Archive for July, 2019

Go (North) West


So we have a new prime minister. Oh well. Moving on …

It’s great to see another library service going fines-free. Well done to Oldham, which is now the fifth in the North West alone to remove a key barrier to equality and usage, and the fourteenth in the UK as a whole. Also, in the North West I’m also delighted that Warrington – which went through an absolutely disastrous consultation about cuts a few years ago but has since come good – is looking to the future and that Manchester continues to go great guns. Elsewhere, outside of that region, things are less good, with ongoing drama in Northamptonshire and Essex as well as strike action brewing in Bradford.


National news

Opening the Book have been thinking

  • Libraries as a statutory service – DCMS. Useful information including how to complain about a cut library service.
  • Library closures scandal: parents urged to book a library trip in the summer holidays – Express. Mainly the Reading Agency press release but also Konnie Huq says “As a mother-of-two, I am all too well aware that public libraries can be a godsend during the long break. Feeling stressed before and during the summer holidays is all too common for many parents. Finding things to do and making sure your kids are enjoying every minute of their time can be a pretty full-on occupation. The Summer Reading Challenge is a fun, free activity for children which encourages reading for pleasure by providing access to books through local libraries.”
  • Library systems in use in UK library authorities – Local Government Library Technology. List of all library services with their provider, previous provider and consortia if applicable.
  • ‘Loss of library market making publishers risk-averse’, says Ann Cleeves – Bookseller. “Giving the closing keynote at the National Library Conference, held in Harrogate on Friday (19th July) as part of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Cleeves called on her audience to be “disruptive, subversive”, in supporting the library service, saying:  “We need libraries more than ever – when there is a danger fake news may triumph, we need places where truth is told; and when we are riven with disagreement we need places where we come together to discuss our differences reasonably; we also need a place to escape.””
  • Magus of the Library Volume 1 Review – Anime UK News. “Magus of the Library, from publisher Kodansha Comics, is a relatively new series (only three  volumes in Japan so far), which promises to show us why libraries and books are so important. Set in a fantasy world, it aims to both teach and entertain with a collection of quirky and lovable characters – but does it deliver? Let’s find out!”
  • PM speech at Manchester Science and Industry Museum  – BBC. Boris Johnson said “… And we’re now going to have a £3.6 billion Towns Fund supporting an initial 100 towns. So that they will get the improved transport and improved broadband connectivity that they need. They’ll also get help with that vital social and cultural infrastructure, from libraries and art centres to parks and youth services: the institutions that bring communities together, and give places new energy and new life …”
  • Use of Volunteers in Public Libraries – Sheffield University. “I’m completing an MA degree in Librarianship and I’m currently carrying out my dissertation research on ‘The Use of Volunteers in Public Libraries’. I am looking for paid staff working in public libraries across the UK to complete a short online questionnaire on the topic of volunteers in libraries.”

International news

  • Canada – Vancouver Pride bans library from parade over event featuring ‘transphobic’ activistCBC. “The pride society says the decision is a result of the library allowing “transphobic and anti-sex worker speaker Meghan Murphy” to book space for an event on Jan. 10.” … “The VPS said it recognizes the role of libraries as hubs for public debate and free thought, “but not past the point that the speech is discriminatory based on protected grounds.”
  • USA – ALA denounces new Macmillan library lending model, urges library customers to voice objections – ALA News. “The American Library Association (ALA) denounces the new library ebook lending model announced today by Macmillan Publishers. Under the new model, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in ebook format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to libraries.”
    • Crowds rally for Drag Queen Story Hour: ‘It just shows how far we’ve come’ – Reno Gazette Journal. 600 attended. “Many waved rainbow flags and held posters that read: “Jesus wore a dress,” “Hate is a drag,” and “All are fabulously welcome.””.  One man protested. Library Deletes Photos of Children Fondling Drag Queens During ‘Story Hour’ – Breitbart. Drag Queens Are Bringing Families Together at Public Libraries Across the U.S. – Them. ““It came out of a community need I was hearing from parents about their kids being bullied for … not fitting into rigid gender stereotypes,” says Mills. Working with colleagues, they created a curriculum rooted in acceptance and kindness, collaborating with family-focused Pride events.”
    • Linkedin to libraries: drop dead – Boing Boing. online learning, used by many US libraries, is now moving to “LinkedIn Learning” … “If libraries accept this change, it will mean that any patron who uses this publicly funded service will also have to have a publicly searchable Linkedin profile. Linkedin’s explanation of why this is OK is purest tech-bro PR … condescending and dismissive. “
    • How To Promote a Library Event on a Small Budget – Princh. “Effectively managing the budget of the library is an important and continuous task. Any strategies to help promote library services, raise awareness for libraries and attract library visitors at a low cost are enticing for libraries to review and potentially implement. Egor Gerashchenko, chief of Marketing & Development Department, Central Library System of Moscow Region shares his experience in this blog about how he was able to effectively and successfully promote an event that attracted a substantial number of visitors, and media mentions at a very low cost. Read below to see how Egor was able to do this.”

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Aberdeenshire libraries to act as NHS hearing aid battery collection points – Mearns Leader. “Patients are reminded in order to receive a pack of batteries from their local library they must produce the NHS Audiology Booklet or leaflet that they have been given by their hearing aid consultant as evidence they are entitled to this service”
  • Bradford – Frustration as details of museum and library cuts still to be revealed – Telegraph and Argus. “Members of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee had expected to learn more about what the vital services would look like after their budget is slashed when they met in City Hall on Wednesday evening. But they were instead told that details of closures, shake ups or job losses would not be revealed until September at the earliest.”
    • Strike action could be on the cards for Bradford library and museum staff – Wharfedale Observer. “The Unite union has announced it is holding a consultative ballot of its 50-or-so library and museum members in Bradford district to see if they wish to proceed to a full-scale industrial action ballot. Union bosses have accused Bradford Council of regarding libraries and museums as “soft targets” and said it should be “ashamed” of attacking “low paid, mostly female workers”.”
  • Brent – Library Operations ManagerSalary range: £42,684- £45,585 “This is a critical role in the successful running and development of the library services. The post holder will be responsible for effectively managing the senior staff at each branch and will ensure the smooth operation of our premises. Based at The Library at Willesden Green, the post holder will also be responsible for the hires officer, contracts and partnerships in the centre, generating opportunities for the service to develop and generate income. Developing new partnerships within the community and the Council, and ensuring the service continues to perform at a high level are also key responsibilities of the post.
    • Library Stock Development ManagerSalary range: £35,724 – £38,799 “This is a key role within the library management team, responsible for effectively managing the stock budgets, collections and supplier relationships. Collection development is an important aspect of the role and it is a priority for us to ensure that our stock continues to meet the needs and interests of our residents. The pos tholder will also take a lead on the effective promotion of the library stock, through staff development, campaigns and community engagement. Management of the Home Library and Community Outreach stock services also falls within the remit of the role.
  • Bridgend – Change to library services in Bridgend – Llantwit Major Today. “The reference library in Bridgend is set to move to Maesteg to pave the way for further development on the Sunnyside site.” … “Plans going before Bridgend County Borough Council’s cabinet on July 23 would see the local and family history service move to Y Llynfi Library at Maesteg Sports Centre on a temporary basis. It would then move to Maesteg Town Hall after its planned £6m redevelopment has taken place. Council officers said the library at Maesteg Sports Centre was the only suitable and cost-effective location for the service. The reference library receives around 6,000 visits a year.” … “the local authority said it needs to reduce the management fee payable to Awen by £150,000 between 2019 and 2021, based on reviewing the number of libraries and reductions in services or opening hours.”
  • Devon – ‘The rest was history’ Carol celebrates 20 years in the library – Sidmouth Herald.
  • Essex – Essex council which U-turned on library closures signs off plans – BBC. News. “A county council which saw celebrities back a campaign against its plan to shut libraries has signed off a five-year strategy for its loan service. But campaigners say they are still no clearer how this plan will operate.” … “On Wednesday, the council confirmed it was still seeking volunteers to keep the small branches open.”
  • Lancashire – Preston’s Savick Library shuts temporarily after problem is discovered with ceiling – Lancashire Evening Post. “Although we haven’t got a definite date for the library to reopen yet, we will do all we can to make sure that this happens as soon as possible. “
  • Manchester – New Chairperson appointed to lead Manchester City of Literature – Manchester City Council.
    • Spirit of Manchester” statue to tour Greater Manchester libraries – Manchester City Council. “After spending time on display at libraries in each of the ten Greater Manchester boroughs, the statue will end its tour at Manchester Art Gallery, where it will remain on view until it takes up permanent residence at Manchester Town Hall, which reopens to the public in 2024.”
  • Moray – Letter to Moray Council – CILIPS. Concern over opening Moray libraries up to the open market. “Our concern is that the above process may lead to library services being delivered in ways that may affect the local community’s ability to access an adequate public library service as required by the Local Government Act, particularly if the model that was ultimately pursued was one where library services were to be delivered by fewer paid and trained staff and without adequate Council funding”
  • Northamptonshire – Investigation at Desborough Town Council after conflict of interest allegations – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Kettering Council’s monitoring officer has commissioned an investigation after a complaint by a Desborough resident concerning seven of the town’s councillors also being involved in the Desborough Library and Community Hub which is asking for a large grant from the town council.
    • Extraordinary meeting this week about whether town council should buy Desborough library – Northants Telegraph. “Desborough Town Council is holding an extraordinary meeting on Thursday (July 25) to decide whether it should put up £210,000 from its own funds to help buy the building in High Street from Northamptonshire County Council”
    • Hope for nearly all under-threat Northants libraries – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Northamptonshire County Council says that it has had business plans from 15 of the 17 libraries which will no longer receive statutory protection after the cash-strapped authority decided to reduce its library earlier this year. Just Higham Ferrers Library and St James’ library in Northampton are still to have a concrete proposal, with the authority saying it has extended the deadline to try to ensure the libraries remain open.”
  • Oldham – Always getting library fines? If you live in Oldham, it won’t be a problem for much longer – Manchester Evening News. “Over the past two decades, 14,000 people have had their library membership restricted due to long overdue books and outstanding fines. Town hall officers say large numbers of residents came from some of the most ‘deprived wards’ in the borough”

