Welcome to John Glen MP, who takes over the libraries brief in a more traditional portfolio than his predecessor including arts, culture, heritage, museums and tourism. It’s always interesting to see where libraries are put as it gives an idea of where our place is seen. Arts are brilliant as is everything else on the list – but one can’t help but think libraries are the odd one out. We could fit just as easily in Education.

Also, have a look at the quote by Nick Poole on the need for more action in the sector too. And does anyone know of a library authority that makes more than 10% of its budget on income (and I don’t mean fines)?


National news

    • Campaigners react after libraries minister loses seat – BookSeller. “During his time as libraries minister, the Department of Culture made two interventions into libraries closures in Lancashire and Swindon, which were welcomed by library campaigners. He also delivered the Libraries Ambition report, which offered a £4m dedicated fund to help boost the sector, but was accused by campaigners as “ignoring the real issues” of library closures across England.”: views of myself, Nick Poole of CILIP, Alan Gibbons and Tim Coates given.
    • Income generation for public libraries – Libraries Taskforce. Lessons learnt from various “masterclasses”: information on commissioning (but be honest about what resources you have), being commissioned (e.g. St Helens), entrepreneurship, working with volunteers to generate income (e.g. for Fablabs), bookshop, financing alternative library provision, how to ask for money / grants.

“I would be interested to see data on any local libraries that have succeeded in generating more than 10% of costs from income generation.  Well, if the problem is money, influence & leadership, I think everyone on TF holds part of the solution. Challenge is putting them together. We have to avoid the rhetoric that there’s no money to make up the funding gap for libraries. There is & structural issues *can* be overcome. We need a new ‘funding formula’ for libraries which addresses structural inequalities & gaps, not simply changing governance. New Parliament is an opportunity to focus on one central issue – money. Current model isn’t working but can absolutely be fixed.

This isn’t a question of whether libraries are valid or needed. It’s a financing issue. If Govt doesn’t want to use redistributive taxation, local taxation can’t pick up the bill on an equitable basis and income generation is unrealistic, that leaves a funding gap. that needs to be addressed between the parties. We need a formula which sets relative proportions of national/local/self-generated income and ensures that these proportions are realistic and sustainable. Simply cutting & divesting responsibility is not an option ” Nick Poole of CILIP via Twitter (Tweets combined)

“Desmond Clarke’s passing feels like the end of an era coming as sad and deflating news. Desmond was the most feisty of advocates for public libraries. His varied career and many accomplishments mark him out anyway as a person of principle, imagination and intellect, an unusual mix in our community. Even so he came across to me as, first, a bookman whose professional home in that most renowned of publishing houses Faber (alongside the redoubtable Matthew Evans) had placed him among to the very best of literary creativity.

My encounters with Desmond began during my time in Birmingham and my membership of the Society of Chief Librarians. It continued and grew into an almost weekly experience when I was at the MLA. It goes almost without saying that he was a passionate campaigner but although we came from different camps to the debate the nature, state and future of public libraries, discussion with Desmond was always constructive. More importantly he understood and articulated more than most the wider role of the public library, beyond the function of book lending, as a place for learning, information and a diversity of cultural experiences that offered an inclusive community forum for all kinds of people.

Unfortunately, our encounters in the mid-2000s coincided with the (Labour) Government’s emerging policy, devised alongside the priorities of the LGA, of “reducing the burdens on local government” which meant the dilution of standards, the removal of the requirement for annual library plans from each library authority and the emergence of ‘Participation’ as a performance measure but without due recognition of the significance of “place” and the growing potential of digital engagement. These and other trends began what was succeeded by (Conservative) policies of austerity and the ideological downsizing of the public sector which we have had to cope with more recently.

In spite of this hostile environment Desmond never gave up and continued to argue the case for public libraries until recently when it must have encountered what became his fatal illness. Desmond was always fascinating to talk with; he was forceful but never rude; he endeavoured to see your point of view but was persistent in his own; so much so that an unexpected phone call could take a huge chunk out of the working day but fill it nonetheless with the vigour and interest that represented his total commitment to the public library.” Desmond Clarke by John Dolan OBE (via email).

