There is a joy to working in public libraries. I get a real up when I see a child jumping up and down in excitement because they’d found a book I remember ordering a month ago. Or when someone takes a book or two off a display that I put together. Or, the best of all, when someone thanks you or walks away obviously happy after I have answered their questions. Another satisfying thing is weeding a section of shelves because so much of my work is now on the computer, it’s great when an obvious physical difference is made. Planning and organising an event that gets sold out is pretty good too. Or planning for 13 months (yes, more than one year) for the Summer Reading Challenge and making sure lessons are learnt and there’s every chance it’ll be better for everyone than the year before. There is a real value to this which helps make up for other things which is just as well – in the words of Phil Bradley, no-one comes into this job for the money and the power.

National news

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, if she will make an assessment of the potential impact of the closing of the Libraries Taskforce in March 2020 on strategic planning for libraries.

Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

In September 2022, the Government appointed Baroness Sanderson of Welton as chairman of a new advisory panel to help develop a new strategy to make sure that public libraries are providing the best possible service for their communities. More detail can be found here. To date she has had numerous meetings with organisations with an interest in public libraries work, and has led two roundtable sessions …

Stuart Andrew Under Secretary DCMS
  • Library projects to receive share of £200k Scottish Government funding – Yahoo News. Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF) : “including an additional support needs training programme in Aberdeen and the creation of ‘Live Well Health’ information hubs across Glasgow. Other initiatives awarded grants aim to combat social isolation, bridge the digital divide, help close the attainment gap and mitigate the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.”

Based on this dataset, DCMS estimates that around 230 libraries have permanently closed in the period 1 April 2010 to 31 December 2021 and not been relocated or replaced.

Stuart Andrew, Under Secretary DCMS

Changes by local authority

International news

  • Netherlands – Innovations in Libraries: Impressions of a Study Trip to the Netherlands – ZBW Mediatalk. ” In the Netherlands, for example, it is taken for granted that they offer consultation hours for advice on e-government. The self-image as a Third Place is also already omnipresent there. Public libraries are perceived as the living rooms of cities and are used accordingly.” … ” Everyone can get involved on a voluntary basis. Events are often organised at request of visitors. This way, the librarians know that there is a real need for a topic and what their target groups are interested in.”

Local news by authority

  • Redbridge – Step into a story at Redbridge Libraries for National Storytelling Week – Redbridge Council. “Redbridge is also a founding member of the Libraries Consortium spanning 23 councils across London, Luton, Essex and Surrey, enabling Redbridge residents to take advantage of a further 8 million books and other items, and access to services and facilities from over 380 libraries across London and the south east.”
  • Suffolk – Book now for our big Online Book Festival – Suffolk Libraries. “The festival features online interviews with a number of top authors including Elly Griffiths, Jill Mansell, Sarah Pearse and more. The festival takes place between 6 and 12 March with a different author interviewed every day.”
  • Suffolk Libraries welcomes John Grose as first Paws-itivity sponsor – Suffolk Libraries. Motor dealer signs up.  “Suffolk Libraries biggest ever fundraising campaign which will see colourful dog sculptures in all of the county’s libraries this summer. The ‘Library Labradors’ will all feature designs individually created by local artists.”
  • Wirral – Cheers at council meeting as Wirral golf course is offered a lifeline – Standard. “Councillors also agreed to allow Pensby and Prenton libraries to be transferred into community hands while Higher Bebington, Wallasey Village, and Irby libraries moved to final negotiations of community transfer before coming back to committee.” … “Recommendations for Hoylake Library to be sold off or rented out as well as Higher Bebington library and Woodchurch Library now being used for educational purposes have been recommended to Policy and Resources”