Dawn Finch has upped the pressure again, after an excellent fact-finding interview with a volunteer a couple of days ago, with a “rallying cry” for those who know library volunteers are “exploitative and unsustainable”. Have a read of her original article, if you have not already done so, then perhaps her words in the BookSeller.

In other news, Lancashire has chosen World Literacy Day to rubber stamp the closure of large parts of its library service. They probably couldn’t read the calendar properly in order to appreciate the irony of this. Perhaps they need to visit libraries more to help them out. Oh, too late.

Finally, Warrington LiveWire – who, you will remember tried to push through several closures under the pretence it was modernising and expanding its service – woke up to a big front page with pictures of the libraries in question and the headline saying they are under threat. Should have been honest and upfront to begin with, guys. You’re opening yourself up to legal challenge if not just a ton of reputational damage. Mind you,  I understand some people who have been filling in the consultation get a reply saying thank you for enquiring about swimming lessons so perhaps it’s just being seen as them as a cunning cross-promotional drive for their pools.

“I know that for many this makes grim reading, but it is an important truth that many are trying to ignore. I have a thick skin and can take the flak and it’s worth it to get the truth heard. The post has been very well received and in the last 48 hours it has been read almost 2,000 times. Since I posted it on Monday afternoon I have had many messages from volunteers in both libraries and museums who all say that their situation is almost exactly this, but that they too are afraid to speak out for fear of alienating their every-diminishing pool of volunteers. They also say that they “don’t want to upset” the local authority as it will “only make things worse”. I want this to be a rallying cry, and a kick up the pants for anyone who thinks that handing everything over to volunteers is anything other than exploitative and unsustainable.” Dawn Finch, President, CILIP via email



National news

  • Chris Riddell: Libraries play vital role in helping children find the perfect book to read for pleasure – Edinburgh News. ” as UK Children’s Laureate, I want to repay a small portion of my debt to school librarians. I try to do this by speaking about the importance of school libraries in children’s literary journeys and the role school librarians play in promoting literacy, not as an educational target but as a life-enhancing pleasure.”
  • “I feel comfortable in the library now”: Reading Ahead in libraries – Libraries Taskforce. “Editor’s note: To mark International Literacy Day (8 September), Genevieve Clarke from The Reading Agency describes the impact of its Reading Ahead programme, which reaches 10,000 adults and young people each year through public libraries”
  • Pupil library assistant of the year award – Lib Pupil Award. “This Award is to recognise the contribution made by pupils who work in their school libraries, to acknowledge the skills gained and to give them the recognition they deserve, both within and outside their school community.”. Nominations open 19th September.
  • A shared sense of place and mutual interests: #Islington50s – Libraries Taskforce. “We have been using the campaign to draw awareness of the range of offers available from Islington Libraries. #islington50s starts with an image of somewhere in the borough in the 1950s. It’s then followed by a book recommendation, music album recommendation and then a film recommendation all from the 1950s. Finally we finish off with another local image from the ‘50s. The book, music and film recommendations were available from two libraries alongside a booklist. The images are all available from our Local History centre. We started off #islington50s on 1 July and there were 5 tweets every day using this hashtag for the month”
  • ‘War on social cohesion’: Finch slams community cuts – BookSeller. “Dawn Finch, children’s author and president of CILIP, has launched an attack on cuts to community resources, branding them tantamount to a “war on social cohesion and our culture”. Finch made the comments in her blog, in which she interviewed an anonymous volunteer at a museum about the pressures of taking on a community resource which has been stripped of help or funding from the local council. The powerful interview exposed the desperation of a volunteer fighting to keep an unnamed museum in England operating with little or no help from the council or arts organisations. The volunteer describes working 40-hour weeks for free while drawing on her diminishing life savings to survive, putting her marriage under strain and having the threat of the museum’s closure hanging constantly over her head.”

