So I had a very interesting Sunday and Monday, the first day walking two Australian library chiefs around Storyhouse in Chester and the second attending the Libraries Global Excellence Tour conference in London. There were a lot of learning points from talking to experts in this country, Australia and the USA. The big ones for me were how libraries were seen by the Aussies as sometimes putting artificial barriers in front of their users. Seriously, the Australians looked at us pityingly for charging fines for adults. And then one questioned why libraries demand online renewals of items, wondering aloud if it was for our stats rather than for helping users. Questions like that as well as one about coping with the eventual disappearance of cards in wallets fair sent heads spinning. And don’t get me started on floating stock, seemingly widely accepted in the antipodes (and in Peterborough by the way, it turns out) but avoided most other places.

There was also a vision of another world – where Australian state libraries hold budgets and co-ordinate training and development and where libraries had to cope with only the one crisis (that of technology) rather the two (austerity). Oh and, by the way, their pay is something like twice ours, even taking the varying exchange rates and costs of living into account. Mind you, spiders.

But there’s no point dreaming for something different than what we have. As a friend far more knowledgeable than I (hi Mick) pointed out, the One Card achievement of South Australia pales a bit when one considers its population is only that of Kent and there’s a One Card situation in 19 Scottish authorities and in Manchester, as well as (I think?) Wales. These were achieved without the UK government doing anything and that is I think the brutal truth. If libraries need to achieve wonders, then that will nee to bee achieved by themselves. Collaboration for mutual benefit is the key here. Heck, it may even save money. Relying on Whitehall has not been a viable library strategy since around 1964 and wishing it was not so will not change matters.

Or move to Australia. Just, you know, big sharks too.



  • Cinegi£100 cinema film hire.
  • Esports – Free computer games increase library use in kids [well, yes, they would wouldn’t they? – Ed.]

National news

  • Cinegi Arts&Film – the library as a cinema? – Libraries Taskforce. “There are a growing number of community cinemas across the UK, and many more public spaces – venues that might not ordinarily screen films or cultural content – like libraries, museums, galleries, arts and community centres, which can easily transform into a pop-up cinema for special events or regular screenings. And what better venue for screening filmed performance – theatre, opera, music and ballet or local archive – than a library, the place where we explore our culture and discover more about who we are and where we live.”
  • Community Business Trade Up Programme – School for Social Entrepreneurs. “Are you running a community business – an organisation that directly benefits your local area? Do you want to increase your impact and sales? We could support you through the Community Business Trade Up Programme, run by School for Social Entrepreneurs, in partnership with Power to Change. Applications are open now”
  • Libraries SOS Day 19/10/17 – is it enough? – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. Calls for a national strike.

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans she has to ensure that local authorities have adequate funds to maintain their local libraries. Chris Williamson MP

Local authorities are responsible for funding and providing public library services in England, and made net investment of £701 million in 2015/16. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has additionally provided funding support for library authorities throughout England. This included funding a £2.6 million programme to support the installation or upgrade of wifi in public libraries in England; benefitting around 1,000 libraries, and enabling over 99% of public libraries to offer free wifi. DCMS also financed the £3.9m Libraries: Opportunities for Everyone fund to support innovative library service activity to benefit disadvantaged people and places in England. The Government will continue to encourage local authorities to invest in libraries to ensure that they remain relevant and meet the needs of the community. John Glen MP They Work For You.

