The election is near and there’s still few comments, if any, on public libraries by politicians.  The one who has said something – Ed Vaizey – has, presumably as a joke, said that there’s been no major cuts to libraries and few closures.  Well done that man for putting the best possible spin on things at least.  Alan Gibbons calls him out on his figures, using Public Libraries News statistics., as does Private Eye.  And this is the thing, Ed knows the figures are there (he declined to use them himself recently, bizarrely arguing that because they include Scottish figures, they’re outside of his remit) that show he’s being economical with the truth but he’s still doing it because he thinks not enough people care or know to do him harm. Hardly the attitude you’d want for someone in charge of public libraries and an attitude he’d have criticised all over when he was in opposition.  My reading of him so far is that Mr Vaizey was one of the best shadow library ministers  and probably one of the worst library ministers in history.

Well done, therefore, to the 14,000 public library staff who have completed the SCL E-learning programme.  There were a few technical problems with one or two of the modules but it represents a vital first stage in getting all public library staff geared up and ready to help.  Such training needs to continue.  You may well know someone who works in a public library who still is not sure how to get someone an email address.  Such lack of skills does not help the library locally, nationally, the customer or indeed the member of staff themselves.  Well done to the SCL too of course.  It shows that, although limited in scope, such an organisation can actually do things.  Let’s hope they do more … and as much as possible of it publicly and not behind closed doors, as with their recent day on “alternative delivery models” for libraries.

By the way, did you know Amazon owned Abebooks? No, me neither, but they have been for seven years.



  • 80% of Public Library Staff in England Have Improved Digital Skills thanks to SCL E-learning programme – Society of Chief Librarians. “Nearly 14,000 public library staff, 80% of the workforce, signed up for an SCL e-learning programme designed to improve their digital skills and digital confidence. The programme, funded by SCL and Arts Council England, helped library staff to recognise barriers people face when getting online, equipped staff to support people with various disability needs, and strengthened their role as digital champions” … “An independent evaluation of the e-learning programme, carried out by Oakleigh Consulting, found that most staff felt better placed to help customers meet their online needs. The evaluation surveyed library customers and found that 65% did not have a computer at home and 53% needed help get-ting online. 90% of the customers surveyed said that the online support they received in libraries was very important. “

The Welsh Government is seeking to appoint an Independent Adviser to support the monitoring and assessment process of the 2014-15 Annual Returns submitted under the fifth framework of Welsh Public Library Standards. This work will be undertaken in the period 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2016. For further information see the attached specification. ” Independent Adviser for Welsh Public Library Standards – Welsh Government.

  • Britain’s libraries can’t face any more cuts after this election – Conversation. “Library services aren’t the sexiest items on a politician’s to do list. Although we may all agree that providing free books and access to information is a good thing, being able to read The Daily Telegraph in a public building isn’t exactly a matter of life and death.” … looks at library cuts including loss of books in Manchester and loss of hours in Birmingham. “isn’t this election about democracy? Libraries are a natural home for local pressure groups and community forums, while the internet can be a place of trending hashtags and the zeitgeist as bully. Let’s hope that these unsung havens of study and self-actualisation don’t suffer yet again at the hands of our political leaders.”

“Hi Ian, It was agreed that things discussed at the seminar would be confidential so unfortunately on this occasion we don’t have any notes we can share with you. SCL agree that spreading knowledge is important which is why we organised the day seminar and as part of the evaluation we will be asking delegates how they think best practice should be shared in the future. We are keen for people to know that the event took place and that best practice is being shared across libraries so please find some information about the event below. On Wednesday 15th April around 40 library leaders attended a free one day seminar organised by Nottinghamshire Libraries in partnership with SCL focusing on Alternative Delivery Models for Public Libraries.

