Tag Archives: value

The Library A to Z Kickstarter is 90% funded

As you will know from the last blog post, a crowd-funding initiative has been set up by Andy Walsh to raise money to produce a full-colour visual A to Z around positive activities and services libraries provide. To make this happen £2,000 needs to be raised by 28th May. The great news is that thanks to the generosity of so many people it has over £1,800 pledges in the first 2 weeks – over 90% funded. In fact it was 25% funded after the first day and 75% after the first week, which is fantastic and thanks to all who have pledged money to support it. However, it does mean that we still need to raise almost £200 in pledges to meet the minimum target and for it to happen. There’s no limit to the maximum amount we can raise, so we hope it will keep going past the £2,000 level.

As well as raising the extra funds we would like further contributions for the A to Z. Some letters, such as K, Q, X, Y, and Z don’t have many words associated with them, so it would be helpful if people could suggest more to fill the gaps. The original list is here.

Andy has also created flyers about the crowd-funding initiative to share with people, so if you are attending any library (or non-library) events over the next 2 weeks and are able to spread the word by passing on some leaflets that would be great.

Thank you once again for all your support and pledges for this project.


Edit: We are now up to 95% funded!

Get involved in the Library A to Z

At the recent Library Camp East event one of the Voices For The Library team proposed a session to crowd source an A to Z of words that reflected the positive activities and values of libraries, as well as positive representations in books, songs, films and other media. The aim was to highlight that even though books are a core feature of library services, libraries are so much more than this – whether this “so much more” is as a result of the benefits of reading, or beyond this focus. The intention was also to use the A to Z as a way to promote library services. The group was attended by about 20 people from a range of library backgrounds, which was great, because it meant that the full breadth of library services could be covered and it showed common and uncommon activities between, say for example, public and academic libraries. We covered all of the alphabet (with a bit of artistic licence in places), but there is still scope for more words to be added into the Library A to Z. Please feel free to add any as a comment and we’ll then include them in the blog post.

Here’s a list of what the group at Library Camp East came up with on the day, along with some additional contributions. Thanks to all who got involved.

Questions (c) elycefeliz / Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence)

Alphabetical Order (Alan Ayckbourn play)
audio books
author events


Batgirl (is a librarian)
breakout space
breast feeding (space for mothers with babies)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Giles is a librarian)
book club
baby bounce and rhyme
Britannica (encyclopedia)
business information

competitive advantage (for businesses)
coffee (relax with one)
colouring (fun sessions for children)
council services (access to)
carers services
community cohesion
ommunity memory
Council Information


Deskset (film)
Elaine Dundy – The Dud Avacado
Day after tomorrow (scene in library)
dry (inside, away from foul weather)
digital literacy

everyone (is welcome)
enquiry service


free (to join and free books)
family history
Facebook (you can access it via our PCs)
fax services

Ghostbusters (library scene in the film)
green (eco-friendly book recycling)
graphic novels
Go online

Hermione (always in the library in Harry Potter)
holiday reading
Hollywood librarians film
homework help
hate crime reporting

information services
information literacy
information commons

job searching
journeys (discover new places with a book)




Kinship (finding like-minded people)

key-stage (supporting the curriculum)

librarians / library staff
local studies

Margaret Mahy
The mummy (main character is a librarian)
meeting (community)
managing directors (build businesses/business support)
mood boosting
make a noise in libraries
mobile libraries
Manic street preachers – “libraries gave us power”
mailing lists
market research


noise (discussion/communication/activity)
National Libraries Day
Name of the Rose
Neil Gaiman – a great advocate for libraries
not for profit

Octonauts (CBeebies – “To the library!”)
open to all
old (and young)



reference books


Sshh! (a quiet place to work/study)
silver surfers
space (to think and work)
safe (place)
summer reading challenge
social media
school visits
science fiction

