Wow, what a lot of changes to library services today. The stand out to me is the combining of the Bournemouth and Poole library services, Such schemes have been slow to get off the ground, despite the needs of austerity, presumably due to local politicians not wanting to sign over services to others. Another two news items recount two separate community group run libraries that have been successful in gaining grants for refurbishments. Speaking of refurbishments, there’s a reassuring large amount of that going on as well. Finally, looks like GLL are in the running to run yet another library service – that of Bromley. Their expansion over the last few years is impressive and may make them the largest library operator in the country soon, depending on how you measure it.


National news

  • Councils are facing bankruptcy – is this the end of public service? – Guardian. “Struggling to fund libraries, road repairs and social care, local authorities are turning to commercial activity. It’s all part of a neoliberal vision” … “The mayor of Liverpool says the city council could close all its libraries and sports centres, switch off all its street lights and stop all road repairs, street cleaning and park maintenance – and it still wouldn’t be able to balance its budget by the end of the decade” … “politicians – with some justice, if the row over business rates is any guide – are now terrified merely of adjusting taxes, never mind raising them. The entrepreneurial council, I fear, is here to stay.”
  • Creating a sustainable public library through technology – Axiell. “provides some answers for how libraries can adapt and thrive. With figures from Finland showing that libraries have seen a reversal in declining number of visitors since its introduction, one answer is the increasingly popular ‘open library’ concept. However, there are many options out there and Lluís Anglada, director of Libraries, Information and Documentation at the Consortium of University Services of Catalonia, has come up with a formula to help libraries make key decisions….”
  • Kaufman’s wisdom on libraries – BookSeller. “Library campaigner Tim Coates remembers the positive contribution made by the late Gerald Kaufman to the debate on the public library service”
  • Public libraries and the UK Digital Strategy – Infoism. “Indeed, it seems to me that rather than being places where people can get online and gain the basic digital skills our society increasingly demands, they are becoming a gateway to massive data collection for corporations eager for more and more data to drive their marketing campaigns and, ultimately, to drive growing profits. Let’s make no mistake here, if libraries were properly funded, proper training was provided and the service was delivered according to the ethical principles by which the professional body for librarians guides its members, digital skills would be delivered in an entirely different way.”
  • Scottish Libraries Launch Code Clubs – Scottish Library and Information Council. “The Scottish Library and Information Council trained over 140 librarians in basic coding skills to make the pioneering Code Clubs possible. Working in partnership with the UK-wide charity Code Club, SLIC delivered a series of one-day digital training events during the first few months of 2017.” … “SLIC was awarded £47,000 in funding from Scotland’s Digital Xtra Fund to deliver the Code Clubs across Scottish public library services. The fund provides grant support to organisations delivering extracurricular computing and digital activities to young people aged 16 and under across Scotland. It has been developed and funded by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership whose partners include the Scottish Government, Skills Development Scotland and tech trade body ScotlandIS.”

International news

  • Singapore – Four new libraries to open in Singapore this year Channel News Asia. “Located in Sengkang, Bukit Panjang, Tampines and Bedok, the new libraries will feature interactive digital displays, immersive storytelling services and spaces to encourage collaboration. “
  • Singapore – Singapore May Have Designed the World’s Best Bus Stop – CityLab. “The stop features ample seating, a rack of books geared for all ages, from Enid Blyton to Ray Bradbury, bicycle parking, a swing, artwork by the local illustrator Lee Xin Li, and a rooftop garden, complete with a small tree. The space is also hyperconnected. In addition to the print books, users can scan a QR code to download e-books from the National Library, charge their phones, and peruse interactive digital boards that provide arrival times and a journey planner to find the fastest route. Screens also broadcast information on weather, news, and local events. Solar panels help offset electricity use”
  • USA – Ditching The Hype and Focusing on The Community – Justin the Librarian. “I believe that a strong part of the future of public libraries will be in focusing our efforts and services on a hyperlocal level. This differentiates from where I believe public libraries are focusing their efforts now, which is looking outwards towards everyone else in the profession to see what they are doing before acting themselves. No more is this apparent to me than the recent effort for public libraries to shift a lot of focus towards STEM/STEAM/Makerspace/Coding efforts. Please do not get me wrong: I believe in teaching and exposing citizens to things such as these, yet at the same time I do not believe in a one size fits all solution that can be applied to every public library. This is the case here, as it was with eBooks and any other “trends” in recent history.”
  • USA – Libraries evolving in the digital age – WTNH. “Need a recording studio for free? Well guess what, the Danbury Library just put one in and as long as you have a Connecticut library card, you can use it. It’s open to anyone in the state.”

