I hope you all enjoyed the Christmas / New Years break. I certainly did. The main thing in the library news since way back on 16th December when the last news update was done has been the continued protests in Essex against the deep cuts there. The New Years Honours seemed to concentrate more than normal on the literary side with authors who campaign for libraries – including Julia Donaldson, Philip Pullman and Chris Riddell – all being mentioned. Public librarian side, congrats to Neil MacInnes – chief of Manchester libraries and the last president of Society of Chief Librarians/first of Libraries Connected, who got an OBE and to Tony Brown, Islington stock and reader development manager, who received a BEM (British Empire Medal). And a huge thank you to whoever nominated me as I got a BEM myself. Wow. Just … wow.

It’s been a big couple of weeks for libraries going fine-free, with the whole Republic of Ireland no longer charging late fees and Halton Council also announcing a one-year pilot of no fines. The whole Australian state of Tasmania has also gone the same way. It’s becoming clear that removing all fines – once unthinkable and then only something that happened elsewhere – is fast picking up momentum and is now something many library services are considering.


National news

  • Billy Connolly: ‘Going to the library changed my life. It may even have saved it’ – Penguin Random House. “When I was an unhappy little boy, going to the library changed my life. It may even have saved it. Amazing as it sounds, literature can do that for you.” … “People often say that football and boxing are the ways out of the working class and they are your ticket out of that kind of life, if you happen to want to leave it. But, for me, the library is the key. That is where the escape tunnel is. All of the knowledge in the world is there. The great brains of the world are at your fingertips”

Libraries were an escape tunnel for so many, and still are today.

  • Closing libraries puts vulnerable new mothers out in the cold – Guardian. “The UK’s ‘magic portals into learning and dreaming’ are closing at an alarming rate – for many marginalised groups they are indispensable ” … “Our library is a place where those who are struggling can go and put their head down for a bit. It is a place where the elderly get together to knit, read papers or talk. It is a place where people who have fallen through the cracks go to be warm and safe. ”  … “I’m not saying that GPs should prescribe rhyme time for people in mental distress, and cuts to libraries affect many groups, but this is one group that is already lonely, at risk, and often unable to access their previous support groups.”
  • Cuts to cultural services are entrenching inequality, says Labour – Wirral Globe. “Around £90 million has been cut from cultural services budgets across local authorities in Scotland since 2011, according to Scottish Labour. ” … “Figures indicated a £22 million reduction in spending for libraries, with more than £5 million cut from museums and galleries” … “The party’s culture, tourism and external affairs spokeswoman Claire Baker said: “The SNP Government’s decision to pass on Tory austerity to our communities has resulted in multimillion-pound cuts to cultural services across Scotland. “Libraries aren’t just a free source of reading, they are often at the centre of people’s daily lives.”
  • Feminist Library saved from closure as supporters raise £35,000  – Guardian. “While an alternative space in Peckham was found by Southwark council, the library needed to raise at least £30,000 to finance the move. Almost 800 supporters have now helped it to raise the funds, with library staff now looking for a further £12,000.”
  • Guardian view on small-town Britain – Guardian. “The closure of 127 public libraries did not get much attention amid the turmoil of 2018, but that does not make it a small story. The loss was felt by users of the culled services and those who worked in them. According to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, local authority spending on libraries fell by £30m to £741m over the past year.” … “A library gives meaning to an area beyond measurable economic utility and its closure provokes feelings of communal redundancy. It is an affront to civic pride. A place without its library is less of a place, just as a high street without a post office is a lesser high street and a town without its own hospital is less of a town”
  • Julia Donaldson makes libraries plea as The Gruffalo creator honoured with CBE – Bournemouth Echo. “The Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson called for an end to the closure of libraries as she was awarded a CBE. The 70-year-old, whose books are enjoyed by millions of children around the world, warned that younger generations are losing out. The Stick Man and Room On The Broom writer said: “I am delighted to receive this honour and regard it as an acknowledgement of the dedication of all those who work in the world of children’s books – the authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers and organisations and charities that promote the enjoyment of reading.”

