Well, well, well. To be honest, I was watching the trend in other countries towards removing library fines and thinking that it would never happen here due to austerity … and. well, it’s happening. Portsmouth has joined four others in the UK (it’s the third in England) and announced it the move. Gosh. It’s a good news story for them and I hope others take it up as well. I’m also loving seeing stories about the new Colliers Wood Library and the official opening of Oxford Central (did you ever get the lift fixed?). But, hey, before we get too upbeat, let’s walk over to Surrey where there’s now no newspapers other than the “I”, their online provision and what the public feel like donating. Well, at least it means no taxpayers money there is going to the Mail.


National news

    • Cuts to Welsh libraries see paid staff fall by 20% – BBC. “Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) figures reveal full-time paid staff fell from 1,112 in 2012-13 to 890 in 2016-17 – a 20% drop. Meanwhile, the number of volunteers increased 13-fold, from 93 to 1,288. The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said councils were finding “innovative ways” of keeping services in a climate of cuts. CIPFA chief executive Rob Whiteman said the overall budget cut to Welsh libraries in the last decade had been less than that in England – 18% compared to 25%.” see also Libraries without staff are ‘just a room full of books’ – BBC. Video and CILIP Cymru Wales statement: Annual CIFPA statistics on public library services in Wales – CILIP. “If the Welsh Local Government Association truly wants to raise the aspirations and attainment of everyone, they must recognise that it is first and foremost professional librarians and trained staff that make a quality innovative library service – not the books, the buildings or the computers.”
    • Do people trust librarians? – Libraries Taskforce. “Medical staff topped the list, with 74% of British adults saying they thought they would provide trustworthy information, followed by teachers and police officers (both at 49%), librarians (46%) and lawyers (39%). Bottom of the list were politicians, with 2% of respondents saying they thought they would provide trustworthy information.”
    • Only half of pre-school children being read to daily, UK study finds – Guardian. “The proportion of toddlers being read to every day has dropped by a fifth over the last five years, according to research warning that the decline is a significant threat to child development. The annual Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer survey from Nielsen Book Research, interviewed 1,596 parents of 0 to 13-year-olds, and 417 14 to 17-year-olds in the UK last autumn. It found that while 69% of preschool children were read to daily in 2013, that figure had dropped to just 51%.”
    • Regulations on the re-use of public sector information – Libraries Taskforce. “The good news is that there is published guidance for libraries and other cultural sector bodies thinking about re-use, produced by The National Archives. This guidance sets out clearly what libraries should do to comply. The Regulations only apply to “public task” information in libraries. Understanding what your public task consists of is not always straightforward – but there are some local authority and university library services that have already published public task statements. Take a look at some examples…”
      Society of Chief Librarians Innovation Network National Gathering 2018 – Society of Chief Librarians. 27 March, Manchester. “This yearly event brings library staff together from across the UK to share the work they are doing, create new connections and think collectively about how to improve the services we provide our local communities.”

An online bookclub from Axiell

International news

  • Temple of Knowledge – StoryCorps. “Ronald Clark’s father was custodian of a branch of the New York Public Library at a time when caretakers, along with their families, lived in the buildings. With his daughter, Jamilah, Ronald remembers literally growing up in a library, creeping down to the stacks in the middle of the night when curiosity gripped him. A story for anyone who’s ever dreamt of having unrestricted access to books.”

