• Osborne faces £20bn black hole in UK public finances, says report – Guardian. “Austerity may last until 2020 and chancellor may have to make further cuts  to welfare, local government and police, claims FT”  … “In a blow to the chancellor, who hopes to run a budget surplus in the next parliament, the research suggests austerity may have to last a year longer than expected because the government will not be able to rely on economic recovery to eliminate part of the deficit.” … ” The chancellor, who will deliver the penultimate budget before the general election on 19 March, has said he will rely on spending cuts  rather than tax increases  to eliminate the remainder of the budget deficit”
  • Reading Activists of the month – Reading Agency. “The thing that I enjoy the most about being a Reading Activist is that I can spend time with my friends to help other teenagers to come more often to the library and encourage them to read more and show them that a library is not a boring place like everyone thinks it is. Plus, while I was here, I have met some wonderful people that have been so friendly with us and helped us in any way possible to show us that the library can be kind of your second home.”

“Being a reading activist has sure changed me, I never really got along with libraries, but now that I’m a Reading Activist I see what the library has to offer to people like us”

  • United in their love of literature – Yorkshire Post. “For the next few weeks the annual campaign run by Read Regional in partnership with New Writing North is bringing together northern authors and readers with the help of libraries across Yorkshire and the North East. Launched in 2008, Read Regional was originally set up as a project to connect writers within the regions with local readers. Beginning in the North East, it went on to embrace Yorkshire in 2012 and works with libraries to organise a variety of author events and workshops. Books and authors are selected through an open submission process.”


  • Books on Wheels: A Global Jaunt – Seattle PI (USA). Some of the stranger mobile libraries in the world – Italy, Argentina (in the shape of a tank – A “Weapon of Mass Instruction”), and India’s first mobile.
  • Breaking Out of the Library Mold, in Boston and Beyond – New York Times (USA). ” An old joke about libraries goes like this: A boy walks into a library and asks for a burger and fries. “Young man!” the startled librarian reprimands. “You are in a library.” So the boy repeats his order, only this time, he whispers. So much has changed in libraries in recent years that such a scene may not be so far-fetched. Many libraries have become bustling community centers where talking out loud and even eating are perfectly acceptable.” … “That will be evident at the Boston library’s new section for teenagers. Teen Central is to become what is known as “homago” space — where teenagers can “hang out, mess around and geek out.” It will include lounges, restaurant booths, game rooms and digital labs, as well as software and equipment to record music and create comic books. The vibe will be that of an industrial loft, with exposed pipes and polished concrete floors, what Ms. Ryan called “eco-urban chic.””
  • Check It Out With Michael Kelley: The Digital Public Library of America – Publishers Weekly (USA). “When it was first proposed, the Digital Public Library of America—a visionary project that aims to make discoverable and accessible online the gems of local library collections nationwide—drew many questions. The most glaring question, perhaps, was, would it succeed? Approaching the first anniversary of its April 2013 launch, the project is showing every sign that it will succeed—which is exciting news for the library community, as well as for the growing number of users who can now access once-hard-to-find collections with a click or a swipe.”

“By every measure, the DPLA is surging. Since its launch, the number of items in the collection has jumped nearly threefold, to six million, and the number of contributing institutions has more than doubled, to around 1,200, up from 500 a year ago. On the user side, the DPLA’s engagement metrics have been “terrific,” DPLA executive director Dan Cohen says. The website has garnered nearly one million unique visitors, 10% of whom are viewing 20 pages or more at a time—a sign of extensive browsing and research.”

