Code Clubs have come into their own in many libraries this year and it’s good to have a piece from the SCL below on them. Also good to see investment in Kingston, although there is the normal news about more volunteer libraries. And of course the shame that is how LiveWire is treating libraries in Warrington continues.

I’m still doing the survey on what public libraries charge for things like craft sessions and for drinks for events. It’s to get some idea of what’s happening nationally as well as seeing if these are extra bits of income that can be made without affecting usage (or not).  The survey is tiny (only four questions) and will take you less than a minute if you don’t put any comments in.  So, do me (and possibly yourself as I will be publicising the results) a favour by completing the survey here. The survey is entirely anonymous.  Thank you.



Cracking the Code in Manchester Central Library

Bananas linked by wires to computers

Banana power. No, I have no idea either. We should have been in Manchester …

80 library staff members got hands-on with digital making today in Manchester Central Library, at the second SCL Cracking the Code symposium funded by Arts Council England. The day began with a rousing plenary from Adrian McEwen, author of Designing the Internet of Things. McEwen called on libraries to embrace digital and be bold and brave when setting up coding clubs and digital labs. Participants broke off into a day of workshops run by partners including Code Club, Arts Council England, Curious Minds, BBC Make it Digital, CoderDojo, Raspberry Pi and more (full programme here).

A total of 12 workshops were hands on and participatory. BBC Micro:bit Playground Games, led by CoderDojo, had people dancing with turtles to illustrate coding. In Digital Crafters, participants were asked to make digital crafts that focused on ‘wearable tech’. a librarian from Barking and Dagenham DigiLab explained how they built the lab from empty, unused space and turned it into a digital hub—and source of revenue for the library.  SCL Universal Learning Offer Lead Julie Griffiths (Halton Libraries) summed up the importance of the day and the benefits of coming together to learn and explore digital. “There is no single recipe for digital making. It is as individual as each of our libraries. Digital making is growing every day and making a real impact.” Since March 2016 and the first Cracking the Code in Clapham, coding clubs in libraries have opened at a rate of one per day, a 330% increase.” Elizabeth Elford, Society of Chief Librarians via email.

National news

  • A new information dark age – Phil Bradley’s Weblog. ” I think an information dark age is an apt description for where we are at the moment. People want to believe things to reinforce their world view, and if they feel powerless they want to do whatever they can, and that includes taking content and rebadging it and sharing it on social media. It’s surely our role – and I believe an increasingly important one – to challenge misinformation, to teach people how to check the material that they find, to remain ever vigilant and not to fall into the same trap ourselves. “
  • Cilip VP Election – Ayub Khan – Leon’s Library Blog. “This post is written by Ayub Khan, one of the two candidates for Cilip Vice-President. I asked each candidate the same five questions with the opportunity for an opening and closing statement. The questions reflect my own interests as a public librarian but are hopefully also relevant for the wider profession as well as campaigners. 

Despite the challenges of recent austerity years I remain enthusiastic, committed and optimistic about the future for libraries. I believe CILIP has a pivotal role to play in providing a positive narrative for libraries – and pressing for positive action – as the leading voice of a vibrant and forward-thinking profession.” Ayub Khan

  • Bookshops’ annoyance at original Fantastic Beasts withdrawal – BookSeller.  So, if you can’t get any copies for your library, you now know why.
  • Locality calls for £1bn to back protection of public assets – Third Sector. “The community group membership charity Locality has called for £1bn to be made available over the next five years to help community groups in England take over and protect public assets. In its report Places & Spaces: The Future of Community Asset Ownership, unveiled on Tuesday at its annual conference in York, Locality says the funding should come from a mix of providers, including £125m from the government. The report warns that cash-strapped councils are under pressure to sell or mothball buildings and land, such as libraries, community centres and sports centres, in order to cut costs, meaning they could be lost to local communities or become derelict.”
  • Lost for Words: What future for our libraries? – Skinny. “Libraries across the country are struggling to survive in a climate of budget cuts. Our writer reports from Warrington, where her childhood library faces an uncertain future” … “What happens if our hard-won libraries are dismantled? What are the vacant buildings to be used for next? Anything? Or will their shells be left behind to commemorate a time when communities held the right to freely and easily access the information of their age – or at the very least, use a decent printer?”

