I’ve never come away from a conference without learning anything and my couple of days at the CILIP Wales conference in Swansea was no exception.  Kathy Settle of the Taskforce made very clear that library standards had absolutely no chance of adoption in England, Nick Poole talked about strategy and disagreed with Kathy as diplomatically as possible. I also up a lot about what was happening in Wales: some pretty unsettling stuff but a lot of co-operation as well and good people who cared for libraries. The talks concluded by a very entertaining talk on cycling around Scandinavian libraries which made very clear that they spend way more than the UK on the service: a fact borne out today by a post describing a new children’s library which looks utterly fantastic and, apparently (I’m not sure I still entirely believe this), even has drones flying around scanning RFID tags.

My big thanks to CILIP Wales, not least for the surprise presentation of the inaugural Welsh Library Champion of the Year Award. Knew I should have worn a tie. It was a pleasure to hear how useful PLN was in Wales and, interestingly, how many followed on Twitter. My best wishes and thanks to you all.


  • RFID drone – Drone scans library to locate all books.

National news

  • Boys who live with books ‘earn more as adults’ – Guardian. “Three economists at the University of Padua – Giorgio Brunello, Guglielmo Weber and Christoph Weiss – studied 6,000 men born in nine European countries and concluded that children with access to books could expect to earn materially more than those who grow up with few or no books.” … “Men brought up in households with less than a shelf of books earned only 5% more as a result of the extra year’s education, compared with 21% more for those who had access to a lot of books. And those that had access to books were more likely to move to the better-earning opportunities in cities than those without books.”
  • Cilip Wales 2016 Presentation “Sharing by design … but leading?” – Slideshare. Looks at how Public Libraries News is designed, how it is produced and lessons from dealing with the media. [My (expanded) presentation from the CILIP Wales conference last week in Swansea – Ed.]
  • Libraries Deliver: emerging views as we approach the end of the consultation – Libraries Taskforce / Kathy Settle. “We’ve done 11 workshops all around the country (with 2 to go) since the Ambition document was launched for consultation on 23 March 2016. The team’s heard feedback directly from around 200 people so far – including library staff, decision makers like councillors, commissioners and heads of services, library suppliers, partners, and also (really importantly) library users” … “they want us to draw out more the impact of public sector austerity on local authority library funding decisions, and what providing a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service means in those circumstances.” … “There’s been a split between people who think we aren’t being ambitious enough and those who think we’re in danger of being unrealistic in our ambitions given the funding available.”
  • Libraries, over two generations – Medium / Stephanie Boland. “When I was young, my mother took me to libraries. They shaped the texture of our week: giving us, even when we were poor — and my mum was, presumably, worrying about all sorts of things which she and child benefit could together just about protect me from — a quiet, calm space, equipped with free books, activities, and most importantly a community.”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what steps his Department is taking to support Lancashire County Council in (a) keeping library buildings open and (b) sustaining the function of those buildings as libraries.” Mark Menzies (Conservative, Fylde)

“Public libraries are funded and run by local authorities and it is a matter for local authorities to determine how best to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service to their local community, within available resources. Lancashire County Council has a Core Spending Power per dwelling of £1321 for 2016-17 rising to £1392 per dwelling by 2019-20. The Department for Culture Media and Sport, together with the Local Government Association, has set up a Leadership for Libraries Taskforce to help public libraries in England build on good practice and add value for the communities they serve. The Taskforce is currently consulting on the attached document at link which sets out the ambition for public libraries in the future. Furthermore, thanks to Government funding, free Wi-Fi is available to 99% of public libraries in England.” Marcus Jones (Conservative, Nuneaton)” Written Question – Hansard

  • Library is not a dirty word: reclaiming its power and possibility – Serendipitous Moments. “A talk and discussion about Library campaigns, radical librarianship and re-imaging the library as a public space. Speakers include The Alternative School of Economics (Ruth Beale and Amy Feneck); Ruth Rikowski – writer, library professional, sessional lecturer at London South Bank University and library campaigner; and Alice Corble – a libraries professional and PhD Candidate researching the changing public forms of libraries under conditions of rapid economic, technological and cultural change.  Alice is a founding member of the Radical Librarians Collective.”
  • Nielsen LibScan Public Library borrowing data Period 3 (to 26 March 2016) – Nielsen. “The Atlases, Maps and Travel category has grown between Period 2 and 3 by 3.9%. The category saw a similar uplift of 4% in the same period last year (2015) suggesting that it is the time of year when library users start to plan and take their holidays and excursions
  • Radical Libraries: Carnegie campaigners feature in photo exhibition at Rich Mix, Bethnal Green, E1 – Brixton Buzz. ” a small exhibition of photos and material related to the battle to keep public libraries open, and centre piece to the display is a selection of photos from the Carnegie Library exhibition.”
  • Simon Cowell gets star advice on plan to write children’s book – Guardian. ““So, whether you choose to get into children’s publishing or not, it would be wonderful if you’d show your support for libraries and librarians with a kind word or two,” said Ardagh”
  • Six Steps to library services for blind or partially sighted people – Libraries Taskforce / Mark Freeman. “Unlike many countries around the world, the UK does not have a state funded national library service for blind and partially sighted people and so we rely on charities, external organisations and a sharing of our collective resources and expertise.”
  • Winner of the Welsh Librarian of the Year Award 2016 announced – CILIP Wales. Dylan Hughes of Wrexham Public Libraries wins: “In recent years, Dylan has worked tirelessly to make the vision of a single nationally procured library management system a reality in Wales. This has been a very challenging and time-consuming project that required a range of skills and personal attributes, not least tenacity, to pull off. The legacy that his leadership of this project will give the Welsh public library network is significant.”

