Up and down the country, library staff are looking at ideas for bidding for the £3.9 million Libraries Innovation Fund. I can see from the website statistics that a lot of you are looking at my list of 250 library ideas. There’s three new ideas today, with the most promising in my mind coming from Rochdale where the need to feed children’s bodies and minds are combined in a Read and Feed scheme. Genius. This ties in with a fair number of things for libraries and communities and I hope the idea spreads.  I’m not sure I’d want to do it myself but another idea is opening for a hour or two on Christmas Day itself to welcome the lonely (and presumably those critically short of something to read) into the library on what can be the most depressing day of the year. I understand that this is the second year that one library has done this and all I can say is that anyone involved should be up for awards.



National news

  • 5 Ways Public Libraries Bring Positive Change to Communities – Scottish Book Trust. They strengthen family ties; bring people together; help those who have English as an additional language; offer support for mental health and create a digitally confident community.
  • Book Value: Public libraries remain an important civic resource in the digital age – Times / Leading article [Mainly behind paywall].
  • Death of Public Knowledge? How Free Markets Destroy the General Intellect – Goldsmiths Press. “The Death of Public Knowledge? insists upon the value of shared, publicly accessible information, and suggests that the erosion of its most visible forms, including public service broadcasting, education and the network of public libraries, will have worrying outcomes for democracy.” … “Individually and collectively these pieces offer a rallying cry, asserting the need for fervent financial and regulatory support, in order to protect public knowledge in all its forms.” [I’ve contributed the chapter on public libraries to this book.  Sadly, it’s not out until May so you’re not going to be able buy it as a Christmas present – Ed.]
  • Decline of libraries hits poorer children hardest – Times [largely behind paywall]. “Libraries are in a steady and possibly terminal decline as they are emptied of their books, new figures show. Children’s book lending has dropped by almost a fifth in the past five years, from 95 million loans to 79 million, while adult lending has fallen by more than a third, from 200 million loans to 127 million. Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl, called the figures “very depressing” and warned that Britain was losing one of its most precious assets …”
  • Feeding Minds And Empty Stomachs Can Give Libraries A Renewed Purpose Because Hunger Doesn’t Take A Holiday – Huffington Post. “As a Rochdale councillor, my library is situated in one of the most deprived places in Greater Manchester. A regular user, I often noticed a high number of children using the library during the summer holidays. Some went to read, some to socialise and others because they had nowhere else to go. Many of the latter group never picked up a book and would stay there all day without leaving for lunch.  Through observing these youngsters over a long period of time, I realized there was an opportunity for the library to fill a unique policy need – and promote literacy at the same time as making sure children were guaranteed a healthy meal.”

“My solution to this problem was to introduce the ‘Read and Feed’ scheme. Children that went to the library and read for one hour were given a packed lunch. The concept is simple, cheap and was an instant success. The number of children completing the summer reading challenge rose by 500% and scores of lunches were handed out. Many youngsters were introduced to the joy of reading for the first time as a result. Nowhere else in the Borough saw increased numbers on this scale. Children in Smallbridge were learning and getting a healthy meal at the same time”

  • How should councils sell the latest cuts to us? Here are four ways – Guardian. “Many local government services are at a pinch point. Libraries, for instance, took a £25m hit to their budgets in the year to March 2016, and many other council services are facing big cuts. The National Audit Office in its 2014 report was complimentary about the way in which local government has adapt”.  Ways to approach the cuts: varying council tax bands, interactive online budget challenges, empower citizens (volunteers) or declare war on austerity.
  • Library as Laboratory – How can Libraries exist in the future? – Leon’s Library Blog. “Bedford Creative Arts has been exploring new ways that libraries can evolve for the future by bringing together artists and libraries. The result is five pioneering projects created by eight artists, ranging from festivals and performances to slot car championships.”
  • Library closures ‘will double unless immediate action is taken’ – Guardian.”A further 340 public libraries could close in the next five years if the government does not act urgently to halt drastic funding cuts, the head of a leading library organisation has warned, which would equal the number of closures witnessed by the sector over the past eight years” … “In the 20 library authorities Cilip is monitoring over proposed cuts, Poole said five – Swindon, Warrington, Lancashire, Edinburgh and Denbighshire – were cause for deep concern. He warned that the list of endangered libraries would grow if government does not challenge authorities over proposed cuts.”

