A tweet that said “what if public libraries were open late every night and we could engage in public life there instead of having to choose between drinking at the bar and domestic isolation” has been liked, at time of press, 223 000 times. Now one suspects that this is mainly because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex, with over 3 million followers, tweeted on it with a comment but still, that’s a lot of people agreeing with it, which suggests some pretty heft pent up demand.

So let’s look at the concept of “night libraries”. If a neutral observer looked at the opening hours of the typical public library, there’d be a few conclusions to be drawn. One is that they’re largely for people who do not work as they tend to have the bulk of opening hours during the daytime, only a few hours each week in the evening and, mostly, one would be lucky if they were open for more than half a day over the entire weekend. Another conclusion could be, if one were more cynical than I, that they were there to be suited to staff desires and availability – who wants to work late night after late night? – in some cases rather than that of the public. Yet another would be that, well, in many areas being open in the evening would not work anyway: there’s some fairly dead areas out there after dark and antisocial behaviour would spike, especially in places like public libraries that are quite rightly open to all. There’s also the comment, which I really like, by @Librareon, who said “Hey! I’d settle for being able to afford day time libraries” which gets to the heart of the problem: opening hours cost money and libraries aren’t really awash with that commodity at the mo.

But, effectively, it still means that the majority of libraries are only open at times that suit those who, for whatever reason, do not work. There is demand, especially in cities, for libraries to open for longer. I’ve seen this at Storyhouse, open pretty much to 10 or 11pm most evenings, including Sundays, and I’m sure Chester is not unique. The challenge, for those areas where it would work, if we want to widen their appeal, is to find ways of doing it. And that means the money. I’m not sure Open+ would appeal to the tweeter really, although I’d be interested to hear otherwise. With Chester, it was a combination with a theatre (and a decision very early on not to barrier the library when the staff there went home). That may be the solution in some lucky places. In others, there will be other ways. I hope to describe them here and, being I write these posts at night, perhaps one day in one of them.



National news

“Community Managed Libraries are an expanding part of the library ecology. These libraries are run by passionate advocates for the benefits that libraries can have on communities.”

  • Share Your Summer Reading Challenge Memories – Summer Reading Challenge / Reading Agency. “ere you a Circus Star, or a Space Hopper? Perhaps your family or friends took part in The Big Wild Read, or our very first Challenge, The Reading Safari. You may have volunteered your time at your local library to help children find their books, or to give out certificates”. Share your Summer Reading Challenge memories with us by filling in the short form below.”
    This Is What It’s Like To Lose Your Local Library – Huffington Post UK. “Through grimy windows underneath a former branch of HSBC in the seaside town of Pevensey Bay, East Sussex, you can see sun-damaged books practically wilting as they gather dust. A “closed” sign is on the locked automatic doors, and torn strips of paper cling to thumbtacks still stuck on a community notice board, the only sign of this library’s public purpose.” … “. “The books are in there, the shelves are in there, we just can’t go in yet,” she says. Burton is a member of a voluntary group keen to see Pevensey’s library re-open as a community effort – effectively free from local council control and financial support”

“A copy of the consultation, obtained by HuffPost UK, suggests that East Sussex County Council is quietly gauging public opinion over a range of measures, including new charges to access library services. The consultation asks whether, if laws were changed, people would support charges for library membership – currently forbidden by the 1964 Libraries Act.” …

“This is not something we’re proposing doing, and to do so would of course require a change in the law – we’re just trying to gauge what residents’ priorities are and what they consider essential services in the future if the current funding squeeze on local government were to continue,” a spokesperson said.”

  • Welsh Government confirms funding for National Broadcast Archive for Wales – Welsh Government. “The archive, which has about 180,000 recordings dating back to the late 1930’s, is an unique and invaluable chronicle of the life of the nation from  the Second World War, Aberfan, the miners’ strike, political battles over devolution, sporting triumphs, films and news items capturing the key moments, people and places in Welsh history”
  • Why libraries are vital in 21st century Britain – Catherine Stihler – Scotsman. “… closing down a library has to be one of the most short-sighted decisions that public officials can make, with serious consequences for the future of local communities. There is a widespread misconception that the services offered are out-of-date – a relic of a bygone age before youngsters started carrying smartphones in their pockets with instant access to Wikipedia, and before they started downloading books on their Kindle. But a recent study by the Carnegie UK Trust found that people aged 15-24 in England are the most likely age group to use libraries. And nearly half of people aged 25 to 34 still visit them, according to the study.”

