There’s some great initiatives in public libraries around the world but one I always think we don’t see enough of in the UK is that of bringing in dogs to help children with reading.  GLL mentioned that Lincolnshire libraries had a few reading dogs a week or two ago so I asked them for more information. The main story below is from them, followed by other links you may find useful. I’m aware Barnstaple also has reading dogs but does anyone else in the UK? If not, it’s worth asking yourselves if they’re possible – they do wonders getting reluctant readers into libraries, are great publicity and, frankly, the dogs are absolutely gorgeous.


Lincolnshire libraries and reading dogs

Since this picture was taken in Lough Library, the boy has persuaded his parents to buy a Labrador puppy.

Since this picture was taken in Lough Library, the boy has persuaded his parents to buy a Labrador puppy.

“Lough started working with PAT Dogs (Pets as Therapy), Gracie and Angus, and their respective owners, Jane and Amanda, back in 2015 when Lincolnshire Libraries took on the challenge of getting as many people to pledge that they would read for the Guinness World Record attempt during the Summer Reading Challenge, Record Breakers. Angus and Amanda usually attend big events but Jane and Gracie have regular slots with our story time children and also have their own sessions ‘Big Friendly Reading Time with Jane and Gracie’  during the Big Friendly Read, Summer Reading Challenge this year. Jane and Amanda, have recently changed and left ‘Pets as Therapy’ and moved Gracie and Angus to a new charity called ‘Therapy Dogs Nationwide’  but still carry on the good work as always. Spalding Library were also involved the Lincolnshire Libraries Summer Reading Challenge, Record Breakers, with the ‘Bramble Berry Trust’ where the trust brought two PAT greyhounds with them for customers to meet and greet.

They always attract both young and old into the library who talk and pat the dogs and share stories of their own pets, past and present. Louth Library is just establishing links with another group called (T.E.D), Talk Eat and Drink which is a lottery funded project committed to encouraging over 50s to become involved with social activities in their area and to feel more positive about their future. The library is working with the project to provide a relaxed central meeting point on the first and second Mondays of the month where the people of Louth can find out what Lincolnshire Library resources are available to them as well as those in the wider community, which compliments the universal offer of the service. There is a Pop Up Cafe and activities on offer including adult colouring, brain teasers and word searches. Jane and Gracie dropped in on the session this morning after the regular story time for under 5s and was made very welcome by the people attending the T.E.D session, so we will be inviting the Therapy Dogs Nationwide back to future sessions.

“The boys love coming down to the library and reading with Gracie, she is so patient with them and they talk to her as if she were human! They love the library and reading but it’s a special treat when Gracie is here!” says the Mum of these two kids

“The boys love coming down to the library and reading with Gracie, she is so patient with them and they talk to her as if she were human! They love the library and reading but it’s a special treat when Gracie is here!” says the Mum of these two kids

Another lovely story about a little 6 year old girl called Reina, joined the Summer Reading Challenge last year and brought her little sister along to the story times, who was two at the time and very shy. She would not talk to any of the library ladies and hid her face when they talked to her. When she saw Gracie she was frightened at first but slowly came to love her and talk to her. Her mother purposely came back every time Gracie was in to help the little girl with her social skills. Her big sister has registered for the Summer Reading Challenge again this year and the family are hoping to attend the Big Friendly Reading Time with Jane and Gracie’  sessions.” [This post kindly written by Karen Waring, GLL’s Library Team Leader at Louth Library]

Reading dogs outside of Lincolnshire

Bark and Read – Kennel Club. “The Bark & Read Foundation has been set up to support and promote the amazing work of charities that take dogs into schools as reading volunteers to help tackle the UK’s literacy problems.” … “Reading to dogs has been proved to help children develop literacy skills and build confidence, through both the calming effect the dogs’ presence has on children and the fact that the dog will listen to the children read without being judgemental or critical. This comforting environment helps to nurture children’s enthusiasm for reading and provides them with the confidence needed to read aloud.”

