It’s been a busy week. The conference of Unison stewards on public libraries was illuminating, with a brilliant presentation from Neath Port Talbot (coming here soon) on a step by step guide to campaign. Other key messages from the event was a disillusionment with Labour’s record on public libraries and a strong desire for Unison itself to involve itself more strongly.  By the way, if you want Labour or Unison to up its game, talk to them. There’s a lot going on and libraries will be missed if we do not make ourselves heard.  Speaking of which, we got to talking about good slogans.  “Open Minds Open Libraries, Closed Libraries Closed Minds” was popular, although there were others.  I even did a quick poll on Twitter:

I know “Libraries Change Lives” is a CILIP slogan but I can’t see them protesting if it’s on every billboard.  Then on Thursday, I visited the Idea Store in Whitechapel. I’ll be doing a separate review on that but the messages are clear from that: invest in good libraries in popular locations, promote reading and don’t get distracted. Simples. Then, speaking to the CILIP ILIG group in the evening gave me lots more to think about, not least about the long term future of this blog. More on that, again, another time.

A conference I’m not attending, but would have loved to, is the annual SCL gathering. This meeting of a large proportion of the chief librarians has often been shrouded in mystery in the past but it’s becoming more and more open, with many tweeting from it and a full programme of talks being available. Check #SCLHorizons on Twitter to see what the bosses are (publicly at least) thinking.

Elsewhere, the ruling Labour group in Brighton and Hove have been beaten by a combined Green/Tory vote over libraries. There’s going to be strike in Barnet over the deep cuts to libraries planned there…. and there’s the general new background of councils steamrollering cuts despite public protest UK wide. Over in South Korea, on the other hand, they’ve just announced further major investment in libraries. Odd that.

Right, now I’m off to meet a coachload of Ghanaians who are visiting us, including one very excited eleven year who will be staying in our house. So, if my next post is late, you’ll know why.  Have a good weekend everyone.

National news

  • Ambition consultation complete – what happened and what’s next? – Libraries Taskforce. 13 workshops and 12 libraries, talking directly to 300 people. “Not only did we hear directly from a wide range of people interested in libraries – including library workers, councillors, members of Friends Groups, library boards, academics, partners, suppliers, campaigners and library users – but these people also got to meet and hear from each other. “
  • Autism Friendly Libraries – ASCEL. “Friday June 10th marks the launch of an Autism Friendly Libraries training film for library staff. Following research showing that more than 9 in 10 people with autism would use their library more if some autism friendly adjustments were made, the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians (ASCEL) is to offer training and support to all 3000 of the nation’s public libraries. The research, conducted by social care organisation Dimensions, showed that whilst people with autism are already more likely than other people to use a library, a few changes could lead to 92% increasing their use of their local library. “
  • BBC and Society of Chief Librarians Sign Strategic Partnership – Society of Chief Librarians. “Under the partnership agreement, both partners will aim to deliver two initiatives per year: one large and one small, as well as collaborating on existing programmes. The two main initiatives for 2016 will be Make it Digital and Get Reading. SCL and the BBC have a history of productive partnership on library programmes, and the BBC was very involved in SCL’s Shakespeare Week project.”
  • Dundee, Radical Librarianship and changing the world – Infoism / Ian Clark. “As noted above, I was asked to basically do a talk explaining what radical librarianship is. Even for someone involved in it from the start, this was a fairly daunting task.” … “One of the questions that cropped up was one that I had pretty much expected: isn’t it already too late – too late to tackle neoliberalism and the state we are in? ” Includes slideshow.
  • Farewell from President Ciara Eastell – Society of Chief Librarians. “It’s not all been plain sailing and there have been a few brickbats along the way.  Some want SCL to be more of a campaigning organisation and see our pragmatic approach to library leadership in the face of significant budget pressures for local authorities as evidence that we’re part of an establishment that no longer cares about the future of our libraries.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  SCL’s work in recent years testifies to a commitment to delivering sustained support for innovation and service improvement, supporting library leaders and their teams to deliver core reading, learning, information and health services within local communities.  I am consistently impressed with the hard work, commitment and resilience of colleagues across the country.  And I challenge anyone to identify any other library body that has delivered so much of tangible benefit as SCL has done in recent years.”
  • Learning from experience – Steven Heywood’s Blog o’ Library Stuff. “Don’t mistake differences in business operation with differences in operational functionality”
  • Libraries in care homes can improve residents’ mood and memory – Guardian. “A growing number of care homes are discovering that libraries and reading groups can transform the lives of their residents, including those with dementia. Residents at Mayflower Court can join the reading group which meets every Tuesday morning in the library.”
  • Novel idea: The quirky miniature libraries popping up across Scotland – STV. “From converted red phone boxes to miniature wooden houses, a new chapter in the history of Scotland’s libraries is being written. Following an America trend which started in 2010 with the launch of the first Little Free Library in Wisconsin, 36,000 free book exchanges have since been set up around the world for people to donate and share small collections of books.”
  • SCL Seminar 2016 – Changing Horizons: challenges, trends and new ways of delivering – Society of Chief Librarians. “More than 140 library leaders, policy makers and partners will mark the start of the Society of Chief Librarians’ annual Seminar, a two-day conference focusing on innovation and best practice in libraries, with a welcome by SCL President Ciara Eastell. The 2016 Seminar— Changing Horizons: challenges, trends and new ways of delivering— will explore the challenges and trends in managing and delivering public library services during a continuing period of austerity.” see also Full programme of conference.

