The BBC has produced a large survey of the state of play in Welsh public libraries.  It makes interesting reading, with the excellent work being done nationally (on, for example, e-resources) being at least counterbalanced by the effect of cuts on local library services. Library e-resources are looked at in a guest post hosted by the Libraries Taskforce which points out that too often excellent resources are hidden behind inadequate, or even downright obstructive, council websites.

There’s a bit of other news as well but I will continue the thread on the damaging of library unique selling points started in the last post by just mentioning co-locations.  As with supplier stock selecting (and it was rightly pointed out to me – thanks Jane –  that if expert librarians work with the supplier very well, it’s not a bad thing, the problem is when they don’t or when there aren’t any librarians any more), co-locations can be really good. The right co-location can attract traffic into the library and not detract from the neutral and welcoming atmosphere that is a key library USP.

The downside, though, is where the co-location is forced upon the library and services which detract from such an atmosphere become uneasy bedfellows.  These bad co-locations can damage the neutrality of the library, especially when the service is poorly understood by those in the driving seat.  A probable “bad” co-location is up for grabs as I’m writing this with the imminent decision on combining gyms and libraries in Lambeth.  This has been the source of much anger and parody, which is a shame as the instigators (GLL) have done good work with libraries from what I have seen elsewhere.  If the combination (I’ve seen it called a “gymbrary”) does go ahead, let’s see how neutral and welcoming it is to library users.  I hope my fears on the subject are proved wrong.



Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than this post alone:

  • Lancashire (23), Plymouth (19), Birmingham (8), North Yorkshire (8), Swindon (7), Warrington (7)

National news

  • AHRC funded project: Shelf-Life; Re-imagining the future of Carnegie Public Libraries – Cardiff University. “Shelf-Life asks if the uniquely controlled procurement of over 2600 public buildings across Britain and America around 100 years ago by the Carnegie Library Programme could benefit from some systematic thinking for their re-vitalisation at a time of crisis. Using and developing new techniques of Historic Building Information Modelling (HBIM), the proposal aims to develop a parametric library of building components for Carnegie Libraries of the UK. A digital resource of common elements would enable better-informed, more sensitive and economic proposals for the rehabilitation and re-use of these buildings and set an example for others.”
  • CILIP Cymru Wales Conference 2017 – CILIP Cymru Wales. “This year our conference is at Venue Cymru in the beautiful seaside town of Llandudno.The conference is open to delegates from all levels and sectors of the Information profession and it is the perfect event to share experiences, foster new relationships and inspire new professionals…”
  • Council Cuts: The Silent Scandal Tearing Our Communities Apart – Huffington Post. “A swimming pool closes in Leeds. A library shuts in Swindon. Essex cuts its ‘meals-on-wheels’ for old people. Children are put at risk in Birmingham as a specialist team is axed. A ‘lollipop lady’ who helps kids across a road in Staffordshire loses her job. Piece by painful piece, familiar things are disappearing. Things have been part of our social fabric for decades. And it’s happening by stealth – a silent scandal attracting few protests and placards.”
  • Five Measures Libraries Take to Keep Children Safe Online – Society of Chief Librarians. “The Society of Chief Librarians welcomed the Growing Up Digital report and today publishes a list of measures that libraries have put in place to provide a supportive and safe digital environment for children and young people….”
  • Library e-resources: not meeting the potential? – Libraries Taskforce. “Because it really isn’t just me. The user experience with council library ‘e-resources’ is not good, according to Better Connected, the annual survey of local authority website performance. Based on user testing of library services provided by England’s 27 county councils, Better Connected reported in January that council library services should be doing more to make it easier for people to sign up and use their e-books, e-magazines and e-audio services. Library services online are already well used, accounting for around 8% of visits to council websites. But the provision of e-resources opens council library facilities to whole new audience segments, including those unable, or disinclined, to visit the library in person….”
  • NLT analysis exposes England’s literacy ‘crisis’ – BookSeller. “The vast majority of England’s constituencies have “serious literacy issues”, according to charity The National Literacy Trust (NLT), following new analysis carried out by the NLT and credit referencing agency Experian. The analysis found that 86% of constituencies (a total of 458 out of 533) contain at least one ward with literacy issues. The extent to which the problem is “on all our doorsteps” left the project’s lead analyst “shocked”. The NLT said: “Children’s futures will be put in jeopardy if action isn’t taken at a local level to tackle England’s deep-rooted literacy crisis.”
  • One in 10 Welsh libraries run by volunteers – BBC. “Research by BBC Wales found 30 of Wales’ 277 libraries are currently run by volunteers, with eight more run in partnership with communities. An army of 596 volunteers worked 21,761 hours in libraries in 2015-16 – 231 more volunteers than the previous year. Campaigners warned the library system in the UK was “at crisis point”.”
  • What next for libraries as scores are shut and out-sourced – BBC. “One in three of Wales’ libraries has closed or changed hands in the last seven years due to budget cuts… In the last seven years one in six of all Wales’ libraries have closed. A further 64 have changed hands and are now run either by outside organisations or with support from volunteers.” … “”In many areas and as a result of the co-location of services, the additional footfall in our hubs – up by 32% so far this year – has had a positive impact on the uptake of library services.” [This is Cardiff – I’ve seen Central Library there where the library is shoehorned into small bits so take this with caution – Ed.] … Llanelli library’s building was completely renovated in 2012 and reinvented as “more of a coffee shop” than an austere library”. CILIP says “”I think this is just not sustainable. The library is doing lots of things and it confuses library users when they walk in as to what that place is.”” … “across Wales a number of initiatives had been introduced to try to keep the service sustainable. “A lot of the country are looking to Wales as they are doing brilliant work” said Mr Poole. “They have started a joined-up library system so it is easy to find and get books from across the country.” … “There are also plans to give users one card which could be used in any library in Wales after 2018.”

