The Summer Reading Challenge for children, this year themed as “Gadgeteers”, is officially launching in England on Saturday 9 July. It’s by far the biggest promotion that public libraries put on each year and has the highest profile in the public mind. Ask most parents, at least in my limited and biased experience, and they’re likely to know about it. Primary schools too. And this is especially key for the sector this year, as both parents and schools are intensely aware that their children may be a bit behind in reading due to lockdowns. So libraries are pushing, hopefully, at an open door this year. Which is good because this therefore represents the biggest and best opportunity have had so far to get adults and childrens back to visiting them. Best of luck then to you all in organising getting as many people as possible into libraries in July and August. There are already articles appearing about it a month before the event so things are looking good and I’ll certainly be covering it more in future posts. Between doing school assemblies that is.

Changes by Local Authority

National news

  • 2022 Marketing Excellence Awards – CILIP. “The awards offer national exposure for your project and communicate the value of what you’re doing among funders, partners, media, peers, managers and customers. You’ve done the hard work, delivering your project. Now win some extra recognition”
  • Books, books, books: An obsessive-compulsive tour of England’s libraries – Times Literary Supplement. “Among the duties he imposes on himself is to make sense of “who, library-wise, runs what”. “We’re Southend”, he’s told when trying to log on using his Essex county council card. Southend is in Essex, but, owing to a pettifogging quirk of local government that he never manages to fathom, its library is municipally independent.” … “In 2009, 68 per cent of all books published sold an average of eighteen copies each. It is to be hoped that An English Library Journey – eccentric homage and passionate clarion call – does better than that.”. Amazon page.
CILIP Library Conference [I’ll be doing a short talk on intellectual freedom in public libraries and will be there both days if you want to say hi. – Ed.]
  • Fantastic for Families Awards 2022: Applications now open – Family Arts. Need to submit before 22 June.
  • Instrument Libraries – call for donations of money and instruments – Edinburgh Reporter. Several public libraries involved. “Each library is paired with a local music project or the local authority’s instrumental music service, and all of the libraries are keen to build links with other local music groups, schools, community projects and venues. The project has just launched a crowdfunding campaign, with a call-out for donations of both money and musical instruments,to help fill the libraries with as many musical instruments and learning resources as possible.”
  • A library alt text bot – Library Data Blog. “There is a significant amount of current bad practice. It’s common to see library services tweet out posters, with key information only in image format, publishing these on social media without any corresponding text. In many cases this is the only place the information is published. To someone using a screen reader all they know is that their library has shared an image. It could be a funny photo of a cat that’s squashed itself into a box, or it could be a notification that the library is closed that day. So, I created the library alt text bot.” … “Many have decided to block the bot and continue to tweet content that isn’t accessible.”
  • Libraries Connected announces Peer Mentoring Scheme – Libraries Connected.
  • Libraries Connected calls for increased support for library services amid cost-of-living crisis – Libraries Connected. “Libraries Connected is urging the Government not to “take libraries for granted” as they cope with increased demand resulting from the cost-of-living crisis. A recent survey of 32 heads of library services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland conducted by Libraries Connected revealed that over 80% expect an increase in people using libraries to keep warm next winter. This has the potential to place extra pressure on library staff.” Report here (PDF).
  • The Library of Things: coming to a town near you – Positive News. “Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, the model will now be expanded from the existing seven neighbourhoods to 50 across England.”
  • Murdering the competition: Richard Osman thriller tops UK library loans – Guardian. “Following Osman’s novel, the second most borrowed book was Blue Moon, from Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. Other crime and thriller books in the top 10 were The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, Find Them Dead by Peter James and The Sentinel, also by Child.” … “Rowling dominated the list of most borrowed children’s titles, with all seven Harry Potter books coming out on top.The three remaining slots in the children’s top 10 were taken by David Walliams”

“The figures cover a period in which a lot of libraries had to close for periods of time because of the pandemic. Tom Holland, author and chair of the PLR advisory committee said that“to have kept the show on the road during a time of pandemic, and ensured that authors will continue to be paid for library loans, despite the very worst that Covid could do, has been nothing less than heroic”.”

