Things are getting complicated in libraryland. It used to be that councils ran libraries, kept them running – or not – and that was it. Now, all sorts of different organisations run libraries and we’ve had our first case last week of one non-council library organisation (GLL) coming in to keep open three Lincolnshire libraries that another non-council library organisation (now defunct charity “Learning Communities”) no linger could. It used to be that councils funded events or programmes, or not. Now we have a libraries mutual, York Explore, seeking to crowdfund the Summer Reading Challenge, the first such attempt at this I’ve seen. And then we have GLL – that name again – settling a strike with library workers in Bromley, without any council involvement. The reason for all this is, of course, money (or the council’s lack of it), a fact which means that it’s likely Hertfordshire will be going that way soon too. And, confusingly, for us typers, Herefordshire too. Which allows me to make the puny observation that trusts now suit some councils down to a “t”.

And then we have volunteer libraries. Read the post below from the “Community Managed Libraries Conference” to get the state of play there and draw your own conclusions, not least from the recorded speech of the libraries minister (embedded).


National news

  • Changing Landscape: A report from the Community Managed Libraries Conference – Community Libraries Network. “On 20th March 2018 the Community Managed Libraries Peer Network held it’s first national conference, themed Changing Landscape: Building Our Capacity. Hosted in Sheffield Central Library it was an opportunity for community managed libraries (CMLs) from around the country to get together, share learning and ideas and forge new relationships through which they can support each other going forward. This blog post has been written by Leigh Ogden from Upper Norwood Library Trust in London and reflects her thoughts and experiences from the day.” … “there was a wide range of ideas including what training and development opportunities people want, additional resources people would like access to (such as a CML toolkit and stock management & library management advice), the idea of creating regional networks, working together on joint funding bids and creating stock buying power through shared book buying. ”
  • The Common Room – getting back to the roots of public libraries – CILIP / Nick Poole. “Our prison, school and public libraries and the librarians and library workers that run them are that room. That common room of our nations and regions and communities. They are the common room at the heart of the school. They are the ‘other place’ – the common room at the heart of the prison that makes you feel like a whole person again. They are that trusted place of comfort and community and learning and discovery.”
  • Engagement with scholarly work as professional development Andrew Preater. “Why read books, book chapters, journal articles, and other scholarly work as part of your professional development? As a manager, why support and enable colleagues to do so? In this post I discuss some challenges for library managers and leaders in supporting deeper engagement with scholarly work, and some issues in the library profession more broadly with engagement with everything we term “theory””

“Within our professional discourse it is disturbing to see disparaging, if low-level, comments about reading for professional development. This can come across as a lingering wish for gatekeeping and controlling access to knowledge.”

  • Leader: Britain’s public realm is in unmistakable decay after years of unending cuts – New Statesman. “… Nearly 1,000 Sure Start children’s centres and 478 libraries are estimated to have closed since 2010 …”
  • Local election candidates urged to champion libraries – BookSeller. “Library and information association CILIP is encouraging candidates to champion libraries ahead of the local elections taking place in England this May. In his letter to candidates, CILIP president Ayub Khan emphasised the communal nature of libraries, as well as the range of facilities they offer.”
  • Local elections 2018: Decision time on local services – LocalGov. “Labour is highlighting the effects of cuts on schools, libraries and social services, while the Conservatives stress the need to provide value for money and keep council taxes down.” … “The Government’s austerity strategy and cuts in services took centre stage: schools, hospitals, policing, libraries and youth centres had faced budget reductions or closures under the Tories, he [Jeremy Corbyn] said, while tax breaks were handed out to companies and high earners.”
  • School library fund ‘not enough’ to cover cuts – Herald Scotland. “The Scottish Library Improvement Fund (SLIF), which offers a total fund of £1 million over three years, was launched in September 2017 to support school library projects as part of a wider approach to improving literacy and educational attainment. “

