Interesting to see that the British Library, based almost entirely in one big city in the South East of England, is considering opening up a “British Library North” in Leeds. About time, as anyone can attest who has had to travel hundreds of mile to visit a place that apparently serves the whole nation but in fact is almost entirely based in London and charges the heck (or, in BL terms, “full cost recovery”) out of other libraries (don’t dare use the word “provincial”, you hear me?) to borrow something it got given for free. It’s been good to see the British Library start to wake up to its wider role in the last few years, with 13 business and intellectual property centres in libraries around the country and a group of 22 library services (out of more than 200) it works with on some projects, but there’s a lot more that it could do before I stop thinking of it in my mind as “That London Library By Euston”.

Great to see more fines being removed, with one authority going fine-free and two more removing children’s fines. Something more confusing was the debt that York Explore somehow ended up owing to the council but, that’s OK, because the council is paying them an extra amount of money to allow Explore to pay it back. I think. My head hurts.



National news

  • British and Chinese library leaders to share knowledge in Chengdu – British Library. “Public library leaders from China and the UK are to meet at the Sichuan Provincial Library and share knowledge in a two-day forum in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, at the end of March: the first such gathering of its kind.” … “The initiative is funded by HM Treasury and also includes a programme of knowledge exchange between staff at the British Library and its counterparts in China.”
  • British Library planning Leeds branch with Boston Spa upgrade – Guardian. “The British Library has embarked upon “ambitious” plans to open a branch in Leeds as part of a drive to expand the organisation’s activities in the north of England. Board meeting minutes obtained by the Guardian reveal the library has been in discussions with Leeds city council about potential locations for a facility referred to as British Library North.”
  • British Pubs Can Operate as Post Offices and Libraries, Thanks to Government-Backed Program – Food and Wine. “Launched in 2001, Pub Is the Hub is a not-for-profit organization that works with pubs that are “thinking of broadening their services.” Since 2013, the group has received government funding for its efforts — over £500,000 in total — including an additional £188,000 (about $250,000) announced this week for 76 new projects in rural pubs across England. Though the exact beneficiaries were not disclosed, the U.K. government did provide the examples of the new projects which include Post Office facilities, grocery stores, libraries, and children’s play areas (which, as a parent who lives in England, I can adamantly say is greatest thing a pub can have).”
  • Engaging Libraries: Learning from Phase 1 – Carnegie UK Trust. “he aim of Engaging Libraries Phase was to enable public libraries to pilot public engagement activities on health and wellbeing. Engaging Libraries: Learning from Phase 1 provides an overview of the 14 Engaging Libraries projects across 16 public library services, identifies factors which facilitated the successful delivery of Engaging Libraries projects and factors which inhibited some projects, and uses case studies to illustrate reflections from the programme on working with partners, new skills, knowledge and approaches and the benefits of a network.”

“Taboo breaking: Engaging Libraries demonstrated that libraries can be a space for discussion and debate about subjects which can be taboo or difficult to talk about such as death, body image and mental health. As safe, trusted spaces public libraries were the ideal venue for engaging people on tricky or touchy subjects.

Experimentation and risk: Engaging Libraries revealed that public libraries embraced the opportunity and have the appetite to experiment and be creative with public engagement activities. Libraries also worked in diverse partnerships across different sectors and disciplines.

Safe space: Engaging Libraries showed that funding opportunities can be valuable in giving public libraries the space and permission to forge new partnerships as well as build on existing links, reaping benefits for the library, its community and partners.”

  • ‘I’m an Orkney librarian driving to a school when a wave engulfs my van’ – Guardian. ” There are occasions when our mobile library can’t go out; this has an impact on more isolated people who don’t have much human contact and really look forward to it. I always feel like I’m letting them down when this happens.”
  • Public Libraries 2018: Netloan Customer Survey Results – Lorensnbergs. ” The critical importance of libraries in supporting digital inclusion and skills development continues to grow: nearly half of public libraries saw increasing numbers of customers request this kind of help (this is the second year running that this size of increase in help needed has been reported). Only one library authority this year reported a decrease”

