Quarantining of books takes a lot of staff-time so, with things stutteringly returning to normal, it is one of those things that library services will have to address. Due to the efforts of Libraries Connected, they have now been given the opportunity, should they feel safe enough to take it, of getting rid of quarantining altogether. It’s not going to be a clear-cut decision anywhere. though, as the guidance now says “books can be wiped down” rather than “should”, and that Indian variant is worrying. But it’s another vital step towards getting services truly back up to the way they were before. This, along with starting events and groups again, are litmus tests for normality.

The fines-free movement had a couple of steps forward this week. Gwynedd became the 23rd service in the UK to completely fines-free and a CILIP survey showed a majority of respondents in favour of getting rid of penalising borrowers for returning items late. Interestingly, the reasons put in favour of retention by respondents are either already questionable (e.g. people won’t return books if there are no fines – which has been shown not in fact to be the case) or sadly very true indeed (e.g. fines represent a vital sort of income, regardless of any other reason for them). Going fines-free was a big trend pre-Covid and it is another test for library services now to see whether it won’t just be “normal” that we return to, but also an improvement as well.

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Changes by local authority

National news

  • Changing Lives Seminar Series – CILIP. 21 July. “, a programme of virtual events celebrating innovation and thought leadership in the library, knowledge and information sector” … “We are looking for 4 to 5 speakers to each give a lightning talk at the seminar around the theme of Pride.”
  • Community engagement solutions for public libraries – Ken Chad Consulting. “Community engagement solutions for public libraries. Ken Chad and Sarah Bartlett. Local Government Library Technology (LGLibTech) Briefing Paper No.1. May 2021. This briefing paper highlights the challenges public libraries face in reshaping their community profile. It outlines how emerging community engagement solutions may help target existing and potential users in repositioning public libraries.”. Registration needed.
  • In praise of mobile libraries – Library data blog. “There may be alternative services like drop off points, book containers, home delivery, but they’re not actual libraries.” but “Many effectively have no online presence. Sometimes a PDF timetable, sometimes a phone number or email address to contact, but never comprehensive online information about them” … “I know there are plenty of services that think mobile libraries are expensive, inefficient, and smelly liabilities. That hardly have any users, and breakdown all the time. And when they need replacing (which they do) they haven’t got the money to do it because a replacement library isn’t part of their budget. But they’re great and they should be invested in”
  • Libraries and High Streets – DCMS Libraries. “We also know that libraries are part of the vital social fabric which brings communities together and we wondered about how libraries and high streets aligned. Regular readers will know our data travails, but we were really pleased to enable a piece of work by Dave Rowe, from Libraries Hacked which explores this very topic. Using newly released data from the Ordnance Survey and ONS, Dave has been able to look at the relationship between libraries and high streets with some fascinating results. ” … ” over half of high street destinations in England have a library and 65% of English public libraries are either on or close to high streets. “
  • Library Campaign Zooms in on a publicity campaign for libraries Monday 24 May 2021 19:30 -21:00 – Library Campaign. Anyone can attend meeting, not just members. “We’ll focus on following up the ideas that came up in April for a campaign to publicise libraries. The meeting will include a chance to discuss with Nick Poole, the Chief Executive of CILIP (the librarians’ professional body) what they are doing to advocate for libraries, and their plans for this year’s National Libraries Week”
  • Service recovery toolkit – May 2021 – Libraries Connected. “Some of the key changes are: Quarantine of books is no longer needed; Libraries may run group events and activities; Home Library Service can now enter people’s houses; Advice on handling cash as well as card payments”

“PHE do not consider there to be a need to isolate returned Library books for 72 hours. This is in line with the advice that shops do not need to isolate returned goods. Books can be wiped down if possible with a proprietary cleaning solution which is effective against COVID-19 (PHE cleaning guidance), especially if they have a protective plastic cover.”

Service recovery toolkit
  • Should libraries fine users for late return of books and other items? – CILIP. “The majority of those polled disagree with the concept of fining borrowers. There are some compelling arguments from other voters. There is no black and white answer to this question, the resulting discussion points are nuanced and multifarious. While most participants acknowledged some of the principles of having a fines system, ultimately the dominant opinion was that free access to libraries should be the norm.”. Just over 50% against fines, just over 30% in favour.
  • What Labour must do to get ourselves in a position to win: a four-step plan – Labour List, Alison McGovern. “The Conservatives in office have shut nearly 800 libraries since 2010. All those towns, villages, places around the country that used to have a small building where kids could do their homework and older people could relax and explore the world of books with a librarian to help. Gone. I think it is criminal.” … ” Children and young people today don’t need the libraries of the 1980s, to state the obvious. They need librarians who can help them with the world of both books and social media, and a world of research and creativity that would have seemed crazy to ten-year-old me in 1991.” … “. As my friends at Get It Loud In Libraries demonstrate, young people need places not just of books but where they can explore the kind of culture that libraries would have sniffed at even in my halcyon days.”
  • Working Internationally for Libraries – CILIP. “The project is funded by Arts Council England and will run in partnership with the British Library, British Council, and Libraries Connected. In its first phase, the project will focus on English public libraries to develop a programme of activities including grants & travel bursaries, an international conference, and a showcase of successful international projects.”. Webinar 2 June.

International news

  • Australia – Learning From Our Statistics – Public Libraries Online. ” An oft-neglected area of study in librarianship, statistical fundamentals are approached here in a simple rules format with examples. The purpose is to help librarians gather and use statistical information in new and better ways. “
  • Lebanon – Rebuilding Beirut’s libraries – CILIP. 15 September webinar. “after the August 4 2020 blast, libraries in Lebanon decided to brush off the dust, remove the rubble and glass, and tend to their injured staff and users. Librarians started looking into best plans for a return to service and the Lebanese Library Association joined them on the journey.”

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