After a recommendation in 2014 and two reports, the news is that a single digital presence for public libraries will have to wait at least another year and a half while another report is being produced. A “single digital presence”, incidentally, is simply a website (and if we’re lucky, an app) offering e-resources and/or catalogues. Or possibly not,, as no decisions have yet been made even on what it actually is. Meanwhile, there’s a patchwork of hundreds of library websites, some very good but some lamentably bad, all around the country. The reasons for the delay I suspect is that there’s (a) no money, (b) too many different authorities with (c) no-one actually with the authority to direct action and possibly (d) not enough actual technical expertise and know-how amongst the decision makers. As such the chances of a national library website by 2020 [Edit – originally said 2010 as a typo – or perhaps I like making sure-thing predictions? Ed.] is looking slight and the temptation to kick things into the long grass quite high. So that’s me being pessimistic. Sorry about that. I really hope I’m proven wrong and there’s something really impressive in sight before the end of the decade. But I’m having difficulty actually believing it. Anyone willing to take a bet?

Now for two impressive things. The big promising trend I’ve been seeing for a year or two is libraries feeding children over the school holidays. It’s an idea originating in the USA that is taking off here with some really good results. Have a read below about what is happening in Rochadale. The other seriously good thing is happening literally a world away – Auckland have been done some really good life-changing things with the homeless, up to and including reading groups and cinema screenings. Have a read of their story here.


National News

  • British Library to investigate possibility of a ‘single digital presence’ for UK public libraries – Carnegie UK Trust. “The British Library is to lead an 18-month scoping project to establish the demand for and possible shape of a ‘single digital presence’ for UK public libraries. Funded by Arts Council England and the Carnegie UK Trust, the project will investigate user expectations and demand for what a national online platform for public libraries might deliver, and will explore the network of stakeholder groups and organisations best placed to make it a reality. The scoping project will build on the work of the Single Digital Libraries Presence Steering Group, which has developed a range of early ideas on a universal online platform for the UK’s public libraries [see: Building a Single Digital Presence for Public Libraries], and a report on a Single Digital Presence by Bibliocommons. The development of a single digital presence of this kind was one of the key recommendations of William Sieghart’s 2014 Independent Library Report for England.” … “The project is supported by £236,384 of funding from Arts Council England and £30,000 from Carnegie UK Trust. Emerging findings from the project will be shared in autumn 2018, with the final report published in 2019.” see also Essential Digital Infrastructure for Public Libraries in England – Bibliocommons (2015) and UK public libraries to become a ‘single digital presence’?  – UK Information Age and British Library to investigate ‘single digital presence’ for public libraries – BookSeller.
  • An evidence-based strategic planning toolkit – Libraries Taskforce. “We’re not going to claim that this toolkit solves everything. There will still be some bits of data that you could usefully figure out how to collect locally – such as linking user postcode data to computer use. But we hope that you’ll find this toolkit helpful in having discussions with your corporate strategy teams about the future of library services. We’ve also flagged up in some sections where the Taskforce will develop more guidance to help services respond to particular issues – for example, on doing user research.”
  • New newsletter for people who work in libraries – Libraries Taskforce. “We know, however, that there is still a long way to go before information about the work being done at a national level is widely known, and in particular by those who work in libraries – meeting people every day and delivering the activities that feature in our case studies and blog posts. So as a step to improve how we “communicate with the front line”, we’re starting with this newsletter [download your copy via link]. Update: Find a higher resolution copy here.
Designed specifically for library staff noticeboards. So I upload an image to PLN. Oh well.

Designed specifically for library staff noticeboards. So I upload an image to PLN. Oh well.

  • Privacy and Public Benefit – Carnegie UK Trust. “Public libraries have played an essential role in championing access to information and supporting the development of digital skills. The Carnegie UK Trust is working with the CILIP The Library and Information Association to explore how public libraries can help individuals make informed decisions about their online privacy and security as they seek to maximise the benefits of the online world. As part of this work, The Trust looked internationally for areas of best practice …”
  • Revised Model Library Byelaws for England Template (August 2017) – DCMS / Gov.uk. “The model library byelaws are intended to help libraries, in England, deliver their service within a safe and comfortable environment, to safeguard library property and to make libraries pleasant places for everyone. They assist the library workforce in their daily role, they can be used when necessary to deal with the more extreme cases of behaviour experienced and they allow for flexibility in dealing with local concerns. They only apply to statutory libraries operated by or on behalf of local authorities.” [Get your byelaws updated now, people – Ed.]

