After the pro-public library Julia Donaldson, it is great to see that the next Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman has made clear that she will be of similar vein.  In all of the articles seen (the BookSeller, Telegraph and BBC News), it is mentioned she is “likely to be a vocal children’s laureate, campaigning for libraries …” and that she will be “banging the drum” for them.  When she goes into more detail, moreover, it’s clear that she has done some research on the subject (she even knows about the 180 libraries built in South Korea two years ago) and has, one suspects, been talking to Michael Rosen about his great ideas for libraries, including giving every child a library card.  Wonderful stuff.

Malorie Blackman becomes new Children’s Laureate

  • Blackman named Children’s Laureate – BookSeller. “Malorie Blackman has been appointed the Waterstones Children’s Laureate for 2013-2015, and has vowed to get children reading more as well as to continue the support for libraries shown by her predecessor Julia Donaldson.”

“And as I would never have become an author if it hadn’t been for my local library as a child, I intend to continue Julia Donaldson’s amazing, indefatigable work advocating for our nation’s public library service.” Malorie Blackman

  • Malorie Blackman is a great choice to inspire children – Telegraph. “Donaldson’s vocal support for libraries will continue with this successor. As Blackman says: “I will be banging the drum passionately for libraries. Reading is the key to social mobility. I would not be getting this award if it were not for public libraries. I went there every Saturday because we could not afford books. Libraries inspired and taught me to aspire, showed me that the only limits were the ones I set for myself. I learned more about life skills from from fiction than from anything else. There are politicians in South Korea who say that the UK is something of a role model but last year South Korea opened or built 180 libraries and we are closing them. That doesn’t make sense.” [NB. the 180 libraries were built in 2011 – see this article, Ed.] “The power of libraries is still key in the Blackman family. Her mother, now in her 80s, is taking classes in how to use a laptop at her local library.”
  • Malorie Blackman Q&A: Meet the new Children’s Laureate – BBC. “What I would like to do is make sure every primary school child has a library card so, where parents don’t get their children library cards, we’ll see if we can get schools to step in and make sure that every child has one. … We had a few non-fiction books at home, but my dad was of the opinion that fiction was a complete and utter waste of time because it wasn’t real – so what was the point of reading it? And so as a consequence, I lived down at my local library. I think he was absolutely wrong because I learnt more about people and relating and communicating with other people through fiction books than I ever did though non-fiction.”


  • Alison Russell, Librarian, Halton Lea Library – Voices for the Library. “I am immensely proud of being a librarian – when I meet new people I often find myself willing them to ask me what I do just so I can tell them that I’m a librarian!  I think public libraries are incredibly important to our local communities – they are places to learn, relax and be entertained.”

“up and down the country, from libraries in London to nurseries in Hull, 38 Degrees members have been campaigning to protect local services – and winning. This is our chance. Most councils have never seen anything like our people-powered campaigns. If we can build hundreds of campaigns against cuts to individual local services, we can grow a movement across the country – and convince even more councils to stand up and protect our public services.  Can you start a campaign against cuts to a service in your area now? It takes 2 minutes and the office team will be there to help you every step of the way: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/protect-local-services.

Just a few days ago, 38 Degrees member John Perkins took his 9,000 strong petition to Herefordshire council and convinced them to scrap plans to close all but one of the county’s libraries. [Correction: 38 Degrees have been in touch to say that they were incorrect when they said that after this line in the original email that “The campaign made such an impact that the council eventually decided to hold a referendum on their entire cuts budget.” and have asked me to point this out – Ed.] John ran his campaign using a new part of the 38 Degrees site called ‘Campaigns by You’, where anyone can start and run their own campaigns. Loads of 38 Degrees members are already using it to run brilliant campaigns in their local area.” Extract from national 38 Degrees email to its members

  • Our manifesto – Voices for the Library. Ten points that were “produced in consultation with thousands of library supporters from across the country, the following outlines what we believe the public library service should provide”  Link given to tweet support for manifesto.
  • Self-help books: now available on prescription – Channel Four. “today self-help will be given its greatest validation yet. Under a new scheme to be launched by the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, GPs will publicise the titles of 30 specially selected self-help books, which will be made available in participating libraries across England from 10 June.”

“The main challenge, rather like self-help books themselves, is whether this initiative has long-term sustainability or is simply a fad designed to relieve burdens on GPs while shoring up support for local libraries. That will inevitably become clearer in the months ahead.”


New ideas noted

Local news

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  • Cheshire West and Chester – World Book Night books (and library membership information) given out on a train (via email).  See also Passengers celebrate World Book Night with free read – Knutsford Guardian. “John Oates, chairman of Mid Cheshire Community Rail Partnership said: “We have never had a Mid Cheshire Book Train before, so it was great that those travelling on the Mid Cheshire Line got the opportunity to celebrate World Book Night. “We were very pleased when the librarian at Sandiway Library approached us and suggested the event.”
  • Glasgow – £2m safety upgrade will protect Mitchell treasures -Evening Times. “Work will begin within weeks on replacing the 30-year-old fire detection system, improving the lighting and installing new lifts. Parts of the library will be closed on a phased basis to ensure the majority of the building remains open to the public. The building recently underwent a major internal refurbishment, resulting in a new cafe bar and a large area offering free internet and wi-fi access.”
  • Herefordshire – Library service in Herefordshire – 38 Degrees / Campaigns By You. “I have called a public meeting to discuss the future of Herefordshire’s Library Service next Thursday at the Starlite Rooms, Hereford United at 6 pm next Thursday, June 6th. This meeting follows a successful recent meeting on the same subject in Ross-on-Wye. Its purpose is to allow the Council and the Library Service to put all the relevant facts on the table, and to have a full and open debate about the issues, and about future options. Members of the Council and of the Library Service will be present to answer questions. I am also inviting Hereford county and city councillors. Jesse Norman MP” Via email.  Petition is at 9,255 at time of writing.
  • Isle of Wight – What’s new at Ventnor Library – On the Wight.  List of what activities are on offer (notably jobsearching drop in sessions, children’s chess and a knitting club) plus list of all new additions.
  • North Yorkshire – Kildwick pupil Adriana designs new chapter for library cards – Keighley News. “Ten-year-old Adriana Strazieri was among the winners in the North Yorkshire County Council contest. Her design – a turtle – is among 12 chosen from hundreds of entries to feature on a new set of cards. A spokesman said: “The cards are being offered to new members joining North Yorkshire libraries this spring, while existing members can replace their old card for a small charge.”
  • Perthshire – Innerpeffray Library gifted £650k of rare books – Scotsman.  Scotland’s oldest independent library received gift. “The Library of Innerpeffray was founded in 1680 “for the benefit of all” by David Drummond, the third Lord Madertie .The library was originally located in the loft of St Mary’s Chapel, and moved into a purpose-built library house in 1762”
  • Staffordshire – Report says future of public libraries is bright – Burton Mail.  Boss of Staffs libraries, who is also boss of SCL, praises Arts Council report [otherwise viewed differently, see this article – Ed.]
  • York – Libraries Scrutiny Review Final Report Cover Report – York Council.  Council agrees recommendations to “support libraries as community hubs”.