I was out this morning helping my wife clear up after the local Christmas parade. Feeling a bit tired after both this and playing a certain festive gentlemen the day before (205 children seen in 270 minutes – a new personal best), I got home to see someone had tweeted me that Andrew Marr had straight out asked Boris Johnson about public libraries on national TV. After getting up off the floor, I produced this transcript of the conversation:

Hmm. It’s worth pointing out that the record of the Conservatives since 2010 has been over 500 closed plus over 500 now running only with unpaid staff. Assuming we accept his word that this was the fault of local authorities and nothing of course to do with central government – a pretty big ask, admittedly – it’s great to see Mr Johnson going on record to say that he “loves” libraries, even though the more cynical of us may wonder if he knows how many he has. However, if he is going to wait until both after Brexit is “done” and the economy is working unti they’re invested in then the sector may have to wait quite some time, even if we believe the prime minister. He has, after all, already got a patchy record on statements about libraries.


National news

“We are a volunteer-run, community library, reliant on donations and volunteer time to keep us open. Last week a homeless gentleman, who uses the library toilet to wash, amongst other things, gave us a donation of 85 pence. How much is it worth to keep a library open? To the gentleman concerned, 85 pence is a lot of money. I am reminded of your comment piece last week, about the value put on public libraries in the Party manifestos.”

Chris Clarke, Friends of Jesmond Library
  • CILIP welcomes Labour Party Manifesto commitment to libraries – CILIP. “Responding to the Manifesto announcement, CILIP CEO Nick Poole comments, “This is a real win for CILIP, our partners at the EveryLibrary Institute and for everyone that has been campaigning to raise libraries up the political agenda. Public libraries are the heart of their community and they are in urgent need of reinvestment after 10 years of public sector cuts.””
  • Corbyn: I guarantee libraries will be protected under Labour – Guardian. “Speaking at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London on Sunday, the Labour leader attacked the Conservatives’ policy on libraries, saying that the party knows “the price of everything and the value of nothing”. “They’ve closed hundreds of libraries because they don’t recognise, and don’t want to recognise, the lifeline that libraries provide as a free service open to all regardless of wealth,” said Corbyn”

“The Labour leader, asked if he could promise his pledge to protect libraries would be honoured should Labour win the general election, told Penguin: “I can absolutely give you this guarantee.” He said that libraries gave him “a fantastic start in life and I want that for everybody”.

  • General election 2019: Emeli Sande and Lily Allen back £1bn Labour arts pledge – Mirror. “Labour said their ‘Arts for All’ charter aims to give all of Britain access to culture. It includes £1billion for building and upgrading libraries, museums and art galleries and £175 million a year in an arts pupil premium to give every primary school student in the country access the arts.  Research by the House of Commons Library has shown that libraries, museums and art galleries across England have had their funding slashed by at least £640m since 2010.””
  • Two Great Books To Fight Stigma Around Autism in Tweens & Teens – Book Riot. “The library can be a safe haven, but both public and school libraries need to take a few steps to ensure it is a place someone with autism wants to visit.”

“Create a sensory space with board games, fidget toys, calming lights and scenes, bean bags. This is not to be confused as a play area for children—a space that becomes too busy and loud will be the opposite of what someone with autism will want to engage with.”

  • Want to build democracy? Then build libraries – Financial Times. “Populists are starving public libraries of funds, while India’s rightwing BJP is building ‘party libraries’ for its members” … “Libraries are secular gathering places, and it’s remarkable how much of the scholarship on libraries supports the argument that they act as a vaccination against urban loneliness, a refuge for the poorest and the most vulnerable, especially in cities that have very little else to offer them … In the UK and much of the world, libraries already face threats — funding cuts, branch closures, a lack of staff and resources. If we were serious about protecting democracy, we would start with saving the libraries we already have, and then build far, far more across the globe. “

