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					STV BULLETIN 76, 1 November 2010
Compiled by David Owen
Comprehensive spending review
The long awaited Comprehensive Spending Review was finally
delivered on 20 October 2010 and has been extensively covered in
the media. This is a brief account of how it appears to impact on
library services and disabled people at this early stage.
For public libraries the immediate future is very bleak. The settlement
for local authorities is a 28% reduction in revenue grant for the four
years from 2011-12 to 2014-15 and a 45% reduction in capital
funding. To add to the problems this causes, the Local Government
Association points out that these reductions are “front loaded” which
means that they will really begin to bite from April 2011. Not
surprisingly, the LGA points out that this will mean that frontline
services will be affected and that local authorities will have to make
difficult choices. To see the LGA’s press release; their briefing
document and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local
Government’s letter to local authority leaders go to:
http://www.lga.gov.uk/lga/core/page.do?pageId=14454811

All of the above only applies in England, of course, as library services
are a devolved responsibility in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales
and it will be up to the devolved governments to determine how they
allocate their reduced settlements. It is difficult to contemplate that
public libraries will not be affected to a considerable extent.

For academic libraries the prospects are as bleak if not even bleaker.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced that
following the recommendations of the Browne Report on funding
higher education, its funding would be reduced from £7.1 billion to
£4.2 billion by 2014-15, a reduction of 40%. As funding for science,
technology, engineering and mathematics is to be protected the
prospects for the arts, humanities and social sciences are very bleak.
The funding for further education is to be reduced from £4.3 billion to
£3.2 billion over the same period, a reduction of 25%. Presumably
the effects on library services will vary depending on how each
institution decides to allocate its greatly reduced budget but hopefully
the cuts to libraries will reflect that they are an essential core central
service which fee paying students value and researchers need.
See: http://www.bis.gov.uk/news/topstories/2010/Oct/BIS-CSR

Colleagues in academic libraries might be interested to read an
opinion piece about the effects of the Browne Report and CSR on
universities by Nicola Hart, Head of Universities Group at Pinsent
Masons, the publishers of OUT-LAW News. She believes that the
legal autonomy of universities provides them with opportunities to
adapt.
See: http://www.out-law.com/page-11494

For the British Library, there is better news. On 21 October 2010 the
DCMS published the CSR Settlement letters it has sent to all its
funded bodies and, in line with the national museums and galleries;
the Library’s reduction is 15%. However, its capital budget will be
reduced by 50% but the National Newspaper Collection project will
proceed.

The settlement for the Public Lending Right over the next four years
is also a reduction of 15% and the extension of PLR to audio books
and e-books as provided for in the Digital Economy Act will not go
ahead at this time. As the PLR body is to be abolished I was a bit
surprised that Jeremy Hunt’s letter to the Registrar, Jim Parker,
states “My Ministerial team and I look forward to working with you
over the next four years.”

The letter to the MLA confirms the decision to abolish it in order to
preserve front line services and only sets out a one year funding
settlement. According to the MLA this means that the Renaissance
Programme for regional museums will be preserved but cut by 15%.
The MLA’s budget in later years will change via negotiations with the
body or bodies which will take over its core functions by March 2012.

At this stage we can only conjecture which body or bodies will be
assigned responsibility for the MLA’s and PLR’s functions. If it is the
Arts Council, it is worth noting that its settlement to 2014-15 was a
reduction of 29.6% but only 15% should be assigned to its regularly
funded arts organisations. Therefore, the gearing factor on
reductions to its other expenditure programmes and projects will be
considerable and could eventually impact on MLA and PLR funding
programmes if they are transferred to the Arts Council and not ring
fenced by DCMS.

