The news that it is costing Lambeth more money to guard its closed libraries than it would have cost to keep them open is a new low in the odd way that some councils treat libraries. Some councillors, of all political stripe, have shown themselves adept at making an already bad situation worse. Barnet, for example, managed to tender out its library computer system without adequate maintenance safeguards, meaning a loss of library data (and inconvenience to staff) months ago still encumbering them now. Other councillors simply do not understand the important work libraries do, or wish to make some sort of point – be it about the wonderfulness of the BIg Society or the evils of Austerity or whatever. It’s good therefore that people are willing to protest, as was the case in Lewisham this weekend with hundreds protesting.  I wonder how many countries can say traffic delayed due to library campaigners? Well, the UK joined the undoubtedly short and tragic list this weekend.



  • Tactile reading – Briefcases containing architectural models.
  • Workrary – Non-profit company leases out libraries as business workplaces.

National news

  • Mythomania – Leon’s Library Blog. “Many have an high expectation of Labour rolling back the devastating damages done to public services and libraries. Given the sheer lack of interest by the previous and current shadow minister in the issue, campaigners are unlikely to see a viable alternative to Tory policy developed anytime soon. In fact given how quickly culture shadow ministers come and go it’s unlikely any will have time to develop a proper response.”
  • Wimbletech – Wimbletech CIC. “Working with local Councils to transform under-utilised space, within public libraries (and other!) buildings, into sustainable, affordable, co-working and community hubs – this support libraries in 3 x ways: Generate sustainable revenue; Increase footfall and awareness; Deliver free community events. Are you a Council with under-utilised space?”

International news

  • Australia – Dangerous books behind lock and key: Exploring Australia’s hidden library collections – ABC. “at the National Library of Australia (NLA), in a padlocked room known as a giftschrank, lies the country’s biggest collection of completely off-limits materials. While it might seem odd in the age of the internet, the location of the room cannot be revealed. It contains more than 200 books deemed not appropriate for public access, including unauthorised biographies, true crime and guides to euthanasia. Behind the locked doors are copies of books on Schapelle Corby and Eddie Obeid that the courts deemed to be defamatory.”
  • France – Sensibilisation à la lecture tactile et au patrimoine architectural – Bibliotheques dans la cite (via Google Translate). “The Toulouse Libraries offer briefcases allowing Awareness tactile reading and architectural heritage for the visually impaired and to raise awareness of visual impairment …”After a first internship tactile reading organized at the Library José Cabanis, by the City of Science in June 2010 and the acquisition in 2012 of custom-built cases for the Toulouse library around the architectural heritage of the city, regular workshops awareness architectural heritage were then introduced.”
  • Ukraine – In Ukraine, a ‘Living Library’ helps ease tensions between displaced persons and hosts – Big News Network. ” Experiencing the story of a person displaced in Ukraine ” the suffering, joys, feelings of alienation and social exclusion, but also the sense of belonging ” is possible for communities hosting the displaced persons due to a United Nations project that has turned testimonies into “books” in a so-called Living Library. “People become becoming living books. They give all these stories and record them and bring them all together into a library that other people can consult,”
  • USA – February Poll Results: Libraries and Civic Engagement – OCLC Webjunction. “In our February 2016 WebJunction Crossroads poll, we explored the ways in which public libraries support civic engagement. This concept has been applied in a number of different ways, ranging from services and programs for newcomers, resources for voters in a representative democracy, or supporting the civil and civic rights of an engaged and informed citizenry. We’re just beginning to learn more about these terms and approaches, and recognize that some of them may be new to libraries too. We asked readers to reflect on and respond to the questions below to help us understand how libraries are approaching this work in their communities. In addition to the charts summarizing the 44 responses, we’ve included a short list of resources with examples of ways libraries are engaging with their communities in these areas.”
  • USA – GOP reinstates usage of ‘illegal alien’ in Library of Congress’ records – GOP News Hour. “Republicans on a powerful House panel Tuesday narrowly defended a tea party-fueled move to tell the Library of Congress how to label immigrants living in the country illegally.”

