It’s always interesting to hear viewpoints from loads of different people and, as sole proprietor of Public Libraries News, I read messages from pretty much the full way across the spectrum.  I have for some while been mentally categorising different people, groups and organisations about where they are on an imaginary “library line” and I’m going to share this with you now, along with the important caveat that not everyone is always the same on every topic, people can move position or may be not quite one label or another and I’m not going to place “good” or “bad” labels on anyone:

  • Campaigners. Those often wanting no cuts to libraries at all. Often either from the left wing or from those who care deeply for public libraries or who work in libraries or all three.  Very likely, but not always, to question the whole belief in austerity or wanting a special exemption to be made for libraries on the grounds of the great things they do for the country. Highly likely to be completely against volunteers (calling them different names but not “community libraries”) replacing paid staff, outsourcing or any commercialization of libraries, believing that giving ground will irrevocably damage the merit of public libraries and lead ultimately to their adulteration. Likely to be concerned about the co-location of libraries with other services but not always automatically against them. Likely to call reductions in budgets “cuts” and unwilling to accept that the government actually has any strong feelings of support for libraries at all and, indeed, may be maliciously cutting them for ideological reasons. Could well be trade unions, Corbynites [Addition to original post: I mean this as those who voted for Jeremy Corbyn so really I mean Labour – Ed.]  or (pretty obviously) campaign groups but, really, could be anyone who really likes libraries.
  • Pragmatists.  Often with beliefs around the centre of the spectrum, although can be left or right wing on many issues. Those who accept, even if they don’t like it, that austerity is happening, and likely to continue to happen until at least 2020 and that they need to work within that framework in order to do the best they can for libraries. They may also note that the government has been democratically elected, however imperfect that democracy may be. While privately (and even occasionally publicly) against austerity, volunteers or any of a thousand cuts to the service, this group will do what is necessary to meet budget cuts (they are likely, but not always, to call these “savings”), seeing it as something that needs doing.  Frankly, many would lose their jobs if they didn’t. Very likely to accept co-location of services as a more or less desirable option. So this is the group that may, with gritted teeth, install volunteer-run libraries (likely to call them “community libraries”) or indeed be library volunteers.  They will also look at the government agenda and see how libraries fit into it, arguing the case for them in terms the politicians understand and use themselves. Likely to be more senior librarians, professional bodies or New Labour but, again, could be anyone from any field.
  • Believers.  Normally, although not absolutely always, on the right wing of the political spectrum.  Firmly believe in the need for austerity and the efficiency of private enterprise over public authorities, may even argue that “community-managed libraries” can be not just cheaper but often better than those run by paid staff.  Will see no problem in private enterprise taking over public services and may even see this a preferred option, with a willingness to see all sorts of services taking over large parts of public libraries if they will make money.  This group will see co-locating any other services with libraries as a no-brainer win. May be strong believers in libraries (and genuinely want to reform them for their own good) or may not see any “special” place for libraries at all and will expect them to fight with other public services for their slice of an ever decreasingly sized pie.  Very likely to call reductions in budget “savings” or “efficiency savings”. Likely to be technophiles, Conservatives (many Liberal Democrats and some New Labour too) or non library users but, as with all other groups, could be anyone.

You should be able to recognise everyone, or any organisation, involved amongst one of these three headings.  So, have fun putting people in these groups … but then bear in mind that life is never quite as easy as that and, people always have the capacity to surprise.  In case you’re wondering what CILIP is, I think it is in  the difficult position of being somewhere between campaigner and pragmatist. The Society of Chief Librarians is most definitely pragmatist (although it has elements of all groups amongst its members) and Judy Terry quoted below is stongly on the “Believer” side.  It’s pretty obvious who the campaigners are, although even within that group you will find disagreements.  What has happened with CILIP yesterday and today is the organisation trying to be pragmatist but coming up against the fact that many members (or ex-members) of CILIP are, naturally, campaigners. That’s quite a disconnect but one probably inevitable considering the situation … how CILIP react and learn from this and the developing situation (expect George Osborne to announce extra deep cuts to council budgets soon) will say much about it.




