Cummings controversy and good news


CILIP has got in trouble over the last few days due to an article it published on Dominic Cummings and his views on libraries. To be honest, I did not really take much note of it myself other than thinking it was a quite interesting piece on the viewpoint of a very important advisor. But, wow, Library Twitter took a different view, with even what I consider moderates laying in to the professional association for the piece, and several saying they will cease their membership because of it. See the links below and make up your own mind.

I do completely like the joint CILIP and Big Issue campaign to help public libraries, though, and I don’t see any one else out there who could feasibly have done it. Other than that, it’s been another good week for libraries, with Bradford reducing its proposed cuts even further by spending £200k on putting its shelves on wheels and Edinburgh getting rid of a £300k cut.

Changes by authority

National news

  • Bobby Seagull is taking a petition fighting for library funding to Number 10 – Big Issue. “The Libraries Champion is working with CILIP and The Big Issue to return library funding to 2010 levels – and the petition has already attracted more than 1,000 signatures in just two days”
  • “Do People Even Go To Libraries Any More?” – The Public (Film Review) – Vulturehound. “There’s talk about “Johnny Steinbeck” being staff member Jena Malone’s “tenth grade crush” and a clueless patron querying why she can’t find a “life-size globe of the Earth” to study. Estevez’s script is at its strongest in these scenes, sketching a sort of mundane stupidity that brings the laughs in a cosy way.”
  • Dominic Cummings: Libraries are “desperately needed” – CILIP. “… special adviser, Dominic Cummings, has no such conditions attached to his support for libraries. He sees them as fundamental to the survival of the country – as one of the few things that should permanently survive in institutions that manage complexity, government departments in particular. “
    • CILIP response to discussion surrounding Dominic Cummings article – CILIP. “In this instance, we considered the article, its tone and approach very critically and carefully prior to publication. Nothing in the article – including the fact of its publication – endorses Cummings or his views, or the Government’s policy on libraries.”
  • End library austerity – secure revenue funding for public libraries in the Chancellor’s Budget – Libraries Deliver. “CILIP and The Big Issue call on the Secretaries of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Communities, Housing and Local Government (MCHLG) to bring an end to 10 years of library austerity and to work together to invest in the future of our towns and communities by reinstating revenue funding for libraries to its pre-austerity level in the forthcoming Budget.” 4155 signatures at time of accessing on Sunday 23 February 9.25am.
  • How ebooks and libraries help bring people together – Big Issue. Pro ebook article by ebook provider Overdrive.
  • Make Google work for you – Koios UK Library Webinar. “In this 45-minute webinar, Trey from Koios will explain the basics of how your library can qualify for up to £7,500 a month worth of free online advertising from Google.”. Includes 50% discount on how to apply.
  • Picture books on prescription – Guardian. “Rosen’s book depicts his grief at the death of his son Eddie from meningitis at the age of 18. “These books will start conversations with children about how they’re feeling and show them that others have felt the same way,” he says. “Public libraries have long been places where people have sought answers and comfort; this scheme combines the safe space of the library with inspiring children and families to read for pleasure and wellbeing.””
  • S&S strikes partnership with Library Link – BookSeller. “Library Link is a dedicated resource for public libraries and librarians, enabling them to communicate directly with Simon & Schuster’s fiction editorial team about books, authors and events. The service will include suggestions about how best to serve and engage libraries’ local communities, a monthly newsletter and dedicated Twitter feed.”

International news

Local news by authority

“We are delighted that Simon Armitage has agreed to include Abington in his library tour this year. It is a real coup for our library to have been selected and we will be using the occasion as a ‘thank you’ event to our loyal supporters and helpers who have come along to meetings, coffee mornings and other events and encouraged us to keep going during the very uncertain period since autumn 2017 when Northamptonshire County Council first announced its major library review plans and indicated that Abington Library was at risk of closure. We are now in the process of transferring to being a volunteer-run community library in partnership with Abington Community Centre. There is a clear need for this much-loved local library to continue to serve people of all ages in Abington and the surrounding neighbourhoods and to have recognition of our library by this well known literary figure is a real boost for us.”

Northamptonshire – Jan Anderson, Chair of the Friends of Abington Library (Quote received via email)



Another week of, on aggregate, good news for libraries. The biggest of these is Bradford, that has gone from wanting to, basically, strip its library service to, rather, keep it all open but with more co-locations and other services coming in.

The last decade has been very much a period of co-locationing libraries with other services in order to both cut costs and maximise footfall, although this has been hidden by the darker news of other more serious cuts. Done right, these locations can be joyous things, with all partners benefitting and places abuzz. Done wrong and it’s hard to find the library in amongst the other services, with the core purpose (free, neutral, access to information, books, study space) being overwhelmed by partner services, some disturbingly commercial in nature.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • The Freckle Report 2020: An analysis of public libraries in the US, UK and Australia (Freckle library reports) – Tim Coates, £92. “This report analyses the historic performance of public library services in the US, UK and Australia. It contains a narrative of the past ten years, showing declines in use and how widely they have occurred. It looks at the performance of different library activities and of different categories of expenditure on libraries. It looks at the use of different reading formats that are available and how much they are used in public libraries compared to the wider reading public. It identifies the purpose of reading in libraries and what influences people to read their books. The report draws conclusions and makes recommendations for improvement. “
  • “I’ve seen firsthand what we lose if we don’t invest in libraries” – Big Issue. “The impact of cuts to services like libraries, youth services, culture and sport spreads deep into communities and leaves lasting damage. Dr Emma Davidson has studied the fallout” … “During my research for the Leverhulme Trust on public libraries and austerity, I’ve seen firsthand all that we will lose if disinvestment in public libraries continues. So, what’s so special about a public library? Well, for starters they are a free and accessible community resource – something that is becoming ever more scarce. When working well, they can be a vibrant community hub for education, digital inclusion, workforce development, community engagement and more.”
  • Making the Case For Tor Relays in Libraries – Medium. “We don’t pay by the byte, so all that time we are closed is time when library bandwidth is going to waste. So, what to do with all the extra bandwidth? If libraries believe they are public good then it should be utilized instead of being wasted. I advocate that all libraries install a Tor relay in their building.”
  • New year, new culture secretary: Oliver Dowden arrives at the DCMS – Museums and Heritage Advisor.
  • UK literacy campaign set for launch in city – JMU Journalism. “Liverpool Central Library has been chosen to host the launch of a national campaign to get adults reading. The Quick Reads initiative, established in 2006, enlists six popular authors each year to write an easily accessible book.”
  • Saturdays in the library prepared me for Paxman – Big Issue. Bobby Seagull: “Libraries are more than just books, they represent what it means to be truly human. They contain the minds of our ancestors as well as the latest thinking of contemporary minds. We need our libraries, as they are shining beacons of knowledge, sharing and inclusive communities.”


Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Chance to have your say over future shape of district’s libraries service – Keighley News. “Bradford Council is seeking people’s views on how they want to see Keighley Library and others evolve in the years ahead. The council said a consultation exercise held over the past 12 months had been a huge success, with more than 3,000 responses received. But it added that the current model for libraries on its own was “not financially sustainable” in the long term. “
  • Bromley – Deal on Libraries – Bromley Borough News. “This issue is no doubt set to rumble on for a while yet. Unite, among others, will continue to see a privately run library network as inherently dangerous, yet Bromley will point to big savings made by using GLL. The strike may have ended, but the debate certainly has not.”
  • Essex – Libraries turn a page for the 21st century – Gazette News. “After announcing there would be no closures, council leader David Finch told a meeting he was pleased the consultation had “reinvigorated” the public’s desire and love for libraries. As part of Essex 2020 – a year long, county wide celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) – the council is set to utilise this dual purpose of its libraries. “
  • Greenwich – Plumstead Centre Library opens its doors today after multi-million refurbishment – News Shopper. “The Grade II listed building has undergone a 15-month refurbishment to renovate the old Plumstead Library and created a new, modernised one accompanied with a leisure centre, community rooms and a cafe. Described as a “brilliant unifying community space at the heart of Plumstead” with “fantastic new facilities,” a launch event was held to celebrate the official opening of the Plumstead Centre. “
  • Hampshire – Number of users at Basingstoke’s closure-threatened libraries go up – Romsey Advertiser. “More than 120,000 people used Chineham or South Ham libraries between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. This is up from 118,000 in 2015-16. This two per cent rise bucks a trend across the rest of the Hampshire, which saw an eight per cent decrease over four years and a 15 per cent decrease since 2017-18. Chineham saw more than 78,000 people use its library last year, making it the busiest of the ten at risk of closure and 21st in total. “
    • Campaigners make a stand against Gosport library closure threat – News. “Elson Library in Gosport held a drop-in session on Tuesday which saw dozens of residents discuss how they use the space and what a lifeline it is to this community. It comes as Hampshire County Council consults on plans to cut 10 libraries or reduce opening hours by a quarter to save money. Veronica Walker, who has lived in Elson all her life, said: ‘It’s not just about losing a library, it’s a community hub, not just for the elderly but for young and children. It would be a great loss.'”
    • Reader’s letter: ‘closing libraries is a retrograde act’ – Hampshire Chronicle. “It’s significant that the consultation (whether genuine or politically tactical) on the future of Hampshire’s library service states that the first of three options which are not being consulted on at this time is: “transfer(ring) Hampshire Libraries to a Trust Model. This is because Trust models are still in their infancy and the County Council would need to be convinced of their resilience and sustainability efore considering Trusts as a potential option.””
  • Newham – Drag Queen Story Time event defended by Newham Council after Twitter attacks – Newham Recorder. “Newham Council’s Twitter account saw 1,600 messages in response to a tweet publicising the first of its Drag Queen Story Times in Canning Town Library on February 7. A majority of users attacked the plans, questioning how appropriate the event was, while a few signalled their support. Deputy Mayor and lead member for community neighbourhoods, Cllr Charlene McLean, said: “These special reading events are designed to be fun, capture the imagination of children and get them used to embracing differences in others and treating everyone as equal from an early age. “
  • Northamptonshire – Earls Barton Library and Community Centre volunteers celebrate latest chapter – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Supporters who fought for three years to save Earls Barton’s library cheered as the ribbon was cut marking the opening of the newly-refurbished centre. About 80 people raised their glasses of fizz to welcome the new era of volunteer-run provision which had been under threat after Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) budget cuts.”
  • North Tyneside – Revealed: Massive scheme to transform Tynemouth’s tired library – Chronicle Live. “If the plans are approved, the building would be completely rebuilt as a modern hub that could accommodate library and financial services under one roof. The council will continue to operate the library and will partner with Newcastle Building Society to secure the creation of a community branch inside and private apartments could also be created above.”
  • North YorkshireMalton library introduces read to dogs sessions – Minster FM. “Read2Dogs was launched at Selby library with two rescue dogs from Serbia, who act as therapy dogs with their owners. Malton library has decided to follow suit with Rosie the black Labrador, who is meeting budding readers at a taster session at 10.30am on Wednesday 19 February. “
  • Oxfordshire – Banbury library part of new recycle scheme – Banbury Guardian. “Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is to launch a new trial service to residents with a way to ensure their unwanted small electrical items can be repaired and reused, reducing what the county would otherwise send to waste.”
  • Powys – Town libraries may begin to ‘feel the heat’, says councillor – County Times. “Possible cuts to library services in Powys is “a bit alarming” however it is “not a case for Llanidloes to panic,” said a local county councillor. Cllr Gareth Morgan (Liberal Democrat, Llanidloes) said at a town council meeting that other town libraries may begin to “feel the heat” from Powys County Council (PCC). He said: “I’m fairly calm about it at the moment because we are ahead of the game as far as contributing to the overheads are concerned. “
  • St HelensResidents’ views wanted on future of Gamble Building in St Helens town centre – St Helens Reporter. Central Library will move to World of Glass.
  • StaffordshireVolunteers back Staffordshire’s library service – Tamworth Informed. “A report to Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet says that more than 1,100 volunteers are giving the equivalent of £1.4m worth of time either helping in the 27 Community Managed Libraries, or in one of the 16 larger libraries still directly run by the local authority.”
  • Suffolk – New coffee shop welcomes its first customers at Ipswich library – Ipswich Star. “Nikki Hulse, business development manager at Suffolk Libraries said: “We’re very excited to welcome Coffeelink to Ipswich County Library and are proud to be working with such a well-loved and ethical local business. We hope library customers will enjoy this new service and that it’ll also bring new people into the library.”
  • Thurrock Aveley Library set to reopen as part of the new Aveley Community Hub – Your Thurrock. “The hub which includes the library, a café and activities for local residents will open at 10am on Tuesday 18 February at its new home in New Maltings, High Street, Aveley, RM15 4BY after closing the doors on its Purfleet Road building for the last time on Saturday 1 February. It joins the new Aveley Community Hub which will initially open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.”
  • Wiltshire – Wiltshire Police will use libraries as bases to work and speak to public – Swindon Advertiser. “Officers and staff will begin using town libraries as ‘touchdown points’ where they can engage with the public in their communities. “

