Ooh, so much to talk about today. The bigotry of American fundamentalist Christians when it comes to any view but theirs continues to be in evidence, with one of their number literally burning books to make his point. There’s a not very good historic precedent about that somewhere.

Thankfully we don’t tend to do that here. What we do in this country, and do very well – someone eviller than I would comment we’ve had years of practice –  is procrastinate. Which can annoy. Like for instance, the way it can annoy Michael Rosen who is completely banging his head against the wall of government inactivity when it comes to trying to get them to make every child have a library card. Now, I know it’s not as easy as all that – “you can lead a horse to water” etc, oh, and GDPR – but it’s such a basic move and I can remember listening to Mr Rosen talking about it several years ago in the presence of a schools minister (Nick Gibb I think) who then spent half an hour talking about how great synthetic phonics was, to the collective groaning of his whole audience.

Then we have the “single digital presence”, of which no-one knows quite what it is but there’s been reports written on it since at least 2005. I wish the British Library good luck, and they mean well, but I think it’s going to be a challenge to get meaningful national action, especially in the aforesaid absence of a government willing to do anything meaningful. Perhaps the best we can hope for is that groundwork will be laid for when/if we have a change in government next election. Well, we’ve waited 13 years already, what’s a few more?

Finally, there’s a review of the Universal Offers going on. I don’t have much to say about that other than hope against hope that not more Offers are added. Heaven knows, I find it hard enough to remember all eight now.  Can you? Go on, test yourself. Write down what your remember and see what your score says about you with the fun guide at the bottom of this post.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • 11 services that libraries can provide to help local businesses and entrepreneurs – Princh. “These are only a few examples of how libraries target small businesses and entrepreneurs. There are many other ideas that can be beneficial for them. As we have previously mentioned, the first step to gaining new users is to by targeting the message to the different community segments.”
  • Dear Damian Hinds, What’s so difficult about giving every child a library ticket? – Guardian / Michael Rosen. “Haven’t you and your minister Nick Gibb noticed: lately the library service has been decimated? Then, with what’s left of libraries, instead of putting a library ticket into every child’s hand, you say limply “we are asking …”. The research and the desire are there. The organisations are there, too, but are fragmented. Meanwhile, thousands of children are untouched by any process that would put books into their hands. Changing that involves bringing organisations together, listening to them, and backing their ideas with serious money. It’s not the way anyone in your job has behaved in the last 40 years but maybe it’s time to give it a go.” [When I tweeted about this, I had an email from a librarian saying they tried it and it was actually quite hard to sign up everyone in their service, with many already being non-using library card holders – Ed.]
  • Inside the bookshops and libraries of Scotland – BBC. “A total of 30 libraries closed in Scotland last year, up from 15 the year before.” … “Mobile libraries play a critical role in the Outer Hebrides. “
  • Libraries Connected announce Universal Offer review – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected launch their Universal Offers review today. After a competitive tender process, Shared Intelligence have been commissioned to undertake the review which will involve extensive consultation with heads of library services, library staff and stakeholders.”
  • The Single Digital Presence for public libraries: our research so far – British Library. “Working with public libraries across the UK, we’re lucky enough to have lots of inspiring conversations with inspiring librarians about libraries, their value and their future. One of the questions we get asked most frequently– and it is also a question we frequently ask ourselves – So what is a ‘Single Digital Presence’?”
  • Strong economic case for taking VAT off digital publications, report finds – BookSeller. “Moreover the expense would be offset by savings to the Exchequer of an estimated £50m-£55m per year from publicly funded institutions – such as libraries – buying VAT-free digital publications more cheaply. “
  • Witnessing Loss in the Everyday: Community Buildings in Austerity Britain – Research Online. “This article is concerned with what happens to precarious community buildings in times of austerity. It responds to a landscape of capitalist realism, in which instrumental, economic forms of value are mobilised to justify the closure of ordinary buildings whose survival is not identified as a political priority. We focus on two London cases of a library and an elderly day centre under threat of closure, and trace how grammars of austerity rendered these buildings substitutable”