  • 2015 Library Grant Recipients – Better World Books. “Hundreds of applications were reviewed by the Better World Books Literacy and Library Council in 2015. While there were countless worthy projects, four emerged as the winning grant recipients. We are pleased to share their stories with you and collectively celebrate their victory.”
  • CILIP pro-Conservative tweet raises members’ hackles – Research Information. “Something of a twitterstorm has erupted following a tweet from CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) that appears to show support for government policies on libraries.” … “While the blog stops short of overtly backing the Prime Minister’s views, a tweet on the @CILIPinfo twitter account states: ‘Every day public libraries support @Conservatives vision of a “greater Britain made of greater expectations”’. Given that funding reductions to local government has seen increased pressures on public libraries, with more than 300 closing in the UK over the last five years, it is unsurprising that the CILIP tweet has jarred somewhat with many of the organisation’s members.” … “More criticism came from @funktious, who tweeted: ‘I’d almost feel sorry for CILIP, but really, how badly can you misjudge the mood of the profession?’, and @SimonXIX wrote: I’ve never been more glad to have cancelled my Cilip membership.'”
  • Councils can lead the way on rethinking public services – Guardian. “. A mix of early intervention, shared services, digital customer contact and the managed withdrawal of services such as libraries and parks maintenance will probably see a majority of councils through to the end of the decade.”
  • Judy Terry: Suffolk shows how libraries can thrive as social enterprises – Conservative Home. “I’m passionate about libraries, but discovered during a year-long review of how the service operated in Suffolk that a fresh look was long overdue. In a nutshell, it was overstaffed, carried huge central overheads, and had no idea who it served or why. There was no comprehensive strategy, with managers left to do what they wanted – which meant that some did nothing to attract visitors or to promote their library, whilst others were full of great ideas which were never shared. Little or no effort was ever made to recover fines on overdue books, running into many thousands of pounds, and procurement was wasteful.”

“I’d be looking at something a great deal more radical, with broader partnerships, including with the private sector. Potentially this could release freehold sites for redevelopment. To be honest, given changes to some local conurbations, I was keen to relocate some libraries at the time of the initial review, but I’d have been lynched. So it’s up to the current board if they want to be more progressive. For example, we all complain about our High Streets, so why shouldn’t libraries be used to reinvigorate them, increasing activity by perhaps sharing space with Costa Coffee or Pizza Hut? Or the Jobs Centre? Boots originally offered library services – so perhaps it’s time to reintroduce the idea?” Judy Terry

“Boots didn’t offer “library services”  – many Boots branches had a room full of books, which could be borrowed for a payment. If Judy Terry can conflate the two it throws considerable doubt on her vision for libraries and her self-proclaimed radicalism.” Martyn Everett on LIS PUB LIBS

“I am mystified as to how the Summer Reading Challenge, StoryTime sessions, reading groups, homework clubs,  literacy groups, access to a local authority’s library catalogue, help with using public computers (job applications, access to services, etc) could be undertaken in a DIY store, a pub or any of the other venues suggested. The “managed withdrawal of services such as libraries” — Simon Parker, The Guardian: 7th October, seems to be what Ms Terry is advocating.  This way forward is, I suggest, ideologically driven and takes into account none of the realities of what public libraries can and should offer.” Shirley Burnham via email.

  • Libraries, equality and the “turnaround decade” – CILIP. “David Cameron’s vision of a “Greater Britain” is intertwined with creating a very British knowledge economy. Public libraries provide equal access to information and knowledge that underpins the drive for equality that the Prime Minister calls for. In communities, Universities, schools, prisons, healthcare and banking it is our professional skills that will unlock the transformative potential of this economy. In this post, CILIP CEO Nick Poole reflects on the key themes of Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech to the 2015 Conservative Party Conference and the opportunities they present to advocate for library and information professionals.”
  • Oh dear, CILIP – Phil Bradley’s Weblog. Phil Bradley (who was until recently President of CILIP) unpicks Nick Poole’s post on David Cameron’s vision and the place of libraries within it. “We need to set out a vision, to criticize and praise as appropriate – that means acting politically, but it also means that we are neutral in that we put our beliefs front and centre, irrespective of which colour is in government. I’m disappointed in the entire tone of the CILIP blog post, not least because it appears to put the needs of the Government above those of the members and our users.”
  • Notes from meeting of SCL and Stakeholders Society of Chief Librarians 10th September. Includes update from English Public Libraries Taskforce, volunteer-run libraries, CIPFA, bookstock and SCL initiatives. Meeting included chiefs of SCL, Task Force, Desmond Clarke, Elizabeth Ash, Laura Swaffield and Trevor Craig.
  • Should the UK have a dedicated union for librarians? – Infoism. “Just a quick post based on some discussion today. Given the situation libraries/librarians are in, I’ve often wondered if a more specialised trade union is the way to go. CILIP can only do so much because of its charitable status and, in my view, existing trade unions are too broad in their membership, making it difficult to fully commit to a particular area. Indeed, I would say unions as they exist at present are unable to effectively deal with the neo-liberal world in which we exist (but that’s another argument).”
  • Waterstones takes Amazon’s Kindle off shelves after ‘pitiful’ sales – Telegraph. “Waterstones is taking Amazon’s Kindle off its shelves three years after the UK’s biggest bookseller and the web retail giant teamed up. ” … “According to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales fell 10 per cent in the first five months of the year in the US. “

