January 31, 2007
A manifesto for public libraries
In the past 2 weeks I have made a series of entries to describe what I and a group of others would like to propose as a new initiative for public libraries in England. I have compiled the entries and the ideas into one document which is here: --
I would be very grateful for comments here or in emails.
Public Library Policy
There is a need for a new fresh policy for the public library service for these reasons:
a. The library service is for people and its only purpose is to respond to their needs (currently it does not do this adequately)
b. It is essentially about reading (currently it not sufficiently so)
c. Its operation must be simple (improvements are too slow because at present it is too complex)
d. Those most responsible for providing the service are those who work in the libraries (currently they do not have control over the means that would allow them to be).
e. Those accountable to the public are councillors (currently they do not ).
f. We all pay for it through taxation and the law requires its use to be free and accessible. (often it is not)
g. The current law providing library services is good (but not properly operated)
1) The public library service is an end in itself. Obviously it contributes to a civilised, cultured, educated, informed, involved and well-read society-- but only when it is a good library service. The first concern is to ensure that nowhere is it mediocre and dismal or expensive, but rather that it is useful and of high standard. Low standards of service are too widespread and those responsible need to make swift and radical changes.
2) Attempts to identify the “impact” of public libraries or their contribution to other national or community agendas confuse and distract the management; they are not helpful and should stop. Funding should match the cost of the service when it is operated in an efficient manner. Funds should not have to be justified on the grounds of the contribution the service makes or varied as to where it is more or less used. Public libraries are intrinsically good and the Government and local councils should have the faith to say so. These beliefs, however, go alongside the reality that all government funded services must be as efficient as possible and must always strive to improve productivity.
3) National funding, as part of the grant given to local councils should be for the “core” of the service which was well defined by the Culture Select Committee report of March 2005. They described a service of books and reading material of all kinds, a place of private study and for the pursuit of information through whatever media are available. They envisaged open free access, encouragement for children and respect and concern for the disabled and disadvantaged. If councils wish to use the facilities for other purposes in addition to the core operation that is for them to decide- but those other purposes should not distract from nor destroy the intrinsic purpose of the library- and sometimes they can.
4) The management arrangement provided for in the 1964 Act is satisfactory. Local councils are responsible for providing the service. The Minister of State is responsible for gathering information about performance of the service and superintending the efforts of councils and has the right to intervene when performance is not satisfactory. While the Act is well intended, it has not been well used. It is necessary, as the Select Committee also said, for the civil servants of the DCMS who support the minister to “raise their game” so that the Act is operated effectively and with some urgency. Intervention does not have to mean takeover, it can mean all kinds of help.
5) When a service is provided “free at the point of delivery” that arrangement removes from managers the pressures that are created by a need for cash flow. While this is a satisfactory and admirable social arrangement it is very dangerous for managers to be allowed to be remote from the effects of public response to what they do. It places enormous responsibility on senior managers to recreate that need for public approval. It is the absence of this contact with the public response and the failure to replace it with exacting management routines which lie at the root of much of the inefficient management of public libraries.
6) There are too many bodies which exert influence over the service but carry no responsibility for its performance, nor are accountable for its results. Only councils (or “library authorities”) and the Minister are responsible and any other structure and agencies must be limited to those which can assist them in the exercise of their endeavour.
7) On the other hand the public have almost no influence over the quality of the service either nationally or locally; councillors who these days are paid to have responsibility receive no training in that role and the counter staff who actually deal with the public and provide the service are rarely involved in decision making, seldom have control over the resources which they need and are treated as second class operators- which they are not. Over and over one hears them say that there are “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”. All these aspects are serious faults in the provision.
8) The Select Committee also called for an arrangement they described as “carrot and stick”. The carrot needs to be reward for managers who run library services of the highest standard; the stick needs to be applied through the mechanisms of CPA operated by the Audit Commission or through intervention by the Minister. Authority comes, as in most structures, from knowledge, experience, wisdom and leadership- not from the giving of instruction and obedience to commands. There is no reason in the structural arrangement envisaged by the Act why the Minister cannot lead the public library service if he or she has those qualities.
9) Actions are needed to address the problems described in the previous paragraphs and the Government needs to be sure that they are undertaken in a satisfactory way.
1) Vision: There needs to be a clear and straightforward statement that the public library service is for books, reading and information and provides a private place for reading and study. Libraries and the library service should be of the highest standard everywhere and accessible to all and there should be encouragement to use them.
2) The Government should express its care for the service as belonging to the public and accept its responsibility for its operation. It should acknowledge its duty to pass the service, the buildings and their collections of material to future generations.
3) Councils should publicly acknowledge that they share this same vision of the library service with the Government and state clearly that they do so. It is not for individual councils to re-define what is meant by the public library service, but rather to operate and provide the service to the public.
4) The measurement of performance and cost of the service should be made independent of Government and put in the hands of one or more Consumer Associations who are tasked on behalf of the public to gather and report information which their understanding of the public requires. This information should be available and communicated to the public and councils. This will also be the information that the Minister needs to fulfill his role. This would replace CIPFA, PLUS and LISU.
5) New independently provided training programmes (paid for by councils) using the performance and cost data supplied by these new agencies should be prepared for councillors who are responsible for libraries, directors of councils who are delegated responsibility by councillors, counter staff and library managers and council officers who operate the public library service. The whole training and management development regime for public libraries needs renewal. These programmes would replace the current charter operated by CILIP and others
6) Councils need to devolve library management to local libraries and find practical ways to build relationships with and involve the public in the community that surrounds each library. They should, in doing so, reduce the level of non library operations and seek to outsource back office work. (This implies implementation of the PKF study in place of the PWC supply chain studies)
7) The Audit commission should include these as the CPA measures for public libraries within its “Culture” programme:
a. Library authorities should spend at least £3 per person on books each year.
b. Library authorities should spend at least £3 per person on revenue or capital works to improve library premises
c. Libraries in small towns should be open not less than 40 hours per week, never closed for lunch, and open late at least one evening
d. Libraries in large towns and catchments should be open 60 hours per week and at least two late evenings per week
e. Any measures that would cause old stock to be reduced in quality or quantity should be removed from CPA- the rest of the indicators should made comprehensible to the public.
f. CPA should look for book issues and visitor numbers to be increasing in every single library
g. Permanent library buildings should be provided in population areas with X people or more.
h. Any proposed library closure should be notified to the Minister with proper quantified explanation shared with the public
i. Councils should have a clear method of regularly reporting the key figures of library cost and performance so they are readily understood and available. The presentation and meaning of terms should be consistent across the country.