  • Librarydogs – A whole website on the benefits of having dogs in libraries. “In 2006 several dogs and their handlers in a suburban Minnesota town participated in a pilot project called PAWSitive Readers. After reading to the dogs just once a week for seven weeks, 10 of the 14 children improved their reading scores at least one grade level. Three of the others were learning English, while another was already reading at grade level. This is just one of many examples of the benefits of programs encouraging children to read aloud to therapy animals. ” See 102 pictures of library dogs here.

“Since Barnstaple Library has been working with the DHK charity, we have been amazed at the impact on children’s reading, especially for those children who need that extra bit of help and support and Dogs Helping Kids have made a big contribution to that impact. We have had many examples of the changes in children, following their reading sessions with the DHK Team, who have improved their literacy skills, increased their achievement at school, dramatically improved their confidence and social skills and generally increased their all-round attentiveness and motivation. We have had some very impressed parents and teachers, who have told us of individual children for whom the sessions have made a world of difference. ” Sharon Dixon, Library Supervisor – Quoted at Dogs Helping Kids

  • Morecambe dog teaches kids to read – Visitor. “Paul Slater, head teacher at Trumacar Primary School, said the clever canine has made an “incredible difference” to the children. Many Trumacar pupils, who enjoy cuddles with Droopy in the classroom, have nominated him to win the Pets As Therapy (PAT) Dog of the Year.”
  • My newest member of staff is a dog – but I’m not barking mad – Liverpool Echo. “The hope was that Dexter’s attendance in school would help to support children’s social and emotional well-bring and enhance their learning by promoting positive behaviour and increasing pupils’ confidence in communication and reading. And it is proving to have been an A* idea.”
  • Paws to Read – Research on benefits of dogs to readers. PawsToRead.com and ‘Paws to Read Month’ were created to connect parents, educators, animal lovers, and child advocates to city, regional, state, and national programs that use shelter cats or trained therapy dogs to improve the literacy skills of children. We also provide tips, activities, and recommended reading lists to help schools and libraries celebrate ‘Paws to Read Month’ in March”

National news

  • Are you emotionally attached to your books? – BBC Arts. “Would you ever throw out a book once you’ve read ‘the end’ confident that you won’t ever return to it? #LovetoRead asked The Reading Agency’s Sue Wilkinson about her book habits, a ‘returner’ on one hand but ruthless on the other!” … “If I’m not enjoying a book by the 100th page, I discard it or take it back to the library, because there are just too many other wonderful and exciting books out there waiting to be read.” … “Over 1.5 million people take part in our reading programmes every year and we expect three quarters of a million children to go to their local library with their families to take part in The Big Friendly Read, Summer Reading Challenge 2016.”
  • Basic data set – first steps – Libraries Taskforce. “We stated an intention to publish a model data set, and explored this more during the consultation on Libraries Deliver. This idea was well received. In the consultation, discussion included balancing the value of any data collected with the effort needed to capture it, the need to widen data collection beyond inputs and outputs to capture outcomes and impact, and recognition that any data should be published openly and regularly updated. Publishing such a data set would mean that, for the first time, an open, comprehensive and definitive database would exist which would enable library stakeholders to better understand library service provision across England and within each local authority.”
  • Culture Secretary maiden speech on importance of the arts – Gov.uk. Karen Bradley MP: one mention of libraries: “Places are not simply somewhere to build a factory. To have heart and soul, they need galleries, music centres, cherished heritage sites, libraries, and museums and sports facilities. They need to be like Liverpool.”
  • Devices in the library: trends and opportunities – Lorensbergs. “Availability of Wi-Fi in your local library is now generally expected, with a robust service taken as a given. But what does this mean for consumption of services in the library? While libraries are reporting greater prevalence of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), this often isn’t impacting library PC usage, indicating that libraries are attracting a wider audience with a better range of services. Only a small number of libraries report a decrease in PC session demand as a result of BYOD …”
  • Men’s volunteering group commissioned to create bespoke libraries across North-East – Northern Echo. Small book swap points to be created. “A men’s volunteering group has been commissioned to produce five unique libraries for locations across the North-East following the success of their previous creations. Greenfield Arts-run Cree team caught the eye of writing agency New Writing North with their two Little Free Libraries created alongside students from Greenfield Community College over the past two years. The bespoke libraries, found on the school’s Newton Aycliffe and Shildon campuses, house a small number of books that can be swapped by pupils and members of the community, working on the principle of take a book, leave a book.”
  • Minutes of the ninth meeting of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce – Public Libraries Taskforce. Including plan to extend National Libraries Day into a week and “Libraries data – getting a definitive list of libraries”.
  • Try the new Learn My Way – UK Online Centres. “We strongly encourage you to do start looking at, and even using the new look site as soon as possible, to make sure you’re as familiar as possible with the site’s new functionality, before the final switch over in September 2016. If you’re getting new people started on the site, you might even want to register them straight onto the new site, to ensure they have as consistent a learning experience as possible, and aren’t shocked when it changes for good. “

