National election called: public librarians know which way they will be voting

Editorial

So, an election has been called. The British public can now decide on who they think is best to govern them. On hearing the news, I immediately ran a poll to see which political party the nice people on Twitter who follow me think should win. The result wasn’t really open to interpretation. I could be wrong but I think a 87.3% vote for Labour would mean they take government. Out of 142 votes, the Conservatives and Lib Dems tied on five or six votes each, with Reform getting none. Twitter polls only allow four options so I went with the biggest polling parties but responses suggest that the Greens would have got a good showing if they had been included. Clearly, not many Reform voters – shocker – follow me, as they received zero votes.

Last week’s editorial suggested the Single Digital Presence / LibraryOn received £3m of budget in the last three years. I have been contacted since then with more accurate figures. The project actually received £3.4m of funding but £1.54m was for direct grants to library services. I was heartened to be told in the same email that ACE and the DCMS have not lost their ambition for a single library card but, considering there are 153 very independent councils and the move would be voluntary then the challenge will be considerable. If not impossible. Perhaps a new Labour Government could do better, however much of a hard act to follow this – checks notes from Conservative Central Office – uber-competent, stable and well-loved Conservative Government will be.

Changes by authority

National news

Hi, I’m Maddie, a Masters student researching green libraries and environmental education and am looking for public librarians to interview. If you’re interested in participating or want more details, please contact me at 22560062@stu.mmu.ac.uk Thank you

Email received
  • Public Libraries as Social Innovators – Public Library Quality. “This reflects a change in service logic, moving away from the mobilization of technical capabilities in a low interactivity context and toward the mobilization of human capabilities in a high interactivity context. Public libraries now stand as social innovators in that their activities modify interaction patterns among individuals.”
Britain’s Got Talent : “Robert Statham gives an unexpectedly brilliant book-themed rap for the Judges, and even Alesha can’t resist singing along.”. Includes a “book drop” at the end.

International news

Palestine
  • USA – Donnelly Public Library will become adults-only to comply with new ‘library porn’ law – Boise State Public Radio. “Donnelly Public Library will no longer allow anyone under 18 to visit unless accompanied by a parent starting July 1. That’s due to the implementation of House Bill 710 passed earlier this year, which requires all libraries – both public and private – to relocate a book to an adults-only section within 60 days of receiving a written complaint. If the library declines to do so, it could face a civil lawsuit under the law. That comes with a mandatory $250 fine for the library and plaintiffs could receive uncapped damages. “Our size prohibits us from separating our ‘grown up’ books to be out of the accessible range of children,” the library’s statement reads, noting it’s only 1,024 square feet.”
    • Jodi Picoult: ‘It’s not a badge of honour to be banned’ – BBC. “Picoult said her books My Sister’s Keeper and Nineteen Minutes were affected by the bans.” … “She said the reason Nineteen Minutes, which is about a US school shooting, was banned, was not because of the shooting scenes: “They have no problem with that. The problem is that on page 313, I use the term ‘erection’.””
    • Librarians: Watch authoritarians in action – Coeur d’Alene Press / Post Falls. Idaho. “Is it OK for library trustees to freely impose their wills while they discount citizen, expert or staff views? Is it really OK if our community belongs only to some of us now?”
Julia Lysiuk calls herself a ‘wandering librarian’, because her permanent library building is under Russian occupation.
  • Making Democracy Work: How local libraries work toward sustainability – TBR Newsmedia. Some libraries “offer a wide range of talks, activities, and displays to answer patrons’ questions or broaden their expertise. Some sponsor “carbon crews,” which are small groups of residents working toward reducing their carbon footprints with support from a leader and other members. Some have started “repair cafes” where patrons can get help from other patrons to fix items they want to keep using.”
    • Not your childhood library – New Yorker. “An ambitious experiment in Minneapolis is changing the way librarians work with their homeless patrons and challenging how we share public space.”. Gives away free clothing . “The police regularly clear the city’s streets of encampments, but officers don’t run unhoused people out of Central. As long as they follow the rules, any patron—and everyone at the library is called a patron—can stay all day, every day.”

Local news by authority

Welsh libraries are aiming to have real presence

Editorial

The move by Wales towards the ambition of having one library card to be able to be used in all library services in the nation is highly laudable. Public libraries should be about reducing barriers to access and this is an obvious one – you’d need 22 library cards at the moment to get the full Welsh set. And some of these services would be big enough to justify a mere single library in a lot of England: Merthyr Tydfil has a population of 43,000, Caerphilly 41,000. But the nation as a whole has a bigger population than that of all of Greater Manchester. So it’s great to see the Welsh Government is providing £1m towards that goal. If scaled up to England’s population, this would be a very respectable £18m. Which would be six times more than the last three years of funding for the English Single Digital Presence, which has now lost its never-fully-believable ambition to be single and becoming “LibraryOn”.

There are considerable challenges, as Orkney have found (currently actively asking people to stay away) or Bournemouth Christchurch Poole just this week. But it’s do-able. Various English library consortia of library services have shown this. But perhaps the biggest challenge is in terms of scale – it’s 18 times harder in England – which would need considerable funding in library terms. But this would bet tiny in national terms. The Rwanda scheme alone has cost £240m until the end of last year. Crucially, though, it would need a strong directing hand and interest. Which the current English situation is distinctly lacking.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Brought to book: Library cash plea amid ‘brutal cuts’ to budgets – Scottish Sun. Labour criticises SNP policy. “The party’s analysis indicates the number of facilities dropped from 627 in 2009/2010 to 538 in 2022/2023. Its culture spokesman Neil Bibby MSP said: “Years of brutal cuts to council budgets have devastated communities, causing the closure of one in seven libraries and threatened the future of more.”
  • Greater Manchester Festival of Libraries 2024 – University of Manchester. “From June 12-16 2024, Greater Manchester will once again celebrate the Manchester City of Literature Festival of Libraries – which promises a rich tapestry of vibrant events for all ages and interests”. See also main webpage.
  • How are libraries adapting to the rapid advancements in AI technology? – Cryptopolitan. “Libraries are a place where artificial intelligence can have a greater positive impact. AI can reduce librarians’ workload so that they can focus on community engagement. Virtual presence is becoming an essential part of library culture.” … “The librarian’s role is important in keeping everyone on board. AI can be used as a tool, but it can never be a replacement.”
  • Library Campaign mini-conference and AGM – The Library Campaign. Saturday 15 June, London or online. “Author Louise Candlish will talk about her books, and why libraries matter.”
  • The Reading Agency launches Reading Well for Dementia collection – Bookseller. “The Reading Agency is launching a curated list of books, Reading Well for Dementia, at libraries across England and Wales to help those affected by the condition. The series, dubbed by the charity as a “curated collection of books and resources designed to… support the health and wellbeing of those affected by the condition”, launches, in partnership with public libraries during Dementia Action Week”

Welsh libraries receive almost £1m for new shared digital platform – South Wales Argus. Welsh Government funded. “the digital library will allow people to share their resources with other libraries.” and “pave the way” for a single Welsh library card. [If sized up to England’s population, this would be £18m – LibraryOn, the closest English comparator, receive £3m – Ed.] see also Welsh libraries to get new digital platform – UK Authority. SirsiDynix, project led by Gwynedd.

International news

  • Global – Are librarians non-playable characters? – IFLA. There is “a sense that librarians do not have any agency”. Librarians are controlled by others, e.g. councils or universities, and so are not independent. This gives a sense of powerlessness. “we need to be ready to challenge, both when we see fatalism and passivity in our own attitudes, but also when we see others discount libraries and what they bring to the table.”
  • Australia – Cumberland Council’s book ban has been overturned, but what is really happening in Australian libraries? – Conversation. “The change was short-lived. People fought back. More than 40,000 signed a petition to lift the ban. Only two weeks later, the Council reversed its decision, voting decisively (13-2), following impassioned pleas by residents, and with many people protesting on the streets.”. Bans “are also part of a wider reactionary movement” … “As the outcry over the short-lived Cumberland City Council ban shows, everyday Australians value libraries and the information they provide to their communities. Public support is needed to defend against future attacks and to send a message to governments that banning books is not acceptable.”
  • How are N.Y. libraries adapting to people’s needs? – Spectrum Local News. New teen areas, social workers.
  • Ivanka Trump’s Tweet About Libraries Is Getting Trolled By Librarians. Here’s Why – Fortune. Ivanka “tweeted a recognition of the work libraries and librarians do around the country, but some librarians didn’t appreciate her support. That’s because her father, President Donald Trump, released a budget proposal earlier this year that, if passed, would cut federal funds for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a federal agency that provides the main source of federal support for the country’s libraries museums. Library organizations used Trump’s tweet to disparage her father’s budget blueprint”