“The library workforce across the country are doing fantastic work in maintaining a strong service and this event shows how passionate staff are about our libraries.  We know more can be done to help the library workforce develop the commercial, digital, marketing and leadership skills that are needed in the sector. That is why the Libraries Taskforce has proposed developing a new Public Library Skills Strategy in its Ambition document, that we have been consulting on with the sector. The strategy is to help ensure the right learning is in place to support existing staff, attract new talent and increase diversity so we can create a library service fit for the future.”  Ed Vaizey, Minister for Libraries

  • Single Library Digital Presence Steering Group – Gov.uk. “It was noted that a prototype would aim to illustrate what an SLDP could feel like to excite discussion and reveal its potential, rather than implying that it would represent a final solution. “
  • Why Cilip’s ‘kite mark’ will crash and burn – Reading Educator. Reasons why CILIP proposed kitemark for school libraries will fail: out of fashion, no lasting impact, you can’t pigeonhole success, will appeal only to supporters, lack of understanding of school libraries.

International news

  • Canada – Canadian Libraries Help Fort McMurray Fire Evacuees – Library Journal. “Although Edmonton Public Library (EPL) has often accommodated users from the Fort McMurray area in the past, said CEO Pilar Martinez, since the evacuation “We’ve waived any sort of requirement for verifying their library card. If their IDs are from Fort McMurray we’ll give them a library card and they can use our resources. If they need to use email, or just want to read some online resources or physical materials, they can come and do so at three or four branches that surround the evacuee site.” In the three weeks since residents began arriving, Martinez told LJ, EPL gave out almost 530 new cards. In Calgary, some three hours south of Edmonton, the Calgary Public Library (CPL) waived non-resident fees for library cards whether they were using the system’s resources on site or remotely.”
  • Canada – Escaping poverty through the library – Independent. “If you think they’re outdated and due for cutbacks, it’s a sign of your good fortune and privilege. Libraries remain vital for the poor.” … “In the end, public libraries had an immeasurable benefit on my life, as I’m sure they did many others. But in the end, too, they helped elevate me out of poverty and into a life I’d dared not dream of as that poor mischievous kid twenty years ago. Last year my wife and I received royalties for 400,000 stories sold.”
  • Canada – There’s A Good Reason Canadians Won’t Give Up Their Libraries – Huffington Post. “Craig got his first taste of activism speaking out to save our local library. We’ve noticed ever since then that when provinces and cities experience a budget crunch, libraries are often first on the chopping block. Yet invariably, citizen rise up to protect them from extinction. Newfoundland’s plan to shutter more than half its public libraries sparked a recent protest by thousands at the provincial legislature. Comedian and commentator Rick Mercer lambasted the government with one of his trademark rants
  • Eire – Beyond the book: a whole new chapter in the role of public libraries – Irish Times. “Irish libraries have made efforts to embrace the move away from printed books with all facilities across the country providing an ebook- and audiobook-lending service since January.” … ” overall library membership continues to grow, having risen by 3 per cent last year. Kelly says “the public library service here is in a far healthier place than in Britain” with 16 new libraries planned and while there has been a small number of closures they are “strategically planned” with the aim of replacing inadequate facilities.”
  • Mexico – In Mexico City, an Indie Library Builds a Community Around Art Books – Hyperallergic. ” They envisioned a place where people from different professional fields and social realms could have access to novel content ranging from theoretical writings by important critics and philosophers to publications and recordings by artist collectives, zines, and mail art from all over the world.” … “Aeromoto’s complete openness to suggestions regarding new book sections, content, and events has considerably nurtured its archive and programs.”
  • South Korea – Korea’s Public Libraries Become More than Just Libraries – Korea Bizwire. “ Public libraries are evolving into what is being referred to as ‘culture development centers’. Local governments are renovating and expanding the facilities to better meet their residents’ changing needs.” … “The Gyeonggi Provincial Government is investing 65 billion won to construct a new central library by 2020. One of the provincial government’s major goals is to use a nearby plaza to promote large-scale book festivals.” [£38.5 million – Ed.]

