There’s more than one way to ban a book. Forcing people to pay for it, when they can ill afford to, is one. Not letting people know of its existence is another. Downplaying the importance of it, or saying it’s evil, a third. Getting rid of people who know about that book and will recommend it at just the right time is a fourth.  Oh, there are many ways. The UK counts itself fortunate that it does not censor like so much of the world and do not have the kneejerk “Harry Potter Is A Satanist” viewpoint of some in the USA but we need to be careful: censorship can be subtler than simply having a Censor. The link between closing librarians and losing librarians and Banned Books Week is rightly drawn out by a few articles in the UK – I think for the first time – in the post below. Worth a read. Like so many things which are banned.

Also, please note that it’s #FollowALibrary day this Friday. Get your social media tweets scheduled in now. Tell your friends. And your politicians.


National news

  • Banned Books Week launches with call to read books the ‘closed-minded’ want shut – Guardian. “The author of a children’s picture book chronicling the transgender journey of Jazz Jennings has urged readers to celebrate Banned Books Week this year “by picking up a book that some closed-minded person out there wanted desperately to keep out of your hands”. America’s annual celebration of the right to read, which has been joined by authors and readers in the UK, kicked off on Sunday with a series of displays, events and readings across the US, focusing for 2016 on diverse books. According to the American Library Association, more than half of all banned books are by authors of colour, or focus on diverse communities.” … “This year, for the first time in the UK, the British Library, the Free Word Centre and Islington council in London are also coming together to promote the week. Reading groups and book clubs will be promoting a list of 40 books that have been subjected to calls for censorship, from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, while the British Library is holding an evening of discussion about censorship, featuring the controversial young adult novelist Melvin Burgess” see also Libraries raise awareness of Banned Books Week – BookSeller and Banned Books week: activities and insights – Libraries Taskforce / Islington Libraries.

“Censorship of books does occur, however, at a much more local level. I remember very well the librarian who kept my books in a locked cupboard at the back of the library, so that no innocent youngster could inadvertently come across them, and suffer god only knows what forms of psychic shock or corruption. That’s an extreme example, but that librarian was acting in the manner in which censorship against books does occur; by the system of gatekeepers. I’m referring to those people who are in a position to control or regulate books to young people; librarians, teachers, bookseller managers, parents – in other words, the very people whose job it is to encourage reading are the ones who also take it upon themselves to limit it.” Melvyn Burgess

““In the UK it is easy to take the freedom to read, think and create for granted,” he said. “Yet decisions such as the one taken by Lancashire Council to close 20 library services put the basic principle of equal access to books and reading at risk. Children in those towns and communities will be denied the access to the knowledge they need to read, learn and get on in life. It shows that we have to keep fighting ‎for the basic right to benefit from a strong local library service.” Nick Poole, CILIP

  • Banned Books Week: closing libraries is tantamount to censorship – CILIP / SF Said. ” write in my local public library.  It’s inspiring for a writer to work in the home of books, and to imagine that your book might one day join them, and help to shape a new generation.  Of course, that depends on books finding readers.  And that depends largely on librarians – especially children’s librarians.  I believe there’s a book for everyone out there, if you can only find it among the 10,000+ children’s books published every year in the UK.  This means we need to enable the widest possible access to literature for young readers, and support anything that helps children find the books that will make them lifelong readers.  “

“I see parents and carers bringing children into the library to find books, because they know children will be able to make a free choice from a well-stocked selection, with expert help on hand.  I see them coming in for story-time and sing-alongs; or for author visits, reading challenges, and all the other activities the librarians organise … Library cuts and closures limit access to variety, to diversity, to new ideas.  They limit it just as surely as state censorship.  We are fortunate to live in the UK at a time when overt censorship is considered unconscionable.  But doesn’t taking away access lead to the same result by different means?  A smaller number of books, a narrower range of ideas and perspectives, an impoverished imagination that is not given what it needs to grow.   “

