Bad news in Barnet as major cuts are announced, although library opening hours will actually be increased due to using Open+ self-service remote-control technology.  Lambeth also announced major cuts but, again with far fewer closures than expected, due to GLL taking over some libraries as “healthy living centres”.  This adds another borough arrow to GLL’s quiver as it already runs libraries in Greenwich and Wandsworth.  Both Barnet and Lambeth represent challenges to the traditional view of libraries as, in both, considerable numbers of library staff will lose their jobs but the councils can claim, with a clear enough conscience to appear to the media with, that they have maintained a library service.  Meanwhile I am receiving via email and Twitter heart-rending stories of library staff losing their jobs and the impact it will have, in reality, on the service that councils provide.

I am also including today a feature about a storyteller and what he does for libraries and literacy.  This is the sort of project that Arts Council England, amongst others, support (although I don’t know if they have done so in this case) and shows the power of outreach and not being limited  to the buildings themselves.



Richard O’Neil got in touch a few days ago. He’s a storyteller that uses his skills to promote libraries outside of the library.  He’s delivered storytelling from a market stall outside of Chorlton library as part of their festival in November last year.  He wasn’t sure if a storytelling market stall would work, but it proved a great attraction and led him to creating a brand new piece for telling in another Manchester library the same week.

“at the last festival in 2014 throughout the day we worked with over 200 people on the day, that was a mixture of people listening to my stories and also working on traditional wooden crafts … I think the stall works really well because come to have a look at me making these crafts and many of the older people remember then and are keen to tell their own stories about those times and also for their children and grandchildren to experience listening to a traditional story. What I was most pleased about was that it attracted a wide ranging audience, cross cultural and cross generational. The feedback has been so positive from people that we are back again this year.” Richard O’Neill

Later this year, he’s doing “Positive Pirates”.

“I’d worked with Richard before as part of the Rochdale Literature and Ideas Festival. So when we hit on the theme of pirates for the family events I knew Richard would be an asset in getting our message across. From the first phone call we knew we wanted our pirates less traditional and far more positive – doing good in the community, so Positive Pirates were born. Positive Pirates don’t fire cannonballs at their enemies they throw battlechips [A chip shaped like a boat so you can add ketchup, gravy or curry sauce to it for intense flavour]! Not good for the waistline but very good for the environment. With characters forming in our minds like Captain Ketchup and Bosun Brownsauce we got quite carried away with the idea. Would Positive Pirates help little old ladies across the road or rescue kittens from trees? Of course they would! Sailing down the canal on a giant clog, fashioned by a local artisan clog maker, they want to do good in the world! Through Matthew Moss High School and their feeder primary schools we are spreading the Positive Pirate message and to launch the Festival on 23rd October, the pupils will perform their own Positive Pirate Pieces in The Hollingworth Suite, Number One Riverside” Ray Stearn, Rochdale Libraries

xt year, he hopes to create something even bigger and more interactive for libraries, based on stories about a toad who finds sanctuary in a library. The idea is to create a picture book of the story and make it available to every library in Greater Manchester free of charge. He was working in Hackney just before the summer holidays and was inspired by their library service to think about creating a special performance of his best loved stories and some new ones that could be live streamed around the other libraries in the area.

“The live streaming is an idea I’ve had for a while, every time I perform in a library (which are always great spaces) children and teachers are amazed at the impact and the increased desire to read. I think my high energy story performances bridge the gap/gulf between video games TV and books. So to have a performance filmed and played to other libraries or even schools would I think have a very positive impact on literacy in schools.” Richard O’Neill

Richard O'Neil at ChorltonFest 2014

Richard O’Neill at ChorltonFest 2014

National news

  • Big day for library systems communications – Mick Fortune. “Today sees the official launch of the Library Communication Framework (LCF). Originally conceived as a replacement for 3M’s Standard Interchange Protocol (SIP) the framework has been several years in the making and has, through the active involvement of both suppliers and librarians working together, grown from a simple updating of protocols for running RFID self-service into a significant contribution to interoperability across a range of products and services.”