Axiell Selflib

International news

  • Canada – The library steps up in Thunder Bay – Star. “The Thunder Bay Public Library has emerged as an unlikely hero in a city in crisis. The city’s library system offers the community much more than rows of books, microfiches and the Dewey Decimal System. It has become a leader in a city whose racial struggles are openly displayed for the world to see. Libraries have long been community hubs, places of collective learning and knowledge sharing. And this has been especially true — and especially important — in Thunder Bay in recent years.”
  • Global – Parents, Babies & Libraries – Princh. A look at rhymetimes, baby sessions.
  • Indonesia – No quiet rules at Indonesia’s flyover library – Mail. “Several years ago, the flyover in suburb Ciputat, part of Jakarta’s greater metropolitan area, was strewn with rubbish and roamed by intimidating street thugs, Febrianti said. But armed with books and paint, local organisations set about transforming its down-and-out reputation. Artists painted murals on the walls, installed planter boxes and a futsal pitch, and a library with several dozen books was built on site.”
  • USA – 7 unexpected things that libraries offer besides books – Conversation. “The Westport Free Library in Westport, Connecticut – population of roughly 28,000 – has a Robot Open Lab where the public can learn how to program robots to respond to simple commands, catch and kick a small soccer ball and even dance.” … “the library loans health equipment such as blood pressure monitors. ” … “The Chapel Hill Public Library in North Carolina offers Chapel Hill Open Data in partnership with the town. ” … “or those who want to build and fix things, Chattanooga also has an extensive hand- and power-tool collection filled with hammers, wrench sets, drills and saws among many other tools. “
  • USA – With Vaccine Misinformation, Libraries Walk a Fine Line – Undark. “Earlier this month, Hoopla — an online service that allows public library cardholders across the U.S. and Canada to download or stream movies and television shows for free — quietly pulled the documentary “Vaxxed” from its collection. The film, which peddles a repeatedly debunked theory linking vaccines to autism and claims to expose a vaccine-related coverup within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can still be found on DVD at libraries around the U.S. “

Local services by authority

  • Barnsley – New landmark library to open in July following delays in building schedule – Star. “The project, called Library @ the Lightbox, was due to open in the Autumn of last year but the project was slowed by the presence of Sough Dyke, which runs beneath part of the town centre, which caused construction problems with the foundations. It was hoped the facilities would have been open in the Spring, but the date has now been confirmed as Saturday July 13. The building replaces the temporary library, opened in Wellington Street, to replace the 1970s building in Shambles Street, demolished following public opposition to make way for the new college building.”
  • Bath and North East Somerset – Books and Maps  – Bath and North East Somerset Council. “Bath and North-East Somerset libraries will not be charging fines for the late return of books and maps borrowed from 2nd April 2019.  This includes large print books. *This is a trial to be reviewed and only applies to books borrowed in Bath and North East Somerset Council libraries.  It does not apply to items borrowed in libraries in neighbouring authorities. Overdue reminders will be issued after 7 and 21 days by email or text.  If postal overdue reminders are required a 50p charge will be applied to all categories of borrower.”
  • Birmingham – Birmingham Children’s Libraries – Designing Libraries. “BookSpace refitted the children’s libraries, independent of their associated adult libraries, adopting designs and layouts that were purposely created to be similar but respectful of each of their unique characteristics. With registered borrowers increasing by 24% amongst younger children and issue rates up 19% it’s a success story that other authorities could embrace. Each of the five children’s libraries had its own reasons for requiring a refurbishment. In the case of Kings Norton Library, it was a 100 year old Carnegie Library with the original oak shelving and a leaking roof! The brief to BookSpace was to get children, parents and carers excited about reading and books; to create a recognisably new space and to celebrate each of the libraries individual features.”

Libraries being advertised on back of bus in new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council adverts.

