Good news today about money for wifi from Arts Council England and there’s also an interesting piece or two on volunteer libraries as well as the normal mix of local, national and international news.  However, I am aware that this is not the whole story. Indeed, I sometimes get people asking me how come Public Libraries News doesn’t cover cuts in their authority, that affected a load of staff and has caused great problems. The answer is that, unless it makes the newspapers, I often don’t know about it. There is a ton of hollowing out going on in the UK that is below the surface and what an anonymous source from Leeds tells us today could be happening in a load of other authorities as well.


National news

  • Amnesty Cilip Honour announced – CILIP. “CILIP and Amnesty International have announced a major new partnership which will commend human rights in children’s literature. The human rights partnership will span both the Carnegie Medal, awarded to the author of an outstanding book for children and the Kate GreenawayMedal, awarded for an outstanding illustrated book for children and young people).”
  • Death to noisy typists! And other rules for working in a modern library – Guardian. “In another sign of just how far and fast Scotland is pulling away from England in all the important measures of civilisation, the University of St Andrews is to start issuing parking ticket-style warning notices to users of its library who leave their belongings on desks and then disappear for hours, leaving workspaces unavailable for those who actually want to – uh – work, which say “These belongings have been left on this table for more than one hour. You are free to use this seat for study.” This is a righteous move, but it does not go far enough. As a user of libraries to work in when my home office walls start to close in, I suggest we also need penalties, ranging from polite notices to death, for the following …”
  • The Library: a new short film on the wonder of libraries – video – Guardian. “Director Jason LaMotte was profoundly affected by his neighbourhood library in Houston Texas – and the magical feeling it carried was the inspiration behind his new film The Library” … “The Library is the story of a 13-year-old girl, Emily ((played by Missy Keating) who rides her bike to the library each day after school. She begins receiving notes slipped to her by a secret admirer, one of the two boys she regularly sees in the library – or so she thinks. These notes correspond to romantic passages in the old books in the library shelves, passages Emily repeats to herself with nervous excitement as each subsequent day brings another note and romantic passage. “
  • Risk Exposures of Volunteer Libraries – Public Libraries News. “Tim Larden is the Managing Director of Ladbrook Insurance, a specialist in working with non-profit groups. He advertises with Public Libraries News and recently met up with me for lunch to discuss volunteer libraries.  One of the things that came up during the conversation was the risks involved: something that of course is quite important to an insurer.  We discussed the issues involved and this blog post from him was suggested.  I think it quite usefully sums up one of the major issues with volunteer libraries and so I am happy to publish it here.”

“If I were taking over a library building from my local authority, the state of the roof would be high on my list of priorities, whether or not I was to be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the buildings.”

  • Volunteer Libraries Minerva Reads. “Let’s take the idea of volunteers (and let me mitigate that by saying I am a volunteer – have been for years as a governor, a fundraiser, event organiser, community news editor and yes, librarian). Recruiting volunteers is hard. Keeping them is harder – the turnover of volunteers is swift – they get bored, find jobs, and move on. They work at times that suit them, they don’t turn up sometimes (maybe they don’t want to volunteer on their birthday – or when it’s snowing). Their timekeeping can’t be controlled any more than their behaviour. Volunteers do exactly which job they want to do …”
  • Wifi in public libraries – Arts Council England. Full list of library authorities which have received wifi funding and for how much. – Arts Council England.  See also Liverpool and Wirral libraries to provide free wifi – Liverpool Echo. “Liverpool council spokesman said: “We’re delighted that we have successfully bid for this funding. “We already have free wifi in Central, West Derby, Childwall and Toxteth libraries, and this funding will enable us to roll it out to the remaining 15 community libraries in the city, including those which are going to be managed by community organisations.”

“I am pleased to be in a position to share the news that Arts Council England has today announced that 68 local authorities across the country are to receive a total of £2,646,078 in funding to provide and enhance free WiFi to library users as part of its WiFi in Public Libraries in England fund. The list of successful applicants is here. The funding will enable over 1,000 libraries to either provide WiFi for the first time, or to upgrade their current provision to make it faster and more easily accessible. The aim is that by March 2016, over 98% of public libraries will be able to provide the most widespread opportunities in the country for people to connect to free, good quality WiFi on their laptops, smartphones and tablets” Brian Ashley, Director, Libraries, Arts Council England.

International News

  • Indonesia – Indonesia to have more IT-based public libraries – Jakarta Post. “Five hundred fifty public libraries in 99 regencies and 451 villages in Indonesia are set to receive information technology (IT) facilities, including computers, training programs, mentoring and assistance, following an additional investment of US$12 million from the program’s initiator.” … “”With IT facilities, public libraries will be able to provide various programs that can help improve people’s lives. We are happy to continue our partnership with the Coca Cola Foundation Indonesia as well as the National Library, Home Ministry, PT Telkom and Microsoft and support the next phase of the program together,”