These measures should replace all other CPA measures, Public Library Standards and Impact measures.
8) There needs to be special attention to the public library service in London; it must be raised in the esteem of the public and its whole operation and structure needs urgent renewal
9) At the other extreme there needs to be attention to those less populous areas in which funding is very limited and the needs for high quality service in small communities is very great.
10) Responsibility for implementation of these plans lies with the Minister of State for the Arts. Currently, provided by the 1964 Act, the Minister has a team of advisers to assist him in his public duty; this is known as The Advisory Council on Libraries (ACL). In order to acknowledge to the public the serious nature of the problems facing the service the nature and role of this body needs to change and its profile to be raised. It could be called the “Public Library Board for England”. The role, duties and composition of this board should be as follows
11) This new Library Board needs to have three roles: to advise the Minister on behalf of the public; to assist the minister in the superintendence of the service and to assist the minister to implement the actions of this new policy it would also have the capacity to provide help to individual councils to implement the detailed work of these policies. In order to perform these functions it needs both executive and non executive management capable of performing the roles. This new board would replace the national and regional public library functions of the MLA’s and the existing ACL;
12) Above all this new policy and these initiatives must recognise that in place of all the bodies of Government that are normally listed when “stakeholders of the public library” service are mentioned: the first and most important stakeholders are the public for whose benefit the service exists and who pay for it to be provided.
Delay: the Department of Libraries and Archives
Readers of this blog will recall many many discussions about how important it is to get one library membership card for London (and then how it should be one library card for England, the world etc)
The London Agency and the MLA decided to conduct a feasability study- which has taken a year to do. I imagined (stupidly) this study would then say- this is how to do it, this is what it will cost and it will take a year to carry out
Oh No! Here is the press release --- it confirms after a year that this would indeed be a good idea. There's still no sign of anybody doing anything. Dream on.
And here is the report itself produced by (would you believe it?) Price waterhouse Cooper!!
The trouble with this "shall we move Stonehenge" approach to life is that these people effectively block the route for anybody more enterprising to get on an do things quickly (which I wanted to do!)
One expression I find odious in all these documents is the misuse of the word "Stakeholder" - in this document one of the main groups of "stakeholders" is said to be the 33 chief librarians of the London Boroughs. The effect of this is that it is this group who have a tremendous influence over how the project will progress and what will be regarded as its main objects.. What about the public? Why are they never listed as the main "stakeholder" - why is their urgent need not taken into account at all.
If the public had been regarded as the prime "stakeholder" then it would have been obvious to all that "completing this work by the Olympics" was a daft and hopeless target (as several commenters have already said)
January 30, 2007
This is of no consequence at all, but browsing around the Windsor and Maidenhead library site (see below), I came across this Gutenberg site with its remarkable list of "E-books borrowed yesterday"
The confused world of library policy
As if to demonstrate the point about the confused and confusing world of library policy and priorities, someone has kindly sent me the library policy website for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead..
In response to the public's simple request for more books and reading material; longer hours and clean safe buildings in which to work, (I think none of these things is mentioned at all) this document demonstrates that planning is not about quality of thinking, but the length and number of documents.
£158,000 owed for library fines in Essex
According to this article in the local paper.
Perhaps this means that these people will also never return the books upon which the fines are owed. Therefore when the catalogue says "this book is out on loan" - in reality it is lost and unavailable.
The library computer systems across the country tell us that the "lending stock" has fallen from 100m books to 80m-- but if you take a fair estimate of losses of the kind hinted at here, and losses which arise from straightforward theft of the kind any shop experiences, it is possible that the "lending stock" may already be below 50m books.. It is certainly true that any library I go into has precious little to borrow. That observation is generally more true in the urban areas and the south than in the rural areas and in the north (but that is not a scientific assessment)
As long as taxpayers keep paying....
I know of at least eight councils in which "a review of the public library service" is taking place. These have come about because councillors in office or in opposition have raised the service sufficiently high up the agenda for there to be a need.. It means that there is recognised to be a serious problem.
There are certainly many more councils of which I have not heard, doing the same thing.
However, the process takes months- probably years. People will spend months and months rehearsing the procedures and committee hearings that are required to satisfy the processes of such scrutiny
No one considers for a minute that the review is taking place because the public are receiving unsatisfactory service for which they are being forced to keep paying-- and that therefore the need is urgent.
This is allowed to be happen because there is no pressure of money -- the libraries could close down (they often do for holidays and extended refits) - but unlike in the non-paid-for world - when the service isn't there the people who work in it still get paid.
The procedures of the council become far more important than the needs of the public-- so that as long as it can be said that a review is in progress, no one cares tuppence about whether the service is any good or not. Two or three years of poor quality work don't matter-- as long as there is a process of review being called for or in place.
People say to me "Local councils are very slow you know" - as if somehow that was acceptable and a fact of life. It isn't and it should not be.
It is fine to have a service that is "free at the point of delivery" and I would never suggest that be changed-- but that arrangement places enormous responsibility on the senior managers in public service to act with the diligence and expedition that is required of managers who don't have the same cash- flowing- abundant world in which to work.
Diligence and Expedition would be make good civil administration-- but we certainly don't see much of them.
For goodness sake hurry up and do the job!
January 29, 2007
Libraries in Wales
This long and heartening article about public libraries in Wales is good in the sense that it acknowledges that there is a problem and declares an intention to do something about. (if the link doesn't work - see the article below)
But it is disappointing that it doesn't recognise that much of the problem lies in the neglected state of the book and reading collections and that it doesn't address the problem of replicated management and administration in all the small local councils of Wales
The initiative should call for increased book expenditure and shared costs between councils.
This announcement is popping up on news items and it reminds me of the great "Lottery to give £80m to libraries-- but not a penny of it for books" headline in The Times - exactly a year ago. Politicians are daft enough to believe that spending our money is the same thing as solving a problem.. and they never learn. and we must appear daft enough to be taken in by them.
Libraries say a loud please as they start a campaign for new readers Jan 29 2007
Paul Rowland, Western Mail
THE campaign to rekindle Wales' love affair with libraries kicks off today.
More people use libraries in Wales than the rest of Britain, but numbers are declining. And their reputation for being archaic, dusty and uninviting is part of the reason.
