I am sorry to see that Devon has suffered attacks from various quarters about have a drag queen story time or two in their libraries, although with the critical responses being thankfully less overtly religious or fanatical than those in the USA. I see such story times, and the willing embrace of diversity in the sector, as a definite highpoint of the last decade and hope that services do not bow to pressure and take the seemingly easy way out.

The public response to the deep cuts in Essex have been uniformly reassuring since they were first announced. First they protested in force and, now that the council has retracted its plans slightly, have noticed that they’re still trying to force local groups to replace paid staff. Such groups are saying clearly that they do not wish to do so. Hopefully, what is already a partial defeat for Essex will become a complete one and will show that closures or large-scale forcing of libraries to become volunteer is not an unavoidable conclusion when cuts are announced. Indeed, let us hope that the only way to respond to library cuts in future is Essex.

Finally, thank to Alex Klaushofer for her excellent review of a few public libraries in Europe. There are some stunners out there and the need for such places to offer quiet study spaces as well as shiny innovations is explored well. So have a sit down quietly some time in your library and have a read of it.

Changes by authority

National news

  • 12 incredible libraries in the UK that need to be on every bookworm’s bucket list – Mirror. Includes the normal big public libraries – Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham.
  • Britain’s infrastructure is breaking down. And here’s why no one’s fixing it – Guardian. ““The library really is a palace. It bestows nobility on people who can’t otherwise afford a shred of it. People need to have nobility and dignity in their lives. And, you know, they need other people to recognise it in them too.”
  • Build the library of the future – Libraries Week. “Participants should use LEGO to form the structure of their library build but are free to get creative and use other materials to bring your library to life. ” Prize includes trip to Legoland and £500 for local library.
  • Digital Development In Libraries with Pamela Tulloch And Lindsey Henderson – Princh. Experience in Scotland of barriers and opportunities.
  • Lee Child’s Night School named UK’s most borrowed library book – BookSeller. “Figures released today from UK public libraries, compiled using Public Lending Right (PLR) data, showed the Jack Reacher thriller was most popular. In all, 101,636 loans of the book were made, well above the 71,000 recorded by the previous year’s most borrowed novel, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (Transworld).” Child was followed by John Grisham’s The Whistler (Hodder), with both writers appearing twice in the top 10. Continuing the trend for thrillers, Michael Connelly had two books in the top five, with The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Orion) at number three and The Late Show (Orion) at number five.”
  • National public library data – Libraries Hacked. “ational library statistics provide high-level comparative stats. For example, issues per year, per authority. Not much about individual libraries. The problem with this data is that it has no obvious use. No local authority would accept data without the detail of each library. So why compile such data at a national level? Although the end goal is to have national data, the starting point needs to be local data in a standard form …”
  • Paradise Found: In search of the perfect Library – Public Libraries News. Alex Klaushofer argues that, in the 21st-century, the public library has a vital role to play as a place to be and work. Spending some time as an itinerant researcher, she unexpectedly finds her perfect library workspace in a far-flung European city.
  • Practical solutions for a single digital presence – CILIP. “The report, Digital Transformation for UK Public Libraries: five approaches to a ‘single digital presence’ published on 6 June, explains how it selected five of the most likely ways to deliver ‘a single digital presence’. It then goes further, whittling it down to three. And more work is being done: “We’re doing a second scoping piece at the moment, a bit more user testing of what people want and will provide some more actionable recommendations that can very much start to move this forward. The sector has been waiting quite a while now and we’re conscious of that.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Anglesey – Holyhead Library begins new chapter with move to historic market hall – North Wales Chronicle. “The ambitious project to revitalise Holyhead Market Hall is set to be completed later this year. However, the town’s new library opens its doors to the public on September 2, after the old library, on Newry Street, closes on Saturday, August 17” … “An exciting new event space is found at the heart of the library, where an array of activities and events will be held. Visitors to the library can also take advantage of the flexible social space to meet friends, take part in reading groups or just enjoy a chat. “. Includes Changing Places toilet.
  • Bradford – MP enters debate over cuts to Bradford museums and libraries – Telegraph and Argus. “Naz Shah, MP for Bradford West has criticised Bradford Council’s plans to slash the budget for the services, reducing the department’s budget by 65 per cent over two years. Details of what the cuts will look like will not be revealed until September, but the Council has announced that it will be cutting its museums and galleries budget, currently, £1.8 million, by £500,000 in 2020/21. “
