2016 may be the year when Fun Palaces ceased being an unusual sight in UK public libraries and entered the mainstream.  I’ve had my eye on them for a short while now (here’s an article on them from January) since their success in Lambeth last year. Well, it looks like more and more libraries have got on board this year, with the Taskforce having to devote two, not just one, blog to it in order to fit them all in. They all look joyous and so creative.  Some questions remain for me about them, such as the danger of them being just glorified craft sessions and being sometimes  almost entirely staffed by library staff and not expert enthusiasts from the community.  However, from what I see many are genuinely empowering and bring joy to the library and to the people, regular users and first-time ones, that enter over their threshold.


National news

  • Bringing books to life – Libraries Taskforce / Zoe English. “here at Brent Libraries, while we love books, sometimes we like to take the power off the page by delivering events featuring performance, discussion and activity” … “We regularly hold theatrical performances related to books. For many people in our area, particularly children, surveys show that this is their only exposure to any kind of live theatre” … “Shows like this are a great way of encouraging lifelong learning and helping adults find new topics to fire their interest or inspiring them to revisit subjects dropped as they ended their school days and embarked upon more their workaday adult lives”
  • British arts establishment is full of ‘relentlessly left-wing groupthink’, former culture minister says – Telegraph. Ed Vaizey. “He argued it was now essential for the arts lobby to challenge the overriding view that “all must stay the same”, and stop insisting that no library or museum should ever be shut down no matter how poor or under-used its service.” [No one ever argued that – Ed.] … “he insisted it was time for museums, galleries and libraries to work more closely with innovative digital companies instead of relying on old models.”
  • Cilip Vice-President Election – Leon’s Library Blog. “There is a time and place for a softly-softly approach but this is not one of them. We need clear strategic leadership and a strong voice in support of libraries, not quiet acquiesce to government policy. It will be interesting to see which candidate will provide this.”
  • Fun Places 206 Chapter 2 – Libraries Taskforce. “I received so many reports of what was done in libraries during the Fun Palaces weekend that I didn’t want to truncate people’s stories, so they have spilled over into a second post.”: Leeds, Peterborough, Essex, Manchester, Staffordshire, Essex, Exeter and Tameside.
  • Informed Peer Recognition Awards – Informed. “The Informed Peer Recognition Award (IPRA) recognises the contributions of a library and information professional working in the UK who has gone beyond the requirements of their job to make a positive difference. Nominations can fall under one of the following three categories; For those who have demonstrated a commitment to, or substantial involvement in activities which will contribute to the development of services and/or resources that will provide a benefit to the public; For those who have worked to deliver improvements to a service (be it private, public, or voluntary) for the benefit of users and provide them with a better experience when interacting with the service; For those who have worked across the profession to improve an aspect of it for the benefit of others. Nominations should consist of a 500 word summary, and be supported by two nominators.”
  • National demonstration against closure of libraries and museums set for 5 November – AN. “Unions including Unison, Unite, the PCS and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain organise national march in London starting from the British Library and ending with a rally outside the National Gallery.” .. “The event was instigated by Barnet Unison with help from Alan Wylie of the campaign group Voices for the Library and activists from the PCS and Unite unions. It is being supported by the unions Unison, Unite, PCS and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain plus individuals including the artist Bob and Roberta Smith, and authors Cathy Cassidy and Michael Rosen.” … “Lauren Smith of the Voices for the Library campaign said: “The demonstration reinforces the message that public libraries, museums and art galleries are a right, not a luxury. “The cultural and social importance of access to works of literature and art, and the ability to make connections with our communities and history, is of vital importance for the health of our nation and cannot be underestimated.””
  • Time to take action to save libraries, galleries and museums – Socialist Worker. “Over a quarter of a million people in the West Midlands could be left with no art gallery, youth services or museums and just one library out of 16 in four years time. “No service is safe,” said Walsall council leader, Labour’s Sean Coughlan, as he unveiled the “biggest ever” budget cuts—£86 million by 2020. Hundreds of workers’ jobs could also be on the line. Instead of implementing the cuts Labour should be fighting them. It is just one of the latest examples of the devastating impact of austerity on culture services. So the national march for libraries, galleries and museums in London on Saturday is long overdue.”
  • Tips for using for evidence-based practice in public libraries – CILIP. “Whatever you do, do something. Your sector needs you, so “build our evidence-base, inform our collective practice, and…tell our stories” (Ryan, 2015). Why not use the comments below to share the ways in which you use evidence in your daily practice or to highlight relevant open access resources which can be used by the international public library community?”

