The reduction in amount of books libraries have on their shelves made several national newspapers this week while, on the other hand, a local piece ascribes the success of Cheshire East in attracting borrows to its substantial book-stock.  Could be a lesson there. There’s also a question about how much stock is “officially” on the shelves but is actually lost. This is a question that haunts many library services, whether it is down to theft or to inadequate housekeeping practices or both. Meanwhile, a very interesting blog post by Leon questions several aspects of the decision by Dudley Council to pass its library service on to GLL and another news article with some more detail (some of it showing the shocking impact the cut will have on some salaries) on the loss of Saturday enhancements for staff in Devon.  Both posts are worth a read.


Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than this post alone.  Only authorities with 6 or more are included. :

  •  Plymouth (17, -7), Bath and North East Somerset (12, +2), Manchester (9 – this is all positive news), Warrington (8, +2), Walsall (7, =), Cornwall (6), Darlington (6, -1), Devon (6, new), Kirklees (6, =), Lancashire (6, =),

National news

  • 25 million books are missing from UK libraries – but who’s counting? – Guardian. “Official figures from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) for library books stood at 52.3 million at the end of 2016, a drop of almost 25 million since 1996. But that number reflects computer records rather than physical stock checks made by librarians. Earlier this week, it emerged that libraries in Suffolk had 10,000 fewer books than listed on its database after an inventory count by librarians. Insiders said similar disparities were likely to be reflected across the 151 library authorities in England and Wales because cutbacks had reduced librarians’ ability to do shelf counts” also reported in The Times (page 7) behind paywall.

  • A core dataset for libraries: workshops – Libraries Taskforce. “The core dataset is intended to be a series of data which all library services will collect, use and publish. The plan is to have a consistent dataset which can be used to help inform and improve local library service delivery, as well as being used for advocacy purposes at local and national level (when aggregated). There may, of course, also be other data which authorities choose to collect in addition to this for their own local purposes. What that dataset should contain was the basis of the discussion at these workshops: what form it should take, how it is collected and the process of automating it will be a longer piece of work over the next year”
  • The Longlist For Britain’s Most Prestigious Children’s Literature Award Is All-White — Again – Bustle. “Alex Wheatle, 2016 winner of the Guardian’s children fiction prize, and Sunny Singh, a prominent YA writer and founder of the recent Jhalak prize for writers of color, are leading the charge for a Carnegie medal boycott. “There has to be collective action. It cannot just BAME (Black, asian and minority ethnic) writers against it, it has to be all authors,” said Singh to The Guardian. “It’s all very well for already marginalised people to do a boycott, but if you are already excluded, what difference will it make to not enter?” Wheatle, meanwhile, has instructed his publishers not to submit his next book, out in 2018, for Carnegie medal consideration. “
  • UK libraries ‘missing 25m books’  – BookSeller. “The UK’s public libraries are missing 25 million books, according to figures from libraries body CIPFA, although the decline in books could be worse than the figures indicate due to discrepancies between computer audits and physical stock takes. First reported in The Guardian, at the end of 2016, libraries held 52.3m books, which is down from 75.1m in 1996. These figures reflect the number of books logged in library computer records but there are concerns that this number is different from the amount of books actually on the shelves” … “”We need to put back 25m new books. It’s as simple as that”, Coates said.” … “CILIP c.e.o. Nick Poole added: “The neglect that our public library services have experienced since 2010 – with swingeing cuts to book stock, staffing, open hours and buildings – exactly at the time when the UK is facing an unprecedented skills and literacy crisis is a matter of national concern. We are calling on the Chancellor to urgently invest in libraries as a high impact, low cost solution to these challenges in the Spring Budget.””
  • The working class has its own cultural identity – and we must see it on the page – Guardian. “That’s why the people who seek power by blaming one group for another’s misfortune nearly always mistrust and seek to stifle books. Because books give us a chance to see ourselves as part of something bigger, because given the chance to create art, any art, in a library on a Saturday morning, in a community group, in a school, in a prison, in pupil-referral unit, means that you can explain why your life matters, why your story is important, and you can be given a sense that your voice is necessary, that you matter in society, and then you’ll be much less likely to want to destroy it.”

