Ian Anstice

Public librarian since 1994, user of public libraries since my first memories ... and a keen advocate of public libraries and chronicler of the UK public libraries scene. Library manager since 1998, winner of Information Professional of the Year 2011 and Winsford Customer Service "Oscar" 2012 and 2014, honorary CILIP fellow 2015, CILIP Wales Library Champion of the Year 2016.

Homepage: http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com


Posts by Ian Anstice

If you think it’s been a while since my last post, just wait for the Single Digital Presence

Editorial

Well, sorry about that. It has been a really long time since the last Public Libraries News post. This is due to me having a bout of glandular fever. It was not fun, it took a long time, and of course news kept on stubbornly happening – in the same way work emails do – when I was off work so it took me a while to catch up.

The preliminary report of the £320k (yes, £320k) British Library research into a single digital presence for English libraries has been produced. It gives a list of options for what a single digital presence may be … and suggests further research. The final phase of research is running until September 2019. and will build upon the June 2019 report to provide practical recommendations for the sector to consider about funding and governance models, drawing on user research and ongoing input from colleagues across the sector. The British Library have recommended that key elements of this work are owned and led by the public sector and will be looking at options for public investment. It is not the fault of the BL team, led by the very capable Liz White,  that I’m really frustrated by this but rather those who have repeatedly kicked it into the long grass in the first place. A single digital presence is up and running in several countries already and the fact that even the form, or source of funding, for an English one hasn’t even been decided upon is deeply frustrating. It suggests there is something spectacularly and embarrassingly wrong with the public library system and how it is run. But then we knew that already (see the structure chart at the top of this page). It’s clear to everyone that we won’t see anything this decade and, frankly, I’m a tad bit worried about whether we get something the next. It may well be beyond 2025 before we get a decent national website at this rate. And we must fear the possibility that we may never meaningfully will.

Something that is happening surprisingly quickly, on the other hand, is the move by libraries towards being fines free. Both Salford and Barnsley have announced they are removing fines since my last post. From my conversations with senior managers, it has become clear that few if any defend fines as an effective tool of getting books back – that would be difficult with the evidence coming in from those who have removed fines that it makes barely any difference – but rather that they’re simply more worried about the money that fines bring in that will be lost. That’s no way to run a welcoming library service free for all but it’s the way that cash strapped managers have to think. But gosh it’s such a good sell for councils when fines are removed that there’s hope many more others will get the needed impetus to do what is right soon.

