I’m loving the £5k prize – just for Gloucestershire libraries, sorry everyone else – for the library which best promotes reading.  That’s got to be concentrating minds in that county, although the fact that Weakest Link judge Anne Robinson is judging entries may scare one or two off. Reader development was also exercising the minds of the Society of Chief Librarians, who have produced a useful report on what is currently happening (although there’s some fairly obvious problems with its evidence base and methodology – see if you can spot them – librarians just aren’t scientists and, to be fair, the research has been done on a shoestring) and have produced some recommendations.  Sadly, none of them include in annual prize of £5k for each library service in the country but I want it to be known that if anyone does stump up that cash, I’m willing to be a judge.  Gosh, what a great way to push motivation and share best practice.



National news

  • Nielsen LibScan Public Library borrowing data for Period 1 (4 weeks ending 28 January 2017) – Nielsen. “Library loans for Period 1 of 2017 were down 15.1% year-on-year with loans totalling 4.9m. Specialist Non-Fiction has suffered the greatest decline in library loans with a drop of 17.8% year-on-year…”
  • Understanding the UK audiobook consumer 2016: latest findings released – Nielsen. “UK audiobook consumers tend to be aged between 18-44; they have children in the home and work full time. They are relatively likely to live in London, be upmarket and affluent and from Black & Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups”
  • Reader Development a High Priority for Library Services – Society of Chief Librarians. “The Society of Chief Librarians today published a review that highlights the ways that public libraries encourage and promote reading and how reader development activities could be further supported. Based on research and interviews with libraries and library staff across the country, the report identifies that the highest priority for developing reader training in libraries is outreach and work with non-readers. The report also identified a need to develop ‘soft’ skills such as having conversations about reading with the public.”. Includes various case studies.

“Reader development is a high priority for most public library services. The research has shown a wealth of established current practice, mature partnerships and examples of great expertise in reading development within the public library sector which may not be fully appreciated at local or national level. However, in parallel with this impressive track record and body of existing practice there is a lack of current training, especially external training. Less than half (45%) of all library services responding to the survey had any form of training and 77% wanted more training to be made available. There was appetite for both specialist and expert training (non-readers, outreach work) and in basic training (having conversations about reading).”

  • Reflections on the Taskforce sector forum – Libraries Task Force. “this guest post was written by Alice Corble, after she attended the Taskforce sector forum. She describes how her different roles (as ‘Librarian – demonstrating value’ in Lewisham, as well as a Sociology PhD candidate at Goldsmiths) contributed to, and framed her participation in, the event” … “While the session aimed at creating a hierarchy of importance for skills for front line teams, what was noticeably missing was representatives of front-line teams.” … “little of what we do is actually captured – it’s all about issues and visitor figures, but that’s not even half the story of what we do, is it”

“I think where there is a sort of mismatch with the Taskforce document, is to expect a transformation of attitudes and awareness, with no suggestion as to where the resources might be found to make that transformation”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet Libraries’ ‘Watergate’: another privatised cock up? – Broken Barnet. “Mrs Angry has written to the Chief Executive of the London Borough of Broken Barnet, to ask why he had wrongly claimed no legionella traces had been found in any Barnet Libraries. He has immediately replied that it was his ‘team’ – presumably his own senior officers, or Capita, or both –  who had told him that was the case” … “In a couple of weeks time, the new model Barnet library service will begin – a once magnificent, beacon status, value for money service, one of the best in the UK, now slashed to pieces, battered and bruised by your Tory councillors, and left dying on the ground. “

“Not only have we lost four professionally run branches to a bunch of amateur ventures using the idea of a library as some sort of outlet for their own purposes, the loss of staff now means much of the new library opening hours will now comprise only DIY access to unstaffed, empty rooms, watched over – when manned, by a CCTV camera – and barred to any children who may need to visit, either to borrow books, or use study space. Study space, of course, and the book stock have been ruthlessly cut, as well as staffing, and the buildings handed over to Capita to manage. “

