The ninth anniversary of Suffolk Libraries being a trust, combined with release of York Explore’s annual review reminds me to talk about libraries trusts for a moment. There’s only really three of them in England (Devon, Suffolk and York) and they’ve all done, as far as I can tell, pretty well. There may have been unpublicised cuts in any of them (by the nature of things, this is hard to say) but generally they have been notably full of innovation, confidence and a lack of branch closures. The library trusts are also far better at publicity (I’m actually quite concerned there’s nothing from Devon this week in this bulletin, I must see if they’re feeling well) than a typical council library service. Libraries run by leisure trusts, on the other hand, have had a far more chequered decade, with some going strong but quite a few falling by the wayside. The reasons for the difference is complex but presumably a major factor is that leisure trusts rely far more on private income than pure public library operations. And private income can be fickle. Whatever the reason, I see library trusts, with some reservations, as generally a success story. I’ll report back on the subject in another nine years.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • An Introduction to Death Positive Libraries – British Library. Thursday 30 September, 11am to 12 noon. “Recently a number of pioneering libraries have been exploring creative ways to help people think and talk about death and loss. This webinar will explore what being “death positive” really means and why it matters. Join Anita Luby, Head of Cultural Services at Redbridge Libraries, as she reflects on the impact of implementing death positive initiatives. To many, Libraries are seen as a refuge for thought, reflection and connection, where life can be better understood. In many ways they are a perfect space for opening up conversations about death in a positive and supportive context. This webinar will provide some general tips and advice to give you the confidence and inspiration to consider a death positive approach to your own service. It will also be an opportunity to hear how Libraries Connected will be supporting death positive initiatives and how you could get involved in their future plans.”
  • Black History Month 2021 Celebrated In Better Libraries – Better. “Taking the theme Dig deeper, look closer, think bigger – October is Black History Month and GLL libraries will be joining the action with an insightful and entertaining programme of arts, literature and more – sharing perspectives on history, identity, music and politics.”
  • Black History Month in Libraries – Libraries Connected. A look at what’s going on in Lambeth, Oldham, Redbridge, Staffordshire, St Helens and Wandsworth.
  • Libraries Connected to host digital tour with Pearse – BookSeller. ” “I’m delighted to be embarking on a follow-up #LoveLibraries tour, supported by Libraries Connected. The #LibrariesFromHomeLive initiative launched last year was a huge success and, although I can’t wait to see people face to face, hear their laughter, and know they’re enjoying themselves with a friend or family member for a couple of hours, the ability to travel the UK without leaving my armchair does give some benefit! Support for our libraries, via digital events, or physical, is so important. They have played such a pivotal role in my life, allowing me the dream of becoming a writer, and their importance to our communities, and future readers and writers, can’t be underestimated.””
  • London’s most-fined library books from the Highway Code to physics textbooks – My London. “The request was sent to all 33 London boroughs, and 14 held this information.”. Public libraries fine those learning to drive, applying for citizenship and studying the most.
  • Mr. Men Little Miss and Winnie-the-Pooh: Once There Was a Bear – POS pack and digital resources – Reading Agency. 100 packs to give away.
  • Support our Libraries: history shows the crisis of the public library is nothing new – Scotsman. “Yet while our universities flourish, there is a crisis in our public libraries. Councils all over Scotland are forced to reassess the future of their library network. Many branches have not reopened after the pandemic closures; perhaps some never will. Why has it come to this?” … summary of public libraries in Scotland … “he current crisis of the library is not a new phenomenon of the digital age, but part of a recurrent pattern of collecting, dispersal, recreation and destruction that goes all the way back to the Roman Empire” … “The London campaigners acknowledged that they were not themselves regular users of the branch they wished to save, and when we visited the under-threat building, a Victorian benefaction that predates Carnegie, we found people using computers and newspapers but none consulting the book stock. And councils, unlike the UK government, cannot print money”

International news

  • Afghanistan – The battle for Afghanistan’s libraries – Financial Times. “In the popular imagination, libraries are seen as safe and serene, places where study is undertaken in an atmosphere of quiet contemplation. Yet in Afghanistan today, libraries and archives are under attack. Librarians are either unable to come back to serve their community or in fear of what the Taliban will inflict on them. Many have fled the country or are in the process of leaving, often at great personal risk.  The public library in Kabul and the National Archives there now have a limited staff presence, but no services are provided. University libraries are all currently closed …”
  • Canada – “Read October” campaign launched to provide dyslexia friendly books to Ontario public libraries – Yahoo News. “All funds raised through Read October go to grants to help Ontario public libraries purchase dyslexia-friendly resources.”
