The big news has to be Lancashire, where the council confirmed 29 libraries are to have their funding withdrawn late on the Friday before the bank holiday weekend. Suspicious timing aside, by my calculations, all the pain that this will put communities through accounts for barely one half of one percent of the cuts that the council has to make, while kicking up a maximum stink for the politicians at the same time. It just does not seem worth it, but the council seems intent on pushing through with the unpopular move.

The other big news is that both Labour Party leadership contenders have come up with big proposals for public libraries. Jeremy Corbyn proposes  a new library development agency and the creation of an “open knowledge library” where UK universities and public  won’t have to pay to access the research the government has already funded. Owen Smith, on the other hand, suggests closer collaboration between library services and longer term government funding settlements. This news comes after my last editorial ran saying Labour had been quiet about public libraries, following Chi Onwurah’s revelation she had planned a library campaign but then had to stop it because she wasn’t sure whether it was in her job description.


National news

  • Jeremy Corbyn just announced a plan to end one of the biggest scams in modern history – Canary. “As part of his ‘Digital Democracy‘ manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled plans to end one of the biggest scams in modern history. At present, the British people are paying twice for education and information. Once, to create research (for example, through Research Council funding) and then again to buy back the research through online journal subscriptions, university fees and public library costs. Despite funding the research, the taxpayer must pay again for access. An ‘Open Knowledge Library’, proposed in the manifesto, would stop us being charged twice for academic research:”
  • Jeremy Corbyn promises to reverse arts spending cuts – Guardian. Promises include “To develop a national policy on libraries and enforce in law that local authorities “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service extended to digital services”. see also Corbyn pledges to reverse cuts in arts spending – BookSeller. “Last week, Corbyn pledged his support for a demonstration about cuts to the library service, taking place on 5th November. However, earlier this week Labour’s shadow minister for culture and the digital economy accused Corbyn of inefficient leadership, saying his “incompetence” meant a campaign against library closures “went to waste”.” … “Corbyn’s challenger for Labour leadership, Owen Smith, also voiced his support for the library service, pledging to “work with councils to encourage greater collaboration and cooperation between the 151 library authorities in England, and give councils longer term funding settlements so that councils can better plan ahead and meet local needs”, if he is appointed Labour leader.”
  • Libraries of the future are going to change in some unexpected ways – Business Insider. “The hallmark of future libraries, meanwhile, will be hyper-connectivity. They’ll reflect our increasing reliance on social media, streaming content, and open-source data. “
  • Odilo and Axiell partner to expand digital content offering to libraries – Library Technology Guides. “The partnership will enable libraries to easily access and manage digital content, integrate a mix of content sources, and quickly distribute high-quality content to patrons.”
  • Open letter to Chi Omwurah – Alan Gibbons. “I hoped for better from the Labour Party, of which I am a member, but the only real measure of support came from Andy Burnham when he stopped the Wirral libraries closures some years ago. So, like other colleagues, we continued to hope for firm, resolute support from the Labour Party. Then it came, in the form of Jeremy Corbyn’s backing for the National Demonstration for Libraries, Museums and Galleries on November 5. Maybe, instead of implying he is somehow deterring the development of a progressive Labour policy for libraries, you should work with him to help build our demonstration and sharpen Labour’s backing for libraries, museums, galleries and all public services. I find your intervention disappointing in the extreme. I think it is more about your backing for Mr Smith in the leadership battle than a genuine concern for libraries.”
  • Sharing the love of reading – Libraries Taskforce / Emma House. “The Publishers Association’s Reading Ambassador campaign. The aim is simple: help promote reading for pleasure around the UK. To do this, we are looking to recruit 10,000 reading ambassadors by 2020 to share their love of reading with others.” … “To help people get involved, we have created tips about how ambassadors can share their love of reading. Some are as simple as suggesting they spend more time reading with their children, or getting them to share their favourite book. And for others who have a bit more time to commit, we suggest volunteering at their local library or getting involved with a reading for pleasure charity. We highlight upcoming activities to our ambassadors, such as the Summer Reading Challenge; activities like World Book Night, and National Libraries Day will also provide a great catalyst to get more people encouraging others to read for pleasure.”
