Comment on “Campaigners launch £1m Chalk Farm library plea”


Campaigners launch £1m Chalk Farm library plea | News.

Campaigners are trying to raise £1,000,000 to secure the long-term future of their community library.

When I read this article in The London Evening Standard my mouth just dropped open in disbelief.

It’s wrong that Camden Council have forced campaigners into this situation, just so they can use a service they should automatically be receiving from the local council in their area. I know Camden haven’t said to them, “Go out and raise £1m and we’ll give you the library,” but if campaigners feel they have to raise this sort of money to keep it running, then they have basically been forced into it.

Is it even possible to raise that amount of money in a local appeal, even if you live in a wealthy area?

…and just imagine if every volunteer run library throughout the country had to raise that amount of money to provide a long-term local library service in their area? How many millions of pounds would that be?

It’s seems particularly ironic that local Council’s are saying they have to save money on library services because they aren’t allowed to increase Council Tax by a significant amount, and yet, some local communities may end up paying more by contributing to this sort of fundraising appeal.

CILIP 2011 AGM #cilipagm11


I attended the CILIP 2011 AGM on Thursday. For a summary of the meeting see my tweets below. The full archive for all of the tweets posted by everyone during the AGM can also be found here.


  • Annie Mauger presenting honorary fellowship to John Lake.
  • RT @Minimorticia: If you are not here with us you can follow the AGM via the live link #CILIPAGM11
  • AGM 2010 meeting minutes agreed.
  • Issues were raised from last years minutes – questions about subscription charges for retired & overseas members.
  • Auditors appointed – Kingston Smith LLP.
  • Trustees report and annual accounts being presented by Judy Broady-Preston (Honorary Treasurer).
  • Accounts in context: Global financial crisis; Political changes; Changes facing CILIP & LIS sector.
  • Impact in CILIP: Dramatic drop in income £825,000; Had to streamline CILIP (5 redundancies)
  • Remodelled itself based on Defining our Professional Future Report.
  • Expenditure reduced by £0.8mill; Income reduced by £0.9mill from reserves of £767k
  • 2011 actions: Restructure; Increased advocacy emphasis; Reduced costs; New business model
  • CILIP What next?: Sustained CILIP recruitment & retain members; 5 year financial strategy.
  • Finances this year “looking better than last year”.
  • Question from the floor. What are net figures of funds held by branches and groups? Answer: CILIP will get figures & put on site.
  • Discussion around CILIP finances raised by questions from the floor.
  • Membership recruitment and retention is very important in CILIP’s strategy.
  • Presentation by Annie Mauger on impact “Defining our Professional Future” report has had on CILIP #cilipfuture
  • Defining our professional future has guided CILIP over the past year.
  • Want to provide sound leadership; advocacy; long term financial sustainability
  • Advocacy – Engaged with media; government; delivered new advocacy resources; awards
  • Devpt. activities – more online resources; new models of branches & groups; Toolshed support for groups/branches
  • Back to the floor days for CILIP staff.
  • Subscription strategies and proposals. CILIP need to do more with less.
  • Keep CILIP membership accessible. Fund activities members want from their prof. body. Allow ideas in DOPF to take root & grow.
  • Subscription proposals: Reductions at lower levels & no more than increase of £5 for any individual at higher level.
  • Amendment suggested to allow Overseas Members access to reduced UK subs. to acknowledge where overseas income may be very low.
  • RT @Speranda: wants to know how institution membership of #cilip might mesh with individual chartered membership #cilipagm11
  • RT @llordllama: Those outside London get less than a 1/3 of the member benefits too – can we have a decrease? #cilipagm11
  • Me too MT @bethanar Wish they had a band above £17.5k – I’d gladly pay more in amore band, to allow lower to pay less #cilipagm11
  • Vote on amendment to subscriptions taking place. Amendment not passed. (I sat on the fence!)
  • Items raised: text of CILIP Disciplinary Regulations. Changes suggested around bias; expelling members.
  • RT @RMGCat: Hoping for online voting in addition to streaming & proxy votes next year #cilipagm11. Really wanted to vote but on the day …
  • RT @CILIPinfo: #CILIPAGM11 Agenda item submitted for consideration by the AGM. No motions have been submitted
I’ve only been a member of CILIP for just over a year and it’s the second time I’ve attended the AGM. I went last year too. At last years AGM CILIP were deciding how they would act on the members views expressed in the “Defining Our Professional Future” report that had been published a few months earlier – concerns about CILIP’s finances, the future of the profession and action CILIP were taking to support the profession, and the desire for CILIP to move into the 21st century with regard to technology.
With this in mind, it was interesting to attend the AGM again, with its focus on the steps CILIP had taken in response to the report and their strategy/plans for the future. Advocacy was high on the agenda – listing a number of advocacy successes CILIP had achieved over the past year and their future plans. CILIP finances still need to be improved, but they are currently better than they were. Following a recent restructure, the organisation is now leaner and is able to focus on those areas members felt were important. It was recognised that the need to recruit/retain members was important and hopefully the development of CILIP’s leadership role will help encourage membership. With regard to technology it was good to see CILIP were live streaming the AGM, and they had plans in place to develop their online activities.
Obviously CILIP still have some way to go to achieve what they want and what the members want the organisation to achieve, but it appears they are heading in the right direction. It’s only been a year since the report, and change can’t always happen quickly in an organisation like CILIP, with so many areas to focus on. There’s always the added difficulty of trying to be as effective as possible when finances are also an issue. I’ll admit that, as a  member of the organisation, I do find this frustrating, but realise that sometimes things can’t move on as quickly as I’d like them to, no matter how hard I mentally will things to happen. Hopefully this time next year my frustrations will be gone.

