I’m delighted to see Manchester has just been announced as a UNESCO Creative City of Literature.  The city has so many beautiful libraries, historic and modern, capped by my currently most favourite library of all,  Manchester Central Library. It’s a city with a lot of going on, not least a lot of creative writing and reading. I hope the announcement will serve to make it even more so.


National news

  • Bibliotheca’s cloudLibrary™ Now Available in 11 Languages – Bibliotheca. “bibliotheca has released the new iOS and Android 3.4 cloudLibrary™ app. This update offers users the option to explore cloudLibrary in 11 different languages: English, Spanish, German, French, Canadian French, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, Maori, and Romanian.”

“Libraries, what do we need them for now? We have the internet. We have our phones; we have our book-reading devices. Why do we need librarians? Surely everything we need is at our fingertips and when money is tight, health and schools are obviously the forerunners in the race for funds. But when I look at this super-connected world we live in now, I would argue the case that libraries and librarians are very much still needed in today’s society.  Libraries support a range of agendas from health to the economy: they help to increase reading and literacy, improve digital access, and contribute to greater prosperity by supporting entrepreneurs and people seeking work” Kathryn Parry quoted in Western Mail [Not online at time of post]

  • #NotWithoutMe: A digital world for all? – Carnegie UK Trust. “Findings from a programme of digital inclusion for vulnerable young people across the UK”. “Surprisingly, only one mention of libraries.
  • Questionnaire for librarians – MA student, University of Sheffield. Questionnaire on how you feel about public libraries and what major changes there have been. Designed for those with librarianship qualifications.
  • Thinking about exploring an alternative delivery model for your library service? – Libraries Taskforce / Peter Gaw. “This post was written by Peter Gaw, CEO of Inspire – Culture Learning and Libraries (Nottinghamshire). It has formed a consortium (Optimo) alongside the three other existing libraries mutuals – Explore York, Libraries Unlimited (Devon) and Suffolk Libraries – and consultancy firm Mutual Ventures”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • China – New futuristic Tianjin library is the coolest place to read a book in China – Shangaiist. “Designed by Dutch firm MVRDV, the library opened recently in the city’s Binhai Cultural Center and looks like just about the coolest place you could read a book in China.” [Amazing pictures – Ed.]
  • Eire – Nuala O’Connor on why our libraries matter – RTE. “And this is why the library is so important: the respect for books is total because books are its business, they are literally the most crucial thing. The library is a place of democracy, a private university for those who can’t afford to go to college. But lately they are more than this too: the library is now a community and cultural hub, a centre of joint learning and camaraderie. My local library has two book clubs as well as weekly computer and crochet classes. It’s a Europe Direct information centre and it holds an annual Summer Stars Reading Programme for kids. It hosts art exhibitions and lectures in its vast gallery space. Our library is a place where schoolchildren are regularly brought who might not normally have access to books that have nothing to do with schoolwork, a place for them to learn the rewards of reading solely for pleasure.”
  • USA – The Angriest Librarian Is Full of Hope – CityLab. “For far too many people, the word library conjures up an image of a dusty old building, full of dusty people reading dusty relics. For others, it’s the stereotype of the “sexy librarian,” the nubile authoritarian who shushes you into the stacks. In reality, what public libraries have become in the 21st century is a model for building community and enhancing opportunities for underserved and marginalized people. Those dusty books still exist, but today they’re side by side with technology, maker spaces, interactive learning environments, and librarians that are trained to teach their communities how to use them.”
  • USA – Watch: Authors explain why public libraries are so important (and not just for other writers) – American Library Association. Includes Sarah Jessica Parker but quite a few others too.