  • Devon – Unlimited Value: leading practice in unlimited value creation – Libraries Unlimited, University of Exeter and others. “From 2016, a research partnership including Libraries Unlimited, the University of Exeter Business School, the Real Ideas Organisation (RIO) and Open Data Institute (ODI) Devon has been worked together to understand how libraries can learn to develop a better understanding of their ‘social value’ – the difference that libraries make to the people and communities they serve. The project, named Unlimited Value, received £200,000 funding from Arts Council England’s research programme”
    • Storybook Dads receives donation from libraries – Charity Today. “Storybook Dads, the Devon-based charity that works to support prisoners in maintaining relationships with their children through stories and reading, has received £1,000 from fellow charity Libraries Unlimited”
  • Dorset – Voices: We must continue to cherish our libraries, galleries and theatres – Dorset Echo. “Literature permits people to express their emotions and thoughts to be presented to society, and society can listen to it to understand a meaning which is crafted to their emotions. Another person will view it in a different light. The arts are unappreciated and disregarded like that song that people don’t want in their heads. Our libraries, galleries and theatres are honourable establishments, and they must continue to be cherished.”
  • Dundee – Redundancies and library budget hit as Leisure and Culture Dundee agrees £860,000 in savings – Courier. £860k cut. “Board members agreed at a meeting yesterday to introduce voluntary redundancies and early retirement schemes, as well as a 10% reduction in the resource budget for books and periodicals in libraries. Staffing levels will gradually reduce at the organisation as vacancies will be “closely examined” and may not be automatically filled once an employee leaves.”
    • Concerns over potential impact of Dundee library cuts – Courier. “The warning comes after Leisure and Culture Dundee (LACD), the arms-length organisation that runs the service, announced plans to decimate libraries’ budgets this week.  The organisation has to find £860,000 to balance its budget this year and aims to do this through a combination of cuts and price increases.The cuts include reducing the resource budget of libraries – the money available for new books and periodicals – and cutting staff numbers through voluntary redundancy and early retirement.”
  • Essex – Essex Council library petition stats have been ‘manipulated’ – Gazette Standard. “The figures, published ahead of a County Hall meeting today, reveal 58,245 signatures were made across 53 petitions. The data has been broken down into petitions representing individual libraries and those jointly submitted between libraries. Others listed, such as five petitions from SOLE (Save our Essex Libraries), represent libraries in general. Wivenhoe library is listed as having just 16 signatures on one petition, despite strong opposition voiced by residents. And Brightlingsea library is not listed at all.” … “Wivenhoe resident and campaigner Rosalind Scott said more than 1,200 signatures came from the town’s online petition and at least 200 more on paper. Brightlingsea’s petitions had more than 500 signatures.”

“As you will appreciate, the consultation has not long closed and it will be some time before the evidence from it is fully analysed and brought back to Cabinet. There is a lot of work to be done to consider all the responses, suggestions and additional evidence, carry out a more detailed equality impact assessment, review the needs assessment and the strategy and identify options for the best way forward. We expect the results and final strategy to be presented to Cabinet this summer for us to decide on the future direction for Essex Library Services. I can assure you that no decisions have yet been made on the strategy and will not be made before that meeting. The library service will continue to run as is until a new strategy is adopted and implemented.” Cllr Susan Barker, Cabinet Member for Customer and Corporate Services in letter received.

