Some more generally good news for libraries this post, with a couple of new co-located buildings being planned and various library improvements being reported. There’s also a couple of volunteer libraries taking advantage of the season to ask for more volunteers, including one which is worried about the cost of its building becoming too much for it. Abroad, the decision by the USA to end net neutrality will start pressuring libraries (and a lot of other people) while a Canadian library takes an interestingly thoughtful stance on room hires to extremist groups.


National news

    • Britain’s iconic red phone boxes being transformed into libraries, art galleries and cafes – Daily Sabah.
    • Building the Reader of Tomorrow Today – Leon’s Library Blog. “Matt quite rightly points out that school librarians help make tomorrows reader today by encouraging and developing a love of reading in pupils. Literacy is the single most essential life skill and the importance of a good education in enabling social mobility cannot be over-emphasised. One of the ways the government can encourage this is to fund school libraries.”
    • Can libraries bring internet safety to life? – Libraries Taskforce. “The 3,000 libraries in England offer many ways of engaging their diverse range of users to share online safety; indeed many are already leading this work through tech teach-ins aimed at parents and participation in UK Safer Internet Day activities. The strategy states that the government would like to encourage libraries to continue to be involved in such initiatives. We’d like to invite you to submit your feedback on the proposals in the Internet Safety Strategy and any online safety ideas relating to the library sector.”
    • A creative challenge a day – for January 2018 – Libraries Taskforce. “At 64 Million Artists, we think everyone is creative and that being creative is all about trying something new, having fun, expressing yourself and connecting with others. It’s not about being perfect – it’s just about having a go.”
    • GLL Libraries – visits and issues sustained – GLL. “Library use was up in London and Lincolnshire in a year that also saw GLL add two new library contracts to its growing portfolio, in a vote of confidence in the brand’s ethos to keep libraries open and get more people using them.” … “The CIPFA statistics come on the back of good news for Lincolnshire libraries which confirmed 1.76 million visits were made to the county’s libraries in the 12 months to April 2017 since GLL took over the service – up 1 per cent. Lincolnshire libraries issues since April 2017 are up 23 per cent over the previous year.” … “GLL now manage 113 libraries across Bromley, Dudley, Greenwich, Lincolnshire and Wandsworth.”
    • Literary fiction in crisis as sales drop dramatically, Arts Council England reports – Guardian. “New figures show that fewer UK writers earn enough to live on, as ACE blames falling sales of literary fiction on the recession and the rise of smartphones”
    • The Tories are savaging libraries – and closing the book on social mobility – Guardian. Public libraries offer essential community space for books, children, online access “Libraries are also one of the most solid collective bulwarks against the modern scourge of loneliness: places that offer shared experience and a chance to linger among company, without having to spend any money.” but deep ongoing cuts to libraries mean reduced usage. Conservatives have “spent seven long years attacking a public service that is a byword for the education and opportunity they bang on about”
    • This Christmas, don’t give books to non-readers – Guardian. “Definitely buy books for the non-readers who simply can’t afford them, as libraries around the UK close their doors at an alarming rate. “
    • Word on Tour kicks off in Devon, January 2018 – Literature Works. “The tour will continue in libraries across Devon, taking in Okehampton, Tiverton, Ilfracombe, Cullompton, Torquay, Paignton, Brixham and Petroc FE College libraries. Some exciting names have already been confirmed for these events including performance poets Jonny Fluffypunk, Elvis McGonagall and Matt Harvey and writers Patrick Gale and Nikesh Shukla.”

An online bookclub from Axiell

International news

  • Canada – Chris Selley: Toronto’s public libraries make an imperfect but brave stand for free speech – National Post. “It has been five months since a coalition of conservatives and progressives condemned the decision to rent a room to a white supremacist for a memorial service” … “The new policy “state(s) much more strongly that room bookings will be denied or cancelled when the library ‘reasonably believes the purpose of the booking is likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting, discrimination, contempt or hatred of any group’,” a staff report notes. In the wrong hands, that kind of language can certainly lead to overreach. But there is reason to hope TPL’s hands are strong and clean, and that it realizes its obligation as a public entity not to limit speech capriciously. “The revised policy would not change the decision about allowing the (Kulaszka) memorial,” says city librarian Vickery Bowles.”
  • USA – Future of Libraries: 2017 in Review and 2018 Preview – Aspen Institute. Progress this year. Lots of meetings etc.
  • USA – Google Now Directs Users to Library Ebooks – Public Libraries Online. “In a move likely to increase e-book circulation at libraries across the country, Overdrive has partnered with Google to ensure users searching for books can see whether or not they are available electronically at their local library.”
  • USA – How the repeal of net neutrality could hurt libraries – City and State. “The Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal net neutrality has left many in fear about what that means for the future of the internet. Opponents of the repeal worry that without regulation, internet service providers will throttle bandwidth for certain sites, charge more for faster service and censor information, among other concerns. One group in New York City is especially fearful of the impact: its public library systems.” … “Perhaps the most pressing issue is the impact the repeal could have on the cost of internet service. As public entities, New York’s public libraries largely rely on government funding, which often leaves assets tight.”
  • USA – On the Perilous Plight of the Part-Time Librarian – Lit Hub, “growth rate for our field volleys between average and lower than average. The mass retirement of librarians promised throughout library school hasn’t been so massive. And when librarians do retire, their full-time positions may be replaced with part-time ones”

