Dawn Finch has written an excellent article on public libraries that deserves an attentive read. One of the things in it is what shouldn’t be a library, such as those telephone or big bird-box book exchanges you see around the place. I love the word “library” and part of me thinks that if other people are appropriating it then it shows what a strong brand it is. After all, people use it not just for these Little Free LIbraries but also for software/code “libraries” and children’s collections like “My First Library”. People know, and like, what it means. That’s why I can never understand when people want to change the name of a library to something else. “Community Hub” or “Learning Resource Centre” doesn’t do it to me, nor for others, as Tasmania recently found out. People have a clear idea of what a library means. And it has less syllables than the alternatives.

I’m tempted to go off on one now about how volunteer libraries “community libraries” is a debasement of the term, much like inflation leads to a lower of the cost and quality of metal in coins but I don’t want to insult volunteers, who are doing unpaid work with the best of intentions. However, I would say that almost everyone agrees that council-run public libraries are the ideal. So, ideally, I’d like the word “public library” to keep meaning what it used to mean.  But there’s no appellation d’origin controlee for the word “library”. Or volunteer-run “community libraries” would have needed to have been called something else. Like “hubs” perhaps.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Crowdfunding and public libraries: the record so far – Public Libraries News. This new page will track crowdfunders for public libraries as they are noted. Currently, 3 examples.
  • English councils warn ‘worst is yet to come’ on cuts – Guardian. “Only an emergency injection of funds next year to counter a growing financial “black hole” would head off severe cuts to services and potential unrest among MPs, the County Councils Network said. It said councils faced having to make “truly unpalatable” cuts to key services such as social care, refuse disposal, libraries, Sure Start centres and roads maintenance while putting up council tax bills and introducing new charges.”
  • An investigation of the public library as a safe space, and the extent to which this reflects the idea of the library as a sanctuary – Google Docs. “This questionnaire aims to find out the perceptions of public library staff on the library service being a safe space and sanctuary for their users. These users could be adults, children, refugees and other groups in the community. I am looking to find out information about services and projects taking place in the library that support a safe space and sanctuary and finally to understand the effectiveness of such initiatives.” University of Sheffield research for master’s dissertation.
  • Libraries Connected: First Impressions – Libraries Connected / Isobel Hunter. “now I’ve been in post for two months, it seems like the perfect time to ask myself about my first impressions! Here are five key things that have struck me about libraries and the job ahead for Libraries Connected” – good will, support from partners, busy, unprecedented pace and scale of change, LC needs to be an “assured advocate”, it’s complicated. [Worth a read – Ed.]
  • Libraries for Privacy toolkit – Scottish PEN. “Scottish PEN’s new toolkit will support library staff, volunteers and users to protect digital security and privacy. “
  • Public Libraries, the Home Office, UKSCL (now Libraries Connected), visas, CILIP and Me – Teen Librarian. “Mr Khan was a trustee of SCL (and is still a trustee for Libraries Connected) and their Digital Offer lead – how was it that the President could have been involved with an organisation and not informed CILIP as to what they were planning with regard to the Home Office and the digital service contract? Is this not in contravention of one of the requirements of the presidency?”
  • Teenagers locked out of libraries as cash-strapped councils cut staff – Times. “Teenagers are being denied access to libraries across the country as a growing number of councils replace their librarians with an automated system that locks young people out of unstaffed buildings.”
  • What is a library? by Dawn Finch – Medley of Extemporanea. “At its most basic level, a library is a curated collection of books and other materials. Of course this does not fit when we add the word “public” to “library.” This is where things need a bit more explanation.” … “I find that many articles about public libraries fail to mention or understand the key elements that make public libraries great, and so here is an article to help anyone writing about them, and a few suggestions of what not to say.”

Axiell Selflib
International news

  • Global – The Roadmap to Advocacy — Uncovering Your Library’s Support System – Ebsco. “EveryLibrary Political Director Patrick Sweeney provides tips to identify and engage with your library’s supporters, and explains why library advocacy is so important to the future.”
  • Global – What country has the Most Public Libraries in the World? – Maps of World. “Public libraries are an indispensable part of the society and can be found in almost every country in the world. As these institutions are open to all and comprise a rich collection of books and journals, they play a vital role in the advancement of knowledge. Apart from providing areas for students and professionals to study and work, public libraries also undertake valuable activities such as organizing book clubs which go a long way in increasing people’s interest in literature and providing educational programs.” [But ignore the rest of the article – it ludicrously claims the UK has less than 1000 public libraries so the data contained is suspect – Ed.]