  • Bromley – Library staff and union members united in protest to Bromley library cuts – London News Online. “There are currently 50 library workers at GLL’s 14 libraries across Bromley who have been on strike since June 6. The dispute began when library workers across Bromley said that GLL had let members of staff go without replacing them, creating an increase in workload which was not reflected in their pay.” … “A spokeswoman for GLL said: “Once again we refute the allegations made by Unite. We operate a fair deal on pay and consider the union’s inflation busting six per cent pay claim unrealistic and unaffordable”
    • Demonstrations planned at Bromley libraries as workers continue to strike – Bromley Borough News. Demonstrations to be held. ““We have had a constructive meeting with GLL to discuss our main priority – staffing. During the consultation before the contract was handed to GLL, Bromley’s Tory councillors were quoted that there would be no loss of professional staff. We are now awaiting staffing proposals from GLL which we expect to reflect this commitment.”
  • Cambridgeshire – MP Steve Barclay celebrates successful 4th year of Read to Succeed with £18,000 of donated books handed to every Year 4 & 5 child in NE Cambs – Cambs Times. “”Read to Succeed aims to help combat this. In the back of every book donated is a library token which each child can take to their local library and take part in the Reading Agency’s Summer Reading Challenge.”
  • Camden – Transforming Kentish Town Library – Ideas Day – Camden Council. “Camden Council is investing £1.5 million to make sure that libraries best meet the needs of our communities now and in the future: This work is being piloted in Kentish Town Library, where over the last few months the Council has been talking to local residents, library users and partner organisations about their ideas for the library. The Ideas Day aims to share initial design ideas developed from these conversations, and get residents’ help in choosing the ideas to take forward and make happen …”
  • Croydon – Revamped Selsdon Library has officially re-opened – Guardian series. “As part of a refurbishment of the library in Addington Road, Selsdon will be the first library in Croydon to trial Open+ technology. ” … “Next on the list to be upgraded are Norbury and Thornton Heath libraries.  Norbury Library in will temporarily close for a £1 million refurbishment on August 31, reopening in Spring 2020. “
  • Cumbria – Barrow wins £2m grant as it bids to become UK destination of culture – The Mail. “The Barra Culture team is made up of Women’s Community Matters, Brathay Trust, Natural England, Art Gene, Signal Film and Media, Full of Noises, and Ashton Group Theatre, as well as Cumbria Libraries, and Barrow Borough Council. “
  • Derbyshire – Only half of council’s libraries handed to volunteers have groups to run them – Derbyshire Live. “A council has revealed that only 10 out of 20 libraries it intends to hand to volunteers have community groups fit to take them on. This comes eight months after Derbyshire County Council finalised its proposals to stop running 20 of its 45 libraries in order to save £1.6 million. It formally invited community groups to come forward to take on the 20 under-used libraries in March. Since then, only half the libraries set to be moved out of county council management have had community groups come forward with robust enough plans to take them on.”
  • Devon – Drag queen teaches kids to ‘twerk’ at library story hour – Lifesite News. “A drag queen in the United Kingdom was caught on camera teaching small children at a library story hour how to perform the sexually-suggestive dance move called “twerking.”
  • Dudley – Blackheath and Cradley libraries to host free breakfasts this summer – Cotsworld Journal.
  • Durham – Bishop Auckland Town Hall closes to become cultural hub – Northern Echo. “Improvements will include the creation of a new café, bar and contemporary art gallery space on the ground floor, as well as enhanced library facilities.”
  • Essex – Campaigners: Libraries boss ‘put gun to people’s heads’ – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Save Our Libraries Essex has condemned County Hall’s revised libraries strategy, which will see volunteer groups given a small grant over three years to keep services running, as “closure by stealth”. Groups, including those in Coggeshall and Holland-on-Sea, have withdrawn their offers to run libraries. The campaign group has produced an information pack which it has sent to town and parish councils warning of the “impossible job” community groups would face. “
    • ‘Our libraries must be saved’ – Braintree and Witham Times. “Mr Coates said: “The really essential part of a library strategy in Essex – or anywhere else- is to reverse the decline in use. “It is perfectly possible to do that by concentrating on the strengths that libraries have in the eyes of people who might use them.”
    • ‘Stealth closures’: Essex groups back away from volunteer-run libraries – Guardian. “On Monday, Tracey Vickers, who led a bid by Coggeshall residents to take over a branch, said they had felt pressured into submitting an expression of interest in order to secure a meeting with the council, which had “repeatedly refused on the grounds that they were ‘too busy and couldn’t meet every community group’”.”
    • Volunteers urged to pull out of offers to take on libraries – Braintree and Witham Times. “Sole condemned County Hall libraries boss Susan Barker’s proposal, claiming community groups would not only be responsible for staffing and fully running libraries, but housing them as well. A spokesman said: “The purpose of our information pack is to ensure every single community group thinking of volunteering knows they no longer have to as a last resort to save their library.”
