Which are the most borrowed library books in the UK?

8 February 2016

From The Telegraph:

The importance of libraries to national literacy was underlined again today with the news that five children’s authors – Julia Donaldson, Daisy Meadows, Francesca Simon, Jacqueline Wilson and the collective who write under the pen name Adam Blade – are among the Top 10 most borrowed authors in UK libraries, according to figures from the latest annual data released today by Public Lending Right.

The survey, released on the eve of National Libraries Day, covers 2014-15 and shows again the dominance of thriller writer James Patterson, who topped the chart for the most borrowed author for the ninth year running, and crime writers such as Lee Child. It was also the first year that payments were made for audio books. Here are 10 things we learned from the findings:


The man who has churned out more than 300 novels (or paid other writers to do so, having given them a “detailed outline”) released 15 books in 2014 alone. The popularity of his thriller novels remains undimmed. James Patterson is still the most borrowed author and has four books – Invisible, Unlucky 13, NYPD Red and Burn Century – in the top 20 most borrowed titles. He is also the author with the most appearances in the Top 100 most borrowed titles list, with 10. However, although overseas authors such as Patterson and Lee Child are included in the loans figures, they aren’t eligible for PLR payments. The 202 authors who receive the maximum capped £6,600 are all from the UK.

. . . .


Broken down by travel and holiday genre, the most borrowed book in the UK was Lonely Planet’s Italy by Cristian Bonetto. But it came top in only one region: London. Elsewhere, readers looked to their own locality. In Scotland the most borrowed was Edinburgh for Under Fives, edited by Cathy Tingle; in Wales it was Insufficiently Welsh, by Griff Rhys Jones; and in Yorkshire it was North York Moors & Yorkshire Wolds, by Mike Bagshaw.


Mary Berry was the most burrowed non-fiction writer, but MC Beaton, author of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth crime fiction books, is the most borrowed British author of books for adults, at number five. She has held this title for the last six years. MC Beaton said: “I am thrilled to bits to be the most borrowed British author in UK public libraries. Writing is a very isolating job and, as I am only human, PLR is a sort of lifeline to me from the general borrowing public. I thank them from the bottom of my inky heart.”

. . . .


Despite having been dead since  1998, Catherine Cookson remains the UK’s most borrowed author over the past 20 years: her books have been borrowed over 32 million times between 1995 and 2015. Jacqueline Wilson is the UK’s most borrowed children’s author over the past 20 years: her books have been borrowed over 24 million times between 1995 and 2015.

Link to the rest at The Telegraph

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Covers – 1926-1947

13 January 2016

From The New York Public Library Digital Collections:

Despite the fact that dust jackets often include useful information about a book and its author, including biographical notes and often a portrait, it has long been Research Libraries practice to remove the jackets from new books during processing for their permanent place in the stacks. However, from 1926 to 1947, anonymous librarians selected and saved interesting jackets from books of all sorts. Arranged roughly by date published/acquired, these paper covers eventually filled the 22 large scrapbooks presented here. This digital collection offers, first, a view of each jacket’s front, spine, and inside flap; jacket backs and flaps may be viewed by clicking the “View Verso” button on the “image details” pages.

The jackets in the collection are from books published in the United States and Europe during two turbulent decades.

Link to the rest at The New York Public Library
















In Age of Google, Librarians Get Shelved

11 January 2016

From The Wall Street Journal:

The next time you visit a public library and see an older person at the information desk, someone near retirement age, take a good look. You may be seeing the last of a dying breed, the professional librarian.

Years ago, a librarian was someone who held a master’s degree in library science (MLS) issued by a graduate program accredited by the American Library Association. Those of us who attended library schools underwent rigorous preparation, usually assignments that forced us to become familiar with the reference books and research tools that filled the university library.

The Internet changed all that. The library user who used to rely on a librarian for help can now Google his question and find more data in a few seconds than a librarian was able to locate in hours of research.

Many people who work as librarians no longer hold an MLS degree. Public libraries have created a new position called “library associate”—college graduates who do the same work as librarians but receive lower salaries than their MLS counterparts.

