I’ve just had a very sunny week in Norway hence this is a combined news summary for the period since August 10th. So it’s a big one. The main news is the reduction in library usage – from, roughly, one half to one third of the population – in the last decade. That’s quite a steep decline. Public library popularity have also reduced in other countries of course but from the figures I have seen the reductions in budgets and usage are less, offset by increased visitors for “non-traditional” services and a slower decline in traditional numbers because, well, the stock is still good and the maintenance and furniture budget means they’re still attractive places to go. It’s also not helped, of course, by a rampant misunderstanding of the purposes of public libraries by some free-market extremists in this country – step forward the Adam Smith Institute below – who are positively gleeful at the destruction of something whose value they cannot, or will not, understand.

I’m glad to see that there will be a national libraries (and museums and galleries) demonstration on 5th November, an easy date to remember, to heighten the awareness of what is being lost.



National news

  • At some point the public library will become obsolete – Adam Smith Institute. [Extreme capitalist celebrates the decline of UK public libraries, carefully ignoring their good points and the reasons for the decline other than the ones that suits his world view – Ed.]
  • Bring the Tories to book over library cuts – Guardian / Letters. Two letters, one from Alan Gibbons and the other one states “Could it be that the major decline in library usage a result of extensive closures since the imposition of George Osborne’s ill-conceived austerity programme? In my experience areas such as Walsall where libraries have (so far) been retained have seen an increase in use.”
  • Cartrefi llyfrau Cymru – BBC. “Wales has a long tradition of literature, and of course, we need places dedicated to protect. There is concern that many of our libraries are closed, but there are still a large number of them in Wales – some slightly different from each other:”.  Looks at several different libraries in Wales. Article is in Welsh.
  • Corbyn backs national libraries demonstration – BookSeller. “Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged his “100% support” to a national libraries demonstration which aims to highlight the “clear and present danger” to Britain’s public library service. The demonstration, backed by unions such as Barnet Unison, The PCS Cultural Union, Unite the Union and Campaign for the Book, will take place on 5th November and see campaigners come together to protest the “crisis” in the library service.”

“Libraries, museums and galleries are pulic assets which help to celebrate and promote the rich cultural diversity of our communities,” Corbyn said. “I want to thank the organisers of this event for bringing together this social movement to resist the attacks by this Tory government and for promoting these precious public services” …. “John McDonnell, shadow chancellor, added that he would be joining the march on the 5th November. “The Tories…have waged a six-year war on our libraries, museums and our galleries,” he said. “These valuable public services which reflect, support and celebrate the rich diversity of our communities should be nourished, not destroyed.”

  • Désertées, les bibliothèques britanniques finiront-elles par être obsolètes ? – Actualitte. Covers the cuts in usage reported by the DCMS Taking Part survey and covers quotes by various (including myself and Laura Swaffield) from the BookSeller.
  • First Minister’s Reading Challenge kicks off – Scottish Government. “Children across Scotland will take up the challenge to read from a list of up to 100 books throughout the new school year as part of a Scottish Government initiative.” … “The First Minister met pupils from South Morningside Primary School in Edinburgh at the Book Festival earlier today ahead of the scheme, and took part in a special workshop with children’s author and illustrator Alice Melvin.”
  • Last work of mystery paper sculptor unveiled – BBC. “Speaking to BBC Scotland via Twitter, where she goes by the name Freetofly, the sculptor said: “It’s been obvious since the start of the project five years ago that there is a world of people who care about public libraries and universal access to literacy. ” … “A further 10 were discovered over the course of that year, their location always connected to literature: libraries, bookshops and museums. Attached to each creation was a note, many of them reading “a gift in support of libraries, book, words and ideas”.”

“She said: “I’m okay about it ending. I’ve always wanted the attention to be on the message really, that libraries are important resources, and reading matters. Having a building free to enter that is outside your home resourced and expertly staffed confers on us all a certain status – that we are valued. The fight for libraries continues. Maybe I’ll devise a new way of shouting about it rather than with paper and glue.” Freetofly