International news

  • Global – The grandest Andrew Carnegie libraries around the world – Scotsman. Includes Dunfermline and Edinburgh but also many international ones as well, including USA, Belgium and New Zealand.
  • USA – Homeless people have found safety in a library – but locals want them gone – Guardian. “Of all the places associated in the popular imagination with homelessness – park benches, skid rows, the undersides of freeways – libraries are probably low on the list. Yet the Castro branch, like others across California and elsewhere in the western US, is treated by many homeless people as a sanctuary from streets that can be cold, wet and dangerous. Some residents, however, have urged making libraries or their environs less attractive to homeless visitors”.  “Defensive architecture (e.g. benches shaped so one cannot sleep on them) being used.
  • USA – Is the library the new public square? – MIT News. “Is the library the new public square? That question is a core interest of the MIT Task Force on the Future of Libraries, which is re-imagining what libraries can and should be in a digital era when people still need intellectual communities and gathering places. Preliminary findings blow the doors off of traditional concepts of libraries as enclosed spaces with physical objects under tight control.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – ‘Barmy’ Barnet libraries policy: Children set for World Book Day protest dressed as 1984 characters – Ham and High. “Children dressed as Voldemort and characters from 1984 are planning to descend on East Finchley Library to stage a World Book Day protest against Barnet Council’s “ridiculous” and “dangerously unsafe” libraries policy.
  • Bury – Hundreds sign petition to save Radcliffe Library from closure – Bolton News. “Last month it was announced that Bury would lose 10 or 11 of its 14 libraries under plans to save cash – now residents are rallying round to save their much-loved library. The petition to save Radcliffe library currently has more than 450 signatures and has been started to raise awareness of the public consultation period. Proposals were tabled at a Bury Council cabinet meeting and a final decision is due to be made in April.”
  • Bury – Pensioners put up fight to save beloved Moorside Community Centre and Library, Bury – Bury Times. “Moorside Community Centre and Library is a lifeline for some older members of the community and last week pensioners got together to demand a rethink. The library, which opened in 2009 thanks to a grant from the Big Lottery Fund, is a much needed part of the community and users say it is an essential facility in an area barren of other council community centres. Members of Seedfield Tenants and Residents Association (STRA) have expressed their concerns over council plans to close at least 10 of the borough’s libraries.”
  • Cheshire East – Cheshire East has the most bookworms – Knutsford Guardian. “A recent survey of the country’s 55 unitary authorities found that the borough’s bookworms borrowed more books per head of population than any other. Nearly 5,300 books per 1,000 members were borrowed from the borough’s 16 libraries, placing Cheshire East as the leading unitary authority for library services. With 126,063 books, Cheshire East libraries hold the biggest collection of children’s fiction compared to other unitary authorities and the council bought 22,546 children’s books in 2015/16, showing the authority’s commitment to investing in children’s learning, literacy and literature.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire Rural Touring Arts brings vast array of shows to the people – Chester Chronicle. “A new season of arts events, including theatre, dance, music and family shows, will visit Cheshire’s rural venues and libraries this spring … For children, award-winning performance poet Dommy B brings The Boy Who Cried Wolf to Blacon and Handforth libraries in March and Travelling Light’s Sammy and the Snow Leopard visits Tarvin Community Centre in April. “
  • Darlington – Campaigners submit formal complaint to Darlington’s council over Crown Street Library error – Darlington and Stockton Times. “Campaigners have lodged a formal complaint over the latest delay in Darlington Borough Council’s plans to cut and change library services. In a missive signed by several people, the authority is accused of displaying a “cavalier attitude to conflicts of interest”. The complaint concerns the third delay to the contentious plans, which followed an admission from the council’s assistant director for law and governance, Luke Swinhoe, that there had been a “procedural omission”.”
  • Devon – Devon library staff will see pay cut, some by more than 30 per cent – North Devon Journal. “Following a consultation period, Libraries Unlimited board has opted to remove all enhanced pay for unsociable working hours affecting 247 staff, with cuts of more than 30 per cent of total salaries for 16 staff. Libraries Unlimited have been contracted by Devon County Council to run library services in Devon and now need to make savings of £1.5m. Library staff say they have already cut enhanced pay for new joiners to the organisation, which most staff accepted as necessary to make required cost-savings for the future. However, they say hitting current staff with the latest cuts is putting many in difficult financial situations. The pay cut will only affect lower-paid staff while the senior management team and those above Grade E will take no share of the cost-saving measures.”
  • Dudley – Dodgy Dudley? – Leon’s Library Blog. “In fact the whole report is in favour of the proposal to set-up a ‘staff led mutual’, so you would be forgiven for thinking that’s exactly what would happen. Certainly both the public and staff were led to believe this. So positive was the proposal to establish a staff led mutual that Dudley Council even prepared a candidate’s pack for a Chair of the newly created model. Dudley was also awarded £42,000 as part of the Mutuals Support Programme for support around ‘legal governance, business planning and financial modelling, stakeholder engagement support and transition.’ Therefore, it came as a great shock when it was announced that GLL was instead to step in and take on the running of Dudley’s Libraries.” … “How can GLL take on the running of Dudley libraries, including TUPEing staff over, and yet the Council still claim that a staff-led working arrangement has been created?” … “Where, when, how and whom made the decision to appoint GLL?” … “Did the funding given to Dudley via the Mutuals Support Programme allow for the awarding of the contract to a different provider?”
  • Essex – Essex County Council asks residents for suggestions on how to make the most of Writtle Library – Essex Live. “Villagers are being urged to join two unique brainstorming workshops on how they can make the most of Writtle Library. The Writtle Do aims to find new uses for the library after the Post Office moved to the nearby Co-op, leaving lots of unused space. Councillor Anne Brown, the cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “Writtle Do is all about helping new ideas flourish in the village.”
  • Fife – We just want to start up new library service in Kinghorn – Fife Today. “Kinghorn Library Renewed has been told that it can have access to the former library building for its new proposals for a book-lending service along with tourist information, book sales and IT services from March 20.But the group says it has been left “frustrated” because it did not know when and if it can put its long-awaited plans into action until this week. With the current library service run by Fife Cultural Trust finishing next week, the committee of KLR say the failure of Fife Council to provide it with a copy of the lease, or give an entry date until this week, has left it well behind where it hoped to be.”
  • Glasgow – Perfect partners Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries – Zurich Municipal. “As part of our new series taking a closer look at charities and the voluntary sector in Scotland, we catch up with Macmillan Cancer Support and find out more about its work with Glasgow Life and Cancer Support Scotland. Annmarie Galbraith, Macmillan Services Manager, explains how the charity offers information, emotional support, counselling and complementary therapies in local libraries for people affected by cancer.”

