Tag Archives: public libraries

Julie, Katie, Shona, Kim & Yong’s stories

Julie remembers going to the library before she got the internet at home as a teenager – she used the public library for quick internet access. She had four siblings so it was often easier to go to the public library there.

Shona’s friend had a brand new baby and she was surprised to find she could join the library as a newborn and borrow pictures books for long periods of time.

Kim’s Mum borrowed a computer book from the library and took it home and fixed her own computer.

Katie used the public library to practice her driving theory tests – you could log in with your library number and practice for free at home. It saved her buying the DVDs and the tests changed every time you went on. She passed and it didn’t cost her a penny!

Yong  – A library for relaxed social place. I learned how to use computers from my local library and also enjoyed meeting friends in the libraries for ideas and still do.

Gemma’s story

I used to visit my local library often when I was a kid, where I took out everything I could: non fiction (particularly on Ancient Eygpt); DVDs; and stacks of children’s and pre-teen fiction.

After I joined highschool, I stopped using my local library as my highschool had it’s own well stocked library. I became part of the bookclub there, along with my friends, so it made more sense to use the resources there.

At the end of highschool, I did complete a week of work experience at my local library which I really enjoyed and has obviously been influential later in life. I enjoyed interacting with the patrons: elderly ladies coming in for the Mills and Boon; school children who came in to use the computers after school; younger kids who came in for storytime; visiting schools to drop off books for them.

Callum’s story

I once helped a technology illiterate old man who had tried at another library to get some pictures printed from on his phone regarding extensive damage on his car to send to his insurance company. It turned out he just needed to upload the pictures on to the computer to print rather than print directly from a picture opened from the phone. Libraries can act as a source of information about digital literacy to people who have little to no experience in it, especially the older generation. Many libraries provide some kind of service relating to IT literacy, such as computer classes, but with the increasing dependence on information technology becoming apparent, less and less professionals are being employed, and instead many public libraries are depending on volunteers, that may or may not be digitally literate themselves.

Stephen’s Story

I continue to use the public library I visited as a child. Every week I looked forward to visiting my library in Liverpool. I had a favourite place where I would go to read novels about other worlds, brilliant characters, as well as delving into books on historic people and far off places. I would happily get lost in the books, but when I looked up from them, my favourite view was towards the theatre, where I was keen to see what the next pantomime would be at Christmas. I would also notice the interesting real life characters from all walks of life who were using the library. Since then, many of the subjects I enjoyed reading about, continue to interest and inspire me. When I return to my library now, although it has changed physically, I find that it remains as interesting as ever, with a constant stream of interesting characters coming through its bright new entrance. It still feels like a warm welcoming place, and while I am there, I still experience some of the interest and curiosity which I first experienced when I was a little younger!

Portobello Library and Why I’m Glad It’s here

There were a group of us waiting for the library to open one weekday maybe a month ago. There was a slight drizzle in the air and we were a huddle under the front awnings; myself, an elderly couple and a young father with his pre-teen son.

Another chap came across the road to join us, rather posh English accent and he regaled us with “What a great sight to see; folk queuing to get into the library. There’s hope for us all yet!”

We returned his beaming smile and understood, I think, what he meant.

On returning from self-imposed and work-related exile in England a few years back, almost the first place I sought out was the library in this wee Lothian sea-side town.

I did this due to some deep social instinct which I find difficult to explain. You either believe in communities or you don’t. I guess I wanted to ‘take the measure’ of this little town that was to become my home.

I knew a little about its social demography. There’s slightly poorer folk living on one side of it than there is down the other (one end has a boating and kayak club, the other a Wimpy and an amusement arcade). There are twee little shops on the high street which would stretch the average JSA payment to its very limit and café’s that offer more organic plum chutney and feta than a roll and square sausage (and not a notion of brown sauce anywhere).

The pubs are the same. Some you’d go for the karaoke, others you can take your dog and your children in and chat about portfolios or graphic design over a quirky jam-jar of Shiraz.