“”That CILIP actively oppose those public authorities and work with senior library staff over the “amateurisation” of the Public Library service by offering library buildings and contents to be run by the local community with little or no funding for professional or paid library staff.” CILIP motion approved at AGM [I published the unamended one in a previous post – Ed.]

  • Gordian Knot – Leon’s Library Blog. “it’s become the norm to the extent that Lincolnshire Council can boast that “Volunteers are now at the heart of Lincolnshire’s library service, giving communities a chance to do things their own way.” So we finally have a local authority that regards volunteers and not paid staff to be central to its library service. ” … “while volunteer libraries are not necessarily the answer they do seem to the model favoured by many local authorities faced with an ever decreasing settlement from central government. ” … “until a solution is found, and hopefully found quickly, then before too long it really will be volunteers rather than library staff and qualified librarians that will be at the heart of the service. To the detriment of all.”
  • School library cuts should be stamped out – Herald Scotland. “The pressure on council finances is a given, much discussed in these pages. It is clear local authorities are facing difficult choices and no cut is an easy one. But it is hard to imagine a more damaging move than Argyll and Bute Council’s proposal to make all of its school librarians redundant over the next three years. “
  • Shami Chakrabarti to deliver The Reading Agency Lecture 2015 – Reading Agency. “Following in the footsteps of internationally renowned authors Jeanette Winterson, Neil Gaiman and comedian Russell Brand, Shami Chakrabarti will deliver a lecture on what reading means to her in her private and professional life. Shami will talk about reading in the context of human rights as a “call to empathy” and delve into how it plays a role not just in enabling choice and action but also in helping us to understand the perspectives of others. “
  • Transforming libraries into theatres: Librarian Theatre launches crowdfunding campaign – “the company has just launched a crowdfunding campaign (1) to raise almost six thousand pounds towards a new adaptation of Hamlet called “The Book’s the Thing” … “The show will make its initial UK tour in Spring 2016, culminating in a special gala performance in Bristol’s stunning Central Library on 23 April, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. A fast-paced 90 minute play with a cast of three, newly adapted from the original Shakespeare by Tom and Kelly, “The Book’s the Thing” will make a great introduction to Elizabethan text – and seasoned Shakespeare fans will love this refreshing take on a classic too.” … “Shirley Everall, Development Manager for Hertfordshire Libraries, has championed the project from an early stage: “We’re trying to show libraries as a vibrant community space that’s safe for people to come to” she said.”  See The Book’s the Thing – Welcome to Hamlet’s Library – KickStarter. 

International news

  • Canada – Calgary’s new Central Library gets big boost from city philanthropist – Calgary Sun. “Buck by buck (a million of ‘em) and brick by brick (100,000 of ‘em), Calgary’s new Central Library has solid foundation of support being built under it. As it should be, Mike Shaikh said Saturday of he and his wife Linda’s million-dollar donation to the Calgary Public Library Foundation. “My family believes we must give back — and we also believe that education is a fundamental ingredient for a successful and prosperous nation,” he said.”

“Libraries are igniters of human potential. Libraries provide great opportunities for learning. Libraries are great equalizers.” Mike Shaikh after donating $1 million to library.

  • Japan – In Japan, a Gorgeous Library Leads to Garbage Books – Publishing Perspectives. “When Tsutaya Bookstores partnered with the City of Takeo Library, the result was a stunning building that the librarians only enough money to stock it with cast off books.” … “Takao’s mishap could have been avoided with more transparency and oversight, Igaya points out. “We shouldn’t deny the libraries ways to bring economic boost, as long as the libraries don’t lose sight of their mission as a public service provider. Perhaps it’s time that we reevaluate how a public library should operate, including searching new paths for fundraising.””