The day provided library leaders with an overview of a range of alternative operating models that are currently being shaped and used to deliver library services in England. From mutualisation to full community management, the seminar heard from those who have implemented new and often innovative models. Those sharing their experiences included library leaders from Cambridgeshire, Warwickshire, York, Suffolk and Oxfordshire. The Cabinet Office also attended and gave their insight into mutualisation, a representative from Chalfont St Giles Community Library shared his experience of running a community library and Paul Blantern talk about the role of the Libraries Taskforce. SCL are committed to sharing best practice and are looking for ways to share knowledge across libraries in the UK. They have run a number of master classes for library leaders throughout the year covering topics such as innovation and sponsorship and philanthropy.” Society of Chief Librarians email to my query for minutes of the meeting.

Library Grants Available. Better World Books LEAP Grants – funding for literacy and education projects that serve local communities. Better World Books initiated the Literacy and Education in Action Programme (LEAP) which seeks to fund and support grassroots literacy efforts, supporting literacy projects that will have a long-lasting impact within local communities. Better World Books will carefully review the applications, using a rigorous internal criteria and debate, before awarding the grants. The total grant available for UK and Europe grants is £5,000, with a maximum of £1,000 per recipient. Better World Books is a socially minded business that sells books online, generating funds for both libraries and literacy nonprofit organisations. The UK LEAP Grant application phase opened on 13th April, 2015 and runs through 4th July, 2015. Last year’s library recipients were Leeds Libraries, Barnet Libraries, Camden Libraries and Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Libraries. There are also separate grants available for literacy charities. “The LEAP grant has enabled Barnet Libraries to reach out to children with additional needs, bring them to libraries and help them to experience the wonderful world of stories. A large number of staff have had the opportunity to  acquire specialist skills they will be able to use in the future,” said Sarah Ginn, Early Years Team Co-ordinator at Barnet Libraries (Recipients of a £4,000 LEAP grant in 2014). Learn more, and apply before 4th July, 2015 here: www.BetterWorldBooks.co.uk/go/leap-libraries Or contact: literacy@betterworldbooks.com 01383 841 437″ via LIS-PUB-LIBS

  • Library supply chain under pressure – BookSeller. “Connect Books m.d. Justin Adams has said a more “sustainable” model is needed for the library supply chain. Adams, who has led the company since January, emphasised Connect Books’ commitment to serving the public library sector, but said the Norwich-based firm had recently conducted an internal review of its library supply contracts to identify a number that were “unprofitable and unsustainable” in the medium term. Greater pressure has fallen on libraries owing to reduced funding from local councils, and as a result institutions are seeking more from their suppliers, turning that pressure back on the supply chain. ” Detailed look at declining library book budget, budgets generally and impact on suppliers.

“The scale of library closures has been widely exaggerated,” claimed culture minister Ed Vaizey in a pre-election statement to Post-Lib, the journal for retired library professionals.  “In 2014 only two static libraries closed.” This figure is clearly wrong – even if all the libraries with severely pared back opening hours and volunteer takeovers still count as “open”.  In Rhondda Cynon Taff alone, 13 static rural branch libraries closed during 2014 and were replaced by a mobile service. Vaizey’s limiting his numbers to static libraries alone is also telling.  In 2014, 19 mobile library services, from Cornwall to Sheffield, were lost.” Private Eye, “Lie-Brary News” (p.28) | Election Special

  • Open letter to Ed Vaizey- the riddle of the missing libraries – Alan Gibbons. “Imagine my surprise when you were quoted in Private Eye as saying, “The scale of library closures has been widely exaggerated. In 2014 only two static libraries closed. Now this may have been an election joke in the manner of Liam Byrne’s little note saying there was no money left. I mean, you could not be serious. I note that you chose to quote a short time scale out of your tenure in office and did not mention mobile libraries, which have closed in their dozens. You must know the figures.” Quotes Public Libraries News figures.