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Eire – Fines for late return of library books set to be abolished – Irish Independent. “The strategy was discussed at some length by Cabinet yesterday in an attempt to encourage more people to take up library membership. It’s understood that some ministers were of the view that the fines were “putting people off” joining libraries. Community Development minister Michael Ring sought approval for the plan to cover the years up to 2022 at Cabinet yesterday. The strategy aims to increase library membership and use by improving access and awareness of the services they provide and to reinforce the local library as “a trusted place in the community”.”
  • Global – 10 promotional channels to attract more users to libraries – Princh. Website content, blogging, search engine optimisation, Facebook, Instagram/Twitter, streaming videos, YouTube, podcasts, newsletters/emails, messaging apps.
  • Global – Connecting with Readers through Email – Ebsco Novelist. A report on a US experiment to boost library usage via email campaigns. Looks at how to do it and results.
  • Global – IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year – IFLA. $5000 prize. “The “Public Library of the Year” award is administered by IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) to celebrate new public libraries. The award is presented to a library anywhere in the world that best combines open, functional architecture with creative IT solutions and also takes into account both digital developments and local culture. To qualify, the library must be newly built or housed in buildings not previously used as a library. This means that it must have been completed between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017.”. Deadline 15th May.
  • Netherlands – Church in the Netherlands converted into transformer library: books by day, party room by night – Tree Hugger. “a multifunctional center containing a library and a museum but also a bar and shops.” … “The bookshelves are placed on a rail system so they can be moved to the aisles of the church. In this setting the church can be used for large events several times a year. “
  • USA – 5 of the Coolest Children’s Libraries in the U.S. – Brightly. “The librarians integrate activities and books in a cohesive way. For example, on any given day in the middle childhood neighborhood (ages 6 – 10), you might find books on weather and clouds with a STEM activity to make a cloud in a jar.” … “Children ages two- to five-years-old can choose Preschool Palooza STEM Storytime which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts.”
  • USA – Book vending machines installed across US by French publisher – Independent. “Short Edition, a French community publisher of short-form literature, has installed more than 30 story dispensers in the United States in the past year to deliver fiction at the push of a button at restaurants and universities, government offices and transportation hubs” … “it is shaped like a cylinder with three buttons on top indicating a one minute, three minute or five minute story. (That’s how long it takes to read). When a button is pushed, a short story is printed, unfurled on a long strip of paper.”

Local news by authority

  • Bexley – Sidcup library: Plans to move are ‘mystifying’ users – News Shopper. “An action group said users have been “mystified” over plans to relocate Sidcup Library to the old Blockbuster site. At a council meeting on Wednesday, Noel Lake, spokesman for Sidcup Library Action Group, questioned the plan to move the borough’s second busiest library to a busy junction on the high street. Bexley Council is considering moving the facility to be co-located with a new cinema in the empty Blockbuster unit, leaving the library site free to be developed”
  • Bristol – Fears Government-funded report into library cuts will be ‘buried’ by Bristol City Council – Bristol Post. “The ongoing battle in to the future of Bristol’s library service has taken another twist, with one councillor claiming the authority is trying to ‘bury’ a government-funded report. Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, announced in November the council had won funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to further assess the future of Bristol’s library service.” … “The report was due back in mid-April, but it appears the document will not be made available to the public or the majority of councillors. Furthermore the council has now said the assessment will “not have any direct affect” on the final decision over the future of the library service, leaving some to question whether the report made some unpalatable recommendations.”” see also ‘Bristol’s libraries are under serious threat and need our support’ – B24/7 and University of Bristol students ‘fighting over library seats’ as deadlines and exams loom – Bristol Live. University tweets “Seating in the library is at a premium at the moment – this is why there is currently no access for external visitors.”

“Union members agree to halt strike action and return to work. GLL and Unite announce that, following further talks, they have reached an agreement on pay and facility time for Bromley Libraries staff. GLL has also committed to filling a number of vacant posts as quickly as possible. The pay deal is as follows: an increase of 2% to basic salaries or the London Living Wage, whichever is greater. In addition, as a goodwill measure and in recognition of the uncertainties arising from the transfer from council control, GLL has agreed to make consolidated increases ranging from £200 to £325 to the lower salary points. Agreement was conditional to Unite agreeing that there will be no further changes to scale points, or other payments to mirror future changes to national or Bromley Council spine points or pay bands.” Bromley – Agreement reached between GLL and Unite regarding Bromley Libraries staff (joint GLL/Unite statement, received via email.