  • Celebrating Library Cooperation – Whelf. “A new library management system which will promote collaboration between cross-sector libraries in Wales will be celebrated at an event in the National Assembly today (Thursday 22 September 2016).” .. “The successful introduction of the new system across the WHELF network, alongside implementation of the first phase of a shared library management system for public libraries, will today be celebrated at an event at the Senedd with Julie James AM, the Minister for Skills and Science.” … “Mandy Powell, Head of CILIP Cymru Wales said: “It is thrilling to see a project of this scope and ambition being rightly celebrated. Librarians, Information and Knowledge Managers are all experts in the world of information and whether it is using their extensive skills to benefit users by widening access, saving money or opening up collections, great things happen when librarians are involved.””
  • Digital Participation and Social Justice in Scotland – Carnegie UK Trust. “Addressing the digital divide is one of the great social challenges of our age. Digital Participation and Social Justice in Scotland examines the link between being offline and other forms of social deprivation. Drawing on detailed statistical analysis by Ipsos MORI, tells us who is offline, why and what we can do about it. Read the report and get in touch to tell us how the findings relate to your own experience and knowledge of digital and social exclusion. “
  • Healthier and happier lives: how libraries deliver – Libraries Taskforce. Looks at public library involvement in health, including new health icon. Includes look at libraries and autism, Reading Well, Gloucestershire’s Make Friends With A Book, co-location with health services.
  • Libraries the backbone of national Get Online Week – Tinder Foundation (press release). “This October it’s national Get Online Week – an annual campaign which targets the 12.6 million Brits who don’t have basic digital skills. Get Online Week (17-23 October) celebrates it’s 10th birthday this year, and over the last decade has engaged more than 500,000 people – encouraging them to get online and see how the internet could make life easier, cheaper, healthier – and more fun.  With more than a third of all Get Online Week events taking place in libraries, the library network has proved to be the backbone of the campaign – which is managed by leading digital inclusion charity Tinder Foundation … Chief Executive at Tinder Foundation is Helen Milner. She says: “Libraries have been an important part of the success of Get Online Week – not least because the branch library network provides instant outreach opportunities in the heart of communities. As trusted spaces, they’re ideal locations for Get Online Week taster sessions and events. What’s more, libraries can use their position within the community to work with other community organisations and partners to really reach out to new and excluded groups.”
  • Local Studies Librarian of the Year 2016 – nominations now open – Local Studies Group. “Do you know a Local Studies Librarian that has gone the extra mile? Have they pioneered an amazing project or given a career of excellent service to their community? If you do, nominate them for the 2016 McCulla Prize, the annual Local Studies Librarian of the Year Award.”. Nominations close 30th September.
  • PPRG annual conference – Library marketing and PR: critical to success – CILIP. Various speakers at conference on 18th November in Birmingha, “In addition, you will be able to hear from the winners of our 2016 Marketing Excellence Awards, sharing their experience and tips for great academic and public library campaigns!”
  • Radio 2 Book Club: Bring Back the King – Reading Groups for Everyone. “The book was selected with the help of a panel made up of Reading Agency and library staff from across the UK. Find out more about the non-fiction strand of the Radio 2 Book Club.”
  • Summer Reading Challenge 2016 Have Your Say – Reading Agency. “We hope you enjoyed doing The Big Friendly Read in 2016. We’d really like to find out about how it went, so please answer these 14 easy questions to tell us about it and help us make sure the Summer Reading Challenge is as good as it can be. If you complete the questions you can enter a prize draw to win a £30 shopping voucher. The winner will be drawn at the end of October 2016. We will analyse the results and publish them in a freely available report. Your individual responses will be kept anonymous. We might use extracts from your comments on our website or for the media but you will not be named. The results will also help your local library understand more about your experience.”
  • Teens and Libraries – #Uklibchat. “Our next #uklibchat will take place on Tuesday 4 October from 18:30-20:30 UK time. The topic will be “Teens and Libraries”.  If you work in a school library, further education, a public library and any other sector that involves working with teenagers, or someone who is intrested in this area, this could be a good chat for you.” see also Working with Teens in Libraries – Matt Imrie. “Most of what I have written below has been learned from my years working with young people in public libraries, I have successfully transitioned from a public to school librarian and found that most of the skills I have picked up are still usable in a school context.”