  • Birmingham – Ghost libraries – Playing by the book. “As we continue to fight to save our local public library, which turned 80 years old last week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the lifecycle of libraries and how they change over time, and what happens when they’re gone. “. A look at several libraries which are now no longer libraries: what they look like, who is using them, if anyone.
  • Bromley – Bromley Labour leader Angela Wilkins defends Unite’s campaign to stop the privatisation of Bromley’s libraries – Bromley Times. “Bromley Labour leader Angela Wilkins has defended union Unite’s campaign to stop the privatisation of Bromley’s libraries, after it was announced that building firm Carillion have withdrawn its bid to run the libraries on behalf of the council. The announcement follows a concerted campaign by concerned residents to defend Bromley’s library service which has also seen Bromley Community Link withdraw its bid to run Bromley libraries with volunteers.”
  • Durham – Official Opening of Library – Newton News. “Aycliffe Library has started a new chapter with the official opening of its new home relocating to a bright and modern new base within the Leisure Centre on Beveridge Way” … “creation of the new library has involved refurbishing a number of shop units adjoining the leisure centre and creating a shared entrance for the library and leisure centre. Facilities include separate sections for teenagers and children, a study area and updated computer equipment. The library also offers a wide selection of current and classic titles as well as ebooks and emags and free wi-fi is available throughout the building.”
  • Gloucestershire – Former Weakest Link host, Anne Robinson, to judge £5000 library competition – Stroud News and Journal. “with the best initiative to get more people reading and using their services. So far activities have ranged from a poetry slam at Cheltenham Library, library readings by children’s authors Hannah Shaw, John Dougherty, Tom Percival and Wendy Meddour and Gloucester author Philip Barnes launching his latest book My Teacher’s a Spy with a tour of libraries”
  • Herefordshire – Dutch visitors offer inspiration for Hereford Library – Ledbury Reporter. “The talk at the Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre heard how Gouda in The Netherlands created a new venue at a former chocolate factory, which combined the city library, a restaurant, a fine printing society and the regional archive. Rob Bruijnzeels said: “If you are building something or making something you try to give the people something they never thought was possible to create something that the people in Hereford never thought was possible.” … “The library in Gouda was facing 50 percent budget cuts so the four organisations came together. They reduced the floor space of the book collection from above 80 percent to 30 percent, but added an extra shelf which was accessible via a step” [! – Ed.]
  • Lancashire – County council has buyer for Fulwood Library – Longridge News and Advertiser. “Lancashire County Council has agreed terms for the sale of Fulwood Library and is negotiating to transfer the Museum of Lancashire (MoL), despite local campaigns to save services.” … “In a series of behind closed doors decisions Council deputy leader Coun David Borrow also approved the acceptance of a revised offer on three prime city office properties – Winckley House, 58-60 Guildhall Street and Guild House in Preston, plus the sale of the former Barrowford library.”
  • Lancashire – ‘The hard work starts now for us’ – community stalwarts save two Burnley venues threatened with closure – Lancashire Telegraph. “County council bosses have announced that the former Pike Hill library, in Langwyth Road, is set to be transferred to the Veterans Association UK (VAUK).”
  • Liverpool – Liverpool libraries saved after budget boost – for now – Guardian. “Public libraries in Liverpool have been saved from closure after the government promised £27m for adult social care in the city – however, the city’s mayor has warned that the decision is a stay of execution, rather than a permanent reprieve for the beleaguered library service.”
  • Manchester – Get Data Smart: CryptoParty Manchester – Eventrbrite. “You seal your letters but send your emails unencrypted? Do you want to protect your privacy online but don’t know how to do it? Come to CryptoParty Manchester to learn how to protect your communications and content over the Internet. CryptoParty is free, public and fun. Everyone can learn – the only thing you need is a laptop or smartphone! CryptoParty Manchester is organised by Manchester Libraries and Open Rights Group Manchester.”
  • Plymouth – Prizes on offer at second ‘mass read-in’ to save Plymouth library – Plymouth Herald. “Library campaigners are planning to stage a second ‘mass read-in’ to show how many people oppose a controversial closure plan. Earlier this month more than 220 people gathered at Peverell library, one of ten earmarked to shut, in an attempt to persuade the council to reconsider. Now a ‘mass read, write and craft in’ event is planned at Stoke library on Saturday from 10.30am to 12.30pm.”

  • Renfrewshire – Funding boost means green light for £5m High Street library – Gazette. “Work to build a new £5m library in an empty unit on Paisley’s High Street will start this year – in the latest stage of the push to use culture to breathe new life into Paisley’s High Street”
  • Scottish Borders – Newspaper move not a matter for council, says leader – Border Telegraph. “Mr Parker told us: “Live Borders is an arm’s length organisation from SBC with its own board of trustees which is responsible for making decisions on how best to run leisure, sport and cultural services in the Borders. “The withdrawal of national newspapers is entirely a matter for the trustees to determine.  “Councillors can, of course, make representations to Live Borders, but ultimately the trust is responsible for the decisions it takes.””
  • Sefton – Liverpool libraries: past, present, future – Merseyside Civic Society Blog. A look at the Carnegie Library. “The building will be renovated to include a community resource room. Crosby’s historic Carnegie Library is set for a new future as a community resource for local people. Following an open tender process Sefton Council has awarded a 21-year lease on the Grade II listed building to Bootle-based regeneration specialists Regenerus, the organisation responsible for bringing Antony Gormley’s Iron Men to the town.”
  • Suffolk – Framlingham Town Council set for new chapter – at library in Old Court House – East Anglian Daily Times. “Framlingham Town Council’s offices will be relocated to the library in Old Court House, Bridge Street, over Easter weekend. Both organisations claim the move will be beneficial – bringing extra income for the library service while reducing office costs for the council. It will also mean services for local people are provided from one location and will bring extra visitors to the library” … “The new office space will be created with no reduction in books or public computers. The library will remain open during the work, which is intended to be carried out with minimum disruption.”
  • Walsall – Walsall libraries closure: Nine sites to close despite last-ditch campaign – Express and Star. “Two Walsall Council scrutiny groups called on authority bosses to impose a 12-month stay of execution for axed-threatened libraries in Beechdale, Blakenall, New Invention, Pelsall, Pleck, Pheasey, Rushall, South Walsall and Walsall Wood. A report said: “The cessation of a library service from 30th June 2017 will adversely affect the health and wellbeing of Walsall residents.”
  • West Berkshire – There’s still time to help save Thatcham Library – Newbury Today. “More than 60 people have signed up to help keep the town’s library open since it was named among eight threatened with closure by West Berkshire Council last year. The district council will close Wash Common Library and all libraries except Newbury will be run by volunteers, supported by one member of staff. The council has also asked town and parish councils to pay £150,000 to keep the service going and Thatcham Town Council has agreed to contribute £24,480.”
  • Wokingham – Wokingham library to close for a week but Woodley to reopen soon – Get Reading. “Self-service starts in Wokingham libraries from next month allowing readers to check books in and out themselves”