“Axing fines is not expected to lead to a loss of stock, Coun Fielding said, adding “Quite frankly, if you were going to steal a book and never return it, you wouldn’t be bothered about the fine anyway.””

  • Oxfordshire – Oxfordshire libraries raise profile with little help from Friends – Oxford Times. “More than 20 Friends groups are now active across Oxfordshire County Council’s network of 43 libraries, helping to extend opening hours and putting on a host of events. The first Friends group was formed at Stonesfield Library in 2013 and hundreds of volunteers are now involved across the county.” … “Having a Friends group not only helps ensure that the community and library users have a voice and can engage with us on how library services are delivered, but also helps to foster the sense of community ownership and pride in the library facility. “
  • Redbridge – Residents feel ‘blackmailed’ into backing Gants Hill hub plans but Redbridge Council says it is trying to save libraries – Ilford Recorder. “Our concern is that if the residents say no to a new hub and flats, this administration will close our library and blame residents and government cuts when the truth is they find funding for plenty of other things,””
  • Southampton – How Southampton City Libraries are helping hundreds of people with digital skills – Digital Unite. “We proactively recruit Champions via posters and on our website and ask them to commit around two hours each week. Following a short interview process we give them access to the training on the Digital Champions Network. We now have 11 Digital Champions in nine libraries, 4 are retired and 2 are studying. The teaching activity varies across our branches depending on the demand by residents and the availability of our Champions. “
  • Warrington – New three-year plan to transform borough’s libraries – Warrington Worldwide. “At the heart of the strategy is the mission to make Warrington libraries “valued community spaces that make a positive difference to the lives of the people that use them and to make them “welcoming spaces for all, offering the opportunity for reading, learning, enjoyment, reflection, calm, safety, creativity, insight and inspiration.”

Universal Offers reduced to four, or possibly increased to six


Thank you everyone for a strong response to my article last post on the purpose of public libraries. I include some of the responses below. By coincidence, the Universal Offers have just been reviewed and give an idea of what library services are expected to actually do. Thank goodness that there are now fewer Offers – I had feared that they would grow in number and barely anyone can remember the old list now. There are now just four, although two are combined (Information and Digital, Culture and Creativity: with “Creativity” being new) so there is a case that the number has actually increased to six by stealth. The last one, Health and Wellbeing also has an “and” in it of course, because for some reason just “Health” is not enough of a buzzword. So the  public library service is still expected to do a very wide spectrum of things with very little actual focus. However, I personally am delighted that “Reading” is, thank goodness, still on its own and at the top of the list.


Purpose of libraries

“… I entered the profession (as it was then…) at a time when outreach was accepted as an important part of the library remit. However its role was to draw people into libraries so that they could be introduced to the books and information waiting there and that they might not otherwise have crossed the door to see. Recently it has seemed that these activities which were once a hook have become the sole purpose of the service, and as you rightly say are competing with other organisations providing similar things either more or less successfully but certainly not differently. You query the paternalistic intentions in the founding of many libraries – I would also say that libraries then actually expressed pride in the achievements and aspirations of individual towns and communities, and a thriving and well stocked library was one example of a prosperous community. I don’t think there can be any question that books (hard copy or digital) and unbiased information are any less needed now than they were a hundred years ago. The National Literacy Trust website offers stark figures regarding the literacy levels in the UK, and it is known that (like children’s reading levels over the summer) adult levels fall post formal education but can be restored with practice. This is apart from all the benefits of broadening the mind, dispelling prejudices and thinking laterally which reading can encourage. By letting access to library materials decline the world of fake news and its perpetrators increase their influence to the detriment of us all.” Retired library manager.

“I wouldn’t attempt to answer the question “What problem are libraries designed to solve?” because it is too limiting. As well ask what problem universities are designed to solve!  Public libraries exist so that everyone can have free access to existing human knowledge. Problems of recording and preservation are (with a few limited exceptions) the remit of other libraries and other organisations, but freedom of access (place, time, cost) and expert guidance are very much the province of the public library.” “Erstwhile school librarian”

“I totally agree with your editorial below: At [a conference] I had the same feeling; delegates were confronted with a plethora of 3d printers, toys, self-publishing, etc that seemed to be peripheral to the core library mission of providing free content across a range of formats. The fact that a) most people don’t know what libraries have and b) don’t know how to access it seems to be lost on much of the library leadership, who seem to be trying to do a thousand different new things at once – mostly badly. If they were to stick to their knitting and focus on marketing their free content and training users and staff in getting to it, they would engage more users, increase usage, and have a good story to tell funders.” Library supplier

“If people don’t “get” someone’s message, what needs to happen in order for connection to be made? The fault is rarely if ever 100% with the recipient… “like parks, but for information and culture” is as close as we’ve got yet (and even that is pretty hard external sell) … [Public Libraries News] is the most thought through.” Matt Finch

“I was thinking (again) and if organizations that have a clear purpose are being cut and under some threat – making big generalisations here – what hope for libraries? We’re good at talking ourselves up between ourselves, but where’s our elevator pitch for the wider world?”

“Something I was playing with today was that the library is a place to explore ideas; the problem it seeks to solve is what is it to be human. Novels ways to explore different viewpoints, meeting place to exchange & debate, creative activities to express & try out ideas.” Twitter.