Local news by authority

  • Bexley – In Profile: Blackfen Community Library – Community Libraries Network. “We are a community library in the heart of Blackfen High Street and our vision is to have an ‘open door’ for our community – providing opportunities to access a great world of books in a comforting ‘third space’ – a home away from home. “
  • Bolton – New Little Lever library and health centre plans move step closer – Bolton News. “Designs for the new facility, on the site of the village’s old Tesco Metro, were first revealed last week and have now been sent to Bolton Council’s planning department. It is anticipated the plans will be determined by the council’s planning committee in February. The new site will replace Little Lever’s current library, in Coronation Square, and also house three existing GP practices.”
  • Bournemouth / Dorset  – Dorset Libraries in Limbo Following Council Cuts – Buzz Bournemouth. A look at cuts to Bournemouth budget and Colehill volunteer library in Dorset.
  • Bradford – MP moves to reassure Ilkley residents over the future of town’s library – Ilkley Gazette. “Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) has expressed fears over the possible closure of Ilkley Library, a move which, if true, she described as “…an appalling kick in the teeth.” However, Mr Grogan has told the Ilkley Gazette, he understands it is the council’s intention to keep open all flagship Ilkley buildings, including the library.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Super storytelling thrives in Dunstable as Lancot Online Library launched – Dunstable Today. “Imaginative Dunstable school pupils created their very own digital library books, which were celebrated during a special showcase at the town’s Grove Theatre. On November 30, staff and pupils from Lancot Challenger Academy hosted a literary presentation called ‘Shelved!’, as they were proud to launch Lancot Online Library.”
  • Darlington – Complaints about cost of Crown Street Library court case are ‘silly’, says Darlington councillor – Northern Echo. “A Councillor told campaigners who took Darlington’s council to the high courts in their battle to save a historic library that to subsequently complain about the authority paying legal fees was “silly”. A meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet members on Tuesday saw Cllr Stephen Harker address complaints made about the costly nature of a legal case centring on the closure-threatened Crown Street Library. Using legal aid, campaigners have brought a case against the council in the hope of saving the much-loved facility, which has been earmarked for closure as part of the authority’s far-reaching Medium Term Financial Plan.”
  • Derbyshire – Derbyshire schools could lose declining library service used by just 35 per cent of those eligible – Burton Mail. “A library loaning system for Derbyshire pupils could face closure after only just over a third of eligible schools used the service”
  • Doncaster – Building for the future at Cantley Library – South Yorkshire Times. “Several years after the facility changed from being run by the council to being run by a team of dedicated volunteers, there are concerns for the future of the building on Goodison Boulevard which houses the service.” … “We have a very good group of 35 volunteers helping to run the place. We have regular review meetings with a representative from the library service at Doncaster Council., and I think we are one of the top five most used libraries in the borough.” … “But the down side is the fabric of the building. “A survey since the volunteers took over revealed problems with its timber frame. They believe the building will only last a few more years.”
  • Durham – Stop-gap library set to open as plans push on with new £1.9m centre – Hartlepool Mail. “Durham County Council will today close Peterlee’s library as it prepares to move it into the leisure centre off Bede Way, with that new venue to launch next autumn.” … “From Monday, the council will run a temporary area inside the leisure centre, providing six computers and a book loan service, as well as space for community sessions such as toddler groups, knit and knatter, Action on Hearing and a reading group, which will meet starting in January.”
  • Durham – Universal Credit claimants encouraged to use libraries’ free internet – Northern Echo. “Universal Credit, which is already in place for some claimants in the Seaham and Peterlee areas, is being rolled out to Bishop Auckland, Crook, Consett, Stanley and some parts of Barnard Castle this week for new claimants and those on existing benefits who have had a change in their circumstances. Durham County Council is reminding residents that its libraries and customer access points all offer free internet access, which they can use to submit and update their claim form.”
  • East Sussex – Library letters from the heart – Eastbourne Herald / Letters. “I would like through your column to give a tremendous thank you to the members of the Save Willingdon Library Action Group who have worked tirelessly in recent weeks to highlight how very important our much loved Willingdon Library is. The group consists of three members of staff from our Willingdon Community School, a member of staff from Willingdon Primary School, young mums and dads and also representatives, including me, from the older generation. The biggest thank you I would like to give is to all the young children and students in our parish who have between them written nearly 800 letters to Councillor Glazier setting out the reasons why our Willingdon Library is so important to them and should remain open. “