  • Baltimore Libraries Stay Open Through Riots, Because ‘The Community Needs Us’ – MTV (USA). “You can find more than books at the Baltimore public library today, as all branches remain open and fully staffed in the wake of protests and riots that have rocked the city. With a state of emergency declared and schools closed citywide Tuesday morning, the Enoch Pratt Free Library has chosen to stay open, providing a hub of comfort and community to all Baltimore neighborhoods, including the ones most affected by the mayhem.”

  • Publishers give $250m free e-books for Obama scheme – BookSeller. “Publishers in the US including Hachette Book Group, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster are making $250m (£163m) in free e-books available to low-income students as part of a scheme announced today (30th April) by President Obama. The new e-book commitments, to cover a three-year period, will see publishers making sure their content is available to low-income young people in America. A second initiative, the ConnectED Library Challenge, is a commitment by more than 30 communities to give every student a library card so they will have access to the learning resources and books they can read for pleasure, all available in America’s libraries. Both schemes are part of ConnectED, an initiative launched two years ago b”y Obama focussed on transforming teaching and learning through digital connectivity and content.

“America’s librarians, like our teachers, connect us to books and learning resources that help us dream big….I’ll announce new efforts to provide popular books to millions of underprivileged children and young adults around the country and connect more students to their local libraries — because we know that reading just 20 minutes a day can make a tremendous difference in a student’s success” President Barack Obama who did a 40 minute talk in a public library this week.  


  • CILIP Public and Mobile Libraries Group Awards – (Source: CILIP Public and Mobile Libraries Group Newsletter, Apr 2015 via Network Bulletin). “Nominations are now open for the CILIP Public and Mobile Library Group’s annual awards, which recognise the outstanding contribution that staff make to their customers, the communities they serve and the wider public library profession.” The awards are: Public Library Champion of the Year: Recognising the achievements of outstanding frontline public library staff that make a real difference to the people who use their library; Mobile Library Champion of the Year:  Recognising the achievements of outstanding mobile library assistants, drivers or librarians who make a real difference to the lives of the people who use their services; Public Librarian of the Year:  Recognising the achievements of outstanding library and information professionals working in a public library service that make a real difference to the communities they serve and the wider public library profession; A winner and two runners up for each award will be selected and receive greater recognition and profile. The three winners will receive a personal, engraved trophy and sponsorship. The awards are open to all library authorities in the UK. Closing date for nominations is 19 August 2015.”

Local news

  • Cardiff – Please preserve our treasured libraries – Wales Online / Letters. “Our libraries have not been saved, and are still under threat. Hundreds protested for publicly funded public libraries, not more time for the council to find “alternatives”, especially when these alternatives are the same ones the people of Cardiff have already rejected, including replacing trained staff with volunteers, and ‘partnerships’ – a euphemism for privatisation. Major cuts to Cardiff Central Library are going ahead, including losing another floor and hundreds of books to make the library a ‘SuperHub’ when a busy advice centre is moved into the building. Running down the central library can only mean seriously undermining the cultural and educational reputation of the capital city of Wales.”
  • Harrow – Campaigners ‘confident’ they can run North Harrow Library as success – Harrow Times. “In North Harrow, campaigners set up a steering group to work on the offer and have now submitted their initial application. Kamal Shah, chairman of the North Harrow Community Partnership and lead petitioner, said: “We set up a steering group for the North Harrow Library and the group has been working hard to create our business plan. “This has now been submitted and we hope the council will accept our application and allow us to run the library as a Community Library. “It would be hard work but we’re pretty confident we can run the library as a success.”
  • Hertfordshire – Free computer lessons at libraries inspire couple to ‘Spring Online’ – Hertfordshire Council. “Many people from across Hertfordshire enjoyed free computer taster sessions at Hertfordshire Libraries last week as part of Spring Online Week.
    Spring Online Week (20 – 26 April) is a national campaign to enable thousands of people, often older people, to try out using computers, tablets and the internet, many for the first time. Hertfordshire County Council’s Libraries service offered free computer taster sessions to anyone who wanted help to get online”
  • Kirklees – Under-threat library set to hold its first literature festival – Telegraph and Argus. “Author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris will be among known literary names at the three-day event starting on Thursday, May 7 encouraging people to pick up a book and enjoy a good read. The festival will be a mix of workshops, talks and children’s activities and most of the events will be at the library. Campaigners bidding to save it from closing have gathered 3,700 signatures on a petition. The Grade II-listed building in Whitcliffe Road is under threat as Kirklees Council needs to reduce its £5.75 million library services budget by £3.2m by 2018.”
  • Lincolnshire – All the reasons you should intervene, Dear Secretary of State – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Former Head of Lincolnshire Libraries, Maurice Nauta, a leading figure in the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign, has responded to the Secretary of State for Culture who, by means of a letter to Councillor Hill dated 26th March, notified that a ‘provisional’ decision not to intervene has been taken. (Read more on this here: #WritetoVaizey) Because the decision is provisional, intervention from the Secretary of State has not yet been ruled out. Maurice, as the complainant, was therefore asked to respond with further evidence to support his claim that the Secretary of State should intervene. The additional information, which is – to the best of his knowledge – accurate and compelling, is set out in a formal letter that was delivered to the Secretary of State at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on the 23rd of April. …”