  • Libraries: no plans and no leadership – Book Brunch. Desmond Clarke: “What is missing is any sign of an effective plan to re-invigorate the library network and reverse the dramatic decline in usage. There is no shared vision for a modern library service that meets the needs of the millions of library users and potential users.”
  • Library use in England fell dramatically over last decade, figures show – Guardian. “Readers making use of the service fell by 30.7% overall since 2005, although poorer readers’ usage has not shown any decline” … “The report reveals that although declines have been seen across all demographic groups over the last decade, the largest declines are for the “urban prosperity” group, down from 57.3% to 37.8%, and the “wealthy achievers” group, down from 50.9% to 33.5%. By contrast, adult library users in the “hard-pressed” group fell by just seven percentage points over the same period, from 40.9% to 33.5%.”
  • New source of funding for library activities – Libraries Taskforce. “Government recognises that not everyone who uses government services is online, and that not everyone will be able to use digital services independently. To help address these problems and overcome barriers, the Government Digital Service in the Cabinet Office set up the Digital Training and Support Framework. Publicly funded organisations are now able to procure more promptly vital assisted digital support and digital inclusion/engagement services from a list of qualified suppliers”
  • Reply from Owen Smith – Leon’s Library Blog. “Labour has a very poor record on providing any meaningful answers to previous queries or for having any policy on libraries whatsoever. This latter point wasn’t addressed unfortunately or even acknowledged that one is needed. And while I fully agree that austerity is the driving force behind the cuts there was no recognition that Labour councils could be at the forefront of redesigning library services to mitigate against the cuts instead of emulating Tory practices. Whether or not the reply below will give campaigners hope that a future Labour government would take the dismantling of the public library network seriously will depend on how it’s interpreted. Obviously, this would also depend on Owen Smith being the leader of that future government.”
  • Senior Manager, Libraries – Arts Council England. Vacancy. “Arts Council England has confirmed that our next investment round (2018-22) will involve integrating our investment programmes across the arts, museums and libraries. We are looking for a Senior Manager to take overall responsibility for managing this change, and to oversee a range of development projects we have commissioned from our partners. This is an exciting opportunity to influence the national development of libraries as the Arts Council offers a wider range of investment opportunities for the sector. You will provide the strategic overview and management of this activity and, as necessary, for other major investment and development initiatives in related areas that are required to deliver our goals and deploy our funding.”
  • Should knowledge be taxed? – Society of Authors. “A new public consultation seeks views on the Commission’s commitment to address the inconsistency between VAT on printed and electronic publications. This is something we should all contribute to. The debate on whether books should be subject to Value Added Tax is older than VAT itself. We have always argued that a tax on books amounts to an inappropriate tax on knowledge. In fact, on first proposing VAT in 1969 Iain Macleod MP said: ‘On the general principle of avoiding a tax on knowledge we intend that books, journals, newspapers and broadcasting shall be at a zero rate.’
  • Taking Part 2015/16 quarter 4 statistical release – Gov.uk. Shows steep reduction in usage of public libraries.

