The Spending Review has now come and gone and it’s no worse than expected, but little better.  The settlement for local councils will be decided nearer Christmas and we’ll see what happens.  Expect another five years of restructures, cuts and, hopefully, innovation, in order to meet the punishing targets certain to be set.

It’s at least good news that ACE have received a protected settlement. While it is often a bit odd to report on great new theatrical experiences or animatronic sculpture in the same library service as is at the same moment closing libraries, it would be churlish to not appreciate the good things that they do. Similarly, the news that the Task Force, now celebrating six months on the job, will have funding for another four more years if it needs it is also good news. While not being as quick about things as some have liked, and – obviously – not going to in any way criticise the government, they have achieved a few things in the last few months and I earnestly hope for more to come.

Whatever happens, there is certainly going to be a lot more public libraries news.



National news

  • ACE ‘astonished’ by increase in funding – BookSeller. “Publishers funded by the Arts Council England have reacted with “astonishment” and “delight” that the body’s funding is to be protected in the government’s Spending Review announced today. However, Richard Mollet, c.e.o of The Publishers Association, has said “the devil will be in the detail” on other announcements around the cuts to Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Apprenticeship Levy and Research UK.” … “Osborne described the arts sector as “one of the best investments we can make as a nation” and ACE wil be given a small increase of £10m a year in in cash for the four years up to 2020.”

“Meanwhile, Martyn Wade, chair of CILIP Board, said he was “profoundly disappointed” that public libraries and their value to communities and the economy were “entirely missing from the Chancellor’s statement.” “As statutory services which attract more than 280m visits a year and support a range of government agendas it’s shocking that public libraries have not been mentioned,” he said.”