  • Hong Kong – In Hong Kong, libraries are pulling children’s books with LGBTQ themes off their shelves – Washington Post. “Children’s books with LGBTQ themes and titles such as “Daddy, Papa and Me” and “The Boy in the Dress” have begun to disappear from the shelves of public libraries. Last week, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department confirmed that it had moved the LGBTQ content out of public view, so that it could be read only under parental supervision, according to the Standard, an English-language newspaper based in Hong Kong. Up to 10 titles have been removed.”
  • New Zealand – Should NZ libraries be open later and not charge overdue fines? – Radio New Zealand. Compares NZ with Eire “Although we’re a similar-sized country, we don’t have the same challenges, says Paula Eskett, the incoming president of LIANZA (the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa). But she thinks abolishing all fines is a fine idea. “It’s a really Dickensian model of punishing people for wanting to keep something for longer.” … “While the extended library hours are “amazing” for Ireland, we don’t need to take such measures in New Zealand at this stage, she says. The Irish plan is a response to five years of economic downturn and underfunding of libraries – and far fewer visitor numbers than we get.” [Complacency did not help UK libraries in 2010, Lianza – Ed.]
  • USA – An Oregon county closed all its public libraries. These rural, DIY book lovers revived them – Oregon Live. County closes its libraries but “one by one, library lovers from here to Reedsport have fought, wrangled and inspired to launch a grass-roots effort to help re-open the doors. Small but growing armies of volunteers have worked to rebuild collection catalogs, staff reference desks and run summer reading programs for kids”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – North-east library closes temporarily to allow for refurbishment worth almost £35k Aberdeen Journals. “Inverurie Library will remain closed until July 9 to allow for the refurbishment works which include the installation of a series of sensory developments and a tourist information area along with new furniture and fittings. A ‘bubble wall’ will be installed at the issue desk along with a softly lit table, hoped to help children improve their sight, touch and movement skills.”
  • Bexley – Sidcup cinema and library take big steps forward – News Shopper. “An regeneration scheme for a new library and cinema in Sidcup High Street has taken big steps forward, but campaigners still describe the scheme as “underhand”. Controversial plans to downsize Sidcup Library to a modern facility that would also be home to a cinema were met with a petition backed by more than 700 signatures at a meeting on Tuesday night (June 26)”
  • Bristol – Concerns over the long-term future of Bristol’s libraries – Bristol Live. “Concerns are being raised over the long term future of Bristol’s libraries as the service has been given a two year reprieve. Cross party opposition councillors are calling for clarity over the state of the service and what it may look like for future generations.”
  • Cumbria – ‘Use it or lose it’ – councillors warning over future of Millom Library building – NW Evening Mail. “At a meeting of Millom Town Council, councillors urged the group to relocate back to their offices in the Millom Library building.”
  • Darlington – Darlington’s Crown Street Library relisted as asset of community value – Northern Echo. “Campaigners battling to save Crown Street Library from impending closure said they were relieved to see its importance recognised with the reinstatement of the asset status. ” … “It meant that the group were granted the right to bid for the property should it ever be offered for sale.”
  • Darlington – Friends of Red Hall open community library in Darlington – Northern Echo. “The Friends of Red Hall created the unofficial Tiny Little Library, to encourage reading and ensure people have access to books who are unable to get to the town centre. The group was established in March last year to support and empower Red Hall’s residents. It has grown to 12 core members and is working on several ventures including a community garden.” … “Books have been donated to the library from residents and members, the group allows card holders to take up to three books at a time for two weeks before they can take out another selection of books”
  • Derby – Join us on a sneak preview of the new Riverside Library in DerbyDerbyshire Live. “A new chapter in the history of Derby’s public libraries will take place tomorrow with the opening of the Riverside Library in Derby Council House.” … “Anyone visiting the Council House will immediately spot the smart new entrance to the library, which although much smaller than the old library, has much more modern lighting, computers, self-service machines and furnishings.”
  • Devon – Art and Culture ‘Made in the Library’ – Libraries Taskforce. “Following on from the success of our ACE Libraries Opportunities for Everyone Innovation Fund project called Unlimited Potential, the aim of our NPO programme is to find an artistic approach that celebrates the uniqueness of libraries as a cultural space. We want to ensure that libraries remain a vital asset to communities and stay current without losing our core purposes, to promote and encourage a love of reading and supporting people to explore and connect to the wider world” … “We hope to use facilities such as our FabLabs, Business and Intellectual Property Centres and our special collections to create new and inspired artwork and displays within libraries that embrace different generations, cultures and community needs. “
  • Devon – Topsham’s new community hub set to open – Exmouth Journal. “The two-storey building, in Nelson Close, is the culmination of years of consultation with businesses and residents, negotiations with Devon County Council over the transfer of Topsham Library and various fundraising events.” … “Among the services provided at the hub from Monday will be a new club for stroke survivors, a laundry and sewing service, care assisted bathing, a lunch club, Topsham Library services, IT training, a friendship group and defibrillator training sessions.”
