Asymmetric Warfare

Editorial

I’m currently finishing off an article for a French library journal on the experience of English public libraries after lockdown. It’s surprisingly upbeat so hardly my usual style. But I do think that the sector has done far better than one could reasonably expect after being closed or semi-closed for basically two years. Being me of course, and the public library sector, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are signs, such as in Cardiff, that bad times may be here again shortly but, on the other hand, public opposition still seems very effective, as we can see in Bristol, Essex and Nottingham. So, who will win this year? Central government cuts or hyperlocal campaigning? That’s not as clear cut an answer as it seems. In this asymmetric warfare, experience suggests its often the guerrilla that has the advantage. Viva la Libraryistas.

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Change by local authority

National news

  • £135m levelling-up funding goes to seven libraries but concern remains about long-term investment – Bookseller. “Successful bids include a combined library, music and arts venue in Harlow, a state-of-the-art leisure centre, library and cultural space in Farnborough, a creative workspace and redesign at Hackney Central Library, and a new modern library in Reading. More than £135m has been awarded to projects involving libraries. ” but concerns that long-term cuts in spending and budget worries in 2023 may negate gains.
“of all the self-defeating things we have done as a nation in recent years, closing the libraries that could help these children has been the worst.”

“Libraries have been levelling up for over 170 years so it seems natural that they should feature prominently on this list of successful projects.”

Isobel Hunter, Libraries Connected.
Up to three staff per library can nominate at Dagger in the Library nominations – The Crime Writers’ Association (thecwa.co.uk)
  • Osman, Haig and Rowling books among most popular digital titles borrowed from libraries via OverDrive – BookSeller. “According to OverDrive – which provides schools and libraries with access to e-books, audiobooks, digital newspapers and magazines – Osman e-books were the most popular last year, with The Man Who Died Twice and The Thursday Murder Club (both from Viking) coming in at first and second place. “
  • Scotland’s New £30,000 SLIC Fund Backs ‘Pioneering Library Projects’ – Publishing Perspectives. ” a broad base of strategic support from the BBC and BBC Scotland and the British Library to Carnegie UK and the Scottish Book Trust. The council was formed in 1991 and is not, in fact, a government organization. Instead, it’s an independent advisory body to the Scottish government. with membership both in the public sector and in educational institutions.”
  • Seminar and Forum – National Acquisitions Group. “Our call for papers is now open for both and closes on 3rd February 2023.  You do not need to be a NAG Member to present and all speakers receive a full free place and UK travel expenses.”
  • Video Marketing for Libraries: How to Create, Promote and Evaluate – CILIP. Friday 24 February, 10am to 1pm, Zoom. “Video is an increasingly essential tool to market library services and engage users, both on traditional platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, and on social media across Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. This hands-on workshop aims to familiarise delegates with several styles of video and give you a chance to try out a variety of useful tools.”

International news

Local news by authority

Devon
Essex
Hackney
Lewisham
  • Nottingham – Three local libraries saved from closure – Nottingham Council. “The council’s Executive Board today (January 17) voted in favour of keeping all existing libraries open, but with some shortened opening times across the library network, and Aspley Library modified to create a stock distribution and outreach hub while retaining it as a publicly accessible library. Earlier plans involved among other things the closure of Basford, Radford/Lenton and Aspley libraries, with Aspley’s being turned into a distribution hub for the library service. However, some savings have already been achieved through a staffing restructure in the libraries service, meaning only £79,000 of savings were needed from the original £233,000. This, along with strong public feedback against the closure proposals and emerging factors such as their important role of libraries during the cost-of-living crisis and as warm hubs, has allowed the council to look again at how to achieve the necessary changes and savings.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Mobile library to visit Narberth while library remains shut – Western Telegraph. Maintenance needed. “Narberth Town Council, which leases the library building from Pembrokeshire County Council, hopes that the work will start shortly.”
  • Redcar and Cleveland – Councillors unhappy about proposed temporary library move – Yahoo News. “Redcar and Cleveland Council is proposing to move Redcar library from its current base in Kirkleatham Street to the Tuned In! building about half a mile away in Majuba Road near the seafront. A new facility is due to be created in Redcar High Street as part of the £25m Town Deal plans, but won’t be in place until 2025 at the earliest.”
  • Sheffield – Have your say on library opening times – Sheffield Council. “We have an opportunity to extend the opening hours of the Council run community hub libraries from 31 to 34 hours per week and in order to do this we need to standardise the opening times.  Therefore we are consulting with library users and non users to identify the impact of the proposed change to the opening days and times.”
    • No one is allowed to walk within 3 metres of Sheffield library – Examiner Live. “a temporary exclusion zone was put in place around the building in Arundel Gate, Surrey Street and Tudor Square. This three-metre zone will include footpath closures along the whole length of the building in Surrey Street. Protective canopies have also been put in place along the Graves Building’s entrances and exits so the public and members of staff can be safe when using the building.”
  • Sheffield Central Library forced to close this morning – Star. Power cut.
Nottinghamshire
  • Shropshire – Shropshire libraries hosting friendly banking advice sessions – Shropshire Council. HSBC “hosting expert advice sessions to help people protect themselves from fraud, manage their money and learn about digital banking options.”
    • Libraries add another chapter to innovative prison project – Shropshire Council. “Three volunteer ‘human library books’ went to the prison to be ‘read’ by six selected prisoner representatives in a bid to open up frank conversations. Their subjects were health, sexuality, grief, and abuse.”
    • Ludlow library is hub for adult learning reading initiative – Ludlow Advertiser. “Books in the new Adult Reading Scheme Collection are graded, and the levels range from very basic to short novels and non-fiction, books for those with very limited literacy or who speak very little English, and titles for people with moderate literacy or dyslexia.”
  • Solihull – Library book amnesty – please bring your books back – Solihull Council. “Throughout January and February, Solihull libraries are holding an amnesty with anonymous drop-off points available at all libraries in the borough. This means customers won’t need to speak to a librarian, they can just  drop their overdue books into the library boxes. Returned items will then be logged back onto the system and replaced on the shelves for other library users to enjoy.”
  • South Gloucestershire – South Gloucestershire libraries named in top five in the UK for children’s reading challenge – South Gloucestershire Council. “Six thousand children aged between four and 11 took part in the 2022 challenge in South Gloucestershire, reading 100,000 books. This means almost 20 percent of all Primary age school children in the district took part.”
  • Southwark – C20 makes listing bid for Peckham Library – Twentieth Century Society. “Following concerns regarding an application for intrusive new rooftop plant equipment, C20 has submitted a listing application for the celebrated Peckham Library in Southwark, South London, recommending it be considered for Grade II* status. Designed by Alsop and Störmer, the library opened in 2000 and won the Stirling Prize for Architecture in the same year. It is widely considered one of the most important works of the late Will Alsop, who passed away in 2018, and a landmark millennial project.”
  • Staffordshire – Free creative workshops in selected Stafford libraries – Staffordshire Council. “The workshops will help people to explore what they love about where they live, taking inspiration from local heritage collections.  Workshops will also help boost people’s wellbeing through creative & social activity. “
  • Suffolk – Long Melford Library closed until further notice – Suffolk Libraries. “We were advised by the Royal British Legion over the weekend that they intend to close their building in Long Melford with immediate effect. We have not been given a reason for the closure.”
    • Ipswich Library to host menopause focus group – Suffolk Libraries. “The new programme is being launched after Suffolk Libraries received £170k of funding from the Department of Health and Social Care’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Health and Wellbeing Fund. The funding will enable Suffolk Libraries to launch a new project to provide support and advice for women who are experiencing the menopause and perimenopause.”
    • Join us for the Orwell Challenge and help raise funds for Suffolk Libraries – Suffolk Libraries. Request for Orwell Challenge walkers to raise money for library service.
    • Suffolk Libraries launch Paw-some Art Sculpture fundraising event – Suffolk Libraries. “PAWS-itivity will involve 45 dog sculptures featuring designs individually created by local artists in each of Suffolk’s libraries over the Summer of 2023.” … “The event aims to raise money to support Suffolk Libraries work at the heart of the community. It will also raise awareness of Suffolk Libraries as an independent charity”
Nottiinghamshire refurbishment