“Ian Bancroft, chief executive officer at Flintshire council said: “To survive in the modern world, a library has to be either on the high street, so someone can go shopping and also go to the library, or it has to be co-located with another building. So the logic with libraries is, you’ve got to be part of a visit, you can’t be a one-off place to go.”

International news

  • Australia – Library Lover’s Day – Australian Library and Information Association. Ideas: “Encourage your patrons to spread the #librarylove by having a competition for the best social media post using the hashtag with your libraries’ twitter handle Change your library’s facebook or twitter avatar and/or banner to the avatars and banners available in the resources section below  Create a digital ‘blind date’ pinterest board that links to your libraries catalogue.  The Salt Lake County Library’s Pinterest has a great example. They took a picture of a book wrapped in brown paper and twine with short descriptions and linked the image to the book in their library catalogue…”
  • Canada – How Toronto libraries are trying to chase the winter blues away – CTV News. “Two Toronto libraries are participating in a pilot project that is shining some light on what’s commonly known as the “winter blues.” This week, the Toronto Public Library put light therapy lamps in two of their branches: Malvern and Brentwood. Staff at Toronto’s public library system, one of the largest in North America, were inspired by similar light therapy programs being conducted at libraries in Edmonton and Winnipeg, said Alex Carruthers, manager of TPL’s learning and community engagement. “It was really successful and the public really liked it and we thought, ‘It’s dark here too,’” Carruthers told”
  • Denmark – Next Library – Next Library .net. “A Next Library® event is an international gathering of forward-thinking library professionals, innovators and decision-makers who are pushing boundaries and making changes that support learning in the 21st century.”
  • Global – Open Societies are Healthy Societies – IFLA. “Libraries have long supported the flow of ideas and information across borders. IFLA has called for reforms to laws that hold this back. Evidence shows that such flows promote innovation and creativity, which in turn drives growth, jobs and equality everywhere. However, arbitrary and unjustified barriers to the movement of people jeopardise this situation. Such policies run contrary to states’ obligations under international law, which prohibit discrimination of any kind on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, as set out in the UN’s New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.”
  • Russia – Imprisoned Ukrainian Library Director on trial for ‘extremism’ takes Russia to Strasbourg – Human Rights in Ukraine. “Natalya Sharina, Director of the Ukrainian Literature Library in Moscow, has been held under strict house arrest since her arrest on ‘extremism’ charges in late October 2015.  It is her unwarranted incarceration and the restrictions imposed on her that have now been challenged with the European Court of Human Rights, since her trial for supposed ‘incitement to enmity’ is still ongoing.  Her lawyer, Ivan Pavlov explains that the authorities have provided no sensible grounds for continuing to extend her house arrest, claiming only that she could try to abscond.  This is nonsense since the 59-year-old librarian’s passport has been taken away.  The refusal to allow her to leave the flat at all is having a detrimental effect on her health, as is the prohibition on using any form of communication.  Pavlov points out that even remand prisoners get a walk outside and the right to correspondence. …”
  • Sweden / Moldova – Moldovan and Swedish Library Leaders Share Modern Approaches to Libraries – Novateca. “The head of the International Cooperation Department of the Swedish Ministry explained the ministry’s role in coordinating the Swedish library system development with the support of 27 agencies and about 70 NGOs and associations that implement projects and initiatives. Additionally, he stressed that the Swedish Ministry of Culture has a wide range of areas to oversee besides libraries such as media, democracy and human rights, language and minority rights.” … “Swedish libraries pay special attention to programs that are building early literacy skills in their communities. All the visited libraries have had great success in providing services, such as storytelling, reading clubs or even a Philosophy club, to involve kids in reading and literature, and decisions related to new library activities. Library service development is based mainly on the feedback they receive from their users, especially kids.”