All of the DCMS settlement letters are available at:
http://www.culture.gov.uk/publications/7507.aspx

Perhaps the most worrying and disappointing aspect of the CSR is
the effect on disabled people. For a succinct summary of what the
settlement means for blind and partially sighted people I would
recommend reading the RNIB’s press release and briefing document.
It sets out the full range of announcements which will or might come
to have an impact on the lives of these people, including the changes
to the Employment and Support Allowance; the mobility element of
the Disability Living Allowance for people in residential care and the
potential effects of the substantial reduction in local authority budgets.
See:
http://www.rnib.org.uk/aboutus/news/Pages/spending_review.aspx

CIPFA Public Library Statistics
All of the above text refers to what might happen in the future. As far
as what happened to public libraries in the last year, CIPFA published
their public library statistics for 2009-2010 on 29 October. The CIPFA
press release provides minimal detail for non-subscribers so the
following detail is taken from the Bookseller’s analysis which reports
that:

    Visits declined by 1.1% to 321.5 million
    Book stock reduced by 0.6% to 99.2 million
    Book issues dropped by 0.5% to 309.4 million of which;
    Adult fiction dropped 1% to 142.8 million
    Adult non-fiction dropped 1.7% to 70 million
    However, children’s fiction increased by 1.5% to 81.3 million
     and children’s non-fiction increased by 0.2% to 15.3 million
    Visits to library websites increased from 113.5 million to 120.2
     million in the year and have increased by 90% over the past 4
     years
    Library staff reduced by 1000, 3.4%, to 24,756 whereas
     volunteers increased by 7.7% to 17,111 people

The increase in loans to children builds on increases in previous
years and is the most encouraging news. Unfortunately, the
Bookseller does not provide details of audio loans or e-loans.
See: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/132783-cipfa-stats-show-
visits-down-loans-down-and-staff-reduced.html

Shadow Ministers
Ed Miliband has made the following appointments to Shadow
Ministerial posts:

Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport: Ivan Lewis
Shadow Minister for Culture: Gloria de Piero
Shadow Equalities Minister: Fiona MacTaggart
Shadow Minister for Disabled People: Margaret Curran

E-books
On 19 October 2010 RNIB posted a fact sheet on providing e-books
in public libraries on the Reading Sight website. Basically, it is a
short statement which points out the potential of e-books to improve
access to content for print disabled people but only if libraries comply
with their statutory duty to ensure that their e-lending services are
designed to meet the needs of disabled people by making necessary
adjustments.
See:
http://www.readingsight.org.uk/about_us/news/accessible_ebook_ser
vices_in_public_libraries/

RNIB could not have predicted that within two days the Publishers
Association would create a bombshell regarding the future of e-
lending services from public libraries. Speaking at the Public Library
Authorities Conference on 21 October 2010, Stephen Page, Chief
Executive of Faber, announced that the major publishers had agreed
to place restrictions on e-lending and a ban on remote downloading.
Apparently some libraries have exceeded the terms of the agreement
regarding downloadable services. The following day the Chief
Executive of the PA put out a statement outlining its position and
indicating that that it was prepared to negotiate with libraries and
suppliers. The Chief Executive of the main downloadable service,
OverDrive, also put out a statement which denied that public libraries
were breaking the terms of the agreement that they would only lend
one book to one user a time and that the user had to be a registered
borrower within their local authority area. Apparently there had been
one isolated incident of these terms being broken which had been
dealt with within 24 hours.

Clearly, the whole future of e-lending is now in doubt and its potential
to provide new access for print disabled people. It was reassuring
that library colleagues pointed this out and that the Chief Executive of
the PA acknowledged this stating “Of course publishers take this
issue very seriously, but we are confident that a solution can be found
within the proposals set out: for example, it may be possible to
register certain readers for remote access, or current arrangements
for helping people obtain physical books could be replicated in the e-
reader world. The door to any further workable solutions is fully
open.”
See: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/132038-pa-sets-out-
restrictions-on-library-e-book-lending.html
http://www.thebookseller.com/news/132175-pa-moves-to-calm-
unease-over-e-book-lending.html

Obviously, OverDrive will be negotiating with the PA but I don’t know
who will be representing public libraries. There is no mention of this
issue on the websites of CILIP, MLA, SCL or DCMS but hopefully
somebody is taking a lead. However, it seems essential to me that
STV should attempt to represent the interests of disabled people in
these ongoing negotiations.

