Further on from the pictures of the new Stafford Library last post, I’ve included some pictures of the new Willesden Green Library in this post.  This new library includes iPads, has a lot of light (and, crucially, books) and looks really good. And if I was a publicist , I would stop there.  But, of course, there’s more to either Stafford or to Willesden Green than that.  As readers of Public Libraries News will know, Staffordshire Libraries  is going through a whole ton of cuts elsewhere and Willesden Green is part of the same Brent library service that closed six libraries a few short years ago, both to much protest.  The Friends of Penkridge Library write more on the other side of the news about Stafford below. James Powney, who sent me the pictures from Brent, acknowledges the link to closures in the borough: it was part of a strategy to keep libraries alive on a lower budget.  Both authorities are going through retrenchment, with a concentration of (paid staff) library services in fewer places.  I understand from James that this has resulted in increased usage there: we’ll see what happens to Stafford.

Now to some, I’m sad to say, almost entirely bad news. I’m not sure if it can get much worse for those who care about libraries in Herefordshire. Fresh from wanting to withdraw from all but one its libraries, and using much of the one left, Hereford, for other purposes, the council there has said that that library itself is going to be closed “until further notice” due to asbestos being discovered.  This is going to make it hard for the libraries minister Mr Vaizey to claim that the council there, as is its statutory duty, is providing a “comprehensive and efficient service”, especially if it has not got one open library to its name … but his previous record suggests he’s capable of it. By the way, there’s still no sign of a debate between Mr Vaizey and Alan Gibbons.


Response to pictures of new Stafford Library by the Friends of Penkridge Library

“We have just read your update regarding the opening (or rather, move) or Stafford Library. There is a lot more to this story – not just the location, but the cost, and the fact that there are 23 libraries that are up for tender in the County, dramatic cuts to mobile and travelling libraries, reduced opening hours in the evenings and weekends at many core libraries, and the loss of experienced staff, large amounts of stock and an emphasis on digital books, compounded with non-existent book rotations.

With potential cuts to 50% of the staff, over half the static and mobile services, all for an overall saving of 1.8 million (or 5% of the budget), it seems ironic that a 1 million pound move is deemed the height of sustainability for library services. How many staff could be retained for the price of one 3D printer. Furthermore, it is well known that the previous library building is an historic asset previously earmarked for sale, though this plan was thankfully stopped. Meanwhile, the ‘new’ library is located in retail space created at the base of the new Council buildings, which were never used, poorly prepared, too costly, and eyesore and a financial blight.

This isn’t about keeping the services static, libraries continue to evolve. However, the deliberate stagnation of services throughout the County over recent years, in preparation for this reshaping of the service, is another strategy in the mass closure by stealth. Tomorrow, four libraries in South Staffordshire will be closed in the afternoon – perhaps a few of the pennies for the largely unnecessary move could have been retained to pay staff and ensure our public services remain open? It is also untrue that user numbers have been declining throughout the County, while only 12,000 ebooks are borrowed each year – much less than the 1 million quoted by a Council Cabinet member during the consultation phase.

In short, it would be good to place the piece you have written with the context of the ongoing fight to keep library services throughout the County, staffed by professionals and funded by our tax contributions to this valuable statutory service.”

National news

  • Show me the money…again & again & again – Leon’s Library Blog. “The Cilip AGM is upon us shortly and members are being asked to dig deeply into financially shallow pockets yet again. In a post last year I argued against raising the subscription rate but was in a minority and the increase was passed. Unfortunately, it seems Cilip is determined to treat members as milch cows despite the job losses and limit on public sector pay.”
  • The Safe House: A Decline of Ideas – Trailer for film documentary on the wonder of public libraries and cuts to them.  Including  a lot of celebrity interviews with, e.g., Stephen Fry.
  • Surveillance, freedom, Tor and libraries – Infoism. “Whilst libraries themselves are presented as “neutral” (despite the reality), they are delivered and sustained by political entities. Not only are they sustained by political entities, they are sustained by political entities that are broadly supportive of both the need for surveillance in the traditional sense (ie state) but also, due to the infection of neoliberal dogma, accepting of corporate data collection (corporate surveillance). In fact, considering recent developments, it would appear they are rather keen on using libraries as a mechanism to increase susceptibility to corporate data collection.”
    What are the World Book Day 2016 £1 books? – Guardian. “The new titles for World Book Day 2016 have now been released, featuring a fantastic variety of books by authors ranging from the Queen of Teen, James Dawson, to Roald Dahl and Cbeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell. Best of all, they will still be only £1. There are space adventures, teenage drama – even a flying umbrella features in one book. Whoever you are, you’ll find something to suit you; which is only to be expected from the success that is World Book Day, now in its 19th year and celebrated worldwide.”

