Kathy Settle has left the Taskforce. In the process, I believe, meaning the team is cut down to just four to cope with what ‘s needed, including a new libraries minister. During her time, the Taskforce has done a ton of meetings, seminars and tried – without any formal powers – to pull together an idea of what is needed for libraries and to try to start getting it done. And quite a lot needs to. Some of those things – notably around trusts and volunteer libraries – has not met with universal acclaim but in such a controversial and heated sphere as this, that’s hardly surprising, especially when one considers that the Taskforce is basically Civil Service, with all that implies. With a revitalised CILIP and an expanded soon-to-be-charity SCL this year, the question will be which, or if, of these tasks moves out of the realm of the Taskforce on to others. It’s also been good to see the ACE chief showing an interest. The decision not to appoint a replacement but to have her role added to another within the Taskforce shows that expansion may not be in the works. What else is in the works remains a topic of interest.

The decision to remove all fines in Trafford has had a wide press, breaking out into the national media, and has raised much conversation online. I’m aware that there are strong factors why libraries still charge (not least finance departments who insist they do) but it looks like the time is coming for change. I’ve written a separate post, which I’m going to admit to being very proud of, called So you’re dependent on fines: The seven step plan to removing your addiction  which I naturally recommend you read. I’ve tried to keep it fun and thought-provoking. and it’s quite short too

Happy to discuss more, on anything, either through the comments or at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk.


Library fines

  • Fines – GitHub Gist. A spreadsheet showing the wide variance in fines in the UK, from 50p per week to 50p per day, plus also some which do not levy fines.
  • So you’re dependent on fines: The seven step plan to removing your addiction – Public Libraries News. “Look, Mrs Public Library Service, I’ve been a friend of yours for years now and as a friend, I need to talk to you. The truth is, and I’m sorry to say this because I know how much it will hurt, you are addicted. To fines. Like any addiction, it’s going to be hard for you to break out of their dependence. But the good news is that there are ways out. We library systems who are on the path out of addiction are here for you. We even have a step-by-step plan …”

“It may cost more to collect fines than you actually take in, especially in staff time. What else could we do with that time?” Twitter conversation at ALA Midwinter (USA) yesterday.  Good thread.

“Serious talk about reducing shame — people coming in, saying they were so glad they could finally come back. ” – Twitter.

“Digital materials don’t incur overdue fines; fines on physical materials exacerbate the inequitable impacts of the digital divide. – ”  Twitter

  • Library fines to be scrapped ‘permanently’ in Trafford – BookSeller. “Trafford Council has become the first public library authority to scrap fines for late returns in a bid encourage more people to use the services….
  • Trafford becomes first UK council to abolish all library fines – Guardian. “Library members in Trafford who have mislaid their copies of Harry Potter or Stephen King will no longer have to fear financial punishment after the council announced that it would be abolishing library fines altogether” … “The council said: “This change also aligns with the Vision 2031 ambition of ‘no one held back, no one left behind’ as there would be no barriers, either actual or perceived, of people accessing libraries and all they had to offer.”” … “Some councillors had raised fears that the abolition could lead to more books going unreturned. But Anstee called it “a trust thing”, adding: “We don’t have an issue with people retaining books at the moment and if we didn’t have a book returned, that person’s ability to borrow more books would be removed.” He pointed to “anecdotal evidence from Bolton, which abolished fines for under 16s a couple of years ago and saw usage go up”. Anstee added that the council had only made around £30,000 a year from library fines, which had a maximum of £10.” see also Council axes fines for overdue library books – Belfast Telegraph and Council axes fines for overdue library books – Express and Star.

“Libraries are unique public spaces providing free access to reading and learning,” said chief executive Nick Poole. “They are there for everyone, and anything that removes barriers to joining and using the library is very welcome. Trafford council’s announcement to abolish library fines for all ages is an exceptional development. As long as sums add up then we would like to see all libraries taking similar steps to encourage more members and more reading.”

National news

  • 2017 report card – and looking forward to 2018 – Libraries Taskforce. “Kim Bromley-Derry, Chair of the Libraries Taskforce, shares his reflections on 2017 and looks ahead to a packed work programme in 2018” … “It’s always healthy to get a churn of members on any group to bring in new thoughts and ideas” … “We’ll shortly publish our action plan covering 2018 through to 2020” … “From where I sit as a local authority Chief Executive, I’m particularly keen to develop the work the Taskforce has started to help position libraries and what they do more strongly in the minds of those delivering other strategic services and outcomes”

“Settle, who has been the Taskforce’s Chief Executive since its inception, has decided the time is right for her to move on too, at the end of March 2018. There will be plenty of time to put on record our thanks to Kathy for all her hard work and leadership over the past three years – especially when I know she only signed up to the role for one year originally”

  • Introducing the new Libraries Minister – Libraries Taskforce. “Michael Ellis MP, the new Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Arts, Heritage and Tourism – and Libraries Minister – writes about libraries, and mentions libraries he has visited around the country since starting his role” .. “We will continue to put the case for the potential of libraries to deliver” … “To put a case most effectively, we need robust evidence” … “My Department’s role in relation to libraries includes to superintend and promote the improvement of public library services provided by local authorities in England. I take this seriously, and we monitor library services to ensure that local authorities are compliant with their statutory duties.”. Visited several libraries.

