It’s good to see that public libraries have the highest customer satisfaction of any public service. It’s lovely also to be able to report on plans for improving libraries in several authorities. This ties in nicely with a conversation I had with a national journalist today who was clearly interested in the bad news happening in libraries and not necessarily about the good: the good is always there and not “news”. This reminds me to say that, look, good things are happening in libraries. For all the bad news about cuts that I have to include every night, I’m sure there’s a hundred stories about how great libraries are and what a positive impact they are in people’s lives – it’s just that this isn’t reported because it’s always going on. So, nationally, the glass may be half empty but it’s also half full as well. As a post on communication from the Taskforce (also below – it’s like today has a theme) indicates, the great things that libraries do need trumpeting. So grab your musical instrument of librarianship and blow.


National news

  • Councils prepare to cut essential services to fund adult social care – Guardian. “Council tax rises due to come into force from April will not be sufficient to avoid deep cuts to services including road repair, parks, children’s centres, leisure centres and libraries, local government leaders have warned.” see also More cuts to local services ahead despite tax rises, councils warn – Sky News. A library is the main picture.
  • Customer satisfaction in local public services increases – LocalGov. “The UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), published today by The Institute of Customer Service, has given the UK’s local public services an overall customer satisfaction rating of 74.4 out of 100 – 0.6 points higher than its January 2016 score. ‘Your local library’ topped the tables as the highest scorer in the industry, with ‘your local police service’ as the most improved. Satisfaction for ‘in writing’ experiences are the lowest of any sector – 54.6 compared to the UK average of 67.9.”
  • Designing libraries: workshops – Libraries Taskforce. “This post is the third in a series which collates and shares the content of workshops given during the recent Libraries Deliver: Ambition sector forums… David Lindley (Director of Designing Libraries) offered his view of the library as ‘unfinished’, as they are always evolving in response to the changing needs of their customers; Gemma John (Researcher at Foster + Partners) gave an overview of her findings from visiting 34 libraries in five countries across two continents as a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellow…. “
  • Making the case for libraries: communications workshops – Libraries Taskforce. “As mentioned in our earlier post, we offered a range of workshops during our sector forums in Newcastle, London, Bristol and Birmingham. In the latter 3 venues, not all the people at the event could attend all the sessions, so the Taskforce is using this series of blog posts to enable everyone to see the presentations and get a flavour of the discussions that took place. The workshop: ‘Making the case for libraries’ was held in all 4 locations, a total of 13 times, and 161 people took part.”
  • ‘Keeping it Realia: the logistics of managing and loaning unusual collection items – #UKLibChat. “This chat will be focusing on unusual items we may have in our collections, the challenges involved in managing such objects, and the value they can add to our library collections as a whole. Please add your questions to the agenda and we look forward to chatting with you on 7th March”
  • #NAG17 Conference Booking Form – National Acquisitions Group. “6th-7th November 2017 Leeds, Hilton Hotel   Booking is now open for the 2017 NAG Annual Conference which this year moves to November and the Hilton Hotel in Leeds City Centre. Our Call for Papers is still open so full…”
  • “UKIP’s politics of hate must be defeated, hatred will not save children’s centres” – Corbyn’s speech to Labour councillors – Labour List. “The Tories have asset-stripped our own people. Labour will invest in our people to grow our economy and develop our country. Tory cuts have led to the closure of more than 340 libraries – the places where we learn so much about the world. And park managers have seen their budgets cut by up to 90 per cent – how can they maintain these parks which are for all of us, with such cuts?”

International news

  • USA – Librarian of Congress and the Greatness of Humility – New Yorker. “The values of Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first person of color in the position, can be seen in every aspect of the institution she runs.” … “When Hayden was formally asked to serve by the Obama Administration, she told me, “It was that word, ‘serve,’ that helped me. With the Baltimore experience, you really were almost touching the people who were benefitting from the work of the library. And I had to think about, How can I make this library that relevant, and that immediate?””
  • USA – Library Hand, the Fastidiously Neat Penmanship Style Made for Card Catalogs – Atlas Obscura. “In September 1885, a bunch of librarians spent four days holed up in scenic Lake George, just over 200 miles north of New York City. In the presence of such library-world luminaries as Melvil Dewey—the well-organized chap whose Dewey Decimal System keeps shelves orderly to this day—they discussed a range of issues, from the significance of the term “bookworm” to the question of whether libraries ought to have a separate reference-room for ladies. They then turned their attention to another crucial issue: handwriting…”
  • USA – Redefining the Online Patron Webinar – Ebsco. Ebsco have been in touch and asked me to mention this on PLN, which I have happily done. Some of the items mentioned on the video are FOLIO (the Future of Libraries is Open) – A community collaboration to develop a new, open source Library Services Platform (LSP),  Stacks, EBSCO Discovery Service , OpenAthens ,  NoveList Select for Linked Data.
  • USA – Swedish Library Bans Factual Book on Immigration, Says Contents are ‘Contrary to Human Rights’ – Breitbart. [Included here not because it says anything about Sweden but rather this is the sort of thing that Donald Trump is reading – Ed.]

