Two annual events in danger of losing their shine

Editorial

Two annual library events have got me thinking this week. The first is the Summer Reading Challenge. By far the most popular promotion that any public library normally puts on, the Challenge is aimed at those in primary school, created by the Reading Agency and voluntarily bought into, or not, by library services. The format of it has not seriously changed since its introduction a quarter of a century ago. Probably the biggest change many have noted in that time is the replacement of the shiny “gold-looking” metal medal by a more environmentally friendly wooden one. Some library services, though, have got bored with this medal, sorry, model, or can no longer afford buying into it, or feel very independent, leading to some individual council designs, ranging from sub-SRC knock-offs to some genuinely impressive examples that must have taken a considerable amount of staff time and funding. This causes a problem because the more that go it alone then the more expensive it is for everyone else due to economies of scale. And more may go it alone in response. A vicious circle. So, something that was a great example of a national promotion is quite literally in danger of losing its shine. Which would be a tragedy.

Something else that happens nationally is the CILIP Conference, which was on this week. The vast majority of those working in public libraries, including many managers, may not have been aware of this at all. The cost of attending is prohibitive – several hundred per day – so only few can attend and the sessions themselves are not recorded or shared outside of the lucky few who can attend. This is not to decry the event. Like the Summer Reading Challenge, I strongly support the idea of bringing library workers together and have been in the privileged position myself of attending more than a few. I find them very useful and it’s a great way of getting people learning about what is going on nationally (other than reading Public Libraries News of course, naturally). But there is now something demonstrably improvable, at least for the public library contingent, about a conference that now attracts only a handful from that sub-sector and has little impact other than for the tiny handful of public librarians who can attend. And I hope it is fixed.

Do you agree on this, got suggestions or want to comment about something else? If so, lease email your views to me at ianlibrarian at live dot co dot uk. Thank you.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Librarians told to challenge ‘paradigm of whiteness’ in Welsh Labour anti-racism plan – Telegraph. Welsh Government has “provided funding that aims to “eradicate” systemic racism in libraries by training staff in “anti-racist principles”.” CILIP Wales “secured government funding for a project titled Anti-racist Library Collections, which will seek to transform libraries by rolling out new training for staff.” … explaining ““decolonising libraries is essential”, and suggests “prioritising the acquisition of materials authored by ethnic minority people”.”
  • Our libraries are on borrowed time – Prospect. Richard Ovenden. “we urgently need the incoming government to place a long overdue focus on libraries, and to develop a supporting national strategy, bringing together all of the library ecosystem, including public, school, national, university and specialist libraries. Libraries are a key part of the infrastructure of democracy: in Ukraine, libraries are being deliberately attacked by Russian forces—here we are effectively attacking our own provision through severe cuts to funding.”

International news

  • USA – New rule restricts what’s allowed on shelves in SC public libraries – WIS 10. “The temporary law written into the state budget, called a proviso, requires county libraries to certify to the State Library that their children’s section does not contain any books or materials that appeal to the prurient interest — defined in state code as “a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sex, or excretion and is reflective of an arousal of lewd and lascivious desires and thoughts” — of kids under 13.”

Local news by authority

Labour in Libraries

Editorial

Wow, so that was a quite a victory for Labour. With such a majority, they have five years now to do what they can before the next election and, given the volatility of the electorate, the possibility of another change in government. There are huge challenges for Labour, including a distinct lack of money and economic weakness, and promises about not increasing taxation made pre-election. This will make it very difficult for them to follow the impulse, more natural to them than the Conservatives, to send money the way of local government and libraries. But it needs to be done. Local councils are on the verge of bankruptcy and public libraries have not had significant investment since, well, the last Labour Government. Hopefully, the capacity of libraries to do all sorts of things all over the country, not least boosting literacy, at cheap prices, means that the needed investment will be made. We can hope so. And perhaps the easiest low-cost maximum-impact way to start would be to find a way of removing late fees for all public libraries. Now that would be fine.

