Although utterly revolutionary in many respects, as those in public service can testify, David Cameron is very loath to change his ministers once appointed.  This can be a good thing – after all, they can learn their brief far better than if they are just parachuted in for a year or so – or it can cause groans across entire sectors who had hoped to get rid.  I’ll leave it up to you to consider which category Ed Vaizey falls into. He knows public libraries well but we know that he won’t ever intervene. However, it’s unlikely any Conservative minister would.  He’ll also put on the best possible spin on the situation, again like any minister. Tampering around the edges, as much as can be done with the prevailing belief in his party of minimal government funding combined with minimal government direction, will be what will happen. He’ll continue doing small-budget things which may at one extreme nudge national impacts e.g. over WiFi (with the first vacancies currently being advertised) or, on the other extreme, may do nothing at all.  So we know who we’re dealing with and we know he knows the service fairly well. We also know he’s agreed to debate Alan Gibbons, which should be fun to watch, especially now blood sports are (officially at least – although Mr Whittingdale is a keen supporter of fox hunting) banned.  Ed’s new boss knows libraries too and, while he may be  little distracted dismantling the BBC, he’s probably better than the uninterested Sajid Javid.

Of all the possible people that could have responsibility for the library service, therefore, under a majority Conservative government, these two (shocked gasps) are not the worst … and possibly some of the best that we can hope for amongst those eligible.  We’ll see how optimistic or pessimistic that statement is over the years to come.


National news

  • E-lending: what does your new government mean for digital libraries? – Guardian. “the reason the report is so important is that it highlights why libraries are crucial to wider, societal digital engagement, not just to ebook adoption. As what the report calls “safe places for literacy and learning”, libraries act as community hubs and access points for those without regular access to the internet – meaning both literature and access to government digital services. Libraries have brought generations into book and media literacy, and could, with the right support, do the same for digital literacy – and even, as the Sieghart report hopes, digital fluency.”
  • Get it loud in libraries – Aviva Community Fund. Your chance to vote for Get It Loud In Libraries to receive up to £10k in funding. “The aim is to innovatively develop and engage new audiences in libraries; showcase new and emerging music talent; offer creative opportunities for young people; develop library staff skills; heighten library profile and seek commercial sponsorship opportunities to make the programme sustainable.”
  • The library career and qualifications path – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog.”Library staff in Wales have opportunities to improve their skills and qualifications through the bursaries and training available under the Libraries Inspire strategic programme for 2015-16. Full information can be found in the document ‘Library workforce development grant information’ on the Welsh Government website CyMAL grant pages.”
  • Public Library of the Year – BookSeller. Orkney won (for their twitter account). Other nomnations included Claude Ramsey Library, Greenwich; dley Libraries; Exeter Library; Sunderland City Library Service and Wigan Library.
  • Whittingdale made new culture secretary – BookSeller. “Whittingdale served as political secretary to then prime minister Margaret Thatcher from 1989 to 1990, and has also served as shadow secretary of state for trade and industry and shadow culture secretary. In July 2005 he was elected chairman of the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, where he presided over reports into libraries and copyright. He is also seen as a notable critic of the BBC, whose license fee charter comes up for renewal next year.”.” see also Who is the New Government Man in Charge of Broadband Delivery UK – ISPreview. “Ed Vaizey, the MP for Didcot and Wantage, will continue in his role as the Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, which tends to involve a lot of broadband related speeches and engagements; this role straddles both DCMS and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). In fact he probably does significantly more, in a practical sense, on the broadband front than the Culture Secretary.”

