I was interested to read about a charity that is delivering books to children, fulfilling a niche vacated by closing or closed public libraries in that area. The irony of it is that the charity. if I’m reading the figure right, are doing the same job at a far higher cost than the public library was able to achieve before. This ties in with an article in LocalGov that asks if cutting public services is a false economy. Certianly, the research I’ve on the subject concentrating on public libraries seems to conclusively show it is. David McMenemy, speaking at the CILIP conference last week, said that the replacement of paid public servants by volunteers and charities may be seen as a positive plus by politicians and others regardless of the need to do so and that seems to be the case. Well, at least sometimes.

The real reasons may not be so black and white

The real reasons may not be so black and white


National news

  • Child literacy: The initiative helping young families read when they cannot afford to buy books – Independent. “Families on limited budgets, balanced to the penny, don’t factor in money for new books. They can’t. Enter the Canterbury Imagine project, which is beginning its fifth year providing books for children on some of the most deprived housing estates in Bradford, West Yorkshire.” … “Of course, spending £10 on a book isn’t the only way children can read. There are libraries too. Except for the fact that Bradford Council is in the process of transferring all its libraries to community groups to run them on a voluntary basis. Those that don’t get enough interest will be closed down for good. Kay Raistrick is another mum who found out about the scheme when she took her son Lucian for a baby massage session. She says: “There is a library near here, but usually the shutters are down and you never know whether it’s open.””

“What would happen if, because of the cruelty of this Government, the libraries are closed and there is no room for the hard copies of the Bill documentation, even though the local area wanted them? How would the Minister handle that?” Nicholas Soames MP, Conservative, Mid Sussex.

“I do not accept my right hon. Friend’s characterisation. On previous occasions when there have been storage problems, nearby community libraries have been asked to store the hard copies, so I anticipate alternative mechanisms could be put in place.” Michael Ellis, Conservative, Assistant Whip [This is the first time since I’ve started PLN I’ve seen direct criticism of Conservative library policy by a Conservative MP. The answer, which relies on volunteer (“community”) libraries is interesting – Ed.].

  • Communications Lead – Society of Chief Librarians. £40k p.a., for six months. “The Society of Chief Librarians (www.goscl.com) is seeking to appoint an experienced communications and advocacy professional to support it in an exciting period of change and development. This post is a fixed term contract which will oversee a number of important strategic communication and development activities over the six months from September 2017-March 2018, including a parliamentary briefing, the launch of a new offer and the organisation’s AGM. In addition this role will need to manage the contract for and work in partnership with a communications agency that will be appointed to review stakeholder perceptions of the organisation and develop a new brand proposition and key messages to take it into the next exciting stage of its development.”
  • Cutting services: a false economy? – LocalGov. “For example, the Public Libraries and Museum Act 1964 requires library authorities to provide ‘a comprehensive and efficient library service’ for all persons who desire to make use of it and specifies particular factors to which such authorities must have regard. However, the Act does not specify exactly what services a library authority must provide in order to comply with its duty. This means that a local authority has flexibility as to how it complies with its duties, allowing it to make effective use of its resources and deliver good quality services.”
  • Health Literacy Skills and Partnership Working for Public and Health Librarians – CILIP. “Libraries support wellbeing in a number of ways, not least by providing health information. The SCL Health Offer and the Libraries Taskforce ‘healthier and happier lives’ purpose, illustrate how public libraries have come to see this as part of their core remit. Healthcare professionals rely on the information that information specialists can provide both them and their patients. This event demonstrates best practice for finding and sharing health information. It also explores partnership working opportunities between Librarians from different sectors and professional care givers.”
  • Lancashire plans to reopen libraries, but Shropshire considers more cuts – Guardian. “[Lancashire] The new Conservative-led administration was voted in on a platform that included reopening the libraries. The plan marks a reversal of fortune for the beleaguered service, after the previous administration’s cuts led to intervention from then-minister for civil society Rob Wilson, who met with council leaders in January to discuss the cuts. This followed calls for government intervention over library closures, with opponents claiming the closures were in breach of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, which places legal obligations on local authorities for the provision of libraries.” … “Shropshire is typical of many local authorities that have looked to their public library services as a way to compensate for severe cuts elsewhere in government funding”
  • Significant possibilities to increase apprenticeships in the library and information sector – CILIP. “A survey of employers in the library and information sector has revealed that while over 70% currently do not run an apprenticeship scheme, a third are interested in doing so and a further 59% are unsure or considering it. The results also showed that employers view apprenticeships as a way to: Attract new staff, Invest in the professional development of their staff, Support staff career progression” … “The survey was carried out by a ‘trailblazer’ group of employers in the library and information sector who will develop new apprenticeship standards with support from CILIP and other key sector bodies. With the majority of survey respondents viewing apprenticeship schemes as a way of bringing new staff into the organisation the trailblazer group felt that using apprenticeships as a recruitment driver would help address diversity shortfalls within the profession. Developing existing staff through apprenticeships was also seen as important by respondents, with many of them seeing them as a way of helping to plug skills gaps over the next five years.”
An online bookclub from Axiell