International news

  • Canada – Halifax Public Libraries, Dalhousie teaming up to buy Video Difference films – News Atlantic. Libraries purchase stock of closed down video store on the basis that they include hard to find titles.
  • Canada / Global – How to Start a Library of Things – Shareable. “myTurn allows new lending libraries to use the “best practices baked right into the platform” and focus on the things that are unique to their community. The platform is used by over 130 tool, kitchen and other community lending libraries, as well as hundreds of nonprofits, universities, municipalities and enterprises.”
  • Denmark – Denmark’s futuristic “citizen space” has been named the world’s best public library – Quartz. “The library, as we know it, is obsolete. Now that most books are accessible online, the building once dedicated to silence and study is increasingly turning into a lively public gathering place—when it’s not disappearing altogether. There’s hope for this new era in libraries, encapsulated in Denmark’s vast Dokki1, a mixed-used “citizen space” with meeting rooms, art installations, classrooms, performance stages, makers’ workshops, and playgrounds, in addition to the usual rows of bookshelves. On Aug. 15, the brand new library along the Aarhus River was crowned public library of the year by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces. At 35,000 square meter (377,00 square feet), Dokki1 is the largest library in Scandinavia.”
  • Finland – Finland’s Hot New Karaoke Bar Is a Public Library – Smithsonian.  “The Tikkurila library in Vantaa, Finland, the country’s fourth most populous city, now offers a soundproofed room with more than 3,300 songs, reports YLE. Patrons can reserve up to two hours with the karaoke machine in a space that is intended for people who don’t want to have to head to a bar to sing their hearts out.” … “Bringing karaoke from the pub to the public library might seem like just an extension of the pastime’s popularity, but library officials tell YLE that it’s a chance to deepen the library’s musical education offerings and give people a chance to practice karaoke or enjoy singing in a non-alcoholic context. But as Feargus O’Sullivan points out in CityLab, the offering could also be a good way to bolster Finland’s public libraries, which have dwindled in number and in funding over the last several decades”
  • Germany – My immigrant’s view of public libraries : please support them – Librarian Abroad. “If you aren’t from the UK then you might not know that many public libraries there are under enormous pressure, and communities are fighting to keep their libraries open. My recent visits to my local public library here in Berlin remind me how important a public library is, even for those who can afford books and have plenty of them at home! Here is my list of why the public library is important to me, an immigrant:”
  • Global – These fancy, futuristic public libraries rank among the world’s best – MarketWatch. Pictures and descriptions of the nominated libraries.
  • Indonesia – Horseback library serves Indonesia’s remote readers – Yahoo News. “”The horse library!” children shriek, sprinting towards the mosque where Luna is tethered. Slung over her saddle are two handmade wooden boxes filled with books. For many there, this unique mobile library is their only link to books. There is no traditional library nearby, and stores are miles away in big cities. It’s a problem for villages across the sprawling Indonesian archipelago”
  • USA – How Detroit Plans to Get Kids Reading This Summer – CityLab. “She partnered with local organizations, like the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, and Eagle Scouts, to install about 150 in front of homes, non-profits, community gardens, and churches. In the process, Detroit’s sidewalks grew dotted with these structures; Kozlowski’s Detroit Little Libraries campaign dubbed the city “The Little Free Library Capital of the World.” The city will soon lay even more claim to the title. On July 28, it announced a plan to install these constructions in front of all of the Detroit schools—97 in total. The Detroit Public Schools Community District—in partnership with Detroit Little Libraries, Detroit Public Libraries, and the DPS Foundation—will lead the charge.”
  • USA – Equity crowdfunding via the public libraries – YouTube. Phil Shapiro wrote article on libraries as business incubators, talks about his work with San Francisco Public Libraries. Maker spaces. One library system puts aside 1% of its bookfund to help crowdfunding: library then invests that money in best cases, with goal to promote conversations with partners. This will help community but also raise funds for the library.
  • USA – Library Olympics – Programming Librarian.
  • USA – Library wants families to read 1,000 books before kindergarten – St Louis Public Radio. “Families can pick up reading logs at their library to participate in the program. The library will award prizes such as stickers, books and small toys when families hit milestones. Each time a book is read counts, and it doesn’t matter whether mom, dad, a sibling or the babysitter reads the book to the child.”
  • USA – Public libraries serve the homeless more than just books – I Love Libraries. Homeless people use libraries but this is placing a strain on the service for others. ““It’s not our primary responsibility,” said Heather Folmar, library operations manager for the Santa Ana Public Library. “It’s not our mandate. It’s not what we’re paid to do and we do it because people need it.””
  • USA – Three ways to think differently about libraries – Knight Foundation. Nostalgia won’t cut it; libraries are great equalisers; libraries as network for civic engagement.

