Yet more “purdah”, where councils needs to be careful about what they say, due to the European elections, so it’s been a quiet fortnight. It looks, on balance, like a good couple of weeks for libraries, with no major cuts outside of Fife and a loss of a mobile in Redbridge. So I’ll include my response to a tweet from someone who should really know better in Stroud.


National news

  • Author used church event to speak up for all our libraries – Henley Standard. “Sir Philip Pullman is always a crowd-puller and the Friends of Watlington Library drew a full house of book lovers into St Leonard’s Church for a talk titled “Read like a butterfly, Write like a bee”. The talk was structured around anecdotes of Pullman’s reading experiences in libraries public, academic and private. He described libraries as places of enjoyment and discovery, where readers can stumble upon new texts and new writers, both to gain knowledge and to spark the imagination. He recommended browsing the shelves of libraries for surprise finds that broaden the mind and bring unexpected pleasure.”
  • The first-ever virtual reality Doctor Who episode is now available – Fast Company. “The full 13-minute, semi-interactive episode is now downloadable for free from the Oculus Store and Vive Port for use on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. If you don’t have a headset and happen to live in the U.K., the BBC is sharing the virtual episode with more than 40 libraries around the U.K. “
  • Discover the best Northern novels in Read Regional campaign – North Yorkshire County Council. “The campaign celebrates new must-read titles by authors from the North, who have a chance to meet readers in their local libraries through readings and book group discussions. Founded by New Writing North in 2008, the campaign is funded by Arts Council England and is produced in partnership by New Writing North, North Yorkshire County Council and 21 other library authorities.”
  • Inaugural library conference makes noise at leading festival – Harrogate News. “Up to 100 library professionals from across the country are invited to attend the one-day to be held at the 2019 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival this July.Keynote speakers include chief executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley OBE. Also speaking is leading crime author and advocate for libraries, Ann Cleeves, whose Vera and Shetlands series were adapted for ITV and the BBC.”
  • Let libraries help turn your business idea into reality – Evening Standard. “This project will invest in training local librarians to deliver a programme of free, regular workshops for start-ups, as well as tailored, face-to-face advice. It puts an accessible hub for anyone with a business idea into the heart of our communities and opens new doors to more busy Londoners with a burning ambition to be their own boss.”
  • Public libraries are not just about books. At their heart, they are about social equity – Guardian. “Working in libraries I learned so much about the city I lived in. We lose nothing by making them a safe space for the community” … “Ten years ago, I worked for two municipal library services in Melbourne. When I applied for my first library job, I thought that libraries were just about borrowing books, but I quickly realised otherwise. The role of public libraries in our communities is not confined to books – at their heart, libraries are about social equity”
  • Sally Rooney hailed as major literary talent after British Book Awards win – Yahoo. ““I’ve received such enormous support and generosity from my own publisher, Faber & Faber, of course, and also from the bookselling community generally, from libraries and librarians, and the community of people who love books.”
  • Thousands praise library assistant for epic list of things they learnt from job – Mirror. “An unnamed Twitter user took to social media on Wednesday to share a list of things that they’ve learnt about the general public while working at a library – and it’s pretty brilliant.”

International news

  • Canada – Apple saves Carnegie’s flagship library in Washington, DC – Herald. “The restoration, however, just like the strike-breaking wage-depressing Carnegie, is not without its critics. Some question question whether or not the library can remain a free space for the public while also housing a for-profit company’s flagship store. “
  • Denmark – How to Transform Your Library on a Small Budget – Vesthimmerland’s Libraries Story – Princh. “Aars Library, a small local library in Vesthimmerland Municipality in Denmark, worked intensively with the Model Programme’s principles and tools in 2015 to develop an interior design concept on a small budget and based on flexibility and anti-institutionalisation. “
  • Finland – Finland is proof that investing in libraries pays off – On Office. “Finland’s expanding library sector does more than just issue loans, it’s also providing the country’s freelancers with spacious, well-designed deskspace”
  • Global – Integrating Libraries And Museums – Princh. “this integration could present a complementary holistic service where the strengths of both platforms are fused together to provide a synergy of resources for the visitors and surrounding community.”
