The proposal by Angus Libraries to remove overdue book fees appears to run counter to the straitened times in which we live but it has certainly caused some conversations.  The theory is that removing fines will remove the fear borrowers have if they have late books and thus they will return long-lost books.  It will also remove a fear of those wavering about joining because of fear about being looked at sternly over the counter.  There is also of course the important point that the removal of fines will allow greater access by disadvantaged social groups.  Truly free book lending has been a part of the landscape in some authorities for years for children (with a move towards withdrawing fines in, for example, West Dunbartonshire a decade ago apparently doing well) but rarely for adults so this is an interesting move.  If it garners new members, a (however counter-intuitive) increase in stock and good press then all to the good.  More cash-strapped authorities, facing big cuts in funding. may look at Angus with incredulity at the move (especially if they live in Canada).  We’ll see if it’s a success and whether, in a few years time, we all get on the bandwagon.

Related to this is the thorny issue of lost books and fines recovery – it you’re interested in these (as well as a brief treatment on removing fines) then see the PLN page here.  For those interested in the ethics and reasoning behind fines (or no fines), David McEnemy has very kindly made his essay on the subject available here.  And you may also want to see the (a bit dated now) Guardian article on the subject here.



  • Drones – Public library drone for training users / recording events etc (forthcoming)
  • Honorary library card given to an animal – Good publicity tool.

London savings?

After the statement by Tim Coates on BBC Breakfast that money could be saved in London libraries, he and Desmond Clarke have got back to me with some information, which I include below:

“The figures for 2013-14 from CIPFA are : London – 353 libraries – funding – £201m = £569k per library. Out of the £201m, in London, £34m is returned to the council as support service cost. Kent – 109 libraries – funding £19m = £174k per library. Out of the £19m in Kent, £185k is returned to the council as support service cost … I wasn’t just saying that we can save money because the costs are excessive. I was also saying that by this route we could begin to improve the libraries and be ambitious for what they can do. At the present time we have no path that leads to improvement ( and reversing the decline in use ) – and we  need one urgently” Tim Coates

“Much money is wasted running 33 Public Library Authorities just in London, and 151 across England. Consultancy studies suggest that savings of up to 20% of library budgets could be achieved by merging authorities. Having so many separately managed authorities provides NO benefits to library users but just wastes funds on unnecessary bureaucracy. Even Ed Vaizey has said in an interview with The Bookseller that the number of authorities should be reduced. We will never save the public library service if we ignore the need for radical and structural change.” Desmond Clarke

National news

International news
  • Friends of the Library and Volunteers generously support Cape Town’s public libraries – City of Cape Town (South Africa). “The role of the Friends of the Library is to support and promote the City of Cape Town’s libraries. In addition to this amount, the Friends also donated books, CDs and DVDs with an approximate value of R896 000. ” [£44,5000 – Ed.] … “Over and above these generous donations made to the City’s libraries, the Friends have donated 41 465 hours of their time to assist in the libraries. The hours donated is the equivalent of 20 full time employees in the Library Service. ” … “There are currently 52 Friends of the Library organisations at various libraries across the city and the Department will be expanding this valuable partnership.”
  • The best new public library in the world – Designing Libraries (Sweden). “Denmark has named the Kista Public Library in Stockholm as the year’s best new public library in the Systematic Public Library of the Year Award 2015.” … ““The Kista Public Library accommodates the fact that the local population is a complex group; and, with an open, inviting architecture and creative use of IT, it draws in many different users. This is commendable.””
  • The Rise of Phone Reading – Wall Street Journal (USA). ““The future of digital reading is on the phone,” said Judith Curr, publisher of the Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books. “It’s going to be on the phone and it’s going to be on paper.” … “what has captured publishers’ attention is the increase in the number of people reading their phones. In a Nielsen survey of 2,000 people this past December, about 54% of e-book buyers said they used smartphones to read their books at least some of the time. That’s up from 24% in 2012, according to a separate study commissioned by Nielsen. “


  • International Library and Information Group Informal: From Salford Quays to Fisherman’s Wharf via Bremen town – a contrast in 3 National Library Conferences Wednesday, 14th October 2015 – 6:00pm to 7:45pm. “Attendance is FREE but booking is required for catering purposes (light nibbles / wine). Ian Stringer will be hosting our next CILIP ILIG Informal where he will be sharing his experiences of national library conferences which he has attended in the UK, Germany and the USA. Ian is a member of ILIG’s committee and has worked extensively in Africa, setting up library projects (known as “Caterpillar Libraries”) in South Africa, Burkina Faso and Ghana. In 2010 Ian was awarded CILIP Honorary Fellowship for his role on the African book box project, as well as his work as one of the world’s foremost authorities on mobile libraries! Ian is a keen library advocate and has also worked with IFLA and EUROLIS to help to promote the continued importance of libraries both in the UK and abroad.  Ian will look at the similarities and differences between the three conferences and examine why the American Library Association (ALA) attracts 25,000 delegates, Bibliothek & Information Deutschland (BID) 5,000 and CILIP only 600.”