International news

  • Global – #FollowALibrary Day is Sept. 30, 2016 – Stephens Lighthouse. “On #SocialMediaDay 2016, a group of libraries started using #LibraryFollow to share out libraries they enjoyed following and encourage others to follow. They gave library mentions to multiple libraries in tweets which resulted in greater exposure for all, and other libraries joined in. Follows were still coming in up to three days after the event. Currently some libraries are using #LibraryFollow when they are followed by another library account.”
  • USA – 7 Reasons the Government Must Stop Little Free Libraries for the Sake of the Nation – Activist Post. Deliciously ironic article. “There are many reasons that these unapproved libraries cannot be allowed. Their potential to damage to the social order is unfathomable. If you think Little Free Libraries are in any way acceptable, then you probably hate America, pug puppies, and snow cones on a hot day.”
  • USA – Whether they wear a cape or a cardigan, librarians are intellectual freedom fighters” – Libraries Transform. “The freedom to choose what we read from the fullest array of possibilities is firmly rooted in the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Even as we enjoy a seemingly limitless and expanding amount of information, there is always a danger in someone else selecting what is available to whom. Censorship threatens our right to choose for ourselves”. For Banned Books Week.

Supporter’s news

  • Nielsen LibScan Public Library Borrowing data Period 7 (4 weeks to the 16 July 2016)  – Nielsen. “Library loans through Nielsen LibScan for Period 7 of 2016 (ending 16 July) were down year-on-year by 13.8% overall.  This is not as much of a decline as we saw in period 6 (4 weeks ending 18 June).  An additional 776k books were borrowed from Libraries in period 7 of 2015 but the total has now dropped to 5m library loans in the 4-weeks through Nielsen LibScan for Period 7.  The Children’s category has suffered the least with 9.7% decline year-on-year whilst the biggest category, Adult Fiction has dropped by 17% year-on-year totalling 2.1m loans in period 7.  Nielsen LibScan panel is free to join – why not find out more?. For more information click here or email: sales.book@nielsen.com “

