Some major cuts announced in Telford & Wrekin as well as in Flintshire today. In other news, there’s a heap of blogs on the Libraries Task Force webpage, although they are of widely variable quality.  The best is the one on Amazon lockers because, although it does not point out the obvious downside of advertising the ethically dubious and cut-throat competitor to libraries, it provided usable statistics and analysis.  The danger with some of the others produced is that they read awfully like press releases (and in one case something like a holiday postcard) and, being they are on the gov.uk site, will be give more credence than if they were directly published by the councils themselves.  Libraries don’t just need ideas and innovations, they need evidence to work out which options are best to go down … and that means statistics and analysis, not just blurb.

One problem caused by library services not sure as to what to do is in internet filtering their public access machines.  Recent research shows that such filtering not only can block useful search terms (including LGBT) but also cost a fortune as well.  As librarians we should be able to work out what keywords make sense to block, if any, ourselves. It’s notable that some services don’t filter at all and yet have somehow managed to avoid imploding. Library services are often shamefully unsure about the IT side and, to be fair, sometimes these filters may be put on by corporate IT without even any consultation with librarians. However, spending a load of money on services that may block genuine searches is perhaps not the best thing to do, let alone what it may be say about our willingness to censor when we should all be about freedom of information.




  • Amazon lockers in libraries – Libraries Task Force. “West Sussex had the lockers installed at three of their largest libraries; Chichester, Horsham and Crawley in December 2012. They have a large bank of lockers at each location but there is also the option to have smaller sizes. West Sussex considered where to best place the lockers before the Amazon team assessment. The lockers must be visible, secure, in well lit places and in venues with good opening hours. Increasingly, they are looking for locations that are open beyond normal working hours. Installation was straightforward and only involved putting in a BT line which Amazon organised and paid for. Once the lockers are in, no library staff involvement is required. West Sussex have experienced no operational problems. The use of these lockers should be considered as just one aspect of an income stream.”

“Now the commissioning of health visitors has returned to their former home within Local Government they are more fully aligned to the Education Service, so they will be well placed to encourage the “Libraries and Health” developments that are gradually emerging as a vital aspect of our Community Library Service. Health visitors have long valued the opportunities afforded by libraries for improving early speech and language development. They will have new opportunities to call on the support of Librarians and their staff to assist with Health Literacy and Community Development aspects of health visiting Practice.” Dame Sarah Cowley, DBE, Emeritus Professor of Community Practice Development, King’s College London

  • Council services will never be the same again  – Guardian. “Central government funding cuts will force councils to dust off their more radical plans to close children’s centres and libraries – while giving them an opportunity to raise money locally ” … “A little over a week before Christmas, ministers announced real terms cuts of nearly 7% to local government’s spending power. That’s on top of five years of already deep cuts, and the pain is frontloaded. The next two years are going to particularly hurt, as service levels are reduced and taxes start to rise.” … “To see the real impact of these cuts, look at which services are going to be affected. One southern county council, faced with bigger than expected cuts for 2016, has started dusting off savings proposals that were previously considered too radical. They include closures of children’s centres, libraries and a fire station. “

“Finally, councils will simply stop doing things. Parks, green spaces and street lighting are high up the list of services that are at risk, closely followed by the remaining smaller libraries. So communities will need to take on more responsibility before services are lost forever. Many local authorities need to invest more effort in their relationships with the community sector if this is to happen.”

  • Finding common purpose – Libraries Taskforce. Task Force secondee at Wellcome Trust. “I’m hoping that during my secondment here I will be able to tease out practical ways that Wellcome and Society of Chief Librarians can join forces to help libraries make life better.”[Post says “there are literally no doors in this open-plan building” and then says “as I’m doing this someone comes by, says “Hi” and shows me their door. I promise them that I’ll wander through as soon as I can. When I do, there are more doors”  – Ed.]
  • The Ideas Garage: motivate, co-ordinate and innovate (guest post) – Alyson’s Welsh Libraries Blog. “‘The Ideas Garage: motivate, co-ordinate and innovate’ is a guest post from Claire Lewis, Strategic Library Service, Monmouthshire County Council in Wales. She was one of the recipients of the first round of the Carnegie UK Trust’s Library Lab innovation grant award scheme. Here she discusses her project, and encourages public library staff to enter the next round of Library Lab grants.

“Universal, free access libraries play a very significant role in health promotion because of their important  contributions in the areas of education, communications and social cohesion.  They also contribute substantially to the reduction of inequalities in health.” Dr Alex Scott-Samuel, Honorary Professor, Durham University; Visiting Professor,  University of Chester; Honorary Senior Lecturer in Public Health, University of Liverpool.

