So today we have the news that Shropshire appears to be going the way of Leicestershire, Staffordshire and so many others and forcing most of its libraries to be run by “community groups”.  On the same day, we have Arts Council England bring out a definitive report showing that both users and non-users of libraries would be willing to pay more on their council tax in order to maintain their services.  Indeed, they’d be willing to pay almost twice as much, and the same report shows that health and wellbeing benefits of libraries alone repay most of the costs. Well done to ACE for conducting the research which will hopefully help reduce the number of such bad news stories from library authorities in the future.




  • Ed Vaizey webchat – as it happened – Guardian.  No mention of libraries.
  • The Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Public Libraries – Arts Council England. “Public libraries make a positive contribution to people’s health and wellbeing and can save the NHS money, according to research published by Arts Council England. The new research, commissioned by the Arts Council and carried out by SImetrica, has quantified the economic value of benefits to health and wellbeing contributed by public libraries. It shows that people value public libraries in part because of the benefits to their quality of life and that the improvements to health can save the NHS around £27.5million a year.”

“Library users have a willingness to pay an average of £19.51 more in council tax a year to maintain library services, and non-users were willing to pay £10.31. This increases among those who use libraries for ‘health services’ (£39.03), ‘lectures and other events’ (£29.08), or as a ‘space for socialising’ (£26.44), showing that users value the impact libraries have on their health and quality of life. Aggregated across the country, the willingness to pay among users and non-users is £723.4 million per year to support libraries.” ACE report

The new research quantifies the economic value of the benefits to health and wellbeing contributed by public libraries. It shows that the benefits people gain from public libraries could be valued nationally at around £748.1million per annum. This includes benefits to their quality of life and improvements to health which can save the NHS around £27.5million a year.” ACE press release

  • Hearts and Minds – Arts Council England / Desmond Clarke. “we started by commissioning an evidence review which was published last June. As well as exploring what existing research has told us, it showed the links in the chain of evidence between what libraries do and the big objectives governments try to achieve: children and young people learning and getting qualified, more people in work, business success, healthier people and creative communities. Taken together, this provided a powerful body of evidence. But we still felt that there was a gap in capturing value in a way that could be used practically to help leaders make the best decisions. So we commissioned a further piece of research that looked at how libraries help health and wellbeing”
  • A master’s in librarianship could enhance your shelf life – Guardian / Students. “Biddy Casselden, who completed her own master’s in librarianship and information management at Northumbria University, and has since both taught on and led the programme, says it is important for career progression. “Most of my students are working, usually in a library environment, but are stuck at a certain level because they don’t have a professional qualification,” she says. “This is their route for career advancement.” “
  • Politicians vie for author votes at lively hustings – BookSeller. “The lively debate, which ended with Vaizey and Bryant arguing on stage over issues including funding for libraries, was moderated by SoA chairman Daniel Hahn. Vaizey said the Arts Council was working for libraries, and pointed to a recent announcement of funding for free wifi in libraries in England, but said that central government did not fund library provision, and that any cuts were by local authorities which “like to blame the government”. But Bryant pointed out that 80% of local authority money came from government, prompting an argument with Vaizey who disagreed that central government had anything to do with local library funding.” Greens will “commit” to libraries.

“Bryant said he thought it was wrong that a council chief executive was chairing the Leadership for Libraries task force, and that he would put ministers in charge of it. He also said library provision was legislated, and that he would prefer to see the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, which legislates that local authorities should provide a comprehensive library service, used properly rather than create a new law. “I want to see what a comprehensive library service looks like,” he said. “And I would like to see more cooperation across the nation between library authorities.”

  • Saving libraries: it’s a page-turner – Socialist. Coventry and Bristol featured. “Harrow Council voted on Thursday, March 19 to close four libraries across the borough, including Bob Lawrence, Hatch End, Rayners Lane and North Harrow libraries, as part of £500,000 of cuts to library services. However the council has also said it is willing consider proposals for a community-run libraries, and the North Harrow Community Partnership is hoping to achieve this. ” … “campaigners now hope to develop a comprehensive business plan with the help of volunteers, and welcome any suggestions to help guarantee the future of the library. “
  • TeenTech launch 11-16 Research and Information Literacy Award – CILIP (press release). “The CILIP Information Literacy Group(ILG), in partnership with the TeenTech initiative, is delighted to announce a new award for 11-16 year olds which will recognise excellence in research and information literacy. The Research and Information Literacy Award will celebrate how well young people can dispel the ‘Google Generation’ myth and show that they can be truly information literate researchers as they explore their ideas to make life better, simpler or easier. Winners of this award will have demonstrated their ability to search intelligently across a range of resources including search engines like Google, make excellent judgments about the information they have found and put it to ethical use in their project.”


