Barnsley have opened a nice new library, the Library @ the Lightbox, which looks nice and another Scottish service, East Renfrewshire, has gone fines-free. I understand that I have missed a few more libraries doing this north of the border and soon a majority of Scottish services won’t fine people for returning a book late. If so, that would be a point those south of the border, where the movement is slower, although still very much moving forward. In other positive news, Libraries Connected have announced the shortlists for several awards, including some interesting initiatives, plus a webinar (in the excellent marketing series) and a tender for digital learning. There’s also a couple of very nice new libraries in the international section.

On the normally bad news front, we have our regular guests in Essex and Glasgow. However, even in those two there is some hope, with Essex Council – if they are to be believed – appearing to promise to have turned a new leaf, although often what a council means by “no libraries will close” and “run by county council” turn into rather disappointing reality, with some services in the past translating this as a visiting paid member of staff a day or two per week and the rest of it being volunteers. We’ll see how good Essex is at clear statements soon when they do a formal announcement. In Glasgow, there’s hope that the Scottish Government’s announcement of £1.5 million libraries funding will largely go straight to them, although one imagines this would be rather annoying for the other Scottish councils and trusts who have perhaps managed their finances differently in the last few years.

Correction: In the last post, I implied that the Government intervened in Northamptonshire Libraries. This is not the case. In the words of the person correcting me: “This may give the wrong impression since HMG did not intervene with regard to the library service in the county (that was down to Mrs Justice Yip at the JR) but rather with regard to the entire County Council.  Representations were made to HMG at DCMS but they did not produce any result and complaints raised were shelved.”

Changes by authority

National news

  • Diverse Libraries: webinar series – National Literacy Trust. “Join us for a free webinar series, open to all library staff or teachers based in primary or secondary schools, public or community libraries across the UK.”. 9 December, 30 March, 25 May.
  • Invitation to Tender: Information and Digital Learning Module for library staff – Libraries Connected.
  • Leading Libraries Exploring Leadership: Invitation to Apply – Libraries Connected. “Are you a leader in your library service? You may be surprised! Think about all that you do in your day-to-day role. Have you put forward an idea for a project, improved a library session or involved new users?” … “The course is designed for those in the earlier stages of their career who want to develop their leadership skills. In line with our ambition to develop and retain a diverse and thriving public library workforce which reflects our society, we aim to recruit a diverse cohort of 20 people. “
  • Libraries Connected Awards 2021
    • Children’s Promise Author virtual school visits (Wokingham), youth engagement team (North Yorkshire), used school uniforms (Staffordshire), women’s refuges (South Gloucestershire), multilingual/feed and read/online events (Greenwich). rhymetimes in outside public spaces (Sutton).
    • Culture and Creativity Digital arts (Dorset), Local history (Norfolk), Cinema (Wakefield), Adult learning (Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea), trail (Shropshire), social isolation (Gateshead).
    • Health and Wellbeing shortlist – Manchester (“age friendly” hour during lockdown), Suffolk (food boxes), Kirklees (Libraries of Sanctuary, loneliness cafes). Somerset (health information online, training). Greenwich (lending of footballs), Redbridge/Kirklees/Newcastle (Death Positive).
    • Information and Digital – Online video events (Kingston Upon Thames), Facebook groups (Staffordshire), digital help (Solihull), diversity (North Yorkshire), vulnerable and isolated (Merton), Makaton story times (Hampshire).
    • Reading shortlist – Libraries Connected. Gloucestershire (Facebook book chat), Derbyshire (newsletter), City of London (book recommendation quiz), Portsmouth (Bookfest online), Staffordshire (Facebook book chat), Hampshire (telephone calls to home users, Reading Friends)
    • Vision and Print Impaired People’s shortlist – Libraries Connected. Transcription (Kirklees), online listening group (Derbyshire), home library service (Derbyshire), talking newspaper (Shetland),
  • ISNI Press Release, September 2021: The International ISNI Information Day 2021 – ISNI. “This event marked the tenth anniversary of the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) – an ISO standard which has been embraced by multiple professional communities over the past decade, and is now one of the most trusted sources of identification and disambiguation for public identities (including individuals and organisations) worldwide.”
  • Marketing the Library webinar 2: Producing creative campaigns – Libraries Connected. “This is the second of three webinars in our Marketing the Library project. It will explore the power of creativity and share techniques and tools for coming up with new and original campaign and marketing ideas.”
  • Save Our Libraries: ‘Libraries should be communal living rooms for people across Scotland’ – Scotsman. “The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) has published its four-year strategy for Scotland’s libraries, putting them at the heart of the Covid recovery. Here, its CEO explains why they should be ‘communal living rooms’ to benefit all, particularly low income families.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Library @ the Lightbox – Barnsley Glassworks. “The Lightbox challenges our perceptions of what a modern library should be. It’s a place to learn, explore, meet and make connections in a warm and friendly space. Over four floors there are a range of digital services, including cutting-edge virtual reality, a training suite complete with a 65-inch interactive touch screen, tablet computers and advanced printing and photocopying facilities. The fully-accessible building also includes a sanctuary room for people with autism and provides meeting space for a number of organisations, including a Music and Memories Group, supported by the Alzheimer’s Society and designed for people living with dementia. Visitors can access a range of health and wellbeing services such as counselling and support for parents, including drop-in sessions with midwives and health visitors. The rooftop terrace has amazing views of the bustling town centre. The multi-purpose events space has the capacity to host large events, workshops and group activities. Books are at the heart of it all, expanding horizons through fact or fiction and friendly staff to help borrowing easy. For younger library members, digital technology and interactive story times with innovative software bring exciting stories to life through images, lights and sounds, helping to develop speech, language and reading. Library @ the Lightbox is open six days a week. Library users also benefit from self-service access out of hours and on Sundays – making the Lightbox easy to enjoy.”
  • Blaenau Gwent – Councillors to discuss use of libraries as council hubs – South Wales Argus. “The report says that the main type of help being asked for is on Council Tax, benefit application, blue badge applications, to report issues and to pay for services.”
  • Bristol – Meeting spaces in libraries – Designing Libraries. “Nooks are mobile, quiet, focus pods that are designed to provide a feeling of wellbeing and calm without causing isolation, and a useful addition to the ranges currently on the market for libraries designing workspaces and meeting spaces. Nook is also an internationally certified autism resource.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Libraries launch children’s ‘Climate Champions’ creative writing project – In Your Area. “Cheshire West and Chester Libraries have partnered with literary arts organisation, Read Now Write Now, Arts Council England, and libraries in the Liverpool city region. The workshops are all themed around climate change, and will involve online writing workshops, recorded workshops, and learning resources available for schools to use.”
  • Croydon – The restoration of Norbury Library – Designing Libraries. “A welcoming new café, and accessible community facilities supported by the installation of a new lift. A vibrant new children’s library for young readers and families. Technology-enabled workspaces, helping students, small businesses and residents get online.”
  • Derbyshire – Interested in running a library? – Derbyshire County Council. “As part of our strategy for libraries, we aim to transfer the following 20 of our 45 libraries to community management. These libraries are: Borrowash, Brimington, Clowne, Creswell, Duffield, Etwall, Gamesley, Hadfield, Hayfield, Holmewood, Killamarsh, Melbourne, Old Whittington, Pinxton, Somercotes, Tideswell, Whaley Bridge, Whitwell, Wingerworth, and Woodville. We’re already working with organisations at some of these libraries, and are still looking for groups at others”
  • East Renfrewshire – East Renfrewshire plans permanent library fines amnesty while banning late fees – Herald. “East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust (ERCLT), the charity delivering sport, leisure, arts and culture services in the region for the local council is looking at wiping all existing fines and says it aims to have these removed “as soon as possible”. The abolition of fines in all Scotland’s libraries is being pushed by campaigners as part of a move to make them the heart of a pandemic recovery.”

