I was sorry to see the reduction in the take up of the Summer Reading Challenge, even though it was officially called a success. This children’s side to public libraries is the high spot of the public library year and shows the sector at its best. So why the cut in usage? Well, first thing to say, is that it’s just a small reduction (barely over 1% according to one interpretation) which is pretty good going considering the fall in library budgets and opening hours. The actual take-up has reduced more than 1% due to the Republic of Ireland doing its own challenge (fair enough) but also because Lancashire decided to do the same (the “Lancashire Reading Trail” allowed the library promotion to be far more locally focused). The Reading Agency is not taking these defections lightly and is looking at a fresher look for the reading challenge next year – after all, the format hasn’t in essence changed for a decade – and the link to Roald Dahl will doubtless help. Let’s hope so because the Challenge is one of the few national promotions of library services out there, people love it and libraries can do with more.




  • Arts cuts will still be ‘hugely damaging’, warns Dugher – Stage. Shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher MP: “That’s about libraries, museums, theatres, galleries; that is about arts and culture in my constituency and constituencies all over the country. There were big, big cuts today in DCLG, and that will have a hugely damaging impact, in my view, on the sector and the things that we care about.” He added: “They’re doing something like 30% real-terms cuts at DCLG for local authorities. Given all the cuts that they’ve made already in the last few years, that will have a massive impact on our sector.””
  • Libraries Taskforce gets funding until 2020 – BookSeller. “Settle (pictured) also announced that the Taskforce was producing a “toolkit for local authorities” which will include examples of “good practice and exploring opportunities for smarter ways of working”. The Taskforce intends to “continue [its] efforts on communications to ensure the many positive benefits of the modern library service are widely understood and supported by national and local government, in addition to the public who use libraries on a daily basis,” Settle said.”
  • Library book expenditure in decline – BBC. “The purchase of library books has decreased by up to a third in parts of Scotland, according to data obtained by the BBC. The largest cuts in book expenditure were made in Clackmannanshire, East Lothian, and North Lanarkshire between 2012 and 2014. The total spending on books decreased by more than £854,000 in this period. The new figures come in the wake of a warning that councils face up to half a billion pounds of cuts next year.” … “By 2014/15 the purchasing of new library books decreased by 10% across Scotland to £7.6m.”
  • Reading Agency reveals Summer Reading fall – BookSeller. “The number of children in the UK who took part in The Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge this year was down 2.8% on last year’s figure. Some 786,547 UK children took part in the challenge this summer, compared to 809,422 in 2014 and Summer Reading Challenge director Anne Sarrag said the drop was due to one library authority not taking part. “This year there were slight variations in participation across all regions, with some authorities showing increases and others whose figures were slightly down,” she said. “One large authority didn’t take part this year, which brought the overall UK decrease down to 2.8%.” Sarrag added that if the non-participating authority were to be taken out of the equation, the drop in participation was a leaner 1.25%.” … “Although the number of pledges (almost 80,000) didn’t hit the record-breaking target of 100,000, The Reading Agency said more than 60,000 children joined a local library as a result. There were also more than 18 million children’s loans made over the summer, it added.”

“Next year, the theme of the Summer Reading Challenge will be The Big Friendly Read, organised in collaboration with the Roald Dahl literary estate as part of the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations. The agency will use characters from Dahl’s novels and artwork from illustrator collaborator Quentin Blake, and base the challenge on “invention, mischief and friendship as explored in Dahl’s most famous books”.”

International news

  • Canada – Story Pod / Atelier Kastelic Buffey – Arch Daily. “The abstract, black volume — a compact 8’ w by 8’ d by 10’ h — acts as an urban marker, drawing curious residents from nearby Main Street and an adjacent riverside walking trail. As users move around the box, the rhythm of its vertical slats changes. The tightest spacing articulates opaque walls; the larger gaps, backed by transparent Lexan, allow light and views to filter through; and the widest openings display the book stacks, showcasing the spines and encouraging eager readers to come in.”
  • Global – Call for examples: Library services to people who are experiencing homelessness – IFLA. “We are writing guidelines for providing library services to people who are experiencing homelessness. An important step in this process is collecting examples of library services to people who are experiencing homelessness worldwide. Can you send us examples?”
  • Singapore – Revamped Pasir Ris Public Library opens – Channel NewsAsia. “The two-level Pasir Ris Public Library at White Sands will be the first mall library in Singapore to have a space managed by teens, for teens. ” … “Called the Teens’ Mezzanine, the second-storey section of the library will be managed by a starter batch of 39 volunteer teenagers aged between 13 and 19 from the Inspiring Readers Society, a new initiative by the National Library Board (NLB). These teenagers will be co-creating video trailers that recommend books of their choosing, made available for viewing at the Book Tree.”

“Also in the space, teens and adults alike can interact with a Doodle Wall, where they can draw and ideate using their fingertips with the help of an interactive projector. The display aims to help facilitate live collaborative discussions through the use of visualisation.”