  • Library web filtering removes info access for vulnerable, says shushing collective – Register. “Poor implementation of internet-filtering policies in the UK’s public libraries has damaged public access to exactly the kind of information local library computers are intended to provide, according to a just-released batch of data from a collection of library professionals. Despite the possibility for filtering to be implemented as an effective policy, a lack of intelligent oversight of the filtered material has been revealed through a series of FOIA requests. The resultant dataset, made public on Sunday, showed how local authorities’ top-down content filtering policies are inadvertently preventing vulnerable users’ from accessing acceptable content regarding sexual health, abortions, and LGBT help.” … “The blocks, such as that on abortion, are probably “completely inadvertent” suggested Smith, who claimed it was likely included as a “sub-category of sexual content”, implemented by the council’s IT department and not assessed by the library staff themselves.” … “”Some local councils do not have filters in place at all – if they are able to do this and do not consider themselves to be placing their citizens at risk, other councils could look to taking steps in this direction,”  See also Content Filtering in Libraries – Lauren Smith.
  • Neil Gaiman supports the campaign – Change.org. “Award winning author Neil Gaiman has added his support to the campaign. Please share the petition and encourage your friends to sign. Let’s stand up for our rights to a quality library service. #MyLibraryByRight”
  • Win your own curated library from author Ali Smith – Reading Agency. “Simply tweet or Instagram a picture of yourself with a favourite book you discovered at a library using the hashtag #MyPublicLibrary to be in with a chance of winning your very own curated library from Ali Smith herself. Five books, hand-chosen to inspire you! We are also giving away signed posters and signed copies of Public Library and Other Stories to two lucky runners up. The competition will close on 31 January and we’ll announce our worthy winner on National Libraries Day, 6 February.”


  • Canada – Calgary library memberships rise during tough economic times – Global news. “The number of memberships at the Calgary Public Library is up by 133,000 in just over a year. More than half a million Calgarians have library cards now and there has also been a million more visits than the previous year. Calgary Public Library CEO Bill Ptacek said offering free library cards last year helped.  The public is no longer required to pay the yearly $12 charge.” [Calgary population is one million – Ed.] … “Ptacek also said library staff members have visited daycares to help encourage children to read books”.  Free room hire. Over one million e-books downloaded in one year.
  • Canada – Toronto Public Library gives commuters a ticket to read – Star. “Bailey is Toronto Public Library’s director of branch libraries. It was her idea to have the library install a book-lending kiosk at Union Station, where there are trainfuls of prospective readers. “We’re tossing ideas around all the time,” she says of TPL, which watches what other libraries are doing; what banks or airports are trying in an increasingly mobile, self-service world; what other service providers are offering wherever people congregate or pass through in numbers. For instance, after reading about how a local bar and grill was providing charging stations for tech devices and designing lighting to accommodate screens, Bailey headed down to investigate and invited a restaurant rep to come talk to library staff.”
  • USA – Indiana Library Lets Children Write their own Books – Good E-Reader. “They run weekly workshops two times a year, where groups of ten read books together and talk about the plot construction. Next, the children collaboratively write a book together to get the feel for it and then attempt to write their own.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Saving Barnet’s Libraries – a ‘letter before claim’ … – Broken Barnet. “As the previous post revealed, over the Christmas and New Year period Barnet Council has received not one, but two ‘letters before action’, the first stage in legal challenge by residents’ groups to decisions made in regard to two controversial proposals. ” … “They’re keeping the buildings open but reducing the service so severely there’ll be almost nothing left. The consultation is much more limited than last year’s and it doesn’t even say what hours my library will be staffed” see also Campaigners take first step in legal action over Barnet library cuts – This is Local London. “The letter from Bindmans LLP says the second libraries consultation – which finishes on Wednesday (January 6) – is unlawful and “riddled” with errors. It accuses the council of not having “adequately explained” its current proposal to people, which prevents them from making an informed response”

“The letter maintains that the consultation is unlawful because it fails to seek the views of,and consider the impact of the proposals on, those most affected, and that the documents do not contain enough information to allow people to respond sensibly. It also raises the flaws in the pilot and the lack of any contingency plans, for example if not enough volunteers come forward. Another complaint is the Council’s failure to carry out its promise of October 2014 to actively explore co-location of council services within existing library buildings.”

