In Sandwell, although no libraries have closed in the last few years, several have reduced opening hours (at Langley we recently lost Tuesday afternoons). But one bright spot is that we still have a fantastic selection of new books being purchased for the libraries.
Last week I opened two boxes containing 56 new children’s books. Some were newly published but there were also a complete set of the 2013 editions of Roald Dahl books, plus new editions of Jeff Kinney, David Walliams and other favourites, so I took the old, well-read books off the shelves and replaced them with beautiful, clean copies (one of my favourite parts of the job). A couple of days later a woman came into the library and said her daughter really needed a copy of The Witches by Roald Dahl (children often really need certain books) and when she saw the new editions, she was delighted.
It’s really important that we keep our book stock updated – children (and adults) want good quality copies of all the books they wish to read, not just the recently published ones. If all they can find in libraries are grubby, tatty books, they’ll stop coming. Obviously it’s important to have a wide range of books on the shelves but when money’s tight we have to prioritise the books we know are popular in each particular library and I think that’s something we’re getting better at.
Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library is the UK’s most popular library for the seventh year running, with more visits than any other library. Jennifer Holland, Head of Libraries and Information in Norfolk, said
Part of it is that we keep very well maintained book stocks, and listen to what people like to read, as well as embedding the library service at the heart of delivering council objectives on things like education and employment…We have staff who are passionate about delivering library services, and we work closely with customers to develop events and procure book stock — it has got to be relevant to the people who use the library.