Community book-exchanges in phone boxes or, in the case of Little Free Libraries, what appear to be big bird-boxes, get four mentions today.  Two are about repurposed phone boxes and the other two are from a serious study of the subject.  I tend to see Little Frees as fairly harmless myself and possibly even something to be co-opted by putting advertising in them for the local public library. That’s not the view of those writing the article and I’d recommend reading The Trouble With Twee for their alternative take.

It’s sad to see that Northern Ireland is facing further cuts to its library service, although one should point out that there are many English library services that would be envious at a mere 17% cut in the last four years. It’s also interesting to see a private donation of £15,000 made in Bury. Perhaps philanthropism may keep a few libraries open at all then, but I still have difficulty seeing it as something which will have an important influence on the sector, other than as will-o’-the-wisp austerity whip in order to beat “unimaginative” public libraries who have failed to obtain any.

Finally, the Libraries Taskforce for England is having to go into purdah until the General Election, other than for running a couple of training sessions on income-generating. So there’s going to be no blogs from that source for two months. This also serves as a reminder that the Taskforce is not, and cannot, be independent and like any such source (and I’m not immune either as PLN takes advertising – see one below, which I’ve helpfully labelled for you) note needs to be made of that. Not that I need tell many of you that, as librarians know to be aware of biases and look to the underlying facts but that’s not true of everyone. So it’s great to see that CILIP [PLN bias warning again – don’t trust anyone –  I’m ] are on the case of publicising the library role in spreading trusty information with their “Facts Matter” campaign soon to hit, hopefully, a politician near you.



National news

  • Anyone with a problem they can’t solve heads for my library – Guardian. “One of the joys of working here is that I feel as if I’m at the heart of my local area. Despite the difference in my duties – I deal with loans, returns and enquiries – it reminds me of having been a barmaid. And of my stint as a church elder. ” … “Despite not having the latest bestsellers we’re busier than ever. The services we provide may be getting pared away, but other organisations have been pruned even more severely. Citizens Advice, once around the corner, closed its doors years ago. The council’s neighbourhood office, where people could go for help, shut more recently. The police station just down the road is no longer open to the public. So anyone with a problem they can’t solve heads for the library. “
  • CILIP announces ‘Facts Matter’ campaign for 2017 General Election – CILIP. “#FactsMatter will launch on the 1st May and run concurrently with the 2017 General Election campaign. Throughout the campaign, CILIP will call on politicians and public figures to promote the need for evidence-based decision-making as a foundation of a strong, inclusive and democratic society. ” … “The campaign will enlist the support of the profession, encouraging librarians, information and knowledge managers and data professionals to share examples of how they deliver quality information and evidence to support their organisation, company or community. “

“We need every information professional to pick up the #FactsMatter message and share it with their community. From May 1st, we will be launching a campaign hub, including downloadable resources, graphics and case studies to support our key messages. We want you to use the #FactsMatter hashtag to share examples of facts that you have provided that have made a real difference to your company, community or organisation. “

  • Dataset – Call to Cilip & SCL – Leon’s Library Blog. “it’s become obvious that the Libraries Taskforce is not the vehicle for collecting and distributing data for and about public libraries. Despite the best of intentions as a body it is too susceptible to interference, including having to scale back it’s activities during the pre-election period.” … “the library profession itself needs to take responsibility for gathering and distributing data around public libraries, without reliance on politically controlled bodies, and for making such data as widely accessible as possible” … “we have both the CEO of Cilip and President of the SCL agreeing that a more accurate picture of libraries is needed”

“I ask that a wide range of individuals and interested parties with the necessary expertise and/or professional credibility to gain the confidence of the profession, public, and campaigners be involved. I urge Cilip and SCL not to rely only on the input of the same bodies that have so far failed to deliver objective and credible data”

  • Pre-election period – how we will communicate – Taskforce. “. Our work will continue through the pre-election period. We just won’t be talking about it as much in the run-up to the election”. Surveys and sessions on income generation/alternative funding will continue.
  • Talking fiction? Research reveals our reading habits and hang-ups – World Book Night. “The survey, commissioned to mark World Book Night on Sunday 23 April, suggests huge numbers of us are hankering after more reading time, but busy lives are getting in the way. Many Brits would read more if they received book recommendations from friends and family, while others will readily stretch the truth about the books they’ve read, in order to impress.”
Plus free afterword by myself....


