Public Libraries News is back, due to PlusNet slightly messing up a change in internet provider, from a longer than expected Summer break. There are a few main themes over the last few weeks. The first is that there is a continuing move away from charging fines, especially in the USA, that can only be applauded. I also love the idea of providing free telephone access and utilizing Instagram for storytelling. For those entirely envious of our American friends, though, it’s also noticeable that libraries there are under ideological attack from, normally, right-wing evangelical and pro-gun sources. The furore, easily findable on the internet, over drag queen storytimes is quite amazing and compares badly with their easy reception in the UK. Speaking from the standard anti-gun position prevalent in the UK. moreover, it’s easy also to be horrified by the need in some US states to allow the public to come in with hidden firearms.

In England, there’s a continued move towards combining public libraries with other services, often in new but smaller builds. This has clear budgetary and footfall advantages but is sometimes somewhat over the top, as in Newcastle where someone thought it would be a good idea to include a drug and rehabilitation centre in the same building as the children’s library – a move that has not gone down well with residents, especially as this aspect of the development was kept secret until the last moment.

The continued, and embarrassing, failure of the public library sector to get its act together over statistics has hotted up with the Taskforce publicly pointing out the shortcomings of the ridiculously old-fashioned, limited and egregiously expensive CIPFA statistics. The current provision is redolent of the 1950s in its slowness, limitations and blatant secrecy but also combines profiteering so any improvement is to be welcomed. For that to happen, though, the multitude of risk-averse public library services need to actually be willing to openly share data. What they’re scared of – the public becoming aware of reduced usage and cuts in budgets as a result – has already come to pass but this has not yet resulted in concrete action. One hopes the day will come soon.



National news

  • 4 reasons why removing fines could be the next breakthrough for your library – Princh. “In recent years, there has been another strong debate in the library world concerning the elimination of library fines. The fines are commonly considered to be a punitive method that libraries use to teach reasonability to the user and to ensure that library materials are returned within a certain period of time. But is this strategy really working?”
  • 12 incredible libraries in the UK that need to be on every bookworm’s bucket list – Mirror. Includes Liverpool Central Library and the Library of Birmingham. It misses Manchester Central Library.
  • Carnegie Library Lab – reflections on the first meeting – Libraries Taskforce. “In June, our Carnegie Library Lab Partners came together for their first meeting as a cohort at Manchester Central Library. As part of Carnegie Library Lab, the Partners receive funding for an innovative project in their library service, as well as access to a mentor and bespoke online learning materials focussing on personal and professional development. “
  • ‘Gestures of sharing and love’ … the mini libraries giving books to the community – Guardian. ““I think Little Free Libraries are a meeting place,” Bentley says. “A check-in point, a place to pass something special to someone new, a beautiful way to express that inherent kindness in us all.””
  • Girls are put off careers in science from as young as five ‘because children’s books always depict academics as men’ – Mail. “A study of children’s science books available in English libraries found that doctors and astronauts were depicted as men three times more often than women.” … “in physics books, almost 90 per cent of the people pictured were men, and in the rare instances a woman would feature, she was often depicted as a ‘sidekick’.” … “The study, from the University of Cumbria, analysed 26 children’s science books available in two public libraries in northern England.”
  • An introduction to measuring outcomes – Libraries Taskforce. “… outcomes help to demonstrate impact and can be used to show the difference a library or an activity made. Local councils have an evidence based plan to address local needs – show what you’re delivering for your community. Impact stories are also an excellent advocacy tool. There are wonderful stories to tell from every library and are a great way to get the message across about what libraries do (beyond more traditional perceptions).”
  • Libraries Connected: new name, new team, expanded mission – Libraries – Libraries Taskforce. “Behind the name change lies a massive programme of transformation which has included employment of a paid team for the first time, and establishment as a charity to open up new routes to funding” .. “One of our major activities will be a review of the Universal Offers – which set out the core offer every library makes to its users.” .. “SCL was very effective in securing funding – and this is a tradition we want to continue and expand. ” … ” We need to work closely with ACE, DCMS, CILIP and the British Library to identify a sustainable foundation for public libraries that takes us beyond the current funding crisis.”
  • UK government says CIPFA library statistics ‘flawed’ – Books and Publishing. “the taskforce highlighted the limitations of heavily circulated ‘flawed’ data, which it argues portrays the UK library sector as being in a worse state than it actually is. Concerns were raised about discrepancies in the data collection and reporting, the structure and accessibility of the data, and a failure to capture the changing role of libraries.” see also Analysing data: CIPFA statistics and the future of England’s libraries – DCMS. “The report considers 7 arguments – including cuts, the digital shift, and the failure to modernise – posited as explanations for the overall trend of decline in use of libraries, using data to analyse them when possible. No one argument was found to be sufficient as an explanation for decline on its own.” and Government slams CIPFA library data as ‘flawed’ and ‘unusable’ – BookSeller. “The excel sheet provided by CIPFA is branded “unusable” for analytics purposes and the “out of date structure … hinders data analysis on the part of DCMS, the local authority, or interested citizens””

