Libraries Unlimited, although not untouched by controversy, is having a rather food year. It has taken over neighbouring library service Torbay, claims 60,000 new members and is now being held up as a model for others to follow. Other news includes the now normal smattering of staff cuts, new volunteer libraries, reviews, co-locations and, more thankfully, a multi-million pound repair jobs. Also increasingly normal now are reports of library services removing fines. There is now stronger evidence than ever before that removal of fines does not affect returns and can increase use. I expect to see more library services, who can afford it (or who can persuade their councillors it makes excellent public relations) going down this route. Finally, on a sad note, there’s been news that long-time library campaigner Alan Gibbons has lost a son in a road accident. See the fundraising page below and do read the poem, even thought it may have you in tears afterward.

Changes by authority


National news

  • Joe “Gibbo” Fellow Scaffolder Fund – Go Fund Me. The son of longtime library campaigner and author Alan Gibbons tragically died last week in a road accident. This is a charity fundraiser in his name. See the beautiful poem Poem for my son, Joe, 1984-2018. by Alan Gibbons for one of the most affecting things you’ll read this year.
  • The latest trend in libraries: eliminating fines – Interview with Beth Crist and Meg DePriest – Princh. “Researchers surveyed North Carolina libraries and found no significant difference in return rates between libraries that charge late fines and those that did not. ” … “Libraries that have ditched late fines supply us with even more compelling data; their circulation has increased.  Salt Lake City Library (UT) saw check-outs increase over 10%, and their number of borrowers also increased over 10%. “
  • New Radicals 2018 – Nesta. List of 50 include Libraries Unlimited. “A new model of sustaining vibrant, modern libraries, Libraries Unlimited is reinvigorating community life in Devon” … “Having won a competitive bid to deliver Torbay libraries, Libraries Unlimited is already redefining the library for the 21st century.”
  • Patterson donates £50,000 to UK school libraries – BookSeller. “Scholastic will make £25,000 available to schools and teachers in the autumn term and another £25,000 in the spring term as part of Patterson’s Big Book Giveaway. One hundred schools will receive £250 each per term and Scholastic will top up each donation with a 25% off ‘reward’ to increase the number of books that schools are able to buy.”
  • Slippers, Teddies and Death Cafés – libraries and public engagement – Libraries Taskforce. “The Final Party is using the library as a space which can remove fear, embarrassment and other barriers to talking about and planning for death” … “Release the Pressure aims to create a sanctuary space for anyone living or working in ‘the Square Mile’ to support their mental wellbeing.” … “This project in Dundee is working with Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, a Developmental Psychologist, to highlight teddy bears’ importance for children’s emotional well-being and their contribution to children’s resilience.” … “Slipper Talk in Torfaen is built on the concept of a slipper swap to begin conversations about ageing and to hold intergenerational events to foster respect between citizens. “
  • Why are the UK’s public libraries declining? – University of Cambridge. “Joan O’Bryan, MPP student, writes on her placement at the Libraries Taskforce at DCMS. Looking at the data on library statistics, she explored the truth of decline in attendance, and why the correlation between lapsed visits and expenditure may be more complicated than first thought.” … “Overall, expenditure seemed highly correlated with performance. Across library services in England, when expenditure decreased, so did visits and issues.” … “declining expenditure is not the most important variable in explaining declining library use. Some library services are able to outperform their budget cuts. However, it doesn’t mean that expenditure isn’t important.”