International news

  • Australia – SirsiDynix to Support First-of-Its-Kind Consortium in South West Australia – SirsiDynix. ” The South West Consortium is a new partnership of 11 Western Australia local governments, creating a “one card” library system for its participating libraries. The consortium is the first of its kind in Western Australia; prior to this merger all local governments operated independently and each would individually negotiate the supply of a library management system”
  • Eire – Authors only receive 4c per borrowed book as library payments slashed by a third – Irish Examiner. “Over €200,000 was paid to writers under the Public Lending Remuneration (PLR) scheme in 2015. The figure is almost €100,000 less than the total paid to authors in 2014, despite the fact there was virtually no change in the number of eligible books loaned at over 5.1m.” … ” In Britain, the maximum payment per author is capped at £6,600 — approximately €7,380. Authors are eligible for payment if their earnings reach a minimum of €2, while there is a maximum payment of €1,000 for the most-borrowed writers”
  • Eire –  SWOT analysis for libraries – a compilation piece  – LibFocus. “I asked a number of librarians, and those from related fields, what they saw as the main SWOT(s) facing libraries and librarians. Here are their replies below. I asked for one each, but librarians being the helping profession we are some provided more than one. I decided to use all that people supplied. Consequently it is a rather long piece.”
  • Global – Library World Records – “Library World Records is a fascinating reference book first published in 2004 after research work began on the book in 2002. The book was further extensively updated in a second edition in December 2009. Library World Records provides hundreds of intriguing and comprehensive facts about ancient and modern books, manuscripts and libraries around the world. A much bigger brand new 3rd edition of the Library World Records is now available for pre-order (details given below). The new edition will be published in January 2017.
  • Netherlands – E-book lending in the Netherlands in European perspective – WareKennis. “Since the turn of the millennium, the number of public library organizations in the Netherlands has declined considerably, from 544 in 1999 to 156 in 2015 (Statistics Netherlands, 2016). A policy program called Library Renewal (‘Bibliotheekvernieuwing’, 2000-2008) succeeded in arriving at a limited number of larger organizations through mergers of local libraries… the Dutch public library system, as elsewhere, is financed largely by the local, regional and national governments. In 2015, subsidies constituted over 82 per cent of the total budget of public libraries (519.4 million euros), whereas 12 per cent derived from membership fees “.  Decline in membership overall, but increase in numbers of young people using libraries.
  • USA – Specters in the stacks: Haunted libraries in the US – OUP. “One story from the old branch concerns a painting of two women in rocking chairs on the library’s wall. On 29 January 1988, there was a fire in that building that closed the library until the middle of April of the same year. Everything but the painting and the area immediately around it burned. As one of Ashley’s coworkers puts it, the old branch was “filled with demons.” Many staff members remember hearing voices when they were alone; the old director heard a typewriter tapping when she was alone.”