    USA – Dublin’s OCLC prints last library catalog card – Columbus Dispatch. “About a dozen people gathered in a basement workroom to watch as a machine printed the final sheets of library catalog cards to be made by Dublin-based OCLC. The final tally: 1.9 billion cards. OCLC long ago shifted its emphasis to online records and services, even changing its name from the Ohio College Library Center to the Online Computer Library Center. The company is known today by its initials.”
  • USA – Libraries are centers of our communities – Observer-Reporter. “most have managed to stay open and in some cases to grow. They have done so by redefining their purpose. The latest evidence of this is in Bentleyville, where the public library has chosen an architect to oversee construction of a $1.6 million expansion project. The enlarged building will be known as the Bentleyville Community Center and will house the local historical society, senior center, Meals on Wheels program and an expanded library. The key words here are “community center.” The library is no longer just a place to read and borrow books on paper. It is a collection of information resources, a computer lab, a meeting place, a lecture hall, an art gallery and a classroom. And many other things.”

Conferences /Events

  • Raymond Williams Foundation launch event for Sylvia Pankhurst Library – 18th-19th October, Sheffield. “Key-note lecture: The Future of Reading and Public Libraries by Laura Swaffield, Chair of The Library Campaign” … “Seminar Circle discussions on the issues, including a seminar led by Alice Corble (Goldsmith’s)on RW’s Library Association article (1966) on The Library’s Relation to Its Community”
Local news by authority
  • Barnet – Guest Blog – What all Barnet Tory Councillors should realise about libraries – By Barnet Librarian  – Barnet Eye. “. Any librarians left on the frontline in Barnet Libraries are there incidentally. Barnet stripped it’s frontline teams of professional librarians nearly 3 years ago, reducing a team of 26 adults and children’s specialists down to 6, now based at NLBP planning and developing the service. What you encounter now are dedicated, skilled and experienced para professional staff helping you on a daily basis. That was the beginning of the deprofessionalising and attempted destruction of our library service.” … Description of excellent service provided by libraries to all … “Could this be delivered without a librarian team, procuring the systems, successfully bidding for funding, training frontline staff to deliver? I doubt it.”
  • Barnet – New proposals to maintain 14 libraries in Barnet – Barnet Council. “Revised proposals that would see 14 library sites in Barnet maintained are due to be discussed at a special meeting of the Children Education Libraries and Safeguarding Committee on 12 October. The report takes into account 3,800 responses received during extensive consultation with residents and organisations on a range of issues and options for the library service.” … “The revised libraries proposals are expected to save £2.27 million by 2020.” … “Increased opening hours at 10 sites through the use of new technology, as recently trialled through the Open+™ pilot at Edgware Library” … “Volunteering opportunities for individuals and community groups to help run their local library. Increased income generated through greater commercial usage of library buildings to off-set the level of budget reductions.”
  • Barnet – Libraries to remain open but 46% of staff face axe under proposals – Times series. “46 per cent of library staff will be axed, from 114 to 62 full time library workers, and space will be let out for commercial and community use to raise money. “
  • Barnet – Proposed decimation of Barnet Libraries – Update – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “46% of workforce to be sacked. Redundancy payments will cost £1.5 million”… “Council are now proposing to cut the 634.5 staffed library hours a week to 188 … Under the proposal Libraries will initially be required to open for only 15 hours a week, with or without staff”
