The CILIP/Big Issue petition to boost public libraries prior to Budget Day barely managed seven thousand signatures, far fewer than the membership just of CILIP itself. There are several reasons for this including there being no huge coverage of it and, connected to this, no actual energising major crises at the moment outside of Essex, Hampshire and arguably Bradford. The petition also came at a hopefully short-term low point for the organisation with anger at the Cummings article leading to sour grapes and apathy at least on Twitter. But, still, getting that few a number has to hurt and is likely to send completely the wrong message – so get signing it to make it look less embarrassing, you only have until 11 March.

The story of Libraries Unlimited having £38,000 stolen from them by their own finance manager made the news this week. It looks like she was relatively quickly caught but the theft may raise some eyebrows about the dangers inherent in a small charity – for such LU is – running a library service. However, such thefts are of course common in councils, human nature being what it is and it’s common to see larger amounts stolen over longer periods there. So LU gets a pass on this. But there are only three library trusts and with one already hit – well – losing one may well be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two …. we’ll see.

Finally, two good news stories. World Book Day is a lovely annual event for libraries and there will be tons of pro-book things going on nationally, including in many libraries. But the story that pleases me most is the naming of mobile libraries in Lancashire. Not because it’s (excuse me) novel – Orkney got there years ago – but because the names are so amusing. Whoever came up with “The Hardbacks of Notre Van”, for instance, deserves some sort of honour. Perhaps we should start a petition.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Book lovers across Wales set to celebrate World Book Day 2020 – Wales 247. “The Books Council of Wales is inviting schools, bookshops, colleges, libraries, businesses and households to join the largest annual celebration of books and reading in the United Kingdom and Ireland, by taking part in activities and events across Wales and by simply sharing in the pleasure of reading.”
  • Libraries play crucial role in communities – Guardian / Letters. “… surely councils should not have to raid other parts of their budget to stop library closures, however “lateral thinking” this might be. In The Case for Support, we called for funding for libraries to be restored to pre-austerity levels, and we are delighted that Libraries Deliver is orchestrating an End Libraries Austerity petition to be delivered to No 10 later this month – we urge people to visit the Libraries Deliver website and add their names.”
  • Library crusader Bobby Seagull deliver funding demands to Downing Street – Big Issue. “Bobby Seagull led the way to 10 Downing Street with the library-saving petition signed by more than 7,000 people – and it’s still open”
  • Meet Northern writers at libraries in Read Regional campaign – North Yorkshire Council. “Founded by New Writing North in 2008, the campaign is funded by Arts Council England and is produced in partnership by New Writing North, North Yorkshire County Council and 21 other library authorities.”
  • Mhairi Black’s drag queen stunt has backfired spectacularly – Spectator. “In the hands of ideologically-inspired teachers and librarians, nothing is off limits in the drive to shock children out of their heteronormative assumptions. “
  • Scottish Government pledges £100,000 to new memory group project – Press and Journal. “The Scottish Government has announced a £100,000 award from the public library improvement fund for the creation of “memory groups”. Its is the largest grant the improvement fund has ever paid out and the first time library services have collaborated on a single venture. With an emphasis on social history, the idea behind the innovative wellbeing project is that group members will stir up conversation and build a stronger sense of community.”
  • Scottish library cuts: six councils to make savings – Herald. “Edinburgh’s savings plan of more than £300,000 is up in the air as councillors this week dropped plans to cut library opening hours and are to reconsider their long-term plans for staffless libraries. ” … “West Lothian Council plans to reduce hours at libraries from April in a savings package of £130,000. The changes to opening hours will save the council £50,000 by reducing staffing. ” … “A shake-up of Angus Alive, which runs the region’s libraries, is expected to make a £458,000 saving. It is said to have led to the departure of senior figures already.” … “Inverclyde’s £246,000 package of planned savings for next year includes cutting library headquarters support, and removing evening opening of all branch libraries. ” … “Western Isles is the other local authority looking to save on libraries. “

International news

Local news by authority