Local news by authority

  • Angus – Carnoustie Library closes today – Guide Gazette. “Carnoustie Library closes today (March 6) to allow for work to begin on an extensive refit and refurbishment programme. The High Street library will reopen as a new, flexible community space, providing library facilities as well as Access services. While work is carried out the library services will re-open at Carnoustie Sports Centre on Links Parade from 10am on Friday, March 17. “
  • Barnet – Kisharon opens new chapter by taking over Childs Hill Library – Jewish Chronicle. “Local residents popped into Childs Hill Library this week to meet its new management — learning disability charity Kisharon.  From April, Kisharon will be responsible for the running of the library in Cricklewood Lane, which has been closed for renovation, in association with Barnet Mencap.  The move is a result of the controversial plan by Barnet Council to reduce library services across the borough to effect savings of £2.2 million per year by 2019/20.”
  • Bolton – Young St Maxentius bookworm crawls through nearly 1,000 books at Harwood Library – Bolton News. “Michaela, a pupil at St Maxentius School, joined the library at the tender age of one — and would insist on borrowing the maximum number of 10. “I always have a book on me,” she said, “I read during my lunchtimes and break-times. “I like it because you use your imagination to create the world.””
  • Bournemouth – Bournemouth and Poole could create joint tourism and library services to save £1m – Daily Echo. “Borough of Poole’s cabinet are meeting on Tuesday to discuss plans to create a joint library service for the two authorities as well as a joint management team for tourism and seafront operations. It comes as Dorset councils are in the midst of a local government review which could see Bournemouth merge with Poole. According to a report which has been presented to cabinet members the new joint library service is estimated to save both councils £566,000 by 2019/20”
  • Bradford – Management committee formed as Silsden Library becomes community-run facility – Telegraph and Argus. “Responsibility for the library, in Silsden Town Hall (pictured), will be relinquished by Bradford Council within weeks. A meeting for prospective volunteers is being held at the town hall on Thursday, March 9, from 7.30pm. Opening hours for the new service will be agreed and a rota of assistants drawn-up”
  • Bromley – Campaigners notch up important win to keep Bromley’s libraries publicUnite. “… the building firm Carillion confirmed it had withdrawn a bid to run the libraries on behalf of Bromley council. The confirmation follows a concerted campaign by concerned residents to defend Bromley’s library service which has also seen Bromley Community Link withdraw its bid to run Bromley libraries with volunteers. The campaigners understand that the only bidder left in the running for Bromley libraries is Greenwich Leisure Limited.”
  • Buckinghamshire –  ‘Fitting’ tribute to legendary author Sir Terry Pratchett unveiled by daughter Rhianna at Beaconsfield Library, Reynolds Road – Bucks Free Press. “A commemorative plaque, unveiled by Sir Terry’s daughter Rhianna, now sits proudly outside the library where the fantasy writer was a Saturday boy and returned to give talks.” … ““He’s always loved libraries, and librarians, a lot so it’s very, very fitting. “It feels like even more significant than having it, say, in the house that he was born in. “This is where he got his education, where the ideas, the interest in the world and the love of reading took off.””
  • Buckinghamshire – Tourist info & library services to merge in Wycombe district – Mix 96. “Wycombe District Council’s going to save around £200,000 pounds over five years, by merging tourist information with libraries. Princes Risborough is one of the sites where County Council library staff will now run the tourist info service as well – they’ve shared the building for a while. The councils say it makes things more efficient and keeps libraries at the centre of the community.”
  • Calderdale – Inside the Council: Scott Benton (Leader, Conservative Group) – Brighouse Echo. ” reduction in spending on our libraries will inevitably undermine the service as the model pursued by Lib/Lab has been shown to lead to reductions in other local authorities over recent years. This may mean that some libraries will close.”
  • Darlington – Darlington Crown Street Library: Plans agreed tonight by council cabinet ahead of final vote on closure – Northern Echo. “Prior to tonight’s meeting, the councillors were granted special dispensation to participate in the debate and declared an interest in front of a packed public gallery. Ahead of the vote, a number of speakers challenged cabinet members about the veracity of the plans, which have been strongly opposed since being announced more than a year ago. Concerns around the future stability of a library service housed at the loss-making Dolphin Centre were raised as campaigners questioned figures used to justify the plans, which estimate resulting savings at £310,000 a year”
  • East Dunbartonshire – New Bearsden Hub is officially opened today – Milngavie Herald. “The long awaited £3 million project, at the former Burgh Hall site on Drymen Road, offers a range of council services under the same roof for the first time.It includes the re-provisioning of the library and community archives from Brookwood as well as improved hall facilities thanks to a full refurbishment. The main hall can accommodate up to 199 people, a stage can be set up there for concerts and plays and there’s a sound system in place if anyone wants to use it for functions.”