Local news by authority

  • Brighton and Hove – The next chapter of Hove Library saga – Brighton and Hove Independent. “The estimated cost of repairs to Hove Library is being scrutinised by independent surveyors, after opposition to the council’s controversial plans. A senior Labour councillor has since criticised the ‘unholy alliance’ between the Greens and Conservatives over Hove Library – and said it had cost the taxpayer £10,000.” … “Now, independent surveyors have been called in to re-evaluate the cost of repairing the building (Labour says this could cost £750,000 over five years), costing thousands of pounds.” … “If the Libraries Plan is approved, the 1908 Carnegie building is set to be sold off by the council.”
  • Cheshire West and Cheshire – Chester libraries launch Summer Reading Challenge – Chester Today. “Cheshire West and Chester Council’s libraries say  that the Summer Reading Challenge theme for 2016 is the Roald Dahl-inspired “Big Friendly Read”. The challenge encourages children aged 4 to 11 to read six books during the long summer holiday.  There is a different theme each year and children can read any library books they like – fact books, joke books, picture books, e-books or even audio download books. There will be rewards including stickers and “rainbow glasses” when they visit the library after reading a couple of titles.  There’s a certificate and medal for everyone who reads at least six books.”
  • Coventry – The libraries that offer sexual health services and cancer support – Guardian. “Coventry’s Central Library runs health-related events and a mental health drop-in service, reaching people that the NHS can’t” .. “You expect to see books in a library. You might not expect free sperm keyrings – available in classic white or translucent with red sparkles – along with the offer of sexual health advice and 60-second HIV tests. That is why staff from the Coventry and Warwickshire partnership NHS trust’s integrated sexual health service set up a stand in Coventry’s Central Library every Thursday. “Being here, we get to the people who can’t get to us,” says Steven Clay, a senior sexual health nurse. People who don’t want to visit a sexual health clinic after work can visit the library on their lunch break, where staff can carry out tests and provide advice in a private meeting room. “Some people say I’ve seen the sign but I don’t want to come over because I’m embarrassed. So I text back and say come straight to meeting room three,” says Clay.” … “The foreign zone has leaflets from the charity on cancer symptoms in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu as well as details of its multilingual support line, which are unmissable in the middle of the library’s books in these languages.”

“Kim Diprose, information and support programme manager at Macmillan, says that about a dozen of its 200 information services are run with library services, with Glasgow city council having set up information points in all its 33 libraries and regular advice sessions in more than half. The charity is assessing their effectiveness.”

  • Kent – Sevenoaks mobile library stop-offs halved – is your area affected? – Sevenoaks Chronicle. £150k cut will see all stops with average of two or fewer visitors ended. 64% of people in consultation agreed to this.
  • Lambeth – Council closed libraries to cut costs, then spent more to guard them – Guardian. “Details of the security costs at the libraries, run by targeted, the money paid for private security was almost twice the usual running costs. The two sites – the Carnegie library in Herne Hill, south-east London, and the Minet library nearby – closed their doors on 31 March before planned works to turn each one into a “community hub”, a combination of a largely unstaffed library and a private gym. The Labour-run council said this was the only option to keep both libraries open amid massive central government cuts to local authority budgets.”
  • Lancashire – Council denies filming ban on protest videos at under-threat libraries– Fleetwood Today. “County Coun Andrea Kay is now claiming those opposed to the closure plans are being barred from filming inside or outside County property. It’s a claim which has been denied by County Hall who say no such order has been issued to library staff. Coun Kay, who represents Cleveleys, said campaigners had complained to her about being banned from filming. She said: “All we want to do is show the powers-that-be just what they are proposing will mean.”
  • Lancashire – Morecambe Library self-service plans are ‘bum deal’ for town – Visitor. Self-service machines criticised. Cuts are “A kick in the teeth for staff”.
  • Lewisham – Hundreds protest against Lewisham library cuts – BBC. “Hundreds of people took to the streets of south-east London to protest against planned cuts to library services. The march from Lewisham Library to the Town Hall even stopped traffic as Transport for London warned of delays in the area. The march was also in support of striking Unison members who work at libraries in the borough. Lewisham Council said changes to the service would ensure a “sustainable library provision”.”

“… We were joined by others from Barnet, Bromley, Enfield, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark.  The  Pensioners’ Forum and Health Action Group as well as People Before Profit joined in as well as library users of all ages.  We were a really good mix with one thing in common, save our libraries … The photographer from the Independent reckoned there were about 400 present …” Email from Lewisham library campaigner

  • Suffolk – Library’s combined help desk to provide ‘better customer service’ – East Anglian Daily Times. “A new ‘one stop shop’ for council customer services has been officially opened in a Suffolk library.” … ” £60,000 project is part of Suffolk Coastal’s move from headquarters in Melton Hill to Riduna Park, near Melton railway station, later this year. Woodbridge Library staff will share a new help desk with members of the district council’s customer service team. A private interview room and quieter area for accessing computers, reading or studying are also part of the refurbishment project – work on which began in February and continued while the library remained open.”
  • West Berkshire – Council refuses to release library closure legal advice – Newbury Today. “West Berkshire Council has refused to disclose what legal advice it was given regarding the proposed closure of eight libraries. Many have questioned whether the council’s original plan to close all but one of the district’s libraries was legal. Under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, local authorities have a statutory duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service. Campaigners have argued that keeping one library open could not be considered comprehensive or efficient. The council has admitted that it had to take advice from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)  and its own legal team , given the “vague nature” of the Act, but said it ‘challenged’ claims that its original proposals were illegal.”