First off, my apologies. First the run up to Christmas then three weeks of a nasty attack of the Covids and then, yes, being a dame in a pantomime has kept me from updating Public Libraries News. This webpage takes time to do and that is a thing that has been of short supply recently. Of course, on the bright side, this means you get a bumper edition now of over a month’s lot of news. And it’s not all of it. I’ll check social media next time and add some more.

There’s good news from Cornwall, which has gone fines-free, and from York. which has announced millions of pounds of investment. Both services have been experimental in approach in the past, with Cornwall experimenting with devolving libraries to parish/town councils and York being a trust. Bad news, though,with the Wirral – a decade ago a byword for library cuts – being afflicted again.

But the big story is ongoing. Will users return to libraries now that Covid has become endemic and slightly less feared? Sadly, the days of hoping it will go entirely seem to have vanished. This New Year will answer that question, one way or another.

Changes by authority

National news

  • Arts Council England launches Green Libraries programme – BookSeller. “ACE awarded £163,000 to the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP) to get the scheme off the ground. CILIP will be supported in delivering the programme by the British Library, public library membership organisation Libraries Connected and environmental charity Julie’s Bicycle. The project aims to reduce the carbon footprint of library assets including physical and digital content, buildings and vehicles, and to enable libraries to help their users engage with environmental issues, and position libraries at the heart of local environmental programmes.”
  • ACE partners with Digital Schoolhouse for library learning programme – BookSeller. “ACE provided £75,000 of funding to the Digital Schoolhouse programme, which uses play-based learning to bring the computing curriculum to life in primary schools. The new funding will expand the scheme to libraries based in Birmingham, Leeds, Stoke on Trent and London, enabling local communities to benefit from its learning activities. “
  • Alan Hopkinson (IFLA) Award – CILIP. “This Award enables a CILIP member in their early career (full criteria below) to experience the IFLA Congress. The Award covers the whole cost of the IFLA conference fee.”
  • Authors, Booksellers and Libraries: Economic Recovery – Question – House of Lords. “To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they intend to take to support the economic recovery and growth of authors, booksellers, and libraries, in England after the pandemic.” The Earl of Clancarty has also written this article: Libraries and bookshops are a vital part of the community – protecting them from closure is crucial for levelling up – Politics Home. “Writers, booksellers, libraries, and publishers are part of an important creative ecosystem that also includes local schools and colleges. Despite the growth of online reading, books are an indispensable aid in improving and maintaining literacy.”
  • Axiell announces agreement to acquire Infor Library & Information Solutions business and expand global presence – Axiell. “The acquisition accelerates the availability of cloud technology to libraries and schools enabling them to, at their pace, join the community of customers, which work with Axiell’s sustainable and digital-first cloud-based library services platform”
  • BookTrust Storytime crowns best new book for sharing with young children – Love Reading 4 Kids. “Through BookTrust Storytime, the charity has been working in close partnership with libraries and local authorities to pilot new ways to support families with young children – especially those who are disadvantaged – engage with their local public library, helping kick-start their reading journey, so that sharing stories become a regular and long-lasting part of family life. The winner is The Whales on the Bus written by Katrina Charman and illustrated by Nick Sharratt.”
  • Duchess of Cornwall leaves copies of her favourite books inside phone box – In Entertainment. “Camilla’s widespread on-line e book membership, the Studying Room, has been planting publications by advisable authors in telephone bins across the nation to encourage folks to learn, and she or he lent a hand in Scotland.” see also Community library: a light in the darkness – Vivia Shukla, Newstead Wood – This is Local London.
  • English Library Journey – Eye Books. By John Bevis, £14.99. “In a ten-year mission criss-crossing the country – from Solihull to Slough, from Cleveland to Cornwall – he enrols at libraries of all shapes and sizes: monuments to Art Deco or Brutalism; a converted corset factory; one even shaped like a pork pie.”
  • Focus – CILIP. International Libraries group newsletter, with articles on attending international library conferences.
  • Information Literacy Award – LILAC. “The CILIP Information Literacy Group and the Information School at the University of Sheffield are proud to offer an award for achievement in the field of information literacy (IL). IL “is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully in society”.”