“I’m proud of the way libraries help people to help themselves, bring people together, and provide practical support and guidance. I’m committed to getting that message across to people at all levels, whether in central government, councils or in other public services. I want all decision makers to understand the different ways that libraries can be used to support local communities.” Michael Ellis MP

  • National Library of Wales in denial about cuts, AMs warn – BBC. “The Aberystwyth-based library’s four-year plan is reliant on continuing levels of Welsh Government funding and an additional £1m income a year. An assembly committee said this and a generous pensions scheme was putting its financial stability at risk.”

CILIP would like to thank Kathy Settle for her leadership of the Libraries Taskforce and to acknowledge everything that she has achieved in the role. She has brought her experience in driving large-scale change across Government to the challenge of library sector development and has been tireless in securing recognition of public libraries in cross-Departmental strategies and priorities. We hope that she will continue to advocate for the good that libraries do in her future work.  

Kathy’s departure is an opportune moment to reflect on the Taskforce’s accomplishments to date and to look ahead to the long-term leadership of the sector. We continue to face significant challenges, particularly the lack of a fair financial settlement for Local Government and the adoption of models of service delivery which may not deliver the quality, equality or accountability which taxpayers have a right to expect.  

Public librarians continue to do brilliant work every day enriching their communities, strengthening local economies and helping people to develop digital skills as well as a love of books and reading. Working with the other Taskforce member organisations, CILIP will ensure that the vibrant local work that libraries do is recognised and supported in national policy and investment.” CILIP statement on the leaving of Kath Settle