On a more cheering note, the MLA announced on 27 October 2010
that it had arranged for a further 10 online reference resources to be
licensed for public libraries to make them available to their registered
users either in the library or on home computers. For more details go
to:
http://www.mla.gov.uk/news_and_views/press_releases/2010/New_o
nline_resources
Also on 27 October 2010, John Dolan, formerly the MLA’s Chief
Libraries Advisor contributed a thoughtful blog on the furore caused
by the PA’s pre-emptive stance on e-lending services. His argument
is that e-reference services are a success and publishers need to
rethink their own future regarding literature because there is a market
for e-book borrowing from disabled people, housebound people, rural
communities etc. that won’t destroy the industry. He also states that
the library community should speak with one voice and that CILIP
should lead on this and that the SCL should lead for public libraries.
See: http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/132691-a-free-e-for-all.html

On 31 October 2010 the Bookseller reported that the Booksellers
Association had come out in support of the PA’s stance on e-lending
on the grounds that “if bookshops are substantially undermined by e-
book lending without controls, then they may well go out of business,
which will not be in the interests of the libraries and the communities
they serve.” Personally, I would have thought that e-publishing per
se was the biggest threat to booksellers but I was pleased to note
that the new Chief Executive of CILIP, Annie Mauger, had spoken out
stating that “This is a restrictive move for library users in the digital
age…the best way to solve this is to keep talking.”
See: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/132751-ba-backs-pa-over-
e-lending-cilip-calls-it-restrictive.html

Copyright breakthrough?

The World Intellectual Property Organisation issued a press release
on 23 October 2010 headed “Stakeholders’ Platform launches project
to facilitate access by VIPs to published works.” According to WIPO
the members of their Stakeholders’ Platform comprising
representatives of international copyright owners associations and
representative organisations of visually impaired people had agreed a
new project at their meeting in New Delhi attended by the WIPO
Director General. We are promised that TIGAR, the Trusted
Intermediary Global Accessible Resources project will make content
accessible to print disabled people in both developing and developed
countries and that that they will be able to search for accessible
content across distributed networks. The project should become
operational by mid 2011.

It is not clear how this project is to be funded, especially in developing
countries, and I still believe that WIPO should approve the long
campaigned for treaty which would guarantee such rights for all. It
will be interesting to see how the Standing Committee on Copyright
and Related Rights reacts at its next meeting on November 8 to 12, if
at all.
See:
http://www.wipo.int/pressroom/en/articles/2010/article_0043.html

Producing accessible information
In order to assist educational institutions to comply with the
requirement of the Equality Act to provide information which is
accessible to disabled people, the JISC Regional Support Centre for
Scotland North and East has produced a new tool, “Create and
Convert”, which is freely available to all-comers. It brings together a
range of open source programs in one package to enable institutions
to translate electronic documents into alternative formats; audio,
Braille and large print for print disabled people. All of these programs
are outputs from the DAISY Consortium packaged to provide an
easily accessible source of accessibility tools.
See: http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.ac.uk/eduapps/createconvert.php

Craig Mill who developed this tool has provided an article on how it
came about for the October issue of the DAISY Planet Newsletter.
“Create and Convert: just use it, give it, share it-all for free” is an
interesting account of how free assistive technology applications can
make a real impact on enhancing accessibility.
See: http://www.daisy.org/planet-2010-10

E-accessibility
On 20 October 2010 the EC Information Society Directorate’s website
announced the launch of a new EU funded thematic network for
coordinating the implementation of e-accessibility across Europe.
eAccess+ will concentrate on three main topics; web accessibility,
accessible communications and digital audio visual systems and self
service terminals. For more details go to:
http://www.accessplus.eu/node/1

Digital Scotland
On 26 October 2010 The Royal Society of Edinburgh published the
report into their enquiry, “Digital Scotland” [64 pages]. Paragraphs
169-173, pages 31 to 33, deal with digital divisions in Scottish
society; the needs of disabled people and the role of libraries. One of
the key recommendations is to “Provide social hubs, where internet
access and support is available to all, in libraries and other
community centres.”
See:
http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/enquiries/Digital_Scotland/index.htm

David Owen
1 November 2010

Share the Vision is a partnership of UK libraries and library
organisations that work together to improve the accessibility of library
services for blind and partially sighted people. More information
available from the Co-ordinator, Helen Brazier, RNIB,
helen.brazier@rnib.org.uk or 0161 355 2004.

Contributions for the bulletin can be sent to David Owen at
davjaniso@btinternet.com

				
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