Ferguson Library in the USA recently stayed open during pretty bad times.  More than that, it became a classroom for children whose schools were closed and a place of safety and regeneration in a community desperately in need of healing.  It’s manager, Scott Bonner, is understated when asked what he achieved but was very clearly the right person at the right time.  Have a listen to the podcast interview here and the Guardian article here for the full-on wonderfulness of it all.  So I’m really delighted about the winner of the best named prize in the library world, the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity. Ferguson is an example of the importance of public libraries in communities, of their vital nature if the community itself has problems and of the danger in ignoring them to save a pound or two.




  • Great Expectations or Hard Times? The budget and what it means for the Library, Knowledge and Information Sector – CILIP. “The first remarkable thing about this budget is that public libraries, in England, were name checked by the Chancellor as they are to receive £7.4 million to provide internet access and Wi-Fi in every library” … “The years of austerity are to continue until 2017/18. In addition to the cuts in public expenditure that have already taken place since 2009 and are planned for 2015/16 a further £30 billion is to be saved in 2016/17 and 2017/18.” but local council devolution “could provide opportunities for innovation in library and information provision involving the higher education, public and NHS library and information services.” “On the whole, despite the talk by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of Britain “walking tall” again, this was a budget of “hard times”. “

“The picture is worse still in local government. Rob Whiteman, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy  (CIPFA) , notes that Government support for local councils has fallen by 50% since 2010, will fall by a further 23% in 2015/16  and then the further budget cutbacks will take effect in 2016/17 and 2017/18. It is not surprising that the Local Government Association in its response to the budget warns: “it has not protected funding or delivered the bold approach to English devolution which will be essential to the survival of our libraries, children’s centres, parks and local buses in the next few years”. “

  • Improbable libraries – BBC Radio 4 Today (last slot before 9am, c. 2:51:00.  Interviewing  Alex Johnson, author of forthcoming book Improbable Libraries, on unusual libraries including those carried by animals and Little Free Libraries.  Also includes the Itinerant Poetry Library.
  • Majority of council tax will soon be spent on social care – LGA. “More than half of what people pay in council tax will soon be spent on caring for vulnerable children and adults, creating a huge squeeze on councils’ ability to fix roads, clean streets and keep libraries open … For every £1 of council tax collected by councils in 2019/20, 60p will be spent on caring for the elderly, vulnerable adults, and vulnerable children. This is up from 41p in 2010/11. By contrast, 1p in every £1 will be spent on street cleaning and flood defences, 5p in every £1 will be spent on road maintenance and street lighting and just under 5p in every £1 will be left to fund all libraries, leisure centres, parks, museums and arts.”
  • Public side of public libraries – BookSeller / Desmond Clarke. “The reasons that the public are voting with their feet are undoubtedly complex and will probably include tired book stocks, reduced opening hours, a poor digital offering and increasingly, library closures and transfers to volunteer management. With this disturbing level of decline, one would expect the libraries minister, Arts Council England and especially the professional bodies to be asking some very hard questions. One would also expect the recently established “Leadership for Libraries” task force to ensure that they understand what is happening and why. But, sadly, no – the reality of what is happening does not appear to be on the agenda, though some senior librarians privately admit that they are very worried.” … “Mr Blantern seems concerned to align public libraries with Government and local government agendas and to promote the wide variety of roles that libraries play in their communities. That may be important but must be secondary to first aligning libraries to the needs of the millions of people who rely upon and need public libraries. “
  • World Book Night announces flagship event in London with stellar cast … – Reading Agency. “A stellar cast of much-loved authors including Lynda La Plante, David Almond, Elif Shafak, Sarah Winman, Elizabeth Fremantle and Annabel Pitcher have so far been confirmed to headline the World Book Night flagship event in London on 23 April 2015. ” … events with authors occurring throughout the country. “For its fifth year, World Book Night 2015 will once again be celebrated on 23 April, UNESCO International Day of the Book and the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare.  12,500 copies of 20 specially printed World Book Night titles, totalling 250,000 books, will be given by a network of volunteer reading enthusiasts and institutions focusing on reaching the 35% of the population who don’t read for pleasure. 10,000 volunteers will give out the books in their communities, 2,300 individuals will each give a box of 18 copies of one of the titles and 2,700 institutions including prisons, libraries, colleges, schools and homeless shelters will each be giving multiple sets of books.”