“I thought I would let you know that I have sold more books and posters during the Summer holidays than I have ever done 25,000 + in a little over 400 Libraries a month and I have never seen the libraries busier. I never like not understanding things and although the Libraries and myself were delighted with the sales and the additional service I still wanted an answer and I got it from the Wirral last week. People are using the Libraries because they unable to take the children out for as many days as they used to and as we know the Libraries are free. To make themselves feel better for not taking their offspring to Chester or a charging museum they spend a £1.00 on a book or a poster. These are not my words but staff on the ground from the Wirral to West Sussex to Bath to Bradford and so on.” Mike Nesbitt, Chartmedia via email.

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Australia – IX: Design Thinking and Beyond feat. @katiedavis / Part 2 – Mechanical Dolphin. “Kate, I’ve heard of UX – user experience – but never IX. What is “information experience” all about?” … “ IX is about understanding how people engage with information. It’s relational – focussed on the contexts in which people need, seek, manage, give, and use information.As an IX researcher, I aim to understand how people experience information as part of their daily lives. I’m interested in all the messy, complex, and wayward interactions we have with information, big and small. IX researchers take a holistic view: it’s not about the individual user, or the individual piece of information, but about understanding that people are inseparable from their informational worlds.”
  • Canada – Celebrating Stunning Canadian Urban Library Branches – Ex Libris. “Over the past decade, new and renovated public library branches have been showcasing our great Canadian architects and their most spectacular, innovative works. This is the first of a continuing series on stunning new and renovated library branches in Canada. So bookmark them for your travels. You will be inspired and warmly welcomed….”
  • Canada – Windsor library board considering four-point plan to better serve Indigenous communities – CBC News. “Staff at Windsor Public Library locations could be learning basic Indigenous greetings if the board votes to adopt a four-point plan in response to a call for action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
  • Canada – Whistler library axes late fees; experts urge others to do the same – CBC News. “The Whistler Public Library’s 31-year history of late fines and fees will come to an end as the resort municipality aims to reduce barriers to knowledge and information. “Fines often discourage access to the library by the very people who need it the most,” library director Elizabeth Tracy said in an official statement. “It is important to acknowledge that people have already paid for these resources with their tax dollars.””
  • Croatia –  Library without walls, a summer activity by Požega Public Library (Croatia) – Naple Sister Libraries. ” The main goal of this programme is to bring books and reading closer to our users (egsisting and pontential) and to take the book out of the library walls, to the streets.”
  • Germany – Public libraries and refugees: A German library perspective – Princh. “, a library can notice a real change in the number of visitors, by simply adapting some of the library services to the needs of some of the most sensitive community members, in this case; refugees.”
  • Global – IFLA #WLIC2017 The Wrap Up – Medium. “It is time to say goodbye to Wroclaw, Poland as the IFLA World Library and Information Congress for 2017 draws to a close. After an invigorating, idea generating 4 days it is now time to let those ideas germinate and take root in our own library services wherever they may be. One Library staff member attending did not think they would be able to convince their manager to make all the changes that he was inspired by and I replied that just focus on one thing. If we all go back to our respective organisations and advocate for one major idea then change can happen.” … “The National Library of Norway opens a bar next week to deliver on this aim and I will follow with interest how the flirting is getting on.” … Key points include (1) Giving the public real participation in decision making (2) using smart technology (e.g. Taiwan uses special watches), (3) open data, (4) the need to be attention-grabbing.
  • New Zealand – A home for the homeless: Rachael Rivera and the Auckland Library Streeties – Public Libraries News. “Some amazing things go on in libraries around the world. One that has stood out to me, and to others, is the work Auckland Libraries are doing with the homeless, including regular cinema screenings. I am very pleased that Rachael Rivera was able to find the time to talk to me about the work she and her team are doing”
  • USA – Two Dead, Four Hospitalized in Shooting at a New Mexico Public Library – Library Journal. “The injured included two men and two women, authorities said. Some were taken to a hospital across the state line] in Lubbock, Texas. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known.” [US gun laws are insane to many foreign eyes. In some states, it’s illegal to stop people carrying hidden guns in libraries, see this.  – Ed.].

