My thanks to everyone who replied about if they knew of any library services who offered free reservations. May I just say … wow. I had around one hundred responses, leading me to wonder (as one commenter wryly noted) whether I should have asked for those who charged instead.

My thanks to Jane Johnson of Central Bedfordshire Libraries who collated the results: 60 services reported not charging, with some even expressing incredulity that services would dare charge, saying that this led to those living by smaller libraries being unfairly discriminated against. Interestingly, but not surprisingly considering the huge independence of services in the UK, practices varied hugely: with some charging for books not on the shelves, some charging for over 16s, some charging if the customer reserved online and did not ask a member of staff and some only charging for inter-lending. A few also noted that not charging was just for Covid and they would start fining again soon. The results are of course not comprehensive – I did not go through every library service – but it shows the wide range of practices going on.

Reservation charges was not the thing that people interacted most with me this week. Oh no. That honour goes to the tweet below and shows the strength of feeling about fines, with some again expressing shock that libraries still fine and one or two insisting that fines are the only way a library can work. Variety is big in libraryland.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Do Book Giveaway Programs Promote the Home Literacy Environment and Children’s Literacy-Related Behavior and Skills? – Sage. “The findings corroborate the assumption that book giveaway programs promote children’s home literacy environment”
  • Engaging Libraries – Reflections on the programme so far – Carnegie UK. “While not all of the Engaging Libraries projects were delivering activities during the time that data was collected, we are already able to see how libraries and their partners are energising and empowering the public.”
  • Inspired by Libraries: Stuart Maconie – Eccles Library / Youtube. “”Along with hospitals, libraries are the last thing a civilised society should be closing and cutting.””
  • Job opportunities: Help us overcome digital inequality in West Yorkshire – Libraries Connected. “West Yorkshire Digital Libraries is our strategy to take the next step in encouraging and supporting digital inclusion across the region. There are two parts to the programme: Rollout of an upgraded network including a tablet lending scheme and the development of the skills within the library and connected services to create digital champions across West Yorkshire. Creation of partnerships to make better use of these new digital connections. This includes development of new ways to support to children and families who are digitally excluded, support around housing and preventing homelessness, supporting people into employment, broadening support for small businesses, and the creation of digital health hubs in libraries.”

“‘The project is seeking funding at the moment. If it’s successful, we are considering applying for funding to take the learning from the project to the wider Yorkshire and Humber Libraries region, and potentially as a national programme. We’re also interested in taking this as a model where Libraries Connected can support regional or other groups of library services to form consortiums to bid for government funding where they may not have the internal resources or specific expertise to pull together a large scale collaborative bid.”

Marsha Lowe, Libraries Connected, in reply when I asked about if this was part of a larger project
  • New pilot project to encourage disadvantaged families to visit their local library – Nursery World. “More than 2,500 libraries across England are taking part in a pilot of the BookTrust Storytime project in the autumn. Funded by Arts Council England, the project will bring together local authorities, library staff, authors and illustrators to test new ways of inspiring shared early years story experiences through local libraries”
  • Online Media Literacy: why public libraries are the perfect partners – DCMS Libraries / Gov.uk. About the library’s place in the governments online media literacy strategy.
  • Rediscover Reading this summer with your local library – DCMS Libraries / Gov.uk. “Libraries Minister, Caroline Dinenage, shares her thoughts on reading to mark The Reading Agency’s Libraries Spotlight Day and encourage families to rediscover reading this summer.”
  • Read-iscover Summer: Celebrating Reading Week – DCMS Libraries / Gov.uk. Sarah Mears promotes reading and libraries.
  • Robotics access vital for skills boost, says report – Eureka. “Robotics learning factories have already been successful in Germany and the US, and the model could be supported in the UK by local learning hubs like libraries or other public buildings.”
  • The simple fact is that reading matters – MJ (partial paywall). “There is a generation of children born just before or during the pandemic who will have never visited a library before. No chance to lose themselves in a world of books or see their local librarian bring stories to life.” … “Our survey of 1,000 families in poverty with a child under five across England, NI and Wales revealed that less than half are registered with a public library.  Families tell us they don’t visit libraries because they may not know what to do when they walk inside. They don’t know that libraries and the activities they provide are free and are worried their children may make noise inside.”
  • UK libraries become ‘death positive’ with books and art on dying – Guardian. “Death Positive Libraries, a scheme that started in Redbridge in 2018, uses activities, art and literature to remove barriers to talking about the subject – including reading groups, author talks, film screenings, art installations and “death cafes” where people can meet for conversation … So far 58 libraries have expressed interest to the charity Libraries Connected, which is working with the three libraries and academics from the University of Northumbria on a framework to help all libraries become death-positive.”
  • Why the Public Library Children and Young People’s Promise is vital – Books 2 All. Sarah Mears of Libraries Connected: “Making a difference to children’s lives has always been at the heart of the public library offer. So much so, that the sector has created a promise that outlines the service every child and young person should expect from their local public library.”