Mobilising The Library Website


A few weeks ago a discussion was going on via Twitter about the possibility of creating an iphone app for library websites using Bloapp. The benefits of using this service were that it was quick and easy and provided another way to offer a service to library users. Put simply, Bloapp takes an RSS feed for your site and makes it available as an app within the Bloapp service. (More details from Ned Potter here). After having a look at it, I didn’t feel it offered enough functionality for a mobile app/site. Most blogs automatically display pretty well on modern internet enabled phones without the need to set up an extra service like this.

However, it did get me thinking about what a mobile enabled library site for my library service, Surrey County Council Libraries, might contain and how I might want to achieve that. So I came up with my own criteria for a prototype site, taking on board some of Ned’s points.

  • Quick to set up (max 1 hour).
  • Easy to set up.
  • Free to set up.
  • Accessible to as many mobile internet users as possible.
  • Ability to display RSS feeds (eg Library news; Library Twitter).
  • Ability to display static web page information (eg Library location; services).
  • Capability of searching the library catalogue.
  • Capability of creating a mobile site with a reasonable number of web pages.
  • QR code access.
SCC Lib Test site QR Code

With this in mind, I went looking for sites that either allowed you to convert your website into a mobile site, or allowed you to create one. I didn’t think an app was the best way to go, as this automatically limits it to the type of phone that can access the website.

I found 16 sites that looked promising at first, but none of them gave me anything vaguely near what I wanted to create, quickly and easily. A handful (including Winksite; Mobisitegalore;  Onbile; Mippin) allowed me to create sites that had some of the features I needed, but none gave me the full package.

However, I also decided to see how easy it would be to use Weebly, a free website creator service, which isn’t a dedicated mobile site creator, but might do the job just as well.

Well, it did the job much better than any of the other services available and within an hour I’d built from scratch a mobile site prototype that included all the functionality I wanted.

It had:

  • Embedded RSS Twitter and news feeds
  • A range of pages about services provided by Surrey Libraries, including the stub of a page indicating where libraries are located (information cut, pasted and tailored from the main library website)
  • A way to search the catalogue (Weebly allows HTML code to be pasted easily into the site)
  • QR code access
  • It displays reasonably on a range of phones

It isn’t perfect (it is a prototype after all) and some of the links go to the main library site, but given another couple of hours it could be tidied up, so that it was a more or less self-contained mobile site. I know this means it would take longer than setting up the Bloapp site, but in terms of the extras library users could get from this, I think it’s worth spending a little extra time.

The main problem I have is the catalogue search going to the main site once the search has been run, but in a way I have overcome the biggest problem with searching the catalogue, which was the lack of clarity/cleanness of the initial catalogue search function when displayed on some mobile phones. Once I get to the search results my initial frustration has been overcome, so I suppose I have achieved what I want, but it isn’t perfect.

The site can be found at .

I’d be interested to know what people think about it and if it displays okay on your phone too.