Changes

Ideas

National news

  • £1 million for museums, archives and libraries in Wales – Government of Wales. “In addressing the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Wales Annual Conference today, the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord-Elis-Thomas, announced that museums, archives and libraries in Wales will benefit from nearly £1 million Welsh Government capital funding to develop and enhance their facilities and services”
  • Digital Transformation for UK Public Libraries June 2019: – Five approaches to a “Single Digital Presence” –  British Library. Funded by ACE and Carnegie UK Trust. “This report is an independent study by a small team within the British Library and reflects our provisional evaluation of these options for transformation, which vary in degrees of cost, complexity and feasibility”. Lists five options – one national LMS, “UK-wide content discovery”, “Unified digital lending”, “safe social space” and “one library brand”. No clear path recommended or funding found. Press release.
  • Dwindling UK libraries have ‘fallen into trap’, warns campaigner – BookSeller. “New figures showing the dwindling popularity of UK libraries suggest the facilities have fallen into a “trap” and a new approach is needed, campaigner Tim Coates has said. Coates, a former Waterstones m.d, commissioned consumer research on where readers get their books. Three hundred UK residents were polled about their reading habits for the survey, with the figures showing 87% had “made use of a book” in the previous 12 months.” see also Struggling libraries are ‘trying to do too much’ by offering yoga classes and iPads, former Waterstones boss says – Telegraph. “Tim Coates criticised the “hopeless” direction libraries in the UK have taken over the past 20 years, attributing their declining use to the industry’s obsession with “rigging them out” with the latest technology and trendy activities”. See the full research in this presentation. and Week in Libraries: New Reader Survey Urges Publishers, Libraries to Close Their Data Gap – Publishers Weekly.
  • Entrepreneur hubs – now in your local library – Edinburgh Reporter. “The Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy Kate Forbes launched a new network of business hubs yesterday. The hubs are located in public libraries and are intended to both inspire and support entrepreneurs. This is the Scottish Coworking Network developed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) using funding from The Scottish Government. It is hoped that local freelancers and start-ups will use the dedicated space to meet, work and perhaps collaborate.”
  • Free ‘Access to Research’ online search service in public libraries is re-launched – Publishers Licensing Services. “Analysis of the top 20 search terms by month nationwide for 2018 has thrown up an idiosyncratic list of interests, in addition to the perennial concerns of health, history and science. Medical ailments are well represented (‘Caesarean nerve damage’ and ‘Effect tuition fees have on students’ mental health’) but there is also room for the somewhat specialized (‘Llama antibodies’ and ‘Ragwort’).”
  • Funding For Local Authorities In England Has Fallen By 21%, Report Says – Huffington Post. “Funding for English councils fell by 21% between 2009-10 and 2017-18, according to a report by Britain’s leading independent economics thinktank. The funding system for English councils is “unsustainable” and the government must take action to address it, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said. Spending on planning and housing services dropped by more than 50% while leisure and transport departments saw cuts of more than 40%. Researchers for the IFS said things are set to get worse as revenues from council tax and business rates are unlikely to keep pace with rising costs – particularly around social care – and increasing demand for services. “
  • Government’s ‘drastic cuts’ amount to human rights violation, UN says – Metro. “‘The social safety net has been badly damaged by drastic cuts to local authorities’ budgets, which have eliminated many social services, reduced policing services, closed libraries in record numbers, shrunk community and youth centres and sold off public spaces and buildings.”
  • Guardian Books: ‘You can tell a lot about a country by how it treats its libraries’ – Guardian. “I think you can tell a lot about a country by how it treats its library service, and a country’s leader on how they treat their authors. Authors are the canary in the coalmine for so many social issues – we can see in the fluctuations on the bestseller charts how people value their guidance on anything from women’s rights to sovereignty.”
  • Home is where the art is: Developers are including cultural amenities such as arts centres, cinemas and libraries in several new projects – Mail. “In North-West London, two libraries that were closed down have now returned under community control. Cricklewood Library was demolished to make way for flats but concerned locals examined the deeds -– which are owned by Oxford University’s All Souls College. They contained a statement declaring that there had to be a place of learning on the site. A crowdfunding campaign raised more than £100,000 to provide a modern, multi-purpose library. Similar moves were made in Kensal Rise, where a library also had deeds owned by All Souls.”
  • Libraries On The Brink Of Closure As Visitor And Staff Numbers At A Record Low – Speaker. Dudley and Wolverhampton libraries experience examined.
  • ‘Libraries protected me at my most vulnerable’: Kerry Hudson on why libraries can’t be lost – Penguin. “Lowborn author Kerry Hudson is proudly working class, but she was never proudly poor. The poverty she grew up in was grinding and often dehumanising. She shares the vital role that libraries and books played in her life, and why we must do everything in our power to protect them.”
  • Libraries resources – Arts Council England. Links to all reports produced by ACE.
  • Libraries saved me when I was vulnerable. I won’t desert them now – Big Issue. Kerry Hudson: “On Twitter I asked for stories from people from marginalised backgrounds who wouldn’t be doing what they now are without libraries. Over 200 deeply moving stories flooded in. Each was unique but many aspects of the stories overlapped, circles within circles, a Venn diagram of the true significance of libraries. Stories came from those who were in care, those from chaotic, poor or abusive households, those who were bullied, those with disabilities or mental health problems, those who were LGBT, those who just needed a place they wouldn’t be turned away from. Though many said that without those loaned books they’d have remained near uneducated or would never have gone to university, many more told me libraries also offered them desperately needed escape, safety and possibility where none existed otherwise.”
  • Library volunteers filling in for full-time staff after Tory cuts, says Labour – Mirror. “tatistics from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy show that between 2010/11 and 2017/18, the number of paid staff in libraries in England, Wales and Scotland plummeted by 7,538. In England, where the Tories were in power throughout, overall numbers dropped by 6,657 – some 35%.” … “Falls were less steep in Labour-controlled Wales where numbers declined by 19% – equating to 225 paid workers. And in Scotland, where the nationalists have been in power, the plunge was 646 paid staff – 24%. At the same time, the number of volunteers rocketed in all parts of the country.” … “Labour’s Deputy Leader, Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson, said: “Library volunteers are the last line of defence between central government cuts and losing library branches altogether. “Volunteers are important to our public libraries, but so are professional staff with the expertise to support library users’ varied needs.”
  • Middlesbrough Central Library: Hugs, sleep and Islam for Dummies – BBC. “Libraries are more than buildings with books in. They are free gateways to infinite worlds and providers of help, advice and unexpected acts of kindness. As part of We Are Middlesbrough, the BBC has been finding out how the town’s central library cares for its people.”
  • National portfolio libraries: One year on – Libraries Connected. “Earlier this month, the Arts Council hosted an event in Birmingham where the six library services who are part of their National Portfolio could share and reflect on their activities over the past year. A vast range of activities were unveiled, with each library service producing a cultural programme tailored to their local communities.”
  • Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 23rd May 2019 – They Work For You. Rupa Huq MP: “The Manic Street Preachers said “Libraries gave us power”, but since 2010, 230,000 library opening hours have been lost and 127 libraries in England have completely shut their doors. I have three under threat in my constituency. I listened to the Minister’s answer. What advice or assistance can he give Ealing Council, which is struggling to keep its statutory services going with a 64% cut from the Government, to keep these engines of social mobility alive?”. Michael Ellis MP: “I would ask Ealing Council, as with other councils, to look at local authorities that are investing in libraries. Local authorities around the country of every political hue are opening, expanding and developing libraries. The first reaction to those facing budgetary challenges ought not to be to cut cultural items, but to provide support for them, and other local authorities have proven that they can do it.”
  • New £500,000 public engagement funding programme for UK libraries now open – Carnegie UK. “The new phase of the Engaging Libraries programme, worth £500,000, will offer around twenty selected projects direct project funding alongside a range of support and opportunities to build their skills.  We hope that this programme will inspire an exciting and dynamic range of new projects and initiatives, building on the success of phase one, which ran during 2017/8.  Engaging Libraries Phase 1 highlighted the enduring unique and important role that public libraries play in local communities across the UK as free, safe and trusted spaces, ideal for facilitating discussion and debate about a wide range of challenging subjects.”
  • North Wales hospitals, GP surgeries and libraries to benefit from £7m digital boost – News from Wales. “The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has approved up to £7million for the area to make the switch from copper-based services to ‘gigabit capable’ full-fibre optic provision, as part of its Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Programme. The move will provide locations including GP surgeries, libraries, hospitals and social services with resilient, cost-effective ultrafast broadband connectivity which can be upgraded in the future as new technologies emerge.”
  • Queen’s Birthday Honours: Lancing founder of children’s Summer Reading Challenge awarded MBE – Worthing Herald. “Anne Sarrag, 55, has been included in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to improving access to reading in the UK. With a career spanning three decades, Anne is perhaps best known for her work as the co-founder of LaunchPad, a charity that worked to promote library services to children and families. ” and her work at The Reading Agency.
  • Reading SightShare the Vision. “Readingsight.org.uk, is the newly updated, one-stop shop for a range of professionals to find information that will help them to support visually and/or print impaired readers. The website relaunch comes during the annual Make A Noise in Libraries fortnight which closes tomorrow. The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Get Connected’ and libraries across the UK have organised events and raising awareness around all that they do to help people with sight loss to continue reading. The fortnight is led by Share the Vision and RNIB.”
  • A room is not just a room: The Library as shared place and why it matters to communities – Christian Lauersen. “This piece is gonna be about why public places matters, how to work with public places and to wrap it up, the library as a public shared place and why it is so important to communities. This will not be about library décor, library architrchture or library design.”
  • Twine – Free bundle of digital tools offered by Power to Change to Community Managed Libraries – Community Managed Libraries Network. “Twine allows you to log volunteer hours and visitor footfall quickly and digitally and then use this digital data to create efficient reports. It is designed overall to make reporting on volunteer and visitor stats faster and easier. It’s been designed with simplicity in mind and overall is very easy to use. “
  • Veteran librarian from Havant is made an MBE for her impressive career – Portsmouth Herald. Gillian Harris, ” ‘I am amazed and deeply humbled to be nominated for an MBE, and proud on behalf of all the many very hardworking and dedicated people I have worked alongside in my career – in Tower Hamlets and with CILIP, SLG, ILIG and Ascel”
  • Vincent the therapy rat travels to schools and libraries to help children learn to read – Metro. “Vincent is a therapy rat, heading into schools and libraries to help children learn to read. To be clear, this is not a genius rat able to sound out words and teach children about spelling and grammar. He’s there to provide comfort and a non-judgmental ear for kids who need a confidence boost when it comes to reading aloud.”

  • Welcome to Library Island – Dr Matt Finch. Full text needed for roleplay training game designed to help library staff think strategically and secure funding. See Library Island Is Here. “This interactive training activity helps participants to explore strategy, innovation, and the messy business of working with communities. We’ve spent the last two years perfecting Library Island with university staff, health workers, museum professionals, students, and, yes, librarians. The free CC-licensed print-and-play kit is now available for download in PDF format. Feel free to adopt it, adapt it, and make your own visit to Library Island.

  • Welsh Libraries at the Beating Heart of their Communities – Business News Wales. “Living Well in Wales is a nationwide initiative that brings together public libraries and partner organisations to highlight the important role libraries play at the heart of their local communities  and promote the thousands of events and activities promoting health and wellbeing held in libraries each year.”

