Some more fall-out from the release of the abbreviated mailing list, er, sorry, dataset of English public libraries today – no-one is impressed and, I mean, no-one – but also there were a couple of big protests this weekend in Lambeth and Bath. I know Bath, I worked as a library trainee there back in the 1990s. It’s not a hotbed of political discontent. To get a big protest there is going some. So, well done to Bath and North East Somerset Council, I guess,  for mishandling the situation so terribly that there was a sit-down protest involving hundreds in the town-centre there. Doing wonders for political activism there.



National news

  • Disappointment over ‘basic’ Taskforce dataset – BookSeller. “Campaigners, library bodies and the shadow culture minister have all criticised it as “disappointing”. Kathy Settle, c.e.o. of the Taskforce, has said that this dataset is merely the “first step” in creating a core dataset for libraries” … “Kevin Brennan, shadow culture minister, told The Bookseller that the data is “extremely basic” and “very disappointing”. “What we need is data that tells us what’s happening to library services in communities and whether Councils are fulfilling their statutory requirements to provide an efficient and comprehensive library service”, Brennan said. “Labour is calling on the Government to release the rest of the Libraries Taskforce data, including opening and staffing hours, as soon as possible.””
  • Hackathons: a Practical Guide – Carnegie UK Trust. “As both the public and private sector are challenged to keep up to date with the needs and wants of their user groups, there is an increased need for organisations to examine their methods for creating and delivering new products. The library service has taken this challenge head on and hosted the Future Libraries Product Forge Hackathon to re-imagine its role and functions: working in different ways in order to be sustainable and relevant. This report summarises the learnings of the Future Libraries Product Forge, examines the value of hackathons for wider public services and examines the delivery model of a hackathon as a viable approach for producing new services.”
  • Lords Debate on Local Arts and Cultural Services highlights need for coherent policy on libraries – CILIP. “In all, 13 Peers spoke to the motion, with the response provided by Lord Ashton of Hyde, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The key theme of the debate was the apparent disconnect between the practical realities ‘on the ground’ for libraries, museums and arts organisations and the rhetoric about them in Government. ” … “Several peers took up this theme, returning several times throughout the debate to the point that the Government is currently failing to address structural issues in the development of the arts and cultural services, exposed as a result of the pressures on Local Authority budgets brought about by 8 years of austerity policy”

“This recognition of the value of local museums and libraries is to be welcomed, but to be meaningful it must be accompanied by a real shift in policy to ensure that our vital public cultural services really do get the core ‘strategic and financial support that they need’.”

  • Nothing To Yell About – Leon’s Library Blog. “the dataset was lost in the void of politics, eventually being held up at Downing Street level. But after constant pressure some details were finally published a few days ago. Sadly, rather than the complete data it’s little more than a contact list for public libraries in England. In other words it’s taken 16 months to produce a piece of work that could have been done within a hour using yell.com” … “Given the professionalism of the Taskforce staff, being instructed to release such incomplete data must be both galling and embarrassing to say the least. The reputational damage to the Taskforce members and the Libraries Minister, Rob Wilson, must also not be underestimated either given their inability to control and publish data freely.”

“it’s time for the profession to take responsibility for the collection, development, and dissemination of up-to-date data, and remove the openly biased political interference from the equation.” Leon

“For all its flaws and ultimate failure in this particular task, the Taskforce have pushed libraries to publish open data, and initiated conversations about the data held by libraries.  But this is not the responsibility of the Taskforce, this is the role of everyone who works in local government.  The failure of this particular dataset is very sad 🙁 but blaming the Taskforce seems a little easy. Why did the authorities not make their library returns open when they completed them?” librarieshacked on lis-pub-libs

Win a free place to the CILIP 2017 Conference with Oxford University Press

I’ve agreed to be one of the judges for this competition so I’d better publicise it well…

“Enter the OUP competition, in partnership with CILIP, for the chance to win a special bursary place at the upcoming on 5-6 July 2017. Keynote speakers confirmed for this year are Dr Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress; and Professor Luciano Floridi, Oxford Internet Institute Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford, and Faculty Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute. One winner will receive a free place at the CILIP annual conference in Manchester in July 2017, and 3 runners up will each receive a £50 voucher for books from OUP.

To enter the competition, tell us either: How you have gone above and beyond to raise awareness of OUP’s digital resources in UK public libraries, or… Your amazing idea to help spread the word to members of the public about how these digital resources are provided by local libraries, and made freely available to library card holders.

Submit your entry by emailing it to library.marketing@oup.com, with the subject line: OUP CILIP competition entry. Your entry must be in Word or pdf format, and no more than 400 words. Only 1 entry is allowed per person, and the closing date for entries is Tuesday 18th April 2017. Good luck!