Local news by authority

  • Cornwall – Comics Plus eComics – Cornwall Council. “Access a collection of over 19,000 titles. Work is available from publishers like Disney, Dark Horse, IDW and more.”
  • Edinburgh – Council to scrap library fines permanently – Edinburgh Reporter. “Overdue book fines are to be permanently scrapped by Edinburgh libraries – as the council prepares to write off almost £50,000 owed by library users. Since the pandemic no overdue fines have been issued in the capital, and now the local authority will join a growing number across Scotland to completely do away with them. Council officers said the charges are “increasingly viewed as being out of step with a modern, accessible, and welcoming service” and the move could result in increased use of a more “equal” service and help tackle poverty.”
  • Fury at cuts to library opening hours – Edinburgh Reporter. “Officers were accused of putting elected members in a “very difficult position” and acting “dangerously” by seeking approval for a consultation on changes to library service times against their expressed wish. Council officers say the library estate could be “maximised” by “redistributing” operational hours across the city – closing some branches earlier and others later. All options currently on the table, set out in a report, would result in “an overall net increase to opening hours across the city” and save the cash-strapped authority between £70,000 and £225,000 a year. However as councillors agreed to review the library service to develop a new “strategy and vision” in December, they agreed it should not lead to any being closed or having their opening hours reduced.”
  • Essex – Library booking charge paused thanks to avid-reader – BBC. “the councillor responsible for libraries said he would “not proceed” with the proposal “in its current form” after being told about an avid reader in Holland-on-Sea. Mark Durham told a full council meeting that she reserved and borrowed about 20 books every fortnight and returned each one “diligently”. “I, therefore, came to the conclusion that rather than unfairly disadvantage this lady and others like her,”
  • Gateshead – New look Pelaw Library now open – Gateshead Council. “This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.”
  • Hampshire – Helping new parents and their babies to flourish at Hampshire libraries – Hampshire Council. ” free weekly event at selected libraries across the county, specifically for parents and carers with newborns.” … “New Parents Meet and Connect is one of two pilot health schemes being delivered through the Library Service that aim to support new families. The second, called First Words Together, supports babies – from birth up to their second birthday – with speech, language and communication development.”
  • Havering – East London borough plans to axe nearly half their libraries to save £300,000 – Evening Standard. “The council has also proposed slashing their budgets to buy new stock by a one-off reduction of £161,000 (around 61%), and then decreasing it by a further £60,000 over the next two years. By retaining just six centres – which see more than 80% of visits per year, according to council data – the authority hopes to put the extra £300,000 towards a more balanced budget.”

Do you feel more Irish than Australian?

Editorial

The big news for me this week was the spreading of the idea that councils can decide what books libraries should have on their shelves to that normal paragon of library-ness, Australia. In descriptions that sound almost identical to similar debates in the USA, one said it was a matter of following their religion. Meanwhile, in Ireland, such challenges are being met with a strengthening in the power of libraries in being able to oppose those who wish to direct what others are allowed to see and read. There’s been no such strong challenge in the UK as yet to that common in the USA and now in Australia. When there is, we’ll see if we are non-geographically closer to the USA or Ireland.

Some things happen over time so slowly that one does not notice them happening until years afterwards. I had one of these “oh” moments a while ago when thinking about children’s fiction and non-fiction sections and then adult non-fiction sections. The realisation was that, actually, there’s no hard difference between them now in terms of why they’re used. If one can get the answer to most factual questions by speaking a question to one’s watch, as one of my daughters does, there’s no need for a Library of Alexandria type approach to non-fiction sections. What this means in practice is that the purpose of most non-fiction books, child and adult, are essentially leisure now. And, scarily, that means that all of the books in a library are essentially for leisure purposed. That’s not to say they’re not important, due to their power in health and welfare, literacy, awareness etc. But it does mean that those staff who want one of everything are missing the point. For that, see the internet. For the library, see the stuff people actually want to read. And that is overwhelmingly the fun stuff, one way or another.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Brought to book: Library cash plea amid ‘brutal cuts’ to budgets – Scottish Sun. Scottish Labour says “Years of brutal cuts to council budgets have devastated communities, causing the closure of one in seven libraries and threatened the future of more.” … ““The SNP must give a cast-iron guarantee it will not inflict more cuts on these vital services by reducing the Public Library Improvement Fund.”” … “Investment fell from £135million to £92million in ten years.”

“Our local volunteer-run library has recently reopened after being unceremoniously dumped by the local council as a cost-saving measure: a common occurrence as I understand it. We took over the original building, which was a small branch library (and I mean small!). Again, like so many similar enterprises, refurbishment has been protracted but we now have a popular, pleasant space which is also destined to become a small community hub. So, we have a staff toilet downstairs, but in no way shape nor form is this accessible by anyone but an able-bodied person. Building costs and lack of space mean that we can’t afford to get a loo installed on the ground floor and the downstairs loo is unlikely to change. I don’t think this problem is widely discussed(?) but I’d appreciate any other readers’ experiences and hopefully solutions to this tricky problem! Can you help? “

“Captain Bogbrush”
  • How rental ‘libraries of things’ have become the new way to save money – Guardian. “Clothes rental for children is one of the latest chapters in how “libraries of things” are becoming an increasingly common way to save money, space and waste. The theory is simple: instead of buying a household item or a piece of clothing or some equipment you might use once or twice, you take it out and return it.”

“Libraries Change Lives, 24-28 June 2024 – building on a proposal from Baroness Sanderson’s review of public libraries this will be a week of advocacy demonstrating the value of libraries ahead of this year’s General Election.

Green Libraries Week, 7-13 October 2024 – our annual celebration of libraries with a focus on the climate and sustainability.”

CILIP explains the about the two Weeks
  • TikTok bookshelves to open across UK to get young people reading – Independent. “TikTok is teaming up with the National Literacy Trust (NLT) to place “BookTok Bookshelves” in 11 UK areas that need a boost in literacy levels. Cities like Birmingham, Blackpool, Bradford, Doncaster, Manchester, Middlesborough, Newcastle, Nottingham, Peterborough, Stoke and Swindon will get 20 BookTok Bookshelves starting with around 100 books each. The shelves will be placed in areas which see a lot of children over 13, like youth clubs and community centres.”

