It’s my favourite time of the year. No, not Christmas and not my birthday, or (ahem) my wedding anniversary but the start of the Summer Reading Challenge.  I love doing school assemblies promoting it and I’ve already had two whole junior school’s worth of children chanting “B F R”.  It’s the little things in life I enjoy.  And the impact that this has is lasting. I was in Asda the other week and a young man (16?) shouted “It’s Ian” and came up to talk to me.  Turns out he remembers the school assembly I did at this school six or seven years ago when I got them all chanting “Space Hop” (my assemblies don’t change that much) and was keen to tell me how he was doing and how he was going on to study further.  There’s a man who has a very positive association in his mind with libraries and an experience that is being repeated in its thousands up and down the country at the moment. So here’s to all the libraries, all the teachers and above all, all the children and parents who will make the Summer the busiest time of the year for libraries again this year. Long may it continue.



National news

  • Bibliotheca acquires open library experts Cordura – Bibliotheca. “bibliotheca A/S, a joint venture between bibliotheca Group and Axiell Group, is delighted to confirm the acquisition of Danish technology experts, and creators of one of Europe’s leading open library solutions, Cordura A/S”
  • Celebrating Shakespeare 2016 – the party goes on – Libraries Taskforce. “The national campaign, run by the Society of Chief Librarians and its partners, has had some notable successes so far. Library celebrations during Shakespeare Week 2016 saw a threefold increase in activity and engagement on the previous year. Selfie Saturday – a mass-participation event on April 23 which asked people to pick a quote, take a selfie, and share it via social media – exceeded all expectations. At least 85% of English library services took part, generating more than 6,000 tweets to #shakespeare16.”
  • Eighth meeting of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce – Libraries Taskforce. Includes “lessons learnt from setting up a mutual” and “The Taskforce discussed nationally building the case for investment, and developing a coordinated advocacy voice for libraries based on the value they contribute, were 2 things the Taskforce was uniquely placed to undertake and should be priorities in the Ambition action plan. This had come out strongly in all workshop sessions where participants said public libraries needed clear and unambiguous messaging that challenged existing stereotypes, based on robust data, supported by practical communications assets (posters, branding, etc) that could be used at local as well as national level.”
  • Libraries and the EU Referendum – Lauren Smith. “What seems clear to me is that people need support to help them find information, filter through the masses of information, make sense of the information, understand the biases and limitations of the claims being made and the purposes of the types of information they are encountering, and then work out what decision they want to make and how to act based on these decisions. These skills and actions are part of what librarians refer to as information literacy … But we’re not really doing that much about it” … ” library services are very restrained by what local councils are ‘comfortable’ with them providing in terms of political information, and where the overwhelming pressure to be ‘balanced’ often ends up in providing no information ” see also CILIP Statement on the EU Referendum result – CILIP.
  • Libraries – Bridging the Digital Divide – Welsh Libraries. “A report published by OFCOM (April 2016), which looks at the UK as a whole, estimated that 13% of people do not use the internet at all. However, this hides significant differences between demographic groups.  For example, a third of people aged 65 to 74 have no internet access at all and this rises to 65% of those aged 75+. The unemployed and people with disabilities are also groups with much higher levels of digital exclusion” … “50% of respondents came into the library because they didn’t have a computer at home, 46% had no printing facilities and 31% had no broadband access. The majority of people came to use email (48%), browse the internet (34%), look for or apply for a job (30%) or to use social media (20%). 25% of respondents needed help with printing or scanning documents, 22% needed help to use the computer and 10% needed help with job searches or uploading their CV.”

International news

  • Australia – Liberals face fierce rebellion on library cuts – Australian. “The debt-ridden Barnett government’s austerity drive has reached suburban libraries, where a fierce backlash to limits on book-borrowing is growing into a surprising political storm. Ending Perth’s inter-library loan system is expected to save the West Australian government just $1.7 million over two years. While council libraries generally have very limited stock, the inter-library loan system allowed ratepayers to borrow from across the city, including libraries where they were not members, and the books were ferried around by van. There is white-hot anger over the decision to cut the service, including in blue-ribbon Liberal state seats such as Cottesloe, held by Premier Colin Barnett. Yesterday at Mr Barnett’s local library, The Grove, staff opened the doors at noon and by 12.30pm had turned away two residents who wanted books ordered in from other libraries” … “Last year, 355,000 books and other items were loaned between libraries across Western Australia under the scheme that is now suspended. “Don’t they know how much people love their library books?” asked Shire of Peppermint Grove chief executive John Merrick.”
