Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Briefing, last updated 24.8.10

Decline in library usage.  20.8.10 Library usage has gone down from 48.2% in 2005/6 to 39.4% in 2009/10 according to DCMS report.  This is seen as a softening up of the public for preparation for cuts by some.  . Coverage in Telegraph, BBC, Radio 4 and Guardian. The Guardian argues that falls are due to decline in investment and in the number of books on the shelves. Norwich is doing the best. Another theory is that libraries do not cater to those who read. 25.8.10 UNISON is also not happy.

The Government has announced its library support programme, with 10 groupings of library authorities working on different initiatives. The text is positive if vague ... Lewisham, which is proposing the closure of five libraries, is among three dozen local authorities which will participate.  "The huge fear is that 1,000 libraries could be lost in the budget cuts and this programme has done nothing to reduce that risk," says Tim Coates.
20.8.10 Do you hear what I hear? It is the sound of a back door being quietly opened to the privatisation of the library service. The 1964 Act is being dismantled by stealth.  The Future Libraries Programmes is starting to (20.8) worry people and the (25.8) Reading Agency agrees libraries must not be a soft touch.

A lot of the emphasis is often on using volunteers, opening up "libraries" in supermarkets and pubs. The Telegraph (25.8.10) visits the library pub but stresses the need for adequate funding and books.

Bonfire of the Quangoes - The £65m p.a.MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives Council) is to be abolished from 2012 -  - as is the Legal Deposit Advisory Board.  This leaves libraries without any quango to represent it to government or to support it at a national level.  The worry is that libraries are now less defended, with even the lacklustre help of the MLA (which at least some librarians feel concentrated more on its funding on museums) being taken away. Two non-government funded organisations (and thus part of the "Big Society") - the Reading Agency and CILIP - may, or may not, be able or willing to take up the abolished organisation's funding/duties in future years. The strong suspicion is that the funding will revert to the Treasury

CILIP has produced a report on "Defining our professional future" -  - with the main findings being that professionals expect their workload to increase and their resources to decrease, that "librarian skills" are less important than interpersonal/ICT ones and that relatively few professionals are clear as to the benefit of belonging to CILIP

Job Losses and Branch closures.  Southampton - strikes in libraries as council proposes bringing in volunteers to replace library staff . Nottinghamshire - council seeks 3000 job losses. 24.8.10 Doncaster mass read-in in protest against library closures as three libraries earmarked for closure.

25.8.10 protests about poor state of Canton Library in Cardiff.seems to have resulted in new fund being found. Library usage is up in Wales by 6.8%, the Welsh Assembly trumpets.

25.8.10 Scottish libraries have launched an free online service to give fully researched answers within 48 hours.

Self Service. Harrow is looking at reducing staff in all its libraries, replacing them with self-service machines, as a way of saving money. Currently in consultation with staff and unions, with an agreement to be made in October. Dorset have introduced self-service into all libraries.

Ebooks - South Ayrshire have introduced a library ebook service .

USA Public Library News

24.8.10 Newsweek gives depressing overview of US libraries in decline.

24.8.10 Pro public library campaign Geek The Library goes national.

Self-service library kiosks at railway stations for commuters - "Children love the machines; their nose prints are visible on the glass as they carefully make their choices" and in the suburbs

They're a bit harsher than in the UK - defaulting library user with two late books charged $393 on pain of being sent to jail.

Farewell Libraries? . Cuts in funding mean staff lost and branches closed, right at the time when the unemployed need them the most. The urban library has become America's knowledge center but "The problem is that many leaders think of libraries as they existed in the 1960s and '70s".  Libraries placed in Malls are very popular with both users and the Malls themselves.

Report shows positive impact of computers in libraries - “There is no ambiguity in these numbers. Millions of people see libraries as an essential tool to connect them to information, knowledge, and opportunities” 

Successful public library service has emphasised its customers and positioned itself with schools, resulting in major increase in usage.

The Book World

USA - Barnes & Noble, the biggest bookseller in the USA, is up for sale after a 37% slide in profits. Amazon is the most likely buyer or could it be a manager buyout? Barnes and Noble's decline my be down to not evolving. They were the dominant bookseller in the USA and should have beaten Amazon - but they failed to do so. 24.8.10 The company has spent millions on a poison pill legal defense also.

UK - Girls read more than boys SHOCK, and the trend seems to be getting more pronounced.

WORLD - Number of published books now approaching 130 million  OR IS IT?

Ebooks - Nicholas Negroponte says the book is "dead in five years" with ebooks overtaking physical book sales by then .  Half of e-book readers say they no longer like print books.  
Infographic on ebooks vs. books. Ebooks are to books what mp3 is to vinyl/CDs... and it's going to be a big improvement to reading

The UK e-reader market has shot up an impressive 150 per cent over the last ten months, according to research from GfK. The analyst also claims the average price of devices has dropped by 12 per cent, coinciding with a huge influx of new vendors in the market.  90 minute online lecture (sound with slides) on ebooks - biggest most popular ebooks are right-protected tieing you into the seller (notable Kindle/Amazon) and leaving the user open to title being lost due to damage/seller decision/obsolete. Market is changing constantly - ipad may be making e-ink and ebook readers obsolete.  66% of public libraries in US offer ebook provision but only 13m ebook loans issued in US 2009/10, a tiny fraction of total title lend.  .

Public Library Fun

11 great films where librarians save the day.

New Spice, not Old Spice - in the Library, 2 million views on Facebook.

Librarians are so cool, they are leaving behind museum workers in their wake - and annoying them - "Librarians are lapping us, so I echo the throwing down of the gauntlet. And can we also mention their goofiness in doing book-cart drill teams? What I really love about librarians is that they are willing to poke fun of themselves, which actually helps to make them even more relevant to the public. And, finally, the American Library Association has an amazing online shop with library gear of all sorts. It is amazing. We need museum gear!!"

Five witty librarian videos, including the Cookie Monster.

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