Scotland faces its deepest cuts to public libraries since at least 2010 (when I started PLN) with the confirmed closure of 16 libraries to “save” £500,000 per year. Recent research from Canada, also below, suggests that the cut will reduce the local economy there by £2.5 million per year. In other Scottish cuts, Falkirk are cutting a similar amount to Fife by hollowing out libraries.  South of the border, East Sussex are suggesting a deep 25% cut in opening hours for that same, seemingly magic, £500k per year figure. More details from Croydon suggest up to 9 libraries are under threat, although this time the annual budget reduction is a “mere” £217k. On the positive side of the ledger, Wolfson Foundation have given £250k (not annually alas) to beef up some children’s library in cash-strapped Birmingham and Derbyshire have opened a new library, boasting a health and wellbeing zone, no less, in Heanor.

In the broader picture, Penguin Random House have announced all of their 23,500 ebooks are available for libraries to lend, as long as they’re willing to pay.  What will be charged is something I’ve not had time to check out yet.

The Society of Chief Librarians have put out a £8,500 tender today for someone to work out how to share best practice in public libraries. Hang on, I thought that was me, but if you do have any other ideas (and I’ll just mention SharePointFacebook groups and/or Moderated Forums here) then do let the SCL know before 20th December.

Finally, I’m very pleased to have Aude Charillon writing about her experience of being a Carnegie UK LibraryLab innovator over the last year. I know that many authorities are already thinking hard about their entries so innovation is still thriving, despite the best that councils like Fife, Falkirk and East Sussex throw against it.


A LibraryLab winner writes

Aude Charillion, Carnegie LibraryLab participant, shares her experience

Aude Charillion, Carnegie LibraryLab participant, shares her experience

All around the country, at the moment, library services are putting together their bids for the Carnegie Library Lab programme.  To give some idea of what happens, Aude Charillon has kindly written this piece. 

“We library staff defend people’s rights: their rights to access information no matter what format it’s in. We help members of the public use a computer, find the information they need on the internet and navigate the online services they need. But what do we tell them about their rights to re-use the content they find online? Do they know about the treasure trove of public domain works – which by definition belongs to them – and material published under open licences? These are the kind of questions that go around my head; but on a day to day basis I wasn’t getting a chance to do something about it. But then Carnegie Library Lab – a programme that offers funding, learning, mentoring and peer support to early and mid-management library staff – came along.

Suddenly I had an opportunity to formalise my thoughts. Although my ideas about a possible project on public domain and open licenses had been vague, the application process helped me clarify what I wanted to do. By being successful I secured funding and the legitimacy to develop my Commons are Forever project as part of my job. Perhaps more importantly I gained support: from my managers, from a learning guide and fellow Carnegie Partners, and from an external mentor (because let’s be honest: if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have known where to start!). The emphasis on professional development in the Library Lab programme was an additional bonus – lots of learning about innovation and leadership. I must admit that at the outset I did ask myself, ‘who’s ever going to look at me and think “library innovator”?!’

I am now almost a year into my project. I have learned to be more tenacious and I am also more confident in meeting people and talking about Commons are Forever. So far within my library service we have made people think about their rights regarding copyrighted works – we held a talk with local law lecturer Rebecca Moosavian and online rights activist and author Cory Doctorow on the theme: “Copying – right or wrong?”. We have made young people and adults re-use public domain works – we held workshops where local artists helped people use coding and graphic design to reuse public domain images held in our collections. We also enabled people to share their artwork under an open license – we organised a photography competition on the model of the Wikimedia Foundation’s “Wiki Loves Monuments” where participants upload images to Wikimedia Commons.

Through connections made via my mentor I have met local artists who have delivered some great workshops for my project. And through them I have met others – one of whom has suggested Newcastle Libraries should have a stall at the next Maker Faire UK (which takes place in Newcastle) and another has offered to bring in a “fix-it” café in the library to teach people to repair their domestic items. Without this project I would not have had the chance to meet new people and encounter these opportunities to develop my library’s services.

Our sector is being hit hard by cuts but despite losing budgets, staff and buildings we cannot give up and stop developing our services. We still owe it to our residents and visitors to keep our services relevant. Carnegie Library Lab is there for exploring and experimenting with new ideas and services in public libraries through giving you some support, money and visibility – make the most of it: apply.”