  • A new chapter for Bellevue’s public library? Aging building and growing city, technology spur reassessment – Omaha (USA). “Bellevue’s attendance has grown to almost 159,000 visits a year, up from 151,000 in 2013. Program attendance increased 30 percent to 20,500 participants in 2014. But book circulation is decreasing as more readers turn to iPads, Nooks, Kindles and other e-readers. Omaha will open its first “digital library” at 72nd and Dodge Streets in November. The project, developed by Omaha’s Heritage Services, will have equipment and training for the future: 3-D printers, advanced software and librarians trained to help the entire community access the latest digital information and technology.”
  • Fun Palaces at Parkes Shire Library – Library as Incubator (Australia). “When playwright Stella Duffy announced that she was launching Fun Palaces in 2014, we were quick to sign up. The plan was to turn theatres, libraries, and museums into places where people of all ages could try their hand at art and science. On 4th and 5th October 2014, venues from the Royal Shakespeare Company to a Canadian radio station opened their doors to this kind of fun and adventure. Although we are a rural library, serving a region of farmers and miners six hours away from Sydney, we strive to provide world-class services to our community. We’ve always believed that children, teens, and families deserve the highest quality of provision. No-one chooses where they are born or who they are born to; the public library addresses this by offering everyone equal access to all human knowledge and culture.”
  • ‘Invest In Libraries’ – QGazette (USA). “members of District Council 37 and library advocates from all five boroughs launched a major campaign, “Invest in Libraries,” to reverse years of neglect and urge the city to appropriately fund the library system. The campaign will also release a new report detailing some of the most egregious examples of branches in need of capital funding. The newly-formed campaign, Invest in Libraries, is a partnership among the three library systems and library supporters across the city. The campaign is calling for $1.1 billion in capital funding for critical renovations and maintenance”
  • Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Says He Has a Debt to Pay to Public Education and the Public Library – Diana Ravitch’s Blog (USA). “Mr. Russo spoke about his debt to Gloversville’s schools and library, declaring: “I’m a product of public education, government-backed student loans, and publicly funded institutions like the Gloversville Free Library. If you’ve lost faith in them, you’ve lost faith in basic democratic principles.””
  • Rocket with iPads to engage kids at Hervey Bay Library – Fraser Court Chronicle (Australia). “The Fraser Coast libraries’ emerging technology projects also include a planned coffee table iPad kiosk for older patrons, an upcoming technology tool bar for hands-on exploration of new digital tools and a collection of Kobo e-readers available for loan. ‘The e-readers are now available for loan while the additional features should be ready for use by April,””
  • Underfunding and understaffing plague public libraries – AFCSME (USA). “Since 2009, front-line staffing at New York City’s public libraries has plummeted by 21 percent, according to union records.”
  • Up All Night at the Public Library – Public Libraries Online (USA). ” the Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL) in Utah is proposing to stay open 24/7. Opening all hours is unprecedented, and as a result SLCPL has created a webpage to address their community’s questions and concerns – http://slcpl.org/24hours.” … “Who will really use the library at these hours? Will it be the desired late shift workers, night owls, hipsters, and college students? Or will it instead be a haven for those with nowhere else to go and those looking for trouble? We keep hearing how libraries need to adapt or risk becoming obsolete, but is there really a demand for our urban libraries to be open 24/7?”

Local news by authority

“Our opening hours will be changing soon. This is because the City Council must make significant budget savings. It is anticipated that the Library will be open 40 hours a week. We aim to publish the new opening times/ days as soon as they are agreed. Please look out on this website for further information.” Library of Birmingham