“We make a real difference to people’s lives. For example, in one library we met a woman who had been in the library attending English classes. We were able to introduce her to a volunteer who could speak Mandarin and she explained that her mother, back home in China, had been diagnosed with cancer. She felt enormous guilt at not being able to care for her and it made a real difference for her to just talk to someone who understood both her language and the pressure she felt”

  • Kirklees – Public meeting over future of Birstall Community Centre and Library – Telegraph and Argus. “Resident Ian Blamires and Birstall and Birkenshaw councillors Andrew Palfreeman and Elizabeth Smaje (both Con), have set up a community interest company, called Birstall Community Holdings Limited, to take on the running of the building, which includes Birstall Library and Community Centre, Market Street, as an asset transfer from Kirklees Council. The group plan to run the building and the community centre themselves and aim to get charitable status.”
  • Kirklees – What libraries will be left when Kirklees has finished cuts? – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Rumours that only Huddersfield and Dewsbury libraries will remain open have been scotched by a top councillor. Only 18 months after the last cuts, Kirklees Council has said it must slash another £1.9m from the libraries budget. About 50 staff are at risk of redundancy. The bid to shave off almost half of the funding has left many predicting the majority of the borough’s 24 libraries will shut. Clr Graham Turner has admitted it is very unlikely all two dozen will be able to continue with Kirklees funding.”

““There’s sufficient money to have more than two libraries,” said Clr Turner.” [For what is meant to be an assuring statement, I find this fairly scary: Kirklees has 24 branches – Ed.]

  • Leicester – Protests as Leicester City Council votes to increase council tax and cut services – Leicester Mercury. “Up to 50 people demonstrated outside the annual budget meeting of Labour-dominated Leicester City Council, as councillors met to approve a five per cent rise in the authority’s share of council tax and millions of pounds of cuts to try to balance the books after reductions in grants from the Government.” … “The union, which has 4,000 members among council staff, said reserves and borrowing should be used to avert further cuts and protect services such as libraries and children’s centres which are under threat.”
  • Somerset – Burnham-on-Sea library praised on BBC Radio 2 for its service – Weekly News. “Burnham-on-Sea Library was praised on BBC Radio 2’s Paul O’Grady show for the service it provides to residents. The library was mentioned on the Radio 2 show last weekend much to the surprise of the its employees. Nathan Crook, Burnham-on-Sea Library supervisor said: ““We were delighted to get a shout-out on Sunday’s ‘Thank You slot’ on Paul’s show. “Sarah, one of our regular computer users and borrowers felt us worthy of writing to the show to acknowledge the team and services we provide and how libraries are an asset to, and support the community.”
  • Walsall – Walsall Council cuts: Job and library losses edge closer as spending cull is approved by bosses – Express and Star. “Despite dozens of anti-cuts campaigners demonstrating on the steps of Walsall Council house the authority has approved its belt-tightening spending plan for the next financial year. The authority also approved a near five per cent council tax increase from April. And it means the ruling Labour group now has the green light to push ahead with its proposed cuts, which will see the local history centre relocated and services across the borough lose funding.”
  • Warrington – Council bosses determined to ‘preserve and enhance’ library services despite austerity measures – Warrington Guardian. “Councils bosses are determined to ‘preserve and enhance’ library services despite the ‘very challenging’ austerity measures imposed on the borough which have put them under threat. Council chief executive Steven Broomhead and Cllr Tony Higgins, executive board member for leisure, community and culture, were quizzed over library services at the Town Hall last Friday, February 17. Campaigners cautiously welcomed LiveWire’s recommendations, especially the decision to scrap plans to move central library to Golden Square.”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Clydebank Library spreads the Bookbug to young readers – Clydebank Post. “Young Bankie bookworms crawled along to Clydebank Library recently to take part in a Bookbug session. Parents and carers took their toddlers to the event, which takes place every Wednesday between 2pm and 2.45pm, for fun, games and a little bit of reading. The youngsters showed off their creative styles and picked up some new skills during circle time, including action rhymes, and songs.”