National news

  • All PRH e-books available for loan – BookSeller. “Penguin Random House UK is making its full catalogue of 23,500 e-books available for libraries to lend. From today (8th December) libraries will be able to purchase titles from the complete PRH UK e-book list so that users will be able to choose whether to borrow a physical copy or download a digital version. All of PRH UK’s front and backlist titles that are available as e-books will be eligible for the trial, with new titles available to borrow three months after first publication.” see also American Library Association responds to Penguin Random House e-book licensing announcement – ALA News. “the American Library Association (ALA) said it welcomes improvement in long-term access and pricing, but noted that the new cap of $65 continues a significant premium over consumer e-book and library print titles”
  • Invitation to Tender: SCL Innovation Network for Public Libraries – Society of Chief Librarians. “Deadline for receipt of proposals: 1700  hours on 20th December 2015. Aim: To develop a method for creating, harnessing and sharing innovation, encouraging best practice and developing leadership across the public library sector in England.” … “The aim is to create a platform and pathways for the development, practice and sharing of innovation across the public library sector, championed by public library staff who have been part of a developmental journey recently, either through digital leadership skills training or workforce development representation. By encouraging innovation across the network, the Society expects to see over time an enhanced culture of innovation develop, in response to emerging trends, thought leadership and horizon scans across the sector, and shared as best practice across digital, structural and local authority boundaries. This requirement builds upon activity which has already taken place and is happening now, through: knowledge sharing across the cohorts of Digital Leadership Skills training, a robust network of regional representatives for workforce development, and innovative areas of focus within each Universal Offers’ team ASCEL activity in this area  New learning and skills sharing requirements in response to the recently launched SCL Universal Learning Offer the Carnegie Library Labs initiative  regional collaborative activity in the sector  Best practice sharing around health and wellbeing . This needs to be channelled into one unique, central space to accelerate and increase work and capacity for content which is cross-collaborative in its nature, focussed on skills sharing, resource sharing, success sharing. “
  • Ofcom publish their latest Children and Parents: Media and Attitudes report – ICT4C. “Children increasingly trusting of information they find online. Most 12-15s unaware that ‘vloggers’ can be paid to endorse products. One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true. One in ten (8%) of all children aged 8-15 who go online believe information from social media websites or apps is “all true””

International news

  • South Korea – This Korean University Library Uses a Two-Storey Slide to Attract Students to Study – Hypebeast. “The external form of the building is inspired by a stack of books, while the stainless steel cladding of the walls takes its pattern from a QR code created from the library’s name, Jang Yeong Sil. Inside, a large central volume allows straight visibility from the main entrance, leading students up a grand staircase with a massive bookcase wall to the main study spaces, as well as allowing ample natural light and maintaining sight lines to the outside landscapes from every corner of the building. Most exciting, however, is the curving metal slide that connects two floors, allowing students a shot of adrenaline in the midst of a study session.”

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Birmingham’s children’s libraries get £250k funding boost – Birmingham Council. “Five of Birmingham’s children’s libraries are set for a New Year makeover, thanks to £250k of funding from the Wolfson Foundation. As well as decorating and new furniture, the libraries will receive new technology and funding for local history projects and storytelling events.  New equipment will include iPads and android devices, plasma screens, DSLR cameras, laptops, Wii and the latest Raspberry Pi.”

“This new funding from the Wolfson Foundation allows us to continue to be innovative in our approach to libraries and engaging young minds.  Five children’s libraries across the city will be transformed into dynamic, exciting and welcoming spaces, providing children with the opportunity to try new technology and enhance their storytelling involvement in beautiful spaces, designed to inspire.”

