Oxfordshire has announced cuts of £1m per year to its libraries, with customer service staff being placed in libraries.  Meanwhile, in Cornwall, the council is aiming to pass as many of its libraries to the control of parish/town councils as possible, with other options in reserve if that doesn’t work. The saga in Birmingham continues with more money being spent on the new highly expensive Library of Birmingham in order to replace public space with class rooms for a language school.  This is intended to raise enough funds and staffing to allow the building, which greatly reduced opening hours barely a year after opening, to be open a bit more commensurate with its size and cost.

Also included today is more details on one of the winners of the CILIP PMLG Library Champions Awards: John sounds like a bit of a gem and Essex Libraries are rightly proud of him.


What it takes to be a library champion: Focus on John Macnab, PMLG Mobile Library Champion 2015

“Before joining libraries John had worked for Ottakars and in teaching. In 2009, John became one of two county-wide mobile relief supervisors, covering for all 11 mobile library routes and driving all over Essex. In 2011 he became the mobile library supervisor based at South Woodham Ferrers. Since having his own route John has been able to focus on building up the service and on the individual needs of his customers. John has completed a complex route review and made improvements to his route including a school stop and added regular class visits.  

One of John’s strengths is to engage customers in conversation. He puts his customer’s needs at the forefront, responds to their feedback, tailoring his stock to their needs. He offers his customers reading suggestions and book recommendations. This has meant he has increased loans, up 2% on the previous year; comparing Jan 14 and Jan 2015 his loans are up 32.9%. Additionally John has been involved in trialling a reader development initiative tailored to mobile library users. John’s figures for customers’ requests have shown a big improvement, up this year nearly 600.

John offers on-going support to a book group and does his best to help customers with learning difficulties, in particular this year supporting deaf children and those with English as a second language at East Hanningfield Playgroup, providing Makaton and dual-language picture books. He provides Quick Reads for a reader whose daughter has learning difficulties and also selects dyslexia friendly books for another reader.

Customer feedback tells how John has assisted a library user who was caring for a seriously ill spouse ‘by providing appropriate books to rebuild the wife’s memory’, ‘tempting her back into the real world’ He is further described as having provided ‘inestimable help, professional understanding and kindness’.” Jo Woolven, Essex Face to Face Services.

National news

  • British Library’s chief librarian confirmed as CILIP trustee – BookSeller. “Brazier said: “My whole professional career has been based on a belief that access to information, improving literacy and supporting lifelong learning are vital public services and that libraries are an essential part of that service.  Library and information services in the UK, as well as internationally, are going through a period of unprecedented challenge and change. They need a strong, strategic voice to advocate for them. I believe CILIP can offer that voice and that I have relevant experience, skills and enthusiasm which I would like to contribute.””
  • Library Lovers Playing Cards – KickStarter. “The Library Lover’s Playing Cards features a collection of vintage images from the early part of the 20th Century. Each picture was used to promote and advertise libraries to the public and encourage recreational reading. These designs are as evocative today as they were when they were first created. As a library lover myself, I wanted to get these out into the open and so set about putting the images on playing cards so you can enjoy them too. I have had two prototypes made, each one a beauty. I’ve firmed up the design and the production and am ready to print my first run. I just need your help…”
  • More than 12 million fall into UK digital skills gap – BBC. Go On UK “produced what it calls a digital exclusion heatmap, pinpointing the areas where people are most likely to miss out on the digital revolution. There is bad news for Wales where over a third of the population do not have the five basic digital skills as defined by the charity. But London, Scotland and East Anglia, come top of the league with over 80% of people having those skill”
  • Nielsen highlights mid-teens reading dip – BookSeller. “Young people aged 18-25 are more interested in reading than younger teenagers, according to Nielsen Book, which has taken into account readers aged 18-25 for the first time for its annual report into the children’s and YA market, released today (20th). In the report, Understanding the Children’s & YA Book Consumer, Nielsen surveyed readers aged 0-25 and found that those aged 14-17 are the least likely to read.” Full press release here.
  • Public Libraries in the Age of Austerity: The Gloves Are Off – Political Economy Research Centre. “In this paper Ian Anstice, of Public Libraries News, offers an overview of how local library services across the UK have been affected by cuts. As he explains, although less than 10% have been axed since 2010, the services and provision offered have been drastically reduced and reshaped in a number of ways. As with other public institutions, such cuts, tacitly supported by the Coalition and Conservative Governments, have undermined the very principles upon which local libraries were built”
  • School libraries protesters rally outside Scottish Parliament – BookSeller. “Save Scotland’s School Libraries campaigners assembled in Parliament Square in Edinburgh to support a petition that urged the Scottish government to set out a new national strategy for school libraries which recognises the “vital role of high quality school libraries in supporting pupils’ literacy and research skills.” Author and campaigner Alan Gibbons gave a speech at the rally, saying that the government’s decision to “despatch” libraries is “damaging” and argued that access to libraries for children is essential for socio-economic success.”