International news

  • Australia – I’m no stranger to having work banned. If you want to protect kids, this is not the way to do it – Guardian / Opinion. ” I know a book ban is not something we can simply spin as good publicity. These bans come from a rightwing playbook designed to continue a culture war against LGBTQ+ people that chips away at fundamental human rights protections in policies. These attempted bans – whether they are upheld or not – do real world harm to members of my community.”
    • Labor councillor stands by vote to ban same-sex parenting books in Sydney council libraries – as it happened – Guardian. “This decision was made in line with my religious beliefs and I will not be comprising those beliefs.”
    • Rainbow Street Libraries Launch in The Face of Book Ban – Star Observer. “Following the recent decision by Cumberland City Council to remove books about same sex parenting in local libraries, local organisation Street Library Australia have launched a colourful campaign against the book ban.” … “The group took to their facebook page to offer free local libraries to residents in the area, on the proviso they paint them rainbow in support of the issue.”
    • Sydney council bans same-sex parenting books from libraries – video – Guardian. “Western Sydney’s Cumberland city council has voted to place a blanket ban on same-sex parenting books from local libraries in a move the New South Wales government warns could be a breach of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act. The amendment, put forward by a councillor, Steve Christou, proposed that the council take “immediate action” to remove same-sex parents books and materials in its library service. Six councillors voted in favour of the amendment and five voted against, while four councillors were not present to vote”
  • India – Beyond shelves, binding selves – Times of India. A look at public libraries in the country.
  • Ireland – Dublin City Council condemns recent anti-LGBTQ+ library protests – GCN. “Following the recent spate of anti-LGBTQ+ demonstrations and actions targeted at Irish libraries, Dublin City Councillors have passed a motion condemning the attacks and have endorsed their faith in the Library Management” … “the Dublin City Libraries’ management has confirmed that no publications have been removed as a result of the protests.”
  • Italy – Public libraries as social infrastructures: libraries’ response to the COVID crisis in the Emilia-Romagna region – Cultural Trends.
  • USA – John Oliver on public libraries: ‘Another front in the ongoing culture war’ – Guardian. “You do get the sense that people who want to censor these books can have no real idea of what’s inside them or, indeed, if they’re even at the libraries they’re protesting at all,” Oliver said, citing a case in Idaho where activists demanded that more 400 books be removed from the library, even though it already didn’t have them. “As far as protests go, that’s about as meaningful as marching to the Hollywood sign to demand that Frankie Muniz return his Oscar for Schindler’s List,” he joked. “He’s not there, he wasn’t in that, and the very fact that you’re protesting this tells me you’re probably not familiar with the material.”
    • SNF Dialogues Recap – Beyond Books: How Libraries Can Serve the Publ”ic – National Herald. “he first SNF Dialogues discussion in the US explored the multifaceted role of libraries as cornerstones of democratic societies, and how they transcend their traditional role as repositories of books to actively facilitate community participation and advance civic engagement.” … “They are community centers, safe havens during crises, bastions of knowledge and equality, and shining examples of democracy, especially in uncertain times”
    • The Week in Libraries: May 10, 2024 – Publishers Weekly. Legal action in defence of library rights in Alabama.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Portsoy and Whitehills communities asked to help shape future provision of local library services – Aberdeenshire Council.
  • Birmingham – Umbrella group launched in Birmingham to help save city’s libraries – Planet Radio. “Local campaigners are urging others to have their say in the council’s public consultation to save as many as possible. Acocks Green campaigner Joe Simpson’s told us they’re making good progress so far and that locals should use it as incentive to keep fighting.”
    • Hundreds gather to protest against council cuts – BBC. “”What we’re seeing today is the people of Birmingham people coming together to protest about the council cuts that have been forced upon Birmingham City Council by austerity that’s been implemented through government cuts to council funding,” “
  • Bournemouth Christchurch Poole – Residents asked about future of libraries – Bournemouth Echo. “BCP Council wants to know how you currently use the library service and what you hope to see in the future.Library open hours have been slashed by an average of 10 hours per library each week, as part of cost-saving measures for its 2024/25 budget.”
  • Bracknell Forest – Twyford Library announces opening of new location next month – Bracknell News. “The new library will open in the newly refurbished Old Polehampton Boys School on the opposite side of the close. The beautiful new space will benefit from improved library spaces with high ceilings and large windows letting in natural light.” Open 21 hours per week.
  • Bromley – Orpington Literary Festival 2024 – Orpington 1st. “A week of town centre events celebrating the written and spoken word, brought to you by Orpington 1st in partnership with Bromley Libraries, supported by Orpington Rotary.” … ““We’re really pleased to work with Orpington’s business community for this year’s literary festival. It’s a fantastic opportunity to highlight the importance of literature and the vital role which libraries play in our community.”
  • Cheshire East – Fears Bollington Library could be shut down within months – Macclesfield Nub News. “The recently-formed Friends of Bollington Library Committee claims that Cheshire East Council is planning to consult the public on proposals to close Bollington Library with effect from January 1 2025.”
  • Devon – Beach toy plea for seafront libraries – Mid Devon Advertiser. “Teignbridge Leisure is looking for donations of unwanted buckets, spades, balls and beach toys to fill its seafront libraries in Teignmouth and at Dawlish Warren.”
  • Falkirk – Falkirk Council libraries branch out with new garden lending initiative – Falkirk Herald. “Gardening bags can now be borrowed from all eight libraries across the area and are designed to equip budding gardeners with th -e tools and knowledge to cultivate fresh, home grown fruit and vegetables.” … “Each bag contain hand tools, gardening books and kneeling mat, as well as seeds, plant markers and growing advice cards and recipe cards so people can start cooking with what they have grown.” Due to  £8300 from The Europe Challenge Fund.
  • Hampshire – Blood pressure monitors now available from Hampshire libraries – Hampshire Council. “Each monitor is borrowed on a ‘first come-first served’ basis. It comes in a box, with a leaflet containing easy-to-follow instructions on how to use the device and understand the results, as well as what to do if you are concerned about the readings. “
  • Haringey – Haringey Council’s Head of Libraries, Brian Mihayo, receives nationwide Top Talent recognition – Haringey Council. ” Brian helped secure trust and foundation funding for a major project supporting young people to design and organise diverse cultural events and innovative programmes across Haringey libraries, including concerts, comedy nights and spoken word performances.”
  • Havering – Havering launches new library strategy – Havering Council. “The library strategy consultation, which will run for 12 weeks until 2 August 2024, comes at a difficult time for the borough. The Council continues to face financial challenges while delivering our legal duty to provide services for the most vulnerable along with the services residents say they value most.” – £300k cut. Five libraries to close: Collier Row, Elm Park, Gidea Park, Harold Wood an South Hornchurch.
  • Manchester – The Enlightenment – Simon Armitage lyric shines a light on libraries for Manchester’s Festival of Libraries – About Manchester. “The track has been specially commissioned for Festival of Libraries 2024, with words by poet laureate Simon Armitage, music by Richard Walters and Patrick Pearson, and guest vocals from Josephine Oniyama. The Enlightenment will be released on streaming platforms on Friday 7 June and will be performed live for the first time at Manchester Central Library as part of the festival on Wednesday 12 June (doors open at 7.30pm)”
    • Blue Peter Book Club live takes off in Manchester Central Library – Manchester Council. “Blue Peter, the BBC’s iconic children’s TV series is partnering with Manchester Libraries and The Reading Agency on an exciting new project – Blue Peter Book Club Live. It launches in Manchester Central Library on Saturday 18 May with a fun-filled, free event, open to all and the chance to meet Blue Peter presenters Abby, Joel, and Shini along with Henry the Blue Peter Dog. ” … “A book inspired art-installation created by 10,000 local school children, creative crafts, special story times, masses of books and a chance to meet some magical classic book characters will make it a day of adventure and fun where classic stories come to life in the library.”
  • Norfolk – Plans for new library and bus station in Hunstanton – EDP. “Norfolk County Council has finalised plans to redevelop the former library and revamp the bus station at Hunstanton and hopes to start work later this year.”
  • Somerset – Could you volunteer to help the Home Library Service? – Somerset Council. “olunteers are needed across Somerset to help keep a vital Somerset Council library lifeline thriving.”
  • South Lanarkshire – Award-winning authors back protests to save libraries in Cambuslang, Halfway and Blantyre – Daily Record. “Just under 40 authors and literary figures have shown their support for the Save Our Libraries protest taking place this week.” … “Author of Fallen Angel, Chris Brookmyre, added: “We all appreciate that in these difficult times, difficult choices must be made but, in my opinion, libraries should always be among the last things a council cuts when it needs to save money.”
  • Southend on Sea – Pub-goers see ‘light’ – and save burning library – BBC. “At about 21:00 BST on Tuesday, drinkers at a table in The Old Walnut Tree, Southend-on-Sea, noticed a ‘light’ inside Southchurch Library. They realised it was on fire. With the help of pub staff they filled “large containers” with water, dashed over, and poured it through a broken window.””
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries Board member takes on tandem skydive – Suffolk Libraries. See Just Giving page..
  • Wirral – Gym sorry over library bench ‘alcoholics’ claim – BBC. “A firm which wants to turn an ex-library into a gym has apologised over comments suggesting a bench outside is “popular with local alcoholics” and should be removed. Nomad wants to convert the former council building in Hoylake, Wirral. A document lodged with Wirral Council said the use of the bench by “alcoholics” jarred with its brand.”
  • Worcestershire – Dementia in Focus at Worcestershire Libraries – Worcestershire Council. ” Library Service is teaming up with the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire, and The University of Worcester for Dementia Action Week, taking place from 13th May to 19th May.” Reading Well books. “Groups include Classic Film Club, Reminiscence Groups, Knit and Natter, Hook Buddies, and Scrabble, all of which offer engaging activities beneficial for individuals with dementia.”
    • Libraries Unlocked to be introduced at Malvern Library – Worcester News. Once the system is up and running, library members aged 15 and above will have the chance to upgrade their membership.They will then be able to use the library facilities outside the regular hours of operation”
  • York – ‘It’s a safe space, welcoming and free’ – York’s unique library service celebrates ten years – York Mix. “Explore York Library and Archives is marking a whole decade of providing the community of York with a public library and archive service with a series of family-friendly fundraising activities and events.” … “There is currently no further comment on the contractual dispute” between Explore and York Council over proposes budget cut.

The reason for it

Editorial

One of the strange things about covering public libraries since 2010 is seeing how things could have gone with more funding. The Library of Birmingham was one such. Opened in the years of coalition government but planned before, this was seen as a big shining symbol of the city and for the future of libraries generally. But the money ran out. Now it is open only 40 hours per week, areas of it hired out and many other libraries in the city under threat of closure. In an alternate world, the Library of Birmingham is a world leader. Not in this one.

Similarly, there is the movement to going fines-free. The arguments for an against are many and are listed here but a report by libraries in New York last week suggested that if was a big success, with an increase in issues, visits and late books being returned. But fining customers creates income, at least in the short-term and if one ignores associated costs (which, to be fair, like staff, may be built-in to some extent) and so cash-strapped English libraries have started not only stalling on going fines-free but also, this week, one service has returned to charging fines again after being fines-free. The reason Havering gives for this is, simply. financial. Sadly, I suspect, the future historian looking for the reason for the decline of public libraries in the UK – as opposed to success stories like New Zealand or Ireland – may give the same reason.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Blue Peter Book Club Live to kick off at Manchester Central Library – Literacy Trust. “Local primary school-aged children can come and join Blue Peter presenters and top authors at the free launch event at Manchester Central Library. They’ll enjoy a fun day of stories, crafts and lots of books. A special Blue Peter Badge Trail will also launch on the day, which will challenge families to discover massive Blue Peter Book Club inspired badges at 12 different venues across the city with an additional bonus badge in the Blue Peter Garden in Salford.”
  • Development of the residents’ protest campaign against the closure of public libraries in the UK – Bulletins of Japan-UK Education / J-Stage. “This study analyses an intensified residents’ campaign against cuts in public library services(library campaign) in Lincolnshire. “

International news

“Libraries are supposed to be a quiet place for learning. However, across the U.S., many libraries have found themselves under siege by crime. Calls coming from libraries are inundating many police departments. According to police records, more than 500 calls were made to police from the San Diego Central Library in the past year. To see for ourselves, Inside Edition spent the day at the library. It was not long before we witnessed cops rushing to the scene of a suspected overdose.”
  • USA – 2024 Library Systems Report – American Libraries. ” a handful of large organizations with considerable resources—Clarivate, EBSCO Information Services, Follett School Solutions, and OCLC—continue to expand their portfolios, covering multiple business sectors and library types. Middle-tier companies, including Axiell, ByWater Solutions, The Library Corporation (TLC), and SirsiDynix, offer growing suites of products used by thousands of libraries. And finally, a group of smaller companies round out the industry, covering specialized libraries with niche products and services.”
    • Adams Hints $58M Funding That Forced Libraries to Close on Sundays Could Be Restored in Near Future – Westside Spirit.
    • City Libraries Eliminated Late Fees Three Years Ago — How Has it Gone? – The City. “In October 2021, the city’s libraries abolished fines on overdue materials and predicted it would unlock hundreds of thousands of people who had their cards blocked. The result two-and-a-half years later has been a resounding success with a spike in materials taken out, library cards issued, and program attendance, according to officials in charge of New York City’s three library systems. ” … “In New York City, patrons returned thousands of long overdue items shortly after the fines were lifted, the New York Times reported in March 2022.”
    • How Ben Franklin Invented the Library as We Know It – Smithsonian. In the next issue, how the Americans invented soccer and fish and chips.
    • Libraries Without Borders: Using Outreach to Build Community – Information Today. “it’s harder for decision makers to say no or be dismissive when they know your face, your name, and something about you as a human being.” … “When your policies take into account the needs of the community, your library is positioned for maximum outreach impact.” … “The modern library is a place and an idea. Consistently engaging in the improvement of people’s lives through community outreach leads to strong libraries that are part of the solution.”
    • Viva La Library – Nautilus. “Rebel against The Algorithm. Get a library card.”

