I was asked this weekend why there’s only bad news in Public Libraries News. Well, there isn’t. A look at the stories today (and I’ve, honestly, not done a special feel-good edition) shows a 11:2 ratio of stories that are positive comparted to two which could be taken as negative in the national and international news. However, in the local news, the situation is reversed with the ratio being 13 :5  negative to positive.  Well, that’s interesting. I suspect part of the reversed polarity here is that, quite simply, there’s quite a few cuts going on in the UK when compared to elsewhere. Certainly, the news I see from the EU, Australia and New Zealand is almost all about investment and new ideas and even in Trumpian USA, there’s a more positive feel, although how long that will last is open to question. But I do do some editing – for example, I only cover a smattering of the enormous number of ACE-funded theatre shows in libraries covered because, well, it’s not really news to anyone else but those wanting to go. And I must admit to taking the decision to not cover the business event in Northamptonshire libraries, although perhaps I should have done (especially to balance out the unremitting disasters otherwise now associated with that borough once lauded as fantastic innovators) because there’s a ton of those as well everywhere. I just assume everyone knows they’re happening. So it’s bias but, hopefully, justified. Let me know if you think otherwise.

But, yes, there’s a lot of good stuff going in the UK too and it’s easy to forget that. In local news, it’s the bad stuff – the cuts – that gets the attention not the good. It’s like that phrase “If it bleeds, it leads” and that’s what PLN reflects when I summarise the reportage. I try to include both the good and the bad and while I once, yes, only really covered the bad news (PLN was described, approvingly as it happens, as “agitprop” in 2011) that’s no longer the case. If one wants a largely only a good news storyline then the Taskforce blog (and I’m not criticising them, I understand the reasoning and I’d do the same in their shows) is the way to go. I imagine Libraries Connected, if it ever does do news (and there’s not much of it at the mo) will be the same.

However, if you have good news to share – and I know many library authorities do – and you want it covered in PLN then I will. Do send in a few words (no more than 200) to me at ianlibrarian@live.co.uk and I will see what I can do.

By the way, a note on Devon having 60,000 new members reported last time. I think this is the gross figure but, overall, the loss of existing members means it has seen a reduction in gross terms: from 104,445 in 2015/16 to 98,412 in 2016/17 according to CIPFA.


National news

“One of the keys to understanding library use is that library use is a function of how much time people have and how much money they possess. If you have no time and lots of money then a public library is blatantly not for you. You will buy what you want and avoid taking the time out of your doubtless busy life to visit the library or jump a hurdle of two to borrow online. Good for you. It must be nice being such a small proportion of the population. Public libraries have never been for those people”

  • Children’s services and youth clubs lined up for cuts in ‘worst yet’ council austerity – I. “Bosses at local authorities have said that the “worst is yet to come” in cuts to services with libraries, public health, and highways and transport also in the firing line.”
  • Matilda’s new adventures at 30: astrophysicist, explorer or bookworm – Guardian. “To mark the 30th anniversary of the first publication of the book, three of these sketches will appear next month on the covers of special collectors’ editions, showing Matilda variously as an astrophysicist, a world traveller and as chief executive of the British Library. “Oh good,” Dr Matilda Wormwood is pictured thinking as a male library assistant brings her a huge pile of books: “Here’s one I haven’t read.””
  • Scenario planning in public libraries: a discussion – Public Library Quarterly.
  • Shortlist for the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award 2018 Announced – CILIP. “Three library services in Glasgow, Kirklees and Newcastle have been shortlisted for the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award for excellence and innovation in UK libraries. From helping people to get online and access essential digital services, to providing critical financial and legal advice, and bringing the joy of books to adults and children with diverse needs through multisensory storytelling, these three pieces of work showcase how libraries build successful partnerships make a positive impact in communities across the country.”
  • Taskforce meets in Warrington – Libraries Taskforce. “The 21st meeting of the Libraries Taskforce was held in Warrington. Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of Warrington Borough Council, and new chair of the Taskforce, welcomed us to Orford Jubilee Park. Opened by the Queen in her Golden Jubilee year, this complex located a couple of miles north of the city centre houses Orford Jubilee neighbourhood hub. It was fascinating to tour a building with so many services co-located, and see how they interlink to provide an overall place which contributes to the health and wellbeing of the community.” … ” They introduced the Livewire hubs with a quote from one of their users: “it’s like a supermarket for the mind, body and soul”. They talked about their integrated delivery model, which aims to open up the library to more users, provide longer opening hours, introduce new opportunities for partnerships, volunteering and collaboration, and offer potential income generation opportunities.”
  • #uklibchat – Accessibility in Libraries – Monday 1st October 7-8.30pm. “They discuss the impact of unexpected events and unwelcome trends on libraries’ future, explain the distinction between scenario work and forecasting, and outline a practical approach to devising and delivering scenario planning activities at a local library level.”
  • Word on Tour – Libraries Taskforce. “Word on Tour is a 26-venue live literature tour of libraries in south west England. It’s a partnership between SWRLS (The South Western Regional Library Service) and Literature Works, the regional literature development agency, and was funded by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund.” … “The tour showcases excellence: writers who have achieved a level of success and recognition. They are all based in south west England, so it’s also acted as a networking opportunity and a way to help build a supportive community of writers. Two writers performed at each tour date and we deliberately created unexpected pairings, mixing literary novelists with performance poets, writers of creative non-fiction, and even one singer-songwriter performing the poetry of Cornish poet, Charles Causley.”