Axiell Selflib

International news
    • Sweden – Volvo’s electric buses to serve as mobile libraries in the city of Gothenburg – Volvo Buses. “Gothenburg City Library currently has two mobile libraries operating in and around the city, visiting about 70 mobile library stops and 110 preschools. Two new all-electric Volvo buses have now been purchased, scheduled to replace the existing mobile libraries in July 2020. The new mobile libraries will appeal more clearly to children and families, with the focus on experiencing and reading. This will be clearly seen in the interior furnishings, which apart from bookshelves will accommodate meeting-places for children and adults alike”
    • USA – Local library helps people battle Seasonal Affective Disorder – WTOL. “Light therapy has become a common treatment for folks with Seasonal Affective Disorder. The Way Public Library introduced “Happy Lights” last year to allow people to soak in some brightness.”
  • USA – Not So Fine with Library Fines? A Look at the Overdue Debate – Ebsco Post. “For more than a century, libraries around the world have been collecting money for overdue books and other borrowed items not returned on time. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest fine paid for an overdue library book was $345.14 … 92 2 percent of libraries in the United States charge fines and fees … An informal poll of Library Think Tank Facebook page followers showed that most librarians are not in favor of charging overdue fines. Of the 526 who weighed in, 72 percent were opposed, 14 percent were in favor, and the remaining 14 percent believed fines should be waived for children’s and/or teen materials only” 