Local news by authority

Halton
South Lanarkshire
  • Staffordshire – Perton Library Science Fair & Spring Festival is back – Staffordshire Council. “The event, being organised by Perton Library and Wild About Perton, is packed full of family fun and is part of the celebrations for Green Libraries Month.” … “Dr Phil Jemmett and his team of scientists from Warwick University will be demonstrating experiments all day”
    • Libraries going green to highlight sustainability and environmental issues – Lichfield Live. “Sessions across Staffordshire include exhibitions, author talks, craft workshops and recycling projects. Among the initiatives will be a trial of biodegradable library cards at Shenstone Library.” … “Green Libraries Month is being delivered in partnership with Staffordshire Community Learning, who are offering taster sessions in things such as upcycling, mini-bug hotels, cress caterpillars, kitchen composters and saving money by growing your own veg. “
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries launches daisy chain fundraising campaign – East Anglian Daily Times. “The Make a Difference with a Daisy campaign from Suffolk Libraries is to raise money for the 45 libraries across the county, and projects they run like the period poverty service and warm spaces project.”
    • New base in Lowestoft for East Suffolk’s customer services? – Eastern Daily Press. “East Suffolk Council leaders are set to discuss potentially spending £165,000 to move its customer services from the Marina Centre, in Lowestoft, less than half a mile away to the town’s library.”. Part of plans for new “cultural quarter”.
    • Suffolk Libraries Day book binge is the height of fundraising for Maureen – Diss Express. “Maureen John, who manages Debenham and Stradbroke libraries, read the equivalent of around 18,000 pages, which works out at 5 foot, 2 inches when the books are stacked on top of each other.” She “raised £2,200 for Suffolk Libraries Day last month as a result of the challenge”
    • We welcome our new Environmentalist in Residence – Suffolk Libraries. “During his residency Martin will be working on the development of a project called Seconds of Sound (S.O.S), inviting people to take part in weekly sound walks that connect all 45 of our libraries (plus some of our local prison libraries too).”
  • Wirral – Former library set to become gym – West Kirby. “Plans have been submitted to turn the former Hoylake Library into a gym and wellness centre. The building was closed by Wirral Council in 2022 as part of a series of budget cuts, and a bid by community interest company The Life Tree to turn it into a venue for book clubs and events was rejected as not being viable.”
  • York – Young Reporter: Explore Libraries are turning 10. Sorcha L, Huntington – York Press. “Explore is an important part of York, with the libraries acting as community hubs and education centres, with multiple around the city. Each library is running its own events. “

Irish Libraries Are Smiling

Editorial

A few news pieces catch my eye today. The first is an ex-magistrate sating in the Mail – where else – that libraries could be turned into court venues as they are under-used public buildings. Words fail me sometimes. Sadly, they don’t fail the Mail. Then we have the normal US madness of censorship, with 17 states now considering imprisoning librarians for their stock choices. There’s also a heart-rending story from that torn country about a child, are regular visitor to a library, whose parents decided to play the story-time song at the funeral. Oh my.

The thing that really caught my eye though was news from Ireland. The government there is spending – get this – £21 million to provide 11 new libraries and 12 new mobiles in rural areas. That’s twice as much as the Libraries Improvement Fund right there. But then scale that up to take into account the relative populations and you’d have, if it happened in the UK, £210 million in capital expenditure with 110 new libraries and 120 new mobiles. Then lift your jaw off the floor. Ireland led the way a few years ago in national publicity and national initiatives like removing all fines and now it is apparently reaping the benefits.

National news

International news

“Founded in 1905 under segregation, Louisville’s Western Library helped lay the foundation of Black librarianship in the U.S. The oldest library in the U.S. run independently by and for African Americans, Western was also the earliest training ground of Black librarians from around the South.”
  • USA – 17 States Are Considering Laws That Would Imprison Librarians – Vanity Fair. “Ron DeSantis has been forced to limit certain Floridians to only one book-banning attempt per month.”
    • Beloved Bunny’s Death Shows How Libraries Help Parents – Ms Magazine. “rather than forcing children to think a certain way, libraries help us find our words in life’s most challenging moments.”. When a child passed away who was a regular attender at story-time, ““They sang the goodbye song from story-time” at the funeral.
    • Does The Future of Libraries – or Narrative Itself – Include Books? – Indiana Public Media. Podcast. Book issues down. Non-fiction section “irrelevant” in age of the internet. More library events. “more librarians now have a performance mindset”. People are still reading but doing it digitally. Libraries “are for bringing people together in a free and open space”.
    • It’s Time to Take a Hard Look at Public Libraries – Cato. “Like local post offices, neighborhood libraries once served an important community function but are now becoming increasingly irrelevant. And, as with post offices, libraries continue to receive funding because they enjoy support from a relatively small but vocal segment of the population, while the rest of us are usually too reluctant to question their utility.”
    • The Week in Libraries: April 26, 2024 – Publishers Weekly. “a deadline looms for federal library funding; the FCC votes to restore net neutrality rules; Maryland passes a law designed to discourage book bans; and why Alabama librarians are feeling exhausted”

Local news by authority

  • Barnsley – Book festival attracts more than 3,000 visitors – Rotherham Advertiser. “saw locals enjoy a packed schedule including 49 library and six partner events and 42 authors and artists.”
  • Birmingham – Future of Birmingham’s libraries sparks row as campaigners pledge action – Express and Star. “Asked why steps were not taken to notify ward councillors and communities in good time of the consultation programme, cabinet member Saima Suleman responded: “There were some online consultations that were registered last week which I believe councillors were not informed of.” … ” in Hall Green, residents gathered once again on Saturday for a ‘read-in’ at the local library – following similar events elsewhere in the city. The demonstration was attended by over 100 people, spanning all ages and backgrounds, as well as authors and renowned woodcarver Graham Jones.”
Blaenau Gwent. Musical “Nye” has public library scene

Not a ban

Editorial

Not a big week for news with, sadly, the main theme being the continued issue of difficulties in American libraries. There’s continued pressure in many states to make librarians accountable for the books that children can access, up to an including fines and prison sentences. Not that this is apparently banning books according a large comment free-to-access piece in the pay-to-view Telegraph this week, which is perhaps an unsurprising indication of how that newspaper feels about the subject. Another article, not in a right-wing national newspaper, argues that such banning (of events as well as books) does exist and is showing signs of spreading to the UK. Unconnected with this, perhaps , is the news that there’s also a sign (or rather, no longer a sign) that Norfolk Libraries are not quite the “safe space” for Trans people that they were once advertised as being.

Local news by authority

National news

  • Book banning: warnings the UK must heed – The Boar. ” if you think this is a purely American issue, you are sorely mistaken. As protests sprout here in the UK, we should prepare to fight the growing culture of censorship, lest we lose the right for expression, integrity, and inclusivity that facilitates great literature.” … “the urge to suppress unconventional and under-represented topics remains constant. However, research suggests that these efforts of suppression are much more harmful than the content within the books, particularly for children.”

International news

Local news by authority

Libraries turning into drug-infested sex dens

Editorial

In a shocking expose from the ever-balanced and fair Fox News, we discover that American public libraries are drug-infested sex dens. This must come as something of a surprise to their users. Also, to their library staff too, it seems, as many have taken to Twitter to ask where these libraries are (including, suspiciously, wanting their precise addresses, presumably for private research purposes).

After we have stopped laughing, it’s worth considering where this headline is coming from. It’s from the classic exaggeration/slander/don’t-look-behind-the-curtain realm of propaganda. To impose one’s views on a democratic country, there needs to be a reason, and this is it for libraries: we are a bunch of pro-drug gender extremists that need to be controlled. It’s nothing to do with freedom of speech, heaven’s no, it’s protecting the children. Thankfully, it has not quite come to this in this country, but it’s getting closer each day. Heck, it’ll probably be an item on officially-not-a-news-channel GB News any day now.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • CILIP Appoints Louis Coiffait-Gunn as new CEO – CILIP. “Louis was introduced to public libraries at a young age as his grandmother was a librarian in a neighbouring village. As he currently finishes a period of parental leave, he has continued this tradition by taking his baby to storytime at libraries across Hackney.”
  • CloudLibrary finds a new home in OCLC – Bibliotheca.
  • Fun Palaces Workshops – Fun Palaces. Various workshops on who to involve, what they are, where and how, funding, sustainability and advertising.