“The contents of Korean libraries are also changing to better meet their visitors’ needs. Libraries are offering more diversity, including children’s and multi-cultural reference rooms, as well as culture programs like humanities lectures. The Haeundae Library in Busan even offers educational programs specifically aimed at the elderly.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – ‘Book start or book stop?’ – Tireless campaigners say council’s library events scream ‘hypocrisy’ – This is Local London. “The National Bookstart Week, running from June 6-12, in libraries across Barnet, is a celebration of BookTrust’s flagship reading programme – and protesters have welcomed this initiative. However, people are arguing that the decreased number of library staff and opening hours, will mean less of these programmes for children in the near future.”
  • Barnet – Council calls on communities to run its libraries – North London Press. “Residents and community groups in Barnet are being invited to help run four of the borough’s libraries in partnership with Barnet Council. The four libraries, to be known as partnership libraries, are at East Barnet, South Friern, Mill Hill and Childs Hill. A council spokeswoman said: “We are now inviting community groups, not-for-profit and voluntary organisations and groups of residents to come forward to run the new partnership libraries.”
  • Barnet – Strike planned for libraries in Barnet – Socialist Worker. “Barnet council library workers in north London were set to strike for three days from Monday of next week against the Tory council’s plans to outsource the library service. The Unison union members are fighting 47 percent cuts to library posts. Staffed hours at libraries are to be cut by 70 percent. This will mean for most of the time libraries are open under 15 year olds unac-companied by an adult will not be able to use libraries.”
  • Barnet – ‘We need to take action’ – Barnet library workers to strike over cuts to service – Times Series. “Barnet library workers are inviting people to join them on the picket lines as they take industrial action from Monday June 13, to voice their frustration over the Council’s plan to outsource the library service. Barnet Unison represents around 3,000 members in Barnet Council, Barnet & Southgate College, as well as schools and contractors across the borough. Unison representative and libraries convenor, Hugh Jordan, said: “We need to force the council into having meaningful negotiations, we are trying to do something, and we as a branch cannot stand back.”

“Our members are angry at proposals which look to sack half of them and then outsource them to another employer”

  •  Brighton and Hove – Greens and Tories join forces to vote down Hove Library sell-off Argus. If so, this will be the first big defeat for the Labour administration. “Greens secured the future of Hove Library in its present home, while committing the Council to keep ALL of its libraries open for the foreseeable future. Following a joint amendment submitted by the Greens and the Conservative Group (Addendum Two Pack 09.06.16), the city’s libraries were preserved with a £100,000 investment from an unexpected underspend in Council finances this year.” … “The irony of working with the Conservatives is not lost on us.  This is a party whose national austerity agenda has created the local government finance crisis in the first place, and who are directly responsible for the threat to libraries and a host of other services.  Yet Hove Library was an issue where rising above our political differences was necessary to secure the best outcome for the city.” see also Hove Library sell-off hits a wall of opposition – Brighton and Hove Independent. “Hove Library will remain at its 108-year-old home after Conservative and Green councillors ‘put party politics to one side’ and stopped the sell-off of the historic Carnegie building.”

