Some more information has come out quickly with more details on what the successful councils are doing with Libraries Improvement Funding. It’s good to see physical stuff being built and improved upon by the money, with the hope that more will be coming soon, fingers crossed. The details mean that this is a very positive edition of Public Libraries News. Apart from Croydon, which has started with its cut of 21% in opening hours. Finally it’s nice to see Dermot O’Leary calling libraries “hugely important” and there’s a really nice story from the USA about how libraries are seen as safe spaces.

Changes by library authority

National news

  • CILIP Conference + Expo 2022 – CILIP. Liverpool, Thursday 7 July. “The theme for 2022 is “Libraries, Information and Knowledge for Sustainability” and we want to leverage the collective wisdom of our sector to explore the role of information, evidence and literacy as a truly effective and joined-up response to Climate Change.”
  • Gambling inquest, Libraries, Power of Attorney – BBC Radio Four You and Yours. “Years of council cuts have taken a terrible toll on libraries. Hundreds have closed or been handed over to voluntary groups and many continue to face an uncertain future. But one national library organisation has said the system used to measure the performance and popularity of libraries is not “fit for purpose” and should be replaced. Our reporter, Bob Walker goes to Nottingham where a number of libraries are under threat.”.
  • Service Development Webinar: Bridging the Digital Gap – Libraries Connected. Monday 3 April, 12.30. “This webinar will introduce how the Good Things Foundation can support the work of libraries to bridge the digital divide.”

International news

  • Australia – Libraries: Its Time to ReEngage your Community – Jane Cowell. “While our core key performance indicators of visits, loans and attendance at events are improving, for a lot of libraries this has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. Our funding levels, our efficiency measures and our impact are all measured by these indicators amd whil it is true that the pandemic is the reason, it cannot be used as an excuse for much longer or our funding will be reduced. ” so The Return Yourself to the Library campaign ;  self-serve Click and Collect hubs over the pandemic in community centres; Outreach programming; reconnect with lapsed readers.
  • New Zealand – ‘Nothing was stolen’: New Zealanders carry on borrowing from closed, unstaffed library – Guardian. “A library staff member at Christchurch city council said 380 people came into the building that Sunday morning. “Our self-issue machines automatically started up and 147 books were issued by customers. No book-theft alarms went off, and at this stage nothing has been reported missing, nor have we spotted any damage.””
  • Russia – What the Ukrainian and Russian library associations have said – Librarycase. Russian Library Association on the situation: “Let us remember that libraries have always been and remain the most important institutions regardless of public views and the current political conjuncture. We try to do everything to collect and preserve our common values – our collections, our cultural heritage, the very code of information that we must pass on to the next generations. Our readers need us …”
  • USA – Idaho Republicans push bill that would fine and jail librarians for certain books – Salon. Censorship in the Land of the Free.
    • People are sharing heartwarming stories of libraries being safe spaces and it’s so wholesome – Upworthy. “The public library is one of the greatest inventions humankind has ever imagined and actually made happen. Libraries are perfect in concept and exceptional in practice. The idea that we ought to plop a building full of books to borrow wherever groups of people live is beautiful in its simplicity and the fact that we’ve actually succeeded in doing it is somewhat miraculous …”

