One of the main problems the world faces today is that people can hear only one side of the argument. Self-tailoring social media allows readers to receive news only from sources that they agree with, so when one comes across an opposing view it comes across as alien and shocking. In the UK, the BBC prides itself on giving all points of view and thus now gets into all sorts of trouble as people on both extremes can feel angry against its “bias” against them, sometimes over the same article. Those watching the Beeb are at the very least going to know at least what the other side actually says but many now do not and rely on far more biased sources instead. Personally, I like reading news and editorials that I disagree with. It makes me think and change, or moderate, my view. One of my most successful debates I ever had was in the Battle of Ideas at the Barbican. But I did not win it. In fact, it was lost badly. But it changed my viewpoint to a better one. Imagine never being argued with and thus always, perhaps, consistently holding the wrong point of view.

It will some as no news to many that the public library sector is suffering from attacks on its neutrality, notably in the USA. Indeed, even that statement I just made about libraries being neutral may trigger some into angry rebuttals. The situation is very tenuous over the pond due to the American Right leading an attack on anything that disagrees with its agenda (esp. anything LGBT). Some of this is abominable. But the American Left is not blameless, with many calls from that side to censor stock and speakers. The poor library profession stuck in the middle is likely to be attacked from both sides. And of course we know that in the Ukraine, arguments over stock are now settled in war. Thankfully, the situation in this country is somewhat less fraught. But it’s also not entirely safe. Lasty week, a radical feminist writer was blocked by a council when she tried to speak in a library. So she spoke outside instead. And no-one’s minds were changed. Either way.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • ‘Anxiety’ over council library services as tough financial decisions lie ahead – Scotsman. “Research carried out during the pandemic has highlighted “anxieties” among library managers over how local authorities view the issue of statutory provision, with some warning that it is seen to “mean nothing” or “doesn’t carry any weight” among council decision makers.”
  • CILIP Conference – CILIP. 7 and 9 July, Liverpool. “Topics under discussion include media and information literacy, working towards Net Zero, decolonising the curriculum, data driven decisions, evidencing your impact and intellectual freedom.”
  • City of Stories home celebration events open for booking – Spread the Word. “Throughout June, the City of Stories Home offers 33 free workshops in libraries across London, with special readings marking the publication of the City of Stories Home Anthology.”
  • Communities suffer when library budgets are cut​​​​​​​ – Sean McNamara – Scotsman. “How much value a nation or local authority attaches to its libraries can often be a good indication over how much it values its people.” … “During recent campaigns, all major parties have been supportive of how essential libraries are at both local and national level. However, now the 2021 and 2022 elections are over, the proof of that will be seen in the coming months and years. Library budgets simply can’t be cut any further if they are to continue making the difference that they do.”
  • Harry Potter 25th Anniversary: Libraries and the wizarding world ‘opened the door’ to reading for many children – Scotsman. Mitchell Library opened at midnight when Goblet of Fire was released to allow children who couldn’t afford to buy the book to read it at the same time as others. ” … “The main emphasis for the library within these festivities is that children, regardless of family income, should have access to books so their land of possibilities was not compromised.”
  • Libraries providing inclusive opportunities – CLOA. “Isobel Hunter MBE, CEO, Libraries Connected covers what libraries are doing to ensure this rings true for people with disabilities, and how they’re thinking beyond physical access to their buildings to develop a digital offer and work in communities to ensure libraries are as inclusive as possible.”
  • Library Social Media Manifesto – Ned Potter. Slides and thoughts from the master.
  • The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson – Good Reads. “Based on true events, The Little Wartime Library is a gripping and heart-wrenching page-turner that remembers one of the greatest resistance stories of the war.” … Each chapter has a quote from a librarian or a user , the first being by Carol Stump, President of Libraries Connected.
  • ‘Our work to get children reading has never been more urgent’ – Nursing World. “Annie Crombie of BookTrust on how a pilot scheme is reconnecting young children and families with their local libraries post-Covid” … “Storytime pilot, designed to encourage families with children aged 0-5 to share stories and visit their local library” … “BookTrust Storytime will be returning to libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland from September this year – and we look forward to delivering it in partnership with our fantastic network of library and community partners. “
  • Parliamentary Culture and Library History in Britain – Intellectual History. ” The earliest ‘public’ libraries were founded in Norwich in 1608, Ipswich in 1612 and in Bristol in 1613″ … “The subscription library model was first pioneered in Philadelphia in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin’s famous ‘Junto’ debating club as a pragmatic solution to the practical difficulties of accessing new books in a colonial city far from the centre of British book publishing in London. ” … “The first formal subscription library in Liverpool was founded in 1758, followed by similar libraries founded in Warrington (1760), Carlisle, Halifax and Leeds (all 1768), Macclesfield (1770), Sheffield (1771), and Bristol (1772/3).”

