change my perspective, to observe, to listen, to understand, and to share this place of quiet.” … “Leah Esguerra reaches out to homeless patrons in the main branch of the library. “Libraries are the last bastion of democracy,” she says.”

“Being homeless often means living off the mainstream grid, unplugged from the Internet, email, and streaming media. Public libraries provide the homeless with a way to connect, and many homeless say that browsing the stacks and reading a book there eases a weary street-level perspective of life.”

  • ‘Here to serve:’ Halifax libraries say they’re more welcoming, less rule-based, these days – Talk Halifax (Canada). “Laying down the law is not the approach the CEO of Halifax Public Libraries believes is the most effective when it comes to fostering an atmosphere where everybody should feel welcome in libraries.” … “Kachan explained many frontline library staff have been trained in non-violent crisis intervention and mental health first aid. Branches with particularly high volume of young people also employ teen library assistants.”

“In FY2012 there were 1.5 bil. in person visits to public libraries in the US. A 10 yr increase of 20.7%. #FactFriday” IMLS (USA).

  • MRI shows association between reading to young children and brain activity – Eureka Alert (USA). “”We are excited to show, for the first time, that reading exposure during the critical stage of development prior to kindergarten seems to have a meaningful, measurable impact on how a child’s brain processes stories and may help predict reading success,” said study author John Hutton, MD, National Research Service Award Fellow, Division of General and Community Pediatrics, Reading and Literacy Discovery Center, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Of particular importance are brain areas supporting mental imagery, helping the child ‘see the story’ beyond the pictures, affirming the invaluable role of imagination.”
  • Online presence is one way Metropolitan Library System innovates – NewsOk (USA). New library website “… results can be filtered efficiently, similar to those on popular sites such as Amazon.com. It also will include newspapers and other periodicals in search results, and a revamped section for upcoming library events, news releases and a place for readers to post reviews of books. The system also will be available in Spanish. The kids catalog has been redone with clickable pictures and book covers that young readers can easily identify and select.”
  • Tigo transforms Street Library into Ghana’s first Digital Mobile Library – Enews.gh (Ghana). “Tigo Ghana has taken a giant step towards digital inclusion for children in rural Ghana by outdooring its new Mobile Digital Library. The project which is a partnership with Street Library Ghana, founded by its 2012 Changemaker, Hayford Siaw has the interior of the van beautifully fitted with tables and chairs and laptops. It also has additional tables and chairs and laptops which can be set up outside the van to cater for additional children. Explaining the rationale for the project, the Head of Corporate Communications and CSR for Tigo, Gifty Bingley, explained that Hayford was previously travelling around rural Ghana with hard copy books in his mini-van to encourage children to read.” … “According to Hayford even though children in rural Ghana study ICT as a core subject, several of them have neither seen nor touched a computer. He looked forward to introducing them to the computers and going through the downloaded books. “
  • When Google is your librarian and Starbucks your WiFi, do we still need public libraries? – Washington Post (USA). “Palfrey, the former head of the Harvard Law School Library and the founding chairman of the Digital Public Library of America, wants a library revolution, one that remakes the institution’s technology, goals and training. Libraries are in peril, he writes, facing budget cuts and a growing perception that technology has rendered them less necessary. All that’s at stake, Palfrey argues, is America’s experiment in self-government. “If we do not have libraries, if we lose the notion of free access to most information, the world of the haves and the have-nots will grow further and further apart. Our economy will suffer, and our democracy will be put at unnecessary risk.”” … ““Libraries must act as ambitiously networked institutions,” he reiterates, and must “connect their network effectively with partner institutions: archives, historical societies, museums, and other cultural heritage organizations.”

“For centuries, libraries have remained essentially separate, even competing with one another to establish and maintain the greatest collection,” Palfrey writes. Now, they need to “recast themselves as platforms rather than storehouses.” This transition won’t be easy, he cautions, and will require giving up lots of old, bad habits.” … “Just as we all love a memory of a childhood experience, we love the idea of libraries in general.” But that can be a “patronizing sort of love,” Palfrey cautions. And it won’t get libraries to where they need to be or how they need to think.”

