A reasonably quiet week this one, with the most stand out thing for me being Arts Council England producing some nice videos publicising public libraries. Sadly, the other news is more information on the proposed cuts to Slough, which have been fleshed out as being a reasonably massive 33% cut, with the book fund being especially punished apparently because it is too good. Go figure. Meanwhile, the USA, the move towards Fahrenheit 451 becoming a reality moves ever closer with two library board members seriously suggesting books they don’t like should be burnt – never a good look. But here in the UK the ever present question is not which book to burn but rather at what level and when will library usage settle post-Covid. Will the new equilibrium be at 90%? Only an optimist I think would go for 100. And a pessimist may go lower. But it’s still too early to tell, with Covid very much still being around and some library services still not having opened all libraries or even starting events again.

Changes by authority

National news

  • CWA Dagger In The Library – Crime Writer’s Association. “Up to three members of staff from each British library can nominate an eligible author from the list below. The list of eligible authors is selected by the Dagger in the Library judges each year and comprises authors writing in the UK who have had at least six crime books published over a period of 10 years or more, who were not shortlisted for the Dagger in the Library in the previous year and who have never won either the Dagger in the Library or the Diamond Dagger.”
  • Libraries Activity Data – Libraries Connected. 25 November webinar. “We are analysing libraries’ activity data on a monthly basis and benchmarking this against broader data from High Streets and other areas. Join us for a discussion on what the data shows, what it means and provide your own insight from the library services to make our analysis a much richer picture.”
Arts Council England have commissioned this film, Your Library for help, fun and information, to help advocate for Public Libraries in England. List of shorter videos for specific areas here.
  • Network of sharing libraries and repair cafes – Scottish Government. “Under the £310,000 reuse and repair scheme, funded jointly with Zero Waste Scotland, more resource libraries will be established across Scotland – a key recommendation of Scotland’s Climate Assembly. The facilities allow people to borrow items such as high quality tools, equipment, clothes and toys rather than buying them. The scheme – overseen by the Circular Communities Scotland charity in collaboration with Edinburgh Tool Library and Edinburgh Remakery – will also see more repair cafes set up to teach people the skills to repair items.”
  • Public libraries and climate change – DCMS Libraries. “At the heart of the discussion and debate was recognising the power of public libraries in the communities they are based in, in being able to break down the sometimes overwhelming information and to disseminate this into the community. “

International news

Jacqueline May

“My work consists of 63 individual framed letters and ‘opened’ envelopes. Each letter is addressed to the Minister who had responsibility for libraries in their portfolio at the time the library mentioned in the letter closed permanently. Each letter begins ‘This is just to let you know’ and names the library, where it is located and the date it closed permanently. The timeline of the letters is from 2011-2017 which saw the greatest decline in public library provision in England. Librarians will understand why I have chosen the writer of these letters to be William Ewart.

I wanted to mark and commemorate these libraries, the people who used them and the people who worked in them. It is not a comprehensive list of libraries which have permanently closed and neither is it primarily a political statement. I wanted to name as many libraries as possible over this five year period. There is an inherent beauty in the names of these libraries. They conjure up whole worlds.”

Follow Jacqueline on  https://twitter.com/jacannem to see the images on the anniversaries of the closures.

Local news by authority