  • Cambridgeshire – Mobile library service could be saved after councillors vote to spare it from cuts – Hunts Post. “Cambridgeshire County Council’s highways and community infrastructure committee said last Monday (November 30) that the service offered “a lifeline” to people in rural areas and voted that it should not be subject to further cuts.”
  • Cardiff – Cardiff council’s proposed budget branded ‘shameful’ – Wales Online. “These proposals are vague when it comes to actually stating what these mean in delivery.“School children hit, small businesses hit, youth workers hit, community safety hit, libraries at risk, costs of services for elderly increased, to name but a few proposals. It is supposed to be an open and transparent administration, yet they lack the courage to be honest.”
  • Croydon – Croydon libraries facing closure due to budget cuts – Guardian series. “”DIY libraries”, run by community groups, are being considered as a way to keep threatened parts of the service running. But campaigners warned the strategy could lead to struggling “second-rate libraries”.” … “Upper Norwood library, which is funded jointly by Croydon and Lambeth councils, is now run by a community-run charitable trust founded to protect it from cuts. But the library face an uncertain future ahead of likely funding reductions and Robert Gibson, a campaigner who has played a central role in the trust, predicted the model may not work elsewhere in Croydon.”
  • Croydon – Funding for libraries, meals on wheels and waste collections facing axe in £29m budget cuts – Guardian series. “inviting community groups to run some of the borough’s libraries (£217,000) “
  • Derbyshire – £892k library is officially opened – Derbyshire Times. ““The library offers a wide range of modern, accessible facilities for people of all ages and an excellent programme of free events and training. “The enthusiasm of local people shows there is a demand for libraries and an appreciation that we are managing to maintain this very important service across the county during a time of unprecedented budget cuts.” The library offers a wide range of facilities including an improved children’s library, a health and well-being zone, a custom-built area for people to use the council’s free-access computers and communal seating and study areas.”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – East Riding Library Consultation Ends Soon – Yorkshire Coast Radio. “East Riding of Yorkshire Council is reminding residents that they have until Monday 21 December 2015 to give their views on the future of its library service. Already, around 5500 responses have been returned to the council since the consultation was launched in September.”
  • East Sussex – Cut in opening hours of East Sussex libraries proposed – Hastings Observer. “The opening hours of East Sussex libraries could be cut by around a quarter under new proposals. East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet is due to approve a public consultation on the proposed changes, which could see all libraries open only between 10am-5pm.” … “The proposals would result in a reduction in overall opening hours across the county of around 25 per cent and could save the county council £500,000 a year.” … “While over the past five years there has been an 87 per cent increase in the use of the e-library, and a 568 per cent increase in e-book downloads, compared to an 11 percent decrease in physical visits and a 20 per cent reduction in stock issues.”
  • Falkirk – Call to save Falkirk libraries before it’s too late – Falkirk Herald. “Union officials are “gravely concerned” over proposals to cut library services after Falkirk Community Trust announced its business plan. “
  • Fife – Campaigners hold ‘read in’ in Pittenweem as library decision looms – Fife Today. “Campaigners in Pittenweem held a ‘read in’ at their local library on Friday to protest against plans to close Pittenweem library and 15 others across Fife. The peaceful protest, organised by the Pittenweem Readers, gave local people the chance to come together in a show of support for the Fife library service and to explain just how much their local library means to them.”
  • Fife – Councillors agree to close 16 Fife libraries – BBC News. “Libraries at Abbeyview, Bowhill, Colinsburgh, Crail, Crossgates, East Wemyss, Falkland, Freuchie, Glenwood and Kinghorn are to shut. Libraries in Lundin Links, Markinch, Pittenweem, Pitteuchar, Thornton and Townhill are also to close. Fife Council’s executive committee took the “tough decision” to make sure the service was “sustainable” and “suited to customer need”. Dates for the closures are yet to be decided.” see also Fife libraries will close – Fife Today. “Despite impassioned pleas from councillors and attempts to stop or defer the closures, the Fife Council’s Executive Committee members voted by a clear majority to the plans proposed by the Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) who now run the library service.”
  • Fife – D-Day for Fife libraries’ future – Fife Today. “Tuesday’s meeting at Fife House is expected to be lively with protestors gathering outside to press the case to save their own branches.” … “Set up three years ago, the Trust has already delivered almost £1m in savings – and it still has to find a further £800,000 by March 2018.”
Items for sale at Manchester Central Library shop.

Items for sale at Manchester Central Library shop.

  • Manchester – Manchester Central Library introduces archive gift range – Manchester Evening News. “Manchester Central Library’s new gift range, designed from its archives, offers the opportunity for you to take a piece of our great city’s history home with you. On sale at the library’s shop from today, items include Christmas cards, umbrellas, postcards, calendars, mugs and t-shirts are printed with historical images from classic cars, public notices and 1930s vintage posters.”
  • Walsall – Community, leisure and culture Portfolio Consultation – Walsall Council. “The proposal for consultation is to consider closure of 7 libraries (Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pleck, Rushall, South Walsall, with Walsall Wood book exchange relocated to Oak Park Active Living Centre) keeping 9 libraries and the housebound service as the core library service for the Borough – Aldridge, Bloxwich. Brownhills, Darlaston, Pelsall, Pheasey, Streetly, Willenhall, Central, Housebound Library Service). The proposal would save a total of £487,912, £328,854 to be delivered in 2016/17 representing implementation at the end of July and a further £159,058 in 2017/18.”