SurreyCamp Event and Digital Surrey


Last week was Digital Surrey week, part of the “Future Surrey” initiative. What is Future Surrey? The following quote taken from the Future Surrey site will explain…

Surrey County Council is working with FutureGov to design and deliver Future Surrey: a programme that combines service design and social technology to bring about organisational change.

It’s based on the principles of open government, open leadership and service design with and for users. Together we’re focusing on core services, like highways and adult social services to develop new ways of delivering services, with the help of technology.  We’re also working across the council and with partners to help highlight where innovation and user-led  service design are already happening, and help the adoption of these principles more widely in Surrey.

As part of this, I attended “SurreyCamp” – an event that connected Surrey County Council, local businesses, innovators and residents in an attempt to develop Surrey within a digital context.

During the event I tweeted a lot – summarising what was going on and things that were being said. The bullet points below are basically the tweets I sent out.

  • At #surreycamp Part of Digital Surrey week.
  • Andrew Povey introduced the day, indicating that Surrey residents are already online and the County Council need to ensure we are experts there too.
  • David McNulty says we need to engage as many people as possible in Surrey to get involved in developing the county.
  • We need to harness the passion and skills of the people of Surrey to develop it.
  • Build our networks of partners in Surrey
  • Surrey’s Big Vision – SCC we want to be leading edge & ensure we will be effective in rs time.
  • Be open & ready to react quickly as new possibilities emerge.
  • Currently trying to upgrade systems in Surrey County Council.
  • Will be publishing ideas generated from the event today.
  • Dominic Campbell from FutureGov speaking about the event. This event is part of a bigger piece of work – “Future Surrey” & “Digital Surrey Week”
  • What can web do to help us in our work? Want new structures; challenging; new processes; new ways of thinking; innovation
  • Want performance improvement and efficiency.Get citizens involved. Surreywide programme. Not just SCC
  • Surrey social services currently trialling apps
  • Need to move away from introverted design and move to working with users and partners.
  • Spectrum of project is from staff collaboration to social innovation.
  • Need to get more people involved. Need the enthusiasm to make it work.
  • Mary Baker. Founder of DropBy. Social networking site for over 60s to connect people who feel isolated.
  • Provides: interaction; video chat between family members; online games room (keep the brain cells going)
  • Just decided that she was going to do something herself, rather than waiting for others to do it.
  • Louise Bircher. Customer Services & communications Mole Valley District Council.
  • Redesigned website. Easier to use; accessible. Site ranking improved and have been shortlisted for award.
  • Use Youtube, Twitter, Flickr, QR codes, Facebook (in a targetted manner)
  • Alana Blair. Campaign Communications Officer, SCC. ion Facebook, 5.5mill visits from Surrey postcodes
  • Surrey Matters magazine. Has been introduced as digital format early in 2011
  • Social media offers residents the chance to interact with Surrey County Council.
  • Sign up for Surrey Matters e-newsletter at
  • Nigel Biggs. Software developer background.
  • Runs social enterprise. Connect people to co-create ideas & implement something new.
  • It’s okay to talk about ideas, but you also need to act on it too.
  • Need to create a new vision. Communilab – forum that includes local councils, Universities, businesses.
  • Public sector has a fear of failure.
  • John Woods. Assistant Director for Adult Social Care. Surrey County Council
  • New ways of working with partners.
  • Paul Brocklehurst. Head of IMT, Surrey County Council
  • IMT support customers. Don’t want to be a blocker of resources.
  • Working with services to look ahead a lot more; supporting SCC digital policies.
  • Concentrating on replacing the “plumbing”; creating new data centre; involved in “modern worker programme”; making a difference
  • Helping to transform services
  • Gavin Stephens, Surrey Police.
  • Communication about the services you provide are going on in these social media places. You need to be there too
  • Social media. Evidence can be taken from social media.
  • Community engagement. How can we put Surrey police into people’s pockets? Have created an app.
  • It can improve the policing in Surrey.
  • Not “why?” “Why not?” ie why not try new ideas anyway.
  • Helen Leech. Virtual Content Manager, Surrey Library Service
  • Virtual visits to library site have increased by 25%
  • We are training staff via 23 Things; QR codes; looking at comments via social media
  • “I hate this book” campaign on our Facebook page.
  • We have staff blog for sharing info related to libraries; Library2.0 wiki; doodle event organiser; Webex online meetings
