#LibraryAtoZ is 190% funded with one week to go


#LibraryAtoZ is 190% funded with one week to go

Fundraising for the Library A to Z is not yet closed, but with one week to go, it is already 190% funded! On Monday we’d already reached around £2250 with 120+ backers, but The Library Campaign showed their support for the project by becoming the main sponsor and pledged £1,500, which took the total up to almost £3,800! We had hoped that a library focused organisation would pledge, but wasn’t certain that it would happen, so this came as a fantastic surprise and is gratefully appreciated, as is the £2250 that all of the other individual backers have also pledged. This funding means that the full colour book, posters and posters will be produced, along with press packs featuring this material. We still have a week to go and further stretch goals dependent upon the money we raise. I said it would be great earlier in the week if the crowd funding reached £2500, but now I’m really wondering if we can reach £4500, and if we did how much more we could do with this project. A huge thank you to everyone who has generously pledged and promoted this project.

Readers Take an Active Role in Interactive Fiction


Readers Take an Active Role in Interactive Fiction

I wrote this post about interactive fiction for the Read, Watch, Play blog.

Reading fiction is generally seen as a passive activity, with the reader following a single path of the story that has been set out by the writer. However there are opportunities for readers to take a more active role in the development of a writer’s story. This is especially true in the case of interactive fiction.

In works of interactive fiction (IF) the writer presents a story, but gives the reader the option to deviate from the thread of the narrative, or direct it in a particular path at various points along the way….

Read, Watch, Play is an online reading group that focuses on a new theme every month and includes films, TV, games and music as well as books as part of the discussion.

The full post can be read here.

Arts Council England: Great Art & Culture For Everyone Report (Revised)


Arts Council England: Great Art & Culture For Everyone Report (Revised)

Arts Council England have revised their strategic aims report for the arts, museums and libraries sectors.

Here are a handful of quotes from it focusing on libraries:

Envisioning the library of the future told us that the public appreciates libraries as trusted spaces, open to all, in which we can explore reading, share information, and deepen our knowledge of the world. We will make the case that libraries contribute to the cultural, social and economic objectives of both national and local government. We will work with those who represent library services and with key library stakeholders to shape the strategic direction of the sector. (p.15)

Although there has been a decrease in the number of people borrowing books, evidence shows that where there has been strategic investment in libraries – such as in promoting children’s reading – visits rise. Patterns of use are also changing, with a significant increase in public use of digital services, and libraries are evolving in response. (p.23)

With our new strategic development responsibilities for museums and libraries, we will encourage and support work across our entire cultural footprint that reflect these types of collaboration, drawing on the best practice in each area and beyond. We know that when these connections are made, they can spark a dynamic that changes our perceptions of what great art and culture is, who it is for, and what it can do. (p.27)

The world is changing as it becomes increasingly interconnected. Boundaries and categories are being eroded; this is apparent in arts and culture where the roles of creator, curator and consumer are being redefined, where libraries are often exhibition spaces and museums host performances. We recognise that the change driven by new digital technologies provides both opportunities and threats. The way that people experience arts and culture is changing; and so too is the type of arts and culture they enjoy. (p.27)

We believe that increasing the number of people who experience and contribute to the arts, to museums and to libraries is good for society. Sharing cultural experiences brings communities together… (p.28)

At the heart of our arts and cultural sector is the workforce: the artists and curators, librarians and technicians, producers and administrators and educators and archivists. It will be a priority over the next decade to support these people to maintain and develop the skills they will need to achieve our shared mission. To an important degree, this is about recognising and respecting the hard-earned specialist skills that are essential to so much the cultural sector does. (p.33)

The organisations that make the strongest contribution to our goals are well-led, and have leaders who understand their role in the communities in which they operate. More needs to be done to strengthen the skills and the diversity of governance and leadership of arts organisations. (p.34)

The arts, museums and libraries fuel children’s curiosity and critical capacity. They are about expression and imaginative escape as much as they are about learning and development, helping children and young people to explore, understand and challenge the world, as well as their place in it. (p.35)

Thoughts on “Community libraries – Learning from experience” Report


Thoughts on “Community libraries – Learning from experience” Report

I’ve been thinking about this Arts Council England / Local Government Association / Locality report (Community libraries – Learning from experience: guiding principles for local authorities) published earlier this week.

It isn’t really a comment on whether community/volunteer run libraries are a good or bad thing. It’s a guide for creating community/volunteer run libraries within the remit of the Public Libraries Act, statutory duties, and other legal requirements. It gives 10 case studies out of 170 community/volunteer run libraries currently in operation in England. I’m not sure if they’ve been cherry-picked or not, but I suppose if it’s a how-to guide it’s not going to pick those libraries regarded as unsuccessful.

I’ve just pulled out a few statements from the report for comment…

“Our research indicates that community libraries are established out of the determination and passion of local communities and those working in library services to retain what they regard as essential services.”

Could we suggest this passion and determination is caused by the threat of losing the service if volunteers aren’t found? 

“Whilst these are difficult times and some libraries have been closing, it is a mistake to characterise community libraries simply as knee jerk reactions to closure…”

Having followed the news about library budget cuts and closures closely for the past few years I still think many libraries handed over to communities were done as a knee jerk reaction. Some library services would have happily closed them and this is the get-out clause. 

“Every library service in England has trained and skilled professional library staff working at its heart. This is essential. There continues to be a need for paid professional library staff working in every library authority area, and of course professional staff and their representatives need to be fully consulted on any proposed changes to services.”

It’s good to read an acknowledgement about the importance of librarians and skilled library staff within the context of this report, but how about a bit more support for those staff.

“Not every library in a library service needs to look the same, provide exactly the same service as all the others nor have the same kinds of staff on site every day.”

I wonder how this fits in with the calls for a national library service and initiatives led by Arts Council England and Society of Chief Librarians that are aiming to unify library service provision across England?

In conclusion, the report does highlight that it takes effort and money and a wide-range of skills to set up and sustain community/volunteer run libraries, with low-income communities more likely to need more support.

I can’t help reading this report as a green light “Yeah! Go for it” instruction book for local authorities who might not have considered the community/volunteer run library option otherwise.

Reblogged: Society of Chief Librarian’s Stakeholder Meeting


Society of Chief Librarian’s Stakeholder Meeting

Ian Anstice (Public Libraries News & Voices For The Library) published minutes of a meeting he and other campaigners attended with S.C.L. yesterday. It’s good news that S.C.L. have decided to hold these meetings with campaigners and that they are intending to run more, and it sounds like there are some positive plans ahead. However, a few thoughts that popped into my head after reading these minutes…

“the SCL is not an incorporated organisation and so cannot make its own statements. It is, literally, a collective of individuals who provide their time voluntarily.”

But the SCL have provided comment in the past on aspects of public libraries. Is the issue more about not being able to say certain things in its statements?

“It is not the role of the SCL to advise the Secretary of State but are available if they are asked.”

Alternatively, a pro-active approach could help direct the Secretary of State’s thoughts to developing public library services, rather than assisting in their demise.

Campaigners asked why the SCL did not agitate for a return to national library standards. The response was that the SCL “pick the fights we can win”.

Would they give in even if it was the most important fight for public libraries?