International news

  • Australia – Queensland research into loanable wi-fi hotspot devices in libraries – New South Wales Public Libraries Blog. “The State Library of Queensland has recently published a research report into the models in operation for loaning wi-fi hotspots in public libraries. The report Bridging the digital divide: Loanable WiFi Hotspots. (2015) includes existing models of delivery in public libraries in the USA as well as issues to consider when exploring the possibility of implementing a similar service in your library”
  • USA – How Charlotte Mecklenburg Library convinced 13,000 people to come back – Charlotte Agenda. “The library is in the middle of a project to track cardholder behavior and use that information to place programs in the right locations, better advertise services and give people gentle nudges to influence behavior. The end goal is to get more people either in the doors or using the library’s online services. The ultimate goal is to more effectively tackle community issues like third-grade literacy and the digital divide.”
  • USA – Teens at Memphis Public Libraries are on Cloud901 – Memphis Library. “Memphis teens will have a free place to hang out and geek out – unlike any other in the country – starting Wednesday, September 16, 2015, 11 am at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue). #CLOUD901 is an 8,300-square-foot creative production space for teens ages 13 to 18 offering state-of-the-art equipment and programs to develop twenty-first century skills such as collaboration, innovation, creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking.” … “The Lab will house a sound mixing lab and isolation booths, video production lab, Brainstorming Center, Homework Central, technology gallery, Play Café and lounge, lockers, a tool checkout desk, an art studio, projection screen, Dream catcher, Hi-tech Treehouse, performance stage, creation stations, gaming zone, Makerspace, Dream Store, Collaboration Zone, and a loft. CLOUD901 will offer teen library cardholders free access to audio and video equipment, in addition to 3-D printers, X-Boxes, PlayStation 4s, MacBook Pros and Airs, monitors, keyboards, microphones, headsets, and more.”

“New cardholders now get an email welcoming them and a list of services. If you haven’t interacted with the library in three months, you become “occasional” and get an email every month with a service you might be interested in. This is now the library’s free access to Lynda.com tutorial videos. After a year, you go to “inactive” status and begin getting emails saying the library misses you. These alone have brought back 13,000 people so far, Anderson said. Interestingly enough, the library’s found that the No. 1 thing inactive users do first is to actually go into a branch and check out a book.”

  • USA – Where Reference Fits in the Modern Library  – Publisher’s Weekly. “For years, we’ve been hearing that traditional library reference service is dead. In reality, reference just disappeared, like Jimmy Hoffa. But unlike in the case of Hoffa, no one in the library field seems intent on figuring out what happened to reference. In fact, many librarians are intent on carrying on as though little has changed. Sure, librarians are quick to acknowledge that library reference is different in the digital age. But even the innovations in reference service today are predicated on the same, age-old definition of a library reference transaction: people have information needs, and it’s our job to resolve them. And come hell or high water, no matter how desperate we may look, we are going to find people with information needs and, damn it, resolve those needs, because that’s what we librarians do …”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Trio of authors join children’s march for libraries – Barnet and Whetstone Press. “Alan Gibbons, who wrote The Shadow of the Minotaur, performance poet Joshua Seigal and writer Dan Freedman who created the Jamie Johnson series about football will be taking to the streets of Barnet. They will join actress and writer Rebecca Front, who starred in BBC comedy The Thick of It and ITV detective series Lewis as well as ten-year-old bookworm Ralph Vincent. Ralph wrote to Barnet council’s committee which will be discussing the future of libraries at a meeting next month.”
  • Brent – Inside the New Willesden Library Centre – James Powney’s Blog. “The new Willesden Library opened yesterday, and I must say it is even more spectacular than I imagined.  As you can see from my previous post, the exterior still has builders all round it, who will continue working on the housing that pays for the whole project for quite a while to come, but the inside is now functioning as a library.  he library is on three floors with a central light well in the middle.”
Willesden Green Library - lots of space and spot the row of iPads for public use