““We would like to see Theresa May consider libraries as a special case as well as the care sector,” Poole said. Such a move would, he believed, buy librarians time in which to make long-term savings without profoundly damaging provision: “These problems are all the result of a … programme of austerity that was rushed through. Asking people to make these sorts of savings in a year is unrealistic.””

“… Swindon will be left with only one library for every 40,000 people – less than a third of the European average of one library per 15,000 people. “There are countries with library provision as low as that but they tend to be in wartorn areas,” Nick Poole said. “This is no way to be creating a society or economy that delivers for every person in the country.”

  • Nielsen LibScan Public Library borrowing data Period 10 (4 weeks ending 8 October 2016) – Nielsen. “Nielsen LibScan public library borrowing data is showing a slight improvement on loans for Period 9 (4 weeks ending 10 September) which had declined by 18.5% year-on-year. Nielsen LibScan shows a total of library loans for Period 10 as 5.1m during the 4 weeks ending 8 October.
  • Power of events – Maura Brickell. Excellent presentation [It takes a while to load – Ed.] on how to work best with publishers get authors to do a talk at your library and what makes a great event. Some interesting stuff in here like “charge for events” (so the public gives the author a value and you don’t get empty seats) and make sure that you sell books at the event with someone big enough to be on BookScan so the sales help the author chart.
  • Renovated Médiathèque at Institut français London inaugurated – Embassy of France in London. “The Médiathèque also comprises the Bibliothèque Quentin Blake, a tribute to the British author and artist, particularly famous for his pictures illustrating Roald Dahl’s novels, but also for his own books. Renovating this children’s library provided an opportunity to double its surface area and increase the number of activities offered to children, including toddlers. Finally, the two floors housing the adult collections have been modernized and reorganized in four areas: a learner’s library, an audiovisual section, humanities and social sciences, and culture and tourism in France.”
  • Strange Death of Municipal England – London Review of Books. Public libraries get numerous mentions. National cuts to council budgets leading to cuts libraries covered in detail. “Writers and artists line up to attack councils for the closure of libraries and galleries, as if they were motivated by philistinism rather than desperation (‘if you want to live among intelligent people … move out of Walsall,’ Philip Hensher tweeted when the library closures were announced). “
  • Who’s going to wash the tea towels? Lessons from the Cook2Learn pilots – Beyond the Book Stacks. “We have now completed the four planned Cook2Learn, Library Lab, pilot sessions. There are 19 people involved in the delivery of the Cook2Learn project so holding four pilot sessions gave everyone the opportunity to test out the practicalities of the venues, facilities, equipment, resources and session plans. Generally the pilot sessions were successful. We were able to overcome a number of concerns that had been raised in earlier planning and demonstrate that the practical side of the workshops would work.”

International news

  • Africa – Opportunity for African public library systems – EIFL. “…calls for expressions of interest in partnership to build capacity of public libraries to use computers and the internet to meet community needs”
  • Australia – Outside funding pays for new Trove content after National Library cuts – Canberra Times. “In addition to a funding halt on digitisation of the collections, the National Library has closed reading rooms on all public holidays, stopped stack retrieval on Saturdays and curtailed the institution’s trade publishing program.” … ” state and territory libraries and community organisations have been responsible for funding digitisation of new content for the collection.”
  • China – Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects chosen to design Shanghai’s new city library – DeZeen. “The main library volume floats above two pavilions that will house a 1200-seat performance venue, exhibition and events space and a dedicated children’s library. They will all open up towards a series of landscaped courtyards and gardens.”
  • Eire – Twelve Elves of Christmas – Dublin City. “As a little challenge, and a lot of fun, we would like children to try and find our library elf in their different hiding place on each of the 12 days of Christmas! Starting this Saturday (10th Dec). But to find our elf you will need to use the clue we will post each day. Otherwise you never will and won’t be in with a chance to win our daily prize! At 3pm each day we will post on Twitter and Facebook the clue for children as to where our elf may be hiding in the library. The clue will be posted in the library itself at 3.15pm. So parents need to get involved and retrieve the clues on Twitter and Facebook and pass it on to their children asap!.  If a child guesses correctly or finds the elf’s hiding place they must contact the librarian to receive a small prize.”
  • Germany – Report on the state of libraries in Germany – Deutscher Bibliotheksverband. Statistics, description and advocacy for German public and academic libraries.  The problems of austerity and the reasons for continuing to invest in libraries are addressed.
  • Global – Apply now: EIFL Public Library Innovation Award – EIFL. “The award is open to all public and community libraries in developing and transition countries that use information and communication technology (ICT) to improve lives in their communities by addressing any of the following issues, which are included in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Global – News from Section Libraries for Children and Young Adults – IFLA. “For many years the children’s department of a public library was the cosy, colourful part of the library. But in reality it sometimes seems just a copy of the adult section but with smaller furniture, more colour, some posters and that was it. It may be a kind of a shock but the way children grow up nowadays is completely different from previous generations. The digital native children require completely different things during childhood, and adolescence. Can librarians really keep up and is the dedicated library space still appealing for the children and teens? It is an ongoing theme for librarians which needs attention. That is why the children’s section dedicated a complete issue of the Newsletter on this. “.   Examples of best practice from around the world.
  • Tunisia – Tunisians are being encouraged to read by turning taxis into libraries – Quartz. “taxi driver Ahmed Mzoughi, 49, has taken a more cerebral approach to his vehicle’s decor. Scattered on the seats and lining the dashboard are slim volumes of poetry, fat novels, and psychology books. Stuck on a side door is a decal that says, “Attention: This Taxi Contains a Book.” That’s the tagline for a literary initiative launched in October by online book-sharing platform YallaRead (“Come on, Read” in Arabic). In collaboration with E-Taxi, an Uber-style cab-hailing service, YallaRead has put books in a select number of cabs like Mzoughi’s, giving passengers the chance to skim a few pages of Paulo Coelho or Naguib Mahfouz from the comfort of the backseat. Traffic jams are common enough in Tunis that you can read at least the first few paragraphs of a book in one trip, while a journey across the city lends itself to a full chapter. Before disembarking, passengers are encouraged by advertisements, or even their driver, to visit YallaRead’s website, find the book, and continue the story”