And then we have the problem of staff-less libraries. Back in the old days, a library was staffed by paid human beings. Since that Golden Age, increasing numbers of paid staff have been replaced by either volunteers or by technology, in terms of the ever expanding number of PIN-entry libraries. This lack of labour in libraries removes that chance of social interaction, and of unbiased expert help, that is one of the key selling points of the sector. It was done initially, mainly in other countries, as a way of expanding opening hours but, being the budget for UK libraries is what it is, is increasingly be done here to replace costly human beings. This has led to the Guardian writing an article called “The end of the librarian?” which is worth looking at. I’ve also collated information on the staff-less phenomenon here. If there’s still any human beings out there who wants to look.

National news

  • Libraries give us power. The next government must trust libraries to continue delivering for communities – Big Issue. CILIP CEO article. The public trusts libraries and that can be used.
  • Libraries should be at the heart of public life – Financial Times. Richard Ovenden. “The British public library system marks two important anniversaries this year. One hundred and seventy five years ago a debate was held in parliament which led to the Public Libraries Act of 1850, giving local authorities the ability to establish free public libraries through a modest increase in local taxation. Sixty years ago the Public Libraries and Museums Act of 1964 upgraded that law to made it a requirement for local authorities to provide the service.” … “In this anniversary year, it is a tragic irony that the system is now facing one of the most severe challenges in its history.” … “One solution? A distinct Minister for Libraries. A new ministerial brief could help highlight the contribution made by libraries across different areas of the government’s agenda.”

International news

  • Ireland – Turning over a new leaf – Irish Examiner. “GIY and Libraries Ireland have come together in a novel food and literacy education programme, beginning in Waterford but with the ambition to see the initiative evolve across Ireland, creating food-growing communities wherever there is a library to be found. Growing your own food is of course a positive climate action and also fosters food empathy and promotes sustainability, so along with the free seeds and information packs, the library will provide the know-how including online videos in this attempt to find a whole new audience for the superlative efforts of GIY. ” See LibraryLeaf.
  • USA – Placer County libraries extend hours to provide relief from excessive heat – Yubanet. California.
  • ALA 2024: Librarians Rally for the Right to Read – Publishers Weekly. “Freedom to read tops the list of librarians’ priorities, and the American Library Association’s 2024 conference emphasized the existential threats posed by book bans and the populist undermining of public institutions and trust.”
  • A Reader Asked for My Ultimate Top Ten Tips for the Most Effective Library Marketing Possible: Here’s the List – Super Library Marketing. Send emails, post only once a day on social media, put a bookmark into every reserved book, short script for staff to say about every event/promotion, talk to one community group per month, review your social media metrics monthly, plan calendar for 6-12 months ahead, speak to staff meetings about marketing, professional media releases, blog, 20 minutes per week to learn.

Local news by authority

Vote for Libraries

Editorial

By the look of the opinion polls, Public Libraries News will be reporting, for the first time it its 14 year history, soon on what impact a government without any Conservatives in it is having on public libraries. You already know the impact that the Conservatives have had. What will happen is unclear. Last general election, Labour’s manifesto was full of promises for public services including a likely bonanza for public libraries but it was all kind of moot because Labour stood no chance of being elected. This time around, everyone is more certain of Labour being elected than any other time I can remember in my 53 years, but there is not a single mention of libraries in their manifesto. So it’s unlikely to be a bonanza.

But I will most definitely vote. I read somewhere that a general election is better thought of as voting for a bus and not a marriage partner. You’re not voting for someone who you completely love and want to spend the rest of your life with. You’re voting for the one that gets you nearer to your desired destination. Which is why I will be voting for the party for that will take me closer to what is desired, rather than the one which most agrees with my beliefs (which stands no chance of being elected here). Because we live in a country with the first-past-the-post system and not proportional representation. Any other vote other than the one for a party likely to win is therefore, in this harsh winner-takes-all world, a wasted vote. It may make you feel better and principled and that’s great, do what you will. But for me, 14 years of Conservative Prime Ministers has taught me pragmatism. Public libraries need a vote. And not voting, or voting for someone with no chance of getting in, is not going to help anyone. So vote to make a real difference if you can. And heaven knows, many people think we need that.

Please email any news or comments to ianlibrarian at live co uk. Thank you. As stated elsewhere on this webpage, this website represents my personal opinions and is entirely my own work. It does not represent that of anyone else, including my main employer.