  • Global – Covid-19: A catalyst for change?Covid-19: A catalyst for change? – Research Information. “as more and more libraries turn to digital content and cloud-based services, Burke believes there will be no going back” … “‘There’s going to be continuing  greater demand for ebooks over print books” [mainly about academic libraries – Ed.]
    • EB#1 Events and Bookings – Solus. “Specified, designed and built in partnership with Eastern Regional Libraries Corporation (Melbourne, Australia), Solus is delighted to bring you eb#1, your library centric Events and Bookings software. “
  • USA – Author Ta-Nehisi Coates on Banned Books Week, anti-racist books being banned – CBS News. “”Between the World and Me” author Ta-Nehisi Coates joins “CBS Mornings” to discuss Banned Books Week and the dangers of censoring books. Plus, he shares his reaction to one of his own books being banned.”
    • Implications of the transition towards library services platforms – Paul Derscheid. “Library services platforms or LSPs for short represent the current iteration of library management software. These platforms are distributed systems by nature and leave the trodden path of monolithic products by providing APIs for customized application development, which is by itself a considerable improvement in comparison to the rather limited possibilities that traditional integrated library systems (ILS) provide. LSPs are able to achieve this by implementing a couple of architectural changes to the underlying system, which will be discussed in a dedicated section.”
    • Times are changing: Covid-19 and library late fees – BookRiot. “Michelle Jeffers of the SFPL responded, “The library’s job is not to teach that kind of responsibility. It’s to provide equal access to information and education.””

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Bolton: Libraries to stay open despite £364,000 cuts plan – Bolton News. “all the borough’s libraries are set to remain open despite plans for £364,000 worth of cuts. But the cuts will result in reduced opening times in many of the borough’s outlying libraries, with some smaller ones losing as much as half a day, while some librarians have opted for retirement or redeployment.”
  • Bradford – Bradford Council stages free interactive storytelling sessions – Telegraph and Argus. “Bradford Libraries has teamed up with 14 local authorities across the country to offer families an exciting, engaging and free programme of virtual entertainment experiences. Children aged three and over and their families can join a programme featuring online activities and storytelling sessions held by drama facilitator John Kirk, who will take participants to far-off places with classic fairy and folk tales.”
  • Camden – Kentish Town Library of Things – Library of Things. Based in Kentish Town Library. “Kentish Town now has its very own Library of Things. It’s a place where you can borrow useful things for your home, projects and adventures.”
  • Doncaster – Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is officially open – Doncaster Council. Official opening pushed back several months due to Covid.
  • Edinburgh – In pictures: ‘Book wumman’ builds a library for the homeless – STV News. ““I asked her how important a book was,” recalled Rachel, who knows what it’s like to be homeless. “And she thought about it really hard and said ‘well, it can be better than food’.” That encounter led to her setting up a charity – aptly named Streetreads – and now she’s opened a library in the capital that has impressed one of Scotland’s bestselling authors.”
  • Essex – Essex: Valentine’s Day obscene content led to library ban – BBC. “Libraries in Essex have banned people 146 times since 2016, most commonly for intimidating and aggressive behaviour. But the county council said one person is prohibited from Maldon library for “viewing obscene content” on 14 February 2017. The council said the “vast majority… use their libraries appropriately”.”
    • Essex County Council says Essex’s 74 libraries will remain open – Gazette Standard. “The council triggered an almighty reaction three years ago in November 2018 when it was announced there were plans to close 25 out of 74 libraries and remove support for a further 18.” … “But Kevin Bentley has made his – and the council’s – position clear. He will not be cutting libraries. In fact, the plan is to invest in them and make them fit for future generations. The county council is now developing a four-year plan which seeks to improve services and maximise the number of people using libraries”
    • Essex writers invited to Essex Authors Day at Chelmsford Library on Saturday – Essex Council. “The programme will comprise of three exciting seminars, led by experienced authors Jonathan Crane, Simon Edge and Lizzie Chantree.”
