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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 15 October 2007

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New Technology for Libraries?

WITH an ambitious programme underway to redevelop 24 libraries in and around Liverpool, Liverpool City Council has embraced 3M technology to help meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Driven by Ron Travis, (Liverpool City Council’s Customer Service Manager for Books and Reading) the extensive renovations of Liverpool’s libraries are part of the City Council’s effort to support the city’s highly regarded position as European Capital of Culture 2008. By installing new self-issue RFID solutions from diversified technology company 3M, managers at the first 2 branch libraries to be refurbished talk about how they have introduced a new way of working that allows staff to spend more time with customers, work on displays and events, and facilitate more training than ever before.

All change at Sefton Park Library, for the beautiful, Carnegie-built, Tudor-style library near Liverpool’s leafy Sefton Park, the latest refurbishment is one of many since it was built in 1911. After severe bomb damage was repaired in the early 1940s, the library was extended in the 1960s to incorporate a purpose-built children’s library and the main library was refurbished again internally 15 years ago. 6 months of closure between December 2005 and June 2006 has enabled a complete overhaul for the historical library, including re-wiring, re-plumbing, refurbishment of the original windows, a new ergonomically-designed layout of bookshelves and desk, a DDA compliant access ramp, a new kitchen and work room, new paintwork throughout and an expanded ICT suite. To complete the new customer offering, an R-Series RFID Self-Check station from 3M was positioned centrally in the main library.

Forward-thinking library manager Jean Christopher played an instrumental role in encouraging staff to make the new self-issue system work for all concerned. Jean said:- “During the last year RFID tagging and the 3M Self-Check system have dramatically improved both our working day and our customers’ library experiences. Before the system was installed, our main focus was issuing books and keeping the shelves organised and tidy. Now we don’t have a constant queue of people requiring us to issue their books, we can get out from behind the desk and help customers choose books, create exciting displays, locate and keep on top of the stock easily and undertake training courses. In fact, thanks to the benefits provided by 3M RFID technology, we have had the time to do much more training here than any other Liverpool branch (that doesn’t have self-issue).”

Explaining the hurdles she had to overcome in the beginning, Jean said:- “The hardest part of making the system work for us was enforcing a new regime. Our traditional routine had to change, and our new focus was to meet and greet people, help them to use the Self-Check machine if necessary, help people use the computers and promote our services. An average of 500 people a day use this library and from Day One, I was adamant that all books should be issued at the self-issue station. All staff were instructed that under no circumstances was anyone allowed to manually issue a book that could be issued via the machine and that they should encourage visitors to embrace the new system.”  Jean continued:- “The first three months were very busy, but we all remained optimistic. We’ve certainly reaped what we’ve sewn – although our days are still busy, they are value-added. The new technology has provided us with a much more relaxed environment in which to work, and has given us so much more time to enjoy the best aspects of being a librarian. What’s more, library users love using the machine – from its ease of use to the detailed borrowing lists it issues on every transaction. “

Onwards and upwards for Old Swan - Liverpool’s first branch library to install RFID
Having successfully implemented the 3M RFID Self-Check system at Sefton Park Library, next on Jean’s wish-list is the 3M Digital Library Assistant – in use for 18 months in conjunction with 3M Self-Check machine at Liverpool’s Old Swan Library, another Carnegie building. Here, according to Library Manager Pauline Scotland, the switch to self-issue was plain sailing right from the start. Like Jean, Pauline insisted that no books should be issued over the counter, and for approximately 3 months, one member of staff was dedicated to training people how to use the machine. “In real terms, out of the 79,000 books we issue each year, we process 80-90% through the 3M Self Check stations. Customer service has definitely improved since its installation. Our library users have welcomed the new system and our staff have much more fulfilling roles.”

The introduction of a hand-held 3M Digital Library Assistant (DLA) at Old Swan Library has additional benefits, as Pauline explained:- “The Digital Library Assistant instantly reads 3M RFID Tags inserted into library materials, enabling whole shelves of media to be identified by title, ID no. and/or author just by passing the device in front of the spines of the books on the shelves. This facilitates much quicker stock check, weeding, display creation and frequency-of-issue checks of our stock of around 20,000 books. Because it dramatically reduces time spent traditionally weeding, sorting and locating stock, it enables staff to spend even more time with customers or undertake other activities. It is a very useful addition to an RFID self-issue system.”

A bright future for European Capital of Culture 2008
Echoing Carnegie’s legacy of self-improvement and enlightenment by introducing new technology into traditional libraries, Liverpool City Council is definitely brightening the future of libraries for the European Capital of Culture 2008. Sharing new technology experiences on a regular basis, Pauline and Jean agreed, “Declining numbers of borrowers are a national problem. By moving with the times and welcoming technology that is designed to improve not only our working environment, but our customer offering is a way forward in demonstrating to library users the changing attitude and services of libraries. The systems offered by 3M have definitely helped us to re-focus our attention on creating inviting environments for people wanting to read, research, browse and borrow audio and printed media or use the internet. As far as moving libraries forward, Liverpool has got its act together! There is no way we would go back to the old system now!”

Phil Farrell, Account Manager for 3M Library Systems added:- “RFID technology is the fastest, easiest, most efficient way to identify, locate, and manage library materials. It delivers quantum leap gains in efficiency, productivity, staff comfort and, most notably customer service, and so is generating great enthusiasm in the library world. Ron Travis, Jean and Pauline are ambassadors of how best to make RFID technology work to suit the needs of the modern day library. We are delighted to have worked with them and through further installations, hope we can continue to enhance more of Liverpool’s libraries.”