An encouraging year, in the end

Editorial

So this is the time of year when I traditionally look back on the last twelves months and see if I can spot any themes. Ones that stand out to me this year are:

  • Public libraries have bounced back quite a lot this year from Covid, with normal service being resumed in almost all and, crucially, many people coming back to use them. Statistics are far between and contested but it looks like fewer numbers than in 2019 but perhaps in line with other physical retail and the continued decline in usage we’ve seen for over a decade. But thankfully, people are using libraries once more. Phew.
  • Warm Libraries. Public libraries and councils moved fast after Martin Lewis tweeted about the need for “warm banks” as well as “food banks” this winter. Scores of library services registered as welcoming spaces for those who needed heating, with many offering hot drinks and coffee on top of the more traditional library and council services. This will hopefully strengthen the sector in the eyes of budget-holders next year. Libraries, which are neutral, free and more importantly in thousands of local communities, are the ideal thing for stuff like this. So far as I can tell, actual take-up of libraries as refuges was limited but it shows the speed the services can pivot and their utility.
  • Intolerance comes to the UK. Fresh off the well-funded push towards censorship in the USA against anything that doesn’t tie in with conservative beliefs – mainly LGBT and especially anything Trans – we saw a series of vocal and sometimes violent protests against Drag Queen Story Time and, less in the news, more attempts by the public to ban certain titles. These protest letters were often copy and pasted from US or US-influenced webpages. While instances of successful actual censorship were small but not non-existent in the UK, the many protests at the story-times may well have an impact in 2023. We’ll see.
  • Budget cuts were strongly threatened last year but in the end, with some notable local exceptions, did not make a huge impact on services. There are similar worries, possibly with more reason, in 2023.
  • Libraries of Things made an increasing impact, in a couple of incarnations. Tool (and other things0 libraries started in a few branches and, perhaps more interestingly, other things such as coats were starting to be donated and given out as well. The trend towards giving other items, such as feminine hygiene products, increased as did the providing of some novel services, such as sunshine-lights.
  • After what feels like an age, at least the name of the Single Digital Presence – “LibraryOn” – was announced. The job in producing it is being done very thoroughly (just the naming took a significant time) so one hopes it’s going to be worth it when it comes.
  • The continued government distractions meant another one (or was it two or three? Don’t know) ministers in charge of libraries coming and going. They don’t do much anyway – saying nice things but giving very little else. More funding for the sector is evident from Arts Council England, though. The recruitment of an ex Mail journalist as a chair of a new libraries working group made shivers tun down my spine but it’s too early to tell if she’ll go full bold-exclamation-mark when it comes to more serious work. Certainly, though, don’t expect much government funding or hands-on intervention. But do expect increasingly encouragement of volunteers, charities, and anything else that may replace actual proper funding of the sector.

Anyway, wishing you all the best in 2023! Public libraries are stronger now than I had any right to expect when I started these editorials way back in 2010 and this is down to the wonderfulness of them as a concept (and that’s pretty darn brilliant) but also the people who work and fight for them. Thank you. Now on to the next twelve months.

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National news

International news

Local news by authority

A warm Christmas

Editorial

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This is going to be the last post before Christmas and so it’s great to see public libraries doing so much great stuff. With the cold weather, the sector is really pushing it’s possibilities as a warm welcoming and neutral space to the fore. I’m loving things like “kindness racks” for people to donate and take clothes, places to recycle those troublesome used batteries, giving hot drinks, providing free activities and free charging of phones. This is full-on final chapter of Christmas Carol stuff but even more so are the library services who have removed fines and the two this week who have either “paused” fining or extended their fines amnesty. All this and we provide fantastic free loan of books too. My gosh what a sector to work for.

So, merry Christmas everyone. Wishing you all the best this festive season. May I wish you many more happy returns (and issues) in 2023.

