I was asked about the closing library in Kensington yesterday. You may remember the emotional interview Channel Four did with people near Grenfell, which started with a local complaining that the council had sold the library to a private school. There was a challenge about whether it was correct or not? I also noticed a claim by the council that they were building a new library. So, let’s do some fact-checking:

– Yes, the council is planning to sell a library – North Kensington Library – to a prep school, although it looks like it’s a lease rather than a straight sale. This report from last year suggests that the school (Notting Hill Prep) will be given the first year free to pay for refurbishments. It will then pay c. 365k per year to the council.

The library is described by the council as “spread over three floors making it difficult for those with mobility issues and young children to navigate. Added to this the building is poorly insulated, expensive to heat and is also listed, which makes it hard to renovate to meet modern library requirements.”. The library has been used for 125 years.

The Friends of North Kensington Library have different views. They’re concerned about the loss of the building for public use and worry about the reduction of council provision in the area. A 3000 name petition has been collected to support this. The campaign suggests the move of the library to a new site would cost £11m.

– The council wants to move the library to the site of the nearby (50 metres away) Lancaster Youth Centre. It promises larger floor space, an improved range of books, magazines and newspapers as well as e-books to borrow, excellent Wi-Fi and IT facilities, space for children’s activities, quiet study areas and meeting rooms for groups, public toilets with baby change facilities..

So it’s a bit more nuanced than the fat-cat council simply selling off a public library but there’s more going on than simply a move to a more modern building. The local community clearly feels very strongly about the move but the council clearly also thinks it is improving matters. I don’t even live in London and can’t claim to know who is right but the one thing clear about this is how much people care about public libraries, the numbers that can be mobilised (3000 in this case, to some extent or another) and how councils need to tread carefully.

If you know more about this issue and you’d like to give a view, please email me via ianlibrarian@live.co.uk. Thank you.


  • Card swaps – Display with pocket for each trading card, on a take one / leave one principle.

National news

  • How Adele sent her love to libraries – Big Issue. “Adele may have headlined Glastonbury and filled arenas across the globe in a worldwide tour that climaxes next month with four sold-out dates at Wembley Stadium, but 10 years ago she was playing a gig in a library in Lancaster for an audience of 175. “You can check out the show online,” says Stewart Parsons. “I am so relieved we filmed that!” Parsons, a librarian with more than 30 years of experience, started the Get it Loud in Libraries scheme 10 years ago to introduce new people to libraries by turning them into live music venues for special concerts. Over the last decade, 36,108 people have attended 279 shows put on by acts including alt-J, Florence + The Machine, Imelda May, British Sea Power, Plan B and, of course, everyone’s favourite balladeer, Adele, whose fee that evening in Lancaster was £50.”
  • Perceptions of transforming public library e-resource provision in England – University of Sheffield. “This research is to articulate the current e-resource provision across the English public library sector, and formulate strategies to transform the provision into a national digital public library. The study aims to measure library professionals’ perceptions of the opportunities and threats of the potential transformation, assess the perceived urgency and feasibility of this transformation, and identify keys factors in formulating strategies to achieve it.”
  • Top 10 Take Aways from Next Library 2017 – Library conference chronicle. “Here are my Top 10 take aways from Next Library 2017. 1. Democracy is not about winning. It’s about learning. Democracy needs libraries.  2. Librarians are warm, big-hearted radicals. 3. True innovation is NOT about sharing what you know. It’s about sharing what you don’t know. 4. Talk to the community to remain relevant. Answers come from asking people to think. 5. Ask the right questions. Adults tend to put a bit of the answer in their questions but this doesn’t help us find out what we don’t know. ‘How’ questions are the best. 6. Libraries are a retreat. We provide a haven for the community and escape from the stress of modern life. Many want solitude but don’t want to feel lonely. They want to be anonymous but with other people. They are looking for ‘Together Alone’ activities. 7. Libraries are the ‘People’s University’. We are essential for those that have slipped through the cracks of formal education. You can’t fail at library. 8. Each community is unique. Libraries play a vital role in the cultural identity of the community. 9. In its true sense, hacking is a theory of innovation and learning. Hacking is an act of kindness. 10. Celebrate our slip ups. Yes! We made a mistake.”
An online bookclub from Axiell


International news

  • Australia – Librarians cooked their way to important copyright reform – ALIA. “In July to August 2015, FAIR ran a campaign called Cooking for Copyright which raised awareness of of our muddled copyright law and lobbied for immediate reform. Back then, FAIR published 35 handwritten recipes on the website – effectively contravening the current copyright law – and we asked ALIA Members, FAIR supporters and Australians to cook one of these recipes – or choose an old favourite – and to post a photo to facebook or tweet with the #cookingforcopyright hashtag. Within two weeks of the launch, the campaign was trending #1 on Twitter with more than 1 500 tweets and  9,973,809 Twitter impressions.”
  • Global – Open Access, Public Access, Meaningful Access: Libraries heard at WSIS Forum and Human Rights Council – IFLA. “IFLA’s presence at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2017 and the 35 Session of the Human Rights Council allowed delegates to hear the library perspective on three aspects of access – open (free for users), public (Internet access in libraries) and meaningful (ensuring that people have the skills necessary to make information useful).”
  • Kenya – This awesome teen established a library in her community in Kenya – One. “A young woman’s mission to promote education and improve literacy levels in her community is already bearing fruit. At just 19, Leah Kibe is the director and brainchild behind the Colour World Green Initiative Library”
  • USA – ESL Programs Position Libraries as Welcoming Places – Public Libraries Online. “Ashok Kumar Aryal is an immigrant from Nepal who is currently waiting to become an American citizen. “My wife is already a citizen,” he said, when we sat down for a brief chat in one of the study rooms at the local library branch. “But for me, the process is taking much longer.” Ashok has been in the United States for 5 years. Prior to taking the citizenship test, Ashok attended classes at the library. When asked why he chose the library as opposed to night classes through an adult education program, Ashok’s reasoning was clear. “I know that there are other programs that are available, but I have always seen the library as a welcoming place for the community.””