International news

Ireland: national public library consultation
  • Ireland – Hefty eBook fees causing crisis for library budgets – Irish Examiner. “Scandalous” high eBook prices from English-language “Big Five” publishers.
  • Turkey – In Turkey, book publishers face agonising choices to survive – Al Jazeera. Inflation and high cost or print greatly reducing range of new Turkish books.
  • USA – Quitting Time – American Libraries. “The pandemic is exacerbating attrition among library workers” … “Common reasons for resignations include burnout, frustration, low pay, and low morale. Those factors are notably pervasive in the library world”
    • Conservative parents take aim at library apps meant to expand access to books – NBC News. “Campaigns that started with criticizing school board members and librarians have turned their attention to tech companies such as OverDrive and Epic, which operated for years without drawing much controversy.”
    • The Mind Behind Maus Speaks Out – I Love Libraries. “Art Spiegelman’s life was changed by libraries. The author and artist of graphic novel Maus spoke with American Libraries in their June 2022 issue about the importance of libraries in his life growing up and shared his thoughts on the increase in book challenges and bans occurring across the US—including those involving Maus. Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic novel details his father’s experiences during the Holocaust, with Jewish characters depicted as mice and Nazis as cats. Maus has been the subject of multiple challenges and bans since its publication in 1991—most recently in January when the board of McMinn County (Tenn.) School District removed the title from its 8th-grade curriculum for depictions of nudity and adult language.”
    • Mobile library Street Books feeds literary passions of Portlanders living outdoors – OPB. “Near a street corner in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood, street librarian Diana Rempe has set up a cargo bike with a shelf display and a massive wooden box emblazoned with “Street Books”.”
    • Report: “Comics Librarians Are Up for the Fight” – Infodocket. “Graphic novels are easy targets for challenges, because “there are panels that are easy to pull out and throw around on social media and take out of context”
    • We need to have a talk about “censorship” – Pure Unhinged Ideology. Librarian argues against neutrality: “Applying this inclusion of “all views,” as hoopla insists they do, means you get books in their collection on Holocaust denialism (Debating the Holocaust), COVID denialism (Fight COVID with Melatonin), conversion therapy (Attack on the Family), and defenses of the alt-right in their own words (A Fair Hearing).” … “librarianship has got to have a reckoning about this whole censorship/intellectual freedom/neutrality debacle.”.

Local news by authority

  • North Yorkshire – Recycling small electricals can make a big difference – North Yorkshire County Council. “20 libraries across the county will temporarily be collecting small electrical items until July 8. Participating libraries will also be giving away tubs to store used batteries, which will be available while stocks last.”
    • Library visits remain low following pandemic – Craven Herald. “library visits in the year to April were at about 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, book issues had returned to about 85 per cent of the number being borrowed before March 2020.” … “although the county’s “almost unique model” of largely volunteer-run libraries had only reopened partially following lockdowns last year, it still attracted more than a million visits last year and saw nearly 1.5 million books issued.”
    • Volunteers sought to help young readers connect with science – North Yorkshire County Council. Summer Reading Challenge: ““Taking part as a volunteer is always rewarding and I look forward to it every year. It feels amazing being able to share my love for reading with the children.””
  • Nottingham – ‘Enormous shame’ as more flats could be created on former Nottingham library site – Nottinghamshire Live. Carlton Road Library closed in 2011. One member of public says “I just think it would be a real shame. A library closes down and it’s for the public. I just think it’s an enormous shame. Libraries are for everyone. I think it would be an enormous shame – we have enough flats.” but others say flats are needed.
  • Shetlands – Library stats best in the UK per head of population – Shetland News. Due to swift recovery after lockdowns. “… during lockdown there was a “huge uptake” in electronic services. We also changed to home deliveries […] of media in print, and that was really appreciated by lots of families as well”

“There can be no levelling up in the UK until there is a restoration of funding for the public services on which we all rely. Conservative Governments since 2010 have decimated funding to local authorities. Central Government funding for Wirral Council dropped 85% between 2010 and 2020. The impact on our communities is devastating. As a result, in Wirral West the future of libraries in Hoylake, Irby, Pensby and Woodchurch is uncertain, as is the future of Woodchurch leisure centre and swimming pool. Far from levelling up, the loss of those facilities means the running down and impoverishment of the lives of everyone who relies on the services. How short-sighted of the Government to ignore the importance of libraries, pools and leisure centres.”

Margaret Greenwood MP, Wirral West
  • Worcestershire – Bromsgrove library helps Ukrainian guests connect in the community – Bromsgrove Advertiser. “The library along with Pershore, Malvern, Kidderminster and The Hive is hosting Ukraine Connections sessions for Ukrainian visitors and their host families living in the area.” … ““Host families are encouraged to bring their Ukrainian guests to their local library, so they can see for themselves the role public libraries in the UK play.””