I remember the days when I thought that a dementia-and-autism-friendly library meant having a book on both subjects available for lending. Thankfully, with the help of dementia friends and autism-friendly libraries, those days have gone. Hopefully, all library staff will soon understand what the conditions mean and how to best serve those with them and that every library will have a social story to help their usage. However, it needs to be that everyone working in those buildings understands the training. The story of the security guard from the private company who expelled a parent reading loudly to his autistic daughter needs to become one of those shocking tales of how things were in the past, like workhouses. This also needs extending to volunteers. Speaking of which, last weekend marked the start of many North Yorkshire libraries becoming fully volunteer. What that means to the community, and to the staff who have had to see it happen, can only be guessed at but this heart-rending article in the Big Issue perhaps gives a clue.


National news

  • Librarians speak up about library closures – Big Issue. “There is a lot of talk about libraries and their important impact on local communities, but then there are the librarians – people who have chosen this as a vocation and believe in it. In the debate about library closures it is often the voices of librarians that are heard the least. This piece has been written by three frustrated librarians with almost 50 years experience between us.” … “we are even banned from discussing it on our own social media profiles. Volunteers can celebrate the gain of a community library (as it gets passed over to them) but we can’t lament it.” … “Library staff were told that we were not allowed to undertake the consultation ourselves “because there are so few staff you won’t have time”.” … “The consultation seems to have been a fait accompli. We have seen emails that were sent to community groups about taking over some libraries before the official vote to close them had taken place.”

“Staff do their best to support the homeless people who come to the library to get warm because there is nowhere else to go. Our mobile libraries visit people who don’t see anyone else in their homes from month to month. That human interaction is vitally important. We are there when relatives die and people need consolation.” … “Colleagues and some customers have been in tears because the library they use is closing. I have tried to comfort when all I really want to do is cry myself. How on earth do you convey to people who only care about money the true importance of libraries?”

  • Libraries Taskforce sector forums – wrap up and reflections – Libraries Taskforce. “We have plans for more detailed sessions in a couple of areas. The masterclasses on exploring alternative governance models were oversubscribed, and we’ve already shared a report from those sessions. We are also considering holding another session, so if you are interested, please email us. We have also announced 2 more masterclasses, this time on income generation for libraries, and there is still time to sign up for these. Links to the EventBrite pages are contained in the blog post.”
  • What the librarian did next – #UKLibChat. The complete tweets associated with the chat on careers after one has one stopped being a librarian.


  • CILIP 2017 Conference – Manchester, 5 to 6 July. “Speakers for all conference sessions have now been confirmed. Take a look at the range of sessions and speakers presenting across the two days, with speakers from Wikimedia, The Kings Fund, Network Rail, KPMG, IFLA, BookTrust, National Literacy Trust  Reading Agency, NHS and Arup to name a few. Click the links on the programme for full details each session and follow the event on twitter #CILIPConf17.” [I will be speaking at this event on reasons people give for stopping their use – and support – of public libraries and ideas on how to get them back – Ed.]

International news

  • Australia – The role that Queensland public libraries play in bridging the digital divide – SL Blogs. “Public libraries must take more initiative in terms of advocacy if they are to secure the funding needed to remain as a bastion of information, education and training. The industry should not be committing itself to a culture of attempting to ‘do more with less’ or that will become the expected standard. Rather, public libraries should be showing what is capable with limited resources and then using that evidence to further the argument of what could be achieved with more government assistance.”
  • Canada – Minister responsible for Saskatchewan’s libraries doesn’t seem to understand how they work – Leader Post / Letters. “The mistake the public library system has made is that everyone has worked hard behind the scenes to make the operation seamless. We can’t see the effort that has gone into the system, so we don’t realize that the organization and sharing of resources is what makes the network function almost invisibly. The elimination of provincial support to that network means it cannot survive. And that will be the death of public libraries in Saskatchewan at a time when access to information means everything. The demise of public libraries is a body blow in particular to rural Saskatchewan. see also Sask. libraries still reeling from budget cuts Global News.
  • USA – A chapter a day: Association of book reading with longevity – Science Direct. “Books are more advantageous for survival than newspapers/magazines. The survival advantage of reading books works through a cognitive mediator. Books are protective regardless of gender, wealth, education, or health.”
  • USA – Sendak Library Cards Draw Attention To Importance of Storytimes – School Library Journal. “Where the Wild Things Are has been a favorite at Brooklyn Public Library’s story times for more than 50 years,” says BPL president and CEO Linda E. Johnson. “The new library card, featuring Max and two of his most terrible monsters, is a tribute to one of Brooklyn’s greatest authors and one of the most beloved children’s books ever published.””

