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Panlibus 29 – now available online

I am pleased to announce the autumn issue – and what will be my last edition as Editor – of Panlibus is now available online.

This issue has a public library focus, but as always includes something for university and college libraries. We have recently reported on both the future of public and academic libraries, so this issue we continue the series by looking at the future of librarians and preparing librarians for the future (p.14).

The Welsh Information Literacy Project is entering its fourth phase following the successful initial three phases. The honour of progressing the fourth phase has been awarded to the North Wales Library Partnership and Coleg Llandrillo. Siona Murray gives us the inside track on phase four.

The Reading Agency has been leading on many incredible projects over the years all borne from a series of ‘what if’ questions. Miranda McKearney, in her last Panlibus article before her well-earned retirement, provides an overview of some of those innovative projects.

Edinburgh Libraries has long been a beacon of success for public libraries, but it wasn’t always thus. We look at what changes Edinburgh have undertaken over the past few years to now fly the flag for public libraries.

We also have articles demystifying cloud computing libraries, exploring Bradford College’s plans for their new library and a case study from lorensbergs.

It has been an honour and a privilege to have been the editor of Panlibus for nearly four years, and thank you all for your support of Panlibus throughout its existence.

I hope you enjoy this issue, and as always, I encourage you to get in touch with your thoughts on any of the articles. If you have any topics you would like to share with the library world, our new editor would be extremely pleased to hear them. Please contact them on

Panlibus 28 – now available online

libraries-panlibusI am pleased to announce the summer issue of Panlibus is now available online.

The further and higher education landscape is changing. An increase in tuition fees in higher education and changes to further education funding are contributing to an uncertain future. In this issue we focus on the academic library agenda.

Planning for the future in these uncertain times is key to growing the library. Andrew Simpson from the University of Portsmouth  shares his thoughts on what university libraries can do to continue improving.

The ever increasing use of mobile smart devices is prompting yet more change in universities. The University of Northampton realised it needed to proactively embrace these changes and provide students with an native app and adapt their web services. MOOCs are currently a hot topic for universities. Prominent learning technologist Gerry McKiernan gives us an overview of MOOCs and strategies for promoting them in libraries.

The library management system must also adapt, whether for public or academic libraries. Capita’s Paula Keogh provides us with insight into were the LMS will go in the next few years. We also have an extract from Capita’s recent white paper ‘Protecting library services’, focussed on technology in public libraries.

Capita’s Additions Partners provide a wide range of solutions designed to improve the library service. In this issue we feature articles from Bibliotheca, 2CQR and 3M.

I hope you enjoy this issue, and as always, I encourage you to get in touch with your thoughts on any of the articles. If you have any topics you would like to share with the library world, I would be extremely pleased to hear them. Please contact me on

The latest issue of Panlibus Magazine is now online

The latest issue of Panlibus Magazine is available to read online today.image

Technology and libraries have always gone hand in hand and with the two becoming increasingly entwined, this issue offers an array of views and opinions from many prominent voices in the library technology community.

Brian Kelly from UKOLN (p6) notes that rapid technological developments, combined with the financial crisis, will transform the nature of the services provided. Brian gives his technological predictions for 2012 and describes approaches for planning for the future. Peter Kilbourn of Book Industry Communication (p4) believes that technology can be used to protect the best of the library tradition and exploit the existing network of buildings, but in a way that doesn’t put pressure on rapidly dwindling funds.

The emergence of mainstream cloud computing over the last couple of years has prompted libraries to ask how this will affect them and what benefits it will bring. Erik Mitchell, a prominent figure in the world of cloud computing in libraries, discusses its impact and offers some guidance on balancing the issues and implications when evaluating cloud for libraries (p14). We also take a look at some of the practical applications of cloud in use in libraries currently (p8).

Capita’s Additions Partners provide a wide range of technology designed to improve your library service. In this issue we have articles from 3M, introducing SIP 3.0; Edinburgh libraries and Solus, outlining how they together achieved significant growth for the virtual library; and PSP Security Protection, introducing themselves to the Panlibus readers.

Subscribe to receive your own hard-copy or online version.


