There’s been a few things which have been brilliant in the last ten years of public libraries. The Orkney Library Twitter account (and their wannabe rivals Shetland) is one. The Summer Read Challenge as well The brilliant art of Chris Riddell and words of Neil Gaiman have been another. They’ve both been resolutely pro library for all of this period, with some of the best advocacy artwork and writing coming from them. Do have a read of their essay in pictures and feel proud of being involved in libraries.  Michal Ellis MP, Conservative minister, clearly thinks big new libraries is another good thing in the last decade – me too – although doubtless in his case it’s more a look-what’s-that-behind-you and a nothing-to-do-with-me excuse to the deep cuts in library funding and usage since his party came into office.


National news

Public libraries are community hubs and engines of social mobility, but book stocks in libraries in England have fallen by 15.1 million since 2010. What recent assessment has the Minister made of the effects of the Government’s cuts to local authority budgets on public libraries” Bambos Charalambous MP

“In fact, hundreds of millions of pounds are spent on libraries every year by local authorities. I have seen examples of this, including at the Halifax central library, the Storyhouse in Chester and the Oxfordshire county library. I have been travelling the country visiting libraries, and local authorities in many areas are investing large sums in their libraries because, as the hon. Gentleman says, they are centres of social activity. We do look at the quantum of books, but it is for the local authorities to ensure that their libraries are providing a comprehensive and efficient library service.” Michael Ellis MP” They Work For You.

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International news

  • Canada – Lesley Crewe on Mindfulness and Libraries – Halifax Public Libraries. “According to the experts, we all need more mindfulness and mediation in our lives, and increasingly, our youngest children are in dire need of these practises, given the amount of distractions that plague them daily. Luckily the solution is a library.”
  • USA – L.A.’s Head Librarian, a Former Foster Youth, is Putting a New Spin on Career Development Opportunities – Chronicle of Social Change. “Reflecting both today’s changing job market and the interests of teens, the library is beginning to offer more courses around S.T.E.M. — science, technology, engineering and math — and the arts, everything from coding to cartooning.” … “The library’s courses are free and open to all youth, but many of them were designed with foster youth in mind.”
  • USA – To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library – New York Times. “… in New York and many other cities, library circulation, program attendance and average hours spent visiting are up. The real problem that libraries face is that so many people are using them, and for such a wide variety of purposes, that library systems and their employees are overwhelmed. ” … “the founding principle of the public library — that all people deserve free, open access to our shared culture and heritage — is out of sync with the market logic that dominates our world. But it’s also because so few influential people understand the expansive role that libraries play in modern communities. “

“If we have any chance of rebuilding a better society, social infrastructure like the library is precisely what we need. “

Local news by authority

  • Angus – Montrose Library reopens following £1m refurbishment – Courier. “The facility now houses Angus Council customer services and several meeting rooms as well as library services. Work on the building started in December. The children’s library has been given a magical seaside adventure theme honouring the Montrose motto ‘the sea enriches, the rose adorns’.”
  • Borders – Councillors clash over controversial chapter for school libraries – Border Telegraph. “The plans form part of a pilot scheme the council is running at Galashiels, Peebles, and Kelso high schools, where pupils and volunteers will be working alongside, and in some cases in lieu of, librarians. Scottish Borders Council is also planning to introduce the money-saving measure at the region’s other six secondary schools.”
  • Bracknell Forest – New technology introduced to Bracknell libraries – Bracknell News. “‘Open+’ lets users to use electronic cards that give them access to the libraries when staff are not working. Binfield Library will be the first library to get the service when it goes live in next few weeks.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Community Challenge Prize – Libraries Taskforce. “High Wycombe Library was amongst the 30 Online Centres chosen to attend a workshop stage where we were further able to explore and develop our idea. We then had to submit a video of no longer than 5 minutes explaining our idea. This was a new challenge for us and we were fortunate enough to have staff who rose to meet it! We were delighted then to hear in June this year that we were one of 10 winners of the £2,000 prizes.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Computer charges in Cambridgeshire libraries sees people using them drop by 75 per cent – Ely Standard. “Overall usage of computers is down 50 per cent but the numbers using them for longer has dropped by 75 per cent since the £1 an hour charge was introduced. It has meant a dent in council finances too – the council predicted it would make £108,000 in the first year but in the first three months collected just £4,000.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Library service transformation Cambridgeshire Council. “The Library Service has been very successful in becoming ever more resourceful over the past eight years, making savings of more than £4 million whilst keeping all libraries open. In the current 2018 19 financial year we planned to reinstate £230k of funding into the book fund alongside planning for the long – term financial sustainability of the service, ensuring that the library service continues to develop and thrive.” … “In May, June and July the number of computer hours in use dropped by 53.71% from 40,909 hours to 18,937 hours”

