That’s it, I want to work in Finland. OK, I don’t speak Finnish and can’t stand cold or dark nights but, darn it, just look at how they treat libraries over there. as important learning and education centres, with over three times more spent on libraries per head than in the UK. And that new library, the beautifully named “Ode”, looks rather nice too.

OK, deep breath, back to the UK. Well, looking on the bright side, at least most of us don’t work in Northants. The council there is asking towns and parishes to not only take over running public libraries but to pay full whack for the privilege. This includes buying the building which, in one case, the parish council gave to Northants in the first place. Unsurprisingly, some councils are complaining about this treatment and refusing to take them over. Across the border in Wales, Cardiff are implementing cuts to their libraries by co-locating services. That doesn’t sound so bad but I’ve seen what has happened to Cardiff Central where a proud and well-equipped central library has been replaced with crammed in sections between various other council services, with the added presence of suspicious security guards. Let’s hope the city approaches the other libraries differently.


National news

  • The hollowing out of children’s public library services in England from 2010-2016 – University of Strathclyde Glasgow. “the quality of library services for children has suffered over the past six years, and therefore the benefits of libraries for children will be lesser.” … “The concept of hollowing out as defined by Rhodes has been proven to be present within public library services in England. This research has demonstrated that there has been a downward trend in staff, spending and open ing hours across children’s public library services in England between 2010 and 2016.”

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

  • Finland – The borrowers: why Finland’s cities are havens for library lovers Guardian. “Helsinki’s state-of-the-art Oodi library will stand opposite parliament and boast a cinema, recording studio and makerspace. It’s a perfect fit for a literate nation taking public learning to the next level” … ” In 2016 the UN named Finland the world’s most literate nation, and Finns are among the world’s most enthusiastic users of public libraries – the country’s 5.5m million people borrow close to 68m books a year.”

“According to local authority figures from 2016, the UK spends just £14.40 per head on libraries. By contrast, Finland spends £50.50 per inhabitant. While more than 478 libraries have closed in cities and towns across England, Wales and Scotland since 2010, Helsinki is spending €98m creating an enormous new one. Not content with merely building a library, the Finns have gone public with their passion: Mind-building, the Finnish pavilion at this year’s Venice architecture biennale, is a love letter to the nation’s literary landmarks.”

“Oodi – Ode in English – is more than a sober monument to civic pride. Commissioned as part of Finland’s celebration of a century of independence, the library is no mere book repository. “I think Finland could not have given a better gift to the people. It symbolises the significance of learning and education, which have been fundamental factors for Finland’s development and success,” says Razmyar.”

  • USA – Three reasons Wikipedia needs libraries, and vice-versa – OCLC. Scale, people, vision. “This is an exciting time for librarians and Wikipedians—we have many shared challenges and opportunities. As the book shows, there are many avenues for intersections between Wikipedia and libraries. I hope the volume illuminates some of the possibilities and inspires you to follow some of the existing models we’ve outlined. Or better yet, may you choose to adopt the Wikipedia motto—and be bold in exploring your own path”

