I failed to note in the last post the official transfer of Bromley Libraries to GLL. Greenwich Leisure Limited (marketed as “Better”) is now the largest supplier of public library services in the UK in terms of branches and, one suspects, other measures too. Having expanded outside of London (Greenwich, Wandsworth and Bromley), it now runs council services in Lincolnshire and Dudley and is looking for more. Taking advantage of a national base already established by its leisure services, it is in a strong position to bid when a service comes up anywhere in England. It appears somewhat ignored in Taskforce and other official reports, which intentionally or otherwise strongly favour library-run trusts such as Devon and York. However, I have it down as the one alternative provider to watch, now that Carillion appears to be crashing out. Library mutuals and single-authority leisure/library trusts don’t have all the same advantages – economies of scale, national spread – that GLL have, although they share with it it’s more commercial approach and semi-independence (ish) from councils.

Single-council library trusts will try to expand, and I am sure will pick up a neighbouring authority here and there, but GLL already has the national infrastructure in place. I suspect its going to be one of the big winners (possibly the big one) when the dust settles from all the cuts to libraries. Whether you see this is a good thing or not ultimately depends on where you stand on non-profits running libraries. But the cold logic of the shrinking “market”, and libraries are in one like it or not, ultimately does not care what one’s political beliefs are. It cares about who does the job as efficiently as possible. And that’s why GLL will be a strong competitor, nationally. Publicised or not.


