More news as promised today about the launch of Code Green and the Learning Offer from the Society of Chief Librarians.  Code Green does indeed look like a very useful resource and I am sure that it will be welcomed across the country. Ed Vaizey chose the occasion of the launch to welcome the efforts of library campaigners in fighting cuts to local libraries and also in volunteering in them. Some have questioned whether the minister in charge of libraries should be welcoming the efforts of others to protect libraries when that is in fact his job but far be it from to belabour that obvious point. His speech rewards careful reading, with a notable withdrawal from his previous stance that libraries were “thriving” and a move, noticed before, to see volunteers as an unalloyed good.

In other news, the normal pattern of cuts shows itself, but it’s interesting to point out another library authority using new technology to allow for unstaffed libraries (that is, not just no paid staff but no staff at all) and one more going for lone staffing. At this rate, volunteers will start worrying about their jobs.



National news

Ed Vaizey and SCL President Ciara Eastell, along with other dignitaries at the launch

At the launch, from left to right: Yasmin Khan, Kentish Town Library user; Jessica Cecil, Controller of ‘Make it Digital’, BBC; Alison Wheeler, SCL Learning Offer Lead, Head of Suffolk Libraries; Ed Vaizey MP; Ciara Eastell, SCL President; Mike Cooke, Chief Executive of London Borough of Camden;  Lynne Walker from Suffolk (Aldeburgh Friends Group and learner); Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England

  • Code Green: Libraries to Teach robotics, coding and more: Libraries to Provide Exciting Learning Opportunities under New Universal Offer – Society of Chief Librarians. “This morning at Pancras Square Library in Camden the Society of Chief Librarians and the Association of Senior Education and Children’s Librarians, along with the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy Ed Vaizey and Arts Council England Chief Executive Darren Henley will unveil new ways for people and communities to learn in public libraries across England. The Universal Learning Offer is available in all library services across England and brings together hundreds of unique self-directed learning opportunities for library users, and broadens the range of learning opportunities on offer in local libraries.”

“The Learning Offer will provide libraries with “Code Green”: a detailed Digital Making Kit, a how-to guide to give customers hands-on experience in computer programming (coding), designing and making 3D objects, building robots, creating apps and many other creative activities for all ages. The Learning Offer resources will build on SCL’s Digital Skills Training programme that reached 14,000 library staff. The Universal Learning Offer in public libraries has been developed so that children, young people and families will be able to build their confidence and skill with their creativity, coding and digital skills. This offer will give families more opportunities to learn together, on a variety of subjects, and help to move through from literacy to fluency. People will grow new skills, find more job opportunities and stimulating experiences in their local area, in a friendly and welcoming environment.”

  • Libraries – Taskforce To The Rescue? – Booktrade.info. Press release about Speak Up for Libraries conference. “Saturday November 14 will be the first real chance for library supporters to find out face-to-face what the Taskforce is doing – and tell them what’s really needed. The Speak Up For Libraries conference* is a unique annual event where library users, campaigners and frontline staff get the chance to meet and question the policy-makers responsible for this vital service.”
  • Vaizey praises library campaign groups in speech – BookSeller. “In a speech given at the launch of the Society of Chief Librarians’ (SCL) Universal Learning Offer yesterday (5th November), culture minister Ed Vaizey highlighted the “valuable” role libraries play and praised the commitment of the “remarkable” number of campaign groups fighting to keep them open. Vaizey noted that “the way libraries fulfill their role is changing dramatically, not least because what people expect from a library is changing”, with visitors seeking services including internet access, space to work, librarian assistance alongside traditional book-borrowing” see also Launch of the Universal Learning Offer in libraries – Gov.uk. Full speech by Ed Vaizey at launch.