  • Bromley – Bromley libraries – indefinite strike action continues – Socialist Party. “this strike breaking operation cannot last – GLL simply does not have the resources to maintain it. Talks have taken place with the employer and some progress has been made – but pay is a major stumbling block. The sheer determination of the strikers and the serious nature of the dispute, as shown by the fact that the union has gone for indefinite strike action is a clear indication that this very important dispute can be won.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Review of Mobile Library services (Decision to be taken) – Buckinghamshire Council. “Agree to the discontinuation of the service on June 1st 2018 and the removal of all three vehicles to save £113,000 in Year 1 and £180,000 each year thereafter”
  • Cardiff – The mysterious case of a new Crime & Coffee Festival – Wales 247.Cardiff Central Library Hub, in partnership with Welsh crime writers collective, Crime Cymru, will host a two-day Crime and Coffee Festival on Friday June 1 and Saturday, June 2, featuring award-winning authors and some of the biggest names in the genre”
  • Cornwall – £500k plans for library Cornish Times. “Plans costing £500,000 to turn Liskeard Library into an ‘iconic cultural hub’ have been revealed. Advice is being sought for a scheme that could ‘breathe new life’ into the building in the town centre. Under the proposals, control of the building would be devolved from Cornwall Council to the Plymouth-based community interest company Real Ideas Organisation, which is behind the scheme”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Upper Norwood Library ‘hub’ applies for a booze licence – Inside Croydon.Upper Norwood Library, on Westow Hill, has submitted an application for a licence to serve alcohol, largely with a view to begin to stage events, comedy nights and concerts in its upstairs space, particularly around the Crystal Palace Festival this June.” … “The trustees have already added the superfluous word ‘hub’ at the end of the library sign outside,” one unimpressed library user said today. “Maybe they can do a paint job on the ‘H’ and turn it into a ‘P’?”” … ““The building has to pay for itself, so now it’s important they drive income into the building to support the library offer on ground floor.”
  • Croydon / Lambeth – Library where you can borrow ukuleles and cake tins opening in Crystal Palace this weekend – Croydon Advertiser. “The long-awaited library, which will lend everything from screwdrivers to musical instruments, will open on Saturday (April 21) at Upper Norwood Library, on Westow Hill. A community group are opening the Library of Things in the existing library, with an aim of giving those who can’t afford to buy – or space to store – the chance to borrow expensive equipment like pressure washers, speakers or drills, when needed.”
  • Denbighshire – St Asaph Library opens new chapter – Free Press. “Improvements include a large entrance foyer which will feature a tourism information point, new improved windows throughout the building, Wi-Fi, a community refreshment area, an additional meeting room, a self-service payment facility, an improved public access computer area, and improved signage. “
  • East Sussex – Community comes together in bid to save Langney Library – Eastbourne Herald. “People are looking to take over the Langney Library site for a facility run entirely by volunteers and funded by the community. The group is led by county councillor for the area, Alan Shuttleworth and is supported by the Langney Shopping Centre. “
  • Hampshire – Town centre had well-used libraries, starting in 1740 – Petersfield Post. “According to a blue plaque put up at 19 High Street by Petersfield Area Historical Society, the building which now houses Ask restaurant was the home to the town’s first library in 1740”
  • Herefordshire – Proposals to outsource libraries in Herefordshire – Stop the privatisation of public libraries. “As far as I can see the council is looking to cut £65k in the current financial year from the Libraries budget so from these figures and the fact that the council has been pushing the community-led model over the last few years it looks as if the decision to privatise libraries will be an ideological and not a fiscal one, which in my experience is more than often the case.” … ““The recent consultation showed that more residents opposed the proposals than supported them, similarly so did a majority of the hard working library staff.” The recommendation will now go to cabinet for approval at the end of April. “
  • Hertfordshire – Hertfordshire’s libraries set to be ‘privatised’ – Hemel Today. “In a vote of the full council, the Conservatives endorsed plans for a ‘Public Service Mutual (PSM) model’, which will make the libraries services independent of the authority. Council bosses say such a scheme has already been introduced successfully in other parts of the country, but critics say it is a “high risk” plan. Council officer Taryn 
Pearson-Rose said: “Our 
ultimate aim is to ensure that the library service continues to deliver quality services and be in the best possible position to thrive into the future.” … ““The council admits it is a high-risk approach, as the financial benefits of over £600,000 per annum will only be achieved if the PSM is awarded charitable status and is able to reclaim 80 per cent of the business rates that the libraries pay” … ““The recent consultation showed that more residents opposed the proposals than supported them, similarly so did a majority of the hard working library staff.” The recommendation will now go to cabinet for approval at the end of April. “