Changes by local authority

National news

Nick Poole is the only person related to public libraries on the list
  • Green Libraries Conference – CILIP. London, 24 March 2023. “The 2023 Green Libraries Conference aims to connect library staff at all levels to share ideas and insights on environmental understanding and action. A free, one-day event for public libraries in England on the theme of ‘Working Together for People and Planet”
  • Hot drinks, free coats, cold, hungry children: the shocking reality of Britain’s winter ‘warm banks’ – Guardian. “On Thursday, she spent some of the morning at the Gainsborough library in south-east Ipswich, in one of the city’s newly designated warm banks. The modern building is kept heated to 21C; its cafe offers free hot drinks and has a welcoming smell of toast. It feels like a healthier and more cheerful place than her home, where she has been keeping the heating off during the day to save money, and has experimented with keeping some of the windows open in an attempt to stop the spreading mould.”

“… the staff here are proving a new kind of support in a subtle way and their approach seems to be working. People come in to print out a document and stay in the cafe for hot drinks. Rails of free clothes (known as “kindness racks”) are available for visitors to choose whatever they want. On Thursdays, library staff and volunteers pack up bags of pears, potatoes, bananas, apples, peppers and carrots, and sell them for the reduced price of £2. Cartons of free period products have been slotted in between book displays on the library shelves, to make it easy for people to help themselves.”

  • The Knowledge – This a link to subscribe to the free daily email from The Knowledge about current affairs. It’s a short update, and I’ve always found it interesting, with different articles to what normally sees plus some fun stuff. Not much to do with public libraries though. But, if you subscribe through the attached link, I get entered into a prize draw [! – Ed.]
  • North-east family’s donation to help local charity spread message to every UK child – Press and Journal. “It’s hoped, by Christmas, each library in the UK will have a copy of A Friend Just Like Me. The book was written for Ballater organisation A Bear Named Buttony, set up to break the “poo taboo” around stomas, bowel and bladder conditions.”
  • TalkTalk reveals more hybrid workers using libraries to reduce bills – News and Star. “Half of those that have used such alternative venues for work are now doing so for one or two days a week, with further third swapping home for local businesses or libraries three or four days a week.” see full TalkTalk report.
  • A Tube-Style Map Of London Libraries – Londonist. “not only includes 350 libraries, but also provides information about their facilities and how to get between them”
  • Webinars – British Library Living Knowledge Network. ” a series of recorded webinars that cover a wide range of useful topics for library staff. Build your knowledge of evaluating events, death positive libraries, engaging with teenagers and more.”
  • Where to keep warm this winter – BBC Moneybox. “We visit Widnes library and speak to the organisers of the campaign.”

International news

Denmark

Local news by authority

Denbighshire
Suffolk

Nearly Christmas

Editorial

Looking out of my window, there’s snow on the ground, and I notice the weather forecast says there’s going to be minus figure temperatures for the next week, so it’s no surprise that Warm Libraries continues to be a major theme in the news. It’s interesting to see how different library services are approaching things, with my salutes this week going to Libraries Unlimited who got funding for increased opening hours, Norfolk for offering bags of clothes and other materials, and South Lanarkshire going full-surreal with its welly swaps. Elsewhere, there are two moves of libraries, including a big one at Huddersfield. And there’s background noise about forthcoming cuts to council budgets and library services. Well, it’s nearly Christmas I guess.

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Changes by local authority

National news

  • Author Pamela Butchart on the cat who brought magic into her world – Herald. “My love of reading started in the Wellgate Library in Dundee. The library was a free and child-friendly space, so my mum took me there one day when we were out in town. And that’s where I found Mog. I loved the library as a wee one (and still do). I couldn’t believe I was allowed to take out not just one book but 10 books. I was so excited to go back every weekend and I didn’t have to worry about asking my mum for money because it was free. That’s why libraries are so essential – for many children it’s the only way they can access as many books as they would like. That’s the magic of libraries.”
  • British libraries under threat; the fight for funding – Impact. “There are things we can do to support our local libraries to try and prevent these closures. Penguin Books highlight examples on their website. We can become members, borrow books (this can even be online), donate, write to our local MP and use the space provided for work or reading. “
  • Designing libraries – DCMS. “To my mind, promoting strong, innovative and imaginative library design – and redesign – is key to it all. ACE has provided funding towards the first phase of DL’s redevelopment – a new content management system which will underpin further improvements. I am leading a small team taking the project forward.”
  • The Guardian view on local libraries: a resource that must be protected – Guardian. “The cost of living crisis has cast new light on their role as places not only to read and learn, but to keep warm. They cannot be allowed to dwindle” … ” Nearly one in four [chief librarians] think they will have to close local branches. In a report titled Reimagining Where We Live, the parliamentary committee of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport last month argued for increased central government support. It is vital that the government steps up. The cost of not doing so is unimaginable.”
  • Innovation Network Gathering 2023 – Libraries Connected. Birmingham, Thursday 2 March, £60. “This event brings public library staff together from across the UK to showcase their innovative work, create new connections and think collectively about how to improve their services to local communities. There will be a couple of external speakers and lots of presentations and sharing sessions from library services, making it a really interactive and informative day with lots of networking.”
  • Warm Banks in London: where can you find them? – BBC. Libraries have very frequent mentions. Same thing for Berkshire at Cost of living: Find warm spaces across Berkshire – BBC and Hampshire.
  • Why access to libraries and books are a human right for children – Herald. “Even in a forecast second tunnel of austerity, closing libraries or cutting school librarians shouldn’t be on the table. They are a symbolic place. They signal that we, as a society, believe in meritocracy. They show that we believe everyone can and does have the ability to read themselves to a better life. As Dr Seuss said: “The more you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you go.”
  • With local libraries, it’s quality that matters, not quantity – Guardian / Letters. “Your editorial (4 December) rightly identifies local libraries as an important community resource, but places too much emphasis on the number of branches and not on two central issues – accessibility and opening hours. There is little point in having a library that has no toilets, no facilities and which is inconvenient to reach. Nor is there much point in a building where the budget has to be cut back to such an extent that it is never open.” Brent prioritised library size over number.