“Maurice, on behalf of my daughters, who came with us to Parliament last July, thank you. Ermine library was so important in their developing literacy. I fear that, should we accept that falling library usage is a signal to close libraries rather than a clarion cry to drive usage up, we will not be able to build enough prisons to cope with the society we encourage” Comment

“How could The Bookseller have failed to report that in Maurice’s letter to the SoS, we see for the first time that the Human Rights Act 1998 – Article 2 of the First Protocol to the European Convention (Right to Education) – is cited in relation to s.7 of the 1964 Libraries Act.?” Shirley Burnham

  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire library campaigners urge minister to intervene – BookSeller. “Library campaigners in Lincolnshire are continuing their fight against council cuts, submitting new evidence to the secretary of state urging them to intervene in the council’s decision. In March, libraries minister Ed Vaizey stated that he was not minded to intervene in Lincolnshire’s cuts, which will see the council turn over 40 of its libraries to volunteers or else see them close, while only 15 libraries remain open and council run. The cuts had already been rejected by the High Court who declared the moves “flawed“, but the council reapproved the decision and pushed ahead. Although Vaziey made a provisional decision not to intervene, he encouraged further submissions of evidence. Maurice Nauta, a former head of Lincolnshire libraries and part of the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign, has sent a detailed 14-page document to the minister, outlining the scope of the cuts. In the document, Nauta identifies 10 libraries in areas of deprivation within the county, due to be closed or reduced in scale. In 2009, when Vaizey was in opposition, he called library cuts in the Wirral, where two of 15 libraries were in areas of deprivation, “cost-driven vandalism”.”
  • St Helens – Library jobs cut by almost a quarter – St Helens Star. Members of library staff were cut across different levels, including one management post, saving £71,918; two team librarians, saving £63,541; 17 library assistants, saving £186,112, and a member of staff from the bibliographic services unit.”
  • Surrey – Lingfield library to lose paid staff in May? – East Grinstead Courier. “Villager say they are furious that Lingfield Library could be losing its experienced paid staff to other offices as early as May 1 – despite earlier reassurances they would be kept on for far longer. As part of a cost-saving drive, Surrey County Council is looking to increasingly rely on volunteers to run libraries in the region on a day-to-day basis.”
  • Thurrock – Fast-track fears about library volunteers – Times series. “A number of “advice” sessions have been set up for borough libraries in May, for those seeking work experience and volunteer opportunities over the summer. Campaigners fear the ball is now rolling to replace experienced staff with volunteers. Julie Sorrell-Wilde, who led the Save Our Thurrock Libraries group, said: “This is so wrong.” She added: “We should save the librarians jobs, and make sure they’re not used in any way to train volunteers and then dumped. That would be terrible.””