The erosion of the MLS degree has been mirrored by the disappearance of library schools from American universities. The University of Chicago and Columbia University once offered the best librarian training programs in the country; both institutions closed their library schools in the early 1990s.

. . . .

The mood among some librarians is pessimistic. A New Mexico librarian recently told me: “I spend most of my time making change and showing people how to print from the computer or use the copier. I sure don’t get the reference questions like I used to.”

A colleague in the Washington, D.C., area expressed similar views: “If I didn’t spend my time helping people look for lost keys, wallets, jackets, sweaters, gloves, backpacks, cellphones and laptops, I’m not sure I’d even have a job.”

. . . .

One bright spot: Some public libraries have created jobs for “technology assistants,” positions filled by tech-savvy young people with community-college degrees and plans for information-technology careers.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

Libraries may be contributing to decline in e-book sales

9 January 2016

From Greenwich Time:

The e-book industry was expected to topple the printing industry in much the same way the Internet has revolutionized print news — quickly and with little mercy.

And for a while it seemed like that would be the case, but a slew of new data from 2015 indicates that is far from reality as the e-book industry is trending downward and print sales are enjoying a resurgence.

According to Forbes, the global e-book industry generated $8.4 billion in revenue in 2013, compared to $53.9 billion in global print revenue. In 2014, e-book sales plateaued and in 2015 declined across the board.

 Among the reasons attributed to the decline in e-book sales are a reduction in the number of first-time e-reader purchasers — many people already have one — and an increase in the price of e-books. The five major publishers — Penguin/Random House, Macmillan, Simon and Schuster, Harper Collins and Hachette — have implemented a new pricing mechanism, increasing the cost of many e-books from $9.99 to $14.99.

Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, director at the Greenwich Library, said one reason sales could be on the decline is that checking out e-books from the library has become so much easier in recent years. Greenwich Library uses the Overdrive digital library, implemented by public libraries across the country, to allow users to download library books directly to their e-readers. The library even hosted a workshop Wednesday to help people who received e-readers as holiday gifts learn how to use them and check out books through the Overdrive system.

. . . .

“Use of e-books in our library have continued to increase and the reason that people use e-books and why they’re becoming more popular is, first of all, you can access them from our downloadable library 24/7,” Ormerod-Glynn said. “The library does not have to be open for you to put a hold on or check out an e-book. Also e-books were first introduced to the market, it was easier to download from Amazon than from the library. But Overdrive has really improved access and library staff at reference desks are comfortable helping our patrons no matter what device they bring in.”

Link to the rest at Greenwich Time

Libraries Lend Record Numbers of Ebooks and Audiobooks in 2015

6 January 2016

From Digital Book World:

Overdrive, the leading supplier of digital content to libraries and schools, reported Tuesday that, in 2015, readers borrowed more than 169 million ebooks. This marked a 24-percent increase over 2014. There was also a notable spike in audiobook usage, which saw a faster growth rate than ebook library borrowing.

. . . .

• Ebook circulation was 125 million (19-percent growth over 2014)
• Digital audiobook circulation was 43 million (36-percent growth over 2014)
• Streaming video circulation was up 83 percent over 2014
• 33 library systems circulated 1 million or more digital books in 2015
• Lending of digital magazines and newspapers grew significantly in 2015 (introduced in late 2014)
• Reader visits to OverDrive-powered library and school websites was 750 million (up 14 percent from 2014)

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Don’t worry too much about library book germs

31 December 2015

From Chris Meadows on TeleRead:

When you go to the library for a book to read, I’ll bet the notion that it might carry germs never even crosses your mind. But the truth is, any object that people touch picks up germs—especially objects that lots of people touch. That’s why supermarkets these days have sanitary wipe dispensers with the shopping carts. And the thing about library books—especially popular library books—is that they end up getting touched by lots of people.

That’s what a post on Mental Floss points out, looking at the history of research into “library book grossness.” It includes mention of experiments in which guinea pigs were injected with a solution extracted from the pages of dirty library books, and promptly ended up dying of tuberculosis, strep infections, and other nasty diseases.

