Good to see some more publicity for the campaign for the statutory nature of libraries: Joanne Trollope leads a useful article in the Guardian. It’s a shame, though, that there’s still at time of writing fewer than 10,000 names on the petition. Time to encourage some more to sign.  This is especially important as the cuts march on. Newcastle have announced that total opening hours will be more than halved, which is pretty major.


National news

  • An interoperable sort of day… – Changing Libraries. ” I’d be the first to acknowledge that the BiblioCommons report concerns itself with much wider issues than the existing systems infrastructure but a significant part of its recommendations appears to suggest that the only way forward is for them to write new code to create a new BiblioCommons software layer on top of the various existing LMS systems, pending migrating everyone to a new, purpose-built BiblioCommons LMS at some future date. One might argue that the same result might be achieved more cheaply by awarding a contract to a single supplier now and cutting out the highly risky intermediate stage recommended by BiblioCommons. But then that is what they do for a living.”

“The scope of BiblioCommons report was to consider the position for England so they didn’t do any research into other countries though it was useful to hear – anecdotally in our discussions with them – about North American libraries. … this piece of work was an initial piece of research and development. We really value the work that BiblioCommons did for us – they brought new insight and energy to us – but the work is now at an end and any subsequent development will be subject to an open tender and is likely to be iterative – testing and developing the ‘value proposition’ for library users and non-users. In short, we will be very open to other suppliers looking at a variety of technical solutions. Just to be clear, the work that BiblioCommons did was advertised widely and any supplier could have tendered for the work.” Ciara Eastell, President of Society of Chief Librarian [In response to email questions sent – Ed.]

  • Authors lead support for My Library By Right campaign – BookSeller. “Authors Ali Smith, Neil Gaiman and Joanna Trollope have led a wave of “tremendous support” for CILIP’s legal fight for libraries as its campaign petition tops 7,000 signatures. The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals’ (CILIP’s) My Library By Right campaign, which aims to hold the government to account over its legal responsibilities to provide library services, has been bolstered by “high-profile” support from the authors and also former poet laureate and chair of the museums, libraries and archives council, Sir Andrew Motion.” … “Campaign supporters and the library community are gearing up for the annual nationwide celebration of libraries for National Libraries Day on Saturday 6th February, and the campaign will take its concerns to parliament on Tuesday 9th February in a parliamentary lobby led by the Speak Up For Libraries coalition. The campaign is based on legal advice from human rights barrister Eric Metcalfe of Monckton Chambers.”

“The 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act affirmed the Public Libraries Act of 1850 and neither act has been rescinded – the closures are against the law,” she said. “Democracy of reading, democracy of space: that’s our library tradition, it was incredibly hard won for us by the generations before us, and we should be protecting it not just for ourselves but in the name of every generation after us.” Ali Smith

  • Joanna Trollope: ‘UK cannot afford to close one single public library’ – Guardian. “Ahead of National Libraries Day on 6 February, authors such as Neil Gaiman, Ali Smith and Andrew Motion join campaign to stem closures” … “The UK is in “absolutely no position to dare to close one single public library”, the bestselling novelist Joanna Trollope has said. She is just one of a host of major literary names throwing their weight behind a new campaign to hold the government to account for failing to keep libraries open”
  • Library websites ‘need to break free from councils’ – Public Technology. “A new study concluded that because library websites are currently buried within local authority websites, they are difficult to find and navigate. It added that search-engine optimisation for library services is poor, with appearances a rarity in searches for book reviews or discussions. The report said to improve the situation would involve “moving away from monolithic architectures where data is not comprehensive, comparable, or actionable to modular architectures where it can be leveraged at a national scale”.”
  • Snooper’s charter: cafes and libraries face having to store Wi-Fi users’ data – Guardian. “Coffee shops running Wi-Fi networks may have to store internet data under new snooping laws, Theresa May has said. Small-scale networks such as those in cafes, libraries and universities could find themselves targeted under the legislation and forced to hand over customers’ confidential personal data tracking their web use.”

