Everywhere in the UK is in purdah in preparation for the General Election so there will be a lot less news than normal from this country.  However, the local elections on Thursday show some trends, of which you will be probably well aware. The biggest is that Lancashire, infamous for closing so many libraries recently, has changed from being Labour to Conservative-controlled. The cuts to libraries appears to have played a significant part in the election result and the new Conservative councillors appear to be clear any libraries not already sold will be taken off the market and that any sales money will go into libraries. For those librarians thinking, though, of toasting the Tories, it looks like this will mean more community groups and volunteers taking over libraries rather than return to paid staffing. This is austerity after all.

But even in austerity, there are high points. The Storyhouse project in Chester, in which I have an interest in that I work for that authority and am the lead for children’s bookstock for it, gets a review in the Guardian.  I can’t comment much, and I’m obviously biased anyway, buy my gosh the place looks wonderful. Make sure you see it when you can. I will be doing a review of it soon.



National news

  • The Big Issue’s Prevention Manifesto – Big Issues. “We want a clear commitment to literacy, with guaranteed funds for local library services.”
  • Books which feature public libraries – Public Libraries News. Now includes over 150 books and other media that involve public libraries, including adult, teenage and children’s fiction. With thanks to he many that have contributed so far. [Email me if you spot one not included – let’s make this the biggest list on the subject of all time – Ed.]

“The Prosper programme runs for nine months and participants can choose to attend the workshops/webinars & masterclasses that are relevant to them, as well as 1-to-1 sessions with the business advisor. The amount of time spent on business activities outside of the programme is up to each candidate, however we’re looking for applicants who can show they will implement and propagate learnings from the programme in the longer term. Our business advisors come from a range of backgrounds and all have experience mentoring businesses and organisations. The business advisors won’t necessarily come in with enterprising ideas, but will help organisations with their business planning/strategy and provide guidance. For example, if a library wanted advice on impact measurement, running a series of events, or digitisation, this is where our advisors could assist.” Prosper – Arts Council funded programme open to public library services (via email – I asked for more info on this programme).

Plus free afterword by myself....


International news

  • Australia – Cities Are Driving a Public Library Boom in Australia – Next City. “Australia’s cities are investing in new libraries designed for 21st-century patrons, and they’re getting creative with designing and funding these buildings, where traditional lending meets modern-day information access. Cities around the world looking to finance and generate excitement for such community spaces can look from Perth to Melbourne for lessons.”. Adelaide: “Most patrons are in their 20s, drawn to the library’s function as a “third space” as well as information center. The library also helped homeless residents develop journalism skills and work on a newspaper serving and advocating for the homeless. “. Melbourne: “An airy structure built from cross-laminated timber, the Library at the Dock is particularly popular with young adults, who not only check out books (30 percent of the total city system circulation) but also use its maker space, recording studio, theater and community heritage gallery, not to mention ping pong tables. “

“spaces that foster learning, exploration and innovation … a place where people … naturally gravitate to in order to engage, learn, socialize and be inspired.”

  • Canada – Against Little Free Libraries – CityLab. Librarians study free bookswaps in local communities: “corporatization of literary philanthropy”.
  • Canada – Oh, and we do books too. Reminding candidates why public libraries matter – Nova Scotia Advocate. ““We’re not some kind of frivolous non-profit. We’re open and we serve the public seven days a week, we invite everybody in without prejudice, and we will continue to do that,” says Myers. “You go to any public library in the province, and you will find they are the living room of the community.”” … ““Story times, pre-school literacy, book clubs, programs for older adults. movie night, space for community initiatives, we’re a safe spot with resources. Seniors come in and`we may be the only people they talk to in the run of a day,” “
  • USA – 5 Misconceptions About Public Libraries – Stuffy. Shush; Libraries are going away; only  repository for books; services are free; no competitors.
  • USA – Serving the Least Served: The Librarian Is In Podcast, Ep. 38 – NYPL. “This week, we talk libraries and activism with Cory Eckert, one of the joint chiefs of Storytime Underground. We go in-depth on libraries as non-neutral spaces and how children’s librarians stand up for social justice. Plus: recommendations for romance novels and two brand-new picture books
  • USA – Why The Poorest Children Can’t Access Free Books – Attn. A look at the reason for fining children and reasons for and against.
  • USA – Why Aren’t More Big Donors Giving to Public Libraries? – Inside Philanthropy. “One appealing feature of supporting libraries is that, because they do so many things, donors can find a piece of that mission that speaks to their own interests and concerns. ” … “The Times reported that the library’s adult coding classes have a waiting list of more than 1,000 people.”. But not many funders, the reason perhaps is “the wealthy just don’t make much use of libraries and don’t develop loyalty to these institutions”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Closure-threatened library re-opens – Telegraph and Argus. “in one of Bradford’s most deprived estates ” … “The Holme Wood library re-opened under its new management at 2pm on Friday, after a refurbishment funded by the Friends of Holme Wood group. ” see also New-look library reopens as community hub after dodging closure threat – Telegraph and Argus. “Bradford-based training company All Star Entertainment has teamed up with local residents to take over the running of the Holme Wood Library, in Broadstone Way. “. Renamed “Holme Wood Connect: Not Just For Books”
  • Bradford – Vintage phone box becomes new, free library for children – Telegraph and Argus. “Recently re-located from outside a cafe in Menston to a play area at Hirst Wood, as well as being re painted and stocked with books, the “little free library” was opened at a ceremony this morning. The phone box will replace a much smaller library facility, not much bigger than a bird house, that has been popular with local children since it was installed a few years ago. The project has been carried out by the Hirst Wood Re-generation Group, with the help of Saltaire Primary School. The previous library has now been moved to the primary school.”