International news

  • Australia – Turn the page on mental illness with new library project across central west – Central Western Daily. “Following years of research and planning, the project will see 41 library branches across the Central West and western NSW provide medically-approved books to help people manage their mental health. Central West Libraries manager Jan Richards came up with the concept after seeing a similar project at libraries in the UK and submitted a grant application for the project”
  • Morocco – Delicate Task Of Restoring One Of The World’s Oldest Libraries – NPR. ” At the center of the square is the Qarawiyyin Library, founded more than a millennium ago. We’ve heard much recently about the destruction of grand historical sites in places like Syria and Iraq, where war and ISIS wreak havoc on the present and the past. But this library has been lovingly restored to protect ancient manuscripts by some of the greatest Islamic thinkers.”
  • New Zealand – Bookshops and libraries: Supporting a literary community – BookSellers. Looks at the many similarities between bookshops and libraries (even the stock revision guidelines are similar) and how they work together.
  • New Zealand – Libraries are a lost, useless institution and it’s time to fix them – NBR Radio. Behind paywall. Nathan Smith argues that libraries have lost their purpose in the modern world and are becoming all things to all people.  He suggests that libraries should have a single clear purpose and that if people want pulp fiction or pop music, they should be charged for it. Response at A Rebuttal to Nathan Smith’s Article in NBR – Lianza. Gives Kiwi view of public libraries [which, unfortunately, reads like “all things for all people” – Ed.] and says “Where a librarian dictates what should be read individuals are far less likely to read for enjoyment.” … “The one point that Smith and I do agree on is that libraries are not commercial spaces – and this is precisely what I love about them. Public libraries are one of the last spaces where the whole of society can meet on an equal footing without barriers to access.”
  • Norway – Welcome to Biblo Tøyen: Norway’s First Youth-Only Library for kids ages 10 to 15. Adults not allowed – The Oslo Book. “The design team went directly to the source to begin their mission to rethink and redesign the library space. They held focus groups with young people to find out their wants and needs. The youth said they wanted a place to hang out, relax, and escape parents and siblings. In addition, they needed a safe place to socialize and said it should be a space where they can create and do things together. The library has achieved these goals by creating a cool and comfortable ‘third’ space between school and home where youth can learn, explore, and be themselves.” … “drama, music, cooking,  computer programming, 3-d printing, and Lego building.” … “In the center of the library is an old Volvo truck, nicknamed Teddy, pimped out with a functional kitchen in the back and a sofa in the hood.” … “Say goodbye to the old fashion library classification system! Books are grouped by themes or features such as ‘animals’ or ‘short and good’ so a science fiction book may be next to a book about robots to encourage discovery in more natural way.  In this way, no book has a permanent location and all the bookshelves hang from rails on the ceiling making it easy to rearrange the space for different functions and events.” … ” All books have radio tags on their covers and every night a drone will fly over the bookshelves to scan and locate each book for easy access the next day”
  • Spain – Knowledge map of public library projects for combating social exclusion – Fundacio Biblioteca Social. “Each year the map will incorporate the best projects evaluated in the announcement of the Prize “Public Library and Social Commitment”. The map includes accepted projects, finalists and winners. With a link to project’s PDF of winners and finalists. The map of social projects aims to:
Contribute to improving the visibility of public libraries and projects carried out for the most vulnerable sectors of the society; Point out to the non-profit sector possibilities for joint action with public libraries in a given territory; Stress to government agencies the importance of investing in public libraries; Share knowledge about projects focused on social/digital inclusion and learning from “best practices”.
  • USA – Core customer intelligence – Civic Technologies. “In partnership with the Las Vegas–Clark County Library District and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), CIVICTechnologies completed the first big data study in the library world. This study investigated the “core customers” of ten public libraries: the customers who most actively checked out physical materials—books, DVDs and CDs. The purpose of the study was to obtain information and insights that help libraries retain these core customers and to reach and recruit new customers like them. Having detailed core customer intelligence—who they are, what they want, like and do—helps libraries stay nimble, adaptable, and relevant to customer and community needs, now and in the future.”