Government does not lie overly much about libraries in Lords statement


It’s no surprise when a government spokesman says how they’re big believers and funders in libraries. Any government is accomplished at massaging the truth and the person in question may even have believed it. The line about wanting libraries to “thrive” is directly out of the Ed Vaizey playbook, circa 2012, and the bias shown towards “commissioned” libraries (that is, those not directly by councils) has been part of the agenda for about the same length of time.

What is surprising is that, actually, public libraries – with obvious exceptions (Northants, Essex, Hampshire, Bradford etc) – are actually doing a lot better than they have done for a while. I mean by that simply they’re not facing massive cuts in funding but, at least, it’s something. The “changes by local authority” below is almost all good news, or at least it is at first look.

Another thing is the statement that the government has only recently got to know exactly how many libraries there are. This struck me as wrong at the time – precise figures have been quoted for as long as I can remember – but apparently the number until recently has been a bit of a con tick, with the bete noire CIPFA being their normal selves when it came to accuracy.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Brutal Tory library cuts slash 10 million books from shelves – Mirror. “More than 10 million books have been axed from libraries across England since the Tories came to power. Brutal Tory cuts have led to nearly a million children’s books lost.” … “Shadow Culture Minister Kevin Brennan said: “Libraries are precious community assets, but a decade of Tory austerity cuts to council budgets has taken its toll on local services.”
  • Children who own books six times more likely to read above expected level, survey finds – Independent. “The findings come as hundreds of libraries across the country have been forced to close amid spending cuts. “
  • Digital Inclusion and How to Address It – Lorensbergs. “orensbergs co-facilitated a workshop with Brent Libraries on Digital Literacy Skills for the Otherwise Disenfranchised. 20 library authorities were in attendance and we covered a lot of ground. Here’s some of the key areas discussed and ideas shared, with slides available for download at the end of the page.”
  • Let’s create – Arts Council England. Strategy 2020-30. “We believe that England’s network of public libraries provides a vital resource for the development of creativity and the promotion of culture across the country”.
  • Lord John Bird has taken the battle for library funding to the Lords – Big Issue. “The Big Issue has long been fighting the corner for libraries. Lord Alan Haworth alluded to many of the reasons why in the short debate. Libraries are “for more than just books, they are for digital skills, accessing benefits, keeping warm and finding human kindness”, according to the Labour peer.
  • Public Libraries – Question – House of Lords. Lord Bird asks about public libraries following CILIP report. Baroness Baran replies government is aiming to see libraries thrive and are investing in local government and £125m into museums and libraries specifically. She goes on to say that they now know how many libraries there are, unlike “not so long ago”. 25% of libraries have seen visits grow since 2005 and that “the successful libraries are the ones that are being most innovative in responding to the needs of their communities, including in digital literacy and other services that they offer.” with “commissioned libraries” doing especially well.
  • Simon Armitage: ‘I think poetry is our greatest and most democratic art form’ – I. ““I am trying to do this in a kind of A-Z way. So, this year the libraries I’ll be visiting all begin with either A or B including Aberdeen, Belfast, Bootle, the British Library and two or three others. I’m aiming to do the great and the small – the big flagship national and city libraries but also really small rural ones, and I’d love to maybe visit a mobile library in the Outer Hebrides or somewhere.””
  • Steel and Butler join Reading Agency – BookSeller. “The Reading Agency has appointed former librarian Louisa Steel as head of engagement (adults) and Hayley Butler as head of marketing . The charity said the new appointments will support The Reading Agency’s mission to ensure everyone across the UK is reading their way to a better life.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bristol – City council leaders say they “should be thanked” for keeping libraries open – Bristol Live. “A masterplan to make Bristol’s libraries fit for the future has received a mixed reaction amid fears their long-term survival remains uncertain. City council leaders have launched a four-year strategy and say they should be thanked for their “astonishing achievement” in keeping all 27 branches open, despite planning to close all but 10 of them in 2017, an idea they abandoned following a deluge of objections. But opposition councillors say the glossy 24-page document is not really a strategy but a “series of aspirations” that does not guarantee each library’s future.”. Hopes include “wifi printing for users at every branch, longer non-staffed opening hours and extra services from partners such as health, employer support and debt advice.”
  • Bromley – Eight-month strike by Bromley library workers ends after agreement reached with employers – London News. “The new agreement reached includes new staffing structures being introduced and no compulsory redundancies. An agreement has also been reached on pay progression and arrears payments.”
  • Darlington – Children gearing up to launch Darlington’s BookFest – Northern Echo.
  • Flintshire – Flint Library transformed after £360,000 worth of upgrades – Leader. “Aura Leisure and Libraries secured £300,000 of funding for improvement works at Flint Library through a successful capital grant application to the Welsh Government’s Museums, Archives and Libraries Division (MALD). In addition to the £300,000, both Aura and Flintshire Council contributed to the development, totalling £360,000 in new investment. ” … “… community kitchen and heritage exhibition area. The children’s library, training rooms and main library, have also been redesigned and renovated in order to create more flexible community spaces. Along with the refurbishments, Aura has implemented brand new self-service machines “
  • Hammersmith and Fulham – Look inside the newly renovated Shepherds Bush Library as council promises roof won’t leak – Gotech Daily. £150k refurbishment. “an additional floor, a “warmer and more versatile” children’s library, and more study space”. Hammersmith and Fulham Council said they had “repaired multiple leaks” in the building and sealed heating grates and floor boxes that had become a “trip hazard”.
  • Hampshire – Community unites in fight for libraries – Basingstoke Observer. “The Friends of Chineham Library organised a ‘Big Read In’ to demonstrate the importance of the library to the community. The event took place on February 4th to coincide with Hampshire County Council’s (HCC) public consultation drop in session.”
    • Petition launched to stop library cuts – Newbury Today. Kingsclere: “In an effort to retain the council’s support, library committee member Sarah Davis created the petition last week and it has already received more than 350 signatures.”
  • Hertfordshire – Outsourcing of library service delayed as new group not set up yet – Watford Observer. “Libraries for Life – a public sector mutual set up by Hertfordshire County Council – was awarded the contract to run the county’s 46 libraries last year. And the organisation had been expected to take over the service on December 1. But now it has emerged the transfer of the service has been delayed until April, amid fears that neither organisation was ready. “
  • Kirklees – Kirklees Council budget reverses £370,000 library cuts – Chronicle. “Kirklees Council has reined back on plans to find savings of £370,000 within its libraries service. Instead it will plough the money into an ongoing revamp focusing on libraries acting as hubs for a range of services such as the voluntary and community sector, primary care and communities teams. The redesign by Kirklees Council’s chief librarian, Carol Stump, focuses on the “wider community function” including more volunteer input.”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire’s mobile libraries to expand their routes – Garstang Courier. “fter deciding last year to reduce the frequency of mobile visits from fortnightly to every three weeks – a change which will commence in June – the authority has found that it will have spare capacity to extend the coverage provided across the county. The trial services will be run on two half days when a vehicle would not otherwise be in use. The new stops will be served for a period of six months and then assessed to determine whether there is enough demand to make them permanent.”
  • Leicester – Library shows off its £180,000 facelift – Leicester City Council. “During a 12-week programme of works which began last autumn, the public library space was fully refurbished to provide a modern, flexible library space.  The improved layout includes a new children’s area, an improved study space and open areas to meet and read.  Accessible toilets were installed, and charging points were added for people who want to bring their own laptops into the library.”
  • Norfolk – D-Tech International to install 95 kiosks in UK libraries – Kiosk Marketplace. “supply 95 self-service kiosks to 47 Norfolk County Council Libraries in Norfolk, U.K. It is the provider’s biggest ever roll-out, according to a press release. The new installations replace existing self-service units which are out of contract at the end of March 2020.”
  • Northamptonshire – Desborough town council criticised for ‘mis-using’ its power over library issue – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Desborough Town Council was widely criticised last night (February 3) by members of Kettering Council’s standards committee for its latest decision to flout the recommendation made last August by the council’s monitoring officer, that town councillors who are also library trustees should not have a say on the town council’s funding decisions to do with the library.”
    • Thrapston Town Council withdraws from library purchase – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Thrapston Town Council has decided to withdraw from a deal to buy the town’s library building. In March 2018, the council had agreed to purchase the library building and surrounding land to secure it as a public asset for the town. It was hoped to use the premises as a community hub but the council has assured the public a library service will continue in Thrapston.”
  • Perth and Kinross – Libraries and museums to open late due to Culture Perth and Kinross staff training – Daily Record.
  • Sheffield – “SOS call for libraries” Star / Letters. “Sheffield Libraries SOS argues that in light of the facts that the funding for volunteer libraries comes up for renewal this year, book loans are down dramatically since the transfer to volunteers and that whole swathes of the city do not have access to a staffed library service, that now is the right time for Sheffield Libraries to start running all libraries with council staff once again and to reintegrate all 16 co-delivered and associate libraries back into the council library service.”
    • Lowedges Library – South Sheffield. “spearheading our project to open a new branch library in Lowedges in partnership with the LBJ Forum … In these times of declining book borrowing and library closures, opening a new one is a bold step ― one that reflects our growing confidence as an organisation since taking over Greenhill Library five years ago.”
    • Sheffield library volunteers named community champions – Star. “A Sheffield library has been named The Moor Community Award champion, thanks to the dedication of its team of volunteers who refused to let reading become a dying hobby.”
  • Northamptonshire – Still a chance Higham Ferrers library could re-open in former building – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “strategic libraries manager Anne Lovely says a library council could still remain in the old building. Speaking at the opening of the new community library in Rothwell last Friday she said: “I’m still hopeful and I don’t give up on a library.”
  • RotherhamHave your say on £7m Rotherham libraries shake-up – Rotherham Advertiser. “Rotherham Council will invest £7 million across the 15 centres, including moving town centre provision from Riverside to the markets. The public now has a final chance to give its opinions about the future role of libraries and the improvements being made.” … “A staffless libraries pilot project — using card entry, CCTV and self-service machines — is also planned for three centres.” … “Meanwhile, a separate consultation has been opened for Brinsworth, where the proposal is for the new £270,000 library to be run by a community trust with support from RMBC.”
  • Sunderland – Delay to the opening of Sunderland’s Elephant Tea Rooms as city’s Local Studies Library – Sunderland Echo. “The Grade II-listed Elephant Tea Rooms on the corner of Fawcett Street and High Street West has been bought by Sunderland City Council who last year revealed plans to open a local studies library in the space”
  • Warrington – Lucy, 82, is town’s champion book borrower – Warrington Worldwide. 310 books read in one year. “In total the number of books read by the top dozen borrowers was 2,659 – on average 221 books per person.”
  • West Sussex – All libraries closed on Monday 10 February for IT implementation – District Post. New computer system.
  • WorcestershireLabour call for investment in libraries and transport ahead of budget meeting – Redditch Standard. “The Leader of the Labour group, Redditch Councillor Robin Lunn, said his party would be calling for the county to use its higher than expected rate of council tax collection to spend an extra £500,000 on boosting key library services with cash to buy new books and new e-books for online readers. County libraries have been under increasing financial pressure in recent years and the group is also calling for a £50,000 marketing campaign to promote the modern benefits they offer.”

