Wherever I go, the most successful libraries are those who have a clear strategy and vision.  In Tower Hamlets, it’s based on location, on combining with adult education and on reading for pleasure. They have also, root and branch, changed their staffing.  There’s no bibliographic services department, at all. There’s no actual long term specialists, at all. There’s also no freedom to blue tack an amateur poster up or to say that an event isn’t happening, or say a computer problem can’t be fixed because that person is on holiday.

They’re pretty hard nosed about that, and rightly so. In times of crisis, inertia and existing working practices can kill. So now, in this time of crisis, they’re not facing a crisis. Because they know what they’re doing, they’re well used and they can defend everything they do in easy to understand terms. Sound good? Bite the bullet and see how you can learn from them. Because it’s kind of embarrassing that so many aren’t. The week I was there, they had a delegation from South Korea for goodness sake. But there’s not been much about Tower Hamlets seen in the UK recently.  It’s like because it has been there for a few years it’s not important any more.  Well, it is. And here’s why …

Read more at Idea Stores: what the ideas are and why they’re important – Public Libraries News. 


National news

  • Are libraries safe spaces? – Infoism / Ian J Clark. Questions whether public libraries are “safe spaces” due to need for libraries to reportvia Prevent and other legal/council requirements.
  • Cilip AGM 2016 – Leon’s Library Blog. “Cilip is also ensuring that librarians and staff have a strong voice on the Libraries Taskforce. And while this is still not enough for some I see it as evidence of an increasingly confident and vocal professional body, willing to champion the value of libraries and librarians. So this year the other winner is Cilip itself in achieving what some people would have considered impossible; giving me nothing to be grumpy about.”
  • Idea Stores: what the ideas are and why they’re important – Public Libraries News.
  • Local Libraries and Independent Bookshops in the UK – House of Lords Library Note. “On 13 October 2016, the House of Lords will debate the cultural, civil and educational significance of local libraries and independent bookshops in the United Kingdom.” … “This Library briefing presents some of the arguments made in support of local libraries and independent bookshops. It provides background about the history of public libraries, legislation governing its provision and statistics on public libraries and independent bookshops. It concludes by highlighting some recent developments in these areas.”

