October 1, 2007
Perkins has been the library cat at Bloggington on Sea Carnegie Library on the dockside of Bloggington harbour for many years. When Perkins was small, the librarian, Mrss Sideloader, made a space for her to sleep by removing volumes 12-14 of Elgar Atkins’s Naval Manoeuvres in Bloggington Bay During the Reign of Queen Anne, which were shelved directly above the old steam radiator. Today, Perkins occupies the space of four more volumes - a tribute to Mrs. Sideloader’s generosity and to the many hours Perkins spends at Mrs. Hill's whelk stall on the sea front.
Perkins has been awarded many letters: OBE, MBE, KGB, and MGB. This summer she became a "Cat of the British Empire" (CBE). She is a life member of SYRUP, a mysterious organisation whose activities only she understands. She also has relatives in many countries including Wales.
We are honoured that she has agreed to host this public library blog. In gracious recognition of this work, we have awarded her honorary American citizenship.
December 19, 2006
Advertise on the Good Library Blog!
This blog doesn’t have a handsome stream of public funding, so if you appreciate what Tim Coates and his colleagues are doing here and also want to reach the thousands of book and library lovers who visit every month (recent monthly figures are 50,000 unique visits, and every month there are more), we’ll be happy to take your skyscraper, banner, or box advertisement.
As Tim says, “We’re looking for ads from major petrol companies, British Aerospace, arms dealers of all kinds, reputable large consultancy firms, or disreputable ones trying to make amends, political parties and even publishers. Also personal ads welcome. And donations, too: press the button in the right-hand tramline.”
Advertising prices vary (petrol companies, arms dealers, and mega-publishers pay more) so please write and tell us what you want to advertise and anything else we should know before beginning our negotiations. We’ll want more money for top placement, of course, and we are also open to barter arrangements, if you can think of something Tim (or Berkshire Publishing) might be interested in.
For more information, contact Karen [at] Berkshirepublishing [dot] com.
And here are some basic specifications, so you can get your ad agency, graphic design department, or teenage intern preparing a stunning advertisement. Files should be .jpg or .gif. Skyscraper ads should be 350 pixels high and 150 pixels wide. Banner ads should be 100 pixels high and 500 pixels wide. Box ads should be 150 pixels high and 150 pixels wide.
June 27, 2006
Welcome to Bloggington on Sea
This blog is not just a campaign site for people who want to save and care about their local public libraries. It is also a set of ideas about how good libraries could and should be run for the benefit of their local communities.
Bloggington is a code name for a real town and many of the characters who appear in the various items are either real people or they represent points of view or positions that exist.
The library service in Bloggington is ideal, to my mind, and the lessons that Mr Grimsdyke teaches are the ones that are needed to be understood by those who operate libraries.
The Government departments and agencies that are lampooned are also real and I have tried to describe what they actually do rather than what they say they do. It is a privilege to be able to deride them because I do not depend on them. Many people are unable to do the same because they are employed or depend for contracts upon these people.
The blog is only part of a long and carefully planned attempt to overhaul the public library service and make it better. The strategy is to remove the influence of all these people and replace them with others who care for the genuine use of libraries rather than something that has been invented at a conference of librarians. We need to find those who are capable of giving the leadership to the service that it needs.
It is, I hope, a revolutionary site, conducted with words and analysis. I have several heroes: John Delane, the editor of The Times who brought the resignation of the cabinet of the British Government in 1855 by force of words and power of argument; Florence Nightingale, Sidney Godolphin Osborne, John Roebuck, William Howard, Thomas Chenery and Andrew Layard were among his accomplices. That was a forgotten revolution of which the British should be proud. Delane's astonishing and outrageous Leading Articles are the inspiration for this blog.
When my friends and I started this work some years ago we were told "there are no votes in libraries"- and that is no longer true; at the recent council elections in every council where campaigns have operated to save libraries, councillors lost their seats because of the public libraries. The other day someone said to me, ironically: "the Government will not fall because of public libraries". Don't you believe it.
April 15, 2006
A beautiful library
Look at the photo on the book jacket to the left. It is the interior of the public library in Great Barrington in Massachusetts, America. I like it; I would happily go there and look things up, or read for an hour or an afternoon. That's what this blog is about. For many years I have campaigned in England for improvements to our public library service. I hope talking and writing about libraries will help them get better.
I am grateful to Karen Christensen and her daughter Rachel who have created this site so the discussion about libraries becomes open to everyone. Karen is the publisher of "The Good Library Guide" of which this photo is the front cover. She also has a very literary pedigree which we will discover as this blog progresses.
I thought I should start the blog with a challenge. There is a library just next to Victoria Station in London which must have been built about the same time as the one in Great Barrington. They both have the same fine windows and high ceiling. The Victoria Library is in Buckingham Palace Road which is in the City of Westminster. It is a most beautiful building; but sadly nowadays it doesn't look at all like the library in our photo. I won't describe it, that might be hurtful; but it is interesting to know that in its depths it carries a famous and wonderful music library and the private collection of the English Composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. The task is to help the Councillors of Westminster bring about the transformation that their building needs; to make it as evocative and attractive as the library in Great Barrington. Let's open the discussion to the wherefores and the whynots and the whatdoyoudo's and the can'tpossiblies; and remove all the obstacles. My challenge is to all the people who live, work and study in Westminster and their council to make this library into one of the best in the world- and a good candidate for Karen's book.
April 13, 2006
About Tim COATES
Tim Coates is a former bookseller who has become a well-known advocate for improvements in public-library service. He was the first U.K. bookseller to open an all-night bookstore with a cafe, sofas, and the comfortable style we now associate with bookstores around the world. In his current work, he strives to bring the same customer orientation to libraries.
In the 1980s most bookstores, except for those in the major university towns, were dingy; stocks were poor, and it was quite frightening to ask for a book if you weren't sure what you wanted. Across many countries, there was a movement to improve, to open the windows and turn on the lights. Tim Coates was at the forefront of that movement. In England he was managing director first of Sherratt & Hughes and then of Waterstone's bookshops and of the English book chain WHSmith in Europe.
Active on a wide stage, Tim worked closely with the Czech writers who brought about the downfall of the Communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia; back in the United Kingdom, he also earned notoriety for being among those who brought about the end, in 1997, of the British Net Book Agreement, a price-fixing agreement between publishers and booksellers that had determined the prices people paid for books since 1900.
Since 1999 Tim has pursued library improvement at the local and countrywide level by urging improved book ranges, longer hours, and more welcoming buildings. He is the author of "Who's in Charge? Responsibility for the Public Library Service," a report which is used now in many countries to assess public-library services, and he is working on a training guide for library managers as well as an updated edition of his “Who’s in Charge” report. He is a consultant who provides guidance to local councils and to departments of government.
Tim is also a writer, published by Bloomsbury, and he publishes his own series of historic papers. His elder son, Sam, is political correspondent for the Times in London, and his younger son, Olly, is a cellist with an international solo career. Tim and his wife, Bridget Cave, live in London.