Well, well, well, some good news.  Liverpool, having had their funding cut reduced by central government, have overturned their £1.6m cut to libraries. That would have really hurt. In addition, we’re looking at new libraries (albeit co-locations) in Conwy, Leeds, Renfrewshire (£5m !) and West Lothian.

There’s continued hassle in Lancashire, with lots of problems transferring ownership to others, but that’s to be expected when you cut libraries like that.  What’s not to be expected is claiming that no books will have been lost to the public in such a big cut, as a councillor did last week. That’s a ridiculous thing to say as anyone involved with closing libraries will tell you, and that’s not even taking into account a formal apology that, um, the same council had to make to Freckleton for losing all it’s special collection. Continuing the theme of councillors being economical with the truth, Bath have claimed the move of their central library to a location half the size further away from town had been agreed by the Libraries Task Force. I’ve checked with the Task Force and they confirm that’s simply not true and, indeed, they would not get involved in particular cases.  Perhaps the councillor meant the DCMS library unit.

By the way, did you know that there’s a search box on the right hand side of the PLN webpage, about a screen down?  Type the term you’re after into it and it’ll come up – type in one word (e.g. Bath) or, if you’re looking for two words,  you can search for (for example)  “local studies” by putting the quotation marks around them.  This will bring up the posts with those words in – then search that post (CTRL and F works) for that term.  That will bring up every use of that term or word on PLN.

Changes by local authority


  • Dial-a-story – recorded storytimes for users to phone in to hear.
  • Sensory friendly hours – Dedicated opening for those with special needs or on the autistic spectrum.

Media mentions heatmap

This shows longer term trends in authorities than this post alone.  Only authorities with 6 or more are included. :

  •  Plymouth (10, -1), Bath and North East Somerset (9, -2), Manchester (8,= – this is all positive news), Warrington (6, -2), Devon (6, =), Lancashire (6, =), Bradford (6).

National news

  • Bursary places – CILIP. For 2017 Conference. “There are plenty of opportunities to apply for sponsored places through our Special Interest Groups as well as a number of other organisations”

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 23 February 2017 to Question 64455, on public libraries: voluntary organisations, what support the Government is providing for library services and other public sector organisations to consider alternative funding and delivery models; and how that support can be accessed.” David Nuttall MP, Conservative Bury North.

“Firstly, we have put in place dedicated support for the creation of public service mutual. A new consortium of existing library service mutuals provides peer support for library authorities interested in exploring such models and is running two free Masterclasses in March 2017, in London and York, to share their experiences. DCMS has also provided some funding to support a number of library authorities and other organisations interested in developing new delivery models. The Libraries Taskforce’s document Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016 to 2021 sets out practical options on alternative funding and delivery models for library authorities. The Libraries Taskforce will run free masterclasses for library authorities on income generation and alternative funding streams. It is also supporting community managed libraries by providing advice and guidance through its Community Libraries Toolkit, and supporting the development of a peer network for community managed libraries to share good practice and assist the development of sustainable community managed library business models. The Taskforce will also publish a Toolkit offering practical guidance for library authorities considering mutual.” Rob Wilson MP, CMS Under Secretary.

“To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate she has made of the (a) number and (b) cost to the public purse, of the loss of library books in the last five years; and what steps she is taking to help local authorities prevent such losses.” Greg Knight MP Conservative, East Yorkshire.

“The Department has not made an estimate of the number and cost of library books in public libraries in England that have been lost in the five years since 2012. Local library authorities are responsible for providing public library services including managing book stock available for library lending. The Libraries Taskforce is committed to working with local library authorities in England to promote improved procurement processes including of bookstock.” Rob Wilson MP

They Work For You.

