Looking out of my window, there’s snow on the ground, and I notice the weather forecast says there’s going to be minus figure temperatures for the next week, so it’s no surprise that Warm Libraries continues to be a major theme in the news. It’s interesting to see how different library services are approaching things, with my salutes this week going to Libraries Unlimited who got funding for increased opening hours, Norfolk for offering bags of clothes and other materials, and South Lanarkshire going full-surreal with its welly swaps. Elsewhere, there are two moves of libraries, including a big one at Huddersfield. And there’s background noise about forthcoming cuts to council budgets and library services. Well, it’s nearly Christmas I guess.


Changes by local authority

National news

  • Author Pamela Butchart on the cat who brought magic into her world – Herald. “My love of reading started in the Wellgate Library in Dundee. The library was a free and child-friendly space, so my mum took me there one day when we were out in town. And that’s where I found Mog. I loved the library as a wee one (and still do). I couldn’t believe I was allowed to take out not just one book but 10 books. I was so excited to go back every weekend and I didn’t have to worry about asking my mum for money because it was free. That’s why libraries are so essential – for many children it’s the only way they can access as many books as they would like. That’s the magic of libraries.”
  • British libraries under threat; the fight for funding – Impact. “There are things we can do to support our local libraries to try and prevent these closures. Penguin Books highlight examples on their website. We can become members, borrow books (this can even be online), donate, write to our local MP and use the space provided for work or reading. “
  • Designing libraries – DCMS. “To my mind, promoting strong, innovative and imaginative library design – and redesign – is key to it all. ACE has provided funding towards the first phase of DL’s redevelopment – a new content management system which will underpin further improvements. I am leading a small team taking the project forward.”
  • The Guardian view on local libraries: a resource that must be protected – Guardian. “The cost of living crisis has cast new light on their role as places not only to read and learn, but to keep warm. They cannot be allowed to dwindle” … ” Nearly one in four [chief librarians] think they will have to close local branches. In a report titled Reimagining Where We Live, the parliamentary committee of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport last month argued for increased central government support. It is vital that the government steps up. The cost of not doing so is unimaginable.”
  • Innovation Network Gathering 2023 – Libraries Connected. Birmingham, Thursday 2 March, £60. “This event brings public library staff together from across the UK to showcase their innovative work, create new connections and think collectively about how to improve their services to local communities. There will be a couple of external speakers and lots of presentations and sharing sessions from library services, making it a really interactive and informative day with lots of networking.”
  • Warm Banks in London: where can you find them? – BBC. Libraries have very frequent mentions. Same thing for Berkshire at Cost of living: Find warm spaces across Berkshire – BBC and Hampshire.
  • Why access to libraries and books are a human right for children – Herald. “Even in a forecast second tunnel of austerity, closing libraries or cutting school librarians shouldn’t be on the table. They are a symbolic place. They signal that we, as a society, believe in meritocracy. They show that we believe everyone can and does have the ability to read themselves to a better life. As Dr Seuss said: “The more you read, the more you will know. The more you learn, the more places you go.”
  • With local libraries, it’s quality that matters, not quantity – Guardian / Letters. “Your editorial (4 December) rightly identifies local libraries as an important community resource, but places too much emphasis on the number of branches and not on two central issues – accessibility and opening hours. There is little point in having a library that has no toilets, no facilities and which is inconvenient to reach. Nor is there much point in a building where the budget has to be cut back to such an extent that it is never open.” Brent prioritised library size over number.

International news

  • Ukraine – ‘Our mission is crucial’: meet the warrior librarians of Ukraine – Guardian. “When Russia invaded Ukraine, a key part of its strategy was to destroy historic libraries in order to eradicate the Ukrainians’ sense of identity. But Putin hadn’t counted on the unbreakable spirit of the country’s librarians” … “During this war, Ukrainian libraries now serve new roles. They operate as centres for displaced persons. They offer psychological counselling for traumatised populations. They provide space for art therapy. “Of course, we pay special attention to children,” Bruy says. The librarians even sew camouflage nets when they have the time.”
  • USA – Anti-LGBTQ+ Actor-Writer Kirk Cameron Shocked at Libraries’ Rejection – Advocate. “Fifty libraries from across the U.S. have either rejected or not responded to the former Growing Pains star’s offers to appear, his publisher, Brave Books, told Fox News. “Many of the same libraries that won’t give Cameron a slot, however, are actively offering ‘drag queen’ story hours or similar programs for kids and young people,” Fox News reports on its website.” … “, Cameron told Fox News, “This is proof that more than ever, we are getting destroyed in the battle for the hearts and minds of our children.” “Publicly funded libraries are green-lighting ‘gender marker and name change clinics’ while denying a story time that would involve the reading of a book that teaches biblical wisdom,” he went on. “How much more clear can it get?””

Local news by authority

  • Aberdeenshire – Final check out for Aberchirder library at its current location – Grampian Online. “The current library premises are open for just five hours per week to serve the local area and a planned move to refurbished space within the Primary School building will enable it to extend its offering. In the report to councillors is is explained that Live Life Aberdeenshire is expected to make savings of £210,000 in the libraries and museums service through expansion of click and collect (within libraries) at the expense of the Mobile Service, reduction in library buildings, replace existing systems with opensource products to provide access to a wide range of digital services and materials.”
  • Devon – Librarian Linda’s spreading the word – Dawlish Today. “The Newton Abbot mum loves books so much she’s set up a free reading library outside her home in Primrose Drive.”
    • Funding for extra opening hours for libraries – Libraries Unlimited. “The National Grid has awarded a £9,900 grant to Libraries Unlimited, the charity that runs the 54 libraries around Devon and Torbay. The money will mean extra staff time, heating and lighting in five libraries can be funded for between three and four more hours a week until the end of March. The funding is from the Community Matters Fund, provided by The National Grid and delivered in partnership with Localgiving.”
  • Dudley – Dudley library manager wins RNA librarian of the year award – Dudley News. “Most recently she worked with authors to provide talks for library users across the borough, which were really well attended and received.”. Romantic Novelist’s Association Industry Awards 2022: Winners Announced – Romantic Novelists Association. Librarian of the Year: Sharon Whitehouse, ​​Dudley Libraries, GLL.
Cheshire West and Chester – Warm Welcoming Spaces in Libraries is the focus of the corporate Christmas card