I was hoping to be in Dundee about now for the CILIPS 2015 Conference but a brush with gastroenteritis has put paid to that. This is a great shame as I find there is nothing better than being at a conference to get a feel for what is really happening.  Doing this blog has given me a good vantage point for what is going on but it is only ever that – a position to see what is going on at a distance.  To really understand what is going on, one has to speak to those involved and there’s little better than a conference for that.  I tend to adopt a talk to everyone strategy at such things that pays real dividends and builds up vital links.  I therefore recommend them to you, not least of course the CILIPS one because there is quite a lot of interesting stuff going on.  I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful CILIPS team for taking the news of my cancellation (I was down to do one of the optional talks) so well and at such short notice.  I hope to see them all in the future and express my thanks personally.

The hard fought campaign against cuts in Lincolnshire, which has already seen successful legal action and the threat of more, takes another turn this week with the announcement of the six bidders for the library service there.  The list includes one for-profit company (notably not a recognised public library “player” before) and five leisure trusts, including four which already run public libraries.  It will be very interesting to get to see who is successful and how successful they are in identifying ways of cutting the budget without cutting library services.  I find it curious no “big player” library profit companies (LSSI, Carillion etc) are on the list – whether this is because they’re not interested (with the profit seen as too little) or for another factor, I don’t know.



National news

  • Darren Henley makes first speech as ACE chief – Classical Music. One mention of libraries. “Since taking up the position on 20 April, Henley has taken in arts and culture around the country. He said of his experiences: ‘I’ve seen the challenges we all face. But I’ve also seen the quality of our artistic work in England […] It’s reinforced my absolute commitment to public investment in the arts, in museums and in libraries.’” see also Arts Council boss makes funding plea – BBC.
  • Dementia Awareness Week 2015: Trust in Your Local Library – Welldoing. “A dementia diagnosis can be a traumatic and disorientating experience for everyone involved, leaving people feeling lonely and excluded from their communities and putting enormous strain on family and carers.There’s no quick and easy fix but public libraries and schemes such as Reading Well Books on Prescription for dementia can be part of the solution. They are providing real help and support for people with dementia and their carers.”
  • Libraries could outlast the internet, head of British Library says – Telegraph. “Saying the institution had countless values worth defending, including trust, he argued that libraries could prove the most “powerful and resiliant network yet”. “These values predated the internet,” he said. “And if we get it right may yet outlast it.” Mr Keating, who appeared at Hay Festival to talk about his team’s plans for the next few years, said libraries held a vital place in communities, and were increasingly important in terms of authentic information in the digital age. Critically, he told an audience, the history of the institutions had allowed them to build up trust with members of the public.”
  • London’s 10 best library cards – Guardian. “From mural art to graffiti, London’s boroughs are finding new ways of expressing themselves – through the humble medium of the library card. Maligned, abused, crushed almost to death by public austerity, public libraries are being forced to take creative measures to kindle the interest of an attention-deficient public. The library ticket, alongside the loyalty card three stamps shy of a free coffee, has become something that sits in the wallets of many but may never have been given a second thought. But some London boroughs have been cheering up their passes and the diversity of designs is surprising. Here are some of the most eye-catching” see also Library cards around the world – in pictures – Guardian follow-up piece and also Lookit These Library Cards From Around The US – Buzzfeed – with some wonderful examples.
  • Malorie Blackman: ‘I’ve had to develop a thick skin’ – Telegraph. “I know from personal experience that I would never have developed a love of stories, and thus would never have become an author, if it hadn’t been for my local public library when I was a child. During my time as Children’s Laureate, I have often spoken out against public library closures. I have encountered those who feel that libraries have served their purpose and are no longer needed. There are those who consider them a soft target when it comes to local authority budget cuts. In certain political quarters, there is a refusal to see that our public library service needs active protection. Public libraries are one of the last nationwide bastions of equal opportunity when it comes to access to literature. I really do not comprehend how, as a nation, we can go on about improving the literacy levels of all our children and then remove one of the major tools that would allow that to happen for those less able to buy books for themselves. “
  • New guidance on community managed libraries and statutory provision – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. “The Guidance on Community Managed Libraries and the Statutory Provision of Public Library Services in Wales document outlines the criteria which community managed libraries should meet in order to be included as part of the statutory library service. These criteria are the 18 core entitlements in the Welsh Public Library Standards fifth framework (Making a difference). The entitlements cover a range of services and facilities which members of the public can expect to be provided by any public library service in Wales.”
  • Reclaim libraries – Times (Letters) behind paywall. “I long for the horn-rimmed bespectacled dragon-ladies of old…”

