Libraries’ Ambition report offers £4m fund but ‘ignores the real issues’

2 December 2016

From The Bookseller:

The long-awaited Ambition report for Public Libraries has been published, urging local authorities to use libraries to deliver other public services such as health, with the help of a £4m dedicated fund.

Eight months after the draft Ambition document was released, the official document advising on a strategy to create a sustainable sector has been published by the department of culture, media and sport (DCMS), calling on local authorities to use libraries to provide public services such as employment, health and learning opportunities.

Such a use for libraries will help to keep the sector sustainable, the report says, following the closure of hundreds of services across the country since austerity measures came in in 2010 as pressurised local councils seek to make savings.

The document also called on local authorities to make the best use of library buildings, staff and services, urging them to “think innovatively” to help increase reading, literacy and digital access in communities.

. . . .

The Libraries Taskforce is also piloting new ways for libraries to generate income from government initiatives, such as delivering the National Citizen Service programme from libraries for young people from next year.

However, it offers no robust statistics on library closures and redundancies of librarians in the UK, which campaigners had called for. Libraries campaigners have also criticised it for “lacking ambition” and “avoiding” tackling more difficult structural issues the sector is facing.

. . . .

“If we are going to build a country that works for everyone then we need to recognise that libraries are among our most valuable community assets and they remain hugely popular,” he said. “More people went to a library in England last year than visited the cinema, Premier League football games and the top 10 UK tourist attractions combined.”

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

First Public Library Brings Excitement to Small Town

20 November 2016

From Central Illinois Proud:

There’s new excitement in the town of Flanagan.

“I think it’s one of the most positive things that has happened in this town for a long time and it’s just wonderful,” said Jane Roeschley while she checked out the new library.

“People have been asking, when is this going to happen, when is this going to open, you know, a lot of people think you can just put up shelves,” said founder, Kim Wargo.

. . . .

For years, people living in the town had to at least 20 miles just to check out a book, which inspired Kim Wargo to make a change.

“I think it gives people a lot of opportunities to come and use the computer, the internet, and to just experience how it’s nice to have a book,” she said.

It’s that message that convinced the bank owners to donate their old building.

In 2014 a property tax referendum brought in the money to help get the project going, and change the face of the town.

“We have been just noticing in the community in the past couple of years of how there needs to be new life in the community and this library is part of that,” said Dan Mays.

. . . .

It’s bringing the town of just over 1,000 people even closer together.

Link to the rest at Central Illinois Proud

A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy

12 November 2016

A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.

E.B. White

The Camelback Library

12 November 2016

From The Trumpet:

What do you do if you are a young book lover? You go to the library. But what if you live in the rural regions of the Gobi desert? Your situation would be bleak—were it not for Dashdondog Jamba. He has devoted his life to writing, translating, publishing and transporting books to children all over Mongolia with his Children’s Mobile Library.

“I can’t remember how many trips I have made—I have lost count,” Mr. Jamba said. “Sometimes we travel by camel, sometimes on horseback, and with horse carts or ox carts; we now also have our van.”

Over the last 20 years, his library has traveled 50,000 miles through every province of Mongolia—mostly before the van was part of the operation. Jamba’s assistants are his wife and his son. They often spend several days in one place to give as many children as possible a chance to read their books.

“[It] is a little different from other libraries,” Jamba says. “The walls of this reading room are made of mountains covered with forest, the roof is blue sky, the floor is a flower-covered steppe, and the reading light bulb is the sun.”

. . . .

What effect has 20 years of generous giving had on Jamba? Has it worn him down? Has it jaded him? No, it has made him happy! “My devotion for children is my happiness,” he said. Author Ramendra Kumar spent time with Jamba in 2009, and said: “With his cherubic smile, bright sparkling eyes and an endearing countenance he inspires trust. No wonder wherever he has gone in Mongolia he has succeeded in winning the love, affection and confidence of children”.

Link to the rest at The Trumpet

Dashdondog Jamba


E-books can be lent by libraries just like normal books, rules EU’s top court

11 November 2016

From Ars Technica UK:

Public libraries can lend out electronic books, the European Union’s highest court has ruled.

The judgment confirms the opinion of Maciej Szpunar, advocate general to the the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), who said back in June that lending out e-books should be permitted in the 28-member-state bloc provided authors are fairly compensated in the same way as for physical books.

. . . .

Specifically, VOB wanted to use a “one copy, one user” model. A copy of an e-book is placed on the server of a public library, allowing a member of the public to download it. Only one copy at a time can be lent out in this way. After the lending period for the e-book expires, the downloaded copy can no longer be used by that user, but another copy can be downloaded by someone else.