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Bath and North East Somerset Council’s arts cuts are a further blow to our equality – Bath Chronicle / Letters. “… so step by step services have been removed or drastically reduced. First it was the youth service then CAB, the Library service and now the Arts to name but a few. Also education has largely disappeared from local accountability, a very serious reduction in my view and the NHS is clearly in need of greater funding not to mention social care, particularly for the elderly.”
  • Bradford – Volunteers come forward to take over Silsden Library – Keighley News. “… plans to take over Silsden Library are moving ahead with the formation of a steering group. The hope is that the group will develop into an ‘accountable body’ able to take over responsibility for the library from Bradford Council. Dozens of residents have already volunteered to staff the library, in the Silsden Town Hall, but there is a need for a body to officially manage the facility. Around 15 local residents, including town councillors Rebecca Whitaker and Michael O’Dwyer, attended a meeting earlier this month to discuss setting up the accountable body.”
  • Bradford – Yorkshire tourism chief calls on volunteers to save Bradford district’s information centres – Telegraph and Argus. “…  his colleague Cllr Rebecca Poulsen said: “It’s something worth looking at. A model that could work is similar to a lot of the libraries, with a paid coordinator, who is accountable, overseeing a group of volunteers, but we need to keep an information centre in Haworth”
  • Brent – Alan Johnson MP in fundraiser for Kensal Rise Community Library – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Alan Johnson MP is coming to Kensal Rise to entertain people about his colourful life to raise much needed funds for a community library”
  • Calderdale – Information Services and Volunteering Librarian – Calderdale Council. Job vacancy.
  • Cambridgeshire – Supporters step up campaign to save Cambridge library – Cambridge News. “Milton Road Library is ‘dignified’, ‘elegant’ and a ‘gem of 1930s architecture’, say campaigners fighting its demolition” … “Cambridgeshire County Council came up with plans to knock down Milton Road Library, in Cambridge, and build a new but smaller library on the site, together with some flats.”
  • Coventry – Coventry libraries, youth clubs and children’s centres face takeovers or closure – Coventry Observer. “There will be no library closures in 2016/7, but latest proposals to go before the ruling Labour cabinet on March 7 could see Earlsdon, Finham and Cheylesmore libraries run by community groups. Discussions regarding Caludon and Coundon libraries being taken over in the same way will also continue, the council says. The Save Coventry Libraries campaign say evidence nationally shows the vast majority of services where communities step in to run them – perhaps with shelves of books to be loaned from community halls – end up closing soon after anyway.”
  • Croydon – Central Croydon children’s library reopens with new stock of books and computers – Croydon Advertiser. “Central Croydon children’s library has reopened following a total revamp with a new stock of books brought in and laptop computers installed for group learning. The children’s library, on Katherine Street, has been given a new layout led by Croydon Council with help from Croydon Tech City and Carillion, the company that runs the borough’s libraries. The library’s book stock has had an early spring clean, with old books that were never loaned out being cleared away and new stock brought in. This means that the most popular books are now in greater supply and easier to find.”
  • Darlington – Council blunder leads to yet another delay of decision to close Darlington’s Crown Street Library – Northern Echo. “… plans to close Darlington’s historic Crown Street Library face another costly delay following a procedural omission – branded “an absolute embarrassment” by one campaigning councillor. Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet acts as trustee for the Grade II listed building but failed to make a declaration of interest ahead of a vote in January when they recommended to close it down. That has now left the council “open to potential legal challenge”, according to a memo seen by The Northern Echo.” … “In the document, sent to all councillors, Luke Swinhoe – the council’s assistant director of law and governance – says failure to declare an interest means the council must delay its plans a third time” … “”This is an absolute embarrassment for the council and raises questions about the integrity of the whole process,” he [another councillor] said. ““I don’t understand how senior leaders and advisors did not pick up on the fact that there is an obvious conflict of interest.”
  • East Dunbartonshire – History Week takes you back in time – Kirkintilloch Herald. “Local History Week 2017 celebrates history, heritage and archaeology in East Dunbartonshire and is an annual event organised by East Dunbartonshire Libraries running from Saturday, March 4 until Sunday, March 11.History Week is a national event that aims to increase awareness of local history. A whole range of events celebrating East Dunbartonshire’s rich history have been organised at venues across the area.”
  • Edinburgh – The Edinburgh charity lending DIY tools to help local communities – iNews. “The average cordless electric drill is used for just 13 minutes during its lifetime, yet most households own one and spend an average of £110 per year on DIY tools. The statistics are depressing, but one innovative Edinburgh charity is doing what it can to change them for the better..”