“But she added: “I also want to take this occasion to highlight how the access of children throughout our country to reading and libraries is endangered with libraries shutting and the jobs of many professional librarians lost. This trend needs urgently to be reversed if we want today’s children to have the same opportunities my generation had to become widely-read, informed and imaginative adults.” Julia Donaldson

  • Libraries are not a luxury – Express / Editorial. “There can be no doubt, even in the marvellous age of the internet, that public libraries are a vital investment in the education of the nation, not a luxury to be cut randomly when money is tight.That is why the Daily Express has been so vociferous in its Save Our Libraries crusade … So we are delighted to give a whole-hearted welcome to the wide-ranging review being launched by Libraries Connected to find the best way of funding, managing and delivering a 21st century library service. Their study won’t bring back the 737 that have disappeared in the past eight years. But it will provide solid plans to ensure no more close and that the vitally important world of books is open to all for generations to come.”
  • Libraries ‘central’ to nation’s culture strategy, campaigners make case to ACE – BookSeller. “Referring to “ACE’s exciting new perception”, TLC wants to build on this by calling for “a fundamental re-orientation of ACE’s attitude to public libraries” so that it sees libraries “as central, and essential” to its whole approach to the arts. Whilst arguing libraries are “the most accessible cultural venue for all population groups” and “an irreplaceable ‘first step’ to every other aspect of the arts” – feasibly making libraries “the largest single contributor” to ACE’s ten-year aspirations – TLC urged ACE it “needs to address the current emergency in public libraries – their everyday funding and functioning. This has not, so far, been the case.” TLC implored: “ACE has, up to now, dedicated far too little of its overall budget to literature, support for authors and events linked to literature. It is also widely perceived to have done too little to support libraries’ work in this area. This needs to be urgently reconsidered …”
  • Palaces for the People: How to Build a More Equal and United Society by Eric Klinenberg – review – Guardian. “For the sociologist Eric Klinenberg, a vision of the good city begins in the local library. It’s a place where a huge amount of knowledge is available permanently, free of charge. It’s a computer centre; it’s a place where everyone goes, including the marginalised young and elderly. Security is light-touch – “you rarely see a police officer in the library”. ” … “the heart of the book is that idea of the library or park rather than the market as the real agora, the place where urban life is lived at its best, an example of the “social infrastructure” that could really rebuild America. “
  • Pullman, Donaldson, Riddell and Atwood in New Year’s Honours – BookSeller. “Meanwhile Neil MacInnes, president of Libraries Connected (previously the Society of Chief Librarians), received an OBE, for services to public libraries. A British Empire Medal was awarded to librarian Ian Anstice, the indefatigable compiler of Public Libraries News, which has charted cutbacks to public library services over many years; Anstice was also given his award for services to the public libraries sector.”
  • Rob Whiteman: Libraries tell us a tale of council transformation – LGC. “In libraries there has been a rise in voluntarism, and a decline in paid staff … We can view libraries as the canary in the coal mine for what is happening to our public services. Similar changes are happening to many services, with previously free services such as green waste collection now being charged for, and tougher criteria for receiving legal aid.”
  • SoA calls on ACE to increase diversity in the arts and secure libraries’ future – BookSeller. “In support of libraries, it said ACE “needs to work with local authorities to restore library services where they have fallen into decline”. The call follows recent analysis of CIPFA data showing spending by public libraries in England on printed books has fallen 20% year-on-year, with the sum now spent on printed books representing just 3.9% of the total taxpayer expenditure on England’s libraries. Libraries in schools have also suffered from spending cuts, SoA observed, noting this has “a detrimental impact upon children who have limited or no access to books at home, and widens the gap between the best and the least ‘well-educated’ and ‘well-read'”.”
  • Tory minister slammed for telling councils to use libraries to revitalise high streets – Mirror. “He seems to have forgotten that austerity meant many had to reduce their opening hours or shut completely”.
