A few threads today. We have both viewpoints on volunteer libraries from Sheffield, where there is both a glowing report on how the community is rallying around and a damning letter pointing out the cut to paid staffing is less than half the continued subsidy to the volunteers. There is also mention – the first I’ve spotted from the UK – in the same angry letter of a council library changing from being dewey to being categorised. From Sunderland, we have confirmation that the branches earmarked previously for volunteers will be going that way soon, leaving only 3 out of 11 with “professional” (I suspect this largely just means “paid”) staff. Then in Warrington we have the first inkling of what the libraries “saved” after protests last year will look like. From across the water, we also have one of the chiefs of the Little Free Library movement defending his corner. It turns out that they’re not fat-cat bourgeois conspirators bent on destroying libraries after all. So, that’s at least one less thing to worry about. Finally, news from Perth and Kinross that the “Every Child A Library Member” campaign has, unsurprising, led to a whole lot of new child members and, presumably, an increase in usage. However, like so much else in libraries, there’s no real statistical evidence to show the impact of the campaign on kids reading more. Yet.

Did I say finally? Not quite yet. As the real corker for me is the Australian public library that is now at the cutting edge of library provision by allowing its members 24/7 access 365 days per year. How is it doing this? By giving them keys. In your face, staffless technology solutions.



National news

  • £2.7m for libraries, museums and archives in Wales – Welsh Government. “The new Transformation Fund builds on the success of the Community Learning Libraries Programme for libraries, extending it to museums and archives for the first time. This capital funding will see a number of libraries and museums transform their services to significantly improve the visitor experience, offer new services and develop their sustainability and resilience”
  • How real books have trumped ebooks – Guardian. “after reaching a peak in 2014, sales of e-readers and ebooks have slowed and hardback sales have surged. The latest figures from the Publishing Association showed ebook sales falling 17% in 2016, with an 8% rise in their physical counterparts. Daunt:  “A very large part of the way I sell books has been about how you present them, how you bring the customer to them and exploit the tactile sense of a physical book. We’ve changed the furniture at Waterstones to make that happen. We have smaller tables with more focused displays. Everything is aimed at persuading people to pick things up, trying to catch their eye, making bookshops a place where you discover beautiful things.”
  • Kate Pitman: Case Study – Idea Store: a successful and sustainable model  – Axiell User Conference. Clear explanation of how Tower Hamlets libraries have moved from 0.5 million visits to around 2 million visits per year. See also Idea Stores: what the ideas are and why they’re important – Public Libraries News.
  • Nick Poole, CILIP: Strategies for success – developing sustainable libraries – Axiell User Conference. “… some recommendations on how libraries can implement a more sustainable strategy…. it starts with the user”
Plus free afterword by myself....


International news

  • Australia – Tiny town of Tullamore experiments with 24-hour library – ABC News. Library users given a key to the library.
  • Canada – After Toronto librarian takes aim at Little Free Libraries, its co-founder pushes back – CBC. “we have an impact fund where people apply every month — hundreds of people, thousands sometimes — and we give out Little Free Libraries to high-needs neighbourhoods as much as we can. We encourage people not only to support their community as much as they can and put them in high-needs neighbourhoods, but also support our impact fund. We strive to give in more and more diverse neighbourhoods, everywhere.” … “We’re a non-profit, right. What we do with our money is that we put all the money that’s left over after expenses into programming, trying to expand. We’re 14 people in Hudson, Wisconsin that have made a pretty solid, positive impact around the world by getting book exchanges throughout there. “