  • USA – Long overdue – Why public libraries are finally eliminating the late-return fine. – Slate. “In 1906, a reporter for the Detroit Free Press described a scene that had become all too common at the city’s public libraries. A child hands an overdue book to a stern librarian perched behind a desk, and with a “sinister expression,” the librarian demands payment of a late fine.” … More than a century later, similar dramas are still enacted in libraries across the country every day” … “The good news is that librarians are noticing. Since 2010, districts in northern Illinois, Massachusetts, California, and Ohio—to name a few—have eliminated some or all late fines. Others are dramatically lowering penalties for late returns; last year, San Jose, California, halved daily fines to 25 cents and slashed the maximum payment per item to $5 from $20. The American Library Association issued a policy brief on services for the poor in 2012 whose first point was a vow to promote the removal of fees and fines. Is this “the end of overdue fines?” wondered the Public Library Association as the trend continued to gather steam a few years later.”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Bath protesters gather outside Moorland Road Library against B&NES Council plans – Bath Chronicle. “Speaking outside the Moorland Road library yesterday, campaigner Claire Crestani said: “We really want to know what the plans are. We haven’t really been told. “It seems the council are the ones making the decisions to cut the libraries before asking us what we want. “This is all cloak and dagger stuff, they are not being transparent. The council are not working with the community.”
  • Birmingham – New plans to save two Birmingham libraries – BBC News. “The new proposal will see staffing reduce from “112 to 99 full-time equivalents,” which is up from the 88 initially proposed. However, Birchfield library will open for 21 hours rather than 35 while the Glebe Farm opening hours will go up from 15 to 21 per week. The Labour-run city council said Sutton Coldfield Library would remain open whilst the authority, the town council, the Library Lobby campaign group and other organisations “work together to see if a long-term sustainable partnership solution can be established”.”
  • Birmingham – Revised library plans set for approval – Birmingham Newsroom. “Revised proposals for the future of Birmingham’s Community Library service have been drawn up following feedback from citizens during a recent 12-week period of public consultation. Initial plans for a three-tiered service (with opening hours and staff support reduced in tiers 2 and 3) were put forward as part of the council’s effort to respond to reduced funding from central government and would have seen the libraries at Aston and Sutton closed – reducing annual expenditure by £1.9million by 2018/19. However, comments and feedback along with potentially up to £150,000 in a one-off funding pledge from Sutton Coldfield Town Council have helped the city council refine its plans all within the reduced finances, the highlights of which are as follows…”
  • Birmingham – Sutton Coldfield Library handed reprieve as Birmingham City Council announces revised plans – Sutton Coldfield Observer. “Following a 12-week consultation, the authority confirmed Sutton Library at the Red Rose Centre will remain open and it will be ‘business as usual’ in the Red Rose Centre ‘while the city council, town council, the Library Lobby campaign group and other organisations work together to see if a long-term sustainable partnership solution can be established for the service’.”
  • Birmingham – Why two Birmingham libraries have been saved but a third is in the firing line – Birmingham Mail. “Plans to shut Aston Library have now been dropped entirely and Sutton Coldfield Library has been given a stay of execution until the end of August while talks to secure its long term future carry on. ” … “Meanwhile the Kents Moat Library off The Meadway in Garretts Green will be closed and services transferred to the nearby Glebe Farm Farm library. More than 2,000 people responded to plans to restructure Birmingham’s library service and cut £1.9 million from the budget during three months of consultation. The threat to Sutton Coldfield Library prompted a 6,500 name petition and, crucial to its preservation, was a pledge of £150,000 funding from the Sutton Coldfield Town Council to keep it afloat.”
  • Brighton and Hove – £700,000 proposal to replace Saltdean Lido library – ITV News. “Saltdean’s historic Lido may receive up to £700,000 of council funding to be used to replace the public library in the building. Work on the £12 million restoration project is already underway with the pools expected to reopen this summer. The proposal is to be submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council on 9th February. The money would be secured by borrowing and included in the council budget for 2018-19. The money would pay for a temporary facility for library services during the demolition as well as an extension providing permanent facilities. The current restoration will see the main pool and children’s pool renovated along with outdoor landscaping and water heating facilities.”