“These groups have been sending a very clear message to their local councils and to their local elected councillors that community libraries should not be axed and, in many cases, local residents have taken over the running of their library to save it from closure. I think it is right we should all applaud both their commitment to supporting libraries, but also their efforts in keeping them open for the benefit of their communities … “We all – librarians, campaigners, the professional bodies and the other information and book trade organsiations – need to contribute to the debate about how local authorities can realistically build a modern, comprehensive and efficient service which meets the needs of those whom it exists to serve and is achievable with the resources that are available.”.” Ed Vaizey, minister for libraries

Survey on volunteer-run businesses and libraries

Social Finance and EKOS are conducting a follow-up study for The Power to Change, a new £150m grant funder from Big Lottery Fund focused on community businesses, including volunteer libraries. The purpose of the study is to assess recent developments in the area, understand the support that such businesses use (and where the gaps are), and review the future outlook for different sectors. The report will shape how The Power to Change seeks to support the sector in the future. The survey can be found here. The survey will take approximately 10-20 minutes to complete, and all respondents who leave their email address at the end of the survey will be entered into a prize draw for a hamper of community business-sourced produce. The report will be published in early 2016 and Social Finance can send you a link once it is available online.

International news

  • Canada – Calgary philanthropist pledges $100,000 donation to public library — but only if council gives nod to Uber – Calgary Sun. “Handed out since 1977, the award “recognizes a provocative individual who is not afraid to speak his or her mind,” and that’s exactly what Wilson said he was doing.”
  • Nigeria – Public libraries left to rot – Daily Trust. ““The problem appears to be coming from within. A combination of inefficient administration, governmental penny-pinching and lack of self-confidence among librarians is serving to cripple the public library service. Visitor numbers are shrinking, creating the illusion that book-based libraries are not capable of serving the public anymore.‎”. He said most of the book-based libraries have not been updated since their establishment about 35 to 40 years ago and they were poorly funded by the government, adding that “even the e-library that was recently erected in Kaduna was shut due to erratic internet supply.””
  • USA – Amazon Will Never, Ever, Replace Libraries – Motherboard. “Tech evangelists and neoliberals want to have it both ways. They want to commoditize public space, but retain a strong sense of community. When citizens enter retail spaces, however, they are converted into consumers—not a bad thing, per se, and arguably necessary to keep the wheels of commerce going. But these sorts of spaces don’t bring people together; they pry them apart. The most common effect is not communion or collective feeling, as The Atlantic suggests, but atomization and anxiety. “
  • USA – Libraries in New York and Seattle Area Staging a Battle of the Sorters – New York Times. “On Tuesday, Salvatore Magaddino will crank up the “Rocky” theme song and deliver a pep talk. His crew will then have one hour to defend the city’s title as home to “the world’s fastest library-sorting system” (at least according to the trophy) and to break its 2-2 tie with a squad from the King County Library System, which serves the area around Seattle. “The adrenaline is outta control,” Mr. Magaddino said.”
  • USA – The End of Overdue Fines? – Public Libraries Online. “The Vernon Area Public Library (VAPL) in the northwest suburbs of Chicago eliminated overdue fines this past August, and ELA Public Library, a neighbor of VAPL, followed suit in September. They are modeling their policy on Algonquin (IL) Public Library (another neighbor) and their decision to remove overdue fines in September 2014. VAPL noted that Algonquin, nearing its one-year anniversary of instilling the policy, has had no adverse effects. In fact, it’s only increased the goodwill of patrons towards the public library. Since introducing the no overdue fines policy, VAPL has also received only positive responses from their patrons and the community at large. Is this something that should become a trend for public libraries in general?”
  • USA – Ursula K. Le Guin on the Sacredness of Public Libraries – Brain Pickings. “In a 1997 speech celebrating the renovation of Portland’s Multnomah County Library, Le Guin writes: “A library is a focal point, a sacred place to a community; and its sacredness is its accessibility, its publicness. It’s everybody’s place.” After an affectionate time-travel tour of the formative libraries in her life, Le Guin considers the universal gift of the free public library: “Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. A great library is freedom.”