  • Data show increase in library use – Taipei Times (Taiwan). “The National Central Library yesterday released its report for last year, which suggested that a 4 percent increase in borrowers and 0.8 percent increase of books borrowed compared with numbers from 2012 pointed to a positive growth in the nation’s population of habitual readers.”
  • Foundation builds public libraries in poor communities nationwide – CPCP News (Philippines). “The Education Foundation, Inc. (EFI), a group of laypeople whose apostolate centers on edifying Catholics through education, is putting up public libraries known us “Bahay Karunungan” (House of Knowledge) in depressed communities in Metro Manila and the provinces to motivate and support learning among the less fortunate through reading, EFI President Naomi A. David said in a recent interview.”
  • Freedom to Read and Reconsider at the Toronto Public Library – Torontoist (Canada). “Although the Toronto Public Library possesses a number of controversial holdings, few people are outraged enough to demand that items be withdrawn from its collection: it’s reassuring to consider, especially during this Freedom to Read Week, that on the whole, Torontonians support the public’s right to access materials considered offensive, and to do so via a local TPL branch. The TPL outlines its position on contentious items and the importance of free debate in its Materials Selection Policy” … service proud that so few titles are challenged and almost none withdrawn.
  • In praise of those life-saving libraries: Opinion – (USA). “A community that gives up on its libraries has given up on its prosperity. It has written off all but its wealthiest citizens and made knowledge acquisition — one of the bedrocks of a free society — seem a pointless exercise. Rather than fiscal prudence, cutting or eliminating libraries shows economic and cultural shortsightedness along with an abandonment of values and the concept of the public good: something for which elected officials are supposed to fight. Public libraries are one of the most cost-effective means of producing intelligent, literate and successful citizens. They also help reduce crime, gang activity and drug use by the young. I know this from personal experience.”
  • Is There a Third Way for Library Valuation? – Genuine Genie Library Blog (USA). “In a time of increased scrutiny over public dollar expenditures, libraries are under pressure to demonstrate their value.  It occurs to me that assessing the value of public libraries may benefit from a Third Way, or a middle ground of sorts, that lies somewhere between the unabashed application of market logic and the complete spurning of it. Daniel Bailey’s recent ode to the importance of the public library argues that our beloved institution is a public good and therefore above and beyond market logic. He laments the stranglehold that the market-based ideological framework has over library funding, concerned that “TINA (There Is No Alternative) style discourses have come to circumvent any deeper questioning of public library sustainability” (Bailey, 2014).  To be clear, I’m with Bailey: I see the library as an essential public good and am distraught about the ongoing widespread library budget reductions and closures. But I wonder: is there a Third Way of assigning value to the public library?”
  • Kicked Out of the Library – Pam Librarian (USA). Rules-bound jobsworth unfriendly librarians at public library put off visiting school librarians who go to local café instead.
  • Labour proposes digital bill of rights – Voxy (New Zealand). “”Accessing the internet is now an essential part of modern life. Labour will explore means of increasing public internet access -such as through libraries and Wi-Fi hotspots – to ensure all Kiwis can go online when they need to.”
  • Kochi libraries dissatisfied over arrangement for supply of books – Hindu (India). “The Kochi Corporation’s decision to entrust the Kerala Book Marketing Society (KBMS) with the distribution of books to recognised libraries within its limits for the second consecutive year has infuriated majority of libraries that were dissatisfied with the arrangement in the previous year.” … “found majority of the titles made available at a book fest organised for the libraries were useless or unwanted”
  • S.F. library proposes new code of conduct with penalties – SF Gate (USA). Library to impose year long bans in an effort to cease problem behaviour from (normally) the homeless. “The Civic Center building has long been a bastion for transients, some of whom have forgone good old-fashioned reading for bathing in the bathroom sinks, dealing drugs and exposing themselves. Recent notable incidents include a man urinating on books and another breaking a computer with a hammer.”
  • Tale of two libraries – Herald Palladium (USA). Cuts mean that those from outside of the area wishing to join are charged $75. “Libraries add value to communities, but they cost money”.
  • University of the public library – NV Binder (USA). “feel like one of the most important and exciting changes in library usage hasn’t been formally studied, publicized or accounted for. In the last few years, several students in my community have earned their university or graduate degrees entirely at the public library. These dedicated, ambitious students are mostly young working mothers, currently employed in low-wage jobs, who are seeking a better life. Many of them are studying for careers in healthcare, retraining themselves for a 21st century economy. The library doesn’t issue their degrees, but they wouldn’t be able to graduate without the library. Here, they find the physical space to study, a place for their kids to read and do homework, and college-level advice, support and guidance from librarians.”

“Simply by being there for students, public libraries are serving as a launching point into the middle and professional classes.”

  • Who Needs Books? A Q&A with the ‘Bookless Library’ Head Librarian – Library Journal (USA). “Late last year, the Bexar County Library, which serves the area around San Antonio, TX, set up BiblioTech, the first all-digital library in the United States. Without any physical books at all, the branch raised a few eyebrows, but head librarian Ashley Eklof tells Library Journal that after a few months, the ebook-and technology-centric project has been so successful it already has its own spinoff at the county courthouse.”