Link to the rest at Ars Technica UK and thanks to Nate for the tip.

Specters in the stacks: Haunted libraries

7 November 2016

From the OUPblog:

Some people love libraries so much, they never leave. Though no living human being knows exactly what happens—or doesn’t happen—after death, certain library patrons have reported unnatural, paranormal events occurring within the walls of these four supposedly haunted libraries. Could they be ghosts attempting to check out a new Sci-Fi novel or mischievously disrupting the organized stacks? Or are these sightings and sounds merely natural coincidences? We spoke to these four haunted libraries about their stories, and here’s what they had to say:

Saline County Library, Benton, Arkansas

Ashley Jones, Adult Programmer at the Saline County Library, is no stranger to spookiness in the library. The library, which had an old branch that was closed in 2002, was (and is) home to many a bewildering event. One story from the old branch concerns a painting of two women in rocking chairs on the library’s wall. On 29 January 1988, there was a fire in that building that closed the library until the middle of April of the same year. Everything but the painting and the area immediately around it burned. As one of Ashley’s coworkers puts it, the old branch was “filled with demons.” Many staff members remember hearing voices when they were alone; the old director heard a typewriter tapping when she was alone.

Some of Ashley’s experiences include seeing a woman with big, black bushy hair standing in the children’s section when she’s the first one in the building in the morning, and seeing the lower half of someone in a black skirt walking through the large print fiction area. There was no one else in that area. She will also hear people stomping up and down the stairs early in the morning later at night. The sound of chairs moving across the floor in the story time room, as well as books pages rustling, also accompany a day at work in the library. Books fall off the shelves occasionally. Ashley notes one comical story, saying, “Once I thought one of my coworkers spoke to me, I answered her, then asked her another question to have my office mate point out that no one was there but the two of us. Oddly enough, the spirit was talking about doughnuts.”

Link to the rest at OUPblog

Authors condemn plans to shut Hay-on-Wye library

24 October 2016

From The Bookseller:

Authors including Joanne Harris, Kathy Lette and Robert Harris have slammed proposals to shut the library in Hay-on-Wye as “blasphemous” and “disastrously short sighted”.

. . . .

The local library in Hay-on-Wye – home to the annual Hay Festival of Literature & Arts – has been earmarked for closure under the proposals, i news has reported.

The town’s residents have until 31st October to present the council with a “viable” plan outlining how they intend to raise half of the £36,000 needed each year to run their library, the town’s deputy mayor has said.

Lette, an Australian novelist based in the UK, branded the proposals as “blasphemous”.

“How can the country which gave the world its greatest literary giants…keep closing libraries, let alone in a town famous for the literati?” Lette said. “Keep this up and you’ll become a nation of the illiterate. Why you would sabotage your own cultural heritage in this brutal fashion is mind boggling.”

Lette added: “For deprived children, the library is often the only novel thing in their area. It’s a lifeline, an escape, a window to another world – a window the Government must not be allowed to close.”

. . . .

“One of the only ways this country pays its way in the world is [through] the arts. Most of us [authors] started out taking books out of our local libraries. I certainly did and I owe an awful lot to them,” Harris said. “[Given the] grim [state of the economy], we need libraries [now] more than ever”.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

The Library Is Dead. Long Live the Library!

20 October 2016

From The Millions:

“Close down the lending libraries and buy every citizen an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription,”Forbes contributor Tim Worstall wrote in July 2014, arguing that his native U.K. might thus save a lot of taxpayers’ money.

Given that the amount of new digital content produced in 2011 amounts to several million times the combined contents of every book ever written, it is easy to see why technology-fascinated experts and non-specialists alike have propagated the idea that libraries will soon fall prey to Google, Amazon, and other technological giants. However, public libraries around the globe are increasingly disproving hardcore pessimists like Worstall and others who find libraries irrelevant in the modern age. Simply put, these pessimists make a fundamental mistake: They look at libraries as reactionary spaces filled with nothing but shelves.

Another feature of the modern age is the expanding gulf between the information rich and the information poor. According to the Pew Research Center, adults with more education, higher household incomes, and more technologies connected to the Internet “are more likely to be participants in today’s educational ecosystem and to use information technology to navigate the world.”

The digital divide poses numerous challenges in affluent countries like the United States, as well as in poorer and smaller countries like Bulgaria (where I come from).

. . . .

“With all these technologies, libraries are becoming more important because the process of critically sifting out information and finding the right information will be growing more important,” explains Spaska Tarandova, director of the Global Libraries Foundation in Bulgaria. “The freedom of space requires that one has basic skills in evaluating which resource is reliable [and] which one is the product of someone’s imagination and speculation.”

