Thursday, 25 September 2008

Public Libraries - what is the point?

At one level it is a debate about whether libraries should be "silent and serious" or "noisy and fun". At a deeper level it is a debate about what public libraries are there for.

The latest round in this debate began with a piece in the Times about Camden Libraries which met with a quick riposte, then a leader in the Times and now letters to the editor. Well at least people are bothered.

This debate is being reflected in the ongoing campaign in Doncaster .

Meanwhile Gordon Brown has announced a plan for vouchers so every school child will have access to a PC with broadband. Yes, but... Isn't it like saying that every household should have a fully equipped operating theatre so we can all get medical treatment without having to go to hospital? Would the money be better spent on improving access in school and public libraries where it can be integrated with a full information environment?

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Inter-library loans

Document delivery no longer forms a major part of the activities of SINTO but this long standing service is still a valuable service for many of our member libraries and their users. The ILL Scheme is managed by the SINTO ILL group. Every year Gilly Pearce of SINTO analyses the statistics of usage and produces a report.

In 2007-8 13 libraries received an average of 38.5 books each through the SINTO ILL scheme last year. These 501 books were supplied by 8 libraries. In addition, 601 photocopies were supplied from 3 libraries.

These figures represent a large decline from the 1950s when SINTO members would interchange around 2,500 items per year. The development of national and regional document delivery services and the decline in the number of small business and technical libraries was the reason for this. Over the past few years there has been a slight decline in the volume of ILL traffic between SINTO members as users increasingly access information electronically for themselves over the Internet. However the service is still valued by our members. As Gilly says in her report "Despite all the well known pressures on the Scheme, it would seem that there is still potential for it to be of benefit to the local area."

SINTO will continue to provide a local ILL Scheme for as long as our members find it of value.