International news

  • Australia – The library boss who secretly took almost 3000 photos of women’s cleavage at work – and he’s still not been punished – Mail. “An executive library director who took almost 3000 secret photographs of female colleagues, visitors and underage students without their permission is yet to face any punishment.” … .” after Mr MacGregor was caught out he took seven months sick leave and then abruptly resigned.”
  • Denmark – Copenhagen libraries throwing out almost a third of their books – Online Post. “Jakob Heide Petersen, the head of Copenhagen libraries, said the object was to create more space on the shelves and that he didn’t think users would be left with a lack of choice. “The point of the exercise is to sort out the books that people don’t borrow and create more space to present the literature we want to disseminate,” he said.”
  • Spain – Odilo to power nationwide digital library in Spain – Odilo. “Odilo has been awarded a contract with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports, to bring digital content to the entire network of public libraries in Spain. Over 15 million library card holders will benefit and enjoy digital content through eBiblio (powered by OdiloTK, a complete digital asset lending and management end-user platform).  The Ministry promotes and develops digital culture with initiatives like eBiblio, which currently provides free access to eBooks and eAudiobooks from all of the leading Spanish publishers. eBiblio offers end-users access to content in three clicks or less; browse, search, borrow, or download on any computer or mobile device, anytime-anywhere.”


  • Smart Libraries: Re-inventing libraries for a changing world – Milton Keynes, 16th-19th May 2016. “The conference title reflects a new and exciting focus for m-libraries. m-libraries was launched in 2007 by the Open University in partnership with Athabasca University to promote and share experience of the delivery of library services using mobile devices, when developments were in their infancy.”