“Rickmansworth Library teamed up with local bakers Cinnamon Square to present an innovative community event in the library on 3 May, as part of LitFest 17, Hertfordshire’s annual festival of author talks and library events. Cinnamon Square is an award winning independent bakery in Rickmansworth, with a reputation for sharing their knowledge and passion for baking with their customers through hands-on baking courses and information boards, and this seemed a good fit with the public library ethos.   We first worked with Paul Barker from Cinnamon Square two years ago, when they sponsored and judged a ‘bake-off’ competition in the library, based on recipes that people had found in library books, and he was keen to do another library event to promote his book : ‘Cinnamon Square – A Measured Approach: Precision Baking’.   Paul arrived with warm cinnamon buns for each member of the audience (always a good way to get the crowd on your side!) , and then proceeded to demonstrate the different stages of making a Victoria sandwich  while talking about the importance of the careful measuring of ingredients.  He then shared his cake with the audience at the end of the evening. The event was attended by an appreciative audience of 19 local baking enthusiasts, and feedback was particularly positive about the novelty of holding this type of event in a library, the partnership between the local authority and local business, and the relaxed and sociable atmosphere. Hertfordshire’s Inspiring Libraries strategy has the ambition for all our libraries to be seen as vibrant community assets, and this type of event in a small local library provides a good example of how this can be achieved. ” Hertfordshire Library baking event – Via email.


  • Cheshire West and Chester – Chester Storyhouse: how a repurposed art deco cinema could revitalise the city – Guardian. “Cinema, theatre, library… what was once the Chester Odeon has been turned into an exciting new communal space” … “It was decided to relocate a public library there, from premises just down the road. There was some expediency here – there were cost savings to be had in moving the library – and according to Clifton there were tears from the librarians, but there was also a positive intent: to make connections between one use and another, such that someone coming for a show might leave with a book, or a school party visiting the library’s education rooms might also see some acting.” … “Librarians are now called the “engagement team”. They use these words so much, indeed, that they can sound like Blair-era creative professionals on autocomplete, but there’s every sign that their pursuit of their ideals is serious and will be effective”


“There is no box office – you buy tickets online, from machines or from the bar – and no security for the library. You are simply trusted not to steal books. The hope is that everyone benefits. The library, for example, will be open from 8am, when the restaurant opens for breakfast, to the end of the performances at about 11pm. As libraries generally are also now encouraged to hold events, this one will benefit from having ample performance spaces attached.”

  • Cornwall – Helston Library to be halved in size – first look at redevelopment plans – Falmouth Packet. “Helston Library is set to be halved in size as part of a £181,000 redevelopment to house the job centre under the same roof.However, a new dedicated children’s library is being proposed in an area currently used as a garage and storage. The Packet can reveal the first look at plans for the building, which is set to close for five months from next month so that major internal renovations can be carried out.”
  • Lambeth – Carnegie Library – Twitter.
  • Lancashire – Fulwood library to become offices for Preston firm – Blog Preston. “Turf Tech, currently operating in Pittman Way, has bought the building in Garstang Road. Founded in 1990 the firm has built a world-wide reputation for developing and manufacturing products for the amenity and horticultural industry. They make specialist products for golf courses and bowling greens. Director Chris Greenwood has tabled plans to convert the former library building into offices.” … “The Conservatives have now taken control of County Hall following Friday’s local elections and a key election pledge was to reverse the library closures.”. Conservative councillor says ““If they [contracts] have been exchanged we will use the money from the sale to re-open another library in the close vicinity.””
  • Lancashire – Lancashire County Council election results special – YouTube (2:20 to 3:00). New Conservative leadership of council says that volunteer libraries will continue in Lancashire, with council funding and professional advice.
  • Manchester – Things to do with the kids this weekend in Greater Manchester – Manchester Evening News. “Nick Sharratt’s Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants exhibition, Manchester Central Library.The work of popular children’s author Nick Sharratt is being celebrated at a new exhibition opening in Manchester this Saturday. Nick is the well known author of classic picture books including Shark in the Park, and illustrator of books by authors including Jacqueline Wilson. The ‘interactive and action-packed’ exhibition Pirates, Pants and Wellyphants – The Illustrated World of Nick Sharratt, will celebrate his work and give families chance to meet the man himself”