The new “Shining a light” report by Carnegie UK has just been released. As you can see, it dominated media mentions of public libraries, with much of it being positive, which is great. I wrote a blog post for Carnegie on the subject so I won’t go into detail here, other than saying I’d be delighted to hear and read your views.



  • Elder in Residence – A community figure helping public library users be more aware of a minority.

Shining a light 

Front page of the Shining a Light report

A beacon in the darkness?

  • “The Carnegie UK Trust has today published our major Shining a Light report which provides a unique insight into how people in England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales use public libraries and what they think of them. The research provides data about levels of use, frequency of library use, people’s attitude to public libraries and what people say would encourage them to make more use of public libraries. Research was conducted with over 10,000 people via omnibus polls in 2011 and 2016 for Carnegie UK Trust by Ipsos MORI. It is the only research on public libraries that enables comparisons to be drawn between the jurisdictions of the UK and Ireland and to make comparisons across this five-year period. The report consists of”:
    • which contains the lessons from the data and recommendations for policy makers, decision makers, funders and the sector
    • which gives the data and big picture ‘headline findings’ from across all jurisdictions
    • which show how England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are faring
    • An illuminating report into UK and Irish public libraries – Carnegie UK. [Written by myself – Ed.]. “First things first, so let’s just say that in these days of austerity and cynicism, it’s great to see that around half of us use libraries and a whopping three-quarters say they’re important for the community.  Let’s all bask for a moment on the report’s statement that “few other public or charitable services, if any, can demonstrate this sustained level of voluntary citizen engagement across a wide range of channels, issues and offerings over many decades.”. Ok, stop basking now, because, although that’s a real achievement, we may have a problem or two. Libraries are being hit by both deep budget cuts and sweeping technological change and so unsurprisingly the report shows what looks to me like a sharp reduction in both frequency of use and the perceived relative importance of libraries to people personally over that relatively short five-year period. Libraries are popular, yes, but at least some of that support may be residual of higher support in the past…”

CILIP welcomes the publication of ‘Shining a Light’ and we are grateful to the Carnegie UK Trust for an invaluable contribution it has made to our national debate about public libraries. The research gives us a real insight into how public libraries are both valued and used by the communities they serve. We note and celebrate the distinct nature of library provision in each of the five jurisdictions, while also acknowledging the evidence it offers about the situation UK-wide.

CILIP has long-called for an evidence-based national plan for investing in English public libraries as one of our most used, loved and trusted public services, alongside the strategies and standards already in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. ‘Shining a Light’ therefore represents a real step forward in our shared understanding. It is vital now that we come together as a sector, look at what the evidence is telling us and develop a plan of action accordingly. This research carries important insight into the real opportunities and challenges facing our sector. It is vital that we respond positively and decisively.” Nick Poole, CILIP via email.

