Congratulations to LIz Jolly who becomes the chief librarian at the British Library shortly. I don’t often mention the BL, which to some extent is a worrying sign, either for me for missing it or for the BL for not doing enough. Having said that, the BL has definitely upped its game with public libraries noticeably over the last few years. Once upon a time only known in public library circles for its harsh and bossy attitude when it came to inter-lending books, the national library is now branching out into business outlets in various libraries and has recently put its toe in the water with screenings of readings in a a limited number of libraries. It’s unclear why they’re limited – the joy of digital technology is that the same thing is freely replicable an infinite number of times – but it’s better than the nothing we had before and hopefully one day they’ll cease the artificial limit, which is on offer to only a few chosen (it’s not clear how) library services. The recent Harry Potter tour is also to be welcomed as is an increasing involvement in discussions on public libraries at national level. However, to too many of us, the British Library remains a distant establishment. It’s still more a London Library With Good Intentions than something which, hand on heart, feels national to those of us in the majority who do not live in the capital. I hope Liz, who I have respect for, and others there continue and expand on the good work begun. And, perhaps, the days of prohibitive high late charges and bossy inter-lending notes will be forgotten, as will the attitude that we (mistakenly or not) assumed came with it.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • For Libraries and Community Hubs | Orwell’s Down and Out: Live – Orwell Foundation. “Primarily, libraries, bookshops, and community hubs can organise screenings. The performance will be live-streamed online. So, with the help of a computer, internet connection, and a screen or projector, members of the public can get involved in this nationwide event. On the day, it’s as easy as setting up a computer, a projector and some speakers, and clicking the link to get the live-stream started.”
  • Hay Festival and the British Library announce free streaming day for Living Knowledge Network British Library. “On Saturday 26 May, from 10am to 5pm, eight library authorities in the British Library’s Living Knowledge Network (Poole, Glasgow, Leeds, Huddersfield, Norwich, Exeter, Sheffield and Wakefield) plus the British Library itself, will offer live streams of Hay Festival sessions for adults and children, including conversations with David Walliams, Cressida Cowell, Laura Bates and Owen Sheers, Melvyn Bragg, Tessa Dunlop, Melvyn Bragg, Andy Stanton, David Almond, Eoin Colfer, Bettanty Hughes and the International Man Booker Prize winner.” .
  • In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything – New York Times. “The old library building has been sold and refashioned into a glass-fronted luxury home. ” … “At public libraries, volunteers now outnumber paid staff. ” … ” Spending on road maintenance has shrunk more than one-fourth, while support for libraries has fallen nearly a third.” … ““It’s clearly an attack on our class,” says Dave Kelly, a retired bricklayer in the town of Kirkby, on the outskirts of Liverpool, where many factories sit empty, broken monuments to another age. “It’s an attack on who we are. The whole fabric of society is breaking down.””
  • Jolly to succeed Brazier as BL’s chief librarian – BookSeller. “Jolly was director of Library and Information Services at Teesside University from 2008 to 2017, and previously had roles at the University of Salford, the University of East London and at London South Bank University. She is also a principal fellow of the Higher Education Academy, as well as a fellow of both CILIP and the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), plus current chair of the Northern Collaboration, a group of 27 higher education libraries in the North of England.”
  • LibraryCamp Camp – “Anyone vaguely associated with libraries is welcome to come, along with friends and family, though unfortunately not pets (the site does not allow dogs).” 8th/9th September Rugeley.
  • No Room on the Broom – BookSeller. “It makes me sad, and I worry when I think of a post-Brexit future for the UK families, especially the children, who are growing up with our books. What went wrong? What did they miss, the parents and grandparents who were reading Room on the Broom with its message of the importance of solidarity, partnership, friendship and kindness? The book wasn’t called No Room on the Broom. So beware, Brexit Britain – if you have no friends in a hostile environment – the dragons may come and get you”
  • Retailers ready for Man Booker ‘Golden Five’ – BookSeller. Speech by Axel Scheffler. “As part of the year-long campaign, the prize has produced a range of point-of-sale material for bookshops and libraries across the UK, including bookmarks, shortlist and winner stickers, “shelf talkers” for shortlisted titles, A3 and A4 posters, gift tags and bunting. Working with The Reading Agency, more than 300 public libraries, as well as some school, college and NHS libraries, have signed up to receive a p.o.s. pack.”