“Interesting but narrow take on what a public library is for. For me it is simply “helping people to help themselves” Darren Smart

National news

  • Backlash grows against unstaffed libraries – Guardian. “East Finchley is one of about 150 libraries across the country now using “open library” technology to introduce unstaffed hours. This means you can access buildings, even if there are no library staff present, with your library card and a pin number and use self-service scanners to return and check out books.” … “There are clear benefits, but some argue that a library without a librarian isn’t a library at all. “It’s a folly … it is dishonest to represent this as a library service when taxpayers have paid for a quality service with a librarian,” said Nick Poole, chief executive of the UK Library Association.”
  • Drag queens oust God from the reading corner – Conservative Woman. “While God is being ejected from the reading corner, libraries are engaging badly made-up middle-aged men in frocks to read stories about sexual diversity to children. “
  • Four refreshed Universal Library Offers announced – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected today launches their refreshed Universal Library Offers, which demonstrate work that every public library service does to enrich the lives of individuals and their communities. The four revised offers are: Reading; Digital and Information; Culture and Creativity; Health and Wellbeing.
  • Is LIS research important to information professionals? – Robert Gordon University. Questionnaire for an MSc in library and information studies.
  • Nielsen Book to sponsor Libraries Week in two-year CILIP partnership – BookSeller. “Nielsen Book has joined forces with library and information association CILIP to sponsor its reading campaign alongside National Libraries Week in a new two-year partnership. The deal, announced today (17th July), sees Nielsen get behind Libraries Week, which this year focuses on the facilities’ future in a digital age and runs from 7th to 12th October. It will also support the Building a Nation of Readers campaign, which is attempting to bring together authors, publishers, booksellers, distributors and libraries to identify challenges to reading and potential collaborations.” …”A separate deal, also announced today, will also see Libraries Week sponsored by Rakuten OverDrive, a digital reading platform for libraries and schools.”
  • Philipa Coughlan meets Stephen Booth – NB Magazine. “My local library was a lifeline to me when I was growing up. It was not only where I discovered a love of books and reading, but it gave me a great start to my early education. I don’t think I’d be where I am now, making a living as a writer, without the existence of that little branch library. So I’m very sad when I see them closing. I do a lot of library events now as an author, and the situation is very patchy in different parts of the country. Some areas are losing most of their libraries, while others, like Nottinghamshire, have managed not only to survive, but to thrive. So we know it can be done. But it often comes down to political will on the part of particular local authorities, who too often see libraries as a ‘soft target’. I think it’s very short-sighted, as a good library puts far more back into the community than it costs. I have high hopes that Nottingham can do something splendid with its new central library. It’s a UNESCO City of Literature after all – and if any city should have a wonderful flagship library, this is it.”
  • Project: To what extent do Members of Parliament engage with public libraries in their constituencies, and how does this shape their perceptions of libraries? – University of Sheffield. “I’m a Masters student at the University of Sheffield currently working on my dissertation. I’m investigating how Members of Parliament engage with the public libraries in their constituencies, and am attempting to get responses from both Members of Parliament and frontline library staff in West and South Yorkshire. “
  • We have libraries that are under-utilised – why not revamp them as centres for women in business?‘  – Daily Telegraph (behind paywall). Libraries should offer private space to women who want to start businesses, MPs report say – Daily Telegraph. “In a bid to boost female entrepreneurship in post-brexit Britain, the group say that libraries should be “used more widely across the UK to provide the home of business hubs including specific support for women owned businesses.” The All Party Parliamentary Group for Women and Enterprise says that “there is a national decline in the traditional use of libraries”, but the “unique reach and accessibility” of the buildings can attract a more diverse audience and host business support services.”

International news

  • Australia – How public libraries can help prepare us for the future – The Conversation. “Long-term planning is always challenging. It’s simply impossible to gather data from events that haven’t happened yet. Sometimes we may detect trends, but these can fall apart under what some foresight experts call “TUNA conditions”, when we face Turbulence, Uncertainty, Novelty or Ambiguity. Think of someone trying to predict that experiments with debt on Wall Street would lead to the global financial crisis and the political ripples that have followed. Think of trying, today, to foretell all the long-term consequences of climate change … Enter scenario planning”.
  • Canada – Online critics poke fun at Canada ‘warship’ library – BBC News. “The building – still in the midst of its revitalisation – is being compared to a tank, a battleship, even a deceptive dating profile picture. The criticism is centred over its current form compared to some original architectural renderings. “How did we get from A to B? Embarrassing. It’s so ugly,” said one Twitter user.” … “Another said: “Don’t judge a book by its cover. And don’t judge an unfinished building by its cladding.” Others pointed out that residents were lucky to “to live in a city that loves libraries” regardless of what the building looks like.”
  • Eire – Libraries across country to get funding for educational support– RTE. “Funding of €650,000 from the Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2019 has been allocated to libraries across Ireland. The money will be used to provide supports for marginalised and socially disadvantaged communities.”
  • USA – Free Book Vending Machines Launched Across All NYC Boroughs – CBS New York. “When you think vending machines, it’s usually chips and soda. But these are filled with free books, and they’re for everyone, reports CBS2’s Cindy Hsu. The idea is to promote reading for toddlers to 14-year-old readers, especially in under-served communities” … ““They can take as many as they want, they are free. One hundred percent, and you don’t have to return them,” “
  • USA – Libraries Must Draw the Line on E-books  – Publishers Weekly. “We have reached a tipping point. Access to digital content in libraries is more than a financial issue; it is an equity issue. Ask yourself this: if libraries are effectively shut out of performing their traditional roles in the digital realm, do you trust Amazon to be the public’s open nd fair discovery engine?  To those who are truly stakeholders and champions of libraries, I ask you to weigh in and stand with us. And I challenge all librarians and library supporters to think about what our next steps will be.”
  • USA – National conference teaches librarians how to sneak drag queens past parents – Lifesite News. “The conference was held just as disturbing stories came to light across the country about Drag Queen Story Times (DQST) held in public libraries.”