The scheme comes amid a decline in the numbers of people regularly using libraries, as multi- media advances take their toll on demand for their services.
Visitor numbers have halved over the past two decades, with the figures for the number of books issued showing an even greater drop.
The latest campaign aims to reverse that trend by raising awareness of the facilities available at most local libraries.
The Assembly Government has also pledged to provide an extra £2.5m next year towards improving the Welsh library network, after it was revealed last year that none of the local authorities in Wales were meeting the standards for library services set in 2002.
Last year's figures showed an improvement in the number of authorities spending target levels on books and other materials, but revealed 13 out of 22 still weren't reaching expected standards.
It is now hoped that a campaign will raise the profile of library services, alongside a campaign to improve standards inside Wales' ageing library buildings.
The initiative will focus on the evolution of public libraries in Wales, with the intention of shedding their image as shabby old buildings and emphasise the investment in new technology and the multimedia facilities on offer.
Recent figures have also shown major improvements in visitor numbers in libraries that have benefited from refurbishments.
An £80,000 investment in refurbishing Oystermouth Library in 2005 resulted in a 31% increase in visits in the first year, alongside a 38% rise in requests, and book issues going up by 24%.
Children's book issues increased by 42% in the same period, and books issued to children under five increased by 102%.
The campaign will also see:
A nationwide marketing campaign aimed at changing the traditional image of libraries as quiet, dusty places which only stock historical romances;
Further investment in computer technology for Welsh libraries, particularly to improve online access to libraries;
Greater emphasis on co-operation between public and educational bodies to widen access to library resources;
More attention given to ensuring library staff have the appropriate skills to help users.
The scheme is being launched today at the Whiterose Information Resource Centre in New Tredegar, in Caerphilly, where research suggests 63% of the population regularly use a public library - one of the highest figures in Wales.
The Assembly Government- funded scheme will then tour libraries around Wales to encourage more use among a generation with a stronger affinity to games consoles and the internet, than short-loan paperbacks.
The funding will go towards providing facilities such as improved study facilities, modern furniture, community meeting places, wireless internet and better provision for disabled people.
Culture Minister Alun Pugh said he wants the proportion of Welsh people using libraries, said to be 27%, to increase.
"More people in Wales than anywhere else in the UK use libraries, and I want to see more people coming through the doors," he said. "Libraries offer so much, but too many people are put off by the outdated image of libraries or the depressing condition of some libraries.
"We want to increase access to our libraries and this is why I've made money available to create libraries fit for the 21st century."
TV presenter Sarra Elgan, who is supporting the campaign, said, "I remember visiting our local library as a child and thinking it was a haven - all those books to read, and you didn't have to pay for one of them."
Librarian Helen Pridham, 31, from Port Talbot, who works in Maesteg Library, said,
"There does tend to be a misconception about libraries, people think they're boring and that you have to be quiet - it couldn't be further from the truth."
January 28, 2007
Closing the British Library
Readers of this blog will be horrified but not surprised at this article in today's Independent. (if the link doesn't work-- see below)
This crucifixion is to save £7m per annum. And the really stupid thing is that one could find savings of £7m in half an hour's examination of the budgets of the public libraries of central London - without cutting an hour or a book -- indeed by increasing them. The British library should be open 24 hours a day- or at least until midnight every day.
The managers of the British Library are from the same bunch of knuckle heads. Shame on them
Besides ; £100m per annum is a huge amount of money-- for example that is the cost of the entire public library service of Scotland. The Govt is probably entirely sensible to ask for £7m, savings it's just that the managers have the same attitude to public service as prevails everywhere: the public come last.
There is lots more debate on Susan Hill's blog
British Library to start charging
By Marie Woolf, Political Editor
Published: 28 January 2007
Its archives hold the Magna Carta, Beatles manuscripts and the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Visitors to its fabled reading room in the British Museum included Karl Marx, Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens and George Bernard Shaw. But the future of the British Library as a world-class, free resource is under threat fromplansto cut up to 7 per cent of its £100m budget in this year's Treasury spending round.
To survive, the library proposes to slash opening hours by more than a third and to charge researchers for admission to the reading rooms for the first time.
All public exhibitions would close, along with schools learning programmes. The permanent collection, which includes a copy of every book published in the UK, would be permanently reduced by 15 per cent. And the national newspaper archive, used by 30,000 people a year, including many researching their family trees, would close.
Scholars, writers and politicians have responded angrily. Award-winning author Margaret Drabble, who is currently using the library for research, said: "It would be a very great mistake and tragic to make cuts. It is a great national institution and it is used by scholars from all over the world."
Ex-Monty Python star Michael Palin, who is a patron of the library, said it was a "precious and thrilling resource" that needs to be looked after.
Since 2001, the library, now based in St Pancras and sites around London, has made savings of £40m and reduced its workforce by 15 per cent.
However, the Department for Culture says the expected cuts will mean that more savings need to be made. A spokesman said: "The cultural sector has had huge real-terms increases in funding since 1997. Clearly, this cannot go on indefinitely."
The plans have also caused consternation in the House of Lords. The broadcaster Lord Bragg said the library was of "massive importance in a society... that depends more and more on information, creativity and brains. It needs to be nourished, not hobbled".
Lord Avebury has written to Gordon Brown, who will preside over the Treasury spending plans, saying: "It is difficult to fathom the mind of a Government that sets out to wreck a world-class public institution, as you would if the British Library is forced to make these cuts."
January 27, 2007
It's one year since "Love Libraries" was launched. And it has sunk without trace. How much money was spent on it? Champagne at the launch etc-- new jolly website. "Zing" was the word we were told to look out for.
Time for the next big initiative?
The Department of Common Sense
Sparks flying in the Bookseller this week where the DCMS have described my figures about the library service in London (see previous entries) as "Fatuous" -- !!
As Richard Charkin said on his blog "Any fule can see that they indicate the possibility of some large savings"
Strange manoeuvres in Dorset
Thia article in the Dorest local paper sounds as if the council and the residents need help to sort out their library budget.. it is certainly on offer from here
January 26, 2007
A letter from the Front Line
This, rather than blogging is my preferred way of communication.
I read your response to Duchess.
I haven't heard about the CIPFA fiasco you referred to. My view is that the CIPFA counts (of numbers of visitors) in libraries are unreliable, they are dependent on
-Good branch management - non-prof. branch library manager posts aren't paid
enough to care.
