I love the new name for the combined library/theatre/cinema in Chester.  “Storyhouse” neatly combines the common elements of all three services that will be sharing the refurbished and expanded building.  In fact, it seems to me that story house neatly sums up libraries more than most terms, on many levels.  On the most basic grounds, there’s a ton of stories housed in a library. As I tell anyone, you can read about anything, be anyone, when you read a book from the library.  Moving further, the users of the library tell many stories to the experienced eye.  The student typing away using the wifi, the senior citizens catching up with eachother, children hopping around in delight, the quiet figure searching for a job … they all tell stories, not least how good the library is.  Further, the health or even presence of a library tells a story about the community which it serves.  A bustling library, in a good quality building,  filled with all kinds of people doing all kinds of things says wonderful things about the local neighbourhood. A dilapidated library building up for sale in Lincolnshire not so much. Ultimately, the health of the public library service can provide a narrative for how well a country is doing.  A thriving library service, full of new ideas – like I see in countries overseas – says so many positive things about that country.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide what story the current state of UK libraries tells.


National news

  • What I Didn’t Know Then – Leon’s Library Blog. “I wrote a post recently about the SCL not supporting the My Library By Right Campaign. I think it’s fair to say that my irritation and pique came through more strongly than perhaps intended. It appeared at the time to be a failure by the SCL to show what I considered to be fairly simple support for the profession, Cilip, and the incredibly important aim to encourage the DCMS to provide statutory guidance regarding the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act. My criticism therefore was somewhat intemperate. However, I am always ready to admit when either I have misunderstood something or made the wrong assumption. So here’s some things I didn’t know then about the SCL that I do know now – and many thanks to the SCL members who have spoken to me about the matter:”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Cumbrian poet Kim Moore leads poetry workshop at Keighley Library – Keighley News. “Award-winning Kim Moore, who lives in Barrow, will appear as part of Bradford Libraries’ Read Regional 2016 campaign”
  • Brighton and Hove – Warren Morgan: Hove Library is no longer fit for purpose – Brighton and Hove Independent. The last time Labour ran the city council, we built the award-winning Jubilee Library, one of the UK’s leading libraries and one which has only grown in popularity over the past decade. Under the Greens, library hours were significantly reduced and one – the much-loved mobile library – was closed. Money from the Labour government funded new library buildings in Coldean, Whitehawk and Woodingdean, but Conservative cuts seemed to destine those new facilities to be short-lived.” … “Hove will get a new library in an extended Hove museum, just a few hundred metres from the current site, closer to users, and with outdoor space and a cafe. In a council survey of over a thousand people, a majority of Hove library users backed the proposal to create the new cultural and community hub.” … “However, in a vote at the council committee which oversees libraries, Green councillors voted against these library proposals in their entirety, saying that Hove library should not move, but instead remain in the current building which costs huge sums to maintain and run.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – £37m Chester arts centre to be named Storyhouse – Liverpool Echo. “The venue, being named Storyhouse, is the country’s largest regional arts project currently under construction and will house a theatre which can switch between an 800-seat proscenium space and 500-seat thrust “festival” stage, along with a 150-seat studio and cinema. It will also be the home of Chester Library.” … “Arts Council chief executive Darren Henley added: “Storyhouse is a hugely ambitious project and we’re delighted to be working alongside Cheshire West and Chester, Chester Performs and Chester University as key partners in its development. “The announcement of its name represents a major milestone along the road to opening what will be a stunning, ground breaking venue for Cheshire.”” see also Chester’s new £37m cultural centre to be called Storyhouse – Chester Chronicle. “The announcement comes at the end of an extensive process, led by Manchester agency True North, which included a public consultation and work with the centre’s stakeholders and partners, including Cheshire West and Chester Council, Arts Council England, and principal sponsor MBNA” … “The integration of library services with arts organisations is a key strategic priority for Arts Council England “
  • Croydon – Croydon’s ambition for libraries is on the line – Save Croydon Libraries Campaign. “It’s not really clear how ambition features in what many view as a ‘fingers firmly plugged in the ears, hands firmly clasped across the eyes’ approach to tackling the issue at hand.” … “Rather than rip up the contract with Carillion, or hold Carillion to account for the service they are contracted to offer, Croydon Council has come up with… Ambitious for Libraries” … “Croydon residents valued their libraries and the experienced staff that delivered the service so well; a service now ripped to shreds by privatisation. They did not want to run their libraries, nor feel equipped to do so.  Whether or not the current administration is really ambitious to address the steep decline in Croydon library services, only time will tell.”
  • Darlington – “If you do not fight this cut, you will lose this library.” International bestseller Anne Fine signs petition to save Crown Street Library – Northern Echo. “author Anne Fine visited Darlington to make a passionate exhortation to its people to fight for their libraries. The Madame Doubtfire writer was in town on Thursday (March 17) to sign The Northern Echo’s petition to Save Crown Street Library”