  • Harrow – The Library at Stanmore: redesigning a library for current and future use – Libraries Taskforce. “In 2015, Harrow Council set out to transform Stanmore library into a sustainable 21st century space. This work was part of the Council’s wider programme to modernise their libraries with a new and consistent branding, enabling new services and attracting new customers.”.  Aimed to attract 18 to 35 year old non-users. “The Library at Stanmore opened to the public in April 2016. In the first six months, there was a 15% increase in new members. There were 812 new members (eg those who joined the Library at Stanmore) in the period April to September 2015 compared to 935 new members in the same period in 2016.This work has also informed the refurbishments of other local libraries, such as the Kenton library.” [But be warned: this represents smaller improvements in usage for a refurbishment than I would normally expect and there’s no indication of the cost of the consultancy or how much money was spent overall rendering this article interesting but dangerously like a sales document – Ed.]
  • Liverpool – Four more Liverpool libraries face closure in fresh round of cuts – Guardian. “Up to four libraries could close in Liverpool, as the city council takes the scalpel to budgets in the latest battle between central and local government over funding cuts. If the closures go ahead it will mean the city has lost more than half its libraries in the last two years. The future of the as yet unnamed libraries is being considered as part of a plan to plug a £90m hole in the council’s budget over the next three years. It comes on top of cuts of £330m made since 2010, the city’s mayor Joe Anderson said. He has set up a task force to review the library service, with a view to saving £1.6m in the financial year 2018/19.”
  • Manchester – Get Data Smart: Open Data 101 – Eventbrite. “When you check the weather, when you look up train times or your local school performance – you’re using open data. Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. If you are wondering what open data is all about, this short guide will provide you with the basic information you need. Claire Back is a librarian at Plymouth Libraries and is interested in open data and its uses.” Other events held at the Library are here.
  • Manchester – Open Mic event for emerging musicians to be held at Central Library – Manchester Council. “As well as giving creative minds the chance to perform in one of Manchester’s most iconic buildings, Rhythm and Words (RAW) will also offer the opportunity for participants to improvise over new electronic music created by some of the city’s most exciting new producers. Hosted by the freestyler / lyricist MC Martin Visceral and DJ Jomo, the event is an opportunity to showcase new work in a welcoming atmosphere, or just enjoy listening to others.”
  • Manchester – Top Five: Manchester libraries you must visit – Manc Union. Working Class Movement Library, Manchester Central Library, Portico Library, John Ryland’s and Chetham’s.
  • Middlesbrough – Plan to turn ‘daunting’ Central Library into flagship destination for families – Gazette Live. “They say improving reading is a “vital element” of the town’s transformation, with the potential to reduce the number of troubled families, the demand on social services and the number of young people not in education, employment or training. A review by the Local Government Association (LGA) last year said the town’s community libraries were delivering a “clear vision”. But assessors also found the role of Central Library was “undeveloped and still reflected a relatively traditional approach”.”
  • Newham – World Book Day: Stratford celebrations to host Cressida Cowell, Julian Clary and hundreds of schoolchildren – Newham Recorder. “The Discover Children’s Story Centre is hosting special sessions with Cressida Cowell and Julian Clary to mark the 20th World Book Day, with 800 schoolchildren dressed as their favourite characters set to enjoy the fun.”
  • Suffolk – 10,000 books and CDs go missing from just one county’s public libraries – News Explored. “More than 900 items, which bosses say have either been misplaced, lost or stolen, were recorded at Ipswich County Library alone between 2014 and 2017. Ironically just 161 disappeared at Hollesley Bay, Warren Hill and Highpoint prison libraries. A total of 9,486 items went missing overall from Suffolk libraries. Chief executive Alison Wheeler said the huge problem is being taken seriously – and warned library thieves would be punished.”
  • Wandsworth – Wandsworth’s libraries – bigger and better – Designing Libraries. “Plans have been unveiled for a bigger and better Northcote Library – the latest in a series of service improvements and branch upgrades.” …”The council is currently holding an informal, preliminary stage consultation on proposals that could eventually see the existing Northcote Library replaced with a larger, better facility offering a wider range of library and community services just a stone’s throw away. The plans would see a modern three storey library incorporating an exciting children’s library complete with buggy parking space, enlarged study accommodation, self serve kiosks for book loans, upgraded computer and digital learning areas and a coffee and drinks outlet next to the section containing newspapers, magazine and periodicals.”