Thursday, 28 January 2016

Speak up for Libraries lobby of Parliament 9/2/16 and Early Day Motion

Top authors speak up for libraries at Parliamentary lobby on 9 February

Best-seller Jake Arnott is the latest writer to sign up for the Speak Up For Libraries (SUFL) lobby of Parliament on 9 February.
‘Throughout our history,’ he says, ‘the library has proved to be the most effective and resilient memory system for our culture and civilisation.
‘The public library creates a collective consciousness. Any attack on it simply adds to a social dementia.’
The day begins with a public rally at Central Hall, Westminster (10am-1pm), with a line-up of speakers chaired by campaigning author Alan Gibbons. All welcome, whether joining a lobby or not.
Alan’s Campaign for the Book is part of the SUFL alliance, alongside librarians’ professional association CILIP, campaigners’ charity The Library Campaign, UNISON and Voices for the Library.
Supporters from as far away as Gateshead, Shropshire, Lancashire and Lincolnshire will then descend on the Commons to lobby MPs to focus on the root cause of libraries’ grim situation – apathy and ignorance in local and central government.
‘These people are fighting hard locally to keep libraries alive. They are desperate to show this is a major issue for the whole nation,’ says Laura Swaffield of The Library Campaign.
‘And it’s not too late for others to join us.’

  • Eve Ainsworth (Seven Days, The Blog of Maisy Malone) – just launching her latest novel Crush with Scholastic (‘Love hurts… but should it hurt this much?’).
  • Philip Ardagh, multiple award-winning comic writer and dramatist (the Grubtown Tales, Eddie Dickens & The Grunts series) – Guardian book reviewer and the loudest beard in literature.
  • Jake Arnott (The Long Firm, He Kills Coppers, truecrime, Johnny Come Home, The Devil’s Paintbrush, The House of Rumour) – the first two made into successful TV serials.
  • Cathy Cassidy, million selling Queen of Teen award winner (theChocolate Box Girls series, Looking-Glass Girl) – breaking off from a schools and libraries tour to promote her new paperbacks (Penguin Random House).
  • John Dougherty, irrepressible children’s writer (the Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face series) – singing by special request his classic lament ‘What’s Wrong with [libraries minister] Ed Vaizey?’
  • Dawn Finch, librarian, literacy consultant and best-selling author (Skara Brae, Brotherhood of Shades, The Book of Worth) – speaking here as President of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals)
  • Alan Gibbons, million-selling, multiple award-winning children’s writer (Shadow of the Minotaur, End Game, Hate) – tireless campaigner and international speaker.
  • Laura Swaffield & Elizabeth Ash, The Library Campaign.
  • Heather Wakefield, head of local government, UNISON.
  • Alan Wylie, Voices for the Library.
Libraries matter. They matter to all communities, but especially to those in the most deprived areas. And they matter to the little girl inside this author who discovered adventures and magic within a wonderful, and often under appreciated, haven.
Eve Ainsworth
The local library is a port of call for: books, local information, human contact, internet access, newspapers and magazines, a safe environment, a quiet environment, help with form-filling, advice, and the countless other little things that all add up to bigger things. Speak up for libraries before there’s nothing left to shout about.
Philip Ardagh
Throughout our history the library has proved to be the most effective and resilient memory system for our culture and civilisation. The public library creates a collective consciousness. Any attack on it simply adds to a social dementia.
Jake Arnott
Without libraries, I would never have had access to books as a child, would never had stood a chance of following my dreams. Now our public libraries are being closed all around us; it’s a national scandal, and we must stand together against these closures, for the sake of our children and the future of our country.
Cathy Cassidy
If we want a society that is literate, cultured, educated and compassionate, then a well-funded, professionally-staffed public library service is not a luxury. It is a necessity. And the destruction of service that our government is allowing is quite simply immoral.
John Dougherty
Libraries are the cornerstone of a well-informed society. I strongly believe that there is not a single person working at high level in their field who has not at some point turned to a library for help. It’s not rocket science, but without libraries there will be no rocket science.
Dawn Finch
The public library service is being hollowed out. This is its worst crisis. Action is urgently needed to secure its future.
Alan Gibbons
  1. Libraries have borne the brunt of public spending cuts in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales):
(i) Over 100 were lost last year; at least 441 have closed in the past five years; 149 are currently under threat, with new threats announced almost daily.
(ii) Most surviving libraries are suffering severe cuts to staff, book funds and opening hours. Since 2010 there has been a 22% drop in staff (full time equivalents), including a 32% drop in professional staff and a 93% rise in volunteers (though on average each works just 38 hours per year).The skills, knowledge base and quality of service available to library users is being seriously eroded.
(iii) The future looks as bad – or worse. After last year’s Spending Review, the Local Government Association commented: ‘Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light, they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by2020.’
  1. MPs will be lobbied to:
  • sign the Early Day Motion supporting libraries and the lobby
  • acknowledge the importance of public libraries
  • call on government to do its job by producing statutory guidance on standards, and a development programme
  • call on local authorities to ensure adequate funding.
  1. The Early Day Motion:
That this house recognises that public libraries are hugely important to our communities; acknowledges that many have already closed and many more are under threat; welcomes the Speak Up For Libraries lobby of Parliament in support of the UK’s public library service on 9 February 2016; and therefore calls on the Government to ensure that councils have enough money to provide well staffed quality library services; to enforce the law that says local authorities must provide a comprehensive and efficient library service; to implement policy which secures people’s statutory rights to a quality library service and gives libraries a long-term future by  including a programme of library development and modernisation in the 2016-2020 DCMS Business Plan.