    • Reasons for over 100 bans from libraries revealed – Halstead Gazette. “Another member of the public was banned from Braintree library on May 5, 2019, for “urination on furniture”.”
  • Falkirk – Falkirk’s libraries in running for major award – Falkirk Herald. “The Falkirk Community Trust (FCT) story may be coming to its final chapter but that has not stopped its library service making the shortlist of national awards.” … “The trust is due to hand back its responsibilities – including the library service – to Falkirk Council in April 2022, but hopefully it will be able celebrate winning a Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) accolade before then.”
  • Flintshire – Mold’s first ever BookFest will come to the town – here’s how to get involved – Leader.
  • Glasgow – Macmillan@Glasgow Libraries support service restarts – Glasgow Times. “Macmillan Cancer Support and Glasgow Life have restarted the face-to-face support that stopped during the pandemic. But as libraries reopen across the city, the service is getting back up and running. Pip Lawrenson, Macmillan’s engagement coordinator for Glasgow Life, said: “We’re so glad to be back and to be able to see people again.”
  • Hertfordshire – Herts libraries service could be transferred to public service mutual – Welwyn Hatfield Times. “The results of that review are expected to be reported to a meeting of the council’s education, libraries and lifelong learning cabinet panel next month.”
  • Hull – ‘There are lots of lonely people who look forward to their regular phone call – you might be the only person they’ve spoken to that day’ – Hull Council. “In November 2020 Library Link, a service from Hull Libraries, setup Call and Chat, which saw volunteers making weekly or fortnightly befriending telephone calls with customers. To date, volunteers have made more than 500 calls lasting a total of more than 15,500 minutes. Many of these regular telephone calls continue almost a year on from the project’s creation”
  • Kent – Thousands of Kent bookworms enjoy Summer Reading Challenge – In Your Area. “More than 12,000 children have been learning about nature and the environment in this year’s Summer Reading Challenge from Kent libraries.” cf. 19,000 in 2019.
  • Leeds – Horsforth Library leads on entrepreneurship – Wharfedale Observer. ” Start-up Leeds will be run at local libraries across the city and will offer support to anyone with a business idea or a fledgling business in any sector.”
  • Leicester – Readings, workshops and poetry on offer for Libraries Week – Leicester City Council. “crime writing, poetry and the Black Lives Matter movement.” … “Visitors to any city library between 4 and 7 October will also be able to contribute to a community poem to mark National Poetry Day”
  • Northamptonshire – Concerns about Raunds Library – helping raise local concerns – Tom Pursglove MP / Facebook. “I have been receiving a number of emails from local residents regarding the future of Raunds Library. I am mindful of what a much loved facility this is for a good number of people in our local community and am keen to help in any way that I can in securing its future for the long-term and gaining clarity around this. Indeed, I have been very active on these matters in the past and am willing, and actively being, supportive again. I have already been liaising with Raunds Town Council in search of answers. Of course, please feel free to get in touch with your concerns so that I can raise them with the relevant authorities.”
  • Northumberland – Northumberland libraries prepare to mark new chapter as popularity continues to grow – Northumberland Gazette. Launch of a “welcome back to libraries” promotion. “We certainly are ready to Turn the Page on a new chapter for the service with a programme of both virtual and physical events planned for the rest of the year, fresh new stock and a digital offer accessible to all.””
  • North Yorkshire – Libraries to celebrate poetry day – Keighley News. Events including poetry.
    • Join the fun-filled Libraries Month activities – North Yorkshire County Council. “To coincide with National Libraries Week (October 4 to 10), residents are being challenged to Squeeze in a Read to encourage more people to make a safe return to libraries.”
    • Libraries support students with new digital offer – North Yorkshire County Council. “Eduroam is an online roaming service for students, staff and researchers from organisations signed-up to the service, allowing them to access educational resources. Eduroam has also been rolled out as part of the County Council’s introduction of free public Wi-Fi across 16 of the county’s market towns to support recovery and growth for communities and businesses.”