Local news by authority

  • Brent – Kensal Rise Library Fundraising Appeal: Fit Out – My Donate. £43,000 donated in forty days. “After five years of campaigning we have secured two thirds of the ground floor to operate a community library and public space. We need your support to transform this empty shell into a library that the community can be proud of and which they deserve after fighting for so long. We need to raise £80,000 to cover the basic fit out, including flooring, plumbing… “
  • Cambridgeshire – New self-service access to be trialled at library in St Ives – Hunts Post. “Cambridgeshire County Council will trial a new system – known as Open+ – which will enable self-service access to library resources, including borrowing or returning books, use of free Wi-Fi, PCs and pre-booked meeting rooms, outside of staffed hours. “. Council says “Your feedback will help us decide how modern technology can help shape the delivery of the service in future. This could be the first of our Open+ libraries and we hope that it will help create a more flexible and efficient service.” “
  • Cornwall – Cornwall libraries plan fun and games ahead of National Bookstart week – Cornishman. “Under the Sea” events and giveaways will take place across county.
  • Darlington – Campaigners reveal fully costed plan to save Darlington libraries without need for major cutbacks – Northern Echo. “Darlington for Culture, which formed a community steering group to draw up the proposal, says an independent Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) should be created to run both buildings in conjunction with the community. ” … “Under the plans sent to Darlington Borough Council, the local authority would continue to run the library service with professional library staff and some volunteer support where necessary. The CIO would offer additional services within the libraries with the aim of turning them into community hubs. The extra income generated by the new uses would be put towards the upkeep of the buildings, volunteers say.”
  • Edinburgh – “Let there be light” in Edinburgh’s Old Town – 38 Degrees.  “The land in question has been left undeveloped for 40 years specifically for the purposes of an extension to the library. If planning permission were now granted for the proposed hotel this would fundamentally compromise the library, significantly blocking out natural light to this important category B listed building, regarded as the finest example of a Carnegie endowed library in Scotland, whose motto above the main entrance is “Let There Be Light””
  • Gloucestershire – Inventive Cheltenham theatre play goes on tour of Gloucestershire libraries – Gloucester Citizen. “TwoCan Theatre Company have been working in the Everyman Studio Theatre this week rehearsing their adaptation of ‘Two Can Toucan’ by David McKee, the author of Elmer the Elephant), which is going out to Gloucestershire libraries from today.”
  • Halton – CodeBug microcomputer to call into Halton libraries – Liverpool Echo. “The CodeBug is a programmable, wearable computer that has 25 LED lights and two buttons to interact with. It has six legs which can be used to connect croc-clips or even sewn on to clothing. The technology will be at Halton Lea Library at Tuesday, May 31 from 10.30am to 12pm, and during the same times at Widnes Library on Thursday, June 2. Librarian Lorna Hulme said: “Try the CodeBug and get a taste of how a microcomputer works.”
  • Hull – Hull wins £3m funding towards City of Culture 2017 – Business Quarter. “The funding will also enable the city’s museums, archives, libraries and heritage learning service to host an ambitious programme of events for 2017 and create long-term benefits for residents.”
  • Lambeth – Council leader Peck hits back at library claims – Brixton Buzz. “Lambeth council leader Lib Peck has hit back at library campaigners who accused the council of wasting thousands of pounds on security for the closed Carnegie (Herne Hill) and Minet (Myatt’s Fields) libraries” … “Peck accused protesters who brought a full council meeting to a halt last week of having no intention of allowing the meeting to go ahead and interrupting “quite shamefully” tributes to Cllr Niranjan Francis, a council member who died in April.” … “Peck laid out again the reasoning behind the council’s library plans and accused the campaigners of making claims that are “simply not correct”. In particular, Peck said, the campaigners had made errors in their calculations – claiming in the letter to councillors that 369,000 minus 89,000 was 189,000, when it is actually 280,000.”
  • Lancashire – Councillors hit back in fight to save Garstang Library – Garstang Courier.Three Garstang councillors have hit back after it was hinted they weren’t pulling their weight in the fight for the town’s library. Councillors Lady Dulcie Atkins, Tom Balmain and Alice Collinson say they supported the ‘Save Our Library’ campaign “right from the beginning” after it was claimed they had not even contacted the library.”
  • Lancashire – Longridge jobs by no means safe – Longridge News. “Audrey retires today from a job she has loved in a library where membership and community activities have increased over the years – but her chief concern now is for her staff. The LCC consultation on the future of all its service buildings started on May 18, and Audrey said: “The reprieve was positive news for the community but it was only a proposal so I wouldn’t say we are ‘safe’.””
