Three things catch my eye this post. The first is the decline in the Summer Reading Challenge figures this year – a 8% drop is quite serious. From talking to various people, the view is that those library services still doing outreach (and most specifically school assemblies) for it are doing far better than those who no longer do such things. There may be other factors – the theme (possibly, although I liked the Beano myself) and the weather – but, dudes, when you no longer tell people about your product, or can’t afford to d so, then people may not get to know about it. I don’t need an MA in Librarianship to work that out. Speaking of not needing qualifications (wow, I’m getting good at links, nine years in to this PLN thing), I include a report from Deepings volunteer library, which is reportedly going from strength to strength. What’s happening to volunteer libraries is a source of much heated debate – from those who say they’re abjectedly awful to those who thing they’re brilliantly brilliant – but good to hear from the people themselves, until there’s some actual research carried out.

Finally, CILIP, Libraries Connected and Carnegie have got together to look at how public libraries should evolve, with reference to what’s happening internationally as well as in this country. Good to see. It’s be fascinating to see what they come up with. I can say, though, from researching this for the last decade, that there’s no magic pill out there. It’s all down to having the resources, as well as the will, to change – and the strength and wisdom to know when not to change and avoid the shiny. Having said that, I’d like a funded research trip if there’s one going …


Deeping Community Library  

The library is run by a volunteer management committee which employs two paid ‘library coordinators’, Louisa and Jo, who run the library day to day and manage a team of around 70 volunteers.  Lincolnshire CC own our building, a very lovely grade 2 listed house, which has been the local library since 1972, and charge us a peppercorn rent. They also allow us to sublet an office suite on the first floor which provides enough rent to enable us to pay our running costs and coordinators.  GLL run all the library systems and provide all our books and services for us as part of the agreement with all LCC community libraries.  We get support from our town and parish councils as well and councillors hold surgeries in the library once a month. 

This all means that we are comparatively well situated compared to many community libraries. However, I think our continued rising numbers of issues, users and signed up library card users is largely due to our determined efforts to engage with the local community.  

The volunteers work behind the counter, of course, but also run a weekly children’s storytime, run clubs (Scrabble, Knit and Natter, a weekly baby group, family lego club and a unique partnership with Age Concern which provides a minibus, driver and escort to bring housebound elderly people to the library once a fortnight, including tea and chat time). We invite schools in for special events and go out to schools and pre schools for stories and topic visits and volunteers go into the four local care homes to help residents engage with our book collections and read to them. 

Louisa and Jo are wonderfully inventive in running special events: evening talks on all sorts of subjects (attendance built up slowly but we stuck with it and now attract audiences of around 30 -40) Author events for both children and adults take place regularly and special days like Christmas, Star Wars Day, Roald Dahl day etc have events, too. These are hugely popular with families. We are involved in local events like the Raft Race, too. 

We run events for Deepings biennial Literary Festival, which brings authors and readers together from all over the region.  We’re given the Man Booker short list books by GLL and also the best seller list books.  We advertise widely, especially using Facebook and local magazines. Every new signup is given a welcome pack. There is also a library newsletter, which is taken by around 50 people in print form and 250 people via email.

I think it’s all due to bloody mindedness; the local community were just determined to keep our library in the face of LCCs determination to close it as it ‘wasn’t needed any more’. The outrage that caused took them aback, I think!  As for the future, we have just increased our hours to 33 per week and there are plans for more activities using the extra hours; coding club, board games, crafts among other things. We are particularly wanting to reach families in the new estates around the Deepings who may not even know we exist at the moment. The schools are great helps in spreading the word so we keep close relationships with them.” Liz Waterland

National news

  • 699,076 children joined us in Beanotown for Summer Reading Challenge 2018, find out where we’re off to next – Reading Agency. “This is a slight drop on last year’s figures (8.2%) and we are working with our library partners to understand more about what caused this, and what we need to do to ensure the Challenge remains a popular, successful programme for many years to come.” … “All the feedback we have had from participants, parents and carers testifies to the power that participation has on building an enjoyment of reading among children – which is why we and our library partners want to make sure that the challenge can continue to thrive and grow.”