Changes by local authority

National news

“The average public library is not only a provider of the latest Anne Enright or Julia Donaldson: it is now an informal citizens advice bureau, a business development centre, a community centre and a mental health provider. It is an unofficial Sure Start centre, a homelessness shelter, a literacy and foreign language-learning centre, a calm space where tutors can help struggling kids, an asylum support provider, a citizenship and driving theory test centre, and a place to sit still all day and stare at the wall, if that is what you need to do, without anyone expecting you to buy anything … The trouble comes when libraries – and the underpaid, overstretched people who work in them – start to become sole providers for all these things”

  • Libraries are a lifeline that we cannot afford to lose – Guardian / Letters. North Yorkshire Libraries volunteer regrets that library could close without volunteering. Reminiscences and positive thoughts about the library. Folkstone Library has been closed for 18 months as council cannot afford to repair it. “They fill the many gaps left by the state, yet they are constantly under threat of closure.”

International news

  • Gulf – As Gulf countries continue to grow, they need more public libraries – National News / Opinion. “in 2022, the five Gulf countries for which data is available all had less than 0.5 public libraries per 100,000 people, as compared to more than five public libraries per 100,000 in the UK and US.”
  • USA – NYC public libraries have their funding restored, will reopen on Sundays – CNN. $11m. Initial cut due to flat funding and rising costs. Reverse of decision due to public unhappiness.
    • No computers. Keep books. Seattle library network outage nears a month – Seattle Times. “The library and its 27 branches continue to struggle through a ransomware attack that has disabled its networks, rendered its hundreds of public computers useless and turned its normal operations upside down.”
    • The Quiet Crisis Facing U.S. Public Libraries – Publishers Weekly. Written by Tim Coates. “The latest IMLS data show library visits are half what they were a decade ago—where is the response from library leaders?”. Author sure that reduction in books is to blame. “The data suggests that the shrinking gate counts is largely coming from existing users visiting libraries less often, rather than a falling number of people using libraries at all. There is no evidence to suggest that people’s need or desire for libraries has waned.” … ” the U.K. stands as a cautionary tale, where library funding has been slashed by more than 50% [sic – ed.] over the past decade, and a third of the U.K.’s public libraries have now closed.”
    • Urban Public Libraries in the 1980s: Evolving Library Services for an Information Society – Public Library Quarterly. ” As the U.S. shifted from an industrial society of large workplaces linking whole communities toward an “information society” with a more heterogenous workforce divided by educational attainment, urban public library workforces, target audiences, collections, and programming both adapted to and mirrored these changes.”

Local news by authority

Too little Trust?

Editorial

There have been many different new types of library governance since austerity began in 2010. We’ve seen Leisure Trusts taking over (a mixed picture), private companies (failure), local charities/parish councils taking them over and volunteers (at least 621 and rising, proving surprisingly resilient). A different type of Trust, though, has had – at least from my inexpert eye – been entirely successful. This is the Library-only Trust (Devon’s “Libraries Unlimited”, Suffolk Libraries and “York Explore”) which apparently have been able to combine providing traditional library services with a great deal of innovation, fund-raising, and an ability to stand up for themselves against councils keen on budget cuts. Not having to go through council publicity departments, whose eyes are often elsewhere, they are also very good at raising public awareness.

There are downsides to them of course but then there are – sometimes in spades – with council-run services. Just this week, if you don’t believe me, look at the poor library staff at Dorset, where many are losing their jobs at the moment while the council is trying to downplay the whole thing. Or in Birmingham, with a huge number of libraries are at risk. Or in Buckinghamshire which is looking to get rid of nearly a third of its staff and replace them with (checks notes) automatic doors and keypads. Such cuts have not happened in the Library Trust Three yet. I trust they will at least put up a fight, like York did, if such things are mooted. So, why are there not more? Well, it takes quite a different type of management skill to run one and a council will to give up control. A lack of trust, if you will.

