Blog: Take Five With Geoff

A five-minute read roaming freely around the world of libraries, present and past, with Geoff Allen, Activist associate consultant.

Libraries, levelling up and laundry baskets

All the talk at the moment seems to be about ‘Levelling up’, though I’m unconvinced anyone knows exactly what the term means. Not that this has stopped the UK government renaming the DCHLG as the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, in so doing causing ‘local government’ to drop off the end, much to … Read more

After Covid: what next for the library and the High Street?

As we head into autumn it’s encouraging to see that not only are the UK’s shopping areas open but that also the majority of public libraries have reopened and are offering some level of ‘normal’ service.  But the Covid-19 pandemic, which over the past year and a half has changed so much that we previously … Read more

Banana on pink background

OK, now I’ve got your attention I confess that this blog has nothing whatever to do with bananas … nor pink backgrounds! The last couple of blogs have been quite heavy, discussing whether and why libraries should reopen and focusing on the various ways they can impact on social issues, so for July and August … Read more

Why would I want to reopen the libraries?

As the UK emerged from the first Covid-19 lockdown last autumn, one English council chief executive was asked if he had reopened the libraries yet and replied, “Why would I want to reopen the libraries?” And without doubt the same question has been at least pondered, if not asked openly, in most local authorities up … Read more

This is the sign you’ve been looking for . . .

Right now leaders everywhere, not least in local government, are looking for solutions to a range of problems, many of which existed before the Covid-19 pandemic but that now have been brought into stark relief.  Social issues around health – both physical and mental – unemployment, education and training, homelessness, poverty, are not new but … Read more

It’s Tuesday, so the library must be in . . .

Those who know me or who’ve read my December 2020 blog may be a little surprised to see me focusing on library buildings, but bear with me: despite the startling growth and success of digital and online library use, I’m the last to suggest that library services don’t also need a physical presence and some … Read more

Humanoid? … or just human old?

They say age is just a number and objectively that must be true, but it’s also true that perceptions of, and attitudes to, age certainly do make a difference. It now seems to be the norm to talk about Zoomers, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers … the list goes on: apparently those born in the … Read more
Man in clown mask at computer

Discover the truth …

… at your local library In 2020, notwithstanding the ongoing digital divide, 96% of households in the UK had some level of access to the internet, but this brings with it a danger that has never been more stark than during the frenetic events of the past year. The problem is that anyone and everyone … Read more
photo of Carcassonne castle

Once upon a time …

… there was a world before Covid-19 … a world even before austerity … a world before performance management. So before focusing on the year ahead I thought I’d start “À la recherche de temps perdu”. No, I won’t be quoting from Proust’s novels in French, although I still recall a time when they were … Read more
road junction

Library services: so, what happens next?

The Christmas holiday is nearly here but without doubt a very different Christmas wherever we may be, bringing with it a range of complicated restrictions that are hard to keep up with. This scene from a Spanish town hall square sums this up with everyone except the giant figures required to wear a face mask, … Read more