“We support libraries probably as much, if not more, than anybody else. We’re partners with the Library of Congress. We’ve won the American Library Association’s Movers & Shakers award. We see ourselves as like a branch of a branch that celebrates libraries and celebrates communities. As far as we’re concerned, libraries are the great last bastion of community and community coming together. Anything we can do to encourage the public libraries … is big for us. And if anybody ever used the little teeny library with 20 or 30 books in it to compare us to the big library and say that they shouldn’t have that, that seems absurd.”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Library move is ‘an expensive job creation scheme for builders and office removal firms’ – Bath Chronicle. “the Council’s foolish and damaging scheme for the library involves spending a whopping £4.4 million on converting the existing excellent facilities in the Podium to offices, while converting existing offices to a library in a much less suitable location. What could be more wasteful of scarce resources? As the highly experienced architect Paul Stansall said at the council meeting in February, the scheme “is courting fiscal failure. It is ill prepared. It will overrun its budgeted spend of £4.4m, will not deliver the promised saving of £800k/year and will fail Bath library users … “It will be an expensive job creation scheme for builders, cable installers and office removal firms with library users and taxpayers being the big losers.””
  • Derby – Closure of Spondon Library would be the ‘death of village’, residents warn – Derby Telegraph. “Almost 100 people turned up to discuss the future of the library – one of 11 currently under a cost-cutting review by Derby City Council – at an emergency neighbourhood forum on Wednesday evening.” … “The library is the social hub of this community. It brings people to the centre of Spondon and while they’re here they do some shopping or buy some food.”
  • Devon – Library says fond farewell to Sarah – View News. “Popular Axminster Library supervisor Dr Sarah Jones has left her post” … “We as a family have experienced this for ourselves and I’m worried that with her leaving and Libraries Unlimited pushing for self service machines and volunteers that in the future there will no longer be the professional librarian’s care that we’ve enjoyed.””. Sarah says “But I am totally exhausted and I felt the only way I could get some rest was to resign”
  • Lancashire – Community deal to make libraries safer – Blackpool Gazette. “A councillor who campaigned to save two libraries from closure is hoping community groups will continue with plans to take control of the properties. Conservatives took control at County Hall last week vowing to reverse the previous Labour administration’s library closure plans.”
  • Lancashire – Community rallies to reopen town library closed by cuts – Lancashire Telegraph. “Cash-strapped council bosses closed the town’s former civic hall library last year but volunteers from Mercer House refused to accept the closure and sought to open an independently-run centre. Yesterday volunteers celebrated the opening of the town’s new library at the Arthur Wilson Centre.”
  • Lancashire – Hyndburn Labour library rebel causes Lancashire Tory trouble – Lancashire Telegraph. “[Labour MP] Graham Jones’ welcome for the new county council leadership’s promise to re-open libraries across Lancashire closed by their Labour predecessors surprised many. New Tory leader Geoff Driver couldn’t resist accusing the Labour politician of a belated u-turn. However, as often in politics, not all is at it seems. As MP for Hyndburn, Mr Jones broke ranks from his county colleagues and fought tooth and nail to save not just the libraries in Oswaldtwistle, Clayton-le-Moors and Great Harwood as well as Helmshore Textile Museum but similar cultural hubs across the county”
  • Lancashire – Joy as library stays open – Blackpool Gazette. “After their election success last week, Tory group leader Coun Geoff Driver pledged everything possible would be done to ensure all the libraries closed across the county could reopen. The Friends of Ansdell Library have now had confirmation from Coun Driver that the facility will remain open, despite having previously been earmarked for closure. Friends chairman Louise McLaren said: “Very appropriately, we received the good news during a poetry evening, one of the Friends’ regular events. The confirmation that the library was staying open was the final, and most popular, reading of the evening”.
  • Lancashire – New community library opens in Clayton-le-Moors – Accrington Observer. “Clayton-le-Moors’ new community library, based out of the Arthur Wilson Centre, has been launched by volunteers and follows the closure of the former library at the Civic Hall last year.” … “Staff and volunteers at the Mercer House 1842 social enterprise group have been working for months to transform part of the centre into a community library which contains 800 books and several computers.”
  • Manchester – Nick Sharratt exhibition opens in Manchester as part of #ReadMCR – National Literacy Trust. “Children and families in Manchester will have the chance to explore the iconic world of award-winning illustrator and Read Manchester campaign ambassador Nick Sharratt as his touring exhibition comes to the city. ‘Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants – The Illustrated World of Nick Sharratt’, opened at Manchester Central Library on 6 May and runs until 1 July.  The colourful, interactive exhibition features many of his best-loved characters including Tracy Beaker, Hetty Feather and Pirate Pete. Nick Sharratt came along to the exhibition launch, meeting local families and signing copies of his popular books.”
  • Perth and Kinross – Libraries and museums experience upsurge in visitor numbers – Courier. “Museum and library services have all seen a “dramatic increase” in visitors, according to the charitable trust Culture Perth and Kinross. It is reporting a 10% increase in visitors to the its museums and a huge increase in the number of child library members. The region’s principal library, AK Bell in Perth, saw a 5% rise in footfall, which was its first increase in five years.” … “Libraries have also benefited from the efforts of Culture Perth and Kinross, with a 9% increase in visitors to libraries in Pitlochry and Comrie. The future of libraries across the region could also be in good hands, with a reported 65% rise in the number of child library members”
  • Plymouth – Almost 60 per cent disagree with Plymouth library closure plan – Herald. “Almost 60 per cent of people who took part in a consultation exercise said they “disagree or strongly disagree” with plans to close ten Plymouth libraries. More than 3,700 people completed questionnaires on the proposals, and the council received 183 letters along with dozens of e-mails and online comments.” … “More than half of people completing the questionnaire were aged 35 to 65, with the total made up of 62 per cent women and 38 per cent men.” … “More than 200 people said they would be interested in helping to volunteer in a library, but no community groups came forward with an offer to take them over.”
  • Renfrewshire – Get giggling with Bookbug Week 2017 at Paisley Central Library – Renfrewshire 24. “To celebrate Bookbug Week, Paisley Central Library is holding their very first Bookbug Gigglethon; a non-stop Bookbug session on Monday 15 May, starting at 9.30am and finishing at 4.30pm. Families can come along at any time during the day to experience some fun songs, rhymes, and stories.”
  • Sheffield – Focus on Greenhill: Community’s spirit pays real dividends – Star. Greenhill volunteer library: “The prospect of it falling by the wayside wasn’t an option. After gathering a small team they posted letters through hundreds of doors asking for help to keep the library going.” … “I’d expected 40 or 50 at most but we had around 150 get in touch and we whittled it down to around a 100 or so after interviews in groups of 10.“People coming out to help say there are a lot of folk who value the library and see this as a way of contributing to the community” … “The library also hosts a raft of activities, clubs and societies with around 5,500 people a month passing through the doors. “