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – New opening hours launched for Barnet Libraries – Borehamwood and Elstree Times. “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.”
  • Barnet – Pupils’ exhibition on school fence in protest at library cuts – Barnet and Whetstone Press. “Pupils from Martin Primary School in East Finchley marked the last day of unrestricted access to their local library by creating an exhibition on the school fence adjoining the library.  The exhibition features more than 400 postcards designed by pupils explaining what the library means to them and their families. Emily Burnham, member of the Save Barnet Libraries campaign said: “We wanted to find a means by which children’s voices could be heard directly. They are due to be impacted particularly severely by the cuts in staffed hours.”” see also Postcards line the Martin Primary School gates as children seek to save the East Finchley library – Borehamwood and Elstree Times.
  • Bromley – Bromley library workers strike against privatisation – Socialist Party. “Unite union members working in Bromley libraries began the first of eight days of strike action on 1 April. The long-running dispute is in defence of the library service from privatisation…”
  • Dumfries and Galloway – Crossmichael’s old phone box set to be turned into community library – Daily Record.
  • Gloucestershire – Children enjoy special story time session in Cirencester Library’s new sensory area – Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. “Cirencester Library’s new sensory area is available for children and their parents to use, while the first sensory story time session was held last Tuesday (April 4) afternoon. The space uses lighting, toys and other equipment to improve children’s communication skills, while also supporting and encouraging reading skills. It is hoped the space will be especially valuable for children who have limited communication skills.”
  • Hackney – Dad kicked out of Hackney Central Library for ‘reading too loudly’ to autistic daughter, 5 – Hackney Gazette. ““You have to enunciate because of the way her brain is wired,” he said. “She’s easily distracted by other noises.” Susan’s condition means she requires extra guidance with reading. But according to her dad, a clerk in the NHS, she loves listening to stories. “She loves books and especially likes being read to,” he said. But it takes twice as long for her to understand what’s being read out.” Hackney’s community services boss Cllr Jon Burke said: “It appears a security guard who is a contractor working in the library may have acted-over zealously on this occasion”
  • Kensington and Chelsea – Planning approval given for contentious new North Kensington Library and Youth Centre – Get West London. But protesters are angry that the original library is being leased to a private school, and say the building, which celebrated its 125th birthday in 2016, should be retained for public use, accusing the council of asset stripping . It will be built on current youth centre property on Lancaster Road, just 50 metres away from the current library, with construction expected to start this summer. Kensington and Chelsea Council , which is putting £18 million into the project, also revealed that the commercial space in the new building will be leased to another private school, neighbouring Chepstow House, after it offered the highest rent.”
  • Lambeth – Protesters call on council to reopen library – Morning Star. “Carnegie library in Herne Hill and Minet library in Lambeth, south London, have both been closed for a year with the council claiming that Tory cuts are to blame for the closures. Defend The Ten — a campaign group which is fighting to keep the borough’s 10 libraries opened and unchanged — opposes plans by Greenwich Leisure Limited to build “unwanted” gyms in both buildings. The council plans to reopen the libraries later this year but with reduced services, including the removal of all librarians.”
  • Lancashire – Community Benefactor – the Lancaster Foundation steps in to Save Whalley Library to buy it and give it back to the Community – Ribble Valley Conservatives. “Neil Martin states, “this represents a fantastic opportunity to preserve a valuable community asset going forward. I know from the huge response we got from the Save Whalley Library Campaign that there are a large number of individuals with just the kind of skill-set we are looking for, willing and able to serve on a Shadow Board and to put the kind of business plan together that is required. We are very grateful that the Lancaster foundation has stepped forward with such kindness and we hope a re envisioned library community space can be realised soon.”
  • Lancashire – A fresh chapter for library axed by cuts – Clitheroe Advertiser. “The Lancaster Foundation has stepped forward with a bid to save Whalley Library, which closed last year under county council cuts. The organisation’s aim is to allow the building’s usage by the community for a peppercorn rent as a local learning and cultural hub. It is envisaged that the space will become a more diverse community meeting venue with a modern book-lending facility at its core.”
