I remember when National Libraries Week – as it is now – started  in early 2011.  The first shock of hundreds of threatened library closures were affecting local communities up and down the country. The author and  library campaigner Alan Gibbons hit upon the idea of a Save Our Libraries Day (and checked with a fee people, including, and I am very proud about this, myself)  and simply announced it. The result was something amazing, as this article from the Guardian in 2011 shows. It completely caught the established library community of the time on the hop. Neither the SCL or CILIP initially got behind it and both seemed very much (publicly at least) to want to ignore it, especially as both were very much tied at the time (CILIP is now somewhat more confrontational) to being nice to the Government which was the cause of all of the cuts in the first place.  But it did not go away and it continued year after year, although never at the level of that first tumultuous year.

The advantages of having a public libraries day or week has been noted in other countries (notably the US since 1958) for years and so it’s a bit embarrassing that it took a grass-roots campaign to get one going in this country. However, over the last couple of years, the benefit of such a day (or, as it now turns out, week) have been noted by chief librarians and others, although not by all.  Indeed, it has always been a barometer to me of how deeply pro-austerity a council is as to if it allows its library service to commemorate the day or not. Gradually, and on the part of decision-makers quite deliberately, the Day has moved from one of protest to one of celebrating libraries. Some campaigners will see this as a co-opting  and castrating of something they did by others. Another viewpoint is that the metamorphosis of the event reflects the increasingly maturity and public relations savvy of the sector. The test will be what happens in October and in future years.



National news

  • Axiell Launches new Content Platform – Axiell. “Axiell Content is an integrated cloud publishing platform that makes relevant digital content accessible to anyone, on any platform. It gives customers new levels of choice and flexibility, enabling them to offer a huge range of e-books and other e-media.  Axiell Content can fully integrate with any Library Management System to bring together over 2,500 publishers and millions of titles to any library in the UK.”
  • Bishop of St Albans encourages partnerships between libraries and rural churches – Church in Parliament. House of Lords debate: “The Bishop of St Albans the Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke about the impact closure could have on rural communities and the importance of imaginative partnerships which are developing between libraries and churches”
  • A book isn’t just a book; it’s a doorway – Libraries Taskforce / Gemma Malley, BookTrust. “BookTrust has worked closely with libraries to deliver its programmes since the launch of Bookstart nearly 25 years ago. Librarians and, in particular, Bookstart Co-ordinators, have always been a pivotal part of our network, ensuring that Bookstart Baby packs reach every 0-1 year old via our Bookstart Gifters; that Bookstart Treasure reaches every toddler; and that our various other programmes (Rhyme Time, Time to Read and more) reach families from every walk of life, encouraging them to read to and with their children, engaging them in the joy of stories, and supporting them to develop a reading habit.”

“At BookTrust, we like to say that a book isn’t just a book; it’s a doorway. Children’s libraries open millions of these doorways every year and we couldn’t be more thankful that they do.”