  • Eire – Consultants appointed to design County Library – Designing Libraries. “The proposed €8.6m project will replace the existing De Valera Library on Harmony Row. A full design team has been appointed to progress the design and planning phases of the new build project and the council anticipates that contractors could be on site during early 2017”
  • Malta – The funnybook revolution – Malta Times. “Hoping to add some life and relevance to our public libraries, Ryan Scicluna tells us why he’s started a  crowdfunding campaign to help create Malta’s first Graphic Novel Library” … “But before I could approach the library and ask them to buy comics for their collection, it dawned to me that unless a proper section is created, this material would be lost and forgotten. So first, I needed to create a demand for comics and graphic novels at the public library, which would then lead library patrons to ask for the material. This would also be used to promote the Junior’s Library collection and encourage more people to read. However, I realized I could not tackle this alone – I needed help from others. I surrounded myself with a number of other fellow comic book fans and together, we created the NGO known as Graphic Novels Library Malta (GNLM”
  • USA   – If a cat librarian isn’t safe from the government, then who is? – Washington Post. Public library cat forced out due to allergy fears. “Browser” was a good mouser, friendly and children used to read to him. see also Library Cat’s Job Is Saved – NPR. After a deluge of complaints, the town council decided the cat could stay. Thank goodness. “As Mayor Ron White tells it, according to the Associated Press, the cat was targeted in retaliation when a city worker was denied permission to bring a puppy to city hall.”

Local news by authority

  • Bexley – Libraries set to expand under new ownership – Bexley Times. “Two libraries in Bexley are to be transferred to new ownership, in a move that could lead to a bigger range of services, events, activities and opportunities. Bexley Village Library, which was the borough’s first community library, and Slade Green Library, were set up by Greener Bexley, but now they are on a secure footing the charity has decided to pass them on. From July 2016, Bexley Community Library will be managed by the Bostall Library Community Group, who recently took on the community management of Bostall Library. Slade Green Library will transfer to the management of Eco Communities, which currently runs the Slade Green and Howbury Community Centre.”
  • Blackpool – Many use them, even if you don’t – Blackpool Gazette / Letters. “As a disabled person, who has to use a mobility device, I cannot take advantage of swimming pools, gyms etc. but that does not mean that I am against sport and games. These are a wonderful recreation for those who are able to participate. It’s the same with libraries, they are there for those who want and are free to take advantage of the services they offer. But don’t begrudge something you cannot or do not use. “
  • Blaenau Gwent – Modernisation at Ebbw Vale Library – Designing Libraries. “”Ebbw Vale Library will have a modern feel, without losing the traditional features of the historic building, with a mix of old and new. The refurbishment will transform service delivery at Ebbw Vale, enabling greater community involvement, improved IT facilities and providing an opportunity to increase our partnership work with a wide range of organisations.”
  • Brent – Brent Libraries Continue to Improve – James Powney’s Blog. “The most recent Public Library User Services were made available at a brief meeting on Brent’s cultural services I attended yesterday.  Once again they are up in every category, although some only just.  It is another indication that Brent’s Libraries Transformation Project turned the library service around. “
  • Brent – Writers support Kensal Rise Library Fundraising Appeal – Save Kensal Rise Library (press release). “Maggie Gee, author of The White Family, and Nick Rankin, author of Ian Fleming’s Commandos, have donated £1,000 to the Kensal Rise Library Appeal to help re-open the library, following its 2011 closure by Brent Council and sale by All Souls College Oxford to property developers.  Maggie said: “In 2012 we left Kensal Rise after 26 years, but we still love the library that Mark Twain opened and that local people, including us, fought so long and hard for. The war is won, it’s time to fund the peace.”. The space is finally safe, but the community library needs complete renovation including flooring, plumbing, wiring, plus equipment and books” see also Writers donate to re-open Kensal Rise Library – BookSeller.