International news

  • USA -Coming soon to your local library: Wireless hotspots you can borrow for free – Digital Trends. “We’ve all heard of the ways our libraries are evolving for the 21st century. Whether it’s by providing free e-readers to loan, or access to 3D printers and other public tools, libraries are very interested in staying relevant, even if it means going beyond books and magazines. One library is even offering free LTE hotspots for patrons to borrow as part of a nationwide pilot run powered by T-Mobile.”
  • USA – In Age of Google, Librarians Get Shelved – Passive Voice. “The mood among some librarians is pessimistic. A New Mexico librarian recently told me: “I spend most of my time making change and showing people how to print from the computer or use the copier. I sure don’t get the reference questions like I used to.” A colleague in the Washington, D.C., area expressed similar views: “If I didn’t spend my time helping people look for lost keys, wallets, jackets, sweaters, gloves, backpacks, cellphones and laptops, I’m not sure I’d even have a job.””
  • USA – You are not what you read: librarians purge user data to protect privacy – Guardian. “Last week, with little fanfare, the Graduate Center at the City University of New York did something very few private companies would ever do to protect its users’ privacy: it quietly began to purge its interlibrary loan records. “This policy change is motivated by the idea that libraries should not keep more information about their users’ requests than necessary,” wrote Beth Posner, head of library resource sharing at the school.” … ““I was approached years ago at a different library about users who’d checked out certain astrological books,” said Thistlethwaite. The NYPD officer told her he was looking for the Zodiac killer. “Most police investigations are a little smarter than that, but sometimes they’re just not.””

Local news by authority

  • Cambridgeshire – Further £500,000 earmarked for cuts in Cambridgeshire libraries – now is the chance to have your say – Cambridge News. “The council is looking to save a further £500,000 from its library budget, having already cut £2.5 million over the past five years. Previous savings have been made from back office support, management costs and a more self-service approach. Fresh proposals include reducing opening hours at larger libraries, cutting staff and spending less on new library stock. The council has already started a cross party group which has been looking at ways of increasing income.” … “Although current options do not include transferring any libraries to the community at this stage, this may still be an option the following year when even more savings are needed.”
  • Cardiff – Changes for Cardiff Executive Summary of the Consultation Results and Feedback Report on the City of Cardiff Council’s 2015/16 Budget Proposal – Cardiff Council. “Whilst some practical concerns were expressed about community groups and third sector organisations being asked to run more local services and facilities, there is a clear support (74.6%) for volunteers assisting in a new approach to library services.   ” … “The highest level of agreement was found regarding the Council’s proposal to transform Central Library into a Community Hub (74.1% / 2,794). The public expressed less agreement in instances where it was proposed that the Council withdraw funding from specific facilities with high numbers opposingi.e. (i.e Whitchurch 49.1%, Rhiwbina 49%, Cathays 46.4%, Rhydypennau 44.4%, Roath 44.1%, Radyr 41.8%, Rumney 39.2%)

“Comments reveal, however, public concerns regarding a move to this means for service delivery.  It was feared that an overreliance on volunteers and their good will could affect quality of provision and undermine the professional skills demonstrated by existing libraries staff. ” “