  • Essex – Writtle residents pitch pop-up cinema and jazz workshop among ideas for spare library space – Essex Live. “A food bank, a permanent chess club, a pop-up community cinema and a jazz club were among several ideas touted by Writtle residents this week after being asked what to do with the vacant library space. Several people gathered at the library on Monday (March 6) to discuss plans for the space in the library left behind after the Post Office relocated earlier this year.”
  • Kirklees – As more libraries in Kirklees face the axe, what can communities do? – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Lepton and Thornhill Lees near Dewsbury were the two branches selected for closure last year largely on the basis of falling visitor numbers. So, it’s fair to say that the council will now be scrutinising footfall at other libraries in a search for libraries to earmark for closure. Traffic through almost all of the council’s libraries has been steadily dropping over the past few years and the majority are now supported by community volunteers. Only eight remain entirely run by the council staff. Friends of Lepton Library members say that communities have to start using their libraries in order to save them, but acknowledge that massive changes in reading habits mean library services now need to offer more than just books. They run their service, open Tuesday from 3.30pm until 5.30pm and Thursday from 10am until noon, in a building that has become an unofficial community centre.”
  • Kirklees – Developer offers new library for Mirfield – if he can turn old one into an upmarket restaurant – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Darren Smith Developments wants to build a two-storey library alongside 93 one and two-bedroom apartments on the site at Station Road – and turn the town’s existing library into a restaurant.” … “The plan would see the apartments built in four blocks on three levels with parking on the ground floor. The library would be housed in a 2,000sq ft two-storey community centre which would also be available for other activities” … “If the scheme is approved, Mr Smith is seeking an asset transfer deal to take on historic Eastthorpe Lodge, home to the current library, and redevelop it as an upmarket restaurant.”
  • Lambeth – Library: ground floor to be closed for three months – News from Crystal Palace.”The ground floor of Upper Norwood library will be closed from March 21 for repair and refurbishment works, meaning the library service as is will be suspended (as we can’t use the building while the works are ongoing).  “
  • Lancashire – Hopes high as library rescue plans discussed at County Hall – Blackpool Gazette. “The team bidding to take over Cleveleys library have met with council bosses over their proposals. The news comes a week after volunteers in Thornton were told County Hall officials were ready to discuss their community centre scheme. A decision is expected on both projects by the end of the month. Coun Andrea Kay played a key role in bringing both bids before the county council. window. And she is excited to see officials finally going through the proposals. Blackpool-based UR Potential, a community interest company, has put in the Cleveleys bid while Thornton’s Gala Committee is behind the bid for the town’s library.”
  • Newcastle – Jesmond Library to receive £50,000 grant for major revamp – Jesmond Local. “The library has secured a £50,000 grant from Biffa Award, a multi-million fund that awards grants to build communities and transform the environment. The project will renovate the upper room, which used to serve as the librarian’s office but is currently unused,  and will create a new space for community use. The room can be reached by an open-sided staircase “of considerable architectural interest”,  which requires an upgrade to be suitable for public use.” .. “In June 2013, Jesmond Library had to close its doors amid the city council’s £100m cuts package but was almost immediately reopened by local residents. A group of 30 people came together as the Friends of Jesmond Library to devise a strategy that could save the library. Since then, the building has been open three days a week as a public library and every day as a community hub that offers classes and hosts talks and group meetings.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Work begins on £270,000 revamp to create tea room and hub at Grant Thorold Library – Grimsby Telegraph. “The Your Community Hub Community Interest Group, owners of the Gingerbread House at Humberston Library, received funding of £274,500, from The Big Lottery Fund, in order to renovate the library, bringing a new cafe, equipment and multi-purpose education room to the hub, as well as significant improvements to the exterior of the building. He said the work will provide the community with a new outlet for them to use, as the library will be expanded, and further educational equipment installed, along with the addition of a cafe, which if it is anything like the Gingerbread House, should prove to be a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.”
  • North Yorkshire – Bentham library to get new home – Craven Herald and Pioneer. “Bentham library is to be taken under the wing of a community charity from April backed by a team of volunteers. Twenty six have already been recruited by Friends of Bentham Library and others are being encouraged to get involved. Its home will be in King Street and the new regime follows an agreement between North Yorkshire County Council and Pioneer Projects, a charity which delivers creative writing, crafts, health and wellbeing and community events.”
  • Plymouth – Libraries gave us power – but do we care enough to save them? Plymouth Herald. “The man in the firing line is strategic development manager Dave Saunders, looking like Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr, calmly insisting everything is under control as a furious cyclone tears the roof off his house.”

