Some good articles, all from abroad, on the importance of libraries, including one looking at heavy investment in the sector in Abu Dhabi.  Another is from the continuously inspiring Ferguson Library in the USA with a look at how things are going one year after the riots there. There’s also a good article by, wait for it, a librarian leaving the job in order to be a nun. Even if you’re not religious (and I’m not), this is a surprisingly relevant article which addresses the true fact that one works in libraries because of a belief in public service. In this country, depressingly, there’s the normal national stories about declines to library budgets and local stories about volunteers needing to take over the buildings, but there’s also two libraries moving into new buildings.  I’ve also revamped an old page that now lists 23 examples in the UK of public library services getting together to save money or improve the service and, ideally, both.

Finally, there’s a request from a researcher helping with the English Public Libraries Taskforce for information on what your library provides.  It’s worth completing even if you don’t know the answer to all the questions. The more information these pe



Help out the English Public Libraries Taskforce

“For the Libraries Taskforce to maximise its impact and to best support library activity, we need to build a solid evidence base to inform our thinking and one of the first steps toward this is to try and build up a comprehensive picture of who is doing what, where. To begin this process we’ve created a survey to hear back from Heads of Library Services and Libraries themselves about the different activity they’re doing. We intend to use the data for three purposes: to help bring together a more structured and comprehensive map of what libraries across England are doing, to identify what support libraries would most welcome from the Taskforce, and to help evidence the value of libraries.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey. We estimate it will take about 30 minutes of your time and we need all responses back by August 15th 2015.

Please note: The data in this survey will be used by Taskforce members to better target their support for libraries. It will not be used for any sort of ‘performance management’ purpose. Please note the following:
  • We won’t publish any identifiable raw data publicly but anonymous, analysed data may be used in public.
  • Data will be shared with Taskforce members if they want to see it to aid their planning.
  • Aggregated data plus extracts of identifiable data may be shared with other libraries / LAs – eg we might want to send an email to everyone who said they co-located with CAB​, however, we will ask for permission from individual libraries before doing this.
  • ​We will share anonymised data with all those that take part in the survey.
We may want to come back to you at different points to collect additional information and have asked for your permission to do this at the end of the survey.
If you have any questions or would like to speak with the team that is compiling this information on our behalf, please reach out to Cassie Robinson at cassie@thepointpeople.com


  • 23 examples of public libraries working together – Public Libraries News. List of all library authorities (from mutual assistance to reader development to complete merging) sharing services with eachother [please let me know if you know of any more – Ed.]
  • Councils urged to list assets communities could take over – BBC. “Councils should list facilities community groups could take over to ensure they are not lost in council cuts, a Welsh government adviser has said. Richard Davies said mounting pressures on councils meant some buildings or services could not be retained. He said a list of available assets might inspire people to take them on before they are at risk of closure.”
  • Imagination – “ImagiNation is a reading and arts activity for 11-18yr olds running in 10 library authorities across the East: Bedford Borough, Cambridgeshire, Central Bedfordshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Luton, Norfolk, Peterborough, Southend and Thurrock. ImagiNation is now in its second year. Young people have been involved in all stages of the development of this project: they invented the name, developed the logo, designed this blog and planned the activity; with the help of artists and designers chosen by the young people themselves. In 2014 they also co-produced a series of arts workshops in libraries around the region. “
  • Librarians — why, didn’t you know? The councils said they all had to go – Times. “Julia Donaldson, the bestselling children’s author, has accused the government of letting down a generation of children by allowing councils to close school libraries, lay off staff and replace trained librarians with part-time volunteers. She says that while countries such as Australia and the USA are expanding library services, which help to improve standards of literacy, cutbacks in Britain have led to primary and secondary schools dispensing with libraries, or handing them over to untrained staff …”
  • Major cutbacks for St Bride Foundation Library – BookSeller. “The St Bride Foundation Library, which dates from 1895 and has a historic collection of printing trade and typographical materials, will open on a limited, paid-for basis only from now on, instead of having weekly opening days for visitors. Meanwhile its library manager, the only member of library staff, has been made redundant. The chair of the Historic Libraries Forum has warned the Foundation’s chief executive Glyn Farrow that the move could put the charity’s legacy at risk; but Farrow has called the intervention “ill-timed and unhelpful”.”