International news

  • Ukraine – ‘Our mission is crucial’: meet the warrior librarians of Ukraine – Guardian. “When Russia invaded Ukraine, a key part of its strategy was to destroy historic libraries in order to eradicate the Ukrainians’ sense of identity. But Putin hadn’t counted on the unbreakable spirit of the country’s librarians” … “During this war, Ukrainian libraries now serve new roles. They operate as centres for displaced persons. They offer psychological counselling for traumatised populations. They provide space for art therapy. “Of course, we pay special attention to children,” Bruy says. The librarians even sew camouflage nets when they have the time.”
  • USA – Anti-LGBTQ+ Actor-Writer Kirk Cameron Shocked at Libraries’ Rejection – Advocate. “Fifty libraries from across the U.S. have either rejected or not responded to the former Growing Pains star’s offers to appear, his publisher, Brave Books, told Fox News. “Many of the same libraries that won’t give Cameron a slot, however, are actively offering ‘drag queen’ story hours or similar programs for kids and young people,” Fox News reports on its website.” … “, Cameron told Fox News, “This is proof that more than ever, we are getting destroyed in the battle for the hearts and minds of our children.” “Publicly funded libraries are green-lighting ‘gender marker and name change clinics’ while denying a story time that would involve the reading of a book that teaches biblical wisdom,” he went on. “How much more clear can it get?””

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Final check out for Aberchirder library at its current location – Grampian Online. “The current library premises are open for just five hours per week to serve the local area and a planned move to refurbished space within the Primary School building will enable it to extend its offering. In the report to councillors is is explained that Live Life Aberdeenshire is expected to make savings of £210,000 in the libraries and museums service through expansion of click and collect (within libraries) at the expense of the Mobile Service, reduction in library buildings, replace existing systems with opensource products to provide access to a wide range of digital services and materials.”
  • Devon – Librarian Linda’s spreading the word – Dawlish Today. “The Newton Abbot mum loves books so much she’s set up a free reading library outside her home in Primrose Drive.”
    • Funding for extra opening hours for libraries – Libraries Unlimited. “The National Grid has awarded a £9,900 grant to Libraries Unlimited, the charity that runs the 54 libraries around Devon and Torbay. The money will mean extra staff time, heating and lighting in five libraries can be funded for between three and four more hours a week until the end of March. The funding is from the Community Matters Fund, provided by The National Grid and delivered in partnership with Localgiving.”
  • Dudley – Dudley library manager wins RNA librarian of the year award – Dudley News. “Most recently she worked with authors to provide talks for library users across the borough, which were really well attended and received.”. Romantic Novelist’s Association Industry Awards 2022: Winners Announced – Romantic Novelists Association. Librarian of the Year: Sharon Whitehouse, ​​Dudley Libraries, GLL.
Cheshire West and Chester – Warm Welcoming Spaces in Libraries is the focus of the corporate Christmas card

2023 Universal Library Offers, Warm Libraries and a Scottish Library Celebrity

Editorial

Things are already quietening down for Christmas, with the only real theme being a late few library services announcing their Warm Spaces offer. This can range from just mentioning their public libraries exist to, on the other extreme, extending opening hours, providing food and drink, plus advice. In other news, the annual launch of the Universal Library Offers Calendar for next year. I have recently become a convert for long-term planning, having already booked in scores of events for next Summer, so I’ll be looking through this calendar for ideas tomorrow.

There is another theme though, and that’s the lots of positive Scottish news (including from Sean McNamara who is fast becoming some sort of library celebrity). There’s talk of automatic library membership, “lend and mend hubs” and (my perennial favourite) dogs in libraries. Shame it’s so cold up there … well, except in the libraries, obviously.

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National news

  • It’s ok to fail. Creating playful learning spaces in libraries – Artefacto. “Practise what you preach and be inventive with your planning. You could even create a forum for your own staff and/or patrons, where participants are free to creatively engage with ideas on building a creative program together. But staff need to feel supported to deliver these innovative programs. There are resources out there to help them, and we’ve picked out a few below …”
  • New drive to make ‘every child’ a library card holder – Herald. “Pamela Tulloch, chief executive of the Scottish Library & Information Council (SLIC), said it is working with health professionals to promote information on the benefits of library membership to parents as early as during antenatal care. “What we would like to see is more children joining up as library members at birth,” said Ms Tulloch.”
This gives an opportunity for library services to say what they would use a grant for

Changes by local authority

  • Blackburn With Darwen – Blackburn Library opens for an extra 2 hours every Saturday afternoon and Darwen Library opens for an extra 3 hours every Friday morning (source: email). 

International news

Congratulations to Dave Rowe of Libraries Hacked for winning the data category in the Open:UK Awards

Local news by authority

  • Medway – Medway Libraries’ first international exhibition – Medway Council. “Explore how the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the concept of art at Medway Libraries’ first international exhibition at Chatham Library.”
  • Merton – Health and Wellbeing Zones launched in Merton’s libraries – Merton Council. “More than 700 people, including local GPs, councillors and the Mayor, attended the launch of the new Health and Wellbeing Zones at Morden Library. The zones are now available in all seven of Merton libraries, as part of the MindSpace project. The Health & Wellbeing Zones will give residents access to vital information, exclusive online content, and tech gadgets to help improve their wellbeing.”
  • Nottingham Knitted gift for council leader after libraries saved – West Bridgford Wire. “When they heard that their library is saved, they decided to thank the council by way of thanking Cllr David Mellen, the council leader.  The obvious way was to give him something knitted, and a scarf was made for him. The Basford Knit and Natter Group has contacted David Mellen to ask him when they can present the scarf.”
  • Oxfordshire – Free food waste caddy liners for households – Yahoo Sport. “Householders can pick up a free roll of food waste caddy liners to help deal with the extra food waste expected to be generated over the festive period.”
Nottinghamshire
  • Pembrokeshire – Town library closed ‘until further notice’ – Yahoo News. Essential building maintenance. “Narberth Library is a community managed partnership between Pembrokeshire County Council’s library service, the Friends of Narberth Library and Narberth Town Council. The library will be moving to the Old School site in Narberth late 2023/early 2024.”
  • Sheffield – Zest – Zest – ex-Upperthorpe public library is now a multi-use leisure/community centre. Library has very long opening hours, self-service. Joining also requires “2 proofs of ID”.
  • Suffolk – Gainsborough Library sees rising demand for food support – Ipswich Star. “Earlier this month, Suffolk Libraries launched the Be Kind in Kind campaign to support vulnerable people through a difficult winter. The initiative has seen the charity open all 45 of its libraries – including Gainsborough – to the community, offering a warm space, free hot drinks, kindness rack – so people can pick donated clothes – hygiene products and a safe place to meet people. “Since Suffolk Libraries launched the Be Kind in Kind campaign people have also been coming in to make the most of the hot drinks and our kindness rack,” added Mandy. “
  • Wrexham – Wrexham libraries offer a safe, warm space to visit – Leader.