  • Campaign for the Book: Alan Gibbons 07889 981739 ;
  • Author interviews + The Library Campaign: Laura Swaffield, 07914 491145;
  • CILIP: Cat Cooper, 020 7255 0653 (mobile 07867 455070);
  • UNISON: Fatima Ayad, 020 7121 5255;
  • Voices for the Library: Lauren Smith, 07503 173894;

The Library Campaign will consider giving lobbyists financial support for travel costs if they are otherwise unable to attend the lobby. or 020 8651 9552 / 07968 491355.

Speak Up For Libraries is a coalition of organisations and campaigners working to protect libraries and library staff, now and in the future.
Twitter: @SpeakUp4Libs using lobby hashtag #SUFLlobby16

Saturday, 9 January 2016

'Open+' denying access to U16/18's & Bibliotheca grants for National Libraries Day.

One of the emerging trends in cuts ravaged library land is 'open+' (also called 'staff-less/unstaffed' or the 'Danish model'). 'Open+' has been developed by Bibliotheca

"open+ is a complete solution that works with your existing library infrastructure, providing the ability to automatically maintain and control self-service kiosks, public access computers, lighting, security; in fact most library equipment. Providing the flexibility to open and close the library, without the need for any staff to be on site, open+ allows you to maintain or extend your library opening hours as you choose."          

Recently on the Libraries Taskforce blog a 'Strategic Client Manager: Culture and leisure' wrote about the way that the model had been introduced and used in her authority, Peterborough.

"Open+ is free to join and existing library members are invited to opt-in. Customers that are Open+ members are able to borrow books and other library materials, use library computers, and take part in existing activities such as reading groups, knit and natter, story time and rhyme time and set up new groups to meet within the libraries."

What isn't mentioned in any of this is that unaccompanied U16's (and in some instances U18's) can't access this service.

"Please note: Under 16s are unable to register for open+, but they are welcome to come in to the library during open+ hours if accompanied by a parent or guardian."

"Children and young people under the age of 18 will be able to enter the library during Libraries Extra if accompanied by an adult member of Libraries Extra."

“Extensive use of CCTV helps deter and detect any unacceptable behaviour when staff are not available, and for safeguarding reasons, children under 16 are not allowed to enter an unstaffed library unless accompanied by an adult."

Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities and City Centre Regeneration  - Councillor Martin Rawson verified this in a twitter exchange I had with him recently;

Martin Rawson (@MartinRawson)
@wylie_alan No the risk assessments haven't been done yet but under 16s will not be admitted.

My favourite blogger, Mrs Angry, has raised her (and Barnet Unison's/Save Barnet Libraries) concerns about the model being piloted in the London Borough of Barnet;

"Children under 16 will not be allowed in these unstaffed libraries, and anyone who might need the help of any member of staff, let alone a professional librarian, will find simply that there is no one there.No professional librarians, no trained staff, no one to offer support, or guide you to the right information, or even to supervise the building."

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) in their 'Guidelines for Children's Libraries Services' highlight the United Nations 'Convention on the Rights of the Child' and specifically in relation to denying access to U16/18's;

"Meeting children’s needs
The United Nation’s Convention on The

Rights of the Child stresses the right

of every child to the development of

his or her full potential, the right to free and

open access to information, materials and

programs, under equal conditions for all,

irrespective of:

• age"

The IFLA guidelines also state;

Children of all ages should find the library an open, inviting, attractive, challenging and non-threatening place to visit. Ideally, a children’s service needs its own library area, which must be easily recognisable (e.g. special furnishings, decorations and colours) and distinct from other parts of the library. Libraries offer a public space where children can meet each other or can meet others in cyber-space."

Public libraries are supposed to be inclusive spaces not ones that restrict access to a crucially important user group and denies that user group the right to be independent and empowered. This is an incredibly worrying and retrograde development and one that library workers, users, campaigners, unions et al should be resisting and speaking up about.

I've also noted recently with dismay that Bibliotheca are offering grants for National Libraries Day. As well as denying access to U16/18's many councils are using 'open+' (and self-serve technology developed by the same company) to cull library workers so Bibliotheca offering up funds for NLD is a bit like Capita offering Barnet Unison money towards it's strike fund!