My only thought today is for the USA, which is now being run by a President who does not understand the difference between a fact and something he wants to be true but is demonstrably untrue  (or “an alternative fact” as it was memorably described today). I have become used over the last six years to look enviously at the USA as country which largely values its libraries and has high usage.  I’m not quite so envious now.  But this is a situation where by merely being there, and not pushing a partisan message, American libraries can prove their worth like never before. I hope the new president is unable to stop them.


National news

Northern Ireland has merged its library authorities, as have three London councils. Several councils in Greater Manchester are still working towards doing the same. After the last local government re-organisation, the number of authorised library authorities were increased by almost 50% – to no benefit to library users – but increasing the bureaucracy. A consultancy study commissioned by the DCMS and the MLA suggested that savings in the range 5-10% of total expenditure could be achieved. Central services charges imposed by councils on library authorities have doubled and according to CIPFA now equate to about 16% of expenditure. Meanwhile book and other material funds are slashed and users walk away. We need the Taskforce to come up with an agenda that rebuilds a vibrant service for all.” Frances Hendrix on Lis-pub-libs. 

  • Library campaigners present ‘innovative agenda’ to rescue struggling sector – Guardian. “Campaigners have requested an urgent meeting with ministers to discuss measures to address the crisis in public-library funding. The appeal follows news that Plymouth is the latest council to propose cuts to its service in order to shore up its overall budget. In a letter seen by the Guardian, campaigners led by former Faber & Faber director Desmond Clarke propose measures to improve efficiency that include merging library authorities, boosting book budgets, introducing a national ebook-lending scheme and updating technology. Clarke, who received an MBE in the New Year honours list for services to the library sector, voiced strong criticism of the Libraries Taskforce, which was set up to find ways to rescue a sector that has been victim to severe budget cuts and closures.”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what recent assessment she has made of the potential effect on local library provision of changes in government funding for local authorities. ” Kevin Brennan MP (Cardiff West)

“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport monitors closely developments relating to proposed changes to library services throughout England. Local authorities have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service that meets local needs within available resources” Rob Wilson MP. Public Libraries:Written question – 60025 – Parliament UK.

“To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what his policy is on how schools, hospitals, libraries and other public services will be planned into the proposed new garden cities, towns and villages.” Grant Shapps MP (Welwyn Hatfield).

“We are determined that new garden cities, towns and villages are supported by the right infrastructure at the right time. We have committed £15 million of capacity funding to support master planning and key studies to underpin joined up delivery of new housing and infrastructure in the garden cities, towns and villages. Our new £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund shows just how serious we are about ensuring that infrastructure is in place to support housing growth.” Gavin Barwell MP Department for Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 20th January 2017 – They Work For You.

