I took a couple of days off work in order to be able to attend and speak at the CILIP Conference. The stand-out moment for me was, and was always going to be, listening to the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. A truly inspirational librarian. Then there was the chance to hear about what else was going on in the country (you’d think I’d know all that, but there’s nothing better than hearing the people themselves), a chance to think deep thoughts (on future trends and on the nature of information), actually consider ethics for one of the few times in my life and, of course, meet a whole ton of people who I’d seen on the internet for years but never actually met. And, of course, it was great that the conference was in Manchester, which benefits from some beautiful libraries, and whose ten-year-plus long-term library strategy seems to be paying off. There were a few announcements, such as on ethics and the public library skills strategy that I will doubtless cover separately later.

Outside of the conference bubble, this was the week that Lancashire promised to bring back 14 libraries (albeit with 5 run by community groups). It was also the week that Shropshire announced a long-term plan that will cut its libraries fro a respectable 28 in 2015 to a handful in five years. The Conservative LGA chief also warned that there may be no libraries by 2020, which to me sounds like major scare-mongering and as an opening negotiation position but was still downright gob-smacking to see in print.


National news

  • Computers in public libraries: Local examples tell a national story – CILIP. “A new book highlighting the importance of the Peoples Network – the national network of free internet-connected computers in public libraries – will be officially launched at the CILIP conference in Manchester. Detailing the experiences of library staff and users in ten Local Authorities, Short Stories from the People’s Network demonstrates how computers in libraries continue to offer their communities a lifeline for many critical tasks that can now only be achieved with internet access.”
  • Distilling key trends to rethink libraries – CILIP. “Before asking over 100 delegates to investigate a few trends for themselves, Julian Diamond, head of information management at Arup, ran through the issues that should be considered behind a couple of the 75 key trends that Arup has identified.”. Librarians looked at key themes affecting libraries in the future: those chosen include community engagement, user-centricity, artificial intelligence. [I was there and am quoted – Ed.]
  • Library desk rentals a ‘business opportunity’ says Taskforce chief – BookSeller. “The idea of renting desks comes after libraries have been exploring ways to build local engagement and generate income streams such as partnering with JobCentres and gyms. Library executives should be proactive in identifying possible partners, Settle advised. “If you are aware of changes in other organisations, like estates contracts coming to an end, go out and talk to them. Maybe there is something we can do together,” she said.”. Elizabeth Ash said ” “Alternative revenue streams in libraries such as working with gyms, businesses or renting out desk space have nothing to do with delivering a good public library service which is supposed to be protected by statute. Co-location sold as ‘integration of services’ by the Taskforce, all too often leads to reduced staff, reduced space and reduced stock in libraries as will the introduction of the alternative revenue streams Kathy Settle suggests.””
  • No libraries or streetlights left in Britain by 2020 if austerity doesn’t stop, warns Tory local government chief – Independent. “Lord Gary Porter, chair of the Local Government Association (LGA), said local authorities must be “at the front of the queue” with easing austerity, saying that if they don’t get help, street lights, libraries and other core services will cease to be provided.” [Lord Porter wrongly implies libraries – in theory more than practice, admittedly – are not statutorily protected – Ed.]

“When asked what would happen if local councils didn’t receive help, he warned: “We won’t be cleaning the streets we won’t be cutting the grass, we won’t be putting street lights on at all, your libraries will go, your potholes won’t get filled up.  “We’ll be back to just delivering the core services we have to deliver through statute.”