Local news by authority

  • Blackpool – Resort libraries aid week of enterprise – Blackpool Gazette. “Get Started in conjunction with Blackpool Libraries are providing an opportunity for start-ups to explore their business idea online using the library facilities, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which runs from Monday, November 14 to Sunday, November 20.Held in libraries across the town, potential business owners can research their ideas and explore their potential during drop-in sessions”
  • Cambridgeshire – Village shows its support for new community library – Hunts Post. “As a part of the Vision for Brampton scheme, a new library committee has been formed to open up a hub in the village. Committee chairman, Jackie Woodward said: “We are in very early days at the moment, we have just started our appeal in the village for donations of books that we hope will then go into the library.” Since starting the appeal three weeks ago the committee has already been given more than 200 books ranging from children’s stories to classic novels.” … “Once the appeal ends the library committee will sort out all the books that have been collected before the potential opening of the library in 2017. “
  • Cumbria – Opening hours cut at north Cumbrian libraries – News and Star. “Opening hours at two of north Cumbria’s libraries will be cut due to a lack of demand at certain times. Carlisle’s library, in The Lanes shopping centre, will be open one hour less on both Tuesdays and Saturdays. The reduction in opening hours will also affect Longtown’s library, which is set to lose a total of four hours over the course of a week. The decision to change opening hours was made by Cumbria County Council’s Carlisle local committee. It was rubber-stamped at a meeting in the city.”
  • Devon – Seaton Library friends group appeals for more help – Midweek Herald. “Dubbed FoSeL for short, the organisation is a band of volunteers which supports the library by fundraising for extras and helping out at events like the recent Summer Reading Challenge. Thanks to the efforts of FoSeL members and the generosity of the local community, Seaton library now runs a Lego 
club for children of primary school age between 11.30am and 12.30pm, every Saturday morning at the library. The club is very popular and there is no need to book – ‘just pop in and let your imagination take flight,’ say the organisers.”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – Both Bridlington Libraries To Stay Open – Yorkshire Coast Radio. “Following responses received after two rounds of public consultation on the future of the services, which included a specific proposal in the second stage of consultation, the Cabinet agreed three recommendations: Retaining a library or multi service centre in every town and larger village in the East Riding but with reduced opening hours; Retaining a mobile library service across the East Riding but with a reduced level of service; Retaining both libraries in Bridlington, but reducing the opening hours. These changes will save the council around £1.2 million, from the combined library and customer service budgets, which will be achieved without closing a single library or multi-service centre or ceasing to provide the mobile library service.”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – Library cuts will hit ‘most marginalised’ hardest – Yorkshire Post. “East Riding Council’s Cabinet have agreed to £1.2m cuts which will see libraries reduce their opening hours by 25 per cent and the mobile library service withdrawn from over 50 rural villages altogether.” … “The cuts, which will come in next year, will see the library at the Multi Service Centre in Brough reduce its hours from 49 to 26, while Driffield and Hessle will each lose nine hours. “
  • Lancashire – Council budgets feel the squeeze – but their top executives still take home healthy pay packets, including one who earns more than Theresa May – Lancashire Evening Post. “Yet in Lancashire, where libraries, children’s centres and rural buses have all been drastically affected, it would seem the top officers scratching around looking for savings are themselves immune from the economies. In 2012/13 there were 90 town hall staff across the county earning more than £50,000 each. Three years on, despite austerity, that figure is still 90.”
  • Lancashire – Final chapter for East Lancashire libraries just days away – Lancashire Telegraph. “The first closures will take place in the Ribble Valley, with Spring Wood children’s centre in Abbey Road shutting on Friday at noon followed by the adjacent Whalley library at noon on Saturday. Residents are now being urged to use Great Harwood and Clitheroe libraries and children’s centres as they are now the nearest facilities. Ribble Valley Councillor, Ged Mirfin, was one of the leaders of the Save Whalley Library Campaign. He said: “It’s incredibly short sighted, questions have to be asked as to why this is being done now.”
  • Liverpool – The Magnetic North, Frank Cottrell-Boyce: Liverpool Central Library – Get Into This. “We queued up to have our hands marked with a library stamp as we entered the superbly refurbished Central Library. Would we get fined for not bringing our arms back in time? We wandered down to where the recital was due to take place, a small stage set up in a round room with children’s picture books at hand in racks and ranks of library computers curving around a balcony. ‘Where’s the bar?’ and ‘Can we get a drink?’ seemed to be a common refrain but this wasn’t a normal gig and it didn’t matter. The strongest thing on offer – in fact the only thing on offer – was coffee. After that initial shock; like being transported back to a Sunday in Wales in the 1960’s when strict Methodism held sway, everybody seemed quite relaxed about having a double espresso. After all, we were there for something special. And different.”
  • Manchester – Another Oasis exhibition opens in Manchester – Manchester Evening News. “Acclaimed music photographer Jill Furmanovsky, who spent years on the road with the band and whose work featured in the band’s official exhibition in October , will be showcasing more of her pictures at the city’s Central Library”
  • Manchester – Manchester screening: Question Time for Entrepreneurs – Eventbrite. At Manchester Central Library. “As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2016 we’re linking up with the British Library for a panel discussion with some top business names. Take this unique opportunity to quiz big-hitting entrepreneurs and leading business experts on how they went from small start-ups to big-time successes, including”
  • Newcastle – ‘Selling the family silver’ – Newcastle City Council slammed for library move – Chronicle Live. “Newcastle City Council has been accused of “selling the family silver” after it emerged they could flog much of the city’s cultural stack. The cash-strapped authority plans to sift through the extensive collection on the fifth floor of Newcastle City Library. A team of experts will then decide what to keep and what to let go. The collection contains rare manuscripts and books that have been amassed over nearly 150 years. It includes items such as complete set of the works of Sigmund Freud, different editions of Shakespeare’s works and long runs of important periodicals, such as the Times Literary Supplement.”
  • North Yorkshire – Council pledges to support scheme to save libraries – Darlington and Stockton Times. “A council has pledged to back a project which aims to recruit more than 100 volunteers to safeguard the futures of three local libraries. Philip Wicks approached Richmond Town Council for help with his scheme to save Richmond, Catterick Garrison and Colburn libraries, which are currently being run with just a handful of volunteers. He has proposed the group take on a short-term employee who would oversee the volunteers, help arrange their training, and organise rotas until the full team was up and running” … “Mr Wicks is looking for £10,000 for the project, and was delighted the council agreed to pay between £5,000 and £7,500, depending on how other town and parish councils agree to contribute”
  • Plymouth – Reprieve for Plymouth’s libraries and toilets in council cuts re-think – Plymouth Herald. “Presenting their renewed financial strategy for the next three years, Tory bosses said they must act fast to “avoid a financial crisis”. But thousands of pounds of potential cuts, including the possible closure of under-used libraries and public toilets, have been shelved. Instead, leader Ian Bowyer wants to focus on modernising services.”
  • Sunderland – Tory councillor questions library closure after £500,000 spent on revamp – Sunderland Echo. “The library, in Fawcett Street, was refurbished in 2014, at a cost of £500,000… It is now set to relocate to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, where it will reopen in January.”