  • CILIP’s LMS Showcase – Autumn 2016 – CILIP. “This Showcase gives library and information professionals the chance to meet with leading LMS suppliers in an informal and relaxed, ‘non-sales’ environment, who will demonstrate their systems, listen to your requirements and find solutions to meet your needs.”
  • Creating the Matilda Effect – Libraries Taskforce / James Bowen, Director of NAHT Edge. ” If you’re a child, your nearest library may well be at school, but if there isn’t a library at school, there’ll certainly be one near where you live. Closing libraries in the name of efficiency or modernisation is a false economy.” … “The relationship between a school and its local library should be a strong one, with visits in both directions. Let me tell you about one particular relationship I’ve heard of recently. There is a library in Hampshire that’s been threatened with closure for some time. The local school has played a really key role in supporting the campaign to keep it open, as they value it so much.”
  • Library Connections – SirsiDynix. “Our lives are nurtured by the people, places and resources available to us—our connections. Our communities thrive on the same. The library makes a world of resources available to your community so everyone can thrive—including you.
    For Libraries: Use this video to tell your story! This video is available a variety of formats. Download for free through http://go.sirsidynix.com/Connections-…
  • ‘If we lose our celebrated bookshops and our libraries we will never improve our nation’s literacy’ – BookSeller. “Baroness Gail Rebuck, chair of Penguin Random House UK, delivered this speech on Thursday 13th October as part of a debate in the House of Lords, where Lord Bird moved that the House of Lords take “note of the cultural, civic and educational significance of local libraries and independent bookshops in the United Kingdom”
  • Minutes of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce – Libraries Taskforce. Minister continuing to delay publication of Ambition document. “Arts Council England to convene a roundtable discussion involving a range of stakeholders to coordinate ideas for research needs” … “Taskforce team to publish the full data spreadsheet [on public libraries] on data.gov.uk, accompanied by a blog and some initial visualisations” … “The Taskforce discussed the current proposals under consideration by library authorities set out in the paper. Some, such as Lancashire, were currently very high profile and the Taskforce noted that the new Minister’s response to these complaints would be strongly scrutinised. ” … “Arts Council England brought forward a paper setting out work to date on developing a standards-based digital platform that could be developed in a modular way, allowing for shared national functionality and also for some elements of tailored local library service use.”

“the best, most powerful, way to combat these reductions was to position libraries effectively with decision-makers as a value for money and effective way to deliver strategic services locally.”

  • Parish Councils, Localism & Libraries – Leon’s Library Blog. “The rationale being that first tier authorities e.g. County, District or Borough Councils are capped by central government in terms of raising council tax but parish councils are not. ” .. ” it is not the desire to empower communities that is the driving force but the harsh financial settlement imposed by central government year on year on councils. Unfortunately, with no lessening of the overall council tax, plus a rise in the local precept, many people regard this as paying twice for the same service.”
  • Responsibilities of Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – Parliament. “One off evidence session on Monday 24 October 2016”
  • War of words as pressure grows over future funding of libraries – Yorkshire Post. Culture ministers reply to House of Lords debate by claiming that libraries are popular and they’re doing a lot for them.
  • Why is National Libraries Day changing? – CILIP. “Following the fifth annual National Libraries Day campaign, CILIP and the steering partners met in summer 2016 to review National Libraries Day, and to identify its strengths and opportunities for improvement. National Libraries Day is a huge source of celebration, fun and pride for the sector and has traditionally received strong support from libraries, partner organisations and library users. February has proven a difficult time of year to hold National Libraries Day as Christmas holidays interrupt the time for planning and the weather has made attracting the public to visit libraries challenging. We want to run a campaign that benefits libraries and is based on a strategic approach, with plans in place for the longer term, and suitable evaluation measures, metrics and good governance in place. We identified a clear set of success factors that the campaign should help serve, such as greater public understanding of what libraries offer, something which would be adaptable to the full range of library activities, new audiences using libraries and coming back, changes in public perception among those who don’t currently use libraries, greater profile and visibility, greater encouragement and support for staff; while retaining the feel good factor and key principles. We agreed forward plans that would help achieve this, including a preference for a week-long celebration at suitable point in the year, and a clean, contemporary identity, based around outcomes and what libraries of all kinds can do for people. The second week of October has no clashes with other major or established events relevant to libraries. It is better time for appealing to visitors than February and offers a better lead-in period without Christmas break and less than a month to prepare in January. We hope that the timing enables schools to participate, through activity at their school or public library.”

