There’s some great things going on in public libraries abroad: the drone that flies above a children’s library in Norway scanning RFID tags is getting a lot of publicity for example, but there’s a lot more besides. This post includes: the fantastic First 5 Forever campaign in Queensland which has really raised the profile and funding for libraries there; a superb library Instagram account (which itself includes lots of good ideas); getting fathers into libraries; a hilarious library promotional video and an example of a US library (why is it always US libraries? Don’t they have emergency services?) helping out in a crisis. I started off this blog six years ago to get an idea of what is going on nationally, and I think that has succeeded, but it’s equally as important to look at what is going on internationally, and to learn from it.  I hope you do too.

Not least because UK news is often somewhat depressing, of course – and we have consultations on library cuts announced in no less than three different councils this time – but we also have other trends. The pressure on parish and town councils to take over public libraries appears to be gathering apace.  In addition, it’s notable that the two library-led trusts – Suffolk and York – tend  to be reporting only good news. That may mean they’re brilliant or it may mean that they have excellent public relations, or both.



National news

Nearly 9 people visit a UK library every single second. I knew I was busy ...

Nearly 9 people visit a UK library every single second. I knew I was busy …

  • Beating Heart – Libraries in Regeneration – Surf. “The current context for community regeneration significantly restricts the resources available to place-based regeneration initiatives. In this contribution, Ken McKinlay argues that Scotland’s public libraries, regularly overlooked by the regeneration community, offer a wealth of potential and assets that can be effectively aligned with town centre action plans and other strategies” … “The Barrhead Foundry brings together libraries, sports, arts, learning and employability and business services under one roof. It is an extension of, and, more importantly, a re-imagining of, the former sports centre. With a bright, distinctive, glass frontage, it sits on the Main Street alongside other elements in Barrhead’s regeneration – health centre, offices, supermarket.”
  • BBC relaunches Love To Read campaign at Hay – BookSeller. “The campaign is the rebranded incarnation of the BBC’s year-long Get Reading campaign, launched at the end of last year, which aims to encourage people to read by recognising the work of well-known authors. It will culminate in a #LovetoRead Weekend on 5th and 6th November 2016″ … “The BBC is partnering with some of the UK’s leading literacy and literary organisations for #LovetoRead including Society of Chief Librarians, The Reading Agency, The Scottish Library and Information Council, National Literacy Trust, Book Trust, Scottish Book Trust, The Publishers Association and the Booksellers Association”
  • #LibraryAmbition: making it happen – Libraries Taskforce / Kathy Settle. “This blog follows up by looking at what people are saying about the sections on how we can make the Ambition happen.” … “All the workshops think making a strong case for what libraries offer and combating unhelpful stereotypes through a national campaign is a very high priority.” … “A (well-supported) suggestion was made that we should look to encourage local authorities and other public sector organisations to adopt a ‘libraries first’ approach to providing face to face services within communities. ” … “We asked whether people would find an Expectation Set (describing what an excellent library service should look like) and/or a voluntary accreditation scheme useful. People like the idea of having these benchmarks to encourage improvement, but feel more thought has to be given on ways to incentivise organisations to invest time and effort into undertaking the work needed to benefit from them. For example, could accreditation serve as a way to unlock availability of certain funding?”
  • Meg Rosoff condemns UK education policy as an ‘assault on childhood’ – Guardian. “Rosoff is the author of seven YA novels including the international bestseller How I Live Now. She was speaking as she received the SEK5m (£410,000) Astrid Lindgren Memorial award, the world’s richest prize for children’s literature, in Stockholm on Monday night. She told her audience that she had met “too many children” in the UK “who cut themselves with razors, starve themselves, who suffer depression and anxiety, who believe what the government tells them – that nothing is more important than exams. That art and music and books will not help them make money. That it is OK to close libraries and do away with librarians.”” see also Rosoff slams government for ‘assault on childhood’ – BookSeller.
  • Meg Rosoff – Chris Riddell Sketchbook. Children’s laureate illustrates speech by Meg Rosoff decrying the Government “stealing children’s childhoods” and closing libraries.
  • Resilience in the workplace: Managing stress and anxiety – UK Lib Chat. Twitter chat on 7th June. “The chat sessions starts with general introductions and then we move on to the discussion topics.  We also have a companion blog post with a list of useful resources and opinions in the field on Building Resilience
  • What to read with a two year old? – librarians to the rescue – ASCEL. “Philip Ardagh has written an open letter to Simon Cowell in response to his comments that the books he is reading to his son are “quite boring”. Philip said “A good librarian can point you in the direction of some amazing books for your son. There really are some wonderful children’s books waiting to be shared, and a professional librarian can help you access them”. ASCEL never can resist a challenge and we’ve enlisted librarians across the country to provide a list of stories which have been tried, tested and loved by two year olds.”