Local news by authority

  • Bexley and Bromley – Bexley and Bromley could share commissioning on libraries – Bexley Times. “Bexley and Bromley are considering jointly commissioning their library service. The proposed move could protect front line library services while saving on costs for both London boroughs, as they face financial challenges. Bexley council has already agreed to the approach of obtaining the services. Under the suggestion, the library services would join together, but with each council being able to specify specific requirements according to the borough’s priorities. A further decision will be taken in 2016.”
  • Birmingham – Library of Birmingham to undergo £2m conversion – Birmingham Post. “Facelift for landmark Birmingham building two years after it opened to accommodate Brasshouse Language Centre “…”The relocation of the Brasshouse Language Centre from Sheepcote Street, which was announced earlier this year, will see the £188 million library open to the public for longer following a dramatic cut in its hours, from 73 down to 40.” … “the first floor conference rooms and study areas will be converted into 24 classrooms for the language school. The £2.1 million cost will be borrowed by the city council and the debt repaid when the existing Brasshouse site near Brindleyplace is sold.” … “The move means the library will be open to the public from 9am to 9pm weekdays, including an express book borrowing service.”
  • Cornwall – Face to Face Service – Alternative Service Delivery of Library and One Stop Shops – Cornwall County Council. £1.8m cut to service, with preferred option being to transfer libraries to other town or parish councils/volunteers.
  • Cornwall – Future for Cornwall’s Libraries – Pirate FM. “A report on the future of the library and one stop shop service in Cornwall will be considered by the Council’s Communities Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) on 27 October 2015. This as officials look at how to save £1.8m from the budget thanks to cuts. It has put together a report showing how libraries and One Stop Shops could be transferred to other organisations like town or parish councils or other community organisations.”
  • Coventry – Earlsdon residents unite to in effort to save library from closure – Coventry Telegraph. “More than 50 people waved placards in a protest outside Earlsdon Library – one of the 17 across the city earmarked for closure under radical plans to save millions of pounds.”
  • Herefordshire – No date for completion of asbestos removal work at Hereford library – Hereford Times. “the authority has said this week said that the removal of the asbestos has yet to begin, adding it has no completion date. “The safety of users and staff of the services is our most important consideration, and the implications of managing asbestos at the building needs to be carefully considered,” the council said on its website. “As traces of asbestos have been found at the venue, it is in the best safety interest to remove it completely, which will be started as soon as possible. “As yet we have not been given a date as to when those works will be completed.””
  • Kirklees – Future of Kirkburton library set to be decided this week Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “The Tories say the Greens want to shut down the children’s section, but the Greens say they want to extend the whole library” … “If approved this would see the library run by one council employee backed by community volunteers.”
  • Leicestershire – New community-run library opens – Loughborough Echo. “Last year, Leicestershire County Council decided to invite 36 communities to manage libraries or risk closure, as part of the library service’s £800,000 savings. ” … “Rothley community came out in force to support the opening of its new volunteer-run library on Saturday, October 17. The local Scout group and Rothley Community Gospel Choir joined crowds of residents as BBC East Midlands Today presenter Anne Davies officially opened the Mountsorrel Lane facility.”

“We are just fortunate that so many people in Rothley have got so much good will. It really does restore your faith in human kind. “We have got a committee of nine and 60 volunteers. “It is enough to run the library on 16 hours a week which is the minimum it can be but if we get to a point where we have more volunteers, we could do more.””

  • Oxfordshire – CUTS: Leader says plans to save £50m across Oxfordshire are a worst case scenario but he admits majority will go through – Oxford Times. “Ian Hudspeth said people in Oxfordshire would now be asked to choose where the axe should fall, as the local authority revealed it was reviewing mobile libraries, arts funding, homeless support services, road gritting and even electronic bus stop signs in a bid to slash its budget by almost 10 per cent. “
  • Oxfordshire – Libraries/Cultural Services – Oxfordshire County Council. “Retention of all 43 libraries (22 core and 21 community libraries) but provide service redesign and changes internally to provide savings, including: A) Reduction of book fund. B) Closure of all mobile libraries; 4 general service library vehicles and 2 children’s service vehicles. C) Library Service management and staffing reorganisation in conjunction with the Council’s Customer Service Centre and ICT function over the next two years. D) Retendering of the Library Management Information system.” £1m cut by 2018/19. “This will lead to a reduction in the current Library staffing establishment coupled with the deployment of Customer Service Advisers from County Hall to libraries and other County Council buildings”
  • Oxfordshire – Oxfordshire County Council proposes £50m cuts – BBC. “The council is looking at more than 90 savings options, including cutting funding for homelessness services, seven health and wellbeing centres and reducing the amount spent on gritting roads. Four mobile libraries could also shut, although child protection is not included in the options.”
  • Shropshire – Albrighton Parish Council set to aid library and pool – Shropshire Star. “Albrighton Parish Council has agreed in principle to move into the library and help run it, as well as offering financial support for the pool. Shropshire Council voted to save £1.1 million from the authority’s £2.9 million libraries budget during a meeting on Wednesday in Shirehall.” … “Mr Woodman said the parish council was confident of getting some financial support from central government to make some changes to the layout of the library. He said some necessary changes included moving the children’s section to the back of the library with parish council offices at the front.”