Click here for full details and terms & conditions

International news

  • Nigeria – Sustainability of public libraries – Punch. “I was alarmed to discover that we are a country with functioning public libraries. Having worked in one in the United Kingdom for some time, I understand the magnitude of resources needed to run such an establishment and I’m not convinced that this kind of service could be replicated across Nigeria. This is owing to the rise in homelessness in states like Lagos as well as the need for volunteer services in libraries which might not be readily available in certain areas. However, the 360 plus public libraries that are currently functioning across the nation serve to prove me wrong. With an average of 150,000 people making use of these facilities we see that while there is significant use, we are still a long way from making a headway in the 65 million plus illiteracy rate in the country.”
  • USA – From books to bikes: Funding cuts could hamper library operations – Canton Rep. “Under the state’s proposed 2018 fiscal year budget, which begins July 1, libraries would see a funding drop of more than $7 million when the Public Library Fund is reduced from 1.7 percent of the state’s General Revenue Fund to 1.66 percent”
  • USA – How public libraries help build healthy communities – Brookings. “A reason public libraries are seen as such important third-place institutions is that they and their librarians have gradually taken on other functions well beyond lending out books. In many communities, librarians are also ad hoc social workers and navigators. They help local people figure out the complexities of life, from navigating the health system to helping those with housing needs. This “go-to” role has influenced library programming and events, with libraries providing advice and connections to health, housing, literacy, and other areas.”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Foot the bill but don’t ask any questions – I’ve had enough of Bath & NE Somerset Council – Bath Chronicle / Letters. “We asked our B&NES Councillor for libraries, Martin Veal, a few simple questions, but he couldn’t answer. He couldn’t cite where the data on library users came from. He couldn’t speak to the size of the new library location. He couldn’t provide back up for the projected £800k savings, and never once did he mention that the move would cost almost £6million. He promised to follow up. He didn’t.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Hundreds of campaigners expected to march in Bath on April Fool’s Day in call to meet council chiefs – Bath Chronicle. “Save the Library campaigner, and one of the protest organisers, Dionne Pemberton, said: “We are marching to demand that council leaders stop evading our questions and begin providing honest answers. We want a face-to-face meeting to discuss these controversial and expensive changes that council leaders are pushing through despite huge public opposition. We believe that many of these changes won’t help our city; they will harm it. “But instead of engaging with the people who elected them, the leadership of this council tries at every turn to obfuscate and mislead… “
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Hundreds march in Bath against council cuts – BBC. “Supporters of Bath Deserves Better marched against reductions to arts funding, Bathampton Meadows park and ride and library services. The group said the cuts will “change the city” and “put at risk its World Heritage status”. The authority said “difficult decisions” need to be taken. An estimated 400 people joined the march. Organiser Dionne Pemberton said: “We want a meet face-to-face meeting to discuss controversial and expensive changes that council leaders are pushing through despite huge public opposition.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Protesters join Bath Deserves Better march to demand B&NES Council to hold public meeting – Bath Chronicle. Video of the protest.
  • Bedford – Have your say over Bedford Borough Mobile Library consultation – Bedfordshire on Sunday. “…users who rely on the mobile library service to get their literary fix could see their service slashed as part of council cost-cutting measures. Bedford Borough Council has already carried out two consultations on the future of its library service, including a controversial digital library model, and has now launched a consultation on its mobile library timetable. Residents are being asked to have their say on views on plans to ‘optimise’ routes and timetables for the mobile library.”
  • Birmingham – Royal Sutton Coldfield could split from Birmingham City Council as town council ‘explore’ options – Sutton Coldfield Observer. “In a heated debate at the town hall’s Bedford Suite, which at times resembled a tempestuous session of Prime Minister’s Question Time at Westminster, Four Oaks Cllr Simon Ward (Con) set out his party’s plan and said the city council had expressed ‘contempt’ for the Royal Town; had ‘decimated’ library services; ‘destroyed’ green belt and was now seeking to charge residents to enter ‘our own Sutton Park'”
  • Birmingham – Temporary lifeline handed to Sutton Coldfield Library by Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council – Sutton Coldfield Observer. “A stay of execution has been granted to a Sutton Coldfield community service with lifeline funding offered but there’s anger about the city’s lack of action and the town’s lack of commitment to finding a long term solution. Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council voted on Tuesday (March 28) to hand £30,000 their city counterparts to keep Sutton Coldfield Library running for the month of April, after it was due to close this Friday.”
  • Bolton – Plans for new library and health centre on site of former Tesco Metro in Little Lever are edging closer – Bolton News. “Plans for a new combined health centre and library in Little Lever have moved a step closer to fruition. Bolton Council has purchased the former Tesco Metro supermarket site in Market Street and is now working with NHS Bolton CCG, the Foundation Trust and local GP practices to develop designs for the new facility. The future use of the current library building, which was built in 1940, is yet to be decided, but it is hoped that it can be retained for community services.”
  • Essex – Silver End Library celebrates moving into new home in village hall – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Silver End Library opened in the ground floor of the village hall, after the lease ended at the original premises in Broadway. ” … “The council said it is benefitting from a more flexible space and from the partnerships that being located in the village hall, alongside the Children’s Centre and the parish council, will enable. ” … “A takeaway has been recommended for approval and could replace the old library”. Library will be open 12 hours per week.
  • Lambeth – Human chain around Carnegie Library Herne Hill – YouTube. “On 1 April 2017 (the first anniversary of the closure of Carnegie Library in Herne Hill by Lambeth ) protestors met to show once again their continued suoport for all 10 libraries in the borough. Protestors formed a human chain around the library. “
  • Lambeth – Library protesters rally against council’s ‘April fools’ – Brixton Blog. “South London celebs including authors Stella Duffy, Toby Litt and Barbara Ellis along with broadcaster Jeremy Hardy joined an April Fools’ Day protest at the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill yesterday. But the loudest applause from a rally that organisers put at 250 strong was for Lambeth council’s Coldharbour ward councillor Rachel Heywood. She is the only Labour councillor of nearly 60 on the council to have opposed the conversion of the library to a “community centre” with a gym in a newly dug basement and a library service above run by the council’s leisure provider GLL. She was suspended from the local party for her opposition.”
  • Lambeth – People’s Audit: Libraries – Defend the Ten. “Only in Lambeth, it seems, is the word ‘library’ usually followed by ‘controversy’. Ever since demonstrators occupied Herne Hill’s Carnegie Library for several days in April 2016, libraries have been a politically charged topic in the borough.”… “Where once Lambeth had 15 public libraries and comprehensive mobile and home delivery services. The mobiles have been discontinued, the home delivery service is much reduced and only six full service public libraries are left in the borough plus another two now much reduced in size and largely unstaffed. Thus each serves an average of around 39,000 residents, numbers comparable with the Victorian era.” … “Strikingly, a £1m per annum reduction from 2015-2022 would amount to some £7m in fees to be foregone by GLL – around a third of the total contract value of £20m for the 15 year leisure services contract.”