International news

  • Canada – Alberta’s indigenous families given cheaper access to public libraries – Global News. “Previously, indigenous people living on-reserve or on-settlement could be charged non-resident fees in order to get a library card from a neighbouring community”.  Fees can normally be up to $60 per year [£35 – Ed.]
  • Eire – Councillors vote no to staffless libraries in Laois – Leinster Express. “Laois County Councillors have voted to indefinitely suspend a plan to leave libraries open for longer, with no staff, with predictions that it would spell the beginning of the end for libraries. Councillors voted yesterday to block the controversial plan which the Government had been pushing in Laois and other councils. They backed a motion from Independent Cllr James Kelly to defer indefinitely a plan to implement unstaffed hours in Laois’ ten libraries. “Staff in Laois are very concerned about this proposal. There has been no consultation. The human interaction would be gone,” he said.”
  • Global – The ‘miracle of Marrakesh’ – a day of celebration – EIFL. “From now on, in all countries that are party to the treaty, accessible format copies such as Braille, audio, digital and large print can be made on-demand and shared across borders, enabling institutions such as libraries to serve all their users equally – same book, same day. This is because the treaty mandates the making of accessible format copies and sharing across borders, without having to seek permission from rightsholders. In a nutshell, print disabled people can no longer be denied access to books and other reading materials in alternative formats due to copyright restrictions. The treaty applies to countries that are party to it – at the time of writing, 22 states. With every new country that joins, we are a step closer to ending the book famine – the fact that only 7% of published works are made available globally in accessible formats. In the developing world, where 90% of blind and visually impaired people live, the figure is less than 1%.””
  • Sri Lanka – British Council Sri Lanka opens refurbished Colombo and Kandy premises – Colombo Page. “Since its opening, the library has withstood the test of time and technology to establish itself as one of the main libraries in the country. In addition to its three libraries in Colombo, Kandy and Jaffna, the British Council also recently launched its first offsite library at Orion City. Recognizing that a library must offer both a refuge from the outside world but also a connection to it, the British Council has continuously sought to modernize its systems to accommodate new technology and ways of learning for a smoother, more efficient and a much more connected library experience. The Colombo, Kandy and Jaffna libraries offer a remarkable collection of over 70,000+ books and access to numerous online sources and resources to improve language skills and prepare for a range of exams including IELTS, Cambridge English, IGCSEs, O-levels and A-levels.”
  • USA – Five Steps of Outcome-Based Planning and Evaluation for Public Libraries –  Reference & User Services Quarterly56.1 (Fall 2016): 52. Williams, Lisa Powell.
  • USA – If You Think Libraries Are Redundant, Read This – Zocalo. “one of the first places you go as a child where you have a certain degree of responsibility,” .. “Rodriguez recounted a few of the things people complain about in the library, including a large homeless presence and a confusing mission where a library can sometimes seem like a community center.” … “dealing with such a broad customer base is a challenge. But librarians want to help everyone, and have rules to keep patrons safe.” … “one of the few civic assets still open to a lot of different people” … “The public library hopefully remains one of those civic spaces where you encounter people from different perspectives, where you have a level playing field”
  • USA – Memory Care at Your Library – Public Libraries Online. “Public libraries have responded to societal trends for decades, so it’s no surprise that librarians are serving patrons with dementia. The approaches I uncovered are anything but cookie cutter style, varying in focus as well as in the required resources and expertise.” … “cafés, known as the Memory Project, as a common ground where every attendee participates and one doesn’t necessarily know which participants are the caregivers”
  • USA – Podcast: Rethinking Public Libraries from ICMA 2016 – EIGL. Includes “Are libraries overlooked and underappreciated? The role that libraries play in economic development, education, civic engagement, workforce development, and digital inclusion; The four model libraries in the United States”

Local news by authority

  • Cambridgeshire – Cambridgeshire’s community and mobile libraries boosted courtesy of online giant Amazon – Wisbech Standard. “The online retailer has contributed 800 non-fiction books to the county’s four mobile libraries, and has donated 50 Amazon Fire tablets to the council’s volunteer-led ‘Library at Home’ service, which supports housebound and vulnerable people across the country. The donations come as part of Amazon’s ‘Amazon in the Community’ programme, which will see the county’s libraries develop six new roving book collections which are aimed at young people and aimed around science, technology and encouraging youngsters to broaden their horizons and develop new skills.”

PLN reviewing the news: there are many different ways of viewing the above Amazon donation to Cambridgeshire:

(1) A  donation  that should be welcomed and serve as a model for future income generation as budgets are ever more tightly squeezed.

(2) A gift that one can’t refuse: the library service does not have enough money to do it themselves and cannot afford to look at the down-sides.

(3) Fire tablets will help some of the library’s most vulnerable customers get online and take advantage of the libraries’ book and audio book offers

(4) A tax-avoiding company is maximising the gift for maximum public relations value while at the same time turning library staff into their salespeople.

(5) Public libraries should be able to fund basic needs by itself: accepting corporate sponsorship diminishes the neutrality and freedom of the library.

It’s important to realise that all these views are valid: it just depends on who you are, whether you’re thinking locally or nationally, short or long-term, what your viewpoint on capitalism and public good is.

