Congratulations to Nick Poole who has announced he will become the Chief Executive of the trade association for UK video games in April. Nick, if you don’t know what “games as a service”, “freemium”, “Pay to win” and, oh my goodness, “loot boxes” are, I pity you. But assuming you do know these things, well done that man. Nick, Chief Executive of CILIP, has done a tremendous amount for public libraries in campaigning for them and generally making CILIP useful for the sector. Before he came, my memory at least was that CILIP was in the doldrums, refusing to criticise the Government even in the height of Austerity and suffering from self-inflicted wounds such as planning to rename itself, I kid you not, ILPUK. Nick did away with all that, with grace and professionalism. Thank you, Nick.

And, oh my, did I mention the height of Austerity. Well, everyone, let’s welcome back David Cameron into the Cabinet. Good grief. There was even an article I read this morning from his friend Ed Vaizey speculating how he got on. Remember Ed? A notorious Libraries Minister but at least one who stuck around for a few years so people got to know how bad he was. Unlike the current ones, who appear to have difficulty lasting more than twelve months. Yep, I’m going all nostalgic over Ed. Good grief again. That’s also possibly because times are feeling a bit deja vu at the moment. There’s lots of councils worrying about cut budgets and looking at libraries as a possible solution. Hmm, sounds familiar. But some things have changed – CILIP is now an experienced campaigning voice and Libraries Connected is now up and running, effective and useful. And I suspect cutting libraries will be harder this time. Especially with just one year of the current Government remaining. One can hope.

Now back to gaming and let’s see if there’s anything good in this next loot box …

Changes by local authority

National news

  • 25,000 publisher donated books sent to Ukraine – Book Aid. “The books on this shipment should reach Kyiv in November. From there, PEN Ukraine will distribute them to libraries across Ukraine, including to frontline and liberated territories.”
  • Creating Safer Libraries – Libraries Connected. “We want libraries to be safe, supportive environments for everyone. To underpin this libraries
    need clear, enforceable policies and consistent, informed support from their local authority and
    the police. That firm back-stop needs to be balanced with training for staff that gives them the
    confidence to address disruptive behaviour and, where possible, the ability to engage with and
    turn potentially challenging behaviour into something more constructive.”
  • Dagger in the Library – CWA. “This year, we want UK and Irish libraries – and their users – to propose names of crime writers to be listed for the award, before we get to the voting stage.”

“We need your input! This year the Crime Writers’ Association is running the prestigious Dagger in the Library award a little differently. While in January we’ll get to the stage where we want you to nominate crime writers from a list (three votes per library, as per usual, via our website and to be made by 29 February 2024), first of all we want your help in compiling that list of crime writers. So, please would you email us names of crime writers who you think should be on the list to vote for Dagger in the Library this year? You’re very welcome – encouraged in fact! – to consult your borrowers!”

  • Open Access Libraries – Libraries Connected. “Many services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland offer a mixed model of service delivery including a variety of ways in which access to library services, eg extending access through partnerships, volunteers, and the use of technology. This guidance notice focuses on some of the key considerations for library services exploring the use of technology to extend access for residents and communities to their local library.”
  • Nick Poole to step down as CEO of CILIP – CILIP. ” Nick has personally overseen … delivery of key initiatives including the launch of CILIP’s refreshed Code of Ethics, the Changing Lives programme promoting inclusive, participatory and socially-engaged library and knowledge services, and the Arts Council England-funded Managing Safe and Inclusive Library Services: A Practical Guide. An exceptional advocate for the profession, Nick has enabled CILIP to move to a more proactive ‘campaigning’ approach to advocacy, political and media relations, launching a series of highly successful initiatives. These include: #FactsMatter, Great School Libraries, and the joint CILIP-NHS #AMillionDecision campaign. A real thought-leader, Nick led the team which saw the successful launch of the UK’s first-ever Green Libraries Campaign …”
  • The Reading Agency and the Youth Sport Trust invite children on a winter reading adventure – Reading Agency. “The Winter Mini Challenge will launch on 1 December and run until 19 February”
  • Universal Library Offers calendar – Libraries Connected. For 2024.