Let me know your views by emailing ianlibrarian at live.co.uk.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Coelho and Becker on their Yoto Carnegie wins – BookSeller. “Coelho’s relationship with libraries goes all the way back to when he was a child himself, visiting the library to discover new books, study for his exams and meet up with friends. He also got his first Saturday job at his local library, and worked at The British Library when he was studying at university. As a writer, Coelho is constantly visiting libraries for festivals and events, most recently as part of the Library Marathon—one of his laureate tenure projects—through which he sought to encourage people to visit their local branch.”
  • Our message to the next government – Libraries Connected. “But public libraries cannot function effectively without adequate funding. This is why we are calling for fundamental reform of local government financing from the incoming UK government. Fair and sustainable local authority funding will enable libraries to fulfil their manifold roles: inspiring lifelong learning, supporting health and wellbeing and enriching our economic and cultural life.”

International news

Dublin – Can you see the 100 books? Scan the QR code too
  • President Higgins condemns “censorship” attempts by far-right groups targeting libraries – Gen. ” those who intimidate library staff and destroy books “hide behind the mask of ‘protester’, but must be called out for what they are: vigilantes attempting to censor, some of whom are committing criminal offences”.” … “In one instance last year, the Cork City library had to close for one day to protect library staff and patrons after a small group of far-right nationalists blocked the entrance with a banner.”
  • The Week in Libraries: June 21, 2024 – Publishers Weekly. “Targeting books in public schools and libraries is purposeful. Create a frenzy over lies and disinformation about the content in libraries and classrooms, then profit by claiming students are being indoctrinated”

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Maxine Peake says libraries are more than just for borrowing books after refurb – Bolton News. “And if they’re trying to cut everything here, it is because they are scared working people will educate themselves. “Because libraries teach us to ask questions, and to explore, so we should be teaching people this.” Maxine called libraries a “safe haven” for people in Bolton.”
  • Bradford – City library reopens after ‘nature’ revamp – BBC. “Manningham Library in Bradford was one of just six in the country to get funding from Natural England for its Culture Nature project, which aimed to turn libraries into “thriving hubs for nature enthusiasts”.” … “Large graphics showing local green areas and parkland have been put up at the library, as well as details of how visitors can best access them. Other improvements included a children’s sensory space, ceiling repairs and meeting equipment, Bradford Council’s library service said.”
Bromley – Empathy Day in Bromley – GLL. “Empathy Day was recently celebrated in Bromley’s libraries with a range of innovative activities to encourage kindness and compassion in young people. The library team would like to encourage libraries in other areas to take part in future.”
  • Bucks Council to replace librarians with self-service machines in cost-cutting measure – Bucks Herald. £555k cut. “The savings plan – dubbed ‘library flex’ – will be introduced at eight county libraries: Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Buckingham, Chesham, Hazlemere, Marlow and Princes Risborough.” … “The council claims that this will allow it to cut staff hours by 25-30 per cent, while increasing public access by 50 per cent or more. At High Wycombe Library, services will now only be delivered from one floor in a bid to reduce staffing, while at Burnham, the council will try to increase volunteer numbers to save money.”

“As many of you know we will shortly be losing 5 skilled and experienced staff due to redundancies. I would like to thank Jo (Library Manager) Liz (Library Assistant) Penny (Library Assistant) Andrea (relief librarian) and Julia ( relief librarian). Between them they have clocked up nearly 60 years working at Swanage Library, it will be very sad loss to the library and the community.”