Local news by authority

  • Barnsley – Jayne Dowle: Libraries should be places to cherish, not shut down – North Yorkshire Post. “…his library was replaced by an excellent new sixth form college. The howls of indignation subsided, the library has a temporary home and a brand-new replacement will be built as part of Barnsley’s town centre improvements. In my town at least, the library will continue to be cherished. I just wish I could say the same for the rest of the country.”
  • Calderdale – New plan for the future of libraries – Telegraph and Argus. “The three-year strategy is based around promoting digital access and inclusion as well as skills acquisition and access to employment, among other things. “
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Star Wars fans to be out in force for Northwich Library event – Northwich Guardian. “Superfan Mike Holman, from Northwich, will be in costume along with others from around 10am to 12.30pm. Mike, who owns a comic distribution company, and his troops will also be handing out free comics and those who attend. Mike said: “I’ve had a love for Star Wars and all things ‘geeky’ since I was young and am excited about the fact that all of the things I still love and enjoy today are now popular amongst everyone and how it’s now trendy to be a ‘geek’.”
  • Devon – Rare and ancient books in Exeter to be given new lease of life – Libraries Unlimited. “Joanne Cousins, senior supervisor at the library, was granted funding from Carnegie Library Lab, a created by the Carnegie UK Trust to support and develop innovation and leadership in the public library sector across the UK and Ireland. Joanne received £5,000 to put towards the launch of a new ‘Adopt a Book’ initiative, after she fell in love with the collection of ancient books stored in the library’s archives. The scheme will allow people to ‘adopt’ an item of their choice and help fund its restoration. The special collections archive at Exeter Library consists of around 6000 items dating from 1480 to 1900. The oldest is an ‘Incunable’ (a book that was printed rather than written before 1501 in Europe) written by a Benedictine monk born in Sicily in 1386. This book dates back to 1480 and is one of only 80 copies in existence.”
  • Durham – Volunteers fight back against library funding cuts – Durham Advertiser. ” more than 100 volunteers are rallying around to help keep a community library open. Like hundreds across the country, Belmont Library, near Durham, was threatened with closure due to reducing local government budgets. But thanks to the support of the Friends of Belmont Library – a community orientated band of volunteers – it is still able to put on events for residents.” … “Though library hours have been reduced by half, the group puts on coffee mornings and talks by local authors such as Helen Cadbury, winner of the Northern Crime Competition for her novel, To Catch a Rabbit”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire County Council agrees to hand over three libraries – BBC. “The council has agreed to support the libraries at Crawshawbooth, Oswaldtwistle and Trawden with £5,000 each and an annual £1,000 grant. But it has declined applications to hand over former libraries in Earby, Barrowford and Whalley. Lancashire County Council (LCC) has also agreed that, in principle, an independent community library can be established in Hyndburn at the Arthur Wilson Centre, which is not a council building. Whitewell Bottom Community Centre and Stoops and Hargher Clough Community Centre will also be handed over to local independent organisations.”
  • Leicestershire – Validation of the proposed service model for Leicestershire Library Services – Pro Contract.  “Quotations are invited for the provision of a validation of the proposed operating model for Leicestershire Library Services against the “comprehensive and efficient” duty of the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act and to identify potential further efficiencies whilst maintaining the “comprehensive and efficient” duty”
  • Rochdale – Balderstone Library to open on Christmas Day – Rochdale Borough Council. “Balderstone Library in Balderstone Park will be serving up a late Christmas Breakfast from 11.30am to 1pm on Sunday, 25 December 2016, along with board games, carols, music and conversation.  There will be coffee, pastries and festive treats too.”
