Public libraries always have appealed to a very broad section of the public and sometimes for diametrically opposed reasons. The quiet studier and the rhymetiming toddler could not be further apart. Throw in a few senior citizens and a group of teenagers and it’s amazing how libraries remain civilized., It’s one of the strengths and one of the weaknesses of libraries that they are jacks of all trades. One of the groups served can be especially challenging – those on the fringes of society, of which the homeless are an evident (and seemingly increasing) part. I was delighted to see the work in New Zealand on services for the homeless but it is not going to please everyone. Many members of the public, sometimes library staff, do not wish to be close to those whose hygiene or behaviour does not meet accepted standards. This has come to a head in New Zealand (again – it’s all related) with a questioning over if libraries should put on special services for the homeless.

To me, I think this is a bit like the loud/quiet conflict where the pendulum swung from quiet to loud and is now going back a bit to accommodate both.  In the same way that libraries should be able to balance out the needs of loud and quiet activities, they should also be able to cope with homeless/homed as well. Most do so, frankly, without really thinking about it. A quiet word there, a bit of reassurance, is often enough. We should be proud of the work libraries do for those on the edges of society. Ideally, of course, we should also be funded for it. And actively welcoming in people who others may cross the street to avoid is something that is never going to be easy. But being welcome to all is a sign of a library and, thinking about it, civilization itself.

Congratulations to Diana Edmonds, chief librarian for the multitude of GLL library concerns, who was given the title of “National Libraries Director” last week. Not many of those knocking around. This is a further sign, if any is needed, of the ambition of this non-profit – they were one of the chief beneficiaries of the tending out of leisures services a decade or two ago and they’re aiming for something similar in the libraries sector.


National news

  • Banned Books Week: ‘In 2017, censorship comes from an outraged public’ – Guardian. “Ginsberg was clear that censorship isn’t something that happens far away. “It has happened in the UK. In every library, there are books that British citizens have been blocked from reading at various times. As citizens and literature lovers we must be constantly vigilant to guard against the erosion of our freedom to read.””
  • NHS reform can cut costs, says local council leader – BBC. “A report has claimed protection of health funds could make libraries and leisure centres unaffordable.” … “Cuts to Welsh councils have been smaller than in England, but spending on unprotected services – such as libraries, roads and culture – could reach 50% by 2021-2022, the study estimated” [Technically, libraries are “protected” by the 1964 Act but, with no real government intervention. “unprotected” pretty much sums it up – Ed.]
  • Libraries need Leaders – Carnegie UK Trust. “This is part of a blog series examining the theme of online data privacy and public libraries”
  • Libraries on twitter – Libraries Hacked. List of English library twitter accounts including their last tweet, number of followers etc. See also this for UK wide list.
  • Riddell becomes BookTrust ambassador – BookSeller. “Riddell said he would continue his work as an author and illustrator and remain a “dedicated advocate” for libraries. Talking about the importance of reading, he said: “Books are like doors, you can open them and step into another place…or time…or world.””
  • Standards –  the best kept secret in the library world? – Changing Libraries. “I was never very interested in standards myself. The very word suggested conformity, compliance, uniformity – all characteristics that I instinctively shy away from. So it took me some time to adjust to the idea that standards are a good thing, but not quite as long as it appears to be taking some of my colleagues in the library world.” … “if we are ever going to build a national infrastructure for sharing physical resources those resources will require unique IDs “
  • Voyage of the Data Treader – Library Data Camp 2017 – Eventbrite. “Are you interested in open data? Want to know more about using data to improve your library service? Or just want to play with some library data? Library Data Camp will be a mix of workshops, discussions, and data playing. Anyone interested in using data to improve library services is welcome”
  • Welsh councils call for end to cuts – LocalGov. “Functions including transport, protection, culture, libraries and environmental services have carried the weight of budget reductions, being hollowed out by up to 40%.”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • China – Popular Beijing Library Closed Over Pirated Books – Sixth Tone. “Liyuan Library, a nonprofit organization in Jiaojiehe Village on the capital’s outskirts, provides free reading material to nearby households. The stark building, whose design was inspired by tree branches, also draws plenty of tourists looking for a quiet day’s escape from the bustle of Beijing — even if they just come for a few selfies.”