“For me that’s what we are, a community centre and a village hall, a central spot for people – not just a place where we lend books.”

  •  Sheffield – Library policy that’s a real-life work of satire – Yorkshire Post / Letters. “Sheffield Council continues its destruction of the city’s once great library service with the dumbing down of the Reference Library at Sheffield Central Library, with the Dewey System used by libraries all over the world replaced with category order, making it harder to find books. ” … “The council also made an additional cut of £98,000 from the staffing budget this year. To put this in context, the volunteer libraries will get additional funding worth over £200,000 per year after the council’s original plan of having them become self-funding failed miserably”
  • South Tyneside – Council chiefs look for community take over of libraries as part of planned service shake-up – Shields Gazette. “South Tyneside Council wants people to come forward and take over the running of the four branch libraries on a voluntary basis at Whitburn; East Boldon; Boldon Lane and Primrose.”
  • South Tyneside – Four libraries in South Tyneside under threat – BookSeller. “After having had its budget almost halved South Tyneside Council is encouraging volunteers to come forward to run branches in Whitburn, East Boldon, Boldon Lane and Primrose”
  • South Tyneside – What do you think of the library plans for South Tyneside? – Shields Gazette. “Residents and councillors have given a mixed reaction to council bosses looking for community groups to take over some of the borough’s libraries”
  • Staffordshire – Walsall woman stole around 300 library books for ‘form of escapism’ – Express and Star. “Bespectacled thief Tracy Whittaker, from Great Wyrley, borrowed the books, worth in excess of £2,000, from various Staffordshire libraries between January 2012 and April 2017. The 38-year-old, from Johns Lane, would remove the security tags and then go back to the libraries and scan them in to make it look they had been returned, Cannock Magistrates Court was told. But there was no happy ending as ‘piles’ of books were recovered from her house.”
  • Sunderland – City bosses say libraries are set for ‘new lease of life’ with hand over to communities – Sunderland Echo. “Eight libraries are to become community venues when they are passed on by the council to be run by groups. Negotiations with community teams interested in taking over the running of the library buildings are now in their final stages, with the new arrangements due to be announced over the next few weeks. Current provision at Bunnyhill, Fulwell, Ryhope, Sandhill, Kayll Road, Hetton and Washington Millennium Centre comes to an end tomorrow pending the buildings’ reopening as community venues. Sunderland City Council has said provision at Shiney Row will continue until mid-June.”
  • Sunderland – New Chapter for Library Services – NE Connected. “New lease of life” passing public libraries to community groups/volunteers. “Negotiations with community groups interested in taking over the running of the library buildings are now in their final stages, with the new arrangements due to be announced over the next few week”
  • Warrington – Libraries and leisure services to team up in plans for Great Sankey hub – Warrington Guardian. “Great Sankey hub will have the first ‘truly integrated’ library in the country, according to LiveWire and the council. Members of the libraries working group looked at plans to develop a sustainable service across the town by encouraging leisure centre customers who do not usually read to browse the shelves. Plans include putting self-help books near healthcare rooms and diet and exercise books near the fitness studios. At Great Sankey the library will offer around 4,000 books and will be built close to the hub cafe, with space for a range of reading activities.”
  • Warrington – Still annoyed at library plans – Guardian Series. “I contacted Mr Mowat [Tory MP] and got a very long written reply basically supporting LiveWire’s cuts and praising the innovative way they planned to leave major parts of the town with a derisory library service”