“In 2019 the theme for the Summer Reading Challenge will be “Space Chase” to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Moon landings. We hope the theme will have intergenerational appeal and will encourage parents to read with their children. The guest illustrator is Adam Stower, and children in libraries helped selected Adam from a shortlist of illustrators in 2017. “

  • CILIP, Libraries Connected and Carnegie to explore ‘new roadmap’ for public libraries – BookSeller. “Established with a view to securing “a stronger future for public libraries” across England, the project will kick off with an initial scoping study that is being backed by the Carnegie UK Trust” … ” “Part of this debate is to identify the best funding and governance arrangements for the library service and we look forward to working with partners to identify a number of options.” … “The study will gather the views of key stakeholders and will look at contrasting models for public library delivery internationally, including those found in Northern Ireland, Australia, the US, the Netherlands and Finland”. Tim Coates quoted at end blaming librarians for everything. see also Study launched into future of public libraries – Localgov.

Public libraries play an important role in giving everyone opportunities to improve their life chances and achieve their full potential. They support individuals, communities and society by providing access to books and information, bringing people together and providing them with support and guidance at every stage of their lives.” Lord Ashton of Hyde, House of Lords.

  • Drama, the library and senior citizens – Libraries Taskforce. “In October we delivered a new play ‘Marriage Lines’ to a monthly group based at Huddersfield Central Library. “I thought today’s performance by the Curtain Up theatre group in Huddersfield library was brilliant. They were really funny and entertaining and the audience seemed to really enjoy singing along to all the songs.” Nicola Boundy – Huddersfield Library” … “We live in an age where loneliness is an issue for older people and where support services are diminishing in an age of austerity. Involvement in a drama group creates social capital where relationships are formed, cognitive skills continue to be practiced and new roles created.”
  • How libraries are leading the way with diversity – Arts Council England. “six library services across England joined our 2018-22 National Portfolio and must now contribute to our goal of ensuring that great art and culture is available to everyone and reflective of all communities in England. This makes arts and culture in England better in the quality and in the diversity of its audiences. We call this the Creative Case for Diversity. These libraries need to draw upon the talent and stories of all our communities in the work we commission, curate, produce and present on our stages, in our galleries and across our museums and libraries. So, who are the artists representing those diverse groups, and what work are they delivering in libraries through our six library NPOs?”

The Universal Offer Review led by Shared Intelligence is now underway. We want to engage extensively with the sector and our Stakeholders  and are planning a range of engagement activities. As part of the wider consultation we would like to set up a “Development Group” of library staff from across the sector who will be able to meet together of three occasions  over the next  three months to provide reflections, critical  feedback  and help shape the future direction of the offers.

The three meetings take place on: 12 December in Manchester, 12.30pm-3.30pm Manchester Central Library – St Peters Square, Manchester, M2 5PD. 18 January in Loughborough 1pm-4pm  Loughborough Library  –  Granby St, Loughborough, LE11 3DZ. 19February in London 1pm-4pm – Canning Town Neighbourhood Centre and Library, 18 Rathbone Market, Barking Road, London, E16 1EH

Ideally you would be available for all three workshops but if you are keen to be involved and  can’t do  all three dates, please do let us know. These workshops are open to all library staff and Heads of Service and we are looking for a maximum of 25 people to participate. This is a great opportunity to be part of shaping a core element of libraries future national strategy. If you would be interested in being involved , please email robert.davies@librariesconnected.org.uk by 28  November 2018.

