A new study, the The World’s Most Literate Nations, places UK low down on the list, not least because of the relatively poor showing of UK libraries compared to that of other countries.  In fact, it’s very low down for libraries: 29.5 compared to 17th overall. One wonders where it would have been in 2010.


National news

  • Finland ranked world’s most literate nation – Guardian. “Finland is the world’s most literate nation, according to new research, with the UK coming in 17th, behind countries including the US, Canada and Australia … Rather than measuring a country’s ability to read, the World’s Most Literate Nations says it ranks nations on their “literate behaviours and their supporting resources” … “what the rankings strongly suggest … is that these kinds of literate behaviours are critical to the success of individuals and nations in the knowledge-based economics that define our global future …  “I have to say, that I´m very proud of the Finnish school system and also our libraries, which have very versatile collections available to all.” …  UK ranks 29.5 by libraries.
  • National Libraries Day – Bibliotheca. “At the end of 2015, bibliotheca launched its first National Libraries Day Grant Application Scheme, giving UK libraries a chance to be awarded one of three £1000 grants. The aim of the scheme was to encourage libraries to think outside the box and create exciting plans to celebrate National Libraries Day on Saturday 6 February 2016. We wanted to help libraries to reach out beyond the four walls of the library building and attract more community members to use their service. With the support of the National Libraries Day organisation, we invited all UK libraries to apply by telling us how they would use £1000 to put their plans into action”
  • PRH and Hachette lead BBIA nods – BookSeller. “This year will be the sixth time the BBIAs have celebrated a Library of the Year, and 2016 has by far the greatest geographic spread, with 830 miles between the most northerly and southerly shortlistees, Shetland Library (closer to the Arctic Circle than Oslo) and Plymouth’s Plympton Library”
  • Tory social housing sell-off could force councils to flog libraries and parks to fill £2 billion black hole – Mirror. “Cash to fund the Right to Buy extensions is meant to come from selling off high-value council homes – a policy branded “extremely questionable” by MPs on the communities and local government committee.” … “But reports by Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing have warned sales will fall more than £2billion short of what Tory ministers predicted.”
  • #whatsyourstory – Leeds libraries’ innovative marketing campaign – Libraries Taskforce. “Marketing of public library services is notoriously difficult. We offer so much to so many people, when designing a marketing campaign it’s hard to know where to start! So when we decided we wanted a new marketing campaign to change people’s perceptions of modern public libraries, we knew it had to be fresh, exciting and high profile. We also wanted to align our online and offline marketing so our offer was more ‘joined-up’ across promotional channels …”

International news

Local news by authority

Why I wrote the book: (1) to  publicise how a local community obliged Barnet Council to allow a constituted trust to negotiate a 15-year lease from the Council who had closed it.The book is dedicated to those in the community who created Friern Barnet Library in 1934, and to the team of determined, brave and talented people who refused from 2011 to 2013 to let it be closed. (2)How this came about only with the direct action of squatters, who wrong-footed the Council by walking in through an open window and inviting the community to donate books and to volunteer to jointly run the library. (3) How in the trial for eviction of the squatters , Barnet Council was directed by the judge to defer eviction by six weeks to allow time for the community to negotiate terms of a lease. (4) How successful have been debates, film shows and Open Mic nights in the library. (5) How all this process took several years of perseverance and campaigning. How the eventual extension of the lease from two to fifteen years took a long time coming. (6) How the volunteer-run library has yet to provide many of the aspects of the former Council-run service, notably a computer-based borrowing and catalogued system.” Barnet – Keith Martin via email, author of Friern Barnet – The Library That Refused to Close