“This was originally going to be a very different column. I was planning to hail the power of community spirit, scoff at the council for misjudging the public mood, and crow about why people power might, for once, truly win the day. But Friday’s meeting revealed the startling fact that so far only 1,000 people have taken part in the consultation – and just 1.4 per cent of registered library members.”

  • Plymouth – ‘Read-in’ library protest shows strength of feeling, says organiser – Plymouth Herald. More than 200.
  • Staffordshire – New cinema, civic centre and food quarter planned in Cannock masterplan – Express and Star. “Council bosses want to develop a new ‘civic quarter’ on the Beecroft Road car park which would also accommodate Cannock Library.”
  • Surrey – Hundreds of thousands of pounds to be cut from Surrey County Council’s libraries budget – Guardian series. “Readers will have less choice of books because of £350,000 worth of cuts to Surrey’s libraries budget by 2019, an opposition party has claimed. The cuts come as part of a new contract for an outside company to provide books, CDs and DVDs which was awarded last week. The cuts will be imposed in stages as Surrey County Council’s library resources budget is slashed from £1,594,313 for 2016/17 by £246,000 in 2017/18 and by a further £100,000 the following year.”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Balloch library reopens after £100k revamp – Daily Record. “The facility has seen a massive overhaul and has now become the first of its kind outside Glasgow, offering free use of 12 computers to residents as well as complementary Wi-Fi” … “In addition, the front entrance has been redesigned to improve access for all and a public toilet has been installed for the first time.” … “The library is set to add a Macmillan Cancer Support drop-in service next month providing those affected by cancer information and emotional support.”
  • York – Haxby library plan – York Press. “The council and Memorial Hall trustees are looking at a scheme to move the library into a new building next to and linked to the Hall. The open day is on Saturday, March 18 from 10.30am until 3.30pm, and will give people chance to see the plans and ask questions. Haxby’s old library closed last summer amid building safety fears.”