I don’t often entirely agree with Tim Coates.. Few public librarians do as he tends to blame the profession for its miseries, which, considering the budgetary reductions since 2010 is a hard line to take. However, he’s written an excellent piece in the BookSeller pointing out the dramatic reductions to bookfunds in the last decade. Tim has access to the full CIPFA figures for decades and so can do this sort of thing. Sadly, such statistics are barred from ordinary mortals by prohibitive (and ridiculous, considering CIPFA gets the figures for free) fees. But if they’re halfway correct then it shows the annihilation of bookfund in the UK which could go a significant way to explain why book issues have reduced so much in the same time. It’s hard to borrow something that’s not there.

In other news, the shocking lack of ethnic representation in children’s books – with only 1% of books published last year having a BAME main character – has been exposed in a new report. Perhaps public libraries could do something about that by selecting bookstock differently. That is, if they still have bookfunds. Finally, there’s been two lengthy reports emailed in about a film documentary of NYPL. It sounds like quite something. Catch it if you can.

National news

  • Award gives life-changing reconnection – CILIP. “Scotland’s first Library and Information Professional of the Year delivered an impassioned speech about the life-changing impact of the award at CILIP Conference 2018. Sally Walker, Children’s Librarian, Orkney Library and Archives, told delegates that she had suffered from “imposter syndrome” for many years and that winning the award helped her reconnect with the profession.”
  • Insight July 2018 – CollectionHQ. Includes article “Enter the Volunteers” looking at the UK move towards volunteer libraries [and quoting me a bit. Sorry – Ed.] and a look at US libraries which shows a very different approach to child/adult floorspace ratios than the UK. It also suggests a mix of floating (branch specific) and non-floating stock.

“We often used a 70/30 split for adult and children collections. We are now seeing smaller spaces allocated to print materials and children collections equal in size to the adult collection as a whole.” Deanna Rabago Lechman, Contra Costa County Library.

  • Libraries: talking stock – BookSeller / Tim Coates. “As public library sales went down over three decades, the executives of our leading publishers lost interest. Since 2000, annual revenues from library acquisitions have fallen from £80m to £30m. Publishers only receive half of that money, and so in their mind the public library service has become insignificant. Libraries last year bought only £160,000 of reference works for all the libraries in England; they bought £220,000 of children’s non-fiction, which is a meagre £90 per library; and they bought pitiful amounts of anything serious. In the US, the book fund for public libraries has not declined in 20 years, and now stands at around $1.1bn—which includes some $150m spent on digital content.”

“But the importance of libraries to publishers was never just in the sales they brought. The ability to give any person, at any point in their life, free access to a wide range of that which has been written is one of the cleverest inventions of the last few millennia. The value of the library is not just measured by whether a reader can afford to buy books, because no one wants to buy all the books they might want to look at for reasons of study, interest, information, or for fun. A library is just a brilliant way of making people aware of what is possible. The judgement of a library service’s success is simply whether we as a nation are, and want to be, civil, interested and educated. Any publisher can see that their market will prosper when those things are true.”

  • Poet in the City: collections in verse Libraries Taskforce. “Collections in Verse is an Arts Council England funded collaboration between the British Library and us, Poet in the City, designed to bring British Library (BL) exhibitions alive for audiences across the country and to help raise the profile of public libraries as homes for poetry and the performing arts. We will be using live poetry events and commissions to animate BL exhibitions in locally specific ways where physical touring of collections isn’t possible.”
  • Reflecting Realities – A Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature 2017 – CLPE. “There were 9115 childrens books published in the UK in 2017. Of these only 391 featured BAME characters. Only 4% of the childrens books published in 2017 featured BAME characters. Only 1% of the childrens books published in the UK in 2017 had a BAME main character. Over half the fiction books with BAME characters were defined as ‘contemporary realism’(books set in modern day landscapes/contexts). 10% of books with BAME characters contained ‘social justice’ issues. Only one book featuring a BAME character was defined as ‘comedy’. 26% of the non-fiction submissions were aimed at an ‘Early Years’ audience”
  • Thoughts from the CILIP Conference(ish) – LinkedIn.

Axiell Selflib
International news

Ex libris: the New York Public Library – Trailer.

“Dear Colleagues, I have just returned from seeing Frederick Wiseman’s three and a quarter hours documentary on the New York Public Library.   It is worth every minute and the best documentary film I have seen on the value and values of the public library service. It is not that widely released (I saw it at Nottingham’s European funded Broadway Cinema) but catch it if you can. It is full of good things. Watch out for a speech from Khalil Muhammad who, when the film was made, was Director of the Schomburg Centre for Research. He succinctly sets out the importance and significance of libraries in the modern world. There are also numerous examples of, and extracts from, programmes and events at the world famous building in Manhattan and at various branches throughout the city.