Libraries, join the Blue Peter Book Club this May! We are inviting librarians to join this online workshop at 4pm on 16 April 2024 to hear about how you can get involved in the Blue Peter Book Club and encourage children in your library to explore the world of books together. There are some exciting things lined up for the Book Club in May with opportunities for public, community and school libraries to join in, and we want you to be the first to hear about them. Join us in this webinar to find out more about the Book Club, the selected books, and how your library can take part and support children to earn their book badge. The webinar will be recorded and shared to catch up on. Register today – 

The Reading Agency, by email.
  • Sir Roly Keating to step down as Chief Executive of the British Library in April 2025 – British Library. “Under Sir Roly’s leadership, the Library has undergone a transformation in its public impact and its visibility across the UK and internationally. With a focus on openness, creativity and innovation, his tenure has seen the establishment of major new partnerships including the Knowledge Quarter around its London HQ, the Business & IP Centre National Network and the Living Knowledge Network of public and national libraries across the UK.”
  • The vorfreude secret: 30 zero-effort ways to fill your life with joy – Guardian. ““Making a regular trip to your local library is a great way to insert vorfreude into your life””
  • ‘Weathervanes of their Communities’ – The Sanderson Review, public libraries and information literacy futures – Edinburgh Napier University. “Recent independent reviews of public library services in England have argued for a more comprehensive and cohesive strategy to promote the many benefits of these services. However a critical lack of quality data to support these conclusions, particularly on the impact of information literacy formation, means that such reviews are in danger of missing further opportunities to develop the wide and varied roles public libraries play in their communities.”

International news

What are our library leaders thinking about the future? Erik Boekesteijn (National Library of the Netherlands) interviewed many library leaders from around the world and put them together in one documentary video.
  • Pakistan -Tall tales but no dessert: the storyteller of Karachi and his ice-cream cart library – Guardian. “About 15,000 children have attended more than 700 Kahaani Sawaari storytelling sessions since the project was launched in 2021. Erum Kazi, GoRead’s programme director, says parents have told her how their children have developed a love for reading since the scheme began”
  • Ukraine – Send a mobile library to Ukraine – Crowdfunder. “To date over 600 public libraries and 2,000 school libraries have been damaged or destroyed by Russian troops” … “When we asked our partners in Ukraine how we could help, they said they needed a mobile library. With a mobile library they could continue to provide a service when their library buildings have been destroyed or damaged.”. £10,000 needed for reconditioned mobile library: £160 given at time of accessing webpage.
  • USA- ALA Releases State of America’s Libraries 2024 Report – American Libraries. “ALA recorded 1,247 attempts to censor materials and services at libraries, schools, and universities in 2023. Of the 4,240 unique titles that were challenged or banned in 2023, here are the top 10 most frequently challenged”
    • Analysis: A Statehouse rite of spring — a showdown over libraries – Idaho Ed News. “The 2024 legislative session is ending the way the 2023 session did. And the way the 2022 session did. With a showdown over libraries. Something that has become an informal rite of spring at the Statehouse. On Wednesday, the Senate and the House passed a bill that would require school and public libraries to take steps to keep obscene materials away from minors. House Bill 710 now goes to Gov. Brad Little, who vetoed a library bill at the end of the 2023 session.”
    • MAGA Rage Targeting Local Librarians Is Getting Uglier – New Republic. Podcast.

Local news by authority

Croydon – “We are fighting to keep our library open! #bradmoregreenlibrary #oldcoulsdon” via Twitter.
  • Devon – Devon libraries launch reading adventure for under-fives – Tavistock Today. “Almost 7,000 children have so far signed up to read 50 books on The Secret Book Quest, and we are hoping to reach just as many little ones with Libro’s Friends.”
  • Flintshire – Flintshire Council strikes “short-term” deal with Aura for running of county’s leisure and library services – Deeside. “The authority is understood to be planning to bring the management of libraries, museums, and play areas back in-house, while exploring an “alternative delivery model” for leisure services.” .. ” the council had offered the company £1 million to continue delivering leisure services in the short-term from April, which would last for approximately three months. But proposals related to libraries, museums, and play areas were described as “less clear”, with Aura unwilling to use its reserves to fund services.”
  • Gloucestershire – Library of Things helping Charlton Kings residents save money – BBC. “The Library of Things was launched by CK Futures – a division of the parish council – Vision 21 project Planet Cheltenham, and Gloucestershire Libraries. Residents can borrow pressure washers, carpet cleaners, tools and even chocolate fountains, alongside the library’s books.”
  • Hackney – Stoke Newington Library’s refurbishment gets £500k funding boost – Hackney Citizen. “The cash will go towards a redesign of the library’s interiors, with the council hoping to kit it out with the “best facilities possible”. Those include improved reading rooms, study spaces, a new children’s area, and a cultural and digital hub. The community library service will also get its own integrated space.”
  • Lancashire – Rawtenstall Library to close it’s doors for ‘investigation into staircase’ – Lancashire Live. “Rawtenstall Library will close for around four weeks from Monday, while investigative work is undertaken on the staircase. A precise schedule for the closure will not be given until the work begins. However, customers are being reassured that fines for overdue loans from Rawtenstall Library will be waived while the building is shut.”
  • Monmouthshire – Borrowing a laptop as easy as borrowing a library book with Monmouthshire County Council – Monmouthshire Council. “The laptops that will be available were initially purchased during the COVID-19 pandemic to help pupils continue their learning remotely. Now, residents can use them to access online resources from the comfort of their own homes.”
  • Norfolk – Norwich man threatened to kill library staff in The Forum – Eastern Daily Press. “Jamie Turner, 32, became violent and abusive when he was asked to leave the Millennium Library at The Forum in Norwich on January 7. Norwich Magistrates’ Court was told he assaulted one member of staff telling them: “If I see you in the street I’ll kill you.””
  • North Northamptonshire – Doors open at new community library and well-being hub in Higham Ferrers – Northamptonshire Telegraph. First library provision in town since 2019.
  • North Yorkshire – Discover Skipton’s hidden heritage with three new trails – Craven Herald and Pioneer/Yahoo. “The four trails produced for the HSHAZ programme join three other North Yorkshire trails based on collections from Harrogate, Scarborough libraries and one for Northallerton curated by North Yorkshire County Record Office on the ‘What Was Here?’ app, created by East Riding of Yorkshire Archives, which is free to download now on Google Play and the App Store. Check out the accompanying website at www.whatwashere.org.”
  • Sheffield – Stocksbridge 519 library plan approved – BBC. “The three-storey building will replace the town’s existing library and community shop.” Existing library to be demolished to make way for £24m new build.
  • Shropshire – Library to close for a week while council spends Arts Council money on new shelves – Shropshire Star. “Last year Shropshire Council was awarded £236,950 by Arts Council England to install new equipment that will make library spaces more accommodating and accessible to the wider community.” … “Shropshire Council has used the funds to purchase 1:1 interview pods with supporting technology, enabling private consultations with the public” … “It has also purchased new mobile shelving to create flexible space to accommodate health and wellbeing sessions offered through social prescribing and creative health models.”
    • Anger as school library service cut to save money – BBC. “Parents and teachers have reacted angrily to a decision by Shropshire Council to end a service providing schools with new books and learning material. The School Library Service has a catalogue of more than 250,000 books, artefacts, DVDs and online resources. Two-thirds of schools across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin pay to use it. Shropshire Council, however, has said it can no longer afford to subsidise the service. An online petition has been started by the head teacher of Christ Church CE Primary School in Cressage, which paid about £1,300 for the service last year.”
    • Whitchurch Library ‘pop up’ service expanded – Shropshire Council. “Library staff have been running a temporary ‘pop-up’ service on market day every Friday morning since Whitchurch Civic Centre was forced to close for safety reasons in September 2023”
  • South Gloucestershire What South Gloucestershire Council library cuts mean for your branch – Bristol Post. “The local authority is slashing £273K from its annual spending on the vital community facilities, including £25K for books”… “South Gloucestershire’s libraries will be closed for an extra 40 hours every week in total as part of huge cuts. But that is about half of what was originally proposed. This is becauser the authority managed to find some savings elsewhere to cushion the blow for the books budget, which was initially going to be slashed by a quarter – £50,000 – but will now go down by £25,000.”
  • Suffolk – New Stoke Library Open Day – Suffolk Libraries. “The new library occupies a slightly bigger space and has new carpets and furniture with flexible wheeled shelving to make it easier to hold events and activities in the library.”
    • Suffolk Libraries shortlisted for national library awards – Suffolk Libraries. “The Be Kind to a Kid appeal was run by Suffolk Libraries in partnership with BBC Radio Suffolk in late 2023. All the county’s libraries acted as collection points for 2,500 donated new toys which were then passed on to over 20 local charities and organisations who then got them to families in need to ensure their children got an extra much-needed Christmas gift.”
  • Surrey – Weybridge Library and Weybridge Centre co-locating as part of Hub plans – Elmbridge Council. “there will be a temporary relocation of Weybridge Library into the Weybridge Centre for the Community, while it undergoes a major refurbishment to create the Weybridge Hub, which is expected to open in Spring 2025. “
  • Wakefield – Wordfest 2024: Popular celebration to bring hundreds of free events to Wakefield libraries next month – Wakefield Express. “Hundreds of free and exciting events, from author talks and storytelling, film showings and music, will be held in the district’s libraries and other community settings during the month-long festival celebrating words – which aims to encourage residents of all ages to explore their own creativity. The annual celebration has become a staple within the community, with a full programme that has been developed with community partners and features activities across the district.”