Local news by authority

  • Carmarthenshire – Libraries break their silence to embrace future -Llanelli Star. “Llanelli Library is the busiest in Wales – with 601,182 books taken out in 2014. According to Women’s Weekly magazine research, the Vaughan Street library is the fourth highest in terms of book loans across the UK. Elsewhere in Wales, Cardiff Central Library made 581, 779 loans in 2014. At the top of the charts is Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library which issues 1.1 million books a year.” … “Llanelli Star research revealed Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar was the most popular book at Llanelli Library, having been loaned 203 times in a year.”
  • Devon – Devon Libraries to be privately-owned by library staff – BookSeller. “The company’s official name will be Libraries Unlimited South West but will operate as Devon Libraries. It will legally be a “company limited by guarantee with charitable status”, optimising commercial and charitable benefits – including up to 80% relief on business rates. The council believes the new model will work in a more “dynamic and entrepreneurial” way as the company will be able to apply for grants and funds outside the council’s reach.”
  • Fife – Communities refuse to close book on library fight – Courier. “campaigners across the kingdom yesterday made sure their voices were heard loud and clear before the deadline. Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Tricia Marwick and North East Fife MP Stephen Gethins all met young library users in Lundin Links to hear more about the impact any closure will have on the community. Mr Rennie said: “The clear and powerful support exhibited locally must mean that the Trust and the council should change their plans to close the Lundin Links Library. The library matters to the local community – that must count for something.” Mrs Marwick added: “Lundin Links is a great example of a well-run and well-used library and does not meet the criteria listed by Fife Cultural Trust for closure so I would urge both the Trust and Fife Council to think again.””
  • Glasgow – 50 jobs facing axe as Glasgow Life cuts £2.4m – Evening Times. “Staff who work in the communities, libraries and learning teams were called to a briefing in Glasgow city centre to be told the news. ” … “Officials said 51 management and supervisory posts would be cut. However, all job losses will be achieved through early retirement or voluntary redundancy.” … “The new structure will see the city’s libraries, learning and community teams into a single unit. ” … “The organisation has around 2800 staff with 750 working across libraries, learning and communities. “
  • Lambeth – Protestors to march through Brixton in bid to save Lambeth libraries and ‘scary monsters’ – SW Londoner. “The protest, organised by Save Lambeth Libraries, will start at 10.30am in Windrush Square, and protestors will march at 11am to Tate South Library where Cabinet member Cllr Jane Edbrooke will hold a surgery. Hundreds of adults and children are expected to attend with a petition to save Lambeth libraries on change.org having already amassed more than 2,500 signatures.”
  • Lewisham – We Must Protect Lewisham’s Library Service – Our Hither Green. “It was with dismay that I read about the proposed plans by Lewisham Council to turn four branch libraries into ‘community led’ libraries. I am vehemently opposed to these plans and I believe that it is crucial that these continue to flourish as public libraries in our borough of Lewisham. I manage a public library in west London with a team of 11 staff and around 8 volunteers. We adore our volunteers, they support us in our activities and enhance our library service – this includes under 5’s singing sessions, homework clubs and our annual reading challenge for kids. However, they cannot be expected to run a library service. The council’s attitude to this is ‘well why not ask volunteers to run the libraries’. There are many good reasons why this is bad for the residents of Lewisham.”
  • Manchester – Four year old Noah wins Summer Reading Challenge – Manchester City Council. “Keen reader Noah, aged four, was entered into a prize draw, after successfully completing the challenge by reading six books over the school holiday period. Noah – the youngest ever Summer Reading Challenge prize draw winner – was delighted to win a £100 toy store voucher and a copy of the Guinness World Records book.”
  • Manchester – Halle anniversary honoured by Manchester musical institutions at Central Library – Manchester City Council. “A display case has been dedicated to some of Halle’s many letters and ledgers, in honour of the 120th anniversary of the great conductor and pianist’s death on 25 October 1895. “