  • Sorry Harry Potter, Danielle Steel casts the greatest spell over UK library readers – I. “The undisputed Queen of Romance is the most borrowed author from UK libraries, an analysis of lending data since 1990 has found.  ” …  “Romance titles, mainly Catherine Cookson novels, dominated the adult fiction top 10 list every year from 1991 to 2003. In the 2000s, romance and Cookson were replaced by crime titles as the nation’s most borrowed library books”. Threats to libraries mentioned, and Laura Swaffield of the Library Campaign quoted.
  • Staffing and structural changes at CILIP – CILIP. “CILIP is currently consulting with staff on a restructure of our teams, roles and functions. This restructure was approved by the CILIP Board of Trustees in September” … “We anticipate that these internal changes will have taken effect in time for the New Year 2019, and we will be writing to all members, partners and stakeholders to provide information about the new team”
  • VR Day – Libraries Taskforce. “have been setting up and running digital activities in the new Makerspace at Oxfordshire County Library. We have a mix of robots, 3D printer, Raspberry Pi computers, gadgets etc. But until recently we did not have dedicated PCs in the room”

Axiell Selflib


  • Australia – A Librarian’s Take on Digital Disruption – Medium. “I once heard a librarian discussing their 12-year old’s son frustration with heir Public Library website. He was researching a school assignment and the database he was using stated he needed to be in the library to use it. His frustrated cry ‘ But I am in the library!’ reminds us all that the user experience of discovery on our websites and catalogues can be confusing and frustrating.”
  • USA – Libraries Across the Country Are Honoring Stan Lee – Comic Book. “While some might dismiss comic books as being an inferior form of literature, libraries know their value and the mark Lee left on literacy. Scroll down to see how libraries are honoring the creator.”
  • USA – Why a library fire feels like an ‘attack on humanity’ – PBS Newshour. “In April 1986, fire raged through the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles, damaging or destroying more than a million books. Journalist and author Susan Orlean resurrects this nearly forgotten story in “The Library Book,” which also explores the emotional attachment so many of us feel to books and libraries. Jeffrey Brown shares this true-life tale of loss and revitalization.”
  • USA – Why In The World Would You Drop Fines? The Case Study Of C. E. Weldon Public Library – Princh. ” Two months ago we asked our blog readers how much of their library’s revenue is from library fines and if they would consider removing fines at their library or not.”: Of respondents 27% have fines as more than 5% of revenue, 25% between 1 and 5% and 48% less than 1%. 90% would consider removing fines. “To provide you with more data on how removing fines can be a successful method to increase circulation, we have talked with Roberta Peacock, the library director of C. E. Weldon Library (Martin, Tennessee). She tells us more about the reasons that determined her to eliminate overdue fines and how her library has benefited from doing it. Read more insights below”. 15% increase in circulation, 60% drop in overdues.

“When I was younger, one of the first punitive moments outside my home was from the library. The terror of being punished for having a late book continued even past my formative years.  Ever since childhood, I dreamed of the day where the library would be a positive experience.  A patron should never feel like they were being punished for coming to the library to seek education and recreation.”

“During my career, one of my observations was that we always had a certain segment of the population who would come to the library and apologize for being late and offered to pay the fine. On the other hand, we also had those patrons who avoided paying the fine by dropping the book in the book drop and never coming back to the library.  It always bothered me that we punished the conscientious person who always returned to the library and never received a dime from the other patrons that we never saw again.”