Thank you to all who filled out our recent survey. The answers have all now been collated and are being analysed. One of the things that has come out so far is introducing a ‘letters to the editor’ page which I am very keen to introduce. If you would like to send a letter for publication please email me at

Finally, the winner of the survey prize draw is Helen Standish from Manchester Metropolitan University, who takes home a Kindle. Congratulation to Helen.

Mark Travis, Editor, Panlibus Magazine

The virtual library achieves significant growth

Guest post from Edinburgh City Libraries and Capita Additions Partner Solus (Panlibus Magazine Issue 23)

For years libraries have been under increasing pressure. Faced with static or falling visitor numbers, budgetary constraints, competition from “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” retailers and etailers, and the rise of the ereader, commentators have long predicted their demise.

Rather than roll over and accept this, the City of Edinburgh has chosen to harness the very technology cited as a threat and engage with new audiences in new ways. The primary aim has always been to attract physical users to their facilities, however if this is not possible then the next best thing is to engage digitally with their audience.

If you think about citizens in a new way, as mobile, digitally accessible, yet unique and focused on receiving the service that they want whenever they want it, technology gives them and you the opportunity to build a new relationship. Once in place, it also enables you to market your services free of charge, increasingly important in these austere times.

Liz McGettigan, Library and Information Services Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council realised the requirement to engage with developments in web 2.0 services, or risk being left behind in an increasingly digital world. She saw the opportunities for promotion that social media enabled and created a team of people within the library to pull all electronic resources into one location. Finally she employed the best technology available to engage with Edinburgh’s citizens, in facilities, on the web, socially and on the go.

Libraries now lead the way in Edinburgh, with other departments continually looking to implement their successful strategy.

  • Your Library: the Web Portal – This unique portal unites all digital resources including catalogues, databases and other websites
  • Tales of One City – Is an integrated approach to social media engaging citizens and local communities with Edinburgh’s blog, Facebook site, Twitter feed, Flickr and YouTube sites. It’s push and pull communication that connects with their audience
  • SOLUS – Gives Edinburgh the power to schedule content from their Web based Content Management System to: digital signage, web & desktop video players, a library app and to social media channels

SOLUS, a member of Capita’s Additions Partner Programme, provides Edinburgh with a unique digital communications capability and helps maximise efficiency in a market where cost saving and best value is critical. Jim Thompson, Edinburgh’s Development and Quality Manager, stated, “the premise behind SOLUS is the ability to create once and schedule many. SOLUS allows us to use one system to upload a promotional video file to our digital signage network, make it available to view across our desktops, embed it into our web portal and intranet, schedule it to our mobile app and distribute it automatically to all our social media channels.”SOLUS Diagram

SOLUS has also fully integrated with Capita’s LMS to provide functionality for “Your Library App” and this has enabled additional benefits. Most recently added and most popular stock can now be automatically promoted across other platforms managed by SOLUS, such as digital signage and social media.

Neil Wishart, Director of SOLUS, was recently at Downing Street, discussing the potential of “Your Library App” with Nick Jones, Director of Digital Communications for No. 10 and The Cabinet Office. Following the meeting Neil commented:

NeilWishartNo.10“One of the key requirements for government at all levels is to engage more efficiently and effectively with citizens. The digital citizen is real and their dependency on technology is increasing. Rather than being a threat, it provides libraries with the biggest opportunity in a generation to engage with new users in increasing numbers. At the same time, it will let them do this more efficiently and effectively. For the citizen, libraries can offer easy and immediate access to services that can save them money. If people are cutting back due to their personal budgets being squeezed, libraries can take advantage.”

To take advantage, access must be 24/7, slick and with instant gratification. V2 of Edinburgh’s Library App will allow users to scan a barcode in a shop and automatically search the library catalogue. This is already reality, the recently launched Haringey Library App which is powered by SOLUS allows users to scan, search and reserve within seconds. If they don’t know how to get to the reserved item, the app will take them there and if an Ebook is available, users can get that instant gratification!