Children’s libraries of all colours

Editorial

There’s been some negative trends in the last decade in oh so many ways but one of the things I’ve most appreciated is the increase in the presence of characters of colour in children’s books. Someone pointed out a few years ago that covers of books used to contain all white children, then animals and then only children of colour when they were essential to the plot. Nowadays it is common to see non-white children on book covers, no matter the story. Long may this, and the not-so-unrelated rise in the number of children’s author of colour, continue. And let’s hope some more positive trends come into play as well. More funding for Hackney would be nice,, for instance.

Local news by authority

National news

Compare with Norfolk equivalent below
  • Children’s authors of colour published in UK rose to 11.7% of market in 2021 – Guardian. “New research has found that 11.7% of children’s book creators published in the UK in 2021 were people of colour, up from 5.6% in 2017. Despite the big improvement, though, “the UK’s body of children’s literature overall remains far from representative” said Diana Gerald, chief executive of BookTrust, in the report’s introduction.”
  • Everyday Philosophy: Why we need libraries – New European. “Community libraries are different from these. They serve multiple purposes. They are, among other things, a democratic resource providing free access to information for all, including guided access to the internet for those who might otherwise be excluded. They have huge symbolic importance too, representing a commitment to the common good, and are staffed by experts who can help people from a wide range of backgrounds find what they are looking for, as well as services that they didn’t realise they might be able to use. Increasingly they are becoming refuges for the cold, vulnerable and homeless.”
  • In the spotlight with Darren Smart – Solus. Interview with Darren The Viking, BEM.
  • It’s ok to fail. Creating playful learning spaces in libraries – Artefacto. ” staff need to feel supported to deliver these innovative programs. There are resources out there to help them, and we’ve picked out a few below …”
  • Libraries and Sanctuary: Supporting Refugees and New Arrivals – Facet Publishing. “; learn from practical initiatives, ‘what works’ examples and longer case studies; identify gaps in library provision; and find inspiration to start similar initiatives in their own institution. Drawing on the author’s decades of work in libraries and social exclusion, this is a book for anyone seeking to create an inclusive and welcoming library community.”
  • Libraries at risk of cuts despite ‘unprecedented’ rise in users – BBC. “One is Gainsborough Community Library in Ipswich, which is selling cut-price bags of fruit and vegetables for £2 and has seen its sales almost double since the summer.” … “The charity [Libraries Connected] believes the chancellor’s announcement will lead to cuts in funding for libraries and other frontline services.”
  • Library Campaign Newsletter – Library Campaign. Topics include RNIB, Lewisham (proposed £90k cut), Peacehaven and Redditch consultations, Nottingham, Westminster, Libraryon, Government funding.
  • LILAC Bursaries – LILAC. “To have a truly engaging conference, we need delegates who bring a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. The LILAC conference is therefore offering 5 free places for people working in the following under-represented sectors/communities in the UK:”
  • PLR consultation 2022 – Library Data Blog. “I object to the proposed rate per loan increase. This is primarily due to it being incorrect, but also due to it being unsustainable.” … “n 1982, at the beginning of the PLR scheme, the rate per loan was 0.5p. If the rate had remained stable, accounting for inflation, it would now be about 2p per loan. It has steadily increased. This resulted in a peak of 11.26p last year, roughly 6 times what was initially proposed.”

International news

“We just are doing what public libraries do,” Cremer said. “We don’t really judge information, we are a reflection of the world and things that are in the world. We have information that has been published and mediated and checked for facts. So it’s a safe place that people can go to get access to that information. It’s not like we are handing out or advocating it in any way. It’s just there.”

Judith Cremer, the library director, Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library, Kansas

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Banff library to launch Dog Friendly Saturday sessions – Grampian Online. “Similar schemes have been successful in both Edinburgh and Perth and Kinross, and will be piloted in Banff and Stonehaven libraries for a six-month period. There are many benefits to making libraries dog friendly. It can help encourage people who are lonely, have low confidence or are isolated to come with their dog to the library and meet new people.”
  • Angus – Angus librarians to ballot on strike action – Angus World. “The ballot, which opens on November 30 – comes in response to changes approved by Angus councillors which could see some library staff have their hours cut and be required to relocate away from their home base. For the third time since 2015, staff in libraries and access services employed as Information Advisers by ANGUSAlive – an arm’s-length organisation set up by Angus Council to deliver leisure and culture services – are facing plans to cut their pay and/or terms and conditions. Angus Council met on Thursday, November 3 to approve ANGUSALive’s proposals which also included changes to opening hours of libraries across the council area.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Libraries bring Christmas cheer to the community – Bath and North East Somerset Council. “There will be a Lego Lab for free creative play, Christmas crafts and stories and another chance to enjoy the dedicated sensory space at Bath Central Library. A new Christmas chalet outside the Guildhall during Bath Christmas Market on December 5 and 6 will bring library services to the community and an opportunity to enjoy a spot of crafting. …”
  • BoltonTen public libraries used as ‘warm spaces’ for people seeking relief from cold homes – Manchester Evening News. “All 10 Bolton public libraries open as Warm Spaces, people can drop in to get warm and join in lots of free activities such as reading, group events or using wi-fi and computers.”
  • Bristol – Bristol Central Library could relocate to Debenhams’ site – BBC. “Bristol’s library service budget faces large cuts, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS). Bristol Central Library could be moved into the vacant Debenhams’ store building in the centre of Broadmead to help, council leaders have suggested. Leaders said relocating from College Green was “just an idea” as the council attempts to find £47.7m in savings.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Cost of Living: Central Bedfordshire Council opens sites as warm spaces – BBC. “libraries offered free Wi-Fi and access to public computers.”
  • Cheshire East – Cheshire East Council proud to become Sunflower Scheme employer during UK Disability History Month – Cheshire East Council. “customers and visitors will have access to one of these lanyards to borrow on site from our libraries and customer service centres.”
  • Devon – Tributes to leading light in town life – Tavistock Times Gazette. “Jan Horrell senior library supervisor at Tavistock Library, said: ‘Richard Martin was a long-time friend of the Library in Tavistock, in more recent years, the valued secretary and treasurer to the Friends of Tavistock Library, whose fundraising activities he supported with quiz questions, raffles and even dressing up.”
  • Hackney – Protests at Town Hall over Hackney plans to cut library staff – Easy London Lines. “With a third of library staff warned that they face redundancy, supporters of Hackney libraries protested outside theTown Hall on Wednesday night to put pressure on councillors to readdress the cuts.” … “99 staff members from libraries in Hackney have received letters from the Strategic Director Stephen Haynes notifying them that their jobs were “deleted”. UNISON puts the figure of cuts made by Hackney Council at £445,000, £195,000 more than initially proposed at the beginning of the year. As an MP, Abbott said she would consult with the councillors to not go forward with the cuts. “
  • Hertfordshire – Free cyber crime advice at Bishop’s Stortford Library – Bishop’s Stortford Independent. “Organised and delivered by officers from the force’s serious fraud and cyber unit, the sessions will provide practical tips for avoiding the most common types of cybercrimes.”
Compare with USA one above