Local news by authority

  • Caerphilly – New members welcome to Reading Hack group in Caerphilly Library – South Wales Argus. “Reading Hack is a group of youngsters, aged 12 to 16-years-old, who meet monthly, at Caerphilly Library, to discuss a book – or occasionally a range of books – they’ve chosen to read. “
  • Calderdale – Heated debate on library’s future – Telegraph and Argus. “There have been doubts over the future of Bailiff Bridge’s library since Calderdale Council identified significant repair needs that would prove costly. The library came back into focus when Councillor George Robinson (Con, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) presented a motion noting the benefits libraries brought, and calling on the council to agree no community would lose its existing library service.”
  • Cumbria – Supersleuthing at Whitehaven Library – News and Star. “The unexpected collaboration of staging murder mystery events in a library setting came about through Helen Towers, of Carlisle Library, who had seen one of the Highly Suspect mysteries elsewhere and put them in touch with the … Time To Read campaign “
  • Essex – The fight back against planned library closure has begun – East London and West Essex Guardian Series . “The announcement caused immediate anger across Epping Forest, with Green Party district councillor for Buckhurst Hill Steven Neville spearheading the opposition and launching a petition. ” see also Harwich and Manningtree libraries under threat – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Lee Lay-Flurrie, Manningtree councillor, said: “We would be lost without the library. “Lots of people use it not just for reading books, but for the internet. “Children use it and adults and there are events held at the library. “There are groups there too, like adult and children reading groups. “The library seems like it has been part of the community forever.” and Save Stansted Library – Change,org. ““The hub was built on the understanding that Essex Library Service would move the library in there and take a 10 year lease, sharing costs with the parish council and paying £13,000 per annum rent. The £1.22mn project was years in the making and Essex County Council was having meetings with the parish council to agree the lease terms until a week before the announced proposed cuts. Proposing the closure of the library just at the point when the lease is due to be signed and the building is about to be completed is a huge betrayal of the parish council and the community” and Essex libraries closures: MP urges rethink in Harlow – BBC.Robert Halfon MP says vital services are provided at the Mark Hall and Tye Green branches in Harlow, Essex. He asked Essex County Council to rethink its proposals, which are part of a county-wide review which could see at least 25 libraries close. But the council says technology has changed how people read books and the service  must be modernised.” and Essex County Council launches consultation on future of Southminster and Wickham Bishops libraries – Maldon Standard and Parish leaders hope to save libraries in Sible Hedingham and Earls Colne – Halstead Gazette and Comment: Libraries are more than just books – Halstead Gazette and These libraries face closure – but is there are a future for other libraries? – Echo and 25 Essex libraries at risk of closure in future plans – East Anglian Daily Times and West Mersea library: Sign petition to save it from closing – Gazette News. and School children’s appeal: ‘Please don’t shut our library’ – Gazette News and Library closures will affect women and children – Echo and Petition to save Manningtree Library – Standard series.
  • Isle of Wight – Isle of Wight libraries get slight funding boost, figures show – On the Wight. A slight increase reported plus various quotes from CILIP and the Library Campaign. However, other info received suggest the Isle of Wight library service did not receive a funding increase this year.
  • Kent – Libraries, Registration and Archives Draft Strategy 2019-2022 – Kent Council. All the documents on the libraries consultation and cuts see also Dartford people asked for feedback on plans for Kent libraries – News Shopper. “The Libraries, Registration and Archive Service (LRA), which is run by Kent County Council, has released a draft of its three-year strategy which outlines a new tier system for libraries which will affect how they are staffed, what stock will be available to each library and what community events will take place in each one. “
  • Lancashire – Libraries to host Lancashire Day events – Lancashire Post.
  • Lancashire – More than £1m slashed from library services in Lancashire – Burnley Express. “Analysis shows that council spending on libraries fell from £13.62m to £12.17m, after the figures are adjusted for inflation. That’s a decrease of 11 per cent” … “In England, spending on library services has decreased by 5% in real terms, from £760 million in 2016-17 to £720 million in 2017-18.”. Laura Swaffield, Library Campaign quoted.
  • Lewisham – Save Lewisham Libraries campaign wants answers on possible rebuild – News Shopper. “Speaking on behalf of the Save Lewisham Libraries campaign at a mayor and cabinet meeting, Caroline Jupp said the group welcomed the suspension of £450k staff cuts.But there were many “outstanding concerns” with the announcement. “We ask why has this option been re-opened as the council’s preferred option after it had already been dismissed as a feasible option in the council’s consultation document published less than a week ago,” she said”
  • Lewisham – Suspension of Library Cuts – Save Lewisham Libraries. “The Save the Lewisham Libraries Campaign group welcomes the Local Authority’s Cabinet decision to suspend the proposed cuts to staffing of Lewisham, Downham and Deptford hub libraries.  We appreciate the extended period of time this decision has opened up to plan for a more sustainable and positive solution for library provision in the future. “
  • Manchester – Spending on library services has been slashed in Manchester in the last seven years – Manchester Evening News. “Manchester city council is spending nearly £8.5 million less on libraries than it did seven years ago, the M.E.N. can reveal. Analysis of Manchester city council spending shows that £16.1 million was spent on the running of the city’s libraries in the financial year of 2010 to 2011 – the same year the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government came to power. When adjusted to allow for inflation, it means Manchester city council should have spent £19.4 million in March 2018 on its libraries to reach at least the same amount.”
  • Newcastle – No more Newcastle libraries at risk of closure, promise council bosses – Chronicle. “As part of cuts that will shave almost £1.7m off the city’s libraries budget, the East End Library will be moved from its Hadrian Square base into the Shields Road Customer Service Centre. Lib Dem councillor Wendy Taylor told an overview and scrutiny panel meeting on Thursday that the relocation was “very worrying” – before also raising fears that the High Heaton facility could be under threat. Coun Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture, sport, and public health, confirmed that talks are ongoing about High Heaton but that it would not shut down.”
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries in Craven are piloting a scheme that offers bags of support for people’s health and wellbeing – North Yorkshire County Council. “Anyone can borrow a Wellbeing Bag free for three weeks using their library card. The bags can be used by individuals or groups at home, in the library or in the community. For example, several people could work together on a jigsaw, promoting social interaction. The bags were developed through a Dragon’s Den-style exercise among North Yorkshire County Council library service staff members, who were asked to devise innovative ideas to improve the service, with the best going before a panel of county councillors and officers. Wellbeing Bags have been developed by outreach librarians Catherine Barlow and Alison Wheat, supported by colleagues.”

