So the first battle announced in the ongoing war on public libraries is in Hampshire, with 10 out of 48 are under threat plus threats to opening hours and to the pre-existing volunteer libraries there. Local authors and residents have been quick to protest while the local, mainly Conservative, politicians acquiesce and the council itself blames central government while at the same time trying to blackmail locals into becoming volunteers. The critical thing now is if a strong group of local campaigners coalesce, as they did in Essex, or if the public let inaction decide for them.

It was also sad to see Stockport use a windfall from Greater Manchester to no improve its libraries but to pay for staffing cuts by introducing Open+. While the technology itself is not necessarilyy a bad thing, using the technology to pay for staffing cuts normally is. It was also a bit of a bang-the-head-on-the-desk moment to read that the local council is saying it’s looking for a different name than “library” for its, um, library service. “Library” is a brand-name known everywhere, councillors. Own it, don’t disown it. So not the best of starts for 2020 proper. Let’s hope it’s not a bad omen for the rest of the year.

Local news by authority


National news

  • Audiobooks: The rise and rise of the books you don’t read – BBC. “Audiobooks are in the midst of a boom, with Deloitte predicting that the global market will grow by 25 per cent in 2020 to US$3.5 billion (£2.6 billion). Compared with physical book sales, audio is the baby of the publishing world, but it is growing up fast.”
  • Building Confidence in Digital Resources – Niche Academy. Friday Jan 17 at 1:30 pm GMT. “In this free 45-minute webinar Jared Oates, COO of Niche Academy, will explain the features and benefits of Niche Academy’s online training tutorials including how to make best use of video training and how to build your confidence answering enquiries about digital resources. “
  • Public Libraries Forum May 2020 – Call for papers – National Acquisitions Group. “The next NAG public libraries forum will be held on 15th May 2020 at Friends House in London.  We hope this convenient venue close to Euston will encourage attendees from around the UK to attend for another informative and useful day with strong networking opportunities …”

International news

  • Morocco – World’s oldest library reopens in Fez: ‘You can hurt us, but you can’t hurt the books’ – Guardian. “This, it is widely believed, is the oldest library in the world – and soon it will be open to the general public again.” … “In 2012, the ministry of culture, which manages the Qarawiyyin library and university, asked Chaouni to assess the library, and she was pleasantly surprised when her architecture firm was awarded the contract, in a field traditionally seen as a man’s province.”
  • USA / Global – Public Libraries Reach Record-High Ebook and Audiobook Usage in 2019 – Rakuten Overdrive. “Due to their creative efforts in curation, managing multiple lending models and engaging patrons, librarians helped drive public library circulation of digital books to record highs in 2019. Libraries and schools around the world enabled their patrons and students to check out 326 million ebooks, audiobooks and digital magazines in the past 12 months, a 20% increase over the previous year. “
    • County, city libraries eliminate all fines in joint effort for equity – Call Newspapers. “St. Louis’ two largest library systems are going fine-free starting this month with a “New Year, No Fines” initiative. St. Louis County Library and St. Louis Public Library announced Tuesday they will no longer charge fines on late materials beginning in the new year.”

“We are always looking for ways to remove barriers and increase access to library materials and services. Removing overdue fees helps make the library’s resources more accessible and supports literacy efforts for our entire community.”