  • Bookworm Scots top UK library league – Times. “Scots use public libraries more than anyone else in the UK, with half of the Scottish population identifying themselves as library users, according to a new study. However, as reading habits have changed, local library use has fallen north of the border just as it has elsewhere, the Carnegie UK Trust found.”
  • Calls for more to be done to future-proof library services – Yorkshire Post. “This comes after an investigation by The Yorkshire Post revealed in December that footfall at libraries in some parts of the region has nearly halved in the past decade” … “The figures, released through Freedom of Information requests, showed that in some towns and cities such as Leeds and Rotherham, footfall has fallen by about a third since 2005. And in Calderdale, the data showed visitor numbers dropped by 43 per cent. Communities in North Yorkshire, meanwhile, saw falls of less than two per cent. Visits to libraries in York, which have operated independently of the council since 2014, fell just one per cent since 2012. “
  • Carnegie UK Trust conducted a study on library users between 2011 and 2016 – Local Berkshire.
  • Library use up in Wales – Heart. “Kathryn Parry, Development Manager, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals Wales, said:  We welcome the specific focus on public libraries in Wales in the ‘Shining a Light’ report alongside the wider picture for the rest of the UK. The Welsh Government has set a specific objective to target poverty and inequality in Wales, so it is really powerful to see genuine evidence of the vital role Librarians and Library assistants play in the lives of the most deprived socio-economic groups
  • More families ‘just about managing’ turn to libraries – Herald. “More than 70 per cent of households with primary school aged children in Scotland are using public libraries, according to a new study published today by the Carnegie UK Trust which reveals trends in library use across the UK. “
  • More young people using libraries, study finds – BBC. “People aged 15-24 in England were the most likely age group to use libraries. But the data didn’t show what they were using them for – so it could be for the computers and free internet.”
  • Rise in numbers of Scots primary school children using libraries – National.
  • Scots ‘most likely’ to use public library – BBC. “Exactly half of the 1,000 Scots asked by the Carnegie UK Trust and Ipsos Mori said they had visited a library within the past year. They found that families with young children, occasional readers and those who were “just about managing” financially were most likely to visit. However, Scotland also saw the sharpest drop in library use since 2011 at 11%. The five-year UK-wide study found that more than three-quarters (77%) of people said the facilities found at public libraries were important for their communities, while 37% said they were important for them personally.”
  • Shining a Light – Initial Response – Leon’s Library Blog. “My own view is that after years of demonstrating the value of libraries it’s difficult for even the most hardened supporters of the ‘positive narrative’ approach such as the Libraries Taskforce and SCL to argue that libraries are little understood or appreciated.” … “For example the report makes clear that 72% of respondents opposed volunteers replacing paid staff (p.10). However, this runs contrary to the avowed aims of the Libraries Minister to support greater community involvement in running libraries. Not supporting libraries in complementary, value added roles, but taking on libraries and replacing paid staff.” … “There is a genuine attempt at explaining the rationale for libraries. Unfortunately, the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of libraries highlight how woolly the thinking has become in the UK.”

“it could be argued that services around literacy and learning were once the mainstay of public libraries and would have been a guiding principle behind Andrew Carnegie’s description of libraries as ‘instruments for the elevation of the masses of the people’ and it is this that the profession has been side-tracked from.”

National news

  • 64 million artists – Libraries Taskforce. Arts Council England initiative:   In the same way that libraries work to cultivate a culture of learning and doing, 64 Million Artists are working with individuals, in organisations and community settings, to create a culture of everyday creativity in which we can all actively participate. We see fantastic potential for library partnerships because of our mutual commitment to accessibility – of giving people the opportunity and tools to access knowledge, learning and ideas and a community in which to thrive.”
  • #alternativefacts? – Surveymonkey. “The terms ‘post-truth’, ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’ have become commonly used in recent months, particularly relating to politics. This survey, conducted by the School of Creative and Cultural Business at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, aims to gather opinions on the reliability of information presented as ‘facts’ by political parties in Scotland. You will be presented with five images containing various ‘facts and figures’ that have recently been posted on the social media sites of the main political parties in Scotland. You will be asked three short questions about each image.” [The survey needs 300 responses and takes just a few minutes – Ed.] see also Fake News – Take The Survey – Leon’s Library Blog.
  • Engaging Libraries unpacked – Carnegie UK. “Engaging Libraries challenges the sector to move beyond disseminating health information, to build on our assets and experiment with something new.  The programme encourages libraries to think broadly about the types of health and wellbeing themes that might be relevant to their communities, and to think creatively about how to engage people with them.”
Is it time to book?

Is it time to book?