In addition, there are fascinating glimpses of management meetings where important professional and social issues are debated and discussed. At the time of the film (2015) the library had achieved a successful budget settlement and there was some emphasis on services to disadvantaged people and communities.  These US library professionals exhibited a passion, and reflected a belief in the significance of libraries to democracy, history, diversity and equality that is sadly missing from our Library Task force.  I hope someone will arrange to show it to them in the near future. I want to see it again and am trying to find out if there is a DVD version available which is suitable for my ancient Region 2 player.  Perhaps some CILIP Special Interest Groups or Member Networks could obtain copies to show around the country?  

Of course, as a recent issue of Library Journal indicates, things may now be rather different following the Trump administration’s call “for the defunding of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), as well as a number of other programs relevant to libraries.”  However, as one critic observed, “The New York Library is everything Trump doesn’t understand,”   Make no mistake,  this  film is essential viewing for all those of who believe in and care about libraries.  Do see it if you can. Don’t take my word for it but take a look at the Guardian article that brought it to my attention. It can be found at: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/sep/03/ex-libris-new-york-public-library-review-documentary-frederickwiseman

Bob Usherwood (on lis-pub-libs)

“Those of us lucky enough to see this 197 minute long film at the Watershed recently will remember the impressive opening by guest speaker, Richard Dawkins. Fifth Avenue Library holds a ‘Books at noon’ series held in an enormous building with an enormous number of young people in the audience. More ambitious than Bristol Central Library which also holds a free public lecture  session every Thursday at noon. The Bristol session is held in the lobby and a librarian who has to run around locking doors and finding chairs. But that does not deter from the inspiration of the public listening to a stimulating speaker.

During the film we were frequently reminded of the role of the public library  –  to extend the library service as a service for people…… Equally inspiring were the activities which take place in New York’s public libraries such as homework clubs and English as a second language sessions. These activities were based on computers. Adults helped indiviuals . The Guardian review (13 / 9 / 2017) reminded us of the ‘caring determined administrators’ who made us aware of the percentage of NY who live in digital darkness. Bristol administrators are equally helpful dealing with an increasingly stressed  public Funding?  Financing is arranged by a public / private partnership. That’s not new to the UK. Carnegie Libraries were privately funded, became public and then became a sports centre (London). Mark Twain funded a library in North London which lost its funding and currently kept alive by fund raising.

Surely Bristol can adopt the pro-active attitude of the 88 year old film maker, Ferederick Wiserman? Employing people to teach the ever changing computer system at all levels is a realistic suggestion. My companion, Dr Karen Bell, has a brother who works in a New York Library helping kids with their homework. She will meet him soon and hopefully come back to Bristol with more Enlightenment.” Bristol – Libraries are about people is the message of ‘Ex Libris: New York Library’ – Email received from Julie Boston.

  • USA – Do York Region public libraries need security guards to be safe? – Star. “It is a question that arose following an assault at the Aurora Public Library in June when a library staff member asked a female patron to turn down her music and the patron allegedly slapped the employee before assaulting an unidentified male and fleeing in a vehicle.”
  • USA – Public Libraries Launch ‘Culture Pass,’ Offering Free Admission Over To 30 NYC Museums – Broadway World. “Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), The New York Public Library (NYPL), and Queens Library today launched Culture Pass, a joint library-led, city-wide initiative providing free access to more than 30 museums and cultural institutions across all five boroughs available to every NYC library card holder.”
  • USA – Tales to Tails: Reading to Dogs in the Library – WCAI. ““Dogs are non-judgemental,” explained Matt MacNamara, the program evaluator. “They just accept people for who they are. If it’s somebody that doesn’t read well, they don’t make fun of them.” About forty kids arrived at the event and took turns sitting on the floor next to the dogs and reading aloud to them. Many parents watched from the sidelines”. Noted that the event is ideal for those with autism.


Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet Summer Reading Challenge – Times series.
  • Brighton and Hove – £50,000 in unpaid library fines owed as 22,000 books overdue – Argus. “Brighton and Hove City Council collected more than £80,000 in fines in the last financial year from library fines from errant borrowers. But figures show that more than £50,000 worth of fines were outstanding at the beginning of July. The Freedom of Information Act request by The Argus also revealed that a staggering 21,846 items are overdue from across the city’s 15 libraries.”
  • Cornwall – Camborne Council moves into library – Falmouth Packet. “Camborne Town Council has moved its offices to the landmark Passmore Edwards Library building following an extensive refurbishment. The move follows extensive refurbishment and repairs to the Grade II listed building which is an iconic landmark for the town. The library was transferred to the Town Council’s ownership last September as part of Cornwall Council’s devolution programme.”
  • Darlington – Campaigners lose court battle to save Darlington’s Crown Street Library – Northern Echo. “The case centred on whether or not the council had followed due process, with a particular focus on two consultation exercises and whether they had been carried out lawfully. Mrs Justice Whipple’s decision – announced on Monday – went in the authority’s favour and prompted Cllr Nick Wallis, who is leading the library plans on behalf of the council, to say that her judgement was a vindication of “the very thorough and careful work that has been undertaken throughout the process”. On behalf of campaigners, Nicholas Bowen QC had argued that they had been treated unfairly by the council in that they were not given enough time or support to develop an alternative business plan that would secure the future of the library at Crown Street.” … “Mrs Justice Whipple said he had conceded that such claims of unfair treatment were “doomed to failure because unfairness, even conspicuous unfairness, was not a proper ground of challenge in public law.”

“We will now contact the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to relay the judge’s findings. We will also seek to understand how they wish to resolve the outstanding complaint to DCMS over the proposed changes to the library service.”

  • Derbyshire – Move to hand 20 Derbyshire libraries over to community ‘would be devastating’ – Derbyshire Live. “Plans to pass 20 libraries over to community groups have been slammed by Derbyshire County Council’s Labour leader as “devastating”. The Conservative-run county council is set to launch a consultation into the future of its 45 libraries.”
  • Devon – The library service has lost its way – Facebook / Emily Garnham Wright. “An open letter to Libraries Unlimited South West, Library staff and Library members – some observations following the DCC Scrutiny Committee of 12th June”. Long post on problems in Barnstaple Library: at breaking point, frontline staff lost while manager points increase, non-fiction and local studies resources lost, space replaced by fablab, poor librar management system, question over where charitable donations end up, “gagging orders” for leaving staff, demoralised and micromanaged staff, insufficient training and lack of invertment on IT, staff cannot talk to Board directly, management seeing cutting staff as “low hanging fruit”. {Libraries Unlimited have been asked for comment and have promised a response – Ed.] Also available in full on UK Library News.
  • Fife – Volunteers start a new chapter in Pittenweem library’s story – Courier. “Volunteers and members involved in the library and information centre held a birthday party to look back at the first year’s successes. They were encouraged by guest speaker, poet and translator Anna Crowe from St Andrews, who emphasised the importance of encouraging reading at an early age.” … “Since reopening last July nearly 250 borrowers can now choose from more than 4,000 books, with many more titles ready to go on the shelves as space permits.”
  • Flintshire – Children invited to join Mischief Makers across Flintshire – Aura Wales.
  • Lincolnshire – Chance to be a mischief maker at Market Rasen Library – Market Rasen Mail.
  • Newham – Libraries in Newham are among the best in the country – Newham Recorder. “In the Library of the Year award last week, run by publisher The Bookseller, Newham Libraries, which manages the borough’s reading rooms, reached the top 10 shortlist, but missed out on first place to Liverpool Central Library.”
  • Norfolk – Reader Letter: Library dismay – Evening News 24. “In Norfolk, we have been fortunate to be spared the severe cuts experienced by other local authorities. Long may this continue to be the case and we urge Norfolk CC to think very carefully about the possibility of withdrawing the mobile library service on which many depend.”
  • Northamptonshire – Meeting over threatened Northants libraries – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “The voluntary groups bidding to take over the 20-plus Northamptonshire libraries threatened with closure will meet the council leader this week. After weeks of confusion and misunderstanding, Conservative county council leader Matt Golby will sit down with the groups on Wednesday (July 18) and explain to them what is happening.”
  • Reading – Reading Borough Council hopes to save more than £200k by cutting opening hours at six of the seven libraries – Reading Chronicle. “Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) policy committee agreed to reduce opening hours at six of the seven libraries, a move which could save the cash-strapped authority £211,000. The library cuts form part of the council’s latest batch of savings, with a predicted funding gap of £43.2m needing to be overturned.”
  • Richmond – Vacancy / Reading Manager – Richmond and Wandsworth. £35k to £41k p.a. “The Reading Manager plays a pivotal role in the delivery of children and adult reading services across the 12 public libraries in Richmond upon Thames.”
  • Sheffield – New chapter for Summer Reading Challenge – Star. “Last year, 4,108 children in Sheffield took part in the free, inclusive national event, designed to make reading fun. And this year, Gill Furniss, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, and chair of libraries APPG, is supporting the campaign – run by charity The Reading Agency – to encourage all primary school children to get involved.”
  • Staffordshire – Children invited to join Mischief Makers at Staffordshire’s libraries – Staffordshire Newsroom.