The bright side is, you’d effectively have to have a scientist extract the germs and inject them into you for there to be any actual risk of infection from an unsanitary library book. The Wall Street Journal notes that germs need a “critical mass” to infect people, and there just aren’t enough of them on the average book to do the trick. However, some libraries have had issues with bedbugs. A pesticide specialist recommends that if your library has had an infestation, you could carry your books home in a cloth bag and run them through the dryer for 30 minutes to kill any resident bugs. (But I can’t imagine that being tumbled around in a dryer for 30 minutes would be very good for the books, either!)

Link to the rest at TeleRead

Students help save the job of popular school librarian

20 December 2015

From The Washington Post:

The protesting students won. They have their beloved librarian back.

A Chicago school librarian who had been told her job was ending because of budget troubles will now be staying through the end of the academic year with funds from an anonymous donor who came forward after students organized and staged a “read in” protest at school. After the student action, parents complained and alumni weighed in on the importance of the library and the woman who runs it, Sara Sayigh.

Sayigh said she overwhelmed by the response from students, who protested last week after Sayigh learned she would be out of a job at the end of December and that the fate of the library itself — which is housed at the multi-school DuSable campus on Chicago’s South Side and serves Daniel Hale Williams Prep and the Bronzeville Scholastic Institute — was questionable. Students said that the library and Sayigh were important to their academic work as well as to extra-curricular activities, and they demanded in a petition that she be reinstated and the library remain open.

. . . .

Sayigh said that the students get the credit for saving her job and their library. She said in an interview:

“I am very impressed. I have always been somebody who likes teenagers and working with teenagers but to see them in action in that way was extremely moving to me because they were doing this for their education. They weren’t doing it for something frivolous. There are all these adults who claim you don’t have to have a library or librarian and they say, ‘Isn’t everything on Google,’ and they repeat insulting things about how kids don’t read. But the kids knew that was all not true and they were able to educate the adults. I love the fact that the kids were aware.”

. . . .

Chicago, according to the teachers union, says the city has 46 high schools with a majority African American student population and only three have a full-time librarian. (It would have been two if Sayigh had been forced to leave.)

Link to the rest at The Washington Post

Inside Chinguetti, the Saharan desert city of libraries

22 November 2015

From Metro:

Ancient Egyptians believed the Sahara to be the Land of the Dead, and the sunset side of the desert was where one’s soul would find its final dwelling for the afterlife.

It is no coincidence that the Valley of the Kings and the Old Kingdom Pyramids are on the western side of the Nile.

. . . .

They were not completely wrong, those ancient Egyptians, as the endless, sun-roasted dunes and deceptive sands and mountains, born out of our planet’s slow digestive processes, are almost as hostile to any form of life as you might imagine Mercury to be.

. . . .

Scorched by the sun, whipped by the wind, and strangled by the sand, some of those dry towns made of rough stone would nevertheless become centres of learning, attracting those who sought knowledge from the Maghreb and beyond.

The legendary Ibn Battuta travelled here once, before setting off for China.

That lasted for centuries, but not forever.

The Sahara has now once again returned to being almost empty and quiet.

. . . .

Although there are no more grand caravans, and the countries in the region no longer excel in the realms of knowledge, tiny little gems of that era still remain, the subtle traces of what used to be, and which will never return.

One of those traces is the desert town of Chinguetti in Mauritania, protected by jagged mountains on one side and unbounded, pale gold plateaux on the other, inconspicuous amidst the cruel trickery of deceiving mirages and illusions on the horizon.

. . . .

Follow through a labyrinth of sandy old streets, and you might find a tiny wooden door, a discreet opening in a stone wall.


It seemed like he’d always been there, and always would be, until the end of time.

He carefully showed us ancient, leather-bound volumes, elegant books, booklets, and vellums. Faint smell of old paper or parchments was in the air when his gloved hands showed us notes jotted in red ink on the sides of one of the books, and reports of rich caravans coming into town, with tens of thousands of camels every day.

Centuries ago, people from all over the Islamic world travelled to this and other Chinguetti libraries to learn – and learn for free at that, because owning a library was a symbol of high status and not a source of income.


As the librarian looked at us smiling, I noticed this peculiar dignity to him, and I immediately liked him. I think he liked us too, and was proud and happy to share his treasure with us.