  • Public Library Skills Strategy – CILIP. “The Public Library Skills Strategy is a joint initiative from The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and CILIP, the strategy has been created to support the development of the public library workforce in England, ensuring it continues to meet the changing needs of today’s audiences. This Strategy will guide and support the learning and development needs of the Public Library Workforce in England, enabling us to deliver our vision of a future for Public Libraries as Digital, Creative and Cultural Centres of Excellence.” see also SCL and CILIP set out joint public library skills strategy – Society of Chief Librarians.If public library services are to thrive in a changing world with competing needs and priorities, local libraries need clear workforce development plans so that staff can meet the needs of the communities they support. In turn, this has to be underpinned by a national framework which brings economies of scale and collective ideas and energy. Our vision is a thriving future network of innovative virtual and physical civic spaces where every community has access to a free hub of learning, creativity and engagement.””
  • Public Library Skills Strategy – Leon’s Library Blog. Concerns over placing libraries in cultural sector, definition of professionalism, volunteers. “While I broadly welcome many of the recommendations and investment in the library workforce the challenge will be reconciling the lofty ambitions of the strategy with the reality on the ground.”
  • Superstar librarian Carla Hayden speaks to her “British peeps” at CILIP Conference – CILIP. “‘Superstar Librarian’ Carla Hayden opened this year’s CILIP Conference with a keynote speech that was her call to action for librarians to put accessibility at the heart of everything they do.” … “She said the essence of librarianship is no longer about being a custodian of collections, protecting and preserving items. Instead libraries need to be accessible to all so that information can be accessible to all.” … “The current climate of ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’ meant that trust is even more valuable now and libraries and library staff need to embrace their role. ‘People are hungry for access to authoratitive sources. Librarians are the original search engines and we may not know what it is, but we know how to find it.”
An online bookclub from Axiell


International news

  • Australia – City of Sydney is axing fines for overdue library books because they don’t work – News.com.au. “The City of Sydney said a trial showed that without the threat of a fine, three times as many books were returned to their libraries.” … “The council’s library chief said people had been “afraid” to return books that were past their due date because of a fear they would be “punished” by staff. Suzanne Buljan, the City of Sydney’s Manager of Libraries and Learning, said the council was an Australian pioneer doing away with late fees. But she denied scrapping fines was rewarding bad behaviour from slack citizens.” … “The City of Sydney refused to disclose how much in back fines was being written off by the council.”

“In the eight months that we ran the trial [of no fines] we saw there was three times higher rate of overdue items being returned. People weren’t embarrassed or afraid to come in and miraculously they were found that book that was down the back of the couch.”