Dorset – Swanage Library Friends.
Suffolk – “We’ve launched a new engagement campaign for the summer is designed to encourage more people to get actively involved with their local libraries” See story below.
  • Suffolk – Chantry Library launches children’s story competition to remember a much-loved staff member – Suffolk Libraries. “‘Sally’s Stories’ is a children’s story writing competition being launched to encourage local children to use their imagination and creativity to come up with their own story.”
    • Introducing Move It – Suffolk Libraries. “The equipment you can borrow includes: 4kg and 6kg kettlebells, a dumbbell set, resistance bands, mini pedals, wobble cushion, weighted hula hoop, rounders set and football and cones. Other items such as swing ball, skipping ropes and yoga mats are also available from a previous initiative.”
      • New pop-up library launched in Beck Row, Suffolk – East Anglian Daily Times. “Finance for this new project comes from Section 106 development planning money via Suffolk County Council.” … “”Suffolk Libraries Local pop-up library sessions have been a success elsewhere in the county and enable us to bring a slice of library life to local communities where there is not an existing library branch.”
      • What happens in the library? Please help us to pass the message on – Suffolk Libraries. “Creative workshops for young people, lively singing and storytimes for toddlers, social meet-ups for adults and even free exercise sessions – it’s all going on at Suffolk Libraries! This is the message behind our new campaign to let Suffolk residents know ‘what happens in the library’. We want to get the word out to even more people so they can benefit from our many free services and activities. “
  • West Dunbartonshire – Summer Reading Challenge 2023 [sic] – West Dunbarthonshire Council. Webpage about 2024 challenge has wrong date at top. Non-Reading Agency. ” The West Dunbartonshire Council primary school with the biggest improvement in completion rate from the previous year will receive a beautiful trophy, fabulous books, and a special prize for their school”. Those completing the local challenge will entered into mystery prize draw.
  • Westmorland and Furness – Council responds to library shutting for The Coro events – The Mail. “The Coro has been used as a temporary library space since the building on King’s Road was closed last year due to issues with the electrics during routine statutory checks. On Friday June 7, the library was closed between 11am and 2pm due to an event taking place in the building. The library closed for four days over the May bank holiday due to Printfest taking place in the The Coro.”
  • Wokingham – New library opens in former school building – BBC. “The former Old Polehampton Boys School, in Twyford, Berkshire, has been leased to the council by Polehampton Trust after sitting empty for many years. The library space has high ceilings, large windows, a specially-designed children’s area and an extension which offers an accessible entrance and additional space.”
  • Worcestershire – Worcestershire libraries announce new digital skills learning programme – Evesham Observer. “Worcestershire County Council’s Library Service is excited to announce the launch of the new Learn My Way digital skills learning programme, provided by Good Things Foundation. The programme offers a variety of self-led courses which can be accessed on a mobile, tablet or computer.”

Don’t mention it

Editorial

Hmmm. It’s been an odd election. Themes which are extremely important to us all such as Brexit and the Environment have had barely a mention. A party to the right of the Conservatives is having the strongest showing of any such party I can remember in a national election. And the main argument appears to be all about taxation rather than the importance of what the taxes are for.

The Conservatives commit to “continuing to support” libraries and, in the same Manifesto, promise to help volunteers who take them over, presumably if councils unaccountably find for some strange reason they don’t have enough funding for paid staffing any more.

The Labour Manifesto, wait for it, does not mention libraries at all. And nor do the Liberal Democrats or Reform. The Greens say that they will keep libraries “open and thriving”, showing one can always count on the Greens to support libraries – after all, re-use is fundamental to what we do. Groovy news, too, with the Psychedelic Movement party who offer to protect libraries if they get in. Thank goodness for that.

Congratulations to those on the Honours List connected to the public library world. Nick Poole, formally of CILIP, Andrea Ellison (Leeds) and Julie Duffy (Portsmouth). To all three of you I say, it’s OK if you’re ever feeling down to go to wherever you keep the medal and handle it a bit while staring at it fondly. Works better than a stress ball.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Politicians urged to save UK grassroots music venues and libraries, by urgently investing in the arts – Left Foot Forward. “Actor Christopher Eccleston was among the speakers. Addressing an audience at Stockport Central Library on June 13, Eccleston shared his passion for libraries and books and highlighted some of the challenges libraries face, including funding cuts. He noted how Britian needs to proper arts funding system in place like the French and he hoped that there will be more change of getting arts on the agenda with the new government. “As an actor, words are the tools of my trade. When I was growing up in Salford the local library provided a vibrant lifeline to the wider world. Libraries feed people’s interests and passions and provide access leading to connections being forged,” said Eccleston.”
  • Power readers – BookSeller. “Here’s a fun thing to do, download the political manifestos of the leading contenders in the general election, and search for some relevant words, “book”, for example, or “arts”, if you must, or “library”, if you truly want to despair, or “retail”, if you want to go granular. The Conservative manifesto contains three references to books (none relevant to us), one mention of arts (venues), one of libraries, and one tangential reference to retail; the Liberal Democrats have plenty on arts education in schools (good for them), but not a single reference to books, or libraries, or retail. The word “author” is absent from both of them.” [There is no mention of public libraries in the Labour Manifesto – Ed.]
  • Why you might struggle to find this year’s International Booker winner in UK libraries – and why publishing suffers as a result – Conversation. Cataloguing quirk means Kairos may not be as easily found as it should be.