“Logic-defying figures in a Press Association story about a sharp drop in the number of children visiting public libraries suggest that few of the newspapers that ran the article, include the Guardian, actually read it. Dozens of local papers also ran the piece, noting that the “apparent decline in interest in libraries comes despite an overall increase in the number of libraries” since 2010, according to figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Fiance and Accountancy (Cipfa).  This was news to Cipfa, which has faithfully recorded the large number of libraries lost every year.  It should also have been surprising to newspapers that have reported the cuts and closures to library services. The Guardian, at least, ran a correction several days later explaining that the article had mistakenly compared the number of libraries in England and Wales in 2014 with the numbers for England only in 2010.  In fact, according to Cipfa, there are now 286 fewer libraries available in England for children (or anyone else) to visit than there were in 2010.” Library News – Private Eye.  Issue No. 1398 (p.30)

  • Where does it go from here? – Leon’s Library Blog. “Libraries are part and parcel of the struggle to deliver meaningful services to some of the most vulnerable members of our communities: from the housebound, to the job seeker who cannot afford internet access, and the families who are unable to buy books to effect the many positive benefits that reading for pleasure brings.” … “I cling to the hope that despite the changes to come we can continue to articulate a vision for public libraries, that while perhaps being a long way from the reality of current provision, nevertheless should be the ideal we aspire to, and which we will one day hopefully achieve.”


  • Free advocacy training curriculum now available for public libraries – ALA (USA). “The Public Library Association (PLA) is pleased to announce that the advocacy training curriculum Turning the Page: Supporting Libraries, Strengthening Communities is now available online. This training curriculum is an updated version of Turning the Page that was developed for library associations and networks around the world, with input from the Public Library Association and other grantees of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries initiative.”
  • If Librarians Were Honest – Brain Pickings (USA). ” Laura Damon-Moore and Erinn Batykefer, cofounders of the The Library as Incubator project, celebrate in The Artist’s Library: A Field Guide (public library) — an imaginative and practical collection of artists’ stories and ideas for how to use the library as a sandbox for creativity, a productivity-booster for your work, and a source of immense nourishment for the life of the mind. What emerges is an invaluable tool for any artist, by the wonderfully loose definition of “a person who learns and uses creative tools and techniques to make new things.”
  • Libraries Reclaiming Their Lustre – Sourceable (Global). “Both public libraries and those within educational institutions are working to enter the digital age, enhance the user experience and create community spaces that offer more than just beanbags for reading and borrowing services.”.  Looks at new libraries in Australia, Canada, Dubai and Malaysia.
  • One Year Later: An Interview with Ferguson (Mo.) Library Director Scott Bonner – Public Libraries Online (USA). “Aug. 9 marks one year since police in Ferguson, Mo., shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. With the anniversary looming this Sunday, Ferguson Municipal Public Library Director Scott Bonner is hoping for the best while preparing for the worst. Bonner, who has received awards for providing a safe harbor for residents during the Ferguson protests, spoke to Programming Librarian about how the past year has changed his library.” … ” First, the community has made it clear that they want an opportunity to share their stories without a media filter. So we are working on two programs. The first is StoryCorps @ your library, which lets people record a 40-minute conversation with a friend that gets archived in the Library of Congress. We’re also in the early stages of creating a teen newspaper. We’ve tentatively named it the Ferguson Phoenix, but we’ll see what the teens want to call it when they’re running the show. Our other big push is toward STEM/STEAM programming. We have been talking to HP, Boeing and the (Saint Louis) Science Center about different projects. This Thursday, Boeing is doing an invention night, and we are also hosting a build-a-computer program.”
  • Public libraries serve a purpose – National (Abu Dhabi). “Another cultural manifestation is the increasing number of public libraries. As The National reported yesterday, Abu Dhabi has witnessed the establishment of several new public libraries in the past few years. Despite having no public libraries five years ago, the emirate is now considered a regional leader in promoting, encouraging and supporting reading habits. Three more new libraries were added to the four traditional library branches that have opened since 2010. In an age when so much reading occurs online and on screens, libraries can seem outdated. But there is a statement of intent in creating public buildings dedicated to reading. Their physical presence sends a clear message that knowledge is crucial to the development and sustainability of this young country. The role of a library goes beyond basic knowledge. A library is a community centre and a place where people can come together to discuss ideas and common interests. It’s a place that sets foundations for young readers to develop their interest in reading.”
  • Surprises Found In Library Books – BookRiot (USA). “It was not so long ago that I opened a copy of a horror anthology, only to find a crisp piece of bacon that was apparently being used as a bookmark…”
  • Too bright to work: Floor-length windows at public library force visitors to take shelter under umbrellas as it lets in too much light  Mail (China). “Visitors to Shenzhen Library have been spotted reading under the cover of their umbrellas in the city in southern China, reported the People’s Daily Online. The unusual scene came as a result of the intense sun streaming through the library’s floor-to-ceiling windows.”
  • Why I’m Leaving Libraries for the Convent –  Library Lost and Found. “I wanted to highlight what I really saw about my life as a librarian as I walked through this decision: At its heart, librarianship is service. What librarians do is not a job: It is an act of love performed for our patrons. It is a moment of kind grace given to a stranger or a friend. It is a moment of hope in a world that often seems hopeless.”
  • With 10,699 books printed, Windsor library’s self-publishing machine is a hit – Windsor Star. “Perry runs the main library’s self-publishing Espresso Book Machine which has produced 10,699 books in three years and she hopes to be even busier delivering professionally-bound paperback books into the hands of local authors. Windsor was the first public library in Canada to install such a machine in 2012 so it wasn’t clear how well it would be received. Three years later, the service isn’t a money-maker but its growing popularity and a proposed fee increase could help it break even.” … “The fees are $15 for set up plus a few dollars for a cover and loading each title and then five cents a page for black and white or 50 cents a page for colour. The report suggests increasing the setup fees, keeping the cost per page the same, and offering a bulk discount at 50 or more copies instead of 30 copies.  It costs almost $319 for 50 copies of a soft-cover book and under the proposed new pricing it would cost about $361, she said.”