Many people, particularly the young, have a fundamentally incorrect understanding of information literacy, says Elitsa Lozanova-Belcheva, a researcher and professor at Sofia University who has also worked as a librarian. Young people, she says, interpret information literacy as the ability to do a simple Google search, write and read emails, and chat with friends on Facebook. These and other activities are a long way from information literacy, she says, and that’s why most people should go through training to master more of the resources available online.

. . . .

Public libraries in Bulgaria and many other countries benefit the less privileged members of the communities outside the capital city. Lozanova-Belcheva agrees with Tarandova that libraries can help bridge the digital divide. She explains that this divide is still more serious when one takes into account ethnic minorities, such as the Roma in Bulgaria, and citizens with disabilities who face a greater risk of social exclusion. Properly maintained public libraries empower minority communities by providing access to modern technologies and the training to use these technologies for education- and work-related purposes.

In addition to information and computer literacy, libraries have discovered another promising niche: e-government.

“Over the past few years, libraries have come to serve as an intermediary between [citizens and authorities] through e-government services,” says Lozanova-Belcheva, explaining that some libraries in the U.S. have e-government librarians who help users navigate the sea of administrative and oftentimes incomprehensible language of modern-day bureaucracies. “Global trends show that users themselves prefer to use e-government services through the library because they trust this institution.”

E-government services, through which citizens can access administrative information and contact public institutions and officials from a distance, have now left the confines of American libraries and have popped up in their counterparts in Bulgaria.

. . . .

This spring, the regional library in the city of Varna, in cooperation with a local robotics school, organized a 3-D printing and modeling course. The library, which in March became the first public library in Bulgaria to introduce self-checkout, offered several three-hour editions of the course in the span of a few months. During the course, participants, who had to be at least 12 and bring their own laptops, learned to model 3-D objects such as a simple cube, a favorite character, or a practical tool for daily use.

For its part, the regional library in the town of Stara Zagora has launched a service unique for Bulgaria: bibliotherapy. Eleven certified consultants, who have completed training organized by the library and funded by the Global Libraries Foundation, consult library users and assist them in finding books that address some of their troubles. “With this service, readers receive special attention, enough time to share the problem that bothers them, conversation confidentiality, and a specially selected book,” explains Nadezhda Grueva, director of the Stara Zagora Regional Library.

Link to the rest at The Millions

Time Lapse

15 October 2016

The New York Public Library is a lovely place.




Lords to debate library ‘crisis’ and independent bookshops

4 October 2016

From The Bookseller:

Campaigners have called for the House of Lords to intervene in the “crisis” in the public library sector and to pledge its support for independent booksellers ahead of a debate about the significance of libraries and bookshops in UK society.

Organised by Lord John Bird, founder of The Big Issue magazine, the debate will see speakers – including Penguin Random House chair Baroness Gail Rebuck – discuss the cultural, civic and educational significance of local libraries and independent bookshops in the United Kingdom in the House of Lords on Thursday 13th October.

. . . .

Earlier this year, a report by the BBC found that the widespread library closures across the UK have resulted in the loss of almost 8,000 jobs in the last six years. The investigation revealed that the amount of volunteers in use in libraries has almost doubled since 2010, rising from 15,861 to 31,403. In this time, the number of paid staff fell from 31,977 to 24,044, which is a drop of 25% for the 182 libraries that provided comparable data. The report also found that a total of 343 libraries have closed in the same time period. This number of closures in England is higher than the government’s official estimate of 110 closures.

. . . .

Elizabeth Ash, trustee of the Library Campaign, hopes that the discussion will see the issues affecting the library service “properly debated”, including discussions about the loss of “so many libraries” and also the drop in funding to support the remaining libraries, which has “led to the loss of library workers who are vital to delivering and effective library service” and to “reduced opening hours” and “depleted stock”, Ash said.

She concluded: “The current focus of local politicians on open doors without proper consideration of the level of service being offered needs to be addressed. We’d not accept many of the models being proposed in our schools, for example, so why should we for libraries?”

. . . .

In 2014, The Bookseller reported that the number of independent bookshops in the UK had fallen below 1,000 for the first time due to rising rents and rates, less trade as high streets suffer and competition from supermarkets, online retailers and readers migrating to e-books. By November 2015, the number of indie bookshops had fallen to 895. Although while Tim Godfray, c.e.o. of the Bookseller’s Association (BA), described the figures as “deeply depressing” he also said that the rate of decline was slowing.

Giles Clifton, head of corporate affairs at the BA, said he hoped the debate would bring attention to two issues of concern for booksellers -fair competition in the book market, and the heavy and disproportionate tax burden bookshops face compared with some of their main international competitors.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

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