There’s a strong divide in interpreting news about public libraries. On the one side, we have campaigners who tend to emphasise the negatives (hollowing out and closures) while on the other side we have organisations such as the Task Force who stress the positives. One point of view is angry at the reductions to library service and sees this as the important point to get across to mobilise public opinion. The other fears that such an approach misses out on positives and could give cuts to public libraries a feeling of inevitability. There’s fears I have heard many times  that emphasising the negatives means that people think that public libraries are tainted as doomed. Similarly, campaigners see the devastation going on and are outraged if asked to play it down. It’s hard to see how both sides can agree and, often, they don’t. Which is a shame because they’re actually, in many ways, otherwise mainly on the same side. Such slants can lead to disconnects like the one noted by the Private Eye below where it’s noticed the Task Force (and they’re hardly alone) use euphemisms for cuts.

I try to include both sides, the negative and the positive. I didn’t used to: to my shame, I tended only to include bad news (well, there was such a lot of it) for the first couple of years of PLN.  I did everyone, including myself, a disservice for doing so. In some ways I’m still with the campaigners (for instance, I use the term “cuts” and call volunteer libraries, well, volunteer libraries) but in others I will defend the Taskforce and others if they’re doing good work. I’ve even been known to defend the odd library closure. This can lead to situations where I’m criticised privately (and sometimes not so privately) by both sides for bias, on one memorable occasion for the same editorial. Well, at least I now know what the BBC feels like. What I’m trying to say to all of you is, public libraries should be the most neutral of places but news about them is often biased. Make up your mind based on the verifiable facts and who’s reporting it. As all public librarians should do in their work.



National news

  • #cultureisdigital – Libraries Taskforce. “#CultureisDigital is a conversation between Government, tech companies and the cultural sector, led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The project will consider how culture and technology can work together to drive audience engagement, unleash the creative potential of technology and boost the capability of cultural organisations.”

“Libraries Taskforce chief executive Kathy Settle made the mind-boggling claim at a recent local government conference that public libraries are currently flourishing. “While people focus on libraries that have closed, there aren’t that many of those — and there are hundreds that have been opened or renovated,” she insisted.  “That message doesn’t always get out.”

