It’s Libraries Week so there’s a lot going on in libraries, although far less than there was a few years ago when it was started more as a protest against library cuts than a celebration of the sector. Those cuts may not be a thing of the past as talks from the Prime Minister suggests a willingness to consider cuts to the public sector in order to pay for tax cuts to business and the wealthy, but nothing is confirmed as yet. Finally on the subject of cuts, St Helens, which announced they were planning to close seven libraries, has backtracked perhaps only temporarily due to a backlash. Other councils meanwhile are utilising their libraries as warm spaces if people find it difficult to heat their homes. Finally, the culture war over gender still hasn’t blown over, with Hertfordshire being criticised for daring to have an alien as a pro-reading mascot. One activist criticised the decision that the alien should be described as “they/them” while the library service pointed out in return that it’s, well, an alien.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Culture Minister unveils new funding to support Scottish libraries – National. “Culture Minister Neil Gray unveiled the £450,000 funding package, as part of the 2022/23 Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF), on Wednesday while visiting Rutherglen Library.”
  • Dozens of libraries in England and Wales may become “warm banks” for people who need shelter. – Literary Hub. “There’s no shortage of reasons to love libraries, and here’s another: a new survey from the UK shows a significant number of them are planning to serve as “warm banks” this winter for people who need to take shelter from the cold.” … “Libraries shouldn’t have to do this. (Who am I to say all this? Just someone who loves the library.) Still, when they do—and they inevitably will, because these problems aren’t going anywhere anytime soon—they deserve what we all do: the time, financial resources, and supportive climate to do their excellent work, serving everyone who walks through the door.”
  • Libraries to offer shelter to the vulnerable during UK’s cost of living crisis – Guardian. “Libraries in England and Wales are responding to the cost of living crisis by abolishing daily late fees for books and getting ready to become “warm banks” to help the vulnerable this winter.”
  • Libraries – working in partnership with heritage and archives – Libraries Connected. Webinar, 6 October, 2pm. “A webinar that will explore how heritage and archives can deliver against all the universal offers and support the work of libraries beyond culture and creativity.”
  • Little Wartime Library – CILIP PMLG. Free “with Kate Thompson author of The Little Wartime Library. The event will be a pre-recorded zoom interview with Kate featuring illustrations, chat and soundbites, with 15 minutes for a live Q&A .”
  • Please Miss, there’s an elephant in the Library – CILIP ILIG. Zoom, 26 October. Sri Lankan librarian explains what she did when an elephant walked into the library. “She explains how she overcame prejudice and obtained funding for the School in the Sky. “
  • Reading Friends impact overview 2021-22 – Reading Friends. “Read about the difference Reading Friends has made, working with public libraries in 2021-22. This is an overview ahead of the full impact report.”

International news

  • Australia – Pop-Up Libraries Are Helping Melbourne Move on From Lockdowns – Bloomberg UK. “Small pop-up libraries have taken over abandoned shops in areas that were aching for some love following the crippling impact of six lockdowns over 19 months. Where a mens’ retailer once stood in the boutique clothing and cafe mecca of Little Collins Street, changing rooms have been transformed into cozy mirrored reading booths.” … “While the success of the library project — about 40,000 people have visited them since the program’s launch at the end of last year — isn’t solely enough to revive the center, the council is betting that it’s a sign of a comeback.”
  • Canada – Libraries play important role in promoting democracy – Toronto Star. “Another important part of a healthy democracy is access to unbiased information to help people engage and make informed decisions. Toronto Public Library, like public libraries everywhere, continues to support a vibrant democracy by supporting civic engagement and providing access to information.”
  • Canada/USA – Aging in (Third) Place with Public Libraries – Public Libraries (PDF). “We are excited by the
    possibilities a movement from library as third place to library as social infrastructure facilitates”
  • Ireland – Fingal reactivates libraries’ Twitter account after Green Party complaint – Sunday Times. “The council temporarily suspended the account last Wednesday after a councillor complained it was following prominent people with known gender-critical views. The account was following the bestselling author JK Rowling, the barrister Allison Bailey, Maya Forstater, a British business and international development researcher and Genspect, an international alliance seeking care for gender-distressed young people, which says it has concerns about the “gender affirmative” approach.”
  • USA – The strain of censorship on public libraries – 1A. “What future do public libraries and library workers have in this climate of unprecedented censorship? And what role do larger, out-of-state libraries play in combatting it?”

