A quiet couple of days when it comes to library news and, actually, I quite like that.  I’m tracking quite a lot of protest though.  Here’s some examples. In Plymouth, there’s a large amount of love being expressed for the threatened libraries there – I’ve just been speaking to a journalist there who was if anything unhappier than I am about cuts to libraries.  Warrington has not gone entirely quiet either – there’s some concern that news that all libraries have been saved there is not quite what it seems.  Finally, the good people of Darlington are getting really quite upset about the projected loss of their central library. So, there’s all this energy for libraries but it’s all after the cuts happen.  But i many ways that’s too late. What we need is preparation beforehand and enough support that councils don’t reach for the axe so much in the first place.  It’s therefore great to see the advocacy/campaigning and lobbying being discussed by EveryLIbrary in the USA. Closer to home, I’m delighted to see a very timely post from Irvine Welsh about Scottish libraries (in good time for their elections) and also a new chair, ex-librarian Sheffield MP Gill Furniss for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for libraries.  It seem we are learning, slowly and painfully, that placards are not as good as avoiding  the need for protest in the first place.



  • Boxheads – design your own Minecraft head.

National news

  • Britain’s local councils face financial crisis – Economist. “… the mayor of Liverpool, says that, even if he closed all 19 libraries in the city and its nine sports centres, stopped maintaining its 140 parks, halted all highway repairs and street cleaning and switched off 50,000 streetlights, he would save only £68m—which is £22m short of what he must cut by 2020. So there will have to be a further 10% reduction in the social-care budget, he says.”
  • Call for papers is now open – I2I2 Innovation, inspiration an creativity conference. “We are looking for people that can contribute their experiences and knowledge to the conference. The overall theme of the conference is Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity, with a subtheme this year of “making, playing, co-creating”. This covers library and information work in any sector and anywhere in the world, along with associated professions.”
  • Information literacy: why should you care? – UkLibChat. “Public libraries and librarians have a vital role to play in supporting an information literate population. Activities such as lifelong learning, internet safety and privacy awareness, reader support, and civic engagement – such as hosting MP surgeries or acting as a focal point for local campaign groups – are all avenues that could be used to develop IL in the general public”. The next online LibChat is on Information Literacy, Tuesday 7 February, 6.30pm – 8.30pm GMT ,
  • Libraries matter to Irvine Welsh – Herald Scotland. “He has been in Scotland for the premiere in Edinburgh of the sequel film T2 Trainspotting, with the cast and director Danny Boyle. He took time to lend his support to a national campaign from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS). According to the institute public libraries return £8 for every £1 invested and have 28 million visits a year, more than premiership football in Scotland. However they are still often seen as a soft target by many local authorities.”
  • Making Library Makers – School of Library Makers. “Making Library Makers is a friendly and practical introduction for those interested in providing a makerspace, maker events or any other kind of active learning spaces in their library. Learn about creative computing and different ways to run learn-to-code workshops; Find out about different maker technologies and what you can do with them, including paper circuits, Scratch, Raspberry Pi, 3D printing, Arduino and more; Get real-time help as you work through the projects at your own pace; Put together a makerspace plan that really works for your library.”. [The course is £169 and is made up of 4 modules. So though it’s self-paced, the creators  estimate it can be completed over 4 weeks with 2-3 hours per week including the project work – Ed.]
  • One in ten people do not own a single book while half of all families text each other if they are all at home – Daily Mail. “And it seems the younger generation are less bothered about owning literature as the figure for those who do not have any books rises to one in five people aged between 18 and 24.” … “The study, carried out by insurance company Aviva, will reveal that a staggering 6.5million people in the UK do not own a book. Research published two years ago to coincide with World Book Day revealed the average homeowner had 158 books inside their property, reports Helen Davies at the Sunday Times. “ see also One in 10 UK homes doesn’t possess a single book… But UK homes have 8.2 internet-enabled devices – Aviva.
  • One Taskforce, 1 strategy document, 4 cities, c300 people, and lots of conversation – Libraries Taskforce. “My team is now collecting and collating all the notes of discussions, questions asked, interviews, presentations and workshop sessions and, over the next couple of weeks, we plan to publish a series of blogs which will share that detail. There’s a lot to digest but, before we move on to that, I wanted to share some initial reflections and, most importantly, to thank all those who took part.”
  • Sheffield MP Gill Furniss leads prominent Westminster group for libraries – CILIP. “Sheffield MP and Shadow Minister Gill Furniss will Chair the re-launched All-Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries. A special event will celebrate the re-launch at the House of Lords on Tuesday 31 January. Children’s Laureate and political cartoonist Chris Riddell has produced a dedicated illustration for the event celebrating how librarians create the readers of the future.”

