Generally, libraries are continuing to reopen and usage is slowly, so slowly, beginning to rise. It looks like that usage drops after the inevitable spike of opening and then slowly recovers. The question for all library services is when that recovery will reach pre-lockdown levels. And if it will reach pre-lockdown levels. After all, there’s a lot of people out there, who out of previous habit used libraries but will now have had four or five months now to explore digital alternatives. It will also take a time, how long no-one knows, for our more cautious users to decide things are safe enough to come back. And that will in turn depend on if there’s a second spike or not, and when this nightmare fully ends.

More specifically, only two library services in England are currently not offering any physical service (inc. click and collect) at all. One of these, Barking and Dagenham, have been extra careful since the beginning and announced a long while ago they’d reopen on 1 September. The other, Sandwell has just a note saying “closed until further notice” on their webpage. Elsewhere, Glasgow Life – the trust that runs libraries – is having a budgetary problem brought on by lockdown and has announced some libraries may not reopen, much to the chagrin of the public and the local paper. Even Nicola Sturgeon is stepping in there.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • 1000 Tiny Fun Palaces – Fun Palaces. 3 and 4 October. “While Fun Palaces usually have anything from 20 to 2000 participants, in response to Covid-19, we are encouraging extra-small, hyper-local Fun Palaces this October.”
  • Beyond digital literacy: STEM learning ideas from library professionals in the UK and Ireland – CILIP.
  • The complicated business of keeping books clean of COVID-19 – Jisc News. Academic library perspective.
  • Digital events in public libraries: learning from our lockdown experiences – Libraries Connected. 10 September. “Colleagues from three public library services will be sharing their experiences of developing creative digital activity for their communities during lockdown. They will be describing how they planned the programme, the impact their activities have had and will reflect on skills used/needed and other lessons learned.”
  • Libraries: A place to learn to love culture – DCMS Blog. “Library services are opening again with enthusiasm. Reopening libraries with social distancing measures in place is going smoothly, with libraries placing a strong emphasis on safety of both staff and users.  As more measures are relaxed, libraries will begin to move back to running events.  “
  • Libraries Week – CILIP. “In 2020, Libraries Week will take place between the 5th and 10th October, celebrating the nation’s much-loved libraries and their vital role in the UK’s book culture. We will be encouraging libraries in all sectors to celebrate books and reading, showcase their reading offer and the contribution they make towards building a Nation of Readers.”
  • Shop – Reading Agency. Special emailed appeal – “We’d really appreciate if you can include a call-out for adult librarians to be added to our weekly newsletter – they can email zoe.sadler@readingagency.org.uk“. Also, the Agency are “encouraging the libraries to order packs to use them wherever they can – putting posters in windows, bookmarks on desks, instead of the creative displays they usually make. We also have digital packs available with social media assets and downloadable activities”
  • Survey – DCMS. 10-20 minute survey. “This survey has been commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to better understand the needs of its stakeholders. Your answer will remain anonymous and will be used to inform DCMS’ preparedness efforts.”
  • With coronavirus lockdowns many libraries (and librarians) have been more fabulous than ever – Guardian. A “First Dog on the Moon” cartoon to make ever public librarian proud.