Local news by authority

  • Cambridgeshire – Cambridgeshire County Council to axe mobile library, cut payments for school crossing patrols, cut bus subsidies, make the elderly pay more for care – but will keep at you to stop smoking – Wisbech Standard. “Withdraw funding from some libraries and seek community assistance to run them this is in addition to reducing opening hours of retained libraries to save £375,000 over two years. Removal of the mobile library service to save £160,000 over two years” see also “Colossal and cruel” county council cuts – libraries, children’s centres and social services at risk – Cambridge News.
  • Cornwall – Report on future of libraries – Cornish Times. “Cornwall Council is faced with making major cuts and has been looking at a number of different ways in which the service could be provided. The council’s communities policy advisory committee will be discussing the report next week and it will also be presented to the council’s Cabinet on November 4. The report summarises the work undertaken so far, following public consultation, on the options for transferring or devolving the operation of individual libraries and one stop shops to town councils or community organisations.”
  • Dorset – Libraries told: ‘Stop buying new books so we can save cash’ – Dorset Echo. “Libraries across Dorset have been told not to purchase any new books until March 2016, although orders for Christmas bestsellers have already been placed. ” … “”The Library Service is being asked to contribute the remaining resources budget to meet this need which works out around 5 per cent, £25,000, of our total resources budget for the financial year 2015/16, £541,000.” … “”There are no known plans to reduce the library book fund in the next financial year, April 2016 –March 2017, at this time.””
  • Isle of Wight – Changes to library service to be considered by leading councillors – On the Wight. “Library users in Cowes, Freshwater and Ventnor will be keeping their fingers crossed tonight as the Executive members consider recommendations on proposed changes to their libraries.” … “Ventnor Town Council, which contains two deprived wards, have said they believe the library should remain staffed by two members of staff. The paper indicates they are willing to commit to the full year running costs of the building from 1 April 2016, but have not allocated budget for making the building fit for purpose. “
  • Isle of Wight – Stark message from Isle of Wight Council over libraries – Isle of Wight County Press. “The authority hopes to run three of its six libraries, Cowes, Freshwater and Ventnor, in partnership with town and parish councils, sharing the responsibility for staffing, costs and buildings maintenance. Should they fail to take on the mantle, however, further cuts could be on the cards. According to a report due to go before the Isle of Wight Council executive tomorrow (Tuesday): “If negotiations with the town and parish councils fail to deliver a partnership-based service by April, 2016, this could result in a considerable reduction of library services in the town or village affected as the council needs to consider alternative forms of delivery and adjust opening hours.””
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Council cobbles together library-lite FAQs in attempt to justify book-ish gyms – Brixton Buzz. “A document has been published for residents, as well as being emailed to all members of the Labour group to make sure that everyone is clear on the local party line. Cllr Jane Edbrooke’s decision to accept the bail out by Greenwich Leisure Ltd has proven to be quite a tough sell – both for residents and internally within the local Labour group. But if anyone wants to understand the stated reasons as to why libraries are closing and yet more gyms are opening, then you can read the carefully worded Lambeth guide over here.” … “Lambeth Council isn’t creating the library-lites to improve people’s health; it is doing this because the ‘Co-operative Council’ likes to worth with large scale organisations like GLL, rather than work with residents who might raise endless pesky questions.”

“Essentially, whilst hours/branches have not been affected (some branches have extended hours), from 1st April 2015 all front line library staff have been moved from the library service to Council Customer Services. They are now ‘hub staff’ rather than library staff. There are no longer any library managers for the branches, they are all managed by area hub managers, who also manage all council customer service staff (who deal with benefits & council tax advice, council housing etc.). The managers have no library experience and in general it has been noticed that they don’t have any regard for libraries, it’s definitely seen as an unimportant ‘add on’ to their main work.

Whilst branch librarians (who cover 3 or 4 branches each) are still employed by the library service, the new structure has massively reduced the amount of support given to library staff. Several staff have reported that they feel the service is actively undermined by the management, and that the aim is to get library staff to feel disassociated from the library service, identifying instead as general customer service assistants (although notably, library staff are still on a very significantly lower pay grade than customer service officers). The Central library is unaffected by these changes and all staff are still part of the library service.

Obviously, this is just a quick overview and there is lots more going on ….  the restructure is such a major change, and so threatening to the library service in many ways, that I think it’s important it is highlighted-this can’t be the only council making these changes, and I think they need some more public scrutiny.” Leeds – email received.  See also Implementation of a restructure to the Leeds Library and Information Service – Leeds Council.

  • Leicestershire – Braunstone Town library: Public meeting called to discuss the future of the library – Leicester Mercury. Library will be replaced by a mobile library if volunteers or local council do not step in.
  • Norfolk – Norfolk County Council abandons £50m worth of cuts – EDP. “possible cuts to services across Norfolk, including mass closures of libraries and fire stations, have been abandoned.” … “Among those proposals abandoned was one which could have seen 27 of Norfolk’s 47 libraries shut to save £1.6m ” see also Protests over proposed cuts to council services in Norfolk – ITV.
  • Reading – Hands off Tilehurst Library say petitioners – Get Reading. “Former councillor Peter Beard handed in a petition to Reading Borough Council on Tuesday, October 20. It had nearly 1,000 signatures which emphasised the value of Tilehurst Library.”.  Council says ““In spite of our aspirations for Reading’s library service, cuts to Government grant funding received by local authorities have undermined the ability of Reading Borough Council to continue to deliver library services in the way we have done in the past.””
  • Worcestershire – Date finally announced for Bromsgrove Library move – Evesham Journal. “The building which is currently housed on Stratford Road, was due to close its doors in the middle of September, and move over to its new home in the multi-million pound Parkside hub, to open at the beginning of October, but Worcestershire County Council put the move on hold at the last minute, citing ‘technical problems’. However the Library’s official Facebook page released an announcement this week to say that the library will be closing the Stratford Road building on Saturday, November 14 at 4pm, and re-opening in its new home on Monday, November 30 at 9am.”