Axiell Selflib

International news

  • Canada – Simply put, libraries are incredible – National Post. “It’s the first floor, however, that contains the most action: students clamour around laptops, barely suppressing laughter; an Indian couple chat with a woman at the Newcomers to Canada” kiosk; and a man furtively argues with his partner on a payphone by the restrooms. At the centre of the main floor, study carrels with computers are arranged in a circle. It’s here where a 56-year-old homeless woman has been camped out since noon, with several duffel bags nestled at her nook”
  • New Zealand – Christchurch central library opens – Designing Libraries. “As well as housing more than 180,000 items, Tūranga holds a suite of technology features including New Zealand’s largest digital touch-screen, the Discovery Wall, on the ground floor which allows users to swipe through a virtual world of photos, videos and information. There is also a music studio, video editing suite, 3D printing, robotics, exhibition spaces, a conference room, café, community arena, youth space and a children’s play area.”
  • USA – Iowa man burns children’s books from public library to protest Orange City Pride – Des Moines Register. “The 27-minute video ends with Dorr throwing at least four books with LGBTQ themes that he claimed he rented from the public library into a burning trash can. Dorr is the director of Rescue The Perishing, a religious group and website he calls a “crisis center and pro-life, pro-family movement.” [Good grief -ed].

Local news by authority

  • Croydon – Charity worker named winner of short story competition – Inside Croydon. “Torr and the other 20 winners will also have the chance to read their stories at open mic events in libraries across London next month and will attend a writers’ development day. Ruth Harrison, the director of organisers Spread the Word, said: “It’s been fantastic to see how Londoners have responded to City of Stories – showing a real appetite to engage with and develop their writing and short stories in local libraries, such as Croydon Central Library.”
  • Cumbria – Library hours petition presented to council – Times and Star. “Two Cockermouth mums presented a 442-name petition to the town council, calling for the library to extend its opening hours. Grace Bennion and Hilary Royston-Bishop handed over the document to mayor David Malloy at a council meeting on Wednesday. Grace said to members: “Thank you for saving the library, we realise this is a big financial commitment. “We have had a lot of support from families who want to use the library but currently cannot.”
  • Glasgow – Cardonald Library re-opens after near £1 million makeover – Evening Times. “Cardonald Library is now home to more than 56,000 books, a flexible community space and a colourful children’s area, after a £930,360 revamp. And with more than 131,000 visits made to Cardonald Library in the 12 months to December 2017, hundreds of local residents are expected to join in celebrations.”
  • Hampshire – Library visitor numbers drop, new figures reveal – Andover Advertiser. “The 2017/18 year, saw a drop of 7.3 per cent, with 182,169 visitors. However, the first quarter of the 2018/19 year saw an increase in visitors by two per cent. Currently the library is undergoing a £316,000 renovation to improve the facility with limited opening hours in place until a full closure in December”
  • Hertfordshire – Conservatives high risk library strategy to be funded by tax cuts – Chris White. “At Thursday’s meeting of the County Council’s Education, Localism and Libraries Panel, Liberal Democrats voted against the Conservative Group’s proposals to set up an independent charitable organisation to run its Library Service. This new service should be viable only because it will not have to pay £1/2 million business rates, which would otherwise have in part provided income to all the District Councils in the County.” see also Libraries could be run by an outside provider to save £50k – Hemel Today. “The running of Hertfordshire libraries could be contracted to a outside provider, as part of a drive to save £500,000. But the County Council – which currently runs the library service – is set to establish a ‘public service mutual’, which would be among the bidders to run the service.”
  • Lincolnshire – Extended opening hours for Deepings library – Rutland and Stamford Mercury. “Book-lovers were thrilled to learn that Deepings Community Library is celebrating its birthday by extending its opening hours. The volunteer-run library will celebrate its 46th anniversary in the High Street premises tomorrow” … “It reopened in January 2016 under the leadership of a community group after Lincolnshire County Council withdrew its funding. Until now it has been open for 24 hours each week, closing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday afternoons. But as its popularity soars, the volunteers have been able to extend the opening hours and it will now open on Tuesdays and Saturday afternoons as well.” … “The library attracts between 2,500 and 3,000 users each month. Dozens of new members also sign up each month.”
  • Newcastle – Say NO to the Plans for Fenham Library – Change.org. “We are against the plans to turn Fenham Library into a rehabilitation centre for individuals with drug and alcohol addiction. The library is an important facility within half a mile radius of 6 local schools, indeed it is on the doorstep of Sacred Heart RC Primary School and the girl’s High School, in the very heart of our community.”
  • Powys – Controversial Library consultation begins – My Welshpool. “Residents from the Welshpool area can have their say on the county council’s plans for moving the library in with Powysland Museum. The move would allow council staff to switch to the library building from Neuadd Maldwyn which is being sold off. A consultation launched today will last until November 25.” see also Powys County Council’s Welshpool Library survey labelled as “blackmail” as consultation into closure or merger with Powysland Museum begins – County Times. “The council are saying that if you don’t let us merge them together, we’re going to lose one or the other.”
  • Sheffield – Group committed to providing ‘vibrant community hub’ after bar company pulls out of Sheffield library plans – Star.  “the volunteers who saved the Grade-II listed facility three years ago, said they remained determined to continue to provide for the community.. Chris Reece, WCL, chairman, said the group was ‘disappointed’ that the café and bar plans would no longer be part of the transformation but added talks were continuing with Sheffield Council and Heritage Lottery Fund about further grant funding.”
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire Remembers campaign – Libraries Taskforce. “People from across Staffordshire are being invited by Staffordshire Libraries and Arts Service to create a poppy to be part of an installation to commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War. This will be displayed at Staffordshire Place, the council headquarters.”
  • Suffolk – Karen Cannard reviews QuirkHouse Theatre Company’s Talking in the Library in Stowmarket – Bury Free Press. ” Stowmarket Library played host to the QuirkHouse Theatre Company’s performance of Talking in the Library – a perfect setting for a tale that follows the intertwined lives of four characters: a tormented young student; a poetry-loving builder; a strict librarian and a library cleaner.” … “For those who haven’t stepped into a library since they were a child or a parent of young children, these buildings are no longer just cathedrals of the written word (although this is still as valid as ever). These days, the modern library offers a space for community, entertainment, creativity, socialising and continued learning.”
  • Warrington – LiveWire and Culture Warrington save council £17m in six years – Warrington Guardian. “We have managed to achieve these savings and sustain services by growing the income we generate from the leisure side of the organisation, in order to ensure services can be sustained in the face of future austerity cuts.”

