Public libraries in England can open for browsing this week after more than three months of being closed. It is possible, what the vaccinations, that this will be last lockdown. Let us earnestly hope that it is and let us also wish the best for those thousands of library workers back in the front line tomorrow. Here’s to the thought that libraries, that will still tomorrow be quarantining items and have social distancing in place, will be able safely at some point this year be able to ditch the security measures and have events and what we used to consider the “normal” buzz of library life. And that the very thought of it does not sound strange. Make a silent wish with me, folks, and open those doors in a properly risk assessed manner in the meantime.

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National news

  • CILIP to receive £320,000 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund – CILIP. “CILIP is among more than 2,700 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. This award will enable us to continue to develop a sponsorship programme for the Carnegie Greenaway Awards, invest in our training and CPD offer to support the sector and drive forward our digital transformation programme to ensure that CILIP’s resources, help and guidance are effective and accessibly for all our members.”
  • Community book exchanges flourished while libraries were closed in lockdown – I. “With bookshops, libraries and charity shops closed for much of the year, book lovers desperate for fresh reading material took matters into their own hands. Book exchanges popped up all over the country” … “Libraries and bookshops may soon be opening their doors again, but book exchanges are here to stay”
  • The Fight for Britain’s Libraries – Tribune / Alan Wylie. “And although there have been some articles written about the great work done by libraries during the pandemic, it’s actually library workers who have done the work – a subtle yet crucial distinction. Working from home has caused its own divisions, with lower-grade staff more likely to be working on the frontline than their higher-grade managers.”
  • Library Dividend: Encourage candidates in the May 6th Local Elections to celebrate the #LibraryDividend – CILIP. “CILIP is asking our members to reach out to your local candidates and encourage them to recognise the ‘Library Dividend’ – the tremendous social and economic impact of supporting strong local library services.”
  • A Love Letter to Libraries – Varsity. “We must protect libraries, academic and local, if we want to continue to make information, resources, and that indescribable ‘library experience’ – which I’ve been trying so hard to capture – accessible. “
  • An open letter to Kwasi Kwarteng – BookSeller. List of suggestions, including “Enhanced support for public libraries via central government, in particular for educational materials (including non-English-language materials to help with the levelling up agenda) and for digital access, ebooks, and downloadable audio.”
  • Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant Award – National Acquisitions Group. “NAG are pleased to announce that their Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant for 2021 has been awarded to Wandsworth Libraries with their “Roehampton Kaleidoscope” and Derbyshire Libraries with “Read, Play, Puzzle” and each will receive £5,000 from the National Acquisitions Group.”
  • Service recovery toolkit – April 2021 Word – LIbraries Connected. “This Service Recovery Toolkit has been prepared in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Updated 12.04.21”
  • Simon Armitage to embark on decade-long UK library tour – BookSeller. “Beginning with the letters “A” and “B” this spring, the tour launches in in Ashby-de-la-Zouch and will visit a variety of libraries during the week, stopping in Belper, Aberdeen, Bacup and Bootle. The week will include a reading from the entrance hall of the British Library featuring Joelle Taylor, founder of the national youth slam championships SLAMbassadors, and Theresa Lola, Young People’s Laureate for London 2019-2020. Readings from the first week of his trip will be streamed live from 26th April to 1st May.”

“It would have been easy to stream these events from my office or garden shed, but at a time when libraries are under threat and have been out of bounds during lockdown, reading from inside their physical structures feels like an act of solidarity — with books, with poetry and with communities.”

Simon Armitage

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