“I am delighted to announce that we have recently appointed Debbie Hicks as The Reading Agency’s new Creative Director and I would be grateful if you would share this with colleagues. As a member of the senior management team Debbie will be leading the drive to deliver the ambitions outlined in our 2015-18 business plan. Our goal is to work with our partners, in particular our library partners, to take a more audience based approach to the design and delivery of our reading programmes, extending their reach, and identifying ways, once we have got people reading to keep them reading throughout their lives. In addition we want to get better at measuring the impact of our programmes and using this to shape future development and delivery. Debbie’s vision for the creative team and her experience of managing change; strategic leadership and strong sector relationships are going to be critical in helping us to deliver our ambitious plans for the future. I hope you will join me in congratulating her. Debbie will start her new role in July 2015. She will continue to be the strategic lead for our Reading Well: Books on Prescription work but we will be backfilling her role to cover the day to day management of this important programme” Sue Wilkinson, CEO Reading Agency via email

  • Six Book Challenge award ceremonies begin – Reading Agency. Reports from Southend, Islington, Northampton and Kidderminster.
  • Time for the Tories to reinvent the ‘big society’ – Guardian / Danny Kruger. “Representation is not the only form of democracy: we need a more plural model of politics, including local online referendums, transferring local buildings such as pubs or libraries into community ownership, and licenses for social businesses – profit-making or not – to establish and run public services.”


  • Annual report – EIFL. “This report celebrates our 15th anniversary by sharing with you stories from some of the people whose lives have changed as a result of our work. In this report, we also profile a groundbreaking EIFL project that is transforming teaching and learning for faculty and students in Myanmar.”
  • How libraries in Germany are fighting extinction – and winning – DW (Germany). “In Germany, they’re securing their future by expanding opening hours and campaigning for better access to e-books. And it appears to be working. “.  Cuts in public libraries have seen opening hours cuts and closures.  Debate over opening on Sundays (where shops are not allowed to by law): only academic libraries allowed to be open on Sundays. “Despite the widespread use of tablets and e-readers, libraries as such are not yet extinct, the librarians believe. And since e-books only make up roughly six percent of books sold in Germany (compared to well over 20 percent in the US), they may very well be right. In fact, library usage in Germany has actually risen over the past two years.”.  Also limits to ebooks; “Publishing houses in Germany fix a price for each book, which is then binding, and when it comes to e-books, they can decide whether they want to sell licenses to libraries or not. “
  • If Public Libraries Didn’t Exist, Could You Start One Today? – Freakonomics (USA). “I am just as sure that, like a lot of systems that evolve over time, the library system is one that, if it were being built from scratch today, would have a very different set of dynamics and economics.”
The original in space (and relative demensions) book displays

The original in space (and relative dimensions) book displays (with thanks to Ian Stringer + Salt Lake County Library Service)

