I was sorry, but unsurprised, to see President Trump – a philistine politician if ever there was one – taking an axe to the US federal budget for libraries last week. US public libraries have, at least to my UK shell-shocked eyes, been experiencing something of a golden age, with usage up and exciting new initiatives being started, often copied a couple of years later by ourselves. There are hopeful signs that this can continue, as American libraries are more independent than their British counterparts (they can complain and lobby for extra funds for instance) and they also have a, gosh, lobbying group. Librarians there also appear to be more militant and vocal. We can hope that this will save them.


Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than this post alone.  Only authorities with 6 or more are included. :

  • Lancashire (12, +6), Plymouth (8, -2), Bath and North East Somerset (7, -2), Liverpool (7). Manchester (7, – 1: this is all positive news), Bradford (6). North Yorkshire (6). ).

National news

  • Ebook sales continue to fall as younger generations drive appetite for print – Guardian. “Nielsen survey finds UK ebook sales declined by 4% in 2016, the second consecutive year digital has shrunk” … “More than 360m books were sold in 2016 – a 2% jump in a year that saw UK consumers spend an extra 6%, or £100m, on books in print and ebook formats, according to findings by the industry research group Nielsen in its annual books and consumer survey. The data also revealed good news for bricks-and-mortar bookshops, with a 4% rise in purchases across the UK”
  • Evidence based planning: workshop – Libraries Taskforce. “this post was written by Ian Leete from the Local Government Association (LGA) – who focused on the toolkit, with additional text from Ben Lee, of Shared Intelligence – who delivered part of the presentation and outlined existing good practice.” … “Lack of capacity to investigate data seemed to be the biggest problem, and a number of delegates flagged that it could take a long time to build a relationship with partners to access the data they held. Having access to national information that could be broken down to a local level will give them quicker access to the information they needed” … “We now intend to have a prototype for testing available for volunteer library services by April 2017. If anyone is involved in gathering data now, and would like to help us shape the prototype, please get in touch.”
  • Libraries Deliver…. Improved digital access and literacy – Libraries Taskforce. “: this post was written for us after the launch of the UK Digital Strategy, by Harry Lund, Head of Strategy and Enterprise, in the Digital Economy Unit (DCMS).” … “Libraries feature prominently in the Digital Strategy because we appreciate how much people look to them to provide digital access and valued support in building and improving digital skills and literacy. That’s why, by working with the Arts Council, government funded the provision of free Wi-Fi to all libraries across England in 2015/16. We now want to go one step further in supporting these important pillars of the community.” … “To support the aspirations of the Digital Strategy, over 4 million free training opportunities have been pledged by industry. This is a vital step in creating a legacy to ensure that the UK’s digital economy works for everyone. Libraries could have a role to play here as trusted environments where people can access information about opportunities. We’ll provide more details about the Partnership in due course”
  • Role of public libraries in the 21st Century – Policy Exchange. “We invite librarians, experts, policymakers, publishers, readers, writers, interested groups, organisations and individuals to respond to this call for evidence. Submissions should be in Word or PDF format and no longer than 2,000 words, addressing any or all of the above questions.””

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, whether she will publish the criteria used to determine whether a complaint received by her Department regarding library services is considered a formal complaint.” Kevin Brennan MP, shadow minister.

“Local library authorities in England have a statutory duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to provide a comprehensive and efficient public library service. The Department carefully considers on a case by case basis all correspondence received about library services in England before deciding whether the correspondence will be treated as a formal complaint, within the scope of section 10(1)(a) of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, and whether a library authority has failed to carry out its duties relating to the public library service under the 1964 Act. Not every item of correspondence received by the Department concerning changes to public library services will be treated as a complaint within the scope of section 10(1)(a). For correspondence to be treated as a formal complaint it is expected that it will provide some reasoning or evidence as to why the complainant considers the library authority is in breach of its statutory duties. In addition, correspondence would not fall within the scope of section 10(1)(a) if it is considered trivial or vexatious” Rob Wilson MP, libraries minister. They Work For You.