-Enough staff to deploy one to the counting task - can't happen in a busy branch.
-Staff conscientiousness - low morale in library assistants doesn't help.
In my experience the counts are guess work and exaggerated to further our interests to keep the branch open.
Your other point about front-line staff liberation has liberated my spirit. Professional staff get on their high horses at the mention of non-prof staff getting recognition for their experience, professional attitude to their work and their achievement in providing excellent service at the front line. I appreciate the hard work that goes in to gaining qualifications but the public need to have direct access to these people at the branch desk. They should be sharing their expertise ( especially for children, young people & families) with the general public rather than sitting in an office sending emails to each other.
Many library assistants are very well educated, have specialised areas and skills which are served to the public - there is no recognition of these individuals or prospect of enhanced grading, it just isn't built into the staff structures. Meanwhile in ours and probably other areas, there are 5 levels of prof posts above the branch manager and these librarians are not accessible to the public. It's a disgrace and I think govt. should address this.
I have written many essays concluding with this point and get good marks so I wonder if the lecturers secretely agree with me!
January 25, 2007
Library policies- and finally
"Comprehensive performance assessment" (CPA) is the method used by the Audit Commission to measure the actitivities of local councils. For each service the council offers there is a complex score and weighting which contributes to an overall score for the council. Libraries carry a small but significant influence on this score. Therefore I propose that: .
1.Library authorities should spend at least £3 per person on books each year.
2. Library authorities should spend at least £3 per person on revenue or capital works to improve library premises
3. Libraries in small towns should be open not less than 40 hours per week, never closed for lunch, and open late at least one eveninig
4. Libraries in large towns and catchments should be open 60 hours per week and at least two late evenings per week
5. Any measures that would cause old stock to be reduced in quality or quantity should be removed from CPA- the rest of the indicators should made comprehensible to the public.
6. CPA should look for book issues and visitor numbers to be increasing in every single library
7. Any proposed library closure should be notified to the Minister with proper quantified explanation shared with the public
8. Councils should have a clear method of regularly reporting the key figures of library cost and performance so they are readily understood and available.The presentation and meaning of terms should be consistent across the country.
9. The public library service standards are not necessary, if these changes are made to CPA
10. These actions should be reflected immediately in the CPA scoring
Mobile library service to close
We still haven't seen the figures for 2005-6 but I think they will say that 70 libraries closed across the country in that year. That was before any of us spotted what was happening and all the fuss about Devon, Northumberland and the closiures around the country last year will be in the figures for 2006-7.
Here is a story from East Anglia about closing down parts of the mobile library service
January 24, 2007
Reflections on step 3
In step 3 yesterday I made two specific policy proposals
a. That the monitoring of the performance of the service nationally and locally be taken out of the hands of government and be taken over by Consumer Associations, and
b. A new training, accreditation and support service be created, also out of the hands of those who currently provide it, specifically intended to meet the requirements of councils
Within these two proposals I am proposing the end of CIPFA, LISU, PLUS, and library standards and I am questioning the role of CILIP in the public library service and the charter it holds. I am also questioning the membership and role of ACL, the influence of SCL and the relevance of the board of the MLA. You can be sure I shall cast doubt on the role currently given to MLA and its ability to carry it out and I shall certainly question the value of regional MLA's to the public library service. In other words-- I would like to see a clear out of influence which does not contribute to the service to the public and replace it with a simple effective structure that is clear and will be accountable and will work.
So those are major steps! The only comments- apart from the supportive ones, were about my apparent continuing disregard for the policy agendas of Central Government and my failiure to realise the importance of these.
I'm quite clear about this. The public library service is an end in itself. Obviously it contributes to a cvilised, cultured, educated, informed, involved and well-read society-- but only when it is a good library service. Our first concern is to turn it from being a mediocre and dismal service, which is incredibly expensive, in to one which is useful. Then we can worry about whether it makes a difference to society. Sadly at present it is a reflection of an uncultured and unambitious society- and those responsible need to make swift and radical changes.
January 23, 2007
Step 3 - two policy proposals
In my last step (step 2 below) I deduced that if libraries are to improve there are three groups of people whose needs must be addressed by new government library policy
1. The public: We have to understand and listen to what make libraries useful for them in all their requirements and stages of life, we have to understand how that changes in time, if it does; and we have to know how it varies from area to area and community to community. We have to know how, successfully, to address their needs. We have to involve the public in the operation at both local and national level. And we have to report to them clearly and in a timely and helpful way how the service is performing and what they can expect from it
2. Councillors appointed to have responsibilty for the service: we have to give them access and understanding to the library needs of their local community; we have to help them understand the efficient operation of libraries to meet those needs and the requirements of the staff. We have to help them understand the connection between money spent and service given. We have to provide them with management and performance data that they can share with and account to the public in a simple, consistent, clear and timely manner. We have to allow them to manage and direct their own operations and involve them in the creation and operation of national plans
3. Those staff who work with the public in the libraries: we have to make sure we hear their needs and listen to them and that they are trained to give service to the public in response to the need. We have to ensure that they have the stock of books and other collections, the building fabric and furniture and other equipment that is needed to provide a compehensive, welcoming and efficient service. We have to involve them in the execution of local and national plans,
For the first group (the public) the Government should use a neutral consumer association (or several competing associations) to provide data to councils. It should be continuous and provide regular updates and trends and the information it produces should be available to local councillors so they can understand small local communities. It should incorporate daily performance data for each library and each library authority in the service. Its output should be such that the public has free access to it and can understand it. Its data should be on freely accessible national web based database. And it should publicise its findings. (This will replace CIPFA, LISU, PLUS and the public library standards and most council internal reporting).
For the second two groups (councillors and front line staff) the Government should provide appropriate competely new training schemes and support networks. (These will replace all existing training and accreditation arrangements and I shall describe them more fully later). This, I believe, needs to be a radical departure.
These are 2 new policy proposals which are a new endeavour to sustain the service in the future
The end of the lending library in London
If I were a councillor in a London borough and I saw these figures I would close my libraries immediately.
People in Government use the word "advocacy" to mean please can they have more money. True advocacy would have been to address the issues implied by this
The average cost of borrowing a book in the central London boroughs in 2005/6 was
Tower Hamlets £9.90
The figure is calculated by taking the total gross expenditure on the library service in that year, in the borough and dividing it by the total number of book issues in the year. Source "CIPFA actuals" published last week
Crisis? What crisis?
