Ed Vaizey has declined to count the number of volunteer libraries in the UK, saying he’s not responsible for them and it’s not his (paid) job to do so. Many others, though, would argue that Mr Vaizey is precisely the most responsible man in the country for the phenomenon. However, if he really doesn’t want to do it himself, he could always use the PLN page that links to every one reported in the media. I count 343 as the absolute minimum this way, with each one linked and described, with 328 of those being in England. To make things even easier for him, please let me know of any additions or errors in the list – please email with this (and any other news and views to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk). Thank you.

In keeping with my (hopefully entirely safe and benign) obsession with lists, I’ve also created a page listing all of the “Ideas” I’ve spotted over the past couple of years.  There’s over 175 of them and I’ve categorised and listed them for your viewing convenience on this page.  Enjoy.



National news

  • Gove scraps jail curbs on books to help inmates learn – Sunday Times. “Michael Gove is to overturn restrictions on books for prisoners to try to encourage educational zeal behind bars. The justice secretary will use a speech this week to announce he is scrapping rules drawn up by his predecessor, Chris Grayling, that stopped relatives sending packages of books to inmates and limited the number of books in each cell.”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 20 June 2015 to Question 3288, for what reasons he is not able to estimate the cost of collecting information on the number of volunteer-run libraries. Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

The public library statistics published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy in December 2014 included for the first time a breakdown of the different ways in which communities are involved with their local public library service for each of the local authorities in England. A copy of the annual report is placed in the House Library. However, libraries run by volunteers also operate outside of the public library service provided by local authorities and as previously indicated, the Department does not collect data on their number.

The responsibility of the Secretary of State under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 is to superintend, and promote the improvement of, the public library service provided by local authorities in England and secure the proper discharge by local authorities of their duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service. This responsibility does not extend to libraries which operate outside of the public library service provided by local authorities and for this reason information is not collected. To do so would require the initial and on-going input of 151 local authorities in England, as well as contributions from other sources and analysis of the robustness of the data. Ed Vaizey MP” They Work For You.

  • Grants for the arts Libraries fund – Arts Council England. “Public libraries can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £100,000 covering activities lasting up to three years. The fund will open to applications on 1 April 2015 and will run until 31 March 2018. Phase one of the fund will remain open until 31 March 2015 and there will be no break between the end of the first phase and the start of the second. The application criteria will remain the same”
  • Summer Reading Challenge aims for world record – BookSeller. “The Reading Agency is hoping to set a new record for “most pledges received for a reading campaign” for this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, which launches tomorrow (11th July). The agency has teamed up with Guinness World Records for the challenge and, starting from this weekend, libraries will collect children’s “pledges” to read as many books as possible this summer. To take part in this year’s challenge, children must sign up at the library and receive a special poster. As they borrow and read at least six library books over the summer, they will collect stickers to complete their poster and discover facts about record breakers along the way.”
  • The volunteers who are keeping local libraries alive – BBC. “The number of full-time librarians across the UK has fallen by nearly a fifth in the past four years and hundreds of libraries have closed. At the same time, the number of volunteers working in libraries has doubled, and in some places they have saved their local library from closing its doors for good.” Doncaster volunteer libraries described then Lincolnshire: “”It would totally undervalue the service [to have it run by volunteers],” said another visitor. “And it is a very, very valuable service for the computer side and the book side. It is a regressive step.”. “Councillor Nick Worth (Cons) said that there is a stark choice between changing the way libraries are run and, potentially, losing them.”

“It is bright and light and clean. The shelves are neatly stacked with books and desks with computers line the walls. The books and the building are provided by Doncaster council, but the staff here are almost all volunteers. Stewart Marks is retired. But he works, unpaid, to provide a service to the public and is proud of what has been achieved over the past year.”

“I think we provide a very professional service, possibly even better than when it was library staff because there are more of us” he said.

“We are talking about libraries really flourishing in a much more business-savvy environment,” says Nick Stopforth, Doncaster’s head of libraries. “That’s the volunteers, the community making that happen.”

International news

  • Argosy Invests in Library Systems & Services, LLC – Argosy (USA). “On January 26, 2015, Argosy acquired a controlling ownership interest in Library Systems & Services, LLC.  LSSI is an outsourced public services provider to public and government libraries throughout the United States. LSSI helps communities and institutions improve their library operations and customer service, accomplish more with their library budget, identify and secure additional grants, leverage library automation and technology, and create library programs specific to the needs of the local community. LSSI currently provides services to 20 library systems encompassing 84 facilities in six states.  The Company is headquartered in Germantown, Maryland with an additional corporate office in Riverside, California.”
  • Eat Up! 5 Public Libraries’ Successful Summer Meals Programs – Huffington Post (USA). “Last summer, Nina Lindsay was walking through the Oakland Public Library (OPL) where she works when she saw what she describes as “the best kind of trash.” On the floor was a peach pit sucked bone dry. It had been served for lunch earlier that day, and for Nina the image of that pit serves as a reminder of the importance of the library’s summer meals program. This is not just happening in Oakland. Libraries around the country are starting similar initiatives.”
“Libraries are missing something important: a stigma. While other summer meal sites are doing tremendous work, some people feel there’s more of a negative connotation attached to them. To some, it might be embarrassing to admit you need help. But at the library, says Annisha Jeffries from the Cleveland Public Library (CPL), “we’re a safe space. We have the programming, the computers, the technology, the magazines, everything you need to entertain children. Why not have the lunch for them?”

