Rob Wilson, the minister responsible for public libraries, has gone on record as saying libraries should move towards a “community hub” model, probably with social enterprises running them and ties in with health and wellbeing.  Being the chair of the Libraries Taskforce is boss of Northamptonhire, whose model Rob Wilson is so approving of, this is no surprise. The Taskforce – a major source of information to the minster – is hardly going to diss the views of their boss. In addition, Rob comes from a background of being very pro volunteer and social enterprise so it ties in with his pre-existing thinking. But, look at the webpage for “First for Wellbeing“, the Northants social enterprise, and you’ll see you need to scroll down for a first mention of libraries, if you can find it at all. It may be that FTW (great acronym, by the way) are indeed good for libraries but there’s sufficient worries in other non-library led trusts (hello again Warrington Livewire) to be more cautious of this approach than the minister apparently is.


National news

  • Arts and culture funding to be shifted away from the capital – LocalGov. “Funding for arts and culture outside of London will be increased by 4% by 2022, Arts Council England has announced” [It’s unclear what proportion of the funding London gets at the moment – Ed.]
  • A new chapter of opportunities for libraries with the Arts Council – Libraries Taskforce / Brian Ashley. ” in addition to being eligible for our open access Grants for the Arts (GftA) fund, libraries will now be able to apply for longer term investment as National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) for museums and libraries activity, and will be eligible for all strategic funds. Local authorities are responsible for delivering library services” … “how can your library get a slice of this action?” … “Decisions will be announced by the beginning of July 2017, which will then allow time to negotiate the funding agreement before activity starts in April 2018. I hope to see libraries represented in the National Portfolio for the first time, with a closer and even more successful relationship between libraries and the Arts Council.”
  • Rob Wilson: A fresh start for the minister – Third Sector. “All of Wilson’s previous responsibilities came with him to the DCMS, but responsibility for libraries – now run by volunteers in many places – was added to his brief. “We have a libraries task force that produced a best-practice toolkit, and we are producing a document called Ambition in the not too distant future,” he says. “I am keen on a whole variety of models: mutuals, social enterprises, some volunteer-led – a mix of different options that local authorities can consider. “

“Northampton has a very interesting social enterprise where they have 51 per cent ownership and their library service is part of a community hub that includes health and wellbeing. So I see libraries moving much more towards a community hub model” Rob Wilson, minister responsible for public libraries in England [He means First for Wellbeing – you have to scroll down on their website before you find mention of libraries: chair of Libraries Taskforce is Chief Exec of Northamptonshire – Ed.]

International news

  • USA – How Libraries Save Lives – Brain Pickings. “We weren’t allowed books: books were heavy … the library books told me that hope was not just a word” … “A beautiful testament to that emancipating, transformative power of public libraries comes from one such troubled little girl named Storm Reyes, who grew up in an impoverished Native American community, had her life profoundly changed, perhaps even saved, by a library bookmobile, and went on to become a librarian herself. She tells her story in this wonderful oral history animation by StoryCorps:”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Bath libraries to be open less under changes introduced by Bath and North East Somerset Council – Bath Chronicle. “Bath’s libraries will be open 8.5 hours less a week under new changes coming into effect at the end of the month. The Bath Central Library above Waitrose will be open three hours less, Moorland Road will close for two-and-a-half hours and Weston will be shut an extra three hours a week, Monday to Sunday.” … “The Library Service needs to make significant financial savings over the next few years.”
  • Dundee – Dundee Libraries up for Digital Award – Leisure and Culture Dundee. “Dundee Library & Information Services hope to pick up a prestigious award for work undertaken by their Opportunities project tackling social, digital and economic deprivation. They have been shortlisted for the O2 NextGen Digital Challenge Awards 2016 that celebrate innovation, success and leadership in the UK’s digitally transformed economy.”

“The Opportunities Project was created to provide responsive support to those seeking access, skills and support to cope with the changes to Welfare Reform. Through the creation of a dedicated space in Central Library and the refocusing and rebranding of the existing Reference Library, the project offers advice and assistance to job seekers and benefit claimants and anyone experiencing digital deprivation, delivering targeted IT training sessions through a coordinated group of volunteers supported by library staff.”

