There’s several different levels of awareness out there for library staff. There are some, perhaps many, who are only really aware of what goes on in their own branch and what happens elsewhere is sometimes vague and distant rumour.  These staff often care deeply for their communities and provide excellent service but, when change does happen (either good in ways of best practice or not so good in terms of budget cuts) it sometimes comes as a shock. Then there are those who are very good at knowing what is going on in their authority but not so much elsewhere: there’s a danger of “not invented here” in this case or, equally as bad, a “the grass is always greener” mentality about this.

Then there are those who know what’s going on nationally: if you read Public Libraries News then, congratulations, you’re probably at least at this stage. You’re aware, for good or ill, of roughly what’s going on (and most of this is from media reports so there’s always the danger of it being distorted) and can evaluate your own library service a bit by seeing what is going on elsewhere. Then there’s those aware of the international level. There’s not many of those and it’s actually quite hard to find out about it unless you are very big on social media (I can recommend a few tweeter and FB groups if you like: let me know). I’m aware of how difficult it is to get a good view just by going online: most of the stuff I see is US dominated simply because it’s so big and, well, they speak English there.  So I’m pleased to see so much from other countries in this post (it just happened that way) because there’s a lot going on out there and I feel we sometimes suffer because we don’t know enough about it and it can be very useful for us to see how well our national  library service is doing compared to others.

Send you news, views, corrections and comments to ianlibrarian@live.co.uk


National news

  • All-Wales library card launches – BookSeller. “Following the comments of Kathy Settle, the chief executive of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce, who argued for the need to “break the negative narrative” around the discussion of libraries, former Waterstones boss and library campaigner, Tim Coates said the all-Wales library card move is the beginning of the creation of a “positive narrative”. He said: “By working together, Welsh libraries could respond to pressure to reduce budgets and still improve service.””
  • Business Support in Public Libraries – Referisg. “Ten projects were awarded an equal share of the £450,000 fund, and we were thrilled to discover that Haringey Libraries had been successful. Each project supported business in a variety of imaginative ways – for example the project Devon Libraries involved the first “Fab Lab” (fablabdevon.org) to open in a UK public library – a low-cost digital workshop equipped with laser cutters, 3D printers and scanners, where “just about anybody can make just about anything”. The bid from Cultural Community Solutions involved the creation of the London Business Portal website (www.londonbusinessportal.com) which brings the business resources of Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow library authorities together in one place.”
  • Edinburgh Central Library – Intelligent Design Awards. Edinburgh Central Library is a finalist in the Intelligent Design category of the SBID International Design Excellence Awards 2015: some nice pictures and explanation.  Vote for the library before 18th September.
  • Emerging trends and the implications for libraries – CILIP / Arup. “Given the diverse geographies and library types contributing to this exercise, it will be no surprise to learn that we will experience many different “futures”. There is no “one size fits all” utopia forecast! What might be hugely relevant to one type of library, sector or location, will be of little interest to another. This is why Arup University took the research and outputs from the workshops and identified twenty one emerging trends that will shape public, academic and corporate libraries in the medium to long term. Some will have greater resonance with you than others. “These trends were then grouped into four broader clusters:

Seamless Learning Experience – facilitating life-long learning by delivering services that fit the lifestyle of the communities they serve

Hubs for Community Wellbeing – engaging with local communities and ensuring egalitarian connection to information

Participatory Knowledge Preservation – ensuring rights of access to, and preservation of, physical and digital content

Enabling Collaboration and Decision Making – providing spaces where meaningful interactions can take place, information can be accessed and new knowledge created”

  • Investing in the UK Knowledge Economy – CILIP Spending Review 2015 – CILIP. “In this blog post, CILIP Chief Executive Nick Poole sets out the main themes and recommendations in ‘Investing in the UK Knowledge Economy’, CILIP’s representation to HM Treasury’s Spending Review 2015 which promotes the role of libraries, research, information management and information literacy as the basis of future economic growth.”
  • One-off evidence session with Secretary of State  – Gov.uk. “The Culture, Media and Sport Committee holds a one-off oral evidence session with Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Sue Owen, Permanent Secretary, Department of Culture, Media and Sport.” [Libraries not mentioned – Ed.]


