Another week of, on aggregate, good news for libraries. The biggest of these is Bradford, that has gone from wanting to, basically, strip its library service to, rather, keep it all open but with more co-locations and other services coming in.

The last decade has been very much a period of co-locationing libraries with other services in order to both cut costs and maximise footfall, although this has been hidden by the darker news of other more serious cuts. Done right, these locations can be joyous things, with all partners benefitting and places abuzz. Done wrong and it’s hard to find the library in amongst the other services, with the core purpose (free, neutral, access to information, books, study space) being overwhelmed by partner services, some disturbingly commercial in nature.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • The Freckle Report 2020: An analysis of public libraries in the US, UK and Australia (Freckle library reports) – Tim Coates, £92. “This report analyses the historic performance of public library services in the US, UK and Australia. It contains a narrative of the past ten years, showing declines in use and how widely they have occurred. It looks at the performance of different library activities and of different categories of expenditure on libraries. It looks at the use of different reading formats that are available and how much they are used in public libraries compared to the wider reading public. It identifies the purpose of reading in libraries and what influences people to read their books. The report draws conclusions and makes recommendations for improvement. “
  • “I’ve seen firsthand what we lose if we don’t invest in libraries” – Big Issue. “The impact of cuts to services like libraries, youth services, culture and sport spreads deep into communities and leaves lasting damage. Dr Emma Davidson has studied the fallout” … “During my research for the Leverhulme Trust on public libraries and austerity, I’ve seen firsthand all that we will lose if disinvestment in public libraries continues. So, what’s so special about a public library? Well, for starters they are a free and accessible community resource – something that is becoming ever more scarce. When working well, they can be a vibrant community hub for education, digital inclusion, workforce development, community engagement and more.”
  • Making the Case For Tor Relays in Libraries – Medium. “We don’t pay by the byte, so all that time we are closed is time when library bandwidth is going to waste. So, what to do with all the extra bandwidth? If libraries believe they are public good then it should be utilized instead of being wasted. I advocate that all libraries install a Tor relay in their building.”
  • New year, new culture secretary: Oliver Dowden arrives at the DCMS – Museums and Heritage Advisor.
  • UK literacy campaign set for launch in city – JMU Journalism. “Liverpool Central Library has been chosen to host the launch of a national campaign to get adults reading. The Quick Reads initiative, established in 2006, enlists six popular authors each year to write an easily accessible book.”
  • Saturdays in the library prepared me for Paxman – Big Issue. Bobby Seagull: “Libraries are more than just books, they represent what it means to be truly human. They contain the minds of our ancestors as well as the latest thinking of contemporary minds. We need our libraries, as they are shining beacons of knowledge, sharing and inclusive communities.”


Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Chance to have your say over future shape of district’s libraries service – Keighley News. “Bradford Council is seeking people’s views on how they want to see Keighley Library and others evolve in the years ahead. The council said a consultation exercise held over the past 12 months had been a huge success, with more than 3,000 responses received. But it added that the current model for libraries on its own was “not financially sustainable” in the long term. “
  • Bromley – Deal on Libraries – Bromley Borough News. “This issue is no doubt set to rumble on for a while yet. Unite, among others, will continue to see a privately run library network as inherently dangerous, yet Bromley will point to big savings made by using GLL. The strike may have ended, but the debate certainly has not.”
  • Essex – Libraries turn a page for the 21st century – Gazette News. “After announcing there would be no closures, council leader David Finch told a meeting he was pleased the consultation had “reinvigorated” the public’s desire and love for libraries. As part of Essex 2020 – a year long, county wide celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) – the council is set to utilise this dual purpose of its libraries. “
  • Greenwich – Plumstead Centre Library opens its doors today after multi-million refurbishment – News Shopper. “The Grade II listed building has undergone a 15-month refurbishment to renovate the old Plumstead Library and created a new, modernised one accompanied with a leisure centre, community rooms and a cafe. Described as a “brilliant unifying community space at the heart of Plumstead” with “fantastic new facilities,” a launch event was held to celebrate the official opening of the Plumstead Centre. “
  • Hampshire – Number of users at Basingstoke’s closure-threatened libraries go up – Romsey Advertiser. “More than 120,000 people used Chineham or South Ham libraries between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. This is up from 118,000 in 2015-16. This two per cent rise bucks a trend across the rest of the Hampshire, which saw an eight per cent decrease over four years and a 15 per cent decrease since 2017-18. Chineham saw more than 78,000 people use its library last year, making it the busiest of the ten at risk of closure and 21st in total. “
    • Campaigners make a stand against Gosport library closure threat – News. “Elson Library in Gosport held a drop-in session on Tuesday which saw dozens of residents discuss how they use the space and what a lifeline it is to this community. It comes as Hampshire County Council consults on plans to cut 10 libraries or reduce opening hours by a quarter to save money. Veronica Walker, who has lived in Elson all her life, said: ‘It’s not just about losing a library, it’s a community hub, not just for the elderly but for young and children. It would be a great loss.'”
