I don’t know the places in questions and I could be off but it looks to me like there’s some rivalry between Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. The former is Labour-run and aiming to close libraries amidst protest while the latter, run by Conservatives/Independents is making very loud noises about not closing libraries. Hmm. Over 120 miles to the south, Slough asked about closing libraries in a consultation and got a resounding slap in the face.

Away from cuts, it’s interesting to see that even in February 2022, there are still libraries closed due to Covid. although reopening fast. In more positive news, it’s good to see World Book Day coming around again and libraries are already publicising their actions for the Jubilee in some services.

A couple of my editorials recently on library statistics – the laughable Cipfa article (remember the 200 new libraries gem?) in the Guardian and the difficulty of actually having a reliable count of how many libraries there are open and closed has gathered a lot of responses public and private. I am pleased to say that the leading light in trying to improve the situation, Dave Rowe, has agreed to write a short article below on the current state of play and what could be done about it. His expertise and confidence on the subject make me very envious.

Libraries Hacked on public library statistics

David Rower with a very important statistic indeed

Public library data across the UK is in a bad state. We’ve seen evidence of this in the recent press release from CIPFA, where ‘provisional’ information about libraries in lockdown was 2-year-old data. That data that will only ever be made available to corporate subscribers.

We don’t know how many libraries and mobile libraries there are, let alone where they’re located or their opening times. In some cases, this isn’t even on library service websites. The decades-old responsibility to pay authors through Public Lending Right (PLR) is hampered by poor sector data. PLR sampling relies on CIPFA loans totals, but the previous financial year is used. With the huge impact of lockdowns, this will mean the recent PLR annual figures would have been wildly inaccurate, as will the next ones.

The library sector needs to own this problem, working alongside the public to ensure data is made ‘public-first’ as open data. Data that needs to be maintained, such as library branches, should always be kept up to date, and data that is new, like loans counts, should be published as frequently as possible.

Can we maintain a list of library branches and their current opening hours? Can we work with library vendors to make loans data available publicly, not on an annual basis, but every night? My recent post on the ‘Library Data Blog’ (https://blog.librarydata.uk/library-data-authentication/) details work towards a system to allow all library services to at least keep existing data up to date.

But it doesn’t matter which systems are used, as long as services appreciate the damage caused by this problem and are willing to address it. We need more talk on this. A data community around public library data that involves the public, library staff, vendors, as well as all those with any interest in the sector, could improve this situation. If you’d like to talk about that contact info@librarieshacked.org

Dave has been running Libraries Hacked (https://www.librarieshacked.org/) since 2014. It is a community project to promote open data in libraries and create digital prototypes from that data.

Dave Rowe, Libraries Hacked

National news

  • Armitage launches next leg of 10-year UK library tour – BookSeller. “Each spring this decade, Armitage will give readings across the UK, from the flagship libraries of the big cities to smaller libraries serving rural and remote communities. His first tour last year took in libraries in towns whose names started with the letters ’A’ and ’B’  This spring’s ’C’ to ’D’ Libraries Tour, which will run from 24th March to 1st April, launches in Chadderton Library, Oldham, one of the UK’s first Libraries of Sanctuary, and will be followed by visits to Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen), Clevedon, Colyton, Chatham and Clydebank..”
  • Books2Door donates 18,000 titles for World Book Day – BookSeller. “The company, which was founded by Sweet Cherry Publishing m.d. Abdul Thadha, will be partnering organisations including the Children’s Literacy Charity, Alder Hey Children’s Charity and several primary schools and regional libraries to distribute the books. Sweet Cherry Publishing will provide the books.”
  • Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network awarded £315,400 National Lottery funding – Community Managed Libraries National Peer Network. “The grant, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, will be used to employ a full time Network Manager and two part time Regional Co-ordinators to implement a business plan that will create a network of community hubs based around community libraries developed organically with local leadership, to fit local needs and that can deliver transformational and long term change to civic life with local communities as the bedrock.”
  • Michael Rosen to encourage reading and rhyming with babies and toddlers as BookTrust’s latest Writer in Residence – Book Trust.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to support the Summer Reading Challenge in 2022 to ensure that children have access to reading materials over the summer holidays; and, in particular, how they will support children in areas where reading is uncommon.

Lord Bassam

The Government recognises the vital part reading and public libraries play in the lives of so many people, and the pleasure they bring to people of all ages. The Reading Agency, with funding from the Government via Arts Council England, will deliver the Summer Reading Challenge, in 2022, in partnership with public libraries. The theme this year celebrates science and innovation, as well as the key role of the imagination in both reading and the sciences.