  • Cheshire West and Chester – Weaverham library closure – Cheshire Today. Self-service being installed at Weaverham and Little Sutton. See also Ellesmere Port and Weaverham branch libraries launch self-service system  – Chester Chronicle.  “Louise Gittins (Lab), cabinet member for culture, leisure and wellbeing, said: “Our new self-service technology will make it much quicker and easier to issue and return books and multimedia. “Having self-service means we can reduce the size of the counter and have more room for the visitors to the library.” For customers who might have concerns about the new arrangements she added: “Don’t worry, there will always be a member of staff on duty if you need assistance and to help with queries and browsing for books.””
  • Edinburgh – Pirniehall Primary enrols every pupil at local library – Edinburgh News. Thought to be first in Scotland to have every child enrolled as part of new scheme.
  • Fife – Reprieve for Fife libraries as scrutiny committee rejects closure decision – Fife Today. “Fife Council’s executive committee will be forced to reconsider the closure of 16 libraries – after its decision was rejected by a scrutiny committee. On the casting vote of chairman Councillor Susan Leslie, the education, health and social care scrutiny committee has requested Fife Council finds one-off funding of £571,000 to ensure all 16 libraries can be kept open for a further year. This funding would allow Fife Cultural Trust (FCT) – which runs the libraries on behalf of the council – and local communities to develop “credible alternative delivery options for the 16 libraries”.”
  • Flintshire – Flintshire village library future in doubt as council axes fundingDaily Post. “Public meeting organised to discuss the future of Halkyn service, which last year saw more than 7,850 books loaned out to 2,700 people ” [Population is around 3,000 – Ed.] … “From March 31 cash-strapped Flintshire County Council will no longer stump up nearly £4,000 which covers half of Halkyn Parish Hall Library’s annual running costs. A public meeting has been organised by Halkyn Community Council for the evening of January 13 to discuss the future of the service and whether to retain it.”
  • Lancashire – Library set to re-open after flood damage – Burnley Express. Padham Library to reopen after electrical problems.
  • North Somerset – Still time to have your say on area’s future  – North Somerset Council. Consultation to include session at Nailsea Library.
  • Somerset – Proposed change to Milborne Port Library opening hours meets opposition – Western Gazette. “As part of county wide cuts of library opening hours Somerset County Council has proposed that Milborne Port Library will open for two and half hours less per week. While the Friends of Milborne Port Library have welcomed the news that the library will remain open it has greeted the new proposed opening hours, in particular the effect it will have on school children, with some trepidation.”
  • Staffordshire – Library transformation in Staffordshire – Libraries Taskforce. Report by Staffordshire Libraries on responding to the severe cut to budget, including partner/volunteer libraries and a look at the new Stafford Central Library. “It was really clear that libraries were facing incredibly challenging times and in many ways a very bleak future. We were dealing with changing demographics, changing customer habits and expectations, a changing local authority landscape and enormous budget pressures. If we, as a County Council, were to approach this properly, we would need to think innovatively, act collaboratively, and lead and manage creatively to provide Libraries that could help to deliver on our three key priorities: Health – so that our communities are able to live independently for as long as possible; Wealth – access to jobs and a steady income; Friends – enabling individuals and communities to stay connected and feel supported as part of a network.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk libraries to increase mental health services in 2016 – East Anglian Daily Times. “The mental health programme offered up until now has been mainly an information-sharing system, 
helping to direct people to various points of help while working with a wide variety of health and social care providers in the county. Library staff have been given guidance on how to support people seeking help and to provide the relevant information they might need. And a number of regular sessions have been held at the larger libraries by teaming up with other organisations and providers.” … “Based on an international scheme helping people with advice on how to become happier or help make their community a happier place, the programme also involves comedy film nights and “laugh aloud” book groups.”

“Living Library – Suffolk Libraries has provided several “Living Library” events for psychology students at One, formerly Suffolk One, as well as other schools and colleges. This allows students to spend time with a volunteer to hear their experiences around mental health. Physical activities – Ipswich Library has hosted new age kurling sessions for older people, while Halesworth Library has provided fitness sessions as part of the NHS Exercise Referral Scheme.”

  • Telford and Wrekin – Libraries, markets and centres to go as Telford & Wrekin services slashed in £30 million cuts – Shropshire Star. “Libraries in Dawley, Donnington, Hadley, Madeley, Newport and Stirchley face the axe.” … ““It’s not something as an administration that we would have ever wanted to consider. None of us came into politics to make these kinds of cuts. “Unfortunately we have been dealt a really horrible hand by the Chancellor. What I would say from evidence is that fairness and compassion has to be at the heart of what we do”
  • Walsall – Protest planned over Walsall library closure proposals – Walsall Advertiser. “A public demonstration will take place this weekend to protest against proposals to close a number of libraries in the borough. Draft budget options for consideration in the year of 2016/17 include the closure of seven Walsall libraries- Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pleck, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood. And Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz, who describes the libraries as “treasured assets”, will be holding a demonstration outside Pleck Library in Darlaston Road at 11am on Saturday, January 9 January urging the council not to close it.” … “A book exchange would also be established in the new Oak Park Active Living Centre to cope with the loss of Walsall Wood library.”