One of the advantages of not having done a post for a month is you can clearly see the themes of what is going on.

Nationally, there are two initiatives – a roadmap and library support schemes – that, if they happen as suggested, will be very useful in aiding local library problems and lead to a better service. Due to there being at the moment both a massively distracted and a hugely disinterested national government, this is probably the best that can be hoped for. It’s interesting that there is “little appetite” reported at any level for changing how libraries are delivered, when the last ten years have seen huge piecemeal moves towards just that.

On the good side locally, there are a surprisingly large number of refurbishments and – gosh – actual new libraries in the news, although sometimes it is hard to tell from reports whether such things are co-locations (a bit of a double-edge sword for libraries) or something more genuinely purely beneficial. A huge well done, though, to the people behind Kensal Rise, who have pushed for nearly a decade for a functioning reopened library, which finally happened this weekend.

On the bad side locally, w we have a big problem starting in Bradford – never exactly a shining star when it comes to public libraries – who want to cut their service even more while hypocritically spending money on claiming, presumably with a straight face, that it is a city of culture. Strike action there means there are two library services currently facing that last resort – the other is Bromley. The cuts in Essex continue to be faced up to with tremendous verve and fortitude and quite a lot of savvy about the need not to be fooled by seeming council concessions.

Finally, I need to say that there have been major problems with the Public Libraries News website causing such a long delay between posts. This appears to have been caused by both a problem with the website host – now changed – and some fairly huge and certainly numerous hack attacks. Heaven knows what such people aim to gain from hacking a public libraries website – perhaps it’s because it comes high on many google search rankings – but it certainly irritates me. Things appear fixed for now but there has been a loss of some data.


The piece in the last post on the new Transforming Leadership grant says that 15 people will benefit from the programme,  Actually the programme will involve 4 people from each authority – the “Emerging Leader” is the catalyst and in addition there will be a development programme for their  head of service, and a third programme involving two other members of staff in each participating service who are identified as having leadership potential. So 60 members of the workforce will be involved – not 15. The funding will also provide for a new online learning course on leadership for public library staff.

Changes by authority

National news

  • A to Z of Library Digital Services – Lorensbergs. Excellent infographic for all to share. “So roll on Libraries Week, and the opportunity it gives to celebrate all our libraries have to offer in the digital sphere. With our libraries and their staff there to support us, we all have the chance to develop and progress our digital skills and knowledge. Whatever your circumstances, digital inclusion is in reach simply by dropping into your local branch. In addition to the A-Z, further information and ideas on how libraries facilitate digital participation and skills attainment will be available on this blog each day in the week ahead. “
  • Community Business Trade Up Programme – School for Social Entrepreneurs. Funding for volunteer libraries etc. “Do you run an organisation or project that exists to improve your local neighbourhood, village or town? Do you run it like a business, but re-invest profits to benefit your local community?”
  • Cressida Cowell: Dragon author breathing fire over library cuts – Express. ““That’s why I’m so passionate about libraries because nobody has been able to answer me the question: If a child doesn’t have a public library and they don’t have a library in their primary school, how on earth are they going to be able to read for pleasure? “It is a social mobility timebomb. How can a kid compete with another kid who has got access to all these words?” 
  • Libraries and open data – DCMS. ” On 5 August the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) hosted (in a rather dreary windowless room!) a workshop for Taskforce members, front-line library practitioners and data experts to reflect on what had already been achieved and what the next steps should be.  “
  • Libraries Connected and CILIP publish new roadmap for future library development – Libraries Connected. “The report details seven key strands of work that will lead to long-term and co-ordinated improvements in the structural support for the sector. Work on some of these has already begun (as indicated) … The study found little appetite in library leadership, local or central government for a radical change to how public libraries are delivered. “
    • Nationally organised and funded infrastructure and creative programmes
    • National standards and accreditation to help define a quality service (currently being explored by Libraries Connected)
    • Nationally co-ordinated monitoring and evaluation (currently being explored by DCMS)
    • National digital public library service (led by British Library)
    • Regional development and support programme (led by Libraries Connected)
    • Nationally co-ordinated workforce development (led by Libraries Connected and CILIP)
    • Support for local authorities to explore new governance and delivery models for public libraries.”
  • Libraries Connected to trial new library support schemes – BookSeller. “The projects will see a national programme manager and regional engagement team to broker support and improve collaboration between library services. A national subject expertise bank to provide specialist advice on things like income generation, mentoring and service reconfiguration. Both pilots will be funded by the Libraries Taskforce and run until March 2020. It comes after a report commissioned by Libraries Connected from Activist Group suggested a new support model with five ways to help safeguard the service’s future.” … “In its entirety, the scheme would require £1.7m investment over three years, mainly through reallocation of existing investment”
    • A national programme manager and regional engagement team to broker support and improve collaboration between services
    • A national subject expertise bank to provide specialist advice on topics such as service transformation, income generation and mentoring
    • An online ‘Library library’ that shares evidence and advice and has tools to help manage transformation and innovation locally
    • An ‘engine for evidence’ to pilot standards for new library standards and commission research on the impact of services
    • An advocacy campaign to highlight the contribution of libraries to local priorities and communities.
  • PMLG & ILG National Conference 2019: Information Literacy in Public Libraries – PMLG. “Often overlooked, information literacy stands at the core of a public library’s purpose. Whether it is teaching children how to answer their own questions or supporting retirees to get online, public libraries daily contribute to the development of information literacy skills within their communities, Safeguarding, signposting and navigating information sources requires highly-developed multi-platform, critical awareness. This conference delivers a diverse portfolio of the necessary information literacy skills for the job.”
  • World Book Day 2020 Launch – World Book Day. Lists the titles for next year.