Almost all library authorities in the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies will take part in the Summer Reading Challenge in 2022. This includes 27 authorities who will adopt an extended cross-authority approach to delivering the Summer Reading Challenge this year (an increase from 11 in the first year). This involves local authorities working with strategic partners in education, children’s services, and public health to widen reach and engagement for children living in areas of disadvantage through schools, early years provision, and other community settings.

The Reading Agency anticipates the Challenge in 2022 has the potential to reach one million children. This will include those in urban locations, particularly in the Midlands and North of England, large counties with fairly large rural communities, as well as coastal communities and the first pilot authorities in Scotland.

Lord Parkinson

  • Pandemic accelerates number of libraries dropping fines – BookSeller. “Isobel Hunter, chief executive at Libraries Connected, said the move to remove fines in UK libraries began to pick up speed in 2018 and was “accelerated” by lockdown when almost all libraries temporarily suspended fines while buildings were closed or had limited services. However, dropping fines puts more strain on finances. She told The Bookseller: “Libraries Connected believes that the removal of fines is a positive move for libraries. One service found that over half of people with outstanding charges were living in areas of high need and so the absence of fines is an important way to ensure that the people who most need access to books and reading are not put off by the threat of fines. However, many libraries face an increasingly challenging budget situation where fines are a key part of their income, so their removal requires a greater appreciation from budget holders of the benefits this would bring. CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals, agreed …”
  • Stephen Lawrence Day – Resources for libraries.
  • Survive and Thrive-Practical Steps You Can Take In Your Library Service – III. 23 March, 6pm, webinar. “Securing investment in frontline library services requires urgent radical and practical steps by heads of service and managers. We want local authorities and commissioners to think ‘libraries first’ whenever they need to deliver a service to communities. Experts Isobel Hunter and Susan Wills will discuss ideas for practical initiatives you can take right now, to make that happen in your authority. “
  • An update on the Single Digital Presence Project – British Library. “Since the funding announcement, we have been laying the groundwork for the development of the digital platform. This has included developing a roadmap, establishing governance and team structures, refining earlier research and continuing to consult with a range of stakeholders. Brand development, a content strategy and the technical build are three core building blocks and we plan to develop these with a core multidisciplinary project team to keep testing and developing in partnership with the sector and external advisors.   After a competitive process, we have appointed FCB Inferno who will be leading the development of a national brand to encapsulate the value and values of libraries.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – New Distance Aware scheme supported by Aberdeenshire Council – Grampian Online. “Free lanyards and badges featuring the Distance Aware shield are available from all Aberdeenshire libraries that are currently open to the public, as well as those offering the “click and collect” service.”
  • Blackburn With Darwen – Quiet please! Life at Blackburn Library in the Fifties – Lancashire Telegraph. “You have to admit this is a wonderfully atmospheric photograph. Taken in the 1950s it shows part of Blackburn Library complete with its heavy wooden shelving and books catalogued precisely. In the foreground is the desk operated by library staff. “
  • Bradford – Bradford Libraries Service celebrates 150th anniversary – Telegraph and Argus. Brief history. “When it first opened in June 1872, Bradford Public Library enabled people from all walks of life and of all ages to access information and education freely for the first time.”
  • Cornwall – Library launches flower project to help people through grief – Tavistock Times Gazette. “Okehampton Library is working alongside art charity Honeyscribe on a project to support people going through loss and grief. The project is part of Libraries Unlimited Finding Connection Through Loss.”
  • Derbyshire – Derbyshire libraries face closure or restricted hours – BBC News. “A number of Derbyshire libraries could shut or only open a day a week and not get new books, it has been revealed. Four years ago, the county council unveiled plans to pass 20 branches to community or voluntary groups in a bid to save £1.6m. But only one has been taken on, with five others with some interest, leaving 14 facing an uncertain future. The council meeting heard the library service would need to “review all aspects of current service provisions” … “One library – in Woodville, South Derbyshire – has been passed over and only five more – Old Whittington, Wingerworth, Melbourne, Tideswell and Etwall – have retained expressions of interest and/or business cases. According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the meeting also heard council staff could currently only handle one library transfer at a time and the council “has had difficulties” with the process. Michelle Parker, the council’s library service development manager, said: “It is difficult to say how long it will take (to transfer 20 libraries).”