International news

  • Global – Settle into ten of the most beautiful libraries on Earth – Wired. Dokk1 in Denmark, Lawrence Public Library in USA, Yangzhou Zhangshuge in China, Beyazit Library in Turkey, Vennesla Library in Norway, Bodo Public library in Norway, Chicago Public library in USA, the Library of Birmingham in UK, Halifax Library in Canada and Conarte Library in USA. [Check out the one in China: mind-boggling – Ed.]
  • India – Muskaan’s flight to fame: From library in slums to Niti honour – Times of India. “Child icon and librarian, Muskaan Ahirwar, 9, who won global accolades for her effort to spread education as a librarian, has been named for ‘Thought Leader’ award by the country’s economic think-tank, NITI Aayog for transforming India with innovative thoughts. ” … ” the place where she used to put up the library, in her verandah has now been converted into a toilet area. And she has been shifted to a platform outside colony, which has no place to keep or hang books for display. Still, she opens the library every day.”
  • USA – How Successful Libraries Thrive in Uncertain Times – OCLC / Webjunction. “Have you noticed that some libraries manage to thrive even when times are tough and things are going against them? We would all love to know how to pave the way for future success in a world that seems to change by the hour. Successful libraries don’t have a crystal ball but they do share five characteristics that encourage positive results, regardless of what the world throws their way.”
  • USA – Igniting a Love of Reading: CCPL’s SPARK Program Removes Barriers – OCLC. “Many public libraries offer a summer reading program, but the IMLS National Medal award-winning Cecil County Public Library’s program is unique in its focus. Sociologist Karl Alexander’s 30-year longitudinal study of socioeconomic differences in children’s learning (Schools, Achievement, and Inequality: A Seasonal Perspective, 2001) concluded that access to libraries over the summer was the single most determining factor in whether or not a child makes educational gains during the summer, combating both summer learning loss and, in the long term, strengthening high school graduation rates.”

“The SPARK program encourages students in 5th and 6th grades to read more over the summer in three key ways: 1) by removing barriers to libraries such as transportation and fines, 2) by allowing students to select their own reading materials and 3) by engaging with highly skilled librarians.”