Of course, the proof is in the pudding and Liz McGettigan has solid evidence to prove this innovative use of technology is working. In the last year digital visits have increased by 135,000, PC usage is up by 145,000 sessions, attendance at events has increased, up 32% and significantly, the decline in physical visits has been reversed with an extra 30,000 people attending libraries. Wishart stated, “it’s a classic case of inbound marketing, where effective online positioning has a direct impact on offline behaviour. It’s fantastic for Liz to be able to report back to her stakeholders that she has improved access to services and achieved a direct return on investment, both in relation to time and money.” Success has also culminated in national recognition with the efforts of Liz, Jim and the team bringing a shortlist for the

What’s next? Creating an app, using social media, installing a digital signage network are all great foundations, but maximum uptake can only be ensured through effective on going promotion. The next step in the partnership between Edinburgh Libraries and SOLUS is to develop a range of collaterals to shout about libraries. Liz commented, “There is no point in having the world’s best kept secret, we want as many physical and digital users as we can possibly attract. We are actively working on materials with SOLUS to promote our App and these will be resources that can be shared with other libraries across the UK. There is no point replicating spend – if we can all make further efficiency savings and at the same time develop really exciting material, it benefits the whole library community.”

See more from Solus and Edinburgh Libraries later this week at EDGE 2012.

Roll up! Roll up! Circus Stars make an entrance at this year’s Summer Reading Challenge launch…

Capita was proud to be invited to the launch of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge at the House of Commons, which this year has the theme ‘Circus Stars’.

The Summer Reading Challenge which is run by independent charity The Reading Agency, along with libraries across the UK, is the biggest and most successful reading promotion for 4-11 year olds, encouraging all children who take part to read at least 6 books over the summer holiday.

The event was bustling with some of the nation’s best loved authors, along with MPs, councillors, publishing industry figures, librarians and library campaigners.

As Miranda McKearney, Director of the Reading Agency explained, this year’s challenge will be the biggest ever, with 97% of local authorities and 3000 young volunteers taking part. Miranda made the point that libraries are in the serious business of making reading fun and the sad fact is that only 40% of children enjoy reading. Research carried out by the UK Literacy Association shows that participating in the Summer Reading Challenge combats the ‘summer holiday dip’ in pupils’ reading motivation and attainment, and boosts their desire to read at home.

Greta Paterson, Head of Children and Young People Services at East Sussex County Council, told me “It’s a fantastic way to connect with young readers, it gets library staff into schools and we see children in the library that we perhaps wouldn’t see otherwise.” The enthusiasm and energy of the people that are directly involved with making the Summer Reading Challenge a success was apparent, as was the mood of optimism and determination despite the tough financial times some library services are facing at the moment.

Voicing his support for the event, Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools described the Challenge as a “pivotal part of the educational reform” that the government is undertaking and revealed that 1 in 5 eleven year olds currently leave primary school without being able to read. He pledged that every child should be able to read by the age of six, a goal which the government has started to work towards.

A highlight of the event was a few words from acclaimed children’s author and Patron of the Summer Reading Challenge, Michael Rosen. He talked enthusiastically about the value of libraries,  which he described as “a treasure trove of the world’s wisdom, there for free”. He also stressed the importance of what he termed “book learning”, even in (or especially in) this age of the internet.

And if the future success of the Summer Reading Challenge wasn’t already in the bag, Ruth Mackenzie, Director of the Cultural Olympiad, announced that The Reading Agency have been selected to be part of the London 2012 Festival. The Reading Agency will be working with libraries all over the UK to stage a huge reading extravaganza and to, as Ruth put it, sprinkle some “Olympic magic dust in every library”. Sounds good to us.

Making the Difference, Libraries Change Lives Award 2011

At a time where libraries face an uncertain future, stories of how libraries are being used to reach out to vulnerable people and bring together communities are greatly welcomed. Arguably the biggest accolade of libraries affecting their community is CILIP’s prestigious “Libraries Change Lives Award”.

In its 20th year, the Libraries Change Lives Awards provides a home to celebrate innovative projects across the country, such as: Bookstart, a project run by Sunderland Libraries and Booktrust and Across the Board: Autism support for families, run by Leeds Library and Information Service. This year’s award was announced at Umbrella and won by Kent Libraries and Archives who ran the Making a Difference project.