  • Dudley – Union renews real Living Wage campaign for Dudley library staff – Express and Star. “Union Unison claims pay has not kept up with inflation since Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), a London-based social enterprise, took over the running of the library service in Dudley in 2017. The union alleges that library staff are at least 12 per cent worse off as a result. They are encouraging Dudley residents, library users, and local councillors to ask GLL to raise its wages to at least £9.90 an hour for all employees without the need for a change of employment contract.” … “Unison claimed that in the most recent medium-term financial strategy submitted to the council’s cabinet on December 15, Dudley Council has made £930,000 in “additional payments” to library services over the next three years as part of a “contract inflation”. Yet in the same report, the Conservative-led authority has tabled £360,000 worth of savings by 2025/26 for “efficiencies resulting from new libraries service [and] contract”.” …”The council paid GLL £3.9 million to deliver the first of its five-year contract, before dropping to £3.7m a year for the remainder of the contract. This, according to the trade union, has saved the council £1.3 million on previous in-house costs.” … “It is disappointing that despite numerous meetings with Unison representatives in recent months, they are still making a number of incorrect claims, suggesting that the GLL contracts being offered to staff are inferior to legacy council contracts and that GLL will not be paying the real Living Wage to all staff, regardless of contract type. To be clear, as an organisation it has always been our intention to become an accredited Living Wage employer.”
  • East Riding – Boditrax coming to five East Riding libraries in groundbreaking scheme – East Riding of Yorkshire. “Boditrax units give a personalised path to better health and wellbeing. Participants are encouraged to come back for consultations over 12 weeks to review their progress. This service, the first of its kind for libraries in the UK, is free for East Riding Libraries members. Membership is free – to join, sign up for membership online, or visit any East Riding Library.”
  • Edinburgh – Election candidates supporting the city’s libraries – Edinburgh Reporter. “Labour candidates gathered outside Leith Library on Saturday to show their support for the library service, saying it is one of the most popular services councils provide. “
    • Council announces that three city libraries will reopen soon – Edinburgh Reporter. “The libraries at Oxgangs, Leith and Newington will be returned to their original role as libraries after significant work is carried out to them. Sighthill Library will remain a testing centre for now. The council points out that there is an alternative just up the road at Wester Hailes, but Leith Library will move to Fort Community Centre temporarily as previously advised and will open in mid-March.”
  • Fife – OnFife Libraries celebrating a quarter of a century of World Book Day – Fife Today.
  • Inverclyde – Chatty Cafe project at library is a hit – Greenock Telegraph. “Inverclyde Libraries’ Chatty Cafés started in 2018 to bring people together to learn new skills, share hints and tips. And generally get together for a cup of tea and a blether – all of the things that can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing. There are now five cafes brewing up in libraries across Inverclyde.”
  • Leeds – Library exhibition reveals haunting collection of news cuttings and supernatural stories – News Anyway. “Spine-tingling ghost stories and supernatural newspaper cuttings from the 1900s have resurfaced as part of a national news exhibition launching at Leeds Central Library on 24 February. The collection of horrifying headlines will feature as part of ‘Breaking the News’, a fascinating look at the evolution of news and the media over the centuries.”. From British Library Living Knowledge Network.
  • Newport – The Newport library that inspired a huge Welsh rock hit – South Wales Argus. “A Design For Life” by the Manic Street Preachers – “Sitting uniquely between the terraced houses on Temple Street, the former Pill Library is one of Newport’s most historic buildings, dating back to 1889. A stone’s throw from Commercial Road, this beautiful piece of Victorian architecture spent more than a century serving Pill’s working-class community.”
  • North Yorkshire – Theatre and teddy bears at North Yorkshire libraries – The Press. “Theatre performances, a teddy bears picnic and story times are among the activities on offer during Under 5s Week at North Yorkshire libraries. From February 28 to March 5, the county’s library service is hosting free events aimed at encouraging preschoolers to develop a love of books.”
    • Libraries gift free books to mark World Book Day – North Yorkshire County Council. “In partnership with the National Literacy Trust, the county’s library service is offering a free book from a special World Book Day selection to children and young people who hold a free library membership.”
    • Praise for the volunteers who bring the books – North Yorkshire County Council. “Around 1,200 people benefit from the service, which sees volunteers deliver books to people who are unable to visit their nearest library, either on a temporary or permanent basis.”
  • Northern Ireland – Travel books ‘flying off’ library shelves for post-Covid holidays – Belfast Telegraph. “Librarians say overseas guides are the big page-turners since libraries re-opened to the public, as Ireland Reads Day encourages adults and children across the country to ‘squeeze in a read’. The national wellness initiative by Libraries Ireland and Healthy Ireland has so far seen the public pledge well over 200,000 minutes of reading.”
  • Nottingham – Protestors’ plea to Nottingham City Council to keep libraries open in proposals to save £28m – Nottingham Post. “Protestors gathered outside the entrance to Nottingham City Council’s Loxley House headquarters to plead with them to not close three libraries as part of proposals to save money. The local authority has identified Basford, Radford Lenton and Aspley libraries as facilities which “have low usage and high cost”.” Save Nottingham Libraries now has a Facebook Group and Action Network page.
