Purdah, that strangely colonial term for councils not being political during an election campaign, is kicking in but there are a few things still happening in library-land.

Two local stories. The first is that Hertfordshire are having to postpone the transfer of their library service to a mutual because of how complicated it is. Something that needs bearing in mind with those wanting to transfer their service out of direct council control is the complexity. Think of it as a mini-Brexit but, thankfully, without Farage. Unless you’re doing it really wrong. Secondly, Bradford are finally consulting on the deep cuts it is proposing for its library service which has already resulted in strike action. Bradford’s entry on this website chronicling the last ten years is a long and terrible one and to add this injury on top is horrible. I hope the people of the city let them know how bad.

Finally, Libraries are starting to be mentioned in articles concerning the General Election, notably of course in the Guardian – ever the official newspaper of public services – but also a smattering in the local press too. While this is very much a one-issue election, it would be good to see some more mentions so politicians are reminded of how important the service is.

Changes by local authority

National news

Are English libraries serious about fighting ‘fake news’? – Mechanical Dolphin. “Are public libraries’ collections supposed to be free from pernicious items of “fake news”? It seems unlikely. Does librarians’ training immunise them from fakery? Not always.” … “Public libraries are proud of the relatively high degree of community trust which they enjoy. They recognise the need to play a role in the turbulent information ecoystem of today’s digital world, even if they haven’t fully defined or enacted that role yet.”

The leave-voting seat where the library matters as much as Brexit – Guardian. “Some observers might view the fight over the library as a proxy for the underlying factors that have been linked to Brexit: years of cuts, a sense that people have lost control over their own lives, and a pervading belief that places far from London have been forgotten. But in Darlington, it did not feel like part of a sweeping national story. Instead, a campaign ostensibly about a library became a focus for other long-held concerns about the direction of the town.”

A Welsh library bus left to rot in a back garden has had an amazing makeover – Wales Online. “A Welsh 1960s library bus which had been left in a garden to rot for almost 40 years has been restored to its former glory. The Aberdare Public Library bus, which dates back to 1961, had been parked up in the back garden of house in Aberaman since 1981. ”


International news

  • Finland – How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’ – CityLab. “In a country that boasts one of the world’s highest literacy rates, the arrival of the new central library in Helsinki last year was a kind of moon-landing-like moment of national bonding.” … “Patrons can even borrow season tickets for the Helsinki’s popular professional basketball games. Only on the topmost level—in a soaring, light-filled space Laitio calls “book heaven”—will one find actual volumes for readers, a 100,000-book collection that’s in very high demand.”
  • Global – IoT Technologies in Libraries – Princh. “The Internet of Things (IoT), a recent shift in technology that libraries’ and library staff should be familiar with as it may help improve the services, resources and experience that libraries’ can provide. In this week’s post Barbi Gardiner, an IT librarian, social media manager and founder of Library Tech talk, discusses all things IoT and libraries.
  • USA – Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives – OCLC. “Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.”
    • Library deploys drone to probe mystery of hidden anti-Trump books – Independent. “Someone has been hiding books lately – specifically, those that explore politics through a progressive lens or criticise president Donald Trump. They wind up misfiled in out-of-the-way corners where readers will be sure not to find them. “I am going to continue hiding these books in the most obscure places I can find to keep this propaganda out of the hands of young minds,” the mystery book relocator wrote in a note left for Ms Ammon, the library director, in the facility’s comment box. “Your liberal angst gives me great pleasure.”
    • Why Libraries Have a Public Spirit That Most Museums Lack – Hyperallegenic. “I’ve been reading about the roots of both institutions in the United States, and they have evolved in similar ways; so how do they diverge? And is this divergence relevant to the ways in which a stunningly broad swath of society feels welcome within a public library and not a museum?”

Local news by authority