Minutes of the last taskforce meeting, just 16 days earlier, record that Settle was present while the taskforce discussed complaints about the lost libraries in Lancashire, Swindon, Southampton, Barnet, Bedfordshire and Darlington.  Maybe she was confused by the fact that in the minutes of a three-hour meeting, covered by more than 4,500 words, “closures” were not mentioned once, instead referred to obliquely as “ongoing changes by library authorities”.”  Library News-  Private Eye – Issue No. 1448
  • Dermot O’Leary takes on Summer Reading Challenge – BookSeller. “The Reading Agency, the literacy charity which coordinates the project, has predicted stories on the theme of “kindness” will dominate the project as young people grapple with the “difficult events” dominating this year’s headlines. Around 750,000 children will take part in the annual scheme, which is based on an ‘Animal Agents’ theme illustrated by Tony Ross, providing young people with artwork-based clues to help them crack a case set in a library. The challenge encourages children between four and 11 to read at least six library books over the summer and is available in 98% of libraries.” … “Research revealed in November showed that participation in the reading challenge dropped by 4% last year although the percentage of under-4s rose by 12%. The data showed that 755,208 children in England, Wales and Scotland took part, compared to 786,547 in 2015. Wilkinson said “at a challenging time for library services this is an impressive result”.”
  • How modern technology is being implemented in libraries – Princh / Mick Fortune. “I think the public library’s role is to try and survive. Librarians are increasingly becoming an endangered species in Britain’s public libraries and libraries continue to be a soft target for budget cuts with record numbers closing every year …  I see no fundamental difference between the role of libraries in the nineteenth century and today. Broadly I see that as to educate, inform and yes, entertain. The media and the delivery methods are all that have really changed. In the past, we often needed the help of a librarian to help us gain the most from a visit to the library. We still do. … The difficulty facing many libraries in the U.K. is a basic lack of technical skills … it’s difficult to see why librarians should welcome technologies that are being introduced exclusively to replace them. More enlightened nations – like Denmark and Holland – have managed to find a balance between technology and staff that works well. “
  • Leadership for libraries – Libraries Taskforce. “The biggest event in local government takes place in July each year, when almost 1,300 council leaders, portfolio holders, chief executives, and directors get together at the annual Local Government Association conference to discuss key issues facing local government. For 2017, it was very important for us that libraries and their work in communities were part of that conversation. One of the key messages in Libraries Deliver: Ambition is encouraging decision makers to ‘think libraries first’ and events like this are a good opportunity to reach a wide range of different people – many of whom are not immediately involved in the library sector.” … “More than Book-keeping” was title of one event, showing Fun Palaces, crafts, coding, etc.
“On 19 July, the Arts Council will publish four research reports on the impact of public libraries. The reports will contribute to our understanding of libraries role in several public policy areas, including place-making and well-being in older people.
The reports are:
•           Stand by me: The contribution of public libraries to the well-being of older people
•           Re-writing the story: The contribution of public libraries to place-shaping
•           Libraries as community hubs
•           Evidencing audience reach
•           To tell political and sector stakeholders about libraries’ contribution to public policy areas
•           To share models of best practice with the libraries sector
Keep an eye out for social media and links” via Library Innovators Community.
  • NEPO Starts Market Consultation for Library Books Solution– North East Procurement Organisation. “The NEPO solution for the provision of library books is about to be renewed with a start date of 1 April 2018. The solution will include adult fiction and non-fiction, teenage and young adult fiction and non-fiction, children’s fiction and non-fiction and DVDs and we will also look into the feasibility of providing lots for large print books, talking and e-books, periodicals and e-resources. NEPO is procuring this solution on behalf of its Member Authorities in the North East: Durham County Council, Newcastle City Council, Darlington Borough Council , Gateshead Council, Stockton Borough Council, Middlesbrough Borough Council, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, Hartlepool Borough Council, Sunderland City Council, North Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Council. The solution will also be available for use by Associate Members based in the region.”
  • New research maps the extent of web filtering in public libraries – CILIP. “Using the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, volunteers from the Radical Librarians Collective (RLC) contacted over 200 councils in the UK to ascertain which of these categories were blocked in their public libraries. Other information was also gathered in this process, such as the name and cost of the content filtering software used.  The requests were made using the website “What do they know” (see some examples of the requests made here) and the results were collated and made available as an open dataset. ” … “At least 98% of public libraries filter categories. This list of categories differs between each council, and includes categories such as “Abortion”, “LGBT”, ”alternative lifestyles”, “questionable”, “tasteless”, “payday loans”, “discrimination”, “self-help”and “sex education”.  56% also block URLs in addition to categories. The privatisation of the IT services of some councils means they were under no obligation to provide this information since the FOI Act only applies to public authorities, and indeed, didn’t. “
  • Tony Ross tops ‘most borrowed illustrators’ list – BookSeller.

An online bookclub from Axiell Advertisement
International news

  • Croatia – New Croatian Library. Meet City and University Library of Osijek – Naple Sister Libraries. “City and University Library of Osijek is the only library in Croatia with dual function: public/city library and university/scientific library developed as multi-purpose facility. They are very strong in activities for children but offer a wide range of services. They also participate in any European Union programs.”
  • Nigeria – NGO to re-position public libraries in Nigeria – Today. “the project was aimed at strengthening public libraries for national and economic development, stating that access to information was not only embedded in books but other technological sources.”
  • USA – This Is the Future of Libraries in the Digital Age – Architectural Digest. ““The idea that everyone will read everything on screens has not proven to be true,” said Meredith TenHoor, an architectural historian and associate professor at Pratt Institute School of Architecture. “There is a place for old-fashioned paper books. The publishing industry knows this, and it is reflected in high-quality library design, too.” … “When redesigning libraries, the NYPL seeks a mix of informal and formal seating, flexible spaces, more outlets and internet capacity, and natural light”
  • USA – Libraries Out Loud – KCPT. “Libraries have always had their fans, but the hushed, warehouse experience of the past is gone. In fact, there has been an important revolution in what our libraries do, and here in Kansas City we have some of the best in the country. Start the series here with Episode 1, exploring how libraries build communities and combat loneliness,  “
  • USA – St. Louis libraries to offer online high school for adults – St Louis Post-Dispatch. “The St. Louis County Library and St. Louis Public Library are following the lead of more than 100 major public libraries — including Kansas City, Los Angeles and Denver — that offer an adult online high school program through Gale, an education company that provides services, products and advocacy for libraries. The libraries consider the program valuable because it provides a real high school diploma, not a GED or other high school equivalency certificate, from an accredited online school.”

Local news by authority

  • Birmingham – The Library of Birmingham is officially first class – Birmingham Newsroom. “The Library of Birmingham has been included in a set of new Special Stamps issued today (14 July 2017) by Royal Mail that celebrate 10 iconic buildings in the UK. Designed by Francine Houben, of the Dutch architectural practice Mecanoo, the Library of Birmingham has been designed to be a “people’s palace” – a grand structure that celebrates the importance of learning but which also “promotes the informal” and “seduces people into coming in”.”