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International news

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Birmingham’s Young Poet Laureate – Libraries Taskforce. Includes pro library poems.
  • Birmingham – Sutton Coldfield Town Council united in fight for library services – Sutton Coldfield Local News. “Cllr Keith Ward (Con. Sutton Trinity) added that the Town Council should take a lead role in supporting the libraries as they did with the Town Hall and Cllr Pears followed this up with emphasising that the members should demand full consultation with Birmingham City Council. Cllr Pocock thanked everyone for their support and for helping to improve the wording of the motion. He agreed that assertive negotiations with Birmingham City Council were required. The motion, with a slight amendment to properly express the Town Council’s desire to take an assertive lead role, was passed unanimously.”
  • Essex – #Chelmsford Library to celebrate work of author Alan Bennett – Essex TV. “Chelmsford Library has been selected as one of twenty libraries across the country to take part in a special ‘virtual author’ event this November. Celebrating everything Alan Bennett, the event, organised through The Reading Agency, will see the life and works of the author celebrated. The evening will see video appearances by Alan, and an actor reading extracts from his latest published diary, Keeping on keeping on. Audience members will also be called on to read diary entries covering everything from politics to the problems of getting old, and of course enjoy a cup of Tea and a biscuit…”.
  • Essex – SOUP Evening, Chelmsford Library | Wednesday 16 November – Chelmsford CVS. “SOUP is a relatively new concept to these shores after beginning in the United States of America. So far SOUP events across Essex have raised more than £14,500 towards local grassroots projects seeking to make a real difference in their community. These are just ordinary people and local community groups looking to improve where they live, work and study. SOUP was a popular part of last year’s Art of the Possible festival and we’re looking to feature even more this year”.  See this for a simple diagram of how SOUP works.
  • Greenwich – Over a thousand march to fight museums and libraries cuts – Socialist Party. “Greenwich Unite members in libraries have taken eight days of strike action so far this year to defend the library service. Our policy in Greenwich has always been to fight every cut – no matter how small. This year we took action to defend our mobile library. This service provides books to schools and nurseries and last year issued 30,000 books – and yet it was seen by Greenwich council to be old fashioned and an easy target”
  • Inverclyde – Greenock museum to shut for £2m revamp – Greenock Telegraph. “Greenock’s McLean Museum and Watt Library complex is set to undergo a £2m refurbishment — which will see the establishment closed for up to two years. The doors will shut next month to allow for emergency repairs to the building’s parapets and towers, plus window replacement, roof repairs and treatment for wet rot. High-value and fragile exhibits and artefacts are to be moved into safe storage while the work is carried out. Where possible as many archives, books and objects will be left on site in areas unaffected by the building work.”
  • Kingston – Kingston Council to spend £500,000 on upgrading borough’s libraries as visitor numbers increase – Surrey Comet. “Kingston Council will spend £500,000 upgrading all seven of the borough’s libraries to create a “modern and dynamic” service. Work has already begun on Kingston Library, with council officials pointing to increasing visitor numbers compared to figures across the country as reasoning for the upgrade. Self-service machines will replace the front desk at all seven libraries, which the council said will free up staff to promote “reading, listening and discovery” services. Cllr Andrea Craig, cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, said: “There are really exciting changes ahead that we will see our libraries transformed into welcoming, dynamic, spaces, capable of supporting a wide range of activities and users.”

“I wish to present a petition that has been signed by 1,740 local residents, predominantly in Belgrave in Leicester. The petition was collected by volunteers in the local area … The council proposes closing the Belgrave library and neighbourhood centre’s lunch club. The proposals have been brought forward by the assistant mayor, Councillor Kirk Master, who is consulting people and will consider what to do next, but residents are very concerned that these important projects might be closed, and that is why they are urging the city council to think again and to keep the library open—and the lunch club, too, which serves many elderly constituents, who have been going there for the last 40 years.

The petition states: The petition of residents of Leicester East, Declares that Leicester City Council’s plans to move the Belgrave Library will have a detrimental effect on the whole community, local school children and other members of the public; further that it will have to downsize the services currently provided such as access to computers, national newspapers, reading classes and book review sessions; further that moving it to Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre is not conducive to the atmosphere of what a library is and should be; further that the Belgrave Library is one of the few libraries remaining in Leicester; further that the residents are also concerned about Leicester City Council’s plans to remove the cooking facilities at the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, which currently serves the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre Lunch Club which provides freshly cooked and culturally appropriate vegetarian hot meals to the elderly, disabled, diabetics and vulnerable people in the community; further that if the cooking facilities were to be removed, these communities would be deprived not only of a hot meal but also of their ability to be sociable and receive support on things that they do not understand; and further that they will become isolated and a burden on Leicester City Council who would need to provide more specialist individual care.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Leicester City Council to reconsider their decision to move the Belgrave Library to Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre and further encourage the Council not to remove the cooking facilities in Belgrave Neighbourhood as it provides a vital service to the elderly in the community. And the petitioners remain, etc.” Keith Vaz MP in House of Commons. Leicester – Petition – Closure of Belgrave Library and Lunch Club at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Leicester – They Work For You.