Time travellers wife (works in a library)
Time machine (original film female character worked in library)
treasure hunts

universal credit (support)

visually impaired users

wifi (free)
werewolves (Twilight / teen readers)

xml (web of information; organisation of info online)
x-rated (50 shades of grey etc)

young adult

‘zines (magazines)
zzzzz (child sleeping after being read bedtime story)

Force of Poetry (c) Artiom Ponkratenko / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 licence)

So, now we have a list and what would be great is if we could get more people involved in doing something creative with this list or a part of it – maybe just a letter, or a single word will inspire you to create something in response. So for example, some of the ideas people have suggested already include:

  • Turn some of this into a visual alphabet that we could share as downloadable posters.
  • Create a library A to Z video.
  • Pull together positive library user stories that cover the full A to Z related to your library, whether that’s public, academic, business, specialist library etc and produce a book of them to be sent to the people in your organisation who aren’t aware of the value of your library service.
  • Create an online photo montage alphabet.
  • Get artists (visual, musical, performance) involved to interpret this Library A to Z in their own unique way.
It would be fantastic if we could encourage libraries and their supporters to take up the challenge, focus on a single letter each and produce something we could pull together in time for National Libraries Day – a day all about celebrating the value of libraries and all the things that make libraries so great and important.
And if you do put something together (which we hope you will) please let us know and share it with us, so we can share it with everyone else too.

Celebrate Your Library project

This guest blog post from Hilary Chittenden explains why she and Victoria started their “Celebrate your library” project.

My mum has worked in public libraries for nearly a decade now, and I have always loved hearing about the huge variety of people that she interacts with on a daily basis. In one single day she can act as a teacher, friend, children’s entertainer, information point – all depending on what the public want to use the library for. It dawned on me that libraries are so much more than books but are molded by the people that use them. They mean something different to every person that walks through their doors and the library users are what make libraries so great. Yes, we all know that books are brill, that libraries play an important role in children’s educational development and allow people of all ages and backgrounds access to books and information, but what about the social importance of libraries? I asked people the simple question “Why do you love your library?”:

“The library feels like the hub of the community. We recently moved to the area and going to the library has not only provided fantastic reading material for the whole family but also it has made us feel part of the community.”

“The library has been a lifeline since I had a baby… It enables parents to socialise when they may be isolated”

 Celebrate My Library Comments Cards

“I enjoy coming in to read the papers and borrow the books. It gives me something to do during the day.”

“Since moving here two years ago I have met many mums who have similar aged children. I especially like my library because the staff are soooo welcoming and hands on with the children!”

“The ladies in the library, I’ve known them for a long long time. They know me and I know them and they are so helpful. If I ever need any information they go on the computer and they print it off for me.”

“We’ve been coming to the library since we came to the country. It was great when we had just moved and didn’t have the internet.”

“I’m out of work at the moment, and the library provides me with a work place environment and office style facilities so I can concentrate better on finding work.”

“When I’m home from uni in the holidays I come here to do my revision. It’s a focused space, nice and quiet and I can’t work well at home. I use it for the desk space – I come in and get my head down.”

“I’m learning English. My sister teaches me and I come in and read to get better. I bring my children to read the picture books and stories. I love the library.”

“We get a lot of people coming in to the library that I worry about – where can they go, who they can talk to, when we’re closed for Christmas.”

“It became more important when my husband died… It allows me to escape.”

This small selection is just a handful of the overwhelming feedback I received from speaking to library users up and down the country. There were so many touching and varied reasons that people loved and relied on their libraries. This inspired me to start ‘Celebrate my Library’ to do just that – to share all the reasons beyond the books that libraries are so important to peoples lives. Our ultimate aim is to help people who don’t yet use libraries to see how much they can better your life (but it’s early days yet.)

For now we are concentrating on speaking to as many people as we can about why they love their libraries. We have been working with 8 different councils around the country, and are planning some events that will collect and circulate people’s love for libraries. Our next endeavor is going to be a children’s poetry/story writing competition along the “I love my library” theme with successful applications being teamed up with illustrators to create a beautiful book and exhibition. We then plan to use the funds raised to publish a newspaper of all the different reasons that people love their libraries and circulate it… (phew!) but like I said, it’s early days yet!