  • What are libraries worth? – CILIP. “The report’s conclusions are that Suffolk Libraries is successfully responding to the social issues of loneliness and isolation and now has insight into the social value it is creating. The authors say: “With this information, the organisation is in a strong position to make strategic and operational decisions that could help them create even more positive change in these communities” and they recommended that Suffolk Libraries continue impact measurement to gain deeper understanding of their social value.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Joseph’s love of libraries – Messenger. “As part of his ‘Library Marathon’ Joseph Coelho visited a library in each Greater Manchester authority to join and receive his library card. His journey started yesterday morning at Stockport Central Library and ended at Altrincham Library in the afternoon, but not before making a visit at Bolton’s Westhoughton Library. “
  • Bromley – Council votes to take next step towards library move – News in Beckenham. “Despite fierce local opposition including a petition which attracted more than 4,500 signatures in just three weeks, Bromley Council has voted in favour of pushing forward with plans to replace the current Beckenham Library with new housing and moving the library facility to Beckenham Halls.”
  • Calderdale – Calderdale to lead UK in exploring air quality and respiratory health with £25,000 project – Halifax Courier. “Calderdale Libraries will run a project focusing on ‘clean air’ after the service won a grant of almost £25,000 from the highly competitive Engaging Libraries Programme.The new initiative aims to engage the public with research around air quality and respiratory health.”
  • Cornwall – “Food for fines” amnesty in 15 Cornwall libraries to benefit food banks – Cornwall Council. “Food for fines’ was suggested by Cornwall Council Library and Information Service Manager Linda Moffatt, and her idea quickly gained support to bring a little Christmas cheer to those families facing hardship on low incomes.”
  • Dundee – Call for Dundee’s libraries to join dog-friendly revolution – Courier. “Library bosses at Leisure & Culture Dundee say they are considering trialling the idea. It comes after Perth and Kinross announced last year that “well-behaved” dogs would be permitted inside its local libraries on Fridays. Broughty Ferry councillor Craig said many Dundee businesses already had a positive attitude to pooches and libraries could also see the benefits.”
  • Essex – General Election candidates show support for Essex library campaign – This is Local London. “Labour, Liberal-Democrat, and Green MP hopefuls joined campaigners in city centre information stall, an event opened to candidates from all parties. ” … “Chelmsford’s Conservative candidate Vicky Ford took a different view, saying: “Each Library is different in what it offers, but volunteers can be extremely beneficial. For example, Springfield library is extremely popular and very successful, it is also run entirely by volunteers”
  • Glasgow – Refurbished Partick Library to reopen to public next month – Glasgow Live.
  • Kirklees – Death cafes are coming to Huddersfield and this is why – Examiner Live. “Kirklees Libraries will work with libraries in Newcastle in the North East and Redbridge in London, engaging the public through interactive installations, death cafés, panel debates and workshops in local hospices. A programme of activities and events for people to get involved in will be announced during the next six months.”
  • Lancashire – Celebrate Lancashire on its special day with one of these events – Lancashire Post. “Libraries across the county will be celebrating Lancashire Day today. Local historian, Dick Gillingham will be at Savick Library sharing songs, poems and historic images.”
  • Lewisham – Archibald Corbett Community Library – News Shopper. “Previously named Torridon Library, the Archibald Corbett Community Library, Arts and Heritage Centre is a fantastic local resource that opens every day of the week with the exception of Wednesdays and Sundays. Not only is it a fully functioning library, but it also works to encourage artistic advancement; for example by hosting children’s arts and crafts sessions, as well as promoting local artists’ work by selling their products, such as cards and paintings. “
  • Lincolnshire – Homeless troublemaker banned from four libraries after being threatening and aggressive to staff Grimsby Live. “Aaron Beacock’s sometimes aggressive and threatening behaviour, mainly at Cleethorpes library, has been frightening for staff and customers who have been subjected to it.”
  • North Yorkshire – Volunteers to mark first “successful” year running Goathland Library – Northern Echo. “Volunteers who have worked tirelessly to provide a fully-functioning library at Goathland Community Hub since it was formed almost a year ago, said it had become an asset to the village. “
    • Hidden disability sunflower scheme at Harrogate library – North Yorkshire County Council. “Harrogate library customers with hidden disabilities are set to benefit from more support with the pilot of the sunflower lanyard scheme. ” … “At the library, customers will be able to pick up one of the lanyards, which have been designed to act as a discreet sign to staff that they may need additional help.”
  • Northamptonshire – First Northamptonshire library up for sale at Higham Ferrers – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “The library is being sold by the county council for £400,000 although the authority says it would still welcome offers for the building that would allow it to continue as a community managed library. The library, which will cease operating on December 31, is one of 22 the council wants to hand over to community groups in a bid to reduce its annual library running cost bill.”

