I’m always pleased, and a niggling part of me is surprised too, when I get feedback on something in an editorial.  My thanks to Jon Scown of Somerset Libraries who responded to my recent post on the linking to Amazon on the Libraries West catalogue:

“We noticed with interest the editorial in last week’s Public Libraries News about LibrariesWest linking to Amazon from our website, not least because we’ve been doing this since 2005 so it’s nothing new! I guess the profile of this has been raised since we launched our new website following our recent migration to the Symphony LMS.

I thought it might help to explain why we make the link and the benefits to the service and to customers. We’ve used the income to support a number of successful promotional campaigns over the years which we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to afford. For example, we ran a Join a Friend campaign to encourage library members to recommend the library to friends and family, and a marketing campaign when we launched our e book and e audio book services. The income from Amazon allowed us to produce high quality publicity materials and to buy prizes to support the campaigns. Alongside these campaigns we’ve also run a number of consortium wide promotions to support the Summer Reading Challenge and National Libraries Day.

I’m sure this will be of interest to the readers of Public Libraries News and demonstrate that there is value in making the link to Amazon.”

Jon then went on to say that “over the eleven years we’ve been doing it we’ve made several thousand pounds. So, there’s an idea, especially as it is balanced out by a link to a “buy it on the local high street” webpage as well, which I think is an excellent idea.

On the other hand, I’ve also heard from someone else that their authority tried it, “earned pennies” and then stopped. And it’s worth noting that a few thousand pounds would be worth possibly at tops one tenth of one percent of library income over the period described, although it’s clearly put to good use and ringfenced (always a good idea to do that if you can).

Ultimately, I think faced with an ever-shrinking budget individual library authorities (and others definitely in that boat –  Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, for instance – have done the same) it’s an offer many will find too tempting to refuse.  Strategically and nationally, one still fears that it’s allying with an enemy who basically wants you closed down, while alienating potential supporters such as many booksellers and authors. But, faced with the needs we face, many library services will be willing to make that deal. And, by the look of it, Ed Vaizey will congratulate them for modernising at the same time.


National news

  • 2016 Call for Jason Farradane Nominations – CILIP. “The UKeiG Jason Farradane Award is made to an individual or a group of people in recognition of outstanding work in the information profession. The Award embraces activities in the information profession in its widest sense, while the Group’s other award, the UKeiG Tony Kent Strix Award focuses more narrowly on information retrieval. Nominations should be received no later than Friday 9th September 2016.”
  • An answer to Taskforce critics – BookSeller. “A recent blog post [Get a Grip, Libraries Taskforce by Desmond Clarke] quite correctly lists the succession of reports that have been done into the public library network in England. So what is different this time? We will provide a clear vision and action plan which the key library stakeholders will all have signed up to. The Taskforce is already in place to ensure delivery of the action plan, and we will be fully transparent on progress so we can be held to account. The post states that what is needed is an imaginative strategic plan to re-invigorate the library network. We encourage everyone to read the final version of the Ambition document and to judge us on delivery of the action plan.”
  • Big Data and libraries: getting the most from your library data – Axiell. “Integrating data by so called ‘mash-ups’ has been popular for some years.  We take it for granted when we pick up our map-app and it shows us the restaurants nearby with just a click or two.  In the context of library systems, it means staff might be able to view a map that shows the postal areas in which there are below average active borrowers.  But in a world where more and more meta-data is informed by so-called linked data standards, the possibilities are endless.  It’s simple, take your library data, augment it with any other data that you can think of, and the level of insight that you can achieve about your library service, patrons and community can be as broad or as granular as you can imagine.”
  • Chris Riddell wins the Kate Greenaway medal with The Sleeper and the Spindle – Guardian. “Libraries have been a central theme of Chris Riddell’s laureateship. In his acceptance speech on Monday, Riddell praised librarians as “pretty amazing people… they love turning children into readers by teaching them one of the most important life skills you can acquire, which is reading for pleasure. Not SATs tests, or attainment levels, or league tables but the joy of losing yourself in the pages of a good book.”

“Chris Riddell is an outspoken critic of library cuts and told us: “We nationally need to think again. What often happens is things get brought down to local scales, and then the argument is invidious – for example we are closing this library down because we want good health care. But libraries are so important culturally, when you lose them, you lose part of our culture. We need to stop and consider whether we want to live in a society where libraries are being downgraded…. When I see a library under threat it breaks my heart. We also need to take the conversation forward into the area of school libraries which are the fulcrum of literacy and promoting life long reading for pleasure. I would love to be in the country where we led the world in this amazing thing called reading for pleasure.”