International news

  • USA – Adult Coloring Explosion – OCLC Webjunction. “Coloring has to be the easiest, most affordable, and least stressful library program out there. But for those of you looking for a reason to begin an adult coloring program at your library, or who need to justify your reasoning with leadership, we’ve seen a number of libraries see this as a way to support health literacy, pointing to research that indicates that coloring de-stresses and lessens anxiety in adults, and can be especially beneficial to people with brain damage or dementia. Here’s some reporting on the health benefits ….”
  • USA – What Libraries Can Learn from Record Stores – Public Libraries Online. “Tap the interests of your staff to make the library a hub of insider knowledge. Encourage staff to read, watch movies, and listen to the music on your shelves by waiving fines or other perks. … Encourage browsing and serendipitous discovery. Like the quirky labels on record store bins, genre indicators encourage browsing.  … Developing a knowledgeable, passionate staff (without the snark of the record store staff in High Fidelity) and being creative about reader’s advisory are important aspects of nurturing a culture of discovery in your library.”


  • BIC Breakfast: Embracing the Library Communication Framework (LCF) – 22nd October in London. “The Library Communication Framework (LCF) is set to transform how library suppliers share information with each other in the future, building on the work that the SIP2 protocol has delivered in the past. LCF will allow vendors to share not only basic transactional information (like SIP2), but additionally better manage libraries’ users and inventory. For libraries looking to upgrade any of their systems in 2016 onwards, LCF should form part of your understanding and be a mandatory part of your specification or tender requirements …”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Council workers stage strike over job fears – Barnet and Whetstone Press. “Members of the Unison union took to the picket lines across Barnet with strikers protesting at East Finchley Library in East Finchley High Road, the council refuse depot at Bittacy Hill in Mill Hill East yesterday (Wednesday October 7.) Later they joined a rally outside council offices at Barnet House in High Road, Whetstone. Earlier in the day Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell joined striking council workers at the council refuse depot”
  • Bradford – People urged to volunteer to help run district’s museums and libraries – Telegraph and Argus. “… with budgets dwindling, volunteers have also played an increasingly important role in the district’s  libraries. Libraries at Wrose, Denholme, Wilsden and Addingham have all stayed open, thanks to members of the community stepping forward to run them without pay”
  • Fife – Crail hopes library won’t reach the end – Fife Today. “Some of the youngest – as well as the most regular – users of Crail’s library service are joining a campaign to combat the facility’s closure. It’s hoped words and pictures from pupils at Crail Primary School will lend some weight to the crusade, which is being led by Crail Community Council.”
  • Fife – Encouraging response to Fife library closure consultation – Courier. “More than 2,000 people have taken part in a consultation about controversial proposed changes to Fife’s library services. With just over four weeks left until the consultation closes, Fife Council is encouraging more people to have their say.”
  • Gateshead – New home for Chopwell Library hit by council’s £20m cost cutting programme – Chronicle. “Chopwell Library will relocate to the children’s centre at Chopwell Primary School, saving the council £19,000 a year ” … “The move will cost the council £129,250 to adapt the Children’s Centre and create a new library area but is set to save Gateshead Council £19,000 a year. Despite being housed at a school, both the children’s centre and library would have separate entrances. Councillors were told police based next to the library are also set to leave the site in Derwent Street to a base in the nearby fire station.”
  • Kirklees – Controversial Kirklees library shake-up to go under spot light – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Liberal Democrat councillors unhappy with the decision have now requested it be looked at again by the council’s scrutiny committee.” … “The Lib Dems’ call in lists a number of concerns with the decision making process. They include: no evidence to support the chosen opening hours for libraries, no consideration to the geographical spread of libraries, no criteria given about the expectations of those who volunteer and no justification on how libraries were classed as town or community.” see also Decision on library closures ‘called in’ for further scrutiny – Telegraph and Argus.
  • Lambeth – Dawn of the Zombie Library – (Email from Laura Swaffield, chair of the Library Campaign but also a Lambeth resident). “Londoners are set to be reluctant pioneers of a scary new concept – the public library with no staff at all. On 12 October, Barnet and Lambeth councils will both meet to discuss schemes to save public libraries – by making them much smaller, and expecting users to shift for themselves. Opposition to the scheme is strong in both boroughs … I’ve seen some dreadful ideas in my time, but this is a whole new horror. All five libraries under threat are packed all day with free activities for all ages. With no staff, all this will go. They’ll be zombies – they’ll look a bit like libraries, but they will be dead. And there will be nobody to safeguard children, help people use the computers or find information. Older people, disabled people, those with little English – in a deprived borough like Lambeth there’s a long list of people who often need support using a library. They are betraying the vulnerable people who need libraries most. ‘The strange thing is that Lambeth had a proposal from library managers to retain all its libraries – with real, living staff – within the budget limits set. They rejected it.’
Lambeth - Tate South Library Fado Evening. Laura Swaffield says "This library is in Lambeth's 'Little Portugal' - gets people of all nationalities together, possibly better than a pay-to-use gym would..."

