Good to see a new library being built and a refurbishment going on. It’s also good to see David Byrne (of Talking Heads) seriously bigging up libraries. And then we have the continued fiasco of Northamptonshire Council which has managed to get Conservative MPs openly speaking against it and Conservative councillors shouting that the other should resign on Twitter. Set against that, the official complaint put in by CILIP is probably the icing on the cake. You can imagine the realisation on the councillor faces how bad the situation is when they discovered even the librarians were protesting.


National news

“Message from a Facebook friend of mine. I have a client at work who is homeless and spends many nights sleeping in a tent, while he waits for a hostel room to become available (waiting lists run slow in winter). Most days he goes to get support locally (1) … he can get a cup of coffee, use the toilet facilities to have a wash, log in on a computer to make sure his benefits claim is up to date, he can see a couple of advice workers sometimes (2) … and if nothing else he can keep warm for an hour or so. This isn’t his probation office, the YMCA, a church centre or homelessness agency (all of whom do their best to help also) – it’s his local branch library. (3) This was in response to a general post about libraries” Kathryn Boothroyd via Twitter.

  • David Byrne: ‘I’m able to talk in a social group now – not retreat into a corner’ – Guardian. “We in the arts and humanities often complain that our work is undervalued, at least in terms of being beneficial to society compared to the Stem disciplines. Finally we have some proof, and the effects are somewhat unexpected. A recent study by the Social Impact of the Arts Project at the University of Pennsylvania showed that when libraries and other cultural institutions are placed in the boroughs around New York, there are surprising knock-on effects: a. The kids’ test scores go up b. Spousal abuse goes down c. Obesity goes down d. The crime rate goes down. Things that might seem to be unrelated are actually connected. To lower crime, maybe we don’t need more prisons or stiffer sentencing; part of the solution might be to build a library.” see also the report mentioned: Social Impact of the Arts Project – Penn Libraries (USA).

