Some good “think” pieces about libraries this week, notably from Caitlin Moran and from Nick Poole. Malorie Blackman bigs up libraries in the Guardian, pointing out how important they are to having a fair chance in life. We also have a look at the manifesto for the Welsh elections by the main political parties, which always show – when it comes down to it – what parties really think about libraries. Looks like UKIP don’t think anything. Then there’s a surprising amount on libraries in Islamic countries (and all the more welcome it is for being unusual), including some spectacularly heroic work in Mali and Afghanistan. Finally, there’s a whole ton of local news, fleshing out the cuts in Hampshire but also noting library promotions like Books on Prescription and World Book Night.

National news

  • 13 Awesome Library Displays – Book Riot. Some great book displays.
  • Moranifesto: Save Our Libraries – Caitlin Moran. “Why do we need libraries, I hear you cry, when there is the internet? Well, the thing about the internet is that it’ll only show you what’s most popular, not what is best.”
  • Malorie Blackman: ‘Othello was the first thing I read that actually featured a black character’ – Guardian. “I wouldn’t be sitting here now if it wasn’t for local libraries when I was growing up. We couldn’t afford fiction books, we had non-fiction books but my dad thought fiction was a waste of time, so I spent my life in the local library. And now they’re being closed left, right and centre. It breaks my heart”
  • Much more than books in your local library – Mature Times. “Are you making the most of your local library? As a north London library worker, I’ve come to the conclusion that many older people are not, perhaps imagining them to be geared primarily to the needs and interests of the young. In fact, today’s libraries are friendly, accessible, gentle-paced hubs at the centre of communities, with programmes of free events catering for all ages, along with books, films and audio tapes galore to borrow or just browse, free computers, advice and information, comfy chairs, newspapers, and quite possibly a little cafe attached…..”
  • Promoting Libraries – Slideshare / Nick Poole. “Presentation to the CILIP North West Member Network conference on “Engaging users”
“We need other public figures and leaders in our library campaigns other then left wing creative types #whatsinthelibraryTweet noted during CILIP NW Member Network Conference
  • Reading Outcomes Framework Consultation ‏- Reading Agency. “The Reading Agency is working with partner organisations to improve the measurement of the impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment. We need to understand the difference we all make when we work to encourage reading so that we can demonstrate the value we provide to the people we work with. For more information about the project, please click here. We have developed a draft reading outcomes framework and we are working to develop an evaluation toolkit to improve impact measurement. Both outputs will be freely available on The Reading Agency website at the end of the project. We would really appreciate it if you could review the draft outcomes framework and complete this short survey about it. We need to find out your views about the draft framework to make sure it works for you. Your input is vital to the success of the framework”
  • Why Libraries Are Anything But A Luxury – Toby Litt. “It is too easy to forget what a genius-level idea libraries are. But if, for a moment, you de-invent and then re-invent them, it’s not hard to imagine some slick young thinker getting up on his TED-legs to tell us how great if it would be for us to share books just as we now share cars and clothes. And everyone would retweet the link, and facebook about it, and call them a visionary.” … “The message borrowers receive is that the state isn’t all take. Your local council wants to help you develop and entertain yourself.” … “Libraries are our portals. They get us out of ourselves. They take us away from the centre. A society should not be all centre – especially when that centre is a shopping centre.”

Position of political parties on libraries in Wales before Welsh Assembly Elections (With thanks to email received)

    • Conservatives. “Empower community groups to take a greater role in running local library networks”. (p46)
    • Green Party. “We will seek specific legislation to ensure access to a minimum level of public services within a legally defined distance or travel time. We will work to ensure  that all communities across Wales  including rural areas have access to the services they require such as libraries,  post offices,  GP surgeries,  dentists,  schools, high speed broadband and public transport connections.”
    • Labour. “We will work with communities to protect local facilities that bring people together: including libraries, museums, arts centres, leisure centres and pubs. We will introduce measures to help prevent unnecessary closures and to assist communities to take ownership of community assets themselves where possible and appropriate”. (p19)
    • Liberal Democrats. “Right to Buy’ to give community councils the automatic right to bid to take over services that local authorities are closing  such as leisure centres or libraries. (p58) Develop the Community Budgets model in Wales for use in rural areas to combine services encouraging the breaking down of boundaries between different services -this will help keep rural services like GP surgeries, pharmacies, post offices and libraries open by enabling them to cooperate  share costs and co-locate in shared facilities. (p66) Modernise the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act to take account of digital provision and the changing nature of public libraries and update local authorities’ standards for provision.
    • Plaid Cymru. Unlimited access to the copyrighted material held in the National Digital Library, the archives of S4C and BBC Wales (subject to agreement), the HWB digital education platform and every university in Wales’ online courses. (p37) We will turn schools into Community Hubs – open at weekends and into the evenings – with pools, gyms, libraries and childcare facilities open to the public and appropriately resourced  relieving cost pressures on other parts of the public sector. (p121) We will continue to support our key national cultural institutions – … the National Library  … – recognising the importance of these bodies to the cultural life of our nation. (p179)  National Digital Library – Wales will become the first nation to legislate for the creation of a national digital library. The Digital National Library will allow any citizen of Wales the right to download an electronic copy of any book in national or local public collection  including those in copyright  in exchange for a fee paid to the publisher and author  based on the number of times the digital version is read. A similar system will apply to music and film. (p179)
    • UKIPNo mention of libraries.