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Library group hits out at council over proposed closures – Press and Journal. “In a letter to council leaders, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS) has laid out their hopes to save the cherished facilities from the axe. The letter states: “We believe the savings these closures would achieve are short-term ones in comparison to the detrimental long-term impact it would have on communities … “
  • Authors bring council to book over plan to close 16 libraries – Times. Behind partial paywall.  “Ian Rankin and Val McDermid have attacked the city council after it announced a budget that would also close every public lavatory and scrap crossing attendants.”
  • Bolton – Top award for Bolton librarian – Advertiser. “Mel Graaf has been declared Publishers’ Publicity Circle Librarian of the Year 2018. The award was given in recognition of her work in reader development, promoting visits by famous authors and encouraging more people in Bolton to pick up a good book.”
  • Bristol – Central Library in Bristol to change its opening hours – Bristol Live. “Bristol’s Central Library will return to opening seven days a week. The library in Deanery Road has been closed on Wednesdays since April 2016. But now Bristol City Council has announced it will reopen the library seven days a week following a public consultation. The council has said the change in opening hours would be funded by a reorganisation of staff and management in all the library teams.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Northwich Library closes for two-week refurbishment – Northwich Guardian. Refurbishment and self-service installed.
  • Cheshire West youngsters invited to enter World Book Day competition – Cheshire Live. “Youngsters’ knowledge of children’s books will be tested in a free World Book Day Quiz being given out at the borough’s award-winning libraries.”
  • Cornwall – Saltash Library has just been quietly saved – Plymouth Live. “The future of Saltash Library and Information Service has been safeguarded after being transferred to Saltash Town Council on March 1 as part of a new agreement with Cornwall Council. The arrangement, which is part of Cornwall Council’s devolution programme, means the building on Callington Road will continue to provide all the key services essential to a modern library as well as access to a range of council services. Saltash Library is remaining part of the county–wide service meaning customers will keep their existing library cards and can still visit, borrow and order books online from other libraries in Cornwall.”
  • Croydon – Library refurbished to offer a wider range of services – Thornton Heath Chronicle. “Thornton Heath library has recently undergone refurbishment of the community room and a change of layout in the reception area to offer a wider range of services to reflect local needs. The work was done as part of a new borough-wide libraries initiative which sets out the council’s vision for libraries to be places that inform, involve and inspire Croydon residents and visitors. It includes plans for investment to expand the number of book titles, upgrade the existing IT systems, expand opening hours and look at  the role of using libraries as community hubs.”
  • Cumbria – Pop-up library launched thanks to Cumbria County Council, Cleator Moor Town Council and Phoenix Enterprise Centre – News and Star. “The pop-up library has been made possible by a partnership between Cumbria County Council, the Phoenix Enterprise Centre and Cleator Moor Town Council. The public library is currently closed for safety reasons and repair work after the ceiling of the Victorian building was damaged last week. Premises for the pop-up library have been provided at Unite 1a, Phoenix Court, Cragg Road, by Phoenix Enterprise Centre. The town council has been hosting a book drop to ensure library customers could return books, and has accommodated the first meeting of the new Lego club organised for young people by library staff”
  • Essex – Library consultation’s £70k price tag comes under fire – Clacton Gazette. “As the consultation drew to a close, the cost of the consultation was alleged to have been in the region of £400,000. However, the council said the figure was “completely wrong” and it was a fraction of the suggested amount, at £70,092. It added this was not the final cost but it was unlikely to escalate significantly. A spokesman for the county council said: “Direct consultation costs are the print, mail out and analysis costs.”
    • Colchester could have one of the worst library ratios in the country – Gazette Standard. “The town is already behind the national average with the rate of libraries to people being one per 28,000 – the average is 22,000. According to campaigners Save Our Libraries Essex, should Essex County Council’s plans to shut a third of its libraries be implemented, Colchester would have only a single council-run library per 95,000 residents. The groups says this should be a wake-up call for politicians.”
    • Letter: ‘We’ll consult again before closing any tier 3 libraries’ – Gazette Standard / Letters. Council replies to worries Colchester would be left with one library.  ” if the proposals were to go ahead unchanged this would mean Colchester had one library for every 32,000 residents, not one for every 95,000 as the campaigners and your article claims. ” … “Our plan is to keep Tier 3 libraries open and allow time for communities to develop their plans. If, in any Tier 3 location, we don’t reach agreement with communities by late 2019 to early 2020 we’ll consult again on the future of those libraries before making any decisions about them.”
    • Orwellian misuse of language on Essex library closure posters – Guardian series / Letters. “Essex library service did not consult members of the public about its plans to close libraries; it consulted them about “plans for a library service that’s modern, focused and fit for the way we live now and in the future”. Posters bearing the latter phrase appeared in public libraries across the county. It seems to me that this Orwellian misuse of language was a cynical attempt to discourage the expression of opposition to the closures. There would almost certainly have been a smaller response to a poster that asked for views on making the library service “modern”, “focused” and “fit” than to one that asked for views on the closure of libraries.”
  • Flintshire – Extra vehicle announced for Flintshire’s mobile library service – Leader. New mobile library ordered.
  • Leeds – Marketing Libraries Through Storytelling – Example of Leeds Libraries – Princh. “n the article below, we see a perfect example of how Leeds Library aligned their offline and online marketing campaigns to create awareness about resources offered at their library. As you will read below, their #whatsyourstory campaign not only generated awareness in Leeds but transcend to awareness in other countries too.”
  • Liverpool – Fears for the future of Liverpool’s libraries as more cuts on the horizon – Echo. “Liverpool’s libraries could face cuts if a delayed government funding review slices the council’s budget even further. The council has been a rarity in that it has managed not to close any libraries across the city, despite devastating government cuts since 2010. Speaking at yesterday’s Culture and Tourism Select Committee meeting, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Culture, Cllr Wendy Simon said the libraries’ services could currently continue as normal – and praised the way they had made themselves more financially sustainable.”
  • Norfolk – Library to be moved to share building with other services – and more in Norfolk could follow suit – Eastern Daily Press. “Bosses at Norfolk County Council want to move Attleborough Library from Connaught Road to a new location in the Attleborough Community and Enterprise Centre, barely 250 metres away, in Church Street. The council says it would be a pilot project for a new way of working to join up services. The library, visited by more than 42,000 people last year, would share the centre with a string of services supporting the community.”
  • Oldham – Delph Library looking for volunteers to stay open – Saddleworth Independent. “A year ago, Oldham Libraries announced they could no longer give Delph Community Association 20 hours a week support from a library assistant at their Millgate premises. DCA volunteers have run the library for 13 years following protests about plans to close it fully, and as a partnership with Oldham Libraries since 2010. Phillida Shipp, library volunteer organiser and former chair of DCA, explained: “We have been told Delph Library was getting an unfairly large amount of support for the recorded footfall.” … ““Since last March we have been lucky to gain 19 new and enthusiastic volunteers but have lost four of our existing team. The new volunteers have nearly all been trained to use the Oldham Libraries computer programme. “But we still need volunteers to work on Friday and Saturday mornings …”
  • Staffordshire – Successful applicant takes over library management – Staffordshire Newsroom. “Kidsgrove Care Solutions is taking on the daily management and delivery of services at Talke library. Under the agreement the locally based Community Interest Company, which helps adults and young people with disabilities in Staffordshire and Cheshire, will deliver the statutory library service and have access to the county’s stock and IT network, with support from officers, while the county council remains responsible for agreed utility and maintenance costs.”
    • It’s a new chapter for this library as deal reached over who will run it – Stoke on Trent Live. “olunteers will help form part of a team aiming to pen a fresh chapter for a community library. Kidsgrove Care Solutions is taking on the facility in Talke with organisers hoping to expand services and encourage more families to use the venue.” … “The county council aims to have offloaded management of 27 libraries to the community by the end of the year. Contracts have already been awarded to parish councils, community groups, and businesses enterprise organisations.”
  • Stoke on Trent – A visit to the library was a Saturday morning treat as it held the greatest treasures – Stoke Sentinel. “In this age of search engines and e-books, the humble library is facing testing times. However, there are those of us, such as historian Bill Cawley, who still hold these book-laiden sanctuaries in high regard…”
  • Sutton – Sutton: ‘New and improved’ libraries system to be launched – Sutton and Croydon Guardian. Different LMS being installed.
  • Worcestershire – Campaigners say St John’s library is ‘vital’ to local community – Ludlow Advertiser. “The group, called Save St John’s Library Services, met at the library in St John’s amid fears it will be closed or the service cut. The meeting was called in response to Worcestershire County Council’s consultation on the use of local libraries and ways to make them more cost effective.”
  • York – We will keep all libraries open, with paid staff in every one’ – York’s libraries chief – Press. “Explore York, which runs the city’s libraries and archives, has just been awarded a new 15-year contract by the city council. Stephen Lewis speaks to Explore chief executive Fiona Williams about the challenges and opportunities ahead. You may not have realised it, but for the last eight months the organisation set up five years ago to run York’s libraries and city archive has been fighting for its life.” … “y and large it has made a success of things. Explore managed to get funding to sort out and catalogue several of its archive collections – including the records of York’s workhouse and poor law union. A new Tang Hall Explore library has been opened on the site of the former Burnholme School. And, perhaps most significant of all – and in stark contrast to some library services elsewhere – none of York’s public libraries has closed, and they all still have paid staff. “