Lambeth – Tate South Library Fado Evening. “This library is in Lambeth’s ‘Little Portugal’ – gets people of all nationalities together, possibly better than a pay-to-use gym would…”


  • Lambeth – Norwood Society calls for protest against library closure – Inside Croydon. “Anticipating a larger than usual turnout, Lambeth Council has switched Monday’s meeting to Dunraven School in Streatham, where it will discuss, and doubtless then rubber-stamp in its usual “co-operative” manner, its proposals to close half of the borough’s libraries – including the “decommissioning” of Upper Norwood Library, which it has run jointly with Croydon for more than a century.“… ““The Library Trust has negotiated a temporary agreement until April 2016, but the withdrawal of guaranteed funding from Lambeth and Croydon brings into question the viability of these plans. We see our library as a ‘town centre’ library which should be funded accordingly.””
  • Lambeth – Protest plans over library changesSouth London Press.Friends of Lambeth Libraries, residents and trade unions plan to protest outside Dunraven School in Streatham at 7pm on Monday evening as councillors meet to discuss plans to reorganise the borough’s libraries. In the council’s Culture 2020 report to be presented at the meeting it states “maintaining the current service is not an option”. Campaign groups have described the plans as an “act of vandalism” accusing the council of selling off the library service.”
  • Lambeth – Unison condemns proposal to turn libraries into ‘gyms’ – BookSeller. “Lambeth Unison has condemned Lambeth Council plans to keep three libraries open by turning them into health centres.” … Council says “”Not everyone will welcome these proposals and there will be some job losses and changes to services,” she said. “But by using much loved community buildings more imaginatively, Carnegie, Minet and Tate South Lambeth have a more secure future. It means overall, much longer opening hours and a wider range of facilities and activities, including books and study space.””
  • Leicestershire – Barwell’s community library plan is written off  – Hinckley Times. “The decision came at the latest meeting of the Barwell Community Library Group. Sandra Bates, from the group, said they just hadn’t been able to make the figures stack up. She explained: “Barwell Library is inside the George Ward Centre which has got a cafe and has several lettings rooms. Typically groups taking over libraries are thinking of putting in a cafe and renting out back rooms. In Barwell there is no opportunity to do that because it already exists. “So regrettably we decided the running costs were going to be such that we could not envisage a way to raise the funds needed to keep the library going. It is a real shame and we really did not want to pull out. We are hoping someone else will come forward with a new idea.””
  • Lewisham – Lewisham Council is consulting on options for the future of the libraries in a bid to cut costs – This is Local London. Consultation and cuts described.
  • Northamptonshire – Children’s centres fear ‘lost generation’ of families after loss of kids’ sessions in Northamptonshire – Northampton Chronicle. “a damning report written by Healthwatch Northamptonshire suggests the scheme is in trouble with libraries seemingly suffering from a lack of ‘staff, volunteers, space, facilities and expertise’ to carry out the open sessions. But by far the most concerning line was that children’s centre staff revealed they are worried about a “lost generation” of families needing early help. Healthwatch believes there could now be three groups of families. There are a small group who use library under fives services and a group of targeted families who use children’s centres. But a third, larger group which now accesses neither service is the issue. They previously relied on the informal network of support built up through the activities at children’s centres. Activities to which they are now “effectively being denied access.””