International news

  • USA – As a Girl She Spent Time in the Library. Now She’s Giving It $20 Million– New York Times. “Merryl H. Tisch, the former chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, and her husband, James S. Tisch, the president and chief executive of Loews Corporation, are giving $20 million to the New York Public Library to expand and strengthen its education programming, from early literacy classes to technology training.”
  • USA – Are Library Vendors a Necessary Evil? – Medium. “In just a few short years, our profession has gone from the conceit of believing commercial competitors were unworthy of acknowledgement to a fatalism that we must purchase exorbitantly-priced products because that’s the way the system works. This is not the business we’ve chosen. In an era of increased privatization, if we’re to maintain any sort of relevance in the future, our over-reliance on organizations structured to make money needs to change. “
  • USA – Dial-A-Story Offers Storytime Experience at Home – Public Libraries Online.
  • USA – Gwinnett libraries hosting ‘sensory friendly’ browsing hours – AJC. “Two Gwinnett County libraries will host a Sensory Friendly Browsing Hour for special needs kids and their parents. The Suwanee and Dacula branches will be the first to hold these hours, which are designed to be quieter and calmer than during normal library hours. This environment can be helpful for autistic children who get overstimulated or stressed in public places like libraries …”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Bath Central Library consultation so confusing it is ‘of little use’, lawyer says – Bath Chronicle. “Since the library consultation began on February 1, references in the preamble to a planned move 300m down the road to smaller premises have disappeared and re-appeared. The council has clarified that the aim of the current consultation is to get feedback on “proposals to integrate Bath Central Library with the council’s One Stop Shop services”. It says it will consult on the proposed relocation from the Podium to the council-owned Lewis House at a later date. But Dan Carey, a public lawyer and library dad who is helping campaigners opposed to the proposed move, believes the council has confused so many people with its consultation that it is of “little use”.
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Council extends library consultation – Journal series. “This is being done in order to ensure all those interested, including those using the One Stop Shop, can participate and taking into account public comments. A spokesperson for the Council said: “Our proposal to integrate library and customer services is supported by the Libraries Task Force, as well as the successful integration of Keynsham’s modern library and One Stop Shop in 2014. Active borrowing there has increased in the last two years.” [The Task Force has confirmed to me that they did not support the proposal -perhaps the councillor is thinking of the DCMS library policy team instead – Ed.]
  • Bury – Meeting in Whitefield to discuss latest on plans to close libraries in Bury – Bury Times. “… updates on the council’s consultation over the closure of at least 10 of the borough’s libraries. …”
  • Cambridgeshire – Local authors join children and residents at Haddenham Library’s sponsored read-a-thon – Ely Standard. “a readathon to celebrate World Book day on Thursday March 2” … “The event aimed to raise funds for the library, which has been run by the community for over 14 years since the county council decided to close 10 local libraries including Haddenham. Thursday’s 12-hour sponsored event saw some excellent readers from the Robert Arkenstall Primary School as well members of the public and the two local authorities. Mark Lowery, who was shortlisted for the 2017 Children’s Book Award, read his new book and fellow local author Richard Powell also read aloud. Children from the local pre-school visited the library all dressed up as their favourite book characters.” [NB. the original headline said “Haddenham Community Library”: apparently this is wrong (although reported that way in the Ely Standard) so I have deleted on this occasion – Ed.]
  • Conwy – £900,000 Lottery grant for new Conwy culture centre – BBC. “A new culture centre will be built in Conwy following a £900,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The £3m building, located just outside Conwy town walls, will house the town’s library, a heritage and arts hub and archive. The centre’s design will be “sympathetic” to the town’s history, the local authority said. It will also be funded by £1.5m capital funding and the sale of council buildings. The council needs to find funding for the outstanding amount and once this has been confirmed, construction will then go out to tender.”
