Well done everyone, you’ve almost survived what is doubtless a contender for one of the worst, or at least most memorable, years of your life. Make sure you’re ready for the holidays, stay safe and try to ignore the all-but-certain likelihood of a third Covid wave combined this time with – fun! – Brexit chaos in some shape or another. Libraries survived 2020 and I am sure they will 2021 as well.

There’s a couple of good news stories below as well as, sadly, a could of cases of libraries closed down due to positive Covid tests. My favourite story is the absolutely hilarious response from Walsall councillors in response to people reporting the words of their leader who, you’ll remember, closed down all his libraries and then questioned whether he should reopen them being no-one was using them. The councillors are shocked that such words were seen as suggesting that they may be considering closing a library or three. They also accuse reporters of twisting words. Alas for such an accusation, reporters quoted the leader verbatim. Merry Christmas to you Walsall councillors, you’re hilarious.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Delivering Public Engagement Digitally – Carnegie UK Trust. “The Engaging Libraries programme supports public library services across the UK to run public engagement activities on research within the themes of health, society and culture. It is funded by Wellcome Trust and Wolfson Foundation, and delivered by the Carnegie UK Trust. This digital learning leaflet shares what has been gleaned from the delivery of digital public engagement activities by two Engaging Libraries projects during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and first national lockdown.”
  • Libraries are vital to tackling loneliness – Municipal Journal. “Research conducted by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) in Manchester found more than 80% of library users who experience feelings of loneliness or isolation felt the library helped combat these feelings. The survey also indicated that respondents felt the library served as an information hub and community centre, providing visitors with an opportunity to meet others and engage in social activities.” … “Engaging Libraries Phase 2 is supporting 16 public library services across the UK to run public engagement activities on research within the themes of health, society and culture. It is designed to help facilitate partnerships between public library services and researchers, and spark people’s curiosity around topics that are relevant or interesting to them.”

International news

  • Japan – Libraries in Japan install machines that would disinfect books using UV light – International Business Times. “A number of libraries in Japan have now installed machines that will sterilise books using ultraviolet light. This would give their visitors that peace of mind knowing that a book that they would take out from the library would be free of viruses and they can avoid the risk of bringing the virus with them to their homes and families. Many libraries across the country are already installing the machine, which would take half-a-minute to sterilise a book. Aside from sterilising the book, it also flutters the pages to ensure that dust is cleared.”
  • USA – Why Some Libraries Are Ending Fines – Atlantic. “The last five years have been very busy in the world of overdue fines. In what has been the “Fine-Free Movement,” many librarians have begun to question the traditional policy of overdue fines, and attitudes have begun to change. Are fines consistent with a fundamental mission of libraries: to serve the public with information and knowledge? And to address that mission equitably across the diverse population of rich and poor library users?”. Comprehensive guide to the USA progress towards going fines-free.
    • Bookish: Natalie Portman to chair National Library Week – Yahoo Sport. “The Oscar-winning actress will serve as honorary chair of National Library Week, the American Library Association announced Monday. National Library Week runs next April 4-10. Portman will help promote the role libraries have played in their communities during the pandemic.”

Local news by authority