More information on the announcement from Nicky Morgan about support for public libraries in schools. The announcement dates from a manifesto commitment in March and involves £100k of funding to the Reading Agency.  More details on how it is being used is here. So, this is far from the automatic child library membership apparently raised in the headline.

For those of you in CILIP, please take note if you have not already seen it that there is a motion requiring the association to automatically oppose new volunteer libraries due to be voted on at the AGM.  However you intend to vote, make sure that you do, if you can.  If you can’t get to the meeting (it’s in London), you can get someone else to cast your vote by proxy. This may be an opportune time to have a look at the arguments for and against volunteers running libraries so I have updated the relevant pages on PLN.

Finally, there’s an article from Moscow that looks like a blast from the past to me.  Apparently, the Russian librarians are getting worried about the dodgy nature (50 Shades and all that) of books that their library users (how dare they) insist on reading and are putting in new policies to ensure that “quality” stuff like Dostoyevsky is bought instead.  This may sound like pure snobbery and reactionism but is part of a constant battle in libraries, between those who think the purpose of libraries is, in broad strokes, to give the people what they want and those who think that libraries should be edifying places of education. Similarly (although those who made the decision may well be shocked by the comparison), there are reports that a German library has removed “politically incorrect” materials from the shelves, pointing out the worry some librarians have with stuff that may be offensive to some.  The story has been taken up by several rightwing activist pages so I am not sure how reliable the news actually is but, assuming at least a kernel of truth, it’s an interesting comparison with Moscow nonetheless.


National news

  • Biteback: Richard Brooks – Times (behind paywall). “”For years, I have regularly given books to charity shops in North London. I have now found another happy target for donations. It is called a public library. I had popped into my nearest Islington branch after reading about Birmingham …….  But it is not just Brum that’s suffering. There are cutbacks all over the country, with quite a few closures – Southampton council approved five last week. One problem is that the culture minister, Ed Vaizey, oversees libraries, but local authorities determine their funding. Now Tim Coates, a former chief executive of Waterstones, has attacked Vaizey for his lack of grip over libraries, adding that in continental Europe they are flourishing. Many writers ……have voiced their concerns…….”
  • Cuts warning over Nicky Morgan library plan to boost literacy – Bt.com. “the Local Government Association (LGA) cautioned that councils were coming closer to being forced to take the axe to libraries and other services as austerity measures bite harder. Ian Stephens, chair of the LGA’s culture, tourism and sport board, said: “Councils recognise the importance of boosting literacy among children and many already work with schools and other partners to encourage local children to read and join their library. “Working with local communities, councils have found innovative ways to keep providing library services while managing reductions in their budgets of up to 40% since 2010. “However, efficiencies and innovation can only go so far and in the face of more potential budget reductions in the autumn Spending Review, councils could have to make some really tough choices about which services they can continue to provide.” see also DfE launches auto-enrolment literacy campaign despite library cuts – Public Sector Executive.
  • Economics of Public Knowledge – Politicial Economy Research Centre. “Here, Davis makes the case that a series of factors are eroding multiple forms of public knowledge, from news media to library provision, from market information to the research that informs public policy-making. A combination of the internet, austerity politics, quantification as evaluation, neoliberal policy-making, inbuilt redundancy in knowledge creation, and growing inequality, have each undermined the basis on which various forms of public knowledge is created and distributed. The long-term effects of this are break downs in the traditional functioning of democracies, markets and wider society cohesion.”
  • Letter from Reading Agency regarding book clubs – Reading Agency. 20 school library services, especially in areas of most disadvantage, to be chosen for funding.  Each to recruit 10 schools and provide reading clubs to them. Reading Agency to support, train and give £2k for resources to each authority.
  • Letter to Nicky Morgan – Alan Gibbons. “It was refreshing to see your initiative with writer David Walliams, recommending that all eight-year-olds be issued a library card. This is, of course, years overdue and many of us who have campaigned for better libraries have been promoting this idea with limited success for years.  My pleasure ends there however. This call is disingenuous in the extreme when your government has presided over five years in which 284 static and mobile libraries have closed (2014 CIPFA figures), 434 libraries have some kind of substantial volunteer involvement, being staffed or funded by them, some 20% of librarians have lost their jobs, book stocks have been slashed and opening hours cut.” … “If every child had access to a good school library and a good school librarian, they would have their passport to reading. I sent your predecessor Michael Gove a petition calling for statutory school libraries, but he turned it down.”
  • Library Cards Without Libraries? How About Unicorns Too? – Publishing Perspectives. “My name is Chris White. I’m a children’s writer and illustrator. I spend a lot of my time visiting libraries trying to inspire young people and give them a love of reading (if you need these concepts explained, then just let me know). Sorry, I should say I used to spend time visiting libraries. This is the first summer for 15 years that I haven’t visited any. It’s mostly because all the libraries I used to work in are now closed. The ones that are open have no money for events, they have to save it for things like, oh y’know, books. Or they don’t have enough staff to put events on as they have mostly been made redundant. So no kids shows this summer.”

