I was at the rather marvellous “Voyage of the Data Treader” unconference yesterday. There were quite a few big learning points for me during the day. The first was that “open data” if done properly can help reputation (not damage it, as many fear), save money (fewer Freedom of Information requests) and can lead to unexpected things. This last shouldn’t have surprised me because – you see that map on the righthand side of the website? – that was done by Libraries Hacked using PLN blog entries. I had no idea it was possible before he did it as I just don’t code. What made it “open data” is that I had taken the decision years ago to publish with a creative commons license meaning anyone could use it. I hadn’t realised that it was “open data” at the time (and it was 2010 so very few probably did) but I’m glad I made that decision. Newcastle is too, by the way – apparently, it’s adherence to publishing its data saves it £250k on FOI requests.

Another thought. Public libraries suffer a lot from not having their enough about them public. The Libraries Taskforce lacks the power to force authorities to make them public and there’s no chance the current government would give them that power. So “open data” in libraries has to be voluntary. To do this, there will need to be awareness of both the carrot (save money, look good to your public) and the stick (“what is your council hiding?”, how come it’s not one of the “open” ones?). We’ll see if that works. But the mood yesterday was clearly that things were moving towards more “open” sharing of information. And that can only be a good thing. After all, I’m sure none of us joined the library sector to hide information.


National news

  • Automated checkouts ‘miserable’ for elderly shoppers – BBC. “Automated checkout machines put off about a quarter of older people from going shopping, a survey from a housing charity for the elderly suggests. They can find the automated checkouts “intimidating” and “unfriendly,” according to the charity, Anchor. Without someone to talk to at the tills, shopping can be a “miserable experience,” a spokesman said. The British Retail Consortium said it was important for shops to be welcome destinations for all of the community.”
  • A more open, accessible and inclusive CILIP – Research Information. “The information profession has radically changed in recent years and it is continuing to evolve, writes Nick Poole …”
  • ‘It’s just mistake after mistake’ – stories from the universal credit catastrophe – Guardian. “The fact that UC depends on an internet connection makes it very difficult for a lot of people to access, not least because of the government’s closure of hundreds of public libraries.”
  • PLR increases but drop in registered loans ‘disheartening’ – BookSeller. “The British Library Board has recommended that the Public Lending Right (PLR) rate be increased to 8.2p per loan in 2018. The increase, which is 0.38p up on this year, is the result of the reduction in the estimated number of loans of books registered for PLR. The Society of Authors has said it accepts the new rate but has urged the government to ring-fence and increase the PLR fund in any future spending review. A spokesperson said: “The decreased estimate for PLR-registered loans is disheartening, doubtless caused by cuts to library services and exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from PLR.”
  • Scotland launches single library card pilot – BookSeller. “Five councils are taking part in the scheme which will be extended to the whole of Scotland if successful following an evaluation of the pilot by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC). One Card has been developed to encourage greater access to libraries by removing barriers between services and gives holders access to more than 120 libraries and 1.6 million books. It was launched on Friday (17th November) in Aberdeen by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop and the pilot has been supported by £15,000 from the Scottish government’s Public Library Improvement Fund. The project will run for six months across the Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Highland, and Perth and Kinross council areas”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Canada – Who do Canadian public libraries serve? – Mary F Cavanagh. A look at how public libraries describe their users (or “customers” or “patrons” or “members” or “clients”) and what this implies.
  • Finland – Nuorten näköistä – a project for the young people in Iisalmi at Iisalmi City Library (Finland) – Naple Sister Libraries. Partnership with youth services “The cooperation has been developing positively and the results have been beneficial. For example, we have brought a popup library in a local Bake a Cake event and taken a part in a first Zombie run event ever in Iisalmi. One of the most popular event has been monthly “Toimintatiistai – Action Tuesday” which has included for example robots, LittleBits building kit and so forth”
  • Philippines – Book Stop pop-up library project – Designing Libraries. ” It is a network of mobile spaces spread across the city, each garnering far more foot traffic than the typical library. The Book Stop refrains from trying to reinvent the purpose of libraries. It instead works on rethinking the physical architecture and the distribution system of libraries, emphasising casual serendipity and ease of access.”. Basically, mobile stairs to sit on with information inside.
  • USA – Promoting Healthy Communities: Connecting Public Libraries with Health Information – Public Libraries Online. “Faced with confusing medical terminology, conflicting reports, and a constantly changing healthcare system, people are looking to their local public libraries for guidance. That’s why the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) is partnering with the Public Library Association (PLA): to help libraries meet the challenges of keeping up with evidence-based health resources and producing successful health programming.”

