Nadine Dorries announced £5 million for libraries in February this week. Or did she? As was pointed out to me by someone this afternoon this sounds suspiciously like the Libraries Improvement Fund (awards due to be announced in Feb 2022) which offers £5 million. Compare that with the Nicola Sturgeon who got some flack from the Scottish Sun, who is giving £1.25 million – a quarter as much but for a population one tenth the size. In other news, the relentless rise in fines-free libraries claimed it’s biggest US convert so far, with the New York Public Libraries ceasing charging its customers. Its boss called fines “an antiquated, ineffective way” to get back books. Finally, a shout out to Manchester Libraries who continue to invest in its libraries. Oooh, and by the way, in personal news, the puppies are growing wonderfully – eyes open and starting to walk.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • The 100 Novels that Shaped our New World – Libraries Connected. “Library users and staff around the country chose the novel that had meant the most to them during the pandemic. Whether it gave them hope for the future or simply provided them with comfort or escape, over 400 people chose novels and this new list is the result.”
  • Black History Month in Libraries – Libraries Connected. Lists some of the events.
  • BookTrust Storytime – how libraries are supporting families to discover reading – DCMS Libraries. “This Autumn we’re excited to be delivering a new national pilot, BookTrust Storytime. This aims to test new ways to support disadvantaged families with children aged 0-5 to enjoy books and stories together.  Funded by Arts Council England, the pilot is a true collaboration, with partners across libraries, local authorities, the wider library sector including ASCEL, CILIP and Libraries Connected, and families involved at all stages: developing innovative ideas; testing concepts and their viability in library settings; and reviewing the design of resources and the overall family experience. “
  • Collection Development Policies: A NAG Template for Public Libraries – NAG. “Updating, or even creating, a collection development policy is on the long term “to do” list for so many librarians in public libraries. With frequent requests for “ideal” “sample” and “recommended” policies, NAG decided to commission a consultant to review policies across the sector and pull together the best elements from a range of examples to offer a template for NAG Members.” 20 September, 1.30 – 3, Zoom.
  • Dorries declares war on councils who shut libraries and is on mission to reopen them – Express. “Ms Dorries, 64, said £5million would be made available in February to enable library services to upgrade buildings and technology so they are better placed to respond to the changing ways people use them” … “If I have one mission as Culture Secretary, it’s to open doors for those who need it the most. Libraries are the front line for that effort and I’ll press councils hard to invest in libraries because of the enormous value they provide.”

“When I was a young girl growing up in Liverpool, I loved my local library, partly because it was one of the only places I could enjoy central heating. We’d just moved from Breck Road to an overspill council estate, and we only had the one fireplace at home. The library was somewhere cosy and comforting, offering peace and a chance to escape. I still vividly remember taking my little brother with me one day, he must have been about four at the time, and sitting down with him at a table and poring over a huge book about atoms. I’d never even heard of atoms. But that’s the joy of a library – there’s a whole world of knowledge waiting to be explored.” Nadine Dorries, Culture Secretary

