More details on the transfer of Devon Library Sevices to a non-profit trust, a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.  It’s about to be voted through and will mean it joins Suffolk and York as England’s library non-profits.  What interests me most, though, is the name chosen – Libraries Unlimited South West. The first two words show laudable ambition, suggesting expansion of libraries into exciting new fields (like the Maker Space already in Exeter Library). Those last two words, though, suggest geographic ambitions outside of Devon and, as such, shows the company to be part of a new entrepreneurial breed of library service which looks for opportunities where it may.  This is in a similar manner to the start of GLL which, faced with limited incomes at home, look at economies of scale and opportunities both inside and outside its territorial bounds. It’s like the start of an old library consortia but on steroids and we’ll see if it is a flash in a pan or the shape of things to some soon. In a weird way it took the extreme financial situations libraries are now in to take the chains off libraries and allow them to do stuff like this. Whether that is a move to be welcomed or feared depends on one’s viewpoint and how things pan out. It is certainly a more encouraging move than simply sitting there and taking the cuts.  Well, at least if you’re one of the first to make the move, that is.

In other news, a very good digital making kit has been put online by the SCL: it’s part of an official national launch.  More details on that shortly.


National news

  • Code green: make digital, learn digital – SCL. “This Digital Making Kit will help you to take advantage of new opportunities and respond to new challenges. It is a great introduction and a very useful tool to help you step into this wonderful new world of libraries and librarianship. The process is about trying and learning and sometimes making mistakes. We have to listen to our users and never forget to have fun and to remember that libraries will always be about Keeping stories, sharing stories and making stories.”
  • Community Tubs – Leon’s Library Blog.  A satire on the move to renaming libraries “community hubs”. “The Taskforce for following government policy on libraries noted the only thing that would improve the programme was it being delivered by a mutual or trust. The Arts Council promised to fund Locality to produce a report which stated that what users really wanted was clean people to help them when they visited a library shed.”

  • Lib Dem plans to ‘revitalise’ high streets – BBC. “People would get help to take over running local services like libraries and post offices under Welsh Liberal Democrat plans to boost high streets. The so-called Community Right To Bid already exists in England”
  • Literary location for Library Launch – Changing Libraries. “22nd October saw another important milestone being reached for the Library Communication Framework (LCF) with its official launch”
  • Portobello Library and Why I’m Glad It’s here – Voices for the Library. “‘Volunteerism’ not only does away with a vital profession, for no better reason than it’s an easy target to cut, it threatens the very ‘egalitarianism’ that is so precious in a community such as this. ‘Volunteerism’ will make libraries like Victorian charities. The middle-classes will feel compelled to step in and run things and, like the sea-front cafes and bars, it’ll be by themselves and for themselves, no matter how well-meaning they may see themselves to be.”