  • Stockton on Tees – Librarian Bibliographic Services – Full time permanent, £25-27k. “Working in a high achieving and customer focussed service you will lead and develop our effective and efficient Bibliographical Services department. Alongside the Library Development Officer and Reading Resource Librarian you will ensure that we deliver a cost effective acquisitions programme and that the stock meets the requirements of the widely diverse communities across the borough of Stockton ensuring optimum performance. Excellent ICT skills are essential as tasks undertaken include electronic ordering, payment of invoices via an EDI system and import of catalogue records. “

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Council delivered ‘wake up call’ as survey reveals library closures strongly opposed – Times Series. “Campaigners say Barnet council should go back to the drawing board as almost all library users say they oppose the potential closures. As libraries are packed with children completing a summer reading challenge, Barnet council has released its results of the recent consultation into the possibility of closing up to six libraries in the borough. More than 3,800 people submitted their opinions during the course of the survey, which cost £200,000 and ran from November 15 to February 22.”

“Mother-of-two Mary Beer-Cleasby, a regular library user, said: “Did it need to cost £200,000 to find out that 99 per cent of the community want a library service to provide children and adults with reading, literacy and learning opportunities? “The fact that all the libraries threatened with closure have been experiencing an average of 20 per cent increase in children’s fiction borrowing should be something we treasure and look to expand.”