Libraries in London
Great anxiety around the country about how little of the libraries budget is being spent on books. 2 years ago when the figure for England was around 9%, parliament said it should be twice as much.
Figures just released reveal that in Central London the portion of total (gross) funds being spent on books in each borough in 2005/6 was:
Hammersmith and Fulham 6.2%
Kensington and Chelsea 3.6%
Tower Hamlets 6.0%
and as a result of this book lending in each of those boroughs in that year
Camden declined by 10.2%
Greenwich declined by 2.1%
Hackney increased by 6.5%
Hammersmith and Fulham declined by 7.8%
Islington declined by 1.5%
Kensington and Chelsea declined by 8.9%
Lambeth increased by 2.1%
Lewisham increased by 0.6%
Southwark increased by 1.9%
Tower Hamlets declined by 4.2%
Wandsworth declined by 3.0%
Westminster declined by 9.7%
At the same time the cost of the library service in those boroughs rose by 19.4% and is nearly £250m per annum. Do these libraries contribute to the reading and learning of the capital-- at all?
January 22, 2007
A new policy for public libraries -Step 2
This is my second step- again please feel free to comment. I think this a really important statement:
My list of six points about public libraries (in the next entry) mentions only three groups of people
1. The public, who have a need for the public library service and who pay for it
2. Elected local councillors who gather the money and have a responsibilty to provide the service to the public and account for it
3. The people who work in the libraries in contact with the public, whose responsiblity is to meet the immediate needs that the public place upon them.
If the service is to be improved: as the six items suggest it should, the three groups of people whose views we need to hear above all others are these.
My next observation is that in all the years I have commented on the public library service I have never seen anyone attempt, in a methodical, comprehensive and lucid way, to obtain the views of any of these three groups- faced with the question "how shall we make things better?"
There are certainly many views and analyses- but none from these people. Not in the professional and continuing manner that is required.
So what is done is never done in response to the needs of the people who are the three groups of people tied together to provide our libraries. That is wrong!
We can listen to all the agencies, departments and bodies in the world, but until we have understood how it looks to these three groups we are going round in circles. This observation is key to a policy to improve the public library service
January 19, 2007
A new policy for public libraries
The challenge of the Smith institute-- and the possibility of a new administration with a new prime minister, ministers etc-- is that this is a moment to re-define the government policy for public libraries.
I have sat through two meetings and I want to share the discussion (without embarrassing anyone) on this blog.
I found myself writing down six observations which are these
1. The library service is for people and its only purpose is to respond to their needs (currently it does not do this adequately)
2, It is essentially about reading (currently it not sufficiently so)
3. Its operation must be simple (improvements are too slow because at present it is too complex)
4. Those responsible for providing the service are those who work in the libraries (currently they do not have control over the means that would allow them to be).
5. Those accountable to the public are councillors (currently they do not ).
6. We all pay for it through taxation and the law requires its use to be free and accessible.
Please do comment and feel free to be anonymous (or ask me to keep your name off the blog, if you wish).. I think this could be an excellent platform for debating policy
We had a second meeting of the group who met first at the Smith Institute.
I shall try and explain and describe the discussion properly but one recurring theme of both meetings is that running the whole library service is too complicated. The result is that nothing is achieved.
One wise delegate, after the meeting, told me to look up the meaning of Ockham's razor as a possible route forward for library policy. Here is what he meant. I agree with him and it will be fun to explore the possibility for a radical transformation of how things work.
One thing is certain-- we cannot leave things as they are - not for another 6 months.
Are the Norfolk libraries cutting the mustard?
The debate about whether libraries should be turned into internet cafes is going on in the Norfolk local paper
It is very odd that library figures are presented in different ways every time one looks at them. This article says that the council spent £12.795m on their library service of which £1.76m was spent on new books. They calculate that this is 14%
The CIPFA figures which are the cause of this article and doubltess the press release from Norfolk county council tell me that Norfolk actually spent £16.148m on its library service (some of which money comes from fines, rentals etc) in the way that IPF present the figures and that £1.50 m was spent on new books-- which is 9.3%..
I honestly don't know why there is this difference, but it would help everybody enormously if there was transparency and consistency in the use of figures like these.
A message from Mike Petty
It's good to see the concerns being expressed that the Collection should continue to be available to researchers.
If I can help researchers to exploit the materials then please feel free to contact me.
Things have changed somewhat since I left a decade ago - but I can still remember much of what I discovered and catalogued during the previous 35 years and do have some skills left!
(I have Mike Petty's email address for anyone who asks.. Tim)
January 18, 2007
Day long learning in London
The government talks about life long learning, but a student asked me yesterday if I knew of a public library that was open after 8pm so he could go and work at a table.
We searched the websites of the central London Boroughs and could find -- none at all. There are a small number that close at 8pm on the odd weekday- but we couldn't find one that stays open later, which is what he needed. "Why do libraries close on Thursdays?" he said of one council. I couldn't answer that one.
He also wanted to use his laptop in a free Wi Fi room. We couldn't see where those are, but his attention was drifting. I think he went to a large bookstore.
"the bars are open" he said.
January 17, 2007
From a library staff notice board
I was sent this. It has a ring of truth that could apply in many library authorities-- and explains a great deal---- (many thanks to my correspondent)
"It is glaringly obvious that the staff restructuring exercise has been a disaster. It has resulted in a large number of generals commanding a depleted army of front-line troops.
One of its aims was to identify key workers. Unfortunately, the frontline workers who deal with the public, answer queries, register borrowers, process, repair, issue, discharge, shelve and tidy books, operate the Peoples network have been forgotten. They are not key workers.
This has resulted in an overstretched workforce manning an increasingly inferior public service. Sickness and holidays result in frantic pleas for cover. Shelves are in a mess and large numbers of returned books lie around on trolleys and return shelves for weeks because there are insufficient frontline staff to put them back in their correct place.
In the meantime, there is a large army of ‘key officers’ beavering away writing reports, analysing statistics, planning initiatives - occupying a cloud-cuckoo land far away from reality in an atmosphere so rarefied by the lack of oxygen that delusion and hallucination are the norm. These ‘key officers’ possess ‘helicopter vision’ - the ability to soar above the mundane everyday problems and look at the wider picture. Unfortunately, if you soar high enough the everyday problems disappear completely from view.