  • Booktrust Schemes Co-ordinator – Cheshire West and Chester. £25-29k temporary full-time. “to work with Partners to deliver a range of funded initiatives to support reading and literacy. “

Local news by authority

  • Angus – Overdue library book fees may be scrapped – Courier. “Angus Council could to become the first local authority in Scotland to scrap charges for overdue library books. County libraries could scrap “old-fashioned” late fees in an attempt to woo back lapsed customers with armfuls of books they were too embarrassed to return. Councillors will be asked to approve the termination of the traditional fees – which generated around £18,000 a year for the council – from November. It is hoped the loss of revenue will be made up by an influx of new readers, at a time when other businesses that charge late fees are in decline and the emergence of websites like Amazon has made downloading books easier and more affordable.” … “Mr Wilson acknowledged there is a risk that the incidence of late returns will increase, making stock unavailable for others but the new library management system will provide “new opportunities” to mitigate this risk, including email reminders before books become overdue.”
  • Birmingham – Librarians call on Birmingham to maintain library services – Guardian. “Poole urges the council “to carefully consider the impact of budget cuts on library services and how in turn communities and the local economy will be affected”, recommending that it maintains “as much professional expertise in the library service as possible so that Birmingham’s libraries continue to innovate and meet the changing needs of the city”. Offering to meet Rogers’ team, Poole writes that while “I understand that Birmingham city council has to make significant savings … properly resourced and staffed library services” need to be “part of the solution”. Rogers wrote on Twitter that he “ welcome[s] the letter”, that the reply is “in the post”, and that he will work with CILIP. CILIP said on Tuesday that Poole had yet to hear back, but that “we expect to and look forward to following up with him and his team”.”
  • Blackpool – Hours change in pipeline for town libraries – Blackpool Gazette. “Libraries could be in the firing line as council chiefs look at more ways to save money. Town hall chiefs today stressed there were no plans to close any of the facilities – but councillors have been consulted over possible changes in opening hours. One councillor admitted he believes opening hours will be cut but The Gazette understands this may not necessarily be the case” … “Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “At present our library team are talking to councillors about potential changes to library services ahead of a possible public consultation later in the year. “Those changes could potentially include altering opening hours to make them more suitable for residents – including outside of normal standard working hours and more widely at weekends.”
  • Herefordshire – Campaigner: ‘The library is a fantastic service for Ross’ – Hereford Times. “Clare West of the Ross Library Development Group said they are very concerned about the current proposals to close the library in Cantilupe Road. Under Herefordshire Council‘s latest cost-saving proposals, Ross could be ‘withdrawn’ along with Belmont and Leominster. ” … “The group is encouraging people to sign the county-wide petition and it will also be putting out a petition specifically to keep Ross library open. “
  • Hertfordshire – Volunteers break the record in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge – Hertfordshire County Council (press release). “Youngsters across the county are volunteering their time to help libraries deliver this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. As many as 358 14-24 year olds have signed up to donate 12 hours of their time to the challenge. In total an impressive 441 people are volunteering this year – the largest amount ever recorded in the county. Additionally, more than 15,000 children have already signed up to take part in this year’s Record Breakers themed Summer Reading Challenge, which continues across the county until 5 September.  “

Abby Watson, a Summer Reading Challenge Volunteer at Radlett Library, describes the reading challenge as ‘excellent motivation for reading’ and is encouraging others to pop along to their local library to take part: “The best thing about the Summer Reading Challenge, whether that be as a participant or a volunteer, is the opportunity to discuss books – novels, non-fiction, audio books and comic books – as it’s not something that one tends to do, especially when you are younger, with other people at home or at school.” Abby also volunteers on an ongoing basis at Radlett Library, donating an hour of her time each week. She volunteered for last year’s Reading Challenge and enjoyed it so much that she asked if she could continue throughout the year.”