  • ‘Three Rs’ on the decline as a quarter of adults have a reading age so low they struggle to read a bus timetable – Telegraph. “England is the only country in the OECD where the average literacy score for the youngest age group (16-18 years old) is lower than that of the oldest age group (55 to 65 years old), the  Foundation said. 23 per cent of 16 to 18 year-olds are at literacy level one or below, compared to 19 per cent of 55 to 65 year-olds. For numeracy, 29 per cent of 16 to 18 year-olds are at level 1 or below, compared to 26 per cent of the older age group.”

International news

  • Australia – Books On The Rail sets books free on Melbourne’s trams, trains and buses – ABC. “The free range books have been set loose on the city’s public transport by “book ninjas” as part of a new movement called Books On The Rail. Co-founder Michelle Kalus said each book was festooned with a sticker on the front and a flyer inside the cover explaining the project. “It says who we are and instructs people to take the book, read it, enjoy it, and then return it to a service,”
  • Canada – Musical Instruments Circulate in Canadian Public Libraries – Library Journal. “Three days after the Vancouver Public Library’s (VPL) June 7 launch of its Sun Life Financial Musical Instrument Lending Library, every instrument had been borrowed. Two months later, all remain checked out, with a waitlist as high as 70 for some. None of that has been a surprise to the man behind the service, talent agent Shaw Saltzberg. This year, his idea became reality: two musical lending libraries were launched, with a third opening this fall in a major Canadian city to be announced. In April, patrons began borrowing musical instruments from the Parkdale branch of the Toronto Public Library (TPL), followed by the VPL Central Library. Saltzberg is already thinking about how the program can be expanded to 12 or even 24 public library systems across North America in the future.”
  • USA – Get Outside the Lines at Your Library with Social Media – Techsoup for Libraries. “How many times have you been asked at a party or family event, “You work in a Library? Do people actually go to libraries anymore when the Internet has everything?” It would be so nice if we never had to answer those questions ever again. Outside the Lines can help eradicate some of those misconceptions.”
  • USA – If You Want to See the Sharing Economy…Go to the Library – Librarian Shipwreck. Argues that most parts of the new “sharing economy” is simply renting but that the public library is genuine community sharing.
  • USA – Improving Your Library’s UX – Public Libraries Online. “UX, or user experience, is a hot topic in the library world, but what does it mean in practical terms? This is the first post in a series of articles that will aim to demystify the concepts of user experience, design thinking, and human-centered design for public librarians. A common misperception is that you need a lot of time and money to embark on a program of integrating these ideas into your library—far from it. The key is to shift your thinking and consider every aspect of service from the user’s point of view. Everything from your voicemail message to your policy manual plays a part.”
  • USA – Libraries have secrets: The private rooms of North Jersey’s public libraries – North Jersey. “One-of-a-kind material (often local history), rare or valuable books, things so weird and wonderful that librarians couldn’t bear to throw them out – much of this stuff can be found in locked cabinets, vaults and restricted rooms, to be viewed only in the library and – sometimes – only under supervision.”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – MSP completes surgery tour of libraries – Ellon Times. Gilliam Martin MSP ““It was also great to be able to highlight the job that local libraries do for their communities. As well as providing access to vast catalogue of books they are a brilliant space for community groups to meet.”
  • Coventry – ‘Anyone who thinks this is a good idea has no concept of what a library really is’ – Coventry Telegraph / Letters. “It is shameful that a city bidding to be named a City of Culture is even considering closing libraries. To add insult to injury the council has come up with some crackpot idea of “click and collect”. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea has no concept of what a library really is. They are not mere store rooms for books awaiting to be loaned, there is a certain ambiance and tranquility within a library which makes them a pleasure to visit much the same as a church … However I found it impossible to concentrate due to the volume of chatter coming from the mostly student visitors to the library. Amazingly the staff made no effort to maintain any rule of silence and carried on as if it was perfectly normal. If this library was to close they would need a megaphone to announce it.”