“The flaws in the data impair our ability to understand trends at the national level in a comprehensive way”

Axiell Selflib
International news

Local news by authority

  • Blaenau Gwent – Libraries in Blaenau Gwent could be run with new approach – South Wales Argus. Service currently run by Aneurin Trust. “the group have raised concerns regarding a reduced budget in each of the last four years that the Trust have run the library service. The report also warns that the council’s own savings targets, around five per cent per year over the next three years, would put further pressure on libraries. The council may seek inspiration from Monmouthshire County Council, which uses its former library buildings as ‘community hubs’ to improve access while cutting costs.
  • Bridgend – Plans for £6m redevelopment of Maesteg Town Hall unveiled – Wales Online. “Plans for the new extension include a studio theatre, improved backstage facilities and an accessible entrance for props and equipment as well as a new bar and kitchen, a box office, cafe, library and a heritage centre.”
  • Bristol – Calls for Bristol’s Central Library to open 7 days a week Bristol Live. Petition launched saying “Central Library should be open seven days a week so that people can access the computers and toilets.” … “So far the petition, which is available on Bristol City Council’s website has zero signatures.”
  • Bury – Community group’s long-awaited takeover of Dumers Lane library – Bury Times. “management of the former Dumers Lane library in Radcliffe has finally been handed over to the Friends of Dumers Lane Community Centre — nine months after the team’s project was approved by Bury Council.”
  • Darlington – Darlington library plans to be put before cabinet – Northern Echo. “The report is expected to outline proposals that could shape the future of library services in the town. Contentious plans to close the historic Crown Street library, move the majority of its resources to the Dolphin Centre and transfer the running of Cockerton Library to volunteers are now on hold following several delays and a judicial review that was recently resolved in the council’s favour.”
  • Doncaster – New £14m Doncaster library and museum gets green light but councillors issue concerns – Doncaster Free Press. “The £14 million Cultural and Learning Centre, based on Chequer Road, is hoped to be completed by the summer of 2020. Construction could begin as soon as next month … The plans see four existing buildings at Doncaster Central Library, Doncaster Archives in Balby, Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, and the Library Services for Schools at Top Road, Barnby Dun, centralised to one building. …
  • Dundee – Libraries across Dundee could close two days a week due to budget cuts – Evening Telegraph. “Only the Central Library in the Wellgate Centre would be unaffected. It comes six months after Dundee City Council slashed £375,000 from the organisation’s annual budget, which the Tele understands is still yet to be officially signed off. It means Leisure and Culture Dundee is currently operating without a formal budget.”
  • Dundee – One of Dundee’s oldest libraries to get facelift – Evening Telegraph. “Plans that will make Coldside Library one of the most accessible in the city have been approved by the council. Leisure and Culture Dundee (LACD) had put forward proposals that will provide access for disabled people to the whole of the library.”
  • Falkirk – There’s more to Falkirk Library than just its good books – Falkirk Herald. “Last week Falkirk Council’s executive agreed to progress its plans to transform the Hope Street library into a central advice hub, despite some concerns over its suitability for this purpose. This followed a meeting in March when the executive agreed to look at proposals to locate the central advice hub in the first floor of Falkirk Library, so it will join the already operational east advice hub in Grangemouth and the proposed west advice hub in Carronbank House, Denny.”
  • Fife – New chapter for Buckhaven folk with the launch of “The Wee Library” – Courier. “The size of a bird house, The Wee Library, as it is known, has been placed in a playpark in the middle of a Buckhaven housing estate.”
  • Hampshire – New Mercury Library in Hamble nears completion – Daily Echo. “a spokesperson for Eastleigh Borough Council, which is responsible for the project, said they authority is in the process of recruiting volunteers and it is hoping to open the new building as soon as possible. The new development will feature a community space for meetings and groups, a small kitchen, several computer stations, audiovisual equipment and two small offices that can be hired out”
  • Kirklees – Libraries could be more than just books as huge revamp planned in Kirklees – Huddersfield Daily Examiner. “Libraries in Kirklees are to undergo a massive revamp as the council looks at how to deliver services in the wake of ongoing cuts that have reached £3.5m. In outlining that “libraries are about much more than books” the authority’s chief librarian, Carol Stump, proposes to redesign library provision across the borough by focusing on what it describes as the “wider community function”.  This could mean libraries acting as hubs for a range of services such as the voluntary and community sector, primary care, adult and children’s social care, and communities teams as well as access to networked libraries elsewhere.”
  • Newcastle – ‘I won’t take my kids there’ – Residents fuming as library set to be drug and alcohol rehab centre – Chronicle Live. Fenham Library: “the news that it will become a unique Drug and Alcohol Wellbeing and Recovery Hub came as an unpleasant surprise for some residents … Throughout the process of obtaining planning permission for the project, council documents referred to it simply as a “health and wellbeing hub” – with no mention of addiction recovery services, which it has been claimed are “not appropriate” for the area.” …  The team behind Fenham development stress that it will not include clinical services, prescription distribution or a needle exchange.”