“Congratulations, you have killed libraries.” Chris White

  • New action plan to inspire thousands more pupils to read – Department of Education. “A new action plan to help improve reading standards in primary schools, including new funding for book clubs, has been announced by School Reform Minister Nick Gibb to mark World Book Day.”‘Reading: the next steps’ outlines new measures, including: a new programme to support up to 200 primary schools, where reading attainment at key stage 2 is currently low, to set up book clubs and promote library membership, to inspire thousands more pupils to develop a love of literature: urging all primary schools to arrange library membership for all their year 3 pupils (age 7 to 8): boosting the promotion of poetry in schools by funding new resources to help primary teachers to introduce poetry recitation to their pupils at an early age, as well as funding a further year’s extension of the national poetry recitation competition, Poetry by Heart”
  • Pullman blasts government over status of arts in schools – BookSeller. “Pullman was speaking to Sky News about the government’s decision to phase the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) into secondary schools, which has core GCSE subjects of English, maths, science, a language and history or geography. Schools will be judged by students’ GCSE results in the core subjects, but not others like art, music and drama, from 2020 onwards. Pullman said: “The arts are beyond price, they’re beyond value, they’re of incalculable worth in what it means to be a human being.””
  • What is comprehensive & efficient? – Leon’s Library Blog. A look at the definitions of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act. experiences with it over the last few years and thoughts on if any change is needed.

International news

  • Eire – Public libraries are changing – Galway Advertiser. “Some of the developments Peter is describing are part of a much broader project to enhance library services across the country. “There is currently a national plan called A Public Library Strategy 2013-2017, and the core of the plan is the community library and it is aiming to bring library standards up nationwide,” he explains. “We are trying to gear that network of libraries for community usage and involvement.”
  • Eire – Sligo Library closures are ‘temporary’ – Independent. “Sligo Central Library, currently closed due to staff shortages, will re-open in September. In a statement issued on his behalf, Mr Hayes (right) said: “The decision to temporarily close the branch libraries was a short-term measure which was regrettable but necessary.”
  • Germany – Books must burn again  – Tichys Einblick (via Google Translate). “In the past, Hofmann had 500 books sorted out to make room for new. But this time it probably was not about the usual and understandable update: This time the action was directed against books with “incorrect” spelling. These are those which, for example, the word “Negro” included. . It also met Erich Kastner, author of such famous children’s books such as “The Flying Classroom”, “Pünktchen und Anton”, “Lottie and Lisa”. Obviously his books in Baden-Württemberg are a provocation and violation of the government-mandated zeitgeist of school re-education for politically correct people. ” see also German Library Burns Books That Aren’t Politically Correct – Activist.
  • Malaysia – In his book, it’s not only about money – Star. “A mat laid with books, a vacant spot in a public space and ideas aplenty. That’s all it takes to be part of Buku Jalanan, a movement to provide open-air libraries to the public. Zikri Rahman, 25, became one of the movement’s early initiators when he and two other friends laid down a mat at the Shah Alam Lake Gardens in 2011 and invited passers-by to read their book collection – for free. Today, they are there every alternate Saturdays from 5pm to 7pm. “We are about books, art, culture and activism”
  • Russia – Moscow public libraries to revise lists of books proposed for purchasing – TASS. “Moscow City’s public libraries are going to revise the lists of books endorsed for purchasing, which contain currently ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ by E.L.James, ‘Nakes Lunch’ by William Burroughs and large quantities of second-rate fiction, the director of the city Department for Culture, Alexander Kibovsky said on Friday. “This isn’t an issue of censoring. It relates to the understanding of the situation,” he said. “We’re working to help our readers develop normal taste.” “I hear some people tell us, well, nobody will come to the libraries after that,” Kibovsky went on as he addressed a conference of directors of city libraries. “It’ll be much better, in fact, if one person reading Dostoyevsky comes to a library instead of ten people picking titles of dubious quality, literary rubbish.” … “Krasnova complained that city libraries are overburdened with practically unrequested publications, while they could be replaced with much more instructional literature.”
  • USA – When public libraries and community schools work together everybody wins – Overdrive. “Back to school time is a great “excuse” to introduce students to the library and with access to your digital collection it’s never been easier for them to access titles for required reading, source materials for papers or, of course, for enjoyment!”