  • Different libraries around the world: public library – International Librarians Network (USA). Brief summary of public libraries with invitation to comment.
  • iBeacons and the Library – David Lee King (USA). “Bluubeam sends out location-based messaging. For example, if you walk into the teens area of the library (and have the Bluubeam app on your mobile device), you might get a message about what’s happening in the teen section that day, or get a message about an upcoming teen event. So think location-based promotion of events and your stuff. Capira Technologies does location-based messaging. They’re also working on more personalized info. For example, here’s what they say about circulation notices …”


  • PL2020 Tour – Romania – Library or living room? – “Anca Vasilescu, Librarian at the Astra Sibiu County Library, explains the idea behind “the concept library”: transforming dusty places into modern knowledge hubs where everyone from the community feels welcome to learn and share. “People help create a communal living room”, she says. Sebastian Dotcos, Mayor of Marpod, is very happy with the role his local library has in the community and explains it is the place where all local groups and associations have their meetings.”
  • Scott Bonner awarded the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity – ALA (USA). “When the governor submitted an economic injury disaster declaration in the area, Bonner brought the Small Business Administration into the library to make low-interest loans and aid available to local Ferguson businesses. And when the library began receiving too many patrons and running too many programs to house, Bonner secured space at the church next door and kept on going. While buildings were being burnt down, he was building the community of Ferguson. The Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity was established in 2014 by the American Library Association in partnership with Daniel Handler. The prize, which is co-administered by ALA’s Governance Office and the Office for Intellectual Freedom, annually recognizes and honors a librarian who has faced adversity with integrity and dignity intact.  The prize is $10,000, a certificate and an odd, symbolic object.  Bonner will be joining last year’s prize winner, Laurence Copel, who was honored for her work in the Lower Ninth Ward Street Library of New Orleans.”

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Children’s centres, library service and sheltered housing to be hit by more Bolton Council cuts – Bolton News. “Libraries in Bolton could be run by a not-for-profit trust — while children’s centres and housing for the elderly also face massive cuts as Bolton Council looks to save £43 million. ” … “No libraries will be closed, but up to 10 jobs will be lost as the library and museum service is asked to cut between £300,000 and £500,000 from its budget — with bosses examining the possibility of turning the library into a not-for-profit trust.”
  • Bristol – Take on young as trainees in libraries – Bristol Post / Letters. ” instead of having all these comfortably-off old people running our libraries for nothing, how about taking on some young people as trainees to work in the libraries?” … ” find it very distasteful that the mayor is expecting volunteers to run libraries – he is contributing to the unemployment situation and lack of opportunities for young people. Young or even middle-aged people can’t afford to work for nothing.”
  • Camden – Camden Future Libraries: What role is there for public libraries in the 21st century? – Camden Council / Eventbrite. “Camden Council will be hosting a lively question time style debate on the role of public libraries in the 21st century at the British Library Conference Centre … Dr Kristen Jensen Head of Collections and Curation, British Library, Brian Ashley, Director of Libraries, Art Council England, Tony Durcan OBE, Assistant Director Digital Newcastle, Newcastle City Council, Annemarie Naylor MBE, Director, Common Futures. The panel will discuss the changing role of libraries, whether libraries need to be all things to all people, what should the priorities for a modern library be and, ultimately, if there a role for public libraries in the 21st century?
  • Kent – Hope for libraries in Kent – Clikent. Looks at actions those against Kent libraries moving into running by a Trust can do.
  • Kent – Residents in Sandwich told a charitable trust would enable libraries to be “bespoke” – Kent Online. “Residents in Sandwich have been told a charitable trust would enable libraries to get rid of “one size fits all” policies. This was the message at the public meeting at the Guildhall on Wednesday, from James Pearson, project manager at Kent Libraries. He said he understands services need to be “bespoke” after concerns were raised about the future of libraries under a charitable trust and its opening hours.”
  • Lincolnshire – Internal Audit of the Libraries Project to be discussed by county council – Lincolnshire Echo. “The audit was commissioned following the outcome of the judicial review around the lawfulness of the council’s decision making process to reduce the Library Services within Lincolnshire. It suggests that decision-makers should be presented with alternatives to any preferred model or intuitive solution and any constraints on the timing of public consultations should trigger a risk assessment and appropriate actions to mitigate the potential impact.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire County Council apologises to Pauline Palmer: “we have learned our lessons” – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. Letter reproduced sent to creator of alternative proposal for library service.
  • Manchester – Hark! Rare Shakespearean music to go on display in Manchester this Friday – one of only two copies in world – Manchester Evening News. “The score for ‘Hark, Hark The Lark’ was chosen by Shakespeare to be used in his production of the play ‘Cymbeline’ in the early seventeenth century. Then for over 300 years the music was believed lost – until a copy was discovered in the Henry Watson Music Library in Manchester back in 1936. A music historian using the music library at the time spotted the documents and was the first to make the connection to Shakespeare. The manuscript is now known to be just one of two remaining in the world – the other being kept at the British Museum in London. It has now gone on display at Central Library in Manchester city centre to coincide with Shakespeare Week, held every year to mark the playwright’s work.”
  • “The Library is possibly the most iconic building in Manchester … world class cities need and deserve world class libraries”: Neil MacInnes on Manchester Central Library
  • Manchester – Manchester Central Library throws party to mark a year since £48m revamp – Manchester Evening News. “Bookworms donned their finest party hats to celebrate a year since the grand re-opening of Manchester Central Library. The doors were thrown open for a special “Sunday Funday” of creative activities, live music and tours of the historic building. Staff bought the past to life with characters from the Shakespearean times and World War I while tiny readers enjoyed interactive features in the children’s library.” Some lovely images from the day include a performance poet, a theatrical company, hat-making, Victorian classroom and World War One.
  • Southampton – Council decision to spend £99,000 on heating system at Cobbett Road Library branded ‘shambolic’ – Daily Echo. Library is included on list for closure and the current heating system is still working. “Conservative opponents labelled the situation where Cobbett Road Library, in Bitterne, is getting the new system despite its future hanging in the balance as “shambolic”. “

