The campaign against the cuts to Glasgow libraries are notable for a few reasons. First thing to note that, by English standards, they’re not actually all that bad – just a few closed, moved or made volunteer. That sort of thing would raise a few placards south of the border but not the big coverage that it is getting in Scotland’s second city. Cuts to public services are taken more seriously up there evidently, even though the Conservative protests about them should be taken with the pained ironic wince it deserves. Finally, it’s worth pointing out that the cuts are not caused by the council but rather because the libraries are run by the local leisure trust, whose financial model has been temporarily wrecked by covid. If the service was run by the council then, presumably, the cuts would not have even happened. But, then, North Ayrshire is also going through cuts so maybe not.

The other thing to note this week, possibly with more pain than irony, are the Cipfa DCMS funded reports on how local library services are doing compared to each-other. Despite Cipfa being the sector by-word for slowness, disinterest and price-gouging, one has to admit that these comparator reports have improved slightly. Initially produced in 2012, back then one could only compare services with a small number of other library services – almost as if Cipfa was keen not to share data that it could otherwise charge through the nose for – but at least now one can see how each service is doing in comparison to every other library service in the country. It’s still out of date of course, and only four-fifths of councils bother contributing, but it is better than it was. We just need to wait now for the 150 councils to work together (and, even, gosh, share their data for free) and bypass Cipfa altogether but, until that happy day, this is probably the best that this supposed sector of information sectors is going to get.

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Changes by local authority

National news

  • DCMS funded Report 2020 – Cipfa. “Download the report comparing each English library authority that returned data (121 of the 150 councils in England have been published: report updated March 2021) with their family group, as defined by the CIPFA Nearest Neighbours Model.”
  • Libraries on the high street – Libraries Hacked. “With the OS high streets, and ‘good enough’ data on libraries I looked at how many libraries are directly on a high street: about 25%.” … “With the OS high streets, and ‘good enough’ data on libraries I looked at how many libraries are directly on a high street: about 25%.”
  • Library Campaign Zoom meeting 14 April 2021 Update – Library Campaign. “Among the points to emerge were: · All Friends groups are valuable, whether they are fighting cuts or supporting a service that isn’t in crisis. · Many groups produce useful material that could be shared. · The government (DCMS) has a legal duty to ensure good services … but doesn’t. · National library bodies seldom do things that library users see as high priority – such as… ·  Demonstrate that libraries are great value for money · Run a publicity campaign for public libraries, perhaps centred on social media.”
  • Pandemic shows how ‘digital by default’ government services exclude those who need them most – Business Reporter. “And with libraries closed many are more cut off than ever before. Indeed, people rely on libraries for online access – a place to search for jobs, answer emails, access educational resources and stay in touch with the outside world.”
  • Senior Lecturer to host online workshop in collaboration with BBC Arts and the British Library – FE News. “A Senior Lecturer at Leeds Trinity University has been invited to deliver an online games workshop and participate in a panel discussion as part of an event organised by Leeds Libraries in collaboration with BBC Arts and the British Library.”
  • Webinar for those planning events outside – Libraries Connected. 18 May, 1.30pm.
  • Working Internationally Conference 2021 – CILIP. 25 June. “The 2021 Working Internationally Conference explores ways of connecting with library services from across the world to inspire and inform your library service back home. A unique programme of panel sessions, presentations, and hands-on workshops draws on speakers from a diverse range of regions – UK, Europe, Canada, Africa, and the Middle East – to share best practices, spotlight new ideas, and showcase successful examples of international working projects. “

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