“It’s very easy for them to wave shrouds but they are appointed to do a proper job and a proper job does not involve closing the main library in the town.” Anne Fine

Sadiq Khan, standing to be London Mayor, gets ambushed by Lambeth library defenders when he visited Camberwell Library in Southwark. Campaigners are angry that Labour's Lambeth is cutting libraries at the same time as his manifesto supports libraries.

Lambeth – Sadiq Khan, standing to be London Mayor, gets ambushed by Lambeth library defenders when he visited Camberwell Library in Southwark. Campaigners are angry that Labour’s Lambeth is cutting libraries at the same time as his manifesto supports libraries.

  • Lincolnshire – CP8975 Former Library Premises For Sale In Lincoln – Property Link. “The property is situated within the popular village of Washingborough which is located approximately 3 miles east of Lincoln City Centre. Washingborough has a good range of local facilities including several public houses, supermarket, Post Office with chemist, Chinese and an Indian takeaway and fish and chip shop. “
  • Lincolnshire – Donington Library reopens reopens on Wednesday as community hub – Boston Standard. “The hub project had support from Donington Parish Council and its clerk Diane Fairweather and district councillor Jane King, who is “thrilled” it is reopening.”
  • Lincolnshire – Welton library reopening confirmed – Market Rasen Mail. “Lincolnshire County Council closed the library on August 27 last year – and since then Welton Parish Council has been waiting to take over its operation, with delays caused by lease arrangements. “
  • Perth and Kinross – Top crime writer Alex Gray to judge this year’s William Soutar writing prize – Daily Record. “All winning and shortlisted entries will be published in eBook format and available to borrow from the libraries and information service’s eBook catalogue. Entry forms and competition rules are available from local libraries or can be downloaded from www.pkc.gov.uk/library”
  • Southampton – Future of five Southampton libraries threatened with closure secured – Southern Daily Echo. “Burgess Road Library will be headed by the Burgess Road Library Action Group – runin partnership with local-based charity Christ Church Southampton. Thornhill Library will be operated by newly formed local charity group Thornhill Community Library. The YMCA, a local community charity that has been serving the city since 1878, will provide a community library in the new unit when it is completed in Weston, while in the meantime services will continue from the portacabin. Cobbett Road Library will be run by two not for profit organisations Social Care in Action (SCA) and Unexpected Places in partnership with the Friends of Cobbett Road Library. In Millbrook, the library resources will be moved into the Solent NHS Trust Pickles Coppice Children’s Centre where the Sure Start Service is based.” see also Southampton libraries: Community groups to run threatened libraries – BBC.
  • Warwickshire – Demand to ‘shelve’ plans to close Nuneaton library on Sundays – Nuneaton News. “they voted a motion which rejects the Shire Hall proposals, and calls on the county council to find the funds to keep the town’s main library, as well as the one in Leamington and Rugby, open on Sundays. Cllr Jim Foster appealed to the cabinet to show some respect to the Shire Hall officers who work in the libraries section, as he says they are being pushed to save another £100,000.”

“”n particular, what I personally find already appalling is where many people who work in libraries have lost their jobs. Camp Hill Library is virtually closed and people were made redundant, it was brand new and was well used and now it’s gone. There are books there but there is no-one there to issue them, the door is shut most days of the week.” Nuneaton and Bedworth Council Leader

  • West Berkshire – ‘Funeral’ protest over West Berkshire library closures – BBC. “Campaigners holding gravestone-shaped placards marched through Newbury on Saturday” … “The march travelled to Conservative MP for Newbury Richard Benyon’s office. Campaigners said the changes could mean some people would be left with a 20 mile journey to visit a library.”
  • West Berkshire – Government steps in to delay library closures in West Berkshire – Guardian. Council told BBC that delay in closures was due to extra government funding but it has since found out that it was because DCMS had advised council the cuts were illegal in current form. “Nick Poole, chief executive of the libraries body Cilip, said he welcomed the intervention. “We are pleased to see decisive action by DCMS to maintain public libraries in West Berkshire and signs that government is prepared to intervene where councils may be considering cutting statutory services,” he said.”