National news

  • Career advice: librarians ‘must defy stereotypes’ to climb ladder – Times Higher Education. “Although the Sconul report pointed to “threats to the future of librarians within universities”, it also saw “significant opportunities for reinvention” and argued that there was no reason why librarians shouldn’t go on to positions such as registrar, provided that they are “prepared to take on non-library challenges and think of university-wide solutions”.”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • USA – Less Is Not More – American Libraries. “Library workers need to feel comfortable talking about the negative aspects of our work. We need to reject narratives in this profession that suggest we can do more with less, and we must feel safe advocating for our own well-being in the workplace. I remember once trying to tell a manager that I didn’t have the bandwidth to take on a new responsibility and feeling intense shame about it. We should never be embarrassed to advocate for ourselves.”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Council could be forced to revisit decision to move One Stop Shop to Bath Central Library – Bath Chronicle. “Bath and North East Somerset Council gave the green light to co-locate council and library services within The Podium last month. But the Conservative cabinet decision will be challenged by a local authority scrutiny panel after opposition councillors asked for it to be called in “in the public interest of full disclosure of the facts underpinning the decision”.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Mobile Libraries across South Bucks to be scrapped – Slough and South Bucks Observer. “Noel Brown, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement at BCC, said: “We know that the mobile library service is valued. But in recent years, fewer people have been using it; in the last couple of years one-third of the library service stops had only one customer. The cost of running the service has also increased to the point that it is now really no longer sustainable. “
  • Croydon – Croydon councillor criticises Carillion’s service to borough’s librariesFM World. Cabinet member says he ““visited the library the other Saturday and took up the broken lift, broken front door, dirty ramp, poor gardening and so forth, and passed on my significant unhappiness to the council’s very good contract monitoring officer”. He added: “Carillion as a company are better known for being a building contractor, and it shows in how they operate their libraries. Carillion are also in huge financial difficulties and are in crisis mode to avoid collapse. “The frontline staff and local management don’t get the support that they deserve.
  • East Sussex – Keep the pressure up over libraries cuts – Eastbourne Herald / Stephen Lloyd MP (Liberal Democrat). “With the Willingdon library only costing around £40k pa to run, co-ordinating over 20,000 transactions a year to residents, and playing such an important role in the community I believe it is absurd such a minuscule amount from the council’s overall budget of £780m cannot be found to keep it open. Despite the anger at county hall’s decision, the meeting actively and positively discussed what actions can be taken to ensure the leader of the council, Cllr Keith Glazier and his conservative colleagues who run the council, ‘really will’ listen to the views of local people, rather than just go through the motions of a consultation” see also To lose library would be a blow – Eastbourne Herald / Letters.
  • East Sussex – MP backs community’s fight to save mobile library service – Bexhill on Sea Observer. Huw Merriman MP (Conservative):  “Mr Merriman chaired the newly-formed Pevensey Bay Library Action Group to continue its fight to save the local library. He said: “The county council has to save money and as part of this are looking to make savings across all their services, including the libraries. However, I believe library services should remain a high priority in the council’s budget. From what I have heard from residents today, and as a regular user of the library with my family, I know these services would be greatly missed and would have a huge impact on the local communities they serve.”
  • Halton – Forgotten story of wartime hero marks centenary of Great War – Runcorn and Widnes World. Widnes Library: “Author David Hewitt is hosting a talk about his latest book which features the secret history of Joseph, a man who didn’t want to go to war but was forced to by a Westminster tribunal. “
  • Hammersmith and Fulham – Services – 438498-2017 – Tenders Electronic Daily. Lot 1: “General community advice services, and management of a community library and neighbourhood centre” … “This will include performance of these services at advice centres, and via assisted self-help at information hubs including libraries and food banks. The contract will include the management of a local community library and neighbourhood centre, which is an integral part of this lot.”
  • Norfolk – Magic Harry Potter events at King’s Lynn Library – Lynn News. “The displays have been created in association with the British Library throughout the Living Knowledge Network, in a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Lynn is one of the few libraries in the county that are hosting this special exhibition and organising events inspired by it.”
  • North Lincolnshire – £1m library transformation plans to begin in Scunthorpe this month – Lincolnshire Reporter. “£1 million plans to transform North Lincolnshire Central Library are now underway in Scunthorpe. The building itself will close its doors on Saturday, November 11 at 4pm before relocating temporarily to The Base from December 4. Under new plans, the library will get a complete internal make-over to turn it into a community hub – bringing many services together under one roof.”
  • Northamptonshire – Northampton MP has ‘raised the white flag’ over library closures, residents’ association claims – Northampton Chronicle. Andrew Lever MP (Conservative) advocates volunteers taking over closing libraries. “After declining the invitation to the public meeting due to a prior commitment, Mr Lewer, in response, said in an email: ” As your elected MP, I do want to reiterate that I believe that we need to make the most of our efforts to keep St James Library open as the important community resource that it is. “I want to impress upon you again, that although the county council stepped back on plans to close eight libraries a number of years ago, I know from various meetings and discussions with the county council, because of their financial position, they are not in the same location to withdraw as before. “It is imperative therefore that we seriously explore the option of taking the library over as a community asset, and that work needs to be investigated now.”
  • Oxfordshire – Oxford Central Library will be closed for four weeks as they move to new permanent location – Oxford Mail. “The library has been based in Oxford Castle Quarter during the regeneration of the Westgate Centre. It will return to a new site at the Westgate on December 18, but will move out of the Castle Quarter site on November 17, with no library operating in central Oxford in the interim period.” … “The new library will have longer opening hours, from 9am to 8pm Monday to Saturday, with Sunday opening in the new year. The new library will include public computers, free wifi and a dedicated area for community activities and workshops.”
  • Shropshire – Weston Rhyn author launches latest book ‘Gobowen to Everest’ – Borders Counties Advertizer. “Dave Andrews from Weston Rhyn, will be giving a talk on his latest book Gobowen to Everest at the public library in Oswestry at 12.30pm on Tuesday, November 21.”
  • South Shields – South Shields’ The Word library puts North East on the map with national accolade – Shields Gazette. “The Word, in South Shields Market Place, won the national Community Benefit award in this year’s RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Awards. Competing against more than 95 regional winners, the new library and arts centre was praised for providing what judges described as “a truly inspiring and interactive community-led centre with a 21st century library and exemplary facilities”.
  • Stockton – Fairfield Library in Stockton closes for revamp which will secure its future – Northern Echo. “Fairfield Library, in Stockton, closed for refurbishment a week ago so that works to accommodate a new nursery can get under way. A year ago Stockton Borough Council’s Cabinet agreed plans to retain the library by sharing the building with a nursery provider following public consultation and an extensive campaign by locals to save the facility. The building will now be adapted to accommodate a nursery, although the library will be smaller than it was.”
  • Suffolk – Approval for Mildenhall Hub proposal – Bury Free Press. “Plans to bring a school, leisure facilities, a swimming pool, health centre, library and public services together on one Mildenhall site were given the green light on Wednesday. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will now have final say on the Mildenhall Hub proposal, after Forest Heath District Council’s Development Control Committee gave its approval.”