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Little Lever Library relocates to new £5 million hub – Bolton News. “Once fully open, Little Lever Health Centre and Library will also host a number of GP practices and health services. The £5m project, which was funded by Bolton Council and the NHS, was completed in December 2021 and has been undergoing interior fitting ready for staff and public use.”
  • Bradford – £200,000 boost to Bradford’s libraries – Telegraph and Argus. Libraries Improvement Fund money: ” a £250,000 project to make adaptations to Council owned library buildings to make them more flexible and usable for community and partner use for a wide range of information and advice sessions, activities and meetings to take place, including outside of normal library opening times.”
  • Brighton – Brighton-based charity to open new library cafe – The Argus. “Team Domenica’s newest cafe at Jubilee Library in Brighton will serve a variety of delicious breakfasts, lunches and cakes, as well as the charity’s speciality coffee, roasted and packaged in Kemp Town. The charity’s cafes provide work-based training for young people with learning disabilities to support them with the skills and confidence they need to find employment and reach their full potential”
  • Bristol – Bristol Central Library set to be transformed by modernisation plans – Bristol 247. Libraries Improvement Fund: “The “significant” improvements to the Grade I listed building by College Green include the refurbishment of the study tables, adding energy efficient lighting and sockets.”
  • Cambridgeshire – Cambridgeshire libraries to receive £260,000 in funding – Fenland Citizen. “EverySpace is centred around adaptable, co-managed spaces that enable the community to connect, share, create and discover. It follows the ‘kit-of-parts’ model, capturing the flexibility and inventiveness of a pop-up within a defined architectural system. Enhanced wayfinding draws you in, with adaptable ceiling infrastructure providing moveable power, data and lighting. Multi-functional cabinets, moveable partitions and folding tables and chairs enable diverse configurations and a hi-spec, portable tech suite provides loanable tablets, mini-PCs and a wheeled touchscreen media wall. Accessible, dementia-friendly and autism-friendly design is at the heart of the project, making the spaces inclusive to all users.”
  • Central Bedfordshire – Consultation on plans to enhance Biggleswade Library launches – Biggleswade Today. “A consultation on plans to enhance Biggleswade Library to include a new children’s centre and registration service has launched. Central Bedfordshire Council is proposing a major makeover of the library, saying it want to provide “a modern, attractive facility and community hub for residents”. There would be improvements to existing library services, new modern learning facilities and complementary services introduced.” …”the proposal would see a Children’s Centre, Registration Service and a satellite office for council staff co-located within the library building.”
  • Croydon – New timetable for Croydon’s libraries – Croydon Council. “Croydon’s 13 libraries will launch a new timetable next month, with all buildings to remain open and council-owned, following resident feedback from two rounds of public consultation held last year. The new timetable takes into account the way residents currently use libraries and ensures that at least one library in the north, south and central parts of the borough is open and staff available each day (Monday to Saturday). Most libraries will be open two fewer days per week, except Central Library which will be open five days per week. This is in line with the public consultation, where the majority of respondents supported a council-run service with a 21% reduction in opening hours across libraries, rather than outsourcing or a mixture of a council-run / community-run approach.”
  • Devon – Seaton Library closes for a face lift – Devon Live. “As part of the makeover, a new Business and IP Centre (BIPC) is being installed to help give a boost to local businesses.
    • Devon libraries ditch CDs and DVDs in favour of more books – Devon Live. “The 54 libraries and four mobile libraries currently stock 13,616 music CDs and 25,886 film DVDs. But last year borrowing dropped by 25% to 13,083 compared to 17,369 in 2020. This follows a staggering 70% decrease in DVD issues since 2019, and 80-90% decrease in CD issues. In contrast, eBook borrowing rocketed by 85% in 2020.”
  • Dorset – Children in west Dorset bring characters to life for World Book Day – Dorset Echo.
  • Essex – Library scheme to help literacy – Yellow Advertiser. “Every library in Essex will have a designated space to help literacy levels by the end of June, as part of its new plan to reshape the service in the county. The draft council plan details how Essex County Council intends to transform the library service over the next four years – including at its cornerstone how to help children and adults improve their reading in new literacy corners. The authority has also pledged to develop a planned programme of building improvements that will consider upgrade and cosmetic improvements and to develop its mobile library offer to support service outreach and community engagement. And a new online library platform will see a “more user-friendly interface, and enhanced functionality such as online bookings for special events and activities”.”
    • Dermot O’Leary stresses need for libraries after Colchester visit – Maldon Standard. ““But not every kid can afford a book, so libraries are hugely important, and they are up there with hospitals as far as I am concerned.” Dermot’s supportive comments come just over two years after Essex County Council performed a U-turn on their controversial plans to axe libraries in the area.”
  • Flintshire – Flintshire public libraries celebrate wellbeing in national programme of events – The Leader.
  • Gloucestershire – First look at new £250k digital learning space planned for Cheltenham – Punchline Gloucester. Libraries Improvement Fund: “the building in Oakley will offer the latest digital technology for all ages, with free facilities, training and support to help with literacy and learning skills.”