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Digital Garage for small businesses – Barnet Council. “Digital capability is a big issue for small businesses in the UK. Barnet libraries is opening a free, pop-up service to help improve digital skills which will save time, increase turnover and cultivate customers. Using the Google Digital Garage online learning platform, individuals can choose from over 23 different topics ranging from creating a website to learning about Google Analytics.”
  • Blaenau Gwent – Staff celebrate Ebbw Vale library renovation as visitors flock to use services – South Wales Argus. “The newly renovated Ebbw Vale library has received more than 500 visitors per day on average during its first week, with people of all ages accessing a number of services. The new-look was helped with a Welsh Government museum and libraries grant as well as money from the Welsh European Funding Office Convergence Programme. Since re-opening, visitors have been accessing services including book loans, job clubs and computer and internet access while families and children have been taking advantage of several schemes.”
  • Bradford – Bradford gets set to celebrate National Poetry day with inclusive film – Bradford Review. “Bradford Libraries are teaming up with Bradford City of Film to make a film for National Poetry Day. The film will celebrate poetry and will feature people of Bradford reading poems – either one they have written themselves or their favourite poem by another poet. Anyone can be in the film and we have people of all ages reading poems in different languages. The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Geoff Reid, will be reading a poem. The film will feature each person reading a section of a larger poem or all of a short poem. Filming will take place in City Hall on 12th September and participants will be encouraged to dress up and bring props. Steve O’Connor, a performance poet and tutor of Bradford libraries Creative Writing Course, will be on hand to offer performance advice to those who need it. The film will be shown on the big screen in City Park on National Poetry Day and online.”
  • Carillion Lego libraries a year on – Libraries Taskforce. “A year into our work with Lego Education, the regular workshops that we have delivered in the libraries CCS (Cultural Community Solutions) manage across the London boroughs of Croydon, Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow, have attracted 854 children, all aged 8 years and over. It’s been great to see young people visiting our libraries to enjoy something different, but we’ve been surprised that 70% of those taking part have been boys – it seems that the winning combination of Lego, team-building and coding is fast becoming a favourite pastime”. Involved in First Lego Junior League. 25 staff received one full day training rom Lego,
  • Coventry – Arena Park Library in Coventry to close by the end of the month – Coventry Telegraph. “Arena Park Library in Coventry is to close at the end of the month with the possibility of a nearby community group taking over. The last day of opening for the library will be Saturday, August 27. The closure of the library in the Arena Park Shopping Park is part of a series of cuts by Coventry City Council. Staff and volunteers from Holbrooks Community Care Association are hoping to move some of the books to their premises in Holbrook Lane and run a library from there. The rest would be put in store by the council.”
  • Coventry – Could Coventry’s libraries go online to save cash? – Coventry Telegraph. “Ordering books online and picking them up from a community centre could be the future for some of Coventry’s library users. Coventry City Council has come up with the idea of keeping some books in storage. Library users would go online, search a list of books in the store and choose which ones they would like. Staff would get the chosen books off shelves and send them out to community centres for the library users to collect. Councillors regard the proposal as an extension of the existing system in which people can request books from other libraries to delivered to their local library. Coun Kevin Maton (Lab, Henley), cabinet member for learning and skills which includes libraries said: “Some council wards like mine, Henley, don’t have libraries. “We are looking to move towards people being able to order their books online and then collect them.”
  • Coventry – Plan to slash £3.8million from Coventry’s libraries and children’s services – Coventry Telegraph. “Plans are to ask volunteers to run the public libraries at Caludon Castle School, Cheylesmore, Coundon, Finham and Earlsdon. They will be closed if nobody takes them on. Libraries at Allesley Park, Canley, Hillfields, Radford and Stoke Aldermoor will be run in partnership with other organisations on a reduced budget. The Central Library along with the libraries at Bell Green, Foleshill, Stoke and Tile Hill would have volunteers and a reduced budget”
  • Cumbria – CEO of National Libraries Taskforce visits award winning Barrow Library – Cumbria Crack. “Kathy visited Dalton Library and Dalton Community Centre to see how the re-location will work and was impressed by the approach to new opening hours and the free Wi-Fi provision.  Kathy then attended Barrow Library and was met by the sight of a Giant Peach outside on the lawn – the library is taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge and the Roald Dahl-themed ‘Big Friendly Read’ with drama workshops, short stories, fancy dress and all sorts of whacky whiz-popping fun.”
  • Darlington – Last-ditch legal challenge to save Darlington library – Northern Echo. “Campaigners battling to save the closure-threatened historic library have used legal aid to appoint one of the country’s leading judicial review lawyers to challenge Darlington Borough Council. Earlier this year, the authority voted to close the Grade II listed library as part of a sweeping £12.5m programme of budget cuts. The decision came despite a high profile Northern Echo campaign backed by thousands of individuals, community groups and best-selling authors including Philippa Gregory and Anne Fine.” … “the authority’s decision was taken without due process or proper consultation. “
  • Fife – All change for mobile library service – Fife Today. Mobile library stops will be come fortnightly, not weekly. Mobile library fleet reduced from 3 to 2.
  • Fife – Village libraries spared closure to start new chapter in book-lending – Courier. “Business plans have been approved for continuation of the closure-threatened libraries in Lundin Links, Pittenweem and Kinghorn. Arrangements are now to be made for community groups to lease the buildings before Fife Cultural Trust pulls out in March. Discussions are continuing over proposals for three other libraries – Colinsburgh, Glenwood, in Glenrothes, and Townhill, in Dunfermline – and two competing bids for Falkland are to be decided by councillors.”
  • Hertfordshire – New Hertfordshire library scheme helps youngsters with mental health issues – Welwyn Hatfield Times. “The scheme ‘Shelf Help: Reading Well for Young People’, provides 13-18 year olds with high-quality information, support and advice on a wide-range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm, and difficult life pressures, such as bullying and exams. “
  • Hertfordshire – London Colney library set for transformation under community scheme – Herts Advertiser. “The county council’s cabinet member for public health, localism and libraries, Teresa Heritage, said that volunteering in a local library was “a great way to give something back, meet new people and also learn new skills”. “
  • Isle of Man – New chapter begins for town’s library – Isle of Man Today. “The library – closed since refurbishment of the centre began earlier this year – can be accessed by lift.Opening hours have been extended and are: Monday and Wednesday, 1pm to 5pm, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, 10am to 12.30pm and Thursday, 3pm to 7pm. It is also introducing a ‘self-service’ system, whereby books can be returned or borrowed when the library is closed”
  • Lancashire – Anger as books donated after Freckleton Air Disaster ‘disposed of’ in council blunder – Lancashire Evening Post. “The 400-strong book collection was gifted to the people of Freckleton by members of the US Army Air Force and their families since the Freckleton Air Disaster of 1944, when an American pilot lost control of his bomber plane and crashed into the heart of the village and school, killing 61 people, including 38 children” … “Brian Willis, chairman of the Friends of Freckleton Library, said: “I don’t understand why they thought they could just take the books away and destroy them. They have now said they will replace the books, but the messages inside can never be replaced.”
  • Lancashire – Anxious wait as future of libraries is decided – Blackpool Guardian. After consultation, council is deciding fate of libraries “County Councillor David Borrow, deputy leader for Lancashire County Council, said: “This is a difficult process for everyone involved but the ongoing cuts in central government funding combined with rising demand for some of our services means we have no choice but to make changes to the way we deliver them.” [So it’s not looking good then – Ed.]
