I live close enough to Manchester that I know of, at one remove, several people who were at the concert. I’ve been at the venue myself a few times. The first thing that struck me was that the so badly misled man that killed so many children and others, would have seen them and knew full well what he was doing. I only realised later that he deliberately planned to kill such innocents probably days in advance. The natural response to all this is hate and fear and, dig into social media (or read the Daily Mail), and you’ll sadly see both. Thankfully, the other response has been to make clear that such an atrocity will not affect how we live. As such, while putting soldiers in the streets may make sense tactically, some may question if it sends a good strategic message.

Public libraries have a role in making things better. The sector exists to provide free information, ideally checked at least at one remove for accuracy, to the public. The library provides a place where all people can come in for free, rub shoulders with eachother and find the  facts, and common things that bring us together, not things that  push us apart. Moreover, it remains the ultimate in terms of normality for many people. Be grateful for that, work hard for all and, perhaps, do a display or two showing that Muslims are just people like anyone else or on peacemakers, not warmongers. A guide on how to explain such murders to children wouldn’t go amiss. But, most of all, go to work, do your job, smile and -what’s the phrase? – keep calm and carry on. That’s the ultimate victory, not just for libraries but for the democratic world.

Putting books on the streets, not soldiers, would be the course of action I’d most like to see.



National news

  • Advocacy for UK Public Libraries 2007-2017 – CILIP. “The public and mobile libraries group have constructed a presentation report on the advocacy for UK public libraries activities 2007-2017. The report includes an overview of political, professional and public advocacy campaigns and initiatives of the period. The piece covers an insight into the activities of CILIP, SCL, British Library, Libraries Taskforce, and a number of proactive individuals, including Public Library News and was created primarily for international disseminations.” [Comprehensive list, with some good examples – misses Voices for the Library and one or two other things but a good overview – Ed.]
  • Banned Books Week coming to the UK this year – BookSeller. “The theme of this year’s Banned Books Week will be ‘Our Right to Read’. Index plans to host a number of events in the UK during Banned Books Week, which runs from 24th-30th September 2017, as well as participating in events in the United States.”
  • Get ready for Empathy Day on 13 June 2017 – Empathy Lab. “A new Read for Empathy guide for adults living and working with children aged 4-11 will be published on 13 June. It features 21 “must-reads” endorsed by The Sunday Times’ children’s book reviewer Nicolette Jones and is available free from www.empathylab.uk. The Day is being launched by EmpathyLab, a new organisation with a mission to use stories to help us understand each other better, led by Miranda McKearney OBE, founder of The Reading Agency.”
  • How Manchester became a crucible of extremism with dozens of terrorists emerging from the city – Daily Mail. Pointing out, amongst other things pointing out Islamic material can be found on the internet (!) on public library computers. “For it was found again – among other terrifying documents promoting Islamic terror – on public computers at Manchester Central Library and other libraries across Britain, a few years later during a Mail investigation” [A typical scaremongering and hate-filled piece from the Mail, sadly – Ed.]
  • Putting Ourselves First In This Election – Huffington Post. Wonders why people are happy to vote for Conservatives with their record: “And then there is the legacy of the last seven years. A NHS funding crisis worse than we’ve seen for a generation, with primary care trusts on the verge of bankruptcy, and computer systems so out of date they can be taken over by hackers. School budgets being slashed and class sizes rising. Libraries shut by the hundreds. Hundreds of thousands of people forced to rely on foodbanks. Homelessness up 50%. Council budgets decimated, leading to huge cuts; to social care, to assistance for the disabled, to care for the elderly and to youth support and social housing. “
  • Wikimedian in residence to be recruited for Scotland’s public libraries – Holyrood. “The Scottish Library and Information Council is to recruit a ‘Wikimedian in residence’ for public libraries … The aim of the temporary position is to increase the digital contribution of libraries and to widen access to offline collections of historical and cultural content held by Scotland’s libraries. The Wikimedian in residence will train library staff to create and edit articles for Wikipedia, identify appropriate content and help libraries to host digital content creation workshops for library users.”
Plus free afterword by myself....