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • USA – Libraries Versus Communities of Hate – Library Journal. “If you hate groups of people that you’re probably surrounded by and who normally don’t cause anyone any problems – conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Christians, homosexuals, Christian homosexuals, Jews, Muslims, socialists, capitalists, whatever – and you would be happier if they didn’t exist, or at least if they shut up and you never had to think about them, then congratulations, you’re just like these bigots in Iowa who want all LGBT-themed books banned from the public library.” … “It’s not LGBT books the bigots want to ban, it’s the capacity for a community to increase its collective knowledge and understanding. Put like that, they might still admit it, but it would be a lot harder to get people to sign a petition”
  • USA – Newsmaker: Emilio Estevez American Libraries. “Emilio Estevez is no stranger to the library world. Thirty-three years after portraying one of five teens sentenced to Saturday detention in a school library in the 1985 teen classic The Breakfast Club, Estevez steps behind the camera to write, direct, and star in The Public, about a group of homeless people who seek refuge in Cincinnati’s downtown public library during a bitterly cold Midwestern winter evening. A staunch library advocate, Estevez spoke with American Libraries about the film, its origin, and his connection to libraries.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Children protest dressed as thieves to show ‘robbery’ of library servicesTimes Series. “The Save Barnet Libaries group gathered concerned parents and children on World Book Day on Thursday to protest against the changes to library services. The group say only 9 per cent of library users previously signed up to the service have taken it up since changes introduced unstaffed hours, meaning users would require a pin code to acess facilities.”
  • Camden – Ham & High letters: Successful petition, antisemitisim, libraries, digital borough, budget, youth funding, painkillers and electric cars – Ham and High. “During Labour’s long reign as the dominant Camden political party, dozens of its councillors must have given similar pledges to that of Jonathan Simpson and yet the party has managed to reduce the number of borough libraries by almost 50 per cent. This humiliating achievement has occurred in the face of continuous, widespread public resistance. It should not be assumed that the nine surviving Camden libraries have escaped the local Labour Party’s antipathy. All but one have had their staff, book stock and opening hours savagely cut. Here, the policy seems to be death by slow strangulation.”
  • Cumbria – Cumbria County Councillor condemns plans to remove newspapers from libraries – The Mail. “If the plan goes ahead, it will mean daily printed copies of The Mail and the The Mirror will no longer be stocked, as well as the weekly editions of The Whitehaven News and The Westmorland Gazette. However, readers would still be able to access their news online, or by using the library in Whitehaven, which will continue to stock the newspapers. A notice which was recently placed inside the popular library read, “Please note from April 1 we will no longer be supplying physically copies of newspapers or magazines in the library.” see also Move to remove newspapers from town library defended by council – The Mail. “”We will no longer be providing physical copies of newspapers in our libraries. We know that a number of people regularly come in to read the newspapers, however we can provide online access to the majority of newspapers through their websites or through PressReader and RB Digital.”
  • Devon – The library oasis in #snowmaggedon – Emily J Macaulay. “As Exeter awoke on the third day the thaw had already begun and, with a bit of delay for some whilst the public transport system got full functional, with a full staff compliment it was back to full business as usual. It’s been quite a few days and as I reflect on it I am once again so proud of my library team that made it in through awful weather and ensured the doors were open, smiles were shared and heart cockles warmed. Like many people, library people are good people. And days like these showed that in buckets.”
  • Edinburgh – “Critical’ repairs needed at one of Scotland’s most popular libraries – Sunday Herald. “Edinburgh‘s Central Library, which opened in 1890 as one of the world’s first Andrew Carnegie libraries, was found to be in poor condition by surveyors, who say it requires “significant expenditure”. “
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Council press officer attened People’s Audit meeting News From Crystal Palace. “Simon Morrow of People’s Audit Lambeth said: “They can’t afford a librarian but spend money on a press officer.” There is no indication – yet – of whether the press officer attended in a personal capacity or whether he was there officially – and, if so, on whose instructions.”
  • Lancashire – Longer library hours but jobs put at risk – Gazette. “A cabinet report states a rollout of more “consistent working hours” across the county will lead to a“small reduction in full time equivalent officers and assistants” resulting in a saving of £44k. Each of the 47 libraries will be allocated into four bandings ranging from 18 hours per week up to 50 hours per week, “proportionate to the population that each library is serving.”
  • Norfolk – BBC and West Norfolk libraries pair up – Lynn News. “Free events in Lynn and Hunstanton will give residents a chance to learn more about the history of broadsides in a project between Norfolk libraries and the BBC. Organised with Art Fund support, the events will focus on the large posters commonly printed between the 16th and 19th centuries and often used for advertising, news and public announcements.”
  • North Lincolnshire – Scunthorpe Central Library services unavailable this week as £1m transformation project continues – Scunthorpe Telegraph. “The library closed in November so work could begin on the refurbishment, which will lead to a variety of services come together under one roof as a community hub when it reopens. As well as continuing to operate as a library with the popular children’s section and local studies service, it will also incorporate employment advice, housing advice, health and council customer services.”
  • Northamptonshire – Northamptonshire Council is ‘failing in its legal duties’ with library closures – BookSeller. “Libraries body CILIP has branded Northamptonshire County Council’s plan to cut 21 libraries as “careless and unreasonable” in a formal letter of complaint to culture secretary Matt Hancock.” … “Gill Furniss MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries, has also written to Hancock to express concern about the future of the library services, and Corby and East Northants MP Tom Pursglove has said that he is considering the secretary of state to investigate the council’s decisions.” … “Furniss also urged the DCMS to provide a “clear and transparent definition” to all local authorities in England and Wales about what constitutes a “comprehensive and efficient” library service.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Buildings next on list to cut to save Council money – Western Telegraph.
  • Plymouth – Lunch at the Library – Plymouth Council. Evaluation report. ” CATERed provide meals at locations throughout Plymouth during the summer holiday as part of their Big Summer Food Tour. These take place twice a week at locations carefully chosen by reviewing data of benefit-based FSM eligibility across the city and adding in levels of take up for FSM. Libraries joined CATERed on their tour promoting Lunch at the Library and the Summer Reading Challenge.” … ” We wanted to show off the full range of library activities, to reach those who may not have visited for a while and to dispel some of the myths around libraries and what they offer.” … “The Summer Reading Challenge is always popular in Plymouth, but there are some areas of the city where we struggle to engage children. For Lunch at the Library we targeted six schools. All saw the numbers of children taking part, go up, one by an increase of 225% on the year before.”
  • Suffolk – Plans for new library in Eye town centre, Suffolk, set to be approvedEast Anglian Daily Times. “Plans to create a new library in Eye town centre are set to be given the green light on Wednesday, as project bosses aim to deliver a “modern” facility for the town.” .. “The new library will be in Cross Street, with the plans stating that it will “enhance what is currently an unattractive section” of the road. The plan aims to demolish the rear wing of 6 Cross Street, formerly a highways office and workshop before laying dormant for several years, and redevelop the site as a “purpose-built, modern” library.”
  • Surrey – Papers withdrawn from town library Petersfield Telegraph. “One copy of the ‘i’ newspaper and one copy of a weekly local paper will remain available, however donations of other papers are welcome. Labour county councillor Robert Evans said: “This is another example of how Government cuts are really hitting home.”
  • Wakefield – Library to close for refurbishment – Pontefract and Castleford Express. Pontefract Library: “The revamp is to improve the inside of the building to create separate areas for local and family history, children’s books and computer use. There will be designated spaces for people with specific needs, such as dementia friendly areas. Customers will also be able to enjoy new seating areas and get drinks from a new coffee machine.”