The staff restructure has resulted in a very pretty arrangement of the deck chairs - sadly the ship is still going down.”
You couldn't make this one up either
There is a company who specialise in the design of libraries and this policy is stated clearly on their website
"Why Less is More:"
“If you find it difficult to believe that offering less choice can be helpful to readers, just think about car parking for a minute. What happens when you drive into an empty car park? You can't make up your mind where to park, often you park in one place and then change your mind - this side, no, over there - before settling. Compare that to driving into a busy car park - you see a space and you're straight in there, no messing. Less choice makes the choosing easy.”
It is for this reason that, when redesigning libraries this company reduces the number of books and the selection to the smallest amount they can, leaving only the simplest choice to the readers.
You wouldn't believe it was true-- except that these people do win a lot of library contracts and this is exactly what they do- -and why.
PS In case you are wondering--- it's wrong! A section on ornithology is better if it has books on lots of different kinds of birds-- (and even books by different authorities about the same bird) --get it? well you do, but the people at "ditch the book designs" don't understand that
British libraries turn away from books
Is the headline this morning on an American website which picks up yesterday's newspapers here
January 16, 2007
The public speaks
Thanks to David Bloy who gave me this link to this morning's Daily Mail piece and the comments that have been made
There is a very sharp contrast between what the public perceive to be happening to their libraries and what the Government keeps saying they would like to see.
The annual national statistics for the performance of the public library service up to March 2006 are being published this morning. There are no other data produced locally or nationally from which you can see how your money is spent and what results it produces. The data come from a private company called CIPFA.. The Government do not produce data of their own; nor do local councils.
If you want to see this information you have to pay CIPFA £450 or so.
If you can't afford that, then all you can see are the government press releases telling you that the public library service is wonderful and quoting very selectively a few figures which suit them.
That's wrong. The information should be quarterly, striaghtforward and free. It should show clearly both national and local figures which make it obvious to the public how the service is performing. It would help everyone if it said "This is what you appear to want, this is what you paid, this is what you got and this is how many of you used it."
The officers responsible have been told this by parliament and everybody else, over and over again.
While I try to find a friendly shoulder over which I can look at the figures a local council has bought (using our money)-- that's all I can tell you about what the figures reveal! but the Daily Mail reports this morning that libraries have been turned into internet cafes-- so so they weren't very impressed by the press releases they saw.
January 13, 2007
Faith and boldness
Here is my challenge to local councillors, council directors, library managers and professional staff and the publishing and library supply industries in all its forms:
I am looking for the opportunity to improve the public library service: it needs radical change. I think I know what needs to be done and how.
In order to make that possible I need the support of a number of councils, the directors responsible and all the supply lines, to transform their libraries into wonderful and useful services.
The alternatives to my plan are either to carry on as now and continue to watch the decline in library use, particularly for books - or to continue to follow the many and various plans of the MLA, which have produced no visible improvement in 10 years and are not likely to.
To accept this challenge requires bravery and boldness and it will be a leap of Faith. But I promise you, without that step, there will be no public library service which has at its heart the use of books and the material they contain -- very soon.
I have done as much as I can on my own. Now I need major and serious support. I need others to be as outspoken as I have been. I need to gather the best people around me and they in turn need to know they are working on solid ground. At the moment suppliers and local council officers are frightened of working with me because they (correctly) fear the disapproval of the MLA and the DCMS and the consequent loss of contracts or grants. That has to stop. Please feel free to draw this appeal to the attention of anyone who you think may wish to see it.
The sad truth is that there is no confidence in councils or in the library profession that the MLA can do the job. It is time to face that - and act quickly to save our public libraries. I am sorry to have to be the person who articulates this: there are others who should have done so; but if nobody else will it still needs to be said.
Appeal for help from Winchester library
I received this message last night - if anyone from Winchester library wants to contact this lady I have her email address
"How sorry I am to hear about this trouble with the library. This comes just as I am, from thousands of miles away, diving into the city's Saxon past, contacting anyone and everyone for what information I can find. In fact, I just sent some money to the library at the request of someone in the Local Studies department who will, I hope, be able to send me some photocopies related to my research. I have had some trouble getting responses.. and now I know why.
I wish there was something I could do to help."
January 12, 2007
There's a comment below from Verity Panglais asking why professional public librarians go on paying their subscriptions to their professional body.
I suggest that they stop paying altogether. I also think that those librarians in Hampshire who are proposing to go on strike would be better off making their protest to SYRUP . They are, unfortunately unlikely to change the process in place in Hampshire County Council (indeed they may actually encourage other councils to do the same) -- but a meangingful and painful protest to SYRUP by thousands of professional public librarians might actually be the jolt that is needed to make a difference to public libraries throughout the country.
You are welcome to debate that on here.
January 11, 2007
Top librarian: PwC plan is 'horrifying'
11 January 2007
From tomorrow's Bookseller, I quote:
"A head librarian who was awarded an MBE for reviving Haringey's libraries has branded recommendations for an overhaul of the library supply system "horrifying".
Diana Edmonds, head of libraries at Haringey council, hit out at last year's PricewaterhouseCoopers report, saying that its recommendations would cost efficient councils more than they already pay. "I disagree profoundly with it. I've got excellent arrangements with suppliers and I see no commercial or practical advantage in the PwC proposal. In fact, I'm horrified by it," she said. Haringey is not part of any buying consortium.
The report, commissioned by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and backed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, proposed the establishment of a central contracting agency by 2008, supported by up to 10 regional servicing "hubs". According to PwC, the scheme would cost between £4.5m and £7m to establish, but would help net bigger discounts from publishers and save up to £22m a year if all 149 library authorities in England came on board.
But Edmonds' comments are the latest in a line of setbacks for the proposals. In September last year, the Central Buying Consortium, which represents a quarter of English library authorities, said it would not be joining the scheme. "There are additional costs associated with the regional hubs . . . that may well make the model more expensive than our current arrangements," it wrote to the MLA. "We have no other business option than to proceed in this way [because] members cannot afford to lose the benefits that they currently enjoy."
Edmonds was awarded an MBE in this year's New Year's Honours List for services to local government, after she oversaw the turnaround of Haringey's library service in just five years. Lending rose 26% over the period.
What do people want from their public library service?