The Making a Difference project began with Kent Libraries working closely with the local district partnership to provide a venue, and a wide range of activities, for a group of adults with learning difficulties to socialise and to relax. The library worked in collaboration with partners that include statutory organisations, charities and volunteers. Carers were able to deliver regular Biblio Hour events, large themed evenings such as “Putting On the Ritz” (a 1920’s fashion evening), and a number of volunteering and work experience opportunities.

One of the work experience opportunities arose when Communities Future Kent met a mystery shopper service called Shopper Anonymous Kent. At the time there were no persons with learning difficulties on their books, but through the work with the library, Graham Seymour, the Managing Director provided training to the group. From there, eight trained mystery shoppers have visited most of the major libraries in the west of the county to provide advice how to improve the inside and outside of the library. The result was that a number of adults with learning difficulties were employed by the library and Easy Access collections of stock, chosen by adults of learning difficulties, being placed in town centre libraries.

So far, 721 adults with learning disabilities from across the county have taken part in library activities since April 2010, helping vulnerable people feel safe and to help themselves.

Do libraries have a future?

Panlibus Magazine article by Alan Gibbons (Issue 20)

Rarely have British libraries faced greater challenges. It is fashionable to call the presence of multiple problems a perfect storm. It is an apt, if overused, metaphor for the predicament in which libraries and librarians find themselves. Within living memory the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act appeared to guarantee their future as a free, universal service. It ushered in a period commonly known as the ‘golden age’ of libraries. The sixties saw spending grow by half and staffing by 40%. Though school libraries and school library services did not come under the aegis of the Act, they too tended to flourish in its wake.

The first major challenge to this apparent progress came with the public spending cuts of the eighties. By the late nineties many observers, including a DCMS report, were talking about a ‘service in crisis.’ A period of retrenchment was underway. Under the Tory and Labour governments of the era some branch libraries were closed and the number of professional librarians fell. Opening hours and book stocks were invariably a soft target for council savings. The weeds were beginning to appear in the garden but, with the onset of the great economic crash of 2008, the malignant growths have multiplied and threaten to choke the flowers to death.

The greatest threat came from last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review which set councils a target of cutting their budgets by 28% over four years, an unheard of reduction. New technology added a second challenge. Libraries had begun to meet it with some confidence, but as usual there were philistines getting out their spades to bury the institution because ‘everything is going digital’, even though libraries were demonstrating in practice that it was possible to manage the older and newer reading technologies quite successfully. The third element of the perfect storm was what a recent parliamentary committee called ‘woeful’ leadership.

Those choking weeds are now bearing a poisonous fruit. The new government has pushed libraries to the front of the queue for cuts, which have been ‘frontloaded’ as managerial speak so wretchedly puts it. In areas such as Oxfordshire, Doncaster, Barnet, Suffolk, Somerset, North Yorkshire and Gloucestershire half or more of the branch network could lose funding. The Isle of Wight would be left with just two libraries. Book funds are being slashed, by 75% in the case of Nottinghamshire. Staffing is being cut. The government believes that volunteers and Big Society providers can fill the vacuum left behind, but taking over a library is not just a matter of getting a few friends together as Jim Brooks, Chairman of the Friends of Little Chalfont Community Library, in Buckinghamshire explains in an interesting article here:

In 2009 the then shadow Culture Minister Ed Vaizey berated Andy Burnham for not halting Wirral’s plan to close eleven libraries in these terms:

“Andy Burnham’s refusal to take action in the Wirral effectively renders the 1964 Public Libraries Act meaningless. While it is local authorities’ responsibility to provide libraries, the Act very clearly lays responsibility for ensuring a good service at the culture secretary’s door. If Andy Burnham is not prepared to intervene when library provision is slashed in a local authority such as the Wirral, it is clear that he is ignoring his responsibilities as secretary of state, which in the process renders any sense of libraries being a statutory requirement for local authorities meaningless.”

Andy Burnham eventually changed his mind about Wirral, saving the libraries. Unfortunately, Ed Vaizey also proved capable of changing his mind. There are now many Wirrals. At the time of writing 375 libraries are under threat. It is not just the public library service that is feeling the swish of the grim reaper’s scythe. School libraries have closed and so have School Library Services. All three arms of the British library structure are facing something of a crisis.

