Devon and Cornwall are moving towards running its libraries at arms length from the council and a council that’s already gone down that route, Suffolk, perhaps leading the way in lending out iPads. Speaking of innovation, I hear from the rather wonderful looking hive of activity that is Rhydypennau Library that they have a seed library as well as Axminster (who I thought were alone in the UK).  Any others out there?

However, the big news in libraries at the moment is about none of this.  It is about the Summer Reading Challenge, which officially starts on Saturday, although many authorities jump in way before then, with one I noticed starting on 1st July (won’t some people have completed it before the actual Summer Holidays then folks?). This year, the theme is Record Breakers and there will be an official national World Record attempt this weekend.  To those involved, I feel your pain about the bureaucracy of it all (got all your Lead Witnesses and forms sorted yet?) but hopefully it will be a big publicity and feel-good thing … and big collaborative things like that are what libraries need.  Although that Guinness World Record certificate (or at least a colour scan of it) is going to end up in my office if I have anything to do with it. And for those of you who remember the wonderful Record Breakers with Roy Castle, you will already know the truth about working in public libraries (perhaps more now than ever)  … dedication is all you need. 




“Libraries minister Ed Vaizey told a recent meeting of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce that securing £7.4m in spring’s budget to ensure that every public library has Wi-Fi was a “notable achievement”.  Last year’s independent report on the sector noted that only 48 percent of libraries offer a way for visitors to get online using their own gadgets, rather than using library computers.  But will £7.4m even come close to covering the costs?  Last year, free public Wi-Fi was installed in 1,000 public buildings around the UK, using £30m from the government’s £150m Super-Connected Cities programme, as Vaizey should know, since he announced the scheme.

The scale of the task with small branch libraries is larger.  At a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on libraries earlier this year, independent report panel chair William Sieghart noted:  “It is shocking that over 1,000 libraries don’t have Wi-Fi.”  Of course, he went on to say, “many of these are libraries that have been slated for closure.”  Four libraries closed for good in the London borough of Harrow last month, and 16 new planned closures were announced in Fife.  A final decision on closing seven libraries in Bristol is due in August.  That’s certainly one way to make that £7.4m stretch to cover whatever public libraries remain.” Library News – Private Eye (Issue No. 1396 p.35).


  • Caught In The Middle: Librarians On The Debate Over LGBT Children’s Books – Kera (USA). “The debate over same-sex marriage has spilled out of county courthouses and into the public library. Dozens of residents in Hood County are demanding that LGBT children’s books be banned or removed from the library’s children’s section. In Plano, a couple of parents have asked the public library to move LGBT books to a different section.”
  • Public libraries: A hidden key to the success of the Digital Single Market – Euractiv (EU). “Public libraries have had an impact on most of our lives. However, some of our memories might not reflect reality anymore. In fact, public libraries have been expanding their role enormously in recent years. While they continue to act as hubs for social inclusion, they are also reinventing themselves as an increasingly critical resource for digital skills and literacy. These basic skills are crucial if we want to achieve a true Digital Single Market. While we can put all necessary measures in place to make this ambitious project work, it will not materialise unless people are able to take advantage of it.” … “What European policy makers can do is quite simple. They need to recognise public libraries as a key pillar of non-formal education and to support them through EU policy frameworks and related programmes.”