  • Why more people are using these libraries – BBC. A look at Woolwich Centre Library and Storyhouse Library. Woolwich: “”Book issues have previously been quite low compared to the number of visitors but with the expansion of activities, book loans have also gone up,” … “”The frustrating thing is we know what people want from libraries,” says Nick Poole, chief executive of Cilip, the UK’s library association. He argues funding cuts are to blame for falling visitor numbers. “It’s fundamentally about the quality of the offer and that does come back to money,” he says”. Storyhouse: “Rachel Foster, the council’s library services manager, says the open-plan layout, integration of different facilities and extended opening hours have all helped attract visitors. “

Axiell Selflib
International news

  • Australia – Tasmania abolishes library fines statewide – Books and Publishing. “Tasmania is one of lowest-ranking Australian states for literacy, with nearly half of the Tasmanian population functionally illiterate, according to a survey conducted by the state government. Tasmania education minister Jeremy Rockliff said the abolition of library fines is part of an effort to lift state education outcomes by making libraries more accessible. ‘We believe these changes to the library borrowing process will help achieve that goal,’ Rockliff told the Examiner.”
  • Canada – Thunder Bay Public Library takes steps to ‘decolonize’ itself – News Watch. “In the spring of 2017, in the wake of the findings of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Chief Librarian John Pateman first announced TBPL would implement measures to decolonize library operations and services. On Tuesday, in response to what it described as a number of recent tragic and traumatic events in the community, the library made a followup announcement reaffirming its commitment to anti-racism and decolonization.”
  • Eire – Abolition of library fines lends a hand to the tardy – Times. “Bookworms across the country have been given a late Christmas present as the abolition of library fines came into force this week.The policy was devised to encourage more people to sign up to their local libraries and it is also hoped that books kept for fear of the cost of returning them may now be given back. All charges on library members’ accounts have been wiped and none will be applied in the future. The decision was part of the government’s five-year strategy for public libraries published midway through last year.”
  • USA – Interview: NYPL’s chief digital officer says public is better off when libraries are ‘risk averse’ about tech – GeekWire. ““What I previously imagined was a weakness I think is a strength, which is that libraries have been very reluctant to move too quickly and have allowed the marketplace and allowed other organizations to kind of prove things work before libraries have taken the plunge,” said Ageh, who before joining NYPL oversaw internet and archive efforts at the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). “I think that has actually inoculated us against waste or harmful behavior.””
  • USA – Skye Patrick, LJ Librarian of the Year – Library Journal. Diversity and community programming highlighted.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Library book returned in Aberdeen after 40 years – BBC.
  • Bandersnatch fans go on hunt for fictional book at Aberdeen library – Evening Express.  Non-existent book featured in Netflix programme asked for. Same report also taken up by The Times.
  • Blackburn with Darwen – New Year price hikes for Blackburn’s libraries – Lancashire Telegraph. Charges increased but reservations for item in stock still free.
  • Camden – Tea and tech in Belsize library – Libraries Taskforce. Volunteer library invites charities businesses to do IT classes and do some events themselves.
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Crusading librarian receives New Year Honour – Winsford and Middlewich Guardian. “Ian Anstice, who has worked at Winsford Library for more than 20 years, has received a British Empire Medal for services to the public library sector. The dad-of-two believes the library plays a vital role in the community and feels honoured to present the Winsford Oscars which recognises the town’s community champions every year. He launched a blog Public Libraries News in 2010 to highlight the threats to the public library across the country.”
  • Croydon – Self service libraries could be trialled in Croydon – Your Local Guardian. ““So you might be open in the evening and people can use their card to gain access monitored by CCTV and we;re looking to initially trial that at Selsdon Library.”
  • Darlington – Darlington for Culture ‘delighted’ with Crown Street Library u-turn – Northern Echo. “New plans have now also been put forward that would see the council retaining control of Cockerton Library after the volunteer group withdrew from its role.Jo Potter, chair of Darlington for Culture, said: “We were delighted with the council’s decision about the library service.”
  • Denbighshire – Rhuddlan library celebrates 50 years – Rhyl Journal.
  • East Sussex – ‘Transitional problems’ with parking shop services at East Sussex libraries – Eastbourne Herald. “Bill Bentley, the council’s lead member for communities and safety heard how the council had received ‘negative customer feedback’ after a major shake up of its parking services at a meeting today (Tuesday December 18). The changes, which were brought in earlier this year, had seen an expansion of the council’s online parking service while over-the-counter parking services had been moved into Eastbourne, Hastings and Lewes libraries.”