International news

  • Australia – Public libraries are bridging the gap and stimulating STEAM activities – Civica Library Solutions. “Public libraries across the country are trying to bridge this communication gap between institutions and community members by offering more activities and services that will stimulate the community’s interaction with technology. “
  • Global – Lost, or former libraries – Flickr. 199 photos of buildings that used to be libraries but are no longer, for whatever reason. Their beauty often remains, even if their purpose is lost.
  • Jamaica – Increased Access to Technology in Public Libraries – Best of Jamaica TV. “Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on March 14, Director General at the JLS, Karen Barton, said that through the project, the JLS has acquired 1,063 new state-of-the-art information and communications technology (ICT) resources to use in its 119 public libraries. The ICT resources, she added, include 780 desktop computers, 271 tablets and 12 laptops.”
  • Russia – Disappearing books: How Russia is shuttering its Ukrainian library – Reuters. “First, armed police seized some of its books. Next, its director was put on trial accused of stirring up ethnic hatred. And now, quietly, its shelves have been emptied and its volumes packed up, ready to be merged into another library’s collection. A year and a half after Russia’s only state-run Ukrainian language library, Moscow’s Library of Ukrainian Literature, was dragged into a political dispute between the two countries, Reuters has learnt that authorities are quietly winding it down. Officially, what is happening to the library — its 52,000 books are being transferred to Russia’s main foreign language library — is “a change of address” not a closure”
  • Spain – Resolución 3a ed. Premio “Biblioteca pública y compromiso social” – Fundacion Biblioteca Social. In Spanish. “In accordance with the aims of the Foundation, public library projects aimed at people or groups that live in situations of vulnerability and social conflict are rewarded and contribute to alleviate social imbalances” … “On March 13, 2017, the Jury considered the “Best Project” to be named The Reading That Gives Life presented by the Public Library Eugenio Trias-Casa de Fieras de El Retiro (Madrid). According to the jury’s report, the project “arises from the need to read a very sensitive and excluded group such as children and adolescents affected by psychiatric and cancer pathologies; Breaks the barriers between institutions, in this case cultural and sanitary
  • Thailand – Bangkok’s first 24-hour library is almost ready to open BK. “Inspired by UNESCO’s selection of Bangkok as the World Book Capital back in 2013, the space promises three floors of pure heaven for bookworms, including sections on Thai culture, Asian literature, world literature, international children’s literature, science reference books, plus a “Hall of Fame” where the best works of historical Thai literature will be on display. In total, an estimated 30,000 books will be in the starting collection. On top of that, expect an education center, a film and letters archive, an on-site cafe, computers for searching e-books and, of course, plenty of open-floor reading space”
  • USA – A Children’s Garden at Avon Lake Public Library – Webjunction. “Located in northeastern Lorain County, Avon Lake Public Library received a 2016 Ohio LSTA Summer Library Program grant from IMLS to create a children’s garden in an exterior building bay, just outside of the Children’s department. The garden was the focal point of our summer reading program, “ALPL Had a Farm, ABCDE.” Not only did we want our young patrons to learn about farming, farm animals, and raising food, we also wanted them to experience the enjoyment and fulfillment of digging in the dirt and planting, harvesting and eating vegetables. In addition, we wanted clients of Community Resource Services, a local non-profit that is an arm of the Salvation Army and the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio, to benefit from the fresh produce grown in our garden.”
  • USA – How I Learned to Love Patrons Again – Public Libraries Online. “Patron bashing—i.e. venting, ruminating, gossiping—might be the greatest failure when it comes to customer service and perhaps the greatest barrier to excellent customer service in libraries. It creates a toxic, negative environment that stunts in­novation, wastes time, and waters down service. If that isn’t bad enough, patron bashing is a drain on our mental and organiza­tional health”
  • USA – Museums, Public Broadcasting, Libraries — Here Are The Government Programs Trump Wants To Eliminate – Buzzfeed. See also Librarians Vow to Fight Trump on Funding Cuts – Publishers Weekly. “Just over halfway into his first 100 days, President Donald Trump has proposed eliminating virtually all federal funds for libraries. And librarians this week said they will fight back. In a statement, the American Library Association called Trump’s proposal to eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services in his FY2018 budget (effectively ending all federal funding for libraries of all kinds) “counterproductive and short-sighted,” and vowed to fight the measure.” and Trump’s proposed budget will eliminate funding to museums, libraries, and artists – Verge.
  • USA – National Library Workers Day – ALA. “That in order to recognize the hard work, dedication, and expertise of library support staff and librarians that the Tuesday of National Library Week be designated National Library Workers Day; and, that on that day, interested library workers, library groups, and libraries should advocate for better compensation for all library workers and, if the day coincides with National Pay Equity Day, these individuals, groups, and libraries should recognize both days together.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Residents are losing trust in Barnet Council, according to latest survey figures – Enfield Today. “The state of pavements and the reduction in the library service are among factors being linked to residents’ loss of trust in Barnet Council. The latest residents’ perception survey found that the proportion of people who think the council is trustworthy has fallen from 71 per cent to 61 per cent in six months”
