This editorial was going to be all about the CILIP Conference because I always find them interesting and it always fills me with new ideas. I’ll have to do it another day though because I need to write about something else.

Being called a groomer on Twitter does that to you.

Here’s the tweet that caused the trouble, on the left. You can see what I did wrong. I said “she” twice when I reported that the storyteller uses the “they/them” pronoun for her puppet. I was typing fast, tweeting at light-speed, and I’m an idiot so, have a laugh, and move on.

However, the tweet somehow got picked up by those who I have been coincidentally writing in editorials about for the last two posts. And there were a hundred or so less pleasant responses before I deleted the tweet. I’ve included a couple of examples. A couple of the less abusive examples to be honest. There were photographs.

And, remember, the non-jokey ones were all because of refusing to assign a puppet, which has no gender to begin with, a randomly assigned “he” or “she” pronoun.


So, a few takeaways from this. There are a lot of people who are very angry with anything transgender, which includes non-binary pronouns and (as related below and in previous posts) drag queens. Many of these people will go straight to the word “groomer” with no attempt at conversation. There were a few who actually were happy when I responded to them about why they thought that way. A promise to send links was made but none have been forthcoming so far. These explained that they expressed a worry that children will be confused by this and change gender after being indoctrinated into it. I’m not saying this is true. I’m just saying this is what is genuinely believed.

So what do librarians do when faced with this? Well, I suspect a lot will feel intimidated. It’d be unnatural not to be. And avoiding the problem is very easy: just don’t use pronouns and be careful about who one books into a library event. For those who wish to take a different course, it would be useful to have a statement or statements from national bodies – CILIP or Libraries Connected perhaps – that one can simply point to in order to explain why the decision was made. And not just to the complainer but to councillors too. Perhaps the draft policy on intellectual freedom from CILIP would be an excellent place to start. With backed up links and reasoned arguments and evidence. Because librarians are busy people and, because this is happening a lot, it would save a lot of time and angst. And, if those who are against this sort of thing are so well-organised then others should be as well.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Green Libraries Manifesto– working together for people and planet – CILIP. “The Green Libraries Manifesto is hosted by CILIP in partnership with Arts Council England, British Library, Libraries Connected and Julie’s Bicycle. This manifesto sets our common values and commitments to drive transformational change for our planet and communities.”
  • Joseph Coelho announced as 12th Children’s Laureate – Independent. “Performance poet, playwright and children’s author Joseph Coelho said he wants to “highlight and celebrate the power of poetry” after being announced as the new Children’s Laureate. Award-winning Coelho, 42, was presented with the Laureate medal by outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Dame Cressida Cowell” see also Joseph Coelho chosen as Britain’s new children’s laureate – Guardian. “Coelho’s third project is the Library Marathon, which follows a pre-pandemic target he set himself to join a library in every library authority in the country. By the time the pandemic hit, he had joined 140, and aims to join the remaining 70 during the next two years.”
  • “Major Boost for Voluntary Network of Community Managed Libraries” – Community Managed Libraries Peer Network. Full-time network manager appointed, plus two regional part-time managers shortly. “funded by the National Lottery as part of the “Growing Great Ideas “initiative, initially for 3 years.” [Source – email received]
This was happening at the same time as the tweets in my editorial
  • Drag queen storyteller for kids Aida H Dee receives violent threats after home address leaks – Pink News. “Aida, who is the founder of Drag Queen Story Hour UK, tells PinkNews that she’s been sent vile hate “day after day”, feeling like she’s been “stabbed from all directions”. But she says things escalated after someone shared her home address with a messaging group composed of thousands of right-wingers.  She says she’s now received horrific threats of violence against her if she doesn’t back down from her tour promoting diversity, acceptance and reading through kid-friendly storytelling events at libraries across the UK. “There’s a group of 31,400 people who know where I live,” she says. “People in this group, they’ve said they’re going to protest outside if this tour doesn’t get cancelled.”” … “she believed some people in the group “had been arrested for impersonating officers” while others had “gone to jail for stabbing people”.”