    • Villagers ditch their bid to run libraries – Braintree and Witham Times. “Groups in Coggeshall, Holland-on-Sea, Chigwell and Harlow have pulled their offers in a move which has been welcomed by campaign group Save Our Libraries Essex (Sole). “
  • Fife – Dunfermline-born philanthropist Andrew Carnegie would be ‘sad to see decline of libraries’, says museum on centenary of death – Courier. “Our busy exhibition and library events programme continues his ethos of enriching the lives of people through culture and it is a privilege to manage the first-ever Carnegie Library in the world – one of 2,800 worldwide – and have it housed in the award-winning five-star visitor attraction that is Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.”
  • Flintshire – Employee-owned leisure centres and libraries welcome over 1.5 million visits in one year News from Wales. “Providing culture, sport and leisure opportunities to the region, the social enterprise recorded an impressive 1.1 million visits to its leisure centres and 600,000 visits to its libraries in the last 12 months.”
  • Hertfordshire – Having charity running libraries deprives councils of business rates – St Albans Review. “… it is estimated it will cost the 10 districts and boroughs – who each receive a chunk of the business rates collected – hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost income. Liberal Democrat Cllr Sara Bedford – who is a county councillor and leader of Three Rivers District Council – estimates that Three Rivers will lose £22,000 a year as a result of the change – adding up to £110,000 over the five-year library contract. “
  • Kirklees – Almondbury Library holds fun filled open day in exciting new dementia-friendly building – Kirklees Together. “The lighting, acoustics, furniture, walls, carpet and signage were all considered and there are cues and clues to help people use the library as independently as possible. The aim is for all staff and volunteers to be Dementia Friends …”
  • Lancashire – New chapter beckons for Lytham’s library service – Blackpool Gazette. “The new library is in the Assembly Rooms in Dicconson Terrace following the closure of the service in its long-time home, the Institute building in Clifton Street, by the County Council’s previous Labour administration in September 2016. The Assembly Rooms has been let on a long lease to the County Council by Lytham Town Trust and will feature more than 4.300 books along with facilities for baby bounce and rhyme, toddler rhyme time and digital support sessions.”
  • North Lanarkshire – Airdrie MP criticises plans to reduce opening hours at Monklands libraries – Daily Record. “ast week’s Advertiser told how evening opening at Airdrie and Coatbridge libraries is to be reduced from four nights to two and Chapelhall library will close on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. Chryston library will reduce to opening on three days per week instead of the current five and will lose its late night, and Moodiesburn will close on Friday afternoons, as part of a Culture NL programme to find required savings of £400,000.”
  • North Yorkshire – Author embarks on library-joining marathon – North Yorkshire County Council.
  • Northamptonshire – Northamptonshire school takes over library from cash-crisis council – BBC. “Northgate School Arts College, which already runs a cafe and sweet shop, will take over Northampton’s Kingsthorpe Library. Its head said pupils would “love the structured environment” of a library.” … “Head teacher Sheralee Webb said the library, which will pay £15,300 per year to lease the building, would be supported by crowdfunding for up to the first two years.” … “Ms Webb said running a library would be a “learning curve for all of us” but that it would be “ideal” for pupils who might find a traditional work placement difficult.”
  • Perth and Kinross – Poet-on-a-mission picks up library card at Pitlochry – Courier. “Joseph Coelho has challenged himself to join more than 200 libraries up and down the country, in an effort to highlight their importance to local communities. The aim is to sign-up to libraries in each local authority area and hopefully encourage others to do the same.”
  • Perthshire – 3D facilities will be available in Perthshire libraries – Daily Record. “AK Bell Library in Perth already has a Digital Maker Space, which has already proven to be extremely popular, with visitors, artists and local entrepreneurs taking advantage of the superb digital resources.” Another one to be added at Strathearn.
  • Sheffield – Poor choice of magazines in libraries, says councillor – Sheffield Telegraph. “A councillor has questioned why Sheffield libraries no longer stock political magazines but do offer random ones which are of “no interest” to people.” … ““For example, there is little choice of magazines covering politics and current affairs in Central Library, which no longer stocks magazines such as Private Eye, but stocks magazines of little to no interest for most people such as Football Stadium Management Magazine.”
  • St Helens – Moving library into one of our best exhibition spaces seems a strange way to go – St Helens Star. “… as an artist moving the library into one of the best exhibition spaces in the North West (The World of Glass) seems a strange way to go.  The large exhibition space as you go in is second to none for flexibility for so many art mediums and exhibitions with the wonderful floor to ceiling windows.”
  • Warrington – Stockton Heath Library to reopen next month – Warrington Worldwide. “Stockton Heath Library is to reopen on Monday September 2 following a 12-week, £195,000 redevelopment – that includes dementia friendly design throughout and more flexible activity and events spaces. The library, on Alexandra Road, is the first of the town’s libraries to benefit from Warrington Borough Council’s £1m library investment programme.