  • Sheffield – Sheffield Council facing ‘significant costs’ for planned library move – Star. “A report going to a council scrutiny meeting on Thursday said full estimated costs for the proposed scheme are yet to be finalised.” … “A report by Alice Nicholson, policy and improvement officer for Sheffield Council, said the authority may have to fund the relocation of the library itself if the scheme goes ahead. She said: “It may likely require the council to commit to some up-front costs to relocate the Central Library service and potentially undertake other enabling works.”
  • Stockton – Yarm Library co-locates with Newcastle Building Society – Libraries Taskforce. “Yarm Library’s recent refurbishment is the last of our town centre “main library” developments following the adoption of a hub and spoke approach by Stockton Borough Council in 2011. The High Street location of the building means it is a prime site not only for us, but also for potential partners. In 2014 we were approached by Newcastle Building Society who were looking for potential co-location sites for small branches in areas which weren’t served by a main branch.”
  • Swindon – Libraries proposal given the green light by committee – but only by one vote – Swindon Advertiser. “The council’s scrutiny committee voted by seven votes to six to allow the proposals to proceed to the implementation stage. The narrow vote followed a lengthy and passionate debate in which Labour councillors accused the administration of pushing ahead with plans that were too unclear to be properly enacted.”
  • Swindon – Ministers suggest libraries could stay – Swindon Advertiser. “The council is now considering adopting a trust model for the service, a move that could alter the financial modelling around which the latest plans are built. Coun Martin said: “We are very keen to move to a trust or mutual model, subject to cabinet approval, and we have agreement in principle from Libraries Minister Rob Wilson that we can have some assistance in getting this in place.””
  • Swindon – New library model approved by Council’s Cabinet – Swindon News. “The new model, which will be examined by the scrutiny committee next Monday (12 Dec), would see a core network of five libraries operate throughout the town which meet 80 per cent of current visits. The core provision would mean that 84 per cent of current library users and 91 per cent of Swindon households are within two miles of a library.” … ““We have been accused of dismissing the staff-led trust model which came out of the consultation, yet that could not be further from the truth as we have brought forward our work to consider trusts and mutual models as a result of the feedback we received.”
  • Walsall – Have your say on possible closure of Bloxwich Library and Theatre – Bloxwich Telegraph. “Walsall Council is seriously considering, amongst other options, closing all of the Borough’s branch libraries, including Bloxwich Library and Theatre (aka Bookmark Bloxwich) in Elmore Row.   This is due to the swingeing and cruel national government budget cuts being inflicted on the borough. Amongst the many other possible ‘culture cuts’ (including massive reductions in funding to the New Art Gallery and major cutbacks involving the potential downsizing and moving of Walsall Leather Museum and Walsall Local History Centre in with the Central Library in Lichfield Street), such a closure would be a huge blow to Bloxwich and district both in cultural and educational terms.”
  • West Berkshire – Revealed: The cost of keeping libraries open – Newbury Today. “Council has written to every town and parish council in the district asking them to make a contribution towards the cost of running the library service. How much each parish is being asked to pay depends on its population, but equates to approximately £1 for every person. Newbury Town Council is being asked to stump up £31,275 and Thatcham Town Council £24,480. By contrast, Stanford Dingley is being asked to pay £195. With many town and parish councils facing significant financial challenges of their own, some will be forced to consider raising their precepts – the amount of council tax they collect from residents – or simply not making a contribution at all.”
  • Wirral – Reminiscence boxes bring back memories for Wirral dementia patients – Wirral Globe. “Reminiscence boxes containing retro household items, clothes and music will help dementia sufferers recall memories. Wirral’s libraries will have an important role in collating and distributing them. “