“Current Northamptonshire situation: There were 36 libraries in total in the former statutory system. The NCC Cabinet decision in May 2019 meant that 22 places were told that their libraries would have  to be community-managed but 5 of those would still be ‘statutory’. Volunteers at one of the five have now withdrawn their offer to run that library so it is returning fully to statutory status with a paid member of staff in the New Year. This leaves 17 libraries to be volunteer libraries outside of the statutory system.  If Higham Ferrers does not survive then that group will go down to 16. ”

Alison Richards via email
  • Pembrokeshire – Special Christmas delivery at your local library – Western Telegraph. “Children can post their letters to Father Christmas using the special post box at libraries in Fishguard, Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Tenby this festive season. Father Christmas will reply to all letters but as he is very busy at this time of year, he will have to leave them in the library for collection. “
  • St HelensTop prizes to be won in St Helens Libraries’ giveaway for teenagers – St Helens Reporter. “Young people who are aged 11-18 years old are encouraged to either borrow a library book or download an eBook, eComic or eMagazine from St Helens Libraries before Friday, December 13 to be entered into the ‘FOMO-R’ ­– or Fear of Missing Out on Reading – prize draw.”
  • Sheffield – How two young men are changing the library scene in Sheffield – Star. “John Kamara and Macole Lannaman, aged 27 and 23 respectively, are the managers of the Basil Griffith Library, based in the Sadacca on the Wicker. Earlier this year, The Star told how the library opened in an attempt to better engage the black community with reading and it has proven to have worked, with ‘a lot more people’ getting involved. ” … “Volunteers are an important part of Basil Griffith Library because the operation of it relies on donations raised through fundraising events.”
  • Suffolk – Thurston Library volunteer wins People’s Champion award – Bury Free Press. ” A Thurston Library volunteer has won recognition at the first Suffolk Libraries People’s Champion Awards. Emma Fakes – young volunteer of the year – was among seven award winners from across the county. Suffolk Libraries has 1,170 volunteers who gave 4,771 days last year.” “
  • Surrey – Talking Books and Libraries by Alyssa Gobin,Reigate College – This is Local London. ” On 31st October I visited Redhill Library where I talked to librarians Tina Campey, Adela Cross and Dawn Cleaver, which enabled me to gain an insight into the importance of the library and reading. “
  • Vale of Glamorgan – Now Vale customers can borrow iPads from their library – Cardiffian. “The project is led by Newydd Housing Association and Digital Communities Wales (DCM). Tablets are loaded with library apps, social media, Duolingo and the Vale council app.  Each tablet has access to mobile data so people can download their own apps and use it as a personal device  ” … ““All the libraries were at different IT skill levels so what we’ve said to them is: Learn it yourself until you feel confident giving it out to the public.” “
  • Warrington – There’s an awful lot of coffee – at the library – Warrington Worldwide. “The town’s libraries are launching a range of artisan coffee called “Brazilian Book Blend” to emphasise the fact that a good book and a good brew make a perfect partnership. Coffee is the most popular drink worldwide – according to the British Coffee Association more than 95 million cups a day are drunk in the UK.. LiveWire has teamed up with Amber Coffee, a north west-based artisan micro coffee roaster to create a special library blend of coffee. “