  • Libraries: No Future Or Leading The Future? – Njacknis (USA). ” Libraries do not exist in isolation from the rest of the world.  They need to be embedded in their communities, which means that they need to understand and respond to how their patrons’ lives are changing.  Library leaders need to understand how each trend will have an impact on libraries. Libraries need to lay the foundation for where they need to be in the future.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but continuing just doing a good job with things as they are now is insufficient and unsustainable.”
  • Margaret Atwood submits manuscript to Future Library; won’t be read for 100 years – Globe and Mail (Canada). “Under a drizzling sky in a forest in Oslo on Tuesday, Canadian literary legend Margaret Atwood submitted an unread manuscript to a project that will keep the work under wraps for the next century. The Toronto-based Man Booker Prize winner is the first author to hand over an unpublished piece to the Future Library in Oslo. The international project will see one writer contribute a new, unread text to the collection every year for the next 100 years.”
  • Matali Crasset injects color into Geneva Cité Library renovation – Design Boom (Switzerland). “using design as a guide for users to search for knowledge, the new layout of each floor demonstrates a distinctive theme along with a strategy to promote learning in alternative ways: specially-designed areas for children, integration of technology and diverse seating arrangements” [Some nice designs but looks a little, well, Ikea – Ed.]
  • One Day in the Life of Alabama Public Libraries – I Love Libraries (USA). “It was just a snapshot. But it provided a window into a day in the life of an Alabama public library. That glimpse was enough to help convince county officials to reverse the decision to zero fund the library for 2014 and restore full funding. This is not to say the Lawrence County Public Library is completely out of woods, since it awaits another crucial budget decision. The library was among the public libraries across the state taking part in “Snapshot Day: One Day in the Life of Alabama Public Libraries,” on Sept. 25, 2013. A project of the Alabama Public Library Service, its goal was to show how important public libraries and library systems are to the state of Alabama – and, by doing so, to prod its community into thinking about what life would be like without the vital services provided by libraries”

“The International Committee of the ABF created an interactive web-map of the libraries of the world providing an invitation to travel and discover the libraries of all kinds in many countries on all continents. Started in 2014, the basis consisted of sheets in French and English. One year later, it includes about 150 entries. Each dot on the map represents a library described by its representative including key elements (community served, architecture, services, environment) and photographs. This map can help identifying colleagues involved in associations and help creating a network of professionals, organising library visits or offering visit to interested library lovers. Everyone is welcome to enrich the map by clicking on the button “Add a Library” and filling in the form, that will be validated shortly after by the International Committee of the ABF. http://www.abf.asso.fr/librarymap

Sharing practices and exchanging ideas on/at an international level are an effective way to overcome common difficulties faced by libraries around the world: budget cuts, competition from “new” technologies and private organisations, decreasing attendance, etc. Whether in Europe or Africa, difficulties are sometimes the same. As a colleague working in Brazil, in the favelas, found common ground with libraries in poor neighborhoods of Paris. Furthermore, this map is overall a tool to identify interesting experiences from projects of all size that can gain visibility and can prove to be good examples of challenges met and tensions overcome. We hope to catch your attention with this project. Hopefully, you will soon add your own library or the one(s) you had the chance to visit onto the map! Please, disseminate the information and forward this email to your networks and contacts.” Association of Librarians from France – International Relations (via email)

  • One-stop lending – Canada.com (Canada). “In futuristic sci-fi scenarios, while we grapple with bioengineering and artificial intelligence, we should also consider the public library. Patrons could borrow a copy of Blade Runner, a table saw, a blender and a tennis racket from what Lawrence Alvarez calls “resource hubs.” He hopes this is where the sharing economy is headed — one-stop lending. Alvarez is the co-founder of the Toronto Tool Library, a growing tool-sharing organization on trend with the likes of titans Uber and Airbnb. He’s an entrepreneur in the popular and lucrative sharing economy — the market where individuals rent out property to strangers and access is the new ownership. But Alvarez isn’t in it for the money. Instead, the non-profit library lends donated tools to members for an annual $50 fee (negotiable for students and low-income neighbours), in order to help build a more sustainable community and world.”
  • Portraits of homeless people using libraries – Boing Boing (USA). “Libraries, “the last bastion of democracy,” are a haven for America’s 500,000 homeless people, where literature, Internet access, and nonfiction can come together to provide respite from the relentless brutality of life on the streets. In a series of moving portraits of homeless people using San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose’s public libraries, Fritz Hoffmann tells a visual story of forgotten people in quiet reflection and study, and makes us remember something we’d prefer to forget”
  • Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google – Portside (USA/UK). “Of course, you don’t have to be homeless to use a library, but that’s the point. You don’t have to be anyone in particular to go inside and stay as long as you want, sit in its armchairs, read the news, write your dissertation, charge your phone, use the bathroom, check your email, find the address of a hotel or homeless shelter. Of all the institutions we have, both public and private, the public library is the truest democratic space.”