“It’s so unrelatable to them. They can’t grasp it, and these people sending me hate are just the validation I need to keep going.”

  • The Gadgeteers land in Welsh libraries to launch summer reading challenge – Nation Cymru. “The Welsh Government and the Books Council of Wales are working together to bring the Summer Reading Challenge to libraries and communities across Wales.”
  • The importance of libraries to women in town planning – Scotsman. “A Wise Woman spokesperson said they found in several Glaswegian communities there “were spaces for men but no spaces for women”. Gabrielle Macbeth, volunteer co-ordinator at Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL), said libraries can offer “so much” to improve women’s experiences in their communities.” … “Gabrielle said the library gives women “a place of solidarity” where it allows them to realise it is not their fault life is sometimes unfair but the product of a “hostile environment”.”
  • Single Digital Presence for public libraries – British Library. “The platform, which will be developed by the British Library, will allow libraries to share content and resources with audiences around the world, promote two-way traffic with local library websites, and give national visibility to local events and collections.”
  • Website survey – DCA/Koios. “a new survey for librarians designed to shed some light on how library websites are perceived and used. The survey includes questions on discoverability, purpose, and utility and asks how successful librarians think their websites are at supporting the library mission. The survey takes five minutes to complete and DCA will make a donation to Clear Voice Interpreting Services, a social enterprise that supports refugees and other people in need with free translation services, for every response received.” [Republished due to incorrect link in last post – Ed.]
  • Why libraries are a space of refuge for authors by Ania Bas – Female First. “I’ve used libraries extensively all my life and I am in awe of how such humble places mutate to accommodate my changing size, interests, behaviour and thinking.” … “When I was working on Odd Hours it was obvious that I had to make the library a place of refuge for Gosia. It’s a place that offers her access to knowledge, resources, people and Wi-Fi.”

International news

  • Global – Library Podcasting, Inspiration, And Sharing The Wealth – Princh. “And so it began, fulfilling what I had perceived as a hole in library podcasting. Never could I have dreamt this idea would have turned into a community of people that have benefited from our show. We have heard that even tiny morsels of information from our podcast have been developed into useful programs, social media, library services, and tech acquisitions that have enhanced patron/user experience. Library podcasting benefits all of us because the profession always supports collaboration and inspiration, these are the engines that help us innovate.”
  • New Zealand – NZ libraries declare amnesty on late fees – RNZ. “over 700 libraries around the world and 53 percent of NZ libraries now fine-free.”
  • USA – Libraries Are Becoming a Battleground for LGBTQ+ People – Vice. “Between armed Proud Boys, book bans, and online attacks, librarians are finding themselves at the center of a new assault against queer communities.” … “There’s been a swift escalation of LGBTQ-related attacks on libraries in recent months, turning typically quiet public spaces into political battlegrounds at a time of growing hostility against queer and trans people.” … “Librarians say they are increasingly facing online harassment from specific accounts being stalked and tagged as “groomers”—a catch-all phrase that has recently been adopted by far-right extremists to baselessly accuse LGBTQ+ people and their allies of pedophilia and child abuse.” see also Cops help masked Proud Boys terrorize kids at NC Pride event – Blade. ” deputies fist bumped the protestors and engaged in casual banter with them while they created a disturbance ” and From book bans to armed Proud Boys militia, US libraries bear the brunt of LGBT+ ‘culture war’ – Independent. “In an email to The Independent, children’s author Joanna McClintick said the people behind recent library protests wanted to erase LGBT+ people from all public spaces and were using “groomer” insults as a choice of weapon.” and With Rising Book Bans, Librarians Have Come Under Attack– New York Times.

“Emily Jones tells Star News that she took her 17-month-old daughter to the Pride event because she thought a library would be safe and peaceful. “I felt like this story time was really one of the safest places I could take my daughter for a Pride event. I just felt like it’s the library, it’s probably pretty low-risk.”

  • Telling the Library Story on TikTok – ALSC Blog. “, the possibilities are endless. You can start off by searching popular hashtags like #BookTok or #librariesoftiktok just to get you started.”

Local news by authority