  • Devon – Bampton Library announces opening date – Libraries Unlimited. “Bampton Library has confirmed it will open the doors to its new library, based in the Library and Resource Centre in the Old Schoolroom, on Monday 20th March.” … “In 2015, the Library and Resource Centre Supporters (LARCS) was formed in order to raise funds for the refurbishment of the Old Schoolroom to house the library.  The group held numerous fundraising events as well as applying for a range of grants and funding bids. The final amount was raised in March last year through a grant from Power to Change, funded by Big Lottery, and work started on the building in April 2016.”
  • Edinburgh – Meet the Mystery Book Sculpture Artist – City of Literature. A look at the history of the beautiful book sculptures.
  • Essex – Children and families to enjoy new outdoor reading and play sessions in Danbury Park – Maldon Standard. “Essex County Council’s Talk Listen Cuddle Campaign has teamed up with Essex Libraries and Country Parks to launch Read With Me Under a Tree, a celebration of rhymes, books and outdoor play. Not only will library staff be giving their usual baby and toddler rhyme time sessions a special outdoor theme throughout March, but Country Parks in Essex will be hosting special alfresco events.”
  • Fife – Library saviour group press on despite concerns – Fife Today. “Fears that those working to save Glenwood library were about to ditch rescue plans have eased after reassurances were given about the building’s future.Two of the town’s leading community organisations – Glenrothes Area Residents Federation and West Glenrothes Residents Association – who want to move into the library and create a community hub, called an urgent meeting on Monday to discuss the project’s future.”
  • Glasgow – Glasgow’s libraries throw lifeline to city’s unemployed – Glasgow Live. “Glasgow Libraries, in partnership with Jobs & Business Glasgow, have announced that three new employment outreach services are to become available in the city’s libraries, in addition to the eleven which are already running citywide.”
  • Herefordshire – Kington Library ‘vulnerable’ due to no permanent staff, says town councillor – Hereford Times. “Library staff currently travel from Leominster to man the service during formal opening hours, but clubs and events outside of those times may face losing their home. Deputy Mayor Bob Widdowson is urging residents to use the library so it is not under threat during the next round of council cuts. He said: “In my view Kington Library is vulnerable as it has no staff and is reliant on staff coming from Leominster”
  • Hillingdon – Hillingdon libraries herald successful Heart Month – Ealing Times. “The programme started with a health fair at Uxbridge Library on Friday 3 February, which was attended by more than 100 residents. Local stalls included the Macular Society, Mind, Hillingdon Carers, Hillingdon Sports and Leisure Complex, Hillingdon CCG, Stroke Association and Age UK Hillingdon. Activities throughout the month included chairobics, indoor curling, origami, healthy walks, therapeutic gardening, healthy eating and fitness storytimes, line dancing, zumba and fitness sessions for under-5s….”
  • Kent – Make Space for Reading: Kent Libraries ‘Get Kent Reading’ – Society of Chief Librarians. “As budgets were limited the collateral consisted of posters at carefully selected community areas (i.e. for children it was nurseries, schools, dentists, doctors, football clubs etc.). The biggest spend was on large billboard style posters at the two train stations which are situated in the town centres and serve young commuters as they head to London. We also did leaflet drops that featured the visuals along with some special offers to new housing estates in the areas. “
  • Lancashire – Anger as removal van arrives at closed down library – on World Book Day – Lancashire Evening Post. “As children across the county were celebrating the day dedicated to literature, removal vans arrived at Lostock Hall library.The library and children’s centre had been a victim of Lancashire County Council budget cuts. County Councillor Michael Green said: “I was appalled at the insensitivity of the Labour administration to empty Lostock Hall Library when children from Farington and Lostock Hall should have been learning about the love of reading. “