“The Library Proposal is to cut Library costs by £2.85million by 2019/20. The present budget is £4.5 million. Phase one of planning for and changing the library service has been estimated at £399,300. Phase Two will cost £750, 000. It is estimated that “reconfiguring libraries to release space” will cost £2 million. The cost in introducing technology that allows unstaffed opening will cost £2.41 million, This means that at least £6,560,300 will be spent implementing changes to the Library Service  with the rationale of saving £2.850,000” Alan Wylie
  • Barnet – Save Barnet Libraries Lobby, 12/10/15, 7pm at Hendon Town Hall – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “.. join us at Hendon Town Hall at 7pm on 12 October for the Council Meeting where the final proposals for our service will be announced. Maybe you signed the petition”
  • Cornwall – Bodmin library expected to move to town outskirts – Cornish Guardian. “It is understood the Chy Trevail building at Beacon Technology Park is the preferred choice of the local authority’s library service as it looks to slash £1.8 million from its budget – 44 per cent of its allocation. Bodmin Registration Office has already moved there and the ceremony room for marriages and civil partnerships will be relocated to the complex at the end of November. Cornwall Council is pressing ahead in its attempts to offload libraries to town and parish councils to run, but that is now unlikely to be the case in Bodmin.”
  • Fife – Pupils go direct to First Minister in bid to save Crail library from closure – Courier. “Crail Library is one of 16 libraries facing the axe in Fife to save money, but youngsters at the local school have joined a fight to save it. Pupils from Crail Primary School wrote letters for the First Minister and Fife Council, telling them how much they enjoy class visits to the library and the summer reading challenge, and voicing concerns for elderly people who rely on the service. They also drew posters to support the campaign being waged in the East Neuk village by the local community council against the proposed closure.” … “The trust said closing Crail Library would save £9,573 a year, but the community council said its own analysis of the figures showed a more realistic annual saving of only £1,565.”
  • Gateshead – New home found for Gateshead library after council slashed its opening hours by a third – Chronicle Live. “community library is set to move into a Gateshead school in a bid to help a cash strapped council. Gateshead Council’s cabinet will hear details of plans to move Chopwell Library into the Children’s Centre based at Chopwell Primary School, at its meeting on Tuesday. The library will move into an existing children’s centre at the school but it would cost the authority £129,250 to adapt the space and create a new library area. Despite being housed at a school both the children’s centre and library would have separate entrances.”
  • Herefordshire – Residents rally together in bid to save Herefordshire’s libraries – Ledbury Reporter. “Petitions against the earmarked closures of three county libraries have generated more than 8,000 signatures. More than 3,500 signatures were collected by the Friends of Leominster Library in response to the current budget consultation being held by Herefordshire Council which has stated Belmont, Leominster and Ross libraries may be withdrawn.”
  • Lambeth – Cuts to library services – the conversation any Labour administration wishes they didn’t have to have – Lambeth Labour. “The reality is you can’t take as much as £200m out of our budget without reducing services – and because most of our budget goes on paying staff to do valued jobs, from social workers and carers to gardeners and librarians, we can’t shy away from the reality that this means people will lose their jobs.  Already Lambeth Council has a 1000 fewer employees than in 2010. So, as a result of our current financial situation, the budget for cultural services, which funds our libraries, parks and open spaces, sports and the arts, will be reduced from £10.4m in 2014 to £6.5m by 2018. That means we simply cannot duck tough decisions about the future of our library service.”