  • Birmingham – Library of Birmingham tourist information office closes  – Birmingham Post. “It means tourists will no longer receive dedicated visitor advice, directions and guidance in person at the library … City bosses say tourists are increasingly using websites and social media to accesss information and there will still be general help available from staff working at the library, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, hotels and other attractions. The cuts are the latest to hit the library which has already reduced its opening hours and made dozens of staff redundant earlier this year – although new partnership deals announced last month will see some of those withdrawn.”
  • Cardiff – CardiffCentral Library goes digi-tastic – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. “There was a buzz in Cardiff city centre last Thursday (30th July 2015) with the re-opening of the revamped Cardiff Central Library. I was invited to the launch event and joined the tour which took us around the new council services advice hub and the state-of-the-art digital floor that have been developed at the library” … “The new digital floor has some terrific features including a tablet bar, digital wall, digital creative suite, children’s media zone and a gaming area. Oh and a 3D printer! This might be the first one in a Welsh public library – please let us know if there are others.”
  • Fife – 16 library closures and one close-up scrutiny… – Fife Today. “Councillor Susan Leslie, who chairs the committee, said: “It has been impossible to progress this as Fife Council officers have, up until now, failed to provide the required report. “We are now left looking at the proposed model at the same time as proposed libraries closures.””
  • Fife – Libraries campaign steps up a gear – Fife Today. “The Keep Fife’s Libraries Open Campaign’s team of community activists are offering advice and support to local communities and are planning to more events to highlight their campaign.”  … “The group is also starting a letter campaign, writing to community councils and elected representatives in a bid to keep pressure up on Fife Cultural Trust and Fife Council to stop the closures. The continued pressure follows a public meeting in Glenrothes this week when more than 100 people heard local, award-winning author James Robertson back the campaign.” … “Glenwood, Thornton, Markinch and Pitteuchar in the Glenrothes area, and Kinghorn are earmarked for closure in the current financial year, but Fife Council will provide funding to support these libraries until the consultation process has been completed and a final decision has been made on the future model. It’s proposed Crail, Lundin Links, Pittenweem, Colinsburgh, Falkland, Freuchie, East Wemyss, Bowhill and Crossgates libraries will close in 2016/17, and Townhill and Abbeyview (Dunfermline) in 2017/18.”
  • Fife – What’s the story at the library? – Fife Today. “A Levenmouth councillor is appealing for support from local people as he mounts a campaign to save the library in East Wemyss – just days before Fife Council holds a vital scrutiny meeting to discuss closure plans. Councillor John O’Brien hopes to launch a petition and possibly organise a public meeting, involving the local MP and MSP, to deflect what he described as “a direct hit for the people of East Wemyss”.”
  • Harrow – Learning is child’s play at Lego education workshops – Harrow Times. “Last month, Wealdstone Library invited 10 lucky children along to the trial launch of Lego Education which is to be introduced to libraries across the borough in September. Since then, libraries across the borough have been hosting fun-filled and interactive workshops for children enjoying their summer holidays where they have learnt about design and technology using resources familiar to them.”
  • Isle of of Wight – Libraries key to an educated populace – Isle of Wight County Press. “What will it take to make this council realise how important this library is to so many people in Ventnor? The last time drastic changes were proposed, I took a petition to every house in my neighbourhood, missing no-one, I believe, and at that time everyone except two self-confessed Conservative Party members signed to keep the library as it was: fully supported by the library service, with two paid librarians” … “We should be investing in our libraries to enable them to help improve adult literacy; further cuts to Ventnor Library would jeopardise the excellent work that is currently being done.”
  • Knowsley – Knowsley library cutbacks: critics slam cuts to “access to knowledge” – Liverpool Echo. ” Labour MP Maria Eagle, whose constituency includes Halewood Library, said the cuts left Halewood in a poorer state but blamed a government “bent on shrinking services”. … “Ian Smith, chair of Knowsley Liberal Democrats and a former longstanding Prescot councillor, said: “This is a vital service for people who use it, and they will not be happy at all. It’s just another unnecessary closure – they blame the government, but they find money for their favoured projects. The priorities are all wrong.”
  • Leicestershire – Future looks bright for village library – Hinckley Times. “The future of Burbage Library looks assured after more than a dozen people joined a management committee to press forward community ownership plans. It is a turnaround in fortunes for the facility which looked destined for closure as part of Leicestershire County Council’s cost-cutting plans. Last year a lengthy consultation run by the parish council on whether the Church Street library could or should be run by villagers received support but not enough, it was considered, to take proposals to the next level.”
  • Lincolnshire – Ruskington Library set to be run by volunteers – Sleaford Target. “Fifteen major libraries including Sleaford – which now opens for an extra hour on Thursdays until 6pm – will remain. Richard Higgs, chairman of Heckington Parish Council, said: “We are offering an eager group of volunteers the use of the Parish Chambers and Community Centre and they have been rather frustrated by this judicial review. “It would be really good for the village to have its own library service.”

