How our library can help you save your library

From our guest blogger, Christina Egan

Everywhere, public libraries are threatened with closure, depriving citizens of education and communication, especially those who need it most. You might feel sure that people need libraries and books, but how do you prove it? How do you find out what readers need and what they prefer? And how do you best exhaust and promote the resources at your public library or at your school resource centre? Amid the crisis which sees spending on all kinds of library services reduced, the Newsam library is just putting some books on the subject on the shelves.

The handy yellow booklet “Developing a needs-based library service” portrays public libraries as centres of social inclusion and outlines a strategy to transform your library. If you want to help save libraries, have a look here for discussion points or actions. The little pamphlet “Why families value libraries” lists some arguments for investment in this area, and the handbook “Education matters for everyone working with children in public care” is one of many titles stressing the role of literacy and libraries for a specific group of people.

The Newsam Library also has a wide range of books on school libraries, most of them grouped around “Lus Ral” – and don’t forget “Lus Ral Oversize”! You will find plenty of tips on how to provide and manage resources and how to get children and teenagers involved, from “Promoting literacy through the primary school library” to “Active learning techniques for librarians”. The “Library Association guidelines for secondary school libraries” explain the benefits students and schools draw from libraries and even contain the Unesco declaration on school libraries.

“The bookseller” provides one way to keep up to date. It runs one of many current library campaigns, the link to Facebook is at the top of the home page – no registration required to read the manifesto. An important figure here: more than one in four citizens have no internet access at home.  A clever point: libraries don’t follow commercial aims. And a bold statement: “It seems impossible to conceive a civilisation without libraries”.

The Bookseller article “Books key to libraries” of 22 Nov 2010 quotes figures from a survey on public libraries: three out of four people want to read books in them, and three out of four consider libraries as “essential” or “very important” in their lives. “Up to 1,000 libraries under threat” – dating from 25 Aug 2010 and now thought to be an underestimate – reports on the Government figures of declining library use; but we may wonder whether library services get reduced because people use libraries less, or whether people use libraries less because library services get reduced…

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