International news

  • Canada – Library dog – CTV. Law Library allows students to take a Labrador for a walk by signing it out of the library.
  • Canada – Morgan ‘to review the library funding issue’ – Star Phoenix. Saskatchewan state government reviewing deep cuts to libraries in what was seen as an unpopular move. Critic says This was a $3.5 million consequence that was done without consultation,” …“If there is a second thought, then I am glad to hear it, but this is something that should have been done before the budget.””
  • Canada / USA – Little Free Libraries®: Interrogating the impact of the branded book exchange – Journal of Radical Librarianship. “In this article, we critique the phenomenon of Little Free Libraries® (LFL®), the non-profit organization dedicated to sharing books with one’s neighbours. Through our engagement with the discourses, narratives and geographies of the LFL® movement, we argue that the organization represents the corporatization of literary philanthropy, and is an active participant in the civic crowdfunding activities of the non-profit industrial complex” see also The Trouble With Twee Open Shelf – by one of the same authors.
  • USA – ALA is leading the charge for libraries in Washington – ALA. Organisation and librarians lobby Congress to save funding.
  • USA – Fewer Americans Are Visiting Local Libraries—and Technology Isn’t to Blame – Atlantic. “there’s empirical evidence that usage tracks investment. If libraries receive more public funds, more people use them. And if governments invest less in its libraries (as they have since 2009), fewer people visit—though the drop in visits from disinvestment isn’t as strong as the rise from investment would be. The correlation between investment and use makes sense. If libraries have more funds, they can have more staff, more classes, more copies of the latest bestseller, and—maybe most importantly—longer hours. Yet at the same time, people are so eager to use the library that they make time to visit even when hours have been shortened and collections have shrunk.”
  • USA – Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria – Atlantic. Google have digitised every book but were stopped allowing the public to use it due to copyright issues. How did it do it, why was it stopped and what has happened to it?