  • Australia – Libraries adapt to the age of free information – Eureka Street. “So what do brick and mortar libraries offer that Amazon can’t? It’s a discussion that’s been going on for a while in the UK, where public libraries are increasingly being shut down, and one we continue to have here in Australia.” … “Opinion articles that make broad statements about how ‘books are cheaper now’ don’t take into account how libraries are actually used. Libraries will always be about accessing books and information, but they are flexible entities. Libraries are as much cultural hubs as they are quiet spaces to read. What makes a library relevant today is how it continues to serve the people who enter its doors.”
  • Global – 8 innovative technologies to implement at the library of the future – Princh. Includes mobile apps, bookmark apps, augmented reality apps, self-serving printing, 3D printing, robots, book delivery drone, digital interface for printed books.
  • Iraq – Thousands of books donated to Mosul so libraries can be rebuilt – Week. “The anonymous blogger, who told BuzzFeed News he graduated from and taught at the University of Mosul, wants to fill the city’s libraries back up with books, covering all languages and topics. Volunteers have gone through the rubble of the university library, and they were able to save about 2,000 books, including some rare ones, but international help is needed.”
  • USA – Boston’s public libraries to get $102 million overhaul – Newsbry. “Nearly $102 million will be spent on library projects over the next five years as part of the city’s long-term capital plan that Boston Public Library President David Leonard called “the largest investment in libraries by the city in decades.”
  • USA – Horse-Riding Librarians Were the Great Depression’s Bookmobiles – Smithsonian. “The Pack Horse Library initiative, which sent librarians deep into Appalachia, was one of the New Deal’s most unique plans. The project, as implemented by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), distributed reading material to the people who lived in the craggy, 10,000-square-mile portion of eastern Kentucky.”
  • USA – Queering of the Public Library – Intellectual Freedom. “Dreher is full of complaints about what the public library offers to others, but mentions nothing about what it offers to people like him. The public library has much to offer religious and political conservatives: plentiful Christian-oriented fiction and non-fiction books, resources and study space for home-schooled religious children, and countless copies of the latest book by every conservative pundit imaginable. The complaint is not that services, materials, and programming for these communities are insufficient; Dreher will only be satisfied when these are denied to others. “
  • USA – Wi-Fi Lending: Balancing Supply and Demand – Public Libraries Online. “If you are thinking about developing a Wi-Fi lending program, check out the Non-Traditional Circulating Materials resources compiled by the Public Library Association. It’s a starting point and can help you to analyze the pros and cons of adding this service or to improve digital inclusion in your community.”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen- Next chapter for historic library as events held for 125th anniversary – Evening Express. “Aberdeen’s Central Library will celebrate the occasion with a range of events for all the family to enjoy.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Letter: Care of the elderly ranks above retention of Bath Library in present form – Bath Chronicle. “With heightened pressure on public expenditure and lowering visitor numbers, the traditional library system has surely passed its sell-by date. With a world of information at our fingertips – virtually anytime, anywhere – do we still need physical books anymore? Paper is a thing of the past surely. Soon Google will digitise every book ever published. So no need for libraries any more. All you will need is a screen you can hold in your hand.”
  • Bradford – Youngsters urged to get involved in summer reading challenge – Keighley News. “Last year, more than 4,200 children in the Bradford district took part in the challenge and nearly 600 joined a library especially to participate”
  • Bury – Councillors ‘delight’ as Radcliffe Library officially saved from the axe – Bury Times. “Bury Council leader and councillor for Radcliffe West Rishi Shori, said: “Despite the huge financial pressures that the council faces due to Government cuts I am delighted that we have managed to keep Radcliffe Library open for the benefit of the local community. “Although it was very disappointing that closures have had to be made at all, there will still be libraries in four of the six towns that make up the borough.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire West libraries gear up for Summer Reading Challenge – Chester Chronicle.
  • Derby – Angry reaction to Derby City Council’s plan to get volunteers to run 10 libraries – Derby Telegraph. “Councillor Alan Grimadell, who represents the Chellaston ward, added: “This is a pathetic excuse by the Labour group to abdicate responsibility for running the city libraries. “Community-run libraries without any full-time paid council official will not work. It is running a business and volunteers can’t be expected to be to provide that service. This is a short-sighted policy without any future vision – there has to be time to consider their proposals”
  • Devon – Creepy crawlies and animal agents get youngsters in the mood for a Summer Reading Challenge – Devon Live.
  • Dorset – The Archers’ Sunny Ormonde, gives her support for Weymouth Library during a theatrical talk – Dorset Echo. “Sunny Ormonde, who plays man-eater Lillian Bellamy on the popular radio 4 soap, appeared at the library to talk with fans of the programme and give them an insight into the mind of one of the soap’s most loved characters. The talk was organised by the Friends of Weymouth Library, a volunteer group dedicated to supporting the activities of Weymouth library. During the talk, Sunny explained the importance of local libraries. She said: “I have done a couple of shows for rural towns and a couple in libraries, we are trying to get libraries used. If I can help get people coming into the library then I am happy to do that.”
  • Durham – Peterlee library set to move from prime town centre site to make way for potential Tesco development – Northern Echo. “Plans are being finalised to move a community’s library from a prime town centre site to a nearby leisure centre to make way for a potential supermarket development. The proposed relocation of Peterlee Library, in the former East Durham College building on Burnhope Way, would free up land for redevelopment and see significant investment in council facilities, councillors will be told next week.” … “Cllr Laing said: “I am delighted that this proposal has come forward. If agreed, it will deliver not only a new library for Peterlee but also improvements to the town centre infrastructure and the leisure centre. It will also be great for residents to finally see the old college site cleared.””
  • Edinburgh – Now you can go to Portobello Library to borrow your DIY tools – Edinburgh Reporter. “Go to Portobello Library will now have access to a fully-equipped ‘tool box’ contributed by the Edinburgh Tool Library – the first of its kind in the UK – from which they can borrow and return a range of tools.”  … “Following the launch in Portobello Library, tool boxes will be located in Craigmillar and Piershill Libraries from August. In addition, members will have access to the Custom Lane workshop, where they can receive guidance and DIY advice from experienced volunteers”