  • Hertfordshire – Proposal for new library at Harpenden primary school – Herts Advertiser. “The new library, if approved by the district council, would be open to both pupils and the public”
  • Lambeth – Oscar-winner Mark Rylance: ‘Elect Green Party councillors in Lambeth to protect libraries and parks’ – Lambeth Green Park. “A strong defender of public libraries and open spaces, in his statement Rylance endorses the three Green Party candidates as champions of local campaigns to reinstate a full service at Carnegie Library and to protect Brockwell Park from commercial exploitation. “
  • Lincolnshire – Community in Burgh-le-Marsh celebrate new library – Skegness Standard. “Formally sharing a building with Sunshine Nursery, the new library has been open to the public for two months so volunteers could settle in before the big day.”
  • Lincolnshire – Three Lincoln libraries will remain open despite operator shutting down – Lincolnite. “Learning Communities runs the Birchwood, Boultham and Ermine libraries and communities hub. The Lincolnite has been informed that the registered charity is planning to stop operating on May 11. Learning Communities has not been available for comment by the time of publication. However, Lincolnshire County Council confirmed that Greenwich Leisure Limited, who operate several libraries across the county, will temporarily assist volunteers at the three facilities.”
  • North Ayrshire – North Ayrshire libraries to stop buying new CDs – Daily Record. “The local authority have attributed the decision to the ‘explosion’ of online music in recent years. North Ayrshire Council say that recent years have proved that major changes to the way we listen to our favourite songs have taken place – from vinyl, to CD, to MP3s and now streaming online.”
  • North Lincolnshire – Residents give their views on new £1.2m library and wellbeing hub in North Lincolnshire – Scunthorpe Telegraph. “Residents got a chance to see plans for a new £1.2m library and wellbeing hub in North Lincolnshire yesterday. North Lincolnshire Council officials say a range of key services will be transformed to create a new library and wellbeing hub for Barton-Upon-Humber residents under one roof.”
  • Northamptonshire – Northamptonshire’s children’s centre services under library cuts – Northampton Chronicle. “The county council voted to cease running 21 libraries in February and has offered to hand them over to community groups. But the move also threatens universal children’s centre services for under-fives such as meetups and play and learn sessions, which are run by the council through libraries.”
  • Northamptonshire – The Libraries Minister’s Local Libraries Could Close. Residents Are Furious – And They’re Suing – Huff Post. “The government’s libraries minister could see the only two places to borrow books in his constituency close down if a “bankrupt” Tory council proceeds with plans to fill a financial black hole.” … in-depth look at the cuts and the campaign against them.
  • Northamptonshire – Revealed: ‘Bankrupt’ Tory Council Raided £9m Schools Subsidy To Fix Budget – Huff Post. “Cash from S106 obligations is often earmarked for new schools, libraries, road, as well as pavements, street furniture and playgrounds. The review states that no payments from S106 money into the revenue account were made in the three years before 2016, though the council said it first raised concerns over gaps in its budget in 2014.” … “Officials have warned adult care services risk being “unsafe” amid the financial turmoil while campaigners slam a “firesale” of council assets, including 21 libraries and its brand-new £53m central Northampton HQ.”
  • North Somerset – Three more libraries under threat of closure as council looks to make essential cuts – Bristol Live. “Three of North Somerset’s library buildings could be under threat of closure thanks to a council bid to save money. North Somerset Council is preparing to consult on plans to close library buildings in Clevedon, Long Ashton and Nailsea.” … “The proposals could see Clevedon and Nailsea libraries relocated to smaller town centre premises, or alternative shared facilities.”
  • North Somerset – Volunteers wanted for Summer Reading Challenge – Weston Mercury. “Help is needed at the For All Healthy Living Centre on Weston’s Bournville estate, The Campus in Locking Castle, and Weston, Worle, Winscombe and Yatton libraries.”
  • North Yorkshire – Authors visit as North’s library campaign celebrates ten yearsNorth Yorkshire County Council. “Read Regional is a celebration of new books from the North of England that connects authors with readers in libraries. Founded by New Writing North in 2008, the campaign is funded by Arts Council England and is now produced in partnership with North Yorkshire and 22 other library authorities.”
  • North Yorkshire – Birthday party at the library – Press. “The Pickering Library Volunteers Support Group (PLVSG) started providing the library with a regular group of volunteers who work in partnership with established council library staff on April 1, 2017. To celebrate the anniversary a celebration will be held on Monday, April 23, from 10am to noon, with refreshments, a birthday cake and entertainment from Musical Memories.”
  • North Yorkshire – Community libraries mark first anniversary – Gazette and Herald. “A year has passed since 22 libraries in North Yorkshire started to be run by volunteers, and a Pickering county councillor has said that they are adapting and surviving.” see also Volunteers celebrate success for Richmond, Colburn and Catterick libraries Northern Echo. “The Queen’s Road library now features a space for Richmond Information Centre and a larger children’s library with a buggy park as well as relaxing seating, tea and coffee-making facilities and free wi-fi access. “