  • Darlington – Protestors want genuine consultation over Darlington library closure proposals – as hundreds turn out to demonstrate – Northern Echo. “Darlington’s Crown Street came to a standstill on Saturday afternoon as arts campaigners and library users of all ages joined together with homemade placards and posters during the ‘Save Our Library’ protest. ” … “Around 35 members of staff face redundancy if the plans to sell the Crown Street site for £300,000 go ahead. “
  • Essex – Merging services is part of Essex County Council’s money saving plan – Echo. [Article from January but contains news new to this website – Ed.] Libraries budget is £9 million 2016/17. £593k cut 2015/16, £594k 2016/17. Registrar births, deaths and marriages will move into libraries. Council “moving towards a community hub model” for libraries.
  • Lancashire – Trawden library is temporarily closed today – Pendle Today. “Trawden Library will be temporarily closed today due to a staff shortage.”
  • Lancashire – Village library is to close – Pendle Today. “Wheatley Lane Library, in Fence, has been run by Pendle Council since 2006 when it was earmarked for closure by Lancashire County Council. But, due to cutbacks, bosses at the Town Hall said they are unable to continue funding the facility.”
  • Lewisham – Extension of the community library model – Lewisham Council. “This page presents documents related to the extension of the community library model to the Forest Hill, Manor House, and Torridon Road library buildings”
  • Northern Ireland – Libraries to host writing workshops – Ulster Star. “NI Libraries’ 2016 Writer in Residence, Anthony Quinn, will be hosting writing workshops …”
  • Redbridge – Redbridge libraries to hold Women’s History Month events – Ilford Recorder. “Redbridge Libraries launched Women’s History Month, on Saturday and features an expert multi-tasker who not only survived a terrifying encounter with a murderer on a train, but has penned four novels”
  • South Gloucestershire – Futuristic thriller wins Concorde Book Award – South Gloucestershire Council. “Futuristic thriller ‘The Fearless’ has been chosen as the 2016 winner of South Gloucestershire’s young people’s literature prize the Concorde Book Award.” … “Once again this year’s winner was chosen after an exciting district-wide reading challenge in which hundreds of young people from public and school library reading groups throughout South Gloucestershire worked their way through a shortlist of titles.” … “The Concorde Book Award, supported by The Bristol Post, is a long-running ‘young people’s Booker’ run by South Gloucestershire schools and public libraries in which groups of young people read a shortlist of novels before voting on their favourite title.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Council consults on proposed library cuts – Bradley Stoke Journal. “South Gloucestershire Council has opened a public consultation on proposed changes to its library service which could see opening hours at main libraries (such as Bradley Stoke and Patchway) cut by an average of eight hours per week and smaller branches (such as Filton) reduced to opening on just two days a week or being closed altogether. As part of its agreed Savings Programme running until 2019/20, the council needs to save £640,000 from the budget for the service and has proposed options that involve reducing library opening hours, closing Chipping Sodbury Library and ending the mobile library service.”
  • Suffolk – Competition for the best love story to win a free wedding at Ipswich Library – Ipswich Star. “Normally used as the library’s study and reference area, the Northgate Room has been licensed to hold weddings, civil ceremonies and other celebrations. To launch the new venue Suffolk Libraries is running a competition to offer a free hire for the best love story” … “Ipswich County Library is a listed building which is 92 years old this year. Its Northgate Room is 100ft long with a vaulted ceiling and old oak bookshelves and tables. It’s a room which celebrates Suffolk’s cultural heritage and historic significance … The room can hold up to 40 people and has a full licence from Suffolk Registrars, which also covers the library’s lecture hall and enterprise and innovation hub which are also available for hire. “
  • Swindon – Library campaigners show support at Old Town fundraiser – Swindon Advertiser. “..campaigners from across Swindon joined forces for a fundraiser in Old Town on Saturday. The event, run by the Save Swindon Libraries campaign group saw Los Gatos restaurant filled with local residents clamouring to show their support and sign their petition.” … “”There must have been some hundreds of people in here during the whole course of the morning,” she said. “Everyone wants to tell us how appalled they are at the prospect of losing the professional service we all enjoy and value.””
  • Trafford – Mum-of-four invites Sale and Hale to explore Muslim faith and culture – Messenger. “Shabnam Yusuf is holding a ‘Discover Islam’ exhibition in Hale Library, Leigh Road, until Saturday March 19. Through the exhibition, Shabnam is aiming to raise awareness about the culture, diversity and the unique way of life of a Muslim. ” .. ““I have been working with libraries in the East Cheshire area for several years now and hold Discover Islam exhibition on an annual rota”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Dinas Powys call for library volunteers – Barry Gem. “Library volunteer open day got off to a flying start at the Dinas Powys Library after the steering committee of the community library arranged to formally sign up volunteers who will be trained and have the assistance of a peripatetic librarian.” … “Dinas Powys is one of five community libraries to be created, including Sully, Rhoose, St Athan and Wenvoe. “
  • West Berkshire – Library closure consultation ‘a sham’ says campaigner – Newbury Today. ““According to report backs from the meeting, parish councillors were advised to form resident charitable trusts to take control of the running of their libraries. “This is despite the fact that the formal West Berkshire Council public consultation about proposed library closures still had one week to run. This exposes the consultation as a sham.” The council vehemently denied those claims and said the option of charitable trusts was “simply an example of how a parish council or other community group might consider running their own library if the option to do so came about”.” … “Ms Culver’s letter adds: “Representatives of the residents’ campaigns to prevent library closures were not invited, and neither were parish councillors or residents from areas that use the mobile libraries. “Councillor Hilary Cole’s [who set up the meeting] excuse was that this would be ‘unwieldy and unproductive’.”The council said the invite was narrowed to “ensure a manageable discussion”.”