Thank you Aunty Hilary

Editorial

A quiet week this week, and all the better for it, really. Whether this is because things naturally go quiet over Easter or because I was internet-free for a week while on a cruise I can’t say. Probably a mixture of the two. So, let me know if I have missed anything via emailing me (ianlibrarian@live.co.uk) or getting me via Twitter @publiclibnews. I’ve also just relaunched the Public Libraries News Facebook page to cover the stranger and more humorous stories in the sector if you’d like to give that a go. And, yes, the cruise was very good (Hamburg, Rotterdam, Bruges) and no I couldn’t afford it on my salary – a very kind relative stepped in. So, thank you Aunty Hilary.

Changes by authority

National news

BBC Breakfast: “Actor Michael Sheen visits Port Talbot Library as part of the Warm Welcome Campaign. Warm Spaces across the UK are open this Christmas, offering warmth and community connection. Find your nearest space at www.warmwelcome.uk”

International news

USA – Californian library talks about there services: free food for children no questions asked especially in Summer, lego clubs, reading dogs, early years programme, drug alternative. Children read 5 books or 500 minutes to get free burger.

Local news by authority

The meaning of LIF

Editorial

There’s a lot of good news for various library services in England this week, with the announcement of the third round of the Libraries Improvement Fund. 43 library services received a share of £10.5m funding with £245,417 being the average amount given, ranging from £499,999 for Camden to a humble £50,000 for Bradford. Looking at what the money is being spent on – well, let’s say makers of moveable shelving units are celebrating as are the normal digital suspects. That old stand-by “Maker spaces” is a phrase used on more than one occasion as is the newly popular word “sensory”. Closer to my heart, there’s a few refurbishments and nicer children’s libraries coming from this. There’s also some very location specific stuff like a new place for sheet music or space for an exhibition. All in all, though, all of the projects that there are details about look defendable and there is reason for delight here.

Of course, me being me, there is also cynicism. The public library service has been increasingly grossly underfunded for over a decade and, in a healthily supported sector, a lot of the projects would not have needed this special one-off funding. And, while the support is to be welcomed, there at least two hints as to the real reasons for the money. The first is that the announcement seems to have caught quite a few councils unawares. As I write this a few days later, quite a few haven’t yet had time to produce press releases about it. This suggests the announcement was to tie in with a central government timetable rather than the local council one. Perhaps it was always so. More tellingly of course, the funding was used this week to defend in parliament the government’s questionable stewardship of the sector. The amount – ten million – also seems to be the lowest that can be given in double figures, with a few hundred extra thousand given so as not to make it too obvious. Kind of like a reverse of Camden’s frankly hilarious cheek at asking for £499,999, the very maximum that could have been asked for, to the pound. I salute you, Camden.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Dozens of library services and 26 museums to receive £33m government funding – Guardian. ““With upgraded buildings and technology, we can expect to see many more people experiencing and enjoying what their local library service has to offer.””
  • Forty-three libraries win slice of £33m funding boost – BookSeller. Libraries Connected say ““We do need to see much wider and longer-term investment in the library network, however. Without a more secure financial settlement for local government, libraries will remain particularly vulnerable to cuts and closures. The next government must take decisive action to avoid a crisis in our libraries over the coming years.””

We are again disappointed by UNITE’s decision to call for strike action. We have made every effort to engage with the union and listen to their views.  However, it should be noted that the UNITE strike does not reflect the opinion of the vast majority of our colleagues; with UNITE membership across our organisation sitting at less than 3% of the workforce. A well-received pay award was made in 2023, which was underpinned by the Real Living Wage and we are proud to be one of only 14,000 organisations in the UK to be accredited as a Real Living Wage employer.  The Real Living Wage for 2024 is set and we will implement this in April of this year. 

Over the past 30 years, we have developed terms and conditions of employment that work for our business and our employees.  Our people have choices about how they work and engage with us.  This commitment to our staff is underlined by the fact we have been awarded Investors in People Gold status. We do not offer zero hours contracts, as erroneously suggested by UNITE.  We do offer flexible working arrangements and give staff the opportunity to transfer from flexible contracts to permanent contracts via our You Choose scheme, which is open to all. Planned changes to GLL’s sick pay scheme will be implemented as part of our 2024 pay award. Our focus remains on ensuring that a quality library service continues to be delivered to local communities in Bromley and Greenwich and that was the case on 26 March.

GLL spokesperson on strike action in Bromley an Greenwich
  • Libraries to get near £800k boost – BBC. Makerspace money for Hull: “Michelle Alford, library services director for Hull Culture and Leisure Ltd said the funding would create “exciting centres of digital innovation” in more of its branch libraries.”.
  • Library staff celebrating victory after strike sees 20% increase in sick pay – Morning Star. “The Unite members walked out on Tuesday this week and staged a mass picket at Woolwich Centre Library in London. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “While this is a welcome step in the right direction, Unite won’t stop here. “Our members deserve better pay and conditions and GLL is in a position to improve its offers across the board. “Outstanding disputes with GLL include a pay increase and better treatment for staff on zero-hours contracts.””

Local authorities in England have a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service which meets local needs. It is for each local authority to consider how best to deliver this. His Majesty’s Government has provided an additional £600 million on top of the £64 billion Local Government Finance Settlement for 2024-25 — an increase of 7.5% in cash terms. This uplift will help to reduce pressure on councils’ budgets, and protect services including public libraries.

In addition, DCMS announced on 25 March that 43 library services in England would benefit from Round 3 of the Libraries Improvement Fund which is allocating £10.5 million across this financial year and next. The Fund has allocated £20.5 million since 2021 to public library services across England to support them to upgrade their buildings and improve digital infrastructure so that they are better placed to respond to the changing ways people want to use them.

Julia Lopez MP, Parliamentary Secretary, DCMS
Camden CouncilOne Kilburn£499,999
Hackney LibrariesStoke Newington Library Improvement Project. See Stoke Newington Library awarded £499,700 grant to improve reading, study, culture and children spaces – Hackney Council. Stoke Newington Library redesign for “creative, inclusive and innovative new spaces.”. Part of £4m renovation.£499,700
Reading Borough CouncilReading Libraries – Reading Central Library and Branch Digital Improvement – making all our spaces amazing.
See Library Users to Benefit From A Further 495K of Investment (reading.gov.uk) – Reading Council. Borrowable tablets, streaming technology, microbits, self-service machines in 3 libraries, auto check-in, self-service lockers, sensory/interative tables and projection equipment.
£495,000
Cheshire West and Chester Library ServiceNorthwich Library Transformation£473,623
Wakefield LibrariesConnect Wakefield Library and Museum. “for a children’s library which Wakefield Council said would deliver a “transformative experience” for children and families and cater for “those with sensory and physical disabilities”.”£446,587
Medway LibrariesForward Medway£409,552
Hull Culture and Leisure Library ServicesMaking Makerspaces. £395,000
Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council Libraries ServiceLibraries reimagined – Guisborough£391,050
Newcastle LibrariesWalker LIF 3. “a new reading facility in a disused part of the Walker Activity Dome. Newcastle City Council’s Christine Herriot said: “This extra funding will help make the library bigger by bringing unused storage space back into use, give it a new entrance and enable us to widen digital services.”£382,159
London Borough of RedbridgeFulwell Cross Library – Transformation Programme. See Fullwell Cross Library to receive grant funding of nearly £400,000 to help modernise and refurbish much-loved facility – Redbridge Council. For “vital repairs, renovations and the development of digital infrastructure “: makerspace, refurbishment and redesign esp. children’s library, Hublets, Tovertafel table, museums boxes on shelves.£379,899
Warwickshire LibrariesSensory Discovery Mobile Library. See Warwickshire Libraries secure funding for sensory mobile library – Warwickshire Council. “Discovery Den” mobile “safe and inclusive space for children, young people, and adults with additional and more complex needs.”£372,638
Rutland County CouncilLIF3£359,000
Trafford LibrariesSale Library – A Cultural Hub. See Funding boost for Sale Library – Trafford Council. ” integrating the library into the foyer, a general refit and installing a permanent Cosgrove Hall Films Archive exhibition.”£347,000
Dorset Council Library ServiceDorset Council Libraries Asset Improvement£309,971
North Somerset LibrariesRe-designing Library outreach services. See North Somerset Council secures £300k funding for electric mobile library vehicle – North Somerset Council. Replaces diesel powered mobile. £40k match funding from council. £309,748
Worcestershire County Council (libraries)Communit-E-Bus£301,450
Shropshire LibrariesWork well with your Library£280,250
Oldham Council LibrariesAdaptable Library Project (ALP) – Oldham£277,000
City of York CouncilYork Explore Libraries£250,000
East Riding LibrariesBridlington Libraries Refurbishment. Sensory areas and moveable shelves to Bridlington North and Bridlington Central libraries£246,000
Sunderland City CouncilLibraries Uplifted£230,000
Staffordshire County Council – Libraries & ArtsConnecting Communities Wombourne Library£199,400
Doncaster Heritage ServicesMexborough Library Reimagined£182,000
Walsall CouncilWalsall Dementia Friendly Libraries£181,674
Sutton Council’s Cultural ServicesOn-screen: Building Inclusive Digital Communities£179,340
Nottinghamshire County Council – Cultural ServicesInspire Hucknall Library Reconfiguration£178,500
Sandwell Library and Information ServiceDeveloping Cultural Spaces£177,000
Lancashire County CouncilBurnley Library Music Collection & Flexible Space. See Burnley Library’s £165k boost to host music collection – BBC. “Burnley Library is to turn a disused children’s library area into a home for the Stocks Massey Music Collection.”£165,000
Doncaster Heritage ServicesMexborough Library Reimagined£182,000
Isle of Wight Library ServiceAccessible libraries . See Funding boost for two popular island libraries announced – Isle of Wight Radio. Improved accessibility at Cowes and Ryde libraries.£150,000
Dudley MBC – Planning and RegenerationDudley Libraries. Lye Library will have moveable shelving, refurbishment, VR headsets and hublets (source: GLL)£144,715
North Lincolnshire CouncilScunthorpe Central. £141,766
Kirklees LibrariesKirklees Libraries Open Access Development£137,068
London Borough of IslingtonArchway Library Digital Hub£136,800
Leicester City Neighbourhood ServicesGreen Libraries£130,000
Wigan CouncilLeigh Library. See Big plans to transform Leigh Library after Wigan Council bosses secure £110k – Wigan Today. Moveable shelving, lighting, projection equipment, staging/seating/blackout blinds. £110,000
London Borough of BromleyInspiration Room – Room of Requirement£98,380
London Borough of BarnetGolders Green Reading Garden£85,150
Sefton LibrariesAccess to Bootle£79,973
Telford & WrekinRenovating the Digital Front Door£68,000
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough CouncilWombwell Children’s Library£65,470
Herefordshire Museums Libraries & ArchivesHerefordshire Libraries£57,087
Bradford LibrariesBradford Libraries Digital Readiness£50,000
  • Public Library Forum 2024 – National Acquisitions Group. London, Thursday 16 May. “A full programme is available below with a broad range of topics including Oldham’s NAG Grant project “Language Barrier Breakers” and LibrariesUnlimited’s “The Secret Book Quest” alongside “The Life of a Dewey Number” with Jo Maxwell from BDS.”
  • Regional Offer Launch – Libraries Connected. Recording of webinar. “To mark the first six months of the Regional Development Programme, we are launching a set of offers for Regional Networks. Our aim is to build an understanding of how the Regional Development Team can support you to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.”
  • What Libraries Risk When They Go Digital – Time. “Digitization has been a transformative tool for scholars and a valuable shield against the dangers that threaten paper-based historical records. But it is time to consider the vulnerabilities of digital repositories as well. Fires, theft, and physical neglect are no longer the only major threats archives face: now we must also add ransomware to the list.”
  • Yorkshire museums and libraries to get £3m funding boost – BBC. “Wakefield Libraries will receive nearly £450,000 for a children’s library which Wakefield Council said would deliver a “transformative experience” for children and families and cater for “those with sensory and physical disabilities”.”