“Rather than address our genuine concerns with their plan, Labour chose to make impassioned pleas and thinly veiled threats about closing community libraries. That’s why we decided to work across party lines to stop the plans in their tracks, and ensure that all community libraries are protected from closures by the Labour council.”

  • Bury – Ramsbottom library could also be under threat as Bury council looks to cut – Rossendale Free Press. “Ramsbottom Library could be under threat after council bosses admitted they may decide to close some of their libraries as part of a cost-saving review.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Backlash as cash-strapped Cambridgeshire County Council bring in £1 charge on book reservations – Cambridge News. “The county council says this is yet another consequence of the ongoing cuts in its funding from the Government, which has resulted in the council having to take tough choices to cuts in areas like social care and transport, as well as the library service. But resident Richard Stevenson said: “They’re going to charge £1 for ordering books, this means people in the villages will no longer have access to a free library service. The books I want to read are never in at my local library, I have to order them from town and it’s an excellent free service.” [My own authority has been happily charging £1 per adult book reservation for years with no problems – Ed.]
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Volunteers needed for reading challenge – Cheshire Today. “Reading Hacks will help sign children up to the challenge, create displays, help children to choose books and give them stickers when they return the books. They also get involved with events, for example, craft sessions and family fun days. Last year 30 young volunteers, aged between 13-24 volunteered in Cheshire West and Chester Libraries during the summer holidays, encouraging young children to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – West Cheshire’s Festival of Learning – Cheshire Today. “Local residents are invited to a whole host of events to give them the opportunity to try something new from exploring Shakespeare, or bike maintenance, to Chinese calligraphy, colouring, football, or first aid; as well as access to e-books and other online services. The events will use the hashtag #LoveToLearn”
  • Coventry – Mills and Boon join forces with Coventry libraries to help city fall in love with reading – Coventry Telegraph. “Mills and Boon will partner with The Reading Agency this summer, and is set to work in conjunction with city libraries in a bid to help Coventry residents fall in love with reading. The #LoveAtTheLibrary campaign aims to remind adults of the joys of reading and inspire them to visit their local library and rekindle their love affair with books, and will run until July 31.”
  • Croydon – What do Croydon’s children think about libraries? – Croydon Citizen. “Croydon Council’s consultation on the future of libraries ended on 16th May. Largely based on involvement of the public via the internet, the exercise did not involve any specific method to find out the views of children.” … “As a member of the governing body of Norbury Manor Primary School I thought that it would be worthwhile to seek the views of the 10-11 year old children who, from September, will be in secondary school. I therefore led sessions with them involving an introduction, group discussion and a survey for each child to complete.”

“The most interesting finding is that the children regard books as more important than computers. Other findings are as follows. Opening hours can be too restrictive. The look and facilities in library buildings are important aspects of why children like or dislike a library. These include how colourful the decorations are, the external look of the building, and the age and quantity of furniture.” Croydon – Children’s survey on libraries

“Plans to sell off Darlington’s Crown Street library and follow the trend of squeezing a rump library service into an existing leisure centre, appear ill-thought out, even by usual library closure standards.  Although the rationale given for the move is the need to save money, Darlington council admits that refurbishing space in the Dolphin Centre to use for library services will cost £1.1m, plus £140,000 to move the registrar service currently in the leisure centre into the town hall.  These works will be funded by borrowing.  The council expects to raise few funds from selling off the grade II listed Crown Street building, noting in its consultation documents: “Disposal values will not be as high as may be imagined by many due to the cost of conversion.  Also making matters awkward is the fact that the building, a bequest to the town in the will of 19th century railway pioneer Edward Pease, is thought to be under a covenant limiting its use.  Its exact status is unclear, as the council admits that it lost the deeds and documents some time around 1974;  but there is a statutory declaration on record which says the building must be “used for purposes of a public library forever”.  Getting the covenant lifted will, at the very least, run up extra legal costs, especiall if challenged.  Nevertheless, moving the library in with the sports facilities will allow for staff cuts and a £60,000 cut to supplies (including books).  The mobile library and neighborough Cockerton library also face the chop.” Darlington – Library News – Private Eye (not available online)