Local news by authority

  • Devon – Exciting plans for Ottery St Mary’s long-awaited new library are on display – Sidmouth Herald. “Exciting new plans for the long-awaited library in Ottery St Mary will be revealed this week and people are invited to give their feedback. A dedicated ‘teen zone’, a ‘bigger and better’ children’s area, greater selection of books, more reading space and step-free access are among the benefits being proposed for the facility’s relocation to the former NatWest Bank premises in Silver Street. Libraries Unlimited – the social enterprise responsible for running Devon’s libraries – have put plans for the layout of the new library on display as part of a two-week consultation and members of the public are invited to give their views by Friday, October 7.”
  • Lancashire – Cabinet dismisses pleas to save county libraries – Lancashire Evening Post. “It took less than two hours today for Lancashire County Council’s cabinet to sign the final execution papers for a host of Lancashire libraries and children’s centres – despite being forced to think again.” … “This followed a cross party demand from Conservative, Labour and Green councillors for a re-think” see also Decision upheld on Lancashire’s at risk libraries and children’s centres – 2BR.
  • Lancashire – Independent review confirms scale of challenge to county council finances – Lancashire County Council. Price Waterhouse Coopers consultancy report says “The report has identified that the Council will need to make savings of £148m in 2020/21, “even allowing for council tax increases of 3.99% every year for the next four years” [I understand this report that tells the council it has no money has cost them over £1 million in consultancy fees so far – Ed.]
  • Lancashire – Lancashire libraries – closures confirmed – Lancashire Headline News. Video. “The fate of dozens of libraries and children’s centres across Lancashire was sealed today – with confirmation they would be shutting their doors.”
  • Lancashire – Library campaigners react to news 100 buildings will be closed – 2BR. “It’s a kick in the teeth for residents, who have been fighting for the future of their libraries and children’s centres since news broke they were in jeopardy.” … “”It’s going to be a huge loss to all of Lancashire. Children won’t have anywhere to study after school. We’re telling older people to stay at home, offsetting huge mental health issues, and be part of a community. We’re underiming communities right across Lancashire”
  • Lancashire – We all need more libraries, not fewer – Blackpool Gazette / Letters. “Today, in the name of austerity, libraries are being closed or staffed by volunteers. However willing they are, they are not qualified librarians. For several decades now, I have argued for more and extended, libraries, incorporating modern technology. Libraries with children’s corners. Reading is a first step on the road to life and culture, education and work. Let us have more libraries and, yes, adult education centres .The money is there. Better books, not bombs.”
  • Leicestershire – Fresh calls to save Desford Library from the axe – Hinckley Times. “Liberal Democrat councillor Michael Mullaney (Hinckley) urged County Hall bosses to rethink plans to turn the village library into a mobile service.” … “The future of the library appeared to be secure after an agreement was reached between Desford Community Group and Leicestershire County Council to hand over control to the volunteers. However following legal advice, the group says it wants the council to spend £45,000 on repairs, mainly to its slate roof, before it signs a 10-year lease agreement.”
  • Sheffield –  Don’t belittle the efforts of library volunteers – Yorkshire Post / Letters. ” Definitions of “library” do not necessarily include the presence of paid and trained staff. The books are the important element. Public libraries have a remit to serve the community, which they continue to do by the teams of volunteers who have freely given of their time and interest to provide facilities for others: not just the lending of books but also reading groups, story times for young children and computer access – all facilities provided by council-run branches.” … ” In the face of so many library closures and the resulting detriment to local activities, volunteers are essential, and it is mean-spirited and patronising of your correspondent to belittle their efforts.”
  • Swindon – Petition to save Park Library passes 800 names – This is Wiltshire. “Current proposals would see the Cavendish Square facility closed by the middle of next year unless the community can come up with a way of securing the funds to run, stock and staff it. ” … “Park Library was a surprise omission from the core service that the council plan to maintain – set as it is in an economically deprived area, it is an obvious candidate for continued support on the grounds of social and educational need alone. “
  • Wakefield – Wakefield Library opening hours cut down to save £150,000 – Yorkshire Evening Post. “From next week all of the council’s 13 libraries will operate on reduced hours.The council held a public consultation in June and said that the new opening times will help it to continue offering library services across the district. About 2,000 people took part in the consultation and many of them were in favour of the libraries opening later in the day and keeping late night opening. Coun Les Shaw, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “Unfortunately in the current climate we simply have no choice to reduce our spending and cut opening hours. We have listened to what people have said and have made changes to the original proposals.”  The changes come into effect on Monday October 3. “
  • Warrington – Green Party urges LiveWire to reconsider library closure proposals – Warrington Guardian. “Warrington and Halton Green Party has slammed LiveWire over its library closure proposals and urged it to reconsider immediately. The Greens also believe replacing libraries with lending lockers will be detrimental to communities across the town. The party’s education spokesman Harry Gibbins said: “What’s most alarming about LiveWire’s proposals for Warrington’s libraries is the suggestion that the only options available are doing nothing, massively cutting opening hours, or so-called ‘future proofing’, which consists largely of replacing libraries with book lockers.” … “The ‘cultural hubs’ system in St Helens, for instance, has proven that we can reinvigorate our libraries and turn them into multi-purpose, sustainable and local facilities. “On this basis, Warrington and Halton Green Party urges LiveWire to reconsider its proposals.””
  • Warrington – Save Warrington’s Libraries – Campaign group website. “Warrington is proud to have the oldest public library in the country – our central library set up in 1848. The town also hosts a wonderful and valued network of community libraries used by thousands of people. But Livewire, the community interest company responsible for running Warrington’s libraries, sports centres and cultural centres, is proposing a swathe of cuts and reductions to quality libraries across Warrington. Warrington Borough Council will decide on the future of libraries and must reject these proposals and save all of our libraries.”