A noticeably quiet couple of days with the main thing being to me two pro library campaigns, both of which are not just local over closures.  It’s good to see the CILIPS Library Matters campaign picking up some strength in Scotland before the election there, with another celebrity author on board. A very pleasant surprise was the Big Issue campaign that has just launched.  It’s worth a look as it says very nice things about libraries and John Bird, now a Lord, is clearly a powerful ally. Across the water, public librarians are now turning their sense of shock over President Trump’s presidency into action. It’s going to be a tough tightrope for them.  Although the political position of libraries are different there (they’re often not under direct council control whereas anyone employed in libraries getting political in the UK in working hours would presumably just plain be disciplined or dismissed) they still have to presumably be neutral.  The challenge is going to be how to balance the political desire to act with the expectation that librarians remain unbiased.  I simple don’t know how that will turn out in these strange times in America.

National news

  • Fight against library closures campaign launched by CILIPS – Holyrood. “The Library Matters campaign hopes to highlight the threat of further cuts to local and school libraries ahead of the local government elections in May. The campaign has received the support of authors Irvine Welsh and Graeme Macrae Burnet.” … “The Scottish Government last year pledged a £240,000 Public Library Improvement Fund to encourage library use. Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The Scottish Government places great importance on public libraries and believes everyone should have access to library services. This funding demonstrates our ambition to ensure libraries engage in creative and stimulating activities.””
  • Graeme Macrae Burnet backs campaign against Scottish library cuts – BookSeller. “The Scot who used his local library to write and research his second book, His Bloody Project (Contraband), is backing the Libraries Matter campaign from librarians body CILIPS, which will run in the lead up to the local government elections on 4th May 2017. Macrae Burnet said: “As a regular user of libraries, I know what a fantastic range of services they provide to people of all ages and backgrounds. At a time when we are concerned about literacy, education and inclusiveness, we should be championing the crucial role libraries play in our communities.””
  • Hi-tech library project spawns book promoting ‘new ways to work with readers’ – Guardian. “The book, A Place Free of Judgement, is a collaboration between the performance art group Blast Theory and the writer Tony White, who put together a series of events under the same title in local libraries in Worcestershire and Staffordshire last year. Groups of young people were trained over six months in presentational, audiovisual and writing skills before taking control of their local library for a broadcast to a worldwide audience via an interactive live stream.”

“According to White, the project was all the more important given current pressures on library services. “I wanted to work with libraries, librarians and young people at a time when libraries are so at risk,” he said. “What we found were libraries and librarians fulfilling a key role in communities. The idea that a librarian can be replaced by a vending machine is just completely ridiculous.”

  • Join The Big Issue’s literacy campaign. Fight for libraries – and the future – Big Issue. “Today we launch our new Big Issue literacy campaign. We believe books matter. We believe reading matters. Help us spread the word. “If you are going to cut libraries you must be prepared to build more prisons and more homeless hostels,” said John Bird in a speech in the Lords. “Libraries are essential.” When The Big Issue founder said this last autumn he lit the touch-paper on our new campaign.” … “Libraries are meeting places and vital community spaces. On a simple level, they house toddler groups like Rhymetime, Bookbug and other early-start initiatives that bring infants and their parents in. This stretches to Chatterbooks, which allows eight- to 12-year-olds who perhaps have been unable to articulate and share thoughts find like-minded souls, discover books and talk about them. They are also numerous adult book groups” …” … “We want to know what your library means to you, and how we can use our Big Issue networks to help your fight to keep it open.”
  • Nielsen LibScan Public Library borrowing data for 2016 (full year ending 31 December 2016) Nielsen. “Total Library loans through Nielsen LibScan hit 67.9m in 2016. Unlike previous years the Children’s, Young Adult and Educational category had the highest share of the market with 28m loans. However, Crime, Thriller and Adventure has remained the biggest 3rd level category for 2016 with a total of 10.9m loans for the year. Picture Books and Children’s Fiction follow in 2nd and 3rd place respectively with over 9m loans”
  • Shelf Love: Several Fascinating Facts About Libraries – BBC Radio Four. Amusing summary of the history/generality of libraries. “Libraries. The structures that Voltaire could have once described as ‘like a big sort of Lidl but with loads of books in it’. We enter them, we briefly visit the ‘Adult Themes’ section and then we quickly leave again. But what about the facts that concern libraries? Where do they fit into all this? To mark the documentary Late Returns, in which writer Nicholas Royle returns three library books – three decades after he borrowed them, we’ve collated some interesting facts using our own version of the Dewey Decimal System”
  • Thieves steal £2m of rare books by abseiling into warehouse – Guardian. “The gang are reported to have climbed on to the building’s roof and bored holes through the reinforced glass-fibre skylights before rappelling down 40ft of rope while avoiding motion-sensor alarms. Scotland Yard confirmed that “a number of valuable books”, many from the 15th and 16th centuries, were stolen during the burglary in Feltham between 29 and 30 January. According to the Mail on Sunday, one dealer lost £680,000 worth of material. Experts said the most valuable item in the stolen haul was a 1566 copy of Nicolaus Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, worth about £215,000.”