  • Libraries Taskforce innovation fund  – Private Eye / Library News, issue 1441 page 32. Not available online.   “a miserable sop compared to what has been lost””
  • Pupils face postcode lottery as councils shut down libraries – Times (largely behind paywall). “The Times has learnt that although some councils have protected libraries in the face of budget cuts, others have reduced staff, replaced experienced librarians in secondary schools with less qualified workers or closed facilities completely …”
  • Read all about it: children and libraries the ideal mix – Scotsman. “Read Write Count is a Scottish Government-led project delivered in partnership with SLIC, Education Scotland and the Scottish Book Trust aimed at tackling educational inequalities and raising attainment in early years and beyond. Libraries have been given resources to encourage local families to be more engaged in their child’s learning and education …”
  • Visiting the Hive and exploring the Digital Outcome: 13th meeting of the Libraries Taskforce – Libraries Taskforce. “Across the other 20 libraries in the county, there were numerous different examples of collaboration and co-location with partners, which varied according to community need. Wythall library was a joint provision with the Woodrush Academy, supported by the local community and parish council. Bewdley has a new library alongside a new local medical centre; and DWP are expanding from their existing co-location with the library in Malvern to do the same in Kidderminster and Redditch.”
  • What is your investment strategy? – Libraries Taskforce.  Brian Ashley from Arts Council England: “In the past. applying for money from somewhere else tended to be the icing on the cake and was seen as a chance to experiment. We know from other countries that dynamic, responsive programmes of activity are one way to increase visitors and book borrowing. In this, as with everything else, it pays to take a strategic approach.”

International news

  • Canada – First Elder in Residence appointed to Edmonton Public Library – Edmonton Sun. “As an elder in residence, Bearhead will be expected to host programs, lead smudgings and prayers at events, support staff and meet with library patrons. His role to be defined more clearly by the needs of the community and feedback over the one-year pilot of the elder in residence program”
  • Canada – Hundreds of readers silently protest outside MLA offices against library cuts – CBC. Readers from across the province held silent protests outside the offices of MLAs to protest against $4.8 million dollars in cuts to libraries. The reduction in funding, which was announced in the 2017 provincial budget, includes a $1.3-million cut to the Saskatoon and Regina public library systems. In response, libraries across Saskatchewan have said they will no longer be able to run the “One Province, One Library Card” program that allowed regional libraries to loan books back and forth” and you can buy the protest t-shirt too. For the other side, see Education minister defends library cuts, cites declining use – CBC. “Items checked out of the libraries since ’07 has dropped by 1.6 million. Number of library cards down by 175,000,” Morgan said in question period. “
  • New Zealand – A film screening brings normality to Auckland’s homeless community – Noted. “Every Monday morning, Auckland’s central city library holds a film screening for the homeless. “It’s like being in the real world,” says Reg, one of the regular viewers.”
  • USA – Bookmobiles and Beyond: new library services on wheels serve newborns through teens – School Library Journal. “All aspects of library outreach are on the rise as part of a larger discussion on how libraries can remain relevant,” says Ann Plazek, president of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Association of Bookmobiles and Outreach (ABOS). In 2014, 690 bookmobiles were operating across the United States, according to a study from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Those numbers are higher now—and the vehicles more diverse, Plazek and others say. Bookmobile services for adults remain a staple. Outreach to young people “may take on different names, such as bookmobile, Kidmobile, Storymobile, FLAGship, ABC Express, etcetera,” notes Michael Swendrowski, ABOS board member and president of consulting firm Specialty Vehicle Services, LLC. “All continue to meet the needs of their communities by offering free access to the latest technologies and materials”
  • USA – Doing Fine(s)? | Fines & Fees – Library Journal. “A substantial majority of public libraries continue to depend on fines and fees for some portion of revenue, with 92 percent of survey respondents reporting fine collection for late returns”

“Of those libraries that do not impose overdue fines, 45 percent had done so in the past. Most eliminated fines more than two years prior to the survey. The majority were unsure as to whether this change had impacted their circulation and instead focused on improving customer relations. ­Napsha observes, “Fines and fees should not be part of a library’s revenue stream,” as they have become “a barrier to service” and to a “cordial, positive atmosphere.”