Our main aim right now is to spread the word – Celebrate your library! And not just for the books.

If you want to know more about our project, get involved or tell us why YOU celebrate your library, please get in touch at celebratemylibrary@gmail.com or visit our blog at www. celebratemylibrary.tumblr.com/.

We’d love to hear from you.

Hilary and Victoria



We will Speak Up For Libraries #librarieslobby

A rally and lobby of Parliament will take place tomorrow (Tuesday 13 March) in Westminster to highlight the value of public libraries and the important role they play. The event aims to persuade MPs to take action to protect public library services during these times of public sector cuts. Anybody who supports public libraries is welcome to attend.

The rally will take place from 12 noon, at Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate Westminster, London SW1H 9NH. The lobby of Parliament will start at 2.30pm. Prior to the rally and lobby, Ed Vaizey’s evidence session for the Inquiry into library closures will be screened live from 10.30am in Central Hall Westminster.

The lobby has been organised by the Speak Up For Libraries coalition, an alliance of organisations and campaigners working to protect libraries and library staff. Voices For The Library are part of this coalition.

Since forming Voices For The Library, we have constantly had to defend public libraries against those in power who do not seem to understand their value. We’ve seen local campaigns emerge throughout the country in response to these cuts – campaigners fighting for their own local libraries against authorities who do not understand the purpose of libraries, and do not understand how libraries and trained library staff benefit library users, the local community, local economy and the UK as a whole. Many of these campaigners have been put into a position where they are effectively acting as superintendent to their own library service, despite this being the responsibility of Jeremy Hunt & Ed Vaizey. Local authorities have not listened to local campaigners concerns. Neither have Jeremy Hunt, Ed Vaizey or the DCMS. So now, as part of Speak Up For Libraries, we must take this to Parliament to ask MP’s to make a stand and help protect the future of the nation’s threatened public libraries.

We feel it’s important to attend tomorrow to show those who dismiss public libraries as irrelevant just how important they are and why they are essential. We would urge you to attend if you can – the more people there are there, the louder our voices will be and the clearer the message will be that we will continue to fight and Speak Up For Libraries. If you are coming please sign up on the Speak Up For Libraries site.

However, if you can’t attend, you can still show your support by doing the following:

However you chose to do it on the day, please Speak Up For Libraries!

Henry’s story – Libraries are being sidelined

Returning to a blog post forced upon most of my fellow school compatriots, in this course, I’d like to talk about Libraries. I am currently partaking in the DofE Bronze course, something that I will talk about at a later period, probably after I have completed it, due to my opinions on the true nature of it and perhaps how those comments might be taken in a way not beneficial to my completion of it,  and as part of my volunteering, I am working at a homework club, after school. This is a rather simple task, where I sit there and help children with their homework, and attempting to impart my knowledge to them in an interesting way without them vomiting profusely. But this has brought something back to me; the fact that Libraries are darn useful. I can recall myself, sitting in a library and reading books about Physics and History at the ages of 6 and 7. But Libraries are now an endangered species. They are at risk of cuts by local councils, bottlenecked by old systems and ideals for running the libraries. But as the internet is becoming more and more powerful, libraries are being sidelined. The extra services they provide over the books, such as the homework clubs, or use of the computers are required for some people, and indeed help to flourish people and their skills. But I think that for now, libraries are here to stay – for the sole reason the internet is not fully open. Libraries represent the diversity of knowledge and the freedom of that knowledge currently does not exist fully on the internet. It is possible that if several censorship laws are passed, knowledge previously garnered from the internet would have to be found in a library, a nostalgic experience for many. Thus, I think what has to happen is we use libraries as our backup, for the possible burning of the modern day Library of Alexandria; the hub of knowledge that is the internet. We require an equilibrium between the two. This may simply be the case however in countries with more wealth, but I think that in poorer countries struggling to make the jump, knowledge is what is needed, and the library can provide that. But libraries have to be supplemented by the great hive-mind of the Internet, to allow the extra services and knowledge that the library provides become a small amount compared to what the internet provides, but have enough force to show the governments that Libraries are here to stay.