International news

Local news by authority

See here for virtual tour
  • Essex – Rayleigh High Street library to host new Barclays service – Echo series. “Barclays has announced it will now operate a service four days a week from Rayleigh Library, in the High Street, following a series of branch closures in the area.”
  • Flintshire – Flintshire Council assurances over leisure services – Leader. “In a letter seen by the Leader Aura Leisure – which runs most leisure centres in Flintshire – has claimed the council is “contemplating” withdrawing funding support for it. The organisation, which runs the Buckley, Mold, Flint and Deeside leisure centres, has issued a letter to its employees, saying its funding agreement with Flintshire Council ends on March 31.”
  • Gateshead – Crawcrook Library reopening next week – Gateshead Council. “Since the building closed for refurbishment in January, its lighting, decoration and internal fittings have been upgraded to create improved space for community activities and book borrowing.” … “Pelaw Library is also currently closed for refurbishment and expected to reopen within the next few weeks”

“We are not looking to take away Performing Arts Library’s statutory status as it doesn’t have any, indeed no performing arts library does as they were not included in the 1964 Act”

Somerset – Correction to BBC article

Better on balance?

Editorial

Interesting mixture of news from GLL’s several library services this week. On the one hand, three of their library workers are up for national awards, it’s been confirmed that they are continuing to run Dudley’s libraries and there’s a nice refurbishment in Bromley. On the other, there’s strike action in their Bromley and Greenwich library services, with ““low pay and shoddy working practices” being cited. Away from them. there’s a refurbishment in Staffordshire and protest moves against the huge cuts in Birmingham. There’s also a positive news article written by CILIP on the Business and IP Centres out now in the Big Issue.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • British Library did the right thing by not paying cybercriminals – Guardian / Letters. “At the National Cyber Security Centre, which is part of GCHQ, we have long shared the view of our law enforcement partners that paying ransoms should not be condoned, encouraged or endorsed. Doing so does not guarantee a return of access to data or computers, and in fact makes it more likely that the victim will be targeted in future.”
  • CILIP Conference – CILIP. 10-11 July, Birmingham. “Intellectual Freedom will form our headline theme, but per our leadership remit, we will also explore wider challenges and opportunities within our sector.”
  • CILIP North West Away Day and AGM 2024 – CILIP. 17 April, Liverpool. Speaker is Andrew Walsh, neurodivergent librarian, trainer, and National Teaching Fellow.
  • For The Love of Literacy 2024 – Better World Books. Webinar, 27 March 11am. “Join us on Wednesday 27th March at 11am, for 45 minutes, to meet some of our literacy grant and book donation recipients. They’ll tell you about their exciting projects and how our partnership will help achieve their project aims.”
  • Future of Scotland’s Libraries – RSE / Eventbrite. Wednesday 17 April, Edinburgh. “being asked to deal with challenges such as the cost-of-living crisis, book-banning requests, misinformation, the need for climate emergency awareness and more, and all of this in the face of growing budget challenges.”
  • GLL library staff nominated for prestigious awards – GLL. “Nominations and categories are as follows – Gill Nutkins, Stock Librarian, Bromley Libraries “Nominated for her dedication to making library services more accessible to people with additional needs.”. Loretta Awuah, Strategic Business Support Manager, Greenwich, Bromley and Wandsworth Libraries “Nominated for creating the business support section in Greenwich and delivering the British Library SILL (Start Up in London Libraries) programme”. Georgina Carr, Partnership Marketing Programme Owner, Lincolnshire Libraries “Nominated for championing online improvements and bringing in innovative ideas which have enhanced the customers’ experience”
  • Libraries closing across the UK: What could the future hold – BBC Newsround. “Since 2010 nearly 800 libraries across the UK have closed, and visitor numbers have dropped too. A recent report looked at how libraries in England might be different in the future. So Emma-Louise went to meet some children and author, and Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho, to find out what they want from libraries.”
  • More than 100 Bromley and Greenwich library workers to strike next week over pay – News Shopper / Yahoo. Union leader says “There are severe injustices that come with zero hours contracts and a so-called social enterprise should be ashamed to use them. “Our members are ready to fight for better pay and working conditions and we are right behind them.””
  • SLIC CEO Announces Retirement – Scottish Library and Information Council. Pamela Tulloch “A powerful and articulate advocate for libraries, during her time as chief executive she has grown and cemented the role that libraries play in all areas of social, cultural and political life, with successful and robust community initiatives which have had an impact on both the provision of funding and clear strategic lead.”
  • Spine Festival: Bringing poetry to South London’s libraries – London News Online. ACE funded. “Libraries in Lewisham, Southwark, Bromley and Wandsworth will be taking part in the festival, hosting performances across the next month. Each poet has been selected to create three relatable and fun creative writing workshops for their community’s children, exploring the themes of magic and imagination. “
  • They’re in everyone’s good books: Two librarians on shortlists for awards – London News Online. “Two dedicated and hardworking staff members at ‘Better’ libraries covering Bromley, Greenwich and Wandsworth have been shortlisted for distinguished awards from ‘Libraries Connected’.”
  • Want to rebuild the UK economy, Jeremy Hunt? Start with our beautiful public libraries – Big Issue. Jo Cornish of CILIP writes on Business and IP Centres in public libraries: “Over a three-year period (2016-2019), these centres helped no fewer than 12,388 business to launch – nearly half of which were in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’. Over the same period these ‘library start-ups’ generated £239m in additional sales, creating 7,800 new jobs in the process.”. These businesses were demographically diverse.
  • What’s the point of libraries? – Unison. “Library activists from Walsall and Hampshire explain the reality behind the stats that funding has been decimated and libraries are closing at an alarming rate” … ““It’s people in the cracks in society, without a support network around them, those are who rely on libraries.””