Axiell Selflib
International news

Local news by authority

  • Bath and NE Somerset – Bishop Sutton Community Library to open in October – Chew Valley Gazette. “Housed in the Methodist Church [BS39 5UU] the community library is the first of its kind in the Chew Valley, and comes after Bath & North East Somerset Council announced in October 2017 that they would be devolving some library services to local communities”
  • Cambridgeshire – Wisbech councillor who believes libraries are outdated ‘and the preserve of the elderly liberal classes’ – Wisbech Standard. “Cllr King’s colleagues disagreed. Cllrs Noel Kavanagh and Mark Howell spoke up in favour of library services, saying libraries are full of children and “mischief makers” and are vibrant, thriving places at the “centre of communities”.” Big decrease in computer usage since charges introduced but “A motion put by Cllr Dupre to remove the charges was voted down. The plans however will be brought back to the committee in six months’ time when more data on the effects of the charges can be available.”
  • Darlington – Move to retain Darlington’s Crown Street library endorsed by council leaders Northern Echo. “Campaigners, who fought Darlington Borough Council at the High Court over its proposal to move the library from Crown Street to the Dolphin Centre, clapped and said they were “absolutely delighted” as the authority’s cabinet endorsed a U-turn over the scheme. ” see also Darlington library move debacle an inexcusable and expensive mess – Northern Echo / Letters.
  • Fife – Fife library closure fears allayed but opening hours could change – Courier. “Fife Cultural Trust has moved to allay fears of further closures after it emerged it was undertaking a review of opening hours at its 29 libraries across the region. It means some facilities could see their hours cut from next April while others are increased, although final details will not be made public until after Christmas.”
  • Haringey – Haringey Library to get £3m makeover – Enfield Independent. “Hornsey library, a grade II-listed building in Crouch End, will get an extra £2.3 million to enable critical maintenance work to take place. ” … “The 55-year-old building on Haringey Park is home to the Community and Youth Music Library – one of the UK’s most important sources of sets of musical scores. ” .. “Councillors voted to approve the additional £2.3 million-worth of investment, which will be transferred from the corporate landlord and carbon management budgets over a two-year period. The council expects investing in new energy equipment and insulation to reduce the running costs of the building. Work is due to start on site in January 2019 and will take around seven to eight months to complete.”
  • Kent – Evidencing impact in Kent – Libraries Taskforce. “Kent have built a tiered framework with select outcomes and tags through which it can quantify stories based around the chosen outcomes.”
  • Liverpool – Start-up Day to inspire new Liverpool businesses – Guide Liverpool. “The free event – at Liverpool Central Library on 20th September from 10am to 8pm – features a number of special guest speakers. These include BBC Radio Merseyside presenter and business owner Ngunan Adamu and Kay Wadud, co-owner of Perfect Samosa. Google Digital Garage will show you how to market your business digitally and know your online customers. You can also receive one-to-one advice about making your business idea reality.”
  • Monmouthshire – Young artists needed to design new Monmouthshire library membership cards – Monmouthshire Beacon. “Four to seven-year-olds are invited to design a card for children aged 0-7 years old while young people aged between eight and 15 years are asked to create one for teenagers.”
  • Newcastle – Newcastle councillor admits library consultation error – BBC. “Councillors have admitted they “should have done more” to speak to concerned residents about plans to open a drug rehab centre in a library. Angry residents confronted Newcastle City Council officials at a meeting about the Fenham Library scheme. They said they were not told the new “health and wellbeing hub” would include addiction services. Councillors said the centre “posed no risk” but accepted they could have consulted residents more.”
  • Northamptonshire – Changes at Northamptonshire libraries despite review pause – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Northamptonshire County Council has been making redundancies within its libraries service, despite having publicly paused the decision to close down the majority of its libraries. A number of library managers have been made redundant by the county authority in recent weeks, although the authority will not say how many staff have lost their jobs.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Notts library to close during school holidays – West Bridgford Wire. “From October half term 2018, opening times for the Dukeries Library in Ollerton will change to term-time hours only.”
  • North Somerset – Long Ashton library to close and be replaced by mobile service – Bristol Post. “Long Ashton Library will be closing its doors for good in a bid by the council to save money.”
  • North Yorkshire – Eyes down for book bingo at Ripon library – North Yorkshire Council.  “Library customers can pick up a free Book Bingo card from 22 September. To play, people need only to read any library book that fits the various interesting challenges on the Bingo Card until they complete a line.  The 24 challenges range from “read a book that was made into a film” to “read a book with a number in the title” and “read a book with a tree on the cover”.”
  • Northern Ireland – Raise a mug in your local library for Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning – Love Belfast. “Libraries NI, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, provide information booklets in all libraries to people living with cancer. We are delighted that over 80 libraries across Northern Ireland will be hosting a Coffee Morning. What better way is there to help than by having a cup of coffee with friends in the library?”
  • Perth – “Jack of all trades” fear for Perthshire culture merge – Courier. “Plans are afoot to transform cultural and heritage activities including museums, libraries and theatre. The favoured option is thought to be a merger of Culture Perth and Kinross (CPK) – which operates museums, libraries, archives, family and local history – and Horsecross Arts, which runs the city’s theatre and concert hall.”
  • Powys – Library shocker for Welshpool – My Welshpool. “there are plans to move the town’s library in with the museum to allow Powys County Council staff to relocate from Neuadd Maldwyn. An anonymous reader, calling themselves a whistleblower, asked us to investigate after discovering plans to relocate the library, and in doing so reducing its stock by three-quarters, despite Welshpool being the second busiest library in Powys.”
  • Powys – One-stop shop plan for those with questions of Social Services in Powys County Times. “Libraries and leisure centres  could be utilised as walk-in contact centres for people with questions for Social Services as much criticised Powys People Direct will be changed and re-branded. “
  • Sheffield – Sheffield’s historic library shouldn’t be on borrowed time – Yorkshire Post / Letters. “So Sheffield Central Library is being relocated (the Labour manifesto this year promises a new central library). Councillors need to come clean over where the new library will be built, and what it will cost to enable these plans to be properly debated and also scrutinised. The idea does seem a complete nonsense.”
  • Warrington – Silence on LiveWire governance report ‘unacceptable’, says MP – Warrington Guardian.The council commissioned an independent review following LiveWire’s controversial public consultation into the proposed closure of libraries across the town. Mrs Jones is calling for a ‘full public disclosure’ of the results of the governance investigation. She said: “It is now well over a year since the governance report was commissioned and I understand that it has been completed but there remains a wall of silence from both the borough council and LiveWire as to the conclusions reached.”
  • Worcestershire – How many books do you think have been borrowed from Worcestershire’s libraries this year? – Redditch Standard. “More than 1.5million books have been borrowed from Worcestershire’s libraries so far this year. The County has 23 libraries and one mobile library and book lovers have borrowed a total of 1,560,587 books in 2018 …”
  • York – York gets ready for the Big City Read – Press. “The Big City Read book for 2018 is Matt Haig’s The Radleys which will be given away free from all York libraries and at pop-up giveaway sessions from September 21. Tickets for the launch event have already sold out, but Matt Haig will be appearing at The Centre@Burnholme on November 16 to celebrate the end of the Big City Read and there are plenty of tickets still available.”