“If you were airdropped, blindfolded, into a strange town and given nothing but a bus ticket, to where would you ride that bus? You might be surprised to learn that there’s only one good answer, and that’s the public library. The library is the public living room, and if ever you are stripped of everything private—money, friends and orientation—you can go there and become a human again.”


  • Library systems for public libraries: A new approach to specifying requirements – Ken Chad Consulting, 18th June 10.30 to 12.30 at CILIP.  “A meeting is being convened at CILIP on 18th June (10.30 to 12.30 ) to look at potential ways forward regarding a library system requirement . The UK Core Specification (UKCS) has been a great success but is now out of date. The UKCS requirements no longer meet the needs of public libraries or reflect the changes in the offerings from library system vendors. The initiative will focus on the needs of *public* libraries at this stage. The Gcloud arrangement for library management systems is up for renewal in 2016 so this is a good time for a review. The best way forward is not *necessarily* a new version of the UKCS — the issues go wider.”
  • Lighting the Way: Libraries and WellbeingPMLG Conference 2015. Friday, 9 October 2015 – 9:00am to Saturday, 10 October 2015 – 3:00pm.  “Public libraries have a major role in health and wellbeing – for individuals, families and communities.  This Conference will explore the health, social and economic aspects of our contribution to a better and stronger society. Speakers will include Brian Ashley (Director of Libraries, Arts Council for England) on The Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Public Libraries; Andy Cope, author and motivational speaker; and Dr Paul Blantern from the Sieghart Task Force. With further sessions on Bibliotherapy (Kirklees), LIbraryFest 2015 on Libraries’ role in mental wellbeing (West Berkshire), Re-inventing Mobile and At Home services (Hackney), Personal resilience (Carol Brooks), Working with Public Health (Staffordshire). Workshops on effective library marketing, business information services, reminiscence from Sporting Memories Network, Find My Past … and an opportunity for a guided visit to the newly refurbished Stafford Central Library. Full programme to be published in Early June. Booking details.

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Why we are striking from a Library worker – Barnet Unison. “Library Workers are taking strike action to defend their jobs and the Library Service.  Barnet Council plan to privatise our Lib”raries, or to hand them over to a “mutual”, or in some cases have them run by “Community groups”.   Some Libraries may be closed, and most will be reduced to 540 square feet in size.  Libraries will be unstaffed for two thirds of their opening hours, with under- 16 year olds being denied access without an adult during these times.  Even when Libraries are staffed, numbers will be reduced by as much as one third of their present levels.”

“For a limited time only, enjoy a scrumptious afternoon tea at the Library of Birmingham. Amadeus Catering who run the Library Café are offering visitors a unique pop up afternoon tea experience – all set amongst the books and surroundings of the library. The Ribbon Room on Level 3 offers a selection of fine teas, finger sandwiches and tempting cakes all in a unique intimate setting. Cream Tea – £6.45 per person (Pot of tea or carafe of coffee and fresh scones with jam & cream) Afternoon Tea – £14.95 per person ((Tea or coffee. Selection of sandwiches, scone with jam & cream and a selection of mini cakes and biscuits)” Birmingham – Tea for two at The Ribbon Room – contemplate, create or just plain unwind . . . – Library of Birmingham.