  • Ceredigion – Report of the Strategic Director for Sustainable Communities – Ceredigion Council. “It is recommended that the Morgan Street building be refurbished to accommodate a library on the ground floor as outlined above, and that the current lease at Canolfan Teifi be terminated accordingly.”
  • Devon – Libraries Unlimited leadership line up announced – Devon County Council. “A Magistrate from East Devon, an Exeter based Artistic Director, an expert Business Growth Coach and a former BBC World Service Journalist are among those who have been appointed to help run Devon’s libraries.Libraries Unlimited, the new independent public service mutual set up by the County Council and tasked with delivering Devon’s library service from April, has recruited four independent trustees to join its board. Two staff trustees and two community trustees will also join the board, after being elected as representatives by their peers.Alongside the organisation’s new Chief Executive Ciara Eastell and the Board’s Chair, Julie Dent, they will work with library staff to deliver a modern, vibrant and sustainable library service for Devon.”
  • Hampshire – Executive Member reassures young reader during meeting at her local library– Hantsweb. “Councillor Andrew Gibson met Alexandra Kelly, 11, at Yateley library, after she wrote a letter highlighting how much she and her family value her local library. The County Council has so far received more than 8,600 responses to its consultation on the draft Library Strategy, which includes a proposal to standardise services by placing Hampshire libraries into four tiers, based on how busy they are.”
  • Isle of Wight – How is the council going to survive? – On the Wight. £50m in cuts council-wide. “The services the council provide are split into two: Statutory – the services that by law they must provide, like safeguarding children; and Discretionary – services they provide as part of making society work, like environmental health. A list of which service falls into which category has been provided below.” – [List of services marks libraries as discretionary and not, as is correct, statutory – Ed.]
  • Lambeth – Lambeth library cuts: staff to strike over ‘cultural vandalism’ – London SE1. “Several Labour Party branches in Lambeth have passed motions criticising their own council’s library cuts. Cllr Jane Edbrooke, cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, said: “I understand the frustrations of those working at our libraries, but this potential industrial action is unhelpful. “We have worked with community groups and organisations and been imaginative in our proposals that keep the majority of our libraries open – while helping make us make the £200 million in savings needed in response to Government budget cuts.”
  • Lambeth – MP urges council to change mind on library – Brixton Blog. “Lambeth MP Kate Hoey has said that “even at this late stage” the council should change its priorities on the future of Tate South Lambeth Library (TSL). The library is one of three in the borough that will be turned into gyms run by the council’s leisure provider GLL in plans to save money because of cuts in ventral government grants. But it is also the leading library in the whole of the UK in the use of digital technology to help people with sight problems and will lose a new cutting-edge aid if the gym plan goes ahead.” see also Lambeth library cuts: staff to strike over ‘cultural vandalism’ – London SE1.