“Launching in late August 2018, we are introducing a chargeable ‘Library Extra’ scheme for users who want to contribute financially to the Library Service to increase income. The scheme has been designed to ensure that members do not receive preferential treatment over other library users, but have access to a range of value added special membership benefits, for example, ‘premium member receptions’. Membership will cost £50 per 4 individual, £90 per couple and £120 per family, per annum. Fifty members from each category would generate an additional £13,000”

  • Croydon – Proposals to move New Addington library plus open new GP surgeries and shops – Croydon Advertiser. “The New Addington library and existing Croydon Adult Learning and Training facility (CALAT) could move to a new fit-for-purpose building, possibly with a café and community space. “
  • Darlington – Letters: How much money was wasted on Darlington library legal case? – Northern Echo.  “… excellent news that Darlington library and its services are to be retained at Crown Street … I am however concerned that public money has been wasted on a legal case. ” see also Letters: Congratulations to Darlington council for brave library U-turn – Northern Echo. “This bold move confirms my opinion on his election as leader that Cllr Harker will lead an effective and productive administration, despite the massive cuts imposed by an uncaring Tory government. “
  • Greenwich – Donate your old textbooks to Greenwich libraries to educate others – News Shopper. “The libraries have partnered up with @Revolyoutionldn for their #Revexchange day, which is an initiative to give young people a better chance at an education. By donating textbooks, these can then be handed over to those who need them more and bring people from different backgrounds together.”
  • Lancashire – West Craven libraries to take part in Learn Fest – Craven Herald. “The festival is being organised by library services across the North West to showcase the range of informal learning opportunities offered in local communities. “
  • North Lincolnshire – New Riddings Library to open today as council services brought together under one roof – Grimsby Live. “A Scunthorpe library will operate from a new site from today as part of changes to bring key services together under one roof. Riddings Library has moved to the Riddings Pool building, which has recently been extended to provide a new front entrance.”
  • North Yorkshire – New library scanners are a hit with historians – Northern Echo. “The Konica SL1000 machines make viewing resources on microfilm and microfiche much easier and have touchscreen technology. “
  • Northamptonshire – Public meeting over launching community library group in Higham Ferrers – Northants Telegraph. “A review of the proposed library changes is being carried out and while the future of these libraries remains unclear, a number of community library groups have been set up across Northamptonshire.”
  • Northamptonshire – St James bids farewell to community champion who transformed local library – Northampton Chronicle. “Good luck messages have poured in for the friendly face of a Northampton library who transformed the facility into a thriving community hub over her short time in charge. Before Jane Langer took over St James library four years ago, it functioned as little more than a book loaning facility for the local community.” … “Today it has an award-winning garden, regular groups for children, coffee mornings for elderly people – it runs an international language cafe as well as book clubs and quiz nights. The garden there won a gold award at the annual In Bloom competition. But due to county council cutbacks, Jane spent her last day at the library at the end of August amid a round of tributes from her regular service users”
  • Northern Ireland – Out of hours service at Whitehead – Carrickfergus Times. “Libraries NI has announced that branches across the network returned to normal opening hours this week with many locations offering late night access.” … “Jim O’Hagan, Libraries NI chief executive, said: “Staff at Libraries NI understand it can be quite challenging at times to fit everything in to an already busy day, however with 88 libraries across Northern Ireland offering late night opening, many until 8.00pm, your local library can provide the perfect study space at a time and location which is convenient for you and your family.”
  • Solihull – Mobile library service to be replaced with ‘bespoke’ home deliveries – Solihull Observer. “A council officer’s report on Tuesday to Solihull’s cabinet member for leisure, tourism and sport, Joe Tildesley, recommended the £32,000 mobile service is replaced. “
  • Somerset – ‘Time for a rethink’ on libraries under threat – Wellington Weekly News. “Leaders at Somerset County Council have been urged to have an 11th-hour rethink on the future of public libraries threatened with closure, including those in Wellington and Wiveliscombe. The call came from one of Wellington’s two county councillors, John Thorne, a month before recommendations on the future shape of Somerset’s library service are set to be published. Wellington and Wiveliscombe are among 15 libraries which could be closed and replaced with mobile or outreach services if communities do not take them over in partnership with the council.”
  • West Berkshire – Councillor says that libraries can be maintained despite £1.4m cost – Newbury Today. “Council has insisted it can keep its library service running “for the next few years at least”, despite it costing the local authority £1.4m to run last year. Faced with a £19m cut to its budget in 2016, the council considered closing eight of the district’s nine libraries, leaving just Newbury open. But following Government advice and a public backlash, the council amended its proposal, cutting staff by 44 per cent and recruiting volunteers instead. A report detailing the first year of the restructured service has revealed that the council spent £1,405,143, while generating £176,234 in income – a net cost of £1,228,909. ” … “council was hoping to generate £150,000 through this scheme [Asking towns and parishes to fund libraries} … However, so far, the council has only received £89,772 from 20 town and parishes.”