  • Bradford – Silsden library to close despite volunteers coming forward – Telegraph and Argus. “Cllr Adrian Naylor said staff would be pulled from the facility in Silsden Town Hall on April 1, and the doors will remain closed until a team of volunteers has completed training. The town and district councillor, who is spearheading the community library project, this week said he had pleaded with council bosses for a rethink. But he said: “They’ve refused to budge. I even asked whether we could find the money to pay the staff ourselves and they still said no, because workers had been redeployed elsewhere in the council. “We are basically at Bradford’s beck and call. I’m not impressed with what’s gone on so far.””
  • Bridgend – How “therapy dog” Pia is helping shy children with their reading – Wales Online. Dog now key part junior reading group.
  • Bury – Concerns over library closures in Whitefield and Unsworth – Bury Times. “Library users stressed their concerns about the effects of the closures at a meeting of the Whitefield and Unsworth Township Forum this evening. The public can have their say on two options, which will see at least ten of the borough’s 14 libraries close – including Unsworth Library and Whitefield Library and Adult Learning Centre. Head of libraries, Elizabeth Binns gave a presentation on the options and encouraged residents to have their say on the plans.”
  • Cornwall – Camborne Town Council consulting over future use of library building – Packet. “Residents of Camborne are being encouraged to attend an event on Saturday, March 25, when the future uses of the town’s library building will be up for discussion. The event, being held by Camborne Town Council at the library between 11am and 3pm, will be a chance for local people to share their ideas on how the library can be best used as a public hub for Camborne and to find out more about the changes to the library building once it has been transferred to the town council”
  • Cornwall – Council rejects offer to take over the running of town’s library Cornish and Devon Post. “Launceston Town Council has rejected Cornwall Council’s current offers to take on the running of the town library — describing one option as having ‘unacceptable’ future financial implications. The town council held an extraordinary meeting last week to consider a paper presented by Cornwall Council regarding the devolution of the library service — it was unanimously resolved that the town council ‘could not accept either of the two options presented’. There is the potential for Launceston Library on Bounsalls Lane to be devolved from Cornwall Council to the town council.”
  • Dorset – Lyme Regis Library handed over to development trust ahead of proposed housing scheme – Bridport News. “Dorset County Council has gifted the Lyme Regis Library site on Silver Street to the Lyme Regis Development Trust (LRDT). The plans for the site include a new library with street frontage shared with other public space and the provision of housing. Cllr Deborah Croney, county council Cabinet member for learning, skills and children’s safeguarding, said: “The proposal submitted by the Lyme Regis Development Trust offers the greatest opportunity of deliverability, the lowest overall risk to the county council and will provide some much needed affordable housing as well as community facilities, which includes library space, on the site.”
  • Dorset – TIC staff prepare for library move – View News. Dorchester: “Staff are preparing this week for the move from the existing centre on the corner of Trinity Street and Antelope Walk to the town’s library. A service counter and shelving has been brought into the library with items from the existing centre being transferred across for the opening of the new facility on Saturday, April 1st. But while tourist information being offered might be much the same as before, there will be fewer staff and no space for the sale of local goods, souvenirs and crafts. West Dorset District Council estimates that the move will save £80,000 a year in ongoing costs.”
  • Hertfordshire – Minister for Libraries, Rob Wilson opens two state of the art libraries in Hertfordshire – Hertfordshire Council. “Libraries Minister, Rob Wilson officially opened two new state of the art public libraries to Hertfordshire residents. Mr Wilson unveiled a commemorative plaque at each library where he met with staff and members of the public before cutting a celebratory cake to mark the occasion” … “Hemel Hempstead library opened its doors to the public in January in marking the completion of a major building project in partnership with Dacorum Borough Council to improve the library service for the local community. The new facility is part of a wider regeneration project for Hemel Hempstead with the aim of attracting more people and greater investment into the town. Watford Central Library reopened to the public in November 2016 after being fully refurbished to create a bright, welcoming, flexible, tech-enabled facility for users within the original 1920s building. The refurbished library aims to improve the general library service offering whilst providing modern technologies to a growing local population”
  • Lancashire – Council must review sale of Fulwood library – Lancashire Evening Post. “Just days after approving the sale of the former Fulwood library the county council’s deputy leader has been stopped in his tracks. County Coun David Borrow gave the go-ahead for the sale of the Garstang Road property last week.But now the Tory opposition group on Lancashire County Council has “called in” the decision. “
  • Lancashire – Hurry up plea as vandals attack library – Blackpool Gazette. “A window was smashed at Thornton Library over the weekend. And volunteers fear more damage could be done if Lancashire County Council does not come to a deal quickly to hand over the site.”
  • Lancashire – New chapter for library – Burnley Express. “Veterans Association UK has agreed to move in to Pike Hill Library in Langwyth Road, Brunshaw, closed by Lancashire County Council in recent cost-saving measures.”