  • Autumn Statement is “perfect storm” for libraries warns CILIP – CILIP. “the demand for Government services through public libraries outstrips the capacity and funding to meet them … Government Digital Service will receive an additional £450m funding. GDS lead on transforming government services by getting more services online. At the same time 11% of the population have never used the internet and 12.6 million adults do not have basic digital skills … “In light of the additional expectations that libraries will have to meet, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport need to be clear how they will meet the Government’s legal obligations to oversee the improvement of public libraries in England. Currently the Government has no clear policy, plan or strategy in place for delivering on their legal obligations to oversee the improvement of library services in the public interest.”
  • Government response to the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce six month progress report – DCMS / Gov.uk. ““The Libraries Taskforce has today recommended that a document setting out government’s and the Taskforce’s shared vision for public libraries in England would provide a shared direction and purpose by highlighting existing good practice and providing a focus for collaborative action. I strongly support this recommendation and I can confirm today that the government has agreed to publish such a document setting out best practice by summer 2016. It will be produced in dialogue with the Libraries Taskforce, particularly the Local Government Association, Society of Chief Librarians and Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals as the key representatives of local government and the libraries sectors.””
  • How council services are affected by spending cuts – Guardian. Mentioned libraries eleven times, including the main picture. “At the moment it is mainly parks and libraries being cut to the bone but there is more to come” (Lambeth):  “The cuts to leisure centres and the library service are at the forefront of everyone’s minds in Cornwall at the moment but there are even greater dangers down the line” (Cornwall); ““[But] my major fear is for the non-statutory services, paradoxically the very services the public seem to be most supportive of: leisure centres, libraries, public open spaces: a whole range of ‘unseen’ services will cease to be delivered.” (Darlington); “Lancashire County Council are at breaking point, having to close 5 museums and over half of its libraries”; “All of the libraries in our area are once again under threat,” said Susan Burt in Anglesey. “For many children these are a vital source of books and the lift they need out of poverty.””
  • LGA responds to 2015 Spending Review – Local Government Association. “”Today’s Spending Review has handed down a difficult £4.1 billion funding cut over this Spending Review period for our residents and comes on top of almost £10 billion in further demand-led cost pressures facing councils by the end of the decade. The consequences for our local communities who will suffer as a result should not be underestimated.” … “”Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.”
  • Local councils warn of critical funding crisis as £18bn grant is scrapped – Guardian. “Prof Tony Travers from the London School of Economics said Osborne’s changes were radical because they meant councils will only be able to increase revenues in the future by attracting more businesses to benefit from the changes to rates. He said it transformed town halls from “being a mini-welfare state into a local economic growth agency”. But some of the most stretched councils warned that the changes would hit the poorest parts of the country hardest, where there were fewer businesses and taxpayers to make up for lost Whitehall grants.”
  • Our first six months – Libraries Taskforce. “Some of our big highlights were: £7.4 million of funding (announced in Budget 2015) to enable universal WiFi coverage in public libraries in England. Once installation is complete by the end of March 2016, 99% of libraries will be able to provide free WiFi access to their users; the announcement of funding of £100,000, in partnership with the Tinder Foundation, to pilot new approaches in 16 public library services in England to building digital skills in socially excluded, hard to reach groups; helping to secure £400,000 funding for Enterprising Libraries from the British Library, Arts Council England and the Department for Communities and Local Government which has helped six city libraries establish hubs in their buildings for small businesses and entrepreneurs; the Chief Executive and Chair meeting with government departments and local authorities to highlight the value of libraries and how they support their communities in areas such as: increasing literacy; getting online and building their digital skills; creating new / expanding existing businesses, managing their health and wellbeing.” … “, we were particularly pleased to receive confirmation from DCMS yesterday that funding for the Taskforce will continue to be available for the next four years if required.”
  • Post 3M – What’s the future for SIP? And for libraries? – Changing Libraries. “A lot of people have been asking me what I think about the recent merger between Bibliotheca and 3M. It’s an impossible question to answer easily and is usually prompted by a variety of concerns. How will customer service be affected? Will products (like the two e-book offers) be merged as well? How will the RFID market now develop? What’s happening to the staff? (Just a selection of the emails in my inbox recently.)”
  • Report highlights ‘concerning’ gender pay gap in library sector – BookSeller. ““On the positive side, we have an expertly-skilled and highly educated workforce,” Nick Poole, CILIP c.e.o., said. “Of greater concern are the significant gaps in pay equality and diversity which the results have highlighted. As the professional body for library and information workers, CILIP is calling for a National Library and Information Skills Strategy which will enable us to attract high-quality talent from diverse backgrounds into the profession and to work with employers to create knowledge-based jobs and opportunities to support their future growth”. … “Desmond Clarke, added: “These results are very worrying both in terms of the equality and diversity of the professional workforce but also that the pool of professional managers is ageing. Not mentioned is that there are even library authorities with no professionally qualified staff at all. This supports the decision of the Taskforce to give priority to workforce development.””
  • Where next for Revalidation? – CILIP. “For the CILIP Board to consider and approve any change to the regulations about Professional Registration we have to demonstrate that a full consultation has taken place. Because the proposed changes would affect the majority of members we decided to run a full member ballot.” … “The outcome of the vote was a near 50/50 split with 51% of members voting against the proposal and 49% voting in favour.” … “Without this, we face push back with employers who ask us how we can guarantee that someone who undertook Chartership five, ten or even more years ago keeps their skills up to date.” … “Following discussion on the 25th November, CILIP Board has decided to postpone the decision about revalidation until next year. We will use the time to get a better understanding of the views of members and particularly what we can do to increase our advocacy for the skills and professionalism of our members while developing a revalidation scheme that helps us to achieve this. “

International news

  • Australia – Red + Black Review: Geelong Library and Heritage Centre – Red and Black Architect. “Moving up through the building, it becomes clear that the change in level has also provided for a change in use. On the first floor is the reading nest and cave designed specifically for the kids to discover the joys of reading. The second floor is for the general library collection. Here along the glazed western facade, the connection to Johnstone Park is captured superbly. The individual lounge chairs looking out to the garden view are perhaps the premier public interior reading spaces, anywhere in the state.”