“Following the close of public consultation, the future of Trafford Libraries will be on the agenda of a Special Executive Meeting on 25 March when the Council will receive a report entitled “Outcome of the Libraries budget consultation for 2015-16 and recommendations”.  The recommendation of special interest to us is that that the Council should “proceed to invite formal tenders in relation to the provision of a library in Hale (together with redevelopment of the former library site) from the bidders who have previously expressed an interest.” The report reveals that none of the Council’s options were warmly received by people in Hale and the surrounding area: the option with most support (39%) was Option 2, development of residential accommodation on the current site and the development of a smaller library elsewhere in Hale. At the deadline, the Council logged 2445 signatures on online and print petitions protesting about the proposals for Hale Library. This show of support must have gone a long way to deter the Council from adopting Option 3, which would have resulted in closing the Library in two years’ time. Our thanks go to everyone who worked hard to collect signatures on petitions and encourage people to respond to the consultation.” Trafford – Friends of Hale Library News

  • Wakefield – Wakefield’s dementia-friendly library – Designing Libraries. “This very special project was designed in partnership with The Alzheimer’s Society. In practical terms it means that the library includes a number of features that will help people who are living with dementia. A colour scheme which is deep red making it warm, friendly and calming; furniture such as chairs and sofas which have a plain design and are easy to get in and out of; a reduction of reflective surfaces; grey skirting boards and door frames making it easier for people to recognise them against the magnolia coloured walls; as well as signage and guiding to help people recognise symbols and words.”

School Libraries

  • School cuts have decimated librarians – Philly.com (USA). “The children who attend Spring Garden Elementary often come home to no books, let alone e-readers or Internet access. Some live in a nearby homeless shelter. So when Laureal Robinson became Spring Garden’s principal five years ago, she had a goal in mind: to reopen the school library with a certified librarian.” … “”Schools are about building thinkers,” Kearney said, “and the library is the thinking place.”

“Having a librarian,” the principal said, “just helps to support what’s going on in the classroom, with teachers. I just felt like it was a necessity. It would be remiss not to have a library.”