  • Essex – Chigwell Library is in line to be closed – Guardian series. ” The move to shut down Buckhurst Hill was greeted with horror by the townsfolk, with cllr Gavin Chambers attempting to list the building and pupils at St John’s CofE coming out in a colourful protest. After North Weald Parish Council discussed plans to help the community run its library at a cost of £15,000 a year, supporters of Chigwell Library began to vocalise fears a beloved facility could soon be gone.”
    • Essex’s Book Festival turns 20 this year – Gazette Standard. “Elsewhere there are 27 author events taking place in the County’s libraries something festival director, Ros Green, is keen to promote, especially as Essex Libraries founded the Festival back in 1999.She says: “With many Essex Libraries under threat, our maxim is Love Your Local Library – Use It or Lose It.”
    • Give children a voice on proposed library closures – Gazette News. “Colchester councillor Julie Young says the consultation ignores the voices of young children. She found a report in cabinet papers which gave a breakdown of the usage of libraries. It said about 22 per cent of library users are under nine. “
    • Library petitions are needed as consultation is flawed – Gazette News / Letters. “We, and many others, involved with petitions, are urging residents to respond to her consultation about library cuts and sign petitions. Our petition concerns West Mersea but there are many more throughout the Essex. Why? We in West Mersea say the consultative document is seriously flawed – the number of over-65s in Mersea are seriously understated, they use outdated Colchester Borough’s statistics, not Mersea Island’s.”
    • ‘They’re a safe space and refuge’: best-selling author calls for more library funds – Dunmow Broadcast. Jojo Moyes “whose 2012 romance Me Before You soared to number one in six countries and is a New York Times best seller, described libraries as a safe space and refuge. Her first book, Sheltering Rain, was published in 2002 and she has written more than 10 novels in her career. Speaking to the Broadcast, Moyes, who lives in Great Sampford with her husband and three children, said: “My parents didn’t have a huge amount of money when I was small so the local library was a weekly treat. I would take four books out and then struggle to make them last a week, as I read so quickly”
    • 5,000 sign petition to save Essex’s libraries – Gazette News. “Colchester councillor Lorcan Whitehead (Lab), who is part of the Save Our Libraries in Essex – SOLE – campaign group said: “The reaction has been fantastic so far. “It shows it’s an issue that cuts across the community and everyone seems to realise how important it is to keep those services.”
    • Essex’s Book Festival turns 20 this year – Gazette News. Festival notes many libraries under threat and says “use it or lose it”.
    • £350,000 owed in uncollected library fines – Gazette News. “Nearly 200,000 items are overdue from the county’s libraries. Among them is a textbook which has been overdue for 25 years. Despite the length of time the Open College book has been on loan, the council said it would only charge a maximum of £7 per item. In total, the authority is owed £357,346 in library fines. A spokeswoman said small charges were “difficult to collect”, and many users stopped returning to the library once they had overdue items.”
    • Chigwell Library is in line to be closed – Guardian series.
    • Campaigners get 1,500 signatures to save library – Standard series. “Holly Turner, of Norman Road, Manningtree, launched an online campaign in November urging the community to join the library in a bid to stop it from being axed.The mum-of-two set up the campaign to raise awareness Essex County Council could close Manningtree Library within the next two years.”
    • Hockley Library raid protests against council plans – Echo series. “The “borrowers” are urging people to take part at the same time as it was revealed there are 200,000 overdue items across the county with £350,000 in fines. Megan Hemmings, one of those organising the library “raid”, said: “This is a lovely way for the community to get together and celebrate our local library.”
    • St Peter’s C of E primary pupils join battle to save village libraries – Braintree and Witham Times. “Year 5 and 6 students at St Peter’s Church of England School in Myneer Park, Coggeshall, have written letters to county hall urging them not to close their village library. The service in Coggeshall is one of many which faces an uncertain future after Essex County Council unveiled radical plans to change how it runs libraries.”
