Look, let’s not beat around the bush.  It’s been a difficult year. Odds are that you’ve done a ton of work and you’ve been either directly affected by cuts to your library or library service and/or have heard of such things in neighbouring authorities. In the UK, we have what looks like more austerity, added now to the uncertainties of Brexit, while in the USA we have what appears to be a narcissistic bully who has difficulties with facts about to take control. You and I deserve a break.

So have a great Christmas. Forget all this library stuff for a few days. See you in the New Year.


National news

  • 2016 report card – and looking forward to 2017 – Libraries Taskforce. “most importantly, we did publish our Libraries Deliver: Ambition document – there’s more on that below. We also saw completion of the DCMS-funded, Arts Council managed, wifi programme, resulting in over 99% of libraries across England now offering wifi access. We completed a round of meetings with officials and ministers in central government departments, resulting in a number of projects including with the Ministry of Justice on a pilot to provide dedicated work spaces in libraries (commuter hubs) for use by civil servants. And we published a toolkit containing good practice around community managed libraries with thanks to input from library partners and a wide variety of community and volunteer-run libraries. Having delivered on the immediate objectives we had set out during our initial 6 months of existence, our focus then turned to creation of an overarching strategy…”

“The “£4m innovation fund” announced by the government’s Libraries Taskforce this month offers laughably little, laughably late to cut-to-the-bone public library services. Firstly, it doesn’t even offer £4m.  The small print in the “Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund” application from the Arts Council says there is in fact £3.9m available.  £1.3m of that can only be spent on capital purchases (ie not books, which are explicitly excluded), while the other £2.6m can be spent on suitable projects.  None of the money can be spent on any general running costs such as salaries, buildings or insurance.  Although the scheme has only just been announced, the deadline to apply is 6 January.

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy published its annual spending stats, finding that overall council spending on library services throughout the UK fell by £25m in 2015-16.  The number of paid library staff fell by more than 5 percent nationwide (and volunteer numbers went up).  The taskforce’s next plans include developing a “benchmarking framework” to identify whether libraries are doing well — surely a case of measuring the stable door after the horse has bolted.  But the taskforce does have a terrific plan to counter negative media stories about library closures and service cuts.  Better legal protection and enforcement of the duty to provide libraries, maybe?  Nope.  It will “develop positive messages about libraries” through “placed editorial” and other media — a PR campaign to reassure the public all is well” Libraries News (p.37) Issue no.1434 – Private Eye.

  • Call for papers – CILIP. “It has never been more important to secure a positive future for the library, information and knowledge sector and the communities we serve. We will do this together by understanding the big future trends and planning how we can identify opportunities, successfully adapt and influence the outcome; and develop our skills and ability to innovate and create services that meet current and future needs. We want delegates to leave the CILIP conference with insight, inspiration and practical skills to positively secure the future.”

Healthy Libraries

I noticed a very helpful handbook being publicised in the Knowledge Hub and thought it would be useful to mention here as well. Here’s some more information about the project:

“Healthy Libraries is a joint project involving Norfolk Library and Information Service and Norfolk Public health. Our project is developing libraries as health and well-being hubs using the strengths of both services to promote healthier living in Norfolk. Libraries already do a lot to make a difference to local Health Outcomes including helping to deliver the Universal Health Offer. Healthy Libraries builds on existing library assets. Healthy Libraries involves each library in Norfolk engaging in health promotion activity. We want to ensure that health information and activities are promoted and expanded.  The main outcomes of the Healthy Libraries project are:

    • Develop the library role in promoting health and wellbeing to local residents.
    • Strengthen the partnership between Public Health and the Library Service. 
    • Use daily contact with customers to help improve their health, supported by additional staff training.
    • Use library space to support and promote six key Public Health campaigns and other key health messages through information, activities and events.
    • Work in libraries alongside health services such as Health Trainers.

In order to become a Healthy library, each Library has a workbook to complete which explains everything that teams can do to become a Healthy Library. At the end of the first year all 47 libraries, prison libraries and mobile libraries submitted their completed workbook. Each demonstrating the huge effort, involvement of whole library teams, the range of new partnerships, established and providing evidence of the impact of ‘Healthy Libraries’ on their library environment, their customers and themselves.” Jane Holden, Head of Libraries and Information, Norfolk.”

  • Healthy Libraries workbook – Norfolk Libraries. Award-winning workbook intended for public libraries showing how public libraries can impact health, including ideas for staff and the public, a suggested calendar of events, what to do, how and when.

  •  ‘Healthy Libraries’ from Norfolk County Council: Library & Information Service – YouTube. “‘Healthy Libraries’ – an initiative to develop all of Norfolk’s libraries into health and wellbeing ‘hubs’, promoting healthier living to the Norfolk population. Building on the existing universal health offer across England’s public libraries, Norfolk’s 47 libraries are now actively promoting public health.”

International news

  • Denmark – A Library From the Future Arrives In Denmark – Atlantic CityLab. “It’s hard not feel as if you’ve just visited the library of the future after spending a day at Dokk1. In a formerly industrial part of Aarhus, egg chairs are now sprinkled around the periphery of the massive new “hybrid library.” There, a three-ton tubular bell called The Gong echoes through every time a child is born at the local hospital. Outside, a ferry to Copenhagen comes and goes from the harbor while kids and adults play across a field with teeter-totters, a tire swing, and a huge slide in the shape of an eagle.
  • USA – Your Top 5 Library Technology Topics – Techsoup. “Ever wonder what your fellow librarians are interested in learning? Here are the top 5 TechSoup webinars your fellow libraries tuned into in 2016”: Digital skills for older people, technological skills for library staff, coding club, Instagram and social media.

