Major pieces of news are fewer than normal due to it being the Summer but a few things are prominent. The first is that, finally, Arts Council England, have finally made their director for public libraries a full-time position. This has -hitherto been just a half-time post combined with the Birmingham are. Many felt that this under-rated public libraries in comparison to the other sectors ACE covers and so it’s great to see this changed. It surely won’t be long now before that organisation starts occasionally putting libraries first in a list of what sectors they cover in their official documents.

“Our Executive Board has decided that, from 1 December 2019, I will be migrated from my current role into a new 100% role of Director Libraries. This will provide significant additional senior capacity to ensure that our work around libraries is fully integrated into the delivery of the new 10 Year Strategy and further develop our Libraries work and programme. ”

Sue Willliamson by email

The other national thing is the £342k put forward by ACE to boost diversity in public libraries leadership. This is welcome but a tiny part of the, wow, £7.1 million that ACE has put aside across all of its portfolio for the same thing. Even though some of this other funding will be open to libraries (we will see, though, how much actually does come that way), that money will cover help for just 15 (that’s fifteen, not 50 or 150) people, although it’s hoped the training developed will be of use to others. Fingers crossed but 15 looks a bit, well, token, doesn’t it? And that is never a good look when diversity is the issue.

Locally, the big obvious things are the ongoing tassle in Essex over the council wanting to cut funding to libraries; Calderdale cutting some libraries while co-locating and improving others; Staffordshire passing yet more branches to community groups and Norfolk adopting staff-less technology almost wholesale.

Finally, it’s a pleasure to see the poet Joseph Coelho continuing his epic mission to get a library card from every library service in the country. This is great publicity locally and should finally also ensure he never gets mistaken for that chap Paulo by public librarians yet again.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Arts Council England makes £7.1m available to boost diversity – Charity Digital. “Arts Council England has made £7.1 in grants available to encourage diversity and leadership skills among those working in arts and culture organisations, including charities.”
    • Libraries Connected launches training scheme to tackle lack of diversity – BookSeller. “The Leading Libraries scheme will recruit 15 emerging leaders from different library services, offering them development training and the chance to lead a project in their region. It will also offer training for their heads of service on recruiting and maintaining a diverse workforce. In addition, each emerging leader will mentor two members of staff from their own service.” … “A study commissioned by CILIP in 2015 showed the library and information workforce was 78.1% female, yet 47% of men earned over £30,000 compared to just 37.3% of women. The figures also showed a huge 96.7% of the workforce identified as white.”

“We wanted to provide a substantial development programme that targeted library staff as well as their managers, which meant limiting the number of people involved. However, we will publish the training and development resources that that we create during the course so that individuals and services across the country can benefit from the programme.”

CILIP, via email
  • CILIP launches data project to ‘turn tide’ on library closures – BookSeller. “The organisation has been given £150,000 funding across two years from the Arts Council for its project, which now has a website built on the NationBuilder platform for political campaigning, and to also boost skills for librarians to run campaigns … 10,500 people are on the database already and the intention is to grow that number to up to 35,000 in the first year. A lot of the support comes through Facebook, where people share Libraries Deliver content and the numbers build.” [I have been informed there are several errors in this article – Ed.]
  • PMLG & ILG National Conference 2019: Information Literacy in Public Libraries – CILIP. 4 October, London. “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.”

International news

Drag Queen Story times

  • USA – Drag queen reading event meets community resistance in CA – GOP USA. “Billed as a way to create a sense of acceptance and tolerance, an event hosted by the city of Chula Vista will welcome drag queens for storytime at a library in Otay Ranch next month. And not everyone is happy about it. A group known as MassResistance, an anti-LGBTQ organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group, plans to stage a news conference Thursday to demand that the library event be canceled.”
  • Firestorm over Drag Queen Event Pushes City to Change Library Policies – Breitbart. “The Leander, Texas City Council voted 5-2 on August 15 to end library room rentals to the public in the wake of outcry over a controversial Drag Queen Story Hour presentation.”
  • Library board can’t agree on sex crime checks proposed after drag queen story event – Wichita Eagle. “A proposal to background-check people for past sex offenses before they are allowed to make presentations at Wichita libraries was put on hold Tuesday, after a split in the board between those who want a complete ban on sex offenders and those who want staff to have some leeway.”