I first became aware of the gathering storm in July, 2008 when I was invited to address a protest meeting in Doncaster, organized by the local Save Our Libraries group. The council was cutting 32 jobs, 35% of the book budget and making £600,000 of savings. The director pushing through the measures justified them by saying: “People can buy all the books they need at Tesco.” It was a sign of things to come. Along with Michael Rosen, Philip Pullman, Melvin Burgess, Robert Swindells and many more authors I protested to Mayor Winter about the proposals. Within months the Meadows School in Chesterfield made librarian Clare Broadbelt redundant and closed the library. I organized a second round of author protests and the Campaign for the Book was born.

In December we faced our first huge test, one that united the book world in its indignation at the new era of philistinism. Wirral council on Merseyside, a Labour/Lib Dem administration was planning to close eleven of its libraries with very little consultation and with no clear strategy for the future of its library service. There were protests from Cilip, the trade unions, authors and library users. A 1,000 strong march wound its way through Birkenhead. I wrote an Open Letter to Culture Minister Andy Burnham on February 11th. On the 21st he said he was ‘not minded’ to review the Wirral cuts.

The broad coalition of opposition to the closures refused to lie down. A local solicitor sought a judicial review. Still the Department of Culture, Media and Sport was unmoved. On March 27th Junior Minister Barbara Follett repeated the mantra that the DCMS was ‘not minded’ to step in. We resorted to the tactic of appealing under the 1964 Act. By April 4th Andy Burnham was the first Minister since 1991 to intervene. He commissioned a report by Sue Charteris and the eleven libraries won a reprieve. Around the same time campaigners were successful in keeping open Old Town library in Swindon. We had won a significant victory that we celebrated at a Campaign for the Book conference in 2009 in Birmingham. Everybody had played a part, the Library Campaign, ourselves, the trade unions, Cilip and the local people in the Wirral where there were huge protests.

There were other elements of progress. Representatives of Cilip, the SLG, YLG, the Campaign for the Book and the School Library Association met to press the case for statutory school libraries. The School Libraries Commission chaired by Baroness Morris highlighted the worth of the school library. Sadly, the fallout from the banking crash overshadowed every forward step we took. Campaigners had demonstrated a new vigour in raising the profile of libraries. We had won a victory in the Wirral. The next time around however we would be fighting many such battles simultaneously.

This is the context. There is another sub-text however. Never has a coordinated and integrated library service been more relevant and necessary. This year’s PISA survey has placed the UK in 25th place in international comparisons of reading standards. Ten years ago we were in seventh place! The report’s authors identified the lack of reading for pleasure among teenagers as a major factor in our relative decline. In other words, at the very moment the case for reading and libraries is becoming more urgent, the political class is driving ever more disproportionate and damaging cuts. Figures such as Desmond Clarke and Tim Coates are pointing at issues such as overheads as important in any discussion of alternatives to closure.

The government continues to pursue its cost-cutting measures at a breakneck pace. The ‘bonfire of the quangoes’ has already done for the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, transferring its powers to Arts Council England. It has rejected the case for statutory school libraries. Enthusiasts for libraries are refusing to go quietly into that good night however. At the time of writing activists in several areas are planning legal challenges under the 1964 Act. Others are organizing protests, petitions and Read Ins. Thee is even a call for a national inquiry into the programme of closures. The last Open Letter against library closures had well over 1,000 signatories including the likes of Lee Childs, Carol Ann Duffy, Bonnie Greer, Terry Jones and Michael Holroyd. Never have the pressures been greater, but never have advocates of books and libraries been more resourceful, imaginative, determined and successful in arguing their case in the media and out in the community. How this situation pans out will determine the quality of reading and information services in the UK for many years to come.

Alan Gibbons is an author and organizer of the Campaign for the Book. His blog acts as a forum for library campaigners and book lovers.

British Library 2020 Vision – A Podcast Round Table with Dame Lynne Brindley

2020cover Back in September 2010 the British Library unveiled their their thinking about priorities and aspirations for the next decade – 2020 Vision [pdf].