An online bookclub from Axiell


International news

      • Australia – Libraries and Entrepreneurs: Let Me Introduce You – Medium / Jane Cowell. Curate a collection; develop workshop program; Young Entrepreneur holiday programme, entrepreneur-in-residence, “Entrepreneurs need to be introduced to the Library — our spaces, our resources and also our staff. Set up your networking event today and remember library services to businesses have been highlighted as essential since 1936”
      • Iraq – Mosul’s Library Without Books – New Yorker. “Six hundred thousand books were in Arabic; many of the rest were in English. During the thirty-two months that the Islamic State ruled the city, the university campus, on tree-lined grounds near the Tigris River, was gradually closed down and then torched. Quite intentionally, the library was hardest hit. ISIS sought to kill the ideas within its walls—or at least the access to them.”
      • South Korea – Check out this incredible giant library that just opened in Seoul – Lonely Planet. Commercial company opens library (no library staff) in shopping centre in order to attract customers.
      • USA – ‘Are you a boy or a girl’? Drag Queen Story Hour riles the right, but delights kids – Guardian. ““Are you a boy or a girl?” he asked the 6ft 2in story reader, who was wearing a maroon satin gown, a hot pink frock, silver high-heeled pumps and false eyelashes. The drag queen, who goes by the name Honey Mahogany, leaned her delicately-braided blond wig towards him and paused for effect. “Well, I guess I was born a boy,” she replied. “But I like to dress like a girl. It’s for fun.” For the 175 or so children and parents who turned out for the event last weekend at San Francisco’s main library, the program – which also runs regularly at libraries in New York City and sporadically in bookstores and classrooms around the country – offers a mix of gay pride and kid-friendly entertainment.”. Far Rightwing [inc. Breitbart and the amazingly named “Rapture Forum] are not amused.
      • USA – What We Know About The Virginia Shooting Suspect – NPR. “We also spoke to a librarian in Alexandria who says Hodgkinson was a regular there, coming in to look at reading materials, much of them having to do with politics.” [Some US librarians are angry that a librarian would give out these private details – Ed.]

Local news by authority

      • Bristol – Seventeen libraries in Bristol threatened with closure – BookSeller. “”We’re not in the situation we would have chosen and we’re in agonies about passing budgets that will affect people”, Rees said. “We are remaining committed to the visions we have for our city, but we are having to deal with the austerity that has been passed down to us. We’re working within the confines of a smaller budget, but we want to give the city a financially competent local authority.””
      • Bromley – Unite the Union response to consultation on the commissioning of Bromley Library Service – Unite. “We aim to show throughout this report that the safest and best place for a library service is to remain within the public sector. Our stance is not limited to protecting jobs, pay and conditions. These are, of course, central to our aims as a trade union. However, this goes hand in hand with our strong commitment to defend public services. Not only do our members work in public services – they also use and rely on them. Therefore, we have an interest in making sure that public services have a long term future. “

“… when asked about a trust or Charitable provider running the library service, only 10 per centstrongly supported the idea. It is worth noting that only 3 per cent strongly supported the idea of a private sector or commercial provider.”

