Thanks for all the positive comment on the top ten library trends of 2015.  It’s a big subject and you’re quite right that I could have included more, including on health and wellbeing, which is an increasing presence in the public library profession at the moment.

One thing which stood out as an omission to me when mentioned (thanks Sarah Wilkie) was the lack of mention of the increase in trusts in public libraries.  With the apparent success of Suffolk and York as library mutuals, a fair few more authorities are thinking the same way, with probably eighteen more (and those are just the ones the media knows about, I know of others privately) considering making the move to non-profit. Bear in mind that there are already 30 or so trusts running library services in the UK and you can see what a force they have become. For the reasons for trusts see this page and against see this one, although I did both pages a while ago and they could do with updating.

One factor which could be pro or con for trusts, depending on your point of view, came home to me this week when I asked Warrington LiveWire for some information on the relative size of their new Central Library compared to the old one (I suspect it’s going to be a lot smaller as no mention of the size is mentioned in their press releases), reductions to their bookfund in the last few years and to the extent of their professional staffing. They simply pointed out to me that as a Trust, they are not obliged to answer Freedom of Information requests.


National news

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what statutory duties local authorities have to provide library and library-related services.” Lord Greaves, Liberal Democrat.

“The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 places a duty on local authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. It is for individual local authorities to determine how best to provide this.” Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Parliamentary Under Secretary for DCMS. Hansard.

  • How to use colouring books for adults in the libraryCILIP. “It is commonly said that there is a crossover with mindfulness and also with meditation, in that colouring is an activity in which the brain is engaged just enough to inhibit circular, anxious thinking, but not so much that it’s draining. There has also been some indication from reviewers that those who struggle with dexterity in their hands find it physically beneficial. “
  • Nielsen book released data showing that more books are likely to be bought this Christmas – Nielsen. “In November, when the research was undertaken, nearly a third weren’t sure whether they would buy a book as a gift this Christmas, and so were still open to persuasion. However, of those who were more certain, just over half thought they would buy a book for Christmas, whereas just under half of all UK consumers had done so in 2014
  • Public Libraries 2014-15 – CIPFA / Tim Coates. Publisher document showing the recent CIPFA data on public library usage and budgets in an easy to understand presentation.
  • A vision of social justice for the profession – CILIP / David McMenemy. “Our profession should place society’s needs at the forefront of its thinking, and not the needs of any single party of government … One of the key challenges facing every profession is how they navigate the prevailing political winds of the day. From government to government it can seem that priorities change, and the temptation for professional bodies is to try to be all things to all political parties. In this piece, I will try to argue that we need a more holistic approach that is grounded in a deep understanding of the overarching approaches to social justice that inform all the main political parties in the modern era.” … ” there are clear dangers to intellectual freedom in a situation where religious organisations can organise and manage public libraries and their collections.”

“the era of individualism is one where the ­library profession in the UK allowed itself to be led by government priorities and ­focus on a more commercialised approach to service delivery, where individualism was interpreted in a reductive, market-oriented way rather than one based around autonomy as a means of empowerment. This was a strategic error in my view.”