Local news by authority

  • Fife – Could communities unwittingly undermine efforts to save libraries from closure? – Fife Today. “Cllr Leslie – whose scrutiny committee last week examined in some detail the proposed changes to the library network in Fife – said: “I’m concerned we’re asking people to talk about the closure of their library and talk about alternatives at the same time. “Why would our communities want to talk about alternatives when they don’t want the facility to close in the first place? “We should take a decision on the closures and then, if their library is to close, go back to the communities to give them the chance to discuss alternative provision.””
  • Fife – Fife library closures will be a ‘looming catastrophe’ – Courier. “Colinsburgh Library users’ group had been in talks in the past about voluntarily providing help, its chairman Peter Marshall called on Fife Cultural Trust and Fife Council to think again. It was better, he argued, to invest in libraries as “to abandon libraries seems to me to be a policy of despair.” Meanwhile, Youth MSP Lewis Akers called for Fifers to “stand in solidarity” against the “looming catastrophe”.”

“Royal Greenwich Libraries recorded an all-time high of 208,082 visitors last month, July 2015, beating their previous best of 207,562, achieved in April 2014. The Greenwich Centre Library, which opened in June this year, was an immediate success with over 21,000 visits in July, making it seven times busier than East Greenwich Library, the library it replaced. It is now the third most popular library in the borough. Woolwich Library continued to attract large numbers of customers, with over 95,000 visitors.  The Summer Reading Challenge has undoubtedly been a real attraction for children and their families, with over 100 children attending some of the events at libraries in the Borough. This year’s Summer Reading Challenge theme, appropriately, is Record Breakers.” Greenwich – Greenwich libraries’ visitors numbers hit all-time high in July – GLL (press release)

  • Herefordshire – Anti-cuts campaign started over Leominster library – Shropshire Star. “A consultation day on the proposals is being held in the Corn Square in Leominster on September 18, from 10am to 2pm, for residents to make their feelings known. Sue Lindsay, treasurer of Friends of Leominster Library, said a petition had already been started against any cuts. She said: “We’ve got a big campaign going on in Leominster. We’ve had a stall in the market today and we will be having another one on September 18, right opposite the council’s consultation. “We want to get the council’s consultation questionnaire into the hands of as many people as possible to fill it in so that they (Herefordshire Council members) are inundated.””
  • Leicester – Unison accuses Leicester City Council of planning to decimate library services through cost-cutting – Leicester Mercury. “Branch secretary Gary Garner has written to city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby warning that the plan – outlined to staff earlier this month – would decimate services which are essential to residents. The proposals would see 20 jobs axed and staff who remain facing pay re-grades as their jobs changed. “”A senior library assistant will be downgraded from £22,212 to £17,372.”

