Remote controlled staffless libraries are up for an award, as “Customer project of the year”, in the V3 Technology Awards. This is the Open+ scheme where one can enter the library, in set hours, through security doors, as long as one has a library card and a PIN. The library itself can be open without any staff, paid or otherwise, within it, with security being provided by CCTV, tannoys and the ability to remotely control the computers.  Peterborough love it and argue that, instead of closing libraries, they were able to extend opening hours.  Whether library staff, already feeling a tad bit vulnerable after mass job losses and the sharp increase in the use of volunteers, will feel so welcoming remains to be seen.


National news

  • Peterborough City Council Library Service and Bibliotheca Shortlisted for Customer Project of the Year – Bibliotheca (press release). “Peterborough City Council Library Service and Bibliotheca have been acknowledged in the finals of the V3 Technology Awards 2015 under the Movers and Shakers category. The nomination for Customer Project of the Year is in recognition of the innovative technology partnership that transformed the library service. In response to financial challenges and the desire to improve library access, the Council rolled out open+, Bibliotheca’s ‘open library’ solution that enables libraries to remain open anytime, any day on a self-service basis. open+ enabled the council to save £350k per year and extend opening hours from 261 staffed hours to 387 hours, 238 of which are self-service hours. This equates to a 20% cost saving and almost a 50% increase in availability for Peterborough’s library network.
  • Share the Vision – “Welcome to Share the Vision’s site which aims to provide guidance for frontline library staff, so that they can help visually impaired customers to use library technology. Share the Vision (STV) is a partnership of UK libraries and library organisations that work together to improve the accessibility of library services for print disabled people.  For more information, go to http://www.share-the-vision.org.uk/.”
  • Wales’ poorest children struggle with language, report says – BBC. “The campaign group – made up of charities, libraries, teaching unions and publishing agencies – said one in four children growing up in poverty in Wales leave primary school unable to read well, with the gap beginning in early years. “

International news

        • Australia – Lego lovers unite: Library taps into toy’s popularity to boost literacy, numeracy skills among children – ABC. “Broome Public Library has tapped into the timeless popularity of Lego to encourage creativity and a passion for reading among its youngest members. The obvious appeal of Lego to parents — which has helped maintain its popularity over generations — is the toy’s ability to foster creativity in young minds. But the library’s Build Up Lego Club is also using the bright toy bricks to encourage children to improve their literacy and comprehension. And it is so much fun, the kids do not even know they are learning while playing”
        • Global – Next Library: From global inspiration to local action – Jan Holmquist. “We need to know how people learn, unlearn and relearn – and we need to have our own agenda about how we learn on a global level so we can be one step ahead as information professionals – and be even better to support the learning of our communities … The examples I shared was Buy India a Library where four information professionals (Including yours truly) set up a crowdfunding project to build a library attached to a school in Mysore, India. More than 100 wonderfully generous people from all over the globe supported our effort – so though we (at that time) we enabled people to fund a brand new library …”
        • Global – Why I believe less technology is more’ – The Day. “A recent report from think tank theOECD made pretty grim reading for tech fans. Educational systems around the world that have invested heavily in technology, it said, have seen ‘no noticeable improvement’ in tests for literacy, numeracy and science. The world’s best performing countries, meanwhile, have been ‘very cautious about using technology in their classrooms,’ according to the OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher. What’s going on here? Wasn’t technology supposed to transport schools into a 21st century of learning bliss? Well, kind of. The trouble is, it’s easy to boast about providing 2,000 new tablets or software subscriptions for use in a school – but it’s very difficult to work out what it means to use these devices well”
        • Netherlands – “Community Libraries”: a Dutch Model – Artefacto. “… Occupying a large, window-fronted corner building, its name also situates the space as a “reading room” (“leeszaal”) rather than specifically identifying it as a library. Similar, however, to volunteer-led English efforts, this space also came about via the dual factors of local branch library closures and a neighbourhood community unwilling to allow the local departure of a much-loved public service. Thus, in November 2012, Leeszaal was born.”