International news

  • Russia – Russia, free librarian Natalya Sharina – Amnesty International. “Natalya Sharina, director of the Library of Ukrainian Literature in Moscow, was arrested in October after police raided her home and workplace looking for ‘extremist literature’. After they allegedly found work by a banned writer, Natalya was forced to spend two nights in a prison cell and now faces up to five years in jail – simply for exercising her right to freedom of expression. Natalya is not a criminal – demand that the Russian authorities drop all charges and release her immediately.”
  • Spain – Estudio Beldarrain uses reclaimed railway sleepers to extend Spanish library – De Zeen.
  • USA – 11 Apps and Sites for Learning to Code – Free Tech 4 Teachers. Good overview of options from Scratch to CodeMonkey to Crunchzilla.
  • USA – James Patterson announces gifts to booksellers, libraries – Mail Online. “James Patterson’s $2 million holiday gift program, with grants and bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to schools and libraries and independent bookstores and coordinated with the Scholastic Reading Club and the trade group the American Booksellers Association. Patterson announced Tuesday that 340 libraries and 87 independent bookstore employees had received money.”
  • USA – A Library on Every (Other) Block: Small Community Builds 35 Places to Borrow a Book – NPQ. “The little free libraries were not the community’s first solution to the crisis of being temporarily without their regular library. Karen Dreyfuss and volunteers first formed Edgewater Reads, parking a school bus full of books in the parking of the local armory where community members could deposit or take out a book anytime they pleased. But then the little free libraries followed and endeared themselves to the community in an unexpected way. Now, even though the new library is built and open, residents are still popping them up around town.”
  • USA – Looking Back, Looking Ahead – Emerald. “As we approach the end of 2015, we asked our Library book series editors Paul T. Jaeger, John Carlo Bertot and Samantha Hines to summarize the biggest changes in Librarianship this year and what they predict to be the main changes during 2016” … “Libraries have become platforms for making, creating, and designing with 3D printing and other tools, partnerships, and leveraging the “crowd” in their communities. Libraries are now more involved in facilitation of STEM education and learning, as well as economic development.” … ““Physical space will become less important for traditional services, i.e. bookshelves, but more valued for what it contributes to a community.””
  • USA – Robots Doing Library Work: Sustaining Human Connections in the Age of Self-Service – Library lost and found. “The holidays are upon us and this can be a particularly harried, stressful, and lonely time for people. So by all means, provide the express checkouts and the self-serve kiosks. Get those busy people on their way! But think twice before you send someone who has come to the desk to one of the machines. Machines can take money and even check in books, but they can’t tell someone to have a nice day with kind eyes and a genuine voice. That’s a job for a human being.”


Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Birmingham Central Library torn down forever as diggers begin work – Birmingham Mail. Old library being demolished. “The beginning of the end of the old building began on Monday morning as part of a £500 million redevelopment of the Paradise Circus site making way for offices, a hotel and works to re-route traffic. The concrete library was opened in 1974 and for a while was one of the largest public libraries in Europe.”
  • Birmingham – Birmingham libraries should be ‘re-imagined’ to survive – Birmingham Post. “The Friends of the Library of Birmingham group and Birmingham Against The Cuts both called on the council leadership to stand up to the Government over the funding cuts. But councillor Clancy, who has been leader for just two weeks, responded that, under the partnership deal with the Brasshouse Language Centre, the Library of Birmingham would now have longer opening hours next year. He said: “We have made some progress in relation to its opening hours. The Library of Birmingham is a real headache. We have to look at it as an asset.”
  • Croydon – Scudamore rides to library rescue with extra £50,000 grant – Inside Croydon. “Bryher Scudamore, one of the trustees, has told Inside Croydon that she is “delighted” that the Upper Norwood Library Trust has squeezed an additional £50,000 over two years from Lambeth Council for the running of the facility.” … ““This is in addition to the £60,000 per annum already agreed and will be delivered in partnership with Lambeth Council and the London Community Foundation, subject to final due diligence. We will be working closely with Croydon Council over the weeks ahead to align their funding to give us the budget we need to ensure a thriving neighbourhood library and community hub.” see also Council’s £29 million cuts herald another three years of austerity in Croydon – Croydon Advertiser.
  • Devon – Community and staff to run libraries – Tavistock Times Gazette. “Council chiefs have agreed that Libraries Unlimited, the new ‘public service mutual’ set up by the council, will take over the library service in April 2016. The move is set to secure the future of all 50 of the county’s libraries and save the authority a further £1.5-million in addition to the £3-million it has already saved from its library service budget over the past three years.”
  • East Sussex – East Sussex libraries could cut hours to save running costs – BBC. “Councillors have voted to put the plans out to consultation, which would see libraries opening at 10:00 and closing at 17:30, and 18:00 on Thursdays. Libraries which open on a Saturday would continue to do so. Cutting the hours by about 25% would cut running costs by £500,000 a year.”
  • Lancashire – Library users hit by fee hikes as axe hovers over 40 sites – Accrington Observer. “The increases, which include a 2,067 per cent hike in loans from the British Library which was introduced this month, will see fines of 15p per day for late returns, and removal of fine exemptions for the elderly and vulnerable. Under current rules, there are a number of exemptions to fines including over-65s and people with disabilities and long-term health conditions, but they will not be exempt when new rules are introduced. The Observer has mounted a campaign to save our libraries, including Accrington, Oswaldtwistle, Great Harwood, Rishton and Clayton-le-Moors, with our petition so far signed by 1,116 supporters.”
  • Leicestershire – Leicestershire’s latest community library opens – ITV. “Leicestershire’s latest community partnership library opens its doors later today, when the county council hands over the keys to local residents in the village of Sileby. The library will be open from 2pm to 5pm today. The county council says it needs to make £800,000 of savings in its library service, meaning that it has asked 36 communities to manage their own libraries. It’s hoped 30 of those communities will reach an agreement on their local library by April next year.”
  • Lincolnshire – Letter: The future of Lincolnshire libraries is still uncertain… but we have to make the best of it – Lincolnshire Echo. “It must be remembered that the hubs have only four years’ funding secured. The contract pays for up to 40 community hubs, but so far only 34 are identified. We have lost three libraries so far and just under half are still not open. It is very hard to identify the real savings. On top of the contract, the council will still be paying separately for county overheads to oversee the contract service, for the buildings, mobile library fleet, and IT. These are still subject to the council’s budget decisions next year. The self-service book borrowing system has been a mainstay for voluntary-run libraries, but the IT is not in the new contract. A new system will need new funding.”
  • North Yorkshire – Leaders say maximum council tax rise “almost inevitable” for North Yorkshire, as they brace themselves for £60 million cuts – Gazette and Herald. “Cllr Les and the authority’s chief executive Richard Flinton are trumpeting the council’s community partnerships – including volunteer-run libraries – and “investments to save” – like the Living Well programme which puts money into preventative work to help older people stay independent in their own homes – and save on costly care packages in the long run.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Narberth library calls for volunteers to save resource – Carmarthen Journal. “Pembrokeshire County Council has confirmed that if members of the ‘Friends of Narberth Library’ do not step in to help, the building will close in April.”
  • Plymouth – Interior designer appointed for Plymouth’s new Central Library – Plymouth Herald. ““People told us they wanted a more exciting library offer for Plymouth and this innovative and dynamic company will help us create a welcoming and vibrant space. “During the consultation we were asked for a café and some outside space, so we’re providing a café on the first floor and we’re using the vacant car park next door to create a roof terrace with views over the city centre. “We’ve added an extra entrance on Mayflower Street to provide easy access and increased the amount of study space available. “The whole building will be accessible to anyone in a wheelchair and will have plenty of toilets.”
  • Redbridge – Reporters to work from library as part of weekly’s office move – Hold the Front Page. “The move to Maritime House, Barking, which is around 2.5 miles away, will see Ilford Recorder reporters working once a week from Redbridge Central Library at designated times, after discussions between the newspaper and Redbridge Borough Council.
  • Shetland – Merry Christmas Everybody” from Shetland Library.
  • Warrington – Warrington plans £5m heritage hub – Designing Libraries. “Expanding our library into a central town centre location will allow LiveWire to bring its library offer into the 21st century, providing a modern, exciting and interactive environment for users so they can use the library space differently and for longer.” A new library venue will also allow the organisation to provide a larger digital offer to reflect the digital age and remain relevant in the future. The new building will be easier for users to access as it is closer to transport links and would be able to offer have longer opening hours.” [Warrington Livewire have refused a request for information on the size on the new library, in relation to the old, as well as other requests for information on bookfung and staffing – Ed.]
  • Worcestershire – Library users warned The Hive and other county libraries will have different opening times over Christmas periodWorcester News. “We would like to wish all of our library customers a happy festive season and remind everyone that if you are a member of Worcestershire’s libraries even when the libraries are closed you can still get access to eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines and your account on your laptop, tablet or other mobile device – and it’s free.” “