If you want news on what your public library service is planning for reopening, please click here.


As of writing this, and after a couple of months of warning, fewer than one-fifth (only 28 out of 150) English library services have announced their reopening plans from Saturday, 4 July. Almost all of the plans so far are different in some way to all of the others, repeating the lack of unified service that is so familiar to users of English services. I use specifically English in this context because Wales have all gone for click and collect, Northern Ireland are reopening with click and collect in mid July, as are probably Scotland. More than two-thirds of English service are going with some form of click and collect but, my goodness, they can’t even agree on a common name for it. For more info, see here.

In other news, Leeds are in the headlines for two weeks running (after threatening to close all its libraries last time) by bowing down to social media pressure and cancelling an online drag queen story-time. Below are comments that I have noticed on Twitter against their decision in the hope that the council, after having proved themselves cowards with one group, will bend down to pressure again and re-instate it. How about it Leeds?

Leeds City Council bowing to the mob. A dangerous precedent and an ugly example of ongoing prejudice during #Pride month. How would any #LGBTQ person ever have had an open role in public life if institutions caved to bigots as easily as this?”


“I love my city but as a gay librarian living in Leeds I feel quite ashamed of my city right now. Also, this just shows how we are still living with the effects of the 80s because parents still think that children can be taught to be gay. F*** everyone who complained about this”


“This is a total misunderstanding of what drag is. I’m so sad when drag events with kids are cancelled, they are a beautiful thing and should be fostered. And who gets to decide what the right type of woman is? Let children learn from all types of humans … The performer is amazing as well, it’s a real loss to Leeds Library not to have them there.”


Bad decision, saw this through Gloucestershire libraries and really enjoyed it. Will Leeds be cancelling the panto because of the way it portrays women? Think not.


Shame on you, Leeds.


“We would love children to hear stories from all the city’s cultures, just not that one,” has a very 1980s feel about it.


Finally, in a first for Public Libraries News, I’ve talked to DCA, the creators of the survey on using e-resources during lockdown (and also advertisers on this blog), and have agreed to sponsor the donation to the Library Campaign, and – yes – the tea. So please fill in the survey below, thank you.

Advert for DCA "We are DCA and we work to increase the visibility of libraries"

National news

  • A business library during coronavirus and beyond: City Business Library – Public Libraries News. The experience of Wendy Foster during lockdown and how a business librarian has changed the way services have been delivered. ““The most dangerous assumption for businesses is that sufficient market intelligence will be available through a quick Google search

“Libraries have been planning for weeks for this moment – by working on our recovery toolkit and taking part in a series of webinars we hosted with staff, partners and users on reopening. Our central concern is keeping staff and users safe, so the library environment will look and feel different initially. Libraries will have a phased reopening that begins with things like order and collect and delivering books to local homes and a cautious reintroduction of browsing and IT services with a focus on moving in and out the library quickly and minimising face to face contact.”

Isobel Hunter, CEO, Libraries Connected

“Government needs to grasp the nettle. Libraries are not funded sufficiently to make up the deficit in all the other public services…..The government has (rightly) spent many billions on supporting individual workers and businesses. A tiny fraction of this sum would safeguard public libraries. Their loss would be a social and educational catastrophe.”

Library Campaign
  • Reopening Public Libraries; stories from Denmark, with Marie Oestergaard Library Director of Aarhus Public Libraries – Loving Knowledge Network. Wednesday 1 July 11am. “There is much we can learn from our international colleagues as plans take shape for re-opening public libraries across the UK. Join Marie Oestergaard to glean insights as well as advice from her experiences as Director as Public Libraries in Aarhus, Denmak. Marie will share practical and strategic challenges experienced, as well as some of the long term strategic choices this new reality for library business might call for.”
  • Slough high street one of ‘unhealthiest’ in the UK – Get Reading. “Also taken into consideration were the opportunities for socialising (the index was done pre-lockdown) and for promoting mental well-being, for example, libraries and green spaces.” … “Rotherham is the second lowest due to lack of leisure centres and libraries and the fact that it has a higher than average number of vape shops and pawn brokers too.”
New survey for UK librarians on e-resources during lockdown, with respondents earning a donation to the Library Campaign and a chance to win £100 of premium tea

International news

  • Global – Homelessness and Public Libraries – Princh. “Public libraries are places for everyone, regardless their background, and this is the main reason why they are visited every day by many homeless people who are looking to have access to reliable information resources, technology or just a safe place to spend their day and escape from their everyday reality”
  • USA – People are microwaving library books and masks to kill COVID-19 — and that’s bad – Detroit Free Press. [Good holy grief – ed]
  • Coronavirus Tests the Limits of America’s Public Libraries – Bloomberg. “as states begin to reopen, libraries are figuring out how to safely serve their communities again, amid the threat of an ongoing pandemic in which person-to-person transmission is riskiest in indoor spaces where people linger for a long time. Some smaller libraries have started allowing the public back inside their buildings in a limited capacity, which worries Bignoli”. A look at the range of library responses.
  • OverDrive to acquire RBmedia library business – BookSeller. “The deal sees OverDrive acquire all the assets of the library business, including the RBdigital platform in the UK, US and Australia. Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. Audiobook producer RBMedia has a catalogue of more than 45,000 titles through brands that include W F Howes in the UK. The deal will make those audiobooks available to OverDrive’s platform. It will also explore adding RBdigital services such as digital magazines but there will be no change to RBmedia’s publishing businesses.”
  • Research Shows Virus Undetectable on Five Highly Circulated Library Materials After Three Days – IMLS. “Materials tested in phase one included the cover of hardcover books (buckram cloth), the cover of softback books, plain paper pages inside a closed book, mylar protective book cover jackets, and plastic DVD cases. Battelle tests found the virus undetectable after one day on the covers of hardback and softback books as well as the DVD case. The virus was undetectable on the paper inside of a book and mylar book jackets after three days.”

Local news by authority