International news

Simulation of new library
  • Finland – Helsinki’s libraries ditch plastic book covers – The Mayor. “Instead of using plastic coverings and thereby contributing to plastic pollution, from 2021 the institutions will rely on a more sustainable, plant-based alternative, or will not be using any coverings at all.” … “existing plastic stocks will be used to protect books, until they are exhausted. Once this is the case, only bioplastic material will be purchased for covering. The transitional period should last no longer than a couple of months. Furthermore, the libraries are studying if covering books and other items is really necessary to extend their lifetime”
  • Ireland – ‘Derisory’ funding scheme for library books pays authors €32 – Times (partial paywall). “While eight authors received the maximum possible payment of €1,000, the majority received between €10 and €50 for public lending of their work. Irish writers received only €21,700 from the €200,000 scheme, with British authors getting the lion’s share.”
  • New Zealand – Auckland Council to remove library overdue fines from 1 September 2021 – Our Auckland. “The council is joining the global trend of removing library overdue fines with almost 600 libraries worldwide now fine free, including every public library in Ireland. “We’ve been researching and building the case for the removal of library fines and although fines were introduced to encourage returning of borrowed items, they have evolved to become barriers to equitable access to information and lifelong learning. Libraries who have removed the fines have experienced greater rate of return of items borrowed and membership growth,” says Councillor Cathy Casey.”
  • United Arab Emirates – In Pictures: Sharjah’s House of Wisdom – Gulf News. “The House of Wisdom, Sharjah’s new iconic cultural hub, was commissioned in honour of Sharjah’s recognition as World Book Capital 2019 by UNESCO and is the living legacy of the promises made then, namely, to continue to foster reading, enhance access to knowledge to all members of society and serve as a catalyst for harmonious coexistence.”
  • Sweden – Virtual Reality to develop new forms of storytelling and story creation in Ängelholm Public Libraries – IFLA. “When all the children had seen their world in VR and taken their photo, we gathered the whole class inside the library again for a joint conclusion to the workshop. We took one last green screen picture, a group picture which we then sent together with all the children’s individual pictures to the teacher. “
  • USA – Anonymous creep ‘rings librarians to masturbate as they read court case details to him’ – Daily Star. “The harassment has been going on for weeks, but with no clues as to who the caller is librarians have been urged to hang up if they are asked about the Brady v. Maryland Supreme Court opinion. A Facebook post from one of the targets said: “Does anyone remember the guy who used to call libraries asking for John Grisham titles to be read to him out loud? “I was a victim of that 8+ years ago and I think he just called again. This time he wanted an entire Wikipedia page read to him, so I’m just forewarning everyone that anyone calling for information on Brady vs Maryland should not be taken seriously.””
    • Libraries and Telehealth on the Vanguard for Broadband – Broadband Breakfast. “any libraries are moving toward telehealth. Three libraries in Delaware have recently installed telehealth kiosks, Seaford, Milford and Laurel. The Pottsboro, TX public library rolled out their telehealth center in January this year. Several library’s around the country are developing  digital navigators programs to facilitate telehealth.”
    • Library Late Fees – Not Just Ineffective, but Harmful – Galecia. “Increasing numbers of libraries have eliminated late fees because they are ineffective at promoting the timely return of materials, and argue that they undermine the mission of the library to provide equitable access to library services and resources.  In eliminating late fees, many libraries have discovered that the use of the library increases without the rate of overdue returns, and in some cases even reducing the number of late returns.  These libraries also report improved relationships between their library staff and the community.”
    • Library Spaces are Made for Everyone – EveryLibrary. Lists inclusivity examples such as basic skills and sensory rooms.
    • The Rescue of the New York Public Library – The Nation. “How did one of the world’s greatest libraries get into the real estate business? It’s a sordid case study of how corporate logic has penetrated nonprofit institutions, including large, urban public library systems.”