“a copy of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” had not been completely translated into Chinese. A photo shows one remaining English sentence followed by what appears to be a message from the translator at their wit’s end: “How to translate this sentence??? Can anybody help me?”

  • Eire – How can a new library connect and inspire communities? – Interview with Marian T. Keyes – Princh. “The old Carnegie Library in Dún Laoghaire was open 37 hours per week with an average daily footfall of 250-300 visitors. The LexIcon is staffed 57 hours per week and footfall varies from 1,500 per day during the quieter summer months to 1,800-2,000 per day during term time from September-May. In 2016, we decided to open on a Sunday for 4 hours due to the overwhelming demand which is overseen by facilities management rather than library staff.”
  • New Zealand – Christchurch’s new multi-million dollar central library could be used as day-shelter for the city’s homeless – Facebook. “A Christchurch librarian says she’s horrified her workplace is being encouraged to act as a day-shelter for the city’s homeless. The librarian, who’s asked not to be named, made the comment to Newstalk ZB after attending a Library and Information Association of New Zealand conference in Christchurch. She says she was shocked when one speaker encouraged librarians to “house homeless people” during the day. She says that goes well beyond the scope of her skills” many comments for and against. Librarians asked to do more for homeless – Radio NZ. “While the homeless are a common sight at libraries around the country, so far only Auckland’s main library has made a concerted effort to make them feel at home and consult them on what else it should be doing to meet their needs.”
  • USA – Recovering and Rebuilding after a Hurricane — What Librarians Learned from Hurricane Katrina – Ebsco Post. “Today, we have multiple emergency communication channels for staff including text messaging, staff emergency blog, and the ability to update our website from anywhere. I hope your readers will find this information useful. “

“Take care of yourself first. If you aren’t mentally or emotionally ready to deal with other people and other peoples’ problems, you will get overwhelmed very quickly, which doesn’t help you or them. Be prepared to be overwhelmed a lot.”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Council library stock spending hits ten year low – Bath Chronicle. “An FOI request was submitted by Save Bath Library campaigner, Caroline Ambrose, to Bath and North East Somerset Council asking how much money the authority spent every year on stock – adult and children’s books, DVD’s, spoken word CD’s, music CD’s, large print and newspaper and periodicals. The data revealed that in 2016/17, B&NES Council had a budget of £131,970 to spend on library stock compared to 2012/13 when the council had a healthier budget of £244,579.” … “B&NES Council’s budget gradually increased from £163,856 in 2006/07 before falling in the 2013/14 financial year.”. Council also says buying power (discounts?) and access has improved.
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Lost faith in council’s ability to serve – Bath Chronicle / Letters. “Before any consultation or decision was made to combine the one-stop-shop and the library there are many, many things which should have happened and subsequently have not. The department for Culture, Media and Sports library task force have produced a set of guidelines for council’s wishing to make library changes. It is supported by the government and also the LGA. It sets out very clear guidelines, all of which B&NES Council have failed to deliver on.”
  • Bexley – Welling Library to offer shared office space when it reopens next month – Bexley Times. “Starting from October 9, The Workary will open up the library on Churchfield Road as a communal office space. Providing space for start-ups as well as co-workers, prices to rent a desk space start from £65 a month. The proposal was approved at a cabinet meeting last week, with a spokesperson from Bexley council saying: “The Workary offers more than just desk space. It aims to create a community of like-minded business people who not only grow their own businesses, but support each other through the network that Wimbletech CIC offers, linking up with other entrepreneurs in Workaries across London for advice, support and collaboration.””
  • Brent – Cricklewood Library –SpaceHive. £115k pledged on crowdfunding site. “We need to fit out 2,000ft2 of raw space to provide a modern multipurpose library, in an area with no other free facility open to all. The library will have room to host workshops, facilities for homework clubs, craft groups, and activities including ESOL, lifelong learning, dance, music, yoga and skills building, as well as a small cafe. This is a rapidly growing corner of Brent, with a widely diverse population. The library will bring people together, build links, reduce social isolation and give people access to learning, develop skills and work opportunities. “
  • Cardiff – Roath Library could be transformed by the local community – Wales Online. “A Cardiff library that was forced to closed on health and safety grounds could yet be transformed by the local community. Roath Library was shut in November 2014 because of significant problems, including a boiler failure and leaky roof. But now Cardiff council are appealing for groups and residents to ensure the property on Newport Road is still used through a community asset transfer.”
