Don’t mess with Scottish public libraries, that’s the message that Glasgow council and the trust, Glasgow Life, it employs to run them, has been receiving loud and clear since it became obvious that some would not immediately reopen after lockdown. The main reason for the unpopular decision has been that leisure trusts have taken a hit from lack of income and also the amount of money given to councils is too low to make the extra payments to overcome this. Glasgow is not alone in this, with Peterborough’s Vivacity having go give up on libraries last year and Live Borders saying they don’t have the money to reopen every library this year. So, why do I say “don’t mess” specifically with Scottish ones? Well, the response has been noticeably very loud in Glasgow, with many protests, relatively huge press coverage and everyone, including the First Minister, getting involved. And now the Scotsman has started a big campaign as well. It’s also obvious that Scotland is generally more left-wing than England when it comes down to these things. Whether that will be enough or not is not clear but it all rather makes me want to move up North.

In other news, it’s good to see environmental concerns being given priority in Trafford, and in Greenwich, with the introduction of biodegradable library cards. For a service that is traditionally green, having their main symbol that every user carries being plastic is increasingly an issue and it’s to be hoped others will follow suit. Let’s also note that Trafford is starting to get a name for itself as an innovative trailblazer as it was one of the first to get rid of library fines a couple of years ago. Finally, there’s been a couple of digital crimes reported this week – a denial of service attack in the USA and, perhaps even more worryingly, a phishing email in the UK.

Changes by local authority


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National news

  • The best libraries in London – Conde Nast Traveller. The only public library on the list is Canada Water Library.
  • ‘Our libraries can save us. I know they can. We just have to save them first’ – Damian Barr – Scotsman. “Newarthill Library saved my life. It was safe and warm when home was cold and chaotic. Nothing bad ever happened in the library …” … “Our libraries are a sanctuary open to all for the benefit of all and we forget this at our peril. Especially now. ” … “Since 2010, the UK government has chosen to close 800 libraries. Yes, chosen. Cuts don’t just happen. “

“Our libraries can help power a sustainable recovery from Covid and the inequalities it has revealed and exacerbated. Our libraries can save us. I know they can. We just have to save them first.”

Damien Barr, writer an broadcaster
  • Scotland’s libraries need our support – Catherine Salmond – Scotsman. “Each week, we will shout loudly about all our libraries bring and why they must always be protected. We will raise awareness and be critical of any potential decisions which may threaten their futures.”
  • Scottish library hours remain reduced post-lockdown – BBC. “Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) figures show there is still no reopening information for 61 of the country’s 481 public libraries.” … “Galashiels Library, in the Borders, reopened this month having been shut since the first lockdown. However, it is only open a third of the hours it used to be. Lisa Haddow, who heads the service for Live Borders, said they did not have the funds to offer a full service this year.”. Has table showing how many open in each library service in Scotland.
  • Specification for the review and development of the Welsh Public Library Standards. Via email. “The Welsh Government, through its Culture and Sport Division, is inviting Expressions of Interest for the review and development of the Welsh Public Library Standards. The Project is anticipated to be conducted between September 2021 through to March 2022. The quote is now live on Sell2Wales, but viewable through invite only.  If you would like to receive an invitation to quote, please e-mail Carys.Dawson2@gov.wales The deadline for final submissions of quotations is 17:00 on Monday 6 September 2021.”
  • Support our Libraries: Closures, funding and Covid recovery in Scotland – Scotsman. Long article. “Scotland is the only country in the UK to have a libraries strategy. Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth said it had “communities at the centre of its focus … And yet the cast iron gates of Whiteinch remain locked” … “If narrowing the attainment gap is at the top of the party’s agenda, why is the library at Hillhead – an area of relative affluence – open, but the libraries in Whiteinch and Maryhill – areas of relative deprivation – shut?” … “the pitfalls in using ALEOs like Glasgow Life to run cultural services have been exposed.” and “we have a local government funding settlement that does not support libraries in what they want to do. ” … “Many Scottish libraries are flourishing. They have adapted to modern needs with computer suites and activities like book groups, sewing bees and social history talks.” … “the council has no intention of shifting its responsibility for running libraries to volunteers.”

“those who criticise ALEOs [Arms Length Organisations such as Glasgow Life] are missing the point; that, until Covid, ALEOs made it possible to plug the funding gap. “The question is not: “Are they fit for purpose? ” but: “Are local government settlements fit for purpose?””

David McDonald. deputy leader and chair of Glasgow Life

International news

  • Belgium – Public library in Mechelen named among best in world – Brussels Times. “The Predikheren was praised by the jury for combining sustainable materials, technology, and digitisation with its unique architecture, as well as for its efforts to be a hub and valuable resource for locals.”
  • International – Minecraft library provides gamers with “a safe haven for press freedom” – De Zeen. “Non-profit organisation Reporters Without Borders has built a virtual library in the video game Minecraft to give gamers access to censored books and articles. Named The Uncensored Library, the virtual library houses articles banned in countries including Egypt, Mexico and Russia.”
  • Ireland – Dublin Festival of History set to kick off next month – Dublin People. “The festival, organised by Dublin City Libraries in partnership with Dublin City Council Culture Company and now in its ninth year, will be a mix of in-person and online events, and it will play host to a European, UK and domestic line-up of speakers and panels.”
  • USA – Impact Live, Virtual Public Library Event – Gale, 29-30 September. Online conference.
    • Boston Public Library Hit by Cyberattack – NBC Boston. “the Boston Public Library experienced a systemwide technical outage due to a cybersecurity attack, pausing public computer and public printing services, as well as some online resources,” the library said in a statement. “Affected systems were taken offline immediately, and proactive steps were taken to isolate the problem and shutdown network communication. There is currently no evidence that sensitive employee or patron data has been disclosed.””
    • Denver Public Library cards will now get you free access to the Denver Tool Library – Denver Post. “The popular Denver Tool Library typically charges $120 for an annual membership” … “Cardholders will be able to check out 10 tools, including three power tools, for up to a week from the popular lending program. Like any book or physical media at the library, the agreement requires DPL cardholders to borrow one of five tool-library membership passes that are held by DPL”

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