  • Darlington – Campaigners say Darlington deserves better after council agrees to cuts – Northern Echo. Includes protests at Crown Street Library.

“The Darlington Crown Street library move to the  Dolphin Centre was passed by the council on the 29th June, smashing the town heritage building that had been provided to the town by Edward Pease as a gift. The council did not listen to the public as it set about railroading the decision through. In doing so, it broke the hearts of all those who have supported the staff and the town. Surveys showed that no one wanted the library to be moved. The building will be sold off for profit for the council but the Labour council will generate more debt for the town people by borrowing money to created a new library in a leisure centre even so the council is vastly already in debt and over spent” Darlington – Email received.

  • Dorset – Dorset mobile library cuts finalized by county cabinet – BBC. “copyright Dorset County Council Image caption Three Dorset mobile library vehicles will be withdrawn by the end of the March. Three out of four of Dorset’s mobile library vehicles are to be taken off the road following a council vote. The plan, approved by the council cabinet, is aimed at saving around £126,000 over two years, as well as the cost of replacing vehicles. One of the county’s four mobile libraries will be retained to serve care homes and sheltered accommodation. The county council said people who were housebound would be able to have books delivered to their homes by volunteers. A contract with the Royal Voluntary Service, which is already providing home deliveries, is due to be extended. The council insisted older people who used the mobile libraries because of loneliness would be helped through befriending schemes”
  • Dudley – Dudley borough’s library opening times slashed by more than 100 hours – Dudley News. “From August 1, more than 100 hours will be lost each week at the 14 libraries and archive centre combined, which the local authority claim is due to “meeting the demands of budget cuts from central government”.  Four of the borough’s main libraries – Brierley Hill, Dudley, Halesowen, and Stourbridge – will each see their opening times reduced by 11.5 hours a week, while Sedgley Library will be closed for an extra 22.5 hours. Opening hours will also be drastically cut at the borough’s Archive and Local History Centre, as well as the libraries in Coseley, Cradley, Gornal, Kingswinford, Long Lane, Lye, Netherton and Wordsley. “
  • Fife – Fight to save Fife libraries continuing – Courier. “New chapters in book lending are being written in villages including Kinghorn, Pittenweem, Colinsburgh and East Wemyss. Earlier this year Fife Council rubber stamped the axing of 16 libraries by Fife Cultural Trust, but the closure of some was delayed to allow communities to develop alternative proposals. Among the projects underway is that of Kinghorn Library Renewed, a community group preparing a business plan to take over the management of Kinghorn Library.” … “A survey of residents brought forward more than 40 people willing to volunteer and donation pledges of more than £2,500.”
  • Glasgow – Glasgow attractions enjoy record-breaking year with resident visits over 18 million – Evening Times. “In the last financial year, Glasgow Life recorded a record-breaking 1.4m attendances at community facilities and over 5.2m at the city’s 32 community libraries and the Mitchell Library. Free wi-fi was rolled out across libraries, community facilities, public halls and major cultural and sporting facilities. There were 6.2m attendances across city sports facilities and Glasgow Life delivered 320 adult learning programmes, helping change the lives of more than 3,700 adults.”
  • Greenwich – Strike called to fight Greenwich mobile library cuts – Wharf. “Unite decide to carry out the 48-hour industrial action after councillors in the east London borough go ahead with plans to scale back services that deliver 33,000 books a year to children” … “According to the union, the mobile service delivers 33,000 books a year to children, an increase on last year’s 22,000. In a statement, Unite claimed children’s literacy was at stake and did not justify a “comparatively small” saving of £126,000.” see also 84 Greenwich Library Workers Battle To Save Books For Kids – Morning Star.