International news

Local news by authority

Hertfordshire – Minnie’s Library Episode. A lovely personal way of updating users of what”d going on. We hope your house gets tidied soon, Minnie.
  • Hampshire – Have your say over Aldershot, Fleet, Farnborough and Yateley library hours – In Your Area. “Hampshire County Council wants to cut opening times at 40 libraries to help save £1.76 million”
  • Islington – Phased reopening of Islington libraries announced – Islington Gazette. “Archway Library, Central Library, Finsbury Library, N4 Library, West Library and the Local History Centre will be open Monday to Friday from 11am to 4pm and Saturday 11am to 5pm.”
  • Kent – More libraries and archives search room to reopen – Kent County Council. “A further 12 Kent Libraries will reopen over the course of week beginning 24 August. These will be the first libraries to also offer a socially-distanced book browsing service for customers so they can select books from the shelves.”
  • Lambeth – Lambeth Heritage Festival – Lambeth Council. “With over 40 different events, there will be something happening on just about every day of the month. The big difference is that this year everything will be online. You can chose from virtual walks, archive film screenings, online talks, podcasts, virtual reality films, banner making and drawing workshops, discussion groups, virtual building tours and author interviews – hopefully there should be something for almost every taste.”
  • Lancashire – Lancashire County Council is reopening more of its libraries this week – here is the full list of all that are now open – Lancaster Guardian. “In Lancashire 26 libraries have now reopened their doors, with 14 opening in the last week, including, Heysham, Longridge and Ribbleton”
  • Liverpool – Zip Wire decision to be challenged in court – Engage Liverpool. “The Victorian Society announced in a press release this afternoon (19.08.20) that they have started legal proceedings against Liverpool City Council’s decision to grant planning approval to create a zip wire visitor attraction through the historic core of the St George’s Quarter (also known as the Culture Quarter in the UNESCO World Heritage Site documentation) involving a huge new construction on the roof of the Grade II* Listed Central Library.”
  • Manchester – Inside the new normal at Manchester Central Library – Manchester Evening News. “A maximum of 250 visitors will be allowed into the library at any time, with hand sanitiser stations available on all four floors.”. Face masks and test and trace in place. “floor cafe will be opened, with slimmed down seating for social distancing and a reduced menu.”. … “Space inside the library’s fantastic Wolfson Reading Room – with its huge dome roof and wonderful echo – has been reduced from 300 to 60, but it is open.” Reduced opening hours.
  • Norfolk – Two more Norfolk Libraries set to re-open – Watton and Swaffham Times. “Swaffham Library and St Williams Way Library in Thorpe St Andrew are set to reopen on Tuesday, August 25 with safety measures in place.”
  • Northern Ireland – All local libraries set to reopen next week – Derry Journal. “Several libraries across Derry and the wider north west will reopen for the first time in five months next week, it has been confirmed.”
  • Nottingham – Next chapter for Nottingham’s Central Library – My Nottingham News. “While the progression for the new Central Library continues at pace as part of the new Broadmarsh Car Park, Bus Station and retail development, a decision has been made to not re-open the Nottingham Central Library at its current location on Angel Row, since its closure on Friday 20 March following the COVID-19 lockdown. “
  • Nottinghamshire – Retford Library set to reopen after extensive refurbishment – Lincolnshire Live. “The county council say the refurbishment has made the library more visible and accessible to the local community with easier to navigate shelving, which will also be able to be moved to create larger spaces for performances and cultural activities.”
  • Peterborough – Three Peterborough libraries to open next week – Peterborough Telegraph.
  • Sheffield – List and reopen Tinsley Carnegie library, Sheffield – Change.org. “We the undersigned petition Sheffield City Council to list the handsome Tinsley Carnegie library building, and to apply for funding to reactivate it for its originally intended purpose, to provide a much needed free library for the area of Tinsley.”
  • Shetland – Community / Librarian with ‘huge sense of fun’ nominated for national award – Shetland News. “Catherine Jeromson is up for the 2020 library and information professional of the year award from the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland.” … “Her nomination highlights her improvements to the mobile library, and services for the visually impaired. Her work with the library’s Twitter account – which has received widespread attention, partly due to some light-hearted banter with Orkney Library – is also noted.”
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire’s mobile library service prepares to return – Express and Star. “Staffordshire County Council has announced the return of the mobile service as part of the library service’s phased reopening, with two vehicles travelling to smaller communities around the county. The mobile service will be limited initially to no more than two communities per day per vehicle, and borrowers will not enter the vehicle but deposit their books with staff and collect new loans arranged in advance.”
  • Warwickshire – Southam Library latest to reopen – Leamington Observer. ““Our other library buildings remain closed just for the time being – although we have ten other library locations offering the ‘Click and Collect’ service – but there will be further announcements about the opening of more libraries around the county very soon.””
  • West Sussex – Libraries are back open in Crawley – Crawley News 24. “All 36 libraries are now open for people to browse the shelves, but the number of visitors allowed in the buildings at any one time will be limited to allow for social distancing.”
  • Wiltshire – Westbury Library will reopen next month – White Horse News. Click and collect plus bookable PCs. ” Libraries were given the go-ahead by the government to open in July. However, instead, Wiltshire Council chose to run the public consultation about how libraries could be opened safely, in a move that was criticised by the local community”
  • Worcestershire – Worcester Festival: What’s on for today? – Worcester News. “Worcestershire Libraries are part of the Living Knowledge Network and they have opened up their Network to Library users providing exclusive access to cultural events, include literary and cultural debates; author talks and panel discussions on key cultural developments.”
  • Wrexham – Wrexham Library Service: creating green spaces inside and out – The Leader. “Sprucing up our green spaces both indoors and outdoors is right on trend, and there are plenty of titles on design, planting, DIY projects, indoor plants, as well as vegetable and herb patches to offer inspiration and guidance.”