  • Croydon – Let’s protect Croydon’s pioneering libraries – Croydon Citizen. “Let’s hope that when Croydon Council Cabinet members consider the outcome of the current library review, they remember that a key challenge is to ensure the continuance of the network of libraries that their predecessors proudly built. The first library had been opened in two rented shops in North End in March 1890, with 6,399 books in stock. In the year ending of March 1931 borrowings and consultations were up to 1,673,558 books.”
  • Ealing – Claim service is being cut to boost profits of centre’s owners – Ealing Today. “The Conservative opposition on Ealing Council are claiming that the reduction in book stock at Ealing Central Library will effectively amount to the end of the children’s library. The number of children’s books at Ealing Central library will be reduced by 66% from 21,000 to 7,000. These figures emerged after questioning by Conservative Councillors at the 4 August Overview and Scrutiny Meeting. Under the current plans, the total library site will be reduced from 1106sqm to 727sqm, the book stock from 124,000 to just 35,000; study spaces will fall from from 145 to 45 and the Local History service will be moved from the main library to West Ealing. Much of the archives is to be put into ‘deep storage’.”
  • Hampshire – Actor donates his family’s Lego collection to library – Bournemouth Echo. Hugh Bonneville gives collection after New Milton library staff heard he had too much lego when he appeared on Desert Island Discs.
  • Lancashire – Anger as Lancashire County Council announce 20 libraries face the axe over cash – Lancashire Telegraph.. “Plans to shut more than 20 libraries in East Lancashire as part of a major cuts programme have been branded a ‘disgrace’. Libraries set to be lost in the latest phase of a £262million budget reduction initiative by Lancashire County Council include Rosegrove, Briercliffe, Barrowford, Trawden, Clayton-Le-Moors, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Whalley, Adlington and Read. However Brierfield, Bacup and Whitworth libraries were given a stay of execution as well as Willows Park Children’s Centre in Longridge.”
  • Lancashire – BroadcastBBC Radio Lancashire. Covers library cuts in depth. 1.13 – Ged Mirfin @GedMirfin (Whalley Library),  1.18 Laura Swaffield of the Library Campaign @lswaffield1,  2.08 – various incl @LancashireCC,  2.18 – Unison rep (50 comp redundancies). Notes library cuts report put out late on a Friday before the Bank Holiday Monday. “A deliberate attempt to confuse the public”.
  • Lancashire – Council chiefs at war in ‘cheek of the devil’ row – Blackpool Gazette. “Lancashire Tories have been accused of “having the cheek of the devil” after they launched an online Save Our Services petition just days before the Labour-run County Council is to reveal the names of some 100 buildings set for closure. The cuts are set to be approved by the the council’s Cabinet on September 8. “
  • Lancashire – Lancashire to go ahead with ‘disgraceful’ library cuts – BookSeller. “Lancashire County Council has decided to press ahead with plans to close more than 20 libraries after a 12-week consultation. In May, the council proposed to close 29 libraries in a bid to make £200m worth of cuts by 2020. Following the consultation, which received a total of 7,719 responses, a report has been drawn up recommending that libraries in Morecambe and Carnforth will retain full library status, while the future of libraries in Brierfield, Bacup and Whitworth are still under review. Libraries set to be lost include Rosegrove, Briercliffe, Barrowford, Trawden, Oswaldtwistle, Rishton, Walley and Read. In total, more than 100 buildings – including libraries, children’s centres and adult disability centres – are being earmarked for closure by the council.”