Willesden Green Library – lots of space and spot the row of iPads for public use

Another picture of Willesden - clean white bookshelves, computers and light

Another picture of Willesden – clean white bookshelves, computers and light


  • Brent – New £10m Willesden Green library and art space opens – BBC. “A new £10m library and community space has opened in north-west London. The Library at Willesden Green in Brent boasts 40,000 books, an art gallery, exhibition area and performance space. Developers Linden Homes re-built the 1980s part of the library, which was deemed “inefficient”, while incorporating elements from its Victorian heritage. The council funded the library by working with developers and selling adjacent land for new homes.”
  • Brent – Willesden Library Opening Yesterday – James Powney’s Blog. “The official opening of The Library at Willesden yesterday was fun.  The BBC reported it here.  They correctly link the new Library at Willesden to the successful court action back in 2011.  This is fair.  Building a new library at Willesden was a natural part of the philosophy behind the whole Libraries Transformation Project.  I get the impression that some of the opponents of the Libraries Transformation still don’t really get that.  I hope that now they can see what a success the new library is, they will learn to love Brent libraries.  “
  • Devon – Formal complaint to Devon County Council – Devon Libraries Consultation Support for Axminster Library / Facebook. Detailed three page complaint focusing on the “the consultation was not conducted in a proper manner”, “unprofessional and incompetent” responses from councillors and officer and Axminster being denied right to have voices heard.
  • Greenwich / GLL – Providing easy online payments for Greenwich Leisure Limited – PanLibus / Capita. “On Saturday, 3rd October, eleven venues run by Lambeth Libraries and Lambeth Archives will open their doors for people to try their hand at the arts and sciences, storytelling and play, exploration and adventure. Novelist, therapist, and radio host Lucy Beresford will be joining us at Clapham Library for a Q&A session, as will the entrepreneur Tara Benson, founder and CEO of Here and Now. Staff from City University will be running zine workshops and library tours exploring the science of serendipity. … “
  • Herefordshire – Asbestos scare closes Hereford library – Hereford Times. “the library and museum on Broad Street will remain closed for 12 weeks for “remedial works and improvements”. ” … “”The building will be closed for an initial twelve-week period, while the remedial works and improvements to the site are conducted. Air samples had showed there were no airborne particles of asbestos, however trace amounts were found on surfaces near the oldest parts of the buildings’ structure”
  • Isle of Wight – If libraries are closed will they ever re-open? – IWCP. “would like to heartily endorse Fred Woodworth’s letter (CP, 27-08-15) about the value of libraries, particularly Ventnor Library. Ventnor Library staff are incredible. They are well trained, always cheerful and friendly, assured and knowledgeable. At one minute they can guide a young reader looking for a new book, at the next they can do the same for an elderly person, then help someone with the computer, advise on local history research, or run a Rhyme Time session for pre-school children. They need a good knowledge of the library computer system for reserving books etc. All that expertise is belittled by the current proposal to replace them with volunteers.”
  • Lambeth – All Your Base Are Belong To Us: Lambeth Library Fun Palaces – Matthew Finch.
  • Lincolnshire – Fears for the future of Grantham Library – Grantham Journal. “A county councillor says there is concern over its future because not only might Morrisons be considering selling that part of the Isaac Newton Shopping Centre, but the running of library services is also out to tender. Coun Charmaine Morgan, who represents Grantham South, says she fears for local library services if a relocation of the library is on the cards.”
  • Poole – Poole’s mobile library service to go – Blackmore Vale Magazine. Council argues that volunteer libraries will be better than the mobile library service.
  • Shetland Islands – New van arrives for mobile library service – Shetland Times. “new van for Shetland Library was officially revealed today and will take to the road on Monday. The van, bigger and better than the 10-year-old one it is replacing, will be on the North Mainland and North Isles run. Executive manager of the library service Karen Fraser said it was a “super” vehicle, with an easily accessible entrance, more windows, more battery power for the computer and a heater.”
  • Shropshire – ‘Save our libraries’ – call to arms from Shropshire campaigners – Shropshire Star. “Shropshire Libraries Yes Campaign branded plans to “offload” libraries to volunteers as “totally inadequate”. Members of the group say they want to challenge Shropshire Council to come up with a solution that will ensure facilities remain for future generations. They have called a public meeting to rally support and have demanded talks to find a solution to the crisis.”
  • Southampton – Campaigners stage protest at Southampton Civic Centre – Southern Daily Echo, “A group demonstrated ahead of the city council overview and scrutiny committee meeting to raise awareness of a variety of causes including the NHS and library provision in Southampton. “
  • Southampton – Seven organisations have stepped forward eager to run six under-threat Southampton libraries – Southern Daily Echo. “Southampton City Council cabinet member for leisure Councillor Satvir Kaur confirmed the groups have enquired about the running of five libraries and a mobile library … But she was unable to disclose the organisations names because talks were still in a confidential stage. ” … “Plans were approved by Labour civic chiefs to stop running all of the facilities, with community groups invited to take the five buildings on. It has proven controversial with opponents fearing groups will not be able to realistically run libraries forcing their closure.”
  • Surrey – Sad farewell to Lingfield’s librarians – East Grinstead Courier. “Manager Jane Rayner, who has been with the library for 11 years, and assistant manager Sue Sharp, who had worked there for 23 years, were celebrated at a leaving party in the parish church on Thursday, August 27. About 140 people attended the farewell bash for the former Surrey County Council (SCC) library employees. Among those present were residents, library users and members of the parish council. Members of the library services at the council were not invited. The two librarians were offered redundancy packages from SCC after they turned down their offer of working in a new county-wide restructure of libraries.”.  Trustee says “”Each day we don’t know who will be coming in to manage the library, but we do know it won’t be the same face every day. It’s very sad.”