  • North Yorkshire – Readers’ Letters – Craven Herald and Pioneer. Letter from volunteer library. “Most branch libraries suffer a few problems to begin with, and sometimes it takes a little time to raise the standard again. We need to remember however, that volunteers with the aid of training, experience and the support of professional staff and indeed, their library users, will in time develop a body of expertise suited to the developing circumstances in which they are working and which they in turn, will pass on to the next generation of volunteers.”
  • Northern Ireland – Library cuts set to hit ‘most vulnerable’ in Northern Ireland – Belfast Telegraph. “Universal Credit is being introduced in Northern Ireland to replace six means-tested benefits including Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit. A recent board meeting heard that an increasing number of people who are trying to get Universal Credit, are turning to libraries because they don’t have internet access at home. It also emerged that extra staff have been redeployed to libraries to ease pressure on services. The board heard those staff will only be deployed for a short period of time.” … “It can take an hour to help someone claiming Universal Credit,” councillor McGuigan added. Library staff aren’t permitted to fill in any part of the forms, they are only allowed to assist claimants who lack the computer skills to do so. ” see also ‘Library cuts to hit benefit claimants’ – BBC. “Libraries are uniquely placed to provide this kind of help but with a further cut of 4% to Libraries NI’s budget these types of programmes are coming under further strain.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Councillor defends plan to cut services in Pembroke – Western Telegraph.Councillor has defended plans to close or merge services in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock, including the library and Tourist Information Centre (TIC). In an effort to reduce costs, the county council is trying to reduce the number of buildings that it operates from.”
  • Plymouth – New plans revealed for St Budeaux library – Plymouth Herald. “The council is working in partnership with a developer to transform the half-acre site of the old library on St Budeaux Square and an application has now been submitted to city planners.
    As well as providing a light and airy library with a flexible space, the development will include 24 new homes, including four properties that are being designed to be wheelchair accessible.”
  • Somerset – Councillors vote to try to prevent Highbridge Library from closing Weston Mercury. “Campaigners from Save Highbridge Library spoke at a town council meeting to voice their concerns over the proposed closure of the building, in Market Street, by Somerset County Council.”
  • Somerset – ‘Make your voices heard’ – Mayor on Wellington library – Wellington Weekly News. “The Friends have offered to look into the possibility of acting as volunteers alongside trained library staff. “It has also been suggested that rooms in the building be let commercially to raise income and on a more positive note it has been said that more should be done to promote the library and the facilities available within it.”
  • Trafford – A new chapter for writers Messenger. “The Write Time, Write Place project is an eight-week adult long creative writing courses for beginners taking place in libraries from April to June. “
  • Warrington – Library gets busier as Friends’ group moves forward – Warrington Worldwide. “The Friends of Culcheth Library group is moving forward with plans to support the library – and Culcheth and Glazebury Parish Council is to move its office into the building, providing the library with additional income. Friends’ secretary Cllr Joan Grime said: “We plan to revitalise the library as a focus for our community, seeing a wider range of uses, increased footfall and increased income.””
  • West Dunbartonshire – Libraries offer free computer training courses – Clydebank Post. “The Quest Spring Programme will kick off on Monday, April 23, and are suitable for beginners using PCs, laptops, iPads, smart phones and android tablets. “
  • Wirral – Would you live in a former police station? Two are up for sale in Wirral – Liverpool Echo. “”Most importantly, all of the local stations are closed to the public. Local people gave me their backing to replace them with modern, fit-for-purpose community police stations in already established libraries and community centres. The sale of the old buildings will help to pay for the new ones.”
  • Wrexham – Chirk Library has something for everyone Border Counties Advertiser. “The event included fun for all ages, including face painting, a treasure hunt, make and take children’s craft, story time and much more. Chirk Library celebrity Russ the Bear even made an appearance. “
  • York – Children’s reading challenge this summer Spacehive. York Explore crowdfunds its SRC. “People backing us are invited to come to our Summer Reading Challenge launch event in July or to our Celebration event in October. You will get a chance to try some of our activities, meet the staff delivering the challenge and see what is involved for yourself.” £546 (5%) raised so far.
  • York – Libraries mark World Book Night – York Press. “In York the city’s libraries are encouraging book lovers to help share their love of reading. People are asked to give a copy of their own favourite books to Bookcase For All to pass on to a homeless or vulnerable person