But, libraries don’t work in this way and neither should they, but there’s a danger that they will if doomed to be volunteer run. Libraries should be as they are – ‘classless’. I can just as much go into Portobello Library and borrow a DVD of Luis Bunuel’s ‘Belle de jour’ as I can ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ or a Take That CD.

There are lads and lassies from the local school over by the computer games who spraff in broad Lothian accents. There’s a couple of mornings when the cheery librarian fella will lead the wee sons and daughters of the maybe-more-well-to-do in song and laughter in the ‘book-bug sessions’. There are auld yins sitting at the tables at the back who meet every week maybe for a purpose maybe not. There are Eastern Europeans crowded around the computers maybe conversing on-line with those left back home. There are writer’s group’s and art groups.

The staff are friendly, helpful and have plenty of information to hand. They seem of the community and have plenty of local knowledge. They are paid to be local servants of this wee town, whosoever walks through the doors.

‘Volunteerism’ not only does away with a vital profession, for no better reason than it’s an easy target to cut, it threatens the very ‘egalitarianism’ that is so precious in a community such as this. ‘Volunteerism’ will make libraries like Victorian charities. The middle-classes will feel compelled to step in and run things and, like the sea-front cafes and bars, it’ll be by themselves and for themselves, no matter how well-meaning they may see themselves to be.

Dave

Speak Up For Libraries Conference – 14th Nov 2015

The fifth national conference for public library users, workers and campaigners – organised by a network of campaigners and national organisations: Campaign for the Book (Alan Gibbons), CILIP,  The Library Campaign, Unison and Voices for the Library.

Deep and damaging cuts have already been made, But there are signs that people are starting to realise what public service cuts really mean. The political scene is getting a shake-up. Campaigners are as determined as ever. And finally, there’s a national agency tasked with getting action for libraries. Here’s campaigners’ chance to meet the people in charge of it – and lots of other key people!

The key session is the first-ever national campaigners’ dialogue with the top people in the
Libraries Taskforce – Paul Blantern, Chair, and Kathy Settle, Chief Executive.

The Taskforce is the new agency charged with bringing real improvement – and funds – into
libraries. By November, it will have published its first report. So it’s time to tell Paul and
Kathy what campaigners think – and want them to do.

Also talking to a national meeting of campaigners for the first time – Nick Poole, new
broom Chief Executive of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals).

PLUS: Alan Gibbons, outspoken author, education consultant and Campaign for the Book.

PLUS: John Dougherty, author, library advocate, poet and writer of songs (including the classic ‘What’s wrong with Ed Vaizey?’) – complete with guitar.

Places are limited – advance booking is essential. Places allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis, on receipt of payment. Cost: £20 EARLY BIRD (unchanged since last year) including tea & coffee breaks and a pretty good sandwich lunch. £25 AFTER 9 OCTOBER.

Full details & online booking form: www.speakupforlibraries.org

FOLLOW Speak Up For Libraries:
www.twitter.com/SpeakUp4Libs#SUFLconf15
www.facebook.com/SpeakUpForLibraries

The Library Campaign is hosting a get-together, straight after the
conference ends, for those who want to network further.

As always, the day is planned so that you can meet, network and share your ideas, before moving into a face-to-face dialogue with some of the people best-placed to get action for libraries.

Speak Up For Libraries

Barnet Children’s March for Libraries – Sept 12th

A children’s march for libraries will be taking place on 12th September in Barnet. Everyone is welcome, especially children, parents and grand parents. Even if you’re not based in Barnet come along.

The march will start at East Finchley Library at 10:15am, then onto Church End Library, and will finish at 12:30 at North Finchley Library.

Paint a poster!

Make a placard!

Come in fancy dress!

Further information about the event can be found here.

Kids4Libraries

Your thoughts wanted about volunteer-led libraries

A few years ago, public libraries run by volunteers were almost unheard of. But more and more local authorities are turning to the idea. And more and more local people are taking them on as the only way to ‘save’ them.

Speak Up For Libraries (a coalition of organisations and campaigners, including Voices for the Library) wants to hear from anyone with a view about these volunteer-led libraries in the UK, whether they are a volunteer, a library worker or a library user.