  • Lewisham – Leaf and Groove shop plan to raise funds to run Forest Hill Library – London News Online. “Community-minded volunteers running a library are looking to reopen a nearby derelict shop so that profits raised from it will go towards the upkeep of the library. A crowdfunding scheme is under way to raise the cash needed to open the shop – to be called The Leaf and Groove – a reflection of the books and vinyl records it hopes to sell. The shop, in Dartmouth Road, is the aim of the long-term supporters of Forest Hill Library. They say that it aims to be a “shop of distinction, a browser’s paradise and a book-lover’s dream” dealing in specially-selected second-hand items.”
  • Lincolnshire – New library, heritage site and cafe set for Skellingthorpe – Lincolnshire Live. “New library facilities and a heritage centre are just two of the developments planned for construction off Lincoln Road in Skellingthorpe … A community cafe and sports changing facilities are also in the pipeline as part of proposals submitted to North Kesteven District Council” … “One building will house a café, library/heritage centre, offices and meeting rooms for the parish council. The second will provide changing facilities and storage for local sport teams and activities.”
  • Liverpool – “It makes me all excited inside…” – Code Club. “Code Clubs are weekly after-school coding clubs for 9 – 11 year olds.
    Children learn to create games, animations and websites using our specially created resources, with the support of awesome volunteers.
    We visited Liverpool Central Library to find out what the children at their Code Club think about their coding club.”
  • North Yorkshire – North Yorkshire’s 1,200 volunteers preparing to take over county’s libraries – Northern Echo. “… groups are preparing to take over the running of 21 North Yorkshire libraries within the next couple of weeks, thanks to the support of 1,200 new volunteers” … “A total of 12 libraries will remain under the control of the county council, run with support from volunteers to maintain their current levels of services. There are already nine other community-run libraries in the county. ” … “The county’s library service has seen its budget almost halved from £7.8m in 2010 to £4.3m in 2017/18. “
  • North Yorkshire – Work under way to create community library – York Press. “From next month, Norton Library, which has been given charitable status, will be solely dependent on volunteers to keep it fully operational. County Councillor Elizabeth Shields, who chairs the Norton Community Library Group, said they had also secured a 10-year lease with North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC). “Last Saturday, volunteers and users of Norton Library enjoyed a friendly get-together over a hot drink and delicious cakes to find out more about the changes to expect over the next month,” she said.”
  • Sefton – Urgent call for volunteers and funding for brand new Birkdale library scheme – Champion. “Now a registered charity, the newly named Birkdale Community Hub & Library group (BCHL) are asking for people to support their campaign to transform the former Birkdale Station Master’s House into a educational reading hub. Originally called the Friends of Birkdale Library, the BCHL group were set up in order to campaign to prevent the council run library in Liverpool Road from closing down. Having lost this fight, a core committee from within the group set about trying to find alternative premises in the area where we could establish a library and community hub to continue to serve local people. “
  • Sheffield – Insult to campaigners for Central Library – Star / Letters. “Coun Scott goes on to mention that Green councillors did not budget to save the existing central library. This would have been an impossibility given that the council still refuses to release the quotes it has obtained to renovate the building despite numerous requests from opposition councillors and others to do so”
  • Slough – Slough’s controversial cultural hub and library up for award – Slough Observer. “The Curve, in William Street, Slough, has been nominated for the Best Public Service Building prize in the Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Awards. The controversial £22 million cultural hub was built by Slough Urban Renewal (SUR). – is home to Slough’s new library, community learning rooms, registrar services, a café, a garden area and a 280-seat performance space.”
  • Sunderland – New central library too small – Sunderland Echo / Letters. “I recently found out that the books are in three places (apart from the corridor). The crafts and hobbies books are in the library room, the pottery room and upstairs, which also has books on art. If you want a book about knitting you would have to trail to these three places for the full range. Not only that but the pottery room and upstairs open half an hour later than the library. You couldn’t make it up.”
  • Tameside – Assistant Resources and Stock Librarian – Tameside Council. Full-time, permanent, £21k.
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Community library will open with a splash in St Athan – Barry Gem. “The St Athan Community Hub and Library (SACHaL) will hold their grand launch between 11am and 5pm on Saturday, April 1, in St Athan library and the Old School Community Centre next door. SACHaL will run the library in partnership with the Vale Council.”
  • Warrington – Libraries Group begins work – Warrington Council. “Members of the public were also in attendance at the meeting, giving them the opportunity to listen to discussions on the feedback to the recent public consultation, hear about the local and national picture for libraries and ask questions. The group also began to explore ways in which libraries ‘Friends of’ groups and other community partners could play an important role in shaping the future of libraries in Warrington”
  • Warrington – Soft targets – Warrington Guardian / Letters. “Warrington Central Library appears to have dodged LiveWire’s axe (Warrington Guardian, February 2). The revised proposal to establish a heritage quarter with the library at its centre is a far cry from the original recommendation to shift the library into an abandoned shoe store in a shopping centre; the new decision likely prompted by a possible grant from Heritage Britain and the public outcry against LiveWire’s first try. However the idea of shoving the other libraries into available space in district hubs stems from the same mentality as the shoe shop idea”