  • Lancashire – Tweet by Lancashire Conservative Group (above).
  • Lincolnshire – Free sticker book gets families to libraries – Horncastle News. “Children’s reading charity, BookTrust has written and produced a sticker storybook to encourage more children to visit their local library in 2016. Children can collect stickers every time they visit a library and put them in special sticker book to take home. The new book called, Bear’s Reading Adventure, was developed in partnership with Igloo Books, after librarians reported families need more encouragement to visit libraries”
  • Lincolnshire – New community library opens in Spilsby – ITV, “Customers will be able to borrow books as well as buying bags of shopping after the opening of a community library inside a food store in Spilsby. Lincolnshire County Council has handed over the responsibly of running 30 libraries to the community. One of these is Spilsby Library, which closed in its previous home in West End Villas last autumn, and is now being run by Lincolnshire Co-op.” … “A new library has been created inside the food store in the town’s Post Office Lane.  An area of the store which was previously used as warehouse space has been transformed into the library through the £30,000 project.” see also Latest community-run library within Lincolnshire Co-op opens its doors to users – Lincolnshire Echo. “Grandmother and library volunteer Jean Gates said she was spending up to £21 a week to take her two grandsons to exchange books in Skegness following the closure of the Spilsby library in September.”
  • Moray – Video: Moray proposes 18% council tax rise – Press and Journal. “Moray Council has taken the “bold step” of defying the Scottish Government by moving to unfreeze council tax rates. Council leader Stewart Cree announced the plans during a meeting this morning at the local authority’s headquarters in Elgin. The tax will increase by 18% under the proposals, rising annually from £756 to £892 on Band A properties and from £2,270 to £2,678 on Band H homes. The levy has been frozen for nine years, under the instruction of the Scottish Government.”
  • Newcastle – Libraries in Newcastle could have their opening times slashed in £1m savings scheme – Chronicle. “Nine libraries across Newcastle are set to have their hours slashed as part of a £30m cuts programme if plans are approved. Newcastle City Council has said Gosforth Library, East End Library and Centre Customer Outer West Library and Centre Customer Service Centre and West End Library and Centre Customer Service Centre could have their hours more than halved to 23 hours a week. All of the venues are currently open for at least 54 hours a week. Elsewhere, Fenham Library could have its hours cut to 18.5 hours per week, from 41.5 hours, Kenton Library could go from 51.5 hours to 23 hours, Newburn Library from 35.75 hours to 18.5 hours, Walker Library cut from 43 hours to 23 hours, and City Library could see hours cut from 69 hours to 49 hours. Newcastle Civic Centre’s Customer Service Centre could see its opening hours cut from 40 hours to 37.5 hours a week. The proposals are part of a plan to save £1m from the cost of running libraries and customer service centres but the council has said by cutting opening hours so savagely they have managed to avoid any full closures.”
  • Newcastle – Proposals to cut Newcastle libraries opening hours deemed ‘worrying’ – Chronicle. ““East and West Newcastle will suffer with hours in both areas significantly cut back. “Those communities are not always areas where there is good access to educational opportunities and where people have specific needs. “Kids might not be getting access to books, this would be denying people across communities.”. While the proposals are out to consultation, and Newcastle City Council has arranged three meetings to hear feedback from councillors and residents.”
  • North Yorkshire – Capita : North Yorkshire County Council selects Capita to deliver its library management system – 4-Traders. “The Council will upgrade to Capita’s fully-hosted cloud-based Chorus LMS. Chorus will reduce on-site hardware and maintenance overheads, and free library staff from routine administrative responsibilities, enabling them to be re-deployed to customer-facing tasks. The Council will also utilise Capita’s web-based staff interface Soprano, an easy to use cloud-based service that provides staff with real-time access to the LMS on any internet-enabled device.”
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Service Changes – Public Consultation: Have Your Say – RHondda Cynon Taff. “Proposal (preferred options):
    Option 2 –
    Reduction in number of Reference & Information Service Librarians – saving £37k; Option 4 – Reduce overall weekly opening hours of branch libraries to 31.5  hours per library – saving £46k; Option 7 – Single staffed branch libraries at 5 branches; (Hirwaun, Ferndale, Pontyclun, Mountain Ash, Rhydyfelin) – saving £105k; Option 9 – Reduce the Book Fund by 25%– saving £89k ; Option 12 – Reduce the Mobile Libraries from 4 to 3 retaining a 2 weekly rota – saving £37k; Option 13 – Remove Community Learning Worker post (part time) – saving £7k; Option 14 – Reduce expenditure on magazines and newspapers purchased – saving £6k. The proposed preferred options would deliver full year savings to the Council of £0.327m.”
  • Somerset – Have your say and save your library urges Cheddar resident – Cheddar Valley Gazette. “Friends of Cheddar Library (FOCL) are urging local library users to take part in the public engagement survey on libraries being run by the county council. The latest round of cuts by central government on Somerset County Council mean that Somerset Libraries Service is in the spotlight again.”
  • Staffordshire – Campaigners’ last-ditch bid to save the historic old Carnegie Library – Staffordshire Newsletter. “Tireless members of the Friends of the Old Library Trust have been trying to get £650,000 to buy the former library at The Green and turn it into an arts space. They have managed to get the building listed by English Heritage and have been holding public tours to raise awareness and search for a benefactor. But the campaigners have to hand the keys back on February 6 when the lease runs out and the site goes up for auction.”
  • Worcestershire – Victory for Worcester’s Hive as HMRC refunds £1.8 million in taxes – Worcester News. “University of Worcester has been left celebrating after the Government decided to refund £1.8 million in taxes on The Hive. The city’s gold-cladded £60 million building has been handed back its VAT costs after a long-running dispute involving fierce lobbying with the Treasury and ministers. For the last four years Worcester MP Robin Walker has been arguing that The Hive should be treated like any public building and be spared a VAT bill on its construction costs.”