“Perhaps it can be sponsored, or other services could be put in their or it could be rented out to raise cash. One way or another we’ve got to solve this problem.”

  • Bristol – Protesters march to keep Wick Road Library open – Bristol Post. “Protesters marched uphill to show their support for a Brislington library, which they fear could be closed. More than 150 people made their way from Wick Road to Knowle Library to highlight the difficulties they would have if they lost the community hub.”
  • Devon – No increased opening hours for the library – View from Online. Support for Axminster Library group “has established that Axminster makes up two per cent of the Devon population, but DCC is only spending 0.8 per cent of its library budget on its facility in Axminster. DCC has not disputed the pressure group’s findings, but has refused to increase opening hours in Axminster.”
  • Dundee – Scotland’s busiest library is first to offer dementia service – STV Dundee. “Dundee’s Central Library has become the country’s first public library to provide a Dementia Information Service. The library, the busiest in Scotland, now offers an area specifically built to meet the needs of people living with the disease, of which there are more than 2,700 in Dundee. Having received £10,000 in funding from the Scottish Library and Information Council, the library’s new service allows users access relevant information, alongside a programme of reminiscence and reading related activities.”
  • Flintshire – Members call-in plan for shake-up of Flintshire’s libraries – Leader. “Despite strong public opposition, Hawarden, Mancot and Queensferry libraries are due to be closed with services moved to a new hub at Deeside Leisure Centre … More than 1,000 people signed petitions to save the libraries. Flintshire councillors Adele Davies-Cooke, Alison Halford, Dave Mackie and Glenys Diskin have added their names to a call-in by Cllr Clive Carver, which was submitted on Wednesday. As a result, the cabinet decision will be looked at again by the organisational change overview and scrutiny committee at a meeting on June 8 at 1.30pm at County Hall.”
  • Gwynedd – Porthmadog library relocation plan takes a step forward – Daily Post. “Plans to close a Gwynedd library and move it to a leisure centre almost half a mile away are moving closer. Gwynedd Council’s cabinet will meet in Caernarfon on Tuesday to discuss a decision supporting the relocation of Porthmadog Library from Chapel Street to Glaslyn Leisure Centre, on Stryd Y Llan. The plan is to sell the library for an estimated £80,000 with capital receipts from its sale going towards the relocation costs – the leisure centre would be adapted. Relocation costs are expected to be around the £388, 359 mark. The move would be partly funded with a £258,659 Welsh Government grant and a Gwynedd Council contribution of £129,700, which would come from the sale of the current library.”
  • Kent – Kent County Council plans to sign libraries over to volunteers in limbo over legal issues -News Shopper. “authority officials have announced plans cannot got ahead until the registration of births, deaths and marriage services are included in the package. “
  • Leicestershire – Community groups set to run libraries in Leicestershire – BBC. “A total of 21 community groups are set to take over the running of some of Leicestershire County Council’s libraries. Castle Donington, Barrow, Countesthorpe, and Markfield are the latest bids to be approved. Barrow is expected to become the first community-managed venue, taking over from the council in July. The authority hopes communities will run up to 36 libraries while it retains responsibility for 16 of the busiest.”
  • Lincolnshire – Six organisations make pitch to run Lincolnshire’s library service – Lincolnshire Echo. Brief summary of the six includes (1) Compass Point Business Services (private company with experience in councils), (2) GLL Greenwich Leisure Limited (non-profit already running public libraries elsewhere), (3) LITC Leisure in the Community (non–profit running some council services), (4) Lincs Inspire (non-profit running Lesiure and Libraries already for NE Lincs, (5) Vision (non-profit running Lesiure and Libraries in Redbridge, Vivacity (non-profit running Lesiure and Libraries in Peterborough).
  • Newcastle – Volunteers save Fawdon Library – ITV. “Volunteers have saved the library, based at Fawdon Community Centre, after it faced closure due to cutbacks in the council’s budgets. The library will reopen on Tuesday 26 May as a volunteer-run service. The volunteers have formed a collective called Friends of Fawdon Community Library, and will keep the facility open five days a week, Monday to Friday.”