  • Lancashire – Bids to save borough libraries revealed – but will they succeed? – Accrington Observer. “Groups have produced individual plans to Lancashire County Council (LCC) that they hope will secure the future of Clayton-le-Moors, Rishton and Oswaldtwistle libraries.”. Oswaldtwistle: “Part of the library will be a book shop essentially and people can take three items a day and give a donation for those books. And people eventually bring them back and they start all over again.”
  • Lancashire – Give people more time to have their say on planned cuts to libraries and children’s services, says MP – Clitheroe Advertiser. “Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has spoken out on the planned closure of libraries and children’s services, including Whalley library, saying that the consultation regarding the closures should be extended until September when families who may be on holiday can focus on it.”
  • Lancashire – Tributes paid to pioneering former Accrington libraries chief – Accrington Observer. “Tributes have been paid to a long-serving librarian who was a key figure in the running of the borough’s libraries for more than 30 years. Brian Ashton served as Hyndburn’s district librarian for two decades and was instrumental in establishing it  reference library in 1962″. Son says ” “My dad would be absolutely horrified with the state of the libraries now. There is always a perfect time for some jobs and he was lucky to get the best out his.””
  • Lewisham – Protest planned over Lewisham library cuts – BookSeller. “Library campaigners plan to gather this Saturday (20th August) to protest the £1m cuts to Lewisham Council’s library budget, which will see staff removed from four libraries across the borough. Under current plans, Forest Hill, Catford, Torridon Rd and Manor House libraries will lose staff as the council is looking to hand over responsibility for the libraries to community organisations. The council says it has to make budget cuts of £45m over the next two years and closing the libraries and cutting staff would save around £1m. However, the Save Lewisham Libraries campaign group believes that the cuts could be “easily reversed” by using a “small percentage” of the council’s reserves.”
  • Lewisham – Torridon Community Library- the volunteer hunt begins – Our Hither Green. “Despite a long and determined campaign by local people, library  staff and unions, Lewisham’s Labour Mayor and Councillors pushed through their decision to divest itself of another four local libraries as part of a slew of budget cuts. The Borough of Lewisham now has only has three libraries staffed by professional  librarians.” … “The experiences of other libraries transferred to the community at Blackheath and Sydenham suggest that the scramble  for volunteers and resources to keep both the building open and a reliable  service running is both exhausting and never ending. Moreover, official Lewisham figures monitoring foot fall show that after transfer, book lending rates and school visits plummet.”
  • Lincolnshire – Holbeach Library plans come under ‘travesty’ attack – Lincolnshire Free Press. “Lincolnshire Co-op plans to invest more than £750,000 in creating a food store, pharmacy, post office and book lending centre after moving Holbeach Library from Church Street to Fleet Street, Holbeach.” Parish councillor says “I’m very concerned over the safeguarding policy and it not having any tables and chairs for children.”
  • Lincolnshire – Library looking for more helpers – Market Rasen Mail. Caistor volunteer library is running out of volunteers.
  • Midlothian – Community survey concerns played down – Midlothian Advertiser. Consultation criticised as too low-key, with many not knowing about it. ““My concern lies in that the council are asking people to complete postcards that are in the library or email the Council, message via Twitter etc. However, the posters are nondescript and ineffective in catching your attention and I doubt many people in Midlothian know that their opinions are being sought”
  • North Lanarkshire – Newarthill Library saved my life – now we have to save it – Guardian / Damian Barr. “It was my sanctuary and inspiration and now it is threatened with closure along with four other local libraries and two mobile libraries. Savings of £1.5m are touted by CultureNL, the hapless quango that is pressing ahead despite a public consultation that has united the community – protests and fundraisers were held, more than 5,000 people signed a petition and writers including Ian Rankin, Armistead Maupin, David Nicholls, Val McDermid, Matt Haig and Caitlin Moran pledged support. The UK has already lost 343 libraries in the past six years. We cannot lose another. Libraries in Hove and Kensal Rise have been saved from closure: it can be done.” … “Projected savings are probably a fiction because the librarians will be redeployed elsewhere and the recently refurbished building will be mothballed, requiring expensive security and maintenance.”
  • North Yorkshire – Bilton and Woodfield Community Library animation workshops a huge success – Harrogate News. “Young people created their own animations, which were inspired by the writing of Roald Dahl. The workshops are being delivered as part of North Yorkshire’s Creative Residencies Artists into Libraries project, funded by Arts Council England.”
  • North Yorkshire – How 2 North Yorkshire towns are helping to save their libraries – Press. “Volunteers in two North Yorkshire towns are steaming ahead with their plans to take over the running of their libraries. Twenty more community-managed libraries are planned across North Yorkshire, as the county council cuts funding to meet its savings targets.” Norton and Sherburn-in-Elmet. “In Norton, they have plans for new facilities including a kitchen which would allow them to run a cafe in the future, and with the nearby Brooklyn youth centre set to close soon volunteers and county councillor Elizabeth Shields are keen to make sure there is space for young people in the new community hub at the library. “
  • Northumberland – Library: nothing short of a scandal – Morpeth Herald / Letters. “previously adequately resourced and roomy, expertly staffed and well-provided libraries are relocated to cramped, badly resourced and wholly inadequate facilities”. Manchester Street Library, Morpeth: “Gone is over 75 per cent of floor space with plenty of room to work in peace – a facility we used to take for granted, valued by many and used by a significant number of high school students in the run up to exams.”
  • Oxfordshire – Ex-Top Gear presenter Chris Goffey slams mobile library cuts – BBC. “A former Top Gear presenter who works as a driver for a mobile library service has described the decision to axe it as an “absolute travesty”. Oxfordshire County Council will stop operating the six vans from next month, as part of £1m savings to its library service. Chris Goffey said cutting them was “stupid” and “crazy”. The council said it was expanding its volunteer-based home library service for people with mobility issues. In the last year 190,238 items were borrowed from the county’s mobile libraries, 59% of which were borrowed by children.”
  • Powys – Powys Library Research Service Hits Top Three for Use in UK – Business News Wales. “Latest figures released by the Publishers Licensing Society showed the library service was the third highest performing service during July for people using Access to Research, ahead of Aberdeen City, Worcestershire and Kensington and Chelsea.”
  • Sheffield – Libraries need staff – Star / Letters. “The politicians seem to have got off lightly, with no awkward questions asked of councillors to justify their supporting of policies which have led to the decline in and lack of statutory status (and therefore easier closure of) 16 out of 28 of the city’s libraries. There is a need for the cold hard facts to be acknowledged. The staff have gone and it is putting people off visiting. People need their librarians.”
  • Shropshire – Council ‘can’t afford’ £20,000 to run library – Shropshire Star. “Shawbury Parish Council said it could not afford to keep the village library open as it would have cost it about half of its budget. The situation illustrates the difficulty facing town and parish councils across the county that are being asked to take on services that were previously funded by Shropshire Council.”. Expected to be replaced by a mobile library stop.
  • Surrey – Surrey County Council to slash library opening hours by 7 per cent – Surrey Mirror. £250k cut: 7% cut to opening hours (9.30am rather than 9am opening in many).
  • Swansea – No broadband or home computers – why many library visitors are not going there for a book – South Wales Evening Post. “A new survey shows 38 per cent of computer users at Swansea’s libraries go there because they don’t have their own PC while 16 per cent do not have access to broadband at home. Swansea Council says the figures show the value and impact of the service in tacking digital exclusion and in helping people to use the internet to search for jobs, update CVs or keep in touch with family members.”
  • Torbay – Fears over future of Torbay libraries – Herald Express. Libraries Unlimited (Devon) in talks with Torbay over taking over borough library service: volunteers and job losses feared.