International news

  • New Zealand – Crisis and Consequence: On Libraries’ Response to the Christchurch Earthquakes – Signal in Transition. “I wrote about the Christchurch quakes and the response of Kiwi librarians for CILIP Update, the in-house journal of the UK librarians’ association, CILIP. You can read a PDF copy of the article by clicking on the image below.”
  • USA – Did Amazon Just Replace the Public Library? – Atlantic. “Amazon Books could become something else in the process, emulating institutions that have been their own kinds of cathedrals: libraries. Which have traditionally been just what Amazon is aiming to create: spaces that are premised on books, but realized by community. The books here may be bought rather than borrowed, certainly, but in terms of the space created, the goal is the same. Amazon Books is a store doing the work of a cultural institution. It’s about commerce, yes, but it’s also about collectivity. It is, in form if not in name, a library. And its librarians are the same people who serve as curators for amazon.com: fellow customers.”
  • USA – New edition of Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries available – ALA. “ALSC recommends these core competencies to all children’s librarians and other library staff whose primary duties include delivering library service to and advocating library service for children ages birth to 14. “These competencies represent the best of ALSC’s knowledge and experience serving children in libraries,” said ALSC President Andrew Medlar. “Thanks to the ALSC Education Committee for putting so much hard work in to this new edition.””
  • USA – No, Sir, Our Interactions Have Been Purely of a Reference Nature – Public Libraries Online. “I was working the desk toward the end of a Saturday afternoon and a large man (at least 6’4”) with a two-foot-long curly blue-black ponytail came up to me in some distress. Printing was not working for him and this was urgent. “It’s the playlist for my band’s gig tonight. I have to make it work!” Under his leather jacket he is perspiring, and he was quite agitated.  Apparently he was lead in a KISS tribute band. …”
  • USA – The seven wonders of DC’s central library – Elevation. Features include being able to self-publish books and “The Center for Accessibility has shelves stocked with classics written in Braille, but technology has allowed the center to take its mission much farther. The center boasts dozens of software programs and hardware to help the visually, audibly and physically impaired better read books or correspondence, operate computers, and manage modern technology”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Second public consultation launched into cuts to Barnet’s libraries – Times Series. “A second public consultation into the future of Barnet’s library service has been launched. Councillors last month voted to keep libraries open, but reduced in size, with 46 per cent of staff axed and four run by volunteers. Opening hours will also be increased through the use of technology and unstaffed hours, but staffed hours will be cut.” … “A final decision will be made in the spring.”
  • Brent – 2nd Annual Mark Twain Lecture – Save Kensal Rise Library (website and press release). “After a five-year battle, residents and campaigners have secured the future of Britain’s most contested public library. The good news is, Kensal Rise Library will re-open next year and most of the ground floor is set aside for community use, rent-free in perpetuity. It will be run by and for the community. Margaret Bailey Chair of the Friends said: “… the Friends of Kensal Rise Library are delighted to announce that they will be hosting a fundraising evening with Melvyn Bragg on Sunday 8 November.  He will be talking about his newly published historical novel, Now is the Time.” see also Kensal Rise library to host fundraiser with Melvyn Bragg – BooKSeller.

“Margaret Bailey, chair of the Friends, said: “We have won the first battle; we will have a library back in our community, now we move on to the next chapter. We need to raise money to turn an empty space into a library and public place we can be proud of. We need to raise money to fit out the space and to run the service. We are currently fundraising and actively seeking grants, sponsors and benefactors. Our target is £100,000 and we have recently had a donation of £10,000, so we are on our way.” Bailey has been named one of the London Borough of Brent’s 2015 Community Champions. The Brent Community Champions Awards are held annually by Brent Council to honour and recognise individuals who have given outstanding community and voluntary service in Brent. For the last five years, Bailey has led the campaign to save the library service in Kensal Rise and has been described as a “tireless champion of community values.””