    • Sale of Angel Row Library, Nottingham – Nottingham Council. “The property has been marketed on the open market and” a preferred purchaser has been selected with whom there have been negotiations. Final terms have now been agreed and the next stage is to proceed to exchange of contracts and this is supported by the property department.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Our new café is opening at Mansfield Central Library – Inspire Culture. “After a complete refurbishment and selection process, local catering company Mrs B’s will be moving in and taking over the café space at the library. Mrs B’s will be offering hot drinks, snacks and light refreshments to library customers and members of the local community, and will offer catering services to both external customers and those who hire the library‘s meeting, theatre and conference spaces.  “
    • County library network pledge given by council – BBC. “The county council had been asked about the 60 libraries after figures showed at one stage they attracted just 20% of their target numbers. But the authority said it would not close any – while cautioning that some sites could be moved to save cash. It was hoped with Covid restrictions easing, footfall and income would recover, it added.”
    • Inspire Celebrates Library Lover’s Month with a Pop-Up Library at IKEA Nottingham – Inspire Culture. “From 14 – 18 February we transformed one of the children’s bedroom sets into a library, complete with children’s fiction and non-fiction books, library membership forms, information about our services, stuffed toys, craft activities and a story time area. Customers followed a trail of pages from IKEA’s bestselling book which finished inside our library.”
    • We are striving to make Nottinghamshire’s libraries the best in the country – Nottinghamshire County Council. “…  our investment in recent years in new libraries, new mobile libraries, and IT infrastructure to ensure our long-running commitment to maintain the network and offer the best service for our communities across the whole of Nottinghamshire.In the past 12 years we have seen new library buildings opened in Worksop, West Bridgford, Collingham, Misterton and Cotgrave, with much of the remaining libraries across the county undergoing refurbishment. The creation of Inspire – which manages the library service on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council – to deliver our libraries, culture and learning services has been a great success in offering a range of events, exhibitions, activities, and courses.”
  • Peterborough – Peterborough libraries designated as safe spaces for victims of domestic abuse – Peterborough Telegraph. “Each library in the city will allow access to a private room and a phone line for people who need to make a phone call to access support.”
  • Sheffield – A new centre opens at Library @ the Lightbox to support local entrepreneurs, inventors, and small businesses – News Anyway. “The hub centre was first opened in Sheffield Central Library in 2015. Within the first three years, it helped create almost 400 businesses, 320 additional jobs and generated £2.8m gross added value for the region. “
  • Slough – Slough residents disapprove library closures – Slough and South Berks Observer. “The two proposed options to close the libraries received a ‘low approval’ from residents and users where about 15 per cent agreed to this idea. The most popular option at 81 per cent was to keep all buildings but slash opening hours, staffing hours, and reduce space. 74 per cent agreed to slash opening and staff hours at Cippenham and Langley libraries and reduce staffed hours at the Curve and Britwell. About half of respondents approved the idea to reduce spending on hard copies and eResources. Over 700 respondents commented on the survey. 38 per cent said they go to the library to ‘combat loneliness’ and that the buildings are a ‘valuable community asset’ that builds on social inclusion and cohesion.”
  • Warwickshire – Warwickshire’s libraries offer support to get pupils back on track after pandemic disruption – Stratford Observer. “In collaboration with Warwickshire Libraries, the SLS provides a subscription-based service to support primary and secondary schools across Warwickshire and help create lifelong readers and learners.”
  • Westminster – Westminster City Council update on Mayfair and other libraries – City of Westminster. “There have been reports that the Council plans to close Mayfair Library. This not the case. The lease is due for renewal in the Autumn and the process for extension is already underway. Mayfair Library serves a large geographic area in the heart of Westminster and is not under threat of closure.”
  • Wiltshire – Wiltshire libraries celebrate a decade of volunteers – Andover Advertiser. “Since September 2011, Wiltshire’s Community Library Volunteers have operated all the opening hours in nine of the council’s smallest libraries and supported staff by providing extra volunteer sessions at six slightly larger libraries, ensuring these services remain available for local people to use and enjoy. Over the 10 years, the library volunteers have collectively given 163,679 hours of their time.”
  • Windsor and Maidenhead – Maidenhead’s Big Read to begin on Tuesday – Maidenhead Advertiser. “The theme for this year’s event is ‘Ocean Alive’, and will feature author talks, storytelling and reading together at the library. There will also be an ‘Undersea Bus’ storytelling on wheels event in the Once Upon A Bus parked nearby on the High Street.” … “This is supported by a 10m life-size orca positioned right in the middle of the library.”. Campaign managed by volunteers.