As if on order, following the demand for a more “positive narrative” for libraries described in the last post, there’s been a couple of really positive library stories in the news this weekend.  The first is that BBC Radio 6 spent a fair bit of time celebrating libraries on Saturday, including Guy Garvey at Manchester Central Library. It was all good stuff and showed the importance of libraries in nurturing authors and musicians, and thus (because in these philistine times there is always a bottom line) helping to make loads of money for UK Culture plc.  I hope politicians were listening.  In fact, Manchester are playing a blinder with positive publicity stories at the moment, with a flagship beautiful library often being used for music and arts events: there’s even chefs doing demonstrations there soon.  The other positive news story is a librarian from Northamptonshire, described only as “Tim”, who went above and beyond the call of duty and, by doing so, got a load of positive press, including on the BBC national news website.  Well done to him.  It’s stories like these that show the importance of libraries and how great they are.  We don’t need reminding but politicians and those of the public that don’t use libraries surely do.


National news

  • Elbow’s frontman looks to promote libraries with new show Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour – Independent. “In the teeth of a crisis that in the three years to the end of 2014 saw 324 British libraries close, the Elbow frontman is broadcasting his radio show live from Manchester Central Library. It’s part of an afternoon of family-friendly activities at the refurbished grade II*-listed neo-classical building, relaunched last November with a week-long arts festival curated by Manchester band Everything Everything. Garvey will be joined by drummers Stephen Morris of New Order and Phil Selway of Radiohead for a discussion on the books and authors influencing them and their music.” …”Selway points at the benefits of losing yourself in a book, and in a library. “At points in your life you can view libraries as quite stuffy and straight-laced. But actually they’re amazing places of discovery.”

“I think it’s great that libraries are evolving,” he added. “But that core purpose of the building is still there: that shared area where people can delight in learning – and in this case, find an outlet for their expression. You’re going there to better yourself, in whatever way that is.” Phil Selway of Radiohead

  • End ‘negative narrative’ around libraries urges Settle – BookSeller. “Settle said: “I realise that campaigners and lobbyists will quite reasonably want to point out the cuts and the closures. You can see how effective they are too because that is the narrative you see in all the media.” She added: “However, I think we need to break that negative narrative. I recognise that’s difficult because there really are cuts and closures happening. We certainly don’t want to make it look as if everything is sweetness and light because we know that it’s not. But equally, if we don’t turn that narrative round and collectively start talking more positively about libraries, no one else is going to. And why would anyone want to invest in a service that sounds as if it’s failing?”
  • Keep library staff to keep changing lives – Leon’s Library Blog. “skilled and qualified staff need to play a central part in all libraries; not just as managers and supervisors of volunteer run libraries, the overseers of the charity shop or hub and spoke model run by unpaid amateurs but as innovators embedded in their communities delivering core services. For an overwhelming argument in support of paid staff look no further than the Libraries Change Lives Awards. Good luck to all those shortlisted.”
  • Labour’s Policy Review on Libraries; a lost opportunity – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “Labour has struggled with its libraries remit, especially the role of volunteers, and instead of formulating a strong policy which clearly states the need for publicly funded & managed libraries run by paid & trained library staff it has instead partly mimicked the Tories. Off course it’s the Tories who are slashing the funding but why aren’t more Labour Cllrs marching shoulder to shoulder with their residents in opposition to austerity and the ‘Localism’ agenda, both of which have caused huge damage to library provision?If the Labour Party had taken a strong and clear position right from the start and had listened to users, staff, campaigners and union members then maybe some or many local Labour Cllrs would have taken the lead.”
  • Northampton librarian praised for buying customer book – BBC. “A librarian has been praised after using his own money to buy a book for a customer who had waited two months for it to arrive. The man, named only as Tim, works at the Weston Favell branch in Northampton and delivered the book to the woman after cycling to her house.”
  • Plans for all-Wales library card to improve access and save money – Welsh Government. “A single library card across Wales would mean users could borrow and return books in any library across the country. It would also open up access for people to take advantage of free computer use in libraries no matter where in the country they are and create a national e-books and e-zines service with free seamless downloads. The plan is a step closer today as the Welsh Government awarded a single-supplier framework contract to SirsiDynix, one of the largest library management system vendors in the world, with customers in 70 countries.” … “The move could also save local authorities up to 70% on current costs, with all local authorities adopting one single system rather than each having individual ones, as is the current practice.”
  • Share your ideas for a new cultural programme – DCMS. “To support the upcoming White Paper, starting next week we’ll be launching a dedicated #OurCulture discussion platform, looking at each theme in turn over the coming months, to give you the chance to submit and discuss your ideas across each of the four topics. We’re seeking innovative proposals to drive discussion and I’m looking forward to seeing lots of lively debate that underlines our passion for the cultural sectors, and how we need to ensure they continue to adapt and thrive for future generations.”