    • Surely we can rely on MP Rebecca to help save our libraries? – Echo series / Letters. “We have an MP who used to be a publisher before she was shoehorned into a safe seat. Can she not be relied upon for help? I’d be very surprised if she will not champion books and reading. “
    • “I care about the library because I love books, but also because I care about people.” – Halstead Gazette / Libraries. “From a pure data point of view, you can understand why Essex County Council sees a need to do things differently and find a more cost-effective way of providing a library service. The trouble is, there are things a library does for a community that can’t be measured in terms of simple data. It is a place where those who can’t afford to buy books can access them. It is a place where you can browse the shelves at leisure and discover authors and books you would never have seen otherwise.”
    • Protesters stage book borrowing raid at Wivenhoe library – Gazette News. “Hundreds of people joined in with protest action at Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea libraries on Saturday and took out the maximum of 14 items allowed per ticket holder. ” … “The book borrowing machines were not working and that meant there were long queues but it became like a big party and demonstrated we need our librarians. “
    • ‘Essex councillor not convincing over libraries’ – Times series / Letters. “As far as I can understand from last Tuesday’s county council meeting, the decision has already been made to close all the libraries on their Tier 4 list with no further consultation.I shall be happy to be corrected if I have misunderstood.”
  • Halton – The radical idea that could save our libraries – Liverpool Echo. 12 month pilot. “Library fines are being scrapped in Halton in a radical trial aimed at boosting access to books” … “A Halton Council spokesman said the initiative is part of the local authority’s goal to provide ‘the opportunity for all to fulfil their potential’. He said fines can be off-putting and that the library service wants to offer a welcoming service for all. The council said more than 50% of borrowers in Halton are classed as living in the top 20% most deprived areas nationally, with 30% living in areas classed in the top 10%. At present, children do not pay fines in Halton, but has been be expanded to include all library users for the forthcoming year.”
  • Islington – New Year’s Honours List 2019: Islington library boss gets British Empire Medal – Islington Gazette. “Tony Brown, Islington Council’s library and heritage stock and reader development manager, has made the new years honours list and will get his medal in early 2019. Tony, a council employee of 38 years, worked his way up from the inter-loans department and now oversees all aspects of stock, reader development, online services and more – including recently welcomed the deputy mayor of Islington Cllr Rakhia Ismail to one of the library services new Drag Story Time sessions.”
  • Kent – Free sanitary products available at libraries in Westgate and Newington – Kent Online. “In an attempt to tackle “period poverty”, Kent County Council is planning to launch a new scheme so free sanitary products will be available for those in need in libraries. Libraries in Thanet will become distribution points for free tampons and pads for anyone in Westgate and Newington.”
    • New proposal scheme could see Kent libraries opening hours and staff numbers slashed – News Shopper. “These cuts are proposed as part of Kent County Council’s new three-year draft strategy for the 99 libraries across Kent which could see opening hours changed and staff numbers cut in a bid to save the council £1 million.This draft strategy is currently up for public consultation but if approved, it would see Temple Hill library’s hours slashed from 40 hours per week to just 23 hours per week.”
  • Leeds – The 250-year-old subscription library thriving in a digital world – BBC. “The Leeds Library is the oldest surviving subscription library of its type in the UK, with its 140,000 books ranging from crumbling Victorian novels to the latest Robert Galbraith best seller. As the cultural hidden gem celebrates its 250th year, the BBC pays a visit to see how it attempts to protect its legacy while staying relevant to an increasingly distracted audience. “
  • Lincolnshire – Two libraries re-opening under new operator next week – Lincolnite. “As previously reported, local company Ignite is taking on the running of Birchwood and Boultham libraries, which have been supported by the council’s main library provider Greenwich Leisure Limited since Learning Communities ceased trading.”
  • Neath Port Talbot – Libraries under threat of closure in Neath Port Talbot in budget cuts proposals – Wales Online. “The libraries in Baglan, Cwmafan, Glynneath and Skewen are under threat due to “low numbers” borrowing books and other items such as audio books and films” … “The local authority hopes community groups will take on responsibility for running them under asset transfers but has warned closure is a possibility. The council’s draft budget proposals involve cuts to the library service of £235,000 over the next three years.”