“County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “Books from library buildings which have closed go back into general circulation, which means they are distributed to our remaining network of libraries or to the newly established independent community libraries. “Rumours to the contrary are completely untrue.” – [Reports sent to me suggest this is not the case and, indeed, the sheer number of books being taken out of the closed libraries would seem to confirm this, as any librarian with experience would have been able to tell Cllr Johnstone. Also, see apology below where, clearly, the council did remove/lose books from Freckleton Library – Ed.]

  • Lancashire – County culture boss hits back at MP’s Whalley Library claim – Lancashire Telegraph. ““Unfortunately we have had no expression of interest from the community in Whalley, despite extending our deadline. “In the circumstances, we have no alternative other than to put the building back on the market. “It is simply not possible to sit back and do nothing. “This is a classic case of the Tories campaigning against their own cuts.”
  • Lancashire – Details – Lancashire County Council. “Lancashire County Council has agreed to help establish two more independent community-run libraries, and transfer ownership of a number of further buildings to local organisations to allow them to provide a range of community-based activities…”
  • Lancashire – How reluctant readers can discover the joy of books – Blackpool Gazette. “He has just written two chapters for a yet to be published book, “Reading by Right”, which look at reluctant readers and how libraries can engage them more.The topic is close to his heart as for many years Jake, who grew up in Fleetwood and Great Eccleston, attending Shakespeare and Copp primary schools and later Hodgson’s High at Poulton, worked in the Lancashire county library service, latterly as a Reading Development Manager.”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire County Council hands over more buildings to community groups – BBC. “Pike Hill and Silverdale will become independent community-run libraries, Lancashire County Council confirmed. After public consultation, plans to close more than 20 of its 73 libraries were approved last September as part of the authority’s attempt to save £146m. The council has received 43 proposals from community groups to take over some of its assets. Three libraries – at Crawshawbooth, Oswaldtwistle and Trawden – were already handed over in December when the council also announced it was putting six former library buildings up for sale.
  • Lancashire – More libraries to be taken over by communities – 2BR. “The support package includes £5,000 to provide public internet access and cover set-up costs, as well as shelving, an initial supply of books from the county’s store, and advice from a dedicated community library manager” … “Now the council’s agreed that community organisations can take ownership of a further six buildings, with the county council to help independent community libraries become established in two of them”
  • Lancashire – Notices of Motion submitted under Procedural Standing – Lancashire Council. “That Full Council notes the loss to the people of Freckleton of their books which commemorated the tragic loss the village suffered during the Second World War. These books were donated by ex-servicemen of the United States of America and are irreplaceable. Members of the public have expressed their dismay at the loss of so many books. Despite repeated requests the Council and the administration can offer no legitimate reason for not being able to find these books which contained heartfelt tributes. An apology from the County Council, to the residents of Freckleton, would then at least acknowledge the Council’s regret at the loss of these precious mementos. This may help future generations accept that the Council did not disregard the importance of these legacies. Therefore, the Lancashire County Council resolves to write to Freckleton Parish Council to offer an unreserved apology…”
  • Leeds – Guiseley library will be moved from its “perfect” location – Wharfedale Observer. “Plans to move Guiseley Library into Aireborough Leisure Centre are being criticised by the area’s civic society. Older people in particular will lose out when the library is relocated from its present “perfect” position opposite Morrisons, according to Aireborough Civic Society. The plans to move the library form part of a £1.2m revamp for the 50-year-old leisure centre with an overhaul of its facilities and the creation of a new community ‘super hub’. The expected £200,000 from the sale of the existing library building is being earmarked for the new hub.”
  • Lincolnshire – Martin Hill: The county council’s record of achievement – Lincolnite. “Our library service – run by GLL – is also enjoying a new lease of life, with the help of over 800 volunteers. Overall, the number of facilities across Lincolnshire, including community hubs, has grown to 51 – more than in 2014. The new library model has also saved over £2m a year, while opening hours across the county have been extended.”