  • North East Lincolnshire – Your chance to have a say on the future of council-run libraries in North East Lincolnshire – Grimsby Telegraph. “Questions on learning, culture and health information are all included in the survey, to see what kind of services people would like to see in our libraries. Council officials say no suggestion is too ambitious and everyone who joins in will have a chance to be heard.” 
  • Northamptonshire – As Austerity helps bankrupt an English county, even Conservatives mutiny – New York Times. “The bankruptcy of their Conservative-led local government, which has a budget deficit so big that councilors are stripping away all but the minimum services required by law. Inside the county hall, the besieged council debated the latest round of cuts — it had already voted to close libraries and stop repairing roads — as disgusted residents jeered.”
  • Northamptonshire – Will landmark ruling rewrite the book on library closures? – Big Issue. “Mrs Justice Yip, presiding, ruled that the plans were unlawful, saying: “The whole question of library provision needs to be revisited by the defendant, paying attention to its legal obligations and all material considerations.” … ““This was a grassroots campaign. It was a people’s victory. Now it needs to continue to be so. “It’s like (former RMT boss) Bob Crow said: ‘If you fight you won’t always win. But if you don’t fight you will always lose.’”
  • Nottingham – Broadmarsh could be the home for a new Central Library for Nottingham – West Bridgford Wire. “Nottingham City Council wants people’s views on an exciting new proposal to develop a modern Central Library in the revamped Broadmarsh Area. The proposal includes creating Britain’s best children’s library and plans to ensure that the people of Nottingham can enjoy a Central Library fit for future generations.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Arts for children and young people in Nottinghamshire – Libraries Taskforce. “Over the 4 years we will develop an innovative, multidisciplinary arts programme for children and young people across our 12 largest libraries, with further specialist targeted work for disabled young people. “
  • Oldham – Live@thelibrary is back for its tenth season – Oldham Council. ““This is our tenth season and to mark this milestone we have a feast of drama, laughter and much more in store. We have something for all ages and we’re supporting established and emerging local talent.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Partnership for Pembroke library and info centre – Pembroke Today. “The facility will benefit to the tune of £20,000 for the 2019/20 financial year after local councillors agreed to contribute towards the running costs. The library and tourist information centre was going to close and be replaced with a Mobile Library Service due to cutbacks, however the cash injection will ensure current levels of service provision are maintained.”
  • Reading – Library bookdrops and home extensions in Reading planning applicationsGet Reading. “The council has submitted plans to add ‘bookdrops’ to both Battle Library in Oxford Road and Caversham Library in Church Street. The move comes after the council had to slash the opening hours of libraries as part of spending cuts, and means book lovers won’t face fines as a result.
  • Rotherham Rotherham: Council and Mowbray Gardens library – working together to help people back into work – Libraries Taskforce. “Rotherham MBC’s HR Department approached the library about hosting a work experience placement.”
  • Sheffield – “I dread to think what the future holds for Sheffield libraries” Star / Letters.  “On popping into the library in Stannington recently I was shocked to see for sale a book by one of the most prominent volunteers for the library group. A library volunteer using the library they work in to promote and sell their own book, surely goes against basic decency and common sense. You wouldn’t get library staff doing this, nor would they be able to get away with it if they tried.” … “I do wish that library volunteers would stop defending the council’s failed policy on volunteer libraries and instead lobby for the council to rethink this failed model and put professional library staff back at the heart of all libraries.” see also “Boris Johnson, ye of no filter” – Star / Letters. “Lee Peace’s article on the decline of libraries under volunteers was a very well intentioned, fact based article based on the council’s own figures telling a truthful, shocking story of the decline of libraries under our Labour council.”
  • Sheffield – “The library has put the heart back into Greenhill” – Star. Greenhill volunteer library defends record. “the rate of decline has reduced very considerably since 2014 and especially since we have substantially re-invigorated our stock by putting our donated books into circulation. However, as a volunteer library we have recently adopted a strapline, ‘More than just books’. With a good number of volunteers we have been able to restart or introduce many new ventures over the last four years.”
  • Sheffield – The real library borrowing figures at voluntary libraries – Star. “or the last three years voluntary libraries have been buying new stock for their own collections, and these books have been borrowed at much greater rates as they are up to date. For example, Walkley Library lent 13,148 books over the last four quarters compared with 4989 in the four quarters of 2016 before the supply of new books really began to build up.”
  • Shropshire – Late book amnesty at Shropshire libraries providing successful – Whitchurch Herald. “Shropshire Council launched its eight-week late book amnesty in July at the start of the summer holidays in a bid to encourage visitors back into its library buildings. “