ACE strategy, Instagram and Bromley


It’s good to see Arts Council England emphasising public libraries in its new strategy. As the major “extra” funder of the sector, its influence has been felt over the last decade too often in the form of promising but, ultimately, quickly forgotten one-offs and innumerable small theatre shows. Recently this has changed with longer term and larger scale funding. Whether the new focus will mean more of that or, simply, we get yet more such flashes in the pan remains to be seen.

It’s also pleasant to see Libraries Connected moving forward with new appointments. I was lucky enough to attend training at Broadcasting House on Wednesday, as part of an ACE funded partnership with the BBC. The main takeaways from me from it was in terms of social media (it’s engagements not follows that matter, Instagram is the third platform we need to get into) and that we need to, gosh, think of the target audience when promoting events. By the way, if you’re looking for good library Instagram accounts, a quick enquiry on Twitter told me that plymlibraries, Bolton_library, toonlibraries, manclib_archives, dokk1aarhus, greenwichlibs, Christchurchlib, Redbridgelibs, Eveshamlib and leedslibraries are worth a glance. And also you can’t go wrong with BookFaceFriday pictures.

Finally, possibly the longest library strike in recent times is now over, with the Unite union claiming victory in Bromley.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Arts Council England commits to library investment boost in 10-year plan – BookSeller. “: “We believe that England’s network of public libraries provides a vital resource for the development of creativity and the promotion of culture across this country. They are the country’s most widespread and well-used cultural spaces, sitting at the heart of communities and often providing the first point of access to cultural activity. They help to build stronger, happier communities, support social prescribing, develop readers and promote digital literacy. They will be central to our delivery of this strategy, and over the next 10 years we will increase our investment in them.”
  • CWA Dagger in the Library – Crime Writers Association. Your chance to nominate. “The Dagger in the Library is a prize for a body of work by a crime writer that users of libraries particularly admire. Only librarians can nominate authors for the award. It is one of the most prestigious crime writing awards in the UK …”
  • Radiohead launched an online ‘public library’ with rare tracks and a printable library card – Verge. “… the clever touch emphasizes how much the Radiohead Public Library (henceforth RPL) does feel like browsing a particularly chaotic research archive. And just like a library, it can point you toward some of the band’s lesser-known work — including its debut album Drill.
  • We’re growing – Libraries Connected. “We’re delighted to announce the appointment of three new roles within the Libraries Connected team to help us to deliver these pieces of work. The new roles are all home-based, which has allowed us to attract talented people from around the country.”

International news

  • Canada – Advocates stick up for libraries amid possible cuts – Chronicle Journal. “The Thunder Bay Public Library board, together with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3120 have responded to the city’s proposed cuts to the library budget, which may result in the elimination of an entire branch.  “Bad things happen when public libraries are closed,” said John Pateman, the city library’s chief executive officer and chief librarian, in a news release. Pateman says he has seen it before where “hundreds of public libraries have closed and thousands of library workers have lost their jobs” in the U.K.”

Local news by authority

Dependent on volunteers


A few of the items this week show how dependent some public library services are on volunteers. North Yorkshire says “acknowledges that without the support of more than 2,000 volunteers and others the service as it exists today would not be possible.”, Oxfordshire open a new branch but say that they will need volunteers to actually run it, and Staffordshire report that they have 1,000 volunteers doing the work that would otherwise keep staff employed to the tune of £1.4m. When library services depend on the unpaid in their thousands to do the work it’s clear to see how things have changed since 2010 when less than ten branches nationwide relied on such generosity.

It’s therefore a suitable week to see that the Community Libraries Network have a new website instead of their blog site they had to do with previously. The site has some useful resources, including on crowdfunding and paying for leases, for volunteer libraries who are facing the hard tough world. The network itself, supported by Upper Norwood Library Trust, Libraries Connected, Locality, the Libraries Taskforce and funding from Power to Change, is looking to rely on member subscriptions, presumably from volunteers already working for free. We will see how that goes.

Changes by local authority

Hi VIS Fortnight 1-14 June 2020 : celebrating the word in all its formats

“Following feedback from partners, we are changing the name of ‘Make A Noise in Libraries’ Fortnight to ‘Hi VIS’ – The emphasis of this initiative has shifted over the years, from being originally forged largely as a campaigning vehicle, to something that latterly has predominantly sought to highlight the excellent work that is going on in libraries, for visually and print impaired people. We thought that the title should change to reflect this shift, and ‘Hi VIS’ seemed to be a good fit.”

The core aim of the Fortnight is still to raise the profile of the various services and activities that exist re. accessible libraries and reading – to highlight and celebrate them; and to connect visually and print impaired people with libraries, reading and other readers.

With developments such as the BBC’s Novels That Shaped The World and the theme for this year’s Libraries Week, there is a welcome (re-)emphasis on books and reading in 2020, and we are looking to build on this. The provision and availability of alternative and accessible formats is critical to visually and print impaired people being able to access reading and literature, and the general theme of this year’s Fortnight will be celebrating the word in all its forms and formats

We would like, during Hi VIS Fortnight, for libraries across the UK to highlight and celebrate all that you do to help people access and connect to the reading services and formats that best suit them, and to engage with reading and related activities

Share the Vision are specifically hoping that Libraries will:

· Promote accessible reading formats and services (their own and other organisation’s); and related local activities;

· Organise their own events, ideally (but not necessarily) building on this year’s theme; and

· Actively post on social media about these services, activities and event

Actions and available resources

· As in previous years, Share the Vision are in the process of producing some promotional materials and will share these nearer to the time. · Resources will be available via Reading Sight ( ).

· RNIB are going to be leading on the social media side of things – establishing the hashtag #HiVIS2020 on Twitter, and we would like all involved to use this to help spread the word.

· Alerts will be sent out to Six Steps Champions across the UK, and Heads of Service will be made aware through Libraries Connected.

