It was a real tonic to read about Idea Stores. Set up way before the austerity, and well-funded, they’re continuing to be successful.  The tricks appear to be to genuinely co-locate with an allied service, to invest in buildings so people want to come to them and, well, several other things, including avoiding supplier selection. Good also to see Manchester Central (in stark contrast to its brash debt-laden Birmingham cousin) doing so well.  As it should, the place is a palace and such a pleasure to visit. Extra bonus points also, apparently, for Oxford where the Central Library is to be redeveloped with the – ever important – children’s library being extended.  Good also to note that the level of protest against library cuts in Bradford has meant at least more libraries will retain paid staff than previously thought. In other new, Bibliotheca have launched what seems to be a real alternative to Overdrive for e-books. Hmm, this is sounding really positive, I love it. In other news, Bucks are considering some serious cuts so are examining being a non-profit trust (but that’s just a continuation of news from a year ago) and there’s yet more on the Open+ seriously-self-service library option.

In fact, for genuinely new without doubt all-bad news, one has to go to Australia. Yes, Australia. Where there’s something depressing going on with their National Library.  Please try not to do any more of that, my Oz friends.  You might make Public Libraries News gloomy.


National news

  • How technology can save council libraries – Public Technology. “The good news, however, is that by using technology Peterborough City Council has kept all 10 of its libraries going, extended opening hours and saved £305,000 this financial year alone.” … “we looked at a system called Open+, which would enable us to keep all our libraries open, but we would have to reduce staff hours to make savings” … “There was a one-off capital cost of £170,000, from Peterborough’s Invest to Save budget. Then there are running costs of £1,500 per year for each library.”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what progress his Department has made on working with the EU Commission on extending the Public Lending Right to e-lending in local libraries.” Gregory Campbell MP

“The Department and the Libraries Taskforce are working with representatives of authors, publishers, public libraries, the PLR office and others, to ensure library service users have access to remote e-book lending, without charge, and to consider options to appropriately remunerate authors and other rights holders.” Ed Vaizey MP – Parliament / They Work For You.

  • Paul Routledge on why we must stop our heritage being thrown away forever by Tory government – Mirror. “County councillor Marcus Johnstone is fuming that the likes of Surrey was granted £28million transitional help as the cuts take effect – but Lancashire got nothing. He says: “Four members of the Cabinet live in Surrey. I know who is responsible. Any service we don’t have to provide by law is at risk. That includes museums, arts, libraries. “I’m the poor unfortunate b*****d who has to implement all this. I’m hating absolutely every moment of it. I hope people know the real culprits are the Tory government .”

“Jack Knight, from the Judges’ Lodging Museum in Lancaster, says: “We feel pretty bleak. They are spending £60million on a floral bridge in London. “We’re losing bus services and libraries but at least they’ll have flowers.”

  • Public library innovation: Idea Stores – so last century? – CILIP. “The concept of Idea Stores – combining libraries and adult education services under one roof – was developed at the end of the last century. The world then was very different. Younger readers may struggle to imagine the optimism in the public library world in the late 1990s – with a revived sense of purpose and government (or at least Lottery) money to match. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.” … “supported by Tower Hamlets Council which was prepared to invest £20 million in library and learning services for local people.” … “Idea Stores have actually proved highly resilient. The Council recognises the importance of the service so there have been no cuts in (our very long) opening hours or paid staff replaced by volunteers.” … “The Idea Store concept brought together two different services: adult and community education and libraries. ” …”(we tried supplier selection at first, but it’s not for us)”

“Idea Stores were innovative from the start. The power of the original vision has proved adaptable and allowed us to respond to changing times. We have never taken our customers for granted: we began with the biggest ever library consultation and have been listening to local people ever since. We are proud to be a service that people choose to use. This combination of a strong and radical concept and our ability to develop has meant that Idea Stores are still thriving in the 21st century. This is why librarians from around the world still come to east London to learn from our experience.”