Let us know, via SpeakUp4Libraries@gmail.com :

  • What works well and what doesn’t?
  • What are the challenges and considerations?
  • What is the impact on the library service and what do you see as the future?

The information will be used to inform SUFL’s advocacy.  A summary of the evidence will be published.  All information received will be anonymised unless specific permission has been given to identify the contributor and the names of library or library service.

Please email queries, comments and information to SpeakUp4Libraries@gmail.com

(Originally posted on the Speak Up For Libraries site)

Judicial Review challenge of DCMS – evidence needed

The following request for information and evidence to support a legal challenge against the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) has been sent to us by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL). If you can help this legal challenge please contact PIL. Their contact details appear at the foot of this blog post.

 

Judicial Review challenge of Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s failure to investigate Sheffield library closures.

What we’re doing

Public Interest Lawyers are acting on behalf of a client who lives in Sheffield, and is supported by Broomhill Library Action Group (‘BLAG’).

We are challenging the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (‘DCMS’) and their failure to conduct an inquiry into the changes of library services in Sheffield.

We have sought permission to make an application for judicial review. This is the first step of a judicial review claim, in which we have to show that we have an arguable case against the Secretary of State. If we are granted permission (which is not guaranteed) the matter will be heard at a full hearing in the High Court.

Why?

As you will be aware library provision has changed dramatically across the country over recent years, with many Local Authorities making cuts to jobs and services. Some libraries have been shut and in others volunteers are expected to bridge the gaps.

The DCMS has a responsibility to oversee library provision across the country, and to ensure that Local Authorities satisfy statutory provision requirements.

We are aware of at least seven library campaigns who have asked the DCMS to hold an inquiry into the changes. Each of those requests have been refused. Indeed the Secretary of State has not conducted an inquiry since 2009 in the Wirral.

At this stage it would appear that the DCMS is either:-

1. Not considering requests for inquiries properly or at all, or

2. Has a ’blanket policy’ which has lead it to refusing to conduct inquiries, or

3. It is not fulfilling the duty to superintend library provision

What can you do?

We would like to hear from individuals or campaign groups who have contacted the DCMS, asking for them to consider an inquiry into local library services.

Did you request an inquiry but receive no response? If you received a response what did it say?

This information will assist us in building up the bigger picture of the DCMS and their apparent refusal to engage in any inquiries into local library provision changes.

Please contact Emily or Paul if you think that you could help:

Emily.mcfadden@publicinterestlawyers.co.uk or Paul.Heron@PublicInterestLawyers.co.uk

or 0207 404 5889.

2015 General Election Manifesto – Speak Up For Libraries

The Speak up for Libraries alliance (which includes Voices for the Library) has updated its election manifesto in time for the 2015 General Election. It is urging people everywhere to make public libraries a central issue in the General Election and local elections.

Already, many library services are threatened by, or already experiencing, deep cuts, widespread closures of vital local branches – or the damaging policy of turning them over to volunteers to run.

This is a once-in-five-years chance to make sure central government understands that libraries are a low-cost, essential resource for the work of local councils, and for national agendas such as ‘Digital by Default’ – and deeply valued by local residents and the nation as a whole.

Speak up for Libraries believes that libraries, far from being obsolete, are more important than ever. That is why we are asking the government to make a public commitment to their survival and development.

Speak up for Libraries is asking MPs to sign up to the following manifesto when standing for election:

  • Give libraries a long-term future, with a vision for their future development and clear standards of service.

  • Enforce the commitment in law for local authorities to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service. This commitment should also include digital, ICT and e-book services.

  • Acknowledge that libraries are important to individuals and communities – especially in times of hardship.

  • Enforce the duty that local authorities have to properly consult with communities to design services that meet their needs and aspirations.

  • Ensure that local authorities receive sufficient funding in order to deliver properly resourced and staffed library services.

  • Recognise that properly resourced library services contribute to the health and well-being of local communities and of society as  a whole and therefore complement the work of other public services and of national government agendas.

SUFL colour banner PNG

 

Full details of the election manifesto, including downloadable copies, can be found on the Speak Up For Libraries site.