I was delighted to receive a piece by Zoey Dixon on Fun Palaces in Libraries.  They’re creative and popular, causing an extra 5,000 (five thousand!) people to visit a Lambeth library in one day.  It doesn’t cost much and really fits in with encouraging science and the arts in libraries.  Another great idea is from Essex, where a “Memory Support Library Card” means those who have dementia will not have to pay late fees.  A simple, understandable, idea which it would be great to see go national.



National news

  • ACE awards £30,000 to support network for civic museums – Museums Association. “The funding, which is for 2015-16, “is to create support networks for senior professionals from local authority cultural trusts, to help encourage the sharing of skills, knowledge and best practice in the museums and libraries sector”, said an ACE spokeswoman.” … “The funding comes from ACE’s managed funds, which are designed to “establish new partnerships and address particular ambitions for growth” and are not normally open to application. Including library professionals in the network is an option but not a stipulation of the funding, she added.”
  • Bazalgette steps down as ACE chair – BookSeller.  Libraries not mentioned.
  • Code Green Digital Making Learning and Showcase Event – Society of Chief Librarians. “an opportunity for library staff to experience hands-on digital making demonstrations, hear about great ideas and work up practical plans to develop digital making in their library service. The event will feature Code Club, Raspberry Pi Foundation, Coder Dojo, FutureLearn, Apps for Good and many other digital making organisations.”
  • Edge Awards – Entries open until 1st February for any project which “Show or sell benefits of library and information services to other sectors, organisations and communities; Demonstrate innovation and creativity; Increase participation” … “The awards are open to global applications. Finalists will be offered 2 free places at the Gala Dinner.”
  • Fun Palaces in Public Libraries: What, How and Why … the case study of Lambeth  – Public Libraries News. Zoey Dixon from Lambeth explains the why, hows and whats of running a Fun Palace.

“This strategic Libraries Health Partnership is a critical resource for 21st century communities and our reimagining of health and wellbeing in the heart of the places we live and work. As hubs of learning – places of imagination – and as social condensers – we must support this initiative before libraries are relegated to history” . Clive Parkinson , Director, Arts for Health, Manchester Metropolitan University.

    • Yoga, stand-up comedy, silent bears and screaming… – Unison. “The sound of children, exhorted to raise their voices as loudly as possible in a chorus of “row, row, row your boat”, is perhaps not what you’d expect in a library. But instead of being shushed into silence by scowling adults, the morning’s smallest visitors to the Blackheath library in Sandwell are urged to “scream!” And they give it their very best. Blackheath is one of three libraries in Sandwell: a cheery, new building that seems at odds on a traditional high street, but you don’t have to be there long to realise that it has already sealed its place as a hub of the local community.”