An online bookclub from Axiell International news

Local news by authority

  • Bristol – We can save Bristol’s libraries, parks and create new school places – Lib Dems claim – Bristol Post. “Bristol can keep all of its libraries, parks funding and create new school places with a few budget tweaks, one political group is claiming. The Liberal Democrats say it has found a way to save Bristol City Council £50million over the next five years by cutting back on contingency funding and borrowing. The group claim it will allow the council to invest an extra £6million into parks and libraries, £6million in to new primary schools and £1.9million into social care by 2023.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Cambridgeshire libraries to get new lease of life – Cambridge Independent. “A plan by the county council, set to be discussed at the highways and community infrastructure committee meeting next week, would make libraries the destination for a range of “tailored services”.”
  • Cornwall – Town council aims to take over library service in the next financial year – Bude and Stratton Post. “Bude-Stratton Town Council agreed on the business case of taking over the running of the town’s library at its latest full council meeting on Thursday, February 1. The town council has been discussing ways in which it could possibly take on the town’s library.”
  • Derby – £160,000 to be spent on three of Derby’s remaining libraries – Derby Telegraph. “Around £160,000 is set to be spent refurbishing three council-run city libraries. In July 2017, Derby City Council announced that from April this year it would only maintain five city libraries and offer the other 10 to community groups to run. The move could cost up to 41 library staff their jobs but the council would save around £700,000 a year.”
  • Dorset – Book a date to see play on pioneering fossil hunter – Bridport News. Touring theatre shows in libraries. “Performances are part of the company’s Library Live project, which is funded by Crowdfunder. “
  • Herefordshire – Investment of £60,000 approved for Ross-on-Wye library – Ledbury Reporter. “almost £60,000 has been allocated to be spent on improvements at Ross-on-Wye library. The money will be spent on providing a kitchen for hire use, a new meeting room, a reduction in counter size and the relocation of desks. Herefordshire Council, which is providing the investment, hopes that the changes will result in the building being used to generate income through further hire use. The council has chosen Owen Pell Ltd to carry out the work for £57,687.80. The council has allocated a total of £97,000 to spend on the libraries in Ross, Leominster and Belmont.”
  • Hillingdon – Hillingdon Libraries launch the first Tovertafel in a public library – Libraries Taskforce. “So what is the Tovertafel? It is a ceiling mounted projector that projects light games onto a standard everyday table. People can interact with the images of the games using their hands and arms. It was developed in Holland by as part of PhD research by Hester Le Riche at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). It is made by Active Cues and distributed in the UK by Shift 8. I came to hear about it when it was demonstrated in a meeting of the Hillingdon Dementia Alliance, which consists of 28 local organisations working towards creating a dementia friendly community.”
  • Kirklees – Colne Valley landmark gets massive cash boost – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “A Colne Valley landmark has been given a £65,000 boost for vital renovation work and secure the future of the library based there. Marsden Mechanics is receiving the cash from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to reorganise its ground floor.” … “The alterations will include the full refurbishment of the library – complete with a beautiful new curved ceiling – the creation of two new offices and new signs and lights outside.”
  • Lancashire – Mobile library service delivers books to residents’ homes – Lancashire Telegraph. “Lancashire County Council’s six mobile libraries reach reach some of the most remote parts of the county, and are particularly important for people who would find it difficult to travel to their nearest library”
  • Leicester – Rushey Mead library Campaigners refuse to accept council plan – so they draw up their own – Leicester Mercury. “Campaigners fighting to save a Leicester library from closure have drawn up their own plans to refurbish and expand it. Residents in Rushey Mead say Leicester City Council has made a mistake with its decision to close the library building in Lockerbie Avenue, and move the service into the nearby city council-run recreation centre.” … “The council has said it will invest £100,000 in improving the recreation centre but we think that money could be used to extend the library to create a new hall that everyone could be use.””
  • Lincolnshire – New free courses being run at Boston Library – Boston Standard. “The project, known as Forging Lincs aims to provide free tutor-led courses to develop digital skills for the people of Lincolnshire”
  • Manchester – Safer sex history takes centre stage in new LGBT Arts Project – LGBT Foundation. At Manchester Central Library “The Heritage Lottery supported project delves into the dramatic journey of Greater Manchester LGBT communities fusing art, history and stories of personal lived experiences to highlight stories of campaigning and activism around sexual health over the past 30 years. “
  • Northamptonshire – Opinion: Why the leader of Northamptonshire County Council has to resign – Daventry Express. “Later, a leaked email sent by Councillor Smith to her Conservative colleagues revealed that the party had timed the controversial announcements over cuts to library services, trading standards and highways to avoid damaging the party’s chances in the 2019 Northampton Borough Council elections.” see also No-confidence motion in Northants county council defeated as library closures are debated – Northants Telegraph.
  • North Lanarkshire – Library under threat of closure … again – Motherwell Times. Newarthill: “The Motherwell Times understands though that the council is unwilling to add the library to its property portfolio, while Culture NL is unwilling to take it back leaving the village facility in limbo.”
  • North Somerset – Libraries face uncertain future as council seeks cuts – North Somerset Times. “Critics have slammed the proposal which they fear will prevent elderly people from accessing key services and lead to fewer children reading books. The council plans to relocate the towns’ library services to smaller premises, but Long Ashton readers face having to use a mobile service in future.”
  • Reading – Reading Borough Council will meet on February 19 to discuss the latest batch of savings – Reading Chronicle. “Reading Borough Council will consider a 5.99 per cent increase – the maximum before a referendum is held – along with cutting library services in order to bridge a predicted gap of £43.2m by 2020/21. ” … “Although all seven libraries will remain open under the new proposals, savings of £217,000 will be made by cutting opening hours by more than 20 per cent. “
  • Somerset – Letters: ‘Don’t let libraries be lost to the Somerset landscape’ – Somerset County Gazette. “Throughout Somerset, just like those orchards of yesteryear, our libraries face the prospect of being progressively closed or handed over to community volunteers in the effort to save between £300 and £500k in running costs, and many of the smaller branches could be affected”
  • Somerset – Save our library: Residents set up campaign to save Highbridge Library – This is the West Country. “More than 20 library staff and residents attended a meeting at Highbridge Social Club on Thursday night (February 8) and spoke passionately about saving the town’s library.  Dave Chapple, secretary of Bridgwater Trades Union Council, who chaired the meeting, said: “The local campaign group will maximise the pressure on Somerset County Council to ensure Highbridge Library remains open as a professional and directly staffed facility.” see also Save Highbridge Library. Campaign group launches to halt closure plan – Burnham on Sea. 20 people attended meeting and People urged to join fight against library closure – Mercury.
  • Warrington – Sharing the story of much-loved dad who helped save Grappenhall Library – Warrington Guardian. “A volunteer who devised a novel idea to save one of the town’s libraries will be remembered after a community orchard was planted in his memory. Dad-of-two John Ashby, who died from cancer in September 2016 aged 69, was instrumental in securing the future of Grappenhall Library, on Albert Road, which marks its sixth anniversary this month.”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Councillors could add £200K to budget gap with library timetable plans – Daily Record. “Councillors have been warned that if they reject a new reduced library timetable for West Dunbartonshire they’ll add more than £200,000 to the council’s budget gap. That’s because a controversial proposal to slash library hours by around 100 hours – which will only be decided by members at a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) – has already been built into the council’s budget for the next financial year”
  • Worcestershire – Redditch Library to close for two weeks as part of Jobcentre Plus merger – Advertiser. “”We’ve already seen successful co-locations with job centres at Malvern Library and Bromsgrove Parkside, which have both benefitted from upgraded library facilities and an increase in library customers.” As well as it housing the Jobcentre Plus the library will have new furniture, carpets and decoration.”