  • Simple public libraries – BookSeller / Tim Coates. “When I first became involved in public libraries, 20 years ago, about 325 million books were loaned to adults by libraries in England each year. This year that figure is likely to be around 90 million.” … “By allowing that to happen we will be alone in nations in the world to have no public library service.  From a time when our library service earned international respect, it has become a horror to others.” … “Use of libraries has fallen every year since 1992” … “In a consumer service, like a public library, use will go down if you don’t offer what people want” … “Libraries are hardly effective at providing internet literacy (or any other social services) – they just don’t work out who their target groups are and focus on them in a practical way. That is not what they are good at” … “The library response to falling demand has been the exact opposite of what it should have been. If you find use of a collection is falling, you need to improve it. “
  • Why the future of UK libraries is in the ‘connection, not the collection’ – I. ““Libraries are increasingly becoming hubs for learning, discovery and culture for their communities,” says Mark Taylor, Director of External Relations at CILIP, the Library and Information Association.” A look at various UK libraries, suggesting the Library of Birmingham is not the model to go down but rather something like The Word. “The trends, frankly, are being set elsewhere – in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Finland and Denmark,”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • USA – 2017 Library Design Showcase – American Libraries. Hundreds of pictures of new and refurbished libraries, with the stand-out for me being the library with all its walls being writeable on.
  • USA – Public libraries are communist bookstores – Reddit. Fascinating debate, although it’s a free forum so some not suitable for work, including what happens when one town in a system decides not to pay its taxes. “With 3D printers in libraries, communists are seizing the means of production”.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Aberdeen youngsters asked to design library for the future – Evening Express. “Part of Aberdeen City Libraries 125th anniversary of Aberdeen Central Library, children and young people have been asked to design a 21st century library in Aberdeen. Open to those between the ages of three and 18, they are asked to design their very own Aberdeen library for the future, which can be submitted in the form of an illustration, 3D model or written description. Designs will be judged on the exterior design, interior design and vision of the future.” [Love this – Ed.]
  • Anglesey – Council seek your views on island library service – North Wales Chronicle. “residents are being urged to have their say on proposals which could threaten the future of five Island libraries. A public consultation on the County Council’s Draft Library Service Strategy 2017-2022 ends on Friday, September 22. The draft strategy explores options including Area Libraries; Authority led Community Supported Libraries, Mobile Services and community access points.”
  • Bolton – £45,000 worth of Bolton children’s overdue library book fines to be waived, in bid to get more youngsters reading – Bolton News. “Thousands of children are expected to have their outstanding charges for overdue library books waived, in a bid to get more youngsters reading. As well as considering the cancellation of all historic fines for children across the borough, Bolton Council is expected to announced an amnesty on all children’s library books that haven’t been returned”
  • Calderdale – Halifax opens its new library – Designing Libraries. “Located on the Square Church site next to the Piece Hall, the new Library and Archive occupies land that had been unused for many years and blends the remains of the church into a striking external design and internal layout. Work has also begun on the Square Chapel Centre for the Arts. The Cornerstone project at the Square Chapel will see a new extension and improved facilities at the Grade 2 listed building and forms part of the redevelopment of the town along with the redevelopment of the Piece Hall and a new Central Library. The project should be completed by the summer of 2017 with a full programme of events to launch in the autumn. The new building will include a 108 seater multi-purpose cinema and studio theatre to be used for film screenings, performances and workshops; new dressing rooms; improved toilets; and a café-bar area that will serve locally sourced food and drink.”
  • Cornwall – Historic day as town council takes over running of library and other assets – Cornwall Live. “The transfer of Camborne’s library and various other green spaces follows years of public consultations and negotiations” … “The mayor of Camborne has proclaimed a historic point in history after documents were signed, sealed and delivered devolving a number of assets including the town’s library to town council control.” … “Much-needed repairs will be made to the Passmore Edwards Library before the service will return there next spring. The town council will be moving its offices to the first floor of the library in May 2018.”
  • East Sussex – Councillors oppose proposed library closures – Eastbourne Herald. “Daniel Shing (Ind Dem, Polegate and Watermill) said: “It is sad news for our residents in Polegate, Willingdon and surrounding villages.“The number of people using libraries in the county has fallen is true, but it might not as high as ESCC reported by 40 per cent in the last 10 years. “I notice for some time now ESCC have removed the counting device in our library, the usage could be higher if those use the library and do not borrow a book. We have double the proportion here than in Hampden Park.”
  • East Sussex – Lewes MP ‘disappointed’ by proposed library closures – Sussex Express. “Lewes MP Maria Caulfield said: “I am very disappointed that there are plans to close the libraries in Ringmer and Polegate. “The community in Ringmer only recently re opened their new library facility in the village hall and so to close this would be a huge loss to the community. “