  • North Somerset – Two more libraries to extend opening hours – North Somerset Council. “Work to install a new self-service system and increase opening hours at two more North Somerset libraries will take place in January. The swipe card access system, branded ‘Extended Access’, is being introduced at the joint library and children’s centres in Worle and Yatton.” … “‘Extended Access’ is also being installed at the libraries in Portishead and Winscombe. It is already successfully and safely used in more than 480 libraries across the country, including ones in neighbouring Bristol and South Gloucestershire”
  • North Yorkshire – Filey beach photo booked by libraries – Scarborough News. “Talented photographer Tracey Roberts, who regularly sends in excellent images to the Scarborough News, has had a picture of Filey Beach selected by North Yorkshire libraries to appear on a limited edition set of library membership cards following a competition.” see also Wonderful Whitby photo to feature on library cards – Whitby Gazette.
  • Northamptonshire – Review of Northamptonshire County Council’s annus horribilis – Northampton Chronicle. “On August 13 it was also announced that the council had lost a legal battle brought by library campaigners and would have to abandon its plans to close some libraries and start again. The legal proceedings cost the council £200,000.”
  • Northern Ireland – Libraries NI and Samaritans team up for Brew Monday on ‘saddest day of year’ – Irish Times. “On January 21 Samaritans are urging people to beat Blue Monday by going to their local library for a chinwag – and a cuppa. Nothing to do with the 1983 New Order song, Blue Monday began as a piece of public relations but has become something of an annual date – now usually the third Monday of January.”
  • Northumberland – Children taking part in reading challenge – News Post Leader. Winter Mini Challenge.
  • Oxfordshire – Woodstock Library completes move to The Oxfordshire Museum – Oxford Mail. Structural problems being repaired. “Woodstock Library has temporarily relocated to The Oxfordshire Museum on Park Street while the existing building, on Hensington Road, remains cordoned off. The temporary library will be located in what was the museum’s Innovations Gallery after the move, which concluded on Friday. A full library service will be available in the museum, including books, public access internet, activities, printing and photocopying.”
  • Plymouth – Plymouth Central Library opens doors on Christmas Day – BBC. “Staff from libraries across the city gave up three hours of their day off to host the event. Visitors received gifts, tucked into mince pies and shared Christmas messages written by schoolchildren. Organisers said they hoped the event helped to combat “social isolation” on a day when few other services were available.”

“We felt it might attract the homeless community, but on the day a lot of people came in because they had nowhere else to go or they had no company.” She said the event attracted people of all ages, from children playing games to older people who wanted a chat.”

  • Sheffield – Funds needed to improve our libraries – Yorkshire Post / Letters. “Sheffield’s libraries were once praised as a “champion of the arts” for their policies of buying first novels by up-and-coming authors. I doubt they’d achieve that status now. The last six years have been disastrous for libraries. What I want to see is funds restored to local authorities to provide, stock and staff libraries to something like their former standard. Is that too much for a supposedly rich country?”
    • Leeds council tax going up yet again while service declines – Yorkshire Post / Letters. “Usage drops when libraries are handed to volunteers like in Sheffield, so one of the ways of closing libraries and avoiding blame for their closure is handing them to volunteers.Literacy and a love of reading are essential for breaking the cycle of deprivation across Sheffield and elsewhere. Professionally-staffed libraries are essential for achieving this”
    • Volunteer-run Sheffield library vows to go on despite ‘hate campaign’ – Star. “Retired teaching assistant Mel Smart, of Hilltop, said they had kept quiet about the anonymous campaign for a number of years, but that the latest incident was ‘the last straw’.She said: “We put posters up and somebody rips them down and we put them back up. We have put up with this problem for quite a while but this last one has really got me.”
    • Support for Sheffield library volunteers targeted by hate campaign – Star. “the group that now runs the facility – Stannington and District Library Group – say that they are the victims of a hate campaign that has been going on for years.” … “Kathleen Gears posted: “What is wrong with these people? The volunteers at all the former corporation libraries do a superb job. Without them the libraries would close at great loss to the community they serve. So whoever you are please get a life and find something useful to do.” … “Someone who works with several of the volunteer run libraries in Sheffield also confirmed that Walkley and one other library had experienced similar problems.”
