One of the more interesting things in public libraries over the last couple of months has been the attempt to gain a Guinness World Record for the most reading pledges. This was nationwide, organised by the Reading Agency and part of the “Record Breakers” Summer Reading Challenge. An impressive 80,000 pledges were received from people spread across 140 authorities, just short of the 100,000 number needed. I know from my own authority that pledging led to some great outreach events, including whole mornings spent in schools and to a Sunday at a town festival.  The down side to this was the bureaucracy – as an official record attempt there were a lot of hoops to jump through – and this may be the reason that more libraries were not involved.  Staffing shortages, always a problem these days, were also almost certainly a reason.  However, we were so close to that record and it would only have taken one-fifth more to have got it.  I’d have loved to have been able to say my library service was a record breaker and I was already working out where to place the certificate and wondering if we could use the logo on emails.  So, if we get another chance to do something nationally on this scale, I’d say to you all that we should go with it.  It’s always easier to say no than yes but you rarely do new and wonderful things that way in my experience.  Some of the best things I’ve been involved with have come about simply because someone did not say “no” and some of my proudest moments have been when that someone was me.



“Dear library colleagues,

I am writing to say a huge thank you to you and your colleagues for taking part in The Reading Agency and libraries’ attempt to set a new world record for most pledges received for a reading campaign between 10 and 13 July. This nationwide celebration brought almost 80,000 people into local libraries to pledge to read this summer. It’s a fantastic achievement and I hope you feel as proud as we do about this. Sadly, we needed 100,000 pledges to achieve a world record. However, we did succeed in drawing more children into the library and getting families excited about the Challenge in a spectacular way.

It was brilliant to see photos and hear stories from libraries across the country as they launched the Challenge and to see how the record attempt galvanised families, authors, celebrities and MPs to celebrate their local libraries, spread awareness and sign up to the Challenge. You can see some of these photos in our Storify at readingagency.org.uk/children. Guinness World Records have told us how impressed they are with the response to the record attempt, which shows how much commitment libraries have to the cause and how much excitement there is among families about the Summer Reading Challenge.

There is a lot to look forward to for the rest of the summer; I personally can’t wait to see more photos of Summer Reading Challenge completers and other celebrations throughout the holidays. So I want to congratulate you for what we managed to achieve and wish you all the best for the rest of the summer.

Best wishes,

Sue Wilkinson MBE, CEO of The Reading Agency”

  • Libraries need bricks, not just clicks – Telegraph. “Scholars who had protested about the move out of the old Round Reading Room of the British Museum gradually became accustomed to the spacious, comfortable and modern reading rooms. Meanwhile, a succession of ever more spectacular events and exhibitions opened the Library up to a new and ever broader mix of visitors, of all ages and backgrounds” … “Some may query the need for physical spaces on this scale in an undeniably digital age – but our experience says otherwise: last year, the number of visits we receive grew by 10% to 1.6 million. While our 11 reading rooms are as busy as ever, our wifi-enabled public spaces are attracting a new type of researcher: people working collaboratively and nomadically, accessing an increasing range of digital and digitised resources in a comfortable and inspiring shared civic space.”

“Sandy Wilson also identified brick as the only material, in our climate, that improves rather than deteriorates with age. This mirrors the powerful notion of the physical library itself: a public place for study and exploration, open to all – a vision worth sustaining for centuries to come”

  • Reading for pleasure ‘boosts social relations’ – BBC. “The research involving a poll of 4,000 people that is cited by the report looked at how mental and physical health can be boosted by the enjoyment of reading. It said those who read regularly for pleasure: were less likely to have feelings of stress and depression; had more self-esteem; were more able to deal with difficult situations; had better sleeping patterns”
  • Reading For Pleasure Builds Empathy And Improves Well Being, Research From The Reading Agency Finds – BookTrade.Info.  The full Reading Agency press release.
  • Reading improves emotional health, says report – BookSeller. “To put together the report, BOP Consulting reviewed 51 academic publications and reports from the UK literacy sector, looking at how reading affects health issues such as stress or dementia, or emotional wellbeing, in four population groups: adults, children and young people, parents and carers, and adults with health needs. It found that reading for please therefore has a huge impact on children, more than on other age groups, and that children will read more if they have some control over when and where they read.” … “The report is the first stage of a project, funded by the Peter Sowerby Foundation, to create a reading outcomes framework in partnership with reading charities, public libraries and education organisations.”
  • Relationship between bookshops and libraries ‘set to change’ – BookSeller. “In a blog for The Bookseller, Ayub Khan MBE, an SCL executive and face to face services manager at Warwickshire County Council, said that bookshops and libraries were set to join forces on a larger, national scale to combat the economic ‘adversity’ faced by both enterprises which has seen many bookshops and libraries close over the last few years. Khan has advocated that bookshops and libraries should ‘target customers together’, join forces in campaigns and events and discuss and debate topics such as the “thorny issue of e-lending”.”

“Since the group formed, the willingness to work together on a national scale has moved forward, with the SCL and BA co-operating on projects such as World Book Day, Shakespeare Week, and looking at how bookshops could support the Books on Prescription scheme – which provides an approved list of self-help titles for teenagers and adults with mental health issues,” Kahn said. The BA and SCL particularly want bookshops and libraries to work together on World Book Day and Shakespeare Week.”