UK local news by authority

  • Bury – Essential works due to start at Prestwich Library – Bury Council. “The works include replacing the damaged and uneven flooring on the ground floor, essential electrical works in order to accommodate the new public self-service (RFID) equipment, as well as the relocation of the public access computers from the first floor to the ground floor. “
  • Cornwall – Hands off St Just Library – 38 Degrees. Over 1000 have signed petition to ask council to “Reverse your decision to cut the hours that St Just library will be open. The library is an important resource for our rural community.” … “The buses from St Just to Penzance have recently been cut and the prices raised. St Just is a growing community with a new housing estate just built which will house many people who will benefit from a local library. Tourist use the library in summer for computer access and the valuable local knowledge of our librarians. Your cuts will mean the library is only open for one full day and two half days. This is planned to happen in June – just in time for the height of the tourist season”
  • Hertfordshire – Comment: Prying shame of library survey – Watford Observer. “Can somebody please explain to me why a tweedy, bespectacled librarian needs to know my 13-year-old daughter’s sexuality before she orders a book for her? I don’t know how much money was spent on a recent Hertfordshire Library Service survey into borrowers’ “needs”, but however much it was, it was too much.”
  • Islington – Arsenal defender backing campaign to get more young people reading – Islington Gazette. “Arsenal star Per Mertesacker backed a campaign to get children reading for World Book Day on Thursday. The defender was supporting a series of events across the borough’s libraries to celebrate the love of reading.”
  • Kirklees – Kids encouraged to get reading – Mirfield Reporter. “World Book Day took place on Thursday, and to celebrate, Kirklees Council’s cabinet member for libraries and information, Coun Shabir Pandor, gave Bookstart packs to parents and toddlers from Children Place Nursery at the Greenwood Centre.”
  • Leicestershire – Future of village libraries in the public spotlight – Hinckley Times. “The future of smaller libraries across Hinckley and Bosworth will be up for discussion after Leicestershire County Council agreed to axe £800,000 from the service’s budget. Local people will be able to have their say and parish, town and district councils will all be involved in a 12 week consultation exercise starting in April.”
  • Lincolnshire – Letter: Lincolnshire County Councillors should give up their expenses – Horncastle News. “When we have roads that are falling apart, road signage uncleaned, libraries closing, thousands of staff losing their jobs, together with curtailed ambulance, fire and police services, plus many other reductions to essential infrastructure because of “cutbacks”  – it is rather obscene that such decisions are even made or given any credible attention.”
  • Lincolnshire – Letter: ‘Out of touch’ over libraries plan Rutland and Stamford Mercury. “The arrogance of Martin Hill (Con) Leader of Lincolnshire County Council knows no bounds, and his recent comments show that he is totally out of touch with the people of Lincolnshire.  He has been quoted as saying: “There’s been judicial reviews of every single council that tried to review its libraries service, and that’s not surprising.” The truth however is totally different, and there has been just seven applications for judicial reviews so far, but there are 151 library authorities in England alone. That’s hardly all of them. Councillor Hill then goes on to say: “If people feel its necessary to have a judicial review they should pay for it themselves.” With the review costing up to £25k, Councillor Hill is effectively saying only rich people should be able to challenge the legality of local council decisions.”
  • Liverpool – City Council approves £156m budget cuts – BBC. “Half of the city’s 19 libraries are expected to close, along with the majority
    of the children’s centres” … “The authority said it hoped community groups and volunteers would help run some
    of the affected services.”
  • Sheffield – Letter: Committee doesn’t have qualified librarian – Star. “Part of the Labour council’s strategy to secure the closure of half of our libraries, has been to convince us that the cuts have to take place. In fact, they argue that the decision was already taken last year. That isn’t true. Yesterday, the full council were voting to reduce the Libraries budget by £900,000 by getting rid of 71 full-time posts. Forget the so-called “libraries review”. These cuts weren’t mentioned anywhere in the proposals supported by cabinet last month.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Local libraries and UWE Bristol team up to offer wider access – Gazette. “South Gloucestershire libraries and the University of the West of England Bristol have teamed up to make it even easier for the public and students to access library services.   Under a new partnership, library users aged 16 and over can use their library Active Card at four of UWE Bristol’s campus libraries at Bower Ashton, Frenchay, Glenside and St Matthias during staffed hours, to access higher education resources.   They will be able to borrow up to five items and will also have access to specialist print journals and support from university library staff. The project is currently targeting sixth form students who need to access high level learning resources for their studies.” … “In return all UWE Bristol students and staff can use their university ID card to access the wider community resources available from their local public library.”
  • Wolverhampton – Self-service facilities to be installed at Wolverhampton libraries: poll – Express and Star. “The automated machines, which enable customers to take out and return books on their own, are set to be operational in all 16 libraries in Wolverhampton by the end of the year, leisure bosses have confirmed.” [After 217 votes, poll is 100 in favour of self-service and 117 against – Ed.] … “The number of full-time staff working in the city’s libraries has already fallen from 117 to just 17 in the last six years, a reduction of 85 per cent, and council bosses said the latest moves would lead to more job losses.” … “Last year council bosses announced they were trying to recruit an army of volunteers to help keep libraries open for longer, but the drive has failed to prevent big cuts to opening hours. The cuts, which are set to start next month, will see Whitmore Reans Library go from opening six days a week to just 15 hours a week.”