Local news by authority

  • Barnsley – New Barnsley library opens in £180m regeneration project – BookSeller. “A new state-of-the-art library has opened in the centre of Barnsley as the “cornerstone” of a £180m regeneration project. Part of the Glass Works scheme, the new facility officially opened its doors on Saturday 13th July with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a poetry reading by Ian McMillan. The four-storey library is situated in the Lightbox building, which has a transparent glass exterior designed to illuminate Barnsley’s new town square.” … “Each of the floors provide digital services including cutting-edge virtual reality, a training suite with a 65-inch interactive touch screen and tablet computers. Fully accessible, it also includes a sanctuary room for people with autism and will host a music and memories group supported by the Alzheimer’s Society, designed for people living with dementia and their carers.
  • Bexley – Diversification sees boost in library visits – Bexley Times. “Visits to libraries in Bexley have soared by 45,000 compared to last year … “The Libraries at Night project was a great success earlier this year and along with our annual BookBuzz festival, the activities put on at all of our libraries bring all sorts of people in. Author visits, comedians and even live rock music are all part of the fun.” He added: “Our Crayford Library is home to a post office, Welling Library offers freelance or start up office space – The Workary – and the Central Library is home to our Local Studies and Archive Team. All our libraries run special sessions and clubs that range from ‘Bexley Battle Gamers’ to ‘Gardeners Coffee Club’. These are just some examples. Our community libraries continue to be busy and by managing their own time and programme have branched out in ways that would not have been possible before.”
  • Brent – Preston Community Library is ‘highly commended’ in The Booksellers prestigious awards competition – Brent and Kilburn Times. “The volunteer-run Preston Community Library (PCL), in Carlton Avenue East, has been recognised in The Bookseller Library of the Year 2019. They are the first community library to ever be shortlisted as the competition usually recognises publicly funded libraries. Volunteers celebrated its shortlisting on Sunday by awarding its annual certificates of excellence to children who entered The Saman Shamsie Young Writers’ Challenge”
  • Bromley – Bromley libraries: Council meeting halted after public outbursts – News Shopper. “Bromley library protesters forced a council meeting to be halted this week after calls for a review of the controversial service were pushed back until September. Two members of the public shouted “you’re a disgrace” at councillors as they proposed pushing back a debate on Greenwich Leisure Limited’s management of Bromley’s libraries. Workers are currently on indefinite strike over pay and vacant job posts, claiming they are being asked to act as management with no extra pay to fill gaps.” … ““The service is being run into the ground and that is not what was promised. We cannot continue to ignore this situation.” In response, council leader Colin Smith pointed out that the contract with GLL is already set to be reviewed at a scrutiny meeting in September. He said: “Naturally we would argue and rebut much of that, but there is little point tonight. The contract is being reviewed in September. I move no further debate tonight and we take it in September.”
  • Cumbria – Barrow Library will be hosting a BBC Virtual Reality experience throughout JulyEvening Mail. “The national tour has been devised in partnership with the BBC, Libraries Connected and the Scottish Library and Information Council. The experience will give members of the public the opportunity to try out new virtual reality experiences with state of the art headsets supplied by the BBC.”
  • Essex – Campaigners’ challenge over £18k library promise – Gazette News. “County Council bosses were unable to tell campaigners and councillors where proposals to give volunteers £18,000 to run libraries had come from. Council leader David Finch and culture boss Susan Barker were quizzed about the figure at a scrutiny meeting. Under the proposals any community-run libraries will be given a grant of £18,000 split across three years. But campaigners demanded to know how the council had reached the figure, when they say it can cost more than £30,000 a year to run some services.” … “The council employs around 660 staff across 225 full-time equivalent roles. Mrs Barker said: “If nobody comes forward we still need those 660 people.”
    • Everything you need to know about Essex County Council’s new library strategy – Gazette Standard.
    • How to run a library campaign: Save Our Libraries “Emma Batrick, a SOLE organiser, explains how the campaign has grown and how it is now organised. Andrew Coburn – a CILIP member, Library Campaign Treasurer, former Essex library services employee and longstanding UNISON officer – gives a professional view of the workforce.”
    • Josephine Backman Juliff, 11, key to Essex library success – Chelmsford Weekly News. “he Hamilton Primary School pupil made it her mission to spread the word about the importance of the service. And Josefine has been instrumental in giving young people a voice in the discussions. Josefine, who starts secondary school at Paxman Academy in September, also went out of her comfort zone to give an impassioned speech to more than 600 people. Josefine didn’t stop there decorating a window at her home with information on how to save the libraries and giving out leaflets.”
    • Library decision is ‘closure by stealth’ – Bishops Stortford Independent. ““I would say this revised strategy is worse than the proposed one. It represents a stealth closure of the library service across swathes of the county – a service that ECC is statutorily obliged to provide,” said parish councillor Daniel Brett. “Until and unless they agree to funding staff and maintaining stock, computers and staff at Stansted library, the fight for the library is not over.”
    • MP Sir Bernard Jenkin praises Manningtree community for efforts to save libraries – Harwich and Manningtree Standard.
    • Tendring Council promise no libraries will be closed – Clacton and Frinton Gazette. “A motion by Labour group leader Ivan Henderson, which calls on the county council to rule out the closures or any reduction in opening hours of public libraries in Tendring and to instead concentrate on making better use of them as community hubs was passed unanimously. “
  • Hertfordshire – Chance to use Berkhamsted’s library without a librarian – Mix 96. “The new system – known as ‘open+’ – replaces the traditional library membership card with a swipe card and PIN system.” … “Despite the change, the traditional opening hours at Berkhamsted – when the library will be staffed by a librarian – will remain the same. But the ‘open+’ system will allow users to access the building for an extra 31 hours a week.”
  • Manchester – Museum pieces find new home during Manchester redevelopment – Jewish Chronicle. “Items from Manchester Jewish Museum will be displayed in Central Library pop-up while permanent premises are closed for reconstruction” … “Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham will open the pop-up on July 15 and it will be open to the general public from the following day. “We’re thrilled to be moving into such a busy and prestigious venue,” museum chief executive Max Dunbar said.”
  • Norfolk – New King’s Lynn library business support scheme launched – Lynn News. “The Business and IP (Intellectual Property) Centre at the London Road building is the first of three hubs to be set up around Norfolk, following the establishment of a similar centre in Norwich.”
  • North Yorkshire – Library of the Year: Harrogate Library triumphs on nine-strong shortlist – BookSeller. “Harrogate Library’s energetic approach and packed programme has seen it become a real centre of the community, with a strong track record across the board: with children, with older teenagers, experienced adult readers and library newcomers alike”
  • Oldham – Oldham Libraries to create three ‘Libraries of Sanctuary’ – Oldham Council. “The £47,000, awarded from the Control Migration Fund (CMF) – the Home Office Funding – earlier this year, will be used to build better community relations and foster good community relations, which will benefit the whole town. Free courses, classes and activities will be developed, including English conversation classes and cultural activities. Monthly community activities will also be on offer alongside a wealth of volunteering opportunities to increase volunteering at libraries and in their local area.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries launches the first ever celebration of the county’s library service– Suffolk Libraries. “The first ever Suffolk Libraries Day will take place on Saturday 12 October 2019, at the end of National Libraries Week. Special events will be taking place at all 44 of our libraries, with the aim of showcasing everything libraries have to offer the community. The day will also raise funds to support the county’s library service.”
    • Chantry Library given £15,000 makeover – Ipswich Star. “Large parts of the work at Chantry Library, which has been open for 52 years, were paid for by its Friends group of volunteers who fundraised for the improvements. The Friends of Chantry Library spent £892 on a new carpet for the children’s area, £371.31 on new black out blinds and £2,190 of painting of walls inside the premises. New furniture worth £11,906.30 in total was paid for out of Suffolk County Council’s library reserve fund.”

The purpose of a public library, Essex and the rest of the public libraries news


A sort of congratulations to Essex for backing down a bit on closing libraries. The protests against the deep proposed cuts there has been impressive, with all sorts of protests going on, ranging from marches to gaining celebrity endorsements. The council has been a bit taken aback, it looks like, from all this but it’s conciliatory response still includes volunteer libraries. The reaction by campaigners has noted this and complained about it. This story does not have a happy ending yet.

As expected, my daring to issue a press statement from GLL about the Bromley strike led to attacks on social media, with the very first tweet being from a now definitively ex-friend snidely suggesting I was in the pay of the leisure trust.  I notice the CILIP response to an open letter, also about GLL as it happens, states that it won’t talk about the letter on social media and I can quite understand why.

I have been off ill again this week, which is very annoying on all sorts of levels. Apart from, well, being ill, It has stopped me doing a bunch of work for a start, left me with an abiding dislike of doing nothing and delayed me writing about the CILIP conference and doing some more work on the Bromley dispute. But I have got better enough this weekend for me, after I was challenged on the issue, to have a think about the purpose of public libraries. And I think this purpose thing is important because we are as a sector a bit rubbish at explaining what it is, which is a bit of a downer when we are trying to persuade people of our cause. So have a look at my thoughts below and see what if you agree. I’d be fascinated to hear your responses.


The purpose of public libraries

I was challenged a few days ago to explain what problem public libraries are designed to meet, which got me thinking. Once up a time, of course,  the answer was simple. It was a very Victorian paternalistic desire to provide reading, study, job-seeking and other “betterment” services to the “deserving poor“. The system set up for this was above all local, due to the knowledge that the expected clients could not afford to travel long distances.

Nowadays, we still do much of the same stuff, although we would recoil at using such patronising Victorian descriptions. However, we have also added a ton of other stuff that has on the face of it only a tangential relationship with what we did before. These include council services, theatre shows, preschool entertainment, community centre style offerings, village hall style room bookings and social groups. Basically, there’s not been a service yet that the public library service can seemingly say no to.

This is fine in a way in that the sector is still addressing the central need of  providing resources to the resource-less: social groups for the lonely, theatre shows for those without a theatre, training on how to use the internet etc. That’s all good. It’s also a strength in that it means the service is definitely changing with the times.

But some of this is highly questionable and smacks of us trying to look busy. After all, community centres do community centre stuff better, theatres do theatre better etc. Sometimes, this search for replacement activity results in libraries trying to muscle into these services while perfectly good and better alternatives exist nearby.

But the main problem with this Jack Of All Trades approach – just look at the universal offers sometime –  is that the service has greatly expanded its remit while at the same time the budget has substantially shrunk. This has led to a lower quality service overall, notably on the book side but also on the building quality and staff side as well.

Don’t get me wrong. As purposes go, “resources for the resource-less” is a pretty long-term and lofty goal. If Labour eventually gets its act together and wins an election then it is hoped by many that we will be showered with money and everything will be OK. If not then it means an increasing need to muscle in on funding previously given to the health sector, the cultural sector, the charity sector and, well, probably the kitchen sink sector too. But I think the major problem with this catch-all approach is that as long as librarians fail to put a limit on their ambition then they will forever find the funding wanting.


