I was interested to see Conservative Woman attack the CILIP Carnegie Awards for bearing in mind diversity. OK, be shocked if you like but I see that as a good thing for a couple of reasons. One is that the decision needs to be defended and explained and one imagines CILIP will do so and, hopefully, change a few minds in the process. Also, it at least raises the issues. And, hey, libraries are being noticed by Conservatives. But the main reason I like it is that the fairly reasoned tone of the article was a pleasure to read compared to see some of the stuff I read from the USA. We may not be proud of the UK overly but, my gosh, we’re a lot more tolerant than some across the pond. I see this regularly with US articles frequently attacking such things as, horror, libraries having books in Islam, Harry Potter and LGBT books or even transvestite storytimes. Seriously, some try to ban books over there for not being intolerant. And they don’t go in for reasoned debate either. They just go straight for “it’s evil” or “satanic” or “witchcraft”. You can’t argue with someone who’s screaming. And don’t get me started on their gun laws, which means openly carrying a handgun in a children’s library is apparently an inalienable right and questioning it would perhaps lead to tweeted death threats if I was in the US.

There’s no reasoned way to argue with any of that, which is why their political system, and their nation, appears to be so broken. At least, over here, for now, at least on such a thing as a children’s book, there can be differences of opinion. And libraries should always encourage that and allow for information and different views so people can make up their own minds. And, perhaps, change them on occasion.