  • There’s a library-shaped hole in the Internet – Boston Globe (USA). “If you want to know anything about movies, the Internet’s got you covered. Likewise for details about the world’s roadways, song lyrics, or Pokemon characters. But if you want to know about books and the other items of culture we’ve entrusted to libraries, it’s much harder to find out. We’re not even sure what to link to when posting about a book. In short, there’s a library-shaped hole in the Internet.”

Local news by authority

  • Buckinghamshire – Libraries Will Be Open Less Across Bucks – Mix 96. “In the consultation, 65% of respondents did not support reductions in opening hours, but 74% of respondents confirmed that the revised hours would not prevent them from continuing to use the service. The changes, thanks to a loss of £270,00 in yearly funding, will only affect Council run libraries, community libraries will remain the same.”

  • Devon – Julie Dent talks about Devon’s Library Service – Youtube. “An exciting new era is on the horizon for Devon Libraries, with plans to set up a new independent organisation to run the service. Work is underway to establish a staff and community owned ‘mutual’ which would be commissioned by Devon County Council to run libraries on their behalf from April 2016.”
  •  Dorset – Letter: a mum’s view of libraries – Blackmore Vale Magazine. Mother describes the importance of libraries to her life and says all should be able to use them. see also Letter: Deputy Mayor speaks out in defence of library activities – Blackmore Vale Magazine. Both letters in response to letter complaining about the noise of child activities disturbing the quiet reading of others.
  • Herefordshire – Critics warn county library service will “cease to exist” under new council cuts plan — Hereford Times. “All but one of the county’s main libraries are now marked for closure or “self service” under Herefordshire Council’s latest cost saving proposals. Community libraries would be expected to find their own funding for administration and support services. The plan goes further than savings proposed for libraries in 2013. Critics have already warned that the county’s library service would “cease to exist” if the latest plan went ahead.”
  • Herefordshire – Fearless Librarian Saves The Day – BBC Radio Four. “Written by Sebastian Baczkiewicz, this is the story of no ordinary librarian. Sitting behind the wheel of a clapped-out mobile library, Harry Hayman is the easy rider of Herefordshire’s remote country lanes. Whether it’s as a knight in shining armour, a getaway driver or an unlikely Casanova – Harry repeatedly finds himself having to save the day. But when his cherished job is jeopardised, can he pull out all the stops? A road trip that weaves together stories inspired by life in the Herefordshire countryside. ” [This is from September 2011 – Ed.]
  • Herefordshire – Herefordshire libraries would ‘cease to exist’ under new proposals – BookSeller. “John Hitchin, secretary to Hereford Library Users Group (HLUG), told the newspaper that the plan meant the county’s library service would “ virtually cease to exist”. “Expect a reduction in stock purchases and the provision of expert staff,” he said. Under the proposals, the library delivery service for house bound residents would be retained, but the school library service is expected to become self-funding.”

“…to take part in the consultation, go to this site for a downloadable questionnaire: https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/government-citizens-and-rights/democracy/council-finances/priorities-and-budget-consultation-2016-to-2020. Please be sure to do so if you value your library service. For although the proposed cuts do not appear to affect Hereford Broad Street library they will surely do so. Expect a reduction in stock purchases and the provision of expert staff. The county’s library service will virtually cease to exist. Furthermore, it is arguable that the Council will be infringing the requirements of the 1964 Public Libraries Act. What else can you do? One of our members John Llewellyn Perkins has already set up a 38 degrees petition which is rapidly garnering signatures. Be sure to add yours. Go to: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-herefordshire-libraries-2  Or search for it at https://www.facebook.com/pages/They-Are-Our-Libraries-Museums/259375180873415?hc_location=ufi. John has added some useful notes about how important the issue is. But as a library user, I imagine that you could add your own reasons too …” Herefordshire – Hereford Library Users Group

  • Kirklees – Book end battle – Yorkshire Evening Post. “Councils across the land have looked for ways to balance their books in the wake of deep spending cuts, which in the case of Kirklees Council is expected to be in the region of 40 per cent of its annual budget by 2018. Cutting bin collections and reducing grass cutting just isn’t enough and if you close the odd library, people may complain but no one is going to die.” … “Relying on volunteers to run libraries might be seen as an option but Doncaster librarian Lauren Smith from campaign group Voices for the Library, says it’s not a viable long term solution. “It’s very well intentioned but it’s not sustainable. Many groups feel as if they’ve been pressured into it, hoping it’s a short-term solution.”” see also New chapter for Yorkshire’s libraries… but who’s writing it? – Yorkshire Post.
  • Knowsley – Knowsley library cutbacks: council cannot afford “same level of service” as opening hours cut – Liverpool Echo. “The council announced all five Knowsley libraries will no longer open on Wednesdays in a statement online this morning. It said every library will also open an hour later from Monday to Friday, with the changes starting from Monday, August 24. The move means most libraries will see their opening hours cut by 12 hours week but Huyton will lose 15 hours a week as its 6pm closing time is pushed back to 5pm. The council also announced a new e-books system will launch in the autumn.”

If I were a chartered librarian I’d never suggest that you should lose your livelihoold to save mine.  The libraries fraternity/sorority should be pulling together, not competing for ££ at eachothers’ expense. It is ugly to view.” Shirley Burnham