International news

“Measuring outcomes of public library services can be difficult. But outcomes data is essential to keep funders (like local government) happy. EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) Impact Manager Ugne Lipeikaite provides pointers for how to measure library service outcomes.”
  • Canada – Meet Katja, RDPL’s Facility Dog in Training – Princh. Chocolate labrador: “she is not attached to just one person but rather is here for the facility to enrich the library’s services and programs for the public.”
  • Ireland – Welcome to Library Ireland Week 2023 – Library Ireland. “Library Ireland Week will take place from Sunday 3rd December to Saturday 9th December 2023! It’s time to plan events, activities and social media campaigns celebrating libraries and library staff. The theme for the week is ‘Libraries are for Everyone’ #LIW23 @LAIonline”
  • Retiring Wicklow librarian hails Irish service as one of ‘most progressive in the world’ – Irish Independent. “You hear stories about funding being cut in England or America, and depending on where you are, the quality of library services greatly differs … I’ve learned from members of the Arklow Library English chat group that libraries in places like Spain and Brazil just don’t do what we’re doing. They’re more old-fashioned, a ‘this is where you get your books and be quiet’ kind of thing.”
  • Japan – ‘What You are Looking For is in the Library’: A tender tale with a touch of whimsy – Japan Times. “Set in the fictional ward of Hatori in Tokyo, Michiko Aoyama’s novel “What You are Looking For Is in the Library” is centered on the library in a local community center. The narrative unfolds from the perspective of five characters who, while not explicitly unhappy, yearn for change yet feel stymied in their efforts. None of them are really sure of what they are searching for — until they find themselves in the presence of enigmatic librarian Sayuri Komachi, that is.”
  • Morocco – State of public libraries in Morocco – Emerald. Behind paywall. “Public libraries in Morocco face various issues such as lack of available data and research, lack of appropriate funds, education in the field of library and information sciences, low rate of reading culture within the country and the high rate of illiteracy, all of which obstruct the development of Moroccan librarianship. There is a necessary reform need and action in order to help in the development of libraries in the country.”
USA – Beautiful library, worth a look just for the envy factor
  • Op-Ed: How to Create Libraries of the Future  – Urbanist. Scarily, number one is “Strengthen library facilities for extreme weather events.”. Others are: double down on community activation; plan for future capital bonds; build safe walking, biking, and transit connections between library facilities and other major destinations; shifting key performance indicators to figures which represent engagement per day and per location and per program; stabilize funding streams.
  • This Week In Libraries – Publishers Weekly. New York libraries budget cuts; strong push for censorship in several states; Scholastic book fairs being attacked for including books some people don’t agree with; increasing number of people (especially the young) getting their news from Tik-Tok [! – Editor].

Local news by authority

“On your watch Cllr Hart you have thrown money at fancy refurbishments and privatisation and at the same time you have cut opening hours, turned library assistants into “customer service assistants” and cut the book stock. We constantly hear from you and Cllr Croad that you have not closed any libraries but what you done is hollow out the libraries. And anyway mobile libraries are libraries so let’s shout it out so everyone knows – you have closed eight libraries (four in 2011 and four now).”

Comment on Mid Week Herald article
  • Dorset – Dorset Council takes next steps in modernising libraries – Dorset Echo. “This stage of the council’s library strategy is aiming to ensure employees feel ‘valued and empowered’ with career opportunities made available to them. It will develop flexible resourcing across its library network to allow staff to develop a range of skills and experiences.”

“This report is misleading at the very least. As a library assistant I can confirm that we are facing redundancy and being forced to reapply for our jobs. There is no protection for those on permanent contracts over fixed term. The majority of staff are women over 50 on part-time posts and this is not being considered in the proposed new hours. We have been told that our new jobs are not in the council’s flexible working, and therefore go against current council policy. We have no say in our roles, we are all expected to be clones of each other in a ‘one size fits all’ approach, again not following council policy. Zero hours and Casual posts are being got rid of, and all staff are now expected to travel to other libraries and have the use of a car regardless of any disabilities or mobility issues. And we can’t even have a say in which libraries we can realistically travel to. There is no scope for career progression or specialism.” Dorset – Comment on news story