International news

  • Australia – How libraries became tourism hotspots – Arts Hub. “Globally, libraries have been adapting. Professor Stuart Kells takes a tour of the world’s best and discovers why they are still vital.” … “So what did we learn from all this library touring? Reports of the death of the library are certainly exaggerated. People, including young people, continue to use and appreciate libraries. People are still investing in libraries, and they are still buying and reading books. But the libraries and their custodians are engaged in hot battles on multiple fronts, including the fight against underfunding and creeping volunteerism, and the epochal clash between analogue and digital content.”
  • Canada – Inter-library loans to be revived in north after outcry – Star. “Inter-library loans will resume in northern Ontario starting in June — but with the future of such loans in the southern part of the province still in limbo, it remains unclear how much of the popular service will return. And local libraries are also raising concerns about the government’s huge funding cut to the two provincial organizations that co-ordinate the book sharing, and the impact that will have on other crucial services and support the two provide.”
  • Critics of Millennium library security measures demand changes ahead of public report – CBC. “Broad and Millennium For All have spoke out against the security measures which include bag checks and handheld metal detectors since they went into place late in February. Last month, the group held a silent ‘read-in’ event in the lobby of the library near the screening area. Library management originally instituted the policy to crack down on the rise of serious violent incidents and threats which they said had increased by 75 per cent since 2013.”
  • Halifax libraries join nationwide movement towards free menstrual products -Atlantic CTV News. “Some of the products are donated by community groups, Kachan said, but the library system foots the bulk of the cost as part of its operating budget. “It’s really an extension of providing toilet paper and soap,” Kachan said. “These are basic hygiene products … that allow people to deal with the physiological realities of their day.”
  • Eire – Old tomes return home as libraries close the book on late fees – Times. “The abolition of library fines at the start of the year has led to books being returned to public libraries after decades out on loan.”
  • USA – In One Year, People Visited Public Libraries More Than a Billion Times – IMLS. “More than 171 million registered users, representing over half of the nearly 311 million Americans who lived within a public library service area, visited public libraries over 1.35 billion times in 2016.”
  • USA – Librarians Are Trying to Encourage Children to Read—by Bringing Books Straight to the Laundromat – Mother Jones. ” thousands of families are benefiting from storytimes and bookshares in laudromats across the country. Adam Echelman, executive director of Libraries Without Borders, a nonprofit that aims to bring knowledge and information to those most in need worldwide, says, “You’re able to hold programs at a time and place that really meets people where they are. You have a captive audience, families return weekly, and it’s open all the time.”
  • USA – Library Could Do Away with Overdue Fines – Loudoun Now. ““I think that … the purpose of a library is to provide free and equal access to every citizen,” said County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large).”
  • USA – Library innovation with Maxine Bleiweis and Bill Derry – Princh. “We hear about libraries that are “innovative”, but what does that really mean? What is library innovation? What makes a library innovative? Can one characteristic or initiative make a library innovative?” see also Liquid Libraries – Alcohol and Libraries – Princh.
  • Local news
  • Aberdeen – Six Minutes a Day: Aberdeen library launches reading challenge – Evening Express. “Aberdeen Reads is open to everyone and the city council is urging people to get their family and friends involved in the challenge too. It involves reading for at least six minutes every day and can include books, newspapers, magazines or other material. The project also features a number of mini challenges every week to help people explore their local libraries.”
  • Aberdeenshire – Scoop up books to win ice cream prize – Inverurie Herald. “This year, the library service is going to award one of these children the title of “Aberdeenshire Star Reader” and the winner will be awarded a prize kindly donated by Mackie’s of Scotland – £100 Book Gift Card and a year’s supply of Mackie’s Ice Cream.”
  • Barnet – Save Barnet Libraries: Campaigners ‘cautiously optimistic’ after council expands scope of review – Ham and High. “At a meeting of the town hall’s community leadership and libraries committee, the committee accepted an opposition amendment put by Labour’s Cllr Sara Conway to widen the scope of the intended review so that it now also will consider the impact of the loss of space at libraries and the impact on disabled people.”
  • Barnet Council denies library ‘cover-up’ claims – Times series. “The council has denied claims that an upcoming review of libraries involves a “cover-up” of the impact the cuts will have on disabled people and other groups. Campaigners from Save Barnet Libraries slammed a planned evaluation of the borough’s libraries as falling “far short of what is necessary” and demanded a “full and transparent inquiry” into cuts to the service.”
    • Serious concerns over Barnet libraries after shake-up – This is Local London. “Locked toilets, a dead rat and a man openly watching porn are just some of the problems recently faced by people using the borough’s libraries. They were among a range of serious concerns raised by residents and councillors calling for a far-reaching review of Barnet’s library service, which has undergone sweeping changes over the past few years.”
  • Barnsley – Library fines scrapped and debts cleared in Barnsley – Star. “From July 1 no further fines will be issued for books which are overdue and outstanding fines will also be removed, in a change which also ends the use of reservation fees for those requesting books not in stock at their local branch. The change means fines will never be issued against users of the new flagship Lightbox central library, due to open in May Day Green this summer. Councillors hope that removing fines will take away a stigma which could discourage parents from taking their children into libraries, if they have had bad experiences with being fined in the past.”
  • Bolton – Ian Savage: Why libraries matter so much for young minds – Bolton News. “The former Tesco Metro supermarket building in Market Street will be demolished and the library and health centre built on the site. The CGI images accompanying the application look pretty impressive. What particularly pleases me is that under this plan a library will remain in Little Lever.”
  • Bradford – BookStart Bear celebrates Silsden Library’s second birthday – Craven Herald and Pioneer. “Silsden’s library, which was formerly run by Bradford Council, reopened in the town hall under the management of volunteers on June 9, 2017.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Brighton librarian awarded British Empire Medal – Argus. “Her most significant achievement has been the success of the Jubilee Library in Jubilee Street, Brighton, which has been in the top six most popular of all public libraries in the country every year since it opened in 2005.”
  • Bromley – Workers at 14 libraries in Bromley to go on strike – London News Online. “Workers at 14 libraries have voted to go on strike on June 6 to protest against low pay and increased workloads caused by lack of staffing. The 14 libraries are in Bromley borough and 98 per cent of the 50 library staff voted for the day of action after a long term dispute with employers Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL).” see also Bromley library workers to strike again over pay and working conditions – News Shopper.
  • Buckinghamshire – Nationwide cuts to libraries set to hit Buckingham – Buckingham Today. “Just 12 weeks after heartily celebrating the 70th anniversary of Buckingham Town Library, staff have been told they must reapply for their jobs … Staff are having to reapply for their own jobs and there are going to be less jobs. The narrative won’t be about that and you won’t be told about that but it’s really not very good that councillors come to be photographed with the wonderful staff and then the next week they have to reapply for their jobs. You can think what you like about that but I don’t think it’s very proper.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Refurbishment of Soham Library underway along with relocation of pre-school – Ely Standard. “Council bosses say the building is set to create a new welcoming, flexible and accessible library space and support the delivery of local services. This will include Neighbourhood Cares, which helps people find the support they need locally to help them live independently. Work started at the end of April but to minimise disruption and ensure the refurbishment phase is carried out safely and efficiently, the library will be closed to the public from Friday June 7 for around four weeks.”
  • Camden – Highgate library invites residents to test out its new digital tools – News Camden. “Highgate library is giving residents the opportunity to spend time testing out brand new digital equipment, including a virtual reality headset, a 3D printer, tablets, robots, e-newspapers, new PCs, self-service kiosks and much more.”
  • Carmarthenshire – Carmarthenshire’s library service is best in Wales – South Wales Guardian. “…library service is a model for the rest of Wales, according to a Welsh Government report. The council has been praised for its commitment to the future of its library service and for its forward-thinking approach in creating a new digital learning environment alongside its more traditional offering.”
  • Conwy – Mobile and home library service could be amalgamated under Conwy proposals – Rhyl Journal. “Housebound people in Conwy could lose a service that sees library books delivered to them by council staff. Members of the county’s finance and scrutiny committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss plans that could see the mobile and home library service amalgamated. As part of the changes, some housebound residents would be asked to have family members pick up books for them.”
    • Half of county’s mobile library stops to be scrapped – North Wales Live. “People currently receiving the housebound service will continue to receive it, but new applicants for the service will be asked if they have alternative ways to access library services, such as getting the assistance of family members. In a review of services, which included a public consultation, officers have proposed that 68 of the mobile service’s 120 stops will cease in the future”
  • Cornwall – Future of St Just Library secured – Coast FM. “St Just Library has been safeguarded for the community as part of a new partnership between the town and Cornwall Council. Under the agreement the library will transfer to the town council after alterations have been completed. The town council office will be relocated in part of the library building so visitors can access a range of services in one location.”
    • Perranporth Library transferred to Perranzabuloe Parish Council – Packet. “The future of Perranporth Library has been safeguarded after a new agreement which will see it transferred to Perranzabuloe Parish Council today. The arrangement, which is part of Cornwall Council’s devolution programme, means the library will continue to provide all the key services essential to a modern library as well as access to a range of Council services. Perranporth Library is remaining part of the countywide service meaning customers will keep their existing library cards and can still visit, borrow and order books online from other libraries in Cornwall.”