The Government are about to produce yet another version of their library policy in the shape of new and different "standards" for library authorites
I have followed the process of the development of these with as much attention as one can from outside the room in the corridor. So far, there has been no comprehensive or professional attempt, that I can discern, to ask the public what they think.
There have been a number of consultations- but all with people who have an employment interest in the service or even among some rather limited questionnaires among library users-- but no comprehensive attempt to find out what people want..
An anthropologist (or even a market research company) posed this question would concentrate a lot of effort finding out the views of people who once did use the service but no longer do. It is among this group that the problems come out most clearly. I have seen none of that.
The last standards, useful in some ways, because they did at least give managers something to work towards, were incomprehensible to most people, and mostly they were neither achieved nor was much progress over the several years they were in place.
I hope this is a useful exercise, but when I hear of union members being paid to attend consultation meetings to decide what the standards are, I do begin to wonder. The people responsible for doing this work are the MLA and (ho, ho) Price waterhouse Cooper-- who obviously did manage to get the next contract!!
John Delane, in 1854, called the officials of Government "delicious young men" -- they haven't changed, have they?
January 10, 2007
This blog is receiving over 200 hits each hour at the moment. I'm not sure why but it could be because the entries about Price waterhouse Cooper's work on public libraries are relevant and concern many people.
If you would like to advertise please contact Rachel@Berkshirepublishing.com.
Alternatively if you are enjoying the debate or find it helpful you could make a straightfotward donation to the operation of the campaign to save the public library service. Press the Donations button on the right hand side. Amounts in any currency, large or small will be gratefully received and extremely useful.
Consultants for the Government
The entries below show that there is much to be questioned of the work of the consultants employed by the Government to make improvements to the cost structure of the public library service.
In the case of one of the parties involved, in discussion with them I asked (as one should) "What is the overall purpose of this stage of the work?"
The answer was "to make sure we get employed to do the next stage". When I expressed surprise they told me to stop being naive.
Susan Hill has blogged this morning about the same subject
January 9, 2007
The fifth mistake of Price waterhouse Cooper
Publishing companies a long time ago learned it was best to have industry standards for identification (ISBN's and Barcodes) and many other aspects of communication between participants. This co-operative working takes a lot of organisation and individuals have to learn to lose a little sovereignty and conform, for the benefit of all. They also set up a body (BIC- Book Industry Communications) to help individual companies make sure that what they do is compatible with everyone else. All this doesn;t diminish the service given to the public, in fact it improves it a great deal.
In the UK there are 204 public library authorities and no two of them operate in the same way. Each of them has a different means of cataloguing, labelling and marking the same book. There are no two labelling and cataloguing specifications which are the same.
It wouldn't take Perkins the library cat 5 minutes to work out that this variety is a huge waste of money, but a visit to any of the library book suppliers leaves one gasping with amazement at the ridiculous nonsense which they have to undergo in order to satsify single book orders from individual councils. If they weren't all based in The North, more people (like Treasury officials ) would have seen them a long time ago and put a stop to such astonishing waste of the public penny.
All consultants say this ought to stop, but no one has worked out that in order for it to stop you have to explain to each council what they do that is different and why it is worth everybody conforming to a standard. It would take a twenty minute film of a day in the life of a library supplier and it would be very amusing to watch. Then a standards body (BIC would do the job excellently) could help each council change its methods. It would take a year and offer potential savings in excess of £100m (Yes- one hundred million pounds per annum), which is money we need for books, opening hours and clean desks and lightbulbs.
But Price Waterhouse Cooper's fifth mistake was not to spot this. In fact when I listened to them, and reading their report, I got the impression they hadn't understood the difference between supplying elastoplast to hospitals and supplying books to libraries. One of the key aspects of this is that there are really only two places you can buy a book title: either from the publisher who won't stick labels on it, or a library supplier who will.. Whereas elastoplast or equivalent products can be bought from many places for which an internet market (such as that proposed by PwC for books called e-Zanzibar) would actually be jolly useful.
That's five big mistakes and so far no one from either Price Waterhouse Cooper or the MLA has popped up to tell me I have got any of them wrong. They are reading this and staying silent-- but an awful lot of people in local councils know that I am right, even if they daren't say so for fear of upsetting someone.
There was a steering committee of librarians (mostly from the Society of Chief Librarians) who were supposed to help the MLA guide Price Waterhouse Cooper through the production of this research. Shall I put up their names? Steered on to the rocks is what happened-- even though people like me were warning that was happening throughout the whole process.
Americans are ironic
In the matter of public libraries I learned a long time ago that our government offficials cannot tell when one is being ironic, so I have stopped that approach.
However the Americans in America haven't got that far with their lessons as this blog by Jon Swift clearly demonatrates. This is dangerous stuff.
January 7, 2007
Library books in American public libraries
The article that I picked up last week about American libraries and the books they are thinking about throwing away has caused a wave of press comment in America
It's good to see that exposure of non sense brings forth common sense.
The 3rd and 4th big mistakes in the Price Waterhouse Review of public library supply chains
I am putting these entries up with the intention that someone will contradict me- make counter arguments. The observations are a result of my own analyses of the data in a number of councils which I have studied. They are essentially the same points I made in the report "Who's in Charge?" and then in my report on the supply chain to London Borough of Richmond to a variety of other councils and then to the Select Committee in 2004. They are the recommendations that provoked the then minister (Lord McIntosh) to call for a review of supply and efficiency. I am saying that that work has not been done properly (yet)
The third mistake of PwC is a failure to show clearly where in the supply chain both responsibility and accountability for results lie. If one were to open (as is recommended) a regional supply centre funded by a number of councils, where then does the responsibility for the efficient operation of that centre lie? And who is responsible for the performance of the councils in its area? With whom are supply contracts negotiated? Who is responsible for the relationship with publishers? Who sets targets for costs and discounts and who manages their achievement? The report provides no answers.