  • Shout it out in the library, culture’s on the scrapheap – Conservative Woman. “It’s a mistake to think that libraries are closing everywhere. Forty new ones opened in 2012. Like public inquiries and further education, they keep the name but are a totally new brand, almost nothing to do with readers exploring the canon of European knowledge.” … “‘As I build it I think of the little boy from India and Pakistan walking on the streets of Birmingham,’ said Houben, ‘saying to his father, I want to go in there.’ He probably can’t read well in English but that doesn’t matter as our culture will change to accommodate him with sparkly buildings where he can game and stream. It’s not his fault that it’s becoming increasingly unrecognisable to those of us who once studied our cherished books in silence.”
  • Speaking out of the silence – TLS. “The TLS asked a selection of this year’s Hay Festival speakers to share significant memories and thoughts relating to libraries, private and public. Together, these offer a composite portrait of what libraries have been, are and might yet become . . .”. Laura Bates: “our libraries are struggling desperately and aren’t given the support and funding they need to survive, let alone thrive. Beyond literacy, the social magic that happens in libraries – from support for new parents, to company and community for elderly people – is one of the most important aspects of our society. Why do libraries matter? How long have you got?”

“I  learnt to read in our local library. We went once a week. The two resident homeless gentlemen, beards oiled and combed, turned the pages of each newspaper with meticulous timing. Three broadsheets equalled opening hours. I remember the sharp, proud smell of them. I remember the stories in their greatcoats. Although as it turns out, learning to read books wasn’t the full lesson, here. I was, it seems, performing the pages; joining the flat world to the world of feeling around me. The library was where I learnt to watch and to think and care. Libraries are knowledge as collective experience.” Bettany Hughes.

An online bookclub from Axiell
International news

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Anger over new Barnet mayor’s record – Times series. “his appointment to the role of mayor has been criticised over his handling of cuts to services made while he was responsible for the borough’s schools and libraries. While Cllr Thompstone was chair of the children, education and safeguarding committee in 2017, the borough’s children’s services were rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted.” … “There are 200 children a year going to the school next door, but unless they are with an adult registered with a PIN they can’t use the library. “
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Post Office set to reopen in Saltford later this year with new community library – Bath Echo. “Post Office will reopen again in Saltford later this year, in the current library building as part of a new community venture to keep both facilities open.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Bucks mobile library service to be scrapped next week – Bucks Free Press. “The county’s mobile library service is set to be scrapped next week, as the council attempts to cope with increasingly stretched budgets. The number of people who use the library vans has plummeted, according to Bucks County Council, with 13,227 fewer residents opting to use the service over the last three years. Hundreds of people took part in a consultation on the future of mobile libraries last year, and now book-worms will see the service run its final round on Thursday, May 31.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Winsford Library hosts fun activities for Bookstart Week to encourage children to read more – Winsford Guardian. “n a first for Cheshire West and Chester libraries, there will also be ‘toy sleepovers’ at several branches, including Wharton, Winsford and Sandiway Library. Children are invited to bring in a teddy bear or other cuddly toy which will stay overnight at the library. The staff will stage photographs of the toy reading with one another and getting up to various activities throughout the night.”
