There’s a chicken and the egg thing going on with bookfund and book issues.  Or rather, a vicious circle. Councils are reducing bookfund claiming that fewer books are being read and then claiming that being that there are lower book issues they can cut bookfund more.  And then, when things get really bad, they can close libraries too. But, of course, if you have fewer books in the first place, you’re going to see declines in usage. It’s hard to borrow something that isn’t there. The fact that it is always easier to reduce bookfund than staffing is a contributory factor in the popularity of this strategy.

Lancashire, who close 20 libraries this week, reduced their bookfund from £2,423,923 in 2011-12 to £1,554,814 in 2014/15 (source: Cipfa).  That’s a huge reduction of 35.8%. Warrington LiveWire, in the news for wanting to close seven branches, including the oldest public library in England (which they will try to move into a, I kid you not, ex shoe shop) have cut their bookfund from £231,496 in 2012/13 to £103,944 in 2016/17.

Look, book issues (but not booksales) may be falling but they’re not falling that much.  A council can admit that they’re reducing libraries because of reduced budgets – like Lancashire, to be somewhat fair, has – but to claim that you’re cutting libraries because no-one is using them after you have annihilated their bookfunds – should be no-one’s idea of a valid argument.


National news

  • British Library forms nationwide network of libraries to share knowledge, collections and creativity – British Library. “Funded by Arts Council England and the British Library for a two-year pilot period, the Living Knowledge Network aims to: Enable knowledge exchange – strengthening libraries’ collective ability to deliver world-class library services to diverse communities; Develop joint offerings for library users – collaborating on programmes, activities and shared content; Form a powerful partnership – working together on funding applications, evidence gathering and to share programmes of activity with a combined audience of 13 million.” … “The British Library’s partners in the Living Knowledge Network are: Birmingham City Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, Edinburgh Council, Libraries Unlimited, Glasgow Life, Kirklees Council, Suffolk’s Libraries Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), Leeds City Council, Liverpool City Council, Manchester City Council, Newcastle City Council, The Preston Harris Library, National Library of Scotland, National Library of Wales, First for Wellbeing, Norfolk County Council, Northern Ireland Library Authorities, Portsmouth City Council, Reading Borough Council, Sheffield City Council, Wakefield Council, Middlesbrough Council and Hull City Council.”
  • A long and barely coherent library rant: librarians…find positions of power – Forgotten Geek. “I’m not convinced librarians should be overtly political. We need to be aware of bias and not force our own on those who we help. We need to be aware, however, of what is occurring in the world and react accordingly. We should never be a censor.” … “Much of society needs a library, but I think it’s just as important that those of us who don’t need one, still use one. ” … “When SCL are backing cuts, what hope does a library campaigner have?” … “An Ipsos Mori poll, published in a Carnegie report by Liz Macdonald states that in all the nations of the UK, more than 70% of respondents thought that libraries were either essential or very important to the community. Yet usage is declining.”

“my message is that library campaigners are more than likely just yelling into an echo chamber. The people running libraries and hence making the decisions on budgets and services aren’t listening. They produce reports and taskforces but they don’t listen to information professionals. People in councils who are the budget holders and policy makers care little for libraries and see them as a way of saving money.”

  • International Games Day @ your library – International Games Day. “Last year 32 libraries in the UK took part (out of 2157 worldwide) and it would be great to get as many or more to sign up this year. You can register your library at http://igd.ala.org/register/
  • Libraries awarded over £2.3m of funding since launch of library strategy – Holyrood. “Scottish libraries have been awarded over £2.3m of funding since Scotland’s first strategy for public libraries was launched just over a year ago. At a conference today to mark the first year of the strategy, which was launched in June 2015, speakers looked at progress and showcased activities such as Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries. The five-year ‘Ambition and Achievement: a Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland 2015-2020’ outlines how to position libraries for the 21st century, where “immense amounts of knowledge, information and culture can be accessed almost instantaneously”.”