  • USA – Should a Colorado library publish local news? – Columba Journalism Review. “A thing like a modern library can fund news,” says W. Vito Montone, who moved to Longmont from California two years ago and is helping organize the project. “It’s just a function that belongs in modern information.”” … “What a tax-funded, library-governed local news operation would actually look like in practice is so far unclear—it’s early and the group is still hammering out ideas. “

Local news by authority

  • Barnet – Barnet  Libraries: Campaigners wary as minister clears council over controversial library cuts complaint – Ham and High. “Campaigners have reacted with dismay after a government minister rejected their complaint that changes to Barnet’s library services were unlawful.” … “Arts minister Michael Ellis MP relayed the decision, made by his boss Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, in writing to Barnet Council leader Cllr Richard Cornelius. Mr Ellis wrote: “The Secretary of State does not consider there to be any serious doubt or uncertainty as to whether Barnet Council is complying with its legal obligations to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.””
  • Bristol – Opening hours at Central Library will change from next week – Bristol Live. “From May 20 Bristol’s Central Library will return to opening seven days a week. The library in Deanery Road had been closed on Wednesdays since April 2016. But earlier this year Bristol City Council announced it would reopen the library seven days a week following a public consultation.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Awards for Bucks libraries from users – Mix 96. “Four Buckinghamshire libraries have been voted as top local family attractions by users of the family activity app, ‘Hoop’. High Wycombe Library came first and Marlow Library third in the Buckinghamshire ‘Hoop’ awards for ‘Best Free Activities’. Amersham Library came second and Princes Risborough Library third in the ‘Best local Family Service’ category. More than 100,000 votes were cast by users of Hoop which is a website for parents to find family activities in their local area.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Funding secured for beginners’ storytelling and writing workshops in Chester and Ellesmere Port – Standard. “The ‘Hear I Am’ project is an eight-week adult storytelling course for beginners taking place at Winsford, Ellesmere Port and Storyhouse libraries. The one and half hour weekly sessions will take place during the daytime and will focus on such areas as inspiration, writing, technique, style and how to perform a story in front of an audience”
  • Croydon – Shhh! Four libraries could be flogged off. Don’t tell anyone – Inside Croydon. “The report, when released last week, names four libraries – Coulsdon, Purley, Sanderstead and Shirley – as suitable for relocation or redevelopment as part of money-spinning property deals.”
  • Croydon ‘committed to keeping libraries open’ as alternative options considered – Guardian series. “Could some libraries in Croydon be run entirely by volunteers, moved to new locations or even closed completely as funding cuts bite in the borough? This was the crucial question put to Croydon Council’s  cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, Councillor Oliver Lewis after a presentation at Tuesday night’s (May 7) cabinet meeting. But he said the council is committed to keeping libraries open and is spending more money on books and refurbishing the borough’s 13 libraries over a ten-year period.”
  • Derby – Historic former Derby library building up for sale – Derbyshire Live. “A building which once housed one of the most popular libraries in Derby has gone on the market after the city council decided against carrying out £1.5 million urgent repairs on it. Instead, Pear Tree Library has transferred out of the Carnegie building where it opened in 1915, to St Augustine’s Community Centre where almost £800,000 is being spent to improve facilities. It is expected to re-open in the near future.”
  • Durham – £2m leisure centre and library in Peterlee to re-open next week – East Durham News. “Peterlee Leisure Centre will reopen to the public next week following a major improvement programme that has included the relocation of the town’s library.” … ““As well as a range of new books, the new library is furnished with modern seating and shelving. It will also offer free wi-fi and computers with internet access.”