International news

  • Australia – Impact of Libraries as Creative Spaces – Public Libraries Connect. “Ready access to information through digital media has challenged the perceived societal roles of public libraries. Since the mid 1990s, libraries have reoriented themselves towards public participation beyond lending and reading. Libraries now offer an increasing range of community-focused creative activities. Library spaces are transforming. In addition to housing archival and loan materials, desks and reading spaces, libraries are becoming even more flexible and activity-oriented. Given these transformations, understanding and demonstrating the new contributions public libraries make to their communities is critical.”
  • Slovenia – Library in the pool, a summer activity of Ljubljana City Library – Naple Sister Libraries. Public libraries provides outreach at two swimming pools during the Summer. “This library near water is open during July and August. Bathers can read by the pool in different languages. They also offer books for children and young adults. Borrowing books is free and membership card is not needed, users just take the books off the shelf and return it before leaving the pool.”
  • USA – A guide to innovative revenue sources for libraries and nonprofits – American Library Association. “In recent years, levies, grants, and other traditional sources of library funding have stagnated or even been scaled back. But as they’ve already done in other areas, libraries can take an innovative, proactive approach to funding. Change creates opportunities, and the ability to see and exploit opportunities is what creates new revenue streams, which can help maintain and enhance library services. Offering step-by-step guidance, Edmund A. Rossman III’s new book “40+ New Revenue Sources for Libraries and Nonprofits,” published by ALA Editions, shares dozens of revenue-generating methods to bolster the library’s bottom line. Through plentiful examples, interviews, and implementation exercises this book:”

