It took too long and there was a lot of avoidable drama the last few days but the Prime Minister has finally done what is necessary, effectively closing the country except for essentials. He specifically mentioned public libraries in his speech. By that time though, 95% of library services had already decided to close.

So that bit of the drama is over. Speaking personally, I’ve been impressed with all the library folk I’ve been in contact with this week, from Libraries Connected who stepped up to the plate in recent days to chief librarians who fought hard with councillors in some cases and worked hard to manage the crisis in every case to everyone else on down and, above all, the library workers in the front line who had to open up despite the risks.

The next few months are going to show – well, who knows what. But we understand that this will mark a change in the sector that we will all remember. There will necessarily be a big move towards the digital for a start. There are already calls for millions more to be spent on e-books and the need for a national public library website has never been so obvious. I look forward to recording all the innovations and successes that will be achieved in these circumstances few of us would have imagined even a month ago. Not so much any of the other news, so please everyone, try to minimise the bad stuff.

Keep well. Take care.

  • Coronavirus: PM announces strict new curbs on life in UK – BBC. “Other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship must also close immediately. “
  • Close libraries now, plead library chiefs as ‘terrified’ London staff walk out – Guardian. “The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said in response to Hunter’s letter that it was right for councils to make their own decisions about library closures. “We know that some councils have decided that they need to close their physical library buildings, and that is fine,” it said. “However, we know that libraries can play a number of roles in the community. Therefore we wanted to ensure councils retained discretion to keep libraries open, albeit operating differently given government social distancing advice, where they felt that services could remain beneficial and be delivered safely.”