  • City of London – Reducing loneliness in the City of London: how libraries contribute – Libraries Taskforce. “Chronic loneliness has been found to be more harmful than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, can double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and can increase the risk of premature death by up to 30 per cent” …”shared spaces are needed to enable relationships to develop naturally. These spaces should be welcoming and informal. They should have a genuine sense of community ownership and must not appear to be the front door of statutory services. Libraries fit the bill perfectly.””
  • Cornwall – Penryn council defends library changes – Falmouth Packet. “Penryn Town Council has denied having no trained staff to run the town’s library after it took over the service with much fanfare at the start of the month. Town clerk Cas Leo has also denied that the changes mean the public cannot use the toilets in the library, instead insisting that the same policy was in place before the building was taken on. In a letter to the Packet last week, library user Janet Mitchell said she was “disappointed” to find that the service “seems set on becoming ‘not fit for purpose,'” and complained that there were “no trained library staff,” just town council workers.” … “However Mr Leo said “that’s not true” and told the Packet library staff came in every day from Cornwall Council and were currently training his staff. “
  • Denbighshire – Denbighshire Council toasts performance success following the release of new data – Journal. “The authority also did well in supporting leisure and culture. It is the first time the number of visits to public libraries per 1,000 population has increased since the indicator was introduced. Across Wales, the year on year change ranged from an increase of 1,030 visits per 1,000 population in Denbighshire to a decrease of 880 visits per 1,000 population in Wrexham.”
  • Derby – Derby’s library volunteers say information meetings leave ‘more questions than answers’ – Derby Telegraph. “Volunteers who have indicated their willingness to help run 10 of Derby’s libraries still say they do not have enough information from the city council – despite six information meetings taking place. They say they feel they are “still in the dark” about the issue and have concerns over whether or not private information given when people join a library will be available to some of the groups, who potentially will take over the libraries’ computer systems.” see also Public engagement in the Community-Managed Libraries process – Derby Council.
  • Ealing – Ealing library relocation to smaller building confirmed to make way for new town centre shop – Get West London. “Ealing Library will be relocated to a smaller building to make way for a new retailer, the council has said. The local authority has claimed residents will benefit from a range of better services as part of the major relocation project, if planning permission is granted. By May next year, the town’s library could be moved to a new space within Ealing Broadway Shopping Centre, close to the current building. The new building will be a third of the size of the current library, the council said.”
  • East Renfrewshire – Attendances at East Renfrewshire leisure centres hit five-year high– Barrhead News. “Attendances at the region’s leisure centres have hit a five-year high, with other big increases recorded in sports classes, theatre visits and library membership” … “Libraries recorded more than 5,000 new members and theatre audience attendance was up by 17 per cent. “
  • East Sussex – Real world of reading books – Eastbourne Herald / Letters. “, if unavailable, great sections of the community will lose out if there are so many closures. Many unemployed people cannot afford bus or trains to Eastbourne, and enjoy walking to their local libraries. Life is not all economics, surely the human aspect is important? Think on before making such decisions. “
  • East Sussex – Short-sighted library plans – Eastbourne Herald / Letters. “First the council imposes the craziest new library opening hours: “Hey, chaps, let’s make them as inconvenient as possible then no one will go in.” That didn’t work. Those bloody-minded book-fiends had the cheek to pile into the libraries in even great numbers. What to do? Ah, yes – let’s close them down. That’ll show ’em. Last week I was hunting down books by my new favourite author (Mark Billingham, I can recommend him) and copies were on the shelf in Willingdon, Polegate, Langney and Pevensey Bay. But it was a bittersweet tour. The libraries were all packed and buzzing, the staff knowledgeable, charming and helpful. And all under sentence of death.”