Local news by authority

  • Blackburn With Darwen – Children’s festival, in aim of improving UK’s literacy levels, is back for 2022 – Yahoo News. “The festival director, and founder and patron of Blackburn with Darwen Libraries said: “We are all so excited about meeting the children ‘in person’ once again. “We ran a complete virtual festival in 2020 which was a great success, reaching over 3000 children and families but nothing can replace the interaction of meeting in person.”
  • Bracknell Forest – Borrow a tablet from your local library – Bracknell Forest Council. “Bracknell Forest Libraries are introducing a tablet loan scheme to boost digital inclusion in the borough.”
  • Bradford – Getting creative to transform Keighley Library – Keighley News. Arts Council England funded project. “”Keighley Library is one of the pilots for our new service model which sees us tailoring each library to the needs of the communities served. We have been working closely with the communities of Keighley to find out what they really want to be happening, both creatively and culturally, in their library.”
  • Brighton and Hove – Lots on offer for Libraries Week – Brighton and Hove Council. Stencilling, webinar on OED, and various other events.
  • Buckinghamshire –  ‘Dismayed at proposed library cuts’ – Bucks Free Press / Letters. “Last week I saw a notice informing the public that the authorities propose removing all hard copies of all the magazines and newspapers from all the libraries. Yes, that means all hard copies of your paper The Bucks Free Press will be cancelled too.  I thought you and your readers would like to know.”
  • Cheshire West and Chester – Cheshire West libraries to become ‘Warm Hubs’ as crisis worsens – The Standard. “”Libraries have always provided a safe space and warm welcome to our communities. We know how much people are already struggling with rising prices across the board, and this network of warm hubs is just a part of our response.”
    • ‘Significant’ renovation needed to save treasured Cheshire library – Cheshire Live. “Structural investigations are being carried out at the premises with more in-depth inspections to take place in the coming weeks. New scaffolding will be put up to stabilise the building in preparation for a full refurbishment of the building. Cheshire West and Chester Council is working to identify a temporary home for library services and events. A decision on the location will be made in October.”
  • Derby – Normanton library celebrates with a week of events – Derby Council. “Normanton library is holding a series of events to celebrate its diverse offering and service beyond books.”
  • Devon – Libraries open their doors to support local residents this winter – Devon Council. “Libraries across Devon and Torbay will provide warm welcoming spaces, where people are welcome to join and spend time in the library, and to use the free WiFi and computers if they wish to. There are many free events and groups that people can attend, and some libraries will be hosting sessions providing help and advice about energy efficiency, debt advice and other topical subjects.”
    • Pop up library on Exeter High Street – Exeter Council. “The former GAP store has been transformed into an art studio in which local sculptor James Lake is creating a life-size cardboard tree. The piece will take around six weeks to finish – from Tuesday 20 September to Monday 30 October – and will eventually be installed in Barnstaple Library. While the sculpture is being created, the shop has become an interactive public space, and passers-by are being invited to watch James at work and take part in a variety of drop-in workshops and exhibitions. There is also a pop-up high street library for people to sign up to the library, browse and borrow books.”
  • Dorset – Future of Dorset’s libraries up for discussion again – BBC News. “Dorset Council is seeking opinions from users following its first review into libraries earlier in the year. That received more than 7,500 responses and found support for libraries to become “family hubs” – places of work or somewhere to seek advice – as well as a venue to borrow books. The latest consultation runs until 22 December.”
    • Dorset libraries cut emissions to save £40,000 a year – Dorset Echo. “The measures – that range from highly efficient LED lighting to advanced building management systems – form part of the council’s response to the climate and ecological emergency and are expected to save over £40,000 a year in electricity and gas costs and reduce annual energy use by more than 275,000 kilo-watt hours (which is over a quarter of the energy used last year across all 15 sites).”
  • East Renfrewshire – East Renfrewshire libraries host Halloween costumes and welly swaps – Barrhead News. “East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure libraries will be hosting two “swaps”, one for wellies and one for Halloween costumes, as part of The Root Cause project which launched earlier this year.”
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Sheffield – Lord Mayor launches Big Read in partnership with Sheffield Libraries