“We want our libraries to be welcoming community spaces, where people return to use our resources, enjoy reading and discover new books. Late fees can prevent people from coming along and they can also adversely affect those most in need of a public library service.”

Scott Simpson, East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure Trust head of libraries and information services
  • Essex – New plans to be revealed to revive county’s libraries – East Anglian Daily Times. “After a huge public outcry and a star-studded campaign, the plan to keep the reprieved Essex libraries thriving will be unveiled next month. Essex County Council had planned to close 25 of its 74 libraries in 2018 before making a U-turn a year later.” … “The county council now plans to publish its draft strategy on the future of libraries in Essex in October, and it has been praised for its “act of genuine repentance” three years after its heavily criticised closure proposal.” Deputy leader says ““The libraries will be remain open and they will be run by county council staff.”
    • Essex County Council public libraries consultation – Echo. “The county council says the current administration sees the development of library services as a priority.” … “Cllr Lousie McKinlay, deputy leader and cabinet member for communities, said: “I want to see libraries at the heart of our communities. That is why we plan to invest in, enhance and protect the library service.””
    • Loughton campaigners take to the streets to save libraries – Epping Forest Guardian. “They claim the plans will lead to a much smaller library space and put “property developers before people”. The project, led by Essex Homes, promises to replace the 1970s-built library in Trapps Hill, which the council says “will soon require extensive and costly maintenance”, with a brand-new library and up to 38 flats.
    • New borrowing scheme launches in Essex Libraries – Essex County Council. “You can now check out more than books at our Libraries as we pilot the Essex Library of Things. We now have a catalogue of items ranging from a drum set to a pressure washer available to reserve and borrow free of charge. All you need is to be over 18 and have a Library card. You can then reserve the item and collect from one of five libraries or the mobile library service.”
  • Glasgow – Glasgow City Council bosses admit concern over size of funding pot to reopen closed venues – Glasgow Evening Times. Council “will make a “strong” pitch to the Scottish Government for money to get libraries open, but admitted there are concerns over the size of the fund. Depute council leader David McDonald said the city would make a “compelling” case to “get as much money as possible” from a £1.25m pot.”

Libraries in the Royal Borough of Greenwich have become the first in the country to move across to fully biodegradable library cards that are made in the UK, from ethically sourced materials. The borough’s 13 public libraries have begun issuing the new eco-cards this week and with over 121,000 library cards currently in circulation within Greenwich alone, the change will have a significant environmental impact – reducing the amount of plastic going to landfill.

GLL, the charitable social enterprise that operates Royal Greenwich’s libraries on behalf of the council, has partnered with manufacturing specialist Spectrum Plastics and Products to develop the new card – which is full colour, includes a barcode and is made from FSC ethically sourced cardboard. The scheme is the latest in a series of initiatives undertaken by libraries within the Royal Borough to minimise their environmental impact.  These include the recent refurbishment of Eltham Library, which included installing energy efficient lighting, using water-based paints – emitting minimal VOCs and upcycling furniture where possible.  New furniture was sustainably sourced and new carpeting partially made from recycled materials.

Greenwich – Royal Borough of Greenwich launches UK’s first ethically sourced ‘Eco’ library cardsGLL press release