  • Devolution offers ‘more opportunities’ for preserving libraries – Public Sector Executive. “Libraries should be given more prominence in devolution deals in order to protect them from funding cuts, the LGA has proposed. The preliminary findings of Ambition for Libraries, a joint consultation by the LGA and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the future of libraries, are being presented to the LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport board at a meeting today”. Proposals for Standards “strongly opposed” by LGA as ”the role of a library service should be defined on a local level to meet local needs, and because of the risk that a national role for libraries would be used to impose further cuts and restrictions” … “It says that the consultation “must recognise that libraries are a locally delivered service that will look different in different places, reflecting local need”.”
  • Internet freedom for all: Public libraries have to get serious about tackling the digital privacy divide. – LSE Impact Blog. “Democratic engagement depends on critique and dialogue. Ian Clark looks at emerging issues related to digital literacy, online privacy and surveillance. Not only is a security divide emerging between those with digital knowledge and skills to protect themselves and those without, but also an intellectual privacy divide. There is scope for public libraries in the UK to teach the skills people need to ensure they can use the internet securely and privately, enabling wider engagement in the democratic process.
  • New Website Launched for Scotland’s Creative Teens – Scottish Book Trust. “www.thestoryis.co.uk will champion, showcase and encourage teenage creative efforts in literature, whatever form these efforts take. Part of Scottish Book Trust’s What’s Your Story? project, the website has been created with the help and advice of teen writers and illustrators. The main element of the website is an online magazine which has three themed submission windows a year. All work accepted for the submission window will receive personal professional feedback from the editorial board and will be considered for publication on the website. Submission is open to young people throughout Scotland aged 13-19.”
  • Stand up against library closures, says prize-winning children’s author Sarah Crossan – Evening Standard. “Sarah Crossan, who won the Carnegie Medal for One, her novel about a pair of conjoined twins, said library closures “infuriated” her. She said she had been impressed to be granted a library card after moving back to the UK from the US three years ago despite having no evidence she was legally here. Crossan, pictured, said: “What does this say about our society? It says even those who are invisible in the system are welcome to learning, information and the arts — that they are entitled to social mobility and they matter.”
  • Vaizey: Library service is not in crisis – BookSeller. “At a debate in the House of Commons last week (16th June) called by Conservative MP Paul Maynard, libraries minister Vaizey criticised library campaigners for their bleak outlook upon the sector. He said: “Paradoxically, many of the people who claim to have libraries at their hearts and to see them as important spend their entire time doing down the library service and claiming that it is on the point of collapse and in crisis.” He added: “I for one think that the library service has an exciting future.” “I do not believe now, that the library service is in crisis”, Vaizey said. “It is having to modernise.” … “Laura Swaffield, chair of The Library Campaign, said: “Ed Vaizey comes back with the 2016 version of his annual ‘libraries are thriving’ speech. He even defends his previous bonkers figures (only 100 libraries closed – really?) and his baffling assertion that he can’t be expected to know what’s going on, or define what a library is. ‘New models of service’ and ‘modernisation’ will apparently solve all problems – which we assume to mean more libraries closed, more run by volunteers or completely unstaffed. As always, it’s us campaigners, local people and the odd MP who are left to point out that there’s a real crisis. We are all castigated for not being more ‘positive’.””

International news

  • Australia – Advancing Queensland’s Public Libraries: A Report – Signal in Transition. “Results indicate that local governments, who own and manage libraries, do not always see the positive impact libraries have on the community, and this limited awareness keeps governments from investing more resources and giving the libraries free reign. However, free reign and resources are the primary things libraries need to make an impact. Strategies that help overcome this challenge include proving impact through evidence, gaining freedom in communication, using innovative methods to circumvent red tape, and acquiring resources locally.” [This ties in so well with my views, it’s plain scary – Ed.]
  • Australia – Mandurah MLA David Templeman worried for public libraries after cuts to system – Mandurah Coastal Times. “Mr Templeman said the cuts would affect the number of hard-copy books and materials available for loan and the van inter-library loan system, which provides a service for many book clubs, would stop. He said the award-winning Better Beginnings program in which 60,000 literacy bags were delivered to every family with a new baby and all children starting school was at risk. He was also disappointed City of Mandurah would axe three full time library positions because they were shifting to an automated exchange system.”
  • Canada – Halifax children’s librarian retires from her ‘dream job’ – CBC. “Greer said she watched those same kids graduate from baby programs, to toddler programs, to children’s activities and “now I’m seeing these teenagers come in, that I knew as babies, and they’re back to be volunteers.” … “She’s going to take a short trip to Montreal to kick things off, and then come back and have “a summer off for the first time in 24 years.””
  • Eire – Joe Connolly: Libraries – Celebrating the Past – Writing. “The 1855 Public Libraries Act was the first ever piece of legislation to establish rate supported Libraries in Ireland. Dundalk, County Louth opened the first free public library in 1858. County Kildare and many other counties were hampered by this legislation as it required having towns with a population of at least 5,000”