International news

  • Canada – Toronto is making a big push to upgrade its libraries – Blogto. “it’ll feature a far more robust  computer area, a technology centre complete with a 3-D printer, a specially designed kids area, and a social space being dubbed the “urban living room” … “No less than seven branches are currently undergoing renovation efforts, including Agincourt, Eglinton Square, RunnymedeSt. Clair/Silverthorn, and Wychwood. In each case, the goal is the same: to modify the existing space to serve more as a community hub rather than merely a quiet place to study or read.”

“If your local branch hasn’t been updated, it might seem like the very idea of an extensive library system is outdated. But the TPL has made major strides over the last half decade to modernize its branches, efforts that are starting to show across the network.”

  • Global – German Media Giant Betting on Ink and Paper as E-Books Falter – Bloomberg. Ebook sales have declined over last two years while print book sales have stabilised.
  • USA – Illegal downloaders find the going slow at Naperville Public Library – Naperville Sun. “”If someone from a torrent site is trying that, we slow the speed down so much that it discourages them from downloading anything,” Rothenfluh said. “And we’ve found that that works for us.””
  • USA – In Trump’s America, Activist Librarians Who Won’t Be Shushed MTV. “Our next president has not spent much time in libraries. Reading is unnecessary, Donald Trump told The Washington Post, because he always makes good decisions “with very little knowledge other than the knowledge I [already] had.” These wise choices include spreading conspiracy theories borrowed from respected sources such as “many people are saying.” And his favorite book, The Art of the Deal, is less a window than a slab of stained glass commemorating himself, through which the outside world is only dimly visible. As someone who believes that truth goes to the victors — and specifically those unashamed to chip away at facts with a million @s — Trump won’t be speaking much about the power of libraries over the next four years. That won’t eliminate their power, however; in a world where faith in American institutions is crumbling, people still trust libraries. And just as they have with every other monumental development in American history — whether technological, cultural, or existential — librarians are already preparing for how to evolve to serve us best.”
  • USA – Library Closures and Defunding Concerns in 2017 – EveryLibrary. “It already looks like 2017 will be a daunting year for library funding and support across the country. We are disheartened to report at least two public library closures and a continued decline of school library funding and support. We are also concerned about an empowered Republican Study Committee who have proposed Federal Budgets with an agenda that includes defunding the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services which provides millions of dollars in grant funding to libraries. We will continue to see well organized institutions like the Koch Brothers funded Americans For Prosperity PAC come after libraries. That’s why we are starting this year by asking you to help us stand up against these initiatives and support our nation’s libraries.”
  • USA – The Wonderful World of Non-Traditional Library Collections: Spotlight on Seeds – Hack Library School. “mention this wide variety of non-traditional collections for inspiration in the face of the tired old “Nobody reads anymore, and libraries are doomed because of Google” argument (but also just because they’re awesome). We know that libraries are in the process of transforming. We are right in the middle of that transformation, so it’s hard to always be sure of where we’re headed. But I feel strongly that libraries, especially public ones, can take this moment to own their role as the traditional, non-commercial center of the community. We are the gathering place; we provide the opportunity to learn something new and the chance to connect with your friends and neighbors while doing it.”

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – Town council sets aside £150k to save Sutton Coldfield Library but bars outsiders from negotiations – Sutton Coldfield Observer. “Agreement has been reached to set aside a fighting fund from town council’s budget to save Sutton Coldfield’s library but there was anger as members voted to prevent rival parties and a campaign group from joining the negotiations. At a packed meeting of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council on Tuesday (January 24) night members of the public passionately pleaded with councillors to give financial support to save Sutton’s library based at the Red Rose Centre which faces being axed at the end of March. In a light-hearted moment Zoe Toft, from The Library Lobby, stood up during public questions and showed books she had picked from the town centre library for councillors demonstrating the depth of what was on offer and the relevance of libraries to people’s lives today. She said: “I went to the library and I have got a personal pick for each and every councillor. For Cllr [Keith] Ward I have the Good Beer Guide to Germany. For Cllr [Ewan] Mackey 50 Great Golfing Tips…”

“Despite a consultation revealing 91 percent opposition to library service cuts, Darlington will press ahead with an unpopular scheme to squeeze its central library into a leisure centre, which doesn’t have enough room for all of the books and a large proportion of the local history materials.  As a result, books and local archive materials will be kept in… a nearby multi-storey car park. Darlington council wants to move the library out of its grade II-listed Crown Street building, a bequest to the town from 19th century railway pioneer Edward Pease, and into the Dolphin Centre.  As reported in Eye 1420, this cost-saving move could in fact be quite costly, with relocation prices at £1.7m.  However, the hope is to recoup the cash by selling the old building.