“No Labour Councillor came into politics to choose between care packages for the elderly or reducing library provision.  We believe in excellent public services.  This is getting harder and harder as the Tories target cuts at the poorest boroughs.  Don’t forget that some places in much richer areas have seen an increase in local government funding.  These cuts are ideological and hurt the most vulnerable.”

  • Lambeth – Lambeth  axes 50% of public libraries in ‘deeply cynical’ move – Inside Croydon. “Lambeth Council has announced that it is to close five of the borough’s 10 public libraries as a consequence of the cuts in grants from central government. The Labour council’s proposals have been criticised as a “postcode lottery” for the borough’s residents.”… “A spokesman for the Save the Upper Norwood Library Campaign described Lambeth’s move towards volunteerism as “deeply cynical”.” … “The Oasis Trust – another arm of the Christian organisation which runs the academy schools – will take on the running of a “community library” in Waterloo.” see also Lambeth puts forwards its plans for the borough libraries – South London Press.
  • Lambeth – Lambeth libraries to double up as gyms – Brixton Blog. “In proposals revealed on Friday, Lambeth Council announced its intention to keep Brixton’s Minet Library, along with the Carniege Library and Tate South Library, open by turning them into health centres as well as libraries. ” … “During the public consultation Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), the social enterprise company that runs Lambeth’s leisure centres proposed the creation of  an independent, not-for-profit Lambeth Cultural Trust, starting with three trial sites. The changes will be discussed at a Lambeth Cabinet Meeting on 12 October.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth puts forwards its plans for the borough libraries – South London Press. “Lambeth Council has put forward its plans to increase the range of services offered by Lambeth’s libraries in order to keep them open under huge budget pressures. It says following feedback during Lambeth Council’s Culture 2020 consultation, new plans have been developed that could see library buildings open for longer and offer wider benefits to the local community including health and fitness services as well as study space, IT access and book lending.”
  • Lambeth – U-turn from Lambeth Council as three libraries now recommended to become mini-me leisure centres – Brixton Buzz. “Rather than sell off the Minet and stop funding for three others, Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) is now stepping in to set up ‘healthy living centres’ in three locations. Waterloo Library will still be flogged off. The planned endowment fund idea to pass on library management to residents has been abandoned. Job losses are expected for 25% of the workforce.” … “There will be no change to Brixton, Clapham and Streatham libraries. Upper Norwood Library will become a ‘resident led community hub’ – whatever that might mean.” … “These are the recommendations that the Cabinet at Lambeth Council will rubber stamp when it next meets on 12 October” … “The ‘healthy living centres’ will now become fitness spaces, with a self-service library and no permanent staff.” … “Lambeth Council will gift GLL a peppercorn rent for 25 years for each of the three previous library buildings.”.  Libraries then may become a Trust under separate control. Tate South to become a “leisure hub”. Durning Library may move to other location.
  • Lambeth – Waterloo Library will close within six months under Lambeth plans – SE1. “The council says that Waterloo Library will close by April 2016, but it intends to work with the Oasis charity to set up a “neighbourhood library service” as part of the Oasis Centre on Kennington Road from May next year.” see also Lambeth puts forwards its plans for the borough libraries – South London Press and Lambeth announces long term plan for future of Minet library and local parks – Vassall View.
  • Leicestershire – Latest community library in Leicester opens today – ITV. “Over the past few months, we’ve been building a team of volunteers from Anstey and the surrounding area and we’ve been delighted at the response we’ve received and their enthusiasm. We aim to continue to supply all the existing library services, and the children’s centre will carry on as at present. In addition, we plan to expand the use of the building so it becomes a community hub, providing a venue and facilities for local groups throughout the day.””
  • Leicestershire – Mountsorrel Library could close says county council  – Loughborough Echo. “The council says that Mountsorrel submitted plans which required ongoing financial support, which the council is not offering. The council is, therefore, proposing to consult the public on possible closure and replacement with mobile libraries. Final decisions will be taken next March. Other libraries that have failed are Braunstone Town and Narborough. A fourth – Kirby Muxloe – has submitted a plan that needs further work.”
  • Leicestershire – Rothley Community Library Grand Opening, Saturday 17th October 11am – Rothley Community Library (press release). “Rothley Community Library will be opening with a grand event. The volunteers who will be running the library want to bring as many local people in as possible during the first week – so they are running a festival with over twenty events, something for everyone. The festival programme is attached. On Saturday, October 17th, there will be a grand opening by Anne Davies from BBC East Midlands TV. People will meet on Cross Green at 11, some dressed as their favourite book character, then the group will walk the 150 metres to the library. Anne will unveil the new library signs and officially open the library and the festival.”
“This is a new chapter in Rothley Library’s long history,” said Steve Mitchell, chair of the library group. “The whole event is a reflection of local community activity, and shows the important place of the library in the village. We couldn’t let it close.” The village scouts will be providing refreshments, the guides will be running children’s games, the church will be putting on craft activities and providing music, the local school parent teacher and friends association will be helping, a newly formed local gospel choir will be singing and there will be a variety of stalls promoting the local Heritage Railway, local health initiatives and wildlife groups.”
  • Lewisham – Job fears at libraries: Town hall plans to axe staff to save £1m – South London Press. “Lewisham council officers tasked with making budget cuts of £45million over the next two years have suggested closing three of the borough’s seven libraries and axing staff to save about £1million.”
  • Lewisham – Lewisham Library Campaigners raise concerns re cuts, volunteers & consultation with Head of Service – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “addition large sums of public money have been spent on both the Manor House and Forest Hill.  The mortgage remains on the Manor House until 2049.  If the buildings are to be maintained, provide public service and be paid for, where is the accountability? ” … “When the council proposed community libraries in 2010 there were very few takers, and one cannot say the result, which is the council’s preferred model, has been an outstanding success.   The visits and issues figures speak for themselves.  If these 3 libraries are removed from the control of the public library service where will people go?  What will the CIPFA figures reveal?  Look at the map and see just 3 council run libraries?”