Local news by authority

  • Bromley – Unite step up campaign against ‘privatisation’ of Bromley’s libraries with through-the-door booklet – Bromley Times. “Bromley households will recieve a booklet explaining reasons why the borough’s libraries should remain ‘council-controlled’ as union Unite continue to campaign against proposals for contractors to run them. Unite will be delivering the leaflets to homes as the council considers comments between now and July made on the consultation over the proposal to award the contract for running the 14 libraries to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL). Regional officer for Unite, Onay Kasab, said: “The Tories in Bromley seem hell-bent on privatisation of Bromley’s libraries to a firm with a deeply tarnished reputatio, despite strong public opposition and the fact that the council has more than £300 million in reserves.”
  • Darlington – Debate on future uses for historic Darlington library building – Northern Echo. “Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet members – who also hold the role of trustees for the Crown Street building – will hold a special meeting at 5pm in the town hall, which members of the public are welcome to attend. The authority is once again facing the threat of a judicial review over plans to close the library grade II listed Crown Street building as part of a £12.5m programme of budget cuts. Lawyer Michael Imperato – whose work has helped to save other UK libraries – has submitted a 20-page letter to the authority outlining concerns over the authority’s consultation process and the trust that governs future use of the building.”
  • Doncaster – Relative Poverty: A display designed especially for libraries – Public Libraries News. “The exhibition has been especially designed to be displayed in libraries, consisting of mounted prints and texts suspended above bookshelves. Its flexible size suits small branches as well as larger libraries. Further images and links can be accessed via library computers. To provide a focus and attract interest locally, an artist talk with local guests will take place at every library”
  • Glasgow – Glasgow libraries opened up services to blind users – Evening Times. “Libraries has rolled out a range of access technology for the blind and visually impaired. All 33 libraries citywide will be kitted out with Zoomtext readers that enlarge, enhance and read aloud content on a computer screen. They will also have hi-vis large-key keyboards that are easier for those who have sight-loss to use. The technology will be available to anyone who requires it in a bid to ensure that Glasgow’s much-loved library service is accessible to all who experience sight-loss.”
  • Kensington and Chelsea – Kensington and Chelsea council has £274m in reserves – Guardian. ““Our staff continue to work tirelessly to support the London-wide efforts to help those affected by the fire. The council’s reserves support a substantial programme of capital investment – including improvements to primary schools and a new library – details of which are on the council’s website,” he said.”
  • Manchester – St Ann’s Square floral tributes preserved in memory of Arena terrorist attack victims – I Love Manchester. “Hundreds of written messages of love, hope, sympathy and solidarity, read in silence by the square’s thousands of visitors in the aftermath of the bombing, are being preserved by staff in the archive section of Manchester Central Library before being given a permanent home for posterity in the Manchester Museum”
  • Northern Ireland – Libraries NI invites children to reach the moon by reading – Belfast Live. “With summer holidays just around the corner, children across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to ‘reach the moon by reading’, thanks to this year’s Big Summer Read. The organisers of the event, Libraries NI, hope that at least 238,855 books will be read by the children and youth of Northern Ireland this summer, which is the average number of miles from the earth to the moon.”
  • Powys – Progress on Brecon cultural hub, Shire Hall and library – BBC. “A £9m cultural hub in Powys is making progress, the county council has said. Engagement events have been held in Brecon giving people the chance to find out more about plans to renovate its museum and art gallery and to provide new library and education facilities. Brecon’s Shire Hall will also be renovated. Layout plans and designs have also been released showing how the hub will look and what it will provide when it opens next year.”
  • St Helens – Collaborative project: getting children talking in St Helens – Libraries Taskforce. “A Speech and Language Therapy Service and a Schools Library Service working together is quite unusual, but is actually the most natural thing in the world. St Helens Paediatric Speech and Language Service promotes development via oral speech, language and communication skills and St Helens Schools Library Service develops language and literacy skills via a reading for pleasure strategy. The two services have aims that overlap, because verbal language development can be facilitated through the medium of books, by sharing pictures with a child or asking questions about each page or the whole story that they have just read.”

#legocard swap shop now open at #WakefieldLibrary. Just be sure to leave behind the same number of cards you take, complete your collection! pic.twitter.com/ay7xGUwAEO

— Wakefield Libraries (@WFlibraries) June 19, 2017