  • Cumbria – Millom Library to remain ‘categorically’ open despite closure fears – NW Mail. “An email was sent to staff at the library, on St George’s Terrace, last week to reiterate Cumbria County Council had no plans to close the facility. Cllr Deborah Earl, cabinet member for communities, said: “There are no plans to close Millom Library. It continues to be a well-used and well-run facility and one that is important to the local community”
  • Derbyshire – Former libraries chief feels council is ‘making wrong decision’ over cuts – Derbyshire Live. “A former Derbyshire County Council boss has hit out at the authority over its plans to hand 20 libraries over to volunteers. Jaci Brumwell had responsibility for libraries when she was director of cultural and community services at County Hall. She stepped down from her role in 2011 after getting “fed up of the cuts”. Seven years on, Ms Brumwell has criticised her former employer’s current stance on libraries.” … “The Conservative-led council has launched a public consultation into plans which would see 20 out of its 45 libraries handed over to volunteers. “
  • Devon – New scheme gives Exeter’s young people the chance to turn into tech ninjas – Exeter Daily. “The Raspberry Pi Foundation, has partnered with Devon-based charity Libraries Unlimited to bring nine brand new CoderDojos to libraries across Devon and Torbay in the first phase of the project. Sessions will be held in libraries in Exeter, Bideford, Braunton, Crediton, Ottery St Mary, South Molton, Teignmouth, Paignton and Totnes. CoderDojos are free, vibrant, local clubs, powered by volunteers from the local community”
  • East Lothian – Petition launched over cuts to library hours – East Lothian Courier. “The council said it was introducing revised hours at a number of libraries after it looked into how the branches were being used and how it could “direct resources to meet areas of high demand”
  • East Sussex – Community’s hope for the future of Langney library – Eastbourne Herald. “Under the leadership of Langney’s county councillor, Alan Shuttleworth, the group is hoping to start a community library based on a similar model to the Old Town Community Library. Councillor Shuttleworth said, “We have a great team of volunteers who are really enthusiastic about this project and totally committed to building a community library and hub in the heart of Langney, run by the community for the community. “
  • Gloucestershire – Camilla shows off Lego building skills during visit to community library – BT.com. “The Duchess of Cornwall laid a Lego brick foundation when she officially opened a new children’s library. Camilla visited the Bream Community Library where the children showed her their Lego, including a completed model of Buckingham Palace. During the visit to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, the duchess started a new Lego project, a replica of the community library.” … “The community library is completely run by volunteers with the support of Gloucestershire library services.” … “The new children’s library was funded through a £5,000 prize awarded by the David Vaisey Trust for its work on creating the Lego Club which uses the popular toy to encourage children to read.”
  • Hampshire – Facelift is new chapter in future of town library – Southern Daily Echo. “£362,000 facelift, a Hampshire Library is set to reopen signalling a “vibrant new chapter” for the local community. A new modern look and feel is promised for Totton Library, which locals said had been forgotten about by Hampshire County Council. But after leader Roy Perry promised a major refurbishment of the council-owned building earlier this year, the library is now set to reopen on June 11, following more than three months of work. As part of the work, self-service kiosks and two meeting rooms have been added, with the additional availability of e-books and e-magazines.”
  • Herefordshire – Library and museum privatisation plan causes concern – Ledbury Reporter. “union representatives feel this could lead to job losses, a ‘woefully undermanned’ service, or even the closure of services. Mr Stevens said: “What concerns Unison is that the decision to outsource is based on a number of flawed reasons; for example, expectations of the level of revenue that the services will raise through sales. “These services do not have the capacity at this time to be solely self-funding.”
  • Newcastle – Gym and cafe plan for Newcastle library to stave off closure threat – Chronicle Live. “A gym and cafe is set to open in a listed library in a Newcastle suburb in a desperate bid to save it from closure, planning documents have revealed. Fenham Library has provided book lending services as well as lifeline to the local community ever since opening on Fenham Hall Drive 80 years ago.” … “Government cuts almost led to its closure five years ago until social landlord Your Homes Newcastle entered into a partnership to sustain its future, taking up space within the Grade II listed building to offer housing services for its tenants. Planning documents, however, reveal Your Homes Newcastle staff will soon leave the building, making the library vulnerable to closure.”