  • Call for proposals – Game Library Camp. “Do you have ideas on the use of games in libraries that you want to share, games you want to test, questions you want to explore? We are pleased to open the call for proposals for workshops and talks at Game Library Camp 2019. “
  • Cressida Cowell: New Children’s Laureate wants to ‘take on TV’ – BBC. “Boosting creative writing in schools and halting the decline of primary school libraries will be the focus of her attention in the first instance. ” … “Cowell said that despite many attempts by previous children’s laureates, “no-one has answered the question, ‘If your children can’t afford books and you don’t have a public library… and your primary school library has closed, how can you become a reader for the joy of it?’”
  • Labour won’t just end austerity, it will enrich people’s lives – Guardian. Shadow chancellor of the exchequer writes. “It would be wrong to think of this as just being about the bare essentials of life. In recent years, spending cuts have led to the neglect, privatisation and even closure of public libraries, parks and leisure centres. Not only does this undermine social ties, it can – to those without the means to pay – deny access to a rich cultural life.”
  • Libraries boost UK economy and diversity aside from culture, report claims – Museums and Heritage. “In the period between January 2016 to December 2018 the British library’s Business & IP Centres helped facilitate the creation of 12,288 new businesses and 7,843 additional jobs, according to the new report.” … “We look forward to partnering with even more libraries up and down the UK to create innovative hubs for aspiring entrepreneurs, as we work towards our goal of opening 20 Business & IP Centres by 2023 and expanding business support to high streets via branch libraries,” he added.”
  • Libraries told to focus on books as lending slumps – Times (partial paywall). “Lending rates have dropped at much faster rates than in the United States or Australia, with people in England borrowing on average fewer than three library books a year.”. Report notes librarians point to deep budget cuts then quotes Tim Coates saying UK librarians “partially to blame” for focusing away from books.
    • English library borrowing plummets while US remains stable – BookSeller. “Coates said: “25 to 30 years ago the public library sector in the UK, which means the leaders of the profession, the local and national politicians and government officers responsible for the service, consciously and deliberately allowed the number of books available for lending in public libraries to fall. It happened in every council.  “
  • Library of the Year: Harrogate Library triumphs on nine-strong shortlist – Bookseller. “North Yorkshire’s Harrogate Library has won The Bookseller’s Library of the Year Award 2019. A further eight libraries are also celebrated on the shortlist, unveiled today, including a school library and a specialist audiobook library.” … “t won on a shortlist which presented strong competition: two Scottish libraries (newly refurbished Montrose Library and high-achieving Shetland Library); an outstanding school library in Solihull’s Arden Academy; Eltham Library, with its literary play space for children, The Enchanted Story Garden; Libraries NI, the only full library service to be recognised this year; the unique London Library, with its impressive lending collection; and audiobook library Listening Books. For the first time, The Bookseller’s Library of the Year shortlist also includes a commendation for a volunteer-run library,”
  • Library workers ‘put heart and soul into service’ – Unison. ““In Camden, libraries we have the most reported incidents of violence and aggression across the council,” she said. She  recounted her experience of an incident where a library member was banned after a malicious download onto the library’s computer system. But as he was being escorted out of the building by a colleague from security, “he said: ‘Look what I’ve got’ and pulled out a gun. “Imagine if I’d have been a lone worker.”
  • NAG Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant Launched – National Acquisitions Group. “his new grant aims to enable public libraries to take forward an innovative project, which may have already had a pilot phase, and develop it further.  One award of up to £5000 will be available, depending upon the strength of your application.”
  • National Libraries Conference aims for ‘continued survival’ of service – BookSeller. “A National Libraries Conference, due to take place later this month, featuring authors and publishers aims to ensure the service’s “continued survival” in a digital age, organisers say. Staged in Harrogate at the Old Swan Hotel on 19th July senior librarians from across the country will be joined by industry experts and leading authors. Keynote addresses will come from chief executive of Arts Council England, Darren Henley and best-selling author and libraries advocate, Ann Cleeves.”
  • Public Libraries – House of Commons Briefing Paper 5875. “This Paper gives a brief overview of the provision of library services in England, the role of the Secretary of State, and the work of the Libraries Taskforce.” … “Since 2010/11, library net expenditure excluding capital charges has declined by 36% in real terms from £1.15 billion to £741 million in 2017/18. Between 2004/05 and 2009/10 spending in real terms declined by 4%.”
  • Response to open letter to CILIP – CILIP. Response to complaint about GLL being allowed on the “Employer Partner Scheme”. “It is perfectly normal for membership associations to maintain relationship-based memberships for both institutions and individuals – to the respective benefit of both.” … “With regard to your broader points, CILIP has no formal mandate to intervene in any 3rd party labour dispute. ” … Use of the word “Partner” may be dropped … The issues you raise are important and while we are satisfied with the overall structure of the Employer Partner Scheme, it is clear that there is more to be done to clarify how the scheme operates and to allay any concerns members may have. … Given the reductive nature of social media, we do not feel that it is helpful to rehearse the discussion about this letter (which is openly available on our website) further via twitter, although we will of course always do what we can to support individual members.”
  • “Summer Reading Challenge kicks off as one in three parents say reading slips in holidays – BookSeller. “One in three parents say regular reading with their children slips in the summer holidays, according to a Reading Agency survey ahead of this year’s Summer Reading Challenge. To mark the Summer Reading Challenge’s 20th anniversary, The Reading Agency and libraries are calling on families to make space for reading over the summer by setting aside time each day to read together. According to a Reading Agency poll of 1,500 parents from across the UK,  90% of parents and carers reported routines ‘slip’ over the summer, with regular reading, bedtimes and healthy eating all disrupted. “


  • Canada – What’s changed since St. Paul ended library late fees? Usage bolstered while overdue rate holds steady — so far – Twin Cities. “The library tracked circulation specific to the 42,000 patrons with formerly blocked cards. That group checked out 19,000 items — evidence that going fine-free actively drew them back to the library. From January to March, circulation system-wide increased by a fraction of a percentage point — 0.06 percent, to be exact. That may not sound like a lot, but the numbers had been trending downward until then. The uptick represents the first circulation increase since a series of library renovations drew patron interest in 2015, and the first uptick since 2009 not attributable to a branch remodel or reopening. Overall, seven of 14 branches saw at least a 1 percent increase in circulation. Two libraries in particular saw double-digit increases in circulation, and both are located in low-income, high-minority neighbourhoods. Circulation at the Dayton’s Bluff branch went up 15.5 percent. Circulation at the Arlington Hills Library, also on the city’s East Side, went up 13.1 percent.”
  • New Zealand –  How New Zealand libraries are adapting to the 21st century – Stuff. “We love our libraries, hard” … “Following the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes – and the Christchurch mosque attacks – people flocked to their local libraries. “What we saw in response to all these events was how much the local library was the place to go for community, for manaakitanga, for aroha, for a safe, caring place for people to be. People come to the library looking for sanctuary,” says Cuttriss.”
  • USA – ‘Utter Insanity’: Activist Mommy Launches Petition After Kids Crawl on Drag Queen at Library Story Hour – Christian Broadcasting News. Talks about a programme to “indoctrinate” children.