  • Lancashire – Campaigners warn museums and libraries could be closed for good – Lancashire Telegraph. “Ribble Valley Tory MP Nigel Evans said: “I believe these cruel library and museums closures are final. Holding out a false hopes about negotiations to reopen them is a disgrace. If they intended to save them, they would have kept them open during talks.” “
  • Lancashire- Iconic mill could house library as talks continue over future – Burnley Express. “The historic mill, home to the world’s last remaining steam-powered looms, was one of a number of museums and libraries as a result of huge government cuts.” … “The Burnley Express can also reveal that the nearby Briercliffe Library, which also closes today, could in future be run by volunteers from Briercliffe Parish Council and the Briercliffe Society.”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire’s cash crisis – museums and libraries close – ITV. “Five museums and six libraries are closing in Lancashire as part of a package of cuts totalling £200 million. The county council says it’s being forced to make savings because of the Government’s austerity measures. But one Lancashire MP says the council is turning the county into a desert”. Video.
  • Lancashire – Library closures not the end of the story, vow protesters – Lancashire Evening Post. “Fulwood is one of the first six to shut up shop tonight – the others are Penwortham, Bamber Bridge, Freckleton, Lytham and Thornton. The next batch, including Lostock Hall and Adlington, will follow by the end of November.”
  • Lancashire – Lifeline bid submitted for shut down library – Gazette. “The idea is to have a library and a community hub. There as well thought out plans and it is a strong bid with genuine local backing.” … “The Gazette understands the bid has been made by an established community group. It has not come from the Friends of Thornton and Cleveleys Libraries, which had campaigned against the closures.”
  • Lancashire – Watch how this boy’s response to Fulwood library closure says it better than most – Blog Preston. “He explains his anger and frustration at the closure of the library as part of Lancashire County Council’s plan to save millions of pounds by closing community buildings.” … “In the video his seven-year-old boy explains he’s even written to the Queen about the closure, and his fears for the future of the staff there.”
  • Stockton – D-day looms for two popular libraries that face the axe as council tries to save £130k – Gazette. “Stockton Council will decide the fate of both Fairfield and Egglescliffe libraries on next week ” … “During a lengthy consultation process, a 3,217 name petition protesting at the possible closure of Fairfield was received, as well as a 659 name petition protesting the possible closure of Egglescliffe. But a new proposal to retain Fairfield Library by sharing the building with a nursery provider will now be considered by the Cabinet.”
  • Swindon – Arts Council England chief exec visits Swindon – Swindon Advertiser. “Leon Flower, lead librarian, said he was delighted to welcome Darren to town. “It’s a difficult time for the libraries so something like this is what we look forward to,” he said. “We’re really pleased to have Darren here. Arts and culture have a really important place in the town and this enables people to focus on the rich variety we have here.””
  • Swindon – Council urged to think again on library closures by 25 headteachers – Swindon Advertiser. “25 primary school headteachers who, in a letter to the council, called for a reconsideration of the ‘drastic’ plans.” … “the headteachers say they believe that such a significant reduction in branch and mobile library provision will be “very detrimental to Swindon children.” ” … “Sarah Church, chairman of Save Swindon’s Libraries, said: “We very much hope that the borough council will listen to Swindon’s most experienced teaching professionals now they have written to highlight the importance of the library service and its staff to the school children of Swindon. “
  • Warrington – MP Helen Jones calls on LiveWire to be more ‘transparent’ with library meetings – Warrington Guardian. Labour MP. “MP Helen Jones has asked LiveWire what it is hiding after reports that there are no briefing notes for one of the library consultation meetings. The Labour politician called on LiveWire to be more transparent about their public consultation regarding the future of the town’s libraries. A spokesman for Ms Jones said briefing notes were circulated after each meeting to summarise the key points raised by residents. But there is no note for the meeting at Culcheth Library, which is described as a ‘highly charged, emotional and eventful’ session by LiveWire’s managing director Emma Hutchinson, who would apparently prefer to give verbal feedback about the meeting to board members.” … “Additionally, the accuracy of the other briefing notes is also questionable, with a number who were present asking ‘were they at the same meeting as I was?’ “
  • Worcestershire – Council property sell off to continue in £19m bonanza for taxpayers – Bromsgrove Advertiser. “Since 2011 more than 100 pieces of council property have been sold ranging from large-scale office blocks to old community halls, day centres, libraries, commercial units, workshops, school sites and more. “