  • Isle of Wight – Consultation on library cut-backs draws closer – On the Wight. “If you’re concerned about the possible closure of Ventnor Library or the proposed massive reduction in paid staff and possible relocation to the old Youth Centre, why not become a Friend of Ventnor Library? The group, which was formed after threats by the previous Conservative council to close nine of the eleven libraries on the Island, supports the library in many ways, including regular fundrasising. The Friends will be meeting at the library on Wednesday (19th) from 6.30pm – the last meeting before the current Isle of Wight consultation closes on 6th September.”
  • Lincolnshire – Community Hubs Libraries, Sink or Swim… -Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Thursday the 13th of August saw the official opening of the Sutton on Sea Community Hub and Library, formerly Sutton on Sea Library. Changing from professionally run and County Council maintained, to a volunteer run and managed service to the community.  As the good ship SS County Council steams off into the distance it throws a couple of life rafts in the form of a 4 year part finance package and a one off capital expense package. Completely ignoring the one hundred plus jobs that have sunk without a trace and the sharks circulating around a once proud Lincolnshire Library service that boasted 45 proper libraries that all people in the county could access with ease…” … “Not one single person supported the plan outside of the Administration Councillors and believe me for all opposition parties to vote against something is rare. In the consultation over 21,000 responses were all against and comments from Sheffield Hallam and the Judge reflected this. Sheffield Hallam noting no one was in favour at all.”
  • Lincolnshire – First community run Lincolnshire library officially opens – Lincolnshire Echo. “Sutton on Sea library and community hub was officially opened on Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony by deputy Mayor, Councillor Joyce Taylor. The opening was attended by Councillor Bill Aron, representing Nick Worth the executive member for libraries. Paul Espin, chairman of Sutton on Sea Library and Community Hub said: “I appreciate the issue regarding the library services has been a very emotive subject and has required much political and legal attention.” … “Opening hours at the Sutton on Sea hub remain the same on Monday, Friday and Saturday from 10am-1pm and Wednesdays 2pm-4pm.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Robin Hood and young bookworms celebrate reopening of Arnold Library – Nottingham Post. Arnold Library: “People flocked from far and wide to get a glimpse of the £300,000 improvements – with regular users describing it as ‘unrecognisable’. The library, which closed in January, now boasts £40,000 worth of new books, a gift shop, small cafe and study section. The building has also benefited from new windows, sun panels and LED lighting throughout.” … “Nottinghamshire County Council has implemented improvements to a number of libraries in the last two years – including Newark, Bingham and Stapleford. Beeston is likely to be the next to benefit.”
  • Shropshire / Telford and Wrekin – Shropshire and Telford council chiefs issue a bleak vision of the future – Shropshire Star. “Libraries have been one area where local government cuts have already started to take effect. Shropshire Council has been in the process of offloading management of its libraries in a bid to save £670,000 over the next two years. The intention is that 15 of Shropshire’s libraries would be managed by community organisations, while the county’s seven principal libraries become “community hubs” working in partnership with other bodies. In a report on the future of the county’s libraries, Michael Lewis, manager of the service for Shropshire Council, said: “The council’s vision is that traditional face-to-face services will be delivered by community-based organisations that will maximise the resources available locally and create welcoming and accessible hubs of activity.” The move has not been without controversy with the Church Stretton Library Support Group taking legal action in a bid to reverse Shropshire Council’s decision to move the town’s library to the nearby school. Council leader Keith Barrow has criticised the legal approach which he says is likely to lead to the closure of more libraries. He said: “In Church Stretton we are moving the library a short distance to the local school and 1,200 people have signed a petition and are talking about taking it to a judicial review. That would probably cost us six figures and that would then come out of the libraries budget, which just makes it more likely libraries will close.””
  • Southampton – ‘Defer libraries decision to September full council meeting’ – Bitternepark.info. “At the scrutiny meeting, where various library friends groups were represented, Cllr Kaur called for talks with friends of library groups, claiming her offer hadn’t previously been taken up. “I’m more than happy for you to come to this meeting and have your say, but there’s nothing like a face-to-face, one-to-one conversation,” said Cllr Kaur. Members of FOCRL and other libraries under threat will be at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, although unable to speak.”
  • Southampton – Decision day for future of under threat Cobbett Road, Burgess Road, Millbrook, Weston and Thornhill libraries – Daily Echo. “City council bosses will today decide whether to stop running six of the facilities from April next year. And while they say they are confident groups will come forward to run them there are fears that it could mean the end for some of the city’s most loved community facilities. Proposals to close Cobbett Road, Burgess Road, Millbrook, Weston and Thornhill libraries, as well as the mobile service, first surfaced almost a year ago when a review into their future was launched.”
  • Staffordshire – Take a look: £1m new Stafford Library is in touch with new technology – Express and Star. “Touchscreen tables, 3D printers and giant computer tablets – Stafford’s new £1million library looks more like an art gallery or technology hub.” … “Gone are lifeless signs and notice boards which traditionally greet library-goers, instead those visiting the new facility at Staffordshire Place will be met by a large state-of-the-art touchscreen display which resembles an iPad. The six-foot tall information point will show activities happening on the day, promote what is going on at other libraries, display family history events and even recommend books to loan.” … “The vision set out by Staffordshire County Council, which will run the site, is for it to be a centre of excellence and the Innovation Suite will be at the heart of that ambition.Much of the digital-centric facility has the Government’s new STEM – Science Technology, Engineering and Maths – agenda in mind which is aimed at enhancing the next generation’s computer science skills.”