  • Lancashire – Wait goes on for library answers in spite of promise – Blackpool Gazette. “Community takeover plans have been submitted for both Cleveleys and Thornton library. Lancashire County Council had promised a decision by the end of March. Talks have now taken place with both groups but Lancashire County Council is still some way off signing over either building.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Grimsby and Immingham libraries hire security staff – BBC. “Two libraries have hired security staff after “unprecedented levels of disruption” by young people, according to the charity that runs them. Grimsby’s Central Library and Immingham Library have security between 16:30 and 19:45 BST, said Lincs Inspire. Groups of 15 to 20 youths are meeting at the libraries and causing “nuisance and disturbance to regular users”, the charity also said in a report. The security measures are to be reviewed by 21 April, the charity said”
  • North Lincolnshire – £163,000 plan to move library into community swimming pool building – Scunthorpe Telegraph. “Proposals have been launched for a £163,000 move to join up library and leisure services in Riddings. The Riddings Pool, Scunthorpe, will operate a library service if North Lincolnshire Council passes plans. The authority deems the current Riddings Library as “dated internally and externally”.
  • North Yorkshire – Authors help relaunch community libraries – Gazette and Herald. “From Saturday, April 1, libraries including Kirkbymoorside, Helmsley and Norton became almost fully community run and community funded. To mark this transition, Kirkbymoorside library had an official opening on Saturday. The day began with an exhibition of the history of the town by the Kirkbymoorside History Group. It was well attended – a “great many” children came dressed as book characters including Winnie the Witch and Benjamin Bunny, the craft activity room was busy with children making bunting and volunteers signed up several new library members.”
  • North Yorkshire – Dedicated volunteers make Ripon library launch a success – Harrogate Advertiser. “In the face of funding cuts, over 80 volunteers have come forward to help keep our library open due to funding cuts, with one member of paid staff remaining. ” … “”I have been going to Ripon library for 40 years and I take my granddaughter here now, she really likes it here. I just want to give something back. So many people use the library and it is such an important part of the community.”Coun Pauline McHardy presented a £500 cheque to the Ripon Library Action Group on behalf of the city council to show their support. “
  • North Yorkshire – Starbeck library officially launches as a volunteer run service – Harrogate Advertiser. “The Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Coun Nick Brown, cut the ribbon to mark the full takeover of the library by volunteers – a moment which many attendees said made them feel very proud of Starbeck’s community spirit. ” … “A stall invited Starbeck residents to share ideas for volunteers to implement, and people of all ages added to a display which invited them to name the book that changed their life”
  • Nottingham – Bakersfield library to be sold to help fund new Sneinton community hub – Nottingham Post. “Nottingham City Council has agreed to sell Bakersfield library to help fund a new community centre in Sneinton. Last year, the council announced its plans to transform Sneinton Police Station into a library and community hub. The remodelled building, in Sneinton Dale, will be renamed The Dales Centre and will include a library, become a home for local groups, as well as housing the existing police base. It is due to open in the summer and the council will relocate the current Sneinton library and Bakersfield library into the newly refurbished building and will close the two libraries. Last week the council approved a delegated decision to sell Bakersfield library, saying the money from the sale will help to fund the new Dales Centre”
  • Nottinghamshire – “Incredible” Worksop Library praised by deputy Labour leader Tom Watson – Gainsborough Standard. “The MP, who is the party’s shadow secretary of state for culture, was given a tour of the library by Nottinghamshire County Council leader Alan Rhodes along with representatives from cultural organisation Inspire. ” … “access to the services that they need. “Unfortunately, we have seen a number of libraries closing up and down the country. “But Worksop Library is a thriving communal hub that has not only been protected but also enhanced.”
  • St Helens – St Helens libraries under threat as council review entire service – Liverpool Echo. “The council also say this is not the only service facing financial pressure and a number of other provisions are also set to go through a review process.”
  • Wiltshire – Communities Secretary Sajid Javid defends cash cuts – Wiltshire Times.  He says ““People want to see good libraries, social care, transport – and of course that costs resources but they want to make sure that Wiltshire Council, who have shown they will find savings in the right places and protect frontline services, is spending every penny of tax payer money it’s got wisely and that is what it has done.”