  • Croydon – Libraries become sell out venues – Thornton Heath Chronicle. “Rebecca Kenny narrates Prokofiev’s symphonic which is touring four Croydon libraries including Thornton Heath Library on May 30 between 2-3.30pm.” … “The counci l has unveiled  a 10-year plan to transform the borough’s libraries into thriving cultural hubs  with investment to increase the number of books as well as  encouraging creativity from live performances to exhibitions and workshop”
    • Petition to save Croydon libraries branded ‘nonsense’ by cabinet member – Guardian series. “A petition to save four Croydon libraries has been branded a ‘nonsense campaign’ by the council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport. Last week Croydon South MP Chris Philp started a petition against “secret plans to close four libraries”. He claims that Bradmore Green (in Coulsdon), Purley, Sanderstead and Shirley libraries are all in danger of closure. But Croydon Council is adamant that it will be keeping all 13 of the borough’s libraries open.”
    • Plans to refurbish Croydon’s libraries given public backing – Guardian series. Norbury: “More than 150 people attended an open day event hosted by councillors and council staff, filling out feedback forms to contribute their opinions on proposed designs. The refurbishment, which is due to start over the summer, will include a full roof replacement, upgraded ICT, redecoration and new furniture.”
  • Cumbria – Work of Barrow library praised – Mail. “A report to county councillors said: “Barrow Central Library is a well-used community resource open to all and already attracts many community groups.” “With free WIFI and free PC usage, more people are using the library to access services and by improving the flexibility of the building to allow a better customer and community experience, it is hoped that more services and activities can continue to be delivered from this building in future.” Works costing up to £1 million are planned to redevelop the library and are currently going through the planning process.”
    • A new chapter: Shed turned into library – North West Evening Mail. Library opened in shed by volunteers after cut to mobile library service.
    • Libraries recognised for support work – News and Star. “Libraries in Carlisle and Penrith have been awarded special status. They are two of six libraries across Cumbria to receive ‘healthy status’ for their work in supporting their communities. As part of the Healthy Library Initiative, library staff were trained in mental health first aid, dementia awareness, and suicide awareness amongst others. “
  • Dorset – Help make libraries the exciting hubs that people love – Dorset Echo. “Dorset Libraries are looking for adult volunteers as part of its latest recruitment drive. ”
    • Weymouth Library will close for two weeks to undergo £550k refurb – Dorset Echo. “As reported, the town’s central library is undergoing a £550,000 refurbishment that will see other services based there. Dorset Council says the revamp – in which it will transform into a library and learning centre – is approaching the final stages. But it will have to close later this month while work is carried out. Work is said to be progressing well and the areas on the first floor are now complete with a new meeting room for community use, interview rooms, public and staff toilets including an accessible toilet and a shared office space.”
  • Durham – New cycle stations in County Durham aim to encourages bike and book lovers alike – Northern Echo. “The Durham County Council Love Reading, Love Cycling initiative encourages greener modes of transport, bringing together active travel, the joy of reading and the use of libraries as social hubs, to increase health and well-being. Belmont Library has already benefitted from the scheme, with new cycle parking installed, as well as the provision of Bike Easy books and special bike seat covers to anyone using the bike stands.”
  • Ealing – Council selling books from libraries in Ealing for just 7p – My London. “Council figures show that since February last year 6,286 books were sold to Revival, a company that specialises in on-selling, rehoming and recycling old books. In exchange the council received £440.02.Campaigners trying to save Ealing’s seven threatened libraries have voiced concern about the sales.”
    • Akuba Reads ‘Hands Off’ @ Greenford SOS Library March, May 2019 – Akuba. “Akuba (Grace Quansah) reads a second version of ‘Hands Off’ at the Greenford Library March to Save Seven Libararies in the borough of Ealing from threatened closures.  There is also a small snippet of footage of the March, credited to Oliver New”
  • East Riding of Yorkshire – Summer of rockets and reading as libraries blast off for Space Chase challenge – Bridlington Free Press.
  • Edinburgh – Corstorphine Library closing for a few days – Edinburgh Reporter. “Corstorphine Library will close on Saturday 22 June 2019 for planned internal plasterwork repairs to take place and will reopen on Wednesday 26 June.”
  • Essex – Parents and children march against proposed library closure – East Anglian Daily Times. 70 march for Coggeshall Library:  “On Saturday, May 18, marchers met at Honywood School before walking to St Peter’s Primary School and continuing to the library where they enjoyed some funny children’s poems from poet and author Anne Boileau. ”
    • Austerity threatening our right to protest peacefully – Gazette Standard/Letters. “Essex Police is using the most underhand tactics to prevent legal, democratic, and peaceful protest marches taking place as their response to cuts. I have been involved in the organisation of protest marches in Essex going back to the Eighties and Essex Police had only ever been highly cooperative.”
    • Author Jacqueline Wilson backs campaign against Essex library closures – Southend Standard.
    • Authors, poets and journalists slam library closure plan -Times series. “Children’s book author Michael Rosen has joined the growing list of prestigious writers who have voiced their concerns against Essex County Council’s proposal to close up to 44 libraries in the county Michael shared his views on Twitter after seeing a video of an 11-year-old library user rallying crowds at the Young People’s March for Libraries in Colchester and then responded in a post.” AL Kennedy, Jojo Meyes and Kes Gray also respond.
    • Campaigner’s bid to have MPs discuss library axe plans – Gazette News. “Mr Walker, leading a group of 35 campaigners, has secured approval to launch a petition to the Government. The petition, which will be considered for debate in Parliament should it reach 100,000 signatures, is looking for an increase in funding for library services.”
    • David Baddiel and Michael Rosen back Essex libraries campaign – BBC. “Essex-born singer Billy Bragg has also tweeted his support on social media, as well as children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson. Essex photographer Tessa Hallmann took pictures of the celebrities holding placards supporting the cause.”
    • Manningtree library campaigner at Chelmsford march – Standard series. “Manningtree campaigners joined 700 protesters as they took to the streets of Chelmsford to march on County Hall on Saturday.”
    • Only people who want to close libraries are Tory county councillors – Halstead Gazette / Letters. “The only people who seem to support closures are the Conservative county councillors, all of whom have now voted against three motions that would have saved the libraries.” … “It was sad that not a single Conservative councillor or MP came to the march to hear first hand from children, poets and regular people about why a library is important to them”
    • Priti Patel hits out at Essex County Council over libraries axe plan – Gazette Standard. ““I am furious so many libraries in my constituency face the prospect of closure and since the proposals were published in November. “I have been in extensive correspondence with Essex County Council to make clear my serious concerns and throughout this period I have been consulting parish councils across the constituency to look at ways to save our libraries. “21,000 people responded to the consultation, demonstrating the strength of feeling there is against these closures.”
    • UK authors rally to save Essex libraries – Books and Publishing.
  • Flintshire – Delyn’s Assembly Member says library investment will boost ‘education and culture offer’ – Leader. “Flint Library is one of four libraries in Wales to benefit from nearly £1 million Welsh Government capital funding to develop and enhance their facilities and services. The Transformation Capital Grant Programme is supporting, museums, archives and libraries to transform services for users, and ensure their future sustainability. Hannah Blythyn AM said: “This is really good news for Flint Library and the Welsh Government investment in Flint is most welcome.”
  • Gateshead – Three Gateshead libraries to be transferred to community organisations that run them – Chronicle Live. Rowlands Gill, Whickham and Fellng: “the volunteer groups are set to be offered short term leases of the buildings. According to a report due to be heard by cabinet next week the lease will be “on a full repairing and insuring basis” and rent free.”
  • Gloucestershire – People who can’t visit local library could have books delivered to their homes by electric vehicle – Gloucestershire Live. “A new hybrid or electric vehicle would be bought to deliver pre-ordered books to residents who cannot visit their local library due to physical disabilities or lack of transport. The delivery vehicle would also be used to drop off and pick up books to various collection points in Gloucestershire.” … “There is an existing mobile library which delivers books to residents across Gloucestershire, but the county council said it needs repairs totalling £28,000 and cannot guarantee is would remain roadworthy.”
    • Gloucestershire libraries join #Bookface campaign – BBC. “Libraries across Gloucestershire have been merging books with staff members for the #Bookface campaign. The initiative is designed to encourage people to use their local libraries whilst having fun at the same time. Staff members go to great lengths to match their look to characters on the covers of their favourite books to make the photos look as realistic as possible.”
  • Hampshire – Libraries and social services under threat in new £80m spending cuts drive – Advertiser and Times. “The latest suggestions include shutting libraries and increasing reliance on volunteers, adding fees for parking at country parks, turning off streetlights for longer, and extending charges for non-household waste at recycling centres.”
  • Hertfordshire – Hertfordshire Librarian recognised in Queen’s Honours – Hertfordshire Libraries. “Under his leadership, Hertfordshire Libraries were one of the first in the country to have self-service and Wi-Fi across all sites, as well as helping to develop volunteer-partnered libraries”
  • Lancashire – Use it or lose it: Friends of Fulwood Library out to revitalise Preston library – Lancashire Post. “Thankfully reopened a year later following a change in political stewardship at County Hall, Fulwood Library now has a new support group at the helm, a group of bibliophiles ready and willing to turn what has proved to be a well-loved library into even more of a community hub. Enter, the Friends of Fulwood Library. Established as part of a Lancashire County Council initiative, the group aims to promote the library’s myriad events, as well as the sheer pleasure of reading. Now boasting around 40 members, the Friends of Fulwood Library launched their group with an event last month, signalling their intent to get Fulwood reading and using the library more and more with an afternoon of poetry, music, activities, and refreshments.”
    • Chatburn Library set to reopen … three years after it closed – Clitheroe Advertiser. “Book lovers will be delighted to hear Chatburn Library is set to be reopened with a special event on July 1st by County Coun. Albert Atkinson. At a recent meeting, cabinet agreed a proposal to reopen the library and reinstate the running of it from Chatburn C of E Primary School, on Sawley Road. Work needed at the school to make it suitable for use as a library started on May 7th. Under the previous administration 26 of the county’s 73 libraries were closed towards the end of 2016”
