A truly scary newspaper article from the Guardian points out that without major Government funding, there’s going to be some very serious cuts to local council funding and libraries may be one of the services that bear the brunt. Yay. Been here before. This time around though it’s not austerity but rather inflation and the subsequent necessary wage increases, which haven’t been budgeted for. But don’t worry, the Government is arguing that inflation doesn’t affect a lot of council business (which parts exactly?) and of course if wages are not increased then inflation will go slower. So, that’s OK then.

Faced with potential news like that, it’s good to see that the Libraries Connected conference went really well last week, with lots of sharing of ideas and positive and productive talks about the impact of libraries. And the discovery that Lord Parkinson, who is the Libraries Minister, not only knows his own library card number but is also willing to be used as a library champion. That’s as long of course as he gets robust library data of course. Oho …

National news

  • Fermeture en masse des bibliothèques britanniques : quel bilan ? – ABF. Summary of French library conference panel talk on the closure of English public libraries. In French.
  • How Local Libraries Help Welcome Refugees – Book Riot. “while many libraries have stepped into the role of supporting refugees, there is always more work that can be done. Vincent’s CILIP article gives suggestions on ways that libraries can become more accommodating of and welcoming to refugees and asylum seekers, including consulting with these users and the local organisations that support them to ensure that all their needs are met, and promote the library’s role as a centre for information provision, language learning, and community support.”
  • Libraries Connected welcomes Ayub Khan MBE as new President – Libraries Connected. “As the first Black President of Libraries Connected, Ayub has vowed to use his platform to encourage more people from diverse backgrounds to pursue a career in libraries.”
  • Library fine survey: results and summary report revealed – Libraries Connected. “In March 2022 we surveyed our members and had 61 responses”. 16 of the 61 told us they had removed library fines, 15 more considering it. “40% of libraries that had removed library fines had seen an increase in adults using the library, 30% had seen an increase in families and people from disadvantaged areas, and 20% had seen an increase in 5 – 16-year-olds.”. Response from those not considering going fines-fress is income-related and fears books will not be returned.
  • Making Music publishes proposal to save UK music libraries – Classical Music. “The public library network, which has so far been the largest and most cost-effective provider of sheet music to music groups, has been impacted by local authority budget cuts. A lack of investment in developments towards financial sustainability has placed the future of this resource in peril.” … “Local music library services under threat can email info@makingmusic.org.uk for support from Making Music and its partners.”
  • Reading the Planet: Libraries in a Changing Climate – Youth Libraries Group. 16 to 18 September Conference in Sheffield. “We will be offering a virtual programme for those who cannot travel or who cannot afford the full conference. Those who sign up for the live conference will be able to access the virtual sessions for free.”
  • Re-engaging Library Customers – LIEM Training. Webinar, 30 June, charged. “Even before COVID libraries faced the dual problem of reduced funding, but also, more worryingly, reduced usage. Our readers are getting older, using online sources of information or using their time in other ways. This has lead to a decline in the use, and possibly relevance, of libraries.”
  • Schools and libraries face huge cuts after soaring costs create £1.7bn shortfall – Guardian. “School-building projects, swimming pools and libraries have been earmarked for emergency funding cuts because town halls have been hit by an unexpected £1.7bn hole in their budgets, the Guardian can reveal. Rampant inflation and soaring energy bills mean that council leaders have been forced to rip up financial plans from a few months ago” … “The deterioration in the financial outlook is rapid and unexpected. In January, when 2022-23 budgets were agreed, councils were typically factoring in average pay and inflation costs of about 3%. However, inflation is currently 9%, with the Bank of England predicting it to hit 11% by October.”