International news

“They bought metal and wooden trunks at a rate of between 50 and 80 a day, made more containers out of oil barrels and located safe houses around the city and beyond. They organized a small army of packers who worked silently in the dark and arranged for the trunks to be carried by donkey to their hiding places.”

  • Morocco – Morocco: one of the world’s oldest libraries is renovated – Daily Mail. “Founded 12 centuries ago by a pioneering woman and nestled in the old medina of Fez, Morocco’s University of al-Qarawiyyin library is one of the world’s oldest libraries, home to unique Islamic manuscripts treasured by historians. Yet it’s been largely hidden from the public. The architect leading its restoration, Fez native Aziza Chaouni, didn’t even know it existed until she was asked to work on it. …”
  • USA – Fair use prevails as Supreme Court rejects Google Books copyright case – Ars Technica. “The Supreme Court on Monday declined (PDF) to hear a challenge from the Authors Guild and other writers claiming Google’s scanning of their books amounts to wanton copyright infringement and not fair use. The guild urged the high court to review a lower court decision in favor of Google that the writers said amounted to an “unprecedented judicial expansion of the fair-use doctrine.” (PDF) At issue is a June decision (PDF) by the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals that essentially said it’s legal to scan books if you don’t own the copyright. The Authors’ Guild originally sued Google, saying that serving up search results from scanned books infringes on publishers’ copyrights even though the search giant shows only restricted snippets of the work. The writers also claimed that Google’s book search snippets provide an illegal free substitute for their work and that Google Books infringes their “derivative rights” in revenue they could gain from a “licensed search” market.”
  • USA – Now they’re coming after the librarians – Daily Kos. Republican wants to stop library classification being changed from “illegal aliens” to “noncitizens” / “Unauthorised Immigration”. Article explains library system. “As always, Republican’s belief that government should not interfere with decisions made by individuals is utter bunkum when it comes to things they don’t like.”
  • USA – Political LibrarianEveryLibrary. “The Political Librarian is dedicated to expanding the discussion of, promoting research on, and helping to re-envision locally focused advocacy, policy, and funding issues for libraries. We want to bring in a variety of perspectives to the journal and do not limit our contributors to just those working in the field of library and information science. We seek submissions from researchers, practitioners, community members, or others dedicated to furthering the discussion, promoting research, and helping to re-envision tax policy and public policy on the extremely local level”