  • Essex – More than 40,000 children to turn detective in Essex libraries’ summer reading challenge – Maldon Standard.
  • Hampshire – Plans to turn former Hamble bank into library given the go-ahead – Daily Echo. Eastleigh – “The building of the former Barclays bank is set to be demolished to build two flats and a community building which will feature a library on the ground floor” … “The plans were put forward by Eastleigh Borough Council and have now been given the green light . “
  • Lambeth – Carnegie excavation to start with GLL deal still to be finalised – Brixton Blog. “Lambeth council is about to award a £1 million-plus contract to excavate the basement of the Carnegie library in Herne Hill while agreement on the budget for the full project is “still pending”. The Carnegie and the Minet library in Myatt’s Fields have been closed since March last year. The council’s intention is to re-open the Carnegie as a healthy living centre with a gym in its basement and a “community library” run by its leisure provider GLL – now rebranded as “Better”. The cost of the excavation contract is just over £1.25 million. Another £1.5 million is required to finish the project. Local councillor Jim Dickson said earlier this year after planning permission for the conversion was approved that the cost would be “nearer £1 million than £2 million”.
  • Lancashire – Lancashire libraries could reopen after closure – BBC. “A report by the now Conservative-run authority recommends reopening 14 libraries, nine of which are due to be run by the county council and five by independent groups. The costs for 2017/18 have been provisionally estimated at £1.7m.” … “Lancashire County Council said most could reopen between autumn and next spring. In the run-up to May’s local elections, Geoff Driver, leader of the local Conservative group, pledged to reopen libraries in the county.” see also Locals welcome news over libraries – 2BR and Timetable announced for re-opening Lancashire’s closed libraries – Clitheroe Advertiser and Times.
  • Lancashire – Three West Lancashire libraries set to reopen – Visiter. “This comes after 26 of the original 73 libraries were closed under the council’s previous administration.” … “That is why we’re proposing to reopen libraries which were closed, as well as safeguarding full library services at six libraries which had been due to close or see the level of service reduced.” A significant amount of work will need to be carried out, in order to reopen the libraries which were closed.” … “However, not all libraries will be reopening, as the leases for two former buildings have been surrendered and the ownership of one building transferred to a school. In these cases, the cabinet have been asked to consider other options for providing services in the areas affected by this.” see also Austerity hit Lancaster libraries set to re-open – Visitor.
  • Lancashire – Timetable announced for re-opening Lancashire’s closed libraries – Lancashire Evening Post.
  • Monmouthshire – Provision of a design team for the Abergavenny Hub project  – Sell2Wales. “The Council has embarked on a new service delivery model for its library, one stop shops and community learning services. This has resulted in the consolidation of the three services into a shared space and the creation of a single delivery team. To date four hubs have been created utilising former library buildings in Chepstow, Caldicot, Monmouth and Usk. We have one hub left to create in the market town of Abergavenny.
  • Newcastle – A reader’s guide to Newcastle – Book and Brew. “We have a magnificent library in Newcastle and you must visit it. Please. The City Library is a glorious glass structure that towers over the city centre. It offers six floors of literary goodness that includes a gift shop, cafe and dedicated local studies section. It really is a fantastic example of what modern libraries should offer and you could easily spend a hour or two browsing through the borrowing collections. The library hosts regular events for burgeoning writers plus meet the author sessions so check its online listings for the lastest schedule”
  • Plymouth – Dates revealed for closure of six Plymouth libraries – Plymouth Herald. “Following today’s vote, Eggbuckland, Ernesettle, Laira, Tothill and Stoke libraries will be closed on September 16 of this year. West Park Library has been given an estimated closure date of June 2019 to allow time for new library is established in the St Budeaux area. Efford, Estover, North Prospect and Peverall libraries will be transformed into ‘tier two’ libraries.”
  • Shropshire – New plan unveiled for future of Shropshire libraries – Shropshire Star.eight of the county’s smaller libraries will have to find a way to survive without money from the council, a newly released draft strategy suggests, while seven more now have five years to do the same. The updated strategy has been released by Shropshire Council, outlining which town libraries will continue to receive funding and which will have to find ways to become “cost neutral” – or in other words not require any cash input from the county authority.”
  • Staffordshire – Gnosall Library project extended by three years  – Staffordshire Newsletter. “Over the past 12 months community group Glean, Gnosall Library – Education and Nurture, has been working on plans for a portable building which would extend the existing youth club, at the old St John’s Ambulance building at the back of the Grosvenor Centre. In April the £14,000 project was granted planning permission, but this limited the building’s lifespan to three years. Now the group has learned that has been extended to six. Robert Alker, chairman of Glean, said the library would be a community hub and the group would be changing its name to Glean Hub and applying for charity status.” … “The village’s previous library was based at St Lawrence School, but the building was demolished to make way for the new St Lawrence Academy.”
  • Surrey – Library Service Senior Manager, Project Innovation, Design and Delivery – Surrey Council. £38k fixed term, full time.
  • Swindon – Libraries get behind health initiative – Swindon Advertiser. “Health Information Week is running until Sunday and Swindon Libraries and Information Service is running a series of initiatives designed to improve residents’ health and wellbeing. “
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Trainee wizards mark Harry Potter anniversary at Barry library – Barry and District News. “On Monday, June 26, children were welcomed to the library by chief wizards Gillian and Danielle, before being sorted into the four school houses – Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin – by their very own sorting hat.”
  • Wakefield – Summer bid to get children to pick up books – Wakefield Express. “Wakefield MP Mary Creagh is supporting the campaign and went to the launch event in Parliament.”
  • Wandsworth – An oral history of readers’ lives in libraries – Libraries Taskforce. “Since 2014, we have been talking with members of reading groups facilitated by, and held in, libraries in the borough of Wandsworth, South London, primarily through a series of oral history interviews. We aimed to gather an in-depth understanding of the role of reading across people’s’ life spans, from early childhood to their more recent participation in the reading groups, in many cases since retirement. One of the main themes that emerged through the interviews was how important libraries are to people at crucial points in their lives.” … “All the interviewees belonged to, and very much valued, their library-based reading groups, so we were able to gather a strong sense of how libraries are also used as social spaces”