Campaigners had hoped this would be impossible as it is held on trust for use as a public library only.  However, the council’s cabinet is sole trustee of the bequest and believes it could legally sell the building if it uses the proceeds for library funding. According to the revamped plans, the local studies centre will move into the former registrar’s office within the Dolphin Centre, but “as funding has been reduced” a lot of the material will have to be stored off site, with plans to create a storage facility “within the Beaumont street multi-storey car park” — itself opened last year to alleviate a shortage of spaces in the town centre.” Darlington – Library News – Private Eye (not available online).

  • Bury – Final chapter for 11 of Bury’s 14 libraries – Bury Times. “Whitefield Library is set to close under council plans to save cash. Prestwich Library will be saved as Bury Council prepares to lose at least 10 of its 14 libraries. In the worst-case scenario the proposals could potentially see 11 of the facilities shut down, as major changes are made to the borough’s library services. Residents have expressed their outrage over the plans to shut Whitefield Library and Adult Learning Centre, which many claim is a “lifeline” for some of the town’s most vulnerable people.”
  • Devon – Bampton Library ready to relocate into new premises this Spring – Exeter Express and Echo. “The library, currently located in an 18th Century building in Newton Square and run by Libraries Unlimited, will move into the new Library and Resource Centre (LARC), within the newly refurbished Old Schoolroom building which opened in September 2016. The move comes following the signing of a legal agreement between Libraries Unlimited and the Library and Resource Centre Supporters (LARCS), a community initiative and registered charity established to raise funds for the refurbishment of the Old Schoolroom.”
  • Glasgow – Glasgow library where Alasdair Gray read as a boy becomes his new gallery – Herald. “It is the “splendid” home of books and learning where one of Scotland’s greatest living writers and artists first ignited his capacious imagination. Now Riddrie Library, where Alasdair Gray voraciously read and worked as a boy, is to be a gallery for his art. The solid, compact 1930s structure in the heart of the Riddrie housing scheme in the east of Glasgow, was where the young Gray spent many hours reading, and writing and drawing, stories of “fantastic lands”.
  • Greenwich – Conservatives press case for ‘Library Lock’ policy – Greenwich Conservatives. “Conservative councillors are calling on Greenwich Council to adopt their ‘Library Lock’ proposal to protect smaller libraries in the borough, amid renewed concerns over Labour councillors’ centralisation of library services in Town Centres. In a motion set to be debated at the Town Hall on Wednesday (25th January), Conservative councillors have called on the Labour-run council to “explicitly commit to maintaining all of the borough’s smaller libraries” in New Eltham, Coldharbour, Charlton, Blackheath, Plumstead, Slade Centre, Thamesmere and West Greenwich – and to ensure that local schools are encouraged to make use of these for library trips, and not just the three Centres. Figures show that together these eight smaller libraries serve more than half a million visitors and issue more than 250,000 items every year. Despite this, council policy continues to focus on the larger ‘co-located’ libraries in the Woolwich, Greenwich and Eltham Centres, and the planned co-located replacement library at Abbey Wood as part of the Crossrail development.”
  • Lancashire – Penwortham library and childrens centre are saved – Blog Preston. “Penwortham Library and the town’s Young People’s Centre were both earmarked for closure due to Lancashire County Council cutbacks. The Town Council has stepped in to take on running both the buildings, with a 40p per month increase in council tax for Penwortham residents to keep the doors open. The county council has agreed to sign over the two buildings and also give the Town Council a £5,000 cheque to kick start the use of the buildings. Penwortham town centre manager Steve Caswell said the town council’s proposal represented good value for money.”.  Library will be made into a theatre, with youth centre having a small volunteer library within it. see also Penwortham Town Council’s Library Theatre dream set to come true but Lostock Hall library will be sold off – Lancashire Evening Post.
  • Leeds – Chief Librarian – Leeds City Council. Vacancy. “As Chief Librarian, you will play a crucial role in the strategic development of our library and information offer, ensuring that it continues to be a service of excellence.  Reporting to the Head of Customer Contact for Face to Face service you will have operational responsibility for the integration of the service into the broader customer access team and for the delivery of the day to day function across the city. In addition you will need to ensure that you bring up-to-date and practical involvement in the development of current professional thinking on the provision of public library services”