  • North Yorkshire – Meeting to discuss Stokesley Library’s future – Gazette Live. “A meeting to discuss the future of an under-threat library is due to take place. Representatives from North Yorkshire County Council will be among those at an extraordinary parish council meeting at Stokesley Town Hall on Tuesday night for a public meeting. There they will discuss the future of Stokesley Library. As reported, the county council want the facility run as a “community-managed” model to save cash. But a petition against the plans gathered 1,685 signatures in the hope the strength of feeling would make the authority change its mind.”
  • Shropshire – New chapter for village library – Advertiser. “At a public consultation event in Gobowen last Tuesday, residents proposed including everything from police surgeries, a post office, craft and community groups, and a coffee shop in the facility based off St Martins Road” … “Kate Garner, locality commissioning manager for Shropshire Council, added that the authority has been successful in securing a £520,000 Transformation Challenge Award which will benefit six libraries across Shropshire, and develop services in many more.”
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire library staff go digital help people get online – Staffordshire Newsletter. “From October last year to March 2015, 245 workers signed up for a national e-learning programme designed to improve their digital skills and digital confidence.  The training was designed in part to help prepare staff for the extra demand anticipated as the Government’s Universal Credit scheme is rolled out across the country. Most people will be expected to make their claims for Universal Credit online.”
  • Trafford – Hale Community Trust sees bid for Hale Library succeed – Trafford Council. “An ambitious bid by Hale Community Trust, a group of active local residents, working with Hillcrest Homes, to build a new library, public toilets and pavilion building, has been given the go ahead by Trafford Council. Following careful consideration of the three shortlisted bids and the views of local people, the Executive Member leading on the project,Councillor Alex Williams, approved the bid today, Thursday 28 May 2015. The bid involves the purchase of the current library site, for a material capital sum (which will be available to support the Council’s capital programme), together with the purchase of the freehold of the pavilion building off Ashley Road. Once these have been finalised, the building work would begin, funded through the redevelopment of the existing library site, subject to appropriate planning permission. A community charity trust would run the toilets, pavilion and other community assets.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – “Delighted” council call Vale library progress “a success” so far – Barry and District News. Changes in opening hours. “The Vale of Glamorgan council will now work with each community group to help them develop a detailed business case. This will be the basis on which the final decision on transferring each library will be taken. “
  • West Sussex – New online tool for job seekers available at West Sussex libraries – Worthing Herald. “Vacancies on MyWorkSearch are updated daily and searches can be tailored by geographical area, job title, or salary range. The online service also includes an easy-to-use CV builder that West Sussex County Council hopes will increase people’s chances of finding employment as well as eLearning tools to boost confidence in job searching.”
  • Wiltshire – Wiltshire Council consults on cuts to mobile library service – This is Wiltshire. “A consultation is currently underway which proposes 49 stops be withdrawn reducing the number from 267 to 218 in the county. The frequency of the visits may also change to fortnightly or monthly instead of weekly and If the changes do go ahead they will come into effect on October 26. The stops proposing to be closed are those which Wiltshire Council says have less than three customers and are fewer than 2.5 miles away from a branch library.” … “Anne Hale, 80, of Swan Drive, who is disabled, said: “I’m horrified. For people like me it’s very beneficial. When I go to the main library it’s very difficult to find a car parking space and when I’ve got one I have to walk and go up the stairs.”

School library

  • Peterborough primary school wins £15,000 library makeover – Peterborough Today. “Middleton Primary School in South Bretton, Peterborough, won a competition run by the National Literacy Trust and the School Library Association, as well as furniture company BookSpace, which is designing and funding the renovation. “