At the time of writing this, World Book Night was yesterday. For those libraries who are successful in bidding for free books, it’s a wonderful way to promote their services and reading, although the glory days some of us remember of truly huge numbers of books being given out may be over. Also promoting reading is the Big Jubilee Read which has been released, although it’s adult-only book list means such authors as Rowling are unfortunately missing. The Jubilee is shaping up to be huge and the Read is, I am sure, just one of the ways that public libraries will get involved, including the news of a gift of 5000 Morpurgo books. For those who wish to see how important libraries are all the year around then the Dorset survey makes interesting reading.

Across the pond, the descent of politics into sharp and extreme division is leading to a fight over what books can be bought for library stock and, also, how much power local politicians have over libraries. The sector has long been semi-independent in many states and so this is a worry developing for many American libraries who value their freedom from politicians. Meanwhile, the fight for freedom against Russian tyranny means news continues to be made in the Ukraine with librarians and libraries helping the fight.

Changes by local authority

National news

International news

  • Ukraine – In Lviv, Ukrainian volunteers create camo netting and community – NBC News. “Near the corner of the square, inside an ornate building that now houses a youth library, volunteers convene to create camouflage nets for soldiers on the front lines. Built in the 17th century with walls carrying ornamental painted trim and vaulted ceilings, this library has made room for one of the many beating hearts of volunteer work and Ukrainian patriotism within a city that’s served as a relative safe haven from the horrors of Kyiv, Bucha and the eastern front.” … “In this library, where locals still borrow books and which once housed royalty and then a seminary, volunteers have made more than 500 nets that collectively stretch over 32,000 square feet.”
    • Ukraine blog – The secret weapon in Ukraine’s fight against Russia – libraries – Library Campaign. “Far from being passive victims, the country’s libraries are involved in the fight for victory. Just as British Libraries encouraged their patrons to Read for Victory during WW2 and embedded themselves as Information Bureaus within their local communities, so too are Ukrainian libraries playing vital roles within this conflict.”
  • USA – Why Libraries May Never Stop Being People Places – New York Times. “Libby suggests, intentionally or not, that public libraries, the actual buildings, are no longer necessary, that libraries have become — like everything and everyone else — place-less purveyors of content. But if during the past couple of years you replaced in-person library visits with an app, you may be missing out. What many public libraries have done, despite Covid and because of it, is consciously enhance their physical presence on the street and in the neighborhood.”

As Mr. Reyes-Gavilan put it about the King Memorial Library roof deck, “When I’m up there on a warm day like today, people are so thankful that such a space exists.” Or, as Ms. Houben, who argues that every library needs a garden, suggested, “A library should be so nice that you bring your own book, right?”

  • New Kentucky Law Hands Control of Libraries to Local Politicians – Publishers Weekly. “Kentucky Republicans say the issue is “accountability,” pointing out that most of Kentucky’s public library boards can levy taxes and should therefore “answer to someone elected by voters.” But critics say the bill is in fact a thinly veiled effort to “politicize” library boards, and give unprecedented control over library operations to politicians.”

