A few of the items this week show how dependent some public library services are on volunteers. North Yorkshire says “acknowledges that without the support of more than 2,000 volunteers and others the service as it exists today would not be possible.”, Oxfordshire open a new branch but say that they will need volunteers to actually run it, and Staffordshire report that they have 1,000 volunteers doing the work that would otherwise keep staff employed to the tune of £1.4m. When library services depend on the unpaid in their thousands to do the work it’s clear to see how things have changed since 2010 when less than ten branches nationwide relied on such generosity.

It’s therefore a suitable week to see that the Community Libraries Network have a new website instead of their blog site they had to do with previously. The site has some useful resources, including on crowdfunding and paying for leases, for volunteer libraries who are facing the hard tough world. The network itself, supported by Upper Norwood Library Trust, Libraries Connected, Locality, the Libraries Taskforce and funding from Power to Change, is looking to rely on member subscriptions, presumably from volunteers already working for free. We will see how that goes.

Changes by local authority

Hi VIS Fortnight 1-14 June 2020 : celebrating the word in all its formats

“Following feedback from partners, we are changing the name of ‘Make A Noise in Libraries’ Fortnight to ‘Hi VIS’ – The emphasis of this initiative has shifted over the years, from being originally forged largely as a campaigning vehicle, to something that latterly has predominantly sought to highlight the excellent work that is going on in libraries, for visually and print impaired people. We thought that the title should change to reflect this shift, and ‘Hi VIS’ seemed to be a good fit.”

The core aim of the Fortnight is still to raise the profile of the various services and activities that exist re. accessible libraries and reading – to highlight and celebrate them; and to connect visually and print impaired people with libraries, reading and other readers.

With developments such as the BBC’s Novels That Shaped The World and the theme for this year’s Libraries Week, there is a welcome (re-)emphasis on books and reading in 2020, and we are looking to build on this. The provision and availability of alternative and accessible formats is critical to visually and print impaired people being able to access reading and literature, and the general theme of this year’s Fortnight will be celebrating the word in all its forms and formats

We would like, during Hi VIS Fortnight, for libraries across the UK to highlight and celebrate all that you do to help people access and connect to the reading services and formats that best suit them, and to engage with reading and related activities

Share the Vision are specifically hoping that Libraries will:

· Promote accessible reading formats and services (their own and other organisation’s); and related local activities;

· Organise their own events, ideally (but not necessarily) building on this year’s theme; and

· Actively post on social media about these services, activities and event

Actions and available resources

· As in previous years, Share the Vision are in the process of producing some promotional materials and will share these nearer to the time. · Resources will be available via Reading Sight ( www.readingsight.org.uk ).

· RNIB are going to be leading on the social media side of things – establishing the hashtag #HiVIS2020 on Twitter, and we would like all involved to use this to help spread the word.

· Alerts will be sent out to Six Steps Champions across the UK, and Heads of Service will be made aware through Libraries Connected.

Ideas for activities

· Promote the accessible stock that you have – spoken work/talking books, Braille, tactile, e-book/audio/magazine collections

· Highlight ‘Novels That Shaped The World’ in alternative formats

· Feature accessible libraries, such as Calibre, Clearvision, RNIB Library – making local staff and volunteers aware of the wider provision that is available

· Run or raise awareness of an accessible book group

· Invite local ‘sight loss’ or disability groups and partner organisations to visit the library to discuss and demonstrate all that you offer/could offer

· Offer accessible or sensory activity sessions – maybe poetry, or craft or singing… using/celebrating words in different ways

· Deliver an ICT/digital session introducing people to online/e-services and/or new equipment that makes reading and information more accessible

Visit www.readingsight.org.uk for more information

Join in and engage on Twitter – @readingsight / #HiVIS2020

Mark McCree, Chair, Share The Vision

National news

  • 2019 sees rapid increase in libraries dropping fines – BookSeller. “The number of libraries dropping penalty fines for the late return of books has more than quadrupled in the past year, with those that have changed their policy citing an uptick in membership as a result. Only a couple of libraries had a fines-free policy in the UK before 2018 (Rutland and Shetland), according to Public Libraries News, on top of which Trafford and Portsmouth similarly updated their policy in 2018. However in the past year, eight libraries followed suit in instigating the step-change (Halton, Kirklees, Blackpool, Bridgend, Bath and North East Somerset, Oldham, eeds and Borders) Blackburn’s Darwen  Library [sic – it’s actually Blackburn With Darwen library service – Ed.] has followed suit in 2020″

“For me it was all about making sure we were a relevant, modern and inclusive service. From working with schools and various consultations we had done over the years, we knew that fines were a deterrent for people, especially families, using our libraries… There were some worries expressed that people would take advantage and not return books, but that hasn’t happened. Our rate of non-returned books has not increased in the time since we abolished fines. “In addition, we have had many instances of people telling us they are now using the libraries because we no longer charge fines.”

Sarah Curran of Trafford Libraries

International news

“The biggest thing we’ve seen is improvement in the overall atmosphere and tone”

Jennifer Hoffman, Denver Public Libraries manager of books on borrowing on impact of removal on fines one year ago.
  • Workers at Cleveland Public Library cast near-unanimous vote to authorize strike action – World Socialist Web Site. “On January 8, roughly 400 librarians, assistants and custodians at the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) cast “an overwhelming, and nearly unanimous vote” to authorize a strike, according to a statement sent out by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199. ” .. “. A central focus in SEIU’s statements is the proposed 1.5 percent raise for library workers—many of whom are still impacted by a five-year wage freeze implemented in 2009, failure to adequately increase staffing and concerns over library security.”

Local news by authority

“We will need volunteers to help run the library and the Community Association is very supportive in this.”

Library manager Stephanie Tee on new Barton Library