Local news by authority

  • Brent – Star-studded night to mark Shakespeare’s anniversary – Friends of Kensal Rise Library (press release). “The Friends of Kensal Rise Library will launch a major fundraising drive with a weekend of events to coincide with Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary. The events mark the launch of a drive to raise funds for the community library to be opened on the ground floor of the old Kensal Rise Library building. On Saturday April 23 at 3pm a family launch event at the library building in Bathurst Gardens sees the unveiling of a ‘shelf-o-meter’ created by Brent Artists’ Resource to display the progress of donations. Then on Sunday April 24 at 7.30pm, local actors and writers will come together on behalf of the library for a night of Shakespeare readings at Queen’s Park Community School. A glittering cast will include Tamsin Greig, Paterson Joseph, Ben Miles, Tim Lott and Emily Raymond.”
  • Essex – Essex libraries launch new scheme to help teenagers learn about mental health – Braintree and Witham Times. “Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Libraries can play a significant role in the health of local communities by providing free access to advice and information for people of all ages. “This important new scheme uses libraries, books and reading to reach out to young people to help them manage their mental health and wellbeing, and cope with the pressures of modern life.”
  • Falkirk – World Book Night at Polmont library – Falkirk Herald. “Falkirk libraries have run an event in a local library since 2011 in a bid to share the book bug with people who don’t read regularly or own books.”
  • Hampshire – Cuts to libraries in Hampshire approved – Daily Echo. “He approved a four-year strategy which will see mobile libraries shut in June, saving £360,000 per year, but deferred a decision on whether to cut the book fund by three quarters. ” … “The council will review the viability of 20 smaller libraries – including Fair Oak, West End, Lyndhurst, Alresford and Bishop’s Waltham – before deciding on their future by the end of 2017. Some could be closed or run by volunteers. “
  • Hampshire – D-Day comes for future of county’s library service – Portsmouth News. “One of the main savings is set to be ending the mobile library service, saving £360,00 … Cutting staff numbers has already saved £300,000, while ending spending on CDs and DVDs will save a further £150,000. The review follows an 11-week consultation, which saw 9,500 responses.” … “‘The free loan of an eReader is not being pursued as more than half of mobile library customers said that this was not suitable for them.”
  • Hampshire – Hampshire mobile library service scrapped – BBC. “Hampshire’s mobile library service is to be scrapped, the county council has confirmed. The authority said the service would be replaced by a volunteer-run “home library service” for people who are unable to access a public library. Three mobile library staff members have taken voluntary redundancy and talks are on-going with four others.” … “the council said 62% of respondents were in favour of stopping the service – which is used by 1% of total library customers and costs £11.44 per visit, per customer, compared to £2.23 at static libraries.”
  • Hampshire – Libraries still have a vital role in our modern world – Portsmouth News. “Improving online services is all well and good, but those who rely on the mobile library are often those less likely to use the internet. However, librarian is just one more role that has become devalued – the latest casualty of austerity. As the county council looks to save £1.7m from its libraries budget, harsh cuts are being made. As a result keeping smaller libraries open could soon depend on volunteers. Once more ‘we’re all in this together,’ if ‘together’ means people giving up their time to do work that was once done by someone paid for their time and effort.”
  • Harrow – Harrow Council spends over £6m on ‘interims and consultants’ despite major cuts to libraries last year – Get West London. “The opposition Conservative Group criticised the figures after the council closed four libraries and cut voluntary sector funding by a third last year ” … “The figures released show that the £6.4 million spent on consultants and interim staff last year was more than three times the annual budget for the whole library service.”.  Council says “Hiring temporary staff means that we can deliver important services for residents and bring in specialist skills as and when required to deliver value for money”.
  • Lancashire – Tories seek inspiration from Yorkshire in bid to save libraries – Lancashire Evening Post. “Wyre Conservative councillors this week called on Lancashire County Council to save all of Wyre’s libraries. But, knowing it is certain some will be axed before the end of the year, they have now sought advice from over the Pennines.” … “They say they are prepared to help create a community interest company in the district to keep libraries open” … “Coun Vincent said “York spun its library service into a Community Interest Company two years ago making an immediate 20% saving on cost with more to come. The CIC is owned by the staff and members of the public and is not run for profit or for shareholders but for the benefit of the public at large. Wyre would be happy to help facilitate the creation of a CIC and would work with it to enlarge the services delivered via our libraries for their benefit, our benefit and for the benefit of the public.””
  • Leicestershire – Google review attacks “elderly” library volunteers with “no clue what they are doing” – Leicester Mercury. “A member of the public, Georgia Robinson, used the Google review service to attack Glen Hills Library in Glen Parva.” … “She wrote: “Worst library I have ever been to! Took them over half hour just to give me a library card! “The staff have no clue what they are doing!!” … “But Ms Robinson complained the library was now run by “loads of elderly staff with no training” who were unable to operate the library’s printer or computers.”.  Volunteers say “Despite the comments of Ms Robinson this community library hopes to improve as time progresses. “The nature of volunteering is that we only have certain times when we are available so it’s still a learning curve despite the fact that we’ve been open now for six months”
  • Newport – Library closures – South Wales Argus. “WHY did Newport City Council close Maindee and Carnegie libraries last year the same year that saw the opening of a £90 million shopping centre? The Transformation project report that led to this devastating decision stated clearly that it would do nothing to improve literacy, social mobility and inequality in an already deprived area. ..”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries celebrate Local and Community History Month – Neconnected. “Across the county, libraries will celebrate this in May for Local and Community History Month, part of a national initiative to encourage everyone to discover the excitement and interest of uncovering the history surrounding us”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries offer more stories online – Craven Herald. “North Yorkshire County Council’s library services have provided new digital resources. Among them are Ziptales, interactive stories designed to motivate children to improve their reading. The range of e-books now includes ComicsPlus, which offers access to 25,000 e-graphic novels and e-comics.”
  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers sought for libraries’ summer reading challenge – Gazette and Herald. ” offering a great opportunity for people aged between 13 and 24 to get involved as volunteers in the Big Friendly Read, this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. The challenge will celebrate 100 years of one of the world’s greatest storyteller, Roald Dahl, and will feature some of his best-loved characters.” … “The Summer Reading Challenge is one of North Yorkshire’s success stories, with more than 10,000 children expected to participate this year. By taking part as a volunteer, you will be helping even more children to improve their future chances by becoming more enthusiastic readers. “
  • Warwickshire – Libraries in Nuneaton, Bedworth and Atherstone to host Shakespeare themed events – Nuneaton News. “A National Arts Council England grant is being used by Warwickshire libraries, including in Nuneaton, Bedworth and North Warwickshire, to stage free events. They will be taking place on Saturday, April 23, 2016 and will mark the milestone by celebrating the writer’s timeless works with fun activities with a modern twist. As part of the day, people around the world are being invited to share their Shakespeare selfies with quotes using #shakespeare16 and tagging @shakespeareweek”
  • Worcestershire – Kidderminster and Stourport libraries to celebrate World Book Night – Shuttle. “Stourport library will plant 15 book titles around the town as part of the annual celebration on Saturday, April 23, and to mark the life of the playwright – who died in 1616. Kidderminster and Hagley Library will also be taking part in the day by offering free books, encouraging a “Read Me, Keep Me, Pass me on…” ethos to inspire new readers.”