“People have been brilliant, and a lot are coming over with their cars full of things, including books,” Jones told the Guardian. She added: “The library is so small, and also the types of books people are looking for are not necessarily the ones people are sending.” She stressed that the library was most in need of books in refugees’ native languages. With publishers such as Verso Books also contributing, Jungle Books now had “books from floor to ceiling”

  •  Myanmar – Two Librarians at the Center of Flood Relief Efforts in Myanmar – Beyond Access. “Beyond Access champions the concept of a modern library. A modern library leverages technology and trained staff to make information a dynamic asset. The value of a modern library is amplified in the wake of a crisis. Here is the story of how two librarians in Myanmar are providing modern library services to communities affected by the floods. Their stories are representative of how Myanmar’s library community has risen to the challenge.”
  • Romania – Romanian city offers free rides to people reading on the bus – Independent. “Those who can’t resist reading a good book on public transport have been rewarded by a city in Romania, which offered a free bus ride to anyone who read a book during their journey.”
  • South Africa – North West’s loo-less library of shame – IOL. “Less than five years after it was opened, the North West’s state-of-the-art R3.2 million Lebaleng Community Library outside Wolmaransstad has few working computers and no functioning toilets. The library was meant to enable access to books and the internet for residents of the small communities of Lebaleng and Makwassie, about 15km south of Wolmaransstad. Once valued at R3.2 million, the library has now fallen into a shock state of disrepairs and is filled with the odour of faeces. When librarians need to use the toilet, they have to ask patrons to leave the library before locking it to use toilets in neighbouring houses.”
  • Sweden – Don’t judge a library only by its books…– Emerald. “The main focus for public libraries today is often the development of digital collections and services in line with advances in technology. For this reason, it can be easy to overlook the importance of other services public libraries can offer to the local community in the form of non-traditional, physical collections, and the role they fulfil. The research article ‘Non-traditional library collections – in digital and other worlds’ from Emerald’s Interlending &Document Supply asks why public libraries sometimes choose to offer physical objects that are not part of their traditional collections, and how the inclusion of these items is justified in terms of the wider objectives and goals of the library. For the study, Katarina Michnik and Catarina Eriksson from The Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås, Sweden conducted a web survey with public library managers in all Swedish municipalities. The survey established which non-traditional items were available for loan and also their reasons for inclusion in their library, from improving the health and fitness of the community to promoting an environmentally sustainable society. Emerald has produced a dedicated web page summarising the findings of the study alongside and related research articles. Complimentary access to the original article, ‘Non-traditional library collections – in digital and other worlds, is available until the end of September 2015.
  • USA – Why We Need Diverse Libraries – Book Riot. “Public librarians need to do better with race.” … “When I recently read about the Napa Valley Wine Train that apologized for wrongfully escorting a book club of 11 black women off the train for being “too boisterous” (i.e. #laughingwhileblack), my first thought was of how many times I’ve seen the same thing happen in public libraries — I’ve witnessed many similar microaggressions against people of color throughout my time in libraries.”


  • Nominations open for Local Studies Librarian of the yearLocal Studies Group Blog. “Do you know a Local Studies Librarian that has gone the extra mile? Have they pioneered an amazing project or given a career of excellent service to their community? If you do, nominate them for the 2015 McCulla Prize, the annual Local Studies Librarian of the Year Award. We welcome nominations from colleagues, local historians, family historians and anyone who knows a local studies professional who has made a difference. To nominate, please complete form below. Any questions? Please contact Alice Lock via alicelocalstudies@outlook.com Nominations close on 30th October 2015.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – The Thick of It star launches march against cuts threatening Barnet’s libraries with closure – Ham and High. “The Thick of It actress Rebecca Front is to join a march against £2.85million of cuts threatening the closure of Barnet’s libraries.” … “Ms Front united with a 10-year-old Barnet pupil and literacy campaigner to launch the Children’s March for Libraries on Thursday at East Finchley Library – one of several which could close. The BAFTA-award winning actress, who played MP Nicola Murray on the satirical TV show, said she was inspired to take part in the protest after visiting a Barnet library for the first time a few months ago. She said: “It was buzzing with readers, Internet users, kids doing homework assignments. This is important stuff. Not everyone can afford to buy books. Not everyone has a quiet space in their home to work. Libraries are a triumphant symbol of democracy.””
  • Barnet – The Kids4Libraries march – Barnet Unison / YouTube.
  • Barnet – Special committee meeting to discuss future of Barnet’s libraries – Times Series. “The issue was due to go to a meeting of the children, education, libraries and safeguarding committee (CELS) on Monday, September 21 at Hendon Town Hall. But the council has now scheduled a special meeting for the committee on Monday, October 12 in order to “give the proposals the full consideration they deserve”. “
  • Buckinghamshire – Friends of Burnham Library Arts Festival 2015 – Friends of Burnham Library. “The Programme of events ranges from participating in four competitions, with cash prizes, in poetry, short story writing, photography, and painting, having a go at arts you have never tried before, or attending one of the exciting entertainment events.”