Ideas for activities

· Promote the accessible stock that you have – spoken work/talking books, Braille, tactile, e-book/audio/magazine collections

· Highlight ‘Novels That Shaped The World’ in alternative formats

· Feature accessible libraries, such as Calibre, Clearvision, RNIB Library – making local staff and volunteers aware of the wider provision that is available

· Run or raise awareness of an accessible book group

· Invite local ‘sight loss’ or disability groups and partner organisations to visit the library to discuss and demonstrate all that you offer/could offer

· Offer accessible or sensory activity sessions – maybe poetry, or craft or singing… using/celebrating words in different ways

· Deliver an ICT/digital session introducing people to online/e-services and/or new equipment that makes reading and information more accessible

Visit for more information

Join in and engage on Twitter – @readingsight / #HiVIS2020

Mark McCree, Chair, Share The Vision

National news

  • 2019 sees rapid increase in libraries dropping fines – BookSeller. “The number of libraries dropping penalty fines for the late return of books has more than quadrupled in the past year, with those that have changed their policy citing an uptick in membership as a result. Only a couple of libraries had a fines-free policy in the UK before 2018 (Rutland and Shetland), according to Public Libraries News, on top of which Trafford and Portsmouth similarly updated their policy in 2018. However in the past year, eight libraries followed suit in instigating the step-change (Halton, Kirklees, Blackpool, Bridgend, Bath and North East Somerset, Oldham, eeds and Borders) Blackburn’s Darwen  Library [sic – it’s actually Blackburn With Darwen library service – Ed.] has followed suit in 2020″

“For me it was all about making sure we were a relevant, modern and inclusive service. From working with schools and various consultations we had done over the years, we knew that fines were a deterrent for people, especially families, using our libraries… There were some worries expressed that people would take advantage and not return books, but that hasn’t happened. Our rate of non-returned books has not increased in the time since we abolished fines. “In addition, we have had many instances of people telling us they are now using the libraries because we no longer charge fines.”

Sarah Curran of Trafford Libraries

International news

“The biggest thing we’ve seen is improvement in the overall atmosphere and tone”

Jennifer Hoffman, Denver Public Libraries manager of books on borrowing on impact of removal on fines one year ago.
  • Workers at Cleveland Public Library cast near-unanimous vote to authorize strike action – World Socialist Web Site. “On January 8, roughly 400 librarians, assistants and custodians at the Cleveland Public Library (CPL) cast “an overwhelming, and nearly unanimous vote” to authorize a strike, according to a statement sent out by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199. ” .. “. A central focus in SEIU’s statements is the proposed 1.5 percent raise for library workers—many of whom are still impacted by a five-year wage freeze implemented in 2009, failure to adequately increase staffing and concerns over library security.”

Local news by authority

“We will need volunteers to help run the library and the Community Association is very supportive in this.”

Library manager Stephanie Tee on new Barton Library

Bad omen? Major cuts in Hampshire


So the first battle announced in the ongoing war on public libraries is in Hampshire, with 10 out of 48 are under threat plus threats to opening hours and to the pre-existing volunteer libraries there. Local authors and residents have been quick to protest while the local, mainly Conservative, politicians acquiesce and the council itself blames central government while at the same time trying to blackmail locals into becoming volunteers. The critical thing now is if a strong group of local campaigners coalesce, as they did in Essex, or if the public let inaction decide for them.

It was also sad to see Stockport use a windfall from Greater Manchester to no improve its libraries but to pay for staffing cuts by introducing Open+. While the technology itself is not necessarilyy a bad thing, using the technology to pay for staffing cuts normally is. It was also a bit of a bang-the-head-on-the-desk moment to read that the local council is saying it’s looking for a different name than “library” for its, um, library service. “Library” is a brand-name known everywhere, councillors. Own it, don’t disown it. So not the best of starts for 2020 proper. Let’s hope it’s not a bad omen for the rest of the year.

Local news by authority


National news

  • Audiobooks: The rise and rise of the books you don’t read – BBC. “Audiobooks are in the midst of a boom, with Deloitte predicting that the global market will grow by 25 per cent in 2020 to US$3.5 billion (£2.6 billion). Compared with physical book sales, audio is the baby of the publishing world, but it is growing up fast.”
  • Building Confidence in Digital Resources – Niche Academy. Friday Jan 17 at 1:30 pm GMT. “In this free 45-minute webinar Jared Oates, COO of Niche Academy, will explain the features and benefits of Niche Academy’s online training tutorials including how to make best use of video training and how to build your confidence answering enquiries about digital resources. “
  • Public Libraries Forum May 2020 – Call for papers – National Acquisitions Group. “The next NAG public libraries forum will be held on 15th May 2020 at Friends House in London.  We hope this convenient venue close to Euston will encourage attendees from around the UK to attend for another informative and useful day with strong networking opportunities …”

International news

  • Morocco – World’s oldest library reopens in Fez: ‘You can hurt us, but you can’t hurt the books’ – Guardian. “This, it is widely believed, is the oldest library in the world – and soon it will be open to the general public again.” … “In 2012, the ministry of culture, which manages the Qarawiyyin library and university, asked Chaouni to assess the library, and she was pleasantly surprised when her architecture firm was awarded the contract, in a field traditionally seen as a man’s province.”
  • USA / Global – Public Libraries Reach Record-High Ebook and Audiobook Usage in 2019 – Rakuten Overdrive. “Due to their creative efforts in curation, managing multiple lending models and engaging patrons, librarians helped drive public library circulation of digital books to record highs in 2019. Libraries and schools around the world enabled their patrons and students to check out 326 million ebooks, audiobooks and digital magazines in the past 12 months, a 20% increase over the previous year. “
    • County, city libraries eliminate all fines in joint effort for equity – Call Newspapers. “St. Louis’ two largest library systems are going fine-free starting this month with a “New Year, No Fines” initiative. St. Louis County Library and St. Louis Public Library announced Tuesday they will no longer charge fines on late materials beginning in the new year.”

“We are always looking for ways to remove barriers and increase access to library materials and services. Removing overdue fees helps make the library’s resources more accessible and supports literacy efforts for our entire community.”

County library Director Kristen Sorth

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Ian Rankin thriller at top of Aberdeen library list – Evening Express. “Ian Rankin’s detective tale In A House Of Lies was the book most borrowed from Aberdeen’s 18 libraries, according to new figures provided to The Evening Express by Aberdeen City Council. But the undisputed most popular author in the north-east is children’s writer Jeff Kinney, who wrote the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series.”
  • AberdeenshireAberdeenshire Council seeking views on library services – Buchan Observer. “As part of the Aberdeenshire Council’s budget-setting process, savings were identified for the library service and the possibility of the closure of some facilities in smaller villages was outlined. Since then, Live Life Aberdeenshire has been working hard to look at alternative ways of achieving savings by taking a broader view of how library services are provided.”
  • Bolton – Secretary visits Bolton library and praises collection – Bolton News. Baroness Nicky Morgan: “The former MP tweeted: “Wonderful to visit @BoltonLMS this afternoon – they have an amazing collection of national & local treasures. “It is vital that we support our local museums & libraries up & down the county they offer such a sense of place & civic pride bringing local communities together.”
  • Cumbria – Our changing libraries now host story telling, the internet and coffee mornings – North West Evening Mail. “Completion of £1.2m building project will be next stage in letting Barrow’s main books base adapt to the needs of a modern world “
  • Essex – Manningtree library campaigners win award for action – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Manningtree Town Council has now decided to recognise the campaign group’s remarkable efforts by honouring members with the Community Engagement Award. Holly Turner, from Save Manningtree Library, said: “I’m delighted that the Save Manningtree Library group have been recognised and rewarded for all of their hard work and tireless campaigning. “
    • Days of action to save Essex library staff – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “The events will be part of a countywide Save our Librarians – No Closures By Stealth day of action. “. Campaigner says “The events will be part of a countywide Save our Librarians – No Closures By Stealth day of action. “
  • Glasgow – Attendance figures in decline across Glasgow’s public libraries – Glasgow Live. “A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that 2015 saw 5,076,771 visits to the local library compared to 4,780,031 in 2019. This was however, a three per cent increase from the year before which saw 4,633,288 library visits with 5,088,418 and 5,045,552 visits in 2017 and 2016 respectively.”
  • Hackney – Hackney Council takes on single-use plastics with new water fountains at leisure centres and libraries – Hackney Gazette. “Mayor Phil Glanville and environment and waste chief Cllr Jon Burke opened one of the fountains at London Fields Lido this week. The others are at Clapton Library, Homerton Library, Shoreditch Library, Clissold Leisure Centre and Hackney Marshes Centre. These join those installed last year at CLR James Library, Mabley Green, and Hackney Marshes Pavilion, with the equivalent of 7,500 plastic bottles saved by the fountain at the CLR James Library alone since it was installed in July.”
  • Hampshire – Council to reveal proposed cuts to Hampshire library service – Advertiser and Times. “Plans for the future of Hampshire libraries – which could include proposals for closures and reductions in opening hours – will be revealed this week. A 10-week public consultation over a county-wide restructure of the service will be launched at midday on Thursday.”
    • Gaiman, Sparkes and Rowson sign letter against Hampshire library closures – BookSeller. “Scores of authors, including Neil Gaiman, Ali Sparkes, Pauline Rowson and Philip Hoare, have signed an open letter to Hampshire County Council calling for it to ditch its “shameful” proposal to close 10 libraries.”
    • Library closure plans see angry reaction from residents – Basingstoke Gazette. “A number of Basingstoke residents got involved in the debate on social media, including Stefan Powell, who said: “This sucks!” Another, Sarah Newman, said: “This is sad and such a shame when it is so important to get children into reading and it is not always easy for people to go and buy books hence why libraries are so important. “
    • Maria Miller and local councillors respond to plans that could see libraries close – Basingstoke Gazette. “Speaking to the Gazette on Friday, Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, said that it was “right” that Hampshire County Council were looking into the proposals.” … “Meanwhile, Laura Edwards, who is a ward councillor in Chineham, said she understands the need said she was “disappointed”. “I’m a big fan of Chineham library, I went there when I was little,” Cllr Edwards said. “I appreciate the need for it, but it is a very disappointing decision. “
    • Neil Gaiman leads Hampshire writers protesting library cuts – Guardian. “Local authors including Neil Gaiman – who grew up in Hampshire and has a road named after him in Portsmouth – Philip Hoare, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Ali Sparkes and Claire Fuller wrote to the council on Friday to “reverse this shameful decision”. The writers described the two options in the public consultation as disastrous for Hampshire’s communities”

“An open library is proof that we value community and culture. A closed library is a sign of a society – and a county council – that is turning its back on both.”