  • East Sussex – Tories deny ‘railroading through’ library closures – Eastbourne Herald. “Colin Swansborough (LDem, Hampden Park), chair of a cross-party scrutiny review board set up to look at the strategy, said he was ‘dismayed’ it had been given papers last Monday, just two days before its first meeting”
  • East Sussex – Tory response to library closure ‘mechanically generated blather’ – Hastings Observer / Letters. “In  a statement released earlier this week, Laurie Loe, Conservative county councillor for Baird and Ore, said: “I would like to welcome the fact that my division is within a short bus ride to Hastings Library which has recently had an £8m investment … “
  • Essex – 10 things for your child to do at their local library – EADT. “This follows after the under-fives checklist which was launched earlier in the year. So here are the 10 things you need to tick off…”
  • Fife – Fife library users asked to keep service relevant – Courier. “The service, which axed 16 libraries after its last consultation, now wants to know what it can change “to ensure that the public library service remains important in people’s lives”. Fife’s library service has gone through a period of significant change in recent years, although it remains one of the biggest networks in Scotland with 37 libraries. There were 1.4 million visitors last year and there are more than half a million books in stock. Within those visits, there were more than 200,000 computer bookings, 65,000 new books purchased and in excess of 5,000 activities, events and displays for the public to attend”
  • Haringey – Opinion: Author SF Said – ‘Axing children’s librarians is like sacking pilots’ – Ham and High. “Haringey Council deleted their specialist children’s librarians positions in a staff restructure last year. There were 5 dedicated children’s librarians across the borough, and they built up a service that was second to none. Now there are none. The Council haven’t sacked the staff; they say this restructure is just a change of terminology. But they are requiring specialist children’s librarians to take on work that doesn’t relate to their specialism, and doesn’t allow them to be dedicated children’s librarians. Instead, they’re now part of the general customer service team.”
  • Kirklees – Massive development plans for Mirfield could transform library and bring upmarket restaurant – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “The plan also includes a two-storey community building which could provide a new home for Mirfield library. If the scheme is approved, Darren Smith is seeking an asset transfer deal to take on historic Eastthorpe Lodge, home to the current library, and redevelop it as an upmarket restaurant. Kirklees Cabinet is expected to discuss a £1m-plus cut to library services when it meets on October 17.””
  • Lancashire – Library hours plans sparks row over East Lancashire opening ‘reductions’ – Lancashire Telegraph. “The new Lancashire County Council Tory administration vowed to reverse its Labour predecessor’s closure programme when they took power in May. Culture boss Cllr Peter Buckley has revealed while total opening hours would rise by 354, some libraries would actually lose hours. County Liberal Democrat group leader David Whipp said the proposals did not fulfil the Tories promise on saving library services, highlighting a ’10 per cent reduction’ in the hours of Barnoldswick in his Pendle Rural ward”
  • Lewisham – Deputy Mayor launches the Mi Wifi digital inclusion project in Lewisham – Libraries Taskforce. “Last month we launched the Mi Wifi pilot in Deptford Lounge library in Lewisham. This innovative pilot – the first of its kind in London – will test whether lending wifi enabled tablets through local libraries or community centres, along with some basic digital skills training, will help reduce the nearly one-in-ten digital exclusion rate in the borough of Lewisham.”
  • North Lincolnshire – Squash court at Scunthorpe swimming pool set to make way for library – Scunthorpe Telegraph. “Planners have granted permission for the change of use of a squash court at Riddings Swimming Pool into a library” … “Ward member Councillor Len Foster said that the council had not consulted local squash players on the issue and that the original library building needs development.” … “Councillor John Davidson said that the council is investing in libraries compared with other local authorities. Planners voted the plans through by five to four.”
  • North Somerset – Library’s future safe despite parish council office snub – North Somerset Times. “North Somerset Council has been dealt a financial blow after Yatton Parish Council voted not to run its office from the revamped village library. Parish councillors voted to keep its office at Hangstones Pavilion permanently, having moved there temporarily in April so the library could be overhauled. North Somerset expected the parish council to return once the project was finished, in a deal worth £85,000. Such was its confidence that the 10-year lease would be signed, signs for the parish council’s office were put up inside and outside the library [oops – Ed.]. The library’s future is not in jeopardy despite the financial loss, the Times has been told.”