International news

  • Australia – First 5 Forever: a family literacy initiative for Queensland – State Library of Queensland. “First 5 Forever  is based on more than four years of consultation, research and pilot programs through the Libraries for Literacy Framework. The evidence shows that local libraries, through their targeted programs and services, are well placed to respond to the local needs of children and families … Public libraries are the only government agency available to children and their families from babyhood, providing year-round, free access to resources and services that support language, reading and literacy “
  • Australia – Noosa Library Service – Instagram. A  good example of a public library using an Instagram account. [Look at all the staff and equipment – the difference between Australian and UK budgets is very obvious – Ed.]
  • Canada – A father’s impact on a child’s life and the library – Edmonton Public Libraries. “We are creating opportunities that build upon the literacy activities most fathers are already doing with their children. “By offering this program, we hope to create a ‘special event’ for fathers and their children, in which their time reading, playing and creating together at the library helps to strengthen the natural bond that already exists between them.”
  • USA – 2016 Livonia Public Library Summer Reading Program … Parkour – YouTube. Superb, hilarious, video showing some serious stunts in libraries. “Do you need a book recommendation? Have you ever seen a librarian stunt double? Check out our 2016 Livonia Library Summer Reading video featuring Phoenix Freerunning Academy and our very limber librarians. Jump into action on June 4, 2016 by grabbing a reading log at any of the Livonia Public Libraries”
  • USA – Flint Water Emergency – Flint Public Library. An example of a public library helping out in a crisis.
  • USA – Food for Thought Days @ your library – Tuscarawas County Public Library System. “Purchase lunch from a local food truck or restaurant to enjoy with coworkers, friends, or family in the open-air library that we’ll create for you.  These will be seating, music, and an opportunity to get a library card. You can get your gadget questions answered or check out new and popular materials while you enjoy our open-air library. “