International news

  • USA – Banishing Captain Underpants: An investigation of the 3,400 books pulled in Iowa – USA Today. Iowa. “districts removed nearly 3,400 books and two DVDs to comply with the law, including nearly 1,000 unique titles.” Books include ““To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, the Newbery Medal novel “The Giver” by Lois Lowry and “Captain Underpants and the Sensational Saga of Sir Stinks-A-Lot,” 1984 by George Orwell also removed by several library districts. see also The effects House Bill 710 will have on one room libraries in Idaho – KMVT. “House Bill 710 explicitly states that a book that an adult deems inappropriate, has to be relocated to the adults-only section in the library. For one-room libraries, this poses an issue, of whether they will completely take the book out of the library as a whole or change their policies.”

Local news by authority

More than one kind of censorship

Editorial

A fair bit about censorship in the UK this week, although from a different slant to what we are used to from the USA. Over here the articles are from several generally right-wing newspapers, and whatever GB News is, complaining about the ease with which children’s books can be banned. One ban is because of the use of the word “n*****” and the classic Fungus the Bogeyman ban is due to the use of the “g******g”. Both words, to be fair, especially the n* one, that few would push for protection of. The articles are warning that we have library censorship in the UK but it’s more covert than in the USA. And of course another crucial difference is that the censorship is from what is seen as from the left-wing rather than from the right. A similar line of argument is also in an article this week from an ex-school librarian who has resigned due to not wanting to put what she considers overly woke books on the shelves for children. On the other hand, there is the anonymous and unverified source from Hampshire Libraries which says that Pride displays are not being allowed to be publicised due to one complaint. Put together, these complaints suggest that British libraries may not be entirely up the intellectual freedom fight. And that the media will be unforgiving.

Which is unfortunate, because CILIP clearly thinks this is very important. The CILIP ten pledges to the public and the incoming government which “sets out how CILIP, and the profession we represent, will keep libraries and their place in society as a trusted and essential service at the top of the new Government’s agenda”. The relative importance of various items is curious. “Access to culture” is half of the very first pledge, jammed together with the completely different “to deliver trustworthy information”. You’ll be glad to know that reading does get a mention, but at only number four as “the right to read”, again jammed together with the not-the-same-thing “and intellectual freedom”. However, there’s no mention of the word “book” or indeed even “ebook”, presumably because these are seen as the tool and not the use. As a call to arms, as you can probably tell, I think this is somewhat lacking and suggests campaigning-by-committee. But if I see a party leader, or indeed any politician of any level, waving it around then I’ll be glad to be proved wrong.

Changes by local authority

National news

“Take a short break on Saturday afternoon, 15 June, to swap notes with other library supporters and chat to a best-selling author – in London, or online. It’s TLC’s mini-conference and AGM. It’s free, and open to non-members. The venue is Victoria library, 160 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 9TR. It’s close to Victoria Coach Station and a short walk from Victoria station and tube (or take a 170, 185, 211 or C10 bus). Or, of course, just put your feet up at home… Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served from 1.30pm. The meeting starts at 2pm. 

We’re delighted to have as our guest Louise Candlish, best-selling writer of psychological thrillers – now shortlisted for this year’s Dagger in the Library award from the Crime Writers’ Association (pic below.) We already know her as a supporter of libraries, who will have insightful answers to your questions. We’ll then move on to discussing your concerns, and what The Library Campaign is up to, with a short AGM, finishing at 3.30pm. (We have vacancies for trustees. If you want to know more, contact us at thelibrarycampaign@gmail.com). Please register here – if you plan to attend online you must do so to receive the link.”