Neil Gaiman and others in open letter
  • Ten Hampshire libraries face axe – Southern Daily Echo. “The number of libraries across the county could drop from 48 to 38 and the remaining ones could see a 15% reduction in their opening hours as Hampshire County Council is aiming to save £1.76m by 2021. “

“If the community does not wish to transition to a new delivery model then it is possible that these libraries may close” … “If the government were making no reduction in terms of public funding to councils then we wouldn’t have to make decisions that are as difficult as those that we have to make. We would be reviewing the service anyway but we probably wouldn’t be looking at the possibility of closing ten libraries”

Hampshire Council
  • Ten Hampshire libraries earmarked for closure – BBC. “Recreation councillor Sean Woodward said: “We’ve seen in the last 10 years something like two million fewer books being issued per year so it’s a huge change but we want to make sure that the libraries which are open are thriving, well run, well attended and well used by our residents.””
  • Hillingdon – Bookworms Online started by Hillingdon Libraries – Hillingdon and Uxbridge Times. “The monthly virtual book club will encourage residents to borrow or download books in advance of the scheduled social media discussion, which will take place on Twitter from 6- 7pm on the third Thursday of each month. “
  • Lancashire – Literary lovers asked to have some pun and name Lancashire’s new mobile libraries – Lancashire Post. “People are being asked to choose from a shortlist of 11, with the top three names set to adorn the first three vehicles. Everyone has until 5pm on Friday 17 January to get involved, with the winning names due to be announced the following week. The list of names are available at, then follow the link to vote.”
    • Staff Transferred From County To City In Harris Shake-Up – Preston Hub. “The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library have welcomed Harris library staff who have transferred over from Lancashire County Council to Preston City Council to create one Harris team. The Harris is managed by Preston City Council working in partnership with Lancashire County Council and is in a transformative point in its history to create the UK’s first blended museum, art gallery and library. Bringing the museum and library together as a single service will help the Harris to move forward with its unique and exciting vision to reimagine the Harris and ensure the Grade 1 listed building remains a cultural, civic and community hub for the city and county.”
  • Leicester – Library fines waived during January amnesty – Leicester Council. “The amnesty on fines applies to all and any Leicester library books – no matter how long you might have had them. Historical charges which may be listed against books you have already returned will also be wiped. The initiative is part of the council’s anti-poverty work, and is aimed at ensuring everyone has the opportunity to access to free library services in Leicester. It is one of a number of ways in which the city council is working to reduce the impact of poverty, improve lives and help children to reach their full potential.”
    • Vote for your favourite book of the decade with Leicester libraries – Leicester City Council. “Throughout the month of January, anyone aged 12 and over can vote for up to three titles of any genre. You can vote for any adult or junior book, either fiction or non-fiction – they just need to have been published between 2010 and 2019.”
  • Manchester – Crumpsall is getting a new multi-million pound library and leisure centre – this is how it will look – Manchester Evening News. “Coun Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council’s executive member for skills, culture and leisure, said: “The majority of the city’s leisure centres and libraries have undergone major transformation over the last decade to ensure we can offer our residents modern, attractive facilities that are a real asset to their local community.”
  • North Yorkshire – Scarborough and Filey libraries host 64 Million Artists challenge – North Yorkshire County Council. “Each day in January the libraries will set a creative challenge, which will take only five to ten minutes. These range from creative writing to drawing, reading, crafting, poetry and music.”
    • Dogs drop in to library to lend an ear to young readers – North Yorkshire County Council. “Read2Dogs sessions are to be launched at Selby library to help children improve their confidence as readers by sharing books with Dora and Morgan, two Pets as Therapy dogs that will visit the library with their owners, Rachael and Tony Wilson, of Selby.”
  • Northamptonshire – Wollaston library volunteers ready to lend a hand – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “More than 20 members of the community have volunteered to staff the service after Northamptonshire County Council’s decision to close 17 libraries unless groups stepped-in. “

“It’s good that we have been given the opportunity to run it but it should never have happened. “

Soon to be library volunteer

Public libraries in 2019


The turn of the year is a good time to review what has been going on, not least because I get a few days off. The following does not pretend to be comprehensive and will doubtless miss out on many important trends – if I included everything, it would be too long and no-one would read it – and of course represents a personal view.

The big news is undoubtedly the re-election of the Conservatives for another five years. Despite a small amount extra being promised to library services before the election – basically a bribe – the deep cuts to services since the party started it’s current run in power in 2010 more than make up for it. Although austerity has calmed down (although never gone away) in the last couple of years, the prospect of Prime Minister Johnson until 2025 and the impending disaster of Brexit, means libraries can only expect a continuation of the bad times. These cuts are the primary factor for a deep reduction in library usages over the past decade – they probably would have declined anyway a bit but the example of other countries suggest the hit would have been nowhere near as bad if budgets had not been cut by 30% without even taking inflation into account.

That’s the major bad news but the good news is the expansion in the number of library services going fines-free in the UK. Eight more services decided to stop punishung users for returning books late in 2019, with a notable concentration in the North West, more than doubling the number in the country. There are few librarians who still see charging everyone regardless of their ability to pay as a progressive step and, as more go fines free, more pressure and more evidence to follow suit. Fingers crossed.

CILIP have upped their game by launching major political campaigns with school libraries and the US-inspired Libraries Deliver. It’s work on ethics has been notably prominent. This is a good thing as ethics have tended to come last in local library services in practical terms. Few cash-strapped services, when push comes to shove, say no to commercial funding even from such dubious concerns as Amazon and Google. This extends to the very highest levels, with a senior delegation of library chiefs and others choosing this year to visit China – an unethical place for all sorts of well-known reasons – to boost links. China, by the way, is also a leader in pollution and, although environmental issues have hit the global headlines like never before in 2019, public library services have conspicuously failed to market themselves to benefit from being one of the greenest services out there. Mind you, being public library services have failed to market themselves in any way whatsover, for the 170th year running, this is not surprising.

ACE have been moving away from menacing libraries with far too many subsidised theatre shows and have instead become increasingly keen to promote, gosh, books and the other services that libraries provide. Recent pronouncements suggest that this trend will improve in the next few years and that is to be welcomed.

Libraries Connected, the revamped Society of Chief Librarians, is starting to make its presence felt. This has not been fast enough for me – I want national promotional campaigns and a prospect of a realistic single digital presence (a national libraries website is not asking much) before 2030, neither of which appear likely – but slow progress is being made and there is reason, like with CILIP and ACE, to hope.

The same cannot be said for CIPFA, which continues to provide lacklustre and late information on the sector at sky-high prices, even though it gets its data for free. The organisation – which has come out clearly against any open data or co-operative approach because, well, it can’t make any money out of it – is in clear need of a good kicking. However, until local or national library services come up with a viable alternative – not a certainty in a sector which often comes across as unified as a bag of screaming cats – then they will continue doing the job terribly and charging through the nose for doing so.

Locally, there’s a few library services doing particularly badly. The most spectacular have been the proposed library cuts in Essex. There as been a very strong grass-roots campaign against the reductions and some quite impressive gaffes by the council handling it. The council appears to have been caught wrong-footed by the strength of feeling and many of the councillors seem out of touch with libraries. It’s recent moderation of cuts is already being closely analysed.

There have been two notable library strikes. One, in Bromley, against GLL is over a number of different things, mainly boiling down to the union being entirely against the library service being run by a non-council service and unhappiness with how GLL is doing things. In Bradford, the reason for the unhappiness is more clear-cut, being simply over huge cuts to the library service while the council hypocritically and simultaneously is bidding to become a capital of culture.

There are many more examples of cuts to library services and bad management but the one that sticks in my mind the most is Derbyshire which has banned telephone renewals despite despite having staff, computers and, well, telephones. This “digital by default” strategy is the exact opposite of putting the customer first and hopefully will not be the start of a trend.

Changes by local authority

National news

“You were always there; a constant. A kind, supportive adult in times when I had few of those, who, if I asked you a question, would do your best to answer with kindness, patience and honesty. And when I was overwhelmed and confused because life seemed harsher than I’d imagined it could be, I would go to you and our brief interaction – one person being gentle to another, sharing a love of books that felt bigger than that small village with its big problems – would keep me going a bit longer.”

Kerry Hudson

International news

  • Australia – First library in Victoria to open 24 hours a day, seven days a week has town buzzing – ABC News. “People were asking for more opening hours, but we found almost 50 per cent of the community work more than 35 hours a week, so just increasing the opening hours wasn’t going to work,” she said. She said staff hours were not being cut and the library would continue to be staffed from Thursday to Tuesday, and closed on Sunday and Wednesday. The move to 24/7 access required a $92,000 upgrade, which has been funded by the State Government, with $20,000 from West Gippsland Libraries, and $3,000 from the Friends of the Foster Library.”
  • Canada – ‘Something special about libraries’: Hopes high for OPL fundraising campaign – CBC. “The Ottawa Public Library hopes to raise $10 to 15 million over the coming years as part of a major fundraising campaign for the new central library — not to pay for the bricks and mortar, but to ensure interesting things take place inside once it’s open.”
  • Ghana – 2020 Is ‘Year Of Learning’ — Ghana Library Authority Declares – Modern Ghana. “The Ghana Library Authority has declared 2020 as the ‘Year of Learning,’ under the theme “70 years of Transforming Minds through Libraries,” in commemoration of its 70 years of existence. Ghana Library Authority is the second oldest incorporated institution by an act of Parliament of Ghana and has the mandate to establish, equip, maintain and manage public libraries in Ghana. “
  • USA – A year after Denver Public Library ended late fees, patrons — and their books — are returning – Denver Post. “Thirty-five percent of patrons with overdue fines who had stopped using Denver Public Library services have re-engaged with the library since the fee cancellation … Denver librarians have seen a 10% increase in lost materials being returned from 2018 to 2019 … The change has not resulted in a free-for-all.”