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Have your say over Barnet’s future library service – This is Local London. “In partnership with Barnet council, individuals, community groups, not-for-profit and voluntary organisations are invited to help run the East Barnet, South Friern, Mill Hill and Childs Hill libraries. The new Partnership libraries are part of recent plans to reshape the library service that will keep all 14 libraries open. Cllr Reuben Thompstone, Chairman of Children Education Libraries and Safeguarding committee, said it is a “unique opportunity for local groups and residents.”
  • Bracknell Forest – Funding cuts at Bracknell Forest Council may see Bracknell library service threatened – Bracknell News. “Four engagement events will be held across the borough this June in addition to an online survey and paper questionnaires. The events will give residents the chance to share their thoughts on how to adapt the library service to meet the financial challenges whilst still providing a good service”
  • Bury – Libraries at risk in Bury as council looks to make further savings after government cuts – Manchester Evening News. “Bury council says it must find ways of delivering savings over the next four years whilst continuing to meet its legal duties to provide ‘comprehensive and efficient’ services. The report says: “The council remains fully committed to retaining a high quality library service in the borough but anticipates that there will need to be changes, including the possibility of a reduction in the number of libraries.”
  • Cumbria – Council consults on changes to library opening hours in South Lakeland – Westmorland Gazette.
  • Darlington – Darlington councillors fail to back campaign to save library – Northern Echo. “As few as three councillors have pledged their support to The Northern Echo’s campaign to save Darlington’s central library from imminent closure. A poll of the town’s 50 borough councillors revealed the majority have yet to declare any interest in supporting the campaign or the petition, which has so far attracted almost 7,000 signatures. We contacted all 50 of the borough’s councillors to ask if they had signed the petition to save Crown Street library – but only 20 replied. Of those, seven declared their support although just three said they have actually signed the petition – Liberal Democrats Anne-Marie Curry and Fred Lawton and independent Kevin Nicholson.”
  • Lambeth – Libraries war of words continues – Brixton Blog. “In a letter to Peck, Friends of Lambeth Libraries chair Laura Swaffield appeals for a meeting to discuss the issues, saying that exchanging letters is not a good substitute. She said that there was “no sign – even now – of even a basic business plan” for four of Lambeth’s ten libraries,  which face closure or conversion to “heathy living centres”. “Set against this, all you can do is seize on a mistake I made quoting one figure. That looks a bit desperate.”
  • Oldham – Thieves are stealing reference books from Oldham libraries to sell online – Manchester Evening News. “Staff at libraries across Oldham believe about £7,000 worth of reference titles [From context, I think these are non-fiction lending rather than reference stock – Ed.] have been taken in two months – with crooks checking the value of the books first on smart phones” … “The brazen crooks have taken out library membership under false names to get access to non-fiction books and are suspected of selling them via a specialist app. In one incident, a woman member of the gang walked out with scores of books hidden in a pram.” … “They target non-fiction books, manuals, and guides, for things like gardening and plumbing. These books, often with many photographs in, are worth £30 to £40 each.” The gang has struck at about six libraries in Oldham, Failsworth, and Uppermill.”
  • Sheffield – Festival to inspire city’s outdoor adventurers – Star. “The Outdoor City Adventure Book Festival is a first for Sheffield Libraries and will be an opportunity for people who love outdoor adventure to spend two days immersed in literature, film, poetry and crafts.”
  • Suffolk – ‘Back to school’ for Suffolk’s smallest library that is on the move – Diss Express. “Debenham Resource Centre, in Cross Green, is moving from its current home to take up a larger space within Sir Robert Hitcham Primary School … It will feature wheeled shelving, as well as being more accessible for school children.”
  • Swindon – Youngsters urged to get creative as libraries campaign launches poster and poetry competition – Swindon Advertiser. ““The issue was among the top election topics at the recent Borough Council elections and the campaigners have now been invited as key stakeholders to input to the draft strategy due to be presented to the Cabinet and Council in the next few months” … “The campaign is looking now to younger library users to get creative and write a poem or design a poster under the theme Love My Library.” ” [Volunteer from Walcot Library complains campg
  • Telford – Six Telford libraries are saved from the axe – Shropshire Star. “After consultation with residents, the council said it would continue to run Newport and Madeley Library but review opening hours. Town councils covering Dawley, Donnington and Stirchley libraries along with the the Hadley Learning Community supported by Hadley and Leegomery Parish council agreed to take over the running of their libraries. Nobody came forward to run the borough’s mobile library. The changes mean that now all the borough’s libraries can be kept open, with changes to opening hours, more self-service machines and a charge for services like ancestry searches.”
  • Westminster – Hamlet Re-telling The Book’s The Thing Comes To Westminster Reference Library – Broadway World. “Librarian Theatre are a new theatre company who create shows based on classic plays and stories, and adapt them to be performed between the bookshelves at libraries and bookshops. Having been on a huge tour of the country they are doing their final date on 3rd June 7.30pm Westminster Reference Library before touring a new show in autumn 2016.” … “Librarian Theatre have been working in partnership with Hertfordshire Libraries since last June, and the initial idea was met with widespread support when they crowdfunded over £6,000 in October to get the project started, with praise shared on Twitter from big literary names such as Margaret Atwood, Mark Haddon and Joanne Harris, and an article about the campaign featured in The Stage. In early 2016 Arts Council England awarded a grant of just under £49,000 from National Lottery funds to support the production on a 10 week tour to over 40 UK libraries.”
  • York – York libraries could be in line for a huge funding boost – York Press. “Explore York Libraries and Archives was formally given charitable status by the tax office this year, a move the organisation’s boss says will open up a whole world of philanthropy and giving. The mutual organisation presented its annual report to councillors last week, and chief executive Fiona Williams spoke to members of a learning and culture committee about progress in the last year.” … “A new website has launched, and good news has also come from the Arts Council which has confirmed a £97,000 grant to York Explore over the next three years, to develop it as a “cultural hub” for the city.”

“Getting charitable status is crucial to financial plans for the organisation as it can now look into things like Gift Aid and payroll giving to encourage people to support the libraries financially”