There was something sad and nostalgic about him as well, as if he didn’t know that no one was coming to his library, as if he hadn’t quite yet realised or hadn’t been told that the world had moved on, and there was no going back.

Link to the rest at Metro and thanks to Julia for the tip.

Beneath New York Public Library, Shelving Its Past for High-Tech Research Stacks

16 November 2015

From The New York Times:

As they skate or snack in Bryant Park, visitors might dismiss the stately New York Public Library next door as a dog-eared relic in an age of digital information.

But unbeknown to most of them, 17 feet below ground, in a concrete bunker worthy of the White House, the library is expanding and updating one of the most sophisticated book storage systems in the world.

Since March, after abandoning a much-criticized plan to move the bulk of its research collection to New Jersey, the library has been working instead to create a high-tech space underground for the 2.5 million research works long held in its original stacks.

The books will begin arriving in April, and by the end of spring library officials expect to be using a new retrieval system to ferry the volumes and other materials from their 84 miles of subterranean shelving, loaded into little motorized carts — a bit like miniaturized minecars carrying nuggets of research gold.

To fit all the books in the allotted space, the library will have to abandon its version of the Dewey Decimal System, in which shelving is organized by subject, in favor of a new “high-density” protocol in which all that matters is size.

Books will be stacked by height and tracked by bar code rather than by a subject-based system, making for some odd bookfellows. “Best Food Writing 2013,” edited by Holly Hughes, for example, will be stored next to “War Dog: The No-Man’s Land Puppy Who Took to the Skies,” by Damien Lewis; and “Old Romanian Fairy Tales,” translated by Mirela Roznoveanu, will sit beside “The Hot Dog Companion: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the Food We Love,” by David Graulich.

. . . .

The climate-controlled repository encompasses more than 110,000 square feet divided between the two stories. It stretches from beneath the back wall of the main building, which fronts Fifth Avenue, a full block west to Sixth Avenue, and from 42nd Street to 40th Street.

To complete the second floor, engineers used a hatch that opens onto Bryant Park to funnel in the tons of concrete needed to finish the floor. Because moisture is a dire threat to the books, builders surrounded the space with an extensive drainage network.

Soon, just below where skaters sip cocoa, a nerve center of librarians, curators and clerks, working at computer terminals in a constant 65-degree environment (with 40 percent humidity), will receive electronic requests for the research books and other items.

The retrieval system aims to get the materials from shelf to scholar in less than 40 minutes.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

King County Library System book-sorting crew reclaims ‘national’ title

12 November 2015

From The Seattle Times:

In his office at the King County Library System distribution center, in front of a crowd of cameramen and reporters, Tony Miranda called up his counterpart in New York to compare results in Tuesday’s bicoastal book-sorting smackdown.

The New Yorkers were 201 books short.

So while the Sounders are out, and the Seahawks are struggling, it appears books will be one domain in which the Northwest reigns supreme (at least until next year).

With that call, the KCLS secured the 2015 National Library Sorting title, defeating the New York Public Library by sorting 12,572 books in one hour. In so doing, KCLS got revenge after losing last year’s competition, and is leading the series at 3-2.

The annual competition began after the NYPL folks came out to look at KCLS’ automated materials-handling system — installed in 2005, the first of its kind — and decided to implement their own at their distribution center in Queens. Soon after, phone calls to KCLS by NYPL seeking some advice quickly led to friendly trash talk, and by 2010, the competition was born.

“We’ve made them what they are,” said Miranda, the manager of materials distribution for KCLS.

. . . .

Routinely among the busiest library systems in the country, the KCLS sorting facility processed 14 million books last year, compared to BookOps’ 7.9 million. The Preston facility, east of Issaquah, is where library patrons’ holds are processed. It’s the middleman among the 48 branches in the system.

Though there are fewer patrons served by King County’s library system, KCLS patrons on average check out eight to 10 items a year, a number that assistant distribution manager Steve Albert calls a “lifetime’s worth” for an NYPL patron.

. . . .

If there were an MVP for the whole thing, it would have been Timatha Weber. She was placed at the head of the sorting line, grabbing books from big gray totes and putting them on the conveyor belt, emptying as many as 75-80 totes per hour.

Link to the rest (with a video) at The Seattle Times

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