Changes by local authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – ‘No questions asked’ book amnesty being held in Bath & North East Somerset – Bath Echo. “The council removed fines for the late return of books in April 2019, but is now inviting anyone who still has books borrowed before that date to return them from 6th January as part of a book amnesty. Books can be returned to the main libraries in Bath, Keynsham and Midsomer Norton or at one of the community-run libraries, and old fines will be deleted. People who think they have lost a very overdue book should talk to library staff who can remove it, and any fines, from their account and people will then be able to use the libraries as normal.”
  • Blackburn With Darwen – Library fines to be scrapped in Blackburn with Darwen – Citizen. Amnesty for outstanding charges too. “Councillors have been told that the projected fines income for 2019-20, based on current usage, is £7,750. This annual rate is said to have dipped by 25 per cent from 2016-17 – and is expected to decrease further in future. Cllr Talbot said: “There is some evidence to say that having outstanding library fines or overdue books is an obstacle which makes people fearful of going into our libraries. ” … “Several other north-west councils, including Blackpool, Halton, Leeds, Oldham and Salford, have already opted to scrap fines. “
  • Blackpool New Year honour for Blackpool couple who have transformed children’s lives – Gazette. “Also in line for an award is Blackpool Council’s head of libraries Mark McCree who has been given a BEM (British Empire Medal) for services to public libraries. He said: “I am overjoyed to receive such an honour. I am passionate about the positive impact libraries and library services have on our communities.”
  • Bridgend – Trust announces changes to mobile library service in Bridgend area – Glamorgan Gem. “The mobile library service across the county borough of Bridgend is to be overhauled so that more vulnerable, isolated and housebound people can benefit from books brought directly to their door. From December 16, the existing mobile and Booklink vehicles will come off the road to prepare the routes. A new Books on Wheels service, with additional stops to people confined to their homes, will be launched from Monday, January 6.”
  • Devon – Fundraising campaign to fix library rocking horse – Radio Exe. “Libraries Unlimited, the charity which runs libraries in Devon, has launched a fundraising campaign to pay for repairs to a rocking horse.  Jubilee Beauty, has been at the library since 1977. But they say she’s now had one ride too many and is lame (broken!) She’ll now have to be fixed by a specialist rocking horse restorer. “
  • Essex – Manningtree Library campaigners to receive town council award – Yellow Advertiser. “The Save Manningtree Library campaign is to receive Manningtree Town Council’s Community Engagement Award. The campaign organised a number of events during 2019, with 500 marching through the town in April and hundreds more joining a ‘love our library’ street party in September. “
    • Call for scrutiny over new library IT system – Epping Forest Guardian. Councillor asks questions over system: ” “What is the platform the library management system is currently running on? Are we looking for something that is off the shelf or are we building it to specification? Who is going to develop it? Are we looking for packages that need to fit together? “
    • The council’s offer to community-run libraries – Essex Council. Lists what limited funding is available to those willing to work for free to run Essex libraries.

“I noticed that your update on PLN about Essex Council quotes a somewhat one-sided Bookseller article (the Bookseller then redressed the balance with a more recent article).  Your quoted article  emphasises ECC’s claim not to be closing libraries and the investment they are putting into a small handful of larger libraries (tho they won’t be libraries anymore) and computer systems. It does not cover their strategy to put the majority of Essex’s 75 libraries into the hands of volunteers by encouraging individual or group takeovers. The volunteers will have to pay for their own buildings, computers etc. They will have one ticket and will use it to go and drive and collect any ordered books from the Essex Libraries catalogue. There will be no professional staff. Essex Council offer is £18000 over three years, then nothing. ”

Liz Miles, library campaigner, via emial.

A record-breaking honours list for librarians?

Well, I was going to do a review of the year this post but that will have to wait as it’s just so great to see so many people connected with public libraries receiving a mention in the New Year’s Honours List. All in all, I count fifteen such people – all mentioned below, don’t worry – on the list. Whatever one may think of the honours system, it is lovely to see so many deserving people mentioned. It can only help those people push for libraries and be an aid to the sector generally. For more on this, see this post I did back in March for Libraries Connected on the subject.

Changes by local authority

New Year’s Honours

The following figures connected with public libraries received a mention in the New Year’s Honours List:

National news

  • ‘An early Christmas present’: NPOs get 1.84% funding boost – Arts Professional. “More than 800 arts and cultural organisations across England will receive a 1.84% increase to their funding in 2020. Arts Council England (ACE) CEO Darren Henley said DCMS has confirmed it will receive an extra £7.5m in the next financial year, giving National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) an above-inflation funding boost rather than the planned 0.4% reduction on 2019/20 levels of grant-in-aid.”
  • Christmas appeal: ‘School librarian cuts are a catastrophe for young readers’ – I. Tom Palmer: “Around 8,000 jobs have disappeared in UK libraries since 2010, some replaced by volunteers. One in eight schools do not have a designated library space, with a higher proportion of poorer children more likely not to have one.”
  • CILIP says libraries need £250m in demand to Johnson government – BookSeller. “Recent figures released by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) showed funding for the service has fallen almost 30% during a decade of austerity, with analysis demonstrating library loans have plunged by 43% over the same period. CILIP called on political parties to make a commitment to libraries during the election campaign. It said the government’s planned £25m investment, through its Cultural Investment Fund, was “roughly one-tenth of the capital investment we need to deliver a world-class library sector over the lifetime of this Parliament”. An extra £250m would bring the funding close to its 2009/10 level of £1bn. The CIPFA figures show the sum is currently £744m, a slight improvement on the previous year.”
  • CILIPS in 2019 – Year in Review – CILIPS.
  • Jack Monroe: My manifesto for rebuilding a truly broken Britain – I. “Thousands of preventable deaths. 11,000 fewer firefighters. A 40 per cent cut in the number of Police Community Support Officers. 800 libraries closed. “
  • Library loans down 43% in 10 years, new analysis shows – BookSeller. “Analysing the full figures, which are not made freely available by CIPFA, together with past results, Coates said loans of printed books in English libraries stood at 150 million in the past year, adding to a total drop of 43% in the last decade and 59% since the turn of the millennium. There were also 371 libraries run by volunteers in 2018/19, up from 272 the previous year.”
  • New programme to help libraries to raise income – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected has been awarded £150,000 by Arts Council England to plan a programme of training and mentoring to help library services to develop strategic approaches to income generation. The Future Funding programme will be designed and delivered by Libraries Connected in partnership with expert partners from the public, third and commercial sectors. The programme will help libraries to generate income in new ways by using the skills and resources they’ve built up as centres of knowledge and information.”
  • Libraries Connected to launch income-generation funding scheme – BookSeller.
  • Rakuten OverDrive in buyout deal with KKR investment firm – BookSeller. “Investment firm KKR has signed a deal to buy digital reading platform OverDrive from Rakuten for an undisclosed sum. OverDrive is known in the UK for providing e-books to public libraries and has a worldwide network of 43,000 schools and libraries spanning 75 countries. KKR has a string of investments in related companies including audiobook firm RBMedia, which it bought in 2018, and Nielsen.”

International news

  • Canada – Radon gas detector kit wait list growing at P.E.I. libraries – Journal Pioneer. “Despite only being made available starting in late November, there is already a 74-person waiting list to access one of the devices. Each of the 15 units available can be signed out for a maximum of six weeks. Which means some people could be facing a wait of up to eight months. “
  • USA – Ten Stories That Shaped 2019 – LIS News. “1. Whither Late Fees? The movement to end library late fees seemed to reach the start of a tipping point this year. Whether or not your library continues this practice, it should at least justify the current policy in place.”
    • Island libraries eliminate late fines – MV Times. “Joining a movement across the country, all Martha’s Vineyard libraries will eliminate overdue fines for materials starting Jan. 1, 2020 for a fresh start to the New Year.”
    • Looking at Libraries – The Atlantic. A long look at the best US public libraries and activities. “Continuing the photo essay about public libraries, which showed many examples of children’s rooms and adult spaces, this collection shows some of the multitude of activities happening at public libraries. It also includes some of the kinds of collections besides books, and some of the public places where books are available to borrow besides at traditional libraries.”
    • Make Way For Books At Your Library – Princh. “As of right now, we have established a wonderful partnership with the Pima County Public Library in Tucson, AZ, focused around the Make Way for Books App. As an early literacy non-profit organization, we value libraries as one of our most important resources, providing support and equitable access to information for the community.”

Local news by authority

Looking forward to 2024


So, Mr Johnson and the Conservatives have won a fourth term in office and will likely, gosh, be the government until May 2024. Putting aside Boris’s unlikely promise of investing in libraries even if his two conditions for it are met – the economy is booming and Brexit has happened – what does the electoral result mean for libraries?

Well, it means that there won’t be much extra money for a start. Say goodbye to whatever promises Corbyn made. After the dark days of cuts in the early 2010s followed by a still dark (but I fancy slightly less doom-laden) atmosphere in the last couple of years, we can expect things not to turn around any time soon. Best case scenario is the current low budgets for libraries remain stable. Worst case is, well, 2010/11 all over again. I’d probably go for the more optimistic (still quite grim) side of the scale on this one but being Boris is still an unknown quantity – who really knows what he believes? – so this is very much a guess. Terrifyingly, if Brexit proves a disaster, which it likely will, another wave of austerity is quite possible.

I suspect I am on far surer ground suggesting that councls cutting library services will be strongly encouraged to become trusts or other quasi-non council organisations. In addition, many councils are running out of money and so there may be quite an increase in trusts. This will at the least create a lot of extra work for the services being transformed and may or may not be good long-term, although it will certainly mean more entrepreneurship with all the good and bad that entails. We can also be fairly sure that volunteer libraries will continue to be lauded, although I know that many of them are now seeing the gloss come off because the first set of enthusiastic volunteers are leaving.