  • Communities of practice website – great for discussing issues amongst wide groups of people.
  • Currently in sessions rapping, eating yoghurt and making boats. It’s great. Like being back at playschool. 🙂
  • RT @simonjchughes: #surreycamp the future of public services in a yog pot.
  • Part of the ideas board from #surreycamp
  • Future Surrey sweeties! #surreycamp
  • Future Surrey “Thinking caps & creativity trousers.” #surreycamp
  • This afternoon is about coming up with ideas for web solutions.
  • Developing ideas to address issues about isolated people. How can they be supported?
  • What is your idea? What difference will it make & to whom? How could it save money/make money? How will it help Surrey people to do things for themselves? What do you need to make it happen?
  • Internet portal via TV type interface to provide comms.
  • Isolation idea covered possible telecom. Bundle inc software; software itself; options needed; delivery options.
  • Roundup of all group ideas
  • Ideas (1) How to engage with businesses. Need to map existing solutions and make connections between them.
  • (2) Volunteering. To promote existing volunteering to encourage more people to volunteer. Make one stop shop for info.
  • (3) e-learning. Bring together all info. of resources inc. library info; packages for home safety; online courses; booking system
  • (4) Meals on wheels. Combine meals on wheels and school meals service. Use volunteers to help & get money of meals
  • (5) Localism. How to solve local problems. Network communities together. Give 1/2 money saved back to comms.
  • (6) Isolation. Get systems to houses – superfast broadband. Need simple app. -TV; internet
  • (7) Looked after children. Joined up comms for children. Only have to say things once. Child could provide status updates.
  • (8) Emergencies. Web/mobile app. Get clear official info feeds out to people. Opps. for people to help out based on your skills
  • (9) Collaboration/ways of working. Multi agency workspace. Internal web chats between staff & external resident discussions
  • (10) Elections. App timeline for elections. Who’s standing in the area. Webchat with MPs/councillors
  • (11) Search facility across all council – C.C. ; borough; parish sites.
  • (12) Roads & transport. Highways app. Multifaceted. Log your pothole! Real time travel info. Efficiency of journey info
  • (13) Carers. Review and evaluate services and service providers. Allow residents to decide on who their care provider will be
  • (14) Waste & recycling. Collection day alarm- “Don’t forget to put your bins out tonight.” Recycling service. (Idea) Scan items – can you recyle them?
  • (15) Politicians. Training sessions for members to use social media
  • (16) Engage with young people. Advice on careers, health, education, activities; vouchers for young peoples activities.
  • (17) Tourism. Harness spending power in county. “Locate me” using geoloc. Inspire me – chooses random idea. Combine resources
  • (18) Parents. Enable parents of disabled children to access support services. Improve web access.
  • (19) Rural. Encouraging visits to countryside by using social media. Set up blog. Get people to share experiences. Use Flickr map
  • (20) Engagement. AskSurrey. Pull all convo into 1 place from places like Twitter Facebook- respond there & push replies out…
  • FutureGov @dominiccampbell @carriebish Hi. Archive of #surreycamp tweets here. – Fri Sep +011
  • Summary of #surreycamp tweets following yesterday’s great @FutureGov event. – Fri Sep +011
  • Interesting Surrey Police app, mentioned at #surreycamp yesterday. More info. Thanks to @csuptstephens – Fri Sep +011
I really enjoyed and felt inspired by the whole event – about 10 quick presentations at the start highlighting what people in Surrey (inside and outside the council) were getting up to; creative sessions afterwards, trying to get a focus on selling/developing your services; and final sessions attempting to get people to think practically about digital services that could be created to improve the lives of people in Surrey.
It reminded me of the mashed libraries events I’d been involved in – people there who really wanted to make use of the technology/software they had and develop services creatively for the residents of Surrey.
The key things that came out of the whole event were…
  • If you want something to happen, you need to help make it happen and not sit back and twiddle your thumbs
  • A lot of the information people want is out there – it may be hidden… it may be in silos, but it’s out there and if you can bring it together in one place and tell people that it is there, it is going to be so useful for them.
  • People in Surrey have the imagination and skills to develop these services.
It will be interesting to see where we are in a years time with all of this. Hopefully we can see some of these ideas will have been turned into practical and useful services.

Speaking up for Libraries CILIP event (14/09/2011)


Yesterday I attended an event at CILIP, which focussed on advocacy work in libraries.

