The BookSeller has been an advocate for public libraries for as long as I can remember but it’s not often, if at all, they do a libraries issue. So it was great to see one this week, with lots of related articles plus an offer for everyone to be able to read it free for one week. I enjoyed being part of their special webinar with Nick Poole of CILIP, Zoey Dixon and Heloise Wood on the state of English public libraries. It was a realistic chance to converse about the sector, including an honest appraisal of how quiet they are at the moment (around one-half of normal seems to be the consensus, although there are wide variations) and genuinely felt cries of anger about the limitations placed on e-book lending. The webinar was recorded and I’ll share it here when I get the link.

Sometimes one sees an article that is so gob-smacking that it defies comment. The one in the Telegraph today that suggest library staff could be used to meet staff shortages in care homes is one of those. I won’t say any more.

Changes by local authority

National news

From the front page of The Scotsman on Sunday
  • Kirstin Innes: Libraries are inspirational safe havens we can’t afford to lose – Press and Journal. “Sixty-one of Scotland’s 481 public libraries remain closed with no plans to reopen three months after restrictions were lifted; the council providers claiming that they just don’t have the resources to reopen these facilities at the moment.” … “The people who attend libraries are not customers. They are humans, existing in a space, accessing knowledge, internet or resources. And, as Barr says, many of these people do not have other places to go, or other ways of accessing these resources.”
  • Librarians could be asked to work in care homes amid fears of staffing ‘meltdown’ – Telegraph [paywall]. “Local authorities asked to draw up lists of who to redeploy to address shortfall, including those in ‘people-facing roles’”

BookSeller Libraries Edition

The digital version of this edition if free for one week from this link.

  • Devon libraries reach new audiences with escape room experience – “The project is part of a mission by Libraries Unlimited, a charity formed in 2016, to attract new visitors and reconnect with existing ones, with an open call for artists to pitch playful ways to bring libraries to life. ” … “We’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of support from Arts Council England”
  • Five librarians from across the UK pick autumn highlights – Book recommendations.
  • Libraries seek assurances on future after lockdown success – Various quotes from library figures, including Nick Poole of CILIP and Alan Wylie. “One in three people in the UK used libraries over lockdown … Many staff also developed creative strategies to mitigate the potential extreme isolation of their elderly users, with fewer digital skills… All those who spoke to The Bookseller believed the pandemic had made councils more aware of the value of libraries … [but]  the patchwork nature of closures, guidance and safety support proved particularly problematic in March 2020 when lockdown hit” … some councils have used Covid as “a smokescreen” to close libraries more permanently … [but] an ongoing library boom in the north”.
  • Post-pandemic libraries – Editorial by Benedicte Page. “This week’s special Library Focus issue of The Bookseller includes some fascinating titbits from upcoming history The Library about the complex ways in which libraries were affected by the two World Wars. Inevitably one is tempted to wonder how future historians will look back on the extraordinary period we have just been living through, and assess what the pandemic has meant for the public library service. Will this turn out to have been a moment that finally demonstrated to council leaders just how flexible and innovative libraries can be, the start of a new, truly hybrid library provision? Or one that provided an opportunity for council chiefs to turn temporary closures into permanent ones?”

International news

  • Australia – The Future of Libraries in a Post Covid World -Jane Cowell. “we have to build new pathways to the library for those who would benefit from our services and for whom the library is inaccessible for many reasons.”
    • All things considered – ALIA. “Discussion of how scenario planning can help inform decision-making processes in libraries when setting strategic directions in times of uncertainty.”
  • Denmark – The public library is the haven where we can rediscover the ability to immerse – Christian Lauersen. “In the midst of the attention-seeking and impulse-driven society, the public libraries lie as diverse oases that invite immersion and togetherness without commercial purpose or economic barrier to use. If you ask the Danish citizens themselves, the answer is that they experience the libraries as a haven in a busy everyday life.”
  • Global – New public library world champion named – IFLA. “This year, 32 libraries competed for the award, five were nominated and the winner, Deichman Bjørvika in Oslo, was announced on 19 August at the IFLA World Library and International Congress” … “It’s a smart design, which is built up around a fully automatic book-sorting system that enables employees to spend their time servicing citizens rather than simply handling books. “
  • USA -Mergers, acquisitions, and my tinfoil hat – Librarian Shipwreck. A look at who owns who in the US library technology industry.
    • Stop Pretending that Libraries are a Business. They’re not – EveryLibrary. “Like clockwork, every few months, someone out in the world publishes an article in the national press about how libraries should be replaced by X company. The argument is usually pretty simplistic: Thingamabob Inc. does this one function of a library really well, so libraries are on their way out. Obviously, when reduced to its bare essentials, it sounds so silly. Libraries do a lot of things very well, producing value for their communities in ways that are fundamentally different than any business.”
    • The Surprisingly Big Business of Library E-books – New Yorker. A look at the USA situation, over Covid and elsewhere, concentrating on Overdrive. ““Libraries have more power than they sometimes realize,” 
    • Why your library’s logo might be terrible: understanding what a logo does – Laura Solomon. “In this series, I want to break down the issues surrounding logos in a way that’s quick, clear and understandable.”

Local news by authority

  • Bath and North East Somerset – Peasedown St John’s community library on the lookout for volunteers – Bath Echo. ““For a small community library with just 700 books we’re definitely punching above our weight. “Over 200 people used our services last month. Not only is reading enjoyable, but it’s also good for our mental health too. It reduces stress, is therapeutic and keeps our brains active.” The library is looking for new volunteer librarians who will help with sorting books, collecting books from visitors, and offering help to those who use the services. Full training will be given.”
  • Bradford – Bradford Libraries help children get a great start at primary school – Ilkley Gazette. “Packs have been put together to help families prepare their children to start reception class this September. The ‘Great Start’ bags contain a range of books to engage, enthuse and excite children about starting ‘big’ school along with a musical toy and rhyme sheet plus a finger puppet for retelling stories. They also include a survival guide for parents and carers to help make their child’s move to primary school stress-free and fun.”
  • Derbyshire – Library once dubbed least-used in Derbyshire reopens under new bosses – Staffordshire Live. “A library which was dubbed the most underused in Derbyshire has reopened as a volunteer-led facility. Woodville Library has been renamed Woodville Community Managed Library and is now run by the Circularity Association, a group which provides community spaces for people to gather.”
  • Essex – ‘New library plans put property before people’ – say campaigners – Epping Forest Guardian. ““The consultation, led by Essex Housing, was deeply flawed and asking leading questions designed to create answers appearing to support the proposals.”
  • Hackney – Residents urged to have their say on the future of local libraries – Hackney Citizen. “The newly launched ‘Our Libraries’ conversation wants participants to explain how they used libraries prior to the pandemic and what the institutions could offer in future, including how they can better serve the community in an increasingly digitised world. Hackney is currently home to seven operating libraries and an e-library, with Woodberry Down library currently closed. Town Hall culture chief Cllr Guy Nicholson, who launched the discussion, said: “The purpose of the consultation is not to close a library, but to ensure that our libraries remain central to our daily lives”
  • Inverclyde – Bookbug sessions return to Inverclyde libraries – Greenock Telegraph. “storytelling and song sessions are making a comeback in local libraries.”
  • Jersey – Six workplaces gain disability accreditation – Bailiwick Express. Included the library.
Kirklees – “Here’s a little video to go with our Kirklees Libraries annual report for 2020 – 2021, a year like no other. Kirklees libraries really are at the heart of communities and here’s how we demonstrated that during the height of the COVID pandemic.”