Test Close readers of Public Libraries News will have picked up that I am slightly suspicious of shiny new initiatives. The fear is that such things – a singer in a reference library, a theatre show in a lending space, a 3D printer sat semi-ignored on a cabinet – takes up time, resources and, worst case, actively puts people off using the unique selling points of libraries like free book loan or study space. At the same time, though, I understand that libraries need to look up, and not backwards, and that a non-changing service is a stagnant one. This is sometimes not an easy combination of beliefs for a printed book lover such as myself.

However, I’m recovering today from what was the truly joyous experience of helping to organise and host a fun palace in one of “my” libraries. A host of community groups – brownies, ju jitsu, a science teacher, a community theatre company, knitters, photographer, board games, a Viking re-enactor and a few others – took over the place. The place was buzzing all morning with lots of happy people trying new things and, crucially as far as I was concerned, no money changing hands anywhere down the line. There were no professional entertainers and it was all for the joy of it. And, on top of all this – the cherry on top of this – was that those people who dared to use the library for its normal uses (borrowing a book, reading a paper, using a computer) could do so fairly normally. Well, they may have been offered more biscuits than usual but, apart from that, one thing did not block the other.

Wonderful, so more power to the non-commercial community-upwards fun palaces ideal. Now on to Libraries Week, with its mix of augmented reality class visits (Friday), murder mysteries (Tuesday and Wednesday), author visit (Wednesday) and inter-library quiz (Saturday) interspersed with book ordering, queries, writing up the results of a book promotion and research into library youth participation. 25 years on in the profession and it’s not got boring yet.

Changes by local authority


  • Dog friendly days – Pet dogs owned by the public let in with their owners on specific days.

National news

  • Have your say in our Professionalism Review – CILIP. “… we’ve launched our Professionalism Review – to re-state, clearly and positively, the contemporary definition of librarianship, information and knowledge management as an open, inclusive and progressive ‘profession’. As part of this work we want to develop a clear and inclusive definition of what it means to be a professional in our sector, so we would like to know what ‘professionalism’ means to you. “
  • The history of the library: why bigger isn’t always better – Financial Times. “The Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013 and was designed by another Dutch practice, Mecanoo, illustrates the perils of scale. A piece of metropolitan boosterism for the UK’s second-biggest city, it cost £189m and replaced an actually very fine (and now posthumously rather fashionable) Brutalist building by John Madin (1974). Yet within less than two years, its opening hours were almost halved and half the staff made redundant.”
  • Libraries and open data – DCMS. “The workshop started with hearing from colleagues in DCMS about the history of open data and the government’s commitment to it. As well as being responsible for libraries, DCMS also leads for open data for government and this helped to reinforce the continued importance of improving the quality of and access to data. “
  • Baker & Taylor Launches Pop Up Library in United Kingdom – PR Newswire. “Pop Up Libraries generate their own library-branded Wi-Fi network at the sites chosen by the library. By connecting to the network, users can log on to browse eBooks available to borrow and read immediately, without needing an app or a library card, and can be saved to read offline for the duration of the loan. While reading, users are prompted to log in or sign up as a member to take advantage of everything the library provides.”

International news

  • Australia – round-breaking library pod opens in shopping centre – Ipswich First. “pswich Libraries is rewriting the book with an innovative self-service Library Pod opening at Karalee Shopping Village. In an Australian first for a public library, the Pod will allow members to use a mobile phone or library card to browse, borrow and return books.”
  • Global – Comic Books and Libraries – History, Value & Benefit – Princh. “Adding a graphic novel section to your library can generate more visits among children and adults. The more popular heroes would be of general interest, but there are many ‘underground’ or less mainstream characters which would attract the interest of comic lovers and ensure a rich and steady stream of material.”
  • USA – Two teenagers set up a non-profit to donate books with Muslim characters to schools – Metro. “The experience got them wondering why there were so few choices of Muslim-focused books in public access libraries. So they set up their own service, Girls of the Crescent. They buy texts that feature Muslim characters and donate them to schools around America.”
    • An NYC Rap Icon’s Latest Hustle: Hip-Hop Coordinator…At the Library – Narratively. “The position has been over a decade in the making. In the past fifteen years, the library has added programs to teach kids about the deep roots hip-hop has in this borough, though the music and lifestyle originated in the South Bronx.”
    • Chicago Public Library to eliminate late fees, erase debt and begin automatic renewals for up to 45 weeks – Chicago Sun Times. “The Chicago Public Library system plans to eliminate late fees starting Oct. 1. — making Chicago the largest city in the nation to adopt the growing trend. Not only will the move do away with late fees going forward, it will also erase all outstanding overdue fees currently owed to the city. “I think our staff members are going to be practically jumping over their circulation desks to tell people that fines have been eliminated,” Chicago Public Library Commissioner Andrea Telli said.”
    • Why Libraries Are Eliminating Late Fees for Overdue Books – CityLab. ” Just this year, public libraries in cities like Phoenix, Dallas, and Palm Beach, Florida, have changed their policy, and Curtis Rogers, ULC’s communications director, expects more libraries and cities to follow suit.”
    • Down With Dewey – Slate. “Harrington, also director of the Memorial Library at Berry College in Georgia, said she was surprised the ALA didn’t find Dewey’s past problematic until now. “It wasn’t like he’s being judged by 21st-century standards,” she said. “He was called out repeatedly for his sexual harassment behavior during his time.” But Dewey, she said, is considered a legend, “and people will say he’s responsible for making it OK for women to be in the profession.” “
    • The New $41 Million Hunters Point Library Has One Major Flaw – Gothamist. Architect builds “state of the art” public library with no disabled access to fiction shelves.