Local authority

  • Cheshire West and Chester – Read all about it – Re:New. “Chester’s new cultural centre will accommodate a world class library, a café/bar and a new 100-seat cinema screen at the heart of the building.  To the west, a new extension will house the main 500/800-seat theatre and its support spaces, whilst a flexible studio theatre and its dedicated bar will sit on the roofline, with panoramic views over the city. The new, £37m centre opens at the end of 2016, with a home-produced Christmas show.”
  • Cornwall – Cornwall’s Libraries Face Being Hived Off – Pirate FM. “A public consultation has taken place on four options and County Hall says the most likely is Option Two: to formally tender for provision of the whole service under a separate organisation “.  Council suggests likely that it will  “formally tender for provision of the whole service under a separate organisation.”. 2000 responses.
  • Devon – Chair appointed to lead exciting future for Devon’s libraries Devon County Council. ““Having a representative of the community involved in the recruitment process shows how committed the county council is to working closely with communities and friends groups in order to make a real difference to the development of the service. “Julie was a very impressive candidate, not only does she have lots of experience as a Chair, she also has a great enthusiasm for libraries and a  vision for the future of Devon’s libraries.  She will no doubt provide excellent leadership and guidance for the organisation.””
  • Fife – Knowledge is power: grassroots campaign in Fife to defend libraries from closure – Common Space. “Speaking to CommonSpace, Alan Mackie, member of the Keep Fife’s Libraries Open campaign, which was formed in response to the threatened closures, stated that “the closure of libraries is ultimately an issue of social justice”. He continued: “Why should our public services suffer for the economic mismanagement of those at the top? Why should a key site of cultural enrichment come into the firing line because of the behaviour and failures of the people who caused economic catastrophe? Bottom line – it shouldn’t.””
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Council delays announcing outcome of Cultural Consultation until September – Brixton Buzz. “Lambeth Council has delayed publishing the outcome of the extensive Cultural Consultation that will decide upon the future of library and leisure services in the borough. We thought that it was odd that the final recommendations didn’t appear in the agenda for the July Cabinet meeting, as was the original aim.”
  • Lincolnshire – Lincolnshire residents urged by campaigner to visit their local libraries to find out what is going on – Save Lincolnshire Libraries. “Evidently the County Council plans to close all the so called ‘Tier 3’ libraries over the summer period. If that is true, I am sure you would like to know well in advance when your own local library will close. Will those taking a holiday in the summer return to find their library shut?” … “visit your local library with some urgency, find out what is going on, and please let us know in the comments below. “
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries plan reduced from a slash to a paper cut – Scarborough News.
  • Sheffield – Calls to postpone sale of historic library building in Sheffield – Star. “Hundreds of people have signed a petition to postpone the sale of a Sheffield library to a restaurant group. Walkley Library was the only library which had two business plans submitted after Sheffield Council decided to relinquish control of 15 facilities last year – but the rival groups have now united with a new plan. The scheme would lead to part of it becoming a coffee shop and restaurant, with Forum Café Bars, which was behind one of the plans, hoping to buy it and lease areas back so volunteers from Walkley Carnegie Library Group, who were behind the other plan and are currently running the library, can continue to do so.” … “a third group has launched a petition calling for the council to put the sale of the Grade II-listed building on hold until other options are considered – and it has now been signed by 1,862 people.”
  • Staffordshire – Jobs under threat at Tamworth Library in shake-upTamworth Herald. “Although Tamworth is one of the 20 which will remain under county council control, redundancies will be made across the whole service, meaning that it could affect Tamworth. Staff are said to have been briefed on the proposals, although chose not to comment when approached by the Herald.”
  • Staffordshire – Leek residents are being urged to help shape delivery of new vision for County’s Archives ServiceLeek News. “People from across the county are being asked to help shape plans to deliver a new vision for the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Archive and Heritage Service. The new vision for the service sets out how the ten million historical records, 27,000 objects, 43,000 photographs and 1,800 works of art documenting the county’s past will be preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy. Giving more people access to the service, making more records available online and getting local communities and schools more involved in activities are also outlined in the plans.”
  • Suffolk – Breaking records at Felixstowe Library – Youtube.  “Felixstowe based record breaker Dean Gould broke two of his own records at Felixstowe Library to inspire pupils from Langer Primary Academy to get involved in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. The theme of the reading challenge is Record Breakers in 2015.”
  •  Suffolk – Halesworth Library to launch iPad lending scheme – Suffolk Libraries. “In what may be the first scheme of its kind in the country, Halesworth Library is launching a new iPad lending service to customers. The new iPads will be available from Wednesday 22 July when the new service is launched at a special ‘Get Connected’ event at the library. The event takes place from 10am to 1pm and will provide an opportunity for people to find out more about the iPad lending service and other online services available at the library. The library will be lending four iPads to start with, which have been purchased with money raised by the Friends of Halesworth Library and thanks to a significant discount from the local Hughes store. Staff from Hughes will also be on hand during the event to offer advice on the range of products available from their stores. It’s thought to be one of, if not the first, schemes of its kind operating from a public library in the UK.”