    • Official launch of Innovation Lab at Gloucester Library – News Anyway. “The lab at Gloucester Library, funded by local enterprise partnership GFirst LEP, is the second to open in the county, offering the latest digital design equipment and technical expertise available to boost skills and support employment.”
  • Inverclyde – Hearing aid batteries available at libraries – Greenock Telegraph. “The council has teamed up with Inverclyde Royal’s audiology service to give local patients the option on their doorstep.”
  • Milton Keynes – Stony Stratford Library set yo re-open after redevelopment work – Citiblog. “The project has been a partnership between Stony Stratford Town Council and Milton Keynes Council which contributed £100,000 towards the work. Local organisations including Friends of Stony Stratford Library (FOSSL) and Community Foundation have also supported with the installation of a kitchen on the first floor. The two-storey building, which is owned by the Town Council, has undergone a range of changes …”
  • Newcastle – Join the hunt for lost library books! Overdue books Amnesty – Newcastle Council. “Newcastle Libraries are holding an amnesty for overdue books up until 31 May. You can return your overdue books and you’ll not have to pay any existing overdue fines. And you can renew your library membership at the same time – win win”
  • North Yorkshire – Harrogate library to benefit from extensive improvement work – Harrogate News. “The project includes redecoration, the replacement of energy-efficient lighting and remedial damp works.”
    • Northallerton library set to turn a new leaf – York Press. “The new space will include a large tree where children can sit and read, plus decorative tree panels above new shelving on the walls. There will be new brightly coloured seating and shelving to complement the green carpet. The library will also benefit from £3,000 of new reading material including picture books, board books and audio books, as well as popular junior fiction and non-fiction titles.”
    • Scarborough library receives £200,000 Arts Council funding – North Yorkshire County Council. Libraries Improvement Fund: “The ground floor will be reconfigured to create a safe place for families and a bright, attractive space for children to allow a wide range of activities and events to take place with quieter areas for relaxation, study as well as space to meet up with friends. There will also be upgrades to its well-used private meeting rooms.”
  • Nottingham – Books and other items at discount prices – Nottingham City Libraries. “As we make the transition to the new Central Library site, it is time to remove some of our older stock to make space for newer items. As such we are having a book sale, offering lots of items at discount prices.”
  • Nottinghamshire – Letter: No need for any scaremongering in debate over future of town library – Hucknall Despatch. Councillor accuses another of scaremongering and says no library will close.
    • New community hubs with libraries planned in Burton Joyce and Woodthorpe – Gedling Eye. Libraries Improvement Fund: “New community hubs with vibrant libraries at their centre are to be created in Burton Joyce and Woodthorpe.” Nottinghamshire County Council has partnered with Inspire to create the hubs after being awarded a grant of £170,000 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England. The villages’ current libraries spaces will be reimagined and re-configured to create more flexible library and community spaces.”
  • Oldham – Oldham Libraries help residents bridge the digital divide – Oldham Council. “residents can get eight hours of free support to help them become more digital savvy.”
  • Oxfordshire – Grove Library celebrates turning 50 with nostalgic trip to 1972 – Herald Series. “On March 14, Grove Library will be marking 50 years by going back to 1972 with a nostalgic display of 70s memorabilia, including some of the bestselling books of 1972, fashion, pictures and film. Staff, volunteers and councillors will be marking the occasion with a small birthday celebration – including cake – at 2pm.”
  • Portsmouth – Free Covid tests set to continue for Portsmouth residents – BBC. “Collection points are expected be set up at libraries and community centres and would be monitored through an online database.”
  • Sandwell – Sandwell libraries to extend opening hours thanks to new technology following funding boost – Express and Star. Libraries Improvement Fund: “On Monday Thimblemill Library in Smethwick launches the pilot of Library+ technology – a new way for libraries to maintain and extend opening hours.”
  • Shropshire – Shropshire libraries to be reviewed to ‘maximise potential’ – Shropshire Star. “In a statement the council said all locations would be “reviewed to maximise their potential”. It said they will also consider opportunities for co-location, where they could share space within other community services. Changes as part of the plans include the introduction of “self-service kiosks”.”
  • Staffordshire – Staffordshire libraries to celebrate Shakespeare Week – In Your Area. “The theme for this year’s celebration is movement and dance, using sport, dance and leisure in Shakespeare’s time. “
  • Stoke on TrentStill time to take part in Stoke-on-Trent Libraries Consultation – Stoke Council. “The strategy showcases how library services in the city are transforming to ensure they meet the needs of local communities – whilst building on the existing offer for members with a particular emphasis on digital services.”
  • Torbay – Local author convention lands at Paignton Library – Torbay Weekly. “Paignton Library is hosting their first Local Author Convention to promote and support books written by authors from Torbay and Devon. “
  • West Sussex – Poster campaign: 21 reasons why Worthing should have a public library – Sussex Express. “A poster detailing 21 reasons why Worthing should have a public library, dating back to an 1892 campaign, seems almost as relevant today as it did 130 years ago.”
  • Wirral – Funding means technology boost for Birkenhead Central Library – Wirral Globe. Libraries Improvement Fund: “A programme of works will reconfigure and refit the current IT suite based at the library into a modern flexible digital hub, investing in internal upgrading and digital infrastructure to substantially improve the service’s offer, whilst providing a multi-purpose community space to learn, connect and work.”. Wifi to be improved.