  • Six libraries take up cloud e-book service – UK Authority. Interview with Newcastle Libraries. “The other five libraries to pick up the service are Richmond Lending Library, Little Green (the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames), Ipswich County Library (Suffolk Libraries), Slough Library (Slough Borough Council), Shrewsbury Library (Shropshire Council) and City Central Library (Stoke-on-Trent City Council). Bibliotecha said launches are also being scheduled by Bracknell Forest Council, Doncaster Council, the London Boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster City Council.”
  • Turning libraries into community centres – Spiked. “Warnings about libraries spreading their resources too thin are partly based on the fact that book funds are in decline. But the real issue here is that society finds it difficult to take the authority of knowledge seriously. It cannot find any justification for quiet spaces and rows of bookshelves. The trust’s emphasis on extracurricular activities undermines the purpose of libraries – that is, to foster independence and self-realisation. It seems the Carnegie Trust no longer wants us to read books – it would rather we drank tea and ate biscuits instead.”

International news

  • Australia – Budget cuts will have a ‘grave impact’ on the National Library, staff told – Sydney Morning Herald. “The library expects to shed more than 20 jobs by June 30 with additional redundancies to follow in 2017-18. The library will also reduce the number of international print and online subscriptions available to members. All public education programs are currently under review, with management ceasing publication of the quarterly National Library of Australia magazine. The library’s corporate management group has also raised the prospect of outsourcing some duties and further automation of collection services.” see also Our major cultural institutions are in crisis – and our history is being militarised – Guardian. “Meanwhile, the federal government is spending more than $100m on a questionable Anzac “interpretive centre” in France. The 50,000-plus Australians who died on the European western front in the first world war are already appropriately memorialised at Villers-Bretonneux and elsewhere. This all alludes, of course, to an ever increasing militarisation of Australian history at the expense of other narratives – the peaceful transition to a federation, the murders of tens of thousands of Indigenous Australians, the significant role of women, for example – that also define national foundation.”
  • Ireland – A day in the life of county librarian Mary Reynolds – Irish Times. “The most satisfying for me is being part of a large national network which is a valued presence and meeting space for information, ideas, imagination and culture ” … “Last year over 17 million visits were recorded to public libraries in Ireland and the customer satisfaction level in all surveys that have been carried out is always very high. This is primarily due to the commitment and professionalism of library staff and our strong belief in equality of access for all.”
  • USA – A Library With Kittens? – Purrington Post. “Need therapy on the job, or a distraction from the stress of the day?  One perk that is causing envy in other government offices is the Dona Ana County Office in Las Cruces, New Mexico. They have set up a kitten library in the lobby. Here employees can “check out’ a kitten to play with while they work. The library kittens come from a collaboration between the local shelter and the city officers. All these kittens are available for adoption.  Oh, and there are no books in this particular library. Just a lot of kittens!”
  • USA – Black Lives Matter Accuses Public Library of “White Supremacy” – Info Wars. “Public library refuses to host meeting which excludes people by race” … ““All meetings at our facilities must be open to the general public and news media,” library spokesperson Emily Waltenbaugh said. “We’re a library. We’re taxpayer funded.”.  Group found alternative space in a church. “Dixon Memorial Methodist Church couldn’t be reached for comment on why the church would host a meeting that excludes people by race “

Local news by authority

  • Argyll and Bute – Put school librarians before top job, says Argyll and Bute MSP – Buteman. “Argyll and Bute’s MSP says the local council should put on hold plans to recruit a new chief executive – and use the money to save its secondary school librarians from the axe. Michael Russell hopes to raise the issue in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon in a debate on the Scottish Government’s budget.”
  • Birmingham – Library of Birmingham visitor numbers plummet by 600k – BookSeller. Tim Coates: ” “The Library of Birmingham is a monument to the appalling and disgraceful standard of local government in our country. Are we really expected to believe that having borrowed nearly £200m to create the building, no-one anywhere anticipated the payments of interest that would be needed? There should be a national and rapid public inquiry into what happened, covering the sources and applications of all funding of Birmingham city council in the pursuit of dramatic improvement.””
  • Bradford – Amended Council budget proposals could bring better news for five threatened libraries – Telegraph and Argus. “Under the adjusted proposals, council tax would rise by the maximum of 1.99 per cent a year instead of the planned 1.6 per cent, with the extra £600,000 raised being used to soften the blow of a host of cuts to local services. “