International news

  • USA – Group of men disrupt Drag Queen Story Hour at California library – NBC News. Group of aggressive eight far-rightwingers (possibly “Proud Boys”) scream about paedophilia and terrify children. Event took place with windows covered after the men were removed. Library says nothing will stop them from celebrating Pride Month.
    • 5 ways public libraries are being used to fight food insecurity – Shareable. “Free, safe, and accessible to all, community-led libraries serve as a both a resource hub (providing education and information) and an access point, delivering food and other goods directly to the groups that need it most. Here’s how: …”
    • Book bullies attempt to hide our diversity – Chicago Sun-Times. ““Any book with a cover showing a person of color on it gets covered up,” explained Ginny Wehrli-Hemmeter, director of events and marketing at Anderson’s, one of the largest independent bookstores in the Chicago area.” … ““They have a website, a social media presence,” Caldwell-Stone said. “It’s stunning to see they have this idea that public libraries are just for them, and they should take actions to sanitize the library from materials that reflect the lives of gay, queer or transgendered people. It’s a real effort to silence the voices of communities that are finally finding a place on the public stage in our society so that we can understand the experiences of others.””
    • Healthy Aging at the Library – EveryLibrary. “Aging can be lonely, whether you live alone, miss old friends, or want to get out of the house occasionally. Public libraries understand these needs and offer activities, live and virtual, to engage seniors and help make connections with others.”
    • Prince George’s County Memorial Library System Targeted by Anti-LGBTQIA+ Vandalism – Library Journal. “the word “Groomer” was spray-painted on exterior library walls” … “a school librarian at Northview Elementary in Bowie, MD. Sutherland confessed to the vandalism and is currently facing two counts of malicious destruction of property and multiple hate crimes” [I had to read this twice to make sure I had got it right – Ed.]