  • Somerset – Response to Drag Queen Story Time event in Taunton Library – Somerset County Gazette. “On the Facebook page for the event, people have posted comments against the performance. ” … “Another person wrote: “How can anyone in their right mind look at this idea and think it’s ok for children to be introduced to drag queens? Stop sexualising children, and stop wasting tax payers money on grooming children. This is abhorrent.” “
  • Southend – Librarian Marion who started working life on £9-a-week retires after 48 years serving the public – Echo. “Among her biggest achievements was playing a key role in the refurbishment of the central library.Another was being promoted to take charge of the running of all the libraries and museums.”
  • Sunderland – At least seven people barred from libraries and customer service centres in Sunderland since 2013 – Chronicle. “Racism, threatening staff and viewing ‘adult’ content are among the reasons for banning members of the public from council premises. At least seven people have been barred from using libraries and customer service centres in Sunderland since 2013. And of those, four have not been told when they can expect their bans to be lifted”
  • Thurrock – Libraries are much-loved and needed spaces – Thurrock councillor’s column – Thurrock Gazette. “As portfolio holder for Arts Culture and Commu-nities I’m lucky enough to be involved with our libraries and the great range of services they offer and extra curricular activities they help run such as the kids Lit quiz and summer reading challenge.Libraries are no longer just about books, they have become meeting places, areas to study and learn new skills and safe places that the community can come together in.”
  • Warrington – Passport to health” scheme launched at libraries – Warrington Worldwide. “It’s easy to get involved – members just pick up a free “passport” leaflet, visit five different LiveWire libraries anytime during January and borrow a health-related book from each one. Books included in the challenge could be on any health, wellbeing, fitness or lifestyle topic. This could be a book on cookery, mindfulness and relaxation, sport or a book from the dementia or mood boosting collections, to name just a few. Anyone who receives five stamps should simply hand their completed passport to a member of library staff.  They will then be put into a prize draw to win a £25 book token.”
  • West Berkshire – Newbury Library re-opens following refurbishment – Newbury Today. £30k. Re-carpeting and redecoration.
  • West Dunbartonshire – Council to spend £45k to provide largest ever e-book collection – Daily Record. “The local authority is also spending £421,000 in the next year on new children’s areas, mobile shelving and self-service machines for libraries.” … “Residents who sign up to Borrowbox will have more than 1000 ebooks and 360 audiobooks to download for free.” … “There is also a programme to update the look and feel of branches and increased funds for traditional book stocks.”
  • Wirral – Free creative writing workshops for adults across Wirral – Wirral Globe. “The creative writing courses for beginners will take place in libraries across the borough, focussing on inspiration, characterisation, settings, plotting stories, revising and editing. “
  • Worcestershire – Closure of Rubery Library branded ‘an act of cultural vandalism’ as row continues – Bromsgrove Advertiser. “The Advertiser previously reported the future of some of Worcestershire’s smaller libraries such as Rubery hangs in the balance, and in December we reported on the council’s decision to hold a crucial meeting on the fate of the library, the weekend before Christmas. Labour Councillor Peter McDonald said despite the timing, more than 50 residents attended the meeting, which was chaired by Conservative Councillor Lucy Hodgson.”
    • Bromsgrove residents’ fears over ‘library staff cuts’ – Bromsgrove Standard. “Worcestershire County Council chiefs revealed staff cuts are likely to happen in a bid to keep it open. Although not final, talk has moved towards a new automated system being installed at the library, known as ‘Open Plus’.”
    • ‘No libraries to close in West Worcestershire’ – Malvern Gazette. Harriet Baldwin MP says ““I have been reassured that no library in West Worcestershire is being considered for closure.“ I have spoken up for our local libraries in the past and I personally use meeting rooms in Pershore and Upton to hold my advice surgeries.”
  • York – Children at Dringhouses library get after school Lego club – Press. “The donation, by York’s Ultra Fibre Optic (UFO) network from TalkTalk, will enable the Dringhouses Library to start hosting a new weekly after school ‘Lego Club’ for local children in the new year”