Ed Vaizey has been re-appointed to the DCMS. On his return to the Department they gave him a cakeDesmond Clarke

International news

  • Reinventing the modern library – Slate (USA). Looks at the winners. “The Slate feature, Reinventing the Modern Library as a Tech-Forward, Eco-Friendly, Community Hub, is well-illustrated, giving an insight into how the modern library is enhancing both its technology and environmental credentials.”
  • Rise of the Private Library – Rumpus (USA). “while the public library system slowly collapses, a new modern iteration of the members-only lending library has risen. These specialized libraries collect fees from members and curate specific types of boutique collections. VICE Magazine takes a look at a few, including Brooklyn’s Wendy’s Subway and Portland’s The Personal Libraries Library. While these new libraries offer an alternative to a taxpayer-supported system, there are drawbacks:”
  • You can’t defend public libraries and oppose file-sharing – TorrentFreak (USA). Difference between the two is in efficiency. “Where public libraries can educate one citizen at a time from one original book, file-sharing has the potential to educate millions at a time with the same effort spent. Libraries and file-sharing do not differ in payment to copyright monopoly holders. You would frequently hear that authors are paid royalties when their books are borrowed from a library. This claim is not true. Authors do indeed get some slush money in most European countries, and this is based on library statistics, but it is no form of compensation for that library activity. The difference is crucial.”

“We have built the most amazing public library ever created. All of humanity is able to access the collective culture and knowledge of all of humanity, twenty-four by seven, as well as contribute to that collective pool. All the tools are already in place, all the infrastructure already rolled out, all the training already completed. Not a single tax penny needs to be spent to accomplish this. The only thing we need to do is to remove the ban on using it.”


  • Senior Manager, Wifi in Public Libraries Project – Arts Council England. “We are looking for a Senior Manager to take overall responsibility for leading and managing the Wifi in Public Libraries project. You will oversee and be accountable for providing the strategic overview and co-ordination for this project and, as necessary, for other major investment initiatives in related areas that are required to deliver our goals and deploy our funding.”

Local news

  • Barnet – Campaigners take to the streets for final march opposing library cuts in Barnet – Times Series. “Dozens of people joined the procession as it made its way from South Friern Library to North Finchley Library, via East Finchley and Church End, on Saturday. ” … “Campaign group Save Barnet Libraries has staged a series of marches throughout the borough during the past few weeks, to highlight its fierce opposition to the cuts. Polly Napper, of East Finchley Library Users Group, said about 200 people joined the march, along with local political parties and trade unions.”
  • Cardiff – Grade II listed Roath Library set to be closed, just weeks after being saved by Cardiff councillors – Wales Online. “The bill to repair the library is so high that it is being recommended that it should be sold and £40,000 reinvested in the community … The threat to Roath Library’s future comes just weeks after it was “saved” when a proposal to withdraw funding from seven city libraries was ditched at the council’s budget meeting in February … The recommendation is for the existing library to be closed and sold. The first £40,000 of the money made would go towards library provision for the area.” … “The proposal also says the roles of full time branch librarian, a senior library assistant and library assistant should be replaced with a neighbourhood development librarian, who would be paid £33,000.”
  • Cornwall – Library and one stop shop review consultation – Cornwall Council. “We have to make savings of £1.8 million from the existing £4 million library and one stop shop service budget. The Council has committed to provide a comprehensive and efficient service that is accessible to all who wish to use it and not to reduce the number of branch libraries. To achieve the savings we need to review how the service is delivered in the future and want to work with communities, voluntary sector, town and parish councils, and other organisations to find the best solution – as a whole service or for individual library branches.”
  • Renfrewshire – Library wins Development of the Year award – Designing Libraries. ” creates a new model for the delivery of community services with the public library, theatre, marriage suite, conference room and café sitting alongside staff from the council’s housing and social services departments, AdviceWorks, Police Scotland and MacMillan Cancer Support. In this respect it is an extraordinary building inside and out.”
  • Shropshire – Shropshire libraries could link up with GP surgeries in drive to cut costs – Shropshire Star. “Libraries could be run alongside GP surgeries as Shropshire Council looks to make a 30 per cent cut in funding.” … “Mr Sandbach, speaking during a meeting of Shropshire Council’s health and well-being board, said Pontesbury Library was one that could benefit from the health hub plan.”