  • Orkney – Library launches dementia help point – Orcadian. “Orkney Library and Archive has helped a dementia charity reach a milestone achievement, by becoming the UK’s 1,000th Playlist for Life Help Point. Playlist for Life supports those living with dementia to access music from their past. The charity has teamed up with Orkney’s flagship library to offer this service to folk in our community. A Playlist for Life Help Point is somewhere that people affected by dementia can access free information, resources and in some cases support about creating and using a personal playlist.”
  • Reading – Reading Libraries Events This October – Reading Council. Various events including Fun Palaces and Black History Month.
  • Redbridge – Council to approve children’s performances after monkey costume scandal – Ilford Recorder. “All children’s performances at Redbridge libraries will be signed off by the council following a controversy over an inappropriate monkey costume earlier this year.” … “At a full council meeting last Thursday (September 23), council leader Jas Athwal said Vision had provided a “full and thorough investigation of why the series of events took place”. “
  • Rochdale – Balderstone Library chosen for national scheme – Rochdale Online. “Balderstone is one of ten libraries in England that will work with BookTrust to test new ways of inspiring shared early years story experiences. Starting in October, the pilot will encourage young families to visit their local library, offering them a shared reading experience, to help bring the magic of reading to life.”
  • St Helens – Business start-up support now on offer at St Helens Library – The Reporter. “The move comes as The Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Liverpool (based in Central Library) and the British Library announced the roll out of several new local BIPCs across the Liverpool City Region to support future entrepreneurs.”
  • Suffolk – Suffolk Libraries marks nine years of making a difference – Lowestoft Journal. “All 44 libraries in Suffolk remain open with several now offering improved facilities and increased opening hours … After the relaxation of COVID regulations in July Suffolk Libraries launched ‘The Big Catch Up’ campaign to help bring people together and show how the library service can play a vital role in recovery after the pandemic. … “The last year has turned the traditional idea of a library service on its head and allowed us to reach even more people than ever before in all sorts of different ways.”
  • Wiltshire – Library book arrives in Salisbury 18 years after it was due to be returned – Planet Radio.
  • Windsor and Maidenhead – When are RBWM’s library hours changing? – Windsor Express. “The Royal Borough’s libraries are starting a new chapter this month with an expanded home delivery service and revised opening times. The council came under fire earlier this year when its budget included a plan to ‘transform’ the library service to move to an increased digital offering. This involved a plan to close certain libraries, including Boyn Grove Library, with the remainder operating for a total of 217.5 hours per week.” … “More than 1,000 responses were sent to the council consultation. Since then, it revised its position and is keeping all 11 permanent library buildings open, with some reduced hours.”
  • Worcestershire – Call to end scaremongering over future of town centre library – Redditch Standard. ” Coun Dormer said it was wrong to keep alarming the public over the future of the library in Redditch. “The library function in this town is going nowhere,” he said. “After The Hive in Worcester it’s the most used library in the county so why would we want to downscale it or downgrade it? “However it does need modernising, the future of libraries is as community hubs and it needs more tech, more computers. “A decision has not yet been made on its future site but the town hall is the favoured location for me and the county council.””
    • Free anthologies at Redditch Library to mark UK Poetry Day – Redditch Standard. “Visitors will be able to help themselves to these books from the day itself, Thursday, October 7, for one week. The books are the result of four different free writing courses, run by The Word Association CIC in partnership with Worcestershire Libraries and funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.”
  • Wrexham – Wrexham’s mobile library van could be replaced by ‘pop-up’ service – The Leader. “A mobile library van which visits isolated communities in Wrexham could be replaced by a new “pop-up” service, it’s been revealed. The travelling library has been out of action since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic to prevent the spread of the virus. In autumn 2020, it was replaced by a pop-up service, where temporary libraries are set up at venues across the area.” … “The local authority is now proposing to make the changes permanent in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint [not seen this one used as a reason for cutting library services before – Ed.], resulting in the old mobile library service being axed.”
  • York – Annual Review – York Explore. “We hope you will agree that our Libraries and Archives aren’t just places to read stories, they are places to make stories, and that this was especially true in the year the world turned upside down.”