International news

  • Canada – Toronto Public Library Refusing to Cancel Planned Neo-Nazi Gathering – Torontoist. “Prominent members of Canada’s neo-Nazi movement are holding a memorial service at a Toronto Public Library branch tonight for Barbara Kulaszka—a lawyer who defended them in front of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Jewish organizations want the Toronto Public Library to cancel the Richview Library booking, but, in an email, Ana-Maria Critchley, manager of stakeholder relations for the Toronto Public Library, tells Torontoist that’s not happening.”
  • Sweden – Sweden investigates public library for blacklisting Roma and immigrants – Daily Sabah. ” public library in Karlstad, Sweden has come under investigation for allegedly blacklisting residents with Roma or foreign names and refusing to lend them books. Sweden’s Chancellor of Justice launched a preliminary investigation into the claims, which if true are a violation of the Swedish law allowing everyone the equal right to borrow books. A 2014 law states that library services are not only available to “all citizens,” as in previous versions of the law, and the government explained that Swedish citizenship is not required to borrow books.”
  • USA – Public libraries are more relevant than ever in the digital age  – Colorado Springs Independent. “”The library isn’t so much about reading as it is about learning,” Spears says. “And it used to be that if you wanted to learn something, you’d go check out a book. And that’s still an option, of course, but now we’re providing a whole bevy of ways to learn. Especially [to] learn by doing.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – “Refurbishment” – Or: How to destroy a library service, the Barnet Tory way  – Broken Barnet. “Ah yes: ‘refurbished’. Golders Green library has been closed, as have all our libraries, for what our Tory councillors, during purdah, were very keen for us to believe was ‘refurbishment’, a lovely make-over, rather than the ugly truth – closed in order that the buildings had as much of the library function torn out of them, like a bleeding heart, while DIY technology meant to replace staff was installed, the book stock culled, study space removed – and space instead created to make accommodation for rentable office space.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Council statement on the library consultation in full – Bath Chronicle. “The aim is to combine library and customer services in Bath to reach more people from all ages and backgrounds, providing a place where everyone in the community can access support, knowledge, culture and events to help them reach their full potential”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Two ‘viable’ locations identified for future of Bath Central Library and One Stop Shop – Bath Echo. “The Council has been listening to the views of the community and is now consulting on the location of the joined up service. It has identified two viable locations from the five original options that can deliver the full range of library and One Stop Shop services. These are Lewis House in Manvers Street and The Podium in Northgate Street. As part of developing the business case the Council looked at five options for the location – doing nothing, integrating in a purpose-built facility, integrating at Lewis House, integrating in The Podium and integrating in The Guildhall. The remaining three options have been fully assessed and ruled out due to a combination of lack of availability, high cost or building constraints and access.”
  • Bromley – Protest against Bromley library privatisation fears to be held outside civic centre next week – Bromley Times. “Union protesters are set to gather outside Bromley Civic Centre next week over “the proposed privatisation of Bromley’s 14 libraries”. The council’s executive will meet on Wednesday, July 19 to consider a report proposing Greenwich Leisure Limited takes over frontline and operational services of all Bromley libraries, including back office and support functions, the borough’s historic collections and managing each facility. But before the 7pm meeting will get underway, protesters will be making their voices heard outside the building from 6pm. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Despite overwhelming public opposition, the council in its blinkered and secretive way is promoting the privatisation option without Bromley residents knowing the full financial facts and the future business plan.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Skills and jobs fair on offer for Wharton residents – Winsford Guardian. “On Tuesday, July 18 the Festival of Learning will start at Wharton library at 9.30am and is aimed at residents with social barriers who would like help getting back into work. There will also be four presentations throughout the day as well as CV workshops, employment opportunities, childcare advice and a free raffle.”
  • North Yorkshire – Bentham library to celebrate move to new premises – North Yorkshire County Council. “Bentham became a community-managed library in April as part of a transformation that requires all county libraries to be supported or run by volunteers to maintain and develop the service. It moved into its new home in May thanks to a partnership between health and arts charity Pioneer Projects, volunteer group the Friends of Bentham Library and the County Council’s library service and Stronger Communities team.”
  • Northamptonshire – New Moulton Library – Fun, Functional and Fabulous – Libraries Taskforce. “Marking the start of a chapter for Moulton Library, we left our ‘temporary’ home in the heart of the village – we were there for 47 years – and moved to purpose built premises in the new Community Centre situated alongside a new housing development, in early May this year.” … “We talked to the Parish Council about this and agreed that, when the café franchise was awarded, we would discuss the possibility of the café staff taking oversight of the library at certain times during the day. When we broached the subject with newly appointed café owner, Jeni, she immediately saw the benefits for both of us and readily agreed. So we are now able to be open from 9 – 6 every day of the week, rather than the previous half days only”
  • Shropshire – No library closures – but volunteers will run them – Advertizer. “under the proposals, libraries such as Gobowen – which was taken over as a community hub last year – must be ‘self-sustainable’ by the end of 2018/19. And the council will expect them to be run solely by volunteers in the future. Councillor Lezley Picton, cabinet member for culture and leisure services, said: “We have no intention to close any of our libraries.”
  • Swindon – Beechcroft Road library to be turned into ‘thriving’ community hub – Swindon Advertiser. “Beechcroft Library, in Upper Stratton, will from September 1 be run by the Stratton St Margaret Parish Council after an agreement was made with Swindon Borough Council. Joe Tray, chairman of the parish council said: “Our plan is to turn the library into a community hub for local residents and local business owners. “Swindon Borough Council have awarded us the opportunity to run the library on an annual service level agreement from September 1. We have a year to turn it around and make it a success, so we hope that the local community is on board and we will be reaching out to local businesses for their support too.”