The big global news is of course the Ukraine and I am sure all of our best wishes go out to those affected by Putin’s aggression there. If any of you are on Putin’s side, it may be worthwhile re-evaluating your information gathering skills. Massive respect to the Ukrainian librarians who are doing their best under the most difficult of circumstances and, particularly, to the conference organisers who promised they’ll get it running after they’ve vanquished their invaders.

Less important globally but still fairly stunning was the announcement by Libraries Connected that they no longer consider CIPFA fit for purpose. It’s one thing when everyone says it privately or it’s in the editorial of a blog but for the national public library body to come out in the open and say you’re rubbish … well, that’s humiliatingly bad. One hopes that things will now change. Worst case is the lame duck keeps on producing highly expensive, outdated and increasingly irrelevant reports because the minister does not care enough to change the process. Or that libraries fail to come up with a viable alternative. Now that would be humiliating. But not for CIPFA.

Finally, it’s so sad to see Wirral once again in the news about service cuts. They’re the ones that were most connected with cuts to libraries before austerity, with the 2009 report by Sue Charteris into proposed closures leading to the authority withdrawing their plans. Those were different times and its probable there’s no Sue Charteris on the horizon this time, sadly.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Accessible book giveaways and sustainability to feature at World Book Day celebrations – BookSeller.
  • Diversity Beyond the Bookshelf – Engaging library and school communities – National Literacy Trust. Webinar, 4pm, 25 May. “Look at the wider role of schools and libraries in supporting diversity outside of their collections through community empowerment. Explore a range of community engagement case studies. Provide opportunity for your to share your own ideas and experiences with the group.”
  • Libraries make big noise to entice children back – Times. Partial paywall. “Libraries Aloud is designed to encourage families to head to the library and have fun reading out loud. From today there will be a series of free interactive “read-out-loud-alongs” across the country.” see also ‘Libraries Aloud’: Beano campaign encourages children to read more on World Book Day – Glasgow Times, not behind paywall.
  • Libraries of Sanctuary – CILIPS. Webinar, 11-12, 11 March. “Join CILIPS for this unique Online Learning event on 11th March, 11-12, during which we’ll learn more about Libraries of Sanctuary, the vital value of the contribution they make, and how your own library service can get involved in becoming a Library of Sanctuary. We’re delighted to be joined by Ashley Beckett and Gün Orgun from City of Sanctuary, John Vincent, coordinator of The Network and author of Facet‘s upcoming book Libraries and Sanctuary: supporting refugees and other new arrivals, and Dylan Fotoohi, a founding member of Refugees 4 Justice in Glasgow.”
  • One in 4 children has never been to public library – Daily Express. “A survey by children’s comic Beano found 26 per cent had yet to visit – despite four in five parents (84 per cent) wanting their youngsters to go more often.” … “While three-quarters have not visited in over a year, more than half of children (55 per cent) were put off because they mistakenly believe they have to be quiet.”

We recognise the vital part that books, reading and public libraries play in the lives of so many people, and the pleasure they bring to people of all ages.

DCMS is supporting World Book Day through organisations that are in receipt of public funds provided by the department. Arts Council England provided funding of £94,360 to World Book Day in January 2021, to deliver a multi-year project – ‘Growing reading for pleasure for children & young people 2021-2022’. The project finishes in August 2022 and includes support for this year’s World Book Day event on 3 March.

In addition, Libraries Connected (the sector support organisation for libraries) has been encouraging public libraries to take part in the celebrations, to order publicity materials and to sign up and promote the £1 books. Libraries Connected is also highlighting World Book Day through its social media channels, website and other publicity, as will DCMS.

Nigel Huddleston, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Reading group needs help after Repair Shop man’s documentary – BBC. “Read Easy, which gives free one-to-one coaching, said more people had been coming forward for help following a recent BBC documentary featuring Repair Shop presenter Jay Blades.”
  • Statement of solidarity with librarians, archivists and information professionals in Ukraine – CILIP. “The library, archive and information professional community in the UK will work with our colleagues around the world to offer whatever support and solidarity we can to our professional colleagues in Ukraine.”
  • Why CIPFA libraries data is no longer fit for purpose – Libraries Connected. “The CIPFA library data released in February tells us more about the data systems and structures for libraries than libraries themselves. … the CIPFA libraries report is no longer fit for purpose because it is: Too late. The figures for year one of the pandemic came out at the end of year two; Disconnected from the sector … CIPFA collect annual figures and publish them around nine months later (or 11 months in this case). The financial figures are essentially the same as those we presented 15 months ago with a larger sample. This doesn’t help libraries.”