The library received an email today where questions concerning the Hubs have been answered. I was under the impression that Hubs would be separate from Tiers 1&2 libraries but they are not. Customers can borrow and return stock anywhere but paid staff can’t deal with charges generated by a Hub but instead hand to refer it to the relevant LDO who is looking after several libraries. The Hubs will be encouraged to follow the same codes and standards but it can’t be enforced. The LDOs will be completely overworked and I can just see this being another fine mess of their own making as customers are told that we can’t deal with fines or overdues that have occurred at Hubs. Much work is also going to be supposedly done by the CSC who through lack of adequate training are pretty hopeless already. It’s yet again LCC not planning and thinking things through and it will most likely be a disaster.” Lincolnshire – Save Lincolnshire Libraries (Email)

  • Shropshire / Telford and Wrekin MP’s Shropshire and Telford council merger idea is given short shrift – Shropshire Star. “Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, says uniting the two authorities would save upwards of £12 million a year, and would answer some of the problems outlined by their senior management who have warned of financial pressures leading to a reduction in services. But Kuldip Sahota, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, was unequivocal in his dismissal of the idea, saying: “We will not be merging with Shropshire Council through the back door, the front door or any other door.”.  Telford and Wrekin says ““We have an economic growth rate almost 50 per cent above the national average, have halved youth unemployment, offer great initiatives such as Telford Loyalty Card and free swimming for over half our population, are keeping all of our libraries open and have opened new ones, are rebuilding or upgrading all of our secondary schools and have huge investment going into our town centres creating hundreds of new jobs, all for one of the lowest council tax levels in the region.”

“The Shropshire Council plan is to relocate our library from it current site at the heart of this communioty to a site on the edge of town and so it becomes part of a school (now an academy) with 600 pupils.  Our main concerns are that even though the school is only about half a mile from the centre of Church Stretton it would be accessed by a route along a busy road with a narrow pavement and a lot of our library users have said they can’t maange that.  Also we are concerned about safeguarding,. Schools normally try very hard to keep members of the public away from the children and do not allow open access.  Do you know of any public libraries that have been relocated in a school and the school library and public library share the same space?  We would like to talk to the school about safeguarding.  TheChurch Stretton plan is very vague but it looks like the public will be told to leave the library at times when the children need access and this clearing out operation will happen even if the users are on the computers.  Our efforts  to get more details have not been successful.” Shropshire – Church Stretton Library Campaign (via email)

  • Southampton – Southampton Council accused of political point scoring over libraries – BookSeller. “Conservative MP Royston Smith has accused Southampton Council of making a “political point at the expense of constituents” by axing five of its libraries. On Tuesday night (18th August), the council approved plans to shut five libraries in the area in a bid to save £286,000 unless community groups came forward to run them. The MP for the Southampton Itchen Constituency, Royston Smith, has accused Southampton Council, run by Labour, of closing the five libraries as a tool to make a “political point at the expense of his constituents,” adding that they could “easily be saved.””
  • Suffolk – Ed Sheeran reaffirms his love of reading as he bumps into library manager in Costa at Copdock – EADT. “Ed was having a coffee with a friend on the edge of Ipswich when Suffolk Libraries general manager Alison Wheeler spotted him – she already knows his mother Imogen who was in Halesworth Library at the same time running a jewellery design workshop. The Thinking Out Loud hit-maker was happy to pose for a selfie with her – and said that reading and visiting his local libraries in Suffolk were very important to him when he was growing up.”
  • Warwickshire – Views can be expressed in Nuneaton library service survey – Nuneaton News. “Throughout September and October, Warwickshire County Council’s Library and Information Service is finding out what people think of how things are run. Public Library User Surveys, known as PLUS, are to be carried out for a week at a time in each of the county’s libraries including the 12 community managed libraries and Nuneaton, Bedworth and Atherstone”