Local news

  • Aberdeenshire – North-east libraries to become testbeds for rural entrepreneurship – Mearns Leader.  “The Library Innovation Network Aberdeenshire (LINA) has been developed in partnership between Aberdeenshire Council and Robert Gordon University (RGU) to create modern public library spaces with networks of resource for local entrepreneurs and small and micro businesses.”
  • Argyll – Opinion: LiveArgyll is inspiring people in Helensburgh – Helensburgh Advertiser. “LiveArgyll is a charity set up by Argyll and Bute Council to run leisure and sport facilities, libraries, halls, community centres and sports pitches across Argyll and Bute.” … “There is much going on within our libraries under LiveArgyll, with the Space Chase Summer Reading Challenge during the summer holidays. New activities are also in the pipeline including storytelling, T-shirt design and clay modelling for kids to enjoy. Opening hours in the library are increasing to permit people to visit during lunchtimes. Residents who can’t visit the library in person can now use the new Borrowbox ebook and eAudiobook service.”
  • Ealing – Ealing Library Strategy – Ealing Council. Cut from £4.431m (2019-20) to £2.8m (2021/22). £1.64m cut. Greenford and Wood End to be co-located and closed, Hanwell to be co-located, Pitshanger to volunteers
  • East Sussex – Plans for volunteer-run Polegate library – Sussex Express. “Last year the county council agreed to Polegate Town Council (PTC) taking on the former library building in Windsor Way and running it on their behalf. Under this agreement PTC would have paid ESCC for all staffing and running costs to operate the library with the same services and facilities as other East Sussex libraries. However PTC informed ESCC in February it no longer wanted to progress with a service level agreement. Instead it proposed a community library operated by the Polegate Community Library (PCL), which has been formed from a management group that was exploring community library options for PTC.”
  • Essex – Letter: Leader must think we were born yesterday over libraries U-turn – Gazette Standard. “When asked the question why the council had made a U-turn on its decision to reduce the number of libraries in the county, he obviously became agitated, took on an air of self importance and suggested no such thing had taken place” … “Never in my life time have I seen such an outburst of oppostion to the intimated loss of libraries. Mr Finch and his councillors became very concerned as to their futures in politics.”
    • Campaigners call for guarantees over library staffing – Clacton Gazette. “Labour’s Julie Young suggested the move was a “need to save seats, not libraries”. She called for the libraries to be manned by paid County Hall staff. Thousands of people responded to the consultation, took part in protests and signed petitions. County Hall saw more than 21,000 responses, 1,000 letters and more than 50 petitions handed over. Susan Barker, councillor responsible for customers and culture, said: “Our future libraries strategy has changed drastically due to what people told us.”
    • Campaigners in new bid to save Essex library services – BookSeller. “In an 18-page report commissioned by Save Our Libraries Essex (SOLE) without payment, Al Baghal said the survey used a number of leading questions that increased the chances of getting a positive response to the council’s plans.”
    • Essex library U-turn after celebrity-backed campaign – BBC. “Conservative-run Essex County Council had considered shutting 25 of its 74 libraries but leader David Finch has announced there will be no closures. However, the authority said volunteers would be sought to keep several smaller libraries running. Campaigners said they were cautious about using volunteers and wanted to see detailed plans.” … “An additional £3m will be invested in libraries over the next five years, Mr Finch said.”. Non-aligned councillor says “”[It would not have happened] if it was not for the public pressure, Save Our Libraries Essex, members of opposition and the Conservative councillors who have said something in private.”
    • Expert criticises reliability of ‘questionable’ libraries consultation – East Anglian Daily Times. “A leading expert in survey design has criticised the methodology of Essex County Council’s libraries consultation – prompting campaigners to call for a new one.” … “His findings identify various problems in the design of the council survey, saying it includes ‘leading questions’ and ‘complex questions, with difficult wording’ which “could lead to possible confusion’ with participants.”
    • Libraries saved as people power wins – Southend Standard.
  • Hertfordshire – Herts County Council appoints library service operator – but won’t say who it is yet – Watford Observer. “Hertfordshire County Council has selected the organisation it wants to deliver library services across the county. But – in line with EU procurement rules – it will not yet reveal whether the winning bid came from its own ‘public service mutual’. In October the county councillors decided to contract out library services, as part of a drive to save £500,000 without impacting on library services or improvements. And, at the same time, they agreed to set up their own organisation – a ‘public service mutual’ – that would submit a bid.”
  • Lincolnshire – Cleaner, greener, smaller mobile libraries to hit Lincolnshire’s roads – Sleaford Standard. “New, environmentally-friendly mobile library vehicles are to be introduced as Lincolnshire County Council works to become carbon neutral by 2050. The authority’s three large mobile libraries are coming to the end of their life and need to be replaced. In future, the council will be using smaller, environmentally-friendly vans to serve 234 stops across Lincolnshire, meaning less space for such a wide range of books stocked on board. To make sure communities have easy access to books between visits, the county council is approaching a number of parish councils to offer a collection of books to be based within the local community.”
  • Suffolk – What is digital borrowing? And why is it more popular than ever in Suffolk – East Anglian Daily Times. “Suffolk Libraries has revealed that in the past five years eBook and eAudiobook loans have risen by 151%. The news comes after data revealed that the number of physical book loans from Suffolk libraries had been dropping over the same period. According to Suffolk Libraries the total number of loans across all the formats offered by the library has increased by 2.5% in the past year alone. One area of real growth has been eAudio books: loans of these have increased by 50% in the last year.”
  • West Sussex – Library bans a playgroup from an under-fives ‘rhyme time’ session after complaints the children were singing about God – Mail. “A library has banned volunteers from a church-run playgroup from an under-fives ‘rhyme time’ session after complaints that the children were singing about God. Helpers from the Noah’s Ark group in Burgess Hill would visit the West Sussex town’s library once a month to sing songs about Bible stories.”. Council says “‘In Burgess Hill a partnership was formed with a local faith group some years ago before rhyme time sessions were offered across all libraries. ‘We have been very grateful to this group for their support but following feedback from families, we have decided to bring these sessions in line with the other Rhyme Times in our libraries which are led by staff. ‘Families can continue to access faith-based activities in community venues and library staff are very happy to help anyone looking for details of where they can join these.’”
    • Closing the library will leave a gaping hole in the heart of the community – Mid Sussex Times / Letters.  “For a year in 2013/14, I was able to volunteer with the library service and the children and family service to help deliver boxes of books to rural preschools. I learnt then how hard the librarians and volunteers are working to keep a vital service open and accessible to all. Of course, libraries aren’t just for the young, they are for everyone. I for one can say that if Hurstpierpoint were to lose its library, it would leave a gaping hole in the heart of our village. These cuts must be stopped.”
    • Further housing support cuts suspended — but reductions to West Sussex’s library service still on table – Littlehampton Gazette. “The libraries at risk would all be from the 13 rated as tier 6. They are: Angmering, Arundel, Broadwater, East Preston, Ferring, Findon Valley, Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Petworth, Pulborough, Southbourne, Southwater and Witterings.”
  • Wiltshire – Pop-up community banks proposed for Salisbury – which could see them in libraries and leisure centres – Salisbury Journal. “Cabinet member for finance Councillor Philip Whitehead called it an “exciting” initiative that could see pop-up banks launched in leisure centre and libraries in the county. “
  • Worcestershire – All libraries across Worcestershire will remain open despite staff cuts likely – Redditch Standard. “libraries across Worcestershire will remain open despite County Council chiefs admitting staff cuts are still likely.” Open Plus to be used.

Both sides of the argument – GLL, book issues and volunteers


Trusts tend to get a bad press on library social media, and GLL due to its size more than anyone else. There’s an open letter against it included below and there’s currently strike action going on in Bromley, which is one of its services. In the normal PLN tradition of trying to cover both sides, though, I will mention here that GLL has ended lone-working in Dudley at no extra cost to the council and has included below a response on Bromley. If you feel the need to get angry at me for including these things, you are welcome to comment below but remember first the need for sharing information is part of the profession’s job. And that goes for both sides, and not just the one you agree with. This is also true for Tim Coates, who many of us have disagreed with for attacking the UK librarian profession at every opportunity. I include his chart on US, Australian and book issue trends here for you to make up your own mind. For me, the reason is fairly obvious – cut the bookfund and you cut the issues – but make up your own mind as to why.

I greatly enjoyed, as ever, the CILIP Conference this week, of which more at another time but I was saddened, after listening to a spirited talkthere, that the Libraries Change Lives Awards will not happen this year. Let’s hope they come back stronger than ever next year.

Right, good news bad news time. Havering have announced 5 libraries could be volunteer run and West Sussex have announced they may get rid of a mobile library and other services as part of a £500k cut. On the other side, Lewisham have cancelled deep proposed cuts and Nottinghamshire have rearranged opening hours for a slight increase. Being I mentioned volunteer libraries, I discovered on Thursday – while talking to an Austrian librarian – that 80% of their libraries are volunteer run and have been for decades, with a tier of government offering substantial training to ensure volunteer librarians are up to standard. Being that there are no standards in England even for paid staff, it seems unlikely that such a thing will happen here.


National news

  • An open letter to CILIP’s Board of Trustees – Various librarians. Protest letter concerning CILIP working with GLL. “Firstly, we are asking CILIP to provide more information on how Employer Partners areg ranted this status. Itis unclear how the process functions and whether adequate procedures are in place to ensure due checks, balances, and oversight are consistently undertaken” … “library workers in Bromley are currently engaged in indefinite strike action against GLL” … “We would also like to raise our concerns over CILIP’s partnership with the MoD”

“GLL has run the library service in Bromley for 18 months – during which time we have prioritised ways to make services better, providing nicer buildings, better stock, good ICT, more staff on the frontline and more activities. We are sorry that, despite these efforts, Unite has, for the fifth year in succession, called for strike action across Bromley Libraries. We understand that this year’s dispute relates to a 6% pay claim and unfilled vacancies. In their latest leaflet, however, we read that Unite is saying that we have cut budgets by 25% and that we are attacking library services. These statements are factually incorrect.

