Good to see Herefordshire finally ordering the removal of asbestos at Hereford Central Library.  It has been closed since September and, combined with the proposed other cuts to the service, the council was beginning to strain any credible definition of a “comprehensive and efficient” library service. The council is now working with a library user group to work out plans for the library.

The “library of things” idea, where one can borrow all sorts of items (from lawn mowers to pictures to fishing rods) seems to be, if not fully accepted, in the USA then at least at the stage that Maker Spaces were two or three years ago there.  See the article in the international section below. And, like with Maker Spaces at the same time, UK public libraries haven’t touched the idea yet, with those examples I’ve seen not being in public libraries.  We will see whether it is a flash in the pan or a trend that we should be picking up on in due course, and hopefully not too late.

National news

  • Libraries to retain online research service – UK Authority.
  • ‘Open+’ denying access to U16/18’s & Bibliotheca grants for National Libraries Day  – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. Concerned that under 16s will not be admitted into libraries during Open+ times. “Public libraries are supposed to be inclusive spaces not ones that restrict access to a crucially important user group and denies that user group the right to be independent and empowered. This is an incredibly worrying and retrograde development and one that library workers, users, campaigners, unions et al should be resisting and speaking up about. I’ve also noted recently with dismay that Bibliotheca are offering grants for National Libraries Day. As well as denying access to U16/18’s many councils are using ‘open+’ (and self-serve technology developed by the same company) to cull library workers so Bibliotheca offering up funds for NLD is a bit like Capita offering Barnet Unison money towards it’s strike fund” see also A library glossary #3 
  • Report to recommend £20m digital investment in libraries – BookSeller. “A report commissioned by the Society of Chief Librarians, to be released on Monday (11th January), will recommend a £20m investment in a “unified digital platform” for English libraries. However this investment risks “losing sight” of the immediate challenges facing libraries, campaigners have said. Financed by Arts Council England (ACE), the report has been produced by commercial library services provider Bibliocommons. A draft of the report was released in September and argued that the investment was necessary to prevent libraries from becoming “soup kitchens for the written word.” An “enriched digital offer” will “provide leverage and cohesiveness” for library services, and meet the demands of users who journey “online and off” to library institutions, the draft report said.”
  • Tory cuts mean two libraries close for good every week- with hundreds more under threat – Mirror. “More libraries are facing closure as George Osborne’s brutal cuts to local government spending look set to bite ” … “Nick Poole of the Institute of Library and Information Professionals told the Sunday People : “It’s hard to understand the impact of these cuts when you’re well-off, have easy access to the internet and can buy the books you want. “But for millions of poor families, jobseekers and people with disabilities a library is a lifeline.””

International news

  • USA – New high-tech library opens in east-central Fresno – Fresno Bee. “Housed in the former site of a Fresh & Easy store, the nearly 14,000-square-foot Betty Rodriguez Regional Library replaces a building about half the size in a strip mall at the nearby corner of Clinton and Cedar avenues. “This is an example of a Fresno neighborhood that could go either way. It’s a neighborhood that could be revitalized and brought back to life, but it’s also a neighborhood that could continue to deteriorate,” said Clint Olivier, the Fresno City Council member who represents the east-central district. “With the opening of the Walmart Neighborhood Market and this library, this intersection is alive again.”  The new library features 25 computers, a 3-D printer, robotics kits and the most up-to-date learning technology, said Laurel Prysiazny, the county librarian. The new library also features a meeting room for 50, group study spaces and a separate quiet room.”
  • USA – A new “library of things” lets you test your hidden genius by borrowing nearly anything – Plaid Zebra. “According to their website, to borrow an item you must be at least 18 years old, unless borrowing a video game. Customers can browse the online catalog and place holds on items that they want to take out. Once the item becomes available, the borrower first in line can pick the item up. … Prior to borrowing, a lending agreement must be signed, which lays out the guidelines. Customers may only borrow one item at a time. An item may be borrowed for three weeks, and may be renewed up to six times, but only if there is not another borrower waiting. The overdue fine is $1 per day, and the borrower is responsible for taking care of the item and will be billed accordingly if it is lost or returned damaged. Some of the items available to borrow are: a ukulele, keyboard, drums, guitars, sewing machine, button maker, laminator, screen printing kit, GoPro camera, projector and a collection of 55 video games and 62 board games.”

Local news by authority

“When we were examining possible savings we looked at what £25m worth of cuts would look like and decided there were things on that list like our libraries, leisure centres and children’s centres that we simply couldn’t cut because of how important they are to the local community. Those proposals might now have to come back on to the table, an idea I find repellent, because of this change in our savings target.”