  • Greenwich – Plans for expanded Plumstead library including sports hall approved – News Shopper. “Plumstead library is set to be transformed into a leisure, cultural and sports centre after ambitious plans were approved by Greenwich Council. The building will maintain its current status as a library but will now be a multi-functional building that provides sports and other leisure facilities for the town.”
  • Hull – ‘It’s a no-brainer’: Fantastic plans for East Park’s cafe set to go ahead – Hull Daily Mail. “Cabinet councillors are next week expected to give the go-ahead to proposals to relocate a library currently based at the Mount Pleasant retail park on Holderness Road to the pavilion in East Park. If approved, the move would see the council spending just over £300,000 to convert the existing office and community space at the pavilion for use as a library. The pavilion, which stands in the middle of the park, also hosts a popular cafe which will continue to operate alongside the new library. The move has been prompted by the current library’s 10-year lease at the privately-run Mount Pleasant complex coming to end next May.”
  • Lancashire – Pledge over closed library – Blackpool Gazette. “St Annes Library will open as soon as practically possible, a leading county councillor has pledged.”
  • Lancashire – Up Holland Library to reopen as independent community facility run by Artz for All group – Champion News. “UP Holland Library is to reopen as an independent, community-run organisation following a decision made by Lancashire County Council’s cabinet on Thursday, December 7. The cabinet agreed in principle an application for the Community Asset Transfer (CAT) of Up Holland Library in West Lancashire to Artz for All, a community interest company which provides creative opportunities and services to people, schools and organisations across the district. As well as providing an independent, community-run library service, the group is proposing to turn the building into an arts centre”
  • Lincolnshire – Start the new year as a volunteer at Crowland Community Hub – Spalding Today. “Crowland Community Hub is looking for new volunteers to help run the library, craft centre and cinema in 2018. The hub has been open since Halloween, October 2015, but changes will take place as Crowland Cares will be moving its weekly sessions to new premises.”
  • Norfolk – Pesky seagulls force library to shut – Great Yarmouth Mercury. “Workmen found a bird’s nest on the roof of Gorleston Library which was blocking a gully. The blocked drain caused a leak in the roof which forced the library to fully shut on Wednesday. On Thursday only the ground floor of the building in Lowestoft Road was open for readers to borrow and return books, but they were unable to use the computers, printers or WiFi”
  • Northamptonshire – ‘Unreasonable’ time constraints imposed on groups battling to save Northamptonshire libraries – Northamptonshire Libraries. “Higham Ferrers Town Council says that the ‘unreasonable’ time constraints being imposed and the size of the library mean that it is the only group in a position to run it and that this can only be done by raising council tax. The town council has to set its budget before a decision about the library is made by the county council.”
  • Oxfordshire – Take a sneak peek inside Oxford’s new library – Oxford Mail. “carols, pop-up opera and children’s storytelling are just some of the events planned to celebrate the re-opening of the county library at Oxford’s Westgate centre. The newly-named Oxfordshire County Library will re-open next Monday, with music, classes for parents and babies, talks from authors, carols and much more. Since November 18, staff at Oxford Central Library have been moving its entire catalogue of books from their temporary home in Oxford Castle Quarter to its new home – in its old spot – at the Westgate centre.”
  • Powys – New home for Knighton Library – Hereford Times. “Knighton Library will now be based at the town’s community centre after moving to its new home on December 1. “
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff – Library Court enjoys successful festive launch – Trivallis. “The Library Court development led by local housing association, Trivallis in partnership with both Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Jehu, launched with a visit from the new Minister for Housing and Regeneration, Rebecca Evans AM and also a Christmas Fayre in a new space earmarked for the local community.” see also Event celebrates the opening of new Rhydyfelin Library – Rhondda Cynon Taff Council.

“It has been a long haul for the Support Group since Rhondda Cynon Taf announced the proposed closure in January 2014, including a court case and members chaining themselves to bookshelves. Their effort is not reflected in the press notices and they deserve further coverage.”