International news

  • – ABC. “”Modern, 20th-century encyclopaedias really aren’t worth anything at all now,” rare book dealer Derek McDonnell told ABC Radio Perth. Second-hand book dealers cannot sell them, and even some charity shops now decline them as donations, he said.”
  • Canada – Hamilton Coun. Donna Skelly questions ‘relevancy’ of libraries during budget discussion – Hamilton News. “At a time when youths can Google an answer on a computer or phone, why is a library necessary, she asked. “Are we coming up with ways to validate the library?””
  • EU/USA – Designing libraries in the 21st century: lessons for the UK – Designing Libraries. “The report provides an overview of how design is being used as a tool to enhance the experience of customers and change the behaviour of staff in public libraries in twelve locations across five countries in two international contexts. It suggests that the most successful designs are those that are the simplest – open plan with good visibility across the floorplate and excellent connectivity – allowing staff and customers greater freedom to change the form and function of the public library over time. Yet, the simplest designs are not always the easiest to achieve, since open plan floors are often noisy, and flexibility involves careful planning.”
  • India – Rajasthan govt asks public libraries to keep the entire work of RSS idealogue – Indian Express. “All 361 libraries in state told to feature Deendayal Upadhyaya’s ‘Sampoorna Vangmay’, a 15-volume compendium, to push his idea of ‘Ekatma Manavvad’ “
  • USA – Cultivating support for your library with a ladder of engagement PC Sweeney. “The ladder of engagement is a fundamental tool for any organization or initiative that can be used to gradually build the relationships that are required to convince the public to support a cause and libraries can use it just as well. The ladder represents the way that people move from being unaware of a cause or an organization, to becoming broadly supportive of it, and finally to becoming active within it. For example, if an organization approaches someone for a contribution of $500 dollars to a cause they know nothing about, then their chance of success is slim to none. If the organization first took the time to develop a relationship with a targeted individual and then asked for a donation of $500 when the target was mentally or emotionally prepared to be asked, then there is a much greater chance of success.”
  • USA – Ethics of Library Meeting Rooms – Public Libraries Online. “The debate did not focus on patrons’ abusing rooms, nor on whether libraries should charge a small fee for their use, but rather if patrons (e.g. religious groups) should be allowed to use them at all. The idea has disturbed me because it is anathema to the mission and inclusion of libraries. It is against Section VI of the Library Bill of Rights and contradicts ALA’s interpretation of the meeting room clause. Being biased towards groups using library meeting rooms is up there with sanitizing the collection based on personal convictions, in my book. The worst part was that there were some (albeit few) librarians who agreed with the person that started the debate!” … “When librarians begin to negatively target groups (religious, teens, LGBTQIA patrons, etc.), tailoring library policy to under-privilege them in some way it is unacceptable and should be stopped immediately. “
  • USA – St. Louis’ public library computers hacked for ransom – CNN. “The computer system was hit by ransomware, a particularly nasty type of computer virus that encrypts computer files. This form of attack renders computers unusable — unless victims are willing to pay an extortion fee and obtain a key to unlock the machines. According to the library, hackers demanded $35,000 in the electronic currency Bitcoin — but the library refuses to pay. Instead, it’ll wipe the entire computer system and reset it, which could take days or weeks. The cyberattack hit 700 computers at all of the city’s 16 library branches, according to spokeswoman Jen Hatton”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Ruth – Information Librarian – 23 Librarians. “I really enjoy my job. It is not without stress but it is worth it when you believe you can make a difference. If I were to offer two parting pieces of advice in these times of austerity they would be: Grasp every opportunity you get however big or small. Think creatively and be flexible. Don’t get boxed into a view of what a librarian/ library is or isn’t.”
  • Brent – Professional librarian vacancy – Preston Library Campaign and Community Hub. “Major Step Forward By Brent’s Community Libraries – Barham and the other Community Libraries in Brent (Cricklewood, Kensal Rise and Preston) are making progress. Following a successful Grant bid to Brent’s Voluntary Sector Fund, the 4 Community Libraries are able to go ahead with obtaining the services of a Professional Librarian” [This vacancy advertised again at the request of Brent library campaigners -Ed.] see also Professional Community Librarian? Apply for our innovative post – Kensal Rise Library.
  • Lancashire – Letter to Library Minister Rob Wilson MP – Paul Maynard MP Facebook. “This is my letter to Library Minister Rob Wilson MP asking for an update following his meeting with LCC. It is vital to keep the pressure up if we are to save these libraries. Andrea Kay and Alan Vincent have been leading the way locally, but Labour just aren’t listening.”
