Censoring libraries is hitting stronger all the time – this week we have (1) death threats against US and Irish libraries (2) Devon apparently (the papers reporting it are the Telegraph and Express so it’s not certain) restricting access to Enid Blyton (3) the Mail stoking outrage at a LGBT books in a British school library and a Michigan prosecutor considering an up-to-four-year jail term for a librarian for stocking a book he doesn’t agree with. It’s all pretty sickening.

In other news, some New Zealand politician has come up with the brilliant idea of having volunteer libraries, Scotland is celebrating having a majority of fines-free libraries while at the same time fighting closures in Aberdeen, Cardiff still cutting jobs but by stealth, Hackney’s staff cuts completely accidently wiping out union stewards, Stockport getting a nice new co-located library, Stoke selling off libraries (including one that promptly caught on fire) and a potentially dodgy consultation In Worcestershire. Another normal week in 2023.

National news

  • Death threats and hate mail: America’s drag queen culture wars hit hard in Europe – Euronews. “While those claiming drag shows endanger kids often compare these performances to cabaret and burlesque, drag shows do not inherently involve explicit nudity, and they don’t contain explicit sexual references in the case of storytime events where children are in the audience. On the other hand, storytime events like Drag Queen Story Hour focus on inclusiveness, education, and representation of marginalised groups. But this truth is often lost in the rhetoric circulating among conservative circles …”
  • Enid Blyton books hidden ‘under the counter’ as libraries fret about offensive language – Telegraph. Behind paywall. see also Enid Blyton novels being hidden in libraries in bizarre new woke driver – Express. “Uncensored original versions of some of Blyton’s 700-plus collection have been removed from Devon library shelves and stored in back rooms to prevent the public “stumbling upon” language that is “outdated”. Although listed on the online library catalogue, readers can only get their hands on earlier editions of the texts if they specifically ask librarians for them. At this point they will be verbally given a trigger warning about the language contained within. “
  • Forum 2023 – National Acquisitions Group. May 25, 10am to 4pm. “Tickets now on sale, subsidised to £40 for NAG Members.” see also Public Libraries Project of the Year Grant “5,000 is on offer for one NAG Member public library.  Very simple application process, open to all sorts of projects, why not give it a try?”
  • Public libraries: the local levelling up machines – MJ. Diana Edmonds: behind paywall. “libraries are now playing a crucial role in supporting communities during the cost of living crisis and should be seen as a vital tool within the levelling up agenda.”

Changes by local authority

International news

Local news by authority

  • East Sussex – Poet Laureate Simon Armitage to visit Eastbourne library – Sussex Express. “The E to G Libraries Tour, which runs from March 17 to March 23, is the latest leg of Simon’s ten-year adventure celebrating UK libraries. Using the alphabet as a compass, his journey celebrates the library as one of the great and necessary institutions. Poet Laureate Simon Armitage said: “I want to celebrate the physical space of libraries and take my work back into places that have given me so much.””
  • Hackney – Protest as Hackney Unison chair amongst those handed compulsory redundancies in libraries shake-up – Hackney Citizen. “Council staff staged a protest outside Hackney Town Hall after several library staff, including Hackney Unison Branch Chair Brian Debus, were handed compulsory redundancy notices.” … “Hackney Unison said it was “registering our disgust that three library workers including Hackney Unison Branch Chair Brian Debus are due to be made compulsorily redundant. This despite there being more than enough posts available in the restructured library service.”” … “The council consulted 99 library staff over the changes which see some roles at higher bands and managers caring for several libraries instead of a manager for each. The move is aimed at saving £250,000 from the budget.”
  • Manchester – Central Library anniversary – Manclibraries Blog. “It’s hard to believe that on Friday 22 March we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the rebirth of Central Library after a closure of 4 years to deliver the £48m transformation programme. The library is one of the most loved and iconic places in the city and the success of the transformation is seen by the numbers of people who use the library. “