County library Director Kristen Sorth

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Ian Rankin thriller at top of Aberdeen library list – Evening Express. “Ian Rankin’s detective tale In A House Of Lies was the book most borrowed from Aberdeen’s 18 libraries, according to new figures provided to The Evening Express by Aberdeen City Council. But the undisputed most popular author in the north-east is children’s writer Jeff Kinney, who wrote the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid series.”
  • AberdeenshireAberdeenshire Council seeking views on library services – Buchan Observer. “As part of the Aberdeenshire Council’s budget-setting process, savings were identified for the library service and the possibility of the closure of some facilities in smaller villages was outlined. Since then, Live Life Aberdeenshire has been working hard to look at alternative ways of achieving savings by taking a broader view of how library services are provided.”
  • Bolton – Secretary visits Bolton library and praises collection – Bolton News. Baroness Nicky Morgan: “The former MP tweeted: “Wonderful to visit @BoltonLMS this afternoon – they have an amazing collection of national & local treasures. “It is vital that we support our local museums & libraries up & down the county they offer such a sense of place & civic pride bringing local communities together.”
  • Cumbria – Our changing libraries now host story telling, the internet and coffee mornings – North West Evening Mail. “Completion of £1.2m building project will be next stage in letting Barrow’s main books base adapt to the needs of a modern world “
  • Essex – Manningtree library campaigners win award for action – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “Manningtree Town Council has now decided to recognise the campaign group’s remarkable efforts by honouring members with the Community Engagement Award. Holly Turner, from Save Manningtree Library, said: “I’m delighted that the Save Manningtree Library group have been recognised and rewarded for all of their hard work and tireless campaigning. “
    • Days of action to save Essex library staff – Harwich and Manningtree Standard. “The events will be part of a countywide Save our Librarians – No Closures By Stealth day of action. “. Campaigner says “The events will be part of a countywide Save our Librarians – No Closures By Stealth day of action. “
  • Glasgow – Attendance figures in decline across Glasgow’s public libraries – Glasgow Live. “A Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that 2015 saw 5,076,771 visits to the local library compared to 4,780,031 in 2019. This was however, a three per cent increase from the year before which saw 4,633,288 library visits with 5,088,418 and 5,045,552 visits in 2017 and 2016 respectively.”
  • Hackney – Hackney Council takes on single-use plastics with new water fountains at leisure centres and libraries – Hackney Gazette. “Mayor Phil Glanville and environment and waste chief Cllr Jon Burke opened one of the fountains at London Fields Lido this week. The others are at Clapton Library, Homerton Library, Shoreditch Library, Clissold Leisure Centre and Hackney Marshes Centre. These join those installed last year at CLR James Library, Mabley Green, and Hackney Marshes Pavilion, with the equivalent of 7,500 plastic bottles saved by the fountain at the CLR James Library alone since it was installed in July.”
  • Hampshire – Council to reveal proposed cuts to Hampshire library service – Advertiser and Times. “Plans for the future of Hampshire libraries – which could include proposals for closures and reductions in opening hours – will be revealed this week. A 10-week public consultation over a county-wide restructure of the service will be launched at midday on Thursday.”
    • Gaiman, Sparkes and Rowson sign letter against Hampshire library closures – BookSeller. “Scores of authors, including Neil Gaiman, Ali Sparkes, Pauline Rowson and Philip Hoare, have signed an open letter to Hampshire County Council calling for it to ditch its “shameful” proposal to close 10 libraries.”
    • Library closure plans see angry reaction from residents – Basingstoke Gazette. “A number of Basingstoke residents got involved in the debate on social media, including Stefan Powell, who said: “This sucks!” Another, Sarah Newman, said: “This is sad and such a shame when it is so important to get children into reading and it is not always easy for people to go and buy books hence why libraries are so important. “
    • Maria Miller and local councillors respond to plans that could see libraries close – Basingstoke Gazette. “Speaking to the Gazette on Friday, Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke, said that it was “right” that Hampshire County Council were looking into the proposals.” … “Meanwhile, Laura Edwards, who is a ward councillor in Chineham, said she understands the need said she was “disappointed”. “I’m a big fan of Chineham library, I went there when I was little,” Cllr Edwards said. “I appreciate the need for it, but it is a very disappointing decision. “
    • Neil Gaiman leads Hampshire writers protesting library cuts – Guardian. “Local authors including Neil Gaiman – who grew up in Hampshire and has a road named after him in Portsmouth – Philip Hoare, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Ali Sparkes and Claire Fuller wrote to the council on Friday to “reverse this shameful decision”. The writers described the two options in the public consultation as disastrous for Hampshire’s communities”

“An open library is proof that we value community and culture. A closed library is a sign of a society – and a county council – that is turning its back on both.”