“In the current economic climate, when we are promoting our libraries as warm spaces for people to spend time in to save money, we believe it is the ideal time to remove our library fines and offer a little extra help for people during these tough times.”

Councillor Sandra Graham, North Tyneside Council

Meeting some baser needs

Editorial

I wasn’t sure what to write in this week’s editorial – more on Warm Banks (or whatever we call them) perhaps or on the recent austerity-laden budget. But then I read something just below publishing about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It strikes me that libraries can meet all of these needs: self-actualisation (e.g. writing that novel, 3D printer), esteem (e.g. literacy, even owning a library card), social (e.g. knit and natter) and safety (neutral welcoming space). What went without saying until recently is that they provided warmth as well. But now that’s an actual selling point of libraries. And it seems to me that what level councils and library services aim for on the hierarchy is a pretty good indicator of how successful they are, and not just them, but for the society in which they a part of. In which case, it’s pretty low at the moment. But pretty essential too.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Cost of Living crisis: Libraries as warm banks – Dawn of the Unread. “By having multiple purposes, libraries are able to connect with communities that may otherwise not come into contact with books.” … “, the question of whether a library can be a focal point of the community seems to be the least important function at present. The current economic climate means the ambitions, at least in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, are purely physiological, to provide shelter and warmth.  “
  • Digital Leadership for Libraries empowering England’s public library workforce – CILIP. “five open-access, online learning modules created for public library workers, volunteers and apprentices. The modules are intended to create engagement with the principles and values of being a digital leader in the public libraries, unlocking the potential for all public library workers, and their services, to be confident digital leaders.”
  • Health on the High Street: The Role of Public Libraries – DCMS / Gov.uk. 215 people used ” M8 dual function automatic monitor (affectionally nicknamed FRED) which allows customers to accurately measure their height, weight, BMI, heart rate and blood pressure without supervision. They get a printout of the results and the data is also sent to their GP automatically if the customer consents to do so. The pilot was soft launched through local advertising via social media and by library staff and partners talking to their customers.”
  • Libraries vs. the Cost of Living Crisis – Book Riot. Free entertainment, easing financial pressure, warm banks. “While the fact that such a thing as a “warm bank” is necessary is a horrifying indictment of how bad things have become under austerity and late-stage capitalism, it’s reassuring that, once again, libraries are stepping up for their communities. “

International news

  • Iraq – Library Development in Iraq – Re-writing History – CILIP. 13 November, 5pm.
  • Ukraine – Forum on Building Partnership for Ukrainian libraries – Naple Sister Libraries. “Several hundred libraries were fully destroyed or damaged because of Russian missile attacks in Ukraine.
    To rebuild them it needs strong partnerships and ‘sisterships’ from the friendly libraries of Europe. That is why it is organized the Forum on 17 November 11.00-13.00 (Kyiv time) to present the situation of Ukrainian libraries and search for opportunities for cooperation.”
  • USA – They Want to Kill Libraries – Cory Doctorow. “Librarians are kind of upside-down cops: public employees who are stepping in wherever the rest of our services have failed. Cops are some of our highest-paid public servants and their salaries are going up. Librarians get by on a shoestring and their wages are being slashed. Progressives openly call for the police to be defunded — billionaire plutocrats hide their campaign to defund libraries behind groomer hoaxes.”

Local news by authority

Library ideas, impending doom and ACE funding

Editorial

One of the things I love about doing Public Libraries News is looking at what other library services are doing and wondering if it would work in my own. This week there’s a few things that I’m going to chase up when back in the office – BFI Replay, borrowing local theatre stars to do story-times and thermal cameras being the main ones. I’m not sure about the natural light lamps though or the idea of outsourcing to Capita which would then charge £8 per telephone call to a library, though.

In other news, one can’t help but notice the impending doom-laden clouds on the near horizon threatening deep budget cuts to councils next year. As if we’ve not been through enough. On the other end of the money scale, though, the week records a whole bunch of councils announcing Arts Council England funding. This is great but the fear must be that there’ll be an odd dichotomy between lovely arts events in councils announcing library closures. Although, of course, that’s assuming the Government doesn’t cut Arts Council England funding … you know, sometimes my pessimistic Welsh side really shows doesn’t it?