    • Buckinghamshire – Face of the Council, Heart of the Community – Libraries Taskforce. “On 30 March 2017, Buckinghamshire Libraries and partner organisations came together for a conference to reflect on what the future held in store for us. With 160 people in attendance and speakers from all corners of the county, it was a chance to celebrate the many successes we had achieved together and keep up to date with important changes that would affect us all.”… “The task of saving approximately £611,000 around April 2019/20 can seem daunting but, as David said, we will need to “grow, develop and innovate our way out of this challenge.” “
    • Cheshire West and Chester – How two theatres, a cinema and a library became Chester’s Storyhouse – Stage. “Storyhouse chief executive Andrew Bentley offers a slightly different description. He says: “I prefer to think of it as a large retail operation. “I think at the moment, we’re partly an attraction. Three thousand people a day are coming through the doors and 85% are coming for a cup of coffee and a look around. “One of the tremendous things is having a library in the building, and not just in one bit but throughout the space. There’s a reason to go in there all day long.” The library is open when the building is – from 8am when the cafe opens to 11pm when the theatre closes.”
    • Derby – Job Centre Plus and library set to be part of new-look Derby City Council House – Derby Telegraph. “the report going to the cabinet meeting also states that the new Council House ground-floor space could be used to house a library – needed if proposals to close the existing Central Library in The Wardwick go ahead and the clearest sign yet that this might happen. It had been expected that a long-awaited report on a consultation about the future of the city’s libraries would come to cabinet next week but this has been delayed. A council spokesman said: “We are continuing to prepare a robust and thorough report that will recommend a model for a strong library service offer for the future. It’s important we take the time to ensure we deliver the best possible outcome for Derby residents and a report will be submitted to a future cabinet meeting.”
    • Devon – Jobs under threat at Barnstaple Library due to ‘restructure’ – North Devon Gazette. “Staff were told about the consultation in a meeting with Libraries Unlimited, who run the library service, this morning (Wednesday). A spokesperson for Libraries Unlimited said: “We can confirm that on June 12 we launched a four week consultation with staff and trade unions regarding a restructure at Barnstaple Library. “During the consultation we will talk to and engage with staff as much as possible to ensure that all feedback is taken into consideration before any decisions are made.”
    • Fife – Leading tenants’ group brand new library hub a “disgrace” – Fife Today. “Ian Robertson, chairman of Glenrothes Area Residents’ Federation has condemned the proposed library hub facility at Rothes Halls, which Fife Cultural Trust and Fife Council said would compensate for the closure of four libraries in the Glenrothes area, as “a disgrace”.
    • Plymouth – Saved: Four Plymouth libraries escape closure – Herald. “Peverell, Efford, Estover and North Prospect libraries, originally earmarked for the axe, will be spared following a public consultation.” … “Eggbuckland, Ernesettle, Laira, Stoke, Tothill and West Park are still expected close in September, subject to a final vote in the council chamber next month. Instead library services will be provided at six ‘outreach centres’ based in care homes, churches and community hubs.”
    • South Gloucestershire – Volunteers required to help keep Chipping Sodbury Library open – Gazette. “The facility was earmarked for closure last year due to South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) plans to save money. But thanks to the efforts of local campaigners, the facility can stay open on the condition that it is run by members of the community. Friends of Chipping Sodbury Library are now looking for around 40 people to work shifts at the facility on a regular basis, and will be manning a stall at the festival on Saturday in a bid to attract volunteers”
    • Staffordshire – Stafford’s Rising Brook Library celebrates new status as it marks 60th anniversary – Staffordshire Newsletter. “The site is no longer operated by Staffordshire County Council, which relinquished its management as part of service cut-backs. Those interested in taking on the service were invited to apply to the council. The site is now leased from the county for a peppercorn rent and volunteers operate it with advice from county library staff. There is a 30-strong team of helpers from all walks of life.” … “Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for libraries, added: “Rising Brook Baptist Church submitted an excellent application which was not only full of enthusiasm for involving the local community but clearly demonstrated the skill and ability to run it on a day to day basis.”
    • Tameside – Branch Librarian – Greater Jobs. “We are seeking to appoint a qualified librarian ideally with previous experience in a public library service.  This wide ranging, diverse role will offer the right candidate an opportunity to play an important part in tailoring the service to address local, Greater Manchester and national priorities…”
    • Wakefield – Council committed to providing library service in Ossett – Wakefield Express. “In response to last week’s letter regarding Ossett library, I would like to reassure those that use the library that we remain fully committed to providing a quality service in the area. Work is still being carried out to identify the impact of the asbestos on the refurbishment. Once this is complete we will be able to share information on what will happen next.”
    • Wirral – Updated: Consultants re-open toxic issue of closing libraries in Wirral – Wirral Globe. “The document produced by consultants “Shared Intelligence” – who were commissioned by the council to review the borough’s library service – controversially recommends the closure of ten libraries. The last time the council attempted such a move it sparked a public outcry resulting in a humiliating climb-down when a Government minister stepped in demanding a U-turn.”
    • Wirral – Could ten libraries be closed in Wirral as council tries to save cash? – Liverpool Echo. “Up to ten libraries in Wirral could be closed to save money – a previously unseen report on the future of the service suggests. A study of the borough’s libraries said Wirral Council could cut running costs by 20% – but it would mean fewer libraries and an increased need for volunteers and Friends group to become the “main public face” of the service. It suggested a model which would keep 14-16 libraries out of the current 24.”