  • USA – Dallas Artists Contribute to Adult Coloring Book – D. “Dallas Public Library is putting out an adult coloring book that features contributions from North Texas artists, according to a press release that just landed in the inbox. The 40-page book will be released Dec. 5 during a reception at the downtown library branch. It’s a fun new way to introduce people to local art,” Heather Lowe, manager of the J. Erik Jonnson Central Library Fine Arts Division, said in a statement. “Our hope is that people might discover artists through the book and then venture out to see more of their work.””
  • USA – The Future Of Libraries Is Collaborative, Robotic, And Participatory – Fast Coexist. “Arup organized workshops in four cities, bringing together a range of people interested in libraries. The report collects ideas from existing projects, as well as ideas for future spaces. There are four main themes, as summarized below. Despite a lack of funding and the threat of online alternatives, “trends shaping the future of libraries have the potential to reshape and reinvigorate the role they play in public, academic and corporate settings,” the report says.”: main areas are participatory; enabling collaboration; community hubs and seamless learning.

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Call for moratorium on Central Library demolition – Birmingham Post. “In a letter to this week’s Birmingham Post , a group of signatories have urged the city council and property developer Argent to call a moratorium on the £500 million Paradise development so a fresh application can be lodged to consider the former library for listed status”
  • Brighton and Hove – New plans would keep all libraries open, albeit during reduced hours and with some moving to alternative location – Argus. “Significant reductions in Westdene and Hollingbury libraries as a proposal to merge them into a classroom and children’s centre respectively is designed to save £309,000. A proposal to move Hove Library into a newly-built expansion of Hove Museum in 2017/18 will save £330,000. Expanding of the Libraries Extra scheme, which allows facilities to remain open for later but without staff, is hoped to save £375,000 by April 2017.  External consultants will be employed by the council to look into savings in the Jubilee Library PFI contract, which currently costs £2.4 million a year in council and Government funding.”
  • Coventry – £5m council plan for cuts to libraries, toilets and jobs approved for consultation  – Coventry Telegraph. “Plans for £5million of council cuts which would axe 35 jobs, close public toilets and shut down the city’s mobile library have been approved for public consultation.” … “New plans would keep all libraries open, albeit during reduced hours and with some moving to alternative locations”
  • Edinburgh – Unions in warnings over Edinburgh council cuts – National. “In the latest report to the city’s finance and resources committee, a whole swathe of cuts – some 73 proposals in all – were revealed. They include reductions in school crossing attendants at lunchtimes, closing down the night noise team, reviewing the future of libraries, and cutting the funding for community policing.”
  • Hampshire – Shock as town’s library could close – Salisbury Journal. “More than 5,700 comments have been left after three weeks of consultation on plans to split libraries into four tiers based on use.” .. “The council has targeted the mobile library service because it is used by an ageing population of 2,230 people – one per cent of Hampshire’s library users. ” [NB. article claims book fund would be cut entirely by 2020: this looks like an error – see council strategy paper for true story – Ed.]
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Council Cabinet to consider minor tinkerings for bonkers book-ish gyms – Brixton Buzz. “If this all sounds like it is simply procedure and policy, then that is because it is. The many passionate library campaigners around Lambeth still face a considerable struggle if they want to avoid the folly of library-lites.” … “But at least it did show that an element of internal dissent is starting to appear publicly for the first time within the Labour group. “
  • Lancashire – Cuts programme gets green light – but fight to save our libraries goes on  – Accrington Observer. “The fight to save our local services goes on as the county council has approved plans to devastate the county’s libraries. At a meeting of the cabinet, members voted to approve cost cutting proposals, including axing the number of libraries from 74 to 34 to save £7 million, ending the funding for museums and reducing the Highways budget by £2.8 million.”
  • Lincolnshire – Rural areas treated poorly – Spalding Today / Letters. “Libraries and local rubbish recycling points will be just the tip of a very big iceberg. There will be knock-on effects for our district council, too.”
  • Neath Port Talbot – Appeal for help over Skewen library closure plans – South Wales Evening Post. “Skewen and Baglan libraries, along with the mobile library service, are facing closure in a bid to save £80,000.”
  • Poole – Councillor can’t use library to meet residents – because it’s not technically in her ward – Dorset Echo. Senior council officer cancelled councillor surgery [ – Ed.] “”I believe I should be using Hamworthy Library, it’s not called Hamworthy East Library,” she said. “They shouldn’t have got funding from a deprivation area (Turlin Moor) if they are basically saying a councillor from that area is not allowed to use it. That’s wrong in so many ways.” “
  • Suffolk – Suffolk libraries facing major funding cuts – EADT. “Suffolk’s libraries are facing budget cuts of more than 11% over the next two years – but their chairman has pledged that no branches will be closed.” … “Suffolk Libraries chairman Tony Brown told a meeting of the county’s scrutiny committee looking at potential budget cuts that the service had not agreed to cuts of £350,000 over each of the next two years.” … ““We do not expect to have to make any major changes in the coming year. We had already planned to deliver the final part of the 30% efficiency savings which are set out in our original contract. “
  • Worcestershire – All-new Bromsgrove Library set to open doors tomorrow – Bromsgrove Standard. “The new premises on Stourbridge Road, the former Parkside School site, will open at 9am, about a month behind schedule, thanks to a £6.9million joint enterprise project between Worcestershire County Council and Bromsgrove District Council. The new library will include an online service for free e-books, e-magazines and reference sources like Britannica and the OED. The site will also be used for the Bromsgrove Customer Service Centre, the Registration Service and the JobCentre Plus office.”