So, unless there’s a centenarian reading this (if so, hi there!) none of us have lived through a time similar to what we have now with Coronavirus. So far, the library response can be summed up as searching for hand gel supplies. putting up notices and waiting for government and councils to tell them what to do. Some enterprising souls – no services as yet I have seen – are promoting e-books on social media but it’s all a bit mooted. All those events planned for near/medium term are looking a bit questionable too. It promises to be an interesting week. Let’s hope it ends in anti-climax.

Impending pandemic aside, the news this week has largely been World Book Day. It’s all been rather wonderful. Less so has been the ton of librarian in-fighting on social media, with CILIP in the firing line once more. I’m not going to go into it now but just to say that social media is once more proving to be the most polarising medium there is and shouting loudly is not the best way to hear other people.

Finally, I cannot let the public relations speak of Derbyshire go un-noticed. The council that brought you the policy of not allowing their staff to renew books over the phone is boasting loud about how innovative they’re being by forcing libraries to be taken over by volunteers. Good grief, Derbyshire, get a grip and respect your staff and your public a bit more.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Bans will result in equality being replaced by inequality – Evening Telegraph. “These events are generally held in libraries and public spaces across the UK and are an entirely opt-in and voluntary option for parents to educate their children on LGBT inclusion.” Writer then points out evangelic Christian banned from speaking while drag queen story time allowed.
  • Covid-19 isn’t just flu. It is time to take this virus seriously – Telegraph. “Public libraries are putting away children’s toys. Supermarkets are running low on loo paper …” Behind partial paywall.
  • New Words – Time To Read. “New Words is an innovative public library and small press partnership from Time to Read. The North West’s independent publishing scene is thriving and in 2020, New Words presents books and special events from five North West independent publishing houses in public libraries across twenty two North West library authorities from Cheshire to Cumbria, including all of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire. You’ll also find bold new artwork, commissioned for the project from Oldham artist and designer, Kim Hubball, all with support from Arts Council England.”
  • Public library service annual reports 2018 to 2019 – Welsh Government. Resourcing and staffing an area of concern for many services. Only one professionally qualified librarian for all of Blaenau Gwent, very few also in Cardiff.

“We are thrilled to let you know that our regional Children’s Reading Partners Roadshow will be taking place at Bath Guildhall on 12 May 2020 and Adult Reading Partners Roadshow will be on the 13 May 2020. Every year we go to a different region so we are excited to visit the South West but librarians for across the UK are welcome to join. We have found that reader development, school and stock librarians have found the day particularly useful in the past.

The annual event is designed for publishers and librarians to talk directly to build relationships, to share ideas and create opportunities for new book or author promotions. Every librarian will have the opportunity to hear from attending publishers about their new titles and authors. This will be followed by a series of face-to-face meetings to discuss particular opportunities and to tell publishers about your library and the readers you support. The day will run from approximately 9.30am to 4pm. We request that librarians commit to attending the whole day so that you can hear from all of the publishers and then speak with the publishers in small groups during the afternoon. Admission is free and lunch will be provided. Please do share this invitation within your region and delegates can confirm your attendance by using the booking form by 10 April (but this is dependent on capacity). 

Kimberley Sheehan| []

The Scottish Poetry Library made brave stand, Lionel Shriver and Father Ted writer say – Times. “The novelists Lionel Shriver and Joan Smith, and the Father Ted writer Graham Linehan are among more than 150 signatories of a letter expressing “whole-hearted support” for the Scottish Poetry Library’s stand against the “Orwellian” takeover of language by gender activists.” Partial paywall.

Working Internationally for Libraries Grants – CILIP. “A total of 10 public libraries from all over England applied to be considered for the Building Bridges grants programme under the Working Internationally for Libraries project, funded by Arts Council England. The four winners have been selected by a jury consisting of members from Arts Council England, Public Libraries 2030, and CILIP’s International Libraries and Information Professionals group”. Winners are Redbridge, Oldham, Barnet and Oxfordshire.

Zaffre wins Sampson’s debut The Last Library – BookSeller. “The Last Library is the story of shy, reclusive June Jones, who is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save her beloved library from closure, with the help of her unconventional yet dedicated patrons. Zaffre called it “an ode to libraries and the ability they possess to bring the unlikeliest of people together” but also a story “about how the right person, at the right time, can make a huge difference”.

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Free webinar this Thursday at 1.30pm. Click on the image for the link or paste

International news

  • USA – Information studies prof works to address mental illness among librarians – UWM Report. “… mental health may be an even bigger issue among librarians. One study found that more than half of academic librarians surveyed reported having a diagnosed mental illness. But these mental illnesses are scarcely discussed in the library community”
    • History in Going Fine Free – A Look at the Impact It could Have On Your Community – SirsiDynix. “Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries (FVRL) went fine free in 1970 after doing an internal study that showed the cost of collecting fines exceeded the amount collected. They then took the necessary steps to implement and become a fine free library. This policy has saved their library money, and more importantly, increased the amount of positive interactions with their patrons. They have seen a significant decrease in their overdue materials, with last year being less than 4%.”

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