  • Haringey – New-look Tottenham library fully re-opens on Monday after £3m facelift – Haringey Advertiser. “The new-look hi-tech Marcus Garvey library in Tottenham is set to fully re-open from next week following its £3 million revamp-with other council services now also sharing the buildiing. Haringey Council has relocated some of its customer services to the building in Philip Lane from Apex House in Seven Sisters Road which is being demolished for housing. Re-named the Marcus Garvey Centre, the library has been partially open to the public to test facilities since Tuesday, but will be fully open from Monday” … “The facelift includes new state-of-the-art technology, a more spacious layout, modern furniture, 52 computers compared to the previous 22, a refurbished children’s library and an extra 22,000 new books.”
  • Lambeth – Library campaigners plan Rec protest – Brixton Blog. “Lambeth library campaigners will today (28 June) protest outside Briton Rec at 6pm. They will be demanding answers on the future of borough libraries – and also the Rec itself – from both Lambeth council and its leisure provider GLL. GLL, now renamed Better, runs the Rec and will run Lambeth’s Carnegie and Minet libraries after they are converted to “healthy living centres” incorporating gyms and a reduced library service.”
  • Lancashire – Mum’s library plea as fight hits parliament – Gazette. “A woman who is home schooling her autistic daughter has called on Lancashire County Council not to shut down a space in which she feels safe. Nicky Frankland, 40, from Thornton, saw her tale and that of five-year-old Belle being mentioned in Westminster last week when MP Paul Maynard took his battle to save two Wyre libraries to the halls of power.”
  • Lancashire – Pupils on march in fight for libraries – Gazette. “Around 60 year-five students from Manor Beach and Northfold schools in Cleveleys staged their own protest march – angry at County Hall proposals which would see their two local library branches close … Despite both schools being controlled by the County Council, pupils – led by their headteachers – marched through the streets with banners and placards, asking councillors to think again.” see video at Pupil power in battle to save libraries – Gazette.
  • Leicestershire – Two thirds of Leicestershire’s libraries to be run by volunteers – BookSeller. “Leicestershire county council is to transfer 26 libraries to community groups in order to help make £800,000 worth of savings. By the end of the month, more than two thirds of Leicestershire’s community libraries will be run by local groups, ITV news has reported. So far, 23 libraries have transferred, with more due to transfer throughout July. Councillor Richard Blunt, cabinet member for libraries, said: “I’m delighted that 23 communities are now running their village library and have lots of ideas to make them even more popular and well-used. The council has been carrying out further work with those communities which need more help with their plans and I’m confident that the vast majority of the 36 libraries will be community-run by next year.”” see also Third of Leicestershire libraries to be run by volunteers – ITV.
  • Lewisham – Library savings programme update – Lewisham Council. Forest Hill Library + Torridon Road to become volunteer/community managed, Manor House still looking for a “partner”, £1m cut.
  • Lewisham – Library Workers Strike 5th July – Save Lewisham Libraries. “Tuesday’s strike will be in solidarity with Greenwich library workers who are striking to save their mobile library. We stand in solidarity with teachers who will hold a national strike on the same day. The strike will help to build momentum for the vital lobby of Lewisham council on 13th July.”
  • Lincolnshire – Deepings Community Library launches new free bus service – Spalding Today.
  • Northern Ireland – Lisburn picket is new chapter in campaign – Lisburn Today. “Following weekend protests outside branches, the Hands Off Our Libraries Campaign’s Sean Burns said protesters meant to picket the Castle Street office of Lagan Valley MLA Mr Givan, whose own local library he described as being “on the chopping block””
  • Northern Ireland – Pawesome library challenge – Lurgan Mail. With animal themed events, animal books, puzzles and animal crafts, children across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to keep reading during the summer holidays. Simply bring your child along to the library and sign up for the challenge to read any number of books of your own choice (choose your personal target between 2 and 25 books), collecting an activity booklet and bookmarks along the way.”
  • Northern Ireland – Protest at cuts to Lurgan library today – Lurgan Mail. “Over recent years the number of hours the library is open has been significantly reduced … And there are further proposals to chop a further five hours from the service.”
  • Northern Ireland – World War One: Belfast ‘library men’ archive gives glimpse into frontline life – BBC. “During the war, 11 members of staff from Belfast public libraries enlisted in various regiments of the Army. More than 200 letters were exchanged between these ‘library men’ and the chief librarian between 1914 and 1919. They were written in order to receive the half-pay that Belfast Public Libraries continued to give their staff during war service.”