  • Coventry – Macmillan Library Information Service – Coventry Libraries. “Information hubs stocked with Macmillan booklets and CDs have been set up at Central, Foleshill, Tile Hill, Bell Green and Willenhall libraries. Training has also been rolled out to some library staff, so they can signpost people to further support.”
  • Darlington – Our Crown Street Library: A Key Part of Darlington’s Identity – YouTube. “Our Crown Street Library: A Key Part of Darlington’s Identity is about what makes Darlington’s central public library unique & irreplaceable “: A presentation showing the importance of the library and the reasons against closing it.
  • Devon – Ottery St Mary Library will move to new home this month – View News. “The building, pictured below, has been significantly refurbished through a partnership with Ottery St Mary Town Council, Devon County Council and Libraries Unlimited. The Friends of Ottery Library have also helped to raise funds to contribute towards the new library furniture. The new library will offer improved accessibility, with step-free access for those with reduced mobility and parents or carers bringing children in pushchairs, as well as providing a bigger and more modern space for new facilities.”
  • Dorset – AsOne Theatre is bringing family theatre to Dorset libraries this half-term – Dorset Echo. “AsOne Theatre Company will bring The Fisherman’s Daughter; Part II Jess’s Odyssey to Weymouth Library on Wednesday February 15 at 11am, Bridport Library on Thursday February 16 at 11am and Dorchester Library on Friday February 17 at 11am…”
  • Haringey – Lib Dems in bid to stop Labour’s library cuts – Haringey Liberal Democrats. “Lib Dem opposition councillors have criticised the proposals which are due to save the council £150,000 and said they would keep the library services as they are. The opposition councillors insist that the savings can be made by cutting the bill for very senior staff at the council. An initial draft of Haringey Council’s budget, shows that the Labour Cabinet plan to cut library opening hours in the north London borough. Labour has proposed reducing branch library opening hours down from 58 hours to 36 hours per week. The reduced opening hours will also mean that 6 members of Haringey’s library staff are due to lose their jobs. The Lib Dem councillors have said they will oppose and try to reverse the cuts.”
  • Hounslow – West London libraries embark on new chapters as plans revealed for new locations – Get West London. “”Hounslow Library will move earlier than expected later this year”” … “In Hounslow , plans to move the library into the new civic centre direct from its current home have been shelved. Instead it will move in May to the council’s current HQ in Lampton Road and stay there until both are ready to move into the new building”
  • Kingston – Improvement works begin on £500,000 upgrade at Kingston libraries – Guardian series. “Work has begun to transform all of Kingston’s seven libraries as part of a £500,000 upgrade to install self-service technology and create “flexible community spaces”. Improvement works have almost finished on Kingston Library, which is set to reopen on Monday, February 27. Self-service machines will replace the front desk at all seven libraries, which the council said will free up staff to promote “reading, listening and discovery” services. Councillor Andrea Craig, Cabinet Member for heritage, arts and leisure at Kingston Council, said: “This is a hugely exciting project for the borough and the benefits of this investment will be felt for years to come.”
  • Lambeth – Carnegie Library: As Herne Hill councillors remain silent, Green Party Scott Ainslie offers to speak for campaigners – Brixton Buzz. “This proposal is for a facility that nobody needs or wants. Let’s be clear that the people of Lambeth do not want a gym – they want their library back. This is evident from the 316 objections received in comparison with only 5 letters of support. First of all let’s clarify what is actually at stake. According to the plans, the ground floor would remain in D1 use though a significant amount of it would become a ‘flexible community space’ rather than library space, and it’s not at all clear what that ‘community space’ would be used for. When plans for the Carnegie Library were exhibited last year, both the Council and GLL stated that ground floor space could be used by GLL for exercise classes. Bodypumping is hardly compatible with a quiet library space where people read and study”
  • Lambeth – Library campaigners to protest at Lambeth’s planning meeting tonight – London News Online. “Campaigners fighting to save Carnegie and Minet libraries, will be  urging Lambeth planners tonight, to refuse permission to GLL, the council’s leisure  centre provider to transform the library into a pay-to-use gym.  They say Lambeth council is planning to spend £4million on turning the two libraries they closed in April last year – Carnegie and Minet – “into unwanted and un-needed gyms” and has recommended that planning permission for Carnegie library is granted.  Opposition from residents and library users continues with more than 300 objections  submitted to the plans, say campaigners.”