“Thornton, Bradford shut on Saturday 1st April staffed by Bradford Libraries staff, and re-opened on its next ordinary open day, Tuesday 4th April staffed with vplunteers.  The local newspaper took our photo in June and published it a month later in July. Amongst our volunteers are one retired chartered librarian, and one retired long-serving library assistant. (not related to each other). We have a Facebook page: Thornton BD13 Community Library.  We have put our non-fiction back in Dewey order. Unfortunately the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act is a very weak Act.  We all knew what it was supposed to mean back then and in the 1970s and 1980s …” Bradford – Email received.

  • Bradford – Summer Reading Challenge for pupils has Animal Agents theme – Telegraph and Argus. “Last year over 4,200 children from Bradford took part, with 600 four to 11-year-olds joining their local library over the summer” …”They include a visit from dogs from the Dogs Trust that will teach children how to care for dogs”
  • Bristol – Storm of protest against library cuts in Bristol – Bristol 247. ” campaigners are calling on the council to reconsider its plans to reduce the number of libraries, something they say are “the lifeblood of Bristol.” Petitions have been launched to try and save the service that is under threat like never before. Love Bristol Libraries is a city-wide group of volunteers formed to oppose a previous round of cuts and members have expressed their dismay at once again having to fight for facilities that they say should be accessible for all. A petition launched by the campaign group calls on the council to reconsider the length and format of the consultation, look into alternative solutions and seek resources to keep more libraries open.”
  • Bury – Bury Council cabinet’s decision to close majority of libraries ‘called in’ by scrutiny committee – Bury Times. “Councillors opposed to Bury Council cabinet’s decision maintain that closing the majority of libraries in the borough would impact unfairly on more vulnerable people across the borough. They also feel that more time should be given to allow community groups to formulate plans to take over the running of their local libraries. The Labour-led council says it is trying to develop a sustainable library service which meets the needs of current and future service users, against a backdrop of budget reductions.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Plan to relocate services in Sawtry is given backing of council – Hunts Post. “Cambridgeshire County Council is planning to house the village’s library, youth centre, children’s centre and early help services under one roof. It will see the four organisations move into the current Sawtry Youth Centre, in Green End Road, and a refurbishment costing more than £100,000 take place. The plan emerged after Sawtry Village Academy contacted the county council in February to request the village’s library, which is currently housed in the school, be relocated to allow the school’s sixth form to be moved into the space.
  • Cornwall – Future of St Austell library is secured – Pirate FM. “The Town Council is going to take over the running of St Austell library. Cornwall Council has agreed that it will be transferred and run from its existing premises. This agreement is part of Cornwall Council’s devolution programme which is supporting parish and town councils and communities to take over local ownership, management and control of services. By transferring many Library and Information Services (formerly called One Stop Shops) across Cornwall to local councils and communities Cornwall Council says it is finding a more sustainable solution to running services. The Information Service in St Austell however will continue to be run by Cornwall Council in Penwinnick Road.”
  • Croydon – Upper Norwood Library re-opens with funding unannounced – Inside Croydon. “reports on the delayed re-opening of the Uppper Norwood Library, as doubts remain on the 116-year-old community asset’s funding arrangements from Lambeth and Croydon councils. Upper Norwood Library – or the “Hub on the Hill” as the style-before-substance merchants at Brixton and Croydon Town Halls appear to want to re-style the century-old community institution – is due to re-open on Saturday, following a major refurbishment of the ground floor.” … “In the bumpf pumped out from Lambeth and Croydon councils this week – the library has been a joint venture between the boroughs since 1901 – said: “The upgrade takes the 116-year-old library into an exciting new chapter, and the library hub is celebrating its re-launch with activities, a showcase of some great community services and refreshments” … “The councils have guaranteed to provide £85,000 each towards its running costs, but only until 2018. Last year the Upper Norwood Library Trust announced that it would be operating a volunteer-run library, and sought £100 donations from locals who had previously had use of the public facility for free.”
  • Cumbria – Refurbishment work commences at Ambleside Library – Cumbria Crack. “The alterations will take place in two phases.  Firstly, works to repair the roofing at the front of the building, and on the flat roof at the rear of the building will commence on Thursday 13 July, and scheduled to be completed on Thursday 20 July. This phase of work will involve scaffolding being erected on the front of the building.  Ambleside Library will remain open as usual throughout this phase of work. The second phase, which is scheduled to commence in September and will take  approximately three months to complete, involves installing a lift to the first floor of the library, reconfiguring the main library space and converting the modern extension at the rear of the library into a community room.  This community room will incorporate a cafeteria area and will be available for library events and also to hire for community and learning activities. It is anticipated the upstairs rooms will be let on a longer term basis as an office and meeting room space for Lakes Parish Council.”
