Looks like a good week for public libraries with one service going fines-free, another opening, plus an increase in opening hours in a third. Oh, and we had a new libraries minister. Doesn’t really matter the name. He or she is unlikely to do anything but occasionally photograph themselves in a library and, if they’re lucky, he or she may do a talk (likely recorded) at the next Libraries Connected conference. He or she may be perfectly nice to meet socially but they will do very limited things, or nothing, for the sector other than to say how great it is, even if it faces huge reductions in funding. But oddly, I miss Ed Vaizey. Remember him? He was the libraries minister for around two hundred years back in the 2010s, back when cuts were really cuts. Not like the soft fly-by-night ministers these days. Oh yes, you could really develop a personal dislike for a libraries minister back in the old days.

Changes by local authority

National news

  • Autism Friendly Libraries training – Dimensions, Libraries Connected and Ascel. 25 November, 10am, online. “understand how to make your library autism friendly and share your questions with our expert panel.”
  • Dear Libraries Minister… – Nick Poole. Lists what new minister needs to know: UK libraries are world-class libraries, have a young and diverse audience, are a perfect platform for local participation and wellbeing, digitalised, help businesses, have books.

“Our biggest challenge is that after more than a decade of reductions in Local Government spending, we are seeing the emergence of a two-tier library service in which richer areas are maintaining or developing their libraries where less well-funded areas cannot.”

Nick Poole, CILIP
  • Green Libraries Wales Small Grant Fund 2022 – CILIP. “The Green Libraries Wales Small Grant Fund will support small-scale exploratory programmes, activities and knowledge-sharing within libraries in Wales seeking to improve overall understanding and take actions to demonstrate Environmental Responsibility. CILIP Cymru Wales, via its Kathleen Cooks Fund is offering a £5,000 grant fund for library services in Wales to support environmental activity in libraries. “
  • In a bind- UK libraries as contested spaces of crime, care, and culture – University of Southampton. Survey. “aims to fill a research gap in this area only previously documented outside the UK and will address research questions on incidence and nature of disorder, involvement of public libraries in assisting with social needs and retaining library users.”
  • The Librarians’ Virtual Toolkit 2022: Back Together with Readers – West Midland Readers Network. 10 November 2pm, online. ” Here we discuss a variety of reader engagement projects, sharing ideas and examples to provide practical advice and to inspire. We look at different reading group models, from the traditional to working with those living with dementia, and the support of Read Aloud groups. We’ll discuss marketing direct to readers via a variety of interesting and creative routes. We’ll also be premiering a film that focuses on titles by disabled writers and reaching readers.”
  • Libraries Connected Strategic Plan Launch – Libraries Connected. 3 November, 2pm, online. ” We’ll outline our action themes for the coming years, highlight some key projects and share our vision for the future of public libraries. “
  • Moves to improve library data reliability after CIPFA survey receives responses from just 60% – BookSeller. CIPFA estimated overall figures due to two-fifths of library services not responding to its requests. CILIP says “The problem with CIPFA is that the data provided by libraries is not openly available for everyone to re-use, which means that it is of limited value – even to library services themselves. In recent years, we have seen CIPFA publish analyses of this data that do not reflect the experience or understanding of the library profession, but we can’t challenge or contextualise it because we can’t access the data.” “
  • Sean McNamara: ‘We need our public libraries now more than ever’ – Yahoo News. “How does a society truly “level up”? A good place to start is by ensuring its communities can access services they not only want but often rely on, like the network of more than 500 public libraries across Scotland and the many brilliant school libraries with wonderful, skilled staff supporting them.”
  • StoryTrails, the UK’s largest immersive storytelling project, drives library visits to pre-pandemic levels – Reading Agency. “The libraries StoryTrails visited this summer have reported exceptionally high footfall, with many authorities experiencing visitor numbers not seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the high percentage of new visitors reported during the two-day event, 67% of people said they thought they were now more likely to visit the library as a result of experiencing StoryTrails. The public will have ongoing access to StoryTrails and can continue to experience the technology used in the project.”

International news

  • Finland – Helsinki’s most stunning libraries – My Helsinki. “Helsinki has nearly 40 public libraries and numerous scholarly libraries. These safe havens of civilisation offer food for the soul also for architecture and history enthusiasts. Here we present our six most beautiful libraries.”
  • USA – Book challenges surge as public libraries become latest political battleground – Grand Rapids. ““There have been censorship issues forever. We’re not surprised; It’s not something new,” Mikula said. “It’s just the volume of these attempted efforts and the extremist rhetoric that’s going with them is unprecedented to us. We have never seen this many books challenged, and I think that that’s something that we really have to look at.””
    • It’s About (Danged) Time: Lizzo at the Library – Library of Congress. ” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden saw that the one and only Lizzo was coming to D.C. for a concert. The pop megastar is a classically trained flutist. The Library has the world’s largest flute collection. Taking to Twitter, the Librarian played matchmaker, tagging Lizzo in a tweet about the world-class flutes. “Like your song,” she tweeted, “they are ‘Good as hell.’ ” One of about 1,700 flutes in the collection, she teased, is the crystal flute made for President James Madison by Claude Laurent — a priceless instrument that Dolley Madison rescued from the White House in April 1814 as the British entered Washington, DC during the War of 1812.. Might she want to drop by and play a few bars?”