  • 8,000 signatures to save Hockley Library – Leigh Times Series. “MP Mark Francois added his name to a petition of over 8,000 signatures which have been put together by local campaigners in a determined attempt to save Hockley Library from being downgraded by Essex County Council. Although the petition relates to Hockley Library, many constituents in Rayleigh have also added their names in support and the MP did so as well when he met Bob Barrett, also recently christened “Hat Man”, because he has frequently been in village and town centres over the last couple of months, wearing a very high profile hat, to assist in attracting attention to persuade passers-by to sign the important petition.”
    • Dermot O’Leary says axing libraries in Essex ‘a tragic shame’ – Gazette Standard. ““It is difficult. I am not a county councillor, I have no idea how tight their budgets are, I am sure it is the same across the board but it would be a tragic shame to get rid of libraries because of the support to the community. “Communities have to use them for their work. They are utterly important parts of the community and what they can give young minds.”
    • Plan to set aside £109k to save two libraries is unanimously backed – Echo. Basildon Council will pay to help cuts. “Council bosses say they are prepared to to fork out more than £100,000 in a bid to save two libraries from closure. Essex County Council has put about two-thirds of libraries, including Vange and Fryerns libraries, at risk as part of plans to reform the service.”
  • Gloucestershire – Town library may be on the move amid concerns it could ‘close within the next 12 months’ – Gloucestershire Live. “Stonehouse library could be relocated as part of plans to keep the service running ‘for many years to come.’ Both Gloucestershire County Council and Stonehouse Town Council are proposing to move the library from Elm  Road into the Town Hall. An investment of nearly quarter-of-a-million pound would be needed to ensure the current building is kept up to date and fit for purpose.”
  • Hampshire – Libraries taken over for Girlguiding night – Gazette. “Kingsclere and Silchester Division were among the 3,500 Girlguiding members who attended the mass takeover at 36 libraries across Hampshire which involved sleeping over at the sites. Girls from all sections had the opportunity to take part in creative, challenging and fun activities based on their favourite children’s fictional characters such as Paddington, The Hungry Caterpillar and Mary Poppins.”
    • Civic chief officially opens refurbished town library – Romsey Advertiser. “There’s a new community room available to groups and organisations, and a larger children’s library, meaning we can accommodate more customers and encourage more young readers. “
  • Hertfordshire – St Albans Library reopens – St Albans Review. “As part of the facelift, the library now has an upgraded children’s area, new computers, a bookable meeting room, and ‘CreatorSpace’ offering access to virtual reality headsets, 3D printing and digital sewing machines”
  • Kent – Cuts to opening hours at Tonbridge libraries are reduced – Times Local News. “Kent County Council will go ahead with its plans to cut library hours – but has made changes to its initial proposals which benefit Hildenborough and, to a lesser extent, Tonbridge. Under the original plan, the town’s main library was slated to lose 18 hours a week – or a third of its opening time. It was designated as a second-tier library – ‘town’ rather than ‘town plus’ – but has been reclassified as Tier One. That means it will lose 13 hours, down from 55 hours a week to 42 rather than 37.”
    • Richard Styles: Why do we need libraries? – Isle of Thanet News. “Kent County Council consulted on the future of the library service in Kent recently, and in short order decided to go ahead as planned. It does beg the question as to why they bothered, as over 2,500 individuals and organisations took the trouble to respond, seemingly, to no purpose. It does democracy and the standing of local government no good, to set up a consultation, set all the questions in a closed fashion and then pointedly, ignore all alternative suggestions”
  • Manchester – Bringing libraries to life – Arts Professional. “In Manchester, the city council’s library strategy has become more outward-facing. While keeping books, reading and information at the core, there is an emphasis on other things, including increasing participation in activities.” … “Following the growth of the Library Live programme, a natural development was to expand the model across the city-wide network of libraries. Initially, we are piloting it at three branch libraries with a programme called ‘Creative Spaces’. However, as we approached this roll-out, our vision of the expansion and the programme of activity was challenged very quickly.”
  • North Ayrshire – Consultation on future role of libraries and community centres – Largs and Millport Weekly News.  “With Council budgets coming under sustained pressure, North Ayrshire Council wants to work alongside communities in shaping the future services. To help make that happen, a working group was set up last year to develop proposals for more effective ways of ensuring people continue to access community facilities in challenging economic circumstances.”
  • Northamptonshire – Danesholme library to stay where it is thanks to Corby Council’s help – Northants Telegraph. “Danesholme library was one of the libraries under threat of closure as part of Northamptonshire County Council’s plans to only keep 19 as a statutory provision and hand over the remaining 17 to community groups. The library had been facing a move across the road from its long-term home at the end of the shopping parade at Danesholme Square into the Danesholme Communicare Centre. But after discussions from the library group with the council, the authority voted yesterday (March 26) at the One Corby meeting at Corby Cube to grant a new five-year lease to the area’s community association at a minimal rent.”
  • Nottingham – Specialist designers to be appointed for new Nottingham Central Library – Business Link. ““When we committed to a new Central Library, we committed to a better library than the existing one and the best children’s library in the country. To achieve this, it’s important we recruit specialist designers so we create something we and our children can be proud of in a great new area of the city.”
  • Oxfordshire – Banbury Library users urged to speak up to improve their health and wellbeing – Banbury Guardian. “Staff in a dozen Oxfordshire’s libraries have been trained to help turn conversations with customers into constructive lifestyle support as part of a county council pilot project”
  • Powys – Town unites in protest over library plans – My Welshpool. “A crowd in the hundreds marched through Welshpool on Saturday to send a clear message to Powys County Council (PCC) that they oppose plans to downsize the town’s library. The Save Welshpool Library march attracted around 4-500 people of all ages at its peak through the town centre, with many attending their first protest march.”

“29/03/2019: Please excuse me for copying the Town Clerk’s comment on our Page verbatim but it deserves to be spread far and wide. Robert Andrew Robinson commented-“For information: Welshpool Town Council resolved on 27th March 2019 to ask their solicitors to serve notice on Powys County Council to seek implementation of the Charter between the two authorities. This is with regard to section 5.5 which states “5.5 Reduction or ceasing of services. Powys County Council will not cut any services in Welshpool without first giving Welshpool Town Council the opportunity to consider taking over such services”. The solicitors were instructed this morning (28/03) to take the process of serving notice forward. Town Clerk.” Thank you, Welshpool Town Council.” Save Welshpool Library Facebook.