Local news by authority

  • Bolton – Bolton Town Centre Library to move to a temporary home from September – Bolton Council. “Bolton Council has secured the £23.9m Towns Fund and is investing in four key projects one of which is the upgrade of the library. An investment of £3 million has been secured for the work, the refurbishment will expand and upgrade the children’s area, improve social spaces and update the digital facilities in the main area with the addition of a mezzanine floor. A report proposing temporary relocation of Central Library will be considered by the Leader of the Council on 21 June.”
  • Calderdale – Halifax library staff rescue rare peregrine falcon chick – Halifax Courier. “Calderdale Libraries said: “With her coordinator’s help, and some towel support from the chefs at Trading Rooms in The Piece Hall, little Cilip was taken back up to the library roof where mama could keep an eye on him.””
  • Cheshire West and Chester – West Cheshire Museums sustainability festival begins in July – Standard. “There will also be a prize-giving for West Cheshire Libraries’ and West Cheshire Museums School Competition”
  • Cornwall – Redruth’s former library building unveiled at community event on Murdoch Day – Cornwall Council. “A new Redruth Former Library Community Interest Company has plans to breathe new life into the striking historic building after agreeing with Cornwall Council to take on a five-year lease.”
  • Coventry – More than a million library books read in Coventry’s City of Culture year – Arts Council England. “Launched by the Duchess of Cornwall and beginning in May 2021, One Million Reads Coventry (OMRC) was funded through Arts Council’s National Lottery Project Grants as part of the City of Culture programme and invited people to record everything they read over the year.”
  • Croydon – South Norwood doesn’t want to see ‘incredibly ugly’ library demolished – Sutton and Croydon Guardian. “It is two years since a brand new library in the area was built but the service still hasn’t moved from it’s 1970s building loved by many fans of its architecture. More than 1,700 people signed a petition to save the brutalist library last year. There were fears the library would never move into its new home as the building, from council-owned developer Brick by Brick was not up to scratch. The new site in Pump House, next to Norwood Junction Station, still hasn’t opened despite signs on the window reading: “New library coming soon, delivered by Brick by Brick on behalf of Croydon Council.””
  • Darlington – A first glimpse inside Darlington library during its £3.2m restoration – Darlington and Stockton Times. “The first artist’s impressions show how the £3.2m refurbishment is going to create light, airy rooms within the Gothic building full of comfortable workstations and collaborative areas.” … “In 2016, councillors voted to close the library and move its services into the Dolphin Centre to save £300,000-a-year, but the public outcry forced a rethink – and perhaps even a change in the political make-up of the council. A new Conservative-led administration was elected in 2019 and is now overseeing the library’s reshaping.”
  • Enfield – ‘Sensory space’ launches at Enfield Town Library – Enfield Dispatch. “The facility, created by Enfield Council’s library services team, employs the latest in sensory technology to provide “a safe, welcoming and stimulating environment” specifically designed to help both children and adults develop through sensory play. The space includes an interactive projected floor, activity panels, an infinity mirror, colour changing mood lights and a projector TV.”
  • Highlands – High Life Highland’s libraries to provide technological support for people living with type 2 diabetes – Highland Council. “The project is a partnership with NHS Highland, High Life Highland, Diabetes Scotland and AbilityNet to provide iPads, mobile internet connections, training and support for people at risk of diabetes and those newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.”
  • Nottingham – Landmark building wins major award – My Nottingham News. “The development of the new Broad Marsh Car Park, Bus Station and Central Library building has won a major construction industry award. The £50m project was winner of the Integration and Collaborative Working Award and came runner-up in the Building Project of the Year at the East Midlands Construction Excellence Awards.”
  • Nottinghamshire – We Talk to Entrepreneurs on Overcoming Business Fears at Notts Libraries’ BIPC Mansfield launch – Left Lion. “four shiny new Business and IP Centres at Beeston, Bulwell, Mansfield, and Sutton-in-Ashfield Libraries. Run by Inspire Libraries on behalf of the County Council, entrepreneurs and business owners can meet with BIPC Advisors to discuss their business and access online reports and resources which have a combined worth of over £5 million.”
  • Powys – Less than a fortnight left to join discussion on library hubs development – Brecon and Radnor Express. Survey in two parts: “Access to Services and Digital Exclusion Survey -will assess how easy or difficult it is for residents to access key services and information in Powys and how that might be improved by creating digital hubs in libraries where people can get support. Digital Hub Workspaces Survey – will gauge the interest in the development of workspaces within libraries aimed at people who might currently be working from home or those considering starting a small business.”
  • Tower Hamlets – The London Underground station that has the ‘weirdest entrance’ in the basement of an old library – MyLondon. “Aldgate East station must have the weirdest entrance anywhere on the network as it is actually entered through an opening in the ground floor of Whitechapel Library. It’s one of the oldest libraries in London, and can feel like you are walking down the steps into the lost basement of a gothic mansion – one which wouldn’t look out of place in any Scooby Doo cartoon.”
  • Warrington – Warrington Libraries’ first LitFest is a hit – Warrington Worldwide. “he week-long celebrations included the performance of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Neil Gore of Townsend Theatre Productions, at Padgate Library, which was sponsored by Torus and Unison. The Jubilee family fun day attracted 500 participants with sessions by Cheshire Fire and Rescue, Mulan Culture and The Warrington Signing Choir.”
  • Wirral – Why you will see more than 8,000 flowers on display – Liverpool Echo. “8,372 white paper flowers will go on display at Birkenhead Central Library. Each flower will represent one Muslim man or youth who was killed in a bid to raise awareness of the tragedy and spread a message of unity and tolerance throughout the region.”
    • Wirral Council cuts: Golf courses and libraries spared – BBC News. “Libraries will be retained at Birkenhead Central, West Kirby, Wallasey Central, and Bebington Central, with a further four smaller locations in Eastham, Moreton, Upton, and Heswall. Libraries earmarked for closure in Hoylake, Irby, Pensby, Prenton, Wallasey Village, Higher Bebington and Woodchurch will also move to the next stage of a community asset transfer.”
    • Wirral’s first covid testing site to reopen as a library – Liverpool Echo. “Heswall Library, on Telegraph Road, was the first indoor covid testing site to open in the Wirral. First opened in November 2020, it remained open throughout the pandemic until the government ended the requirement for testing on Friday, April 1 of this year, when it was closed. The building has now been decommissioned as a testing centre and will resume its original purpose, as a community library, next week, on Tuesday, June 21. The council said that library staff have been working “flat out” to restore the space to its past life.”
  • Worcestershire – New tech allows customers to visit county libraries after hours – Worcester News. “Libraries Unlocked membership is only available for those aged 16 and over however under 16s can visit during the new hours if accompanied by a member.”
  • Wrexham – Build your own fun with Lego Clubs at Wrexham libraries – The Leader. Library news update.