International news

  • Australia – Libraries Aren’t A Source Of Silence, But An Escape From It – Huffington Post. “…children’s activities are part of the new incarnation of libraries, in which they are as much community focal points as public collections of reading and reference materials. While the books remain, now there are also computer stations, robotics workshops, film screenings and even pyjama parties.”
  • Eire – Wanted! Dublin City Public Libraries Reader in Residence – Writing. “Each reader-in-residence will deliver a programme of planned activities based around the idea of reading as fun, with the activities being geared to different age groups and genres.”
  • Lebanon – Lebanese refuse to turn the page on public libraries – Gulf News. “Lebanon boasts the highest rate of reading among Arab states and ranks an impressive 37th globally. But, despite its 95 per cent literacy rate, many believe that the pursuit of knowledge remains an elitist privilege in the country as many Lebanese cannot afford to buy books. This is why public libraries have always been and continue to be an important resource for Lebanese.” … “There are a total of 80 public libraries throughout Lebanon, which is impressive given that some are in remote locations like Aitit, Srifa, Joun and Jezzine, all in South Lebanon, where access to public facilities are rare”
  • Sweden – The unique story of Stockholm’s floating libraries – Local. “Each autumn and spring the Stockholm Library Service charters a boat and for a week, travelling north to south in a big curve, it visits many of the outlying islands of the archipelago to provide a floating library service. The timetable for stops is published and the boat is met at a number of watery locations by islanders with baskets of books from their last borrowing. They return the books and stock up with reading for the season ahead. Some have been using the service for most of their lives.”
  • USA – Autism Accessible Browsing: a Community Effort at the Iowa City Public Library – Web Junction. “It’s a simple enough story: two parents saw a need at their library, took initiative and worked with library staff to hold a program. On second glance, though, there is a lot libraries can learn from the experience of this group of three—spanning identifying unseen needs, involving expertise from outside the library, and community building to make the library accessible to more people.”
  • USA – ‘Our temples of culture’: readers reflect on their favorite libraries across the US – Guardian. “To coincide with the New York Public Library reopening its Rose main reading room for the first time in two years earlier this month, we asked you for your photos and stories of the US libraries you’ve discovered”

Local news by authority

  • Bedford – ‘Frustration, anger and upset’: Residents hit back at library proposals as deadline approaches – Bedfordshire News. “Bedford Borough Council first proposed closing some libraries as part of their plans to save £21 million over the next four years, but dropped the option after ‘strong opposition’ from the public. Instead, the authority introduced a ‘digital library service’ model among the plans, as reported by Bedfordshire On Sunday at the start of October, which would see users enter buildings to take out books and use computers using a library card and unique PIN during unmanned hours. The consultation was extended from Monday, October 17 to Friday, October 21 after Councillor Sue Oliver questioned why meetings were planned at libraries across the borough to inform residents of proposals on either the same day, or after the consultation period closed”
  • Bedford – Letters: ​Our vital libraries – Bedfordshire on Sunday. “On 17.10.16 Andy Collins on BBC Three Counties Radio was discussing the proposed ‘Digital Libraries’ plan for our local Libraries. I had attended a Consultation Meeting at Putnoe Library on 5.10.16 (along with approx 60 others) and chaired by a library boss, a member of the Consultation Team and Cllr Holland” … “If the council have not got the facts on how much each of the proposed options will save, why are they hell-bent on implementing ‘Digital Libraries’, and how can they possibly justify doing this when it will have a drastic effect on the users of Libraries?”
  • Birmingham – Library cuts to open north-south divide with just two to serve quarter of Birmingham – Birmingham Mail. Only two libraries will still be open north of the M6.
  • Brent – Brent SOS Libraries Organised it’s Fifth Light of Learning Relay – Preston Library and Community Hub. “Brent SOS Libraries organised its fifth light of learning relay to celebrate our steadfast commitment to our libraries. A torch was carried in relay from Kensal to Cricklewood to Tokyngton to Barham and finishing at Preston, with readings at each stop. This year the theme was celebrating community libraries across Brent”
  • Bury – Revealed: What Bury residents think about proposed shake up of borough’s libraries – Guide. “Some 3,536 took part in a consultation process and 500 others were interviewed over the telephone. Last month, the council’s support services representative Cllr Sandra Walmersley said: “The consultation has shown clear support for the six principles on which to base the future of the library service.”” but FOI shows less support “The library was described as a “lifeline” by one interviewee, while another said: “Views include: “Don’t close local libraries, think of the visitors,” and “The library is a lifeline for many people. ”Another said: “It’s not just about visitor numbers, it’s the difference it makes to people’s lives and that includes young and old.” Many raised concerns about the possibility of staff being replaced by volunteers. “People should be paid to run libraries,” said One resident said: “Volunteers are not always as capable or well-informed as paid, purposefully employed people.”
  • Ceredigion – Free rent offer for Cardigan Library turned down – Tivy-Side Advertiser. “Cardigan Library will be on the move following a decision to turn down an offer of five years free rent at its current site. Cabinet Members meeting on Tuesday agreed with a proposal to move a smaller Cardigan Library to the council’s Morgan Street office. The decision comes after the landlord of Canolfan Teifi offered Ceredigion County Council the opportunity to stay where it is with five years free rent. A petition from Cardigan residents gained well over 800 signatures following concerns for the future of the ‘essential’ services provided by the library.”