  • Lincolnshire – Libraries smash two-million lending target – Skegness Standard. “Over the past 12 months, a record two million items, including books, e-books and DVDs, have been borrowed from Lincolnshire’s 15 core libraries, mobile libraries and e-services, a rise of 3 per cent, smashing previous records. In addition, 2018/19 has seen more than 5,000 events held within the county’s core libraries, attended by over 68,000 local people. Some of the most popular activities have included a Harry Potter Book Night and the Summer Reading Challenge, designed to engage more people with the joys of reading through imaginative activities and fun costumed events. The Book Bingo family reading challenge, which invited families to read a range of books from suggested categories to be in with a chance of winning a prize, involved nearly 400 families and highlighted the benefits of inter-generational reading.”
  • Merton – Nearly 100k granted to Merton libraries to improve special needs facilities – Wimbledon Guardian. “The project is being funded by a £94,826 Arts Council England grant”
  • Northamptonshire – Dementia day care centre to move out of Higham Ferrers due to library closure – Northants Telegraph. “Cando Care, which provides care and social activities for 16 people five days a week, is set to move out of its current location in Midland Road, Higham Ferrers, and set up 2.5 miles away at Irthlingborough library after Northamptonshire County Council decided to stop providing a library service in the town. Last week the community group proposing to take over the library decided to step down, saying the financial commitment being asked by the council was too much.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library helpers celebrated during Volunteers Week – North Yorkshire County Council. “From hosting under-5s storytimes to delivering books to housebound customers, volunteers are vital to the running of libraries.”
    • Council warned to fulfill statutory library duty – Craven Herald. “A council which saved £1.4m by handing over 33 libraries to varying levels of community responsibility has been warned it must continue to fulfil its statutory duty. A review on the second anniversary of the North Yorkshire County Council cost-cutting measure has found while the changes have led to library opening hours increasing, maintaining the services with volunteers was of “greatest concern”. A report to the authority’s corporate and partnerships overview and scrutiny committee has found since the changes were introduced in 2017 library opening hours across the county have increased.”
    • Libraries honoured during Volunteers Week – North Yorkshire News Room. “Grassington hub and community library has been named North Yorkshire’s library of the year”
    • Praise for vital services of community libraries – Gazette Herald. “Helmsley, Norton Hive and Derwent Valley Bridge in West Ayton were among those recognised by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC). The awards were announced by the chair of NYCC, Councillor Jim Clark, during a series of events he attended to celebrate Volunteers Week. Cllr Clark said: “I have been privileged during Volunteers Week to meet so many people who generously give their time and skills to support their communities in so many ways.”
    • Knaresborough Library launches autism friendly chill out room – Harrogate Advertiser. “Toys, mood lighting, and a dark tent are among the autism friendly equipment on offer in a new chill out room at the popular facility. The area, funded by The Forest of Knaresborough Masonic Lodge, will be used every Friday from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. It is also available on request at other times.”
    • North Yorkshire council’s pledge to continue support for libraries – Darlington and Stockton Times. “The statement by North Yorkshire County Council, which saved £1.4m by handing over 33 libraries to varying levels of community responsibility two years ago, followed a number of concerns being raised over the authority fulfilling its duty under the Public Libraries Act to run a service which takes account of the needs of communities … A meeting of the council’s corporate and partnerships overview and scrutiny committee heard while library opening hours across the county had increased since the changes, the improved service had come at an extra cost to residents despite the county council providing support staff”
  • Nottingham – Internationally acclaimed architects appointed to design Nottingham’s new Central Library – West Bridgford Wire. “the Council wants to feature the best children’s library in country.”
  • Oxfordshire – Charlbury Library hugely popular since community centre move – Oxford Mail. “New membership applications at Charlbury Library increased by 44 per cent in its first year in operation, while 2,219 items were issued on Sundays alone. Meanwhile, since moving to the town’s community centre in 2017, the library’s self-service machine usage has increased by 65 per cent.”
  • Salford – Salford council scraps overdue library book fines, saying it doesn’t want readers and families to ‘worry’ about daily charge – Manchester Evening News. “Salford council hope the move will open up the city’s libraries to all and said it didn’t want readers to ‘worry’ about incurring daily charge …The move in Salford comes at a time when town halls across the country are shutting library doors to save money. The city however has invested in its services and resisted any notion of closures. It’s hoped the move, which came into force on Saturday, would also increase membership and the city’s book offer.”
  • Shetland – Library lending rate best in Scotland – Shetland News. “Shetland Library has the highest booking lending rate per capita in Scotland – and the second highest in the UK. The figures were revealed as part of the Lerwick library’s performance update for April 2018 to March this year. Visitor numbers were up by 8.27 per cent as the library enjoyed increased footfall for a fourth year running. There were a total of 155,064 physical visits during the year, while a total of 5,532 people borrowed books. Issues of eAudio books were up by 187 per cent, while library van users increased by 4.6 per cent. A customer satisfaction survey heralded results of 93 per cent – down by three per cent on the previous year. Social media, meanwhile, was another boon for the library, which has previously hit the headlines for its joshing with the Orkney Library.” … “Fraser added that only Richmond upon Thames (5,279 loans per 1,000 population) bettered Shetland (5,159 loans per 1,000 population) when it came to loan rates in Britain.”
  • Staffordshire – Community inspired art showcased in a new exhibition – Staffordshire Newsroom. ACE funded project involving Staffordshire, Warwickshire & Leicestershire.
    • Glascote Library comes to life with ‘Libraries Live’ scheme – Birmingham Live. Staffordshire uses ACE funding of theatre show to suggest volunteer libraries are “there for everyone”.
    • Queen’s Birthday Honours for Staffordshire – Staffordshire News Room. “An MBE was also awarded to Sue Ball, who has worked in Staffordshire’s public libraries for more than 30 years. Currently responsible for strategy and policy in Staffordshire, in recent years she has overseen the transfer of Stafford and Newcastle town centre libraries into new premises.”
  • Suffolk – Has the bedtime story lost its place in the digital world? – East Anglian Daily Times. “Suffolk librarian and head of service deliveries Krystal Vittles shares some of the great bedtime reads out at the moment – and they are all in stock at Suffolk libraries.” … “Krystal Vittles, head of service delivery at Suffolk Libraries, said: “This isn’t about demonising technology as it has its place when it comes to helping children learn. However, this must be done in moderation and it’s about understanding the right time and place for tech.”
    • Clare library to shut for refurbishment Enjoy Sudbury More. “The facility, in Clare High Street, will be shut between July 1 and 8 for work to improve children’s facilities and provide better storage. The refurbishment has been paid for by developer contribution funds and fundraising from the Friends of Clare Library.”
    • Do you take books out of your local library? – East Anglian Daily Times. “Information collated through a Freedom of Information request has shown that a select group of authors have proved popular with Suffolk readers in the past five years.
The data tracked the top 5 books loaned out of Suffolk’s libraries from the years 2014-2018 and also included data from January to May this year.”
  • Swindon – Justin Tomlinson – Swindon Advertiser. “Last week, I was delighted to host the national launch of the incredibly popular Summer Reading Challenge. This is the fifth time I’ve hosted the event in Parliament and it was brilliant to see dozens of MPs from all of the different political parties coming together to champion this fantastic cause.”
  • Wakefield – Get your free crime book and join the Big Read heading north to a library near you – Wakefield Express. “Thanks to his publisher, Orion, 1,500 free copies of the book are available and can be collected at any participating library plus the Harrogate International Festival Office now.”
  • Warrington – Library to close two months to prepare for new life – Warrington Worldwide. “Stockton Heath  Library will be closed for two months while redevelopment work is carried out in readiness for the building’s new life.” … “Not so long ago, Stockton Heath Library was threatened with closure, along with other libraries across the borough. But after a “save our libraries” campaign, plans were drawn up to widen the building’s usage and extend its role in the community. The plans, developed by the South Warrington Libraries Working Group; and SWISH (Friends of the South Warrington Library in Stockton Heath), include: • Upgrading the building for provision of rental areas to ensure income streams • Widening the scope of community engagement with library provision and activities • Adapting the library to better accommodate the range of local needs/disabilities such as dementia or sensory disability • Increasing the building flexibility to extend the potential range of activities, such as literary events or cultural presentations.”
    •  Learning ‘comes to life’ thanks to new augmented reality books Warrington Worldwide. “LiveWire has run a number of recent public workshops at its libraries to introduce library users to the augmented reality technology and books – that feature topics including dinosaurs, extinct animals, ocean predators – with space and science-focused titles coming soon”
  • West Sussex – Shoreham Library 50th Anniversary in pictures – Shoreham Herald.
  • Worcestershire – Pictures: Protestors take to the streets of St Johns against library cuts – Worcester News. “The group, which gathered outside St John’s Library, formed a group and marched through the streets of St John’s to the traffic lights, then performed a lap around the back of the St John in Bedwardine church before arriving back at the library. ”
    • Campaign group celebrates news that Worcester libraries will be saved – Worcester News. “Sean McCauley, who organised the various protests, said: “We are delighted that the library is safe for the time being. “That being said, we would like assurances that the decision to save St John’s and Warndon has not come at the expense of libraries anywhere else in the county.”
    • New library cash vow is welcomed – Worcester Observer. “County council chiefs have welcomed the decision by Worcester City Council to approve £157,000 a year to fund the running costs of both St John’s and Warndon libraries. The future of several of Worcestershire’s libraries have been heavily discussed over the last few months, as almost 2,000 residents had their say on the future of libraries as part of the County Council’s public consultation.”