International news

  • Australia – One for the books: the unlikely renaissance of libraries in the digital age – Sydney Morning Herald. “With the rise of the internet, public libraries were supposed to be on borrowed time. But they’re thriving – their renaissance as much about community as the literary riches they contain.” … “So relaxed is the atmosphere that when someone produced a foot spa, plugged it in and started using it, others presumed this was a new service the library was offering. According to Dullard, a queue quickly formed at the counter. “People were saying, ‘Where’s my foot spa?’ ””

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Funding confirmed for Aberdeenshire library funding project – Press and Journal. “Highland’s Mind Hubs: Mental agility, physical dexterity was awarded £5,400 and Comic Con Hebrides in the Western Isles received £3,815. Aberdeenshire library services have been awarded £70,000 to further their One System, One Card, One Step Closer project. The project will enhance the existing One Card pilot, with a view to moving to a single library card covering fifty per cent of public library services. Eleven public library projects across Scotland are sharing a combined fund of £201,269 from Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF) which supports the transformation and modernisation of public libraries through the enhancement of creative projects.”
  • Bolton – Bolton Library to host ‘Wikipedia Editathon’ – Bolton News. “On Saturday, September 21, from 2-4pm Bolton Central Library will host an expert from the encyclopedia-themed website. The volunteers will create submissions referencing the LGBT community and the exhibition at Bolton Museum, which is celebrating a year since reopening. Organisers have asked for anyone interested to get involved”
  • Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole – Letter to the editor: Libraries are no longer about peace and quiet – Daily Echo. “Why are public libraries so neglectful of those who yearn for a civilised, non-threatening atmosphere and wish only to make beneficial use of their limited resources? The thoughtless and ruthless decimation of book stocks in recent years to make space for personal computers and concomitant disappearance of most book cases has reduced their interiors to mere shells of what they once were, the resulting open plan layouts crying out for reallocation with new meeting rooms, work tables or private booths. “
  • Bradford – Angry residents told Bradford library cuts are an ‘act of cultural vandalism’ – Unite the Union. “A packed public meeting has been told that plans by Bradford council to cut the libraries and museum services by two thirds (65 per cent) is an ‘act of cultural vandalism’. Over 160 members of the public yesterday, (Wednesday 18 September) crammed into Keighley Civic Centre to listen to concerns about the future of the service. They heard how the planned cuts of 65 per cent from the libraries, galleries and museums service, will lead to job cuts and the closure of public assets.” … “The council’s proposed cuts to the library and museums services which will see two million pounds cuts from the service over the next two years, coincides with Bradford council earmarking £1.4 million to prepare a bid for city of culture in 2025.”
  • Brent – Celebrations with celebrity sparkle as Kensal Rise Library re-opens after lengthy battle – Brent and Kilburn Times. “Kensal Rise Community Library, in Bathurst Gardens, is launching with a Grand Opening Ceremony this Saturday at 2pm on the anniversary of its opening by Mark Twain in 1900. The library was closed along with five others by Brent Council in 2011 to save £1million. Since then the community has relentlessly campaigned, fundraised and finally, refurbished the replaced space. “
    • Kensal Rise Library to reopen after epic community battle – BookSeller. “The library was shut down by Brent Council in 2011, sparking a huge campaign supported by writers including Alan Bennett, Philip Pullman, Jacqueline Wilson and Zadie Smith. Following a fight that included a judicial review at the high court, the building is being redeveloped into flats but with space on the ground floor for a community facility, run by the Friends of Kensal Rise Library. Thousands of pounds have been raised to refurbish the space and campaigners have promised an “emotional celebration” from 2pm on 28th September with a reading from Grieg and the unveiling of the library’s original Mark Twain plaque.”
  • Buckinghamshire – Changes at Buckingham Library as part of council cutbacks – Buckingham Today. £160k cut. “The review of library services will save more than £160,000 but inevitably it has not been easy, particularly on our staff. “However, what this has managed to do is protect any changes to our library opening hours, which is good news for the thousands of local people who use our libraries each week. “We tried hard to match our existing staff to new posts and, out of more than 100 staff countywide, we have managed to keep compulsory redundancies down to three, with just one from Buckingham.”