It is absolutely certain that there will not be any meaningful supervision of the sector and that such things as standards will remain a thing of the past. Also, sadly, and unless local councils get their act together with open data – doubtful – we can expect the ridiculously slow and income-driven Cipfa to remain the greedy guardians of performance data on the sector and fight any attempts to, well, do what their job should actually be (the quick and easy dissemination of data) because they are a monopoly and are determined to stay that way.

Finally, we can all stop pretending that public services, let alone libraries, are, in the final analysis, a deciding factor when it comes to general elections. If they had been, result would have been very different. We need to be prepared to leave or to work within the system that, over the last decade, has become increasingly tougher … and work in the service we still love and do such good work in until the bright promised future of post-Brexit UK(although who knows if Scotland will still be on board) in 2024 arrives. Ten years down, only another five to go.

Local news by authority

National news

  • Branching out – Wellston Journal. “In the last seven years one in six of all Wales‘ libraries have closed. A further 62 have changed hands and are now run either by outside organisations or with support from volunteers.” … “Llanelli library‘s building was completely renovated in 2012 and reinvented as “more of a coffee shop” than an austere library …”
  • Community and volunteer-run libraries – John Bevis. “There is no national strategy for the implementation of community or volunteer libraries. Councils may provide some professional librarian time, or none at all. Neither are there standards for range and depth of books, for IT provision, for a gateway to standard online reference works, national newspaper archives, links to the British Library… for any of the resources essential to meeting the obligation of library authorities to provide “a comprehensive and efficient library service”, as has been law since 1964. Community libraries may be run by the nicest folk you could hope to meet, but what they have to offer is pot luck.”
  • Held to account – turning activism into political support for libraries in 2020 – Libraries Deliver. “For the first time in living memory, four of the ‘main’ political parties in England – the Labour Party, the Conservatives, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats – all included references to libraries in their Manifesto commitments. ” [Strictly true but the Lib Dems only mentioned libraries as a place to collect sanitary products – Ed.]
  • Jamelia: I needed kids clubs and libraries growing up, so now I’m voting Labour so everyone else gets them too – I. “My mother ensured we participated in experiences that enriched our minds. Though money was tight, we were able to use public facilities such as kids clubs, libraries, nature parks, leisure centres and a school with a thriving arts programme. “
  • Truth, lies, fake news, futures, Brexit – Matt Finch / Mechanical Dolphin. “Rather than chasing untruths in the media like a dog chasing a passing car, could information professionals be seeking to tend and moderate deeply local conversations about where communities choose to go next? Libraries are an obvious place to host such discussions – that’s why earlier this year I proposed the public library as the setting for community-centred foresight work, putting sophisticated strategic tools in the hands of local people.”
  • World Book Night Goes Digital for 2020 – World Book Night. “This year’s list features both paperbacks and audiobooks, with North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, Double Crossed by Brian Wood and Bedtime Stories for Stressed Out Adults edited by Lucy Mangan available for individuals to receive via an exclusive download code. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (which is celebrating a significant 42nd birthday in 2020) will be donated as both a paperback to organisations and an audiobook to individuals”

International news

  • AustraliaState Library Victoria proves libraries aren’t just about books: they’re about community – The Conversation. “State Library Victoria already holds a prominent place in Melbourne’s cultural and urban fabric. It is now ready for the future.”
  • Is reading an effective therapy strategy? Many experts think so – Sydney Morning Herald. “The concept is far from new, with Tsakalakis saying it can be traced back to ancient Greece. At that time, libraries were constructed next to hospitals. “And above the library there would be a banner or placard which read, ‘Places for healing of the soul.’ “So you’d go to the hospital for physical healing, and there was this understanding that libraries were places to seek solace and healing, and to nurture ourselves through stories.””
  • China China’s library officials are burning books that diverge from Communist Party ideology – Washington Post. “Library officials in northwest China recently hoped to demonstrate their ideological fervor and loyalty to the Communist Party by purging politically incorrect books and religious materials in emphatic fashion: They burned them. Then they uploaded a report — and a photo — to showcase their work.”
    • China to punish library officials for burning books – but only because they did it in public – Independent. “In October, the Ministry of Education called on school libraries across China to dispose of books “that damage the unity of the country, sovereignty or its territory; books that upset society’s order and damage societal stability; books that violate the Party’s guidelines and policies, smear or defame the party, the country’s leaders and heroes”.”
  • EU – Eblida and NewsGuard Announce Partnership to Bring Media Literacy Tool to European Public Libraries – Eblida / Newsguard. “The News Literacy Program, launched in the U.S. in late 2018, is now used by more than 600 libraries globally. While select library systems in the U.K., Germany, and Italy have joined the program since NewsGuard expanded to Europe in mid-2019, the partnership with EBLIDA will enable more libraries across the continent to use the anti-misinformation tool”
  • New Zealand New Zealand: Man Builds ‘stick Library’ For Dogs At Park, Lauded By Locals – Republic. It’s not a public library but it’s stil wonderful.
  • Norway – Oslo’s new main library – Designing Libraries. “Basement: cinema, 200-seat auditorium, freely accessible book depots. First floor: square, restaurant, café, newspapers, magazines, books for short-term borrowing. Second floor: fiction, history of literature, children’s section. Third floor: music, movies, comics, games, speculative fiction, workshops, recording studios, mini cinema, gaming rooms, movie screening stations, stage. Fourth floor: class rooms, reading rooms, books on art, architecture, health, technology, and science. Fifth floor: social sciences, history, psychology, philosophy, religion, literature about Oslo, the original Deichman collection, study desks, reading rooms, the art project Future Library.”
    • In Praise of Norwegian Libraries – Norway, One Year / Medium. “The library/culture house is a hub for community and a destination instead of an errand to run or a spot to grab books and pass through. Even towns like Hamar and Sandefjord have libraries/culture houses that seem rather ostentatious for smaller Norwegian municipalities.”
  • USA – L.A. libraries will stop collecting late fees for overdue books and other materials – Los Angeles Times. “Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Friday that the city will stop collecting fines for past-due books and other materials this spring, part of a larger effort to make the 73-branch library system more welcoming to the city’s neediest residents.”
    • No Holds Barred: Policing and Security in the Public Library – In the Library with the Lead Pipe. “For too long, the negative effects of police and security presence in libraries have been ignored or, at the very least, neglected. Police officers and security guards should be used judiciously just as one would use any other security tool available to library workers.”
    • U.S. libraries checking out book theft / ‘Most-stolen’ list will help curb crime – SF Gate. “The theft of books, CDs, videotapes and pamphlets from public libraries is a national problem, one that probably costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year. No one knows the size of the problem, but the American Library Association has taken a first step, e-mailing hundreds of libraries around the country and asking them to list their most-stolen items. “

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – North-east bookworms invited to take part in reading challenge – Evening Express. “Readers can take part in the Winter World Challenge individually, together as a family or as a group of friends. It starts on Saturday and will run through the winter months, ending on the extra day of 2020, which is Saturday February 29. To start the challenge, bookworms should head down to their local library and pick up a challenge card.”
  • Borders – No more fines for late Borders library books – Border Telegraph. “The scrapping of fees is in a bid to entice new members to join a local library and to encourage previous members to return and use a library service again. Members with outstanding charges have also had their fees removed, but are instead asked to make a small donation to Live Borders who will use it to purchase food for a local foodbank before Christmas.”

“Removing fines will be a permanent change and our aim is to ensure that our libraries are there for everyone. By removing this barrier it will help more people to discover their local library and achieve our charitable aims of keeping everyone healthier, happier and stronger in the Scottish Borders.”

Lisa Denham, Connected and Creative Communities Manager, Live Borders
  • Calderdale Rastrick Library to temporarily close for final stages of work – Halifax Courier. “Construction work has been taking place to deliver disabled access to the building, including the installation of a new ramp and the creation of a disabled parking space.”
  • Cornwall – New library, local studies and archive centre in Cornwall – Designing Libraries. “A derelict brewery in Redruth Cornwall has been transformed into a modern archive and library space, with £11.7m funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. “
  • Cornwall’s libraries let people pay fines with food – Pirate FM. “All food donated over participating library counters during December will then be passed on to local foodbank charities.” For fines up to £5.
  • Essex – Essex County Council denies ‘secret’ meetings with library takeover bidders – This is Local London. “Essex County Council has disputed claims that it held “secret” meetings with people and groups bidding to take over libraries. The authority held meetings for community groups interested in taking over the running of libraries … Campaign group Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) handed out leaflets outside the Greenstead and Ongar meetings to dissuade groups and individuals from continuing with takeover bids, which it describes as a ‘closure plan by stealth’.
  • Inverclyde – All food donated over participating library counters during December will then be passed on to local foodbank charities – Greenock Telegraph. “The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals [CILIP] sees such a move in the latest budget round as a ‘short-term solution that will create long-term problems’. In an open letter to council leader Stephen McCabe, CILIP Scotland has called on the cash-strapped local authority to leave the ‘vital’ library service alone as it wrestles with more enforced cuts. “
  • Leicester – Libraries staff choose their favourite Christmas reads – Leicester City Council. “Overall favourite amongst the city council’s libraries staff was timeless ghost story A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Also singled out for recommendation were The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs, Kipper’s Christmas Eve, by Mick Inkpen, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr Seuss.”
  • Merton — Sensory project transforms children’s libraries – Designing Libraries. “Visit one of Merton’s award-winning libraries and you could find yourself in the heart of the forest, under the sea or at the South Pole being chased by racing penguins.” … “Each of the borough’s seven children’s libraries has been transformed into an immersive space as part of a ground-breaking project to make them an exciting place for all children, whatever their sensory needs. Project Sense, as it’s known, is the result of a successful £95k bid by Merton’s libraries for Arts Council funding.”
  • NorfolkWhoops! Library accidentally reveals a secret – EDP 24. “Norfolk’s biggest library has accidentally revealed the latest chapter in its success story – it is the best in Britain. ” … “The post has since been removed.”
  • Northamptonshire £184k loan to parish council agreed to help save Moulton library – Northamptonshire Chronicle. “It will see DDC [Daventry District Council] provide the parish council with £184,000 to purchase the surrender of the lease, on the condition that the parish council then provides a community library for a ‘sensible minimum period’ suggested as 15 years.”
  • Torfaen – Volunteer encourages others to take part in Torfaen Libraries ‘Read To Me’ service – South Wales Argus. “The service is intended for people who are unable to take part in a shared reading group because they are prevented from doing so by ill health or disability. It sees reading companions visit them weekly, reading aloud to the person on a one to one basis. “
  • Warrington – The best read library books in Warrington – Warrington Worldwide. “Topping the fiction list for adults is The Second Child by Caroline Bond, which was a designated “Book of the Month” – showing how popular the initiative is in encouraging library users to try new books. Big name thriller authors like Lee Child, James Patterson, Michael Connelly and David Baldacci were other popular choices.
  • West Lothian – Campaigners lodge petition to stop local library closing in the mornings – Daily Record. “Library users in Craigshill have lodged a petition with West Lothian Council to plead for the saving of morning opening in Almondbank library. The petition was lodged as the council unveiled proposals to change opening hours across its library branches in a bid to save money.”
  • Wiltshire – Community Library Manager – Wiltshire County Council. Salisbury, temporary for 2 years part time 30.5 hours per week £26,999 – £28, 785 pro rata.
  • Worcestershire – Celebrating library volunteers’ role in supporting communities – Tewkesbury Admag. “From leading a Lego club or Health Walk, being a digital champion or volunteering to deliver the Library Service at Home, these are just some of the ways volunteers are supporting their communities. Each week dozens of volunteers gift their valuable time supporting our county’s libraries. This Thursday to recognise their efforts, Worcestershire’s libraries are marking International Volunteer Day 2019 by celebrating their contribution. “