I write this blogpost inspired by, and hoping to share awareness of National Libraries Day, occuring on the 4th of February. I thoroughly encourage you to spend some time in your library that day, and perhaps help out with spreading this post, and National Libraries Day.

On 2 interesting library related notes, firstly, has anyone seen my hardback copy of Snuff, by Terry Pratchett. And secondly, the library I volunteer at, well I owe them about £1350 in late fees for a book I “borrowed” when I was 5. It was about trains. Yeah…

Henry (direthoughts.com)

Costing public library use

I have previously blogged about the value of public libraries to me and my family. A few months ago we set up a new blog listing the books we borrow including their cost, Overdue Books. One of the reasons behind setting up this blog was to show the true cost of the books we borrow. A common argument against the need for public libraries is that books are cheap, why borrow when you can just buy. While some books are relatively cheap and while there is lots of material free online to read this doesn’t mean its the type of material I want to read or introduce my young children too. I am also in the fortunate postion to be able to afford to buy some books and have online access, however this is not the case for everyone.
Overdue Books is keeping a count of all the books we borrow from the library including costs where possible, a blog post ‘counting the cost’ has technical details on how this has been done. In under 2 years if we had bought all the books we borrowed from the library we would have spent an estimated £3400, this works out roughly as a book habit of £150 a month, definitely not something we could afford.
Our young son is the biggest user of the library in terms of number of books he borrow. I think having such a wealth and variety of books is a huge benefit in terms of his development, use of imagination, his language skills etc. Not something you can add a value to.
He is able to choose from, what I recognise, as a good and appropiate collection of material far superior to what you would find in many bookshops. While online bookstores have a much wider range of stock he is too young to successfully browse and select items also there would be the cost of purchase, which as I previoulsy mentioned would be too prohibitive .
I have been interested to see my son’s use of the library and acknowledge that it is much more than just borrowing books. He has learned a sense of community and sharing, knowing he needs to return the books so other people can have a chance to borrow them as well. The freedom to borrow any material without any consequences such as cost, means he can be adventurous in his reading, if he doesn’t like it he can just return it. The library also provides a safe environment where he meets other children and parents as well as the opportunity to take part in some of the activities run by the library.
The borough where we live, Warwickshire is currently running a 12 week consultation  from March 18  until June 9 as the council is planning budget cuts of approx 27% over the next 3 years to the library and information service. These cuts include the closure of a number of libraries. From completing the consultation document I was left a little unclear as to what impact the consultation will have considering it seems like the decision to close the libraries has already been made. The tone of the document made me think the purpose of the consultation was mainly to see if anyone else wanted to take over the running of these libraries. Personally I have concerns about community run libraries in terms of their sustainabilty to in maintaing standards.
It is really disheartening to see that many local authorities across the UK are looking to close libraries as part of their cost cutting measures. We recently had a new addition to the family and is already a member of our public library, I do hope for the sake of future generations we do not lose something as valuable as our public libraries as without them it would be a poorer society.



Library card

Damyanti Patel

Judith Cutler’s childhood library and its wonderful successors

Crime fiction writer Judith Cutler wrote to tell us why libraries were so important to her when she was younger and how the “educational spirit” still remains in her childhood library, even though other things may have changed there.

When I was a child (some 60 years ago!) I was so sickly I didn’t go to school till I was ten.  My mother educated me at home, but even she had limitations.  So the local library – Bleakhouse Library, still alive and kicking in Sandwell – became my school.  In those days the building was guarded by dragons lurking behind a very high counter.  Children had to reach up to put their hands on it so the librarian could inspect them for cleanliness.  Then you were admitted to the children’s room -serried ranks for books, just like the adult library.  If you borrowed a volume of fiction, you were required to borrow a non-fiction book too.