“In the past, we have had some challenges – particularly around libraries – and I think that has potentially clouded people’s views about who we are and what we do for thousands of people in our town every single week. “I hope people can see that we listened when they responded to proposals about libraries and we continue to welcome feedback from people regarding how services and facilities can be improved.”

The Great 2018 Universal Offers Personality Test

Did you get all eight? See how you score!

– Reading – Yes, everyone knows this one. No points for this, -5 if you forgot it.

– Digital – Yes, well, duh. 1 point.

– Information – Double duh. 1 point.

– Learning. Well done for remembering this is a different Offer to Reading. 2 points.

– Health – Doing very well if you have this. 2 points plus an extra 2 if you’ve already put in a bid to the local NHS for funding of a project.

– Children’s Promise – 1 point if you remembered kids get a mention,. 2 if you remembered that this Offer is also, for some reason, a Promise. A promised offer? An offered promise?

– Six Steps – 3 points if you remembered that disability was in there somewhere, an extra 1 on top if you remembered that this Offer is, and I know this is getting difficult, six offers all by itself.

– Culture – The newest offer and, yes, different to Reading. 2 points.

What your score means:

– 0 or less – You’re a member of a US Christian evangelist group, aren’t you?

– 1 – Member of the public.

– 2 – Member of the public who got lucky.

– 3 to 8 – You read an article about this somewhere, probably in an email from your chief librarian.

– 9 to 11 – You care about the profession and work hard to keep on top of everything, even though much of it is irrelevant to your work.

– 12 to 15 – You’re a chief librarian or work directly for Libraries Connected or the Taskforce.

– 16 – Hello Mr President and Mr Past President good to see you here.