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Council unveils four charities which will run libraries following service cuts – Barnet and Whetstone Press. “Learning disability charities Kisharon and Mencap will join forces to run Childs Hill Library, while local residents’ charity NW7 Hub will operate Mill Hill Library. Inclusion Barnet, a charity which supports disabled people to live independently, will operate both East Barnet and South Friern libraries. Under a ten-year agreement, the council will lease the library premises to the partners as well as providing equipment and book stock and a small grant for running costs.” … “Last week campaigners called for an inquiry into cuts to the Barnet library service which they described as “the most extreme destruction of a local library service in British history”. The Save Barnet Libraries Campaign sent an official notice to Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, asking her to act immediately to protect libraries in Barnet. Concerns include that salaried staff are being replaced by volunteers and that more than half the current library space is being converted into private offices for rent. Self-service machinery and CCTV are being installed so libraries can remain open without trained staff, during which times children under 15 will be banned from entering unless accompanied by an adult.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Could this be the end of our traditional libraries? – Midsomer Norton Radstock and District Journal. “Data collected by Bath Central Library over an average week shows how people use the library. 52% wanted to book a computer or print something out, 19% wanted information, 9% wanted to renew or borrow books, 6% wanted a specific item, 5% wanted help with their account, 4% wanted help with computers or photocopiers, 2% wanted access to newspapers, 2% wanted to hand items in and 1% wanted to join the library.” … ““We will seek to work with volunteers where appropriate, but in Midsomer Norton, we would like to build on the success of our Keynsham model of joint One Stop Shop and library, making the best use of digital services and meeting the changing needs of our community.””
  • Cumbria – Cockermouth library campaigners refused consultation extension by Cumbria County Council – News and Star. “A public consultation was launched earlier this month and was due to close on Friday. It has since been extended until January 4. Richard Watson, one of the leaders of the Friends of Cockermouth Library, presented the petition – signed by about 450 people with more than 200 more signatures online – at the county council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday and asked for a further extension.”
  • Cumbria – Leftwich brings latest effort to library – North West Evening Mail. ” British singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich will be the first visitor to Cumbria as part of the Get It Loud In Libraries programme in 2017. The York-based artist performs at Kendal Library on Saturday March 11″
  • Durham – New Newton Aycliffe Library open to public – North East Connected. “The move from the library’s former base is part of a wider £1million scheme being carried out by Durham County Council to help regenerate the town centre. It has involved refurbishing a number of shop units adjoining the leisure centre and creating a shared entrance for the library and leisure centre. Cllr Maria Plews, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for leisure, libraries and lifelong learning, said: “The new location is a light, bright space with modern décor and up- to-date facilities.”
  • Harrow – Roxeth Library and Residential Scheme – TED Tenders Electronic Daily. “The Council wishes to proceed with the regeneration of the Roxeth Library site on Northolt Road as a residential scheme combined with re-provision and improvement of the existing library”
  • Lancashire – Lancaster and Morecambe library staff told to re-apply for their jobs – Visitor. “An anonymous caller to the Guardian said that last week all staff at the library, along with employees in Lancaster library, were given letters telling them they would need to re-apply for their current positions.” … “Some have worked at Morecambe library for up to 40 years. A Lancashire County Council spokesman said the letters formed part of a review of the county’s whole library service.”
  • Lancashire – Much loved Lancashire library goes on sale for £475,000 despite protests – Lancashire Evening Post. “Despite thousands of local signatures on a protest petition and appeals from local MP Ben Wallace, the council decided it must close the well used library to save cash. But Mr Wallace claims the county council may be being premature in putting the 1930s’ prime site building up for sale so soon. Yesterday the Wyre and Preston North MP was planning to contact Junior Government minister Rob Wilson to see if the Government is agreeable to the sale going ahead.”.  Council says ““Our property agents have begun to market the former Fulwood Library building for sale. We are asking for offers over £475,000 and would ask anyone who may be interested to contact HDAK Preston.””
  • Lancashire – ‘Silence is deafening’ row in library axe controversy – Blackpool Gazette. “Paul Maynard MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys has written to Lancashire County Council boss, Jo Turton, asking for an update … Thornton Gala Committee has put in a plan to re-open Thornton Library, and UR Potential, a young person’s charity based on the Fylde Coast, has put in a bid to open and run Cleveleys Library. Both bids have been supported by Coun Andrea Kay who led the battle to save the libraries, leading dozens of primary school pupils on a protest march … The bids were put in before the closure date for consultation. But since then neither organisation has heard from the County, despite three libraries in East Lancashire having their community bids agreed and funded…”
  • North Yorkshire – The Girl on the Train pulls ahead at county libraries – NE Connected. “Hard copies of the novel were borrowed 1,735 times from libraries across the county up to the end of November, 250 times more than the second-placed title, Make Me, the 20th Jack Reacher story by author Lee Child. The e-book version of The Girl on the Train was borrowed 131 times, again beating Make Me into second place with 118”
  • Warrington – My resolution – Warrington Guardian. “The main argument for closing them is visitor figures. We already know they are accessible, that they are at the heart of our communities, that they are a ‘hub’ for various activities for everyone. Our ancestors built 13 libraries around Warrington, they believed that they contributed to the health and wellbeing of all the residents…”
  • Worcestershire – We are “not just stopping doing things”, says council deputy leader as he defends budget – Bromsgrove Advertiser. “”When you look around other parts of the country, and you see people wanting to shut 12 out of 14 libraries and seriously curtail an awful lot of other services, plus putting up their council tax – we are not in that position,” he said. ” … “The comments come amid criticism from the opposition Labour group that areas like libraries have been squeezed badly, despite none of them closing. ” … “Back in the summer the leadership published controversial proposals to shave 78.5 hours off library opening hours, but rocked back on it and ending up reducing it by 55 instead – with 17 sites being affected”