  • East Sussex – Plans to permanently close libraries in Eastbourne a ‘dreadful decision’ – Eastbourne Herald. “According to the council the proposals are aimed at targeting ‘increasingly limited resources to areas where they will have the greatest impact on improving residents’ lives’, as the number of people using East Sussex libraries has fallen by 40 per cent in the last decade. However the libraries could still remain open, if they can be funded wholly by communities or other organisations, or taken over by groups to run as alternative community facilities”
  • East Sussex – Proposals to close Ore’s library ‘outrageous’ – Hastings Observer. “Richard Street, a Labour borough councillor for Ore, said: “The proposal to close Ore library is outrageous. Libraries are vital for young children without access to books at home because their parents just can’t afford them. “
  • Glasgow – Little library pioneer Leo leads the way for 8000 babies to join scheme – Evening Times. “Some 7616 babies have joined the scheme, which aims to see every child in Scotland signed up as a library member, since the Evening Times first told of it in September 2015. “
  • Haringey – Authors lead fight to save children’s librarians in Haringey – Ham and High. “Writers including SF Said, Kaye Umansky and Sita Brahmachari waved placards with mums, dads and youngsters outside Wood Green Library voicing fears children’s librarians’ expertise could be lost following changes to their job descriptions.”
  • Haringey – Campaigners claim victory as Highgate Library relocation plan dropped – Ham and High. “Campaigners are celebrating after a theatre announced it has abandoned plans to relocate Highgate Library.” … “In April Haringey Council announced Jacksons Lane Arts Centre had approached councillors and the Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG) proposing to house the service in a bid to secure Arts Council England funding”
  • Leicestershire – Futuristic ‘self access’ technology could replace library staff in Leicestershire – Leicester Mercury. “Staff have been told positions could be axed when “self-access technology” is rolled out to 15 libraries . Leicestershire County Council said the move could save £230,000 and “a significant amount of the saving would come from a reduction in roles”. The council has previously transferred control of about 30 smaller libraries to community groups.”
  • Leicestershire – Library users may get self-access – Melton Times. “The move, which would also give residents the opportunity to use the public computers, wifi and printing and copying facilities, is being considered because of budgetary pressures. It was piloted successfully at Syston Library for four months when opening hours increased by 30 hours. “
  • Manchester – Manchester Central Library to host lego Charlie for Roald Dahl Day – National Literacy Trust. “It’s Roald Dahl Day today and we are excited to reveal that a unique lego brick build of Charlie, good-hearted hero of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is on display at Manchester Central Library, as part of the Read Manchester campaign. “
  • North Somerset – Could merging libraries and children’s centres be a ‘revelation’ for ‘bridging the generation gap’? – Weston Mercury. “North Somerset Council announced a year ago that it planned to close Worle Library, as part of a £500,000 cost-cutting review of its community buildings, and move it into the nearby children’s centre.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Take a look around Beeston Library after major revamp – Nottingham Post.
  • Powys – Knighton library gets ready for move to new community hub – Hereford Times. “Phil Martin, who has worked at Knighton library for 17 years, is leaving at the end of the month and will be replaced by Hannah Isaacson, who has been appointed community hub and library officer for the town. ” …””The appointment comes as the county council, Knighton and District Community Centre Management Committee and the town council work together to deliver library and other services in the town from later this autumn.” “
  • Surrey – Surrey Performing Arts Library where you can borrow plays and sheet music under threat of closure – Get Surrey. “A library that allows members of the public who have an interest in the performing arts to borrow everything from sheet music to dance tutorial DVDs is under threat of closure. Surrey Performing Arts Library, which is funded by Surrey County Council, could be lost as the council looks to save £180,000 a year by April 2018. It is an invaluable resource for dance and drama groups, choirs, budding musicians and schools across the county due to its collection of music, theatre, orchestral and dance materials available for the public to loan.”
  • Warrington – MP Helen Jones labels LiveWire ‘incompetent organisation’ after seeing ‘damning’ report – Warrington Guardian. “‘astonished’ Labour politician claims documents handed to her show the multi-million pound scheme was under construction without the firm involved having signed a contract with LiveWire. She said: “This report is a damning indictment of LiveWire and clearly shows it is an incompetent organisation”
  • Westminster – Can gaming really benefit children? New library club gets kids excited about esports – Libraries Taskforce. “Esports, also known as electronic sports, is competitive video gaming” … “we held a one-month children’s club pilot scheme at Maida Vale Library.” … “The idea was to bring in 10 different children each week from local schools, aged 8 to 14, and give them a two-hour taster session on esports, including the careers available and the skills it can develop.” … “Libraries can be fantastic community hubs, but they sometimes find it hard to attract that older child/teenager demographic, which hopefully esports can help pull in.” … “We are now working with Westminster libraries to extend this pilot to a more regular club in the area”
  • Wigan – Out-of-hours activities to continue at Tyldesley Library – Leigh Journal. “while I agree that Wigan Council has made stringent cuts to meet Government targets and that the libraries have been hit extremely hard, I am pleased to say that at Tyldesley Library we have made arrangements to carry on with our out-of-hours activities. “