Local news by authority

  • Darlington – Planning application is in to move library from Crown Street to Dolphin Centre in Darlington – Northern Echo. “The contentious closure of Darlington’s Crown Street Library has moved a step closer with the official submission of planning proposals. Planning applications have been submitted detailing the proposed relocation of existing library services from Crown Street Library to the Dolphin Centre. The move to the leisure centre will result in the strongly opposed closure of the historic Crown Street building, which will eventually be put on the market. Darlington Borough Council’s plans to move library services from the Grade II listed library to the nearby leisure centre were outlined earlier this year as part of a programme of dramatic budget cuts.”
  • Devon – Happy ending as hopes for new Ottery St Mary library set to become a reality – Sidmouth Herald. “The town council spent £134,000 on the former NatWest Bank in September as a site for a new library, tourist information centre and public toilets, but renovation work has yet to begin. Speaking at a town council meeting on Monday, Mayor Glyn Dobson revealed lease terms have finally been agreed with Libraries Unlimited – an organisation that will be running the facility. He said: “Devon County Council has given Libraries Unlimited a sum of money to cover Ottery, but this leaves a shortfall. When they have done the building it will be greatly improved, which benefits the town. It is whether we are prepared to help pay for the shortfall.” … “It was agreed that if Libraries Unlimited is unable to meet any shortfall in funding, the town council would help.”
  • Lancashire – Backlash over child centres – Blackpool Gazette. “She also says the site is too small and insists Lancashire County Council should look at putting more services into closure-threatened libraries instead.  Coun Kay has previously spoken about her concerns to shut library branches in Thornton and Cleveleys”. Cllr Kay says ““I am concerned that Lancashire County Council is proposing to close Thornton and Cleveleys libraries and that the community have been working hard to try to save them both.”
  • Lancashire – A gateway to knowledge – Lancashire Evening Pos / Letters. “Libraries are about freedom.  Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are places where you go to explore, interact and imagine. They are about education for life, about entertainment and about access to information. There is much misunderstanding about what is the purpose of libraries today.”
  • Lancashire – Last push to save Fulwood Library – Blog Preston. “Two ongoing petitions have been created by regular library goers in a final campaign to prevent the closure of Fulwood Library. Lancashire County Council (LCC) has announced the possible closure of 40 libraries across Lancashire and Fulwood Library, in Garstang Road, is the only one to face shutting in Preston. The campaign comes from a group of regular Fulwood Library goers who have devised an online and paper petition against the threat in attempt to gain as many signatures as possible. The e-petition on the LCC website has 163 signatures and the paper petition has over 3500 signatures, which will be handed over on Wednesday 10 July at 4.30pm along with letters received. Last year the library had a total of 47,980 visitors according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOI).”
  • Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland library cuts scrapped – BookSeller. “Libraries NI u-turned on the plans, revealed in May in wake of budget cuts, after an extra £225,000 was reportedly “found to ward off the threat”, according to Belfast Live. The proposals, under which some libraries stood to close for up to an extra day every week, attracted more than 8,000 responses opposing the plans as part of the Libraries NI consultation”
  • Sheffield – Kind of Library – Star (Letters). “If public libraries are allowed to close, not only will it be a loss of books to borrow but a whole concept of life such as the reference library, the manuscripts, the science department, the classics, the list goes on. Public libraries are an important part of the community, giving everyone the opportunity to improve their knowledge if they so wish.I am an avid library user and enjoy every visit. As Jorge Luis Borges said, “I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.”
  • Southampton – Bitterne Parker: Rónán O’Beirne – Bitterne Park Info. “I am passionate about libraries and the ways in which they support people at the various stages of their lives. I am also passionate about providing everyone with the opportunity to learn. In fact, putting these two together, what I’m most passionate about is getting libraries to support learning. I wrote a book about this and my book tours took me to far-flung places like Belgrade, Melbourne and Sydney, where audiences were aghast at the senseless closure of public libraries in the UK – you should be, too! I am, of course, one of the many Friends of Cobbett Road Library, and would encourage people to use this precious facility.”
  • Southampton – See inside new Woolston Library in Southampton – Southern Daily Echo. “Woolston Library will reopen today at its new location in Victoria Road in the emerging Centenary Quay complex. Meanwhile, the former library in Portsmouth Road could be turned into flats if plans are approved by the city council. The new library is part of the £500million plans to redevelop the former Vosper Thornycroft site which will eventually see 1,600 homes built there. Based at the junction of Victoria Road and John Thornycroft Road, it will host an opening day event from 10am.” … “The reopening of Woolston Library comes as five other libraries transferred to community management after the council cut their funding. Weston Library has now reopened in 68 Weston Lane, while Millbrook Library is now open in its new location at the Pickles Coppice Children’s Centre in Windermere Avenue. Cobbett Road and Thornhill libraries have also reopened under new management, but Burgess Road is still unable to open due to “complications with the flooring”, according to the city council.”
  • West Berkshire – Key report on future of libraries will be made public – Newbury Today. “The council is proposing to close Theale and Wash Common libraries and pass the responsibility of others on to volunteers as part of its plan to save £17.5m this year. However, the council was advised by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport that it should first carry out an independent needs assessment to determine the impact. The assessment has now concluded and the findings will be reported back to the council by the end of August. Officers will then work on a set of proposals based on those findings, which will be available on the council’s website.”