Local news by authority

  • Cumbria – Cumbrian libraries give out free books for World Book Night – News and Star. “Adult Learning Teams will support the Libraries Service in offering the books to groups that use libraries to develop their literacy and English language skills. “
  • Devon – Library exhibition celebrates female football – North Devon Gazette. “Supported by an Arts Council England DYCP grant, photographer Amanda McCormack spent six months capturing images of Fremington FC’s female teams from the Wildcats, who start at five years-old, to the women’s team aged 16 and up.  “
  • Dorset – Joint Overview Committee to review draft Library strategy – Dorset Council. Interesting look at what the public values in a library. “The consultation did not include any proposals for change, it sought the views of library users and non-users, partners, businesses, and employees to understand how the service could better meet the needs of residents now and in the future.”
    • Importance of Dorset libraries highlighted – Dorset Echo. “In the consultation, younger people said they would like to see more clubs in the library as well as arts and crafts sessions and board games. Those over 16 wanted a better range of stock and suggested a coffee shop. Responses from businesses and partners showed a need for community spaces, hot-desking and co-working spaces, and the ability for organisations to use libraries to run clinics or groups to support communities with health, wellbeing, and safety.”
  • Essex – Essex libraries safe for at least four more years – Thurrock Gazette. “The initiative was signed-off after an eight-week public consolation period in which the views of thousands of residents were taken on board. The project promises to increase the range of online resources available while also investing in training and the upskilling of staff at Essex’s 74 libraries.”
  • Middlesbrough – Middlesbrough library grant to tackle digital exclusion – BBC. £270K through Life Improvement Fund. “The funding for the Grade II-listed central library will be used for computers and printing facilities and create a “21st Century service”.”
  • North Somerset – Call for memories to create jubilee bunting – Weston Mercury. “Residents are being invited to put a memory from the past 70 years onto a flag which will be made into bunting to decorate North Somerset’s libraries. The memory can be personal, to remember a loved one for example, an event in family life, or a national event. Free workshops are being arranged where people can go along and find out more and complete a flag for the bunting. “
  • North Yorkshire – Families welcomed into library’s new-look children’s area – Harrogate News. “The new layout allows children to read in a cosy hideaway or sit under a large tree which is lined with brightly coloured comfortable seating. Mobile shelving has been added to enable flexible use of the space for events and activities, including the popular weekly story times and half-term craft and theatre sessions. The library has also benefitted from a £3,000 investment in reading material including picture books, board books and audio books, as well as popular junior fiction and non-fiction titles”
    • A chance to learn the Yorkshire lingo at the library – The Press. “Events will be held in libraries around the county as Ryedale Folk Museum and the Dales Countryside Museum theme the month around dialect and language. These events are part of a research project into how we speak, led by the University of Leeds.”
  • Nottingham – One Hyson: Growing Together – Libraries project funded by Arts Council England (ACE) Libraries Improvement Fund – Nottingham Council. £114k.
    • Nottingham City Council defends decision to close three libraries – LocalGov. “‘The council needs to save money because it has wasted money on vanity projects. That’s not the fault of the libraries. The council is currently employing consultants at a cost of £1,000 a day. They clearly have money. This is about priorities.’” but council says “I certainly didn’t come into politics to close libraries, but we are facing a financial reality which requires incredibly difficult decisions to be made. There is no doubt that there has been a national decline in library usage over the last ten years which has been mirrored in Nottingham, further accelerated by the pandemic. We therefore need to shape our library service to meet emerging and future needs.”
    • Campaign grows as three Nottingham libraries face axe – BBC. “A campaign to save three of Nottingham’s libraries has been gaining traction in recent weeks as thousands of people have signed a petition to keep them open and 100 writers, poets and librarians signed an open letter to the city council leader.”
  • Stockport – Edgeley, Great Moor and Reddish libraries go Open+ – Stockport Council. “Open+ is a great way for residents to get the most out of their local library. Once locals have signed up the scheme they can use the library at a time convenient to them, making our services more available to those who may not be able to use the library during staffed hours.””
  • Suffolk – Chantry men’s wellbeing group take up ‘new fight’ with 300-mile challenge – Ipswich Star. “The idea to cycle between all 44 of the county’s libraries was born after Corrin Eaton, a founding member of the Men Can Talk social group at Chantry Library, wanted to do something to help the venue that provides a home for the support group. “
  • Torbay – Libraries Unlimited South West – Torbay Lottery. “We offer free access to thousands of books, eBooks, audiobooks, eAudiobooks, online reference, music and magazines. Each of our libraries runs numerous events and activities for all the family, and staff are on hand to help you find anything you need. We need your help so we can continue to offer and develop our service in Torbay. Thank you for your support and good luck” £624 of £1300 raised.
  • Wakefield – Explore science and industry at this year’s WordFest – Wakefield Express. “The festival, which runs throughout May 2022 and features daily digital activities, a youth-led sister festival ‘LitFest’ producing a ‘zine’ written and edited by young people. All libraries will become WordLabs – with competitions for children and word-themed challenges being set every week such as mini-catapult making, Lego tower building and paper aeroplane design.”