  • Lancashire – Library Campaigner Dom Conlon reacts to library closures – Lancashire Headline News Interview – Lancashire Headline News. “Lancashire County Council revealed revised plans. In May the total under threat was 29 and now only Carnforth library has been taken off list.”
  • Lancashire – Morecambe Library to remain fully open – Visitor.
  • Lancashire – No reprieve as public fears are confirmed – Chorley Guardian. Adlington library to close, much to annoyance of local MP.
  • Lancashire – What the latest county council cuts mean for you. Our guide to what happens next – Lancashire Evening Post. “The proposals will go the the County Council’s Cabinet meeting on September 8 for approval. But first they will be debated by the council’s cross party Executive Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, September 6 at County Hall in Preston” … “The time span for the changes ranges from September 30, 2016 to March 2020.It is proposed services will end at Fulwood, Bamber Bridge and Penwortham libraries and Garstang Young People’s Centre on September 30 this year.” … “You could volunteer to run a library service. The county council is proposing to offer help to establish community run libraries.A help package will include £5,000 to cover set-up costs, shelving, an initial supply of books from the county council’s store and advice from a special community library development officer. Call 0300 1236701 for more information. “
  • Leicestershire – “Bloody-minded” county council accused over Leicestershire library closure plan – Leicester Mercury. “Tory-led Leicestershire County Council is in the process of trying to offload 36 of its smaller libraries to volunteer groups, in a bid to save £800,000. Officials have an agreement for volunteers to take over the running of Desford library. However the building, in Main Street, needs £45,000 of repairs, largely to its slate roof. The volunteers said they cannot take on such a commitment and want the building fixed before they take it on. Otherwise, they are prepared to take on an internal lease where the council maintains responsibility for the fabric of the building. Council officers said they could not offer Desford a preferential deal to other communities that have already assumed responsibility for their libraries.” … “Desford county councillor David Sprason said: “They have already been preferential to other libraries. Kegworth was offered an internal lease. “They extended the time Kirby Muxloe had to do a deal. “They have shown they are being flexible with other libraries but they are just being bloody-minded over Desford.”
  • Manchester – Central Library exhibition celebrates the history of Manchester’s drag queens – Manchester City Council. Heritage Lottery Funded. “As part of the project, volunteer researchers trained by Manchester Metropolitan University have conducted interviews with drag queens past and present, which are being catalogued and stored at the Archives+ Centre.  Snippets of the interviews can be heard through the Archives+ Centre’s interactive digital features, as part of the exhibition. Volunteers have also unearthed many relevant archive documents and materials, using Central Library resources such as the Theatre Collection and the Queer Up North archive.  As part of the exhibition, Jez has created a series of Andy Warhol-inspired screen prints, based on selfies sent to him by current drag queens.”
  • Norfolk – Crooks booked: Skint cops now want you to report crimes to librarians to save cash as force aims to slash its budget by £5m – Sun. “Trials will start in Thetford and Gorleston from September where victims will be able to receive help at the towns’ libraries making reports directly onto the force website. Critics have slammed the policy as “alarming,” warning victims too self conscious to reveal details to librarians may decide not to report crimes.”
  • North Lanarkshire – Chapelhall Library’s opening hours cut by more than 25% to save cash – Daily Record. 13 hours cut per week in Chapelhall. Airdrie and Coatbridge will also reduce hours.
  • North Somerset – Consultation over cuts to library services and children’s centres – North Somerset Times.
  • Northern Ireland – BBC signs partnership with Libraries NI to promote reading – BBC. “The agreement aims to support learning and development opportunities across Northern Ireland. Plans are in place for events which explore connections between libraries, learning, broadcasting and books in autumn this year.”
  • Northumberland – Library: change is the best option – Morpeth Herald. Cllr Val Tyler, portfolio holder, argues council policy was best for libraries: relocating and colocations rather than closures.
  • Pembrokeshire – Trade union hits out at Pembrokeshire County Council £700k savings plans for leisure and tourism services – Western Telegraph. Council considering passing leisure/tourism/culture to a non-profit. Consultancy recommends it claiming £700k in savings. Unison launched petition against it for a while.