  • North Yorkshire – Discover something new in Libraries Week  – North Yorkshire County Council. “Many county libraries are running with the idea of libraries without walls, showcasing the many online resources they offer 24 hours a day.” … “Scarborough, Richmond, Northallerton, Skipton and Filey and libraries will launch the week by transforming themselves into fun palaces for the day on Saturday, 7 October, with activities on the theme “everyone a scientist, everyone an artist”
  • North Yorkshire – Everyone urged to “try one thing” online at their library – North Yorkshire County Council. “The week runs from 2 to 8 October and many of the county’s libraries are joining in. Across the country, Get Online Week will see thousands of community events helping people to make the most of the internet”
  • Northern Ireland – Derry library to take part in World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support – Derry Now. “Libraries NI has announced a list of libraries across Northern Ireland that will be hosting this year’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning on Friday 29 September, which is Macmillan Cancer Support’s flagship fundraiser”
  • Poole – Our pick of top 10 events this week – Daily Echo. “Celebrate National Poetry Day on Thursday. Poole libraries will be hosting special events and activities. “
  • St Helens – New Heritage Lottery-funded project to see town’s history preserved in online archive – St Helens Star. “St Helens Council Library Service has been awarded £86,400 from the HLF for the project to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the town’s creation. Called the St Helens Living Archive, it will focus on the creation of an online virtual archive where members of the community will be encouraged to upload photographs, videos and stories of their own lives and memories of the town.”
  • Salford – Hundreds of libraries are being closed across the country… but not in Salford – Manchester Evening News. “While neighbouring councils have shut them, the city which opened the UK’s first municipal library in 1850 is planning to invest almost £600,000 and open new ones” compare with Salford Council to axe 25% of jobs in move to unstaffed libraries – Salford Star [Email received suggests the Salford Star article is misleading – Ed.]
  • Somerset – Library Service update and Proposed Strategy – Somerset Council. “Somerset’s Library Service is undergoing a journey of change and modernisation” … “In parallel, the Library Service has delivered over £1m of savings during this period” … “the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DDCMS) is currently actively promoting the use of alternative delivery models for local authorities’ Library Services.””
  • Staffordshire – Self-service libraries plans could see stock damaged – claim – Burton Mail. “Sweeping cuts to libraries in Burton and Uttoxeter – including reductions in staff hours and readers serving themselves – could see books and equipment damaged, it is feared. It was reported earlier this month that huge £1.3 million budget cuts could see Burton and Uttoxeter libraries become out-of-hours self-service facilities by 2021.”
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Donation is a sweet success for St Athan library – Barry and District News. “St  Athan [volunteer] Library has been given a helping hand thanks to a donation from Tarmac’s Aberthaw Cement Plant, from sales of its site-produced honey. The honey, which is harvested from the beehives installed at the plant’s quarry, was produced and sold to colleagues on site. The jars, which sold in less than three days, raised £80 which was donated to the library to help with running costs. Aberthaw Cement Plant environmental coordinator, Kara Bennett, said: “We are delighted that our colleagues have supported us to help raise money for St Athan Library.”
  • Wandsworth – Councillors poised to give green light to a bigger and better Northcote Library – Wandsworth Council. “The latest proposals have been drawn up following a comprehensive public consultation earlier this year which showed clear support for a modern new library building, but also prompted some design changes from those initially published. These revised proposals – which if backed by councillors would be subject to further rounds of public consultation – would see a modern three storey library incorporating an improved children’s section complete with buggy parking space, enlarged study accommodation, self serve kiosks for book loans, upgraded computer and digital learning areas and a coffee and drinks outlet next to the section containing newspapers, magazine and periodicals.” see also Replacement of Northcote library has been given the thumbs up by Tory Councillors – Clapham Junction Action Group. “A group of local residents claim that the consultation was directed so that the result would be achieved that the Council wanted (something we also saw for Peabody). The whole proposal (because it is only preliminary according to the Council) has been vague throughout (no financials have been presented and no detailed plans) so people said they did not know what they were voting for. “
  • Windsor and Maidenhead – Children’s author gives top tips to budding writers – Windsor Express. “Cathy Cassidy, who has written more than 30 novels for children and teenagers, including the Chocolate Box Girls and Daisy Star series, was at The Windsor Boys’ School in Maidenhead Road on Saturday to speak to an audience of about 100 youngsters and their parents. As well as advising anyone keen to see their own pages published to get practicing as much as they can, she also had strong words about the importance of libraries. This included praise for the Royal Borough’s libraries service, which had organised the event as part of the on-going Windsor Fringe Festival.”
  • Wirral – Busy month of events at Wirral Libraries this October – Wirral Globe. “Running throughout October Wirral Libraries will host 12 diverse author events covering genres such as horror, humour, sci-fi and romance. Authors joining in with Wirral Bookfest this year include Maureen Lee, whose books are set in her home city of Liverpool.”