Local news by authority

  • Bracknell Forest – The Defend Our Community Services (DOCS) group are lobbying Bracknell Forest Council against possible job losses – Bracknell News. “Following months of public consultation, councillors have decided to keep open all of the borough’s nine libraries, but introduce plans for self-service technology. The Defend Our Community Services (DOCS) group had protested against emerging cuts in Bracknell’s forest library service since they were first mooted around nine months ago, with a petition gathering more than 1,000 signatures.”
  • Bury – Bury Council mismanagement to blame for libraries crisis – Bury Times / Letters. “The library fiasco is caused by years of Labour financial mismanagement and six years when they kept rates as the previous year. When they do this, one thinks they know what they are doing, and don’t need an increase. But, two years later, they hit us with the library bombshell. I think most people would have accepted a 5 per cent increase each year to avoid the current situation.”
  • Calderdale – Exhibition shows how new library and archive building for Calderdale will look – Telegraph and Argus. “A new pop-up exhibition begins later this month on plans for Calderdale’s new Central Library and Archives which is currently being built. Based in Halifax the new library building is due to open this summer and the exhibition will give visitors a chance to see how the building will look. Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for neighbourhoods and communities, Councillor Susan Press, said: “As work progresses for the new library, I know many people are eager to see what the building will look like, both inside and out.”
  • Dorset – Dorchester TIC books into its new library home – Blackmore Vale. “Dorchester library customer services manager Nicola Blair said: “We are very pleased to welcome Dorchester’s Tourist Information Centre into the town’s living and learning centre. “Relocating to the library, a place of information and learning, is a good example of councils working together to ensure the future of services for Dorset residents.” The TIC shares the same opening times as the library and the building is fully accessible.”
  • Lambeth – Carnegie Library – after the protest. Photos of the messages left outside the closed library – Brixton Buzz. “Celebrity speakers included local novelist Stella Duffy – who gave a very incisive and logically argued intro. Laura Swaffield of the libraries campaign who set out the background of the campaign over the previous year. Radio 4 celebrity Jeremy Hardy who gave a rather militant condemnation of Progress Labour’s 20 year history of capturing the Lambeth Labour party and imposing right wing policies – including privatising libraries. I think there were about 3 trade union officers – one to do with disability – he pointed out the work done with visually impaired and deaf groups in Lambeth libraries – up to now. Last and most popular was Rachel Heywood who stressed that the libraries campaign needs to be sustained…”
  • Lancashire – BLS Save Our Library – Facebook. Bolton Le Sands Library, which had a £300k refurbishment two years ago, is begging for volunteers or it will close. £5k given by parish council.
  • Lincolnshire – Celebrating successful first chapter – Spalding Today. “There were some who believed the fight to save a village’s library would come to nothing. So it was no surprise that one of the campaigners admitted she had a lump in her throat when she helped celebrate the first birthday of Donington’s library.The milestone marked the hard work of the volunteers over the past 12 months who have enabled the library to be a success.” … “Past events at the library have included a successful Harry Potter night, a beach event is planned for the summer and upcoming Easter activities”
  • Liverpool – MerseyCare Transforms Former Walton Library Into State-of-the-Art Centre for Learning & Health – Made in Liverpool TV. “MerseyCare NHS Trust have saved the historic Carnegie building at the former Walton Library and transformed it into a contemporary centre for learning, recovery, health and wellbeing. The building’s become available as part of Liverpool City Council’s reduction in library services, and with the state-of-the-art facilities in place, MerseyCare says it hopes the centre will revolutionise the way people recover from, and manage, their mental health. The Life Rooms will officially open to the public on the ninth of May with library services commencing from the sixteenth of May.”
  • Norfolk – Tax on new homes in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk to bring £1.7m boost for footpaths, football and libraries – Eastern Daily Press. “Plumstead Road Library would be one of three, along with Wroxham and Diss, to share in £120,000 to bring in self-service technology, which would mean people could use libraries outside current opening times.”