  • St Helens – Actor Ralf Little’s praise for St Helens library teams – St Helens Reporter. “The arts in libraries programme had beaten off stiff competition from over 600 other projects within the Arts category to reach the finals, where it received the most public votes. Ralf Little presented Cultural Hubs with a prestigious National Lottery Awards trophy after the British public recognised the programme’s impressive achievements. Ralf, famous for his roles in The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, met the people behind the success of Cultural Hubs. He said: “It is great to see libraries turned into vibrant places where people can try something new and develop their artistic talents.”
  • St Helens – Cultural Hubs claims National Lottery Award – St Helens Star. “Royle Family actor Ralf Little celebrated with St Helens Libraries’ Cultural Hubs team as it was crowned the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded arts programme. The arts in libraries programme had beaten off stiff competition from more than 600 other projects within the Arts category to reach the The National Lottery Awards finals, where it received the most public votes.Ralf Little presented Cultural Hubs with a National Lottery Awards trophy after the British public recognised the programme’s impressive achievements.”
  • Somerset – Shepton Mallet library: Protesters gather to oppose possible move out of town centre – Somerset Live. Library could be moved to a less convenient location in order to save money.
  • South Gloucestershire – Hollywood star continues to lend support to Save Hanham Library campaigners – Week In. “As library campaigners across South Gloucestershire await the results of the consultation into cuts to the service, the Save Hanham Library team have received another message of support from local boy and Hollywood star Stephen Merchant. Hanham, Downend, Staple Hill, Cadbury Heath and Emersons Green libraries are among those threatened with reduced hours and the mobile library could be stopped altogether. The council has said it needs to save around £650,000 from the library service budget with a proposed overall cut of 42% in service and while the proposed new model involves reducing some library opening hours, it hopes that through discussions with the community that reductions can be minimised.”
  • South Lanarkshire – Leadhills has oldest library – Carrick Today. Subscription library opened in 1741 is still going strong.
  • Suffolk – Council buys middle school site for redevelopment – About My Area. “The purchase of this site also includes community buildings which are home to a library run by Suffolk Libraries and an internet café run by members of the local community.  Mid Suffolk will now work closely with these groups on continuing to provide much valued local facilities.”
  • Suffolk – Winners revealed for Suffolk Libraries’ Bookface and Get Caught Reading campaigns – EADT. “Dozens of creative entries have been submitted into the Suffolk Libraries Get Caught Reading and Bookface competitions as a means to inspire readers.” … “The Get Caught Reading project challenges readers to get a snap reading in an unusual place, with Amanda Collins submitting the winning entry of her daughters Cahir and Eira reading at Haverhill pool. The Bookface photo invites readers t  take a picture holding up a book to their face – a category won by Elize Collins from Newmarket. Both won £50 of high street shopping vouchers.”
  • Surrey – Petition launched as plans to close Bookham Library at lunchtime announced – Surrey Mirror.
  • Worcestershire – Council plans fears over Redditch library – Redditch Standard. “The authority is looking at the possibility of another public sector organisation moving into the Alcester Street building to share its floor space with the aim of creating a ‘hub’. The model has already been trialled elsewhere in the county with libraries hosting groups like the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Department for Work and Pensions. However, leading Redditch county councillor Joe Baker (Lab, Arrow Valley East) fears the loss of floor space could lead to a downsizing of the library and a loss of service for local people.”
  • York – New mobile library plan after closure – York Press. Haxby Library closed due to structural fears. £80k given by York Council to York Explore for mobile library stops. ““Options are being investigated for a new library building in the area,” he said. “However this is likely to take upwards of two years to deliver; therefore an interim service is needed. “The most cost effective way to deliver this will be through the acquisition of an additional mobile vehicle, allowing it to be based in the area to cover the current library opening hours.””