    • Reader’s letter: ‘closing libraries is a retrograde act’ – Hampshire Chronicle. “It’s significant that the consultation (whether genuine or politically tactical) on the future of Hampshire’s library service states that the first of three options which are not being consulted on at this time is: “transfer(ring) Hampshire Libraries to a Trust Model. This is because Trust models are still in their infancy and the County Council would need to be convinced of their resilience and sustainability efore considering Trusts as a potential option.””
  • Newham – Drag Queen Story Time event defended by Newham Council after Twitter attacks – Newham Recorder. “Newham Council’s Twitter account saw 1,600 messages in response to a tweet publicising the first of its Drag Queen Story Times in Canning Town Library on February 7. A majority of users attacked the plans, questioning how appropriate the event was, while a few signalled their support. Deputy Mayor and lead member for community neighbourhoods, Cllr Charlene McLean, said: “These special reading events are designed to be fun, capture the imagination of children and get them used to embracing differences in others and treating everyone as equal from an early age. “
  • Northamptonshire – Earls Barton Library and Community Centre volunteers celebrate latest chapter – Northamptonshire Telegraph. “Supporters who fought for three years to save Earls Barton’s library cheered as the ribbon was cut marking the opening of the newly-refurbished centre. About 80 people raised their glasses of fizz to welcome the new era of volunteer-run provision which had been under threat after Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) budget cuts.”
  • North Tyneside – Revealed: Massive scheme to transform Tynemouth’s tired library – Chronicle Live. “If the plans are approved, the building would be completely rebuilt as a modern hub that could accommodate library and financial services under one roof. The council will continue to operate the library and will partner with Newcastle Building Society to secure the creation of a community branch inside and private apartments could also be created above.”
  • North YorkshireMalton library introduces read to dogs sessions – Minster FM. “Read2Dogs was launched at Selby library with two rescue dogs from Serbia, who act as therapy dogs with their owners. Malton library has decided to follow suit with Rosie the black Labrador, who is meeting budding readers at a taster session at 10.30am on Wednesday 19 February. “
  • Oxfordshire – Banbury library part of new recycle scheme – Banbury Guardian. “Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) is to launch a new trial service to residents with a way to ensure their unwanted small electrical items can be repaired and reused, reducing what the county would otherwise send to waste.”
  • Powys – Town libraries may begin to ‘feel the heat’, says councillor – County Times. “Possible cuts to library services in Powys is “a bit alarming” however it is “not a case for Llanidloes to panic,” said a local county councillor. Cllr Gareth Morgan (Liberal Democrat, Llanidloes) said at a town council meeting that other town libraries may begin to “feel the heat” from Powys County Council (PCC). He said: “I’m fairly calm about it at the moment because we are ahead of the game as far as contributing to the overheads are concerned. “
  • St HelensResidents’ views wanted on future of Gamble Building in St Helens town centre – St Helens Reporter. Central Library will move to World of Glass.
  • StaffordshireVolunteers back Staffordshire’s library service – Tamworth Informed. “A report to Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet says that more than 1,100 volunteers are giving the equivalent of £1.4m worth of time either helping in the 27 Community Managed Libraries, or in one of the 16 larger libraries still directly run by the local authority.”
  • Suffolk – New coffee shop welcomes its first customers at Ipswich library – Ipswich Star. “Nikki Hulse, business development manager at Suffolk Libraries said: “We’re very excited to welcome Coffeelink to Ipswich County Library and are proud to be working with such a well-loved and ethical local business. We hope library customers will enjoy this new service and that it’ll also bring new people into the library.”
  • Thurrock Aveley Library set to reopen as part of the new Aveley Community Hub – Your Thurrock. “The hub which includes the library, a café and activities for local residents will open at 10am on Tuesday 18 February at its new home in New Maltings, High Street, Aveley, RM15 4BY after closing the doors on its Purfleet Road building for the last time on Saturday 1 February. It joins the new Aveley Community Hub which will initially open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 5pm and Saturdays from 10am to 1pm.”
  • Wiltshire – Wiltshire Police will use libraries as bases to work and speak to public – Swindon Advertiser. “Officers and staff will begin using town libraries as ‘touchdown points’ where they can engage with the public in their communities. “