“It means that Cardigan will retain a library service but that Ceredigion County Council would rather spend tens of thousands on refurbishing a building on a corner of a busy road to make a tiny library rather than take up a generous offer of five years’ free rent at the current premises”

  •  Cheshire West and Chester – Upton and Alsager libraries to welcome children’s puppet musical – Chester Chronicle. “In Brian’s library the books are all in a muddle. The romance is sweet talking the DIY manual, the dictionary is editing the whodunnit, and it is all getting too much for hapless librarian Brian. The only ones who can help him are the squabbling books themselves, but in order to do that they must first face their deadliest enemy. To save their confused library (and its confused librarian) the books must work together – but how?”
  • Cumbria – Library date for acclaimed Welsh solo artist Meilyr Jones North West Evening Mail. Part of Get It Loud In Libraries.
  • Fife – Plans to keep libraries in three Fife communities progressed – Courier. “Members of the region’s executive committee have approved Falkland Village Hall Trust’s plan for a community takeover of the library facility in Falkland. Meanwhile, a joint business plan from the Glenrothes Area Residents Association (GARF) and West Glenrothes Tenants and Residents Association for a community-run library in Glenwood — replacing the town’s Glenwood Library — has also been given the go ahead for further progression.”
  • Lancashire – Calls for culture minister to visit Lancashire library that’s due to close – 2BR. “Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has called on the secretary of state for culture to visit Whalley library.” …””It was felt that it was important that the Secretary of State should view the situation on the ground for herself. The recent decision to refer the closure of Libraries across Lancashire direct to the Secretary of State, who is ultimately responsible for the provision of Library Services across England & Wales under the terms of the 1964 Public Libraries & Museums Act, which requires Local Authorities to provide a Comprehensive Library Service to residents, will give Karen an opportunity to see what a vital community asset the Library is.””
  • Lancashire – Civic party visit in last-ditch bid to save library – Clitheroe Advertiser and Times. MP Nigel Evans invites culture secretary to come to Lancashire and see the problem of cutting libraries rather than just doing a paper exercise in Whitehall.
  • Lancashire – Deadline set for county building transfer – Lancashire Council. “Anyone who would like to make an expression of interest in buildings which the council has said it no longer needs following agreement of a new Property Strategy, has until Monday 31 October to do so. “
  • Lancashire – Harris proposals polarise opinion – Lancashire Evening Post. “Some readers raised fears over the funding of the project, in the wake of library closures and major budget cuts to councils, but bosses said up to 90 per cent of the cash would come from external sources. Jon Finch, re-imagining the Harris project leader, said: “We are already progressing plans to secure as much as 90 per cent of the funding for the Harris from external sources. “
  • Lancashire – Hyperfast broadband to breathe new life into village – Westmorland Gazette. [Silverdale Library had the chance to be the first Gigabit Library in the UK but was closed by the council this year – Ed.]
  • North Yorkshire – Town considers paying its own librarian tax to keep library afloat – Darlington and Stockton Times. “Stokesley Parish Council is hoping the chance of making the town’s library sustainable has improved dramatically, after negotiating a reduction in the landlord’s £9,000 service charge for the premises. ” … “The parish council is also going to consult with residents about the prospect of funding a full-time librarian by increasing the parish council precept by an amount that is likely to be equivalent to about 15p per household per week. “
  • Oxfordshire – Library will offer more than just books when it reopens as budget rises by £2m – Oxford Times. “revamp of Oxford’s central library will be expanded to make it a ‘community hub’ thanks to a £2.1m cash boost. As well as a new entrance, extra windows and a bigger children’s area, the library in the Westgate Shopping Centre will now receive a major refurbishment, better disabled facilities and improved wireless internet. It comes after Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet pledged on Tuesday to increase the project’s budget from £1.5m to £3.6m. Cabinet member for culture Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said it meant the flagship facility could make ‘a big return’ when it reopens in Autumn 2017.”
  • Powys – It is world famous as the town of books but Hay-on-Wye could lose its library – Wales Online. “Powys council says huge financial pressures from central government mean it has to slash spending. Part of that is funding for libraries, with the authority hoping communities are prepared to take on the running of smaller branch libraries.” see also Hay-on-Wye: Town of books could lose its library – BBC. “Town mayor Fiona Howard called the move “not morally right”, saying residents had been asked to raise £18,000 a year to keep it open. If a funding solution cannot be found by the end of October, a consultation on closure could start”
  • South Gloucestershire – Council backtracks on proposed library cuts – Bradley Stoke Journal. “South Gloucestershire Council has backtracked on controversial plans to close or severely restrict opening hours at many of its libraries after thousands of people voiced opposition to a range of cost-cutting options outlined in a recent public consultation. Instead, councillors have voted to investigate the use of a new technology, known as ‘Open Plus’, which it is claimed allows users to access the full range of library services without the need for staffing”
  • Suffolk – Will library services be provided like for like in the future? Suffolk Libraries. “theres a lot of competition out there. Twenty years ago, we had a monopoly on providing books and information for those who didn’t automatically stroll into a bookshop. That’s changed. With Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, charity shops and community bookswaps, we no longer have a monopoly and we appear to be irrelevant and anachronistic to the influential decision makers. Our greatest strength is that we offer great people services by great people. Let’s keep that high on our own agenda, and everyone else’s.” … “Our library mutual is in its fifth year, and it’s been a steady slog to establish a new organisation with community ownership, keep all our libraries open and ensure we still have expert staff. In the beginning it was especially hard to do all of this while running the service, reassure the customers and motivate the staff”