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Please re-open Bath Central Library exhibition room – Bath Chronicle / Letters. “Back in November 2016 staff were instructed to take no further room bookings as it was going to be used for building works in January for a temporary library ahead of library changing it’s location. In February these plans were put on in definite hold pending a second in depth consultation.”
  • Bradford – New warning issued about austerity’s likely impact on communities in the Worth Valley – Keighley News. “Burley in Wharfedale Parish Council have taken on the running of public toilets, a library and are also part way towards taking on a community hall. They have over 40 volunteers. “
  • Bury – Anonymous benefactor donates £15,000 to help keep Tottington Library open – Bury Times. “Friends of Tottington Library has received £15,000 from a donor, nearly three quarters of the total the group needs to run the library in Market Street. Bury Council will stop all funding for at least 10 and possibly 11 libraries across the borough, definitely including Tottington, from August 1 as part of its libraries review. But the group believes it is possible to keep the library open and for the building to continue to operate as a community centre, which also acts as a meeting place for more than 20 activity groups.”
  • Dorset – ‘It is just not what Dorchester is all about and it is bringing down the town’: Anti-social behaviour becoming ‘concerning and noticeable’ problem – Dorset Echo. “Since the beginning of February there have been nine reported incidents around the library on Charles Street.” … “This behaviour is intimidating for the staff and people using the venue and Dorchester neighbourhood policing team is working very closely with the library and other venues that are being impacted by these youths.””
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Crossmichael phone box takes on new life as a library – BBC. Group puts book on old telephone box, calls it a library.
  • Hertfordshire – Wheathampstead library takes great step forward – Herts Advertiser. “I am delighted with the response from the village with more than 70 people attending the meeting and more people signing up to volunteer, which makes us all optimistic about our library’s future, as it is a precious community facility.” The meeting was held in the run-up to the reopening of the library as a community-run amenity in September.”
  • Kingston – A new chapter for Tudor Drive Library – Richmond and Twickenham Times. “A new chapter for Tudor Drive Library: Housing development facilitates an extension to popular reading room. Tudor Drive Library, located to the west of Richmond Park, is set to receive a new extension this autumn with work starting on site at the end of April, thanks to support from Berkeley Homes. The extension will create a new space for the community and complement the refurbishment work already being undertaken by Kingston Council of the current building. Berkeley Homes’ funding will facilitate the addition of a purpose-built hall to the library, which is one of the Royal Borough of Kingston’s most successful reading rooms, providing a flexible community space for activities including talks on local history, reading groups and events for children and families.”
  • Northern Ireland – Union chief slams MLAs over fresh library cuts – Belfast Telegraph. “Paddy Mackel blamed the measures, which will see opening hours reduced, on the failure to restore the Assembly and said MLAs appeared to care little for the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. Libraries NI is already dealing with a £1.5m reduction of its budget in the current financial year, on top of earlier bet-tightening initiatives. The fresh round of cuts will mean fewer staff and fewer new books, even though library usage, particularly among young people, appears to be increasing” … “There have been reports that Libraries NI will spread the cuts across all its operations, meaning up to £500,000 less may be spent on books and other stock. Staffing costs could also be squeezed by £650,000.” see also Political Parties To Blame For Failure Of Libraries – 4NI. “The union has reacted angrily to the news that the baseline budget to Libraries NI will be cut by a further 5% this year, pointing the finger of blame firmly at the political parties” and Cuts to library stock and opening hours – BBC.
  • Plymouth – Library campaigners stage 14-hour reading protest in Plymouth – Plymouth Herald. “Dozens of library users took part in a 14-hour protest outside council headquarters – armed only with two chairs and a collection of books. The ‘dawn to dusk’ reading relay, opposing plans to close ten Plymouth libraries, ran from 6am to 8pm outside the Council House on Wednesday. Participants took it in turns to sit quietly and read their books for 30 minute slots.”
  • St Helens – Commissioning libraries to improve public health – NCVO. “In 2015, as part of Cultural Hubs, Public Health commissioned a 12-month pilot Arts on Prescription programme, through the Alef Trust. The programme exceeded expectations in all areas and a second programme has been commissioned.”
  • Sheffield – Saving our library was the start of a new chapter – Star. “Volunteers joined together when Frecheville library faced closure and now, thanks to their ongoing efforts, it’s a hub of community activity…” … “A Sheffield library which faced closure three years ago has a bright future, thanks to a dedicated group of passionate volunteers.” … “The group has grown to include 34 volunteers who give up their time each week.” … “Knitting groups and yoga classes take place alongside the bookshelves. Seniors meet to get to grips with computers and children build things with Lego.” … “The self-funded library relies on community donations and four annual fundraisers to keep it going – the recent Spring Fair raised £500.”. Public toilet.
  • South Tyneside – South Shields’ The Word wins four gongs at building awards – Shields Gazette. “The Word in South Shields scooped four awards at the 2017 RICS Awards, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, competing against 50 of the North East’s most impressive and community beneficial property schemes” … “Since opening in October last year, The Word, part of first phase of the £100m South Shields regeneration masterplan, has allowed South Tyneside Council to create a varied calendar of exhibitions, workshops and events with national appeal, encouraging new visitors to the town and boosting the local economy” …”We always knew that it was going to be a fantastic asset to the Borough and more than 200,000 local residents and visitors from further afield have already seen for themselves what an outstanding facility this is”
  • Warwickshire – Frankton making the most of phone box – Rugby Advertiser. Parish council puts book on old telephone box, calls it a library.
  • West Dunbartonshire – Former Ladyton Library edging towards new future as dance school – Dunbarton Reporter. “The new tenants on the site of the former Ladyton Library have revealed their plans to use the site to create a new dance school business.”