Talking to colleagues in other services, finding out what works and what they do that you thought could not work or never thought of at all. That’s the thing. I’m not big on ideas but I know a good one when I see one and have never felt guilty about taking advantage of the skills and experience of others. After all, we’re in public libraries and are not in competition with each other, only with private companies (who would ruthlessly crush libraries if they could) and perhaps most of all with ourselves. So I was delighted to hear about the experience of Surrey yesterday (I was at the National Acquisitions Group conference in Leeds) who said they increased their children’s non-fiction issues by 30% over two years by the simple expedient of putting in zig-zag shelving (paid for by the book-fund in Year One) so the titles could be face on, and weeding the dross. They have found since that they can spend less on the stock but issue more simply by doing this. In other areas they’ve boosted issues by buying backlist, and not just new titles. Simple things and easy to copy.

This got me thinking about others things which I know are successful in different library authorities either in the UK or internationally but other library services are ignorant or dismissive of. They include:

  • Not asking for any ID at all when joining.
  • Not needing a library card (or, even, card and PIN) to return a book on self-service.
  • Floating stock, where books stay in the library where they’re returned.

Chances are your service will do one or two of these but have either never considered the others or think it’s not possible. But it works elsewhere. Probably in another library service neighbouring yours in fact. Have a visit. Learn from your colleagues. And if you still say no then make sure you have a reason rather than gut feeling of “ah, but that won’t work here”. Because that’s not a good excuse by itself. Is it? It seems to me we have a whole world of people showing us what is possible out there and that’s a gift, a free valuable gift, that we ignore or dismiss at our peril.


National news

  • Alternative Delivery Models free masterclass – Eventbrite. Nottingham, 12th December. “The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS) has commissioned an additional free masterclass designed to bring together these different perspectives. The event will focus on the same issues and subject matter covered during the masterclasses held in early 2017, designed to encourage councils to think strategically about the future shape and delivery model for their library service.” … “This free event will also focus on the practicalities of establishing public service mutuals and other alternative delivery models for library services, bringing together specialists expertise and the real-life experiences of trailblazing library services.”
  • Bump Booster – new toolkit to help staff support parents-to-be – Libraries Taskforce. “Bump Booster is a new online resource developed for ASCEL to help library staff support parents-to-be. It includes guidance for library staff, ideas for parents-to-be, and rhymes to sing to a bump (other music options are available).” … “Babies in the womb can hear their parents and the world around them. By singing and talking to their child before it’s born, parents can have an impact on their baby’s development”
  • Campaigners: Libraries Taskforce is ‘major presence’ but ‘hamstrung’ – BookSeller. “Ahead of a consultation into the progress of the Libraries Taskforce, campaigners have praised the “hard work” done by the body but have criticised the exclusion of campaigners and frontline staff from its steering group. Campaigners have also argued that the body is “hamstrung” by having to report to the department of digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS). A year since the release of the Library Taskforce’s Ambition document for public libraries, the body is seeking responses on how it has performed over the past year and on improvements that can be made to the document.”. Includes comments from myself, Laura Swaffield and Tim Coates. Comments include Shirley Burnham, Elizabeth Ash and Frances Hendrix.
  • Vote for Cilip – Leon’s Library Blog. “So if you are library staff, at whatever grade, join Cilip. If you are an activist, trade unionist, or free thinking radical, and work in libraries, join Cilip. The more members it has have the louder, and more importantly diverse, its voice will be. For those who say change cannot happen within the organisation I say ‘Momentum’. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the group, what cannot be denied is the change wrought by a grassroots  movement on a major political party. Inertia is not an inevitability. Change comes about because people are willing to get involved.”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Eire – Seven Irish writers on award longlist – Times. “Margaret Hayes, of Dublin City Library said: “This great prize affirms Dublin’s commitment to international writers and translators, to literature and creativity. Through this award Dublin, a Unesco City of Literature, brings the worldwide community of readers together to read the works of contemporary writers, “
  • Global – The Public Library of 2027 – Medium. “Today, libraries do offer patrons a chance to interact — mainly with their collections, but also with the wider community. I see this changing to a point where libraries will provide avenues for interaction in the widest sense. A place where people can interact with library collections, each other, the wider community, and indeed, even the physical space.”
  • Spain – Day of the Library at State Public Library of Seville (Spain) – Naple Sister Libraries. “Last 24th October the Day of the Library was celebrated in Spain. This is an initiative from the Spanish Association of Friends of Books for Children and Young People and was first celebrated in 1997. With the collaboration of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, it aims to highlight the importance of the public library as a transgenerational meeting point and a tool for learning and improve coexistence in societies.”
  • USA – When she was a girl, Jim Crow laws kept her from libraries. She grew to run them – Washington Post. “The textbooks at Parker’s segregated school were hand-me-downs from a white school. As for her school’s library, all she remembers are encyclopedias. Despite all that, Parker became a librarian and in 2005 she was named the head of Montgomery County’s library system…”