  • Edinburgh – Your Services Are Changing – Play Your Part – Edinburgh Council. “We want a) to support individuals and community groups to become more involved in delivering library services b) more Council and partner services to operate from shared hubs (like Drumbrae and the East Neighbourhood Centre) c) explore opportunities to provide access to facilities after normal opening hours – for example through swipecard access to unstaffed facilities.” [I think this is the first Scottish authority to publicly consider Open+ etc – Ed.]
  • Hampshire and Southampton – The Berry Theatre launches innovative writing project in Eastleigh and Southampton schools – Tec Hub Eastleigh. “The Berry Theatre has launched its innovative Story Shuffle creative writing project for 7-11 year olds across 10 pairs of schools and libraries in Eastleigh and Southampton. The project will encourage pupils to complete 10 writing challenges throughout the Autumn term, which will then be fed into a mobile app, created by Digital Arts Programme associate, TinRaven. Once completed, stories in the app will be unlocked by visiting the school’s partnering library, allowing the children to read their own individual creations and introducing them to an even wider range of books. Following an initial workshop with the Hedge End-based theatre’s Drama Development team, the schools will use the story of Southampton’s legendary hero, Sir Bevis, as the basis for the challenges, devised by the theatre’s associate writer, Matt Beames.” … “The project has been supported by a £50,000-investment from Southampton-based charity Artswork, along with further funding from Eastleigh Borough Council and Arts Council England.
  • Lambeth – Stand Up To Lambeth Council March, 8th Oct: powerful new video released – Brixton Buzz. “There appears to be growing discontent with many of Lambeth’s policies, in particular their treatment of Cressingham Gardens residents, their support for Network Rail’s plans to evict traders in the Brixton arches and their utterly bonkers scheme to turn popular libraries into privately run gyms with some books on the side.”
  • Lancashire – Adlington Library looks set to escape permanent closure – 2BR. “a business plan put forward by Friends of Adlington Library and Chorley Borough Council has been recommended for acceptance. It means, with further planning, the service should escape permanent closure.”
  • Sheffield – Ailing library service – Star / Letters. Smaller branches need professional library staff instead of self-service machines. Volunteer libraries “have failed”.
  • Sunderland – Chance to have say on future of library services in Sunderland – Sunderland Echo. “A consultation seeking the views of library users and non users including children, young people and families as well as potential partners in the voluntary, community, public and private sectors ends on Friday, October 21.”
  • Warrington – Appleton Parish Council “strongly objects” closure of any library in town – Warrjngton Guardian. Council not impressed by “lending lockers” replacing closed libraries.
  • Warrington – Borrow-A-Book-Day, Saturday October 15th at libraries across Warrington – 38 Degrees. “We are calling on everyone to go to their local library any time it’s open on Saturday October 15th and borrow a book (or two!). And take friends and family along with you! All library details are on our site at www.SaveWarringtonsLibraries.org/borrow-a-book-day. We’re also putting on special activities at 11am on October 15th at several of the libraries under threat, including special talks by famous authors that support the campaign and fun activities for the family.”
  • Warrington – Video: Library campaigners protest at Stockton Heath Library – Warrington Guardian. “The Save Warrington’s Libraries campaign has attracted attention from national media and residents spoke to a presenter from the BBC at the protest. A petition asking Warrington Borough Council to scrap LiveWire’s proposals has already been signed by more than 7,500 people. Campaigners have organised a Borrow a Book Day on October 15 and are inviting residents to visit their neighbourhood library to take part in free events.”
  • West Berkshire – Date set for debate on the future of libraries – Newbury Today. “A vital report that outlines the future of West Berkshire’s library service will be discussed and debated by councillors at a public meeting on Thursday, October 20. As part of its plan to save £730,000, West Berkshire Council announced hugely controversial proposals to close eight of the district’s nine libraries – leaving just Newbury open.”
  • Worcestershire – Young people invited to join a ground-breaking arts project – Bromsgrove Advertiser. “Eight young people in the county have already been involved in the major innovative venture called A Place Free Of Judgement enabling them to work with internationally renowned artists. Two other library services – Telford and Wrekin and Staffordshire – are also taking part in this three-way project. ” … “During the summer months the Worcestershire young people attended workshops run by artists group Blast Theory where they learned to use cameras and recording equipment, do live streaming and webcasting and contribute to story writing with acclaimed author Tony White. “

“We would like to hear from anyone who wants to experience something completely different. It is a ground-braking project which is partly digital and partly live. It is brand new and really pushing the boundaries for us,”