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.

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

Closed access to contactless

Amidst the more modern themes, my last blog seems to have created a fair bit of interest in Alfred Cotgreave; indeed he probably shot up the Google search list for the first time since his death in 1911. But to answer last month’s question about the last UK library to abandon ‘closed access’: in Kilkenny, … Read more

COVID, clicks and Cotgreave

´Click and collect´ seems to be the Coronavirus catchphrase of the moment in libraries, though Argos claim to have introduced the concept in the year 2000. But have you spotted a certain similarity between ‘click and collect’ and the ‘closed access’ model that all UK public library services once operated? Yes ok, Victorian and Edwardian … Read more