  • Hull – Opening hours slashed at Hull council customer service centres – Hull Daily Mail. “Some of the CSCs also include libraries.It is not yet known whether access to the libraries will be hit by the changes”
  • Lancashire – As residents are urged to have their say over threatened closures… – Blackpool Gazette. “Thousands of people across Fylde, including some 3,000 in Lytham, have already put their names to petitions calling for the local libraries to be preserved. Meanwhile, the Friends of Ansdell Library were delighted with the response to a competition held for local youngsters to design a poster on want from their library”
  • Lancashire – Fight is on to save library “at heart of the community.” – Burnley Express. Protests at Rosegrove.
  • Lancashire – Have your say on council’s wide-ranging services review – Lancashire Evening Post. “Around 1,000 responses have already received since the launch of a public consultation on May 18. The review looks at options including closing libraries, day centres and other council-owned buildings as the cash-strapped authority seeks to make savings.”
  • Lancashire – Library Refurbishment Programme, Lancashire – John Turner. “The library refurbishment programme was carried out under a partnering framework agreement with Lancashire County Council and consisted of fifteen libraries including Skelmersdale Youthspace, Carnforth, Ingol, Oswaldtwistle, Ormskirk, Poulton, Euxton, Lancaster, Burnley The Crib, Haslingden, Colne and Heysham. Some of the libraries were within listed buildings requiring refurbishment, extension and/or upgrade as part of a regeneration programme. ” [Many of these libraries are under threat now – Ed.]
  • Northern Ireland – Protest called against cuts to Carrick Library opening hours – Carrickfergus Times. “A protest is to be held later this month against plans to reduce opening hours at Carrickfergus Library. It is part of a Labour Alternative campaign in response to Libraries NI’s proposal to cut opening at the Joymount location by five hours per week” … “Conor Sheridan, the party’s East Antrim candidate in the recent Assembly election, said: “Our libraries are being subjected to death by a thousand cuts. If we don’t resist this reduction to opening hours, more attacks will come down the line. These vital community services are being systematically run down.”
  • Sheffield – An essential social service – Star. “I wonder if the council could possibly be trying to hide the fact that visitor numbers at community libraries seem to be in rapid decline now that they have sacked the staff?”
  • Sheffield – Thanks to library staff – Star. “One thing that seems to have been forgotten by councillors of all parties and the press is the wonderful library staff that Stannington and other community libraries lost in Sheffield upon the transfer to voluntary groups a couple of years ago …”
  • Sheffield – The fight for libraries – Star. “FOI figures obtained from Sheffield City Council show a massive dip in the use of volunteer book exchanges (formerly libraries), when measured against the standard method used by publicly accountable libraries – so much for libraries being a ‘priority’. ” … “The fact that volunteer-run book exchanges do not have to monitor use in the same way as publicly accountable libraries suggests that any effusive claims by volunteers or councillors as to the ‘success’ of volunteer-run book exchanges lie outside the realms of rational methodology and can only be taken as mere hearsay, perhaps even ‘hype’.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Campaigners to mount new legal fight to save Rhoose library – Barry and District News. “The campaigners – who are objecting to the plans for Rhoose library to close unless local people volunteer to take over the running – have now been given the right to progress a new legal challenge on the grounds that the viability of a community library, and the impact on the community  should it fail, was not properly assessed by the council. The hearing will be held in July. “
  • Wakefield – Wakefield Council plans to cut library opening hours – Yorkshire Evening Post. “Council bosses are proposing to reduce opening times at all 13 of its district’s libraries to make a saving of £150,000.”
  • West Lothian – West Lothian kids invited to sign up for the Big Friendly Read at their local library over the summer – Daily Record. 420 children took up the challenge last year.
  • West Sussex – Littlehampton Library’s 110th anniversary celebrated – Littlehampton Gazette. “Celebrations for the anniversary kicked off with an Edwardian-style afternoon tea on Tuesday, May 31, when more than 200 people flocked to the library for scones with jam and cream, as well as birthday cake” … “Last year alone, Littlehampton Library welcomed 99,498 visitors through its doors and issued 120,203 items”