  • Derby – Derby North MP Chris Williamson thinks there could be an alternative to community-run libraries – Derby Telegraph. “Earlier this week, Derby City Council cabinet approved a plan which would see the closure of the Central Library in The Wardwick and the opening of a smaller library in the Council House, the retention of four other libraries under its control – Pear Tree, Alvaston, Mickleover and the Local Studies libraries – and the rest to be run by community groups.” … “Mr Williamson said: “It seems to me the current plan cannot guarantee that libraries won’t close and gives a great deal of pain without much short-term gain for anyone. “There must be other ways of keeping the libraries open, utilising library spaces and also keeping experienced staff.”
  • Derby – Future of 10 Derby libraries in the hands of volunteers after city council approves big shake-up – Derby Telegraph. “Whether Derby still has its current number of libraries in 12 months time lies in the hands of volunteers – who, following Wednesday night’s Derby City Council cabinet meeting – have the power to keep them open or allow them to close. The biggest ever shake-up of the city’s library system – which will see the Central Library close and move from its present site in the Wardwick after 138 years to the Council House – will mean 10 of the remaining 14 libraries turned over to community groups to run. Four others – Pear Tree, Alvaston, Mickleover and the local studies library – will stay in council control, together with the new library in the Council House to be known as the Riverside Library.”
  • Enfield – Great Expectations at Enfield’s busiest library – Enfield Gazette and Advertiser. “more than 20,000 books will be returned to Enfield’s busiest library today (Thursday). The delivery marks another stage in a £4.2 million refurbishment, of Edmonton Green Library, in South Mall, to provide an improved service.”
  • Enfield – New library nearly finished – and it’s going to have free WIFI – This is Local London. “Over 20,000 books of all genres are being returned to their shelves at the new two-floor Edmonton Green Library. It now includes free wi-fi and more study space. A dedicated history and museum space, additional resources for children and students and online training facilities are also part of new cutting edge library due to be ready for the public later on in the summer.”
  • Essex – Harwich Library is closed until further notice after heavy rainfall damage – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “”Members of the public were evacuated from Harwich Library, in Kingsway, Dovercourt, on Monday and the library closed while firefighters pumped out water that had leaked in through a damaged section of the roof. An Essex County Fire and Rescue service spokesman said crews from Dovercourt were called to reports of a partially collapsed ceiling due to flooding at 4.20pm.”
  • Essex – Overgrown Earls Colne Library garden set to bloom thanks to Tesco support – Halstead Gazette. “The supermarket has teamed up with charity Groundwork UK to give cash grants of up to £4,000 to outdoor community projects, all raised by the 5 pence carrier bag charge. But Earls Colne library’s plan, incorporating designs by children at Earls Colne Primary School, needs shoppers’ votes to stand a chance of winning the prize money.”
  • Essex – Wanstead library to reopen Friday after three month closure – Ilford Recorder. “After a leak caused extensive damage to the floor to the library, in Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, the building was closed for three months.” … “Councillor Sheila Bain, cabinet member for civic pride, said, “We’re delighted to have made these fantastic improvements to Wanstead Library. “This is part of our wider programme of refurbishing our libraries across the Borough to improve the services they offer our residents and visitors, despite cuts from central government placing tremendous strain on Council funding.”
  • Haringey – Care about Highgate library in Haringey? Friends of Highgate Library urge you to attend a meeting on 19 July, 2017 – UK Library News.
  • Isle of Wight – Libraries launch reading well scheme – Island Echo. “Reading Well for long term conditions is part of the successful Reading Well Books on Prescription programme delivered through English public libraries.”
  • Lancashire – Bolton-le-Sands and Silverdale libraries on brink of new chapter today (Thursday) at Lancashire County Council cabinet meeting – Westmorland Gazette. “Since the September closures, readers in the two villages have been travelling to Carnforth library to borrow books, while action groups have been working on bids to take over the buildings and run them as independent community libraries. “
  • Lancashire – Chaos or controlled change? Major change at county hall – YouTube. Section on libraries from 5 minutes 40 seconds.
  • Lancashire – Closed-down libraries will reopen – Lancashire Evening Post. “However a question mark still hangs over the exact future of another dozen libraries, including Bamber Bridge, Adlington, Burscough, Cleveleys and Thornton after councillors agreed to defer a decision on them “to allow time for further consideration.”