“We deliver this session in partnership with Children and Young People’s Services who provide the youth work expertise and who run regular skate park outreach sessions each Wednesday night over the summer. During the winter months we facilitate a special skate night in the library as soon as the library closes to encourage the young people to see the library as a safe, welcoming and relevant space for them to visit with free wifi, computer access, information and volunteering opportunities available to them. The young people literally skate around the shelves and practice their skating tricks in the library, research new tricks on the library computers and occasionally borrow books too. The young people asked if the library skate nights could happen again this winter because they enjoyed it last year and regularly come into the library at other times to ‘hang out’. They have also started offering to help by designing the skate night posters and ‘helping with jobs’ in the library. The November session also combined a basic first aid training with the skate night and some North Yorkshire Youth consultation.” North Yorkshire – Skate evenings at Ripon Library (via email).

  • Northern Ireland – Library introduces age restrictions Newtownabbey Today. “A library in the borough has enforced a by-law meaning children under the age of 12 are no longer allowed to enter the venue if they are not accompanied by an adult. The decision was taken by staff at Ballyclare Library after a number of issues arose when primary school children went to the School Street site after finishing class.”
  • Northern Ireland – E-book and audiobook loans more than triple at NI libraries – BBC. “Almost 310,000 e-books and audiobooks were borrowed in 2017, compared to some 140,000 in 2015. “
  • Nottinghamshire – More than a million pounds slashed from library services in Nottinghamshire – Chad. “Nottinghamshire libraries have had their funding slashed by more than a million pounds over the past year, analysis of Government figures reveals. The Library Campaign, a national charity, says that further cuts to stretched library services is ‘like taking a hammer to a wall that’s already full of holes’. In 2017-18 the council cut spending on libraries by six per cent, according to financial data from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). In real terms, the cut has left libraries in the area £1.61 million worse off than they were in 2016-17.”
  • Oxfordshire – It’s high time we opened Oxford’s libraries to the public – Oxford Student. “Facing decades of funding cuts, local councils, the primary funders of public libraries, are passing the buck of responsibility off to the local community. Many have such constrained budgets that they have had to cut all public funds to their libraries, leading to three possibilities. The library either gets closed, gets turned over to volunteers or gets privatised. In two of those three scenarios, the ‘public library’ becomes inaccessible to the general public. It is worth noting here that there is no such thing as a ‘private’ public library. As soon as fees are introduced for services, a library becomes a business, rather than a public service.” … “Oxford has more libraries than almost any other city on earth, at over 100. Yet despite this, all of the libraries are private, requiring paid membership or reading fees. “
  • Pembrokeshire – New library to open in Haverfordwest town centre – Western Telegraph. “The development, including a library, gallery, visitor information and coffee shop, is the result of an exciting partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council and the National Library of Wales. Funding to build the facility came from a range of sources including Pembrokeshire County Council, Welsh Government, the Wolfson Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.”
  • Plymouth – Plymouth City Council to open library on Christmas Day – Indy Online. “Volunteers from libraries across the city and the council’s customer services team will be giving up their time to open the library for three hours during the afternoon. There will be a festive film show, quizzes and games, as well as free refreshments. Library computers and wi-fi will be available for anyone who wants to get in touch with family or friends. This year the library is also offering transport for people living in Plymouth who would like to join them on the day.”