  • Essex – Protestors sang “we love our libraries” during Galleywood march – Time series. “500 joined the first protest march in Galleywood’s history. Residents came together to say no to the planned closure of their library. Children were joined by their parents, grandparents, and many other Galleywood residents.”
    • Authors and poets join campaign to save Essex’s libraries – Clacton Gazette. “Children’s book author Michael Rosen has joined the growing list of prestigious writers who have voiced their concerns against Essex County Council’s proposal to close up to 44 libraries in the county.”
    • Labour’s Tom Watson calls for inquiry into Essex County Council’s library closure plan – Gazette Standard. “The council is planning to drastically reduce its library service, closing 44 of its 74 libraries to save £2 million. If these plans go ahead, they will cause huge social and cultural damage to communities, while saving what is a relatively small sum for the council. The strength feeling in the community is clear. More than 50,000 people have signed petitions against the plans and recently hundreds of people protested against the cuts across the county.”
    • Letter: Launch a public inquiry into library proposals – Clacton Gazette. “The strength feeling in the community is clear. More than 50,000 people have signed petitions against the plans and recently hundreds of people protested against the cuts across the county.”
    • “No statistical evidence” suggesting Tory election poor showing influenced by library closure plan – Dunmow Broadcast. “Essex County Council leader David Finch said there was no evidence to suggest the library plan influenced the voting intentions of the electorate. He said: “I don’t think there is any statistical evidence to support the assertion that there was a significant impact in terms of the local election by the libraries consultation.” The Tories suffered heavy losses across the county in the local elections.”
  • Fife – Cuts to Fife school library service mooted amid £600,000 budget cuts -Courier. “Council leaders David Ross and David Alexander said they did not plan any cuts to the service, which delivers collections of books to primary schools across the kingdom to support the curriculum. The controversial move has been mooted by Fife Cultural Trust, which is facing more than £600,000 of budget cuts over the next three years. In an email to staff, seen by The Courier, the trust warned the savings would have the biggest impact on frontline services. The library service and small museums and heritage centres were among the areas at particular risk and staff have been informed. It is understood voluntary redundancies and redeployment of workers are being examined.”
  • Flintshire – Funding boost for Flint Library – Leader. “Aura Wales recently secured £300,000 of funding for improvement works at Flint Library which was through a successful capital grant application to the Welsh Government’s Museums, Archives and Libraries.In addition to the £300,000, both Aura Wales and Flintshire Country Council will also contribute to the development, totalling £360,000 in new investment.” … “The current training rooms and main library will also be redesigned and transformed in order to create more flexible community spaces”
  • Hertfordshire – Work to move Redbourn and Wheathampstead libraries to fire station goes over budget – Review. “n 2014, the county council secured £700,000 from the Home Office for plans to relocate Sawbridgeworth, Buntingford, Redbourn and Wheathampstead libraries in their local fire stations. Buntingford Library was dropped from the plans at an earlier stage, due to local opposition. Now Sawbridgeworth Library will be removed from plans even though the decision not to go-ahead could cost the county an estimated £233,000 in lost funding.”
  • Kent – Tonbridge Library upgrade continues with adult education boost – Times Local News. ““It is notable that Kent has kept every single one of its 99 libraries open.” The facility had faced a cut of 18 hours to its opening times, from 55 hours to 37 – a reduction of one third – under proposals to save money. But following a public consultation, it has been designated as a ‘large town’ library and will now see a reduction of 13 hours, to 42 hours a week.”
  • Lancashire – Preston’s Harris library will not be affected by change of control, councillors told – Lancashire Post. “Users of Preston’s Harris library will not notice any change in the quality of service when day-to-day control shifts from Lancashire County Council to Preston City Council. That was the message from Peter Buckley, member for cultural services at County Hall, as the cabinet approved a proposal to create a single staff team responsible for all aspects of the Grade I-listed building.” … “The change is part of a plan to develop the UK’s first “blended” library, museum and art gallery.” … “The city council will be given control over how the Harris library operates, but an agreement will be put in place to ensure that it remains “consistent” with Lancashire’s other libraries, which are all run by the county council.”