Changes by authority

  • Brent – September 2016 – Brent Libraries. “Autumn is now upon us and if you have any fruit trees overburdened with the fruits of the season then we can help.  We have a 4 metre telescopic picking tool available to borrow from Kilburn Library.”
  • Lancashire – Breaking: cuts for Lancashire approved – 2BR. “it has been decided that registration centre is going to be based at Rawtenstall Library instead of Haslingden Library, which was the original plane. People in Pendle will have to wait to hear more about the Brierfield Library as that’s still up for further consideration. Other cuts have gone ahead as planned.”
  • Lancashire – County Hall bosses rubber stamp libraries sell-off – Longridge News. “Plans to sell more than 100 libraries, children’s centres and other facilities across Lancashire have been rubber stamped by County Hall chiefs. The authority’s cabinet has agreed changes to the way county council services are delivered, which bosses say will “ensure people still have good access to good services”, while delivering millions in savings.”
  • Lancashire – Cuts to libraries and public buildings come under LCC scrutiny – Rossendale Free Post. “County hall chiefs have revealed that no valuation process has yet begun on public buildings and libraries due to close as a result of budget cuts. Deputy county council leader Coun David Borrow confirmed that no steps to assess the value of buildings deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ had yet been taken by officers”
  • Lancashire – Four years of four per cent council tax rises predicted – Lancashire Evening Post. “Campaigners including Jane Porter and Alison Stevens attended the county hall meeting to hear what councillors had to say about the plans to close Fulwood Library. .Jane and the Help Save Fulwood Library group had collected more than 3,930 signatures on a protest petition against the planned closure” … “Beforehand Jane was still optimistic the library could be saved and said her MP, Ben Wallace, was “monitoring the situation”. Tory Coun Vivien Taylor asked what price the library could expect to be sold for and was told no valuations had been made. She also challenged council leader County Coun Jenny Mein who said last week Fulwood library users would be able to get a bus into Preston to use the Harris Library instead, asking whether she would like to send children into town to complete homework tasks. Tory councillors – angered they had been given days to analyse 1,000-page reports – failed in a bid to force a delay.”
  • Lancashire – Tory pledge over libraries – Blackpool Gazette. “County Coun Tim Ashton, whose Lytham ward covers both the town’s library and that at Ansdell, said: “We would certainly reopen any closed libraries in the event of us regaining control of the County Council but for now, I have to stress that all is not lost and I will be doing everything I can to preserve our libraries.”
  • Leicestershire – Closure threat as deal to run Desford Library falls through – Hinckly Times. “Plans for a community group to take over Desford Library have fallen through and the centre is at risk of being closed if no deal can be reached. Cash-strapped Leicestershire County Council is in the process of transferring up to 36 libraries to volunteer groups to slash £800,000 from its budget. Desford Community Group submitted a successful bid to the council to take over the library in May last year. But following legal advice, the group says it wants the council to spend £45,000 on repairs before it signs a 10-year lease agreement.” … “If no deal can be reached by the end of September, the council will launch a three-month consultation recommending the library be replaced with a mobile service.”
  • Renfrewshire – Skoobmobile in the running for national library award – Renfrewshire 24. “Renfrewshire’s mobile children’s library outreach service, the uniquely named Skoobmobile, featuring friendly book monsters known as the Skoobs, has been shortlisted for the prestigious CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award for best practice in UK library services. Promoting reading and play combined for children age 0-12, the mobile library stocks a broad range of children’s books in a flexible space that houses a range of activities based around play, reading and physical and digital activity. The bus tours the community to open its doors to children and adults at schools, nurseries, community spaces and family events
  • South Gloucestershire – Library changes will see jobs lost in South Gloucestershire – Hinckley Times. “The changes approved by members of South Gloucestershire Council’s Environment and Community Services (ECS) committee yesterday mean visitors to libraries will use a swipe card to gain entry, in a move designed to extend the opening hours to 9am to 8pm and allow a seven-day service. However, the introduction of the Open Plus technology would mean that not as many library staff are needed, leaving workers fearing for their future.”
  • Suffolk – How Suffolk Libraries uses Chrome devices to keep visitors coming back for more – Google for Work Blog. “Today we hear from Leon Paternoster, Deputy Head of IT at Suffolk Libraries in Ipswich, UK. Suffolk Libraries serves the UK county’s population of over 700,000. Learn how Suffolk Libraries uses mobile technology to keep its members engaged and interested in visiting their local branch.”
  • Swindon – Anomaly of libraries – Swindon Advertiser / Letters. “This town almost gave birth to the principle of lending libraries – as with NHS – so why do we find ourselves now lagging behind in this respect?”
  • Swindon – Staff proposal to save more libraries revealed despite council’s best efforts – Swindon Advertiser. “Representatives from the council were left red-faced on Tuesday evening when a staff proposal for an alternative future for Swindon’s libraries was leaked at their own public meeting. The council team took receipt of the proposal last month but chose not to declare its existence to the public despite delivering an extensive presentation which purported to include alternative options to the existing strategy.” … “The staff proposal would see the number of libraries saved rise to five, crucially including Park Library which serves the more socially and economically disadvantaged communities in its surrounding area. The model would also see far more staffed hours maintained, with 31 per week in North and West Swindon and 27 in Highworth and Park.”
  • Warrington – Petition launched to save town’s libraries from closure – Warrington Guardian. “The campaign was set up by childminder Dina Kingsnorth-Baird who said children who are home schooled would be especially affected by the closures. She said: “People are worried about losing their library buildings. They want a place to be able to browse real books within a real community.”
  • Warrington – Save Warrington’s libraries – 38 Degrees / Petition. “Bin your proposals to close, move and water down Warrington’s libraries. Instead, commit to retain all existing libraries, consult with the public and community groups on ways to involve even more community groups in to existing libraries and do more to publicly promote and celebrate the many activities already on offer across the network.”