National news

  • About BFI Replay – BFI. “BFI Replay is a free streaming service exclusively available in UK public lending libraries. Thousands of digitised videos and television programmes from the BFI National Archive and partner UK regions and nations film archives are available to browse and enjoy, research or study – with some familiar and memorable, others rare and unseen for decades. If you are a UK lending library service and would be interested in knowing more about the service, use our enquiry form below.”
  • Bus and adult care services face cuts, English councils warn – BBC. “More than half suggested they were likely to look at reducing road maintenance, cuts to home-to-school transport, and changes to either the number or opening hours of libraries or recycling centres.”
  • Councils set to cut bus routes, libraries and streetlamps as austerity fears grow – Independent. “Only one in five county councils confident of avoiding bankruptcy next year” … ”
  • Ed Jewell elected new Libraries Connected President Elect – Libraries Connected. Chief Librarian at Jersey Public Library Service.
  • Libraries Connected celebrates after securing Arts Council England funding – Libraries Connected. £509k for two years initially. “Libraries Connected will have Investment Principle Support Organisation (IPSO) status, meaning we will support public library services to embed the Arts Council’s Investment Principles (Ambition & Quality, Dynamism, Environmental Responsibility and Inclusivity & Relevance) in their work”
  • Libraries Connected publishes new strategic plan – Libraries Connected. “a programme of collaborative research on the challenges and opportunities of the next decade” … public library service accreditation scheme, “Starting a public libraries data and evidence observatory”, “Launching an equality, diversity and inclusion learning and development programme for library services.”, “strategic advocacy programme”, “Establishing a commission on libraries and disadvantage to review the evidence on the role of public libraries in reducing social, environmental, financial and health inequalities”
  • McCulla Award – Local Studies Librarian of the Year – CILIP Local Studies Group. “The award is usually given for a recent major project, or as a lifetime award for someone near the end of their career. It comes with a prize of £250. Re-submissions from previous years are very welcome. “
  • Virtual hospital and GP appointments rolled out into libraries – STV. “Near Me rooms are now available in some GP surgeries and other locations such as libraries.””

International news

Local news by authority

Dorset – Time is running out to have your say – Dorset Council

LibraryOn

Editorial

So now we know. After far-too-long-a-time calling the proposed web presence for English public libraries “The Single Digital Presence”, it’s been decided that the official name will be “LibraryOn”, presumably pronounced like “Librarian”. Well, it could be worse, it could have the word “hub” in it. The logo looks a bit dated to my eyes but, again, there’s far worse out there. And, yes, Libraries Connected, I’m looking at you. So now all that needs doing is to, um, actually deliver. LibraryOn is still in the beta testing stage and does not promise to be as universal as some had hoped but it will be great when it’s actually online and publicly advertised. I had wondered sometimes if that day will ever come, and still do occasionally, but this is a vital next stop.

In other news, Arts Council England have announced big funding decisions, securing BookTrust and boosting library services such as Gloucestershire and York Explore. That’s all good. Elsewhere, I’m loving the pavement illusion in Dublin, a new wood-lined interior for a library in London and the adult reading scheme in Nottinghamshire (especially the video). And, finally, Warm Spaces continues to be a huge thing for libraries, with more services announced, although some just seem to be the normal public library offer.

Finally, a new DCMS report says positive things about public libraries. We will see what this means in practise but it at least doesn’t suggest negative stuff. And at a time when councils are again looking at deep cuts, this is welcome.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • BookTrust awarded £17.3m and recognised as National Portfolio Organisation by Arts Council England – Book Trust. “BookTrust’s new status as an NPO is an endorsement of the transformative power of reading and an investment in the creative development of young people. The £17.3m funding from ACE, spread over three years, will play a key part in the national strategy to deliver better outcomes for children through culture and creativity.”
  • East Lothian and Inverclyde libraries triumph at SLIC awards – Bookseller. “East Lothian scooped the Library Service Excellence Award for its activities on the theme of “championing the local community”.” … “Inverclyde triumphed in the Project of the Year category for its focus on sustainability ahead of and linked to the COP26 Summit in Glasgow last year. “
  • Government urged to negotiate with public sector workers over pay – Public Finance. ““We’ve got nurses, librarians and teaching assistants going to food banks – we’ve got a hospital that’s set one up for its staff. People can’t afford to feed their families. If I’d have said this would happen 10 years ago no-one would have believed me. That’s now a reality.””
  • Green Libraries Webinar – CILIP. Friday 25 November, 1pm. “The Green Libraries Webinar is an hour long meet to showcase the recent work we have published for the Partnership. We will discuss the Partnership’s aims, what work is currently going on and what has taken place earlier this year. We will hear from two libraries that were featured in our case studies and what work they are doing for their library services to be more sustainable and have an impact in their communities. There will be a short Q+A towards the end.”
  • Libraries Celebrating Black History Month – DCMS. “Each October, libraries across the country mark Black History Month through events and recommended reading.  Here are just a few examples.  It is a longer read than usual but we wanted to highlight the variety of activities libraries run to bring together their communities.”: Staffordshire, Gateshead, West Sussex.
  • Library chiefs call for DCMS to ‘stem the tide’ of service cuts – BookSeller. “Library chiefs have called for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to “stem the tide” of service closures and staff cuts by providing more support, with several libraries across the country under threat due to rising inflation and increased energy costs. Nick Poole, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP), told The Bookseller the organisation is “deeply concerned about the current fresh wave of reductions in library services being proposed in a number of local authorities, including some of the most deprived wards in the UK”.”
Finally, a name for the Single Digital Presence
  • LibraryOn – LibraryOn. “LibraryOn is a not-for-profit initiative and we put libraries and library ethics at our heart. Funded by Arts Council England, LibraryOn is also managing a £1.1m local grant programme. Co-designed with library services, the grants will help libraries improve their own online presence. While LibraryOn is in development, we will provide information here about its progress.”
  • New drive to get books by black authors into libraries – Voice. “The ‘Mark My Words’ campaign will gift libraries titles for both adults and children and will include both fiction and non-fiction books by black authors. “
  • Parliamentary report calls for government to support and modernise libraries – Guardian. “Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee report says libraries are ‘an important part of a community’s infrastructure’” … “The report, titled Reimagining where we live: cultural placemaking and the levelling up agenda put together by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, recommends that the government should “support the development of a network of hubs providing cultural spaces, workspaces and free, fast internet access in places most in need of levelling up in order to modernise library service provision”
  • UK councils slashing services to meet £3.2bn budget shortfall – Guardian. Libraries specifically mentioned, with the example being the Wirral.
  • The Yorkshire libraries where you can borrow anything from power tools to party supplies – Great British Life. “this library lends everything from hand tools and powertools, to sewing machines, lawn mowers, carpet cleaners, ladders, party supplies, camping equipment and air mattresses — anything that people use infrequently (say once a month or longer) but would otherwise have to buy new and store at home.”