“On the eve of a protest organised to mark the first anniversary of the closure of Herne Hills Carnegie Library, The Green Party has today  called on Lambeth Council to scrap its deal with Greenwich Leisure  Limited to convert a number of libraries into ‘healthy living centres’.  The Green Party urged the council to instead back the plan put forward by Lambeth’s current head of library services, Susanna Barnes.” Green Party press release (via email)

  • Lancashire – Library campaigners backed in revival call – Blackpool Gazette. “Six months on from the library closing its doors after more than a century as part of Lancashire County Council cutbacks, Lytham folk are being urged to come up with ideas and even financial backing to ensure continued community use of the building as negotiations continue over its future between the County Council and owners Fylde Council. The campaigning group, which includes representatives of organisations such as Lytham Civic Society and Lytham Heritage Group has been encouraged by the initial reaction to its plea.”
  • North Lincolnshire – New £1.2m centre officially opens in Winterton – Scunthorpe Telegraph. “A new £1.2m purpose-built centre – containing a library, local link and gym – has officially opened in Winterton. North Lincolnshire Council’s brand new West Street centre opened to the public on Tuesday (March 28) but it was officially opened by Brigg & Goole MP Andrew Percy yesterday afternoon (Friday, March 31). The centre is located next to Winterton Rangers Football Club. To the rear of the new building, the council has also invested in providing a brand new skate park … The modern new library is almost double the size of the existing library and will be home to a children’s storywall – complete with reading nook – to engage young readers. Wi-fi will be available throughout the building”
  • North Yorkshire – More North Yorkshire libraries run by volunteers – BBC. “Volunteers have taken over the running of 21 libraries in North Yorkshire. The new libraries join nine that are already run by the public. Twelve other libraries will be run by North Yorkshire County Council, but with volunteer support. More than 1,200 new volunteers will help run the service. The council said the changes were due to reductions in government funding, with its library budget falling from £7.8m in 2010 to £4.3m in 2017/18.”
  • Plymouth – Could Lego save a Plymouth library from closure? – Plymouth Herald. Peverell. Councillor give £500 for lego. “Cllr Martin Leaves said: “By adding and encouraging new clubs and activities at the Peverell library, it will help strengthen the case to keep the library, by highlighting its importance to the community and demonstrating it as a forward-looking library under the consultation plans.”
  • Scottish Borders – Live Borders axes 12 staff to cut wage bill – Southern Reporter. “A dozen staff at Live Borders – the trust that took over the running of public libraries, museums, halls and community centres from Scottish Borders Council a year ago – are leaving it this week as it looks to cut its annual wage bill by more than £300,000. They are among 32 members of staff to apply for departure deals as part of the council’s early retirement and voluntary severance programme”. Senior librarian will leave. ” the council had agreed to reduce its current annual management fee of £6.6m – representing 60% of Live Borders’ budget – by £521,000.”
  • Somerset – Fears Shepton Mallet library move could ‘kill’ part of town despite pledge to build new facility – Somerset Live. “Despite the announcement of a new building to house the town’s library at Mendip District Council’s Shape hub, there are worries in the town about the effect of pulling a crucial service out of the High Street.” … “Despite the announcement of a new building to house the town’s library at Mendip District Council’s Shape hub, there are worries in the town about the effect of pulling a crucial service out of the High Street.” … “Rather than cramming the library into Mendip District Council’s existing buildings it does now seem a dedicated building project is the aim.”
  • West Sussex – Call for rethink on new car park charges – Shoreham Herald. Includes several library car parks: “Pay and display machines are being installed with visitors paying 75p for the first hour and £1.50 for a maximum stay of either two, three, or four hours from Monday to Saturday between 9am and 6pm.”