My thanks to Liz White of the British Library for answering my many questions about the much-awaited Single Digital Presence below. In other news, there’s a couple of possible new cuts (Bolton and the Isle of Man), a library closed for reapirs, and two stories of closires/co-locations from Scotland. But, frankly, we’re all waiting for what Mr Johnson announces tomorrow and whether children’s events in English libraries this August will be a thing or not.

Changes by local authority

Some more on the Single Digital Presence

Liz White from the British Library very kindly answered a few of questions on the project below:

Can, or will, library catalogues be searchable directly from the proposed SDP. So, if someone types in the author and book title, all the nearest library copies (print and ebook) are shown, with a link to how to search? 

Earlier user research has shown that people are most interested in what loan copies are held by the libraries closest to them and part of the next phase of development will be to determine what kind of search functionality is most beneficial at national and local level and then how to deliver this. Having a shared national platform where freely-available content can be shared will also help understand the further potential for inter-library lending although there would be a number of issues to work through across sectors before this could become a reality.  We are able to learn from the purchasing models and user journeys offered by consortia already, for example Merseyside, Greater Manchester and The Library Consortium in London.

Will any e-resources e.g. Britannica, Ancestry, be available on it? This isn’t in scope at the moment but users starting out on the national pages will be able to find out how to access the online resources held by individual public libraries (and then access these via existing systems)

Will the website be able to direct to a local library service, and, if so, how? This is a really important part of the development, to ensure that there is an easy and user-friendly navigation between the two which is intuitive – there has been some user testing undertaken already about the attractiveness of postcode searches, but more will be undertaken to map out possible user journeys between national and local in the next phase.

What sort of content is being expected to be uploaded? The first step is to work with libraries and stakeholders to develop the content strategy for the site, alongside branding. However it will in essence: showcase what libraries and Librarians are doing today; connect people to their local library branch and service; surface great content created by and with Librarians and library staff; share recommendations and opinions from the community of Librarians (of interest nationally, trending, seasonal and thematic); enable location search with map-based results; use tried and trusted common web technology, accessible to all and easy to update and, finally, provide a vehicle to communicate unified national campaigns, issues and activities

What is meant that it is “not a website”? We describe the SDP primarily as a platform rather than a website as it will host and curate content from many different users and will enable connectivity with and between libraries and users. As this project is something new and different there are no direct comparisons we can make with existing services, however Youtube is one high-profile example of this kind of model (although very different in terms of scale and content!). The SDP project is also a wider programme of change, as the funding is supporting development of local web presences, and it is about the connectivity and joint communications between local and national rather than a single website solution.  We hope to make a live product available by the second year of the programme, so that we can test and iterate ideas based on feedback.

How long until it is available for the public to use? Yes it will be mobile optimised, but SDP is a wider programme of change, as the funding is supporting development of local platforms, and it is about the connectivity and joint communications between local and national rather than a single website solution.  We hope to make a live product available by the second year of the programme, so that we can test and iterate ideas based on feedback.

National news

British Library Single Digital Presence Update – CILIP. 24 June, 12.30. “Staff members from the British Library will give a presentation on the Arts Council England and Carnegie UK Trust funded ‘Single Digital Presence’ project. The project began in 2018 to explore digital transformations in public libraries and what a national online presence for the sector could look like. We have recently reached the end of the project’s research and development phase. As well as explaining its drivers, methods and findings, we will also outline the next steps for development and answer questions from attendees.”

  • British Library to open seven new business support centres in North East – Business Live. “The network has had a centre at Newcastle’s City Library for a number of years, but Government funding has allowed it to set up more than 80 new sites, including seven in the North East. BIPCs will be established in Hexham, Morpeth, Berwick, North and South Tyneside and Sunderland. A new regional centre will also open at Stockton Central Library, with potential to extend across the Tees Valley to local libraries in Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Redcar.”
  • Featherbed Tales – Included here because it’s possibly the sweetest thing I have heard this year. A small child provides the narration for a picture book for her grandparents. This is a service currently being trialled in Suffolk. “Little Emily’s grandparents said “This is wonderful! It’s really effective.  It was as if she was there reading to us.  It was a real surprise to us as well”. “
  • FestivIL Award – Medium. List of nominees for information literacy awards, with their projects. ” for a member of the IL community who has been a local hero supporting, leading or inspiring colleagues or library users in information literacy during the last 12 months.”
  • Five questions with… Festival of Libraries – Arts Council England. “From the 9-13 June 2021, Manchester City of Literature are running Festival of Libraries – 80 free online and in person events across every Greater Manchester borough. The festival, which is supported by Arts Council England, showcases a vibrant programme covering wellbeing, culture and creativity, digital and information and, of course, reading. We caught up with Jo Flynn from the festival to discuss how everyone can get involved, how they’ve adapted through the pandemic, the role libraries can play in bringing communities together and her hopes for the future. “
  • ‘The Future is Phygital’ – Libraries roundtable – CLOA. Please God, don’t let that term catch on. ” explored how library services are building on the innovation during the pandemic to develop a ‘three channel’ service (digital, physical and outside the walls) to provide maximum engagement and impact for users and contribute towards local strategic priorities.”
  • The Great Outdoors – Libraries Connected & St Helens Borough Council Library Service Webinar. “As libraries begin to navigate their roadmap out of lockdown and with more authorities than ever thinking about utilising outdoor spaces to remain Covid-19 compliant, Alan Lane from Slung Low explores the challenges, pitfalls and opportunities that programming, hosting and staging activities outdoors present.”
  • The Librarians’ Virtual Toolkit: Books and Reading Supporting Mental Health – West Midland Readers Netowrk / Eventbrite. 17 June 2pm. ” explore the relationship between our various reading offers and mental health”
  • ‘Libraries saved my life’, says Lowborn author Kerry Hudson – BookSeller. ““I am extremely grateful to be here to tell you how essential libraries have been to me in my life. Mine is a happier ending than I could ever have imagined for myself, for a kid from a background like mine. And that is thanks to libraries. It is thanks to librarians. It’s genuinely no overstatement to say I don’t think I’d be alive today without libraries.””

International news

Local news by authority

“On Saturday (June 5) trade unions and local communities came together in a rally in George Square in central Glasgow. It was the first time in several weeks of campaigning against the closure of libraries and other venues, that the various action groups had come together in at united display of anger at Glasgow City Council – and their ‘arms-length’ cultural body Glasgow Life. Their strength was emphasised by their keeping the weekly read-ins and picketting going at the local libraries under threat, while the rally proceeded. There was visible support from local branches of trade unions such as GMB, Unison and UNITE, as well as from Glasgow Trades Council.

Many see their activity as part of the long running national campaign against library closures and rundowns, with one activist displaying the logo of a similar campaign in Devon. She is Ruth Gillett of the ‘Friends of People’s Palace, Winter Gardens & Glasgow Green’ fighting to preserve a large area of Glasgow long seen as belonging directly to the people of the city. She welcomed a photograph being taken of their newly created banner, and told Workers it was made by artist Stasia Rice. Their representaive spoke at the rally before it marched the short distance to the City Council building. An umbrella campaign ‘Glasgow Against Closures’ has been set up to co-ordinate further action.”

Eddie McGuire, via email