It’s good to see some funding from Carnegie and Wellcome for public library projects being announced.  I’m pleased to see too that it is about health and wellbeing. The Taskforce are also keeping up their impressive article production by publishing a couple more posts, both of which may be useful if they have backing from the Minister. By the way, I’d also like to note that New South Wales has just invested the pro rata equivalent of £17m in their public libraries. That puts the rushed £3 million from the Government that’s just been doled out in perspective and, sadly, also the £150k from Carnegie/Wellcome. However, there’s some more time, at least, with these to do it right.  And, if you don’t have time, library services should start keeping a couple of ideas / bids (proto-bids?) to one side for next time. With any luck, more will come along. Although not as many as in Australlia.


National news

  • £150,000 programme launched to support public library projects – Holyrood. “Engaging Libraries is led by Carnegie UK Trust working in partnership with Wellcome, the world’s largest medical research charity. It is designed to help public libraries bring people together to inspire curiosity, spark debate and create conversations on health and wellbeing. ” see also Charities offer libraries funding opportunity – Third Sector and Public libraries across England urged to apply to £150k programme -Coleshill Post.The one-year Engaging Libraries project will run from October 2017 and the £150k programme will support up to ten projects. Applications will be open from 2 May until 23 August 2017.  Library staff interested in applying are invited to a workshop where they can receive further information and support to develop ideas.  These will be held in London on 9 and 10 May and in Dunfermline on 18 May 2017.  More information can be found on the Carnegie UK Trust website.” see also Programme launched to support innovative health and wellbeing projects in public libraries – Carnegie UK.
  • Access to Research Use Helps New Charity Grow – Publishers Licensing Society. “Because of what we learned through Access to Research, we refined our project to focus specifically on empathy. EmpathyLab was born, and as we continue to nourish it I use Access to Research regularly.  I often feel like a detective: scouring references in one report which leads us to another report that’s even more relevant or that takes us in new and important directions.”
  • Building the evidence base – Libraries Taskforce. “we have come up with this spreadsheet (see the ‘Instructions’ sheet first for guidance on the definitions used in compiling the information). We’ve also added some information on the changing policy landscape in England by way of context. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. We know the document is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good ‘starter for 10’” … ” In the same survey, we’ve included all the suggestions for future research received to date – again, you can vote for your preferences or add other suggestions. The survey will be open until 2 May 2017.”
  • On London’s dying libraries: where will future public intellectuals grow? – Global Urbanist. “With libraries increasingly likely to shutter their doors in the digital age, Zung Nguyen discusses the risks London faces as it emphasises public housing over other kinds of social institutions” … “London reinvents intself to accommodate a growing population, the emphasis given to one kind of social benefit (housing) can’t be used as an excuse by the private sector to severely reduce the chances to enhance another (knowledge). “
  • Towards a public library skills strategy: workshops – Libraries Taskforce. ” The goal is to create a co-ordinated approach to the development of the public library workforce which will inform the learning and development offer that local authorities provide to their library workforce and volunteers, councillors and senior officers. The strategy should contain recommended actions for CILIP, SCL, local authorities, individuals and other key stakeholders. “