Someone who should know better in Stroud

Editorial

Yet more “purdah”, where councils needs to be careful about what they say, due to the European elections, so it’s been a quiet fortnight. It looks, on balance, like a good couple of weeks for libraries, with no major cuts outside of Fife and a loss of a mobile in Redbridge. So I’ll include my response to a tweet from someone who should really know better in Stroud.

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EveryLibrary and Digital Hubs

Editorial

A quiet week locally due to the elections but two things stand out. One is the partnership with CILIP and EveryLibrary, partly ACE funded, to advocate for public libraries. EveryLibrary are a US campaign group that runs campaigns there to boost library funding, with some success. How their style will work over here is interesting. I’ve already received an email from them asking for money for the project, something which I’ve not seen in the sector before. Perhaps this is something we need. The other thing is digital health hubs. This is the NHS rolling out some services into the high street, including public libraries. The sector has been eyeing NHS cash for years and, with our neutral/welcoming and everywhere selling points, we have something to sell. Hopefully this will be the start of a nice friendship.

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National news

  • Advocating for public libraries – Arts Council England. “As the Arts Council takes the lead on the work of the Libraries Taskforce, its Chair Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of Warrington Borough Council, looks to the future of libraries and how the Taskforce partners can help shape it.” … “The Libraries Taskforce partners are working together more closely than ever before to achieve an impact on the sector that that will drive the core agenda and help library services to grow and develop. We are adamant that libraries must remain a focus for the decision makers in local and national government and that, in working together by harnessing our collective expertise and brokering power, we can help achieve this.”
  • British Library teams up with ten London boroughs to support entrepreneurs across the capital – London Post. “The British Library’s Business & IP Centre today celebrates the launch of a major new initiative, Start-ups in London Libraries, a three-year project to support London’s entrepreneurs from all walks of life to get their business idea off the ground. This coordinated network of free support for start-ups will officially launch in over 60 public libraries this month, in partnership with ten London borough”
  • CILIP and EveryLibrary Institute announce new partnership for libraries  – EveryLibrary Institute. “CILIP, the UK’s library and information association and the US-based Charitable Non-profit, the EveryLibrary Institute have announced an innovative new partnership to help librarians and information professionals across England build political support and improve future funding for libraries. The new partnership will harness the skills and networks of both organizations to transform the ability of public libraries to engage and demonstrate public support. Thanks to a generous grant from the Arts Council England, the project will allow CILIP to provide a new GDPR-compliant digital advocacy platform for library supporters. The EveryLibrary Institute will collaborate with CILIP and library sector organizations to allow them to:”
  • Digital health hub rolled out across more areas following pilot success – NHS Digital. “A digital health hub piloted in Nailsea has proved to be such a success that the NHS is scaling it up across England, as demand increases from councils in North West London, the Wirral, Blackburn, Middlesbrough and Stafford. 65 High Street, known as ‘Nailsea Place’, is a digital health and wellbeing learning centre. The local venue, which was established in 2018, has become a trusted place on the high street where staff and volunteers can help people to improve their digital skills and confidence, so they can engage with online services. ” … “This second wave of hubs will be in Blackburn with Darwen Library, Staffordshire Refugee Centre (ASHA), a community centre in Saltburn and the Grenfell victims support centre in NW London. “

“In view of  the publication of these documents , the development of “65 High Street, Nailsea” and the forthcoming  creation by Govt.  of a Taskforce on “The Future of the High Street”,, CILIP could do well to bring together a few like minded  Health and Library  Professionals  via the internet  to  prepare  to make a positive contribution to the Taskforce on The Future of the High Street  once it is  formed”. Dr Malcolm Rigler (via email. Contact him via email m.rigler at nhs.net).