“So what then is the purpose of the 21st century public library? It is about accommodating a diverse set of community needs, from sourcing and filtering information to providing meaning to that information. The library is a gathering place to hear lectures and discuss ideas as well as a place where one can be alone to experience the joys of reading in a public space with a supreme outlook. For some it will be the beginning of new careers, where learning can be fostered and new technologies can be mastered. Ultimately the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre shows how the public library a a building type is as relevant as ever.”

  • EU – Refugees Supported by Public Libraries in Europe – Public Libraries Online. “From the UK to Norway to Germany, public libraries are ensuring that refugees not only have access to information but also an environment where they can feel supported and empowered.” … “The European Bureau of Library, Information, and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) is an independent umbrella association of library, information, documentation, and archive associations and institutions in Europe. They’ve issued a press release on the topic “Public Libraries in Europe Welcome Refugees”. “
  • USA – 21st Century Library Measuring Sticks – Public Libraries Online. “It is no longer enough to measure our success by the size of the crowd that attended our Storytime program. Our communities expect more from their public libraries than just moving books or filling a room. Librarians in the 21st century must also show the impact and outcomes of the services they offer.” … “The Impact Survey has grown to become a standardized measurement tool for public libraries. It is now on its third iteration and offers many self-service tools that are easy to use. If you are looking use outcome measurement at your library, below are additional resources to investigate…”
  • USA – An A-Maze-ing Library Experience – ALSC Blog. “Sometimes you get a big idea. And sometimes you get to make that idea a reality. This year my department was given funds to create big family programming, and I got the chance to build my idea: a giant cardboard maze that would encourage caregiver-child interaction and create a memorable library experience for customers of all ages.”
  • USA – Embedded Videographers – Public Libraries Online. “Libraries have had marketing or public relations people taking photos of library programs for years. However, in the days where YouTube and sharing videos online is becoming the norm for many of our patrons, does it almost seem necessary to have library videographers as well as photographers?”

Local news by authority

  • Anglesey – Anglesey’s Market Hall revamp poised for go-ahead – Daily Post. “Council planners are expected to approve proposals to transform what was once described as “Wales’s most dilapidated civic building” into a library. Earlier this year, Anglesey Council announced a bid to slap a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on Holyhead’s Market Hall following concerns over its poor condition and the potential for it to collapse unless action was taken.”
  • Barnet – Council leader defends approach to outsourcing as union warns 92% of jobs at risk of being farmed out – Times series. “Barnet Unison says 92 per cent of the current council workforce – the equivalent of 1,540 full time posts – face the likelihood of being outsourced. This includes jobs in school catering, the library service, street cleaning and family services.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Two Brighton libraries introduce out-of-hours service – BBC. “The trial allows people who have signed up for a special card to use Portslade and Woodingdean libraries. A phone line to a security company will be available in case of emergency and library staff can be contacted via a dedicated helpline. Brighton and Hove City Council said staffing will not be reduced.”
  • Cardiff – Cardiff’s first community partnership hub set to open its doors in Rumney and provide several services under one roof – Wales Online. “Set up with Communities First, the hub will provide a range of council and partner agency services including library services, advice and benefit services, computers and free telephones, a children’s area, a community room and interview room. The building has been refurbished and redecorated.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire West and Chester named runner-up at Annual Fairtrade Campaign Award – Cheshire DEC. “We decided to focus on libraries as we knew that there was a significant footfall. We knew that we would reach people who might not otherwise be involved in Fairtrade, or indeed know about it. We got agreement from all 24 libraries in Cheshire West and Chester to put up a display about Fairtrade during February half-term holiday and Fairtrade Fortnight; so a total of three weeks in all. A display like this A1 mounted board was put up in each library. We wanted there to be a new and creative element to the project, so we asked local artist Bee to design a Fairtrade market scene that could be reproduced and used for a colouring competition. The result was a fabulous A4 outline picture for all the libraries to have copies of. In addition to the display and colouring competition, we also provided each library with a fantastic story book; ‘The Banana That Refused To Turn Yellow’, by Rod Brocklehurst. We did this as we know that most libraries have a story telling session for children and parents each week, and we thought it would be perfect for the story to be told during Fairtrade Fortnight “
  • Coventry – Coventry Council set to ponder cuts to city libraries – Coventry Observer. “Plans to close two of the Coventry’s libraries, cut the mobile library services and close public toilets are set to be approved by councillors today (November 26). At a Cabinet meeting, councillors are expected to approve the proposals in a bid to save £1.2 million a year from April 2016 and a further £3.8 million a year from 2017. Plans would see the establishment of a new Connecting Communities programme, which would bring council services together under one roof in a reduced number of locations in communities and neighbourhoods.”
  • Fife – Councillors express concerns over plans to close libraries in Fife – Courier. “Town representatives have agreed to include a public petition against the closure of Kinghorn Library as part of a representation to the council’s executive committee.”
  • Hampshire – Hampshire County Council accused of holding ‘phony’ consultation into cuts to library service – News. “‘I don’t think people realise what’s going on. ‘This is supposed to be a consultation, but I think it’s a phony one. ‘One of the problems with the consultation document is it uses fancy words like “transformation” and “vibrant”, but you have got to get to page 15 of the document before you get buried in the small print the word “closures”. ‘Very few parish councils around the county seem to know about it at all, and I don’t think it has been widely publicised.’”
  • Hampshire – Nearly 6,000 respond to cost-cutting library plans in early weeks of Hampshire consultation – Hampshire Chronicle. “The mobile service and some lesser-used libraries could shut as part of a major review by Hampshire County Council as it bids to save £1.7 million. More than 5,700 comments have been left after three weeks of consultation on plans to split libraries into four tiers based on use. Some tier three libraries, which include Bishop’s Waltham, Alresford and Fair Oak, may close or become volunteer-run.”
  • Isle of Man – Changes on the cards as library prepares for move – IOM Today. “Revised opening hours may prove a bonus to customers of Douglas’s Henry Bloom Noble Library after its move to new premises in the old Top Shop building, next door to the Co-op on Duke Street. New opening hours have been guided by use patterns which show the library is little used after 5.30pm possibly because people at work visit the library during their lunch hour.”