“Many images associated with libraries are positive but the shushing librarian stereotype and the fear of incurring late fees are probably the two most damaging.”

  • Library Late Fees – Not Just Ineffective, but Harmful
  • Local news by authority

    “Since taking on the management of Dudley Libraries, GLL has made a number of improvements to staff rotas and structures, including the removal of lone working in libraries – a practice that we inherited.  Some staff have raised concerns about the level of their recent pay increase and we have discussed these directly with them.  We would like to clarify that no jobs are at risk. “It is disappointing that Unison has shown more interest in organising a public meeting rather than engaging with GLL directly to discuss the issues. GLL is passionate about library services and operates excellent facilities across the country.  We value our staff and want to provide them with a solid, long-term future as we continue to develop and improve our offering in Dudley.”

    GLL Spokesperson on Dudley Unison meeting, via email to PLN.

    “Better branded facilities in Barnet, Bromley, Greenwich, Hillingdon and Wandsworth will also be providing a mixture of exciting physical activity sessions, interactive library-based craft and story sessions together with workshops on nutrition, to support young people to understand the importance of eating healthily.  

    London kids won’t go hungry during the holidays, thanks to Better Leisure Centres and Libraries press release 29 July.

    Truth Sleuth in Thrills, Chills and Chemical Spills is a beautifully animated, hilarious interactive storybook adventure like none other. This free game, aimed at young people, 9 and up, is full of delightful characters, silly jokes and food for thought. With retro references and whacky one-liners parents will love it too.  With Bookworm as your guide you are given a series of choices that are judged based on your integrity. Explore adult themes like scandal, protest, conspiracy theories and fake news all in a fun and light-hearted way. Can you use your online research skills to distinguish the trusted sources from the self-serving lies?

    Make sure to keep your integrity high or suffer the consequences. If it gets too low watch your reputation dissolve faster than ice cream in a kettle. But don’t worry, if no one believes you, you can always become a misinformation blogger. The game is based on the Modest Genius Theatre Company live-show, Truth Sleuth- Epistemological Investigations for the Modern Age which was funded by Arts Council England and made in partnership with Pound Arts, Bristol and Wiltshire Library Services. Download the game from Google Play or search for Truth Sleuth in the App store.

    Helen Drakard, Libraries Connected.
    • Wirral – More Wirral libraries reopen their doors – Wirral Globe. But “”As Wirral continues to see case numbers increasing, the sites will still be operating under restrictions – with staff wearing face coverings, social distancing, one-way systems in operation and hand sanitising stations at the entrance and exit points.”
    • Wrexham – Have your say on the future of Wrexham mobile and pop up library service – Leader. “Wrexham Council is now proposing to continue with the pop-up service in communities with suitable venues, and to offer the order and delivery service to residents who don’t have a branch library that’s accessible by public transport. As well as offering a safer and more flexible option, the authority has said it thinks this proposal will help provide a cleaner, greener service that will cut down on road-miles and carbon emissions in the county borough.”
    • York – New library planned for York neighbourhood – The Press. “Explore York chief executive and city libraries boss Fiona Williams said the existing Clifton library near the Rawcliffe Lane play park was too small – and not really in the right place.” … “in addition to these services, the new library will have a café and a relaxing outdoor space, while inside space will be flexible and easily transformed for performances or other activities. There will also be space to bring partner organisations together at the heart of the local community.””