International

A Bad Idea in Britain; Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion attacks 'Catastrophic' Plan for Volunteers to Run Libraries

Guardian UK reports that Andrew Motion, the former poet laureate, has dismissed suggestions from consultants KPMG that libraries are "not very much used" and should be run by volunteers as foolhardy, outlandish and potentially catastrophic.

A new report from KPMG into public sector reform says that "giving councils total freedom on libraries could mean that they create huge social value from engaging a community in running its own library, backed up with some modern technology, whilst also saving large amounts of money on over-skilled paid staff, poor use of space and unnecessary stock".

Speaking on the Today programme earlier this week, one of the report's authors, Alan Downey, said that although "libraries are hugely important in the national psyche ... there is a problem with libraries, that they are not very much used and very expensive to run".

"We're not suggesting in this report that libraries should be closed down, we are saying that libraries and other community facilities might be better off if they're run by [a] community that values them rather than by the state," he said.

A Swedish National Library Discovery

There might be hope for those Stieg Larsson aficionados that are lamenting the publication of his final book.

Two early science fiction stories by the late crime novelist have been uncovered at the Swedish National Library in Stockholm.

Library spokesman Hakan Farje says it received the two short stories as a private donation in 2007.

Farje says Larsson sent them to a Swedish science fiction magazine when he was 17, hoping to have them published, but the magazine rejected them. AP reports.

We Want Our Librarian!

LIBRARY chiefs have been labelled “meanies” by children over plans to move a popular librarian in a London suburb from leading a reading group to a basement sorting job.

Youngsters gathered outside the Heath Library in Keats Grove yesterday (Wednesday) to demand that Paula Rundell is kept on in the same role.

It is understood Ms Rundell, who has barely missed a single Rhyme Time reading morning in 11 years, was told by library bosses last week she would be moved to a role at Swiss Cottage Library where she will be tasked with sorting through stock. The move comes into effect next week.

The switch is part of changes that will see around two-thirds of library staff across the borough being moved to different libraries. Report from the Camden News Journal.

UK Blog: Libraries in the Age of Google

What's the point of a library or a librarian in the digital era? Who needs a physical space for books and archives, and librarians to police their use, when all that material will soon be available to anyone with a decent internet connection at the click of a mouse?

Rhetorical though they may be, blogger Rory Cellan-Jones makes an effort to find answers to these questions and more with the assistance of the director of the National Library of Wales, Andrew Green.

30 Libraries, Million Books for Liberia

30 Libraries, Million Books for Liberia
At least two public libraries will shortly be constructed in each of Liberia's 15 counties.The project is set for implementation by a Liberian organization based in the American State of North Dakota, Liberian Center for Growth and Development.

As part of the project, one million books will be given to the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of Education, for use by students.

Delhi's Not So Public Libraries

Cordelia Jenkins writes: I sauntered out of my apartment at 12 noon a couple of Sundays ago in pursuit of a good book. The temperature, I have since checked, was an ambitious 111 degrees and, as I walked in the direction of the market, I hummed that Noel Coward song about mad dogs and Englishmen. Appropriate – as I’ve noticed that the sight of a foreigner walking for any length of time in Delhi provokes the kind of disdain usually reserved for its street dogs.

I was just getting to the bit about how “Englishmen detest-a siesta” when two thoughts struck me. Surely there are libraries in Delhi? And How much nicer it would be to borrow a book than to buy one! A quick stop in an Internet café confirmed my suspicions. There are indeed public libraries in Delhi. And the nearest one to me was but a stroll away in Andrews Ganj. I strode off confidently towards the flyover and quite soon I found myself outside the gate of a concrete building bearing a blue and white sign, which read Delhi Public Library.

Read more of the author's adventure at the Livemint blog (WSJ).

School Librarians 'A Dying Breed'? Update from Australia

More than 90 per cent of teacher-librarians in Australia are believed to be over 40, compared to half of teachers generally. Many teacher-librarians also retire early because of a lack of promotional opportunities reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Meanwhile, there are just four tertiary courses nationally to train them, from a peak of 15, and only about 100 graduates a year.

Library associations say job security is poor, discouraging potential students. In Victoria, rationalisation during the Kennett era and dwindling budgets has meant many principals have chosen to hire extra classroom teachers instead of librarians to reduce class sizes.

''The view is that libraries are not important because students just access information online,'' Mrs Ellingworth told The Sunday Age. ''But the thing is, students have got information overload. They don't know where to start.''

Ms Ellingworth conducts sessions for students on finding, assessing and publishing information safely on the internet. But she would like to offer the students more.

''We used to have specific library programs … but now we work with teachers and classes..''

Cambridge U. Librarian Mourned by Colleagues

TRIBUTES have been paid to a Cambridge University librarian who died after being hit by a train. Richard Savage, of Greville Road, off Mill Road, Cambridge, died at Royston station on Friday morning.

Colleagues at the university’s Department of Plant Sciences in Downing Street have spoken fondly about the 59-year-old who worked there for 20 years.

Howard Griffiths, professor of plant ecology at the department, told of how his friend had “hidden depths” and a keen sense of humour.

He said: “Richard seemed to embody the layman’s view of a librarian. He was well-read, had a keen sense of humour, and hinted at an interesting past by using off-beat literary references when sending reminders and messages ‘from the librarian’s cage’.

The Race Against Lord Mandelson

While you might not think so, the starter's pistol has metaphorically gone off. -- Read More

Haiti's Libraries: History At Risk

Haiti's Libraries: History At Risk
The earthquake in Haiti, aside from killing a couple of hundred thousand people in the space of a heartbeat, has put so many survivors' lives in danger that even now, two months after the cataclysm, it is difficult to think about any thing else. It's hard to imagine worrying much about artifacts and archives when so many human lives have yet to be saved.

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