  • Bristol – Libraries Something clearly wrong with funding – Bristol Post. Previous experience and large amounts of money spent elsewhere suggests to one writer that the council is not entirely correct in needing to cut libraries spending.
  • Bristol – Rationale for Libraries not in Group 1 or 2 – Supporting Information – Bristol Council. Additional information on the proposed threatened libraries.
  • Harrow – ‘Full steam ahead’ as campaigners prepare business plans for North Harrow library and Bob Lawrence library – Harrow Times. “campaigners now hope to develop a comprehensive business plan with the help of volunteers, and welcome any suggestions to help guarantee the future of the library. North Harrow library campaigner Garry Davine said: “We have to secure sufficient funding, which will be a challenge, but it is vital that the library is kept open and we will do everything possible to ensure this.””
  • Herefordshire – New wellbeing centre could change care in Kington – Hereford Times. “An ambitious project could see Kington’s library transformed into a wellbeing centre, where residents can get counselling, blood pressure checks and even video-call their GP. While the project is still in its early stages, it is hoped that the centre could become a hub for a variety of services in the town, filling in some of the gaps in care that are often found in rural areas.” [This article dates from October 2014 but the vacancies are now available – Ed.]
  • Kent – Good news for library users: a cut in fees…of 35p – Folkestone Herald. “Customers are currently charged a 35p fee if they order and reserve any item stocked within the county, but that service will be provided free of charge from April 1.”
  • Knowsley – Knowsley Reader SchemeReader Organisation. “Our Knowsley Reader Scheme seeks to develop a team of volunteers who will read one to one with older people in Knowsley care homes. As part of the programme, volunteers will be fully trained and supported by The Reader Organisation staff, with a focus on their own personal development and an impact on their wider lives. Volunteers will receive regular feedback from The Reader Organisation staff, through which their achievements will be recognised and celebrated.”
  • Leicestershire – Residents unite with plans to run Hathern Library – Loughborough Echo. “Following the proposal, as part of a cost saving initiative in late 2014 by Leicestershire County Council, to transfer the operation of the county’s libraries into community hands, Hathern Community Library Group has been formed out of a series of public meetings facilitated by Hathern Parish Council. “
  • Manchester – £45,000 funding boost for Manchester’s Business & IP Centre – Manchester Council. “Manchester’s Business & IP Centre at Central Library will receive £45,000 in new funding from the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG), Arts Council England and The British Library. “
  • Manchester – New library opens its doors in Hulme – Manchester Council. “The library, on the ground floor of the leisure centre on Hulme High Street, will be jointly operated by Manchester City Council and the leisure centre operators, GLL. A new joint reception area for the library and leisure centre will create a welcome environment for everyone who wants to use the new facility. The library will be open the same hours as the leisure centre, with self-service facilities available when library staff aren’t there, to collect, borrow, return and renew books and to log on to internet-ready compurters. Library staff will be there throughout the week at the following times … The new library will be officially launched at 1.30pm on Saturday 28 March with Councillor Rosa battle who will be cutting the cake. Executive Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Rosa Battle, said: “The opening of the new library on Hulme High Street brings our leisure and library facility together under one roof. The move means that we can offer a better and improved service for our residents and we hope that the improved visibility and accessibility of the leisure and library services in one building will encourage new users to each facility.”
  • Manchester – Manchester Libraries awarded £250,000 to enhance children’s libraries – Manchester Council. “The funding boost from the foundation – a funding charity supporting excellence across the UK – will benefit Wythenshawe Forum Library, Withington Library, Longsight Library, Gorton Library, Newton Heath Library and North City Library in Harpurhey. Part of the funding will be used to enhance and create new informal ‘reading den’ spaces, with storytelling, play, discovery and learning as the focus.  “

“The Wolfson Foundation is committed to public libraries. We are delighted to be working with Manchester Libraries to provide inspiring and excellent facilities for children and young people.  The ambition is that children will discover the joys of their local library and that this will also have a significant impact on literacy levels. The funding is part of a pilot programme, and we hope that this type of exciting provision might act as a beacon – for libraries in Manchester and beyond.” Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation

  • Manchester + Salford – Manchester and Salford grow major free Wifi network, bringing superfast surfing to millions – Manchester Council. “The innovative £7.25m scheme is being run by Manchester City Council, Salford City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) – with funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Thanks to the scheme, Manchester and Salford are providing superfast free Wifi in public buildings right across the cities and on Metrolink trams. Free superfast wifi is to be made available in more than 120 Manchester council buildings including all libraries” … “Free Wifi has already been switched on at Central Library and at the Town Hall Extension, with a further 119 sites set to be up and running by the end of March.  The WiFi is under the name _BusyBeeMcr and users can surf from with no time limit throughout the week, when these venues are open.
  • North Yorkshire – Views sought on Norton library’s future as community “hub” – Gazette and Herald. “People are being asked for their views on how Norton library should be used to help secure its future. A steering group has been established to help transform the library in Commercial Street into a community “hub” ahead of financial cuts from North Yorkshire County Council.” … ““The help we have received is fantastic and we can now look at making a positive application to the county council to retain the library and develop it.”
  • Shropshire – Star comment: Libraries a challenge for groups – Shropshire Star. “The good news is that under new Shropshire Council proposals many libraries will be immune from council cuts. The bad news is that this will be because these libraries will no longer be a council-run service.” Council “hoping to see all of its 22 libraries, except those in the main six market towns, transferred to community groups.”

“Shropshire Council is looking for community organisations to run some libraries. Presumably that will mean a heavy reliance on local volunteers with the good of their community at heart. Will Salopians come forward to give their libraries the kiss of life? A chapter in Shropshire history looks like coming to a close – and there’s no guarantee of a happy ending.”

  • Wiltshire – The Reader South West wins at Wiltshire Public Health Awards – The Reader. “Our Wiltshire shared reading project, running in partnership with Wiltshire Libraries, picked up the prize for improved mental health and wellbeing across the area. Running since January 2014, Library Memory Groups bring the shared reading experience to people living with dementia and memory loss on a weekly basis. With poems and short stories that are read aloud, group members are immersed in a calm and relaxed atmosphere, with the texts being read and digested allowing people to piece together collective personal memories related to the stories and poems, which in turn encourages feelings of wellbeing.”

School libraries

  • Editorial – Books for Keeps.”I believe there is no real substitute for having libraries where children can actually handle the books, and having professional librarians, who read as widely as possible; find authors, stories, genres that excite; listen to the recommendations of others – especially young readers – discuss books with colleagues; attend book launches, unconferences and the occasional conference; and visit bookshops and other libraries. I believe they’re crucial to encouraging reading.” … supports school libraries with professional librarians, and points out that there is no mention of the latter in the recent government paper, Reading: the next steps https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reading-supporting-higher-standards-in-schools