International news

Local news by authority

Birmingham
  • Bournemouth Christchurch Poole – BCP Council cuts hard copy newspapers in libraries – Daily Echo. “BCP Council has made the decision to cut all physical copies in its 24 libraries across the conurbation, saving the authority around £15,000 a year. Instead, around 1,000 newspapers will still be available digitally with the usual national papers and the Bournemouth Echo. ” … “Hours are set to be cut by an average of 10 hours a week, at each library, from April, which could save the authority £440,200.”
  • Bradford – Family fun at Bradford Libraries this Easter – Rombalds Radio. “Libraries will be reading stories and singing rhymes and there will be craft activities including making fluffy bunnies, designing Easter eggs, decorating bird houses, building Easter baskets, and creating Easter plant pots.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Changes to Hove Library archive stock collection – Brighton and Hove Council. “our libraries will be looking to sell a part of the archive stock collection through public auction. All funds raised from sales will be put aside for future spending on Hove Library.”
  • Bromley – Refurbishment of Southborough Library to begin soon – Bromley Council. “The council is undertaking an extensive repair programme across nine of the borough’s libraries, investing over £10m over the course of two years. The programme will deliver essential repairs to the libraries and seek to provide improved accessibility and sustainability throughout the buildings. The £500k refurbishment of Southborough Library will include a comprehensive repair programme with end of life materials replaced and repairs made to the building’s infrastructure, as well as new public access toilets with baby changing facilities.”
    • ‘Appalling’ GLL is facing strike by library workers in Bromley – Inside Croydon. “Library workers in Bromley are to take strike action over “low pay and shoddy working practices”, according to their union, Unite.” … “The union says that they employ library workers on zero hours contracts and implement “policies that do not align with local government conditions”.” … “, pay awards would have been higher if staff were still in-house.””
  • Croydon – Exploring the vague proposals on the table for Croydon’s libraries – Save Croydon Libraries. “The proposal and the consultation use misleading language, expressed in overly-positive terms, about changes that will purportedly improve access to libraries. What is being proposed is so vague that it is very difficult to understand what is really intended. For example, a ‘community book collection’ could mean anything: a box of random donated books; a shelf of library books in the corner of a post office, pub, or church hall; or a more comprehensive, well-curated offer in a large inclusive space. Self-service could mean self-service checking in and out of books, or it could refer to fully staffless ‘self-”
    • £51,000pa saved on library won’t touch council’s £1.6bn debt – Inside Croydon. “since 2019, our libraries service has had it budget reduced by more than £800,000 and opening hours have been reduced. Now, they’re at it again and Sanderstead and three other Croydon libraries are earmarked for closure as part of proposed changes. I suspect I’m not the only one who sees the cruel irony of London’s Borough of Culture proposing such an act of cultural vandalism.”
  • Darlington – Record numbers make a beeline for new look library – Darlington Council. “Among the new innovations which has proved most popular since the library reopened last September has been The Hive, a cutting-edge space designed to ignite curiosity and fascination in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) activities. After securing a £30,000 grant from LibraryOn, Darlington libraries teamed up with North East company Fuzzy Logic Studio to improve its online presence and engagement. The Hive boasts an interactive wall mural …”
  • Derby – Council invites bids to run Derby’s ten community libraries – Derby Council. “Derby City Council is inviting organisations to formally register their interest in running the city’s ten community libraries as a Trust.” … “As part of their application, organisations need to show that they have the knowledge, experience, and resources or support to manage the buildings or spaces to deliver a range of services, including library provision.”
  • Dudley – Books will be on sale at Stourbridge Library for just 25p – Halesowen News.
    • GLL to continue providing Dudley library service – Dudley Council. “Following a competitive tender process, the charitable social enterprise has been awarded the contract for the day-to-day management of the 13 libraries and Dudley Archives and Local History Service. GLL, which has been running Dudley’s libraries and archives since 2017, is committed to continuing to maintain and build on the service for borough residents. It is currently planning an official launch in the coming months of Brierley Hill Library, following it’s £670,000 refurbishment, and later this year will be launching the GLL Literary Foundation, which will support talented authors who are based near local libraries.”
  • Gloucestershire – Exciting event to return and library gets another funding win – Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard. “To help with the annual operating costs of the Library, the Gloucestershire County Councillor for Fairford and Lechlade-on-Thames, Dom Morris has announced that a one-off grant of £2,000 will be paid to the Library alongside the existing annual £10,000 at the start of this financial year and is to be used at the discretion of the Library volunteers to assist with any increased costs.”
  • Essex – Update on new Shenfield Library – Essex Council. “A topping out ceremony has marked a key milestone in the construction of Shenfield’s new library. The project will deliver a modern library and commercial space. Nine high quality apartments will be for sale above.”
  • Hampshire – North Baddesley Community Library raises more than £150 – Hampshire Chronicle. “Money raised will go towards buying replacement book shelves and new large print books which are popular among local readers.”. A further jigsaw sale is planned.
  • Kirklees – Kirklees Council set to sell off buildings and land to plug £47m deficit – BBC News. “Also on the list is the former Almondbury Library and community facilities including the DRAM Sport and Community Centre at Dalton.”
  • Knowsley – Teenage Writing Competition at Knowsley’s Libraries – Knowsley News. “Knowsley Libraries are running a writing competition for aspiring teenage writers. You can write a short story, poetry, a script or even a novel in any genre, the only criteria is that it should be an original piece of work and should be no more than 2,000 words in length”
  • Leicester – UK council won’t say whether two-week ‘cyber incident’ impacted resident data – Register. “Libraries and community centers remain open, and waste services continue to operate as normal, but access to public computers, Wi-Fi, and printing is down. “
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire librarian in line for prestigious award – Lincolnshire World. “Georgina – who is the Partnership Marketing Programme Manager in the region – has been nominated for championing online improvements and bringing in innovative ideas which have enhanced the customers’ experience. These include a bespoke video sharing customers’ library stories, integrated catalogue functions, and room and activity booking facilities within the website.”
  • Manchester‘Unique’ south Manchester library set for major revamp – with closures announced – Manchester Evening News. “Chorlton Library will undergo a revamp, with work starting later this month. Once it fully reopens next year, the grade-II listed building will boast new meeting rooms, longer opening hours, and improved stonework and windows.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Review of library and archive service across North East Lincolnshire closing this week – North East Lincolnshire Council. “The first stage of the review of library and archive services across North East Lincolnshire is coming to a close at the end of this week with nearly 600 people already having contributed their views. The current statutory library service and archive service is operated by Lincs Inspire Ltd …” … “The results of the first stage of consultation will inform proposals about how the services may look in the future, which will be the subject of the second stage of consultation, likely to be released in the late spring or summer of 2024.”
  • Nottingham – Nottingham library opening delayed after contractor goes bust – West Bridgford Wire. “The opening of the revamped Sherwood Library has been hampered by the collapse of a construction company and subsequent “snagging issues” – but remains on target for the summer.”
  • Redcar and Cleveland – ‘Let’s not remove the magic’: Pleas fail as council agrees library cuts – Darlington and Stockton Times / Yahoo. “The council said it received interest from 112 people who would like to become a library volunteer, while a number of organisations indicated that they would be interested in taking over Laburnum or Dormanstown Library buildings.”
  • Sandwell – CBeebies Bedtime Stories chair comes to Sandwell – Sandwell Council. “The chair will be located in Central Library, West Bromwich, for the next few months before being a tour around other libraries in Sandwell later this year. CBeebies Bedtime Stories legacy reading corners are being introduced at libraries in Sandwell, Leeds, Blackpool, Hartlepool, Leicester, Brent and Somerset.”
  • Somerset – New library scheme tackles abuse against women in Somerset – County Gazette / Yahoo. “Purple chairs are being installed in libraries across Somerset to provide a beacon of safety for women and girls. The “Purple Chair Scheme” will aim to provide safe spaces for women and girls across the county to get information about health and wellbeing, along with support and resources to help with any difficult circumstances.”
  • Somerset Libraries Neurodiversity books – Somerset Apple. “The collection includes 50 books and aims to provide ‘something for everyone’ including books for children, young people, adults, parents, women and those without an official diagnosis but who experience neurodivergent traits.”
    • Performing arts library in firing line of council cuts – BBC. “Somerset’s only performing arts library is facing closure as the council looks to save money. Located on the second floor of Yeovil library, the “unique” performing arts section offers music and drama study resources to the public. But Somerset Council is considering its removal from the Statutory Library Services.”
South Lanarkshire
  • Staffordshire – Burton Library set to undergo £1.3m refurb with extensive improvements – Staffordshire Council. “An allocation of £265,000 was secured from the Government’s Libraries Improvement Fund with Staffordshire County Council investing the remainder.” … “The refurbishment will involve repurposing the ground floor of the library into a vibrant, multi-purpose, accessible and inclusive space. It will include a flexible creative area for social activity and community learning which could be used by a range of groups and learning providers.”
  • Suffolk – Know Another Mocktail EventSuffolk Libraries. “Know Another is our new drink-awareness campaign to help you understand your alcohol intake and get advice to help cut down.”
    • Suffolk Libraries Day is coming – Suffolk Libraries. “libraries across Suffolk are hosting events and activities to raise money to support the vital work of the organisation in nurturing children’s literacy, tackling isolation and promoting wellbeing.” … “Suffolk Libraries Day has been running since 2019 and has so far raised over £50,000 to support Suffolk Libraries work in the community.”
  • Swindon – Swindon borough and parish councils to work more closely – Swindon Advertiser / Yahoo News. “One major service could be libraries. Cllr Grant’s report says:” There are five core libraries delivered by the borough council which forms part of the council’s statutory service and nine community libraries delivered by parish councils or community organisations, with agreed services such as stock management and training delivered by the borough council library service. As part of planning for sustainable delivery of library services, the council will explore the opportunities for further collaborative arrangements between the councils with regard to the future delivery of library services.””
  • Warwickshire – Warwickshire Libraries celebrates Shakespeare Week with pre-school ‘Storytelling with Shakespeare’ sessions – Warwickshire Council.
  • West Berkshire – New Thatcham Library part of wider regeneration plan for Brownsfield Road site – Newbury Today. “West Berkshire Council has allocated £1.2m in its budget for next year for a new build under ‘Thatcham Library’.”
  • West Northamptonshire – Self-funded community library calls for volunteers – BBC. Roade: “Without our volunteers it just wouldn’t exist. “You can have the funds but unless you’ve got the people to staff the library you are nowhere really.” The library is open Wednesday to Saturday and there are two volunteers at every session.”
  • Wolverhampton – Residents offered free health checks in libraries – BBC / Yahoo. “City of Wolverhampton Council said health monitors had been installed so people could also measure their height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and heart rate. No appointments are required and the checks are free and confidential, the authority said. Results are printed on a slip of paper for users to take away with them.”