“Under the new structure, Surrey’s librarians will travel to work at different libraries across the county on a rota-based system. Jane lives in Lincolns Mead, which is within walking distance of the Vicarage Road library, part of the village’s historic Guest House. She said she was overwhelmed by the turnout on August 27 – but said it wasn’t her choice to leave.”

  • Waltham Forest – History: The Leytonstone Library that became ‘a symbol of freedom and democracy’ in war propaganda – Guardian series. “As a library re-opens after a £1.5 million refurbishment reporter Barnaby Davis looks back at the history of the prominent site described as a ‘symbol for freedom and democracy’ in Second World War propaganda. ” … “During the Second World War, in which the building was only slightly damaged, The British Ministry of Information commissioned a series of photographs of the library to be used in illustrated foreign-language magazines and used as cultural propaganda. People were shown browsing through the vast collections of English history, literature and critical essays as a sign of the freedoms on offer in the Allied countries.” … “The new modernised library will hold 19,000 books, the same amount as it did before, whilst still offering flexible space to use including a theatre hall, upgraded ICT facilities, faster Wi-Fi, and dedicated sections for adults, teens and children. It will host a grand opening ceremony on Sunday (September 13).”
  • Waltham Forest – Leytonstone Library is open – Eventbrite. “Explore and celebrate with us at the reopening of our newly refurbished library! Enjoy 15 min flash performances outside the new library entrance Then delve inside to discover the new spaces as you race against time finding clues and completing an interactive trail through the building. Plus enjoy performances, workshops and our giant ribbon cutting ceremony”