“It would appear the composition of the working group tasked to report on the future of other libraries is heavily stacked in favour of the previous approach, namely to keep the library but cut the cost; three LiveWire reps, probably including one of the councillors on the board, two more borough councillors who are doubtless budget minded and just two independents”

  • Wirral – Leisure, culture, parks and library services set for a boost – Liverpool Echo. “Later this month the council’s cabinet will be asked to approve the development of a ‘business case’ which will see leisure and culture services throughout the borough redesigned, with the potential to create a charitable trust to run the services one of the options on the table.” … “The report which cabinet will consider at its meeting on March, 27 provides details of initial research and analysis which has been completed, and will propose three options for the future delivery of the services are explored further: · A redesigned set of in-house, council services; · The creation of a council-owned community interest company to deliver the services; · The creation of a charitable trust to deliver the services; Options already ruled out include creating a commercial company to run the services, and the ‘outsourcing’ or ‘privatisation’ of the services.”
  • York – Haxby library funding approved – Press. “… council bosses have agreed to put half a million pounds towards development plans for Haxby Memorial Hall, so the town’s library can have a new home there. On Monday Cllr Nigel Ayre, the executive member for culture, agreed the funding could be set aside for the Memorial Hall plans. The proposals would see a new library building go up beside the hall, with a linking section to the Memorial Hall itself. The £499,000 council funding will go part of the way towards covering the estimated £1 million cost of the new library and link building, with the Memorial Hall trustees responsible for raising the rest of the cash”