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – 30 student protesters banned from Library of Birmingham – I am Birmingham. “Anti-cuts protesters who were today protesting against the reduced opening hours at the Library of Birmingham have been reportedly issued with banning orders, preventing them entering the building in future. According to reports from those present, students taking part in a rally and occupation at the library this evening were held in the venue’s lobby, unable to enter or leave, while staff and police are said to have issued around 30 of them with 3-month banning notices. The banning order slips seem to be hand-written and the details of those attending don’t appear to have been collected.” … “Protesters from Birmingham Against the Cuts, TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), Birmingham Trades Union Council and Friends of the Library of Birmingham were joined by members of the public, college and university students and other library users to rally against the new updated hours for the library, which see opening times slashed by 30 hours a week, from 73 hours to just 40.”
  • Birmingham – Trojan Horse One Year On: Headteacher who warned the government five years ago reveals plans to create ‘families’ of schools  – Birmingham Mail. “When it comes to really looking at the life experience of children, it takes a whole city to raise a child,” he said, adding that BEP [Birmingham Education Partnership – Ed.] would lean on the council to boost community facilities such as parks and libraries.”
  • Brent – Brent Central: Lib Dems, libraries and the Labour tide – Guardian. “Following last year’s borough vote, Labour councillor Samuel Stopp argued that his party’s main opponents had paid a price for what he called “relentless negative propaganda focused on local controversies” for which they offered no solutions and for a general loss of campaigning energy. He cited car parking and library closures. The latter got a lot of publicity back in 2012. Six were shut. Novelist Zadie Smith, who grew up in Brent and whose most recent work is set there and named after its postcodes, joined the opposition to the policy. But in the council chamber, Brent leader Muhammed Butt told the Lib Dems he had “nothing to apologise for.” After all: “These closures were made because of cuts by your government putting us in an impossible situation.” At the time, the Lib Dems had 17 councillors. Two years later, only one survived. Now, Labour is proudly pointing to a big new library building in Willesden. It must be hard to be the protest party when your leaders are running the country. No wonder Labour believes Brent Central will be theirs.”
  • Cardiff – Row breaks out over removal of books from Rhydypennau Library – Wales Online. “The Friends of Rhydypennau group say that up to 1,500 books have been removed from the library and that it is the start of the council trying to reduce provision. They say that by reducing the books will impact on the borrowing figures. The library was one of seven in the city that faced closure during budget cuts earlier this year. Chairwoman of the Friends of Rhydypennau Library group, Madhu Khanna-Davies, said: “To diminish our stock at a time when the long term future of Cardiff’s threatened community libraries is still uncertain left me feeling uneasy and concerned about the negative impact upon the service and the possible reasons behind this decision.”
  • Coventry – Election hopefuls called on to pledge support for Coventry libraries – Coventry Observer. “Campaigners from ‘Save Coventry Libraries’ have invited candidates to take part in the ‘Library Pledge’ at the Godiva Statue this Saturday (April 25) – promising to never vote for a reduction in Coventry library services.” Greens, Socialists and one Conservative have signed pledge.
  • Coventry – Library Pledge to be unveiled at Godiva Statue in Coventry city centre – Coventry Telegraph. “The city council announced in February that every library in Coventry will remain open for at least another year. However, there is no guarantee that some libraries won’t close over the next two to three years as the council shaves £65million from its budget following reduced Government funding. Campaign member Vicky Cowell said: “Libraries are so much more than just places where you can find and read books, information and access computers. “They are community hubs, places of warmth and connection where no-one is trying to sell you a product or ideology.”
  • Croydon/Lambeth – Properly fund our Library as a statutory town centre library for Crystal Palace – Change. Petition: “The joint funding of the Upper Norwood Library by both Lambeth and Croydon for more than 100 years is a model of cross-borough co-operation that benefits the entire community of Crystal Palace. Residents in Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood have consistently made clear their support for a properly funded, professionally staffed library in public consultations held by both councils. We want to see the Upper Norwood Joint Library receive at least the same funding per head of population as equivalent town centre libraries in Croydon and Lambeth, and Croydon to meet their commitment to fully match all funding from Lambeth including the endowment fund.”
  • North Yorkshire – Our libraries at threat while Government fritters away public finances – UKIP Richmond. “When I see to my horror my local library suffer (or even close) I will remember the wasteful £18 billion a year spent on wind-farms that “don’t go when the wind don’t blow”, the £10 billion a year spent of foreign aid – going to countries developing their own space programme, the £55 billion a year to prop up an undemocratic and recession-hit EU, and the missed opportunities of developing our youth, trading with the high-growth Commonwealth, incentivising scientific education and investing in our rural communities. I do not blame our local councillors at North Yorkshire County Council for coming up with these difficult library proposals, but come May I will no longer be voting Conservative. I just love my community and my country too much. UKIP will take my vote.”