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – New Doctor’s Surgery decision faces delay – MidSomer Norton Journal. “Hope House Surgery is having to revisit its plans for a new Doctor’s Surgery, Children’s Centre, Library and Community Kitchen after B&NES’ Development Control Committee decided to defer a decision on the application, so that further design negotiations can take place”
  • Calderdale – Elland Library set for huge revamp – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “The library on Coronation Street will become a new “locality hub” under the proposals to be considered by members of the council’s cabinet next Monday (Sept 4). The revamp is part of a proposed £4.7m investment which will also see libraries in Brighouse and Todmorden adapted and refurbished.”
  • Devon – New community hall, library, park and 175 new homes for Kingskerswell approved – Devon Live. “Kingskerswell’s community hall will be rebuilt, the library moved and 175 new homes built after councillors approved plans for the East of the village” … “Cllr Mike Haines, Kingskerswell Parish Council chairman said he supported the scheme and added that although the developers would not be funding the library move, they were keen to ensure that it was on the site of the hall.”
  • East Sussex – Parking wardens on the move? – Eastbourne Herald. “Under a plan being looked at currently, part of the library in Grove Road could be used as a parking office. A council spokesperson said the existing library would be retained and shared-use areas introduced in existing staff and office areas of the building. “Library usage is changing,” said the spokesperson, “with a 40 per cent reduction in visits in the last 10 years.
    [Opening hours were cut by 25% in 2016 – Ed.]
  • Edinburgh – City Of Glitcherature: IT Leaves Edinburgh Libraries Bare – Digit. “Edinburgh’s position as one of Europe’s leading capital’s of culture has been let down by the startling revelation that readers across the city have struggled to use its libraries for the last six months or more. As the Fringe and Book Festivals wind down, readers have reported that failures in two IT systems core to Edinburgh’s libraries have left them empty-handed and disappointed. Conservative councillor for Colinton and Fairmilehead Jason Rust questioned the IT problems at a recent council meeting. He said: “It seems quite incredible when libraries are an important council service and a real community facility that there has been such a basic problem in cataloguing and reserving books. You could understand it if the system was coming to the end of its life, but this is the introduction of new IT.””
  • Fife – Levenmouth’s libraries earmarked for closure, claims councillor – Fife Today. “A ‘secret’ plan is in place to close Methil and Leven’s libraries and council offices, according to a local councillor. While Fife Council has branded the claim “utter nonsense”, Cllr Graham Ritchie maintained he discovered Fife Council’s plan by chance after challenging a community manager over rumours of closure. According to Cllr Ritchie, who represents Kennoway, Leven and Largo, services at the two Fife Council facilities are to be gradually withdrawn until the buildings at Wellesley Road, Methil and Durie Street, Leven can be shut down and sold off. “
  • North East Lincolnshire – Town mayor mucks in to mark start of Scartho Library extension following hike in popularity – Grimsby Telegraph. “Work will soon be getting underway to extend Scartho Library in Grimsby – urgently needed following a steep rise in demand for services. The Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Ron Shepherd, picked up the spade to mark the beginning of the extension project at the popular St Giles Avenue library, on Thursday. When built the new extension will provide additional activity space and is in response to an “overwhelming” demand from the community for such space”. See Scartho Library website – services now include movie nights, footcare and ukulele workshops.
  • Rochdale – How libraries in one town are helping kids read and feed this summer – Manchester Evening News. “The Read and Feed initiative sees youngsters from some of Rochdale’s neighbourhoods dine out every lunchtime at their local library”. “After being piloted in Smallbridge last summer, the scheme has now been expanded to five other branches – Balderstone, Darnhill, Langley, Junction and Belfield – and it’s booming. Over the last few weeks up to 180 kids have been using the scheme most weekdays. It’s been so successful council bosses are now trying to work out how they can expand it further to cope with the demand, and pilot schemes are also being run in Manchester and Salford.”
  • South Tyneside – Centre closing to allow for £3million transformation project Shields Gazette. “The £3m revamp of Jarrow Hub will see the current community centre in Cambrian Street transformed into a multi-purpose leisure facility incorporating a new library. The existing gym, sports hall, dance studios and theatre space will be redesigned, along with refurbished toilets and changing facilities. A new entrance and external façade are also planned.”
  • Sunderland – New community library opens in Shiney Row – 103.4 Sun. “Books are flying off the shelves of a newly formed community library, that opened just weeks ago with the support of Sunderland City Council.”