Local news by authority

  • Bexley – Bisset Adams wins Thamesmead library contest – Designing Libraries. ” ‘We wanted to create a design which tells a story about the lake and the environment. It’s a truly sustainable structure constructed from cross-laminated timber, which is left exposed to create a warm interior environment. We also wanted it to be fun. The concept was inspired by the swans nesting by the lakeside. We used the pattern of a swan’s nest as a texture for the perforated cladding of the cantilevered upper box, which faces out to the lake and created a “bed of reeds” for screening the children’s library from the main space. We hope it will be a very special place to learn, browse and study.'”
  • Blaenau Gwent – Library takes readers in Blaenau Gwent on a journey to wonderland in celebration of digital app scheme – South Wales Argus. “The Adventures in Wonderland Project was a library based reading initiative developed with a range of partners including Head4Arts, Cardiff University, Literature Wales, Betwyll and Twletteratura. Focused around Lewis Carroll’s classic book ‘Adventures in Wonderland’, the project linked reading with digital literacy and enabled the libraries service in Blaenau Gwent to engage with new users, promoting reading through a fun web based app.”
  • Devon – Woman who has worked tirelessly to promote libraries across Devon receives OBE – Devon Live. “Ciara Eastell, Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited, has been presented with her OBE Honours by Prince William during a Royal ceremony at Buckingham Palace” … “With more than 20 years’ experience working in the library sector, Ciara has been leading Devon’s library service for nine years, and in 2016 headed up the spin-out from Devon County Council to form Libraries Unlimited, a staff and community owned charity and social enterprise.”

“During its first year of operation, Libraries Unlimited secured more than £500,000 of additional funding, opened two new libraries and rolled out innovative new services across the county. In addition, the organisation is set to become an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) from April 2018, providing high-quality art events and activities in libraries across the county to appeal to an even wider and more diverse audience.”

  • East Sussex – Huge turnout at protest against Polegate Library closure – Eastbourne Herald. “More than 100 people gathered in protest against the proposed closure of Polegate Library on Saturday (November 18). Schoolchildren, residents, councillors, and even dogs turned out in force with banners and placards to show the county council how much the treasured facility means to them. “
  • Enfield – Edmonton Green Library Case Study – FG. “The Edmonton Centre brings together a completely refurbished library set over 2 floors and the Council’s Customer Access facilities. FG Library & Learning worked with Ingleton Wood Consultancy and Enfield Council to create a vibrant, multi-functional public space.” Nice colourful open spaces.
  • Essex – Chelmsford library will open a new ‘families zone’ in £316,000 revamp – Essex Live. “£316,000 makeover of Chelmsford Library will see a brand new ‘families zone’ open. A new state-of-the-art hub will be developed, including a children’s zone to create a space to help them learn. The project plans to change the way the library provides a variety of activities and support for families, in a bid to become a ‘one-stop shop for free family services. This includes the award-winning Rhyme Time sessions, friendship and toddler groups, play and learn sessions, sensory play, breastfeeding support drop-ins, health advice, and other children’s literacy and learning services.”
  • Lancashire – Have your say on library opening hours in Lancashire – Lancashire Evening Post. “The Lancashire County Council consultation runs until November 26. Questionnaires, obtainable from libraries, must be returned the day before or views can be shared on line until the 26th. So far more than 1,500 people have taken part in the consultation and councillors will take a final decision on new opening hours early next year.”
  • Norfolk – Drive to get children coding sees more than 500 pocket computers donated to Norfolk libraries -Eastern Daily Press. “More than 500 of the devices have been donated by the Micro:bit Educational Foundation as part of a drive to encourage children to get creative with technology – rather than just tapping away on tablets”
  • Norfolk – Harry Potter quiz coming to atmospheric Medieval gaol – Eastern Daily Press. “Teams of up to six people are invited to take part, with other libraries around the country rising to the challenge. The quiz will comprise five rounds of 10 themed questions about the Harry Potter books with two extra questions structured around the Hogwarts subject areas, shedding light on the broader history of magic. Meanwhile, from Saturday Yarmouth library will host a display inspired by the British Library’s new exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic.”
    Northamptonshire – Have your say on the future of Higham Ferrers Library – Northants Telegraph. “The town council is hoping to use the consultation to find out people’s views on the library, including how much they use it, what they use it for, whether they would be prepared to be a volunteer to help keep it open and are they prepared to pay more council tax to retain the service.” … “Feedback will be considered as part of the discussion on whether the council can support the library financially.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Inspirational refurbishment for Beeston Library – Designing Libraries. “The refurbishment has seen the venue become one of four flagship libraries in Nottinghamshire, with Beeston library benefiting from an extensive arts and cultural programme including exhibitions, learning activities, workshops, performance, community and family events. The library opened earlier this year with an impressive grand new entrance, increased energy efficiency, new shelving and a re-design of public spaces for modern library use. The library has a Discovery Room – a space for hands on learning, creativity and innovation – improvements to the meeting areas and exhibition spaces and, importantly, 10,000 items of new stock.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Council thanked for library Friday openings – County Echo. “County Council have thanked Fishguard councillors for continuing to fund their local library. Fishguard Library will continue to open six days, thanks to a decision by Fishguard and Goodwick Town Council to fund opening hours on Fridays for a further year” … ““It’s clearly been a great success,” he said. “The feedback from the local community has been excellent, with people using the library on Fridays for a whole host of reasons, including job hunting, research and events such as Feel Good Fridays.”
  • Perth and Kinross – New library pass for Tayside ‘removes the barriers’ – Evening Telegraph. “The single library card pilot is part of a Programme for Government commitment and has been supported by £15,000 from the Public Library Improvement Fund, which is part of a Scottish Government fund to support creative and innovative library projects.”
  • Sandwell – Domestic abuse victims to get support from Sandwell library appeal – Halesowen News. “Special boxes will be in place at all local libraries – including Cradley Heath, Blackheath, Oldbury and Rounds Green – for people to drop off donations to help people seeking help at sanctuaries. The work will commemorate International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Saturday (November 25), also known as White Ribbon Day, and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, which run from November 25 to December 10.”