  • Dundee – Talking ‘Bout Teddies – sharing the science of comfort in Dundee – SLIC. “About a year ago Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, a Developmental Psychologist, approached Leisure and Culture Libraries, asking whether we would consider working as partners on a new funding opportunity through Carnegie UK and the Wellcome Trust. We knew her by reputation, had heard her speak, and were aware of how enthusiastic, knowledgeable and passionate she is about early years, so we met for a chat. The initiative is called E8ngaging Libraries, and it is intended to support libraries to engage local people in imaginative and interactive projects exploring health and wellbeing. We shared lots of ideas – too many in fact – but eventually after lots of coffee, tea and scones, our project had a shape and also a name – Talking ‘Bout Teddies. We just needed Carnegie and Wellcome to buy into the idea of celebrating the importance of teddy bears. It was a bit ‘out there’ but we were adamant it was a project worth doing. Much to our delight, we were awarded the money, and the hard work and planning began in earnest.”
  • East Sussex – Volunteers Network committed to getting Pevensey Bay Library open – Eastbourne Herald. “The future is looking bright for Pevensey Bay Library with the Eastbourne Volunteers Network chosen to run it. Helen Burton, from the Network, said: “We aim to protect this valuable community asset and also add community hub services to the site, which we think will be transformational for the Parish. “
  • North Ayrshire – Closure of libraries ‘is to be considered’ – Largs and Millport. “MSP Jamie Greene voiced fears about potential closures in North Ayrshire.  Mr Greene, a list Conservative MSP for the west of Scotland, revealed that closure of some libraries was being considered in order to make savings.  But SNP councillor Alan Hill, who sits on the council working group responsible for libraries, today blamed ‘Tory Government austerity’ behind the budget problems, and said the council will do its ‘level best’ to continue the service.” … “He received a response highlighting that that savings of £177,291 in 2018-19 had been agreed as part of the council’s review of school and public library services – while a further £372,919 is being considered for 2019-20.  In total the planned savings amount to £550,210 while a further £532,469 reduction is being considered for community centre support funding.”
  • North Yorkshire – E-book boom for libraries Keighley News. “Last year, the county’s libraries service issued more than 104,000 electronic books and e-audio books. When the scheme was introduced in 2010, just 4,000 issues were recorded in the first year. The service is now attracting over 200 new users every month. There are nearly 20,000 titles to choose from, covering fiction, non-fiction and children’s books.”
  • Northamptonshire – Library campaigners plead with Northamptonshire County Council to let group pay £1 peppercorn library rentNorthampton Chronicle. “NCC has asked for £35,000 annual rent from an independent group to run the Far Cotton library. The authority pays just £1 a year to rent the library from Northampton Borough Council.” [So Northamptonshire wants volunteers to pay 35,000 times more to sub-lease the library than they pay it to lease it – Ed.]. “Despite the Friends of Far Cotton Library making two notes of interest to Northamptonshire County Council, before March, the group said they couldn’t come up with a comprehensive business plan before the final deadline due to the extortionate running cost to rent the library facilities.”
  • Northamptonshire – Mum’s worries over Northamptonshire library closures – BBC. One minute video. “new mother Rachael Ball says she worries for other parents over plans to close 21 libraries in Northamptonshire.
  • St Helens – Artwork by Turner Prize nominee artist unveiled at two borough libraries – St Helens Star. “artwork by Turner Prize nominee artist Mark Titchner, giving a voice to refugees, is on display at two borough libraries until Monday. The artwork, at Eccleston and Haydock libraries was unveiled last week for Refugee Week and World Refugee Day and features thought-provoking text messages taken directly from the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers living in the UK.”
  • St Helens – Music, arts and performance in St Helens libraries – Libraries Taskforce. “The funding enables us to plan longer term, to continue to build audiences and to make our offer as accessible to as many people as possible. Our target audiences for our performance programme over the four years will be young people, families, disability arts and LGBT audiences, and existing theatre goers through a more mainstream offer.”
  • West Berkshire – New lease could see Wash Common Library open – Newbury Today. “The building has been closed since April 2017 after West Berkshire Council said it could no longer afford to run it. The closure was one of several measures taken by the local authority to save around £580,000 a year within the library service. However, there is now a glimmer of hope for the future. Newbury Town Council is considering an offer from the district council to lease the building for a nominal rent for five years. Following the closure of the library, a community group known as The Friends of Wash Common Library was formed, with the aim of restoring the service.”