  • Rochdale – Eyes down as call goes out for book bingo – Rochdale Online. “Book bingo will challenge library users to dip into popular titles and mark their special bingo cards, with the chance of scooping cash prizes. Timeless calls like ‘garden gate’, key of the door’ and ‘clickety click’ will be temporarily shelved and replaced with varieties like ‘re-read a book you love’, ‘made into a film’ and ‘includes magic’. Players can pick and mix any book from five of 25 categories and, after completing a line, can enter a free regional prize draw with a £200 first prize.”
  • South Gloucestershire – Two authors share first place at Concorde Book Award 2019 – South Gloucestershire Newsroom. “The Concorde Book Award is a long-running ‘young people’s Booker’ run by South Gloucestershire schools and public libraries in which groups of young people read a shortlist of novels. They are then encouraged to join a reading group, whether at school or in a local library, to read six books and talk about them with other group members, before voting on their favourite title.”
    • Hanham Library re-opens to welcome South Gloucestershire’s 5,000th Open Access user  – South Gloucestershire Newsroom. “Hanham library has become the latest in South Gloucestershire’s to offer residents the use of its facilities seven days-a-week, thanks to the installation of Open Access technology. The introduction of the system at Hanham Library also marked the fact that more than 5,000 people have now registered to use Open Access in South Gloucestershire’s libraries. Since Open Access was launched in South Gloucestershire in October 2017, registered users have visited our libraries more than 40,000 times. Feedback from users has been positive, with 88 per cent of users attending the introduction to Open Access sessions saying they feel they are helpful and the system is easy to use.”
  • St Helens – Cash prize on offer for St Helens bookworms – St Helens Reporter. “Readers in St Helens are being challenged to take part in a fun game of Book Bingo at their library, alongside thousands of people across the North West. Players can choose to read any book from suggested categories, such as “a book you have always wanted to read”, and when they complete a line, they will be entered into a free regional prize draw for a chance to win £200.”
  • South Tyneside – Whitburn village library all set to re-open – Sunderland Echo. “Whitburn Library is to re-open on Saturday after being closed to enable the charity to upgrade the computer network, re-decorate, train volunteers and install new toilet facilities. The library was under threat because of cuts by South Tyneside Council but has now been taken over by the charity Friends of Whitburn Library – set up by vet Rory Thomson.”
  • Suffolk – Children’s Month: April 2019 – Suffolk Libraries. “This April will be the first ever Suffolk Libraries Children’s Month – a brand new campaign to encourage more children and families to use their local library. Children’s Month will launch next week on International Children’s Book Day on 2 April and run throughout the month, starting with a launch event at Bungay LibraryTo help encourage greater use of libraries, Suffolk Libraries is also removing overdue charges for children’s books from 1 April.  “
  • Swindon – Community library in Swindon to offer extended hours – Swindon Advertiser. “Readers who use Liden library will soon be able to go and borrow books when there are no librarians on duty. It is the first library in Swindon run by community groups or parish councils to allow the sort of extended hours access that the central libraries run by Swindon Borough Council offer, using their library card.”
  • Warrington – LiveWire launches new social club for men to combat social inclusion – Warrington Worldwide. “Burtonwood Library staff decided to organise the group after hearing feedback that local men felt there was a lack of social events and opportunities for them in the area. If the group is successful then it could potentially be rolled out to other libraries in Warrington, as needed.  Drinks and biscuits were donated by Burtonwood Co-op, Old Hall Spar and Asda Westbrook, and the men who attended enjoyed chatting over a brew and a biscuit or slice of cake. Burtonwood PCSO Neil Brown also attended the first session, to offer support and discuss any community issues. There was also the option to enjoy a game or cards or dominos and there are plans for potential other activities with the club as it grows. “
  • Westminster – Help shape the future of libraries in WestminsterWestminster Council. “We want to hear from the community, users and staff to help create a plan of action, that will open up our libraries to deliver more for future generations.” Including Connected Libraries, independent report.
  • Worcestershire – Worcester library cuts: staff not even consulted – Socialist Party. “28 people came to Worcester Socialist Party’s second, very successful public meeting over the threats to library services. A rep for public sector union Unison in Worcestershire County Council explained that although there has been a ‘consultation’ over cuts to services, no consultation has been held with staff”
  • York – York Explore, which runs city libraries, to pay back £900,000 debts – Press. “The mutual’s annual report shows that it lost about £650,000 in the last financial year to March 2018 and is likely to lose money again in the current financial year, with net current liabilities of £876,853 at March 2018. However, the report says: “Forecasts for the year ended 31 March 2020, which is the first year of the new contract, show that as a result of increased income and identified cost savings the society will make a surplus. “It has been agreed that the final balance owed to City of York Council at 31 March 2019 will be repaid over a period of four years.”