Neil Gaiman and others in open letter
  • Ten Hampshire libraries face axe – Southern Daily Echo. “The number of libraries across the county could drop from 48 to 38 and the remaining ones could see a 15% reduction in their opening hours as Hampshire County Council is aiming to save £1.76m by 2021. “

“If the community does not wish to transition to a new delivery model then it is possible that these libraries may close” … “If the government were making no reduction in terms of public funding to councils then we wouldn’t have to make decisions that are as difficult as those that we have to make. We would be reviewing the service anyway but we probably wouldn’t be looking at the possibility of closing ten libraries”

Hampshire Council
  • Ten Hampshire libraries earmarked for closure – BBC. “Recreation councillor Sean Woodward said: “We’ve seen in the last 10 years something like two million fewer books being issued per year so it’s a huge change but we want to make sure that the libraries which are open are thriving, well run, well attended and well used by our residents.””
  • Hillingdon – Bookworms Online started by Hillingdon Libraries – Hillingdon and Uxbridge Times. “The monthly virtual book club will encourage residents to borrow or download books in advance of the scheduled social media discussion, which will take place on Twitter from 6- 7pm on the third Thursday of each month. “
  • Lancashire – Literary lovers asked to have some pun and name Lancashire’s new mobile libraries – Lancashire Post. “People are being asked to choose from a shortlist of 11, with the top three names set to adorn the first three vehicles. Everyone has until 5pm on Friday 17 January to get involved, with the winning names due to be announced the following week. The list of names are available at http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/libraries, then follow the link to vote.”
    • Staff Transferred From County To City In Harris Shake-Up – Preston Hub. “The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library have welcomed Harris library staff who have transferred over from Lancashire County Council to Preston City Council to create one Harris team. The Harris is managed by Preston City Council working in partnership with Lancashire County Council and is in a transformative point in its history to create the UK’s first blended museum, art gallery and library. Bringing the museum and library together as a single service will help the Harris to move forward with its unique and exciting vision to reimagine the Harris and ensure the Grade 1 listed building remains a cultural, civic and community hub for the city and county.”
  • Leicester – Library fines waived during January amnesty – Leicester Council. “The amnesty on fines applies to all and any Leicester library books – no matter how long you might have had them. Historical charges which may be listed against books you have already returned will also be wiped. The initiative is part of the council’s anti-poverty work, and is aimed at ensuring everyone has the opportunity to access to free library services in Leicester. It is one of a number of ways in which the city council is working to reduce the impact of poverty, improve lives and help children to reach their full potential.”
    • Vote for your favourite book of the decade with Leicester libraries – Leicester City Council. “Throughout the month of January, anyone aged 12 and over can vote for up to three titles of any genre. You can vote for any adult or junior book, either fiction or non-fiction – they just need to have been published between 2010 and 2019.”
  • Manchester – Crumpsall is getting a new multi-million pound library and leisure centre – this is how it will look – Manchester Evening News. “Coun Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council’s executive member for skills, culture and leisure, said: “The majority of the city’s leisure centres and libraries have undergone major transformation over the last decade to ensure we can offer our residents modern, attractive facilities that are a real asset to their local community.”
  • North Yorkshire – Scarborough and Filey libraries host 64 Million Artists challenge – North Yorkshire County Council. “Each day in January the libraries will set a creative challenge, which will take only five to ten minutes. These range from creative writing to drawing, reading, crafting, poetry and music.”
    • Dogs drop in to library to lend an ear to young readers – North Yorkshire County Council. “Read2Dogs sessions are to be launched at Selby library to help children improve their confidence as readers by sharing books with Dora and Morgan, two Pets as Therapy dogs that will visit the library with their owners, Rachael and Tony Wilson, of Selby.”
  • Northamptonshire – Wollaston library volunteers ready to lend a hand – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “More than 20 members of the community have volunteered to staff the service after Northamptonshire County Council’s decision to close 17 libraries unless groups stepped-in. “

“It’s good that we have been given the opportunity to run it but it should never have happened. “

Soon to be library volunteer