  • France – Bookshop appeals for Calais camp donations – BookSeller. “The Big Green Bookshop’s appeal for book donations for refugees in Calais has gone “through the roof” since yesterday (4th September) the bookshop has said. The independent in London’s Wood Green is sending book donations to the so-called Jungle Books library set up by teacher Mary Jones at the refugee camp in Calais, nicknamed The Jungle. She has said: “I wanted to start something that offered real, practical help. Many people here are well-educated — they want to get on and they want books that will help them read and write English, apply for jobs, fill-in forms.””
  • Mexico – Wooden gridshell by Anagrama forms shelves inside a Mexican library – De Zeen. “”We didn’t want the readers or visitors to feel inside a traditional library, so we designed this almost surreal wooden structure with gradated cyan paint on the middle platform,” said Treviño”
  • USA – Shelf Life: Book’n It for the Library Race takes off this Saturday – Missoulian. “Missoula Public Library patrons are invited to lace up and hit the ground running or walking in support of your local library this week during MPL’s fourth annual Book’n It for the Library Race, a 5k fun run that departs from the library’s Front Street parking lot at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Once it starts, participants will run or walk on a course that follows the Riverfront Trail along the beautiful Clark Fork River. Runners, walkers, and strollers of all ages are welcome to take part in this race. Registration costs $20, with a $2 discount for each runner with a Missoula Public Library card. All proceeds go to support library programming through the Friends of the Missoula Public Library.”

Local news by authority

  • Bromley – Solidarity to Unite members on strike in Bromley Libraries – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “Last week Unite members in Bromley Libraries took further strike action against plans to privatise and amateurise the service.  One of the Unite Stewards very kindly sent me some photos … We have over 1200 signatures on our surveys which just shows the massive support for our campaign. The Council must accept that they cannot go on with their plan to cover up the glaring truth that Bromley residents do not want private companies running their services.”
  • Cornwall – Battle of Britain fighter pilot opens library in Cornish pub – Pub is the Hub. “The project has been completed in partnership with Cornwall Council’s Library Services and the support of rural pub champions Pub is The Hub.” … “Situated in one of the myriad of small rooms within the pub, the library room boasts several shelves of books, comfy seating and a computer terminal connected to the internet. There, customers can browse the shelves that are managed and monitored by the Library Service or order books online to be delivered weekly.” … “Assisting in the library and funding 50% of the cost with Pub is The Hub has been Pat Terry from Cornwall Council’s Library Services.”
  • Kirklees – New campaign to try and save Kirklees’ libraries – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Huddersfield, Calderdale and Bradford branch of union Unite Community has now launched a campaign to persuade the council to change its plans” … “Unite Community member Chris Strachan, who began the petition, said: “It’s going very well so far. The petition is against library cuts, and against the use of volunteers to replace paid library staff. We are getting a good response from the public.”
  • Leicestershire – Leicestershire’s second ‘community partnership’ library set to open in Markfield this week – Leicester Mercury. One of 36 withdrawn by council: volunteers have been supported by council. Will be open 18 hours per week.
  • Manchester – Aumbry chef Mary-Ellen McTague to take part in free ‘ask the experts’ event at Central Library – Manchester Evening News. “The award-winning chef will be joined by sustainable food pioneer Vincent Walsh and founding director of the Fazenda restaurant group Tomas Maunier in a special edition of Central Library’s ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurs’ programme of talks.”
  • Manchester – Music, Minecraft and Guy Garvey – Library Live. “Central Library is throwing its doors open for a special Sunday afternoon of free entertainment for the whole family. And the internationally renowned musician Guy Garvey will be broadcasting his BBC 6music radio show, ‘Finest Hour’, live from the library on the day. From stories and songs to Minecraft mask-making and bunting workshops – plus a chance to find your inner rockstar by trying out a range of musical instruments – a host of fun activities for people of all ages will be taking place on Sunday 6 September (12 – 4pm). Music fans are also offered a unique opportunity to see the frontman of Elbow, Guy Garvey, live in the library’s Performance Space as he introduces and shares some of his favourite songs for BBC 6music listeners nationwide (2 – 4pm). Guy will be joined on the show by guests including Radiohead’s Phil Selway and New Order’s Stephen Morris, to discuss the literary influences that have inspired their work.”
  • Southwark – Old Kent Road’s public library to move to Aylesbury Estate site – London SE1. East Street Library – located on the corner of Old Kent Road SE1 and East Street SE17 – opened in 1967 to replace a much grander Edwardian building knocked down to make way for the Bricklayers Arms flyover. In turn, the current library is likely to shut in 2019 when a new ‘community hub’ opens 500 metres away in Thurlow Street. Cllr Ian Wingfield, Southwark’s cabinet member for business, employment and culture, said: “While other councils are closing libraries, in Southwark we have worked hard to keep investing and keeping them in place as a vital community space.”
  • Wirral – It’s tough for Wirral library staff – Wirral Globe. “.. Wirral libraries have had their opening hours drastically reduced because the council couldn’t afford to keep them open all week. The library staff worked long and hard to stop this happening and to safeguard their jobs, as did many library members. To my horror I have learned the libraries are now to reopen on certain days because they will be staffed by volunteers and not library staff. “

“Do these volunteers realise they are taking the jobs of library staff who worked very hard to try to keep them?”