I’m currently finishing off an article for a French library journal on the experience of English public libraries after lockdown. It’s surprisingly upbeat so hardly my usual style. But I do think that the sector has done far better than one could reasonably expect after being closed or semi-closed for basically two years. Being me of course, and the public library sector, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. There are signs, such as in Cardiff, that bad times may be here again shortly but, on the other hand, public opposition still seems very effective, as we can see in Bristol, Essex and Nottingham. So, who will win this year? Central government cuts or hyperlocal campaigning? That’s not as clear cut an answer as it seems. In this asymmetric warfare, experience suggests its often the guerrilla that has the advantage. Viva la Libraryistas.


Change by local authority

National news

  • £135m levelling-up funding goes to seven libraries but concern remains about long-term investment – Bookseller. “Successful bids include a combined library, music and arts venue in Harlow, a state-of-the-art leisure centre, library and cultural space in Farnborough, a creative workspace and redesign at Hackney Central Library, and a new modern library in Reading. More than £135m has been awarded to projects involving libraries. ” but concerns that long-term cuts in spending and budget worries in 2023 may negate gains.
“of all the self-defeating things we have done as a nation in recent years, closing the libraries that could help these children has been the worst.”

“Libraries have been levelling up for over 170 years so it seems natural that they should feature prominently on this list of successful projects.”

Isobel Hunter, Libraries Connected.
Up to three staff per library can nominate at Dagger in the Library nominations – The Crime Writers’ Association (thecwa.co.uk)
  • Osman, Haig and Rowling books among most popular digital titles borrowed from libraries via OverDrive – BookSeller. “According to OverDrive – which provides schools and libraries with access to e-books, audiobooks, digital newspapers and magazines – Osman e-books were the most popular last year, with The Man Who Died Twice and The Thursday Murder Club (both from Viking) coming in at first and second place. “
  • Scotland’s New £30,000 SLIC Fund Backs ‘Pioneering Library Projects’ – Publishing Perspectives. ” a broad base of strategic support from the BBC and BBC Scotland and the British Library to Carnegie UK and the Scottish Book Trust. The council was formed in 1991 and is not, in fact, a government organization. Instead, it’s an independent advisory body to the Scottish government. with membership both in the public sector and in educational institutions.”
  • Seminar and Forum – National Acquisitions Group. “Our call for papers is now open for both and closes on 3rd February 2023.  You do not need to be a NAG Member to present and all speakers receive a full free place and UK travel expenses.”
  • Video Marketing for Libraries: How to Create, Promote and Evaluate – CILIP. Friday 24 February, 10am to 1pm, Zoom. “Video is an increasingly essential tool to market library services and engage users, both on traditional platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, and on social media across Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. This hands-on workshop aims to familiarise delegates with several styles of video and give you a chance to try out a variety of useful tools.”