It’s been a bumpy ride since 2010 and it looks like it will continue


The timing of the CIPFA figures for libraries is normally embarrassing for something supposedly from the information sector. The figures are published, in this age of instant communication, a full eight months after the period they cover and have a hight cost attached, despite councils giving their information for free.

However, the timing this year, a week before the general election, looks inspired. The figures clearly show the damage that has been done to the sector since 2010: a huge cut to budget which, even leaving aside inflation, is almost a third down; big decreases to staffing, issues and visits. It’s an awful record for any government and there is nothing to credibly show that Mr Johnson would change tack if given, gulp, another five years.

But I’ve looked at the latest opinion polls and it looks like the electorate will give him another five years. So keep putting on the body armour, library sector, the bumpy ride is set to continue.

Changes by local authority

Cipfa reaction

  • Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010, figures show – Guardian. “Cipfa chief executive Rob Whiteman said that while spending had increased slightly in the last year, the figures showed a sustained trend where local councils on tight budgets had been forced to redirect funding to priority services such as social care.”

“We are encouraged to see that local authority spending on libraries rose slightly this year even though levels have fallen significantly over the past decade. We know we must do more to demonstrate to national and local decision makers how much libraries contribute to a range of outcomes from literacy, to health and social mobility. We are particularly concerned about the fall in book loans, which is why we’re determined to fundraise for more projects such as our BBC novels campaign that specifically targets people who are less engaged with books and reading”

Libraries Connected.
  • Latest CIPFA stats reveal library numbers still falling – BookSeller. “Laura Swaffield, chair of The Library Campaign, said the newly released statistics were already “way out of date” and only highlighted the gloomier news about libraries. She said: “As always, the headlines highlight national decline – hardly surprising, with funding slashed, and hundreds of libraries gutted, closed or dumped on to volunteers. As always, there’s nothing to highlight the scores of services that still thrive despite it all, and nothing to analyse how they manage it. What a waste of essential data.””
  • ‘Libraries are the universities of the streets’: authors call for a stop to further closures – I. 35 closed 2018/19.
  • Libraries in the archive: snapshots of reading in Britain 1930s-1990s – Guardian. “The news that Britain has closed almost 800 libraries since 2010 has prompted us to look back at images of libraries in the Guardian and Observer archives. These are a few highlights, with snippets from their original captions and related headlines.”
  • Nearly 800 public libraries closed since austerity launched in 2010 – Independent. “Spending has fallen by 30 per cent over past decade, figures reveal. Currently there are 3,583 libraries open in the UK – 35 fewer than last year and 773 fewer than in 2010, a survey from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) has found. The closure of nearly a fifth of the UK’s libraries comes after spending has declined by 29.6 per cent over the past decade, figures from Cipfa reveal. National spending on libraries topped £1bn in 2009-10 before austerity began, but then dropped to less than £750m in 2018-19, the annual survey shows.”
  • These are the busiest libraries in Yorkshire after a decade of austerity cuts hit their budgets – Yorkshire Post. “The busiest libraries in Yorkshire were Harrogate, with 274,471 items issued, York with 263,082 and Sheffield Central with 235,886. The three most visited libraries – Central Manchester, Wembley Library in Brent, and Woolwich Library in Greenwich – continue to receive well in excess of one million visitors a year. The data released today also reveals how local authorities have redesigned library services in response to tightening budgets and changing consumer habits. “
  • The slow extinction of our public libraries is a quiet tragedy – Telegraph (behind paywall). “in collections, leisure centre upkeep, park hedge pruning: council tax-funded contributions for which I am grateful but cannot credit with bringing much joy to my life. The library rises above, then, as the great outlier – a place where you can read the latest bestseller for nothing or rent a film; use a photocopier, should you need one, or download an audiobook from the comfort of your own home. …”
  • Thousands of Welsh children took on the challenge to read during the summer holidays – Wales 247. ““Libraries in Wales are under more and more pressure, so it’s wonderful to see that over 37,000 children in Wales have taken part in the challenge at their local library this year, and this is a testament to the hard work of library staff across Wales.””

National news

International news

Local news by authority

“You may remember we took the decision to move from the old Carnegie building to the Children’s Sure Start Centre back in June 2019. In doing so, we were able to use the Dementia Friendly principles in design and layout. I have just done some evaluation six months on and it continues to be a great success. Visitor figures are up 21%, book issues up 47%, reservations up 87% (we consciously invested in a large number of new books), new membership is up 140%, we have delivered 61% more events as the space is more flexible and attendance as a consequence is up 95%.

We have been able to work with some partners in the new location because of the great facilities at the new site such as Barnardo’s. We delivered sessions to young carers, to prepare meals and network in a safe environment.  We were funded to deliver a six week Read and Feed program which was part of the Kirklees Youth Alliance “Holiday hunger” project. These sessions were to help families on low incomes prepare, cook and eat together, who could then reproduce the recipes at home.”

Kirklees Libraries via email
  • Leicester – Leicester libraries put on special events this Christmas – Leicester City Council.
  • Manchester – 27,000 children in Manchester don’t own a single book – Manchester Evening News. “The statistics come as libraries across the country continue to have budgets cut, with many services having to close completely. Last year, the M.E.N revealed that Manchester city council was spending nearly £8.5 million less on libraries than it did in the financial year of 2010 to 2011. At the time, the council said it was committed to providing an ‘excellent’ library service and used the refurbished Central Library as an example of investment.”
  • Moray – Moray libraries offering fun adult computer sessions – Northern Scot.
  • Newham – Opinion: Visit library and get lost in a book – Newham Recorder. “when I go into our libraries these days, the scene is very different; here, a small group of sixth form students chat over a project they’re working on, there, some carers talk as their toddlers play together. Libraries always were places of learning from books but now there are groups learning Yoga and crafts and meeting new friends too. Schools have regular visits to our libraries and encourage children, who, like most of us, automatically resort to a search engine to find out facts, to use books instead to stretch their minds in a different way.”
Northamptonshire – Kindly emailed to me, thank you Sarah.
  • NottinghamshireWorksop Library will not be fully operational again until next summer – Worksop Guardian. “Worksop Library may not be back to full working order until next summer as the clean-up from last months devastating flooding continues. Flooding affected the whole of the building recovery specialists are currently clearing and cleansing the building, whilst Nottinghamshire County Council and its property partnership ARC develop a programme of works to restore the building for use again.”
  • Oldham – Children’s poet and author Joseph Coelho signs up to Oldham Library service – Oldham Council. “Oldham recently celebrated more than 1,000,000 people coming through the doors of Oldham Libraries between 2018 and 2019.”
  • Perth and Kinross – More people are visiting libraries in Perth and Kinross – Daily Record. “Presenting a quarterly report to Perth and Kinross Council’s scrutiny committee on Wednesday, November 26, Culture Perth and Kinross chief executive Helen Smout announced a 1.8 per cent increase in footfall for 2018/19. She said 11 out of the 13 libraries across the local authority were seeing a “continued increase.”
  • Redbridge – Is the decline of libraries affecting our society? By Shanzay Yousaf, Oaks Park High School – This is Local London. “I spoke to local resident and librarian, Fozia Jan, on just how the closure of libraries will affect future generations. She spoke to me about how the internet and social media is having a “negative impact on the amount of children coming to read as they would much rather just relax on Instagram”.”
  • Suffolk – Lavenham Library confirms introduction of extended opening hours at start of 2020 – Suffolk Free Press. “Lavenham Library is set to extend its opening hours beginning in the new year, following a public consultation. Under the changes, the library in Church Street will open on Mondays, between 10am and 1pm, and increase its current hours on Fridays, opening from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm to 5pm.” … “The changes will result in a total increase in opening hours per week, at no cost to Suffolk Libraries, due to small changes to staffing patterns.”
  • West SussexCuts to West Sussex’s library service budget approved – Chichester Observer. “Following a public consultation, members of the cabinet approved the plans, which will save the county council £175,000 and come into effect in April.” … “The loss of the mobile service did not go down well with everyone but Duncan Crow, cabinet member for fire & rescue and communities, said some of the alternatives – hinting at the risk of closure for some of the smaller branches – were ‘quite unpalatable’.”