International news

  • India – ‘India’s public libraries undergoing revolutionary change’ – India Tomorrow. ” Images of ill-maintained public libraries — laden with dust and poor-infrastructure, barely prompting a second visit — is undergoing a complete makeover thanks to the government’s ambitious National Mission on Libraries. More significantly, state-of-the-art facilities combining the latest internet technologies are being plugged in to attract the younger generation.”
  • Saudi Arabia – ‘Food for the soul’ Saudi bookworms call for public libraries in latest online campaign – Albawaba. “Saudis are well-known for their Twitter campaigns. In the past, feminist hashtags such as “Saudi women demand the end of [male] guardianship” and “the time has come for women’s driving” have sparked fierce debate in the ultra-conservative kingdom. Even a push for men to give up their seats on public transport saw Tweeters clash heads. However, the latest online movement originating from the Gulf nation has proved much less controversial. #WeDemandPublicLibrariesForReading took off earlier this week, and saw many Saudis relieved that at last there was something they could all agree on:” … “It is not clear whether the Saudi authorities are likely to take heed of this latest Twitter campaign. Last year, a coffee shop which allowed customers to sit and read from their selection of books was shut down by police, under the pretext of its failure to officially register his business. However, critics suggested that it was a form of censorship on the part of a highly conservative state.  “
  • USA – Welcome and call to action – Libraries serve refugees. “This website is an attempt to codify a commitment to refugees by librarians and libraries. It is an ongoing, fluid, and mobile effort to bring information and resources to library services to refugee populations. We are actively soliciting information and partnerships. We want to leverage every bit of influence and pull that we possibly can for these often forgotten new members of our society.”
  • USA – Why these librarians are protesting Trump’s executive orders – PBS. ““Libraries Are For Everyone.” That’s the message of a series of images created by Rebecca McCorkindale in the days after President Donald Trump announced the temporary travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. She never expected her signs of inclusion to go further than a handful of libraries. But by the time she’d woken up the following day, she had received messages from librarians across the world wanting their languages represented. And libraries across the country — in Illinois, Minnesota, California, Virginia — had begun putting up the images as posters, along with displays about books on Islam, empathy and being a good neighbor. McCorkindale, who is assistant library director and creative director at the Gretna, Nebraska, public library, said she created the images because she believes librarians can and should be activists.”

Local news by authority

  • Cornwall – Bodmin’s new library now open for business – Cornwall Reports. “Bodmin’s new library has opened, offering a six-day-a-week service. The library re-located from its Victorian-era building in the town centre to the Cornwall Council offices at Chy Trevail, on the former St Lawrence’s hospital site. The new library is open Monday-Friday 8.30am- 5pm, and on Saturdays 10am-1pm. The move has allowed for investment in facilities and books, but some people have complained that the new library cannot easily be reached on foot – and that Chy Trevail lacks adequate car parking. The future of the old library building is uncertain, but now seems likely to be sold.”
  • Devon – Going back, when you’ve never been there before: A day on the floor at Exeter Library – Emily J Macaulay.  Exeter Library manager describes her busy day on the front line. “This day didn’t include any challenging interactions, but that was just luck. On an almost daily basis staff will face a difficult situation. Often these are exacerbated by alcohol/drugs but sadly sometimes are people that focus on their “right” to a library service and forget staff are doing their best in the context of wider constraints (such as us not being able to hold a copy of every book in the library, or having an infinite number of PCs).”
  • Lambeth – Reports round up: activists protest at Labour assault on libraries – Socialist Worker. “More than 100 library campaigners packed a council planning committee meeting in Lambeth, south London, last Tuesday. After sneaking in through the back door to avoid protesters, Labour councillors voted to turn Carnegie Library into a gym at a cost of £3 million. More than 300 objections were filed against the plan. This is part of the Labour council’s attack on the borough’s library service.,,”
  • Lancashire – Scrutiny called in over book rumours – Lancashire Post. “Despite the County Council insisting books have been put back into the general library system, Coun Barrie Yates has asked the scrutiny committee to look into the matter, after hearing rumours books from Bamber Bridge Library have been destroyed.His worry has been heightened after a Labour County Councillor advocated the cheapest way of dealing with stock was to “get rid”. Labour Councillor Ron Shewan said books would be destroyed by the atmosphere if they were left on shelves in unheated buildings.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library in need of more help – Advertiser. “… countdown has begun for the launch of Helmsley community library, which from April 1 will be run entirely by volunteers. And the steering group behind the project has now putting an urgent call out for extra pairs of helping hands. People in the town are being asked if they can spare a couple of hours – whether it’s weekly, fortnightly or monthly – to help staff the library. Training is provided.. The library will remain open 16.5 hours a week, and will continue to offer a wide range of services and facilities.”
  • Swansea – Staff and residents assured that Brynhyfryd Library in Swansea is not closing – South Wales Evening Post. Council confirms library is safe, pointing out number of feeder schools using it.
  • Warrington – Group considers future of Warrington libraries – Cheshire Today.  “A Working Group with responsibility for defining a new libraries and community learning strategy for Warrington, and for considering future options for library service provision, is to be considered by councillors. The move comes as a result of significant public feedback during the council’s recent consultation on the future of the library service. The consultation, which was run by Livewire on behalf of the council, generated significant community response.” [Translation: poorly managed consultation and proposals met with massive angry public response – Ed.]. … ““At this stage I am pleased to confirm that, subject to the agreement of the executive board, the original proposals will not go ahead in full, but a number of suggestions that were put forward during the consultation process will be explored as part of the next stage of the review.”
  • Warrington – Library campaigners cautiously welcome new plans – Warrington Guardian. “The protestors cautiously welcomed the report and plans for a working group to have a ‘fresh look’ at the town’s libraries. They also welcomed the appointment of a board member and senior strategic lead with experience working in libraries. Dina Kingsnorth-Baird, from the group, said: “When the plans to decimate our libraries came out last year, we called on the council to bin the proposals and start again, and this week they appear to be doing just that. They are also taking very long overdue steps to improve LiveWire’s understanding of libraries. In itself, this is a victory for the people of the town who made their voices heard.”