It’s Valentines Day time and love is in the air. Included below is a short interview with Shirley Everall who was given the award a while ago for promoting Romances. It’s a section that gets some attention this time of year but remember, Romance is a section for all the year around, not just for Valentines.

I’d give to signal some love too to the libraries of the increasingly inappropriately named Reading Council, who are facing further cuts this year on top to previous ones. I know from emails received how hurt the staff are there and how they can see the service is being hollowed out, libraries kept open or no. The council makes no bones about placing the blame squarely on central government.  Mind you, a quick search shows the same council paid out over £4m in equal pay claims , with a provision of over £11m for it, plus £1.5m in legal fees battling the decision and, in addition, has recently paid £20 million on a big office block (the finances on this are really murky) so there’s perhaps a bit of blame for them too.

Finally, and I dread saying this, after the previous piece, but it needs saying, that, look, bad news gets the headlines. This is especially so on PLN as it’s a news compiler of media stories which are already biased towards bad news. “Libraries does well” does not get reported in the press so much but there’s still a lot of those around. I see some great examples of successful library services out there. The sad thing is that the recurring bad news more than camouflages this. But there is good news there, great librarians like Shirley Everall and, also reported on today, Dionne Hood, continue to do brilliant stuff. And my it looks fun. So I think we should remember that too. So my love to those suffering like Reading (and, yes, Northamptonshire, and Somerset and … look, I’m trying OK?) but also to those libraries still able to do the good stuff. The picture needs to include both.


Valentine’s Day special: a short interview with Shirley Everall, winner of the Romantic Novelist’s Association Librarian of the Year Award.

  • Why romance? Isn’t that a section that’s declining? There are a number of libraries in Hertfordshire where romance is still very popular. We have found that by offering romantic authors and a cup of tea we can attract a good audience into many of our libraries, even a few men have attended.
  • What sort of promotion have you done? As well as posters we have used social media, mainly Facebook. Also shared the information with the authors involved for them to promote using their resources. Also ensure that all of our reading groups are aware of any events being held. Posters are also shared electronically with local community groups. Obviously our biggest asset is our staff so they are asked to promote when they are in the library and if they are doing outreach events.
  • What was the most successful one? 3 authors, Jean Fullerton, Janet Gover and Liz Harris held an afternoon tea at Hoddesdon Library, where tea and cake were provided after the talk, 50 people attended and they had a waiting list of people who wanted to attend. Since that event Jean Fullerton has been a strong supporter of events in Hertfordshire, holding at least 4 other events for us and always attracting a good audience.

“50 people attended and they had a waiting list of people who wanted to attend”

  • How to do you measure success? Numbers attending is the obvious, but it is also great when you hear attendees saying they haven’t read that author before and are going to do so now. People who actually borrow books on the day and those who join as a result of an event. We hold an annual reading festival and people start asking in libraries a couple of months before about events.
  • What else have you, or your team, done that it would be good to share? We have been fortunate to work with Wizard Presents, they held a number of performances of I believe in unicorns in Hertfordshire Libraries a few years ago and last year we were really pleased when, as part of International Women’s Day, we had a performance or Perfectly Imperfect Women. We have also had performance by Librarians Theatre of Alice in the Cuckoo’s Nest over the last couple of months, which have attracted good audiences. We have started to run walking reading groups, where people are asked to read a book and then go for a walk near the library while discussing the book. These have been extremely popular. Working with a local publisher, No Exit Press, Harpenden Library have been involved in a One Book for Harpenden promotion, which began early December and we are following up with reading group events and with an event with the author in the library.