  • Liverpool – 5 things we learnt from “the most distasteful council meeting in memory” – Liverpool Echo. “His proposals could also see four of the city’s libraries close down in two years as the council looks to find £1.6m in the year 2018/19, something which prompted protests from library campaigners outside the meeting. But the Mayor said tonight it his “not his intention to close any libraries” and said a new taskforce will explore all options of how to make the savings.”
  • Liverpool – Liverpool libraries to stay open as council set for £27m social care windfall – Liverpool Echo. “Mayor Joe Anderson met with social care minister David Mowat yesterday and it has now been revealed that the council will receive a total of £27,063,383 across the next three years to help the most vulnerable in the city.” .. “And Mayor Anderson said that extra cash means he will no longer have to consider any library closures in that period. His budget proposals – agreed on Wednesday – had stated that £1.6m would have to be found in library funding, with the possibility that four centres could close in 2018/19.”
  • Liverpool – Liverpool’s plan to cut library services scrapped after Budget injection – BBC. “Mr Anderson added: “[This funding] is a one-off settlement so questions still remain about what happens beyond 2020.””
  • North Somerset – World Book Day celebrations at schools and libraries – North Somerset Times. “Libraries, unsurprisingly, were busy with events for World Book Day too. Rhymetime sessions for preschool children were held on Thursday in Long Ashton, Nailsea, Portishead and Yatton, while Pill held an activities morning on Saturday. Cllr Felicity Baker, executive member for libraries, was pleased with the public’s response. She said: “We’re proud to be part of the thousands of activities taking place across the UK and Ireland to mark World Book Day.”
  • North Yorkshire – More volunteers needed at Skipton Library – Craven Herald and Pioneer. “From April, Skipton Library will be run partly by volunteers alongside a reduced staff team, part of a large reconfiguration of the library service in response to budget cuts. The library already has an excellent group of volunteers, who help deliver services like children’s activities, computer support and the Home Library Service. Recently around 25 new general library volunteers have been recruited and are currently completing a training programme, but more are needed.”
  • North Yorkshire – Rates for libraries questioned by MP – Darlington and Stockton Times. “There are also concerns the charges of up to £4,000 could jeopardise the ventures in Thirsk, Stokesley, Bedale and Easingwold, which are due to be launched in the spring as North Yorkshire County Council steps away from managing them. Councillor Mark Robson, the Tory-run authority’s leader has said if it waived the 20 per cent business rates charge, it could face a bill of £350,000 following requests for 100 per cent relief from all the other charitable groups in the district. He said he had already been approached by one charity over the issue and highlighted that the district authority had been put in the position as a result of the county council’s decision to off-load the libraries.”
  • North Yorkshire – Support grows for Bedale’s library – Darlington and Stockton Times. “80 supporters turned out for the launch of a new friends group to help open and maintain a community library. Author Alan Bennett sent a special message of support, writer David Young brought his latest book, Stasi Child, and MP Rishi Sunak signed up as a friend of Bedale Library. Volunteers have rallied round to launch the new community library and the Friends Group has been formed to raise money to keep the library going. Chair Susan Perkins said: “We are delighted that so many local people attended the launch of this fund-raising group. We now have 150 ‘Friends’ as well as the support of several local businesses. Their donations will contribute towards the running costs for the first year. From 1 April, the library will be run by volunteers.”
  • Peterborough – Peterborough City Council scoops ‘local government Oscars’ for efficiency and innovation – Peterborough Today. “The council won the Efficiency award for the changes made to library services in the city. By using self-service technology all council libraries have remained open and had their opening hours extended.Lisa Roberts, the council’s head of culture and leisure, received the Rising Star award for her work to implement the new technology in all city libraries. Lisa has been working with dozens of UK councils to roll-out the same self-service scheme in other areas of the country.”
  • Plymouth – ‘You can’t replace our library with the internet’ – Plymouth Herald. “A wide range of community members attended the latest in a series of public consultations designed for asking questions one after the other with many garnering a round of applause from other attendees.”
  • Renfrewshire – Funding boost means green light for £5m High Street library – Paisley 2021. “Work to build a new £5m library in an empty unit on Paisley’s High Street will start this year – in the latest stage of the push to use culture to breathe new life into Paisley’s High Street. Renfrewshire Council had already made £3.5m available for the project – and the final piece of the funding jigsaw arrived today with confirmation of a £1.5m grant from the Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund”