  • Digital Public Service Innovation of the Year – Digital Leaders. One of the organisations one can vote for is Somerset Libraries. “The Somerset Digital Skills Talent Academy has delivered eight inspirational hands-on workshops in Taunton Library, showcasing digital skills and cutting-edge technology to groups of secondary school students. Delivered by the private sector in partnership with Somerset Libraries, sessions included film/animation; Robotics and coding; Virtual and Augmented Reality and 3D Printing and Scanning”
  • Libraries Week 2019: Why this year’s event is more important than ever – Lorensbergs. “This year’s Libraries Week will be Celebrating Libraries in a Digital World and it couldn’t be a more timely theme. For the second year running, our public library survey results indicate that libraries are seeing more and more people come in for help with digital skills and services. Almost 50% reported an increase, with most of the remainder seeing stable demand for this support (only one library authority reported a decrease).”
  • Telephone red kiosks become home to mini-libraries, information centre and defibrillators – Denbighshire Free Press. “BT is offering communities across Wales the opportunity to adopt their local phone box for just £1 to turn them into something inspirational for their local area. ” … ” exciting new ventures include conversions to mini-libraries, miniature art museums, cake shops and information centres. “

International

  • Australia – Lost Property clothing library is a brilliant solution to wasteful fashion – Treehugger. “Lost Property is one of these brilliant new clothing libraries. Based in Fremantle, Australia, it is on a mission to fight fast fashion and conquer wardrobe clutter, while still allowing people to indulge their desire for new and trendy styles. “
  • Canada – Halifax Public Libraries cooks up new approach to tackle food insecurity – CBC. “Dahl said for a long time, many librarians kept a box of granola bars in their desks for children who were hungry … The libraries now offer healthy snacks for kids after school and to adults through their “Snack Social” events. … Two kitchens are also going to open later this spring at the Halifax Central Library and the Sackville Public Library to better equip the facilities to offer food workshops.”
  • Global – Building Global Networks for Libraries with Marie Østergaard and R. David Lankes – Princh. “Marie starts the conversations by stating that libraries do not compete with one another, neither for money nor for visitors. As such, a global network is a great opportunity to gather knowledge and ideas from other libraries on how to serve your community better. She also draws attention to Public Libraries 2030 (PL 2030), a Europe-wide attempt to make libraries connect easier.”
  • Malaysia – 10 Stunning Libraries In Malaysia That Will Make Every Book Lover Happy – Says.
  • USA – Library Systems Report 2019 – American Libraries. ” The public library sector has not yet experienced a significant new cycle of innovation. It remains reliant on ILSes that are modified to fill in the gaps required to support critical integrations in ebook lending and other digital offerings. One of the key concerns for public libraries is whether they are poised to enter a disruptive cycle of innovation or if the current pattern of incremental advance­ment will continue.”
  • USA – Jessamyn West on Intellectual Freedom, Creepy Basements, and the Library as a Safe Space – Bookmarks. “libraries also act as a public space, where you can interact with all the public, in a society that is increasingly stratified and where people may only be interacting with people who are “like them” in some regard. You can get things you want to read/watch/view or do, in addition to just having access to things you need. And we’re paid for, public libraries are, by the public. We’re here for you. We won’t rat you out to ICE, we let you read whatever the heck you want, even if you’re a kid, and we offer a warm and safe space with wifi and a clean bathroom where you can be yourself. Obviously not every single library is like this, but it’s what we as a profession aspire to.

Local news by authority

  • Cornwall – Future of Launceston Library safeguarded for the community – Holsworthy Post. “The future of Launceston Library has been safeguarded for the community after a new agreement which will see it transferred to Launceston Town Council on May 1.” … “Launceston Library is remaining part of the countywide service meaning customers will keep their existing library cards and can still visit, borrow and order books online from other libraries in Cornwall.”
  • Denbighshire – Denbigh and Ruthin libraries urge residents to get creative – Free Press. “A series of libraries in Denbighshire are set to take part in Get Creative Week, the annual celebration of cultural activity in Great Britain which encourages people to try their hand at something creative and new in their community.”
  • Essex – Families call for ‘community hub’ to be spared the axe – Clacton Gazette. Despite major protests, Essex still pushing for volunteer libraries. “The campaign continues to positively reach out to Essex County Council and hopes it will change its mind when analysing the value for money the library provides.”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what representations he has received on Essex county council’s proposed closure of its libraries. Tom Watson, Shadow DCMS

“DCMS has received a number of representations from local people and bodies about Essex County Council’s proposed Future Library Services Strategy for 2019 to 2024. The Council consulted on this from 29 November 2018 to 21 February 2019. DCMS officials are in regular contact with Essex County Council officers to discuss its libraries proposals and the importance of it meeting its statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. We understand that the Council is currently analysing the responses to the consultation and their aim is to finalise the strategy and present to their Cabinet in Summer 2019. Michael Ellis MP, DCMS”

  • Manningtree streets filled with library protestors – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Hundreds of people took the streets of Manningtree to take part in a noisy protest march against proposed cuts to libraries. The Young People’s march saw children, their parents and other campaigners join together to march from the methodist church in South Street to the town’s library in High Street. Protestors donned fancy dress costumes and musical instruments to make their voices heard.”
  • Mum praises ‘amazing show of community spirit’ in children’s march against library closures – East Anglian Daily Times. “… hundreds of children turning out on the streets, with 400 people taking part in the march in Manningtree. Mum-of-two Holly Turner, who organised placard-making workshops before the Manningtree march, said: “Owners and staff from businesses lined the streets to cheer us on and on return the children filled the stage to chant and sing.
  • Will councillor you vote for fight to keep Essex libraries open? – Halstead Gazette / Letters. “Although I realise Colchester borough councillors have no power or control over Essex Libraries, I appreciate that many local people are outraged at Essex County Council’s proposal to close about 60 per cent of our Essex libraries including Prettygate, Stanway, Wivenhoe, West Mersea and Tiptree and wish to elect local councillors who share their views and will fight to keep these libraries open. With this in mind, I emailed all the group leaders of the political parties that are fielding candidates in the forthcoming Colchester Council elections, plus the independent candidates, to ask them to endorse the above aims of Sole so the electorate know this when deciding to whom they should cast their vote on May 2.”
  • Herefordshire – Library launches new ebook service – Bromsgrove Advertiser. Borrowbox.
  • Lancashire – Harris creates special space in heart of city – Lancashire Post. “Time does not quite stand still, but as befits its location, the city’s Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library, the step back in time allows you to enjoy spacious surroundings and a new view of the city. The cause for celebration? None other than the library’s one time reading room and more recently its community history library. It officially reopened last Friday as the re-named Heritage Reading Room and the change for those who will remember the former reading room is immense.”
  • Lewisham – The Library: An oasis for me and my daughter Save Lewisham Libraries. “Recently, on a trip to the opticians, my daughter had a complete meltdown. I stood while tears and snot and shouting happened. These events can leave you feeling drained and helpless. Once she had calmed down she elected to go to the library, a place where she feels safe and secure and where she can read, her mechanism to help her cope with life. I walked in and was greeted by a smiling face of a lovely librarian who knows both of us. She had been thinking of us as she had recently checked in a book that she thought my daughter would enjoy. Suddenly, the world felt a much better place. It may have been a small event for the librarian, but it was life affirming for me.”
  • Northamptonshire – Update on library consultation and future service – Northamptonshire County Council.
  • Sheffield – Thousands of pounds in fines for overdue library items – Star. “Since 2011, the council has collected £511,786 in overdue fines for books, DVDs and music.” … “Green councillor Martin Phipps asked about the charges through a written question to the council. He said: “Trafford Council recently abolished late fee fines to try to make their libraries more accessible and well-used and I think this is something we should definitely be looking at.”
  • Suffolk – Skulduggery in Stowmarket could be back in 2020, Suffolk Libraries confirm – Bury Free Press. “Library chiefs are hopeful of attracting more readers into crime fiction after ‘amazing feedback’ from the second Skulduggery in Stowmarket. More than 300 attended talks at Stowmarket Library last weekend from authors including: Charlie Haylock, Jaqueline Beard, Barbara Nadel and Kate Rhodes.” 
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Facelift for Penarth Library – Glamorgan GEM. “Changes to the library’s first floor will include replacing water-damaged carpets and wall plaster, as well as repainting the walls. The area will be reshaped to improve its study facilities, and new furniture and shelving will be introduced. Essential maintenance is also due to be carried out during the refurbishment, including the creation of an exit onto the roof so that gutter may be cleared and inspected regularly. This is following a recent drone investigation, which revealed that gutters overwhelmed with debris were the cause of significant water damage to the library’s interior.”