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – The Post Office is now open for business following a move to its new home in the library – Ilkley Gazette. “A NEW Visitor Information Centre has opened in Ilkley Library after its move from Ilkley Town Hall next door. The new centre is supported by Ilkley Parish Council, which is funding two part time posts at the centre.”
  • Cardiff – Fears that jobs could be lost at Cardiff libraries following money saving overhaul – Wales Online. “The new hubs would be set up in community branch libraries, where staff would be asked to provide a new range of services. It would mean that, apart from the Cathays Heritage Centre, there won’t be another stand-alone library in the capital. But bosses at Cardiff council have told a committee hearing they expect job losses under the plans – which are expected to save £200,000.”. Unison says ” “Library workers are in shock and fear for their jobs. The lack of information is causing real anxiety.”
  • Derbyshire – Have your say over three South Derbyshire libraries which face being taken over by community groups – Burton Mail. “The 12-week consultation is now up and running and people can give their views via the online questionnaire at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/librariesforderbyshire. The Conservative-run county council is set to launch a consultation into the future of its 45 libraries – including Woodville, Melbourne and Etwall.”
  • Essex – Library rhyme times and maternal mental health – action research – Shared Intelligence.This project aimed to test, through a year-long action-research project with Essex Libraries, funded by Arts Council England, whether library-based rhyme times could be a large-scale platform for supporting maternal mental health.  In the UK one in five women, during pregnancy or in the first year after the birth of their child, experience maternal or perinatal mental illness.  It has also been shown that first-time mothers are less likely to seek help than ‘multi-mums’.” Includes very useful practical suggestions for improving rhymetimes.
  • North Lincolnshire – Take a tour around Scunthorpe Central Library following a £1m transformation Scunthorpe Telegraph. “The town centre library will open its doors to the public on Monday (May 14) at 9am after undergoing a £1m transformation.” Includes CAB, wheeled shelves, meeting rooms. “
  • Northamptonshire – Council says no to buying Higham Ferrers library building – Northants Telegraph. “The future of Higham Ferrers Library is in the balance after town councillors voted against buying the town’s library building at an extraordinary meeting. The library was earmarked for closure after cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council said they could no longer afford to maintain many smaller libraries across the county. The town council held their emergency meeting to decide whether they would purchase the building, the former parish rooms in Midland Road, for £367,500 or lease it for £33,000pa.”
  • Northamptonshire – Crumbling Britain: one town’s revolt against a bankrupt council to save its local library – New Statesman. A detailed look at the impact of closing Desborough Library. “From a child at the High Court to pensioners planning a sit-in, Desborough residents are challenging Northamptonshire’s closure of 21 libraries.” … ” amid the fish finger sandwiches and mugs of milky tea rumbled a quiet revolution. Almost everyone I met there was in exile. It was a Wednesday, and Desborough Library at the end of the road is closed on Wednesdays. Having once been open six days a week, it’s now also closed on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays.”

“Without that community, people will only care about themselves. They’ll become their own units rather than empathising with people. The elderly would become more reclusive. Teenagers would be on the streets.”

  • Northamptonshire – Row over ‘sale’ of Irchester library – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Northamptonshire County Council is attempting to sell back to a parish council a 100-year-old Carnegie library that it acquired from it without payment more than 50 years ago. Irchester residents are up in arms about the county authority’s insistence that Irchester parish council pays £195,000 for the library in High Street. The parish council has now involved Secretary of State in charge of libraries Matt Hancock in the matter and is calling on the county authority to give back the library without charge. It says it does not have the funds spare and will have to take a public works loan to buy back the library.”
  • Somerset – Wiveliscombe Library users empty shelves in protest stunt – Somerset County Gazette. “A BOOK was taken out every four seconds at Wiveliscombe Library on Friday in an organised protest. Locals turned out in force to take out as many tomes as they could in 90 minutes as part of attempts to fend off closure threats. And as soon as they had finished clearing several shelves, they returned to hand the books back in. Young and old readers took part in the ‘hands off our library’ initiative. Pauline Homeshaw, who was among the protesters, said: “Around 1,500 books were taken out in a period of an hour and a half.”
  • Suffolk – Thurston Community College student scoops Book Mastermind title – EADT. “Krystal Vittles, Suffolk Libraries development manager and children and young people’s lead, said: “Book Mastermind is celebration of books and reading and once again all the students and schools who took part have done themselves proud. “
  • Wakefield – Changes in library opening times in cash saving move – Wakefield Express. “The council needs to reduce the opening hours at some of the district’s libraries to contribute to £300,000 of savings identified for libraries in this year’s budget. Following the consultation hours at some libraries, including some late night openings, will be reduced as residents have previously said they’d prefer this to the alternative of permanently closing some libraries”
  • Warrington – Burtonwood Library and Burtonwood Post Office unite under one roof – Warrington Guardian. “The Post Office is now open for business following a move to its new home in the library. “