“Bradford Council’s Labour leadership had consulted on plans to turn all but seven of its libraries into volunteer-run facilities or close them if no volunteers came forward – a move which prompted a huge public outcry. Now council bosses have tweaked the plans, meaning the cuts would be reduced by £237,000 in order to keep fully-staffed libraries at Wibsey, Wyke and Laisterdyke. The updated proposals would also allow for hybrid staff and volunteer libraries at Baildon and Clayton, with each of the district’s five constituencies keeping at least two staffed libraries”

  • Buckinghamshire – Report to the Transport, Environment and Communities Select Committee – Buckinghamshire Council. “to work up a detailed business case exploring this option, taking into consideration the various organisational forms of ‘spin out’ including charitable trust and public service mutual.” … “If Cabinet approve the business case it would be possible to implement new delivery model by April 2017.” £1,125,000 expected to be saved by moving to a trust over three years. Library budget has reduced from £7m to £5m since 2010: at least £1m more expected to be cut by end 2009.
  • Cambridgeshire – Claims Cambridgeshire Collection is taking ‘disproportionate’ amount of county council cuts – Cambridge News. “There are fresh fears for the future of an in-depth archive of Cambridgeshire after “disproportionate” and “ill-founded” cuts were waved through. The protests of campaigners Sean Lang and Stephen Swift were not enough to sway councillors last week from agreeing a budget that will see £195,000 cut from Cambridgeshire Archives and Local Studies. Dr Lang, a member of the fledgling Friends of Cambridge Central Library, said the central library based Cambridgeshire Collection was taking a “disproportionate” amount of cuts compared to the overall library service, and other areas of the council.” … “Archives and local studies is having its overall budget cut by 30 per cent, and the library service by around 10 per cent overall.”
  • Gloucestershire – Community call to action to preserve Brockworth Library’s future – Gloucester Citizen. “Brockworth Community Project, which runs the library with its team of 30 volunteers, now needs your help again to secure its future. Brockworth was one of eight libraries in Gloucestershire which was taken on by the community when the county council decided it could not afford to keep running it.” … “Since taking over the library four years ago, the project has been supported by organisations such as The Big Lottery Fund and a £10,000 annual grant from the county council – but that agreement only runs until next year. The community project is now appealing for help to fund the library which has been a much-loved meeting place for the Brockworth community over the past four years.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Tories propose to bulldoze Brixton Rec and move it to Pop Brixton as part of alternative Budget proposals – Brixton Buzz. “The bonkers book-ish gyms appear to be one policy area of sanity however for the local Conservative group. The Opposition budget would allow a not-for-profit organisation to keep all Lambeth libraries operating as public library spaces. Costings have been worked out by the local Conservatives. This has been passed as a legal, balanced budget by apolitical Officers at the Town Hall. There is the disclaimer however that the proposals can only be delivered with a significant degree of risk management and monitoring.”
  • Leicestershire – Axe set to fall on Barwell library as County Hall cuts costs – Leicester Mercury. “Council bosses have recommended the closure of Barwell’s village library as part of cost-cutting measures. Conservative-run Leicestershire County Council has being trying offload 36 of the smaller libraries it has run to volunteers to save some £800,000-a-year. While deals have been done with 13 communities to keep libraries open no arrangements have been possible in Barwell so closure looms.”
  • Leicestershire – Bid to protect Barwell library taken to Parliament – Nuneaton News. “Mathew Hulbert, a former councillor representing Barwell on Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, is calling for the village’s library to be saved from the axe. He’s taken part in a lobby of Parliament by ‘Speak Up for Libraries’, a coalition of organisations and campaigners working to protect libraries and their staff.” … “Mr Hulbert said: “It was fantastic to be part of this big day of campaigning. Libraries play a vitally important role in our communities and cash-strapped councils should not see them as an easy target for cuts.” … “”This is the only library out of 36 that is facing closure. There was a bid from a local group that we thought offered a good basis to build on but, unfortunately, the group did not feel they could guarantee the longer term sustainability of the library”
