The BBC will soon be recording – in front of a live studio audience so, hey, get a ticket – a radio comedy about libraries.  Sounds good but the title of it – “Shush!” – and the description of the characters are absolutely hideous and cling to every stereotype going.  On a similar note, the stereotypes in the article on the Express on Stoke changing its bye-laws to allow people to be loud and to sleep did not surprise me.  Many journalists have problems with the fact that libraries have changed in the last fifty years.  What did surprise me was the need that Stoke has to have its bye-law change ratified by the DCMS. In this age of minimal funding combined with minimal interference, the fact a local council has to ask the minister before allowing people to speak loudly seems a bit behind the times.

In other news, figures from Warwickshire show book loans from libraries taken over by volunteers has halved.  That’s pretty bad but the council points out that without volunteers there’d be no loans there at all.  I am aware that some librarians, fearful of their jobs and the national implications, would much rather have seen the library close than be passed to the unpaid but, on the ground, that’s a far harder call to make. If I was not a librarian, I suspect I would much rather live in a community with a volunteer library than none at all. But then one has to wonder about the quality of those volunteers and their training: would I be (to the delight of the BBC and the Express) be shushed as I entered? Would I be able to contain myself if I saw something that would not be acceptable in a council library? Or would the volunteer library, full of enthusiastic people who want to be there, be better than what they replaced (and I hear in some poorly funded areas where staff were poorly managed before that this was the case)? What would be my – or your – feelings about that?




  • A Library of Things Puts Frome On the Map as a Sharing Town – Shareable. “Imagine going to a shop, borrowing anything you like, and returning it when you’re finished. This is the idea behind SHARE: a Library of Things. Opened in late-April in Frome, a town in northeast England, the aim of SHARE is to enable people to spend less, waste less, and connect more. The first of its kind in the U.K., SHARE has already sparked interest from other communities.” … “In just over a month, SHARE has had over 300 items donated or lent to the shop, welcomed 60 new members, and loaned over 30 items, including a leaf blower, a record player, a projector, a PA system, toys, and musical instruments, all on a donation basis. Murrell says the number of loans is steadily increasing as everyone gets used to the idea.”

Great speech today at the Rally for the Library of Birmingham by Alan Gibbons

Posted by Friends of the Library of Birmingham on Saturday, 13 June 2015

“Rebecca Front will play Alice, a former child prodigy who won a place at Cambridge aged nine and is scared of everything… everything that is, except libraries.  Morwenna Banks will take on the role of Snoo, a slightly confused individual with a have-a-go attitude to life, marriage, hairstyles and reality. Snoo loves books, particularly when giving their front covers a nice polish with a bit of Pledge so they scrub up lovely.”

  • Top authors and illustrators help celebrate success of Chatterbooks reading groups in schools project – Reading Agency press release/booktrade.info. “Young readers who’ve been taking part in a pioneering project to promote reading for pleasure in schools in Telford, Sandwell and Walsall are to be rewarded. Celebration events for the project, which has been spearheaded by national charity The Reading Agency and its ever-growing network of Chatterbooks reading groups for children, will feature special guests from the world of children’s books have been invited.”


Local news by authority

  • Brent – Kensal Rise Library holds an open day for the community – Kilburn Times. “The doors to Kensal Rise Library, in Bathurst Gardens, were opened to the public for the first time in nearly five years, allowing residents to see the space, currently an empty shell, which will next year re-open as a reading room run by volunteers next year. The event marked a fresh start after years of campaigning that have made the much loved local library a rallying point in the national fight against library cuts”
  • Kensington and Chelsea – New chapter beckons for North Kensington Library  – Get West London. “Plans to relocate what was once “one of London’s finest public libraries” to a new purpose built building have been given the green light by Kensington & Chelsea Council. It has approved plans which would see a new North Kensington Library leave its home of more than a 100 years on Ladbroke Grove and move 50m to Lancaster Road, in a move which would also breath new life into a council-run youth club. If its plans go-ahead, the new facility would open in 2019.”
  • Lincolnshire – Community hub prepares for its library takeover – Spalding Today. “A community group is gearing up to take over the running of Crowland library in September – but it still needs your help. The group of volunteers has already started fundraising to ensure library services continue after Lincolnshire County Council relinquishes control.” … “Crowland Community Hub chairman Paul Bywater said: “If anyone has a Co-op membership card we will get money from the Co-op for everyone who selects the Crowland Community Hub as their chosen group to receive a small amount every time they spend money in the Co-op. “

“We still have a library but it hosts the HUB for paying poll tax, now with coffee machine and few books” Tweet from Lincolnshire library user

  • Oxfordshire – Project invites young people to talk democracy and rights – Bicester Advertiser. “Find Your Voice wants to promote debate among 13- to 21-year-olds to become active citizens in their communities and take more of an interest in libraries. Tomorrow at The Story Museum young people will be able to sign up to the scheme, which will get going in September. It will provide ways for young people to enter into debate, take part in the democratic process, engage in social change, talk about issues important to them and express themselves.” … ““They will take part in something that is part of a national campaign called the LiberTeas where at 3pm on Sunday young people will sit down, have tea and debate.” … The project comes after Oxfordshire County Council’s library service successfully bid for £96,000 from Arts Council England to help fund it. “
  • Stoke – Break the silence: Soon you can be as loud as you like in the library, new rules say – Express. “Under current by-laws, people are banned from engaging in “audible conversation” in reference sections or areas set aside for reading and study if told not to do so by a member of staff. The rules also bar the use of mobile phones, portable computers or other noise-making electronic equipment within the library. These rules are set to be scrapped under updated by-laws which will be debated by councillors at Stoke-on-Trent. A report discussed this week by the council’s licensing and general purposes committee stated: “Current by-laws are in need of updating to reflect modern times and take account of new services offered such as the internet.”
  • Warwickshire – Library loans in Warwickshire down by 46% since 2011/12 – BBC. “The number of loans has gone down at all 12 of Warwickshire’s community libraries since they were formed following council cuts. There were 112,832 loans in 2014/15 compared to 207,619 in 2011/12, a 46% fall. Opening hours reduced at seven of the libraries after volunteers took over, but total hours rose 6.8%. The county council said volunteers deserved credit for ensuring services remained. When the library service lost nearly a third of its budget, the 12 would have closed without community support, the authority said.”
  • Worcestershire – Catshill Library proposes to change opening times – Bromsgrove Standard. “The plans propose to create an extra morning session in place of the existing Friday afternoon one. The amount of hours will remain exactly the same.”