Welsh public libraries can reopen, carefully, now, with England a fortnight later and Scotland two weeks after that. I think this is the third time of reopening (I may have lost count) after a lockdown and let us hope it is the last. Apart from the normal news, there’s a fair bit about what the future will look like, with contactless and the need to concentrate on digital as well as physical being unsurprisingly foremost. Away from the news headlines, there is a also a lot of interest in cashless ways of paying fines, with of course the most cashless way being not to charge fines at all.

Advert for Niche Academy from DCA

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Commissioning: Future Funding Webinar – Libraries Connected. Recording. “This workshop sheds light on the processes around procurement, with advice on how best to approach these, and the ways that library services can engage with commissioners outside the procurement process. It is suitable for all library staff.”
  • Covid: ‘Christmas Day’ for families as Wales lifts travel ban – BBC. “Organised outdoor activities and sports for under-18s can resume and libraries and archives can reopen their doors.”

“Canongate are offering 10 authorities the opportunity to each receiving 1,000 copies of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig for World Book Night, with the aim of reaching adults who don’t regularly read for pleasure or have access to books. We’re inviting authorities to sign up to apply by 1 April, briefly outlining how they can reach those people (we don’t need exact plans as we appreciate it’s next week). All the details are on this form: ”

The Reading Agency
  • “Libraries changed my life”: Author Kelly Yang on the mysterious power of reading – Book Trust. “I remember hiding in the library during lunch, crouching in between the aisles, hoping the librarian wouldn’t see me because we weren’t really supposed to be in the library at lunch. The librarian, of course, saw me. She came over, smiled at me — no judgement — and handed me a book. “
  • The library dividend – BookSeller. Nick Poole of CILIP writes. “Unless we can find a better way to pay for libraries, chances are we will see hundreds more closures in the next two to three years as we address the cost of public borrowing during the pandemic.” … “It is to address this that CILIP has been funded by the Arts Council England to lead a new Independent Review into Public Library Financing. The Review will explore innovative models for the financing of public libraries while still retaining their core identity as public services.”
  • Public Library Recovery: Lessons and Opportunities from the COVID Crisis – Innovative. Including Isobel Hunter from Libraries Connected. Recording.
  • Public Library Staff Introduction to materials on personal resilience – Libraries Connected. 8 April, 12 noon. “Using materials developed for the Leading Libraries Programme, we will demonstrate how these may be used locally to facilitate small team sessions.”
  • Queers in the Library – The Coast is Queer. Recorded online panel “discusses the potential of libraries as spaces for generating and nurturing queer communities as well as the limits of certain institutional forms of librarianship. Our panelists comprise workers in university and public libraries as well as creators of queer community libraries.”
  • UK councils funding crisis threatens essential services – World Socialist Web Site. “From April, the NAO expects remaining special educational needs and homelessness services to be gutted, while more theatres, libraries and community centres face closure.”
  • #uklibchat 12th April 2021 – #ebookSOS – UK Libchat. “If you work with e-books in any capacity, you may well have heard of #ebookSOS – a campaign to raise awareness and instigate change in the pricing, accessibility and functionality of e-books. Rachel Bickley and Caroline Ball will be helping us to lead this Twitter chat”

International news

Local news by authority

“”Public libraries are also a vital component in tackling digital exclusion. A priority of Coventry Libraries is to create improved access to digital services and increase the digital literacy skills of local residents. During 2019 to 2020 Coventry Libraries in the North East of the City have provided over 70,000 hours and over 100,000 sessions of access to public computers and Wi-Fi services. While reduced service has been provided during 2020, due to COVID 19, they are continuing with plans to increase access to public PCs, install new computers at both Bell Green and Foleshill Libraries and reintroduce computer help sessions, job clubs and benefits, debt and housing advice sessions.”

Carol Dinenage, Minister of State, DCMS.