The new libraries minister has spoken, showing an interest in the field and an awareness of the Taskforce, amongst other things. He points out that his interest in volunteering has a bearing in libraries, which will be seen as a bad omen by many (especially paid staff) but he does single out young volunteers, which suggests he’s thinking more in terms of Reading Hacks.  It’s a good thing he has already had at least one meeting with public libraries people, anyway.


National news

  • Hollowing out of children’s library services? New survey – CILIP. “We are pleased to publicise this survey by Catriona Robertson on the state of children’s library services in UK public library services and whether they are being “hollowed out”.  Catriona is a postgraduate student on the MSc Information and Library studies course at the University of Strathclyde. CILIP is exploring the potential of working with students doing their dissertations as part of MA/MSc courses in library and information studies to cover topics of interest to CILIP. The research remains their own but it has been formulated in discussion with CILIP and, in this case, YLG.  We do encourage you to complete this survey by 11pm on 2 August 2016. We hope it will provide valuable insights into what children’s librarians believe is taking place in the services they provide.”
  • Libraries – Bridging the Digital Divide – Welsh Libraries. “Libraries across Wales play a major role in helping huge numbers of people get online. They have over 3,750 computers available across the network.  Welsh people used over 1.6 million hours of free computer access in libraries during 2014-15.”
  • Library cuts revolt spreads throughout south London – Socialist Worker. “Library campaigners blocked roads and library entrances to prevent the books being removed from three of Lambeth’s closed libraries in south London last Saturday.” … “Last week library workers in Lewisham, south east London, struck in defence of local libraries. The Unison union members oppose the Labour council’s plans to close four libraries. Unite union struck against the Labour council’s closure of Greenwich’s mobile library service. And hundreds also marched through Bromley against Tory council library cuts”
  • Nielsen LibScan Public Library borrowing data Period 5 (to 21 May 2016) with a Literature, Poetry and Criticism focus – Nielsen. “Library loans for Period 5 of 2016 (ending 21 May) were down year-on-year by 10.7%, from 5.9m to 5.3m. Library loans have also declined by 6.2% when compared with Period 4 of 2016 (to 23 April) mostly due to the Easter Holidays influencing an increase in loans for Period 4 against the previous period.
  • New libraries minister – DCMS. First letter from new libraries minister Rob Wilson MP. “This exciting new opportunity fits well with my existing role as Minister for Civil Society (previously in the Cabinet Office). There are a number of overlaps between my Civil Society work and what you are trying to achieve in public libraries, for example: encouraging volunteering, particularly of younger people; exploitation of new governance models (like mutuals, trusts and co-operatives) and new funding opportunities (such as social investment bonds and crowd-funding); and the importance of co-creation of services alongside the local community.” … “look forward to working with you and to discussing ambitions for public libraries in England.”
  • A week is a long time in politics – Libraries TaskForce. Ambition document delayed due to political changes. Rob Wilson MP “is also keen to look at ways to make libraries sustainable for the longer-term and wants to make sure that opportunities arising from his work with civil society, particularly on mutuals and new funding streams such as social impact bonds, are investigated thoroughly to see how they might support further development of the public library sector.


  • Denmark – Dokk1: Impressions of an impressive library – Designing Libraries. “Denmark’s Dokk1 is helping to redefine the concept of ‘library’ as an urban, cultural, creative, community space that will serve as a benchmark for the ambition for libraries throughout the world. Alan Clark, an adviser to Designing Libraries, paid a visit. Here are his impressions of an impressive library space.” [Loads of services and investment but, to my eye, architecture and interior design looks very bland and concrete-like – Ed.]
  • Indonesia – The microlibrary made from ice cream buckets – Designing Libraries. “The architectural concept, say Dutch architects SHAU, is to free the ground for multiple functions, while the library is elevated at the second floor. Continuous stairs allow additional seating area. The facade material is made by recycling used plastic ice cream buckets. The pattern on the façade is a binary coding of a message by Mayor Ridwan Kamil, which translated means ‘Books are the windows to the world’. “
  • USA – The Surprising Political Power Of Libraries – Establishment. ” “Did you know that our Health display is all diet books? All of them!” … “The public library is considered a bipartisan environment, and many library systems have explicit policies to that effect. But there are many types of political statements beyond partisanship, and it would be a mistake to equate bipartisanship with neutrality.” … “Library policies can inadvertently serve as a referendum on poverty, either positive—as when toys and computers are accessible to the public—or otherwise. Edicts against sleeping in the library are particularly overt attacks on homeless patrons, and yet many urban library systems continue to adopt and enforce these policies against their most vulnerable community members.”