Purdah and the Commonwealth

Editorial

It’s election week and I know what purdah means so I’m going to keep this simple: read Leon’s article, look at the articles and then re-read Leon’s article on The Library Commonwealth. Thank you.

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Happy second retirement Jim Brooks

Editorial

Not all of you will know about Jim but he has been one of the most significant figures in public libraries for over a decade. He was until a week or two ago the Chairman of Little Chalfont Community Library in Buckinghamshire. Yes, one of the very first of the wave of volunteer libraries that since then have swept the country. Little Chalfont and its sister libraries were faced with closure back in the old days of 2006, years before austerity. Rather than just closing, the communities there took a different route and fought the council to keep them open, first as volunteer libraries despite council resistance and then with their support. It was the reported success of these libraries that played a persuasive part in councils encouraging more volunteer libraries when the cuts really started hitting four or five years later. Jim, along with others, provided his experience to other services but was always clear that he’d prefer the library service first and foremost to be council run.  He received a MBE for his service way back in 2011 and has been helpful ever since.

So, that was unexpected wasn’t it? Me paying tribute to a library volunteer. But the thing is Jim and the others are not the ones to blame for the destruction of many a paid library job in the last decade. They do their best to keep open the libraries they love and are in many respects the biggest supporters of the library. No, the ones to blame were and are those pushing austerity, and the electorate who voted them in, who decided to cut public service budgets by so much. Many councils have had their staffing cut by a third or a half – not just in libraries but for all of it – and the bloom in volunteers has been a reaction to that. Volunteers have not been an unmixed blessing, goodness knows. They have split campaigners right down the middle and they’re not as well-trained or skilled as paid staff can be. I could write whole essays on the cons and pros and have once or twice. But, in the communities where they’ve occurred, they have kept libraries open. And I refuse to blame them for that not least because councils have blackmailed so many of them. “Volunteer or the library closes” is the unspoken message I see time and again. And least of all people like Jim who have given over a decade of their retirement to keep a library serving its public.  wish him every luck and good fortune in his second retirement, away from Little Chalfont, where he will finally be able to do some travelling.

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The Library Book, The Public and the Mighty Ducks

Editorial

I’m a sucker for books and films telling me how great libraries are. One of the best books I’ve read recently is The Library Book by Susan Orlean, due to a number of factors. The first is, of course, the fact that the author clearly loves libraries but also there is the ongoing whodunnit thread of who burnt the library as well as it being an introduction to the US library system both now and the past. For this reason also, I’m looking forward to watching The Public. Mind you, I’ve always liked Emilio Estevez, even in the Mighty Ducks. You can always tell it’s been quiet news week (Brexit? Local elections?) when I slip in a film or a book in the editorial. Don’t tell anyone …

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That London Library By Euston

Editorial

Interesting to see that the British Library, based almost entirely in one big city in the South East of England, is considering opening up a “British Library North” in Leeds. About time, as anyone can attest who has had to travel hundreds of mile to visit a place that apparently serves the whole nation but in fact is almost entirely based in London and charges the heck (or, in BL terms, “full cost recovery”) out of other libraries (don’t dare use the word “provincial”, you hear me?) to borrow something it got given for free. It’s been good to see the British Library start to wake up to its wider role in the last few years, with 13 business and intellectual property centres in libraries around the country and a group of 22 library services (out of more than 200) it works with on some projects, but there’s a lot more that it could do before I stop thinking of it in my mind as “That London Library By Euston”.

Great to see more fines being removed, with one authority going fine-free and two more removing children’s fines. Something more confusing was the debt that York Explore somehow ended up owing to the council but, that’s OK, because the council is paying them an extra amount of money to allow Explore to pay it back. I think. My head hurts.

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151 becomes 150, social media and one more fine-free

Editorial

Although the last ten years have been pretty darn tumultuous ones for public libraries, one thing has been constant – the number of public library services in England being 151. That is going to change on 1 April, when Bournemouth and Poole formally unite (along with Christchurch) to become the 150th – or first, depending, on how one looks at it – library service. I understand that the publicity from the new council on its creation will feature libraries, which is great. Best of wishes to them.

It seems like barely a PLN post goes by without another library service announcing it is going fine-free and this one is not going to go against the trend: Bridgend’s libraries will become the first in Wales to take the step on 1 April. Not so wonderful is another Welsh trusts in Blaenau Gwent which, if I’m reading the news report correctly, spent money earmarked by the council for books on other things it needed instead. Hmm, not so impressive. Finally, a big thanks to Caitlin Murphy who has kindly answered a few questions on her role in social media for London Libraries below.

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It’s an honour

Editorial

Good to see computers being replaced in Lancashire this week but, overall, the Huddington Post estimates an impressive 4000 public computers have been lost since 2010. Perhaps if public libraries were more respected then not so many would have been killed. Libraries Connected have a plan about that, wanting to encourage more people to be nominate especially impressive public librarians for the Honours List. You can read about it below, and my thoughts on why you should in a separate post. Another MBE here or BEM there won’t make all the difference of course but it can’t hurt. What will make a difference is yourselves, working hard to make your library services as good as possible and spreading the news that libraries are worth more than any honour.

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If not now, when? Plus a fair bit of good news

Editorial

A fair amount of good news today. In a subject close to my heart – not least because I’ve seen children cry and people walk away from libraries over the issue – another library service, Blackpool,  has announced that it will get rid of all fines. That makes nine services in the UK so far and I understand that there’s a lot of interest out there from other ones as well. The debate about practicality of waiving fines seems to be over before it even started: the time has come for getting rid of fining your customers,  it’s just working out how to fund it.  In other news, Powys has backed down from £200k cuts thus continuing the tradition of Welsh and Scottish councils being more willing to change their minds on the issue than their English counterparts. Cambridge has scrapped new computer charges after noticing they were only making one tenth of the expected income, due to, well, the people who use them not having tons of money. And a Suffolk library is being refurbished and having its opening hours extended. It’s a joy to report on libraries today frankly. My thanks also to Liz Gardner for taking the time in this post to explain the idea and practice behind having video bedtime stories. It strikes me as a really good and duplicatable idea. Get on it, Public Libraries News readers.

Finally, it’s the couple of weeks of the national library petition. It’s got nearly 33,000 signatures already but could do with a ton more. Get on it, sign it and tell people you know how important it is. Because, of if not now, when?

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