International news

  • Spain – Bookfacing – Barcelona’s Libraries show off the best pictures from their #bookfacefridays
  • Canada – Grande Prairie Public Library honours anonymous benefactor – CBC. “It was discovered at the time of his death in 2010, that Janssen donated over $200,000 to his local library anonymously. When he died, he left them a bequest that totals to almost $1 million. The library is now honouring his donations and memory with the Willie Janssen Discovery Room. “
  • USA – Librarianship Doesn’t Need Professionals – ACR Log. “People say, “you need to be more professional” when what they really mean to say is “you need to fall in line” or “I don’t like that tattoo” or “hey, tuck in that shirt!” Professionalism is a word people use to maintain and enforce the status quo. Professionalism doesn’t take risks; it encourages conformity. Can you simultaneously call yourself a professional and advocate for radical change? Professionalism is safe and it is boring. I’d also argue that professionalism plays a part in reinforcing the illusion of library neutrality. I don’t want professionalism to mean putting a façade or a veneer around ourselves before we walk into work everyday”
  • Local news by authority
    • Borders – Overdue upgrade for library computers – Southern Reporter. ““We hope the provision of faster, more advanced machines will encourage even more people to use their local library and all the services on offer more often.”
    • Bradford – Councillors protest over length and location of libraries closures consultation meeting – Telegraph and Argus. “A decision to allocate only one hour for a meeting on the future of four Bradford Council libraries has sparked protest by some councillors. The Labour-controlled authority is proposing that all bar seven libraries will be either be closed or run by voluntary groups as part of budget proposals to be thrashed out by the full council next month. The futures of Baildon, Burley, Menston and Silsden libraries will be consulted on at a meeting in Keighley Library from 6pm to 7pm this Thursday.” … “Bradford’s got its magnificent seven libraries it wants to keep open and it’s just tough luck for the rest of us and having such a short meeting in Keighley is an insult,” said Cllr Davies (Con, Baildon). “
    • Brent – Kilburn Library Fire – Brent Council. “The London Fire Brigade was called to Salusbury Road yesterday (18 January), following a fire on the ground floor of Kilburn Library. Council staff working at the library responded extremely quickly to successfully evacuate around 60 people to safety. Following inspection, the building has suffered smoke damage on the ground floor where the fire started and will need some minor repair work such as repainting and recarpeting. The public areas were largely unaffected but will need a deep clean before they are fit to use. The building will remain closed to the public, as it is currently without power and utilities.”
    • East Sussex – Have your say on Forest Row library opening times – East Grinstead Courier. “East Sussex County Council is proposing to reduce opening hours across all of its 24 libraries by around 25 per cent on average, in a bid to reduce its library running costs by £500,000. The consultation started on Monday and residents have 12 weeks, until April 3, to say how they use libraries and suggest what impact the proposed changes would have on them. “It’s really important that residents tell us what they think,” said Cllr Chris Dowling, lead member for community services. “We are having to make some really tough decisions to make an unprecedented level of savings over the next three years and are having to look at the way in which every service is delivered.”
    • Essex – Dementia sufferers in Essex to be exempt from paying library fines with launch of new support card – Harlow Star. “Essex County Council is launching a new Memory Support Library Card for people suffering memory loss as a result of dementia, mental health issues or learning difficulties. Holders of the card will receive the usual reminders that they have a book, DVD or CD that is overdue if it is not returned by the due date but they will be exempt from paying a fine. Anyone wanting to apply for a card can do so at their local library where the process will be quick and easy. No evidence will be required and anyone with memory problems will be eligible. The launch of the card coincides with the launch of the Pan Essex Dementia Action Alliance, which aims to raise awareness of dementia whilst developing dementia friendly communities and transform the lives of people living with the condition.”
    • Falkirk – Cuts could lead to digital deprivation – Falkirk Herald. “Union officials are worried that any reduction in service could affect support given to those most in need of help. Falkirk Community Trust is under pressure to make savings of £1.2million in 2016 to 2017 and staffing in Falkirk’s libraries could be cut, if proposals go ahead. The business plan which set out these options is now being revised as it was determined the cuts went too far.”
    • Isle of Wight – What do we do if the money runs out? council chief asks Government – On the Wight. Council ““has reached the ‘tipping point’ where it has insufficient resources available to meet its legal obligations”
    • Kent – Kent County Council proposes changes to mobile library – Kent Online. “KCC has analysed the performance of the service, saying that some stops had ‘very low’ levels of use. Findings showed that 368 stops had an average of just two visitors or less and that 50% of customers were using a library building in addition to the mobile service. It is suggested a new operating schedule from Tuesdays to Saturdays runs on alternate weeks only – some are currently weekly while a few are monthly.” … “: “I want to make economies not by closing libraries but by making better use of them.”
    • Lambeth – Strike vote to save Lambeth’s libraries – Socialist Worker. “Some 89 percent of Unison union members voted for the action. They are resisting a plan to close five libraries and turn some into gyms. This is part of a £90 million cuts package. Workers expect an announcement about redundancies this week. The strike vote follows an unofficial walkout in November. Councillors are also under pressure from a community campaign.”
    • Lincolnshire – More Austerity For LCC – Louth Eye. “Councillor Hill didn’t look very comfortable whilst people asked about street lighting, bus service cuts, potholes, high officer pay, libraries for job search, transforming to a unitary authority, and other issues. There are huge cuts coming, and there was no hiding the fact that they will be painful” … “Libraries are one of the foundations of our civilisation, making literature and learning accessible to all. It was interesting though that Luke Goodwin didn’t talk about books when he brought up libraries, but instead mentioned the computers which people can use for job searches.”

    “Update on the consultation. On 7 July 2015 the council’s executive committee agreed to the recommendations in the library report. They agreed that from Spring 2017 there would be seven core libraries, i.e. one in each district council area, which would have 60 per cent of their current staffing levels; five hybrid libraries which would have 40 per cent of their current staffing levels; and 21 community managed libraries … The executive also agreed to provide an element of staffing (between five and 15 hours) to assist each community library to become established, and to subsidise the rent and utility costs where these costs exceed income. An update report on the progress made in different communities will be going to policy and partnerships overview and scrutiny committee on 16 November (report and associated documents available NYCC website) and then to the executive on 8 December” North Yorkshire – Comment received

