It’s election week and I know what purdah means so I’m going to keep this simple: read Leon’s article, look at the articles and then re-read Leon’s article on The Library Commonwealth. Thank you.


National news

  • Artist and author Edmund de Waal hits out at ‘vicious’ library closures – Belfast Telegraph. “One of his creations is a Library Of Exile, featuring almost 2,000 books by exiled writers from Ovid to the contemporary. But the Costa Award-winner told the Press Association that he had also been angered by the closure of libraries closer to home. “In terms of shortsightedness, to close a library in a community is one of the most vicious, violent things you can do to a community,” he said. “You take away all that space for reflection.”
  • The Bookseller’s Library of the Year Award returns – BookSeller. “The Bookseller‘s Library of the Year Award is back for a second year, following Liverpool Central Library’s win of the inaugural prize in 2018. The award, which highlights the work the best libraries of all sizes do to promote reading, literacy, information and the love of books, is sponsored by Rakuten Overdrive and W F Howes, and run in partnership with The Reading Agency.”
  • Do volunteers still have a place in museums and cultural organisations? – Apollo. “Firstly, though, let us not forget that some cultural organisations, especially museums and libraries, are largely or even entirely volunteer-run (something that helps to account for the huge surge in new museums in the UK in the 1980s). These institutions depend on volunteers for their survival. ” … “In the UK there are more and more community libraries, in which local volunteers take on ownership and management, with or without financial support from the local authority.”
  • ‘Fake news’ detection tool launches in UK – The News. “The company also confirmed it was launching a Media Literacy Partnership programme with UK libraries, which encourages them to introduce NewsGuard onto the computers used by library visitors.NewsGuard said it also planned to launch in Germany, France and Italy ahead of the European Parliament elections in May”
  • How We Work Towards A Society With No Food Banks – Huff Post. “In Lewisham we are about to open donation points at our town hall and council-run libraries to support local food banks.”
  • Library Commonwealth – Leon’s Library Blog. “This post is something of a swansong for me (although I know better than to say never again!). But I’ve been writing this blog since October 2013 and now seems the right time to take a step back.” … “Libraries are facing an existential crisis. Not because they are danger of disappearing altogether but rather a crisis of identity; who they are, what they are, what they stand for.” …. ” there is also a deeper malaise and it’s one that as a profession we all have to accept responsibility for. And that is a loss of belief in the profession itself. We have lost our sense of identity and by doing so lost our sense of purpose.” … “the damage done nationally to the underlying infrastructure will, in my opinion, take a long time to recover from. That’s assuming the political will and inclination is even there.” …. “there seems to be very little to choose from between both main parties ” …. “Suffolk and Devon, both mutuals, have recently appointed charity bosses as CEOs rather than someone with a library background” …. “far from defending the role of paid staff SCL/Libraries Connected is heavily involved in advocating for volunteer led libraries.”

“After a hundred years of support through the public purse libraries seem now to be regressing backwards to a model that is overly dependent on ad-hoc philanthropy, the good will of volunteers, a two-tier system that entrenches inequality of provision, and commercial partnerships that undermine the value of a ‘safe and trusted’ service” … “I hope and aspire towards a better future. For a strategic vision that leads towards a national approach to library services; that provides genuine oversight, development, and resources to enable libraries to be the best they can be for the benefit not only of local communities but for society as a whole. This should be the aspiration of the whole library profession and we should demand better not just from the politicians but from our own leadership.”