International news

  • Denmark – How to get more patrons to the library? Implement a “more open” library – Princh. “In Denmark, 86 out of 97 library systems have open libraries, resulting in 260 open libraries. The libraries in Denmark are open for almost 33.000 hours a year with 56% being opening hours without staff in branch libraries. The alternative would have been many branch closures. “: (1) Need big banner explaining self-service, (2) library map (3) increased signage (4) make everything as self-service as possible.
  • Global – 2016 Annual Report  – EIFL. “2016 saw intensified discussion on internet inclusion, triggered by the ambitious targets set in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to achieve universal internet access…”
  • Japan – Libraries should serve as venues for solving problems faced by locals – Times Union. “According to a survey by the Japan Library Association, about 500 local governments nationwide are making efforts to promote regional development by using their local libraries as a foothold for that endeavour. The Shiwa town government in Iwate Prefecture is working to support local farming households by improving its library’s collection of agriculture-related specialized books and the quality of its database services. At a store annexed to the library, the town government has set up a panel to introduce cookbooks, while also holding exchange meetings between local residents and farming families …”
  • USA – 2 Library Cats Who Left their Paw Prints on the World – Purrington Post. “She named the (library) cats Baker and Taylor (after the library wholesaler who she dealt with on a daily basis), and after a few executives at Baker & Taylor offered to use them as company mascots and distributed posters featuring the cats, their fame quickly spread worldwide. Before long, fans were showing up at the library to meet the cats, people from all over the world wrote to request their “pawtograph” — Jan obliged them with a pawprint-shaped rubber stamp and a green inkpad — and a class of second graders in Ohio launched a fan club, all before the Internet had taken hold.”
  • USA – Library Lock-ins for Adults – Public Libraries Online. “There are current and retro-gaming systems set up around the building. Tables are filled with board games ready to play. One television is ready for movie-watching. There is still pizza to eat, and someone still wants to organize a game of capture the flag. There are still people who decide to curl up in a niche on a comfy chair and read during the night, and there are still one or two people who decided to sleep for an hour or two during the event.”
  • USA – Oops! Mistakes Happen – San Jose Public Library.  “The Read Away Your Fines program allows children and teens to receive a $5 credit for every 15 minutes they spend reading in the library. Beginning May 1, 2017, children and teens can visit any of the 23 branch locations and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library to read a book or listen to stories during regular library programs.” … “Eliminate your fines by volunteering. Fines will be cleared from your account at a rate of $20 per hour. There are plenty of different volunteer activities available that don’t even call for specific skills or experience. Assist with branch programs, library events, and maintaining a welcoming environment in our facilities. We’ll be here with you every step of the way to provide guidance and support.”