  • Northamptonshire – Grand-daughter of Rushden-born author H E Bates calls for assurances over county libraries – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Victoria said they are concerned for the archive of material relating to H E Bates held at Rushden Library. The letter continues: “I am informed that the collection of material relating to H. E. in the library at Rushden is no longer intact”
  • Northamptonshire – Groups given more time in battle to save Northamptonshire libraries – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Dedicated volunteers, ‘friends of’ groups and parish councils will now have until midday on June 25 to set out their business cases to take over their local libraries.”
  • Northamptonshire – Kettering Council urged to buy Desborough and Rothwell libraries – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Kettering’s Labour opposition say they want a council debate about the issue and for the authority to decide whether buying the two buildings could be a viable option. Northamptonshire County Council is proposing to close both libraries, along with 19 others in the county. Community and voluntary groups from across the county are currently putting together business plans to take over the libraries.” … “It is understood that NCC is asking for £360,000 for the freehold of Desborough library in High Street and £460,000 for the library in Market Hill, Rothwell.”
  • North Yorkshire – Double lung transplant survivor praises healing properties of library volunteering – Northern Echo. “Mrs Agar – who was unable to see well enough to read just last August – joined the Globe library in Stokesley as a volunteer in November and has helped celebrate the venue passing its first anniversary of being community-led. “
  • Redbridge – Robots coming to Ilford thanks to £15K grant – Ilford Recorder. “Maria is one of six entrants selected across the UK, and the £15,000 prize bestowed by Carnegie UK Trust will educate children on making and programming robots using recycled electronics and materials. “
  • Staffordshire – UK first for Staffordshire library – Staffordshire Newsroom. “The Rotary Club of Rugeley is now running Staffordshire County Council’s library in Brereton.” … “The arrangement sees the management and day-to-day running of the library taken over by the community group, which has access to the library service’s stock and IT network, while the authority remains responsible for agreed utility and maintenance costs.”
  • Swindon – Swindon libraries celebrate children’s favourite Elmer – Swindon Advertiser. “These days will be celebrated with story times where little ones are invited to join in by dressing in their brightest colours, crafting and colouring activities and a rock party where children will be encouraged to decorate a rock and drop it in areas of Swindon”
  • Trafford – Timperley Library proposals return to planners – Place North West. “An updated planning application for the redevelopment of Timperley Library has been submitted to Trafford Council, which will see the existing library replaced by apartments alongside a healthcare and community centre.” … “Citybranch is also currently on site at a £20m overhaul of the former Altrincham General Hospital site. Contractor Bowmer & Kirkland is building a new medical and wellbeing centre, which will include GP practices, a pharmacy and café, as well as a new library for Trafford Council.”
  • Warrington – Fresh hope for Bewsey and Dallam Hub – despite £1m shortfall to deliver it Warrington Guardian. “The hub – proposed to include a fitness suite, library, pool and healthcare services – was originally given a planned opening date of summer 2017. At the Town Hall on Tuesday, the executive board approved the development and scope of the scheme once again.”
  • West Lothian – Delight for campaigners as libraries saved from closure – Daily Record. “Campaigners have spoken of their delight after West Lothian Council voted to retain three libraries earmarked for closure. The council had proposed plans to merge libraries at Almondbank and Lanthorn into a central location in Livingston to help save money in the budget.”
  • Wiltshire – Opinion: Library manager Philip Tomes is moving out of his comfort zone to bring the library bang up to date Salisbury Journal. “I will be intrigued to see how these Micro:bits work when we have a coding session at the library on Saturday, May 26 between 3-4 pm. ” and apps.
  • York – This is how much it will cost to repair York’s libraries – York Press. “libraries need £3 million worth of repairs in the next 20 years, and action is needed to make sure the council doesn’t face a “significant financial liability”. Surveys of library users have revealed  people have “mixed feelings” about the current state of the facilities, and councillors have heard  millions of pounds worth of repairs are needed.”