Looking for the latest information on libraries reopening in the UK? Click here.


For the first time since March 23rd there are public libraries open again in England. It’s been a surreal few months and there was a lot of worry about getting the buildings open again properly but first indications from around the country is that things went smoothly.

More and more library services are announcing their plans (see this page) with the majority going for (variously named versions of) click and collect. A few councils (Milton Keynes, Newcastle and Wokingham), though, have warned that they will not be open for considerably longer for various reasons.

Libraries have, at last minute notice, been advised to take contact details of those who need them for track and trace. There were some complaints and surprise expressed at the time and further mentions, notably from CILIP, about whether libraries should actually do it.

This video, produced by Nottinghamshire Inspire is a 30 second animation on basic measures I think all libraries are doing. They have graciously allowed all other services to use it.

Finally, I’m sorry to see China wasting no time in censoring public libraries in Hong Kong. We hear a lot about the heroism of librarians on social media etc but, when it comes down to it, library workers aren’t saints and should not be martyrs. People, including us of course, need to try to make sure that society doesn’t get that way in the first place.

National news

  • England’s libraries begin to reopen but grave fears remain over long-term futures – Guardian. “experts are warning that local authority shortfalls could be the “canary in the coalmine” for a fresh wave of cuts to libraries across the country.” … “According to Libraries Connected, 34 library authorities in England are planning to open on either 4 or 6 July.” … “Across the whole of the UK, libraries in Scotland are set to reopen from 15 July, and in Northern Ireland from 20 July. In Wales, some libraries are already offering a click and collect service, but there are no plans to open before the next review of lockdown measures on 13 July.”

Reopening Libraries: stories from Denmark part II, 15th July, 11am: With Christian Lauersen Director of libraries and citizens services, Roskilde Municipality, Denmark: sign up here. Christian believes that libraries are crucial institution in every community, public as academic to create and open, more diverse, inclusive and equal world and that the key to lift this is skilled library workers – the most important asset of any library. Christian is co-founder of Library Planet – the crowdsourced travel guide to libraries of the world – and the first library bossa nova song in the world. He is based in Copenhagen and loves socks and Lego. Recording Available:  Part 1 of the “stories from Denmark” series: Reopening Public Libraries; stories from Denmark, with Marie Oestergaard Library Director of Aarhus Public Libraries. Resilience for Library Professionals 23rd July, 11am sign up here. Ss libraries embark on the process of reopening, library staff will face inevitable challenges navigating the “new unknown”. This webinar will explore strategies for maintaining personal and professional resilience. Back by popular demand, Creative Consultant, Lawrence Becko will lead the session, which will include plenty of opportunity for interaction and reflection. This is a chance to take a step back and consider how to approach the ever-changing landscape that lies ahead with a resilient mind set. “

Free Webinars from the Living Knowledge Network [Not the Loving Knowledge Network which I called it last week, oh dear – Ed.]
  • Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace – Gov.uk. “Trace and trace” information for public libraries, released less than 2 days before first library reopened.
  • New guide to help libraries to reopen – Libraries Connected. “Today Libraries Connected publishes its toolkit to help libraries to reopen in July and to reintroduce their services gradually, in line with the latest public health advice. Placing the safety and health of staff, volunteers and users at the forefront, the toolkit was developed in partnership with heads of library services and their teams. The set of resources will support their planning for service recovery as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”
The DCMS did not tweet about libraries also opening on the same day.
  • UK libraries are set to reopen – but not as we know them – Guardian. Archibald Corbett volunteer library in London described, open from 4 July, with “space marshall”. Leeds, who recently threatened to close all their libraries, also interviewed.
  • Your libraries are open – London Review of Books. Mainly academic libraries but says “Many public library staff have had to be redeployed to other services by local authorities struggling to cope after years of austerity-driven cuts, highlighting other problems in the gaps exposed by the pandemic. In November 2018, the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights pointed out that ‘public libraries are on the frontline of helping the digitally excluded and digitally illiterate who wish to claim their right to Universal Credit.’ Who has been providing that support during lockdown? As public libraries slowly reopen to walk-in users, some hope for those who depend on them is returning.”

International news

  • China / Hong Kong Democracy books disappear from Hong Kong libraries Yahoo News. “Books written by prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have started to disappear from the city’s libraries, online records show, days after Beijing imposed a draconian national security law on the finance hub.” … “The city’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which runs libraries, said books had been removed while it is determined whether they violate the national security law.”
  • USA – Millions of Americans Depend on Libraries for Internet. Now They’re Closed – Markup. “Kids sit scattered in the library’s parking lot with phones or video game devices, catching some of the Wi-Fi outside that’s now left on 24/7.  And Hahn spends his days trying to help some older patrons get online by shouting instructions to them through the library’s windows. “

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