  • New library roles to launch five-year green digital plan – Cambrian News. “National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is set to appoint a new president and vice president as it embarks on a new five-year plan to enhance digital access and the library’s green credentials”
  • New library! Tooting Library (England) – Naple Sister Libraries. “We are very happy to announce the incorporation of the first British library to the Naple Sister Libraries program. We hope it’ll be the first incorporation of many to come! Tooting Library is a busy high street library in a vibrant multi cultural suburb of South London. The library serves a population between 10.000 and 100.000”
  • Post Pandemic Panaceas: the role of libraries’ initiatives and impact on the young generation – Eurolis. Nov 3/10/17 online, 4pm. “The seminar will seek to explore the effect that library closures during the pandemic had on children and how libraries have reacted to the challenge. We will learn what creative strategies of connecting young audiences through online presentations and other digital outreach programmes European librarians have come up with and the impact on children’s learning and development.”
  • Public Libraries and Climate Change – British Libraries Living Knowledge Network. Thursday 14 October, 2 – 4.30pm. “You are warmly invited to attend an online event on 14 October between 14.00-16.30 on the topic of Public Libraries and Climate Change. There will be introductory high-profile speakers followed by two panels on Strategy and Policy (Chaired by Sue Williamson, Director of Libraries, Arts Council England) and on Climate Projects in Libraries (Chaired by Nick Poole, CEO, CILIP). Speakers will represent a diverse and international range of experiences to discuss and address this timely topic. We will also discuss ways we can keep talking about this topic as a community post-event. Please sign up to the event using the Go-To-Webinar link. The event is open to all library professionals”
  • Scotland’s new National Librarian Amina Shah on starting new chapter as first female leader – Sunday Post. “But as head of Scotland’s largest library – one of Europe’s leading research libraries – she knows acutely the weight of her responsibility. To give a voice to those whom history has silenced or omitted, such as women and people of colour, and to deliver a library for everyone, where they can “see themselves reflected in the collections”. Equally, she says, it must be relevant in the post-pandemic world, a library that can help address society’s inequalities deepened by the impact of Covid.”
  • Shameless” Nicola Sturgeon accused of allowing Scotland’s libraries to be ‘decimated’ amid spending cuts over past 10 years – Scottish Sun. “Labour analysis of council finance stats found spending on public libraries has been slashed in real terms by a third since 2010/11 – from around £135million to just £92million last year. The figures, provided by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre suggest libraries would have received an additional £116.4 million over the decade if spending had remained at the 2010 level. Adjusted for inflation, Scottish Labour say that the real terms figure is as “astonishing” £220 million of ”cumulative cuts”.”
  • Teaching Skills for Library Staff – LIEM. 17 November, all day, in Leicester. “The course which aims to build on participants’ current experiences of teaching information skills in libraries and learning centres, offers stimulating discussion and an excellent opportunity to share experiences.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Bradford – Bradford Library to start new writing course for South Asians – Telegraph and Argus. “Manningham Library will be hosting a 10-week creative writing course for South Asian people, sponsored by publishing company Fox&Windmill.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Wisbech Library to encourage young readers – Planet Radio. “Each of the chosen libraries will receive ten sets of the Storytime shortlisted books, including large format versions for Storytime sessions as well as a range of resources and collectables to help encourage families to take part.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Borough’s Summer Reading Challenge is huge success as thousands of children take part – Northwich Guardian. “Of the 2,344 children who took park, 1,226 completed the challenge to read six books over the summer holidays. Lots of events took place in libraries across the borough, including 19 animal handling workshops, events by Cheshire Dance, Chester Zoo, Noodle Performance Arts, Radiate Arts, Jem Bear and lots of environmentally themed craft sessions.”
  • Conwy – How Welsh poet inspired design of Conwy children’s library section – North Wales Pioneer. “Conwy County Borough Council’s Libraries team has revealed The Story of Wales by Welsh poet, author and publisher Myrddin ap Dafydd, and illustrated by artist Dorry Spikes, influenced the set up of the children’s area of the Library at Glasdir. The Libraries team, along with Myrddin, Dorry, and design company Opening the Book, have created a flagship children’s section following the relocation of the library last month.”
  • Cumbria – Cumbria police on tour for National Libraries Week – Times and Star. “they will be running a drop-in session and joined by Copeland Age and Advice Team.”
  • Devon – Kingsbridge Library secures lottery funding for new meeting space – South Hams Gazette. “A new meeting space funded with £10,000 from the National Lottery has been officially opened in Kingsbridge Library. The room has a large Smart TV for presentations, free WiFi, a projector and screen, and users of the room can also access brand new kitchen facilities.”
  • Dorset – Dorset digital champions offer free help with computer and internet problems – Dorset Echo. “Dorset Council’s volunteer digital champions provided their services over the phone during the pandemic. With restrictions lifted, they are no going out into the community to help people and will be at libraries offering their technical advice.”
  • Dudley – Union calls for Dudley library staff to earn living wage – Express and Star. “The union revealed rates for library assistants are 12 per cent below what they would have been had the service stayed within the council, and have dropped below any other recognised council salary scale. Branch secretary at UNISON Dudley General Branch Theresa Kelly said: “Greenwhich makes a mockery of the term ‘social enterprise’. “Its flawed business model is based on zero-hours contracts and job cuts. The public services it pledged to maintain, such as leisure centres and libraries, are being eroded.””

Since taking on the management of Dudley Libraries, GLL has made a number of improvements to working practices including; staff rotas and structures and the removal of lone working in libraries – a practice that we inherited. We have never employed staff on Zero Hours contracts within our libraries.  We do offer flexible working, in order to help cover instances of staff sickness or annual leave. “We are aware that some staff have concerns around the level of their recent pay rise and we are currently addressing these.  We are committed to paying the Real Living Wage across all our facilities and are working with local staff to reach this point as soon as possible. “ We would be delighted to meet and discuss the issue with both Theresa Kelly and Billy Gibson, as we have yet to have any direct contact from either of them.

GLL spokesperson in email to Public Libraries News