“I’m a volunteer in the St Barnabas charity shop and we get a lot of people buying books from us which are more up to date than those in the library.”

  • Liverpool – Liverpool Town Hall protest over plans to transfer libraries to volunteers – Liverpool Echo. “Angry protestors gathered outside Liverpool Town Hall in a campaign against council plans to hand over five Liverpool libraries to community groups. The demonstration took place just before a council cabinet meeting over the proposals which would see libraries across the city taken over by volunteers.” … “A group of about 20 protestors stood outside the hall with a banner reading “Save Our Libraries”. Among them was children’s author Cathy Cassidy who told the ECHO libraries “will die” under the plans. She said: “Volunteer-run libraries will not be able to sustain opening hours. It will be a slow death.”
  • Liverpool – Tony Snell in the morning – BBC Radio Merseyside. Alan Gibbons (argues for the need for paid librarians and national/formal structures) and Mayor Anderson (argues for volunteer libraries and say that such deep cuts mean Alan needs to “smell the coffee”) talk about the cuts to Liverpool Libraries (1 hour 9 minutes in). May or Anderson says there may be no “discretionary services” at all in 2017 due to budget cuts and that Alan should be protesting against central government. Alan argues that Mayor Anderson should not “roll over” and implement cuts.
  • Plymouth – Plymouth library plans in after council warns itself over ‘invalid’ submission – Plymouth Herald. “the Central Library is to be moved from North Hill to the heart of the city centre in a £1.4million revamp as it makes way for the history centre’s regeneration. The library will takeover Taylor Maxwell House in Armada Way, formerly a branch of the Woolwich Building Society, and the first and basement floors of Cornwall College’s building in Mayflower Street. In a letter from Plymouth City Council’s planning team, it informed colleagues behind the move that their planning application was “invalid” and that they were preparing to terminate the request – despite £385 having been paid in fees.” … “A slightly more central location is hoped to tackle the declining numbers visiting the library, with an 18 per cent drop between 2012/13 and 2013/14. Only the library element of the North Hill building will relocate to 1,076 square metres of Taylor Maxwell House – library storage, administration and the schools library service will move elsewhere as these function were deemed “not to need a high value city centre location”
  • Staffordshire – Plans unveiled for New state-of-the-art library for Stafford Stone and Eccleshall Gazette. “The new library, based at Staffordshire Place 1 in Tipping Street will not only offer access to books and resources for members of the public, but a range of modern facilities for businesses, community groups, schools and colleges. Offering the latest in technology the library will be more accessible, with a more flexible space and will continue to give access to over one million books and over three thousand e-books as well as computers and free Wi-Fi. New digitable touch tables will also give people easier access to online archives, photographs and other materials. A new Innovation Suite will provide access to 3D printing, helping people and businesses to design and develop new products and prototypes, while Raspberry Pi’s will be available to help children and young people learn coding and other computer science skills needed for the jobs of the future”
  • Stockton on Tees – Opening a new chapter at new £2.7m library – Hartlepool Mail. “Billingham’s new £2.7million Library and Customer Service centre has been officially opened. Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of Arts Council England, visited the town centre to perform the opening ceremony. The centre has a variety of library and customer services all under one roof, and is part of the ongoing regeneration of Billingham town centre.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Residents win right to take legal challenge against closure of library to High Court – Wales Online. “Residents and book lovers have won the right to take their legal challenge against a library closure to the High Court. The action comes after Vale of Glamorgan councillors voted to close Rhoose library in March as part of plans to cut costs. But residents of the village in the Vale of Glamorgan announced their “delight” after a judge in the High Court in Cardiff agreed campaigners have a case that the consultation in closing the library “may have been unlawful”.” … “Michael Imperator, a partner of the law firm, said: “Rhoose library is a very important case that is part of a bigger issue concerning the viability of libraries. Local libraries play an important role in the development of residents’ literacy skills and are taken for granted by many local authorities.” see also Rhoose library campaigners set for High Court hearing – Barry and District News.