Joseph Coelho tour

Local news by authority

FOLIO Sutton Coldfield is a volunteer-run community group of Sutton Coldfield residents who want to see our public libraries not just survive, but thrive at the heart of our community. We support and promote the current library service in Sutton Coldfield and facilitate a richly varied programme of events and activities in Sutton Coldfield Library and through library outreach, working in collaboration with paid professional library staff. On average we put on 2-4 events a week and since we became active library borrowing has increased 10%, library footfall has increased 49% (there are now over 130,000 visits to the library each year) and library membership (new members joining) has increased 97%. FOLIO Sutton Coldfield is expanding and we’re looking for additional Trustees to join our Board. We’re particularly keen to recruit a Trustee with library experience. 
If you leave near enough Sutton Coldfield to attend out monthly Trustee meetings,  have worked or currently work in either a public or school library and would like to join our dynamic charity we’d love to hear from you. You can find full details in our Trustee recruitment pack:  http://foliosuttoncoldfield.org.uk/join-us/.”  Birmingham via email.

  • Bradford – Health hub plan for library – Telegraph and Argus. “Library bosses are in talks with GPs to bring together a range of community health and well-being services in the historic building on North Street. Health services provided by voluntary groups and charities would sit alongside library services like book lending, local history and computers. The potential team-up – which is in its early stages – has grown out of moves by Bradford Council to cut millions of pounds from its libraries budget. ” … “The first round of cuts bite on September 1, involving management changes; a cut in the book fund to £298,300 per year; and Keighley, Bingley and Shipley becoming ‘hub libraries’ with a 30% reduction in staffing. ”
  • Calderdale – Big library shake up means £2 million investment but closures too – Examiner. “Around £2 million is set to be invested in Calderdale libraries, while other village libraries will face closure unless community solutions can be found, largely due to the buildings being unfit for purpose. Calderdale Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the funding and changes to the way services are delivered at a number of libraries when it meets at Halifax Town Hall on Monday, September 2.”
  • Croydon – First look at modern revamp of Selsdon Library – Your Local Guardian. “If a trial at Selsdon Library is successful Open Plus technology could be rolled out at every library in Croydon. It means that anyone with a library card can access the library out of hours. “
  • Derby – Seventh Derby library to be handed over to city charity – Derbyshire Live. “Chellaston Library will be the latest – and seventh of 10 – to have its running passed to the Derby charity Direct Help and Advice (DHA). The library’s last day under council management will be Saturday, October 12 , when it will close to re-open under DHA operation from Monday, October 28.” During the temporary closure, the council will carry out training to enable a smooth transition for customers and volunteers alike. In the interim, customers can access and reserve books at other Derby libraries, with eBooks continuing to be accessible 24/7 online.  
  • Durham Bishop Auckland Town Hall closure: here’s what you need to know – Explorar.
  • Essex – Street party in a bid to stop Manningtree Library being run voluntarily – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Save Manningtree Library Action Group is holding the party as part of a county-wide action day over Essex County Council’s (ECC) plans to create community-run libraries on September 28. “
  • Flintshire – Flintshire’s Aura Leisure and Libraries named finalist in UK Social Enterprise Awards – Leader. “”The company has only been trading since September 2017 so to be recognised on a national scale for the work we do in sustaining and improving leisure, library and heritage services in Flintshire is fantastic and gives us huge encouragement for the future.’’ “
  • Inverness – Inverness scheme aims to bring folk together – Inverness Courier. “Supporting local entrepreneurs, freelancers, sole traders and start-ups, the new space is part of the new Scottish Coworking Network scheme.”
  • Lincolnshire New IT for Lincolnshire libraries will help online accessibility – Skegness Standard. “The council’s library provider, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) is working to introduce new computers and IT equipment at libraries and community hubs across Lincolnshire.”
  • Luton – Have your say on the future of Luton’s library services – Luton Today. “The council claim they will use the survey results to ensure that in future services better meet the needs of local communities. As part of the Luton Library Needs Survey users are being asked their views on the many services available at libraries in the town including book, CD and DVD borrowing, opportunities for seeking advice, attending classes and activities, using the online services and using the library as a place to work and study quietly.”