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Police could be housed in fire stations after building closures – Birmingham Post. “Residents in Sutton Coldfield and Solihull could also be visiting police in the local library when the station front offices close the police commissioner’s strategic board was told.”
  • Bromley – Bromley library staff and care workers vote for action amid outsourcing chaos – Unite. “Britain’s largest union, Unite warned of possible strike action hitting services run for Bromley council by two contractors today (Thursday 22 February), after library staff and care workers overwhelmingly backed action in two separate strike ballots. 100 per cent of library staff working for Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) across the London borough’s 14 libraries backed strike action on a turnout of 87 per cent in a dispute over staffing, pay and time off for union duties.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Crime-writing duo at Northwich Library next month – Northiwch Guardian. “Crime writer Margaret Murphy and forensic expert Helen Pepper have teamed up to write novels and will tell all at Cheshire West libraries.”
  • Devon – Bideford Library will not be moving to The Burton – North Devon Gazette. “Plans to move Bideford Library into The Burton were first floated in 2013 and The Burton at Bideford and Libraries Unlimited (LUL) have been in discussion since then. But this week both organisations have mutually agreed that while they will continue to work closely on joint community projects, the relocation of the library to The Burton will not go ahead.
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Tories pledge to halt estate regeneration, save libraries and protect parks in alternative Budget – Brixton Buzz. “Over the next months we will look at what remaining options there are to save libraries at risk from being closed down by Labour councillors, or turned into unwanted gyms, and the impact of the changes to the beautiful Carnegie library.”
  • Northamptonshire – Council executive’s firm won contract after her £50k pay-off – BBC and KPMG issue Northamptonshire County Council with law breach warning – BBC.
  • Oxfordshire – ‘Why you should visit Oxford’s library of the future’ – Oxford Mail.the official reopening of the Oxfordshire County Library, which has had a major makeover as part of the new Westgate development in Oxford. If you haven’t been in yet, please visit soon and join the 2000-strong list of new members since the library reopened before Christmas.”
  • Portsmouth – Library ‘won’t lose out’
as fines for late book 
returns will be scrapped – News. “Portsmouth Library Service has confirmed that over 6,000 items were overdue in 2013, nearly 5,000 were late in 2014, over 4,500 were late in 2015, and just under 4,500 were overdue in 2016. More than 7,000 were still outstanding from 2017, though this figure is expected to decrease as more books are still expected to be returned. Cllr Linda Symes said: ‘Cutting out library fines is something that is really starting to catch on with places around the world and closer to home taking similar steps. In this day of the internet where there is so much choice it is important to give people a reason to want to come to the library and not put them off.”
  • Powys – Minister officially opens Knighton Library – Hereford Times. “Funding from the Welsh Government Community Facilities Grant of almost £500,000, a capital grant through the Museums, Archives and Libraries Transformation Capital Grants scheme and a range of other grants and capital contributions from Powys County Council, Knighton Town Council, Reserve Forces & Cadets Association and Radnor Hills has resulted in the community hub becoming a reality.”
  • Reading – Reading Borough Council hopes to save more than £200,000 by reducing library opening hours – Reading Chronicle. “ll seven of the council-owned libraries will remain open under the new proposals, but cuts could hit full-time workers and children hard if evening and weekend times are scrapped. Councillors were ‘saddened’ to have to look at stripping back library services, but said it was inevitable in the face of unprecedented cuts to funding.”
  • Somerset – Fears for library prompt protest – Wellington Weekly News. “Somerset County Council has announced plans for the library to be run by a community partnership or to be replaced by a mobile service. Julian Mellor, chairman of the attempt to force the authority to change its mind, said: “These proposals are horribly short-sighted.” see also Hundreds give view on library – Wellington Weekly News. More “than 1,500 people have so far registered their views about the future of Wellington library service since the launch of the consultation process, says Somerset County Council.”
  • Staffordshire – Consultation event in Burntwood to showcase proposals to use technology to extend library opening times – Lichfield Live. “Staffordshire County Council is seeking views on proposals to introduce an automated system and alter the way the mobile library service operates.
  • Staffordshire – Library consultation continues – Tamworth Informed. and Needham Market Library asks customers for their thoughts on proposed change to opening hours – EADT. “The proposal would involve no change to the total hours open, but the opening pattern would be slightly different on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.”
  • Surrey – No more newspapers at Surrey Libraries – Eagle Radio. “Surrey County Council has announced this week that they will be withdrawing newspapers from libraries as part of £100,000 library budget cuts”
  • Swindon – SMAG needs new homeSwindon Advertiser / Letters. “I have heard that library campaigners who gained a meeting with Mr Vaizey would find his manner quite encouraging. Then they would return home to find the slashing of budgets, loss of professional staff, reduction of hours, closure of libraries, eviction of libraries from prime locations, and handing over of libraries to parishes, voluntary groups or fitness companies continuing unabated. So, what does Mr Vaizey have to say about museums? Firstly, “The digital transformation needs to continue”. Secondly, “we really need to challenge the bricks and mortar motif of the museum itself.” Could it be that in Mr Vaizey’s view neither libraries nor museums serve any purpose in a digital age, and that looking at a photo of an object, or a photo of a painting, is the same as looking at the real thing?”
  • Walsall – Walsall library revamp to cost an extra £250k – Express and Star. “A survey has revealed extensive roof work costing at least £250,000 is needed on the listed 113-year-old Edwardian landmark including replacing insulation and hand-made clay tiles. But determined council leaders insist it will not hold up the £4.3m works and are confident it will still all be ready by November this yea – despite not having chosen a builder yet.”
  • Western Isles – From library coffee shop to creative space Stornoway Gazette.a number of authorities in Scotland have set up Makerspaces within their libraries, with great success, and the Comhairle’s library service was inspired by these to create a similar opportunity for local residents.”