To many of us not in the highest tiers of public  library management, the two day long SCL seminar, held this week in Warwick, maintains only a slight fascination, if we are aware of it at all. But the programme shows as well as anything what things chief librarians are interested in and the trends to watch. This year, also, will see the official launch of the new SCL logo and name, and it’ll be fascinating to see what reaction there is to that. Here are the things I’ve gleaned from the programme;

– The progress of the  Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Fund (LOFIE) programmes are, quite rightly being shared. There seems to be more sharing of the results of innovation than before, generally, in libraries, which is good.

– It looks like the libraries minister Michael Ellis is actually physically turning up. His presence has hardly been noticed in the sector since his appointment, apart from one phoned-in script-reading video message at a volunteer library seminar a month or two ago. I reckon it’s 50:50 if he’ll cancel, though (and not just because his train will probably be late).

– The digital side is being emphasised, although the benefits of reading (not “books”) is featured in some sessions.

– EU libraries are mentioned. The loss of EU membership is going to have an impact on public libraries but, as with everything else about the issue, exactly how is unclear.

– Volunteer (“community managed”) libraries get a session, although considering how big a part of the sector they are now (over 500 branches) this is hardly surprising. Similarly, the same can be said about staffless libraries, whose presence is increasingly being felt.

– Health and wellbeing is big. Very big. Huge.

But, really, do have a read for yourself, especially if you want to get a view for what’s big and trending with chief librarians at the moment.