Local news

  • Cardiff – Roath library will not be sold off – but only if community group take it over and keep it as a library – Wales Online. “Roath library will not be sold off but only if a community group agrees to take it over, Cardiff council has said. A plan to sell the Grade II listed building has been shelved as the council looks for a community group who will keep it as a library to be found.” … “Books and computers have been removed from the library, which does not have a working boiler. Including the cost of remedial works to ceilings and the roof, the repairs needed totals £255,340.” … ” new mobile van to provide outreach in the Adamsdown and Plasnewydd areas. Digital Inclusion and Into Work services held at Plasnewydd Community Centre and a pop-up library provision will continue as will Storytime and Rhymetime classes that have been moved to the Star centre.”
  • Dudley – Three mobile libraries stolen in raid on Dudley site – Express and Star. “The council-owned home library vans, which had books and audio books on board at the time, were stolen from a locked compound. The service, which supports people confined to their own homes in Dudley and Wolverhampton, had to be halted for a day following the thefts.” … “The white Transit vans were emblazoned with the Dudley Council logo and the words ‘Home Library Service. One of the vans has since been recovered. It was found in Hazelbeech Road, West Bromwich at about 9.30am but the other two have not turned up.”
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Councillors want more details on Kirkcudbright Library move plans – Daily Record. “Councillors want more information about plans to move Kirkcudbright Library due to the costs involved. When members of Stewartry area committee were told about plans to move the library into the council offices on Daar Road they were presented with two options – one costing at least £90,000 and another costing at least £120,000. They agreed to move ahead with the cheaper of the two options which will see the town’s library and customer service facility moved to the ground floor of Daar Road.”
  • Fife – Fife Council leader accuses SNP of ‘moving the goalposts’ in talks on library closure plans – Courier. ““With the backing of council officers, the trust assured us that it could carry out a proper consultation within these timescales – that was accepted by all parties on the executive,” he said. But SNP group leader Brian Goodall has now said the September report should be viewed as an interim update on ongoing community consultation and a further debate. “We’ll keep up the pressure on the Labour party to allow time to genuinely explore all the options,” he said. Mr Ross said the SNP previously agreed the timetable with the trust to come back with revised proposals. “They now seem to want to extend this indefinitely,” he said.”
  • Leicestershire – Leicestershire county council upbeat over library handover – BBC. “threatened with closure, officials have said. An appeal for volunteers to run 36 branches was made after the county council said it could not longer afford to staff them. Friday was the deadline to register an interest in taking over one of 12 unallocated libraries. The council expects every branch to have an offer and said enough groups may have come forward to keep all open.”
  • North Yorkshire – Closed book on changes to libraries – Whitby Gazette. “Over half the amount of people surveyed about proposed changes to the way Whitby Library migbt be run in the future have said they don’t think it will work.” … “This means for Whitby it will be manned by 75% volunteers alongside fewer full time staff.”

“NYCC reject local concerns about community libraries. It is extremely disappointing that today, 7th July, at the NYCC Executive committee Meeting, there was a rejection of local Petitioners’ concerns about the possible closure of 20 NYCC  libraries. The small financial concessions that have been offered to create All-Volunteer libraries will be inadequate to sustain them. The risk of insufficient volunteers emerging to take on charitable status to manage the 20 libraries recklessly avoids recognising the immeasurable educational, social and cultural benefits that our current library service provides. An unfair situation  has been created in library provision.. Too many risks now abound. The Council ignored our option to increase the number of ‘Hybrid’ libraries, which would have preserved a secure service in all our Communities.” North Yorkshire – Eileen Driver, Stokesley Library Campaign Group and John Dean, Save North Yorkshire  Libraries (press release received via email)

“Birkdale library closed in 2013, as part of Sefton’s radical cost cutting agenda. The closure was bitterly opposed by the Birkdale Library Action Group, and the ‘Friends’ group. Last week the Friends of Birkdale Library expressed their anger that the public building might be sold off. Len Davies, said to the Visiter: “I cannot understand the cabinet’s decision. There are 4,800 children in the Birkdale area that need a library. There are several schools within one mile of the Birkdale Library site.”

  • Swindon – Flashmob launches summer reading record attempt – Swindon Advertiser. “A flashmov took to Central Library on Saturday afternoon to launch the start of the Summer Reading Challenge – and hope to break some records in the process. The surprise Macarena was taken up by users young and old, as an outreach team and library staff performed in the lobby while pledges to the challenge were taken. The scheme encourages children to read at least six books during the summer holidays – one a week – and is backed this year by the Guinness Book Of World Records. If more than 100,000 pledges are received nationally, the scheme will earn its place in the book.” … “Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, presided over the pledges at Central Library. “I launch this in Parliament every year as the former chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries,”
  • West Lothian – Culture and Leisure Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel – West Lothian Council. £260k 2015/16 cut inc £175k bookfund cut. “Library opening hours will be altered to reflect demand”. Opening hours cut from total of 656 to 526 per week.  Further £46k p.a. cut 2016/17. 4 FTE lost.
  • Wrexham – Progress on plans for trust to run libraries in Wrexham – Leader. “Members of Wrexham Council debated plans to hand over libraries to a trust set up by the council, which could bring in much-needed funding through its charitable status. The move could also save the council £75,000 a year.” … “Much of the debate surrounded the issue of whether or not the council would eventually need to work with other councils in North East Wales in a bid to run its services, with mergers looking increasingly likely.”