3M – a leading supplier of technology solutions to libraries - offers a wide range of options to suit all libraries, including RFID systems, Self-Check systems, Tattle Tape Security Strips and applications, detection systems and circulation accessories.

For more information on how 3M can help transform your library, please visit website or email.


MUSEUM staff reconstructing the iconic church hall stage where John Lennon met Paul McCartney in 1957 want help from people who remember its original appearance. 

The stage from St Peter’s Church Hall, Woolton, Liverpool, will be a major attraction in the new Museum of Liverpool opening in 2010. It was acquired by National Museums Liverpool, with the help of Liverpool City Council, when the church hall was renovated.

Before the stage can be displayed, conservators need to return it to its original appearance on the day of the church’s annual garden fete, Saturday 6 July 1957, when the historic meeting took place. There is very little evidence about what it looked like when The Quarrymen skiffle group, the first incarnation of The Beatles, performed on the stage.

Paul McCartney was among spectators attending the event. A mutual friend introduced him to John Lennon and Paul demonstrated his singing and guitar skills. The Quarrymen were so impressed that they later invited Paul to join the group. As John later famously commented:- “That was the day, the day I met Paul, that it started moving.”

Paul Gallagher, the Museum of Liverpool’s curator of contemporary collecting, says:- “This stage is very significant in the history of popular music. If John hadn’t met Paul that day there could have been no Beatles or the international popularity of the Liverpool sound which spearheaded a musical and social revolution.  Some major structural and decorative changes were made throughout the life of the stage. We would like to know when these changes took place in relation to 6 July 1957. 

The stage has been extended at the front and re-painted several times. We are keen to hear from parishioners or club members who used the stage in the 1950s and 60s. It would be wonderful to hear from anyone who was there when The Quarrymen performed.  We are particularly keen to speak to anyone with documentary evidence of the stage during this period – old film or still photographs.”

Paul Gallagher can be contacted on 0151 478 4573 or by email.


A widely neglected group of smokers can now get more help to quit the habit. People with severe mental health problems are among the most likely groups to smoke and often get the least effective help to quit.

To mark World Mental Health Day, the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and QUIT, the charity that helps smokers to stop, have come together to offer smokers information and assistance that is relevant to their needs.  Funded by Cancer Research UK, a special leaflet and dedicated helpline will offer smokers with severe mental health problems advice that works for them. Produced by experts, including people with mental health problems themselves, the leaflet offers information and practical advice for those who want to quit smoking.  The leaflet is part of an 18-month pilot programme that includes training for mental health practitioners in smoking cessation advice and for QUIT telephone counsellors in mental health awareness.

Linda Seymour, Sainsbury Centre head of policy, explained:- “People with severe mental health problems can find giving up smoking a real challenge. They don’t always get the informed help and support they need. Mental health professionals and GPs are not always knowledgeable enough about how to help this group to stop smoking.  The excessive levels of smoking among people with mental health conditions exacerbate existing health inequalities for an already disadvantaged group. High rates of smoking-related illnesses such as heart disease contribute to people with schizophrenia losing on average 10 years of life.  Just under a quarter of mental health trusts are already smoke-free, but a total smoking ban will be implemented from July 2008. Unless people with severe mental health problems get the support they deserve to stop smoking, they will be further disadvantaged when the total bans come into effect.”

Terri Forward, QUIT’s Smoking and Mental Health Project Manager said:- “QUIT has taken action by responding to the urgent needs of smokers with mental health conditions by developing a ground breaking, pro-active, tailor made stop smoking service. The charity is sharing their expertise to enable mental health workers to provide sustainable support to this hard to reach group of smokers and tobacco users.”

Support for families in Liverpool

A SCHEME to change the behaviour of families at risk of losing their homes because of their anti-social behaviour is being launched in Liverpool.

As part of the RESPECT agenda, the city council has commissioned NCH, the children’s charity, to tackle the root cause of anti social behaviour by helping families work through their problems.  NCH has been chosen due to its strong track record in family intervention projects. Recent research found that their approach can turn anti-social behaviour around in eight out of 10 cases, with significant cost savings to the taxpayer[1].

Through a combination of challenging and support to tackle the root cause of anti-social behaviour, the project will help families work through their problems. A team of seven staff are being recruited and will go into the homes of families who are referred and it is judged will benefit.  The length of time a team member spends with the family will depend upon the severity of the issues and how long it takes to change the behaviour.

Around 30 families will be helped at any one time during the 4 year project.

Councillor Colin Eldridge, Executive Member for Community Safety, said:- “There are often very complex reasons why families are causing problems for their neighbours and if we can resolve them it benefits not only them but the whole community.  It is essential that we do all we can to get them to change their behaviour and start contributing to society instead of disrupting life for law abiding people.”

Carol Iddon, Deputy Director of Children’s Services for NCH North West, said:- “We are very pleased to be launching this project in partnership with Liverpool City Council.  We know from experience that most of the families we work with who have deep-rooted problems don’t want to be living the way they are but they don’t know how to turn things around. They need support that can help guide them, not punishment to make them feel worse.  Empowering families by building confidence and skills, as well as challenging bad behaviour, creates the positive change.”

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