“The catalyst for the book amnesty was seeing other library authorities moving towards a ‘no fines’ set-up and wanting to see if it brought people and books back into our libraries. “The timing is designed to capture the higher traffic through the summer season.”

  • Solihull – Mobile library service to be axed in Solihull Birmingham Live. “Solihull’s mobile library service is set to be scrapped next spring, with its funding diverted into other schemes. Plans to terminate the current contract, which Solihull Council had previously agreed with neighbouring Warwickshire County Council, are expected to be approved next week. The council argues that the service, which costs around £32,000 a year, is under used – with fewer than 300 users recorded in 2017/18.
  • Somerset – Somerset’s public services will suffer from cuts says LibDems – Somerset County Gazette. “More than 6,000 people responded to a council consultation on the future of their libraries, with a final decision to be made at a cabinet meeting in October. “
  • Suffolk – Suffolk library chief reveals ideas to help boost visitor numbers East Anglian Daily Times. “Last week this newspaper revealed that the total footfall at Suffolk’s Libraries was down by around 60,000 visits in 2017/8 from 2014/5. Now Bruce Leeke, the chief executive of Suffolk Libraries, says the service will try and engage with people in a number of different ways. “It’s not just about books,” said Mr Leeke, “and we have a vision of more people visiting libraries to make the most of an ever-increasing range of services for many aspects of their lives.”
  • Staffordshire – Latest plans revealed – Staffordshire Council. “The £1.2 million investment will transform St Mary’s, opening up the ground floor to accommodate the library, while the first floor will include a permanent museum, exhibition and performance space, as well as an access point for digitised archive collections. The move is backed by Lichfield District Council and the City Centre Development Partnership because it will increase footfall, boost the heart of the city and support local traders. “
  • Waltham Forest – Waltham Forest Labour council votes to close library – campaign goes on – Socialist Party. Wood Street “The decision taken at the cabinet was to agree in principle the closure of 1950s building and the library’s relocation in a year’s time. Some in the campaign want to constitute ourselves so we can bid for the old building when it comes to be sold. Some believe that we can run it as voluntary community centre. As socialists we have explained that this option could only be a stop gap … “
  • Warrington – Residents urged to help improve book stock at local libraries Warrington Worldwide. “As part of a library modernisation programme, LiveWire is hosting a series of public engagement sessions to give residents an opportunity to suggest the type of book stock they would like to see in Warrington libraries.”
  • West Sussex – Worthing Library wants your ideas to become central community hub – Worthing Herald. “West Sussex County Council is seeking public opinion on combining the library with a children and family centre and registration services.”