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Community libraries given green light by council – Chew Valley Gazette. “Plans are underway for a community library in Bishop Sutton as Bath & North East Somerset [B&NES] Council announces the devolution of some library services. October saw B&NES Council reveal plans for the creation of a network of community run libraries, to be entirely volunteer run and managed, across the authority.”
  • Bournemouth – Letter to the Editor: Bournemouth council is paving the way for privatisation of public libraries – Daily Echo. “The truth is for modern day Tories every enterprise has to be profit-driven. Public funding of public services is a severe threat to this business model. And so it is in Bournemouth we have hundreds of council licensed alcohol outlets – bars, clubs, cafes, venues – all pulling in lucrative profits for operators, and for council. And for libraries, in central Bournemouth, we have one and one only. Now under threat to become some sort of cyber cafe activity centre – with some books.”
  • Calderdale – A growing cultural quarter in Halifax – Libraries Taskforce. “Besides the usual components of fiction, non fiction and a children’s section, the new building has lots of flexibility to develop. Close to the entrance is a space where the glass screen is etched with the name: The Lab. Currently housing a 3D printer and desks with computers, the library team works with local groups to develop that space for job-seeking and IT support throughout weekdays”
  • Calderdale – Shake-up plans for youth services in Brighouse – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “It also wants to look at remodelling and refurbishing Elland Library to include services provided elsewhere.”
  • Croydon – Councillor keen to kick Carillion out of borough’s libraries – Inside Croydon. “Timothy Godfrey may have announced that he is to stand down as a councillor next May, but Labour’s cabinet member for arts and culture continues to rail against the frequent poor service provided by contractors responsible for the borough’s parks, leisure centres and libraries. Godfrey inherited outsourced pools and gyms, a parks service and libraries from the previous Tory-run council. The leisure centre contract with Fusion is not being renewed next year, and Godfrey appears to be watching very closely the performance of the Carillion subsidiary which oversees Croydon’s library service”
  • East Sussex – County library closure plans opposed by Uckfield Town Council – Uckfield News. “Library closures in many towns and villages across East Sussex are being opposed by Uckfield Town Council. Members feel it right to support other communities, even though the town’s library is not threatened by the current round of cutbacks. Hours were cut at the branch in a previous round of savings.”
  • Manchester – Homeless people can now use the city’s library books and computers – Manchester Evening News. “Becoming a member of a library is almost impossible without a permanent address, but now the homeless charity Lifeshare and Manchester City Council have teamed up to solve the problem”
  • Manchester – Two UK cities join prestigious UNESCO Creative Cities Network – UNESCO. “Creative City of Literature status for Manchester recognises the transformative impact of its literary heritage upon the city, the nation and the world. Manchester has a strong tradition of radical writing. Engels and Marx worked together at Chetham’s Library; Elizabeth Gaskell wrote her campaigning novels in Manchester; and the Pankhurst Centre celebrates the polemic writings of Suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst. Manchester has 22 public libraries, including the recently refurbished Central Library, one of the busiest public libraries in the UK. Lifelong learning, literacy and creative writing is at the heart of this service. This ranges from the Manchester Literature Festival and the National Black and Asian Writers Conference, to prizes promoting writer development and new writing (such as the Portico Prize). In total, 800 literature events take place across the city each year, ranging from translation workshops, open mic events, a feminist book cabaret and radical writing events. The City is also home to Manchester Muslim Writers group – the only dedicated Muslim writers group in the UK – and world-class publishers, including Carcanet and Comma Press.”
  • Norfolk – ‘Sham’ claim as public set to have say on millions of pounds of County Council cuts – Eastern Daily Press. “Norfolk County Council needs to save £125m over the next four years and has a string of proposals which would see it spend less on services. The controlling Conservatives say that co-locating services such as libraries, children’s centres and day centres will help save money.”
  • Slough – Record number of members for The Curve at first-year anniversary – Slough and South Bucks Observer. “Dayna White, who is Slough Borough Council’s audience development coordinator, said membership had hit a plateau at the former central library site, which fronted High Street and William Street. But the opening of the new central library and cultural centre, The Curve, in September last year has seen membership continue to grow – with 8,065 new members joining in the first year alone, a 59 per cent increase. In total, Slough libraries membership is now 68,900 strong, which includes people who go to events and use computers. Around 22,000 of them borrow books or other items each month.”
  • Wrexham – ‘Difficult Decisions 2018-20’ Consultation – Wrexham. Includes libraries. “Local Councils have less money to spend on services because Government (UK and Wales) are giving us less money in our budgets every year.  Wrexham Council has already saved around £18 million in the last three years, and we think we’re going to have to find another £13 million over the next two years. Overall, we have had to make savings of £52 million since 2008.”

“Wrexham Council manages a number of libraries across the county borough. Whilst the Council does have to deliver a library service, the way in which we provide this service is at our discretion. In 2018/19, the Council is making savings of £57,000 within the Library Service however, we would like to get your thoughts on further proposed changes to the service. It is proposed that over the next couple of years, a full review of the Library Service is carried out to ensure it is cost effective and fit for purpose. This may involve looking at changes to existing service provision, including possible changes in location, accessibility to the services and alternative operating models including community ownership. Depending on the outcome of the review, investment may be required to respond to any proposed service changes resulting from the review to enable WCBC to maintain a visible and viable public library service which meets the Welsh Public Library Standards.”