Public libraries play an important role in tackling digital exclusion. Around 2,900 public libraries in England provide a trusted network of accessible locations with staff, volunteers, free wifi, public PCs, and assisted digital access to a wide range of digital services.

Chris Philp MP, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Public Libraries and Literacy Recovery – Libraries Connected and National Literacy Trust. Webinar. “Join us to find out about a new report and assets developed by the National Literacy Trust that will help libraries to deliver and demonstrate their role in supporting post-pandemic literacy recovery.” Tuesday 28 June, 11am
  • Solus releases Ukrainian language support – Solus.  Ukrainian added to app.
  • University libraries ‘should censor resources’, say students – Research Professional News. “According to a Higher Education Policy Institute poll of more than 1,000 UK undergraduates, 34 per cent believe libraries should include all resources for the purpose of academic study—down from 47 per cent when the survey was last conducted six years ago.”. 11% even want to no-platform the Conservative Party, 12% the Communists.

International news

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeen – Aberdeen Reads returns with a global challenge for the city’s book fans – Aberdeen Council. “For every book read or challenge completed, Library Bear will earn twenty ‘Bear Miles’ which will see him travel around the Globe. The aim is to have Library Bear travel to a variety of destinations around the world as chosen by pupils from schools involved in the ReadMore Project.”
  • Birmingham – Hundreds of new computers for community libraries – Birmingham City Council. ” 520 PCs are now available across the city making it easier for those residents who struggle to access digital devices. Geoff Cross, an ‘IT Buddy’ at Sutton library, said: “The new computers are a godsend. Gone are the tired old lumps and here are the state-of-the art sleek beasts to keep up with the current demands from our customers.”
  • Bolton – First look at Bolton’s temporary new central library – Manchester World. “New images show how Bolton’s temporary new central library will look when it opens in the former New Look branch at Crompton Place.” … “The main body of the temporary library needs space for 30,000 books, a dedicated children’s area, 36 staff and public PCs, three self-service kiosks, study spaces, area for clubs and groups to meet, a library workroom to process stock. and event space. Coun Cox, said: “The central library and Museum are the cornerstones of Bolton’s cultural offer, with hundreds of thousands of residents coming to visit each year.”
  • Bradford – Opinion: Use libraries or lose more of them – Telegraph and Argus. Book returned after being taken out in 1946. Used as launchpad for article on libraries.
  • Croydon – Croydon mayor blames ‘rising costs’ as new library set to become shop – My London News. “Croydon’s new mayor has blamed “rising costs and construction delays” after a new library left empty for two years was put up for rent as a shop. His comments come after the “prime retail unit” was listed at £60,000 a year by council-owned developer Brick by Brick. Croydon ‘s executive mayor Jason Perry said he is “determined” to create a modern and improved library for South Norwood residents”
  • Cumbria – Whitehaven Library hosts murder mystery evening with Highly Suspect UK – News and Star. “Highly Suspect” theatre group does murder mystery in library for fourth time.
  • Shropshire – Overdue library book returned to Shrewsbury after 50 years – BBC.
  • Suffolk – Rushmere library saved from closing down – Ipswich Star. “The only library in northeast Ipswich will be able to continue its activities as the service has received a funding boost – thanks to the efforts of a group of passionate volunteers. The Suffolk Libraries session at Rushmere Pavilion was set to close at the end of July as the funding to pay for it was set to run out. The pop-up library is not part of the Suffolk Libraries contract with Suffolk County Council, and additional funding is essential to keep it going.”
  • Warwickshire – Polesworth Library and Information Centre celebrates 70 years of library service in North Warwickshire – Warwickshire Council.
  • West Sussex – Worthing Library serves nearly 3,500 customers each week since it reopened in June ‘21 – West Sussex Council. Library had not changed since 1975. “We feel privileged to have found an additional 3,000 new library members since last July to enjoy all of this with us, but we always love to see a new face, so to anyone who hasn’t been to visit yet, we invite you to come along and discover all the things on offer for yourself.”” Now co-located with registrars and health.
  • Wirral – Wirral library thrown a lifeline’ by new councillor – Liverpool Echo. “Cllr Percy said: “From speaking to residents and seeing the brilliant work done by the Friends of Bromborough Library, it was clear that more time was needed. I requested officers reopen the community asset transfer window to let interested groups get their bid in. “Together with the council leader, Cllr Janette Williamson, I have offered to work with residents to put together a robust bid. I am confident that we can keep this cherished community hub open, and in the hands of the people who use it most.””
    • Heswall library reopening this week – Runcorn and Widnes World. “Heswall Library was a testing site right up until the requirement for testing was removed on April 1. Now it is set to resume as a community library from next week after improvements to the ventilation system have been put in place and a comprehensive programme of cleaning, repairs and renewals, which were part of the process to decommission it as a testing centre. Library staff have also been working flat out to reinstate shelving, update and restore book stocks and reinstall IT equipment.”