“We started the Reading Room after the Rotterdam Library decided to close 18 out of 24 neighbourhood libraries. Their reasoning: people are not coming to the library, they get their info somewhere else, and we need to cut budgets. After protest in our neighbourhood, which didn’t change the decision, we decided another response was necessary, a positive, tangible response, showing in real life what me and Joke – who I met through a mutual friend – [and Leeszaal’s other driving force] always say in our writing: that public meeting spaces are vital for the functioning of a neighbourhood.”

        • USA – Keep the Library, Lose the Books – Atlantic. “Americans love libraries. No, wait, scratch that. Americans love the idea that they love libraries. A new Pew survey published Tuesday finds that while people report feeling strongly about the importance of public libraries in their communities, those people are actually using libraries less and less.”
        • USA – Library explores relationship with homeless – Star News Online. “… staff members have had internal discussions about whether they could be better prepared to help homeless people. Right now, he said, the staff will help people if they ask for something specific, but not take a proactive approach to providing assistance.”
        • USA – Oyster, a Netflix for e-books, to shut down – Fortune. “A spokesperson for the Internet giant confirmed to tech news site Re/Code that some Oyster employees have joined the Google Play division. It’s unclear whether Google has also acquired part of Oyster, although sources told Re/Code that it had, in fact, done so. Earlier in the summer, Google served as a soft landing for about 20 of home cleaning startup Homejoy’s employees when the service shuttered. The tech giant was readying its own home services marketplace at the time.”

Request for materials

        • “I am trying to acquire some second hand library shelving for our small single room library and archive collection, preferably in the form of free standing shelving units, at very little or no cost as the Society of Chemical Industry (for which I work as a volunteer) is currently operating at a deficit. I wonder therefore if you know of any contacts or other possible sources not too far from London that might be disposing of such shelving and/or any glass topped display cases?  I would be grateful for any assistance in this matter.  With thanks,  Julian Perfect. Honorary Librarian SCI, 14/15 Belgrave Square,  London, SW1X 8PS, Tel: 020 7598 1591, Fax: 020 7598 1545, Email: julian.perfect@soci.org, Web: http://www.soci.org/Publications/Library


        • CILIP’s Executive Briefing – Developing a digital strategy for your library: embracing mobile technology ‏- CILIP. “With the opportunity for an anytime, anyplace, anywhere connection to your customers, mobile phones and tablets have revolutionised digital engagement. However, such a fast paced explosion of developments can lead to organisations jumping on the mobile bandwagon and, as a result, deliver poorly planned digital strategies. This CILIP Executive Briefing on 13 October will ensure your organisation makes the right decisions and takes the proper steps when considering mobile devices and takes a strategic approach.”

Local news by authority

        • Hampshire – Warning that the human face of libraries will be lost as Hampshire moves to automate library service – CILIP. ““We are deeply concerned at the news that 74 members of the library profession are to lose their jobs in Hampshire. A library isn’t a supermarket. Library users need support and expertise in an accessible, safe and trusted environment, which is what qualified librarians are trained to provide.  A kiosk can’t deliver a book club or lead a parent and baby group or help people gain access to the online services they need. They can’t welcome a school group, talk to you, offer you kindness, information or support. It is simply wrong to suggest that you can adequately replace a librarian with an automated system and still deliver a quality service”.”
        • Kirklees – Fate of dozens of Kirklees library staff sealed as radical shake up plan approved – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Kirklees Council’s cabinet members have approved the plan to fully control only eight of its current 26 libraries and to vastly slash opening hours.” … “The council will support communities to run a further 16 small libraries with one member of paid staff on hand to advise volunteers. But the axe has come down on two libraries – Thornhill Lees and Lepton – which will close in April 2016. The six-vehicle strong mobile library service will also go as it is not used by many and deemed poor value for money.” … “Council leader, Clr David Sheard, said 478 libraries had already closed across the country, not one of which was in Kirklees.” … “It is hoped that the remaining 16 libraries, largely in small villages or suburbs of Huddersfield, will be run by one council employee backed by community volunteers. Some may have their premises transferred to community ownership.”