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Top honours for Turriff reader – Grampian Online. “Winners took home certificates and a medal produced on a 3D printer. Finlay also received prizes donated by Mackie’s of Scotland – a £100 book gift card and a year’s supply of ice cream.”
  • BradfordBradford’s library and museum workers in cuts strike – BBC. “Workers at Bradford’s libraries and museums have voted to go on strike over what a union called “swingeing cuts”. Members of the Unite union voted to take industrial action with strike dates set to be announced this week. Unite say the council’s “hardline attitude” is in “sharp contrast” with its bid to be UK City of Culture 2025. Bradford Council said it was “disappointed” Unite members had voted for strike action.”
  • Brent – Kensal Rise Library’s victorious re-opening following eight-year battle – Kilburn Times. “Hundreds of wellwishers attended Kensal Rise Community Library, in Bathurst Gardens, for its grand opening ceremony, which coincided with the anniversary of its opening by Mark Twain in 1900. ” … “”The fight has demanded almost 10 years of extraordinary effort by people who have never made a library before.”
  • Bristol – Every Bristol library could get up to £4,000 – Bristol Live. “The money for the city’s 27 libraries will come from a new “libraries innovation fund”,  announced by Bristol City Council on Tuesday, October 1. The exact amount has not been released but it will be around £100,000.” The announcement follows last year’s u-turn by Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees on planned £1.4million budget cuts that would have seen 17 libraries close. The ruling Labour cabinet instead agreed to spend more than a quarter of a million pounds to create a new plan to keep as much of the city’s library service open as possible.”
  • Bromley Bromley libraries strikers proved right – private company admits job cuts – Socialist Party. “Unite ran a campaign opposing the transfer and predicted that it would lead to job cuts. GLL and Bromley denied the union claims and, as recently as a month ago, threatened to sue Unite regional officer and Socialist Party member Onay Kasab for libel and defamation unless the claims were withdrawn. Unite refused – and has been proved right. GLL is now proposing to cut 30 library staff. Yet library workers are on strike precisely because the service is at breaking point due to unfilled vacancies”
  • Buckinghamshire – Amersham library moves into temporary location – Mix 96. “The library, which is currently located on the Chiltern Pools site in Amersham, is due to be demolished in November and library services from that building will end in October. This is because part of the new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre will be built over the area where the library is at the moment. In order to ensure residents still have access to a local library for the duration of the building works, the council offices, which are just across the road from Chiltern Pools, will host the library during the development.”
  • Cornwall – Redruth library could be knocked down for or converted into homes – Cornwall Live. “The building, located in the town centre on Clinton Road, currently serves as a library, which is run by Redruth Town Council. However, it is hoped that by early next year, all library services will be transferred to the former Cornish Studies Centre on nearby Alma Place.”
    • Truro Library to be run under new partnership – Packet. “Truro Community Library has been safeguarded for the community under a new partnership between Cornwall Council and Truro City Council. Under the agreement, the library was transferred to the city council as from yesterday. The ownership of the Passmore Edwards Library and the lease on Truro Technical Schools will be transferred to Truro City Council at the same time.”
  • Denbighshire – Denbigh Library marks a special anniversary – Denbighshire Free Press. 30 years.
  • Devon – From Lego to tattoo art: Devon libraries set for Fun Palaces 2019 – Exmouth Journal.
  • Durham – Join the Digital Revolution this Libraries Week – Newton News.
  • Edinburgh – Edinburgh libraries start Dog Friendly Thursdays where pooches can be fed and watered – Edinburgh Live. “Three libraries across Edinburgh will be holding regular Dog Friendly Thursdays, starting this week on October 3.” … “The move is aimed at tackling loneliness and social isolation, meaning dog-owners no longer have to worry about leaving their pets outside when they visit the library.” … “The scheme follows a similar successful initiative in Perthshire.”
  • Essex – ‘Come and join in the party to save our library’ – Harwich and Mannington – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Save Manningtree Library Action Group is holding the party as part of an action day over Essex County Council’s plans to create community-run libraries today from 11am and 1pm. ” … “A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “We know several ‘love your library’ events are planned outside some libraries on Saturday. While we applaud the organisers’ passion for libraries, we would stress these are events which have been organised independently and are not taking place inside our buildings or on library land. “
    • In pictures: Campaigners hold huge street party to show love for library – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. ““Community libraries, we know they are not sustainable at any level, they can’t deliver the service we need.” Campaigners raised more money for the campaign on the day and also received 230 more signatures for the petition. The action day comes after more than 1,600 people signed a petition against plans for volunteers to run many of the county’s libraries.”
    • Letter: Library comments are a disgrace – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Complaint about councillor comments.
    • Library campaigners stage countywide day of action – Yellow Advertiser. “Thousands joined library campaigners SOLE’s countywide day of action on Saturday with protests against what campaigners call a ‘closure plan by stealth’ taking place from Hadleigh to Harlow, and from Stanway to Shenfield. In Manningree hundreds joined a street party outside the town’s library, while in Galleywood an exhibition of children’s artwork in appreciation of their library was displayed and hundreds signed a petition against the plans. In Broomfield dozens marched from Church Green to the village library, where speakers called on their local parish council to withdraw its library takeover bid. “So called community libraries are a closure plan by stealth”, said SOLE’s Andy Abbott.”
    • Save Our Libraries Essex protest day attracts hundreds – This is Local London. “A street party held outside Manningtree library arguably attracted the biggest crowd, while in Galleywood an exhibition of children’s artwork was displayed as residents signed the petition. “So called community libraries are a closure plan by stealth,” said Save Our Libraries Essex’s (SOLE) Andy Abbott, who participated in a march for Broomfield Library.”

Manchester – Library Live 2019 – YouTube.