Local news by authority

  • Argyll and Bute – Books dumped from axed Mull library service adds ‘insult’ – Scotsman. “Argyll and Bute Council withdrew Mull’s mobile library service last year. The van was left, with books stored in the vehicle, at the council yard in Tobermory. Now island historian Olive Brown has lambasted the council after discovering some stock had deteriorated so much from being left to rot in the van the council had dumped it. Mrs Brown, a long-standing volunteer with Mull Museum, said: “I just feel that when the van was taken off the road something should have been done with the books immediately. They should not have been left in the van until they were beyond saving. “
  • Bath and North East Somerset – How to have your say at Bath meeting to ‘review’ controversial library decisions – Bath Chronicle. “The local authority has confirmed it is to “review” its controversial decision to move One Stop Shop services into the same building as Bath’s main library”
  • Blackpool – New chapter for Elaine” – Blackpool Gazette. “Elaine added: “The austerity in Local Government has meant that as a manager, firstly in Customer Services and now for the last three years leading Blackpool Library service, it has been very c
hallenging. “However, I always ask myself the question, ‘why am I here?’ “The simple answer is to serve our residents. “
  • Blaenau Gwent – App praised for helping Blaenau Gwent readers interact in Alice in Wonderland-themed project – South Wales Argus. “The libraries service has worked with a range of partners, including Literature Wales, Arts Council of Wales, Cardiff University and Head4Arts to deliver the project – Adventures in Wonderland. Library services manager Tracy Jones said: “During the last couple of months all our libraries have held a range of workshops and events promoting our new ‘Adventures in Wonderland’ reading scheme.” … ““The TwLetteratura app has also been a great feature of the project – enabling people from all over Blaenau Gwent to connect and share their thoughts and comments with each on the book they’ve all been reading, whether it’s from the comfort of their own home, or at one of our group sessions.””
  • Bristol – 12,000 people sign petitions to save Bristol’s libraries – Bristol Post. “More than 12,000 people have signed petitions calling for Bristol’s libraries to be kept open. The petitions each call for Bristol City Council to reassess its proposal to close 17 of the city’s 27 libraries to save £1.4million. Organised by separate groups which have worked together, the three campaigns highlight the educational benefits of libraries and their importance as community hubs for local groups. Collectively the petitions – which are for Clifton library, Redland library and Bristol libraries in general – have gathered 12,077 signatures, well above the 3,500 minimum needed to trigger a council debate. Each campaign will be discussed separately at the next full council meeting on Tuesday, November 14.”
  • Dudley – Love is in the air as top romance authors Bella Osborne and Christie Barlow visit Wordsley Library – Stourbridge News. “Bella Osborne and Christie Barlow will talk about their work as romance novelists, taking questions and answers from the audience and selling signed copies of their books at the free event from 7pm on Thursday, November 23. “
  • Hackney – Hackney community library service: meeting the needs of isolated people – Libraries Taskforce. ““My church is now flats, the daycentre has closed and the local newsagent is now an artisan bakery. I feel so alone.” This and similar sentiments are common place in a society that elderly and disabled residents feel increasingly isolated from. The challenge, therefore, for us at Hackney’s Community Library Service (CLS), is to help our housebound service users by not only bringing them the books, music and films they love, but also by encouraging them to be part of a library community that cares and shows an interest in them as valued residents of this fast changing London borough.”
  • Havering – Citizens Advice Havering preparing for big move to Romford Central Library – Romford Recorder. “A new office will open at Romford Central Library in St Edward’s Way from January 2. Chief Officer Lesley Crisp, said: “We are very pleased to be moving to Romford Library. “It is a very central location for our clients to come to. We believe our presence in the library will be beneficial both to us and library staff and customers.”
  • Herefordshire – Soft Market Test – Museums, Libraries and Archives – Contracts Finder. “This soft market test is being undertaken to gauge market interest in running all or elements of the museum, library and archive services which is currently operated by Herefordshire Council.
    The soft market exercise is intended to allow interested organisations with appropriate experience to outline their views and ideas about the future provision of these services. The council will consider the responses received as a result of this exercise to help inform the decision making process – ultimately assessing if there is appetite and potential for the services to be commissioned / transferred to an external organisation.”
  • North Somerset – Portishead Library opening hours to increase thanks to swipecard entry – North Somerset Times. “It will be first in the area to introduce a swipecard system so users can access it outside of normal opening times. It means from December the library will be available to use 78 hours a week, compared to 37.5 at present. Felicity Baker, North Somerset Council’s executive member for libraries, said: “Convenience is important and this will give people greater flexibility in how and when they use the service.”
  • Sandwell – Blackheath and Oldbury libraries to host special remembrance events – Halesowen News. “Every library in the borough will be putting up book displays, with each town will be hosting a special event. “
  • Suffolk – Literacy scheme Let’s Talk Reading helps soaring reading test results in IpswichIpswich Star. “The scheme is a partnership between schools, children’s centres and libraries, and aims to help support existing projects such as Chantry Academy’s Drop Everything and Read (which dedicates 10 minutes to reading for pleasure), and fund books in schools or new literacy projects. It is due to get £20,000 of grant funding from Ipswich Borough Council’s area committees.”
  • Suffolk – Plans to provide new library in Eye progressing well – Diss Express. “Suffolk County Council plans to sell the site of the current library, in Buckshorn Lane, and move to a brand new library in Cross Street.” … “It will be funded by the sale of the town’s current library, which has served the community for the best part of 40 years.And it also thought the new building will be more cost effective, and provide a better environment.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Dinas Powys library to celebrate anniversary of becoming community run with open day – Penarth Times. “Dinas Powys Library was handed over to volunteers by the Vale council in November last year as one of five Vale libraries to become community run in a bid to save the authority £500,000. To mark the occasion, Dinas Powys Library and Activity Centre will hold an open day on Saturday, November 18 between 10am and 3 pm. One of the star attractions is local author Cathy Farr who will be giving an author talk at 11.30am.”