International news

Ireland
  • USA – Book banners are weaponizing legitimate resources: book censorship news, October 28, 2022 – Book Riot. “Part of the reason these book banning attempts are spreading so far and so quickly is because they share lists online, such as in Facebook groups or shared Google Drive folders, making it easy for a book being banned in Montana today to pop up in a California school board meeting the next day. They share images, rhetoric, out-of-content quotations, and other fodder for the fear machine, and it seems to only collect more targeted books as it goes.” … “Book banners are searching out lists online that are aimed at finding good sources to teach age-appropriate sex ed, or lists of books starring Black main characters, or lists of LGBTQ-friendly picture books, or lists of books to teach social-emotional learning — and they’re using these resources as book banning target practice.”

Warm Spaces

“They think they’re just having fun. That’s very important – children don’t need to know their parents are stressed”

Alexandra Mitchell, 28, on visiting Chelmsford Library

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Spread some Christmas cheer and Gift A Book – Bath and North East Somerset Council. “Bath & North East Somerset Council’s libraries service is calling for donations of new or nearly new books for its Gift A Book campaign, which last Christmas saw around 3,500 books donated by residents and charities.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Council cannot confirm there will be no cuts to libraries – Argus. ““This indicated potential budget shortfalls of £13 million in the best case, to £21 million at the midpoint, up to £31 million in a worst-case scenario,” said Councillor Martin Osborne, on behalf of the council.”
  • Caerphilly – Popular ‘Managing Money’ event returns to Caerphilly library – Caerphilly Council. “The second Managing Money MOT Day run on November 30th, will include a wide selection of organisations including Caerphilly School Uniform Exchange, Citizen’s Advice, Furniture Revival and Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and is looking to replicate its success from September.  There will also be a fantastic budget cooking demonstration with Mrs Shopland, who – along with her talented A-Level Hospitality students from St Martin’s School – will be showing what can be done with Christmas leftover food.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Northwich Library stabilisation work begins this week – Northwich and Winsford Guardian. “Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) has engaged historic building conservation specialist Recclesia Ltd to undertake the first phase of the work.  They will be working alongside structural engineers, specialist scaffolding engineers, Historic England and qualified health and safety advisors.”
  • Cumbria – Millom Community Hub opens with new library for town – ITV. “The Millom Community Hub will now host a library and the town’s adult learning, health and wellbeing team. Copeland Borough Council and Millom School reception will also be based in the hub. New technology and free Wi-Fi has been installed at the library, as well as shelving and a comfortable seating area. A dedicated space for teenagers and a children’s library is also part of the new hub.”
Devon
Hackney

“With soaring inflation and rising costs in fuel, energy, food and mortgages, Nottingham City Libraries have clubbed together to host ‘Cost of Living Cafes’ in their libraries this November. This will give residents the opportunity to meet organisations who can help with energy use, money matters, wellbeing and much more. Plus, tea and coffee will be available as well as children’s activities.”. Free tea and coffee, lego and colouring for children.

Nottingham – Cafes bring communities together in cost of living crisis Email update
  • Powys – Could your child design the new library card for Powys? – Powys Council. “The competition is open to anyone aged between 4 and 16years old and will be split into two age categories: primary school children (aged 4-11), and secondary school children (aged 11-16), with a prize for the winner of each category. One of the winning designs will be chosen to create the new library membership card.”
  • Shropshire – Library’s spooktacular success for Halloween – Shropshire Council. “A Halloween themed party at Market Drayton Library attracted more than 1,000 people through the doors to enjoy a host of seasonal activities – the biggest number ever. The annual Halloween event at the Shropshire Council-run library has gone strength to strength and more and more people are adding it to their social diaries. Hard-working staff and volunteers organised face-painting, games and crafts and a town trail to encourage people to get out and about and explore.”
Nottinghamshire – Adult Reading Scheme

Hack-ney

Editorial

A reasonably quiet week this week, with the only storm cloud being Hackney’s decision to cut £250k from its budget, resulting in protests.

Changes by local authority

National news

Free roadshows

International news

Warm banks

Local news by authority

Manchester
  • Staffordshire – Changes and improvements are on the cards for five Staffordshire libraries. – Express and Star. “Burton Library could have a “maker space” and improvements to its audience area for events if a funding bid proves successful, while Cannock’s facility may move to a new town centre “cultural hub” as part of regeneration plans boosted by a £20m Government Levelling Up windfall. To the north of the county another Levelling Up Fund application is being made and proposals include transforming the Nicholson Institute, which is home to Leek Library. Tamworth’s library building is set to welcome Staffordshire County Council staff currently based at Marmion House, And in Kidsgrove discussions are taking place with the Town Deal Board for the library to be involved in the Kidsgrove Shared Service Hub.”
  • Suffolk – Woodbridge Library launches new STEM books collection – East Anglian Daily Times. “Woodbridge Library will now have in its selection 50 books for 8–10-year-olds that cover the subjects of science, technology engineering and maths. The library hosted the free library science fun day that included Lego building challenge with prizes, marshmallow 3D shape-building, display and experiments by ‘It’s all Rocket Science’, as well as mega blok mayhem. “
  • Wandsworth – Holocaust-denying bishop holds hate services in London library – Jewish Chronicle. “The notorious Holocaust-denier Bishop Richard Williamson has been conducting rabidly antisemitic “services” in a London library, the JC has discovered. The cleric, who is a founding member of a fringe Catholic movement called the Society of St Pius X Resistance, also has a YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers.” … “Earlsfield Library, where Williamson held his services for almost a decade, is owned by GLL, a charitable social enterprise. After being contacted by the JC, a spokesperson said the bishop’s comments were “disgraceful and unacceptable”. They added: “We have terminated all the group’s bookings with immediate effect.””
  • Wirral – Wirral library faces demolition amid £20m budget cuts – BBC. Higher Bebington – “A decision on the demolition has been postponed until the new year when other options will be presented at a committee meeting on 25 January.”
  • Worcestershire – Public consultation for Redditch Library relocation gets go ahead – Redditch Advertiser. “Residents will now get the chance to have their say on proposals to relocate the library from its current site into the Town Hall which will be transformed into a community hub.”