  • North Yorkshire – Authors relaunch community libraries – Press. “From last Saturday, libraries including Kirkbymoorside, Helmsley and Norton became almost fully run and funded by the community. To mark this transition, Kirkbymoorside library had an official opening on Saturday, featuring an exhibition of the history of the town by the Kirkbymoorside History Group. The event was well attended with children coming dressed as book characters, including Winnie the Witch and Benjamin Bunny.”
  • North Yorkshire – Council help at last for Hambleton’s volunteer libraries – Northern Echo. “There was a barrage of criticism after Hambleton district council said waiving the business rate charges would be “illegal” even though six other district across North Yorkshire have agreed it. Under new rules charities such as the community libraries, get an automatic 80 per cent reduction in business rates, with the final 20 per cent charge discretionary”
  • North Yorkshire – Grand Re-opening Of Scalby Library – Yorkshire Coast Radio. “It comes as the facility has now been taken over by volunteers in the community, one of 21 libraries in North Yorkshire which are to be managed in that way”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries – have we got our priorities right? – Harrogate Advertiser / Letters. “The many willing volunteers at the newly launched Starbeck Library are to be congratulated but surely I’m not alone in thinking that it is the height of hypocrisy that Andrew Jones, Conservative MP, should attend the “opening”. It is the austerity the Conservatives in Government have forced on councils which has led to this situation. Many of the libraries with professional librarians, which I and many others relied on as children, have been closed or forced to become community libraries with shorter opening hours and many librarians made redundant. “
  • Northern Ireland – Libraries NI ends access to Ancestry Library Edition – Irish Genealogy News. Due to cuts. “A Libraries NI spokesperson told Irish Genealogy News: “I can confirm that Libraries NI has taken the decision not to renew the Ancestry service from 1 April 2017 as a result of an overall review of online services. In the coming months Libraries NI will be considering the ways in which we can support customers with an interest in genealogy” … “Decisions such as these are usually taken very reluctantly by library services. And reluctant decisions can be overturned when they provoke a strong negative reaction from users. If you’re a Northern Ireland-based researcher and a regular library user, why not voice your concerns and have a moan about how it will impact you and other family historians, especially beginners? “
  • Oxfordshire – Community facilities ‘won’t cope with village expansion’ – Henley Standard. “The plan says that the library, which is currently in Castle Square, near the centre of the village, might also have to be moved. It explains: “It is unlikely that the current library site can accommodate a large increase in building size, not least over the loss of car parking which this would cause. “Such car parking is regarded by the Friends of Benson Library as important for the future of the library given that a large proportion of library customers live outside Benson village. Furthermore, it is anticipated in any event that a larger library building will be required in the village to accommodate the level of growth promoted in this plan. “One possible way forward would be to locate the library with or alongside a community facility such as a heritage or local history centre.””
  • Plymouth – Labour accused of spreading ‘political propaganda’ with library leaflets – Herald. “Cllr Neil Hendy, Labour member for Efford and Lipson, gave out pamphlets ahead of a consultation event at Efford library last month. They said: “Efford residents are angry at Tory/UKIP plans to close their library.” This was brought to the attention of the council’s chief legal officer, and a message was sent to all councillors warning about “political neutrality” while the consultation is still live.”
  • St Helens – Awards for pupils’ favourite authors – St Helens Star. St Helens Schools Library Service operates BASH – Book Awards St Helens – an annual reading-for-pleasure scheme where children and young people are encouraged to read the latest fiction. As part of this, years One, Five, Seven, Eight and Nine pupils took part in library workshops to agree on which book should be crowned number one from a shortlist of nominations in their respective age category.”
  • Suffolk – Help shape the future of Suffolk’s libraries – Bury Free Press. “The independent body that runs Suffolk’s libraries had a five year contract which it decided to renew for another five years at the end of 2016. It is now reviewing how it can run an affordable library service to meets the needs of its users so has launched a customer survey, asking people what they feel is important about the county’s library service. Suffolk Libraries says its budget has been cut by a further £200,000 for 2017/18 and year-on-year reductions means it now gets 33 per cent less than in 2010.” see also Suffolk Libraries wants your views as service faces shrinking budget – Diss Express.