We are ambitious for the library service in Bromley: we have made significant investment to upgrade ICT in libraries since the start of the contract, and are now embarking on a major refurbishment programme of libraries in the Borough to make them lighter, brighter and more welcoming. This is alongside maintaining excellent stock levels and developing the activities programme. Throughout the strike, libraries across Bromley have opened as normal.

We are happy to resume negotiations with the union on condition they agree to meet the standards and performance we have committed to delivering as part of a modern library service.” Statement from GLL on Bromley, received by email, sent in response to statement above.

  • Libraries Change Lives Award – CILIP. “the Libraries Change Lives Award is on hold for 2019. ” … “It’s not been a decision lightly taken, but the award needed a refresh in both structure and reach. It’s so important that the amazing work the Libraries Change Lives Award team do reaches all library and information workplaces, and that meant a breather was needed to examine” (Dawn Finch via Twitter)
  • LibrariesDeliver Campaign Launches to Activate the Public about Libraries and Librarians – CILIP. “In an effort to raise awareness and make a meaningful, long-term impact on the future of library funding, CILIP and the EveryLibrary Institute today announce the launch of LibrariesDeliver, an advocacy campaign that connects people from across England in support of their libraries. The core of the campaign is, a new GDPR-compliant advocacy website designed to activate and connect an extensive network of individuals and advocacy groups about library funding and use. On library supporters can sign up to become part of the campaign, pledge to support libraries, create and field petitions about funding, donate to support libraries, and become better organised and connected.”

Chart from Tim Coates, who says: “In this country, local and national politicians and senior members of the library sector have argued for two decades that the advance of the internet and availability of eBooks have led to an inevitable decline of the need for libraries to provide books. Those responsible have reduced book collections and caused libraries to concentrate on other activities. The chart shows clearly that such a decline has not taken place in either Australia or the United States, and that therefore it was not inevitable at all. The reduction of traditional library service has led to the decline in use. There has been a continuous failure of public library strategy particular to the UK and it still goes on.”

  • The day the e-books stopped working – BBC. “Consumers who bought ebooks via Microsoft’s online store are losing access to their libraries.” … “Although many readers will not have even realised Microsoft had made a third run at the industry, experts say the cut-off serves as a reminder that you do not actually own a copy of most digital purchases outright but rather have purchased a licence that can expire.”
  • Social Capital for Libraries – Princh. “Unlike financial capital that depreciates with use, social capital actually grows the more it is used. Reach out with information about what libraries are doing and how they can be supported to do more. Reciprocity happens! No, it’s not simplistic thinking. What librarians make happen to others, they will help to make happen to libraries. However, when our intentions are solely to ‘use’ people to achieve what we want, it can backfire badly.”
  • ‘A network of infrastructures’: Exploring Public Libraries as Infrastructure By Louise Rondel, Laura Henneke and Dr Alice Corble – CUCR Blog. Academic look at Idea Store Whitechapel, Idea Store Watney Market and New Cross Learning.