  • Norfolk – Do you know someone who lacks the confidence in reading? – KLFM. “A learner would be matched with a Reading Pathway Volunteer and they’d then work through the ‘Yes we can read’ handbook.”
    • How you can access your local library – even when the staff aren’t there – Fakenham Times. “orfolk County Council has revealed 10 more locations for its open library scheme, which creates time slots where members can access services outside of regular opening times – without the building being staffed. First introduced in June 2018 in 30 different libraries, members can sign up to be given access to the services at certain times when a member of staff is not present – providing they do not have a history of misusing the service”
  • Northamptonshire – Investigation finds Desborough town councillors breached conduct codes over library issue – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Chair of the town council, Jean Read, along with fellow Independents for Desborough councillors Gil Holmes, Linda Burnham and Steve Draycott will have to apologise for their failure to declare their interests in the charity Desborough Library and Community Hub (DCLH) at the council’s next meeting and admit they breached the code of conduct.”
    • Northamptonshire libraries rescue plan moves step closer – BBC. Council “decided instead that 17 would be taken over by community groups, whose business plans have now been ratified, with just 14 remaining council-run. Deputy council leader Lizzy Bowen said they ensured “an efficient service… despite the budgetary constraints”. The remaining five library branches will offer statutory services and be managed by community groups, and are being helped by the council to develop their business plans.”
    • Library Service Review update – Northamptonshire County Council.
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries to screen films for those who struggle to access cinemas – Harrogate News. “One film will be for older people with memory problems, their partners, family members and carers. The other will be a relaxed screening for families who have a child with autism or other special needs. The showings will be more informal than the cinema, with room to move about, brighter lighting and no need to be silent. There will be a chance to chat during the interval over refreshments, and activities related to the film will be available to do on the day or to take home.”
  • Oldham – Oldham libraries celebrate receiving more than one million visitors – Oldham Council. There are only 220k people living in Oldham. “To further increase both visitor numbers and literacy levels among young people we abolished library fines on all books at a Cabinet meeting on Monday 22 July … The library will be welcoming a new building in the winter of 2021 when OMA launches. The new heritage and arts centre for Oldham (OMA), will transform Oldham’s former Library, Museum and Art Gallery into a vibrant multi-use cultural complex on Union Street.”
  • Shropshire – Oswestry Town Council library grant for dementia shared memory bags welcomed – Advertizer. £1k. “”Our current range of loanable Shared Memory Bags on themes such as music, travelling, childhood and pets is very popular and provides a fun, interactive and therapeutic experience free of charge to anyone with a library ticket. “
  • Staffordshire – Libraries celebrate as more than 10,000 children take the Summer Reading Challenge – Staffordshire Newsroom.
    • Landmark for Staffordshire libraries – Tamworth Informed. “This month’s transfer of the day-to-day management and delivery of Penkridge library to Penkridge Parish Council is the 27th successful completion and marks the end of the fourth phase of this four-year community library programme. Staffordshire’s library service now has more than 950 volunteers contributing at its 27 community-run libraries and the 16 that remain under direct council management.”
  • Warrington – Celebrating the history of Warrington’s museum and library – Warrington Worldwide. “Now Culture Warrington and LiveWire, which together run library, museum, arts, archives and heritage services from the building on behalf of Warrington Borough Council, have plans to re-energise the space as a creative hub, with a nod to the building’s origins as a combined museum and library.” … “The rejuvenation, which aims to establish the building as a creative hub and increase links between the museum and library services, will bring about cosmetic improvements as well as the aligning of activities and opening hours, including Sunday opening for the first time.”
  • Wokingham – Woodley Library Is Getting A Face-lift – Reading. “The work includes relocating and replacing the entrance doors, replacing the glass frontage of the building, improving the heating system and replacing some of the furniture.  Following the renovations, there will be more flexibility in how the space in the library can be used, allowing a wider range of activities and improved comfort to those using the space.  “
  • Worcestershire – Redditch Library receives £1k worth of new books after winning challenge – Redditch Standard. “The library recently won the community group/library category of the 200 million minutes challenge, organised by educational group Achievement for All. The challenge aimed for 200 million minutes to be read between World Book Day in March this year and Children’s Book Day in April.”