“Borrowers who do not live in Douglas currently pay £25 per year for adults, half price for pensioners and £2 for children, but councillors noted this was significantly higher than at any of the island’s other libraries. In addition, councillors were told the fines on over-due books were so high some people had stopped borrowing for fear of incurring them.”

  • Lambeth – Gym-Trification: Lambeth’s dodgy scheme to turn libraries into books parodied in Private Eye – Brixton Buzz. “The cartoon documents how Cllr Edbrooke pushed through the hugely controversial scheme and how the deal to run the book/gyms was dished out to Greenwich Leisure Ltd with no consultation or tendering process. “They just gave the deal to GLL in secret,” says the cartoon character.” … “Despite the appalling weather, a huge march by over 600 Lambeth library campaigners took place at the beginning of the month, and on the 18th, all of the libraries in the borough were closed as staff walked out in protest at the proposals.”
  • Lambeth – Library consultation ‘fake’ charge campaigners – Brixton Buzz. “Lambeth library campaigners today accused the council of mounting another “fake” consultation and called on respondents to mount a “write in” campaign to thwart it. Edith Holtham, chair of the Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library (TSL) in Stockwell, said the exercise – launched on the day that a judge ruled the council’s Cressingham Gardens consultation unlawful – makes it “almost impossible” for residents to say what they want for the library.” … “Edith Holtham said the questionnaire did not ask the “fundamental” question: “Which of the two libraries do you think should be the town centre library?”.”

“Museums, archives and libraries across Lancashire are celebrating the county’s history this week with traditional food, music and dialect for Lancashire day.  They should make the most of it: for many it could be their last such event. The county is preparing to close an astonishing 40 libraries, five museums, two adult education centres and its entire arts and heritage service.  Two castles and a handful of other historic tourism venues run by the county are to be foisted back onto their owners if they can’t fully cover their own costs by 2018. The move comes just a few months after David Cameron backed a campaign to promote “all that Pennine Lancashire has to offer” to tourists.  Alas, two of the museums featured on the Pennine Lancashire “Wonderful Things” map are among those earmarked for closure. An appendix to the budget report, which is due for presentation this week, claims that the 74 libraries currently serving the large county are “significantly in excess” of the county’s 34  service planning areas.  The cuts are part of a hunt for £262m savings.  Consultation is to start in December, with closures earmarked for next summer.” Lancashire – Library News – Private Eye.