  • Lancashire – Labour questions cost of saving East Lancashire libraries – Lancashire Telegraph. “The party’s culture spokesman Lizzi Collinge is concerned about the financial viability of raiding reserves to pay for the last-minute reprieve. “
  • Lancashire – Library team prepared to hand back control to county – Blackpool Gazette. “Thornton Cleveleys gala committee had submitted detailed proposals to take over the facility. But following a change of leadership at Lancashire County Council, the authority is re-opening libraries across the county, closed by the previous Labour administration. The gala committee says it could now abandon plans to take over the running of the library and hand it back to county control, with essential safeguards in place for the future of the Four Lane Ends centre.”
  • Lancashire – Reading challenge set for children across Lancashire – Lancashire Telegraph. “The Lancashire Reading Journey, now in its third year, has been organised by Lancashire County Council and will run from July 15 to September 23. To take part children will need to visit a library and complete as many tasks as they want to over the summer. County councillor Peter Buckley, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “This is a great way to encourage children to keep reading and learning throughout their summer holidays.” 7000 children take part.
  • Manchester – Nick Sharratt visits Manchester Central Library – Manchester Libraries.
  • Newport – Rosehill Library refurbished – South Wales Argus. £200k from Arts Council. “The Maindee Library project will be led by the volunteers who work at the library on behalf of Maindee Unlimited, which runs it. John Hallam, programme manager and volunteer at Maindee Unlimited, said: “We have recently appointed the architects for the project, who are going to help us with the changes and supervise the refurbishments. “We expect to start the building work around October this year and we hope they will be finished by March 2018.””
  •  North Somerset – Congresbury Parish Council celebrates handover of village library to community – Weston Mercury. “Congresbury Community Library, in Station Road, opened this month under the stewardship of Congresbury Parish Council – which stepped in to take on the facility after a North Somerset Council cost-cutting review. The handover of the service was celebrated on Saturday, with villagers and councillors marking the occasion with a well-attended coffee morning.”
  • North Lincolnshire – £60m revamp proposed for Scunthorpe town centre – BBC. “The central library would get a £1m refurbishment and more than 60 flats would be built by the private sector on Lindum Street”
  • Pembrokeshire – Pembrokeshire libraries to help youngsters build their own robots – Western Telegraph. “Libraries in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Neyland, Pembroke Dock and Tenby will be offering free Lego Robot Workshops during the school holidays. The workshop will involve learning how to build a Lego robot, and then creating a programme using coding techniques to make the robot move.”
  • Sefton – Birkdale stationmaster’s house open to the public during The Open – Visiter. “The building will be open to the public from July 16-24 from 11am until 4pm. The community group are doing this as, since Birkdale Library closed down, they now intend to use the stationmaster’s house as the new venue. The original library was closed in December 2013, despite figures showing the centre was well used by the community, as part of Sefton Council’s cost cutting agenda. The community group are currently attempting to raise funds to refurbish the building, in order to make it the new home of Birkdale library.”
  • Somerset – Survey seeks library views – Wellington Today. “Results from the survey will inform Somerset County Council what is important to library users and how the council can help customers make the most of library services going forward. Questions include how often they visit, what services they use, how they find staff support, the quality of library facilities and services, how library services could be improved in future and what stops people visiting their local library”
  • Suffolk – Ipswich’s Rosehill Library reopens after five-week closure for revamp – Ipswich Star. “The work was funded by Suffolk County Council and the library now boasts a fully accessible public toilet with baby changing facilities, a new extension to provide additional storage, fresh carpet, a staff area and kitchen facilities to provide refreshments for events.”
  • Warwickshire – New-look library finally opens its doors – Stratford Observer. “The library service left its temporary home at the ArtsHouse, Rother Street in late June. The revamped library will also house the registration service, currently at Winton House on Church Street. And a new ceremony room will unlock a historical part of the building – dating back to the late 1800s – and is set to host weddings and library events.”
    West Dunbartonshire – Summer reading challenge set for Bankie youngsters to collect ‘Animal Agents’ – Clydebank Post.
  • Worcestershire – Kidderminster Job Centre to move to town’s library next year – Shuttle. “The Job Centre will move to the library, in Market Street, from the spring of next year following ministerial approval to go ahead with the plans. Worcestershire County Council began re-location discussions with the Department of Work and Pensions in 2015/16 having identified opportunities to share space in two of their libraries and to meet savings targets by generating rental income.”