Local news by authority

  • Camden – Libraries and other services may have to be fought for again – Camden New Journal. “At Primrose Hill, fundraising drives have helped pay for a professional librarian and hundreds of thousands of pounds of pledges have been secured from supporters to keep it going. The library is now open longer hours than it was before.” … “More local authority cuts will be coming down the line if Liz Truss’s economic pork pie fails to grow as planned. Whatever Kwasi Kwarteng says now, how else are they going to pay for all these tax cuts?”
  • CardiffWarm spaces to be created in Cardiff libraries and hubs to help people struggling to pay heating bills – Wales Online. “for a free hot drink and to take advantage of the heating without having to worry about the cost of switching it on at home. The warm spaces will also serve as a chance to have a chat with staff about the other support services the hub can provide. “
  • Denbighshire – Fines become a thing of the past at Denbighshire’s libraries – Rhyl Journal. “Getting rid of our fines system is definitely the way forward. “It’s an old and dated system and is perceived as being a significant barrier to library use. “This has an impact on people being able to access free resources and facilities to support their literacy, learning, skills and wellbeing. Now that services have returned to normality following COVID, it’s given us a great opportunity to rebuild the physical in-person library offer and encourage people to visit and use their local library and its wide range of services. Fines are very much a thing of the past and people can return books without any fear or worry, especially in the current climate around costs of living.”
  • Devon – Come in from the cold in our county libraries – Teignmouth Today. “Some will host sessions with advice about energy efficiency, debt advice and other topics”
  • Leeds – Leeds school boy raises money to buy new books for the local library he loves – Leeds Council. ““When the library closed during the lockdown, I was upset but I knew that it would open again, so I had the idea to raise money to buy some new books for other children to enjoy. I raised £150 by reading my favourite books online in return for donations, and Leeds Libraries doubled this. I got to choose all the new books, and I picked the sorts of books that my classmates would enjoy, such as Roald Dahl, Harry Potter and Horrible Histories.””
  • Lincolnshire Popular Lincolnshire library extends opening hours – GLL (press release). Opening hours extended by 4 hours per week (now 25 hours in total) due to staffing reorganisation.
  • Manchester – Manchester libraries: Children’s card design winners revealed – BBC. “Winners Harshavardhan, Man and Diyar came through from 500 entries and will see their designs on library cards.”
  • North Somerset – Revamped Clevedon Library opening “cause for celebration” – North Somerset Council. “Clevedon Library will reopen next week, 30 years after its original opening, following a 16-week temporary closure to allow refurbishment to take place. ” … “Extended access allows customers to browse, borrow books and use the computers from 8am to 8pm every day of the week, when there are no staff on site. “. Funding was from Libraries Improvement Fund: new meeting room, self-service, toilets.
  • North Yorkshire – Chance to win iPad with North Yorkshire libraries – Gazette and Herald. “During October, all eBook borrowers will be entered into a prize draw to win an iPad, donated by the eBook supplier, BorrowBox. This giveaway will coincide with Get Online Week – a show case of the digital offering at NYCC libraries running from October 17 to 23.”
  • Nottingham – Nottingham council apologises to Julie Bindel for unlawfully cancelling talk – Guardian. “A city council has apologised to veteran feminist and lesbian activist Julie Bindel after cancelling a talk because of “the speaker’s views on transgender rights”.” at library. “The council has now said the decision to cancel the talk was unlawful and has agreed to make a payment to the author, to Nottingham Women for Change and to ticket holders in respect of their “reasonable losses” due to the cancellation of the event.”
  • St Helens – Campaigners hope library can stay open after council U-turn – St Helens Star. “The council says it took legal advice after the request to challenge the decision was made. The Star understands that Michael Imperato, of Watkins & Gunn, had made the challenge after being instructed by campaigners. This was due to a view that the decision made by the council in July was challengeable and that a proper assessment had not been made on the impact of individual library closures on individual communities and vulnerable groups.”
  • SheffieldLibraries closing, jobs lost and bins collected once a month – ‘Doomsday’ money troubles could leave Sheffield with major cuts – Yorkshire Live. “Sheffield City Council is facing a potential ‘Doomsday scenario’ as vital services are set to be hit by a predicted £18 million in cuts, says a leading councillor. Options being looked at include monthly bin collections, closing waste recycling centres, closing more libraries or asking volunteers to take over, moving staff out of Moorfoot to cheaper offices or even making redundancies.”
  • Shropshire – Shropshire Local Mobile service to move indoors over winter – Whitchurch Herald. “Shropshire Local aims to help those in more rural areas, where access to some services and support from the council can be more difficult for some people. Although the service hits the open road in the summer months, it has returned to town libraries this week with dates now confirmed until the end of the year.”
  • Shropshire libraries buck trend to celebrate rise in visitors – Shropshire Star. ” people in Shropshire are turning out for their libraries, having increased their library visits by 60 per cent since this time last year.” … “”In terms of overall visitor numbers we’re not quite back to where we were pre-Covid but we’re heading strongly in the right direction.”
  • Staffordshire – Campaign launches to help people with cost of living pressures – Staffordshire Council. “Staffordshire libraries have also teamed up with Morrison’s supermarket  and Lakeland Dairies in a project to offer people a free hot drink when they visit the library.  As well as serving the hot brews, staff and volunteers at Perton, Burton, Leek, Newcastle, Stafford, Lichfield and Cannock libraries will be taking the opportunity to let people know about the range of services, activities and support available in their library.” … “The Pre-Loved School Uniform Market is another project run by the libraries service that is helping families with school age children.  The project, available in Cannock and Stafford allows families to pick up items of school clothing to help support them with their children’s school uniform needs. The markets stocks school trousers, skirts, shirts, ties and branded school sweatshirts for all ages.  People can find out more at their local library.”