““Why should we add to the Rates Bill the salary of a librarian, which will be an additional burden upon the shoulders of an impoverished public?”“Because a good, sound commonsense librarian is just the very person most needed to us to-day”,
“It will be his duty to tell us what to read, in order to improve – our minds, our bodies and our pockets”,
“We want our general out-look widened, and learn what other nations are doing”,
“We need to read about Russia and its experiences about doing away with capitalists and study the Danish system of farming”,
“When we enter the library he should be a guide, philosopher and friend”.” Reasons put forward for public libraries – Eire, 1855

  • Gambia – Global Hands Inaugurates New Library – Daily Observer. “Global Hands The Gambia, a non-governmental organisation under the auspieces of Global Hands UK, on Monday inaugurated its development hub’s library at Manduar village in the West Coast Region. The funds for the construction of the library were raised by students at the University of De Montfort, United Kingdom”
  • Jordan – Game-based Arabic Lessons Brought to Syrian Refugees in Jordan by Libraries Without Borders and eduTechnoz – PR Newswire. “Libraries Without Borders developed the Ideas Box, a portable multi-media toolkit facilitating and strengthening access to non-formal education for vulnerable communities such as refugees. eduTechnoz offers game-based educational online resources for children to learn Arabic. The two organisations joined forces to provide technologically innovative materials for Syrian children in Jordan to learn Arabic and gain literacy skills. Two Ideas Boxes with eduTechnoz resources have been deployed in Jordan: one in Azraq refugee camp and one in a community center in Hashmi Shimali, Amman. Since the end of March 2016, children aged 6-10 can access eduTechnoz educational content, monitor progress and collect badges through the Ideas Box”
  • Netherlands – Dan Brown donates €300,000 to Amsterdam library – BookSeller. “Dan Brown has donated €300,000 (£237,000) to a library in Amsterdam to help make texts on alchemy and mysticism which inspired his novels to be viewable online by the public. The author donated the money to the Ritman Library, known as the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica in Amsterdam, after the manuscripts held there inspired his thrillers The Lost Symbol and Inferno (both Corgi).”
  • Norway – What’s the craziest thing you have ever seen happen at a library? – Quora. “Oslo (Norway) Main Library throws an enormous party in the library building with DJ-s, booze, lights and all once every year to get more into people’s head that library is for everyone. If you picture search for “litterært nachspiel” you can see how it looks like …  had the chance once to talk to one of the organisers who works in the library. She said they don’t worry too much about crowd, people dancing on bookshelves and such because they have been doing it for a while and things go fine. They also don’t bother removing the books for the party. They don’t get stolen.”

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Flooded Heartlands Hospital declares ‘major incident’ – BBC. “Meanwhile, the Library of Birmingham is considering whether to reopen tomorrow after a flooded stairwell forced a temporary closure.”
  • Devon – Libraries Unlimited give out books on the beach to encourage children to read – Torquay Herald Express. “Ciara Eastell, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited, said: “This type of event shows how libraries are changing and how keen we are to find ways to reach out to people who don’t currently use our libraries. What better way than to take books onto Devon’s beautiful beaches to have fun reading sessions with young children and their families?” Five Devon County Councillors contributed £100 each to support the events”
  • Dorset – Dorset mobile library cuts backed by county council committee – BBC. “Proposals to scrap all but one of Dorset’s mobile libraries have been backed by a council committee. It recommended senior county councillors agree to remove three of four mobile library vans from service.”
  • Glasgow – No one in Glasgow should face cancer alone – CILIP. MacMillan partnership with libraries: ” provides practical and emotional support for those living with and beyond cancer in the city’s 33 libraries, to ensure that everyone affected by cancer has access to quality information on their doors” … “To date, we have witnessed over 8,000 attendances at Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries drop-in centres and feel we are making significant inroads in supporting individuals to access the support and information they need on their doorstep. ” … “We know that Glasgow’s library service offers Glaswegians a welcoming hub at the heart of the community. Through the new Vision for Glasgow Libraries, developed in consultation with over 3,000 local residents, the city library service has committed to providing a one-stop-shop for residents’ key social, economic, cultural and educational needs. “
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries Support Campaign To Encourage Young People To Read – NE Connected. “North Yorkshire libraries are encouraging young people to read for pleasure and get more involved in their library in support of the BBC’s Awesome Authors campaign, which is promoting children’s books and encouraging children to read more or to try something new”
  • Sheffield – See what’s on offer in your local library – Star. Councillor proud no closures just many volunteer libraries instead. “claim that the community-run libraries are based in the poorer parts of the city is entirely unfounded and there is a mix of council-run and volunteer-run facilities throughout all parts of our city.”. Councillors says we should be celebrating what has been achieved despite major central government funding cuts.
  • Sheffield – Volunteer councillors – Star / Letters. “In order to set a good example for others in the city, it should be made compulsory for sitting councillors to undertake some unpaid work on a weekly basis in the libraries now run on a voluntary basis. I wondered if any current Sheffield councillors can confirm they are setting an example and undertaking such work, and what they think are the main challenges facing the library service”