“In some cases, interviewees recall how their local library helped or even ‘saved’ them at difficult times “

  • West Sussex – Shining a light on energy saving at libraries – Littlehampton Gazette. “Under the latest phase, low-energy LED lighting has been fitted in public and back office areas at Rustington, East Preston, Horsham, Hassocks, and Storrington libraries.”
  • Wigan – Library users reassured – Wigan Today. “Wigan Council has moved to reassure residents the borough’s home library service being run by volunteers will not create a safety risk. The local authority spoke after a letter was sent to the Observer claiming there were serious safeguarding issues having people go into the homes of vulnerable people to deliver books. The anonymous writer expressed major concern as currently home library staff sometimes have access to coded boxes to get into the properties of housebound and elderly people.” … “With a requirement to find £1.4m from the library service budget we clearly needed to look at things differently and have used the principles of The Deal to help enable this. In looking at proposals to realise these savings we undertook public consultation which specifically included the move to a volunteer model for the home delivery library service. “
  • Wiltshire – Stock up on books as library shuts for two weeks during final phase of works – This is Wiltshire. “The Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street is closing as part of its transformation, with work on the refurbishment due to be complete by the end of this month. The refurbished facility will re-open and all services will be available from July 24. The council says that unfortunately it is not possible to keep the library open while the final refurbishment work takes place, which also means there will be no public access computers available.”