    • Nottinghamshire – Notts: Return to the magical world of pop-up theatre at county libraries – Chad. “giant pop-up book concealing a magical world takes centre stage for the latest theatre production to be hosted in Nottinghamshire County Council’s libraries. Pop-Up Flashback, will be performed in seven libraries in February during half term– the latest show as part of the county council’s Children’s Pop-Up Theatre project in partnership with The Spark Arts for Children.” … “The county council announced in May 2015 that it had received £82,477 National Lottery funding through Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts Libraries Fund to create the year-long Children’s Pop-Up Theatre project hosting exciting family theatre productions in Nottinghamshire libraries.”
    • Oxfordshire – Oxfordshire council cuts ‘worse than worst-case scenario’ – BBC. “In December the local authority announced because of a “bleak settlement” from the government a further £20m might have to be found, beyond the “worst-case scenario” of £50m.” … “There will also be new cuts to training budgets and the library service. The council sets its final budget in February.”
    • Pembrokeshire – Narberth library campaign steps up a gear – Western Telegraph. “The Friends of Narberth Library have become a formally constituted organisation at a special meeting last Sunday night. ” … “Following support from the Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services, the group has settled upon four main aims that it hopes will allow it to work with Pembrokeshire County Council and Narberth Town Council to sustain a library service for the people of Narberth and the many surrounding communities. “
    • Redbridge – London Assembly candidate pledges to try to keep Woodford Green library open – Guardian series. “with Woodford Green, I think this is going to be the thin end of the wedge. Once they close one they will close another and another”
    • Redbridge – Redbridge libraries support LGBT History Month – Guardian series. “Working with The Terrence Higgins Trust, Woodford Green Library in Snakes Lane West will host a series of presentations and workshops on LGBT issues including HIV awareness and testing. “
    • Rhondda Cynon Taff – New proposed £1.1m RCT cuts to libraries, bus routes and day services should be re-thought, says Plaid leader  – Wales Online. “Among them are the introduction of single-staffed libraries – mooted for Hirwaun, Ferndale, Mountain Ash, Pontyclun and Rhydyfelin – and the plan to scrap three of RCT’s least-used bus routes, from Porth to Trehafod (Woodfield Terrace), Tonypandy to Gilfach Goch, and Fernhill to Pontypridd via Cefnpennar and Ynysybwl. In November, it was revealed 20 library staff posts could be affected by a loss of pay, while 15 staff could be at the threat of redundancy.”

    “What would happen, for instance, if the single staff member needed to use the bathroom? Presumably, staff would have to shut the library, leaving customers waiting outside which would be unsatisfactory, particularly in inclement weather.” Leanne Wood, Plaid Cymru Leader.

    • Sandwell – Opening times cut back at archives in cash-strapped council’s bid to save £40m – Express and Star. “The archives, based inside Smethwick Library, in High Street, will see weekly hours reduced from 34 to 24 – with the service also being closed on a Tuesday.”
    • Shropshire – Shifnal Library to be refurbished ahead of transfer to town council – Shropshire Live. “Shifnal Library and Customer Service Point will be temporarily closed from Monday 1 February 2016 for refurbishment, as part of the transfer of the library to Shifnal Town Council. The transfer follows a public consultation led by Shropshire Council, in which proposals for the future of the library and customer service point were put forward for residents to consider. A total of 89% of respondents opted for the transfer of the library to Shifnal Town Council.” .. “A mobile library will be available for customers wanting to use their local library service most Saturdays from 10am to 1pm, until the reopening of the library.”
    • Somerset – Listening, Learning, Changing – The future of hubs and libraries – Somerset County Council. “The way people use libraries is changing and we have a plan, which sets out how we will do everything we can to keep all libraries in Somerset open. This includes a change in library opening hours. For more information about our plans, please take a look at the Listening Learning Changing – The future of hubs and libraries – Proposals below. Further information is also available and include …”
    • Staffordshire – Author Lee Child New is borrowers’ favourite as Staffordshire Libraries launch online e-hub – Staffordshire. “Visitors to the Staffordshire Libraries webpages can view books in all formats from the same catalogue, in the same search. The e-Hub, which can be found at the same web address, replaces the old online catalogue and has a number of added features and benefits.”
    • Suffolk – Library as a Lifeline – Writer’s Centre Norwich. “Since we moved out of the county council in August 2012, our repertoire as a service has expanded. Take a look at our website, and you’ll find that you can download and borrow ebooks, eaudio and download and keep magazines and music – all of this is free. There’s also a whole range of activities going on, from music gigs to crime festivals, writing groups to tablet courses, and magic shows to visits by owls. All of this is provided by enthusiastic and passionate library staff with the support and assistance of committed volunteers from community Friends groups.”
    • Telford and Wrekin – Newport Library being ‘discriminated against’, says Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard Shropshire Star. “He has vowed to help with the fight to save Newport Library following Telford & Wrekin Council’s 2016 budget plans. This comes after the town rallied together to protest against the possible closure last Wednesday. About 100 people gathered outside the library on the High Street. The MP, who fought to save the library while he was a parliamentary candidate, has held an emergency meeting with bosses at the borough council.”
    • Warwickshire – Alcester Library to close for over two weeks before moving to Globe House Cultural Hub – Redditch Advertiser. Library  to include “Town Council, Roman Alcester Museum, a range of voluntary organisations, council services and police reporting services. The old library building is to be sold and the proceeds used to generate funds to set up at Globe House, the former office of Stratford District Council, which in recent years had became redundant.
    • Worcestershire – Midlands poet helps Bromsgrove celebrate National Libraries Day – Bromsgrove Advertiser. “The visit by poet Liz Berry, will be the first to be organised in the new Parkside development, and is being supported by Poetry on Loan, a scheme which works with local libraries in the West Midlands to promote new poetry”