  • Manchester – Manchester Central Library receives Archive Service Accreditation – Manchester City Council. “An accredited archive service must provide a high level of service to their users, preserve their collections in line with national standards and are robust, sustainable services which plan and deliver ongoing improvement. The National Archive’s accreditation panel noted and praised the transformational nature of change at Manchester Central Library in recent years, specifically in the areas of developing a mass audience able to benefit from the service’s offer, the cultivation of many very positive and effective partnerships and the considerable improvements to long term preservation.”
  • Manchester – Manchester start-up hopefuls to take part in nationwide event  – Manchester Evening News. “Manchester entrepreneurs will join hundreds of start-up hopefuls taking part in an event that will be beamed across the UK during Global Entrepreneurship Week later this month. Manchester Central Library in St Peter’s Square, will be one of five venues that will screen the day-long biggest ever StartUp Saturday event on November 21. Small business network Enterprise Nation has teamed up with the British Library to host the live performance at the British Library in London, while candidates in Exeter, Newcastle, Manchester, Barnsley and Leeds will be able to see the live event on the big screen.”
  • Manchester – Simply Singing Flash Mob Manchester Central Library – YouTube. The Simply Singing choir sing “the Rose” to a whole bunch of surprised but delighted library visitors.
  • Norfolk – Libraries, museums, arts, records and registration services – Norfolk County Council. £920 spent on technology to allow unstaffed libraries to be open, Millennium Library to be reduced by 2 hours opening per day, £300,000 per year reduction in bookfund (from £1.353m), 1 mobile out of 8 to be lost,
  • Portsmouth – Library move may be key to improving North End – Portsmouth News. “Cllr Jones said: ‘We are really keen to try and draw up the business in North End and make sure we have an increased footfall. ‘I’m giving consideration to the library. It’s a very popular library. We really want to expand the IT offering there. ‘So we are looking to see whether we could move the library and create a community hub in the middle of North End and then redevelop the existing site, potentially for residential units.”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf – Medium Term Service Planning: Service Change Proposals – Rhondda Cynon Taf Council. £327k cut: Reduction in number of librarians, branch library opening hours reduced to 31.5 hours per week, single staffing introduced at 5 libraries (Hirwaun, Ferndale, Pontyclun, Mountain Ash, Rhydyfelin), 25% cut to bookfund, 1 out of 4 mobile libraries to be lost, magazines/newspapers reduced, part-time Community Learning Worker lost.
  • Shropshire – Group fears impact of axe on Shropshire’s libraries – Shropshire Star. ““Our libraries are a public asset, not a liability to be disposed of or privatised via a commissioning policy. Driven by qualified management and staff they are multi-use hubs and meeting places offering the key to learning for all ages.” “They provide a cost-effective, value for money service for both Shropshire Council and visitors alike.” The Friends of Bridgnorth Library has urged Shropshire Council’s cabinet to “urgently re-think” the proposal and to openly consult with the public to ensure the long-term future and provision of the service.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Save Rhoose Library – Facebook. “The verdict on our case for a judicial review has now been delivered. Unfortunately the judge did not find in our favour. However this is not the end of the story because she has also given us the right to take the case straight to a higher court. Without getting too much into the legal technicalities, the judge ruled that the council did not make a final decision about the library at their meeting in March 2015. Although she found mistakes in their approach (for example they didn’t fully consider the effect on elderly and young people) because, in her opinion, they hadn’t yet made a final decision, they still have the ability to put that right. Our legal team has successfully argued that her judgment didn’t take account of some of the arguments made in the hearing. Rather than make another judgment based on the whole of our argument she has given us the right to take this case straight to the Court of Appeal. This is a very unusual situation. So unusual that our solicitor has not come across it in any of his previous cases. So the fight continues. We don’t yet have details of how long it will take before we get a Court of Appeal hearing but will share this information as soon as we have it. We know this may seem like disappointing news given all the effort we put into this. But the fight is certainly not over.”