A new report explores how Wandsworth has managed to keep its entire local library network fully open while delivering a wide range of service improvements and branch upgrades. The paper, which was discussed by the council’s community services committee, shows that all 11 branches have gone from strength to strength since 2013 when the day-to-day management was outsourced to charitable social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) following a competitive tendering exercise. Three years later and this innovative partnership has reduced the cost of the service by around £300,000 a year while delivering significant new investment in library buildings and the ICT facilities local residents rely on. Work has now started on a brand new Wandsworth Town centre library on Garratt Lane and the council is also developing plans to replace another two existing branches, York Gardens and Roehampton, with new state of the art buildings offering a wide range of modern services.

Since GLL took over the network in 2013 Battersea Library has been upgraded with a new fit for purpose children’s area, which is much brighter and affords better access to parents with buggies.  Improvements have also been made to the study area in the Reference Library including the restoration of 1920s study desks. Earlsfield has been also completely redecorated inside and out, and ‘teen’ and ‘homework’ areas created. The children’s library at Northcote was redecorated and children’s library at Tooting completely refurbished. The report goes on to say that in 2014/15, the last year for which comparative statistics are available, almost a million and a half books were issued to Wandsworth library users – the second highest level among the 33 London boroughs.  Meanwhile three quarters of a million children’s books were issued – more than in any other borough.

