It looks like Northamptonshire is going to be split up, with the most likely option being commissioners coming in to take over the council services. It’s unclear what will happen to libraries – especially as they’re currently run by a mish-mash of council, university and NHS – but the next full council meeting on Thursday may give some idea. The first fun fact is that the chief executive who oversaw and created a lot of this mess was the first chair of the Libraries Taskforce and that his “outsource everythingapproach to life doubtless must have influenced it in some way, although from everything that I hear about him, I think he genuinely did care about libraries. Anyway, he’s now gone and hopefully the rush towards outsourcing, that has already taken a bashing with the demise of Carillion, has been further slowed by what has happened in his county. The next  Full Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday so we may hear more of what is happening to Northants libraries and their long-suffering staff and users.

Second fun fact is that the new Northants HQ. built with what is now becoming clear was a trademark lack of care to expense, will have some spare space in it. And possibly, due to the imminent end of the council, may all become spare space. Hmm, a big office building outside London suddenly becoming vacant. Perhaps this may be nice cheap accommodation for national organisations thinking of setting up in the capital. Just a thought.

Changes by authority

National news

  • Arts Council England consultation: opportunities for libraries Libraries Taskforce. “To find out how to feed your views in, and for further information on the consultations … Beyond the consultation, there is also a call for evidence.”
  • BIC criticises ‘confusing’ use of metadata fields for book promotion – Books and Publishing. “BIC issued a statement on 9 March in which it noted that some publishers and other metadata providers are using the subtitle fields—and sometimes the title fields—in metadata feeds to carry marketing and promotional text, including phrases such as ‘Sunday Times Best Seller’, ‘Gripping read from…” … “BIC said that this kind of promotional text is ‘not wanted’ by retailers or libraries and is ‘hugely confusing’ for book buyers, “
  • Cultural Health and Wellbeing Alliance – “The Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance is a new national organisation representing everyone who believes that cultural engagement and participation can transform our health and wellbeing.”. ACE funded but libraries not mentioned: mainly galleries and museums.
  • From Chester to Newcastle – Arts in Libraries are being embraced in the North – Libraries Taskforce. ” I hadn’t been quite prepared for the wide-ranging scope of ideas, activities and interventions taking place in libraries across the region – whether it’s been our own networking events in Chester, Leeds and Newcastle, or ACE’s funding sessions in Manchester or Hull, I’ve been blown away by the diverse range of exciting practice that highlights how libraries are embracing the opportunities that the arts give them to host innovative events, performances, exhibitions and participatory arts interventions. Some examples follow of how this is happening:”
  • School pupils bring the fight for school libraries to Theresa May – BookSeller. “A group of school pupils are to petition the prime minister to save school libraries arguing that “knowledge is not a privilege”.”
  • UKs best cities to live and work in revealed – Independent. “Other factors considered in the study included cultural services, such as libraries and theatres. In fourth place, Newcastle and Gateshead, which happen to rank ahead culturally – with 10.7 theatres and 68.6 libraries per million people.”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

Local news by authority

“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 12 March 2018 to Question 131194, how many representations he has received on Northamptonshire County Council‘s changes to its library provision.” Kevin Brennan, Shadow Minister

“Since the changes to the library service provision were agreed by the Full Council of Northamptonshire County Council on 28 February 2018, the Department has received at least 60 representations.” Matthew Hancock, Minister [! – Ed.].