Local news by authority

  • Blaenau Gwent – Not long to wait for new-look Ebbw Vale Library as opening date and events announced – Wales Online. “The refurbished facility will re-open its doors on Monday, August 1, and members of the public will have their first access to a re-designed IT suite and a new community room” … “Ebbw Vale is the last of the six Aneurin Leisure libraries in Blaenau Gwent to benefit from refurbishment works – and the project is made possible by funding from the Welsh Government , which was allocated in April 2015. “
  • Bromley – March in Bromley takes the road in protest at council cuts and privatisation – Socialist Worker. “Library workers held an eight-day strike. Christina, a librarian, told Socialist Worker, “Even after a year we still get a lot of really positive support from people who use the libraries. “They know what they have to lose.”” … “Library campaigns from other London boroughs joined the march. They included striking Unite members from neighbouring Greenwich and Unison union members from Barnet in north London.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Crewe’s £15m Lifestyle Centre creates waves – Designing Libraries. “It was important for the people of Crewe to see that the volume of library stock was not going to be compromised in the move from their much loved old library. Demco carried out an audit of the old library and then planned the new space to fit in all the existing stock. The existing steel shelving was then upcycled and wrapped in vibrant white, with end panels to look light and fresh. New shelving with built-in lighting becomes an avenue of popular fiction, ending in an eye-popping lime green wall”
  • Derby – Nearly half of Derby library jobs at risk – Derby Telegraph. “The Derby Telegraph previously reported how the authority’s preferred option for its library service is to close Central Library, Wardwick, and move the city centre service to the Council House. That service, plus Alvaston and Pear Tree libraries, the city’s Local Studies Library, Family History Library, and home library service would continue to be run by the council. But the council would look to hand over libraries in Allenton, Allestree, Blagreaves, Chaddesden, Chellaston, Derwent, Mackworth, Mickleover, Sinfin, Spondon and Springwood Leisure Centre, to be run by volunteers. If this wasn’t achieved, they would close.”
  • Enfield – Age UK Enfield move into Ponders End Library – Enfield Independent. “Age UK Enfield has moved into Ponders End Library as part of Enfield Council’s plan of sharing library space, and responsibility for running them, with voluntary and community groups. The four biggest libraries – Enfield Town, Edmonton Green, Palmers Green and Ordnance Unity Library – will continue to provide regular library services along with community events. “
  • Islington – Fewer books and more computers at Islington libraries – Islington Gazette. ““At Finsbury Library [in St John Street], having more computer terminals reversed a long-term decline in usage. Students are coming in to do homework, for example.” Cllr Watts added that in the face of government cuts, “we want to look at using our buildings more cleverly”.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Labour letter from 1999 shows how Council planned to close the Carnegie Library 17 years ago – Brixton Buzz. “Fast forward to July 2016 and Lambeth Council is closing the Waterloo, Minet and Carnegie libraries; the Joint Upper Norwood library is being handed over to volunteers. The Tate South and Durning are both due to close, once a new single location in the north of the borough can be found. Cllr Dickson is still part of the New Labour Cabinet, finally getting to push through his original plans to close the Carnegie.”
  • Lancashire – Closure of Lancashire’s libraries and museums – Hansard. Graham Jones MP (Labour)  “I rise to present a petition relating to library and museum closures in Lancashire. It declares that local libraries in the borough of Hyndburn should not be closed. The Government’s cut of £262 million to Lancashire County Council’s funding so far has led to the proposed closure of some 40 libraries and several important museums. In addition to the several hundred signatures on this written petition, 6,000 people from across Lancashire have signed a petition on the e-petition website. Both petitions call on the Government to prevent an irreversible and damaging attack on Lancashire’s heritage, which will never recover. It is paramount that the Government work with Lancashire County Council to ensure that these institutions are not closed after the 12-week consultation period is completed.” 
  • Newcastle – Proposals to cut Newcastle libraries opening hours deemed ‘worrying’ – Chronicle. “Opening hours at nine libraries across Newcastle could be cut from 469 hours per week to 201 hours should proposals put forward by Newcastle City Council be approved. A consultation is now underway and some libraries opening hours could be more than halved.” … ““We would like to maintain our current core library network but unfortunately Government cuts are so severe that we are having to consider reducing opening hours in order to avoid closing any libraries.”
  • Pembrokeshire – New chapter for Narberth library after closure threat – Milford Mercury. “The facility is now community managed in a three-way partnership between the Friends of Narberth Library, Narberth Town Council and Pembrokeshire County Council’s cultural services department. The Friends were formed following the prospect of losing the town’s historic and much-loved library to cutbacks. The group has around 20 volunteers who will help to run the library, with the town council has taken on the lease of the building and its running costs.”


  • Reading – Library Service Review – Reading Council. Complete details of suggested cut and changes to libraries. “In discussion with the Reading College Principal/Group Director, it was proposed that the College could run the current branch library through its supported employment programme for young people with learning difficulties, in partnership with RBC. The College have proposed that Learning Support Assistants could be trained in the day to day running of a branch library. They could then be based at the Library, supporting work-based placements of young people with learning disabilities to provide a service. This might require some level of RBC staffing either directly or as support but at a significantly reduced level and this could probably be tapered down from start-up”
  • Sheffield – Urgent plea to ‘use Sheffield libraries or lose them’ as volunteer centres show declines – Star. “New figures obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request reveal book lending at almost all volunteer-run libraries is falling. But most of Sheffield’s council-run libraries have shown a year-on-year increase in book lending – after a big slide in 2014 – suggesting the service is beginning to recover.”
  • Staffordshire – Charity volunteers take on job of running Blythe Bridge Library – Stoke Sentinel. 26 volunteers now open libraries at lunchtimes when it was closed before. Language classes also introduced.
  • Swindon – Council announces plan to put library strategy to the public – Swindon Advertiser. “The strategy was met with vocal opposition from libraries campaigners as well as Labour, the Lib Dems and the Green Party. It attracted regional and even national news coverage. It will now be put to the public through a consultation process which is set to begin next month. Coun Mary Martin, the Cabinet member responsible for libraries, said: “We want as many people as possible to have their say on the new library strategy as their views are really important to us.”

“The single public meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 6, at St Joseph’s Catholic College on Ocotal Way between 7pm and 9pm. It is likely that the decision not to hold multiple public meetings was taken to avoid the likely impasse that would unfold in an open public setting. Given the strength of opinion over libraries and the ability of campaigners to turn out in high numbers, it is entirely likely that those advocating for the strategy would have been overwhelmed by opposition to their plans. “