There were 2 speakers – Emma Harrison (Assistant Librarian, University of Mid Glamorgan) and Mark Taylor (CILIP Director of External Relations).

Emma Harrison

Emma’s focus was on day-to-day advocacy and how it had helped her ensure the value of her job was recognised by her organisation.

During her time at UMG her department was subject to HERA (Higher Education Role Analysis) job evaluation scheme. From this, grades were assigned to roles based on a National Framework Agreement. The roles written up in the HERA document didn’t match the work that Emma and her colleagues actually did – excluding specialist librarian skills and qualifications from the requirements. After re-writing the HERA document the value of Emma and her colleagues jobs were recognised.

As part of her advocacy  in this situation Emma persuaded colleagues who may have otherwise been reluctant that it was worth challenging the HERA decision, and she also made use of the CILIP campaigning toolkit to advocate the value of her role to managers and Human Resources.

Since this happened Emma has been promoted, which highlights that even though she was worried about taking this action, it paid off.

During the discussion following her presentation it was highlighted that HERA can work for advocacy too if you are able to write your own forms/role/job description, as you have the power to tell others what you do.

Mark Taylor

Mark talked about what he thought advocacy was – influencing other people, winning support, bringing about change. eg. Responding to library reports, support other campaigns, questioning politicians, advocating your own value. He acknowledged that it’s often mixed up with activism and marketing. He felt that the most effective advocacy is that which clearly identifies the target – messages should be tailored to the issues of decision makers, to show how you can help them. You need to set out your agenda clearly and make the message concise. Contact with the media is important, so comment on the media and get them to come to you as first port of call. If you’re involved in a promotional campaign, reporting back on the success/effectiveness of the campaign after it’s completed is important.

Mark saw CILIP’s advocacy role as advocating for the profession, CILIP & developing advocacy policy; providing thought leadership; enabling networking & communications.

He discussed CILIP’s vision & mission, based on the CILIP Future consultation of membership in 2010. Since this consultation CILIP have created new posts to focus on advocacy. CILIP also wants to encourage CILIP members to become involved in advocacy.

Tree of Knowledge by PWBaker

Tree of Knowledge (c) PWBaker / Flickr

Highlights of CILIP’s advocacy in the past year included:

  • 200+ press mentions
  • Briefings for Lords & MPs
  • Lobbying politicians – hoping to launch a Cross Party Library Group in November
  • Supported Save Our Libraries day & are involved in organising 2012 event
  • Annie Mauger spoke at the Women’s Institute AGM
  • Awarded Alan Gibbons Honorary Fellowship (1st time advocated outside profession in this way)
  • Responded to various Government reports
  • Carnegie & Greenaway awards – want to develop it as advocacy tool (get it more into media that it’s librarians choosing books)
  • Libraries change lives award
  • Using social media more effectively

CILIP’s plans for the future include:

  • Continued lobbying/engagement with parliamentarians.
  • Campaigns – “Shout for school libraries“ (Oct 2011) / National libraries day (2012)
  • CILIP staff to go back to the floor – including a wide variety of environments
  • Future areas of policy work – information literacy; digital inclusion; Want to deliver 2 high profile campaigns a year

Question time

Following this, the audience had their chance to raise questions and comment on what they had heard. This included:

  • What are CILIP doing to stop councils from cutting services and handing over to volunteers?
  • I mentioned Twitter advocacy/activism conversations and that the difference between the 2 is misunderstood by some people.
  • National libraries day is seen as more positive than Save our libraries day. It was felt that this positive angle would encourage more people to advocate in this way.
  • We need to build a network of advocates from our users in all sectors – decision makers are more likely to listen to the users!
  • Politicians want to see what we are doing to help them to achieve their goals. How can we demonstrate value in a way (in all sectors) that means something to politicians?
  • We could partner with other related organisations eg National Literacy Trust & make use of their research.
  • Comments were made about the impact local libraries closures have on school libraries & literacy.
  • It was felt that CILIP needs to defend professional staff & qualifications. CILIP will be looking at continuing professional development and performing a qualifications review.
  • It was seen that organisations/library advocates in some ways (library campaigners and friends groups) are less restrained than CILIP in voicing their opinions.

It was an interesting event and helped highlight the wide range of advocacy that is necessary and can be achieved by the profession, whether you are an individual like Emma, or a larger organisation, such as CILIP.