Local news by authority

  • Ealing – Ealing Central Library takes part in collaboration to find London’s undiscovered writing talent – This is Local London. “City of Stories is an Arts Council England funded London-wide celebration of writing, reading and stories, managed by Spread the Word and commissioned by the Association of London Chief Librarians. Leading writers Irenosen Okojie (Butterfly Fish, Betty Trask Award 2016), Courttia Newland (The Gospel According to Cane), Bidisha (Asylum and Exile: The Hidden Voices of London) and Alex Wheatle MBE (Crongton Knights, Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2016) will take up residencies in London libraries.”
  • East Dunbartonshire – Work set to begin on £2m library upgrade – Kirkintilloch Herald. “The project has come in for criticism after it was scaled back by council bosses — with the budget slashed 
from £5.6 million down to £2.1 million. Former Bishopbriggs North and Torrance councillor Anne McNair (SNP) accused the council of “selling the people of the town short”. “
  • Fife – First Andrew Carnegie Library transformed in £12.4m expansion – Scotsman. “The £12.4 million expansion for Dunfermline’s historic library and has been more than a dozen years in the planning stages in Carnegie’s home town in Fife.”
  • Gloucestershire – What do others get out of volunteering – Gloucestershire Council. Six library volunteers, doing different things, tell their story.
  • Haringey – Fears grow in Highgate over 110-year-old library’s future home – Ham and High. “In April Haringey Council announced that Jacksons Lane Arts Centre had approached councillors and the Highgate Library Action Group (HLAG) proposing to house the Shepherd’s Hill service. But an online petition raising concerns that the community’s purpose-built library could be lost forever has so far gathered 160 signatures, 40 short of its target. Petition organiser Tamara Cincik – who visits the library every week with her 6-year-old son – said: “I adore it. It’s a local hub. The staff are fantastic and really engaged with the community.” … “noise, conflict of usage and lighting make the proposed site unsuitable for a library.”
  • Herefordshire – Project launched to highlight the importance of libraries – Ledbury Reporter. “Joint Action for Herefordshire Libraries (JAHL) has started the project, with support from the Herefordshire Council Libraries and Museums Fund, to prove public libraries are more than just a luxury. Clare West, chairman of JAHL, said: “We believe that libraries have a real contribution to make to health, wellbeing, education and the local economy and all the research bears that out. “They have a value for all ages and all situations – which is why we talk about ‘Libraries for Life.'” … “Banners, made by Impact Print, are available to groups throughout the county who are willing and able to display them. Get in touch via the website- www.librariesforlife.co.uk. “
  • Lewisham – Ecobooks – Spacehive. Crowdfunding bid to buy bookshop to fund volunteer libraries.
  • Newcastle – The Quadruple Helix Model of Libraries: The Role of Public Libraries in Newcastle upon Tyne Massimo Ragnedda. “This article is based on semistructured interviews with library staff members in order to explore both how they perceive the role of libraries in most deprived areas in Newcastle upon Tyne and how they relate with their patrons. We show that public libraries play a primary role in activating a virtuous cycle, in which infrastructures, skills, and increased ability of users to achieve their goals simultaneously result from and feed social inclusion strategies. However, some limits might be related to the availability of public economic resources that tends to affect the smaller libraries by reducing opening times and services provided.”
  • Norfolk – Grab and Go Bags – Norfolk Libraries. “Why not pick up a Grab & Go bag. Bags of themed books chosen by staff for your enjoyment. Choose your bag then just issue it through the self-service machine [3 week loan]. Grab & Go bags are available to suit all ages; Adult, Teen, Junior & Child (picture books). Adult and Child bags contain 6 books and Teen and Junior bags contain 4 books.”
  • North Somerset – Library jobs axed as North Somerset Council make savings cut – North Somerset Times. “North Somerset Council launched a review of its community services last year, and aimed to save £500,000 by 2019. This review included moving libraries into children’s centre buildings, and visa-versa. The council hoped to make as few redundancies as possible, but it has decided it may have to remove eight library posts”
  • North Yorkshire – Richmond’s new-look library hols open day following refurbishment – Northern Echo. “The library, now managed by Catterick Richmond and Colburn Community Libraries in partnership with the county council, has been closed for a month for renovation work. There have been improvements to the reception area, children’s section and Tourist Information Centre, as well as new research and study facilities and a relaxed seating area.”
  • Northern Ireland – Library services again under threat – Socialist Party. “Another 5% cut in Libraries NI’s budget has been announced. This is the sixth round of cuts in as many years. It’s death by a thousand cuts as the Tories want to close public services that don’t make a profit and local politicians go along with it.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Tender for Inspire Courier Services For Public Libraries in Nottinghamshire (DN263732) – Contracts Advance. £396k. “The tender is for a single lot and requires the transportation of goods throughout the County of Nottinghamshire. There are 64 public library and other buildings each of which require at least one visit per week, the largest sites will require 4 visits per week. In addition an HQ building in Bilborough, Nottingham, will need to be visited by all vehicles at least once every week day to exchange goods for transport. • The majority of goods will be library book stock, packaged either in stackable boxes or secure card boxes. Some other supplies, equipment and papers will also be regularly carried. • The bidder is expected to provide all its own vehicles and equipment, and to employ its own staff. • The contract duration is to be for 36 months from commencement date, with an option to extend for 36 months from the commencement date with an option to extend for a further 12 months on the same terms “
  • Salford – Salford Libraries Are Holding a Lego Amnesty – Families Online. “Last summer, lots of children around Salford attended the various Lego building sessions held throughout Salford’s libraries. This year, they would love to hold even more events so that more children that ever can get involved, but to do that they need more Lego and that’s where you come in.”
  • Scottish Borders – Library users can read all about it – Southern Reporter. “Kelso’s branches of Sainsbury’s and Co-op stepped in to fund the service indefinitely from this month. Jamie O’Brien, manager of Sainbury’s Pinnaclehill Industrial Estate store, said: “I think it is an important service that has been available for a long time. It would have been a shame to see it disappear from the community. “We have an annual budget that we endeavour to use for the good of the town through our local area grant scheme, so we are only too happy to help with this. It may seem small to people, but it is very important to others.”Niki Hill, manager at the Co-op’s Roxburghe Street store, added: “We are delighted that this joint funding project is bringing daily newspapers back to the library for the people of Kelso.” [A worrying precedent, for a few reasons, if other services stop supplying newspapers in the hope supermarkets will pay for them – Ed.]
  • Suffolk – Struggling to entertain youngsters during May half term? Suffolk Libraries launch bumper activity programme – Ipswich Star. “Special events being laid on for the week include an outdoor arts performance in Broomhill Park on May 29 and an exclusive screening of The Railway Children performed by York Theatre Royal is to be hosted at Southwold Arts Centre on June 1.”

  • Warwickshire – Behind the #Bookface (A small lesson in photography) – Warwickshire Libraries. A guide to how to do a #bookface.
  • Westminster – Impro For Elders – back by popular demand – Books and the City. “This grew out of a project delivered by Improbable Theatre in partnership with Church Street Library between November and December last year. It was funded by a local community fund, Create and Arts Council England. Directors Andre Pink and Caroline Williams worked with over twenty 60+ people local to the Church Street Ward to explore improvisation and storytelling, aiming to give older people from the local area access to the uplifting shared experience of improvising together. You can read about what happened last year on a previous blog post, Improbable Impro.”