Email from the Library Campaign
  • Are little libraries doomed to be filled with rubbish books? An argument with myself – The Spinoff. “Why does it feel so sacrilegious to throw away a book? And do the little free libraries that dot our suburbs primarily exist to assuage our guilt? ” … “Big public libraries are more pleasant to visit, have a bigger selection of books that people actually want to read, provide heaps of services to the community. And get this: they’re also free.”
  • Fungus the Bogeyman and a Jules Verne classic are among the books banned from libraries after a single complaint – LBC. “More than a dozen books have been removed after members of the public complained about their content or because librarians deemed the books offensive. They include Briggs’s Fungus the Bogeyman, McKee’s Three Monsters, Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon, Chris Claremont’s The Uncanny X-Men and Victor Appleton’s Tom Swift series. Louise Cooke, emeritus professor of information and knowledge management at Loughborough University, said the increasing tendency to remove anything that could offend someone is “massively” dangerous.” … “Jo Cornish, interim chief executive of CILIP, said: “Our general view as a profession is that it’s better for the reader to have access to material, not proscribed by law, than it be banned.” article also covered in multiple other titles – GB News; Daily Mail; Daily Express; Times.
  • How libraries changed from local sanctuaries to antisocial behaviour hotspots – Telegraph. “Colchester Library is just one of the latest reading idylls to be affected, with incidents including fires and physical assault” Good look at library, with lots of people saying how well they use it but main focus is on the bad behaviour of kids these days.
  • Incoming ministers ‘will face UK public services on brink of collapse’ – Guardian. “The IfG said it was not plausible for the victorious party on 4 July to stick to current spending plans at a time when the performance of hospitals was arguably the worst in the history of the NHS, prisons were at crisis point, and councils were shutting libraries and cutting back on waste collection and social care.”
  • Libraries Connected Awards 2024 winners revealed – Libraries Connected. “he winners were chosen by an expert panel including Lesley Parr, the award-winning author of children’s historical fiction. Parr was joined by judges from organisations including Arts Council England, The Reading Agency, the Queen’s Reading Room, the Guardian Foundation and digital book platform OverDrive, creator of the Libby reading app for libraries and Sora reading app for schools, which again generously sponsored the Awards. Celebrated crime writer Ann Cleeves – creator of the Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez and Matthew Venn series – was chosen as recipient of the inaugural Public Library Champion award.”
  • New Libraries Connected President Ed Jewell sets out his agenda – Libraries Connected. “Our communities need free, well-funded, properly staffed and dynamic public libraries if they in turn are to constructively engage with the challenges ahead; be that in dealing with immediate issues such as the cost-of-living crisis, mental health and educational attainment, or developing challenges, such as the advent of AI, climate change and the changing nature and make-up of those very communities. ” … “I want to ensure our funders and key stakeholders fully appreciate the potential that properly funded public library services can achieve. That libraries are natural partners within local authorities to work with, to deliver programmes that achieve broad educational, health and cultural ambition”
  • Trust Libraries: 10 Pledges for libraries to a new Government – CILIP. Pledges are (1) Information and Culture (2) inform better decisions in government (3) Warm and welcoming spaces (4) Reading and intellectual freedom (5) learning (6) imagination (7) green (8) business (9) research and innovation and (10) ethical.
  • We Make Music Instrument Libraries – North Edinburgh News. “Scotland’s flagship Tinderbox Orchestra announces Live in Libraries UK & Ireland Tour to spread a campaign that gets musical instruments into public libraries so people can borrow them for free, just like borrowing a book”
  • Why I quit as a school librarian Progressive activism is now considered the norm – UnHerd. “I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I decided to quit my post as an assistant librarian at a private school, but it was most probably when Andersen Press defended its decision to publish a book intended for under-sevens that contained illustrations of men in fetish gear.”

International news

Local news by authority

“All staff had to apply for their own or another job. They had to fill in a long, detailed application and then be interviewed … There are 40 (!) vacancies altogether on Dorset Council Jobs website for Libraries Customer Adviser posts, full time and part time.  The new hours are to start 1st July – but [they’re] obviously never going to get new people in post by then are they?  Getting rid of casual staff but trying to keep them on whilst short staffed – and then not use them again … So it looks like staff decided they didn’t want to jump through the hoops of applying.”