National news

  • British Standards Online Libraries Taskforce. British Standards salesperson sells British Standards: “BSI, the UK’s National Standards Body, is supporting local libraries with a new onsite subscription package providing access to thousands of British Standards Online.”
  • Extra council tax income in 2018/19 will not protect under-pressure local services – LGA. “With local government facing an overall funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020, the LGA is warning these council tax rises will not prevent the need for continued cutbacks to all local services this year. Councils will also have to continue to divert ever-dwindling resources from other local services, including filling potholes, maintaining our parks and green spaces and running children’s centres, leisure centres and libraries, to try and plug growing funding gaps in adult social care, children’s services and homelessness support.”
  • On “moaners” – Johanna Bo Anderson’s Blog. CILIP several years ago: “CILIP said it could not get involved in “campaigning” because it was a charity not a union. ” … “Roll on to 2017/18 and there is another CEO. People keep telling me “CILIP has changed!”. There are a few members of the board appearing in my feed on Twitter being fairly vocal about libraries and library cuts. They are saying the same things we were begging CILIP to say 10 years ago. “. Complains CILIP Twitter account does not engage directly with her. “So I had a look at CILIP social media policy and I saw the words “some people just simply enjoy having a moan” (yes really!) and it got me thinking” … “I know that fear of being labelled a “moaner” stops people from speaking out but, though never acknowledged, these very same “moaners” are often those who instigate change.”
  • Play your part in helping reduce book poverty – Oldham Evening Chronicle. “The National Literacy Trust and Manchester City Council are also working together and have developed the Read Manchester campaign to promote reading and boost literacy throughout the city. They work with libraries, schools, businesses and communities to raise the profile of reading for pleasure, and have given away thousands of free books to children in the city.”
  • Secondary school pupils ‘not reading challenging enough books’ – BBC. No mention of libraries in whole article.
  • Tale of the ever-more-PC children’s book awards – Conservative Woman. “The judges are nearly all middle-aged librarians who love books and have long experience dealing with children. ” … “CILIP, like many professional bodies, is no longer entirely apolitical. Its mission has crept from running libraries to righting social wrongs (its latest action plan requires it, among other things, to ‘champion diversity and equality’); and as if this were not enough, it now also sees itself as a human rights activist” … “A literary prize, especially one for children’s books, should be not about what an author says but how well and stylishly he says it” … “if diversity means diversity of outlook or philosophy, sorting everyone into BAME and not-BAME is, to say the least, a curious way to achieve it”  … “Any suggestion that BAME people in Britain somehow have special needs for books by BAME writers is both blatantly false and highly insulting to the non-white population of this country” … “Many members of CILIP, one suspects, consciously or unconsciously regard the question of how to award a literary prize of this kind as involving not questions of old-fashioned literary merit, but instead decisions about the distribution of fame and fortune in our society” cf. Conservative Groups Want ‘Harmful’ LGBT Books Segregated at Iowa Library – Daily Beast. “Conservative groups in Iowa are demanding a library in Orange City shelve LGBTQ materials, including books and DVDs, separately to everything else, claiming they could “harm” children.”
  • Why Libraries Matter to Scotland’s Health and Wellbeing – Scottish Book Trust. “Libraries and their outstanding, dedicated and professional librarians are perfectly placed to promote good health and wellbeing across Scotland. They are a safe, judgement-free and inclusive space and their staff are well-trained and skilled practitioners. This, combined with some of the many innovative projects happening in school and public libraries means that, if they are protected from short-sighted cuts, libraries will continue to play a vital role in a healthy Scotland.”
    An online bookclub from Axiell
    International news
  • Australia – The role of public libraries changing to meet digital world’s requirements – ABC. “”People now have to apply for jobs online or apply for a visa, do their tax or the many things the government wants you to do online now, and some people don’t have the digital skills to do that,” Mrs Seymour said. “So where do they go? They come to the library and our staff try to help them.”
  • Global – Most Unusual Menus From Libraries Around the World – Atlas Obscura. “Not many libraries have menus collections, but they are still a vital part of the historical record that reveals tastes, trends, and even local environmental conditions. “
  • USA – Man held without bail in ‘unprovoked’ fatal library stabbing– Yahoo. “A Massachusetts man charged with fatally stabbing a woman studying to become a doctor in a public library has a severe mental illness, his lawyer said Monday.”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Staff sickness forces two Bath libraries to close on multiple occasions – Bath Chronicle. “Bath and North East Somerset Council Twitter page, have been library staff being off sick and “unforeseen circumstances”” .. “Dionne McCulloch, who campaigned to keep Bath Central Library in The Podium said: “Make no mistake this is strategy: starve the service until it dies then shrug as you close it and say ‘no one used it anyway’.””
  • Cheshire East – Cheshire East libraries to stay open – So Cheshire. “Macclesfield MP David Rutley (whose constituency includes both Disley and Prestbury) has set out his thoughts on the decision to keep the libraries open. David said he had strong concerns about the possible closure of the libraries, and is pleased that this change of heart has taken into consideration the feelings of local residents. Along with Disley Parish Council and local ward councillor Cllr Harold Davenport, Mr Rutley campaigned to retain services at the library and ensure its future use.” see also Cheshire East approves 5.99% hike in council tax – Crewe Chronicle.Cheshire East has voted through a 5.99% increase in its share of the council tax – the biggest hike since the council was formed in 2009.”
  • Denbighshire – Temporary library for DenbighFree Press. “A temporary Library and One Stop Shop service in Denbigh will be available at Eirianfa Community Centre from Monday March 5 at the normal library opening times. The current library building is now closed for refurbishment works which will include extensive redecoration works to create an attractive, open access and flexible space for a modern library and one stop shop service.”
  • East Sussex – Closure of seven libraries to go ahead – Sussex Express. “Langney, Mayfield, Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Ringmer and Willingdon libraries are set to shut in early May. East Sussex County Council, which held a 12-week consultation on its draft Libraries Strategic Commissioning strategy late last year, is also proposing to scrap the mobile library service.” see also Campaign group’s anger at Ore Library decision – Hastings and St Leonards Observer.The consultation has been shown to be sham as many people predicted. Despite the 1,500-signature petition and hundreds of other objections to the closure of Ore Library alone, the response shows they have not taken on board any of the points raised.”
  • Hull – Fantastic books on freedom are available at all Hull libraries – Hull Daily Mail. “ten new books by national artists, each exploring themes of freedom are available to read at all of Hull’s libraries as a year-long commissioning project by Freedom Festival Arts Trusts launches.”
  • Lancashire – Community’s joy as library reopens – Blackpool Gazette. “Community leaders have called on people to get behind a friends group to keep the newly reopened Thornton Library vibrant. Thornton and Hambleton County Councillor John Shedwick performed the official re-opening as a crowd of around 100, young and old, waited to get back inside the Victoria Road East building closed a year ago.”
  • Northamptonshire – Northamptonshire adult care services ‘on verge of being unsafe’ – BBC. “The Tory-run council … it was close to effective bankruptcy earlier this month, was given the prognosis by senior officials as it sought to agree a £10m cuts programme which will include the closure of 21 of its 36 libraries. It came just days after a warning from the council’s auditor that its existing plans to reduce services would deliver insufficient savings to enable it to set a legal budget for 2018-19.” see also The new, updated list of Northamptonshire library closures – Northampton Chronicle. “Leaders at Northamptonshire County Council have today (Tuesday) executed an about-turn on library closures, with the proposal to close 21 of them now the only option.”
  • Northumberland – Libraries shelve fines in March – Northumberland Gazette. “The temporary waiving of library fines has been very successful in other parts of the UK and it is hoped there will be a very positive take-up of this limited offer in Northumberland.”
  • Oxfordshire – Spreading the word to encourage library use – Oxfordshire Guardian. “Oxfordshire’s libraries are “thriving – not just surviving”, according to Libraries Minister Michael Ellis. The Northampton North MP was one of more than 100 guests to attend last week’s official opening of Oxfordshire County Library. He toured the facility and spoke to staff and volunteers about the library’s transformation and wider network of 43 county branches.” [This is a direct call-back to Ed Vaizey who also insisted libraries were thriving – Ed.]
  • Shropshire – Shropshire Council plans to build and sell houses in bid to plug financial hole – Shropshire Star. “These include a new library services initiative called “Fab Reads”, charging for the time of building control team staff, and fees for tree preservation orders.”