Wandsworth Council’s leisure and culture spokesman Cllr Jonathan Cook said: “Whilst other councils are considering closing down libraries Wandsworth’s entire network is flourishing and we have plans to deliver three brand new and improved branches. The council has not been afraid to experiment and, through outsourcing day-to-day management of our branch network to GLL we have harnessed another organisation’s new ideas and opened the door to new sources of investment. The result is that we are delivering the savings we need while providing the first class libraries residents demand.”

Other improvements achieved under the partnership with GLL include: * New e-resources including company information service Mint and music downloading service Freegal. *Software that automatically identifies and sorts books, to free up staff time at Balham Library, * Cloud-based printing and photocopying to enable customers to print from home or from their device, * A better system to ensure libraries get new titles as quickly as possible and people have a shorter wait for reserved items, * An online system to enable the public to buy  images from the heritage collection, * Email warnings to help customers avoid late return charges, * More e-book titles available, * A comprehensive programme of events in the libraries, * Online learning sessions, * Link ups with other organisations including the Putney School of Art and Design and the Citizens Advice Bureau to help local people access other public services in their local branch.

Wandsworth and GLL are also developing plans to co-locate library services at other community settings such as leisure centres and health centres. The full Wandsworth Council report on library service is here. London Forum hopes its members can encourage all boroughs to improve libraries.” Wandsworth – Wandsworth bucks London’s library closure trend with three branch rebuilds and expanding services. Email from Peter Eversden MBE, Chairman,  London Forum of Amenity and Civic Societies.”

  • West Sussex – Resurgent Harry Potter fever reaches Sussex libraries – Argus. “West Sussex County Council West Sussex said they had 11 copies in stock with 56 requests to date. ” … East Sussex only ordered four copies [! – Ed.]
  • York – Libraries announce embroidery workshops – York Press. “Textile artist Janet Browne will be at the Bilton and Woodfield Community Library and Stokesley Library, to help people make artwork which will later be exhibited at the library It is an opportunity for anyone who would like to develop their sewing machine skills or learn something bright and eye-catching.  County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for Library and Information Services, said: “These workshops run under the Creative Residences programme help libraries to be seen as the hub of their communities and give people a chance to enhance their creativity.”