  • Nottingham – Hearts for the Arts Shortlist: Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Performing Arts Library Service (NPALS) – National Campaign for the Arts. “Nottingham and Leicester City Libraries were both providing well-used music and drama sets services, loaning material to local amateur groups who wouldn’t be able to afford the rates from commercial publishers. However, this was at a cost that neither local authority could continue to support. Nottingham City Council showed strong leadership by persisting in trying to find a solution, approaching Leicester to discuss the idea of combining the two services.”
  • Plymouth – Schoolgirl, 8, leads campaign to save Plymouth libraries – ITV News. “Lucy Woodman started a petition after Plymouth City Council announced that her library in Efford is one of ten that could close, as part of a move to “transform and modernise” services and embrace the “digital world.” She’s enlisted the help of her friends at High View Primary School, in an attempt to stop the council’s plans. “I decided to put together a petition because I really like that library down the road and all the other libraries that might actually shut and because i don’t get why they’re shutting,” Lucy Woodman said.”
  • Plymouth – Tories ‘not divided’ over library closures says campaigning councillor – Herald. “A Conservative councillor fighting to keep his local library open insists his party is not divided on the issue. Earlier this week Tory chiefs revealed plans to shut ten “under-used” city libraries, promising to invest in new technology, introduce a click-and-collect service and expand the home library service.” … “Cllr Carson said: “In the year 2000, 1.3 million people were using the libraries; last year that was down to 700,000. “That’s quite a drop. There is a real threat to what a traditional library was when they were first set up.”
  • Redcar and Cleveland – Row over plans to axe mobile library in east Cleveland – Darlington and Stockton Times. “…  come under fire for not holding consultation sessions in the rural communities most affected by the change. Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council is planning on changing some of its 13 libraries’ opening hours, modernising some branches with self-service machines, relocate two libraries, and stop the mobile service.”
  • Richmond – Richmond Libraries Received More Visitors in 2016 than Stonehenge – This is Our Town Richmond Upon Thames. ” Richmond Libraries clocked up more visitors in 2016 than some of the UK’s top attractions, including prehistoric monument Stonehenge. Just weeks after Richmond Council’s Libraries were named the most popular London borough for ‘click and collect’ book request services, Richmond Libraries have received more great news – they’re now a top visitor attraction! The statistics released by CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) show 1,397,381 visits to a library in Richmond in 2016. Stonehenge, on the other hand, received 1,366,758 visits. Richmond Libraries are also seemingly more popular than London Zoo, which received 1,265,911 visits and Hampton Court Palace, which received just 598,851 (ALVA.org.uk  2015*).
  • Suffolk – Consultation launched for Mildenhall Hub project which would include a new library – Suffolk Libraries. “Mildenhall residents are being asked for their views on plans for a new ‘Mildenhall Hub’ which would involve a number of local services being delivered on one site, including the relocation of the library. The Mildenhall Hub would involve the creation of a new school, leisure facility and health centre in Sheldrick Way. As well as a new library, the Hub would also house council offices for Forest Heath District and Suffolk County councils, emergency services, a pre-school and adult learning space, as well as the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and the Department for Work and Pensions.”
  • Sunderland – Council should keep its hands off our libraries – Sunderland Echo / Letters. “The council has just transferred Fawcett Street library to the museum building and, in the process, decimated the amount of books we can borrow. It has also reduced the number of tables that we can sit at to three and the three walls of computers, which were always in use, have now been reduced to a mere one computer. Now the council is asking people how strongly they support providing a city centre library and town centre libraries in Washington and Houghton (Echo, January 11) as though they have decided to get rid of them. They gained millions of pounds from Newcastle airport. What happened to that? What about the reserve money? They could spend some of it on the libraries. Hands off libraries.”
  • Warrington – Council to spend £30m on acquiring stake in new bank – LocalGov. “The borough council will invest in a new Challenger business bank that hopes to gain a banking licence from the Bank of England in the first quarter of 2017. This will be a joint venture bank – known as Redwood Bank – between the council and the owners of an established bank, an unnamed ‘major city financier’. If it is granted a banking licence, Redwood will be launched in August.” [Included in contrast to deep cuts proposed for library service – Ed.]
  • Warwickshire – Stratford library closes for essential works – Stratford Observer. “The Henley Street library will close today (Saturday January 21) for essential piping and electrical work which is not set to be completed until June at the earliest. Plans to operate from a temporary base at Stratford ArtsHouse have been dropped and Warwickshire County Council is currently investigating alternative options to provide a limited range of services during the temporary closure.”