  • Lancashire – Barbarians both burn and balance the books – LEP. “Still, think of the savings. And forget the loss. A personal loss to those who use libraries; a wider loss, of positive civilising resource, to all those who don’t. In 2009, defending US libraries from purge, author Ray Bradbury said: “Libraries raised me.” Wise words. They raised me too. But they have raised us all. Sadly barbarians are not only at the gate. They’re on our side of it.”
  • Lancashire – Rossendale Scribbler: Volunteers may be needed to save our libraries and museum – Rossendale Free Press. “it is noticeable that as the county council shrinks rapidly, there’s relatively little talk of reducing the number of senior managers at the county council – a very small number of roles are identified – and no talk at all about reducing the number of county councillors on the council”
  • Lincolnshire – Councillors make recommendation on who should run Lincolnshire library service – Horncastle News. “Executive member for libraries Nick Worth (Con) said: “All the finalists submitted good bids, but officers believe our best option is to outsource our library services to GLL. We’ve worked hard to get the best possible deal, and are confident that GLL can provide both significant savings and improved performance. “I’m sure the executive will give this matter careful consideration, and take the decision that is in the best interests of taxpayers.”
  • Lincolnshire – Fears for community hub after ‘£10k bill’ – Horncastle News. “Lincolnshire County Council has been accused of “murdering” library services after a community hub surviving on a ‘shoestring’ claims it was slapped with a £10,000 business rates bill. The bill was allegedly handed to Wragby Community Hub – and volunteers who run the facility say its future is now uncertain.” … “LCC county libraries manager Gary Porter said: “The library service used to contribute approximately £8,000 per year to the running costs of the building, which covered our share of the utility bills and business rates. “But we have negotiated this down to £4,000 per year for the new group, which can be easily covered by the £5,167 grant they receive from the council each year.”
  • Manchester – Manchester Central Library to be the home of a Google ‘Digital Garage’ – Manchester Evening News. “The pop-up, part of a multi-million pound investment, will employ four experts who will provide one-to-one mentoring support six days a week, and a trainer delivering digital masterclasses. Google is inviting local businesses, start-ups, and anyone interested in a ‘digital tune-up’ to pop in and learn skills needed to grow their business or career.” … “Google bosses said the Digital Garage – the third of its kind – will host bespoke training events for charities, computer science education sessions for local students and teachers, and a range of other events.” … “The Digital Garage is the result of a partnership between Google, Manchester Central Library, Tony Lloyd, Interim Mayor of Greater Manchester, Manchester City Council and Manchester inward investment agency MIDAS.”
  • Manchester – Ten of Manchester’s hotpots for freelancing and co-working – Time Out Manchester. “Originally constructed back in the 1930s, the grade II-listed Manchester Central Library closed in 2010 for a four-year renovation project, eventually reopening to unsurprising fanfare as Mancuions welcomed back not only an iconic building, but also a great space for the studious. The building has nooks and crannies to work in throughout, but if you’re in need of getting down to some serious stuff, make a beeline for the grand 300-seat Reading Room on the first floor, which functions as the library’s slightly more formal study and working area. “
  • Nottinghamshire – Nottinghamshire Libraries prepare to host Forest legend – Chad. “Nottingham Forest legend John McGovern – the man who captained the football club to win the European Cup twice – is preparing for two talks at Nottinghamshire County Council’s libraries.” … “His talks about his life and career will be fascinating and these events are further examples of the exciting and varied programme of around 7,000 events we host in our libraries each year – offering something for everyone”
  • Staffordshire – Stafford LibraryPublic Libraries News. An in-depth look at the new Stafford library, with large numbers of pictures [produced by myself in a visit this week – Ed.]