National news

  • Catalogue discoverability – a marked improvement? – Libraries Taskforce. “ur library system supplier, SirsiDynix, offers a service, BlueCloud Visibility, which involves the entire catalogue being downloaded to Zepheira. They convert it to Bibframe and make it available on the internet as part of a Library Link initiative along with the data from many other library services. We did this last year, sending updates twice a month. There was a small amount of set-up to do at our end; most of the required information about our libraries we had already set up for other “BlueCloud” facilities. We also had to get our respective IT departments to set up a URL for each authority to link to our catalogues. Though we share the library system and resources are available to all, we run 3 instances of the public facing catalogue to allow for corporate branding, specialisms and so forth. Now, when someone geographically within our authorities types a title into Google, our Library Link hit should be high on the list of hits.”
  • Librarian of the Year – Keighley News. Dionne Hood. “Bradford Council’s development officer for reading, won the accolade for her massive efforts organising events across 30 libraries. She was chosen after a vote at the Publishers Publicity Circle whose 450 members include publicists at leading publishers Little Brown, HarperCollins, Virago, Bloomsbury and Penguin. Dionne organises author readings, poetry readings, book signings, music events and talks for adults, as well as overseeing 102 book groups in the district.”
  • Tayside library books overdue since 1994 – Courier. “Libraries in Tayside and Fife have handed out more than £200,000 of fines in two years and are still awaiting the return of books borrowed nearly a quarter of a century ago, it has emerged.” … “we know that the prospect of a large fine often deters people from coming back and we want as many people as possible to use our services. “To allow customers to continue to borrow items, fines can be paid in instalments and readers can continue to use their library cards providing the amount they owe is under our threshold of £20.00.”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset Works begins on new-look One Stop Shop and library in Midsomer Norton – Bath Echo. “After listening to residents, the new-look library, when it opens at The Hollies, will have a wider selection of books and more shelving for easier access in a friendly and welcoming space. New technology will give better access to the vast catalogue of more than three million items and a redesigned children’s area will have comfy soft seating and fun educational features. Free WiFi, improved internet technology, improved access to printing including wireless technology as well as more comfortable seating and a quiet area to study are also part of the new-look library, which will also have more useable public space for events and creative workshops for the community to use.”
  • Bradford – Silsden children in rhyme challenge – Keighley News. “The sessions were staged as part of the Bradford Libraries Rhyme Challenge”
  • Buckinghamshire – Cabinet agrees first Budget without Government revenue support – Buckinghamshire County Council. “to protect libraries as community hubs, £100,000 has been earmarked from contingency funds to quash a proposal to reduce opening hours.”
  • Buckinghamshire – In Profile: Little Chalfont Community Library – Community Managed Libraries Network. “Over 50 unpaid volunteers manage and staff the library; The volunteers have received the Best Volunteering Group Award from Chiltern District Council, a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for volunteering groups, the High Sheriff’s Award for services to the community and our Chairman has been awarded an MBE for services to libraries; Grants have been obtained from a wide range of organisations; The library has around 12,000 stock items; £7000 is spent on new stock every year.”
  • Gwynedd – New chapter for Bala Library after £120,000 upgrade – Denbighshire Free Press. “After receiving a grant of £120,000 from the Welsh Government in order to renovate Bro Tegid Library in Bala, Gwynedd Council’s Library Service has reopened at its original site in Ysgol y Berwyn, following a temporary move to Penllyn Leisure Centre whilst work was being carried out at the library in the school.”
  • Kirklees – ‘Closing Batley Library will strip town of its heartbeart’ – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. The popular library and art gallery on Market Place has been threatened with closure since 2014 after the government slashed Kirklees Council’s budget.” A previous 11,000 name petition helped keep it open. Now, under threat again, another petition has been launched. Petition here.
  • North Tyneside – ‘We will save weekly bin collections and freeze council tax’ – say North Tyneside Tories – Chronicle. “Meanwhile, libraries are to have their opening hours reduced. The four main ones – at Killingworth, Wallsend, Whitley Bay and North Shields – will remain open five days a week and half a day on a Saturday, while smaller branch libraries will open two weekdays and half a day on Saturdays.” … “the council says these proposals are based on current levels of activity and “these small changes ensure all 14 libraries in the borough can remain open”. However Conservative councillors are opposing the plans and say they will find a way to freeze council tax, save weekly bin collections and keep libraries operating as they are now.”
  • Reading – Proposed Changes Across Reading Libraries in 2018 – Reading Council News. “Reading Borough Council is one of many local authorities with little option but to continue to make difficult budget decisions in order to balance the budget, which it has to by law.”
  • Reading – Reading libraries bear the brunt of funding cuts with hours to be reduced for second year – Get Reading. £217k cut: Six out of seven libraries in Reading will be affected, with only Southcote Library safe from the scheme. The proposals are to cut the opening hours Central Library in Abbey Square from 46 to 36 hours a week, Caversham Library in Church Street from 35 hours to 27 hours a week and Battle and Tilehurst Libraries from 27 hours a week to 22. Palmer Park Library in East Reading and Whitley Library also both face cuts of six and three hours a week respectively. Other organisations will be allowed to move into to Battle and Tilehurst Libraries after extensions are finished and the number of staff will be reduced.” see Library Service Offer 2018/19 Savings Proposals – Reading Council. “A comprehensive review of the Library Service in 2016 delivered £290,000 savings and a new agreed service model was implemented from April 2017. An additional £78 ,000 of savings were then identified which could be achieved through service efficiencies across 2017/18 and 2018/19 and these have also been delivered” [A quick search shows the same council paid out over £4m in equal pay claims , with a provision of over £11m for it, plus £1.5m in legal fees battling the decision and, in addition, has recently paid £20 million on a big office block – Ed.]
  • Somerset – Campaign to keep Wiveliscombe Library open – This is the West Country. “People in the town, business representatives and library users will be gathering at the protest in The Square next Wednesday (February 21) between 3pm and 4pm. Somerset County Council recently announced plans for the library to be run by a community partnership or to be replaced by a mobile service.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries creates LGBT book list to mark history month – EADT. “ibrarian Sophie Green, who has led the project, she said the chosen books all had LGBT relationships as a strong theme and were written by popular and well-reviewed authors.”
  • Trafford – Late book fines abolished at libraries in Altrincham, Hale and Timperley – Altrincham Today. “The move is part of a borough-wide initiative by Trafford Council designed to encourage more people to use libraries.”
  • Warrington – Coding clubs proving to be a big hit at town libraries – Warrington Guardian. “The Code Club has been introduced at LiveWire’s Lymm, Westbrook and Padgate library bases and is proving to be a big hit with every session fully booked and waiting lists being created to support the demand”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Councillor Lawrence O’Neill: Library cuts and consultation concerning – Clydebank Post. “Wednesday afternoon West Dunbartonshire’s corporate services committee considered the fate of our branch libraries, which, unless the administration pulled the proverbial rabbit out of a hat, will be decimated. More than 5,000 hours – more than 100 per week – will be slashed. Faifley’s hours will be cut from 37½ per week to a paltry 15, despite a report claiming an additional 30 minutes following the public consultation, which my Labour colleagues and I fought to extend.”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Go-ahead for West Dunbartonshire library hours to be cut by more than a quarter – Daily Record. “The SNP group agreed to make the cut after 400 people said the changes would mean they can no longer visit when they usually do.” 26% cut in opening hours. Decision made over Labour protests.
  • Wigan – Golborne Library giving readers Valentine’s treat – Leigh Journal. “Members of the library will be able to pick a surprise wrapped book on display with no indication of what genre it is. “