Email received anonymously from Dorset
  • Dudley – Dudley libraries to host authors at first writer’s festival – Halesowen News. “Running from June 8 to 22, the new book festival will feature crime and thriller authors Lindsey Davis, Priscilla Masters, Natalie Marlow, Caz Frear and Angela Marsons; family saga authors Annie Murray and Joanna Toye; romance writers Miranda Dickinson, Sally Jenkins and Suzan Holder and fiction writer Mike Gayle among others.”
  • East Riding – Get set to go Live ‘n Loud in local libraries – Bridlington Echo. “The festival runs from Monday 22 July until Saturday 31 August and includes a varied and exciting programme – featuring live music, forensics, activities, author visits and much more. “. Funded through Arts Council England.
  • Guernsey – Woman recognised for improving library accessibility – BBC. “Jackie Burgess, the community and wellbeing lead at Guille-Alles Library in Guernsey, was named first runner up in the Vision and Print Impaired People’s category at the Libraries Connected awards.” … “Mrs Burgess has been recognised for spearheading the library’s Stories on USB service, which provides blind and visually impaired islanders with free audiobooks”

Hampshire Libraries have instructed staff not to post any pride displays on social media, and a planned pride month promotion of books for teens has been removed from Borrowbox. Staff are disappointed, but cannot speak out publicly, both because they’ve been told the pre-election period applies. if you look at Hampshire Libraries Branches social media you can see the lack of posting, and look at Borrowbox to see there are no pride bookshelves”

Hampshire – anonymous email

Pre-election period

Editorial

Public libraries were clearly not a major focus for electioneering this week, without a single article spotted. CILIP is hoping that this will change and we can hope, although of course currently employed library staff would get into potential hot water if they were political in their jobs at this time. Certainly, wherever cuts are announced, such as in Nottingham, people mobilise but they do so in an ad hoc fashion and not in any meaningful national way. Speaking of that city, it’s sad to see that one of the proposals is to cut the opening hours of the new Nottingham Central Library, which has only been open for a few months. This is reminiscent of the cuts in hours to the mega-expensive Library of Birmingham a decade ago, under the same government. Other than that, it’s fairly quiet out there, as perhaps one would expect in a pre-election period where councils scramble to remove anything political from their schedule.

I would recommend. though, a couple of happier stories this week: first, watch the amazing pianist who walked in with this builder team into Edmonton Library in Canada. It’s good for the soul. Then have a read of the poor (fool-hardy?) reporter who got locked in a Scottish library at the start of the bank holiday and was only saved from an undignified escape through a window due to the timely arrival of a cleaner. Having people stuck in closed libraries is a recurrent nightmare of many staff who have a to look up the building at the end of the day so it’s interesting to read about it from the other side’s point of view.

Changes by local authority

National news

International news

  • Finland – Better late than never! Book borrowed in 1939 returned to Finnish library after 84 years – Yahoo. Finnish librarian says ““Our purpose is not to guard the books, we are here to promote reading and enable access to books and knowledge to everyone. The library is a very humane place, and people in Finland use the libraries a lot and understand how they work. Library books belong to all of us and late returns are not a big problem.””
  • Spain – Spanish design duo reveal secrets behind award-winning Barcelona library – Euro News. Gabriel Garcia Marquez Library. “From the outside it looks like a huge, white stack of books and that is precisely the idea at the self-styled ‘Cathedral of books.’ Inside, the red spruce finish throughout gives it a clean, airy, feel which helps make it seem like a pleasant place to enjoy books.” … “People spend a lot of time in the library. They don’t just come in and get a book. They feel more comfortable here than at home,” Elena said. “That is the real idea of the palace of the people,” Guillermo added.”

Local news by authority

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

Editorial

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

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

Changes by authority

National news

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

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

Welsh libraries are aiming to have real presence

Editorial

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

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

Changes by local authority

National news

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

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

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

Do you feel more Irish than Australian?

Editorial

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

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

Changes by local authority

National news

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

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

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

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

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

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

International news

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

Local news by authority

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