  • Calderdale – Investment of £2m in Calderdale libraries but some are facing the axe – Halifax Courier. “although efforts are being made to keep two local services, if not in the buildings they have been housed in, users may have to switch to the nearest alternatives … The council is investing £1.75 million at Elland Library, which would also turn the building into a community hub housing other services, and around £250,000 to complete vital repairs at Todmorden Library.”
  • Croydon – Croydon’s Selsdon library looks incredible after a massive refurb – My London. “After being closed for two months for a major refurbishment, Selsdon Library has reopened with a completely new look, and it does look fantastic! Soon residents will even be able to use the library after hours, when new technology is trialled. The library in Addington Road was officially reopened to the public on Saturday, August 10. And its new modern look is how all 13 Croydon libraries are expected to look within the next three years. The council is set to spend a total of £5 million upgrading all of the borough’s libraries.”
  • Dundee – New chapter for Coldside Library after major refurbishment – Courier. “The refurbished Coldside Community Library opened its doors on to the community after six months of work. Improvements include a new lift, accessible toilets, hospitality facilities and new interior decorations. Funded by Dundee City Council, the new features in the listed building also include new lighting, meeting rooms, library counter, flooring, refurbished windows and painted railings outside.”
  • Durham – Bishop Auckland Town Hall closes to become cultural hub – Northern Echo. “Durham County Council is investing £1.5m into refurbishing Bishop Auckland Town Hall, in an effort to improve its layout and facilities. To allow the work to take place, the market place venue will close from Saturday, August 31, until next Spring. Other meeting places have been secured for groups that meet in the hall and arrangements have been made to ensure residents can access library services during the closure. “
  • Essex – War of words erupts over Manningtree Library’s future in leaked email – Gazette News. “Campaigners have criticised a veteran Tory councillor who said he is “sick and tired” of a debate on the future of a town’s library. In a leaked email, Tendring councillor for Manningtree Carlo Guglielmi referred to some Save Our Libraries Essex campaigners as “left wing extremists”. He said campaigners for Manningtree Library could “wrap the thing in aspic and be done with it”. “
  • Glasgow – Young Glaswegians borrowed thousands of books during holidays thanks to Summer Reading Challenge – Extra. “Across Glasgow 4,085 children headed to their local library during the summer holidays to borrow a whopping 41,436 books, as the annual Summer Reading Challenge took the city’s 0-12 year olds by storm.”
    • Langside library now has a tranquil space – Evening Times. “Volunteer gardeners have helped turn derelict land outside Langside Library into a tranquil space in the heart of the South Side community. A team of more than 30 volunteers volunteers, supported by Glasgow Life and Langside, Battlefield and Camphill Community Council, developed their inner city oasis to celebrate the rich diversity of the local area. “
    • Plans for £2.5m library move could lead to Parkhead revamp – Evening Times. “Parkhead Library could move into a new East End healthcare hub as part of a £2.5million scheme which would pave the way for the regeneration of Parkhead Cross. The plan would see one of the city’s Carnegie-funded libraries moved from its Grade B-listed building at the corner of Tollcross Road and Helenvale Street to the proposed East End Health and Social Care Partnership Hub (HSCP) building. “
  • Guernsey – Not everything needs to be a debate – Medium. “A local library hosts a free, inclusive reading session for children. It’s completely optional to attend, co-organised by two charities, and hosted by an experienced, DBS-checked entertainer, who just so happens to be a drag queen. Amid accusations of ‘creepiness’ and, at worst, ‘indoctrination’, I ask: how did it get to this?” … “LGBT+ people exist. And I’m tired of people using stories like this as a chance to scapegoat their homophobia.”
  • Haringey – Millions of pounds to be invested to improve Haringey libraries – Enfield Independent. “Despite losing £1,000 per house hold, the council decided to keep all of its libraries open and will invest £5.5 million to update them. Earlier this summer Haringey Labour agreed to invest £3.77million into Hornsey Library to further enhance it. The library is set to be remodelled with new interiors, carpets, decoration and lighting, while there will be improved provision for young people, including the children’s area. “
  • Hertfordshire – Swap your old slippers for free – Hertfordshire County Council. “Old worn out slippers are often responsible for trips and falls, which can lead to an unnecessary hospital stay and loss of independence. As we head into winter we organise ‘Slipper Swap’ events where older people and less mobile residents can swap their old slippers for a brand new free pair of anti-slip ones and find out more about keeping themselves safe and well “