As the associated area of the BL web site explains:

2020 Vision is our 10-year vision, following 12 months of extensive and wide-ranging research and consultation. In today’s climate of significant technological change, it highlights what are likely to be the key trends and opportunities over the next decade, and indicates how we will develop as an organisation to increase access to the world’s knowledge base for our users.

As a major [inter-]national library and significant planet in the solar system of UK culture and heritage the BL, and it’s vision for the future and subsequent shorter-term strategy is of wide interest and relevance – not least to those working within the academic and public library communities.

Dame Lynne Brindley In today’s conversation I bring together British Library Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, Head of Strategy and Planning at the BL, Lucie Burgess, with Ayub Khan, Head of Libraries – Strategy for Warwickshire Library & Information Service, and Library Consultant Owen Stephens.

In this fascinating conversation we hear how the BL went about the process of forming and publishing their Vision, the need for it, and how it will influence their direction over the next few years.  Owen & Ayub reflect upon what it may, or may not, mean for UK libraries for academic and public libraries and share with us their marks out of ten for the vision.

The 2020 Vision Site is also worth a visit to scan through some of the background and to view the research that underpins the vision:


PPRG Conference – Technology and Customer Data

5168535217_7d7cef332b_mLast Saturday morning I had the pleasure of presenting at this year’s CILIP PPRG Conference being held in the Lake District overlooking Lake Windermere. The conference theme for this year was Marketing Gold — promoting libraries using data & web technologies.

So on the final morning of the conference I gave my presentation on using technology to get the most out of your data. I discussed the use of data and database marketing in an integrated marketing strategy, and provided live demos on some of the technology we use at Talis, and how that could be beneficial for libraries to adopt. The technology that seemed to catch the eye was our email client, VerticalResponse, and how it can be used to track users’ email consumption habits.

During the other sessions, it was great to see what libraries are doing already with their data to model users/potential users and provide a marketing strategy tailored to them. Nick London from Nottinghamshire Libraries gave an extremely useful presentation discussing (amongst other things) the Mosaic geodemographic data that they have been using to profile users and feed into marketing strategy. Both Nick and I showed the VizLib Project that Leicestershire Libraries have been working on – visualising library authority usage data. Worth a look if you haven’t seen it already.

PPRG ConferenceOther technologies mentioned over the conference that you may find useful to aid your library marketing were Google Analytics, Wordle, Tweetdeck, and Facebook Insights.

As an aside, congratulations to both Durham University Library and Stirling Libraries on their PPRG Marketing Excellence awards announced at the conference.

Pictures courtesy of CILIP PPRG on Flickr.

PLA 2010

PLAIt almost seemed like fate that the first day of the PLA conference, known for being addressed by the  incumbent Minister for Culture, was also on the same day as the Comprehensive Spending Review announcement. Libraries have been in the limelight recently, not always positively, about what will happen when public sector spending is cut, and the speech by the current Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, was much anticipated. To the dismay of the delegates it was announced that he wouldn’t be attending to deliver his speech, but would instead be on video link from London.

So after the morning coffee break, we all gathered in the main hall to hear Vaizey’s speech. Unfortunately the line wasn’t great but the Minister reaffirmed the value of libraries, and reiterated that the next few years would be tough. He said that libraries have a huge future and a very important role to play in society. For those in the audience waiting for a big announcement, it didn’t come. Although the Minister didn’t really say anything new it was encouraging to hear that the future of the public library service is safe and the 1964 Act wouldn’t be repealed.

It was good to hear from the new CEO of CILIP, Annie Mauger, on day two of the conference. The view from CILIP is that now is the time to make libraries, and the library service, more visible. They have said that they will continue to campaign and advocate all libraries, and ensure that the need for professional librarians is maintained. Annie also revealed the CILIP policy on volunteers and gave a mention to the ‘what makes a good library service’ manual.

The underlying message throughout the conference was that times are going to be hard. The comprehensive spending review made official what a lot of people already knew – budgets are going to be cut and the age of austerity has begun. In her closing address Kate Millin, conference chair, said that as long as good practice is shared and close working relationships are formed between libraries, partners and suppliers, then libraries will be well equipped to see through the tough times ahead.