  • Lincolnshire – Library services set to expand in Metheringham after take over of building – Sleaford Standard. “Metheringham has ambitions to expand its library services after being gifted its community library building by the county council. Metheringham Parish Council has announced the news about the hand over after a year of negotiations with Lincolnshire County Council. The Parish Council now owns (on behalf of the community) both the old NHS clinic part of the building and the library part, as well as all of the surrounding land they are located on.”
  • Milton Keynes – Council shortlisted for national ‘caring’ award over its commitment to the Milton Keynes community  – MK Citizen. Co-operative Council of the Year Award: “Organisers say that while many councils have been cutting back, Milton Keynes has bucked the trend and continued investing in new facilities for its communities. In particular, the council has been recognised for keeping all libraries open and building a new £1.2m library in Westcroft while 127 UK libraries have closed.”
  • North Yorkshire – Get involved in futuristic design at Pickering Library – North Yorkshire County Council. “There will be all kinds of creative tech kit made available at the library in Pickering, including small, programmable computers such as Raspberry Pi, Micro:bits and robotic Lego. The library will also be hosting a BBC Virtual Reality Pop-Up Hub, which will showcase a brand new BBC virtual reality experience.”
  • Northamptonshire – Library campaigners have ‘grave fears’ about future of some under-threat libraries Northampton Chronicle. “Library campaigers say they have ‘grave fears’ about the future of some of the 17 Northamptonshire libraries which will be handed over to library groups. Northamptonshire County Council’s cabinet made a decision yesterday (May 14) to move ahead with a plan to only keep 14 of its 36 libraries and hand over another 22 to community groups, five of which will be given statutory protection.”
  • Oxfordshire – Winners revealed in Oxfordshire Libraries’ short story competition – Oxfordshire County Council. “A love story triggered by a provocative car sticker and a tale of magic and suspense involving a necklace with spiritual powers have been chosen as the winners of Oxfordshire Library Service’s Short Story Competition 2019. Burford School sixth-form pupil Becky Davies won the Young Adult Category with her intriguingly-titled entry, Your Friendly Neighbourhood Bacon Lover. And Jane Cammack, from Witney, captured the Adult prize with her story about The Talisman. Both stories will now be available for any library user to read for free on the Overdrive eBook service – the county’s digital library which sits alongside its network of 43 libraries.”
  • Redbridge – Plug pulled on Redbridge mobile library service – Ilford Recorder. “Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure confirmed it was decommissioning the borough’s mobile service as its 14-year-old bus was in need of replacement and it can’t afford the £300,000 price tag. Angela Banner of Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum said the news is sad for older housebound people and risks creating greater isolation after the borough’s meals on wheels service was axed in 2017.”
  • Staffordshire – Project to transform church into new Lichfield Library wins architectural award – Lichfield Live. “The £1.4m project saw the in Grade II* listed former church building converted into a library and tourist information centre on the ground floor, with a versatile gallery, heritage and performance space on the first floor.”
  • Wakefield – Changes to library fees in Wakefield as new charges brought in -Wakefield Express. “Businesses will now have to pay a £20 fee for displays and exhibitions advertising their activities, while a separate £3 charge for putting up posters within libraries has also been brought in. “Non-commercial organisations” will also have to pay for displays and posters, at half the prices charged to businesses, but community groups will not have to pay anything.” … “However, late fees for books are not increasing, and neither are charges for printing.”
  • Worcestershire – Latest ‘save our library’ protest takes place this weekend – Worcester News. “The group is calling June 6, ‘Library D-Day’, as this is when the authority’s libraries consultation goes to the county council cabinet for consideration. Ahead of this, the group’s latest protest is to be held tomorrow, which is going to include a march through St John’s beginning at 11am, and returning to St John’s Library, Glebe Close, by 11.45am for speeches.”