International news

  • Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s libraries are shutting down – Elliot Lake Today. “The Taliban takeover last August hit Afghanistan’s reading culture and book industry especially hard. Libraries such as Khushal Baba Ketabtun, with its highly fertile and engaging environment, went quiet. The number of book stores is rapidly shrinking, and publishers and printing houses are in a deep economic crisis, with some already closed.”
  • Ukraine – Address of the Presidium of the Ukrainian Library Association to the Library Community of Ukraine dated February 23, 2022 – ULA. “Libraries are a strategic weapon of the state in the hybrid war waged by the Russian Federation for many years. The relevance of libraries in overcoming the challenges facing people, the community and society in Ukraine has become apparent during the last eight years of Russian aggression. Today, when we face the threat of an open war with Russia, you and I, Librarians, are aware of our importance and our responsibility”
    • Lost for words: protecting libraries and archives in Ukraine – Nick Poole – Scotsman. “I know from my exchanges with colleagues in Ukraine that other than the threat to themselves and their families, they fear one thing above all – that Putin’s real agenda isn’t occupation or some historical re-connection, but erasure. The erasure of the Ukrainian people, their culture, their literature and language. Erasure of the idea of Ukraine as a free and democratic sovereign nation.”

Local news by authority

  • Carmarthenshire – Carmarthenshire’s first automated library opens – South Wales Guardian. Newcastle Emlyn: “The library, which is located within the Foyer of the Cawdor Hall Building, is the first of its kind in the county to offer its members state of the art interactive technology at the scan of a library card.”
  • Derbyshire – More than a dozen Derbyshire libraries at risk of closure – Derby Telegraph. ““Closures on a significant scale could help realise some of the required savings, however, it would enable the service to directly align its available resources with existing levels of use and need. “It could result in a patchy and uneven distribution of libraries across Derbyshire.” … “The council asked groups to come forward, but so far only one library – in Woodville, South Derbyshire – has been passed over and only five more have retained expressions of interest and/or business cases.” … “This leaves 14 libraries in limbo.”
  • Hackney – Hackney schools have their say on the future of the borough’s Libraries – Hackney Council. “The winning entries from a borough-wide schools competition to reimagine and design Hackney Libraries for 2025 are now on display in libraries across the borough. In October, Hackney schools were invited to create a poem or artwork to share their ideas on what Hackney’s Libraries could look like in the future.  As part of Hackney Council’s wider Library services review, the aim of the competition was to offer local schools – their teachers and pupils –  an opportunity to have their say on how Hackney’s Libraries can be improved, and help inform Hackney’s Library services strategy for 2022.”
  • Hampshire – Winchester Discovery Centre closes for seven weeks – Hampshire Chronicle. “major refurbishment of a Winchester hub is underway and from today (January 1) it will fully close for seven weeks. Winchester Discovery Centre will benefit from a £715,000 investment with2011 upgraded library facilities and improved gallery spaces, alongside enhancements to the café, toilets and lift. This follows a decision to develop a new cultural hub at the Discovery Centre through the creation of a partnership between Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Cultural Trust.”
  • Hartlepool – Hartlepool libraries get a revamp as new high-tech system is installed – Hartlepool Mail. First new system for 20 years, ” features a website where people can search for titles and reserve a copy for collection.”
  • Herefordshire – New Hereford museum and library ever closer to reality – Gloucestershire Live. “The council is sold on Maylord Orchards as the library’s location, having spent some £4.5 million on purchasing the leasehold interest and a section of additional freehold, having retained the freehold of much of the four-acre site since it was developed in the late 1980s. Acquiring the site allowed the council to take full control and decide the future for the precinct.” … “The feasibility report for the £3 million library move says making the new museum happen hinges on Maylord Orchards.”
  • Highland – Celebrate World Book Day with a visit to your local library – John O’Groats Journal.
  • Kirklees – Writing a new chapter on inclusion this World Book Day – Kirklees Together. “Kirklees Libraries are running a library card competition for World Book Day. Young people aged 11 years old or younger from across Kirklees are encouraged to draw a main character from a list of selected books. The winner will have their design used on library cards across Kirklees.”
  • Leicester – Jobseeking help in libraries extended – Leicester Council. “Leicester Jobcentre Plus and Leicester City Council are working in partnership to place specialist work coaches in seven city libraries, with the launch of a work coach in Braunstone’s Brite Centre from 25 February. Work coaches offer help finding jobs, training and support for people who might be facing multiple barriers to employment.  “