International news

Local news by authority

  • Nottingham – Three local libraries saved from closure – Nottingham Council. “The council’s Executive Board today (January 17) voted in favour of keeping all existing libraries open, but with some shortened opening times across the library network, and Aspley Library modified to create a stock distribution and outreach hub while retaining it as a publicly accessible library. Earlier plans involved among other things the closure of Basford, Radford/Lenton and Aspley libraries, with Aspley’s being turned into a distribution hub for the library service. However, some savings have already been achieved through a staffing restructure in the libraries service, meaning only £79,000 of savings were needed from the original £233,000. This, along with strong public feedback against the closure proposals and emerging factors such as their important role of libraries during the cost-of-living crisis and as warm hubs, has allowed the council to look again at how to achieve the necessary changes and savings.”
  • Pembrokeshire – Mobile library to visit Narberth while library remains shut – Western Telegraph. Maintenance needed. “Narberth Town Council, which leases the library building from Pembrokeshire County Council, hopes that the work will start shortly.”
  • Redcar and Cleveland – Councillors unhappy about proposed temporary library move – Yahoo News. “Redcar and Cleveland Council is proposing to move Redcar library from its current base in Kirkleatham Street to the Tuned In! building about half a mile away in Majuba Road near the seafront. A new facility is due to be created in Redcar High Street as part of the £25m Town Deal plans, but won’t be in place until 2025 at the earliest.”
  • Sheffield – Have your say on library opening times – Sheffield Council. “We have an opportunity to extend the opening hours of the Council run community hub libraries from 31 to 34 hours per week and in order to do this we need to standardise the opening times.  Therefore we are consulting with library users and non users to identify the impact of the proposed change to the opening days and times.”
    • No one is allowed to walk within 3 metres of Sheffield library – Examiner Live. “a temporary exclusion zone was put in place around the building in Arundel Gate, Surrey Street and Tudor Square. This three-metre zone will include footpath closures along the whole length of the building in Surrey Street. Protective canopies have also been put in place along the Graves Building’s entrances and exits so the public and members of staff can be safe when using the building.”
  • Sheffield Central Library forced to close this morning – Star. Power cut.
  • Shropshire – Shropshire libraries hosting friendly banking advice sessions – Shropshire Council. HSBC “hosting expert advice sessions to help people protect themselves from fraud, manage their money and learn about digital banking options.”
    • Libraries add another chapter to innovative prison project – Shropshire Council. “Three volunteer ‘human library books’ went to the prison to be ‘read’ by six selected prisoner representatives in a bid to open up frank conversations. Their subjects were health, sexuality, grief, and abuse.”
    • Ludlow library is hub for adult learning reading initiative – Ludlow Advertiser. “Books in the new Adult Reading Scheme Collection are graded, and the levels range from very basic to short novels and non-fiction, books for those with very limited literacy or who speak very little English, and titles for people with moderate literacy or dyslexia.”
  • Solihull – Library book amnesty – please bring your books back – Solihull Council. “Throughout January and February, Solihull libraries are holding an amnesty with anonymous drop-off points available at all libraries in the borough. This means customers won’t need to speak to a librarian, they can just  drop their overdue books into the library boxes. Returned items will then be logged back onto the system and replaced on the shelves for other library users to enjoy.”
  • South Gloucestershire – South Gloucestershire libraries named in top five in the UK for children’s reading challenge – South Gloucestershire Council. “Six thousand children aged between four and 11 took part in the 2022 challenge in South Gloucestershire, reading 100,000 books. This means almost 20 percent of all Primary age school children in the district took part.”
  • Southwark – C20 makes listing bid for Peckham Library – Twentieth Century Society. “Following concerns regarding an application for intrusive new rooftop plant equipment, C20 has submitted a listing application for the celebrated Peckham Library in Southwark, South London, recommending it be considered for Grade II* status. Designed by Alsop and Störmer, the library opened in 2000 and won the Stirling Prize for Architecture in the same year. It is widely considered one of the most important works of the late Will Alsop, who passed away in 2018, and a landmark millennial project.”
  • Staffordshire – Free creative workshops in selected Stafford libraries – Staffordshire Council. “The workshops will help people to explore what they love about where they live, taking inspiration from local heritage collections.  Workshops will also help boost people’s wellbeing through creative & social activity. “
  • Suffolk – Long Melford Library closed until further notice – Suffolk Libraries. “We were advised by the Royal British Legion over the weekend that they intend to close their building in Long Melford with immediate effect. We have not been given a reason for the closure.”
    • Ipswich Library to host menopause focus group – Suffolk Libraries. “The new programme is being launched after Suffolk Libraries received £170k of funding from the Department of Health and Social Care’s Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Health and Wellbeing Fund. The funding will enable Suffolk Libraries to launch a new project to provide support and advice for women who are experiencing the menopause and perimenopause.”
    • Join us for the Orwell Challenge and help raise funds for Suffolk Libraries – Suffolk Libraries. Request for Orwell Challenge walkers to raise money for library service.
    • Suffolk Libraries launch Paw-some Art Sculpture fundraising event – Suffolk Libraries. “PAWS-itivity will involve 45 dog sculptures featuring designs individually created by local artists in each of Suffolk’s libraries over the Summer of 2023.” … “The event aims to raise money to support Suffolk Libraries work at the heart of the community. It will also raise awareness of Suffolk Libraries as an independent charity”
Nottiinghamshire refurbishment