  • Bradford – Residents start campaign to save libraries in Bradford South – Telegraph and Argus. “Last month, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe warned that libraries across the district could shut if volunteers did not step forward to run them.  … Mrs Haxby, who said the campaign was in its early days, added: “Everybody is just devastated. They have not left us a single library on this side of the city. Mrs Haxby, who is a member of the book club at the library, continued: “The library is a hub for the community. It is always full of people reading newspapers, borrowing books, and using the computers.”
  • Bradford – Two senior councillors given hour-long grilling from supporters of under-threat library – Telegraph and Argus. “Council leader Councillor David Green and executive member Councillor Ralph Berry, both Labour councillors for Wibsey, were met with a 60-strong crowd when they turned up at Wibsey library for their regular advice surgery on Saturday. Wibsey is one of a host of libraries that could be closed if volunteers don’t come forward to run them, under cost-cutting proposals put forward by Bradford Council’s Labour administration.”.  Forecast halving of total council budget blames, existence of volunteer libraries (inc. extension of hours at Wrose) noted as is proposed complete absence of a council public library in South Bradford.
  • Bristol – Bristol Central Library to be closed in March  – Bristol 247. “Bristol Central Library will be shut on weekdays for four weeks in March as work is carried out to prepare the basement for the Cathedral Primary School. The school got planning permission last year for its controversial move underneath the library on College Green. As part of the move, glass blocks in the library floor are being restored to bring more light into the school below.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire West and Chester libraries to stage Health and Wellbeing Week – Chester Chronicle. “Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Libraries Service has organised a health and wellbeing week and is promoting a range of activities to help people stay fit and well. Health and Wellbeing Week takes place between January 18 and 23 in libraries across Cheshire West and Chester.”
  • Croydon – Drama, Spanish and family history: library offers classes – Inside Croydon. “A history project and a drama class for adults suffering from depression and other mental health conditions are among a range of groups offering education and training sessions in a range of life skills which have successfully bid to stage their activities at Upper Norwood Library. The groups’ activities are to be funded by Upper Norwood Library Trust.”
  • Dundee – Council says £23m of cuts will affect ‘every part of Dundee’ – Evening Telegraph. Unison: ““It could be support staff at schools, it could be facilities like libraries facing closure.”
  • East Sussex – Your chance to comment on proposed cuts to Uckfield library opening hours – Uckfield News. “hours at Uckfield public library could be cut by a quarter from next autumn. The changes would target the hours least used by borrowers. The aim is to reduce library running costs by around £500,000 helping towards the library service’s savings target of £2 million over the next three years.”
  • Fife – Council urged to ‘see sense’ on Fife libraries’ future – Courier. “Residents are to be given a chance to have their say on the future of libraries, museums and adult learning. Leicestershire County Council needs to slash a massive £1.8 million from its budget and will soon launch a consultation on the future shape of its communities and wellbeing service. It currently spends £5.7 million per year.”
  • Herefordshire – Start date confirmed for asbestos removal at Hereford Library and Museum – Hereford Times. “It is expected to take five to six weeks to complete. Plans to spend £86,000 on the removal were approved at December’s cabinet meeting as well as a mmitment to spend a further £900,000 on the library. The council is now working with the Hereford Library Users Group to look at ways of providing an enhanced library facility and service for the people of Herefordshire.”
  • Isle of Man – Library turns over a new leaf – IOM Today. “The Henry Bloom Noble library has moved to the old Top Shop building on Duke Street. Before that the buildng was the main Co-op in th town. The library has a study area with learning resources, a children’s area where storytelling will take place and access to e-books and audio books. Regeneration committee chairman Councillor John Skinner said: ‘There is a school of thought that would suggest libraries have limited or no place in the digital age. This is not a view held by the council, which sees the library as an asset very much at the heart of the community.’”
  • Lambeth – Internal Labour opposition to book-ish gyms grows as local Labour branch meetings pass motions condemning the move – Brixton Buzz. “Internal Labour opposition to book-ish gyms grows as local Labour branch meetings pass motions condemning the move”
  • Lancashire – Disabled woman’s fear as axe hovers over “lifeline” libraries – Accrington Observer. Library user visits library every week, disabled but uses leg brace to walk the half mile. Fines no longer exempt for her.
  • Lancashire – Rallying call to have say on planned cuts – LEP. Unison protest “They wanted to highlight the changes proposed for libraries, transport to day care centres, jointly-funded police and community support officers (PCSOs) and other areas.”
  • Leicestershire – Chance to have a say on Leicestershire budget cuts  – Hinckley Times.
  • Norfolk – People show their love for libraries during protest against proposed Norfolk County Council cuts – Eastern Daily Press. “The event, at the Millennium Library in Norwich this afternoon, saw members of the Norfolk People’s Assembly hand out leaflets outlining their opposition to proposals that could see staffed opening times reduced, less money spent on library stocks, and reductions to the mobile library service. They are part of the Norfolk County Council’s budget consultation, which closes on January 14. Kate Baczkowska, 11, from Long Stratton, showed her support for the library by writing on one of the dozens of red paper hearts that were then stuck on columns and book displays in the library.” see also Austerity Cuts continue to hit Library Services in Norfolk, locals Protest – Katyjon.
  • North Yorkshire – Letters round-up – Gazette and Herald / Letters. “It has become not just a library but a wonderful, multi-purpose resource. Its position in the centre of Pickering in a very attractive, light, airy, spacious building means that it is at the heart of the community. The staff have worked tirelessly to maintain this invaluable establishment. Extremely harsh government cuts have resulted in North Yorkshire County Council reducing funding for many aspects of community life. The dedication shown by Liz and the hard-working staff is to be repaid in 2017, not with thanks, but with offers of early retirement, loss of jobs and a library which is to be run by volunteers with possibly one paid professional in attendance.”