  • Jay Blades on learning to read aged 51: ‘I’ve gone right back to basics like at primary school’ – Independent. “Contact your local library, or go online, to find free literacy materials and support in your area.”
  • Letters: Lend your vote to councillors with the humanity to save our precious libraries – Herald Scotland. “There are too many who rely on their local library as a sanctuary from the daily grind of living, and access to books will have an effect on the attainment gap. In the coming council elections, I hope we choose councillors with the humanity to save these endangered spaces from cuts and closures.”
  • Libraries sector in the New Year Honours list – DCMS. OBE for Ann Cleeves, MBE for Karen Napier of the Reading Agency, David Smith of the Community Managed Libraries Network, BEMs for chief of Barking and Dagenham Zoinul Abidin, Lesley Davies of Sefton, Stewart Parson of Get It Loud In Libraries, chief of Sheffield Nick Partridge, David Rowe of Libraries Hacked, Nina Simon chief of Redbridge Schools Libraries Service, Darren Smart of Kent, Krystal Vittles of Suffolk, Fiona Williams chief of York Explore, Andrew Wright of Kirklees. Louise Smith of DCMS given OBE for work in culture.
  • Library Letters – “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.”
  • Library projects in the north and north-east secure share of £400,000 funding – Press and Journal. “More than 30 libraries in Scotland received support to help create and deliver new projects to generate interest in reading. The aim is to get more people involved in reading and covering topics like tackling climate change and promoting sustainable development.”
  • Library users facing ‘two tier system’ with growing trend for eBooks pricing readers out of latest releases – I. “The demand for borrowing digital books is growing, with an 80 per cent year-on-year increase, according to Libraries Connected, which represents public library services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But providing them comes at a significantly higher cost for libraries compared to physical books. While eBooks make up 13 per cent of all lending, they take up a quarter of the entire budget.”
  • London Libraries launch new pan-London creative reading and writing programme – SW Londoner. “The programme will take place across every London Borough and the City of London to offer 33 free online creative writing workshops and engage London’s diverse communities by telling their stories.”
  • Public libraries lend digital books, as demand for e-books grow – Star. “This new enthusiasm for electronic books has been keeping the digital lending service, OverDrive particularly busy. The company found that librarians allowed readers around the world to borrow 506 million e-books, audiobooks and digital magazines in 2021. This figure is a significant increase (16%) on the previous year”
  • Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant Award – National Acquisitions Group. “NAG are pleased to announce that their Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant will run again for 2022 with £5,000 available for a project from a NAG Member library.”
  • Regaining Footfall: Reflections from our netloan library user groups – Lorensbergs. “We heard how there are multiple challenges to returning users to the library while local restrictions and staff shortages persist. But for those libraries finding ways to stage new initiatives and events, results have been encouraging with a good response amongst targeted demographics of users. An extensive list of these initiatives and programmes as compiled from these discussions is available to read here.”
  • Support our Libraries: Libraries were never just about books – Nick Poole – Scotsman. “If you haven’t been down to your local library recently, you’d be forgiven for missing the quiet revolution that’s been going on between the stacks. Libraries have been busy, transforming themselves into bustling hives of activity, online access, meet-ups, reading, creativity and conversation (and yes, the odd quiet space for book lovers too).”
  • Welsh Government announce extra cash support for indie cinemas, museums, libraries and arts groups – Business Live. £5.2m. “The purpose of this fund is to support organisations that are in genuine difficulty – at risk of closure or where jobs will be lost – unless further support is provided. “
  • World Book Day invites everyone to its 25th birthday celebrations – FE News. “The charity World Book Day turns 25 on Thursday 3rd March 2022 and is inviting everyone to its party celebrating the past, present and future of children’s reading.” … “McDonald’s is extending its existing partnership with World Book Day” … Harry Potter competition too.

International news

Local news by authority

“We suffered some heavy cuts in East Sussex in 2018, losing 7 libraries and a mobile. Peacehaven and Telscombe is one of the parts of the county with a growing population, lots of new housing, yet no longer deserves a full library service.”

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