And the fourth mistake is a failure to have analysed and understood where the costs are incurred and how more efficient operation could change them. Most of the £10m-£20m dividend which the report claims will be achieved in 2009 has, in my view, already been taken by the recent competitive activity between traditional library suppliers and Bertrams. That hard fought and controversial price war has given councils the opportunity to take £20m worth of extra books for the same amount of money - and many of them have. There will be no further gain from this route when it has been fully explored over the next 2 years. But it is peanuts compared to the full cost of the service and the opportunities for saving that lie within it. (as has so often been said - and ignored)
PwC did advise MLA and the steering committee that the real saving lies in the findings of the previous report by accountants PKF, but they should have emphasised much more strongly, in my view, that the onus for achieving those savings lies with individual councils and most of them don't appear to know how to do it. It's a much more difficult process than attending one regional seminar, jeering at the presenters behind your sleeve and then going back to your council and writing a council report saying it doesn't apply to you (as I have seen in a number of councils-- "We already do all these things" the reports say- with no explanation to a councillor of whether that is true or not). PwC should, in my view, have laid much better training and communication plans to bring the PKF report to fruit. We are now nearly 4 years down the line since a Minister acknowledged the problem and nothing really has been done about it- as the figures next week for individual councils will show.
I keep saying that the problems of the public library service are very very serious and no one listens. There is a time when the house is crumbling so much it is no longer worth trying to save it. It is the moment to move away.
Where are the officials of the DCMS, the Ministry responsible? Why do they believe they have a right to silence? Who is holding them to account? It is the role of the DCMS to make sure that the MLA, who commission these consultant reviews, do the job properly and ensure that the work is done on behalf of the Minister, Parliament and the public. It is not the role of the DCMS just to defend the MLA (because they appointed them) and sit silent.
January 6, 2007
2nd mistake in the Price Waterhouse Analysis
In an entry below I explained that I believe that Price waterhouse Cooper, in their recent study of the public library supply chain, should have examined and analysed the tendering and contracting process and what it contains. Had they done so their conclusions and recommendations would probably have been different. That was their first mistake
The second mistake also, in my view, came from a presumption rather than analysis. They said that around 90% of the stock bought for libraries is common to all. By this they meant the stock bought by library authorities (local councils) The stock needed for individual libraries shows far greater variation than this. There can be as litltle as 50% common between two small community libraries. If they had examined the need library by library it should have driven them by sheer force of arithmetic, in my view, to a policy of moving the control over individual titles in libraries closer to each library. In fact they have recommended that there should be a national or regional buying agency which therefore will be further removed from the local library than the buying office currently in their local council. They appear to have confused the process of stock selection with that of negotiating terms; both of these are often called "procurement" but they are,. of course, completely different things
All these are reasons why an individual council should not, in my view, sign up to the Price waterhouse Cooper plan. And there are plenty more.
Why is this important? Because we know that the three most important aspects of the library are its stock, its building and its opening hours. If someone is to be responsible for improving the quality of the service to the local people they must be able to influence these three things, and over all three they need to have day to day tight control . There can be no more excuses along the lines "they didn't order this title for us"
Listen to a book - then we can close the libraries
Books on tape - and now on download- are a wonderful extra dimension to publishing, but the Welsh are coming round to the idea that they are an excuse for closing their libraries. This is an article from a Welsh newspaper. . It says there are 434 books available to listen to.
"Libraries must re-invent themselves" says the man..
"Why? " I ask, as Susan Hill has taught me to do.
Books recorded for people to listen to are a wonderful thing- but not an excuse to reduce book collections and certainly not for closing public library buildings. Even in Llareggub.
January 4, 2007
Supply contracts in public library services
This is an entry about a technical issue of great importance
I believe that the supply contracts currently operated by library authorities are fundamentally wrong. They ask suppliers for the wrong things and they don't create the opportunity for competing suppliers to improve efficiency in the service.
In a number of councils over the next few months I intend to show how this could be changed for the better. So if any councils or suppliers want to make contact with me to join in this programme I should be delighted to work with them, too.
This is in most ways an alternative to the "Price Waterhouse Programme" which I, and many others now, believe is the wrong approach arrived at for the wrong reasons.
January 2, 2007
Now I see some American librarians have caught the same lousy disease that has been infecting the English ones. This article in the Washington Post explains how they are clearing their libraries of the books that make up their literature.
"We're doing what book stores do and making the best use of our space" they scream..
Oh sure- so show me a branch of Borders in the whole world than no longer stocks "For whom the bell tolls" or "The Mayor of Casterbridge"- every single day of the year
No dears-- it's not because you're being clever; it's because you're being dumb. Even if you are American.
Appeal to writers, journalists, broadcasters and editors
The press has played a tremendously important part in this project to renew the public library service. Far too much was being done in the name of government without the proper scrutiny of the public. Few people realised that the reduction of numbers and quality of books in libraries was a deliberate and long term action on the part of those responsible-- nor did people realise the huge amounts of money that are taken up in its operation.
The next six months will bring a new government in the UK and probably a new Minister responsible for the public libraries. It is at the moment of his or her appointment that the greatest opportunity arises to initiate a programme of renovation.
Therefore I beg that any writer or journalist who is given the opportunity to do so should write about the need to take action. We need to raise the library service up the agenda of those items which need government action and policy. I put a blog entry the other day to summarise my view and there is much detail elsewhere on the site. In the next 2 weeks we should see a whole new set of figures about our public libraries. But of course, if I can be of any help then please do contact me. Tim
January 1, 2007
Diana Edmonds MBE
We had 62,249 hits on the blog in December and I am fairly certain that exceeds the number of visits to any library authority website in the same month.
It is arresting to realise that so many people who read the blog are from different countries and different corners. Quite often what appears must seem very strange to them and I am conscious that I should explain more than I do.
If you search "Diana Edmonds" in the box in the right hand tramline you will find that on several occasions I have drawn attention to the spectacular performance figures of the library service in Haringey which is a Borough of North London. Like all the central London boroughs it contains a wide mix of people from wealthy and well educated to others and people who like soccer a lot.
Where almost everywhere else in England (but not absolutely everywhere) people will tell you that there is no longer a need or an appetite for public libraries- in Haringey they thrive. Why? because Diana and her estimable colleagues have made them better and better and better - in fine detail. They work on improvements from tiny bits of childrens' furniture to major technical changes; from books to develop reading skills in the incredible array of languages in the area- to support from and by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Yet Diana is not part of the small circle of Chief Librarians who sit on all the committees and quangoes, on Government bodies and professional reviews. On these she is rarely to be seen. I am proud that she rings me up from time to time (to make sure I have noticed something she has done) and honoured that she asked to me spend a day visiting her libraries.
So - to foreigners who could never believe nor understand that still to this day the British Queen and Parliament hand out awards called "Membership of the British Empire" it will be curious to hear my loud applause that this year that award has been given to Diana for her efforts. I salute her and am pleased to be able to draw international attention to her work.