National news

  • Creative Futures: Digital Solutions  – Society of Chief Librarians. Programme for this week’s two day SCL seminar, this year held in Warwick.
  • Eighty librarians condemn deal between Home Office and SCL – BookSeller. “Eighty library professionals have signed an open letter condemning a deal between the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and UK Visas and Immigration that will see libraries provide biometric visa support services.” … “In response to the letter, a spokesperson for SCL told The Bookseller the organisation believes the contract was an “important initiative” and that the Sopra Steria underwent the relevant checks by the Home Office before being awarded the contract.”
  • Helping children and young people to stay safe online and avoid fake news – Libraries Taskforce. Several examples. “Hampshire Libraries deliver courses and workshops under their Learning in Libraries programme which support parents and carers in managing the many challenges they face when their children access the internet. … Stoke-on-Trent Libraries have developed a series of e-safety themed sessions for different client groups and these include Looking After your Digital Footprint, Sharing Personal Information Online and Cyber Bullying. Library staff also deliver the CEOP (Child Exploitation Online Protection) Sessions in schools, to community groups and parents and carers.” … “Now more than ever libraries and Schools’ Library Services need to be at the forefront of helping everyone to stay safe online and to navigate the wealth of information from online sources and social media.”
  • How digital content is helping secure the future of libraries – BookSeller. “With public funding reductions in the UK, librarians face a renewed sense of urgency to ensure they provide useful, reliable and timely collections that connect readers with authors and titles. Libraries allocate significant budget and staff to enable readers to discover and benefit from as many books and reading options as possible – whether it’s childhood or adult literacy programs, encouragement for those seeking to learn English as a second language, or for students or business owners to achieve success from the knowledge contained in books. Thankfully, digital library resources can help achieve all these aims. They are growing across the country. And they’re also contributing to the future of the wider book trade in three key ways.” … “By driving discovery in the book industry”, “By opening new channels for publishers”, “By giving local communities a new way to interact “
  • Introducing the new Director of Libraries, and the National Portfolio programme – Libraries Taskforce. “I hope this will herald great things for public libraries, with these six services acting as beacons of excellence. They will be supported by existing NPOs and the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) in its new role as a Sector Support Organisation with the ability to deliver Arts Council goals and prorities across the library sector. SCL is a key partner for the Arts Council, with our investment enabling its development, and it joins the National Portfolio with a new chief executive and supporting team.”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Canada – Marc Richardson: Never mind America, let’s make libraries great again – Montreal Gazette. “The library is no longer a place to only borrow books, though you can still do that there. Instead, it embodies the type of social library the Finns love. It’s a place to take in a play or concert, to work remotely or to learn new skills in innovative environments like Benny’s new “FabLab,” where participants can learn to program or use a 3D printer. Ultimately, it’s all part of a shift toward the future and away from the stuffy, silent libraries of decades past. ore important, though, the buildings themselves are welcoming.”
  • Malawi – Books and libraries – a reason to celebrate – Princh. ” in Malawi and many other parts of the world, books can be incredibly hard to access as they are too expensive for the average person to purchase. In these circumstances, a library is often the best or only place for people from all walks of life to access books.
  • USA – Baltimore library system ends fines for overdue materials – Daily Mail. “The system is giving up around $100,000 in late fees collected annually, but will continue charging borrowers to replace books never returned. Daniel says they’ve found fines disproportionately affect lower-income users, and impose a barrier to access, particularly for children and teens. And he says other libraries have reported higher circulation since abolishing fines.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet library lease plans dropped – Times series. “South London-based company Wimbletech had planned to rent out desks in three of the borough’s library buildings – East Finchley, North Finchley and Chipping Barnet – under its Workary scheme. But the firm has decided not to pursue the council-backed plan and will instead seek to create a community space in an alternative location. Campaign group Save Barnet Libraries (SBL) thanked residents who responded to its call to write to Wimbletech and chair of the council’s communities committee Cllr Reuben Thompstone expressing their opposition to the proposals.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Everything you need to know about the new libraries coming to North East Somerset – Somerset Live. “Councillor Karen Warrington, cabinet member for transformation and customer services, said: “Footfall in libraries is dropping. People use books differently now.” … ““In many villages you have defunct phone boxes that have become lending libraries – it’s obviously something people want.” [! – Ed].
  • Borders – Anger over plan for pupils to replace librarians TES. “Plans for pupils to replace school librarians in one Scottish local authority have been roundly attacked and described as “the first step in getting rid of school libraries altogether”. On Friday, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) sent an open letter to Tracey Logan, chief executive of Scottish Borders Council, after learning of the plans.” see also Borders council chiefs defend school library plans – Southern Reporter. “This was based upon feedback from young people pushing for more modernised and digitally-available learning.”
  • Derby – Second city library to be turned over to Derby charity – Derbyshire Live. “pondon Library will become run by Direct Help and Advice (DHA) from Monday, June 25. “
  • East Sussex – Plans for a community library move forwards Hastings Observer. “East Sussex County Council is recommending approval of the plan for a community library at Ore, with a final decision to be taken by the lead member for resources in June. It is also recommending approval of plans for community libraries at three other facilities it either owns or leases – Pevensey Bay, Polegate and Willingdon. The libraries are among seven which closed earlier this month following a major service review prompted by the need to save money due to Government funding cuts.”
  • Greenwich – Award-winning author is Greenwich Libraries Writer in Residence – GLL (press release). “Leone Ross, author and creative writing lecturer, said: “I am excited to be the City of Stories Writer in Residence in Greenwich. It’s good to walk into a humming, busy, community-strong library. I don’t think I can promise inspiration – everyone finds that in their own way. But if I can pass on a little knowledge about writing craft – and do a lot of listening to other people’s stories – I will be happy. People need others to bear witness. Storytelling is one of the most important ways to know that we’re alive.”
  • Lancashire / Lincolnshire – Lancs and Lincs – Christina James. “I’d been invited by the Friends of Adlington Library, an energetic and committed group who have put a huge amount of effort into keeping the library open after government cuts. I’ve already written about local determination to keep underfunded, understaffed library services open in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire. Lancashire is encountering similar problems and fighting back with just as much dedication.” … “Gainsborough’s library earned the unique distinction of providing me with an audience that expanded during the afternoon, drawing in more and more people as the session unfolded! The library itself is a building of palatial proportions – huge for a small town – and the librarians make excellent use of the space they are able to command. The event ran on way past the allocated time, until eventually we were invaded by a party of primary school children who had come for a reading session.”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries aim to inspire you to learn during the Festival of Learning Harrogate News. “North Yorkshire libraries are setting out to inspire people of all ages to have a go at learning something new during the Festival of Learning from 19 to 25 June.”
  • Rochdale – Libraries turn over a new leaf as audiobooks made available free to all Rochdale Online. “Local library customers now have free access to an extensive range of bestselling audiobook titles from crime to romance and thrillers to non-fiction. The largest selection is at Rochdale Central Library but any title can be reserved online or in person, for collection at any of the borough’s 17 libraries. Previously the audiobook collection, to which new titles are added every month, had only been available for free loan to people who are blind or partially sighted.”