The following week, the librarian would question you to make sure you’d read them.  Eventually I had literally read everything in the junior section, so I was allowed to read certain books from the adult library – carefully checked to ensure there was neither sex nor violence. Hence I ended up reading all the books from the Golden Age of crime writing.

Recently I was asked back to do a talk.  The intimidating front desk had disappeared (sold to the USA, apparently!), and much of the library interior had changed.  But the educational spirit of the previous librarians had a new incarnation.  Their wonderful successors had introduced all sorts of clubs, from art and IT for pensioners, to Saturday morning games sessions for ASBO kids they’d had to exclude from normal after school clubs.  The place buzzed.  It should have won prizes. The staff should have been given bonuses and promotions. Instead, the librarian who had made all these wonderful additions to what people like Jeremy Hunt might construe to be the daily business of stamping books had been made… redundant.

Judith Cutler

Rebecca Front – ‘libraries are a great institution which deserve to be cherished’

VftL are delighted to have a guest blog from Rebecca Front, BAFTA award winning star of The Thick of It. Rebecca explains why libraries are so vital for their communities (adapted from a piece Rebecca Frontoriginally published in The Guardian on 19th July 2006).

I find it hard to understand how anyone can fail to see that libraries are a great institution which deserves to be cherished. If someone said to you, “I know this place where you can go and hang around for as long as you like, browsing books, newspapers and magazines, using the internet, keeping out of the rain. And if you see a book you fancy, you can take it home – free. Take a few, why don’t you, and some CDs and DVDs while you’re at it. And then, when you’ve finished reading, and you’re fed up with them sitting around cluttering your shelves and gathering dust … you can take them back and swap them for something else”… you’d think that was pretty amazing, wouldn’t you?

And yet, when you ask people how often they visit a library – if indeed they belong to one – you discover that they regard it in much the same way as having a composting bin in the garden. It’s a great idea, you can’t fault it and, sooner or later, we might get round to trying it. So it’s no surprise that councils across the country are cutting back their funding, presumably working on the assumption that, famed as they are for their quietness, library users won’t make too much noise about it.

Well that part is wrong. Wherever there is a library under threat, there are dedicated groups of people trying to save it. But it hasn’t been enough to stop the rot. It seems to me that it’s the well-off middle classes who are letting the side down here. When you go into a local library, you find its user-demographic – as I believe our marketing friends would call it – is unusually broad. There are subscribers of every age, race and social group. But the smallest group – and I’m basing this on extensive and thorough research data compiled by me in my area, so don’t pay too much heed to it – seems to be the comfortably-off.

They’ll come in and borrow books for the kids, but for themselves, it seems, the lure of a pristine cover fresh from the shelves at Waterstone’s is too much. And these are the very people who ought to be the service’s most vocal champions. Well, let me see if I can tempt you back in.

First, put aside your guilt about that book you failed to return in 1975, and your anxiety that the fine, should you be caught, would be so great that your home would have to be repossessed to pay it. Libraries are generally pretty forgiving on lost books, though if they did start calling in those overdue fines, it could be the answer to the funding problem.

Second, though new books are pristine, and it’s good to feel confident that when you turn the page you won’t find it partially stuck down by somebody else’s nasal excretions, a little bit of dirt does you good, and I never heard of anyone dying from a library-related illness yet, did you?

Third, borrowing books gives you the opportunity to read and return all those things that you don’t want to have on display in your home. My son, when he was seven, developed a taste for hideously illustrated books about disease. A particular favourite was Warts and Verrucas. The cover for that, I could just about tolerate but when he brought home the lavishly photographed Conjunctivitis, I couldn’t wait for the return date, and was delighted when its photos of a suppurating cornea were taken out of the house for good.