“We are organising this to showcase the facilities and activities in the Library and to raise some cash to enable us to continue to support the professional staff.  Bucks are about to go into a further consultation about the future of Libraries and we want to do our best to show them that we have a major community hub which is too big and too important to run without professional staff and at the same time show that the place is valued and used extensively.  The staff are fabulous in their support for us as well!

We are able now to convert the main body of the Library into a theatre seating around 100, in about 30 minutes, and have it back as a public library in a similar time.  We have just bought a mobile stage to allow us to do it, and as well we can cater for the events as we have a Library Kitchen. We now have a good working relationship with the playwrights in the Slough Writers Group, who were looking for a venue to perform the plays they write, which we are able to provide at no cost to them and we get to offer financially viable plays to the public, as well as other cultural events.” Andrew Strathdee, Chair of Friends of Burnham Library (by email)

  • Devon – Library access triples following move into Ashburton post office – Borders. “Devon County Council has been working with the Friends of Ashburton Library group (FOAL) to help secure the future of not only the town’s library, but also the local Post Office by housing them both under one roof. Last month dreams became a reality when the new community library opened its doors for the first time in its new home in the Post Office’s refurbished sorting room. The move means residents will have greater access to the library service with the introduction of a new self-service machine allowing people to take out and return books anytime during the Post Office’s opening hours, which are 8.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Saturday.” … “Ashburton is one of twelve communities to have been chosen by Devon County Council to take part in the innovative ‘community pilot project’ to try out new ways of involving local people so they can have more say on how their library is run”
  • Devon – New chapter for libraries in call boxes and clubs – Times (behind paywall). “Jackie Fisher-Greene can take her daughter Isabelle, three, to the public library in Plympton, Devon, five miles away, or walk to the old call box in the village of Wotter, where they can choose from more than 100 books. Libraries are making a comeback. In the same way that television did not diminish demand for cinema, it seems that ebooks have not dented our appreciation of paper and ink. Sales of books have fallen since the advent of ereaders, with 23 per cent fewer sold last year than in 2009, but book sharing is growing. The demise of libraries may … “
  • Harrow – North Harrow Community Library Newsletter – “We need to build a large pool of volunteers,  to run the library. As part of the agreement the council will give £14,000 to kick start this project. However, the cost of running the library for a year will be £24,000. This leaves a shortfall of £10,000. Please support us finan-cially by becoming a supporter of the North Harrow Community Library. To become a Supporter…”
  • Manchester – Review: Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, Manchester Central Library – Northern Soul. “On Sunday, Central Library, that stupendous rotunda in the heart of the city, played host to a special transmission of Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour. It was the duality of a show about drummers in a library that I loved the most. And this is a library which has a well-known echo chamber – the central circular reading room – and makes the least amount of sound resonate as if you are in the bottom of a big bass drum. But the show was being recorded in the new performance space on the entrance floor. Over two hours, Garvey was joined by 6 Music presenter and Radiohead drummer Phil Selway, New Order drummer Stephen Morris, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, and the brilliant Heartless Bastards performed a live set.”

“At the beginning of his live broadcast from Manchester’s Central Library for BBC 6 Music, Elbow’s Guy Garvey told a story about walking past the building with his Grandad. “Every book in there belongs to you,” Garvey senior said to the young lad. “Make sure they keep it that way.””

  • Wiltshire – New chapter for Wiltshire Council’s mobile library service – Swindon Advertiser. “There were nearly 900 responses to an 11-week consultation carried out to ensure people are still able to access a library service in the county. ” Council says “I’m delighted we have been able to work with local people to ensure the most well used stops are being retained, however significant pressures on our budget mean we cannot continue operating the service in its current format and the very limited changes being introduced will save the council over £100, 000. ” … “From October 26, there will be two public mobile libraries operating in Wiltshire, one each in north and south Wiltshire. ” … “Of the 870 responses from current mobile library customers, parish and town councils, 94 per cent of those who responded said they would continue to use the mobile library service with the changed frequency. “