  • The library of things: could borrowing everything from drills to disco balls cut waste and save money? – Guardian. “ndeed, as you browse for Oxford’s belt sander (£8 a week) and projector (£10 a night), you might decide, while you’re at it, to borrow a pressure washer for the patio (£10 a day), and add a disco ball (£5 a week) and chocolate fountain (ditto) for the party. You’ll live a cheaper, cleaner, more enjoyable and more sustainable life.” … “In essence they have a simple task. Gather a good inventory (350 items so far), build a system to manage membership and online bookings (a free software package, initially, called myTurn), then staff the Lot on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and Saturday afternoons, for collections and returns.”
  • National Survey for Wales, 2017-18: Arts, museums, heritage and libraries -Welsh Government Statistical Bulletin.  “34% used a public library service in the last 12 months” … “72% of visitors to public libraries used them for borrowing or reading books” … “5% went at least once a week. “. 25% visited a library to picky up recycling bags.
  • Neighbourhood services – 10 Key Facts – Institute for Government. “Since 2009/10, libraries have borne real-terms day-to-day spending cuts of 41%.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bromley – Bromley library workers consider striking again over pay dispute – News Shopper. “More than 40 members of Unite the union are preparing to vote on taking industrial action in the latest of a long-running saga with Greenwich Leisure Limited. GLL manages libraries on behalf of Bromley Council. Unite say GLL bosses are not filling vacant jobs, and asking existing library staff to take on extra responsibility without any extra cash.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Jim Brooks Steps Down After 12 Years as Library Chair – Little Chalfont Community Library. “Little Chalfont owes a true debt of gratitude to Jim who has steered our library from a run down Council-managed library marked for closure to become one of the most successful and well regarded community libraries in the country.” … “When we started our journey in 2007 many people and in particular the County Council thought we and other fledgling Community Libraries would fail but they were wrong. “
  • Devon – Libraries Unlimited welcomes new trustees – Charity Today. “Sarah O’Brien, External Affairs Advisor at the National Trust and IT and publishing sector specialist George Lossius were appointed to the Board of trustees this month. They join a number of independent trustees as well as both staff and community trustees who set the strategic direction for Devon and Torbay libraries” … ““Throughout the first three years of Libraries Unlimited’s operation, it has become more and more apparent just how vital it is to have a diverse mix of trustees, each bringing their own vision and skills to help shape the future of our libraries and ensure we’re always providing the best possible service. I have no doubt that Sarah and George will bring valuable skills and experience to the Board. The trustees will be even more vital over the next few months as the team welcome new Chief Executive, Alex Kittow, in June of this year. I know that the trustees and staff across the county will give Sarah and George a warm welcome.”
  • Essex – This was the Young People’s March to save Essex libraries – Gazette Standard. “The march is part of a day of action across the county organised by the Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) campaign. It included speeches from the young people, who made many of the banners on show, and badges which were sold at the Colchester event.”
    • Campaign group, trying to save libraries launch “alternative” consultation – Halstead Gazette. “More than 60,000 people signed petitions against the closures, and campaign group Sole – Save our Libraries Essex – staged a massive demonstration outside the council’s HQ in Chelmsford. The group has now launched an “alternative” survey for residents. Sole spokesman Katy Vargas claimed the original consultation was “flawed”.”
    • Essex libraries closures: Children protest against proposals – BBC. “Children dressed up as book characters to march against the proposed closure of 25 libraries. Conservative-run Essex County Council is reviewing how many of its 74 libraries it wants to keep or hand over to be run by community groups. About 400 children and adults carried placards and musical instruments as they marched in Manningtree.”
    • Library cuts protest march set for Manningtree – Halstead Standard. “Manningtree and Colchester are hosting young people’s marches on Saturday in a bid to show how children will be impacted by Essex County Council’s plans to slash library services across the district. “
  • Merton – The statistics that show how libraries in Merton are thriving – My Merton. “… a report that shows how over the past 10 years, the opening hours of libraries across the borough have been extended. An annual libraries report is set to be discussed by the council’s Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel on Tuesday, April 30.” … “n Merton, there are higher numbers than most across the UK, with 545 volunteers racking up a total of 27,437 hours in 2018/19.”
  • Neath Port Talbot – Council starts library review in Neath Port Talbot to ‘provide sustainable service and make savings’ – Wales Online. “The review will look at what must be legally provided, the changing role of public libraries and operational costs as well as the relocation of services, staffing and micro-libraries” …”Four libraries faced closure under the local authority’s budget plans earlier this year but a public outcry prompted decision-makers to change their approach, leaving them under council control for another year while a review takes place.”
  • Sunderland – Free Books Given Out as Sunderland Celebrates World Book Night – Sunderland Magazine. “As part of World Book Night, Sunderland Libraries handed out 80 free copies of The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. The books were given to people who don’t regularly read or don’t have many books at home.”
  • Thurrock – Thurrock libraries presented with books in South Indian language – Your Thurrock. “Navsammajdarpan” UK-based social, cultural and voluntary organisation launched one of the South Indian language called “Telugu” kindergarten literature books for public use purposes through public libraries in the United Kingdom for free. Primarily, they are targeting Thurrock libraries and hope to expand all over the UK where the majority Telugu people live.”
  • West Dunbartonshire – Network of ‘safe places’ launched in West Dunbartonshire – Reporter. “Shops, libraries and cafes have agreed to make their premises a ‘Keep Safe’ place in an initiative run by I Am Me Scotland who work in partnership with Police Scotland. “
  • Worcestershire – Protestors meet to save St John’s library and voice opposition to cuts – Worcester News. “The protest was organised by Sean McCauley and Mark Davies, both members of the Socialist Party, and attended by more than 20 people”