  • Manchester – Revamped Central Library attracts more visitors than the rest of the city’s branches combined – Manchester Evening News. “Manchester’s libraries gained almost 700,000 visitors last year – mainly down to the Central Library’s successful reopening. A total of 2.8m people visited the city’s network of libraries in 2015. This was 691,200 more than the 2.13m who came through the doors in 2014, figures released to the M.E.N. under Freedom of Information show.” … “Some of the libraries with the steepest drops in visitor numbers are the seven that are run by volunteers. Barlow Moor, Burnage, Fallowfield, Levenshulme, Miles Platting, New Moston and Northenden branches all have limited opening hours under their ‘community library model’.”
  • Newcastle – Download deals mean more e-books come online at Gateshead and Newcastle libraries  Chronicle. “Thanks to its agreement with publishing houses including Harper Collins, Penguin Random House and Faber & Faber, Gateshead Council has been able to add works by more than 20 of the most popular modern authors to its download library, as well as a selection of film and TV tie-ins such as The Martian by Andy Weir and The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick.”
  • Newcastle – Newcastle City Council meeting recap: Cabinet expected to approve cuts of £30m – Chronicle. “Opening hours at nine libraries across Newcastle could be cut from 400 hours per week to 181 hours should proposals put forward by Newcastle City Council be approved. ” … “Sunday opening hours at Newcastle’s flagship City Library will remain unchanged after respondents to the budget consultation highlighted the need to maintain access for people who are at work or in education through the week. Councillor David Stockdale, cabinet member for communities and facilities, said the cuts had their roots in coalition cuts. Nick Brown, MP for Newcastle East, added: “I greatly value the cities libraries and nobody wants to see the service restricted. “However, the council is in an impossible situation – the cuts from central government have been remorseless.”
  • Norfolk – Norfolk taxpayers will pay 4% more in council tax next year as councillors agree £42m of cuts – Eastern Daily Press. “Labour leader George Nobbs said: “It’s a budget for all the people of Norfolk” and said it would mean no fire stations, children’s centres or libraries would shut.”
  • Oxfordshire – Oxford Central Library to close this weekend until October 2017 – Oxford Times. “Library users are being reminded that the Westgate-based Oxford Central Library will close as of Saturday, January 27 for redevelopment work. A smaller, temporary library will instead be available in Oxford’s Castle Quarter from the end of March until October 2017.” … “Once complete Oxford Central Library will feature a new entrance foyer, a refurbished and extended children’s library and new windows with views over Bonn Square and Castle Street.  “
  • Reading – Reading libraries: have your say in second consultation – Get Reading. “Cabinet’s recommendation to close six libraries, including Rushall Library, will be decided on Thursday however Rushall-Shelfield Councillor Richard Worrall has secured a nomination for Rushall Library to be listed as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). The listing, which would mean that the use of the building or land cannot be changed without permission nor may it be demolished without permission, has already succeeding in saving the ‘magic Lantern’ on the Beechdale Estate from demolition and redevelopment as shops and paved the way for the Four Crosses to re-open as a pub.”
  • Sheffield – Sheffield Library Adds 100 LGBT Books To Its Shelves – The Gay UK. “Over 100 books, which include those from authors Patrick Gale, Stella Duffy and Armistead Maupin have been added  to Sheffield‘s central library, bringing their collection of LGBT books to 300 titles.” … “The new books hit the shelves this month to mark LGBT history month which promotes diversity and equality.”
  • Swindon – Town deserves better – Swindon Advertiser / Letters. “We do not deserve to be a laughing stock with a council that closes our, repeat, our libraries. Swindon Advertiser recently reported that head teachers are finding difficulty in attracting teachers to Swindon.
    Will it help if our own councillors portray us as yokels, happy to live in a cultural desert?  There is also another issue, that of being fair to semi rural areas within the borough. The figures show how well Highworth and Wroughton use their libraries and appreciate their librarians.”
  • Walsall – Potential reprieve for closure-threatened Walsall library – Walsall Advertiser.