  • North Yorkshire – Crime writer Anne Cleeves pens mystery for libraries – Keighley News. “Skipton Library will host a murder mystery at 7.30pm on Wednesday, February 8, to celebrate Ann Cleeves’s 30th book in 30 years. The script, Bannocks and Blood, is based on Cold Earth, the new Shetland novel by the award-winning crime writer. As part of her 30th book celebrations, Cleeves hopes the murder mystery parties will help libraries, bookshops and community groups to hold events that engage new readers. She said: “I am so lucky to have been supported by so many passionate librarians and booksellers in my 30 years as an author.”
  • Plymouth – Library closures: Everything you need to know as consultation begins today – Plymouth Herald. “A public consultation begins today into the planned closure of ten of the city’s 17 libraries. Some services would be transferred online, with library staff moving out of “under-used and expensive” community buildings, as part of the plans. There will also be pop-up libraries across the city; a “click-and-collect” service in children’s centres and community hubs; and an expanded home library service for housebound residents. Libraries in Efford, Eggbuckland, Ernesettle, Estover, Laira, North Prospect, Peverell, Stoke, Tothill and West Park could close their doors under the new proposals.”
  • Plymouth – More than 130,000 people visited ‘under-used’ Plymouth libraries last year – Herald. “More than 130,000 people visited the ten Plymouth libraries under threat of closure last year – but they cost £426,000 to run. This morning, as a public consultation went live, Plymouth City Council released full usage and cost figures for Efford, Ernesettle, Eggbuckland, Estover, Laira, North Prospect, Peverell, Stoke, Tothill and West Park libraries. North Prospect was the busiest in 2015/16, with 25,041 visitors through the doors, and also had the lowest cost per visit at £1.96. The least-used library was Eggbuckland, with 510 visits costing £28.06 each.”
  • Shropshire – How to Keep it Local: Five step guide for councillors and commissioners – Locality. “Confronted with a £61 million budget shortfall over the next three years, Shropshire Council was faced with some tough decisions – cut back or close down their library services, or find a way to do things differently. Adopting an “invest-to-save” approach, the council has taken the bold step to hand the running of its libraries to community groups, a move it says will ensure the longevity of its library services, as well as tackle social isolation and relieve pressure on health and social care services.”. Also includes a volunteer library in Halifax.
  • Suffolk – Halesworth Library support group looks to bolster numbers following cuts proposal news – EADT. “The Friends of Halesworth County Library (FOHCL) formed at the end of 2012, when day-to-day running of 44 libraries was handed to independent provident society, Suffolk Libraries. With the authority remaining the main source of funding, budgets have since been cut by almost a third and Suffolk Libraries could face a further £230,000 reduction in 2017/18. FOHCL trustee and treasurer, Mike Stephens said: “When the group started as Suffolk County Council (SCC) was contracting out services to Suffolk Libraries it generated a lot of interest, amid concerns that libraries may close.”
  • Sunderland – Anger over City libraries – Sunderland Echo. “No one on the city council seems to care whether we have libraries or not. It beggars’ belief that this same council, whilst closing down our libraries, is proudly announcing that it is putting Sunderland forward as a City of Culture. How can anyone equate the dismantling of any city’s or town library system, and pretend to care about the people who use that library system, or that they care about the culture of Sunderland.”
  • Surrey – Boxhead crafts – Club Minecraft. “This fiendishly simple idea encourages kids to happily abandon the console to craft and enjoy imaginative play, together or with the family. While boxheads, costume pieces that mimicked the iconic block characters from Minecraft, had been available before, Ruth’s great idea was to provide cardboard templates that kids could design themselves. They can use pens, paints, paper and stickers to decorate their BoxHead Craft boxhead any way they choose.  Every BoxHead Craft box head comes with six handy templates to enable kids to plan and design a scaled down version before they decorate the full-sized head”
  • Worcestershire – Carers invited to drop into library roadshows across the county – Tewkesbury AdMag. “The association is aiming to reach as many carers in Worcestershire as possible this year through its Worcestershire Integrated Carers Hub and it is holding a series of roadshows at Libraries across the county – starting with Malvern Library today (Wednesday January 25) from 9.30am to 12 noon”