  • St Helens – Library service faces review – St Helens Star. “According to a council statement, the authority is reviewing how it provides a number of its services including the borough’s libraries due to ‘unprecedented financial challenges’. Residents, and people who work and study in the town, are being invited to have their say on how service could be run in the future. The review, which starts at midday today (Thursday, March 9), will last for six weeks until Friday, April 21.”
  • Sandwell – Thimblemill library is UK’s first “Library of Sanctuary” – Sandwell Council. “Thimblemill Library in Smethwick has been recognised by the Birmingham City of Sanctuary movement for the work it does in welcoming refugees and migrants into the local community. The library acts as a focal point for refugee support work in the local community including playing  host to Bearwood Action for Refugees, a local voluntary group which raises money for refugees in Europe and supports people seeking sanctuary in the local area.”
  • Sheffield – New library will be in the heart of the city – Star. “Howard Greaves, Hallamshire Historic Buildings, asserted recently in your letter pages that the council are seeking to demolish the grade II listed building which houses central library. Rather than destroying this precious building, we will be preserving its future. The library building desperately needs £30 million worth of repairs, so no change is not an option. An inspiring, inclusive and accessible new library would be more in tune with the needs of the city. We have no desire to see the existing building removed from our streets and this will categorically not happen. The potential development would mean that the building will continue in a new life and bring about the first five-star hotel for city.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Civil rights novel scoops Concorde Book Award 2017 – South Gloucestershire Newsroom. “The Concorde Book Award is a long-running ‘young people’s Booker’ run by South Gloucestershire schools and public libraries in which groups of young people read a shortlist of novels. They are then encouraged to join a reading group, whether at school or in a local library, to read six books and talk about them with other group members, before voting on their favourite title.”
  • Swansea – Helping prisoners learn to read inside Swansea prison – BBC. “Valerie Samuel and Vicky Dickeson run the prison library at HMP Swansea – trying to encourage prisoners to read and study to help their rehabilitation. They have been credited with turning the library into a sanctuary and having a “huge impact on prisoners’ lives”.”
  • Wandsworth – Last chance for Battersea residents to have say on Northcote library and community hall – Guardian series. “Time is running out to have your say in the Northcote library and community hall consultation. The consultation, which will end on Saturday, March 11, is about whether to build a new library, community hall and apartments in Northcote Road, Battersea.”
  • Warrington – Great value – Warrington Guardian / Letters. “I’m writing about Thomas Penketh and needed a rare book. Warrington Library put me on to the British Library. This book was so rare, even they didn’t have it. But they quickly tracked it down to the library at St Andrew’s university in Scotland. Within days it was waiting for me at Stockton Heath library, all for £5.25.”
  • West Lothian – West Lothian library and museum re-open in new home – Daily Record. “Broxburn Library and Community Museum has re-opened in its new home at Strathbrock Partnership Centre. A £400,000 refurbishment has delivered a new library and museum for local residents, increasing the range of council and health services available at Strathbrock. The improvements have delivered changes to the main entrance of the centre, with a shared library and Customer Information Service (CIS) area welcoming customers when they arrive.”
  • Westminster – Chinese library cut ‘is humiliating’ – West End Extra. “…  library containing one of the city’s largest collections of Chinese language books fell victim to austerity cuts. The Charing Cross Library – which contains the Chinese library – is seen by many as a valued meeting point for the Chinese community. But now its chief book specialist, Chinese service co-ordinator Madame Qiyu Li, is facing the axe from Westminster Council, after eight years in the post.
  • Wirral – Wirral libraries receive cash boost for free creative writing workshops – Wirral Globe. “More than £7,000 was given to the Write Time Write Place project by the Arts Council in order to run a six week creative writing course for adults from March to July. Brian Ashley, director of libraries at Arts Council England, said: “I’m delighted that we have supported the Write Time Write Place project throughout grants for the Arts programme – it is a great example of how National Lottery funding supports activities benefitting all members of the community.” [creative writing could be the next “reading group” for libraries: I’m aware of several new successful ones, often run either by a member of library staff or by the group themselves – Ed.]