  • Sheffield – Multilingual children’s section opens in Sheffield Central Library – Star. “The section, which was unveiled at Sheffield Central Library on Saturday, has been stocked with around 500 books, donated by authors, publishers and members of the public – each written in one of the many 150 languages spoke in the city.”
  • Sheffield – Starting a new chapter: the success story of Totley Library – Star. “When Sheffield Council announced it was closing 16 libraries across the city, many people in Totley were dismayed. But four years on, a dedicated team of volunteers has not only kept the library running but created a community hub which has become a meeting place for dozens of different groups and a lifeline for people feeling lonely”. 105 volunteers are involved.
  • St Helens – St Helens Library Service to launch fines amnesty to support those in need – St Helens Council. “Throughout the Christmas and New Year period, St Helens Library Service will be showing its support to the local food bank and period poverty campaign, The Red Box Project, which aims to ensure that no woman misses out on their education because of her period. For each item of food or sanitary product donated, the service will reduce the amount of fines a person owes by £1. Fines less than £1 will simply be cleared.”
  • Somerset – Bridgwater Library joins campaign to tackle period poverty – Bridgwater Mercury. “The public can donate tampons and sanitary towels at any library in Somerset, including Bridgwater. “
  • Surrey – Smaller ‘link’ libraries help bring books closer to communities – Surrey Council. Video. “Smaller “link” libraries are helping to bring books closer to local communities particularly in rural areas. Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning, Mary Lewis, visited a community link library in Shere – one of three in Surrey. A consultation running until Friday 4 January 2019 is asking for people’s views on a proposed strategy for reshaping libraries.”
  • Somerset – Library faces closure with no-one willing to run it – Weston Mercury. “Burnham and Highbridge Town Council members voted against submitting an expression of interest to keep the facility open in Market Street – after it was revealed no volunteers, schools or neighbouring villages would be willing to help run the service. The decision comes after Somerset County Council (SCC) announced a significant cut in funding to libraries last month – which earmarked the service in Highbridge as one of 15 under threat.”
  • Trafford – New chapter for library borrowing – Libraries Connected. “Getting rid of fines for everyone is yet another example of how we are making improvements while creating a more user-friendly service. It will hopefully further boost our borrower numbers while also making the loan service fairer. We’re putting complete trust in people to return what they’ve borrowed but there are already no security barriers in Trafford’s facilities and nothing to stop people walking out with books that haven’t been issued. Since April we’ve seen no negative effect in terms of books not being returned and loans are increasing.”
  • Warrington – Popular authors in conversation at the library – Warrington Worldwide. “LiveWire’s community librarians organised the event with library partnership organisation Time to Read. Copies of the “The Craftsman” have been delivered and are now available to borrow from the town’s libraries.” … “Sharon Bolton said: “Libraries in the North West played a huge part in my love of stories as I was growing up, and I couldn’t be more pleased that The Craftsman has been selected as the first Great North West Read”
  • West Lothian – Linlithgow Library plays its part in 2018 Book Week Scotland – Linlithgow Gazette. “Book Week encourages people of all ages and walks of life to come together in libraries, schools, community venues and workplaces to share and enjoy books and reading. Working with a wide range of partners, Scottish Book Trust – the national charity which aims to change lives through reading and writing – will also deliver events linked to the Rebel theme.”