International news

  • Australia – NSW announces $4 million funding for Public Libraries – Tribune International. “The NSW Government has announced $4 million in funding for public libraries across the state as part of the Public Library Infrastructure Grant program. Minister for the Arts Don Harwin said 31 local councils will receive grants for projects this year, providing significant public benefit and improving public library buildings, spaces and information technology for NSW communities.” [NSW population = 7.5 million. A$4m = £2.4m pounds therefore equivalent to £17m investment in England – Ed.]
  • Denmark – How to attract more users to the public library? – An interview with Rolf Hapel from DOKK1 Library – Princh. “in Denmark, the library usage has increased over the last few years (usage –  measured in number of visitors to the physical libraries), while the number of book loans has gone down. The explanation for the latter is of course linked to the ever more prevalent digitization of knowledge and cultural content. Even so, the explanation for the increased number of visits to the libraries in Denmark has to do with the fact that, for a number of years, the Danish libraries have been working to establish new and relevant services and business models that for instance contain various elements of citizens’ services.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet Libraries: The End – Broken Barnet. Half of library staff have lost their jobs. “These are the people who used to greet you with a smile at the counter, help you find the book you want, help your child with her homework, or show you how to use a pc, or maybe just engage in conversation with you” … “even before the last library assistant had closed the door, for the last time, on one of the libraries about to be gutted, cut into pieces, turned into a DIY parody of whatever a library once was, our Tory masters and their newly acquired PR men wanted to boast about what they were going to do, now that they had put these people out of work. ” … “when the unstaffed library hours begin, once the regime is in place, anyone on the library premises will have to pack up and leave, and wait outside, so as to let themselves back into the unstaffed library with their pin numbers. What will happen if people don’t want to leave: refuse to leave? No one knows. “
  • Barnet – New opening hours launched for Barnet Libraries – Times series. “New opening hours in Barnet libraries have come into effect, with some being staffed for only 15 hours a week or closed until the summer. Libraries across the borough have been fitted with self-service machines, meaning while the libraries themselves are open, the staffing hours have been reduced dramatically. Childs Hill Library, which is reopening this week as a partnership library, will only have 15 hours of staffed hours due to the new partnership scheme, which will see community and voluntary groups staffing the service.”
  • Bradford – Burley Library welcomes 500 visitors – Ilkley Gazette. “residents turned out on Saturday for an event at the library to mark the take over of the management of the service by Burley Parish Council. Around 500 people visited the library between 10am and 1pm to see a magician, hear a story teller, enjoy face painting, listen to the Burley Ukulele Jammers and borrow lots of library books!”
  • Brighton and Hove – Campaigners angry as Sunday openings at Hove Library are ditched -Argus. “Hove Library in Church Road will become one of four libraries in the city not open on Sundays. Campaigner and former councillor Christopher Hawtree said the Grade II-listed Carnegie library was again “being singled out for punishment”. The building was the subject of a campaign last year after Brighton and Hove City Council announced plans to move the service 400 yards up the road into Hove Museum and sell off the 109-year-old building.” Other libraries will have remote-control Open technology. “Council officers say the scheme is not suitable for Hove Library’s “large and complex building” because there are too many separate rooms and floor levels to be monitored remotely. “
  • Bromley – Library strikes over fears Bromley council are selling off services – News Shopper. “Library workers in Bromley are striking this week in protest of “the council’s unwanted intentions to sell off” library services. Bromley Unite library workers say they want to stop the boroughs 14 libraries being privatised and have started a petition. Local campaigning has seen construction firm Carillion and a scheme run by volunteers withdraw from the bidding process, leaving only one private bidder Unite believe to be Greenwich Leisure Limited however this has not been confirmed by the council”
  • Darlington – Darlington library service plans delayed yet again amid legal concerns over Crown Street – Northern Echo. “As the battle to save the historic Crown Street Library continues, volunteers set to take over Cockerton Library have announced the postponement of their plans. Last month, councillors approved proposals to axe Darlington’s mobile library, hand Cockerton Library to volunteers and close the Crown Street facility, moving much of its resources to the nearby Dolphin Centre. Campaigners have now re-enlisted the services of lawyer Michael Imperato in their battle against the closure of Crown Street Library, meaning that Darlington Borough Council is likely to face a fresh legal challenge.”
  • Dudley – Dodgy Dudley – Revisited – Leon’s Library Blog.  A look at how the council decided to pass managing libraries to GLL “between September Cabinet and the subsequent announcement to award the contract to GLL in February 2017 there appears to have a decision made to completely ignore the currently agreed process. A decision so secret that Dudley Council is unwilling to share how it was made and by whom” … “if the usual scrutiny process has been followed, then the details of the particular committee should be publicly available” … “the dodgy decision making continues apace to dupe the public and a renege on a pledge made to the hardworking, dedicated library staff”
  • Edinburgh – “Let There Be Light” in Edinburgh’s Old Town – 38 Degrees. Petition against plan to use land earmarked for the central library to be used instead for a hotel. “With planning permission now granted for the massive proposed hotel this would significantly overshadow the library, with natural light levels projected to decline by up to 80%, thereby fundamentally compromising this important category A listed building, regarded as the finest example of a Carnegie endowed library in Scotland, whose motto above the main entrance is ironically “Let There Be Light”!”
  • Hertfordshire – Public meeting being held about Wheathampstead library’s future – Herts Advertiser. To reopen as volunteer in September. “Two representatives from Hertfordshire library service, who have partnered with the volunteers, will be speaking at the event, as well as answering questions from the floor.”
  • Kirklees – Free storytelling, arts events and performances in Kirklees libraries for children – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “During Pageturners’ Fortnight (Monday, April 10, to Sunday, April 23) there are storywalks, a mini reading challenge, art sessions and drama workshops, as well as a chance to meet authors such as poet James Nash, Rappaman Donovan Christopher, historical performer Eden Ballantyne and Indian storyteller Peter Chand.”
  • Lambeth – Hundreds gather to ‘ridicule’ Carnegie Library situation – BookSeller. “Around 250 campaigners turned out on April Fool’s Day (April 1st) to “ridicule” Lambeth Council’s decision to turn Carnegie Library into a “healthy living centre with a self-service neighbourhood library”. Speakers included comedian Jeremy Hardy and authors Stella Duffy OBE, Toby Litt and Barbara Ellis, with many protesters in fancy dress or waving banners. According to organisers, the loudest applause went to former Labour Councillor Rachel Heywood (now an Independent Labour Councillor) who spoke out against plans to see the facility taken over by social enterprise company Greenwich Leisure Limited”
  • Lancashire – Updated to the bid to Save Whalley Library – Change. “We are delighted to inform you of the latest news on Whalley Library, The Lancaster Foundation has stepped forward and put in a bid to save the Library. Its generous aim is to give back the buildings usage to the local community. It is envisioned that the space will become a more diverse community meeting space with a modern book lending facility being at its core. I am sure that many of you will be as delighted as we wish the Lancaster Foundation every success in its bid to save the library.” [The Lancaster Foundation look a bit more Christian missionary than one would expect running a library, though – Ed.]

  • Reading – Reading Borough Council has introduced a number of changes in a bid to save £290,000 – Reading Chronicle. “As part of the effort to save £290,000, books can now be checked out by library users, in a similar way to self-service checkouts at supermarkets. Since April 1 opening hours have been cut. Caversham library will only operate for 35 hours a week for example, a 15.5 hour weekly reduction. Also, customers can now access a new catalogue website that launched on March 14.” But some not keen on machines ” ask this after walking into Caversham Library and seeing these three massive black in-your-face monsters confronting me, barring my way to the counter. Not only are they pug ugly and intimidating, but they’re in the way of making any contact with those lovely humans manning the counter behind them.””