A survey published a few years ago showed, depressingly, that the majority of Britons believed in putting their own interests ahead of the community’s. It doesn’t surprise me that people feel that way, just that they think such a credo is so socially acceptable they’ll admit to it in a survey. And it doesn’t bode well for The Big Society. But there are activities that serve both the individual and the community, and I can’t think of a better one than joining and using a library.

We all know that reading is the bedrock of knowledge and understanding. Playing fast and loose with free books for all seems to me to be akin to mucking about with the state education system. But, as with private education, the more people are willing to part with their money for something the state ought to provide to a high quality, the further the quality of state provision slumps. The only way to protect libraries is to use them as an adjunct to the book-buying habit that so many of us have acquired. And what a fabulously well-read nation we will be.

Celebrating ‘Your Stories’: British Library’s new web pages are launched (guest blog)

Voices for the Library know the power and value of stories, and we are proud that so many library users from across the country have shared their stories with us. The British Library also recognises the value of user stories – Fiona McCarthy from the British Library tells us a bit more about their new ‘Your Stories’ webpages.

What sorts of secrets are held within the British Library’s Reading Rooms? Did you know that readers have used the British Library to support their first-hand account of the opium problems in Afghanistan, to research their storylines for ‘Foyle’s War’, and to create easy-to-understand information for patients with complex medical conditions?

We know that famous figures such as Karl Marx, Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde are noted Library-users from the past, but there are plenty of great researchers currently visiting our St Pancras site. And we were keen to discover the successes that we are helping people achieve, and persuade them not to be shy!

So, to uncover and celebrate the many achievements we’ve helped readers reach, we’ve just launched the new, eye-catching ‘Your Stories’ web pages at www.bl.uk/yourstories.  This is a chance for researchers to submit their own success story electronically, including videos and pictures. It’s a great opportunity for people to show how the British Library has helped them reach their goal.

You can be inspired by videos from Sandi Toksvig, Margaret Drabble and Anthony Horowitz, and see the personal tales from people whose achievements range from directing a highly acclaimed film, to forecasting volcanic eruptions and launching innovative pet products. As well as dipping into a host of fascinating examples on the site, you can add your own comments to them too. And all these impressive successes promoted here have been possible thanks to the collections and services we offer!

Guest bloggers are not affiliated with VftL, and all views and opinions are their own.

Kristin’s story

I left college in May, and now armed with qualifications, I’m out on the prowl for work. I have been actively applying for work, however since the start of the recession I’ve been very aware of the scarcity of jobs and the abundance of applicants and that actually setting up my own business would be the way forward. Being mentally prepared for this has meant I’m now in the process of starting up as a sole trader – providing photographic services to commercial clients and also to brides-to-be.

Its not easy setting up and photography is an extremely competitive business. Being a new graduate and still working on building my client list, I have limited financial resources at my disposal. Every penny I spend is carefully and cautiously considered.  So of course I love having free access to resources that can help me.

I recently attended a Business Gateway networking session for women into business. During the event, there was a five-minute introduction from the local library, talking about what services they could offer to new businesses. During the coffee break, there was a crowd gathered around the library representatives, asking questions and everyone signing up for a library card. I queued patiently, and was provided with fact sheets and a new library card.

With my new library card, I can access information not just by visiting the library, but also remotely via the internet using Cobra (Complete Business Reference Adviser). It’s an absolute treasure chest to me, with information helping me with the day-to-day obstacles I have to overcome to set up my business. In addition, I also have access to valuable marketing information, which I’m using to help plan how to market my business effectively and make the most of my limited financial resources.

At a time when banks are closing doors to new and small businesses, the library has become a haven of information to help me work around that. My library card is probably as valuable as a credit card. What it gives me in information, I am going to be able to use to target customers effectively and allow my business to grow. By providing this service, libraries contribute directly to positive local economic growth, something we shouldn’t forget particularly in the middle of a recession.