“If I was 16 now and starting again, I’d still want to be a librarian, I’d still want to help shape the new world. Change is a challenge and not an obstacle.” Alison Wheeler, chief of Suffolk Libraries.

  • Walsall – Walsall plans to slash libraries from 16 to one – BookSeller. “Walsall Council has revealed plans to cut the libraries in the borough from 16 to one in a bid to help make £86m worth of savings, the BBC has reported. The council will need to make the savings by the end of the 2019-20 financial year. The authority, a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition, said it had to “look at everything… on the table”.” see also Plans to cut Walsall Council libraries from 16 to one revealed – BBCAsked why leader Sean Coughlan had previously said in opposition there would be no library closures, deputy leader Lee Jeavons told the BBC: “When we looked at that last year, obviously we were in opposition.” and Council cuts could close Caruso St John’s Walsall art gallery – Architects Journal.
  • Warrington – Emotions run high as ‘exceptionally damaging’ library closure proposals come before full council – Warrington Guardian. “Determined campaigners staged a protest outside the Town Hall ahead of the meeting to make their stance clear to councillors. The Save Warrington’s Libraries campaign continues to gather momentum, and, following the protest, those involved got the chance to have their say in the chamber”.  Council says “The consultation is ongoing – until then we know nothing at all”
  • Warrington – MP questions rationale over cuts to library services – Warrington Worldwide. “Warrington North MP Helen Jones has questioned the rationale behind the £300K cuts being proposed for library services when compared to the overall cuts operators LiveWire are having to make. Ms Jones said :“I understand that Live Wire’s Chief Executive has publicly stated that the organisation is making £300K cuts in the library services and £350K cuts across the rest of its activities.”

“It is also worth noting that figures used in their consultation have been wrong – they appear to have believed that there are only nine months in a year.”