“The value of libraries has been questioned against the backdrop of increasing digital information and technology. “But it is the digital age that has helped libraries to deepen their engagement with local communities, forging out new ways to support people in the way they need. “People are still borrowing books, but more people are using their library to access digital information, as a space to learn and to take part in community events and as a local hub to access services”

  • Programme for Government – Welsh Government. “Work with communities to protect local facilities that bring people together, including pubs, libraries, museums, arts centres and leisure centres.”
  • Realising Ambition & Opportunity – One Year On – SLIC. “Public libraries are demonstrating tremendous strength and resilience in a digital information age, proving they have a key part to play in Scotland’s economic, political, social and cultural life. That was the message at yesterday’s event to mark one year since the launch of Scotland’s first public library strategy.” … see also Future of libraries defended at launch of new national strategy – Courier.
  • Realising Ambition & Opportunity – Celebrating One Year of Achievements from SLIC on Vimeo.
  • Twiddlemuffs: a win-win for Olton Library – Libraries Taskforce / Solihull. “Twiddlemuffs are a knitted hand muff with interesting bits and bobs attached inside and out. They have been designed and developed to provide simple stimulation for active hands, while promoting increased flexibility and brain stimulation.  Many patients with dementia have found the Twiddlemuff reassuring and comforting.” … “30 Twiddlemuffs have also been sent to a local nursery. A mother visiting the library was given one for her autistic child to use when stressed. When he used it at nursery, it was seen by nursery staff. They thought they were such a good idea they requested them for all of the children in the group.”

International news

  • Eire – Librarians to consider industrial action over staffless hours – Independent. Impact will be balloting members.
  • Global – International Library Innovators – American Libraries. “ALA Presidential Citations awarded to institutions in Canada, China, Singapore, and Switzerland” … “The National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore partnered with Singapore Polytechnic to employ design thinking methodology to develop a public library in an unusual retail setting. To understand library users’ experiences and changing habits in the use of media and social spaces, they engaged them in the design process and used the insights to conceptualize the library.” … “The Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) partnered with the long-running CHLY 101.7 FM radio show Changes: The Show on Sustainability to create Librarians on the Radio, a show devoted to promoting library services to the wider Vancouver Island community. The show highlights librarians’ passions and interests and connects both library users and nonusers to the larger library world. Library users learn about things that they did not know the library is doing. Nonusers learn that the library is not just about books.” … “The Inner Mongolia Library launched the Cloud Service Project in 2014 with two goals in mind: partner with local bookstores to strengthen demand-driven acquisition and increase the use of the library collection to promote reading. It has proven to be an innovative solution to a continued decline in public borrowing and user complaints about the unavailability of newly published books or high-demand items.”
  • USA – Librarians Get Their GAME On – American Libraries. “At the inaugural Gaming As Meaningful Education (GAME) conference, librarians met to explore how games can be used in education and programming to inspire creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. “
  • USA – Libraries in the age of inequality – Houston Chronicle. “Libraries are not about to become purely digital endeavors. The notion that e-books will completely replace physical books is tired.”