  • Lancashire – MP takes his library battle to Commons – Blackpool Gazette. Conservative MP criticises Labour Council. “During his nine-minute speech, Mr Maynard described the plan to close the libraries to chamber of the House of Commons and slammed Lancashire’s refusal to ‘sit down and listen’ to the not-for-profit proposal.”
  • Lancashire – Pen-power pupils in battle to save library in Rishton – Lancashire Telegraph. Handwritten letters of protest from junior school.
  • Lancashire – ‘This is a ridiculous stunt’ – disabled Burnley fan and protester chains himself to railings in vigil against county cuts – Lancashire Telegraph. In protest against cuts to libraries and youth services.
  • Leeds – Read: A postcard from Alan Bennett to Armley Library – West Leeds Dispatch. “The 82-year-old playwright, actor and author sent library staff a ‘thank you’ postcard – of the Ribblehead viaduct – after he popped in for a cup of tea and to carry out some research on a future project.”
  • North Lanarkshire – Working For You: Neil Gray MP – Daily Record. “The Airdrie and Shotts MP believes it makes no sense to close local libraries and community centres.” [SNP MP – Ed.] … “With North Lanarkshire being an area of high deprivation, ill-health and unemployment it makes very little sense for the council, and its arms-length organisation CultureNL, to be closing four libraries and seven community centres, two of each in Airdrie and Shotts.”
  • North Yorkshire – Craven libraries take part in Festival of Learning – Craven Herald and Pioneer. “The event – previously known as Adult Learners’ Week – is bringing together organisations across the county, offering people opportunities to learn something new.”
  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers set to staff many libraries – Darlington and Stockton Times. “Controversial moves to hand over 21 libraries across North Yorkshire to volunteers are on target, councillors have been told. The scheme is designed to help save £1.5 million towards the County Council’s target of cutting budgets by £167 million by 2020. The aim is to make the majority of smaller libraries community managed, with many existing library staff facing losing their jobs by April 2017.” … “In the autumn the council is set to launch a countywide marketing campaign appealing for volunteers. “
  • Sheffield – City should spend money on libraries – Yorkshire Post.
  • Sheffield – Libraries were Lifelines – Star /Letters. “Despite what our politicians are claiming, library usage at the staffed libraries in Sheffield is not declining to the extent that it is at the volunteer libraries. Up until 2014 community libraries were providing one of the most efficient, cost-effective social services the council provided.”
  • Sheffield – Volunteers step in when cuts hit our libraries – Yorkshire Post / Letters. Council says “I would like thank the volunteers and community groups who have willingly stepped up to help run 15 libraries in Sheffield (shortly to be 16 with Tinsley). “
  • Shropshire – Shropshire library hours to be slashed – Shropshire Star. “Libraries across Shropshire face more reductions in opening hours as part of cost-cutting measures, with one councillor warning the service is facing “dangerous territory”. … “A consultation on the proposals, which include blanket changes to close all 12 affected libraries at 5pm, and from 1pm on Saturdays, was launched yesterday, and will run for six weeks.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Campaigners hand in petitions and letters as South Gloucestershire Council looks to save £650,000 from library budget – Gazette Series. “A consultation into shutting and reducing opening hours at libraries across South Gloucestershire has closed, culminating in a protest and a flurry of petitions. More than 3,000 responses were filled in during the three-month consultation, which has earmarked Chipping Sodbury Library for closure in all three options and proposes closing Hanham Library and axing the district’s home library service as South Gloucestershire Council looks to save £650,000 from its annual budget.”
  • Staffordshire – Political sparks fly as Lichfield Library petition is labelled ‘misleading’ – Lichfield Mercury. “Councillor Ian Parry claimed the campaign had been so named as to “gain public attention prior to an election” in a piece of “cynical manipulation”. Calling the petition ‘Save Lichfield Library’ when the proposal is to move the facility elsewhere in the city rather than take it away was a “despicable trick” which “misled” those who signed it, he said.” … “In Stafford the new main library is deliberately smaller than its predecessor. As well as the books it’s also got wifi, touchscreen tables, large computer tablets and two state-of-the-art 3D printers. Membership there has risen by 80 per cent in six months and we see that as a template for the service’s future …”
  • Worcestershire – Late-evening opening hours at some Worcestershire libraries could survive the chop, admits council – Worcester News. Council “have pledged to “listen very carefully” to concerns after proposals to reduce hours at 17 different libraries came under sustained attack by two Labour politicians today. “