  • North Yorkshire – Newcastle Building Society provides much-needed support to volunteer-run library in Stokesley – Business Up North. “Newcastle Building Society will provide financial support for at least the next three years for Stokesley Library to use towards any funding gaps, and further enhance the library facility and community activities. As part of the support, the Society will also provide an ongoing series of talks which will focus on a range of community needs, including: talks on Dementia Awareness, retirement planning, internet security, buying a house and investment and estate planning.”
    • Eyes down for Book Bingo at North Yorkshire libraries – North Yorkshire County Council. “To take part, players need to read any library book that fits the various challenges on the card until they complete a line. The 24 challenges range from “read a book that was made into a film” and “read a book with a number in the title”. After completing their challenges, players can hand the card to the library to be entered into a prize draw to win a book token. Readers can pick up another card and play again.”
    • New Garden for Newby & Scalby Library – Scarborough News. “Over 2,300 people voted to turn the patch of scrub land behind the library into a community garden with access for all and on Saturday many of them turned out to see Barbara cut a ribbon and declare the garden open”
  • Reading – Multi-use Community Hub To Open At Battle Library – Reading.co.uk. “Battle Library will reopen to the public as a multi-use community hub for west Reading on Tuesday 17th September, following major building improvement work over the summer … Work on the £400K project, funded through developer contributions from nearby housing schemes, got underway in May. The transformation has created a new single storey rear extension alongside internal reorganisation and improvements. The extension has an office space and houses the adult library, which opens up to an outside deck area. An eco-friendly green roof of hardy alpines plants has been installed on the extension.”
  • Redbridge – Gants Hill Library – They Work For You. Conservative asks Sadiq Khan: “Having previously promised that residents would be able to choose between keeping Gants Hill Library as a library or replacing it with a Hub, the Leader of Redbridge Council is now seeking to renege on his promise to hold a Consultation which gives residents a real choice as to whether they want the hub or retain the library, by not including the option to retain the library in the ongoing consultation. “
  • Stoke on Trent – ‘This is a fantastic new space’ – £380,000 library opens for pupils and residents – Stoke Sentinel. “The community learning centre at Trentham Academy will be used by the school and the wider community, replacing the old Trentham Library which closed in 2013. Stoke-on-Trent City Council provided the capital funds for the facility, but its ongoing running costs will be met by the academy. And volunteer group Trentham Reads will run a book hire service for the general public in the building, with stock loaned from the council’s library service.”
  • Surrey – Surrey’s libraries to take global inspiration in bid to improve – County Border News. “How its library service is going to change is still in the planning stages, but officers said they hope to have more details for cabinet members in November. The transformation of the library service is part of SCC’s £250m savings by 2021. Changes are running slightly behind schedule.”
  • Warrington – Warrington Museum & Library to become a ‘Fun Palace’ – Warrington Worldwide. “On Saturday October 5, organisations across the country will be taking part in the national “Fun Palace” campaign aimed at putting culture at the heart of communities, and communities at the heart of culture.”
    • Museum & Library reopens following revamp – Warrington Worldwide. “The venue underwent the revamp in a bid to re-energise the building and transform it into a creative hub – with increased links between the museum and library services.” The project, which has been a joint venture between Culture Warrington and LiveWire, has seen a number of cosmetic changes to the building, in addition to a more integrated approach to activities and opening hours – including Sunday opening for the first time.”
    • Stockton Heath Library reopens following £195,000 redevelopment – Warrington Borough Council. “Stockton Heath Library, on Alexandra Road, is the first of the town’s libraries to benefit from Warrington Borough Council’s £1m library investment programme.”
  • West Sussex West Sussex libraries safe from closures ‐ but there may still be changes – Chichester Observer. “One of the options was to save up to £500,000 by making some changes to the library services – such as closing several branch libraries, reducing opening hours and removing the mobile library service …. But several months later Mrs Russell said: “I know how important they [libraries] are to the people who use them and I want to reassure residents across West Sussex that I want to protect services not shut them down.” However the authority is looking at areas of the service where it thinks it can make savings while preserving the core of the service. These include looking at stopping the mobile library service and reducing late evening library opening times.