Local news

  • Cheshire East – Plea for Lego bricks to help build up kids’ club – So Cheshire. “Macclesfield Library is on the hunt for toy bricks in order to boost its popular children’s club. The Jordangate library in the town centre held a hugely successful Lego Club over the summer and now Macclesfield librarians are hoping to make it a regular thing – but they needs more bricks”
  • Dundee – Challenges for Dundee library after huge slump in visitors – Evening Telegraph. 33,000 fewer visitors in one year: reduction of around 15%, which was 30% up on previous year [Sounds to me like they’re simply not counting visitors accurately – Ed.]
  • Essex – #Harlow: Essex mobile librarian has receives a national award – Essex TV. “Tom Colloff, a supervisor with Essex Libraries, received the ‘Mobile Library Champion of the Year’ award for helping deliver a mobile service across hard to reach parts of the town.” … “I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of two such great teams at Harlow and in the Mobile Library Service and to have the support of so many wonderful customers around the county”
  • Lancashire – £128,000 facelift for Silverdale library – Lancashire Council. [This news article from 2012 has been deleted from the council website, possibly because the library is closing this week – Ed.]
  • Lancashire – Blackpool MP calls for public inquiry on Lancashire libraries closures – Blackpool Gazette. “Paul Maynard, the Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, has written to libraries minister Matt Hancock calling for a formal investigation into the decision to shut 29 libraries across the county including those in Thornton, Cleveleys, Lytham and Freckleton.”
  • Lancashire – Building consultation decision – Lancashire Council. Map showing where the children’s centres and libraries will be closed.
  • Lancashire – Final chapter for Lytham and Freckleton libraries – Blackpool Gazette. “In the meantime, bids to run Lytham and Ansdell libraries as community libraries, staffed by volunteers, are being considered and it is understood that it will be next month before the outcome of those is known.” … “Fylde MP Mark Menzies [Conservative] has asked Culture Secretary Karen Bradley to review the decision. “
  • Lancashire – Prepare to pay more for less from Lancashire County Council – 2BR. “Our top priority has to be looking after people with disabilities, the frail elderly and vulnerable children – which is why we’ve had a big row over the last few weeks over library closures and various other cuts in the budget. The key thing that the County Council has to find in the budget is money to look after the most vulnerable people in our society. And right now, I can’t guarantee that in three years’ time we will have sufficient resources to look after all of those people in the way in which they and their families would like them to be cared for.”
  • Lancashire – Silverdale library finally shelved this week as eleventh-hour hopes dashed – Westmorland Gazette. “Margaret Mackintosh, a leading light in the Facebook campaign to keep Silverdale library open, described the decision by Lancashire County Council as “depressing and disturbing” as well as “predetermined, cold and calculated”. Campaigners had hoped that the arrival of hyperfast, fibre optic broadband in Silverdale could lead to the Emesgate Lane building becoming the country’s first “one-gigabit library” – leading to a transformation of digital services and even a potentially crucial role during emergencies and disasters.”
  • Lancashire – These libraries in Preston and South Ribble close on FridayBlog Preston. “These buildings which have provided learning and information for people for decades are to close their doors on Friday for a final time.”
  • Lancashire – What next for two Hyndburn libraries to close at end of this week – Accrington Observer. “Oswaldtwistle and Clayton-le-Moors libraries will be mothballed on Friday, September 30 while Lancashire County Council (LCC) considers expressions of interest in transferring them to community hands. Wendy Sanderson, a member of the LAMP group which has expressed an interest in taking on Oswaldtwistle library, said the closure of the town’s 100-year-old library is upsetting. She said: “It is D-day for the libraries. Everybody is very upset – we don’t know whether they’re just going to board the library up and leave it derelict.”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries are more than just books – Yorkshire Post / Letters. Wide range of services offered. Canadian writes that Canadian libraries doing very well and a library, once closed, will never reopen.
  • Oxfordshire – Night time access to books with out-of-hours library scheme in Summertown – Oxford Mail. “£25,000 ‘out-of-hours’ service was launched. Libraries in Summertown and Eynsham have been chosen for a trial scheme, that if successful, could be rolled out across the county’s 43 libraries.” … “”The people of Summertown love their library, we showed that by fighting to save it from the threat of closure five years ago. “People in the area have also been donating money for an upgrade ever since and we are about three-quarters of the way to our £80,000 target. He added: “Residents have been pushing for an extension to opening hours for a while, and this is great news.”
  • Swindon – We want your views and we listen to your ideas, says David Renard – Swindon Advertiser. “We have contacted as many groups and people who would be interested or affected by these potential changes as we can, and for some time – it was actually back in December when we started consultation on the parishes issue, and February for our proposals for libraries, so it’s been the best part of a year. “
  • Warrington – Annual library spend on books slashed over past three years – Warrington Guardian. “Figures revealed that the company’s budget for books was £231,496 for 2012 to 2013 but the amount fell year on year, with the 2016 to 2017 budget at £103,944. In 2013 LiveWire budgeted to spend £1.14 per resident on books but in the 2016 budget that number fell to just 50p per person.”
  • Warrington – Country’s oldest public lending library at risk – ITV. “Warrington was the birthplace of the public lending library, but now its own services are under threat.”.  TV interviews include with boss of Livewire, who claims decline in usage leads them no choice, and many users who say how much they value the libraries soon to be closed.