  • Powys – Deadline looms for library savings plan – Brecon and Radnor Express. “The council’s library service must save a quarter of a million pounds by April 2019 towards the authority’s overall £27m savings target with £100,000 having to be found by April 2018. A consultation on the library service and plans around how it could generate income, work with others and move libraries to other buildings closes on Sunday, July”
  • St Helens – Libraries’ arts programme backed by Johnny Vegas shortlisted for award – St Helens Star. “The project beat off stiff competition from over 600 organisations to reach the public voting stage in the annual search for the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects and is up against six others to be crowned the winner of the Arts category. Funded through National Lottery money it has enabled both established professional and emerging arts companies, performers and artists from across the country to bring their talents to St Helens with a diverse programme shown across the borough’s 13 libraries”
  • Sheffield – City libraries make the move to wireless – Star. Wifi now available in all paid libraries and “most” volunteer ones.
  • Sheffield – Libraries are more important than offices – Yorkshire Post / Letters. “Stannington Library is a small library about twice the size of two or three moored caravans, the kind you find at holiday parks on the Yorkshire coast. The building is modern and small, so overhead costs must be low. The staff were only part-time so they, too, can’t have cost that much. In the last few months, our council has borrowed tens of millions to build more shops and offices in the city centre which no one needs or wants, and which the council has admitted it has no idea how much it will benefit from financially. Yet we are told that the council cannot afford the three wonderful part-time library 
staff that we lost a couple of years ago”
  • Shropshire – Fresh talks over Church Stretton library’s future – Shropshire Star. “Shropshire Council has said it will open talks with community groups that might want to take the library on. It comes after controversial plans to move it to Church Stretton School were halted following two years of campaigning by supporters and an aborted legal challenge. Lee Chapman, Shropshire Councillor for Church Stretton and Craven Arms, said: “We are pleased we can now get back to work looking for a long-term solution for our library service and our visitor information service in Church Stretton.”
  • South Tyneside – Hebburn Central a success – Designing Libraries. “Since its opening a year ago the centre has become an integral part of the local community in South Tyneside. The venue has already won three awards and been shortlisted for a fourth. Hebburn Central includes a six-lane swimming pool, a learner pool with bubble pools, sauna and steam room, fitness suite, sports hall, dance studio, soft play area, library, learning centre and cafe, as well as meeting rooms, a customer service centre, local police help point and an outdoor multi-use games area.”
  • Western Isles – Consulting on library service – Stornoway Gazette. “A public consultation is taking place to review the community public libraries: Shawbost, Tarbert, Liniclate, Daliburgh and Castlebay. This will include looking at location, opening hours, use of technology and opportunities to work more closely with other Comhairle services and community groups. The consultation is part of a larger review, launched in 2015 with the Library Forward Plan, Seirbheis Leabharlainn airson an Àm ri Teachd : A Library Service for the Future. The plan aims to look at alternative ways of delivering the service in the future to ensure that the Comhairle delivers an up-to-date service.”
  • Wokingham – Wokingham libraries’ opening hours set to be extended – Get Reading. “Wokingham Borough Council has drafted plans to extend opening hours by 17.5 hours a week and make a number of other changes as it looks to meet the needs of a growing number of visitors. ” … “Self-service technology would also be installed so libraries can operate with less staff. The technology – which would be funded by contributions from housing developers – will allow visitors to check out or return books, pay fines and search for and reserve items. The council had also considered introducing unstaffed opening hours, but the plans were dropped after a number of residents raised concerns about the initiative during a public consultation .”
  • Worcestershire – Hagley Parish Council steps in to prevent further cuts at village library – Stourbridge News. “It’s only two years since the parish council had to intervene to stop the library closing altogether. Under the current arrangement, the parish council funds the cost of the library building while the county council maintains and funds the library service.” Parish council says “”We will also be seeking assurances from the county council that no further reviews or library cutbacks will be proposed. “It’s simply not fair to expect residents to pay twice for services they are already funding through their council tax”