  • Plymouth – Colour Our Collections – Plymouth Council. “Have fun colouring these in and share the results with us from 1 to 5 February on social media. Include the hashtag #ColourOurCollections or #ColorOurCollections (use the American spelling of colour to view collections from across the world) and tag us @plymlibraries
  • Plymouth – Plymouth headteacher ‘gutted’ at library closure plan – Plymouth Herald. “The headteacher of a city school has spoken out about the planned closure of a local library, saying it would come as a huge blow to younger members of a growing community. Estover Library, situated inside Tor Bridge High School, is on a list of ten “under-used” sites earmarked for closure. Plymouth City Council leases the library from the Tor Bridge Academy Trust, but it could close to the public if the plans go through. Tor Bridge principal Liz Dunstan says she was disappointed by the announcement and contacted the council to find out more.”
  • Suffolk – Councillors urged to ‘put communities first’ and vote down library budget cuts – East Anglian Daily Times. “A thousand adults, including a 101-year-old lifelong library user, have added their names to the document ahead of the council budget being debated on Thursday, February 9. Ms Page said: “People are extraordinarily exercised about this matter. “This is a significant number of signatures, collected over eight days in a town of 7,500 voters – not including a large number of younger users. “I’ll be taking this petition to the council and quoting from the more repeatable comments. I hope councillors will put their communities first. If they don’t, their communities should think long and hard about who they elect.” Since 2012, the day-to-day running of 44 libraries has been conducted by independent provident society, Suffolk Libraries, with the county council remaining the main source of funding. Budgets have since been cut by almost a third – and Suffolk Libraries could face a further £230,000 reduction in 2017/18.”
  • Swindon – Proposal to save eight community libraries starts to take shape – Swindon Advertiser. “Expressions of interest had been received from groups considering ways to support one or two libraries but it did not appear that there was any co-ordinated plan to pool knowledge and resources. But now a proposal has been put forward by the newly formed ‘Community Library Trust’ that hopes to bring eight libraries under the same umbrella in a bid to secure their future. The trust was set up in recent months, initially to protect Covingham and then Liden library.” … “With Swindon Borough Council exploring the option of a trust model for the core five council-funded libraries, the opportunity to assist in establishing a parallel trust for the non-funded community libraries is likely to be of interest”
  • Warrington – Councillors to discuss plans for future of libraries – Warrington Guardian. “The agenda for the meeting includes plans for a working group to be set up to look at library services across the town, two experienced staff members to be appointed and a number of capital investment projects. And lending lockers will be trialled for 12 months in Fairfield and Howley and Westy, where there are currently no libraries. Options for Culcheth, Lymm, Burtonwood, Stockton Heath and Padgate libraries are still under discussion and a decision about the future of each of these sites is expected in the summer.”
  • West Berkshire – Future of West Berkshire library service to be decided tonight – Newbury Today. “The future of West Berkshire’s library service is set to be decided tonight with councillors expected to vote for a savings package which will see seven of the district’s libraries retain at least one member of staff, with volunteers expected to step in to fill the void. However, a council report suggests further cuts could take place in the future as the cash-strapped local authority struggles to reach its savings target of £690,000. The decision will be taken at a meeting of the full council tonight.” see also Decision due on future of West Berkshire libraries – ITV News. “Discussions have already been held with Parish Councils and Community groups to collectively think of ways to raise £150,000 to keep services open.”
  • Westminster – West London libraries embark on new chapters as plans revealed for new locations – Get West London. “A new Marylebone Library could be based at a Grade II listed leisure centre … Plans have been announced for a new Marylebone Library being given an permanent home in the Grade II listed Seymour Leisure Centre” ,,, “Marylebone Library is subject to consultation and planning and will replace the temporary library, currently located on Beaumont Street following the closure of original facility, at the Old Marylebone Town Hall.”