Axiell Selflib
International news

  • Australia – New report shows Victorian public libraries benefit the community but need more funds to meet demand – SGS Economics and Planning. “New economic modelling by SGS Economics and Planning demonstrates that every dollar invested in Victorian public libraries generates $4.30 of benefits to the local community. ” … Prepared for the State Library Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria Network, the report ‘Libraries work : The socio-economic value of public libraries to Victorians’ shows that public libraries deliver significant economic and social benefit to the Victorian community, but library funding has not kept pace with demand. Victorian public libraries receive more than 30 million visits a year and are operated and mainly funded by local government, with 15% of funding from state government (2016-17).”
  • Australia – 10 reasons to visit the new Green Square Library – City of Sydney. Architecture, baby grand piano, views, music instrument lending, video game consoles, robotic/electronic kit loans, reading room, kids play area, computer training, wifi, film loans on “chips”.
  • Canada – Comic Shop Donates Nearly 300 Board Games to Public Libraries – Vocm. “Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries has launched a brand new board game lending service, thanks to a significant donation from Timemasters Inc.”
  • Eire – Irish people can soon use public libraries to record their own podcasts as €8m government funding confirmed – Irish Sun. “Minister for Rural Affairs and Community Development Michael Ring will this morning launch the fund which will be spread out amongst the country’s 309 libraries. The fund will be used to buy new tech equipment including iPads, interactive whiteboards and coding software. The bumper spend will also be used to buy podcast recording and editing equipment as part of a new move to enable the public to create their own audio shows in our libraries.”
  • Finland – The Evening of Wonders: celebrating the end of the summer at Iisalmi City Library – Naple Sister Libraries. “As the total amount of visitors in the library was over 1 500, we exceeded all our expectations. For me the most important thing is the general mood of the event. We could not have had a better start for the autumn and the positive atmosphere we got from “Ihmeiden ilta” will certainly continue far into the year 2019.”
  • Netherlands – The world’s best new library 2018 – Designing Libraries. “School 7 public library in the city of Den Helder, Netherlands, wins the 2018 award for Public Library of the Year. ” … ““We want everybody to feel at home in our library: children, adults, seniors, immigrants and people with language difficulties. School 7 is a real ‘third place’ where you can not only borrow books, but also work, read, take courses or attend activities. You can even get married in our atmosphere-laden theatre, or hold a birthday event in the café. Anything and everything is possible in School 7.””
  • USA – Nintendo Switch: A Guide for Public Libraries – Justin the Librarian.
  • USA – Worry Less About Crumbling Roads, More About Crumbling LibrariesAtlantic.Public institutions, such as libraries, schools, playgrounds, and athletic fields, are vital parts of the social infrastructure. So too are community gardens and other green spaces that invite people into the public realm …”

Local news by authority