  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers book in to save library – Darlington and Stockton Times. “community has rallied round to save their library with over 100 volunteers coming forward to carry on the service. Campaigners who set up a management group to take over the running of Bedale library say they’re overwhelmed at the response. Bedale is one of 21 libraries across North Yorkshire, where staff are being withdrawn from April 2017, and which are being handed over to volunteers as part of massive county council budget cuts.  Liz Bostock, of the Bedale management group said over 117 people have volunteered which means a possibility of extending opening hours.”
  • Sheffield – Shocking decline of libraries in the UK – Star / Letters. Summarises decline nationwide since 2010. “As with so many vital services, with 50 per cent budget cuts from local government and more cuts in the pipeline, it is a sad truth that libraries and other local services will continue to be cut. Sheffield needs a fairer deal from central government to be able to properly fund it’s libraries and other vital services.”
  • Staffordshire – Mary’s Primary School to take on running over Knutton Library – Stoke Sentinel. “St Mary’s Primary School has stepped in to run the adjacent Church Lane facility – and safeguard its future. But staff at the school say they need at least eight volunteers to help them run the asset, which they are also hopeful of turning into a community hub.”
  • Staffordshire – Virtual author event with Alan Bennett to be held at Stafford library – Staffordshire Newsletter. “Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s libraries chief said: “We’re always looking to put on something different at our libraries and this is sure to be a popular event. Alan Bennett has been one of the country’s leading artists as an actor, dramatist, playwright and author, and it’s great that the new Stafford library has been chosen to host the event.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Dinas Powys Library becomes third community run facility in the Vale – Penarth Times. “The management of Dinas Powys Library has been formally transferred to Dinas Powys Library and Activity Centre (DPLAC), making it the third community library established in the Vale of Glamorgan after Wenvoe and Sully. The transfer comes after it was announced earlier this year that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was in discussion with community groups in five locations about taking over responsibility for running their local library including St Athan and Rhoose.”
  • Waltham Forest – Campaigners slam ‘inaccurate’ council claims no buses serve threatened Higham Hill Library in Walthamstow – Guardian series. “Campaigners say they have “no confidence” in plans to shut a Walthamstow library amid claims a council report on its closure is inaccurate. Waltham Forest Council wants to sell Higham Hill Library and move services to a new premises in Priory Court, which it says will provide better accessibility and improved facilities for communities. Its report on new plans for libraries in the borough said the current building, in North Countess Road, was not “directly served” by a bus route.”
  • Warrington – Culture crime – Warrington Guardian / Letters. “Yes books are bulky and take up space. However the internet does not hold all information and an original volume and an artifact is worth a thousand pictures. Teachers could encourage students to include original material from the library in essays. Rename Bold Street as Library Row and promote the library and let the world know about the resources, not just for writers and researchers but for tourists too. I am sure there are many ideas that can be forwarded to develop and expand one of Warrington’s most valuable assets.”

“”Lending lockers” are the latest wheeze to replace the fast disappearing public library, as Warrington plans to close nine libraries and replace them with glorified cupboards scattered across town. Warrington’s libraries were hived off to a “community interest company” called LiveWire in 2012.  LiveWire is paid an annual fee by Warrington council to run libraries and leisure centres, but this fee has been cut as budgets have tightened.

Library users will, it is said, be able to order books and other materials online for delivery to a locker.  Once the book arrives, it can be collected, using a library card to open the locker.  The catalogue, says LiveWire, will be “available for browsing on multiple devices such as mobile phones, PCs and tablet”, apparently oblivious to the large number of people who have no such device.  Those who might need the help of a librarian to find the right book or use the ordering system will be out of luck as the cuts include 11 full time equivalent “adviser” roles.

A video posted on You Tube by LiveWire in an attempt to win over locals shows the Canadian community of Niagara-on-the-Lake using a lending locker housed at a local fire station.  However, in interviews the locals are heard to say that they hope their use of the locker in an area with no library will demonstrate enough demand that they will eventually get, er, a proper library.” Warrington – Library News – Private Eye 1431, page 33.

  • Warrington – Application to move Warrington Library to Funky Dory Shoes in Golden Square Shopping Centre withdrawn hours before decision on plans due – Warrington Guardian. “A planning application to move the country’s first publicly-funded library into a shoe shop in Golden Square has been withdrawn hours before councillors were set to make a decision on the proposals. Livewire had applied for a change of use of the unit that presently houses Funky Dory Shoes in the shopping centre, with Warrington Library having looked set to move into the shop if the plans had been passed. Councillors were set to decide whether to grant planning permission for the scheme at this evening’s development management committee, but the application was withdrawn this afternoon.”
  • Windsor and Maidenhead – Advice amongst the books: Citizens Advice Maidenhead & Windsor – Community Fund Aviva. ” A lack of local services and infrequent public transport only makes life harder. Over 7000 people live in rural areas across our Borough and reaching out to them is challenging. One service which visits rural areas on a regular basis is the mobile library, and Citizens Advice Maidenhead & Windsor would like to employ a Citizens Advice Adviser, part time, to travel with the mobile library service to provide advice and support amongst the books. We have agreement from the mobile library service for this partnership project. Our Adviser will also provide home visits for isolated people who cannot access our service any other way because of health issues, carer responsibilities or other challenges. “

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