  • Cambridgeshire – Gritting and mobile libraries are ‘lines in the sand’ for county council’s ‘colossal and cruel’ cuts – Cambridge News. “These two services in particular were highlighted as causes of concern by councillors at Shire Hall as the next phase of austerity got underway yesterday.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Have your say on ways Cambridgeshire libraries can make money – and stave off the threat of cuts – Cambridge News. “Residents are being urged to help shape income generation ideas for Cambridgeshire libraries by taking part in a public workshop this weekend. Cambridgeshire County Council members and officers will host a workshop to explore and develop income generation ideas for libraries on Saturday, from 11am to 1pm in the conference room on the third floor at Cambridge Central Library.”
  • Cornwall – Library services to be devolved in Cornwall – BBC. “Plans to devolve the running of many Cornish libraries have been approved to help save the council £1.8m a year. The running of dozens of libraries and one-stop shops will be handed over to community groups and town councils. Closures cannot be ruled out for libraries which do not have arrangements, Cornwall Council said. Campaigners said the move would lead to a fragmented service with varying levels of staff expertise.” see also Cornwall’s Library Shake-Up – Pirate FM. “Cabinet has approved the three recommendations in the report and the additional Communities Policy Advisory Committee’s recommendation: 1.    Option 1 (Model A – Progress the devolution of the local Library and/or One Stop Shop service, as set out in this report, to those organisations that have expressed an interest) be approved as the primary option to implement. 2.    Option 4 (One Public Estate Job Centre Plus opportunities) is explored in more detail and progressed where possible (alongside recommendation 1) 3.    Members should be regularly updated on progress and a further detailed report is brought back at an appropriate time relating to any library/one stop shop which it has not been possible to encompass in recommendations 1 or 2 with a view to the potential impact and options regarding service delivery in these areas to ensure the service is delivered within budget by 1 April 2017 4.    Meetings will be held in communities where Libraries and One Stop Shops are currently located in separate buildings.”
  • Devon – Devon libraries to be outsourced to private company owned by staff – Public Sector Executive. “Devon County Council is set to approve the creation of a new private organisation next week (11 November) to run its libraries, to ensure the service remains economically viable. The council’s cabinet will look into final plans for the library service, first agreed by councillors in March, to assess whether services should begin from April 2016. The new company would be a public services mutual, for which the county council would still be responsible. The delivery of services would be commissioned from the new organisation – which will be owned by library staff and the community and managed by a chief executive and board of trustees.” … “Plans to ensure the organisation will remain cost-effective were partly based on similar successful models across the country.”
  • Devon – New private Devon library service to get green light – Western Morning News. “The creation of a new mutual organisation to run Devon’s libraries could be given the green light next week. Devon County Council’s Cabinet will consider final plans to establish a new ‘public service mutual’, which will run the library service from next April.” … “The new organisation’s name will be Libraries Unlimited South West, but will continue to operate in Devon as Devon Libraries.” … “The new organisation will form as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.” … “Julie Dent, chairman of Devon Partnership NHS Trust since March 2013, has been named as chairman of the board”
  • Hampshire – Hampshire Library Service consultation – Hampshire County Council. “Hampshire County Council is seeking residents’ views on how Hampshire’s Library Service can be transformed and modernised to meet the changing needs of people in the 21st century. This public consultation invites feedback on proposals set out in the draft Library Strategy which looks to develop a sustainable and vibrant Library Service for people who live, work and study in Hampshire. “
  • Hull – Halloween @Hull Central Library – Storify. Excellent series of zombie related tweets and then videos show how Twitter can bring a library social media account alive.
  • Lincolnshire – No horror show as Crowland hub opens for all – Spalding Today. “Crowland Community Hub chairman Paul Bywater spoke of the many hurdles the steering group had faced over the two years they have fought to save the library building and make it a true facility for the community. He said: “We now want to build on working really well with Crowland Cares and other groups and raising money.”” … “Recently the hub opened a charity shop in the town, Toggs ‘n’ Cloggs, selling clothes to help raise funds to meet the cost of operating the hub. “
  • Southampton – Southampton library closures ‘breach human rights’ of children to education – Southern Daily Echo. “The city council will cease running the five buildings and mobile service next year but council chiefs say they believe groups will come forward to take them on. However campaigners have now called on Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport John Whittingdale to intervene, saying the council is breaching its duty to residents by not running the libraries.”
  • Stirling – Behind the Scenes at the Library: Stirling – Scottish Book Trust. “This month we quiz Stirling Library Service. The service covers a large geographical area both urban and rural and with a population of over 91,000. They have 15 libraries, 2 mobile libraries and 1 unmanned self-issue library and hold an annual Book Festival, ‘Off the Page‘, in May each year plus lots of other events throughout the year. From digital printing to David Tennant, the Stirling service has it all! Read on to discover more…”
  • Stockport – Plans to ensure the organisation will remain cost-effective were partly based on similar successful models across the country. – Manchester Evening News. “A trial of Scandinavian-style self-service technology has been launched at Bramhall library to see if it helps with extended, unmanned opening hours. The system could be rolled out at 14 other sites in Stockport . Labour asked the borough’s ruling Lib Dem group to offer assurances that the ‘open library’ technology won’t be used to cut staff. But executive member Shan Alexander said she could give no guarantees.”
  • Suffolk – Major redevelopment could see Needham Market’s library and internet cafe move to middle school – East Anglian Daily Times. “An ambitious vision to relocate a town’s library and create a museum as part of a major redevelopment of a redundant middle school site have been announced” … “Discussions are underway between three groups in Needham Market – the library, internet cafe and museum group – to create a “community hub” at the town’s old middle school. The school shut in the summer as part of a major overhaul of education in Suffolk. Now education bosses at Suffolk County Council have passed the site to its property department as future uses for the land are considered.”
  • Walsall – Walsall library staff face axe as council cuts loom – Express and Star. “New technology including self-service machines and a new smart card entry system is planned, meaning less staff will be needed. Walsall Council is looking to axe seven libraries and the mobile library service, along with 13 jobs, as part of plans to save £328,854 next year and £159,058 the year after. And it has now emerged that around £300,000 could be invested into some of the remaining nine libraries to bring in a new management system, allowing visitors to use them when they are unstaffed.”