  • North Ayrshire – North Ayrshire libraries to stay open but cost-cutting measures mean hours will be slashed  – Daily Record. “North Ayrshire Council has confirmed that NO libraries will close in their bid to save cash. Proposals for cutting library hours were outlined at cabinet this week as the local authority confirmed the commitment they made on the back of their 2015/16 budget announcement. The reduced budget means the council has been exploring the various options open to them while retaining the best possible service. Now the council will undertake a series of consultation exercises with the public over the proposed library opening hours.” see also North Ayrshire libraries to stay open but cost-cutting measures mean hours will be slashed  – Daily Record.

  • Northamptonshire – Libraries in Northamptonshire lack ‘space, facilities, staff, volunteers and expertise’ for under fives sessions – Northants Telegraph. “Although libraries are welcoming to families, they do not have the space, facilities, staff, volunteers or expertise to run open access family services. Staffing levels are low across all the libraries Healthwatch visited, given the additional functions for libraries. Volunteers to run the children’s sessions are difficult to recruit. Families that may need help do not appear to be going to either libraries or children’s centres. Healthwatch Northamptonshire decided to carry out this piece of work following a number of changes to services, including the change in venue of Daventry East children’s centre in December 2014.”

    @ShirleyBurnham Shirley bluntly this was a report that neither my politicians, children’s nor library service give any credence to at all!” Paul Blantern on Twitter


  • Scottish Borders – Trust set to take over cultural services – Peeblesshire News. “expected to get the nod of approval next week. Scottish Borders Council’s full meeting on Wednesday is being asked to agree to the establishment of an integrated culture and sport trust. If the green light is given it will lead to the local authority’s entire cultural services department being transferred over to Borders Sport and Leisure. Councillor Vicky Davidson, who is currently the spokeswoman for Culture, Sport, Youth and Communities at Newtown, said: “A significant amount of work has taken place in partnership with Borders Sport and Leisure to look at the feasibility of an integrated trust, including learning from similar combined trusts around the country.”

  • Sheffield – Marking one year of community-run libraries in Sheffield after controversial cut – Sheffield Star. “When 15 of Sheffield’s libraries were controversially relinquished by Sheffield Council, nobody knew if having them run by the community could work. One year later, more than 600 volunteers have donated 52,000 hours of their own time to maintain the service in their communities.”

  • Shropshire – Ellesmere library opening hours could be cut by more than half – Shropshire Star. “Shropshire Council has started consultation into plans to move Ellesmere Library from its base in Victoria Street to the nearby Meres Day Centre. The council has said that a second option – to keep the library under Shropshire Council management – would have to see opening hours cut by more than half to make the same savings of £8,830 per year. A third option is to put forward an alternative for the council to consider.”

  • Staffordshire – Majority of mobile library users in Staffordshire say proposed cuts will affect them – Stoke Sentinel. “Staffordshire County Council plans to cut its mobile libraries from six to two, while also dispensing with one of its two large travelling libraries. The council’s plans, which would save the authority £350,000 a year, would see a reduction in the number of communities served by the service. More than 1,000 people responded to a consultation on the plans, with 52 per cent saying the changes would make it more difficult for them to visit a mobile library.”

  • Staffordshire – Volunteers set up library after mobile service axed – Sentinel. “Families can now borrow books on their doorstep after the Old Blurton Community Centre set up the service. “The Oakwood Volunteer-led Library cost just over £300 to set up and houses more than 1,000 books.” … “The Saltbox Christian organisation in Hanley has backed the venture with a grant of £500 to help fund the library and other services. Its shelves were filled with books provided by the city council’s Library and Archive Service, which also trained the centre’s three dedicated volunteers. Blurton had been without a library since the mobile facility was scrapped in 2011.”