International news

  • Australia – Libraries After Dark: a public health pilot – Medium. ” If Libraries offered a regular late night opening with activities and learning opportunities and a social get together this may divert people at risk of a loss spiral at the local pokies. In essence it was designed to encourage people to move from the local gambling lounge to their community lounge — their local library…”
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – The Love of Books: The Brave Librarians of Sarajevo – Al Jazeera World. “”The culture of our people, the identity, the history of Bosnia, for centuries in one place. And suddenly it was being swallowed by the fire and the flames,” says firefighter Ismet Tucak, who responded to the blaze at the National Library. Fearing the Gazi Husrev-Beg library would be attacked next, Jahic’s staff took the momentous decision to move their most precious works to safety. Dodging Serbian snipers and street violence, the small band of book-lovers – including the cleaner and the Congolese nightwatchman – moved the manuscripts, one box at a time, to preserve a valuable part of their written history.”
  • Canada – Library won’t partner with group planning to screen films about police brutality – CBC. “ssues of brutality, racism and militarization within police forces. Alex Khasnabish has arranged several film screenings at the library in the past and had been allowed to use the space for free.  But he said he got an email from the program manager at the library saying there were concerns about this year’s film choices and asking that a police representative be added to the accompanying panel discussions. “
  • Finland – Kuopio City Library ditches protective plastic covers for books: “This is climate action” – Uutiset. “nly scientific libraries housed books without protective plastic covers. “This is a groundbreaking thing,” gushed Rauha Maarno, Managing Director of the Finnish Library Society, who claimed that no public library in Finland has done this before Kuopio. And, it’s not just good for the environment — the new practice could save money and time too, Koistinen said. Books that no longer need to be covered will make their way to the libraries faster than before. The money saved can be used to acquire new books.” [This goes directly against my experience, where a jacketed book will happily last 40 issues while a non-protected one dices with tearing at every issue – Ed.]
  • France – Stanton Williams wins hotly contested French library job – Architects Journal. “‘In a time when local libraries and community centres here in the UK are being closed and under increasing budget pressure, the new Metropolitan Library in Clermont-Ferrand is a bright example that there is faith in the importance and transformational power of access to literature and culture that our cities and communities need more than ever.’”
  • Israel – Long Overdue Resolution Finally Passed – Times of Israel. Applauds removal of Dewey name from library award.
  • USA – Peitition: Tell U.S. libraries to stop pushing ‘drag queens’ on our kids – Life Petitions. “LifeSite and Personhood Alliance are combining forces to combat the new and twisted phenomenon of the “Drag Queen Story Hour” taking over America’s libraries.” and N.J. library planned a ‘Drag Queen Story Hour.’ Then came 2 days of nonstop phone calls – Leigh Valley Live and A library canceled an LGBT prom after backlash. Then a church stepped in – Washington Post. “The Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church in Jacksonville stepped in and held the prom Friday, the same night as the original event at the neighborhood’s library. “It was the right thing to do,” Grace Repass, the church’s past president, said in a statement to The Washington Post. “The LGBTQIA+ youth in our community deserve to have their prom and we wanted to support them.” and Breast ‘binder raffle,’ drag show held at public library for ‘Teen Pride’ – Christian Post.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – North-east libraries to help support economic growth – Evening Express. “The Library Innovation Network Aberdeenshire (LINA) will combine creative co-working spaces with library facilities to help local entrepreneurs and small and micro businesses. “It is being developed by Aberdeenshire Council and Robert Gordon University (RGU) and funded by the LEADER Scottish Rural Development Programme.”
  • Buckinghamshire – You can now hire out your own tablet at Aylesbury Library – Mix96. “All you need is your Buckinghamshire library card and PIN to release a Hublet for up to two hours, completely free. The Hublets are ready to browse the internet using the library’s wifi and are preloaded with some favourite apps.”
  • Dudley – Staff boost for libraries across Dudley – Worcester News. “Libraries across the Dudley borough are to receive a boost in staff numbers, in a bid to improve footfall, security and customer service. Coseley, Cradley, Gornal, Long Lane, Lye, Netherton and Wordsley libraries will receive more staff so that at least two librarians will be on duty at any one time. Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), which runs libraries across the borough, put the boost into force on July 1 to end lone working for staff”
  • Ealing – Ealing Libraries Need Our Help – Unison. “Ealing Unison led the lobby of the council meeting on Tuesday 11th June 2019 at the steps of Ealing Town Hall. Over 150 people from the local community, including Librarians, library users, young and old and Ealing Trades Council, assembled to send a message to Ealing Councillors that we value and use our Libraries across the borough …” … Lobby of cabinet meeting 16 July.
    • Save Our Seven Libraries by Akuba July 2019 – YouTube. “Inspired by the Save Our Seven Libraries UNISON-supported campaign I wrote this poem to first highlight the impact of Tory austerity poilicies since 2010 on library provision in the UK and the Labour party’s official response to them through the Shadow Culture Minister, Kevin Brennan’s response. I also point to the paradoxes in being part of a Unison-backed campaign that is challenging the Ealing’s Labour Council’s Draft Strategy Libraries Proposal 2019 – 2023 to cut its Library Service and use community volunteers to make savings due to central government funding reductions. The Campaign to Save the Seven local libraries under threat of either being closed or handed over to voluntary organisations will conclude at the Council Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 16th July. “
  • East Sussex – County pulls plug on plans for Ore community library and says it wants to sell off the building… – Hastings in Focus. “A bold claim from last April that Ore Library had been saved for the community – seen by many at the time as an electioneering stunt – has come to nothing. Worse still it looks like East Sussex County Council now plans to sell off the old library building which could dash all hopes of ever seeing it re-open as a community facility. This week East Sussex County Council announced it was puling the plug on attempts to reach an agreement with Ore Community Association about re-opening the library, a spokesman said: “A year ago we agreed in principle to lease the former Ore library building on a peppercorn rent to the Ore Community Association for a community library to be provided at the site.”
  • Essex – Letter: Tiny town that roared its protest – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Manningtree, often described as the smallest town in England has chosen to ignore its diminutive size, assert itself and stand tall; in March of this year it held the largest and possibly most successful of the Young People’s Marches for Libraries, across Essex.”
    • Letter: Tories sending mixed messages on library cuts – Times series. “We understand the library services may need to evolve and they may, for example, need to link in more with some of the work being done by local councils to help strengthen communities and combat issues such as social isolation. But this will require the support of Essex County Council to continue, rather than to be cut. There is also the issue of sustainability to consider. Increasing numbers of people are now trying to make more environmentally- friendly choices.”
    • Stansted Parish Council renews call for ‘proper library’ – Bishops Stortford Independent. “A community-run library for Stansted has been ruled out by parish councillors who want Essex County Council to stick to its promise of providing a new facility for the village. And they are calling on their county councillor Ray Gooding to fight their corner when it comes to deciding on the library’s future as he sits on the cabinet which will ultimately decide its fate.”
  • Havering – Havering Council consultation: Have your say on community-run libraries and new ‘community hubs’ – Ilford Recorder. “The proposals are for five of the 10 libraries in the borough – Collier Row, Elm Park, Gidea Park, Harold Wood and South Hornchurch – to become community-run with some support from the council. This means they would be run on a day-to-day basis by community groups, but they would remain in their current buildings and still receive financial and strategic support from the council.”
  • Lancashire – A new chapter for Chatburn Library as closed down facility reopens – Advertiser and Times. “Locals, schoolchildren and civic dignitaries gathered to celebrate the reopening of a village library that closed three years ago. Chatburn Library officially unveiled by County Coun. Albert Atkinson is the latest library to be reopened by Lancashire County Council. The county council’s cabinet agreed a proposal earlier in April this year to reopen the library and reinstate the running of it from Chatburn Church of England Primary School, on Sawley Road.”
  • Lewisham – Slight increase in opening hours  – News Shopper. “the authority will now work up a new proposal to plug the hole in the library budget, after development proposals were not found to make enough income. In the meantime it will fix the urgent problems with the Lewisham Library building – including its leaking roof, which are threatening its archives. “
  • Liverpool – Pools, parks and libraries – the facilities at risk as Liverpool heads for financial cliff-edge – Liverpool Echo. “Like many struggling cities – particularly those in the north of the country – Liverpool has been living hand to mouth for the past decade, borrowing, applying for funding and making its own investments in a bid to continue the basic services that citizens need and deserve.” … “the lack of clarity around the future funding settlement means those in charge of culture are getting nervous. Cllr Simon said: “There are no plans to make any changes to the library services at the point. “Looking into the future, it would be disingenuous for anyone to say anything is absolutely safe.” Cllr Simon admitted that the council has already had to ‘significantly’ reduce its replacement of books at facilities across the city.”
  • Merthyr Tydfil – Use of Merthyr Tydfil’s libraries increasing year on year – Wales Online. “Members of the council’s governance scrutiny committee heard that usage of libraries has gone up by about 10% in the past five years. There were 229,042 visits to Merthyr Tydfil’s libraries throughout 2018-19 and 47,349 members registered although this is because people need to register to use all sorts of services, such as the internet, and it includes users from other areas. The library service, which is managed day to day by Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust, is meeting all but one of its targets in full and is seeing an increase in users year on year.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Some library opening times to change across Nottinghamshire – West Bridgford Wire.  “The new opening hours follow a detailed review of current opening times and usage along with local knowledge and customer feedback.” … “Inspire, the County Council’s cultural partner, is currently contracted to deliver 1,487 hours of public access to the library service per week. The approved changes this increase this to 1,525 hours per week and will benefit library users across the county.”
  • Redbridge – Community hub to house libraries, police stations and pharmacies under one roof – Guardian series. “The new hub in Gants Hill will bring public services – such as council offices, pharmacies, libraries and police stations – together under one roof to make them easier to access and more efficient. The Gants Hill centre will be one of six central community hubs dotted throughout the borough – others will be situated in Barkingside, Clayhall, Fullwell and Valentines wards.”
  • Rochdale – Celebrating library digital services: Smithy Bridge Silver Surfers – Lorensbergs. “we introduce Rochdale Libraries’ longest running group, the Smithy Bridge Silver Surfers. This senior technology group is a fantastic example of how libraries are addressing the digital divide while satisfying the digitally inquisitive nature of their customers. Most importantly, it shows how there doesn’t need to be (and often isn’t!) a gap in digital capability between the generations. All you need is your local library to gather, support and inspire you.”
  • Shropshire – Shropshire libraries and theatre record increase in visitors – Advertizer. “Shropshire Council has revealed that 16,500 more visits were made to libraries in the county in 2018/19 compared to the previous year. ” … ““Usage of the cloudLibrary e-book system has doubled to over 24,000 loans and the e-audio has quadrupled to over 4,800 loans.  ” [Still tiny numbers compared to print – Ed.]
  • St Helens – St Helens library card holders to be able to use facilities across city region – St Helens Star. “A new service means that people can use St Helens library cards to use any other library across the Liverpool City Region. Library Light will launch on Monday, July 8 and means existing customers can access all libraries across the city region with their current library card. People can present their library card, and provide a name, address and contact number.”
  • Suffolk – Town without a bank gets Barclays services in library – EADT. “Barclays has begun a three-month trial of the paired [sic] down services for customers in Aldeburgh. The trial comes only months after Barclays became the final provider to pull its services from the town, leaving it without a bank. At the time there were huge concerns in the town as to what the impact would be for residents and businesses. The new sessions will take place at the town’s library on Mondays from 9am until 1pm until the end of August, when the scheme will be reviewed. Customers will be able to access a number of general banking tasks by visiting a Barclays’ “moment banker”, who will be based in a private office in the library.”
  • West Sussex – Worthing and Littlehampton’s mobile library taken off the road – Littlehampton Gazette. “West Sussex County Council operates two mobile libraries, one from Horsham and another from Bognor Regis. After a series of mechanical failures the mobile library based in Bognor Regis, which serves the rural south of West Sussex, has been deemed ‘no longer roadworthy’ and the decision has been made to take it off the road.”
    • Several West Sussex libraries could close as part of further budget cuts – Chichester Observer. “Questions hang over the future of a number of West Sussex libraries amid county council plans to cut up to £500,000 from the service’s budget. A report due to be discussed by the cabinet next week said ‘several’ tier 6 libraries could be closed to help save money. There are 13 tier 6 libraries in the county … According to an officers’ report: “Reducing the level of service as suggested would have an impact on the ability of the service to support the County Council outcomes effectively and would represent a reduction in service. This would require extensive community and staff consultation.”
    • Libraries and a tip could close amid £28m cuts – Argus.
  • Worcestershire – Council told to produce ‘vision’ for libraries before making future decisions – Worcester News. “Worcestershire County Council has been told it needs to use the results of a four-month consultation as well as an extensive peer review to create a strategy before it begins cutting more than £395,000 from the library budget this year. ” … “a peer review by the Local Government Association has recommended the council should consider abandoning this plea, promote the use of ‘open’ unstaffed libraries and also look at using single-staffed libraries more. “